Friday, June 6, 2014

#MyWritingProcess

I was invited to participate in the #Mywritingprocess blog tour/hop by +Martin Conterez who you may remember from my Tell Me About It Tuesday feature, What Would Richard Simmons Write? He's got a lot of really great content on his blog, so you should go check it out.

I was asking to answer the following questions about #mywritingprocess

What am I working on right now?


           I wrote my first contemporary romance 4 years ago. I've spent a lot of time since then “polishing” it in terms of line edits, but I failed to realize my plot needed work. I've worked with a lot of critique partners on it but until a few months ago none of them told me the plot had issues. I've fixed those issues and ohmygodmybookisahundredtimesbetter. At this point I'm going over the whole thing, adding in some new flavor and waiting to hear back from an agent who has a partial. 


How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

      I write contemporary romance (and YA) and my characters are very real. Everyday people. People you would know, but with incredible love stories written around them. Also, while I consider my audience adult and not so much New Adult, my characters are mostly on the young side. Very early twenties. However, these aren't college stories. I'm really tired of those from the NA category and I hope that if I'm able to get published, NA readers will read my books. 


Why do I write what I do?

 This is an easy question for me. The main reason I write (aside from the voices in my head) is because there aren't enough romance books where I don't find myself scoffing at the character tropes. So many of the heroes are billionaires or FBI agents or underground cage fighters. I've enjoyed a few of those stories but quickly got bored with the repetition of those types of characters in so many books. It's easy to write a story around a billionaire. He can fly the heroine to exotic locals, have an evening dress delivered straight from Vera Wang, and to hurdle the final obstacle in winning her heart, all he has to do is change his playboy ways. Yawn. I want my hero to be an everyday guy and the harder he has to work, the better. For me, finding a novel with realistic characters is like finding a rare gem, and that's why I write what I write. 


How does my writing process work?



        My writing process has changed a lot, especially recently. When I first started writing, I was a pantser. My stories always start with the characters. A hero and heroine are born in my imagination and I spend a lot of time inventing their backstories in my mind. After I'd done that, I used to hit the keyboard and begin telling their present story without knowing where it was going to go. This has always led to weak plots for me. For Nanowrimo 2012, I was anxious to start writing the YA novel I’d dreamt up characters a loose story idea for, but I had about a week to wait. For the first time, I plotted. I filled out a very bare bones 7 point story structure outline. That novel is hands down the most successful story I've written. As of now, I'm still not a thorough plotter. I write down my 7 points but sometimes I leave one or two blank, to be filled in later. I also do GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) boards for all of my characters. All of this is a huge help throughout writing a manuscript but I'm still holding onto my pantser roots. I don't do chapter outlines. A lot of times I don't know how I'm going to get a character for point A to B. Also, I spend just as much time learning about the craft as I do actually writing. As writers I don't think we should ever become comfortable or think we know enough.  

Next week on the Blog Tour the following writer's will be answering these same questions:

Jenna-Lynne Duncan graduated with degrees in Political Science, International Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. She is the author of the young adult series Hurricane. She is currently working on a fourth Hurricane novel as well as another YA series. Besides writing, Jenna-Lynne likes children and travelling. Preferably together.  
To know more about Jenna-Lynne, please visit her website at www.Jenna-Lynne.com

Author social media links:
Twitter: @JennaLynneD or www.Twitter.com/JennaLynneD


A.J. Bell was born and raised in Coahuila, México. Although her city, Monclova used to be the Capitol of Coahuiltexas, literally speaking she was not born in Texas but became an official Texan as soon as she could! The Lone Star State is her home now and where she resides with her three kids.
Just like most women, she claims all the chocolaty goodness that enters her home and considers eating chocolate a great tool to keep her life running smooth. She loves to sit down and read a good and entertaining book specially if there is a good amount of Romance and Adventure in it.
The Everlands Chronicles is her first published novel and she would love to hear what you think about it, so please drop a line or two about your thoughts and feelings about her story.

Link:


Thursday, February 6, 2014

M.D. Waters and Archetype: the Next Big Thing

This is one of my most anticipated moments of 2014—celebrating the release day for Archetype by M.D. Waters (who just happens to be my critique partner). Totally bragging. Get over it.


"Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during her daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman, and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.
In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which…"


I met Misty (M.D.) through Maryland Romance Writers. By some stroke of fate we ended up in the same critique group. At the time Misty had recently gotten a contract through Dutton for her debut novel, Archetype. While I had been critiquing another WIP of Misty's, she asked if I would read Archetype and critique Prototype (Archetype's sequel) as she wrote it.

I didn't really expect Archetype to wow me the way it did. The best part was that while I read it, I could text or tweet Misty whenever I wanted to talk about the book. About every other tweet/text I sent went something like, "Oh my God, I can't believe you wrote this."  It's one of those books that when you recommend it to people, the only thing you can think to say is, "It's sooooooooo good."

Misty has taught me a lot about writing, especially plot development, but while I have the luxury of being able to pick her brain whenever I want, I realize the rest of you aren't so lucky. Sorry folks, she's mine and you can't have her.  You can, however, gain some insights from the interview I did with her.



  • When did you first really say, “I want to be a writer.”?

    • I’m not sure I ever did! When I first got the itch in high school, I kept it very much to myself because my dad was very against the idea of someone becoming an artist or writer. Not that he doesn’t have an appreciation, because he very much does. He has a lot of respect for artists. BUT he’s also seen a lot of struggling artists, so it was like a glaring warning in my house.

  • We both know writing isn’t a solitary effort.  We brainstorm with our critique partner and our husbands.  If we’re struggling with a scene or a plot point, or in the case of you and me, a character’s attire, we reach out to our “team” for help or answers.  For those writers who don’t have a team, do you have any advice for going about building one?

    • Social Media! I met my first critique partners (Jodi, Tracy, and Charissa) on our blogs through commenting. I’ve since met other writers in my writing group (Maryland Romance Writers), as you know. But starting a conversation with someone can happen anywhere. Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr or even Google+. You then just have to be brave enough to share.

  • You’ve told me you’ve taken several workshops, as well as read many books on the craft of writing cover to cover.  Which workshop was the most beneficial?  If you could recommend just one book, what would it be?

    • I think that’s impossible to narrow down to one. All aspects of writing are as important as the next. Every workshop was necessary and eye opening. As was every book I picked up. Each has there own merits, and we’ll all take away something different. 

  • How much did Archetype change from the version that landed you your agent, to the version that is now published?  Were there things you were asked to change?  If so, was there anything you refused to change?

    • It’s almost the same, believe it or not. The changes were minor. VERY minor. A name change and one additional scene were requested from my agent, Jennifer Weltz. Then when my editor, Denise Roy, got it, she asked we add a little subplot to Dr. Travista’s character. Each request barely touched the version I submitted.

  • The main character and narrator in Archetype, Emma, wakes up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there or who she is.  We’re only given her point of view, and as a reader we’re piecing together the puzzle with her throughout the book.  As the writer, you knew who the bad guys and the good guys were, but you constantly threw in little details to keep the reader in doubt.  Any advice on how to do this?

    • Cross your fingers. I honestly was in fear of messing this up the entire time I was writing it. The one thing I wish I’d thought of while doing it was to keep a spreadsheet or something similar to track the information dropped. It was difficult to remember what I’d allowed Emma to know versus what I knew, or what Declan knew, or what Noah knew. It was all very confusing. I swear it was a miracle I made it through that novel.


  • Archetype is set in the future, but as someone who is often turned off by futuristic sci-fi, I found it realistic in a way that kept me reading.  It wasn’t far-fetched, but it was imaginative enough to make me wonder, “what if?”.  I could see the future being the way it is in Archetype so much that it took my breath away.  How did you keep the balance between reality and fantasy?

    • I’m not sure. I saw the entire story like a movie, and I love futuristic sci-fi movies. Especially those where everything looks totally normal to us, but then a hologram appears. There are some movies that get gadget heavy, and make the living situation crazy, but I wanted this to feel clean and welcoming. I wanted this to be a novel everyone would want to read, not just the hardcore sci-fi readers. 

    You can read more about M.D. Waters at http://mdwatersauthor.com/