Peer Pressure: It doesn't end in high school, sorry!
I’m so lucky to be surrounded by authors who love their craft and share the secrets and tips they’ve learned along the way. CLStegall of Dark Red Press and C.A. Szarek are a couple of these. They also understand this whole concept of peer pressure. The two of them ganged up on me about blogging (though I don’t think they planned it!). Now I get to share my writing process with you and I hope the heck it makes since. My mind is usually scattered and scary. Here goes!
What Am I Working On?
I’ve recently discovered that I am slightly masochistic when it comes to my writing. Don’t fear, I’ve taken steps towards repentance and healing. At any given point I have three projects going at one time. I discovered that my attention divided is not a good thing. It’s best if I take a page from the male gender’s playbook and have a one track mind. My current WIP is the second book in The Divine Chronicles, Divine Judgment. I’ve had issues with this story because all the characters wanted to be the stars and they would not shut up. The couple that won out are adorable and I cannot wait to see what people think about them—it’s not who you think!!!
The other project, currently with my editor, is a shorter novel called The Roles We Play. It’s a contemporary romance about a reclusive photographer and an A-list movie star that find themselves thrown together thanks to a communication problem most people call a lie. This is my first romantic comedy and I’m super excited to share this story with you soon.
My reward for publishing these two stories is getting to focus on the second book in my Blake Pride Series. Amilynn is one of my favorite characters and I can’t wait to get into her head again. It’s always a party!
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
99% of my tales feature strong women. Most readers have read that book where you think, “This chick is too stupid to exist”. Heaven knows I have. So I try to make my ladies independent and able to stand on their own two feet in the hopes that it will encourage my readers to do so. It’s not that I don’t believe in depending on the hero to ride up on a white horse and save the day, that’s the best part! However, I like seeing women that might not need a knight, but they realize how great it is to have one.
Why do I write what I write?
Easiest answer thus far: I’M A TOTAL SAP!!!!! I’m the chick who cries at all the movies, who can’t resist a love story no matter how cheesy it is, and who swooned at that moment in Pitch Perfect when Jesse stands in awe and simply whispers “Wow” after Beca does the Cups song. (Thank you Skylar Astin, you set the bar.)
Not only do I get to create these magical moments as a writer—living them out in my head, falling in love over and over again with each new book—but I also get to kill people and get away with it! I’m going to let you in on a little secret: being a writer is incredible because while I’m writing a story I get to be these people, not a housewife, mother of three, maid with a serious love-hate relationship for the white noise of my vacuum cleaner. I’m Avery fighting off Salina beside Thracian warriors and setting people on fire. I’m Vivian, dancing on stage and running wild in tiger form. These people invade my mind and take me away from dirty diapers and spilled grape juice. Escape: it’s why we read—it’s why I write.
How does my writing process work?
Process? I do not know this you word you speak of. What is a process? Kidding.
(First and foremost, everything I do begins with peppermint mocha and Spotify playlists. Amen.)
I do have a process, it’s called organized chaos with binge writing. When an idea hits me, it hits hard. As in, wake up from a powerful dream and spend the next 72 hours ignoring kids, husband, housework, bills, Facebook, food, bathroom breaks, sleep, and television. I usually knock out 10-15k words and have a very clear idea of where this story is heading and how it needs to get there. Then, I slowly step away from the smoking computer. I nurse the story for weeks after that, creating that first draft.
If a binge occurs in the middle of another project, I force myself to press pause long enough to nurse the other project to completion first. I have to. Otherwise I would have fifteen stories going at once and my Thracian warriors would be going to the Alpha house and having tea with a character loosely based on Skylar Astin- just sayin’.
My reward for finishing one book, is to work on another.
Plotting: dear Lord in Heaven, I hate this word. Not as much as I hate synopsis, blurb or editing, but I do have a major dislike for it. Unfortunately, plotting—especially in a series—is a must. You cannot run around naked and afraid in the writing world. It drives readers nuts! I have tried sticky notes, I have tried outlines, I have done scene-by-scene detailed charts. There is currently a 4’X6’ dry-erase board behind my desk that sees a bit of action every now and then because I’m a visual person. What works best for me is old fashion pen and paper notes. I’m the binder queen. For each project I create a binder to hold character pictures, plot notes, ideas off those darn sticky notes, and an outline that I update after each chapter is finished. Going into a story, I know points A and Z. Where the characters begin and where they need to be at the end of the madness. Everything in between is dictated to me by the voices in my head. The characters guide me and I try to give them free reign of my brain. They often surprise me, which is awesome. Guess what? Jerry was originally a one-line character, not a psycho. And the ending of Divine Destiny: I did not see that coming! That was not how I plotted, yet I loved it.
The best advice I can give on writing processes: try everything, if it gives you hives and makes you crawl into the fetal position—ignore it! If you are obsessively drawn to pen and paper notepads—do it! The only wrong process is the one you never try or implement.
Whew! Done! Now, next week you get to learn from some other authors who might not be as scatter brained as I am. I need sleep!
Check them out on April 7th!
Chris Cox went from climbing the corporate ladder as an engineer to writing the Bayou Boys short stories.
Olivia Hardin is another native Texas that dabbles in all sorts of exciting ventures as a self-proclaimed road scholar.