Posts tagged with: Nancy Holland

From “Book in a Week” to BOOK!

Using the wonders of Yahoo groups and RWA online forums, my RWA land chapter, Midwest Fiction Writers, hosts a couple of virtual ‘meetings’ in addition to our monthly in-person meetings, where members can get cheerleading, support, and companionship while trying to meet their personal writing goals.

The first, “Club 100,” helps our members develop and maintain sustainable, long-term writing habits. In its purest form, “Club 100” participants commit to writing (or editing, or revising) at least 100 words per day, for 100 days – but much like the Rubies’ Winter Writing Festival, this goal can be customized.

The other virtual ‘meeting,’ held one week per month, is called “Book in a Week.” BIAW is meant as a short-term productivity blast, where participants write as much as they can during the week immediately following our monthly meeting.  As is the case with “Club 100,” BIAWers get virtual companionship, support, and accountability while meeting individual writing goals.

Members of these groups absolutely love them, but people who go it alone also find the “Club 100” and “Book in a Week” concepts to be hella productive. Today, my friend and MFW chapter mate. 2010 Golden Heart finalist Nancy Holland, shares how the “Book in a Week” concept helped her write her latest fantasy novel, Felyn’s Curse.   

Take it away, Nancy!


By the time I finished Thalgor’s Witch, my first fantasy novel, it had already won the first two of several RWA chapter contests, so I had no doubt it would sell right away. (Narrator voice: She was wrong.) I was teaching then and had free time during the summer (although not as much as you would think). So I decided to try to write the sequel that became Felyn’s Curse in one week.

I had already done some prep work on the project: the goal, motivation, and conflict for the heroine and hero and a few other characters; a few scenes sketched out in my mind; and the basic plot points (more would have been better). I had a few other things on my side, too. My kids were old enough that they and my husband could pick up the slack in what had to be done around the house. In addition, at that time I drafted longhand and typed the pages into a computer later. That meant I could pick up my writing and carry it from place to place rather than having to sit at a desk all day every day.

Needless to say, I didn’t really expect to finish the book in one week, but setting that goal helped keep me on task. I ended up writing six out of twenty eventual chapters or very roughly twenty-nine thousand words. That averages out to over four thousand words a day, or twice the NaNoWriMo daily goal. The prep work helped, but another huge factor was being able to keep my mind “in the story.” Obviously, the more hours a day I wrote, the fewer hours I spent thinking about other things, but more than that, the more time I spent with my characters, the more deeply I fell into their world.

NaNoWriMo actually offers a useful comparison. I “won” NaNo (i.e., finished a 50k book) another year when I was on sabbatical and didn’t have to teach. I wrote fewer words per day in NaNo, but the BIAW was actually easier. Part of the difference was being able to stay more fully in the story, but another part was that it was easier to impose on my family and otherwise shut down my life for the shorter period of time than it was to half-way keep up with things for a whole month. If I ever wanted to produce a book in a hurry again, I think I would alternate BIAWs with two or three normal writing weeks rather than writing it in a single month.

Of course, everyone is different and your mileage may vary. Two huge variables are your work/family situation and where you are on the pantser/plotter scale (I fall somewhere on the pantser side of the middle). Still, writing almost a third of Felyn’s Curse in one week taught me both what I was capable of doing and my limits. If you have trouble freeing up all of November for NaNo or are curious about what it would be like to really write “full time” (i.e., all day every day), you might want to see if the BIAW approach works as well for you as it did for me.


Nancy, thanks so much for this glimpse into your process! 

Ruby Readers:  What do you think about the “Book in a Week” concept? Nancy will be with us today to respond to any questions or comments you may have.

Also… today is Felyn’s Curse‘s book birthday! The blurb:

When Felyn was a young, defenseless witch, she was cursed to live as a shape shifter—a deadly panther. She might have been rescued and raised by a noble and powerful leader, but she lives in fear she will hurt those she loves in her animal form so each full moon she hides deep in the forest. But how can she refuse her adoptive father’s plea for an arranged marriage with a new ally? After all, it’s temporary and in name only…

Varz agrees to an arranged marriage reluctantly because he needs the military and diplomatic alliance. He has secrets and a growing power struggle back home. He’s relieved he need only marry the young witch for a year until he meets his bride. Felyn is beautiful and intelligent and not easy to ignore, but Varz is a man of his word. His vow to leave his bride untouched will be the hardest one he has had to keep.

Congratulations, Nancy! 

Buy links for Felyn’s Curse:

 Amazon | BN | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Coastal Magic Reconnaissance!!

Over the years, I’ve heard great things about the Coastal Magic Convention. As it says at their website, Coastal Magic is “a super casual, urban fantasy, paranormal, and romance focused convention in Daytona Beach, Florida.”

Casual? Great. Super casual? Even better. Florida, during the winter? Please, tell me more!

As The Most Introverted Author on the Planet™, I’ve never attended Coastal Magic myself, so my friend and Midwest Fiction Writers chaptermate Nancy Holland, who just returned, has kindly agreed to give us a sneak-peak into her experience.

Take it away, Nancy! 


Hi, everyone. Thanks to Tamara Hogan and the other Rubies for having me on the blog today! I went to the Coastal Magic Conference last week in Daytona Beach, Florida, and thought you might be interested in a report on this small, friendly, and low-key event.

One reason for a writer from Minnesota to attend this February event should be obvious.

Coastal Magic started out as a fantasy/paranormal con, but has expanded into a more general romance conference that includes a wide diversity of genres, authors, and readers, including everything from YA to gritty romantic suspense to m/m to high fantasy. Unlike most RWA chapter conferences I’ve attended, the focus is very much on author/attendee interaction (including a featured “lunch with an author”). Plus they have a MST3000-style movie night, a big party, and great giveaways. [Tammy adds: I saw the Cinema Craptastique tweets. OMG, hilarious! Jason Mamoa sightings are always a plus.]

Coastal Magic Book Signing

There are also vendors, lots of bloggers, and a book-signing on Saturday afternoon that’s open to the public.

And I had a great time!

One unique feature of Coastal Magic derives from its origins as a fantasy and paranormal con. Rather than panels on craft, marketing, etc., they focused on what I’d call content areas — m/m romance, military/law enforcement, westerns, horror and, of course, fantasy. This way of organizing the conference meant I could interact with and learn from other fantasy authors who draw from history, myths, and legends in their stories, while trying to remain true both to their source material and their own visions.

There were also panels on topics such as research, “changing lanes” from one subgenre to another, sidekicks, and audiobooks. The diversity panel was especially interesting to me because it included a conversation about how even authors from traditionally under-represented groups have to work around and with the larger culture’s stereotypes of those groups. There was also a discussion of how to take cultures and stories we think we understand (e.g., Arthurian legend) and make them new again. An amazing number of the authors on the panels I attended were anthropology, history, classics, and religion majors in college. In other words, my people. 

It’s always fun to check out the SWAG!

The conference was well-run, with excellent moderators and speakers at all the panels I attended, and that appeared to be the case across the board. The social events were fun (if a bit raucous for an introvert like me). That said, I agree with the advice Damon Suede gave me when he told me about Coastal Magic — you should go as an “attendee” before asking to be included as an “invited author.”  (Despite having a great time and making new friends, I haven’t decided if this event is the right match for me and my readers in the long run.) The cost of the con is reasonable; it’s held in a lovely resort hotel; and if you live near Daytona Beach, you can register for one or two days rather than committing to the whole event. I’d encourage you to check it out:   Coastal Magic Convention website | Twitter


Thanks for the reconnaissance, Nancy!

Today’s question: As a reader or as an author, what are your questions about, or experiences with, regional or genre-specific conferences and conventions? We’d love to hear from you.

Here’s the blurb for Nancy’s new fantasy novel, Thalgor’s Witch

In a land of perpetual war and wandering, warrior Thalgor not only leads his people in battle, but keeps the hope alive that someday his displaced tribe can rebuild the kingdom that was lost to the treachery between witches and men. When he captures a beautiful witch, he knows he cannot trust her. But to succeed in his quest to find a new home and prevail over his enemies, he also knows he needs her.
Erwyn might be a slave and feared for her powers and precognition, but she doesn’t cower when confronted by the feared warrior. Nor does she act as expected. Thalgor’s kindness confuses her. His flashes of humor confound her. And the reaction he ignites in her body creates a longing that she cannot deny.
Neither anticipated falling in love. The stakes are high, but when Thalgor is mortally wounded, Erwyn realizes she must she must accept help from an unlikely source to save him.

Isn’t that cover gorgeous?!? Excerpt and purchase information is available here.

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