Samantha's Blog

Starbucks: The Writer’s Office

I discovered Starbucks this summer. Okay, pick up your jaw from the floor. I know I’m late to the party. No surprise there. While many writers have been using Starbucks as their base for years, I didn’t understand the appeal. Why go to a coffee shop and spend money to write when I could do it for free at home? Not to mention the commute time—a whole five minutes. But I’m onto the secret. (It was a secret, right?)

Starbucks shaken iced green teaI actually write at Starbucks. At first I thought it was the fancy tea (I’m not a coffee person), so I tried to reproduce the experience at home, because I’m a writer, Jim, not a millionaire (Star Trek, anyone?), and I was hoping to save some money. Nope, it wasn’t the tea. I thought it might be the decadent Starbucks pastry, so I added a croissant to my reproduction. And then another and another. Four croissants later and all I’d managed to do was increase my waistline, not my word count. Perhaps it was all the sunlight streaming through Starbucks huge windows. Sooo I opened the blinds of a large picture window in my living room and sat in front of it with my laptop.

You guessed it. Nada.

I gave up and returned to Starbucks, thinking the novelty would wear off after a month or so, because, hey, that’s how I roll. Nothing lasts forever. Before I met my husband, none of my romantic relationships lasted longer than six months, and I was looking for an out after three. Before I became a writer, none of my jobs lasted longer than two years, and I was bored after one.

But five months after that first trip to Starbucks, I’m still making that five-minute commute and still producing words.

Of course, I’ve analyzed this phenomena to death. But it all boils down to one thing. No distractions. Well, not many, anyway. No laundry. No dirty house. No internet! It’s the same reason I considered renting office space somewhere…anywhere but my house. But as I said before, I’m not made of money so I never followed through. Besides, I’d have to clean office space, and I’d probably add a fridge and a microwave, which means I’d pop up every five minutes to use said fridge and microwave. Plus, I’d probably get WiFi. We all know what a sand trap that is.

True, Starbucks has WiFi, but hackers have scared me away from unsecured connections, so no email, no online games (I’m talking about you, Text Twist, and you, Bounce Out.), and no extensive research. Yes, I have a phone, and yes, I have a data plan, but I’m all thumbs when it comes to typing on my cell, so I do it as little as possible. And yes, some of the Starbucks regulars who don’t write sometimes want to chat instead of read the book sitting in their laps, but I’m great at avoiding eye contact, and when that fails I’m pretty good at quickie conversations.

Starbucks logoAnd the expense? I figure the approximately $75 a month I spend on tea and the occasional pastry (specifically the Iced Lemon Pound Cake) is pretty cheap for office space.

So here’s to five months of Starbucks bliss. May there be many more in my future.

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café in 2015.


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I love my heroes, but…

I love my heroes. Their love, patience, and strength of character helps ground my heroines and come to terms with what’s right for them. The strong jaw, six-pack abs and broad shoulders don’t hurt, either. But for me, the heroine always comes first. The story begins and ends with her.

Don’t get me wrong. I love men. My first three books featured two men in some combination. MFM, MMF, and MM. But when there’s a heroine in my story, she’s the focus. She’s the one I most easily relate to. She’s not necessarily easy to write. I assume this is because she is some part of me. A part I have difficulty facing. But let’s not get into my demons.

Laid Bare coverTempted coverWhen it comes to reading, the books I love most, the stories that really speak to me are steeped in the heroine. It’s one reason I’m such a big fan of Megan Hart. There are depths to her heroines that are sometimes painful to read. Elle in Dirty. Sadie in Broken. Anne in Tempted. Olivia in Naked. Their secrets touch me to the core. But she’s not the only author whose heroines have stuck with me. Although I read Penelope Williamson’s The Outsider in Outsider coverSugar Daddy cover1997, the heroine, Rachel Yoder, still haunts me. Liberty Jones in Lisa Kleypas’ Sugar Daddy. Sugar Beth Carey in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Ain’t She Sweet. Erin Brown in Lauren Dane’s Laid Bare. These women, these heroines, stand out from the thousands of books I’ve read.

So there you have it. I love my heroes, but…

Who are your favorite heroines, the ones you can’t get out of your head?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.


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Eat, Drink and Live Well!

Eat, drink and live well! That’s my motto. Really. It’s on the family crest. Or it would be, if I had one.

I’m pretty sure I starved to death in a previous life. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for my obsession with food. In this life, I’ve never wanted for food. My dad called me the human garbage disposal, because I’d clean my plate and the rest of the table’s, too. My husband and kids will tell you that I’m always worrying about the next meal…what we’ll eat, when we’ll eat, where we’ll eat. One of my friends (a writer) complained that whenever she came to my house I insisted on feeding her. Didn’t matter if it was meal time or not. She probably wouldn’t have said a word, except she was trying to lose weight.

chocolate souffleSo of course, food plays an important role in my books. All of them. It’s one way my characters show love or at least interest. It’s a case of art imitating life. And it’s not just the heroines who cook. In fact, my heroes are more likely to feed the women than vice versa. Because the way to my—uh—my heroines’ hearts is their stomachs. A butter knife tender, prime steak, grilled rare; a baked potato, loaded (Did you know that carbs and butter are aphrodisiacs?); a glass of red wine; a dessert that I/they don’t have room for.

In Sharing Hailey, breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. It’s where Hailey’s brother learns that Hailey is dating his two best friends…at the same time. In Tempting Meredith, Charlie woos Meredith with Tex-Mex, and Blaine eases her fears during a no-pressure picnic in the woods. In Waiting for Ty, pizza and beer lead to a lip lock that leads to…well, it leads to more than garlic breath.

Thanks to the beer, Landon had a great buzz going. He was keeping up with the game better. It was close. Texas and Colorado exchanged leads several times. When the final horn sounded, Texas had the win by only two points.

Landon and Ty shouted, “Yeah!”

Jumping to his feet, Landon high-tenned Ty. As soon as their palms touched, Landon curled his fingers around his best friend’s. He didn’t think about it, didn’t plan it. He just did it.

Hands clasped above their heads, callused palm to callused palm, their gazes locked. Landon didn’t move, didn’t breathe, afraid to break the contact. The crowd’s cheers and the Longhorn band’s brass-heavy fight song merged to create distant white noise.

His heart pounded as he searched Ty’s expression for some indication of what he was thinking, what he wanted…or didn’t want. His eyes were dark and glittering. Anger? His lips were parted slightly, his breath coming in shallow puffs. Excitement?

Damn it. Why couldn’t he read him?

His skin stretched tight, hypersensitive, desperate for Ty’s touch. His lips drew closer, an intangible, invisible force playing tug of war with his better intentions.

Closer. His lids drifted to half-mast.

Closer. Ty’s scent, musky and masculine, overwhelmed his own.

Closer. Ty’s breath whispered against his lips.

Closer. Five beers and four years of longing conspired against him. Their lips touched, gently at first, as if by accident, an almost imperceptible summer breeze skipping over bare skin.

Meals are for sharing not only food but also the day’s ups and downs. They’re about creating tenuous bonds or strengthening existing ones. As many of the Café’s authors have revealed, meals are for seducing. You don’t even need the beer/liquor/wine. In fact, sometimes it’s best to avoid alcohol, as in this scene from Tempting Meredith where Meredith has sipped a little too much Don Julio 1942.

Bottle of Don Julio 1942

…she grabbed Charlie’s arms to steady herself. “Uh-oh. I think I drank too much. The room’s twirling. Twirling,” she said in a singsong voice as she followed the motion with her head, hoping to counteract the constant spiraling. Didn’t help. “Oh, yeah. It’s definitely twirling.” She tightened her grip on him.

“Are you gonna throw up?” he asked.

“I don’t throw up,” she said, offended at the suggestion. “Not when I’m drunk.”

“That’s good news.” He scooped her up, sending a fresh surge to the merry-go-round in her head.

He jostled her as he walked, but she didn’t mind. She liked being carried by Charlie. He was warm and safe, and he smelled good, like…like…well, like something good. She supposed he just smelled like Charlie, and that was good enough. Even with the world spinning, it was nice. He laid her on a cushy bed. She curled up on her side and closed her eyes. She’d just sleep for a few minutes until the world stopped spinning. Except it twirled faster when she closed her eyes, so she opened them and stared at a beige wall. Then the light went out and the wall darkened.

She struggled to sit up. “What are y’all doing?”

Blaine pointed the remote at the TV. “We’re gonna catch the end of the Rangers game.”

She crawled to the head of the bed and leaned against the headboard. “Then can we please have sex?”

“If you haven’t gone to sleep by then,” Blaine answered.

“I won’t,” she said happily.

Blaine and Charlie bounced on the bed, bumping her shoulders then settling against her like earmuffs. They spoke in low tones to each other, the drone of the game in the background. Following their conversation took too much effort. But it was nice simply sitting here alone with them. No one else around. Just the three of them like before. She’d been waiting weeks for this. She snuggled down between them and sighed. No, longer than weeks. Years, maybe. Or her whole life, except that was rather dramatic.

Their voices soothed. She slipped further down, and her eyelids drooped. The world stopped spinning.

Food, wine, and romance…where hearts meet (or not), secrets are revealed (or not), life slows to a more sensuous pace (or not), and characters eat, drink and live well (hopefully).

Do you have a food motto?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.


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Back to Basics

Which is correct?

Grammar BeeWith whom are you sexting?
Who are you sexting with?

He knelt at the altar of her heaving bosom.
He kneeled at the altar of her heaving bosom.

Last week I decided I needed to take a little time each day to get back to the basics of writing. You know, that little thing called grammar. In high school, I took an elective in grammar. In college, I took an extra-curricular class. That’s right, no credit for it because my major was Finance. Since college, I’ve taken several grammar classes and home-schooled my daughter in it. But it doesn’t matter how many classes I’ve taken, how many times I study subject verb agreement; subject, object and reflexive pronouns; or commas, colons and semi-colons, I find myself questioning myself. (I find me questioning me? I find myself questioning me? I find me questioning myself?)

So why haven’t all of those classes stuck? Part of the problem is reading all the mistakes that slip past writers and editors. I see “that” used so often in reference to people, I wonder if I’m the one making the mistake when I use “who.”

Oxford commaAnd part of it is the evolving rules. I was raised on the Oxford comma. We didn’t call it that. We called it the series comma. When I transferred that particular grammar law to fiction, I worked diligently to make certain I didn’t miss a single Oxford/series comma in my manuscripts. In fact, as my editor and I were passing my first manuscript back and forth, I became frustrated because I was missing so many of them. Then I realized my editor was taking them out. Later, I learned that most publishing houses discard the Oxford comma unless it’s necessary for clarity. And let’s talk about snuck and sneaked. In high school, my grammar teacher was horrified that “Jack snuck down the hill” in Ray Parker Jr.’s “Jack and Jill.” (I’ll have to Google song title format before I post this.) He should have sneaked. These days, if my research is correct, both are acceptable.

Yet another problem is regionalisms. For me the past tense of kneel is knelt, not kneeled, but my editor wanted me to correct knelt to kneeled. And what about the past tense of leap? Leapt or leaped?

So I go back to the book…the grammar book. The Elements of Style, aka Strunk and White; Painless Grammar (as if such a thing exists); Image Grammar. If I’m too lazy to get off my as—uh, I mean computer—I search online at Grammar Girl and various university websites.

These resources are great. They’re right at my fingertips, so why bother taking the time to brush up? Because I don’t immediately do the research. I often argue the point before finally breaking down and looking it up. Plus, I hate not knowing.

So it’s back to class. This time I’m using The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation. It’s straightforward, has lots of examples, and includes pretests, worksheets and final tests…all in one book.

Wish me luck. I really want to nail it this time.

Okay, time for show and tell. What’s your favorite grammar resource? Or the grammar bane of your existence?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.


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Location, Location, Location

Location, location, location. It’s the realtor’s mantra, but it works for me as well. From the mundane to the exotic, a change of location and the accompanying change of pace unleash my creativity and open me to new possibilities. Some examples:

  1. Sharing Hailey CoverHawaii. Specifically, the Big Island. More specifically, the Kailua-Kona area. I fell in love with it the minute I stepped off the airplane at the Kona airport. The sweet scent of plumeria, the warm breeze fluffed with just the right amount of humidity. All in the middle of winter!  I’m not a fan of winter. The days are too cold and too short…and too cold and too short…and did I mention too cold and too short. When the calendar flips to December 1, I just want to crawl into bed and sleep until March. Yeah, not a fan of winter. So no surprise that I set my first book, Sharing Hailey, in Hawaii. It’s the only place I’ve ever vacationed that I cried when I had to leave. Setting a book on the beautiful Kona coast allowed me to spend a little more time there…in my imagination.
  2. Red River, New Mexico (and all the ski resorts I visited before I decided that wintry weather and icy roads weren’t relaxing, not even a little). Last summer, my husband Tempting Meredith Coverand I spent a long weekend in Red River. It was my first visit, and I was instantly intrigued by the workings of a small town where the primary industry is tourism. Within twenty-four hours, I had an idea for not just one book but an entire series. I’m currently revising the first book in that series and writing the second.
  3. Austin. This enclave of liberalism in the conservative state of Texas was the setting for Tempting Meredith. And the heroes and heroine in the story reflect both political ideologies.
  4. The blood mobile. Yes, one day while donating blood, I came up with the beginning of a book involving blood donation and a bomb. Haven’t written that one yet, but someday…maybe.
  5. Waiting for Ty CoverAll over Texas. Houston, rural west Texas, Dallas. I find it difficult not to write about characters shaped by my birth state. Like my life there, Waiting for Ty takes place in every corner of it.
  6. New Mexico. I can’t forget the rest of my adopted home state, the setting for the second half of Sharing Hailey and the above mentioned work-in-progress. Albuquerque, Corrales, Santa Fe, Taos. I’ve lived here for thirty years, but the familiarity hasn’t dimmed my enthusiasm for the Land of Enchantment. Mountains formed from volcanoes, gorges cut deep by rivers, sunrises and sunsets so colorful I thought they only existed in paintings. The home of scientists who built the atomic bomb and artists who share the state’s beauty and culture through their works, New Mexico is as diverse as the United States itself.

From books that will never see a publisher to those already out there, location inspires me and shapes my writing. How important is location to your work or the books you read?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.


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Pretty Woman, Cinderella and Romance

PrettyWomanPosterPretty Woman. Yep, that’s the one. When I began thinking about this month’s topic—movie and television characters—I kept coming back to Pretty Woman. As a feminist, I shouldn’t love this movie, but I do. And my favorite part is Vivian’s shopping spree courtesy of her “john,” the incredibly wealthy, Edward Lewis. I know. Could I be more shallow? (Okay, Word is telling me that the correct word is shallower. Sorry, it just doesn’t have the same impact.)

Pretty Woman is a Cinderella story, but unlike the Cinderella movie I talked about last month, the characters in Pretty Woman are transformed by the end of the story. And like any good romance, their transformations occur because of the hero and heroine’s growing love for each other. For those few living under a rock (or too young to be familiar with the movie), here is a brief synopsis. Edward Lewis despises his father, who abandoned him and his mother. But he has followed in his father’s footsteps by using and discarding women. Vivian Ward is the hooker with a heart of gold and little self-esteem. As she tells Edward, “People put you down enough, you start to believe it.” Edward learns to love and trust. Vivian learns that she’s worth more than a paid, five minute hook-up with a stranger. And they all live happily ever after, although I understand the HEA wasn’t included in the original version.

Billionaire bad boys and poverty-stricken, nurturing women aren’t new to the romance genre. From Regency dukes to modern day CEO’s, from the orphaned ingénue to the single mom trying to put one more meal on the table and still afford the monthly rent, they abound. Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, anything by Dame Barbara Cartland, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The “sugar and spice” gender learns that if they are good and kind and patient and nurturing, they will receive their reward in the form of a handsome, “obscenely” wealthy and often dysfunctional man. But women must possess all those saintly qualities to tame/snag that oh-so-desirable (?) man.

Surprisingly, the trend has continued in today’s romances. In fact, it seems to be on the upswing. I have to ask myself why. Yes, women are still underpaid compared to men, but it’s not like the old days. Remember them? When the highest position a woman could aspire to was the CEO’s secretary?

While my taste for the billionaire bad boy has declined over the years, I still admit to the occasional indulgence. Would I have loved Pretty Woman without the penthouse, the private jet, the insanely expensive restaurant and the aforementioned shopping? Yes. After all, I married a poor college student. We both still laugh about the day, shortly after our wedding, when I found a dollar bill in my purse. The excitement of being able to afford a loaf of bread bubbled over, and I called my husband at work with the joyous news! I’d won the lottery!

A romance is a romance. A great romance is a great romance. But that fantasy life of luxury, of being taken care of, calls to me from time to time. What about you?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.


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Have Courage and Be Imperfect

Cinderella movie posterI love the whole Cinderella story. So when I saw the trailer for Disney’s latest version, I knew I had to see it. No, I’m not the target market for the film, but I never let a little thing like age appropriate entertainment stop me, because I’d miss out on a lot of fun. Case in point, Wreck-It Ralph and all the Toy Story movies, which I love! So off I went with a couple of friends—adult friends—who were just as excited as I was about the new flick.

The setting: an auditorium full of adults, two children, one baby who slept through the movie.

Le sigh désolé. If I hadn’t been with friends, I might’ve walked out after the opening sequence. I did consider joining le bébé and taking a nap (which would have been a real pity because yes, there were lessons learned). Why am I panning a movie that the critics enjoyed?

Cinderella’s family was so perfect, so sweet, that I had a mouthful of cavities and gained ten pounds by the time poor dear Ella’s parents died. And quite frankly, I was hoping Ella would join them. Yes, I was rooting for Ella’s death. Prince Charming’s, as well. Cinderella and the Prince were paragons of everything good…from birth, possibly even in their mothers’ wombs. Who knows? Who cares? Perfection is not only boring, but also annoying.

However, all was not lost, because as stated earlier, an important lesson was learned. (Obviously said lesson had nothing to do with choosing active over passive verbs.) This Cinderella retelling is a perfect illustration of why our heroes and/or heroines must have flaws. Not simply because it’s difficult to relate to perfect characters, but because without flaws there is no room for growth, aka transformation. There is no one for us to root for, nothing to excite our emotions. Neither Cinderella nor Charming grew during the movie. In fact, none of the characters grew. The villains were still villains, and the good guys were still painfully perfect. By the end, I was cheering for the “evil” stepmother. At least she had some depth.

So forget the movie’s repetitive adage, “Have courage and be kind.” As writers, we would do much better to have courage and be imperfect.

The post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.


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Just Write the Next Book

Sharing Hailey cover

My first book.

The things they don’t tell you? Hah. I’d been writing for so many years before I was published that I’d pretty much heard it all. What I didn’t know before I signed that contract, I learned soon after. That doesn’t mean I heeded all that accumulated wisdom. I didn’t. I wish I had. The one piece of advice I wish I’d really paid attention to? Just write the next book.

But I didn’t. I was too concerned with marketing: building a website, starting a Facebook page, learning to tweet. I thought I needed to write guest blogs and take out ads. Because if that first book didn’t sell, there wouldn’t be a second one. Everyone knows how cutthroat publishers are. Instead of the “publish or perish” of academia, writers must “sell or perish.” I didn’t want to be a one and done author, so I bought into the whole marketing thing to the exclusion of writing that next book.

It didn’t help that blogging, taking out ads, and building a social media presence were easier than writing the next great erotic romance.

But here’s the thing. I don’t think any of my marketing efforts helped sell that first book. What did sell it? Reviews and word of mouth. I didn’t even solicit the reviews. So the most effective marketing wasn’t something I’d worked on. (Honestly, I was terrified of asking for reviews. Still am. What if the reviewer hates it?!) To date, the only paid advertising I’ve found to be effective is Bookbub. But in my experience reviews outsell Bookbub. Even bad reviews.

I still Facebook, Twitter and Blog (obviously, since I’m here). Not because those forums sell books, but because I enjoy the interaction, especially with readers and writers.

What’s been your experience with marketing your book? I’d love to hear it.

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.


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Ignorance Is Bliss: How I Did Everything Wrong

Ignorance is bliss.  At least that was the case during my trip to publication. This month,
most authors at the Café have talked about breaking craft or genre rules. I’m veering off course to talk about breaking business rules.

If you’re a writer, you’ve heard the advice.Dunce

  1. Aspiring writers must have an online presence—Twitter,  Facebook, a website, a blog. Agents and editors will Google you. Woe to the wannabe writer who cannot be found online.
  2. Read a sampling of books released by a publisher before submitting to that publisher. This is the only way to know if your manuscript is right for them.
  3. Don’t share an email address with your significant other. It’s unprofessional.
  4. Join local writers’ groups, aka learning and perfecting your craft and networking. 

These are the rules I broke while writing my first book, Sharing Hailey.  There are probably others, but again, ignorance is bliss.

Online Presence

When I contracted my first book in 2011, my only online presence was email. No Facebook, not even a profile. No twitter, website, LinkedIn, Google+. Nothing. Did I begin establishing that online presence after the call? You betcha. And I enjoy interacting with readers, authors and anyone else I happen across online. Sometimes, I enjoy it a little too much. It’s definitely a distraction—one I’m grateful I didn’t have while writing that first manuscript.

Read a Sampling Before Submitting

When I submitted to Carina Press, I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of them. They were new to publishing: their first book was released in 2010, about the time I began writing the one they acquired.  In fact, I didn’t read a Carina Press release until after they offered me a contract. I wanted to know if they published good books or if they published anything that came across their desk.  (Insecure much?) A caveat here. I submitted to Carina because I’d won first place in a contest. Angela James, Carina’s Editorial Director, judged the finals and asked to see more.

Don’t Share an Email with your SO

When I submitted, I was sharing an email with my husband…had been for years. It made sense to me. After all, we shared a land line, a mailing address, and to some extent a cell phone because my husband didn’t (and still doesn’t thanks to his security clearance at a national lab) have one. So I occasionally let him borrow mine. In my sharing-an-email defense, I was thinking about getting a separate account because I was tired of wading through his stuff to get to mine. I’d put it off because of the hassle of notifying contacts.  Now, I have not just one but three separate email accounts.

Join Writers’ Groups

Sharing Hailey CoverWhen I wrote Sharing Hailey and submitted to Carina, I wasn’t part of a writers’ group. However, there is another caveat. Many years ago I was a member of several writers’ groups. I even served terms as president, newsletter editor (in the days of literally cutting and pasting…you know with scissors and glue) and contest coordinator. So I had that background of workshops, reference books, and writing friends. The background of workshops and reference books helped me write Sharing Hailey. After I got the call, the network of friends proved invaluable in deciding whether to accept the contract.

For me, perfecting my craft and writing something I loved without the business distractions was the key to getting published—that and a new publisher willing to take a chance on me. As for sales, I was lucky that erotic romance was hot when my book was released. Lots of favorable reviews and an RT Reviewers’ Choice nomination made up for my dismal online presence. While I don’t recommend that others handicap themselves the way I did, maybe my experience will help you obsess a little less about all the well-meaning advice and just write the d*!% book.

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.


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Increasing Daily Word Count

As I’ve said in a previous post, I don’t discuss my work in progress. So I was a little stumped about what to write for this month’s topic, What I’m Working On. Then in an exchange of emails with Reese Ryan, it came to me. I would discuss the program I’ve implemented to increase my daily word count. Jeffe Kennedy in this brilliant post explained that increasing your daily output is like running a marathon. You don’t start out running 26.2 miles. You work up to it. You don’t go from 5 miles to 26 miles in 24 hours. So if I want to write 2000 words a day. I can’t go from 1k to 2k in one day. The always generous Jeffe shared a possible work-out routine for Nanowrimo. I took it and tweaked it for my own needs. Jeffe started at 250 words and worked up to 2200. And it ramped up fairly quickly. 250 seemed too small for me since I was already writing more than that (though much like my physical work-out routine, not consistently). So I upped the starting point to 500. And I’m working up to 2000 over several months instead of one. If we weren’t dealing with winter holidays, I’d have met that 2000 word goal more quickly. But I know my limits. I know that over the holidays, I want to spend time with my family and friends, not hunched over my computer (unless I’m hunched over it talking to family and friends). So I‘ll work up to 1000 words. Then over the holidays, I’ll cut back to 500 a day, which I can easily do in less than an hour. After the holiday season, I’ll start again at 600 words and quickly ramp up to 1k and then slow it down again until I reach 2k.

Yes, that's being being chased through cubicles by the monster known as introversion.

Yes, that’s me being chased through cubicles by introversion.

How am I accomplishing this? (Because for me, just saying I’m going to do it doesn’t work.) I’ve employed several tools. After years of hearing about the amazingness of Write or Die, I finally broke down, bought it and installed it on my laptop and desk top. I don’t use it every time I write. But if I’m having trouble getting the words to flow, I fire it up. The most effective visual consequence for me is the office horror—flimsy cubicles, one after another. It’s not my worst nightmare, but it probably ranks in the top ten. For an introvert like me, it’s certainly cringe-inducing. I’ll admit to being surprised at how motivational it is to avoid the screeching sounds and the cubicle picture that comes up when my writing slows. I set the Write or Die timer for thirty minute sessions. As soon as those thirty minutes are up, I stretch my legs and do something completely unrelated to writing for five or ten minutes. That break gets the ideas cooking again, and I sit down for another session.

Next, rewards. If I meet my word count goals for the week, I get a reward. It’s my payday. The acknowledgement that my writing has value. I talked about rewards in this post.

Third, I made a calendar with daily goals that I can cross off. It’s not on the computer. It’s an actual, physical piece of paper. I love crossing something off a list, so it’s a huge incentive for me.

How’s it working? So far, so good. Keep your fingers crossed.

Anyone else have tips to share?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.


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