Click, Clack, YAY!

ARGH! Hand me down my walking cane and GET OFF MY LAWN! I’ve been using a computer for 30 years this fall and when I started with my Apple Macintosh 512ke (the e stood for enhanced, which meant it read DOUBLE SIDED floppy disks), a mechanical keyboard that made those satisfying clacking sounds, was all that was available.

Eons ago, in the dark ages, when most college students didn’t have their own computers, I worked full-time in a computer center at a university. During mid-terms and finals, the clack of the keyboards could be heard above all else. It would have been mesmerizing if I hadn’t been running around solving hardware and software issues. We kept a “boneyard” of old keyboard so we could fix ones that broke, you’d be amazed at what could be accomplished with a screwdriver and some electrical tape!

Years go by, “innovations” are made, costs are cut and wires are become passé. Most computers today are shipped with the wireless chicklet keyboards. Slim and sleek they fit the new modern era of computing. And, they drive me CRAZY! I won’t even start on the batteries that croak at inopportune times. Instead, I’ll focus on the crappy little keys that don’t give you the real satisfaction of having selected your letter and the joy of your finger actually depressing a key and TYPING BY GOD! Alas, what’s a writer to do except whine and complain and curse the heavens when the batteries expire yet again. Oh wait, I said I wasn’t going to go there. Sorry.

Then, one day, I’m visiting my happy place on Facebook. It is a group devoted to those who use paper planners to keep track of their lives. We’re not purists, for some of us *cough* me *cough* there is a time and place for Google Calendar, but there is also a connection forged when pen scrapes across papyrus to commit “edit chapter two” or “9:30am Dentist” to a permanent analog state of being. Again, I digress I think it is the humidity, it’s melting my brain.

Anyway, it was in this haven of civility (no really nicest place on Facebook) that I mechanical keyboardlearned that you could buy a “real”, er mechanical, keyboard. Wait, what now? A link was posted. Reviews were shared.


A quick trip to The Amazon, purveyor of all things good and evil and BOOM! A mechanical keyboard was on it’s way to me.

I’ve had it now for about four months and I am truly 100% delighted. I actually bought the “quiet” model, but the clacks are wonderfully satisfying as is the full depression of the keys to create letters on my screen.

My friends in the planner group have found bluetooth versions that give that satisfying clack, but I’m happy with mah old fashioned wire! There are still many chicklet keyboards around the house and I even have an Apple Wireless Keyboard that I pair with my iPad to make a lite laptop, but given the choice, I will always go with the clacky keys.

What is your preference? Clacky mechanical keys or stealthy chicklets?

P.S. I have a video of the sound of the keys, but I can’t upload it here. Visit my Twitter feed (@Fearless) to see the video)

The opinions expresses are my own and my not represent those of my fellow NHWN bloggers. I was not given any compensation nor is the link an affiliate link.

Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently typing her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction on a mechanical keyboard.

Carina Press is looking for your story

Carina Press has made two big calls for submissions recently. Carina is the digital first imprint from Harlequin. They publish books in a wide variety of fiction genres including contemporary romance, steampunk, erotic romance, gay/lesbian fiction, mystery, science-fiction, and fantasy, among others.

In the past, Carina has required a completed manuscript and a detailed synopsis for submission. Recently, Carina announced their first-ever call for proposals. If your book meets a few important criteria, you could be in luck, but hurry! The deadline is July 13th and there are a few conditions:

That’s it, so what are you waiting for? Submit your proposal today!

New Anthologies from Carina in 2017

Carina has also announced a call for submissions for 5 anthologies to be released in 2017 both as anthologies and as novellas. The requested word count is 25,000 to 40,000  and genres:

  • A Jewel Thief, Capers and Heists Anthology
  • Alien Love: A Romance Anthology
  • Sexy Shifters: A Male/Male Romance Anthology.
  • Sexy Shifter A Het Romance Anthology
  • Too Taboo: A Forbidden Erotic Romance Anthology

Submission dates vary by anthology but start August 1st with Too Taboo and end October 4th with the Capers and Heists anthology. Decisions are offered approximately 3 weeks after submission.

Details can be found on the Carina Press website.

Good luck and make sure you let us know Carina accepts your work!

What are you working on this summer?

Before You Hit Send with Angela James

Angela James presented her workshop Before You Hit Send in New Hampshire last month. James is an engaging and lively presenter, even when she’s talking about something as dry as the direct address comma. Her presentation style is conversational and witty, and never condescending. This is good for someone like me who has strong storytelling skills, but is weak with grammar. Don’t get me wrong, I still need an editor, but I’d prefer to eliminate as many of the potential errors in advance to make the process as expedient and efficient as possible. Angela delivered real world strategies that made me feel like I will deliver a more polished manuscript.

Author Claire Brett introduces Carina Press Executive Editor, Angela James

Author Claire Brett Introduces Carina Press Executive Editor, Angela James

Before You Hit Send is offered online as a multi-week course; the day-long workshop is a pared-down version of that course and it is still bursting at the seams with information. We had handouts with the PowerPoint slides and I still took close to 40 pages of notes. I can summarize the headlines here, but the value in this workshop comes from the examples Angela offers to demonstrate her points.

My personal highlights

Use descriptive words, but be careful of overwriting. A little subtlety can add polish to a story. She provided multiple powerful examples here.

Read your story out loud or use voice to text to read it to you. This will allow you to hear things you might otherwise miss.

  • Where your dialogue sounds unnatural.
  • Is the story boring?
  • Did you leave out a key piece of description (e.g., your character moving to another room).
  • Notice where your attention drifts from the story.

DO NOT edit as you listen – take notes or add comments to a Word or Kindle document.

Don’t overlook the basics such as formatting and spellcheck (even if Word does check your spelling as you type). She also offered tips on how to use MS Word’s Find and Replace function like a boss. I learned how to make paragraph marks appear in MS Office 365! This will mean nothing to 90% of the readers, but it was huge to me.

“Punctuation is there as support, not to carry the load.” Pare down your exclamation points. If you need to show excitement or extreme emotion of any kind, use words, not !!!!

Eliminate garbage words from your expository writing, but remember the rules are a little more lenient for dialogue.

Garbage words:

  • Really
  • So
  • That
  • Well
  • Very
  • Totally
  • Just
  • Quite
  • Good/Great

James asks her editors to ensure that something is grammatically correct for the story being told. This is especially in true dialogue. It’s unlikely you’ll find “coulda” in Victorian England, but you might find it in modern conversation.

Don’t use dialogue to convey information that the character already knows just so you can educate the reader: “As you know Bob, …”

Engage all five senses, BUT NOT ALL IN ONE PARAGRAPH!

Don’t tell the story in backstory. Your characters need to interact on the page. It’s their actions and dialogue that convey the story to the reader successfully.

Photo of a jagged mountain with the text "Commas are not the hill you want to die on." - Angela James

The Editorial Relationship

When I interviewed her prior to the workshop, Angela talked about how the editorial relationship should be a partnership. In the workshop, she offered some concrete examples.

  • When you selected a publisher, you also selected an editor and a certain editing ideology.
  • Every editorial relationship is different. She maintains a professional relationship with all of her writers, but she has become good friends with some of them.
  • The editorial relationship will evolve. There is more explanation earlier in the relationship, but you do develop a shorthand and a better understanding of expectations the more you work together.
  • Your editor is your best line of defense against a negative review. That doesn’t mean hiring a good editor will eliminate ALL negative reviews, but they understand readers and what the market wants.

When working with an editor, you want to balance the edits with author voice. “Commas are not the hill you want to die on.” An editor should NOT eliminate your voice.  An editor should:

  • Make suggestions,
  • Show by example, but NOT rewriting entire paragraphs. Rewriting is the key word in that statement, changing the order of the text is not the same thing.
  • You are allowed to say “I don’t agree with this, can you explain your thinking here?”
  • You can’t reject every comment.
  • Read the editorial letter and then walk away to give the comments time to percolate.
  • When you are reviewing a contract with either an agent or a publisher, it is acceptable to ask how the editing process is handled.
  • Questions to ask your editor
    • Do you read for pleasure? What?
    • Do you use Track Changes?
    • Do you offer an editorial letter?

When to stop editing.

6 years is too long.   If you are unsure if you are done, set the story aside and come back to it with fresh eyes.

By the end of the day my head was ready to explode, but in a good way. The downside of learning all these polishing tips is that when you see a lack of sophistication in a story, you can’t un-see it.

The online course is offered two times a year and will be offered again in September. Registration is now open. For more information, visit You can also read my posts to learn more about Angela and her thoughts on publishing.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I’m excited to implement my new skills on my work in progress. I’m hoping my schedule will allow me to take the class in September, but if not, I will definitely be signing up for the early 2017 offering.

Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.

My Experience With the Apple Pencil

My iPad was dying. In the life span of today’s technological devices, it lived a long life and served me well, but it was slow and tired. It has been retired to the kitchen as a web browser, e-reader and recipe display device. When I heard the announcement for the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil last fall, I started drooling. The Tech Gods smiled upon me and I purchased an iPad Pro at the very end of last year. I immediately ordered an Apple Pencil, but it was backordered for 2 months!

I love the iPad Pro! As I’ve mentioned many times. I’m visually impaired, so I work in large print and zoomed text. The iPad Pro gives me the added screen real estate to make working on an iPad possible without turning myself into a contortionist. When I pair it with an Apple Wireless keyboard I can’t ever see myself going back to a laptop. Everything I need to do on the go, I can do with the iPad.

My Apple Pencil arrived in late February and I’ve been playing with it ever since. Sometimes the muse is just more forthcoming when I put pencil to paper, but I despise having a thousand scraps of paper flying around. My inner organizer likes to have a digital record of all my notes. With the Apple Pencil I can satisfy both the muse and the organizer.

My handwritten draft text of this post in Notability. Blue text, yellow background, wide ruled (like a legal pad).

I already had the app Explain Everything, so that’s where I started jotting stuff. I quickly moved to Notability because I liked the “paper” selections better. I prefer a yellow background with wide ruled lines. My ideal would be to use Evernote because that is my digital filing cabinet, but I have a strong preference for the yellow background, so I stay with Notability.

I also like to edit on printed page. This is another place where the Apple Pencil comes in handy. I convert my document to .pdf and import it into Noteability and then edit. At least there, I’m saving a few trees.

The rough draft for this post. Written in MS Word, saved to .pdf and imported to Notability (yellow background, black typed text). Corrections made in red.

Apple Pencil Drawbacks

I love the way the pencil writes, but there is a disconnect. I can capture my notes and even edit them in their native application, but the technology hasn’t made the leap to translating handwriting to digital text. I think things are headed that way, and suspect that like speech-to-text, handwriting-to-text will start slow and clunky and evolve into a more streamlined process.

My Apple Pencil with a purple pencil grip and the little connector doohickey positioned beside it.As delivered, the pencil is very sleek and smooth. I have a tight grip (some would call it a death grip) and I press hard when I write. I found the pencil slipped through my fingers easily. The problem was easy to fix with the addition of a ten cent pencil grip.

Another small frustration is that there is no way to tell how much battery is left. I’ve arrived at more than one meeting only to receive an alert that the battery was low. Thankfully it charges quickly via the iPad, or via an Apple Lightning cable to a portable charger, or USB wall connector. There is a little doohickey that allows you to connect the pencil to an Apple Lightning cable and it’s well … little. I’ve managed to hang on to it thus far, but I live in fear I’ll lose it. I’m sure like most things it is replaceable, for a fee.

Apple Pencil Bottom Line

The Apple Pencil is a “nice-to-have”, not a necessity. I like using it to draft and to edit, but I *could* live without it. That said, I don’t want to. When they develop software to translate the written word into typed text. THEN, it will be a necessity.

Have you tried the Apple Pencil? What are your thoughts? What is your favorite app?

Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.

What Angela James Wishes Writers Knew About the Editing process

On Saturday, May 21, 2016, the New Hampshire chapter of Romance Writers of America is welcoming Angela James to present her workshop Before You Hit Send. In previous blog posts we’ve talked about the workshop, and we’ve talked about Angela’s career as an editor. Today we’ll get to know the personal side of Angela James, and Angela will share with us what she wishes authors (and editors) knew about the editing process.

The Personal Side of Angela James

Favorite Childhood Book (she couldn’t pick one):

  • Nancy Drew mysteries – Carolyn Keene
  • Trixie Belden mysteries – Julie Campbell
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell
  • The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles – Julie Andrews

Relaxation and Recreation

  • james_pixIf you follow Angela on Twitter, you know her bad travel karma is epic! Despite that, she still enjoys traveling. Tops on her bucket list for travel is a European train trip. She hopes to visit Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland for a few weeks with her family when her daughter graduates from high school.
  • Angela is a huge sports fan. Football and hockey are her favorites, but in the summer she follows NASCAR and Major League Soccer as well as European football. She doesn’t watch much dramatic TV, but she’ll binge watch when she travels or use it as a distraction when she’s stressed.
  • Although she loves sports, her preferred workout is boot camp.
  • Her perfect day off involves never leaving her couch. She can read all day and someone else can do the cooking, etc.

Gastronomical Pleasures

  • Her favorite beverage is water, but she’s been known to enjoy a glass of wine or beer here and there, too.
  • She loves to make multi-step recipes like homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch.
  • Her favorite food to have prepared for her is Indian curry. No one else in her family likes it, so she only gets to order it when she’s eating out.

 What Angela James Wishes Every Author (and Editor) Knew About the Editing Process

  • Angela James holding an e book readerA good editor is not just going to fix your grammar. A good editor will help you enhance your story, your plot and your characters.
  •  A good editor can make all the difference between a reader liking your book and a reader loving your book.
  • The editor and the author work together in partnership. It’s not that either has final say; it’s that they are collaborating on the book.
  • Ego can be the one thing that really interferes with the editing process. If you go into edits full of ego, i.e. thinking “this is MY book” or “I’m the editor and *I* know best,” the editorial process is doomed to failure. Everyone involved has to go into the process with an open mind.

I hope you have enjoyed this opportunity to get to know Angela James, Executive Editor of Carina Press, and I hope you will join us Saturday May 21 at the Crowne Plaza Nashua for Before You Hit Send. Register before May 1 for a discounted rate.

I encourage you to visit one of Angela’s many spaces on the web.

Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.

Pilot FriXion Pens

Today I’m taking a break from my series on Angela James and her workshop Before You Hit Send, coming to New Hampshire Saturday May 21, 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Nashua. There is still time to register and you can learn more about the workshop and Angela James in my previous posts. Later this month, I’ll have one more post where Angela shares what she wishes every author knew about the editing process, you don’t want to miss it!

Today? Today I want to talk about pens.

I’ve talked about pens before and you can be sure I still use many of the pens I talked about in my post, and even pencils from time to time,  but I have a new pen find that I just had to share.

May I present the Pilot FriXion pen.

FriXion Gel - markers- highlighters


Swooooon. I am in love with these pens.

The Pilot FriXions come in a variety of different types including gel pens, markers and highlighters, They come in several point sizes from the ultra fine .3mm to the more moderate .7mm but the kicker? They are erasable. No, like REALLY erasable.

They use a combination of a specially formulated ink and friction (get it, FriXion??) from a rubber tip on the end of the pen to erase the ink. Leaving nothing behind, not even crumbs. Warning, it takes awhile, but you do eventually stop brushing away imaginary crumbs. The packaging warns that the ink is sensitive to heat, so if you leave your notes in a hot car, you might experience a moment of panic when you come back to a blank page, but fear not, just put the paper in the freezer for a few minutes and BOOM! Your words are back. It goes without saying that FriXions shouldn’t be used for any work you need to keep long term, or for contracts or financial documents.

To be fair the gel pens erase more fully than the markers or the highlighters. I have also found some of the gel pens to be a little scratchy and they do leave an indentation. They also go through ink faster than you average pen.

Image shows samples of gel pens, markers and highlighters and some of the text erased.

I primarily use the FriXions for drafting and marking up my paper planner (yes I’m using a paper planner, but that’s a topic for separate post). Just this week they came in extremely handy. Before I plan the week, I consult the cast of characters that share my life (i.e. my husband and kids). I sat down Sunday in possession of the knowledge of who was doing what when and laid out my week. Late in the day, Dear Son, decided to change which night he wanted to go to karate. In a life as tightly scheduled as mine, that causes a ripple effect. FriXions to the rescue! I have planner peace for one more week.

picture shows my planner close up. On left highlighted text says travel on right highlighted text is erased.Have you tried Pilot FriXion pens or markers? What is your current favorite writing implement?

Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.

Angela James on Publishing

On May 21, 2016, the New Hampshire chapter of Romance Writers of America will be presenting Before You Hit Send, a workshop on self-editing created and presented by Angela James, the Editorial Director at Carina Press (the digital-first imprint of Harlequin). Last month Angela took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with me about herself, the workshop, and publishing. Workshop details can be found in my earlier post; today, we’ll talk about publishing.

When you think of the background and experience necessary to succeed in publishing, you probably think about a degree in English or maybe business, and maybe an internship at a New York publishing house. That path has certainly worked for many successful people, but Angela James would tell you the most important thing you need to be successful in publishing is a deep love of books and all things related to books, including authors and the editorial process.

Angela’s path to becoming the Editorial Director of Carina Press was not the traditional publishing career path. She grew up in North Dakota, where she learned to hate snow and love hockey, then went to college at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences where earned a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy.

She paid her dues in that field and eventually landed her dream occupational therapy job working on the East Coast at a state psychiatric facility. A lifelong lover of books and avid reader, she took on side work as a proofreader and copyeditor “just for fun.”

When she gave birth to her daughter, she left OT to be a stay at home mom, but quickly discovered she needed more interaction so she stepped up her freelance editing. By then she was working with authors like Jaci Burton and Mandy Roth. When Samhain Publishing opened its doors, Angela was recommended for an editor position.  While at Samhain, she moved up the ranks to Executive Editor, but she kept up her certifications and training credits because even then, she thought she’d go back to the occupational therapy field. Then Harlequin came knocking with their newly-minted Carina Press and Angela’s place in publishing was cemented.

It’s about the book and the reading experience. It’s about giving readers an amazing experience because books are awesome - Angela James with an ocean background

Angela loves new ideas and being able to make plans and take action on those new ideas. The constant change of the industry inspires her to continually develop ways to find new authors, improve things for their current authors, and grow the business.

Without that steady diet of change, Angela fears she’d lose her passion for the job and grow bored. Along with her management duties, James still carries a full editing schedule. She’s on track to edit 15 titles this year alone.

However, being responsible for the business success of Carina is equal parts blessing and burden. As much as she’d like to, she can’t just publish a book because she loves it. “When we say no to a book, it’s not always because we don’t think it’s good, or we don’t love it.” There are a multitude of authors the Carina team loves, or would love to work with, but much to her dismay she doesn’t have the luxury of publishing just to publish. It’s her job to publish books that ensure Carina’s continued growth and success. Sometimes that makes for hard choices. In a perfect world Angela wouldn’t have to worry about whether a book would be a moneymaker or grow the business.

Angela James on the future of publishing

I asked for her prediction about where publishing would be five years from now. On the outside she was polite, but on the inside, I had a sense she was groaning. “It’s hard to say where publishing will be one year from now, never mind five.” Her personal desire would be that in five years we will have long moved past the “us versus them” mentality that has taken hold, the idea that traditional publishers (which digital-first is now lumped with) are the enemy. In her experience, there are many people who work in publishing purely for the love of books, and who work hard to get good books in front of as many readers as possible. “It’s about the book and the reading experience. It’s about giving readers an amazing experience because books are awesome.”

This isn’t just talk. Angela tracked her personal reading on Good Reads last year and she read approximately 650 books. Stop for a minute and process that: six hundred and fifty books! This is in addition to the books she read for work. 650 books just for pleasure reading. Yes, she is a speed reader, and to be fair, some of the books were novella length or serializations, but she calculated it, and it worked out to be about 48 million words. That’s lots and lots and LOTS of words. Clearly, this is a woman who loves books; I guess she found her way to the right field after all.

Next time, I’ll share some of the personal side of Angela James, including what she wishes every author knew about publishing.

Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.

Before You Hit Send Comes to New Hampshire

Angela James, Editorial Director of Carina Press to Present her Popular Workshop in Nashua.

This May, the New Hampshire chapter of Romance Writers of America will present Before You Hit Send (BYHS). BYHS is a workshop on self editing created and presented by Angela James, Editorial Director at Carina Press.

Before You Hit Send Logo

Before You Hit Send Workshop Specifics

Make a weekend of it! Come Friday night for a casual get together with other attendees at the hotel bar. The workshop takes place all day Saturday, and Sunday morning there will be a room available for those who want to implement what they’ve learned or work on their manuscripts.  Please note this Sunday session is a self-paced causal event with no formal program. Ms. James will not be in attendance.

When: Saturday, May 21, 2016 9am to 4pm

Where: The Crowne Plaza Hotel 2 Somerset Parkway, Nashua 603-886-1200 (Mention NHRWA for a discounted rate on your room)

Cost: $90 if you register by February 29th Register today to avoid increases!

Who Should Attend Before You Hit Send?

  • Aspiring authors
  • Authors interested in polishing their craft
  • Self-publishing authors
  • Multi-published authors–you may be surprised by what there still is to learn!
  • Freelance editors and copy editors looking to enhance their curriculum vitae.
  • Anyone interested in learning to edit and copy edit.

This workshop is targeted to writers of all genres – mystery, horror, New Adult, fantasy, sci-fi and romance –all welcome!

What will be covered?

  • point of view
  • passive vs. active voice
  • show don’t tell
  • formalizing your manuscript

and much more!

To register please visit the New Hampshire Romance Writers website .

Originally, Ms. James was asked to develop a week long online workshop on self editing. Her first reaction was “What a great topic.” It wasn’t until she sat down to outline the course that she realized what an overwhelming topic it could be. Over the years the workshop has morphed and grown. Angela has been presenting it online and in person for more than eight years. BYHS is never the same workshop twice. She updates it prior to every presentation. Because publishing is constantly changing and writers need different information at different times in their writing journey, it’s not uncommon for people to take the class multiple times. Sometimes as many as four or five people are repeat attendees!

Peggy Jaeger,  author of the soon to be released 3 Wishes from The Wild Rose Press has taken BYHS online and is looking forward to taking it again in person in May.  “Angela James showed me exactly what a manuscript ready for professional submission should look like. And after taking her class, my manuscripts now look professionally polished and ready for a publisher’s eyes.”

Registration for the inaugural presentation of Before You Hit Send in New Hampshire is open now. Your registration fee includes workshop materials, Saturday lunch buffet and an afternoon snack. Registrations are processed on a first come, first served basis.

Before You Hit Send is a labor of love from someone who is an avid reader and quite simply loves books. “It’s not about the money. It’s more important to me to know that people are getting the information.”

About Angela James

Angela James holding an e book readerAngela James is the Editorial Director of Carina press, a digital-first fiction imprint of Harlequin (Harper Collins). She has edited books from bestselling authors including Shannon Stacey (a New Hampshire author), Jaci Burton, Lauren Dane and many others. Look for a more detailed profile of Ms. James in mid-March.

Carina Press publishes books in romance, fantasy, sci-fi, action adventure, mystery, crime and new adult.

Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction. She is an NHRWA member and the opinions expressed here are hers and my not necessarily reflect those of her fellow NHWN blogmates.


I’ve written in the past about using Susannah Conway’s workbook “Unraveling the Year”. Last year, my word was Practice, my intention was to commit to a writing practice. I got off to slow start but I DID it!  Then came December, all bets were off, thankfully, I have picked it up again in January.

I flamed out at the end of 2015 (thus the drop off writing in December). The last quarter was non-stop and I did no one any favors by continuing to say “yes” and ignoring what my body was telling me.

2016 WILL be different.

Thankfully, 2016 is already different. My word for 2016 is: enough.

I am enough.

I have enough on my plate. I can’t take on anything else until something is taken away. Preferably several things are taken away.  I have to scale back. I can’t go through another quarter like Q4 2015. The challenge for me is figuring out WHERE to cut back on existing commitments and WHEN to say no to new commitments.

When I saw this post on Facebook from Jen Hatmaker, I almost cried. Don’t read too far into the comments, they go sideways pretty quickly, but Jen does respond and mentions Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKewon. I’m reading this slowly so it really sticks, but so far, I’m really loving this book. It’s just what I need right now.  I’m pretty sure there will be a blog post from me on the book down the road.

So far, I’ve stepped down from an existing commitment and turned down new work. Not gonna lie, both were hard to do. The existing commitment was something I care deeply about and I would have been a really good fit for the consulting position. I just keep reminding myself “I am enough.” and honestly, after the initial shock wore off, saying no to both was incredibly empowering and uplifting.

Determining what is essential to my life is still a work in progress, but writing is without a doubt essential to my life and it is my hope by eliminating the truly unessential, I’ll make more time for writing. My goal is progress, not perfection. I’m close to finishing the roughest of rough drafts of my work-in-progress. I have another DIY writing retreat scheduled for this weekend and my goal is to pitch this story at a conference scheduled for October. To make that a reality I have many hours of revision ahead of me but, at the same time, I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself.

I start everyday reminding myself, I am enough.

Did you pick a word for 2016?

How do you determine what is essential to your life?

Haven’t set your goals for 2016 yet? If not, you aren’t too late, you are right on time.

Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.

Make Yourself Make the Time

With Bonus links! (see below)

Total transparency alert: I almost bailed on this blog post. I came THIS close to emailing the crew and saying “sorry I’m swamped”. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s December. We’re ALL swamped. Every one of us is juggling a million balls right now. On top of all my regular to-dos and the extra tasks this season brings, I’m also dealing with the unexpected death of a friend, a lingering flare of a chronic illness and a desperate search for my Christmas spirit. Your list is likely different, but no less lengthy.


Image courtesy of North Charleston

These are the times when it is crucial to write. WHHEENN? The little voice in my head whines. Wherever you can fit it in. During times like these it’s common to push word making to the back burner. That’s ok, so long as you don’t turn the burner off.

Waiting in the carpool line? Jot down plot ideas, a character description or some dialogue. Train running late? Pull out your phone or a notepad and outline that essay you’ve been wanting to write. Will you finish it? No, probably not. Will it be instantly ready to publish? Definitely not, but it will be forward motion. Make yourself make the time then pat yourself on the back for doing SOMETHING writing related. Progress, not perfection, that’s the most any of us can ask of ourselves.

This blog post was written because my 10:30 meeting on Tuesday got moved to Thursday. This is truly a good thing because I wasn’t prepared for the meeting anyway. Which reminds me, I need to go do that.

Wishing you all five minutes to catch your breath and 10 minutes here and there to make some words. Cutting back is ok. Stopping is not.

Bonus Links.

Here are a few writing related things that might be of interest. Disclaimer: I am not compensated in any way for sharing these links. These are things that I appreciate and may or may not represent the opinions of my fellow NHWN writers. The Amazon links benefit NOAH, the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation.

Writer’s Day 2016

For New England Folks, the New Hampshire Writer’s Project annual Writer’s Day will be held Saturday April 23, 2016 at Southern New Hampshire University. This is a great conference. Registration for Writer’s Day 2016 is now open!

Unraveling the Year Ahead

I’ve written before about goal setting. Every year I look forward to Susannah Conway’s Unraveling the Year Ahead this year is no different. The FREE workbook is available now available. Download it today!

New Books from Shannon Stacey and Lauren Dane

You can’t be a good writer if you aren’t also a good reader. It so happens that two of my favorite authors have new releases.

Shannon Stacey has TWO new releases.

Defending Hearts is the 2nd in the Boys of Fall Series about hometown football heroes returning to their roots and unexpectedly finding love. Photographer and world traveler Alex Murphy and farmer Gretchen Walker shouldn’t be a match, but funny how things work out.

Controlled Burn is the 2nd in the Boston Fire series. Rick Gullotti is wary when his landlords turned pseudo parents receive and unexpected visit from a granddaughter they never knew existed. Sparks fly as both work to protect two people they love. This story even has a touch of Christmas!

Shannon’s books always give me the giggles, the sniffles and some food cravings!

Lauren Dane’s At Blade’s Edge is the 4th in the Goddess with a blade series. I love the series. I want to BE Rowan Summerwaite when I grow up. She’s a badass vampire hunter who just happens to the human vessel for an ancient Goddess. Although raised by The First, the head of the Vampire Nation and married to the North American leader of the Vampire Nation, she is sworn to protect a treaty that keeps Vampires and Humans safe and living in peace. There are no sparkles in this story! There is only hot vampires, and a prickly heroine with a foul mouth and incredible blade skills. You could jump in here, but I recommend starting at with the first book Goddess with a Blade.

Happy Holidays!