Thank you, super-nice and extremely talented Sonali Dev, for inviting me to participate in the My Writing Process blog tour! I really enjoyed reading about Sonali’s simple chaos process, probably because I can relate so well! I will address why I relate so well when I get to Question 4, below…
What am I working on?
As is usual for me, I am working on a number of different projects at once. I am in the final stages of preparing to release my first novel, Hijacked, on June 2. It will be available on Amazon in both Kindle and print formats. (!!!) Meanwhile, I am doing a quick run-through of my third novel, Opal’s Jubilee, before I send it to my editor, Pam Berehulke of Bulletproof Editing. Then there will be the flurry of technical work to get both that and my second novel, Unholy Bonds, ready for release over the next few weeks.
In terms of new work, I’m working on a Christmas novella for late fall release—and then it’ll be time for a new novel. Ideas are still rolling around in my head for that one. Can’t wait. I love the writing; not quite so much the (very necessary) technical end, so it will be fun to get back to the creative process!
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hmm. My stories have suspense and romance and relationships and twists, and, like Sonali’s books, they tackle difficult issues. What makes mine different? I think it comes down to voice. Each author takes their characters on a unique journey; the unique journey is informed by who the author has become over their own lifetime. Therefore, my characters and their situations tend to be contemplatives thrown into dire situations which challenge everything they believe about themselves. While my books do not fall into the Inspirational genre, the characters do wrestle with their assumptions regarding God. You’ve probably figured out by now that you won’t be reading hot sex scenes in my books—but the stories are gripping and poignant, and don’t always go where you expect.
Why do I write what I do?
This is both the easiest and most difficult question to answer. Like Stephen King, I write to get the nightmares out of my head. Now, my nightmares are much different than his; ergo, my books are not horror novels! But the idea is the same. I can allow my characters to be what I am not, and am inspired by them. They surprise me when I put them into situations that would steal my breath. They display courage that I want to appropriate for myself. They struggle, make mistakes, and eventually earn a happy ending. Life doesn’t always provide those, so if I can write one, then maybe I can transform reality for both myself and the reader, if only for the moment. I’ve been touched and encouraged and uplifted by so many authors over the years, and in unexpected genres. I hope I can do the same for readers.
How does your writing process work?
This where I identify most with Sonali! Chaos! Yes. All of my books begin with a character who springs pretty much fully formed into my mind. Hijacked was born as I preflighted Cessnas for early morning traffic flights–and wondered what if…? For being in the middle of the city, the airport is a very lonely place at oh-dark-thirty. Once the notion took root, it wouldn’t let go. Unholy Bonds sprouted from articles I read about South Africa under Nelson Mandela and the process of Restorative Justice. I was fascinated. What if…? Opal’s Jubilee blossomed from the controversial pardons or paroles granted by then-Governor Ernie Fletcher of several women in Kentucky who had killed their abusers. But what if…?
From there, I begin writing and discover more about the characters and their circumstances. I write linearly, which means that while I often know where I’m going, I may not know how to get there. It would likely be a lot easier if I could write the scene where I intend to go, then fill in, but my brain balks at the notion. This is the source of whatever writer’s block I encounter. I am unable to create a detailed outline, but happened upon a class called The Hero’s Journey for Heroines, taught by Laurie Schnebly Campbell and based on The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock. This process has helped me create a loose outline that keeps me on track yet allows for creative freedom.
Mostly I sit at the computer and type, mutter under my breath, delete, then type something else until I get it sorta right. It looks boring from the outside, but I am so focused that I often zone out and notice very little about my surroundings. If I get stuck, the best thing for me is to go outside and do something physical. When do I write? Any time of the day or night in snatches of five minutes to hours (when I’m lucky). And where? Anywhere. Literally. Thank God I don’t need silence. I do, however, need to avoid conversation. I cannot switch those gears quickly, which drives my husband to distraction.
Since writing is solitary yet community-based, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my local writing cheerleaders: Louisville Romance Writers, and critique partners Sandy Loyd and Caroline Fyffe. They, along with many other writing friends, keep me going when I get discouraged.
Who’s up next week on the My Writing Process blog tour?
Contemporary romance writers Jacqueline Floyd and Nan Dixon, both of whom I met last year as co-finalists in Romance Writers of America’s® 2013 Golden Heart® contest. Both are wonderful people, close to publication, and great fun! Also, Erin McCole-Cupp, a fellow member of Catholic Writers Guild, who just released Don’t You Forget About Me, a cozy mystery featuring a tomato-pie-loving heroine. Please be sure to visit them next Monday, June 2!
Again, thanks, Sonali, for the chance to share in the My Writing Process blog tour!