The Writing Process Blog Hop of 2014

I’ve been tagged by the amazing Alexandra Haughton, writing fiend and blogger extraordinaire (you should follow her blog), to tell you about my writing process. It is a blog hop and many ladies have already come before me, it is kind of an adult version of a chain letter. There are four questions, I answer them. It is pretty simple and yet not…because talking about yourself is never as fun as it sounds!

So, for better or worse, here I go!

What am I working on right now?

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Meow. Hehehehe. Ok, sometimes I am drunk college kid at heart.

Right now I’ve got the final words going into the first draft of my new action/adventure series, The Unspoken Game (see below). It will be a double release in May as a short story (The Mummy Maneuver) and short full-length novel (Art of Deception). (There may possibly be a spin-off super steamy romance serial from this as well).

I’m about to tackle the second draft on a fun, sexy short story set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is part of a four-author anthology out this November with the lovely and brilliant Audra North, Julia Kelly, and Alexandra Haughton. It’s fun because the stories all inter-connect. All the ladies are members of the same writing group on a retreat. All the guys (for the most part) are former frat brothers on a ski trip. There are sexy times and overlapping situations. I love it!

Also on the burners: drafting the plot for book three of the Storm Inside series—Greg Hamilton falls in love. It is messy and fun. Our smart-mouthed, rough around the edges, yet lovable Greg falls hard and it has been so much fun writing the woman who brings him down!

I’m writing my kids some children’s books.

And I’m writing flash fiction for a First Kiss blog hop happening in just a couple of weeks! So stay tuned for that. There are a lot of authors participating and it should be a blast to read all these stories!

There is also my sort-of writerly side jobs of First Draft and RAWWcon. You can read about them here. We also do silly things on video chat from time to time.

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How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I’ve been told my sex scenes make the reader feel like they’re actually having the sex. I’ve also been told I write emotion-driven characters. What this means to me is that my work is a little different from others in any genre I’m writing in because I don’t focus on the action or the description, I don’t even focus on the narration. I focus on the character. What are they feeling and why are they feeling it? My attempt in every book is to make the reader feel like they are becoming the character I write because to me, that is the very definition of being swept away by a story.

Do I actually accomplish this? I have no idea. I do know this: I’m not a rule follower. I use anatomically correct language, I hate euphemisms (I have a whole detailed philosophy on how this is part of female oppression), I swear a lot, and I write the plot in whatever way feels correct for telling my characters stories. Now, let me qualify this by also saying I’m a firm believer in knowing the rules before you break them. I don’t break the rules because I’m a sullen teenager or because I don’t know them. I break them carefully with conscious thought to what I am doing. I’m sure sometimes I will fail miserably (and that’s ok). Sometimes I’m a good little writer and follow all the rules. But I really, really like pushing myself and seeing what happens when I bend and break the norms.

Also, I write heroes who respect women—even the alpha dominant “all that is man” types respect their women. I honestly believe the truest show of strength in a man is that he is never, ever intimated by anyone—especially a sexy, confident, brilliant woman who knocks his socks off and brings him to his knees. And by that token, my women are dynamic, educated, flawed, confident, and often surprised by the love that happens into their lives.

Why do I write what I do?

That’s an interesting question because I’m not writing what I expected to, and I hear that from a lot of other writers. I’m not a huge romance fan. Now, don’t get me wrong—I love romance. I read the shit out of it, but I’m not a voracious romance reader. If someone were to ask me what I read, you’d probably hear romance third or fifth down on the list. Partially because I am super picky reader (in general, any genre) and I DNF any book that starts off with flat characters, too many cliches, or weak, mindless females. There are amazing, amazing books in romance, but there are a lot of bad romances and I was a victim, for a long time, of only finding the bad ones.

Let me back this up for a minute and explain how I got here. I am an anthropologist with a specialty in historic archaeology and an emphasis in GIS mapping. I’m a tech geek with a love of history and an unhealthy fascination with culture and how people work. I ate up every single aspect of my career of choice from cultural studies, to the human body and osteology, to linguistics, to digging in the dirt. It’s my shit.

But life happens.

I got married and had kids. I went from digs on tropical islands with plans to go spelunking and wreck diving, to sitting in front of a computer and changing diapers. I, quite literally, looked up one day and wondered how I got there.

Seriously—not just where was I, but who was I? It felt like my own skin didn’t fit right. The house with the big yard in suburbia was nice…but it wasn’t me.

So I hit the bit 3-0, had my second (and last baby) a week later, and decided if I didn’t grab my life by the horns I was going to miss it. I realized that while I loved my career, what I really wanted to do was finally take all those notebooks, Word files, and notes hidden away all over my house and be the writer I always expected I’d be one day. It was now or never.

I started writing a wildly complex utopian sci-fi that to this day is unfinished (it is called The Butterfly Rebellion and you will hear about it a lot if you follow me). It was too much to start out with, so I dropped back and wanted write about people. Something fun. I picked a romance, gave myself a three-week deadline to finish a first draft, and tried to write the crap out of it.

I finished it on my self-imposed deadline, but something else happened along the way. That ‘light, quick romance’ became so much more. It became a story of two people finding themselves, realizing their dreams, and falling in love—not to save each other, but because that is what happens when the right two people meet.

I was hooked.

That project went in the drawer, but a friend (LeElla!) was screaming at me to keep writing. She sent me JR Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood, An Insiders Guide with a chapter on helping writers get started. Ward suggested taking a peek at Harlequin because they acquire a lot a of writers quickly and it was a good way to get started in the industry with a few pennies in your pocket. I checked the website and at the top was a banner with SYTYCW 2012. I entered on a whim and finaled (to my complete shock). I was convinced everyone would laugh at me. I knew everyone would think the idea I could be a writer was a joke.

Except that wasn’t what happened. Nope. Instead of laughing or crickets, I got encouragement. From everyone. I cried. A lot. And I kept writing. I took my first romance out of the drawer and rewrote it from the ground up. It became The Storm Inside (my first full-length novel). I’m currently rewriting that SYTYCW piece—that’s The Unspoken Game.

I love writing romance because I finally realized it isn’t just about two silly people falling in love. Romance is a love story, but it is really about life. It is about women—something I am passionate about—and their amazing journey through childhood, motherhood, friends, lovers, and life. I so get this.

But I’m also back to my roots writing action/adventure, sci-fi, and suspense. I love that we aren’t locked into any one thing—we can write what we want.

How does my writing process work?

When I was younger (and especially in college) I tended to stay up all night writing. This all changed when I was writing my thesis in grad school. I started getting up at 5am, sitting down at my desk with the same five songs on repeat (Eye of the Tiger—you’re up!) and writing for two hours before I had to get to the lab for work. That was when I started drinking coffee. I still pretty much do this.

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I wake up, pull my laptop off my nightstand, and get at it.

But I’m a mom now…so there is a lot of wiggle room in my process (read: I write what I can, when I can.) Some mornings I write two thousand words before I’m invaded (and I have to start in on the lunches and cereals). Other mornings I’m lucky if I get through my Twitter feed.

While the kids are in school I write like my pants are on fire (this is a problem sometimes since I put too much pressure on myself to perform). I learn my characters, plot and plan. I like to know the full arc and major turning points before I put a word down. The most important thing for me is the first line. For example:

“Jake slammed my back into the wall of the shack, the boards of the wall bending and flexing from the impact.”

If I don’t have a first line that pulls me right into my own story, I can’t start the book. This line from The Storm Inside still makes my brain go in a million different directions.

I write a fast first draft, then edit and revise forever–usually until the point someone named Julia Kelly needs to talk me out of lighting my manuscript on fire over an emergency late night video chat and virtual hair stroking.

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So… that was probably more than you were expecting. I think I over-wrote this baby by a few hundred words. I hope the pictures helped 🙂 I’m tagging the wonderfully talented AL Parks and Elizabeth Barone to pick up the reins next. If anyone else wants a tag, email me or comment below! I’ll update the post with links to the other hoppers as I find them.

Check out some of the other hoppers:

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Posted on March 25, 2014, in Life, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I’ll hide the matches any day for you.

  2. I think we’re all drunk college kids at heart.

    I like what you said about creating an emotional connection between readers and characters. I had to write a sex scene for a recent release and wanted to come at it from a different, um, angle. I didn’t want to fade to black or detail every moment, but the scene itself was really important. So, I described it from one character’s point of view, who was already suffering emotionally and the act was just pushing them further. I was very pleased with the results! Being a sensitive crybaby has finally come in handy for me. 😉

  3. Sounds great Lex. Your Mimi would be proud of you as she always wanted to write. I have passed it on to others.

  4. I’ve got fire extinguishers, yes plural, so if Julia Kelly can’t get to you fast enough I’ve got you covered 😉 I related to so much of what you wrote, most especially about “But life happens.” with your description of what that meant to you. Although my epiphanies have come later in my life, I’m in a similar experience for myself and my career right now. If not now, when? Today’s a good day to create a wonderful life!

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