Lauralynn Elliott

Tools of the Trade by Lauralynn Elliott

This post came to me the other day when I was in Staples. I walked in and immediately inhaled the lovely smell of…office supplies. Yes, I admit I love that smell. If I had lots of money, I could spend all day going crazy in that place. I love office supplies, computers, and all kinds of gadgets. Okay, you ask, what does this have to do with writing? Let me see if I can explain.


There’s just something motivating, at least to me, about tools. I practically salivate over ink pens. I love pretty paper. Those of you who handwrite your manuscripts, doesn’t it make you feel great to have that pretty ink pen (maybe even in a color!) and the notebook with the totally cool cover? It just makes you want to write, doesn’t it?


I want to mention a few “tools” that I think make writing more fun and interesting. Maybe some things that might spark that idea, maybe bring back that motivation.


Pretty pens and paper. I’ve already mentioned this. I can’t even imagine writing a whole manuscript by hand, but I have several friends who do, and if that’s what works for you, at least do it in style.


Writing software. I’ve always written in Microsoft Word. I have friends who’ve used Scrivener for a long time, but I always balked against it. Why did I need it? But I finally went through a tutorial, and then I knew I had to have it. It has all the pretties, and it was fun playing with them. The biggest thing, though, is it made it easier to plot…something else I balked against. After I purchased this inexpensive software, my motivation went up. I feel more professional for some reason, and I’m being more productive. I know it’s a trick on my brain, but it works. If you’re interested, you can find the software here. Pssst! You can download a free trial!


Word count spreadsheets. I used to use boring spreadsheets. I was all about the spreadsheets, but they were still kind of boring. Then I found a site where they had all kinds of very powerful spreadsheets with THEMES. Now, when I go to my spreadsheet, I have Sam, Dean, and Cas watching me. (If you don’t know who they are, you should probably get a different spreadsheet, LOL.) You can find those here.


Various writing aids. Here’s a handy-dandy story blueprint from Susan Bischoff. If you feel overwhelmed, remember Susan is very detailed. You might be able to use only part of it (like me), but the more you work like this, the more this makes perfect sense and will help a lot. Also, Kait Nolan, our fearless leader, has some helpful downloads (which also include spreadsheets) here.


Craft books. Here is where I have to do the bowed head of shame. I’ve never read a craft book. EVER. But I’m going to change that. I’m mentioning craft books because I know they can be very useful to writers. I’ve had them recommended to me. I know they can make us better writers. So here are the two I plan to read: On Writing by Stephen King (because he’s, well, the KING). and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks (because I see this one recommended a lot by authors)


What tools do you use? Which ones refresh your motivation and make you WANT to write? Or are you thinking, “Is she crazy, how do tools help?” I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Lauralynn Elliott


Carving Out The Time By Lauralynn Elliott

But I just don’t have TIME to write! I have to do this, and this, and THIS.


These are things I’ve said before. While my house was in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome, ref. and paperwork piled up, you would think I was spending the time writing. But I wasn’t. So what was I doing with all that time I could be writing? Well, here’s what was happening. Since I started doing line editing (proofreading), I got so overwhelmed by it, my mind would shut down and I couldn’t handle anything related to work. So I was playing computer games. I was watching TV. I was messing around with my iPad. It’s amazing how much time can be spent on just those things. The next thing you know, it’s bedtime, the house is still cluttered, and no writing was done. That’s okay. I’ll think about that tomorrow. (I call that Gone with the Wind syndrome.)


So what can we do about our time? Can we add more hours into the day? Um, no, that’s kind of set in stone. Can we slow down the time? Nope. So what can we do? Make the time count. Use the time wisely. Prioritize. I know…this takes discipline, doesn’t it? And our inner rebel doesn’t like discipline. And, being creative people, we are free spirits. Right? But does that get things accomplished? I don’t think so. So I have a few things that I’ve learned, mostly about how to carve out bits of time to do the things that need to get done.


1)      Do the most important things first. That way, if you don’t get around to everything, you’ll know you did what had to be done.

2)      Find little snippets of time to do things. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in a short period of time. A little during your lunch break. Maybe a bit while dinner is cooking.

3)      Sprint. I’ve learned about this from two different sources. The first one has to do mostly with housework. On, she suggests doing housework in increments of 15 minutes. You work that long on one thing, take a break for a little while, then work on something else. FlyLady says you can do anything for 15 minutes. (My husband says you can’t hold your breath that long, LOL.) And then I learned how to do that with writing from Virginia Nelson (, a warm and funny lady who writes full time. I’ve taken her class three times, once at Buildin’ the Dream and twice at RNC. To sum it up, you write for 15 minutes (or whatever time works for you), then take a break to do something else (throw a load of laundry in the washer, get a cup of coffee, etc.). While you’re on break, you’re supposed to think about the next scene, then you go back for another 15 minutes and write that scene. Here’s the kicker. You can’t backspace or correct anything during your sprint. Get the words on paper. You can fix them later. This just KILLS my inner editor, but I’ve done it in her class, and it amazes me how many words I can write in 15 minutes (although, some of those words end up looking like words from the language of planet Jupiter). So using these two methods, you can get housework done and get writing done.

4)      Give yourself days off. Treat this like a real work week. I take off Wednesdays and Sundays, and I don’t write or edit on those days. If you don’t get a break, you burn out.

5)      Don’t procrastinate. How many times have we sat down to write, only to get on social media and play around because we don’t want to get started on our manuscript? Stop it. Social media isn’t the priority. See #1.

6)      Reward yourself with games and fun…AFTER you’re done writing. This one is hard for me. I love playing Big Fish games on my computer, and I want to do it RIGHT NOW. But good self-discipline will make me…well, see #1. I’m still working on this.


These are just a few things I had in my head. I’m currently working on two paid editing jobs, and another I’m working on when I can for a friend, and I’m trying to write my own book. I work full time. I NEED to read my own post over and over.


What about you? Do you find yourself needing more time? If so, you’ll need to carve it out from somewhere. Let’s all do what we can to be more productive!


Lauralynn Elliott

Fundrazr for Lauralynn Elliott Now With INCENTIVES

NOTE: This is a sticky post.  If it is past May 10th, please scroll down for the newest content.

Okay, so I’ve been woefully slow getting this out here.  Part of it has been personal scheduling, part of it was the close occurrence of other, more well publicized disasters.  Thankfully Susan Bischoff helped me out by creating the entry form.  THANK YOU SUSAN.

So, here’s how this is going to work.  A whole bunch of paperbacks and ebooks have been donated by various and sundry authors and have been assembled into prize packs.  Everyone who donates will be entered into a drawing to win one of the prize packs.  For simplicity’s sake, you have just as much chance of winning for donating $1 as you to for donating $100 (trying to figure out how to do it in some weighted fashion was one of the other things that held me up).   When you click through to the form, you will see that we ask for your paypal email address that you used to make the donation.  This is so we can confirm that you donated and also in order to notify you that you have won.  I know a great many of us write under pen names and therefore donated anonymously (since our Paypal accounts are under our real names).  This gets around that without breaking your privacy (certainly *I* won’t be sharing your real name or paypal address with anybody).  Only Lauralynn and myself will have access to those names (due to our access to the Fundrazr itself).

So, without further ado, the prize packs are as follows:

So hie thee to the Fundrazr to DONATE if you have not already.   And then go FILL OUT THE INCENTIVE FORM to select which price pack you’d like to be entered for.  We have raised a whopping $1766 so far.  I really want to see this top $2500, y’all!  SPREAD THE WORD!

Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

A week after we’ve launched and here’s the Fundrazr campaign update!  We’ve topped a whopping $1200 so far, which is fantastic, particularly considering all the much bigger happenings that have been taking over news and social media channels this week.  But here’s the shocker.  That $1200+ is from only TWENTY SIX PEOPLE.  26 y’all.  Remember what I said on Monday?  There are over 6,000 of you on this mailing list?  I’m just sayin’.  Now a whole bunch of you have gone out and bought Lauralynn’s books, which is fantastic.  Even more of you have tweeted about them, just as I asked, so thank you thank you.  Mr. Lauralynn is home from the hospital (WOO HOO!).  But he’ll still be out of work for at least a couple of months as he recovers so DON’T FORGET ABOUT US HERE.  I haven’t done as much as I intend yet because of the high profile tragedies this week, but more is coming.  There will be incentives and prize packs up for grabs for all those who donate.  The lowest possible donation is $1.  Just a $1 and you could get a shot at FREE BOOKS!   I swear I’m going to get that organized this week.  So that’s the update there.  Keep your eyeballs peeled.

In OTHER NEWS I hope you have all been making TIME for your WORDS (or pages, if you’re into editing right now).  Let us know in check ins.

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Midweek Check-In and a Fundrazr Update

UPDATE: The linky is now fixed (as are all the remaining Wednesday linkies that got cloned from the first screwed up one).

We all made it through tax day.  Joy.  It’s back to work.

In other news, if you were under a rock or out of town on Monday, we are running a Fundrazr campaign for our own Lauralynn Elliott.  Her hubby is in the hospital, meaning they’re both unable to work just now.  YOU CAN HELP.  I would insert the happy little progress bar, but of course it’s in javascript which doesn’t play nice with blogs…   Anyway, CHECK OUT the campaign and share about it.  Donate a $1.  Everybody can afford that.   Just skip that Jr. cheeseburger on the Wendy’s value menu this week…

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#ROW80 Writers Mobilize! Time To Help One Of Our Own!

I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled inspirational post (Elizabeth Mitchell’s words of wisdom have been rescheduled for May the 20th) because I need something from you.  The last time I did this was because my book Red got nominated for the DABWAHA Award in 2012 and I mobilized you all into a fun, heady campaign that got me past the first Round against Kendare Blake.  That was awesome.  And it showed me the power of this platform.

Now I’ve got something much more serious to talk about.  A way more important reason to mobilize.

If you have spent ANY time hanging out at #ROW80 then you’ve heard of Lauralynn Elliott.  She has been a sponsor just about every single round.  She’s one of the biggest #ROW80 cheerleaders and is absolutely fabulous about commenting and checking in on people.  And y’all, she needs our help.

Last week her husband was put in the hospital.  He’s got a massive blood clot in his lungs and another in his leg.  This is a hella dangerous condition to be in.  Lauralynn lost her best friend to the same thing a couple years ago.  In this case, it was caught, and he’s on blood thinners, but it takes time for these things to resolve.   Up to two weeks, according to the doctors.  And then there’s the recovery time after.  So Mr. Lauralynn can’t work right now and neither can Lauralynn herself.  And no work means no income.  In these difficult financial times, we all know that’s a really tough spot to be in.

But we can help!

I have a number of schemes in mind, so this will be developing over the course of the week.  Keep your eyes peeled.  Here’s what you can do (pick one or all–your choice!)

  1. First and foremost, if you are interested and able, go buy one (or more) of Lauralynn’s books.  That’s direct support of her as an author and will additionally help with her rankings on various and sundry sales platforms, which will increase her visibility.  They are available across all major ebook platforms, and several are available in paperback.
  2. Tell your friends.  If you aren’t able to purchase (and even if you are), take the time to tell your friends about her books.  Post a tweet or a FB status update.  Use those social media platforms to get the word out.  If you’ve got a friend who likes ghost stories, tell them about See Me.  Know a reader who love vamps?  Well Guardian Vampire is just for them.  This costs you nothing but a little bit of time and could make a big difference in her visibility.
  3. If you are a published author and you have an ebook or paperback you can donate to the cause, email me at kaitnolanwriter (at) gmail (dot) com.  I’m working on putting together some prize packs for another scheme.  More details to come when I know what I’m working with.
  4. There is a Fundrazr campaign for direct donations.  People, there are over 6,000 of you on the #ROW80 mailing list.  If everybody donated just $1, ONE, we could help out tremendously with two months of living expenses.  This bad boy comes equipped with every social media button imaginable so GO make your donation, whatever you can afford, and tweet, Facebook, Pin, Google+, email, whatever everybody to GET THE WORD OUT.
  5. And above all, drop by Lauralynn’s blog and let her know that we’re thinking about her and she and her hubby are in our prayers and thoughts.  

Why Haven’t You Finished Your Manuscript? by Lauralynn Elliott

Now before you come after me with pitchforks, I need to clarify what I mean. I know the title might have sounded almost like an accusation, but bear with me.

There are many legitimate reasons you might not have finished yet. One is that it may simply take that long to write and edit your book. There’s nothing wrong with that. Different books take different amounts of time to get ready. There’s also the fact that some people simply don’t have time to work on their books as much as they would like. But what if that reason is fear? I’ve listed two reasons (I’m sure there are many more) writers might fear “the end”, and what my answers are to those reasons. I’m certainly not the “know all” when it comes to fear, and others might have very different answers, so these are just my opinions. So here goes:

  1. 1.      Fear of not being good enough. I’ve seen this a lot. Many writers fear they aren’t good enough, or that the book they just wrote isn’t good enough. So they edit and tweak, adding here, taking away there. It’s good to edit and make the book the best you can possibly make it. But some just can’t leave it alone. I can tell you this…it will NEVER be good enough for some people. No matter how good your book is SOME people won’t like it. And it may never be good enough for you. No matter how long you fiddle with it, you may never be satisfied. After almost every book I’ve published, I’ve always thought of ways I could make it better. But, you know, at some point, you’re going to have to decide it’s done. Otherwise, you will never publish it. Let some beta readers look at it. Chances are, if your beta readers love it, others will, too. So take the chance. If you’re just fiddling with the book because you’re afraid, then stop doing that and call it “done”. The world will not come to an end.
  2. 2.      Fear of not selling/making money. This is a legitimate concern, but shouldn’t necessarily be a fear. Trust me, I know about this one first hand. In January and February of 2011, I made more money from one .99 book than I did at my day job. But I kept things realistic, knowing that every book I wrote wouldn’t take off like that. I had one other book that did very well, although not as well as the one that sold so many copies. None of my other books have sold anywhere near the copies the big seller did, even though they are better books. Right now, my sales numbers are terrible, and I’ve heard the same thing from other authors. There is a LOT of competition now. I know many of you want to do this as a career at some point, and I know it’s scary to think it may not happen. However…if you never publish your book, whether independently or traditionally, you most certainly WON’T make any money. An unpublished book can’t sell even one copy. So what do you have to lose? Publish the book.

I hope I haven’t been too harsh or forward in this post. But I really want to see all of you face that fear, conquer it, and get that book out there.  I want you to feel that sense of accomplishment and excitement that comes from knowing it’s out there. There are several of us at ROW80 that have published already, and we’re always here to give you encouragement and help however we can. This is a great community of writers, and I’m so glad I can be a part of it.


Lauralynn Elliott