Monday, January 27, 2014

My Writing Process

Today is "My Writing Process" blog tour day, when writers answer questions about their writing process. Last week, fellow author Felicia Rogers posted hers. You can read it HERE and learn about Felicia's books. She invited me, in turn, to post about my process. Thank you, Felicia!

My Writing Process

Once I can tear myself away from the other things demanding my time, I sit with my laptop on a floral loveseat in my English writing room. It is a lovely space (or was till hubby and tax season got involved). I have a ceramic bust on a piece of furniture, a large portrait on the wall, prints of Blue Boy and Pinky hanging behind me, a Coat of Arms (sadly not my own) plaque, a frilly Victorian parasol, and a pirate flag and megaphone from our production of Pirates of Penzance--to name a few of the decor objects in the room.

What I am Working On

After completing and launching Companion, Skylark was already down on virtual paper in part. I thought it would be done as quickly, but I started on a project that took on a life of its own--a busy one. That is the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. Though many other authors write most of the daily posts, I manage the blog, do some editing, and run some associated Facebook groups.

One of the authors, Deborah Swift, suggested that we take select posts from the first year of the blog and make an anthology. That idea developed, and Volume One of Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors has been published. The huge number of hours involved in that have been well worth it--the book has been well received, and we have begun work on a Volume II.

Therefore, For the Skylark has taken me not one, not two, but three years to this date. And it is not done.

This might be me not writing.
Linda Collison recently tweeted that she wanted to hold a histfic writer's retreat in Hawaii--which heavenly state I love. I couldn't go. But Linda suggested we do a virtual retreat, and I was more than all for that. So we have put together a blog with plans for a retreat for the months of February and March (histfic authors are invited!). I'm going to, at last, finish Skylark! I already have the next book, a Skylark sequel, The Duke of Mendenwood, down in brief form. And two more books in that hoped-for series are bouncing around in my head, the fourth to be set in 19th-century Hawaii on a sugar plantation.

How My Work Differs From Others in the Genre

Companion has been called a "fun read". Skylark has its fun sections but is more dramatic, and it has been called poetic in style. While my books are lightly romantic, the main plot of the story is the development of questions that need answers--like Jane Austen stories with suspense and a surprise ending.

Why I Write What I Do

For the Skylark's Evangeline
Or possibly Christine Robertson's
Portret Orlovoi Davidovoi
Companion was written in part to rebel against the modern tell-all stories I always saw in the grocery store. I wanted to show that a story could be good and fun without being embarrassing to the reader. My books will never grace the grocery store. They also had to be English historical novels. That is what I love and must write.

How My Writing Process Works

I once attended a book signing, and because I wanted to take notes on the author's speech, I bought a beautiful little journal with a metallic design on the cover. The author wrote her email address down in the journal for me, which pleased me to no end. After the notes and her email address, there were many blank pages remaining. I saved that lovely book for some time, wanting to use the later pages for something very special.

The need made itself known.

When I am planning out a story, I can think all day and get nowhere. But once I go to bed and try to sleep, the ideas begin to flow. I learned the hard way that wonderful ideas slept upon disappear into thin air or get whisked away and probably plagarized by shady dream characters. My pretty journal was put next to the bed and is now full of ideas for The Companion of Lady Holmeshire, some used and some not, and for For the Skylark. There are even notes for the distant future The Household Rules of an English Gentleman. When I'm famous, it will be an in-demand collector's item. Alternately, lol, it could be passed down in the family.

I need to know where my story is going before I start on the manuscript. Once I have it in bits in the journal and taking form in my head, I begin to write the book, totalling only a few pages, in paragraphs--each of which is later developed into a chapter. So before I begin with any dialogue or descriptive phrases, the whole story is written, beginning, middle, and end, in brief. Once that is done, it feels pleasant to hit the keyboard and bring forth personality, drama, and humor with no worries about where the story is going.

Until one of the characters defies me. Oh yes. It is usually the leading male who takes off in his own direction, though Skylark's Evangeline is pretty moody, and she can go off on a tangent, too. But we have a deal. They can do what they wish as long as the story ends the way it is meant to end. So far, so good.

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for images.

Next week visit Judith Arnopp to learn of her writing process!


  1. I'm looking forward to our Writers Retreat in Hawaii, Debra! Soon we'll be working on our individual novels together, while facilitating a virtual conference, Aloha Across the Centuries. Thanks for all of your support and ideas. Oh, and I related to your anecdote about buying the lovely journal to write notes in. Aloha!

  2. I have a journal now too - not fancy and with no email address from a favorite author. But it will be used for character development, ideas and some writing. I need to get this out of my head! It was awesome to have glimpse of your process.

  3. Thanks, Linda and Coach-Daddy, for visiting and your comments. :)

  4. pretty nice blog, following :)

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