Today we’re discussing my writing process as part of an international blog tour project by several authors gathering to show what we’re working on and how we’re doing it.
Thank you to Sherry Gloag for extending this invitation. Sherry is a multi-published, best selling author of contemporary and Regency romance. Her latest release, Name the Day, is a contemporary story with winning chemistry between her main characters.
We were each given four questions about our writing process:
1) What am I working on? I currently have several projects in the works – when I get stuck on one, another will usually start talking to me. I’m very close to completing the next of my Heart Stories (the series that began with Heartsight). The 13 of Hearts will tell Rabbit’s story. We first met Rabbit in Operation: Christmas Hearts, a young officer who shared quarters in Afghanistan with that story’s hero, Nick Turner. Rabbit is a very superstitious marine, who is home recovering from injuries that occurred on a “bad luck” day. He meets a young mother and her two children who have secrets…
I am also about halfway finished with The Acrobat, which is a story featuring Eduard and Elise from my 2012 Christmas Regency, The Toymaker. Eduard is a short man, who has dwarfism. Elise is a spinster and governess who has secrets that could get her tried and executed for treason.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? I think the biggest way all of my books differ from others of same or similar genre is the degree of impairment my main characters must learn to live with. When I first wrote Heartsight, I found only a handful of other books in which the hero was blind, and in most of those, the blindness was temporary or curable. In Heartsight, the condition is permanent. When you add in a child with Down syndrome, well, the mix becomes pretty intense sometimes. But I’ve had so many people write and tell me that they want more of this Marine family that it’s apparent they are favored among readers. I’m newer at writing Regencies and I’m still finding my footing there. My heroes and heroines in my Regency books have pretty much been typical for the era. The Like a Lady series that I co-wrote with Kim Bowman is a twist on The Prince and the Pauper (a ladies’ maid and a lady switch places). The Toymaker is about a man who inherited a dukedom as the only living heir of his uncle, and it’s a title he never wanted. In The Acrobat, I’m diverging somewhat from the typical hero in that Eduard is a dwarf. But as a secondary character in The Toymaker, he got a lot of affection from readers, so his story began to gel, and I’m hoping for a midsummer release.
3) Why do I write what I do? I write what inspires me. At any given time, 5-6 stories might be coming together in various stages in my mind based on songs, news stories, pictures, conversations with family and friends. I have to write what speaks to me at the time. Contemporary is the easiest to write because research is far less intense than historical stories (I actually have been contemplating an American historical recently based on my love for Mackinac Island in Michigan, so now American history is tumbling around in my brain along with British history).
4) How does your writing process work? I often tell people that spiders are my muses – and I do write better when the author’s spiders are weaving their zipper-shaped webs outside my office window. But basically, it all starts with an idea. I often play around with the ideas in my mind for months ahead of time unless one is particularly strong. I might get into character as I work around the house or drive to the store. How does my heroine cook? How does my hero shift gears. I flesh out the characters by feeling the characters. I usually have a soundtrack/playlist that helps me choreograph different scenes or aids with characterization. And I have pretty specific ideas of what the characters look like. Sometimes I have pictures I work from for inspiration, stock photos mostly. Historical research is intense but thankfully history doesn’t change so my research for previous books applies to current ones. Contemporary research usually revolves around learning about the area in which the book is set.
I don’t plot per se, but I also don’t pants it. I have a definite knowledge of where the story begins and ends, and what will happen along the way, but only as I get to know the characters can I write about their reactions to what is going on. Every once in a while one will throw me a curve ball by reacting in a way that sets the plot spinning in a slightly different direction. But the end point I had in mind from the start usually is intact. By the time I actually sit down to write the story, it’s generally in my mind almost like a memory of something that’s really happened. That makes the story much more solid in my ability to tell it.
Next week, look for these blogging authors to tell you a little about their work!
Ruth J. Hartman, best selling author of Regency and Contemporary romances, whose best selling Regency Christmas book, Romancing the Dustman’s Daughter, will warm you on a chilly winter’s eve.
Kim Bowman, best selling author of Regency romance and paranormal stories, and owner of the hot new digital-first publisher, esKape ePress.