Writer’s Desk Issue No: 1 Christen Krumm
We’re so excited to have Christen Krumm featured on this week’s writer’s desk. Christen is the author of the YA novel, It Happened at Christmas. She lives with her real-life superhero husband and three barefoot wildings in small-town Arkansas. Coffee is the lifeblood, books are her happy place, and creating stories is her favorite. Be sure to stick around until the end of the post for more about her most recent release plus a chance to win a copy!
Do you have a writing routine? When/Where do you write?
Pre-world pandemic (ha!), I was able to get up before the school day and get in around 750 – 1000 words a day. Now that my babies are home, I write what I can, when I can. Normally this looks like carrying a notebook around and jotting scenes as they come to me. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing! I have a home office, but a lot of times I’ll write at the kitchen table (and the couch and outside on the porch, in the car, etc)
When are you most productive?
Right before I have to sit down and write. Everything (except writing) gets done.
What do you snack on or drink while writing?
I always have coffee and water. If I’m going to eat, generally it’s popcorn. Occasionally, I’ll have some kind of gummy candy or M&Ms.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I really try not to give “power” to writer’s block. If you think about it, writer’s block can easily turn into procrastination, or a reason not to do the hard thing. If I’m really stuck, I’ll talk it out with my critique partner (who says that I’m a verbal processor—she’s so right) this gets my creative brain going again and excited about the story.
Do you have any tips for writing during this quarantine?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a hard time staying inspired during the pandemic. My routine completely flipped — and I thrive on routine. It’s a little bit harder, but I’ve started doing a couple things that have really been helping.
(1) I stick to three small daily goals. Right now I’m keeping it super simple. I have a small daily word count goal — 200 (which by the time I sit down and start, rarely can I stop at 200, but if the day is completely overwhelming, I’m still getting at least 200 words down). I’m making sure I’m either reading a chapter in a craft book or watching an inspiring writing video — something to get those creative juices excited. And since I’m in the middle of a draft, I’m also making sure that I get two scenes down on post-it notes. This way I know where I’m going the next time I sit down to get my “200” words in.
(2) Zoom write-ins. These are super simple and can really encourage you to get words down. Basically, all you do is “meet” via Zoom with a writing friend or two, check-in with each other, and then start writing. You break every 30-45 minutes to chat or brainstorm if needed, set a new goal and get back after it. I’ll get more writing in during a Zoom write-in then if I’m just doing a word sprint with a friend.
(3) Carry a notebook — yes, even if it’s just around your house. Remember these aren’t normal times. Even if you normally wouldn’t write free-hand, get words in where you can. If that’s twenty words while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, fifty words while your child works out a math problem, or three words while in between mom (or dad) duties — it’s still more words you have then if you were waiting for the “perfect writing time” (spoilers: during this crazy time … that doesn’t exist!)
What is your outlining process? Are you a pantser/plotter or something in between?
I’m a little bit of both. The first half or so of my books are always pantsed. I’ll write all the scenes I have in my head (if you want to call it that … it’s more like a brain dump then writing), and then stop — normally around the 20-25k mark — organize what I have, figure out what I still need, and then finish the book. Then I’ll go back and do a couple of hard edits. I’m a terrible under-writer, so there will be 15-20k added during edits.
Best advice for someone who is just starting out.
Just start writing. Don’t wait for things to be perfect. Don’t wait for one day. It’ll never happen.
If you’re a younger writer, please, don’t wait until you have more life experience (which is what someone told me, I took it to heart, and didn’t write anything for a long time). Start now.
Favorite thing to binge-watch: I don’t watch a lot of tv — and if the tv is on, the kids are watching something (especially now). I do enjoy the occasional British drama or cop show, but other than that … I do more reading if I have the time.
Book(s) currently reading: I somehow always have more than one books going at the same time (I blame it on that time in college where I was majoring in English. I took multiple English lit classes and was always reading 3-4 books at the same time for different classes…) I’m listening to The Glass Hotel for book club. Have Amy Matayo’s The Aftermath going on my Kindle, and I’m alternating between hard copies of Truly Devious and The Death of Mungo Blackwell.
Favorite song right now: This is a hard one! With my kids home, my daughter has been blasting music almost 24/7. Like Myself by Elizabeth Grace is playing pretty much on repeat, and I have to admit it’s pretty catchy.
Starbuck’s order: I’m very boring. I generally just stick with a vanilla latte. If I’m feeling like a treat, I’ll order a coconut mocha (with almond, soy, coconut, or whatever “not milk” they have on hand) from my local shop, but other than that … just a vanilla latte.
What’s coming up next?
I’m working on another fun YA contemporary romance loosely based on You’ve Got Mail to be released in late summer/early fall, and I’m also in the midst of revisions on a dystopian-ish manuscript (story of my heart) that I’ll hopefully start querying agents for in the fall.
Enter to win a signed copy of It Happened at Christmas + fun swag pack from Christen*
Links mentioned in the LIVE with Christen Krumm
Unsplash — website for free photo downloads
Some of Christen’s favorite YA and non-YA books
To Best the Boys | Mary Weber
Unblemished series | Sara Ella
Coral | Sara Ella
Romanov | Nadine Branes
Jaime Jo Wright
More about It Happened at Christmas:
In this enchanting YA spin on While You Were Sleeping, Christen Krumm delivers laughter and Christmas sparkle through a swoon-worthy story of first love and belonging.
Life at Iverson Preparatory Boarding School isn’t easy when you’re basically the maid. Murphy Cain spends her days cleaning up after her upper-class peers in exchange for tuition while dodging their cutting remarks. All of that changes when she rescues her crush, the popular and hunky Tripp Harrington, after a near-fatal accident and is mistaken as his girlfriend.
Murphy finds herself struggling with the choice to reveal the truth or play along. As Tripp’s girl, his wealthy family will offer Murphy something she’s been craving her whole life—a chance to be one of the “in” crowd. A chance to belong. Without it, she’ll be right back where she started.
It only gets worse as Tripp’s brother Hank enters the picture. He’s handsome, down to earth, and seems to understand Murphy better than anyone else. The only problem? She’s supposed to be dating his brother.
As Christmas break draws to a close, Murphy must decide if telling the truth is worth losing it all or if the risk will bring a greater reward in the end.
Connect with Christen Krumm