My Writing Process -- Blog Hop

The great CS Nelson recently tagged me in a fun little author diversion known as the Writing Process Blog Hop. And because I am always a fan of the shiny things, I decided to participate and share a little snap-shot of what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how we (or rather I) get stuff done. If you want to know how Mr. Nelson engages in the craft, you should visit his discussion here. It will be more than worth your while, trust me.

1. What Am I Working On?

Right now I'm in the final lap of finishing the first draft of my southern crime/suspense novel, GRACE, GEORGIA, which I hope to start pitching to agents later this summer. It's a three part book told from the POV of two cousins with a very dark and sad relationship centering around the murder of a little girl fifteen years ago, and the very twisted secrets of a family that drove them apart. It feels really good to be this close to the end of a new book, which will be the first novel I've completed in over a year. Apart from that, I'm in the early planning phase of the next Colt novel, COLT COLTRANE AND THE GHOST PLANE OF NEW YORK. It was originally going to be my NaNoWriMo project, but I want to have it ready to roll in January, so I need to have an earlier start. I am also working on the planning and early promotional phase of my upcoming novel, THE LAST SUPPER, set to drop in August. There are so many other things I have waiting in the wings, but for right now, those are the projects getting my full attention.

2. How Does My Work Differ from Others of Its Genre?

I'm not sure that's a question I can answer so easily. People have praised my pacing and my ability to build a character or a scene without going overboard on needless description, but I guess what I try to do in order to feel unique is to paint characters in varying shades of gray. If a character is a monster, I want to show the reader how they became that way and see if I can make them identify with this person. If a character is good, I want to show the reader that "good" is always relative. I don't want the reader to feel comfortable. I want them to squirm, and flip page after page in an effort to find comfort that won't ever come. To me, there is no such thing as a white hat hero or a pure villain. I like to use my work to test people's sympathies and viewpoints, challenge their assumptions and conventions, and kick taboos in the face, because I absolutely love it when a piece of writing does that to me.

3. Why Do I Write What I Do?

Because I find puppies and kitties farting rainbows to be boring. It isn't easy writing the stuff I do, and it isn't even precisely fun. I don't really know if it's supposed to be. Maybe I'm a bit pretentious for saying that, but I guess I'm one of those kinds of existential sufferers who thinks that if something feels too easy, I'm either doing it wrong or not getting what I'm supposed to out of it. Every story is an arduous dig for an often ugly but sometimes beautiful truth that lies beneath what we often see. I think writing fiction is the best vehicle for coaxing those things out.

4. How Does My Writing Process Work?

Sometimes I can write dozens of pages at a time without stopping. Sometimes I write a few sentences and then stop, and then I start again and stop again, and this goes on all day. Sometimes I'll write 3500 words in one day. Sometimes I'm lucky if I write 20. Sometimes I go back to a previous section and edit it a little before I get started with the new stuff, because I feel uncertain of how I want to begin. Sometimes I don't care and dive in head first. Sometimes I write in the morning or in the afternoon or late at night. Right now, mornings are my time, but that is subject to change. Sometimes I require coffee to get the mojo flowing, though most times I don't. Sometimes I decide I'd rather write at a library or a cafe or in my recliner or at my desk. Sometimes I would rather not write at all that day and just read and top off my inspiration tanks. Sometimes I finish a story and I know it's exactly how I want it to be. Sometimes I have to hack at it a couple times before I get it right. Sometimes I have to bounce ideas off my husband or writing friends in order to make sense of the mass of story jelly in my head. Sometimes it's a fully formed thing and I can't have anyone else's words or ideas interfere with mine. Sometimes I plot out ahead of time, most times I just get in the car and go. I hate outlines. They waste my precious creative energies, but sometimes generating a list of bullet points as I go is necessary to make sure I'm following the right track. Sometimes I take planned time off after I finish a book. Sometimes it's a few weeks. Sometimes it's a few months. I think regular exercise is essential to keeping the creative spark nice and hot, but I only exercise regularly sometimes.

Some would say my writing process isn't a process at all. That it's just a mish-mash of intuitive decisions and constantly going with my gut, doing what feels right when it feels right rather than living under a harsh set of rules and regulations and building fences around my creativity. And they would be right. To me, the only rule that matters is actually doing the writing. If you're not doing that, well . . . get to it, already.

I've tagged three other writers for this little blog hop, and they are awesome. You can check out their entries on May 19th. In the meantime, visit their blogs and peruse their wares!

Patrick C. Greene

Some dark serendipity plopped a young Patrick C. Greene in front of a series of ever stranger films-and experiences-in his formative years, leading to a unique viewpoint. His odd interests have led to pursuits in film acting, paranormal investigation, martial arts, quantum physics, bizarre folklore and eastern philosophy. These elements flavor his screenplays and fiction works, often leading to strange and unexpected detours designed to keep viewers and readers on their toes.

Literary influences range from Poe to Clive Barker to John Keel to a certain best selling Bangorian. Suspense, irony, and outrageously surreal circumstances test the characters who populate his work, taking them and the reader on a grandly bizarre journey into the furthest realms of darkness. The uneasy notion that reality itself is not only relative but indeed elastic- is the hallmark of Greene’s writing.

Living in the rural periphery of Asheville North Carolina with his wife, youngest son and an ever-growing army of cats, Greene still enjoys acting and fight choreography, and trains in martial arts when he’s not giving birth to demons via his pen and keyboard.

In addition to his novel PROGENY, and the short story collection DARK DESTINIES, Greene has several FILM projects in the works, and just finished writing his second novel – THE CRIMSON CALLING -the first in the action-adventure vampire trilogy, The Sanguinarian Council.

Bryan W. Alaspa is a Chicago native and published author of over 20 works of fiction and non-fiction. He has written books in the genres of horror, thrillers, suspense, true crime, history, mysteries, young adult, paranormal and even romance. When he’s not writing, Bryan enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Melanie, and their two fur babies, Gracie and Pippa.

Solomon Archer is a pseudonym created for protective purposes. The author of PsyKu is an actual criminal psychologist. He received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin with a focus on behavior pathology. He completed his forensic internship in Ohio where he specialized in working with low-functioning sex offenders and treatment with probationed and paroled offenders.

He continued his work with the mentally ill criminal population through his forensic post-doctoral fellowship in North Carolina with a focus on competency and sanity evaluations.

His career path subsequently branched out to the prison system, where he has worked for well over a decade. The author is currently the Chief Psychologist of the [REDACTED] State Department of Corrections. He spends much of his time working with serious and dangerously mentally ill offenders, some of whom are not so disorganized that they couldn’t figure out a way to free themselves from their restraints and stab him in the head with an altered food tray. (Incidentally, the going rate for shanking a psychologist is two pounds of coffee and three bags of Top tobacco. You know, just in case you were curious).