It happens every year. February looms. With it, comes the deadline for the next Madeline book. I write in a panic. Will I make it in time? Will the book actually be finished, edited, proofread, and uploaded by the release date?
I never know. Maybe I should know. Actually, no maybe about it. I should.
But there’s something about this series that defies time and authority.
I’ve examined my process, and it’s sound. See, the last book of the year is published on Black Friday. So, for what it’s worth, that book is DONE by that day, you know? That gives me two months to write the next book. Two and a half, even! Technically, I can squeak it to three if I want to. And a couple of times I’ve had to do that.
No other historical fiction has ever been so time-consuming as this series has been for me. It sucks every spare second I have. And while I can usually write about five hundred words every twenty minutes, I average more like three hundred on Madeline.
Seriously, these books take research on things you can’t possibly anticipate until the scene arrives and you just need to know before you can write more. Like seriously, what did a 122 roll of Kodak film look like in 1902? Do you know how many HOURS I spent scouring the internet? I found the rolls… no boxes that definitively identified themselves as from before 1915. Ahem.
Some might say, “What’s the big deal? You get it done when you get it done.”
I’ve got one answer. #BecauseDeadlines. And let me tell you something.
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Deadlines Might Just Be the Death of Me
Not everyone gets it. After all, I’m an indie author, right? Who cares when the books are published?
Every word of that is true. I feel it.
However, sometimes other people are affected by your progress and choices—people like editors, publicity folks, reviewers and bloggers. You don’t want to leave them hanging until the last second—or at all.
And yet here I am on March 4th, almost three weeks after this book was supposed to be published, and it’s not done. There’s a blog tour starting next week. Guess what book won’t be published yet?
Of course, when I realized that, the overwhelm commenced.
For those who don’t know me well, I need to explain that statement. For me, Overwhelm = Shut down. You can read all about that HERE.
Next came the self-condemnation. You know how that goes. “I should have been more diligent.” Or, “It’s so inconsiderate of you to sleep when people are waiting for that book! (Whoever said self-condemnation was rational?)
So, I took a few hours off.
Insert more guilt.
I did a lot of praying—didn’t take away the existing guilt, but at least I didn’t add more.
Then I went to bed.
The solution came to me (i.e. God whacked some sense into my head) this “morning” at about 2 p.m. Pacific. I didn’t like the solution, but it was the right one…
Okay, before I go on, I need to point out something.
I’m not a huge believer in “confirmation theology.”
What’s that? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, it’s the notion that if you decide to do something, and something else happens that seems to support that decision, it’s “confirmed” as God’s will.
Still, it felt like a nudge from the Lord when I awoke to my friend asking about the book and how she could help me reduce the deadline stress. Sometimes those “we both had the same idea at the same time” feels more like the first part of the old, “Great minds think alike,” and far removed from the rest of that saying that goes, “and fools seldom differ.”
So, what’s my solution?
Not going to tell you—not yet. First, I want to share a few things—things that maybe others need to read so any unreasonable expectations heaping on their heads can be knocked off again.
See, the argument can be made that I knew this deadline wwwwaaaay back in February of 2019. Why didn’t I get on the ball back then?
Okay, well first, I did. I came up with my idea and tossed it. About a dozen times. My original one from several years ago stank, and each one after it stank, too.
But also, there were other books to do. Books like Blessing Bentley and Hashtag Rogue, just to name two. Once Hashtag Rogue launched, I had a slew of deadlines—great, looming deadlines. By the middle to end of October, I needed to have, Wrong about Mr. Wright, 12 Dates of Christmas, and Christmas on Breakers Point done. Additionally, I needed Charming Miss Dashwood done by November 1.
Still, they were “novellas” and that meant a bit shorter than a full-length novel. I really didn’t see any reason I couldn’t do it. I’d wanted to do Seaside in 2019. That didn’t happen. In fact, on September 12th, I got a call from my mother that changed everything and kicked Seaside off my to-do list in one, ten-minute conversation.
See, my mother has always promised that if she needed me, she’d call. On that September day, just as I was heading down south for a meeting, she did. Okay, technically, she had my sister tell me to call. So, I called her.
Still, the result was the same. She needed me to come. Now. So, that Saturday, #5daughter dropped me off at LAX and I flew to Springfield for “a couple of weeks.” That’s when I figured out that Seaside would probably have to be dropped. After all, I was going to have limited writing time while at my mother’s house.
I had no idea.
Just a couple of days before Mom called, I’d written the opening scene from Christmas on Breakers Point. (you can read that HERE if you like ) In that scene, Mallory gets a call from her beloved great uncle who is like a grandfather to her. He tells her it’s time to come. His “expiration date” is almost up.
While my mother wasn’t on her deathbed, she was very ill—very ill. Weak. Soon she was unable to eat—to swallow. I spent most of my time just chatting and trying to keep her spirits up while we navigated selling her house and getting her ready to move. Home with me. To California.
Over six weeks I fought the hospital there for her medical records, packed up a few huge boxes with things she wanted to bring here, ran all over the place trying to get her house sold, drove back and forth to Springfield to trade in cars, saving me several hundred dollars over just doing it over the phone.
Oh… and I wrote any chance I got.
Somehow, and I’ll tell what I think the Lord did there some other day, I managed to finish three of those books. Three books in six weeks. I also wrote a short story bonus for one of them.
The book that was due by November 1… it didn’t happen. We came home on October 25th and on the 28th, I drove mom to one of our best hospitals in Southern California, Loma Linda University Hospital. She got the help she needed.
And I started writing.
Do you know how hard it is to write in a hospital room while wearing gloves and a gown because your mother tested positive for MRSA? Not easy. Just sayin’.
In that room, I wrote the bonus short story for Christmas on Breakers Point (you can still get it if you buy the paperback, btw!) and got to work on Charming Miss Dashwood. That book was supposed to be a part of the A Very Austen Romance collection releasing in November/December. I knew it wouldn’t be done in time. Still, I’d promised to do it, so I decided to finish it and give it to the collection admins so they could use it as a bonus novella. Maybe it would help sales or something.
Thanksgiving came. Mom came home. More days of no writing.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I drove with my oldest daughter and her family to Las Vegas (they needed someone to drive one of the vehicles that far). I was a mess for a few days (who am I kidding. I’m still a mess. This gal who “doesn’t cry” sobs every time I think of them being so far away. I’m blaming impending menopause. You won’t convince me otherwise).
The following Wednesday, I drove my mother back down to Loma Linda for a follow-up appointment. On the way home from that, I got the news that my mother-in-law was with Jesus.
Okay, can I just go on record right now to say that 2019 STINKS?
Seriously. Look at the list of joys.
- In June, plantar fasciitis became a thing at the SoCal Writer’s Conference… misery ever since (unless I’m wearing my Dr. Scholl’s inserts!)
- July 4th, we got 5.4 and 6.4 earthquakes
- July 5th, a 7.1 earthquake set off MONTHS of quakes—over 40K as of today.
- August 24th, I sprained my wrist in a fall on my way to a book launch for Crown: 30 Wife-Changing Lessons (there are pictures and my review of the book HERE).
- September 12th, Mom needed me
- September 14th, I left for Missouri
- October 25th, I came home (with three books and a short story written)
- October 28th, I left for Loma Linda
- November 16th I came home… without Mom. She was in “acute rehab” (hospital talk for short-term instead of “chronic” which is long-term)
- November 27th, I brought Mom home
- December 1st, I drove to Las Vegas and back still sleep-deprived from being on normal people time (did I mention that I was AWAKE DURING THE DAY ALL THAT TIME starting September 14th?)
- Mother-in-Law died on December 4th
- December 8th, flew to Minnesota and flew home December 11th (and informed the collection that my book was done the following Sunday)
- SICK for the next 2 weeks (including an Emergency Room visit)
- From January-February, I wrote another Dual Power of Conviction.
That’s not everything, of course, but look at what I accomplished during all that time!!!
Still, can you see why I say 2019 STINKS?
On the other hand, despite everything that Murphy (or Satan… or both) could throw at me, God somehow managed to help me get five books written, a dozen or more reviews done, a retreat planned, attended, and recuperated from (including some super-cute tote bags I made!) and a host of other stuff.
However, I didn’t get Byrd’s Eye View finished yet. And I was upset about that. Seriously?
Ready for the punch line?
I chose a word for this year. One word to focus on and remind me of what I thought I needed to learn. That word? Enough.
Yeah. I know. Oh, the irony.
I hear you asking the question.
“So, what’s the point of all this?”
Here’s my answer
First, an apology. I’m not apologizing for not being able to do more than I can do. I’m not. However, I am sorry I didn’t take a look at where I was, what I’d done, and realize that I wouldn’t be able to do things I’d expected to do. If I’d done that, we might not have people waiting for books for a blog tour that is going to be a little… different.
I’m sending out the first five chapters (completely unedited, the poor dears) of Byrd’s Eye View to the bloggers who signed up for this book. They’ll share the info about it—synopsis, the post about how it tried not to be written, and share the LINK to where you can pre-order it for almost 20% off (that price is good through launch day and then it goes up to 5.99). They’ll get the full book later, and maybe some of them will update their posts with a review. Maybe not. I’m good either way. I get it.
But meantime… I can breathe again. I’m excited to work on this book again. And if nothing else, Madeline lovers will have something more exciting to look forward to on “Tax Day” than rushing to the post office.
Still, I hope you’ll follow the blog tour next week. I hope you’ll enter the giveaway. Most of all, I hope you’ll read Madeline when she’s done and done to the best of my ability and that you’ll love this adventure as much as I do.