Thursday, May 7, 2015

It's Just A Little Stress

Hi Everyone, Audra here.

Crazy doesn’t begin to describe my last several months. My day job has me running to Calgon bubble baths and stocking up on industrial-strength Lady Clairol, LOL! Life has been more than hectic since October, and quite frankly, I’m ready for it to stop and return to normal. No way am I saying this condition is specific to me, I know (well, maybe heard) how many of you are going nuts with new babies (!), moving issues, job changes, medical distress, weather hazards, contract deadlines…the list goes on and on. So let’s join hands — no, scratch that — we need to lock elbows together and help each other overcome the stresses that threaten our common joy of writing.

That said, please forgive me for resurrecting an older post, but all I could think of was how relevant the topic is to my life right now.

We all have family, work, church, volunteering, and/or many other demands that stretch us beyond possible. Personally, there have been many life-altering events in the lives of many of my friends at work which have affected me either through sharing grief, rejoicing in celebration or shouldering responsibilities for others as they require leave-of-absences. I thought I'd revisit some of the words of wisdom I've garnered as survival skills in my 8-5 day job (and often far beyond), and still pursue my true calling in life - writing romance with the essence of Jesus in the hearts of my characters.

Have a plan.

I hear you laughing. What? Don't you think Audra Harders has a plan? LOL! I wish I could organize my time as well as Pam, or twist 3 days of work into 1 like Tina, or churn out books with the same ease as baking cookies like Ruthy, but alas, that’s not how I’m wired. BUT, I do have a plan. I write from 7:00pm to 9:00pm weekdays. That’s it. That’s my plan. If I write for more time than this, BONUS!! This is the same concept our tax accountant gave us the year we had to arrange for payments on the income tax we owed for my husband’s business – commit to the least amount for repayment, and when available, pay off more. Right? 


And along with this…

Be Flexible.

I’ve set aside 2 hours a night to write. My family is good with this. That doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t happen, though. I used to worry I wasn’t a dedicated writer if I allowed things to interrupt my schedule. I’d fret and angst over trying to make up the time. What a waste! The number one rule to keeping your sanity while working your writing career is BE FLEXIBLE. If something gets in your way, deal with it, and then pick up your plotting, editing, writing or whatever and continue on. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Weight Watchers’ meetings, it’s if you fall off the wagon, you have to forgive yourself and pick up where you left off.

Avoid distractions.

This is a toughie. Our world is all about email, text messaging, and social media. Communication is the key to building relationships and creating a structure for your writing support group. I understand the concept and truly enjoy the benefits and camaraderie, but you can’t let it get the better of you. As I mentioned earlier, I only have two hours a day to dedicate to writing, and if I let email and social media have its way with me, I’ll not only lose my precious writing time, but find my final LOL of the night has eaten into my sleep time, too.

This particular survival tip speaks to your priorities. I know some folks can fit it all in and be perfectly productive. I’m not one of those people. I had to go cold turkey on social media and impose restrictions on my email in order to meet my writing goals. Take a look at your particular stress points and be honest with yourself – is too much social interaction keeping you from achieving your goals??

Feeding the Masses.

Don't let mealtime stress you out!! Creative license is allowed in this portion of your writing journey. Since I have a day job, the thought of spending my two hours of free time prepping food for dinner just doesn't excite me. I prefer to cook on weekends, but not everyone has that luxury. So, explore your options. Talk to the hungry souls involved. Delegate. Last summer my son was responsible for creating dinner for the family one day a week. He chose to bring home Taco Bell. No one complained : )

Explore the possibilities of slow-cooker recipes, make-ahead and freeze meals, 3-ingredient meals, etc. Google has become my best friend. I look in my refrigerator and see a head of cabbage. Hmmm, what can be done with this?? Google “cabbage” and it will toss a variety of suggestions at you like cabbage recipes. is my favorite. Check it out. How about Cabbage Jambalaya? I like this one (since I tend to have these ingredients on hand).

Remember, we're talking sustenance, not gourmet. Reward your family with a great meal on the weekend.


Actually, it can be any kind of exercise, but the point is to get out and move. I tend toward Secretarial Spread. Walking a mile or two empowers me to think I have some control over the affliction, LOL!

I love walking the dog down our neighbor’s lane. She’s a rather stubborn Corgi and thinks she’s walking me when I have her on a leash. BUT, once we turn down Bob’s lane, I unhook the leash and start getting lost in the fresh air (knowing the dog will follow). Once I get the blood flowing and clear my mind, ideas begin to form and sometimes I find a whole different perspective on a plot point or conflict I hadn’t considered before. And it gives me an opportunity to hum and sing where no one will hear me : )

Embrace (or rediscover) hobbies.

I grew up sewing. Not clothing, but draperies. I was practically born with a needle in my chubby little fist since my family ran a drapery company. I loved the feel of the fabric as I sewed, pressed and finished panels of window coverings. Since it was relatively mindless work, I had plenty of time to make up stories in my head as I sewed. I still sew, but now I concentrate on piecing together quilts rather than draperies. The feel of the fabric and creative exercise of coordinating colors and prints takes me away from plastic keyboards and illuminated computer screens and feeds my tactile creative side.

Let me suggest something. When you’re stuck on a scene point, try turning away from writing and spend some time on a hobby completely different than typing words. You’ll be amazed at how your mind kind of “resets” itself.

And Finally…

Make time to read.

Of all my tips, this one is the most difficult for me to embrace with a clear conscience. I love books. I love to read. Yet, sitting down in my comfy chair and losing myself in a sigh-dropping story makes me feel guilty. GET OVER IT. We are in the writing business. We must keep up on trends. We need to support our fellow authors by having a cocktail knowledge across our genre, and the newest releases of our friends and colleagues work. I must confess, my TBR pile is teetering, but with the popularity of digital books and readers, I’m overjoyed to carry around my Kindle and make the most of expected and unexpected waits. I give myself permission to read on weekends…entire books at a sitting.

And then, I remember why I became a writer : )

How about you?

What is your Achilles' heel when it comes to staying focused and producing?
What kind of short cuts have you come up with to support productivity?
What do you need help with?
What kind of help can you offer?
What keeps you from writing till your heart's content?
Any quick and easy recipes?
How do you juggle all your responsibilities and writing?

Share with us and there could be a $10 Amazon card in your future!!

But wait! There's more! Yes, these last months have been distracting and gruesome, but God is faithful. I kept writing even when I just wanted to slouch on the couch, eat buttered popcorn and watch re-runs of NCIS -- and look what happened...I finished a book. Rough Road Home is the final book in my Circle D series. 

A bull rider and a stock broker.
Both burned out on love and life.
Can a simple road trip to the next rodeo turn into a chance for happily ever after?

Check out the pre-order on Amazon!!! 

Rachel Hill, a burned out stockbroker, realizes she’s sacrificed too much for her career and is searching for God’s direction in her life. Champion bull rider, Nick Davidson, reasons God abandoned him first, so what’s the point of seeking Christ’s will in his life? When Nick suffers a concussion, the road trip to the next rodeo becomes the ride of a lifetime for Rachel and Nick. Secrets revealed; lies exposed. Can the power of love heal even these deepest wounds?

Audra Harders writes "rugged stories with heart" featuring cowboys who haven't a clue about relationships rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she's married to her own patient hero, has two adult children and is surrounded by everything conducive to writing about farming, ranching and cowboys at her day job in the county Extension office. She began writing right after her son was born and sold her first book to Steeple Hill Love Inspired mere months before that same son graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between remind her God does have her plan for her life...and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit her at her website. Stop by and see what’s new, and sign up for her newsletter!


  1. Gorgeous cover, Audra!
    I loved what you said about reading. I think as writers, sometimes we can see books as business or work, and we forget why we started this in the first place: the love of a good story. Making the time to read helps me remember that. All I want to do is tell a good story!

  2. LOVED this post, Audra!!
    And I giggled over your "Get over it" comment about guilt when reading. Even though I love reading and getting totally lost in a good book (especially books by my Seeker friends *smile*) so many times I'd feel a niggle of guilt - - as in "you need to be writing, or doing house chores" etc. BUT I'm finally getting past that, because I know the more I read, the more it helps my writing (yeah, a no-brainer, right?! LOL).
    Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Before I head to bed I'm setting out peach coffee cake for breakfast (or late-night snack!).

    Hugs, Patti Jo

  3. Great post, Audra!

    How's this for stress? I sent in a submission on a deadline last week and when I looked in the mirror the next day I had a shock of WHITE hair on the right side of my head! So now I have to add that to my writer's list - paper, ink, AND HAIR DYE! Is that a tax deductible expense?

    Baby alert - I have a new grandson, Blake Rhys. He's an American/True Blue Aussie boy and he joins his two brothers to make my world shine. Gonna be busy around here the next two months, but babies don't keep so I'll be doing a lot of planning. Dishes can wait.

  4. I find walking & knitting to be great un-stressors.

  5. Great post Audra! When I want to de-stress I usually grab a book and start reading. I can get lost in a story and whatever was stressing me out is usually overshadowed by the pleasure I get from reading.

    Love the cover on your new book!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  6. Lyndee, I saw him on facebook and he's gorgeous! Congratulations!!!!! I love me some babies! :)

    Audra, you speak to the heart of so many people with this. (Wait, I have to run and take another tray of books out of the oven!!! ) LAUGHING! Of course it's that easy!

    The glory in how God made us all different shines in these words. We should celebrate our differences and rejoice in our successes! And when life kicks us and our buddies in the head (and publishing does that regularly, my friends) it's super nice to be that buddy with a pat on the back... or a kick in the butt.

    Audra, thank you for sharing this!



  7. I keep my mind cleared by having as empty a desk as possible. It's amazing to me how a cluttered desk can often mean a cluttered mind, in my case....

    Recipe wise, my husband loves this one. Read below why it is quick and easy....

    Chili Simplified

    2 lbs (1 kg) lean ground beef
    2 to 3 10-oz (284 mL) cans brown beans in tomato sauce
    Green pepper, chopped, to taste (at least 1 cup/250 mL)
    Red pepper, chopped, to taste (at least 1 cup/250 mL)
    Heinz Ketchup, to taste (at least 1 cup/250 mL)
    Shredded cheese (optional)

    Brown ground beef in large pot; rinse and drain grease under tap and then return to the rinsed pot.

    Add remaining ingredients, stirring often. Can eat as soon as heated through or can continue being heated indefinitely.

    Top with shredded cheese, if desired.

    Makes 6 to 8 servings (if eating nothing else).

    Preparation/cooking time: 15 minutes if peppers pre-chopped (I freeze mine already chopped, then microwave to thaw before adding).

    * The beauty of this recipe is that there are simple ingredients (I don’t need to keep kidney beans in stock instead) with any amounts, the spices are replaced by the ketchup flavors (people say it is spicy without being “too” spicy), and the chili need not be simmering for hours before eating. It is quick AND easy!

    * If preparing for a potluck, I use two big pots with 3 lb (1.5 kg) ground beef in each, then keep warm in the roasting pan before topping up the crock-pot.

  8. I love your new book's cover.

    And Amen and Amen to this post.

    I am still trying to fit in some of these things..but getting there.

    4 am and must leave for work in fifteen minutes. Be back later.

  9. Laney! Thanks for the recipe!!!

    Good to see you, again.

  10. I LOVE your Circle D book covers Audra. Beautiful!

    Great post too. The guilt Monster has been feeding on me this whole Winter of well, stuff hitting fan at inopportune times. It has negatively impacted my meager editing attempts and I need to forgive myself and start over with my "Day One".

    Thanks for recycling an old post that is still very relevant. I appreciate it. I believe it was just what I needed to read.

    Seekerville is awesome, btw. Had to get that in 'cuz it's been awhile since I wrote that.

  11. p.s.
    My stress relief comes in the form of my five year old jumping on to my lap asking for "huggies (hugs), momma, huggies!"

    a few moments of cuddle time cures a lot of ills.

  12. Ahhh, Seekerville is so good for the soul : ) I had a crisis dump in this post, yet it reads like a shot of encouragement in the dark.

    Wow. Imagine that, LOL!

    Virginia, reading seems to be the first thing I fling off my list when stress builds even though it's a very constant I always turn to when life hands me avocados (not a fan of avocados).

    I so love getting lost in a good story!!!

  13. Audra, a great and needed post. It is a lifestyle and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we can make everything fit. When I was diagnosed a diabetic two years ago, I had to decide how I was going to live the rest of my life. I didn't want a diet, I wanted a lifestyle, so I figured out how I was going to make it work. "My time" is in the evening when I don't have a meeting to cover, I'm a journalist, so I work on my personal writing then and also on the weekends. My husband is really good about giving me time, he believes in me. Food isn't an issue, he's happy with hot dogs, so if I cook it's because I want to. Not everybody is that lucky, and those with children at home have to be more careful about nutrition etc. I DO NOT FEEL guilty about reading because it's still better for me than television, although I do watch a few well-crafted shows and Nashville is my guilty pleasure. I also try to keep up physically, at least with walking, for the diabetes and the osteo, because when success comes, I don't want to have to take sick days. We need to look at the whole person, which is what we should be doing even if we're not writers.
    I'm upping my output this month because I'm a semi-finalist in a contest (what is the verb for that? Did I "semi"?") and I know if I win or even final, things are going to be very different.
    I believe in hobbies as long as they don't suck your writing energy or take you away from God. My main hobby is dollhouses and miniatures. I find sewing tiny curtains and putting on crown moldings is a nice change of pace.
    Great post Audra, hope your stress level goes down but isn't it great you can be there for your friends/co-workers.
    Kathy Bailey

  14. I think we should have "get over it" tattooed somewhere inconspicable...

    LOL! BTW, I hate needles so I guess I'd have to go the henna route : )

    Patti Jo, thanks for reminding me about the eats!! I have yogurt and fruit parfaits awaiting on yonder table. I discovered a new yogurt recently -- Noosa. Wow! I could eat the stuff by the buckets!! It's a bit pricey, so maybe I'll indulge in a spoonful at a time...

    But today? I'm a splurging on virtual Noosa for all!!!!!!!

  15. I'll be back in a bit. Gotta get ready for work...

  16. MY GO TO RECIPE is the one where you put the chicken pieces in the bottom of the 13x9 pan, sprinkle a cup and a half of white rice around them, combine a can of cream of mushroom soup, a can of cream of celery and two cans of milk, pour that over the chicken and rice, sprinkle Lipton onion soup on top if you've got it, and bake the whole mess at 350 for two hours. It needs no care during the baking and people actually think you know what you're doing.
    Kathy Bailey

  17. Thanks Audra. I pre-ordered your book.

    I have a questiono for any one. My computer is threatening to crash. How do you protect your writing? I am thinking about getting a flash drive. I do print out a hard copy. My laptop is in the shop. I miss it already.

  18. Audra, I really needed this post today. Thank you! But, the best news of the post is there's another Audra Harder book to read! The cover is gorgeous.

    Life seems to get busier and busier. To get more words on the page I need to build better barriers around my writing time.

    Then I have myself to deal with. LOL I'm guilty of giving email more time than I should. Of getting a slow start with my day.
    Of being too available. Isn't it great that we get a new beginning every day?

    I want to see a picture of your quilt. My creative release is making greeting cards and drawing with colored pencils, though I haven't done the latter in ages.


  19. Wilani,
    I always email myself my stories. Then it's available anywhere. Don't have to save on a desk and then try to figure out where you put that disk 4 months later.

  20. Great cover and great post, Audra. We all need a reminder, even if we're not writers and authors. I'm still working on those items/questions! But taking time to read Seekerville each day is a stress reliever for me, as well as giving some ideas. Thanks

  21. I don't write but I read, sometimes even before my cleaning gets done. My go to recipe is to make a box of stuffing, add cr of celery soup, and shredded cooked chicken. Bake til hot and serve with gravy. I always boil or cook extra chicken and put in freezer just for this.

  22. Beautiful cover - can't wait to read that book! And, if I must admit it, my biggest keeps-me-away-from-writing thing is my own discouragement. Yep, pretty hard to hang in there sometimes when I can't see that I'm going anywhere. Lady Clairol! What a great way to invest in my writing! Off to the drug store...

  23. No guilt about reading in this household! Unfortunately, I won't let myself read during the day, so bedtime may just be my favorite time of day. I allow myself to read for at least an hour, maybe two if I can't make myself stop.

    And kudos for writing two hours a day. I wrote and finished a 95,000 word manuscript in three months with that schedule. Awesome sauce!

    Love your new cover by the way. Throw my name into the cowboy hat for the $10 Amazon card.

    Keep writing!!

  24. Thanks, Audra. Down to earth wisdom at its best.

    Lnaey, that's a good chili recipe. I always feel guilty when I throw brown beans in with the kidneys, pintos, garbanzos, etc. Probably because they are flavoured. But they add so much to my chili that I keep doing it.

    Lyndee, congrats on the little one.

  25. Love Seekerville's new captcha!

    To prove I'm not a robot today, I was shown an image of bread and asked to pick several others out of a bunch of food photos. And I was correct! Hahahaha

    And now I'm going to get my breakfast. :)

  26. Oh, and I just ordered the first book in the Circle D series. Since I polished off a novella last night, I'll start Second Chance Ranch tonight. Can't wait!

  27. Thanks for the post Audra. I was pulling my hair out last night because I was so stressed about trying to get everything done. So I sat on the couch and read a book. It re-energized me. I teach school all day and gymnastics in the evenings and don't get home until at least 7:30. Then there's dinner, household chores and a hubby who thinks he needs attention. (Thank goodness I'm an empty nester!)There are days that I get overwhelmed and want to sit and cry. In addition to limiting distractions (facebook, twitter...but not seekerville. NEVER Seekerville) I've learned to ask for help. After school I texted the hubby and said I was exhausted and needed help with dinner. I came home to steaks cooking on the grill. I've also learned to love my crock pot and pressure cooker (from frozen to done in 20 minutes...what's not to love?).
    I'm looking forward to my summer break so I can do some reorganizing and develop a better writing schedule. thanks for the post. You have no idea how badly I needed it today!

  28. Good morning Audra.

    I know I feel more stressed if I don't get any writing done but I waste a lot of time thinking about it. The more I think about writing the more stressed out. Does that make sense?

    I try to write in 15-20 minutes sprints followed by 5 minutes of housework. I still may not get a whole lot writing accomplished but a some is better than none. In a little over an hour I can have my writing done, dishwasher started and clothes washed.

    Here's my quick recipe:

    1 pound ground beef
    2 potatoes, cut/diced small
    1 can/bag carrots
    1 can of cream of mushroom soup
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Brown the ground beef and then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer until potatoes/carrots are done.

    My kids love this.

  29. Have to admit, I've been neglecting the "walk" need in my writing life of late. Definitely need more exercise.

  30. Love the new boo, Audra!! It sounds great! Congrats!!!!

    And Pam is organized???? Ha! Ha! Ha!

    What is your Achilles' heel when it comes to staying focused and producing? Short answer: Staying focused and producing.

    What kind of short cuts have you come up with to support productivity? Answer: Started using Scrivener on this last novella. I truly believe it's making me more productive. And... a just DO IT mentality.

    How do you juggle all your responsibilities and writing?

    Since my kiddos are young marrieds and/or college age, it's a lot easier than it used to be. No grands yet, so I don't have that distraction. And, yes, I'm going to be majorly distracted when the time comes! lol

    The truth is I don't juggle it well. I just do it. Some days I'm pulling my hair out, and some days it's a matter of which wildfire needs the most attention.

    Speaking of... I see a wildfire. Gotta grab a bucket!

  31. What a great post, Audra! I needed it. With the kids out of school soon, hubby very busy with work, life is a bit crazy right now. I've been trying to revise my MS and send it off to an agent, but my time seems to get sucked away from me. My biggest distraction is email. I'm learning to turn off email and notifications when I write and that helps.

    For recipes, this one sounds odd, but it's easy and oh, so tasty!
    Kalua Pork
    5# pork shoulder or butt (shoulder is more expensive but more tender)
    2 Tablespoons rock salt
    2 Tablespoons liquid smoke.

    Put pork into crock pot and sprinkle other ingredients over it. Cook on low for 8 hours (or more) and waa-laaa. This recipe is absolutely delicious. If you wnat to shred it and add bbq sauce you can do that. My family just eats it plain. It creates lots of juices while it's cooking.

    Oh, when I feel stressed I either read or watch a movie. Call me crazy, but I love watching stories come to life, and seeing how story elements look in action. :)

    Thanks for your encouragements today!

  32. Wait. We're supposed to have a plan? Well, now I'm stressed. :-) And just for the record, I never feel guilty for reading...even when I should. Bwahahahahaha! Loved this post -- it's helping me prioritize and...ack....make a p-l-a-n. Excited about Rough Road Home's upcoming release. Woohooo!!!! More non-guilty reading in store for me.

  33. AUDRA!!!! OH. MY. GOODNESS -- I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the cover, my friend, and pre-ordered it instantly!! Can't WAIT to read it, girl! :)

    And, WHOA, what a timely post, even if it is an old one, it's just what I needed to read today, so THANK YOU!!

    My Achilles' heel is definitely email, and I think that's because I tend to write a book to answer every single one, which is NOT a good thing. Had to give up sending Christmas cards for that very reason, which is why I occasionally go off email altogether.

    Now, I will say that reading is definitely something I make time for because for me, it's therapy. I read approximately eight books a month and truly love it. Of course, when you consider how much writing I could get done in those hours spent reading, it's rather sad, but it's the only way my brain can relax.

    As far as I'm concerned, you get an awful lot done, girlfriend, for a gal with a MORE-than-a-fulltime-job!!!

    Hugs and more hugs,

  34. Audra, so excited about your new release!!!

    Loved your blog post today. I like the idea or writing time instead of pages...especially since my AlphaSmart doesn't note pages/words written until I download the file into my PC.

    Also nodding about daily walks! I've been faithful to 2 miles a day for some time now and always look forward to my afternoon hike.

    Hobby? A great idea, and one I should adopt. Also I'm not finding time to read. Not good, as you mentioned.

    Thanks for providing such a lovely assortment of tips to survive the writing journey!


  35. Lyndee, congrats to your new little one! How wonderful! Be still my grandma heart!

    Hugs to you and Baby Blake!

  36. Wonderful reminders here, Audra--thank you! And congrats on the next book in the Circle D series!

    BARBARA, I'm with you--can't take time for pleasure reading during the day, so I look forward to the last hour or so before bedtime for curling up with the next good book in my TBR pile.

    BTW, AUDRA, I could use some new window treatments for my home. If you ever need a break and want to come sew some up for me . . . just sayin'!

  37. Too busy to leave much of a comment! Great post, Audra. Thank you! :-)

  38. Hi Audra:

    Much of stress comes from having a 'no limits' personality: for example,
    like having 'no limits' on…

    your 'to do' list
    your willingness to say yes
    the time spent not writing
    the need to be liked.

    Additional stress comes from filling the mind with thoughts of fear rather than feeding it with the desire to succeed; worrying about writer's block rather than just using writer's blocks as stepping stones to success; studying lessons on dealing with rejection instead of taking seminars on successful writing techniques.

    We buy so many of our problems that sometimes we forget that these are bills we may never have had to incur in the first place.

    So become a philosopher!

    Think in affirmations!

    Set limits on stress and give success its head!

    Give inspiration a chance!

    Love your cover!
    The heroine looks like she could step off the page and sing "80's Ladies"!

    I just love K. T.!



    P.S. For a good cry watch these wonderful ladies.

  39. Lyndee, really? OMG, I have stubborn grays with even stubborner roots, but never a white streak!!

    Breathe deep, girlfriend. Take it easy...

  40. Mary Preston, I love to crochet! Don't you just love the feel of yarn and choosing the color scheme??

  41. Cindy W, glad you like the cover : ) Frankly, I'm just glad the book is DONE, LOL!

    Reading...we should all make the time, right??

  42. Mmmm, baked books, my favorite, LOL. Ruthy, does anyone NOT run in 10 different directions at a time anymore??

    And yes, cabbage. Makes great soup : )

  43. Laney, thanks for the receipe. Anything simple and tasty is on my radar.

    Oh how I wish I lived an uncluttered life. I'll have to ask the good Lord to plant me with an affinity towards that sometime...

  44. Tina, honey. You outwork me 10x over. I get tired just THINKING of the things you accomplish when I'd rather be sleeping.

    You're my hero.

  45. DebH, you are one lucky mommy. Hugs. I have to chase my 22 and 24 yr olds down for a kiss on the cheek.

    Enjoy, girlfriend!!

    BTW, we appreciate you more!

  46. Thank you so much for this post, Audra. Just like going out the door is the hardest step to most exercise, my biggest snag in writing is carving out a chunk of time(preferably respected by my family) and actually opening the file.

    I love the door hanger sign! :) I don't have an office, and I'm pretty much accessible to anyone at any time of day. So during my last draft I grabbed a sheet of paper and a permanent marker and wrote, "Writing. Please don't disturb." Then I hung my little makeshift sign around my neck. My family had a few chuckles the first time they saw it, but they were sweet about it, and letting them know REALLY helped stop distractions!

  47. Kathy Bailey, you have your hands full. My family is fine with hot dogs, but they prefer Taco Bell, LOL!

    Nothing happens by mistake. God puts you where He needs you. I forget that a lot of times. It isn't until He gives me a glimpse of why I've gone through what I have, that I realize how He's used me.

    Or protected me.

    {{foot stomping}} But I still want to do the things I want to do and most of the time I have a hard time being thankful for not being able to do them, LOL!!!

  48. I am going to try Laney's recipe! Oh my stars, easy and delicious works for us!!!!

  49. Kaybee, that sounds good, too!

    We like the chicken and stuffing bake that's on the Stove-top box. We both like it, it's easy, and it tastes so good! It makes me happy!

    You make up one box of stuffing, set it aside.

    Layer 1 1/2 lb. chicken breasts, cut up, in baking pan.

    Mix one can cream of chicken soup with 1/3 cup sour cream (or French Onion Dip, it's marvelous) and a 10-16 oz bag of frozen veggies. Mix and spread over chicken.

    Top with stuffing, bake at 400 until chicken is done.

    Love it!

  50. Getting lost in a good book de-stresses me! And a quick visit to Seekerville blog...reading comments is always fun!

  51. Wilani, I'm sure someone has answered you by now, but invest in flash drives. I have several along with an external drive I back my work up to.

    Flash drives are cheap and give you all sorts of peace of mind!!!

  52. Audra, your post was exactly perfect for my stressful day! I actually was in the middle of reading it this morning when I heard a splashing across the kitchen. Dishwasher trouble has now consumed all of my productive time but I can get back on the wagon tomorrow after I deal with a website server issue.

    My Achiles heel is the technology side of this writing/marketing life. The learning curve, then glitches to fix all unite to suck the creativity right out of me and send me running to a good book to refuel.

    LOVE your new cover and can't wait to read book three! And thanks everyone for the easy supper ideas. My family will appreciate the variety.

  53. Janet, I always knew you were oozing with artistic creativity! I can't draw worth a lick and I have fond envy for those who can.

    Quilting makes sense to me. Since sewing draperies required nothing but straight seams, piecing together quilts gives my limited skills a fabric-design creative expression, LOL!

    Thanks for the kind words for the next book. I gotta find a way to get faster at this!!!!

  54. Marianne, I can't wait to read your answers, LOL! You're such a constant in the Seekerville world...I love it!!

  55. CathyAnn, my family is going to love that receipe! Thanks for sharing!!

  56. Cindy Regnier, it's so hard to win this game of writing when our opponent is ourselves. I'm sorry. I've been there. I know it's tough to get psyched when there's little progress.

    Stick in there, kiddo. God has a tailor-made plan just for you!!!

  57. Awesome sauce, LOL! Barbara, you made me laugh out loud!!!!! Well, cool beans for writing 2 hours a night with me and finishing a 95K manuscript!!!!

    AND, thanks for downloading Second Chance Ranch. You made this frazzzed writer very happy : )

  58. Anita Mae! Hiya buddy :) Glad you liked the post :)

    So what kind of bean is a brown bean that adds such great flavor????

  59. LeAnne, my heart goes out to you! Teaching all day and then gymnastics at night? OMG, I'm exhausted just reading this!!

    God bless your husband. Not only did you get got a steak dinner. Now that's my kind of man.

    Hang in there. There's only a couple of weeks left and then SUMMERTIME!!!

  60. Connie, finding that right balance is tough. Maybe even gruesome. I tend to have the attention span of a gnat, so I understand completely the writing schedule you keep : )

    Great, simple recipe, too. I love it!

    Thanks for sharing!

  61. Thank you authors for ALL that you do in order to write and keep up with life. You are AMAZING.

  62. Thanks for this post, Audra. It doesn't matter to me if it's an old one because I'm fairly new to Seekerville anyway. My biggest problem is just not feeling like doing anything at the end of the day. Sometimes I am truly to brain fried to even be able to come up with a coherent thought to put on paper. We do eat a lot of leftovers or crockpot meals during the week, so meal time isn't too difficult. Here is a simple crockpot recipe we like.

    Just put chicken breasts in the bottom of the crockpot and cover with your favorite cream soup. I like cream of celery but you could also use chicken, mushroom, etc. I add a little bit of lemon juice and some lemon pepper and cook all day. That's it!

    Another great way to make a good meal with no fuss is to buy a rotisserie chicken at the store and just add some vegetables or salad and pasta and you have a meal.

    I read every night at bedtime. I don't feel guilty reading then, but don't always get to sleep when I should.

    Please enter me in the drawing for the Amazon card!

  63. YIppy! Nick's story! I've been waiting for this since I finished reading "Second Chance Ranch." Pre-ordered and counting the days :-)

    Thank you for this reminder: .. forgive yourself and pick up where you left off.

    Nancy C

  64. I love this post, Audra!

    I have let stress rule my life for too many years, but I'm learning how to get a handle on it. I've started walking for 30 minutes each day during my planning period. Now I'm not as tired when I get home, and I'm able to focus on writing. I don't know how I'll ever manage during summer break when I don't have that set 48 minute planning time. Guess I'll have to set an alarm. ;)

    Any quick and easy recipes? Pepperoncini Pork Roast...
    Pork Roast, 1 packet of onion soup mix, and 1 jar of sliced (or whole) pepperoncini peppers. Put everything in the slow cooker (in the order listed), turn it on low, and let cook 8 - 10 hours (or until the meat shreds easily.

    How do you juggle all your responsibilities and writing? With the help of my hubby, Mountain Man. He will cook brinner (breakfast for dinner) when I need to write. He also washes dishes and does laundry when he sees it's not going to get done any other way. ;)

  65. Audra, I meant the canned brown beans that Laney uses. The beans are the regular little white ones until they're baked in the molasses or tomato sauce. Our favourite is the maple flavoured one as it adds such a rich and unique taste. Just call it Canadian chili! :D

  66. Hey Walt! The walk is the favorite part of my day : ) You need to get out more, especially since you live in such a gorgeous state!!

  67. A wildfire? Grab a bucket?

    Pam, are you okay??? Wow, it's wild times in MS!!!

    Honestly, you are one of the most organized, focused people I know. Maybe it's because you understand spreadsheets, LOL!

    I love my Scrivener! Now that is an organizational tool that serves me well!!!

  68. Jeanne, I love the recipe! I cook pork shoulder roasts in the slow cooker all the time. Your liquid smoke and rock salt version sounds intriguing. Yes, I will try this over the weekend...

    There are so many movies I want to see in the theatre, but it never happens. Then, a couple of weeks ago our office went to see...drumroll, please...The Longest Ride!! OMG, bull rider and N Carolina ranch. Scott Eastwood continues the tradition his papa started!! Gotta love it!!

    Ha, anything with bull riders is fantastic...(I'm not partial or anything)

  69. LOL, Kav!! You've got your priorities in order!! I love you!!

  70. Julie, so glad you love the cover of my new book!! And pre-ordered even!! OMG, I'm hugging you back, big time :)

    I think this period of intense work demands has weaned me from emails and social networking cravings. I get home and the last thing I want to do is open my computer. BUT, I knew I needed to get past that if I wanted to finish this book. So, wrote the book at an old computer on my desktop that is so slow if overloaded. This made me focus on my Scrivener program and not open Internet.

    Kinda nice :)

    I so envy you your reading time. I miss reading. I make sure I squeeze in at least 1 book a month.

    1 book.

    Isn't that a crying shame?

    You are always so enthusiastic and encouraging. I'm so blessed to call you friend, my friend :)

  71. The best part of the AlphaSmart was watching it type on my computer screen when I transferred my work. What a hoot! Writing with my AS kept me on task, but I found my mind would wander and then I wouldn't remember the vein I was originally on. My AS let me see 2? 3? lines of type? It was nice because there was no distraction of Internet!!

    I really need to make time to read more. So many stories I want to get lost in!! And, I'm always inspired and recharged after I finish a good book.

    Debby, I'll work on it!

  72. I've "fallen off" the writing wagon this past month. I was working on finishing the twins I was sculpting from polymer clay for a contest that was due today. I'm hopeful for getting back in the grove again!

    Please throw my name in for the drawing.

  73. Myra, good to know you need window treatments. Right up my alley :)

    Check out My aunt and uncle started the company in Boulder and it was the only place I ever worked before college graduation. My cousin owns and runs it now. He's a mechanical engineer and developed all the innovative, award-winning hardware.

    Bet you can tell how proud I am of him and the family business :)

  74. Wow, Vince. I've never been accused of having a "no-limits" personality. I don't know if I like it -- but, all your components fit into place.

    I'm such a mess :)

    I will practice saying no...but not too much...I'm not quite close enough to retirement...

    I'm so glad you like my cover, Vince. I hope you like the book as well...

  75. Natalie, I love your style : ) It's tough to carve out writing time and it's even harder to get the family to understand how much this time means to you.

    I have a sign on my door. My family chuckles as they walk past it and make themselves at home in my office.

    Life's not fair.

  76. Candee! Dishwashers happen! LOL! I'm sorry about the disruptions, they really spoil the moment, don't they??

    OMG, websites drive me crazy. All the marketing make me think too hard. With a debut book about to launch, I know you have your hands and head full of marketing!!

  77. Sandy, I can relate to brain fried. I'm sorry. There's nothing worse than looking forward all day to writing in the evening and when the time comes, all you can do is yawn and think about going to bed.

    You've a friend who understands, girlfriend!!!

  78. Nancy, you made my day! Thanks!!

  79. Rhonda, you luck bucket. All summer off. All your time will fall into place. You'll get walks in and words down. And I"m envying you all day long : )

  80. Anita Mae, thanks for clearing up the bean mystery. Will have to check out this recipe : )

  81. Audra, I loved this post. This has been one of those weeks for me (fortunately only one of the two strep tests for my kids came back positive) so I loved the message of support. And I always love when someone gives me another reason to read.

    Lyndee H., Congratulations on your new grandson.

    Thanks for the blog. Loved reading it.

  82. Wonderful post Audra! I, too, loved the "get over it" comment. I love Sundays. Not only are they our family day to rest and worship, I can read without anyone wondering why I'm not folding laundry. (Especially socks. Can't stand folding socks. Oh well, all for His glory, right?)

    I'm an evening writer, too. Although sometimes sports practices cut into my writing time. So last year I started toting my laptop to practices. They practice, I sit in the car and type. Its a win win for all.

    Lyndee, congrats on the new grandbaby!

  83. Audra, I've been running all day and am late arriving! What a great post! I'm glad you re-used it. You've given us some good reminders.

    Including the fact you sew! I had totally forgotten that. I know where to send my sewing projects to now! (I have a few repairs waiting. You want to come visit??) :)

  84. Great post, Audra! And needed by many of us. Two things I'm doing to de-stress: learning to make jewelry and coloring. Yep, found some coloring books for adults, bought those and a set of color pencils and I'm having a great time rediscovering a childhood favorite. Please put my name in the hat for the drawing.

  85. Hi Audra:


    My bad! I didn't mean my comment to apply to you personally. Personally I think you are all kinds of wonderful! I meant my observations to apply to all mankind in general. Here's a rewrite:

    "Much of stress comes from having a 'no limits' personality: for example,
    like having 'no limits' on…

    one's 'to do' list
    one's willingness to say yes
    one's time spent not writing
    one's need to be liked.

    Additional stress comes from filling the mind with thoughts of fear rather than feeding it with the desire to succeed; worrying about writer's block rather than just using writer's blocks as stepping stones to success; studying lessons on dealing with rejection instead of taking seminars on successful writing techniques.

    We buy so many of our problems that sometimes we forget that these are bills we may never have had to incur in the first place.

    So become a philosopher!"

    BTW: I'm sure I'll love "Rough Road Home"… I mean stockbrokers and bull riders, what's not to like! (I took the class to become a stockbroker in the 60's.) I just placed my pre-order, so don't put me in the drawing. I don't deserve to win it anyway! :)

  86. I have trouble getting off the computor & getting back to reading. Stress releiver? Reading some of the comments today.. Lyndee H.. you made me smile.My town in S.E. Nebraska is flooded today. Your comments have brightened my day :)
    drop me into the drawings please..

  87. I absolutely loved your post today Audra. It was fun and fresh. As a Mom of 12 I could go, go , go constantly and never stop 24/7. I have learned to let go of the little things and concentrate what's important. I ask myself will this matter a week from now, a month from now, a year from now ? I give chores to everyone almost daily. Even the 4 year old gets chores. Do I have the cleanest house on the block, probably not but I am spending time wityh my children developing relationships to last a lifetime. And you better believe I get my reading time in as well ! Please throw my name in the cat food bowl for the drawing. Have a super day ladies !

  88. For me reading can become too much of a distraction to being productive with other aspects of my life, so I have to make sure to keep it in balance! I've gone two days between books now and I'm feeling the itch to start a new one already :)
    Please enter me in your giveaway!

  89. What an excellent post, Audra! I'm so glad you dug it out of the archives... I really needed to read it.

    My biggest hangups with writing are:

    1. Setting aside a certain time to write.

    2. Social media and email. (Gracious, it gets me every time! I am seriously considering putting my iPhone in time-out during certain parts of the day.)

  90. Audra, I love the new release cover!

    I was without electricity all day yesterday so I couldn't comment on anything, anywhere! Boy, did I feel completely out of the loop!

    I enjoyed your post a day late—thanks for some good reminders! :-)