Monday, March 27, 2017

Deadline Tales from the Trenches


Day 27 of Speedbo. Once again this is your reminder that Speedbo isn't simply about writing a book. It's about challenging your personal status quo. Your norm. Your comfort zone. 

 Speedbo is about changing your future. You can do much more than you realize and with God's help, your vision can come to pass. "God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or imagine." Ephesians 3:20-21



Just so you know that you aren't alone, I bring you deadline tales from the trenches. Tales from some of your favorite authors.


Had to be a God thing... I was six weeks from deadline with a book that was not working. After I realized the prince and my heroine had yet to meet and I was on page 192 (ha!) I started over again! But I could muscle up and do it. I had a good feel for what I needed to do. It would take 5k words a day to get it rewritten and submitted on time, or with the few days of grace offered by my editor, but I could do it. Then, bam! Menopause steamrolled into my life. Literally at 2:30 in the morning. I couldn't eat, sleep or think. I was tired, melancholy and at night, I'd tremble. Like a scared pup. Try to sleep when your heart is pounding and your body is quaking! This left me exhausted and as creative as a rock. Worse, I didn't care. I wanted to quit. I'd lay on the Florida room couch in the morning's wee hours and imagine calling my publisher to tell her, "I quit. Done. Outta here." Then I'd wait for the peace to come. It never did. Not in those moments. Only when I said, "Okay God, I'll stick with it." Then the tiniest sliver of light broke through my hormone soaked darkness. Every day, I'd climb the stairs to my office and write 5K words. I had no idea if they were any good. I'd cry in the middle of a scene. And not because the story was so touching. Because I was a mess. With the support of my husband and my publisher, and my writing partners Susan May Warren and Beth Vogt, I lived to write another day. That book went on to earn a Starred Review from Booklist. God, in the midst of my extreme weakness, was strong! He has my heart forever and ever! #keepwriting.  

Rachel Hauck, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author-The Wedding Shop.



It was a dark and stormy night, and my manuscript was due the next day. Hubby, my beta reader, plowed through the pages of the final draft and smiled when he came to the end. “I liked what I read,” he said. “Although I thought the scene you repeated worked better later in the story.” My eyes widened. “You read the same scene twice…in different sections of the manuscript?” He nodded and showed me where he had marked the pages. “Here’s the scene initially,” he said. Then he turned to a later chapter. “And here it is again.” Silly me! I had moved the scene, but I had failed to delete the original text. Thankfully, hubby caught the error. I corrected my mistake and, early the next morning, sent the story to my editor. Wonder what she would have thought about those duplicate scenes? Probably not much. Thanks to hubby, my deadline had a happy ending. 

-Debby Giusti. Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author. Amish Refuge.


While trying to meet one particularly challenging deadline when my kids were younger, they had gotten to point where every evening, one of them would see me at my computer and say, "So we're on our own for dinner again tonight?" :) When I finally turned that book in, you've never seen such happy faces as when I told them, "NO! You're not on your own! Tonight...we're going out to celebrate!" (Who could be expected to cook that first night back to real life?!) I have to say, though, that families are resilient. I don't think my kids are scarred from eating cereal and frozen pizzas near deadlines over the years. :) They're now young adults who are proud of their mom for battling through the tough times to pursue her dream.

- Missy Tippens. The Doctor's Second Chance.



Unfortunately, I have a reputation for writing "doorstopper novels" because my first five books averaged between 150,000 and 160,000 words each. But when my publisher's legal department pointed out my contract called for 120,000 words, my editor was forced to have me cut 50,000 words (almost one Love Inspired book!) from the final novel in the O'Connor saga ... uh, within weeks! How did I do it? I prayed realllllly hard and then whacked away with a machete, plots, and scenes flying everywhere. The good news? I learned I could edit anything in mere days, plus I ended up with a tighter story and two subplots I used in two novellas, so all's well that cuts well.

- Julie Lessman. A Glimmer of Hope (Free Download).


I’ve been on a constant deadline for almost 3 ½ years now. In those years I’ve written and edited 8 ½ books. The constant pressure has taught me a lot. I’ve always been a scatterbrained person prone to forget things. But honestly, I think the constant deadlines have made me more focused, and I actually forget fewer things than I did before I started getting contracts and having deadlines. I try not to make my family suffer just because I’m on a deadline, but they do pitch in a bit more when they know I’m behind and/or the deadline is drawing near.The main thing to suffer is my house. I can’t even tell you when I last did a thorough cleaning. Let’s just say that people are not welcome to just drop by and stay for a visit without weeks of prior notice!  

-Melanie Dickerson.  NYT Bestselling Author. A Viscount's Proposal.



Deadlines can be a tense time. For most deadlines, I don’t get too anxious. When I hit send, I usually feel pretty confident that I did my best. I know that I can still make changes in the round of edits. Except for the FINAL DEADLINE! That’s when anything I miss will be forever out there for the world read. Why’s it in caps? Because that’s when my anxiety reaches an all-time high and I tend to get a little intense. Thankfully, my family has learned to read the signs of Mom-in-deadline. Usually, this period is very short. Like a week. Most times it goes smoothly. But one time, when I was finishing up one of my books for my Amish Country Justice series, I hit a major technology snag. Okay, maybe not major, but it felt like it. I was plodding along when I suddenly saw that my word count had gone down. By around 100 words. Somehow, I had erased an entire conversation. A really important one. I tried the undo key. My cursor flew back to something I had typed pages earlier. My words were gone. I have no clue what happened. I was able to go back to an earlier draft and copy and paste the conversation back in. By that time, I was really panicking. What if I did it again, and didn’t know about it? I finished editing and then sent it off to my wonderful critique partners, who read it to make sure everything was in order and read smooth. They gave it thumbs up. I truly believe that God alerted me to the problem. 

-Dana R. Lynn. Plain Target.


I recently finished a novella for the Classified K-9 Unit continuity series, which started in March. The story is set at Christmas time and I had it in my head the word count was 35k. I’m a heavy plotter so when I was finished with my plot I thought, eek, I have too much story here, so I paired it down and work hard to make the story come in as close to 35k as I could. I ended up a thousand words over. But I was finished early which turned out to be a blessing because it turned out my word count was 30k. Ugh! I was 6k over.  I’ve never had to cut so many words before but over the next two weeks I chopped and chopped until I finally was able to turn the book in on time with the correct word count. Whew! 

 -Terri Reed. Guardian (Classified K9 Unit)


Anyone who knows me will tell you I can be a real spaz. Back in December 2014, I was working on a manuscript that would end up being Her Small-Town Romance. In order to stay on track with my writing goals, I needed to finish drafting the book before Christmas. I didn’t want to spend the beginning of my kids’ Christmas vacation stuck in my office all day, though, so I gave myself a new deadline—the Friday before their break. The day arrived and I still had almost ten thousand words to write. With the help of a large McDonald’s Coke and my trusty M&Ms, I wrote for twelve hours straight. I didn’t even break for dinner. My husband thought I was nuts and slid a plate with some food on it to me around 8pm. I paused for a few bites, but kept going until I typed The End around 10pm. I giggle about it now, but it won’t be the last time I push myself to meet a crazy goal. I’m just wired that way!

-Jill Kemerer.  Hometown Hero’s Redemption.

I started writing when my kids were very young. We set rules early about when Mom was on deadline: Don’t interrupt Mom unless it didn’t stop bleeding, it was obviously broken or someone had lost consciousness and couldn’t be revived. I didn’t realize how seriously they took those requests until the day I was on a writing roll with a deadline breathing down my neck...and I realized it was long past time to eat. I hurried into the kitchen and found them happily dining on the leftovers I’d set aside for that week. Even though they were young—the oldest was only 9—they’d selected the meal they wanted, put it in microwave, and stood on tiptoe to set the time to cook. On one hand, I knew my “Mother of the Year” award wasn’t going to be forthcoming (again!), but I was proud of them for working it out on their own while I got those last couple of hundred words written. So proud in fact, that the book when published—after getting in on time!—was dedicated to the three of them, the “grab-it” meals they’d prepared for themselves and the microwave.

Jo Ann Brown, Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author. A Ready Made Amish Family.



And to protect..everyone, we have a few anonymous tales.


The book was due, and I had three more projects in the queue, which meant I couldn't dilly dally.  I had 30k words and I realized NOTHING was working. The characters weren't working, the story wasn't working, the plot wasn't working. I was shaking. Literally shaking. I asked for a short extension and rewrote the entire book in 22 days. I only kept about 3k words from the original proposal, which meant I wrote 67k in 22 days. Then the flu came sweeping through our house. The book wasn't great, but it wasn't as bad as you'd think. Worst, most miserable experience of my writing life. On the good side, writing a 20k novella in month felt like a breeze after that!  -Anonymous


Once I wrote a proposal with a false engagement, and the editor's notes said that she didn't like how the engagement was written. Misunderstanding the direction, I took out the entire plot line instead of making the engagement more believable (what she meant). I was finishing up the book when the editor asked me for titles. She rejected all the titles and asked for a title that included a reference to the false engagement. The book was due in two weeks. I had to write the plot line back *in* to the book! Lesson learned. When in doubt: Ask.  -Anonymous

I've always believed I was a slow writer. That is until one particular deadline. The story was plotted out. Being stuck should NOT have happened. Yet, it did happen. When the solution finally hit, I wrote twenty-five thousand words in two days. I no longer tell people I'm a slow writer.  -Anonymous.


Deadline Quotes from our Anonymous Authors.

  My son once said, "That's about as believable as when mom says she's going to finish a book before deadline." Sigh. Even the kids know.


My kids don't even blink when they find there is milk in the pantry (instead of the refrigerator) during deadline week. They've learned that mom is there, but not 'there.'


I once fell asleep on the space bar and added 1,011 blank pages to the document. It took a long time to delete all those pages.


I told my husband, "Remember, I'm on deadline this week." He rolled his eyes and said, "How is this different from every other week?"


My children grew up with their mother as a writer on deadline. From an early age, I heard my daughter explain to her siblings that, "Mom is in her happy place." Meaning I was definitely in my head and not on this planet.


An Urban Legend Deadline Tale.

As an unpublished author, new to RWA, I heard the story of a multi-published author who entered the Golden Heart when she was an unpublished newbie. She didn't just enter. She entered by overnighting her entry at what would have been a whopping cost, at the last possible minute. In those draconian days, we had to print out our entry and snail mail them. This nameless legend finaled, and won her category of the Golden Heart and went on to sell that book and many, many more. This tale kept me entering the Golden Heart year after year. And I finaled twice. 

-Tina Radcliffe. Rocky Mountain Cowboy. 
 

Now, in this last week, we encourage you to press on! But before you do, we'd love for you to share your own deadline tale! No matter what the deadline was. Like that time you were late for church and showed up with your shirt inside out. Come on, you know you wanna tell us! Leave a comment for a chance at this fun giveaway!


Card Catalogue Note Cards with Envelopes that look like check out sleeves from old library books. Two winners. A reader and a writer. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition. 








This post was brought to you by Tina Radcliffe. Sign up for her monthly newsletter here. The next one goes out on April 13 and is guaranteed to make you smile.







Don't forget that the end of Speedbo means revising. You can sign up for Tina Radcliffe's month-long self-paced class, Self-Editing for Beginners, that runs April 3-28 here.  If you have already taken the class, you can audit for free if you need a refresher. Just email Tina.

242 comments :

  1. Okay, I wish I know who fell asleep on their space bar, I got a real kick out of that one!

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    1. I will 'out' myself! That was me :)

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    2. Okay, Sherri you win the snort award! lol

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    3. Sherri, I would have loved to see your reaction when you woke up!

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  2. LOL. Me too. Names have been hidden to protect the not so innocent.

    Cracked me up when I first read it.

    Happy Monday! I'm so excited to hear everyone's deadline faux pas that I brought...wait for it...chocolate stuffed croissants.

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    1. Yummmm But you're not sharing your peeps????

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  3. Awesome. I do better with deadlines but it seems I can't help pushing the envelope. Several times in college I went a day and night and a day with no sleep while finishing projects for my art classes. There's a kind of euphoria fueled by adrenaline that eventually wears off right in the middle of the next class... once I fell asleep on a stool in the middle of a ceramics demonstration.

    Stay strong Speedbo-ers! The end is in sight ;)

    I'd love to be entered in the giveaway!

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  4. Oh, my goodness, Heidi. I see you now with wet clay on your nose. So you're an artist??? How wonderful is that??

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    1. It was such a fun major. My favorite class was bookbinding!

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  5. I really identified with one of the stories - the anonymous when nothing was working. I recently had to cut 6,000 words of a 20,000 word novella. Ouch! But it was boring as peeling wallpaper. My revised version is moving right along and I'm much happier.

    And will the author who fell asleep on the space bar please step forward?

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    1. Please enter me in the drawing.

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    2. LOL. He or she is wearing the cloak of anonymity for a reason.

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    3. I love that your new draft is so much better. I go through that all the time, and maybe because I'm a pantser??? But I figure I don't spend time pre-planning scenes, so if I take a day or two to rewrite, it all evens out....

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    4. Same here. Many, many times I'll flip on the all caps button and type THIS IS SO BORING!!!! I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THIS IS GOING!!

      I just hope that I always remember to remove those notes before sending off to my editor!

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    5. Way to go! Cut those useless words! It's hard but makes our stories so much better!

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  6. Love all these stories!

    I rang my critique partner three weeks before Can't Help Falling was due to be turned in to my editor and confessed "I have 80,000 words but I have no idea what my hero's goal is!"

    I'm now six days away from turning in my latest manuscript, I have 85,452 words and yup, you guessed it, still no idea what my latest hero wants! I really hope he works it out tonight!

    (I also really really wish I was a plotter!!)

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    1. My darling double RITA nominee... I'm so glad you're doing something right! :) Congratulations!!!

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    2. I love this! It makes me seem so....NORMAL!!! hahahaha!

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    3. Yes, hard to feel sorry when you've doubled the Rita nomination. LOL And it is funny that the pansters love this.

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    4. Kara, sorry that your recalcitrant (<<< wow, did I spell that correctly on my second try??? Feeling so proud!!) hero is making us all feel better about our own deadline woes.

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    5. Kara, Susie and I can teach you the SEQ! The Story Equation. It works for pantsers! :) But you're doing great with your process you double RITA award finalist!

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  7. I love these, they made me laugh... I tend to be ahead of the game, I work better that way, and I'm not a procrastinator at all... and I've got this HUGE family, with the normal drama, so if I'm behind at all and something happens, I'm sunk... so I work ahead.

    It's either that or self-medicate!!!
    And the anonymous feature, LAUGHING!!!!

    Understandable!

    Hey, I brought a fresh chocolate chip cookie cake to share. If you gave up sweets or cookies for Lent, grab some bagels and cream cheese. I wanted to cover all the bases.

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    1. I'm with you, Ruthy! I get panicky if I'm not ahead of the game. I will take a bite or two of your cookie--yummy!

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  8. I loved reading these! Since I'm so paranoid of being late or falling behind, like Ruthy, I'm typically early with deadlines, appointments...everything.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not alone!!! :) I went to the Margaret Daley school of timing and her example taught me this... and if you're the kind of person who works well under pressure, I totally get it, but I like to script out my time so I can spread it around... Again, so I don't make myself or this nice family crazy. Well. MORE CRAZY!!!!

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    2. Good for you ladies, and sometimes life still gets in the way and it's really good to be able to admit that in my safe place. Seekerville!!!

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    3. Me too, Jill and Ruthy! But like Tina says, sometimes life happens. Ugh!

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    4. I so get this! I set deadlines with my editor, and then I set my own deadline which is usually at least two weeks earlier...just so I can build in time for family "surprises." So my poor family lives through each deadline twice -- mine and then my editor's...because I like to celebrate surviving both. Makes no sense, so I've given up trying to make it do so.

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  9. Loved reading the deadline tales. Will return later to re-read. I'm on the last day of a three week blitz of seemingly non-stop deadlines. Need a final read through today of my AAs that will hit my editor's desk before close of business. Then I will breathe a huge sigh of relief and continue to thank God who proved, yet again, that nothing is impossible with him.

    Hug!

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    1. Deb, the edits and revisions are the things that sometimes push me to the timing edge because we don't always know when they're coming... and then they drop in with a quick turnaround, which is fine, but then I have to jump into high gear... So that gets dicey!

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    2. Good to know I'm not alone! :) Despite following a strict writing schedule, live happens. Things you can't control. I've sometimes had a proofreader standing by the night before a deadline to read as printed out the final chapter.

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    3. That was SUPPOSED to be LIFE happens.

      Is anyone else having trouble with your comment appearing under a previous comment even though it was intended ot be "independent" and you haven't clicked on the "reply" that's a part of someone else's comment? That happened to me over the weekend. Today I could see that was happening again and logged out totally. But it still did it to me.

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    4. Exactly, Glynna! Despite plans, computer die, laptops steal manuscripts. Kids vomit on your hard copy. It's good to be able to laugh at yourself.

      Or in the words of Douglas Adams..

      “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

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    5. You've got this Debby!! Go, go!!

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    6. Debbie, where would we be without Him? #goBucks!

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    7. Thanks for all the support, ladies! The AAs left my computer, heading for NYC, about ten minutes ago. Now must try to un-glue my body from this chair and take a walk, if my legs still work. :

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    8. Debby I've been hearing the "D" word from you so often. Are you REALLY finally caught up? Of course there's always another book, but maybe some breathing room??? YAY!!!

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  10. Thanks for the encouraging post, Tina. You make me believe I have a chance to meet my Speedbo deadline.

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    1. God made all-nighters for a reason, Jackie. And it's not just for watching an entire season of The Crown anymore!

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  11. Since we are being painfully honest, I can admit to once being so worried I'd be late for a meeting, I rushed into my closet, slipped my feet into my shoes and ended up at church with two different shoes on. I didn't even notice until two friends looked at me and started laughing. I just stood there saying "What?" before their eyes tracked down and mine did too...groan!

    My favorite deadline was more of a due date. My daughter's delivery date was Jan 5, but on Dec 25, I knew I was going to make that "deadline" with time to spare. What pregnant mama isn't singing the hallelujah chorus when her bundle of joy decides to come 11 days early?!

    I love all the deadline trench confessions, being able to laugh at ourselves is such a great stress reliever! Thanks for the fun post!

    I'm in love with that card catalogue, please write my name on a library card and add to the drawing!

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    1. hahahaha! Oh, that two different shoes was my only deadline error.

      I've accidentally grabbed the wrong tube and put the wrong stuff on my toothbrush in a rush.

      I have tales that can make you cringe. Four kids makes for many a deadline error.

      You are in Tracey!

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    2. Tracy, that is so funny!! Confession: A long time ago, I was so engrossed in a WIP, I forgot shoes altogether and wore my slippers to pick up my kids!

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    3. Tracey, that's hilarious! I've done mixed socks before--navy and black. :)

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    4. that is so funny Tracy. I went to teach at school one day with two different shoes on. I didn't say anything and no one noticed. In all fairness, the 8th graders took up all the space in the room so it was hard to see anyone's shoes. Thankfully. They would have been merciless.

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    5. Tracey, and you got to claim your bundle of joy on your taxes that year. Win-win! :)

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    6. Hey Pam, you think like my husband. After she was born he said, "just in time before the end of the year to add another social security number to our tax return", lol. She has been a huge WIN since she was born!

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  12. I will publicly 'out' myself as the person who fell asleep on the space bar! It took me 40 minutes to erase all those pages. That's the stuff you can't make up!

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    1. hahahahahahaha!!!! Sherri! I wasn't going to tell if you weren't.

      I have my faults..but I CAN KEEP SECRETS!!!

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    2. Oh, Sherri, that one had me cackling out loud! I'm so glad you came forward and claimed it. :) hahahha!

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    3. Also -- I should say that I turned in my story late. I missed the deadline to tell the story about my deadline. Life is hard.

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    4. Sherry, love your deadline story! I used to drift off at the keyboard when I put in late nights, which is kind of unnerving. I mean if my story can't keep me awake.... :-) But then I remind myself that sleep deprivation was the culprit, not a boring story.

      Janet

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    5. bwahahahaha!!!! The spaced bar snooze is hysterical. I've dozed off and pressed the wrong combination of keys and locked my keyboard which isn't any fun but snoozing over the space bar is priceless. :-)

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    6. I can picture it. Great. Kind of like a cat pounncing on a keyboard.

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  13. TINA!!!! I knoooow I say this a lot. BUT...you knocked it out of the park today. I almost choked on my coffee this morning...I mean in a good way, of course.

    Thank you so much for sharing these. So often, we feel like we are the lone dog and kick ourselves over and over again when we fall short. Summoning up the courage to rise and try again, meeting new goals, and reaching new heights is somehow more doable when we realize others experience challenges, too.

    Every time I reach a small goal, I reward myself with a dose of something chocolatey. A really big goal/deadline? THAT calls for a real celebration. (My closet can verify this.) hahaha

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    1. Now I want Junior Mints...I know you love them too!

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    2. My problem is an addiction to dark chocolate peanut M&Ms. I used to reward myself with 6--just 6!--for a couple of hours of solid writing. Now I just grab a handful and say I deserve them for being able to (sort of) write while the toddler granddaughter is making all kinds of racket in the next room. {sigh}

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    3. MYRA and JILL, I love the way you ladies think! *high five*

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    4. Chocolate reward. Way to go. smile

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  14. Retail therapy! I do PopTart therapy and book therapy.

    And you are right. We need to know we are not alone out there.

    Dig deep folks. Last week of Speedbo.

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    1. ...Wellll...See. It's like this. Those chocolate bars and M&Ms go right to the waistline...and therefore I need new clothes...and therefore I must shop. Make sense? Lol

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    2. Ha! I do the opposite. I don't allow myself to buy fat clothes anymore. So I am humiliated by wearing the same thing over until I can diet down. I do have a vast range of sizes in my closet however. HA!

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    3. I fear I'm going to have to "diet down" a lot before summer. haha

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    4. I've tried the "diet down before buying new clothes" thing before...more than once, but I've found if I go to long doing this I just end up looking not only fat but out of date too, haha. Of course we can never give up the battle of the bulge or who knows were we'd end up.

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  15. Oh, I love these stories!! How fun to feel totally normal!!

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  16. Tina, I love those notecards!! Where did you get them??

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    1. Click on the link. Amazon. I first discovered them when my amazing agent sent me a note via snail mail on them. Then the search began. I had to have them for myself.

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    2. Thanks! I didn't notice the link. :)

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    3. Thanks for asking Missy. I have to have some myself. Too fun. Who even remembers library index cards????

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    4. We still use library index cards in our church library.

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  17. Such great stories here! Thank you for sharing. It makes me feel like I absolutely can meet my SPEEDBO goal, even with my elbow sprain. Thanks, Writer Superheroes!

    I also must learn how to write faster this year.

    Story deadline tale: I was a couple weeks out from a short story (anthology ) deadline and I still had no idea what to write. I had a character, and I had already submitted the first story for the anthology, but I was so unclear as of what to write for the second. I was on an airplane complaining to God about my problem when He told me to pick up my pen and start writing. I pulled out a notebook and started. The story flowed, and I wrote almost half of it before we landed.

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    1. Amber, a sprained elbow. How does that happen. You poor thing. What's the treatment?

      You know that's how it works for me with all my Woman's World stories. I just start and they flow. When I spend too much time thinking it stops up the process.

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    2. Ouch! Praying for your elbow, Amber.

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    3. That's dedication, Amber. Hope your sprain heals quickly.

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  18. Oh, my! I am giggling over the "Sigh. Even the kids know." anonymous tale. The stuff our families put up with! Haha! Thanks for the laughs, Tina!

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    1. hahahaha! So true. Can't hide anything from the fam.

      Thanks for sharing, Jill. Generous authors like you help the rest of us feel normalized. Somewhat. Or maybe we know we fit in. We're all crazy!

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  19. If I had a deadline I could probably tell a deadline tale. Alas, the best I can do is when I was late to work one morning and showed up with one black shoe and one blue shoe which I then had to wear all day. I can't help thinking that a real deadline might serve to make me write more and faster? Would that be all bad?

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    1. I highly recommend self-deadlines before you sell and after. This really lets you know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Hugely important for you to know what you can do when pushed. Especially if an editor drops the bomb on you with last minute requests.

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  20. Great post, Tina! Fun to read everyone's deadline stories! I remember when you put out the call for these, I just couldn't think of one. As a writer, I've made it a point NOT to push up against impending deadlines. Can't take the pressure! So whatever deadline the editor gives me, I set my personal deadline several weeks ahead of that so I can avoid feeling rushed.

    Which is pretty much the opposite of how I approached term papers in high school. I despised those and always put off the research and writing until the last possible moment--usually over Christmas vacation. Guess how much fun those holidays were!

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    1. LOLOLOL. A traumatic past does cure a lot of things.

      And yet, into every life a little unexpected catastrophe does fall. It's fun looking back and laughing when you get to the other side.

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  21. Tina, thanks for these delightful Deadline Tales! I've never been early, but I've never been late either.

    I've had to chop 10k from a story that I'd turned in in order to meet the line's new word count. After turning in another book, I was asked to change the relationship of one character to another, which meant losing the last three chapters and making loads of small changes throughout the book. The change made for a far stronger story. Thankfully I was given time to make the changes and turn in the new version, as these required more work than typical revisions.

    Deadlines used to give me a shot of adrenaline and I could work through most of the night. No longer. Writing at night is a waste of time. There's nothing there. LOL

    Janet

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    1. Doesn't matter how old I get. I would have to be under threat of extreme torture or severe harm to my children or pets to give up sleep for writing!

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    2. Sleep deprivation is my norm. After years of working night shift it's a way of life.

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    3. I'm with you Janet. I can't write when I'm tired. The middle of the day is best for me. ;)

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  22. The different colored shoes happened in our family. Not by me. When I'm on deadline I just live in slippers and sweats. It was my DH who wore two different shoe colors to work. He called to tell me. I asked if he was coming home to change. He said no but he had the wastebasket between his feet and when he left the office, he walked really fast. Knowing him, he was probably a blur as he passed.

    Janet

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  23. Tina, I love the cool note cards! My recipe file is old with that little window on the front, but it's too small to have been a card catalogue

    Janet

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  24. I love these stories! As I'm reading along, I'm thinking -- yep, I know how that feels. Or I remember when a friend told me something similar to that.

    My favorite urban legend deadline story (and I know the gal it happened to, so I know it's one urban legend based on fact) is the Golden Heart entrant who "chased down" the FedEx plane to get her entry on it. Actually she only ran out on the tarmac as they were loading!

    Thanks for sharing the insanity. And, Sherri, you gave us all a daily output to aspire to...even if the pages were blank. Loved that story. LOL!

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    Replies
    1. CHASED DOWN THE PLANE??? OH THAT'S PRICELESS! LOL

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    2. SEE IT IS AN URBAN LEGEND. It's probably the same person and it was changed slightly per territory.

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    3. Thanks for stopping by, Jo Ann. On the flip side all of our kids could be on Survivor and win, right??

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  25. I love all the deadline stories. Julie, kudos for making two novellas out of your cuts. I love it. Since I'm so paranoid of deadlines I've pretty much only sent in novels that were already finished so I had plenty of time to write any revisions. Great post Tina.

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  26. This is so much fun -- both the post and the comments. Hard to keep up.

    Hmmm...I have a sort of deadline story involving my first interview at the end of library school. It was with a school board and the interview was right after a storytelling presentation I had to do at the college. I had a bag of interview stuff -- portfolio, resume etc and a bag of puppets and other unique story related items.

    After I finished the presentation I decided to kill time with some friends in the cafeteria until I realized I'd messed up the interview times and I actually had to be at the school board in a half hour. I bussed and there was no way I would have made it in time if one of my friends hadn't offered to drive me. She peeled into the parking lot with five minutes to spare. I grabbed my bag and raced upstairs, arriving just as the door to the conference room opened and the HR person called my name.

    Phew! Awful panel interview with five people all staring at me. They asked for my portfolio, I reached into my bag and pulled out a pink pig puppet! Oh oh, grabbed wrong bag!! The portfolio was supposed to highlight my talents and convince them to hire me. All I had was a pig puppet and a few of his barnyard friends. So I launched into an impromptu puppet show where the puppet gave me a glowing review. Even the surly HR person cracked a grin. And I got the job! You might say that little piggy puppet saved my bacon!

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    1. Wow, Kav, talk about making lemonade out of lemons. That is amazing!@!!!

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    2. Oh my gosh Kav, I'm dying laughing, I'd have totally bombed!

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    3. Absolutely love this story. It has to be in a novel. smile

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    4. How rich. My face would have turned lobster red and I have no idea what could come next.

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  27. I enjoyed all the deadline stories. I am struggling through a merry go round that won't stop. I've been living in a spinning world for 48 hours now. Yet I set a goal to write something every day. I've had to push through the nausea and spinning to read or to write this weekend. Yet I finished reading Pam's book Claiming Mariah which was wonderful. Plus I managed to write 1,397 words. Looking back over this Speedbo with having all the health issues I have written something every day with as little as 28 words up to 5,538 words. On the days when I had a few hours of relief I tried to push through and make up for the bad hours and in the long run I've made it to 33K for this month. Since I can't do anything about my health issues. I am working on learning the steps to persevere in spite of them. I could not have done as well this month without the Lord's help. I plan to continue these steps on into next month.

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    Replies
    1. I'm praying your health improves. Good for you for getting words out. Writing while dealing with health issues is difficult.

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    2. 33K! Wilani! That's fabulous. Way to go despite being attacked!

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    3. You're doing great, Wilan! Keep going! And may the Lord bless your health!

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  28. My first contract ever, given to me at the ACFW conference for Golden Days...was sold on proposal. Even though I had 20 finished books on my computer...I had to go home and WRITE A BOOK!
    So I did it. I focused intently on that little 45,000 word book for Heartsong Presents and wrote it in six weeks. I still didn't have the contract. I had no idea what money I'd make I had no idea when the book deadline was.

    So the book was finished and I was getting itchy and worried and thinking there was NO contract coming and it'd all been a big old PRANK to make me feel stupid.

    And then finally here came the contract, this was the end of November maybe after a September ACFW conference. Books done. Deadline for the book is.....a year from September.

    ??????????????

    So I was ready.

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    1. This is so, Mary Connealy. Writes the book a year ahead of time and has been doing that ever since, RIGHT???

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    2. Ha! Love this! Talk about beating a deadline... :)

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    3. Mary you crack me up. I love it. A whole year. Now that is my kind of deadline.

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    4. Mary, you're always good for a laugh.

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    5. Oh, wow! THAT is great!!! Thank you for making me smile. I needed to.

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    6. It was a good lesson to learn about how SLOW the publishing world moved.

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  29. This post, just what I needed! When taking courses for my bachelor's degree, I had to read books and write papers. (Had to lol)I always had my papers turned in ahead of time. If you did, you got feedback and were able to do revisions before the due date. I always took advantage of that.

    Jill Kemerer-I love your deadline story. That's something I would do. Write it and get it out of the way!

    Julie Lessman-my editor was forced to have me cut 50,000 words (almost one Love Inspired book!)-this made me laugh! I'm trying to write one and you just delete them lol.

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    1. Aint that the truth, Sally. Oh that we could have her leftovers.

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  30. Good morning, so many interesting tales. I totally relate to Rachel Hauck. Menopause steals brain cells!!

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    Replies
    1. Morning, Terri! Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, that is soooo not a fun time. Hot Flash City.

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  31. These were fun to read! The first thing that came to mind for me was when, TWO DAYS before my wedding, I realized I hadn't purchased a ring for my soon-to-be-husband. I called my best friend in a state of panic, and she picked me up and took me to a local jewelry store. The salesman was my ex-boyfriend from high school! But he was gracious and so helpful. He didn't have anything in the store in my fiancé's size that I liked, so he had me pick one out from a catalog and overnighted it, free of charge! My friend picked up the ring on her way to the rehearsal dinner. I waited until a few weeks later to tell my husband that story.

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    1. hahaha! Good deadline story, Josee!!!

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    2. This story should go in a book. :)

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    3. Okay--THAT needs to go in your next story!

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  32. As for a writing deadline, I was entering my manuscript into a contest when I couldn't get the formatting right, no matter what I did. I had hours left and reached out to Tina who formatted it for me and emailed it back. I ended up clicking "Send" about twenty minutes before the contest closed. But it worked out and I ended up winning first place! THANK YOU, TINA!

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    1. Really, Josee??? That was what happened? AMAZING. That's a God thing for sure!

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    2. Totally. All the way. You were (and are) a Godsend!

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  33. As I read through these deadline stories, I kept nodding in agreement. I've been there, each and every time!!
    I'm there NOW. And, I daresay, I'll be there again.The only way to NOT be there would be to quit, wouldn't it?

    Or maybe be one of those people who finish with weeks or months to spare. I look longingly for that to happen, but if it hasn't happened yet, I doubt it will. :(

    But like Melanie said, I actually stay more focused when the deadline is looming and I have keep my nose to the grindstone. I'm not saying I LIKE it, but it is what it is.

    Now to try to post this from my hubby's desktop as my dedicated laptop refuses to connect to the internet. And typing something this long on my iphone?? Pure torture!

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    1. Hooray! Success! After two day, I feel like I've joined the land of the living again.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. Yay, and that is admirable to have written all that on a phone. wow. I'm impressed. LOL

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  34. Let's see, where to start... Once an editor asked for a full and the ms needed work, so I wrote all night for about a week straight, while also working a day job. I distinctly remember getting about 2 hours sleep each night for about a week.

    Also, loved the quotes from family. SO true. I'm perpetually on a deadline, it seems. :)

    Having said that, I'm going to write, then come back and read as many comments as I can. But wip (aka THE DEADLINE) calls first!

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    Replies
    1. I feel blessed to be perpetually on a deadline too. Now to find a way to incorporate life in that scenario.

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    2. Pam! You're my hero. Shew... But we love what we do don't we? And we do what it takes to get it done. Especially when we are starting out.

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  35. JoAnn brought up something and I'd like to ask about. How much time/weeks does everyone TRY to build in for a rewrite before your drop-dead-turn-in deadline?

    I know for some of us (not naming names, ahem), this question is rhetorical, but let's pretend you DO type the end. How much time would you LOVE to have to polish?

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    1. I would love to be done a month ahead of the drop-dead deadline. Two weeks to be away from it and get it out of my mind so I can see it more clearly when I revise (making it a real re-vision) and then two weeks to do the actual edits.

      Used to happen, but it hasn't it a while. I have to be happy with less than two weeks most of the time...and sometimes less than that. I'm not a fun person to be around when it's less than those two weeks. LOL!

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    2. Yeah. In a perfect world thirty days. When I send to my editor I never look at it until I get revisions. In fact I have had several times with no revisions. Those freaked me out worse than revisions. I need time away from the story.

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  36. Before now I've not really set deadlines on writing my full length books. I was taking things gradually and focusing on just learning the trade and stretching myself as a writer.

    However I have entered two contests for writing short story fairy tale retellings. I got the info on what the fairy tale would be in June and then, the procrastinator I was waited five months to actually start writing it, and then had to hurriedly write them during the month of November (both times). I actually went back and read some emails I sent to my friend right before Thanksgiving vacation the second time I was writing the book. It was the 23rd of November, the deadline was in December. I was only 7,013 words into my story which would end up being 20,000 words long, and somehow (mainly during Thanksgiving Vacation) I wrote the remaining 13,000 words by December 26th to turn in my story.

    During this time, the eight chapter of my short story disappeared completely. Wiped from the memory banks of my computer. I didn't have time to go back and rewrite it so I kept going with the story, finished it, and then went back and wrote a short section at the beginning of the new chapter eight (but was actually chapter nine at the time) ignoring everything that had happened in that chapter eight except for the bare minimum. Which actually turned out for the best because my story had to be 20,000 words and it was 21,000 words long so I was already having to cut scenes.

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    1. That is the worst, Nicky. Computer issues are the absolute worse. YOU ARE HELPLESS.

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    2. There are few worse sick feelings than losing a bunch of your work, Nicky. Glad you powered through and got it done.

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  37. I loved this post, Tina! Such fun stories. (Well, fun to read but probably not for the person they happened to!) I think some of these stories are what scares me sometimes about writing.

    I haven't had a book deadline, but I have been racing to the post office at the very last moment to get a short story in the mail to arrive on a certain date. And when I was taking online classes a few years ago, I was doing all the work right up to the last minute constantly.

    I was happy to win a Speedbo critique this weekend. Revising my opening with a bit of a deadline to send it back will give me some practice on working on deadline.

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    1. Sandy, so proud of you. Do you know that about half of the winners of critiques never send them? Good for you oh, brave one.

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    2. I am terrified but I will also be brave! I just have not entered any of the days when critiques were offered because I wasn't ready yet. But now I am ready to see what I can do with it and will start when Speedbo ends. I have just completed my 27th day of making my Speedbo goals.

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    3. Congratulations, Sandy! Me, too, on the revising my opening. I am so excited! I've already made three typos on this post I'm so excited. God surely has his hand on me.

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    4. Sandy meeting deadlines is great practice for you. And in life don't all jobs have deadlines really? I mean teachers, doctors? Everyone's got to show up and do their job and, for the most part, do it on time.
      It just seems different with writers because (like a few other professions) we work so independently.
      No one is watching us through out, only at the end, only at the DEADline. (emphasis on DEAD)

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  38. Sorry I'm late to this party... was at the beach with visiting family! Such great comments. And oh, the stories! We all have them don't we!?

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    1. I would like to be at the beach right now. Alas . . .

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    2. I am so so so far from a beach!!!!!!

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  39. I'm cheering on those who are nearing the deadline of Speedbo! YOU CAN DO IT!

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    1. Caryl, yikes, you're right. SPEEDBO is a deadline, too!

      Thanks for the reminder (NOT)

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  40. This post made me so happy! I know it shouldn't make me happy to hear of authors struggling, but hearing the tales of how their family understood and supported them makes me super happy. I've already told Seekerville the story of my computer crash a few weeks ago while I was working on a deadline. The good news, my computer is back up and running. The bad news...that story I worked so hard on has been shelved for a while. Back to square one. Thank goodness for speed-bo or I might have crawled into a hole to mourn my lost story for a while. No time. Had to get back to it!

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    1. LeAnne, I'm sorry you didn't recover it. But good for you for moving on and having such a good attitude about it!

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  41. Can't wait to read all these stories! I've actually pared my schedule down to 2 books a year. It's weird, because it almost feels like a vacation. LOL!

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    1. LOLOL. Okay, Melly. This made me chuckle.

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    2. I couldn't keep up the writing schedule some of you have. I don't have a goal of writing several books a year. 2 would be more than enough for me.

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    3. Some of these gals are writing machines, Sandy! Two a year is doable. And you can still have a semblance of a LIFE!

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    4. Well, Tina, I am hoping to also slip in edits on a book I wrote several years ago, and possibly get it ready to self-pub. :D Would be even greater if I could manage to write the second book in that series in between my other books. LOL

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    5. You need to fill in the gaps with some novellas, Melanie!

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  42. Terrific stories, loved your post, Tina, and what it pulled out of so many.
    My only deadline issue came when I wondered where galley proofs were and if I should ask for them. My editor emailed, about the same time I considered checking in with her, asking if I had returned first edits. Hmm, yes, a long time before, on time. Evidently her computer was down at the time I sent them and they were lost in cyberspace. All turned out well.
    My mind looked like the graphic Tina used above Urban Legend Deadline Tale over the weekend as I went through this year's Christmas story draft, completed for Speedbo. Going through slower second time around.

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    1. Oh, my goodness. You have your Christmas story done. Oh, my, my. I won't even touch mine until June 1. Sigh. But it's on the calendar. Does that count?

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  43. My internet is possessed today. Grrr. Never realize how much I depend on it until it doesn't work right. Love these stories. I've never had a writing deadline other than trying to get entries in for contests. I'm notoriously late though.

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    Replies
    1. Those contest deadlines are good practice. Keep doing what you're doing and you've entered the contests, so you are doing something right, Sharee.

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  44. Oh, I love all of these!
    Okay, my favorites were falling asleep on the spacebar and the false engagement, but they were all great examples.

    I've never been on an official deadline except for contest deadlines. Once, I had debated back and forth about entering one, and at the last minute decided to go for it.
    It was due by midnight and was after 11:30 when I realized I needed to give a reason for my hero being down on love.
    With no time to think, I jotted down that his ex-fiancé had left him for a traveling broom salesman. Got in turned in w/about 3 minutes to spare. Later, I died laughing. I have no idea where the that came from, but it worked.

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    1. A traveling broom salesman???? Priceless!!!

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    2. Traveling broom salesman. It reminds me of...what book was it?....not mine, when the earl, the wealthy, powerful earl's fiancé leaves him for a homely, poor, overweight rector.

      Because she loved the pastor.

      The earl felt pretty bad about it. Happy for her honestly, but sorry for himself that he wasn't enough for her.

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  45. I loved reading all of these stories! Thanks for sharing, everyone!!

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  46. I really should have put a spew alert on today's post. These stories are priceless.

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  47. Fell asleep on the space bar -- what a hoot!

    Tina, those library card notes are so fun. Gotta check those out (yuck, yuck).

    My deadline story. I was a freelance (non-fiction) writer for a magazine, among other things. A few days after the deadline I met, the editor called me in a panic. Another writer had just emailed in her article after deadline -- and it needed a total re-write. Could I do that and get it back to her in 2 hours? Sure. After all, I trained at a newspaper ;-)

    Long story short, I quickly found out the writer did not contact the people she quoted. She took most of the info from their websites. First, I called the editor and asked for an extension :-)

    I had a desktop computer at the time. A storm hit. The electricity went out. I didn't have an uninterruptible power source. Fortunately I had printed off the article. Fortunately I had a cell phone. Called the sources, rewrote the article, and prayed for electricity.

    The electricity came back on ten minutes before my extended deadline. I sent that email so fast ...

    And the next day I bought a laptop and a portable wifi :-)

    Nancy C

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    1. Oh, my gosh. What a story. Yeah. We have a mifi around here. I would be lost without the internet.

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  48. Okay, now that I've read all the stories, I wish I could think of a great one! My favorite of these might be the writer who fell asleep on her space bar. I think I'm too uptight to fall asleep at my computer or in my chair. LOL

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  49. Thanks for all the stories everyone! The laughs have been wonderful.

    Nancy C

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  50. Honestly, I'm happiest when I'm on a deadline. Weird but true. When I turned in my last book and realized I had 6 1/2 months till my next book was due, I actually got depressed. It was too much time! I couldn't figure out what to do with myself, because I definitely did NOT want to do all the things I'd been putting off with my next deadline as my excuse. Clean the house? Ugh! Paint the house? Ugh! Read all those books in my TBR list? Ugh! Why had I thought I only wanted to write 2 books a year?

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    1. Yeah. I wander around lost when not on deadline. Someday I will paint the guest room. Someday for three years now. hahahahah

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    2. I feel a little lost when I'm not on deadline, too. It's a bit unsettling.

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  51. Awesome post, Tina! Love the stories.

    I don't really have a deadline story. Like Nicki, I'm still learning the trade by taking classes and doing lots of reading. Tina, can't wait for your class!

    Ok, maybe one: I was already 16 days past my due date, and my meat cutter husband (now an ex) said to me..."Don't have this baby on a Friday as that's our big order day for the amusement parks and restaurants." You guessed it...midnight on Thursday I went into labor and she was born at 7am Friday morning! Forty-five years later, I swear I'm still carrying around that "baby fat"!

    Congratulations to all the winners. I'm not going to put my name out there for any more prizes. God has blessed me with two books and a critique. Doing the Happy Dance at my house.

    Speedbo has been slow going for me so far. Only 3,000 words, way below my goal, but 3,000 more than I had.

    Blessings,

    Marcia

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    1. The only thing you can count on is death and taxes. Babies..never. Love that story, Marcia.

      Keep going. You are right. It is 3K more than before.

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  52. What a fun post. I haven't ever fallen asleep writing but have fallen asleep reading on kindle. I've woken up to pages flying by or the dictionary/ highlight function lit up.

    Unfortunately when it comes to deadlines I procrastinate and then work under pressure.

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  53. What a FUN Monday post with all these great deadline stories!! :) Some are really hilarious!
    And I cracked up at Connie Queen's comment about the traveling broom salesman (my apologies if anyone on here has a husband who does that for a living)! ;)
    Diving back into my SpeedBo - - have 11k words to go and I am *determined* to get them written by Friday!!
    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

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  54. Gosh, Tina. For a second there, I thought you were talking about me with the GH post. For my first GH entry, my husband drove me to the main post office in Manhattan, just before they closed at midnight (with a toddler and a newborn) so I could mail the mss by the deadline.

    I didn't win (so the story is someone else), but I did final. Which did not help cure me of my tendency to procrastinate.

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    1. Oh, that simply reinforced it for BOTH OF US!!!

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  55. Can anything top falling asleep on your spacebar? I have been chuckling all day over that one.

    Debby...I hear you about the repeated scene. I did that once. Luckily, my CP caught it. Shoo!

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  56. Deadlines scare the willies out of me. I like to give myself 'finish this draft in this month,' but being an indie published author, I've never actually had a deadline except in the short story contests I've entered. It's just plain scary to think of handling anything more...

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    1. You know if you are an indie author and do preorders you have deadlines. And if you have deadlines as an indie author to get your msc to a freelance editor or be banned from her list forever you have deadlines. So Boo, indies have deadlines too!

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  57. I've never had a real deadline in writing, other than blogs due when I was a part of The Writer's Alley. I would like to think that I could meet a deadline, but if Speedbo is any indications...well, I have a lot to learn! I will find my groove at some point...hopefully sooner rather than later. :)

    I loved hearing all of these inspiring stories and hope to have my own one day!

    Can't wait for your editing class, Tina!

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    1. NO PRESSURE, SHERRINDA!

      Goals goals goals. Start making them so you are ready for that first sale which is coming sooner than you know!

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  58. Replies
    1. Glad I could tickle your funny bone with tales from the deadline trenches, GH FINALIST!

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  59. I'm with Myra as far as deadlines go. I usually take regular deadlines and shorten them for myself so that I finish in plenty of time. I really liked all of the deadline stories.

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  60. Tina, I'm racking my brain thinking of a deadline. Can't think of a writing deadline, but I thought of a story involving my middle son that might work. If nothing else, I hope someone might find it funny. One day, I pick my wonderful son up from school, knowing it would be a fun evening as he had a chorus concert that night. He gets in the car and tells me he volunteered to be Gomez Addams as they are singing the theme to the Addams family. Turns out he volunteered a couple of weeks before and told me with less than three hours until chorus time. We go to Goodwill, find a man's black suit, come home, throw it in the washing machine. I ask my daughter for her eyebrow pencil (because eyeliner absolutely escapes me) and I draw a mustache on him, roll up a piece of brown construction paper for his prop cigar, and put him in the suit and off we go. It's not a writing deadline, but I put together a Gomez Addams costume in less than three hours. If I'm ever fortunate to have a writing deadline, anything more than three hours notice will be lovely and I'll jump up and down.

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    1. Tanya way to go!!!!!!!!!

      LOL love the wild running our kids make us do. (I'm mean NOW. not when it was actually happening!)

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    2. Love that story, Tanya! My daughter once told me she needed to build a log cabin -- the night before the assignment was due. We got very creative with our construction skills and building materials that evening - which included cardboard, straight pretzels and twigs we picked up by flashlight, in the rain. It was NOT a pretty cabin. LOL

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