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My Writing Process!

Hello lovelies!

Bill Blume, a fellow author at Fable Press, has tagged me as part of a blog tour for various authors to talk about, you guessed it, Our Writing process. As part of the tour, I’ll answer four questions, and then tag three other authors I know to do the same.

What questions? I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED!

1. What am I working on?
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
3. Why do I write what I do?
4. How does my writing process work?
SO! Let’s get down to business!
1. What am I working on?
I’ve just turned in the Final-Final draft of book two of my Covencraft series, titled Counter-Hex. I’m currently plotting out book 3 in the series, which I tentatively have a title for but don’t know if I’m willing to share it yet! I’m also working on a Fanfic that’s a WIP – work in progress, meaning I’m posting it as I go. this has been a REAL change for me as I normally don’t post stuff until it’s finished. It’s a little scary putting stuff out there and having it just be… there – unable to change it as I go along! I also just finished a short story for Jade and Paris [from Covencraft] and am plotting out another short story, possibly set in the same world but about a different character, Yvonne. She can raise the dead. It’s not as cool as it sounds.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
This one’s tough because I like a lot of works in my genre and I don’t want to sound like I’m speaking badly of them. I have noticed that in a lot of books in my genre [urban fantasy] there can be real division from the female lead from other female characters, as though the female protagonist has to bring herself up by putting other women down (she gets noted as not being like ‘other’ women, or is only surrounded by men). There also seems to be a lack of women in strong roles AROUND the heroine. I’m hoping that in my work, I bring a more balanced gender representation. Jade has friends of both sexes, and interacts with men and women. In my short story, about Jade meeting the Werewolves, I specifically made my Alpha werewolf a woman because I hadn’t personally read that before! I also hope that I bring my own quirky sense of humor to my work!
3. Why do I write what I do?
You know, writing can be a lonely business. I write what I do because I like it. I write the story I want to tell and I want to read. I try to please myself first. That way if everyone else hates it, at least I can guarantee one person is happy – ME! I also like playing around and making up new and interesting rules or mashing up genres. Urban Fantasy has a lot of leeway to play with and so I feel very free and open to bust in and have at it.
4. How does my writing process work?
I usually keep a notebook in my purse – just a small Moleskine thing that’s light and doesn’t add too much bulk. I make notes as I think of things – scenes, snippets of dialogue, that sort of thing. Then I actually found a 10 step outline that I really like and lately, I’ve been trying to stick to it! The outline is actually how to write a one page synopsis – I found it while trying to do exactly what the title says for Trial by Fire! I was pretty happy to find out, I’d followed the outline without knowing it. For book 2, Counter-Hex, I stuck to it and found it really kept me focused. Then, in my notebook, I journal things that I’m having a hard time with – Plot holes, character development, reasoning. I find if I just sit there and ‘think’ about it, I don’t really get it done. But if I write it out, journal style, I usually come up with a solution! I try to know how the book ends before I start. I may not know how I get there, but I at least know the destination. I also try to have one or two sentences be my ‘focus’ – my answer to “What is this book about?” and I also try to have a solid idea of where my characters are coming from emotionally. That may not always come across in the book, but I feel that knowing it helps me drive it. In Trial by Fire I knew the focus was Jade finding out about her power and wondering if she belonged. At the same time, Paris was learning more about his own past and his Coven [by finding out that someone wanted to steal Jade’s power]. So I saw their ‘arc’s as almost intersecting but opposite – She’s learning about the Coven and deciding if she should join. He’s learning about the Coven and not liking what he finds out. In book two, Counter-Hex, there will be a continuation of that. Jade continues to learn about the Coven and her feelings of belonging [or not] are being fleshed out. Paris is learning there’s more to being a witch than he thought.
And now! Some authors to tag!

First, I’m tagging Tereasa Maillie. Tereasa and I used to work together [some days, could we REALLY call it working, T? lol] and she has a real passion for history and writing! She’s written several plays, most notably an adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma that was put on by Gas and Light Production here in Calgary, and I believe she also did an adaptation of Lady Windermere’s Fan!

Gas and Light Productions

Gas and Light Productions

 

Next! I’m tagging Laurie Lyons, author of the Feather Trilogy.

Laurie Lyons

Laurie Lyons

Book 1 in the Feather Trilogy

Book 1 in the Feather Trilogy

Laurie and I have known each other since high-school [we won’t say how long ago that was!] and used to write longhand in scribblers/notebooks and swap stories. Now we meet up for coffee with our laptops and try to help each other push through the ugly bits of writing – usually edits! The last book of the Feather trilogy, Faith, was just released, so if you’re the type that likes to read all the books of a series all at once, you’re in luck!

 

And! I’m tagging Sarah Madison, author of numerous works, but most recently, The Boys of Summer.

Sarah Madison

Sarah Madison

The Boys of Summer

The Boys of Summer

Sarah and I met on some online forums and we’re fortunate enough to be able to get together with some of our other online friends about once a year and hole up in a room with our laptops and some wine. She just finished the sequel to Unspeakable Words [Dreamspinner] and I believe she’s working on a third installment in that series as well [Am I correct, Sarah?]. Perhaps she’ll talk about it in the follow up to this tag!

 

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Covencraft book 2 Udpate – First draft done!

OMG, guys! I just finished the first draft of Book 2 of Covencraft!

Let’s take a moment to CELEBRATE!

Carlton dancing

Now comes the next steps – EDITS!

Unimpressed

I admit, I HATE editing. But I’ve promised Fable Press they will have the book by January 15, so there’s no time to waste if I want it to be read over by my beta readers in time!

So I’ll have a celebratory drink tonight (and by drink, I mean bottle of wine) and then tomorrow, I start editing from the beginning. I already have some notes on things that need tweaking, and I’ll be checking my SPAG as I go. Then it’s off to Donna, Chantal and Ash for review. Although, Donna already has a rough draft without the ending that she’s looking at right now. She’s doing the “Yo, does this have a plot?” read through.

I’m always so happy when I finish a draft! It makes all the really tough parts (the crying, the wailing, the despair, the teeth gnashing, the fingernail biting, DID I MENTION THE DESPAIR??) worth it!

Happy-Dean-supernatural-17876753-392-352

 

 

No really, I’m still alive

Internetz, it’s been a while.

Wassup?

I was crazy busy at my day job in September and getting ready for a vacation to see some really good friends by the end of the month. I somehow foolishly thought I just wouldn’t be as busy when I got back from vaycay?

Newsflash – I was. OMG, I WAS A MACHINE. I am legit so productive lately, I amaze myself.

Of course, this means I generally come home at nights and then veg out, staring blankly at my computer trying to write. It’s been slow going.

But! Progress is made! I’m at about 56000 words on Book 2 of Covencraft, and I’ve finally got the pieces all where I want them and now I just hopefully have to knock them all down!

I’m also working SOOPER SEKRIT project. I would tell you more but it’s SOOPER SEKRIT. But it’s fun!

And of course, my fanfiction!  I’m feeling very inspired lately and just have a lot of good vibes and feels all around so I’m trying hard to capitalize on it and get writing.

I’m not ‘officially’ doing NaNoWriMo but some of my friends and I have made an online group and we’re supporting each other there through the month of November. We have ART! We have CRAFTS! We have WRITING! it’s a fun group and I’m lucky to have such a great group of people to rely on!

Okay! That’s it for now! I’m off for a few days and maybe I’ll have some pics when I’m back!

PS – the Drop in Center in Calgary is having a shortage of winter clothing. If you read this and you live in Calgary, please take a look around your house to see if you have anything to spare.

Status update – What’s happening on my keyboard ‘write’ now [Oh! so punny!]

So, my summer was not as productive as I would have hoped due to some circumstances that were partially in my control but that I let get away from me for a while.

but! I’m back on track! what’s going on? I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED:

I just finished reading “2K to 10K” about writing faster and I got some really good tips! If anyone out there is looking for some ideas on how to punch up their numbers, I recommend it. What does it boil down to? WORK – pre-planning, pre-plotting and knowing what you’re writing before you sit down so that you don’t waste your writing time staring at the keyboard wondering ‘What Happens Next?” I feel like I knew this but I needed to see it written out for me and explained and this book was excellent at that.

I’ve been working on Book 2 of my Covencraft series [working title Counter-Hex] and while I know how it ends, I didn’t have it all fleshed out. To be clear, I don’t like to overplot because I like my characters to have room to do what they may feel is necessary and I won’t always know what that is until I start writing. But I do like to have certain beats to hit and I didn’t have all those set in my head. After reading the 2K book, I sat myself down and started ‘plotting’… and realized I kind of didn’t have a system for it, officially. My first step was to find “the System”

When I submitted Trial by Fire to Fable Press, I had to give a one-page synopsis and I found a great site that helped me do that. So I thought – dayammmmm I should do that for book 2 BEFORE i write it and then poof! I will know what I’m doing. This me be surprising to people who aren’t writers. Like, how did you write a book without knowing what you were doing? Like I said, I know how stuff ends, I just don’t always know how I’m going to get there. It’s worked out for me in the past but it’s been painful at times. I want to write less painfully! so I’m taking steps to make it happen.

I’ve also been playing with another story. I want to put it on Wattpad, but I just don’t know if it’s going to be a YA or if it’s going to be New Adult, or maybe neither? It feels like a YA [when I get the character voice I’m looking for] but then the plot I had in mind for it [which legitimately came from a dream I had] doesn’t work for a YA book, so I’m sort of torn. But I think on Wattpad you can put stuff up and ask for help? IDK, I’m not sure how that all works.

And of course, my other love, fanfic. Yes, lovelies, I’m still writing it. No, you can’t have my fandom name. But if you’re in the fandoms I’m in, you might be able to guess who I am based on my writing/posts.

So that’s what’s happening – 3 WIPs [works in progress] with the possibility of me re-working an existing work.

And that’s all the shrimp there is

 

Beginning with the End in Mind

Originally posted at http://mymidnightfantasies.blogspot.com/  as part of my blog tour!

 
As part of my day job, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take the workshop, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People [created by Stephen Covey]. It’s really about how to make the most out of what’s important to you. It’s not about being successful, or rich or famous, although if those things matter to you, I guess it could be. The habits are about how to structure your life and your time so that you use it to the best of your abilities and you get what you want – what you consider important. One of the habits talked about was “Beginning with the End in Mind.”  Basically, it’s about knowing what you want to get out of something before you start. Whenever I learn something new in any avenue of my life, I try to sit back and think about how I can apply it to my entire life – work, hobbies, family. In this case, Beginning with the End in Mind, has helped me with structuring and writing my book. Here’s how:

The early stages of developing a story are very exciting! Characters, plots, scenes, dialogue snippets – they’re all swirling and percolating in your mind and your fingers are just ITCHING to start typing. The beginning sometimes seems to just pour out of you – your writing is fast paced, voluminous and you’re happy-happy-happy.

But, do you know where you’re going? If not, you’ll probably be like me and all of a sudden it grinds to a halt and you’re not really sure why. It was going so well! You had a rhythm! There was a flow! And now? NADA.

It could be because you don’t know where you’re going. I don’t necessarily mean you need to have every plot point of your story mapped out in the early stages, but knowing generally what your book is about and how it ends can be a real game-changer for your writing.

So, how do I do that? I try to write the synopsis of my book BEFORE I start the book, or while I’m still working on the first pages – while I’m still in that super-exciting stage. The synopsis is your book jacket or your book’s teaser – it’s what your book is about. It generally doesn’t contain any real spoilers or a step by step plot outline, but it does tell you what to expect.

But, “it’s complicated”, you say, “I’ve a lot going on! This happens and this happens and there’s this woman from the past and we don’t know what her motives are and she’s got connections to the protagonist. It’s all tangled and complex”.

I’m sure it is! That makes for a great book!

But at it’s core, what’s your story about? Who is your story about? What is the essential struggle? Everything else is the ‘dressing’ or the ‘extras.’ If your book is an ice cream sundae, the synopsis is the ice cream. You can add whipped cream, cherries, nuts, sauces and anything else you want to make it as fantastic as possible. But you gotta have the ice cream first! At the risk of mixing my metaphors, I’m going to go so far as to say if your ice cream is NOT readily viewable or noticeable to the reader, they’re going to wonder what all these extra toppings are for.

Also, knowing what your book is about will really help you when you get stuck. I keep my synopsis on a doc that I can see while I write. When I get stuck, I read over it and think, “Is this scene telling that story? Does this moment propel the narrative toward this goal? If not, is that why I’m stuck? Am I telling the same story now that I started out with? What would need to happen next to get me to where I’m going?”

Sometimes, I get really excited about a new set of characters or a scene I want to write and I think, “I’ll just start and the ending will come!” That RARELY works for me. If you can do it, I envy you. I usually end up with some great writing that I’m excited about and then it just peters out and stops at some point and I’m never able to get it going again. Mostly because I don’t know where I’m going with it.

Additionally, if YOU don’t know where you’re story is going, how will the reader? Will they feel the same sense of wandering and disjointedness while reading it that you felt writing it? Probably.

So, while it’s hard and it can be it’s own trial, writing the synopsis of your story before you start can be a great anchor for your work. It lets you know that you know where you’re going. You don’t have to know how to get there, but you do need to have the destination in mind!

Blog Tour Schedule!

I’m going on tour!

From July 29 to Aug 26, I will be ‘On Tour’ with Bewitching Book Tours promoting my book, Trial by Fire!

bewitching_author Trial by Fire Button 300 x 225

The tour runs on Weekdays, links below so you can stop by and check stuff out. I’ll be updating this post as I create guest blog posts so you’ll know what I’ll be discussing.

What will happen on the book tour? I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED:

Guest Blog – A post written by me – I’m still looking for the perfect place to write my post on “The Importance of Being Miss Piggy”, but for this tour, I’ll probably stick to writing, elements of writing, supernatural stuff and/or items feature my book.

Spotlight – Will feature excerpts from Trial by Fire

Interviews – will feature my responses to interview questions. I was very excited to do my first “Character Interview” for July 29, featuring answers by Jade!

Review – Will feature a book review of Trial by Fire [Gotta admit, this one has me biting my nails a bit]

Le Schedule

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
July 29
Character Interview [Jade]
Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews
Author Interview
The Official Blog of A.C. James
July 30
Spotlight
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
July 31
Author Interview
A Writer’s Mind
August 1 – Day off! August 2
Guest blog – Genre World Building
Mythical Books
August 5
Guest blog – Character Interview [Paris]
Christina McKnight Blog
August 6
Spotlight – Excerpt 1
Kelly P’s Blog
Spotlight – Excerpt 2
Reviewing in Chaos
August 7
Guest blog – Where do your ideas come from
Buffy’s Ramblings
Review of Trial by Fire
Escape Into A Book
August 8
Spotlight – Excerpt 3
Share My Destiny
August 9
Spotlight – Excerpt 1
Krystal’s Enchanting Reads …
Spotlight and review of Trial by Fire [excerpt 2]
wicca witch 4 book blog
August 12
Review of Trial By Fire
Ella Gray
August 13
Guest blog – Begin with the End in Mind
Itara @My midnight fantasies
August 14
Spotlight
Zombiegirl Shambling
August 15
Guest blog – Deleted Scene from Trial by Fire
Bookworm Bridgette’s World
August 16
Author Interview
Fang-tastic Books
Spotlight
Mommasez…blog
August 19
Author Interview
Roxanne’s Realm
Review of Trial by Fire
Nicky Peacock author
August 20
Spotlight
Reading In Twilight
Aug 21
Spotlight
Books & Tales
August 22
Spotlight
Elfie Books
August 23
Spotlight and Review of Trial by Fire
Faerie Tale Books
August 26
Author Interview
Pembroke Sinclair
Spotlight
Jodie Pierce

I’m super excited and a little nervous! I think August will be a busy month for me!

The Importance of Editing

Editing – the bane of my existence. I would argue most writers hate to edit and if you’re a writer and you don’t hate editing, wanna do mine for me?

But, editing is a necessary evil and though I detest it, I try my hardest! I quite often skip words when I write, thinking I’ve typed them out when I really haven’t. I also don’t always stop for commas, apostrophes and spelling. A solid edit clears all that up.

I think my favorite example about editing is the difference between, “Let’s eat, Grandma!” and “Let’s eat Grandma!”

One is a call to a grandmother, inviting them to eat. The other…. well… Grandma might not make it through dinner.

I’m blessed with several ‘beta’ readers – these are the gems in my world who fix up my stuff and tell me when I’ve missed commas, forgotten plot lines or just… made a hot mess. A good beta offers constructive criticism and doesn’t just tell you, “IT’S WONDERFUL.” In fact, a good beta will likely NOT tell you that. At least not until after they finish pointing out your mistakes so you can fix them.

I once had a beta note that I was missing an explanation scene for something. I thought it was clear, but then again, I’ve got the whole world of the story in my head. I wrote a quick little explanation scene and in all the comments I got on that story [fanfiction] the number one thing I heard was how that little scene was people’s favorite. and I wouldn’t have added it without my beta!

I had a lot of help on my book, Trial by Fire [coming out June 25 – SHAMELESS PLUG – click on the COVENCRAFT link above]. And I owe them a big ‘Thank you’ and I hope they don’t mind me calling them by name here!

CHANTAL – I gave you an 80000+ manuscript and then asked for it back in less than a week, with edits and you did it graciously and without complaint and made it a better book! THANK YOU. I appreciate it so much. [Even though you’ve been jealous of me since we were kids ;)]

DONNA – the care and consideration you showed while reading my novel was heartwarming and humbling. I can’t believe the things you noticed and how much thought and effort you put into it. God bless you and your mother’s grammar lessons!

ASHLEIGH – bb, I expected the fastest turnaround from you [as I’m familiar with your reading speed ;)] and you did not disappoint! I think you got back to me, like, 24 hrs after I sent you the proof? THAT’S FRIENDSHIP, GURL!

The F Word – Fanfiction

Ah yes, the ‘other’ F-word – FANFICTION.

Yes, I write fanfic. No, I won’t tell you my fandom name 😉 [Although I knew a person on fandom that could figure out who people were based on their word usage and writing style – truly an amazing talent!]

I’ve been debating this long and hard over the last couple of days and I really struggled with what to say/do about my fanfic. I’m really  proud of the stories I’ve written – some more than others but I think that’s pretty routine for most authors. Fanfic got me interested in writing again at a time where I had just… lost the joy of it. I started dreading writing and that had NEVER happened to me before. And fanfic really helped me get over that.

I started writing fanfic when I was in highschool, but I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. it wasn’t until 2009 when I joined LiveJournal that I realized what I’d been doing and that I had this…. epiphany that THERE WERE OTHER PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT LIKED TO DO THE SAME THING.

I’ve had SUCH fun writing fanfic! It’s like playing with someone else’s dressup box. I’m WELL AWARE that there are authors out there that turn their nose down on it or disparage it but I’ve got to be honest – some of the BEST writing I’ve EVER READ has been fanfic. There’s so much HEART in so many of the stories. People really do write for the love of the characters, for the love of the story and even when that writing is rough or raw, it can be gorgeous simply because of the emotion behind it.

My own fanfic taught me a lot about characterization, pacing and what people responded to. I was surprised at times when a story I considered to be ho-hum would be noted as a favorite by readers. Similarly, I was equally surprised when I story I LOVED and thought was some of my best work was received with lackluster response.

At any rate, it made me THINK a lot about my writing. It gave me the chance to experiment. Also, reading some of the works out there really helped me LEARN.

And! Let me just put this out there – if anyone ever reads my Covencraft series and is inspired to write fanfic on it:

Sam W - too precious for this world

I may eventually release my fandom name but for now, you’ll have to see if you can find me! I’m still out there and I’m still writing.

Writing is hard!

Is there anyone who whines more about writing being hard than people who write?

Nope.

I’m still gushing about how my book will be coming out and then my sister says “So, have you started working on the second one yet?”

I said “LOOK WRITING IS VERY HARD OKAY IT TAKES A LOT OF SITTING AROUND STARING AT THE INTERNET VERY HARD WORK AND THERE ARE PLOTS AND … STUFF.”

Short answer – okay, not really.

long answer – I’ve got my little journaling book started on book 2. I write on my laptop and I do most everything on a computer, tablet, iphone etc but I find for figuring stuff out I need the slower speed of a pen on paper.

and my chicken scratch handwriting. sometimes I can’t even tell what I wrote but I know the process helps!