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Fiction Groupie Archives

These are my writing posts from my former blog, spanning 2009-2012. To see new writing posts, click on the blog tab above. To see these archived post organized by topic, click "For Writers" above.

Entries in time management (5)


A Dangerous Side Effect of Becoming a Writer


So if you're reading this, it probably means you're a writer. And whether you are full-time or whenever-you-can-squeeze-it-in, published or taking steps in that direction, it seems many of us suffer from the same affliction once we decide to "get serious" about this writing thing.


We cut our reading time.

Sure, it's not intentional. We only have so much time and we want to grab every second we have to chase this dream. And that means writing, writing ,writing...and blogging and tweeting and facebooking and researching the craft and querying and building a brand and creating a website and ooh, a newsletter, and wow, Tumblr. And oh yeah, my spouse/family/children may want to see me every now and then without a laptop attached.

It's like Alice's rabbit hole. Things start swirling around and we get sucked in to being constantly busy. Making us forget what started us wanting to be writers in the first place...

Books. Reading. Getting lost in a story.

Case and point - My Reading Stats:
(I started writing again at the end of 2008.)
2009 - read 85 books
2010 - read 40 books
2011 - have read 26 so far

This obvious decline makes me sad. Something that used to be such an integral part of my life is becoming an afterthought. I literally have an entire bookcase of unread books staring at me.

And I know it's not just me. I hear the same story from other writers. And once you've got a contract and are working on a deadline, the problem gets even worse because now there is this expectation on you--one you can't fall short on.

And this doesn't just affect your entertainment/downtime in your life; it affects your writing. If all you do is pour out words and never refill the well with reading, you risk your creativity going dry.

New stories feed our muse. They challenge us. They expose us to new things, other types of voices, different styles. Imagine if a film director said he rarely gets time to watch movies. We'd look at him like he was nuts.

Reading helps you become a better writer. It makes you a happier, more balanced person. It reminds you why you spend so many hours typing away on that keyboard in the first place.


So I'm challenging myself to look hard at my schedule and find a pocket of time at least three days a week to read. An extra hour on Twitter may raise my Klout score, but an hour lost in a book will feed my soul.


And my reader soul feels downright anorexic right now.

So how about you? Do you find yourself cutting out your reading time more and more to do more "writerly" things? Do you find your creativity stalls if you stop reading for a while? How big is your TBR pile? 

“...a sexy, sizzling tale that is sure to have readers begging for more!" –Jo Davis, author of I SPY A DARK OBSESSION



CRASH INTO YOU is now available for pre-order!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|



Is Your Blog Fluffy? 5 Questions to Ask (and Contest Winners)


Fluffy friend

Photo by jinterwas

So last week I celebrated my two-year blogging anniversary (see winners to that contest at the bottom of this post.) That milestone along with my recent obsession with trying to figure out What READERS Want From an Author Blog and some anticipated tight writing deadlines next year has led me to do a lot of thinking about how to streamline my online time.


Right now I am blogging six days a week--three posts on this blog and three on the author blog. I love to blog and that's why I do it, but I also know it's a good way to suck up writing time before you know it. I get about 3.5 hours kid free writing time each morning and blogging usually takes up about 45min-1hr of that. So if I have any chance at increasing my writing output, I need to slim down the schedule and build in some flexibility.

I have a tendency to like structure and themes when it comes to blogging. It makes it easier to keep on track, but it also can start to make you feel a bit boxed in like--crap, I have to blog about THIS today because I have a theme for this day of the week.

And then many times with theme days (though not always) you end up with "fluff" posts--those posts that fill space and let you check off "blogged for the day" but don't really do much else. They don't resonate with your readers, they aren't particularly unique or different than anyone else who's blogging that day, and really when it comes down to it, are a a waste of time for everyone. This all hit me after reading this post: The Unproductive Writer's Guide to Success.

And this doesn't mean that all posts have to be long and serious. My Boyfriend of the Week theme posts on my author blog are fun, don't take a lot of time, and seem to be well-received. So I don't consider that fluff. (Plus, my editor says she likes them, so there.) ;)

But I really want to make sure that the posts I'm putting up are worth everyone's time, including mine. So I'm going to be more selective and also give myself some breathing room with what I'm calling my Flex Blogging Schedule.

So here's my new flex-y blogging schedule (for now):


  • Monday: Writing/Publishing Post (this blog)
  • Tuesday: Boyfriend of the Week (author blog)
  • Wednesday: open/flex day
  • Thursday: open/flex day
  • Friday: Fill-Me-In Friday/links roundup (this blog)
  • Saturday: open/flex day

So on those open days, I'll post if I have something worth saying and if I have the time to do it. If it's a writing post, it will be on this blog. If it's something broader or more personal, it will go on the author blog.


Of course, this is all experimental, so subject to change at anytime. :)

And here's how I'm going to determine if a post is fluffy or not.

Five Questions To Ask To Determine If You're Posting Fluff

1. Does this post add anything unique to the blogosphere? 
2. Does this post provide my blog readers with something (whether it be usable advice, interesting information, or a fun experience)? 
3. Did I feel excited writing this post or did it feel like I was dialing it in? 
 4. Is this post true to my voice? 
5. Does this post engage readers in discussion? (may have to be something to evaluate after the post)

Okay and before I forget, let me get to the contest winners. Thanks so much to everyone who entered and welcome to those of you who may be new to the blog!


Let's all congratulate these lucky winners!



  • Taryn Elliot - Writing Craft package
  • Carrie Butler - Paranormal romance 
  • Karen Taveres - erotic romance 
  • Natalie Ham - TEMPEST arc 
  • Jami Gold - Historical Romance 
  • Febe Moss - Contemporary Romance 
  • Jessica Anne - Historical Fiction 
  • Julie Glover - Historical Fiction 
  • Natasha Hanova - YA Package 

I will email the winners some time this week to get your addresses so that I can send you your prizes! :)


Alright, so am I the only one reevaluating my blog these days? What do you love to see on other blogs? What do you consider "fluff" posts? How do you feel about theme days (reading them and posting for them)? Which of your posts get the most reader interaction?

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|


Crit Groups: Godsend or Time Suck?

A few weeks ago, my crit partner Lynnette did a post about advice a published author gave her.  I encourage you to read her post, but in a nutshell, this author friend asked her what was holding her back from finishing her book.  And she said time.  Like all of us, she has a lot on her plate.  Here's what her friend told her:
My author friend advised me to quit the crit group and focus on finishing my novel. He felt writers only need critique groups for validation or they get stuck in the land of perfectionism and never get anywhere with their writing.
Now, lucky for me, Lynnette didn't heed this advice and is sticking with the group because she feels the time put in is worth the gain.  But it is an interesting debate to ponder.

Personally, joining a crit group was one of the best things I did for my writing.  I definitely don't have a group of lemmings.  Sure they dole out smiley faces and lols, but they aren't afraid to give me an ass-kicking either.  IMO, it's impossible to see your own work objectively after being in it so long, so other eyes have been invaluable.  I think it's no coincidence that after I joined my group, my writing started finaling in contests.

However, I won't pretend that it doesn't take away time from my own writing.  When I'm in the drafting phase, it's really hard for me to put my story on the side to jump into someone else's with a critical eye.

If I could create a perfect scenario, I would set it up so that while I was drafting I stepped out of the group and concentrated on my story.  Then , when I had a complete draft, step back in and start exchanging crits.  (Unlike some, I work best with receiving crits after the story is done then getting them along the way.  Getting crits while I'm still writing the story muddies my thoughts a bit and can seize up my pantsing brain.)  But it's not fair to do the step in/step out thing because we're not all drafting at the same time.

So I make time for it because I think it's important and value those ladies' opinions tremendously.

But I'm really curious to hear your opinions.  Are you in a crit group or have beta readers?  Do you think what you get from it is worth the amount of time and energy you put into it?  And what do you think of Lynnette's friend's opinion--that crit groups are just there for validation and to make you obsessive about your work?

**Today's Theme Song**
"Somebody Told Me" - The Killers
(player in sidebar, take a listen)


Finding Writing Time


This morning I'm going to be out touring a daycare for my son.  We're considering putting him in two days a week so he can chill with kiddos his own age instead of boring old mommy all the time.  Plus, I wouldn't be too upset about having a quiet house a few hours a week.  Now that he's skipping more naps than he takes, I'm struggling to find writing time.  And don't even get me started on how backed up I am on house work.  But the price and the situation will have to be right, so we'll see.


So for today's blog post, just a simple question: 

How do you find time to write?  

I know many of you have full time jobs or have full time kidlets like me (or both!), so I'd love to know how you squeeze in your writing time.


And just an update, the response to the Fiction Groupie Crit Project has been awesome!  We have dates booked into April already.  So huge thanks to the volunteers.  If you're interested in getting something critted, I'm still taking submissions.  Just be aware that it may be a little while before yours goes up since I'm only going to be doing these on Tuesdays and Thursdays for now.

Alright, hope everyone has a lovely weekend!


**Today's Theme Song**
"Time Is On My Side" - The Rolling Stones
(player in sidebar--go ahead, take a listen)


cartoon credit:


Streamlined Social Networking


We know we're supposed to be connected, right?  Yesterday we talked about having a website in addition to a blog.  And I bet many of you were thinking--wow, another thing to keep track of.  I know that thought has crossed my mind on more than on occasion.  So today I thought I'd share a few of the things that are helping me streamline my online commitments.


First is Google Reader.  I know many of you are probably already using this, but just in case you aren't, I thought I'd mention  it.  Up until a month or so ago, I stuck to using blogger's dashboard to go through my blog roll.  But as my followers increased, the number of blogs I followed also increased.  I'm now following about 300, which is a bit overwhelming.  This means that if I stick to using the dashboard, I only really hit the blogs that happen to be in my viewing window and catch my eye.  Obviously, that means I miss a lot of the ones that I would really like to read daily just because they are not right in front of me.

So, I have started using Google Reader (there is a link to it in the bottom right on your dashboard screen).  This allows me to sort blogs into folders.  Therefore, I now have folders for the following:

Daily Must Reads 
Industry Blogs (agents, publishers, etc.)
Book Review Blogs
Other (ones that I'll hit if I have time or if the topic catches my interest)

This has helped me a lot so far.  Organization is good.  :)  The only drawback is that in order to comment (or see others comments) on the blog, you do have to click over to the blog itself.


Alright, my next tool, which I have to give a shout out to Natalie Bahm for recommending to me a while back is TweetDeck.  Tweetdeck is a tool that allows you to follow your twitter account (both your friends tweets and any @ mentions you receive), your Facebook, and your Myspace all in one handy dandy screen!  It also allows you to update all these through the same interface without having to go to each individual site.  So you can change your status on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace all in one click.  How awesome is that?  Here's what it looks like:


It's very easy to download and set up.  I highly recommend it.  It's made everything so much easier to stay on top of.


Alright, those are my tips for the day.  What are some of your tips?  What do you do to keep on top of these things while still finding time to write?


**Today's Theme Song**
"(Can't Get My) Head Around You" - The Offspring
(player in sidebar--go ahead, take a listen)