back in time

I really don’t know where the month of August went. It seems crazy to me that it’s September already, and even more crazy that I didn’t add anything to my book the entire month. (OK, so maybe 1,000 words total, but that doesn’t seem to be too much compared to where I was during the month of July.)

It’s definitely obvious to me that I have been experiencing writer’s block in addition to battling the everyday chaos that comes with all of the hats I wear. (Note: for some reason the “wearing hats” expression really makes me giggle. I have no idea why. I just really like it.) So my main goal for this month is to work past that.

I’m doing that a few different ways. The first is to do some research on a topic that is the main focus of the second part of my story. I think that part of my difficulties in writing lie in that I wasn’t alive during the time period I’m writing in, and so I need to try and get myself into that world so I can better get in my writing mindset. I literally requested 10 books to start my research, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s kind of crazy to think how long it’s been since I’ve done actual research from books with handwritten notes, but I think I will enjoy it. At the very least, I hope it will give me the context I need to keep writing.

I also painted my office and cleaned off my desk. I hope that having a dedicated space away from distractions will help me focus better at home and get some words down. I also hope to include a day a week at the very least that I use to just focus on my writing while Broderick is in daycare. Hopefully planning ahead and breaking that time out will help with that.

Part of my make it work goal would also be to get in a routine to allow for that, so that I am not feeling constantly behind with so many other things that need to get done. Instead, I want to make writing a priority.

Hopefully by putting some of these plans in place I’ll be able to get back into the habits I set back in July. I know it’s a process, but I think it’s a priority for me to get back to my writing routine.


progress at last!

And we’re back after a week-long hiatus. (Sometimes what’s going on in real life is more important than documenting it, you know?) But since I last shared an update two weeks ago, a couple of exciting things have happened in regards to my Defining 30 quest, but the biggest one is:

I finished writing my second holiday novella!

I didn’t just finish writing it, but I’ve sent the story to my publisher, and we’re in the waiting game to see what happens next with it. This feels extra exciting, because after mulling over the idea for about seven months, I finally sat down and created character sketches and an outline during my staycation. Then I spent the next two weeks writing the 25,000 words.

I made some adjustments as I went–eliminating a couple of scenes that weren’t so necessary–but I basically stuck to the script I created.

This story actually takes place from two first-person points of view, which was kind of a fun challenge for me as a writer. I wanted to make sure each person’s voice sounded true to who they are, while also fitting into my voice as a writer. This is something I’ve been more aware of in the past couple of years–how every word your character says has to sound like something he or she would say. They can’t all speak and think exactly the same or they aren’t unique. Maybe that’s an obvious thing to most writers, but for me, it’s something I’ve been working on developing more as I develop new characters and stories.

But back to the POVs. Writing in Scrivener made this process easy to do and track (I wanted to make sure each person had the same or similar amount of screen time). I used the color-coding system, and it not only kept me organized, but looked kind of pretty.


So now I get to go to our official list page and check one item off and add it to the done-zo list. That’s super exciting.

I mentioned that there were other exciting developments in my quest for 30th birthday perfection, so I’ll just list them and develop the answers more thoroughly in future posts.

  1. I have officially stuck to my healthy eating plan for more than a month as of yesterday. After trying lots of things to jump-start a reasonable weight-loss program during the first few months of the year, it feels good to stick to the plan, which in term means…
  2. I’m being more active, which also means…
  3. I’m starting to see results in the mirror and on the scale.
  4. My latest statements from the credit union (car loan) and loan agency (student loan) show that I really might be able to do the whole “get out of debt” thing.

These are all good things, and I hope to have lots more to share on this front soon. Good stuff.

camp nanowrimo, we hold you in our hearts

As Laura mentioned Tuesday, Camp NaNoWriMo is taking place this month, starting yesterday. I have attempted to participate in the past but never actually reached my goal. sadface.

As you know, one of my goals for defining30 is to finish my novel, and I would like to complete that task yet this year. But that means I need to get started on it. My first draft only had about 40,000 words to go, but I was stuck. And as I took a (way too long) break from it, I realized I was stuck because it wasn’t working. At all. My concept and ideas were still what I wanted them to be, but the novel wasn’t going anywhere because the story wasn’t right.

Luckily, I’ve had two years to think on it, and think on it I have. I have several random notes, in my phone and on paper, that I’ve come up with during that time, and I was able to implement them into the plot outline I worked on last weekend with Laura. And now I have the month of July and a 20,000 word goal to get there.

Originally, when I thought about what I wanted my goal to be, I really aimed high and planned for 50,000 words, or 10,000 a week and 2,500 a day the three days I had Broderick in daycare. But I changed my goal to 20,000, or 5,000 words a week for the four full weeks in July because of how my time changed. I also wanted to focus more on creating a daily (or nearly daily) writing habit more so than a number of words and ease back into writing without trying to meet a huge word count.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I best use time recently, and I know that for me, writing for a short amount of time and then taking a short break multiple times of the day works really well for me. So I plan to work on that this month, as well.

I will keep you updated as we go, but I look forward to getting back to starting my book again!

back to camp


I am a big fan of National Novel Writing Month. I’ve participated–and won–five years now by completing 50,000 words on different projects throughout subsequent Novembers.  The first drafts of my first three completed novels were all started during November. (The first draft of the novella I tossed out then rewrote this past April was another NaNoWriMo project.) And right now I’m completing the first draft of my fourth novel, which, as you guessed it, was started during NaNoWriMo 2014.

I love the competitive and supportive spirit of NaNoWriMo. I enjoy the challenge. I like getting to pretend for one month of the year that being a writer is the most important part of my life.

That’s why I’m heading back to Camp NaNoWriMo. Like it’s big sister NaNoWriMo, camp is an opportunity for writers to be part of a community of writers all working together for the common pursuit of generating word count. It has some differences, though. For one, you get to set you word count goal. For another, you are able to participate in cabins, which are like little online writing support groups. I had a great time–and great success–with my April Camp NaNoWriMo experience. Despite having a lot of craziness going on at work, I was able to use Camp as the catalyst to complete the first draft of my novella, which was due to the publisher in June. (It was also 1/2 of one item to be checked off of my Defining 30 to-do list.)

This time around, I plan to use Camp as a way to finish the first draft of my fourth novel (unfortunately, this won’t count toward my to-do list goal, because I’d started the novel before the challenge, but it will still help me achieve my overall goal) and I will start the first draft of my fifth novel.

I am taking a week of vacation at the end of the month, and I hope to use that–and the upcoming long holiday weekend–to really boost my numbers and help me fulfill my goals of writing and publishing two new books every year. Wish me luck!

it’s christmas again, laura chapman

Since we last discussed my writing, I’ve done a couple of things. For one, I stopped working on my holiday novella, because I needed to do some plot tweaking. For another, I finished the second draft of my third novel and sent it to my beta readers (who are basically the first people you share your story with in hopes they’ll give you a little friendly input and tell you about any potential plot holes, character discrepancies, etc.). And while that second bit of news is great (and I’ll hopefully receive some solid feedback about where to take my book next) on April 15, in the meantime, I need to work on something else.

So on April 1, I resumed work on the holiday novella with a new focus. I also have a motivator. Like a few other times before I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. From the same people who brought us National Novel Writing Month, Camp is offered twice during the summer with a slightly different goal: rather than aiming for 50,000 words, pick your own goal and go for it. I’ve tried participating a few times in the past, but never with any real luck (I tend to get distracted in the spring and summer months).

But this time around I’m pretty determined. I have what I believe to be a reasonable word count goal (25,000). I have a solid outline with lots of notes. I have a deadline (as a former journalist, there’s nothing that calls me more loudly than a deadline).

I also have Queen Bey on hand to motivate me. I’ve been crushing on her latest album for more than a year now, but the song “XO” works perfectly for several of the scenes in this novella. And so, with the power of the Queen behind me, I’m plugging away. I passed the 10K-mark yesterday, and I’m hoping to cross the finish line mid-month.

With that explanation, I’m going to keep this post short, because I need to get back to work on this story. Wish me luck!

it’s beginning to write a lot like christmas

Today is one of those milestone kind of days. Not to be all self-promotional (or even self-congratulatory), but today is my second novel’s birthday. The Marrying Type is a book I started during National Novel Writing Month 2011. And then it took me forever to edit, rewrite, edit again, rewrite again, and the edit, edit, and edit some more for it to become publication ready.

If you gave me the manuscript again today, though, I bet I could still find a thing or two or a hundred to change. That’s the beauty and curse of writing–it really good and truly is never done. You just reach a point where you feel okay sharing it with the world.

And hopefully the length of time it takes for me to reach that point isn’t as long as it used to be. Frankly it can’t, because I have a novella due to my publisher this summer for publication next Christmas.


With the deadline looming, last week I outlined my holiday novella with the help of my cat, Mr. Bingley. It’s a story I’ve been tinkering with since my senior year of college, but started to click during the past couple of months. Thank goodness. Seriously. It feels so good to be working on a story I’ve wanted to tell for the better part of a decade, but haven’t been able to channel into any real direction.

I’m a plotter by nature. In addition to developing character sketches, I also create an outline for my book. While I like to leave some mystery for my stories and give them room to change, the better I outline, the better the writing process goes for me. It’s like a map. Each point on the outline is a destination. The surprise often comes in how I get there, which comes about while I write. Going with that map analogy, I suppose it would be me deciding whether or not I’m taking a bicycle, car or a walk to get to that point, or what outfit I’m going to where or what I’m going to do when I get there.

That sounds way more interesting and deep than I intended, but it’s really the only way I can explain it.

With my map carefully marked up, I started writing the novella over the weekend. By the end of Sunday I was about 4,000 words into a story that needs to be between 20,000 and 25,000 words. Not bad. This week I need to keep at it. If I can maintain the momentum of writing 2,000 words a day, this first draft will be in the bag stat, which means I’ll be halfway to my goal of writing two Christmas novellas. Wish me luck.