Tag Archive for productivity

Last Night, This Happened

Last night I lit up a cigar and made one last push to complete the latest draft of Lie with the Dead. Five minutes after I tossed the stub of that cigar, I posted the following to Twitter:

It felt great to get that off my plate for at least a while longer. My editor will comb through it one more time, then I’ll have a final run-through, and then it’s just proofreading and prep for publication. I do not have a time frame on that, but of course I will continue to keep you updated.

For the new readers out there, Lie with the Dead is the next book in the The Pack series, a sequel to Winter Kill. If you haven’t read Winter Kill, I recommend downloading “Bravo Four” for the low low price of 99 cents. “Bravo Four” is a short story, and it also includes an extended preview of Winter Kill.

In the meantime, there is no rest for the wicked. I’ve got another writing gig cooking, I need to write a column by month’s end, another short story, and if I can swing it, I’ve got yet one more short story due by August 1st.

It’s been a good summer for the Exit Strategy.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

A Productive Fourth

All fingers accounted for? Check. Both eyes accounted for? Check. Balls still attached? Check. House hasn’t burned down? Check. Excellent. Any 4th where everything survives is a good one, especially with neighbors setting off their own fireworks in the field behind us.

I had the day off at the day job, but I still had work to do. I wrote the last of the ancillary materials to go with “Bravo Four”, the short story I posted a cover for on Monday. I also wrote a column by invitation for a webzine, and if it’s approved I imagine it will go up soon. It felt good to be able to spend a significant chunk of the day at the keyboard.

Not that I didn’t get out and witness some Americana. Check out this Harley-Davidson:

Copper Harley

Copper-colored Harley. Gorgeous paint scheme.

If memory serves, this is an anniversary edition paint scheme, and a friend of mine has a die-cast model of the same bike with the same colors. He almost purchased the bike itself, but concerns of safety and family prevailed and he purchased a boat instead. Too cool to see the same bike out in the wild.

We saw the local fireworks display last night, and this afternoon we saw the flags posted all around the streets in neighboring communities and did a little light grocery and gas shopping like the good little consumers we are. I even managed to squeeze the day’s weight lifting in between reviewing the publication master for “Bravo Four”. All in all I’d have to call it a good day, and it felt especially good to be productive at the keyboard.

Tomorrow it’s back to the day gig. Given it’s the middle of the year, it will also be a good time to revisit the Exit Strategy.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Healing Up

Yesterday I had my face ripped apart:

Now I talk like the Godfather

I got to do my Godfather impression for a while

I had my two bottom wisdom teeth extracted. Everything went fine, and though I’m pretty sure I woke up for a second or two and saw the doctor with his hands in my mouth, I didn’t go Total Recall on them and start kicking their asses.

Recovery has been going well. I ditched the narcotic pain meds this morning, and ate solid food for lunch and supper. One of the benefits of being (mostly) healthy is I had no after effects from the anesthetic or the surgery beyond the pain and swelling, and things have gone well.

I took an extra day off work to rest and heal, but that didn’t stop my co-workers from pestering me. I spent the day at the keyboard anyway, which is good, but didn’t make as much progress as I’d hoped. I’ll take it, though. Need to keep on rolling, keep punching those keys. I revisited my Exit Strategy and saw I’m not as far behind as I feared, but I’ve got a workload ahead of me that I need to keep chipping away at.

Onward and upward.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Sweating the Small Stuff

You know what? There’s not a damned thing to see here.

Here, check out this cool old Harley I spotted in a parking lot the other day:

Classic Bike

Check out that crazy seat!

Ooh, shiny.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Pardon the Dust

I lost today to retooling the back end of this website, so this post is equal parts testing and an update. I’ve been limping along with an earlier version of WordPress because of some headaches with my hosting provider, and I finally found some solutions. I had hoped to overhaul the entire site while I was at it, but some snags meant I didn’t have that kind of time. It’ll have to wait until at least after I finish book 2 of The Pack.

Because let’s face it, which is more important: the book or the website I need to pimp it on? If today’s monkeying weren’t a necessary evil, I’d feel a lot more guilt over it. Instead I’m just irritated.

I still need to replace the main links to the Pack books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but you’ll find them in the links on the far right column for now. You’ll see I’ve also added direct links to my Amazon author page and my Goodreads page for those of you into that sort of thing.

Enjoy.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Get Thee Behind Me, Summer

I’m glad this summer is finally coming to an end.

With teachers and students returning to my workplace soon, maybe I’ll be able to return to some semblance of routine. While I haven’t overextended myself intentionally, a number of things conspired to take care of that for me, not least of which being the Great Heart Scare these last few weeks.

The good news on that front is the stress test, EKG, and nuclear camera pics of my pump show all is well. The bad news is now people are telling me it could be inflammation, an aortal aneurism, a defective gall bladder, torn cartilage and/or a pulled muscle, a pinched nerve, or a hiatal hernia. So yeah, comforting.

Fortunately I don’t yet write for a living because it’s put a strain on both my creativity and my time to create. I’ve been throwing myself at the day job instead.

This weekend i decided I’m done sweating it. I have too much to do. And thanks to that new mindset, a new direction for The Pack reared it’s head, a way to accelerate to the meat of the characters’ stories in Book 2 that the editor and I both dig and I think you all will enjoy.

It’s time to get excited about writing again, not sweat what my body may or may not be doing and the stacks of green paper the hospital is going to be looking for. Hell, it’s even been way too easy to forget about my camera the last few weeks, after things had been going so well for Photo Fridays.

In this same regrouping, I’ve decided I’m going to suck it up and dump the oldest blog posts. I’ve got stuff going back almost a decade, but all it seems to do is attract spam comments. I thought it would be neat to keep that archive visible, but let’s be honest: there’s nothing particularly interesting back there. I’ll stash it away for possible future use, but for now it’s going to come off the web.

I’ll spending a part of the day on a motorcycle, and I’m going to use that quiet time to cogitate on creative activity, not stress. I want to be in the right mindset for Friday, when my Evileye Books editor and I will be making a road trip to visit Cullen Bunn and talk more creativity and business planning. That’s sure to be a good time, too.

More later.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Slacking is Easier Than Ever

My productivity is shit.

Nothing rubs that in like some of the profiles Duane Swierczynski ran on his Secret Dead Blog under the header Legends of the Underwood. Richard Bachman (Stephen King), Richard Matheson, Gil Brewer… these guys wrote novels in three days.

On typewriters.

Now that’s dedication to the craft. Here I am with an $1800 laptop, fancy word-processing software, and a laser printer, and I haven’t produced a complete novel in three years. A comic script and a novella or two, sure, but not a novel.

I’ve been sitting here trimming the DVR list, figuring out which programs I can do without. Meanwhile, these guys probably never turned on the TV. They put their asses in the chair and put their fingers on the keyboard. Clickety-clickety-clickety for hours on end, take a nap, repeat.

At least now I’ve got work due. I signed two contracts this week, which means there’s people expecting work. It means if I lock myself in my office, I’m not wasting time anymore. It’s something.

Is it enough?

Time will tell.

At least I know artists are in the same boat: Jack Kirby practically had his pencil grafted to his hand. Draw draw draw, take a nap, repeat.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Year of the To-Do List

About a month ago, I started putting together a to-do list at work. It sits neatly on my Palm and became a good reminder of all the little crap I needed to do when I finished a major product and couldn’t remember what I should be doing next. It also goes a long way to correcting (ruining?) that feeling of not having anything to do when you’re sitting in front of the computer refreshing Google News every five minutes.

It worked so well that a week later I set up a to-do list for my writing in my Moleskine. The notebook is with me all the time (unlike the Palm), it keeps my job work and writing work separate, and it’s faster than flipping through all my notes (or the index I adopted over the summer) to see what I’ve got cooking when my mind goes blank.

The only problem is these lists look rather daunting at first. I wrote my to-do list on a right-hand page near the back of the Moleskine, thinking I’d have plenty of room. Wrong! I filled it up in about two minutes and if I add anything more I’ll be overflowing to the left page. Why is it so easy to forget how busy I really am?

I’ve long thought organization is a big part of my problem. I’m just scatterbrained by nature. I obsess about new tasks and forget old ones. I’m lucky if I’ll be able to finish this blog post if something shiny catches my eye while I’m working on it. I looked into the Getting Things Done (GTD) system, but I don’t want to make this a religion, nor do I want to spend time learning (and obsessing over) a whole new system. Just cursory looks at some of the GTD-oriented software was enough to realize I’m not near anal enough for GTD.

A simple to-do list I can handle. Everyone knows how a to-do list works: you make a list and cross things off as you accomplish them. But it turns out there’s a little bit of art to it, too, as shown in this Lifehack article. Most of it is just tips on handling your to-do list and how to make sure you don’t just put it aside and start another one the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Yes, a lot of it is common sense. But think about it: how much of it do you actually do?

I don’t know that something as simple as a to-do list will make 2008 my “best year ever,” but it’s a start.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Fits and Starts

It seems like that’s the way everything’s coming these days.

In the fitness routine, my weight’s been stable for a month or so. Suddenly I’m seeing a drop again, and I finally lost another five pounds to meet last month’s goal (missed it by a day). It’s gone the same way since May: I’d shed a few pounds, then float, then lose a few more pounds, then float again. In the long run that’s a good thing, because it appears the slow weight loss — the stuff you work for — tends to stay off more than a diet that you start and stop when you feel like it.

Money definitely has its ups and downs. I’d be getting ready to tighten my belt when a contract or check shows up. I just did a small job for a friend and have a royalty check showing up any time, but then I got the news about the insurance rate increase at work.

Speaking of, the same goes on at work. I got caught up from a few straggling tasks from the start of the school year and had some time to work on some projects, then a teacher discovered some major crisis. I resolve that, skate a bit, and learn about a state database issue that has a deadline in two days.

Last but not least is the writing. I’ll go a month or so with no real news, then hear from an editor. For example, this weekend a mock cover for the German edition of Deadliest of the Species showed up in the inbox. I’ll tap away on To Rise from the Ashes one weekend, then not touch it for a while. I’ve got several other things I should be working on, too, but I’m letting To Rise gum up the works.

I’m starting to realize I have a real problem with time management.

On the face of it, it doesn’t appear weight loss or income could have anything to do with time management. But when applied to the fitness routine, or the amount of writing-related work I actually finish and turn into money, proper time management can have a huge impact. Keeping a better workout routine (between karate classes, that is) could make the weight loss more consistent. Finishing To Rise and a few other projects could set up some additional work and bring in some moolah. And that, in turn, would make it a lot easier to stomach the insurance increase, if not provide a little more stability to the monthly account balance.

So what do I do about it?

Accountability – I need a way to track my writing and make sure I’m doing it. It’s been working fairly well for the fitness with the Weight Tracker the last eleven freakin’ months. One would think it would have dawned on me to apply something similar to the writing. Dumbass.

Motivation – I’ll start with the important question: do I want to be a writer, or do I want to have written? The bibliography says the former. Should I think about the money? Wow. I can’t believe I typed that with a straight face. No, this one’s a bit trickier. I need to get some more stuff out there. And to do that I need to write more. See the problem? I could try to convince myself I’m doing it for the love, but then I’d be full of shit. In fact, anyone who says they write for themselves is full of shit. Writers need to be read. Period.

Distraction – Distractions abound. I need to cut out several of them, and stop overscheduling myself. In fact, I think I’ll talk to the wife right now about keeping next weekend wide open. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, I better take advantage of free weekends while I can.

And now that I figured all that out, maybe it’s time to shut the hell up and actually do something about it.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.