How I Work (or don’t, depending)

Michelle Moore (of Ylendrian Empire and Enchanted Grounds fame) tagged me for the Writing Process blog hop.

The questions are:
1) What am I working on?
2) How does my work differ from that of others in the same genre?
3) Why do I write what I do?
4) How does my writing process work?

A note before you start, however: I’m going to use a LOT of parenthetical asides and probably some odd capitalization. Sorry?

Without further ado, the talking:

1) What am I working on?

I have a handful of projects in progress at any given time, some written because they won’t leave me alone otherwise and some inspired by calls for submission.

Currently, I’m still trying to slog my way to the end of A Reading From The Epistles, the semi-sequel to I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills. (I say ‘semi-sequel’ because it’s set about a month or 6 weeks after the end of ILUMETTH and feels more like a continuation than an actual sequel. It’s probably Just Me.) Since I’m not making much progress at the moment, I’m really excited to write about writing instead.

I’ve also been poking at a revision of some of the elements in my Breton Farmer And His Former Welsh Pirate (former pirate; he continues to be Welsh) story, as well as the previously-mentioned Cyberpunk Thing (it lacks one vital element, namely a plot) and a more-or-less complete rewrite of a story I wrote way back in 2009 that was wisely rejected by the publisher to whom I sent it.

In terms of things I haven’t worked on but probably shoooould, there’s also this Dragon Thing, a couple of quasi-steampunk stories set in the same universe and sharing characters but the focuses are different, The One With The Hockey Players, a couple of Havothi-centered stories, The NOLA Thing (which is in almost-done limbo), the sequels to First Flight and Tobias’s Own Adventure, and a story that was supposed to feature a feral teenager but ended up being about an involuntary shapeshifter instead.

I also have a bunch of other stuff that’s mostly snips and drabbles, but the preceding paragraph mentions things that are more than a few pages long.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I generally work in the field of ‘romance’, in that a relationship between the protagonists is usually the focus of/driving element of the plot (or what there is of the plot). Where my work differs from that of other authors… I’ve never really mastered the art of writing characters that need to be hugged and whacked with a shoe at the same time, unlike Michelle and Reesa or Amy Lane. So there’s that.

Another, somewhat smaller difference is that I like writing magical realism and alternate histories—the world as we know it with a twist.

3) Why do I write what I do?

There are several reasons –

I write what I do because I believe that the more love and positivity in the world, the better.

I write what I do because sometimes I get an idea and it won’t leave me alone until I’ve written it down. This is not always a good thing, as I have a bunch of things I’ve started/written out and then nothing else comes of it. Well, I got to go to sleep, but otherwise…

Last but not least, I write what I do because I can’t write anything else. I’ve tried writing a standard Harlequin/Mills & Boon-type romance and I just…can’t do it. I don’t know how to write an “alpha male”, and based on the few parts of standard romance novels I’ve managed to read I don’t write heroines properly, either. I can’t say I’m terribly upset about that, however.

I just write my kind of romances, mixing it up with various genres, with characters all of whom have a different definition of romance, and I’m happy. Other people like them, too, so, y’know. It works.

4) How does your writing process work?

I am, for the most part, a complete pantser. If I know what happens next—at least in minute detail—then I’m bored and don’t want to write it. If I’m bored, I avoid writing it because it’s boring and feels like work. That’s not really much of an explanation, though.

Basically, it goes like this: I have an idea, whether it pops into my head while I’m minding my own business or I read a call for submission. I sit down and write whatever I can, which can be from one to thirty-five pages. Then, if that was all there was, I move on to something else; if it’s really eating my brain, I’ll keep going.

I don’t usually work from an outline or a summary or anything like that—it just works better for me if I find out what’s happening along with my characters. I will occasionally write notes about what I want (or need) to have happen, and I do have lists of things that I want to write about, but otherwise it’s all just a blank slate.

I also edit as I go, rereading what I’ve written so far and making the odd tweak here and there. With some things, I read them out loud to a willing audience and get feedback that way; with others I email them to Michelle and Reesa for their amusement.

When I’m done, I generally try to stay away from a story for a little while. It doesn’t always work, though… Then I run a last spell-check, look for missing words/punctuation, format it for submission, write the submission email, press send, and then freak out/collapse for a couple of days.

It’s not glamorous or all that exciting, really, but I generally enjoy it.

I’m going to tag Piper Vaughn and M. J. O’Shea for the next post—They also write stories with characters who need to be hugged and smacked with a shoe at the same time. (I have A Thing for those sorts of characters, can you tell?)

It never ends. (Or: A Peek Into How My Mind Works)

In the course of Tristan making a joke about Bastille Day, I thought I’d better double-check to make sure I had my dates/events straight in my head. Lucky me, the whole storming-the-Bastille thing took place in 1789.

Wait, 1789? I went scrambling off, thinking I was going to have to be concerned about getting Tristan’s escape from the French Revolution just right, and then I suddenly realized that it would have been over– No. I just checked. Crap! The Revolution wasn’t over until Napolean showed up in 1799. Argh.

I go from one war to another. If Tristan is (15-16, 16-17, 17-18) when he leaves for and then arrives in the nascent US, then he was born, let’s see, he gets there in 1814, so if his birthday was somewhere between the middle of January and the middle of April, then he’d have been born anywhere from 1797-1799. Which means that no matter how you slice it, depending on where he was born, there’s going to be war and bloodshed in the kid’s surroundings. (And now I’m wondering what I did with my copy of the Les Mis soundtrack. I was actually exposed to it via my high school choir director, who gave us a medley of Do You Hear The People Sing and…one of the sad ones, I think the one about the castle in the sky, to sing.)

And all of this over a joke. I still don’t know what the most common breed of draft horse was in the US at the time, either.

Edited to add: AND I just found out that one of the things that happened during the French Revolution was that the whole master-apprentice thing got tossed out. Anyone could join a trade as long as they got the right license. *Grumble* *Blink* But that doesn’t mean that people forgot about it, and it doesn’t mean that it actually happened overnight… And besides, Tristan’s parents wanted him away from certain “undesirable elements” anyhow, so it all works out. Okay, then.

Second Edit: Hm. Upon noting that France went to war with Austria (who was then supported by the Prussians), about the time that a 17-18-year-old Tristan would have been born… I’m about ready to throw up my hands and decide to move the Dupont family to Spain or Belgium or something. (Aaaaand now that I think of it, since the US didn’t want anything to do with French or British imports, it would probably be easier on Tristan if he boarded a Belgian/Dutch ship and sailed off, instead of having to do the whole Spain-Florida-Louisiana thing. Hmm.)