October 30, 2017

last-minute nanowrimo prep


Are you thinking about doing National Novel Writing Month? For those of you who don't know--or those who might need a refresher--it's a program dedicated to writing 50,000 words during the month of November. This will be my eighth consecutive year participating. Hopefully, it will also be my eighth year of winning by meeting that 50,000-word goal.

It's also my third year as a municipal liaison. MLs are local volunteers who organize write-ins and answer questions. As a ML, I feel honor bound to share some last-minute tips for those of you looking to take the challenge.

So, here we go . . .

Do the Prep Work
There may be only a few days left until November 1, but there’s still time to do prep work. Try creating character sketches and a rough outline. Even if you’re comfortable panting (writing from the seat of your pants without an outline) having some prep work done in advance (like those character sketches or a wish list of scenes or components to include in your story).

Make the Time
Look at your calendar and schedule some specific chunks of time to write. They can be 15-minute intervals (also known as sprints) or larger (like several hours). I recommend having a combination of both. I also encourage you to set aside as much time as possible early in the month. That will allow you to build up a solid base word count in case things get a little crazy later in the month. One way you can do this is by waking up an hour earlier. Daylight Savings Time ends November 5, so that’s actually not as tough to do. Use that extra hour to start your day off with some word count.

Use Time-Saving Software
I’m a fan of Scrivener, because of the organizational and plotting elements. But finds hat works for you.

Turn Off Your Inner Editor
November is for writing. You can edit later. Focus only on writing new words rather than going back to revise what you’ve already put down on paper (or screen). That’s not as easy as it sounds. You might try highlighting what you’ve already written and turning the font into white so you can’t see it. Or use a blank document each day. Do whatever it takes to focus on new words.

Use Speedwriting Techniques
Have a goal for how much you want to create each time you sit down. Also, have a good idea of what you’re going to write. Whether or not you have an outline, if you can leave yourself a note of some idea of what you’ll write, you can sit down and start writing. If you’re stuck on dialogue or a scene, move on. Leave yourself a note to come back, but go where the words are calling. You can Google this to see what other writers do for speed writing.

Write in Sprints
Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique? That means setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing completely on a task, like writing. Once the timer goes off, get up and take a short break. You’ll also hear people call this writing sprints. You can choose your length of time. Be sure to eliminate as many distractions as possible. (Hide your phone. Turn off Netflix and the Internet. Tell your cats to take a nap.)

Create the Mood
Find a comfortable place to write at home, your library, coffee shops, wherever you like to go. Make a special playlist you can listen to while you’re writing or in between sessions to keep the story on your mind. Develop some writing rituals that will help you get in the zone. Just putting on headphones helps me get in the mood.

Attend a Write-In
Check with your local region to see if they have any organized writing events. People who participate tend to be most successful with finishing their goals. You can also schedule writing dates with your local writing buddies. It helps to have that support.

The most important thing to do is find what works for you. Do your best and make this a fun experience.

Hope these tips help! If videos are more your thing, you can check out my four-part NaNoWriMo Prep video series. Check them out at Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Happy writing!


***Let's take this relationship to the next level. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for day-to-day shenanigans. Subscribe to my newsletter for monthly updates and new release/sales notices AND score a free copy of one of my books as my thanks to you. You can also find me on Amazon and BookBub.***

August 23, 2017

'smyth saves the date' is now available!


"Smyth Saves the Date" is now available in the Love Unlimited collection!

Explore the unlimited nature of love and its many incarnations in the Love Unlimited Anthology, featuring eleven stories that cross generations, cultural backgrounds, and borders. Love Unlimited will warm your heart, tickle your funny bone, and envelop you in the wonderful and complex human emotion the world calls “Love.”

Bryana Beecham - Love Letters to the Universe
Geralyn Corcillo - In Her Space
Laura Chapman - Smyth Saves the Date
Katie Leonard - SuperMom and the Theory of Mind
Kelly Cain - Summer Healing
Anne Hamilton - The Shining Girl
Zainab Muhammad Shahid - Kaneez's Bulbul
Samantha Bryant - Flygirl's Second Chance
Therese Gilardi - Paris in April
Lizbeth Durano - Starting Over
Amy Gettinger - Kiss My Sweet Skull

Find Love Unlimited Online


About "Smyth Saves the Date"
Two years after winning over TV audiences on “The Marrying Type,” Rhett Smyth is headlining his own show, “Smyth Saves the Date.” While clashing with his stern but swoon-worthy producer, George, about the show’s direction—and trying to plan his best friend’s wedding—Smyth will have to choose what he needs more: fame or love.


***Let's take this relationship to the next level. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for day-to-day shenanigans. Subscribe to my newsletter for monthly updates and new release/sales notices AND score a free copy of one of my books as my thanks to you. You can also find me on Amazon and BookBub.***

August 16, 2017

one week to go until 'smyth saves the date' in 'love unlimited

With only one week to go until "Smyth Saves the Date" is released in the upcoming Love Unlimited Anthology, I thought I'd give you a taste of what's to come. This novelette picks up a couple of years after we last saw everyone in The Marrying Type. And just like that story was a modern reimagining of Jane Austen's Persuasion, this one also gives a contemporary spin to another Austen classic: Emma.

So here's a preview, a first look at where we find Smyth and his crew as this story begins. I hope you enjoy it!


This was his favorite part.

On the count of three, Rhett Smyth jumped out from behind the flowering forsythia to surprise the unsuspecting couple.

The bride, a pretty little thing with big blue eyes, shrieked and gripped the groom’s arm. The groom, or as Smyth called him the tall drink of water on the hottest days of summer, lunged forward to protect his fiancĂ©e from their assailant. Then the camera crew converged around them.

Recognition dawned on the bride’s face, which was Smyth’s cue.

“Matt and Sarah—or should I say the future Mister and Missus—I hear the two of you are gettin’ hitched.”

“That’s right.” The bride straightened her shoulders and brightened her smile. “We’re getting married in a week.”

“I also hear you wanna make it a big to do. Somethin’ your friends and family will talk about for years and years.”

“We are . . .” The groom agreed, glancing around in bewilderment.

“You folks are in luck. I’m Smyth, and I’m here to help you save the date.”

The bride unleashed another shriek. Hopping up and down, hands clapping, she launched into his arms. Barely coherent words streamed out of her lips, faster and faster, as she tried to relay the full vision for their wedding in under a minute.

“This is one of our better episodes,” Smyth mused, as he watched the scene replay on the screen. “Attractive couple. Plenty of drama with the vendors. A secret relationship between the best man and maid of honor—revealed during the rehearsal dinner.”

“You also made the bride’s father cry,” George, his producer, reminded him from the seat directly in front of the computer monitor. Handsome enough to raise even Smyth’s heartrate, George could also deflate his enthusiasm in a hot minute. “And, you came in over budget. Again.”

“The bride wanted the ice sculpture and the chocolate fountain. Luxury costs money.”

Well worth it, too, in his humble opinion. If you weren’t going to make a big fuss about your wedding day, then Smyth didn’t see much point in getting hitched in the first place.

“We can add it to the reel, but you can’t just cut those parts out to make yourself look good.”

“Why not?” Smyth folded his arms across his chest, narrowing his eyes. “It’s a demo reel. It’s supposed to make me—make our whole team—look good.”

“But you have to be honest.”

“I’m always honest.” For the most part. “Yes, that orange dress is heaven,” and “No, that extra flounce doesn’t make your butt look big,” and “Don’t worry, it happens to a lot of guys” hardly counted.

George shook his head, mumbling something about integrity, while he flagged the episode and pulled up another clip for them to review.

Ever the Southern gentleman, Smyth feigned a cough to hide his amusement. Staging the surprise meetings with prospective brides and grooms was his favorite part of making his TV show, Smyth Saves the Date. But this was what he liked second best. Getting George annoyed to the point of mumbling, but not so upset he was ranting. It was almost a game for Smyth, a challenge of sorts. When they’d filmed the pilot almost two years ago, he’d quickly discovered just how delightful it was to get under George’s skin.

The producer was always so uptight, so disciplined. He’d actually come to their first meeting at a coffee shop in a suit and tie. Smyth had spent most of it wanting to reach across the table and tussle his hair or loosen his tie. To this day, getting a reaction out of him was on par with catching the bouquet at a wedding.

Of course it was all in good fun. Smyth appreciated everything George did to make the show a hit. After he’d joined the cast of The Marrying Type halfway through its debut season, Smyth had caught the bug. He’d always been an imaginative and organized wedding planner. Co-starring on his best friend’s TV show had shown him another side of the business, one he enjoyed.

Even though Elliot had left show biz after that, Smyth had eagerly accepted an offer for his own spin-off. On Smyth Saves the Date, he and a small crew descended on a wedding in trouble mere weeks before the I dos to help make it a success. Now here they were, cutting a demo reel in hopes of signing a contract for a third season. It was hard work, but the most fun he’d ever had.

And, he could admit to himself, he couldn’t do it without George there to keep him on task and to make him look fabulous. It wasn’t easy. With his dull dark hair that hung flat without heavy product and a jaw he wished could be called strong, Smyth didn’t give him much to work with. Still, somehow George had him looking engaging, if not cover model handsome, whenever the cameras rolled.

Maybe he’d thank George for that one day. Maybe.

Smyth was about to ask if they could edit the clip so Steven, his assistant/nemesis, didn’t make the cut when his phone rang. He glanced at the display even as the producer shook his head.

“You agreed to no phone calls. Otherwise, we’ll never finish.”

He had, but that was before he knew he’d get a call from Elliot Lynch. “Give me two minutes.”

“Smyth . . .”

Ignoring the menacing tone, he answered. “How’s my favorite retired wedding planner? From what exotic location are you calling me today?”

Her giggle came through the receiver, making him smile. “Actually, we’re in L.A. today.”

“You’re in town? For how long?”

George glanced up curiously and Smyth mouthed her name, which earned a nod of approval. Not even George could find fault with Elliot.

“We’re just stopping through. I hate to be so last-minute, but are you free for lunch?”

“Of course.” George wouldn’t like them taking the unplanned break, but even he wouldn’t be so heartless as to deny him this reunion. They hadn’t seen each other in months. She was in town for one afternoon. Plus, if he promised not to pout, Smyth would invite him along. “Just say when and where and I’ll be there—with my bells on.”


About the Story
Two years after winning over TV audiences on “The Marrying Type,” Rhett Smyth is headlining his own show, “Smyth Saves the Date.” While clashing with his stern but swoon-worthy producer, George, about the show’s direction—and trying to plan his best friend’s wedding—Smyth will have to choose what he needs more: fame or love.

Explore the unlimited nature of love and its many incarnations in the Love Unlimited Anthology, featuring eleven stories that cross generations, cultural backgrounds, and borders. Love Unlimited will warm your heart, tickle your funny bone, and envelop you in the wonderful and complex human emotion the world calls “Love.”

"Smyth Saves the Date" will be available in the Love Unlimited collection beginning August 23. You can find it on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo.


***Let's take this relationship to the next level. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for day-to-day shenanigans. Subscribe to my newsletter for monthly updates and new release/sales notices AND score a free copy of one of my books as my thanks to you. You can also find me on Amazon and BookBub.***

August 14, 2017

wild writing weekend 2017

I was pretty quiet on social media over the weekend. My local RWA chapter booked a hotel and hosted a weekend writing retreat. A weekend committed to word count and some fellowship with writers seemed like exactly what I needed. Following the rules set by our group leader, I turned off my phone for most of Friday night and Saturday. I checked my emails twice, as opposed to my usual twenty times. I logged onto Facebook once to read notifications, and I sent out one tweet.

That's kind of crazy for someone who admittedly spends too much time online. And the break was just what I needed to make a big dent on my WIP.

Hanging out with Captain Jack Sparrow at the Wild Writing Weekend.

After writing more than 9,000 words between Friday night and 5 on Saturday, I rewarded myself by logging back online. I checked the responses to my tweet. One said, “Go back, quickly, before you get sucked into current events. Just turn away and return to happy writing immersion!”

Despite the warning, I checked the news. It broke my heart.  While I was lost in my world of words about love, others were embroiled in a world of hate. This isn't about politics or opinions. It's about humanity. It's about love versus hate.

I often wonder what I’m doing with my good fortune and my privilege. In a world where people are hungry and hurt, scared and persecuted, what am I doing? Is it all frivolous and self-indulgent? Rather than spending a weekend in a hotel writing a book, should I be doing something else?

While attending RWA, I encountered countless other authors who have the same thoughts. Sometimes they're enough to make you stop writing for some time. But these writers gave me insight I needed. My writing may not change the whole world, but maybe one it will brighten one person’s day. That's not mass change and good-will, but it matters to that person.

So Sunday morning, I woke for my final writing sessions and decided to keep going. Maybe my love stories won't change the world, but they give me a purpose. They make me focus on the love and good in the world instead of always on the anger and hate. It's probably still self-indulgent. But I hope that in writing these stories, I'm making love not hate. And maybe that does count for something.


***Let's take this relationship to the next level. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for day-to-day shenanigans. Subscribe to my newsletter for monthly updates and new release/sales notices AND score a free copy of one of my books as my thanks to you. You can also find me on Amazon and BookBub.***

August 9, 2017

pre-season interview with the queen of the league, harper duquaine

We caught up with Harper Duquaine, the heroine of the Queen of the League series, shortly after she volunteered to join her co-workers' fantasy football series. Having just participated in her first draft, she was understandably flustered and distracted. We appreciate her taking a few moments from her busy line-up setting to answer some questions for us.

Source: Ana Blazic Pavlovic/Shutterstock

Change the Word: Harper, thank you for being here.
Harper Duquaine: Yeah, sure. No problem.

CTW: Let's get right into it. What exactly were you thinking when you decided to join this fantasy football league?
HD: I probably wasn't thinking as well as I should have. But I was kind of in a daze. I'd just left a one-on-one with my new boss at the car dealership. It was like being called to the principal's office for a chewing out. And I've never been called to the principal's office. I wasn't that kind of student. Anderson told me I was intimidating my co-workers, which is ridiculous. If they can't handle doing their jobs, they shouldn't take it out on me. But since it's my problem right now, I had to do something to make nice with them. They needed an extra person for their league and the girl at the front desk wasn't buying what they were selling. Which isn't very good, now that I think about it. They're car salesmen. If they can't sell someone they know on joining their football league, how are they supposed to get total strangers to buy a luxury vehicle? I hope we hit our sales quota.

CTW: So you joined the league?
HD: It seemed like the best--and fastest--way to make them see me as a buddy. Again, the whole thing is ridiculous. I'm just trying to do my job.

CTW: How do you feel about your chances to win the fantasy football championship?
HD: They aren't great. For one, these guys are serious. They've been playing for years, and I have no doubt they'll show me no mercy. Two: I have no idea what I'm doing. Most of the players I drafted might as well be named Kicky McKickerson. For all I know, they can't catch or throw footballs. Oh, God. I hope they can catch and throw footballs.

CTW: Who do you think will be your biggest competition?
HD: Frankly, they're all probably going to wipe the floors with me. But right now, it seems like my co-worker J.J. Sanchez wants it the most. And then there's their friend, Brook MacLaughlin. He has more titles than anyone else in the league. And he's a football coach. Actually, that doesn't seem very fair. The guy is a professional football person. I'm barely an amateur.

CTW: Has he done anything to concern you so far?
HD: Besides stealing the quarterback I wanted? I guess not. He's been... friendly. He even offered me some kind of funny advice. And... I don't know. There's something kind of appealing about him.

CTW: Do I detect a crush?
HD: Of course not! I've sworn off dating. I'm still getting over a nasty break-up. That's why I moved to Lincoln, actually. To turn a leaf. To get away from the drama. I really don't want anymore drama.

CTW: Right, well, any final thoughts or takeaways you'd like to share with us?
HD: Just... I don't know, pray for me? Send positive vibes my way. I really have no idea what I'm doing and while I don't care about winning the championship, I also don't want to look like a complete idiot in front of co-workers. That would kind of defeat the purpose of trying to get them to respect me.


I'll be talking more about my inspiration for the Queen of the League series (particularly the characters, settings, and some borrowed-from-real-life scenes) tomorrow on Facebook Live at 8 p.m. Eastern.

The Queen of the League series is now out in a digital three-box set on  Amazon, AppleBarnes & Noble and Kobo. Visit my website for more information on First & Goal, Going for Two, and Three & Out.


***Let's take this relationship to the next level. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for day-to-day shenanigans. Subscribe to my newsletter for monthly updates and new release/sales notices AND score a free copy of one of my books as my thanks to you. You can also find me on Amazon and BookBub.***