Monday, May 22, 2017

Whipping Writer’s Whiplash

with guest Susanne Dietze.

This past year has been an exciting one, with eight contracts due in a fourteen-month spread. Eight is great, but the projects often overlapped, which resulted in something I’ve named Writer’s Whiplash.

Do you know what I mean? Think of writing each individual story as cruising down a unique story highway (you can also call it a “story universe” but we’re sticking with the automotive metaphor, so bear with me). Today, you’re traversing the road for your current project. You’re driving at a comfortable speed. The scenery is familiar; you’re traveling with character companions you know well; you know where you’ve been and where you’re headed.

Then—cue the squealing breaks! 

You receive edits for a story you already turned in, and they’re due in seven days! Or you get a call that an editor wants a revise & resubmit on a proposed project, pronto! Or, as happened to me once, in one week you get edits for one story, galleys for another, a request for possible cover art ideas, while a deadline looms. 

In these situations, when time is of the essence, we do not have the luxury of staying the course on Story Highway #1 and reaching the destination before turning our cars onto Story Highway #2. We must change course immediately. Kick the characters out of the car, promise to pick them up later, and do a 180 onto Story Highway #2, burning rubber as we go.

But oh—I feel dizzy. When I have to slam on the brakes and turn immediately onto a new story highway, the car goes one way, but my brain is still going another direction. That’s when it hits. I go blank. I wonder where I am, who I’m with, and where I’m supposed to go. 

This is Writer’s Whiplash. 

It’s jarring, confusing, and maybe even panic-inducing. Maybe you’re one of those writers who has no problem with this, and I confess, the degree to which I experience Writer’s Whiplash has varied by situation. Sometimes it’s a minor pain in the neck. Sometimes I need a neck brace and a blankie.

But we’re valiant authors! We persevere, and Writer’s Whiplash is sometimes part of the business. Here are a few ways I handled my Whiplash:

Pull Over



The moment Writer’s Whiplash starts, stop what you’re doing. Pull off your Story Highway and take a pit stop. How?

I suggest a physical and a mental break. The amount of time your pit stop takes can depend on how soon a deadline looms, but if you have a full day between projects, take it. If you’ve only got five minutes, take it. Use the time by:


  • Getting up and doing something unrelated to writing (laundry, exercise, starting dinner, etc) to help your brain shift gears.
  •  Praying for wisdom and direction. God gave you these stories! Ask Him to help you write what He’d have you write!



Use a Map



I am a broken record when I come on Seekerville: organization was key for me when it came to managing multiple deadlines. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have ready-made tools on hand to use as a map to remind me where I was going.


  • First, I leave myself a trail of breadcrumbs on Story Highway #1, so I know how to find my way back. I do this by jotting notes in my manuscript (in all caps, marked with asterisks) that tell me what should come next in the plot, what’s the mood, etc. Then I get out my premade map for Story Highway #2 so I know where to go.

  • What is this map, you might ask? It’s my notes on the plot, which I did in advance. This doesn’t need to be finely detailed. A synopsis is fine for some people, but I need more. Before I start a story, I use an excel spreadsheet to block out the basics of the plot. I use a column for each chapter, headed with a note of what needs to happen at that particular point of the story (point of no return, black moment, etc.). Another option I’ve used is typing up rough paragraphs of what will happen in each chapter. Either way, I print them out and then I write notes all over them as I write, because things do change and evolve, but I still have the skeleton in place.

  • Don’t forget your characters. They should ride along with you in the car, but you may need to become reacquainted with them, so I make notes on them, too. Some authors like a sheet that describes each character—looks, personality, etc. Include horses, dogs, etc.—Writer’s Whiplash can erase them from your memory! When I was working on eight stories, that meant not only eight heroes and heroines, but their pets, horses, parents, siblings, kids, etc., all with distinct personalities and traits. If I hadn’t organized them, I might well have confused a few of them.


Use Landmarks



When we’re driving, we know to look for certain things to help us know where we are. The same is true in writing, and I’ve found that engaging the senses when I’m on a Story Highway can help me when I need to get back on that particular road. Some of these landmarks are:


  • Visuals. I’m a visual person, so I make a Pinterest board for each of my stories. I use photos of scenery, houses, dogs, horses, gowns, and characters so I can return to them later for reference. 

  • Sound. Some people don’t write to music, and not all who do can write to anything with lyrics. Find what works for you: sound or silence, but if you write to music, here’s an idea. Choose a “soundtrack” unique to each story. I don’t mean using a particular movie soundtrack, per se, but one of your own making that evokes the mood, feelings, and sense of place you need for each Story Highway. I had particular albums that I listened to for each Story Highway I traveled. That way, when I played one album on my phone, it would instantly make me think of the Story Highway I paired it with. 

  • Scent. Smell is the fastest sensory trigger to memory. It can take us back to a place and time we haven’t thought about in years. Try assigning a scent to each story freeway (think of it as a car air freshener!). This can be a scented candle, the aroma of a coffee blend, the lavender blooming right outside your window, or maybe something else. When you were in the groove on one story freeway, tangerines were in season—now the smell of tangerine can take you right back.


Writer’s Whiplash may be unavoidable at times, but it’s manageable—and it’s also proof that we are blessed to have multiple projects and opportunities. 

I’ve found organization to help, but do you have any tips to help me cope with Writer’s Whiplash in the future? I’d love to hear what you do!
Leave a comment today and you could win a copy of My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.




My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight


Journey now to Ruby City, Idaho of 1866 where...

A Marriage Mishap Creates an Awkward Love Triangle in this Silver Mining Town

Looking forward to a quiet life and a full stomach, mail-order bride Rebecca Rice is pleased to marry her shopkeeper intended, Mr. Fordham, until the justice of the peace calls him Thaddeus, not Theodore—proceeded by the title Deputy.

Is it possible to marry the wrong man?


When the newlyweds realize they’ve married the wrong partners with similar names, an annulment seems in order—and fast, since Rebecca’s true intended is impatient to claim her as his own, not to mention Rebecca would never marry a lawman like her father. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca wonders if Tad wasn’t the right husband for her all along. . . .


Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of a dozen new and upcoming historical romances. A pastor's wife and mom of two, she loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com, and sign up for her newsletter for an occasional cheery hello: http://eepurl.com/bieza5


125 comments :

  1. I can relate Susie, but I call it reviewers whiplash! I just recently experienced it, I had multiple books for review which normally is no problem to get done in the time frame. I make a schedule & prioritize ; what book is out on what month/day, and then I get right down to reading/reviewing until all those books are done. BUT, so many monkey wrenches where thrown in my neat little world recently and set me back majorly!! I felt like giving up, I was overwhelmed, like I was never going to get to the books done, and I was letting my authors down big time. I had a lot of apologizing to do and let them know what was going on in my life to delay me, and they were so understanding.

    So I put myself on a self-imposed reading binge and I have to say that it is paying off big time. But honestly, there for a while, I had no motivation and I thought I lost my love of reading. That pile of books loomed over me and I felt burnt out, like I never wanted to see another one in my life. Thankfully,as my pile is dwindling, I'm feeling a lot more normal and my love of books is thriving again :-)

    Susie as you know, I've read and reviewed this book for you! Loved it, it was such a fun book to read. Thanks for the post today, I'm so glad I'm not alone. I certainly related to it & I may need to make some changes in ways I do things from now on. I never want to feel like I've lost my love for reading again!! :-)

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    1. Hugs, Trixi! Oh wow, you've had so much going on, I don't know how you have managed to get everything done! I am so glad you're feeling more normal again, but oh, sometimes when we're overloaded, even the things we love doing can become one more thing we have to do.

      I'm glad you didn't give up!

      Thank you so much for reading and reviewing Ruby City. I am so grateful! You're such a blessing to authors and we all appreciate you and your hard work! Thank you!

      XO

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  2. Congratulations on eight! Great news and a wonderful whiplash of a position to be in.

    I'm not the most organized person in town so your tips are helpful. I'm always striving to improve.

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    1. Hi Terri! Thank you so much!

      Organization is easy for me in some areas, and not others. For instance, my desk is a mess. I would send you a photo but I don't want it on the internet forever, LOL. I truly need to get my act together with this workspace.

      One thing that might help is if I got a real filing cabinet, so I could file my book folders rather than stack them in a box.

      At any rate, I hope you are having a great start to your week! Thanks so much for coming by to say hi today.

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  3. Susie, so nice to have you back here, and first... congratulations on all of your success. What a marvelous role model you are. I am totally happy dancing for you over here in WNY.

    Second, this is such good advice. Organization (mental organization, too) is clutch when you're working on multiple projects and you've shown us the way! Thank you!

    And 8 contracts.... WOW. That's all I can say, Susie, WOW.... are they a mix of contemporary and historical?

    Congratulations!!!!

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    1. I am so honored to be here today! Thanks for having me! I'm waving across the country at you.

      You are so prolific, I would love to learn more from you!

      All eight contracts were historical. So far, everything I've done in historical. There may be a contemporary in my future, but not just yet!

      I am out of that 14 month crunch window now, but I was revising my second (and sadly, last) LIH while I received edits for a novella. I kicked my LIH Regency people out of my car and did a U-turn for my novella people!

      My 2018 will not be like my 2017. This was an extraordinary year.

      Thanks again! Hugs!

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    1. Yay!!! Pop mine into this handy dandy travel mug so I'm on-theme!

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  5. Susie, I have whiplash just thinking of eight contracts in 14 months! You're amazing!

    Love the great advice you've shared today. Your organizational skills are evident. I was smiling when you mentioned having all those characters. Sometimes I can't remember the hero's name from one book to the next...or I keep typing the old hero's name when I'm writing the new book. I now use character files, and I assign names on an alphabet chart so, hopefully, I don't use two names that start with the same letter or sound alike. Those charts help me navigate from one book to the next!

    I'm so thrilled for your success!!! Congrats and hugs!

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    1. Debby, I am so glad I am not the only one who's used the wrong hero's name in a new book. Oh dear, I kept typing Drew instead of Beck...not good! I had to do a "search" through the mss before I submitted just to make sure I'd caught them all. (I did! Phew!)

      The idea of a chart is excellent. I am going to start one of those today! Thanks for the tip!

      Hugs!

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  6. Susie, tell us your daily writing schedule. Are you more creative in the AM or PM?

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    1. Good question, Debby. I do not write at night. I could--once I get into the groove, I can keep going no matter the time of day--but when I write at night, I get too amped up to sleep. Also, it works better for my family dynamics if I don't write at night. On occasion I do, but in general it only happens if I have a deadline and I'm cutting it close. With Ruby City, I did pull a 16 hour day, taking breaks only for school runs and meals. Not recommended for every day!
      LOL

      Everyone is different, and I'm sure things will change as my life changes down the road, but for now, morning and afternoon are what work for me.

      How about you?

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    2. I do the "other" stuff at night. If I'm under a tight deadline and have to write at night, I sometimes fall asleep at my computer. :) I'm always afraid I'll doze off and hit the wrong key, deleting the entire manuscript! YIKES!!!

      My best writing time in the afternoon.

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    3. Oh my, I never thought of deleting the manuscript!

      WOW! I applaud you for writing at your best time! Sometimes the afternoon is wonderful for me. I can get a solid hour in between school pick up and dinner prep, and sometimes it's far more productive word-count wise than morning writing!

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  7. This is good advice, Susanne! I'm not even published yet and I have multiple projects going -- a revise-and-resubmit, the story I'm working on with my crit partner one chapter per month, my Speedbo project, and contest entries. I stay on course pretty much, my most recent gaffe was changing a heroine's eye color, but I caught it and backtracked.
    I'm coming back from a bad week last week. Stomach flu (don't hug me! don't eat off my dishes!) and my temp job. On a break between temp assignments and feeling better, so hope to get some real work done this week.
    Please enter me in drawing.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. Kathy, I am so glad you're feeling better! Stomach flu is the worst! It's been going around this year--my son was hit hard, and some of my church friends got it more than once. Ugh!

      You have a lot of projects going! Good for you! Yay! Two of my 8 projects were things I'd started/written before I was offered my first contract. These things are never wasted: they will either get published someday or they will have been used to teach us how to write better stories. So go Kathy go!!! Blessings on your contest entries and revise-and-resubmit! So exciting!

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  8. Hi Susanne, what a terrific post. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on Rebecca's Plight. It sounds like a great story!

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    1. Good morning, Jackie! Thank you so much for your kind words. This has truly been a dream come true for me.

      Blessings as you write and on your week!

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  10. Ignore the captain. He stopped by to see if the island was open yet so he could search for his hidden rum!!

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    1. The Captain looks so suave there! Oh--he has a movie coming out this weekend, doesn't he?

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    2. He's been AWOL for much too long!

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  11. I'm on the road and it's taking six hours to coordinate passwords on new devices. Aye aye aye!

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    1. Oh my. That's a lot of work. I dread new devices for just that reason. Hang in there!

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  12. Welcome, Susanne! Delighted to have you with us today! I do utilize several techniques you mentioned, and now need to try the rest. I always work on sevaeral projects at a time so I usually clean the slate by napping. Then I set the mood. A few minutes of Heartland for westerns. Covert Affairs for suspense.

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    1. Thank you for the warm welcome! I am honored to be here--thanks so much for having me!

      I LOVE your idea of cleaning the slate by napping. That sounds FANTASTIC. Watching shows is also a great idea. I will have to try that one! I think I may already do that to an extent, but haven't been aware of it. But now I plan to make it a Thing!

      Thanks, Tina!

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    2. I can handle a number of smaller projects, but I usually work on one full-length project at a time. Not sure I could make the switch in the middle of a project...and then back again. I would get whiplash, for sure!

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  13. Hello Suzanne. Thank you for sharing your method of organization. Being a visual person as well, I can't wait to start using Pinterest for book prompts and ideas.
    Take care and good luck with your books.
    Carroll

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    1. Hi Carroll! I love Pinterest. It is so much fun--and it's easy to waste a lot of time on it! LOL. But you're exactly right about book prompts and ideas. I've found a lot of helpful information on Pinterest that has sparked some ideas!

      Blessings on your writing!

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    2. Waving to Carroll! Always wonderful to see you in Seekerville!

      I must explore Pinterest. I'm totally visual so your technique sounds like it might help me focus, Susie! Thanks for the tip!

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    3. Debby, I warn you: you can get lost in Pinterest. I ended up making boards of cute animals and funny memes and recipes...oh, the recipes!

      LOL. I will look for you there!

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    4. Perhaps I need to just say "NO" to Pinterest. FB grabbed me last night and I was there far too late. :)

      Hugs!

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    5. Ah, the pitfalls of social media! It can really take over our lives!

      Hugs!

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  14. Thanks so much for having me today, Seekerville! I'm thrilled to hang out and chat with everyone. Happy Monday!

    It's going to be HOT at my house today. Does it feel like summer yet where you are?

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  15. 107 in Phoenix today! WHAT?????

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    1. Oh my. 107...that's intense. It'll be over 100 here today too. 105 tomorrow. I say we join forces and lie on floaties in a pool somewhere.

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    2. Georgia is a cool 78 degrees.

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    3. Sounds fantastic. Let's go sit on your patio!

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    4. The door's open! I'll serve iced tea and cheese sticks. So totally Southern! :)

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    5. I'm on my way, Debby! (I wish!)

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  16. Do you write straight historical or a mix of genres?

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    1. I write straight historical, but I'd love to do comtemporaries at some point. I've had a few ideas floating around.

      My historicals have been set in the UK (Regency_ and the US, so spanning 1817-1915.

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  17. Susanne, welcome to Seekerville! I'm awed by how you handled eight contracted books in fourteen months. Your organization skills and tips are impressive.

    I, too, am saddened to see LIH close. Yet I'm grateful for the opportunity they gave me to write for them. I love to write and read historical romance. My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Iowa: Rebecca's Plight, sounds great. I'm heading out to Amazon to get my copy.

    Janet

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    1. Thank you so much for the warm welcome, Janet! I am so glad to be here!

      Thanks too for your words about LIH. I, too, am so grateful for the opportunity to have written for them. It was a dream come true. My heart nevertheless aches for the readers, editors, and authors. I so appreciate the outpouring of support and love shown to those of us who've written for LIH in this sad time.

      I love your stories. Looking forward to seeing how God opens new doors for your writing!

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    2. Susanne, you've encouraged me with your sweet words. Thank you! I know God has a plan for all involved.

      Janet

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    3. God indeed has a plan, Janet. Right now we have to pray, trust, and strive to obey. It's always much easier when we have a clear path in front of us, but then we don't have to trust Him as much, do we? We rely on our own sight.

      Sending you hugs.

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  18. Good morning Susanne.

    So, if all you had was one, sad little ms to write, let's say that was 70k, how long would that take you to write? How does this compare to pre-published days? Have you figured out a formula that helps alleviate time-wasting mistakes?

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    1. Hi Connie!

      One ms is fantastic! Now you can stay on the story highway and not get distracted! Drive on, my friend!

      As for how long it would take to write, that will vary by person. What I did is figure out how much I could comfortably write on an average day. If you're not sure, check yourself on a day when you are living normal life: working, driving kids around, running errands, etc. This varies by person. A 2K day is pretty good for me, although I've gone as high as 5K on an average day. I know people who've had 10K days but that will never ever ever be me!

      Now figure out how many days you write in a week. M-F? Weekends only?

      Then I get out my calendar and figure out how long it should take me to write a draft of that 70K story. I add a few weeks onto it for revisions, tidying, cutting (I always go over), etc.

      If there's no deadline looming, you can take longer, but I think it's good practice to to try and get things completed. Also, you never know when an editor or agent will ask to see something.

      Alas, I have no formula for alleviating time-wasting mistakes, per se. I try to plan plot points in advance so I don't wander off, and that helps. However, things do change as I write. Sometimes I have to go back and fix things that turned out to be boo-boos for the plot.

      Blessings as you write your fantastic book! Is it historical or contemporary?

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    2. Thanks Susanne.
      Thanks for your answering my nosey questions.

      Currently, I'm working on suspense but I also love historicals and have written several in the past.

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    3. Not nosy at all! I'm all for transparency so we can support each other!

      I love suspense! I read them, but don't think I could write one. God would have to lay out the story for me. I admire you suspense writers!

      Love historicals, too!

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  19. Good morning Susie and what fun to see your smiling face. The best way to start a week. Thank you for joining us here in Seekerville. We appreciate your time and expertise. And wow eight contracts. That's amazing and no wonder you have whiplash. Thanks for all the hints on how to handle it Happy writing and have fun today.

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    1. Hi my friend! Right now I wish we were back on that balcony overlooking the ocean at RWA. So relaxing to hang out with my friend! <3

      Thanks for having me here. I love hanging out on Seekerville!

      Happy writing to you, too!

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  20. Hi Susanne:

    Thanks for your excellent management suggestions. For a time I worked in the control center of two moon shots and NASA had a wonderful time/task management system I'd like to share.

    All the computer terminals were in rows facing a huge movie screen. On the screen was projected, floor to ceiling, a list of tasks that had to be completed during the whole mission. The list moved from right to left as time went by. (A full screen was 24 hours).

    With one glance the viewer could see what was coming up to do next and whether it was on time, ahead of time, or behind time.

    While I was just in security and not a scientist, I could ascertain the status of the mission just as well as those working at the control panels. I knew well in advance of the news media how the project was going and what might be in the evening news headlines.

    What I find very helpful here is that there would be periodic gaps in the timeline of tasks to be completed. NASA called these gaps 'widows' which allowed time to handle unexpected problems like your 'whiplash'.

    "We have a problem with the right auxiliary thruster but we have an eighteen hour window coming up starting a 0600 so we should still be able to stay on schedule."

    My thought is this: "If you are wise enough to plot your novel, then why not plot (timeline) the time allotted to complete your assignments?"

    There really should not be vey many total surprises. Writers know there will be proofs, revisions, proposals, multiple deadlines, etc. Plot these out, build in 'windows', and know in advance when you are taking on more work than you can accomplish.

    A writer may have to learn to say 'no' and/or negotiate more realistic (doable) deadlines.

    This reminds me of the pantser scientist who wouldn't plot a time line of the mission so when the moon shot was launched it happened to be a half moon causing the rocket to miss the moon.

    Moral Premise:

    If you plot and create timelines you will have a less stressful and more rewarding life but if you won't plot or employ prudent time management techniques, then life will take on all the added stress inherent in randomness.

    QUESTION: What made you select 1866 for the time period of "My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho"? Did you pick a date first because you like that time period or did you pick the story first and then research what date would be the best for that story?

    Please enter me in the drawing. I'm not sure I've read a romance set in Idaho!

    Vince

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    1. Vince, what a fascinating experience, working for NASA! I imagine you have so many interesting stories.

      You are wise to suggest "windows" to allow for corrections, issues, etc. I agree! Things happen that are unforeseen, at home, work, and with the manuscript!

      I should mention that I did negotiate a later deadline for one of my novels. That said, most authors, or at least new ones like me, aren't necessarily in a position to negotiate deadlines weeks or months past the date offered in the contract. If a particular deadline can't be met within a particular window, my experience (with friends, not personally) is that the editor might set the mss aside and choose something else to fill a particular slot.

      It's all a matter of timing in the publishing world!

      As for why I selected 1866--I wanted to set my story in an Idaho mining town at a time when there were not many women, which would make my hero inclined to offer for a mail-order bride. Ruby City was a real place, but the town was short-lived. The county seat and most residents moved to nearby Silver City, which retained the county seat until the 1930s, I believe.

      I also wanted to set my story after the Civil War, so my hero would no longer be serving and my heroine could more easily travel. The research was fun!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I hope your week is off to a great start.

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  21. Whew! I feel a little breathless after reading all of this! And a bit alarmed after I read "...kick the characters out of the car, promise to pick them up later." All I could think of is the mischief they could get up to in the meantime! LOL And then I pictured you in a mini-van with all your characters from all your WIP clamoring for your attention. I mean, what if hero from Book A started to fall for heroine from Book C?! Oy -- I'm getting heart-palpitations. Definitely see why you would need to be so organized. These are awesome tips and can actually be used for juggling anything life throws at us.

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    1. Hi Kav! Oh yes, kicking characters out of the car is brutal. I do leave them water bottles, and they get to spend time in shady rest areas while they wait, LOL! And yes, my minivan is raucous. Especially with the pets in there, too.

      Right now, I have three story highways going...sort of. I need organization, pronto! And chocolate.

      I hope you have a great week. Thanks so much for saying hi!

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  22. Hi Susanne. What a great way to STOP and get a grip when the craziness gets overwhelming! I loved the advice in your post. I used to think I was a good multi-tasker but age, kids, writing and life in general has seriously made me question that. Giggle. I have three WIPS in progress and some days its hard to keep it all straight so I love your idea of using scents, music and pictures to help with that. I definitely use pictures of my characters, scenery, animals, etc. Your book looks fascinating! Toss me in the drawing please :)

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    1. Oh Sharee, I used to be a good multi-tasker too. You said it: age, kids, writing and life in general has taken its toll on my brain. I used to be able to remember everyone's birthdays, where I put things, what I needed at the store, and what my characters' names were... Ha! Those days are gone!

      Congratulations on your 3 WIPs! Go go go! You've got this!

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  23. Come over to the contemporary dark side! We have dark chocolate with sea salt!

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    1. I love dark chocolate with sea salt. Wait--are there almonds? I might like that, too.

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    2. Oh yes! Almonds make it even better.

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    3. I am feeling a strange tug...

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  24. I don't write but am an avid reader. It's so interesting to peek behind the scenes. Great stuff, I enjoyed it! Thanks for the chance to win what I'm sure is a fantastic book!

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    1. Hi Paula! I love avid readers...we are an awesome bunch! What's your favorite genre?

      I certainly hope you enjoy the book. Here's a spoiler: my favorite character is Madge. She's a mule.

      Thanks for coming by! Have a great week!

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  25. Your year made MY head spin just watching from the sidelines. Yet you continued on with a smile and occasional doses of #Hearties and Masterpiece.

    sigh. By the way, you're rocking that neck brace!

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    1. (P.S. writer's whiplash... neck brace... thought I better clarify)

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    2. I totally got it! LOL Thanks for helping me bedazzle my neck brace.

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    3. You didn't watch from the sidelines! You are critique partner extraordinaire, and you deserve a tiara, a medal, and a tropical vacation! Thank you, dear friend!

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    4. I keep remembering both of you lovely ladies at the ACFW genre dinner in your exquisite gowns. So beautiful...the gowns and the ladies!!!

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    5. Debby, I always picture them that way, too! So pretty!

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    6. You gals are the sweetest! Debra sewed those gowns--period appropriate *everything* too. She's a genius.

      I love that people think of Debra Marvin and me together!

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  26. Wow, Susanne! EIGHT! Congratulations!

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and tips. I'm amazed (and a little dazed - Lol) when I hear some writers say they don't use outlines, plot devices, or anything!) I can't do that. I use colored notecards (some with those snazzy rings so I can easily flip, and I organize colors with characters, plot points, and other things I think might be helpful. Sometimes, I use charts, too, because it's easier to see everything in one full swoop.

    Congrats and happy writing!

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    1. Hi Cynthia! Thanks for the kind words! I love your idea of colored notecards on a ring. As a senior in high school, I was taught to write term papers that way--jotting facts on their own cards, then you can shuffle them around. That's a great idea.

      I like charts, too. Visuals help me a lot.

      I hope your week is off to a great start! Thanks so much for saying hi!

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    2. Cynthia, I've used colored notecards in the past, too. I've also used the corkboard on Scrivener and color coded the card for the hero and heroine. :)

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    3. Missy, I've never tried Scrivener. Maybe I should! Do you like it?

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    4. Missy, I've never tried Scrivener either, but I know a lot of people love it. :-)

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  27. Echoing all those who are impressed with eight contracts! Congratulations! I hope to be in your shoes someday!

    My whiplash issue is less having to whip from story to story and more having to whip from Writer Mode to Mom Mode and back again (my kids, ages 8, 6, and 4, are on summer break and like to interrupt me when I'm working). I need to be able to get back into Story World quickly, so I'm definitely going to try the scented candle idea! I have yet to be brave enough to try and write to music; I'm a professional, classically-trained cellist, so if there's any music on at all, I find myself listening to that rather than writing. BUT, I frequently hear songs on the radio while I'm driving that remind me of my story world, and listening to those songs when I'm not able to work on my story helps get the ideas flowing, so when I'm at the keyboard and blessed with what passes for silence at the House of Wen, I can dive right in!

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    1. Amanda, early on, I had the writer to mom mode going on as well. It can be difficult. My daughter still talks about how, when I would be writing, she used to have to grab hold of my face and make me look at her to make sure I was really listening! LOL

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    2. Oh, and how wonderful that you play the cello! I played it for about a year around junior high age but then started on the oboe. I ended up loving that and playing it through high school.

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    3. Wow, I am so impressed by you being a professional cellist! That takes years of dedication. How wonderful!

      Like Missy, I can well relate to where you are. And yes, children do slam the brakes on the "Story Bus" from time to time, and it can be hard to get back onto the road. I find anymore that if I'm interrupted, I can't even write a check properly.

      Every writer is different, Amanda, but I found I couldn't really write until my youngest was in preschool, which gave me 2 uninterrupted hours a few times a week. Not everyone is like this. It takes time to figure out the best balance for you and your family. Rest assured this is not a "one size fits all" job and you will figure out what works best for you.

      Blessings on your writing!

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    4. Thank you! I'm finding that lots of the things I've learned in my music career are helpful now that I'm pursuing writing as well!

      So far my dedicated work time is while my daughter (the 4yo) is napping. This works when the boys are in school, but not so much when they're home and bored. :) They know I need this time, and they know that whatever fun family activity I have planned after quiet time is contingent on whether or not they let me get my work done. It is a balance, and I know they won't be little forever, so I'm trying to be present for them when I'm not writing, and fully in Story World (unless something is on fire or someone is bleeding) when I am.

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    5. It sounds as if you are finding balance! That's wonderful! Even if you write a page a day, or twice a week--not as much as you want--you are still writing and working toward your goal. I remember for a while I did nothing but research and took notes for a story, because the writing aspect was just too hard for that phase in my life. That phase was short, but I'm a firm believer that in the writing world, nothing is wasted. The more we write, read, and study craft, the more we learn and absorb.

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  28. I haven't gotten there yet, but your post makes sense. The problem I deal with is Vertigo all the time and I press on but when it goes into extreme mode, everything stops because the brain will not function and I am supposed to rest. I have learned that when I get thoughts for any of my writing projects to write it down and put with the project. Today is one of my extreme days, so I am rejoicing in the Lord and when it is his timing I will continue on.

    Have a great day everyone!

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    1. Wilani, I'm so sorry you're still having the vertigo. Have you ever tried doing voice recordings when you get ideas for stories? That way you could talk and yet be able to shut your eyes.

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    2. Oh Wilani, I am so sorry to hear you're struggling with vertigo. That can be so debilitating! I have dealt with a much milder form that lasted a while, but it drove me bonkers even though it was mild. I am so sorry. Praying for relief and recovery.

      I commend you for jotting down notes when you think of ideas. I also appreciate your attitude of waiting on the Lord.

      Praying for you as you rest today. Thanks so much for coming by to say hi.

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  29. Welcome Susie! LOVED your post - - Wow! I'm in awe of you handling so many projects at one time. Congratulations on your success, and I look forward to reading many more of your stories in the future! Right now I have THE RELUCTANT GUARDIAN on my Keeper Shelf, and I recently ordered the e-book copy of your Ruby City book! Cannot wait to read it (it's coming up on my TBR stack!).
    Thanks so much for taking time to share your tips and wisdom with us today. Please enjoy the Georgia peach cobbler I just took out of the oven (extra cinnamon-sugar on top of the crust). :)
    Hugs, Patti Jo

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    1. Patti Jo! I am so glad to see you! Waving hi. Thank you so much for keeping The Reluctant Guardian! That makes my day.

      I hope you like Ruby City, too.

      I am so glad you baked peach cobbler today. It sounds fantastic, and it'll be perfect with a glass of iced tea. Let's eat on the patio!

      Sending hugs!

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  30. Welcome back, Susie! What a great post. I love your suggestions. I hadn't thought to print out chapter notes to keep on hand and really liked that idea (especially since you jot extra notes to add to them as you're writing). Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Missy! Thanks for the warm welcome!

      My chapter notes start out crisp and clean. Then by the end of the story, they're a mess. Arrows, notes, dates, names of the butler or footman that I forgot to mention earlier, etc. As long as I can figure out what I meant, right? LOL.

      I hope your Monday has gone well so far!

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    2. Susie, you sound like you probably do edits like I do--with all the arrows and asterisks and such! LOL

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    3. Oh Missy, I use asterisks like crazy. Three asterisks means "This is where you stopped last time." One means "fix this." It's nuts. LOL

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    4. I like the chapter note idea, too, Susanne. I think it would be interesting to look back at them and see how they evolved. I keep unprinted notes and delete them when I accomplish what I want, so I have no record of the evolution.

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    5. That would be an interesting experiment, Mary!

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  31. SUSIE, Congratulations on your newest release! Thank you for the great post. It's hard to stay focused with so many distractions.

    Please enter me in the drawing.

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    1. Howdy Caryl! Nice seeing you here! Hope all is well.

      Yes, it's hard to stay focused sometimes, isn't it? I find things are sometimes difficult seasonally, too. May is as busy as December, with school events etc.

      Have a great week!

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  32. Congratulations! The book sounds great

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    1. Hi Karen! So glad to see you here today! I appreciate your kind words. I hope you enjoy the book!

      Have a great week ahead.

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  33. Since I'm considering writing a few extra stories this summer (what better way to spend my summer vacation than writing?), this post was very timely. I definitely find that music helps me focus on my stories, especially specific songs that put me in mind of my characters.

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    1. Visual aids also help too, though sometimes I have trouble finding any pictures that put me in mind of my story. The scent idea is very interesting, and something that I should try.

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    2. Way to go, Nicki! I wish you the best with your summer plans--how exciting!

      I like writing to music, too--songs absolutely put me in the mind/mood/feeling of a scene or characters. Like a middle schooler, I sometimes play a song on repeat if it helps me with a scene!

      Blessings on your writing plans!

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    3. re: visual aids, not everyone is helped by pictures etc. Or it can be difficult to find pictures that fit your story. I love Pinterest, but I google images all of the time, too. What about TV shows or movies that have triggered feelings that are in your stories? I wonder if that could be helpful.

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    4. I've actually used a movie for one of my stories--Sabrina. I watched it like 3 times before I started writing just to get a feel for how the characters interacted. And then after someone read it, they said the hero reminded them a little of the guy from Sabrina. Ha! I guess it worked. :)

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    5. I LOVE Sabrina! Such a sweet movie! One of these days we will have to have a movie date.

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  34. These are really good, solid, common sense ideas for dealing with what I call a three, four or five book pile-up. Think a crash on the road.

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    1. We definitely have to avoid those pile ups...although I feel like I've been in one or two of them! LOL

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  35. Wow, love this, Susanne. I utilize the Step One tips often, but I'm eager to try more of the Step Two and Step Three suggestions. Thank you, and congratulations on your newest book! Rebecca's Plight sounds so interesting.

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    1. Step one is essential but I tend to ignore that one, because I feel like I should jump immediately into the next thing. Then I feel worse about it. Having that space and break can truly help the brain reset.

      Thanks for the congratulations! I hope you enjoy the story!

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  36. Great stuff here, Susanne! I'm a visual person as well, but I typically respond best to sound. Music calms my mind when it's racing in all direction and it also gets me writing again when I'm stuck. Congratulations on your newest book!

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    1. Hi Jill! Nice to chat with another person who uses music to focus! I'm glad it helps you when you're stuck. It can really help me, too!

      Thanks for the congratulations!

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  37. I love to find songs and potential covers for my books. And your story sounds just so interesting!

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    1. Ooh, finding potential covers sounds really fun. Do you look at existing covers or images? Is there a particular site you like to visit?

      Thanks for the idea, and for saying hi!

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  38. Hi Susie! We've talked about this on the phone and I feel your pain even though I didn't have nearly as many contracts in a year. I'll have had five books release in a year and that was hard enough! Sometimes you just have to say "No" and take a break. I had three full weeks without a book under contract (I think I did galleys and an edit in there though) and that was the breather I needed. I stopped submitting proposals (yes, I know that is an author "no no" but a yes for me) and waited on what I had out there already. And one that was requested I've had to postpone a little until my next two contracts are fulfilled (or until I have a day when God tells me to finish with it!) Congrats on all your successes! From your Fangirl!!!

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    1. Hi Carrie! Thank you for talking with me on the phone when I needed to process my writing schedule! You've been such a support. I applaud you for taking the break you needed and waiting on the Lord! Thanks for the kind words and for visiting tonight!

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  39. Thanks Suzanne for a great post. Trixi, the first person who commented, expressed my woes. I now have several reviews to finish and this past Sat. the home that was my parents home for 52 years was sold at public auction. A lifetime of furniture and belongings also sold so reading has been the last thing that I felt like doing. Hiwever, I will prevail!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I would love for my name to be entered in your drawing. Thank you!
      Connie
      cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    2. Oh Connie, the experience of selling your parents' home must be so emotional! Hugs! Of course reading is one of the last things on your mind right now. I hope that soon you can find some time to rest and relax.

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  40. Well done, Suzanne!

    I'd love to win your "My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight" - please enter me in the drawing. It looks like a fun read.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Hi Phyllis! Thanks for the kind words! I hope you enjoy Ruby City.

      Have a great week!

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  41. SUSANNE!!! I have a confession to make -- I have weekend whiplash, which means I almost ALWAYS miss the Monday post till Tuesday, so my humble apologies for being late. This is the awful price I have to pay for having a place on a lake that everybody wants to visit! ;)

    First of all, let me just say that I have almost NEVER had writer's whiplash (maybe once or twice when I had two traditionally published books out in one year) because I apparently don't write as fast as you (or Mary or Ruthy or Debby ...). So although I am in awe of those who do, I probably will have to apply this post elsewhere because there truly are some great points.

    I especially loved your comment that: "When I was working on eight stories, that meant not only eight heroes and heroines, but their pets, horses, parents, siblings, kids, etc., all with distinct personalities and traits. If I hadn’t organized them, I might well have confused a few of them."

    LOL ... I do hear you on that, but only because I had 15 MAIN characters in my O'Connor family saga, who not only factored heavily into each book, but some even had their own subplots. But still, that's just one book at a time, so huge kudos to anyone who can write more than that at once!!

    And SUPER CONGRATS on eight contracts in a fourteen-month spread -- WOW!! I'm sure hoping some of them were novellas or I'm going to feel way more slow than I already am!! ;)

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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  42. Congrats, Susie. It's wonderful to see your books out there. You are so much more organized than I am and will keep this close by because my mind took a holiday when I was trying to finish one story, and was presented with galley edits for another. It probably wouldn't have been so bad except that both were the same year and rough geographical location and I struggled to keep the stories separate.

    And speaking of holidays...I would have been here yesterday except it was Victoria Day and I spent it with hubby and son, a rare occurrence to have them both here at the same time these days.

    So very happy for your success.

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  43. I had never thought of what it would be like to have to switch back and forth between stories you are writing. I love this post it really helps me to see what many of the authors I love deal with.

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