Last Monday, I was tagged by my awesome 2014 Golden Heart® finalist in the Young Adult category, Jessica Ruddick. Jessica is an English teacher who has a class full of beta readers at her disposal! Check her out at www.jessicaruddick.com.
And, now for me...
1. What am I working on?
The question should what am I not working on! I like to keep multiple projects going at once. So, I’m working on the first book in a new Regency series called TO KISS OR KILL about a lady astronomer and the mercenary hired to kill her. I’m also revising the third book in my Spies and Lovers Regency series called A RECKLESS REDEMPTION. And, lastly, I’m working on a third ER novella, as yet unnamed, loosely connected to my first Regency, AN INDECENT INVITATION. The ER is mainly for fun and since it’s a lot of smexy time, I can pound out the words in no time. (Yes, that’s right, I went there:)
And, sometime this summer I should get edit suggestions from my agent on my Southern contemporary, HONEYSUCKLE SEASON. With the kids out of school, fitting the work in over the summer should be an interesting challenge.
2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
For one thing, I write contemporary and historical and ER. My historical voice is modern, and my contemporary voice is Southern. In all of them, I try to insert a certain amount of humor. Not slapstick, but the ironic, dark kind or the teasing, sexy kind.
But, I think (hope) that what makes my work standout are the characters. For me, the characters make a book. I want them to be memorable and compelling. My aspiration is for readers to want to reread passages that resonated with them, just I like reread favorite scenes from books on my keeper shelf. No matter how awesome and interesting a plot might be, I’ll walk away from a book if I don’t love the characters.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I grew up reading a whole gamut of styles and genres but cut my teeth on the gothic-style romance by Mary Stewart, Catherine Cookson, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Then, I graduated to filching my mom’s Harlequins and historicals. The first historical romance that I vividly remember is Judith McNaught’s Once and Always, but one of my very favorites is Julie Garwood’s The Bride. The romanticized Regency England I write about is fun and sexy and little dark at times.
Currently, in between all the romances, I read quite a few young adult (I have a ten-year-old son) and literary works. I’m a member of a kick-ass book club—holla!—and our choices never fail to push me out of my comfort zone. Not a lot of HEA’s in that pile!
(As an aside, some of favorite book club selections have been: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese)
4. How does your writing process work?
My process is in flux. For my first book, I had an idea of characters and had a scene in mind that would take place toward the middle of the book. So, I started there. What a nightmare! I do not recommend doing that. That book got rewritten/edited more times than I can count. I swore I would never, ever, ever do that again. (Isn’t that a Taylor Swift song?) Now, I generally have the characters, the first few scenes, and the last scene in mind. I buy spiral bound notebooks after they go on sale in the fall and have a notebook per book where I make notes on plot, dialogue, sometimes longhand entire scenes if I don’t have a computer available.
I would love to be a natural plotter, but damn you, glorious pants! I just can’t quit you! I’m learning to compromise. I’ll start a book (at the beginning) and then write a synopsis after I hit the 25-35k mark. Like reading the end of the book first (totally guilty), I have been known to jump ahead and write the last or climatic scene.
As far as my daily writing routine…when the kids are in school, I write pretty steadily from 8:30 to 1:30. I do have a daily goal of 3k words. I’m usually +/- 500 words from that. But, there’s still the grocery shopping, appointments, school commitments to fulfill that takes time away. In summer, I’m up at the butt-crack of dawn to get around three hours in before the kids stumble down for breakfast.
I’m still learning and improving, and as a result, my process changes as I assimilate new methods and information. I’m hoping one day I’ll love to plot, but there is something about getting lost with your characters and experiencing an a-ha moment right along with them. I’m not sure you can do that unless you’re writing while hanging onto the seat of your pants.