We’re Going Into the Home Stretch…

Duomo complex with Giotto bell towerDo you know how writer’s whine? Well, let me tell you I’ve been happily whining up a storm lately because I’m having such a difficult time staying focused. But all the promos are starting on Marked Masters, the second book in my Bodies of Art Mysteries, and that makes me think of Florida and Florence, Italy–the two places Laurel & Jack focus their own attention in the book. The picture at the right shows the Duomo complex in Florence (you can see a hint of the exquisite dome on the far right edge) and the Giotto Bell Tower in the background plays a key role in the book. So… I’m having some difficulty staying in one point of view each day, and my cozy deadline is looming, and I have to keep reminding myself to get out of Laurel’s smart mouth POV and back into Kate’s much nicer and more dedicated one. However, Girl and Her Ebooks did a lovely chapter excerpt of Marked Masters over Valentine’s weekend, along with the synopsis of the noveland readers who received pre-release ARCs of the book have already started posting reviews of Marked Masters on Goodreads. So, I alternate between whining and grinning all day every day. And writing, of course–I seem to never stop writing 🙂

Giotto bell towerThe fun will continue in the next couple of weeks. As I posted here last week, I did a giveaway of a Bodies of Art large canvas tote bag at Laffeinated Ink on Wednesday, and plan to do another very soon. I’ll also be giving away copies of the book in March when I guest post at a couple of blogs, so stay tuned for information on those prize ops–I promise to post all the information here in case any readers want to enter. And if you haven’t yet subscribed to my newsletter, there will be more giveaway tie-ins offered with the next issues, so feel free to sign-up for my newsletter here.

I’ve also been putting some finishing touches on a short story that features Laurel Beacham doing one of her “pro bono” retrievals. I’ll post when it’s available for viewing soon. It will be on the Short Stories page whose link is along the banner at the top of this page, and which currently contains the link to my Organized Christmas story.

Moonrise over the Arno in FlorenceHope your February is going well, and you’re staying warm. We just had four inches of snow last night, and expect another couple overnight tonight. So my agenda for the next few days is to stay in, keep dry, and don’t stop writing. And to view wonderful pics like these of Florence to take my mind off the cold. If things get too difficult, I’ll have a little wine with my whine. Sounds like a good plan, right? Florence at Night

In the meantime, here are a few more wonderful shots of Florence that tie in with the events in Marked Masters. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Now, I have to get back to my Organized camping trip. I can almost taste the s’mores–David by Michelangelowhen I’m not helping Kate solve the murder of course!  Buonasera!

To purchase Marked Master in print or ebook, you can find the links on my Where to Buy My Books page. The book will be released in all bookseller outlets March 2nd.Florence at Night



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. :)

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.

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.