writing

Dear Whitney Cummings,

Dear Whitney Cummings,

I’m reaching out to you because you’re a great writer and I look up to you as a published author. After I finished reading your book, I’m Fine…and other lies, there was a weight lifted off my shoulders knowing that you’re fine, and I had a self-realization that I’m fine too. I literally-laughed-out-loud (LLOL) while reading what you wrote. I couldn’t put it down. I even shipped a copy to my mom so she could read it–I never do that.

When I devoured your words earlier in 2021, I was in a tough spot with my fiction writing, so reading your wild horses* of stories helped me find part of a main character’s voice in my story.

I have since realized that when it comes to writing a book, I am always in a tough spot because I have no friggin’ idea what I’m doing. I feel like I’m making it up as I go along and doing a lot of self-help attempts, but I always come back to you: Whitney Cummings. Like, I can’t get away from you.

  1. You’re the only celebrity I follow on Instagram
  2. You’re hilarious, so I’m officially attending a Touch Me Tour when you’re in MI
  3. One of my main characters has part of your voice, so I hear you talk a lot
  4. Your book is on my TBR list even though I already read it…

Call this an unconventional way to send you a letter (?) but it’s an idea that has grown in my head and I need to explore how I can reach you. As a writer, this is my platform and I will hashtag it, pin it, promote it like crazy on social media. I’ll even text it to you. Call me out of my seat, I will read it on stage.

I also feel the impending doom of rejection, so I’ve talked myself out of penning you this letter a few hundred times. My deterring thoughts include: Whitney’s robot has more followers that I do on Instagram, I have zero credibility next to that.

I’m following my gut, so please gut-check me back. If you are open to it, as a fellow-writer, I’d love to ask you questions about writing, publishing a book, etc. and it would be an honor to interview you in-person as someone I seemingly cannot get away from. I’m in MI, let’s make plans mid-November.

Sincerely,

Jenni Laplow

P.S. *“wild horses!” was a phrase said to me on my wedding day back in 2013, haha, I’ve never heard that one before, Grandma Carlisle….

writing

NaNoWriMo 2021

November is National Novel Writing Month, and I will be participating in NaNoWriMo 2021!

My goal is to write 50K words to complete the first draft of Mandy & Mia. From November 1st to November 30th I will need to write an average 1,666 words a day. It’s not going to be easy, but I will be joined by many other writers aiming for the same goal at the same time. The support is exponential.

I will be entering my NaNoWriMo progress below, for anyone who would like to follow along. Please feel free to check on me and see how it’s going…my progress is also HERE.

DATEWORDS
November 1, 2021
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writing

Top Ranked Book Idea for 13 Weeks

Voters loved my book idea for 13 consecutive weeks on SOOP!

Something or Other Publishing is a publishing company that I accidentally looked into further and further down the rabbit hole one day. That is the same day I submitted my book idea “Mandy & Mia” to their website. I am so excited because their publishing model is author-driven, and I have the desire to publish my debut novel before I’m 40. I’ve done some campaigning to get votes, but the #WritingCommunity on Twitter and #bookstagrammers on Instagram is where majority of my votes have been coming from. The writing support system on social media is real and I try to reciprocate the support to everyone who shows it to me. #communityovercompetition

I submitted my book idea to SOOP on March 25, 2021

I have received 383 total votes as of July 15, 2021

I have 617 VOTES to go!



Ranked no. 2 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for April 12 2021
Ranked no. 6 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for April 19 2021
Ranked no. 19 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for April 26, 2021


Ranked no. 4 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 30 Book Ideas for May 3, 2021
Ranked no. 9 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for May 10, 2021
Ranked no. 17 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for May 17, 2021
Ranked no. 16 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for May 24, 2021
Ranked no. 13 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for May 31, 2021


Ranked no. 15 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 30 Book Ideas for June 7, 2021
Ranked no. 18 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for June 14, 2021
Ranked no. 8 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for June 21, 2021
Ranked no. 20 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for June 28, 2021


Ranked no. 10 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 30 Book Ideas for June 5, 2021

I never ranked the same number twice in 13 weeks
My author intuition calls this lucky.

I am querying for a campaign manager. Please contact me!

writing

Tell Us About Your Writing Process

I was recently asked to answer this question: Tell Us Your Writing Process, in 500 words or less. I think it’s a topic that could be taken in many different directions, but it really made me think about writing process being a “place.” This was my response:

My writing process is intentional. It doesn’t matter where I write, when I write or what I write on, but I need to be writing with purpose. So, I suppose any process works for me as long as I am able to deliberately sit and write what I need to write. I have heard authors who speak of writing as a “madness” that could hit at any time and you need to be ready to write out all ideas, words and thoughts. I am definitely not a fan of madness, so that is why I try to plan my creative time, or writing time, outside of my time 1) being a mom, 2) working and 3) doing house chores. I honestly don’t have time to write all the words I want. My husband told me I should “write at night,” after all responsibilities for the day are done. I don’t think I’ve adopted that process because I truly enjoy my beauty sleep.

Right now, I have a preference to type on my laptop sitting on the couch or sitting on my bed. Both locations potentially include at least one of my daughters, but I prefer the silence of writing alone. Sometimes I will listen to music for a “mood” when I write, or have a drink for inspiration. Unfortunately, I don’t currently have a recurring writing time to look forward to. If I have to sit down and write something, I don’t do chores that day.

Funny, right? I know my response was well under 500 words, but it has since made me think 1) about scheduling creative time and 2) where could I go to write, where it’s quiet, and what if I have a kid with me?

A Library.

I have many Libraries around me in the Oakland County, Suburban Detroit Lakes Area. I was able to create a list of 12 locations that I’m interested in traveling to find a quiet place to write. I will challenge my writing process to include these different locations, so I hope to share my Library writing experiences with you!

  • Commerce Township Library –>4 miles away
  • Brighton District Library –>21 miles away
  • Clawson Blair Memorial Library –>33 miles away
  • Milford Public Library –>8 miles away
  • Northville District Library –>11 miles away
  • Novi Public Library –>9 miles away
  • Salem-South Lyon District Library –>17 miles away
  • Walled Lake City Library –>3 miles away
  • Waterford Township Public Library –>14 miles away
  • White Lake Township Library –>8 miles away
  • Wixom Public Library –>4 miles away
  • West Bloomfield Township Library –>9 miles away


writing

Vote for my book on SOOP!

A single mother, Mandy, and her teenage daughter, Mia, are separately fighting for attention from the men in their lives. They have a traumatic past, and Mandy’s alcoholism brings them to a place of ultimatums as a broken family.

VOTE for my fiction book idea on SOOP!


Featured on Something Or Other Publishing

Ranked no. 2 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for April 12 2021
Ranked no. 6 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for April 19 2021
Ranked no. 19 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for April 26, 2021


Ranked no. 4 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 30 Book Ideas for May 3, 2021
Ranked no. 9 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for May 10, 2021
Ranked no. 17 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for May 17, 2021
Ranked no. 16 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for May 24, 2021
Ranked no. 13 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for May 31, 2021


Ranked no. 15 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 30 Book Ideas for June 7, 2021
Ranked no. 18 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for June 14, 2021
Ranked no. 8 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for June 21, 2021
Ranked no. 20 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 20 Book Ideas for June 28, 2021

Ranked no. 10 on #SOOP on Monday: Top 30 Book Ideas for June 5, 2021





courses

Craft of Character | Notes

These are my notes from the Craft of Character online writing class.


WEEK 1

🌐 Conception

The heart of character is who matters to you. Not who you think will be interesting to other people, but what you care about. The heart of an interesting character is somebody that you’ve developed in your imagination, and then we work with the language to put that on the page.

Amy Bloom

Imagine a Character

  1. see them—as a physical being, the body of the character matters
    1. Create an entire list for how the person looks
  2. hear them—how do they sound, how do they express themselves? 
    1. Listen to them
  3. smell them—use all your senses
  4. Invest in the character—what draws you in?

What is at the core of characters is not that they are imaginary, what is at the core of them is your real feelings about them and your wish to make them come alive.

🌐 The Conflict Within

Every writer should aspire to create characters that have their own desires—that want things.

Memorable Dialogue should include two things:

  1. Deepen our understanding of the character
  2. Advance the plot

Dialog is what characters do to one another. It’s active, it moves the story forward.

What makes a memorable character? Desire—your character wants something.

Our flaws are often driven by what it is that we desire most.

Amy Bloom

Read more about Character Desire.

🌐 Desire and Goals

It’s important to give yourself permission to approach your characters and your story in as wide of range as possible. 

The most important part of dialogue is what it reveals about the speaker.

The requirement of the writer is to show, and show, and show some more. And then you get to tell a little bit.

🌐 Hearing, Selecting, and Seeing

What a writer does, in a certain way, is look at the world, leave out everything that isn’t part of the story at hand, and then examine very, very carefully that which remains.

Observation is how we get to know what people look like, what they sound like, how they feel to us, how they move in the world. How they interact with the other characters.

Empathy is the moment where we enter into the character. We don’t just see them and observe them, we see the world as they see it. We experience it as they see it.

Selecting or chipping away of that which does not serve our story. If it doesn’t help move the story along or illuminate the character, or make them visible to the reader, file away for later.

Continue reading “Craft of Character | Notes”
courses, learning

Craft of Character

Craft of Character

This 4-week long course is by Wesleyan University on Coursera

Amy Bloom does an excellent job in this course, a lot of my notes are words that she said throughout the course. I learned about and was reaffirmed of many key elements that are important for character development and character dialogue. I recommend this course to any fiction writer!

Jenni Laplow, August 2020

Craft of Character | Notes

writing

Character Desire

As I aspire to develop my characters further and write more words in my novel, I took the time to develop each character’s desire. That has shown to be a driving force in creating conflict, so it has proven to be helpful as I try to continue writing all the words.

Here are some of my notes from the online course Craft of Character that have helped me develop character desire:

Every writer should aspire to create characters that have their own desires–your character wants something. Our flaws are often driven by what it is that we desire most, and that makes a memorable character.

It’s important to give yourself permission to approach your characters and your story in as wide of range as possible. Use the character’s voice to explain desires–what are they? This will help you make the character matter to the reader.

Desires may lead to character conflict. If you’re stuck in a story, just have another character walk into the room. Create conflict–something uncomfortable, difficult, or incredibly intimate.

It’s important to craft your characters in such a way that they have distinct voices that the reader can identify, to help identify the story. Whose story is it? Whose desire is driving the story?

Read more about my Main Characters HERE
Read more about my Men Characters HERE

writing

Character Sketch

Start Writing Fiction | Week 5

Character Sketch Assignment: Choose one of the methods below, one which is least familiar to you, one you have never tried before:

  • Imagine a character very like you but give them a dramatic external alteration. You might make the character the opposite sex, for example, or make them significantly older or younger. You choose.
  • Imagine a character very like someone you have observed – but give them a dramatic external alteration. You might make the character the opposite sex, for example, or make them significantly older or younger. You choose.
  • Create a character purely on the basis of your imagination or intellectual conception.
  • Create a character using any of the above methods in combination.

Now write a brief character sketch, around 300–500 words, in which you reveal certain aspects of the character. Use a third-person narrator (‘he’ or ‘she’). Here are some things you might like to include in your sketch but this is not an exclusive list – you may not include all of these aspects; you may include other aspects:
appearance
feelings
current circumstances
occupation
voice
attitudes
hopes and fears

Read the assignment I wrote, below, then read the feedback I received from fellow writers.

Mr. Smith stood there with his thumbs in his belt loops and tips of his fingers in his pockets; the dark colored belt stood out against his light khaki pants. His khakis were pulled up so high, maybe it was an attempt to cover up his mid-30’s belly, but the tightly tucked-in white button-up shirt did not hide much.

He lifted his left hand to his big, round glasses and pushed them up on his long nose. He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. I wonder how he got to be so nerdy? There’s no way he has a girlfriend…

Mr. Smith turned with his side-hair slick staying in place and spoke to me in front of the class:

“Mia! Stop daydreaming and finish the reading quiz. You have 15 minutes until the end of class!”

He stormed across the front of the classroom with his hands in his pockets and plopped into his desk chair. A few students snickered at the disruption and a few giggled at the teacher making a scene.

I felt embarrassed by his reaction. So, once my cheek color turned back to normal, I promptly finished the reading quiz.

When the bell rang, I was the last one to drop the quiz off at his desk. He tilted his head down and looked over his glasses at me. “Is there a reason you are distracted today?” He asked in that fatherly tone.

“Why are you so concerned about me? Why not someone else?” 

“Because you’re my best student,” he smiled, reclined back in his seat and slid his hands behind his head, “I expect a lot from you and when I see you daydreaming I’m only trying to help.”

“I’ve had a difficult time…”

He forcefully pulled his arms down and sat up, “I get it. I’ve seen it in your writing lately,” he picked up a pen and started twirling it between his fingers, “I wanted to tell you about the high school literary journal. I think you should submit something—it can be anonymous if you choose.”

I stood in front of his desk which was a messy disarray of papers, and just held tightly onto my journal, “you mean get published?”

“Yes. Not many freshmen do it, so I think you would stand out.” He paused and stood up. “I see you write a lot about your mother. I was the same way.”

I stood there like a sponge, soaking in what he was saying, but I couldn’t believe he was being so candid with me. “I, uh—“ was then abruptly saved by the one minute warning bell.

“Go along now, you don’t want to be late to your next class.” He said with his fingers back in his pockets and he nodded his head towards the door.

I don’t know if Mr. Smith creeps me out more or makes me smile more. I guess it hurts me to see students make fun of him, for how personable he is about my writing. No other teacher has made me feel this way before.

Meet more characters in my story HERE.

writing

Meet the Men Characters

Writing a story with male characters is an ongoing development as a female author. My main characters are female [mother & daughter] but their stories are told with and about the men in their lives too. Here is a glimpse of their character development.

Mr. Smith – This is Mia’s English teacher who really pushes her to submit writing to the high school literary journal because he has been impressed by her writing. Read a portion of the novel with this character HERE.

Jean Paul Jones “JPJ” – This is Mia’s tutor. He graduated high school at the top of his class, so he offers tutoring for high school students while being enrolled in college full time. Read a portion of the novel with this character HERE.

Vinnie – This is Mandy’s financial advisor. He is married, but they have a dating history from long ago. They’ve been able to keep their professional relationship PG, until recently. Read a portion of the novel with this character HERE.

Cam – This is Mandy’s new fling. They recently met and have been going out on dates.  He is emotionally unavailable because he’s going through a divorce, but when they go out they laugh and have fun together. Read a portion of the novel with this character SOON.

Trey – This is Mandy’s on again, off again boyfriend that seems to come around when he needs money to help the construction business he owns. Always making big promises about staying together and building a life together, but once he pays back the money, he seems to disappear until he needs another loan for a job. They have been a couple for a total of two years. When he is around, he stays at Mandy’s home, and he has a great relationship with her daughter. Mia actually thinks of him as the only suitable father-figure in her life. Trey is confident. His conflicts stem from his anger issues and his lack of commitment.

Meet the Main Characters