1. I wrote the first 50,000 words of the first draft during National Novel Writing Month 2010.
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 and about.
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 GPS device.
Harriet and 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 traveling.
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 2009.
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 orders.
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.
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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.
While navigating 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.