Saturday, November 28, 2009

Welcome Back Missy Tippens

Merry Christmas! Well, I guess it’s a little early for that. But I have a Christmas book out this month, so I’m celebrating! A Forever Christmas, from Steeple Hill Love Inspired, is on shelves now. It’s the first Christmas story I’ve written, and I thought I’d tell you a little about how it came about.

Last December, I’d sold a book proposal but needed to revise the plot. And one day while working on a blog post for the new Craftie Ladies of Romance blog—where we had the theme of The Twelve Days of Christmas—an idea struck. Here’s the one-liner that hit me:

A woman with a mission. Twelve days till Christmas. Will this single dad grasp the true meaning of Christmas in time to nab the one gift his boys really want: a new mom?

So I had my book idea. And 8 weeks until my deadline.

I quickly divided up my word count by the number of days available, giving myself 6 weeks to write the first draft and 2 weeks to revise and polish. It came out to about 2000 words per day. Very doable…if I didn’t get behind over Christmas.

Well, I jumped right in. I took my Alphasmart and laptop everywhere! I got up early and got right to work on meeting my word count. I wouldn’t stop until it was done. (Of course, I would go pick up my children from school even if I hadn’t finished 2000 words!) :)

Over the Christmas holiday, I took a few days off. But I still had to take my laptop to my inlaws’ house with me. They were kind enough not to bat an eye when I excused myself to go write. I was thankful I could go to an adjoining apartment where my husband’s grandparents used to live. I kept up with my word count, wrote the 4 hours in the car on the way there and back home, and kept right on target. Then I finished a couple of days before my self-imposed deadline! But it was a very rough draft since I had flown through it.

I worked hard over the next two weeks, trying to make it presentable for my editor. But I have to say, I’ve realized I’d really prefer to have a little longer to polish a manuscript. It was finished, and I made my deadline (I’m pretty sure I over-nighted it to get it there!). But it required a lot of revisions. Bless my editor for all her hard work (and her patience)!

I’ve learned that next time, I’ll write more words per day and then allow myself more time to revise and polish—time to layer in all the things that I have to add in since my first drafts are mostly talking heads. :)

What about you? Do you usually get much work done over the holidays? Do you schedule in writing time or do you plan to take time off?

As well as being an author, Missy Tippens is a pastor's wife, mother of three and owner of a home business. Add her church activities like playing hand bells and singing in the choir and you're talking about one busy lady.You can find Missy on the web here:


Helena said...

Glad to have you back, Missy!

Your description of getting your book done to deadline reminds me of my current push in the final days of NaNoWriMo. Funny, my word count is thanks to lots of talking heads, too. A huge amount of layering, descriptive passages, and transitions, etc. will be necessary in my revision.

I agree that trying to push through faster on the first draft would be wise. I like the idea of having more time to revise and polish. But a deadline there is good, too, because otherwise I wouldn't know when to stop. There's always something that could be made better!

One thing that NaNo is doing for me, and I hope it will carry on, is this incessant feeling that I should be writing. The day doesn't feel right anymore unless I'm writing. Not my normal pattern during special seasons, family holidays, etc. etc. So we shall see what happens this year.

Thanks for blogging here today.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Welcome back, Missy. Is this the book you were under deadline to complete by Feb 14 last Christmas?

Karyn Good said...

Hi, Missy, and welcome back to the prairies. Wow, that's a tight deadline to write and polish a book.

I, too, having a lot of talking heads in my NaNo endeavor this month so there is heavy duty revising in my future.

I hope to get some revising done in December on a different wip. But if I don't I'm not going to sweat it. Christmas is my favorite time of year and I plan to take time to enjoy the things I love to do.

Thanks for giving us a glimpse into how A Forever Christmas came about.

Heather said...

this was a very intersting post. very helpful to see how other people meet their deadlines. I sort of do the same thing when I have a due date for a quilt or knitting.

Janet said...

Talk about tight deadlines and a frenzied pace. I admire your diligence, Missy.

Did you enjoy writing a Christmas story? Would you write another one?

Vince said...

Hi Missy:

I loved the ending of your Christmas book. Did you have that ending in mind before you started writing the book? It’s just too good an ending not to have a story written to support it.


Jana Richards said...

Hi Missy,
Welcome back. I admire your diligence. That was a crazy schedule you made for yourself, but sometimes a writer needs that deadline to light a fire under her pen!

I don't plan to do much writing over Christmas this year. My oldest daughter, who I haven't seen since the summer, will be with us for a couple of weeks. We're going to be visiting friends and family as well, so I'm going to concentrate on that for a while. And then after the New Year I'll be hard at it again!


Missy Tippens said...

Hi, everyone! I'm finally here! We travelled home today from my inlaws (about 4 hour drive). Such a great Thanksgiving!

Helena, you're right about that feeling of needing to be writing. It really is a habit that needs to be developed. And of course, a deadline helps! Even before publishing, contest deadlines kept me working. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Yes, Anita Mae! Good memory. :) This is it. It was cool to write a Christmas book over Christmas. Hectic, but fun. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Hi, Karyn. Yes, sometimes it's good to just take the time off. That's why I planned my schedule that way last year. I'll do the same this year. I just sold a book this past Friday! So I'll be working on deadline once again. :)

Missy Tippens said...


It really helps me to have a deadline. And I can see it would work on any crafty work. I once tried to knit my husband a sweater for Christmas. Only got the sleeve done in time! So I just gave him the sleeve with a homemade card that listed 101 things to do with a sleeve. :) You know, I never did finish that sweater! I guess I needed an extended deadline. ;)

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, I loved writing it, although it can hard to write a book that absolutely has no wiggle room on the release date. I couldn't have asked for an extension to a January book! :)

But I loved writing about the holiday. And I loved being able to have input on the cover for a holiday book. The setting is really fun.

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, I also meant to say that yes, I would do another one!

Missy Tippens said...

Hi, Vince! It's great to see you here.

Yes, I definitely knew that beginning before I started writing. It was in my original proposal synopsis. I had several versions of the story, and it stayed virtually the same in all versions. Sometimes my endings come to me while I'm planning the books--and it's hard for me to vary from that! :)

Missy Tippens said...


That sounds like a perfect break. Then you'll be all ready to jump in for the new year. I'm always at my best at New Years. Always inspired to work even harder.

Enjoy time with you daughter!!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Missy, thanks for remembering about us after your long drive. Hoping for the best with you, your family and your writing in the years ahead. Merry Christmas.

PS - Think of us up here shivering in the cold snow on Christmas Day while you suffer through your Georgia heat. :D

Emmanuelle said...

Hi Missy !
Your last books seems great too.
I ordered His Forever LOve last week. I hope I'll be able to read it soon !
Congratulations *\o/*

Missy Tippens said...

Anita Mae, dare I tell you that it was nearly 70 degrees and sunny today??!! :) Absolutely gorgeous.

Emmanuelle, thanks so much for buying the previous book! I hope you enjoy it.