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New Novel! 99 Cents For Limited Time!

Ready for a fun and clean romance? Been sitting on the edge of the your seat waiting for a new novel by Emily Josephine?

Then I have good news for you! I just published the first book in my “Rock Star Husband” series, Tony’s Rose, and for a limited time (about two weeks) I have it priced at ninety-nine cents. Download it here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077CM7RVF

And please, please, PRETTY PLEASE – if you like the story, give it a review when you finish. TIA!

Again, the novel is available here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077CM7RVF

 

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The Balance Between Planning And Living

There are probably hundreds of books about goal-setting out there. The best kind of goal, of course, has a deadline for accomplishment.

Any number of motivational speakers or authors would probably emphasize the importance of creating a five-year plan, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a CEO of a Forbes 500 company. “Plan your work and work your plan.”

I used to buy into all that. I used to write down goals for various areas of my life, especially my online business. I’m not sure I ever wrote down a specific five-year plan, but I’ve always had a general idea of where I want to eventually end up.

And usually ended up either frustrated or laughing. (God didn’t need to look at my plans and laugh; I did it plenty all by myself).

I finally figured out that my life had become wrapped up in planning, to the extent that I was hardly living.

Putting planning back into its proper place

When you plan, you get out of the moment and live in an imagined, hoped-for future. This is not bad in and of itself. Some things need to be planned, such as special trips or big events. It’s a lot nicer to go on a vacation when you pay for the airline tickets a couple of months in advance to save money and assure yourself a seat, as well as to book a hotel and rental car, than to decide to do this all spur-of-the-moment and end up stressed out because you’ll have to fly on standby or every hotel and motel you call is booked solid for the next week.

In other words, it’s good to plan ahead for events you know are going to happen and are more or less within your control.

And therein lies the sticky point.

Some of us (commonly known as “perfectionists”) constantly live in the future. We think we can control everything, and if just stay in constant planning mode the chips will fall exactly where we want them to, rather than where they may.

But, I have sad news for myself and my fellow perfectionists:

You can’t control everything.

You can’t control how your children turn out.

If you’re overweight, you can’t control where your weight ends up – no matter what the health and fitness gurus try to tell you – when you set out to lose weight.

You can’t control the choices other people make.

You can’t control how your friends and love ones are going to change.

You simply don’t know how you are going to change.

You can’t control the global economy.

I could go on, but you get my drift.

Is it time to start living?

I now believe in macro planning. If you want to retire before you’re fifty years old, sure, make a plan. If you want to be published by a traditional publisher, make a plan. If you want to be healthier, make a plan.

But then, take action. Every day, take a step or three that will get you toward the goals indicated by the plan. Some days will be harder than others. Something might happen that will keep you from reaching the end result of the plan as early as you’d hoped.

Therefore, as you are taking action, keep your plan flexible. If I may wax cliché-ish for a moment, when a storm comes and hurricane-like winds blow, you want to bend, not break.

J and I made a plan to be financially independent by a certain year. The crash of 2008 shifted it by two or three years. Around age thirty, I planned to get novels published by a traditional publishing house. Technology and opportunity – and, dare I add, a big pile of rejection letters – pushed me in the direction of becoming an Indie author.

So I guess there are two questions here:

  1. Are your plans flexible enough that you won’t go into a tailspin when life happens? And,
  2. Are your plans either macro or geared toward not-too-distant future events that you can have a lot of control over?

If you honestly answer “no” to either of those, then the next question – the important question – is, is it time to start living?

It’s true that making forward progress on your life is difficult if you are so in the moment that your circumstances constantly dictate what you do. So some planning is perhaps not only helpful, but also necessary.

You have to find a balance. Everyone has approximately 192 waking minutes to their day. Most of them should be spent on living, not planning.

If you’ve been seeking more happiness, this just might be the key…

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Five Ways To Calm Your Ruffled Mind

Has your mind ever been ruffled? Mine has. As a matter of fact…

…I’m stuck with my latest novel. I have spent the past three days racking my brain about the next step in getting the characters to where I want them to be, and keep coming up empty.

…I have several each of kale and Chinese cabbage seedlings that will be ready to plant out within the next month. I want to put them in the garden, but unless we get a really hard freeze, I will have to fight the grasshoppers for the plants. They already destroyed my first garden planting of kale this year.

…Self-watering planters for next summer: yes! But, the bucket method or the sub-irrigation raised bed method? If I choose the latter, that will waste a whole lot of trellis that J worked hard to construct.

In other words, my mind might be the poster child for “ruffled” right now.

“A ruffled mind makes for a restless pillow,” Charlotte Bronte once wrote.

I think if you’re over twenty-five years of age, your mind has been ruffled at least once. If you’re a woman over forty-five years of age, it probably gets ruffled on a regular basis.

This is hardly the first time my mind has been ruffled, and earlier in my life I’ve faced more ruffling events than getting stuck writing a novel.

Should I purchase a home, like my financial advisor is strongly suggesting? Or should I keep renting?

Is he my soul mate, or will I ruin my life if I marry him? (Especially since he wants children, and I *GULP* don’t.)

Wow, so we can retire super-early. Where should we live? How many acres do we want? Can we really be happy living way out here?

I can’t say that I’ve been losing sleep over either my novel or the garden. I have, however, lost a good bit of peace over the former, feeling like I’ve wasted my days over my negative progress. A lot of people do, however, lose sleep over big questions and life-changing decisions.

Their minds are ruffled. The first question is:

Is a ruffled mind always a bad thing?

Many self-help books tell you to think and speak positively. One single negative thought can destroy your life…at least, to hear certain authors tell it. Heaven forbid your mind be in chaos over a life issue you’re facing.

I understand that chronic negatively will only drag a person down. It will keep them from going after what they really want out of life. I get that.

However, to experience occasional periods of mental chaos is not only natural, but helpful. First of all, how could you possibly grow as a person if everything was smooth sailing all the time and you never had to struggle with a decision or wrestle with a problem? Answer: you wouldn’t. Wisdom comes from not having life handed to you on a silver platter.

Second of all, creativity comes out of chaos. This creativity is definitely beneficial to the person dealing with the ruffled mind. But the benefits can extend beyond them, and help others as well. Think about how chaotic Thomas Edison’s lab must have looked as he tried to invent the light bulb over 100 times. And don’t think he never felt ruffled over the problem!

So, a ruffled mind is not always a bad thing. But it can steal your peace, increase your stress levels, and/or cause you to lose sleep if you’re not careful.

How to calm a ruffled mind

That said, here are a few ideas to help you calm your ruffled mind.

*1. Let it go.

If the issue isn’t critical to your well-being, drop it for a while. Your subconscious has a wonderful way of solving problems when you hand them over to it.

*2. Get busy with something else.

I’m doing that right now. So my muse is feeling like a mouse on an exercise wheel. So what? I can write a blog post instead of working on my novel.

Can’t decide which apartment complex to move into? Or maybe you’re looking at a more general move: a new city? Shelve those apartment brochures, turn off the videos about the different cities, and indulge in tiny house videos for a while instead. Or arrange for a visit with a relative who lives on a farm. Something related to housing, but that will refocus your mind on something lighter for a while.

Not sure whether he or she is the one you want to marry? If you’ve been seeing each other several times a week, take a month off. Go out with friends instead. Or stay home and catch up on that hobby you’ve been meaning to get to. How much – and how soon – you begin to miss the person will aid you in coming to a marriage decision.

Maybe you’ve only ever seen each other in group outings. Time for some one-on-one, then. Maybe you’ve only dated once a week. Try going out in public every day for fourteen days straight. How you feel about the person after that will be very telling indeed!

*3. Do something fun.

Go watch your favorite kind of movie with your favorite person, then have a meal of your favorite food, and then go play some paintball. Play a couple rounds of miniature golf. Go camping. Or to the beach.

Find a the nearest karaoke night, and go sing your heart out. Watch a series of funny videos. Listen to your favorite singer, then read the latest by your favorite author.

Pick something that won’t break the budget, and go for it! Doing something fun opens up the mind in amazingly creative ways.

*4. Examine the issue from different angles.

To do this, you may have to ask for other people’s input, as it is often difficult to look at something that’s frustrating you from a different perspective. When you do that, you will likely start to get inklings of ideas that will give you more confidence that yes, you can make this decision. Even if you don’t come to a decision as soon as you would like, just having that confidence will restore your mental peace.

Be aware that examining an issue from several angles can actually increase your state of “ruffledness.” This is especially so if you get on an online forum and ask for the other members’ opinions. Should that happen, pare down the options given to those that number one, make sense to you and number two, “feel” right (or at least on the right track) when you consider them.

*5. Practice relaxing routines.

Create two relaxation routines, a short one that you can implement in the middle of a work day and a longer one that will help you wind down starting an hour before bed. The short one can be something like drinking a cup of fruit tea while you listen to classical music, or taking a ten-minute stroll while you silently pray or meditate.

The longer one could involve elements such as taking a bath, mutual foot massage with your spouse, and enjoying a piece of dark chocolate while you listen to your favorite music. Keep anything negative – such as watching the news or dramatic T.V. shows, or having heated discussions about family issues that can wait until the next day – out of the picture.

Be ruffled, but not overly so

Sometimes, your mind is going to get ruffled. And sometimes, that’s a good thing. But when it gets to the point of becoming a “restless pillow”, incorporate any of the five above ideas into your life, and watch your peace roll back to you like a gentle ocean wave.

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Do What You Can With What You Have

Ever feel like you’re less than? Like there’s something you really want to try, but you’re convinced that you could never be skilled enough or talented enough to make it worthwhile?

And if one more person tells you, “There’s always somebody better than you, and there’s always somebody worse than you,” you are going to scream.

Because you’ve already repeated that mantra to yourself a hundred times.

A few months back I wrote about feeling that I’m not made for novel-writing because I can’t come up with stories with super-interesting plot twists. How the suspense and thriller writers do it is beyond me. Even straight-on formula romance writers often engage their characters in an intriguing settings and interesting events that have me scratching my head and doubting my creative ability to write fiction.

Taking it back even further: I used to want to sing like Julie Andrews or Barbara Streisand (I’ve mentioned that in a blog post, too).

I’d finally gotten over myself enough to go on and write another novel, and now I am writing the second book in the series. But while writing the first book, every once in a while I would look at my plot and think, “Gee, this isn’t exactly a page-turner.”

Neither was it as humorous as I’d intended it to be (although it’s probably the most light-hearted novel I’ve written yet). The novel I’m working on now is even less so.

What’s the deal?

And why, at age forty-seven and having read more than my share of self-help and motivational books, and having declared myself on my blog as having been cured from this self-confidence issue, do I continue to struggle with not being My Ideal Self?

Once again, God speaks to me through a book

I just got done reading the novel Home by Ginny Yttrup. It’s published by Barbour Publishing. Ever heard of them? Yeah, being a Christian publishing house, it’s not the biggest, but any avid reader of inspirational fiction and/or Christian non-fiction will have heard of them.

The characters are real. So is the story. No FBI agents saving a kidnapped woman, no fugitives running from Interpol, no family feuds. Just real people, dealing with issues that any of us might have.

Not a page-turner by any means. Well, except one page, the way Ginny ends one of the chapters. But for the most part, the plot is nothing that makes your heart pound in anticipation and forget to eat because you have to finish the book today.

Yet…I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Though it’s down-to-earth and simple, I found it worth reading. Actually, it blessed me in a personal way, helped me appreciate my marriage (and my husband) more.

And did I mention that this is not an Indie novel, but one published by a traditional publishing house?

The book blessed me in a personal way, yes, but God also used it to speak to my professional life. My author life.

As a matter of fact, He led me to reread the book. Right away.

Ask J how often I reread a book.

Hardly ever.

Once I’ve read a book, I’m done. Hand me the next one! I don’t know if I’ll ever figure out J’s desire to reread the same book dozens of times (no exaggeration).

But I re-read it. And this time around, I realized something.

The second time’s the charm

Actually, I realized several things.

  • A great story doesn’t have to be filled with barely-believable events and superhero-like protagonists.
  • Many (perhaps most?) readers appreciate a serious story as much as they enjoy a humorous one.
  • I can write a story like this – a story, that, a-HEM, a literary agent or traditional publisher might accept.
  • However humorous I can make blog posts or non-fiction books, my novels tend to take on a serious tone.
  • That’s okay, because many (most?) readers appreciate a serious novel.
  • Therefore, why am I trying to be someone I’m not?

Bringing the message home (no pun intended)

There are a lot of “gurus” on the Internet, trying to coerce into buying courses or e-books so that you can be just like them. You will lose weight like they did. You will make money with a blog like they do. You will retire from your day job by flipping websites like they did. You will learn how to play the guitar like Eddie Van Halen. Like, of course, they did.

Et cetera.

You may have a passion for writing, for entrepreneurship, for health, for music, for art, for crafting jewelry, for teaching, for any number of things. And you know you have developed your skills and knowledge to a level somewhere above beginner.

And you want to put yourself and your skills and talent out there to the world in some form or fashion.

You have two choices. You can do what you can with what you have. And start going somewhere.

And feel fulfilled – happy, even.

Or you can look at the gurus, realize that you will never be able to achieve exactly what they have achieved, and throw in the towel.

Which are you going to choose?

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