HTRYN now open for enrolment

Holly Lisle’s flagship course, “How To Revise Your Novel” (HTRYN) is open for enrolment for the next 2 days only (until 15 Dec. at midnight). She only opens it once a year, so if you have a finished draft and a niggling feeling that it’s not ready to see the light of day yet, this is the course that will change your publishing journey forever! This course is a must-have toolkit for self-publishers, and authors of any type of commercial fiction.

If that’s you, go check it out now.

If you’re not sure yet, you can take her free mini revision workshop, which will give you a pretty good idea of her style and if it works for you. The link is at the bottom of this page here.

Legal disclaimer: I have personally done Holly Lisle’s courses, which was the best thing I could have done for my writing. That’s why I am an affiliate, because I believe in her stuff. If you click any links in this post, I’ll receive a commission if you end up buying something. And it won’t cost you a cent.

Linnae Speel Scrapbook Page Header

[Scrapbook page] Digital layout of my 2-year-old daughter at play

Scrapbook pages of my little girl playingIt’s been a while since I’ve scrapped because I simply don’t have time. My little boy is already 7 months old, and that just spurred me on to start documenting our life the way I intended to two years ago before my first one was born, so I began to gather photos (not an easy task between two phones, an SLR, and two point-and-shoot cameras). I fully intended to make a Project Life® layout, but when I saw all the beautiful photos of Linnae playing, it quickly turned into a “Linnae at play” double-page spread🙂 .

SB Linnae Speel (page1 web)I guess I channelled my inner Cathy again, because this is typically her style for digital layouts, with the wide margins, sharp corners, and unapologetically symmetrical design. She prefers a more monochromatic approach, infused with lots of puns, white space, and #hashtags, while I opted to keep the photos in their fully coloured glory, and used words in a purely functional fashion. But even though the pages are quite busy, the wide margins and symmetry help to keep the layout balanced. And I wanted that happy, almost ecstatic look—it suits my daughter’s personality to a T.

SB Linnae Speel (page2 web)Because there were so many photos to choose from, I decided to rather use all the spaces for photos and skip any elaborate journalling and pocket page-type “filler cards”. Instead I created a post on my personal blog that goes into detail about every one of the photos, hence the QR code. Gotta love the digital age!😀 For that reason I’m not going to go into any personal detail here, so if you’re curious go read it over there. (It’s in Afrikaans; if anyone who does not understand it asks, I’d consider doing a translation here).

I used a beautiful kit from Mommyish called “Daily” because it has nice PL elements—which I didn’t even use, go figure. I intend to print this in a 12 x 12″ photo book¹ once I have enough pages, as part of my Projek Leef memory keeping (my own Afrikaans version of Project Life®).

Project Details:

Digital elements: “Daily” kit by MommyishTemplate: Elmi (that’s me!) • Fonts: Bebas Neue (title), jr!hand (labels/journalling) • Software: Photoshop


¹ photo book: Q-photo is running a 50% off sale on all photo books until the end of October. If I can do 18 more layouts (just 9 double pages *cough cough*), I will have a beautiful, full colour memory book for roughly R350 (incl. delivery). That’s a bargain!


Day 30 – All’s Well That Ends Well #CampNaNoWriMo

This post is a bit belated, but I’m happy to announce that I’ve managed to reach my modest goal of 15,000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo . The not-so-good news is that, because of life and similarly terminal conditions, I never managed to log into the NaNo website to update my word count after the first 2 weeks, so my progress is not “official”. But…


Despite time constraints, and changing a hundred (or maybe a thousand?) dirty diapers, I wrote. That is more important—the most important—thing, and the point of NaNoWriMo. I have not had any time to edit anything yet, and since life is still happening I won’t be posting any of these stories in the immediate future, but I will.

Image source:

Day 7 of Camp NaNoWriMo

Day 7 – Quick cover reveal #CampNaNoWriMo


I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend! Around here we had an unexpected bout of sunshine after perpetual cold and rainy weather, which meant family outings and very little writing time🙂

Since I can’t brag about my monumental word count, I thought I’d share the cover I made for my WIP. Being a graphic designer and a visual person, I simply cannot help myself when I see the empty field with that little taunting button “Click to upload your cover”. That’s when I make covers like this:

Book cover for Lusty Tales of Love short story collection by CornflowerBlues

It is most certainly not a work of art, and definitely looks nothing like a professionally designed cover (I only allowed myself a total of 20 minutes to make it, and it shows). But I had fun none the less, and I consider myself lucky to have the knowledge to make graphics quickly, which is a rare and precious skill for an author. But, if this story collection ever becomes a real book, I’ll be all over this cover like white on rice, LOL

So, here’s the million dollar, purely hypothetical question: If you saw this exact cover in a line-up of other covers in your favourite online book store (think Amazon and co), would you click on it? More importantly, would you BUY it? Or would its glaring inadequacies put you off?

Day 3 of Camp NaNoWriMo

Day 3 – Finding the story #CampNaNoWriMo


We’re already on day 3 of Camp NaNoWriMo and yet I’ve only managed to put down a significant number of words for the first time today. Over 1,500 words to be precise, and I’m rather proud of them because it took a lot of finagling to get them out.

But let me back up a moment and explain how my brain works when it comes to stories, because I’m certain that everyone is simply dying to know that about me*.

First order of business is to come up with an idea. This idea must have the following two things before I’ll even consider it :

  1. It must have all the elements of a successful story at first glance (interesting plot, complex characters I’m curious about, conflict, potential for a twist);
  2. It must excite me so much I can’t not write it.

When the idea comes, it’s usually in the form of a vivid scene revolving around the main character (or in this case a man and woman since I’m writing romance), and 99% of the time it’s the meet-cute. Along with this scene I would also have a good enough idea of many of the other important story elements. If I don’t, I either work on it until I do, or I brainstorm another idea.

In this case I spent most of yesterday brainstorming different ideas and scenarios, but nothing gelled. Nothing. Then it finally happened today, that light bulb moment. I saw a 40+ year old woman sitting at a booth in an all-night diner at 3 o’clock in the morning, wearing a bright red sequined dress and 6 inch heels. I knew she usually never dress like that. I knew she just came from a party but fled when she realized she was there for all the wrong reasons. I also knew she was feeling out of place and wondered if this was what a mid-life crisis looked like.

I also saw the guy. A quirky, young artist who worked the graveyard shift at the diner to pay his rent. I knew he was her opposite in every way and at least 15 years younger. I knew without a doubt that he thought she looked mighty sexy in those heels, especially since she looked so uncomfortable in them. I knew that he poured her a cup of coffee because she clearly needed it, and then made her food so he could strike up a conversation. Then… well, I already have the twist, the first conflict point and the romantic parts worked out in my head, and that’s enough for me to pants** the rest of the detail as I go.

Those candy bar scenes usually give me enough inspiration to crank out a lot of words in a short time, which is how I managed to write so much today***. Unfortunately a book isn’t just a bunch of delicious feel-good scenes, and it’s those “other” parts that tend to trip me up when writing.

Not to worry though, it’s still early days. There’s enough time to still get stuck and complain about it to my heart’s content.


* That was heavy sarcasm, in case you missed it.

** From the saying, “to write by the seat of your pants” which means to write as your whims lead you without any prior planning or plotting.

*** I also wrote this epic blog post, which added over 700 words to my total word count. Since it’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m allowed to count it too😛

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant 2015 web banner

I commit to finish a book this month #CampNaNoWriMo

Oh my, I’ve done it again. It was impulsive, the decision made in a moment of weakness, but it’s done and now I’m just going to have to make lemonade from lemons this month. I’m talking about my decision to join Camp NaNoWriMo this April. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant 2015 badgeI’ve been working on some stories the past month, trying to finish a book so I can publish it to Kindle. The thing is, between the new baby and being sick the past week, and my little drama queen toddler demanding attention all the time, I’ve had absolutely no spare time. Then I listened to Holly Lisle recount how she had to finish a novel while she also had a baby and a tight deadline, and she did it by writing 10 minutes at a time.

That’s when I realized I’ve only been trying. Trying is not good enough. If I really, truly, honestly wanted to find time, I’d find it. Isn’t it true for anything in life? Someone I admire used to say,

“If you want to know what’s important to people, watch how they spend their time.”

I’ve spent my limited free time being busy but not productive, and I had a moment of clarity: unless something changes, nothing is going to change.

I also realized that if I was disciplined enough to do it solo, I wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place, so clearly I need an accountability system.

An accountability system needs 2 things to work. The first part is simply this: your intentions need to be known. Just telling someone can sometimes be enough to help you honour your goals. But the real power lies in the motivation and support that person provides. I’ve always loved NaNoWriMo’s sense of community and the energy it generates. The last time I participated (back in 2010) it went a long way to help me reach my 50,000+ word count goal.

The other part is clarity and direction. NaNoWriMo gives you a deadline and a goal broken down into measurable milestones. The nice thing about Camp NaNoWriMo is that you don’t have to write 50,000 words, you can set your own word goal. You’re also not limited to writing novels, you can write anything you want (blog posts, non-fiction, emails…) and even work on numerous projects throughout the month.

My word count goal for the next 30 days is 500 words a day, which adds up to 15,000 words—a sizeable novella. It’s important that you know that; you are my accountability partner after all.

Please check up on me whenever you want.

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Are you living your calling?

Most people are frustrated with where they’re at in their lives, but very few ever know what to do about it. Personally I find it difficult to balance a “normal” life with all the things I want to do but feel too guilty/scared/inadequate to pursue; so I keep them separate, tucking the big, scary, “selfish” dreams away while the safe, mundane, everyday eats away at my soul. And I can’t shake this nagging feeling that I am missing something big, that I’m meant for bigger things.

The Art of Work by Jeff GoinsJeff Goins has managed to break away from the shackling mindset that prevents people from living their best life to the fullest. He has discovered how to live his calling, and has spent a year researching, interviewing, and gathering his own life experience into an inspiring, actionable book, The Art of Work, that has garnered the praise of industry giants such as Seth Godin, Michael Hyatt, and Steven Pressfield.

I’ve been a fan of Jeff for a while now—I follow his blog, listen to his podcast, and have read most of his books—because what he has to say is simple yet profound and I always take something away from it. The Art of Work, due to be released in March, promises to be as good (if not better) as his current groundbreaking body of work.

Right now he is on a mission to get his book into the hands of as many people for as little as possible, so he is giving it away for free if you pay shipping and handling. That means you pay $6,99 (roughly R85) for an awesome, life-changing book that will be delivered straight to your door in March! Once it gets released, it will retail at $16,99—and since we in sunny South Africa will most probably not get it at our local Exclusive Books, we have to add shipping as well. And then you won’t even get the bonuses*.

Once it gets released on March 24th, this amazing price goes away forever.

I strongly urge you to go check out his website to see what it’s about. If you have to, watch the video, read the amazing reviews by people who matter, and read the blurb, but make sure you buy the book before you close the tab.

* If you’re still not sure, let me tell you about the very enticing bonuses you’ll get with his pre-release offer that makes this deal a no-brainer:

  • A PDF version of the book that you can download right now (yay!)
  • A downloadable workbook with practical action-steps to take
  • A mini-video course to help you find your calling
  • An exclusive community of people pursuing their life’s purpose, as well as access to the author for community Q&A

Are you still here? You should be on Jeff’s website, buying The Art of Work!

Very important disclaimer: I am NOT an affiliate of Jeff Goins, I am NOT getting any compensation for this post, and I will NOT make any money if you do decide to buy his book. Why did I write this glowing endorsement then? Because I honestly believe his book has an important message that can change your life for the better. I have already ordered my copy, and am off to read the PDF the moment I’ve published this post off to bed. I’ll read it tomorrow.

Beautiful life banner

It’s time for a change around these parts

I work with WordPress themes all the time, and the themes and designs available these days are just mind-blowingly beautiful and modern. When I looked at my website this week (like, really looked at it) I thought, “This is so 2011! What’s up with that?” So, here’s a heads-up that things are going to change around here, because this place is long overdue for a redesign and upgrade

PS: I’m also having a baby next week (!!!), so this process may or may not be due to the strange and uncontrollable phenomenon called “Nesting Syndrome“, and may or may not take several weeks to complete thanks to the new bundle of joy/spit/poo that’s coming my way with the certainty of a freight train.

UPDATE 19 FEB: I did it! I updated the look & feel and started updating older posts with large header images to suite the theme, but I’ll probably only go back ±15 posts okay? Okay.

Welcome to my “new” home😉