Posts tagged ‘Saturday’

March 25, 2013

Click-able tables of contents for e-books

It's hard to see from this photo, but the progress bar for this book doesn't show any sections. Creating a table of contents using headers could change that.

It’s hard to see from this photo, but the progress bar for this book doesn’t show any sections. Creating a table of contents using headers could change that.

On Saturday I attended a meeting on formatting self-published books. While we worked mostly with Amazon’s CreateSpace, I learned some very valuable tidbits for creating an e-book, as well.

The best piece of information I received was how to make a table of contents that links to your chapter headings. When I upload the new cover for The Night Ones Legacy, this is one of the changes I’ll be making to the text (along with cleaning up some typos).

So just in case you’re interested, here’s what I learned about making a table of contents:

  1. Open your  manuscript in Microsoft Word. 
  2. As you scroll down through your manuscript, center and highlight your chapter headings (I did this one at a time).
  3. With the chapter heading highlighted and the ‘home’ tab open in Microsoft Word, hit ‘heading one,’ kind of on the right side and above the open document.
  4. Right click on the ‘heading one’ area. A small menu pops up. Click ‘Update heading one to match selection.’
  5. Repeat until all your chapter headings are highlighted.
  6. Go back to the beginning of the book. Now is the fun part–adding a Table of  Contents between the first pages (title page, dedication, acknowledgements, etc.) and your first chapter.
  7. Open the ‘References’ tab in Microsoft Word.
  8. The Table of Contents icon is on the far left. Click it. Then choose the style you want and click on that.

If I’ve remembered everything and explained it correctly, your table of contents will be created with each individual chapter showing up as a separate, click-able section. This means that someone heading to your Table of Contents in a Kindle version or other e-book version will be able to click on and move directly to the chapter they want.

I love learning. When it applies to other things I love, such as writing, I like it even more.

Deep thanks to author Roseanne Wilkins for hosting this workshop.

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March 13, 2013

How Sheila Williams’ “Time for Your Life” makes life more fun

Time for Your Life, by Sheila Wiiliams

Time for Your Life, by Sheila Wiiliams

As a writer, as a mother, a wife, a friend, a human being–learning to balance my time to get the most out of my life has always been one of my greatest challenges.

Although I’ve made some inroads, after years and decades of practice, I can’t say that I’m really very good at this yet. This means it’s become another topic to study, an item that ends up periodically on my blog and one that I study as much as possible.

That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed Sheila Williams‘ book, Time for your Life.

Williams says this in her introduction:

 Most of us lead busy, complicated lives. We often find time fast vanishes as we get bogged down with the trivial or meaningless; with last-minute rushes and crises and with the demands of other people. Time for long-distance planning, for dreaming, for ideas and creativity disappears and all too often we begin to feel like a hamster running fast on its wheel to nowhere.

William’s book is about giving readers hope, about teaching us how to discover, understand and manage our unique relations to time.

The first section of the book focuses on how your personality affects the way you spend time and helps you see where you’re losing time. I’ve always found things like this interesting.

From a writing perspective, understanding my own time personality was quite revealing. I discovered that I enjoy a solid mix of routines and flexibility, and I get my best work done when I have occasional breaks from my routines.

In the second section, Williams focuses on organizational skills that can help free up time, and in the third section, Williams addresses ‘Time Thieves’ like procrastination (one of my oldest acquaintances). Even reading about these things motivates me to try harder, and I appreciate the strategies she suggests for dealing with the time thieves. My personal favorite: Play a game. Williams says this:

If it’s a boring but necessary task make a game out of it. See how quickly you can complete it and complete it well. Then next time, see if you can beat your own record.

I love games!

William’s thoughts on a ‘claiming day’ also make a lot of sense to me:

 If you are clear about when and how often certain tasks or actions have to be performed, then you can plan for them and reduce the risk of forgetting about them or leaving insufficient time to deal with them properly.

Claiming dates are events that are regularly scheduled, like a Monday morning office meeting, and should show up on the calendar well in advance of it’s actual occurrence. Williams says people need advance time to prepare for meetings, to send birthday cards, register the vehicle, etc.

For me, Saturdays are my day to catch up on work I’m behind in, but they’re also my ‘claiming dates’ when I prepare for the week ahead. I have to admit, scheduling items well in advance is an area that I’m only now beginning to make progress in, and it’s making my life much, much easier, much more enjoyable.

I think that’s part of the game!

And really, for me, that’s what it’s all about. Life can be difficult, distressing, discouraging–but overcoming those feelings and the distractions that allow me to feel that way is a challenge I can’t resist. Managing my time well helps me feel like this is a game I can very happily win. 🙂

Overall, there’s a lot of really great information in this book…more than I can use at once. I intend to work on integrating this information into my personal system a step at a time.

March 11, 2013

How the Flylady strategy keeps my life manageable and fun

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It’s time for another Flylady Reboot.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Flybaby, that I write better when my home is at least somewhat clean and that I really love my timer.

I do tend to get sidetracked, though. There are days the dishes build up in the sink, days when my ‘hot spots’ get cluttered, days when the folded laundry doesn’t get put away and promptly gets unfolded and stepped on by a helpful toddler.

There are even weeks like that–and last week was one of them. When the house gets out of control, so does my writing life. I feel guilty closing myself off in my office when the rest of my family still has to work around messes. If I do make it to my office on messy weeks or days, I’m too keyed up to write well, and my writing time is interrupted by a bazillion little emergencies.

I’ve decided it’s actually a time saver, on weeks like that, to set aside at least part of the day to catch up on laundry, make easy dinners ahead of time, make sure my daughters have everything they need for school the next week, etc. Saturdays are usually my day to do this. I think my Saturdays are akin to what author and life coach Sheila Williams calls ‘claiming days.’ (See her book here.)

Thanks to some decently evolving routines, I don’t have to spend all day long every Saturday doing this, but a few hours of reclaiming my life makes a real difference in my attitude the following week. This past Saturday was one of those days. I’m not even sure how many loads of laundry I had to catch up on. I didn’t get it all done, but I got it back to the point where I can do a load of laundry a day and keep up with it.

It feels good.

As this new week begins, I’m working harder on developing my routines. I’ll be focusing on evening and morning routines first.  Changes in my family’s schedule means some items previously in my morning routine have to be moved later in the day, and some things that weren’t really part of a routine will have to be accommodated.

I have an image in my head of my life as a strategic game. I HAVE to be flexible, to be willing to try different angles and strategies to reach my objectives. It’s part of my ‘level up’ philosophy, and living this way is both entertaining and fulfilling.

I like the fact that my routines are flexible. Life would be boring if I thought of my routines as a set of rules and regulations rather than tools to help me become the best person I can be.

Once I’ve got the hang of my new evening and morning routines, I’ll begin revamping my work routine. One area I really want to improve is having a set time each day to write fiction–no matter where I am. I’m looking forward to watching my routines, watching how and where I spend my time and finding a time I can consistently set aside for this.

I know it will change again in a few months. As the weather gets warmer, I’ll want to spend more time outside, and that will mean a change in schedule, again. It keeps things fun!

December 9, 2012

Something about Saturdays

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There’s something wonderfully comforting about Saturdays.

I still work on Saturdays. With three children at home (all day every day), it’s the only way I can manage to get in forty billable work hours every week.

That said, I work at a much more relaxed pace than I do on weekdays. My alarm doesn’t go off at five in the morning. There’s no worry about missing telephone calls, no concern over unread e-mails, no pressure to write more than the bare minimum. Mostly, it’s a day for planning and preparing for the upcoming week.

One of my mentors, LaVonn Steiner of Excel Leadership, once said she set aside one day a week for paperwork, office work, financials, things like that. Bonnie Staiger, an outstanding leader with The Staiger Consulting Group in North Dakota, told me during an interview she has one day a week where she doesn’t sit down until all her papers are filed and her work space is completely clear.

For me, that day is Saturday.

Today was one of the most pleasant Saturdays I’ve had in quite a while. As I looked over the activity of the past week, I realized that I had accomplished a lot more than I originally thought I had. Being a prolific writer, for some reason, brings me deep satisfaction.

On top of that, my office is gradually becoming less cluttered (yes, I’m trying hard to be a FlyBaby), I feel much clearer about my writing goals and I feel like the work I do is worth the effort I put into it.

It’s a totally, completely rewarding kind of day.

Add to that the fact that I’m not chained to my desk on Saturdays. I keep the laundry going, wash dishes, read to my baby and listen to my daughters laugh with the friends that come to hang out here. If there’s time, I bake treats and read and play the piano. When it finally gets dark, my family and I gather to watch Psych, Star Trek or Merlin together (we’re such escapists here). It’s really a great day for all of us.

One thing more makes it perfect. At the end of the day, I file my writing and editing works-in-progress away for the rest of the weekend. I won’t touch them at all until Monday morning, five o’ clock-ish, or maybe later in the morning, depending on how exuberant I feel. On Sunday, all I do is relax, center myself and rejuvenate my spirit.

With that in mind, Sunday really is the best day of the week–but the fact that it’s right around the corner makes Saturday something special.

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