Saturday, August 18, 2018

When Your Deadline Involves Chasing a Planet


When you’ve spent millions of dollars building a robot rover to explore Mars and the planets will only be in the right alignment to launch during one small window of time every two years, now THAT is a deadline not to be missed.

If you saw the movie 'The Martian,' you'll recall all the conversation and tension around the launch windows and when supplies could be sent and when a rescue mission could be sent...

I supported the business aspects of various real life Mars missions and other projects at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory during my career there and trust me, the project planning at JPL is intricate and leaves nothing to chance, even building in slack time to handle those unforeseen glitches and gremlins that always arise when trying to do complicated one time trips to other planets. There were literally thousands, if not millions of interim ‘due dates’ in the project plan prior to the actual preferred launch date.

Including dates for all the reviews and other meetings needed to keep an eye on the schedule.

Do I apply all that rigor to my own career as a self-published author? Not really. I still break big jobs into smaller deliverables and keep an eye on my critical path…yeah, and I also still speak the project language, as you can see. I track my deadlines on my Outlook calendar and on a handwritten weekly To Do List that is constantly changing, evolving, scribbled upon and reviewed. (I need that tactile feedback of crossing things off and eventually crumpling up the paper and throwing it away to start a fresh list.) I HATE missing a deadline or causing others to do hurry up work to accommodate my not building in enough slack time.

Bu this applies to the posts I write for USA Today/HEA, AMAZING STORIES and other platforms, including this lovely, well built, friendly gathering spot.

When it comes to my own novels, I have a really rough editorial calendar sketched out, about a year ahead, to make myself see one cannot perform three actions simultaneously, there are not more than twenty four hours in a day and yes, I need to sleep. So that means I CANNOT expect to get the next novel in my bestselling Badari Warriors series released while also completing another ancient Egyptian paranormal romance, much less also writing the long awaited sequel to my one fantasy romance. Not in the same 30-40 days. And my editor has an iron clad thirty days to go over each of my manuscripts and she can’t edit three of them simultaneously either.

I have a bad habit of ‘magical thinking,’ which Wikipedia defines thusly:  the belief that one's thoughts by themselves can bring about effects in the world or that thinking something corresponds with doing it. So I like to believe I can do three things at once!

At least as a self-published author, I’ll never miss any contractually required deadlines. I just have to ensure the flow of words and books keeps going on a regular enough basis to meet that other hard and fast deadline – paying the rent!

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