AUTHOR TIME MANAGEMENT

As I wrote the blog that will first appear on Hometown Reads beginning on November 5, 2019, I realized the irregularity with which I’ve been writing for this site. Setting aside the publication of Murders of Conveyance, the third Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery and two bouts of flu, scheduling my time has been a major challenge to my productivity this year…Thus,  time management has been on my mind.

SUCCESSFUL SCHEDULING

Every professional finds challenges in maximizing productivity. Often the problem exists in both personal and professional living. That has certainly been true for me. The Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery series is growing, and I maintain two websites, this blog, and two Facebook pages. These ongoing projects are my excuse for untimely scheduling this year. It has seemed that there are several deadlines I have faced each day and while I’m putting out those fires, I’ve failed to follow a simple time management matrix.

STEPHEN R. COVEY & DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

One of the most important philosophers in my life has been author and business consultant Stephen Covey [1932-2012].  He was a dynamic man who based his secular advice on his personal faith in the precepts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His doctoral dissertation was based on analysis of self-help books which he would add to later for the benefit of people of many professions and philosophies. For many of his readers, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was his most impactful book, which helps to move one from dependence to independence to interdependence. I found the most memorable advice he presented was the Eisenhower Matrix, a decision-making tool for prioritizing one’s activity, which he attributed to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. [Note, the President credited the concept to an unnamed college president.]

EXAMINING YOUR INBOX

Consider the following classifications for the items in your existing calendar and inbox:

 A. URGENT, IMPORTANT                   B. NOT URGENT, IMPORTANT
 C. URGENT, NOT IMPORTANT         D. NOT URGENT OR IMPORTANT

Obviously that which is Urgent and Important must be addressed first. This could be the biographical paragraph your publisher has requested for your latest book or a cover letter that you will package with gift copies. Conversely, items that are not Urgent or Important [Quadrant D] should be examined for worthiness; do they even merit being on your schedule? If they are indeed things worth keeping, can you handle them in a more effective way?

For instance, maintaining good relations with colleagues and service suppliers can be vital to your success. But rather than having frequent personal meetings, consider scheduling occasional festive events that include several of these people…or if they are not in close proximity to you, consider meaningful gifting at unexpected times. For instance, rather than sending cards and gifts for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, consider Thanksgiving, New Year, or even an unexpected surprise at Asian Lunar New Year. As to gifts, consider whether there is something distinctive about your work that would be appropriate. In both fiction and non-fiction, the focus of most of my writing is Hawai`i, so an obvious gift for me to share is Hawaiian macadamia nut candy.

Once you’ve dealt with Quadrant A’s Urgent and Important items and the elimination or redirection of the Non-urgent and Unimportant things lingering in Quadrant D, look at the Non-urgent but Important listings in Quadrant C. You have declared them to be urgent; but, they are not important in the abstract. This area of concern includes spur-of-the-moment issues that arise, as well as administrative paperwork and organization.

For me, activity in this area usually focuses on filing—especially the growing number of my biographies. These are written in both first and third person, ranging from two sentences to a couple of pages. Generic ones have a conversational tone and discuss my life in general. Others focus on my fiction [especially the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries]. Academic ones present non-fiction projects like Conversations with Auntie Carol, A Series of Hawaiian Oral History Interviews. Organized by word count, I can quickly determine bios that meet the requirements of an unexpected request. Usually, I then copy/paste contenders into a new document and create a new bio or two that can be folded into the master file.

We have now arrived at the all-important consideration of items within our Quadrant B. Why take it out of order? As Stephen Covey would say, this area of concern should be the essential focus of our attention in setting our daily, weekly, monthly, and overall life schedule. If we constantly work on the non-Urgent but Important areas of our professional and personal life, we will find there are less deadlines to be faced…and eventually experience balanced living. Of course, that does not mean that unexpected emergencies will not occur to encroach on our time periodically.

In preparing for expansion of my career as an author, I’ve faced many issues this year. They have included: redesigning my two websites, learning to insert art and audio files into this blog, creating a professional Facebook page, and completing both Yen for Murder (the fourth NS mystery) and writing an annotated introduction to the Auntie C project [including 74 endnotes]. The overlapping of these projects has been daunting at times, BUT the time spent on future editing should be manageable!

ALIGNING YOUR CALENDAR

Let’s complete our time management exercise by re-examining the contents of our daily, weekly, and monthly calendars from this new perspective. You may have pre-set appointments like children’s schooling and other activities, your own working hours, wellness appointments, etc. Even the scheduling of these could be altered or made flexible.

Are there other parents with whom you might share transportation? Would your employer consider changes in your schedule like a reduction or shift to earlier/later hours, or even remote work from your home? Can you shift medical, dental and therapy/exercise appointments to days of the week or month to harmoniously fill out set blocks of time? Within those preset appointments, you could double your productivity as I do in performing a bit of library research prior to meetings of my authors salon.

How might you delegate some of the work you now undertake personally? Should you hire an accountant for bookkeeping and tax filing? If this is not an option, consider software that can optimize the hours you do invest in this activity. I am fortunate that many obligations I once undertook have passed to my husband who is retired. He now handles shopping, bill paying, and even the preparation of most dinners, allowing me to pursue completion of inspiration in my work.

Like my protagonist, Natalie Seachrist, I am an avid devotee of list making. When I look at items falling within Quadrant B, I have found that several lend themselves to specific times of the year, when other required and/or predictable activity lessens. That usually means there are gaps in my schedule during the winter holiday season and summer, when many people I work with professionally are on vacation. These are the times that I clean out hardcopy folders, sort through old research, rearrange and re-label files. Well, this summer has passed without any of those tasks being addressed…so, I guess you know how my holidays will be spent!

Wishing you the best in your writing endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, wordsmith and design consultant

You may also wish to check out my blog on Fear of Losing Files

To learn about The Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries and other projects, visit my author’s website, JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com 

For more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit ImaginingsWordpower.com 

AUDIO BOOKS 1

Prospect for Murder...in written and audio editions...the first Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery

Prospect for Murder is the first award-winning
Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mystery 
written and narrated by
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson

As I have shared recently, I have completed reshaping my author website and ImaginingsWordpower.com [a branding and development tips]. Unfortunately, the new website template system does not allow embedding  audio files directly from my desktop. Therefore, I am placing audio samples in appropriate blogs and inserting hyperlinks on my websites to connect readers to these blogs. Text from the lighthearted article, “Tucson and Her Cemeteries” is available on my author website.  A link to my previous blog provides an audio player for your listening pleasure…

Having completed several audio projects, I’m contemplating publishing an Online compendium of suggestions for your own endeavors in this area of authorship and performance. This would include ideas for project conceptualization, as well as treatments of technical issues…with the proviso that electronic hardware and software are constantly changing.

Today I offer some background on the development of Under Sonoran Skies, Prose and Poetry from the High Desert, which you can read about on my author website.  The six-author anthology was one of the top 50 picks of 2012 by Southwest Books of the Year.

Under Sonoran Skies Prose and Poetry of the High Desert

HARMONY

I believe an invaluable issue in compiling any anthology is establishing harmony among the authors’ personalities, skill sets, and voices. Fortunately, the co-authors of USS had become acquainted in attendance of writers’ salons for a couple of years. 

MY CO-AUTHORS

~  Bill Black, a magician, poet, prosaist, storyteller and MC, who has published numerous books and has been featured in regional and international magazines.  His current works may be found at his author page on Amazon.com

~  Susan Cosby-Patton, retired language arts instructor and poet who is published regionally and nationally. 

~  Kay Lesh, PhD,  educator and psychotherapist who authors professional articles and books and will soon be publishing a collection of short mysteries as well as a memoir. 

The late Reverend Patricia Noble, an author, educator, and speaker who aired radio essays and published journal articles. 

The late Larry Sakin, a political writer, radio talk show host, and green energy entrepreneur active in civic and literacy projects.

OUR COMPLEMENTARY WORK

Over time, we became familiar with the depth of our fiction and non-fiction work and recognized our complimentary voices. This led to a book of eleven themed chapters of poems, short stories, historical articles, and reflective essays.  Our intention was to allow readers to work their way through the book sequentially, or select from varied  subjects. 

The topics of our assembled pieces include: animal companions; business; the environment; history, mythology, personal relationships; phases of life; philosophy; politics; and, war. As most anthologies address a single theme, you may be wondering how we knitted the book together. We began by grouping our disparate works by topic and then placing them in chapters. Imagine our delight when Patricia recognized the synchronicity of flipping the words in the titles of our first and last chapters, “Visioning the Craft” and “Crafting the Vision.”

INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENTS

Production work was apportioned based on experience and interest. Because Kay possesses a well-modulated voice, we asked her to record the front piece material and chapter headings. Susan had been involved with the fabrication of other publications. Therefore, she undertook text layout to meet the requirements of hardcopy and Online production.  We also benefited from the breadth of Bill’s technical knowledge and Patricia’s grammar checking.

While Larry obtained most of the art images in the book, I addressed the overall design. This included utilizing a sunset image shot from my back lānai for the cover, and folio art to frame pagination. Because of my work in historical projects, I also undertook preparing a comprehensive index. 

THE AUDIO EDITION

As the majority of our group had performance experience, we immediately decided to produce an audio, as well as a written edition. We were fortunate that Larry had been working with Jim Waters of Tucson Waterworks Recording for several years. With confidence in both the man’s technical and directing talents, it was easy for each of us to enter the studio for one or more recording sessions. Once Jim had the raw material, he was able to smooth out differences in speed, cadence, and tone.  His final work was to prepare our audio files in several formats.

IN SUMMATION…for now

Was our work perfect?  I don’t believe so, but I hope we have met our listeners’ expectations of a work addressing multiple subjects in truly varied voices.  You will be the judge of the strengths and weaknesses of the few areas of consideration I’ve raised in this brief project overview. 

I think my greatest advice to you is to consider the individual gifts of everyone involved in such a project. This means being aware of yourself, as well as those with whom you are working. A well-produced audio book generates income.  It is also a wonderful way of enhancing recognition of your brand and introducing your work to a greater audience!

Please be aware that the voices you’ll hear in USS vary. And I’ll admit  that not all of us would be appropriate to undertaking the reading of an entire book. Finally, none of us would suggest publishing a work in any form without the input of other established authors, let alone a professional editor and perhaps a performance coach….

Now without further ado, here are a few audio samples from Under Sonoran Skies, Prose and Poetry from the High Desert. I hope you’ll enjoy these selections and understand why it’s my pleasure to continue working with these talented authors.

The Bourbon Eulogy by Bill Black
Prologue to Prospect for Murder by Jeanne Burrows-Johnson
As a Jewel in the Crown by Susan Cosby-Patton
Cookie Time by Kay Lesh

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief introduction to one of my favorite projects!  Now I think it’s time to turn to the matter of a business Facebook page…

Wishing you the best in your creative journey, 
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson
author, narrator, consultant, and motivational speaker

You may also wish to check out the following blogs on related topics:
~ Quality Book Production, Feb. 15, 2016
~ The Value of an Index, Aug. 28, 2015

To learn more about current and planned projects, please visit my author website at JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com.

Tips on branding, marketing and developing your work are available at Imaginingswordpower.com.

EMPOWERING BIOS

Jeanne Burrows-JohnsonWith 2019 quickly unfolding, authors and artists face a multitude of challenges and opportunities. Beyond financial planning and tax preparation, this is the ideal time to strategize and schedule events, design and/or revise our websites and social media outreach, and shape marketing materials to support these endeavors. While professional service providers can address many of these issues, there are expenditures that can be avoided if we are able to do some of the work ourselves. The essential question is whether we possess the skills and artistic vision to do so…as well as the time that will be required. Fortunately, like book synopses, several elements of biographies can be utilized repeatedly. Your picture, logos and slogans, descriptions of your work, and biographies of varying lengths and emphasis will all prove useful eventually. Today, I will suggest requisite elements of effective biographies.

WHEN WILL YOU NEED AN EMPOWERING BIOGRAPHY?
You are invited to view points raised in a humorous discussion of the need for biographies at imaginingswordpower.com/bios-to-empower-you.html. The gist of the piece is that everyone, both in and out of public view, has a need for one or more biographies…ranging from single sentences of self-introduction, to paragraphs for professional publications, and even a lengthy eulogy that will enumerate key aspects in one’s life.

WHERE TO BEGIN SHAPING YOUR BIOGRAPHY
By reviewing hardcopy and electronic files that contain materials addressing your life and work, you can gather facts, as well as previous stylistic choices from which you can draw. In addition, I suggest you create files of bios that have impressed you. These can include materials from colleagues and co-authors, as well as the brochures of professionals whose offices you visit.

Regardless of whether you work on a computer, or with pen and paper, begin listing words, phrases and other verbal images that you find attractive and worthy of positive public attention. At this point, do not be concerned about the length of your notes, their chronology, or even the vocabulary you are utilizing. For example, if you were writing a physical description of yourself, you might begin with the basics of hair and eye color with simple words like “brown” and “black.” You can add interest later by replacing “brown” with more dynamic words like coffee, chestnut, or charcoal.

IS THERE AN IDEAL LENGTH FOR A biography?
If you are a professional, you will interact with colleagues and the general public in differing ways. Each time you are required to produce a new bio, you will face varying requirements in length and style.

~ A casual meeting or elevator speech requires a single sentence of self-introduction in a first-person voice
~ Casual reference by another person requires similar length, but should be written in a third-person voice

~ Your brief self-introduction, should be about three sentences in a first-person voice
~ A brief introduction by another person requires similar length, but should be written in a third-person voice

~ Detailed self-intros often range from a paragraph to a page, written in a first-person voice
~ Complex intros that are to be delivered by someone else should be similar in length, written in a third-person voice

  ~ Anything longer can be used for slow elevators or tall buildings 

BIOGRAPHY ELEMENTS
Regardless of usage, I recommend you utilize verbiage that expresses your personality, as well as the products or services you offer. This allows readers or listeners of your promotional materials [especially prior to an event] to feel they have actually met you. You should consider including the following.

~ Education and training
~ Career highlights and focus of work
~ Professional accreditation and affiliations
~ Photographs are optional and may be appropriate to only some uses. Authors can be photographed holding one of their books and artists may wish to show a sample of their art. Head and bust shots, as well as images of you standing on a stage or at a podium will all prove useful someday. If you have action shots featuring other people, you should obtain a signed release from them.

BIOGRAPHY LAYOUTS
Biographical layouts vary with length and purpose. To maximize harmony with other promotional materials, your biography should utilize elements from your style sheet with your signature font[s], colors, logos, slogans, etc.!

USAGE OF BIOGRAPHIES
Once you have created biographies of varying length and style, you can utilize them in numerous places. Bios can be placed in several places on the internet, including: One or more pages of your website[s], your blog; Facebook and other social media sites; a framed copy can face visitors to your office or studio.

I send copies of appropriate bios to organizers of public speaking engagements twice; once when arrangements have been confirmed, and just prior to the event. I also carry copies to the event in case the host does not have one. Depending on the purpose of the engagement, the bio/intro may be short or long. If short, I print it on cardstock, as well as 8.5 x 11- inch stationery. I also carry a copy with bulleted key points in a non-glare archival quality sleeve in my presentation folder…for those unexpected occasions when I end up having to introduce myself. [With bulleted data, I can choose to add or delete points that I may decide are, or are not, appropriate to the day’s audience.]

FYI: I recently received a call from a radio personality wanting to interview me. For a mere $125 per quarter of an hour, I can be featured on a drive-time radio show…This has reminded me of other [free] opportunities I have had. Not only am I glad to have varied bios at the ready for those I choose to pursue, but I’m thinking about preparing a series of questions that I might want an interviewer to ask…

Wishing you the best in your unfolding Life’s journey,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson,
author, narrator, consultant, motivational speaker

For further tips on branding, please visit my marketing website
Imaginings Wordpower and Design Consultation.

To learn more about the Natalie Seachrist Mysteries, including the new release, Murders of Conveyance, a few Island recipes and my other projects, please visit my author website at JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com.