March 25, 2010

FIFTEEN MINUTES TO FAME: How to Complete Your Historical Novel Without Quitting Your Day Job

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We historical authors are an interesting breed. Those of us who have answered the call can attest to the fact that there are no shortcuts in penning novels set in past eras. As with any other type of writing, plotting, planning, and research take time.
If you’re a fulltime writing who has no trouble fitting your writing schedule into your day, you can stop reading right here. Nothing I’m about to say will be of any interest to you unless you happen to be researching or plotting a book with a character that struggles with trying to follow divergent paths simultaneously.
Or, as they say down South where I come from, if you don’t find juggling work, family, (fill in with your item or items of issue here) and writing, then you won’t understand that sometimes trying to do it all like herding cats.
How does a person with limited time and brain cells manage?
And yet, plenty a book, historical or otherwise, has been written by folks who commute, punch a clock, or are otherwise chained to a desk or stuck behind a steering wheel. Most of The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper and all of Anna Finch and the Hired Gun was written while I held down a day job as a paralegal in a law firm.
Assuming your research and plotting are at least mostly done, and you’re ready to write, there are many ways to fit time into your workday. I am not suggesting that you should take away from the hours that are given over to honest employment. Rather, I propose there are lost moments in each day that can be captured and used for writing.
If you commute, consider taking the bus. An average commute in my hometown of Houston is almost an hour. In a round trip bus ride, imagine how much work could be accomplished with two hours of writing. Most employers offer fifteen minute breaks twice a day. Again, imagine what can be done in fifteen minutes. While this may not seem like much time, it does add up. Taking the thirty minutes you would normally spend in daily breaks to write would add up to an extra 2.5 hours per week of writing time. Add the time available during daily one-hour lunches and you’ve upped your writing time by another five hours. Getting up an hour early and working on your manuscript either at home or at the office adds another five hours per week to the mix. Total “found” hours in your work week: 12.5!
So now the question is, what will you do with all that free time? Oh, of course! More research for the next book!

This Wild West adventure just might be the life she was meant to live.
The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her.

Anna Finch and the Hired Gun#2 All That Glitters Series – Available Summer 2010!

Still unmarried at 25—and not so sure she wants a husband, anyway—aspiring 19th-century journalist Anna gets the break of a lifetime when she crosses paths with nefarious gunslinger Doc Holliday. But her reporter’s instincts are hampered by Jeb—who’s bent on revenge. Can she get her story before he gets his man?


Karen Witemeyer said...

You are so right, Kathleen. I'm always looking for extra moments to squeeze in some writing time. Just this week, I used my lunch hour at work, took my laptop to my son's baseball practice (I don't write during games - too busy cheering - but practices are a different story), and even snuck in a little revising while watching an episode of Castle. I get a bit distracted during the show, but hit the mute button on commercials, and the concentration accelerates.

Enjoyed Eugenia's story. Anna's looks great, too. Wonderful covers. Your models are gorgeous and have that great twinkle in their eyes. Perfect!

Stephen Bly said...

Yes, life is a relentless happening. As we tell our beginning writing students. . .you've got to make your writing a priority, or it just won't materialize.

Vickie McDonough said...

Great advice, Kathleen. I especially like the bus idea.

I'm looking forward to reading your Anna Finch book.