Thursday, October 11, 2007

Keeping Up

There isn't enough time in the day.

Strange as it sounds, the longer I'm in this business, the more I realize the importance of time management.

Way back in the 90's, when I was working 40 hours a week in a restaurant and trying to balance that with a family, leisure time, and writing, I longed for the day when I sold a book and could quit my job and spend my days in front of my keyboard, pounding out stories without having to cram it into my schedule.

But things haven't really changed. Life is still a balancing act, and even though I now prioritize writing I still have to find time to do it, even though it's my main source of income. October is almost halfway over, and I'm looking at my upcoming appearance schedule, with four out-of-state trips in the upcoming weeks, and am wondering when I'm going to have time to write three novellas and a novel by March, do line edits on two other novels, and get a head start on one more novel before my current contract is up.

I wish I could say I've discovered some time-budgeting secret which allows me to get things done, but I'm actually terrible at scheduling, awful at planning, and subscribe to the "don't sleep until it's finished" school of commitments. Those who know me are aware that I write down upcoming deadlines and events on a cheap picture calender, and I often don't know what I'm doing on any given day until I wake up and look at said calender.

So rather than offer answers with today's blog, I'm asking a question:

How do you budget your time and stay on schedule?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

That said, here's a bunch of stuff that I've been meaning to mention but haven't had the time to:

Friday Oct. 12, at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago from 5pm-8pm, I'll be hanging out with a bunch of other authors at the booklaunch party for CHICAGO BLUES, a collection of noir short stories that all take place in the Windy City.

If you're a Midwesterner, try to be there. It's going to be a lot of fun. If you're not from the area, you should still pick up a copy of CHICAGO BLUES. It's edited by the incomparable Libby Fischer Hellmann, and features some of the biggest names in thriller writing, including Sara Paretsky, Stuart Kaminsky, Barbara D'Amato, as well as talentless hacks like Marcus Sakey, Sean Chercover, Brian Pinkerton, Kevin Guilfoile, and yours truly, who contributed a brand new Jack Daniels short called OVERPROOF.

While you have your credit card handy, I also suggest picking up the sci-fi horror anthology GRATIA PLACENTI, which features a short story by me that is just plain wrong. Seriously, this is a warped, twisted, gross tale that I may someday regret, so get it now before I retract it. This book was edited by Jason Sizemore, who runs Apex Digest, which is a magazine you should be reading.

For you newbie writers who need a dose of inspiration, grab a copy of HOW I GOT PUBLISHED edited by Ray White and Duane Lindsay. This terrific collection contains essays by over 90 published offers (including me), explaining how they got their lucky breaks. Learn about the starts of Christopher Moore, John Lescroart, Stuart Woods, JA Jance, Chris Grabenstein, Thomas Perry, Dave Barry, CJ Box, and friends of mine like Barry Eisler, David Morrell, F. Paul Wilson, Lee Goldberg, Mario Acevedo, Raymond Benson, Steve Alten, Troy Cook, Jeremiah Healy, Sandra Balzo, Zoe Sharp, Laura Bradford, Michael A. Black, Jeff Shelby, Simon Wood, William Kent Krueger, and MJ Rose, among others.

Speaking of MJ, her Buzz Your Book class is coming up. If you're a new author, check it out. You can even ask your publisher if they'll cover the cost; many have.

Buzz your Book - the online marketing course- will be given only one time only in 2008. January 8 through February 7th. This isn't a theoretical class. M.J. Rose works one-on-one and online via email with each student on a marketing plan that includes an hour of brainstorming time. Again this year, Matt Baldacci---VP Marketing & Publishing Operations from ST. Martin's Press---will be the special guest lecturer and available via email for a whole week for Qs & As.

Sign up is very limited and open now and they're starting to fill up. If you are interested, please visit

If you aren't published yet, there's a great opportunity to meet agents and editors this November in New York.

Looking for an agent? Want to meet dozens face-to-face?

With only agents on the program, the Backspace Agent-Author Seminars (November 6 & 7, Radisson Martinique, NYC)
are a terrific opportunity to network, ask questions, talk about your work, and listen and learn from the people who make their living selling books.

Tuesday, November 6:

Emmanuelle Alspaugh, Rachel Vater, Paul Cirone, Scott Hoffman, Michael Bourret, Jennifer DeChiara, Jennie Dunham, Jessica Faust, Michelle Brower, and Liza Dawson with Daniela Rapp (editor, St. Martin’s)

Wednesday, November 7:

Laney Katz Becker, Janet Reid, Stephany Evens, Caren Johnson, Alex Glass, Lucienne Diver, Jennifer Unter, Miriam Goderich, Kate Epstein, Joe Veltre, Elisabeth Weed, Deborah Grosvenor, Paige Wheeler, Miriam Kriss, and Jeff Kleinman with Brenda Copeland (editor, Hyperion)

There's still time to register, for one day or both. Attendance limited to 150. And trust me when I say the best way to get published is to meet agents in person. This is well worth the time and cost of flying to NY...