Thanks to Kate Davies for inviting me to join her on this writing process blog tour!
NOTE: OMG y’all! I’m writing this on Sunday night (naturally, because it has to go up on Monday), and we’re watching Supernatural. The episode is “The Monster At The End of This Book” and it’s where they first meet Chuck Shurley, the writer/prophet who’s been documenting Sam and Dean’s lives while thinking he’s writing fiction.
Dean demands to know how Chuck’s process works, and Chuck replies, “Well, it usually starts with a headache. A really bad headache. Aspirin is useless, so I drink.”
That’s so meta it’s kind of scary.
1. What am I working on?
3.25 things at the moment. I’m almost finished with my book for romance writers (this is the .25 thing). It covers how to format a manuscript, deal with submissions and editors and, most of all, navigate social media.
I’m also still working on the rock start contemporary and I love it. (NOTE: This will not last.) My hero is tough and sexy and adorable.
And there’s the alternate history steampunk, set in 19th century Galveston, for which I’ve developed a second burst of enthusiasm. I think it could be really good. Not really a romance, though — a steampunk with romantic elements.
And yes, I’m still working on Seth’s book. Having problems with the relationship between the heroine and the villain, though.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don’t know…it’s not as good? I mean shit, look at Viv Arend and Patricia Briggs and okay, I’ll stop self-flagellating now.
My werewolf books are lighter than a lot of series in the genre. Bad things happen, and the stakes are high, but the world is not dark and there’s a lot of humor.
My paranormal world is firmly contemporary–werewolves are a natural part of society, as are other shifters and the various species of fae. There are no female werewolves–that’s not unique, but it is unusual.
I don’t think the steampunk I’m working on will be strikingly original, as for instance Meljean Brook’s is, but Galveston Island itself will be as much a character as any of the people in the story, and I like that.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I have no idea, seriously. I don’t know how I get the ideas I get, and I don’t know why I imagine the characters I do. My books always start with characters–a person occurs to me, and it’s usually a person with an already-formed backstory. And when that character starts walking around and talking in my head, then I have to think of a story.
The idea of a non-werewolf girl who throws herself in front of a crazed werewolf to save the live of a child she loves came to me when I was first reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I think.
The character of a 30-something female fiddle player who’s been playing professionally since she was a teenager (she’s the heroine of my rock star romance) came to me years ago, but I have no idea where she came from. Recently I realized that Jason Isbell’s wife, Amanda Shires, fits the profile perfectly–she joined a storied country/Western swing band, and had a recording contract, when she was fifteen or sixteen. I’d love to ask her some questions about her experiences but I have no idea how to go about that.
The steampunk I’m working on is different – the character of Galveston Island came first. I love that place, and it has a fascinating history. If not for the hurricane of 1900, it might never have been eclipsed by Houston. In its heyday it was the equal of New Orleans for vice and pleasure, and of Wall Street for finance and corruption. I was driving down Seawall Boulevard one day and I passed the remains of the pier where the Balinese Club once stood (the pier was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008) and I started thinking “what if?” And the more I thought “what if?” the more grandiose I got, until it was “what if Vienna fell to the Ottomans in 1683? What if the Ottoman threat to western Europe was so great and so imminent that the War of the Spanish Succession never happened and the thrones of France and Spain were united? And there was no American Revolution? And what if Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, when he escaped from Galveston Island after being shipwrecked in 1528, turned east in Mexico instead of west, finding his way back to Spanish civilization years earlier, and so the Spanish colonized Galveston in the seventeenth century?” And I just went on from there. As you do.
Have I mentioned I’m a history dork? Not just a history geek – a history dork.
4. How does your writing process work?
Slowly, with many false starts and constant distractions. My daughter takes medication for ADD and she was so happy, and so grateful, when she got it. It made a world of difference for her in school, both in her grades and also just in her self-confidence and stress levels. As she put it, “Now I don’t have to daydream if I don’t want to.”
I’ve been daydreaming against my will since I was at least her age and I’d really like to stop. (Doing it involuntarily, I mean.) I’m seriously considering getting tested.
Anyway. I come up with an idea, it germinates for a while, then I start writing it down. I am a plotter; despite my ADD, I cannot pants. I can’t sit down and just start writing with no idea what’s going to happen. I’m far too OCD (yes, along with the ADD). I have to plan. I have to have a list, a map, directions. I don’t have to follow the map exactly – I can alter the course. But I have to start with at least a partial plot.
One last thing about plot: I was observing a Twitter convo between Stacy Gail and Jody Griffin – they were discussing pantsing and plotting and process. Stacy said that her plots unspool in her head like movies; she writes in scenes. Jody was gobsmacked by that – she just writes as it comes to her.
I recall reading an interview with a romance author many, many, many years ago — like, pre-Internet days, when I was in high school or college. (This, by the way, is how my mind works. I remember details of an article I read 30 years ago but I’ll probably forget to cancel Diva’s dermatology appointment in the morning.) The author talked about how she’d had what she called “mind movies” for years — stories she made up seemingly without trying. So she started writing them down.
I recall feeling SO FREAKING RELIEVED that someone else did this; I’d done it since I was a toddler and I’d always been afraid something was wrong with me. You could argue, I guess, that something is wrong with me — mind movies probably aren’t normal.
Something else I recall from that same interview: The author’s husband was quoted as saying “Have you ever smelled a writer on deadline?”
That could be every author’s tagline.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to swing over to (SOMEONE ELSE’S BLOG I DON’T KNOW WHO BECAUSE I FORGOT TO INVITE ANYONE BUT I HAVE NOW AND I’LL UPDATE THIS POST WHEN I HEAR BACK FROM THEM) next Monday for the next installment!