Launch Week of Organized for Murder

It’s been several days since I’ve had time to blog on organization tips because I’ve been blogging so much on the new release. Anyone reading this who purchased ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, read & reviewed it, and/or blogged about it to share the news, thank you so very much. I cannot begin to put into words how much it has meant to see people like this book and help spread the news about it.

Early reviews and sales have been overwhelming. More than a hundred 5-star reviews on the online bookseller sites, and the book hit #1 on Amazon’s Cozy Crafts & Hobbies category on the first day. Right now, it’s still #4 as an Amazon Cozy, #1 on their Top Rated books, #2 in Hot New Cozy Releases, and #13 for Women Sleuths, which means that my amateur sleuth is measured against the popularity of all the other women sleuths in all the different categories of the mystery genre–what a thrill! On the B&N side, my book is currently #23 in Bestselling Mysteries–what a thrill to have the first book in my new series appear on the first page of that list! And while this is what I could call a very American cozy mystery, it’s become a pretty good hit in the U.K. as well, and by yesterday, which was Day 2 there on sales, it reach #26 in Bestselling Mystery category, and remains #1 on the U.K. Bestseller list for Cozy Crafts & Hobbies, just like the U.S.Image

While I meant to give a few more organization tips this week, the best tip I can offer today is to suggest if you have any interest in what I humbly call a good mystery, and/or like to read about ways to make your life more organized–but prefer to get the information in the midst of an intriguing cozy crime story instead of a conventional How-To book–please consider buying ORGANIZED FOR MURDER. Until the end of this week, it’s available in all ebook versions at the bargain price of 99 cents, but that price will go up to the regular pricing soon. So, if you want to save some money, get a well-reviewed mystery, and gain some organization tips along the way, please consider purchasing a copy of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER 

It’s available in print copy, too, at the Barnes & Noble site and the Amazon U.K. website, but the sale price is only for the ebook version. You can find all the easy links to buy by clicking on my page ‘Here’s Where To Buy My Books’ that you see listed just under the banner at the top of this page.

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Kitchen Organization Tips

Today is Day 2 of my mini-blog tour at my publisher’s FB page (Thank you, Gemma Halliday), and I’m offering a couple of new tips I use every day that not only keeps my kitchen organized, but also helps me save on my food budget. Look for the post in the left column of the page, and be sure to click ‘See More’ at the end of Gemma’s intro paragraph to see the rest of the blog. If you didn’t read the tips posted yesterday and the day before, scroll down that same column and you’ll find those posts, too! Happy Saturday, everyone! https://www.facebook.com/gemmahallidayauthorPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]

All of these tips, of course, are to get you thinking about buying my newest mystery novel ORGANIZED FOR MURDER which will be released in all ebook formats and print on Monday, Feb. 24th. The sale links go live on Monday, and I’ll post all bookseller links here. In the meantime, come back tomorrow for the last day of my mini-blog, and learn a couple of other organization tips you won’t find in the book.

One final note: to tie to the Monday, Feb. 24th release for ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, my publisher has set the price on the first book in my other series COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES at a one-week bargain price of 99 cents–but today is the LAST DAYCOUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES is specially priced across all ebook formats at all online booksellers–BUT IT GOES BACK TO REGULAR PRICING TOMORROW! Click the page above marked Here’s Where To Buy My Books to find clickable links. :)

Posting Organization Tips Today on My Publisher’s Facebook Page

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]My wonderful publisher, Gemma Halliday, is offering me her Facebook page for the next three days to post even more great organization tips. How cool is that? You don’t have to be her Facebook friend to see the tips (though you can be), just go to her Author page at https://www.facebook.com/gemmahallidayauthor and look for the cover of my book near the top of the left hand column. Also, be sure to click on the blue ‘See More’ link near the end of her introductory paragraph to bring up my organization tips.

Enjoy! More tips will be posted on her FB page tomorrow and Saturday, and here on this site you can still read the Chapter One excerpt on my post for yesterday.

One final note: to tie to the Monday, Feb. 24th release for ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, my publisher has set the price on the first book in my other series COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES at a one-week bargain price of 99 cents–but that special price only lasts through tomorrow, Feb. 22nd. COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES is specially priced across all ebook formats at all online booksellers. Click the page above marked Here’s Where To Buy My Books to find clickable links. :)

Kate McKenzie’s Down To Earth Organization Style

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]The main character in ORGANIZED FOR MURDER is Kate McKenzie, wife, mother of twins, and small business owner. While her daily focus is on keeping her family’s and clients’ lives running efficiently and well-organized, she’s a pretty easygoing person and doesn’t feel one must go to heroic (or expensive) measures to keep life running smoothly.

In the book, she speaks at an organization workshop in the local bookstore. This is a little taste of her common sense approach to keeping a household on-track, and may give you some ideas, too.

Kate’s Notes: How to Keep a Happily Organized Home (for the organization presentation)

Unless you live alone, don’t try to organize your home by yourself. Involve the same people who helped get your disordered abode in its present state. Teamwork isn’t just more efficient time-wise, it’s critical if you want to make permanent organizational changes.

Learn as a team to clean as you go. No one is too young or too old to help in some way. Children can learn to put away one toy before taking out another, and the whole family can help load the dishwasher by rinsing and placing their own used tableware in after each meal. Hang hooks for coats and clothes, collect boxes and bins for toys, file paperwork as you’re finished with it and easily find what is needed later.

Most of all, don’t expect perfection at all times—the white glove test died with the 1950s. Ten minutes a day of family pick-up time, with everyone pitching in once a week for an hour to accomplish the big cleaning, and your house will stay comfortable for daily living and inviting when unexpected guests arrive.

ORGANIZED FOR MURDER will be released February 24th by Gemma Halliday Publishing. If you’re interested in learning more about the book, you can read early reviews at the novel’s GoodReads page. I’ll be posting the bookseller links when they go live next week.

Also, to tie-in with the release for ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, my publisher set the price on the first book in my other series COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES at a one-week bargain price of 99 cents–but that deal only lasts until Feb 22nd. You can find this special pricing in all ebook formats. Click the page above marked Here’s Where To Buy My Books to find clickable links to all online booksellers.

Easy Office Organization Tips

As I revealed yesterday, my new cozy mystery ORGANIZED FOR MURDER will be released next Monday, February 24, 2014. And while many an early reviewer on GoodReads notes the novel’s great tips woven within a satisfying mystery, I’m using this blog to give some organization tips that readers won’t find within the covers of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER. Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]

The main protagonist, Kate McKenzie, has a small business named Stacked in Your Favor, and has office space carved out of a back bedroom in her home. At a couple of points in the book, the story takes readers into Kate’s office, and we learn a few of the little things she does to keep her office organized. But there are many more.

Since I’ve had a nonfiction writing business for about 15 years, I’ve tried a number of ways to keep my home office organized so I can stay on-track and in-the-black when it comes to my writing bottom-line. I’ve tried file cabinets–even have one that still pulls its weight on a regular basis, and my husband has built me custom closet shelves (thank you, sweetheart) that meet, and thanks to his ideas actually exceed, my original expectations. But those are both big items that take a lot of space and planning, and there are several smaller, low cost ways to keep an office organized.

Mostly, I hate to look for things, and here are some of the ways I keep from having to deal with that pet peeve, ideas to use that work in smaller, less defined space. So if your office is part of the dining room, or even a confiscated walk-in closet, these tips will help keep the organization level High and allow the stress level from not being able to find things to remain Low.

My first tip for today is 3-Ring Notebooks. The second is Post-It Notes. The third is Colors. And here’s how all three of those things work together:

I use and reuse 3-ring notebooks all the time, and have every size and color to choose from. That five-drawer filing cabinet I previously mentioned is for the long-term, not-going-to-get-into-it regularly kind of stuff I need to keep handy. For current projects and information I use all the time, I stick with 3-ring notebooks for these reasons:

  1. It’s easy to keep everything together.and to tab sections for easier reference. The bigger the project, the more parts there usually are to it. For every project I use the first tabbed section for my Contact sheet–a list of all the people I will contact or have contacted to complete this project, and when any new names and numbers are given to me during the project it’s easy to find the Contact sheet and document the information.
  2. Notebooks are pros at standing on the floor near my feet, to be ready to grab as I’m writing on my computer. Unlike file folders, most of my project notebooks stand up easily on their own, need no bookshelf–though one can be easily used if you have the space. If I’m using a particularly skinny binder all I have to do is prop it against the desk or table leg.
  3. I have all the project material ready to grab and go if I need to work with it on the run.
  4. I can “color code” my projects easily, always using the same color notebook for whatever is the current “hot” project(s), and find all the coordinating notebooks in the same color if I need to divide a large project into more than one notebook. This is critical since life tends to make us have to work on a number of things all at the same time. Having a one color for each subject/project/task  means I only have to look for that color when I’m sweeping through the house looking for material. I even try to use the same color Post-It Notes, so I don’t have to even think to know which project a note on my wall or calendar relates to. I use black notebooks for material that stays in the same notebook all year, such as the ones for Invoices and Checks Received.
  5. I can use printable labels to mark both the front and the spine of the notebook for easier visibility, then when the project is completed and the notebook is emptied for the next project I just peel the old labels and add new ones.
  6. Because the material all stays organized as the project progresses, when it does come time to unload the notebook(s) and file the material, that’s a snap. I use the tabbed dividers in the notebook to determine how many file folders I need for archival purposes, and label the folders accordingly. For projects that don’t need to be filed into folders, just kept for a short time for archival need, I simply recycle my nifty ‘saved’ Amazon boxes by loading the pages into their new cardboard home, tape up the top, and mark the contents in black marker on the outside–if I know a “destroy date” I add that on the outside, too. Since the notebook kept everything in order, the contents now remain organized in the Amazon box.
  7. Notebooks go on sale each year around the time school starts, so I always know I can stock up at a discount (and on my favorite Post-It products, too). After school starts, I often find notebooks on discounted tables in office supply stores, as well, so keep your eyes open.

That’s my tip of the day for office/project organization. Feel free to leave tips of your own in the comments section.

One more savings is that to tie to the run-up of the release for ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, my publisher has set the price on the first book in my other series COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES at a one-week bargain price of 99 cents. You can find it on all ebook formats (that’s what’s on special) or in print at all on line booksellers. Click the page above marked Here’s Where To Buy My Books to find clickable links.

And come back tomorrow for more organization tips 🙂

How Pictures Can Help Organize Life

A week from today, on February 24th 2014, marks the release date of ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, the first book in my new cozy Organized Mysteries series, with amateur sleuth and organizational expert Kate McKenzie. For a fun tie-in to the book, my publisher, Gemma Halliday Publishing, and I are running organization tips here on my blog and later in the week on her Facebook author page (but I’ll post info on the days of the posting for her site when the dates get closer). Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]

Today, I want to cover a couple of ways I used pictures for years to help my kids keep themselves and their space organized. I know every child is different, but most little kids really want to help. They just don’t always understand how.

With young ones, I quickly realized two things: 1) all little children love playing match games, and 2) kids love marking things off lists after tasks are completed.

Getting kids to clean their rooms and keep things neat isn’t impossible if they’re taught workable methods and have the right tools. Small lidded plastic bins and boxes collect millions of pieces, like Legos, KNex, Hot Wheels, Barbie clothes, and other items that can drift unchecked through your home. Larger tubs and containers are great for blocks and balls, play dishes and larger trucks, train sets, and any kind of track system. But the problem with these containers is that too often they become a jumble of everything.

Use see-thru containers when possible but, better yet, always label what goes inside whether kids can see inside or not. If a container is empty, kids will just throw anything inside if they don’t know for sure what goes there.

For children too young to read, marking the outside of the container isn’t enough—but a great alternative is to let little ones draw pictures or find photos of the items in magazines, or snap a digital photo and paste it on the outside. Kids love putting pictures onto containers with tape or a glue stick. And once this is done, they can match the picture on the outside to the toys they want to put away later.

Another way to corral wandering items is to use a hanging shoe organizer on the back of the closet door, and tape or glue pictures onto the pouches to show what goes in each one. Most children don’t have enough shoes to fill the pouches, but the extras can easily store umbrellas, caps, or other small items. Add another organizer to the back of the bedroom door for toys, like cars or fashion dolls, or even small stuffed animals. And, again, a picture on each pouch reminds the child what belongs there to keep the room tidy, and to be able to easily find the item later.

Beyond the use of pictures to show where everything goes, I regularly drew pictures on short chore charts. The pictures showed what needed to be done that day or that week, and when the job was completed the reward was to get to put a star or some other favorite sticker over the drawn task picture to show the work was finished. I didn’t have to constantly remind about the tasks, and knowing they’d get to cover the picture with a sticker made kids start doing everything much quicker. You don’t have to be a Picasso to draw on a chore chart like this [though some of my drawing did have a bit of the unreal Picasso feel to them 🙂 ], and again, you can always snap a digital shot of the task and print a picture to remind what needs to be completed if you’re not comfortable drawing it.

To paraphrase the old staying, I found pictures did keep this mother from saying a thousand words—LOL!

Now that I’ve given you ideas for using pictures to help teach your kids organization, here’s  a great BuzzFeed post that gives more than a dozen clever ways adults can use pictures to simplify and organize life. Take a look: Use your camera phone to keep your life on track.

If you liked any of these tips today, please come back for more tips the rest this week. I also incorporated tips like these in my novel ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, too, and it will go on-sale at all online booksellers on February 24th. Yes, I’ll post the links here when they go live. And in the meantime, for more information on the book, check out the GoodReads page for a synopsis on the novel and the great early reviews that have already been posted:  GoodReads Organized for Murder

Do you have any organization problems in your home, work, or life? Post them as a Comment, and I’ll try to come up with a solution for you.