Why You Should Learn to Juggle Multiple Projects (Novel Writing)

I know it can sound horrible, especially at the beginning of your writing journey. Write multiple books? you’re thinking. I’m trying to get the first one out!

Even if you’re still relatively new to the writing life, it’s not too soon to think about multiple projects. Here’s why:

  1. Sometimes, you just need to let an idea gel. It’s not all the way there. If you find yourself really struggling with one project, there’s absolutely no shame in putting it aside for a time to work on something else. Readers will know if you’re forcing a plot to come together. *BUT: If you’re a new writer, you do run the risk of constantly getting to the middle and chucking that project to start something new, never finishing anything. I’ll post a few tips for getting unstuck soon.
  2. Often, I find my brain needs to take a breather from doing the same kind of writing activity. (Usually, when I’m in the midst of endless amounts of copyediting.) Cutting a working day short a couple of hours (or even taking a day a week) in order to do a few drafting sprints energizes me, lets me come back to copyediting refreshed and more alert and able to catch tiny mistakes.
  3. There’s a ton of downtime in any writing project. When working with a traditional publisher, months can elapse between editorial letters. Even when indie publishing, you’ll find yourself waiting on print proofs or waiting to hear from the editor you’ve hired. In the midst of proofing the re-release of my first MG, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, I found that the margins were pretty tight. So I got back into the InDesign file and widened them. Redid the cover. Uploaded the files and ordered another proof. As I wait for it to be delivered, I’ll be drafting a new humor piece.

Once I got in the habit of juggling multiple projects, I also found myself more easily transitioning between different writing tasks (drafting, editing, marketing, etc.) And it mixes the days up, keeps the writing life feeling new and exciting.

Schedule a Play Date (Tip for Book Drafting)

I do not like writing the first draft. Of anything. At all.

Luckily for me, it seems the first draft is really the smallest writing task. Especially when compared to the hours required for global rewrites, line edits, copyedits, cover creation, formatting, and marketing.

BUT: Over the past few months, I did discover a first-draft technique that’s helped. A lot.

I’ve been working on my current WIP during the day (for the past several months, this has involved a lot of copyediting and revising). And at night, I give myself play time.

That’s right–I curl up with my dog and a cup of tea and the laptop, and put on some sort of banal TV I won’t pay too much attention to. And then I play with some idea that’s intrigued me. I write sample chapters or an outline. Random passages. I just tease out the idea.

By the time I get done copyediting one book, I can then take my playtime draft and begin to revise and reorganize and tidy it up…do the revision work I prefer. And when night rolls around, I can play with yet another idea.

The thing is, the playtime at night doesn’t really feel like work–I don’t have any kind of deadline or need to get any number of words down. I’m just messing with this thing at this point. It’s all idea generation. (I LOVE brainstorming, by the way. Just don’t like the initial draft.)

I’m finding the feeling of play really helps the writing–adds a new kind of life to the pages.

Try it out–schedule your own play date. Could be at night, maybe during lunch. Or schedule one day a week as a play date. Just to mess with some idea you’ve had in your head a while. Maybe a poem. Or a picture book. A short story. Just go for it. See what happens. Maybe nothing. Maybe something that you never would have had otherwise.

I mean, we got into this because writing was fun, right? It should always be fun…

Alternate Sites for Indie (Self) Published Books

Self-published authors can get so wrapped up in the usual players (Amazon) that we often overlook some other opportunities. I recently updated my listings at a couple of alternate sites:


Several of my paperback indie-pubbed books are listed over at Etsy, and they’re all personalized. You can tell me at checkout how you’d like it inscribed / who to make the book out to. I’ve sold a handful of picture books at Etsy, and have loved the direct interaction with readers.


I’ve also listed a few titles over at Payhip, where you can buy e-books directly from me (Payhip is really just the delivery service). Playing Hurt and Play It Again are both at Payhip; at the back of Playing Hurt, you’ll receive a code for 25% off Play It Again. You can choose which type of file you need for your ereader. My Bookfunnel account is also linked to my Payhip store, so you have the option of downloading from either Payhip or Bookfunnel (I use Bookfunnel for distributing ARCs, so I thought many of my readers would be more comfortable downloading from a familiar site.)

Again, there’s just something about being able to sell directly to readers. And buy directly from writers! Now that I’m at Payhip as a writer, I must admit, I enjoy being able to purchase ebooks this way.

Hope to see you at my stores. And if you try using either service as a writer yourself, I’d love to hear about it! You can get in touch here in the comments or (as always) hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

Illustration Tips for Non-Illustrators (Kids’ Books, etc.)

I’m eyeball-deep in a project that’s requiring far more illustrative work than any book I’ve ever put out. As an indie author, though, art has become a big part of my work. Cover design, interior book formatting, even social media banners–it’s all a daily part of the working life.

For those who are trying to be more hands-on about their own book packaging, or even thinking about illustrating their own kids’ books, etc., a few tips:

A Convertible Laptop is Your Friend

I have a Wacom drawing tablet, which I’ve used for years, but can’t say enough about how much being able to draw on the screen helps. It’s not just about the pen on the screen, either. Being able to use my fingers on the screen to enlarge or shrink the image, being able to twist the image about to draw more easily, makes a big difference, too. I can also use my left hand to flick between pens and erasers and layers in my drawing software, while drawing with my right. It’s just been a godsend for workflow.

Clip Studio Paint Is the Best

I’ve written about Clip Studio Paint in the past, but every time I come back to it, I remember how much I love it. It’s affordable ($50 for a one-time download), and it has a ton of great tools–including 3D character maps as well as vector pens and erasers and line stabilizers that all make inking a far easier task.

But Don’t Expect One Program to Do It All

In order to finish my current project, I’ve been bouncing between Clip Studio, Photoshop, and InDesign. I use InDesign for all print book formatting. It’s especially important for this illustrated work. It makes easy work of formatting the final page-by-page design.

Find Joy in the Discovery

Remember how much fun it was to get a new box of crayons when you were little? Tap into that. Of course your first line isn’t going to be fantastic. If this is your first step into digital art, it will feel awkward and disorienting. But there’s also a great deal of fun to be had in learning about it. Get stuck? Watch a few YouTube videos. Go to a webinar or two. Join some digital art forums. Talk, ask, reach out. And enjoy the journey.

Got additional questions you’d like me to address? Comment here or reach out directly: hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

Play It Again – New Release – Looking for Reviewers

I’m delighted to announce that Play It Again, the sequel to Playing Hurt, has released!

Play It Again is a different story in many ways than Playing Hurt; it’s a forever love story, rather than a steamy summer romance. (Although, there’s a pretty steamy love scene at the end…) It’s available at all the regular outlets: Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo.

As an added bonus, to be sure you’re up to speed for Play It Again, I’ve set Playing Hurt to free on all the same channels: Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo.

Want to buy direct? You can still snag Playing Hurt for free, then receive a 25% off coupon to apply to Play It Again! Head to Payhip to grab your copy of Playing Hurt.

Already familiar with Playing Hurt? Like a review copy of Play It Again? I’m distributing e-review copies now; just shoot a message to hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com. Use Play It Again Review Copy in the subject line, and I’ll be sure to send one your way!

MG Blog Partnership – Willard Middle

At my MG group blog, Smack Dab in the Middle, we decided to try partnering with schools to reflect on their own monthly (or semesterly, etc.) theme, blogging about how the theme shows up in our own lives and work. In February, (the first month of partnering!) we reflected on the yearly theme at Willard Middle School in Aldie, VA: At WMS, they’re Wild Cats, so they show their CLAWS. Character, Leadership, Attitude, Work Ethic and Service. Suggested by Laura Hoyler, 6th grade instructor.

I had such a fantastic time reading the posts and reflecting on this theme. We’ve got writers, librarians, teachers, and students at Smack Dab, so everyone had a different take. I’m so glad Laura got in touch to suggest it! You can view the full month of posts here.

Does your school incorporate themes? I’d love to hear from you and potentially partner with you as well! Hit me up at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

Staying in Rhythm (Copyediting Your Book)

When I’m copyediting, I get in this zone where I pretty much don’t want anything else to enter my brain. I only want to concentrate on the book at hand. I’m sure I’m not alone–it’s why the term revision cave became a thing. You really do crawl inside your WIP and lose all track of the outside world.

There’s a rhythm to copyediting. Kind of like jumping rope. Get away from the book too long, and suddenly, the rope’s getting tangled in your feet and everything’s falling apart.

But I also realize lately that being able to put my head down and work on only my book-in-progress is a real luxury. We all have families and jobs taking up our time, leaving less day than we’d like for copyediting. During the pandemic, I’ve been doing much more cooking and shopping. I have a young dog now who loooooves to walk. Etc., etc.

A few things you can do (and I’ve been doing as well) to keep the rhythm going in your copyediting job:

  1. Keep your book with you at all times. I always compile my manuscript and put it on one of my e-readers. I keep it and a notebook in my purse. Find yourself with ten minutes or so on your hands? You can probably read a chapter, and make a list of typos or phrasing changes to type when you get back home.
  2. Stop reading other books. This is harder than it sounds. But I usually stop reading other works of fiction during the time I’m engaged in a really close copyediting read of one of my own books. It helps keep the timeline of my own book in my head.
  3. Read like a reader. I’ve discovered that, while copyediting, you’re better off reading your own book like you read other authors’ work. You want to read at a fast enough clip that the timeline stays fresh. But you don’t want to just plow through it, looking for missing commas. You want to ask yourself questions as you go: Is this character acting realistically? Did another character drop out of the action inexplicably? Are threads mistakenly abandoned? Sometimes, you can actually find plot holes while copyediting.

And now, back to my WIP…

Current WIP: Play It Again

When I re-released Playing Hurt, I got some incredible, fresh feedback on the book–so much so, it gave me all sorts of ideas for tightening up Play It Again. I’m really excited about this new chapter of Chelsea and Clint’s story.

I’ve got the book formatted, and I’m now doing line edits! It’s always so exciting to see a book laid out in InDesign.

More to come on this project soon…

Do Writers Need Agents?

At the end of the year, I asked readers what they’d like to see more of here at the blog. I got quite a few requests for posts about the business end of publishing.

Specifically, I was asked about agents.

I’m currently sans-agent, because I’m focused at the moment on further developing my indie career. The agent I had got me some lovely deals–a two-book and one-book deal, each at a Big-5 publishing house.

But it probably didn’t happen the way you’re envisioning.

I think most writers who have never had an agent imagine that it’s the answer to everything. That once you sign, a book deal is imminent and inevitable. To be sure, an agent can open doors. But neither one of my deals came quickly. They both required more than a year of submitting and getting editorial feedback and resubmitting. I was really lucky that my agent was willing to stick the process out with me, and to continue to submit rewrites with the same amount of enthusiasm as she did the first round.

Without it, those projects would have been dead in the water.

If you’re looking to snag an agent, it’s clearly not going to happen during a face-to-face meeting at a conference. At least, not for the foreseeable future. It’s probably going to depend to some extent on a good query. I’ve written about query letters before, but I’ll rerun my own format for queries here:

  1. A third of the page devoted to the book itself—and no more than a third. I know you have a ton to say about your story, but it really needs to be brief. Think in terms of jacket copy. It often helps to start with a one-sentence tagline. If you can boil your book down to one sentence first, then writing a couple of paragraphs feels far less daunting.
  2. A third of the page devoted to the importance of the book—how it fits into the market, how you believe it fills a hole. If it’s children’s literature, you might indicate how the book would be useful in a classroom, etc.
  3. A third of the page devoted to your credentials (I’m including any platforms or followings you might have). If you’re a first-time author, you’ll take up less space here.

That being said, have I sold a book without an agent? Yes. I’ll talk about that more next week.

Got a question of your own? One about the writing process or the business of writing? Feel free to hit me up: hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

Working Through Writer’s Block

The thing is, I don’t get writer’s block. At least, not in the way you usually think of it. I am never without new ideas for new books. And I actually love revision. (I’ve never felt I couldn’t work my way through a revision.)

BUT: throughout the past few years, I have hit periods in which I have a hard time focusing. It happens during periods of social uprising or political maelstroms.

I have to admit, lately, I’ve had a hard time focusing on my WIP, Play It Again (the Playing Hurt sequel). And it has everything to do with the images on my nightly news, the papers I read.

It’s tough–and because it’s ongoing, I don’t have any real solidified thoughts about it. I just wanted to let everyone who’s feeling the same way to know they’re not alone. I’m slogging through it, too.

I’m taking lots of walks.

I’m outside with my dog.

I’m trying new recipes.

I’m reading new books.

I’m doing my best to introduce the feeling of play in my work.

I’m sending out good writing vibes to all my fellow writers…