Tag Archives: Kait Nolan

My ROW80 Role Models

Over the last few weeks as people have been decompressing their Round 3 achievements or opportunities, and preparing for Round 4, it seemed I was not the only one who felt they fell short of what they wanted to accomplish.  I believe the phrase Gene used was “Chaos happens.”

Even our fearless founding leader, Kait, struggled with balancing the day job and the writing – though the outcome for her word count was tremendous and she deserves a medal!

So while I thought I was a big slacker niblet noob (yah, I’m owning that phrase), turns out, I wasn’t alone!  Many of you, through Facebook and my blog, shared your own “chaos theories” and barriers that made round 3 not as momentous as we all would have liked.  But in keeping with last week’s theme, it’s all about the learning lessons.  

So I’m challenging myself to do things differently for Round 4.

The definition of stupidity is trying the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

I’ve never claimed the title Stupid.  Disgustingly and annoyingly persistent perhaps, but I’ve synonymed it:  Perseverance!  And I’m also really good at taking  liberty with parts of speech, like say turning a noun into a verb!  See my talent abound!

Ok, back to ROW80!  I am a people person.  I am inspired by people – things they say, questions they ask, stories they share.  Many of us are in ROW80 because we have a support system here where people will empathize with us through the hard times and scream and cheer with us through the good ones!  Since this round is going to be a much smaller set of goals for me, I want to use my time to highlight MORE OF YOU! 

Every week, I’m going to call out a Role Model of ROW80!  And this week’s winners of Fame and (no) Fortune are Kait Nolan and Gene Lempp.  You can read their specific ROW posts by clicking the links at the top of this post, but these will take you to their blogs as well!  Kait and Gene are both honest and incredibly helpful individuals who dedicate as much time to their writing as is humanely possible.  But both know that life does get in the way.  I’m really psyched for the two of them and their new strategies to accomplish their Round 4 goals.

For me, they gave two big takeaways that will help me set my goals:

  1. Writing everyday is not realistic for us all.
  2. When you know “Life” is going to drop you into an Indiana Jones movie set and watch you run, set small, achievable goals. 

*applause, applause*

Thank you Kait and Gene for those stellar bits of advice!  I was racking my brain trying to discern how I would tackle writing every day or setting big goals for ROW when I’m working 12+ hour days, and will be throughout the holidays.  The writing plan that works best for me now is maximizing my precious days off to work on writing and crank out the: blog posts, plotting, journaling, WIP – whatever needs to get out.

As an example, Kait set a goal for herself to write 2/3rds of the days of the month (or 20 out of 30 days) which allots her days of guilt free reality check happiness, yet also demonstrates she’s a lean, mean (not really) writing machine!

What I expect Kait does 10 out of 30 days of the month.
(image courtesy Mrs. Inman – Creative Commons)

And Gene shared that he combats life interruptions by breaking his goals down into weekly goals, and then into tiny bite size daily goals.  He’s able to keep ongoing track of his accomplishments and opportunities and adjust as needed.

That fact alone is why you all need to be friends with Gene.  He is excellent at calming the jittery, wide-eyed faces of a writer in meltdown.  I shall now refer to him in all future posts as Gene Lempp, The Writer Whisperer.

Yah, he’s like that cool.
(image courtesy Mrs. Inman – Creative Commons)

So, taking what I learned from this week’s Role Models of ROW, I shall create a weekly plan of what I want to accomplish but give myself the wiggle room to know it may not happen every day.  Which reminds me of something else Gene taught me, and has since become the mantra for my life – See what I mean…The Writer Whisperer!  Gene reminds me from time to time that I may not be moving as fast as I’d like to, but I am still moving forward.  One day at a time, right?!

This week:  

  • Read one chapter of Stephen King’s On Writing
  • Finish reading Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer – prepare to discuss with Great New Books
  • Journal something – I have a lot to get off my mind and this process helps.
  • Blog ahead 3 posts. 


Your turn!  What are the big takeaways you’re implementing this ROW80 round?  Who’s been a role model for you?  Please share a link for that person, I’d love to meet them!  What are the focuses this week on your goal list?

#ROW80: Embarrassing Family Photos, Founders Day Appreciation, and Goal Update

First week check in for ROW80!  Round 3 has begun.  How are you all doing?  If summer’s got you down, feeling like you’re behind in your goals or missing out on all the barbecues, check out my guest post at the ROW blog this week on balancing family and friends along with your writing.  I titled it:  I Love You.  Forever.  Now Get Lost!  Go read it, you get to see a funny picture of me with my parents.  They don’t know I posted it!!!

For all you ROWers, how well do you know our ROW founder, Kait Nolan?  Test your Kait knowledge and learn even more in Kait’s fantasy revealing interview with me and about her single serving guilty pleasure!  Both posts are filled with trademark Kait Nolan banter, you’ll love it!

And Now Back to Business:

The Goals: 

  • Finish First Draft of Women’s Fiction Piece – Write at least 4x week and complete 5-10 pages at least each day.
  • Read On Writing by Stephen King– First book of my Catch up on Craft Initiative
  • Read 2 Fiction Books a Month
  • Prepare for Summer Vacation – Joe and I are planning a road trip out west in a month, so I will need to get blog post prepped ahead, stock up on sunscreen, do the laundry that is mounding in my closet, and corral all the camping gear up in the next weeks.
  • Read Suze Orman’s Women and Money– I’s working on my savings!!!  *jingles piggy bank*
  • Be a Role Model and Cheerleader in my ROW80 Sponsor Role

How’d I do?  Great!  On the goals I worked on this week.  I actually gave myself permission to enjoy summer for a few days and just catch up on reading and vacation planning (plus I knew I had some late nights at the day job, so this way they didn’t interfere).  Therefore, no writing on the WIP, just blogging occurred.


But, I finished reading Blessings by Anna Quindlen and will get a review up soon.  I made headway on the Janet Evanovich book too, and I did some research on the sites Joe and I are going to visit on our vacation in a few weeks.  And oh yah, I went and visited blogs again!!!  It was so nice chatting with all of you again!

This week it’s back to the grindstone.  Blogging ahead, work on the WIP at least 4 days, and keep reading, reading, reading!

How are you guys doing?

Kait Nolan is Cuckoo for Cookie Dough

Welcome to another bandit version of Guilty Pleasures Friday!  Taking over my blog today is the amazingly-mostly-glutton-free Kait Nolan.  But she has one little guilty pleasure after all…  Tell us about it, Kait!



I have a confession to make.  When Jess asked me to write a post about my guilty pleasures, I immediately said yes.  And then when I sat down to write it…I couldn’t think of a thing.  Not that I don’t have pleasures in life—I just don’t consider any of them guilty.  I feel like they are all well deserved.  I exercise while watching the Food Network instead of going off and making everything I’m drooling over.  Reading is NEVER guilty and always well merited.  Chocolate is a necessary component of sanity.  And my morning cuppa tea is a public service to keep me from going off on a homicidal rampage against the morning people of the world.  So where’s the guilty pleasure?

And then I thought of it.  The thing I allow myself so seldom expressly because of the guilt (and the calories).

Cookie dough.


Oh dear God, how I love cookie dough.  I have NO RESTRAINT with it.  None.  It does not ever make it to baked cookies in my house, and I invariably eat obscene amounts of it with a big glass of milk chaser.  My answer to this in the past has been simply to never keep one of the ingredients in the house.  If I REALLY want cookie dough, I have to want it bad enough to drive all the way into town to the grocery to pick up brown sugar.  I rarely want it that bad.

But I’d been pondering for a while about the notion of making a single serving of cookie dough.  AllRecipes.com has a nifty calculator where you can adjust recipes to a different quantity of servings.  But that one really stumped me because of course all cookie dough recipes have eggs.  It is very difficult to have a fractional egg, and Egg Beaters (while eliminating the fear of E-coli—which I admit was never really an issue for me) just aren’t the same.

Enter Pinterest.  Another guilty pleasure, now that I think about it.  While trolling around on my weekly allotted hour (I have to limit myself or I’ll fritter away scads of time), I came across a recipe for single serve cookie dough.  No eggs, no leavening agent.  It’s never meant to be baked.  It’s all about the flavor of the dough.

Glory halleluiah!

I had to try it.  And BOY was it worth it!  Just the right portion (okay, yeah, I admit, I’ll often make a double batch—but that’s still less than I’d eat if I made regular cookie dough) and a sensible indulgence that won’t totally blow the calorie budget.

Excuse me, I need another glass of milk…

Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss.  When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.  You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Winner!!!  August McLaughlin is the winner of Kait’s e-book copy of Red!  Congratulations, August!

May I Show You aROWnd Town?


Last night I enjoyed a most delicious Thai food dinner of samosas, garlic naan, and navratan korma with a dear friend who’s moving out of town.  We had a movie night after dinner, and watched I Don’t Know How She Does It.  The film stars Sarah Jessica Parker and is based on the book by Allison Pearson.  I admit, I thought the film would be dumb.  Maybe a funny bit here and there, but nothing epic.

Thing is, I really liked this movie.  It was real.  The story is about Kate Reddy, a woman investor who travels around the country making business deals.  She also has 2 kids and a husband who’s own career is finally taking off.  Kate’s story could be any woman’s story.  She’s trying to juggle all of the hats she wears.

I’m sharing this movie for ROW80 day as a great flick to watch with your girlfriends and realize you’re not alone in your multi-tasking and yes, you can have it all!  Might help you set your ROW goals!

Round 3 of ROW80 Goals:

I was pretty flattered when Kait asked me to be a sponsor for this round!  I ran out and bought pompoms and glowsticks and made a mix tape and blew up some balloons!  I’ll be dropping by your blogs ROWers so please make sure I’m on the list, it’s not fun to watch a person walk away with balloons and a sad face on.  😉

Here’s what I’ll be up to this round:

  • Finish First Draft of Women’s Fiction Piece – Write at least 4x week and complete 5-10 pages at least each day.
  • Read On Writing by Stephen King– First book of my Catch up on Craft Initiative
  • Read 2 Fiction Books a Month– I have 3 books going right now, so I need to skedaddle!  I might do the Jane Austen read-a-long, we’ll see…
  • Prepare for Summer Vacation – Joe and I are planning a road trip out west in a month, so I will need to get blog post prepped ahead, stock up on sunscreen, do the laundry that is mounding in my closet, and corral all the camping gear up in the next weeks.
  • Read Suze Orman’s Women and Money– I’s working on my savings!!!  *jingles piggy bank*
  • Be a Role Model and Cheerleader in my ROW80 Sponsor Role

I look forward to checking in with everybody!  And making some new friends!  Happy 4th of July Everyone!  And speaking of friends, look who made his own road trip up my way!

David N. Walker, from Where the Heart Is, and his lovely wife, Sharon, stopped in La Crosse, WI on their way north and I gave them a tour of the Riverside Park Friendship Gardens.  If you ever get the chance, you must meet these people.  David is a true patriarch, full of catchy advice and wisdom and a good hearty laugh.  Sharon cracks me up with her amazing directive abilities for all the pictures we took.  And she’s an avid gardener!  Here’s a little montage of our walk.

Sharon, David and I

We made a friend!

They even met my honey, Joe! (I totally got him that t-shirt!)

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

Author Interview with Kait Nolan: Princesses, Plotting, and Patience

Kait and I at DFW Con

I am extremely excited to welcome and host the A-Mississippi-Mazing writer, Kait Nolan.  I met Kait when she was presenting at the DFW Writers Conference and she is even more phenomenal in person than she is on her blog.  Please give it up for Kait’s Happiness Project  Featured Writer debut!

And that’s not all!

Kait’s offering an e-book giveaway of her amazing paranormal YA book, Red, to one lucky commenter!

You guys, I just finished Red after coming back from Texas and I was enthralled!  Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

Elodie Rose has a secret. Any day, she’ll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that’s cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she’s hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line. Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?

I LOVED this book!  For a YA read, Elodie Rose is a great female character.  She’s smart, skilled, and mysterious.  And she totally has Kait’s sense of humor!  But enough bragging, I’ll let you guys get to know Kait through her own words!


Describe yourself in three words.  

Stubborn.  Driven.  Tea-lover.

What three words do you wish described you?

Patient.  Graceful.  Athletic.

Who’s your real life hero?

Well, I’m not sure if she technically counts since she was a character, but Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women.  She took crap from NOBODY.

I loved Designing Women!  But with three jobs going at once, you’re one of my heroes!  I think we have similar schedules.  How do you manage? 

I have no social life and epically paranormal organizational and planning skills.  Also I’ve been underslept since 2002.  And I am very, very motivated.

Motivated how?  What are you working towards?

Being a full time writer.  It’s what I’m meant to do.  Have been meant to do since I was 12.  I wasted too many years doing what other people said I should do.

I hear ya, Kait!  And we’re all rooting for you!  Red is the story of Little Red Riding Hood with a twist.  What prompted this idea?

I’m a big fan of fairy tale reboots, and I started to wonder what would happen if Red Riding Hood fell in love with the wolf (before the awful movie).  Except it was more the long term consequences of that that interested me, so I wound up following one of her descendents.

If you could trade places with any fairy tale character, who would it be?

When I was a little girl, I’d have said Sleeping Beauty (Disney version), mostly because I wanted blonde hair, but as a grown up?  I’m not sure who…somebody who kicks ass and is independently wealthy.  That sounds very good to me right now.



I knew we were bff’s!  Sleeping Beauty was my fave as a kid too.  Used to wear a towel on my head like the shawl she wore.  LOL.  You and I had similar horror stories to share about dating too.  (You wish you could read that Google chat!)  Who’s your fantasy prince?  Mine might be Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables.  Or Han Solo – I told you I had a thing for Harrison Ford…
Well I don’t have a particular person in mind, but my fantasy prince is as much a neat freak as I am, never has to be asked to take out the trash or pick up the house, is a gourmet cook, and has six pack abs.

Who’s your real prince?  And what does he think of this business called writing? 

My real prince is my husband of 9 and a half years, Allen. He’s a photographer and musician, so he’s totally respectful of the creative pursuits and is super supportive.  He’s also a very handy reference for moves in fight scenes and is generally happy to demonstrate (which does not always feel good!).

You said you like strong female characters and happy endings.  What are some of your favorite books?

Insert pretty much everything ever written by Nalini Singh, particularly her Archangel series.  Um, Nora Roberts’ Irish trilogies.  Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series.  Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone.  Oh, and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series.  Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.  Okay, I’ll stop now…

When I met you at the DFW Writers Conference, you made an impression.  You talk fast, you have hilarious stories, you give honest advice, and seem to meet the people who can tell you about exactly the thing you’re researching at that time.  (True story:  In two very different conversations in two completely different spaces, Kait met and connected with someone who made a career out of what she was writing her characters to do!  It was uncanny!)  Tell us about your best friends, I imagine you have a great support network.  

Admittedly both those instances were totally NOT normal for me…
My best friends are mostly writers.  I positively could NOT do without my crit partner Susan Bischoff, talented author of the Talent Chronicle and supreme kicker of my ass (seriously, I challenge any NY editor to rival her for tough and awesome crit).  I would be equally lost without Claire Legrand, my baby sister from another mother, who is my sunshine on a cloudy day (how can anyone with that much love for unicorns fail to perk you up?).  And Mhairi Simpson, who gives me my daily Brit fix and is all around marvelous bitch buddy and food lover.  And on the non-writer front, I must mention my BFF Christine, who had been telling me for years—all those years I spent pursuing a career that other people thought I should pursue because it was practical—that I was meant to write and I needed to get a move on.  She’s always a refreshing breath of honesty and observation when I need to hear it.

You’ve traveled the world quite a bit!  What’s your favorite place you’ve been and where do you want to go next?

Been: hands down Scotland.  I lived in Edinburgh while I studied abroad in college and LOVED IT.
To go next: I’d really like to do a more thorough tour of Ireland.  I only spent one weekend there in Dublin while I was abroad, and I’d love to go back.

Speaking of travel, tell us about A Round of Words in 80 Days!  

A yes, ROW80, the writer’s challenge that knows you have a life.  The slogan is really the reason I started it.  I did NaNo and a bunch of other challenges that expected you to DROP EVERYTHING and do nothing but write for some period of time, and that just DOES NOT WORK FOR ME (and seriously, who thought NOVEMBER was a good time to do that?).  Real writers, IMO, must learn to fit writing into their every day and learn how to set goals, then adapt them as circumstances dictate, so that they are always making progress, not just taking things seriously one or two months out of the year.  We start Round 3 of this year on July 2nd.

What have been the biggest A-ha! Moments for you as you’ve set about your goals?

Probably the biggest one is FINALLY finding a system to use for plotting and making the switch from inveterate pantser to hard core plotter.  I find I’m much more efficient this way and my finished first draft is a LOT closer to truly done than anything I pantsed in the past.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what else do you imagine yourself doing?

Owning a combination tea shop and bookstore.  If I can’t write, I want to combine my two OTHER favorite things.

Tell us about the worst job you ever had.  Mine involved chipping away caramelized pieces of plastic that held old rope lights in a display window that was full of spiders.  Top that!

The worst job I ever had (the one that sent me RUNNING back to graduate school) was as a case manager in a community mental health system.  I had to commute 35 miles, then spent all day driving around a very rural county to see my very large client load, fumbling my way through and hoping I didn’t irrevocably screw anybody up (as I had NO training and just a bachelor’s in psych at the time), for incredibly LOW pay, lousy benefits, and more paperwork than you can shake a stick at.  In triplicate.  NOTHING was computerized.  It was awful.

Besides being a famous writer, founder of ROW80, and all around amazing Mississippi gal, you also cook well.  What’s your favorite dish?

What?  I’m supposed to narrow it DOWN?  Okay I think I can make a top three.  Pizza (mine), parmesan polenta, and homemade mac and cheese (also mine).  A low carb person I am not.

What’s currently cooking in your writer’s world?

I’m working on the first of a YA trilogy based on the mythology of The Wild Hunt.

Words to live by?

Everyone has a happy ending, if you’re not happy then it’s not the end.

Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss.  When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.  You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Thank you Kait for being a part of the Happiness Project Featured Writer Series!  It was a delight meeting you and laughing over Google chats the last month!  


Make sure you leave a comment or ask a question of Kait so you win an e-book copy of her book, Red!  Giveaway ends Thursday at 10pm.  Winner will be announced on Friday when Kait comes back (squee!) to share her Guilty Pleasure with all of us!

I Met Kait Nolan, and Now I’m Joining ROW80

In truth, I had contemplated joining ROW80 before, but after meeting the WONDERFUL Kait Nolan in person at the DFW Writers Conference, I just had to sign up!

Kait is one of those people you meet and instantly love.  She is outgoing, funny, and genuine.  She takes time to get to know people and I watched her do this so well, that twice she met someone who worked or lived something one of her current characters does.  Now, she’s in contact with them for character research.

I think that says something about Kait.  She’s interested in people’s stories, and she recognizes that everyone’s is different.  Kait is the founder of A Round of Words in 80 Days, a goal setting system with weekly progress updates and a community of people who support you on your journey.

Besides being the ROW80 founder, she’s also a blogger, and self-published author extraordinaire.  I’m reading her newest book, Red, right now and it’s amazing!

Kait and I at the DFW Conference!

Needless to say, after listening to my goals and what had been my setbacks, Kait invited me to jump into ROW80 and get started.  I am so very grateful that she did.

My ROW Goals for This Week are:

  • (image courtesy amazon.com)

    Blog Ahead!  I’d like to have at least 5 blog posts written ahead to get me through the time I’ll be working on Fast Draft.

  • Clean my room.  As part of the preparation process for writing, I need to unearth the mound of transitional season clothing and other lost and found objects taking over my desk.
  • Plot my novel.  This doesn’t seem like a small feat, but I got some good workshopping done at DFW Con.  Need this done before I can write the book.
  • Finish reading Moon Over Madeline Island and Back to Madeline Island for my Book Club getaway to Madeline Island next week!

My Longterm ROW80 Goals:

  • Blessings over Gratitude.  I read this post by Ollin Morales and he got me thinking that my life could stand to use a little more positivity.  I’m going to spend time over the next month journaling about blessings rather than just things I’m grateful for.  Read Ollin’s post and you’ll see the difference.  I hope by doing this, I can empower my inner writer and tell my inner editor to go drink a bottle of herself!

(image courtesy: skaggymaggie.tumblr.com)

  • Fast Draft!  To get my butt in gear, I’m participating in Fast Draft.  It’s a workshop where you write 20 pages/day for 2 weeks.  I will attempt to get my first draft written during this time.
  • Still Prepare for Blog Posts.  I’m fortunate to have several writers interested in doing interviews with me, but that means I need to stay on track with their works, and prepare thought provoking questions for them.  CJ West is featured this week!  Stay tuned to see who’s next!
  • Read.  I’ve been reading a ton, but I’ve got about 7 books going at once now.  *crosses eyes* I want to get back to my TBR Pile Challenge list and add a craft book in there as well.  Thinking of starting with Story Engineering.

That’s my plan!  I’m sure it’ll evolve as I get started, but I’m getting excited as the date draws closer for Fast Draft to begin.  

How are your goals going this week?

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