5 Tips for Writers Between Deadlines

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

Every published writer experiences it—having no deadlines. Of course, not having a deadline usually means they don’t have contracted novels. I’ve been there. Right now, I’m in a unique place—I’m contracted, but I don’t have a deadline yet because I’m working on a proposal to submit to my editor for the contracted novel.

However, when I turned in my previous manuscript, I was between deadlines, meaning I don’t have any contracted projects at that time to rush into plotting.  While that was good to allow myself time to relax after back-to-back deadlines, it didn’t help the bank account.I needed the downtime. I needed to refresh my spirit and refuel my writing energies.

Here are five suggestions for others who may find themselves between deadlines or without contracts yet:

  1. Breathe. Maybe you’ve put in long hours finishing up your manuscript before your deadline. Or perhaps, you’re still waiting for that offer to come through. Either way, take time to simply breathe…relax. I submitted one of my manuscripts during a family crisis, which tripled the stress level. But, once I turned it in, I was able to exhale and know I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
  2. Give Thanks. Yes, that’s right. Thank God for His provision, wisdom, and help during your deadline. Thank those who helped you to the finish—family, supportive friends, craft partners, prayer partners, and writing team. Many say writing is a solitary occupation. While I agree to a point, I know I’m where I am today because of my writing team—editor, agent, mentors, prayer partners, craft partners, and of course, my supportive family and friends.
  3. Reflect. Take some time to reflect about your previous deadline. Review the highlights and the struggles. What was the biggest challenge for you? What areas went well for you? I struggled with the plot for my latest manuscript, but after a couple of conversations with my editor, we worked out the problems, and I was able to move forward. However, I had less time to write, so I needed to write smarter. Also, I was still dealing with the aftermath of a particular family crisis, so that affected my attention. For future deadlines, I’d planned to ensure my plots are solid from the beginning.
  4. Grow. Take advantage of this time between deadlines to strengthen your craft. No matter where you are in your writing career, you need to keep learning. I’ve been reading James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel From the Middle and Amanda Luedeke’s The Extroverted Writer. Additionally, I’ve pulled out my My Book Therapy work texts from my past MBT retreats to review material to make brainstorming my next novel less stressful.
  5. Move Forward. Like I said, being between deadlines allows for necessary downtime, but it doesn’t help the bank account. In order to grow your business and readership, continue focusing on new projects. For me, this means reviewing career goals with my agent and determining the next steps to meet those goals. Talk with your writing team—editor, agents, mentors, craft partners and set SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely—goals for new opportunities. Set out in faith and challenge yourself with expanding your career. Consider speaking and teaching if you’re qualified. Learn about hybrid publishing if you’re interested in leaning in that direction. Wise counsel will enable you to determine future projects.

Having deadlines is an incredible blessing, but there are times when they can stress you out, especially if the days are flying off the calendar faster than your fingers can dance across your computer keys. Just know you’re not alone—millions of writers are there with you, and your editor and agent are only a phone call or an email away. Taking time to assess your story and laying that foundation from the very beginning will help you to write smarter, not harder. That way, when you submit your manuscript by the contracted deadline, you can do so with peace in your spirit, knowing you did your best. Remember to breathe, give thanks, reflect, learn, and move forward so you can begin the cycle all over again, but this time, you’ll do it more effectively.


Lakeside Romance

A Recipe for Romance

Sarah Sullivan will do whatever it takes to make her summer youth program permanent. But when she’s tasked to teach the teens basic kitchen skills, her hope goes up in flames. Not knowing the first thing about cooking, Sarah needs help. Smelling the delicious aromas coming from her neighbor’s apartment one night, she thinks she’s found her answer. Alec Seaver might know his way around pots and pans, but the lone-wolf widower doesn’t want anything to do with the free-spirited beauty next door. But after he becomes Sarah’s reluctant partner, Alec realizes that she might just be the key ingredient missing from his life.

Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for Novel.Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.

Quick, Down & Dirty Edits

by Lisa Carter, @LisaCarter27

So here’s the thing—

You’ve written this article/blog post/novel. And like writing mentors recommend, you allowed your “baby” to take a little nap before you returned with fresh eyes and ever-evolving writer-ly skill to complete your edits. It’s been on the back burner for a while due to too many items on your plate.

(Proceed at your own risk because I’m throwing cliché rules out the window with this one.)

You had the best intentions to return to this “darling” in a few weeks/months—ahem, coughing—years. But life intervened—like you had a real baby; your aging parents required more care; other writing projects took precedence or . . . You fill in the blanks.

Then out of the blue, an agent/editor is interested in this rough draft of yours. “It’s very, very rough,” you stammer. But they want it yesterday.You can’t let such a marvelous opportunity slip through your fingers. But what’s a writer to do?

Some of you dread the editing process. And at the risk of sounding masochistic and weird, I’ll admit I actually enjoy editing. I’m a brutal self-editor of my first drafts. Often I comb through multiple revisions before my editor insists enough is enough and pries the manuscript from my cold,write-sore fingers.Yet I crave one more look-see, one more run-through. Just to be sure. Just to be thorough.

But for those situations where speed is essential, I’ve come up with a last minute editing checklist. This approach is similar to the quick cleanup I utilize for occasions when unexpected guests are en route to my house.As in—you’ve only enough time for a spit and polish. Only time to clear the deck.To remove the heavy debris. To wipe down counters and toilets. Take out the trash. You get the picture.

Here is my own down and dirty checklist for chapter edits—

  1. Scan scenes for white space. Too much narrative? Too little dialogue? Are you telling or showing?
  2. Did every scene portray emotive conflict between the characters?
  3. Does the dialogue follow FAS—feeling, action and then speech?
  4. To bring each scene to life, how many of the five senses have you included?
  5. Have you varied each paragraph opening or do they each—three paragraphs in a row—begin with the same letter “A” or “T”, etc . . .?
  6. Have you varied your sentence structure/opening sentence/closing hook? Can you simplify and avoid any complex compound sentence structures?
  7. Have you searched and replaced all redundant, weak weasel words?
  8. Did you maintain deep POV? And maintain POV realism? A cop will never use words like, “beauteous fragility” to describe his love interest or a Southern character say, “You guys.”
  9. Did you spell check?
    You can guess my final piece of advice—
  10. Last but not least, did you eliminate all clichéd phrases and untangle mixed metaphors?

I liken the editing process to that of a sculptor. By chipping away at this ungainly lump of stone, your editing chisel slowly releases the beauty hidden within the pages of your novel.

Happy editing,

Lisa


The Christmas Baby

Mistletoe Mommy

Anna Reyes is pregnant and widowed, and a Christmas homecoming isn’t so simple. Reuniting with her best friend, Ryan Savage, makes it easier—even though she knows he’ll soon be leaving their small coastal hometown. After putting his career on hold for his family’s business, Ryan’s finally ready to pursue his goals. But as he and Anna work to make the holidays special for a group of at-risk kids, Ryan wonders if he can give up one dream for another. They’re determined to make this a Christmas to remember, but can Ryan and Anna also make their holiday family last forever?

Lisa Carter is the bestselling author of seven romantic suspense novels, four historical novellas and a contemporary Coast Guard series. The Stronghold won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier. Under a Turquoise Sky won the 2015 Carol Award for Romantic Suspense. Beyond the Cherokee Trail was a 4 1/2 star Romantic Times Top Pick. Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales and researching her next exotic adventure. When not writing, she loves spending time with her family and teaching writing workshops. A native North Carolinian, she has strong opinions on barbecue and ACC basketball. http://www.lisacarterauthor.com

Connect with Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Four Tips to Meet Deadlines

by Sarah Sundin, @sarahsundin

As a natural procrastinator, I struggle to meet deadlines. In college a late assignment only hurt myself. Not so in the publishing world. A late manuscript causes ripple effects in the publishing house from editing to marketing to sales, affecting our relationships and reputation—and our contracts! Even with smaller assignments, tardiness causes annoyance, inconvenience, and sometimes a loss of that opportunity.

Conversely, writers who meet deadlines gain respect, trust, and affection—and couldn’t we all use more of that?

Here are four keys to meet your deadlines and save your sanity.


1) Set Goals

Before I was published, my writers’ group encouraged us to write our monthly goals on an index card and keep it in sight. Since then, I’ve shifted to a goal chart. In this simple table, I enter all my assignments over the next few years, broken down by month.

The table has columns for types of projects—novel writing, publisher assignments (edits, title questionnaires, catalog copy), articles and interviews, and publicity (newsletter, website updates, speaking events, etc.).

Smaller projects get assigned to a month. Big projects, like novels, get broken into smaller monthly goals, such as a number of chapters or a word count goal. Leave room for “life”—like vacations, family events, and conferences.

2) Log Assignments

Author interviews, blog guest posts, and articles can overwhelm the writer. To keep track of the multiple details, I keep a spreadsheet, but a table works just as well.

I list each assignment chronologically by post date. I have columns for the website or blogger’s name, and the URL for the blog or website—after it posts, I change this to the permalink so I can visit and interact with commenters. The next four columns are for the date I receivedthe assignment, the due date, the date I sent it, and the post date. I note if I’m giving away a book and if I’ve mailed it. Then a column for notes.

3) File Assignments

We creative types don’t like stifling routines, but certain routines can save your hide. Whenever I receive a new assignment (book, interview, article, speaking event, endorsement request), I follow these steps.

  • Enter it in my goal chart. If applicable, enter it in my calendar, especially speaking events or book signings.
  • Enter interviews and articles in my spreadsheet.
  • Download or copy-and-paste interview questions or article guidelinesinto a Word document immediately. Give the document a functional name, like “Interview – blogger name – post date” or “Article – Novel Rocket – 8-29-17.” Save the creativity for your novel. You can also file the document in a folder.
  • File the email in a folder. My email folders include “Interviews and Articles,” “Speaking,” “Conferences,” “Endorsements,” and “Publisher.” When I finish an assignment, I can double-check the instructions in the emailand respond to the original message.

4) Track Goals

The neatest calendars, charts, and spreadsheets don’t mean a thing without a tracking system. Get in the habit of making monthly, weekly, and daily checks.

On the first of each month, I analyze the previous month’s goal chart, highlighting completed projects. Leftoverassignments are scooted down to the next month. This helps me see developing problems and forces me to evaluate how much I can actually accomplish.

At the beginning of the week, I sit down with my goal chart and calendar, and I plan my week. At this stage I make sure I take care of the little assignments without falling behind on the big ones.

At the end of each day, I do a quick review and reassign any incomplete projects.

With a bit of time and effort, even the dreamiest novelist can become a professional!

TWEETABLES

____________________

When Tides Turn

When Quintessa Beaumont learns the US Navy has established the WAVES program for women, she enlists, eager to throw off her frivolous ways and contribute to the war effort. Lt. Dan Avery employs his skills in antisubmarine warfare to fight U-boats at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, but the last thing he wants to see on his radar is fun-loving Tess. As Dan and Tess work together in Boston, the changes in Tess challenge his notions—and his heart.


Sarah Sundin
is the author of nine historical novels, including When Tides Turn. Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.”A mother of three, Sarah lives in California. She enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.Please visit her athttp://www.sarahsundin.com.

Writing With Chronic Pain

by Lynette Eason

I don’t know about y’all, but the older I get the more my body lets me know it’s not on board with the whole idea.

When I was younger, I didn’t worry about getting older. I still don’t worry about it per se, but since being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, I’ve had to make a few lifestyle changes. However, in spite of all of my efforts to be healthy, there are still bad days and good days. And since I never know from day to day how I’m going to feel, I have to make the most of the good days.

So why bother with the writing? Why do something that causes me stress and pain?


Because I love what I do and I’m not willing to stop doing it. I want to live life to the fullest, to fulfill the plan that God had deemed to be for me from day one. And I know that as long as I’m relying on Him no matter how I feel, if I’m in His will, it will get done. Period.

This may sound crazy, but I write several hours a day, seven days a week. MOST weeks. In 2016, I had five full length novels and two novellas release. Okay, maybe that’s a bit much, but it just kind of worked out that way. LOL. For me, I’m a fast, mostly clean, writer. I won’t say my first draft is my final draft, but it’s pretty close. So, when I’m done with a story, I’m done. At least until my beta readers and editors get ahold of it, but basically, my part is finished and I can move on to the next. That’s part of the reason I can write as much as I do and have that many books out. Not everyone has that ability, so you just have to work with what you can do and be sure not to compare yourself to anyone else. I only tell you what I do when it comes to writing through the pain, because if I can do it anyone can do it. Maybe to a lesser degree, but you can do it. I promise. And please, note, I’m not telling you that to say, “Look how awesome I am!” But to say, it can be done and I live it everyday. Now, if you add a headache or a migraine into the mix, I’m down for the count, but otherwise, I can work through it.

So, when your back hurts, your shoulders and neck are killing you, and your hips are screaming, what do you do? First, you do what you can to get the pain under control and then…

Here are a few things I do to stay on top of the writing craziness and deadlines.

Disclaimer: This is not going to be super helpful for those of you with small children so don’t want to hurt me too bad after reading this. My children are teens. One in college, one a sophomore in high school.

  1. I pray. A lot. And non-stop during the massage I treat myself to on a regular basis.
  2. I don’t clean much. I keep us from living in filth, but my kids and husband do the majority of the deep cleaning. I vacuum when I need a break from sitting and it’s good exercise. And if I do clean, it’s in spurts. I don’t try to do the whole house in one day. And I NEVER clean on days that I do laundry.
  3. I get up and move regularly. If I sit too long, my hips lock up on me and my shoulders turn into very painful rocks of muscle. I joined a gym and hired a trainer to teach me how to do a workout routine. I know not everyone can afford to do that, but if you can, once you learn the routine, you can ditch the trainer. LOL. I actually hate going to the gym, but found I feel tons better when I do, so I force myself.
  4. I work/write first thing in the morning when I’m fresh and awake. My mind definitely functions better in the morning.
  5. I eat a healthy breakfast that includes protein and some carbs. By the way, I also eat gluten free and recently, one of my doctors to me to stay away from red meat and refined, white sugar. (This is a new one and in the beginning, it nearly killed me. But once I got through the first couple of days, I could see a difference in my brain function and a reduction in my pain levels after less than a week.)
  6. I lost weight. Being overweight puts incredible strain on your body. I’ll be honest, when I started losing weight, I thought I would miraculously feel amazing. Well, it didn’t happen. I still had the pain and I still get extremely tired in the afternoons, but I know there are other health benefits I’m reaping due to the weight loss. 
  7. I nap. Yes, I know not everyone can do this. But if you can, do it. If you have little ones, nap when they nap. If you work a full time job, nap half of your lunch break and write the other half. (Yes, I did this when I was working full time and even 15 minutes of closing my eyes was surprisingly refreshing.) I’m really trying to learn to listen to my body and lie down for an hour every afternoon. I usually am able to fall asleep so I make sure I set my alarm to wake me if I need to wake up. If I don’t need to wake up, I don’t bother setting it. And yes, I still sleep at night. Most of the time. 
  8. I write some more after the nap. By this time, my kid is home from school, but he works a lot of afternoons so I can still write until my husband comes home and then we all do dinner and have family time.
  9. I learned how to say “no”. As much as I would love to do everything and be superwoman, I’m coming to grips with my limitations. I can’t teach at every conference or even attend all of the ones I’d like to attend. I can’t mentor every person who would like me to mentor him/her and I can’t even jump on every writing opportunity that comes along. And the list goes on. I simply can’t do it all. Not only due to physical limitations, but because of the time involved in a lot of the things. I still have to write my own stories! LOL.
  10. I prioritize. This is huge. For me, it’s: God, Family, Writing, and then everything else comes after this. If those three things take up my entire day then nothing else will get done. Period. And I’ve learned to be okay with that.

So, these are just a few of the things I do to keep myself healthy and able to do the job I love and am passionate about. What about you? Do you have chronic pain? What do you do to make sure you’re living life to the fullest in spite of the pain?


TWEETABLES
Because I love what I do and I’m not willing to stop doing it.~ Lynette Eason (Click to Tweet)

Lynette Eason grew up in Greenville, SC. She attended Converse College where she earned her Masters degree in Education. Lynette is the author of more than forty works of romantic suspense, with over 500,000 copies sold of trade editions. In the 2017 edition of Christian Market, she was named as one of the top five romantic suspense authors in the industry. In 2016, she won the Carol Award, the Golden Scrolls Book of the Year award as well as the Daphne Award in her category. She also finaled in several other contests. One crowning achievement that she is most proud of is the fact that she finaled in the 2016 James Patterson co-writer competition, landing in the top ten out of thousands of entries. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). She teaches at writing conference across the southeast. She also travels extensively and is excited that she is getting numerous requests to speak and teach at various events.

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