Use your hairdryer to “dust” lampshades and curtains.


Add hooks on the backs of closet and maybe even bedroom doors to hang up various items. For example, the one on the back of your bedroom door could hold your robe, either just overnight or all the time. You can hang scarves, handbags, and of course clothes, on the other hooks in closets. Or maybe an outfit you wear for certain occasions, such as gardening, cleaning house, or loungewear.


Use toothpaste to remove black scuffs.


Run used coffee grounds through the disposal to eliminate odors.


Use time while waiting for the water to boil or something to cook a while before it needs stirring or other attention, to clean up—load the dishwasher, wipe counters, empty the trash, scrub the sink, straighten out items in a drawer, etc.


Use a squeegee to wipe down the glass and tile after every use. Train the rest of the family to do the same. Only takes a minute. Get one you can hang with a short handle, and have a dedicated hook for it.


If you have a stainless-steel sink, rub your hands over it when finished chopping onions or garlic, or handling fish. If you do not have a stainless-steel sink, there are “stainless steel chef soaps.” To use, handle it just as you would a regular bar of soap to wash your hands. Available at Amazon, of course.






Starting right now, for every image you plan to keep, if it’s digital, name it with the date and the people and/or places in it and batch load them to DropBox, to another on-line back-up storage place, or to one of the sites listed below. If you have printed photos, put the names, place, and date on the back using a gel pen as soon as you have them in your hand. I can’t emphasize how important it is to put crucial information on each image or photo. I had to throw out some that dated back to the 1800s that my mother and aunt kept because I had no idea who the people were, so they were useless to me. The same will happen with digital ones if they are not correctly named.

Next, upload your photos to a place like:

  • FLICKR Easy sharing from almost any mobile device
  • PHOTOBUCKET Scrapbook builder. Add music and slide shows
  • SNAPFISH Encourages you to order prints and personalized gifts. Has private “group rooms” for family and friends to see your photos and leave comments
  • SHUTTERFLY You can upload photos and have them made into greeting cards or calendars. Sign up and get 50 4×6 free prints
  • SMUGMUG Yearly fee, seems reasonable for what they offer, which is a lot
  • GOOGLE PHOTOES Automatically finds and stores all the photos on your PC and Android devices

I’ve mentioned just a few of the highlights from each site. Frankly, it makes me want to upload my photos to several different sites in get all the unique features. Uploading to any of these sites can act as your backup for photos, which is another reason to use more than one site, in case one goes out of business or suddenly fails for some reason.

Figure out how you want to store printed images. Scrapbook or boxes? You might want to have a system of boxes to temporally store them until you put them in a scrapbook. The boxes can be labeled, for example by person, place, or date in order to easily place them in the book later. You may also wish to get all your print photos digitized. I’ve noticed that the prices for doing this have come down a lot lately.

Ideally, and if I had to do it all over again, I would keep a diary (so easy to do now digitally) and put the pictures on the diary pages every day. Later this could be made into a bound book you can give to people in the photos and keep for yourself.


In your notes file (I explain what I put in that file later), I recommend you immediately input these items for easy reference as soon as you can after release of your work (hint—copy this list directly into your notes file and fill in the needed info). (Another hint, put each item on a separate line so you can double or triple click to copy it when needed instead of using your mouse or touchpad to capture it):

First put in the final word count.


  • Price
  • ASIN: number
  • Date published
  • URL, regular and one shortened


  • Price
  • ISBN-13 number
  • ISBN-10 number
  • Date published
  • URL(s), regular and one shortened for each store


  • Price
  • ISBN-13 number
  • ISBN-10 number
  • Date published
  • URL(s), regular and one shortened for each store

Short Story

  • Name of the publication
  • Date published
  • URL, regular and one shortened
  • Amount earned

For All

  • Long description.
  • One paragraph description, no longer than 1,000 words.
  • Another 500-word description.
  • A short, snappy “elevator pitch” you can use for ads and brochures. Maybe make up more than one.

When all this is in one place and you ask for a review, do an ad, have a sale or anything that needs quick access to these items, you’ll always know where they are. You can easily copy and paste where needed.

After you do all this, be sure to update the information on your website about your new publication and announce it to all your social media.

I use a “notes” document for quick reference while writing each story or novel. It contains:

  • At the top, space to put in ideas I have as I go and places I want to make changes later.
  • For both short stories and novels, a character name chart with first and last names in different columns so I can sort by first letter to be sure I’m not using first letters too often, their descriptions, and other important info about them. I fill this chart in as I go.
  • A timeline chart for novels with: Chapter #, Day of week, Time of day, Location, and chapter Summery. I fill these columns in when I finish each chapter. This can also be used for longer short stories, especially if the timeline is important.
  • Maps and other visual aids.
  • Research (I don’t do a whole lot—if I did more, this would be in a separate file with document names for each category).

Doing all of this as you go will save you time in the long run. And the file will be all set up for you to add the details of the story’s publication.






By Susan Oleksiw

A fascinating read

First you have an amazingly described southern Indian setting,. Then you have fascinating characters from another culture, so well-drawn you feel they are real. And of course you have twisty plot to keep you turning those pages.

There’s the missing cousin. The servant who goes into trances. The money lender. And the demanding tour guide, among others. But best of all are the protagonist, Anita Ray, and her Auntie Meena.

This is the third novel I’ve read by Susan Olesksiw, and they have all been excellent. Highly recommended.


The OODA Loop is a “decision cycle” for observing, orienting, deciding, and acting, especially good in a potentially dangerous situation. It was developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd.

I learned about this because a neighbor described an encounter in a parking lot with someone who wanted to scam her into having him “fix” her tire. When she realized there wasn’t a think wrong with her tire, she brushed him off and went on her way. Then on the NextDoor forum for our neighborhood, she tried to describe the man and his vehicle. She had really not paid much attention to how he or his car looked, so couldn’t give much information. Someone else pointed out that she should Google “OODA Loop” and learn the process.

Knowing that I’m not very good at observing things either, I decided to look it up. I know I would have had the same problem with description as the other woman did.

And a big bonus for me is that it shows how my main character in a story can overcome the villain in a way I think the reader will buy into.

Not only did this seem like a good idea when not particularly threatened, especially if you’re a writer, it was an even better one when I looked further into it for when we are threatened. My search’s first page never mentioned women at all—just men, for example in combat and business (is there a difference?). And I thought women should be using it, too, for their own safety.

There is, of course, much more to it than simply telling yourself to observe, orient, decide and act.

You are getting a bead on your opponent’s intensions while masking your own intentions, which should be unpredictable.

The steps:

  • Observe—get information to determine what is really going and what you can do about it
  • Orient—how is the other person acting and reacting? (Okay, it took me a while to figure this part out, but I finally got it. The word “orient” didn’t quite do it for me.)
  • Decide–decide what to do about it
  • Act—unpredictably and faster than the “opponent” is best

Keep in mind that if you get out of a bad situation, you will probably want to tell other people about it, including sometimes, authorities who can arrest the other person. So when observing, take in as many details as you can, using all your senses—sight, sound, smell, and taste or feeling (hope it doesn’t come to those last two!).

If you’re a writer, having your characters perform these steps can be helpful. You can just use them to show the character acting, or you can have the character actually thinking (not naming the steps, of course) in this particular manner. Remember the opponent will also be going through a similar process, but not being aware of these steps could be a disadvantage.

Change the situation faster than the opponent can comprehend. Create confusion, uncertainty, chaos and panic so the opponent will over- or under-react.

Don’t you love finding something unexpected you can use to perhaps write better? I hope this helps us all.