Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Five Book Collision

I had a strange experience in May. I had what I think of as a Five Book Pile-up. Or maybe better to call it a Five Book Collision. I came up with Five Steps to Survival.

It was a crazy, hectic time that I don't expect to see repeated. I hope.

A five book pile up that included…

1. Revisions for Ten Plagues, a romantic suspense I'm writing under a pseudonym, coming in October. I got it with a note that it was due asap.

2. Revisions for In Too Deep, book #2 of my Kincaid Brides Series. Coming in January, revisions due June 1.

3. Galley edits for Out of Control. These are the last edits. Nothing substantial gets changed. I just get one last chance to read through the book and catch small mistakes, typos, other small errors.

4. Release of my May book, Deep Trouble and all the attending blog interviews and marketing that goes with the launch of every book.

5. And of course, my wip, which is Over the Edge, which isn't due for a while. You know I have a rule that I write 1000 words a day seven days a week on my wip, right?

So, how to handle a five book pile up.
I prioritize.
I figure out what is most urgent.
I put in longer hours.
I work smarter and faster and give up every distraction.

First, there is no let-up in the book launching. I try so hard to be a good guest on other people's blogs just because I appreciate it so, so much when we get great guests who stop in and respond to comments here on Seekerville. So that bounces along through the day, almost every day. Add in that many of those blog interviews include give always and I'm trying really hard to keep up and get the books in the mail. Mainly because I'm so disorganized I'm terrified to let any time lapse between the notice I get of who the winner is, and getting the book out into the mail.

Beyond the interviews, I had to figure out how much time I had and how to get everything done in that time. I had to fix my attention on Ten Plagues. I put in long days and as my first romantic suspense ever, I really want it to be a good book. I want to deliver something that is well done and I can take pride in. So I listened hard to the editors because their suggestions, all sixteen pages of them, were right on. It's a much better book for their hard work.

I got it done first. I sent it in, got a few notes back for further changes, to credit my editor, she was working just as fast as I was, responding quickly to me with any questions she had.

As soon as that was out into cyber space I turned my attention to the galley for Out of Control, that came in with a date that was before the revisions for In Too Deep. To give credit here, the galley was wonderfully clean. I had minimal changes. I still had to read it though, and read it carefully. So there was no chance to skim through that job. And as the first book in a new series, as well as the first book for a new publisher, I want so much for the book to do well. I'm giving it my very best effort, although I'd like to think I give all of my books my best effort.

As soon as the Out of Control galley was handed in, I turned to the revisions for In Too Deep. I had until the end of June for them. I wanted more life in the book, more action. I had action scenes but it takes a lot of revision to get them to come to life as well as I want. So even with the clock ticking, I went over it and over it and over it. I also had a couple character arc issues and those take a fair amount of finessing, to find the places where my heroine is close to solving all her problems, then to find a scene a bit later where the heroine is backsliding to her old self. Now that's okay to do, but there needs to be a reason, not just me being inconsistent.

That book when out a week early because I was determined to turn it in early and I managed, though not AS EARLY as I'd hoped when the collision began.

At that point I turned back to my WIP, which I'd ignored totally, breaking my 1000 word a day rule.

So there's my advice. I suppose I should add in another step in this process. Don't panic. There isn't time for panic.

So, five steps to surviving a five book pile up.

1. Don't Panic

2. Prioritize

3. Work longer

4. Cut distractions (I define this as being nice to people, who has time for THAT?)

5. Dig deep and focus…do NOT let shiny objects distract you.

And here is an bonus sixth step.

6. Take occasional moments to whine to my Seeker buddies, so that they can all mock me and tell me to count my blessings and get the heck back to work.

So anyone got hints for when life gets to be too much? It's not a condition exclusive to published authors. There are all kinds of demands. And no, I don't take a split second to relax and let Calgon Take Me Away…..I barely have time for the all too rare five minute shower. And I've found that minimizing showers helps with that dratted need to be nice to people mentioned in step three.

And just for fun here are some pictures from RWA in NYC.
There are many more on my facebook page. But I thought it would be fun to add a few here.
At the Algonquin Hotel.
Famous as a gathering place for literary types.
The Algonquin Round Table was a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits.
I feel like we Seekers only added to the legend.
Left to right, the very young and beautiful Mary Guisti (Debby's daughter), Janet Dean (also young and beautiful of course, as are we all) Tina Radcliffe, Me, Cara Lynn James and Debby Guisti.
This is my cowboy husband with me in the big city.
And that is our limo right behind us.
(okay, I lied, I'm lucky the driver didn't run over us for getting too close)

This, left to right
The young, beautiful and slender Keli Gwynn...a Seekervillager
Another friend of Seekerville, the young, beautiful and slender Anne Barton, moments before she is awarded the Golden Heart
And me, in a freak photography snafu, somehow photographed as an enlargement.
I'd say that's running about 1.5 normal size.
Or maybe it's like one of those fish pictures,
where they hold the fish closer to the camera while standing at arm's length behind it.
Something happened here to make me tower over this young women!!!!!

This is me, Debby and Janet standing in front of a restaurant named ... ahem ... Heck's Kitchen

And this is the night of the Golden Heart-Rita Awards.
I'm on the right.
Super Agent Natasha Kern is next.
To the left is Missy Tippens ready to accept the award for Pam Hillman.
I didn't get a photograph of the moment but...
when Pam didn't win, the always gracious Southern lady, Missy stood up and yelled,
"Oh, yeah!!!???
Well, Pam Hillman SOLD,
It was a beautiful moment and I tear up every time I think of it.


  1. ROFL!!!! Did Missy really say that? I would totally believe it! She pretends she's this nice pastor's wife but really she's quite wild! ;)

    WOW you handled that pileup so well, Mary! Congrats! I'm in my own pileup right now (only 3 deadlines) so hopefully I'll handle it as well as you did!

  2. Wow! How busy! It is interesting to hear what all goes into writing a book and we end up reading it in 1 day and moving on to the next book on our ever-growing shelves. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK!
    I bet it feels good to have the month of June over with.

  3. I'm in awe!

    You forgot to mention you squeezed in a trip to MN and a couple of book-signings, as well as a marathon chat session in a restaurant that is still probably talking about how long we sat there and gabbed.

    You look lovely in NYC, but I'm glad you're back in the mid-west. :D

  4. Erica you are so right. And I don't think I got a THING done that weekend except have fun.


  5. And for those of you using Mozilla you may be deprived of three of those photos. Go to Internet Explorer and Seekerville and you can see the missing photos.

  6. Oh, my stars, how fun! What a hoot, I especially liked the picture of you and Cowboy Ivan in front of the limo with your HAIR blowing across your face.

    Really??? You couldn't pay that vagrant to click one more time with your hair held back? Oy vay. Hicks in the Big Apple.

    FIRST: (well, second, I guess...)LOVE THE PRIORITIZE OF THE FIVE BOOK PILE-UP. So important to realize that these things happen and you've just gotta get 'er done.

    I'm so proud of you. Except for the hair thing. I'm still frowning over that, and I'm running out of anti-wrinkle cream. Dagnabbit.

    AND.... can't wait for Ten Plagues since that book brought you and I together. Kind of. When I slammed it in a contest. (I will never, ever, ever hear the end of that now, you guys GET THAT, right????)

    Oy, again.

    And do not feel bad about looking big against Anne and Keli. I'm kind of embarrassed that you mentioned it, because they're "little people". Really. Elves, most likely, on a secret summer mission from Santa. Perhaps part fey. I'm not sure, but when I met them in Orlando last year, I felt like the Jolly Green Giant and I'm 5'2"... And I TOWERED OVER THEM.

    "Wee folk".

    That's what they are, but I LOVE that our ANNE just shone at the Rita/GH awards. Oh my stars, just awesome!

    All right coffee's on, breakfast is high protein... eggs, bacon, ham, sausage.

    No carbs. Gotta help youse lose NY extras.

  7. Eeek! You're hilarious! Wow on all the deadlines. Thanks for sharing your advice and for the funny picture captions. :-)

  8. Whoa - what a collision!

    When you first saw the impending doom, did you freak out or handle things with cool demeanor :-)

    Having my own little pileup right now - and your tips are definitely noteworthy, Mary.

    Missy - GO GIRL! Let's break the pastor's wife mold! ;-)

  9. Wonderful hilarious peek at how you handle your mult-published life, Mary, and the five book collision you survivied unscathed. Or so it appears. :-) So proud of you and all those books!!!!

    For me right now, revisions/line edits are due Monday and novella proposal a week from Friday. With New York and the 4th I'm pushed to the wall and that's just two books. I stand in awe of you.

    Thanks for sharing your pictures. I'm delighted for Anne Barton's win!! In her acceptance speech she mentioned the Seekers. How nice is that?

    I brought fruit, freshk, organic and delicious. The only kind in Seekerville.


  10. Count me totally impressed. How you got all of that done is amazing.

  11. Ha!!! Missy is a wild woman, I'm sure. It's the quiet ones you have to watch.

    Mary, I am NOT ready for a 5 book pile-up, that much I am sure of. Although I wouldn't mind a 2 or 3 book pile up, because that would mean someone actually bought my Southern book, and maybe that Regency that I'm about to write.

    When I get my first edits, the most substantial ones, (and that's only happened twice so far) I always take about half an hour to panic. Then I settle down and realize how much FUN it is going to be to do these edits. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. I really do love edits.

  12. Mary, you're amazing. I have a book come out July 12th--Love by the Book--and another manuscript due Sept. 1st. And I think that's a lot to handle. Of course Mary and Camy have me beat by a mile!!!

    I'm not sure how you do it all and keep your sanity. Or maybe that's the point!

  13. Great post, Mary!

    When I have a pile it, which is always, I handle them in various ways. #1 is always prioritize. Now and that #1 means ignoring everything long enough to restore my sanity.

    Love the pics! :D

  14. Oh, wow, Mary, what a pile-up! I've had a few of my own, but nothing to THAT extent! YIKES!

    Once I got published, those pile-ups became regular occurences--you're working on your WIP (with a deadline), writing your next proposal (with a deadline)and doing revisions, edits, final AA proofing, and completing art fact sheets(also all with deadlines). And that's with only 2 books a year--not the 3 or 4 or FIVE some of the Seekers have colliding. Nor does it include the million and one writing-related things you have to do outside of the commitments to your publisher. Or the non-writing things that require your attention. Taking a DEEP BREATH and prioritizing is definitely the name of the game.

    And thanks for sharing the RWA pics, Mary! Love 'em!

  15. Mary, is this the first reveal for In Too Deep?

    Love the cover!!

  16. Yes, Mary, tell us...did you freak out or handle it with calm.

    I have my tape recorder ready.

  17. Time for tea and dishes! Ugh! Talking about a pile up. I can do a dishwasher load everyday and my kitchen is still a mess! How does that happen?

  18. A five book pileup? Yikes! Is this what we all have to aspire to???

    One's just about to do me in.

    And Missy!!! Thank you for defending my honor. lol Did somebody get the video and post it on Youtube? You'll be famous!

  19. My pictures vanish, Tina? On Mozilla? Interesting.
    I've had pictures vanish on websites and not been able to get them back.....not just my own....also when I'm VIEWING other websites. I could try a different browser when that happens.

    Keeping in mind I barely know what a browser is.

  20. Ruthy, maybe Keli and Anne have a wee bit 'o elven magic they use to make whoever they're with EXPAND.

    That would explain a lot.

  21. As we've told you all MANY TIMES once you are published there are no longer any troubles. Everything is happy and easy on this side of that stubborn door to publishing.

    Good luck one and all

  22. This is the first unveiling of In Too Deep, releasing February 2012. it's up on Amazon so it is time at last for the big 'reveal'.

  23. Mary,
    The cover looks awesome!
    Nice to see the guys up close. That's always a draw ;-)

  24. Mary, I can just see you reigning supreme in your spacious office, delegating the responsibilities to your many minions like some fairy god-mother "bibbity bobbity booing" your books to completion.

    And you want us to think you live some sort of mundane life where you have to PRIORITIZE?

    Come now, we aren't that gullible...

  25. I think I like the fairy godmother image better. I need a wand. Ruthy, you stole my wand and I want it back.

    I need to turn the mice in my house into footman. That would be a big improvement.

    Do footmen dust?

  26. Mary,
    You are a keeper! Thanks for the great advice. I just pray we will ALL
    need it one day. LOL
    Elva Martin, Anderson, SC

  27. Eeeeeekkkk!!!!

    I just received word that I was chosen for 100% scholarship to Ted Dekker's Ragged Edge Conference next month!!!

    I'm SO excited.

    Snoopy Dance Time!!!!


  28. No words of wisdom, but appreciated your advice Mary. Great photos.

    Jodie Wolfe

  29. Happy dancing with you, Linette!

  30. Mary, you are an amazing person.....glad all that is behind you!! Really enjoyed your post...and hearing about NY is fun. Hooray for Missy!

  31. Linnette,
    Congrats! Love Ted Dekker! Didn't know about his conference. Do tell all! Please?

  32. Jan,

    You have Mary figured out. She's all talk. Yes, her assistants do all the work, and she sits by her pool and sips fruity drinks as the little people work. :)

  33. Loved being with you in NYC, Mary. You looked elegant at the Awards Ceremony. Loved your new evening bag, too. So classy!

    Tina, Cara and I were sitting toward the back of the huge ballroom for the Awards Ceremony and heard Missy! We all nodded and said, "That's our Missy!"

    Perhaps you heard us shouting and whistling and clapping when your name was called. And Pam's. So proud of both of you.

    Congrats to Anne!!!

    And to Melanie, who won the National Readers Choice Award! YAY!

  34. It has been said before, Mary, but you are amazing.

    Five Book Collision and you lived to talk about it. Good for you, girlfriend!

    I, on the otherhand, do not do deadlines well. They make me stressed, and I like to live in peace. But when they do hit, I close down on everything except what needs to be done, sit at my computer and work. Often, I get dehydrated because I forget to drink lots of water. It's not fun and not pretty, but the job has to get done.

    Mary, I think you deserve the Seekerville National Merit Award for Surviving the Biggest Collision! Congrats!

  35. Well, I don't know if Ted has a two day conference this August called, The Ragged Edge. It will be held in Franklin, TN August 12-13 with Tosca Lee and some other close buds of his. teddekker(dot)com/ragged-promo/

    Here's a clip from the site:

    "Two days that could change your life.

    "What does it really take to succeed as a writer? What are the secrets and the pitfalls of a writer’s journey that nobody wants to talk about? Enter an experience that will bare the true nature of the writer’s soul—no videotaping, no recording, just the raw truth. Experience it all through the eyes of Ted and a few of his trusted friends who’ve taken that same journey.

    "They’re going to tell all, up close and personal to one hundred guests who are serious in their desire to succeed as writers.
    Welcome to The Ragged Edge, a two-day journey into the heart of storytelling unlike anything you have experienced before."

    So excited!!! Attendance is really limited, but I think registration is still open if anybody wants to go. I'd love to meet some of you there! That's be so fun! :D

  36. Pam, I tried to get a review copy of Stealing Jake. I was denied, but I think there's a technicality I need to look into. Let me know if you have any answers or suggestions for me.

  37. Okay, I'm totally shutting up now and will NEVER complain again!!! Not after reading what you've just been through, Mare, in your publication schedule. YIKES!!!! I'm too old for this biz!!!

    LOVE the pics, and LOVE what Missy said at the awards ceremony! :)

    Great post, Mare!


  38. Oh my gosh, Linnette, the conference is pricey and you got a scholarship! How cool is that?

    The website info is amazing. Hope you'll blog about it afterwards. I want to hear everything. :)

  39. I have pile ups created by me. How to send a great query letter, work on blog so if I ever send query letter, the recipient will have something to look at, study and see who to send letter to, and polish my finished, unpublished book, and go to work where I actually get a paycheck.
    I'll save time this fall when my youngest sone starts college. I told my hubby I'm giving up cooking to have more time to write. Good thing he gets lunch at his work. I'm good with cereal 2-3 times a day.
    Thanks for sharing.
    I didn't realize your were so funny!

  40. Debbie, it was totally a God thing! I caught a tweet about the scholarship the day before the deadline. So cool! I e-mailed Kevin Kaiser back and told him "thanks" and to tell the committee "thanks" for choosing me. He e-mailed me back telling me welcome and to come say "hi" to him when I get to the conference. :D

    I'll definitely blog about this!!! Yes! And I'll let Seekerville know when I post if there are no objections from the gang.

    So cool! I can't believe it, really. I'm still a bit in shock I think. :D I'll be sure to tell Ted "hello" for you. LOL

  41. Hi Mary!

    I know you told me that June was a crazy month but I had no idea!

    So were you working your "day" too during this time?

  42. Mary, what I want to know is where did you get the cartoon from? Love it! :D

  43. Firstly Way to go Missy.

    and Wow about the pileup. I have to say I LOVED deep trouble in fact I think its my favourite book so far. I am in awe of you you had to do.

  44. Obviously, Mary is still in the middle of her pile up. No sign of her since noon...





  46. Whew Mary, I'm tired just reading all that! lol

    Can't imagine Missy saying that :)

    Great photos! Glad you had a good time in NY, sounds like you really deserved the vacation! :)

  47. Linnette, have a great conference!!! How wonderful to have a scholarship. Conferences sure aren't cheap.

    I'm truly in awe of what Mary does. I have trouble juggling anything. Hard to keep even one ball in the air. But I keep on trying!

  48. Thanks, Cara! And I know what you mean about juggling!

  49. Anyone ever tell you that you have funny moments, Mary Connealy? LOL. Still giggling over the "holding the fish in front of the camra" crack.

  50. A five book pile up.

    Gives me chills.

    Not that I'm in any danger of that happening soon, but still, I've printed off this post and filed it under Survival Techniques.

    You pulled off a great juggling act there, Mary. Kinda like finishing up your homework so you can get a treat.

    Only you finished up 4 manuscripts, with minor injuries to current word count and your reward?

    A trip to New York City with your favorite husband!

    I like those treats : )

  51. You go, Linnette! 100% scholarship! Conferences are so expensive, and especially one with Ted Dekker? What a blessing!

    I'm Snoopy dancing right along with you!!

  52. Beautiful cover for In Too Deep. I'm having a hard time getting used to FACES on your covers.

    Handsome young men, but really, they look like babes!! Ah, my age is showing. Mary, you might have to start pointing some long rifles and fast bullets at the boys and put some character lines on those sweet faces.

  53. Linnette! Congratulations, that is so exciting! Happy for you!

    I love your new covers too, Mary. You have great covers!

  54. Hi, sorry to vanish this afternoon. Life got complicated.
    Congratulations, Linette on the conference scholarship. Sounds like a great one.

  55. Audra, I know what you mean about faces on my covers. But lately I've been seeing so many covers without faces, a face is almost unique. And a guy face besides.
    I'm loving the cowboy covers. YAY!

  56. I need to take a picture of my spectacular evening bag.

    I bought it in a panic because I forgot my evening bag that I have at home.

    Okay, so now you ask....how many evening bags do I need. Considering I don't ever get out of my blue jeans?????

    Certainly not TWO.
    But I'm stuck with them and now I can forget BOTH of them in St. Louis for ACFW and buy yet another one. It can be a tradition.

  57. Congratulations Linnette!
    You are very lucky!
    Enjoy the conference :)

  58. Wow Mary!

    But we get books!!!!!!!!!!!!! So it's all good :D!

    I'll just sit here and wowzers a bit more ;).

    Aug book is preordered. Will likely change it to Kindle but get the rest of the Kincaid books in paperback. And really looking forward to the RS!

    PS If you remember both bags for STL, could I borrow one? I got nuttin...

  59. Linnette!!! That is SO awesome! Congratulations!!!

    Did you try to sign up through Netgalley? I don't have a clue about how to navigate Netgalley. I started to sign up myself (for the other books), but I'm not a reviewer at heart, so didn't want to take a spot that someone else could have.

  60. LOL! Thanks, Audra! :D

    Thanks, Mel and Mary! :D

    Thanks, Pam! Yes, I signed up through Netgalley.

  61. Mary,

    I am humbled by your awesomeness!

    Wow, 5 books. I can't imagine it.

    Thanks for the great tips.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  62. I'm a day late and a dollar short, but thanks for the wonderful post, Mary!! Looks like you had an awesome time in New York :) Can't wait to hear all the details. And read all your new books!!

  63. Love the post!
    GREAT advice, Mary!

    I cut out most blog hopping & visiting last year when I worked at the Silver Spur Guest Ranch in Bandera, TX for 6 months - between the work and editing/promoting work and being on the road back and forth between Bandera & Louisiana, I didn't have the time to visit like I did before - add to that long spells of grief and depression...well you get the picture but I've missed my Seeker freinds!

    Hopefully I'll get back on track visiting you guys/gals.

    Congrats to all with your new contracts and releases - much success to you!

  64. OH MY GOSH!!! I'm so sorry I didn't get by here yesterday. I have no excuse. I just spaced! (Okay, I could blame it on my husband who is on vacay this week, throwing my schedule totally off!)

    Mary, you are soo funny. I just scared the dog, laughing!!!

  65. Actually, Camy, I would have. But I had too much static in my dressing causing embarrassing clingage!


  66. Wow Mary! Five? This is what I got from that, "Be careful what you wish for..."
    Hey Linnette - I'm going to The Ragged Edge Symposium too! Yay.

  67. Thanks for this wonderful post.Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information