Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FREE is NOT Free!

I'm sure someone, somewhere is going to bitch-slap me for this post, but here goes...

We all like getting stuff for free, don't we? Personally, I love the swag I get in conference bags or two for one buys at the grocery store.

But why do a lot of readers think books should be FREE? Like they should be handed out like Halloween candy?

There, I've said it. The angry cat is out of the bag.

Today someone posted on Facebook asking authors where she could get FREE copies of their latest books. And several authors responded by saying they would be happy to send her their books. She did ask nicely, but it's my opinion she should not have asked at all.

Frankly, I'm just as upset with the authors forking over their books so easily. They make the rest of us look like money-grubbing, soulless Scrooges. They are also setting a dangerous precedent.

You see, this happens more than you might think. With books so cheap on places like Amazon, especially e-books, consumers have gotten used to those bargain basement prices,  including free, which are not the norm. Once a reviewer on Amazon posted that she really liked one of my books and noted that she'd gotten it as a Kindle Daily Deal. Then she tacked on that she was pissed because she'd had to pay full price for the next book in the series.  [insert an eye roll and groan here, along with a certain hand gesture]

Time for a little education.

Unless an author is at the top of the food chain, most authors make very little money off of the sale of their books, especially if they are traditionally published through a small publisher. Yet we toil for months and even years to bring them to our readers. When you do the math, a child working in a Calcutta sweat shop makes a higher hourly rate.

Authors also have a lot of expenses. We go to conferences to meet our readers. We drive to signings and library events. We travel for research. We pay for promotional materials, computers, Internet service, booze and happy pills. None of which is covered by our publisher. We sacrifice time with our family and friends and put ourselves under a lot of stress, all to bring some of happiness and entertainment to readers.

When's the last time you got in free to an Adele concert? Or a Tom Hanks movie? Do you go into a bakery, point to a pretty cake and ask if you can have it for free?

Of course not!  It's the same with books. Trust me, we don't pull book manuscripts out of our ass. We work long hard hours on each one.

Now don't you think we should get paid for that, just like the neighborhood baker and his cake?  To say no to this question is to disrespect the author, plain and simple.

I'm really not a bitch - Argument 1: Just so you don't think I'm a total bitch, let me say that every year I give away dozens of FREE books. I get a box of them from my publisher right before the book is released. These books are used for contests, charity baskets, library events, sent to reviewers not covered by my publisher, and even given as gifts to people who helped me with my research.  I've given books to hospitals and hospices, shelters, sick people, and even the armed forces. When the books the publisher sends me are gone, I have to PAY FOR MY OWN BOOKS to continue this giving.

The person on Facebook today never said she wanted these books for a non-profit entity. She was very clear that she wanted them for her own pleasure reading.

Well, honey, I pay for almost all the books I read,
so join the party!

I'm really not a bitch - Argument 2: I understand completely that some people are strapped for cash and cannot buy books. To those folks I say: Go to your local library. Authors get paid for the books you borrow from your library, whether in book, digital, or audio formats. And, like I said, I give a lot of books to libraries.  If your library doesn't have a certain book, ask them to order it for you. Most can and will.

Want a free copy of GHOST IN THE GUACAMOLE?

Currently in the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook, there is a contest running. I'll be giving away 3 copies.

And I'm very happy to do it because I want to do it. It's my gift to my readers.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Short on Pages, Long on Fun!

As a kid, I loved reading short stories. Whenever I'm asked about my favorite short stories, two immediately pop into my mind: The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. No matter how many years have passed since I've read them, they stay with me - one for its humor, the other for its creepiness.

Other unforgettable favorites:

The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

I still read short stories and there are a lot of good ones out there, both in anthologies and as individual shorts for e-readers.

One of the things I promised myself when I returned from Bouchercon last month was to finish two short stories I'd started. They are very different, yet both contain humor. One is more slapstick, the other subtle and sly. Both take place in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is why I wanted to finish and release them now.

Years ago I wrote a short story called Ho Ho Homicide featuring the amateur sleuth from my Odelia Grey mystery series.  With the rights to that story returned to me, I decided to independently publish it on Amazon, like I'd done with several other short stories. But since many of my readers had already read it, I turned it into a two-fer. coupling Ho Ho Homicide with a new short story, Ho Ho Hell.  Both short stories take place in the frenzy and hysteria of Christmas shopping at the same mall but several years apart.  The two stories were released together under the title Ho Ho Humbug and so far the reviews have been great!

Many, many years ago, I wrote a short story titled Early Retirement for submission to an anthology. My short story was not chosen so I tucked it away and forgot about it. This past month I took it out, dusted it off, and gave it a much-needed overhaul. It was released yesterday.  And I must say, I'm very glad that short story was not chosen for the anthology. It was a wreck and now with many years of writing under my belt, I was able to give it the attention it needed to become a very good story.

Ho Ho Humbug and Early Retirement are both digital only and can be found on Amazon for the short price of 99 Cents!

Buy HO HO HUMBUG here.


And check out my other short stories on Amazon.

I have another short story started with a working title of Something to Kill For, but that will be shelved for a while due to having a full-length novel and a novella both due to a publisher in mid-spring. Also in the works is a new series of e-book romance novellas scheduled for late summer, early fall.  So stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Got Rubbers?

Last night I watched Sunday night's CSI and it really disturbed me. It was the episode called "Rubbery Homicide."

If you didn't catch it, it was about men who bought and wore head to toe rubber doll suits. 

Yeah, you heard me.

Curious, I Googled that today and sure enough, it's a thing. The suits are quite expensive and incredibly life-like and there is a whole sub-culture built around it. (Not that I didn't believe you, CSI!)  Like I said, this really disturbed me, as in gave me the willies like an army of ants were stampeding my body. Here's an interesting article about some people that makes the suits.

I'm a pretty live-and-let-live kind of gal. Always have been. Transgender - no problem! Transvestite - who cares! Drag queen - start the show! Living in Los Angeles, I've seen it all. Or so I thought. We all have our secrets, our weird little fetishes, and fantasies.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

So why did the idea of men wearing rubber doll suits freak me out?

It was the masks.

It's all cool if a man wants to put on heels and Spanx and too much make-up and go out in public. Knock yourself out.  Just because it's not my thing and I AM a woman, doesn't mean it bothers me.  Same goes for women who buzz cut their hair and dress in men's wear. It's an expression of who they are.

But those masks really bothered me.

It didn't just strike me as creepy, but tragically sad. Voluntarily hiding your face like that is such a denial of who you are as a person. I can't say that these men don't like themselves, because I don't know them, but clearly they are not happy with the way they look as nature made them.

When wearing these suits, do they see themselves as women or as rubber doll fantasies? I'd love to know, because no woman I know, organic or transgender, looks like these dolls.

Equally disturbing was finding out that there are a whole lot of men who want to have sex with these rubber dolls. Not with the men in the suits, but with the dolls they become when wearing the suits. I found that even creepier.

Ok. Ok. It's their thing and they're not hurting anyone. And who knows, I might even know a few men who are dressing this way secretly. I'm just stunned, especially since I can barely put on panty hose.

And, NO, you will not be finding this as a plot topic in one of my books. Trust me on this. I've already done a book with drag queens and transgender individuals (TWICE AS DEAD) and that was fun ... except for the people I bumped off in the book.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Stay-Cations Rock!

Today I go back to work at ye old day job. I took Thanksgiving week off. Not to go anywhere, but to stay home and get some stuff done around the house. I did this a couple of years ago and loved every minute of it.

Boy, I'm scratching my head. It hardly seems possible that the past nine days have flown by so fast. Where did the time go? It seems like it just started and here I am about to get showered and dressed for work.

Here in Los Angeles we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather for the entire week with it being in the 80s, and I had wanted to get to the beach at least one day to sit and enjoy it without summer crowds.  I ended up not getting around to that, or a few other things, but that's okay.  Here's my report card for the things I had on my Stay-cation To Do List:

Go to beach  - Nope
Clean out closets - Started on kitchen closets
Organize old mail and papers and file them away - Done
Get rid of piled up recycling - Done
Clean apartment thoroughly - Half done
Meet Lori Tillman for our joint birthday lunch - postponed a week due to my screw-up
Participated in Vroman's Indies First Event on November 29th - Done and so much fun!
Organize old knickknacks around the house and put most away in curio cabinet - Done
Finish all 3 books I was reading - Done
Start Christmas shopping - Yes
Plot out new direction for writing career - Yes. See that here.
Work on first Winnie Wilde novella - Yes
Work on 3rd Madison Rose novel - Yes
Work on 11th Odelia Grey novel - Yes
Complete and publish Odelia Grey Holiday short story HO HO HUMBUG - Yes. Buy here.
Make my first vegan Thanksgiving - Yes, with mixed results
Catch up on all the stuff stored on my DVR - Almost
Get a good night's rest every night - YES! YES! YES!
Go see a movie - Nope
Write upcoming guest blog - Started
Get exercise every day and hit my 100 mi in November goal - DONE!
Work on new short story EARLY RETIREMENT - Yes
Set up some guest authors for 2015 for the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club - Yes
Clean out fridge - Yes

I'm disappointed that I didn't finish my cleaning or my closets, but I'm heading back to the office to feeling refreshed and satisfied and ready to take on December.

Starting today, I'm also back on my usual routine of writing each morning on the books next up for deadline.  I had set those aside for this past week and only worked on my indie projects.  But I must get back to GHOST WRITER, the 6th Ghost of Granny Apples novel that is due in less than 4 months and THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY, the 3rd Granny Apples novella due in 5 months.

As much as I love to travel, I do so LOVE stay-cations!  Maybe I can get in another short one in soon!  I hope. I hope. I hope!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rekindling the Passion

Recently I attended Bouchercon 2014, the World Mystery Conference. It's always so much fun to get together with readers and with other writers and I had a blast. But one of the things I came away with was a renewed passion for my writing career.

Self publishing or independent publishing has been around a very long time. My Odelia Grey novels began with the first two books in the series being originally released by me via iUniverse before they were picked up by traditional publisher Midnight Ink.  In addition, I've been self-publishing short stories on Amazon for several years now with moderate success.

Over the years, Midnight Ink contracted with me for a total of 12 Odelia Grey books. I have only two books left under contract and I'm currently working on #11. In 2017, the 12th and final Odelia Grey book will be released by Midnight Ink and the series will come to an end ... or will it?

But we'll come back to that...

I've been a bit burned out by my writing career for a while now.  I'm not bored with writing either the Odelia Grey or the Ghost of Granny Apples series, but I am burned out on working so damn hard and not making much money from my efforts. Even though I'm considered a "successful" author with nearly 20 books in publication, there is no way I can support myself with my royalties and advances. That's the ugly truth of publishing.  Most of your favorite authors, except those in the rarified air at the very top, can. 

For a few years I've been chatting with many authors who do support themselves with their novels and who are not at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List. And almost all of them are indie authors, meaning they self-publish their books.

Here's another dirty little secret, usually the author of a book makes the least amount of money from it. That hardly seems right, does it?  But indie authors make the lion's share of the sales of their books. No wonder they can support themselves.  They are selling thousands and pocketing most of the money.
Where do I sign up?

I'm not looking to quit my job. I like my day job. More importantly, I am just a few years away from retirement. To leave now would be foolish, unless I won millions in Powerball. But there's no time like the present to think about extra money for my retirement. I'm also not looking to dump traditional publishing. As long as Granny Apples has a home with Berkley, I'm happy with that arrangement. And my agent has some ideas for other publishing projects. But authors today need to have a foot in both traditional and independent publishing. Even my wonderful agent agrees with that.

After coming home from Bouchercon, I made a list of all of the writing projects I want to complete that are not under contract. It's a long list:

Holidays From Hell, a novel based on my popular short story series
More Madison Rose Vampire Mysteries (Midnight Ink canned the series but my readers are still clamoring for more)
More short stories
A new steamy and humorous romance series
A dark murder mystery that I've had on the back burner for quite a while
A new paranormal series

With the list made, I got to work.  First, I finished up a short story that I'd been working on and published it via Amazon for Kindle.  It's called HO HO HUMBUG and contains two Odelia Grey Christmas short stories.  The first one, HO HO HOMICIDE, has appeared now in two anthologies. With my rights returned to me, I paired it with a new short story called HO HO HELL. You can find it on Amazon for Kindle for 99 cents. 

I'm also working on another short story called EARLY RETIREMENT. That should be done and ready for release in the next several weeks.

As for the steamy romance series, I've already started the first book in the series, which has a working title of RUNNING WILDE.  The series is called The Adventures of Winnie Wilde and will feature Winnie Wilde, a woman who just turned fifty and is on a journey of self-discovery.  These will be released under the pen name of Meg Chambers.  Meg already has her own Facebook page. Expect the first one to be released in the summer of 2015.

Madison and her vampire pals will be back, too! Expect to see BETRAYED BY BLOOD, the 3rd book in the series, come out in late 2016 or even early 2017 if I get bogged down with other things.

Why the delay? Remember, I'm still writing books for two traditional publishers and working a full-time day job.

As for the Holidays From Hell novel, the dark murder mystery, and the new paranormal series, those are in the mix but I don't have anything scheduled for them yet. But stay tuned.

NOTE: All of my self-published works will be released by Arakel Press, my personal imprint. I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to hide my self published status on these projects. I'm proud to be an indie.
Now back to Odelia ...

Yes, I am planning on there being a 13th Odelia Grey novel, but that's all I'm saying at this time, except that Odelia may be returning to her indie roots.  Expect it out in early 2018, providing I live that long and people still want to read about her sleuthing.

In this season of giving thanks, I want to thank you all for supporting my writing career and my work. Without my wonderful readers and without the support and information given me by my writing colleagues, I couldn't think of starting this journey. Now I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bouchercon, Here I Come!

This year Bouchercon, the annual World Mystery Conference, is being held in Long Beach, which is just down the 405 freeway from me.  I haven't been to a Bouchercon in a few years, so since it's practically in my backyard, decided to hit it this time around.

Bouchercon is a fan-based conference where mystery writers and mystery readers from all over collide for 4 days of fun, panels, workshops, awards, and the celebration of mystery books.

It's the Comic Con of murder and mayhem, but without the funny costumes! 

I have two panels scheduled, one on Thursday and one on Friday, and so far one signing time besides those after the panels. I'll also be attending the Penguin/Berkley cocktail party and have at least one meal scheduled with friends.

This should be so much fun. These conferences are not only a place for me to connect with readers, but with other writers and friends who are scattered far and wide.

If you're going to Bouchercon, here's my schedule. Come up and say "hi."

November 13 - 9-11 am
Author Speed Dating

November 13 - 1-2 pm
Panel:  Murder Most Ghostly and Paranormal

November 13 - 5:15-5:45 pm
Book Signing at Mystery Mike's booth
November 14 - 11:30 am -12:30 pm
Panel: Make 'em Laugh: Balancing the Lows of Loss with Highs of Humor

Friday, November 07, 2014

Typing As Fast As I Can!

HELL ON WHEELS is now out in both digital and print formats!   This is the 9th book in my long-running Odelia Grey series. 


Currently there are two contests running to win a copy of HELL ON WHEELS.

One can be found at the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook. The entry deadline is 9 pm November 8th, so scoot on over and check out the details for entering, which are pinned to the top of the feed.

The other is a book give-a-way on the Book Babe Blog. I'm guest blogging there today about how I created the character of Greg Stevens, Odelia's paraplegic husband.

Looking back on all the novels I'm written so far, I can see that I've left a pretty long trail of dead bodies in my wake. I guess that makes me a serial killer of sorts.

And there's more blood shed and mystery solving to come!

I just turned in book 10 in the Odelia Grey series, A BODY TO SPARE, and am madly scribbling away on book #11, which has a working title of GUN 'N GEEZERS.

And just so I'm not bored, I'm also working hard on GHOST WRITER, the 6th Ghost of Granny Apples novel and the next novel due to a publisher. It's deadline is March 15th.

And because idle hands are the devil's workshop, I'm also noodling along on the 3rd Granny Apples digital novella, THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY, which will be out in time for the holidays in 2015.

I see lots of coffee in my future ...

Friday, October 31, 2014

I'm Ready For My Close Up

I live in Los Angeles, specifically the west side of the city. I work in Century City, which isn't a city at all, but a business district on the west side squeezed between Beverly Hills and Fox Studios.  My apartment is smack between Fox Studios to the north and Sony Studios to the south. It's not uncommon to find my route to work strewn with Star Wagons, equipment trucks and catering vehicles, all sure signs of a film shoot in progress.

When you live in LA you get used to seeing film crews in the streets. Even when you're driving, sometimes you will spot a slow moving truck complete with lights and cameras, filming the car attached behind it.

It's both fun and a nuisance, especially when you're in a rush and traffic is snarled by either the filming and/or the lookie-loos.

For the better part of this week the top of our office parking structure has been used to film an Estee Lauder commercial. It has made getting in and out of the structure difficult for those of us who need to park there. An e-mail just went out notifying us that our office building will be used to film an action scene (complete with helicopter and shootout)  for NCIS: LA, one of my favorite shows. 

According to the e-mail, the filming will be all next week and will involve our main lobby rotunda, a helicopter landing on the roof, simulated gunfire, and a glass window shattering on the 16th floor of the tower right next to the one I'm sitting in on the 17th floor.

Gunfire. Helicopters. Smashed windows.

Sounds like a routine day in LA, or at least a routine day in LA as imagined by the rest of the country. We're actually pretty tame considering how many people live in LA (almost 4 million on about 500 square miles).

I wonder if I could request Sam Hanna (played by the yummy LL Cool J) to swing by my office window during the helicopter landing? It would certainly jazz up an otherwise dull day at the office, just in case the gunfire doesn't do the trick.

Monday, October 27, 2014

New Year's Resolutions? Oh Yeah, Those!

Here we are in the last quarter of 2014. Wow, time has certainly flown by this year! 

Would you believe there are just 65 days left in 2014?!  It's true!

Just so you know I haven't forgotten, here is my 3rd quarter progress report on my 2014 New Year's Resolutions. I would have filed the report sooner but I was on book deadline until last week, but never late than never.

To recap,  my 2014 New Year's Resolutions were:

1) Make my bed every day
2) Balance my check book every month
3) Stick to a workout and eating program
4) Read at least 30 books this year.
And here is how they stand as of today:

1) Ummm, I've probably only made my bed half the time.  BUT I'm making a resolution right this second to finish the year strong and make it every day for the next 65 days!

2) To be honest, I have balanced my checkbook every month except for one, then immediately got back on track with it.

3) I continue to eat healthier and move a lot more. I wear George the FitBit almost every day and it continues to push me to be more active.  I've also started getting on my exercise bike while watching TV several nights a week. In addition, I now eat mostly vegan and have even started up a blog called The Half-Assed Vegan for folks curious about the lifestyle or just how to change little things in their eating habits. I lost weight this year, but not a ton, but what I've lost, I've managed to keep off (allowing for a grudging 3-5 lbs that come and go with regularity).

4) As of today I have read 29 of the 30 book goal I set for myself! And that does not include all the times I've read my own manuscripts over and over before turning them into my publishers. I'm sure between now and the end of the year I will easily complete 2-4 more books.

With only 65 days left in 2014, I have no intention of falling off the resolution wagon, not even with the bed-making.  WATCH ME!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Everyone Loves FREE!

To celebrate the release of HELL ON WHEELS, the 9th Odelia Grey novel, in just over a week, three lucky winners will receive either a signed copy of the book or a digital copy via Amazon.
You must be a member of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club to enter. Details can be found at Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club.
Not a member of the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club?
Well, that's just WRONG!
Membership Has Its Benefits

  • Fun book chat with other readers, and not just about my books
  • Guest authors almost every month
  • Interesting questions and conversations about books, authors and reading
  • My contests are usually for members only and I hold several throughout the year
  • No spamming or advertisements allowed
  • It's FREE!
We're just shy of 1,000 members, so come on board and help us hit that magical number and have some fun at the same time!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - The End Is Just The Beginning

Yesterday afternoon I turned the manuscript for A BODY TO SPARE into my publisher. This is the 19th completed novel under contract that I have finished. The 21st if you count the two books still unpublished that I've completed.

So what now? I will tell you with confidence that I am not going to Disneyland. Not that a trip to the Magic Kingdom wouldn't be fun and it is fairly close to where I live, but I have other plans.

I am going to take the rest of October off from writing.  I'm sure my muse has other ideas, but I might have to beat her into submission on this. My brain is tired.

First, I'll clean my home top to bottom. I do this after I finish every book. It's like sweeping out the old and preparing for the new.

Clean out the closet that has been waiting for my attention for almost 2 years.

Sort, file and throw away all the mail piled up on the dining table.

Launch HELL ON WHEELS, the 9th Odelia Grey novel due to be released the first of November.

Get ready for Bouchercon, which is coming up very fast in November.

And after that?

Well, starting November 1st, it will be time to saddle up and ride toward the next deadline.

I have three books due to two different publishers in the next 12 months. 

Yeah, you read that right - three.

The 6th Granny Apples book is due mid-March. The 3rd Granny Apples novella is due in April and the next Odelia Grey novel is due next October.

I'm going to be one busy puppy.

144 days until the next deadline.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - Get 'er Done Time

Counting today, I have 4 days until the deadline on my manuscript for A BODY TO SPARE, my 10th Odelia Grey novel. 

The book is done and I'm doing my final edits. I should be excited and nearly celebratory, shouldn't it?

But nooooooooooooooooo.

You see, I've hit a bit of a glitch. 

Last night the voices in my head told me I need to do some major revisions in a few of the chapters. Those voices are correct. I do need to do some rewrites here and there. In fact, that's what I'll be doing today.  Fortunately, it's later in the book and the first 2/3 of the manuscript are tight and edited.  

The book would be fine without those re-writes. Really, it would. Everything is moving along nicely and the parts all fit together.

I'm at a junction. I can settle for the book as it is for the sake of time. The manuscript is okay and even good. BUT, am I shooting for just okay or for the best I can do?

Tip of the Day
Let your writing be ruled by your inner voice,
not the calendar.
Your book will be the better for it.

This does not mean to blow off your deadline to rewrite. My book is due to my publisher this week and I promised it would be done. And it will be! What will be sacrificed will be the plans I had for today.  Gone! Kaput! Instead, I'll be reworking those couple of chapters with glitches, then moving forward to finish the edits.

That's what a professional writer would do.
And there will be no whining about it.

So here I am. It's 8:30 on a beautiful Sunday morning. The cats have been fed and I'm armed with hot coffee. I'm prepared to show no mercy to those "nice" chapters for the next several hours. If I stay focused, I might get it all done today, maybe even in time for dinner and watching a little Sunday night TV.


Friday, October 17, 2014

A Blogging Fool


Recently I started a new blog called The Half-Assed Vegan to chronicle my experiences in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.  New topics will usually be posted on Friday or Saturday every week or so.

On the new blog, I plan on sharing food tips, information, recipes, missteps, and, hopefully, I can convince some noted vegan and vegetarian bloggers to drop by and chat.

Not to worry, I'll still be blogging on Babble 'n Blog about my writing and other topics that come to my addled mind. 

When I mentioned doing The Half-Assed Vegan Blog to some friends, most were very supportive. One made the following comment: "Like you don't have enough to do?"

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I know. 

In the next twelve months I have two novels and one novella due to two different publishers. But this is important to me and I think it will be useful to a lot of people like me who are sticking a toe into the plant-based eating pool.  Besides, it's only once in a while. I'll sandwich it in somewhere ... along as the sandwich is vegan.

You can find the new blog HERE.  Or just click on the link for it in the right hand column under my profile.  And please feel free to leave comments!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - Just Go To Bed!

I am just PAGES from finishing my current WIP. PAGES... I tell you!

For the past several nights I've been burning the midnight oil, in spite of needing to get up and go to work the next day. I have the entire rest of the book all laid out in my head. I just need to get it on the page.

The spirit's willing, but the flesh is weak.

Last night I was determined to get the words on the page, or at least finish the scene I was working on, but I was starting to nod off with my fingers still on the keyboard. I kid you not. This has happened before. In fact, it happens at the end of every book. I try to push forward even though my brain is fried.
Tip of the Day
When you're exhausted, go to bed.
Because tired writing is crap writing.

This is so true. If your brain is too tired to keep moving, pack it up and get some sleep because you're just going to have to heavily edit or even delete what you put on the page at this point. Coffee may help keep you awake, but it will not sharpen your brain.

Sleep is not underrated. I repeat, sleep is not underrated.

This is why I schedule most of my writing early in the morning when my gray matter is fresh and revived. Instead of burning the midnight oil, try going to bed and setting the alarm to get up earlier. It's amazing how much more I can get accomplished doing this.  The words that were playing hide and seek the night before will usually come out of hiding in the daylight.

That doesn't mean you should use sleep as an escape from your deadline. But when it's getting to be past  twelve at night and you're fighting to find those elusive words, consider that it might be time for a long power nap.

I have just over a week to get this book done, and barring death or a major disaster,  it will be done, including the editing. 

By the way, the 10th Odelia Grey novel is no longer titled Junk in the Trunk. As of yesterday, it became A BODY TO SPARE. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - So Close I Can Smell It

9 days. That's all the time I have left until my extended deadline is up. But I'm not worried. The book is almost done. So done I can almost smell the finish.  Seriously, as I write this I have maybe 20-25 pages left. Then I'll do one final deep edit and it's done! YAY!

What then? A vacation? A shopping excursion? Lose myself in a bubble bath and a bottle of champagne? All are good ideas, but right now the plan is to take the rest of October off from writing and clean out a closet that has been waiting for my attention for a very long time, get more exercise and catch up with all the shows on my DVR and, most importantly, catch up with friends - my very understanding friends. Okay, and maybe a full body massage.

But I digress, losing myself in the treats ahead instead of plowing on toward the finish. It's easy to do so close to the end. It's easy to lose focus and meander, thinking you have all the time in the world, that the final push will be easy-peasy. But it's not.

Tip of the Day
Keep your focus until the fat lady sings.

Those final chapters tie up the entire book. If they're sloppy and phoned in, either because you're exhausted, sick of the book, or ready to par-tay, it leaves your readers with a bad, unsatisfying taste.  Like biting into a fine chocolate and finding it's filled with okra instead of a rich ganache.

And even if that's not your intent, it can happen. Push toward the finish like a spent marathoner trying to beat the clock, not like you're on a Sunday drive after church. Writing a book is a marathon. It's not a sprint.

I'm keeping this blog short because, guess what, I'm near the finish and determined to get across that line!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - In the Zone

Not wanting to squander my editor's generous gift of a three week extension, I've been diligently marching toward the finish of JUNK IN THE TRUNK, which is due in 15 days.  And I'm close... very, very close to the finish. So close I can smell it like an vacation ocean breeze. In fact, I'll probably have the book done by this weekend and then take the last week of my extension to do a final tight edit.

This past weekend I locked myself up in my apartment and worked on the manuscript. I had planned on getting the car washed, a pedicure and buying some groceries. Instead, the car never moved and I didn't even take the chain lock off the front door to go out and empty trash. 

I was in THE ZONE.

All you writers out there know what I'm talking about.


That bittersweet place where writers go where nothing else exists or matters but the words in front of them. It's a perfect place where sentences flow like Niagara Falls, characters fall in line like children following the Pied Piper, and page after page of manuscript comes to life.
Tip of the Day:
You don't screw with THE ZONE.
It's magical and can disappear in an instant.

I had things to do this weekend. One thing was even important, but could be rescheduled, which it was. You see, I make it a rule never to mess with THE ZONE unless absolutely necessary. I've cancelled dates and sent my regrets at the last minute for parties when I've found myself in THE ZONE. 

THE ZONE trumps all.

At least most of the time. There are times when some commitments must take precedent, like book events on the calendar, medical emergencies, day jobs, and your significant other's birthday. But most can wait until the creative fog clears.  Loved ones need to be educated on THE ZONE if they aren't already. My close friends know and understand about it. My last boyfriend understood when I cancelled dates. The one before that, not so much. He didn't last long.

THE ZONE is also fickle. You'll never know when it will hit or how long it will last, and you can't conjure it up like Beetlejuice. It also doesn't confine itself to deadlines. THE ZONE can honor you with its presence at any time. I wrote almost all of THE CURSE OF THE HOLY PAIL under the influence of THE ZONE.  It was like stars shooting from my fingers every time I touched the keyboard.

I was still in THE ZONE when I had to go to work yesterday morning. And I was in THE ZONE for most of this morning.  I hope it comes back again tonight or tomorrow, even though the book is almost done. THE ZONE is like heroin or good chocolate. Once you get a taste for it, you'll long and whimper for it over and over. It turns a normal writer into a zombie lusting for brains.

Repeat after me: 


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - More Please

Today I went to my editor at Midnight Ink, gruel bowl in hand like Oliver Twist, and asked for more time to get my manuscript for Odelia #10 done.  Being the understanding person she is, she gave me a couple of more weeks.

In spite of my diligence, the book is not ready. It's close, but you can't turn in close.  Truth is, I could probably get it done by my deadline next week, but I know it would not be up to my usual standards. The manuscript will be done, but the kinks will not be ironed out.

My plan is to turn it in earlier than October 22nd, my new deadline date. You see, I have another book lined up behind it and that book is tapping its foot with impatience.  It's the 6th book in my Ghost of Granny Apples series and it has a working title of GHOST WRITER. It's due in mid-March. So, extension or not, I cannot lollygag.

Tip of the Day:
If you legitimately need an extension, ask for it,
but don't take advantage of it.
I often ask for extensions on initial manuscripts, usually to do a last minute polish. Only once do I recall needing a long or second extension and that was due to illness. Usually all I need is just a week or so more. When it comes to other deadlines, like turning in copy edits, I always hit the mark, sometimes even early.

Often new authors wonder why a publisher needs a manuscript 9-12 months ahead of a book's release date.  Never forget that publishers have deadlines on their end too. They have covers to work up and catalogues to prepare and PR campaigns to plan, all done nearly a year before the book is printed. Getting a book out has many moving parts and involves a lot of people, and if you, the author, don't hold up your end, it throws everything out of kilter for many.

An author once bragged to me that she was four months past her deadline on one of her books. She didn't seem concerned at all. The last time I spoke with her, her publisher had canned her. Get the drift.

There are authors who can drag out deadlines for a long time and survive. Those are usually the top sellers. Those authors at the very top of the food chain who bring in millions for their publishers, but even then I'll bet they don't do it often. Those of us who are mid-listers or those just starting out do not have that luxury.

It's also extremely unprofessional.

So I now have a reset on the time clock for JUNK IN THE TRUNK!


That doesn't mean I'll be goofing off this weekend.  I have some personal stuff that came up that needs my attention. After that, it will be all Odelia all the time, or damn close to it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - Make It Work Time

I have 7 days left until my deadline for Odelia book #10. 7 days. One week.

It was going well until this weekend. At the end of last week, while I was doing my usual U-turn edit of the book, a new character popped up on my radar. I could have ignored him but he was just too much fun and did enhance the story. So I went back and introduced him into the plot line. That used up a lot of time and now he's not cooperating. At least he's not cooperating with my story line for him.

So, do I force the issue and make him do what I want or do I let him do what he wants and see where it takes me.  Normally, I would choose the latter but with only one week left, it's a tough call. And I can't take time off from my day job to bury myself in my manuscript until it's done because we're super busy right now at the office.
What to do? What to do?

I know what I'm going to do. What I always do. I'm going to let the character take me where he wants, because that will be the better book.  And if I get near the end of the week and it's not looking good to finish on time, I will humbly ask for a short extension. I won't need much. The book is going well otherwise.

I worked all weekend on this manuscript and I'd love to work on it again all day today, but that's not an option. So I will continue to plow ahead mornings and evenings and lunchtimes on it.

It happens every damn time. 

And every time I say I will get the next book in ahead of schedule.

And every damn time I find myself on the ropes.

The thing is, as a writer, I don't think I'm alone on this.

Am I?

Tip of the Day:
Even in panic mode, keep your head.
A clear head will get you to the finish every time.
Panic mode will only give you hives and breeds self doubt. Trust me, I know. So even when you're pressed for time, take a deep breath. Do a few minutes of  yoga, go for a short walk, get on your exercise bike, or scrub a floor. I find a few minutes of something physical helps to clear my head and push back the panic of the looming deadline. 

  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Do not eat a bag of doughnuts
  • Do not watch the NCIS marathon on TV
  • Do not curl up into the fetal position

Put on your big girl panties (or big boy pants)
and deal with it.

That's what I'm doing. It's what I do every time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - Time To Do It Right

I don't know about other writers, but when I get to the point in a manuscript where I know the finish is just around the bend at the top of the next small hill, I stop and take a breather. That doesn't mean I stop working on my WIP, but that I change gears and go back to the beginning and start editing, even though I'm not done with the book.


Because I want to make sure the story flows well and the facts fit before I head towards the finish line and tie everything up. This is where I make sure red herrings are in place, facts are presented but not too obvious, the timeline is practical, and the characters are behaving as they should, so that when I get to the finish it all makes sense and is satisfying to my readers.

And that's where I am right now in JUNK IN THE TRUNK.

I do it for every book.

And this is not the final edit before I turn the manuscript in. This is just my usual U-turn to retrace my steps. When I've finished editing the book and return to the place where I stopped adding new material, I'll continue on to the finish, then go back and edit AGAIN before hitting the send button to my editor. This final edit is where I check for typos, grammatical errors and clumsy sentences.

Once, when I was talking to a writers' group, I mentioned this process and another writer quipped, "That's what editors are for."

No. No. No. A thousand times NO!
An editor is not your maid or your mother.
It's not their job to pick up after you.

Editors are professionals who buy your books, then work with you to make them the best they can be before they get into the hands of the public. Before submitting a manuscript, every author should make sure it's the best it can be. Sure, you'll miss a few typos, and there might be some rough patches in the story. A good editor will catch those and give you suggestions on how to smooth them out, but editors are not there to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Tip of the Day:
Turning in slipshod manuscripts can end your career.

That's right. I'm working on my 10th Odelia Grey novel (my 19th contracted novel overall), yet I take the same, if not BETTER, care to turn in the best manuscript I can. I will do the same with the next book, and the next. No matter which book, series or publisher, I offer up the best I can. It makes for less work for all of us during the publishing process. 

Consider this: with publishing as chaotic as it is and with so many authors vying for so few spots, unless you are raking in buckaroonies for your publisher, why would they keep a lazy, sloppy author?  If your manuscripts take a lot of handholding, you might find yourself without future contract offers.  It's really that simple. Publishers want professional writers ... period. So be as professional in your writing as you can be.

One of my favorite quotes.
And this is also true if you are self-published or independently published. You may not have to answer to a publisher or editor, but you do have to answer to your reading public.  I have read a lot of great self-published books. Books that are well written, well edited and produced professionally. Yet, I have read more self-published books that felt slapped together. Continue doing that and it won't be a publisher pulling the plug on your writing career, it will be your readers.

Another thing to consider is time.  I'm under contract to write two books a year for two different publishers.  People are always asking me how I manage to do this and hold down a full-time job. Well, by turning in a very clean and well structured manuscript the first time, there is no need to go back and forth with editors except for the usual editing process, which tends to be minor. There are no time-sucking rewrites if  you do your best the first time around.

Every writer self-edits differently. I tend to do rolling edits. I write about ten to twenty pages or a chapter or two, then edit them before moving forward. Then near the end of the book I do this U-turn editing routine. When I finish the book, it's well edited, except for the final check for typos. Other writers finish a book totally before going back to edit. They might do several full drafts before they turn it in, saving each draft as a different version. Some authors even hire free-lance editors to check their work.  All are valid methods because we all have the same goal - to produce the best manuscript possible before it's published. Try a couple of methods and find what works best for you.

I should finish this editing U-turn by the Friday morning, then I'll be pushing to the end and the final chapters. I can't wait!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - Fighting the Panic

Counting today and my deadline day, I have 15 days in which to complete my current manuscript and get it to my publisher.

Saturday night I attended my favorite annual party, the Gumbo Party sponsored by the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America and hosted at the home of writer Bill Fitzhugh (who makes the best gumbo and corn whatchamacallit in the world) and his lovely wife Kendall. As always, I had a blast and even with a deadline looming, I was one of the last to leave.  Not because I had no where to go, but because I knew this was my last hurrah until my deadline and I wanted to savor every moment with my friends. From here on out, almost every moment not spent at the day job will be spent on this manuscript.

Am I panicking? Not really. Not yet. But I am eying the panic button, wondering how it will feel under my fingers.

Tip of the Day:
Panic solves nothing.
Repeat after me: Panic solves nothing.
It's a time suck, so don't be sucked in by its charms.

Take several deep breaths. Do some yoga. Take a walk around the block, if you have to, but don't give in to the quagmire that is panic. It's totally counterproductive.

The book is doing fine but isn't quite as far along as I'd like it to be. Just yesterday it took a short detour that I didn't expect in the story line. Nothing major that will cause broad edits throughout, but one that did use a bit of valuable time to incorporate smoothly. This morning I woke up knowing some other changes that I need to make before I can push on. These are good changes. Changes that will add more texture to the plot and characters.  It would be easy to push those thoughts aside; my sensible self kicking my creative self out of the way in its single-minded focus on the deadline straight ahead. But I won't do it. I'll give those new ideas the respect they deserve.

Second Tip of the Day:
Never sacrifice creativity and
good writing to the deadline altar.

Near the end you'll be tempted to ignore your writer's intuition when it's trying to tell you about revisions that will enhance the story. You'll try to convince yourself they aren't needed and you don't have time to incorporate them, even though you know it will make a better book. Listen to your gut and add them.

Then again, make sure they are quality additions and not ideas stemming from panic rising like acid from last night's pizza. Take a moment to think about those new ideas. Do they really make the story better? Or are you worried you've been working on a piece of shit and these changes are what you need to make your manuscript less crappy.

Really think about it. Don't bulldoze ahead with those new and time sucking ideas until you're sure. Have a cup of coffee and think it through. A few minutes of contemplation can prevent you from ruining your manuscript or can give you confidence that the changes are worthy of a short detour of time.

I often find that the closer I get to a deadline, the less in love I am with the book I'm working on. I'm tired of it. I'm tired... period. I want it over with as soon as possible and these new ideas are just making the end seem like a mirage I'll never realize. That's when I pull myself together, take a deep breath and remember that this is the date I brought to the dance and the date I'm taking home. It was a great idea when I started and it's still a great idea. It just might need a short pit stop to make it better.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - Geographically Undesirable

Southern California is in the grip of a major heat wave right now and I do not have AC in my apartment. Which is okay about 357 days of the year. Right now it's insufferable, in spite of the heroic efforts of every fan I own. My cats are not happy. At least I get to go to work in an air conditioned office Monday through Friday. I wish I could pack them up and bring them with me.

But what about the rest of the time?  What about the time I need to spend working on my current manuscript which is due in 20 days? A deadline does not care if you are sweltering and your sweaty fingers are slipping off the keyboard.

What happens is that I power through it even if I'm melting at the keyboard and sweat is pouring off me like I've just run a couple of miles.

I know a lot of writers who write in libraries, coffee shops and cafes. And several friends have suggested I do the same during high heat days. The thing is, I don't do well writing in public. I can't concentrate and, frankly, I find it hard to believe most writers can be really productive in such environments.  There are just too many distractions.

A writer friend once asked me how I managed to write so many books in such a short time when she could barely get one done every 12-18 months. She then went on to explain how she writes in her local coffee shop and has to discipline herself not to be distracted by the other people in the establishment.

Well, duh!

That's not true of all writers. I also know a writer or two have produced a lot of work in public places. But I believe that's rare. I'll bet if you polled writers who write in public places with a lot of traffic, you'll find them amongst the least productive. Sometimes I think people like to play the part of a writer more than the writing itself.

Look at me, I'm a writer!

Tip of the Day:
Don't sabotage yourself by writing in locations
that aren't conducive to productivity.
No matter how good the coffee or how cool it seems.

I don't like writing in public, but will do it when pressed. I've written in hotel rooms, on planes, in airports, on beaches, at lakes, even on a cruise ship. Except for airports and planes, most of the places I write while away from home are quiet and semi-private. Even on the cruise ship, I found a corner of a nearly empty bar and wrote undisturbed for a couple of hours.

Last month I wrote at a picnic table while looking out over a lake. This past weekend I wrote at the dining table at a friend's home in the mountains. In both places I was productive and found my surroundings soothing and conducive to concentration. But that said, the bottom line is I am at my most productive while sitting at my desk at home, even if there's no AC and the cats are bothering me for attention. That's were I can get comfortable (i.e., yoga pants/shorts and no bra) and get my mojo on.

Sometimes a change of venue helps jar the creative juices,
just so long as it doesn't prevent you from
getting those words on the page.

If you're having an issue with productivity, re-evaluate your writing environment. You don't need to have absolute quiet or banish the family to a locked room in the basement. Everyone is different. You just need what works for you and sometimes it takes time to figure out what that is.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - Go Ninja On It!

I've made no secret that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE watching American Ninja Warrior. Those men and women attack those obstacles like their lives depend on it. Like a swarm of alligators and a band of flying monkeys are both chasing them.

Yes, that's the tip for today.
Tip of the Day:
Attack your WIP and your deadline
like your life depends on it.

Don't be a wimp and whine about your upcoming deadline and how you're not going to meet it and how you're missing out on everything and how you make no money writing and how your publisher, readers, family, reviewers don't appreciate you and how hard you work.

No one wants to hear that shit and it only takes valuable time away from your manuscript and destroys your confidence. 

I don't know about you folks, but I can't write when my head is up my ass.

Instead, focus on that deadline and your current manuscript with all the determination of tiny Kacy Catanzaro muscling her way to become the first woman to qualify for the finals on American Ninja Warrior.  And if you don't know what I'm talking about, watch this video that I posted on a previous blog post.

See that face. See that I refuse to give up mind set? See that success? That's the face of a Ninja Warrior. That's the face you should have while muscling your way towards a deadline.

Then again ... there are times you feel like a Ninja wimp.

I'm having one of those times right now. I didn't sleep well last night and I'm paying for it today.

My personal favorite whines that are looping through my head right now:

I'm old
I'm too tired
I want to go back to bed
I got nothing
I'm washed up

I'm staring at my WIP and my head is telling me the clock is ticking, which only adds to the pressure I feel.  I don't mean I have writer's block. I know exactly what's going on the page and it stands ready to gush forth like a broken water main. I just can't seem to make myself punch the keys to put it down on the page.  My mind is wandering and my determination and focus is following it like an abandoned puppy following a kid down the street. It happens to all of us.

Second Tip of the Day:
When you become a loss soul
wandering the writing woods,
don't sit down consigned to die.
Pick your sorry ass up
and fight your way out.

Okay, first throw yourself a pity party. A small one about the length of time it takes a Keurig coffee maker to brew a cup of coffee. Then kick yourself in the ass and get back to it.

I'm old. I'm experienced.
I'm too tired. Then get your ass to bed earlier.
I want to go back to bed. Not an option.
I got nothing. Bullshit, you have more ideas than M&Ms has candy.
I'm washed up. No, you just need a shower and a cup of coffee and you'll feel better.

Take a few hours or even A day to get your head screwed back on, but no more. The longer you dwell on negatives, the stronger they get and the more they beat you down. And that, like going back to bed right now, is not an option.

What would Kacy do?

I've got 26 days to make this book work. And I will do it!

Taking a deep breath.

Putting fingers to the keyboard.

At least I will right after I get that cup of coffee.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - All Work And No Play Makes Sue Ann Cranky

As I write this post I'm down to 29 days before my deadline on JUNK IN THE TRUNK, the 10th Odelia Grey novel.

It's been a great weekend, even if Friday ended with me losing a crown and getting hardly any writing done (not because of the crown, but because of other stuff that cropped up). As I said in my last post, shit happens and you'd better be prepared. I have a dental appointment on Monday and in the meantime I'm trying to make up lost time on the manuscript.

Tip of the Day:
Even on deadline, make time for some fun.
It will help your writing. Trust me.

Even on a crushing deadline I make sure I schedule in fun time (aside from exercise which I don't consider fun). On deadline it's difficult to be spontaneous, but I make sure I get out with friends at least once every other weekend.  In September I have something fun going on every single weekend in spite of being on deadline, but I usually only schedule one day for the fun and usually not all of that day.

Saturday I had planned on meeting my friends Heide and Mark for brunch at the Spitfire Grill in Santa Monica, a favorite place. After brunch Heide and I were heading to an art show at the Brentwood Art Center, then on to do some needed shopping. I had planned on being home in the late afternoon to get back to my writing, but, as I've said before, shit happens. This time it was good shit.

Do you know how much time one can spend in Bed, Bath and Beyond? And buy so little? I came home with a couple of cartons of Keurig coffee pods and Heide bought a new fan. Really. That's it.

By the time we'd finished up everything it was almost dinner time so we stopped off at Billingsley's, another favorite place which was close by, for a bite to eat. BTW, it was one of the few meals at which I exercised my right to be a Half-Assed Vegan and I ordered prime rib.

I didn't make it home until 8:30 and I was tired, so I read a bit and went to bed. So much for getting in several hours of writing.

As Scarlett O'Hara said: After all... tomorrow is another day. Just don't quote that to yourself too often.

Several years ago I worked relentlessly on my books in every waking moment not taken up by my day job. The result was horrible depression, a feeling of having lost control of my life, anger and even a growing dislike for writing in general.  I hardly ever left my apartment and blew off invitations from friends regularly.

I wrote ALL THE TIME. Period.

After taking a good look at my crumbling psyche, I decided to stop beating myself up and take back my personal life. In spite of still being under contract to write 2 novels a year and working a day job, I started making time to go to plays and concerts. I met friends and went to parties and took short trips. I stopped and smelled the proverbial roses. And do you know what happened? I still made my deadlines. There were some much needed extensions here and there, but I hit them and my work did not suffer. In fact, I think the books written after I unchained myself from self-imposed slavery were better paced and needed a lot less editing.

Believe it or not, taking a day out to relax and enjoy yourself like this can, like exercise, clear the writing cobwebs and loosen up the words you're trying to get on the page. It's like pouring a bottle of Drano into your brain.
As I promised myself, I spent most of today writing. I didn't get as much done as I had hoped, but made some good solid progress that will need little editing. I also made myself a nice dinner and watched some TV and took time to sit on the patio and finish up a book I was reading. As soon as I post this blog, I'm planning on getting in another 45 minutes of writing.

If you're banging your head against a wall day
after day, all you're going to get is a headache, and you can't write with a massive headache. 
Step away from the wall and take a deep breath.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - 32 Days

Sometimes shit happens.

Literally and figuratively. 

This morning I got up knowing my writing time would be short because I had to get to the office a couple of hours early to work on a big project. I still figured I could squeeze in 30 minutes or so of writing.


Before my feet even hit the carpet I noticed the first piece of cat poop. It was next to the wall closest to the bed. Then I noticed two more about a foot away. Then a few more. Little dried brown balls that led me from the bed through the bedroom to the dressing area where I keep the cat box.  It looked like one of my cats needed to go bad and couldn't hold it until reaching the box. And I'm pretty sure I know which one it was.

So that was my morning. On a time crunch to begin with, I now had to pick up cat poop and clean the dirtied areas of the carpet.

I didn't even have time for my coffee!

Poop and projects had gotten in the way of my writing routine just 32 days out from a deadline.  And this was a pretty minor hiccup.

Tip of the Day:
Never assume when you are ahead of schedule
that you will stay ahead of schedule.
Shit happens.  It's called life.

Here are just a few things that can stand in the way of a writer meeting his or her deadline:
  • Illness - either yours or a family member's
  • Computer meltdown (Back your WIP up, people. Everyday!)
  • Your meltdown (trust me, it happens)
  • Unexpected company
  • An accident - try writing with broken bones or a concussion
  • Unusually long hours at the day job
  • A house fire or broken plumping
  • An earthquake, hurricane, tornado
  • Death
Get my drift?

A few years ago I had to work almost an entire week of 12-14 hour days at my day job just weeks before a book deadline. I almost ended up in the loony bin. Another time I had to have unexpected surgery shortly before a deadline.

Always write like alligators are nipping at your butt, not like you're on a leisurely cruise. Even when your deadline seems far away, trust me, it's not. All it would take is one bump in the road to eat up valuable time and turn you into road kill.

Most publishers will give you extensions. Thankfully, I've gotten many over the years. But they can only push it so far. Publishers have catalogues that have to go out and sales people who need to be informed and PR to line up. The author is not the only moving part of a manuscript and a lot of people depend on that book getting turned in within a reasonable amount of time.

Disasters aside, also don't be cavalier about your deadlines. The publishing world does not revolve around you and an author who doesn't take deadlines seriously may soon find themselves without a publisher.

Hopefully, in the next 32 days all I'll have to contend with is a little cat poop.  I wonder if I could get an extension with that excuse?

Oh, and work. I have to go in early again tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Diary of a Deadline - 33 Days

I did not sleep well last night. It's hotter than hell in my apartment and I don't have AC, just some mega fans. I woke up with a headache just after 5 and by 6 was writing armed with a mug of coffee and some Advil. No time to be wussy, I have a deadline to meet in 33 days.

I belong to a private healthy eating and exercise group on Facebook and our September challenge is to walk, bike, run or crawl 50 miles this month. No big deal. That breaks down to 1.666 miles a day. Today is the 3rd day of the month and I'm just getting started, so I'm a little behind but I'll catch up. I'm actually looking to hit at least 75 miles this month. I wear a Fit Bit One most days anyway, so now I'll make sure I get in enough steps to meet my mileage for the month and then some. It's easy to forget but the challenge will help me remember.

But you have a deadline to hit. This is no time to focus on exercise.

Oh yes it is!

Tip of the Day:
Make sure you get some exercise almost every day
while you are working on a tight deadline.

I hate exercise. There, I said it.  But I make it a point to get up from the computer at least once every 60-90 minutes, even at the office. It's not healthy for anyone to sit for hours in front of a computer. It's bad for your circulation, your focus, your eyes. Your attitude. It's bad for everything! Even for your WIP.

A little movement can greatly improve your focus and clarity, even if you take a break to clean your bathroom. On weekends, I often alternate between writing and household chores. 15-20 minutes with a sponge or vacuum can do wonders for clearing out the mental cobwebs or getting over blocks in your story. So can strapping on some sneakers and taking a walk or getting on an exercise bike or doing a yoga video.  One of my favorite breaks during a long writing session is a short stretching video set to snappy music. It not only perks me up but also loosens the tight muscles in my neck, arms and shoulders. Periodically roll and stretch those muscles. Keep them loose or you'll be whimpering in pain by the time you send in that manuscript.

It's also easy when you're on deadline to slip into the habit of eating lots of take out and junk food. Try not to do it. A logy body is a logy mind. Sure all that sugar will hype you up, but it will also bring you crashing down in a lifeless, brainless heap. And heavy food can make you sleepy. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. Eat healthy. Drink lots of water. And coffee. Gotta have coffee. You're an engine chugging up a steep hill, fuel yourself properly.

It's 9:30 pm. Usually I'm watching TV about now, but instead I'm plugging away at my WIP.  I have to be to work earlier than usual tomorrow and won't get in my usual writing time. But that's another topic for another post.