Monday, October 14, 2013

Time Management: Working Full-Time and Writing

How do writers with full-time jobs manage to find the time to pursue a second career? I am about to go back to full-time work for the first time in months and after several months of complete freedom of time management, I have no idea how I'll adjust to the routine of 37.5 hours a week, plus commuting time, and still fit in writing.

At the moment (as usual) I have a few writing projects on the go:
  • Editing The Soldiers of Bruges
  • Planning my Nanowrimo 2013 project, The Ripple Effect
  • A non-fiction project
  • Another half-finished novel I really ought to get back to. . .
Here is what I have learned about writing when you have limited time:

1. One project at a time
This is hell for me, because my mind naturally works best when switching frequently between tasks. But it is also a lot more effective. If I only have one hour of writing time each day, I'll get more value from that hour if my mind is already in the world of the novel when I sit down. If I have to remind myself where I am in the plot and what happens next, I'll lose valuable writing time.

2. Know your limits.
I work at a computer all day, and although it is very tempting to spend my lunch breaks writing, I just can't. If I do, I get migraines. There is no point trying to get around that - my brain does what it does, and a girl can only ingest so many aspirin.

3. Simplify other things.
Where possible, I try to minimise the amount of things I have to in the evening - laundry can be put on in the morning before I leave the house rather than taking a bite out of my post-work time.

4. Use 'dead' time.
I can't write at lunchtime, but I can get my hair cut, go to the supermarket, go to the post office, go to the bank and do my Christmas shopping like a boss (and none of those activities give me migraines! Yay!). I like to read, and I am blessed that I can read on the bus.

5. The internet is my friend. Well, kind of.
As above - banking, shopping and several other awkward errands can be done online (not haircuts yet, unfortunately, although I hear Google Snip is in development as we speak). This doesn't work so well when I spend an hour every evening reading BBC news and blogs, but if I had any self-control, I wouldn't have to keep chocolate on a shelf in my house that I can't reach. . .

That's about all I've learned about time management. Does anyone have any other helpful tips? How do you find time to write if you have a full-time job with non-negotiable hours?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Return of Nathan Shepherd: Paul Anthony Shortt's New Book!

And who is she?I'll give you a clue - she has an explosive history with Nathan and she kicks arse.
The next instalment of Nathan Shepherd's story is launching this month, so my old friend Paul Anthony Shortt is here to kick off his blog tour and talk about where his series goes from here.  

It’s great to be back on Ellen’s blog and have her help me welcome Nathan Shepherd back to the world.

I've always preferred series to standalone novels. I love seeing characters develop over a period of time, facing ever-increasing challenges and gradually learning the secrets they need to defeat the villain. There's a sense of building anticipation that you can only get from a series. So what has Nathan Shepherd learned in the time since Locked Within?

The Nathan we see in Silent Oath is a little older, a little wiser, certainly more committed and brave than he once was, and also a little more scared. He's spent 9 months working against the Council of Chains, gathering only a few allies to help him in his fight.

By his side, of course, is Cynthia Keller, who spent most of the previous book laid up in hospital. Like Nathan, she has become stronger for her experiences, and can now definitely look after herself.

Cadence Brook, the witch from Boston, returns to New York, eager to help her friends. Readers will remember that outside reborn aren't allowed in New York, so Nathan takes a big risk asking her for help.

A new addition to the cast is Sam Kinnon, a bartender from New Jersey who's pretty handy in a fight, and takes the supernatural in his stride.

One of the most important things Nathan has learned is that he can't save New York alone. He knows he needs more than just a few friends, and has to do more than win a couple of street fights against vampires. The only thing which can protect the people of New York from the Council is a conclave. The city's last conclave was driven out at the end of a bitter, bloody war over 15 years before Nathan realised he had lived before.

This a theme which carries through the book. Friendship. Teamwork. Community. I love stories of friendship. I've often said that I consider my friends to be my family, and I think this shows in my writing. In Silent Oath, Nathan isn't simply looking for another enemy to fight; he's learning what it takes to be a leader. He sees that his actions have consequences, both good and bad, and is forced to decide whether he's going to try and keep everybody safe, taking all burdens on himself, or share the burden, letting his new family rise to join the struggle, knowing that someone may be hurt, or even killed.

When he works alone, Nathan scrapes by, coming close to death on more than one occasion. When his friends are with him, he is stronger and more determined to fight back. With so many new enemies arriving in town, and Lord Dorian after his head, Nathan will need all the help he can get.

To find about more about Paul, visit his blog or find him on Twitter.  

More about Silent Oath:

Hope has returned to New York City. Nathan Shepherd leads a small band of dedicated fighters against the Council of Chains and the city's supernatural masters. But it's not enough. Because from the shadows of Nathan's former lives comes an old enemy, one who knows terrible secrets that Nathan has not yet remembered, secrets that could undo everything he has fought for.

Nathan's only chance to uncover the memories of his previous existence, and to conquer these new forces of evil, lies in Elena DeSantis. A woman he has fought beside in past lifetimes. A woman he has loved.
Together, Nathan and Elena are the only future the city has.