Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Writing Routine

If I said I had a real writing routine I’d be exaggerating. I try to keep ‘work hours,’ but I rebel against too much discipline. So every day is a new and different writing experience.

I usually write on and off all day. My four-year-old grandson and my daughter live with my husband and me, so I have a lot of distractions. Usually I don’t mind a few interruptions as long as they don’t come every five minutes, but when I have a deadline I need to concentrate. Friendly chatter can really throw me off.

Since I’m not a morning person I can’t start typing the minute I wake up. I drink my latte first (and instantly feel better) while I check e-mail and read my favorite blogs and news. A few hours later when the little guy goes off to pre-school I wander out to the sun porch, flop on the recliner loveseat and get to work. What a tough life!

In the afternoon my laptop and I disappear into my bedroom. If I don’t lock the door everyone parades in to chat. Even when I lock the door they either pick the lock or bang until I open the door. Maybe I should take myself off to a bookstore, but I’m afraid that would be the equivalent of a kid in the candy store. And truthfully, I can handle the foot traffic at home and occasionally I even welcome it.

Sometimes I stay on the porch even after my grandson comes home. Sparky, the Papillion normally drapes himself over my legs and the little guy squeezes in beside me with his Nintendo DS game and bowl of microwave popcorn which we share. I’ll write and they’ll play. I normally don’t get much accomplished. But that’s okay.

Although I’m not naturally a disciplined person, I try to bring some order to my manuscripts. I put together a notebook with notes about plot, character, basic outline, research, promotion opportunities etc. I easily forget my characters’ names, let alone their ages or eye color. Since I’m never sure I’m structuring my plot correctly, I use Michael Hague’s screenplay structure and map out what needs to be where. Adding a storyboard is also a great visual aid.

Oh, one of the most important things I do is make a timeline by putting the day of the week and story day—day 1, day 2 etc. at the beginning of each scene. This was my editor’s idea. If you do it as you write, it’s easy. You’d be amazed at how quickly I can get mixed up over pesky little details. Church scenes need to happen on Sunday morning, so I pay particular attention to the placement of these scenes. Balls and dinners can happen any day of the week, but not Sunday worship services! Once I even forgot that stores weren’t open on Sunday afternoons in 1899.

I try to write 1,000 or more words every day, but I often don’t make it. However, when a deadline looms I suddenly settle down and follow a writing plan. I stick to it. Fear of failure or missing a deadline is a very strong motivator.

It’s amazing how fast you can write when you have to. I’ll write 2,000 to 3,000 words per day when I’m finishing a manuscript. That’s a lot for me. The next day I’ll go back and reread what I wrote and edit a little. But I won’t spend much time on yesterday’s work. After I finish the story I’ll revise. I’ll probably edit several more times before the manuscript seems plausible and polished. If I have time I’ll leave the story alone for a week or two and then read and edit it again. I always find places to improve upon.

For me writing a first draft can be hard. Creativity takes a lot of energy. Sometimes the words won’t flow and sometimes the ideas run dry. But I find editing easier and therefore, I like to do it. Or maybe it’s just that I can stick with it for hours at a time and accomplish a lot relatively quickly.

So that’s how I write. We’re all different. My way might not suit you, but it works for me. Before I sold my first book I had to figure out how to keep motivated. Now I have to find ways to produce more and faster and how to be creative without the luxury of a lot of time for rewriting. Every phase of writing has its challenges. What are some of the challenges you encounter in your writing career?

Today I’m giving away a copy of Love on a Dime by yours truly, and a $15.00 gift card from and a copy of The Writer’s little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr.


  1. My 19-year-old daughter and I both enjoyed Love on A Dime. Bravo!

  2. Coffee pot's on. Also a pot of tea, and a big jug of MILK.

    I shared Love On A Dime with a lady at church, and she just returned it with the words "I loved it."


  3. Hi Cara Lynn!

    It is amazing how vastly different the Seekers are! It gives me hope for my book 2.

    I'd love to win and read Love on a Dime! May at maythek9spy dot com.

    My challenges right now include (especially) time management and prioritizing. And I'm still trying to finish revisions. After this 1st book, I know something needs to change so I'm more organized for the next ones.

    Again, you marvelous Seekers have been such a blessing! Thank you!

    Hey Helen! Thanks for getting us going today!

  4. Love on A Dime is now on my books to read list!
    Enjoyed the interview!!

  5. Hi Cara:

    I found “Love on a Dime” so interesting that I bought a real dime novel printed in 1887 to get more into the spirit of the story. I also bought the Kindle version of “Love on a Dime” so I could read the larger type and enjoy the reading experience even more.

    I’d just love to know if any of the same characters will be in your next book. Also, one of the big dime romance publishers at that time was Westbrook Company. Did that have any influence on the selection of the heroine’s name: Lilly Westbrook?

    Also one of the best selling authors at that time was simply called “The Duchess” and she seems a lot like your flamboyant, book store, book signing, touring author. Was “The Duchess” an influence?

    As you can see, I’m really into this dime novel thing!

    I really like your idea of using “Day 1” and “Day 2” on your manuscript. I’m going to adopt that idea right away.

    My challenge right now is I don’t like to edit. I’d much rather be writing a first draft. Yet all the writers so far have said they like editing. I guess that’s why they are published. I need an "Edit Your Book in a Month" contest! : )



    P.S. I have two copies of “Love on a Dime” so I’d like a chance to win the book on ‘Writing” by Smith.

    Vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

  6. Hi Cara Lynn!

    I totally understand needing to keep track of your novel's days. I usually either write it out like you do or make a fake calendar for the book.

    Love your sun porch!

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

  7. Hi Cara Lynn,

    Thanks for sharing your writing life! You know, I rebel against too much discipline too! So it's reassuring for me to hear that 'flexible' writers like us can still successfully complete and publish manuscripts! :)

    I'd love to be entered into the draw for any of the prizes. Thanks!


  8. Thanks for giving us a peek into your writing days. I always enjoy hearing how authors order their days and juggle their lives. I hope to read Love on a Dime soon!

    carlagad [at] gmail [dot] com

  9. Wow, Cara, we sound like we could be twins! The quickest way to keep me from producing is to surround myself with too much discipline. But, I'm working full-time so some self-discipline is necessary. I love to move around the house to work. My peak times to write are at night afterwork, after family (mine are teens but still distracting). My brain doesn't like to function before noon much less be creative.

    On the other hand, I am learning to be structured when I write so that I can pick the story up easily the next day. Things like outlining the entire story, listing out character details and backstory, keeping timelines. Since I write suspense my story lines often move at a faster pace, and I find that I struggle sometimes with the placement of the relationship scenes.

    I would love to read your book. Please drop my name in the hat.

  10. haven't read Love on A Dime and enjoyed your description of your writing life. Do you have any dogs in your books(as you have Sparky)? thanks.


  11. It's fun to read how each writer creates her stories. There are similarities, but each process is as different as each special Seeker! Thanks for sharing, Cara! (And I love the cover of your book!)

    reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

  12. Wow, it's always cool to see how writers work --everyone's so different! I'd love to win the gift certificate or "Love on a Dime" since I've never had the chance to read Mrs. James's work, and have seen good reviews on it. =) Thanks for the chance to win!


    @ Mr. Vince - Wow, that's a lot of neat information. =) I remember dime novels being mentioned some books by Louisa May Alcott and such.

  13. Hi Cara,

    Haven't had the chance to read Love on a Dime - would love to do so.



  14. I know what you mean about a kid in the candy store. Yesterday I went to a used bookstore for the first time just to check it out, and I got a little too excited at just the possibilities of what could be. gasweetheart211[at]netscape[dot]net

  15. Helen.


    I LOVE you.

    I'm not even kidding a little bit.

  16. Cara Lynn, have Love on a Dime and am looking forward to reading it. I appreciate all the hard work you put into it...especially with a four year old around. Those little bundles of love are definitely distractions!

    Thanks for sharing. Please put me in the drawing. Our library gets any duplicates I may have.

    Peace, Julie

  17. Okay, sipping, reveling in good coffee....


    Have I mentioned lately how proud I am of you? And I can just picture you with the dog and the kid, monkeying around, at your feet, winding themselves around your legs...

    Oh my stars, hysterical. And stinkin' cute.

    I love this glimpse into Cara-land. Wonderful stuff. And you've successfully turned Vince into a dime novel afficionado, so whoa.... good going, girlfriend.

    I brought donuts because I'm working on a construction site (imaginary) right now, and there's no time for me to wash up and cook.

    Donuts and coffee. Breakfast of THIS champion.

    (No offense, Wheaties.)

  18. Thanks for sharing your writing experience with us. I know it must be hard to write sometimes. My mind would start wondering. By the way, it must really be hard to sit in that recliner out in the sunroom! haha. Would love to read Love On A Dime. I hear it's very good. Thanks for giving away a copy.

  19. Cara Lynn,

    Thanks for sharing. I relate to your use of "Day 1" and "Day 2." I had to adopt a similiar method, as I quickly found out how easy it is to forget what day it is in a story and I had to shuffle through past pages just to find where I was at.

    I hate to admit it, but I haven't read Love on a Dime. But I'll definitley be picking it up.


  20. If you go out to the sunporch to write I take it you live in warmer climes. LOL.

    I read Love on a Dime when it first came out and loved it. I'm anxiously waiting the sequel which I think is due out in January -- am I right?

    I have a question -- and if you don't know it, I bet Vince will. :-) What is the difference between Dime novels and Penny Dreadfuls?

  21. Cara--sounds like your day is packed from start to finish! And I can really relate to the needing to keep track of the timeline of the story. That's how my story calendars are set up so I don't get hopelessly lost! Thanks for letting us take a peek at your writing world!

  22. Good morning! I just started drinking my first latte of the morning, and I'm not quite coherent yet.

    I got my editorial letter yesterday for Love by the Book, my third book in the Ladies of Summerhill series. It's amazing to me how editors can spot problems and inconsistencies so easily. Good thing!

    I read the letter over, then went back to the beginning, and wrote notes in the margins about how I wanted to fix a problem. After getting editorial letters for 3 manuscripts I'm beginning to see my weaknesses. I love secondary characters and I love to plot, but I can tie things up so tight I forget about the romance! I need to focus on the hero and heroine and not get too involved with their friends and enemies. They can have their own stories some day.

    I'm going to finish my coffee and have breakfast and then come back. Any one want to join me? I'm in nw Florida right near I 10.

  23. Cara,

    That's a great idea keeping track of days before a scene. I discovered yesterday that I had days out of order on a chapter by chapter synopsis, so I will now start implementing this idea.

    Love on a Dime is in my stack of to read books.

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  24. Ahhhh Cara mia, I can so picture you on your sunporch.

    Cara has the cutest camper so I picture her on the beach in that often. Sorry Cara for telling on you, but I love picturing you on the white sands.

    LOVE ON A DIME was wonderful. I can hardly wait for the next one.

    Vince, what a wealth of info. How fun to go buy a dime novel. Looking at Cara's office, I bet she has some. Do you?

    Since Ruthy's got dirty hands, I'll bring some English muffins smothered with orange marmelade (Florida oranges of course although we have yummy oranges in Arizona also)

    And there are platters of cheeses and fruit.

    Have a great day Cara.

  25. Wow there are a lot of MACers out there among the Seekers. Who knew.

    Great post Cara!

  26. The difference between a Dime Novel and Penny Dreadful is nine cents?


    I brought Dr. Pepper - regular and diet and caffeine free of both. I also brought stacks of chocolate chip cookies for my newly created National "Some Thing or Other" Day [a catch-all for when you've forgotten Bosses Day or Executive Assistant Day or 'I'm so Glad You're My Doctor' Day].

    So Happy National 'Some Thing or Other' Day since I'm quite certain I missed everyone's birthdays ;).


    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  27. Great writing life, Cara! You say you're not disiplined, but hey, you roll out those books as the editor sets the deadlines.

    To me, that's the ultimate discipline!!

    I'm torn between bearing the interuptions at home and going someplace, too. I've found that bookstores are way more distraction, so I go the Panera Bread about a mile away. I learned I can write at Panera's with a cup of coffee and a nibble at ACFW in Indy. Best workshop I attended, LOL!

    You look so comfy in your recline, Cara. I'd be sooooo tempted to snooze...

    Speaking of coffee, I need to grab another cup. Thanks Helen!!

  28. Thank you to everyone who mentioned they enjoyed reading Love on a Dime! I'm glad inspirational novels can be read by all age groups, from teenagers to grammies. That's me.

    Helen, except for lattes and capuchinos I like tea the most. In fact we have a Krupps single cup 'beverage maker' that makes the world's best coffee, tea and hot chocolate. We also have a Pavoni capuchino machine we bought in Italy about a million years ago before fancy coffees became popular.

    Robyn, I don't have any dogs in my books but I think I will in the next series set in NY. I love my dog and I'm afraid a dog would become a too important secondary character!

  29. I also find that writing the first draft is harder. I enjoy the editing process a lot more, still there's nothing like filling a completely blank page with a story never read before!

  30. Thanks so MUCH Cara Lynn. Would LOVE to win the book (joanne(at)joannesher(dot)com).

    I'm a writing "in between times" person - while I wait for something is a pretty common time for me to get my words out.

  31. CARA!!! Sooo fun seeing your routine along with pics!!

    I knew we were soul sisters far beyond our Cor Jesu roots!! Your routine sounds a lot like mine -- especially the part about writing out on your porch (i.e. my lower deck) in your recliner (i.e. my feet up on my cushy patio-living-room style chair and ottoman) sipping lattes (i.e. hazelnut coffee in my special mug or sometimes in my Gone With the Wind mug on weekends).

    Oh, your publisher is SOOO smart!! Timelines are a MUST for me as well, only I had to learn the hard way when I got to my 3rd book and had more dates and holidays swimming in my brain than total characters and years in my series. Consequently, I also HAVE to work with a timeline (and birthday/anniversary/children chart), especially now that I am on my sixth book about the same family. And like you, I write on and off all day, only my interruption is not a cute, little grandson, but a cute, little hubby who comes down to see me periodcially bearing gifts such as cookies or snacks. :)

    Finally, I tend to drive hard at the end of a manuscript, too, going in to the zombie state that my family nervously refers to as "end of book mode," where I only think, eat and sleep BOOK, often writing up to 5,000-6,000 words a day by working ALL DAY AND NIGHT until 5:00 AM in the morning.

    I LOVE these wonderful peeks into the writing lives of the Seekers -- SOOO fun!!


  32. Cara,
    How fun to see you "in action!" Love both pics...especially your office. It's worthy of the inside jacket for your NYT bestseller! You look so...well, so literary. I'm impressed.

    Ruthy didn't mention your neat office, but I certainly noted the difference between where you work and where I do. Hmmm? Perhaps I need to clean off my desk. :)

    I'm going to do the daily timeline at the top of each scene from now on. Thanks for the tip!

  33. Hi, Cara Lynn! I'm all for reading as many books as I can get my hands on. :D Thanks for throwing one of your books into the drawing. My email is:

    lr. mullin at live. com

    My health issues both help and hinder me when it comes to writing. I can't do a lot at a time physically, so writing is my outlet. My brain churns and keeping it active through writing keeps me from going bonkers. Then, there are days like today when I'm really struggling with even thinking. As you said, it takes a lot of energy to be creative. Chronic pain and fatigue can be a bit distracting. :-)

    Other than that, there are days when my family needs me to set aside my writing and catch up. When they start running out of clean clothes and there's no clean glasses to drink out of or utensils to eat off, it's time to take a day off writing. I still try to get in a bit of writing even on those days, but I'm kind of an all or nothing person and it's hard for me to focus for a short span of time. I have four boys and a hubby: two in high school, one in Jr. High, and a preschooler at home. They are all loving and very supportive of my writing and don't complain too much as long as they don't run out of clothes, food, or dishes.

    So there you have it. My distractions to writing.


  34. Dear Seekers,

    I've been enjoying my time here with you this month. I think you have a permanent follower in me. :D You're a great bunch of gals and I appreciate all the help you've been to me as well as the friendships I've made. Thanks for taking time for me a newbie!


  35. It is really interesting to read about all of the different writing processes.

  36. What an interesting look into your writing day, Cara -- I've enjoyed that sneak peek into all the Seekers' routines.

    I also write in snatches -- around the 'real' job, the kids and DH, the homework, the piano/dance/trumpet lessons ... I'm learning to do what I can in a few stolen moments instead of waiting for the uninterrupted hour that rarely comes along.

    Love on a Dime is on my wish list, even before today's post. :-) I love that so many of you Seeker ladies write stories that I enjoy but that I can also pass on to my girls at church (and their moms!).

    Socked in with more rain today (3 1/2 in. yesterday). Will be a great day to write if I can get job stuff out of the way!

    leighdelozier at bellsouth dot net

  37. Vince, I'm going to buy an old fashioned dime novel if I can get one! I read a lot about real dime novels and the authors who wrote them, but I didn't base Fannie Cole or Elna Price on any particular one. I was surprised that a few of the really popular ones made a lot of $. They had their equivalent of Nora Roberts even then. Or maybe Barbara Cartland.

    Lilly and Jack make cameo appearances in Love on Assignment and Love by the Book and George appears in Love by the Book with a new wife. I won't tell who she is! I think I'd like to bring back some of the secondary characters in my new NY series. In real life many of the Newport cottagers returned to NY for the winter.

    Dianna, it's hard for me to stay organized, but I discovered I have to. I don't know all my scenes ahead of time, but they come to me as I write. But I have to know the ending and what has to happen in the middle. How the characters get through their trials comes a little at a time. Using Hauge's structure alerts me to when another turning point is about to pop up. Even a barebones outline gives me reassurance I won't get too lost in the weeds.

  38. Challenges for me is balancing everything else in my life - like homeschooling my 11th grade son, and keeping up with the house and remembering to plan meals! :)

    I like how we each approach writing from a different angle perhaps, but God still uses us to spread His Word.

    Jodie Wolfe

  39. Until last year I had the son and granddaughter living with us along with two of my other children. Now I'm down to two and have to juggle carpools, granddaughter afterschool care, and a child's athletic schedule. I loved the visual of popcorn, grandchild and dog while you try to write. For me, most work happens in the morning while everyone is busy and away. Thanks for sharing your day. It's so much fun to see the things we have in common and the things we do differently. That's why I love it when writers share their routine.

  40. My challenge in the last year has been forcing myself to work on a new novel in the midst of wondering if or when a book is going to sell and force me to stop what I'm doing to edit. Also, trying to be creative on a new book while feeling distracted with the marketing stuff. I could literally work on marketing 8 hours a day. I don't want to, but the nagging feeling that maybe I should be doing more is a killer for trying to work on a new story! Plus, right now my hubby is home all day and is sharing my computer! I'm trying to train myself to use the laptop, but I really prefer the desktop. Pray he gets a job ... soon!

  41. Cara Lynn,
    I'm a recliner writer too! It's interesting to read about another writer's routine.

    BTW, DeAnna Dodson is talking about her latest venture in work for hire publication on my blog.

  42. Please enter my name for the giveaway! It would be a joy to win your book, Cara, especially when I read and understand how much effort, heart, and love is put into your writing!

    God bless you supremely today and every day:)

  43. Well, thanks Deb I was trying to IGNORE her neat office so people wouldn't think I just like go off on TANGENTS about other people's good habits while I obviously have very little control of my own...

    But now that you mention it, it looks TOO NEAT to me.


    Stifling creativity neat.

    And it's in sun-soaked Florida, to boot.

    Just one more reason to hate it.

    And now I feel better.

    Grabbing pumpkin spice latte, oh my stars, I live for the months of pumpkin spice latte.

    And God, of course.

    First God, in all manners.

    Then chocolate and pumpkin spice latte.

    And where's Keli Gwynn???

    I'm missing her.

  44. Cara, Its fun to picture you writing--or trying to--on the sunporch, sharing popcorn with your grandson and the dog at your feet. Locked doors never worked when my kids were little. I can still see those little fingers wagging at me or slipping a note under the door.

    I can't wait to read your next book!! You do such a lovely job describing Newport and the Gilted Age.

    Wow, three prizes today! Seekerville birthdays are such fun!

    Thanks for the coffee, Helen, and doughnuts, Ruthy.


  45. That sounds like a very fun way to write!

    Well, my stomach is starting to grumble, so I'm off to make a smoothie.


  46. I'm a SOTPer, yet I struggle to be patient and let the work grow organically, not panic when I can't see the whole story picture in advance. Doesn't seem to make sense with an SOTPer, but it happens to me. Also, the push to just keep writing, even if it it's a struggle and words seem to fail.

    Thanks for sharing. Oh, and sign me up please!

  47. The real basic thing everyone can learn from this month of "How I Write" is that we're all different.

    There's no right or wrong system. It all works if it works for you.

    I do kinda wish I had a porch and a leather chair though. :( Cara gets all the cool stuff!!!!

  48. Oh, and, like Vince, I like the timeline idea.

    I need to do that.

    What happened on what day...that's the kind of detail that gets lost in the mist for me. If I'm not careful my books take place over a 24 hour period. I tend to just really 'forward march' through the plot. But that's not really long enough for even fictional characters to fall in love.

  49. Melanie, I so feel your frustration! Hubby being without work is hard on everyone. Hopefully he will find work soon. It's hard because they spend hours a day on the web searching for jobs. I love my laptop. Sitting at a desk is hard on me, but I understand completely what it's like to try to work outside your comfort zone.


  50. I share my sunporch office with my husband sometimes. He uses my very slow desktop for looking things up on the internet. His computer in 'his room' (a den) died a while back. He cleaned up the mess so the desk area looked good!

    This is my schedule for today so far: I checked into Seekerville several times, reread my editorial ltr again and mulled over the changes I need to make. And wow to make my next story less complicated plot-wise because it's so hard to alter after the mss is finished. If you pull out the wrong thread the whole thing can unravel!

    I continued reading Plot versus Character by Jeff Gerke. It's helping me to fix my character arc. I love to read books on writing, so this seems really indulgent. But it's really important.

    BTW, I may or not have mentioned this--My first few books took years to finish, but my third one only took 4 1/2 months of actual writing for 90,000 words. A yr. ago I wouldn't have believed I could possibly do that. When you have a contract you do what you have to do.

    Soon I'm going to the bank to make a car payment (son's car, not mine), stop in at BAM and then go to lunch with my husband. Some days are so much easier than others! This afternoon and tonight I'll make more comments on my editorial ltr. and read more of Plot vrs Character.

  51. Cara,

    A sunporch in Florida! I'm green with envy! I love Florida!


    Thanks for sharing your writing day. I'm a very undisciplined writer - especially for new material. I can edit until the cows come home, but create new stuff... The creative winds have to move me!

    Your book is on my wish list, too! Sign me up for the draw!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  52. Cara Lynn,

    your routine sounds so much like mine it's almost scary. Although I have to have my tea, English style, before I move well when I get a morning to stay home that is. Otherwise, I have the grandkids, one is a door knocker extraordinaire.

    I used to have a set schedule but it got lost in life somewhere. Glad to know I'm not the only one dealing with this kind of writing life.


    Tina P.

  53. Cara, I really enjoyed this peek into your writing life. I love the timeline idea, too. I incorporated it for the first time with my last story, and boy howdy, did it help me out!

    ericavetsch at gmail dot com

  54. Oh my! I am bouncing a little. I have spent waaaaay too much time trying to figure out what day it is in my manuscripts. I am borrowing you agents fabulous advice and numbering my days from now on. You just saved me sooo much time. More time for my kids - if they still recognize me LOL

  55. What I am continually amazed with is that no two people right alike. I have enjoyed hearing how everyone writes and then looking at how they all mesh together to perform one major highbreed!

    I have already read LONAD. Fun story. :)


  56. Time management will always be a challenge, I suspect. Making time and then keeping that time. Making the most of the time so that the writing is productive.

    Then there's that muddling middle that I still struggle with. My husband has always wished for a flying car, to get from point A to point B, much faster than modern transportation allows. I'd like to fly to from the beginning to the end, the middle somehow appearing and working. Magic! Just like that!

    But it's one of those things that I know I'll get better and better at with practice, so I'm encouraged.

  57. Quick addendum, I find it difficult to write without a dog around. It's almost a must.

    Judging from photos, it might be for y'all too! Ha!

    And they make excellent heroines - ha!

  58. Hi Kav:

    The Penny Dreadful cost a penny, was marketed to teenagers, and published novels in serial form: a chapter or so each month.

    The dime novel was a complete book.

    BTW: a dime was not cheap. A dime back then equaled about one hour’s pay for the working woman the book was written for. That’s about $8 to $10 today. The book I am reading now, “Edna’s Vow” is very well written and I have found very few typos. The only thing cheap about the book was the paper and printing process. I’m going to review “Edna’s Vow” when I’m finished. It should be fun.


  59. Hi Cara:

    If George marries who I think you have in mind, as improbable as it may seem, please keep it a secret! (And please don’t let them mention it on the back cover blurb.)

    I think your plotting is so strong, that you might want to consider writing mystery stories. How about a new line for Steeple Hill: Love Inspired Historical Suspense? (I can just see Lilly Westbrook becoming an amateur detective ala “Murder She Wrote” and solving murders that her husband’s newspaper reports about.)

    BTW: I got my dime novel on Ebay ($10). They have many dime novels. Some are quite expensive. I have a picture of my dime novel, “Edna’s Vow” along with the whole first page on my website:

    The book is very well written.

    Can you just imagine what that author’s workplace looked like? What would her post look like on this blog? I wonder which “How To” books she would recommend. It’s a little daunting to think that I might have the only remaining copy of her book in the world. That gives me a very special link, back in time, to the author.

    “Love on a Dime” is just so much extra fun if you’re into writing. Ordinarily, I don’t like romances about romance writers because almost every page reminds me that I am reading a romance and that takes me out of the story. Somehow, “Love on a Dime,” being a historical novel didn’t do that to me.


  60. Great post! Thanks for sharing your writing life with us. :-)


  61. What a great tip about making sure you have the days of the week figured out! Looks like I'm not the only one who appreciated that one. Thank you for sharing your writing routine. It's fun to see how other writers get it done. Have a great day!

  62. So fun to get a glimpse into your writing day, and I am so envious of your sun porch!

    You know, Cara, I'm having a really hard time imagining a retired Naval officer as undisciplined!

    Or . . . do you have a teensy little rebellious streak, perchance???

    I'm another writer who absolutely has to keep some sort of timeline to track my scenes. Mine is usually an Excel spreadsheet set up like days on a calendar (visit my Web site,, for a link to my template). I jot brief notes about what happens on each day as I write the book.

  63. Yea! It's Cara Lynn.
    And, I like the editing phase too. For me the 'hard' work (of keeping my focus, finding the time, and keeping my seat on the seat) is over. Editing fits really well into small bursts of time (IMO).

    Thanks for sharing.
    And LOVED meeting you Cara Lynn - and making fish faces at Mary with you :-)

    I already have Love on Dime.


  64. Ruthy,
    I'm tempted to send you a picture of MY office, so you'll feel better.

    Grabbing food on the run. It's awfully late for lunch in the eastern US.

  65. I'd love to win any of the prizes.

    andeemarie at gmail dot com

    I'm loving all the writing methods revealed in these posts. I'm getting very encouraged. Last night I pulled out a guide sheet that I printed off the Internet and started working out my story. I got only through the first step, but hey, it's a start.

  66. Myra, I didn't retire from the Navy. I served (and also had fun!) for 8 yrs. But I husband retired after 20. He even graduated from the Naval Academy, but he's so messy!!! He never throws anything away. Fortunately he's wonderful in every other way. He's like me--his mind is organized and his paperwork, but nothing else is. There's more to life than a neat house.

    Vince, I've thought of writing historical mysteries or historical suspense. And I'd love to have Lilly and Jack as my sleuths. I don't know what my editor would think about that. My favorite books are historical mysteries.

    The nice thing about writing is we can all do our own way. As long as we do the job we can sit on the floor or on a recliner or at a desk and no one cares.

  67. As I read the comments, I got to thinking about some of the things I've done with my story, and I realized (with pleasant surprise) that I've naturally done some of the things that seem to work best for some of the Seeker writers. I find reflections of both Cara's and Glynna's styles in the mish mash I like to call a WIP. Again, that's SO so encouraging. I'm thanking God for Seekerville pretty regularly these days.

  68. I'm wanting to read Love on a Dime soon! I saw it on amazon a while back but it wasn't out at the time.

    we need a post on 'how I read'! let's see...I read at work on night shift and weekends when it's super slow(hardly every!) or on bed after work to unwind..I'd be a shriveled up prune from tub reading if they'd make these suckers waterproof! I hardly ever read in the living room though that may be because I can't find the couch...

    when I was in college working a student lab assistant we had a nursing chemistry class meeting one summer and one lady had like 6 or 7 kids from 2 up to teen..her hubby hooked up their rv in the drive and she'd go out there after dinner and stay til she was ready for bed!

  69. Cara, thank you for this glimpse into your writing style. You seem more disciplined with your writing time than me. I need a timeline, too. I envy you with your recliner on the porch there in FL. The biggest challenge for me is to maintain momentum with a new WIP and still seek publication with another completed MS. I enjoyed Love on a Dime and look for Love on Assignment soon. I'd love to see Lilly and Jack as sleuths in a mystery. I'd like to be entered for the bookstore gift ctfe. Thanks so much.

  70. Vince -- I knew you would have the answer!!! (about the difference between dime novel and penny dreadfuls) I just love saying 'penny dreadful'. :-) I'm jealous you uncovered a real honest-to-goodness dime novel. I'll have to keep an eye out for your review!

  71. Melanie,
    When my debut was released, I felt the same way you do. I wanted to get out and market. Then I realized the next book needed to be written. Didn't take me long to feel stretched in two different directions. Now I always opt with writing the next book. Not that I don't market. But the writing comes first.

  72. Pepper, send your office pic to Ruthy and she can send it on to me! Are you visual? I'm sure my office is scattered with papers for that reason...I need to keep things out where I can see them.

    At least that's what I keep telling myself.

    Ruthy, are you a visual learner?

  73. Oh Debby,
    I could just hug you.
    THAT's what it is! I'm a visual learner. I can tell my husband to stop calling me a slob ;-)
    In all seriousness, I AM a visual learner and stuff stays all over my desk, possibly on the wall, definitely on the floor. It's overwhelming for the uneducated onlooker - or perfectionist.

    My neighbor is a little OCD and one time she looked into my office and started hyperventilating. Good thing is... I can still sleep even if there is dirty laundry in the laundry room. :-)

    My office is an extension of my brain...a printing press explosion of somewhat related information ;-)

    I accepted it.

  74. Cara Lynn, thanks for sharing your writing routine. I'd love a chance to win Love on a Dime. It looks really interesting.

    Everyone, thank you for your prayers for my family. Things are starting to look up. My mom's doing MUCH better. My dad is hopefully coming home next week. And WE SOLD OUR HOUSE!!! *party* On the down side, my sister broke her foot on Sunday and had her wisdom teeth pulled today. Thankfully that is all temporary. She is looking on the 'bright side' of this being great research for her writing. And mine as well. :)
    Praise the Lord!

  75. Oops, I forgot my e-mail:

  76. I'm laughing about where do we read. I read everywhere and anything and as often as possible. In my senior year in college just before graduation my seminar class had to read the entire Tolkien trilogy--about 1200 plus pages--in one week and write a 15 to 20 pg. paper. One of my friends read all 3 bks. while soaking in the tub!

    I'll read cereal boxes etc. I'm Cara Lynn and I'm a happy readaholic.

  77. Vince, Edna's Vow makes me want a Dime Novel. I'm going to eBay!


  78. It was great to read more about Cara's writing routine. It's been a fun month celebrating with you all. Happy Seeker Birthday!
    carrie (at) turansky (dot) come

  79. I never heard the term readaholic before. I love it:) I think I'm one too.

    Mary M

  80. Hi Janet:

    I just checked 344 dime novels on eBay and the below are romances under $10. Most dime novels are Westerns and Mysteries.



    BTW: I just researched the Woman’s Dime Novel Project and found this:

    “One of the best selling authors in the 19th century was Laura Jean Libbey who had 82 best selling sensational romances!”

    Now, why is that not a surprise? She was making $60,000 a year when a dime was worth about $8 and there was no income tax.


    P.S. I'm printing out two WIPs -- over 800 pages -- that's why I have time to shop eBay. : )

  81. Vince,
    guys wrote dime novels too, right?
    F. Marion Crawford called his works 'pocket theatre'. Was that the same thing?

  82. Vince that is so interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  83. Cara, I'm thinking I need to find a writing schedule. Right now we have only one computer, my laptop, and since we homeschool the kids often need the computer. If it's not the computer it's me.

    The toughest part of writing for me has to be the revisions. I have three manuscripts all through the first draft! I seem to stumble over the revision process. I'm not sure if it is me or my cps (I have awesome cps, don't get me wrong) but something in my brain trips me up after I receive feedback. Not sure how to figure that one out.

    Anyway, I'm a huge fan! Can't wait for Love on Assignment to come out. Love on A Dime was fantabulous!

    reneelynnsott [at] gmail [dot] come

  84. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraOctober 28, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    Thank you Cara for sharing with us. I haven't gotten a chance to read Love On A Dime but I would love to get a chance too.

    fantum2004 AT sbcglobal DOT net

  85. I enjoyed reading about your writing routine. The timeline sounds like a great idea. I had thought about using one but hadn't gotten past thinking about it. That's usually my problem...I create great stories in my mind I just need to formulate them on paper. Thank you for sharing. I would love to be entered into your giveaway.

    Cindy W.


  86. Some of the dime novel authors made a ton of money. Maybe we're all writing in the wrong century, although there isn't anything we can do about it!

  87. Cara, so fun! Thanks for sharing about your writing day. Our photos are similar. Wait till tomorrow to see. :) Writing on a cream colored couch with a Mac. ;)

  88. I'm currently reading Love on a Dime. Wonderful book.

    I like the idea of putting the days and dates at the top. I do that on an Excel spreadsheet, but not with the chapter as I'm writing.


  89. So glad to hear another (published!) writer who has a routine similar to mine. There's still hope!

    Mary Kay
    Mary [at] MaryKayMoody [dot]com.

  90. Cara Lynn just had to say I picked up a copy of your book here in the city on Wednesday.

  91. I loved getting a glimpse into your writing schedule. I have a similar one, but certainly not as successfully as you. I don't have one of your books yet, but intend to buy Love on a Dime as soon as I get paid again.

    Keep up the good work.

  92. Looka like we have a lot in common! As I am reading a lot that goes on ur day is similar to mine:) I have a 4 yr old but he only goes to school one day a week.
    I always try to write 1k a day:)
    Thanks for sharing your day. Nice to meet you, Cara Lynn!