What’s Your Theme for 2018?

Cole Smith







by Cole Smith


Do you have a yearly theme? 2017 was a fantastic yet terrifying year for me. Learning to drive stick-shift, finishing a novel and sending it to beta readers, starting a blog – there were a lot of overwhelming days when the couch and a book looked pretty darn appealing. To keep from succumbing to the siren song of quitting, I’d mutter my slogan for the year: “Do it scared!”

Notice, that slogan is neither original nor specific. But it was exactly what I needed to shift (sometimes literally from stalling at a traffic light) back to where I needed to be. Pick a personal motto for 2018 to set your intention for the year.


Do You Have a Yearly Theme?


It will start your year off on a positive note.

January is unspoiled and full of potential. Late December, on the other hand, often holds more stale failed resolutions than leftover fruitcake. Capture January’s energy and positivity by setting the mood for the months to come, and sticking with it.


It will keep you accountable.

One reason resolutions sputter and die by March is the lack of accountability. How do you check in with yourself? No one will know if you hit the snooze button instead of the gym. But you’ll have to face that slogan. You can crank up the pressure by giving a friend permission to say the magic words if you start slipping.


It will keep you going when you want to quit.

Feelings lie. It feels right to watch tv instead of knocking out 300 more words on your work-in-progress. It feels good to sleep in. And, at least in the short-term, eating that massive bowl of ice cream feels like heaven’s blessing.

Get a stack of sticky notes and wallpaper the house with your motto. Stick a reminder on the remote control, the freezer door, the alarm clock. Our feelings have a really short attention span. So remind them who’s boss by whispering your affirming slogan (or shouting it from your back porch). All that reinforcement will reprogram your brain and alter your habits.

Choose a Theme for Your Year


My focus for this year is to build on the momentum of 2017 (or, in the case of driving manual transmission, at least to coast on my momentum as long as possible… Please change, traffic light, hurry!). I’m still narrowing down themes for a motto that resonates with my goals, one that sings when I say it. I’ll know it when I find it.

May 2018 be a year that pushes you, but kindly. And, if you need to, you can whisper, “Do it scared!”




Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at www.colesmithwrites.com.


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Asking for more

mow-book-launch-003-4Posted by Kathy Waller


When the January schedule for Writing Wranglers and Warriors came out, I was pleased to find I would post on Friday the 13th. Last month–I’ve spent the past three hours writing about exactly what happened last month, but the result was so deadly dull it could have been used as a substitute for Ambien, so I’ll summarize–

Anyway, I got the dates mixed up, tried to post a day ahead of schedule, ended up posting a day behind schedule, took the post down–

In short, Friday the 13th seemed a good idea. You can’t forget Friday the 13th. Unless you forget to look at the calendar until 10:00 p.m. on the 12th.

So I spent three hours banging away at the keyboard only to find that the result read more like typing than writing. I hate it when that happens. Fortunately, I’ve been blogging long enough to have a safety net.

I rummaged around in my old blog, Whiskertips, and came across the following piece. It was originally posted on January 1, 2010. I’d forgotten all about it, and I’m glad to have it back.

I need to remember the words.

More than that, I need to remember I wrote them.


"Rosebud in Dew" licensed by Lisa Hall-Wilson under CC BY-SA 2.0
“Rosebud in Dew” is licensed by Lisa Hall-Wilson under CC BY-SA 2.0


… Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. ~ Luke 11:9, King James Bible


What do I ask for the coming year?

I ask for less:

Less judgment, less cynicism, less prejudice;

Less fear, less worry, less self-absorption;

Less anger, less blindness, less pettiness;

Less noise, less need.


What do I ask for the coming year?

I ask for more.

More reading, more writing, more stories, more words;

More friends and family, more people and places, more earth and sky;

More listening, more loving, more giving;

More kindness and compassion;

More gratitude;

More health and vitality;

More fun, more joy, more laughter;

More knowledge and understanding;

More vision, more imagination, more creation;

More patience, more serenity;

More letting go;

More openness, more growth;

More courage;

More faith and hope;

More beauty;

More life.


"Sunset on 401" is licensed by Lisa Hall-Wilson under CC BY-SA 2.0
“Sunset on 401” is licensed by Lisa Hall-Wilson under CC BY-SA 2.0


I own a writing calendar, a date book, and a Franklin planner. Over the years, I’ve owned four Franklin planners in a variety of colors and sizes. They were all pretty but none of them worked. I’ve given all that up to concentrate on taking the key out of the ignition before locking the car.


Kathy Waller is a member of Austin Mystery Writers,
the Writers’ League of Texas, and Story Circle Network.
She edits the Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter website
and blogs at Telling the Truth, Mainly.
A resident of Austin,
she has two cats and one husband.

One husband
One husband
Two cats
Two cats


Post (c) by Doris McCraw/Angela Raines


What is it about the New Year that has us all making plans for what we will accomplish in the months to come? Is it the idea of starting over? Probably. I would submit that we should treat each day as a start over. A re-creation if you will.

We all need recreation. But do we take the time to realize what recreation is? It is re-creating. I suggest we think about how we re-create our lives when we take that time off.


For me recreation is reading or writing. Sometimes it’s research or speaking. Each time I sit down at the keyboard, or get in front of an audience I am not only enjoying myself, but I’m re-creating myself. I’m adding to what I am.

A friend suggested if I write my memoir, I should title it, “No One Told Her She Couldn’t”. She’s heard me say it many times, and you know what, she’s right. I’ve done so many things in my life because I figured , why not?

Recently I’ve self-published a novel. It was not in my plans, for I love my publisher. I did it because I had the chance to write a series along with ten other authors about a family. It was a challenge I didn’t want to pass up. We all have our stories up for pre-sale at $.99 until our release date, then it goes to $2.99.


So, as you can see, each day, each time I breathe, I re-create myself. It gives me joy and let’s face it, it is lots of fun. In my lifetime I’ve had the chance to experience so much because I was open to the recreation.

Think about what you do for fun, your re-creation. Don’t just make goals, resolutions, etc., use everyday to re-create your life and have fun while doing it. Who knows where you will be on December 31, 2017, but what fun you’ll have getting there.

For those interested in the novel/series, check out Amazon’s “Grandma’s Wedding Quilts”. http://amzn.to/2iVfF1h  My particular story is “Josie’s Dream”.  http://amzn.to/2itPfVK  

Have a wonderful 2017, filled with fun, love, laughter and recreation.

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Doris also writes haiku posted at – http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com  Check out her other work and like her Amazon author page:  http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL


Happy New Year!!

This post by Jennifer Flaten


Happy New Year!!


While I don’t make resolutions, I do spend some time reflecting on the past year.


After spending some time watching my own internal highlight reel, I have to say that aside from the kitten breaking his leg, the year was fairly good. As always there is room for improvement, but overall I am satisfied with my year.


There is one accomplishment that I am most proud of this year. It involves my jewelry business, Dragon and Butterfly Design, in order to grow my business I decided to do some in person selling at craft fairs. In fact, I did three craft fairs.


I am an introvert, so going being at a craft show and interacting with a steady stream of people is a huge deal for me. Even at my part time job I am not required to deal with people constantly. So, doing one craft fair, let alone three, is a huge deal. I won’t say that I enjoyed the shows–they were stressful–but afterward I did feel very glad that I’d done them. I even plan on doing a few more in the coming year.


What was your biggest accomplishment for 2015?


2015 is here, what about 2014?

Travis Richardson_5x7_300dpi (1)



By Travis Richardson


So here we are in 2015 and I didn’t get all that I wanted to get done in 2014. Nope. I set up some high goals.Chekhov Shorts in Color I was going to read and review the 201 Anton Chekhov short stories that were translated by Constance Garnett. It was a project that a friend and I set out to start on Chekhov’s 154th birthday. My friend made it to about 100 when he dropped out. (He has a good excuses as he started a new business venture in the middle of the year and has two kids.) Also, after the hundred mark, the stories got longer, some becoming 30 and 40 thousand word novellas. I have ten days to go to finish before the short story and playwriting master’s 155 birthday. I’m at 182, so maybe I can pull it off, but with work and other distractions it might wrap up in February. http://www.chekhovshorts.com/


I also posted in January that I was going to read 29 books.  https://writingwranglersandwarriors.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/reading-challenge/  That didn’t happen. I only hit 23 (that doesn’t include the Chekhov stories.) I followed some of the things on my list, but I didn’t hit five like reading an author’s biography or after 13 books switching up the gender of the dominant authors. I started the year reading two female authors but then read mostly male authors thereafter. I own several books by women, but my reading skewed male last year. I hope to open it up this year. I also, noticed that I hadn’t read hardcover books in quite a while.


If it’s a hardcover, I may never read it. Sorry.

Either paperback or e-reader. Something about the size and weight of the hardcover I care for anymore. Carrying it to the gym, traveling with it (my wife and I travelled a lot – this post is being written from a motel in Palm Springs), setting it on my bedside table that is full electronic gadgets and water, etc. I forced myself to open up the hardcover of Matt Coyle‘s Yesterday’s Echo and I’m glad I did.

This year I made a spread sheet that tracks writing, reading, story and agent submissions. I put a 700 words a day goal on it along with 2 books, 20 short stories, 2 story submissions, and 3 agent submissions a month. You can find it here: http://goo.gl/jRTB66

writing spreadsheet








Feel free to download it and manipulate it however you’d like. It’s nothing as complex as Erin Farwell’s post last month with a writing tracking spreadsheet. I’m quite certain that I won’t hit all my goals as my wife and I are expecting a little one in May, but I don’t want to stop writing and reading either, so hopefully this will keep me on track.

So farewell 2014 and hello 2015. I’m wishing all of you more success this year than last. Do you have any goals for this year?




smaller Lost in Clover for web












Travis Richardson is fortunate to have been nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity short story awards for “Incident on the 405,” featured in MALFEASANCE OCCASIONAL: GIRL TROUBLE. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in several online zines and anthologies. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime LA newsletter, reviews Chekhov shorts at www.chekhovshorts.com and sometimes shoots a short movie. His latest novella is KEEPING THE RECORD. www.tsrichardson.com

thuglit13ADR #4 V3



New Year Brings New Goals and an Uncertain But Hopeful Future

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin


Looking back on my goals for 2014 recently I realized I didn’t attain as much as I’d hoped. Yet, despite what I thought and planned to attain, new opportunities and possibilities did emerge, and I walked those pathways. Another new year is upon us, and though we never know the future, we can continue striving toward goals, old and new, revived and updated.

For example, last year I had hopes of securing new children’s magazines for which to write. I received several rejections on various articles and by the time I thought I’d re-write, re-submit, and re-think topics and queries, I received three new assignments in addition to the four already given to me by WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric News). I also continued my article writing for the Casper Journal newspaper, and, starting in July, my pet column ran EVERY WEEK in another newspaper (I’m used to writing one a month for two other publications). Plus, I gleaned two additional feature articles for Crossroads magazine, published by the Cheyenne (Wyoming) Chamber of Commerce (I wrote two articles for them in 2013). So, whereas I envisioned writing for children’s magazines, I received instead various other opportunities with an array of publications.


Now that 2015 has risen like a new day’s sun, I anticipate new opportunities and new pathways once again. I’m cutting back on submitting to the Casper Journal; WREN has assigned me only three articles for the entire year (though that may change); my weekly pet column is dormant for at least a few months while the newspaper undergoes layout and management changes; and I won’t know about Crossroads until mid-year. But, what I looked upon at first as negative I’ve now re-focused to the positive. I’ve been contacted and contracted by a state senator to write new releases and ghostwrite a few guest editorials for him. I’ve also been asked to contribute at least two stories on veterans for a special Wyoming Veteran’s project. So, not all my freelance opportunities have disappeared; new ones have emerged.

Baby New YearEven though there aren’t as many freelance gigs this new year as last, there is advantage to this more “quiet time”: ability to re-focus on my books as well as help my husband with some writing projects for his business. I now have five manuscripts in progress (including that pet rescue romance started a few months ago), and I am determined to finish them. Two manuscripts that I started more than three years ago simply need to be reviewed and edited as I completed the drafts in 2013 and just left them on the shelf because I wasn’t sure which publishing direction I wanted to go and 2014 became very busy. I am two-thirds of the way done with two others (both children’s books), and the pet romance is still in its infancy since I didn’t write as much during November’s NaNoWriMo as I had hoped. So, I have new writing goals for 2015, and I am excited to see where these stories, projects, and new pathways (including developing an emailed newsletter for my husband’s Alzheimer’s video business) take me.

How about you? What do you hope the new year has in store for you, personally and professionally? What are some of the goals and hopes you have for 2015 and into the future?


Happy New Year

Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion boos: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the August 2014 dog book The Dog Did What?. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, Creation Illustrated, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal, River Press, and Douglas Budget newspapers. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.


Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Walking_FrontCover_small   SageBigAdventureFront-small   SageLearnsShareFront-small

Happy New Year

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

Happy New Year!

I found myself writing 2015 on my checks a few days ago. Obviously, I am ready for this year to be over.

Whether you love to stay up until midnight to usher the new year in, or figure the best way to great the new year is well-rested, I hope your 2015 is filled with love, friendship and laughter.

For several years now the kids have vowed to stay up until midnight. In order to fill those long hours until the ball drops the kids have a “party” in their room. It includes snacks, beverages, movies and glow sticks.

They set up the laptop in my son’s room and everyone got cozy in their blankets and watched movie after movie. Every once and a while I would check in on them. That first year no one made it past 10p.

Last year our son dropped off at 9pm, but the girls were still up at 11p. I really didn’t want to deal with grouchy kids the next day so we watched the ball drop in Times Square (thank you time difference) and packed them off to bed.

I don’t think we are going to get away with watching the ball drop early this year. The girls seem determined to wait for midnight. I am sure they can’t wait send their friends Happy New Year texts at 12:01am.

decemberActually, that is a great way to greet the new year, filled with happy anticipation. I think that is exactly how I will greet the new year, even if I do it at 8pm, instead of 12am.

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2015 Writing Resolution Resource by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_12014 has been a year of ups and downs but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Still, there is much to be grateful for. My family and I are healthy, the house is almost back together and it’s better than before. My freelance writing career is going strong, despite a few bumps along the way. I have a book contract for the next two Cabel Evans mysteries. And I have great friends. There are the ones I see on a regular basis, others I haven’t seen in years but love keeping in touch with on Facebook, and ones I’ve “met” through this blog and other on-line activities. So, overall, 2014 was not a bad year.

As January 1st approaches, there is the excitement of the New Year along with the requisite resolutions. I have several NewYearperennial ones such as lose weight (have had some success this year) and keep the house clean (ha). As an author, I always have many writing goals. Last year’s got side tracked with the house disaster and kick-off of the freelance writing career but that’s the past. This year I have several goals including finishing my work in progress and finding a home for a short story I wrote.

Since many of you who read this blog are also authors, I thought I would share with you a tool that I have used with great success and which you might find useful in fulfilling your own writing goals in 2015. Jamie Raintree is an author whom I met on-line, I think through the Sisters in Crime mystery writers group. In addition to being a wonderful author of both books and blogs, Jamie has created an amazing spread sheet sinclogomediumredsystem to keep track of your goals and progress with your various writing projects.

Broken down by month, you can track your word count for up to eight projects. There are goals, graphs, progress reports, year-to-date totals, and more. You can learn more about her spread sheet and down load a copy to use at: http://jamieraintree.com/writing-progress-spreadsheet. You might also consider following her blog, which I enjoy.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and that each of you finds health and fulfillment in 2015.

You can learn more about me at:


ShadowlandsAHE New Cover8149g0+Rz-L._SL1500_

The Times They Are A’Changin’!

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis Post by Gayle M. Irwin

We’re six days into the New Year: 2014 already – WOW! Last year marked 15 years since I moved from Montana, leaving a landscape that truly doesn’t leave my heart and putting behind me the everyday grind of being a small town journalist – reporter, photographer, editor, copywriter, page and ad designer, as well as receptionist, bookkeeper and other things I’m sure I’ve forgotten (or want to!). For a brief time, I picked up the career again like highway litter cleaner, but I only had to serve in two of the aforementioned capacities. Still, it was a grind, especially when towing the police scanner around on my designated “work weekends.”

As “all around journalist” at the West Yellowstone News during the mid-1990s, I conducted ad and page layout the old fashioned way: Pagemaker software, yes, email no. The layout was done by hand and I drove the 16 to 20 rubber-cemented pages compacted in a box and sitting in backseat of my car for 250 miles one way so those pages could be printed on newsprint. What a difference less than two decades make – so many other incredible changes such as email means no driving half-days and no enormous graphics paper or stinky rubber cement! Although those days of being up 36+ hours and driving two-lane roads, even in winter, are behind me, I am sure the experiences helped polish me, shape me, for the journey I’m on today.

My husband and I bought a Kindle Fire for Christmas – we also have an older Kindle I purchased used from a friend a few years ago. Such an amazing invention! And all the others: Ebooks, Smartphones, laptops, tablets, Facebook, Twitter – not even in a writer’s vernacular 15 years ago!

woman readingPublishing, too, has changed. I recently watched a newscast about a couple on the verge of foreclosure who began writing and publishing ebooks — they even made bestsellers lists… and they are self-published! Gives me hope (of course I don’t write steamy romance — but maybe I should!). Self-publishing, both print and ebook format, opens the floodgates wide for book publishing opportunities, and blogs, websites, online magazines and ezines significantly increase ways for writers to make a living. Freelance work may still be competitive, especially for printed magazines, brochures, and newsletters, but if that’s what a writer wants to do, that’s the direction s/he should pursue – and that’s just the pathway I plan to travel in addition to creating more Kindle books and trying more online writing ventures.

During the Christmas holiday, I explored children’s magazine options, and in the coming weeks I plan to query and/or submit to a few. I’ve also registered on a few websites for freelancers, including Elance and Flexjobs. The competition looks tough, but if one doesn’t try, the projects certainly won’t happen. Writer’s Market Guide still has its place on my bookshelf and I’ll be exploring the 2014 edition this month, but the Internet is now also a major pathway for writers to explore for work, both as a freelancer and as a book author. I am excited for what 2014 may bring – I only hope I don’t wrap myself up like a pretzel along the way!

What are the dreams, hopes, and goals you have for this New Year with regard to your writing career? The times they are a’changin’, but in many ways writing-wise, for the better!

As this New Year sprouts before us, may our writing endeavors bloom with luster!


Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, to articles in Creation Illustrated and Our Town Casper magazine, and in the Casper Journal and River Press newspapers. Her future plans include creating newsletter and brochure content for businesses and writing more magazine articles. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small        Walking_FrontCover_small        Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final


Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

One of the first years that the kids were conscious of what New Year’s Eve, they wanted to celebrate, so we had a little party–very early about 7 o’clock. Even though it was not even close to midnight the dictators….err I mean kids insisted that make a toast and make also announce our New Year’s resolutions. NYC

I, knowing that kids have loooong memories when it suits them, chose to do a fun “resolution”. I can’t remember exactly what I said but it was something like “hug everyone more”. We went around the family, my oldest daughter vowed to be nicer to her little brother and my husband said he would like to exercise more.

It didn’t take all of five minutes on New Year’s Day for my daughter to “accidentally” hit her little brother. The resolution police, in this case, my other daughter, couldn’t wait to tease her sister about breaking her resolution (one that we all knew was unattainable). For the next six months anytime I chastened my oldest daughter for something she did to her brother, my other daughter would smugly mutter something about resolutions.

And, my poor husband, you can guess where this is going, exercised not one iota more in the New Year. In fact, due to work constraints I think he exercised less….which the kids delighted in pointing out to him. 

I don’t think my husband will ever announce any intention to do anything again, at least not when the kids are listening.

Did you make a resolution this year?

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