Planner Tips: Using My MAMBI Happy Planner

Today marks the first entry in my new “Tools and Tips” series! Being an avid planner for the past 17 years, I figured my first set of planner tips should revolve around my (mis)adventures with my new MAMBI Happy Planner and how I use it to keep me on track and accountable to my 2016 author and personal goals.

I’ve been using the Passion Planner the last 2 years for personal and professional organization, but as a creative being, I found myself wanting something more to keep me engaged in my writing and personal goals. Luckily, several of my author peeps are avid planner horders and I came across the Happy Planner.  This planner provides a weekly layout I really, really like and lots of space to note tasks, events, and random bits of creativity. 🙂

Being the anal, perfectionist that I am, it was overwhelming to tackle a new planner. What if I mess it up, or use it wrong, or…. See, this is how my crazy mind works. 🙂  So I hit the internet to see how others were using their planners.  Since the primary focus of this planner is to track my personal and author roles, the videos I found didn’t exactly cover all the angles I needed. So I brainstormed a list of possible uses for my Happy Planner and I will implement and tweak these until I come up on the best use and practices that work for me.

MAMBI Happy Planner planner tips
MAMBI Planner

And without further ado, here is my very first week spread!

Since this is was for the very first week of 2016 and I was fresh off of a one week, intensive goal planning spree, I felt a little bit of the dark side of the Force would be needed to hit the ground running and incorporate several new routines into my life. (gym, gah!) This is my planner after a little bit of decoration and my initial notes for the week.  I need plenty of white space to avoid visual clutter and for flexibility to add items as my week progresses, so I won’t decorate as much as some others do.

For now, I use the left hand side to note the major tasks I need to complete for the week.  In order to keep me focused on my overall mission, these items are all attached to a specific role (more on those later) I want to focus on in 2016.  Since there is only so much I can plan for an entire week when I sit down on Sundays, I’ve learned to be flexible when it comes to actually accomplishing my set tasks. Seeing all I need do that week listed on left works for now.  As I traverse the week, I pencil them in as I see fit.

I’m currently using the daily columns to track my meal plans, appointments, key reminders, and my writing tasks.  I’m still on the fence as to how to best use the 3 boxes per day, so for now the top box is for important reminders, appointments, and that day’s breakfast smoothie.  (I may move to a Big 3 focus for this box in the future.)  The middle box is being used to note my writing and author related tasks.  I use the last box for my household, mom, and “me” roles, such as dinner plans, family activity reminders, etc.  The 3 red star stickers are both visual interests and denote my gym days this week.

As of right now, I have no idea how to best use the weekend boxes since I tend to go “off grid” on Saturdays and Sundays.  And since I do love motivational quotes, I like to randomly pepper in a few each week to provide a bit of uplift.

MAMBI Happy Planner Tips

Here’s an updated shot of my planner a little later in the week.  Each morning I take a glance at it and determine all I need to do and what activities I want to do that day.  Knowing me and my propensity to take on too much, I try to limit the top box to the 3 major items I need to keep in mind for the day.  I also think I need to limit the number of tasks in the middle box, but for now it helps to see them even if I don’t manage to accomplish them all that day.  It’s simple enough to move them to another day later in the week (as you can see by my many arrows-lol)

So, here are this week’s big wins:

  • Using the left hand side first to list out the week’s most important tasks
  • Using the top box for my main priorities for the day
  • Easy to look at–not going overboard on colors and decor

Here are the areas I plan to tweak:

  • Better use of the middle box
  • Neater penmanship (it’s a struggle)
  • Brainstorming more ways to bring in additional role functions weekly

So this ends my week one recap on the Happy Planner weekly layout.  I’ve made a few adjustments in my weekly spread which, I’ll share next next week before I dive into my monthly planning tips.  In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at this week’s planner theme before I started writing in it. You just gotta love those cute elephants! 😉

MAMBI Happy Planner tips


Permission to Write the Crap/Olimpica

WhirlwindI have been STRUGGLING lately to actually write my new wip I’m working on.  This is a fully flushed out idea (as full as I am going to get that is) with distinct beginning, middle, and end.  Not to mention characters that, while I don’t know extremely well, I do have a solid internal GMC with one, and an external GMC with the other that I can work with.

Yet. The. Words. Would. Not. Come

I am a perfectionist by nature, with a touch of OCD, and a pretty good smattering of anal retentiveness.  Which, as you can imagine, does not always play well with the more organic nature of my creative writing side.  But still, I consider my Starting Sludging Jitters–the name for the murky mire I have to type through in order to hit my productive stride on a story, to be the main issue that plagues my writing.  It has since I first started pursuing writing in 2008.

However, I am now 5 years into this, and I absolutely know better than to allow a stalled beginning on a first draft hold me up.  So this morning at got up at 5:30 am with one goal:

To write the damn book by placing my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard.

I also did one other thing, I gave myself permission to write the crap as well.  As long as I was producing new words, I could write the lamest metaphor, the oldest cliche, or the longest stretch of stale telling that was ever placed on a sheet of paper.  Like I said, it’s sometimes tough for my regimented side that continually strives towards the impossible–a perfect first draft full of tension, conflict, balanced characters, and emotion–to produce what’s akin to lukewarm poo on the page.

It worked! Today in the 20 mins I was able to take for myself to write, I produced twice as many words as I did writing the ENTIRE DAY YESTERDAY.  (Don’t go getting excited, I didn’t produce a full masterpiece.  My progress  speaks more to me actually writing today vs. sitting around, zoned out, looking at my computer screen most of yesterday 🙂  ).  Not only do I have a few hundred words on the page, but I was also able to channel this new character for the first time.  For me, it’s a lovely feeling to connect with the character on the page.  And while I may be writing mostly dribble at this point, at least it’s dribble organic to my character and my story.  And most importantly, I’ve crossed the first hurdle and I’m actively writing my new wip.  YAY!!

Although today is Muse Music Monday,  I felt it more important to share my re-learned revelation of  giving yourself permission to write the crap in order to get to the gold.  However, I will not leave you without a muse inspiring selection. I present “Olimpica” by Roberto Cacciapaglia 🙂

Now if this doesn’t inspire you to get up and conquer something, I don’t know what will!

*Lyrics & music are property and copyright of their owners; provided here for educational purposes and personal use only.

Guest Blogger: Christine Ashworth

Today I’m joined by new author Christine Ashworth, sharing her experience with overwriting– an affliction that many newbie authors suffer from.  I’m sure most of you authors out there have similar tales as Christine, if so please share.  There’s no judging here 🙂

Hi La-Tessa, thanks for having me on your blog to blatantly promote my first published novel! But before I get to that, I wanted to share how I went from overwriting, to writing to sell.

When I wrote my first novel, I put everything in it. Ballet dancers, gay men, straight men, alcohol, sweat, snow, gorgeous imagery, sexual tension, heartbreak, omniscient POV, deep third POV, Paris, New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, hot tubs, nakedness in the kitchen, really great lasagna, sex with inappropriate people…should I go on?

Needless to say, that novel, while remaining a darling in my heart, is on a dusty section of a hard drive that no longer exists. Ten long years have passed – eleven complete novels and over a dozen partials later, and I’m still struggling not to put everything plus the kitchen sink into a book.

I know now how to plot just enough that the thought of writing the story doesn’t bore me. I know how to go back through a book and see what’s missing, and how to add it in. I write fast, mainly to get through the writing to the rewriting, which has become my favorite part of writing. (Which is good, since selling means rewriting.)

But it’s taken me a long time to accept my method of writing and then rewriting. I had a friend ask me if I keep all the words I write in a day (typically 2k-5k, depending on the day, the story, and life in general). At first I thought, well of course I do! But in retrospect, when I rewrite a story for sense, romance, plot, and character, I do change/add/delete quite a bit of words. I’ve tossed out entire chapters because that dragged in a fourth POV, which the story didn’t need. So do I keep all the words I write? No. My bet is, few writers do.

I’m no Gustav Flaubert (Madame Bovary), who would at times agonize over a paragraph for a month before he was satisfied with it. (Plus, you know, he was writing in French.) Rather, the words fly out of my brain and onto the screen because if I think too much I can’t write – therefore, the words that make it to the page aren’t always appropriate for the story, but they lead me to the next bit, and the next, and before I know it, the book is done and the real work (fun!) begins.

No writing is truly wasted. When I say I “toss” words, I really mean “put in a delete folder for all eternity”. Because someday, those words might come in handy! Yes, I still over-write – add in elements to the story that don’t really fit. But they get put into the delete folder at the appropriate time, because my brain has finally figured out what happens next.

Christine, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experience.  You weren’t kidding about trying to put everything in your first manuscript were you?.  Personally, I’d like to know how all that could possibly exist in one story, but I suppose that’s a tale for another day.  Great lasagna indeed-LOL.  😀

Before I let Christine go, I ‘d like to mention her 1st release, Demon Soul is out and available for purchase.  Here’s a bit about it:

…to retrieve his soul, she’ll become fire… Gabriel Caine stands on the edge of the abyss. A vampire has stolen his soul and if he doesn’t get it back soon, his next step will be into hell.

Rose Walters has been sent back from the dead to complete one task – save Gabriel Caine. But this muscled guy in leather, black jeans and a dangerous aura didn’t look like he needed anyone’s help.

Rose has touched the whole of Gabriel, making him yearn for a love he believes he can never have. Her willingness to put her human life on the line for him forces him to bring all three parts of himself – demon, human and Fae bloodlines, and the traps and gifts of each – into harmony, and into the fight that will decide their fate.

Demon Soul is available for purchase on Amazon and All Romance eBooks.
You can find Christine over at her website and on Twitter.

12 Step Program for WIP-Aholics

One of my writing buddies, Jus Accardo, put together a 12 step programs for any and all writers who are WIP-Aholics.  No explaination neccessary.  You know who you are.  And you’re on the fence about whether or not you’re one, remember,  admiting you have a program is the first step- LOL.   🙂


1.  We admit we are powerless against our WIPs—that they hold our muse—and our hard drives hostage.
2.  We believe something greater than ourselves—the revision process and editing that comes with it—can and will restore our sanity.

3.  We have made the choice to give our lives over to the care of our Muse.

4.  We will cease extensively researching and move forward with the revision process so that our WIP will one day grace the desk of our dream agent.

5.  We have admitted to ourselves, and our fellow writers, our flaws—and will make a conscious effort not to indulge our WIP obsession until we have made at least one submission.

6.  We acknowledge that we are ready to move forward and tackle our enormous pile of WIPs—by focusing on them one at a time.

7.  We offer chocolate, caffeine, and other indulgent gifts to our muse in exchange for urging us onward toward our publication goal.

8.  We have made a list of the WIPs being neglecting, and are now willing to make amends.

9.  We will continue to move forward with our neglected WIPs, admitting freely when the urge to start another surfaces.

10.  We will, through chocolate and coffee, improve our relationship with our muse, begging for her/his knowledge and guidance.

11. We will not make excuses.

12. We will, having had an awakening of epic proportions due to these steps, go forth and spread this message to all other WIPaholics.


I loved this so much, I asked permission if I could share.  So all you WIP-Aholics, take time to review the above affirmations.  Become friends with them.  Then… stop procrastinating & get going.  🙂