The Island of Lost Book Projects

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is all about the things we want to do. We’re asking everyone to name three projects we’ve been planning to work on for a long while and haven’t yet touched.

It’s kind of like the writer version of the Island of Lost Toys. Come on over to find out mine. 

Still Bleeding – the Worst Rejection Ever

I had to share this tweet from Agent Sarah. We got the cover flats for THE ORCHID THRONE (out in September 2019, but review copies are going out now – eep!) and they have foil! That’s the shiny stuff on the cover. It shows best in the video from her tweet, but here’s a still pic, in case the video doesn’t play. Super cool, huh? It’s my first cover with foil, and it’s SO PRETTY!

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is Knife in the Heart: The Harshest, Meanest Rejections from a Publisher/Editor/Agent. Come on over to hear about mine.

Finding – and Defending – Balance

This photo is from a few weeks ago, but I think I never posted it. Ice on the rain chain and the fairy sculpture my mom gave me in the background. 

It’s been a busy week for me so far. I’m making excellent progress on THE FIERY CITADEL (sequel to THE ORCHID THRONE). I’ve also been making daily inroads on collecting my income tax information for my CPA. And there’s been a lot going on with Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) – where I serve on the Board as a Director at Large – both the peaking of some planned projects and dealing with some problems. We also have elections going on, so yesterday I took some time to answer the “Questions for Candidates” on the SFWA forums.

One person asked the candidates if we’d to prioritize our SFWA work above everything else in my life. I said no. I added that I’d never expect that of any SFWA volunteer.

Hell, I’d never expect that of anyone, for any activity in life. Not 24/7.

We talk a lot about work/life balance, or work/family balance. For me, my life runs the smoothest when I devote some time each day to my various commitments. I have my To Do List color-coded for various activities (I am the Spreadsheet Queen, after all) with time allotted to each. Getting word count happens first because I write best in the mornings and that’s how I keep the roof over our heads and food in the pantry. I also have categories for blogging or doing my podcast, for updating financials – which includes keeping track of royalties and getting money to authors who participate in anthologies with me – for exercise, for errands and household chores, and an hour a day for SFWA. 

Sometimes it’s more; sometimes it’s less.

But overall, balance for me means making every day reflect the pattern I want my overall life to have – and that means some of everything that’s important to me. 

Chatting with friends and hanging out with the hubs? Those things happen every day, too, but I don’t have to put them on a list. 🙂

Being the Yoda of Long-Term Planning

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is short term, mid-term and long-term planning. Come on over to find out why I identify with Yoda on this. (And what that funny device in the photo is!)

Juggling Multiple Projects – How to Decide What to Work on Next

Jeffe on the Iron Throne cropHere’s me on the Iron Throne (from Game of Thrones, if you’re not in the know). I’m feeling like I look pretty natural there. The only thing missing is that I did not yet have my WWJJD? (What Would Jessica Jones Do?) ribbon.

Still pretty kickass, though.

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven (which totally sounds like a superhero group to me, to continue to riff on the theme), is “What next? How do you decide which projects when?”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

Okay, seriously – come on over to find out what my method is. Spoiler alert: it involves spreadsheets.

Lessons from the Spreadsheet Queen

Get-It-Together-Blog-Hop-Graphic-big-510x510At the invitation of the lovely Alexandra Haughton (and Lindsay Emory, who I’m sure is also lovely, though I don’t think we’ve met), I’m participating in their Get It Together Blog Hop.

Because I am, you know, the uncrowned Spreadsheet Queen.

I began my love affair with Microsoft Excel as soon as it hit the market, using it in various day jobs. It was the tinkering with it for personal use that led me to understand its arcane inner workings. I love the formulas, the conditional formatting, the logic tests. I even make Gantt Charts! (You don’t know what a Gantt Chart is? Stick with me, Grasshopper.) I have my three favorite Excel Workbooks open at all times. In fact, here’s a shot of my screen as I draft this post.

Screenshot 2015-09-01 11.43.34You might have to blow it up to see the tabs at the bottom – but there’s Walking Goals, To Do List and Progress Count. Welcome to my world.

Walking Goals

I use a treadmill desk and keep track of my walking goals daily. I’m part of a Writers Who Walk Facebook group and our goal for the year is to walk at least 1,000 miles. You can see from the screenshot below that I’m at about 780 miles so far for 2015, or 78% of the goal. As we’re only about 67% through the year, conditional formatting shows that green Yes! I am on target. Actually I could do zero walking until October 12 before we hit the red No.

Screenshot 2015-09-01 11.48.14

To Do List

I keep a running To Do List. If I don’t finish tasks set for one day, I move them to the next. My list is rather shockingly empty this week – and thank all the gods for that! I’ve finally caught up on a slew of things. Some days I have twenty task on there. I delete as I go, so you can see that “spreadsheet post for tomorrow” listed for Tuesday will vanish very soon. I love deleting!

Screenshot 2015-09-01 11.55.59Sharp-eyed readers will note I also track carbs, shows people recommend, books I’ve read and other sundry topics.

Progress Count

The Progress Count workbook is where I really geek out. I’ve been using some version of this workbook for easily twenty years, with continuing refinements along the way. The first tab is Priorities, where I track my deadlines, all of which have interconnected formulas. That is, start dates for the next project are calculated off the projected finish dates of others.

Screenshot 2015-09-01 12.15.58I track every step – drafting, cooling (which usually corresponds to crit partner reading time), revising, and all stages of editing for my publishing houses. I preserve these histories, too, and use them to project my finish dates. Right now this tab only projects out about six months, though in the past it’s been as long as two years.

The next tab is Commitments, in which I use all of those dates to make Gantt charts, like this one.

 

 CommitmentI love these because the let me visually process what I’m loading my plate with – especially those dreaded periods of overlap. I also plug in workshops I’ll teach, as you can see. There’s another chart with release dates, too, for visualizing that periodicity.

Then there’s my Overall tab, which counts my daily word count on everything. This is the origin page, which spawned all the others. I track how much I write – including blogging like this – on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Those are the numbers from Monday, as I hadn’t yet reset it for today. The Words Today section counts from all the ensuing tabs, which follow, one per work in progress.

Screenshot 2015-09-01 12.29.36For example, here’s the tab for THE PAGES OF THE MIND. I finished drafting it, sent it to my editor and now I’m working on developmental edits. Over to the right of the page you can see my revision goal, which is predicated on pages/day, instead of wordcount. I count the words added anyway, for my overall goals.

Screenshot 2015-09-01 12.36.33Finally, I keep charts of my weekly,Weekly chartmonthly Montlhy chartand annual counts!

 Annual chart I’m happy to entertain questions in the comments!

Meanwhile, feel free to join the blog hop Rafflecopter giveaway – many prize packs to be had!

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