October 29, 2014

Tricks for (writing) Treats

For years after Avon FanLit I struggled to finish a novel. At a romance conference in Portland, Oregon I told Courtney Milan, Darcy Burke, and Emma Locke about my latest historical novel and they all gave me the “we’ve heard this one before” look. Courtney said, “Yeah, but are you going to finish this one? You’d better…or ELSE!” 

I never finished that book.

Over the years, the characters in my unfinished books mutinied. They stole into my head at night. “When will I have my happy ending?” they asked, confusion etching their vague, unformed features. “When will you tell my story?”

Reader, I finally finished a book, and it’s going to be published by Avon. I wake up every day now with a wide smile and a sense of purpose. So what changed? What tricks finally worked?

I won’t sugarcoat anything. Of course I spent hours and days and nights sitting in a chair clacking away at my laptop like the fate of the universe hinged on me completing that novel. But what made me sit down in that chair and begin typing? Here’s my trick.

I got the idea from Alasitas, the Bolivian festival of miniatures. Alasitas is a festival revering Ekeko, the “god of abundance.” My husband and I visited the festival and saw people buying miniature babies, cars, diplomas, cell phones, stacks of money–anything their hearts desired. Afterward, they took their purchases to be blessed by an Andean priest – or yatiri – with incense and flower petals. Our Bolivian guide told us that if we truly believed, our wishes would come true. 




I created a miniature version of my Golden Heart© book. I shamelessly stole the delectable art from Tessa Dare’s fabulous A WEEK TO BE WICKED, photoshopped my name and title over it, and left the Avon Books logo, because Avon is my dream publisher. In January, before I knew I’d finalled in the contest, we visited the festival and I took my miniature book to be blessed. I placed it on an altar in my entryway and lit a candle in front of it. Every evening, after work, when I sat down to write, I kept that candle lit. I never let it go out while I was writing. That little book began to feel like it could become a reality. Because it wasn’t only on my hard drive, it was there, on that altar.

My dream rendered concrete. 

Altar Pic_Crop

I also created a storyboard with photos and descriptions of my main characters, locations, themes, and plot points. This helped as well because anytime I felt discouraged, I looked at that storyboard and all the fun, sexy characters, and began to believe that I could finish it this time. I could bring those characters fully to life. So they wouldn’t haunt my nights, demanding their happy ending.


Those are some of the tricks I used.

Are there unfinished manuscripts under your bed? Have you found a trick that works?

Happy Halloween!


15 thoughts on “Tricks for (writing) Treats”

  1. Oh My God, that is so cool! Even though, the ritual thing has never been a big part of my writing, I know it can work miracles for other writers. And, the little miniature book and laptop are so symbolic. Way to go, Lenora, you finished the book (and it’s outstanding!)

    And, now for Book 2….lol.

  2. I LOVE this!! And you know I’m thrilled you finished a book–which I knew would sell when you did it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your journey with everyone! xoxo

  3. Lenora,

    I LOVE this! What a great idea and mostly because it got you to finish the book and it SOLD! Many congrats, but also persistence pays off. Can’t wait for the next inspiration and your new novel with Avon!


  4. What a terrific and inspiring story! It reminds me of that book that came out awhile ago ‘The Secret’ (or something like that…you wish it, see it, poster-board it and it comes true.) I have nothing to lose in trying your method…anything to break this procrastination!
    Thanks for the interesting post and congrats on achieving your Avon dream!

    1. Absolutely, Sarah! Go for it!! Hope it works. I think the candle part is important. For some reason, keeping that flame lit felt like a vigil and a promise of future light.

  5. An interesting and awesome approach. I always say, “you do, what you do”. Doesn’t matter how you get it done. With the exception that you don’t leave a trail of dead bodies in your wake and your only defense is research. 😉

    Congrats and I can’t wait to read the book. I’m a huge Avon Author fan, and I’m sure I’ll quickly become one of yours.

  6. Lenora, I know I’m repeating what everyone else said, but…I love this!! I really do.

    It took me a long time to complete a novel too. I felt like a fraud for so many years! But once you finish that first book, it really spurs you on to write another and another because you *know* you can do it.

    Congrats again on your deal. I’m really excited to see another Dreamweaver make a dream come true!

  7. Lenora, Great post, and now I so want to visit Bolivia, LOL. :). I’ve heard of and done something like this before, though never for my writing. I have a few images that I see everyday in my “inspiration /dream” corner of my office, and I do now own the car in the picture. 🙂

    Maybe sometimes taking an action like you did helps reinforce what we want more clearly, and literally and figuratively keeps the flame of faith and hope burning. I’m so glad this has worked for you, and can’t wait to read your book. 🙂

  8. Lenora, I know I’m so late, but this was such a great post that I had to comment. This is so brilliant. To have that daily reminder, your dreams made concrete, all that visual inspiration. Wonderful. I love all the pictures of the miniatures, too. So cute. I’m so thrilled you finished your book, and I can’t wait to read it!! Here’s to many, many more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.