Surviving a Series

Join me at the

International Christian Fiction Writers blog

today, where I’m sharing a tongue-in-cheek perspective on

surviving the writing of my Port Aster Secrets series.

Port Aster Secrets by Sandra Orchard

Time Management for Authors by Sharon C. Jenkins

I’m delighted to introduce you to Sharon C. Jenkins, author of a great new resource for authors, Authorpreneurship.

Authorprenuership-3-d-coverI’ve invited Sharon to discuss one of the biggest challenges to authors–

Time Management

An Authorpreneur is a sole proprietor of sorts. You are a one person “mean writing machine” with best-seller stars in your eyes and a pen in your hand. In other words, you are your own boss and your only employee. As a writer, that may mean holding yourself accountable to meet deadlines and honor a mandatory self-imposed daily word count in order to finish your manuscript on time.

Unfortunately, there is a common flaw that seems inherent to those skilled with ink and pen. Procrastination. For some writers, this tendency is due to the business of living. Deadlines take a backseat to everything else. In addition, there are other tasks required of you as an Authorpreneur that must get done in conjunction with writing. So how can you successfully navigate life and work? Let’s take an honest look at some tips that you can incorporate into your life to “git er done” (a common Texas slang for getting the job accomplished).

Writing is your job. Be it full-time or part-time; make it the #1 priority for that season of your life. You would not tell your boss that you couldn’t finish your presentation for an important client because you had to watch your favorite television show. Get rid of the clutter in your life– and that includes habits or routines that hinder your progress to honor your commitment and “git er done.”

Evaluate your time management skills by taking the Writers Time Management Test, and set a baseline for your “git er done” improvement plan. You can improve what you can measure.

 Writers Time Management Test

Directions: Circle each statement in Part One and Part Two of the time management test that is currently a time management habit. Give yourself 2 points for each of the following habits that you have.

Part One: How Well Do I “Git er Done”?

1. I make a “TO DO” list every day, prioritizing the most important things at the top of that list and carrying over those things that did not get done to the next day’s list.

2. I have a daily calendar that I use to keep track of my scheduled activities and writing deadlines.

3. I have a weekly calendar that I use to keep track of my scheduled activities and writing deadlines.

4. I have a monthly calendar that I use to keep track of my scheduled activities and writing deadlines.

5. When I hit “overwhelm,” I take a break from my work area and come back refreshed and invigorated.

6. I schedule my availability to answer telephone calls or respond to e-mails around my writing schedule so that I can have uninterrupted quality writing time.

7. I use the electronic time management tools that are available to me on my cell phone and or computer.

8. I use sticky notes to remind me of what must be accomplished daily.

9. I am not afraid to delegate tasks to others.

10. I boldly seek out the resources that I need and make time for the necessary research in order to lend credibility to my work.

11. I have identified my best working atmosphere and have taken steps to create that sanctuary so that there are no hindrances in my writing environment.

12. I know where the calculator, calendar, and word count function are on my computer so that I can do my work faster.

13. I have identified when I am most alert and I schedule my time to write accordingly.

14. I use the sandwich principle. I schedule the tasks I don’t like to do between the tasks that I do like, so that I am inspired to work faster to get to the tasks I enjoy.

15. I have a budget to manage my money.

16. I am in good health.

17. I get enough rest, exercise, and eat healthy foods.

18. I constantly review my short and long term goals to make sure I’m on track to best seller status.

19. I keep God, family and friends as a priority in this process, not forgetting their importance in my life and striving for balance by not making unwise sacrifices to “git er done.”

20. I realize that “stuff happens” and I am flexible enough in my plan that I can make the necessary adjustments when it does.

 TOTAL POINTS, PART ONE: _______________

 Part Two: What Prohibits Me From “Gittin er done?”

1. I am so fascinated with social media that I would rather spend my time on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

2. I have over 5,000 unread emails that I’m waiting until my next vacation to read them all because I am afraid I might miss something.

3. As a generalist, I master of a lot of things. But I like it that way, because I can write about anything and I spend a lot of time doing research so that when I get ready to write my book, I can write a book that can reach everybody.

4. I use my “wait” time while at the doctor’s office and other places to wait for something to happen. After all, a little relaxation has never hurt anyone. Some people call it laziness; I call it conserving my energy for the next BIG opportunity.

5. I am a perfectionist and everything must be perfect before I can move forward on a project.

6. I have too many responsibilities that prohibit me from committing to anything for any length of time.

7. Everyone needs me on his or her team. I’m so critical to their mission that their organization would come to a complete stop if I didn’t volunteer. You’ve heard of the 20/80 rule; 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I’m part of the 20%.

8. I must keep my mobile phone close to me at all times because people are always trying to contact me. I might miss an important text, news item, Facebook post, or call. I check it every ten minutes, I feel lost without it.

9. Before I can write, I need some kind of inspiration. I often sit for hours waiting for my muse to visit me.

10. I enjoy writing so much, I write about everything and everywhere. I’ve got 50 boxes of stuff I wrote packed away in my garage. One day, I’m going to put it all into a book. Everybody tells me I should write one. I’m already halfway there; I just need to organize my garage to find everything.

11. I usually don’t wake up until noon. I’m a night person and I party or watch TV until the wee hours of the morning. I need my social time, it’s a priority in my life.

12. My work schedule is so overwhelming, I don’t have time to do much else, much less plan my day or prioritize my tasks.

13. I just can’t multitask. I can only do one thing at a time.

14. Yes, I am a couch potato and proud of it. I need to watch TV to unwind from my day when I come home from work. It keeps me sane and my spouse happy.

15. I am a habitual worrier, it takes up a lot of my time and causes me to have many restless nights, but I just can’t help it.

16. Being organized is not one of my strong suits. I can never find anything. But nobody’s perfect.

17. I keep everything in my head. I don’t need a calendar.

18. I take a break every chance I get, especially since they aren’t paying me what I’m worth.

19. I often take personal calls at work and I have frequent visitors. It helps my day go by faster.

20. My schedule is so chaotic. I can never seem to get it together, no matter how hard I try. I’m always double-booked and late for appointments and deadlines. I think I need a virtual assistant.

TOTAL POINTS, PART TWO: ________________

FINAL SCORE: Subtract Part Two from Part One

Part One Points: _________

Part Two Points: _________

TOTAL: _________ 

What your final score means:

If you score between 30 and 40, you are excellent at managing your time. Feel free to write a book on Time Management.

If you score between 19 and 29, your time management skills are average. Periodically study the suggestions in Part One to either improve or maintain your time management skills.

If you score below 18, you really need to concentrate on improving your time management skills. The best way to fight procrastination is to maximize your ability to manage the time that is allotted to a task. This may take some practice on your part, but it will be well worth the effort. Remember, consistency is key; do something for 21 days and it becomes a habit.

Sandra back again. How’d you do? Be honest. 😆

Sharon_C_JenkinsMore About Sharon:

Sharon C. Jenkins is a literary project manager, author, motivational speaker and visionary who serves as the Inspirational Principal for The Master Communicator’s Writing Services.  Formerly the managing editor of four electronic and print journals (business, community, health and wellness, faith-based) for one of the largest African American marketing and communications companies in Houston, she has also written articles in various national and local publications.

Jenkins is also the best-selling Amazon author of Beyond the Closet Door and has co-authored two other books, Songs of Three Sisters and Ready, Set, Succeed: Making Your Dream Come True.

Known as the Master Communicator, because she is proficient in communicating in multiple forms of media: radio, newspapers, magazines, and spoken word, her prevailing mission is to equip authors to live their literary dreams without emptying their bank accounts. She started this undertaking four years ago with the Desire to Inspire Workshops, which progressed to the 2010 – 2013 Authors Networking Summit, which were hosted in Houston and Detroit. Sharon can be found at:

Five Things to Love About Inspirational Fiction

I am thrilled to be able to share with you the exciting news that Critical Condition won the 2012 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Love Inspired Suspense. Yee!!!

2012 RT Reviewer's Choice Award

If you’d like to see the list of RT Reviewers’ Choice Winners, click the link. Scrolling down brings you to the Love Inspired categories, scrolling up a ways brings you to the categories for trade-length inspirational books.

And with Reviewers’ Choice Awards topping the news, what a perfect day to chat about what we love most about inspirational fiction. To start us off, I’m delighted to introduce Amber Perry, founding blogger of  The Historical Christian Romance Review. She’s stopped by to share the top five things she loves most about inspirational fiction.

Amber Perry

 I first “met” Amber when she hired me to do a critique for her very first manuscript through last year’s ACFW conference. We quickly became good friends. She hails from Washington state, where she lives with her hubby and two adorable young daughters. She loves to read, and although she reads mostly historicals…I’m hoping that reading some of my current WIP has inspired her to try a little romantic suspense. 😉 


 Without further ado, here’s Amber… and please chime in at the end with the things you love!

I love Christian romance books (specifically historical) and even though there are gobs of reasons to like them, here are my top 5! Maybe your reasons are similar, maybe they are different—either way, you’ll have to comment and let me know. *grin *

 1.    Great Characters

What’s a story without great characters? That’s why I love this genre—I am rarely disappointed!

2.    Clean Romance

I love a great romance! But, I don’t want to read anything that would be inappropriate. That’s why I LOVE these stories. I can enjoy the romance without all the unnecessary stuff. You know what I mean. *wink *

3.    Good Christian message

Not only are these books entertaining, they are uplifting as well! I know I will come away with my faith in God stronger, in one way or another—and I love that.

4.    Fun settings (this is where the historical stuff comes in—for me anyway)

I love to be swept away to another place and time. These books take me to Boston in the 1920’s or Montana in the 1870’s. How fabulous is that? But the same thing can happen with contemporary stories as well—or any genre for that matter!

5.    Happy Endings

Believe it or not, there are some stories that don’t end happy! And there are some people who like those, and that’s great. For me, I gotta have a happy ending—and I can always count on that from a Christian romance.

 Your Turn: So what are your top 5, or top 3 or even your number 1 thing when reading these kinds of books?   God bless and Happy Reading!


What’s in a Name?

I’m delighted to share a guest post (geared to writers) from my youngest daughter Jennifer. She is a college-student, freelance writer, and aspiring novelist.

Whether it’s a person, place, thing or the title of your story, don’t underestimate the power of the name. The name can reveal.

Candy, the prostitute, is just that, a prostitute. Ashley is the young girl torn from innocence, forced into prostitution, and in search of true love.

A name can foreshadow. When your hero enters the city Sheol, translated to mean grave or hell, we know danger waits.

A well thought-out name rounds the hero and reveals something of their character or purpose.

Borrowing from an example in my screenwriting class, in the Hitchcock film Psycho, the sign of Bate’s Motel draws the heroine toward her murder. Likewise kind motel owner, Norman Bates is the worm on the hook – the bait.

Take a second look at your character and place names. What can they reveal about your hero? Can they up the suspense through foreshadowing? Trigger a reaction in your heroine? Or sign the death certificate of your villain? Show us your world through names.

Thank you, Jennifer. You’ve given the writers here lots to consider. 

I spend a lot of time trying to get my characters’ names just right. I try not to have them start with the same letter to avoid confusing the reader. I try not to have them all sound the same like Hayley, Bailey and Kayley, because, well, it’s just too funny. I favor single syllable names for my heroes with G or K sounds. Not sure why!

I often look up the meanings of names. But I never thought of using a play on words such as Bate-bait. Although readers have pointed out some unintentional connections. Such as laud meaning to praise, and how Emile Laud is all about being esteemed.

Your Turn: Readers, what’s the most memorable name you’ve come across in a story or movie and why? Writers, how do you choose names for your characters? Share your favorite and why.

Join me…

I’m guest posting today on The Craftie Ladies of Romance blog (a blog of Love Inspired romance writers–suspense, contemporary, and historical) on…
Celebrating Christian Fiction Readers.