Make more coffee…running out of coffee…double-check if “double-check” should be hyphenated…should I have written the back half of that scene in the other character’s point of view? Maybe I should vacuum more often…
This is some of the chatter going through my head during the average day. Then author Karen Dodd materializes (yes, like Barbara Eden) and asks if I want to be tagged in her blog hop about what goes on inside a writer’s head. Since I’m already halfway there, and I’ve been a big fan of Karen’s since I was lucky enough to edit her fabulous novel, Deadly Switch: A Stone Suspense, I said, “Um. Wait. I’m gonna need more coffee.”
But here’s a twist: I’m not tagging anyone. Mainly because when I ask for volunteers, I imagine that at the other end of my request is an expression people make in July when you offer them the extra zucchini from their gardens. Writers, if you’d like to play along on your own blogs, have fun. No pressure. No zucchini.
1. What am I working on?
On a typical day, I’ll be editing, writing, or doing freelance work. I don’t talk much about the manuscripts I’m editing—client confidentiality, and all. If I mention some of my freelance projects I’d have to kill you, and it’s such a hassle to dispose of a body these days, what with all the OSHA regulations.
So let’s stick to writing. Right now, I’m preparing the final draft of Playing Charlie Cool for copyediting. Okay, that just gave me chills. Not only because it’s one of the first times I’ve typed the title out loud. But it’s also part of a series, and that’s new to me, too. This full-length novel is the sequel to The Picture of Cool and Don’t Tell Anyone. Technically, Playing Charlie Cool will be the third book in a series I’m calling Trager Family Secrets. And there might be more.
Yes, you read that right—I’m hiring a copyeditor. Even though I edit, I need a fresh set of eyes after I’ve read a manuscript sixty-seven times or so. I’m working on the cover, the description, the series branding (ack!) and some advance marketing: all those fun things indie authors get to do leading up to a book launch.
2. How does your work differ from other works in the genre?
First I need to figure out which genre I’m in. I like to float around a little in the categories, depending on the characters I’m working with and the story I’m telling. Mainly I write contemporary fiction and women’s fiction, most of which has a romantic thread. The characters interest me the most. I like to get to know them; I like them to feel as realistic as the guy sitting next to you on the subway. I don’t know if that makes me different, but it’s something I like to do, and something readers have commented on.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few decades. Especially when I get odd looks from family and friends when I talk about the topics I’m working on. I think I try to write so I can better understand the world around me. Frequently I’ve written about people and families going through some painful, complicated stuff. Maybe they haven’t made what I consider to be the best choices, but they’re doing the best they can at the time with the resources they have, and I want the world to understand them. I want to understand them. They deserve to have their stories told.
4. How does my writing process work?
First I light a candle and sacrifice a goat. Kidding. Goats are too hard to sneak into the house. And if you think OSHA is bad about human disposal, imagine how tough they are on goats. So I don’t do that. Much. Anymore. At least since that night in Rio…
Anyway, I used to be a dedicated and vociferous pantser. I’d sit down at my computer or with my notebook, do some deep breathing exercises, and feel the character enter the scene. It worked pretty well. Still does, sometimes. Eventually, the character would reveal a story, and I’d be off and running from there. After the first draft, I’d write a summary of each scene on an index card and outline the story. That helped me see where I needed to rearrange, delete, or add scenes. With the input of my writing group and fabulous, fabulous beta readers, I’d revise and rewrite draft upon draft until I felt like the manuscript was done.
When I began self-publishing, I met some great, supportive colleagues, many of them through Facebook groups and Indies Unlimited. The wise and talented Lynne Cantwell clued me in to a process she uses that’s a little bit outline, a little bit on the fly. I’ve modified that some. For the last couple of projects, I’ve worked with a very rough set of plot points (I know. It’s basically an outline, but the word “outline” scares me.)
So I can wave my pantser flag and (sort of) know where I’m going. With the caveat that if I arrive somewhere else and it fits the story, I can change the outline.
We all deserve the right to change our paths, yes?
I hope you’re enjoying your summer (those in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), and that you aren’t beleaguered by too many zucchinis. If you’d like to read about the writing processes of my fellow tagees, check out…
Mary Novik has written two novels about minor characters in the lives of great figures of literature. Conceit, about the daughter of the poet John Donne, was hailed as “a magnificent novel of seventeenth-century London” by The Globe and Mail, which chose it as a book of the year. Conceit was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Mary’s new novel, Muse, is about the mysterious woman who inspired Petrarch’s poetry in fourteenth-century Avignon. She is part of the Vancouver writing group SPiNand welcomes you to her website at www.marynovik.com
Diana Stevan is a Jill of many trades. Writer/Actress. Formerly a family therapist, model, teacher, freelance television broadcaster, librarian. Married with 2 kids, 3 grand-kids. Debut novel, A CRY FROM THE DEEP, coming October, 2014. Currently working on her grandmother’s story during the Great War and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia (what is now Western Ukraine). Find out more about Diana at dianastevan.com
Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. When not researching for her next book, Kat can be found running her three sons to hockey and lacrosse. She has her Certificate in Freelance and Business Writing. A member of many writing groups, Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. She’s been published in numerous periodicals. Her debut novel CHASING CLOVERS has been on Amazon.com’s Bestsellers list many times and hit #62 over all their titles. LAKOTA HONOR and HAZARDOUS UNIONS are Kat’s other two books, both have also made bestseller lists. Kat is currently hard at work on her next book. Visit Kat at katflannerybooks.com.
Waiting for Charlie!
Carlie’s coming. You’ll love it. 😀
Thanks, Lee! Working on Charlie as fast as he’ll let me! 😉
Maybe that’s what I’m doing wrong. No animal sacrifices. lol Seriously, though, I struggle wuth genre, too. And i am a wee bit less of a pantser than I used top be.
Thanks for the kind mention, Laurie. 🙂 I’m glad to hear that the beats system is working for you. And I’m waiting for Charlie, too, but you knew that. 😀
You’re welcome, Lynne. I’d forgotten the actual name of the process, so thank you for refreshing my tired brain. 😀
Thanks for your kind remarks, Laurie. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I notice you haven’t tried laying a dead chicken on top of your keyboard!
You’re welcome, Mary. Yeah…the chicken. It was too messy. And I hate to clean. Hopping over to your blog now!
I’m still pantsing. But I like the idea of scenes on index cards. With my latest I want to write it linearly then shake it up when I move to the second draft, make a non-linear story. Scary. Since I only do decaf, I’ll try the goat. Or maybe just some goat cheese.