Friday, May 24, 2013

Pipe Cleaners and Spaghetti Noodles with Guest Pepper Basham

I live in a Category 3 world. Hurricane levels. As a wife, mom, professional, and wannabe writer, life is overflowing most days. Only the slightly imbalanced need apply. 

To my mind, it’s all about pipe cleaners and spaghetti noodle thinking.

Yeah, yeah – what on earth am I talking about?

Well, I’m going to take you into a very scary place. MY BRAIN! 

So, what is the main difference between a pipe cleaner and an uncooked spaghetti noodle?
Pipe cleaners are FLEXIBLE

Uncooked Spaghetti noodles are…NOT.

Some brains are born more flexible than others. Some are forced to become more flexible by adding heat and water ;-) (aka Trials and Experience)

Flexibility is KEY. People with an uncooked spaghetti noodle brains have a difficult time thinking outside the box or their routine. Their world needs to function in a specific way, follow a specific plan, and look a specific way by the end of the day.

Unfortunately, for the writer who has much more going on than just writing (which is most of us), there are plenty of things in life that do NOT go as planned. Things which jump into our worlds and shake up that well-thought agenda. 

Writing CAN happen – even in chaos, but you have to be a flexible thinker.

Repeat after me:

Think like a pipe cleaner! Think like a pipe cleaner!

Or add some trials and experience and think like a wet noodle 

Here are 5 tips to increase your flexible thinking/writing skills.

1.    Big Deal vs. Little Deal

 How good are you at determining the ‘size’ of the deal? If you haven’t honed something’s priority level, now is a GREAT time to start. There are some things that are worth you dropping your pen for, and other things that aren’t.

Can it wait until you’ve finished your word count? Is it an emergency? What are the consequences if you wait until your time frees up? Make your response fit the size of the deal to save on writing time. Everything does NOT have to happen ‘right now’.

2.    Time Stealers vs. Just Desserts

Just like I started keeping a food journal to help me count calories, I also started keeping a time stealer journal to see where I could weed out unnecessary distractors. Time is VITAL for me. I don’t have much of my own personal time. Most of it belongs to other people – my hubby, kids, employer, parents of the kids I serve, conference planners, etc. But how do I use what little I DO have?

Some typical Time Stealers are – T.V., Social media, reading, T.V., web-surfing, T.V. ;-) 

You get the point. 

None of these are bad things, but they can become time stealers REALLY quickly. I think many of us have become experts of procrastination, and kicking procrastination where it hurts can really free up some time for your JUST DESSERTS (aka WORDS on a page!!)

But again – we can’t FIX the problem, if we don’t IDENTIFY the problem. The doors of Time Stealers Anonymous are open now

We all love dessert – and getting that story done is like a triple fudge cake a la mode! How can you take back your time and enjoy SWEET success?

3.    Positive Self-Talk vs. Nasty Naysayers

Optimism is a powerful tool. Realistic optimism, that is. Telling yourself, or sharing with a friend, your writing goals can be a powerful tool to keep you motivated. However, as strong as positive planning can be, negativity can hit twice as hard.  A trusted set of encouraging people around you will help fight the naysayers and refocus you when you get off track, can really help motivate you to keep your plan. 

Life happens, though. We all know it does – and plans have to take detours (or the scenic route). Don’t beat yourself up and then lose even more momentum! Get out the GPS (God’s Planning System) and figure out how to revise your plan, reroute your ideas, or restart the project. Positivity leads to forward momentum. God has given you skills to use for His glory, that’s about as positive as it gets!!

4.    Time Snatching Techniques 

We all have the same amount of time – it’s just how we use it that makes the difference. Not only do each of us have time stealers, we also have unique ways of ‘snatching’ time. For me, I write in snippets – thirty minutes during a lunch break, ten minutes between finishing with kid homework and starting supper, fifteen minutes before walking into my office a few mornings a week. 

Whether it’s brainstorming, daydreaming about the next scene of a novel, or actually writing a few sentences or paragraphs, each of those snippets add to my story.

But thanks to technology, I’ve discovered cooler ways! I use a free app called Novel Idea to audio record dialogue, scene notes, or brainstorming notes when I don’t have access to pen and paper (or my laptop). I have a forty-five minute drive to my first clinic on Monday mornings, which is a prime opportunity to record scene notes. The notes are turned into print which I can email to myself. It’s an awesome time-snatching tool. I use it while in carpool or drive-thru lines too.

I also use a vBookzPDF, which reads PDF books out-loud. I use this feature when driving to hear the content and listen for flow of the story (It cost $4.99 for the voice). I use Shelfster for quick notes, photos, etc – to be categorized for research.

5.    Sprinkling mistakes with grace

Finally something we should ALL remember because we ALL need it so badly. GRACE.
No plan is full-proof and no person is perfect. We’re going to spend too much time on FB some days, or get distracted by blog hopping, or procrastinate with a movie, or stare out the window with a brain-bleached look on our faces. Uncooked-noodle-thinkers have a tendency to beat themselves up, and maybe even get off track altogether, but the best thing we can do is remember – WE ALL NEED GRACE!!!!

My granny used to say “Life is hard. We all break things or get broken. There are two important things to remember: Pray…and then do the next thing.”

Praying gets your perspective in the right direction, motivation puts feet onto those prayers.

So…think like a pipe cleaner! When you fail, pray…and do the next thing 

In my way of thinking, the heart of managing time well is adapting to your way of thinking + your life + your motivations + recognition of your weaknesses. Throw in a little modern day technology and a whole lot of encouragement from people like the Seekers, and it’s surprising how much more you can accomplish.

What are some time stealers and time snatchers in your life? What are ways you ‘think like a pipe cleaner? Do you have any cool App ideas to share?

Seekerville is giving away a $10.00 iTunes gift card so you can get your own app. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Pepper Basham writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. In the wee small hours of the morning, she spends time talking to her imaginary friends and writing stories about them. She writes a variety of genres, but enjoys sprinkling her native culture of Appalachia in them all.  She won the Award of Excellence at Blue Ridge and the Inspy Category of the TARA in 2010, and double-finaled in ACFW’s Genesis in 2011. She currently resides in Johnson City, TN where she works as a university instructor, searches for unique hats to impress her friends, and plots new ways to annoy the wonderful ladies at Seekerville. You can find her on her personal blog, Words Seasoned With Salt¸ or at her group writing blog, The Writers Alley. She is extremely blessed to be represented by 2012 ACFW Agent of the Year, Nicole Resciniti.


  1. So much joy here, especially that bio! WAHOOO! Go Pepper!

    Thrilled to read this post today in Seekerville. :)

    Hadn't heard that previously. Definitely must employ GPS more often.

    Wonderful resources you mentioned too. Thanks!

    Time stealers for me - social media (which partially IS work but... I am easily distracted by bright shiny objects. And Schnauzers. Drat!)

    Thanks much for an excellent reality-check. Never thought I'd WANT to be a wet noodle, but I can see it now. ;)

  2. Wow, gorgeous post!

    And I love that picture of your family. :) I don't usually see professional writer photos that look sort of like my family... plus another boy.

    Let's see. I think my time stealers have to do with reading. I can't NOT read. I must read. But where I usually read 5 books a week, when I'm working hard on a project I realize that the very bare minimum has to suffice. Maybe a book a week, in fifteen minute bits before the writing time.

    Pepper, this post really made me smile. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful thoughts!

  3. I seriously love your apps. I am in app heaven.

    And welcome back to Seekerville, Giggles.

  4. Great post, Pepper! I love how you posted the Alleycats! My biggest time stealer is my PHONE!!! And not talking on it-- facebook, email, twitter at my fingertips. Took those apps off today...hoping to indulge in some dessert now!

  5. What a lovely family, Pepper! Thanks for the app ideas. Definitely going to download them. Great post! Thanks!

  6. Pepper! What a beautiful family you have!

    I loved your post today and thank you so much for the link to Novel Idea and your other links as well. I'm all for organization.

    Have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  7. Pepper, I had to stop by Seekerville today because I knew you were posting!

    I've got a book due and was forced to turn off everything this week except writing. Hated to go cold turkey, but sometimes we have to do the hard things to get the work done. Right?

    Love your idea of a time stealer journal!

    What a beautiful family! Oh my gosh, your children are so precious. Don't know how you do it all.

    I brought breakfast. Egg and sausage casserole, biscuits with honey, fresh fruit and grits! Grabbing a plate, along with another cup of coffee!

  8. Welcome Pepper,

    I'm supposed to be getting an iphone today, and I am definitely going to get that Novel App.

    I can't wait to discover other new apps.

    I already know my time snatchers for the summer. One of the pharmacists is having knee replacement surgery this summer and will be out of work for 8 weeks. So I'll be working some of her hours.

    Here's the good one, my youngest son is home from college, plus he's going to Spain for the fall semester. SEMESTER! August until Christmas. So I want to spend some time with him this summer. Between our jobs it won't be easy.

    You're right about the trials in life making us more flexible. I'm now one of the most flexible people around.

    Thanks for sharing today, and I can't wait to read everybody's favorite apps.

    Jackie L.

  9. What a great picture of your family, Pepper. Thanks for showing us that.

    Pipecleaner, huh?
    Some days I think I'm more like a spaghetti noodle that's been cooked until it's MUSH!!!

  10. First things first -- your family is beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are richly blessed.

    Loved this post -- curious about you dictating scenes etc. Did you find it hard to do that at first? I'm always pressed for time and I tried recording instead of writing when I was walking or working at 'brainless' jobs, but I found my brain just froze and I couldn't get any words out. It was awful! I even tried recording while walking my dog and that's usually when my words just flow but I couldn't put a voice to them. Weird.

    My biggest time stealer these days is a very, very, very, long commute on multiple buses. Now that we're finally into mittenless weather, I've started carrying around a little notebook with me and jotting things down.

  11. Tina, do we have a Seekerville App?

    And btw, what the heck is an app?

    :( The woman time left behind.

  12. Good morning! Just getting into my office after morning madness with the kiddos (for the LAST day of school!!!!)
    For them
    Not me

    When Tina asked me to write a post on Time Management I LAUGHED outLOUD.
    I'm the most disorganized person I know!
    But she said there are other people who might benefit from my general disposition toward chaos, so here ya go :-)

  13. KC,
    Shiny things distract me too.
    So do delicious smelling things.
    There's a book out called All Dogs have ADHD...I'm pretty sure I have much more canine in me than feline :-) LOL

  14. Virginia,
    So glad I could add a smile to your day!
    And isn't being a Mom FANTASTIC! I LOVE IT!!!!

    Reading is certainly a great 'distraction' for a writer. We can tout it as research ;-)

  15. Oh - and thanks for all the sweet comments about my family.
    I'm truly TRULY blessed!!!

  16. Tina,
    I LOVE being here. Because I live in a more rural part of TN there aren't a lot of other writers to buddy-up with. Seekerville was the FIRST place in this writing business where I found a 'home'. You gals are phenomenal. I can't express in words how much you've impacted me (and that says a lot coming from a woman who gets paid for talking!!!!)

  17. Love you, ANG!!!
    The Alleycats are DEFNITELY my support/encouragement!

    Imaginary friends are GREAT, but real ones are even better!

    (and my phone is definitely a distraction too. Like everything else, when used well, it's a fantastic tool - when used poorly it hurts us!)

  18. Btw, Anyone use the App Evernote!
    It's FANTASTIC!!!! I started using it last week to organize stuff - (and I type the word organize with a loose definition in mind). Really like it!!

  19. Thanks, Lyndee
    Hope the Apps are helpful. Like everything else, they have to fit what you need and your way of thinking.
    These fit mine :-)

  20. CindyW,
    Thanks! You have a beautiful famly too.

    And if you're an organized person by nature, you're going to love these Apps!!

  21. Oh DEBBY!!!!
    You are so SWEET!!!!
    Thank you for breakfast. Yum! Good and southern ;-)

    And thank you for taking time out the say 'hi' to me today. Seekerville rocks the blog!

  22. Jackie,
    Good point!
    There are good time stealers too - but that's where the big deal vs little deal idea comes into play.

    Boy, don't those trials and experiences bend us! They really teach us the importance of priorities, especially if we're paying attention :-)

    I hope you get to spend lots of time with your son. What a blessing to get to study in SPAIN!!! Oh heavens! Love the thought!

  23. Oh Mary,
    You're so funny.
    But I totally get it! My brain feels like mush a lot too. Thankfully a good night's sleep, a good swift kick from Mama Ruthy (and the right meds...Just kidding) get me back on track.

    Btw, you DO know that you were the first Seeker I ever met, right? And you introduced me to the fantastic place and wonderful people! May the Lord bless you for that - even if you sort of regret it now ;-)

  24. Evernote is on my to do list.

    My to do list is a monkey on my back.

    But I can at least figure out apps while waiting in line so they serve a useful function.

  25. Thanks, Kav.

    About the recording:
    In this case I think practice makes much better. My first few attempts were fairly crummy! But the more I practiced it (usually with the 'right' type of music playing in my car in the background) the better I became.

    I'm impressed you tried it while walking your dog. I'm pretty sure I would have landed on my face while trying to think, record, and walk my dog at the same time ;-)

    A notebook is a great idea. I used to use a notebook a lot more than I do now. Lots of time I'll pull out my iPad now and jot stuff into EverNote (another App)

  26. Mary Connealy! Are you serious?!?

  27. Tina,

    Evernote is really nice. And YES, at least I feel like I'm doing something productive while learning how to use them. :-)

    I'm sure most of these apps can be used in a more complex way than how I use them, but they're definitely serving a purpose right now.

    I've started using A Novel Idea for a LOT more - breaking down the scenes, filling out SOME of the character description - but the overall organization of it is fantastic.

  28. Hi Pepper!

    Great post!

    All in all, I'd much rather be a pipe cleaner - flexible before simmering in the trials and tribulations (aka hot water). Because if we aren't flexible enough, God will make sure we get that way :)

    And a beautiful family!

    But when it comes to apps, I'm like Mary. The woman time left behind. Or more like the woman who was too busy paying attention to something else while time kept marching forward....

  29. Oh, I forgot to say, I love, love, love your granny's quote:
    My granny used to say “Life is hard. We all break things or get broken. There are two important things to remember: Pray…and then do the next thing.”

    A good thing to remember!

  30. Pepper, first off, you have a lovely family! How in the world do you get anything done with the pitter-patter of all those feet running around?! You are my hero!!

    Time snatchers are such an annoyance. But they're so much fun, too. I've had to put deep restrictions on my social media, blogging, and loop time. Once this ADD brain is distracted...well, it's all down hill from there.

    I love the apps you've mentioned. Unfortunately, my phone is dumber than I am. I'm seriously resisting a smart phone (see above regarding time snatchers.) If I had a smart phone, I doubt I'd be using it as a phone at all!!

    What a wonderful post for a fabulous Friday. Just desserts R Us in Seekerville, so I'm dropping off a huge bowl of strawberries and angel food cake for a light snack to enjoy through out the day. And don't forget a dollop of whipped cream on top!

  31. Thanks, Jan.
    (And another BIG congrats on your book, btw ;-)

    My Granny was my best friend and she CERTAINLY learned to be flexible in some really hot water!!
    Thankful God loves us enough to teach us, because life is a lot more manageable and joyful when we learn to think flexibly :-)
    (That's what I keep telling my kids with Autism ALL. OF. THE. TIME)

  32. Thanks for the WONDERFUL dessert, Audra!
    I completely get the 'distraction' card! Play it WAY too often for my own good. But there's also a lot of teaching that goes on with it too.
    God continues to help me learn self-discipline (the LEAST ripe fruit on my spiritual vine)

    And I JUST got my iPhone in December. It is distracting, but when used well it's given me a LOT more writing time than I had before.

  33. DEBBY, thanks for the breakfast, I love egg and sausage casserole! I make a version of it for Christmas morning so we'll have a hot meal without a hassle.
    PEPPER, good points. I don't go on Facebook any more, at least not to read other people's posts. I post my own stuff and read the responses, but I don't troll the home page any more.
    TV, that's a problem. Not so much now that Nashville and The Middle are done for the season (I can REALLY relate to Frankie Heck), but I'm stuck on the oldies channels, Lucy and Beaver and Barney Fife. Must work on that.
    Downton Abbey Does.Not.Count.
    Also appreciate the angel food cake, I'm a diabetic now an am looking for lower sugar desserts. It never stops.
    Have a great holiday weekend!
    Kathy Bailey
    Pre-pubbed in New Hampshire

  34. My day job is DEAD until Tuesday morning, that gives me the whole weekend to WRITE!
    Kathy Bailey

  35. We learnt about time steelers when studying business admin.
    we also kept the journal for a day or so to see where we wasted time. Its amazing how much can be wasted. I know when away I use the internet much less and dont really miss it.

  36. Love this, Pepper! I must be flexible like a pipe cleaner.

    If only I was as thin.... lol

    I'm easily distracted by any task that seems mega important. Got an appointment with the tax preparer at 9am today. Those kinds of things tend to take a couple of hours out of the day, and it just steals the time completely away.

    Yesterday was errand day: grocery, gas, lawn mower gas, Post office. If I had known about this appointment, I would have scheduled all of that today and did it all at once. Alas, now I have to go to town AGAIN.


  37. Kathy,
    Downton Abbey NEVER counts as a distraction!!! Happy Writing!!! Enjoy the time!

  38. Wow, Pepper, I loved this!! I especially love your time stealer journal. I'd love to hear more on that. :)

    Time stealers for me = too many commitments outside the home. I'm committing to change that, especially once the next school year begins. FB and blog hopping are my other biggies. I'm taking this summer to figure out how to create better habits regarding these. :)

    My kids are home for the first day of summer, so I'm signing off for now. Hoping to stop by later.



    Two words in and your style reaches out and wraps the reader in a great big hug!! Cannot WAIT until you are published, girlfriend. I know, I know ... you can't either. :)

    EXCELLENT POINTS, especial the prayer and the time-snatching techniques!!

    Your pic on FB in the car with the kids is adorable too. Can definitely see why you have to take your writing time snatches when you can get it. One busy lady you are, for darn sure!!

    Hugs and Happy Weekend!!

  40. Jenny,
    You are so right how easily time can get stolen from us.
    Or how much time we GIVE away in the wrong areas.

  41. Pam,
    Oh man, I LIVE there!!!
    I think if I was naturally more organized I might condense time more and save on 'running back to town' moments, but I'm learning - and that's where the GRACE element comes in :-)
    And a healthy sense of humor. Should have added that one too!

  42. Oh Jeanne - you are such a sweetheart!
    Yeah, I know about those commitments outside the home. Some are needed. Some are not!
    I'm learning how to use the word 'no' more efficiently - in a nice, southern, bless-your-heart kind of way.

    Have fun with those kiddoes!!!!

  43. Thanks Jules,
    You are such an encourager!
    I love my mad-hatter HAT - it actually really fits my 'life' well :-)
    A 'don't sweat the small stuff' kind of hat!
    i think being a mom of a herd, working with kids who have special needs, and dealing with various trials really helps teach us prioritization in ways little else could!

    And I pray, it also helps teach me to ENJOY the journey - as detoured, chaotic, and difficult as it may be!

  44. Btw, Jeanne
    About that Time Stealer Chart:
    I made a little list of time and activity for about four days, then reviewed it. When I would switch an activity, i'd make a quick mark about it - just like a did with my food journal.
    I didn't catch EVERY time stealer the first two days, but by the fourth day I was starting to see my patterns.

    I've backed off of FB and am trying to get a consistent schedule for blogging. I'm also making better use of snatching time when I see opportunities for it.
    My 13 year old always needs help with Math - so I sit at the dining room table while he does his math (ready to help), but with pen or laptop available too.

  45. What a fantastic, fun post, Pepper!! Thank you (and I'm really impressed by all you accomplish, whew).

    As others have mentioned, you have a precious family! Enjoy every moment while your kiddos are still living at home (REALLY--I'm very serious here) because before you know it they'll be grown *sniff*.

    And...I brought a BIRTHDAY CAKE to share, because today is DEBBY GIUSTI'S BIRTHDAY!!! Happy Birthday dear friend!!

    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

  46. Good morning, Pepper & Seekers! And Happy Birthday, Debby!!! Another great May birthday person!

    Love this post! I am so in awe of all you do, Pepper. And anyone with multiple children, or young children.

    My life had a big curve this winter when my 16-yr-old son took sick with chronic, constant migraines. My world compressed to my day job (half days) and looking after him.

    But somehow I managed to keep up with all my editing. Probably a good thing I wasn't trying to be creative and start a new wip. Anyway, praise God, he is better and back at school, after 4 months in a dark room. Talk about hibernation!

    My time wasters are the same as everyone else - TV, Facebook, and checking blogs!

    Oh, and Mary is not alone. I have an antique cell phone which I barely use and which has (gasp) a flip cover. Don't use apps or any other things like that. Texting takes me three times longer than normal because I have to hit each number 3 times to get the letter I want! So I do very short messages! Ex. Where r u? LOL!

    Have a great day!

  47. Happy Birthday Debby Giusti. You are only 21 once! or twice.

  48. Fun post, Pepper! Love the hat, love the family photo!

    And love the app suggestions!!!

    I use Evernote regularly. It's where I save any interesting info I may need someday. Like ideas for blog posts. Other authors' marketing tips. The pets' health notes. All kinds of stuff. I love that it syncs from computer to iPhone to iPad, so whatever I need to look up is right there wherever I am.

    A Novel Idea sounds fun! It looks like a handy way to make good use of time snippets when I'm away from the computer.

    For Scrivener users, Simplenote is another useful app, since you can sync your Scrivener files with Simplenote for editing or writing away from the computer. I think I read somewhere that they're developing an actual Scrivener app. Can't wait!

  49. Hi PEPPER, Welcome to Seekerville. Its fun to have you again. And I LOVE LOVE the picture. Love seeing your family, How sweet.

    And pipe cleaners--wet noodles. Oh my. I"m afraid I'm such an uncooked noodle. sigh. Well you helped identify the problem. Thanks

    Have fun today.

  50. Hi Pepper:

    Love the hat!

    Wear a different hat in the author photo for each book and you’ll stand out in a crowd of authors at once. Wear such a hat at any writer’s conference and fans will be able to spot you at once – even if you are a hundred yards away! I’d love to be your marketing guy. (More on this later).

    Apts are good.

    Actually writing is better.

    The greatest time stealers are time saving devices.

    (Every time someone invents a new time saving device, someone else dumps more work on you because now you have extra time to get more done!)

    Learning a new apt should be the reward for finishing your next chapter. Not chocolate. Chocolate should be used as an immediate reward. You should allow yourself to eat chocolate only when you are actually writing. One bite per page.

    Do you have a craving for chocolate? Fine. Man the keyboards! It’s just a matter of getting the horse before the cart. Use bad habits to produce good results. (I was once a professional dog trainer. Pavlov had it right!)

    Again: I’d love to be your marketing guy! You have so much potential. You could be famous in a very short time with just a little enlightened effort.

    Here’s the plan:

    All your books should have a spice mentioned in the title.

    Very few authors do this. Think: Sue Grafton (A is for Alibi, etc). Janet Evanovich “One for the Money” ect) John D. MacDonald. (Colors in each title for Travis McGee).

    How many authors have titles that by themselves let fans know that they wrote them? Priceless.

    If you are writing Christian books, I suggest you go to the ‘left’ of Julie Lessman, that is, a little closer to the edge of the abyss, and call your writing “Spicy Christian Fiction”. This should get you an explosion of publicity.

    Now, I’m not talking about more explicit writing. No, rather, it’s just that the heroines use chemical warfare – aroma therapy, perfumes, even cooking odors that remind the hero of the favorite meals his mother used to cook when he was a child. Oh, and great cooking itself! All this sensual spiciness simply renders the heroes helpless.

    Christian Romances Peppered by Passion.

    I want to order the books right now!

    What do you think? : )


    P.S. Did anyone notice I wrote a whole post and did not mention New York?

  51. Okay, I'll come back in a little bit write more but Vince
    I would hire you in a heartbeat!!@!

    do you work for free???
    can I pay you in chocolate!!!
    And you're idea of reward for each page is PRICELESS!!!

    Actually, I do write on the ledge ;-) with Julie Lessman!!!

    Maybe that should be my tagline
    "On the ledge with Julie Lessman"

  52. Hi Pepper! your family is gorgeous! I'm amazed at how much you do and still find time to write! Thanks for the tips to keep me and my brain flexible. I do stretches to keep me limber. Gotta stretch my thinking too. The apps you mention sound fantastic! I'm going to look at those!!


  53. PattiJo!
    Thanks for the reminder about the kiddoes! Oh my goodness, I've loved EVERY developmental stages (except the first 3 know, Nights of the Living DEAD, stuff)

    I'm so thankful for those great kids of mine!


  54. Susan,
    I'm so thankful your son is feeling better. When our kids get really sick, it hits HARD, doesn't it?

    Apps aren't for everyone, but I've really found they DO help me with my time! Not a lot of them, btw - I think that would support what Vince was saying about them. Too many could also be TOO distracting!
    But nothing should be done in excess - except love - so the right amount has worked well for me :-)

  55. Myra,
    I always admire you!
    I stare so longingly at those wonderful charts and graphs you send and think..."Wow, wouldn't that be amazing to use."
    And then something shiny or tasty comes by and I'm totally distracted ;-)

    How much do good intentions matter? I get a few points for those, don't I??

    Evernote has been such a great tool! It's simple and quick. Fits into my life and brain pretty well :-)

  56. Thanks, Sandra!

    Identifying the problem? Isn't that how we fix them? :-)

    There are a few things I'm VERY uncooked noodle about.
    They mostly involve brands of food! :-)

  57. Vince,
    I'm still cracking up over your comment! LOVE IT!!!!!!

    And I'm determined now to pack hats for conferences. I know I have 1 for each day. Mad Hatter, Jack Sparrow, Cat in the Hat... Hmm, I have a few nice ones too. Very Downton Abbey-ish ;-)

    And my tagline right now is Blue Ridge Romance peppered with grace and humor
    But sprinkling some passionate words in there works for me because I DO love to write passion! Just ask Julie!

    Not sure how spices would work out in my titles, though. I DO write contemp romantic comedy, so the idea works - but I'm not too sure about putting words like Cumin and Nutmeg into my title will work ;-) LOL

    Maybe Thyme! Salt, Sage ;-)
    My current CR on submission, I could change the name from A Twist of Faith to A Twist of Thyme!!! Or A Thyme of Faith.
    Oh dear...

  58. Hey Janet!
    Oh you are such a lovely person! Always!
    I'll be curious what you think about those apps.

  59. Boy, do I have everyone fooled!!!

    You think I actually USE all those charts and graphs???

    No!!! They're just for decoration!!!!

    See, I like pretending I have effective systems to help me write more productively, but in truth I am a consummate pantser. The charts and graphs usually get filled in as I write, and mainly serve as reference points for staying consistent with character descriptions, synopsis, etc.

  60. This is great. I have to write in the morning or nothing gets done. 8-10AM and then I can go on with my day.

    If I try the rest of the day, I am distracted by too much. And I don't even watch television!

    Thanks for an excellent post.

    Peace, Julie

  61. Myra,
    You just made my day! ;-)
    Now I can use all of your lovely charts and graphs for decoration too and feel very productive int he process.

  62. PEPPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry I didn't get here earlier, my friend [or, you know, read any of the comments to see what a hard time Ruthy is giving you], but you know what kind of day I've got.

    I gotta be kind of uncooked pasketti today. Too much to do to go with the flow. Though there's plenty of that going on too. We leave in about four hours for our first family vacation in over a decade. I'll wave at all y'all as we go through your states.

    But you're right. Your mind is a very scary place.

    Thank you for sharing it with me from time to time. You mean more than you'll ever know ;).

    Or maybe you will.

    I'll tell you with cookies :D.


    Back to work. Will try to stop in later.

    Next week?

    All about pipe cleaners.

  63. Another brilliant Pepper post! I love this idea of the pipe cleaners and spaghetti noodles-- so true! I really have a tendency to mentally beat myself up for not making my goals, so this is such a refreshing perspective. Thanks for sharing, Pep!

  64. that Novel Idea ap sounds awesome. will HAVE to check that out. perfect visuals for today's post. i'm going to strive for being a pipe cleaner over a wet noodle... i have an aversion to trials.

    hmmm, but as i ponder, i'm probably alreaddy a bit of both.

    my current time stealer is the 'Net. sometimes my brain is so tired from work, i haven't the energy to do the stuff i know i SHOULD be doing.

    absolutely love grandmother's advice. the older i get, the wiser those mature ladies were/are.

  65. Such wonderful and practical wisdom here, Pep! Time stealing journal... yep, adding that stat! And I'm fairly certain I'll never think of GPS the same again. Thank you for that! :) Love you!

  66. Hi Pepper! Thanks for the great tips on time management. I have been HORRIBLE with it for the past few months because my day job is very demanding, but anytime I can snatch a few minutes of writing time in is time well spent. Luckily, I have Fridays off in the summer, and I already have a plan to write at least for a few hours each Friday. That's the plan, anyway.

    Congrats on landing Nichole as your agent. Hope to see your name on a book jacket soon!

  67. Fantastic post, Pepper! I agree, writing in snippets throughout the day is a great way to stay on track. Love the photo of your beautiful family!

  68. Fantastic post, Pepper! I agree, writing in snippets throughout the day is a great way to stay on track. Love the photo of your beautiful family!

  69. Hi Pepper, thanks for the advice. Wasting time is probably my worse sin. I can't use the Apts. I'm a flip-phone type of gal, but I do have a schedule on a blackboard so I can easily change it when I get behind, which is often.

    Your hat reminded me of the Cat in the Hat. Dr. Seuss is one of my top five authors of all times. What a philosopher!

    Happy Birthday, Debby. Been missing you this week.

  70. VINCE SAID: "I suggest you go to the ‘left’ of Julie Lessman, that is, a little closer to the edge of the abyss ..."

    LOL ... Vincent Mooney -- are you calling me "left" wing and close to the abyss???

    PEPPER SAID: "On the ledge with Julie Lessman"

    LOL, PEP ... there's only room for one of us up on this ledge, and as uncoordinated and afraid of heights as I am, something tells me I'm the one who will fall off!!


  71. LOL...oh goodness...Pepper in her FUN hat,waving pipe cleaners and wet noodles everywhere. I can just feel the chaos. I so wanna be a fly on your wall for a day.

    My I? Pretty please????

  72. Pepper, I remember meeting you but I don't think I knew I was first.

    And of course I'm kidding about the, combined with all the Granny references has made me hungry for pie made with granny smith apples, though.

    And the last time I bought a new cell phone, which was less than a year ago, I showed the kid in the Verizon store my current phone which is very snazzy with a sliding thing that reveals a QWERTY keyboard behind the phone.

    He saw it and he said (so glum) "Oh, you've got one of THOSE?"

    I think he saw a smart phone sale in his future and he was DOOMED to disappointment.

  73. Pepper you are without a doubt an amazing woman. Talented, and smart and beautiful and with a heart for God.

    Other than your elevator attacks I'd say you are Pepper-erfect.

  74. Wonderful post, Pepper. Great reminders to stay focused with our writing and do the job God has called us to do. Exactly what I needed to hear as I spend a weekend praying about the next step in my writing career.

    Blessings to you and your sweet family.

    Jodie Wolfe

  75. Pepper—I forgot to mention two things earlier. First, your family is so photogenic! Secondly, you inspire me. If you can do the writing you do with all your real-life commitments, then surely I can figure more time into my days writing. Thanks again for sharing!

  76. Great post, Pepper---and a lovely family picture! I'm so trying to be FLEXIBLE! Loved your GPS--God's Planning System! Thank you!

  77. Julie,
    It's sounds like you already have a GREAT plan that works for you!

  78. Hey Carol!
    Happy travels.

    Yes, my brain. Boldly go where few have dared go before.

    It's definitely like a really fun amusement park in here!
    Kind of like where you're going!


    Oh people, if you can find encouragers along your writing road ANYWHERE close to these Seekers or my wonderful ALLEYCATS - KEEP THEM!

    They are certainly soul-sisters (or brothers in Vince's case) along this writing journey!

  80. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Debby. Thanks to everyone bringing treats. Yum!

  81. DebH,
    Bless you, girl.
    We ALL have an aversion to trials, I think - but it's usually within those that we learn the most.
    I'd say if you're a mom, you got some pipecleaner brain already developing ;-) Kids have a way of doing that to us...after they turn our brains to mush first

  82. TGIF for SURE, Stephanie
    Good luck with your extra writing time!
    And it sounds like you're really using the time you do have as best you can.
    Snatching is an important skill - as long as it's legal ;-)

  83. Thanks, Jill!
    You have the snippet writing skill too? :-)

  84. Elaine,
    I'm a BIG hat-fan! Vince is working on my marketing about it.
    Spicy hats
    passionate hats?

    Something like that. LOL

    It's so easy to get distracted. I totally live there. I get distracted by all sorts of things, but life really does help teach us if we're willing.

    It's been a long-hard lesson for me

  85. Aww, Jules
    Can't I fit on the ledge WITH you???
    Glean from your dramaqueen ways?
    Surely there's enough room for ONE more...even if I do have big feet!

    How many times have I told you I want to write romance like YOU!!! One heated, delightful kiss at a time. LOL

  86. Mare,
    Love the phone story. When I traded my old one in December the guy looked at me and said, "Umm, yeah- we don't even carry anything remotely close to this anymore."

    And - here's the story.
    I read Petticoat Ranch, realized I'd FINALLY found an author who wrote something I wanted to write - and emailed you.
    In all your wonderful encouragement and humor, you directed me to Seekerville and I've been a leech ever since.
    Your fault.

  87. Come on, Tina.
    I had to go for memorable!!

    And thanks for the sweet words, btw.

  88. Confession: If I could, I would steal that hat.
    There. I said it. I think I'm part Cheshire.
    I reeeeeeally need to work on the time management stuff. I started a "time stealers" diary once, but something happened and I quit. I shall start again tomorrow. No really!

    Loved the sweet pictures and spending time in your brain! Haha. :)

  89. Thanks, Jodie.
    And may your weekend bring you God's direction.

  90. Thanks, Jeanne! :-)
    It really all boils down to not sleeping.
    That's how Mary does it, anyway

  91. Thanks, Sherida!
    Hope it's helpful.

    I'm so thankful that when our life gets crazy we know we're following the Master Planner!!
    he's definitely NOT a Pantster!!!

  92. Natalie,
    Isn't it the BEST hat!!!
    (Alice in Wonderland, btw)

    I'm saving my money for a Cpt Jack Sparrow hat next! I've already spied it! :-)

  93. This is a great post for the entire spice cabinet, not just the "add heat" section Pepper represents!!!

    This is classic advice and so well-founded. Thank you, Pepper....

    We do need to see what works for us as individuals and self-examine what we do.

    I know I could spend less time mocking Mary but at what mental, spiritual and emotional cost to ME???

    But still, it would gain me time.

    I love your life, it just makes me smile! Those beautiful children, full-time job and a husband (we all know they're full-time jobs as well, honey, but Shh... don't tell!) and writing. I've often wondered what would have happened if I stuck with it at your age... Young and stinkin' beautiful... but then we'd have been rich and famous (stops to cough into hand and make a silly face!) and my children might not have the work ethic that farm slavery gave them.

    (They would have TRADED it in a heartbeat!!!)

    You keep at it. I'm proud of you!


  94. Ah Mama Ruthy,
    I've been waiting for you ALL DAY LONG!!!

    We DO have to see what works for us - but we also have to sometimes MAKE what works for us!

    It still has to fit within the grand scheme of the everyday, but etching out a little here and a bit of refocus there will eventual create a story.

    LOVE YOU BIG!!!!!!!!!

  95. Thank you, Patti Jo, for the yummy birthday cake!!! So, so good!

    Thanks too for all the birthday wishes!

    Love you all!

  96. happy birthday debby hope its a great day

  97. Hi Pepper:

    Is it ‘apps’? I’ve never had one, never used one, and never wrote the word ‘app’ before today. I’m old school marketing.

    If you still want me to help you market, I do it by email and I don’t charge if I find that the author is an ideal candidate for marketing. You are a natural.

    Spices would be harder to work into a title but you’d have a lot of time to come up with each one. Also the spice could be used as a color as MacDonald’s “Cinnamon Skin”. It could also be used in a name as in “Lavender Caraway”. It really is not that hard but you have to keep thinking about it through different frames of reference.

    Let me tell you a true story about the hats and marketing.

    Years ago, when I was in real estate, I needed to get a contract over to a real estate agent who was at the state Realtor convention. There were probably one thousand real estate agents there. This was in Tulsa. I told a teenager to run the contract folder into the convention and give it to the agent.

    She said, “How will I recognize her?”

    I said, “She is know for wearing Hedda Hopper hats.”

    The poor girl said, “Who’s Hedda Hopper?” (You see this is a true story). (I hope Helen knows!)

    I said, “Hedda wore these great big hats all the time. You would never miss her at any event".

    So the girl went into the convention center and finds the agent at once -- she was way across the room but you could not miss her! She was in and out in just a few minutes.

    It does work it you’re the only one to do it. You need to do it first. And you have. In marketing we’d say you could own the ‘position’.

    Now, a spicy heroine is one who does not wait around for the hero to prove he really loves her. She does not wait for him to remove all her doubts about trusting in love again or over coming her fear of losing another husband or prove he is marrying her because he loves her and not just because he wants to give her three adorable kids a father. No, a spicy heroine sees a hero she wants and then she plans how to get him. She is proactive.

    This is a rare bird today. The last heroine I can remember who was like this is “Charity” – of course, a Julie Lessman creation. Charity is a spicy heroine.

    BTW I said ‘to the left’ of Julie only because the other direction would be conservative…and going to the edge of the ledge is not conservative. But I meant no political overtones.

    Now I need to think of some spicy titles.


  98. Wow, Vince, I wish my mother had named ME Pepper! lol

    I do have an ancestor who was named Spicey Ann. No joke!

  99. LOL, Vince, no "political overtones" taken ... I was just teasing you!!


  100. Hi Pepper:

    Here are a few titles off the top of my head.

    The Faith of a Mustard Seed
    Rosemary’s Sage Advice
    Pride and Paprika: Jane Austen goes Culinary
    Saving Lavender Farms
    Savory, Oklahoma Reunion
    Vanilla is Just Where We Begin
    Wasabi Finds His Way Home
    Mending Ginger’s Broken Heart
    Of Mace and Men (a cozy mystery)
    A Bride for all Seasonings
    Rosemary’s Baby (Taken) Rosemary’s Daughters
    The Lawman’s Second Chipotle
    His Mesquite Family
    Love by the Bay


  101. Wonderful post, Pepper.

    I remember talking recently with an exec at the company where I work. The exec knew that I write. I mentioned that I had recently finished a rough draft on a manuscript and he asked how I had done it.

    I told him 15-20 minutes at a time.

  102. Hmm, Vince
    I have a few spicy heroines, but I also have the ones that wait on the guy.
    All of them are pretty good at sassy banter, though :-)
    And the romance certainly edges close to the Lessman Ledge ;-)

    I am CRACKING UP! at your book titles. GREAT thinking. WOW! Impressive. We're going to have to talk, Vince.

  103. Thanks, Walt.
    Your writing 'snatches' sound a whole lot like mine :-)

  104. Wonderful, upbeat post, Pepper. And the Blue Ridge? Oh my goodness, what wonderful country it all is.

    I'm not sure where I could make better use of my time, so I think I'll keep a journal for a week and find out. One thing I know it isn't is social media or TV. Hmm. Does housework count as a time stealer?

    Nancy C

  105. Sue! I have a flip cover phone, too. I love it because it's ... just a phone. Well, I could text if I wanted to. But I don't. So cool to find someone else who doesn't have a smart phone.

    Debby, a very-late-in-the-day Happy Birthday wish. But there's no reason you can't spread your birthday over several days, right? Extend the celebration.

    Nancy C

  106. Okay I've only had my smart phone a year..and only because when 5 came out my 4 was only 69 bucks.

  107. I love this post! Thanks, Pepper. I love that you included apps. I can this becoming a new addiction...oh no. :)

  108. DEBBY! Happy birthday! I'm a May baby too. :) Mine was Monday. Hope your day was wonderful!

  109. Pepper, this is the best post EVER.

    Printing it out to stick up above my desk. For reals.

    I'm so uncooked-spaghetti it's not even funny, and having little children has already snapped my brain into a million tiny pasta pieces, so now I'm gonna throw it all in a pot and call it noodle soup. ;)


    Ah, Pep. Did I ever mention you're my hero?? Love you, girl!

  110. Pepper,

    I am posting the next day, but still, I had to let you know that Tina was right to ask (force?) you to post. These are great apps and are inspirational.

    I have no excuses, so thank you for being motivational as well!


  111. Hope you had a great birthday, Debby!


  112. A day sorry...but I love your post. My husband sent me a link recently to Scrivener - and Michael Hyatt blogged about it earlier this week. So I figure if those 2 guys are sold on it, maybe I should look into it. :)