Pretty Planning – Staying Organized in 2016

Hello all! Hard to believe we’re almost through with January. Where is the time going? With the arrival of a new year comes new goals, new events, and new tasks to keep track of. These days I have to have everything written down or I’ll forget. Despite my best multi-tasking efforts there are far too many details to keep track of. Organization is a must, but something is bound to slip by.

A couple of years ago, my mode of organizing consisted of several notebooks, slips of paper, and dozens upon dozens of Post-it Notes. As you can imagine, having things scribbled down in numerous places was not helpful. I’d tried a few agendas but they didn’t help. They never seemed to have enough room for what I needed, and I became frustrated with them quickly.

I started to do a little research. I needed something I could stick with, and wouldn’t get bored with or want to chuck out the window. Something where I’d have room to jot everything down in an organized manner where I would be able to easily find it later. Where I could keep track of all my tasks, reminders, events, notes, and not have it be the size of an unabridged dictionary. Another problem with previous agendas was that I couldn’t find information when I had to go back to look something up.

In came the planner. I blame Pinterest for my new planner obsession. After working with my new planner, I realized my previous attempts at organization and planning hadn’t worked because, aside the vast number of lists and notes I had, things were always changing, being added, removed, moved, and for that I would need a ring binder. Again, I’d tried one or two, but I found they were too small or the pages too narrow. Also, I wanted something pretty, because well, I like pretty. I love color coordination. I’m artsy, and pretty colors, patterns, and designs are my kryptonite. I have a thing for stationary. Not uncommon among writers.

I came across Simple Stories, and fell in love with their planners. Then in November of 2015, they released their Carpe Diem planner which was exactly what I needed. There were plenty of gorgeous colors to choose from, and they sold a host of coordinating accessories I could use to give my planner a personal touch. Stickers, clips, washi tape—some of you know about my unhealthy obsession with washi.

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Anyway, aside being pretty, the pages were wide enough with plenty of space. I could customize it to fit my needs as an author. It is a hefty planner, but I’m one of those folks who carries a big bag, so the size is just right. Also the clasp keeps things from falling out. There’s also a cut little zip pouch for storage.

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I have several divided sections for things like blogging, marketing, ideas, and release prep so I can easily find this information when I need it. There’s a yearly calendar, a monthly calendar, a weekly, and even a daily. There’s a page every month for a monthly breakdown, birthdays, important dates, goals, and reminders. There are several bookmarks to make access to certain areas quicker. It has pockets, and clips.

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So far, I am completely in love with my planner, and my planner madness has spread to several author friends. It’s become more than just something to scribble things in. If I need a break, I can decorate a page, and it relaxes me. When I get together with author friends, we bring our supplies and it’s really a hoot.

I’ve also finally organized all my planner supplies. It’s at hand on my desk which is finally how I like it.

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These clear plastic boxes are perfect for storing my planner accessories. Number and alphabet stickers, date stamp, washi samples, stickers, and smaller bits, along with the bottom drawers for my favorite and most used washi tapes.  The majority of the storage on my desk is from T.J. Maxx, Homegoods, and Ross, with a few pieces from Zulily.

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I’ve also finished decorating the office with a teal, mint, gold, and white theme with pink accents. For me, being happy with my office makes me feel happy and productive. It took about seven months to get it the way I wanted, but it was worth it. I spend more time in my office than anywhere else, so it made sense to fix it up. I think it fits my style perfectly. <3 So here’s to a shiny new year of pretty planning!

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Weekly News Update

weeklynewsupdateHello all! I know today is supposed to be Book of the Week, but unfortunately I had a few things come up, so we’ll be getting back to that July 18th **updated. This Saturday I’ll be posting the third part of my author web building series: designing your website, since Monday we kick off the Hell & High Water Blog Tour! Woot! Come Monday it’ll be just one week until Hell & High Water is released. 7 days! I’m so excited!

Don’t forget you can get 25% off your eBook preorder of Hell & High Water until June 30th! Then on July 11th, Blood & Thunder will be available for preorder, and we’re celebrating with a Cover Reveal Blitz & Giveaway! There’s also still time to enter the THIRDS swag giveaway over at Lex Chase’s blog. So many giveaways going on!

I just finished the galley to Blood & Thunder and second round of edits on A Rose By Any Other Name–which I have the final fabulous cover for!! I’ll also be receiving edits on Rack & Ruin any day now.

Did you know I have a Cafe Press shop? It’s got all kinds of cute merchandise and there will be plenty more added soon. You can check it out here: http://www.cafepress.com/catspajamasboutique

If there’s a particular series or book you’d love to see designs for, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Just drop a comment here, or send me a message.

I think that’s all the random news for this week. Have a great weekend!

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Heigh ho, Heigh ho, it’s off to write I go

Hello all! As you may have noticed, things are starting to get a little busy around here, and they’re about to get busier. This year, my writing career has officially kicked off. I’ve had to make some sacrifices, but certain circumstances have allowed me the opportunity to write full-time. It’s terrifying yet exciting. Like any job, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Unlike every other job I’ve had in the past, this is the first time I don’t wake up in the morning with a groan. (They don’t call it an evil day job for nothing!)

small_7829361646A lot of folks don’t understand this crazy life of mine, especially friends of the family. They think I lounge around all day in my pajamas, chilling, and doing little else. Although I may indeed lounge around in my yoga pants or pajamas, I’m doing a heck of a lot more than chilling. A part of this misconception has to do with the culture I grew up in. To a lot of these old-school folks, unless you’re doctor, nurse, lawyer, secretary, in pharmaceuticals, or just making a ton of cash, it’s not a real job. It can get frustrating, but I’ve learned not to pay attention to it.

When I decided I was going to take the plunge and do this full-time, I knew I’d be giving it my all. I work from 8 a.m. until midnight, making sure to take appropriate breaks, play with my puppy, make human contact, get exercise, and eat healthy and so on. I take the weekends off, though sometimes when I have a tight deadline I might have to work. See writing full-time, means writing all the time, and I’m not talking about writing books. Before I was published, I wrote, so I’ve been building a book list, plotting out stories, and starting manuscripts.

I now have a writing schedule and tentative release schedule for this year and the whole of next year. This year the releases start in July through Dec (except for Oct), next year they start in Jan through Dec, so there (hopefully) won’t be any big gaps between releases. I’ve learned a lot in the two years I’ve been published and I’m putting that knowledge to use. Like I said before, writing isn’t the half of it. So what’s my to-do list look like? Brace yourself.

  • Edits for Blood & Thunder (we’re on round 3, followed by Galley edits with a tentative release date of Aug 4th)
  • Edits for A Rose By Any Other Name (we’re on round 1, release in Sept)
  • Write blog posts for Hell & High Water release day party
  • Write 10 blog posts for Hell & High Water Blog tour
  • Edits start on Rack & Ruin end of June
  • Rise & Fall manuscript due July 1st
  • Set up he Blood & Thunder Blog Tour & Cover Reveal
  • Facebook chats in July & Aug
  • Twitter Takeover in July
  • Finish the THIRDS website
  • Sort out GRL swag
  • Writing deadlines Jul-Dec
  • Blogging

Aside all that, there’s the emails that come in, my social media accounts I need to manage, and maintain a presence on, several other guest posts and I’m sure there’s stuff I’m forgetting.

small_6574317555I know what some of you may be thinking–those who aren’t hyperventilating–I don’t have to do a good deal of what’s on that list, or I could release less books, but like I said, this is my career. When I worked in management, I worked my butt off, so why would I give any less to something I’m so deeply passionate about? I love writing fiction and love sharing those stories with readers.

Despite all the work that goes into it, I love what I do and I’m lucky to have the support I do–the ones who don’t think I should get a real job. I also have an amazing publisher that works things through with me. If anything gets to be too much, they’re there to help. I make sure to rest and take care of myself, though I have plenty of amazing folks who remind me to come up for air should I need it. So yes, it’s getting busy around here. I hope you’ll join me along for the ride!

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photo credit: fiddleoak via photopin cc
photo credit: thomas.leuther via photopin cc

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Battle of the Sniffles and Update

puppypoxHello all! At the end of last week I was at the Dreamspinner Conference in Portland. Oregon is a long way from Miami for sure. I think the change in weather–I tend to forget everyone else in the country experiences seasons–plus a host of other things–including having gotten back from RainbowCon only three days prior–may have contributed to my coming down with an epic cold/flu/I-don’t-know-what-it-is-but-argh illness. I started flagging Friday night with a sore throat and then it picked up strength a little on Saturday. I didn’t even have coffee at breakfast on Saturday morning. That is the true sign I’m feeling unwell. No coffee. I’m pretty sure there were a few gasps from my fellow authors at my table upon the discovery.

I took plenty of Vitamin C in the hopes of keeping it away until I got home. My bug/virus was very accommodating, penciling me in for a full takeover from Sunday night, the moment I got home. It’s been chicken soup, Vitamin C, liquids, medicine, and vasts amount of (attempted) sleep all week. I managed to get a few bits of work done in between. Last round of edits on Hell & High Water, woo! Done and sent. But before we get into that. The Dreamspinner Author’s Workshop. It. Was. Awesome.

DSPCon200This was my first year attending and my second year with Dreamspinner Press. I have to say that in that time my experience with them has been nothing but fantastic. I enjoyed being there, getting to learn more about the company, how it operates, how it’s doing, all the facts and figures. But mostly, I enjoyed getting to meet the folks who help me bring my books to life. Meeting a lot of the editorial staff who I’m often emailing back and forth, getting to chat with my editors was awesome. I got to meet new people who I’d only chatted to online or through email. I got to hang out with the rest of the Dreamspinner family–my fellow authors.  It was an amazing experience, and I hope I can make it to the workshop every year.

THIRDS logo 500pxNow, updates. Hell & High Water has been moved to an early July release, so about two weeks later than originally estimated. The reason for this is it’s length, book 1 is over 100k as opposed to the rest of the series which runs in from 70-80k. There’s a lot going on in that first book and everyone involved wants it to be as strong a release as it can be. This gives me more time to put together a rockin’ blog tour, a cover reveal, and finish up the website. Blood & Thunder edits should be coming through any day now and A Rose by Any Other Name starts production on May 30th. By then hopefully I’ve had good news on Rack & Ruin. I’m currently working on Vixen’s Valor, North Pole City Tales: Book Three. Lots going on, but I’ll post it as we go. I’m also working on next year’s release schedule, so more on that soon.

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Weekly Update & Fur Baby Pics

Hello all! So I’m a bit behind on Rack & Ruin, THIRDS book 3 but for a good reason. I’ve just had a little bundle of adorableness arrive. His name is Olly and he’s a seven week old pup. The breeder was supposed to have given Olly over at eight weeks but for personal reasons had to give the pups away a week ahead of schedule. He’s tiny. A toy poodle/dachshund mix.

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Today’s his fourth day with me and he’s settling in nicely, though as you can imagine, pup wants to be with his new mommy at all times and protests to his crate training. He thinks it’s play time all the time and I’m resisting coddling him because I don’t want him to develop bad doggie habits. There’s potty training going on though he seems to be a quick learner and by day two he knew exactly where to go to find his water and food bowls. He answers to his name by bouncing over to you and he’s even scratched at the back door to go outside.

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It’s hard to get work done with that little face staring up at you but I’m learning to resist the puppy kryptonite. Hopefully I can catch up this week with major word countage during the day. Olly’s forcing me to be a morning person which is quite a feat considering how often I have to get up in the night to let him out of his crate to go potty. And then of course there’s the hour or so of protesting once I put him back in.

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Okay, on to the update. There’s still time to enter my giveaway over at The Hat Party. Contest ends this Thursday, April 10th at 11:59pm (EST). Just drop by and leave a comment for a chance to win.

On Friday, April 11th is my RainbowCon Blog Tour post over at Joyfully Jay’s and I’m also giving away a swag bag of goodies. So make sure to check out the post and leave a comment.

This week at the Purple Rose Tea House we have guest authors Julie Lynn Hayes and B. Snow with chats on everything from comedy to cats.

Well that’s it for today! There will be a THIRDS update this week.

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Coffee and Porn in the Morning, Newsletter exclusives, and More! *UPDATED*

CharlieRose*Updated* Hello all! There was a little snafu with my guest post, so I’ll let you know if it’s being rescheduled and if so, for when. Thanks so much for your patience! **

I want to thank everyone who’s signed up to my newsletter so far. March’s newsletter contained some THIRDS exclusives and the next two newsletters which will go out before the release of Hell & High Water (April & May’s) will contain even more exclusives, including the Hell & High Water playlist! I’m releasing artwork, background info, excerpts and more, so everyone signed up to the newsletter will get this info before anyone else.  If you haven’t signed up and would like to, you can find it the sign up page here: http://www.charliecochet.com/newsletter/

I’m in the process of putting together a banging blog tour for Hell & High Water. As soon as I have all the details, I’ll post it here and on the Hell & High Water Blog Tour page. There will be some fab prizes and multiple winners, so stay tuned!

There are some great giveaways going on at the moment over at The Purple Rose Tea House from some lovely authors: Jamie Fessenden, Raine O’Tierney, B.A. Tortuga, with more coming soon!

Next week I’m being interviewed by the awesome Rain O’Tierney over at The Hat Party. I’ll be sporting my chapeau and offering a giveaway.
http://raineotierneyhatparty.blogspot.com/

Guest spots & giveaways! Between now and the end of the year I’ll be appearing in several places and offering all kinds of goodies. You’ll find them on the schedule in the sidebar, Make sure to check back because there are plenty more to be added soon.

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THIRDS Update, Book Covers, and General Shenanigans

CharlieRoseHello all! The last few days I’ve been recuperating after (finally!) turning in Blood & Thunder, THIRDS Book 2 in to my publisher over the weekend (plus finishing a whole bunch of other things, -_-). I’m now working on Book 3, and trying to figure out what kind of covers I want for the series [cue ominous music]. Sometimes I know exactly what I want for a cover, and then other times I want to curl up, and weep.

There are so many options to consider before you even get to the content. Like drawn or photo? People or graphics? What kind of style? Then trying to figure out what I actually want on the cover. I’ve been going back and forth for days. Dreamspinner has an awesome art department with equally awesome artists, so that’s not the problem. I’ve just kept drawing a blank. NOW I think I’ve got it. I think my problem was establishing a tone for the covers, because although it’s a romance series, there’s an equal balance of comedy and drama, and I want that to be reflected on the covers. I want the covers to stand out, so I think I may be taking a chance on the road less traveled with these, but hopefully it’ll work.

I’m working on Rack & Ruin, THIRDS Book 3, plus working on production for Book 1. I think with each book I complete, the more nervous I get. I’ve never finished writing a whole series before the first book even gets close to release. I’m also working on the website, and hope to get that up before June.

Now for other news, Some of you may or may not know I did a guest post on Guy Like Romance, Too! where I shared links to Love in Bloom – A Chance & Jacky Valentine’s Day Special. If you missed it, you can still read or download the story from my Free Reads page. http://www.charliecochet.com/free-reads/

As part of my newsletter, I’m including exclusive content for readers, and February’s newsletter included The Perfect Valentine’s Day – A Little Bit of Love Valentine’s Day Special, featuring Trip & Boone. If you fancy signing up to my newsletter, you can do so here: http://www.charliecochet.com/newsletter If you signed up too late to get the Feb newsletter, just let me know you signed up, and would like Feb’s newsletter (drop me an email or fill out the contact form) and I’ll forward you a copy.

Don’t forget, this weekend is my live chat with the fantabulous Amy Lane, and Rhys Ford. We’ll be answering reader questions live on Google Hangouts. So drop by at 5 pm (Eastern Time), this Sat Feb 22nd to see if we answered your questions. I’ll be posting the  direct link as soon as I get it.

There’s still time to submit questions for any or all of us. Just leave them here, on Amy or Rhy’s blog, or the Dreamspinner blog: http://dreamspinnerpress.com/blog/2014/02/10/fireside-chat-february-22/ 

Also, the rights to quite a few of my stories are reverting to me for my Torquere Press books, so they start becoming unavailable from the end of this month. When Love Walked In will become unavailable from around the 27th of Feb, and The Amethyst Cat Caper will become unavailable around the same time. I’m hoping to revisit all my short stories, though I haven’t decided whether to make them longer, and re-release them, or put them together in an anthology. The Amethyst Cat Caper I intend to re-edit, and turn it into a full length novel, but obviously it won’t be re-released until next year.

What do you think? Should I re-edit, extend them to novellas. Or re-edit, and put them together in a short story anthology with a new short story or two?

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2014 and tackling the terrifying TBR list

CharlieRoseLike most readers, I have a TBR list, one that seems to have a life of its own. The books multiply like bunnies. For every one I read, three more take its place. (I blame Dreamspinner Press and their ridiculously amazing sales!) I have eBooks from 2010 and 2011 which I don’t know that I’ll get around to as 2012 and 2013 have produced twice as many eBooks that need reading. Sadly, 2013 was not a good year of reading for me. I read quite a bit, but mostly books on writing or for research.

This year, I’ve decided to try and tackle my ever growing TBR list. Over the weekend, I spent a few hours sorting through my eBook folders. There are A LOT of them. Here’s how I organize them, in case anyone fancies doing something similar. I have an ‘eBooks’ folder in my SkyDrive, and inside that folder, every author who I have at least 3 or more books for gets their own folder. All other eBooks go into a folder labelled ‘Authors’. Then I have a ‘Favorite Authors’ folder, a ‘2012’, and ‘2013’ folder, plus a ‘TBR’ folder. Inside my ‘TBR’ folder is a ‘Priority’ folder. As I read books in my ‘TBR’, they get moved to their respective folders. It’s the only way I can keep track of things. Any non-LGBTQ fiction goes into a separate folder labeled accordingly: Research, Crime Fiction, M/F Romance etc.

I hope to read a lot more fiction than I did last year, and catch up on some books I meant to read ages ago. I’m off to a pretty good start. Here’s what I read this week. All of which I highly recommend!

Piper Vaughn’s – Love Rising
Shira Anthony’s – Stealing the Wind (Mermen of Ea #1)
KJ Charles’s – The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies #1)
KJ Charles’s – Interlude with Tattoos (A Charm of Magpies #1.5)

I’ll probably be adding more of my thoughts on books I enjoyed. I guess you could call them reviews, but I don’t consider myself a reviewer. Despite being a writer, reviews are freakin’ hard, and there’s a lot more to them than just saying I liked or didn’t like something, because I’d consider that more an opinion. My reviews are really more along the lines of fangirl ramblings.

I also don’t give M/M Romance books star ratings. It’s one of those topics that can be debated until everyone’s blue in the face, but personally, I think folks should do whatever feels comfortable for them, and in my case, I don’t feel comfortable rating my fellow authors, so I don’t. I’m not saying authors should or shouldn’t rate/review other authors, I’m just saying I won’t. Now if I like, or love a book, I’m not shy about shouting it from the mountain top. When I read, I read for the sheer enjoyment of it. I read for me.

It’s funny, how despite now being an author, I pretty much still approach books the same way I have all my life. I don’t pick up a book, start reading, and suddenly become its editor. I’m there to enjoy it. I have enough editing to worry about in my own stories without worrying about what was missed in someone else’s. I may notice things I hadn’t noticed before, or have names for all the structural elements that compose a story, but when I pick up a book, the author stays behind, and the reader takes over. I want to be swept away by the story, the characters, the world, and the emotions. If the story succeeds in that respect, I’d call it a winner. As long as it piques my interest, I’ll read any genre. I do however, need coherency. If I’m reading a book, and something in the writing jars me out of the story every other paragraph, I’m not likely to continue. It’s been a long time since I’ve come across a book that’s done that.

Right now I’m reading Jordan L Hawk’sStormhaven (Whyborne & Griffin #3), which I LOVED the first two by the way, and I have a couple of eBooks lined up after that. I’m aiming for at least three eBooks a week, depending on schedules and length of books. There’s also a few new releases coming out this month which I’m looking forward to: Hayley B. James’s – Polyester Prince (ABQ Heat #2), and KJ Charles’s – A Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies #2)

What are you reading at the moment?

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New Year, New Look, New Goals!

CharlieRoseHello all! I hope everyone had a safe and merry New year’s Eve. It’s hard to believe another year has gone by. I don’t know why it’s so exciting to be staring down at another year, or why we get the feeling of everything being shiny and new. (If you’re reading this on Goodreads, it’s probably destroyed my lovely layout, so I apologize if there are roses all over there place.)

As you may have noticed, the website has changed some. I’m one of those annoying people that needs change every so often or I go nuts. So despite my crazy schedule, I needed to give the website and the Tea House a makeover. I wasn’t crazy about the old purple color scheme for the Tea House, so I changed the hues, and I love the colors much better now. I added a little more pink and white to my personal site here because it was too blue, and I like the way the salmon color makes it pop a little. Anyway, I hope you like it!

Okay, 2014. What’s in store? OMG LOADS! Check out my crazy goals. Of course this doesn’t account for all those random things that pop up during the year. I think I may just need to get my coffee hooked up to me by IV.

One of the main things I’m working on is the THIRDS series which I’ve mentioned. I have a tentative schedule, and if all goes well, the first four books will be out this year between June and Dec. It’s a Contemporary/Alternate History Shifter series centering around two agents: Dexter J. Daley “Dex” (Human), and Sloane Brodie (Therian a.k.a Shifter). They’re all full length novels. The first one came in roughly around 103k, but I’m not sure the others will be that long. First book is submitted, and now I’m working on the second, due by the 1st of Feb *fingers crossed*. I am SO excited about this series, and I’m having so much fun with these guys.

I’m also putting together a website for this series because there are playlists for all the books, lots of characters, I’m planning at least two spin-offs, plus loads of other stuff (Dex’s shenanigans alone means these guys need their own blog), so there’s no way all that could fit in here, plus it has a dark color scheme that doesn’t fit in with all the pink and baby blues. So, 4 full length novels, plus whatever crazy blog tours, parties, running around like crazy person their releases will entail. We’re talking BIG here people!

At some point I have to fit in Hunter’s book, and the next book in the North Pole City Tales series with Vixen and Vale.

I’m also hoping to get a thumbs up from Dreamspinner on A Rose by Any Other Name: Fallen Rose series, Book 2 (Julius’s book). *more crossed fingers*

There’s also my backlist titles which I’ll be getting the rights back to, and I’d like to fix them up, but that may have to wait.

I’ll be attending RainbowCon, and fingers crossed that I can get into GRL as an author this year. Last year I went as a reader and it was AWESOME, but I’d really like to go as an author this year, so we’ll see.

Obviously mixed up in there is writing, editing, releases, promoting, jury duty, book artwork, web stuff, and… I’m gonna stop there before I scare myself.  2014 Woot!

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