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How NOT to Write a Book

T. Jensen Lacey - Sunday, February 17, 2019

Hello, readers,

 I just posted the blog about the death of a writer-friend. There's no time like the present, so here goes with my long-promised blog!

Nearly four years ago, I began research on a book in my "Lacey's Amazing America" series. This one would be AMAZING ALABAMA, and would (somewhat) follow the template of AMAZING NORTH CAROLINA, TEXAS and TENNESSEE. Most of my life I've spent in the Yellowhammer State (Alabama), and since I'm living in Fairhope, Alabama, I thought, "It's past time."

Back in October of 2017, I began writing AMAZING ALABAMA, then realized the state's 200th anniversary of becoming a state (their Bicentennial) would be in 2019. I thought I'd better step up the pace so the book could come out in early 2019, so my sales could ride the crest of interest during the bicentennial year.

Here's how NOT to write a book: allow yourself to become distracted by a MYRIAD (great number of) things. Oops, can't write, I need to go fill the birdbath. Or, I'd better rake the front yard. OR give the dogs a bath. OR dust the living room. OR take the boat out for a spin on the bay. OR go pig-hunting with my family.

You get the idea. That is just a short list of all the things I needed to avoid to not allow such distractions.

So here's how I avoided getting caught in those pitfalls: I made a word budget of the number of words I would need to have the book finished. I then divided by the number of weeks between start and the target finish date. That came to roughly 2,000 words a week. If I had those words in the file before Saturday, then the weekend was mine to enjoy (and do the list above). If not--backside was in the chair and my fingers were on the keyboard until I had those words down.

It worked (and it will work for you, too!). By the time my target "finish" date arrived, I had more than 102,000 words (I had planned on roughly 70,000 words). SO I spent the next 2-3 weeks cutting down the manuscript to where I had 88,000 words (reason being, if your manuscript is too large, it puts the book into a higher-priced category on Amazon, and I wanted to make it affordable). the book, AMAZING ALABAMA: THE BICENTENNIAL EDITION is officially out (as of mid-January 2019). I hired a publicist (Sarah Jones), and she talked it up to some "movers and shakers" in Alabama. Governor Kay Ivey wrote the Foreword for me, and just this past Thursday (Valentine's Day), the Alabama Bicentennial Commission endorsed the book! This means that every book-signing, reading and speaking engagement I have will be advertised on their website--for FREE. Also, on the website, the book was listed yesterday as "The Top Ten Must-Reads for Alabama's Bicentennial." These were both pleasant surprises for me!

A teacher friend of mine commented casually that she "wished SHE had time to write." Dear reader, no one "has time": you MUST make time to write.This book represents three years worth of research and 15 months of writing, traveling, researching, interviewing, photographing, and rewriting. I wrote through power outages, a government shutdown (which prevented me from obtaining a historical photograph for the book), hurricanes, tornado warnings, family illnesses, and a slew of self-doubts that I could get it done and on time.

So if you doubt yourself and your talents, then you're a writer. BUT keep writing. And let me know how you're doing! BTW please go on Amazon and buy AMAZING ALABAMA: THE BICENTENNIAL EDITION, and post a review. I'd love to see what you have to say about the book.



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