Moving! And why, for us, it’s not an OMG

Matthew J. Drake and I are moving from the Baltimore area in Maryland to the Phoenix area in Arizona. 🙂

My day job remains the same and so my Piper’s Travel Hijinx will continue. Perhaps because of this, the move isn’t a big deal in our minds. I’ll still be spending my days on my day job projects, 85% of the time on site. If anything, flying out of Phoenix will result in more direct flights for me and fewer connections.

The biggest changes for us will be the space. We’ll be going from a single bedroom to a bedroom and an office. It’ll be separate areas for sleep and for work and for creative content – writing, podcasting, vlogging – with no neighbors upstairs stomping around at all hours. There’ll be a bigger kitchen for my stress cooking. There’ll be a garage to park our car in and a small backyard to turn into an outdoor creative space (in the winter).

All of that at a lower cost of living.

Another factor to consider is that we’re a bit nomadic. We start to twitch if we’ve lived in a single location for more than two years. Change is good to keep our minds stimulated and our hearts inspired.

And so, for us, this move isn’t a huge moment so much as an exciting change of pace in our ever-progressing forward momentum.

It’s our next adventure. 🙂

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Play Find the PJ at the Nebula Conference 2016!

When Mary Robinette Kowal asks me to be a panelist/moderator at the Nebula Conference-a professional conference for Science Fiction and Fantasy-I’m extremely likely to say YES. Not only because I have a decades long love for the genres but also due to my deep respect for Mary herself.

She is thought-provoking. She is also considerate. She writes wonderful novels. And she demonstrates via her actions the messages she presents via her words. Mary Robinette Kowal is one of those nifty people who inspire me to strive to do great things.

And so I’ll be in Chicago for the Nebula Conference, on panel and moderating. I’ll also be attending the many other interesting panels to expand my mind.

It will be my first Nebula and I have no doubts about it being interesting. 😉

ComingSoon copyI’m evolving this year and this conference will be a test of that evolution. I am Piper J. Drake when it comes to romantic suspense. But will PJ Schnyder continue on or will that alter-identity fade into the archives as Piper continues? It’s a question that involves publishers, my agent, and some deep thinking. Regardless, I intend to continue writing science fiction, paranormal romance, and steampunk in addition to my romantic suspense.

As a part of the evolution, my social media platforms are consolidating. So whether you are looking for PJ Schnyder or Piper J. Drake, you will find my thoughts here.

And I’ll hope to see you at the Nebula Conference in Chicago. 😉

PJ’s (Piper’s) Panels at the Nebula Conference

Saturday May 14 at 2pm

Being a Hybrid Author

Rather than choosing traditional publishing or indie-publishing, some authors are doing both. These panelists talk about the nuts and bolts of combining publishing strategies to diversify a writer’s income stream.

Moderator: Kameron Hurley

Panelists: Eric FlintCharles GannonAlethea KontisPJ SchnyderDan Slater

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Saturday May 14 at 3pm

Day Jobs for Writers

Discussion would include considerations for writers balancing their writing careers with day jobs from time management techniques to whether to have pen names to what not to Tweet in order to avoid getting fired. Bonus discussion on how experience in the workplace can impact your writing perspective.

Moderator: PJ Schnyder

Panelists: Rachel AcksDanielle FriedmanN.K. JemisinMartin L. Shoemaker

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Saturday May 14 at 4pm

Redefining Aliens of the Future

In early SF, aliens were often used as stand-ins, to represent groups of Others in our own societies. They are still sometimes inappropriately inserted into lists of marginalized groups by people attempting to downplay bias. In SF worlds where the human condition is portrayed with full diversity, what new roles can aliens take on to keep their relevance to their core genre?

Moderator: Juliette Wade

Panelists: Charles GannonNick Kanas, M.D.Fonda LeePJ SchnyderRachel Swirsky

 

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Task Management and Kanban

Kanban is a method for managing work to be done without overloading the people doing said work. The method is applicable to writers, especially when undertaking complex projects. It allows the author to have a nice overview of what needs to be done while still having it easily organized into do-able tasks.

Kanban starts with creating a few basic categories for your work. I divide my process into Triage, Do Today, In Progress (right now), and Done. You can divide your process into categories that resonate with you and match your personal way of doing things.

Post It Notes and Kanban

At first, I take each of my tasks and put them in the Triage category. These should be finite, do-able tasks. If I’m drafting, this could be researching a particular detail or writing a specific scene. If I’m revising, this could be addressing a specific revision note like clarifying my order events and timeline or adding more detail to my hero’s backstory.

At the beginning of my day’s work session, I pick one or two tasks–no more than three–and put them in the Do Today category. Then when I’m ready to start working, I pick one task and put it in the In Progress category. Then I get to work.

This allows me to focus on the task at hand. And maybe I’ll finish it, so it then goes in the Done! category. Or maybe I’ll have worked on it as far as it can go before I finish other tasks, so I’ll leave it in In Progress and take the next task from Do Today.

The goal here is to not be overwhelmed by all the things floating in the Triage category. I’ve identified them. I know they’re there. I can even add more. But on a given day, I’m only focusing on the few tasks I’ve placed in Do Today. Because I’m focusing on them, I can get them done.

Kanban method can be done on paper. I have big Post-It notes on my workspace wall, actually. Or there are online web apps to let you organize. I use Trello, for example.

Trello and Kanban

Using the kanban method to manage my “things to do” is effective to keep myself productive and protect myself from getting overwhelmed. It makes me feel better to have all my random, free-floating to do’s in the Triage category. It let’s me focus on the specific tasks I’ve pulled into my Do Today. It feels really good to drop a task into my Done! category.

Does this method interest you? I’d love to see examples of this method applied to other authors’ work.