Continuing our Featured Reader series, here’s Beth Treadway to tell us how she uses her Quo Vadis notebooks in her writing career!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a shameless romantic, which is why I decided to write full time under Beth Treadway. My chosen genres are Romantic Suspense and Southern Gothic with a twist. After years of querying agents and editors who tell me they love my voice and my characters, but aren’t quite sure how to sell my books or it’s not quite right for their line and will I please send them the next thing I write, I made the decision this year to go indie. Like many who straddle genres or invent their own, traditional publishing simply isn’t meeting my needs.
Independent publishing involves hiring professional editors, cover artists, deciding whether to go digital only or adding print on demand, what markets I want to target, and learning formatting, marketing and publicity. Thanks to Romance Writers of America, where I hold PRO status and belong to multiple chapters, as well as ROMVETS (a global network of professional writers who are also military veterans like myself) I have the knowledge and network to help me reach my goal.
I want to share my tools to help other serious professionals who might benefit from the tips and tricks I’ve learned from those who go before me. Here is a picture of my basic tools.
The No. 38 Rhodia dot pad is perfect for mind mapping or brainstorming plots. I love the size and lack of restriction so I can move in any direction. I prefer 6B pencils when I’m working as they glide and erase easily.
The office in a bag with scissors, erasers, flags, sticky notes, pens, mini-stapler and highlighters came from JetPens.com and it’s perfect for the portable office. I picked bright orange because it’s hard to forget it anywhere.
Do you have a blog/website?
So new that I am still building and populating it. www.BethTreadway.com You can join the roughly three thousand tweeps following me @BethAuthor or like my Pro Page on Facebook at Beth Treadway, Author.
How long have you been using Quo Vadis planners and/or notebooks?
As you can see from the photographs, the lined Habana has been my standby for at least five years. The size and back pocket is perfect for filing handouts at conferences and writer’s groups. My Quiver holder slides neatly on the spine to keep my preferred fountain pen safe.
Stub and OBB nibs are my favorites, so I need truly great paper that doesn’t bleed through or feather, no matter what ink I use. I prefer really wet inks as I need that nib to fly when I’m in the zone. I mourn the demise of the white paper Habana as it is so much easier on the eyes in dark hotel conference rooms or on dimly lit transportation. I use different colored inks to mark my progress or days at a conference.
I had to made do one year with a Rhodia Webnotebook (note the difference in size).
When planning for the AgentFest at the ThrillerFest conference, which is speed dating only with agents and acquisition editors, I developed my “stalking system”. This is perfect for anyone in sales who has to make their pitch and close the deal in 3 minutes or less.
a) Type out your Logline and Pitch. Print it in an appropriate size and glue it to the back page of the notebook, right in front of the pocket. This makes it easy to flip to your pitch before sitting down with your chosen prey, er, industry professional.
b) Download information about and pictures of your selected target. In my case, I clipped the pertinent data from agents’ websites and used a glue stick to paste it to the page. Add any additional information you glean about your target during the conference to that page. Reserve the back side of each page for your own use.
c) Before your 3 minute pitch, while everyone else is fidgeting or droning on about their magnificent opus, mark the page with the ribbon divider and do a quick review of your agent’s info while clipping several of your business cards to their page with a paperclip so you don’t drop them before you can hand one to your target. Clip a ballpoint to the elastic band or use a Quiver like I do so you have a writing implement ready to jot down the requested material, any insider emails or codes they give you to keep your work out of the slush pile, and any other pertinent information they give you, including other agents or editors who might be interested in your work.
d) As you sit down, smoothly hand them your business card with your logline printed on the back and shake hands. Take any card they hand you and slip it inside the back pocket. The Habana’s design and secure cover with the band will keep them from falling out. You have your elevator pitch in front of you. Give it. Use the ribbon to flip back to the agent’s page and prepare for their pleasure that you bothered to take the time to research them. Use your pen to jot down how many chapters or pages they want and in what format.
e) At the end of the session, chortle to yourself as you count the requests you’ve received, secure in the knowledge you have everything safe at your fingertips.
f) Take your conference notes in the front of the Habana. This keeps the information at your fingertips in case you’re speaking to a professional at any point who expresses interest in your work. Nothing is sadder than the writer caught sans pitch or business card at the one moment someone actually wants your work! I often hang around to pick up the empty time slots left by the no shows. This is business and timid people hand me opportunities in the form of empty slots every year. I’m prepared to take those slots and run.
g) Be courteous and mannerly. Most importantly, be appropriate! We’ve all heard the horror stories of a manuscript shoved under the toilet stall door. Do NOT be that person. Ever.
As for planners, I switched from the Journal 21 system to Staples Arc for my calendar and plotting bibles. The Arc system gives so much more flexibility without the nasty rings of older brands. I can fold my calendar or plotting bible back on itself, add any size paper with the punch, pull out conference information after having it at my fingertips right up until the date and carry it with me on the plane, modifying the format and adding handouts with tabs or accessories. THIS is where I’d love to see Quo Vadis go with their planners.
Thanks to more experienced writers, I learned the importance of having a good monthly or yearly calendar in front of me when plotting. It’s important to know holidays you might inadvertently conflict with (nothing funny about setting an inappropriate luncheon during Ramadan’s fast as you write your thriller set in the Middle East). Quo Vadis calendars have many international and interfaith holidays flagged, making my plotting that much easier.
This gives your book appropriate pacing and flow. We’ve all read those books when someone pops up in New York without allowing sufficient time to travel from Hong Kong. Until my move, I had a stack of my old planners so I could work things out on the monthly or yearly calendar pages and not worry about marking them up.
What is the future for paper planners?
It took a computer crash and a smashed phone to comprehend there will ALWAYS be a place for paper calendars. When I’m writing, I use smiley face stickers to mark my progress. Note that February has not been kind to me.
Do we need to develop other kinds of layouts?
Yes! I’d love something the size of my current Arc system using good paper. Or simply make a Quo Vadis pack compatible with the Arc system. The Staples paper isn’t bad for fountain pens. But it’s not great either. Nor does it feature the global holiday information. Some of us have lives (or plots) outside the U.S.
What are your biggest time management challenges?
a) People who refuse to recognize writing for the time and labor intensive work it is. “You’re home, so I know you aren’t working…”
b) Learning to say “NO!” and blocking off personal and down time on the planner. I use a full year dry erase calendar on my office wall so I can see the big picture quite literally.
c) Awareness of my personal work habits. Once I worked out my best writing times (morning) and realized it was as simple as turning off my phone to wall off the incessant callers that would leave a message if it was truly important, it became a matter of scheduling exercise and free time. When the deaf retiree next door plants himself outside my open window and begins blasting Golden Oldies, pull on the noise-cancelling headphones, re-set the timer and check where the word count is on the planner.
d) Balance. It’s okay to stop when I’ve made word count for the day. Otherwise I’m too burned out to produce tomorrow. Exercise and play for mind and body is VITAL to creativity.
Huge thanks to Beth for sharing her process with us!
If you would like to be a Featured Reader here on Quo Vadis blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking for people all around the world to share with us how they use their Quo Vadis planners and/ or notebooks!