Blogs I Read Daily

by RS on January 7, 2015

Image from Hasbara Fellowships

I keep a list of blogs in Feedly because of the tweeting I do for Writer Unboxed. There are several I visit often, but because I spend a lot of time reading books and writing, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to spend reading through all the blogs.

I’d like to change that and get into the habit of reading at eight to nine blogs a day just the way I spend time reading the newspaper. I’ve divided them into five sections:

1. Writing (fiction and nonfiction)

2. Productivity

3. Social Media

4. Food Politics

5. Tools for Writers (paper, pen and software)

In the writing category, right now I am impressed with Ksenia Anske’s blog. Her most recent topic is about plotting and how she writes her books. She’s mentioned Robert Olen Butler’s From Where Your Dream, which I’m reading and watching the series Inside Creative Writing with Robert Olen Butler on You Tube.  And of course, I can’t live without my WriterUnboxed daily read.

In the non-fiction category, Mridu Khullar Relph’s The International Freelancer is the must-read for all freelance writers. It’s not targetted to just writers who cover international stories or write from aboard, it’s for all freelancers. I mentioned in a previous post her 30 Days, 30 Queries e-course and it is amazing. Read Mridu and learn from Mridu.

For productivity I always seem to land on of’s pages so I’ve added that to my Feedly list. Tuesday’s big feature was 15 Reasons You Can’t Reach Your Goals. If you’ve been frustrated because you haven’t been able to meet your goals, it’s most likely you don’t know how to plan and follow through. This reminds that a special shout out goes to I just downloaded the free PDF, and after working with it, I’ve decided to get the bound copy of the planner.

Frances Caballo the social media whiz and blogger behind Social Media Just for Writers gets a lot of attention from me. She has a breezy way of writing easy-to-understand articles about social media other pluses include she lives in the Bay Area, where I went to school, and she’s a dog lover.

I’m interested in food politics and agriculture and one of the best sites I’ve discovered is Civil Eats. This is from the sites About section:

“Civil Eats is a daily news source for critical thought about the American food system. We publish stories that shift the conversation around sustainable agriculture in an effort to build economically and socially just communities.

Under the Tools for Writers my current favorite is Quo Vadis. This covers traditional tools like pens, notebooks and paper, but the entries are varied like writing as meditation, planning, time management and product reviews. Also worth mentioning on the tech side is Mac|Life and MacWorld for tech geeks like me looking for software that will make the writing and research process easier.

Do you have favorite blogs you like to read on a daily basis and would like to share?



First Quarter Writing Schedule

by RS on January 5, 2015


This post was inspired by Ksenia Anske’s “My Schedule”. I’m not quite as hardcore as Ksenia, but this year promises to be one where I’m writing at six to eight hours a day. Here’s the breakdown of what I need to write this just this month:


1. Six articles for Artisan Resource—this is a trade show where artisan groups exhibit their new collections. We profile twelve organizations twice a year.

2. At least two articles for the February issue of the magazine.

3. One article about hiking for Adirondack Outdoors due in ten days.

4. Copywriting for a PR client at least once a week for their newsletter.

5. Scrivener lessons. I have a month long class scheduled from January 12th running through February 13th for both Windows and Mac versions of the software.

6. Query other publications

Personal Creative Writing:

1. Morning pages. I’m somewhat following Julia Cameron’s routine of writing when I first get up, but I don’t write the full three pages (front and back). I write in Moleskine notebook anywhere between two and three pages. Today was a half page because of too many interruptions that included the terrier catching a mouse.

2. Blogging. Yes, I am trying again to keep a blogging schedule. My hope is to write three times a week. We’ll see how that turns out.

3. Novel. I have my Scrivener project targets set for 921 words if I want to complete the first draft by April 15th. So far I’ve been averaging about 1,130 words.

As you can see, I’m busy. It doesn’t leave me much room for anything else. The work writing is the most time-consuming, especially the tutorials. So the break down is this starting January 5th since the holidays are finito:

5:00 am to 6:00 am: morning pages.

6:00 am to 7:00 am: coffee, blog.

7:00 am to 8:00 am: blog for Wednesday and Fridays on Tuesday and Thursdays or alternative days, research or continue to do the prep work of the novel

8:00 am to 9:00 am: shower and get dressed; walk dogs; respond to emails

9:00 am to 10:00 am: write PR client copy.

10:00 am to 11:00 am: write queries or letters of introduction.

11:00 am to 12:00 pm: write one AR article.

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm: feed dogs, walk them, lunch; respond to emails

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm: write second AR article.

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm: take a bloody break! Crochet, read, meditate, do some stretches; check email

4:00 pm to 5:30 pm: write Scrivener tutorial.

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm: makes dinner, eat, clean kitchen, take dogs out; check email

7:00 pm to 8:30 pm: write.

8:30 pm to 10:00 pm: read, watch craft videos for writing groups, check FB and make my comments; check email.

10:00 pm to 5:00 am: SLEEP!

I’ve recently started using a timer for my writing and I think I will use it for all the assigned writing tasks. I realize, of course there will be blips in the schedule. Phone-calls and emails, and the occasional removing a dead mouse from the clenched jaws of a terrier—that’s after I stop screaming for ten minutes.

Do I worry about burnout? Yes, but I have big goals this year. So I’m following the George Constanza method of doing the opposite of what I normally do, which is procrastinate until the last moment or not finish the project at all. I also call this routing the no wasted moment approach in which every single minute of the day has a purpose, and I need to put it to good use. So yes, like Ksenia, that means very little interaction with people unless it is work related. In other words, don’t talk to me unless you need to tell me something very important like someone died or the house is burning down, or you’re having a heart attack.

But what about weekends? Well, that’s more writing, and scheduling social media for the week, continuing to flesh out aspects of the story like bios, timelines, research, and anything else that comes up along the way. I will give myself an extra two hours to sleep on Saturday and Sunday.

So now, dear readers, let me turn this question to you…are you keeping a schedule? Is it as cuckoo as mine?


THAT First Sentence

by RS on January 2, 2015

I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first line. It is amazing the terrors, the magics, the prayers, the straitening shyness that assail one. ~ John Steinbeck

Hard to believe that the man who wrote this had any trouble coming up with getting down that first grabber:

To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.

I spent almost an entire week coming up, “He needed a shave, Sandor thought, rubbing his stubbled jawline as he unlocked the door of his brick townhouse.” I fiddled with it and finally came with that gem (cough). Although the chapter turned out okay, I realized 2,600 words later that I went completely in the wrong direction. Yes, he’ll still need a shave because it plays an important part of the story, but everything in the middle needs to be reworked. At the moment it lacks the emotional tension of a man verging on the edge of a breakdown and the micro-tension that lead to that trigger. So it’s back to the drawing board.

This story is very different from Julius. It isn’t political, but it still deals with history and how it shapes the characters. The past and their personal heritage is what drives them. Today I posted a quote (yes, I am full of them today) from Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night:

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

This is the crux of the new story—questions of identity, heritage, and sins of the father. Perhaps not as much research Julius, but I find that I’m questioning more how one reacts when he learns a terrible truth about his heritage that’s a black mark in history. Does he take on the burden of the guilt and come to terms with it or does he shamefully and fearfully hide it? Are the children of criminals responsible for the sins of their fathers? 

Those are the two questions I’ll be trying to figure about one of my main characters of how he lives with his fabrications and what occurs when the truth surfaces. The challenge is to figure out those emotions and be able to add enough tension that makes the reader somewhat uneasy. It’s a difficult task because I’m digging into areas that I’ve never experienced and I need to rely on sheer imagination.

So I end this post with this: 2015 is all about new challenges in life and writing. I welcome them without any complaint.