Monday, April 14, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop: MY TURN!!!

This first bit may look familiar, as it is almost verbatim what I posted last week when I sent you to Megan's blog where she tagged me, but TODAY is the day I share my answers:

So I've been invited to participate in a writing process blog hop... it is a weekly 'tag-you're-it' deal, where I got tagged and MY post will come NEXT week, but THIS week is the post by my friend Megan Bostic who tagged me, so I thought I'd start the intro.

The IDEA: So far as my degrees of connection in this process began, this originated with Maya Rock, though as I understand it, this blog allows it to be traced back further...

The Nearer Ancestry: I was invited by my buddy Megan Bostic, who was invited by Stephanie Feuer.

Megan and I have been friends since my first ABNA and interact most commonly on Facebook. Of my writer friends, her YA and mine probably have the greatest similarity in approach and content... not sure if that is Pacific Northwest roots or a common temperament or both, but I find her writing familiar and comfortable, even in the difficult topics she writes about.

So NOW for the QUESTIONS...

1. What am I working on?

I am finishing up A Shot in the Light, a serially published, flu conspiracy thriller thing that is the biggest bite I have ever taken and I feel like I may NEVER be done chewing. I am about ¾ done with the 11th book of 12.

But can I tell you a secret? I've been cheating on it. Not a lot, but I have an idea that has taken root and I worry if I don't get the plot down as it comes, I will miss it.

I am also meant to be EDITING What Ales Me...

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This applies to both Shot and Undoing (the new one). I like a pretty twisted tale—lots going on--Complicated. I've had reviews say I try to do too much, but I have others who love my stuff, and since this is the kind of tale I prefer to read... (none of that 'keep it simple for me--9 times out of 10, I find simple boring). I ALSO like relationships (friendships, family relationships) and focus more on those than most mystery, thriller or suspense books. To balance, I am probably light on description. I feel most engaged in reading a book when my imagination is pulled in, so I just give the basics and let the reader imagine character appearances and scenery.

3. Why do I write what I do?

To keep the darkness at bay? Because I'm mysterious and edgy? No? I write a subset of what I love to read, but I tend to write mystery and suspense involving young adult or new adult, mostly because I like people to do stupid things without being stupid people, and I think youth buys a bit of leeway there... they are the right age for learning life lessons. And maybe for discovering how to be the person they WANT to be by the end, but without having to start out as an asshat.

And also because I can't seem to write fantasy. The books I love very most—dive into and live in and read over and over again are fantasy, but I mentioned that low-description thing? Coming up with whole entire worlds, completely from scratch is just not currently in my skill set. I am more a puzzle-master than I am a maker-upper. I pull together characters, settings and plots in fresh ways and write them as they would happen. (even when I include paranormal elements, which I sometimes do)

4. How does your writing process work?

I have periods that ideas bombard me. I will have three new book ideas in a week. I diligently write them down and then close my notebook. At some later time I add them to a computer file which currently has 45 books I intend to write some day. (some of those are series).

Once they are written, I leave them there, but inevitably one of them will nag at me. Sometimes just a little—enough to take a few notes, start it's own file in my computer. But eventually one will nag me so badly I can't help but get more serious about it and I know it is the next one I'll write. I sort of think of that as the time when an book idea has adequately fermented. It tends to be well over a year after the idea first came to me. I just need things to jumble around in my head a while.

I tend to do my first drafts FAST—I do two WriMos a year and usually a third month of speed first drafting, but when I am prepping, I go through that file of ideas and SOMETIMES one of my small ideas can be merged into the thing that's bugging me—helps me round out the plot and give it some texture.

I don't outline, exactly—but I DO do a timeline. My Undoing timeline currently has 3 books, each written in 3 'Acts' and I know what each of those acts focuses on, broadly. I have noted where main characters come in and what their role in the overall plot is, so there is some detail, but I like to leave a lot of it open for later—I impose structure on the rewrite if necessary.

Like I said... zoom through the first draft, often leaving holes that just give a sentence or two as to what goes there, so I end up with a 60K first draft of what will be a 75K book. My reasoning here is simple. If I write slower, I will go on every tangent EVER and end up with a 200k MESS. If I have to go fast I get a good skeleton and what I fill in later is actually important to the story.

Once written, I need to set it aside. Shot sat for 10 months before I started revising. Many have sat much longer. I am more objective when they aren't so fresh and revising is easier. I am slower at revision by a lot, have to do it more than once, and like it less, so I have a lot of first drafts waiting for attention. I've written 16 books and only published 4 (if I count Shot at one).

And NOW, it's my turn to tag three writer friends and add them to the game... they will all share THEIR writing processes with you next Monday!!!

Helena Soister works in an office and spends her free time fencing, reading, running around Colorado, and practicing the action skills of Layla Daltry, the heroine in her thriller, The Compass Master. This means that both author and fictional character can get physically bashed up. Helena has also been known to sit down at her desk and write other novels. Her first decent book (she doesn't count the bad early ones) was the historical Prophecies and published years ago by Bantam, The Compass Master is self-published, and she's currently polishing two historical novels. 

[Tart Note: Doesn't that rock—learning all the skills her action heroine needed? I find it amazing. I ALSO want all of you to note Helena is one of the best kept secrets I know—she has AMAZING skill. Her book The Compass Master was my favorite book I read in 2012—like the DiVinci Code only with more accurate history and stronger writing—and a WOMAN solving everything. Seriously—you should buy it.]

A competitive figure skater from the age of eight, Stacy Gail began writing stories in between events to pass the time. By the age of fourteen, she told her parents she was either going to be a figure skating coach who was also a published romance writer, or a romance writer who was also a skating pro. Now with a day job of playing on the ice with her students, and writing everything from steampunk to cyberpunk, contemporary to paranormal at night, both dreams have come true.

[Tart Disclaimer: Stacy and I share a brain. She has it more often than I do, but it's because I got to be the bendy one. Stacy and I have been friends since 2005 and she was one of my earliest encouragers to 'write real books.']

Jade C. Jamison was born and raised in Colorado and has decided she likes it enough to stay forever. Jade's day job is teaching Creative Writing, but teaching doesn't stop her from doing a little writing herself.

Unfortunately, there's no one genre that quite fits her writing. Her work has been labeled romance, erotica, suspense, and women's fiction, and the latter is probably the safest and closest description. But you'll see that her writing doesn't quite fit any of those genres.
You'll have to discover Jade's writing for yourself to decide if you like it.

[Tart Note: I have known Jade less long—I really got to spending time with her through Writing Sprints R Us, a Facebook group where I spend a lot of time, but she is AMAZING. Super supportive and she has been an INCREDIBLE beta reader for Shot, which is a ginormous commitment. She ALSO is an excellent person to look to for how you get an Indie career to really take off—if that is your goal, you should pay attention. Jade ALSO, generally goes incognito, as her writing is spicy and some of her family gets heartburn]


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I follow Helena!
Fantasy does require so much world-building, which is a reason I've never attempted it. (So does science-fiction, but fortunately I can get away with less in my sub-genre.)
If you're writing what you enjoy reading, then press on and enjoy!

Helena said...

I really am in awe of all your writing projects and your discipline and fertile imagination and... oh hell, just plain everything about you, Hart my dear. Thanks so much for plugging me and my book, and I am definitely checking out the novels of Megan, Stacy and Jade. The variety we all represent is pretty impressive, in my humble opinion.

And since I read What Ales Me and your first two cozies (Keeping Mum is next up), I can testify that you do indeed emphasize family and friendships more than most mystery writers, which is very appealing.

This is a fun blog hop. Thank you for inviting me into it!

Sarah Ahiers said...

you call it fermenting, I call it marinating. But my process is almost exactly like that, just without the spreadsheet. I might give that a try

Yolanda Renée said...

Busy, busy, lady! You are to be admired for your goals and accomplishments!

Just thought you'd like to know I mentioned you on my N is for Needle Blog for the A to Z!

Yolanda Renée at Murderous Imaginings

Megan Bostic said...

We are so much alike, EXCEPT you get books done SO much faster than I. I wish I had your diligence when it comes to writing. Thanks for your participation in the hop thingymajigger.

Unknown said...

Oh, I wish I could write as fast as you! I'm capable of writing a fast first draft, but the revisions take FOREVER!

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and for your encouraging words :)

Carol Riggs said...

Haha, you liking people who do stupid things w/o being stupid people. Great to know your strengths, as far as being a puzzle-master vs a maker-upper. :)