June 28, 2013

Setting Priorities Better

By J. L. Greger

Authors - at least those who don’t have a really good agent, which probably accounts for 99% of us– really have at least two roles. Besides being writers, we must be publicists. It also helps to be a good speaker, a master of a variety of computer technologies, and a decent business executive.

Oak Tree Press published my first novel ComingFlu, a medical thriller, in July 2012. As I reviewed my activities during the last six months, I realized that I didn’t deserve even a B, for many of my writing associated activities. I could argue that I was a beginner and learned a lot during this time period. Realistically, this greater proficiency will not be sufficient to make 2013 a great publishing year for me. I need to do a better job of setting priorities. If you’re honest with yourself, you might draw similar conclusion.

A rule for setting priorities-
After searching the web for organizational ideas, I decided that I already had a golden rule for setting priorities. In my novel Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight featuring Linda Almquist, the heroine, is given this advice.

“There are three types of problems. A few problems are like wine; those situations improve if you delay decisions and let them age. Most problems are like waste paper. You can ignore them because they don’t matter. Unfortunately like waste paper, they tend to be messy when they pile up. And some problems are like manure. You must identify them quickly before they stink.”

Applying the rule-
I admit that I dislike setting up speaking engagements, but enjoy fussing over my slides and handouts for talks. This probably reflects the fact that I was a professor in the biological sciences for many years. I’m comfortable lecturing and never had to request a chance to speak. In 2013, I’ve resolved to spend less time on details that no one notices for my presentations and more time on trying to schedule engagements.

With further thought, I realized that I was not listening to the advice given Linda. I was solving a “waste paper” problem. I was not attacking my “manure” problem - I was reaching only a small local audience with my publicity. That means for me doing more guest blogs, increasing the outreach of my own blog ( and website (, and, in general, being more active in promoting my books.

When you analyze your situation, you’ll draw different conclusions. Many of you will like me tend to attack the “waste paper” problems before the important “manure” problems. That’s a mistake.

Which problems are like wine?

We all waste time dreaming about how we’ll spend our next royalty check.

 J.L. Greger writes medical suspense and mystery novels with tidbits about recent scientific advances and glimpses of life within the scientific/medical community. My novels are examples of a new genre of books: science in fiction or lab lit. But don't worry if you're not much interested in science, you'll find the action exciting and the characters just quirky enough to be appealing. As a former professor of biological sciences and university administrator. Now she enjoys putting tidbits of science into her novels, which she hopes encourage more women and minorities to major in science. She is the author of Coming Flu, the first in a series of three novels based on Sara Almquist, an epidemiology professor who took early retirement to get away from bad memories, and her sister Linda Almquist, a physician in the Albuquerque area. Although no one in "Coming Flu" is real, except for my Japanese Chin Bug, I use my past experiences as a professor with a research lab and grad students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a co-author of "Nutrition for Living" (a textbook for non-science majors), and a university administrator to "color" my novels with reality and grit.Her latest book is Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight

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