Tag Archives: writing process

My Work In Progress

The legal pad I started the story on with Post-Its for quick character reference.

The legal pad I started the story on with Post-Its for quick character reference.

Why am I doing the Writing Process Blog Tour again? Because my friend Sonya Craig tagged me to do it and I like to think I’m a good friend. I met Sonya through a mutual friend on Twitter. He included me in a #FollowFriday tweet and she followed me, no questions asked and tweeted me that she followed me because our friend told her to. I was sold. Sonya writes sci-fi, tweets about Fat Cat, and advocates for proper mental health care. A woman after my own heart because I love sci-fi, cats, and access to needed mental health services while breaking down the stigma.

What are you currently writing?

Since finishing Saving Grace and sending it off to beta readers, I returned to Family Ties, a story I started fifteen years ago and finally finished last year. I’ve spent the last year tweaking it to the point where I’m happy with what I have and also couldn’t bear to look at it anymore, shoving it into my first reader’s hands for now.

Sara Parker spent the first fourteen years of her life without friends, living by strict rules, and keeping secrets. Arissa Jericho moves in across the street and befriends Sara, to the dismay of Sara’s parents. The first day of high school, the girls meet Jason Waters. Now Sara has two friends and learns why her parents didn’t allow her to have friends in the first place. When you keep everyone at a distance, no one has to know a thing. Sara is convinced she will lose her friends if her secrets ever come to light. When Arissa and Jason stand by her instead of leaving her, Sara learns the true meaning of family, bravery, and love. She accidentally reveals her last secret when she gets too comfortable, setting off a series of events out of everyone’s control, starting with ripping Sara away from the only stability she’s known.

My character brainstorming and how each one relates to Sara.

My character brainstorming and how each one relates to Sara.

What makes your work different?

It’s not often you read a general fiction book with teenagers as the main characters. I originally meant for this to be general fiction. Then I decided to go in the direction of Young Adult. However, the first third of the book is unnerving and disturbing and I don’t think it would do well in the Young Adult genre unless I tone it down, which I will not do. So now I’m back to general fiction and I feel more comfortable with that decision. Sara has a dark and discomfiting story. One that people may shy from. It is a completely fictional story, but it is also real. There are young people just like Sara in the real world needing a way out and supportive people to help them.

Why do you write what you do?

I used to work in the mental health field. When I started Family Ties, I was doing direct care work with teenage boys in a psychiatric residential treatment facility. I told myself when I started at the agency I would leave work at work, but doing that is easier said than done. The boys I worked with came to us from all over the state, each with their own story no less horrifying than the next. I’ve always found writing to be therapeutic and Family Ties was my way of dealing with the stress of work. There is a piece of each of those boys in Sara. A thought. A glance. A fear. A hope. A smile. An act of bravery. A piece of resilience. In time, Family Ties became just as much for the boys as it was for me. Even if I told myself I was okay if I never published it, I realized I needed to for the boys and every other child like them.

Editing a print copy because I find more mistakes and it's easier on my eyes when Sjogren's Syndrome symptoms are bad.

Editing a print copy because I find more mistakes and it’s easier on my eyes when Sjogren’s Syndrome symptoms are bad.

How does your writing process work?

The way I wrote the bulk of Family Ties was much different from Saving Grace. I started with brainstorming my characters and their personalities on a legal pad. I had an idea of how I wanted it to end, which gave me my working title – Lily. Then came the writing…on the same legal pad…while listening to Goo Goo Dolls’ Dizzy Up The Girl CD on repeat. More specifically, “Acoustic #3”. This was before mp3 players and iTunes were around. I listened to the CD so much, it ruined it. Luckily, Chaz had a backup of it. I wrote in whatever free time I found, which wasn’t much. By the time I was doing case management at the agency, I was on-call 24/7 for my in-home clients which meant a lot of crisis calls. Most of them requiring me to drop what I was doing and drive out to the home. Yes, including turning the burners off the stove while cooking dinner. There were times where after writing a scene I had to walk away from it because it was so emotional I found myself in tears. Not just take a break and do something for an hour. Set it aside completely. Sometimes for months at a time. I finally came back to it last year without needing to set it aside because of the emotions and used the same process I did with Saving Grace.

I’m tagging two friends of mine, Johnna Perry and Theresa Hernandez. I met Johnna in person two years ago at a retreat hosted by a mutual friend and fellow gluten-free blogger. We both knew of each other but didn’t know each other, as often happens in the blogospher. After three days we were fast friends and we share giggles a lot with each other through Facebook, Twitter, texts, emails, and in person. We both love bourbon and will brainstorm recipe ideas (many of them containing bourbon) while we’re drinking (bourbon) together. She’s just one of the friends who convinced me to read Fifty Shades of Grey (a book I picked up off the shelf to see what the hubbub was about and promptly put it back) and I think I’ve more than returned that favor. And yes, it took several friends to convince me I should read it. I’m hoping she’ll share a bit of the cookbook she plans on doing. Theresa and I connected through our gluten-free blogs years ago then fell out of touch when she let her gluten-free blog (she had some really yummy recipes). We re-connected through Twitter recently and our writing. It’s been fun talking to her about subjects other than recipes. Theresa writes in the Young Adult genre and posts lots of book cover reveals, excerpt teasers, and reviews for other authors on her blog. So many books to read, so little time!


Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Uncategorized


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My Writing Process Blog Tour

EditingBrilliant author of the romantic comedies Prada & Prejudice, Love & Liability, and Mansfield Lark, Katie Oliver, tagged me in a global blog tour on the writing process. If you didn’t read her post, go check it out. I met Katie nearly two years ago on Twitter through a mutual real life friend of both of ours. I fell in love with her RomCom series on her blog that had me swooning, angry, and laughing in just one post.

What are you currently writing?

I have two manuscripts in progress right now. My focus is the second manuscript because it’s more malleable as it took me a month to write as opposed to fourteen years for the first. It’s the story of fiercely independent Lara Pendergast who grew up in the dangerous part of town and trusts only two people in her life, her cousin and her best friend. Loyal and protective Robin Embry plays bass in a punk rock band and works in a record store. He met Lara in college and they’ve been best friends since. Lara meets genteel Chase Ashton when he comes to the gallery she manages looking for a painting for his house. Chase and Lara are drawn to each other, but Chase has trust issues of his own. Problems arise when Robin declares his love for Lara just moments before Chase picks her up for a date. Troubles continue when the devious Alexandra DuBois, Chase’s ex, arrives on his doorstep with shocking news for him and nothing but trouble for Lara.

This started as flash fiction on my blog that I titled How Long Will I Love You? The story kept needling me before I posted it and took on a life of its own.

What makes your work different?

I have so many answers for this, but the major difference is I’m not a series writer. Series are not a bad thing. I grew up reading The Chronicles of Narnia and Nancy Drew. Some my favorite current series are The Mortal Instruments, The Lunar Chronicles, and the Patrick Bowers Files. I read all the Star Wars books, too. But, I also read a lot of stand-alone books. I like my beginning, middle, and end in one book. I want my readers to use their own imagination to come up with their own ideas of what happens next.

Why do you write what you do?

I like the journey of one or more characters broken in some way. Lara thinks re-inventing her persona will push her away from her past, but she falls back into old habits when pushed to the edge by so many stressors at once. Chase falls hard for Lara, but the memories of Alexandra breaking his heart so callously holds him back. In my first manuscript, my main character is horribly abused by her family, which is carefully kept a secret until one day when her father loses control. Her journey of healing that brokenness is not only learning that not all families are like hers, but accepting that she’s not “damaged goods” as she’s been told repeatedly. I like the message that circumstances don’t dictate who you are. They become part of who you are, but you get to choose what you do.

What is your writing process?

I need three things when writing: dialogue, music, and candle light. Whatever fiction I’m writing, whether it’s novel, flash fiction, or serial fiction on the blog, always starts out with dialogue in my head. The current novel started with this line from Lara to Robin: “You don’t get to come in here right before my date and profess your love for me. You should’ve had the fucking balls to tell me before I got involved with Chase.” Once it is firm in my head, I sit down in my writing cave at the laptop or with a pen and notebook. I try to keep my writing hours to the daytime when I’m alone, but when I have that dialogue in my head for scene after scene I tend to write for as long as it takes to get it all out, even if it means walking away to fix dinner then returning to write until 2a.m. This happened a lot the week of New Year’s when I was working on the first draft and I had word counts of six thousand to ten thousand each day that week. When I start a new story I find an album that fits my plot and put that on repeat. Once I have a good chunk of the story together, I compile a playlist of different music that fits my characters and listen to that. Music is an absolute necessity for me. I can write without it, but my writing flows better with it. I started off listening to Ellie Goulding on repeat then built up my playlist for Chase & Lara. Candlelight helps me as much as music does for some reason. It’s a habit that started in college. My dorm-mates knew I was in a serious zone if my door was open and a candle was burning. They called it The Light of Knowledge. It may not be a real need, but sometimes when I’m struggling and realize I didn’t light a candle, the lighting of one changes the game.

You know how when you’re blocked and you know it’s YOU that’s blocking yourself? I felt that a lot while working on this and realized the first time it happened that I needed to confront it head on. Any time I felt stuck or blocked I stared at the screen and thought to myself, what would make my mother squirm? Then I wrote the first thing that came to my head. It worked like a charm every single time.

I kept notes in a notebook on my characters because their attire is a big part of their character and as it grew, I transferred it to another notebook with pictures from magazines of clothing styles for each character, as well as pictures of who I think matches each character. It’s almost like an art journal for my book. I even drew floor plans for Lara’s apartment and Chase’s house.

Next stop on the global blog hop, talented writers, Callie Armstrong and Kimberly S. Belle. Look for their posts next week Monday, April 7th.

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized


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