Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Guest Blogger - Jenna Black
My Down Time, a Snapshot
My latest book, The Devil’s Playground, was released on March 23. My next book, Glimmerglass, the first book in my upcoming Faeriewalker series, will be released on May 25. I’ve already turned in the second book of that series, as well as the first book of my next urban fantasy series, which will debut sometime in 2011. That means these two months between releases should be relaxing down time for me, right? Uh, no.
When Glimmerglass comes out next month, I will have a total of ten books on the shelves. You might think that by now, I’m experienced enough to have a firm grasp of exactly how much of an author’s job consists of things other than just writing the books; however, the work load between books seems to take me by surprise every time, and last week makes a perfect illustration.
So, what all do I usually do during this “down time”? Well, I generally have an aversion to inactivity. That’s why right now when I’m between contracted novels, I’m working on a spec novel (a novel that’s not under contract). I could easily fill my day working on this novel—because it’s not on deadline and is therefore more relaxed, I could theoretically write the whole first draft before I have to start working on my next contracted novel. And yet, last week I spent all of about one hour on the novel.
I started out this week with my biweekly Deadline Dames blog, which, of course, is a regularly scheduled activity for me. After that, I had a guest blog (not this one) that I had committed to writing. I wrote the blog and turned it in, and the person who requested it asked if she could post the scene I was talking about along with the blog. That made perfect sense to me, so I agreed. I had to dig up the electronic version of the manuscript and then excerpt and format the scene. Then I looked over it and realized there were paragraphs referencing events that had occurred previously in the book, events the reader would not know about when reading the scene out of context. So I decided I’d better edit the scene to do away with those references. Then I realized I had to update the blog post to include an intro to the scene. (The point to this story is that tasks have an alarming way of mushrooming, and they particularly enjoy doing so when you’re busiest.)
So that guest blog ended up being a little more work than I originally planned, but hey, these things happen. I had one email interview still left to do, and then another guest blog (this one), and then I’d be in the clear, with time on my hands to work on that spec novel. Oh, except for that second email interview I’d forgotten about, but still, not too much more to go. And the quick request from the publicity department at my publisher, but that would only take a few minutes. No problem.
But wait! I forgot about my newsletter! I do a newsletter every month, and I try to get it out there early in the month. I also do a members-only contest every month with the newsletter, so I had to write the newsletter, draw a winner for the previous month’s contest, mail the winner her prize, and then devise a new contest for this month. But really, after that I’d be done.
Then came the “stop the presses” moment. I’d been trying to create a little bonus feature for my publisher to use for some promo, and it turned out my publisher wasn’t satisfied with what I’d done. After a few emails to my marketing contact and my agent, I wrote something else, but it turned out that I missed the mark a second time. We decided it would be best if we had a conference call so that we could all be clear on exactly what the project was, which was certainly more efficient than continuing the email exchanges that weren’t working. By the time I got off that conference call, I’d somehow committed to writing a ten-page short story prequel. And after I got off the phone, the panic set in.
During my “down time,” I had somehow managed to get myself committed to doing three blogs, two email interviews, my monthly newsletter, and a short story all in one week. When I was going to be gone all day Saturday for my local RWA chapter meeting. And let’s not even talk about the amount of email I have to answer in the weeks just after a new release, or making plans for my upcoming trip to the Romantic Times convention.
Notice that actually writing a book never even made my to-do list last week, but I was still ridiculously busy. Luckily, next week is looking a lot calmer, so maybe I’ll be able to get back to that spec novel. After all, writing novels is the meat and potatoes of my job. I’ll get to it right after I finish doing a second draft of that short story. And after I write the next guest blog I owe. Oh, and that other interview I’ve put off doing for way too long. Then there’s that short story project some friends of mine and I have been bouncing around . . .
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