My Process – Blog Hop

Good heavens, that’s sounds so snobbish, doesn’t it? Hello, my lovelies. You are amazing today.
writing tools by Pete O'Shea on Flickr
Last week, Allie Berg tagged me in a blog hop on the writing process. She also gave a nice little explanation of what said blog hop actually is, so I’ll borrow that here. (You’ll have to follow the link to read the rest of her process though.)

But what is a blog hop, actually? We toss the term out like so many others and assume newbies and readers know what it means. Maybe some do. It’s not a complicated concept: a group of bloggers agree to a topic, someone writes a post, and tags other authors who’ve agreed to post, they post, lather rinse repeat. It’s actually more of a blog tree than a hop for authors. It’s the readers who (theoretically) travel from post to post to see what we all say.

That said, I suppose it’s my turn to answer the four questions of the blog hop.

What am I working on?

Having finished and published Kick the Past, it’s time to work on something with less danger and more fun. I’m tackling one of my favorite tropes: the fake boyfriend.

Hillary Max’s middle name might be Danger but her job title is “Risk Management Professional.” She likes her life well-ordered and unexciting. Luke Banyon runs Extreme Flings, a company that will give you the vacation of your life, as long as it runs on adrenaline. And your instructor? They’re on offer too, so you’ll have a place to burn all that adrenaline afterward.

But Hillary Max has a problem — she told her daredevil family she was engaged. Now they’re expecting Hillary and her fiance to show up at the family reunion. The only trouble is…the fiance doesn’t exist. Solution? Hire Extreme Flings to save her skin.

Hillary and Luke are a complete odd couple and I’m having fun discovering how they’ll fit.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is an odd question. I suppose it comes down to what I’m passionate about. My heroes and heroines have to grow, they have to find themselves before they can be happy with each other. They come from different worlds most of the time, they have different backgrounds. Very few people in my stories are one race or ethnicity and all those differences come together to play into who they are as a person and in a couple.

I write about women trying to balance success with love, wanting it all but not always getting it without compromise. I suppose that’s a result of my generation. The women a generation before me were told they could have it all. In fact, they had to have it all, juggle it all, or they were failures. My generation looked at that and decided they wanted only what was right for them.  Finding what’s right is a major theme in my novels.

Why do I write what I do?

Why romance? Well, here’s a secret…I’m addicted to genre. I love it. I was always a huge reader as a kid but my attempts to empty the bookstore really started when I fell into reading sci-fi and fantasy. As I got older, I found romance and fell in love with those too. What is the common thread? I think it’s that I love stories that are character-driven. Plot is a must, of course, but what will get me into a story and keep me there turning pages are the characters. When you’re writing fantasy — whether the sexy kind or the elven kind (or both!) — the key is selling the characters, making them people that the reader will identify with, no matter how outlandish the setting.

Romance, sci-fi, fantasy; they’re all character-driven and I love my characters more than anything.

How does my writing process work?

I write from the beginning to end without skipping around and I just have to start. It’s not about perfect–in fact, most of the time, I go back and give my stories a completely new beginning. But I have to start writing and move forward from there. I keep a rough outline but nothing particularly detailed or the story feels “done” to me before I’ve properly begun. Likewise, I can’t tell anyone about the whole story and I can’t have anyone read along (even though I’m DYING to share) because I feel like I’ve already told the story in that case and my motivation goes fizzle.

I write in sprints, 30 minutes at a time, and try not to edit until I have a significant chunk done.

My novels start with the people and then the premise. Who are they? What are they? How are they? And only at the end “what are they doing?” For Gabby and Austin, they started out with a simple character image: lovers meeting after a long separation, bad blood between them but still wrapped up in as much love as when their relationship was new. Who they were built out of that and then the story–what puts an assassin and a CIA agent on opposite sides? How do you bring them back together?

I love Lois McMaster Bujold’s version of generating plot: who is this person and what’s the worst thing I can do to them?  For Hillary, it’s interrupting her routine, forcing her from her comfort zone, and making her wrong. She’s a particular person who likes things to go a certain way. Getting in her way was instant plot.

Every person has their story, even when they aren’t the main character of the book, they’re the main character in their lives. (Yes. I’m using a singular they. If it’s good enough for Shakespeare, it’s good enough for me.) Finding the story is just a matter of meeting the character.

I’m supposed to tag more people here. Any volunteers?