Queen of the Juggle

Over the years, I’ve had different ways of remembering important dates and duties. First, it was pen and hand—literally ink on palm. Then it progressed to sticky notes and a day planner. Eventually, I chose a wall calendar and then a dry erase board and now a phone.

I honestly have to whip out my cell in the morning to double-check my schedule for the day. I’ve also resorted to accessing my calendar during phone calls, Zoom meetings, and in doctor’s offices because I can’t keep dates straight in my head. Of course, it’s not all my stuff. I also put in things like the kids’ activities and birthday reminders.

Sometimes I’m afraid that my phone will up and die. And that even though I back up my calendar, I’ll lose everything and forget about a super important event. Like a book deadline. (Thankfully, hasn’t happened yet.) In fact, I’m on hold status after having turned in Book 2, Hot Pot Murder, in my upcoming series.

Due to this lull, I’ve recently been working on a proposal.

My friend’s actual wedding cake

No, not that kind. Although, come to think of it, congrats to J.C. Kenney on his 31st anniversary!

Anyway, I’m talking about a series proposal, which I didn’t know about for the longest time. Guess I wasn’t properly pitching my series before. In fact, the L.A. Night Market Mysteries deal resulted from a brief written pitch. Gratuitous promo: Death By Bubble Tea (Book 1) comes out on July 5th, and you can preorder it now.

A proper series proposal consists of a whole package, including the synopsis, blurbs for the next books in the series, and sample chapters. I’m indebted to the amazing Ellen Byron and fantastic Sherry Harris for providing me with sample templates, so I can appear semi-competent when sending it to my agent.

To be honest, I’m starting to feel nervous about the proposal. If things do work out, will I be able to juggle different series throughout the year? I mean, I can barely keep track of my appointments!

How do you juggle activities—and keep track of them all?

44 thoughts on “Queen of the Juggle

  1. Like you Jen, I have used different ways to keep track of important dates/deadlines.

    When I was working at Environment Canada, I could have 2-3 big multiyear projects or 8-12 smaller annual projects to work on/manage. I used both a hard copy day planner, a larger 12-month wall calendar & Outlook email reminders to keep track of meetings, conference calls, travel and milestones/deadlines.

    It has been a bit easier in retirement but not any easier to remember commitments which vary from week to week. There’s daily life stuff along with keeping track of irregular (but fun) meetup group activities. By then, I had switched to Google Calendar which syncs to my laptop, smartphone and tablet. And certainly during multiple pandemic lockdowns over the past 2 years, I signed up for multiple Zoom author events and conferences every week, and needed those reminders.

    Having alarms go off on all 3 devices for the same event may be overkill but I do need these reminders!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wow, Grace! I’m tired just reading about all the projects you handled at Environment Canada!

      That’s smart to have Google Calendar sync to all your devices. Having my phone alert me doesn’t help when I’ve misplaced it!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Ha ha, I never thought of using my oven timer as backup. I figure that I would be close enough to hear the alarm from 1 of these devices.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The thing about the kitchen timer, Grace, is that is saves you from yourself. It’s the same idea as putting your alarm clock across the room so you’re not tempted to snooze it. If I have to go aaaaall the way downstairs to shut off my annoying oven timer, then I’m not tempted to “just finish this one thing” and then forget about it completely.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. ha, Jen! My oven sees so few cookies that when I’m actually cooking and the timer rings, I kind of go into a panic. “What have I forgotten? Where am I supposed to be?” Very Pavlovian, but sadly, not in the cookie kind of way.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have used…and STILL use…all of the above. I have a Day Minder appointment book on my desk in front of me. I use the Asana app on my computer. I have my calendar on my phone. And I have a wall calendar hanging in my kitchen. That’s the one my husband checks on and adds his stuff to. The problems happen when I don’t keep them all synced and a date appears open on one but not another.

    This doesn’t happen as often as you’d think though. I generally make all appointments from this very spot where I have my landline, my cell, my appointment book, and my computer with Asana within inches of each other. Answer the phone, note the event/appointment in the Day Minder, then transfer to the cell’s calendar and Asana as soon as I end the call.

    It’s that wall calendar that tends to be forgotten.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Best wishes on the series proposal, Jen (and thank you for the shout out ❤️)! The biggest challenge I have is remembering to block out personal appointments on my day job calendar. I’d rather not find myself on a conference call while at the eye doctor. Not that that’s ever happened. Maybe…

      Liked by 5 people

      1. You’re welcome, J.C.! (I don’t know why I didn’t see your comment earlier.)

        Ooh, I bet those double appointments make for great ideas for stories and books.

        Like

  3. Staying within Apple’s free apps has kept everything synced, including using reminders, calendars, and notes. The only hitch is when both my wife and I add the same event we end up with duplicates. Minor glitch in the grand scheme of things. BTW: While reading on the Kindle app on iPads, copying opening lines, similes, metaphors, and brilliant descriptions to Apple Notes has given us a vast database of “patterns” and “prompts,” inspiring refinement of our writing.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Apple does keep everything nicely within the same system. And I guess duplicate events aren’t so bad–better safe than sorry! (I’m still a little hesitant of having my whole life synced online–Big Brother fears…) That’s brilliant about the Notes app and the ability to have constant accessible inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I use my phone/Google calendar. But like you I worry about losing it if the phone dies. I think I will do a hard copy back up. I am looking forward to your new book. I will be sure to check it out! Good luck with your new series!
    Carol

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Jen, like you I have multiple calendars. The dry erase on the fridge. A wall calendar in front of me (although I tend not to write in that one – it just keeps me oriented as to what day it is). My phone calendar, that syncs across phone, laptop, iPad, and I share with The Hubby. And my weekly To-Do list is in Trello.

    I tell people – if the event doesn’t exist on one of these, it doesn’t exist!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Oh, Liz, I have the same issue of remembering what day it is! I feel like I’m constantly checking the date.

      I need to borrow your line about the event not existing if it’s not on one of the calendars! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  6. For years I used a dry erase board in the kitchen, but I wore it out. I’m looking for something fun to replace it with. The last one had Looney Tunes on it. Now I have a hard copy day planner that sits open on my desk, because if I listed things on my cell phone I would never ever consult it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. A Looney Tunes dry erase board sounds so fun! I find that I need to frequently replace the markers when I’m using dry erase boards.

      Ha about the cell phone! (Even on the phone, though, I have to remember to make sure I’m looking at the correct date!)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have been known to select the correct month in the wrong year on my phone and set myself a reminder for then!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Good morning, Jen,
    I keep a planner on my desk, and I have used google calendar on our cells to coordinate When our kiddo was small, my wife’s schedule was insane while I decided to return to college. Fun days! (not!) Thankfully, now I just have to worry about my own schedule since the kiddo is married as well as a very needy dachshund. Most of the time, it’s just her feeding schedule, and I do not need an alarm for that, as she starts creeping closer and closer to me about 1/2 hour before her actual dinnertime and snack time.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Jen, congrats on your series proposal. It sounds more like a proposal for a non-fiction book than a query for fiction. I’ve been tossing around an idea for a cozy series – not that I need any more to do – and if it ever gets to that stage, now I’ll know how to pitch it. As for juggling, I’m working on the seventh Natalie McMasters book and I’ve recently started up my ESL editing again, to help make ends meet, so I’m juggling novel writing, marketing and editing deadlines. I’m old school. I wouldn’t know what to do without my Franklin-Covey organizer, and I also repeat some entries in Google Calendar. I’ve never found any organizing software as good as the hard copy organizer – if anyone knows of some, please let me know.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I’m not super good about tracking stuff. I haven’t forgotten anything important – yet – fortunately. I put my medical/dental appointments in my calendar at work since I am out of the office for them. That way, people know I’m out. And I know to look there for them. I put dates for books I have ARCs for on my blog. That way, others know what is coming up (although it isn’t everything I will be reading and reviewing). And I put dates for when I finish a book in the calendar in my phone. That way, I don’t forget when I finished the book in the time between finishing the book and posting the review. And I remember which books I need to share lines for in First Line Monday each week.

    Is it random? Pretty much. Is it working for me? At least at the moment.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. For years, Robin and I had a wall calendar in the kitchen where we’d write down all of our appointments, dinner dates, meetings, days off work, and other scheduling matters. But with the advent of Google calendars, we now use that, and each have a different color for all our various activities (my author/writing activities are a bright yellow–my favorite color). What’s great about this system is that it’s in the cloud, so I can access it from both my computer and phone.

    But woe to either of us if we forget to enter something important: What?! It wasn’t on the calendar, and now I’ve scheduled something else at the exact same time!!! But that could be a whole different blog post…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jen, how exciting that you are working on a brand new proposal!! I also can’t wait til your Night Market series—and I wish they had them here IRL, so I could go to one! Re: scheduling, well…I noteevents in multiple places—phone calendar; Passion Planner; phone alarms; a pinned, ever-updating To-Do note on my phone. I used to love those giant, desk-blotter calendars, but now my keyboard covers it up. I also used to have a flip day-by-day deal at work, where I listed priority projects (usually they appeared the next week as well). I get entirely too excited about crossing items off the list. I often doodled
      over the day calendar while talking on the phone. The next day—flip, and a whole clean slate! That’s also why I can’t use dry erase boards. Too much residual ink smear for one measly eraser to handle.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Lisa! Ooh, you can start up a night market in your area! 😉

        OK, I didn’t know Passion Planner was an actual thing and had to look it up just on the basis of its name. And I love crossing things off–that’s half the fun of my to-do list!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Despite my overuse of technology, I’m a Luddite at heart so anything important is on paper—either the wall calendar in my kitchen, my To Do list on my desk, and my wall-size dry erase calendar for writing deadlines and projects. When my kids were growing up they knew if it wasn’t on my calendar, it wasn’t going to happen. It’s funny to see how my habits did and didn’t rub off on them.

    I have every faith you’ll rise to the challenge of multiple series, Jen!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. My daughter is very much like me, very organized and a bit persnickety. We make phone appointments to talk, for example. OTOH, one of my sons—who shall remain nameless because HE KNOWS WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE DID—invited me for our annual Mothursday breakfast, and then stood me up. “Slept through his alarm,” or so he says. Pfft. My other son remembered to pick me up when I flew to Baltimore, so that’s something, right?

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Sending proposal wishes, Jen! You’ll absolutely be able to juggle multiple series with the grace and prowess you always show!!

    We have a ridiculous amount of work management tools at my day job. I used to chafe against them as I was a back-of-the-napkin and Post-it scribbler for years. But I’ve come to appreciate these systems for easy updates and tracking. On the other hand, I still scribble in any paper that’s near, just in case….

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Funny you should mention post-its. My good friend just bought me an extra pack because she knows I am always flying through packs of them. She just didn’t want me running out. LOL! Plus I like the pretty colors and cool shapes.

      Liked by 3 people

  13. Jen, it’s always nerve-wracking to have something out on sub. Here’s hoping you have an offer (or multiple offers!) very soon! And you’ve already finished book 2 in the Night Market series — so of course you can handle another series!

    I put all my appointments on my phone calendar which is synched with my husband’s calendar, so he can remind me! I still also stuck post-it notes to my computer to help me remember important stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

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