Tuesday, April 6, 2021

My Writing Process (2021)


My Writing Process

 I've probably written about my writing process before, but it's an ever evolving, ever refining thing. Right now, I'd like to describe the stages that a story goes through before I publish it.

This is the system I use. It works for me, and it's fast--I can publish at least a book a year, start to finish, with my method. But this is a very individual exercise, and everyone works a bit differently. You'll want to adapt what you learn and come up with your own.

Step 1: Daydream. This is where I do my "pantsing". I watch it in my head like a movie, and throw in whatever seems appealing. It's a mess, and that's fine. Most likely, I'll eventually tire of it, and the whole story moves to "the compost of my imagination". Ideas get recycled and reused in different forms. Eventually an actual story emerges, ready for the next step.

Step 2: Outline. I'll make a form with the basic story structure, which I've adapted from KM Weiland's blog. I'll fill in just a couple lines for each major beat. (Key moment, inciting incident, first plot point, first pinch point, etc.)

This is for a book I have yet to write, and it will change a lot before it's finished. That's perfectly fine.

Step 3: Rough draft. I usually do this for NaNoWriMo or in that style. I'll use the outline as a rough guide, so I know where I'm heading next, and then just get all those words out, unedited, unpolished. If I realize that an earlier part needs to change, I'll go up and make a note, right in the document. I may even stop and do some brainstorming (stream-of-conscious typing about the story) or write notes and suggestions to myself.

Step 4: First draft. I take the mess that is the rough draft, look at all the notes I've made, and turn it into something presentable. This is the stage that takes the longest. 

Being me, I'll also make all kinds of spreadsheets to help me keep track of where the story is and what needs to happen next. Here's the one from my DreamRovers series:

Step 5: Get feedback. Some of these steps will be going concurrently. I'll be submitting chapters for beta-readers before I've finished the whole first draft, for instance.  I have three main beta-readers right now, plus at least one stranger to my style/world, if I can find one. Reading out loud might happen anywhere in the process. It's great for catching plot holes as well as mistakes. My kids enjoy being my test audience. Both the beta-readers and my kids act as motivation to get that next chapter done on time.

Step 6: Polishing. This will include making changes that I've found, as well as incorporating advice from the feedback I've received. This will take several drafts.  

Step 7: Proofing. I'll make the cover and do the formatting, then order a copy of a physical proof from amazon. This will allow me to pick out mistakes and make changes that I wouldn't have noticed in another format, like a screen.

Step 8s and beyond: Publish! And market like crazy. But that's another topic... 

If you'd like to check out the finished results, you can find my books at www.thespectrabooks.com

I hope you find something useful here. Enjoy!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Book Recommendations, April 2021

 Here's a few books that I've read, enjoyed, and reviewed this month:

The Rose and the Thorn by Katherine Macdonald
I enjoy fairytale retellings. My favorite aspects from this one was the realistic relationship between the beauty character and her family (even siblings!), and that the main characters have a realistic relationship. Sometimes they're angry with each other, but it's in a healthy way and they still love one another.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Dystopia isn't really my thing, but my daughter brought it home claiming that it's what her classmates are reading, so I gave it a shot. The world and "magic" is interesting. It is a bit darker than my usual taste (thus, dystopia isn't really my thing).

The Land by Mildred D. Taylor
I've read "Roll of Thunder, Here My Cry" in childhood, so I thought I'd try this prequel. It takes place just after slavery ends and is an eye-opening look into the experiences of what real people once went through.

The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn
Another dystopia book my daughter brought home. It's published in 2004, so some of the predictions are a bit dated, but it's certainly action packed and asks questions about privacy. It's basically the YA version of the movie GATTACA.

Entity by A. Nation
I've been working with this author for awhile, and her books keep improving. This is a SciFi about a teenaged girl on Mars and an alien creature no one knows how to relate to. 

A Timeless Romance Anthology: Valentine's Day Collection
My mother recommended this cute collection of short stories by well-known proper romance authors. It's a fun read, and the little novellas are the perfect size.
Blood Brothers by Craig Halloran
This is an epic fantasy a la Lord of the Rings. This one has the adventure and fantasy, but doesn't have the steep learning curve with tons of new vocabulary that is sometimes an issue in high/epic fantasy.

DreamRover origins


DreamRovers started, like most of my books do, as a daydream. It featured two half-sisters who struggled to relate to each other, and people being singled out and persecuted for their abilities to travel through dreams.

Obviously the story changed a lot as I wrote it down. Indra and Marenna are now foster sisters, and they gained a lot of family and friends. I combined the daydream with an influence of 'The Work and the Glory', a historical fiction series I absolutely loved as a girl, and then fit the whole thing into the Spectra world setting and magic system.

DreamRovers has been a long time in coming. I wrote the first rough draft for the NaNoWriMo of 2017, at the same time as Mira's Griffin. Like Mira's Griffin, it was supposed to be a standalone novel. I struggled to figure out how to work it into my publishing timeline with all my Keita's Wings series books, and finally decided to break it into thirds and have my beta-readers look at it between Keita's Wings volumes. It didn't take me long to realize that the story worked much better broken up into three volumes and expanded into full length novels. So, it's taken awhile, but here's the result:

DreamRovers 1: Price of Deliverance just came out April 2nd!
DreamRovers 2: Trail of Decision is on preorder, coming out June 15th!
DreamRovers 3: Hearts of Defenders will come out this December.

The Spectra World master maps!

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