Monday’s Manuscript with Linda Shenton Matchett

Monday’s Manuscript: The Pomorodo Method

By Linda Shenton Matchett

Life is a balancing act. Or is it juggling? Either way, getting everything done can be a challenge. As an author who also has a full-time day job as well as assisting my elderly mom with daily tasks, and volunteering at church and a local museum, my time is precious. Until about eighteen months ago, completing the first draft of a manuscript took months. At that rate, I knew I might not live long enough to develop my writing career.

Then I was introduced to the Pomodoro Method by Shelley Hitz of Author Audience Academy. The process seemed too simple and too good to be true, but I was desperate so decided to give it a try. Invented in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, an Italian whose consulting company is located in Berlin, Germany, the method is a time management tool used worldwide and is for anyone looking to shut out distractions, overcome procrastination, and enhance productivity. Who knows? You might even want to consider the method for your household chores.

Pomorodo is the Italian word for tomato, and according to Wikipedia, Cirillo chose the name to commemorate the kitchen timer he used as a college student. Apparently, those timers were all the rage back then!

There are six steps to the Pomorodo Technique:

• Decide what task is to be done (write a scene, edit a chapter, etc.) and gather everything together that you’ll need to do the job.

• Set the timer. Any timer. It doesn’t need to be fancy. I use a basic timer app on my cell phone. Cirillo’s method calls for twenty-five minute time segments (each one is a pomorodo), however, you may choose to go slightly shorter or longer. I’ve found twenty minutes to be my “sweet spot.”

• Work on the task, and only the task. Don’t give into temptation and decide to research something for your scene or check the text message that just pinged.

• When the timer rings, put a check mark on a piece of paper.

• If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a 3-5 minute break then return to step two; otherwise go on to step six. I deviate slightly from this timeframe because I found that four sessions are too many for me. I take three minutes or so after each pomorodo, but only do three sessions, then get up and take about a twenty minute break.

• After the break, reset your checkmark counter to zero and start over.

I believe the success behind the method is the sense of urgency created by the timer. Instead of feeling like I have “all the time in the world,” I race against the clock to get as many words written as I can. If I’m struggling with a word, I don’t take time to use my thesaurus, I type XX and move on.

In the beginning, working in the short time periods felt awkward, and in the back of my mind I was convinced I wasn’t getting as much work done. Surprisingly, after about a week of using the method, it became more natural, and now I look forward to my Pomorodo session. Not only am I more productive and my daily word count is higher, but the forced breaks ensure I’m not as fatigued at the end of my day.

The Pomorodo Method is a simple technique, but it isn’t easy to eliminate distractions and dedicate a time period to a single task (especially if your a chronic multi-tasker like me), so don’t become discouraged in the early days. With a little practice you’ll be conquering your writing goals one pomorodo at a time.


About Murder in Madison Square Garden:

The dream of a lifetime becomes a nightmare.

Photojournalist Theodora “Teddy” Schafer’s career has hit the skids thanks to rumors of plagiarism. With any luck, a photo spread with Charles Lindbergh at the America First Rally will salvage her reputation. After an attempted assassination of Lindbergh leaves another man dead, Teddy is left holding the gun. Literally. Can she prove her innocence before the police lock her up for a murder she didn’t commit?

Private Investigator Ric Bogart wants nothing to do with women after his wife cleaned out their bank account and left him for another man, but he can’t ignore the feeling he’s supposed to help the scrappy, female reporter who is arrested for murder at the America First rally. Can he believe her claims of innocence and find the real killer without letting Teddy steal his heart?

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/u/31qK17


About Linda

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is also a trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historic places all her life, and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

Social Media Links:

Website/blog: http://www.LindaShentonMatchett.com

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Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Shenton-Matchett/e/B01DNB54S0

BookBub: http://www.bookbub.com/authors/linda-shenton-matchett

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/authorlindamatchett

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Twitter: @lindasmatchett

Monday’s Manuscript with Darlene L. Turner

Blurriness

By Darlene L. Turner

You know what they say . . . “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But what if the picture was blurry and out of focus? It’s worthless.

Or is it?

Have you noticed when you first press the screen on your phone to take a picture, it goes fuzzy before taking the perfect, clear shot? It has to go out of focus before going into focus.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the same thing about my writing. Unfocused. I settle in to write and find myself getting distracted. Ding! Was that an email?

Of course, the pandemic hasn’t helped and I’ve found myself easily pulled away from deadlines. There are too many competing priorities trying to gobble up our time. We need to take back our lives. So, how do we do it?

Here are some ideas I’ve put into practice. Some of these may be a challenge with covid-19, but we need to get creative in staying focused.

Get rid of distractions – Limit the amount of TV we watch. I love being able to PVR my favorite show because after I write for a specific amount of time, I can treat myself and watch it before bedtime. Also, turn off social media while writing. This includes email and our phones. I’m bad about leaving my cell beside me and when I see the light flashing . . . well, you know what happens.

Clean our writing corners – Getting rid of clutter helps. It can get messy and distracting. When it does, I find myself not wanting to write there. I took some time last week to purge and declutter. It felt good and keeps me motivated to stay in my writing corner. Keep it clean!

Go somewhere out of the norm to write – Need to be inspired and find a new character for your next book? Take your laptop or journal to your favorite café and write. It’s a great way to sit and watch others interacting and maybe catch a few conversations (inconspicuously of course). A smaller café with less traffic is a great place to concentrate.

Go on a writer’s retreat – Book a weekend away to write! Plan a trip. This could be for one night or more, depending on your pocket book. There’s just something to be said about getting away from our homes to write. It forces us to put our fingers to keyboard or pen to paper.

These are a few ideas that help me focus on writing. You may have others.

But what about my faith? Yes, the lens of my faith camera can also get fuzzy. Satan uses distractions to pull me away. These can be little or big, but it doesn’t matter. They’re still distractions.

I need to keep myself focused and in constant communion with God and in His word. Being equipped with His full armor will put the blurriness into clear focus and my eyes on Him!


LOVE INSPIRED SUSPENSE

Border Breach

When drugs are smuggled across the border

it’s their duty to stop the culprits…at any cost.

Forming a joint task force, Canada border officer Kaylin Poirier and police constable Hudson Steeves have one objective: take down a drug-smuggling ring trying to sell a new lethal product. But when the smugglers come after Kaylin and Hudson, this mission becomes more than just a job. Can they live long enough to solve the case?


Get your copy of Border Breach

Amazon.ca

https://amzn.to/2IXI31X

Amazon.com

https://amzn.to/2QrcgdP

Chapters/Indigo

https://bit.ly/3b5wkKQ

Barnes & Noble

https://bit.ly/33v9Ro4


About Darlene

Darlene L. Turner is an award-winning author and lives with her husband, Jeff in Ontario, Canada. Her love of suspense began when she read her first Nancy Drew book. She’s turned that passion into her writing and believes readers will be captured by her plots, inspired by her strong characters, and moved by her inspirational message. You can connect with Darlene at www.darlenelturner.com where there’s suspense beyond borders.

Find Darlene online

Facebook: https://bit.ly/2Woy8dK

Twitter: https://bit.ly/2Qso27O

LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2UhbelT

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Instagram: darlenel.turner

Monday’s Manuscript with Barbara M. Britton

Page Turner or Snooze Fest

Do you finish every book you begin? Or do you close a boring book and never reopen it? The opening of a novel can make or break the story. If you’ve heard, “the story gets going on page 30,” then page 30 should have been where the story began.

How do I know first pages are important? Contests ask for the first pages of a story to judge not the middle pages, or the final pages. When I pitched a story to a literary agent (who shall remain nameless), I was shocked that the agent only wanted me to send one page—the first page. One single page? Was the first page really that important. Yes. If a reader or an agent can’t get beyond the first pages of a novel, then the rest of the story won’t be read.

Where does a story start? At the “inciting incident.” I discovered this term in the book “Story” by Robert McKee and it was referenced at a conference by another author. I liked the simplicity. Your story begins when the main character’s life is changed forever, or something happens to the main character that creates the story problem. Your main character can create the problem, too. Who shows up at the door? Who’s on the other end of the phone. What does the main character discover that will set the story in motion? In other words, when does trouble begin? It should happen fast and furious and be filled with enough conflict to carry a novel for several hundred pages. Not a small task.

The author’s taller task is to make the reader like or relate to the main character, so the reader cares about the trouble. Remember the agent who only wanted one page? How do you make your character stand out in a few pages let alone sentences? When I am drafting characters, I think about what makes my character likeable and unique. How will the reader identify with my character? I also make my characters competent. Give your protagonist a skill or ability that sets them apart (Katniss in THE HUNGER GAMES with archery). The skill or ability should help them overcome the trouble that is going to create chaos in their lives.

Not every ability is a physical one. Some of my characters overcome trouble with their phenomenal faith, or their intuition. Those are harder to define than being an expert swordsman but work well in Biblical fiction or Fantasy. David’s faith in God made him confront Goliath. His slinging ability helped him down a giant. Israel’s army had many valiant fighters, but it was David’s sincere love of God that made him volunteer to face a nine-foot warrior.

Remember too, interesting details are engaging. The more specific the details, the better the reader knows your character. Glance at magazines and find an image that looks like your character. What styles are they wearing? Jewelry? Shoes? Habits? Creating a character readers want to hang with will keep them engaged in the story. Anyone remember Kojak? What did the detective suck on while solving cases? A lollipop. It’s been a few decades since the show was on TV, but people remember his quirky habit.

If you’re not sure where to begin a story, sit down and start writing. Later on, go back and have critique partners look at your pages. I’m sure you have heard the adage attributed to Nora Roberts, “You can’t fix a blank page.” The more you think about these things, the more ideas will pop into your head (And I don’t mean lollipop).

Happy “inciting incident” writing!

Barb’s Bio:

Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Southeast, Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. Barb brings little known Bible stories to light in her Tribes of Israel series. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. She is published by Harbourlight Books an imprint of Pelican Book Group. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.

You can find out more about Barb and her books on her website barbarambritton.com, and on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Barb’s books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers.