14 fantastic products to help you have your Dream Christmas

Let's add some fun and calm back into the holidays this year!  What activities are you most excited about doing?  Let's add those in shall we :D

Last week I talked about wanting to get ahead of the crazy rush that usually comes along with getting ready for the holidays, all the while keeping yourself inspired as well as organised.  This, week, I want to talk about how to make your holidays a lot more fun! 

Pull out your Dream Christmas printable from last week and go over your priorities.  What do YOU really want to do this holiday season?  If you missed the free printable, you can grab it HERE or if you'd like more versatility check my etsy shop, I have a variety of sizes and room for hole punching, stitching or stapling (on the left or the middle).  


I am SURE that there are some crafting projects on your Dream Christmas list.  amiright? ;)

Well, I've got a treat for you! 

I'm participating in the Scrapbook Bundles Creative Christmas again this year, there are some fantastic products again this year for you to play with!

CC2015 Blog Hop Banner

Sign up here to be notified when the cart is open!

There are 14 products, including printables, classes, cutfiles, templates, calendars and more!  It's going to be so great!  You need to make sure that you are signed up for the email notification list, not only because you'll get a fab tutorial to make some quick and easy holiday gifts, but also the cart will be open early for email subbies!  You'll be able to purchase the bundle on Thanksgiving instead of having to wait until Black Friday.

Sign up HERE!!

Before the bundle goes on sale, we are giving away a bundle to to one lucky commenter!  All you need to do is leave a comment below to enter!  One commenter will be chosen from amongst the comments on all the blogs in the hop so make sure you visit each of the blogs to increase your chances, but hurry because the giveaway ends tonight at midnight and the winner announced tomorrow :D

There are 13 different blogs to visit, so grab a snack and click around and get ready to be inspired by all the products you can win!

Here's the hop list!

So have fun checking out all the posts for more examples of how you can use the products in the bundle.  Don't forget to comment on each one!

Today, I had fun with Ashley Calder's cutfiles from the bundle along with some of my printables that I turned in to stickers. I made one of my take-along books (you can get a free tutorial and make your own if you sign up in th box in my side bar or at the bottom of this post).


I'm going to use this Take along book to prepare for Alice's class, 'Scrapbooking Christmas... in January', which is included in the bundle.  I'm going to keep the book in my planner, to have it close by so that I can follow Alice's prompts through out December and have a place to keep all my memories, stories, notes and memorabilia in one place so that it will be ready and waiting for me when its time to Scrapbook Christmas... in January.


These are the printables that I hand painted for the bundle, I made them into stickers to use in my take along, but you can use them in any size that you need.


Practically perfect Christmas

It's coming!

The most wonderful time of the year :D

But, is it?

Or does this sound more accurate?
It's a season of hour long wrapping sessions, endless to-do's to get everything ready, rushing to yet another Christmas/Holiday/Winter performance and dropping into your seat with an exhausted sigh after dropping your child backstage, 5 minutes late and getting one of 'those' looks from her teacher as you try to comb her hair with your fingers and rub the traces of spaghetti sauce off her face with your thumb.  Then, there is more wrapping, last minute bake-a-thon's at 11pm and half assed gift purchases to replace that perfect, well thought out, meaningful handknit cardigan in your sister's favourite colour, that you only got 2/3 finished.


Christmas CAN be soooo Magical!

But it can be CRAP too... your to-do list can make you feel overloaded, stressed and just plain burned out by the time the holidays even get here, and instead of participating in all the festivities and having fun all you end up doing is hiding under the covers, watching Elf and eating all the chocolate that was supposed to be for aunt Martha!

Let me help you have a peaceful Christmas this year, so you can have the time to sit in the tree light with a good novel, some Christmas carols and a nip of Bailey's.  There are only two ways we can do this.  One, plan on not doing anything this Christmas.  Which, yes, it may be peaceful, but it'll still be crap.  Or you could do number two, plan on having a lovely Christmas this year.  


I have a free printable for you, a free planner tutorial and a process to help you get ahead of yourself this year.  So you can actually enjoy your Christmas.

Print off the free printables, then fill them out.  Follow my process below and plan out your action steps to make Christmas magical.

if you would like a more versatile version, with different sizes and space on the left (or in the middle) for holes or stapling then I do have them in my etsy shop: Practically Perfect Christmas Planner

Practically Perfect Christmas Process


Sit down with a cup of your favourite holiday beverage (why not have that Bailey's now!) and write down every thing that you can think of that would make Christmas absolutely PERFECT! Include things like how you want your house decorated, the trips you want to take and the maid that will do the packing and wrapping for you. DREAM big. Don't hold back, write it all down, even the impossible magical reindeer ride.  What activities, baking, crafting would you love to do this year? We aren't limiting ourselves here, we are dreaming.  So if you've dreamed it, ever, write it down.  We'll narrow things down later.


Okay, now is the time to be realistic and apply that reality filter. Really be honest with yourself.  What CAN happen this year?  Take into consideration the ages of your family members, the number of family members involved (extended included), budget, time restraints, etc

BUT, the most important part is to add your PRIORITIES into the filter.  If you really want to do something this year, but it really doesn't look do-able, how can you make this happen?  What else can you delete from that 'have-to' list to make room for your special wish?

For me, my non-negociable is making my own Chrismtas cards. It takes an enormous amount of time and energy but I love challenging myself to out do last year's card. But most importantly the repetitive assembly line forces me to slow down and enjoy the processs. I listen to Christmas carols and often times I'm thinking of my mom while I work.   She loved the whole Christmas season, her birthday was in December and she was usually listening to her carols in the kitchen before Halloween. It makes me want to try and enjoy the season the way that she did.  To make room for my card making, I usually bump my december daily to the new year.  I write down all the stories, collect the memorabilia in a cute folder, but I don't actually scrapbook it until January and during layout-a-day in February.

Really put your thinking cap on to see how you can alter your dream Christmas so that it can become reality.  Okay, so maybe a maid to do the wrapping is not at all in the stars, but you could give an older child a few dollars to do it, or the neighbour teenager who is looking for some extra cash to buy gifts for her friends.  We aren't looking for perfection, practically perfect will do just nicely :D


Break down the things that are left ALL the way to their simplest action step and put each of those on your to do list.  It's a lot less overwhelming to see one individual step of project at a time than the whole project itself.  So don't write 'make Christmas cards' write out all the steps; buy supplies, cut papers, do the stamping, stuff envies etc etc

This may seem like a longer more exhausting list, but i'll make it easier on you as you set out to do these tasks and you'll know when you can check these items off.  Or cross them off, I'm a cross-offer, do you check or cross off? ;)


 Now, take some time to schedule each of the these tasks into your daily plan.  Whether that be a specific hour in your planner or just added to day in your calendar or to a day's to-do list.  Working backwards from your deadlines helps to know where to start the frst task for each project.  

Don't skip this step, because it'll not only keep you on track, but also let you know if you can realistically fit it all in or if you need to go back to step 1 and reassess what is realistic and what is possible and maybe delete or move things to the new year.

Here's to a happy, relaxing holiday season!!


How tall is your stack?

You have gotten to know me on this blog, but now it's time for me to get to know you a little better. And what could be more fun than to do it with a happy little quiz.  I know that you may not be both a scrapbooker and a planner girl so feel free to only answer the questions that pertain to you, and even only the ones that you really feel like answering.  But, I would love to see some (or all!) of your answers in the comments below.  

I've included my answers so that you can get to know me even better too!

Here we go! 

1.  Check all that apply: mother, daughter, sister, wife, lover, friend, cousin, niece, hey-I'm-a-dude-we-can-be-papercrafters-too!
All, except that last one ;)

2.  Are you a planner girl, scrapbooker or Both?

3.   What's your OOTD right now?  No Cheating!!  Pyjamas are welcome ;)
A powder blue, cable knit turtleneck sweater that clever conceals my 6 child muffin top with black and white check slim pants (from Boden of course) with black boots.

Okay, so I totally cheated!! When I wrote the first draft of this blog post I was still in my gym clothes, mixed matched Boden pilate pants and a Roots hoodie with bright red maple leaves all over it ;)

4.  What is your favourite paper crafting product right now?
Jen Hadfield's emphemera

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5.  Do you prefer to read traditional paper books or on something like a kindle.
PAPER! Audio books are a huge favourite of mine too.  I'm listening to Big Magic now and reading the Virgin's Lover and Hands Free Life in paperback.

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6.  What kind of planner do you use?
Commit30 plus homemade inserts in a Cakedori for planning and Heidi Swapp's for memory 'planning'.

7. Who is your 'Person'? *
If you aren't a Grey's Anatomy fan, this is that person you write in the emergency contact box when you fill out forms.  The person you trust with your life.

Mine would be that French hottie of a husband of mine ;)

8. Email, FB messanger or texts?

9. What's your favourite 'granny' craft? Knitting, crochet, quilting or something else?

10. R2D2 or BB8
R2D2 will always have my heart ;)

11. Last person you emailed, FB messangered or texted ;)
My kids' hockey coach, who I also consider a good friend.

12. What pinned recipes have you actually tried?
Guinness Chocolate cake, it's my go to cake recipe :D Made it just last night.

13. What projects (can be non-paper pojects) are you making for Christmas?  ...or not!
I'm making a tee-shirt for my brand new nephew, Mariano, to match the ones his cousins all got last year. Each family got their own colour and the child's cousin rank was on the back.  Little Mariano is number 25.


14. Are you outdoorsy or insdoorsy?
OMG INdoorsy!!!

15. Is your BFF online the same person as you BFF offline?
No, most of my online friends aren't local and my local friends are mostly not crafty... except Helen ;)

16. List your last 3 etsy purchases.
Planner Stickers from Little Blue Garden

My cakedori from Cake Paperie
On the Softer Side scrapbooking class from Soaphouse mama

17. List 3 things on your Christmas wish list.
R2 Tea 2 teapot

Big Bang Theory lego
Boden clothes

18. 5 people you love to watch on Periscope
Stacy Julian

April Bowles Olin
Kerri Pouliot
Jenny Penton
Hilary Rushford

19. How tall is your To-Be-Put-Away scrapbook layout stack?
3 and a half inches!

20. How many planners do you have?  How many planners do you use? Is it a huge stack?
2 and 2 (see number 6)

Now it is your turn!! I would love for you to post (on your favourtie social media platform) your answer to either question number 19 or number 20. with the hashtag #hootstack.  Include a photo of your stack if you'd like and even the link back to this post bit.ly/hootstack

Cannot wait to hear your answers!

5 surprising questions you never thought to ask yourself before buying your next planner

There are soooo many gorgeous planners out there tempting and whispering our names, asking us to buy them.  Wanting us to kiss them and squeeze them and call them George.


But, we can't have them all! 

So, how do we choose?

It's not easy, it's more than just whether or not we can afford it or need it or even want it. Even when we get a wonderful planner that works for us - gives us planner peace, even - there is still no guarantee that it's all glitter and rainbow stickers from here on out.

New planners are constantly being released and we will be tempted, enticed and planner friends will gently enable us to buy the latest and greatest.

How do we choose? (click to tweet)

I have 5 questions you can ask yourself before you head out to drive 45 minutes to the Kate Spade outlet or hit that tempting 'add to bag' button on that pretty new Kikki K in their online shop.

These surprising questions will help narrow down your choices and get you adding coffee cup stickers and floral washi to your pretty new planner that works for you! 

ONE. What is your main purpose for buying this planner?  
Do you want it to plan in or to decorate?  Either answer is correct, and you can say both! You just need to know which it is for you. If you want to plan in it, then you need the pages to be laid out in a way that works with your brain. It's so important to consider the way you think and organise yourself, so that you can be as organised as possible with this planner.  

TWO. Where will this planner live?
You need to have room for it, not only standing on a shelf, but opened up, lying flat when you are using it.  This will help you decide if the size is right for you.  Do you have the flat surface space?  Will it fit in your purse?  Also consider that if you leave it out on a counter, it will spur you to use it, check it and build the habit of using it.  Hidden on a shelf, it may be forgotten.

THREE. Do you like the layouts of the pages?
If you are going to decorate it, do you have stickers that will fit? If you are planning in it, is there enough room to write and plan? Do you prefer a horizontal layout or veritcal?  A whole day on a page? or a week or a month?  If you don't know the answers, that's okay!  Find a similar layout on a printable page and give that a go for a few weeks and you'll know.

FOUR. How sturdy does the cover need to be?  
Will you carry it everywhere?  Will it have to stand up to a lot? Or will the cover not get a lot of wear and tear? What are you using it for?  Do you prefer a cover with that becomes gently worn, loved in? or would you rather it stay pristine?  Your answers will help you decide just how hearty and strong your cover needs to be.

FIVE. Do you LOVE it?  
It needs to be pretty!  You will look at this day in and day out.  If you don't love it absolutely then you won't use it as much and you will be less organised.

Are you intrigued, confused, enlightened?  Haha! The way our planners work for us are as unique as we are.  Our needs dictate the way they must work for us so it is not an easy decision to take on a new planner!  But, it doesn't have to be boring or hard, it can be FUN!

In my planner class, Practically Perfect Planners, I help you decide what planner (or planners) is right for you.  First we figure out how you need a planner to work for you and then, and only then do we buy.  Come join us! Class started Monday, but you can still join. But HURRY!  Registration closes tomorrow and it's the last session until Spring 2016. Don't miss out!

Practically Perfect Planners


Here is what planner girls are saying about Practically Perfect Planners:

With all the different planners on the market now, it’s not easy to choose!  Practically Perfect Planners allows you to try out the best one for yourself and find out what you need to put into your planner.
-Margareta Carlsson (paperpilekitten.com)

After taking Cara’s class I can now say that I am in love with my planner and I have managed to make it mine and have it work for me.  I highly recommend this course so that you can be happy with your planner too.
Beth Soler (scrappingwonders.com)

Cara’s thought of everything, and she really helps you to think through what you need your planner to be and how best to make it work for you.  She even manages to make the whole process fun!
Lisa Harris (mykreativepursuits.com)

Join Us today!!


Capturing and Telling Your Stories Triggered by Food and Smell with Project STIR

Project STIR will take place in kitchens around the world capturing the stories of families passing on their heirloom recipes.
The heart of Project STIR is the story of how food can bring us together.  -Sarah Shotts

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 16.29.50photo by Sarah Shotts

Project Stir is near and dear to my heart and I’d like to share why:

I remember as a teenager, having extremely busy days at school and trudging home, worn out, with a test in my bag that came back full of red marks even though I had been sure and certain that I had done well on it. Also, my planner had new assignments and new tests pencilled in to its already bulging study schedule. I was tired, stressed and just plained tuckered out!

I'd open our back door, and walk in to the wonderful smell of mom's biscuits and my shoulders would immediately drop and my school stress would melt away, if only for a moment.

My bag and coat would slide off on to the floor as I rushed into the kitchen.  I'd grab the molasses and open up one of the still warm biscuits and a little puff of steam would escape and rise. I'd practically inhale the first biscuit, then take a second one along with a glass of milk to the kitchen table and sit with mom and she'd help put all of my school worries in perspective.  Afterwards, I'd climb the stairs to my room ready to tackle my homework with a new energy and motivation thanks to my mom’s encouragement and warm biscuits.

Do smells and foods invoke any memories in you?  I’m sure they do.  Smells are so nostalgic.

Whenever my husband makes himself a coffee with our Nespresso, I’m transported back to when I was an Au Pair in Switzerland, when I first arrived in Europe and had my first european coffee with the family’s Nespresso.


I’m preparing to make my yearly fruitcakes with my Nannie’s recipe.  Its spicy smell zooms me right back to Christmas nights as a kid with a leftover hot turkey sandwich and fruitcake for supper in front of a movie with my new toys.

Stories are important.  Stories are what enrich our lives and help us leave a legacy.

This is why, for me, stories are my favourite part of scrapbooking, I always tell a story, it could be two lines or two pages just as long as I can tell what’s in my heart.

Baker-boyScrapbooking helps us document those stories all the while getting our creative me time.

Smells are such a wonderful trigger for a treasure trove of story ideas.  It’s a wonderful idea to use the recipes and stories for foods that you remember most.


Sarah Shotts from Project STIR is doing an amazing thing with this!  She wants to travel the world and documenting families cooking together.  Older generations cooking and teaching younger ones how to make tradtional family recipes.  Caring on the tradition, passing down the recipe, continuing the stories and making new stories.

Sarah describes it like this:

The heart of Project STIR is the story of how food can bring us together.

Everyone has a family recipe story. (Even if your story is that you don’t have one.)

What's Project STIR?

Project STIR is a series of documentary films capturing the universal language of love in the family kitchen. The films will take place in kitchens around the world and will tell the stories of Abuelitas, Nans & Mothers passing on their heirloom recipes to the next generation.

By backing this project you are helping connect families all over the world. Backers will get an email invitation as each recipe video goes live. Because the films will be public you will be able to share the link with your family and friends so we can continue building community around the family recipe.

This isn’t just about funding a film. Our mission is to rekindle the family recipe. It is our hope that this project will inspire families to take the time to slow down and learn their own family’s heirloom recipes the world over. 

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Click here for more information.

What recipe, smell or food story would you wish Sarah could document? Share it in the comments and scrapbook that story soon!

Are you letting a book made of paper dictate your life?


Let me paint a little picture for you...  You absolutely adore this planner craze and have so much fun decorating your planner, but there's just something that's not working right.  You missed Janie's eye doctor's appointment last week and keep kicking yourself for it because she needs new glasses and she has to wait another week for an opening.  And really, you feel you should be on top of these things!  You are the mom after all! And your daily to-do list, which is so long, never gets done or even chipped away at!

You feel like you are spinning your wheels.  

It's all because of that stupid planner!  Everyone was ranting and raving about it, and gorgeous photos of it were all over Instagram. And how many videos did you watch of people flipping through it on Youtube and Periscope?  Sigh, it looked so pretty! You drove 35 mins with the kids bickering in the backseat the whole way to the outlet store in the next town over and then stood in line another 15 minutes while the Finn struggled and protested very loudly about being strapped into the stroller after being in the carseat for so long.  But, in the end you had that coveted, beautiful planner in your hands! You were sure this was it.  After so many planners, you found THE planner.

This was the planner that would bring you planner peace.

You were so proud and couldn't wait and snapped a photo right then and there in the store and posted to instagram, gloating just a little.  Then, you went and bought the whole gang ice cream to celebrate and you didn't even mind that it got all over the carseat.

But now, it's a month later and it just isn't keeping you organised. It's hard to keep track of appointments and such because you really prefer a weekly spread not this daily thing, where you can never see what's coming up.  There's no room for your to-do list in that tiny little box so you try to cram in all your tasks plus the kids' activities with your teeniest writing and it ends up a big jumbly mess and you don't know if you are coming or going!  

'Argh!' you think, 'Why can't I ever get myself organised?'

Can you relate to any of this?  
Have you ever been so frustrated by a planner?
Does the binding, size or shape drive you crazy?
Or maybe you aren't using it at all anymore?
Are you decorating it, but not actually planning anything in? 
Are the boxes or spaces too small or too big?
Have you ever given up on a planner and let it sit collecting dust only to run out and buy the lastest pretty planner on the market?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, keep reading!

For less than the price of yet another new planner, I can help you find the right planner for you.  THE planner, that will, not only keep you organised, but, keep you sane and less stressed and HAPPY as well.  

The right planner will not only keep you organised, but sane and HAPPY too! (click to tweet)

To stop the insane search for Planner Peace, click here to join me in my class Practically Perfect Planner.  Read more to find out if this class is for you.



3 Clever videos to transform your planner into something practical as well as pretty


The first video come out tomorrow so you don't want to miss out! To get the videos just put your name and email in right here and you'll get an email from me tomorrow:

You can go here to learn more.

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I can't wait to help you make your planner your minion!

What Planner Peace really looks like with Richelle Shadoan


Hey everyone! My name is Richelle and I'm not your typical planner girl. My planner is a very important part of my life, but it's pretty ugly. When I see the gorgeous planners out there on Instagram and Pinterest, I sometimes get planner envy. But for me, a planner that keeps me in line is priority #1. So even though my planner is plain, it keeps my life on track and makes it easier for me to get things done, and that's a beautiful thing.

Today is jan

I've always been a lister. I have way too many things going on inside my head to keep them all straight without some sort of list. When I had a "real job",  lists and a monthly calendar were enough, but since I've started my own business, I need a lot more help keeping things on track.  I've tried store-bought planners, but I could never get them to work for me because I need my daily to-do list,  weekly calendar and monthly highlights all together on one page. I figured this out my first year in business when i realized that Thanksgiving was only 3 days away and I hadn't taken my turkey out of the freezer. Oops.


Now I have a great planner which helps me track my day, week month, and year all in one place, as well as any big projects I've got going on. Even more importantly, I have a routine for planning. Every night, I make my plan for the following day. I try to keep my to-do list small and achievable, but of course, we all tend to load up our list with everything we hope to get done and disregard the fact that there are only so many hours in the day, so after I make my list, I give it a hard look and rank the items according to how important they are for moving me toward my goals. Then I jot down how long I think each task will take. This helps me remain realistic about what I can get done in a day.

Planner page - 1

It's important to put task on the list rather than projects. For example, if my goal for the day is to write a blog post I would need to outline the post, write a draft and edit it, then choose, edit, and upload pictures...You get the idea.


I love how flexible my planner is. I print them one month at a time and stitch them into one week booklets. I add a couple of sheets of lined paper, a copy my editorial calendar, plus any pertinent docs for the week. This week I'm in San Francisco, so I added my packing list, flight itinerary and lodging information. Once a month or so, I do a review and make note of anything that may have slipped through the cracks, or any brilliant ideas I scribbled down on the blank pages.

So that's basically it. Nothing fancy, cause that's how I roll, but super effective. And after all,

The best planner is the one you love to use and that gets the job done.  click to tweet

Happy planning, everyone!


PS: if you are interested in learning more about my planner, check it out here and download the free sample pages.

About Richelle
The Red Scorpio is Richelle. Or, maybe, Richelle is the Red Scorpio... Both. She is a perpetually curious, stay at home Mom of two 20-somethings, addicted to bliss. She loves sharing her passion for life, handmade, travel & fancy chickens. She developed a planner system that guides you to get stuff done. She makes unique, bold statement jewelry & her favorite thing is creating wearable memories from favorite photos. She blogs at theredscorpio.com

 Check out her instagram challenge for October #redrocktober and as a contributor to my Planner peace class, Practically Perfect Planners coming this month!

I am so very Thankful for YOU!!


Hello, my wonderful paper crafting FRIENDS!!

A lot of you are scrapbookers, more are planner girls and some of you are somewhere in between. I love that we all share a love for all things paper!

Next week, I'm participating in a fabulous bootcamp class with April Bowles-Olin on Creative Live.  I know most of you are not small business owners, but NO worries!  This post is directly for your, my papercrafting friend! I promise not to use business-speak because I know you don't want to hear about things like sales and marketing.  I'll  leave that to April, I know you are here for inspiration and to see pretty projects so, here ya go:



HOWEVER! I want to say THANK YOU!!  To you!

My readers, my scrappy gals and my planner girls! You leave sweet comments, you buy my stuff and you've been an inspiration to me as well. Mwah!

When I have a product, class etc, that I know will help you or be fun or inspirational, I want to share it.  I want to give you lots of tips, tricks and tutorials because I know you'll learn from it and have fun while you're at it :D

But, I don't want to come across as too salesy.

But, you know what? I don't even need to be salesy (as if I'd ever want to be salesy).  I'll mention the things I have going on and you jump right in and buy. You know, when you are with friends and someone mentions a fab new lipstick or awesome restaurant, you trust that friend and take their advice. And you're wearing that lipstick the very next day! That's kind of what it's like when I talk about my classes.

To be honest, it is slow going. I could get more people buying my stuff if I was pushier and salesy-er (yup totally a word!), but those new people don't always stick around as 'friends'.

YOU have stuck around, you read my blog, follow me on Instagram, and/or watch me on Periscope!

My email list may be small, but when I email, you open it! and when I have a new class up, you buy it, because you know me and you know that the info I give you in class will be awesome because you have seen in my blog posts, Instragram feed and Periscope videos that I give you good stuff!

So, that is my most successful marketing strategy (OOPS!  sorry, that biz-word just snuck in there!) I'm building a relationship with you, helping you and making friends along the way, which is sooooo much more amazing than being sales-y.  I get to help you and I get a friend in the deal!

So I am taking April's bootcamp (not just the free broadcast, but I've invested in the 'anytime access') to bring more people like you to my wonderful little Hooting Pirate world!


This post is a part of the Double Your Followers blog tour to spread the word about April Bowles-Olin’s upcoming CreativeLive course. Does hearing the word ‘marketing’ make your armpits start to drip with anxiety? Are you terrified of sounding salesy or like you have the personality of a dead blowfish? If so, come join me and 2,500+ entrepreneurs who’re taking April’s latest CreativeLive course, Double Your Followers with Creative MarketingYou can RSVP and watch for FREE. Yep, free. High fives, wildflowers, wine samples. Who doesn’t love free?

If you are new here, I'd love to have you in my circle of friends, please sign up in the tag below :D

6 Important Points to make your Stories Amazing with Kris Windley

No matter if you are watching a movie, reading a novel, listening to the radio or looking through an old scrapbook - you’re doing it for the story.

And every good story - even the shortest ones - has these 6 points…or it’s not really that great a story, kitten. 
Every one of those great movies, novels, radio shows & scrapbooks have the same 6 things to make them compelling & complete. If they don’t? Well, those are the movies we fall asleep halfway through or the novels we just can’t quite make it through. They’re missing something.
Because we are hardwired to LOVE a great story. We learn best through story; we connect with others by telling & listening to stories; we escape & relax by jumping into make believe stories, and we share & relive our own memories & lives through storytelling.
It’s why photos are so precious to us & why we love to keep memories to share. The stories of our lives are important!
So we better make them good.
This shape isn’t new. You may even recognize it from your High School English class (I know I taught a few classes about it, so if you were ever a student of mine you sure did), but did you know that you can use the narrative arc to tell your family stories too?
You can. You can use this framework to make sure that all of your memories are complete & interesting. Even the seemingly light & silly ones will have these ingredients, if you get creative. 
Find a photo for each piece - or make a few notes to fill in the details, but be creative & have fun. That’s the key to making a story yours. Let’s pretend we’re making a vacation album (mostly because I’m dying for a vacation, so I’m going to pretend I’m hitting the Caribbean with my family). 
We could fill the whole album with pictures of the sand & touristy cabanas…or we could tell the story. We could make it rich & alive & full of the texture of our actual vacation.
So that my family will actually enjoy re-living it as much as I enjoy telling it…and we’ll capture the fullness of the stories of our life…not just the pretty bits. That texture is really the best part anyways.
1. Set up your story first.
Who was there? When did it happen? Where were you & why do we care? You can answer these questions with a single photo, or you can set it up with a whole section. 
My vacation album isn’t starting at the beach. We’re going to set this up with some context…how about a spread showing the stacks of paper on my desk, laundry on the couch & my I-haven’t-washed-my-hair-in-way-too-long ponytail. We can put in a few sullen teenagers too for added spice - with agendas already full of assignments to do & no time left over for each other.
This is where the story starts, right? These are the people who matter & this is the kind of situation that makes a vacation special. 
2. Send the people toward a conflict.
Ok, so don’t set up your vacation to be awful, That’s not the point, but we all know that real life can have rough spots. This is the part of the story where we send our main characters out into the world together to face whatever comes our way.
The next spread in our vacation album could be, “Our Escape Plan,” & it can include the tickets, flight itineraries, maps & brochures. Maybe I’ll add a journal page with a checklist for all of our hopes for the vacation - our vacation bucket list. We can even put some photos of us making those plans together.
The story is developing & starting to feel important, right? We have some goals too…that’s always a good place for a story to start. I mean…could you imagine if Frodo & Sam were just going for a walk in the woods? Nope. They need to be heading to Mount Doom & they need to have a mission, or nobody cares.
3. Set out the conflict & its stakes.
If we just jumped right to the happy ending, our story wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. It also wouldn’t be very…well…true. Because life doesn’t jump from the ToDo list to the finished product, does it? Record the details that were difficult or tricky on the way to the sunset on the beach, kitten, so you can enjoy the view when you arrive all the more.
Maybe our flight is delayed, our luggage is lost or our tour bus to the ultimate dolphin emporium gets a flat tire. It’s a family vacation! Something ridiculous will happen, & we’re going to want to remember that. If your family is anything like ours, you know we’re also going to want to laugh about it, so we’ll go ahead and grab some pictures of us in the horrible hotel-lobby gift shop outfits we had to wear until our luggage turned up, & we’ll tell about the conflict that will lead us toward the whole point of the story.
Because every story has a moral. And every moral starts with a conflict. Ours may be that our clothes are all missing & my kids are growing up too fast to be that excited about a week on the beach with their mom. Sounds plausible, right?
4. Climax! This is the moment right before things work out ok.
So depending on the type of story you’re telling, this could be the hanging-off-the-cliff moment - the, “Will she make it?” moment right before the main character claws her way back up onto solid land (or in an entirely different story, she doesn’t). It’s the suspense & the excitement & the adrenaline of the thing.
Ok. So it’s a little tougher to pinpoint in our day-to-day life than in an action movie, but there is always a climax in every good story. You just need to find it & show it. Here’s how: look at what the point of the whole story is & work backwards. 
Maybe we realized during this vacation that my kids & I are closer to being adults together than a family with little kids & that’s kind of scary. Maybe they finally let down their teenager-guard & we just had fun being together & we knew that it will be ok for our family to change, because it’s still our family no matter what. 
Whatever the moral of our story is, the climax is the moment right before we realized it - the moment we nearly missed it.
So our vacation climax could be a spread showing photos of the girls being all grown up, next to a photo of them as sweet little girls from an old family vacation. I can write a note there about how it feels to see them growing up & how the time we get together now is bittersweet, because they are getting closer & closer to leaving the nest. 
5. Find the moral & resolve the conflict.
This is the turning point. It’s when all of the tension you built up gets resolved & it becomes clear what the point of the whole thing is, & it’s the most satisfying thing about good storytelling. You just set up the pins, kitten. It’s time to knock them down.
This is that picture of us together on the beach - the one where they forgot to not smile for the camera & we all look serene & full of joy, or it’s the food fight in our hotel room when we got pasta in our hair & laughed til our tummies hurt or the dance-off in the restaurant when I thoroughly embarrassed them until they joined in - or all of the above. 
It’s all of those beautiful, happy, vacation-y moments we captured that reminded us that even though things aren’t easy & life is textured with all kinds of difficulties (even in the Caribbean), we are a family & we will always be.
6. What’s the point? Tie up the loose ends, & make it complete.
This is the, “cue the credits” piece of every story. Some stories have sadness & some have laughs, but you should always tie it up at the end, so that it feels complete.
I think our vacation book will have a spread where each of us fill in a postcard to our future selves. We can remind ourselves of what a family vacation is for (even with rainy days & lost luggage), and we can maybe write a little dream or hope for future vacations - together or on our own. How fun would that be? I think I need to book this vacation, just so I can get the girls to write these postcards.
Can you see the difference between an album full of beach pictures & ticket stubs & the story of this piece of our lives?
That one vacation album will show a huge & important part of how our family has developed. It can tell more than the places we’ve been - it can show who we have been along the way.
And it can help us to never forget the real parts of the stories of our lives - even if they include bad gift shop T-shirts & grumpy teenagers, because that’s the truth about family.
And the truth is fantastic!
PS - you can read more about the shape of stories & find writing, blogging & biz tips on my blog. Here’s a great post on storytelling: http://www.withakwriting.com/brand-story-worksheet/
About Kris
Kris is a writer, teacher, editor & biz-story coach who helps women raise their voices and share their best stories…with pancakes & Canadian maple syrup on the side.  Find Kris at www.withakwriting.com, in her new Blog your Voice Bootcamp and on Creative Live with April Bowles-Olin.