Slayers 5 New Year’s resolutions

First off, my file became corrupted (Who out there is corrupting vulnerable young files?) and I lost a week’s worth. And then I couldn’t work on the manuscript for a day because I felt so sick about losing a week’s worth. Could I have backed it up and saved myself all of this?  Do I usually back it up and never need the backup? Yeah–that’s why I was so upset.

Anyway, first draft should be done soon and then it will go out to beta readers.  But here is my resolutions regarding the book.

I will not paint any rooms, cabinets, or anything else in my house until I finish the first draft of this manuscript. Even though, trust me, it really needs it.

I will not organize any closets, despite the fact that I’ve seen two episodes of the Netflix series Tidying Up and have a sudden desire to go through them.

I will not watch any TV or Movies (unless I’m on the treadmill) until the manuscript is winging it’s way to the beta readers

I will not cook any meals that take more than 45 minutes to prepare until I’ve typed The End.

And I won’t clean my bathroom…or maybe that’s going too far…Any chance I could convince my husband that he needs to do it?

Maybe this whole not doing housework thing could work out for me…

Answering the question: When do you find time to write?

I just got this question from a new writer who noted that errands take up a lot of time that should be devoted to writing. She wrote:

How do you manage your writing process (do you have set hours or a word count to reach each day)? How do you keep yourself accountable to getting the work done (spreadsheets? an accountability partner)? Has any of that changed now that your kids are older? How do you balance novel creating time with your other tasks, like editing, marketing, blogging, attending events, etc?

The short answer is: not well. I write really slowly. While other people are banging out two thousand words in an hour, I’ll get that much done in eight hours. So how do I find time to write? Here’s the long answer:

When my children were little I had specific times that I wrote. Namely when the kids were napping, when the kids had a favorite show on TV that would keep them occupied for an hour, playdates, and preschool.  I wrote during soccer games and ballet lessons. I wrote while nursing babies. I wrote whenever I could. One page a day adds up

You’re right that errands take up a lot of time. And when the kids get home from school you’re busy with them. I try not to schedule any errands on Mondays so that it can be a dedicated block of writing. Then I try and have a day or two in the week that is also dedicated to writing and I run errands on two days a week. Very often errands take more time than two days. (And I have found, alas, that no matter how much I wish for it, the house doesn’t clean itself. Or paint itself.)

Kids have dentist appointments and doctors appointments and orthodontics appointments. Friends need help and church members need help. Am I ever going to tell a friend in need that I’m too busy to help them because I have to write fiction? Some writers do, but it seems wrong to me. Which is why a lot of my writing time gets done after 10 pm. No one calls to ask you to do things then. It’s hard to run errands–although, I have been known to go to the 24 hour Walmart. (Note: working late is only effective when your kids are young. When they’re older, they will indeed call to talk to you at midnight because they know you’re up.)

This nighttime schedule has only worked because my husband has been willing to help get kids off to school in the morning. I’ve told people on occasion that I’ll never leave my husband because he drives the carpool. I’m only half joking. Driving the carpool makes up for a myriad of sins in the romance department.

I’ve found that on some days, my older or married children still need a lot of my time. So the mom job never really ends. (Sometimes I feel like I’m my son’s unpaid personal assistant.)

As I write this blog on finding time to write, I’m planning to take a repositioning cruise that will last 14 days. The reason I’m taking it is that I will have no errands, no cooking, no cleaning, and no one will ask me for anything. I won’t even have internet–just days of uninterrupted writing time.  I’m hoping to get a huge chunk of Slayers 5 done.

So what I’m saying is that if I need to pay a lot of money and hide out on a boat in the middle of the ocean for two weeks in order to get writing done,’m not the best at finding balance.

I’m not sure that answer helps you much. In fact, right now you may be weeping. I am a little on the inside too…

Cheap books for a good cause!

Readers are going to love this bargain! My friend Tristi has put together a fundraiser for a family with a premie baby who has a lot of medical bills. Authors donated hundreds of books and now their up for auction–but there’s so many of them, you’re going to get a good deal. It’s a win-win. A bunch of mine are there as well as Mr. Odd1sOut. may contain: one or more people and people sleepingTo bid, click on the picture of the bundle you’re interested in. Then click the read more. It will tell you the retail value and the minimum bid.

Back to real life-motivation and guilt

I’ve just been to the LDStorymakers Midwest conference. (Or as the hotel called us: LD Storymakers. I say that stands for Lonely Divas, although some suggested it actually meant Loves Dessert. Both work. You choose.)

It’s always so fun to see old friends and meet new ones and basically hang out with people who get you. There is always something new to learn. I come back from conference motivated to do all sorts of marketing and writing with all of its associated guilt because I know I’m only going to get a small fraction of my good intentions accomplished.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, screen and indoor

In this conference I found myself in Mary Gray’s romance class up in front of everyone with Lisa Swinton blocking out an ill-fated kiss that takes place in a maintenance shed in Arizona with scorpions and only a weed Wacker for protection.

I also got to talk with other writers over dinner.

Them: Life gets so busy. Sometimes it’s hard to find two hours in which I can knock out 5000 words.

Me: I hate you all.

Because I have never written 5000 words in two hours. 5000 words would take me approximately 14 hours because I write somewhere around 300 to 500 words in hour. I am the slowest writer I know. I can tinker with the paragraph for half an hour.

So one of my goals is to utilize text to speech more and write faster. We’ll see how that goes. Usually when I use text-to-speech I end up sounding drunk and questionable. But hey, maybe that will make for more entertaining reading


Not dead yet…

I just realized it’s been over a month since I posted. Ugh! Since I’ve been busy working on screenplays for the last five months (and life… how does anyone ever get anything accomplished in the middle of doctors’ appointments and dentist check ups and teens who insist they need to go to Target–RIGHT NOW for (fill in the blank) and laundry and shopping and should people really expect me to cook? No. And yet they do.)

Anyway, when I haven’t been writing screenplays, I’ve been reading or listening to courses on writing screenplays. Go ahead and ask me about Greek tragedies influence on cinema. I know things now.

Every once in awhile I get emails asking when the next  Slayers book will come out. And then I weep.

So… that’s been my life. It sort of feels like I’ve dropped off the face of the writing world, but I haven’t.

Answering three questions about becoming a writer

Sometimes people email me for school assignments or other types of assignments where they need to learn about how to become an author. I just got one such request and thoughts I would post the three answers I gave an aspiring writer.

1. What are your job responsibilities?
 As a writer, it probably won’t surprise you to find out that my main responsibility is to write books. Sometimes I have a deadline from the publisher and have to hole up like an unwashed obsessed person, trying to wrestle words from the air and pin them on the page. Other times, the deadlines are all internal and then my children get fed dinner once in a while. Publishers also expect you to do a large amount of marketing for your books. I hadn’t expected this when I got my first contract and I foolishly forgot to get a degree in marketing.  If you want to become a writer, the more you can learn about marketing, the better.
2. What training or education did you obtain to do the job?
 The nice thing about being a writer is that part of the education is reading a lot of books. However, you’ll also need to read books on writing and get some sort of a critique group that will give you feedback on your writing. If you can’t find a group near you, try an online critique group. Or you can also find critique groups by genre. Romance writers frequently join RWA etc.
Since you will also be receiving high degrees of criticism and rejection, I suggest you train for the job of a writer by going to high school. Every time you’re snubbed, you can tell yourself: That ain’t nothing. I can take it. I’m going to be a writer.
 3. What contributions does your job make to society?
 As a writer, my main contribution to society is to convince girls and women that there really are hot awesome guys around who are both romantic and witty. This may be a total lie. I’m not sure. I’m married to an electrical engineer. But because people need entertainment, it’s important for authors to provide good uplifting novels that readers don’t have to feel bad about reading. Hopefully, I do that too.

.99 romantic comedy and 25.00 Amazon gift card giveaway

These two novellas were so much fun to write–and I promise they’ll be even more fun to read because you won’t have to rewrite any sections. (That makes a huge difference in your enjoyment level.) And now, because I need Amazon reviews, the book is on sale and I’ll be giving away one 25.00 gift card to a reviewer on about June 29th. To be eligible, just review the book and then send me a link to your review at jrallisonfans @ will choose the winner. Your review doesn’t have to be long or a five star–and as always with any of my ebooks, if you see a typo/grammar mistake feel free to tell me what and where they are. (I have about eight people proofread my books and things still slip by.)

Click Here to Buy My Fair Lacey & A Perfect Fit

Here is a description, and scroll down for an excerpt.

Lacey has dreamed of opening a restaurant for years – but first, she needs a loan. When Garrett Halifax, her roommate’s Harvard-educated brother, offers to help her clean up her appearance and manner to impress the bank manager, she jumps at the chance. She makes mistake after mistake, and perhaps the biggest mistake is falling for sexy Garret.

This modern retelling of My Fair Lady offers all the humor of the original movie with a splash of romance thrown in.

Jojo Halifax, Lacey’s roommate, believes that winning Echo Ridge’s float competition is just what her fledgling art career needs. And if that means giving her ex-boyfriend, Anthony, a second chance so she can be a designer on his team, well, she’s willing to make the sacrifice. But when a lost bet leads to a blind date with her brother’s friend, Wyatt, she begins to have second thoughts about second chances. Wyatt is handsome and charming and just might have been paid to make her forget about Anthony. Is falling for his charm worth the risk or should she take Anthony back again?


Jojo and Wyatt were nearing their floor. “Anyway, whatever price Garrett paid for your services, it was worth it.”

Wyatt smiled. “Glad to know you’re satisfied.”

His answer shouldn’t have bothered Jojo, but it did. She’d made the comment tongue-in-cheek and had expected him to deny that Garrett was paying him anything. Instead, he’d confirmed it. What was Garrett paying him with? A favor called in? Cash? She hoped it wasn’t that. How much did make-my-sister-forget-her-boyfriend dates run? Hundreds? The more Garrett paid, the more pathetic it meant she was.

The elevator slowed to a stop and the door opened. Wyatt stepped into the hallway and paused, checking the numbers on the wall to see which way to go. Jojo followed him, rolling her overnight bag behind her.

“This way,” he said, heading to the left. His room was 2312; hers was 2310.

She kept pace beside him. “So you’re saying that Garrett actually paid you to take me out?”

“I didn’t say that. I just said I was glad you were satisfied.”

“Then he didn’t pay you?”

“I didn’t say that either.”

“Well, which is it?”

He gestured to the rooms on his right, completely unperturbed by her questioning. “Here are our rooms.”

“You’re not going to answer me?”

He paused in the hallway, seemed surprised by her insistence. “What are you really asking? Do you want me to tell you that you’re pretty enough and interesting enough to get a date without your brother’s help? You absolutely are. But I suspect you already know that. Girls who are as pretty as you are quite aware of it.”

The compliment washed over her, made her tingle. She was pretty and interesting. “Ah, thanks. You’re so sweet.” And then the next moment her doubts returned. “Wait, is my brother paying you to say things like that to me?”

Wyatt laughed, then unlocked his door. “I’ll be ready to go in five minutes. See you then.” He winked and disappeared inside, shutting the door.

That wink. Jojo would look stupid if she tried it, but Wyatt made the gesture flirtatious and intimate, like she’d gained entrance to his inner circle. A place she suddenly wanted to be.

As she walked into her room, she made a new goal for the evening. She would not do impulsive, foolish things, like throw herself at Wyatt in an attempt to get over Anthony. She would not flirt with him and try to get him to kiss her. Nothing good could come of that. Except, of course, the kissing part. With a guy like Wyatt, that was bound to be good.

Nope. She wouldn’t find out.

But then again, maybe she would.


Update on…everything

I had planned to finish Slayers before I did anything else. The story is so close to being done. Well, at least the rough draft is close. The finished, polished story is far from being done since revisions take months. But my agent called me the end of March and told me he wanted me to turn three of my books into screenplays.

The first problem with this instruction was that I don’t know how to write screenplays. It’s sort of like telling a comic creator to do a watercolor. Some of the principles are the same but it’s completely different medium. So I’ve been reading screenplay writing books and working on Just One Wish, and All is Fair in Love, War, and High School. When I’m done with those, my agent wants me to turn My Fair Godmother into both a screenplay and a pilot for a series. In case you’re wondering, writing series pilots is different then screenplays so I’ll have to learn another new skill.

In some ways it’s been good for me to work on something so different because it reminds me that learning is a process and I should have more understanding and patience for people who haven’t learned the craft of writing yet. Just because you tell people a rule and even give examples doesn’t mean they’ll know how to implement it. I’ve been told in screenwriting books to avoid overwriting, and I’m still not sure what that looks like.

It takes a lot of hours to learn a craft and I’m just at the beginning of that journey.

Part of me wants to stop with the screenplays after I finish All’s Fair and get the fifth Slayers done. Another part of me realizes that I have an agent for a reason, and I’m supposed to listen to his advice. Strike while the iron is hot, and all that. I might be able to make a decent wage as a screenwriter whereas I know I won’t make that working on the last Slayers book. Harsh truth, I know. But these last books have been a labor of love and not profit.

I also have been working on my novella: Covertly Yours, which is in the With a Kiss anthology. I and some amazing authors put this anthology together as a fundraiser for Rob Wells. It will only be available for six months so grab your copy now. (Amazon says it’s 666 pages. Apparently one of us should have written one more or one less page.)

Click here to buy With a Kiss

I’ve been at Storymakers and Phoenix Comic Fest where I filmed a whole bunch of episodes of So You Think You Can Write with amazing guest judges. Standby for episodes with Shannon Hale, Melanie Jacobson, Sarah Eden, Donna Hatch, Lisa Mangum, Ben Grange, Brandon Mull, James Owen, and Brandi Stewart (From Changing Hands). I’m probably forgetting someone. But trust me they were all awesome.

Those episodes will be coming out in the next month months.

And that’s what I’ve been doing and why I’m behind on everything, or at least behind on Slayers, which feels like everything.