Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Suspense writers love ticking time bombs. Put the hero and heroine in danger and give them a limited amount of time before something terrible happens, like they'll die or someone they love will die.
The vicarious adrenalin rush, the sweaty palms and elevated pulse that go along with a countdown keep readers turning pages and ready to buy the next book.
But what about real life ticking time bombs, AKA deadlines?
I just completed THE CAPTAIN’S MISSION, book two in my Military Investigations series from Love Inspired Suspense.
My January deadline meant I’d be working during the Christmas season, but I had four months from contract to completion, which seemed adequate. In reality, shopping, gift wrapping, decorating the house and preparing for the influx of family took time, and something had to be pushed aside. This year, I didn’t send cards or my usual holiday newsletter, but everything else got done, including the book.
Of course, I did turn down a few holiday parties and stayed home New Year’s Eve, but the manuscript arrived in New York ahead of schedule.
Usually the last few weeks before the book is due, I concentrate totally on the story and cancel most of my other activities. Going to church and prayer remain front and center, but everything else is put on hold. If I’m really down to the wire, I stop cooking and my daughter takes over the kitchen duties.
Often I stand at my kitchen counter and work on my laptop in the early morning hours. By 10 A.M., I’m at my desk where I stay until I go to bed. I try to be ergonomically correct while at my computer, but long hours of sitting are hard on my back and wrists so I get up and stretch at regular intervals. Also, I take a walk every day, time and weather permitting.
I love Diet Coke, but I watch my intake when I'm on deadline. Instead, I attempt to stay hydrated with water. Usually, I don’t drink enough liquids while I'm at the computer and have to catch up by gulping down a glass or two of water during my breaks.
Even when the writing is done, getting the work into the final format is time consuming. Self-editing and rereading the pages in a hard copy or in a different font to pick out typos takes time, as well. My husband and eldest daughter read my final copy before I send the book off to the editor. If they find any glaring errors, those corrections also need to be made.
Mailing options vary and impact whether the book arrives on time. I’ve had problems with USPS Priority Mail so I usually send my manuscripts UPS. Brown provides a great on-line tracking system, and I follow my manuscript’s progress as it leaves my small town, heads first to Atlanta and then on to New York City. Regular delivery gets it to Love Inspired Books in two working days. Overnight delivery is more expensive but is sometimes a necessity when time is short. I email my editor to let her know the manuscript is on the way and attach the document file electronically along with the message.
When you're under a deadline--whether contest entry or full-length manuscript for publication--and the clock is ticking, how do you handle the stress and complete the work on time?
Wishing you abundant blessings,