The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly of Deadlines

For the next couple of weeks, I have fellow author from The Wild Rose Press, susan picSydney St. Clair visiting and talking about that dreaded part of author’s lives:  deadlines!

Sydney St. Claire is the pseudonym of Susan Edwards, author of 14 Historical Native American/Western/Paranormal romances and the author of the popular “White” Series.

Sydney loves writing and sharing stories of love, happiness and dreams come true with her readers. She credits her mother for her writing success. Encouraged to read as a child, she always preferred happy endings which meant romances were her favorite genre. Sydney takes her readers into the world of erotica romance where her characters come together in explosive passion as they solve life’s problems and find true love along with the best sex our hero and heroine have ever experienced.

Sydney’s office is quite crowded with three dogs at her feet and five cats to keep her company while she writes. Three cats always insist on beds on her desk, barely leaving enough room for her monitor and keyboard. Life gets fun when all five insist on supervising…

When not writing, she enjoys crafts of all sorts including quilting, sewing, cross-stitch and knitting. She and her husband of 30 + years are avid gardeners. He takes care of the veggies, and Susan is in charge of the ‘pretties’. Her medicine wheel garden is in a contact state of war: flowers vs. weeds. Sadly, right now the weeds are wining…

While writing, she listens to a wide variety of music. Her current favorites are Blackmore’s Night and David Lanz.

The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly of Deadlines

By Susan Edwards, writing as Susan Edwards & Sydney St. Claire

Definition of Deadline: the latest time for finishing something as copy for a publication. A line or limit that must not be passed.

Deadlines have been part of my life for more years than I care to count. As much as writers hate them, they are also our friends. I’ve had some downtime in my career when my publisher went out of business and when life took some unexpected turns, and I speak from experience when I say that having a deadline makes a writer, at least this writer much more productive.

No deadline means I meander and play around. No deadline means there’s no one holding me accountable. No deadline means no writing income. Or no new writing income.

The 5 P’s of Why You Should Set Deadlines


heartbookIf you are writing with the intent to sell, you’ll eventually have to meet deadlines so you might as well get used to it now. Spend the time now to learn the ins and outs of writing on deadline. How do you handle the pressure—self-imposed and how does it affect your writing? The time to find out is before you find yourself on deadline! What you know now about yourself won’t surprise you or send you into a panic later. If you absolutely cannot write a book in less than a year, then you certainly don’t want to agree to a six-month contract. The only way to know is to keep track now and learn what you can and cannot do.

One thing I learned once I was contracted, and facing deadlines was that I could not continue to be a leisurely writer. I couldn’t keep polishing as I went. I was forced to forge ahead and ignore some issues, though I’m the type of writer that if there is something wrong, it’s difficult for me to move forward. The discovery of Power Writing has help immensely. I can be fast and productive as well as efficient.

Being on deadline also meant I couldn’t spend lots of time perfecting character sheets, fancy plot charts etc. which was something I did and told myself it all had to be perfect but in reality, it was an excuse not to write and move forward.

Now, I allow myself a certain amount of time to plan and plot. Once I start writing, the deadline clock starts ticking and there’s no luxury of playing around and procrastinating. These days, with one deadline following hard on the heels of another, I’m lucky if I have a character sheet with their names on it! And plot charts? What are those? They are fond memories. Truthfully, as I write in computerScrivener, I type out what I need to know in the file, just the bare facts and information I need to write the book.

I have to say, after writing for 27 years, published for 19, deadlines forced my growth as a writer. The first book took me three years to write, four to revise and rewrite. The second book probably only took a couple years, maybe three total as I started it before I sold, and it was my option book once I did sell book one. But the third book I probably had less than a year—maybe eight months to write as I was officially on my first deadline with book three. And one of those early books, I was asked to turn in three months early in order to get an earlier publication date and on a faster track. Did I agree? Oh yeah!

If you are not published, get used to deadlines now. You can’t avoid them later.


Setting and meeting deadlines is a measure of your progress. If you don’t set a goal, you won’t achieve your full potential. Deadlines keep you on track. Yes, you may fall behind but with a deadline, you won’t stray for long. When you meet your self-imposed deadlines, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.

More work done = More projects ready to send out

More projects sent out = More opportunities to sell and get your name out there


Writing is a business and like all businesses, the goal is to make money. That means being both productive and efficient.

It’s fine to say you’re a creative individual, but that’s not going to get you ahead in this brutal industry. Successful authors are creative, but they also wear their business hats and realize that in order to get ahead, they have to treat their writing as a business. And that means progress.

And if you are published, those deadlines are your roadmap to success. I do know authors who don’t do deadlines as they don’t want to ruin their creativity. They prefer to turn in complete manuscripts, but they don’t realize their careers lose momentum. In order to make money, you need books in all stages of production—advance money (Unless doing E-books or small publishers), royalties of new books out, and royalties of books already out. It’s a chain and if you break one link, your business slows.

The only way to keep the wheels of your career moving is to be productive, and unless you set deadlines, you won’t be nearly as productive.


old typewriterYou want to be published. Act now like the professional you want to be. You might not have an editor to answer to, but show yourself some respect. A deadline, and meeting said deadline, is a way to show –respect yourself, and your writing.

If you are published, meeting your deadlines means you are professional and respectful of your editor and publishing house. They have schedules, and there are others who depend on your editor to meet her deadlines, so they can meet theirs.

Everyone has deadlines. Everyone wants you to succeed. Most of all, you want you to succeed so set and keep those pesky deadlines.

There’s another aspect to deadlines, whether published or not. A deadline and the intention to meet that deadline, shows your family and friends that you are serious. If you don’t take yourself or your career seriously, no one else will.


With a deadline, you can’t wait for the muse to hit.

With a deadline, you can’t wait for a nice clear block of time to write.

With a deadline, you are in charge of your writing, instead of waiting for Opportunity to drop into your lap.

How To Set A Deadline

Set A Reasonable Deadline

Give yourself some “fudge” time in case life rears its ugly heat. There are always personal emergencies, family drama, illness, etc. You know your life, decide if you need a couple extra weeks, a month or two. If you don’t need that extra time? Wow, you can turn in the book early, or start the next one and be ahead of schedule. Trust me, the time will come when something will eat up some of your deadline time. And if you are early, you look even more professional!

Take Into Account Any Research You Need To Do

Know what you need to research and how easy it is to gather research material. In the “old” days before internet, it could take months to get an out of print book or find books through libraries. If you need time for interviews, visiting places, add that time into your deadline as those are days you will not be writing.

Plan How You Are Going To Achieve Your Goal

You can’t plan a deadline without knowing how many pages, word count, etc. you do each day or week. How do you plan to track your progress?

Pages per day? Words per day? How many days a week do you write? How many hours a day? I employ a word count per day. I know how many hours per day minimum, and what days I won’t be writing based on my schedule (example: 1 play day a week with friends). I use excel and track the days and words per day and I also have a column for my word goal count. If I allow myself 30 days, I plan it out, taking my play days and weekend days into account, and the days I know I can really power through writing. Without a plan or at least an understanding of what you can or typically achieve, you can’t set a realistic goal and hope to meet that deadline.

Sit Down And Start Writingmulti

Aim for those word/page count goals. Don’t beat yourself up if you get behind. Adjust your schedule, work in more time, and strive to catch up. Now is the time to learn how to be productive.

Susan/Sydney returns on Oct. 24 for part 2 of The Good, The Bad, & the Ugly of Deadlines


You can find Sydney via these links:








Wild Rose Press:

Her latest book is now available!  Here’s the lowdown:

Wealthy computer genius Graham Winters is in love with a woman who won’t join him for a stingy cup of coffee. How can he prove he’s nothing like her jerk of an ex if she won’t give him a chance? Then he spots her at a BDSM club and devises a plan. During the day, he’s “that damn geek.” At night, he’s the masked Dom known as The Wolf.

When it comes to her love life, Lucy Sanchez has one rule—no geeks. Not even rich, good looking geeks. She’s attracted to Graham but rules are rules. Besides, she has her wolf, the mysterious Dom who makes her blood sing. Then she’s invited to a fairytale event at Pleasure Manor and this Little Red Riding Hood plans to enjoy every delicious moment with her big, bad Dom.

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“I’m taking you to dinner tonight. In the city.” He sat on her desk, which she now found endearing rather than annoying.

She set her purse into an empty cabinet and lifted a brow. “You’re telling me?”

He shrugged. “If I ask, you’ll say no.”

“I have plans.” With The Wolf.

He tipped her chin up. “Cancel them.” His lips brushed hers, then he deepened the kiss.

Lucy’s insides clenched at the feel of his warm mouth against hers and the taste of coffee with a hint of caramel, his favorite kind. She closed her eyes, her lips moving with his. His tongue dipped into her mouth, and she moaned, leaning into him.

Then he broke the kiss and walked away.

Lucy gaped at him. Her insides melted. Damn. She was attracted to her geek. Very attracted. Too bad he wasn’t her wolf. Now, if Graham were as good as her wolf in bed, she’d have found the perfect man.

She sighed. Yep, too bad. So what now? Two dates, two men equaled complications.

Her lips turned downward tightly as she got to work. She loved her wolf-lover, but their relationship was not completely satisfying or fulfilling. Not rounded and balanced. Graham, on the other hand, was open. She knew who he was, shared many common interests, and most of all, Graham didn’t have any secrets. What she saw was what she got with him. In a way, she preferred that to the mysterious and secretive.

“All right,” she said.

Graham glanced up, his eyes unfocused. “Huh?”

Realizing three hours had passed, and he was totally immersed in Geekland, Lucy wadded up a sheet of paper and tossed it at him. “Come back to earth, Graham. Dinner. Date. You. Me.”

His eyes cleared, and a huge grin lit his entire face. His blue eyes shone with pleasure. “Great.”

His smile slipped into a frown when she stretched her arms and back. “You tired? Need to stop?”

“Yeah, need to cancel my plans for tonight and stretch my legs. Want to walk outside with me?” His grounds were beautiful. Calm and restful with formal groupings, waterfalls, and a small forest that reminded her of the woods surrounding Bryce’s mansion, the woods where she and her wolf had played and strolled. She shook off the memories.

“Give me ten. You can go explore the house if you want. I forgot to give you the tour.” He grinned. “My bedroom is up the stairs, straight ahead.”

Lucy had been dying to see the rest of the house, and yes, that included the man’s bedroom, but she rolled her eyes for good form. Didn’t want him to know how eager she’d been to see the upstairs. “Okay. Twisted my arm.”


The photos used in this article are in the public domain from

Cunning Inspiration: Dearest Darling and The Cunningham Cabin

20131018_155648Nothing takes my breath away quite so much as the landscape of northwestern Wyoming. If I say it leaves me speechless, you will understand how very difficult it is for me to relate the love affair I have with this small section of our vast country, how I feel no dictionary is complete enough to supply words to describe this patch of land where the earth has struggled like an indecisive artist to create high plains that stretch themselves into the harsh, jagged peaks of the Tetons. One can only feel reverence, one can only feel a minute speck in the vast panorama; it makes you realize how tiny and inconsequential you are in the scheme of things. So now, imagine how envious I am of those who are lucky enough to live there year-round compared to my two, comparatively brief stays each year. Then you can realize both the awe in which I hold those who homesteaded this unforgiving country and the jealousy I feel that they were able to live here. This is a land that gives you a sense of history, a sense of destiny. It is a geography of hope, forged by nature and hard won by man.

One of the men who would put his mark on this country was J. Pierce Cunningham. A fellow New Yorker, he arrived in the Jackson Hole area of the Tetons around 1885, aged about twenty. A few years later, he and his wife staked DSCN1349a claim under the Homestead Act, and thereby laid the foundations for what would become the Bar Flying U Ranch. The cabin they built, which under the Act had to be at least 12 x 12, was what is commonly known as a dogtrot or double-pen cabin, encompassing two separate rooms with a dogtrot or breezeway in-between. Although a more substantial home was eventually built, along with sheds, barns and other outbuildings, it is the original cabin that still stands today.

When I first visited Cunningham’s cabin I was immediately struck by the isolation of this remote location, how lonely it must have been in the 1880s. Although more than four hundred claims were filed in Jackson Hole in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the vastness of the valley meant there could be little interaction, especially during the harsh winter months. And this was a hardscrabble life; rocky soil led to high operating costs as ranchers struggled to feed their cattle during the long winter. The horrendous winter of 1886/87, as I described in my book Loveland, put an end to much of the open range ranching.DSCN1348

One might think, why do it then? I can only answer for myself as to what I feel when I stand there, surrounded by a landscape so startling, so inspiring, you feel purified, whole, inconsequential and ephemeral. Not having been born there, I cannot fathom my own attachment to this place, why I feel the oft-repeated need to return there, but it somehow cleanses me, clears my head. It was obvious that I somehow had to employ this site as the backdrop for a book. You might think it a poor reckoning, to use a setting so magnificent in my modest western historical romance.   After all, I could not possibly do it justice.

The view from Cunningham's cabin

The view from Cunningham’s cabin

But I have tried…

Dearest Darling comes out Oct. 8th from The Wild Rose Press.  To celebrate, I’ll be giving out copies of both this new novella and my full-length novel, Loveland, to up to 5 people who leave a comment.  The winners are Liz Flaherty, Eunice Boeve, Roni McFadden, Susan J. Tweit, and Rolynn Anderson.  Congrats to all and I hope you enjoy the books.

DearestDarling_w8647_750Stuck in a life of servitude to her penny-pinching brother, Emily Darling longs for a more exciting existence. When a packet with travel tickets, meant for one Ethel Darton, accidentally lands on her doormat, Emily sees a chance for escape. Having turned down the dreary suitors that have come her way, is it possible a new existence also offers a different kind of man?

Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.

But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.


Emily liked the sound of his voice, low but not husky, a slight twang he had cultivated, but not pretentiously so. When he spoke, she envisaged melting caramel, something delicious, the way it could be so appealing as she stirred, with a shine and slow drip from the spoon, before it gradually solidified. Soothing. A liquid velvet.

But he hadn’t spoken today. Not since first thing when he’d told her to get ready. Not through breakfast, or as he helped clear dishes, or gave her a hand up into the wagon.

“You haven’t seen her. You didn’t see her picture, did you?” The questions came sudden, yet without malice.

Emily straightened, alert. “No. No, I didn’t.” Would I understand better? Is that what he meant?

“I keep it with me.” Daniel began to fish in his pocket. “Would you like to see it?”

“No. No, you keep it, please. It won’t change anything.” Emily panicked. She would be beautiful, the other, that would be the answer. So stunningly beautiful that just her photograph had enthralled him, mesmerized him into loving her. Emily couldn’t bear to look, didn’t want to know the answer. Didn’t wish to torture herself further. “And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for reading the letters.” A rush of words, they flowed out of her. “I should never have done that. It’s not like me. But you…well, you understand it seems—”

“You’re probably wondering what I see in her. Or what she sees in me. As for that, what she sees in me, I have no idea. Maybe, like you, she wishes to get away.”

Emily studied his profile, the planes and contours of his face, the eyes set straight ahead, the slouch hat low on his brow. He gave nothing away, was a man in control of his emotions, thinking, maybe still wondering how he had won that woman. Or maybe set on keeping the answer to himself.

Overhead, clouds scudded, scoured the sky, leached the blue, threatened.

“Did you ever ask her? Why you?”

“I did. She never answered. I’m thinking what she sees in me is husband material. I guess. She tells me about her day, the people she knows, what she does. As you read.”

“She just seems so…so outgoing, so…so very social to ever want this life. I found it difficult to believe.” She jutted her chin out, then turned to him, waiting.

He gave the reins a sharp shake. “I don’t know. I never asked if she knew what she was getting into. I described it. I assumed if she wanted to stop the correspondence there, she would have. I was pretty damn amazed and happy she’d wanted to come, written back even though I described the cabin to her, the isolation.” His gaze slid toward her.

“And you think she’ll make you a perfect wife, do you? Be happy living here? Cook your meals, mend your clothes, keep your cabin, have your babies?” Exasperated, she tried to make him think, think of what he was letting himself in for, how long a marriage like that could go on, how it could end up being even lonelier than he was now. Emily would seem to him to be trying to win him over rather than making him see the truth, but push him she must, save him, stop him. She knew those sorts of women, the debutantes, the socialites. Not a one would last out here, not for a single day.

His head snapped around to stare at her. “She’s been writing. She hasn’t stopped.”20131018_155503

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Riches to Rags: The Men Who Found Gold

1849 poster ad for ship to California Gold Rush

1849 poster ad for ship to California Gold Rush

Anyone who has ever studied history of the United States will associate the words, ‘Sutter’s Mill,’   in connection with the California Gold Rush of 1849.   They may know John Sutter as owner of that mill, and they may even know that it was James W. Marshall, Sutter’s foreman at the mill, who made the actual discovery of gold. After that, most history books go off into the gold rush itself, and its effect on the expansion of the United States, and the development of California in particular. Sutter and Marshall, now as then, get pushed aside.   Continue reading

Before They’re Gone–The Work of George Catlin

George-Catlin-frontispiece-200There are many artists known for their paintings of the West, but the one whose work enthralls me the most is George Catlin.  Working somewhat in the ‘naive’  style, Catlin’s life work was to capture the American Indian before they vanished, and this he did:  his subjects came from over fifty nations. Continue reading


Map in my possession showing the village on its 300th anniversary, 1948

Map in my possession showing the village on its 300th anniversary, 1948

It’s a source of some amusement to me that John Howard Payne, lyricist of the immortal ‘Home Sweet Home’ (“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home…”) spent his youth in East Hampton. In fact, the small colonial residence of his grandfather, where he lived, is now a museum, sitting on Main St. amongst a line of colonial and Victorian properties. But East Hampton is hardly known for its history. Programs such as ‘Royal Pains’ and ‘Revenge’ as well as a plethora of films, including ‘Something’s Gotta Give,’ continue to perpetuate the image of ‘The Hamptons’ as the enclave of the rich and famous. That’s hardly true of the entire population! And it certainly wasn’t always true… Continue reading

A Question of Bounty

Back in October 2012, Paul Colt visited this blog with a post about Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.  Paul’s latest book, A Question of Bounty:  The Shadow of Doubt is published this month by Five Star.  Here he takes a second look at the death of Billy the Kid.


Paul Colt

Paul Colt

Two years ago Andi gave me the opportunity to share one of my favorite historical controversies. Pat Garrett claims he killed Billy the Kid, July 14, 1881. John Poe, Garrett’s deputy on the scene that night—and others—question Garrett’s claim. They suggest he killed the wrong man and covered it up. Continue reading

Romancing the Vaquero

Anne croppedAnne Schroeder writes about the West in short stories, essays and two memoirs, Ordinary Aphrodite and Branches on the Conejo. Cholama Moon is her first published novel. The second novel in the series, Maria Ines, will be released later in 2014, both by Oak Tree Press. Continue reading

The Role of Newspapers in Kansas Territory

I felt an immediate affinity for my guest this month, Linda S. Johnston.Pub photo 2 copy  Not only are we the eastern stronghold of Women Writing the West, but we have both lived in Great Britain and have both moved house an inordinate amount of times. While I beat Linda in years spent in the U.K., she certainly outdoes me in moves—more than fifteen, including places as diverse as Margate,  England; Seattle, Continue reading

Springtime in the Rockies & the Oysters are Here!


Thanks so much to everyone who joined in.  The winner of the free digital copy of LOVELAND is Kathy O!

Continue reading

They Don’t Drive Pickups in New York

photo-4I was leafing through Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly of April, 1892, in the hope of finding some material with which to greet the (hopefully) coming spring when I happened upon a romantic story entitled, ‘The Owner of LT Ranch.’ Continue reading