Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blog Tour: 20 Questions with Author Debbi Mack

What's a typical day like for you?

Before I answer, I'd like to thank Bridget here at Readaholic for hosting me on this tour. I truly appreciate the opportunity to talk to your readers.

Now, a typical day. I wonder what that would be. LOL

The reason I say that is that I'm not quite sure there is such a thing.

However, having said that, I usually try to stick to a fairly strict schedule (to the extent it's not completely botched by other matters in life getting in the way).

Each night, before I go to bed, I review the list of things I'd like to accomplish. I go through and pencil them onto my calendar (literally!). This way I know I've allowed time to get them done.

When I make up my to-do list, I try not to overload it with things that I know I can't accomplish in one day. In short, I try to keep my to-do list for the day realistic and achievable.

By penciling in each item (forcing me to think about how long it'll probably take), I'm usually able to get most, if not all, of my work done for that day.

I even pencil in time for lunch and breaks. You can't go non-stop, nose-to-the-grindstone, can you?

Now, as to the day itself, I usually get up around 7 a.m., have a small bite to eat (English muffins, usually) and exercise. During the summer, my husband and I will walk our neighborhood. In the winter, we go to a nearby gym and use the treadmill. (They have other equipment we can use, as well. But I'm pretty much addicted to the treadmill. Why? So, I can read while I walk. Yes, I'm hopeless that way. LOL)

Afterward, we usually have coffee together. And, by coffee, I mean cappuccino. I'm a HUGE coffee fan. And, for good or ill, I've become a coffee snob ever since our trip to Italy last year. American coffee now tastes like dirty water. So, I'm afraid my husband and I simply can't live without our espresso machine.

Anyway, after coffee and a quick shower, I'm ready to get to work. By now, it's probably between quarter to ten to 10:00 a.m. (All the eating, exercise and coffee takes time. But it's quality time and I can set my own schedule. And when I get down to work, I use the time productively).

I usually start off reading email, just to get it out of the way. Sometimes I'll respond to messages right off the bat. (My rule: if it takes less than five minutes, just do it and be done with it.) Sometimes I'll hold onto something to respond to later. I just use my best judgment and do a bit of off-the-cuff triage (triage: the assigning of priority order to projects on the basis of where funds and other resources can be best used, are most needed, or are most likely to achieve success – Merriam Webster online dictionary).

My email is usually followed by either marketing or promotional tasks (such as writing press releases, making phone calls or sending emails regarding signings or other events, calling bookstores or other venues about possible signings and other appearances, doing online marketing and networking, writing guest blogs (like this one ;)) and interviews, creating and revising my marketing plan, evaluating my finances and adjusting expenditures as needed) or administrative work (preparing to publish my sequel LEAST WANTED – this can actually be broken down into several sub-tasks, including setting up an account with Lightning Source, obtaining and reviewing the editing of my book, obtaining and reviewing the copyediting and formatting of my book, creating a template for the cover, corresponding with the cover artist, reviewing the proposed cover art – I could go on and on, but I'll keep it short – I may wish to enter various contests or have my work considered for awards – these all come under administrative tasks, too – and of course, I have to pay my bills and keep an accounting of all my income and expenditures – this is, after all, a small business I'm running; gotta be accountable to the tax man).

Okay, so after handling whatever marketing, promotion, networking and administrative tasks I have on tap for that day, I finally (finally!) get to the task of writing. I usually try to reserve at least two or (if I'm really lucky) three hours to write every day. And when I say every day, I mean every single day (except Sunday – everyone deserves at least one day off). I don't try to write a minimum number of words. I used to do that. However, I find it far more effective to simply sit down and write something. Anything I have time for. Whether it's 200 or 2,000 words I write that day, I figure I'm that much closer to my goal of finishing whatever project I'm working on.

Needless to say, my writing time also includes research and outlining, in addition to the actual writing. I always have a rough outline worked up before I get too far into my novels. It makes rewriting so much easier. It's far more efficient than simply spewing words and hoping a story will emerge – at least, for me. Everyone has their own way of doing this.

By the time I've finished, I might have a half hour to an hour to write my own blog post for the day. I have five blogs and post to at least one of them every day. I also have a column on my Web site, which I write during the time I devote to marketing and promotion.

So, as you can see, I keep busy. And I work on a schedule. Pretty much like anyone with a job. Except my boss is such a pain in the ass. She never cuts me any slack. She never takes any excuses. She might let me sleep in a little if I'm feeling sick, but she won't let me get away with slacking off indefinitely. In other words, my schedule is flexible, but not too flexible.

That's the curse (and blessing) of being an author. You are your own boss, and that's not always the easiest thing to be.

* * * * *

Thanks for reading, everyone! Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address if you'd like to enter the drawing for the 10 autographed copies of IDENTITY CRISIS I'm giving away. (One entry per person, but comment as often as you like.)

The drawing will be held on my blog My Life on the Mid-List after the tour is finished. Check my blog for the entire tour schedule.

And please join me at my next stop tomorrow:  Curling Up by the Fire

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Debbi Mack is the author of IDENTITY CRISIS, a hardboiled mystery and the first in a series featuring lawyer Stephanie Ann "Sam" McRae. She's also a short story writer whose ebook anthology, FIVE UNEASY PIECES, includes the Derringer-nominated "The Right to Remain Silent," originally published in The Back Alley Webzine. Debbi's work has also appeared in two of the CHESAPEAKE CRIMES anthologies.

Be on the lookout for her next Sam McRae novel, LEAST WANTED, which will be published soon (in print and ebook versions).

Debbi practiced law for nine years before becoming a freelance writer/researcher and fiction author. She's also worked as a news wire reporter covering the legal beat in Washington, D.C. and as a reference librarian at the Federal Trade Commission. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three cats.

You can find out more about Debbi on her Web site and her blog My Life on the Mid-List. Her books are available on Amazon, BN.com, Smashwords and other sites around the Web, as well by order at stores. You can also buy autographed copies of her novel from her Web site.

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