October 31, 2014

happy nanowrimo eve

It's October 31, and that means one thing. That's right, it's National Novel Writing Month Eve. This will be my fifth consecutive year participating in NaNoWriMo, which I'm now affectionately referring to as Cinco de NaNoWriMo.

The title works for another reason, too. This year is kind of awesome, because November has five full weekends in it. For those of us who do most of our major writing on the weekends thanks to our day jobs, that's pretty exciting stuff. It's like the universe wants us to succeed. I've been looking forward to this year since I did the math back in 2011 and discovered this year would one day come. I know. I'm a nerd. Embrace it. I have.

As we gear up for another exciting adventure of writing more than 50,000 words in 30 days, I thought we'd take a brief look back at my previous four adventures in competing in NaNoWriMo.

Year One: November 2010
I wrote the first 50,000 words of my debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats. I had no idea I'd end up going through five more drafts before it went to publication, but what a ride. I crossed the finish line a few hours before the deadline and had to have a friend upload the words for me, because my Internet connection was so crappy.

I may or may not have cried when it finally went through and she told me I was an official winner.

This year is notable for me, because I decided to participate on a whim at about 9 p.m. on November 1. Another fun fact: I spent about eight days of the month traveling for work, and I wrote about a quarter of those 50,000 words on airplanes, in airports and in motel rooms.

Year Two: November 2011
I wrote the first 50,000 words of my second novel, NOT TELLING YOU THE TITLE YET, BECAUSE I'M SUPERSTITIOUS LIKE THAT. :)

During my second attempt at reaching 50K, I was less of a hermit. I had three local friends participating in the event, and we held write-ins at coffee shops and our homes throughout the month. The competitive person in me liked having someone to race. The nice person in me liked having good friends along for the ride.

So far I have only done three drafts of this book, which is a big improvement, right? I'm also still ready to tie the knot with this one, which is good news, because it's easy to start hating a book after you spend so much time with it.

Year Three: November 2012
While I crossed the finish line this year, it wasn't my best work. I wrote the first 30,000 words of a story that will have to be completely restarted, plus 20,000 words in other short fiction. None of it has been published and none of it is at all close to publication. My friends weren't participating, which meant I was back to being a lone wolf.

That said, I still participated, I still learned some valuable lessons, and I still wore this awesome NaNoWriMo shirt while I worked.

Year Four: November 2013
I wrote the first 50,000 words of my third novel, which I recently finished. I finished almost a week early, which was a new record for me.

That may have come at a cost of quality. After I reached 55,000 words, I decided the book wasn't going in the direction I wanted and so I scrapped most of it. Then again, maybe my story didn't feel right, because I was so busy thinking about the upcoming publication date for Hard Hats and Doormats, which was early the next month. Regardless, after two more false starts, I ultimately finished the first draft of the book earlier this month.

What's in store for this year? Who knows? But you can count on one thing--the cats and I will be counting down to midnight in style thanks to our Halloween costumes.

Jane is a witch (obvi) and Bing is a lion. All we need is a wardrobe or a tin man, scarecrow and Dorthy, and we have ourselves a good theme.

I'm channeling my beloved Amy Poehler and going as her author bio photo from her new book, Yes Please.

Ah, the life of a yacht captain. You'd better believe I'll be wearing that hat off and on as I navigate the turbulent sea that is NaNoWriMo.

Good luck to everyone participating in this year's NaNoWriMo. May the words be ever in your favor.

Stay connected with Laura Chapman on FacebookGoodreads and Twitter. Like Change the Word on Facebook.

October 29, 2014

thank you, t.y.

Not again. Just when you think that perhaps you've judged your rag-tag bunch of fantasy football players too harshly, they have to go and ruin your two-week winning streak.

And while some of my gentlemen put in a great effort, not everyone received the memo about how we were done with sucking this season.

Woe is me.

Since I've already boycotted naming a Prince Charming in the past, I suppose it wouldn't be very clever of me to boycott my boys again.

So, by default, my Fantasy Football Prince Charming of the week is...

T.Y. Hilton.

Dude scored me 25.5 points (which incidentally came out to being about a quarter of my total points for the week thanks to the losers on my team). He was going to be my Prince Charming of the week two weeks ago, when I was deep into finishing the first draft of book three, so it seems only fair that he finally received his due (He earned me 33.8 points that week).

Like my beloved Peyton, T.Y. has become someone I can count on. And that means a lot to me in these tough, tough times of mine. Did I mention I lost both of my games, again? My poor, poor ego.

I wish I could muster up more energy to brag on Mr. Hilton, but my heart is sad. Maybe I should eat candy for breakfast to fix it.

Let's hope the guys get the memo and show up to play the next few weeks. Otherwise, I can kiss my chance at the playoffs buh-bye. Come on, guys. T.Y., Peyton and Antonio Brown can't do this all by themselves!

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October 23, 2014

work hard and be kind

We all have those days (or weeks or months or even years, if you want to believe the Friends theme song) where we just feel a little blue. There can be any number of reasons, but for me it usually starts with disappointment about my current state in the world or my anxiety when it seems like there's nothing to do about it. And I don't know about you, but when this happens, it can be really hard to shake.

If you're like me, and you've had one of those bummer days recently, here's a little video I like to watch:

Isn't that a nice thought? If you work hard and are kind, amazing things will happen. That's not a promise you'll end up with a late night show or a best-selling novel, but can't life still be amazing?

So with that thought, I'm going to check my cynicism at the door and do what I can to make it a great day. I hope you do, too.

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October 21, 2014

nobody does it better (and i never wish someone could)

I'd like to dedicate this song to a special someone, and I think you know who you are...

I wasn't looking, but somehow you found me. I tried to hide from your love light. But like heaven above me, the quarterback who loved me, is keeping all my secrets (like the fact that I benched Charles Clay in favor of Jared Cook this week) safe tonight.

No, nobody does it better than Peyton Manning, which is why my Fantasy Football Prince Charming of the week is none other than Mr. Future Hall of Famer...

Peyton Manning.

If you follow NFL even a little, then you know my one true love, my No. 1 quarterback of this fantasy season and the past two, had himself a bit of a banner weekend. Not only did he score me more than 37 points (which, honestly, is enough to land him lovey dovey nickname status in my world), but he broke Brett Favre's touchdown pass record.

Even on his worst week, Peyton Manning has been the most reliable football player on either of my teams--this season, last season and the season before. I know I had that little fling with his brother a few weeks ago, but I swear it meant nothing. I'll never go out for a hamburger again when I have a steak at home. And not just because I don't eat meat. There's just no point.

As a reminder, Peyton was my inaugural Fantasy Football Prince Charming back in 2013, and he earned one of my teams a spot in the championship game. Granted, we came in second place, but that was still 60 bucks in my pocket!

Peyton, you're everything to me. If I was a poet, I'd write sonnets about your ability to rack up the passing yardage. I'd write songs about your audibles. You are my sun, my moon, and the stars in the sky. You, and you alone, make me cheer for the Broncos every week. (Now that Eric Decker is gone, I can't even use the excuse that I'm cheering on the star of one of the most ridiculous shows to ever appear on E!)

Just keep it coming, Peyton... Baby, you're the best.

And great news, everyone. I'm almost too scared to type this for fear of jinxing myself, but both of my teams are now on two-week winning streaks. It's still way too soon to say I'm back, but at least I'm not sucking as badly as I was the last time we chatted about football.

And as you noticed, I didn't post my Prince Charming of the Week last week (I was too busy finishing the first draft of my third novel), but I'll make it up to you this week with a bonus post.

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October 17, 2014

cinco de nanowrimo

Hey, everyone. Long time no write. In case you don't follow me on Facebook or Twitter (which you totally should so click herehere and here for that), then you probably don't know that on Tuesday night I finished the first draft of my third novel.

And of course there was much rejoicing.

Write 1,000 words, you get a sparkly star.
Finish writing a novel, you get a star and champagne.

Even from the kittens.

Please, please. Hold your applause until the end of the post. Not that I'm not thrilled. I started this book during National Novel Writing Month last year, but after I made it about 60,000 words in (most during November), I realized I needed to take the story in a totally different direction. Three times. But finally, the fourth time I started the book (in September) I found the right groove.

I'm sure that leaves all of you with a couple of questions, namely, "Are you still going to do NaNoWriMo even though it's only two weeks away?"

The answer is yes. While I won't divulge any details about the story I'm working on, I will say that as of last night, it has a rough outline and planning. And it's already started.

The devil, you say? Yes. I'm going to be a bad, bad girl and start my fifth attempt at National Novel Writing Month early. No, I won't be cheating and counting these words towards my November word count, but I am going to start writing while the inspiration is hot.

If I've learned anything from my four previous NaNoWriMos, and several failed Camp NaNos, it's that you have to write your story when you're ready to write it. This also gives me a chance to ease into my story so I can get a good feel for the tone and pacing to really hit it hard and pump out some words come Nov. 1.

I'm not the first or last person to do this. It's called being a NaNo Rebel. While I never had any beef with others who took this approach, I never really considered myself an ideal candidate for the role. Bu then I gave some serious consideration to other people who are rebels...



And I realized, umm, yeah, I could totally rock the rebel look and mind-set.

Now, this back-to-back announcement comes with a little fine print. Because my head and heart are already so wrapped up in this next story, you might not be hearing from me quite as much. I may even have to ask Bingley to come back as a guest blogger from time to time. But I'll do my best to keep you updated on the progress (because I'm sure you're all super excited for it, right? ;)).

If, in the meantime, you'd like some of my tips on plotting out a book or preparing for NaNoWriMo, go ahead and read on here.

Stay connected with Laura Chapman on FacebookGoodreads and Twitter. Like Change the Word on Facebook.

October 13, 2014

'no one needs to know'

In Hard Hats and Doormats, one of Lexi Burke's favorite pastimes includes karaoke with her friends. So do I apparently.

That's right. There I am, classing up the bar with my rendition of Lady Gaga's "Telephone." I believe I was doing the opening, "Hello, hello, baby, you called, I can't here a thing," because hand gestures and showmanship are everything when it comes to karaoke. Everything.

And, like Ariana and Greg from the cheerleader sketches on SNL who needed a perfect cheer, you need a perfect song for karaoke.

That's why it was particularly important for me to get the song Lexi sings during one particular scene perfect. I struggled with making this decision a bit. I wasn't super familiar with country music at the time (I'm still not that well-versed, but I can hang in a country bar in a pinch). So I did a Google search: Popular country karaoke songs for women.

Dozens popped up and after sampling about twenty, I settled on "Fancy" by Reba McEntire. I'd watched re-runs of Reba's TV series on Lifetime back in the day, and I felt like we had a special connection. But... while the song was fantastic, it didn't really move the story forward.

It wasn't until I was telling a friend and former co-worker about the premise of my book, and the relationship Lexi has with Jason Beaumont at the start, that she made a comment that changed everything. "She sounds like that song by Shania Twain. The one that goes, 'I have my heart set, my feet wet, but he don't even know it yet.'"

Umm... yeah. That sounded perfect. So again I turned to my friend Google to find out more about the song (my Shania knowledge is basically limited to "Still the One," "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" and "That Don't Impress Me Much). Halfway through the song, I knew I'd discovered a new karaoke jam for Lexi.

And that's how "No One Needs to Know" found its way on my Hard Hats and Doormats playlist.

For more music to set the tone to Hard Hats and Doormats, listen to the playlist on Spotify.

About Hard Hats and Doormats
Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

But after losing out on a big promotion––because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Who says nice girls have to finish last?

Buy the Book
Marching Ink

Stay connected with Laura Chapman on FacebookGoodreads and Twitter. Like Change the Word on Facebook.

October 9, 2014

let's shut negativity down

It's been a while since I had one of these posts (and I've actually written and deleted this one three times already), but until further notice I'm telling putting negativity out into the world to go fly a kite.

There is a lot of negativity out there. Maybe it's someone trolling news article comment boards looking to start a fight. Or maybe it's someone, who might have the best of intentions, writing a Facebook post, tweet, or blog post titled something like, "Ten Mistakes You're Probably Making at (BLANK)."

Just this morning I saw three posts on Facebook that completely deflated me. (I've learned an important lesson to never get online before I've completed my morning writing goals.) Instead of working on my book--which is so close to having its first draft completed--I feel bad. Like, I'm just some hack of a writer, who has no business publishing.

Instead of doing something wonderful, I'm whining in a blog post. I'm becoming part of the problem.

No one is perfect. We are all bound to make mistakes. We're human. We're perfectly imperfect. And because we're human, we have feelings. They can be hurt. We feel shame. We feel anger. We feel remorse. We feel a lot. But we also have the ability to control what we say and how we act.

I can't control the way everyone else thinks or acts, but I can do my best to control my own actions. So... my challenge to myself--and to all of you willing to take the challenge--let's be more considerate of others. Let's project positivity. Let's be each others fans, not foes.We're in this adventure of life together.

You're amazing, I'm amazing. Let's go out there and be amazing together.


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October 8, 2014

fall feast

After my (contracted out) apple picking adventure in Nebraska City, I've become a bit obsessed with the idea of having a perfect fall dinner. It must be part of my annual nesting process--the same thing that has sent me to a craft store a few times in the past week. Or it might have to do with the two bottles of apple wine I scored during my apple festival wine tastings.

My sister and I drank the first--a bottle from the Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard, where I also acquired apple butter, apple donuts, freshly picked apples, cinnamon pecan honey, and probably five pounds of belly fat-during the Nebraska football team's win over Illinois. That was good and fine, but for the second bottle I demanded a perfect fall feast.

Can you imagine it? A homemade squash soup and fall-ish salad to start. Pumpkin ravioli or lasagna--with homemade noodles--next. All finished with apple crisp or pumpkin pie. Maybe I'd go foraging for acorns, because doesn't that sound festive?

Only, that's easier said than done. I don't know about the rest of you, but I find it pretty difficult to cook a full dinner from scratch on a weeknight. I'm all about the cooking and baking on Saturdays and Sundays, but something about sitting in an office for eight or nine hours kills my cooking drive.

In the end, my lack of patience and tiredness won out and I phoned in my fall feast last Thursday.

My sister and I started our meal with an arugula salad topped with dried cranberries, almonds and a homemade apple cider vinaigrette. I actually put all of this together myself, but before you get two excited, it took about sixty seconds.

For our main course, we had butternut squash ravioli, sweet potato gnocchi (yah, yeah, two starches, but I couldn't decide), and sun-dried tomato tofurkey sausage. All courtesy of Trader Joes. I topped the ravioli with a browned butter sauce, which was browned butter with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice (I burnt it a little. Whoops).

We 86-ed including any more vegetables in this meal, which would've been awesome, but I was feeling pretty tired after the ten or so minutes it took to prepare all of this.

Instead, we finished off our meals with the bottle of apple wine from Mac's Creek Winery & Vineyard of Lexington, Nebraska, and some inside out carrot cakes (which look like Whoopie Pie) also from Trader Joe's while we watched the Packers defeat the Vikings. We also did some hard-core crafting, but why wouldn't you?

All in all, it was a lovely, no-fuss fall meal. Even if it was the faster approach.

What would you include in your fantasy fall meal?

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October 7, 2014

don't hate the players, hate the game... and sometimes the players

Okay sports fans, here's the deal. This weak I was cheated and defeated, and I'm left wondering when, if ever, I'll be loved.

Maybe I've made this joke in the past, but I frankly don't have the energy to look it up.

Though the week started out well enough with a Packers victory over the Vikings, sadly my beloved Aaron Rodgers didn't give me that many points before he decided to sit on the sidelines for the fourth quarter. I get that he needs to save his energy, but come on!

Saturday night was hard. My dear Huskers lost to Michigan State, though they put up a good fight. And I stand by that in the last quarter of the game--which is the one that matters most--the Huskers seriously outperformed the Spartans and they never gave up.

Learning a lesson from them, I decided not to give up on my fantasy teams, though it would've been nice. Sadly that decision was misguided. Aside from Peyton Manning and Vincent Jackson, no one else on either of my teams really showed up. And all of my consistent wide receivers decided to take a ginormous dump on this week.

So I lost both of my games. One by 10 points and the other by more than I'm comfortable admitting out loud.

Which is why, with a heavy heart, I announced that my Fantasy Football Prince Charming of the week is...

No one.

I just can't. If I'd managed to sneak out a win in at least one of the games, I might have the heart to declare this week's Prince Charming my beloved Peyton Manning (I still love you, boo), but I'm just too devastated by all of the mediocrity and flat-out failure.

Guys, Peyton and I can win this championship without you. And at this rate, we're not even going to make it to the playoffs in one of our leagues. That's beyond embarrassing. It's heartbreaking. It's devastating.

It leaves me wondering if maybe some of us in this world just aren't cut out for happily ever afters.


Now excuse me while I go listen to every sad song on my playlist and try to get over this heartbreak.

Not on Twitter? Miss some of my totally amazing commentary from this week in football? Check out the highlights:

Stay connected with Laura Chapman on FacebookGoodreads and Twitter. Like Change the Word on Facebook.

October 6, 2014

'if no one will listen'

I've mentioned this before (here and here), but the nuts and bolts of Hard Hats and Doormats came together while I was driving between Natchitoches and Lafayette in Louisiana.

After a day of visiting customers in the field, I pulled off my steel-toed boots and tossed them onto the passenger seat of the rental car. It was day five of eight, and I'd already managed to do a thorough job of littering that whole side of the car with notes, maps, PPE (that's personal protective equipment to the layman), fast food wrappers, and anything else I didn't want to keep in my laptop bag or suitcase.

I glanced at the pile of debris and for whatever reason was amused by the sight of two hard hats perched on top of a pair of flip-flops (my driving shoe of choice in between job sites) resting on the doormats.

"Hard hats and flip-flops," I said to myself. "This is my life."

This was soon followed by the thought of Wouldn't Hard Hats and Flip-Flops be a great title for a book? Ultimately, after writing the story, I decide that no, it wasn't, but that's hardly the point. The thought was in my head, and I wondered what that story would be about.

I popped in a CD (All I Ever Wanted by Kelly Clarkson, which I'd just picked up, because I was sick of the music I'd packed along) and hit the road, the idea of a book growing.

By the time I reached the last song on the disk--"If No One Will Listen"--I had the basics of an idea. Lexi (no last name yet) would be fresh out of college and working in an industry she barely understood (project much?) doing a job that caused her some issues. Like HR. That had to be full of problems waiting to happen. And as an added complication, she would fall in love with one of her colleagues, something she really shouldn't do. Wouldn't that be a bit of a mess?

I didn't start writing the book for another eighteen months. When I did, that Kelly Clarkson CD was my faithful companion for the first draft. And believe it or not, when I reached the end of that first draft and was almost ready to type "The End," that same song--"If No One Will Listen"--popped on. It was my soundtrack for those last few paragraphs and for those first few moments after I finished writing the first draft of my first novel.

I still tear-up when I hear it, because for a few minutes at a few crucial moments of my life it was my only companion.

For more music to set the tone to Hard Hats and Doormats, listen to the playlist on Spotify.

About Hard Hats and Doormats
Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

But after losing out on a big promotion––because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Who says nice girls have to finish last?

Buy the Book
Marching Ink

Stay connected with Laura Chapman on FacebookGoodreads and Twitter. Like Change the Word on Facebook.

October 5, 2014

five on the fifth: october 2014

For the Spooktacular October edition (see what I did there? Spooktacular. Get it? Amazing, yeah?) I figured I'd get in the spirit of fall and Halloween while sharing five of my favorite "looks" from Halloweens passed.

1. When I was five, I dressed up as Princess Buttercup--or at least my version of her--because I was obsessed with The Princess Bride. At the time we only had a taped-off-of-TV copy of the movie. One of the commercials was for Michael Bolton's "When a Man Loves a Woman." This never casesed to make me feel funny, and not in a good way.

2. At six I dressed up as a ballerina, because I was hooked on The Nutcracker. I went on to take two eight-week beginning ballet classes at the rec center. I quit immediately after the second class, because no one else wore tights, a leotard, or tutu. If they weren't going to take ballet seriously, neither was I.

3. At six and seven (don't worry, we'll move out of the early years soon) I dressed as Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. Not because I loved the crap out of the Kim Kardashian of Disney princesses, but because the costume my mother made was pretty much the most bitchin' costume ever made. Bonus: It was still relevant in year two.

4. In fifth grade I dressed up as Cher from Clueless (notice a trend of where I found most of my inspiration as a child?). In hindsight, I'm not sure I successfully pulled off the look, but at the time I felt like a baller in my blonde wig.

5. At twenty-four, I wore my most political costume when I dressed as a BP oil spill worker. I'd just moved back from Texas and was more than a little bummed and pissed about my beloved Gulf Coast being destroyed. In addition to stealing a logo from the BP website and labeling a jug of spiked apple cider "water sample," I splashed black paint all over a white painter's suit, white hard hat, and a "Don't Mess with Texas" shirt. I raided my collection of personal protective equipment to complete the look. Totally bad ass.

Fun fact: I used one of my leftover masks when I was
refinishing the furniture I wrote about here, here, and here.

Your turn: What is your favorite Halloween costume from your past?

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October 3, 2014

recycled reads: cheeky chick lit

Oops! I totally meant to offer up these Recycled Reads last week, but I forgot. I blame society (and my recent TV addiction). Forgive me.

Here's what you stand to win this week:

Fatal Distraction: Or How I Conquered My Addiction to Celebrities and Got a Life
By Emmi Fredericks
"My name is Eliza H., and I am a celebraholic." 
So begins this cautionary tale of how celebraholism can ruin one's life-- or at least one's twenties. 
Once, Eliza dreamed of walking down the aisle (at the Oscars) and having a meaningful existence (every minute of which would be chronicled by People magazine). But by her twenties, her soaring ambitions have been reduced to friendships with two people who have some small chance at fame: Danny, a gorgeous and sadly untalented actor, and the unscrupulous Dinah, who has no attribute she will not exploit. 
Oh, and not to mention a lot of E! True Hollywood Stories and The National Enquirer.
But when her boyfriend dumps her because she has no life, Eliza resolves to try to kick her celebraholism once and for all. Consulting a sham shrink and going cold turkey on People, Eliza seems to be on the rough road to recovery when the unexpected happens: Dinah's boyfriend, white rapper Lylo, is involved in a hit-and-run accident that claims the life of a beloved citizen-- bringing Dinah tantalizingly close to fame...and jail.
Can Eliza get Danny his big break as a cute but expendable sidekick in action flicks? 
Will she save Dinah from taking the fall? Or will this finally be the opportunity for the Barbara Walters interview she's waited for her whole life? Hip, humorous, and self-aware, Emmi Fredericks's sublimely witty novel, Fatal Distraction, parodies today's cult of celebrity with hilarity and sympathy.

Big Boned
By Meg Cabot
Life is reasonably rosy for plus-size ex-pop star turned Assistant Dormitory Director and sometime sleuth Heather Wells. Her freeloading ex-con dad is finally moving out. She still yearns for her hot landlord, Cooper Cartwright, but her relationship with "rebound beau," vigorous vegan math professor Tad Tocco, is more than satisfactory. Best of all, nobody has died lately in "Death Dorm," the aptly nicknamed student residence that Heather assistant-directs. Of course every silver lining ultimately has some black cloud attached. And when the latest murdered corpse to clutter up her jurisdiction turns out to be her exceedingly unlovable boss, Heather finds herself on the shortlist of prime suspects—along with the rabble-rousing boyfriend of her high-strung student assistant and an indecently handsome young campus minister who's been accused of taking liberties with certain girls' choir members. 
With fame beckoning her back into show business (as the star of a new kids' show!) it's a really bad time to get wrapped up in another homicide. Plus Tad's been working himself up to ask her a Big Question, which Heather's not sure she has an answer for . . .

I invite readers in the U.S. and Canada to enter to win these gently used (but completely loved) books from my home library. I snapped up both books in college and adored them. (I just need to downsize!)

Winning is easy! Just leave a comment below by next Friday (Oct. 10) and check my Facebook page (have you liked it yet?) to discover if you won.

Good luck!

Stay connected with Laura Chapman on FacebookGoodreads and Twitter. Like Change the Word on Facebook.

October 2, 2014

hello, have you met my friend procrastination?

I have a tendency to get caught up in the negative and forget about the good things in my life. So... I'm trying to be more positive.

Today, instead of focusing on me being a procrastinator like it's a bad thing, I'm sharing a few of the things I've done well in lieu of finishing the first draft of Book 3. (Which is happening. Just really, really ridiculously slowly.)

1. I went to Nebraska City's Apple Jack Festival with good friends. In addition to attending two wine tastings (yes, two, and in broad daylight!), a parade, an orchard while eating and acquiring a collection of apple delicacies, I also discovered I was THIS tall:

2. I took a quiz to find out which one of the Total Divas I am. AND I GOT NIKKI BELLA! This might not make sense to you, but I love it. She's my favorite. And I kind of have a bit of a crush on John.

3. I discovered the fan on my desk gives me music video set hair. (See! I was writing!) Now I feel like Queen Bey every time I sit down to write. (Bow down, bitches. #FLAWLESS)

4. I found a pink and rhinestone collar for Jane (with the breakaway feature to keep her safe) and a bow tie collar for Bingley in case the kittens ever need to look fancy.

5. I baked delicious apple treats with the apples I acquired from the aforementioned apple festival. That includes the apple crisp recipe I shared yesterday, and these little mini baked apple pies. I based them on a recipe I saw floating around Facebook last week. Instead of using apple pie filling, I made my own using the parts of the apple I'd hollowed out.

So... what have you been up to lately? Let's celebrate our procrastination together!

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October 1, 2014

crisp, crisp, baby

Friends, it's fall, and if you're like me, you've embraced the change in seasons by living on a diet that consists almost entirely of apples, pumpkins, and products made with apples and/or pumpkins.

In honor of the season, I wanted to share the recipe for the apple crisp I made this past weekend with the apples I picked (okay, paid someone else to pick--but I still bought them at an orchard!) the weekend before.

And it's easy! In just a few quick steps, I'll show you how to turn this:

#nofilter #nomakeup #blessedballer #nomorehashtags

Into this:

It's getting hot in here (so hot),
So take off all your clothes.
I am getting so hot...

Okay, I'm just embarrassing myself now.

Let's gather ye' ingredients why ye' may, shall we? To make this recipe, you'll need:

  • 4 medium apples (Peeled and sliced makes everything nice... Or something)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (Let me save you the trouble of Googling that... It's the oatmeal you buy if you're cheap, moderately interested in maintaining a healthy diet, and in a hurry most mornings, like moi.)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice (As I just mentioned, I'm pretty lazy and cheap. If you're more industrious or just have a better spice rack, grab cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.)
  • Lemon juice (Or juice from half a lemon if you're so faaaannnncccyyy.) 

What? That's all you need? This looks so easy!
(You were all thinking that, right?)

Now that we have that worked out, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and "grease" the bottom of a 8x8-inch pan (I used a pie pan, because I'm a baller) with a bit of that butter.

While the oven's heating, peel and slice those apples. As I've mentioned before, I like to pretend I'm trying to win the affections of Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle while I do this. It passes the time.

My tip for keeping those apples fresh while you're slicing and dicing (because it takes some time) is to toss them in a bit of lemon juice when you line the bottom of that pan. In addition to keeping those apples a nice, fresh color, it also added a bit of tartness you don't always get if you don't buy Granny Smith apples to make this recipe.

Once the apples are sliced, sprinkle 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a pinch of those seasonings on the apples and mix it up.

Hey, girl, err... spiced apples.

In another bowl mix together the remaining ingredients. (I hate when recipes say that, so let me spell it out: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup oats, 1/3 cup of softened butter, and a little more seasoning.) You can do this with a fork or your hands (I do a combo approach, because I like exfoliating my hands in brown sugar. Kidding! I just get impatient after a couple of minutes of mixing, and I don't mind getting my hands a little dirty.)

Sprinkle the dry mixture on top of the apples...

Ah, yeah. Like driving a Cadillac.
Or sprinkling deliciousness on deliciousness. Whatevs.

... And pop that pan in the oven for 30 minutes.

Allow it to cool for a few minutes before eating (or risk burning your tongue, but don't say I didn't warn you!). You can eat it as is, which is how I rolled this week, or topped with whipped cream or a vanilla ice cream.

And there you have it. Let me know what you think if you try this recipe. Feel free to include some of your own apple crisp tips below if you're so inclined. Whatever path you take with this recipe, enjoy!

(Want more apple recipes? Check here, here, here, and here.)

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