NaNoWriMo is an
annual writing competition that happens every November. While I’d heard about
the contest before, I didn’t decide to participate until sometime on the
evening of Nov. 1. This story had been brewing in my mind for a couple of years
before I started the first draft, but I still had to quickly hash out an outline.
I reached the
50,000-word deadline just under the wire at 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 30. My Internet
wouldn’t properly connect to the website, and I had to send the manuscript to a
friend who uploaded it for verification on my behalf. I sat on the phone with
her while she went through the steps. Once she gave me the confirmation that
everything went through, I simultaneously fist-pumped the air and cried. I’ve
successfully participated in NaNoWriMo every year since, but that was the most
emotional I ever got.
2. I wrote more than half of the first-draft
in notebooks on airplanes and transcribed them into my computer in airport
terminals between flights.
At the time, I
traveled seven to twelve days a month and I had to sneak in writing whenever I
could. My job – a corporate journalist who wrote employee publications for
industrial customers – provided me with lots of reporter notebooks and pens,
which I kept handy for note taking if inspiration ever struck while I was out
3. Excluding the Lexi Burke and her family,
all of the characters’ last names in this book are the cities and work sites I
traveled to for work at that time.
I’m not even
sure why I decided to do this, but once the idea popped in my head, I was sold.
Jason Beaumont, Lexi’s love interest, has his last name, because Beaumont,
Texas, was one of the most complicated places I visited for work. I had some of
my best employee encounters there and some of my worst. While I tended to cry
on almost every trip (usually on the last day or two, because I was exhausted,
hungry and dirty), it was the only location where someone was so mean to me, I
sat in my car and cried for five minutes. I also had a couple of my best
interviews in that town.
I figured it was
a fitting name for a man who might force my character to go through a roller
coaster of feelings, because of the wide range of emotions I experienced.
4. I named Lexi’s smartphone after my company-issued
Harriet 2 (the first one passed away from old age in San Antonio, Texas),
accompanied me on every trip I took during my four years of professionally
5. The restaurant Lexi and a co-worker go to for
dinner in New Orleans’ French Quarter is based on a place I ate at in fall
The story goes
that the Napoleon House Bar & Café
was offered up to Napoleon as a place of refuge, but he never made it. Now,
they serve amazing Cajun fare. I ate the shrimp remoulade stuffed avocado and
my dining partner had a poor boy. We were both equally satisfied with our
Hard Hats and Doormats
Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.
But after losing
out on a big promotion–-because her boss sees her as too much of a
yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine
print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who
is off limits based on her previous protocol.
a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand
on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.
Laura Chapman found a way to mix her love of romance and humor as a women’s fiction author and blogger. Her debut novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, was released in December with Marching Ink.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Laura studied journalism, English and history. She spent several years traveling the country as a writer/photographer, and currently works in communications.
Born and raised in Nebraska – in a city, not on a farm – she is a devoted fan of football, British period drama, writing in bars and her cats, Jane and Bingley.
Excerpt from Hard Hats and Doormats Alexis Burke @theLexiBurke Can a person refer to employees as Jackass 1 & 2
in an official report? Asking for a friend. #HRProblems #ThisIsMyLife The universe keeps telling jokes and I’m the punch
line. #IHaveProof Okay, seriously. When did this become my life? Can I
get a mulligan? #ObscureGolfAnalogyForLife In kindergarten
Sunday school, Lexi Burke imagined Hell as a fire-ridden, hate-filled pit below
Earth’s surface. On a mighty throne of blackened steel and skulls, Satan preyed
on the souls of the damned for eternity. Twenty years
later, she discovered a new version of Hell. It was a windowless conference
room on an oil platform off the coast of God-only-knew-where Texas in the
middle of May. The devil took form in two men, both middle-aged and madder than
a hornets nest. Despite the sweat building on her neck, she shivered. When did babysitting old guys become my job? How mad do hornets get, and what does their nest have
to do with it? Where did I come up with that analogy? Solving those
mysteries had to wait. Casting a glance at the figures gathered around the
badly chipped table, she considered the situation at hand. The two men, their
union reps, and a team of local managers were going yet another round in their
verbal sparring without a semblance of resolution. The representatives wanted
the men to go back to work. The managers wanted to give them pink slips. As the HR
manager assigned – albeit at last-minute – to the investigation, she wanted to
keep everyone from killing each other. Not an easy task, considering the two
men under investigation already gave murder their best shot.