January 17, 2017

anticipating the worst


On one of the first frigid mornings this winter, I woke the way I do most days: with my little boy cat, Bingley, scaling my back to come sit on my side. The temperatures had dropped rapidly overnight. Id failed to have the foresight--or maybe motivation--to add a thermal blanket or trade the cotton sheets for flannel, I'd pulled the comforter over my head like a makeshift cocoon. Apparently distressed by his inability to see my face, Bingley went about tugging the covers loose inch by inch. He did it biscuit-baking style, which only made this process more laborious.

This only gave me more time to consider what would happen next. Just what exactly did Bingley have in mind once he'd uncovered me?

Several possibilities came to mind. Most involved him sticking his nose in my eye or ear. He does that last one a lot, and it's basically the kitten equivalent of a wet willy. Only he usually accompanies that with a meow, which means a wet ear AND Bing in surround sound. There was also a good chance he'd lick me. While I'm flattered he loves me and wants to show affection, my friends, there are few things that feel stranger than a cat's rough tongue scraping over your forehead. (Plus, I have enough of Bridget Jones in me to worry that it's a sign I may wind up one day dead and alone, eaten by my cats. How's that for a morbid thought to start the day.) At least I assume he does it because he loves me. The cats always have some dry food and water in their bowls, so that's the only explanation I can come up with. That or Bing enjoys inflicting discomfort on others. It could go either way.

So I stayed there, keeping as still as possible, hoping he might give up on his mission all the while worrying about what he would do. Even though it probably took minutes versus seconds, he never gave up on his quest. The cover came down inch by inch, the cold air greeting my skin, sending even more chills down my spine.

I wonder if he's dreaming about new ways to wake me up.

At last Bingley succeeded. I froze, clenching my eyes shut, bracing myself for the moment he'd get me.

Seemingly exhausted from the effort, he collapsed heavily onto my shoulder. One paw was draped over my back, the other to my chest. His face leaned forward, his light breath chilled my neck. Then, he rested his furry cheek against mine and passed out.

It was maybe the cutest, sweetest moment I've ever had with my cat. Made even better by the fact I'd been preparing myself for the worst only to have him surprise me with a show of affection that I couldn't pass up. Even if it came before dawn.

I've been meditating on this exchange off and on since. I'm sure there's a lesson of sorts to be learned here. Something about how so often in life I often prepare myself for the worst. Maybe we all do that. It's a learned behavior. Something we've picked up after being burned before. It's hard not to worry. It's hard not to be scared when you don't know exactly what comes next. It's hard to forget about past upsets.

I do this all the time. I panicked about my trip to France last April. I acted like a real a-hole to other people and really braced myself for disappointment. It ended up being one of my highlights of the year. No, it wasn't perfect, but missing a train and ending up killing time with a plate of croissants and fresh-squeezed orange juice wasn't exactly a tragedy. I also came up with my current work-in-progress while I sat in a cafe one evening waiting out a rainstorm (and protest) that left us stranded several blocks from our home base.

I mean, seriously. Check out that set-up.
Not a bad way to spend a couple hours at all.

Life is full of surprises. Some of those surprises are sweet. Those deserve just as much consideration (maybe even more) than my always anticipating the worst. It's not easy to change something so ingrained in our personalities (or at least in mine). But it's probably worth a shot.


*** Let's keep in touch! You can find out what's going on in my world between blog posts by following my daily adventures on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. I post new videos on YouTube every Thursday and you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter here. You can also find out more about my books by visiting my website, www.laurachapmanbooks.com. Whew. ***

January 10, 2017

persevere


I know it was super trendy to say that 2016 sucked, and I vaguely recall a similar sentiment at the end of 2015 and probably 2014. So it's not terribly original of me to say that last year was tough for a lot of people.

Though my own woes feel kind of insignificant when you measure them next to others, I had a few toughies. There was having my publisher close suddenly and unexpectedly and my having to figure out what to do. There was the general up and down of learning how to be an Indie author. Then again the ups and downs of querying agents and publishers to see about that side of the business. There were personal issues. And so on. Fears. Doubts. Anger. Sadness. A lot of bummery in general.

It's hard not to let all of that get the best of you. Still, in 2016, I made it my goal to believe. That was my word of the year, and I literally wore it as a badge around my neck with my inscribed necklace from The Giving Keys.


Like a good little wordsmith, I seriously considered the meaning of that word: believe. According to good old Merriam-Webster's dictionary, the definition is simple:
a :  to have a firm religious faith
b :  to accept something as true, genuine, or real 
That's exactly what I needed going from 2015 to 2016. I needed to believe in myself and what I was doing. I needed to have faith that I was on the path I needed to be on in my life. I needed to accept that my actions and feelings and goals were true, genuine, and real. Whenever I got down on myself or where I was in my journey, I'd remind myself to believe. It didn't magically make things better, but it helped. A lot. Slowly but surely, I've come to truly and fully believe that I am on the path I need to be on at this point in my life. I've come to believe that I have stories to tell and that they matter.

And in a year that had some big downs for me--and others--I still found a lot to be happy and thankful for, because I could keep things in perspective. Because I believed, I had more confidence. (Most of the time, because let's be real. I'm a tad dramatic and am quick to feel like the sky is falling--though I've managed to minimize how often I jump to that place. So, progress.)

Still, there's a lot of self-doubt. There are a lot of unanswered questions. I get fearful often and question myself and my world. Sometimes, I feel so out of control--and so anxious about it--I get overwhelmed. That's when I remind myself that everything will work out and I have to do my best. I have to persevere.
to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement
Meriam-Websters got this definition exactly right for me again. This year, I need to persist no matter what life throws at me. I need to carry on even when the unknowns seem daunting. In 2017, I am going to persevere.


I wrote about some of my goals for 2017 in last week's post. A lot of these are comparable to resolutions I've made in years past. I'm still such a big work in progress that I have to persevere, to carry on in the pursuit of being my best and doing my best.

In the spirit of The Giving Keys, I passed my old necklace on to someone else. I'll admit, it wasn't easy to do. I wore that necklace every day for a year, and in a way, it kind of felt like I was giving away a piece of me. But it wouldn't have been right for me to hold onto it when someone else maybe needed it more at this point in his or her life.

I asked my Facebook and Instagram followers to contact me if they needed a little extra reminder to believe, and I randomly selected one to send it to for the new year.

During the week submissions were open, I carefully read each message. Every person had a different and truly unique reason for needing to believe. There were personal goals, wishes for others, and desires for belief at large. While I'd known how important that word was for me, it struck something within me to realize just how much we all need to believe.

I wish I could have sent the necklace to every person who sent me their stories. Seriously. If you are reading this and are one of the people who sent me your story, please know that I truly appreciate your getting in touch and sharing your story with me. Each one gave me something to consider in myself, and I'm still thinking about the words you sent. So thank you for that gift to me.

Whether you're needing to believe in yourself or persevere this year--or maybe your primary goal is something entirely different--I wish you lots of luck on your journey.

(Disclaimer: Though the link to The Giving Keys is a referral link--you get one for having an account and can earn points by referring people--I am not directly affiliated with the company and have not received monetary or gift compensation. I just really love their product and believe in the mission and message.)


*** Let's keep in touch! You can find out what's going on in my world between blog posts by following my daily adventures on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. I post new videos on YouTube every Thursday and you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter here. You can also find out more about my books by visiting my website, www.laurachapmanbooks.com. Whew. ***

January 3, 2017

new year, new resolutions


A new year always comes with new possibilities. We hope they are good. We know some will be bad. But we carry on all the same, hoping that our futures will err on the side of good.

Maybe that’s why we do New Year’s Resolutions. I’ll admit, I’m someone who always comes up with a list of ways I’m going to make myself new and improved. I’ll also admit, I don’t really understand the origin of resolutions. Neither of my parents made them (at least not as far as I know). I don’t even really know where the tradition originated. I could do a quick Google search to find out, but that’s not really the point. Regardless of where the whole concept came from, I am a sucker for making resolutions every year.

And I suck at following through with them.

I am all about goal-setting and making lists. So when a new year rolls around, of course I have a list of things I’d like to accomplish, hopefully in pursuit of making myself better and making my year good. I also tend to overreach. I say I’m going to write three or four books, find a fabulous big publisher with a contract, eat super healthy and work out all the time so I can be ripped, and then pay off all my debt and save a bunch of money, so I’ll finally have my life/shit together.

At the same time, I neglect coming up with any plans intended to enrich myself emotionally or spiritually. I end up failing at those big goals, feel overwhelmed and end up tossing out my resolutions without much to show from them. I then go through a series of meltdowns and lazy periods filled with self-loathing and general bummery. That leads to me feeling pretty bummed about everything when we come to the end of the year and I realized I haven’t done all that much. So, of course, I have to set more resolutions to make up for my previous failures, and the whole cycle starts up again.

That brings us to today, to 2017. I could say, “not this year” or “no resolutions for me,” but darn it all, this is my tradition. And even if I fail in the pursuit of making myself a better person, well, at least I tried.

All the same, this year I’m doing a slightly different take with my resolutions. Rather than focus on weight-loss (which would be great, but is also stressful), bestsellership (which is awesome, but realistically, probably not in the cards for me this year), and deciding I’ll get my shit together at last, I’m going to focus on doing things that I think will bring me happiness and balance. I want to stop telling myself I need to be good and better and focus on doing good and making my world better. I want to be happy, not perfect. I want to live my best life and be my best me, even if that means learning to accept and love my flaws.

With that in mind, here’s my list of resolutions--or better yet goals and aspirations--for 2017.


Read 50 new-to-me books. 


I’m a big re-reader of stories, and I’m never going to stop doing that. Re-reading my favorites brings me so much joy. But, I become a better-rounded person and writer when I read other books. Bonus: I'm going to challenge myself to diversify my reading more. Last year I read more non-fiction, which really expanded my thinking. I should continue that, but I also want to read stories by authors from more diverse backgrounds to hopefully expand my world-view.


Watch more new-to-me movies. 

Like with books, I tend to re-watch the same movies, which is okay. But between $5 movies on Tuesdays and before 11 a.m. on weekends at our local theaters and my Netflix and Amazon subscriptions, I have a lot of never-before-seen movies at my fingertips. A few years ago, my sister and I went and saw bunches of movies during the first few months of the year. When I lived in Houston, I'd rent at least three new movies a week from RedBox. I watched things I loved, things I disliked, but all in all, I genuinely think it made me better. Plus, planning movie time is like planning productive downtime, which I really need.

Bake a loaf of bread every month.

I made my first non-quick bread in 2016, and it kind of changed my life. There was something so therapeutic about kneading bread and letting the smell of it fill my house. While I don't eat a ton of bread, I can freeze what I don't use right away. I hope this will be fun and a way for me to be more conscious of what I'm eating. That leads me to...

Try one new recipe every week. 

Of course this will vary based on travel/work, but I have this on the list for a few reasons. One, I need to stop defaulting to takeout/fast food, because I'm bored with my options at home. It's pricey and not so healthy. Two, I'm great at saving recipes on Pinterest to make later only to never follow-up. This is accountability. Three, like with the bread, I hope it will help me pay more attention to what I'm eating and discover a joy in cooking. Who knows? As an added benefit, maybe it will help me make healthier decisions when I eat all around. Plus, I like cooking. I just forget that.

Do 30 minutes of cardio five times a week. 

Yes, yes, this is pretty much the same thing I tell myself every year. Only, most of the time I say it as part of a plan to lose weight. This year, I want to make it part of my routine as something I do, because it is good for me. I want to find ways of enjoying these 150 minutes every week. I won't deny that dropping some L-Bs wouldn't be nice, but that can't be my main objective. I've tried that--and dieting--before. It works temporarily, then I rebel. Badly. And I do remember enjoying exercise. Not necessarily the act of it, but how I felt after doing it. I was less sluggish and had more energy. I could go for both.

Try the whole clean-as you-go-deal I keep hearing about.

I've read several articles that suggest doing a little bit of housework every day to keep you from panicking whenever you have people over. I've meant to implement something like this for years, but haven't. I still don't know if I'll be great at it. But basically, I'd be happy if I could make it a habit to unload the dishwasher when it's clean, load dishes as I use them, make my bed every morning, and take the damn trash out when it's full. These are all basic things, but I'm really good at being lazy.


Go on an adventure somewhere I've never been.

Last year I went to Nantes, France, and Western Nebraska for work. I'd never been either place. I'd even dreaded both trips at one point in time or another. Both turned out to be some of the most positive moments of my year. I am a homebody at heart, but I gain so much from exploring the world. I need to remember that.


Keep regular office hours for my writing career. 

It tends to be feast or famine with me when it comes to writing, publishing, and marketing. I'm feeling more and more like an author these days, and I should start acting like it. I need to carve out consistent time so I feel less panicked about deadlines. I need to work at it every day so I can get better at it every day. Because all of this is a craft you have to practice over and over again. As such, I need to remember that when I write it doesn't have to be perfect. I can try scene from a few different perspectives--or start a story in different places--until it feels right.


Have a regular day of pampering every week.

Rachel Hollis, one of my favorite authors to stalk--I mean, follow--on social media, encourages women to do this. Whether it's going out and getting your nails done or giving yourself a manicure and facial at home, she says it's a great way to practice self care. All too often, I put things like this on the back burner, but making an evening of it--once a week, if even for half an hour--would go a long ways for me.


I don't know how I'll do with keeping these resolutions. They're pretty major, and I know I just have to do my best. Really, what a lot of this comes down to is making a good routine for myself. While I don't want to over-structure my life, I do need to have some. Otherwise, I end up doing nothing and feeling badly about myself.

So what about you? Are you making any resolutions? Do you have any advice for me on implementing and keeping mine? Leave a comment below.

(And, okay, after all of this, I was curious. I went ahead and ran a Google search to learn more about the origin story behind New  Year’s resolutions. Apparently it dates back to the Babylonians making promises to their gods each year to pay their debts. The Romans were in on it too. I don’t know. I’m not a historian, so I’ll direct you here or here if you’d like to read more.)


*** Let's keep in touch! You can find out what's going on in my world between blog posts by following my daily adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I post new videos on YouTube every Thursday and you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter here. You can also find out more about my books by visiting my website, www.laurachapmanbooks.com. Whew. ***

December 5, 2016

score some prizes and fun with the holly jolly chick lit hop


Make the holiday season even merrier by discovering new reads from some of today's best chick lit and romantic comedy authors during the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop on Facebook.

Here's how it works: every day from Monday, December 5 through Friday, December 16, readers are invited to hop around to more than 60 authors' Facebook pages (with about five stops each day) to receive gifts and enter to win prizes.

Here is the schedule, which includes the list of authors posting each day and links to their Facebook pages in case you'd like to give them a "like" and follow along:

MONDAY, DECEMBER 5

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11

MONDAY, DECEMBER 12

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16

We will also give away several Amazon gift cards as bonus prizes on the event page. Every day that you participate and leave a comment on the main post for the day, you will be entered into the drawing to receive the prizes. Be sure to check back every day to maximize your chances!

Happy Holidays to all and to all some fabulous reading!

October 28, 2016

sneak peek #3 of 'three & out'

New from Laura Chapman, the third installment of her fantasy football romantic comedy Queen of the League series . . .


Find it on 

After rushing to the altar and moving across the country, Harper Duquaine (or is it MacLaughlin, now?) is in uncharted territory. What once seemed like a promising opportunity to advance her husband’s career while giving her some much-needed independence and adventure has proven to be a bust. By the time fall rolls around again, she’s back in a boring job by day and overstocking her inventory of crocheted scarves by night. Not even the prospect of a new football season holds much excitement.

 At least that’s what she thought. Harper suddenly finds herself the manager of not one but two fantasy football teams—each with its own set of drama. Between the added pressure of her new marriage, an unexpected career prospect, and the hiccups created by people from her past and present worlds, Harper quickly finds herself going from bored to overwhelmed.

Can she hold up under the pressure, or will Harper learn the hard way that the turf isn’t always greener on the other field?


Buy it Now 

Read an Excerpt from Three & Out

“You have to talk some sense into J.J. He’s freaking out about this whole redraft thing.”

I roll my eyes at the irritation in Wade’s voice. How like sweet, lovable, but basically helpless Wade to want me to save the day and soothe everyone else’s nerves. Even though I’m two time zones away. It’s my own fault. Back when we all worked together at the car dealership in Lincoln, that’s what I did. I fixed things. Not to brag, I was good at it. Too good, apparently.

I start the brisk walk toward campus. After looking around town, we’d settled on a tiny walk-up a few minutes from campus rather than going for something more spacious in the suburbs. What we pay for in extra rent, we make up for in gas and time savings. Plus, every work day starts and ends with cardio, which is how I’m able to rationalize skipping the gym. I’ve always been bad about going, but now I can do it guilt-free.

“What are we going to do?” Wade asks. “He’s out of control.”

“In his defense, it was a pretty big pain in the butt to find a time when we were all available to draft in the first place. Things are complicated now that we’re on the West Coast and Gio is on the East—”

“It’s not a matter of time zones.”

I imagine myself flipping Wade the bird. “No. I suppose it isn’t.”

“You’re not here every day. You don’t get it.”

Now I have to fight the urge to throw my phone into the street. The only reason I don’t is because I don’t want to have to replace it. Especially not until I back up my music and photos. I have a bunch of pictures of Blitz and my latest crocheting projects on my phone. I can’t risk parting with them in a wave of misplaced fury. I take a deep breath and remind myself that I like Wade. Most of the time. Plus, I have to be patient with him. He’s married to Brook’s sister now, so he’s family.

“What else is going on?”

“It’s hard to explain.”

“Try.”

“Well . . .” Then Wade launches into something that’s a mixture of rant and useful information.

Apparently, J.J. hasn’t been handling the changes to his environment well. First, Brook and I moved in February. Aside from the few months he spent playing in an arena league, J.J. hasn’t been away from his former practice squad wide receiver since they were freshmen in college. Then in May, Gio transferred to the flagship store in Schenectady, New York, so the owners of the dealership—the Donaldsons—could enjoy early retirement and a second honeymoon.

With his most stable influences gone, J.J. spent the summer in a free-for-all binge. There’s more drinking. More one-night stands. More shoving matches with strangers in bars. More illegal substances. It’s all of J.J.’s vices, only on a bigger level. He’s Deluxe J.J.

“Why are you just telling me this now? If it’s been going on all summer, why—”

“I thought we could take care of it. Contrary to what you might think, I usually try to handle things on my own.” I can almost imagine Wade tussling his cropped brown hair on the other side of the line. “But this morning, after we got our messages about the botched draft, J.J. lost it. He threw a chair at one of the cars in the lobby.”

I gasp and nearly run into a woman walking her dog in the other direction. Recovering quickly, I dart an apologetic grin and mouth, “Sorry.” “What did Anderson do?”

“Nothing.”

I stumble again. “He did—”

“Well, not nothing really. He told J.J. to cool down and check our Internet sales. He said it in that voice of his that scares the crap out of you.”

I’m all too familiar with it. “That was it?”

“Well . . . then he asked Dylan to take the car back to maintenance.”

It makes sense. He’d want to make sure there wasn’t any damage to the body. He’d also want to take care of the dents with as little fuss as possible before ripping J.J. a new one.

“Then he asked you to call me? So I could set J.J. straight.”

“Pretty much.”

That figures. It all does. However, understanding the source for this request doesn’t give me any clear ideas on what I’m supposed to do to help. It’s not like I can hop on a plane and smack some sense into J.J. I’m already flying back in October, and I can’t take off that much time from work. A phone call will only do so much. There’s also the chance I could say the wrong thing and make it worse.

It’s not a good situation.

“Look, Wade, I don’t know what I can—”

“Just think of something. Anything. Give him a call and talk some reason into him. He listens to you.”

 “Yeah, right. You mean he listens to Brook.” Which is who Wade should have called, come to think of it.

“Brook is my next call if you won’t help. But you’d be surprised by how much stock J.J. puts in you. I know I’m asking a lot—”

“You’re asking for a miracle.”

“Maybe, but please.”

The way he says it—his voice so wistful—is more than a request. It’s a last-ditch plea. Like Princess Leia telling Obi-Wan he’s her only hope. And, man, I need to make some less nerdy friends if that’s the first analogy to come to mind. I’m practically a female version of any given member of the league these days. My heart pings as I think about those guys. They’re more than my buddies. They’re my family. Not just the one’s I’m related to by blood or marriage.

Family comes through when you need them.

“Okay. I’ll talk to him.”


*** BARGAIN ALERT *** To celebrate the new release, for a limited time, you can pick up the first two stories in the series for only 99 cents each. EBooks First & Goal and Going for Two are available for only 99 cents each. ***


In Laura Chapman’s Queen of the League series, Harper Duquaine joins a fantasy football league to prove she can hang with the guys. Only problem: she doesn’t know a sleeper from a keeper (or any of the other lingo thrown her way). Her competitive streak soon emerges, and she catches the interest of her top two competitors. With a slew of conflicting advice in her real and fantasy worlds, Harper must figure out how to play the game and come out a winner.

First & Goal 

Going for Two 

About the Author 

Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, Going for Two, Three & Out, and The Marrying Type.  Her holiday novellas Making Christmas and What Happens at Midnight will be released on November 8, and are now available for pre-order. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Connect with her online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube and on her website at www.laurachapmanbooks.com.