Thursday, June 10, 2010

Working Ahead of the Curve

What a difference a year makes!

Last year at this time I was eating sushi on the island, picking sand from my toes and wondering if the boat marked “MAINLAND” would ever have a seat with my name on it.

And then I got “The Call”.

Is life different?


Is it good?

Oh. My. Stars. : YES

Waiting Out the Storm
is about to be released in stores and is already available for purchase at I’m giving away a copy of it today to two lucky winners, so be sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment! Is it a fun book? Yes.

Is it a totally great addition to the North Country series???

Oh Mylanta, if a totally adorable, to-die for hero with the title ‘doctor’ in front of his name and an in-the-barn, muck-speckled, boot-wearing heroine who happens to end up being his neighbor despite their Capulet-Montague family history (without the eloquent but somewhat tedious Shakespearean-speak, headache-causing old English)… I love this book. I love that Craig is such a good guy but still flawed. I love that Sarah is so focused, but can manage to miss the forest for the trees…

And the kids? The dogs? The sheep???? Right there is reason enough to grab this book and see what all the fuss is about. Because it’s stinkin’ sweet, and that’s all I’m going to say right now.

I’ve been blessed to receive a 4 ½ star rating by Romantic Times Magazine on Winter’s End AND Waiting Out the Storm, which means one of two things: I’m doing something right OR… RT hired my sister. Thanks, SIS!!!!

Winter’s End was chosen as one of the “BEST BEACH READS” by Woman’s World magazine (upcoming July 5th issue).

I’ve spoken to a lovely readers’ club here in upstate, I’ve been “author in residence” at a local school, I was honored to be the guest author at Harlequin’s recent “Staff Appreciation Day” in Buffalo at their amazing Distribution Center and this week I have the honor of addressing the Greater NY Salvation Army Association of Women Pastors on Long Island.

Yup. What a difference a year makes.

We talk a lot about how to be ready, how to prepare, how to market, how to sell yourself. First things first: WRITE. Write yourself silly. Write ahead of the game. Write for the market and for yourself. Work daily. Do not make excuses for why you can’t work because hard work is a habit like anything else. Be “Nike”: JUST DO IT.

Here’s a prime example of why I work ‘ahead of the game’, always striving to have the next books in the works while I’m writing one. I never work a project singly. Ever. It’s way too easy to drop the ball if you’re not ahead of the curve. This was my projected schedule for the first two weeks of June. Remember, I’m a full-time worker so everything is done around the day job:

June 3rd: Speaker and luncheon at Harlequin Distribution Center Staff Appreciation Day in Buffalo, NY.

June 4th: Toronto overnight with Dave (tickets to Yankees game from Finance Boy in Boston, Christmas present)

June 5th: Afternoon game in Toronto, return to upstate that evening (about 3 hour drive if traffic’s good)

June 9th: Drive to Long Island after work (about 8 hours)

June 10th: Long Island for speaking and book-signing at GNY Salvation Army Women’s Retreat

June 10th: Blog: Seekerville!!!!!! (Yup, I’m on a slightly different ISLAND today, LOL!)

June 11th: Manhattan, meet Commander of Salvation Army, hang out with Lawyer Boy

June 12th: Head back upstate

June 12th: Clarkson Rodeo, evening (research for book… my kind of research!!!! ;) )

June 13th: Church, rain date for rodeo if necessary, Cowboy church

I had a book due July 1st. I made sure it was done and mailed by June 3rd, and here’s why: Life happens.

When I looked at my projected June schedule, I knew that writing blocks would be choppy at best and that my habitual 4:00 AM wake-up call would get messed up by late nights. So I worked ahead of the curve and finished a three-book proposal for Steeple Hill and the current book, sent both in…

And as often happens:

Life intervened in the form of a “Mack-Attack”. “Mack-Attack” is our brand new baby
granddaughter who decided 35 weeks was plenty long enough to be inside and decided a birthday in June was way better than July. MacKenzie Marie made her appearance around 2:20 AM on June 4th and that means a few things:

Grammy and Grandpa needed to grab time to drive the 30 minutes and visit Mom, Dad and baby and ascertain that 5 lb., 6 oz. “Kenzie” was doing great. She’s a scrapper, it’s evident already, but with a mellow edge that’s a gift from her sweet Mama.
Baby needed tiny newborn clothes, an exception in our house of 8 lb. + babies who never really fit into newborn clothes… Quick on-the-way shopping trip to Kohl’s for NB outfits and onesies picked out by Grandpa…

Big brother Logan needed watching because Mom and Dad were at the hospital with Kenzie… Aunt Beth and Uncle Jon stepped in to take care of 17 month-old Logan and dogs since Dave and I were overnight in Toronto, then Grandma Prophet took Logan from Saturday night ‘til Sunday evening before bringing him back here.
This pic is the equivalent of "Buddy Breathing" for babies... Logan's nabbed on to Elijah's binky for a comforting moment or two, but 'Lijah seems a bit shocked by Logan's audacity...

And since Kenzie will be in the hospital for a few more days with some bilirubin and temperature issues, big brother Logan is having waaaaay fun sleepovers with Grammy for the duration.

Imagine if I had to fit this new scenario into the above two weeks, AND be on deadline with an unfinished book.

People say I handle stress well. I do, but that’s because I avoid it. I work proactively because I’ve been on the planet long enough to know that Murphy’s Law reigns: If anything can go wrong it will, and at the worst possible time.

I work to avoid craziness because I like that sense of inner control, that I’m on my own “clock”, that as life tumbles and stumbles, I’ve been smart enough to don my knee pads and shin guards and lessen the blows. In sales (I was a Tupperware Sales Manager in the 70’s and spent 1998-2005 as a bridal consultant, selling wedding gowns and bridal ensembles to wedding parties)

I was taught to plan your work and work your plan, to project ahead and remove possible impediments from your path. Circumstance can always be counted on to send NEW impediments… Do your best to chuck the already visible ones, clear your path in advance. Be your own Zamboni (that’s in honor of the Stanley Cup Finals this week…. Chicago Blackhawks vs. the Philadelphia Flyers… Two American teams vying for the hockey title… Who’da thunk it????), clear the way, smooth the ice.

Simply put: Work. Work hard. Set aside time every day for writing. Prioritize. I tell people that I write fast, but I think it’s more that I write steady, blocking out time every single day, then using scraps of time to research other projects or getting my art copy ready for an upcoming book so when it’s contracted all I have to do to make the cover art team happy is push some buttons. Working ahead of the game makes each book’s transition from manuscript to bound edition SO MUCH EASIER for me, and that keeps me calm. I like calm. A lot.

Your ability to handle stress and time constraints will help convince an editor that you are the real deal, the real McCoy, a bona-fide, in-your-face, I-can-do-this writer. The first thing that editor wants to know when they make that call is: Do You Have More?

Saying ‘yes’ tells him/her two things:

1. You’re motivated to work and not hung up on getting one book r-i-g-h-t.
2. Getting you into rotation and production will be way easier. Readerships build with quick turnaround. A reader that has to wait for a year between books will most likely FORGET YOUR NAME… Sad, but true. Until you’re so well established that people won’t forget you, getting books out in a timely fashion is clutch for most editors.

Editors have a multi-fold responsibility to their publishing houses of picking great books AND good authors. A great book does not a great author make. A great book that’s weighted with slow turnover times, slow production times, uncooperative or sulky attitudes (have I mentioned today how much I HATE DRAMA???? People who prepare ahead tend to have much less D-R-A-M-A in their lives. I’m just sayin’…) a drama-filled life that messes with print and production deadlines, art deadlines, etc…

Who needs THAT when there are a host of talented authors waiting at the door, chomping at the bit?

Work ahead of the curve. Plan your work, work your plan. Be tough on yourself. Really tough. Raise the bar, heighten the expectations. A strong, daily work ethic is the very best gift you can give yourself as a new author.

Hey, leave me your e-mail in your comment, pretty please with sugar on it!!!! And feel free (published or not, you KNOW I don’t care) to add your own ideas to working ahead of the curve, for strategizing on "gettin’ her done…"

Since I’m downstate today, I’m sending Manhattan bagels, lox, cream cheese, fresh, sweet onion, a selection of muffins to die for, and a full breakfast buffet including eggs, ham, sausage, home fries (I’m ignoring the NYC trans-fat laws… Oh Mylanta, the things they legislate here….) white or wheat toast and homemade strawberry jam or sour cherry preserves.

Dig in. Tell me your plan, what works for you. Let’s put on our farm boots in honor of Sarah “White Fawn” Slocum (Waiting Out the Storm) and share ideas to thrust us into forward-motion success mode.



  1. Oh mercy, Ruth,

    You've been busy. Congrats on another grandbaby.

    What is working ahead of the curve. About the time I think I'm doing a good job staying ahead, I find out I'm way behind.

    The story of my life.

    I try to sit time aside, and life happens.

    I find one of the things I do to make sure I stay ahead, is make sure I finish the book before I even try to query a house. At this point in life I just don't think I could sign a contract and plan to finish a bunch of books.

    Maybe I could do, but boy right now the thought of something like that, makes me nervous.

  2. Wow! What an inspirational post! I need to remember that--to just write, write, write! And I didn't even think about what would happen someday if I could get published, and the publisher wanted to know if I had more...

    I guess it's as they say: be like a Boy Scout and "Be Prepared"! ;)

    Thank you for sharing this motivational, "Just Do It!" post. :)

    And I know, I know...I'll get the coffee started. ;) (I bet you guys didn't know that I don't even drink coffee! But I'll get it ready for ya'll anyway!) Anybody want to have some hot chocolate with me?


    P.S. Please enter me for a chance to win your book! :)


  3. Ruth that was awesome to read! Thanks so much! I have to write now, but before I do here's my story about working ahead of deadline: while getting one of my degrees I had a thesis due in Feb. so I used my whole Christmas vacation working night and day to get it done (taking time to celebrate Christmas of course) and by the time school was back in I was at the polishing stage. I handed in my thesis early and upon seeing that my prof. unfortunately made the course harder the next year because he thought we must have been given too much time if I was able to do it earlier than he projected! I felt sorry for the upcoming students :) I never would have seen that coming.

  4. Ruthy:

    I am SO T-I-R-E-D after reading this. Whew! How do I keep up with a tornado???

    Believe it or not, I've always prided myself on being the one staff member who always had the paperwork done ahead of time, the accounts balanced, the plans laid, etc., etc.

    My keys have always been (1) working ahead and (2) consistency.

    But this scares the socks off me. I'm not sure I can cut such a routine.


    Coffee's on.

    helengray AT boycomonline DOT com

  5. opps...

    Please enter me into the draw - thanks!

    EvaMariaHamilton at gmail dot com

  6. Wow, Ruth, you just reaffirmed everything I've been trying to do. I'm fairly new to this whole writing game (under four years). In the last year I've pushed myself harder and farther than I ever thought. I have at least three projects I work on at any one time. I actually have a schedule of sorts. I revise one, while writing the first draft of another, and allow another to stew until the first draft of the one is complete. Of course, life gets in the way so at the moment I'm revising two first drafts at the same time in two completely different eras. One mainstream romance, the other inspirational (Yeah, I work under two different names, too!) AND while all of this is going on, I'm usually plotting something too.

    Congratulations on the upcoming release!! And super congrats on the new grandbaby!!!

    Tina, please email me at reneelynnscott at gmail dot com. Thank you.

  7. Hi Ruthy- greetings from the land of fluttering flags and vociferous vuvuzelas as the FIFA World Cup gears up to start here tomorrow.

    Congratulations on the arrival of MacKenzie and enjoy Logan's visit.

    Thanks for a fantastic post.

    One way I stay ahead of the curve is to incorporate my daily experiences into my writing. I could spend hours away from my WIP searching for something to say in my next blog, but instead I'm going to paint a word picture of what I feel,see and hear around me today as the excitement builds before the first match.

    I record my impressions and photos in Lifejournal where they are on call for my book which is set in South Africa.

    Please enter me in the draw for your book. Thank you

    ruthanndell (at) mweb (dot) co (dot) za

  8. Ruth, just had to pop in and tell everyone that you have EVERY right to be thrilled about your books. Yes, folks, they really are that good!

    Babies have a way of coming early. I learned my lesson when my son came the day after I went on maternity leave. I could not stand in my lab job the last four weeks so thought I had plenty of time to prepare...given all that time off. Hah!

    I have always been an earlier preparer. When I was writing sermons, I would start Monday, have the draft done and see what would make me tweak it over the week, adding in pertinent things as I went. I was never talented or crazy enough to be one of those Saturday night sermon people. And there was always an alternative sermon or two in the hopper in case I developed the plague between times. Saved a LOT of worrying and, as you said, DRAMA.

    Thanks again for a great series!

  9. I needed to read this this morning! I've worked silly on my first manuscript, writing, re-writing, re-re-writing, get the picture. As much as I'm itching to re-re-re-re-write after the Genesis results (ugh), I told myself that that was the last one until someone smarter than me said, "you have a great story, now do THIS."

    So, I'm trolling for new ideas now. And in the midst of trolling, life certainly happened in the form of hubby changing jobs unexpectedly. Daughter moving into apartment. And then the expected--school ending and the house suddenly becoming less empty during those formerly quiet lunchtimes when I could come home from work, think, and write.

    I've been trying to switch gears and be more proactive. Thanks for telling us how you've accomplished all you have!

    Congrats on the new grandbaby! My oldest baby (21-year-old apartment girl) was 3 weeks early and 6 lb., 9 oz. I often wonder how much she'd have weighed at full-term!

    Did someone mention coffee? Maybe after I've slept a few more hours...

    I'd LOVE to read your book, by the way... :)


  10. Oh my goodness Ruthy! You are one busy, and obviously deciplined, lady. I truly appreciated your post today. It inspired me to put myself on a schedule and to no longer say, "I can't write consistently because I work a full time job, I'm a pastor's wife (lots to do) and I'm a caregiver for my 82 year old Mom. I know I can do it. I guess I just need to be more NIKE!

    Congratulations on your new grandbaby!

    Have a wonderful day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  11. Fantastic post, Ruth! Congratulations on all the great news and on the new grand baby. I do a lot of things to avoid drama, but I've never looked at planning and working ahead of the curve the way you presented it. Very inspirational.

  12. Good morning from the Inn at East Wind, Wading River, New York...

    Long Island....

    Aptly named. ;) And I wanna tell you, I'm thanking God that by the time I crawled through Manhattan traffic.... c-r-a-w-l...

    And across the THROG'S NECK BRIDGE..... c-r-a-w-l....

    I was so happy (well, tired and happy) that the Long Island Expressway (misnamed, usually it's a PARKING LOT, bumper to bumper) was moving along. YES!!!

    And guess what was waiting for me at the door to this amazing (not even kidding a tiny bit, voted best wedding site on The Knot and let me repeat "It's Long Island" so it's got competition. This would not be the case in upstate NY where lovely venues include church halls.)

    A HUMONGOUS bullfrog. I took his picture. Twice. This guy must be eating nuclear waste from NYC power plants 'cause he was lunch plate size, bright green and speckled, and I thought he was a garden statue at first. Except he wasn't in the garden.

    He was waiting patiently at the door. What a good frog!!! ;)

    Gotta get coffee. I made the stuff in the little pot...

    My Keurig (gift from friend) has made Dave and I coffee snobs. I'm doomed.

    Back in a minute.

  13. Goodness gracious! You are busy! And you have a day job?????? Now, you mentioned you get up at 4am. Do you get up that early to write? How early do you go to bed? I've got 2 teens in the house who are nocturnal and it doesn't seem to work to go to bed too early. I'm still trying to work out this writing thing and trying to find the best schedule for me. So far...nothing works. I haven't tried getting up at 4am though. I think I may have to buckled down and sacrifice something. Sigh.... :)

  14. Thanks for the motivational post, Ruth! It has me raring to go this AM.

    I think having a few projects brewing at the same time helps to keep one from getting boring. If I don't feel like dealing with the characters in one m/s I can hop on over and visit the others. Also, starting a new project after finishing the first draft of one clears my mind a bit so when I go back to do edits it's easier to pick out what needs changing because I haven't been dwelling on that story. And sometimes the new story gives you ideas to take back to the previous one. If any of that made sense. ;o)

    Thanks for breakfast. I'm stuffed.

    Congrats on the book! And super congrats on the new grandchild!!


    P.S. This goes back to your blog a few weeks ago on research. I don't know if any of you know this, or care, but if your are writing a story involving a person in the Marine Corps or Navy you can order copies of oral histories with individuals who served in WWII through Vietnam. The Global War on Terrorism interviews are still Official Use Only. These are wonderful resources and can give you a real feel for what it was like for these individuals if you don't know a Veteran.

  15. Tina P: Thanks for the congrats, and I'm glad this makes you nervous... Better to jump in knowing, than not knowing, right?

    And I could have gently refused the book-signing/speaking appearances, but I love that stuff. I love meeting people, giving hugs, shaking hands. Think "politician" without the smarm attached. ;) So if you don't like that stuff, you just say no... Right? Don't let anything scare you off, ever, but be prepared.

    Amber: Coffee is excellent. Just the way I like it. You rock. ;) And yeah, write, write, write...

  16. Eva!!!

    My son had that happen in his grad degree program this year. He felt bad because he surged ahead of the norm, got stuff done, turned it in early, aced the exam...

    And messed up the curve and spurred the professor to change the course for next year.

    But at least next year's students (like when you did it) won't know who to blame!!!! ;)

    Aw, HELEN.... if this were routine, I couldn't do it either, sweetcakes. You know that. It was an anomaly but I saw it coming and the best way to avoid the crash is to prepare, right? Good brakes, good tires? So I prepared by doing what I could ahead of time. That was finishing the book and developing three more. That way I can work on writing while I'm downstate (until Saturday), play in NYC at night (YAY!!! I think there are Yankees in my Friday night future...) and not worry that I'm behind.

    Renee, that sounds like my routine. In some weird way it keeps my brain freshened (not like a cow freshened, Mary. Geez, Louise) to be working multiple projects.

    And if it's a SERIES or CONNECTED WORKS, I can hop back and forth and insert little things as I think of them, so I can add a hint of foreshadowing to book one for something that will affect book three because I'm dipping my toes in all three pools. So to speak. Only if you saw my toes right now, you'd know they haven't been dipped anywhere.

  17. The energizer bunny has nothing on you, Ruthy! So what, you average about 4.5 of sleep? Not wait, that might be more like 3.9. . .I'm feeling a stretch coming on in your honor : )

    Amazing work ethic and determination. Yes! This is what I need to hear, and then see the results. We're all striving for 3 books a year, 4 1/2 star reviews, speaking engagements--

    Wait, is this a Connealy commerical, too?? LOL!

    I'll all with you on staying ahed of the curve, Ruthy... Nike vs. Larry the Cable Guy...and the winner is...

    Get 'er done!!

  18. Julie, I'm so glad you liked the books! Thank you! (coy smile here, a slight blush...)

    I love the way you did sermons. Now tell us what you were writing sermons for. Ministry? Or are you just naturally bossy like Tina?



    No more sleep. Here's a full mug.

    Write. Write. Write. ;)

    Kids should ALWAYS take first priority. They are our most precious gift from God. BUT... we can work around just about anything if we plan just a little ahead.

    I would rather write than watch TV or clean. My house reflects that.

    But no one who comes to my house is a dirt snob so it doesn't matter, right? If you can make the place presentable for unexpected company in twenty minutes, it's not really dirty. Just... lived in.

    Keep plugging for those short spurts. I actually called someone yesterday to have them write down a line that will be the basis for the book I'm starting today because it came to me somewhere along I-80...

    But I couldn't write, LOL, and I didn't want it to drift away!

  19. Two Cindy "W's"...

    This is a great day!!! ;)

    Cindy W, country bear, yeah, that's it. No excuses. Plot your time and your work. And I'll provide the coffee and hugs. Anytime you need them, sweet thaaaang. ;)

    Cindy Woodsmall, great day yesterday! I popped in early because I was leaving and hoped to get back but couldn't. You give me hope that my Amish stalking days are not in vain!!! ;)

    What do kids know anyway???? Thanks for playing with us, your work is lovely. Just lovely.

  20. Ruth, I have been known to sermonize secularly with my kids as my audience for LOTS of reasons. But I was a pastor and church worker for years, as well as a writer for Upper Room publications, mainly in Alive Now.

    When I was writing for Alive Now, I knew the themes in advance so was constantly writing. There were no excuses.

  21. 'Mornin', Sherrinda!

    Yup, 4:00 to 6:30 AM is writing time.

    Then kids arrive and I do daycare until 5:30 P.M.

    I can hop into Seekerville occasionally during the day, or answer e-mails if the little ones are napping, but no writing gets done then. You have to be able to think to write, and who can think with adorable little kids running around? And they're so stinkin' cute.

    Then at night I edit... plot... plan... answer e-mails, do art fact sheet research, research for new books, etc.

    Saturdays I have more writing time in the A.M., but I also mentally plot throughout the day (and night, actually, I think we actually do plot as we twilight sleep) so they help me to push the word count up.

    Teenagers.... Hmmm.... I can't write with people bustling around, either.

    Try the early morning. Try 5:00... see how that goes. I'm a morning person, so 4:00 worked for me. If you're a night owl, then muzzle the kids. Find a quiet spot. Drug 'em.

    (kidding, do NOT get your panties in a bunch. Oh my stars...) ;)

  22. Karen, I love that tip on military history stuff! That rocks, girlfriend! S-W-E-E-T!!!

    And you should print this off (my bossy nature imposing itself) and hang it beside your computer...

    It helps to have visuals to make us not shrug things off. Glynna made me a great collage of my work as if it was published and sent it to me a couple of years back. I love that thing. It made me believe that I had a chance in spite of being knocked around a bit. Visuals are good reminders.

    I'm having a Jeter visual right now.


  23. 'Mornin' Audra!!!


    Yup. Git 'er done, Just do it...

    Whatever it takes.

    Go for the gold.


    There is no try. There is only do or do not. (Yoda)

    Climb every mountain...

    When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window....

    I'm making myself ill. :)

    Need more coffee.

    Audra, the 2-3 books a year is the most important part though, right? And Harlequin even supports that in their advice to their writers...

    The best way to BUILD YOUR READERSHIP is by writing the best books possible again and again.

    Huge. Write. Write. Write. And do not let things smack you down. 24 hour rule still applies, pubbed or aspiring.

    Then we pull up our big girl panties and move on.

  24. Congratulations on the new grandbaby!

    With my own baby due to arrive in five days, I had to do some major planning ahead to get my current m/s in tip-top shape. I've had a c-section scheduled for June 15 for quite a while now, so I made a daily editing plan to get this puppy done by Memorial Day, just in case baby decided to make an early appearance. Then I took another week to do a final read-through and some more tweaks. Now I can just rest these last few days before my life turns upside down.

    All that to say, I completely agree with your's SO much less stressful this way!

  25. Julie, that's so cool! I love knowing that about you.

    Sermonize to kids???

    Novel idea.

    (ha, play on words, get it?? NOVEL idea????)

    slinking away....

  26. Ruthy, I'm exhausted reading about all of your activities. And thankfully you were ahead of the game. What great advice because we all do know that life happens. Hmmm there must be something in that upstate water that gives you all that energy.

    Congrats on the grandbaby. Lucky and blessed little ones to have you for a grandma. You're too much fun.

    I's so glad Sarah's story is coming out. I loved that story when we were critiquing together. One of my favorites.

    The bagels and lox are yummy with a great cup of coffee. Go girlfriend.

  27. SARAH!!!!!

    I can't wait to find out about this baby! I love babies. Just love 'em.

    And (shh, don't tell Beth I said this...) but doesn't 'Lijah look kind of like a garden gnome????

    And adorable garden gnome, for sure!!! ;)

    Sarah, good girl! Ya gotta plan at least a bit, and since I don't plan out books (a pantser, except I DO plan them mentally, but all that paper, pen, notetaking, velcro-board stuff, sticky notes... way too much work) I do plan out work/time.

    I am not a nice person when I'm stressed, ergo (great word) I avoid stress.

    Pills help.

  28. You're amazing, Ruthy. I'd be dead from stress-related ailments if I had to work that schedule!!!

    But you're right. Must work ahead. I hate procrastinating. Which is why I'm writing book three when book two hasn't been contracted yet! LOL And stressing because I haven't started book two in my other series yet!

    And congrats on the new baby!!! And that picture of binky sharing is TOO FUNNY!

  29. Sandra, aren't these bagels delish?????

    Sandra critiqued the original Waiting Out the Storm when it was The Shepherd years ago. Best critique partner ever... And I LOVE the sheep...

    CRAIG hates sheep. A lot of farmers, vets hate sheep. Sheep are not smart. They're fairly dumb. But they're so docile...

    But dumb.

    And Skeeter... The little girl on the cover. We'll see her again in Made to Order Family..., a little older...

    And I loved writing about the dogs. I love dogs. And poor Gino, he opens the book with the porcupine quills... ouch...

    Sandra has been my only critique partner, God love her. I found her in FH&L and was blessed from day one.

    And Sandra knows how life intervenes.

  30. Mel, nothin' amazing about it, just the accidents of time and opportunity kinda plunked everything into a two-week period...

    Today's book signing for the gals here at the Inn, the lovely pastors of the Salvation Army (have I mentioned that I LOVE the Salvation Army???? that I LOVE what they do quietly every day of the year????) ends most of the trifecta, and then I play catch up and writer next week, all week.

    I seriously do not know what I'd do without Dave and the kids stepping in to help. He's got the daycare little ones today, Jon's got them tomorrow. And they're light days, so that's good.

    But I still couldn't do it without them.

    And Mel, I love that you're jumping into book 3... Down time is wasted time, unless it's totally needed.

    But I usually find that I'm more energized by jumping into a new story and letting a story that's moving slowly 'hang' a bit. Sometimes just letting my brain veg on it helps tremendously.

  31. Ruth,

    You're welcome for the military history tip. That's my day job. So my visuals are Sailors and Marines. :o) If anyone needs details or contact information, just let me know.

  32. You're one impressive lady, Ruthy! Your life makes my head spin! But your advice is solid.

    Congratulations on the release of Waiting Out the Storm! Can't wait to read it. And two 4 1/2 stars--awesome!!!!

    Thanks for the yummy breakfast!


  33. hi ruth,

    a great posting...your grandchildren are adorable :)

    thanks for the chance to read you latest novel.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  34. Goodness! You are one busy lady. I appreciate this post so much because I work full-time and lately, have been unable to get a handle on writing anything - much less working on a ms. So thank you for your suggestions. I would love to read your book!


  35. Gosh, Ruthy, I was ready and rarin' to go this morning, but now I think I'll go back to bed ... you plumb wore me out!! Can't imagine what you do to those darling little kids you watch. WAIT ... you wear them out, right, then they sleep all afternoon so you can write????

    Seriously, I REALLY admire your work ethic and can see how working ahead of the curve is the only way to survive in this publishing game. Now if I can just get caught up enough to try it ... :)


  36. So Ruthy,

    Did you mention frog legs for dinner? Lol

    You've already got me winded just thinking about your day.
    I try to write amid grand children and a couple businesses thank heaven the new business doesn't take abunch of paperwork just set up

    I try not to freak self out about what could, try to remember today has enough problems all it's own and I have to turn that over to God.

    That is vastly becoming my biggest step to stay above the curb.

    But he doesn't always make things easier. No he tends to push me out of comfort zone more

    what's that all about

  37. I'm going to be near a town today.

    Yes...I'm hitching up the buggy.

    Have I mentioned I live a LOOOONG way out in the country?

    I'm hoping they've got Ruthy's latest in the story by now.

    Can't WAIT!!!!

  38. My PLAN!!!

    It's so hard to say because the very fact that I ever got published still seems miraculous.

    I seriously had no hope...a state of mind I highly recommend btw, it waaaay reduces those roller coaster terror ups and downs.

    Hopelessness is underrated.

    So, my plan. I've upped my daily word count...this month only...a sort of private Book in a Month game I'm 2000. I just want to be more disciplined.
    If I could write 2000 words a day, something I'm totally capable of, except for having apparently ADHD, I could write a 90,000 book every six weeks. (okay, I wrote that but it can't be right-seriously? Every six weeks?)
    I would be so fully able to go over the books, polish them, revise, add comedy, add action. But I need them to be DONE first.

    And I want to get ahead. Get a whole series done so I can weave the three books together with some finesse BEFORE the first book goes in and I'm locked into whatever details I put in that first book.

  39. Kirsten, I called you Karen...

    Oops, sorry, girlfriend, I'll correct that until I do it again.


  40. Janet, breakfast is the least I can do. In my spare time, LOL!!!

    That's the fun of cyber food. Poor Dave. He lives on sandwiches. Burgers. And then more sandwiches.

    Thanks, kiddo, I appreciate the kudos!

  41. Karen K, thank you!!! Aren't they adorable boys? Even the garden gnome???? ;)

    You're in, kid.

    And Jules and I are a lot alike in our Irish passion for things, which can be GOOD or BAD.

    Passionate people take too many things to heart. Internalize. And creative, passionate people do that to a higher degree, the "OOOOOOHHHHHHHHH!!!!!" factor.

    So we have to fight that off and adopt a more pragmatic exterior EVEN when we want to do the fightin' Irish leprechaun stance, ala Notre Dame's leprechaun.

    Did I ever tell you guys I KNOW one of the ND leprechauns personally?

    Went to school with my kids. That's my claim to fame. Oh, I saw Nixon once, when I was 13 years old. That's my other claim to fame.

  42. Edwina, good morning!!!!

    So good to see you, girlfriend!

    I know it's hard. I truly know it. So pick what can be let go a little and use that time. Work ahead of that curve.

    In mechanic's terms: pad the brakes, change the tires, check the oil and get a move on!

    You can do this. And on hard days, allow yourself some slack, then come back to it double time the next day.

    And you can always e-mail me and yell at me when necessary. I'm okay with that.

  43. Mary, make sure you take your laptop along on the buggy. Your horse knows the way, so you can write while en route.


    And Mary KNOWS she's my example of how to do it, how to get it done.

    James Michener had a team of people to write his sagas.

    I've got dogs.

    Mary's got cattle.

    But we can do this. I like the 2,000 word/day for this month. And for those of you (probably a good share) who have JUNE as MONTH FROM YOU KNOW WHERE with graduations, end-of-year school things, weddings, showers, etc...

    Make July your 2000/wpd month. You'd be amazed at how easy it is once you discipline yourself.

    And if you only do 1000/wpd, you have a 60K book in 8 weeks.


    That's a Love Inspired book. Or a Heartsong-and-a-half.

    Anything is possible.

  44. Your life sounds as busy as mine, Ruth. Except for the grandbabies- and the speaking- and the publisher events. One day though. (Except the grandbabies- I would like to wait until my children are old enough for that!)

    I've recently started working ahead a little. One thing I've learned as a teacher is to get lots done during the summer months to offset what I'm too tired to push through during the rest of the live-your-life-crazy months.

    I've also had to learn how to leave work at work and compartmentalize what must be done. If I have to stay a little longer at work to get something done, then I do. That is better than bringing it home because then my job can't push out my writing time.

    Would love to read your new book.

  45. Ruth,

    No problem! There's a retired Captain who calls me Karen everyday no matter how many times I or someone else corrects him. It's turned into a joke in the office. I just thought you guys knew each other! ;o) I've actually been trying to work the situation into one of my m/s. He doesn't know that someday he'll be immortalized.

  46. Wow. I feel like a really lazy person now after reading your busy schedule. I need to step up my game BIG TIME. :)


  47. Dianna, you've got it! I think teachers learn to be very smart about this, about getting the work done at work, and making home, home.

    So much easier that way! Same thing with writing, we just double up when needed, and move along steady the rest. I really believe it's that steady day by day plodding that makes all the difference.

    And coffee. And chocolate. Lots of both.

  48. That's hysterical Karen/Kirsten/Kristen/Kiera

    Oh my stars...

  49. LOL, Angela!!!

    Okay, kid, you're on! I'm clocking you in!

  50. Ruthy,

    Congrats on your grandchild. I don't know how you work it all in. (Actually, I do. You plan it...and better than I do.)

    Even though I'm still working on selling my first two books, one author I know told me I was ahead of the game because I had started another book. I keep hearing that as one o the keys to success. Sometimes, I get caught up in my last book becasue I want to improve on it. At the same time, I need to move on.

    As for the contest, do I really have a chance to win a Ruthy book. Could my heart take it if it actually happens? Oh my. I'm not sure. But, I'll leave the e-mail anyway.


  51. My head is spinning and I'm hyperventilating! Someone stole my oxygen and I think it was Ruthy! I have this vision of you as a whirling wind funnel -- just a blur zipping across the state hither and yon.

    I bet if we watch the news tonight we'll hear strange meteorological phenomenons which will be puzzling all the weathermen both north and south of the border, but anyone who visited seekerville today will know it was only Ruthy taking care of business!


    Just out of curiosity -- how long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?

    I'm due for a few weeks of holiday soon. I think I'll try for a 2000 a day word count and see what happens.

  52. Wowwee. 51 comments and it's not even afternoon yet.

    Must be a Ruthy post! ha!

    All this and time to shake and bake virtual food too?

    Do you keep an eye out for nearby phone booths? Sheesh woman, I'm pooped just reading your schedule!

    To the content...

    Yes ma'am. Guilty. Need to get on with book 2 while book 1 is being molded and "perfected".

    Please DO enter me - may at maythek9spy dot com

    Enjoyed your first, looking way forward to 2nd!

    Now, go take on the day... :)
    And enjoy those wee ones!!

    PS - What a blast to have had you involved in a wedding. Are you still friends with your brides? Bet so! Clever too. More readers!

  53. Well, Ruthy...
    I am quickly becoming your number one fan as well as your old classmate - and I haven't read your books yet!

    To the wonderful breakfast menu this morning I am adding Elk jerky from west Texas...something to chew on...(get it?).

    My best advice is - block in time to write AND time to learn from others. It needs two separate blocks every day. A newbie me, needs to be doing both but not just one or the other.

    I have made my writing my "down time" of the day when I am not usually productive. If I just place "bottom in chair"...also known as BIC two hours of writing will become three or four hours.

    Then I need a time for editing so that I forge ahead and stop looking at the first few chapters over and over ad nauseum.

    Is your heroine really a Slocum? Great name choice! The Slocums in my family tree are amazing people!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you and all of Seekerville for all of the useful info and the encouragement.

    khurst5476 at yahoo dot com

  54. Boy, did I need this kick in the pants today. I'm going to turn off the computer and head to the library to get a couple thousand words written. Thank you!


  55. What an inspiring post, Ruth! Thank you for sharing your year and your awesome techniques for "gettin' 'er done!" Blessings to you!

  56. Hi Ruth:

    Do you know if Harlequin can do a second run of “Waiting Out the Storm”? The Woman’s World mention alone should sell out a complete print run! BTW: If had known “Waiting Out the Storm” was going to get so much favorable mention, I’d have given it a better review. : )

    Also, I was born in Rockville Centre. By any chance, will you drive through there today? That would be cool.

    I have one pressing question: Is there going to be a “Say Yes to the Dress” theme North Country story? Talk about drama! Talk about dialogue. From last week's show: “That’s just not the dress I envisioned my brother’s wife wearing on her wedding day.” Fiction is never this funny.

    Have a great day!!


  57. Oh Mylanta, Ruthy!!!

    You are amazing!!! And prolific. I'm impressed, although I know you're just trying to out produce Mary!!! Right?

    Great post with lots of wonderful advice. All of a sudden, I think I can write a book in a day...could it be? And that positive attitude came from reading how you structure your life. No wonder everyone wants you to be a motivational speaker at their conventions!!!

    You're fantastic! And we can claim knowing you before all the fame started. Now that's so cool.

    Congrats on the new release and the 4 1/2 stars!!! Awesome! And well deserved!

  58. Talk about staying ahead of the curve... I'll never catch up on grandchildren this way.

    Congrats on Mackenzie and Yankees tickets and hanging out on LawnGuyland and a great review in RT. PLUS an shout out in Women's World? You're amazing!

    Have a great time with the cowboys! I'll get there one of these years, but you've just given me one more reason to spend my weekend writing!

  59. Mary said -- I seriously had no hope...a state of mind I highly recommend btw, it waaaay reduces those roller coaster terror ups and downs.

    Hopelessness is underrated.

    I can dig that.

    My husband says I should hope more

    I get queasy.

    I've been working on word count. Trying to get a 100

    Maybe I should I up that. LOL

    2000 could be doable. When I reach that a day can I just stop... or do I have to finish a thought?


    Ruth, I'm still waiting to hear about those frog legs??

  60. LOL, Tina P! Maybe up your word count a teensy bit. But hey, I appreciate your attempt to make me feel speedy! :-)


  61. Kathy, great point that we need to not only write, we need to learn more about the craft.

    You write when you feel you're the least productive? That intrigues me. Tell me more.


  62. I do whatever I can to encourage others, Janet.

  63. Oh mylanta indeed!!! Ruthy's work ethic puts us all to shame. Plan? PLAN???? What is a plan? Isn't that a four-letter word? What is that adage about humans making plans and God laughing? Well, that's about how it works in my life anyway!

    Oh, and I remember way back in the dark ages of pre-publication, Ruthy and I traded critiques a couple of times, and I GOT TO READ THE EARLY CHAPTERS OF HER NEW BOOK!!!! I bet she's forgotten that. Or wishes she had. See, her book got published in spite of my "help."

    I'm back from lunch with a writer friend at El Chico and I am stuffed! Now to get the brain in gear and see if I can match Mary's 2000 words today.

    Probably not.

  64. Ruthy, I'm too tired to comment. Your post wore me out.


    Great post and great kick in the rear! I hope you're having a grand time with the Salvation Army folks!!

  65. Kav, I'm cracking up, waiting for that strange weather report out of NY. LOL

  66. Hey Ruthy,

    What a force of nature you must be! Wow. I compare myself to the tortoise in the story (you'd be the hare). I'm slow moving but I get there eventually.

    Did you wave to me when you were up in my neck of the woods? I live about a half hour away from Toronto. Hope the weather wasn't too bad for you. It's been very odd this week, rainy and very cool.

    Can't wait to read your second book. I know it'll be even better than the first! Thanks for the kick start - you are absolutely right on!


    sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

  67. Wow, Ruth, you are amazing! Thanks for the rundown on your schedule. I did not know you had a daycare and I am even more impressed than I already was.

    Now, let me assure you, my panties were not wadded in a bunch. I knew someone who had 6 kids (this was back in the 70's when this happened) and she would line them up before church and dole out the Bendadryl...or was it paregoric back then? I don't know...anything to keep those kids quiet during the sermon! lol

    I think I may have to get up early to do my writing. It makes more sense for me, I think. I'll let you know how it works...or doesn't. :)

  68. Sarah, only five days to child bliss!! Enjoy the new one. Cuddle, kiss and stare in wonder at the miracle of birth.

    Praying for a safe delivery and healthy baby!

  69. Melanie glad you're jumping ahead.

    After looking at all the revisions Melissa had suggested for Book One, I'm definitely trying to follow her guideline and create a book that doesn't take so much tearing apart!

    Let's start a production line of series books. Write them out of order and make people wonder : )

    Mel, I keep forgetting to tell you how much I like your new picture : )

  70. WOW, girl!
    I am totally rrrreved up to write!

    I get up at 5am, but by 6am (when I have to get me and my children ready for school and work) I'm not ready to quit. That's when I've hit my stride.

    I look at the 4am you get up, and cringe, but if that gets me more time...bring it on!

    Congratulations on the new grandbaby :)
    She sounds like her grammy. :D
    Pushing the deadlines, getting here early...hehehe

    I love the idea of doing the work ahead of the curve. You never know what's around that curve.

    Preparing for rain, so to speak.

    I loved your enthusiasm, and I can't wait to read your newest book!

    my email:

    thanks, honey! I needed the encouragment today.
    You gave me the punch I needed :D
    Have a good one, dear.

  71. Kathy H, isn't it incredible how words can just snowball off your fingers when you sit down and really get into a scene? Soon 2 hours become 4

    And Tina P, 100 words will become 1000 working their way up to 2000.

    It's just pulling the plug on that internal editor that gets me every time : )

  72. I searched for Ruthy's book and it wasn't there yet. I know it's JULY but I thought it might be early. There have been some sightings, right Ruthy?

    I did find CherylWyatt's latest, Steadfast Soldier.

    YAY! I will dilligently continue to search for Waiting Out The Storm. :) I've got my hand on my heart as I type this...which is awkward. Makes typing hard.

  73. Great post today, Ruthy! You baby-sit, you blog, you write, you speak, you cook, you keep Dave happy, you...

    Goodness, what is it you DON'T do????

  74. Janet D. Thanks for your question!

    I get up with 12 1/2 things on my mind! If I get my lists made and start in on it my day goes more smoothly. I use the morning to accomplish what has to get done around the house and catch up on chores, errands, meetings, email and blogs. It frees my mind. I get my exercise right after lunch, so once I start to write my mind is clear of all other demands. It frees my creative juices.

    My habit was to read and nap in the afternoons because I had some health problems. (Got oxygen anyone? I now live at 6,700 feet!) But I am feeling well now and ready to devise a more rigorous schedule.

    Starting to keep a sacred block of writing time every day is a new concept for me. It is working out well to my delight! I can do about 800 words a day on my middle grade novel. So I am hoping to finish it this month. We'll see!

  75. Ruthy,

    Thanks for the awesome post. I'm good with meeting nonfiction deadlines because they are "real."

    Contests have been the way I meet fiction deadlines, but it's gotten too expensive and it doesn't really get the whole book written
    :( I've had some first readers which created a sense that I was writing a story for them, but I don't have any right now.

    This is a good topic, to think through what has worked and what hasn't and what is new to try.

    I'd love to win the book
    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo

    I couldn't be more pleased at your success! It couldn't happen to a nicer lady or more enthusiastic, supportive contest judge....

  76. Oh my, I was without Internet last evening when I got into Manhattan...

    So nice to "SEE" everyone here!

    Walt, the picture of you with heart failure is too good to pass up. Have your battery-operated defibrillator handy... ;)

    Kav, hyperventilating is actually GOOD for you. Clears the sinuses!!!


    And funny you should mention meteorological abnormalities... No sooner had I left the Inn at East Wind yesterday, than mega storms blew in, raging electrical parades, tornado alerts, etc., extending along the eastern tip of the Island...

    It's kind of fun to think I have that level of causative effect, isn't it? (laughing out loud, I really prefer thinking I make the SUN SHINE... but my mother used to tell me my temperament was like a mid-summer's day: Sunny with a high chance of pop-up thunderstorms.)

    K.C.: You're in. And I do still hear from and/or see some of my brides. Most have kids by now, and I actually have two of those kids in occasional daycare. (school-age, so not every day)

    And I'm planning some fun wedding books because weddings are nothing if not SOOOOO EMOTIONAL and over the top HYSTERICAL.

    A Spa gal gave me some good insight yesterday which plays well into the wedding ideas. Brides aren't always "Bridezillas" but you get enough of that drama to make it fun to chuck fun at. What a terrible sentence that is.


  77. Kathy, elk jerky sounds wonderful. I love jerky. Peppered, especially. It's Dave's fault, he got us started on it. The Easter Bunny (yes, I know, it's ridiculous, but he still visits this God-loving household) leaves jerky in the baskets. And Santa leaves jerky in the stockings...

    But I've never had elk jerky. Sounds great. And totally holistic.
    Whatever that means.


    But look at you, you've seen the error of your ways, gotten healthier (seriously, kidding, I'm SO GLAD you're feeling better, but it's fun to tease you. From a distance...) and you're using time that had been kind of useless for good stuff. Keep at it.

    And feel free to e-mail me for encouragement. Kicks. Whatever.

    And don't hate me, but Sarah is the only good "Slocum" in the bunch. The rest are pretty nefarious...(SAT word-of-the-day, use it in a sentence starting: NOW!!!)

    But Sarah's totally wonderful. You'll love her. ;)

  78. Debbie and Jill, you're so welcome...

    Pound those keyboards. And you're both stinkin' adorable, so imagine those pretty faces gracing the cover of a book.


    And did you try some of the jerky? It's really good... Sorry... talking with my mouth full....

  79. Vince, I loved your review of "Waiting Out the Storm". The whole Jeter/home run analogy...



    And I do believe I'm going to the Yankees/Houston game tonight. As long as Zach gets tickets on Stub Hub.

    Have I mentioned how much I love the Yankees? Today, I mean???

    Thank you, Vince. Your friendship is a blessed thing to have, and I mean that most sincerely.

    You rock, Dude.

  80. Susan Mason, I did wave to you while we were stuck in traffic on the Gardiner for more hours than I would have thought possible.

    E-mail me and tell me there's a better way to get into the awesome center of Toronto than taking the only east/west road that brings tens of thousands of people into all venues... With no roads south because it's on the north shore of Lake Ontario...

    Or give me the city planner's address and he and I will TALK....

    Rogers Centre was beautiful, Dave and I walked around and met people (I'll talk to anyone... Dave has long since learned to just smile and nod... smile and nod...)

    And I got a cool idea for book conflict while walking your harbor front, so that made the traffic snafu worthwhile.

    Gorgeous city. Just beautiful, Susan.

  81. Kelly, it's amazing, seriously amazing, what that extra hour will do. And as long as I get to bed by 10:00, it works.

    Although the occasional 9:30 is better, LOL!

    And I HATE TO STOP at 6:30, but I do because I have to... and then I hit it fresh next time. It really, truly works for me. Try it and then tell me how it goes. And it's easier to try it at this time of year because dawn is early so it doesn't feel so "middle of the night-ish".

  82. Mary, it IS available on

    Let's try a live link:

    Get it <a href=" /”>Here</a>

  83. How come my live links never work?

    What am I doing wrong?

    Why is Mary Connealy that much smarter than I am?

    And why is she better looking?

    Questions only a giving and loving universe can answer...

  84. Cathy Shouse, bless you back! Thank you for your kind words. You made my day!

    And the contest judge thing? About being nice????


    We don't want word to leak out. :)

  85. Ruthy--I received my copy of Waiting Out The Storm in the mail. Thank you so very much! I'm going to start it VERY soon.


  86. Courtney, sweet!!! Let me know what you think of it.

    I'm strong.

    I can take it.


  87. Ruth, I've downloaded your first book to my iPhone to read on a cruise next week, so I'd love the chance to win your second one.

    valerie at valeriecomer dot com

    How to stay ahead? I don't multi-task really well, but I do have a novel in idea form and one in writing or editing form at all times. So I bring one to the next level, then grab another and bring it forward, too.

  88. Valerie, I do that too. It keeps me surging ahead, even if it's just a mental state.

    It's a huge help to me!

    And YAY!!!! I hope you love your cruise (brat!) and Winter's End.

    Do not eat too much (yeah, right), enjoy the sights (and the vendors.... shop, shop, shop...) and revel in your down time while you read.


  89. You sure have a great writing ethic & thank you for telling your story & sharing your tips. I always enjoy reading about how other writers manage to get so much done!