Marlo Schalesky

Besides running and managing her own construction consulting firm, Marlo Schalesky is the award-winning author of six books, including her latest novel, Beyond the Night, which combines a love story with a surprise ending twist to create a new type of story. With over 600 published articles in various magazines to her credit, her work has also been included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson’s Night Light: A Devotional for Couples, and she is a regular columnist for Power for Living. Marlo recently earned her Master’s Degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary (loves to read the New Testament in Greek!) and is currently working on more “Love Stories with a Twist!” for Waterbrook-Multnomah Publishers, a division of Random House. She lives in Salinas, California, with her husband and four young daughters.

Find out more about Marlo and her books (including a cool book trailer for Beyond the Night, an audio message, and a fun tour of Stanford University) on her Web site at Also, check out her blog, “Tales of Wonder,” at

Call Me Crazy . . .

What I’ve found is that God paves the way with a few “get-cha’s...

The kids are screaming. The phone is ringing. The laundry buzzer is blaring. And I’ve got payroll for my company spread all over my desk. Tomorrow, edits for my next book are due. Caller ID tells me the guy on the phone is one of my best clients.

Welcome to my life . . . welcome to a typical day for this “author by night.”

Crazy? Can one person really do all of this?

To answer your first question: Yeah, I’m insane.

And your second: Yeah, it can be done. Really, truly it can!

People often ask me how I write my novels with four little kids at home and a business to run. Truth is, it ain’t easy. But it is possible. It’s got to be.

In fact, John Stackhouse, Jr., sets forth two truths of Christian discipleship in his new book Making the Best of It: Following Christ in the Real World: “(1) the primary calling of Christians is to increase in knowledge and love of God and to do what he wants us to do, and (2) God will provide Christians with all we need to fulfill that calling.” Thank goodness, because my life depends on Stackhouse’s being right. I count on the fact that if God has asked me to both work and write (which I’m pretty sure He has!), then He will provide me with a way to do it, as crazy-impossible as it sometimes seems.

So, bottom line is that if working and writing is what God is asking of me, and of you, then He’ll make a way for us to do it. And what I’ve found is that God paves the way with a few “get-cha’s.”

(1) First, get-cha a laptop computer, or at least some kind of mobile writing device. You have be able to take your writing with you—jot down ideas at lunchtime, write during out-of-town trips, steal a few moments when you’re waiting for clients, and write anywhere when you get a chance at night. Mobility is key!

(2) Second, get-cha help. It’s hard to be an “author by night” when you’re doing it alone. Do you have a spouse who can take over household chores a couple nights a week while you write? Do you have a family member who can watch the kids for a few hours on Saturdays to give you a block of time to focus on your book? Or maybe you have a friend whom you can pay to do some simple chores, pick up groceries, or help in other ways to free up extra time.

(3) Third, get-cha a plan. How many words a week, or chapters a week, or pages a week (or whatever system you prefer) do you need to write to meet your writing goals? Figure it out, write it down, and reward yourself when you meet those goals.

To make a plan, decide what kind of writer you are. Do you write well in shorter stints, a half hour here or there? Or are you a bigger chunk writer? Do you need at least two solid hours to get into the groove?

For short-stinters, set aside a half hour of your lunch break for writing. And set specific time each night for writing.

For long-stinters, use some of your lunch time to mull over plot ideas and jot down notes. Then, plan a couple nights a week

to have extended time for writing. Get away from your regular work desk. If you have kids, ask your spouse, a family member, or a friend to take care of dinner one night a week so you can have the whole evening to write. Or, if you have older kids, once a week pick up takeout on the way home and have them eat around the dinner table by themselves while you focus on your book. Or if you have young children, hire a babysitter once or twice a week—do whatever you need to do to get effective writing time.

And always, always, always set aside one day a week for rest (for those of us not on pastoral staff, Sundays are a great time for this).

(4) Sound good? Well, sorry, it won’t work unless you . . . get-cha accountability!

Face it, when you work all day, it’s easy to come home, kick back, and say you’ll write tomorrow, or the tomorrow after that, or the tomorrow after that. . . . Except tomorrow rarely comes. After all, a full-time job is exhausting. So what you need is a friend or two who will help keep you accountable for your weekly goals. Find someone to whom you can report your progress, and who will ask you how your writing is coming if they haven’t heard from you. And it’s even better if these friends will also commit to pray for you and your writing.

(5) And last, get-cha gratitude. Be thankful for your regular job. Besides the money it brings in (which most likely is a lot more than your writing), think of your daytime job as a great place to inspire your creativity. Need some interesting personal quirks for your characters? Study people at work. Watch how hairstyles, clothes, and mannerisms of the people around you tell you more about who they really are. What traits are endearing? What things annoy you? Use them! Allow your work to be a place where you feed your creativity, experience life, and interact with all sorts of characters-in-the-making.

So, call me crazy for trying to run a business, raise a houseful of little girls, and write novels, too. But, hey, with God, all things are possible . . .

Beyond The Night