Making Sleep Loss the Goal

ACFW Advice, Authors and writing, Books, Friends of ACFW, Novellas, writing 2 Comments

By Chandra Lynn Smith

You’re in your favorite chair, maybe even sitting sideways across its arms. A cone of light from the only lamp on in the house shines over your shoulders. The dogs are curled up at your feet and maybe even a cat is on the back of the chair. The rest of your family went to bed hours ago, but you were too lost in the world of story to go to bed. It’s the last fifty pages and you know you cannot go to sleep until you finish the book. Even after you read “the end” you close the book, hold it tightly to your chest, and don’t want to say goodbye to the characters.

As a reader, I love books like this. And, I believe good writers must be readers. If we are too busy to read for pleasure or too busy to understand why we sat in the chair long after closing the book finding it difficult to leave the story world; then we may be too busy to be writers.

As a writer, that’s how I want my books to be. One of the greatest compliments I got after someone read my novella, Turtle Box Memories, was that after she read it she started a new novel and missed the characters from my book! What a great compliment.

Whether you are in the beginning pages of your manuscript, in the challenging middle, trying to figure out the ending or deep in the mire of editing and re-writing, don’t ever forget the joy of the last fifty pages. Well, maybe not so much the joy of writing them as much as reading. I am currently working on the sequel to my first novella, The Light Holding Her. I remember writing the last few chapters of that book. I played the theme song to The Pirates of the Caribbean by The Piano Guys over and over. Loudly. (Loud enough my dear husband came downstairs to see what in the world I was doing.) You see, there was a blizzard and a lady and her dog stuck at home, a bad guy stalking her, no power, no land lines, no cell signals. It was late at night. The hero was stuck at work and their faith was only a thin thread. I needed to get them safely back to the coffee shop at the lakeside town by the end of the book. I knew the more challenging it was for me to write, the better the chance my readers would lose some sleep.

So, today I am working on the sequel to The Light Holding Her, currently titled, Song in the Night. As I write, Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Musik plays. I’m only in the middle right now, but my brain is already thinking of those last fifty pages. Here in Pennsylvania, we have a nasty winter storm on the way. It makes for good times to cozy in and write. I’m hoping writing makes me miss a lot of sleep this weekend, so that this summer, my readers will too.

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Chandra Lynn Smith writes contemporary fiction filled with inspiration, intrigue, romance, and dogs. Her most recent novella, Turtle Box Memories, won the 2015 Genesis Award in the novella category. Her first book, The Light Holding Her is one of seven novellas by seven authors in Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection.

Chandra’s career as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer provides her with a variety of canine characters and challenging situations. She and her husband live on a small farm in South Central Pennsylvania. They are proud parents of four sons and grandparents to Elliotte, here on earth and Sophia, in heaven with God. Their house is often filled with their two dogs, all four sons, wives, fiancés, granddaughter, friends, and as many as nine “grand dogs.”  You can find her at or



Comments 2

  1. Chandra, even this blog post made me hear the music, feel the thrill of those last fifty pages, and want to curl up in a cozy chair with a “cone of light from the only lamp” over my shoulder. You really captured the joy of reading…and of writing a book that readers will savor!

  2. When you have a reader tell you it kept them up way too late into the night, that’s definitely one of my favorite compliments.
    Great way to motivate yourself to make your readers want more.

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