The Writing Process Blog Tour

 

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Whether it was songs about homeless people I’d see through the car window of my mother’s gold Windstar minivan, or stories on time travel I’d write sitting in the back of math class, as the rest of the students evaluated expressions and fractions.

On November 14th 2013 I published my first book, Tales of a Sevie, a story on the highs and lows of junior high school, told through a series of handwritten notes passed between friends. It is the first book in my series Life As We Note It. Through this publication, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and connect with dozens of authors and writers of every genre from all around the world. One of those lovely writers is Nancy Petralia, author of Not in a Tuscan Villa which she wrote with her husband John about their time spent in Italy. I’m so grateful to have worked with Nancy through social media and am thankful she invited me to join her in this blog tour on the writing process. Read more about Nancy and John on their blog http://notinatuscanvilla.com/blog-3/.

The Writing Process Blog Tour is similar to a chain letter in the fact that it creates a domino effect as it links and passes from writer to writer through their blogs. It’s a chance for writers to connect, support one another, and talk about how and what they write, all by answering FOUR basic questions about the writing process.

Here we go! :)

1.)   What am I currently working on?

I am actually trying to juggle 5 projects at this time and am in the beginning stages of all of them. I’m working on putting together 3 books of poetry (one geared towards teens, one for college students, and another for young adults). I’m also putting together an experimental art book that will be a collection of quotes, poetry, journal entries, and paintings, while also working on The Middle Class, the second book in the Life As We Note It series.

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

I’d like to think my latest book, Tales of a Sevie, has a very unique and substantial voice of young teen girls. I also think the format differs from a lot of other middle grade books, being that it is told from the point of view of 4 best friends and their handwritten notes to one another.

3.)   Why do I write what I do?

I have a special attachment to the teenage years because I think it’s such a fascinating time of transition. While being pumped up on hormones and extreme emotion, we often have to deal with situations we probably aren’t mentally mature enough to handle at that time. I think teens have a lot to say, in a different way than adults do, and I’d like to keep those voices alive.

4.)   How does your writing process work?

Honestly it’s been different for every book I write. Often an idea of mine will be inspired by a dream. First thing the next morning I’ll began outlining. Other times I’ll outline and plan in my head for weeks, sometimes months, without writing a single word down. Then, when I’m ready to write, I’ll dive right in. The only real constant I’ve noticed in my writing process is all of my work is very character driven. I tend to develop and get to know my characters before anything else. Once I’m clear on who they are, what they do, and what they want, it’s easy for me to develop a plot from there.

As I mentioned earlier, The Writing Process Blog Tour is about connecting with other writers. I have asked Carol Cooper, Mark Weir, and Gertrude Martins to grab the baton from me to continue this tour. You can read more about them below.

Carol Cooper

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Carol Cooper is a doctor, journalist and author in London. Her racy romantic novel One Night at the Jacaranda comes after a string of non-fiction books, including an award-winning medical textbook (2013), co-authored with colleagues.

Her blog Pills and Pillow-Talk  http://pillsandpillowtalk.com is about what she does when she’s not being a doctor. Carol enjoys living abroad and loves to travel. Other loves are her cat and her new husband, not necessarily in that order.

Mark Weir

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Even as a small boy Mark always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until he reached middle age that he took it seriously. Mark started to write and found that he couldn’t stop. He wrote for two hours a night and longer on the weekends. Soon, he had enough material for four books and began the publishing process. His new novel, Randall Crane and the Whitechapel Horror, is due out in the late spring in e-book format and paperback. You can read more about Mark and his books on his blog http://markweirauthor.moonfruit.com/blog/4583196172.

Gertrude Martins 

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Gertrude Martins is an Indo-Canadian who’s resided in Canada for the past twenty-seven years. In Toronto, she’s worked as a vice principal and for the Toronto Catholic District School Board for twenty-one years. She’s since been retired for three years, giving her the time and discipline to fulfill her dream of writing. Gertrude often writes under the pen name Geetha Patel. You can find more information on Geetha and her first novel Song of the Koel on her blog http://www.geethapatel.com/news–blog.html.

 

Please look for Carol, Mark, and Gertrude’s posts next Monday May 5 on their blogs to read about their work and their routines when it comes to the writing process.

Interview with J. Conrad Guest

Happy Wednesday everyone! This week’s interviewee is the one and only, J. Conrad Guest. J.’s novels are about everyday people dealing with the universal ideals of love, loss, regret, and death, along with the emotions associated with those ideals. His work is “gritty, entertaining, and real.” He is said to write romance for the non-romantic.

Personal: Getting to know the Author: jconradguest022

What inspired you to write your first book?

JCG: My first novel, January’s Paradigm, written more than 20 years ago, was the result of a bloodied and bruised heart. What started as therapy turned into a labor of love: if I couldn’t find the proverbial happily ever after for myself, then I would write one for my alter ego.

When I reached the halfway point, I realized it was a project I likely would finish, so I shared with my dad that I was writing a novel. He loved reading, to the point where he named his only son for his favorite author—Joseph Conrad. Imagine my dismay when he asked me what I was doing wasting my time on such an endeavor. I was at that time unemployed, and he felt I should be spending every available waking hour looking for work. It was a stressful time in my life, and working on January’s Paradigm gave me a place of refuge, a world where I was in control of what happened. It taught me a lot about myself, and helped me to heal. It was also a wonderful distraction from the frustration of changing not only jobs, but careers as well. In the end, when Dad read the first draft, he was pleased.

What do you think your books offer that others in the same genre do not?

JCG: In a publishing world that likes everything to fit neatly into a box, my work defies genres. The Cobb Legacy is a mystery written around the shooting death of baseball legend Ty Cobb’s father by his mother. It takes place a century later and follows the life of a writer coming to terms with his adulterous affair and impending divorce, while trying to connect with his dying father, a World War II veteran.

500 Miles to Go, another sports-themed tale and due to launch later this year, is about the importance of, and the risks associated with, the pursuit of dreams.

One Hot January and January’s Thaw, successors to January’s Paradigm, compose a science fiction diptych in which Germany has won World War II. A time travel yarn, OHJ and JT are my tribute to Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled detective genre. Joe January is described as an indignant Humphrey Bogart. The first book takes place in 1947 New York City; but by the end, January is transported a hundred years into the future, where he must survive on his outdated sagacity as he tries to return to his own time and the woman he loves but lacked the courage to tell.

A Retrospect in Death is a journey in self-discovery. The story starts with a man’s death, and the reader is taken to the other side of the Great Divide, where the narrator encounters his higher self, the part of him that is connected to the Creator. Much to his chagrin, the narrator learns he must return to the lifecycle, but not before being debriefed. So he and his higher self set about recounting his life, but in reverse chronological order, knowing the end and searching for the breadcrumbs along the way to account for his discontent.

Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings is a pseudo autobiography. I started with my youthful dream to play major league baseball; but where I allowed my parents to steer me down another path, Backstop goes against his parents’ wishes to make his dream come true.

I’m currently shopping my eighth novel, A World Without Music, about a veteran of the first Gulf War suffering PTSD seeking to find the music that will make his life worth living.

I mix and match genres, even if all of them deal with relationships—between men and women, and fathers and sons.

My fiction appeals to readers who seek something more than what traditional genre fiction offers: the bodice-ripper romance, hard science fiction, formula mysteries.

What is your favorite aspect of the writing process? Where do you find your inspiration? What motivates you?

JCG: I love the creative process. Early on in my literary career, I fretted over publication. Each rejection letter resulted in my questioning my resolve as well as my ability, and my writing suffered for it. It was easy to let days and weeks go by without setting down a single word. When I finally learned to enjoy the process and let go of the fear of rejection, I became a writer. Perhaps not so surprisingly, once I did, publication soon followed.

I find inspiration in writing about everyday people going about their everyday lives and dealing with everyday issues: love and loss, regret and redemption. A reader once said of my work, “Gritty, entertaining… real. Romance for the non-romantic.” I count that as one of the nicest comments about my work I’ve gotten. I find that writing about everyday people teaches me a lot about myself, and what could be more inspirational than that?

As for what motivates me… well, I’m motivated by a need to connect with readers as well as a love for language. I’ve found nothing more gratifying than arranging words on a blank monitor, knowing I’ve crafted a great sentence, an exchange of dialogue, or a scene. Of course, a cup of good coffee and a fine cigar go a long way to jump start me in the morning.

Books, Writings, and Routines:

Have you won any awards for your writing?

JCG: Backstop was nominated a 2010 Michigan Notable Book, while the Lewis Department of Humanities at the Illinois Institute of Technology adopted it as required reading for one of their spring 2011 courses—Baseball: America’s Literary Pastime.

A short story of mine that appears in a Second Wind anthology was nominated for a Pushcart.

Do your books seem to revolve around the same morals and themes?

JCG: That’s a definite yes! I’ve found many people averse to morals; many seem to think morals are those things others place on us—like the Bible telling us not to covet our neighbor’s wife. Who am I tell someone infidelity is wrong? I think we’ve gotten too attached to our personal rights, to the point of excluding the rights of others.

The January books in particular deal with the oppression of women. Fresh from 1947, Joe January notes that women of the twenty-first century are more oppressed than the women of his era. They allow themselves to be used sexually under the guise of freedom. In other words, freedom without accountability results in oppression of a different kind.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

JCG: For A Retrospect in Death I opened a vein and bled profusely, relying on certain autobiographical events in my life, fictionalized to protect the innocent. While it was difficult, especially recounting events from my youth, I found it wonderfully therapeutic, and found much closure and healing.

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Do you recommend any “tricks” or tips on how to get through writer’s block?

JCG: I’ve experienced writer’s block only once. It was while I was writing One Hot January, my second novel. My parents both took ill and eventually passed away, which left me orphaned and grieving; but I was struggling with the plot, too. When I got a chance to go to New York City, which is the setting of the story, I jumped at the chance. I visited a number of places that Joe January frequents, and I hoped to catch up with him, figuratively. When I got home I wrote a piece of flash fiction in which the character catches up with his author in Central Park. After that, I caught fire and finished both January books in fairly short order.

These days I never encounter writer’s block. That’s not to say I don’t experience days where I might flounder, but I’ve learned a few tricks to minimize those days. For one, I try to finish a writing session in the middle of a scene or an exchange of dialogue. That leaves me anxious to start my next session because I know exactly where I’m picking up.

Publishing:

How are your books published? Do you self-publish or go through a publishing company? In your opinion, what are the advantages and/or disadvantages of each?

JCG: All of my novels, save for January’s Paradigm, are published through independent presses. It’s nearly impossible for writers who aren’t household names to get published by one of the Big Six, perhaps more so for authors like me who don’t write to a formula.

Self-publishing is both a boon and bane. Yes, it allows many writers the chance to have their voice heard; but it also allows them to do an end around to learning craft. I recently learned that the new publishing model is simply to upload your book and let your readers tell you what’s wrong with it. Then you revise, upload, and repeat the process until a major publisher picks up your work. To me, that’s simply wrong. E.L. James proved it’s possible to win the lotto, but that just doesn’t happen very often. It gives new writers a false sense of hope. Actors learn their craft; athletes spend years playing their sport for a chance to make it as a pro. Writing is no different. There are no shortcuts to success. But in America, we’re all about instant gratification. Get more than three rejection letters, and self-publish. The end result is that there are a lot of poorly written books available, which only makes it more difficult for the cream to rise to the top.

Social Networking and Marketing:

As an author, how do you feel about social networking? Have you been able to use it to your advantage? If yes, how so?

JCG: I keep reading of the importance of social networking. I understand that E.L. James parlayed her social network to become a bestseller. I sure would like to know how she did it, because I haven’t come close to the success she achieved.

Publishers are now asking upfront about a writer’s social network. I network on Facebook, where I have an author page, and have profiles on Goodreads and LinkedIn. At LinkedIn I participate in a number of author groups, but I don’t see that it’s helped much.

Every author is networking. Many of my Facebook friends are writers; I “like” them and they “like” me, but I haven’t noticed that it translates to sales, even though I’m told consumers tend to purchase based on number of “likes.” I don’t know if that can be proven, because I certainly don’t buy a book based on popularity. If I use Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature and don’t like what I see, a thousand “likes” won’t get me to buy. I don’t buy my Facebook writer friends’ work any more than they buy mine. I want to get my work in front of consumers, and I’m not sure how to accomplish that.

Marketing and self-promotion, for me, is the most difficult part of my writing life. I’m sure I could do more, but I’m not good at it. I’ve talked to writers who claim to spend more time marketing than writing. I’d rather spend my time writing than promoting. If I could afford it, I’d hire a publicist; but they’re very expensive and expect payment upfront, not results based. After spending hundreds of hours writing, revising and polishing a book, an investment of time with no monetary reward, I’m asked to outlay a thousand dollars or more for services for which there is no guarantee for results.

Where and how are your books sold?

JCG: My books are sold, in e-format and trade back, at Amazon, Second Wind Publishing, and Pulse Publishing.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

JCG: I understand the theory behind giving away books—give away something in hopes of enticing sales down the road. One of my publishers rotates giveaways for all his authors, and I receive notice of each download of my titles. They are copious; but whether it translates to sales of my other novels, I can’t say. Frankly, I’d rather my publisher give away a partial file, say half of the content, to get the consumer hooked, then make them purchase the remainder to find out what happens. Of course, this would mean more work creating another downloadable file, but I think it would be financially beneficial to both my publisher and me.

In Conclusion:

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively over the years as a writer?

JCG: I’m still learning my craft; each new project teaches me something new. As evolution goes, I think the process is much easier. Like an exercise routine, the more you work, the more you want to work, and the easier the work gets. I’ve streamlined the process. Early on I agonized for an hour over a single sentence, selecting the right words and making sure they were in the right place, moving punctuation. Now I trust myself, and it comes easier. That’s not to say I don’t give myself permission to make changes later; but it’s no longer the battle it once was.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

JCG: You can learn more about my literary world at my website and by simply Googling “J. Conrad Guest.” Please consider signing my guest book on my website. I write to connect with readers and find that’s a good way to measure with whom I connect. I promise I won’t spam!

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Interview with Author Renee Novelle

This Wednesday I warmly welcome my featured guest, Renee Novelle, who is best known for her psychological thrillers and paranormal fiction.

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Formerly a freelance journalist, R.S. Novelle has found placement of 75 of her pieces in both online and print publications since 2008. Additionally, she has written multiple screenplays, and contributed her effective writing style to many non-profit and profit organizations. She has launched several blogs over the years, which garnered international attention.

In 2013, Novelle returned to her first love – fiction. Writing under the names Renee Novelle and R.S. Novelle, she has a publication schedule that includes psychological thrillers, suspense, paranormal fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, chick lit, and new adult.

Though she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Communication, Summa Cum Laude, she considers herself a constant student of the written word. She’s an avid reader, an enthusiastic quote poster, and rarely takes “no” as a final answer. She has an unhealthy obsession for theater, dance, music and art, and strongly believes that wine is simultaneously the beginning of, and resolution to, all of life’s problems. She believes in following dreams, and that in the end, you always end up where you’re meant to be.

Renee’s latest novel, REFLECTIONS, is a short paranormal suspense story, with just a touch of a romantic element.

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Synopsis:

Graham had a simple life: A job he enjoyed, a wife that he loved, and a young son that kept each and every day full of surprises. But when his father passed away unexpectedly, he inherited a family heirloom that would begin to…complicate matters.

A mirror that had been in his family for generations, Graham quickly found that its reflections were out of the ordinary, and that it had prophetic powers beyond his comprehension. Giving him just a momentary glance at souls who were on the knife’s edge of life and death, it was up to him to try to save them as they were thrust unknowingly into his path.

Finding a way to balance his daily life with this newfound responsibility was proving arduous enough, but when the mirror begins showing him reflections of his own family, Graham finds his world irretrievably changed. Will he be able to save them, or will he be forced to live with the same regret that so many have suffered before him?

Getting to know the Author:

How long have you been a writer?

RN: Technically, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember! But I never really took it too seriously until I hit my twenties, and I discovered that writing could be a career in addition to a hobby. I kind of detoured my path to do journalism for a couple years. And while it paid the bills, I always felt as though something was missing creatively for me. So, I’ve recently returned to fiction and haven’t looked back since. I think it’s the best decision I could’ve made for myself.

Which topics do you enjoy writing about most and why?

RN: Oh, so many! I have so many stories that I want to tell, or issues that I believe in that I feel need to be brought to light. I’m constantly torn between wanting to write the light and happy and entertaining stories, and the dark and controversial ones. I think that’s why I’ve chosen to write across so many genres, to satisfy all those aspects. I really enjoy the challenge of writing a psychological or paranormal thriller with intricate plot twists. But then to balance it out, I feel like I need to write something lighter. So that becomes fun then too.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

RN: I LOVE anything that has to do with the arts – plays, dance performances, operas, gallery openings, art festivals, concerts – I’m completely addicted to attending those kinds of things. I’m a big yoga enthusiast and really enjoy time spent on the beach. If you can combine those two things together, even better! I also love shopping and fashion (who doesn’t!), I’m a pretty big foodie so I love trying new unique restaurants, and I’ll never turn down a good martini or quality glass of wine.

Do you have a favorite motivational phrase?

RN: I’m a bit of a quote enthusiast, but one of my favorites is “You’ll never know how far you can fly, until you spread your wings and fly.” And it’s so true! If you want to succeed in something, you have to dare to jump into it. I think one of the biggest things that holds people back is themselves.

Books, Writings, and Routines:

What books have you written?

RN: As of this October (2013), I’ve published two psychological thriller books and a paranormal suspense novella. In the coming months, I plan to release a new adult light romance, and I have a long publication schedule already set for 2014.

In your latest book, is there a specific message that you want readers to grasp?

RN: I think the overall message is to act with compassion towards all other people. We never know when our last moment may be, and if we can be open to helping others, instead of closed off and indifferent to strangers, we may make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Do you recommend any “tricks” or tips on how to get through writer’s block?

RN: Ugh, the dreaded writer’s block! For me personally, I’ve found that just stepping away for a little while, or even a few days, usually does the trick. I explore another story all together, meditate, do something fun and out of my routine. And that seems to put writer’s block in check and get the creative juices flowing again.

Social Networking and Marketing:

As an author, how do you feel about social networking? Have you been able to use it to your advantage? If yes, how so?

RN: I think that for authors today, social media is absolutely vital. It’s the easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to spread the word quickly about your projects, and it’s a pretty effective way to stay in touch with readers. I’m on almost every site – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Shelfari, Pinterest, Instagram, etc and I always encourage my readers to connect with me everywhere. I think this goes a long way in building relationships with readers, and it gives different people avenues they can use to recommend you or your work to their friends.

In Conclusion:

Do you have any advice for other writers or new authors?

RN: Practice, practice, practice! Don’t wait for inspiration, just get started. And use absolutely every opportunity to write that you can – a journal, an article, a blog entry, a book. The more you write, even if just for fun, the more you’ll learn about your style. And when you’re ready to try releasing something into the world for others to read, make sure it’s the most polished it can possibly be.

Most importantly, if writing is your dream, don’t ever give up on that. Keep at it, and one day you’ll find success at it.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

RN: All of my information about my books and publishing schedule is on my website – www.RSNovelle.com. Readers can also visit my Facebook or Goodreads page to find my books and interact, or can sign up for my newsletter to get all the latest information.

Website: www.RSNovelle.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/R.S.-Novelle/e/B00EWLOKIG

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RSNovelle

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReneeNovelle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RS_Novelle

My Interview with Author Ashleigh Galvin

In honor of the launch of Tales of a Sevie last week, I am starting a weekly segment of author interviews that will be updated each Wednesday right here on my blog. :) My first guest is Australian author Ashleigh Galvin of the Amethyst Series.

Ashleigh Galvin Author

 Getting to know the Author:

How long have you been a writer?

AG: I wrote my first novel in Primary school. That was roughly 15 years ago now. Amazing how time flies.

What do you write? What draws you to this genre?

AG: I mostly write YA Fantasy. The reason is simply because this is my favorite genre to read. I read to escape reality which is just a little too boring some times. Add some dragons and now it’s interesting.

What do you think your books offer that others in the same genre do not?

AG: Birth By Fire’s Embrace gives a new angle on a classic Fantasy plot. By introducing fresh and a little quirky characters, it’s been a fantastic experience to write.

Where do you find your inspiration? What motivates you?

AG: Listening to music and going places I’ve never been before are two big ones. Earlier in the year I traveled to Japan and when I returned, I had a lot of inspiration for new stories.

Who are your favorite authors? Why do they inspire you?

AG: JK Rowling is a big one. Not so much for the writing but for how she inspired reading in a generation that was losing that gift.

Is writing your career? Are you writing full time or part time?

AG: Much to my annoyance, it’s currently part time. There is nothing worse than being at work when a bolt of inspiration strikes.

Do you have a favorite motivational phrase?

AG: “JUST DO IT!!!!!!!!!” Kidding. Not really. I find motivation comes from within and I’ve learnt that even if you have 0 motivation to write, you still have to so it makes no difference.

Books, Writings, and Routines:

What books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

AG: I’ve written two books so far (Birth By Fire’s Embrace and its sequel) and am working on a third. They are all in the Amethyst Series. My fav would have to be the one I’m currently working on. It’s been so much fun to write I almost can’t stop.

Birth By Fire's Embrace Cover

When you write (books) do you have a specific regimen? If so what is that routine?

AG: Nope. Just write write write. I like to keep track of word count to see if I can break my personal best for words written in a day. I think it’s currently at 6,000.

In your latest book, is there a specific message that you want readers to grasp?

AG: I don’t really write books to try and convey a lesson. My books are just good fun books that someone can come home after a hard day of work, sit down, relax and read a great story.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

AG: Coming to terms with the fact it was going to be out there in the public’s hands. Very scary.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about the series.

AG: Birth By Fire’s Embrace is the first book of the Amethyst Series. It follows Shar’s journey and it currently planned for roughly eight books.

How structured are you when writing? Do you draw an outline before beginning or do you enjoy writing freely from scratch? Or do you use another method?

AG: I do plan out each book before I start writing it. Having said that, the plan changes so often, the first draft is very different from the finished product.

Do you believe there is such a thing as writer’s block?

AG: To me, writers block means you haven’t planned your story well enough. You don’t know how to get your characters from point A to point B.

Do you recommend any “tricks” or tips on how to get through writer’s block?

AG: Two tricks I use. One is to just keep writing even if it sounds horrible. That’s what editing is for. The second is to take a step back and ask your character what they want to do. You’ll find their answer is exactly what you need.

Publishing:

How are your books published? Do you self-publish or go through a publishing company? In your opinion, what are the advantages and/or disadvantages of each?

AG: I was published through Spectacle Media Publishing Group and they have just been fantastic. The perk of a publishing company is that they do this every day. They know what they are doing when it comes to publishing a book. I don’t. I know how to write books. By combining strengths, we have the best chance of making the book as successful as possible. If I had self-published, I would have to worry about marketing and copyediting and design etc, instead of focusing on what I actually want to be doing, writing the next book.

In Conclusion:

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

AG: My website, facebook and twitter are below. I also write articles for the SPMG newsletter and link them to my website.

Official Website:          http://ashleighgalvin.wordpress.com/
Facebook:                      https://www.facebook.com/Ashleigh.Galvin.Author
Twitter:                           https://twitter.com/Ashleigh_Galvin