The Organized Writer-2017

A year ago, I was investigating new ways to keep track of my life. I had evolved from a person who needed a Day Runner to organize family, professional, and pre-published writing lives to a published author with an empty-nest who was no longer on a corporate career path. The revival of the Day Runner in 2016 did not work for me.

In 2017, I tried a Bullet Journal. I made extensive lists of everything I thought I would track: food journal, blog schedule, books to read, brain dumps, dream journal, meal planning, mood tracker, and so on. I bought (a small amount) of washi tape. I bought colored markers. I used an old spiral notebook from my stash.

But my ideas about what I would track weren’t practical for my life. And using a Bullet Journal is all about the individual need.

I do like the layout on which I eventually settled. For months, I convinced myself that sitting down each week to draw my spread for the following week was therapeutic. I gave it a year. A few weeks ago, I even made a spread about what I wanted for next year’s bullet journal. I’ve even narrowed the choice of notebook from my stash to two.

But I’m tired of the set-up work. I need a planner to maintain my life, not the other way around. That’s not to say I won’t ever go back to a Bullet Journal, but I think I want to try something else.

I’ve been looking at Erin Condren. I wince at the cost, but I’m drawn to the lively colors and the ability to customize. I need to explore further.

Book Reading Bingo Update

I honestly thought I’d have half of my Book Bingo Challenge 2017 card filled out by now. Nope.

I think my problem is that I tend to re-read favorites (only one square allows a re-read) or I tend to read in the same categories. An author can be used only once. I tend to read my favorite author’s new releases, which eliminates them from the pool. The point of the challenge is to expand our knowledge of the romance genre by exploring sub-genres.

So far, the squares I have filled in are:

  • Inspirational Romance
  • Romantic Suspense
  • RITA Winner
  • Historical Romance
  • Erotica
  • YA Romance
  • The Billionaire
  • Paranormal Romance
  • Time Travel

It’s time to see what else is on my Kindle.


Me Movies

One of my goals for 2017 was a list of movies I’ve never seen but felt I needed to watch.

Part 1 of the list consisted of the six original Star Trek motion pictures. I loved the original series. I love the rebooted movies (with Chris Pine). How could I have missed the movies with Shatner, Nimory, etc.?

I finally watched the last one. It was probably my favorite of the six, except maybe the whale one.

Now, on to Harry Potter.

Measles and Made-Up Books

When I was in the third grade, I needed to turn in a book report. I hadn’t read a book that I wanted to write a report on, so I made up a book (plotted a story) in my head and wrote about that. Imagine my surprise when my assignment came back with an A+.

I had gamed the system.

However, I also had a very active conscience. And a cousin, who lived next door who happened to have what our parents called the three-day measles*.

The night before the last day of school–where we reported at 9am and were dismissed at 9:30am–guilt kept me awake all night. After my dad left for work, I crawled into bed with my mom and confessed my crime. She told me I had to tell the teacher what I had done.  However, when I went to get dressed, I discovered red spots all over my stomach: I’d caught the three-day measles from my cousin. No school for me!

And that’s how the measles saved my bacon.

*According to Wikipedia, the three-day measles and the German measles are both rubella. Back in my childhood, at least in my family, the two forms were considered different types of measles. But here’s what’s even more curious. As an adult, my doctor ran some blood work on me, and one of the tests was for measles, mumps, rubella. According to the results, I’d never had any of those diseases. Yet I clearly remember having the measles. It was hot. School was out for the summer. My mom pulled out her galvanized washtubs, filled them with water, and let my sibs at them. My parents have photos of me hanging around my sibs and cousins while they sat in the tubs to cool off. I couldn’t go in because I had the measles. Go figure. Anyway, before I got married, I asked my doctor for the MMR inoculation, because I planned to have children and didn’t want to take any risks. My doctor double checked my records, saw that I had remembered the blood work results correctly, and gave me the shot.

“Mexican” Stuffed Shells

I found this recipe on Facebook and have seen it pinned all over Pinterest.

It’s a lot easier to make than it sounds. Trust me.

I tend to use the mild taco seasoning/salsa/taco sauce because some people aren’t into spicy. But if you want medium or hot, go for it!


1 pound ground beef
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning
4 ounces cream cheese (remember when Philly came in 4 oz packages?)
16 jumbo pasta shells
1 1/2 cups salsa (I use a 24 oz jar)
1 cup taco sauce (I use an 8 oz bottle)
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterrey jack cheese (instead of cheddar and Monterrey jack, I use a Mexican blend my supermarket has.)
For toppings:

  • 3 green onions
  • sour cream
  • sliced black olives


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a pan brown the ground beef;
  • add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions.
  • Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted.
  • Stir together and mix well.
  • Set aside and cool completely.
    While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to package directions; drain.
  • Set shells out individually on cutting board or baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.
  • Pour salsa on bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Stuff each shell with 1-2 tablespoons of the meat mixture.
  • Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up.
  • Evenly cover shells with taco sauce.
  • Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes
  • After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes with the foil removed.
  • Top with green onions or olives.
  • Serve with sour cream and/or more salsa!