Monthly Archives: March 2013

The 2 Week Spring-Cleaning Challenge: 1 a Day


ImageConfession: I didn’t spring-clean last year. (Gasp!) I know. I did the year before, but only because we were selling our house at the time. Don’t judge. When spring arrives, the last thing I want to do is scrub the house. Come on, you know you feel the same way.

But this is the year. We spent the entire winter painting and remodeling, so the house could use a little freshening up. (The photo is my cute hubby painting the family room. Now THAT was a project!) Now that the sun has (finally) decided to make an appearance and the bulbs are peeking out of the dirt, I’m gonna spring clean. Seriously.

I’ve done a little research and found a decently good spring-cleaning checklist on a blog (, but it had left out some things and listed some irrelevant tasks. So I chopped it up a little, creating my own two week version. The idea is to go down the list in order, and do one thing each day. By the end of two weeks, you’ll have a fresh and clean house! Anyone want to do it with me?

Sweet! Here we go.

Day 1: Dust light fixtures and ceiling fans (yep, even those giant bulb lights in the bathroom).

Day 2: Sweep cobwebs in corners and along ceiling (at least, where you can reach).

Day 3: Dust all horizontal surfaces (tops of door frames, picture frames, shelves, etc.). I like to use furniture polish on the wood surfaces. I love when they gleam.

Day 4: Spot-clean walls, doors, and baseboards. (Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser is great for this, but be careful on painted walls).

Day 5: Wash/sanitize doorknobs and light switches. (Sanitizing wipes are helpful here, but make sure you don’t get liquid into the electrical behind the switch!)

Day 6: Remove the comforters from all the beds and wash them.( While you’re at it, maybe just wash all the sheets, so you can do the next step easily.) While the blankets are in the wash, sprinkle baking soda onto the mattress. Leave one hour, then vacuum it up. Rotate mattresses before you put the blankets back on.

Day 7: Vacuum couches and other upholstered furniture with an attachment. If desired, you can also vacuum curtains (although I’ll probably wash mine). 

Day 8: Move rugs outside and beat them, then vacuum them thoroughly. Be sure to clean the floor really well before you put them back.

Day 9: Spot-clean carpet and hard floor surfaces. (In terms of products, I’m open to suggestions–especially for hardwood floors!)

Day 10: Deep clean kitchen. (I’m talking, deep–clean the microwave, oven, sink, stove, pantry shelves, etc. I like to blast fun music when I do crappy cleaning jobs like this.)

Day 11: Check expiration dates in the fridge, pantry, medicine cabinet, etc. Throw away all the old stuff and make room for the new.

Day 12: Deep clean bathrooms. Enough said.

Day 13: Wash windows inside and out. (Some people swear by a mix of water and vinegar and a microfiber cloth. I just use Windex and paper towels.) Then clean out window tracks with soapy water and an old toothbrush. If you’re feeling especially gutsy, clean the blinds as you go.

Day 14: Clean any standing or door mirrors in the house. If you missed anything, do it on this day.

Voila! You’re done. Piece of cake, right? No? Oh. Well, then maybe you deserve a piece of cake about now. 🙂

Have recommendations for cleaning products or additional cleaning projects? Having trouble keeping to the schedule? Or just want to comment and lament with all of us? Feel free to comment and subscribe. Happy cleaning, everyone!






4 Tips for the Perspiring–I mean, Aspiring–Author



My book was officially released today, so I’m feeling a little nostalgic.(Excuse that horrible picture, please.) I can’t help but think back to that day a year ago when I got the long-awaited email from Jennifer, the acquisitions editor at Cedar Fort, saying that my writing was “engaging and entertaining” and that they were “pleased to offer me a contract” for my book, HOW TO HAVE PEACE WHEN YOU’RE FALLING TO PIECES.

I had NO idea what I was getting into.

It’s been a crazy, heart-wrenching and elating roller coaster during the last year. When people ask me if I’d do it again, I tell them my second book is nearly done–so yes, I hope to do it again, but I’m changing a few things this time around. Experience is a painful teacher, especially in the publishing business! Here are five tips for perspiring–ahem, I mean, aspiring–authors:

1) Schedule a writing time and place–and stick to it.

With three kids underfoot, writing anything was hard for me. It took awhile to realize that I just couldn’t do it when the kids were awake. So I started getting up at 5am and writing until 7am, and then writing when my toddler was taking a nap in the afternoon. That meant my four year-old got a precious hour or so to play video games, during which time he was banished (happily) downstairs, and I got some precious writing time in. My housecleaning slipped a little, and I had to learn to let a few things slide. But if you wait until the house is quiet, with scented candles and a bubble bath is drawn, it just won’t happen.

2) Make it absolutely perfect, whole, and complete before you send in that manuscript.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often this rule is broken. In my case, I actually only wrote a chapter before pitching the idea to Jennifer. I found out about a publishing fair at the local university two nights before the event and decided, why not? So I wrote the chapter really quick and pitched the idea to her at the fair (not even knowing what a pitch really is). I didn’t even look up the submission guidelines first. I know, it was a bit foolish and naive, and I still can’t believe I did that.

But miraculously, she loved the idea and wrote back within a couple weeks asking for more. I spent two weeks on four more chapters, got feedback from a few friends, tweaked them a little, and then emailed them to her. At this point I still didn’t take it seriously, so I didn’t write anything else. I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

Imagine my surprise when a couple months later, that email arrived. I pumped my fists in the air like I’d just scored a touchdown and called my husband at work. He was elated, of course, until I read him the contract. Then my jaw dropped.

They wanted the entire manuscript in 30 days.

Oh boy. Hmm. That was a problem. I was going on a two-week vacation in the middle of those four weeks, and even then–how do you write practically an entire book in thirty days? But with the help of my dear husband and my critique group, I got down to business and got ‘er done. It was a stressful, sleepless, panic-filled month.

Please, don’t do this to yourself. Obviously fiction is different–editors require the entire manuscript to be finished before they’ll even look at it. But whether it’s nonfiction or fiction, have enough faith in yourself to get it perfect (and DONE) first. Then take a break and go back through it later with a fresh perspective.

You’ve worked too hard to sell yourself short by turning in a less-than-perfect manuscript. Many editors complain that authors have great ideas and that their writing style is wonderful, but that they didn’t spend enough time editing their work. It’s worth the extra few months to make sure it gets considered seriously.

3) Start building your platform as early as you can.

In the old days, authors would turn in their books and then sit back and watch the publisher do the rest. But the market has changed dramatically. Even the big boys in New York City require a lot of marketing from their authors, and the smaller the publisher, the more promoting you’ll have to do. (If you self-publish, you’ll have to do it all by yourself.)

It takes time to build a reputation. If you wait until your book is released, or even until your book is accepted, it may be too late. Publishers look for two things: great writing and a solid platform. Even if your book is fantastic, many publishers may not take a chance on you if you aren’t trying to get your name out there. No matter how wonderful the book, if people don’t know about it, they won’t buy it.

As soon as you can, start a Facebook account under your pen name. Start using Twitter, and build up a reading list on Goodreads. Get writing quotes and interesting photos up on Pinterest. Start a blog. Enter writing contests and submit articles to magazines. Get your name out there, anywhere you can.

While you’re at it, attend writer’s conferences and meet editors and agents. Learn your craft and do your research. It will pay off a hundred times over when your editor reads your manuscript, likes it, and goes online to find out more about you. And believe me, they will. It’s a big risk for a publisher, so your job is to make that decision easier by having a platform already in place.

I was lucky, because I’d been writing for and a newspaper called the Deseret News for a couple years. So my name was already out there, and Jennifer was able to read some of my work and decided that my writing wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t until six months before my book came out that I started a Twitter account. But now that release day is here, I’m wishing I’d begun promoting a lot sooner.

4) Keep writing, no matter what.

Writing should be fun. There will be deadlines, of course, and there will be tough days when the last thing you want to do is plop yourself in front of the computer and force your brain to work. Take a break and refresh yourself, but come right back. Even if your work is rejected, start on something else while you continue to submit it. Write different types of things to keep your mind fresh.

Writing takes practice just like playing an instrument or learning a sport. Even if your first or second (or tenth) books aren’t accepted for publication, it doesn’t mean you can’t write. Don’t give up. Being published doesn’t necessarily mean an author writes better than others, but they had the right idea at the right time and submitted it to the right publisher. Book publishing is fickle and extremely competitive. Take a break, but don’t stop writing.

You can get published. It happens every day to lucky authors across the world, so why not you? Best of luck.

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