Sunday, April 04, 2010

Sample "A Day In The Life"

I thought I'd post this for reference, just so you have an idea of my daily schedule.  Keep in mind this is subject to change, depending upon circumstances or deadlines.  Saturday is my "light" day, where I try to keep my hours to eight.  My busiest days tend to be Mondays and Thursdays.  On a holiday, like today, I don't schedule blocks of time as I usually do; it'd be a waste of time considering the obligations we usually have on holidays.  Okay, you ready?

5:00 am--Rise and shine. It takes an hour for me to physically get out of bed between medications and exercise.  So this is the hour I eat breakfast, watch the news on television, do my stretching exercises and spend a little time with the husband before he leaves for the day.  This is also the cats' favorite hour--they get their canned cat food at this time--mostly to keep them out of my hair for the morning, when I do my best work.

6:00-7:30--Basic maintenance. This is when I straighten up the house, usually picking up every room and concentrating on one room to clean in depth. If I don't do this, my house turns into a wreck very quickly. This includes the cat boxes (all eight of them), the morning shower, checking email and setting the schedule for the rest of the day.

7:30--11:00 The first writing block of the day.  This is the block I reserve for whichever story is driving me hardest at the time--the story that just has to be told NOW or the story on deadline. I never, never, never give up this block. I don't answer the phone, I don't text message, I don't turn on the television. This writing block is sacred, and I usually manage to maintain a 2k-plus wph rate.

11-1:00 This is usually split between editing and online work. I edit quickly, faster than I write. I can edit about 40 pages in an hour if the corrections are minimal, 30 pages per hour if they're a bit more extreme. I have been able to edit a complete novella in this block if I'm concentrating and not backsliding into message boards too often.

1-2:00 The break hour. Allegedly.  Usually this falls by the wayside. It'd be nice to have a break, but eight of ten times I forget all about it.

2--5:00 The second writing block of the day. If I'm working through a revision on a project, this is usually when I do it.  Sometimes, if an editing project is nearing the deadline, I don't write during this period but edit.

5-8:00 Business work. This is when I either do projects for the publishing house, work on submissions and correspondence, read the submissions in the Aurora mailbox. I tend to write a lot of rejections in this period.

8-10:00 pm. Family time. The DH usually comes home around this time. We have our supper, call the kids or the parents, play with the cats and watch television. Again, supposedly.  Sometimes he comes home, we grunt at each other and both go back to work.

10:00 - @2:00 a.m.--Yeah, you're seeing that correctly.  This is the final work block of the day. If I'm tired or not feeling well, it's the one that gets chucked.  More often than not, though, I'm back at work at this point. He goes to bed; I go to work. The house is quiet and I'm not distracted.  Some very high word counts come from this block. This is usually also when I do my personal edits for my publisher.When I finally do go to bed, I don't forget to set the alarm. I get up at the same time every day without fail.

At the moment, I have five works in progress I am actively writing.  I have another three in rewrites. I have two manuscripts in edits with the publisher. I write anywhere from 10k to 25k per day on various projects. A day doesn't go by when I don't write at least 4k--otherwise known as sixteen-eighteen pages.  This is my routine, and what I'll be tracking during A Month In The Life.

A Month in the Life--April 3, 2010

Saturdays are usually my 'light' days.  Usually, I focus on house cleaning, managing whatever latest family tragedy is underway, take some time for some light reading, play with the cats--that sort of thing.  With Shannon going to school at lightspeed (he's finishing up his Microsoft certifications) my Saturdays are my alone day, to be divided up between taking care of the house and taking a much needed intellectual break.  I do get some writing in, but only if I want to or a story is driving me.

So yeah, obviously that didn't happen this week.

I woke up hurting worse.  One of the problems of any back injury is that you hurt at increasing levels for a few days after you've had some kind of impact or new injury.  It took a looooooooooong time to loosen up enough to get out of bed.  Regardless, I was still up and ready to start the day at seven-thirty--half an hour before I'm supposed to wake up.  A good omen, I'm thinking.  So, after hobbling to the kitchen to get my new ice pack, I set myself up on the couch and prepared to get busy.  I wasn't quite in the mood to write, so I decided to send out the previous day's two releases on to reviewers--thus freeing up my late afternoon on Sunday, which is when I usually do review subs. In addition to the usual round of sites, I added a few more for The God's Wife, sending it to about eight more reviewers than usual.  I then rearranged the release schedule for AMP, pushing back a manuscript that wasn't going to be ready and bumping up a release that was already in early.  One of my writers, Eden Elagbri,  wanted me to take a look at her book trailer--which led into an email exchange about promotional ideas.  Two new reviews came out yesterday including the first one for Mythos 1: Bride of Death, from Love Romances and More.  The reviewer gave me four hearts and said:

Everyone knows either one or another of the many interpretations of Hades & Persephone’s story and Ms. Summers delivers a fresh take on it. The intensity of her storyline completely took me away and you could almost feel the wind of the Underworld on your face as Persephone did the first time or the way Hades showed her what she looks like to him-beautiful and desirable. I could actually see it playing out in my mind like a movie, one I would gladly fork over money to see in the future. Ms. Summers is a masterful storyteller who completely captivates her readers from the first page to the last. With a broad stroke of her pen, she creates multi-dimensional characters, a fast paced storyline and sprinkles in a romance so tender it brings tears to your eyes. The sex scene didn’t take away from the story at all, but enhanced it as Hades shows Persephone the delights of passion. After reading BRIDE OF DEATH, I had to race to see when the next Mythos book will be out as there is a hint of who is next to fall to love’s (or Eros’s) arrow. If you enjoy a new romantic take on an ancient myth, then grab BRIDE OF DEATH. I highly recommend it and hope the author doesn’t leave us waiting too long for the next one.

I think she liked it.  Naturally, when an AMP book gets a great review, it's part of my job to post that information on the loops.  So that turned into an hour of playing around on the internet--which I'm entitled to, damnit.

During the process of which, I fell asleep.  It's only to be expected; I haven't been getting much sleep. I also hardly ever take naps--usually only if I'm sick or hurt.  While I was asleep, the dang ice pack turned into a puddle. (sigh)  It was then that I noticed the bottom of my foot (the one where the ankle rolled on me to cause the problem in the first place) was a nice lovely shade of black. Not blue. Not green. Not purple. Black.


While I was napping, I got a couple of completed manuscripts from two of my authors, so I decided to sit down and write out the Aurora editing schedule and added that into my daily schedules for the rest of the month.  Then I got the final edits for Mythos 2: Daughter of the Sea. I spent a few hours going through the manuscript, looking for any errors, and finally sent it back to my editor (Lori) with the feeling of a job well done.

By this time, it was after eight and Shannon was home.  I kicked his ass in a quick game of Monopoly (quick lasting two hours) and then got into bed and watched the Ten Commandments. I love this movie, and it's one of my Easter traditions. (My other traditional movie is Ben Hur, but I save it for tomorrow) Thank God for the DVR, though--I sped through all those damned annoying commercials and went through the movie in a mere four hours instead of five.  And then, I decided to go see what Shannon was doing in the living room.  I slid out of bed, catching myself with my left hand so I wouldn't land too hard, and a second later screamed in pain.

The other nasty side effect of an impact is bursitis, which is a painful inflammation of the shoulder. The first time I got bursitis was a few weeks after my father-in-law was acting like an idiot and pretending to drive through the garage door.  He slammed on the brakes at the last second and I slammed into the back of his seat, ending up in the ER two weeks later unable to lift my arm.  So now it's my right ankle, my left knee, the whole of my lower back and my left shoulder hurting--and I'll be honest enough to tell you that not even my formidable pain medication is working on it. Make no mistake--first thing Monday morning, my physician is getting a call.

Word count--light. Only 4k in and amongst everything else, mostly on the Terella WIP.  Total time spent working: also light. I only worked about nine hours between review submissions, editing, writing and business emails.

A Month in the Life--April 2, 2010 Good Friday

When I woke up this morning, I really kind of wished I hadn't. Everything that hurt yesterday hurt twice as bad after a night on the couch. (The cats were rampaging through the house last night and keeping me awake.  I ended up closing the doors to every room but the living room and kitchen and moving the butcher block in front of the cabinets so I could remove the noisiest feline toys from their access.  The cats punished me by drinking all the water out of the fountain and discovering a new way to use dry cat food as cat toys all over the house.) At any rate, when I woke up I was already two hours behind schedule.  My husband had stayed home to take me to the doctor if I thought I should go.

I did think I should go.  For one thing, going to the emergency room would not only cost a fortune, but since I'm a chronic pain patient they (a) wouldn't give me anything for the pain, which kind of negates the idea of going to the ER in the first place and (b) would tell me to call my doctor.  I figured I'd be saving a step by going straight to him.

Totally forgot it was Good Freaking Friday.  You guessed it--no doctor, and no chance of a doctor until Monday.  So I had to reevaluate the situation--could I make it through the whole weekend?  In the end, we determined that--since the ER would only do x-rays and tell me to go to my doctor who (as is his right on a holiday weekend) wasn't there, we might as well stay home and wait until Monday.

So Shannon, after making sure I had everything in reach I could possibly need and giving me brand spanking new ice packs, went on to Columbus to salvage what was left of his day and I turned my mind to the scheduled activity of the day--mailing out review submissions.

I'm the Review Coordinator for Aspen Mountain Press, and every week I set aside time to send copies of our new releases out for review. Depending on the genre of each book, I submit AMP books to a core of about fifteen sites--adding a few different ones for genre novels (sci fi, fantasy, historical and so forth).  The majority of our releases are either romance or erotica.  The two books I submitted on Friday weren't our latest releases: they were the releases from the past two Fridays. (I like to send out in bulk) So knowing I would have two more books to submit later that day, I went ahead and sent these two out.  Both books were gay (m/m) erotic romances, so they would go to the same sites, and both books were ones I'd edited so I wanted to make sure they hit all the review sites possible.

I always block out about four hours for review submissions.  Not does AMP submit to a lot of sites, but each site has its own submissions requirements.  At some sites, I have to fill out a review request form and THEY let ME know when they want a book to review.  Others want the books emailed in advance--and then want different information: some want the ISBN, some want the length of the book, some want you to describe exactly what might be offensive to a reader.  At any rate, it's a long process.  Not a single review site lets you attach the book and send an email that says, "Yo--here's the books this week. Peace out."

But while working on that for my allotted four hours, I got a brainchild. And, as is normal, that brainchild involves more work for me.  I decided to volunteer myself (and my editor Lori because I'm nice like that) to create a blurb/tagline writing workshop for the AMP authors.  The tagline and blurb are the only chances writers have to hook a reviewer--and by extension a reader. It's the writer's chance to sell his or her book. But some writers (like me) suck at writing blurbs.  I'm good with other people's blurbs, but for some reason the ones I write for my own work blow.  A blurb is basically the back cover copy of a book.  Online, that blurb is used as the mini-synopsis of the book. It's what readers use to decide whether they're going to purchase the book or not--or, in the case of a reviewer, review the book.  Those reviews are the best promotional tool a new writer has.  Great reviews will not only give your book publicity, but will also convince readers to give you a shot for the first time.  So you can't undervalue their importance. 

A few emails later, and I added another block of work/time to my schedule. Lori and I are going to get together this weekend and work on putting together an online workshop as well as worksheets to go to AMP editors and writers.  More on that as it progresses.

Then I wrote a guest blog post for Raine Delight's website.  Raine and I have been friends for many years--she's an up and coming erotica writer out of Buffalo, NY.  I'd promised her this blog entry a couple of weeks ago, but had scheduled to write it today.  So, with a fresh ice pack (I don't think my ankle is supposed to be as big as my blown out knee. Just sayin'...) applied to my technicolored appendages, I wrote out a long blog post about the resurrection of Regency romance.  You can check it out on her website. Not too shabby if I say so myself.  So having gotten that in, I crossed it off my list.

I then sent Lena Austin, a wonderful author and all-around classy lady congratulations on the release of her book The God's Wife.  (If you love ancient Egypt and a story of female empowerment, you need to check this book out.  Here's the buy link: .) I'd edited the story for her.  The God's Wife  is the story of Hatchesput and how she rose from just one of Tutmoses II's wives to Pharaoh in her own right.  Lena had released a version of this story earlier with another publishing company, but wanted to explore the story in greater depth. (One of the great things about AMP is that there aren't any requirements a writer has to meet with their work. I had one company tell me they wouldn't publish my work unless I cut the majority of the plot and added three more sex scenes so I know whereof I speak.) So we'd worked together on it.  I let her explore the story to her heart's desire, only reining her in if she was headed out on a tangent. I can recognize those from how many tangents I write into my own work. Tangents are fun to write and easy to move off on, but they inevitably fall to the editor's pencil.  At any rate, I sent her a note letting her know how pleased and proud I was of her and the incredible story she'd written.  Always good to spread a little love toward your authors, and spreading love to Lena is not only easy, but a pleasure. She's such a doll!

Then it was time to work. *By this time, it was already past three* I'm getting the Aurora Regencies ready for first edits and waiting for one manuscript from AMP to finish up before then.  so on Friday, it was all about writing.  I got another 18k written on Defying the Covenants, working around review requests and email exchanges. I set up a couple of conferences for Monday--one with an author and another with the head of the art department at AMP to discuss the overall theme and look of the Aurora Regency line. 

Shannon came home at six and spent much of his evening being an absolute doll, helping me out by doing all my running back and forth for me and worrying more than he probably should.  When at eleven I finally settled down in bed to try and get some sleep, he finally relaxed enough to go to sleep himself.  But I stayed awake--not sure why.  I watched a movie on tv (W.--Oliver Stone's ridiculous film about George W. Bush) thinking it would put me to sleep. It didn't. It just made me mad.  So I pulled the laptop back out and worked for a couple of hours, outlining the fourth and fifth Mythos books and getting about 6k down on the Terella WIP.  Total word count for the day--24,809 over the course of 8 hours. World building/outlining time spent: One and a half hours. Time spent on business--about six hours all said and done.

All in all, a fairly satisfying day, if pain ridden and somewhat slower than usual, I still met all my goals.

A Month in the Life: April 1, 2010 -- April Fools Day

I've always though it was bizarre that April would being with April Fools Day. It's kind of like April is giving you the finger while sticking out its tongue at you.

And, as is usual, I got the biggest bird.

Let me explain.

Two years ago, on April Fools Day, I took a header down the stairs of our house.  I think there might even be a blog entry about it.  My ankle rolled on me--which is a side effect of the serious back injury I had resulting in weaker ankle muscles and neurololgical response. It wasn't a pleasant experience; I lay on the floor for eight hours waiting for someone to get home and help me.  Ended up in the ER for a long night of xrays, tests and dehydration IVs.  Needless to say, that header accelerated the degenerative disc disease that's had its way with me since the car wreck eight years ago.

So today, I walked across the street to the convenience store.  And while I was coming home and talking to my older daughter on the phone, my ankle rolled on me. Sunny day, dry, level concrete, in new tennis shoes--and my ankle rolled. I hit the concrete hard, cell phone flying.  For a minute, all I could do was cuss and rock back and forth.  But when the jackass in the seventies' Nova almost ran me over, I figured it would probably be a good idea to get up and hobble home. I picked up my cell phone (the daughter was still talking non-stop, unaware that I'd almost lost my life) and realized almost instantly that not only could I not put weight on my ankle, but that when I'd hit I'd blown out the knee on the opposite leg. 

And somehow I had to cross four lanes...six with the turning lanes--of busy traffic without using my legs or my feet.  Great.

I managed to make it across (barely), got up the steps and into the house, where I promptly collapsed on the couch and reached for my emergency pain meds.  Within an hour, both ankle and knee were swollen and turning ugly--but what was even worse was that I could now no longer manage to either stand or sit up straight.  I was pretty much done, immobilized on the couch without any way of getting anything I needed.  Shannon (the husband) came home early to help me out.  After arguing for a couple of hours whether we should go to the ER or the doctor, we finally agreed on the doctor in the morning if I was worse or, at the very least, not improved.

Since I was going nowhere, the schedule went out the window for the day.  I stayed on the couch, switching out ice packs and working off and on on Defying the Covenants, the solo conclusion to the Vampire Covenants trilogy.  Between 4:29 and 8:00, I got 6k written on it, answered emails and headed off problems online, edited some blurbs and excerpts and sent them back to the writers and started my organizational list for the RT convention later this month. After watching Survivor & Project Runway, my normal Thursday night TV routine, I worked for a couple of hours on Terella, reading through what I've written so far and doing a sketchy mini-edit for typos, misspelled words and almost every instance of 'that,' 'suddenly,' and dialogue tags in the WIP.  Not a very productive day--albeit a lot of fun.  I helped the moderators with their annual AW April Fool's joke and was somewhat more credible than normal owing to the screaming pain and the effect of extra narcotic assistance.

Not quite a total loss.


Because of the unmitigated disasters of the last few days, I'm posting my journal entries a bit later than I'd anticipated.  But because I promised you a month in the life, you will by gosh get a month in the life.


Unfortunately, you're going to hear all the loathsome details, it seems. Oh well.  Here we go. Try not to laugh TOO hard, okay?