Time is on My Side, Yes it Is by Cher’ley

This Blog  by Cher’ley Grogg

Q: What did the second hand say to the hour hand as it passed by?
A:  See you again in a minute.

Q: What do you call a story that one clock tells to another?
A: Second-hand information.

Time is on My Side, Yes it Is:

Time is on my side, yes it is.
Time is on my side, yes it is.
Now you all were saying that you want to be free
But you’ll come runnin’ back (I said you would baby),…

Time is on my side. Or is it? Is time on my side or your side, while on the truck, it seems that I am constantly fighting against time. It’s time to drive (11 hours), then it’s time to sleep (5-8 hours), then it’s time to eat (2 hours).  That’s 21 hours, so I have 3 hours to shower, clean the truck, relax, exercise, dance, or create.  Time is not on my side.

Related imageWhen I’m at home I have a little more time to do what I want, but that is usually going to my various classes or clubs, and swimming. I am still sorting out my collections or hoardings that we talked about in a previous blog. Also, I have family and friends there that I really must visit with before heading back to work.

 

My shortest book, Four Moons and Fair Maidens still took a lot of timeFour Moons and Fair Maidens to get the rhythm just right. Westerns more than other books have a rhythm of their own, and it is historical so that means a lot of research.  All the facts have to be exact because if they are not someone will notice.

Research, the fun and time-consuming part of the book. Time is on my Side, yes it is—right!                      Four Moons and Fair Ladies

***How is your time?*** And speaking of time, 2 anthologies that are listed below are getting ready to go out of print so if you’d like to have a copy now is the time to get them. Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico–Pawprints on my Heart.  

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. Her newest book is an Advanced Coloring Book and she has one that is freshly published with 11 other authors.

Stamp Out Murder”.
 The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren
The JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 

All About the Girls 5(3)

Four Moons and Fair Ladies Four Moons and Fair Maidens

Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heartlink coming soon

Wonders of Water      Advanced Coloring Book

And please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell
Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE
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The Post that Almost Wasn’t

Sarah M. Chenby Sarah M. Chen

I was this close to not posting anything today. Hence, the title of this post. I figured OK, it’s 9/11. I should write something thoughtful, profound, and emotionally moving. But the thought of it was just too daunting. I’m stressed as it is and now I’ve just added to it by putting pressure on myself. Something I’ve been doing a lot of lately.

So I thought okay, I just can’t do it. Then brainstorm—that’s it! My post is about how I have no time to write a post.

We’re all busy with our lives and trying to get stuff done with not enough time in the day. But when writer conferences loom on the horizon, suddenly the stuff we need to get done doubles.

I shouldn’t complain. It’s not like I’m Glen Erik Hamilton, the author of the excellent Van Shaw series. He wrote a recent blog post about trying to meet his insane deadline (spoiler alert: he did it!). I’m not under the wire to finish Book Three (or any book) in seven months. I wish.

But that doesn’t make me any less stressed. I should have started things much earlier but I’m the queen of procrastination. Plus I had family time and vacation time planned. It was my dad’s semi-annual visit and birthday.

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Happy birthday, Dad!

Then I went to Seattle and Vancouver to see all my cousins.

20160814_193449After that reality hit. Vacation time was over and it was almost September. I knew there was an early September deadline for a short story I wanted to write. Once I finished that in the nick of time, I started the next. Thankfully, this deadline isn’t until October but really, that’s not so far away. Then there was preparation for a talk that Sybil Johnson and I had with a book club at the Wiseburn Library. What a blast! These ladies were so enthusiastic, and I’ve never sold so many books at a library before.

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Sybil Johnson and I at the Wiseburn Library on 9.8.16 with librarian Allison Ortiz

So now I’ve finally been able to come up for air only to discover that Bouchercon is only 3 days away. Argh! I have to prepare for my reading at Noir at the Bar After Dark. I have to look over my questions for the panel I’m on. I have another reading at a time “when we can find the time.” I have a list of people I want to see and authors I’m dying to meet (stalk) and I haven’t even gotten around to looking at what panels are “must-sees.” Let’s not even get into what I’m going to pack. New Orleans is raining and hot and humid right now. Hotels are always freezing and air conditioned. Apparently, I’m just going to pack my entire wardrobe.

I get overwhelmed at these big conferences and since I’m already overwhelmed without leaving my house, that’s not a good sign. I just have to remember to take a breath and if I need a time-out while I’m there, I can always hide in my room. Or Commander’s Palace. 20150130_121508Or a cemetery.

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New Orleans January 2015 – in front of the tomb that inspired Anne Rice to write INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE

Busy is good and I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. I just have to keep reminding myself of this. I also have to remind myself that even though I stress, I always manage to get it done. And if I don’t, who cares? It’s not the end of the world. People understand. Things can be rescheduled.

And look at that, I’m done with my post! Excuse me while I bask in this momentary feeling of accomplishment.

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Sarah M. Chen juggles several jobs including indie bookseller, transcriber, and insurance adjuster. Her crime fiction short stories have appeared in Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory, Betty Fedora, Out of the Gutter, and Dead Guns Press, among others. Cleaning Up Finn is her first book available now with All Due Respect Books. www.sarahmchen.com

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Time Management and Planning

CindyCarrollETwo months ago I wrote about fiscal planning for 2016. It’s important to know what you have in mind for your business in advance so you can map out the work that needs to be done. Today’s topic is time management because boy do I need it. Having a business plan is only part of the work. I need to manage my time for the rest of this year and into next year so I can accomplish everything I want to accomplish. I knew this of course on some level but didn’t do much so far with the actual management part when it came to my time.

Copyright Bigstock - Ivelin Radkov
Copyright Bigstock – Ivelin Radkov

Juggling a day job, running a writing group, running a book club, having essentially two part time jobs with the writing and ghost writing (I’ll talk about that later) not to mention having time to spend with family doesn’t leave a lot in the way of free time. I knew I needed a better time management plan when I realized I missed a guest post deadline earlier this month. Two weeks ago I was so focused on launching a ghostwriting/plotting/beta reading business because I needed money fast that I completely forgot that back in March I had booked a spot on someone’s blog for November 2.  I remembered the last week of October and put it aside thinking I would do it the weekend before it was due. Then I decided to start offering author services and totally forgot the guest post.

Copyright Bigstock
Copyright Bigstock – i9370

Way back in the day I had a day planner. It was one of those thick paperback sized binders where you list everything you need to do in your day. I got it through work and they even offered a day class on how to use the planner properly to best effect. You could buy refills every year at your favourite business supply store. I have no idea where that planner is now. Then there are the lists. I frequently make lists of things I need to do each week but I don’t make them every week. At work I use Outlook. All of my meetings and tasks are listed in there and reminders get sent to me.

None of the reminders do any good unless you actually look at them every day. Which I haven’t been doing.  I want to go into the new year on top of things. Meeting deadlines for my clients and for myself. So I am on the hunt for a time management system that can keep me on track. Right now it will be Google Calendar. But if anyone has any other suggestions for something that is easy to use, that I can use from my iPhone and that will send me reminders I’d love for you to share them!

Do you use a time management system? Does it work for you?

Get free reads, new release pricing, members only contests, access to Campus (a behind the scenes website for my Standpoint Trilogy and still under construction) – sign up for my newsletter: http://bitly.com/CPCMailList

Check out my website: http://www.cindycarroll.com
Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CindyPCarroll
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ReflectionsFinal2A road trip without a plan sounded like a good idea when Lena and her friends hit the road. After hours of driving in the heat in a cramped car they’re all ready for something to eat and a good night’s rest.

Reflections Inn looks perfect for the group of friends. A little run down, it hides a supernatural horror. A curse that replaces people with their repressed alter egos forces the friends to fight for their lives. Duplicates who lack restraint, crave gratification emerge from the mirrors. Too late they realize they didn’t know each other as well as they thought.

One by one, Lena’s friends learn the truth about their repressed emotions, their suppressed violent urges.

What doesn’t kill them can only make them stronger.

Buy on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1avH00L
Buy on Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/19Ti2ux
Buy on Kobo: http://bit.ly/13CBz9M
Buy on Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/15oFc4a

CU, C-ME, C3 by Cher’ley

That’s what I do at Conferences–CU and other people. I arrived on Friday before noon (in case they needed extra help).

This Blog by Cher’ley Grogg

After years of following and becoming online friends (way before Facebook) with Austin Camacho, I finally met him and hisAustin and Denise lovely wife Denise. The C3 conference was their idea and it was designed for readers and writers to meet and exchange ideas, and to enjoy each other’s company in an informal atmosphere. Austin was a member of our blog group for a while, but he didn’t have the time to keep up with it. He has remained a friend of mine and of Writing Wranglers and Warriors and often shares the blog. Maybe he will join us again some day.

IJeffrey Deavers met Jeffery Deaver (another writer who greatly influenced me) and he was interested in my stories about life on the truck (Life in the Fast Lane). He is an international best seller. He wrote “The Bone Collector” among many others. He’s been writing for 30 years.

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He gave five points for new writers to follow:

  1.  Know your audience and give them what they want.
  2.  Write in the genre that you read because you’ve already learned a lot about it.
  3.   Take the authors you admire and who have written successful books in your opinion and you tear those books apart. Outline them. Learn what they did and when they did it.
  4.  You need to outline your books. You need to structure you books. It doesn’t have to be as extensive as I do, but you need to structure the books so you know where it’s going to go.
  5. Finally, remember that a rejection is a speed bump. It’s not a brick wall. And just keep at it.

I’ve already shared ideas from the two panels I was on. “Writing Sex in Novels” and “Where Do Ideas Come From?”

They also talked my husband, Del into being on a panel.

“What it’s like to Live with a Professional Liar”.

I think he enjoyed it too much.

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The Saturday luncheon featured bestselling author Brian Keene whose 2003 debut novel The Rising–considered one of the best-selling zombie novels of all-time.–and translated into over a dozen languages. It inspired the works of other authors and filmmakers, and has become a cultural touchstone for an entire generation of horror fans. His book the Ghoul was made into a TV movie and debuted on the Chiller Network in April 2012.

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John Gilstrap was also there and he is also a best seller. I was surrounded by famous people who acted just like the rest of John Gilstrapus. We had a good time and really got to know each of them, as well as many fans and other authors. There were people there from the very first stages of writing to the very prolific and profitable stages. The one thing you heard in each class was laughter and you know what my favorite thing to do is. LOL.

An Interview with John Gilstrap, Author of Scott Free Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been fascinated by survival stories. There’s something very compelling about the notion of one person stranded in the wilderness, pitted against impossible odds, somehow triumphing over it all.

John was fascinating and I’ll be reading his books soon, after I finish the more famous, in my eyes, books by our own Writing Wranglers and Warriors.

At one of the conference sessions, I was in the same group with Brian Keene, sitting by John Gilstrap, listening to Jeffery Deaver, who was on a panel being monitored by Austin Camacho.

It was almost as much fun as sitting (Quietly-Grinning here), listening to Del telling secrets about me.

So if you get a chance to go to a conference-GO! I have been to several and I’ve never been disappointed. If you get a chance to go to C3-definately go.

***How about you, what is your conference experience?***

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. 

Stamp Out Murder”.

The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren.

The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time   and the B&W Edition of The Journey BackThe JourneyBack 3

Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell

Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE

Are You A Book Promotions Expert?

propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Book promotion is a full-time job.  Just ask any Indie author and you’ll get an earful.  Not only are we responsible for the story, cover, editing, formatting and whatever else needs to be done, we are also responsible to get the word out about the book once it’s finished.  All of these tasks involve enough work to bring a normal person to his or her knees.  Not so the Indie Author.  He/she gallantly rises to the occasion, getting a little less sleep every night and fitting short blocks of time into an already crammed full daily schedule to tell the world about his/her creation.  After about a year of this most of us step back and sigh.  It never seems to let up.

Writing is no longer the same it was fifty years ago.  We authors may choose to go the traditional route and seek out an agent and publisher, but are aghast when we are told that we will also need to promote our work.  “Isn’t that what the publisher does?” one of my friends asked recently.  The answer is no.  You and you alone are the best person to promote your writing.  After all, if it’s left to someone else the facts may be a little bit skewed, right?  Who else will know the ins and outs of your writing as well as you do?  No one else knows the author as well, either.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The solution?  Start slow.  Build up contacts in more than one way.  Facebook and Twitter are great places to connect with readers and other authors.  Be present by posting daily and including quotes or things to be shared.  Let the readers know you’re a real person, not a pre-scheduled post.

Join groups and get to know the other members.  For instance, our Writing Wranglers and Warriors group is comprised of authors who seek to help each other by using their social media to promote each other.  Think it’s a unique concept?  There are many other groups on Facebook based on the same thing.  It just so happens that our group is focused on sharing and interacting.

Do you have an e-mail list?  A blog?  These are both great ways to reach readers and keep them current.

I recently read a post on WG2E about other promotional ideas.  One of them was to purchase magnetic signs for your car doors.  The author who wrote the post said she hopes to reach more people as they stop her and ask questions.  Bears some thought, doesn’t it?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Guest blogging is another way to reach people.  Don’t forget that writers are readers too.  Many times I have purchased a Kindle book at the end of a post I really enjoyed.  I figure if I enjoy the writer’s post there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy his or her book.  Rarely have I been disappointed.

Do you ever get the occasion to speak locally?  A local women’s breakfast,speaker conference, library, school or anywhere your subject will fit in would be the perfect place for you, the author to speak about your craft.  You will then have time to “plug” your own writing.

How about radio and television?  Have you ever asked?  I have had occasion to do radio spots often for my songwriting, as well as being a feature on the local news several times.  I have never sought out these opportunities; rather they have come to me.  The reason?  I am involved in the community and the venue I am playing lends itself well to advertising to the local population.  I have not as yet tried this for my books, but it is on my to do list for the summer.  I have a plan in place to contact local libraries (perhaps to be part of their summer reading program).  This would give me the opportunity to tell people about my books and make a few free or discounted copies available.

Sometimes brainstorming opens up new avenues.  We live in the Midwest, in an area that has parades throughout the summer.  My husband and I attend them all.  He turned to me at one point and said “We need to get pens or something with your book on them and ride in the parade and throw them out to the crowd.”  Hmmm, worth thinking about, right?parade

How about contacting local bookstores?  Have you ever done it?  I have seen books in hair salons, restaurants, gift shops and many other places you wouldn’t expect them to be.  You don’t know if you don’t ask.

Just for the record, promotion is the thing I dislike the most about being an author.  I hate asking people to read my books.  When they ask me though, I can talk nonstop about the subject and generally they wind up buying a book or two.  I hand out lots of cards (my husband is actually the pro at this) and make lots of new friends.  While I’m not an introvert, I hate putting people on the spot.  But yesterday we were car shopping and my husband told the saleswoman I was an author.  Her eyes got big and she said “no way!”  Before I knew it she had salebrought.over the sales manager and administrative assistant to introduce me (because I’m a “real” author).  It was funny, but also gave me a chance to talk about my work and hand out more cards.  Since I have a promotion coming up this month I directed them to the days the book will be discounted

What do you do for promotion?  Is it your favorite part of being an author or you least favorite?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Books by L.Leander:

Do You Take Care of Your Greatest Asset?

This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction propic11_1

I have a close friend who does an excellent job of taking care of herself.  She goes in at least once a week for a massage; manicures and pedicures are a normal routine for her, and she keeps her hair cut, styled and colored.  I’ve often thought, “I don’t have time to do that,” but is that really a cop-out?  While she is smiling and calm most days and has several ways to cope with stress, I find myself running around like a screaming banshee trying to do everything at once.  What is the difference, you ask?

My friend understands the value of routine maintenance.  She knows that by takingPedi time for herself and doing things that make her feel good she will be a better writer and person.  She doesn’t wait until she has hangnails and her heels are cracked before she seeks out a Pedi/Mani.  She doesn’t wait until she has dark roots before she visits her hairstylist.  Massages have become an important part of her daily life, not only for the relaxation they give, but the lasting effects on her body.  My friend is a stress-free, kind-hearted, hard-working person who gives to everyone.

Maybe we could all learn a few things from my friend.  While we might not all benefit manifrom or even want all the services she opts for, there are other things that may be just right for us.  Are you a gardener? Love the outdoors?  Set aside some time for yourself to play in the dirt.  Do you love to read but never find the time?  Schedule time on your calendar for reading and stick to it.  Do you love to shop, sew, cook, do woodworking – you get the drift.  If it’s relaxing to you then it’s something you should weave into your week.  Not only will it make you more rounded as a person but more committed as a writer.

Anything that relaxes you and makes you feel complete is definitely something you should pursue.  Even though writers lead very busy lives there are always blocks of wasted time to be found.  By slowing down and enjoying life more we are more stress-free and become better thinkers, thus, better writers.  Something to think about isn’t it?massage

What is your favorite pastime?  Do you make time for yourself?  If you had lots of money how would you pamper yourself?  I’d love to know what you think!

Books by L.Leander:

Oh, no! It’s those… Rs…again

This post is by Nancy Jardine

For CC

You’ll soon get the message that I’m a bit preoccupied just now, and because of that I’m posting about an old topic.

A very strange saying was drilled into me at school and it has never left me. “Excel in the 3 Rs – Reading, (w)Riting, and (a)Rithmetic- and you’ll never go wrong.” All of that’s very basic, for sure, even if extremely contrived, but I now have another set of  Rs that have been plaguing me recently. My Rs (no laughing please…) are Read, Research, Record and (w)Rite. Just like any other author. Sneak in a little (a)Rithmetic too, since all my historical dates have been a major pain in the butt!! 

Read: I’ve been doing a huge amount of reading for months but very little of that has been reading fiction for pleasure. Most of it has been purposeful fact collecting…and I’ve found out heaps. Far too much, of course, and I can’t use it all in my current novel. But I’ve used a lot of it on blogs… so that good! And some of it might be good for future writing- even better! I’m a sad person, really, because an extra new fact can send me into rapturous smiles- especially something I didn’t really understand before about the historical period, or an explanation that makes a whole lot of sense of other information. I just plain love doing research!

 Research: Therein lies the culprit!

‘Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.’ Wernher von Braun (father of Rocket Science, space architect, aerospace engineer) http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/wernhervon107615.html

 I’m going to frame that quote and put it above my desk because that seems to be exactly what I’ve been like recently.

‘I think the worst and most insidious procrastination for me is research. I will be looking for some bit of fact or figure to include in the novel, and before I know, I’ve wasted an entire morning delving into that subject matter without a word written.’ James Rollin (action adventure/ fantasy novelist) http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jamesrolli461933.html

9641619_s girl with booksOops! That seems to fit me so well, too. Could that explain why my latest historical Celtic/ Roman Britain novel is still at the ‘almost’  finished stage even though it’s sitting at 120 thousand words? And also why my hard disc is being used up at an amazing rate with the storage of potentially useful images?

(image from http://www.123rf.com)

‘I like reading history, and actually most authors enjoy the research part because it is, after all, easier than writing.’  Ken Follet  (author of Pillars of the Earth and other works) http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/kenfollet507902.html

Well, that’s it in a nutshell! Isn’t it funny how research is easier than writing? I started off with a solid researching phase because I just don’t carry around a lot of Roman Britain of AD 70s and 80s facts in my head. I made my outline plan which involved some detailed paying attention to dates since I’m trying to be as historically accurate as I can. My plan covered three printed pages (font size 12 ). It looked fantastic so I delved in to get that (w)Rite phase going. But guess what happened pretty quickly? I did some more research because some things didn’t fit the time line very well. Why was that since I’d been quite careful and thorough in creating my plan? I tweaked and rewrote. Rewrote again, but something still didn’t match up about the historical timescale .

Well, hey! I said to myself I’m writing a novel I can make up what I want, so I did.

6061050_s frustrated writer

But you know history is such a marvellous concept that it’s being rewritten as I write. You may have heard of all the lovely discoveries – like the body of an English king having been excavated from under a car park – all of which changes the playing field of what was thought to be historically accurate.

History was definitely playing tricks on me because recent archaeological evidence over the past couple of years has been shifting the dates of Roman occupation of northern Britain just a little bit.

Instead of relying mainly on the writings of Tacitus, a ‘biased’ Roman historian who lived after the time of AD 84, and on the writings of more recent historians (mainly 1970s and 1980s) whose ‘concept’ of history I was using, we can now add findings from new archaeological techniques. The ‘odd and not quite right’ years in my story now match up much better and are much more like what my original time line was like. I went from the image above to a hugh beaming smile! So, how did I find out about these very recent changes?

More thorough research, of course.  But now to some questionable bits…

Record: I tried to be organised when I started the researching for my latest novel. Here are some strategies I’ve used which should have been helpful…

Mark textbooks – My main textbooks (big fat historical tomes) have multiple post-it slips to mark relevant pages. (Scribbled on to identify topics/ dates etc which I’ve had to refer back to often as I’ve written the book )  

Save – Research from internet sources is saved a dedicated folder/ files. (Some of the best research has been printed out for ease of use and sits in a big bulldog clip at the side of my keyboard.)

Print Historical maps have been printed (also at the ready in a clip and saved on file.)

Draw– My time-lines are recorded in pencils on large sheets of paper.

Create and save as I’ve written the novel A file has been created for: Latin terms; useful images; characters in the novel along with the meaning of their names where appropriate; place names that I’ve used; a list of the structure of the Roman Army ( to keep me accurate); Celtic terms and names.

Backup: all files are backed-up on a separate extra hard disc (to avoid loss of data)

Use: Information from my recent April A to Z challenge posts has been used in my story where the research has overlapped.

Brilliant and fantastic for future projects!

Those strategies seemed good but I’ve now got a dog’s breakfast of sheets and slips of paper, little notes and crumpled maps, in my bulldog clips. My dedicated hard disc ‘folder/files’ of Roman Britain has got a bit mixed up, me having dumped loads of extra (but sort of related) information in it.

Since I’ve already written one Celtic/Roman Britain historical, and two ancestral mystery novels, I should probably find the recording processes much easier. Don’t you think?

(w)Rite: I’d better get my story finished quickly because by the end of the summer the history of it just might be out of kilter again! 5345720_s

Yet, I’m wondering what I can be do better for future novels.

What sort of techniques do you use for your research findings? I’d love to hear what you do. 

ps My next novel just might be a contemporary one with no research needed!

Find Nancy at the following places:

Amazon UK author page  http://amzn.to/N6ye0z   Amazon.com author page  http://amzn.to/RJZzZz

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com   http://nancyjardineauthor.weebly.com  http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG   Twitter

http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/nancy-jardine/3a/9b0/a91/   Google+  @nansjar  http://about.me/nancyjardine 

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 Topaz Eyes final ebook cover MonogamyTwist_w6139_750 460x750

 

 

 

 

Printing Progress

This post is by Erin Thorne. September 19, 2012 (768x1024)

Many people keep journals for various reasons. They use this medium to inscribe personal thoughts, vent difficult-to-handle emotions, and as a record of special life events. However, a journal is also an ideal place in which to track one’s writing progress.

I recently began to do this as an integrated part of my work. A writers’ group to which I belong has a feature that, once a week, lets us share with other members what we’ve accomplished in the past seven days. At first, my writing journal was strictly utilitarian. There was simply no way I could have remembered what I’d done if I didn’t write it down. By degrees, it became a motivational tool.journal

Some weeks are busier than others. During those that are packed with activities and obligations, I sometimes feel as though I’m not getting any writing done. This, in turn, leads me to feel badly about my lack of effort. To break out of this spiral, I take a peek inside the journal section of my day planner, which is where I enter my daily progress. Often, I’ve found more entries than I expected, and this has given my confidence a boost. On the other hand, I’ve occasionally been stared down by blank pages that I’d meant to fill. This has provided the impetus to do more, and to intentionally make time to write.

Overall, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the results. I have finished projects ahead of schedule, and kept a more positive mindset about the whole writing process. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel encouraged. I don’t dread sharing my week’s work with others, because I know I’ve done my best in spite of all the demands upon my time. I’d recommend this technique to others without hesitation; no matter what line of work you’re in, nothing lifts your sprits like seeing how far you’ve come. It inspires confidence, and gives you hope about how far you’ll go.optimism

Don’t lean, clean!

September 19, 2012 (768x1024)This post is by Erin Thorne. I, like many teenagers, first entered the workforce via the avenue of the fast food industry. It was a hectic environment in which employees hustled to take food orders and speedily deliver bags and trays of greasy goodness to hungry customers. We were especially busy during the breakfast, lunch, and dinner rushes. Once the hubbub had died down, there was an overall tendency to mill around and goof off.

One manager in particular had a personal vendetta against this kind of behavior. In her mind, it reflected poorly upon the establishment, and upon herself as a taskmaster. It simply wouldn’t do for us to lack a productive occupation. She had a mantra which she encouraged us all to repeat: “Don’t lean, clean.”Cheeseburger

At first, it irritated us to no end. We couldn’t take so much as a five minute breather; sure enough, this woman would swoop in and attack our indolence with her motto. I didn’t see the wisdom and practical application of this saying until many years later, when I applied it in a broader sense to my writing career.

Of course, I didn’t take the maxim literally; I abhor housework as much as anyone. I seized the spirit of it, the admonition to take advantage of one’s downtime instead of using it to lounge about. This comes in handy when I’m not sure how to move my protagonist from point A to point B in my work, when I’m stuck between plot highlights, or when I only have a small amount of time at my disposal.

I have a day planner with all of my tasks, large and small, penciled into their appropriate boxes. In the event that I have a few (or several) idle minutes, I take a peek at my datebook and check it for upcoming obligations. Often, I’ll find something in there which grabs my attention – a batch of press releases that must be sent to promote a future appearance, or perhaps someone whom I need to contact. On those occasions when writer’s block rears its ugly head, it’s helpful to do other things that are just as essential as the creation of new works.day planner

In this way, I’m able to alleviate the feeling that I’m not achieving anything that day, in spite of the absence of inspiration. Frustration and unproductiveness are banished; impending duties are fulfilled prior to their assigned deadlines, and when I’m finally ready to sit down and write again, I can do so with the knowledge that I’ve used the interlude for my own benefit.

Where Does the Time Go!?

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis Post by Gayle M. Irwin

About 10 days ago many of us changed our clocks, moving ahead one hour for Daylight Savings Time. Does moving the hands of time on our clocks really save time? Rarely do I adjust to the time change very well – it takes weeks for my self-clock to adjust.

My birthday is just around the corner, and it seems the older I get, the more hand turning back timequickly time passes. That’s especially true with my days off from the “9-to-5” job. I’m fortunate to work just part-time away from home, yet my four days away from the office speed by like NASCAR vehicles on the track.

I’ve taken on several writing projects in the past few months, creating newsletters, brochures, press releases and advertisements for other organizations. Add this to my time working at the clinic, and writing articles for the community magazine, and I’m spending more than 40 hours each week working for others, even though much of that work is writing. The additional money comes in handy, but my own writing projects suffer from neglect. Because, of course, there is also time spent cooking, taking care of my pets, and cleaning house (well, actually, not much time cleaning house these days!). Time slips away like water through a drain. Is there enough time to write for others, earning money, and for my personal writing projects?

Time management is a trait many employers desire; it’s a trait I believe I used to possess. Afterall, I was the editor of a small town paper with only one additional employee, and yet faithfully we interviewed people, wrote stories, took photos, gathered and created ads, set the layout of pages, printed and distributed the paper, and took phone calls and met with clients and readers. Granted, we worked nearly 75 hours a week and, at that time, I was 20 years younger, so I still had energy to take care of my home and spend time with friends.

As writers, we need to manage our time. We may also need to turn down a project that pays in order to not let our own writing lapse. Or, we may choose to forgo our own endeavors in order to make ends meet during a tough economic season in our home life. Or, we may choose to arise an hour earlier, or stay up an hour later, so as to not neglect our own writing while working for others. It’s a personal choice, but sometimes choices need to be made. We also need balance, juggling family, friends, home, work, writing… We also need to rest; we need “downtime”. We need to listen to our own clocks and discover, if we don’t already know, when our best creative time is and how long we can endure pushing GetUpourselves. For example, I am best between 5:30 am and 12:30 pm.; afternoons are not my most creative. Therefore, I try to rise at 5:15, get coffee and meditate, then start my day at 5:30 when my household is quiet. I have discovered I can push myself to work, write, think, develop, etc. until 6 pm, but then I get aggravated more easily and patience evaporates more quickly. So, I’ve learned to shut down no later than 6, and I try to shut down by 4, especially if I’ve been going since 5’ish in the morning. One needs to learn one’s own clock, respect it, and shut it down when the batteries run low… and before someone gets hurt!

When do you find the best time to write? How do you juggle your writing duties with your other responsibilities? Have you come to learn more about yourself and your ability to time manage and multi-task?

DucksMy larger, time-zapping projects come to a close later this month; I plan to spend Easter weekend at a friend’s ranch basking in the serenity, the river humming nearby, no cell phone or Internet. I’ll watch ducks swim, hawks soar, deer graze, and turkeys strut; I may even be fortunate to see a pair of sandhill cranes return to the ranch to nest and raise young. I will be revived by the sights and sounds of my friend’s property, a place I visit a few times a year to be rejuvenated… and to still my own busyness in order to write my own work. It’s here that I edited Walking in Trust… and rewrote the final chapter after Sage’s passing. I’m blessed to have a fine friend who opens her guest house to me for such times I need them, especially as I await the snowmelt from my own sanctuary 8,000 feet above sea level. I’m thankful for these places to which I can retreat and where time doesn’t feel so much my enemy.

I have the same 24-hours as every other human being. Perhaps I just need to re-learn time management… or accept the fact time does pass more quickly after 50.

Woman Watching Clock

 

A Free Ebook on Time Management for Writers is available here:

http://www.thursdaybram.com/free-ebook-time-management-for-writers

Walking_FrontCover_smallGayle M. Irwin is the author of Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog and other books about her dogs, including stories for children. Learn more about her writing and speaking at www.gaylemirwin.com.