SDMSo ... there is this "blog tour" game going around the Internet (#Mywritingprocess). The way it works is that authors blog about their writing process and then tag someone else to do the same. I was tagged by two of my favorite people, Baxter Trautman and Marianne K. Martin. (In full disclosure, Baxter asked about a month ago, right at the same time the semester went into overdrive and I spent a fair amount of time out of town. The guilt was eating away at me and then Marianne tagged me this week. REDEMPTION!!) Both of these women are super talented and either have a new book out or have one about to be released. Baxter’s The River Within was just released by Bedazzled Ink (check out her website at http://baxterclare.com) and Marianne’s prequel to Under the Witness Tree, Tangled Roots, is due out in October 2014 (http://mariannekmartin.webs.com). Having read all three, I can only encourage you to get copies as soon as you’re finished reading this blog.

That said, let my small "contribution" to the tour begin.

 

1. What am I working on?

I am working on a couple of projects. I am writing The Addendum – a companion piece to my latest novel, Nudge. Nudge is the story of an advertising executive commissioned by God to write and market a single, universal supplement that’s applicable to all of the world’s religious texts. The Addendum will be the actual supplement and will be available in July 2014. I am also working on a new lesbian fiction novel called All That We Lack, which will be available in December 2014. ATWL starts with a bus crash between New York and Boston and then works backward a day, six months, a year and two years, to show the interconnections of a funeral director from Seymour, Indiana, an insurance risk analyst from Chicago, a 10-year-old boy from Philadelphia, and a pain killer-addicted paramedic from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

2. How does my work differ from others in the same genre?

Maybe the better question is, “How do each of my novels differ from each other?” And I guess the answer is ... quite a lot. I tend to like to write stories that deal with social issues. Letters Never Sent, for example,dealt with the cultural constructs of gender roles and societal expectations for women in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Nudge examined the universality of religious belief and the role that spirituality (or lack thereof) plays in how we live our lives.

3. Why do I write what I do?

VERY good question ... and one that I’m not sure I know how to answer. What’s the saying – “We write what we know”? As someone who teaches anthropology, I am lucky to have a very broad view of culture and cultural constructs. I love reading (and teaching) about how other cultures organize themselves and the rules of their societies. It’s fascinating. And, I think it informs my writing because to fully understand why a culture (and society) is the way it is, you have to really examine it holistically. You have to look at the interplay of all of the parts: the politics, economics, belief systems, marriage rules and gender roles. And the interesting thing about all of these cultural universals, is that they’re human-designed constructs – constructs that change over time. That makes for textured and complex stories with characters who have to grow and adapt.

My other goal with my writing is to bring lesbians into the mainstream. We’re living in an exciting time with “alternative” lifestyles becoming more accepted. I love taking experiences that people think make them different (like religion or sexual preference) and showing how, at the core, the associated emotions and motivations are really universal.

4. How does my writing process work?

My writing process is actually fairly straightforward. I begin by making notes on the general plot. I sketch out a timeline highlighting the “big” events. Then I write character sketches of the main characters. I include all sorts of things about them that don’t make it into the novel, but inform some of their decisions – their likes, dislikes, favorite food, etc.

Next, I tackle the research. Letters Never Sent, for example,had a lot of detail from the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s. I had to get that right – clothing styles, street names in Chicago, trolley and train routes. The list goes on and on. I use this information to flesh out the character sketches and then add to the timeline (if applicable). Then, I create a detailed list of who has interactions with whom (so I can keep my facts straight as I write).

Only once all of that is finished do I sit down and begin to write.

Unlike some authors, for me, writing is work. There is no muse. It’s simply a case of sitting down and cranking out the words. Some days I’m better at it than others. Generally, I have a couple of cups of coffee and write first thing. My goal is between 1,500 and 2,000 words a day. I don’t quit until I have that. The next morning, I read what I wrote the previous day (to get back into the story), do an edit of the copy and then start on that day’s work.

I write sequentially and reference my notes and timeline frequently. Once I’m done with the first draft, I immediately read and edit it. That can take a couple of weeks. Next, I have a few trusted, brutally honest friends/colleagues read it and weigh in on what works, what doesn’t and what, if any, inconsistencies there are in the plot. Using their feedback, I fix what doesn’t work, make corrections and read it again. I do a final edit before sending it back out to the same group for another round of corrections or changes. Only then do I send it to Casey at Bedazzled Ink where the whole editing process starts all over again.

So ... that’s it. That’s all I know.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and a huge thank you to Baxter and Marianne. Both have serious writing chops and I’m honored that they thought to include me in this game. I now pass the baton to three other writers.

The first, Clare Ashton, happens to live on the other side of the pond. Her previous novels include Pennance and Goldie winner After Mrs. Hamilton. Her latest, That Certain Something was just released yesterday. You can find out more about her work at: http://rclareashton.wordpress.com.

My second tag is Cindy Rizzo. Her first novel, Exception to the Rule has been shortlisted for a Goldie in the category of Debut Novel and she’s currently at work on her second novel. Her blog can be found at: www.cindyrizzo.wordpress.com.

Finally, I’m also tapping RJ Samuel. She is the author of the novels Heart Stopper, Falling Colours and Casting Shadows. Her latest, A Place Somewhere, was released in March. Check out her work at: http://www.rjsamuel.com.