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The #mywritingprocess Blog Tour

ned

Ned Hickson

The only thing more fun than an email from Ned Hickson is an email from Ned Hickson inviting me to be part of a blog tour, specifically the #mywritingprocess Blog Tour. I’ve been following Ned ever since I began blogging myself–and don’t think he hasn’t been glaring over his shoulder at me the entire time, too–because his blog is one of the funniest I’ve ever read. The thing I’ve regretted the most about being so busy writing is not having enough time to spend reading my favorite bloggers, but I’m in the process of setting that to rights. I’m trying to visit Ned’s blog often, and you really should, too. I’m pretty sure we can all use more laughter in our lives these days, and Ned’s blog is guaranteed to provide some. Check it out. Follow it regularly. You’ll be glad you did. Thanks for inviting me to take part in this, Ned. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Ned’s Blog: Humor at the Speed of Life 

Ned’s Book: Humor at the Speed of Life

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Each person taking part in this blog has four questions to answer. The questions are all the same, but remarkably, the answers vary wildly. Okay, not remarkably at all, given the fact that each and every author participating varies pretty wildly, too, from genre to genre, and approach to approach. Here are my wildly varying thoughts, for what they’re worth.

1. What am I working on?

My second novel, Swamp Ghosts, just went live on amazon a week ago, in Kindle format, and since I’m self-published, I’m now busy formatting it for the print version, which should be available in another two weeks or so. In addition to planning my marketing strategy for Swamp Ghosts, I’m already starting on the sequel to my first book, Wake-Robin Ridge, and outlining a proposed sequel to Swamp Ghosts, as well. Tick-tock. I’m not getting any younger, here. Gotta write while I still remember what letters and words are!

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

I like to think I combine the elements of very dark suspense–sometimes including a bit of the paranormal–with the redemptive quality of a good love story. Of course, I also like to think I’m a sexy, 35-year-old babe in her prime, and that’s a baldfaced lie, so you should probably keep that in mind.

But I digress. Back to my books. My characters are often lost, while wanting desperately to be found, and their journeys are not always easy. Whether real, or other-wordly, you can usually count on someone from the Dark Side showing up to give them trouble, and often trouble of a very disturbing nature. It’s my goal to fill the darkest scenes with plenty of suspense and a few lashings of evil, but without graphic violence–in other words, you’ll get a pretty clear idea of how bad it is, but you won’t have to wade through the puddles of gore often found in today’s tales of murder. Plenty of fear, sans the nausea.

Surprisingly, perhaps, I approach love scenes the same way. No, not with fear OR nausea. Just that I want all the passion and emotion I can create, but again without the graphic details, which so often sound clinical and, to me, somewhat repetitive and voyeuristic. I’m not offended by books with those types of scenes, by any means, but that’s not what I’m interested in writing. I want to explore human emotion more than human anatomy.

3. Why do I write what I do?

For me, it’s definitely a case of  “write what you know,” and after seventy years, I like to think I know a thing or two about love and hate, pain and loss, innate kindness and soul-shriveling evil–and the extremes to which the human spirit will go to find meaning in a world that often seems to have none.

My goals aren’t really all that lofty, though. I’m not worried about creating something with serious redeeming social value, or in writing the Great American Novel. There are plenty of others out there tackling those weighty projects. Mostly, I just like telling love stories with believable characters readers will find themselves invested in. Sometimes, those characters get caught up in dangerous situations, and may have to walk a difficult and rocky path to find peace and redemption, but don’t worry. I’m a big fan of happy endings–if not in fiction, then where?–so they usually get there via one route or another. I’m also an incurable romantic, and believe absolutely that anything is possible when love is the power motivating us.

4. How does my writing process work?

In fits and starts all day long, with a ton of hard labor, and lots of repetitive stress syndrome from sitting twelve hours a day at my keyboard. As Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

I’m a “what-if” person. What if a frustrated librarian jumped up from her desk one day and screamed, “I’ve had it! I can’t spend another soul-sucking day in this building doing this thankless job!” What if she decided to move far away from her little home town, to her favorite part of the country? What if she ended up in a deserted cabin on the side of a mountain in North Carolina, and started writing her own stories? And what if there were an enigmatic man with a dark secret, living by himself on the very top of the mountain, across the road from her? When I reach that point in my what-if’s, I’m already writing, and sometimes the answers to those questions come to me as I go, in an organic manner. Other times, I think far enough ahead to make an outline of where the story is headed. I’m neither a “pantser” nor a “plotter,” but some weird hybrid of the two–a plantster?

I write in a completely silent room, the better to hear the voices in my head, as the characters tell me what they are going to do, and then wait patiently while I take it all down.

One thing I did learn the hard way is to keep a detailed calendar for every book, with a timeline of when each scene takes place. Otherwise, I find myself realizing I’ve just written something that doesn’t fit into the frame of what’s already been laid out. I’ve used up all the Saturdays before Christmas, say, and have nowhere left to put my next pre-Christmas scene. Ooops. I thought about adding an extra week to the month last time that happened, but I suspected my vigilant Beta readers weren’t going to buy it.

I also like to have a map in front of me, as well, where I can sketch my fictional town, to be sure I’m not plopping it down on something that’s already there. I sometimes put houses in place, and draw out property lines, roads, creeks, and anything that will factor into my story, so I avoid inconsistencies later. I connect these to real towns or landmarks while writing, so that I can anchor the fictional one in the real world. Characters from Swamp Ghosts live in the fictional town of Riverbend, Florida, but they often shop in the real towns of Sanford or Orlando, for instance, just to add some realism to readers in this area.

My research includes everything from looking up the history of local landmarks and events, to checking on legal matters to be sure I’m not having someone do something that’s not even allowed in a particular state or county. I don’t want to be called on that later by a reader who knows it couldn’t have actually happened that way. I’ve also been known to spend some time researching guns and weaponry, too, and even what happens to bodies under certain conditions. In point of fact, I needed to check out all of these things for Wake-Robin Ridge, just to be sure it rang true to readers, who can be very perceptive, and quick to let you know if you mess something up.

For Swamp Ghosts, I had a lot of my own personal experience to call upon, as I have canoed many a mile over the years on Florida rivers, and even led interpretive tours for Florida Audubon, back in the day. (And in the night. Moonlight canoe trips are a special kind of magic, believe me.) But in addition to knowledge gained during those years, and during my time as a docent at the Central Florida Zoo, I found I still had to double check facts on specific things. For instance, I wanted to be sure I was current with information regarding albino and leucistic populations of alligators and other reptiles, and any state laws concerning them.

You wouldn’t think you’d have to do much research to write a basic love story, but you’d be wrong about that. At least, you’d be wrong if you wanted your book to be mostly accurate in various regards, and not make you look like a laughing stock to readers who might know better.

Bio sheets on every character even minor ones, are critical. I list physical descriptions, personality traits, birthdays, age, background history, and any dates that will be mentioned in the story, such as prior weddings, deaths of  relatives, and so on. It all has to jibe later, because if you say a certain character is 25 years old in Chapter 2 and 24 years old in Chapter 15, someone will notice, and comment on the inconsistency. And trust me on this, you will forget what you’ve said earlier, as you get more involved in later chapters. Play it safe, is my motto. Work it all out first so you have a quick and easy reference for those character details.

And the last, and most fun, thing I do is have a large inspiration board over my desk, where I pin photos of scenes, animals, vehicles, and people from my story. I like finding someone that fits the description of each of my main characters. It really does work as I’m writing, by giving me a concrete image to focus on when I’m creating a scene. And happily, since I write Romantic Suspense, my inspiration boards also give me an excuse to have pictures of good-looking men all over my desktop, without everyone accusing me of trying to relive my giddy teenage years! I just tell them it’s perfectly legit. After all, one can never be too inspired when writing love stories, right? *wink-wink, nudge-nudge*

~~~

And now to introduce the three authors I’ve invited to the dance.

cropped head shot

Anna Celeste Burke

Anna, in her own words:

Life is an extravaganza! Figuring out how to hang tough and make the most of the wild ride is the challenge. On my way to Oahu to join the rock musician and high school drop-out I had married in Tijuana, I was nabbed as a runaway. Eventually the police let me go, but the rock band broke up. Our next stop: Disney World, where we trained to be chefs. More education landed us in academia at The Ohio State University. For decades I researched, wrote, and spoke about a number of gloriously nerdy topics. Retired now, I’m still married to the same sweet guy and live with him near Palm Springs, California. The Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series is set here in the Sonoran Desert, a spectacular place to ponder life’s mysteries while relishing the delights of the desert resort cities.

The Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Series

A Dead Husband

A Dead Sister

8d444a731bd80ac1d18837.L._V398680760_

 Fair Play by Gunnar A. Lawrence

After years of ghostwriting thrillers, conspiracy novels and mystery books, Gunnar Angel Lawrence has published his second thriller. He is the author of Fair Play and the sequel The Perfect Day. He is a native Floridian with a love for writing thrillers, mysteries and action stories with fast pacing and a unique twist. He lives in Saint Cloud, Florida with his dogs and is currently single. Most of his time is spent working on the sequel to The Perfect Day which is entitled The Consortium.

Fair Play

The Perfect Day

https://www.facebook.com/gunnarangel.lawrence
https://twitter.com/GunnarALawrence
http://gunnarangellawrence.blogspot.com/

shiftless

Shiftless by  Aimee Easterling

Aimee Easterling has been spoiled by four dogs, has spoiled six cats, and has largely been ignored by two guinea pigs, four turtles, and a slew of fish during her thirty-some year life. Studying biology and working as a naturalist have both informed her writing, but she’s quite willing to let reality slide in favor of a good story. When not writing, she loves to read and always keeps books by Robin McKinley, Patricia Briggs, and Elizabeth Peters on her shelf. She is currently hard at work writing the sequel to Shiftless, her first werewolf novel.

Aimee Easterling 

Shiftless

~~~

I  hope you have enjoyed reading a bit about my approach to writing, and meeting some new authors and bloggers. I’ve had a great time sharing with you all.

 

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30 thoughts on “The #mywritingprocess Blog Tour

  1. All sounds good.

    Like

    • Good Morning, Felix! Glad you took the time to read it, mi amigo. I know it’s long, but hopefully there were a couple of smiles in there for ya. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

  2. Great answers to the hop 🙂

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  3. Marcia, Your writing process is so much better than mine, which as I mentioned involves drinking beers until I “feel creative” or pass out. Regardless, thank you for the kind words, for taking the time to sharing your insights, and for introducing us to three terrific writers.

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    • I’d try your method, Ned, if drinking beers weren’t more likely to make me lose my dinner than create a masterpiece. Or lunch. Or breakfast. You write rather EARLY in the day, as I recall. 😀 I know this post is a bit…long. (Wordy? Overdone?) But it was 3:00am, and I was taking it rather seriously, on behalf of any newbie writers who might read it. Since I’m one, myself, these are all issues I am still working on. And I have appreciated reading everyone else’s tips, too, checking for ideas I can borrow for myself. As I struggle with trying to learn a lifetime’s worth of skills in a limited span of viable writing years, your method sounds better and better. Though I’d probably have to trade the beer for vodka. If I’m going to drink, I’m going to get serious about it. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by, Young Ned. Have I told you lately that you ROCK?

      Like

  4. Marcia, I really enjoyed reading about your writing process. Even in this your wonderful sense of humor and adventurous spirit shines through. I love ‘plantster’. Sounds like how I write…

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

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    • Hi, Wendy! So nice to see you here. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I know it’s long, but I did want to give some ideas to my fellow newbie writers out there, so I included a lot of stuff I wish I had known a year ago. Especially the maps, bios, and calendars. I’m glad you enjoy my sense of humor. I figure there are only two ways you can approach life…smiling or frowning. Smiling is better.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Have a great day, Wendy, and keep those beautiful and inspiring poems coming! And remember…we plantsters have to stick together! 🙂

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  5. Marcia, we all can benefit from your writing process. It provides us with a sense of how what we write connects us to the world.

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    • Hi, Sezoni! So nice to see you here today. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me. Now that I’m gaining back a little bit of control over my time, I hope to be able to check in on my blogging and Facebook friends more often, you included. You had some interviews last week I really wanted to be there for, but I had scheduling issues. However, next time…. 🙂 Have a great day!

      Like

  6. burke59 on said:

    Sure do get the ‘ain’t gettin’ any younger part’–on the other hand 60 is the new 40 or 30 is the new 10 or something like that. That means, you and me, we’re in midlife. Arghhh! Do I have to do that whole crisis thing again? Hey, at least you’ve figured out what you want to be when you grow up. A writer, and a damned good one. Uh oh, guess this won’t air in Russia since Putin is on a rant about swearing…sorry ’bout that! Cheers! Celeste

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    • Putin, schmutin! You’re doing fine here in the U. S. of A., and that’s good enough for me. Yeah, Mark told me 60 was the new 20, so I figure I’m just 30 by that formula. We’ll be writing for years and years, until we fall face down into our pablum. (Wonder how many still remember THAT?) Yeah, this time, though, we should skip the Middle Age Crisis bit, and go straight to incipient senility. Oh, wait. That’s not sounding so good, either. 🙂 Good to see you here, Celeste, and I can’t wait to read your tour post next week.

      Like

  7. anna burke on said:

    Great post, am truly buried…heading to New York next week. I’m hoping to dig my way out over the week end. Okay, so I’m lying through my teeth. I’m planning to post my blog Monday if all goes well.

    Take care! Celeste

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  8. “What if” is the best way to start a story! You can get so many ideas from asking that question. 🙂

    Like

    • So far, it has worked for me, Caitlin. All two times. And I’m using it for both of my WIP’s. (Yes, I said both. I can’t help myself. I don’t want to stay away from Wake-Robin Ridge any longer, and I can’t bear to leave Riverbend, either. *sigh* I’m really cruising for long-term housing in the looney bin!) Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be talking to you really soon about what I’ve got in mind for WRR2. Again. 🙂

      Like

  9. Well done BFF! Although, I almost tossed my coffee when I switched on my monitor and found Ned’s giant mug staring back at me!

    And, you were right about how different we all work. You have a tres’ cool process. I am in awe of fiction writers because there is so much genuine creativity involved, which has never been that easy for me, hence the majority of my stuff being opinions and recall.

    I also LOVE all the factual research you do. That has got to be a ton of fun! I get a kick out of actually doing research of a kind too. I am insane about genealogy for one. Anyway, I really enjoy seeing that kind of detail in a story. It adds a certain richness that’s like the perfect dessert after dinner.

    Thanks also for referrals. They look like a great group to check out.

    Cheers to you Marcia!

    Like

    • Hi, BW! Look how often we’re chatting these days, and we only just “met.” Remarkable, eh? Thanks so much for stopping by, and taking the time (what, an hour and a half, probably?) to read this tome. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, I like research, too, or I’d probably forget any plot lines that required it of me. I’m the kind of person who looks up one word in the dictionary, and ends up reading the entire page. (Tricky, now that the page is a never-ending, perpetual scroll).

      I love books that 1) make me care about the characters, preferably enough so that I worry about them for days after finishing the book, and 2) teach me something new. It can be what life is like in a small Irish village, or how to fight a fire-breathing dragon and win. Just bring me characters I love and show me how they live, letting me learn something new along the way, and I’m happy.

      Cheers back atcha! So nice to make your bloggy acquaintance. Looking forward to getting to know you better. 😀

      Like

  10. Very interesting, I look forward to reading about the other authors too. You gave me some great ideas to organize my writing this summer. I may yet be ready for NaNoWrMo this year! Congratulations on your success – your loyal readers me included look forward to more of your books.

    Like

    • Wait? I have LOYAL READERS??? Woohoo! Ha. Okay, I know I do have some, for sure, but I hope they multiply like coat hangers left alone in a closet too long! 🙂 Thanks, Patty, and I’m really glad some of my methods resonated with you. I wish I had known about the map, bios, and stuff when I started out last year. It would have made a lot of things easier, so that’s why I wanted to share that info, even though it made the post longer, and it’s probably stuff old pros have always done. I was hoping there would be a few folks who would glean some tips they could use. Yes, do read everyone. It’s so much fun, and it’s very comforting to realize there’s no ONE way to do this. You take ideas from here and there, and you make them work for you.

      Glad you stopped by. Thanks for taking the time to comment, too. Have a great weekend, Patty.

      Like

  11. It’s a lot of work to write the way in which Marcia writes; researching to the point of exacting–it’s like splitting hairs. And it’s exhausting. The keenness and discernment she employs in her research probably creates discrimination–in loads–until she gets it right. I’ve done this with projects having nothing to do with my published work: WAKE ME NOTS. So I know a little about this. It’s HARD work! You have to love it to do it. It’s a sacrifice to your writing and is the only way you can turn out novels like Marcia’s. Well done!

    Thanks Marcia. I’m looking forward to reading Swamp Ghost.

    Like

    • Thanks, Brenda! Yes, it’s work, but I don’t quite do it to the point of being able to get a master’s degree in any one topic, honest. I just google what I need…like what the laws are for burying people on private property in a certain state, or what is required to get a permit to house venomous snakes privately. Things like that. I’m not working on a dissertation, but I don’t want to put something out there that will make a reader go, “Preposterous. That’s not how it works.” So I’d rather spend a little while checking my facts, first.

      And the map is partly because I have no sense of direction at all, and unless I have a reference as to where I’ve placed a cabin, for instance, I won’t know whether the nearest town (some of which are real) is north or south of it. Or ten miles away, as opposed to 50. So, again, a little time spent laying things out will keep me from making serious continuity errors.

      Other than that, I just write what I’m feeling, and what I want the reader to feel, as well. Hope you will enjoy Swamp Ghosts, btw. I had a wonderful time writing that one. And once I figured out where Riverbend fit on the map, I didn’t have to do a lot of other research, except on those reptile laws. For most of the natural history of the area, I just needed to draw on my own experience.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. My email is still out of commission, so you can only reach me through my blogs, Twitter, or Facebook right now. *sigh* This is taking FOREVER, and I’m not convinced it will be fixed even when it’s done downloading all 23,000 emails that are still left. I’m afraid it’s going to start over from the top. 😦 Bear with me if I don’t get back to you on something.

      Like

  12. What a great post, and I’ll be sure to check out Ned’s blog too. Wishing you everything that’s good…

    Like

    • Thanks, AndShe. So glad you enjoyed it. Yes, Ned’s blog is a MUST read for me, and I think you’d like it, too. Also, be sure to check on the blog tour posts for my three authors at the end. They will each be posting their thoughts on their own writing processes some time next week. Should be fun to see how they go about it all, too. So glad to see you today!

      Like

  13. nicki905 on said:

    You are so funny! I really enjoyed reading about your process. You have such natural talent, and also a natural sense of organization. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into a book that reads effortlessly, and your books are perfect examples of that.

    Like

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