Friday, September 28, 2012

Author D.A. Serra On Time Management

Finding new authors and new books to read is one of the fun things about blogging. Without it I might not have found author D. A. Serra and her current release, PRIMAL.

I’m delighted to have D.A. (Deborah) visiting today as part of her Premier Virtual Author Book Tour to talk about her writing and her book, a crime thriller with a heavy psychological element.

Deborah was a screenwriter for twenty years and recognized by the Writer's Guild for her long term continuous employment. She has written ten TV movies, four feature films, and numerous TV episodes including two years as a staff writer for NBC. She worked for top producers, directors, and actors. 

In addition, Deborah has taught writing at the University of California, San Diego, Wofford College and at writers' conferences nationwide. She has now turned her attention to novels, and was honored as a recent recipient of the prestigious Hawthornden Literary Fellowship, and as a semi-finalist for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Award given by the Faulkner Society in New Orleans, LA.

Here’s a brief synopsis of PRIMAL:
The most dangerous place on Earth is between a mother and her child... 

With everything at stake - what are you capable of? What if the worst happens and you're not a policeman, a soldier, or a spy with weapons training and an iron heart? What if you're a schoolteacher - a mom? In this gritty crime thriller a family vacation takes a vicious turn when a fishing camp is invaded by four armed men. With nothing except her brains, her will, and the element of surprise on her side, Alison must learn to kill or watch her family die.
And then, things get worse.

As a screenplay, PRIMAL was originally purchased by James Cameron.

Now Deborah shares what her typical writing day is like.

Immediately upon rousing, I roll over, stare bleary-eyed at my bedroom wall, reach for a cup of very hot coffee that has been sympathetically deposited on my nightstand by my husband, and open my computer. I sip the coffee and wait for clarity. 

I’m not a morning person, and my husband, who is, leaps out of bed at 5:30 smiling. I sit suspended and trying to recall where I’m living, whom I’m married to, and what my plans are. Initially, I am incapable of forming a sentence and take unkindly to anyone attempting discourse. That is why it is so odd that it is my best writing time.  

I go directly from sleep to words on the page. It is so easy for me to sink into a story when I’m just barely conscious and  before my Primal Pic Smallmind is battered by all the exigencies of the new day. As the day wears on, and interruptions (more commonly known as life) begin to chip away at my concentration, I always look back grateful I began the day early. I am simply not quite so grateful at the moment.

I remember being told once that Honore Balzac would work from midnight to six a.m., then sleep, and get up in the late afternoon to read and attend dinner or social events. I completely understand this schedule, although I could never emulate it. The best writing time is when the world is asleep because nothing is required of you. Sadly, I’m a regular human and need to sleep at night.

I usually write for about six hours or longer (not shorter) five days a week. With this schedule, I was able to raise three kids, and two dogs, while growing a successful writing career first in TV & film, and now in novels. It was a perfect situation for me as a woman, since I worked when my children were in school. I was a full-time writer and a full-time mother at the same time – a modern day miracle.  

There were the occasional times when I was shooting for TV, or when I needed to travel to research a particular assignment, or if an intransigent deadline approached, where more was required, but those times were manageable. I will admit that it wasn’t easy. With gregarious twins and another child just two-years younger, I did run around for about eight years with my hair on fire. And, yes, I was that wild women running through the grocery store at 10:30 at night.  

I think time management is the most important skill a writer must master. It is so easy to be distracted by the needs and desires of others. Once writers are sure where, when, and how they work best, then it really is all about time management and discipline. It means having to tell confused friends and school teachers over-and-over “I’m working ” – since they do not get it and think because you’re home you’re available -- but it can be done.

Now, as a novelist, it is easier for me as I no longer have the same immutable deadlines notorious in the TV & film world, and my children are older, so they drive themselves. My schedule is predicated only on what works for me, but those days in the work/mom/school/wife/homework/cook/shopper/chauffeur trenches really taught me how to glue myself down to a schedule. Even for the most prolific writers there’s nothing like a solid schedule.

Deborah, thanks so much for visiting and giving us a look at a typical writing day for you. I agree about time management, no matter what one does for a living.

For further information on Deborah and her writing, visit her website at

Do you use time management to make your days a little easier? Thanks so much for stopping by today.



  1. Hi Mason and Deborah - what a great read - the obvious and most important thing in life for a writer is to marry someone who is bright eyed and bushy tailed at 5.30 am and happy to be up and about making sure 'my' coffee is ready for me!!!! Missed out somewhere?!

    Time though is the thing we all need to find the way round - being organised is an essential ..

    Sounds as though life has been 'hairy' - but great fun and congratulations on what is obviously a successful career ..

    Cheers to you both - Hilary

  2. Deborah, thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on time management. It's difficult to fit everything one needs to do in and still manage to have a life. We could all give more management. Wishing you much success.

    Hilary, thanks for stopping by. I agree, being organized is essential.

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Deborah.

    Deborah - Thanks for sharing your strategies for managing it all. You have a really well-taken point too that people don't always understand that just because one's at home doesn't mean one's not working. That's why I agree with you that it's really important to tell friends and family one's working and help them help one stay focused.

  4. Wow! She has quite the schedule. I'd love to wake up and find my husband has brought me something to help get me going. I'm the one who gets up first. And I'm the one to fix breakfast. Hmm, I think I'll have to have a talk with someone. :)

  5. Thanks for taking part in the tour. I'm looking forward to reading your review of Primal!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.