Sunday, January 19, 2014

We Can Do It! Cara Bristol Gets It Done

Please welcome Cara Bristol, author, blogger, social media maven, and all around good egg. She even cooks dinner on a regular basis. How does she do it? Read on...

Celeste Jones: Are you a full time or part time writer?

Cara Bristol: Full-time. 40+ hours per week.

Celeste Jones:  What other responsibilities do you have to juggle along with writing? Children? Aging parents? Exercise? A disturbing number of pets? Critiquing for other writers?

Cara Bristol:. I have a husband and a cat at home. My elderly mother lives nearby. She doesn’t require care, just company. I do have a housekeeper who comes twice month, but other than that, I do all the housecleaning, the cooking, the errands, and anything involving paperwork (banking, taxes, paying bills, balancing the checkbook).  I also try to exercise for an hour each day.

Celeste Jones: Do you have a set schedule for when you write? ? If so, what is it?

Cara Bristol:  I’m on the computer as soon as I get up in the morning, about 5:30-6 a.m. and work until 4 p.m.  In between I take breaks to shower, have breakfast/lunch. I work seven days a week. I am a morning person, and feel I do my best writing early, so I try to write first, then do promotion.

Celeste Jones: Do you have particular productivity goals for each day or week or just go for it?

Cara Bristol:  I’m a slow writer. When I’m working on a first draft, I do a minimum of 1k every day. But often try to beat that goal because there are days when life intervenes and I can’t write.

Celeste Jones: What is a typical day (if such a thing exists) like for you?  

Cara Bristol: I hit the computer by 5:30. I check email, my blog, FB, Twitter, etc., for about an hour, then start writing. At 9 a.m, I  break to shower, have breakfast, and I’m back at the computer at 10:30. I’ll take a half hour break at 12:30 or so for lunch. I quit at 4 p.m. Between noon and 4, I try to squeeze in a 3 mile walk.

Celeste Jones:  Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?

Cara Bristol: I have had as many as three active manuscripts in various stages (Aiyeee!!!), but I have never jumped between writing first drafts of a manuscript. I will always write one first, finish the draft, and then start the next one. But I’ve been in editing on a couple and been writing a third. I don’t like doing that, but sometimes it’s a necessity.

Celeste Jones: Do you use any special writing programs like Write or Die?

Cara Bristol: No. That sounds too techy for me. Plus, I’m a panser, not a plotter.

Celeste Jones: What about promotion? Do you have particular time when you visit blogs or use other social media? How do you monitor your time?

Cara Bristol: I check social media first thing in the morning. I almost ALWAYS swear to myself I will check just one thing and be on for just a minute, and I’m there for an hour. But I once I start writing, I stick to it for a defined amount of time. I set a timer for an hour and do not check anything during that hour. I’ll do a few quick social media checks throughout the day, then take a look before I quit at 4 pm. Only rarely do I check in the evening. That’s my time off.

Celeste Jones: What about your blog? Do you have a set schedule or just blog when the mood strikes you?

Cara Bristol:  I try to always post Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and have a snippet excerpt over the weekend. If other ideas strike me or I get guest bloggers, I might fill in a Tuesday or Thursday. I try to balance informational/entertaining blogs with promo blogs. A lot of what I post is driven by the status of my releases. I will go through periods where I have more blog ideas that I can use or have time to write and other periods where I feel I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with something.

Celeste Jones: What tips or pointers do you have to share to help others be more productive?

Cara Bristol: Set measureable goals, whether it’s word count or page count or time. Don’t check social media until you meet that goal.

Celeste Jones: What books are you working on now? What are your goals for 2014?

Cara Bristol: I’m in editing on”Major Changes,”  a short story in the DD anthology Milestones, I need to write Long Shot, a novella for the Corbin’s Bend series, which is due in March. I expect to enter editing on Breeder 2: Terran soon. I also need to finish Rod and Cane 5. And then I plan to write one more book this year, either in the Breeder or the Rod and Cane series.

Celeste Jones: Anything else you’d like to share?  

Cara Bristol: Where authors used to do book signings and readings to promote their books, they now use social media. I’ve done both and think social media is by far more effective. But it does command a lot of time. It is all about networking and being social, hence the term, “social” media.  But just because you’re schmoozing, doesn’t mean you’re wasting time. But at times you are, and the line is very fine.  It all bleeds together so sometimes you just have to set hard limits on what you will and won’t do.

Connect with Cara Bristol: 

Breeder blurb:
To secure his legacy, Commander Dak, a ruling Alpha of planet Parseon, purchases Omra, a breeder slave. He intends to impregnate her, produce a son, and hand her off to his anointed beta partner. As Dak and Omra discover a sexual bliss banned by law, he begins to question the traditions and ways of his people, causing him to jeopardize his command and endanger the life of the woman he has come to love.


  1. Thanks Cara and Celeste. Cara I really hear what you're saying about a fine line. I know I check back on social media too often when I'm really trying to write and I need to learn to stop that. But I still need to be out here promoting more. I'm finding it all very challenging, but I'm still enjoying learning.

    1. And the learning never stops because there's always something new. And things shift. I used to spend more time on Twitter. Now I spend more on FB.

  2. Thank you, Celeste and Cara. I love the level of discipline in your daily structure. Loved this too -> But just because you’re schmoozing, doesn’t mean you’re wasting time. But at times you are, and the line is very fine. <- I'm trying to find this line.

  3. Yeah, the not checking social media thing is key. I get soooo caught up there! I think that's why Write or Die helps me.

  4. I totally thought you were a plotter not a pantser. I've seen your sticky notes on the wall and even had the thought 'one day, I want to plot it out with sticky notes like Cara'. I'm serious!!

    Social media - some days I want t delete my FB account!!! For me being in Holland, the time difference is a huge help. You are all asleep while I'm writing. :)

  5. Thanks for sharing your tips, Cara. I think, as writers, we all have to have self-discipline to do this and I consider you an inspiration in that area. :)


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