Saturday, April 25, 2015

Liz Mugavero — Deadlines, Day Jobs, and "Book Jail"

 SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Please welcome Agatha-nominated author Liz Mugavero — her latest Pawsitively Organic Mystery is The Icing on the Corpse. She also has two of the most adorable dogs, ever, as you will see when you read her post. Take it away, Liz!

Liz Mugavero: Ive become that reclusive writer. The one the neighbors regard curiously in those rare times when I do step out of the house in some strange outfit, hair gone awry, blinking like I havent seen the sun in months. Which, come to think of it, we havent here in the northeast until the past few days.

This has truly been a winter to forget. Never mind the godforsaken weather, Ive also been working on two back-to-back deadlines, celebrating the launch of my latest Pawsitively Organic Mystery, The Icing on the Corpse, working a full time corporate America job, doing freelance work, sitting on two boards and helping plan an event for another related committee. Along with family and taxes and leaky roofs and all the other everyday Things to Address.

Im not sure Ive been doing any of them particularly well.

Please note, I recognize how blessed I am to have these problems. They are truly in the category of good problems to have. Im successful at two careers and have found ways to give my time back to two excellent causes.

My weekdays look like this:

Get up.

Stumble to the coffee/tea bar. Make drink of choice.

Get a bleary-eyed half hour (hour if Im lucky) in at my personal computer.

Make a green smoothie in the Vitamix.

Get ready for work.

Drive 45 minutes to the office.

Spend eight hours looking at another computer, or sitting in meetings.

Drive 45 minutes home.

Eat dinner.

Sit in front of my personal computer until I fall asleep on top of it, hopefully not deleting the days work.

Weekends are a little different. For example, last weekend I spent 12 hours both days in front of the computer. I had a couple of breaks to throw the dogs a ball outside. (Theyve been enjoying the nicer weather, rolling in the grass, exploring the long-forgotten bare ground.) On Sunday, the neighbors came over to drop something off. I had barely showered when they showed up and had to answer the door with my hair wrapped in a towel at one in the afternoon, barely able to form a coherent sentence. When I did speak, I called someone by one of my characters names.

At this point, Im not fit for public consumption. My body feels like its slowly atrophying from lack of movement. I went outside at lunch the other day while I was at my day job office. Fresh air and sun made me feel a bit vampirish. I have unrequited dreams of being in the car, sunroof open, enjoying the breeze and going (gasp!) somewhere fun. I long to pick up a set of barbells or do some kickboxing.

Someday. Someday.

Over at Wicked Cozy Authors, we call it book jailbut this has graduated to an alarming level of solitary confinement. The good news is, in exactly two weeks the locks are springing open, whether Im ready or not. Deadlines must be met. I HAVE TO leave this desk. I never want to look at another computer again. At least for a week, until I have to jump into the next book. I have to reintroduce myself to those around me, and remind the dogs that there is such a thing as a walk on the town green.

So Im wondering, is this just me? How do others handle multiple deadlines and major commitments, especially us multi-career authors? 

Would love tipsin the meantime, spring is here! Im going to at least open the window next to my prison so I can see the flowers blooming, watch the dogs play and smell some fresh air

Liz Mugavero is the author of the Agatha-nominated Pawsitively Organic Gourmet Pet Food Mysteries Kneading to Die, A Biscuit, A Casket, and The Icing on the Corpse. As you can imagine, her canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Salem State College and a Master of Arts in writing and publishing from Emerson College. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime New England, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’ Association. She lives in Connecticut. Find her at


Joan Emerson said...

Congratulations on your new book [which I am looking forward to reading] . . . .
After the winter we've had, I'm determined to enjoy the spring, too. My daffodils are blooming and there are buds on the lilacs. It doesn't get any better than that!

Edith Maxwell said...

You can do it, Liz. (She did make time to drive up to Massachusetts for our cozy mystery panel at the Newburyport Literary Festival this morning, and if that's what a vampire looks like, she's a gorgeous healthy-looking one!).

Liz Mugavero said...

Thank you, Joan! Enjoy the beautiful weather. And thank you, Edith - you are too sweet. xoxo

Margaret Turkevich said...

I've been writing fulltime all week, anticipating a weekend tackling the weeds in my garden, but it's raining today, again. Congratulations on recent accomplishments!

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Welcome, Liz and congratulations! I'm jealous of everyone's gardens — we have a condo with windowboxes....

I feel like I'm constantly in "book jail." My poor family! And then there was the time I was at the grocery store/trying to figure out a murder's plot twist and I didn't say hi to the neighbor who was trying to get my attention...

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Liz, I wondered how you were juggling all that!! If I had that schedule, I would simply go back to bed and refuse to come out.

Hopefully, this a short term crunch... Congrats on the new book and we wish you all the success you so richly deserve!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yup. It's a good problem--as I have said to Jonathan: The only thing worse than an impossible to-do list--is having an empty to-do list. RIght?

But the getting dressed thing is pretty funny. The fact that it has actually crossed my mind to think: "If I put a coat over this, the postoffice guy will never know I slept in it, right?"

And often my exercise consists of walking around the loop of hotel corridors.

But you know, counting blessings at eery moment. You can sleep another time.

Congratulations!! xoo

Kathy Reel said...

Liz, that's quite a daunting schedule you have, but you seem to be managing it, so kudos to you for the superb juggling act. I don't know that I'll ever understand the many authors that have full-time jobs outside of writing and deliver such amazing books. I've long suspected that Hank has a clone, but I have yet to prove it. I'm watching you, Hank. Hehehe!

Actually, even Reds authors who don't have additional careers outside of writing astound me with all the traveling for research, conventions, and book tours. When do you all write the books? Of course, I know that there is much time put into all the books because they are brilliant.

So, congratulations on the new book, Liz, and thanks for stopping by here today and sharing just how hard our authors work for us. Oh, and I have real scarf envy, seeing how beautifully arranged your scarf is in the picture.

Grandma Cootie said...

Lists, lists, and more lists, and reminders to self that yes, we are lucky to have such problems.

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Liz is traveling today (yes, on top of everything!) but will be checking in as much as possible — stay tuned!

Ellen K said...

The dog (currently just one) or dogs make me get out of the house twice a day. And the mailbox is outside at the bottom of the stoop, because when it was a mail slot in the door, cold air got in and the dog chewed up the mail. But I go outside in the current "uniform" (see yesterday's post) and yes, sometimes it has been slept in.

My adventure is going to the grocery store. And then cooking what I've bought. Otherwise I live on the computer.

Reine said...

Congratulations, Liz!

I use my computer-generated calendar the way I used to use my appointment book until a student scheduled our next session on a Palm Pilot. Those days long gone, I don't think I could get through the day without my Google calendar accessible on cell and iPad.

Left to relying on some inner sensibility, serendipity, and personal preference leaves me wondering what happened to the day at bed time.

Julia said...

Love the term "Book Jail" and I'm going to use it at every possible turn.

Just reading about your schedule makes me exhausted, Liz. But the books are always worth waiting for!

Liz Mugavero said...

You're all so kind and encouraging! Thanks so much for the cheering on - it makes me want to get back to the computer! (Oh wait, I never left it!)

Thanks to Susan and all the Reds for having me over today. I always have such a great time here. And Hank, yes - counting blessings always! xo to all of you!