A Writing Day (Hopefully)

I have a project to do today

I will once again be doing NaNoWriMo in November this year, and I will once again be writing one of my Christmas romances (working title: It Takes Two to Kringle). Today, though, I need to work on outlining the book so I have guidelines on what to write come November. The first book (The Kringle Conspiracy) I wrote without an outline, a process known by writers as “pantsing”. I loosely outlined the second book (Kringle in the Night), otherwise known as “plantsing”. I feel like the second book is tighter than the first, thus I will be outlining the new novel as well.

But first, motivate

Photo by Vlad Cheu021ban on Pexels.com

I have been off writing for a little while because life got busy, and now I need to get back to it before NaNo or else I won’t write next Christmas season’s book. But I’m so undermotivated! I don’t know what to do to motivate — I could go out to the cafe, but I don’t know if I feel like it. I could play music on the stereo.

Honestly, though, what’s really stalling me out is feeling overwhelmed by the project at a time where I don’t have much energy.

Breaking the Impasse

If the task of writing an entire outline for a book today is too much, I can break the task down over a couple of days (perhaps five chapters a day) and promise myself a break at the end of those chapters. That way I don’t feel stressed and thus defeated by the task of outlining.

And if I really get into it, maybe I get it all done in one day!

So what are you procrastinating on lately? Let me know in the comments!

Random Observations About Writing

About poetic language vs realism

I notice that the sunrise this morning is not really pink — maybe more of a salmon color, but that’s not poetic, is it? “The salmon-colored dawn.” No. Just no.

“Rosy”, on the other hand, is poetic. And everyone who reads the poem or prose takes the same poetic leap and accepts the dawn as rosy.

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

About writers and coffee

I’m in a writer’s group on Discord, and the caffeine addiction there is real. To the point where we talk about how we make coffee and what blend we use. And heaven forbid we skip our coffee in the morning.

I haven’t met any tea drinkers, but it could be a small sample size. Do you drink tea?

About that self-doubt

The same group of writers admitted that they too have self-doubt.

About romance categories

There are many, many romance categories. Superhero, bad boy, playboy, alien. Sweet, steamy, hot, erotica. Friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, boy next door, strangers to lovers. Science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, historical.

And because of my self-doubt, I don’t know if I belong to any of these.


Right now, I feel like most of my writing time is spent in marketing, and I don’t even have anything on imminent publication. I’m using The Kringle Conspiracy as my hook for newsletter subscribers, so that’s out. This is all a very strange journey and I don’t know how things are going to work this fall when I’m back to work.

What about you?

Do you have any observations about yourself as a writer, or if you aren’t a writer, other writers? I’d love to see you drop these in the comments!

I can’t believe I haven’t written in a couple days. It’s been terribly busy:

  •  My virtual book signing party went off very well on Sunday, despite my jitters. About seven people showed up, but that was a fine number to interact with and about the number I expected to show up if I went live. 
  • I started NaNoWriMo, and I’m struggling because I haven’t written a book for a while, trying instead to edit what I already have. It’s time to write, and this book is going slow. 
  • It’s been a bit of a challenge to find time to write because of the fact that it’s a crucial project time for my students. 
In addition, I have a sense of existential dread over the (US) elections. I’m not by any means alone. 

So I’ll do my writing to the best of my ability over the next several days, meditate, take deep breaths, teach my classes, and pray for the best and most compassionate outcome. 

Where did the time go?


“Your book goes live Sunday! Aren’t you excited?”

Gah. I haven’t had time to be excited. It’s been one of my busier weeks, with interns meeting with me, exams to grade, a class website to experiment with …

I have so much to do!

I need to put together the party this afternoon or tomorrow! It shouldn’t be too hard; it’s an online party, I don’t have to supply food, just things to do. 

I have an online wedding and a Halloween outing to the Board Game Cafe in costume tomorrow. (No, I’m not going to do the costume at the wedding!) 

I need to write my first 2000 words on Sunday. Before the book-signing party? After? Both? I need coffee! At least I’ll have another hour to do so with Daylight Savings Time ending. 

I need to just take a deep breath and do things one at a time. I have the time I need.

Same of a Sameness

The problem with acting wisely during COVID is that every day seems the same. All the classes run into each other; all the meetings are on Zoom, restaurants are unsafe; social gatherings are too risky. It’s better than the alternative, of course, which is getting COVID and risking one’s health or life.

I’m old enough and fat enough that I risk my health with exposure, so it’s not just a matter of “catch COVID and get it over with.” My husband is high risk because of a preexisting condition, and I really don’t want to give it to him. I don’t want to give it to everyone else, either. 

Some things help. Good coffee, music on the stereo, candles, paying attention to the weather outside, our faux fireplace. A comfortable work station in the living room. Scented candles. 

I will make the best of this.


Another bald self-promotional opportunity here — The Kringle Conspiracy is live in paperback; if you want Kindle versions you can pre-order.

Toymaker Kris Kriegel has fallen for professor Marcia Wendt, but he’s afraid of getting too close because he has a secret. Marcia thinks she’s found the one, but Kris’s secret has left her mistrustful. The two must work through trust issues and honesty and through this, they will discover The Kringle Conspiracy.

An excerpt from The Kringle Conspiracy

 This is an excerpt from The Kringle Conspiracy, debuting on Kindle November 1st:


Santa Claus sat at the back of the café, drinking what appeared to be a large latte. Intrigued and amused, Marcia Wendt stepped into the coffee shop. Yes, she noted, that is indeed a Santa, and he is indeed drinking a large latte. The whimsy of the moment reminded her of why she chose to spend the last of her four-month sabbatical in the Denver metropolitan area.

As she glanced around, Marcia realized that the café served a dual purpose. An admixture of dusty tomes, glossy language and travel guides, and garishly lettered graphic novels jockeyed with each other for space on rustic pine planks. Coffee mugs hung from hooks over the squat, modern espresso machine, while footed glasses filled shelves behind the counter. Stairs led up the back of the café, presumably to bigger rooms and more books. The tables displayed an eclectic collection of clienteles – two young women smartly dressed in skirts and designer boots chatted with each other over steaming mugs, and a slight young man in faded brown flannel gazed out the window past her. And, of course, there was Santa Claus.

Marcia stepped into line behind a teen sporting a bleached-blond mohawk with burgundy tips. He looked rather like an exotic parrot to Marcia. The woman behind the counter, pleasantly plump with black curly hair and granny glasses, said in an unmistakably Brooklynese accent, “What’ll ya have?”

Marcia, pleased by the further absurdity of a Brooklyn accent in Denver, stifled a giggle. “Double cappuccino, skim milk, decaf espresso, for here.” 

“Ok, a double-nothin’ for here,” the woman yelled to a buzzed-bald, gangly youngster with nerd glasses whose t-shirt proclaimed him a barista. She turned back to Marcia and smirked, “So, why bother if there’s no caffeine and no fat?”

“Because I’m over forty, I’ve had too much coffee already today, and I’ve got a great imagination – I can imagine that it’s the real thing,” Marcia mourned. 

“Well, can’t argue with that,” Ms. Brooklyn nodded as she handed Marcia the double-nothing, topped with a cloud of whipped cream. “While you’re at it, pretend there’s no calories in the whipped cream, ok?”

Marcia snorted. “Gotcha. Actually, I figure I can live a little dangerously.” She fumbled in her pockets for a five, grabbed the “double-nothing” and the change, and strode right to Santa’s table, daring herself to trust. “May I sit here?” Santa’s snowy beard and eyebrows were definitely the real thing, she noted with approval. 

“Be my guest,” Santa said in a low, but pleasant voice. Out of the corner of her eye, Marcia saw the man in flannel glance up briefly, then quickly bury himself back in his book.

“So, what brings Santa to a coffeehouse?” 

“Well, I’m afraid it’s really prosaic. We had a meet-and-greet for some kids here that ended a half-hour ago. Not quite Thanksgiving yet, but the holiday calls get earlier and earlier every year, and Book Nook’s no exception.” Despite the “prosaic” mission, this Santa, whose snowy beard was real and whose blue eyes twinkled behind silver half-glasses, met with Marcia’s approval. He could have been the jolly old man himself.

“You’re surprisingly chipper for a Santa,” she ventured. “Or is it too early to get burnout?”

“Santa burnout?” Santa was taken aback, his eyebrows raised. “Never heard of that before. Those must not be real Santas you’re seeing, then.” 

At this, the flannel man in the corner gave the Santa his own pointed, raised-eyebrow look, one that could have said, “You’re laying it on awful thick, aren’t you?” Santa merely grinned and winked back. Marcia caught the whole exchange and committed it to memory for the great story it would later make for her students. 

“But the secret to being a Santa is …”

“What?” Marcia asked, breathlessly, after the pause stretched far into dramatic effect territory. She had fallen into a sort of hypnosis, she thought, but felt too comfortable to break free.

“The secret to being a Santa is to listen with a loving and non-judgmental heart.”

“Wow,” Marcia sighed after a long moment of thought. 

The Santa took a sip of his nearly forgotten latte. “So, do you want to ask Santa for something for Christmas?” 

It was a pure, simple question. How could she answer such a question? 

 “With the truth,” a small voice inside her responded. Marcia took a deep breath, and spoke. “I want the right man to come into my life.”

The Santa did not laugh. Instead, he leaned forward, patted her hand, and said softly, “A worthy wish. But I want you to do something for me.”


“You must trust. Simply that.”

“Thank you.” Marcia stood up, bent forward, and threw her arms around the old man’s neck in a hug, then kissed his cheek. Smiling through sudden tears, she grabbed her coat and hastily left the shop, her “double-nothing” forgotten.

A few minutes later, she heard her inner dialogue chiding her for trusting a stranger.

Promoting my novel

 Someone in a romance novel group on Facebook asked if I had a promotion plan for my new book. I hemmed and hawed, and pointed out that I had made advertisements for it. Marvelously, she gave me many websites for making a promotion plan, and I’ve perused the first site, Quick and Easy Guides, which has a course called 75 Ways to Promote Your Book. (This can be accessed for a nominal cost). I liked this course because not only did it have those 75 pointers, but it featured instructions on how to write a media kit, how to write a “cold letter” to bloggers, and how to write elevator pitches.

I have been working through these suggestions for my new book (due November 1) and I have a bit of a way to go. I need to find 5-10 suggestions on her 75 Ways page that are workable for me and write it into a plan. I also need to actually follow up on those, because planning is not enough.

Here’s a sneak peak at one of my promos:

The Author Jitters

I’ve been focusing too much on the novel. Ok, maybe not too much. I have the cover properly sized and titled and the like, I have copies both for hardback and e-book, I have formatted and proofread (again!) and I’m still worried about whether it’s good enough.

I’m dropping the novel November 1 (not November 15 as I said before). I am way ahead. Once I get my favorite beta reader’s notes in, I could finish the submission. All is good, but I’m still panicking.

I have other things to focus on (besides work, of course). I could start plotting for NaNo in November. I will be writing the sequel to The Kringle Conspiracy, known as Kringle in the Dark. NaNo has a prepping self-guided class that will get me into November in good shape. I just need to focus on them.

I have to be a bit less antsy with this writing thing. 

I live to create

 In putting together the parts for the book-to-be, I discovered something important about me — I like creating things. Not just for myself, but I like what I create going out to the public in tangible form.

I don’t have the talent to draw, build, or knit. People keep me away from sharp objects like power drills and saws. (With good reason; I once had a power drill fall on my foot.) My kitchen is not organized enough to bake for others, like the woman who makes macarons in town. I can write. 

And now it looks like I can publish.

I don’t know if I will put everything I’ve written into self-publishing. I need to see if this book can get traction. I need to see if my queries (now improved) can get traction. But I have time, because I am satisfying a most basic instinct of mine — creating and putting forth into a hopefully irresistible package.

Getting excited about self-publishing

I’m excited about this new book thing.

I think it will be ready for a November launch.I have a cover for it, I have some blurbs to go on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. I have other things to do, but I think I can get them done in time.

I know I will probably not get too many readers. But self-publishing a little book like this breaks a curse I have in my mind that I will never get published. It also breaks me in on how to publish on a low-stakes book. (I consider my more serious books, the fantasy novels, high-stakes.)

And this particular book … Kris Kriegel, the young toymaker with a Santa sensibility, has been with me as a character since high school. The first scene of The Kringle Conspiracy is basically the story I wrote in high school for my creative writing class. That was 40 years ago, and it’s still as relevant now.

So I’m excited, and I’m looking forward to a Kringle Christmas.