How to draft quickly

It’s the start of a new November, which means thousands of people are participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I adore NaNoWriMo so much, and I credit it with helping me learn to draft quickly. To date, my highest word count achievement was writing 4200 words in a single hour, but in general, I average about 3000 words an hour when writing. This is usually one chapter, although I often have shorter or longer chapters.

When I’m drafting a new novel, I sit down and tackle it one chapter at a time. I aim for writing one chapter per day, so my books are usually finished in a month since I outline using a 25-30 chapter outline.

In celebration of November 1st, I thought I’d share some of my quick drafting tips with you!

  • Use an Alphasmart. I’ve blogged at length about this, but I’m serious. This thing is probably 90% of the reason why I draft so quickly. You can’t get distracted by the internet or your computer when you’re typing on a machine like this. They are currently $35 on eBay and they run a little higher on Amazon. I recommend the Alphasmart Neo 2.0. You will NOT regret it.
  • If you don’t have mobility concerns, consider writing on a stationary bike desk or treadmill desk. I use a bike desk, and when I’m locked onto that thing, I find it so much easier to write and pedal. You don’t feel compelled to get up or move around and do something else. Focus, and butt-in-chair is how you get stuff written!
  • Turn off the Wi-Fi. This should be the first thing you do!
  • Save your research.
    • Not for the big things, of course, but for little things. If you’re writing a chapter and you need a name for a new side character, or a type of car, or you need to know the #1 hit song from 1983, DON’T stop and look it up! Nothing derails a writing sprint like Google. I use an asterisk to mark the place and then I keep going. For example, if I need a type of car, I’d put “Sally’s mom drove a *CarType that everyone in town envied.” Then, later during revisions, you can search your manuscript for all of the *’s and then fill in the missing info.
  • Outline.
    • I’m a big advocate of outlining. While there’s nothing wrong with making up your story as you go, and some people prefer that, if you want to draft quickly, an outline is the way to go. You don’t get writer’s block when you already know what’s happening in the next chapter. I tend to spend a week or so outlining a novel down to the scenes and the chapters, and then when it’s time to write it, it’s so much easier to get words on the page.
  • Don’t stress over the small stuff.
    • Tell, don’t show. Let those cliche’s fly! In fact, make ’em extra cliche-y. When I’m drafting, I know I want to describe the setting, or a character’s clothing, or eyes. But if I stop to think of a unique way to say something, it usually drags me out of the storyline and I’ll get stuck and waste too much time. Save it all for editing. If something great comes to me in the moment, I’ll write it, but if not, I allow myself to write the trite boring stuff in the moment, because I can easily go back and fix them later. I leave in the sighs, and smiles, and shrugs, and the overused phrases during the drafting stage because it keeps me writing faster. I actually prefer revisions, so I’ll go back and spruce up the droll language during edits. After all, it’s much easier to edit a completed draft than to edit a blank page.
  • Allow yourself the time to write.
    • This means close yourself up in a room. Tell the family to leave you alone. Turn off your cell phone. If you only have ten minutes or an hour, dedicate that time to you and your writing. Don’t let the world interfere with your writing time. Time is a precious commodity, and when you get some, make it count.


Bonus, untried tip:

  • Consider dictating
    • This isn’t something I do, but my husband and many of my writer friends swear by it. Dragon Naturally Speaking, or something similiar, is a software that types what you say out loud. I’ve heard it takes a learning curve to get it to work perfectly, but that it’s very rewarding once it does. I have a friend who writes 6000 words an hour by dictation. It’s definitely something to look into, and one of these days I might consider it myself.

Booklist Review of The Last Wish of Sasha Cade

There’s something I never thought about when I was writing books and pursuing publication – trade reviews. It’s a scary thing knowing a professional book reviewer is reading your book. As a rule, I don’t read reviews of my books – not at all. Not Amazon reviews, not Goodreads reviews, nothing. If someone tags me in a review on Twitter, I will click it, scroll down and find their star rating, and if it’s a good rating, I’ll share it with my followers. BUT UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO I READ THEM!

Trust me, it’s better this way.

Now trade reviews are a different beast.

I’ll admit it – I read this one. But it was after my editor sent it to me, so I was pretty sure it would be a decent review. I read it with a pounding heart and trembling hands and while on the verge of tears. In the end, I did cry, but it was over happiness that a professional reviewer liked my book!

Here’s the official Booklist review of The Last Wish of Sasha Cade:


YA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PINK TEAM–but there is also a red team, a gold team, an orange team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the pink team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday October 7th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Today, I am hosting Stacie Ramey on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
Stacie Ramey is the author of The Sister Pact, a contemporary realistic Young Adult novel which was named a YALSA 2016 Popular Paperback and a 2015 PSLA Top 40. Her sophomore novel, The Homecoming was awarded the Bronze Medal in the Florida Book Awards. Kirkus called her third book, The Secrets We Bury, “A sensitive, funny, and sometimes awkwardly romantic story of survival and self-awareness.”
Visit Stacie Ramey’s Website | Facebook | Amazon Page


Who holds your secrets?

Allie is devastated when her sister commits suicide-and it’s not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.

Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.

But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her.

Find The Sister Pact on Amazon







Mackenzie Foy


One of the cool things about being an author is you get to fantasize about your book being made into a movie…and sometimes that happens! Authors almost always have celebrities in mind when wondering who would be the best actor to play the characters in their books and I am no exception. If I was in the glorious position of casting the major roles for The Sister Pact, I would cast Landry Bender at Allie and Mackenzie Foy as Leah. Hayden Byerly would make a great Nick. So if any directors are out there and listening, let’s do this!

Landry Bender


And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Cheyanne Young, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 336. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the pink team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author! Amy McNulty!

In addition to the overall prize, I’m hosting a giveaway on my blog as well! Enter here to win a copy of The Last Wish of Sasha Cade plus swag! Giveaway is open internationally.


One Month Left!

Today is exactly one month before the release of my book baby, The Last Wish of Sasha Cade! It’s crazy to think that it’s almost out in the world. I originally wrote the book in June of 2016, got my agent in July of 2016, got my book deal around January 2017 and announced it April 1st, 2017. (only realizing it was April Fool’s Day a few minutes after announcing. Oops!) So now, 2 years and 4 months after writing the manuscript, Sasha, Raquel, and Elijah will be out in the world. I am so excited I could burst.

To celebrate there being 30 days left until the release of my book, I thought I’d share 30 facts about the book with you today.

(Narrator: As the types this, she hopes she’ll be able to think of 30 things. We shall see.)

  1. I originally titled the book SASHA CADE’S DEATHWISH. Why? Because I thought using the word Deathwish– a term that usually means you’re an idiot about to do something stupid– in the literal sense would be cool. And it did sound cool. But ultimately it sounds a little too much like a thriller, so we had to change it.
  2. I wrote the book in 30 days. No joke.
  3. The idea for the book came to me because I wanted to write about two loyal best friends who would never betray each other.
  4. But that was boring, so I decided one of them had to die.
  5. I queried 20 agents and received 3 offers of representation. After racking up 100 rejections over 3 failed manuscripts, this felt like nothing short of a miracle.
  6. After feeling really really bad for needing to reject 2 agents, I signed with Kim Lionetti, who is the very definition of a dream agent.
  7. I wrote the prologue on a scrap piece of paper when the idea for the book came to me. The real published version is nearly identical to my scribbled first draft.
  8. Award winning Canadian publisher KCP Loft bought my book.
  9. My editor is the lovely Kate Egan, who also edited The Hunger Games trilogy.
  10. The book is set in the town of Peyton Colony, Texas, which is an abandoned ghost town in real life. I like to resurrect ghost towns in my novels so that I can set the stories in “real” places, but they aren’t too real and I can make up the town’s layout as I see fit. Check out the one paragraph of information that’s left about the real Peyton Colony here.
  11. The original draft was 77,106 words.
  12. The published book is 81,482 words.
  13. I have a file of “cut scenes” from the manuscript which is over 10k words long.
  14. I chose Sasha’s name from the actress who plays Ali on Pretty Little Liars. I had been watching A LOT of that show back in 2016 and she was my favorite actress on the show.
  15. I named Raquel simply because I wanted Sasha to call her Rocki.
  16. (Being an author isn’t all magic and unicorns. Sometimes we just make stuff up.)
  17. Elijah got his name because I just really love the name. I thought of it in like 2 seconds and just went with it.
  18. I hid the number 336 in the book.
  19. I hide the number 336 in every book I write.
  20. Raquel’s mom has the same tattoo as my best friend.
  21. Sasha’s house is loosely based off a vacation home I once stayed in on Canyon Lake, Texas. Her house is a lot nicer, but the view is the same.
  22. The fictional band Zombie Radio is based off the real band, Alkaline Trio, that both me and my real BFF love.
  23. Chapter Twenty Five is my favorite chapter of the whole book.
  24. Yes, I cried while writing this book. I cried while editing it, too.
  25. Sasha’s favorite movies are also my favorite movies.
  26. Sasha didn’t originally have a dog. My editor suggested it, and I love the way it turned out. Sunny is now one of my favorite furry characters.
  27. I spent hours on Pinterest trying to find the cutest couples Halloween costume idea.
  28. I once fed deer off a balcony and thought it was the coolest thing ever. So I put it in the book.
  29. I’ve never written a prologue or epilogue in my life — and I don’t like them in books either, and yet somehow I felt compelled to write them for this book. They are my favorite parts of The Last Wish of Sasha Cade (besides Chapter 25).
  30. I cried when I saw the cover of the book. It’s stunning and simple and perfectly captures the feel of the novel.


Phew! I did it!

The Last Wish of Sasha Cade releases in exactly 30 days. You can pre-order it now and get a sticker, signed bookplate, bookmark, and wish bracelet by clicking the pre-order link at the top of this page. (or click here)

Want to read an excerpt? Click here!

Add it to Goodreads here.

Have a wonderful weekend!


The Anatomy of a pre-order Incentive

Happy Monday!

I have revisions and outlines and freelance work (and let’s face it, household chores) to do, so of course I thought it would be the perfect time for a blog post so that I can procrastinate all of that. (If you’d like me to be your role model, applications are on that desk over there.)

The Last Wish of Sasha Cade releases in 43 days (EEK!) and I’m deep in the middle of my own pre-order incentive, and I thought I’d share a bit about the whys and hows and whats of pre-order incentives. (I’m going to call it POI from now on since I’m lazy.) If you’re an author, you’ve probably done something similar yourself, or you might be considering it, and I’m here to share my experiences with you.

What is a POI?

It’s a campaign that gives you free stuff if you pre-order a book. Usually bookish swag, bookmarks, book plates, stickers, etc. Sometimes there’s a grand prize so that one of the people who pre-order will get an extra prize at the end of the campaign. It usually runs a few months before the book releases and ends on release day.

There are 2 types of POIs – one that’s publisher sponsored and one that’s author sponsored. Publisher sponsored POIs are pretty rare and you’ve probably seen them for huge books that have big name authors and big budgets. This would obviously be the ultimate POI because the publisher foots the bill and the author benefits. I’m not that lucky. I fall into the category of author sponsored POIs, so I’m sharing my experiences and insight with hosting a POI myself.

Why do a POI?

Pre-orders are VITAL to a book’s success. Sure, a book can succeed without high pre-order numbers, but authors want to give their book the best launch possible. Pre-orders count toward first week sales to get a book on the NYT list or other best seller lists. The main benefit of pre-orders is that it tells the publisher this book is worth it. Publishers might determine how many books to print based on how much buzz the book gets before release day. If you can get a good number of pre-orders, it makes the book more valuable to the publisher’s eyes.

And it’s not just about money. Seriously. I don’t ask people to pre-order my book because I’m foaming at the mouth to get the small percentage of royalties. 99% of authors aren’t rich, myself included. It’s a sad fact that most books don’t even earn out their advance, so getting a bunch of pre-orders could still mean you never see another dime from that book again. So, it’s not about money. It’s about author longevity. The simple and terrifying fact of publishing is that if I don’t sell enough copies of this book, no publisher will want to publish me again.

Authors have a lot of books in us. We don’t want to be one hit wonders. We want to keep publishing year after year, getting our stories out into the world. Publishing has become so much more competitive in the last decade, especially in YA, and authors have to bust their butt to stand out and be noticed. I’m one of those small fish in a huge pond, and even after getting my dream agent and book deal, I have never felt like I wasn’t swimming upstream, nearly out of breath, close to drowning. But if anyone can do it, we can, because authors are a stubborn bunch.

How do I set it up?

Make a dedicated page on your website. Post pictures of your incentive gifts, list out the rules, and include a link to claim the swag. Link it on the home page. Pin it to your Twitter profile. Make it as noticeable and accessible as possible! You want people to see it! I used a Google Form to collect people’s information to send them the swag. (It’s free to set this up through Google.) I also have Google set up to email me every time the form is filled out, that way I can mail it out the same day. If you don’t have that much time, or expect a lot of pre-orders, you can turn this feature off and just check it once a week or so. I encourage you to check out other POI pages to get a feel for how to set yours up. Make sure you include an official cut off date (mine is the day before my book releases).

I also allow people to claim my POI if they request my book from their local library. I think it’s important to include people who can’t afford to buy the book, especially since my target audience is teens and teens don’t have much money. I give all the same pre-order gifts except the signed book plate to people who request it from the library. Libraries are an excellent resource and a huge benefit to authors. Utilize them!

Should I do a POI?

Firstly, it’s going to cost a lot of money.

Secondly, I think it’s worth it. So yes. If you can, do it.

So what’s my POI?

Here’s my POI swag:

  • Signed Bookplate
  • Bookmark
  • Wish Bracelet (that I made myself. I even designed the card myself!)
  • Sticker
  • Postcard

For my POI, I ordered enough swag to make 100 packages:

  • Postcards $32.99
  • Bookplates $54.49
  • Bookmarks $40.72 (had to order twice since my PO lost the first order, but I won’t include that)
  • Bracelet cards $20.63
  • Bracelet cord $7
  • Bracelet charms $12
  • Stickers $48.46
  • Envelopes $5.99
  • Stamps $49
  • International Stamps (x10) $11

GRAND TOTAL: $282.28 for 100 POI packages. (Technically $40.72 more because my post office SUCKS but I digress..)

That’s $2.82 spent per POI that I mail out. This doesn’t count the fee I paid to a graphic designer to design the print files for my swag, but I would have paid that regardless of doing a POI.

It costs more money to send out a pre-order gift than I earn in royalties for a book sale. (It’s 3x more than the royalties for a paperback). Again, I’m not doing this for the money! I’m doing it to boost my book in any way possible. I want SASHA to succeed so badly. I’ve worked for ten years to see my name on the cover of a hardback book in a book store and come October 2, it’ll finally happen!

Maybe I’m selfish, but I want to do it again. So I’m pouring everything I have into promoting this book in the hopes that I’ll be able to sell another book down the road.

If you are an author, I definitely encourage you to host your own POI. Do it within your budget and chose swag that relates well to your book. I get so excited every time my Google form emails me to say someone has filled it out. That’s one more sale! That’s one more chance at continuing my dream! It’s definitely worth it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on POIs in the comments, or if you’re an author with questions, shoot me a message. I’m happy to help!

Novel Aesthetics for The Last Wish of Sasha Cade

Now that my book releases in 74 days (eek!) I’ll be attempting to blog every Friday leading up to it. Giving my track record with blogging, I probably won’t be successful, but I’ll try. Today I’m sharing some Novel Aesthetics of The Last Wish of Sasha Cade with some photos I found on Pinterest. To see the full inspiration board click here.


I am also completely in love with the aesthetics from abookin6pictures on Instagram! I was so excited to see her interpretation of the book because it’s so spot on. I really love the pool, the coffee, and the sunset. They illustrate such important parts of the book! Check out her post here:


The Last Wish Of Sasha Cade by Cheyanne Young 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A post shared by YAPictureBook (@abookin6pictures) on


The Last Wish of Sasha Cade releases on October 2, 2018. It’s up for preorder now, and you can get special swag if you preorder! Click here for details.