Another Tuesday

Yep, it’s been a couple of weeks since the last Time Management Tuesday post and I’ve been running and gunning. Guess you could say my time usage has been helter-skelter for actual management, but it’s all good.

Last week, the final cover revealed for Book of Change, VERY EXCITING because I LOVE this cover:

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It is perfect to me…so I’m sharing it everywhere! I hope you like it too!

I have also been shipping swag to various events, some I’ll be attending- to go into the goodie bags, and others I’m not going to be able to physically be present, but still wanted to share goodies with readers! The gal at the post and I are fast friends again and my credit card and I are in negotiations to just charge itself when I cross the threshold at the post. It would be easier. ūüôā

Time was spent laying groundwork for The Custos, which is the rough & dirty title for the series that Book of Change is from. Book of Time is technically the first book, and it’s a mini…but a much better introduction to The Custos and White Diamond, which are central to the series. In order to have them come out in order, for those who have been aware that Book of Change was coming…hang on just a smidge longer. Book of Time and Book of Change will come out essentially simultaneously while the dog days of summer linger long, hot, and needing distractions.

I realized the need for Book of Time after Change was put to bed and to do it right, I don’t see another way but to get them out together. So, those attending Authors After Dark in Savannah Georgia will get first option on both, but then they will be out for the masses and Jillian (my PA) and I will have a belated release party to celebrate them when I return from the south. Also coming in the series will be Book of Mysteries, Book of Revelations, & Book of Prophecy. I’m rather excited, even though the full plotting isn’t ready for the latter three titles.

Still, with Time Management being the focus, let’s visit a bit about that. No matter how structured your time is, you need to remember to have flexibility to change and shift as other things come up. The last two weeks have been a lot of ebb & flow and going with the wind for me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t need to recoup some of the time I lost, I do. What it does mean, is that while inspiration was hot and things were working, I allowed myself to take the opportunity presented and maximize the time to the fullest potential that had been unrealized and unrecognized in my planning stages.

And that, is really what time management is about at the core…it is about using the time we have to make it work for us¬†instead of us working for more of it. When we are able to get time to work to our advantage is when we can truly claim to have managed it. As we said from the beginning, you can’t make more of it for yourself in any given day. If we do it right though, it can seem like we did because we have accomplished more in less than we thought we required.

Until next time…plan your work, work your plan, BUT remember that the best laid plans are just plans. Life happens and has to be accounted for in the accounting too.

All the best to you!

 

 

Time Management Tuesday

To date, we’ve talked about divided folders for organization, as well as an event planner work sheets for keeping track of expenses, the reality of how quickly time can fly past when we are pre-occupied, and cherishing each moment we are given…but there’s more to consider. I pointed out that we all have the same amount of time in each day, down to the second…but how do we maximize what we have? This is the subject of this weeks post. Like everything else, a plan is integral for managing time usage on any given day. I’m not suggesting a regimented, set the timer, when the bell goes off switch tasks kind of plan but rather a take accounting for what needs to be accomplished, prioritize the tasks based on what must, should, and might need to be done, and factor in how much time we realistically need to complete everything on our list.

The other thing to consider is that every task does not need to be part of the plan every day. As an author the task board is fairly consistent with duties; write, edit, promote, interact with readers are the main components. Let’s start with these knowing that there are multiple other items that infiltrate the list on any given day.

Write. First and foremost, to be called author one must do the dirty deed…put words on the page. Writing for some is a habit, and one that must be completed daily. For others, the act of writing takes so long to reach cohesion that a long stretch of hours is necessary to find the force of will to stay in the chair.¬†Which are you?

For some, the writing process is one of sitting down and letting their fingers fly to create. Commonly, this is called Pantser writing. The opposite is the Plotter, where the actual act of the writing is the final step of a long journey that began with research, outlines, character developments, scene by scene plotting, and verbal or mental fleshing out of the story to the degree that when the time comes to write the tale, it can essentially write itself.  Again, which are you?

Knowing your writing style is essential to understanding how to use your time. If you are a Pantser, you have your epiphany and will spend more time in the chair writing and re-writing initially, and then in editing to streamline the work. When you plan your time for this style of writing it is a good idea to have a word count, chapter count, or other goal in mind for knowing when you have completed the task for the time.

For the plotter, the lead time to finding a comfortable way to sit is a long stretch. Managing the story for this type of author is more structured, thus the time management aspect is as well. How much time do we set aside to research locations, or to build characters, how do we plot the scenes and find the arcing threads that tie the tale together? These are the questions that plague a plotter, and once managed liberate them to sit and tell the story essentially from start to end very quickly. Because the mistakes, missteps, and detours have occurred during the plotting phase, the writing and editing phases are more streamlined. The overall process is not significantly shorter or longer for this type of writer, just different.

I’m a plotter if you didn’t know. I thank Cherry Adair every time I finally sit to write for teaching me how to hone that skill set. I fought with a story for a couple of years before I learned it, and once I did…and plotted it out, it took less than 2 weeks to write and about that long¬†to edit, though the plotting and structuring phase took over a month to get down. It was the same couple of months it takes many pantser writers to accomplish the same story…just a different use of the time.

That’s rough and dirty writing and editing…the other two pieces, promotion and interacting with others…to me are essentially the same thing. This is where managing our time is tantamount because social media can suck you in and cause you to forget the clock quickly. In this case, the timer is not a bad idea. The same can be said for a writing buddy or family member to hold you accountable for limiting your time ‘playing.’ Another idea that my PA taught me, was to schedule regular posts or promotions¬†to help with keeping to the limits that I have set for myself. By posting say, a month of teasers, or a week of posts at a time when I’m not interacting with others, when I get online to interact, I have freed up that time to meaningfully¬†do so¬†without being tied to housekeeping or¬†getting posts up. Managing when I get to interact openly, means that I can allow myself to spend the extra time instead of racing to fit it in and get the scheduled things up too. I also enjoy it more because I don’t feel like I’m cutting myself, or someone else short on a chance to chat. win-win.

Now, I’m not going to say I’m doing it all correctly and you should do it my way. I’m not so obtuse as to presume that there aren’t other ways – there absolutely are. What I am suggesting is that the first thing you need to do as an author to help manage your time is to understand how you use it, what you need to do to maximize it, and have a sense of what works for you or doesn’t. Make time in your schedule to do some soul-searching and honestly determine what you NEED as a writer, what you WANT as a person, and how to fit those two pieces together so you don’t short-change yourself on either front. Time management is a puzzle and no two puzzles have exactly the same shape pieces. Figure out how yours goes together and build a beautiful finished product. You and your work are worth it.

The laundry got done

It’s been a bumpy¬†few weeks. Between work going nuts, the passing of my mother in law, the funeral for my mother in law, trying to clean out the hoarder house of my mother in law, and my husband’s surgery…I’ve been out of the saddle for far longer than I thought I would be, and it’s only been a couple three weeks. I am behind, I won’t try to sugar coat it, I lost serious ground attending to things beyond my control, and the finish line is still wayyy around the next bend or two.

I have three events coming up back to back which will also take me out of the writing chair for a long stretch, so it became imperative to get my butt in the seat and get some work things done. I have a countdown started over at my facebook author page for the big reveal of the cover for Book of Change…even though for live events, the cover has been out for about 8 weeks. Those who haven’t been where I have been signing will finally get to see the cover Tuesday June 21st. Are you following along?

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I also tossed out a teaser for the upcoming book The Custos, which will debut at Author’s After Dark this August in Savannah Georgia…wonder what 43 is? Will you be there to find out first?

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Follow along and keep your eyes peeled to find out more about this and White Diamond.

But I digress. I have far more to catch up on, including getting back on track for Time Management Tuesdays, (hopefully THIS week), getting my blog posts up over at my publisher page – eclecticbardbooks.com, and getting the edits done on a few pieces as well as wrap the research and get ‘The Bible’ done for Chasing Daylight. The list is long, but at least through the madness I was able to keep up with the laundry. Some things just cannot slide, and if I learned anything from my mother, it’s that you always need clean underthings. ūüôā

 

Perspectives

My house smells & looks like a floral shop after the services today for my mother in law, which I love…but so does the little cat who thinks we brought home snacks. Every high shelf is now covered in blooms.

Love those with you whenever you can, life is short.

In other news, I have managed to generate the premise for yet another tale that will have to wait til Custos & Chasing Daylight are wrapped.

#thestruggleisreal #writerproblems

Time Management Tuesday #2

5/31/2016

When I started this segment last week I had a grand plan for what I would be posting this week. Suffice to say, that’s not what’s going to go up. I was reminded vividly these past several days of a lesson that I learned a long time ago about time that bears repeating now, before we delve into the tools of managing our time usage.

You see…what it all boils down to is this: We all have exactly the same number of hours, minutes, and seconds in each day as everyone else, except of course for our first one and our last one. For every¬†day in between, we have no more or no less than anyone else. It is what we DO with that gift that makes, breaks, or leaves us idle. How ever many days we get, the length of each one is the same for everyone experiencing it. We need to be vigilant to remind ourselves of this, and ask ourselves constantly what it is that we are doing in any given moment to move our self¬† forward, up, and beyond where we have been.

The past week has been a blur for me, and the rest of my household. We have been to the highest heights, and the deepest lows in such a short span that I’m not sure where we have landed yet. My daughter graduated high school and waits for her time to leave for the Navy just as my nephew graduated from basic training for the Air Force and now heads out to his A-school. We were all¬†on cloud-9, and then the phone call came that scratched the vinyl; time was quickly¬†drawing to a close for my mother in law. It was surreal.

Eight weeks ago she fell and broke her leg. During surgery to repair the break the tumor was found. Shortly thereafter, so were the mets that go with the aggressive cancer that came back confirmed from the biopsy. We thought we had a chance to fight. We were wrong. The mets were everywhere and growing quickly. We went from shock and fight for your life, to there are no more options and you should make arrangements, in so short a window I don’t think any of us can put it to words. This past Saturday morning we got the call that there were less than 24 hours, give or take. The scramble to get her oldest son home in time, and to get everyone through to say ‘goodbye’ was exhausting, but managed. It had all happened so very fast.

She passed in the early morning hours on Sunday. We did all the things that needed doing to clear her room at the nursing facility and get her where she could be cared for and prepared for her last party, but there was no time yet¬†to grieve. We still had other obligations. As you should well know by now…time waits for no one. It is the great equalizer amongst us all and while you are doing what needs doing, it slips through your grasp and floats on. My daughter had her end of the year banquet and awards on Sunday afternoon/evening. We were half-hearted heading out to go. She too, was not looking forward to the events. We were all spent, but we went anyway.

I am so thankful that we did. A new award for dedication and excellence was put into place and dedicated Sunday night for the outgoing CAPA (creative and performing arts high school) director. It was a surprise for him at the event, and to our daughter’s surprise, she became the inaugural recipient. For Dedication to the Art & Craft of Theater. The pendulum swung the other way when we least expected momentum.

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It was the positive she needed to finish the difficult¬†day. I am proud and grateful to see her efforts and enduring commitment recognized. The plaque that will hang in the theater also bears her name now and will be displayed for who knows how long…there are 29 other spots to fill, thus¬†time will continue.

Our other daughter did not attend the awards, instead she went to make peace with the day a different way. The artist who rendered the work was shocked still for a moment to realize the final date was the same day as he was working, but also moved by the gesture being made. She took the time to have a last coke with my mother in law, the only way that was now left to her.

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(yes, she’s got a thing for getting ink’d)

The point is not to share my crazy week so much as it is to realize that for every moment, there are different paths to choose. We can embrace each one for the opportunity they present to us, or we can toss them away with not embracing what could be. Time will go on, and we will have accomplishments and appreciation, or we will have regrets and loss. Which will yours be? What are YOU doing in this moment to make yourself better, stronger, faster and going further than where you have been before. It IS a choice, one we get to make over and over every day. Choose wisely before the moment is gone.

Time Management Tuesday

week #2

Last week we talked about my 5-section organizer thingies, and they are GREAT….I mean really, really great. They are right up in the top 5 things that I do to manage my time usage, because let’s face it, we cannot manage time literally. It is a theoretical impossibility until and unless we all collectively decree to mark it differently, but even then…time will be what it is, how we measure it is all that will be changed, but I digress…

This week I want to talk to the writers out there who are doing public appearances or direct selling…be it small signings, one day group signings, or big multi-day event convention-style appearances. What do they all have in common? Well, besides us? MONEY. And that my friends…takes some management of resources – including time. Come tax season, you all know what I’m talking about…it takes TIME to get all our shhh…tuff together for the tax man. Right? Right! How can we make that faster so we can be using that time for other things? We get organized for it.

I’m a bit of a nut about some things. In Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – I have the obsessive side of the coin with respect to details and organization. I can lock the front door once and I’m good…but the minutia details¬† of things will drive me crazy, I have an Obsessive streak a mile wide. It serves me well though. Besides running my house, Eclectic Bard Books, in the corporate world I’ve taught “Time Management & Organization” for the past decade and a half…even though it’s not technically correctly named. (one of those detail things…but I didn’t name the course, only instruct it.) Hopefully, I’ll be able to transition some of the tools without sharing my crazy through this site¬†on my¬†Tuesday visits.

Back to the point – This is a spreadsheet I came up with to use for events, specifically to track my costs, but also to determine event feasibility for when I’m booking the future. Was an event profitable for me? Did I cover my expenses? Can I make changes that will enable to me to cover them at a repeat visit?

More importantly for time conservation come tax season…do I have all of my receipts? Do I know how much I sold and what did those items (BOOKS) cost me to print and have shipped to me to be able to sell them in the first place. What donations did I make to patrons in swag, free copies to bloggers, prizes for the event, promotional fees to be in the program, etc. All of these numbers are easier to recall and record fresh from the event than months later rifling through the calendar and bank pages trying to find things.

Another week I’ll share the roll up spreadsheet I use to coordinate month by month so come tax time I have 12 files to consolidate and prep instead of eleventy-billion. That document includes the other expenses that aren’t event specific, for now…here’s the event one. Obviously you can modify this however you wish…this is what works for me and keeps me on track for the major categories that I have to account for in the Spring.

Til next time, I hope this helps!

EVENT: Date:
Contact Information:
Expenses: Paid date/via Receipt Notes
Table:  denote deposits separately from total if it is multiple receipts  do you have one?
Promotion:  fees for the printed program
Event in Event:  did you pay additionally to do a special event during a convention?
Travel: ¬†air or drive –

ait – remember transportation to the airport too

drive – gas & tolls

Miles:
Lodging:  was there a security hold and did it get returned?
Meals:  included ones that had a fee and ones outside your event
Misc:  car rental?
   
Inventory: ¬†cost plus shipping for what you brought to sell ¬†*note if it was inventory purchased previously or if you had to order for this event. Shelved inventory is different from new – you don’t count twice. You’ve already recorded the lost sale for the expense.
Swag:  made prices and piece prices of components for those you make yourself
Prizes: things given that you get no profit from to report    
Donations:  to the event or individuals Рsponsored bags, or rafflebaskets, etc
Sales: Books:
 how many & total income  profit after costs to print & ship
Swag:
 if you sell separately
Evaluation: Threshold: Profit/Loss: Re-book:
 how much did you need to make to cover your costs  BOTTOM LINE
Notes:
 anything you need to remember about this event that is not financial

well organized – reader following – good network