Thursday, September 29, 2011

Riley’s Handy Dandy List

Today Riley Redgate is my guest here on The Write Time. I am blogging over on The Mighty Jungle today.

I met Riley Redgate over at AQC, I was fortunate to have her critique my query when I put it up for review. It wasn’t sugar coated, but it was well said. So as I learned more about her the more impressed I became. Here is a bit of what I've pieced together about Riley: She is a competitive piano player; in a service club, leads an a cappella group, runs cross country, manages/acts with a theatre troupe, She is valedictorian, and right now she has two mss in the works and one steaming up in her brain that's crying out to be written! She claims to never sleep. I tend to believe that based on the time stamps on some of her comments on AQC!

Go check out her blog In The Jungle.

I told her she was a prime candidate to post on my blog, she has accomplished a lot. So here is Riley!

First of all, big thanks to Dean for inviting me here! Perhaps writing about time management will ... er ... make me better at it. Because yep, that's right, I'm not an epically efficient time wizard.

Actually, funny story! I used to be an epically efficient time wizard. Back in middle school, oh man, I was so good at time management. I had schedules for myself. I had blocks of time set up for 1) homework, 2) piano practice, 3) sports practice (soccer, tennis, softball), 4) rehearsal, 5) hanging out with my friends every so often, 6) reading, and 7) necessary bodily functions.

Just kidding. I didn't plot out my necessary bodily functions. I was/am a little neurotic, sure, but not THAT neurotic...

Anyway. Notice what's missing from that handy-dandy list?

Oh yeah, that's right. WRITING. My high productivity levels met a swift and messy end when I discovered something I enjoyed doing that took up tremendous blobs of time. And it was just a vicious cycle from there, believe me. Here's a little how-to guide for emulating my sophomore year (for those of you with whom I'm unacquainted, that's two years ago):

Step One: Get home from school; spend time writing.
Step Two: Start homework far too late; work into the wee hours of the morning.
Step Three: Wake up bleary and exhausted.
Step Four: Slog through school.
Step Five: Come home and spend time writing ... but since I'm exhausted, this takes far longer than it should.
Step Six: Start homework at midnight; spend hours doing what would have taken half an hour had I slept more the night before...
Step Seven: Wake up dead.
Rinse and repeat.

You can imagine how much fun that was! Yeah, not at all. But that's okay - I've come up with an easy, fun, perfect solution.

I have a pretty busy existence. Here's some quick math - every Monday through Friday, I have:

-cross-country practice for twelve-and-a-half-ish hours
-rehearsal for twelve-and-a-half-ish hours
-school for forty hours
-piano for two or three hours; chorus is the same.

So that's 70-ish hours absorbed out of 120 available hours. Subtract eating (I don't eat breakfast; so let's say a small 2.5 hours for food) and general hygiene (2.5 other hours) and I have 45 hours left to play with. According to my father, teenagers are supposed to have 9 and 1/4 hours of sleep a night (HA HA HA yeah right). That's already not feasible; that would require 46 and a fourth hours.

What's the easy, fun, perfect solution to this mathematical paradox, you ask? Where's the writing time coming from?

Tricked you! I was kidding - there is nothing easy, fun, or perfect about having to carve time out of nowhere to do the thing that calls your name 24/7.

What I do know is that going a day without writing would be more frustrating than going a day without food. And... er, yeah, I'm well aware that sounds WAY overdramatic, but it's no exaggeration. Eating doesn't give me any sort of spiritual fulfillment or intellectual satisfaction. After eating, I don't feel like I've gained anything or done anything of worth. Writing, on the other hand, is my outlet. It's what I wait for during those 8 hours of school and 2 hours of running and 3 hours of rehearsal. So yes, I'm willing to sacrifice sleep for it.

Weekends are another matter. More specifically, weekends are heaven. Provided I don't have too much homework, I will sleep and write and sleep some more and lounge around being slothlike and then writewritewrite.

Usually, though, it's a struggle. But hey - you give some, you get some. Personally, I'm way happier having lost bunches of sleep and gained a novel than I would be if I'd just been well-rested all the time.

That said, I don't budget writing time only out of my sleeping hours. I plan characters during my lunch period (yeah, I'm that weird girl scribbling in her car during lunch break), plot while I'm running my cross country workouts, and if a class is being particularly useless... well, I may just find an alternate activity. I maximize the output of every second I can get.

It's a big question, whether we're willing to give up normal activities (i.e. sleeping) for writing, especially when we're in the 'thankless' stage of the process (unpublished, unagented, un-everythinged). But in my opinion, writing is all about risk. How much time am I willing to give? How big a plot am I willing to write? How daring is my concept? Can I really sacrifice sleep and energy for the novel brewing in my mind? We have to put everything we've got on the table, write with reckless abandon. And sure, maybe it's reckless to abandon the conventions of studenthood to stay up typing and retyping the same sentence into Microsoft Word, debating whether the use of passive voice is appropriate here, wondering if my characters are well-rounded enough. These are not problems for normal people.

I guess I'm fine with not being normal.

Thanks again, Dean, for having me! Write on! =]

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest Blogger Riley Redgate and Peter Morin Launches his book today!

Tomorrow will be a blog swap.

Riley Redgate will be my guest blogger. I will be In The Mighty Jungle giving some time management tips over on her blog.

IT'S LAUNCH DAY! Pete Morin, an AQC friend, is releasing his novel, Diary of a Small Fish. Wow, I'll have to put him on my to interview list! Anyway today is his day. Congrads Pete! Go check out his work.



Barnes and Noble:

Here's the blurb:

When Paul Forte is indicted by a federal grand jury, everyone suspects prosecutor Bernard (don’t call him “Bernie”) Kilroy has more on his mind than justice. Then the FBI agent in charge of Paul’s case gives him a clue to the mystery: Kilroy is bent on settling an old family score, and he’s not above breaking the law to do it.

Paul is already dealing with the death of his parents and divorce from a woman he still loves. Now, with the support of an alluring grand juror, Paul must expose the vindictive prosecutor’s own corruption before the jury renders a verdict on his Osso Buco.


Pete Morin has been a trial attorney, a politician, a bureaucrat, a lobbyist, and a witness (voluntary and subpoenaed) to countless outrages. He combines them all in this debut novel.

Pete’s short fiction has appeared in NEEDLE, A Magazine of Noir, Words With Jam, 100 Stories for Haiti, and Words to Music. He published many of them in a collection titledUneasy Living, available on Amazon and Smashwords.

When he is not writing crime fiction or legal mumbo jumbo, Pete plays blues guitar in Boston bars, enjoys the beach, food and wine with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two adult children, and on rare occasion, punches a fade wedge to a tight pin surrounded by sand or water. He lives in a money pit on the seacoast south of Boston, in an area once known as the Irish Riviera.

Pete is represented by Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency.

See everyone tomorrow for our blog swap!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Versital Blogger Award Thanks, and the Awards Go To...

Well I didn’t expect this, but it is sure nice to receive things unlooked for. My friend I’ve made over at AQC has sent me the Versatile Blogger Award. So to start this off I send her a heartfelt thank you!

So here is the award:

And here are the rules:

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated me.
2. Share seven random facts about myself.
3. Pass the award along to 5 new-found blogging buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

Seven Random Facts.

1. I’ve a BS from Utah State University in Business
2. I’ve visited 38 of the 50 states
3. I’ve lived in 10 different states
4. I drive my cars until they are worn out (200,000 miles +)
5. All my children play a musical instrument (Piano, Cello, Flute, Viola, and sing)
6. I’ve built two houses.
7. I have an hour commute to work.

Now to honor five blogging buddies who I feel are versatile bloggers.

1. Cat Woods – She has some of the most awesome blog posts.
2. Joyce Alton aka Clippership – I think she has some of the most insightful posts.
3. RC Lewis – Has some practical ideas
4. Jeff King – I respect this fellow, who really is working hard at learning his craft and sharing with everyone
5. MarcyKate – has a very versatile blog and think this would look good on her site.
6. I know only five, but Riley Redgate has so much going on in her life she needs one for her blog so when she comes back she has something to write about!

So there it all is. Thanks again Moonshade.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Guest Blogger Cat Woods on TIME® MANAGEMENT

Today's blog post is by guest blogger Cat Woods. Yes, she is another friend I've made over at Agent Query Connect. She has a fantastic blog called Words from the Woods (My favorite post on her blog was about her computer in need of protection.) She is a great writer, and has a fantastic blog. Check it out, but remember to come back here!

So anyway, I asked Cat if she'd like to be a guest blogger, so yes, we are doing a blog swap. I've got to think up something to say for her, but since my compters are all on the fritz she hasn't given me a firm deadline, yet...

So Here is Cat.

First I'd like to thank Dean for asking me to guest post on his blog. One of the reasons I'm so impressed with the invitation is that Dean is organized and writes a blog on time management. I, however, am not. Organized or good at time management.

On the outside, I'm pretty unruffled. Yet when you peek inside, you'll note that I'm a bit of a mess. I've forgotten to drop my kids off at school. I've told my kids I'll pick them up in five minutes and remember this promise two hours later. I'll lose track of time and realize at 5:28 that the hamburger is still frozen for dinner--scheduled to be eaten at 5:32.

But before you call social services on me, hear me out.

I'm learning to better manage my time thanks to the handy invention of a timer. You laugh, but the end result is that I no longer forget my children AND I'm more productive by the end of the day.

Here's the method to my madness.

I plug every, single, little thing into my google calendar and assign events multiple reminders based on how much time I will need to prep for said event. As the day progresses, my phone will chime a beautiful reminder and my computer will concur. I then calculate what I need to get done and how much time I have left to do it in. This is where the microwave comes in.

I set the timer. Sometimes both the microwave and the stove. Then I get busy. I use this specific chunk of time to write, or any derivation, thereof. The adrenaline kicks in and nudges my creativity. "Hello," the downward spiraling numbers seem to say, "you only have forty seven minutes and sixteen seconds to get that scene done. Oh wait...forty seven fifteen, forty seven fourteen, thirteen, twelve...."

This time constraint works for my otherwise-wandering mind and keeps me focused on the task at hand.

But what about the days I have nothing planned beyond the mundane housework, work out and meal prep and the not-so mundane writing, reading, social networking and editing?

Not having specific events scheduled in an eight hour period turns me into a labrador puppy with a bad case of ADD. I sniff my way from project to project, getting side-tracked upon side-tracked. Before I know it, the day is over and I've followed various links so deep into the cyber sphere I could tell you when the first case of documented toilet paper use was (589 AD in China) and what some of the more unseemly substitutions were (you don't want to know). Strange when you consider I started hours earlier by looking up the definition of pugnacious.

On these days, the washing machine nicely breaks up my day and helps me keep on task. Throw in one load of laundry and blog. When the buzzer goes off at the end of the cycle, switch gears. In this way, I move throughout my day of writing and real life, succeeding at both endeavors.

And if I fail to hear the laundry buzzer, it's usually because I got wrapped up in my writing or editing, in which case all is forgiven because I'm on a roll.

Oops, gotta run. The microwave is calling my name.

Thanks, Dean!

When Cat Woods isn't chasing dust bunnies or raising her family of seven (1 dear hubby, 4 fabulous kids and 2 hunting labs), she writes juvenile lit. She's penned everything from warm and fuzzy board books to dark YA. You can find her at Words from the Woods, where she blogs about her writing journey.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Snapshot


The word is appropriate. My dad, my wife, two of my sons, and myself enjoy photography. A photograph is different from a snapshot. A photograph uses light, subject, film speed, depth of field, foreground, color, subject, and perhaps even the shot tells a story. A snapshot is just that. Something looks good and the picture is just “snapped.”

So with all the enjoyment of photography it is ironic that a snapshot has become a cherished possession. Recently I was gathering up things from the office I would no longer be using. I picked up the snapshot. To anyone else it is just a picture. A picture of myself with my 18 year old son walking along the white sandy beach of Biloxi, Mississippi a year after Katrina took the town off the map. What makes the snapshot so special is two fold and taken together gives me solace.

It was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, 2006. We hadn’t even planned on going to the beach that day. That morning my wife and I looked at each other and knew we had to get away. So we told the kids we were taking an old fashioned trip, no iPods, Gameboys, PSPs, or DVD players. We would take a trip to the coast with each other and have some fun. So we packed a lunch, loaded the children into the van and hit the road.

We were about 15 minutes into our trip when Kevin’s cell phone rang, or rather his ring tone sounded. It was work wanting to know if he could come in that day. He told them no. I told Kevin we could take the trip on Monday and he could go into work today but he declined. We were on our way.

It was a fun trip. We sang songs, laughed, ate lunch at Sonic because Kevin had a bunch of coupons and he liked eating there. The marquee said, “There are no hurricanes in heaven.” We laughed at that. Got to the beach and chased seagulls. My wife’s camera was passed around as Kevin, Lynda, and I took turns taking pictures of things that interested us. Jelly fish, sand dollars, bird footprints in the sand, a crab. The kids making the gulls fly. Lynda snapped a shot of Kevin and me walking up the beach.

The following Saturday Kevin was fatally injured in an auto accident and passed away from his injuries a few days later. So I look at the snapshot and remember the joy that was my son. A reminder of a trip that almost wasn’t and a captured moment that brings to mind a day of fun. The snapshot is the last picture of Kevin and me together. Solace comes from having no regrets and gratitude for my wife who captures the moments with her ever present camera.

Thoughts of that day bring back good memories. I don’t remember the stories we shared, or the jokes we laughed at. I remember a pleasant day where we rode in the car entertaining ourselves because we sang songs, laughed, and enjoyed a day together with no outside entertainment from DVD’s or electronic games or zoned out in personal space with iPod headphones on tuning out each other. We were all tuned into each other. The memory is special because it was the last trip we ever took with Kevin.

A simple snapshot, a cherished moment, a reminder to live each day by enjoying the moments as they come. Life is a series of moments that are strung together like popcorn on a child’s craft necklace. As I put the snapshot into my box of things to take from my office I smile at the memories and sigh in relief, glad we decided to get away for a day. My snapshot that reminds me, at least for that day, that I have no regrets.

-- Dean C. Rich January 2008

Note: Kevin passed away 5 years ago September 12th. He has been on my mind this last week, as anniversaries tend to do. I read The Dash on The Starving Novelist's blog (Wednesday, September 14, 2011 blog entry) and it reminded me of my late son, so I thought I'd share this. This is one reason I am so passionate about how I spend my time, and remembering what is really important in your life.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


You may not think of this as time management tool, but I feel a good routine can really help with the time management world.

Several Years ago I started a new job. The fellow I was replacing spent two days teaching me everything that was going on and what needed to completed. Okay, deadlines.

What I found interesting was the last day we made a list of everything that needed to be done. Then he wrote out the work week, Monday thru Friday. Then we took the tasks and put them under different days. Once all the tasks had a day then we put them in a priority on the days.

Just like that I had a schedule of things that needed to be done and when. As I started working each week then things started to become a routine.

Once the routine started working, things were getting done and I was successful. Then when curves and things that upset the routine started I was able to take them in stride and take care of those issues, and still get the main tasks completed as well.

I am currently a General Manager, and I have found a rhythm to the store. Orders, schedules, deliveries, interviews, hiring, training, and other odds and ends. So I try to set up times and days things need to happen and make a routine. Now there are always interruptions, things don’t always go according to plan. Yet making a routine helps get things done and insures the important daily things make it to the completed/done section.

Writing is and can be very sporadic. How can you take creativity and put it into a routine? As I’ve talked with other writers some things are starting to become apparent. Self discipline, and a passion about getting their stories onto paper. (Okay perhaps paper is become cliché, but it has to be written in digital or written down, but words have to be put out in some form or another I just use paper as the metaphor to get the point across.) There are things that are common, research, writing, editing, revising, beta reading, and critiquing. So a routine can be built, how it is built is up to you. There are many roads to Chicago, how you get there is your affair.

What I like best about routine is this: you can go to autopilot and things just get done. However, you must make a routine that works for you, be disciplined to make it work. Once it is working then things that must be done, do get done.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Take Care of Your Future Self – No One Else Will

This last weekend I had the opportunity to take a quick trip to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and my new grandson. Because of my time constraints with work, it was a down and back day trip. Thus a very early start, O’dark thirty. So I took the car and filled the tank. We packed what we eat for lunch. So the next morning we loaded up the family and took off. I didn’t have to stop and tank up, besides the gas station was not open yet. We were able to make our deadlines and had a great trip. One reason the trip went so well was due to some advanced preparations. My past self took care of my future self, as I like to think of it. No, I do not have a time machine; I do not control any time travel device. I’m very linier, just like the rest of us. I do try to think about what will happen later, and try to make arrangements to make things easier for myself later. I’ve made a commitment to this blog to have a tip on Thursdays. Typically, I am at work early Thursday mornings. Or I have to work late Wednesday night. Either way I do not have the opportunity to write a blog and post it Thursday. So I write the blog entry earlier in the week or, if I have time, I’ll write two or three posts, and then set them up to auto post. I meet my commitment to post weekly, and I am able to meet my other obligations. I try to do as much as I can before due dates, or put things in place for later use. I like routine where I can use routine. I change shoes and have hat, pen, and keys in the back of my car. I put them back when I am done. So when I get to work, hat, pen, shoes, and keys are ready. My old self puts things in place for my future self to use. Gas is in the car, instead of I’ll fill it tomorrow, I fill it now, so tomorrow I have a full tank. If I know I’ll have an early start the next day I try to lay out my clothes before I go to bed. I try to take care of my future self as much as I can. By doing these things, it helps me get other things done. I’ve tried to teach my children the same concept. I tell them, “Put your homework in your notebook, and put the notebook in the backpack now. Tomorrow when you are in class, you’ll open your notebook; and find the assignment is right there, ready to be turned in.” What can you do to help with your writing? Get research done, put the notes in one place. Keep your thesaurus, dictionary, and other things you need for your writing in one location. Then when you need an item, it is right there, ready for use. Take care of yourself, no one else will. If you can discipline yourself to do this, you will become more productive. With so many demands on us, anything we can do to give ourselves a bit of advantage helps. Finding the time to hammer out a few words, pages, or chapters is a challenge. So find those little things you can do to give yourself a leg up later on. You’ll find yourself thanking your past self for your foresight.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday’s Time Tip: Color My World

I know, I’m borrowing Chicago’s song title, but it fits what I want to discuss today. The title, not the song.

So what do highlighters, crayons, sharpies, and outlook have in common? Lots of colors.

Several years ago I was having trouble balancing work life. (Currently having that same issue, but I am taking steps…) My boss, was also a mentor at that time. He asked to see my planner. I had it handy so I gave it to him. He opened it up and flipped through a few pages. I watched as he scanned page after page. He looked up from his study and said, “Where is a highlighter?”

“I don’t have one handy,” I replied.

He then explained to me that I should take the highlighter and mark out blocks of time that were just for me, or for the family. When I was setting dates and times for appointments don’t go into the highlighted areas. That was how to get a balance in life.

Then he said, “I just saved you $200.00. I learned that in a seminar and that was the cost of admission.”

Two hundred dollars to color your planner? Too easy. But then, why not?

So I started to block out times for myself. Block out times for the family. Block out times for work. I used different colors, but they were coded. When I started using outlook, it also had colors for different items. I could color code with it.

So, a simple tip for today. Color your world. Find your balance by blocking out times for events, and then discipline yourself to use those blocks for what you intended. There will be times when there will be interruptions, and plans go amiss, that is part of life. How you deal with them determines your character.