My Book Rating System

My book rating system is based on 5 stars. The book must be rated at least 3 stars for a review.

3 Stars: Good story, good plot, good writing.

4 Stars: I was wowed, but something about the story fell short of perfection.

5 Stars: I was either drooling, on the edge of my seat, or falling in love.

If you would like me to review your book, please contact me at

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's Time to Write

Okay, so most authors have day jobs. Some like their day jobs. Some despise their day jobs. Some simply tolerate their day jobs. But they all love to write. Which is why they do.

There's a lot of advice out there on writing process: seat of the pants, excel spreadsheets with timelines, plotting, outlining, index cards pinned to walls and bulletin boards and spouses' backs. Some say write a page a day. Or a chapter a day. Or an hour a day. Sometimes all you get out is a word a day. Some would advise to write every day. The list goes on.

I don't quite follow with the 'you have to write every day' mode of operandi, because life is life and writing is work. Yeah, we enjoy it, but it's still work. Could you imagine your boss telling you you have to work every day? No matter what? Even if it's only an hour? I'd tell him to pound sand. I'd tell him to sit on his job and twirl. I'd tell him to kiss my ass cuz that's all he's gonna see of me as I walk out that door. I have days off. I have vacations. I've gone *weeks* without writing sometimes just because I need the down time. I'm burnt. I'm toast. Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

But not today.

So, you may be thinking, between working, and writing, and reading, and reviewing, and blogging, and laundry, and cooking, and cleaning, and grocery shopping, and chauffering rug-rats, and doctors appointments and sports events and practices, where the fwoop do I slice an hour out a day already busting at its 24-hour seams?

When you have the answer to that, call me.

I learned something the other day, and while it was a concept applied to my day job, I thought, why not apply it to writing? Not that the concept will be easy, because I still have to work, and read, and review, and blog, get it.

What I learned is that there is a certain time of day that people are at their most productive. Most people are most productive in the morning. Before you throw your coffee at me, I'm not saying as soon as you blink your eyes open morning, but after that first cuppa morning. Others could be at their best in the afternoon (not bloody likely, in my book), or at night. Only you can determine when you're at your best.

The trick is to turn off distractions during your most productive time. Turn off your IM. Turn off your phone. Turn off your email. Whether it be one hour, or two hours, or three hours, again is dependent on you. I like to use 2 hour blocks. During this productive zone, produce. That's all there is to it. Produce, with no distractions.

I'm an early bird. My production zone is the morning.

Twice a week, when I ride the bus to work, I get an hour production zone in the morning. I write the whole ride. I get the same hour on the way home, and while I'm not nearly as productive because my eyes are generally glazed and my brain is generally fried, I still write. Or try to. Sometimes I'm so fried I simply whip out the Nook and read. That's okay. I don't stress. I unwind.

I'm an early bird in a family of night owls. On the weekends, I get up well before the other laze-abouts. That's my time. I put off my cleaning (even though there are little eyes in my head eyeballing the dog hair on the rug, I try to ignore it); I worry about the laundry later; the grocery store isn't going anywhere; dinner is *hours* away. Here's the tricky part. Some distractions can't be turned off. Am I right? Yeah.

Today I arose at 6:30 because I got a list of crap to do: I desperately have to vacuum the dog hair off the rug, clean the house, do some laundry, bake lasagna for dinner, have 2 book reviews I still need to write up, resist cracking open the 4th book in a series that I'm just starting to adore (after staying up way too late last night to finish book 3) in order to start one of the 2 books that I need to read in the next couple of weeks to meet my review due dates, review my latest urban fantasy manuscript to send to an editor who just requested a read (yay!), and continue editing my 2nd novel in the Last Moon Rising series.

So after stoking up the woodstove and before I even get coffee going, I'm interrupted by my son puking his guts out. I stand in the kitchen, a silent witness to his misery. It goes on and on. And on. I squirm, I flinch (you know the sound effects), I give him a motherly pat on the back, make him rinse his mouth, send him back to bed with a bottle of water, but not before a little polite debate about the woes of being sick on a saturday and not a school day vs it's a good thing this happened on a saturday and not a school day. The coffee still needs to be made, but the dog needs to go out. Of course, she can't just do her business because it's snowing and running in the snow chasing birds is so much fun and she doesn't give a flying fwoop about production zones. Now it's 7:20. Stoke up the stove again. Get the coffee going (finally). And now I'm almost an hour into my production zone and, well, I haven't produced!

That's ok. Eveyone's back in bed, including the dog, and time is mine. I have my coffee. I have my laptop. I have my zone back.

It's time to write.


Splitter's Blog said...

That was great, Dale!

Finding the time, and sometimes the motivation, is really the toughest part of writing.

Congrats on the getting the interest in your manuscript!

We also have a dog who has trouble in the snow. She can't seem to find a proper place when the ground is covered, like this morning.


Dina said...

Loved your post because you said it with humor and it is true!!

Unknown said...

Yeah, yeah. Of course, I left out the slinky winky from the husband...another distraction I could go without when trying to write...

When there's a lot of snow, of course, the dog doesn't have to squat...and when there's a really really lot of snow, she has to pack down the snow first, because God forbid that cold stuff actually touches her butt!