November 19, 2019

'let it be me' chapter 18 - the original version

Blogger's Note: Warning! Things are about to get super spoilery if you haven't already read Let It Be Me. Proceed with caution.


Sometimes, as a writer, I make pretty big mistakes. I'm sure other authors share this pain, but I don't want to speak for everyone when I'm making such a big confession.

While editing Let It Be Me, I ended up cutting a whole scene and re-writing it entirely. I wasn't getting enough of Ali's perspective, and--well--this just wasn't super necessary. That said, if you've read the book and wonder what *could* have happened at this point in the story, read on.

Here's the original first scene of Let It Be Me Chapter 18:

Well, he’d done it. He’d kissed Ali again. He’d kissed her good. Really good. And she’d kissed him back. Even better.

He’d done the very thing he’d sworn he wouldn’t and if that wasn’t enough, he’d done it in front of an audience of his peers and strangers. In front of her mother and his ex. Altogether, it likely made him a prize idiot of the highest order.

If universities gave doctorates in repeated stupidity, he’d have so many initials after his name Daniel Keller would never be able to scoff at him again.

Yet he couldn’t regret it. Once they’d parted, lips swollen, he’d been too happy to worry about any of the repercussions.

There was only one true explanation for his behavior that day. James really was going good and truly mad. Good and truly mad for a woman who understood him better than anyone ever had.

That had to be the reason he’d stayed in his ridiculous costume—and the wreath of laurels that had been draped over his shoulders—and squired Ali around the fair for the rest of the afternoon. Like he was actually a decorated knight, and she was his fair maiden.

Somehow he’d managed to escape the tournament without a lecture. Dr. Ferguson merely glared at him, but that was only after he’d kissed the living daylights out of her daughter. Becca had been in tears, but she’d turned away. For his part, Daniel had only stared at him in bewilderment. And, if James wasn’t mistaken, a hint of respect.

He was sure the reprieve from a tongue-lashing would only last through the weekend, so he had better make the best of it.

So he’d grabbed a flyer with a hand-drawn map printed on it, taken Ali by the hand, and explored the whole fair. They’d watched a wildly abridged version of the “Taming of the Shrew” performed by students from the university’s theater program. They’d shopped the market, sampling locally sourced honey, jams, and breads. They’d even tried their hand at a number of games.

Before each game they’d place a bet, with the loser having to treat the winner to the fair’s bounty. Unsurprisingly, Ali bested him at most. Which is how he’d ended up buying her a glass of mead. And a fresh floral wreath for her hair. And a plate of cheese.

After she’d soundly defeated him at the archery booth, he’d given up any hope of winning again.

“Come on.” He squeezed her hand, enjoying how well it fit within his own. “We should probably get you a turkey leg so you can have the full fair experience.”

“And turkey legs were common at the time?” she asked drolly.

“Not for common servants like us. But it is necessary if you want to have an authentic renaissance fair experience.”

She scoffed. “You might have to answer to a master’s bidding, but there’s nothing common about me.”

No, there wasn’t. But he couldn’t very well tell her that, could he?
“Don’t forget,” she lifted her skirt to curtsy deep and full, “I was promoted from wench to lady for the day.”

“You’re every inch the princess.” Every inch wonderful. ”All you’re missing is your crown.”

“It’s in my suitcase along with my scepter and robes.”

It must be strange to live out a suitcase for so long. Then again, she was probably used to it. While he’d lived in the same house from birth until he went to university, she had moved from place to place. If he did some real, serious soul-searching, it was probably why he’d thought of little else but going home while she didn’t seem to care where she ended up or for how long.

That was a little too serious of a subject to delve into when a jester was dancing a few yards away from them.

“I see you settled on wearing comfortable footwear.” He pointed to her tennis shoes, hoping he was pulling off the snobby, posh expression he was attempting. “I suppose you didn’t want to be overdressed.”

“Certainly not. I’m a relatable monarch. I want my subjects to believe we’re on the same level.” A grin played at her lips. “Of course the moment they cross me, it’s off to the guillotine.”

He chuckled. “Remind me to review medieval weaponry and capital punishment with you before you pitch any more program ideas to your friend Kyle. We should probably go over period attire, too.”

“And here I thought the leather jacket you wore today was a tribute to your British forefathers.”

He spotted the turkey leg stand and tugged her toward it. “Trust me, these tights and tunics aren’t any more authentic than my T-shirt and jeans. Plus, they’re ridiculous.”

Ali stepped back to inspect his ensemble. “I don’t know about that. It’s kind of working for me.”

“Working for you?” he repeated, the words stirring that something he was trying to keep controlled.

She nodded. “I’m thinking it might make the perfect on-camera ensemble for our new show.”

“Careful, princess. I still haven’t officially come aboard this mad idea of yours.”

She only laughed as he dug into the only pocket in his tunic to draw out money to pay for their turkey legs. She probably assumed it was an idle threat. In fairness, she was correct in all likelihood.

She’d already proven herself a superior foe. If she wanted him to do something, it was only a matter of time before she brought him around.
They took their turkey legs and resumed their walk through the fairgrounds. Though the days were growing longer with the arrival of spring, the sun had begun its descent behind a row of trees showing their first buds of growth. The smell of woodsmoke rose in the distance from the bonfire being kindled around him. The world around him was alive and blossoming. Just like the woman still holding his hand.

Stealing a sidelong glance her way, he took advantage of her preoccupation with a troupe of dancing dogs to carefully study her. When they’d met a month earlier, he’d found her manipulative and controlling.

That wasn’t quite true though. That night at Amarillo Sour, he’d thought she was the most intriguing woman he’d ever seen. The next morning he’d found her manipulative and controlling.

Now, dressed in a flowing gown with flowers and ribbons in her hair, a grin seemed to permanently play on her lips. Her hazel eyes sparkling with enjoyment and mirth. There weren’t enough words to describe her or the way she made him feel.

As they finished their turkey legs, they followed the sound of music flowing from the field that had held the tournament hours earlier. Flickering light from torches placed at strategic intervals in the clearing lit their path. Around the field, people of all ages danced about as the music rang through the air.

There was really only one thing to do next.

“Fancy a dance?” he asked.

The smile brightened on her face and she practically raced to the field, dragging him with her. They danced and laughed and danced and laughed some more until James thought he might collapse from it all. If anyone would have told him a month ago he’d be all but done with his book and dancing at a renaissance festival with a fascinating woman, he would have thought them mad. If they’d even hinted that he might find himself at peace, enjoying himself, well, he never would have believed it.

Yet there he was. It was all because of one woman. This woman. It was for her, and only her, that he was making a complete spectacle of himself. And he was having fun to boot. Who could have imagined?
Which was why, when the music slowed—granting them a reprieve—James pulled Ali close in his arms. When her cheek came to rest against his shoulder, he wrapped his arms around her waist, savoring the way she fit against him.

Ali fit. In his arms and in his life. Seth was right. It was time to quit fighting the inevitable.

Lowering his head, so his lips were an inch away from her ear, he mustered up the courage to ask, “Will you come home with me tonight?”

She pulled back a fraction to gaze up at him, eyes twinkling with the light from the fire around them and stars above. “I thought you’d never ask.”


About the Book

Who says history is boring?

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

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



***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.***

November 14, 2019

meet the heroine of 'let it be me'

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Usual drink: vodka soda with lots of limes.

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

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


About the Book

Who says history is boring?

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

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


November 12, 2019

meet the hero of 'let it be me'

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



James Mitchell


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

Age: 33

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

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

Hometown: Manchester, UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Book

Who says history is boring?

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

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


November 5, 2019

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

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

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



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

The bed. One bed.

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

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

“There’s only one bed.”

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

“There’s two of us.”

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

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

Slowly removing his own coat, Flint cleared his throat.

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

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

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

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

He glared at her. “No way.”

“Your cheeks are red.”

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

“It’s cold outside,” he said.

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

“It wasn’t all night.”

“It was long enough.”

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

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

The smirk on her full lips returned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m not being weird.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 29, 2019

nanowrimo tip: inspiration

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


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

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

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

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

Follow inspiring writers on social media

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

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

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

Build a writing community

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

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

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

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

Re-read a favorite book

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

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

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

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

It's worth a shot, right?

Tell the world

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

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

Be Fearless

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


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

October 24, 2019

nanowrimo tip: life prep

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



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

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

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

Take care of your health

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

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

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

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

Adjust your sleep cycle accordingly

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

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

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

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

Do a basic meal plan for the month

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

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

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

Fill your freezer/cupboard with meals

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

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

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

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

Stock up on healthy snacks

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

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

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

Plan ways to treat yo self

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

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

Tackle your “other” to-do lists

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

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

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

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


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

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.***