November 14, 2019

meet the heroine of 'let it be me'

Blogger's Note: Let me take you behind-the-scenes of Let It Be Me. In addition to introducing you to the heroine, Ali Ferguson-Day, I thought I'd give you a little insight into my plotting process by sharing the unedited character sketch of him I developed before I wrote the book. Some details may have changed a little while writing and others didn't come into play. But it's still a pretty good look at the process.


Nickname(s): Ali, Fergie-D (by James only)


Age: 29 (very aware she’s going on 30)

Physical Description: Brown shoulder length hair often pulled up into a messy bun. Hazel eyes. Fair. Tall (about 5-foot 10 inches). She often slouches unconsciously to overcompensate for her height. Slender—she’s a long-time runner and a former volleyball player from high school.

Style: She picked up the all-black/dark denim look in New York City. She sometimes spices up her attire with a gray cardigan or a scarf. Lives in ballet flats and loafers. No heel. Light/neutral makeup with a lip gloss.

Hometown: Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, but she moved a lot growing up for her parents’ work. When asked, she says she’s from everywhere and nowhere. (List below under “Other.”)

Personality: She’s good at reading a room and reaching her audience. Almost chameleon-like. She’s not as great at forging long-term relationships. Sidney is kind of the lone holdout, and part of that stems from their not spending much time together over the years, just exchanging the occasional text message or a semi-annual drink when she’s home visiting her mom. She holds back from sharing too much and uses humor as a barrier and mask. She’s hyper-organized about work. She’s good at keeping people on task.

Habits/mannerisms: She slouches to compensate for her height. She also struggles not to bite her fingernails when she’s stressed or concerned. Her dry sense of humor is only matched by Jamie’s.

Occupation: Currently freelancing copy for websites, she’s also Jamie’s assistant to help him finish his book. She wants to write her own fiction books. She’s dabbled, but she’d really like one year to make it her focus, but her savings account won’t allow it. Her mother has promised to cover her rent and utilities for a year if she can get Jamie’s book turned in on time. Until moving back to the area, she most recently served as a producer for an entertainment news program.

Hobbies/interests: She's pretty focused on work, but she's a big reader and documentary watcher. She reads across the board.

Education: Bachelor’s of journalism degree with minors in English and history.

Family: She’s the oldest of four children. She has a sister and twin brothers who are three and six years younger respectively. They’re close but physically scattered. (Sister is a PhD student in women’s studies and sociology at the University of Chicago. One twin is an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Lab. The other is working on his MFA in pottery at NYU.

Usual drink: vodka soda with lots of limes.

Other: Places she’s lived and worked: Born in Manchester, NH, where her father researched Robert Frost for a bio on his time in Danvers while her mother held her first post-doc position at Southern New Hampshire University. At four, they moved a couple hours away to Salem. Her mom continued to work (and commute the great distance) while her dad researched Nathanial Hawthorne. At seven, they moved to Springfield, Missouri, where her father research LIW and RWL and her mom taught at Southwest Missouri State. At 12, they moved to Minneapolis where her mom taught at the University of Minnesota and her dad researched F. Scott Fitzgerald. She took a gap year after college, when her family moved Nebraska, where her mother began teaching. She became chair of the history department and her dad researched Ali Cather. She came back to attend college. During college, she was the managing editor of the school paper to Sidney’s editor in chief. After college, she worked as an editorial assistant at a paper in D.C., then she moved on to a magazine in NYC. Then she worked for a TV program in Boston before spending a few years in Los Angeles. She didn’t feel like she fit any of those places, particularly the last.

Her hang-up on romance: A few years ago, her parents separated when her mother wanted to stay and her father wanted to move on to Los Angeles to write biographies on some of the early Hollywood screenwriters and lyricists. They’re still legally married and love each other, but they’re more focused on their careers. Ali pretends to understand this and find it normal. She’s not commitment phobic but struggles to commit in relationships, or even to other aspects of her life, because she’s never known permanence. She claims to have a gypsy soul, but really, she’s never found somewhere to belong.


About the Book

Who says history is boring?

Professor James Mitchell has a rock star reputation. With a waitlist for all his classes, a bestselling book, and the requisite leather jacket, the university and publisher are eager to capitalize on this British sensation. But after his girlfriend leaves him for another man, James goes from rising scholar to spiraling bad boy. Forget contracts and tenure, James wants out—of his job, book deal, and, better still, the country. He’s well on his way when his boss’s daughter walks into his favorite bar . . .

Aspiring filmmaker Ali Ferguson-Day doesn't scare easily. She’s been given the means to make a film of her own—on the condition she tames the professor. As the daughter of a famed documentarian and a renowned historian, she’s more than ready to step out of her parents’ shadows and shine on her own. She won’t let anyone—not even an unexpected charmer—get in her way.
James and Ali butt heads from the start, but it isn’t long before their sparring gives way to attraction. There’s the promise of even more, if they can get past the fear of history repeating itself to let love in . . .


November 12, 2019

meet the hero of 'let it be me'

Blogger's Note: Let me take you behind-the-scenes of Let It Be Me. In addition to introducing you to the hero, James Mitchell, I thought I'd give you a little insight into my plotting process by sharing the unedited character sketch of him I developed before I wrote the book. Some details may have changed a little while writing and others didn't come into play. But it's still a pretty good look at the process.



James Mitchell


Nickname(s): the Professor (bar people), Mr. Mitchell (Dr. Ferguson)

Age: 33

Physical Description: About 5-foot 10 inches with a slightly muscular build from running and boxing. Cropped brown hair with brown eyes. Frequently sports a five o’clock shadow. Serious expression with a strong nose and jaw. Great smile if you get a chance to see it. Arms and parts of his chest and back are covered with tattoos. Most are a nod to his ties back home and to his love of history. (List below in “Other.”) He has a small scar on his chin and knuckles from a football fight from his time back in Manchester.

Style: V-neck t-shirts (mostly white, black, and shades or gray and blue) paired with a variety of moto-style leather jackets. (He has an impressive collection of both.) Jeans. Chucks. Has a well-fitted dark gray suit and thin ties he only wears when he absolutely must. He wears his father’s thick wedding band on his right hand and his granddad’s watch.

Hometown: Manchester, UK

Personality: On the outside he is serious and studious, almost to the point of curmudgeon. He doesn’t seem to suffer fools. On the inside he is a major romantic with a sharp—if somewhat dark—wit and sense of humor. All this—and his looks—make him appealing to students, faculty, and bar regulars alike. He pretends not to notice, but really finds both amusing and annoying.

Habits/mannerisms: He’s the last to arrive in class and the first to leave, always with earbuds in (which may or may not have any audio playing). He claims it is so he’ll get negative remarks to get him out of his contract, because he won’t interact with students. But a big reason he does it is because some of the students’ admiration makes him uncomfortable. His jaw clenches when he’s bothered or trying to mask emotion. He cracks his knuckles, which he hates. His playful (if somewhat vindictive) side comes out by playing a long-con practical joke on the colleague who married his ex.

Occupation: Long-term visiting lecturer (professor) at university specializing in early European (particularly British) history. Working on his second book (his first for the university press) and it’s past due. He has a guest stint on the local public television station to comment on historical Masterpiece shows. He finds it funny people consider him an expert on all British history, when his focus is medieval and some Roman.

Hobbies/interests: He hangs out at Amarillo Sour most nights. Ford subscribes to world football for him, because he’s such a good customer. He watches his beloved Manchester United there. (Will also do rugby, but he’s mostly a football guy.) He enjoys movies, Indiana Jones was his favorite. (Thus why he became a professor and wears a leather jacket—though he won’t admit it.) He boxes and runs for fitness. He would play soccer, but he has no patience for the pretenders in the local league.

Education: Pembroke College, Cambridge. He does not hold a PhD, which doesn’t bother him, but is a sticking point for others at the university. He’d really like to focus on research and learning rather than schmoozing and playing politics.

Family: His mum lives in Manchester with his step-dad and half-brother and half-sister, who are teens. He was close to his father and grand-dad, who both died when he was middle school age. He has a cat named King Henry (for the II not the VIII).

Usual drink: Loves a good cider or Pimm’s when he can get it, but usually defers to whiskey. Refuses to drink Guinness stateside.

Other: List of his tattoos: “1878” in an old-script font on the knuckles of his left hand (year Manchester United formed); a small rose over his heart with his ex’s initials in them in script. He intends to get it covered someday but hasn’t. He swears he’ll never put another woman’s name on his body again. (He does have it covered with a small symbol for Taylor in the end—no initials though, but pretty specific.); on his left sleeve he has the Union Jack and the Pembroke College shield (four and a half red birds with yellow, red, and blue markings) on his forearm; his right sleeve is the Manchester coat of arms (globe with bees, arms with ship, antelope, and lion) with the motto on it “Concilio Et Labore” (latin for “By Wisdom and Effort”) and the Manchester United logo (red devils with red and gold) on his forearm and some bees sprinkled along the way for MU. He has a sweep of wings with “Honour the charge they made” from Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” on his shoulder blade to memorialize his late father.

His hang-up on love: He followed a woman to the U.S. (They met while she was studying abroad and he was an assistant on a research project.) They weren’t engaged, but were engaged to be engaged. He started graduate school, but within a semester he was made a visiting lecturer when a vacancy opened and he proved to have more experience (plus a well-reviewed and -received book on history published). His girlfriend left him for another professor in the department. It crushed him. For a while he wanted to prove he was what he thought she wanted, but playing the game and pursuing tenure. It didn’t work. He was to return to the UK, but right now he’s under contract for two more years.

About the Book

Who says history is boring?

Professor James Mitchell has a rock star reputation. With a waitlist for all his classes, a bestselling book, and the requisite leather jacket, the university and publisher are eager to capitalize on this British sensation. But after his girlfriend leaves him for another man, James goes from rising scholar to spiraling bad boy. Forget contracts and tenure, James wants out—of his job, book deal, and, better still, the country. He’s well on his way when his boss’s daughter walks into his favorite bar . . .

Aspiring filmmaker Ali Ferguson-Day doesn't scare easily. She’s been given the means to make a film of her own—on the condition she tames the professor. As the daughter of a famed documentarian and a renowned historian, she’s more than ready to step out of her parents’ shadows and shine on her own. She won’t let anyone—not even an unexpected charmer—get in her way.
James and Ali butt heads from the start, but it isn’t long before their sparring gives way to attraction. There’s the promise of even more, if they can get past the fear of history repeating itself to let love in . . .


November 5, 2019

surprise! read an excerpt of my new, unscheduled book release!

Surprise! I released a new book today! Who Needs Mistletoe? is a holiday romantic comedy about a pair of up and coming country music stars trying to get across the country in time for Christmas. The journey is full of misadventures and plenty of banter.

To celebrate the release, I wanted to share an excerpt from the book with you. In this scene, Charlie and Flint are still early in their trip when they have to make an unplanned overnight stop at a motel in Iowa . . .



Flint opened the door to their room, and his stomach twisted. As far as roadside motels went, it left plenty to be desired. A midsized TV was perched atop a chipped dresser, which was connected to an equally scuffed-up desk. There was a chair in the corner that looked like it had seen better days. The bed was covered with a floral spread that looked like it had been around since George Strait started touring.

The bed. One bed.

Charlie stepped in around him and lifted a shoulder. “It isn’t the Plaza, but it’ll do.”

Gently setting her guitar down, Charlie dropped her oversized purse on the desk and shrugged out of her jacket, draping it over the chair. Flint remained frozen at the door, gaping at her.

“There’s only one bed.”

Plugging her phone in to charge, she didn’t bother to look at him—or the bed. “Right.”

“There’s two of us.”

“You must’ve been a whiz at math growing up.” She spared him a glance then. “Would you mind closing the door? I can see my breath.”

She was exaggerating—and completely ignoring the issue. But Flint obeyed her all the same and nudged the door closed. Not wanting to make the situation any more tense—but also determined to make her see what was going on—
Flint eased his guitar onto the floor next to hers.

Slowly removing his own coat, Flint cleared his throat.

“There’s only one bed,” he said again. “And two of us.”

Her blue eyes met his stare. “It’s not ideal, but we can make it work. Can’t we?”

“I just thought, what with you being a woman, and me being, well, me. And you having a boyfriend.” He was rambling now and sounding more and more like a square with every passing second.

A slow grin spread across her lips. “Are you blushing?”

He glared at her. “No way.”

“Your cheeks are red.”

He had no doubt they were. But that didn’t mean she had to call him out on it. Not when he was trying to be respectful of her and their sleeping arrangement.

“It’s cold outside,” he said.

“And who’s the one who left the door open all night?”

“It wasn’t all night.”

“It was long enough.”

Swearing under his breath, he scratched the back of his neck. “Look, I’m just saying I don’t want to make this weird.”

“It’s a little late for that, don’t you think?”

The smirk on her full lips returned.

Ignoring her question, he dumped his bag on the scuffed-up desk, briefly wondering if he should be a gentleman and offer to sleep on the chair. But he was wiped. If was going to drive them halfway across the country the next day, he needed to get some rest. Good rest.

Like that would be possible with Charlie sleeping only a few feet away. Even if he kept his overactive imagination in check, he’d still be sleeping next to another person. It had been longer than he cared to admit since he’d shared a bed with a woman. Let alone a woman he . . . Flint cleared his throat and shifted on his feet.

From across the room, Charlie flung the closet open. After taking a quick survey of the contents, she leaned up on her tippy toes to reach the top shelf. Manners got the best of him, and he started toward her. But before he could do anything, she pulled down a comforter and a pair of pillows.

“If it makes you feel better, one of us can sleep under this, and we can build ourselves a barrier with these.”
He threw up his hands. “Whatever.”

He was done pushing the issue. She was right. They were both adults. They could share a bed in a completely platonic way for the night.

“Please tell me you aren’t going to be weird about this.”

“I’m not being weird.”

“You’re being weird,” she insisted. “So weird.” She pointed at him accusingly. “Look at the way you’re standing there with your arms crossed. You look like a toddler whose mama just said he had to share a cupcake with his baby sister.”

Glancing in the mirror over the dresser, he saw that she was right. Posture rigid, frown set, he looked every inch a petulant child on the verge of pitching a fit. Muttering a curse, he dropped his arms to his side and tried to relax. As if he could. Fine. Maybe he was being “weird” about their predicament. But Charlie was dead wrong about his reasons.

For one, she wasn’t his sister. Besides having the near-constant urge to pummel anyone who caused her even a moment’s concern, he didn’t have a brotherly thought or feeling toward her. Which came to the second point. Charlie wasn’t asking him to share a snack. They’d be sharing a bed. The very place he’d imagined them being during one of the many times he was having less than brotherly thoughts about her.

So really, it had nothing to do with him having a problem sharing. If it came down to cupcakes, he’d let her have them all. This was a matter of his own sanity.

Flint liked to think he was a gentleman. Charlie was off-limits, which meant he’d keep his hands to himself. But darn it all, it would be like standing too close to a bonfire. You might not reach out and touch it, but that didn’t mean you wouldn’t end up overheating or even getting a little burned.

He could tell Charlie all that to save face, but then what? If he showed his hand now—after all these years—nothing would be the same between them again. That was something he wasn’t willing to risk.

He’d have to risk playing with fire and hope he came out unscathed.

Swallowing hard, Flint motioned toward the bed. “We’ll share the cupcake. You choose which half you want.”

About the Book
Charlie London has finally made it. She’s the lead singer of a rising-the-charts band. She’s casually dating Hollywood’s golden boy. And she has a publicist who works very hard to make sure everyone knows all of this. But when her band is bumped from a televised holiday concert—and her boyfriend is photographed canoodling with a co-star—just days before Christmas, Charlie’s perfectly crafted world is crumbling apart. She impulsively hops a flight to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so she can bring her boyfriend in line and get her career back on track. Her plan seems to be working until a winter storm leaves her stranded en route.

Guitarist Flint Randal has been crazy about Charlie from the moment she walked in to audition for their band three years ago. Knowing her strict policy against dating a bandmate, he’s kept his feelings in check. Until now. When grounded planes send them on a cross-country road trip—alone—Flint sees his chance to finally prove that her one-and-only has been there all along.

 As detours and disasters plague their journey, Charlie and Flint grow closer. Will the magic of the holiday season—and the promise of true love—bring them together at last? Or will the siren call of fame get in the way?

Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble (Coming Soon!) | Kobo  

***Let's take this relationship to the next level. Join my Facebook Reader Group for in-depth discussion on everything from books to our favorite binge-watches. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for day-to-day shenanigans. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter AND score a free copy of one of my books as my thanks to you. You can also find me on Amazon and BookBub.***

October 29, 2019

nanowrimo tip: inspiration

Blogger's Note: This year marks my 10th consecutive year participating in National Novel Writing Month. So far, I am 9/9 of reaching the 50,000 words mark in 30 days. As I go into this year, I'm reflecting on what has and hasn't worked and passing it along. Please remember, this is my experience and what works for me. Please feel free to take or leave any advice as you like!


Greetings fellow WriMos or prospective WriMos! We're just days away from the fierce frenzy of a writing whirlwind. So far in this series, we've already covered several of the ways you can prepare for NaNoWriMo. I've shared some of the ways I develop characters and stories. We've talked about the logistics, the ways to prepare yourself as a writer, and even some of the ways you can get your life in order before the big day.

Today, I want to share some insight on how to keep pushing forward when things get rough. Because they will get rough. Unless, of course, you're someone who never experiences self doubt and can sit down to write and let the words flow through you with no problems. If you are this person, I'm super thrilled for you. Seriously. There's no way to type that without sounding sarcastic, but I'm totally sincere when I say I admire you and aspire to one day be you. But for the rest of us, trying to write a book is going to be something akin to ripping out your heart and trying to put it back in the right place after tossing it around. (Sorry, that's a really gross visual, but I've had a beer and watched a bunch of Halloween movies, so here we are. I promise to be less gross going forward.) 

When you're in the thick of writing your NaNoWriMo, it's going to happen. You might have fallen behind on the word count goals. Maybe you're going to hate your story. Or writing. You might even just feel like you plain old suck at writing and have no business anywhere around a keyboard or pen. You're really going to want somewhere to turn when that happens.

That's where it pays to have a network of inspiration and support to turn to in those dark moments. Here are a few of the ways I look for a little (or a lot of) pep in those dark moments.

Follow inspiring writers on social media

Who are the authors that inspire you? Maybe it's someone who has written a story that gripped your heart and made you stay up half the night wondering what was going to happen next. They could be someone who exudes positivity or humor and makes you feel better every time you see their post in your feed. Maybe you just love their cat or dog and look forward to photos of them as much as anything else.

Whoever the author, and whatever they do that speaks to you, make sure you're following them on social media channels. While it might seem counterintuitive to spend time on social media during NaNoWriMo, chances are you'll find yourself there at some point. You might as well fill your feed with the positivity and inspiration you need to push yourself to keep going. Because your story matters, friend. And someday, someone is going to love it.

I'll also take this opportunity to step up on my soapbox for a moment and encourage you to unfollow or hide people who bring you down. You don't have to explain why, but if you find yourself feeling less than or defeated after you see one of their posts, you don't want that kind of negativity when you're already beating yourself up. (At the same time, don't read blog posts or articles about about why writers today/the publishing industry/sales/etc suck and everything else sucks and no one has hope. I'm sure they're well-intended, but ouch.)

Build a writing community

Maybe you already belong to a couple of online writing groups or something local. That's great. Make sure to stay connected to these people throughout the month.

But if you're new to this and still building your crew, now is a great time. Follow the #NaNoWriMo hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. Attend a local write-in. Look for people who are on this journey at the same time. You'll find people at all levels of experience. First-timers. Repeat participants. Established authors. People writing their debut novel. And everything in between. There's a lot to learn from people wherever they are in their writing journey.

You can also look for guilds and organizations that represent your genre or meet locally. I joined Romance Writers of America a few years back, and I've made good friends here in Nebraska as well as around the world who have my back when I need them.

And you can always come to me. Add me on Facebook, Instagram, and the NaNoWriMo website with username/handle LauraChapmanBooks. You can also hit me up on Twitter @lchapmanbooks. I may not always be able to respond immediately, but I'll do my best to respond ASAP.

Re-read a favorite book

Earlier this year I was struggling to finish a novel and a novella. So I picked up a book that I'd read years ago and loved. As I fan-girled over the story for a second time, I also found my excitement for writing rising again. While my stories were nothing like the one I was reading (which was probably a good thing) I was reminded of why I love books. And that made me want to write.

I finished both stories within the same week, and they're both now out there for the world to read. (Cough, cough, shameless plug for Let It Be Me and "Go for Love" in the Love in Charge collection.)

Curious to see if lightning would strike twice, I picked up another favorite read while having a tough time crossing the finish line with another book. Worked like a charm. I binge-read the book and suddenly found myself inspired to get this story done.

So, I'm going to grab another favorite read and start it these last few days of October. And I'll have a couple other on standby to pick-up throughout November during those moments when I need to remember why I do this.

It's worth a shot, right?

Tell the world

By now, if you've signed up for a profile on the NaNoWriMo website, you've received emails encouraging you to change your profile picture, make a social media post, etc. to let people know that you're participating this November. I'm here to echo that: do it. There's something super empowering about telling the world that you're going for a goal.

Better still, let people close to you know how much it means to you to write those 50,000 words this month. Get them excited about it too. When they are, you'll find you have people willing to be your cheering section or step in to give support when you need help in the real world to give you more time to spend in your imaginary one.

Be Fearless

No matter what happens, be proud that you even started NaNoWriMo. It's a brave, wonderful thing to decide you're going to write a story. Celebrate that. Go for it. What's the worst that can happen?


***Let's take this relationship to the next level. Join my Facebook Reader Group for in-depth discussion on everything from books to our favorite binge-watches. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for day-to-day shenanigans. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter AND score a free copy of one of my books as my thanks to you. You can also find me on Amazon and BookBub.***

October 24, 2019

nanowrimo tip: life prep

Blogger's Note: This year marks my 10th consecutive year participating in National Novel Writing Month. So far, I am 9/9 of reaching the 50,000 words mark in 30 days. As I go into this year, I'm reflecting on what has and hasn't worked and passing it along. Please remember, this is my experience and what works for me. Please feel free to take or leave any advice as you like!



Hey, WriMo (or WriMo intrigued) friends. We've covered a lot of territory this month. Character and story development. The logistics. Getting yourself ready as a writer. Now, I want to dig into what has become my favorite part of the NaNoWriMo prep process: getting my life in order.

I wish I could get my act together this well the rest of the year, but there's something about the deadline of NaNoWriMo (and the deadline of getting ready for NaNoWriMo) that makes me want to take control of my life in a way to remove stress and really take care of myself.

You may choose to skip, adjust, or add to any of these components, but here are a few of the ways I've done "life prep" in the days and weeks leading up to November 1st.

Take care of your health

Here in the U.S., we're already into cold and flu season. Now, I've successfully crossed the finish line while (and after) battling an illness, but it's so much better when you're in good health. (And now I'm imagining Mr. Darcy asking if I, my parents, and my medley of sisters are in good health.)

So to give myself my best odds of being fit as a fiddle (or, at least fit enough to sit down at my computer) I make sure to re-stock my vitamin supply in November (loaded with Vitamin C) and I get a flu shot at least a week before November 1 (because I'm a wuss and usually get a swollen arm for a few days after the fact).

I also pay better attention to how much water I'm drinking. I eat my fruits and veggies. I cut back on my booze and caffeine (though not entirely--I'm only human). I get adequate rest. I'll even build in time for walking or Pilates (though not as much as I should).

If I could live every month like it was almost NaNoWriMo month, I'd feel like I really had it all together. But in the meantime, taking care of myself in October and November is good enough for now.

Adjust your sleep cycle accordingly

This is going to sound crazy, but hear me out. I started doing this a couple of years ago, and it has helped so much.

Are you planning on becoming a 5 a.m. writer during NaNoWriMo? Are you thinking you might be a night owl? If your sleep pattern doesn't already match up with one of these, I'm sorry to say, but it's going to be rough that first week of November. (Rough enough to maybe even throw in the towel.)

That doesn't mean you can't become an early morning or late night writer. But I suggest sleep-training yourself a little in the week or two before. Want to get up early? Start going to bed earlier. Planning to stay up late? Do the opposite. It took taking a trip to France for me to figure out that I feel so much better when I let my body adjust BEFORE I undertake a big physical and mental change rather than after.

There's some extra good news for those of you hoping to get in some words first thing in the morning. If you live in a place that observes Daylight's Savings, you'll get an hour back each morning beginning the first Sunday of the month (which is actually the third day of NaNoWriMo). So you don't have to sleep train yourself as much as you might otherwise have to any other time of the year.

Do a basic meal plan for the month

If you're a longtime (or even semi-short-time) follower of my social media, then you already now: meal planning is my jam. I take a little bit of time once a week to think about what I'd like to eat. I pick out the recipes. Make a grocery list. Hit the store, and devote a couple of hours on Sunday to meal prepping.

Now, it's worth noting, I don't live and die by my plan. I leave a little room for changes depending on what I'm craving, but I rely on that plan as a starting point.

So for November, I think a little longer term. I make a list of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that I'll need and the best way to make it happen. I also note any days that I'll likely eat out for lunch or dinner. Again, I always leave room for flexibility, but it's one less thing to worry about.

Fill your freezer/cupboard with meals

Using that meal plan I put together, I try to fill my freezer and cupboard with the foods I'll eat throughout the month. Luckily, it's soup season in Nebraska, which makes my meal prep pretty easy. I actually already have seven different types of soup stowed away in my freezer in individual portion sizes, which will give my extra variety.

And the weekend before NaNoWriMo (so coming up here soon) I'm going to make a few casseroles to put in my freezer. As I just said, I'm a Midwest girl. When someone is sick or having a baby, the first thing we do is show up with a casserole for the freezer. I've heard writing a book can be like having a baby (emotionally and mentally, I'd guess) and some people might think I'm sick for trying to take on 50,000 words of writing on top of my day job and other projects. So, really, it's totally on brand to put some casseroles in my freezer.

Though I try to be somewhat healthy with my prepped meals, I'll also stock up on a few of my favorite convenience foods. Like, when my beloved boxed macaroni and cheese went on sale, I absolutely bought five boxes to stow away in my cupboard.

Now, I'll note this might be easier for me to do because I'm a single woman who shares her life with cats. But if you can put a few dishes in your freezer for those days when making lunch or dinner AND writing feels like too much, you'll be so glad you did.

Stock up on healthy snacks

Full disclosure: There will come a time in November when I'll forget all about making healthy decisions and want nothing but Pringles, cinnamon gummy bears, and salted caramel chocolates. But before that day comes, I'm going to do my best to eat foods that won't rot my teeth and mind.

Last year I made protein powder brownies and cookies. I've made kale chips. And so on.

Whatever your healthy crave is, make sure you have it on hand. You'll need to keep yourself fueled while you write.

Plan ways to treat yo self

Whether or not you work some pampering into your plan as a goals and rewards sort of deal, I highly recommend that you find a way to treat yourself throughout the month. For me, that means giving myself a facial once or twice a month. And making time to go see the movie at the top of my wish list (I'm coming for you "Last Christmas") or to binge the TV show I love above all else (you'd better believe "The Crown" season 3 is already in my calendar).

Make time for whatever refills your cup and leaves you feeling good and energized. It's hard to create when your soul is empty or even running on fumes.

Tackle your “other” to-do lists

I don't know why it happens, but for some reason, there will come a time in November when I'll decide my hall closet is out of control and it should be reorganized. Maybe you have a junk drawer (or room). Or you have that end table that needs to be refinished. And one day, when you're struggling to hit your word count, and the story has lost a little of that love and feeling, you're going to think, "Today is the day I finally paint my kitchen."

Resist the urge. Better, still, try your best to tie-up any of those little projects that will nag at you before November 1st.

Okay, those are probably extreme examples, but I still try to give my house a semi-decent clean in the week before November. I'll also make sure I have Thanksgiving planned out. Or my car oil changed (unless you actually do better writing at the car shop, then write on, my mobile writing friend).

Basically, think about what might become a distraction for you at some point and find a way to remove it from the list.


***Let's take this relationship to the next level. Join my Facebook Reader Group for in-depth discussion on everything from books to our favorite binge-watches. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for day-to-day shenanigans. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter AND score a free copy of one of my books as my thanks to you. You can also find me on Amazon and BookBub.***