I’m very excited to participate in this fun blog tour where each author tells the secrets of how they do what they do. Every writer has their own writing process. Like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. Keep reading to see how I create my magic and then three of my writer friends will do the same next Monday (their links are below).
1) What am I working on?
Right now I am finishing the first draft of the sequel to my Young Adult paranormal romance, SIREN’S SONG, which released in March. In the first book, a dark curse shackles three siblings into a loveless existence. The heroine in the sequel, Taylin, is the sister in the group and must learn to overcome the fear of death shadowing her. The renewed ability to love brings vulnerability, both physical and emotional.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My trademark symbol, which can be found in every one of my books, is the dragonfly. The delicate insect has survived since the age of the dinosaurs, yet can be crushed with carelessness. Vulnerable in form but resilient in spirit – just like the women I write about. Even when terrible circumstances seem insurmountable, their spirits prevail and they find a way to win their happily ever after.
Apart from my contemporary YA romance, I also write historical paranormal romance set mostly in King Henry VIII’s time period. I definitely haven’t found a lot of paranormal romance set historically. Yet the grandeur and superstitions at court and the quiet majesty and raw beauty of the Highlands lend themselves easily to the added twist of magic.
3) Why do I write what I do?
Three years ago I learned that I had ovarian cancer, which then led to fifteen months of chemo and another year of recovery. On top of losing my physical strength, I lost hope and my belief in happy endings. I couldn’t write my fiction during that time because if I didn’t believe in something, I couldn’t write about it.
Yet hope is essential to us as humans. As I battled hard and took steps towards recovery, hope slowly grew from the ashes. Once again I could see happy endings as something more than a child’s dream. My mind began to whirl with ideas that didn’t involve my own survival, and I began to write fiction once more, fiction that will always have a happy ending.
There are enough tragic endings out there in the real world. I don’t need to write or read fictional ones. I truly believe that if we read (or write) enough happy endings, we will draw one to ourselves.
I am now in remission and hope to stay there. More information about ovarian cancer, a sneaky, vicious disease that strikes 1 in 72 women, can be found here on my web site: Ovarian Cancer.
4) How does my writing process work?
I usually start off with a basic idea for a story, a plot twist, an interesting setting or a couple of characters who intrigue me. Like an artist sketching an outline in black and white, I think about my characters interacting. Bits of dialogue, conflict, and disasters begin to color them in.
Once the characters take off in my head, the opening scene starts filling in and I write it, usually very quickly because it’s new, fresh and I’m completely obsessed with it. If I’m not, then the idea isn’t worth pursuing.
Then I take a breath to write down a basic idea for the story (the theme) and any thoughts about scenes that are integral to it. I take the time to create a visual collage, with cut out pictures, to help me really focus in on the emotions, characters, settings, period clothing, etc. Often I find pictures which propel my plot ideas into different directions.
When planning my historical paranormal romance, TANGLED HEARTS, I cut out a picture of a garden without knowing what I’d use it for, but I was drawn to it. My favorite scene in the book ended up taking place in that garden. When writing I keep the collage before me. When I feel stuck in part of the book I take some time to add to the collage and it nudges my muse back into the adventure.
I also create a soundtrack to listen to. It helps me focus in on my book’s world instead of the real world chatter around me. As a mom of three kids and one crazy, rescued golden retriever, the soundtrack of my regular world is very noisy and distracting.
After I write several chapters I usually stop and head to my large white board where I brainstorm and tweak my initial ideas to increase the tension in the plot twists. The process of working with my white board and different colored markers never fails to help me focus back on the theme of the book so I can keep the pacing on track.
When I get stuck, either because the characters are not behaving or my real-world life is distracting me, I go for a walk with my exuberant dog. Fresh air and the steady rhythm of footfalls get my blood pumping, which feeds my brain. I almost always come home with new ideas or ways to fix whatever problem is holding me up.
So my process is as follows: excited thinking, writing the opening, collaging, writing, tweaking, plotting, writing, walking, mumbling dialogue while doing mundane housework, writing, cursing under my breath, walking, tweaking white board, writing, writing until my butt falls asleep in the chair, typing THE END, wiping tears of joy, editing, editing, editing, dancing when the final is sent back to me, celebrating for ten minutes. REPEAT with the next amazing idea.
Thanks so much for stopping by today to learn a bit about my personal writing process. For more information about my books click here: Heather’s Bookshelf. I can also be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HMcCollumAuthor and on FB at https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMcCollumAuthor.
Thank you, Frances Evesham for inviting me to be part of this fun blog tour! Check out Frances’s writing process here: Frances Eversham.
Be sure to continue on this tour of authors to find out all the fun and varied ways we create our magic on the page. Next up are Gina Conkle, Kelly Jensen, and Sarah Ballance.
Gina Conkle writes Viking and Georgian romance with a softly sensual side. She’s hosted a version of “Net-Flix” in her head and decided to put those mind movies on paper. When not writing or researching obscurities, she enjoys cooking for her testosterone filled home, trying to keep it organic (but her diet coke gets in the way). Check out her writing process here: http://ginaconkle.com/blog/.
Kelly Jensen – If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do. Check out Kelly’s writing process here: http://sisimka.wordpress.com/.
Sarah Ballance is a multi-published author of contemporary, historical, and supernatural romance and romantic suspense. She’s been married to her own romantic hero for what he calls a “long, long time” (and no, he’ll never hear the end of saying that.) Together they have six children…and clearly too much time on their hands. Check out Sarah’s writing process on her web site here: http://sarahballance.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/writing-process-blog-tour/