The Writing Process...tag; I'm it.
Thanks Jamie Rae for tagging me in the Writing Process Blog Tour.
Jamie is one of those cool people who does a little bit of everything and does all of it well. She's a great writer and her book, Call Sign, Karma will be released in 2015. I am lucky enough to call her my critique partner and friend. She's got incredible insight into what makes a story work, which is why her writing is so strong. You can find Jamie on
Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and also the following websites:
Jamie Rae Writes
Okay. Onto my own process...if you can call it that.
1. What are you working on?
Currently, I am outlining another novel connected to Angel's Lake, Minnesota, the fictional town I created for Forever Christmas, A Not so Lonely Christmas, and Falling for Home. Also, I just finished developmental edits on a medical romance titled, Dangerous Love, that I co-authored. Soon I'll be working on the next round of edits for that. It comes out in March 2015.
2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?
Hmm. I think my work is a combination of styles. It's not just romance, it's not just happily ever after-- it's a look at how hard it is sometimes to get to happily ever after and how, when you get there, it's not always what you envisioned, but somehow it's exactly what you want.
3. Why do I write what I write?
Because I'm addicted to happily ever after and "awww" moments. I re read all my favourite parts in books constantly. It's what I enjoy reading and it's what comes to mind when I start to write.
4. How does my individual writing process work?
The word process suggests something with organization. I'm not sure that I have an actual process. I read a lot. I get ideas. I then text the ideas to my BFF who tells me if the idea is ridiculous, overdone, has potential, or could go somewhere. I message with my friend and CP who is constantly supportive of everything, but also helpful and good at guiding me. Then I write. I write exceptionally fast when I have the ideas in my head. On average, it takes me a couple of months to write a book that I know where it's going. It's a bit longer if I'm struggling on the plot. I'm getting better at planning, though I do this more when I'm stuck on whether an idea actually has enough ability to grow into a novel. In writing, there's two labels: plotter and pantser. I am both. This reflects my personality as I find it hard to make decisions and am frequently on the fence about many things. When I'm writing, or awake, I have diet Pepsi close by. On average, during a writing session, I answer 3, 234 questions from my children who will suddenly need my attention when my computer is open. I always have Twitter and Facebook open, which is why I don't get more done. And I do most of my writing at the kitchen table. That's it. Not really a process, but that's how I roll.
Now...onto the others. First, I am tagging my co-author Kara Leigh Miller
Kara Leigh Miller is an author, an editor, and, to me, a great sounding board. I met her when she ran a contest through her website. The winner would co-author a book with her, a medical drama, and that book would be published by Anaiah Press, where she is a Managing Editor. Yes, I won. This is how I know, first hand, that she is a great writer, a patient co-author, and a very funny person. She's also a mentor in this years PitchWars! You can find Kara on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website. She has not yet succumbed to Pinterest but, eventually, she will fall prey to that as well. You can find out more about Kara's books on her website: Kick Start Your Heart Romance.
Up second is the lovely Joanne Macgregor.
Joanne is a both an adult and young adult author. I connected with her some time ago and found that she is so easy to talk to, so sweet, and charming, that it's impossible not to want to be friends with her. Recently, she's been promoting her psychological thriller, Dark Whispers. She has five young adult books out, including one titled: Harry on the Couch: A psychologist's reading of Harry Potter. You can find Joanne on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website.
For my third tag, a connection made through PitchWars, Jodie Andrefski
I chose to tag Jodie for several reasons (after I asked her, which probably seemed a little weird to her since I'd just "met" her): we have the same name (spelled differently), she loves dessert (that's my main food group), and she's a SPN fan (which I'm trying to not be too much of a scaredy cat to watch). The main reason, though, was because I'd connected with her through PitchWars and it reminded me how great the Twitter writing community is. She put up one of her #firstlines on Twitter and it was awesome. I commented and thus the mutual following began. Twitter is a great place to connect with others who share your interests, goals, and obsessions. Jodie is a Young Adult writer, as well as an intern at Entangled Publishing. You can find her on her website-- awesomely named 2000 Words, and on Twitter.
Some of the best books you'll read are not out yet, written by authors you don't yet know, but one day will. Now it's their turn. Thank you for participating ladies.
All the things all at once
There are so many things happening around me right now that are out of my control that it feels impossible to sit still and encapsulate how I feel about that fact. Twitter and Facebook have been abuzz with #yesallwomen and I want to weigh in but I'm not sure how to summarize all of my feelings so I basically just read the hashtags all week. Because yes, I think, all women, but I also think, all people. We all have a fundamental stake in being good people. To others and to ourselves. Every day, we should be the kind of person we would want our kids to be proud of, be the kind of person we want them to be. And if you don't have kids, then be the kind of person you'd want to be friends with. The kind of person that you would count on. One of my favourite quotes (ever) is "The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday." We get a blank slate every day to right wrongs, make better choices, be better people. Women and men. Kids and Adults. All of us.
Something else weighing heavy in my mind is the politics surrounding teaching right now. It's horrible. It's horrible to watch and horrible to be part of. When you become a teacher, you want to work with kids. You want to make someone's life, day, next ten minutes just a little better. You want to see them succeed, get over the hurdles, and achieve their potential. There are a lot of deterrents in that path. There are crowded classrooms, higher needs, budget cuts, and mountains of curriculum. That's not what bugs me though. And no, it's not the wage either. What bothers me is the overall shift I'm seeing that makes me think that people are devaluing teachers. Not all, maybe not even most, but some. Margaret Mead says “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." I love this quote and find it quite true. The flip side of it though is that a small group of people committed to making you see the negative can actually create change too. When I was growing up, I loved a lot of my teachers. There is an undeniable bond, for most people, between themselves and a least one teacher in their memory. While we were on strike today, we talked about who that one teacher for us was. For some it was their home economics teacher. Others, it was their Language Arts teacher. For me, it was my high school drama teacher. Whoever it was, it is very likely that you had a teacher touch your life in a positive way. Teachers shape us, spend time with us, watch us grow, notice when we surpass our own expectations, applaud us, push us back up when we fall. When I was little, we studied community helpers: police officers, firemen, doctors, and teachers. They were people you could trust. People that wanted to impact someone else's life in a positive way. We still matter because your kids will always matter. They are the next generation that will make choices based on the core values that we instill in them, together.
The last thing that is on my mind is the Book Expo of America. I'm an odd person in that I am intensely jealous of all the wonderful people that I "know" who are there now, walking the aisles with Rainbow Rowell, Neil Patrick Harris, Jeff Kinney, and so many more. I wish I were there. But then I think, what would I do if I were there? Most likely, I would freak a little at the thought of talking to these people. I'd be ultra nervous and quite certain that every wrong word ever invented would come out of my mouth at exactly the wrong time. I would laugh too loud and babble incessantly. Someone who was brave enough to say that yes, they were actually with me, would smile politely and yank on my sweater sleeve, trying to save the poor person I'm talking to. This is why my interaction is better online. The delete button doesn't work in real life. Which brings us full circle-- #yesallwomen, #yesallpeople because the delete button is not an option and we don't know what word or gesture, attitude or comment will impact the person around us, or how. We all matter. It's important that we not only remember that, but teach it to the next generation-- to your children, your friend's child. Manners still matter, thoughtfulness isn't out of date, thinking before you speak never goes out of style. And you really don't understand someone until you've walked in their shoes. So instead, walk beside them, without judgement, and just do your best to keep moving forward.
Sorry if this was just straight up rambling, but I did warn you in the title that it was #allthethings
There are things I want to say and share but I can't. Not yet. But because I'm antsy, I want to share something so I'm sharing some of my favorite words and quotes by others via my pinterest board. Words have an incredible power to soothe, hurt, heal, inspire, build up, tear down, linger, and last. That's why how we use them, where, and when matters so much.
What I know now...didn't really help me
Last year, when I attended the Surrey International Writer's Conference, I was completely oblivious to etiquette, dos and don'ts, and who many of the agents, editors, and authors were. This year, I had a much wider awareness of all of those things and yet, I still feel like I was ill prepared to pitch. Regardless of how much you believe in your writing and your story, it is really hard to sum it up in a couple of lines in front of someone that you've admired from afar and think would be a great fit for your work. So even though I have far more knowledge this year and feel a lot stronger as a writer, I ended up looking like this in front of Carolyn Forde.
She had to prompt me to tell her what my story was about and I actually said (out loud), "I don't know what to say to you." Nice use of my ten minutes, I know. Nearing the 8 minute mark, she mentioned that I'd told her nothing about myself. I managed to tell her, without suddenly shouting it like an idiot, that I was going to be published in a Christmas anthology next month through Foreward Literary. She kindly mentioned that sharing your publishing credits is kind of important.
And let's not forget that I had the wonderful opportunity of having lunch with the lovely Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary. She has a full of my work so I can tell you it took some effort not to shameless beg her, but instead, just enjoy her humor and company.
This doesn't include my wide-eyed wonder (ok, staring) at being in close proximity to Michael Slade, whose stories, voice and laugh I could listen to endlessly. He just seems like the kind of person you WANT to be friends with. Not me of course, because that would involve carrying on a normal conversation with him that didn't start and end with me telling him, "You're Michael Slade." Cause I'm cool like that.
In the end, I did okay. I don't think I embarassed myself too much or scared anyone off. It was nice to meet some of the people I've been chatting with via social media. It was awesome to listen to writers speak and just be in the same room with them. I had an excellent lunch and if nothing else, made a new friend. And I got a request for a full of my manuscript. I may not have been any smoother at pitching or socializing this year, but I appreciate the opportunities that arose much more than last year because I actually recognize them as that.
Life vs Twitter
I used to spend time on Facebook. Then it was Pinterest. Now, it's all about Twitter. My best friend had a great status when she started Twitter: Twitter is my new Pinterest which was my new Facebook. I like Twitter. At the moment, I like it a lot because in 'real life' my husband is playing air guitar to Guns and Roses so it's probably better to be looking at the computer screen. I thought I'd see how my life compares to Twitter overall. I couldn't do a fancy Venn diagram like I'd make my students do at school because I don't know how to do that on Twitter, my website, or in real life.
What's your favourite form of social media and why?
A writer's toolkit
When I was little I would get out some paper and a pen or pencil and call myself a writer. What more could anyone need if they wanted to write stories? When my daughters want to write, they ask if I can get off the laptop, if they can use the iPad, or go onto the desk top computer. Lots of times, I tell them that they have to use the old fashion method of paper and ink. I think there's power in this for them. As a writer, there is still something that moves me about writing the words that fumble around in my brain down on a piece of paper and reading over it, realizing that it's become something more than jumbled words. We can backspace and delete on our laptops but I believe pen to paper will always have value. That can be another post.
When I was in high school I got a very nice Smith Corona typewriter. When something really mattered, I'd type up a final draft on that. In University, I purchased my own computer and parted ways with my pen and paper unless necessary. As I've waded into the waters of "professional" writing (sharing with an agent, getting an agent, being on submission), I've come to realize that there are many more tools necessary for today's aspiring authors. It's more than just the medium we use to get our words down; much more.
In teaching (I teach elementary), we need to be very aware of (and hopefully utilizing) 'best practices'. This means that we are up to date on current research and information on how to facilitate student success. It is very similar in writing. It is not just paper, pen, a list of agencies to query, and some stamps anymore. What does today's writer need in their toolkit?
What else? What's important in your writing toolkit? What makes you stronger or more confident as a writer?
When you're learning something new, it's really nice to focus on understanding that one concept, narrowing in on it until you have grasped it completely. Let's be honest: this never happens. There's always more than one thing to learn at a time. Most knowledge is intricately woven together with the old and the new. While I learn to navigate the 'writing world' there are layers upon layers of what to know, how to communicate, how to establish yourself, and, of course, how to use social media to bring attention to your writing. Blogging, tweeting, posting; and all of these have nothing to do with actually writing your manuscript, whatever it might be.
I read multiple posts every week on ways to use Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and personal websites to establish an author presence. Last week, I figured out how to link my blog onto my pinterest account and actually made a board just for my writing (feeling pretty proud of this). Still, I had to look up the difference between MT, QT, and RT on Twitter, so obviously I have a ways to go. (Stuck? Modified Tweet, Quote Tweet, and Retweet). The thing is, once I figure out the next thing, there will be more. The most challenging part, for me, is that on top of this technological learning curve, I'm improving myself as an author as well. I am significantly better at editing, sentence structure, and flow than I was even six months ago. The two kids, husband, and full-time job tend to keep me fairly busy as well.
On Grey's Anatomy last night (I forgot the T.V. watching, texting, reading, and crocheting in that list) one of the interns said "We're a generation of multi-taskers". This is incredibly true. Sometimes, it's too true. While a learning curve generally involves multitasking, that blending of prior and new knowledge, spreading ourselves too thin is something entirely different. I have a tendency to get ahead of myself, to give myself more work than I need, or to agree to things that don't necessarily fit with my schedule. This creates the necessity of multitasking, but it also creates stress.
That feeling (sometimes overwhelming) of needing to do it all now needs to be reigned in. It was enough to learn the Pinterest link last week. I'm still playing around with it this week. I've begun to use Twitter more frequently as a form of communication and connection with others in the writing world and to keep myself up to date on what's happening. Just because it's there, doesn't mean we have to access it all immediately. I do think that it's useful to have started though. If/when my children's book is picked up, I will feel a few steps ahead by already establishing all of this. A few steps ahead, of anything, would definitely be an enjoyable position!
I think of the kids in my class, my own kids, and myself and all the information we constantly take in. We want it, we usually enjoy it, but sometimes we have to step back and say, "What's most important right now?" Because, as much as you want to, you can't do it all. If you do, it's likely some of it will fall apart, at least until you've truly mastered what you set out to learn. So I won't worry too much that I'm not on Instagram yet, that I've only logged about 80 books into Goodreads, or that I had to look up the acronym GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) because I saw it on Twitter last night. Even with the speed at which all of this knowledge is coming at us, we can still take time for babysteps. It may take a little longer, but you'll feel more secure when you're there.
What's your favourite form of social media?