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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Book Jail

I know there are authors out there who write three or four books in a year. The idea leaves me in awe and exhausts me at the same time. My current contract calls for a book every eight months, which sounds do-able on paper…as in the paper on which I placed my signature, assuring my publisher I’d meet my deadlines. In reality, I’m always convinced the next deadline will be the one I can’t meet.

For instance, my next release is coming up September 18. My next next book is due to my publisher roughly two weeks later. So, I’m working on promotion for Cry Wolf and completing the manuscript for Fair Game at the same time. Yes, I’m worried this will be the deadline I won’t make.

Figure in Bouchercon (a week in Florida) and several book festivals and library talks all in September and you see why I’m in panic mode.

And why I’m in Book Jail.

“Book Jail” means slightly different things to me at different times. Twice in the past, I’ve run away to a retreat house with Ramona Long and friends for a week.
My Retreat/Book Jail workspace while completing Uneasy Prey

Those windows up in the attic belong to my room during Uneasy Prey's Retreat/Book Jail

Minimal internet. No husband or cat to cook for. Just long hours of solitary writing (pages and pages) during the day followed by communal evenings for brainstorming. 
My "cell" and workspace for completing Cry Wolf

I finished both Uneasy Prey and Cry Wolf at that Retreat/Book Jail.

This time, schedules didn’t mesh, so Book Jail takes place in my own office. It’s like house arrest. I still have to cook and still have to feed the kitty, but otherwise, I’ve cleared my calendar and blocked off the last two weeks of August. Okay, I still have to make a trip to town once each week to buy groceries, but the rest of the time, I’m holing up, shutting off the internet, and finishing the darned book. First draft, at least. I’ll be struggling through my second and third drafts while promoting and traveling in September. If I look a tad frazzled at any of my appearances, you’ll understand why.

Fellow authors (and anyone else who works under the gun), do you have any tricks or techniques for meeting your deadlines?


Jim Jackson said...

I’m about 50% slower than you, producing a book a year, not every 8 months. I have exactly zero words of wisdom to share, but do wish you luck in finding all the right words in the right order all in the required time.

Annette said...

Thanks, Jim. I've had an issue plaguing me this entire manuscript and late yesterday a solution presented itself, so I'm feeling better. I'll feel MUCH better if I can make the solution work during today's "incarceration."

Liz Milliron said...

I don't have any words of wisdom, but I do have faith in you!

Lisa Hudson said...

Annette, as a loyal reader of your dynamic books, I personally want to say a huge THANK YOU for going to Book Jail! I appreciate an author that does whatever it takes to complete books on time and get them in the hands of (im)patiently waiting fans. Your books have always been quality work and esach one is even better than the one before!! (

Annette said...

Thank you, Liz.

And thank YOU, Lisa. That's so sweet. It's you (im)patiently waiting fans who keep me focused on making those deadlines. xoxoxo!

Ramona said...

We're at retreat house next week. The attic is open if you need it, though it's a Delaware group this time with poets and other non-mystery folk.

As a person who writes short fiction and essays, I am in awe of people who put out a book in less than a year. Bravo! And you will make your deadlines, Annette, you always do.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

go for it! You know you can do it. Plan your celebration after you hit submit.

KM Rockwood said...

Book Jail is a frame of mind--the other aspects (like going on a writing retreat) are supportive, and may be important, but I'm sure you will achieve the essential aspects, cooking and cat and grocery shopping or not. (There's always frozen dinners and pizza delivery,)

Grace Topping said...

Wishing you all the best meeting your deadline. It scares me to death thinking about juggling final edits on a submitted manuscript, book marketing, and writing a new book all at the same time. And to think, we asked for this. Oh my!

Kait said...

You'll do it - you always do! It's daunting, but remember, Annette, fear breeds courage and creativity and if all else fails think - what would Zoe do? She won't let you down.

Annette said...

Thanks, Ramona, but I think I better stay locked up here. I'd lose two days in travel alone. But I do hope to make another trip out there soon!

KM, you're absolutely right about the frame of mind.

Grace, just remember, we're living the dream!

Kait, I keep telling myself that it takes heat and pressure to create a diamond from a lump of coal. (It also takes centuries, which I don't have.)

Edith Maxwell said...

You got this thing, girl! You wouldn't have so many avid fans (including me) if you weren't able to pull it off, over and over. And you have the right attitude toward book jail - near-isolation has worked in the past and it'll work this time. Just wish we were incarcerated together at the convent with Ramona. ;^)

Gloria Alden said...

Annette, I can't wait to order your book Cry Wolf. I loved, loved, the first six books. As for book jail, I'm glad I self publish my books. True I don't sell as many although I do have a following, still I don't have to worry about any dead lines.

Annette said...

I wish so too, Edith! The creative energy of that place and our like-minded retreaters really helps boost the productivity!

Annette said...

Thanks so much, Gloria. I'm sure your readers pressure you to get the next book out too!