Tag Archives: writing process

Defenders of the Wildings Story Grid, and More Stuff

Okay, so it’s been a while. After I released Heir of Tanaris, I did a re-edit of the whole Daughter of the Wildings series, fixing up a few things I wasn’t quite satisfied with, and also brushed up the blurbs. And Write Dream Repeat Book Design did these nifty new title treatments on the covers!
Pretty cool, huh? 🙂 All six books wouldn’t fit on the banner she made for me; you can check them all out on the series page.

To celebrate the update, Beneath the Canyons is only 99 cents until after New Year’s.
Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | iTunes | GooglePlay | Smashwords | DriveThruFiction

So now it’s on to updating the paperback versions and also doing the paperback of Heir of Tanaris, and the revision of Defenders of the Wildings. Yes, this is a thing, even though it’s been delayed a while. The whole thing is written, I just need to beat it into shape. As part of that process, I made a Story Grid of the entire series. It’s pretty long, so I couldn’t fit it all into one picture. Here’s the left side, from the start to the first part of Book 5 (Books 5 and 6 are a lot longer than books 1-4), partly because I forgot in the first draft to put the plot in book 1; what’s in the grid is a skeleton plot that will need to be fleshed out a little more):

And here’s the right side:
As you can see, I had fun with my colored gel pens 🙂 The pacing and flow, the ups and downs of the different storylines, actually came out pretty good. I don’t have to make a lot of adjustments to the story structure. The actual writing… That’s another story (lol). At this moment, I’m well on the way through typing up the final revision outline and notes, and I should be ready to start marking that puppy up with the red pen this week. This revision method takes a lot of planning, but saves a lot of time and trouble later on. If I think of something I need to add, delete, or change, it’s just a matter of making the changes in my revision outline, rather than having to go back and rewrite something I’ve already rewritten once. I’ll probably have to do some of that anyway, but planning it all out ahead of time will keep it to a minimum.

So this should keep me busy for a while. I’ll post updates whenever I have something interesting to report. In the meantime, I’ve got a stockpile of short stories waiting to be edited and posted or released for sale, when I get a chance, so watch for those.

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Heir of Tanaris Story Grid

I think I mentioned before that I’m studying The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, a really cool editing method that takes you deep into how a story’s theme and structure work together. The approach it takes really struck a chord with me, so I gave it a try with Heir of Tanaris. This might be more interesting for writers, but if you’re an avid reader and like seeing how the sausage is made, so to speak, you might find it interesting too.

Heir had already been through one major revision and was out with the beta readers while I was working through the Story Grid book, but I felt like I hadn’t gone deep enough into what the story is about. This is a novel that has given me a hard time for years, trying to really get a grasp on it. So I decided to take Heir through the process, which involves making a spreadsheet of different sets of info about the story and a 1-page summary of the story then putting it all together into a grid.

Here’s a screen shot of part of my spreadsheet for Heir:

Because spreadsheets are awesome, and doing this helped me start to clearly see the patterns of the story.

My “1 page” summary kinda turned out to be a lot more complicated than that. The Story Grid summary is based on a 3-part structure, beginning – middle – end, while I myself am more partial to a four-part structure, beginning – middle 1 – [midpoint reversal] – middle 2 – end, and Heir actually falls more naturally into 5 parts. But the basic principles are the same, each section consists of complications rising to some sort of crisis and climax, and I eventually got that beaten into shape.

And then the fun part, making the actual grid. You do this on actual grid paper with actual pens (it is possible to do it on a spreadsheet, but it would be a lot harder unless you’re a spreadsheet virtuoso, and the examples I’ve seen are hard to read); I used my new set of Tul colored gel pens 😀 which was fun. And here it is:

The boxes above and below the center line each represent a scene. The Story Grid method evaluates scenes based on how the story situation changes, from bad to good (negative to positive) or good to bad (positive to negative); you can also have bad to worse (which is fun) and good to better (use sparingly). Scenes that move in a positive direction go above the line, scenes that go in a negative direction go below the line. The tricky thing, and the thing that really helps you strengthen the theme of the story, is the direction the scene goes in has to relate to the overall storyline. For example, if the villain gets something he wants, that’s positive for the villain but negative for the overall story. So that scene goes below the line.

​Trickier is if one of the good guys gets something he wants that he shouldn’t want, because he’s trying to overcome a character flaw; that is also a negative turn for the story, even though it’s temporarily positive for the character. Or if the character has to make a sacrifice in order to achieve their goal; negative at the moment for the character, but positive for the storyline. It can especially get complicated if you have two conflicting goals. A scene can be positive for one storyline and negative for the other. For example, in a romance, if the hero passionately kisses the heroine even though he’s got no business kissing her at all right now, that’s positive for the romance but negative for his moral development. Heir of Tanaris has a lot of that conflicting stuff going on, so this helped me get a firmer grip on all of it.

I had fun with my colored pens 🙂 The blue boxes are for scenes where we’re in Davian’s head, pink boxes are for scenes in Isamina’s point of view. Imaginative, I know 😛 Brown boxes are for the villain. The colored lines going up and down represent the rise and fall of the different storylines. Blue is one of Davian’s storylines, green is the other, pink is Isamina’s, and orange is the romance storyline. That line, for example, goes down when something happens to keep Davian and Isamina apart and up when they’re together and their relationship progresses.

Now, over on the right hand side, not all the way to the right but kind of in the middle of the right side of the graph, you might notice a problem. That’s right, hardly any scenes with a negative turn. Almost all the action is above the line. This means everything through here was going very smoothly for our hero and heroine. Which is nice for them but makes for a boring story. That was a huge flaw in the story which was really made clear by the grid. So what I did was go back and evaluate the story conflicts in each of those scenes, the larger-scale problems the characters are facing throughout the book. What problems did I solve too easily? Where do the characters need to struggle harder?

Another problem is all the way to the right, near the end, there’s one scene that stretches both above and below the center line with a bunch of lines zooming up and down and up and down all within that one scene that takes place over maybe an hour of story time. What that showed me is I was trying to do too much in that one scene and the climax of the story was rushed. So there again I had to deepen the struggle, and also spread it out over more scenes and over time within the story.

I just finished the revision incorporating everything I got from this and also the beta reader feedback, and I think it’s made Heir of Tanaris a much stronger, deeper book. I’m going through a modified version of the process with the first draft of the Defenders of the Wildings series, combining it with Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel method, in hopes of nailing all the major story issues in one big revision instead of two. Which hopefully will help me get those books out faster.

To learn more about the Story Grid, visit the Story Grid website. Most of the content from the book is also available for free on the blog, and you can also view story grids that Shawn Coyne made for Silence of the Lambs (the book he uses as the example throughout the blog posts and book) and Pride and Prejudice.

Anyway, Heir of Tanaris is currently on track for release in late September. To make sure you don’t miss out on the release (and the special limited-time low introductory price), sign up for my email newsletter. Subscribers will also get the first peek at the cover, before I do the cover reveal here on my blog. So excited about this; Mominur Rahman’s art for this book is gorgeous!


Defenders of the Wildings first draft finished!

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Today I typed the final word of the first draft of Defenders of the Wildings, the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings. It clocks in at 182,133 words, or 451 printed pages (11 pt Times New Roman, double-spaced). Actually 450 pages, because the last page has like half a sentence on it. I hate it when that happens. This is by far the longest single manuscript I’ve ever written; the combined draft of the six books in Daughter of the Wildings was longer, but I wrote each book separately. Defenders didn’t really want to divide up into six nice, neat novel-sized units, so I wrote it as one big thing and I’ll work out how to divide it up and release it later. Two volumes of three “episodes” each seems like how it’s going to work out. Of course, cover art is still a ways out, so I’ll still be using the Daughter covers to illustrate posts about Defenders for a while.

This book also turned out to be much larger than I expected, and larger than anything I’ve written before, in scope of action and number of important characters. Of course it still centers around Silas and Lainie Vendine, but we’ll also meet Torrin, a young ranch hand who discovers his magical powers, Magical Mik the traveling showman, Pazit Mahita, who is more than the ordinary farmwife she appears to be, and Lut Dorbich and Gidejoni Cajali, underministers from the Chardonikan Union (which got a name change about 80% of the way through, which is why I should probably stick to writing series in their entirety before I release the first book). You can get a sneak peek at Dorbich and Cajali here.

Writing this first draft was an adventure in itself. After two false starts, where I nearly drove myself nuts trying to figure out how to piece all the different parts of the story together (see story’s refusal to fit into nice novel-length units, above), I finally got it. I had to do a lot of copy-and-pasting from the earlier versions and filling in with new material until I got to the place where I had left off, but once I got there it was pretty smooth going. I was getting frustrated at how long this was taking, because there were a lot of times this summer and fall when I couldn’t keep up my daily production, but now it’s finally done, yay. Now I’m printing it out even as I type this, and it’ll rest while I finish up edits on Source-Breaker (note to self: get page on site for Estelend series set up) and start revising Heir of Tanaris.

This project brought me to 264,744 words for the year, including a number of short stories and the abandoned parts of the first two attempts. I’m counting words I’m not going to use, because all writing counts as practice, but I didn’t double-count the words I copy and pasted. For a while I thought I might hit 300,000, but having to re-work the Defenders draft slowed me down. Still, considering my goal was 250,000 for the year, I’m pretty pleased.

Of course, at this point I can’t even begin to say when Defenders will start being released. Sometime next year, I guess. To make sure you don’t miss out on release news for Defenders or my other books, sign up for my email alerts (no spam, and I won’t share your info). In the meantime, onward with Source-Breaker and Heir of Tanaris, and planning for the next series, Children of the Wildings!

…And Defenders just finished printing. Here it is:


Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel Course Now Open for Registration

PictureI’ve blogged before about my revision process, which came from Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course. Five months of gut- and brain-wrenching work that teaches you how to take your novel draft apart, identify what works and what doesn’t and why, and how to fix what doesn’t work and make your novel into the book you wanted to write. I took HTRYN using Urdaisunia as my project, and took what was a frightening frankendraft patchwork of old and new writing and turned it into a novel I was proud to release. Whether you want to self-publish or pursue traditional publishing, whether or not you plan to hire an editor, no matter how many creative writing classes you may (or may not) have taken, I believe it’s the best $285 you can spend on your writing, hands down. The course was closed for a while, while the site was being rebuilt, but now registration is open again through Tuesday, December 16. Holly will only be opening registration once a year, or twice if there’s enough interest, so if you want to take How To Revise Your Novel, now’s the time to consider signing up.

Here’s more about it from Holly Lisle:

For the next seven days, UNTIL 11:59 PM EST on TUESDAY, Dec. 15, you can register for the class that has been teaching writers how turn rough, lumpy, awkward, and sometimes just outright BROKEN first drafts into professional-quality fiction since Nov. 23, 2009.

The class started out back in 2009 having two registrations a year. I changed that at some point, but when I did, the vibrancy of the community of writers that developed in the classroom (a sort of war-buddies-who’d-shared-hardships-and-SEEN-things camaraderie) disappeared.

Limited-time registration is back.

Once again, How To Revise Your Novel is only going to be available either one or two times a year.

I promise the course will be available to a new class once a year.

I’ll only make How To Revise Your Novel available a second time in any given year if I have enough students waiting to register to fill a second class.

However…

Once you own How To Revise Your Novel, you can use the classroom and (soon to be added) forum year-round, retake any lessons, go through the initial process and then the streamlined process with every book (or story, screenplay, biography or any other fiction or personal nonfiction you write).

I’ve even had students tell me it helped them with their nonfiction. The class is NOT focused on that, though.
If you do a NaNoWriMo novel a year, then next year you’ll already have the class. And the year after that. And the year after that.
If you write a book every two months, you’ll have everything in the classroom waiting to help you make every one of those books better.
If you write a story a day, what you’ll learn in this class will show you how to make those short stories better, too.
And if you just want to write one or two novels, but you want to make them great?
How To Revise Your Novel will be there for you for them, too.

Being a working writer who creates great stories that readers love isn’t some magical gift of the gods. It is a learned skill. It takes a lot of words, and a lot of work.

But YOU CAN DO IT.

Any writer willing to put in the work can learn the necessary skills, and if you’re willing to apply those skills to every word you write, YOU CAN get good.

To join the class, go here

To log in if you’re a current How-To-Think-Sideways-class student or HTTS-class grad
Then use the green How To Think Sideways button in the Classroom Hub to reach your registration page

WARNING!

How To Revise Your Novel is not an easy class.

You cannot learn how to revise your work by READING lessons.

THERE IS NO THEORY in How To Revise Your Novel.

Every bit of it is practical, step-by-step instructions.

You have to actually print out your manuscript, print out the worksheets, and DO the work.

And with your first professional-process revision, there is a LOT of work.

Here’s the good news.

The first REAL revision you do will be the MOST PAINFUL, MOST DIFFICULT, MOST AGONIZING and occasionally, the MOST HORRIFYING revision you will ever do.

How is that GOOD news, you’re asking?

🙂 (If somebody told me I was walking into pain, you better believe I’D ask.)

So here’s why it’s good news.

Discovering during your first revision everything you do wrong over and over in your writing teaches you not to make those mistakes anymore. Your writing becomes better when you revise, and your NEXT first-draft manuscript will be better from the beginning.

So your next novel’s revision will be EASIER to do. Usually, it will be a LOT easier.
Trust me, with each new manuscript, you’ll invent brand-new mistakes that you’ll only discover in your next revision.

Ask me how I know…

But learning to do a real, s olid, step-by-step one-time-through revision will make you a better writer, and every book you revise from then on…

…will also make you a better writer.

So, if this sounds like what you’re looking for, go now, and join me and the next class of writers getting ready to get GOOD.

To join the class, go here

To log in if you’re a current How-To-Think-Sideways-class student or HTTS-class grad
Then use the green How To Think Sideways button in the Classroom Hub to reach your registration page

I’ll see you on the inside, where you will learn how to…

Revise with joy,
Holly

P.S. Registration will be open for 7 days, until 11:59 PM EST, Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

If you miss the registration, you will need to wait for the next class, which will open in either six months or a year.

To join the class, go here

To log in if you’re a current How-To-Think-Sideways-class student or HTTS-class grad
Then use the green How To Think Sideways button in the Classroom Hub to reach your registration page

The links are my affiliate links, and I get a commission on sign ups, but that isn’t why I recommend HTRYN. I recommend it because it did amazing things for my books and my writing and revision skills, and if you put in the work, you’ll get a lot out of it too, skills that you can apply to all your writing now and in the future. So go check it out 🙂

City of Mages Revision Progress

PictureWith To the Gap out, I’m hard at work now on getting City of Mages revised and edited and ready for release. It’s funny, with each of my books (not just in Daughter of the Wildings, but all my books), as I start a revision I’m going, Yay, this book is one of my favorites!, and towards the end I’m thinking, Augh, I just want to get this book done and get on to the next one, it’s one of my favorites. But really, all my books are my favorites, there’s just different things I like about each one. City of Mages is fun because we finally get to see Granadaia, and because it focuses in so closely on Lainie. (Some quotes from Lainie from book 5, though the last one is actually from book 6.) I do have to say that of all the amazing covers for the series, this is one of my favorites.

Preparing the revision was pretty fast and easy (see this post for my revision process). The hardest part was trying to figure out, for the scene cards, if something was one mega-scene or should be divided into two smaller scenes. Last Thursday, I started the actual marking up with the red pen. This version of City of Mages is starting out at 44,000 words; I expect the final published version to come in somewhere around 60,000 words. I tend to “write short” and then I go back and layer in descriptions, fill out bits of action I’d only summarized, stuff like that. So far I’ve already added almost 1000 words.

Like with books 2-4, I’m starting out thinking this one won’t need as much work as the others, and then that turns out to be wrong. To the Gap especially took me by surprise how hard it was. On the surface, the storyline is pretty simple, but there was a lot going on beneath the surface, the progression of Silas and Lainie’s feelings and motivations and how they were thinking about things, that needed a lot of pacing and fine-tuning. On the other hand, the plot of City of Mages seems more complex, and there are some things going on beneath the surface that have been a little tricky to work out (who knows what when and how they know it and what they think about it, that kind of thing), but the emotional and motivational character arc is pretty simple.

I still can’t really say when City of Mages is going to be out. We’re taking our younger son back to school at the end of this month, meaning a road trip of a couple of days, and in mid-October we’ll probably be hosting a wedding reception for our older son and his wife (they have a bunch of other stuff to take care of first, and late-September/October is the best time of year for having outdoor events here), plus in addition to the time there’s always the fatigue factor that I have to consider. I’d like to say late October, though it could go sooner or later, into November. In the meantime, I’ll be working hard to get it out as soon as possible without short-changing the quality.

Back to work 🙂


Friday 5: Five of my must-have writing tools

For this week’s Friday 5, here are five of my must-have writing tools beyond the obvious (computer, printer, paper).

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1. Liquid Story Binder (writing software) http://www.blackobelisksoftware.com/
Kinda old now, but full of useful features and amazingly flexible. I can go from brainstorming and outlining to writing to revision and spellchecking all in one program. Scrivener is the really popular writing program now, and it has a lot of features in common with LSB, but I found it a little too regimented. This image shows a working layout from The Lost Book of Anggird, with a timeline, the Builder I wrote in (Builders are a tool that collects a lot of files into one larger file with a “table of content” on the side that lets you add, delete, and move smaller individual files around), and a listing all the files in that project.

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2. Index cards.
I’ll confess, I kind of have a fetish for index cards. One of my desk drawers is crammed full of unopened packs in both 3 x 5 and 4 x 6 sizes. I use these for outlining, putting each scene idea on a card, then I can see where the blanks are that need to be filled in and also rearrange them as needed. I also use them for revision. I make a scene for each card (as described here: http://www.kyrahalland.com/blog/daughter-of-the-wildings-revision-progress) with a one-sentence summary of the scene, notes on the purpose of the scene, the situation or conflict it addresses, what changes in the scene to move the story forward, and what revisions I need to make in the scene.

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3. Post-its.
I use a ton of post-its, or sticky notes. I put them on my revision index cards to give myself an idea of how much work each scene needs (I’m almost never right) (also see the post linked above). I also use them to mark the place in my manuscript where I left off editing, and also to leave notes to myself in the manuscript of things I think of that need to be changed later on. For example, in the crossing the river scene in To the Gap (upcoming book 4), I put a sticky note saying “Mrs B rides across fully clothed”. Cryptic, but I know what it means, and when I get to that part I’ll know I meant to change that. (rides across fully clothed, as opposed to swimming across the river in her underwear like everyone else has to do, if you’re wondering.)

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4. Timer.
I use this on days when I’m having trouble focusing, set for 15 minutes at a time. Or if I have other chores I need to get done, I set it for 30 minutes at a time, then go work on other stuff for a bit. Or if my work hours have been slipping, I set it for the number of hours I need to work that day to make sure I get them all in.

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5. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1st edition.
My parents gave me this for Christmas (or maybe my birthday? they’re close together) when I was in, hm, 5th or 6th grade, and I still have it. This is the original edition, with an extensive section in the back on word origins, which is great for coming up with fantasy words. It’s huge and heavy, and since it’s over 40 years old its eleventy-gazillion entries don’t include the latest slang and buzzwords (but since I write other-world fantasy I don’t need those anyway), but it’s my authoritative go-to for spelling, definitions, and usage (the extensive usage notes have been a lifesaver more than once). An oldie but goodie, and I have no plans to quit using it.

May 2015 Wrap-up and What’s Ahead in June

PictureWell, what do you know, it’s a week into June already and I still haven’t done the monthly wrap-up and look ahead. Basically, most of what I’m doing is still working on edits of To the Gap, book 4 of Daughter of the Wildings. It’s going really well, and so far everything’s on track for a release in the first part of July. I know I’ve blogged about this before, but here’s a rundown of my writing/editing workflow:

1. first draft
2. deep, major revision
3. out to test readers
4. 2nd major revision
5. refine dialogue, descriptions, action, pacing, flow
6. fix mistakes, awkward sentences
7. proofread on paper
8. proofread on Kindle

A lot of times, if the manuscript is really a mess, I do a second copy edit between steps 6 and 7. But so far, on step 5 on To the Gap, I’m not finding a whole lot of changes to make. So hopefully I won’t have to do that extra step.

On days when I finish my editing quote on time, I’ve been working on outlining the Healing Tree, a novel set in my world of Estelend. Should be ready to start writing soon. I found the perfect soundtrack for it, the new album Haven by Kamelot. Here’s a video of one of the songs from the album:

I’m still reading from A to Z. Up to V now; the end is in sight! For a while there I kept finding books that I couldn’t finish. I’m not going to say what they are; this indie author gig is tough, and taste is subjective, and I don’t want to be the one putting down a fellow author. Instead I’ll just focus on the books I do read all the way through. I’ve been discovering some amazing reads; watch for another roundup soon!

I keep telling myself I need to start thinking about what comes after Daughter of the Wildings. At the moment I have three novels in draft awaiting revision, a fourth about ready to be written, and a binder full of short stories related to Chosen of Azara and The Source-fixer. And I’ve started developing ideas for a follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings; I know the basic series conflict and the basic plot of the first book. I’ve been so deeply absorbed in Daughter of the Wildings it’s hard to focus on anything else. But at least I know I won’t be running out of things to work on any time soon!


The Rancher’s Daughter Progress Report

Picture*Phew* Was buried all week last week in the last large-scale revision of The Rancher’s Daughter, cleaning up the last messy plot points, fixing descriptions and dialogue, and making sure everything flows well. The big battle scene took a while; in that scene, Lainie has three different enemies and one unreliable ally (not Silas; he’s temporarily indisposed), and the battle is happening on both the physical and the metaphysical planes. I could only do a few paragraphs at a time, then I had to go rest my poor tired brain. *sigh* Lainie keeps getting herself into these situations, and then I have to figure out how to get her out of them.

Anyway, it’s on to the final edits and proofreading. If everything continues to go as it has been, The Rancher’s Daughter will be out by the end of April. In the meantime, here’s a snippet from the book:

A rustling in the forest undergrowth several measures away drew her attention. From the shadows, a narrow pair of glowing, dark orange eyes stared at her. Below them, Lainie could make out a long, furry snout with sharp fangs poking up and down out of the sides of the mouth. Behind the head stretched a body the length of a man, covered in gray fur and set close to the ground on short, thick legs. Even in the dim light, Lainie could see the curving claws, longer than her fingers, that tipped each enormous paw. Two long ears stood straight up atop the head and twitched towards her as a thick tail, the length of the creature’s body, swished back and forth through the litter on the forest floor.

Lainie bit back a scream and fought to keep from making the slightest movement or sound as her heart thundered in her chest. This was the first time she had ever seen a grovik as anything more than a shadow in the distance. Now, as she stared at this one only measures away, all the terrifying stories about the beasts, how one grovik could strip a man — or a tied-up woman — down to the bones in a matter of minutes, came rushing back into her mind.

The grovik took a step towards her. Cold sweat broke out all over her body. She squeezed her eyes shut, tears of terror leaking down her cheeks, and prayed as hard as she could. If nothing else, she hoped it would be over with quick. She braced herself for the tearing of enormous, razor-sharp teeth and claws into her flesh.


Writing Progress Update

Picture I seem to have found myself caught up into the Writing Process Blog Hop again, having been tagged last week by the lovely and talented Teshelle Combs, whom I’ve featured her here a couple of times. My writing process hasn’t changed much in the time since I did this before, but I figure it’s time for a progress update.

The first major revisions on books 1-3 of Daughter of the Wildings are done and out to the test readers, and I just started on book 4. It’s taking a lot more rewriting than I thought it would. Not that the plots have changed so much, but some major issues with the magic are different, and also some character issues. Plus a lot of what I wrote was me just trying to figure out what happens next! I like to plan my stories in advance, but a lot of Daughter of the Wildings resisted any kind of advance outlining. So I’m cutting lots of stuff, and adding lots of stuff, and changing lots of stuff.

Saturday I spent working out the money system a little more. The amount of money Silas and Lainie have is an important plot point at this point; they just got a big payout for services rendered to wealthy rancher Brin Coltor (one of my favorite supporting characters in the series), and it had to be enough to make taking on the job he hired them for worth the risk. On the other hand, there’s something Silas wants to do that’s going to cost even more than they have. Balancing the money in and money out to keep it all in proportion took some sitting down and calculating. I think I’ve finally got it figured out.

So there’s that, and since it’s been a long time since I wrote anything new, I’ve decided to participate in July Camp NaNoWriMo (because I’m just not busy enough :P). My goal is 500 words a day for a total of 12,000 words for the month (not much, but should be doable on the heavy revising schedule I’m on), and my project is Tales of Azara, a set of short stories to go along with Chosen of Azara. Some readers have mentioned to me that they’d like more background on the characters in the novel and more stories from that world, so that’s what this is for.

And I’m doing COYER Summer Vacation! So when I’m not writing and revising, I’ll be reading and reviewing. Should be enough to keep me out of trouble!

This week’s other stop on the Writing Process Blog Hop is Madhuri Blaylock; go check her out!


Writing Process Blog Hop

Welcome to the ongoing Writing Process Blog Hop! This week it’s my turn to share a little about my writing process. First, I want to thank Isabella Norse for inviting me to participate. Make sure you go check out her blog hop post!

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And now I get to talk about my writing process a little.

1)     What am I working on?
Right now, I’m getting Sarya’s Song ready to publish. The release date is April 10, and I’ve got some proofreading to do and then the formatting.

Up after that is my six-book series, Daughter of the Wildings. It’s in the initial stages of revision (the whole series at once, to get it all consistent). Once Sarya’s Song is out the door, I can work on Daughter of the Wildings full time.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write fantasy which has a strong romantic storyline between the two main characters pretty evenly balanced with the fantasy plot. You couldn’t take away either the fantasy or the romance from my novels and still have a story left; both are essential.


Picture3)     Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always loved fantasy, and I’ve always loved a good love story, but I had trouble finding books that combined the two in a way I found satisfying. Either the fantasy or the romance was an afterthought; I like them both the be equally important to the story. So I write the kinds of books I’d love to read.

Plus, wizards in love. 😀

4)     How does your writing process work?
My ideas usually come in the form of a character or two in a specific situation. I can see the characters, what they look like, what their surroundings are, what they’re doing. I start exploring who they are, what sort of world do they live in, why are they in that situation and doing what they’re doing, and the story develops from there.

When I start writing, I like to know who the main characters are and what they want or need to do in the story, what sort of conflicts and opposition they face, the first few scenes, at least a couple of major scenes throughout the story, and a general idea of the ending (good triumphs over evil; girl/guy gets guy/girl). The more detail I have figured out ahead of time, the happier I am, but usually the story also develops in different ways while I write it from what I planned. And some stories don’t like to be planned much in advance; when that happens, I end up feeling my way through a few scenes at a time. I have to know what I’m going to write before I sit down to write, so I’m not staring helplessly at a blank screen.


PictureWhen I’m writing a first draft, I aim for about 2000-2500 words a day, though I’d love to increase that. At that rate, a first draft will take a month or two to write (depending on the length of the novel and disruptions to my writing schedule). When the first draft is complete, I take it through a major revision using a method based on Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course. After that, it goes out to the test readers, then I take it through another major revision based on their feedback. Then I do a revision to refine things like description and dialogue and any plot points I’m still struggling with, then another editing pass to polish up the prose, followed by a couple of proofreading rounds. Then I format the book and put it up for sale!


Thanks for joining me this week, and be sure to check out next week’s stops on the Writing Process Blog Hop:

John James Loftus is the author of Celtic Blood. He has been interested in medieval history since seeing a book with a cover detailing the battle of Agincourt. The book engaged his imagination, and drew him to the period. He has one novel to date and a co-credit as a feature film writer, Underdog’s Tale. He was in the Queensland Police Service for ten years reaching the rank of senior constable. A former Karate instructor, he is a past Queensland champion. He lives in Brisbane with his wife and two children.

Heather Heffner is an avid fan of fantasy/science fiction books, the longer the better! She is the author of the urban fantasy Changeling Sisters Series and the dark fantasy Afterlife Chronicles.

And if you still can’t get enough, I came across another Writing Process blog tour post today, by Dyane Forde. Check it out!