The Hunt For The Perfect Daily Planner

I like to make plans, even I don’t always meet every goal. With the fresh energy of the new year, it’s easy to jump on the plans-for-the-new-year boat. Every year that I’ve started a planner I’ve ditched it part way through. Usually, March or April and then I pick up in August or September, and I’m done by October. Daily journaling takes up too much time in my chaotic life. I don’t have a chance to plot out more than the timed appointment on a regular basis. The week ahead goals are the best mode for me, but as a writer, homeschool mom and with the thirty other hats I wear, planning takes a ton of time that I don’t have to spend. That said, I want more organization in my life. I want my goals stated. I want to check off little boxes and hi-light triumphs. I want the gorgeous bullet journal that I don’t have time to make.

Instead, I took the time to compile a list of specialized planners. Some of the sites have a free download or two. Right now I have a couple of favorites. Within my writing group, it seems like the passion planner has the most followers, which makes it attractive, but doesn’t mean it will work for me.

I almost bailed on the whole idea after doing this research. I printed sample pages and figured I could piece-meal the planner along until things fall apart naturally, then pick up the momentum again. But after watching Simon Sinek speak,

I revised my position. Sinek suggests that the dopamine boost you get from meeting goals drives you to the next goal. By visually planning your goals and visually meeting them by crossing them off, you feel energized to meet more goals and forge on.

So, back to the planner search phase. I filled out the Brilliant weekly planner I already have and realized that it’s inferior to my needs. It doesn’t have the big goal list, and it doesn’t have enough space for weekly/daily/monthly tasks. It does an excellent job of keeping the weekly tasks in front of me at the keyboard, so I expect it will end up being used as a complement to my bigger planner. With a set of colored pens and a tiny window of time blocked out for Sunday night planning, I think I can do it. In fact, I will make it a goal—to use and update the planner. I’m not ready to dive into bullet journaling, but I’ve included it for others.

If I’ve missed a much-loved planner, please message me! I’d love to hear about it.

Here’s the list I chose from – in no particular order:

Law of Attraction Planner

I hate the instant play video on the home page, and that the planner is displayed to make me want to place an order. I love the covers. In the end, I don’t think this is the right planner for me – but it’s hard to tell, as they don’t show you the rest of the planner pages to make a decision easier.

The Passion Planner

Expensive and might be worth it. I can see the attraction. I like that they are upfront with what’s inside.

The Novel Planner

This might be fantastic if I needed a planner to plan a particular work. I’m working on too many projects to make this useful.

The Writer’s Year

It’s free, and it looks really helpful. I have my free pages printed out and ready to fill in.

Free Planner and Submission Tracker

Edited Year Planner 

This one looks too open for possibilities for me. The colorful set up actually turns me away from it, where others might be drawn. But you can try out pages – I like that.

Freebie sample Freebie planner sample:

Author’s Essentials Planner

Difficult to tell what I’m buying from the small photos. It looks like it might work for me, but I can’t tell.

Panda Planner

This looks open format enough it might work for me. I like there is an updated version.

Author Life Planner

Might be interesting. I didn’t like that someone in a review of it had to go get it spiral bound to use it effectively. I also don’t like that I can’t see what I’m buying.


This looks more collegiate than I need. I’ve had planners like this that I’ve ended up with most of the pages blank at the end of the year.


Ink & Volt 

(also known as the Kickstarter Spark Notebook)

This system looks really attractive. I’m not sure if it will work for me, but I might be willing to give it a shot after perusing their site.

2016 Free Pages:

Free Monthly Calendar Sheets to test

Planner Pads

These look interesting, but the website doesn’t tell me enough about them.

Momentum Planners

They offer some free pages as well and some specialized productivity tool worksheets:

The Dream Book

More on the big picture taking – but an interesting perspective and layout. Not for my current lifestyle.

Franklin Covey

I’ve used this system in years past. It’s detailed and what worked best for me was the weekly compass. The daily pages didn’t work in my chaotic life. I kept it going for a while, but when the year had passed by I shredded the pages and kept the Weekly Compass folder – which I still use.

Writer’s Planner & Motivation Guide

Bullet Journal System 

(Not a pre-made planner – do it yourself) Look on Pinterest for lots of ideas!

Free Author Monthly Planner

I love the format of this – more big picture.

Brilliant Weekly Planner

Not Dated: I have this one, and it works well in a format for plotting the week ahead, and it sits in front of my computer standing up.

Prism Weekly Scheduler

The Productivity Pages

Free Planner Sticker Template

A bunch of writer worksheets here.

Pinterest has a plethora of boards that have worksheets. I found a bunch that I printed out to work on specific projects.

A great list of Writer’s Tools

And my favorite pens:


A Mini Book Review: The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan

The Bullet Catcher's Daughter by Rod Duncan

The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter (Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire duology Book 1)The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan
Review by JM White
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


***Spoiler Alert***

Ever read a book and can’t remember whether you finished it? This is that book. I was drawn into the interesting gas-lit world. I didn’t quite buy into the twin cross-dressing idea – but heck, the world was interesting.

In the long haul, the writer lost me in the details. I was confused by the underlying plot and none of the other characters (save for maybe the agent) were memorable. I liked the idea of the living on the boat but it was hard to buy once the story set up and more of the world was revealed. Elizabeth Barnabas tries to be badass but the story falls short of making me feel like she really is.


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Mini Book Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer (The Falconer, #1)The Falconer by Elizabeth May
review by J. Morgyn White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2 1/2 stars is what I would like to give Ms. May’s The Falconer. I wanted very much to enjoy this book. I adore the cover. The set up is very attractive – Victorian Scotland upper-class girl with a secret. The horrible death of her mother she wishes to avenge sets her on a path that is her heritage. The faery love interest is attractive, the romantic conflict is interesting – and our heroine has engineering prowess.

That brings me to my love-hate relationship with the book that resulted in me throwing it at the wall. I loved the premise and the setup. I loved Lady Aileana Kameron and the antagonist love interest. What I hated was the constant check-your-brains at the door and the wild outrageous plot swings. At times, I was overwrought with the ridiculousness of a scene. Too many times I was annoyed at the lack of consideration for what would have actually happened if the heroine was truly in the scene with all of the action. A perfect example of where fantasy can break rules – but not all rules. To make fantasy work there has to be credibility and too many scenes in The Falconer lack credibility.

I think that Ms. May has storytelling talent and creates interesting characters. This book might become excellent with some introspection and rewriting and I’d be pleased to try reading another of her books.

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Mini Book Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
Review by J. Morgyn White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars



I loved the idea of this story. The set up of the creepy ghost wanting her as bride kept me going. I slogged through many scenes that I wouldn’t have, to get to the next resolution, The writing itself is smooth and easy to follow. The long drawn out scenes in the other-world were boggy in my opinion. I know it was essential to cause a crisis for the rescue and the new love interest, but I really hoped for more development of what had initially caught my attention – marrying the ghost – before the big plot reveal near the end. I’d be happy to read the “new” story. I found the new love interest to be intriguing but I would have been much happier if he was either introduced earlier or there was more “ghost bride” in the ghost bride. What I did love was that the Ms. Choo had a personal connection with the world she chose to write in.

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In the Writer’s Toolbox – Programs and Apps


With the New Year freshly turned, I’m looking for ways to increase productivity and organization in 2016. It’s not a new goal, but because of technology, every year there are more choices, and with more options it becomes harder to find things.

I’ve started a list of apps and programs to help, support and assist writers that I’m exploring or already using.


For Desktop: The hammer, screwdriver, and saw of writing.

Scrivener – – This is the program that I mainly write in. It’s cross platform and works very well with my need for visual organization. There are many things to love about Scrivener.

Grammarly – I’m a new convert, and while I’ve taken it out for a test drive, I think what I like best about it, is that it brings focus to potential problems. I don’t always agree, and that’s okay.

Hemingway – The best way to highlight your overuse of things. Less intensive than Grammarly and because of that more friendly, IMHO.

Slick Write – Stats. Did I mention I love stats? Have fun, but carve out at least an hour to play.

Aeon Timeline – I have yet to sit down and use this, but I keep hoping to backtrack and plug all my notes and paper data into it.


For Mobile: The goal on mobile is to keep track of word counts on the go and set daily goals across projects. What I dream of is an app that stacks sprint counts, but I’m still searching for one.

Writeometer (Android only) – Jury is out. Wish it was on iOS.

5000 words per hour – I downloaded it today so we’ll see if I use it.

Ink on – seems like it could be useful, but the interface is clunky. I’m hoping that I’ll get used to it.


Mini Book Review: Forever Charmed (#1 of the Halloween LaVeau Series) by Rose Pressey


Forever Charmed (Halloween Laveau, #1)Forever Charmed by Rose Pressey

review by J. Morgyn White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well for the genre of paranormal romance, beach-fare, chick-lit, Forever Charmed is pretty well done. The flow is good, the read is fast, and the material is light and engaging.

The not-so: The love triangle seems forced rather than interesting. The big bad conflict is more of an annoyance than sinister. Mom feels more like a sister. The best friend has strange moments that don’t feel right as a best friend. She steps up the plate when needed rather than she’s playing an active role. The plot has a good amount of check-your-brains factor.

The bad: The ending. Sheesh. Yes, I know it’s a series… but really?

Reading the next book? Well, no. Fun while it lasted but I don’t need to go on.

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Mini Book Review: The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan

SPOILER ALERT: I enjoyed the book but had some concerns with the storytelling. Story spoilers below this line.


The Hawley Book of the Dead: A NovelThe Hawley Book of the Dead: A Novel by Chrysler Szarlan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really liked the subtle magic and fae history woven into the story. The plot drives itself towards a big finale and that compelled me to keep reading to find out what happened. I expected more of the magical act story, and was surprised when the plot took a different direction.

Things that bothered me were things that dragged the story momentum – like the regular referral to the death of the main character’s husband. The author uses a lot of descriptive which I had a love/hate relationship with. At times I wanted more description of characters.

There was very little character development beyond the heroine. The book reads like a Hardy Boys mystery and ends like one with a total wrap-up and an easily predictable outcome. The big bad guy looming turns into ash and the other bad guy is vanquished. Guy and girl hook up and the missing kids come home. The ending is odd in that the big bad guy is never confronted by the heroine – he appears only off-screen.

I wish the plot line with the grandmother was more fleshed out. The falconry choice was an intriguing vocation for her. There were foundations laid for storytelling that didn’t happen. I’m left with too many questions.

All that said I enjoyed The Hawley Book of the Dead.

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