On the Prowl for the Perfect Planner

Are you drowning under your to-do list? Does the idea of setting long-range goals or a year-long business plan give you hives?

I’m currently going through a process I end up doing every single year–searching for the perfect planner that will inspire me to not only record my goals for the day/week/month/project, but actually stick with it more than a week before I realize it’s not meeting some need.

So, it’s January 23 as you’re reading this, and I’m already on my fifth–count them…FIFTH…planner for the year.

First, last summer,I bought an 18-month Happy Planner that looks something like this, and it’s the planner I used last year:

It’s really bright and cool and, well, happy, and has lots of inserts that easily slip in and out of the pocketed pages and the circle-binder. But unless I create extra to-do inserts, the size of its daily spaces isn’t enough to contain my schedule where I keep both personal and business goals, from plotting a novel to doing laundry.

Next, I tried The Mastery Journal because I need to master my schedule, right? It’s hardcover and important-looking:

But I quickly abandoned it because it was hard to make it fit my schedule. I like the idea of it–choosing four special tasks that you want to accomplish the next day. But as a caregiver, I have very little control over my time. And I wasn’t patient enough to figure out how to make it work for me. Plus, it’s big on long-term goals and plans, and when ones is caregiver for a disabled and housebound Senior Adult, long-term goals and plans are exercises in futility.

Next, because I knew I could have multiple, possibly overlapping, writing and editing jobs this year now that I’m self-employed, I picked up the Plot Your Work journal by some writing friends of mine, and it’s pretty awesome….but I’m not quite that organized yet since I still have one foot in traditional publishing. So I don’t always set my own deadlines and, for most books, I can’t plan special sales or promotions. This is an great, undated resource, though, so I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting it for writing purposes during the year.

NEXT, I just had to try out the new journal/planner by one of my favorite mixed-media artists, Jane Davenport. Unfortunately, despite the fun graphics and all the cool pouches and sticky notes and bookmarks (see the package from Michael’s, above), it ultimately had the same limitations as my Happy Planner…plus I was stressed out feeling the need to be CREATIVE in it. Because I love the look of it so much, I might end up gessoing over the pages and using it as an art journal one of these days.

Which brings me, finally, to the one I think is going to work. It’s plug-ugly, with a plain plastic cover (unless you want to spend $80 on a leather cover…um…no), but uber-functional. There’s no stress to be creative unless I just want to. It’s a glorified to-do space, with some annotated sections to put in stickies and appointments and, on back, lined space for notes. Oh, it’s the Circa planner system by Levenger. Its only downside so far is that it will hold only 120 of the sheets (which can be moved in and out of the binder), so I can’t keep a year’s worth of daily planning pages in it at once. But I think I can make it work.

Then again, I’m only on day two….

So, how about you? I know planners are A Thing these days and some people do really fun, creative planners. What do you use? C’mon. Feed my addictioin.

And our song for the day is, of course….


January 22-28 New Releases #Win a New #Paranormal, #UF or #Fantasy

It’s Monday, so it must be time for the Reader’s Choice Giveaway day! Here’s how Reader’s Choice works. Each week, let me know in the comments which of these sounds most promising to you, and you could win it—or any other book of your choice up to US$15 when I announce new winners on Monday! As is almost always true of my giveaways, this is open to international entries.

The winner of last week’s Reader’s Choice giveaway is IRENE JACKSON. Irene, please email me and let me know what book you’d like (up to $15US) and preferred format. I’m at suzannej3523 at gmail, or via the contact tab on this page.

And now for the new releases this week… See what you think of these and let me know which one most floats your boat! The usual disclaimer: These are not ALL the new releases, just the ones I thought might most interest readers of this blog. Nor is it an endorsement of any listed book since I haven’t yet read them. Although a series called Witches of New Orleans has my attention!

The King of Bones and Ashes (Witches of New Orleans #1) by J.D. Horn

From the bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series comes the first book in a fascinating trilogy following the quest of a young witch to uncover her family’s terrifying secret history…Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine. Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.

Celestial Ashes (Celestial Marked #3) by Emma L. Adams

The netherworld is far from done with Devi Lawson… Now the celestials are set on eradicating anyone who carries the demonic virus, Devi finds herself a fugitive. Joining with the demons is the easy way out, but that would mean giving up her home to the denizens of the infernal realms. With everyone in the nether realms lining up to stake a claim on her, she’s not all that keen on handing earth over to them, too. …But now her demon mark is taking on a life of its own, she might not have a choice in the matter. The shadow of war descends, and Devi must find a way to protect the people she loves, without losing her humanity in the process…

Starlings by Jo Walton

An intimate first flight of short fiction from award-winning novelist Jo Walton (Among Others, The King’s Peace)….A strange Eritrean coin travels from lovers to thieves, gathering stories before meeting its match. Google becomes sentient and proceeds toward an existential crisis. An idealistic dancer on a generation ship makes an impassioned plea for creativity and survival. Three Irish siblings embark on an unlikely quest, stealing enchanted items via bad poetry, trickery, and an assist from the Queen of Cats. …With these captivating initial glimpses into her storytelling psyche, Jo Walton shines through subtle myths and wholly reinvented realities. Through eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more, Walton soars with humans, machines, and magic—rising from the everyday into the universe itself.

Markswoman (Asiana #1) by Rati Mehrotra

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, one of a handful of sisterhoods of highly trained elite warriors. Armed with blades whose metal is imbued with magic and guided by a strict code of conduct, the Orders are sworn to keep the peace and protect the people of Asiana. Kyra has pledged to do so—yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her murdered family….When Tamsyn, the powerful and dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. She is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof….Kyra escapes through one of the strange Transport Hubs that are the remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past and finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of a desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a disillusioned Marksman whose skill with a blade is unmatched. He understands the desperation of Kyra’s quest to prove Tamsyn’s guilt, and as the two grow closer, training daily on the windswept dunes of Khur, both begin to question their commitment to their Orders. But what they don’t yet realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is thin . . . as thin as the blade of a knife.

The Raptor and the Wren (Miriam Black #5) by Chuck Wendig

In the fifth book of the “wildly entertaining” (Kirkus Reviews) Miriam Black series, Miriam continues her journey to find answers on how to change her fate and begin to make right some of what she’s done wrong….Armed with new knowledge that suggests a great sacrifice must be made to change her fate, Miriam continues her quest and learns that she must undo the tragedies of her past to move forward….One such tragedy is Wren, who is now a teen caught up in a bad relationship with the forces that haunt Miriam and has become a killer, just like Miriam. Black must try to save the girl, but what’s ahead is something she thought impossible…

Knight Magic (Otherworld/Sisters of the Moon #19.5) by Yasmine Galenorn

Camille journeys to Otherworld on a quest to find the last member of the Keraastar Knights. There, she must face one of the ancient Fae Lords who stands between her and the key to fulfilling her destiny. And there, she also discovers that her past has come full circle to meet her future. …This novelette takes place between Moon Shimmers, book 19 of the Otherworld Series, and the upcoming Harvest Song, book 20.

Everlasting Circle (Everlast #4) by Juliana Haygert

Her fight against darkness will only delay death…With the last battle fast approaching, the time to gather allies for an army is running out. As are the number of days left in Nadine’s life….Despite Micah’s insistence that they find a way to stop Nadine’s impeding death, she chooses to focus all her attention on strategies to win the war instead. With a new hero, a new god, and new abilities, she starts to believe they might actually have a chance to lift the never-ending veil of darkness. Until a betrayal throws a wrench into their carefully made plans, setting them back to square one….Lost and angry, Nadine contemplates giving up, but her warrior spirit won’t allow her to admit defeat. Her time on this Earth might be ending, but she has too much to accomplish before she dies. Against all odds, Nadine will keep fighting to win the war… even if it takes until her very last breath….If you like Urban Fantasy Romance with Post-Apocalyptic elements, you’ll love the conclusion to this action-packed story about destiny, self-discovery, and love.

Iron Will (Shifting Tides #4) by James Maxwell

The epic conclusion to James Maxwell’s gripping fantasy series….The world is facing a war to end all wars, a confrontation that will destroy everything Dion and Chloe hold dear. With Palemon’s dragon army growing in number, time is running out…Dion is doing everything in his power to prepare his kingdom, but he knows it will not be enough. Although he needs Chloe’s help, recent tragedy makes him terrified for her safety. Magic is dangerous. Only Palemon is too arrogant to see it….As chaos engulfs the land and Palemon risks civilization itself, Dion and Chloe must unite people of all nations to have any chance of survival.

Wild Prince (Takhini Shifters #4) by Vivian Arend

Wolf shifter Cole Masterson has been waiting impatiently for his future to arrive. The prophecy declared at his birth seems like pure gibberish, but he’s still spent the past thirty-three years trying to prepare for whatever’s coming. When his mate finally arrives, her appearance—on a skidoo stolen from him, no less—triggers a cascade of events he’s not sure he’s ready for….Dani Neville thought the covert training offered by the leader of an ultra-secret shifter association was her only escape from being stuck forever on an isolated island with her bear-shifter clan. But when her first assignment goes awry, and she ends up being chased through the wilderness by the sexiest, growliest wolf she’s ever met, Dani begins to wonder if her goals were big enough….Suddenly Cole’s got to deal with the most delectable thief he’s ever had the misfortune to meet—a woman who’s also his fated mate, and years younger than him. Dani’s got to figure out if being a ninja wannabe is her true desire, or if the chance to stay with her growly wolf is worth fighting for. Meanwhile, a prophecy that’s been waiting for years steamrollers them toward their ultimate destiny….Not everything is as it appears…not even fated love.

What do you want to win this week? Leave a comment, and the winner will be announced next Monday—plus a new chance to win.

ON TODAY’S PLAYLIST, in honor of new books: