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.***

October 22, 2019

nanowrimo tip: writing 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!


How are we feeling future WriMos? We're just a couple weeks away from the big month, and I don't know about you, but I'm a mix of excitement and nerves at the prospect of getting 50,000 words done in a month. Even after nine years of doing this, it's always the same for me: hope and a bit of worry. If you're in the same boat, don't worry. The good news: You're not alone. The bad news: It doesn't totally go away. But here's another bit of good news: You can use that to work for you.

So far this month we've discussed ways you can prepare for National Novel Writing Month by developing your characters and story as well as taking care of some logistical business. Today, let's focus on some of the things you can do from a writing standpoint to get yourself in fighting condition by November 1.

Do practice sprints

One of my tried and true ways to get a lot of words down during November is to do a series of writing sprints every day. Sprints are just that: short timed writes aimed at getting words done in bursts instead of during long periods of time sitting at your computer. (Actually. You can do sprints during the long periods too.) I typically try to do two or three sprints of 15 to 20 minutes, with five-minute breaks in between, when I sit down for a writing session.

But something I've noticed is that the number of words I write during these sprints gets bigger as the month progresses. The reason? I'm in better writing shape. If you think about writing a book as a marathon, it makes sense that the more you do it (and the more consistently you do it) the better the process will go for you.

I suggest conditioning yourself to get big word counts in November by doing practice writing sprints in the days or even weeks leading up to November 1. Try varying the lengths of time for your sprints and see if there's a specific sweet spot that works best for you. You can do a couple of practice scenes that won't necessarily go into your story (or will if you're a NaNo Rebel who isn't starting at 0 words in your story on November 1). If you're still working on your character sketches or outline, you can work on writing those during your sprints too. Just do something that exercises the writing portion of your brain.

I wish I'd come up with this idea years ago, but it's actually only been in the past year. A friend pointed out (wisely) that I was expecting a lot of myself thinking I could sit down one day and write 5,000 words after going weeks and weeks without writing a word. She was right. I did a few days of writing before that big marathon day, and by the time it rolled around, I was ready for it. That's not to say it wasn't hard and a lot of work, but I did it. And I'm not really sure I could have if I hadn't practiced.

Practice turning off your internal editor

You're going to hear people suggest you ignore your internal editor a lot during the month of NaNoWriMo, and they're right. While both writing and editing require analytical skills, your internal editor is much more rigid than your internal writer. It's difficult to write freely when you're worrying about every word you write down. More, it can be paralyzing: the fear of screwing up.

This is where I'm going to share a tip I received from Jennifer Probst's Write Naked. She has a Post-it note next to her desk with the phrase "permission to suck" written on it. I've borrowed this for myself (and even made a little cross-stitch that's hanging prominently). All too often, we worry about being perfect and perfection is a tough goal.

So like conditioning yourself to write every day with sprints, practice free-writing without worrying about if the sentences are perfectly structured or you have the exact word correct. Just write with abandon and remember you can edit it all later.

And as a way to keep writing without stopping, remember it's okay to write fake words in place of names or words that you're struggling with. I read a blog post or article by Lauren Layne a couple of years ago where she mentioned using "TK" whenever she was stuck. It was a reminder to her, during editing, that she needed to look up the name of the minor character or to add a little more color or information. But at the time, she left it at "TK" to avoid losing the flow. I've been doing that ever since, and it works great.

Create a space for writing

While I'm a big fan of shaking up my writing location by hanging out on my couch (or even my bed or bathtub at home) or going to a coffee shop to get in some words, I also like to have a place that serves as my home base. This is where you can keep your notes and supplies as well as do some (or all) of your daily writing.

It doesn't have to be a big space. I've read that Jennifer Weiner has a desk set up in her closet, a carryover from when she was living in a tiny apartment. While I'm lucky to have a lovely office now, when I was in my own apartment days, I carved out a corner of a room to place my desk and a board where I could post ideas or bits of inspiration.

My writing space is where I go when I'm starting my day and where I like to finish out. I use it as a place to organize my thoughts about what I'll be writing. It also creates a daily habit that turns on a switch in my brain that says "it's time to think about writing."

Schedule advanced content for blogs/social media

If you're a writer with an active social media following, pre-creating and scheduling content for your various channels is maybe one of the nicest gifts your current self can give to your future self. While I try to do this year-round, I take extra pains to schedule out content before November.

This helps for a couple of reasons. 1) I don't have to put on my marketing hat as often, which means I can leave on my writing hat. 2) It's one less distraction to have in November.

That second point is my biggest issue. While I'm definitely an achiever, I'm also a procrastinator. I find it all too easy to say "I'm not going to write my book right now, but look, I'm creating Facebook posts, which means I'm still being productive." I mean, I'm not totally wrong here. My social channels are important ways for me to keep in touch with my readers. But during November, I need to keep most of my attention on my book when possible.

To schedule out advanced content, I start by looking at the calendar and brainstorming what can go on each day. Sometimes I'll go with themes (Monday Motivation, Teaser Tuesday, etc.). Others might be geared toward a specific story that needs to be marketed. From there, I pull or create the content (such as graphics, images, and texts) and I go through and schedule day by day.

Pro tip: Start with one post for each week. That way, if you don't get all the way through your list, you'll still have content up at least once a week instead of completely fizzling out mid-month.

Organize your writing supplies

Raise your hands if you're a writing supply junkie. [raises hand] Hello and welcome. You've found your crew. If you're like me, then there was nothing more exciting than picking out new notebooks, pens, and folders as you were heading back to school.

I like to do the same for NaNoWriMo. I make sure to have a full supply of the pens and graph paper I like to use for writing. I'll also pick up some extra candles, because they're part of the writing ritual I often set for myself.

Not only is it nice to know you'll have the supplies you like for writing on hand, but it's also a way to get yourself thinking about and excited for the month. Writing 50,000 words in a month isn't easy. Every chance you can take to add some enthusiasm and energy to the process helps.


***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 18, 2019

nanowrimo tip: how to hold a great write-in

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!


One of the best parts about National Novel Writing Month is the way it takes a normally solo venture and turns it into a group activity. Whether or not you're an extrovert or an introvert who sometimes likes to know she isn't alone in this world (that's me!) or just someone who needs a little inspiration to get those words down, hosting a write-in is a great way to not only boost your word count but to get to know or spend time with local writers in your community.

I've hosted a variety of write-ins during my time as a Municipal Liaison as well as for fun. Some of the write-ins have been regular gigs where people are encouraged to get together and write during a set amount of time and at their own discretion. Others have been a bit more organized. However, wherever, and whenever you plan to hold your write-in, here are some suggested ways to make it memorable and productive.

Tips for Hosting at Great Write-In


Pick a Place with Good Space

If you're having an intimate gathering with a few friends, meeting at one of your homes is a super cozy and great location. However, if you're hoping to bring in a dozen or more people (and particularly if they're people you don't know) making arrangements to work in a larger public space is a good way to go. We've worked at coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, and even a museum. In all of these situations, I contacted the mangers of the locations first to reserve space and to let them know what's going on.

And while I am a big fan of writing at Starbucks, when it comes to hosting community events, I aim to work with local businesses. It's a great way to show support and to raise awareness and interest from community partners. If you are working at a business, encourage good etiquette amongst your fellow writers. I haven't had too many problems in the past, but I like to make a good impression so we'll be invited back.

Encourage a Casual Dress Code

I know not everyone is comfortable wearing sweatpants and leggings in public, but if you're planning on staying put for a long time, you'll be grateful you did this. I also try to dress in layers. You never know how hot or cold a place will be on any given day, and it's nice to be able to add or remove a scarf and sweater as the temperatures fluctuate.

Lead Writing Sprints

In a lot of write-ins, I encourage people to write at their own pace. But, some of your fellow writers will appreciate having a little guidance and motivation to get those words down. That's where sprints come into play. Plan on holding a series of timed writes at varying intervals with short breaks. For a two-hour write-in, I typically aimed for a schedule like this (using the time as an example):
7 p.m. - Gather
7:15 - Sprint 1 (15 minutes)
7:30 - Break
7:35 - Sprint 2 (20 minutes)
7:55 - Break
8 - Sprint 3 (25 minutes)
8:25 - Break
8:30 - Sprint 4 (20 minutes)
8:50 - Wrap it Up
I also made sure to tell participating writers they didn't have to do the sprints if they wanted to work at their own pace, but several of us did benefit from these timed writes.

Give a Little Swag

If you're a municipal liaison, you can usually request swag, such as stickers or bookmarks, from NaNoWriMo. I have also worked with MLs who gave away notebooks (and I did folders with word trackers and pencils one year). Maybe my favorite giveaway (and one that was super easy and inexpensive to put together with Halloween candy sales) were themed candy bags. I printed off these sayings on colorful paper and placed them in small baggies with the correlating candies. You can go your own route with something else, but you're welcome to use mine too. Not only do they make for writing fuel, but I thought it was a cute way to offer up a little encouragement to fellow writers.

Hold a NaNoWriMo Fundraiser

During bigger writing events, my fellow writers and I have held drawings for donated raffle prizes with the proceeds going back to support NaNoWriMo. It's a great way to pool your resources together to support the non-profit organization.


Have you ever had an official or unofficial write-in? What were some of the things you did for your event? What's something you'd like to try?



***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 16, 2019

nanowrimo tip: how to go on a writing adventure

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!


One of my favorite National Novel Writing Month traditions is my annual Writing Adventure. An idea that popped into my head on a random Saturday back in 2014, I've held at least one Writing Adventure every November (and sometimes on other dates throughout the year) as a way to keep things interesting and boost my word counts.

I briefly discussed my Writing Adventures in the last post, but here's how they work: after setting a word count goal for the day, I make a list of four or five of my favorite places to write. I divide my total goal by the number of places. So, say I want to write 6,000 words and I have four locations, I come up with 1,500. Then, I go to the first place on my list and once I hit 1,500 words, I pack up and go to the next and so on until I've reached my word count goal. This tends to work with me for a few reasons:

  • It breaks down a big goal (6,000 words) into something more manageable (1,500).
  • It keeps me from getting bored and distracted at one place too long (Who has time for updating Facebook and Twitter when you're on the move?).
  • It also acts as a way to give myself bigger breaks between sprints without giving myself too long of a break. While I normally try to give myself five-minute breaks between 20-minute (or so) writing sprints, I get pretty tired after about three sprints. That's when I tend to give myself too long of breaks (like two hours). By moving to a new location and theoretically ordering a coffee or a snack, I end up having about 15 to 30 minutes between my next series of sprints. This gives me time to think about what I'll write next and refresh my brain without totally tearing myself out of the writing mind-set.
While I don't always have total success with my Writing Adventures, I do usually end up writing at least 4,000 words, which I'll never complain about.

Does this sound like something you might be interested in trying? Here are some of my tips on ways to have your own Writing Adventure.

How to DIY a Writing Adventure


Set a Realistic Goal

I'm a big believer in reaching for the stars, but if you've never written more than 1,000 words in a day, then setting a goal of 10,000 words for the day might be a bit big for your first time out. Try setting a goal for 2,000 words instead. While that'll still be a stretch, it's still doable.

Location, Location, Location

This is a rule in real estate for a reason. Make sure you choose places where you know you can write. If you're someone who is lucky enough to be able to write anywhere, then you're fine. But if you need a more quiet environment, look for bookstores or libraries. I also suggest picking places where you've been before, because you have a proven track record of getting words down there.

Hydrate

It's easy to overdo the amount of caffeine you drink during NaNoWriMo as it is, but it's even easier during a Writing Adventure. I suggest packing along a water bottle and refilling it regularly. It'll keep you from drinking way too much coffee (which usually makes it harder for me to write) while also having the added health benefits of hydration. Also, make sure to work a meal or two into your schedule if you plan on writing most of the day.

Pack Everything You'll Need

Do you like to curl up in a big blanket scarf while you write? Do you need a notebook and pen to do some longhand between typing sessions? Does your computer battery only hold a charge for an hour? Think about everything you like to have while you write (and everything you might need) and pack it up to take along. Otherwise, you might find yourself distracted thinking about the item you're missing, or take unplanned breaks to go pick it up, which will take you out of the writing zone. I need all of these things, plus a pair of headphones to help me cut out distractions while I work. I also sometimes like to throw a few hard candies or throat lozenges into my bag.

Give Yourself a Challenge

This is inspired by the NaNoWriMo Dares, but make a list of potential writing prompts to work into your story as a fun challenge. I've opened this up to readers in the past as a way to keep things extra interesting. For example, when writing Let It Be Me I had a reader suggest I write about kumquats and persimmons and another suggest I use the phrase "painted me like a Picasso." I found a way to work both of those into the story. 

Track Your Progress

The first few times I did this, I used a sheet of notebook paper to make a list of my writing locations and to track how many words I wrote. But now that it's a regular thing, I've created a worksheet. You can download it for free here to use in your own Writing Adventure.


So what do you think? Does this sound like something that might help you with your word count goals? Do you think you'll give it a shot? If you do, please let me know. I'd love to hear how it works out for you.


***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 14, 2019

nanowrimo tip: logistics

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!


Okay, folks. We've talked about character development. We've even worked on our plots a little. Now it's time to get into the business side of National Novel Writing Month: logistics. I mean, what kind of a planner would I be if I didn't


Launch your official profile/book page

If you haven't already, sign-up for an account with NaNoWriMo and create your profile. Even if you're a past WriMo, go and check out the newly launched website. Heads up: they're still working out a few glitches. (Exp. It says I've won 10 years, but my streak is only six, which has my reward-focused self a little twitchy. But I'm learning to be chill and patient until it's fixed. Ha!) Familiarize yourself with the site and share a little about yourself by personalizing the page. (Most of the old info didn't transfer, so we're all getting a fresh start.)

You can also click "Announce New Project" to build your book's page. I'm semi-superstitious (but not fully, because it's bad luck to be superstitious) so I only share a few details. I'm actually getting a little crazy and sharing the working title for my NaNoWriMo project, but I've used stand-ins or acronyms before.

And, hey, if you want to build your Buddy List, please go ahead and add me. My user name is LauraChapmanBooks.


Create a writing schedule

If you're not someone who already writes every day (or you're someone who wants to write even more a day) schedule in time to make sure this happens. I start by printing out a calendar for the month of November. I write in times when I know I won't be able to write (like from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays I'm at work or a Saturday I have a book signing or RWA meeting).

Then, I look to see when my best time(s) of each day will be to write. I also check for local write-ins and if they work with my schedule. I add these times into my Google calendar and set notifications. While I will likely do more writing at other times throughout the month, but I like reserving an hour or more every day when I know I'll write.

Here's my first go at scheduling at this November:



Once it's on the schedule for November, I'm protective of that time. If someone asks me to do something later, unless it's really important, I'll tell them I have a conflict. It's way too easy for me to say "I'll just write later" but in November, I like to guard that time as well as I can.


Set mini goals

Let's face it: 50,000 words feels like a lot to do in one month. And if you're here in the U.S., we have Thanksgiving, which usually means a few days unavailable for writing while you hang out with the family.

To counteract that feeling, I set smaller goals for myself to accomplish throughout the month. Looking at my writing schedule, I'll set daily and weekly word count goals based on how much time I have at my disposal for writing. I tend to set the biggest word counts earlier in the month. While writing 1,667 words a day will get you to the finish line by November 30, I find that I'll do my biggest word counts early on when everything is exciting and new.

I have friends who will also give themselves rewards for meeting these mini goals. They'll get a manicure or go see a movie. Those kinds of rewards don't usually work for me. (If I really want something, I'll just get it or go do it.) Instead, I use a sticker chart to reward myself for meeting goals. I give myself one sticker every time I write 1,000 words.

If you're a goals/rewards person too, try coming up with something you'll find both inspiring and helpful.


Build in one full day to write

This might be one of the trickier tips on this list, but it's been one of my favorite must-do practices. For the past couple of years, I pick one full day in November to set aside for writing. I let people know not to contact me unless there's a major emergency (football games don't count as emergencies). I try to stay offline. I don't turn on my TV (until the very end of the day), and in some instances, I won't even make my own meals for the day. (I am strange. Somehow even turning on my stove signifies to me that it's time to clean, and before I know it, I've lost several hours of writing time.)

For one full day, it's just me and my words. Last November, I wrote almost 8,000 words, which was a personal record for me. I did another one in June, and I wrote more than 10,000 words. It wasn't easy. And I was in prime fighting/writing condition. And having done it, I'll tell you, there is very little more gratifying than seeing you've written a huge chunk of your book or story.

(I'll also note that I am lucky and privileged to have a job that allows me to take time off when needed and to have full weekends in most cases, which is when I tend to plan these days. I also live alone, which cuts out on distractions. But even if you can take half a day and declare it a "DO NOT BOTHER ME OR ELSE" you can put up some good word counts.)


Plan a writing adventure

Apart from the one day of the month I like to set aside for a full day of writing at home, I also like to schedule myself a writing adventure each November. The idea for this just came to me one Saturday morning several Novembers ago (while I was writing Going for Two). I'll walk you through the details, but basically it's the opposite of a full day writing at home.

Here's how it works: I create a list of four or five of my favorite writing locations around town. This usually includes a coffee shop (where I begin the day), a bookstore, a cafe (for lunch break), and a library. I set a word count goal for each location, and once I hit it, I move on to the next. So, say I want to write 6,000 words in the day. I'll stay in a location until I reach at least 1,500 words.

To make it even more interesting, I'll sometimes ask readers or friends to give me a couple of "challenges" to work into my story. Think of it like the NaNoWriMo dares. For example, a couple years ago, a reader suggested I use the phrase "painted me like a Picasso" somewhere in my story. And so I worked it into the book. (Does anyone know which one?)

I typically do my writing adventure halfway through the month or when I can feel myself losing a bit of interest. Not only does it spark some more fun into my story, but it usually gives me some solid word counts.

You can actually download a copy of the worksheet I use to plan my adventures (and track my writing process) on my website at https://laurachapmanbooks.com/for-writers/. Just scroll down to "Free Downloads from Me to You." I'll also share my tips for planning a most excellent writing adventure in a blog post later this month.


***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 8, 2019

nanowrimo tip: story development

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!


Once I have the characters figured out in my story, I turn toward developing the story. Now, some of this does involve plotting, which isn't everyone's cup. Good news: Most of my story development steps are plotting free. They'll still do wonders to help get you thinking about the journey your characters will take.

And knowing where your characters are headed--even if you don't know the entire journey or destination--helps when you sit down to get some words on paper or screen.


Create a mood board

For fellow crafting nerds like me, this is maybe one of the most fun ways to get in the spirit for a new book. Whether you cut out pictures from magazines, create a Pinterest board, or save a few photos to your Scrivener document, it can be helpful to have pictures of characters, settings, and other elements involved in your story.

My favorite book mood board was the one I made for Going for Two. It's super spoilery if you haven't read the book, but you can take a look if you dare.


Curate a playlist

Remember yesterday when I said making a mood board was maybe the most fun thing ever? Well, I might have lied. Or it might be a draw. But I absolutely love creating a playlist for each of my stories.

For me, the playlist begins almost as early as the idea for my story. It starts with a song or two and grows and gets smaller throughout the plotting, writing, editing, and publishing process.

Sometimes I pick songs that remind me of the characters (like their very own theme music). Sometimes songs represent a scene or point in the story. Other times, they're songs that just really resonate with the mood of the story.

I listen to the songs on my playlist over and over while I write. And as I do, they put me in the mindset of where I need to be when I write. Then, after the story is ready to go to print, I share the playlist with readers as a bonus.

You can find the playlists for each of my books on my website. Just select the book of your choice and scroll down to "Listen".


Write a book blurb

For those unfamiliar with the terminology, a book blurb is the book description you read on the cover of the book or the description you read when scrolling on line. While it's usually seen as a marketing tool for readers, it can also be a good way to sell the story idea to yourself. More, it's a way for you to really think about and understand what your book is about.

In it you focus on the characters (and those goals, motivations, and conflicts we talked about earlier) and how they might clash with each other to tell your story.

I also like that writing a blurb early in the process helps me get excited about the story. It helps me visualize those words on a book or online. That makes it feel more real.


Make a scene wish list

If you're like me, then sometimes you imagine certain situations or scenes you'd like to see your characters tackle before you even totally know where you're going. Keep a running list of those ideas in a notebook or on your notes app.

You don't have to include them in your story, they can be super helpful when you're trying to figure out what happens at next. You'll be especially thankful to have a few ideas tucked away when you get to the middle section of your book. While the beginning and ending tend to be more exciting to write (and plan out) you want the middle to sing, too. That's where your wish list comes into play.


Outline the plot

Pantsers, look away. But if you're a plotter like me, than plotting out your story in advance is a must. I don't usually write the most detailed outlines. Usually it's just a short paragraph about each scene that covers the big plot points that need to happen to move the story ahead.

For my last few books, I've started using beat sheets to help navigate the story. If you're interested in writing romance, I highly recommend Gwen Hayes's Romancing the Beat. I took an online workshop with her a couple years ago, and it really helped me think about the expectations readers have when it comes to making a love story bloom. You can find them for other genres too.


***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 3, 2019

nanowrimo tip: character development

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!


I'll forever come back to the same tip I read in the first fiction-writing craft book I picked up. "Story is what happens to character." That's what James V. Smith Jr. wrote in The Writer's Little Helper, and I've taken it to heart the past decade.

It makes sense, right? Pride & Prejudice could've easily been a story about dances and fine country estates if not for Lizzie and Darcy being there to show us the complexities of the 19th century British class structure (and to make us swoon). Stars Wars would've been big spaceships and little spaceships firing back and forth at each other without the likes of the Skywalkers (and Han Solo, another swoon). And Goonies would've been a walk in the sewers if we didn't have a rich cast of developed characters who made us care about whether or not they would survive their treasure hunt and stay in their homes.

So I'll repeat it: Story is what happens to characters.

That's why I begin all of my stories by taking time to develop characters. The times I haven't done this, I've found myself getting stuck wondering "What would this character do now that they're here?" (And, full disclosure, sometimes I still screw up the decision on my first attempt, but it's easier to know what does and doesn't work when I edit.)

There are plenty of ways to develop dynamic characters to guide your story. Here's how I do it. (As with any tips I offer from here on out, please take them or leave them as you like.)

Know your characters’ GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict)

This hails from Debra Dixon's book, but establishing your characters' internal and external goals, motivations, and conflicts is probably the best way to not only understand your characters but the journey you'll send them on.

For example, in my book Let It Be Me, James (the hero) had a GMC that looked like this:

Internal
  • Goal: Find peace on his own. Get his groove back. 
  • Motivation: His ex. She still has a hold on him, which makes him doubt his heart even more. 
  • Conflict: Despite his best efforts, he can't get his new assistant out of his head.

External
  • Goal: Get fired so he can move back to the UK. 
  • Motivation: His ex married his colleague and it pains them (and makes him feel like a loser) to see them together. 
  • Conflict: He’s the department’s golden boy. Nothing he does will get him fired. And now he has a new assistant who is determined to keep him on track.

From there, I was able to get how he would interact in any given scene and why he might act the way he did.

Make before and after charts for your characters

Another way to think about the journey your characters will take is to make a T-chart with "Before" on one column and "After" on the other. From there, it goes pretty much how it sounds. In the first column, list where you character is at the beginning of the story. In the second column, put where you see them after.

I can't really use one of my own books without spoiling the story, so let's go with one of my favorite TV shows. At the beginning of 30 Rock, Liz Lemon is working on a weekly, live TV show ala SNL (which doesn't get great viewership). At the end, she's running a sitcom that seems to be successful. And in the beginning, she's dating the awful Dennis and wants to have a family. At the end, she's married to James Marsden and has adopted two children who are pint-sized versions of Jenna and Tracey.

Still have questions? I go into more detail about how it works in this blog post.

Create a basic character sketch

This is where you can get to know your characters on an even deeper level. This is where you decide everything from what your character looks like to the way they take their coffee. You can take it even deeper by delving into their backgrounds. Did they go to school? For how long and where? What was life like for them growing up? What's their best memory? Their worst.

Even if some of the details in your sketch never directly come into play in your manuscript, it helps you know how they might react--what they'll think, say, and do--at different points in the story.

You can find templates for character sketches by doing a Google search. I'm actually giving this one from Lauren Layne a shot for my NaNoWriMo story. (I like to shake things up and try new things to find out what does and doesn't work for me--always.)

Give your characters transitive verbs

This tip comes from the wonderful Damon Suede. (His writing advice and books are phenomenal. Check him out.) He recommends picking a transitive verb that sums up your character's journey. A transitive verb is an action verb that needs a direct object to make it work.

So, thinking again of Let It Be Me, when it came to giving Ali a verb, I said "Ali manipulates." And that guided the way I had her tackle everything that came across her plate.


Those are my tips for developing your characters. 
I'll be back on Tuesday with some more tips on plotting your story for NaNoWriMo.


***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 1, 2019

here's to nanowrimo year 10


I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw a post from one of my friends. It read something like "Day 1 of National Novel Writing Month done with more than 3,000 words written." 

It was November 1, 2010. I was sitting in a one-bedroom apartment just off the Interstate north of Downtown Lincoln and still adjusting to my life back in Nebraska. After living in Texas for more than a year, it was weird being back sooner than I expected and working in the office I'd figured would be in my rearview window. I was also about five years into the routine of telling people that I'd write a book someday. Like most other writers, I'd started and stopped at least four or five manuscripts after getting a few thousand words into them.

But reading that message from a former classmate gave me pause. Why wasn't I writing my book? So and so was. And she'd never talked about writing as much as I had. Maybe it was time for me to stop saying someday and to make it so.

Using my work-issued iPhone (I couldn't afford Internet back in those days) I signed up for an account on the NaNoWriMo website and scribbled out a quick outline. The next day, I boarded a plane back to Houston for work, but this time I occupied my free time by working on a story about a young woman far from home, working in an industry she didn't understand. I related to a lot of what my main character was going through. Only, her life was far more exciting. It was like writing fan fiction for my own life. One where I took control of my professional life. Where I didn't let fear keep me back from pursuing love. 

The words didn't come completely easily, but they came. And even though I was always a little behind where the NaNoWriMo tracker said I should be, I kept going. Through another business trip and a major cold, I wrote and wrote. On November 30, with the assist from a friend (because, still, no Internet) I submitted my still-in-progress manuscript to NaNoWriMo and received my winner certificate.

I'd done it. I'd written 50,000 words. I still had a long ways to go on that manuscript (in terms of writing and editing and querying, though those last two aspects were far away). But I'd proven I could set a writing goal and fulfill it. 

When November 2011 rolled around, I was better prepared. I'd outlined my book a few weeks before November, and I went into the month with a couple of friends joining me on the journey. I finished two days ahead of schedule.

Every year, it became easier. I reached the goal earlier and earlier in the month, padding my word count even more in the days that followed. There was never a question of whether or not I'd participate in NaNoWriMo. It was more a question of "what will I write this year?" I'd found a way of writing that spoke to me. As someone who is goal oriented and competitive--and someone who worries about perfection while full-well understanding it's unattainable--going this approach just worked. 

That carefree attitude changed in November 2016. That was the year I wasn't sure I'd finish NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words under my belt. Caught up in the frenzy of everything happening in the real world at the time, I couldn't quite slip back into the fictional world I was creating. It was a pity. As someone who had participated in--and completed--NaNoWriMo every year since 2010, I was disappointed my streak would break. I decided it was okay if I didn't, though. The real world needed attention, and my story could wait.

So at 25,000 words written, I figured I'd done enough. The streak was over.

Then, I woke up five days before the end of November with another story on my heart. And a resolve that even though it felt like the world around me was falling apart, my words and my story still did matter. It didn't diminish my feelings about reality and vice versa. Besides, if I let others stop me from doing something I loved, if I let them silence me, wasn't I just giving them what they wanted? 

More resolved than ever, I went into a writing frenzy, filling the page with the words on my heart. I never did finish that story--it was too raw and unfocused. Three years later, I still haven't been able to open and look at it with an objective eye to see if it's worth saving. Yet somehow, at 9 p.m. on November 30, I managed to cross the 50,000-word mark and earn my NaNoWriMo winner badge.

I'd done it. I'd kept my streak alive. It was in that moment I did some math and realized that I was seven years into a NaNoWriMo winner streak. If I could keep my resolve up for three more years, I could call it an even 10. I liked the sound of that.

My NaNoWriMo 2017 writing journey wasn't flawless, but it was still easier than 2016. The next year --2018--was almost as challenging as 2016. Once again, my world was falling apart. This time it was my personal life collapsing as someone I loved and one of my biggest cheerleaders faced a terminal diagnosis. Only this time, I never considered stopping. As someone who'd always eagerly followed my writing progress, I knew I'd be letting her down as well if I let anything stop me from reaching my goal. It wasn't easy. But I still reached the 50,000-word mark with a few days to go. And, you know what? Those words didn't totally suck. You can actually read them (or a version of them at least) in Let It Be Me, which was released yesterday. 

All of that brings us to now: Year 10. Just seeing that on my screen right now is empowering. It's also kind of crazy and has me in a bit of an existential tizzy. (How did I get to be so old? Where did the time go? Who am I? What is the meaning of life? What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?)

Rather than dwell too much on what it means to go into my 10th consecutive year of participating in (and hopefully winning) NaNoWriMo, I figure I should be constructive and productive with that milestone. So, for the rest of this month here--and on my social media platforms--I'm going to share some of the lessons I've learned during the past nine years and share some of my tips for succeeding. As a disclaimer, these are entirely my own processes and you are free to take and leave them as they work (or don't) for you and your own writing journey.

I love NaNoWriMo and appreciate what it has done for me as a writer. Fact: I'm not sure I'd be a published author without it. Or, at least, it would've taken me a lot longer to reach that point. If you're someone participating for the first time, signing up after a long gap, or a fellow frequent writer, welcome. I hope you're able to pull something helpful from all of this. And I wish you the best of luck.

Look for new posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays right here on Change the Word. You can also look for daily tips on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts (with weekly videos posted to Facebook and IG TV on Wednesdays).

With that, let the countdown to NaNoWriMo begin!

Works by Laura Chapman written during NaNoWriMo:




***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.***

September 30, 2019

'let it be me' is here!


“Let It Be Me,” my latest rom-com, is now available!

Who says history is boring?

Professor James Mitchell has a rock star reputation. With a waitlist for all his classes, a best-selling 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, his 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 . . .

Watch a trailer for the book here:



Get Your Copy
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XGPMK72
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1479293472
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/let-it-be-me-laura-chapman/1133404601?ean=2940163711178
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=41OuDwAAQBAJ
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/let-it-be-me-8


***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.***

September 27, 2019

excerpt of 'let it be me'

Great news! “Let It Be Me,” the latest rom-com from award-winning author Laura Chapman (that’s me), will be released on Monday! And to celebrate the occasion, I’m giving you an extended teaser.


But first . . . about the book.


Who says history is boring?

Professor James Mitchell has a rock star reputation. With a waitlist for all his classes, a best-selling 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, his 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 . . . 

And now for a teaser . . .


Using her social media stalking skills, Ali tracked the professor to a coffee shop near campus. Her time at The G Spot hadn’t been a total waste, it seemed. And he, apparently, didn’t know that a man on the run shouldn’t post a photo of his latte on Instagram. 

Standing just inside the entrance, she was once again transported to her college days. The coffee shop had been one of her favorite spots to study. As the professor had discovered, they made the best lattes in town.

Maybe she could grab one before she dragged James back to his office. 

A sudden movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. With his messenger bag slung over his shoulder, James was crouched to the ground behind an oversized ficus. 


It was a good thing he was handsome, because Professor Mitchell didn’t seem to know much about strategy. That was particularly shocking for someone who was supposedly an expert in medieval battles. 


Folding her arms, Ali arched an eyebrow and waited for the professor to give up his act. Slowly rising to his full height, he gripped his to-go cup and crossed the room.

She held up her phone to show the picture he’d posted. His gaze darkened. “I believe I told you your services weren’t required.” His voice was awfully posh for a man who’d been hiding behind a plastic plant only moments before.

“That’s not for you or me to decide.” She shifted from one foot to the other, trying to keep the annoyance out of her voice. “You don’t have to fight me on this. I’m really good at what I do.”

“So am I.” On that note, James stepped around her and slipped out the door. He timed it perfectly so she had to wait a few crucial seconds for a pack of students to meander through the entrance.

Letting out a frustrated grunt, Ali chased after him.

“I don’t judge you for falling behind schedule,” she said once she’d caught up to him halfway down the block. “Sometimes the creative process goes through a few problems.”

“My creative process is just fine.” He pressed a key fob in his pocket, unlocking the door to a silver Prius. 

Oh no. He was not getting away again. Not without giving her a chance. Running behind his car, she stood a few feet away with her arms spread wide.

He poked his head out the window. “You might want to move.” 

She shook her head and extended her arms even wider. “Just give me five minutes.”

With one more pointed stare, James disappeared back into the car. The red brake lights flashed on, and the car inched back. Surely, he wasn’t going to—Ali jumped out of the way a few seconds before the bumper came into contact with her knee.

Jaw open, she gaped as he pulled away with a little wave.

“You’re insane,” she shouted after him. 

Didn’t he realize he could have killed her?The man was even more trouble than her mother had said. Not to be deterred, she pulled out her phone and punched in a text message.

I will find you. 

A moment later, she had her response.

Please stop.

Watch a trailer for the book  




Pre-Order 'Let It Be Me'

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XGPMK72
Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1479293472
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/let-it-be-me-laura-chapman/1133404601?ean=2940163711178
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=41OuDwAAQBAJ
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/let-it-be-me-8


***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.***