21 May 2014

My Writing Process

A HUGE thank you to Jodi at My Literary Quest http://myliteraryquest.wordpress.com for inviting me on this blog tour.

1)     What am I working on?
I have several projects going right now. The one I’m focused on is a collection of stories where the some minor characters in one book are the main characters of the next. Stars Bright is ready for publication and focuses on Sophia, an organic flower farmer, and Ryan, a reformed Hollywood bad boy and world renowned actor. The story is set on Sophia’s farm in Oregon and also in the Los Angeles/Malibu area. Moonlight Sliver is in the revision stage. It continues the story started in Stars Bright, but takes place in Brazil where Ryan is filming his next movie. The main spotlight is on Cait, Ryan’s daughter who is majoring in journalism, and Tommy, a young man Ryan has been mentoring and is majoring in film studies. Though the story is mainly about Cait and Tommy we do read about a crisis in Ryan and Sophia’s relationship as well as spend a bit of time with Sophia’s teenage sons. The third book in this collection, Skies Blue, is still being written. This story centers on two of Sophia’s farm interns Chas and Melissa. The bulk of this story takes place in Los Angeles and Montana on Chas’s cattle ranch. Other than that- anything more I say is spoilers. There are a couple of other stories in this collection being outlined. I also have an ‘it takes place on earth’ sci-fi trilogy sketched out, but it’s on the back burner for the moment.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
The biggest difference in my stories from others in the romance category is the touch of environmental awareness. Romance with a light eco-fiction undertones. In Stars Bright Sophia farms in an environmentally friendly organic way, she teaches classes in sustainable agriculture, and sells her products locally through farmer markets and other direct source methods. It is written in such a way that the person who is really into natural living and the person who can’t be bothered to toss their can in the recycling bin will both enjoy the story. No preaching, just the characters living their lives.

3)     Why do I write what I do?
Fame and fortune (yeah, right!) The biggest reason, the characters and their actions start clogging up my mind. When I write them down they leave me alone, for a while, they are kind of like toddlers I can appease them for a time but they always come back demanding to be heard. The stories are also what I would like to read. It makes me happy to do this work. And I want to help others be aware that doing right by the environment around you isn’t hard, it just takes a bit of thought and the start of new habits.

4)     How does my writing process work?
My actual writing process starts with an idea, spun out of something I saw or read, often in the news that sparks my interest. Sometimes a person I meet or a situation I encounter will cause a scene to play itself out in my head. From there the story starts.

I write all my first drafts in Scrivener. It is a word processing program combined with features that can be found in OneNote or Evernote and additional helps useful to writers.

I often write a bit, sketch out the main characters or a few key scenes, and make up a few note of where I want see the story going. I will then start writing in earnest, usually in chronological order, but at times the story will surprise me and I’ll jump ahead to a scene further into the story. Before I get too far into the story line I’ll write up a more detailed outline. I say outline but really I’m making notes on the corkboard feature in Scrivener.

I am not a slave to my outline and if an idea comes along or a character whispers to me they’d really like do “this” I will modify things. I find having the outline (or note cards) helps me keep the writing at a steady pace
Another trick I have when writing the first draft is to turn off the spell check. My spelling is as Winnie-the-Pooh says, “wobbly”. Yes, it makes for one heck of a clean-up in the editing phase, but my goal with the first draft is to get the ideas down.

Once the draft is done I will set that story aside story A and work on the draft for story B. Then I’ll go back and clean up and finalize story A.

There is no magic to completing a novel as the old axiom goes you must put your butt in the chair and hands on the keyboard.

Thanks for visiting with me today
Next week’s stop on the #WritingProcess Blog Tour is:
Ali Cross  www.alicross.com
Ali Cross likes to say she holds a black belt in awesome since the only kind of kicking-butt she does is on paper. She lives in Utah with her kickin' husband, two sparring sons, one ninja cat, one samurai dog and four zen turtles.

She writes dark and angsty fantasy/sci fi and adventures for middle grade readers under the pen name Alex Banks.

19 May 2014


Moments of hope and despair
Moments of triumph and defeat
Moments of dependence and independence
Moments to love, hug, laugh, cry, do over, pick up, plan, be
Moments to take your breath away

Last week I received a note from my twenty year old daughter who has spent the last sixteen months in New York. She’s my spunky middle child who is so much like me that when she was little we’d butt heads. She was also the only child, out of all five who were home schooled, to never go to any form of public school. Home schooling adds another dimension to the parenting equation – another worry, another reason to say “I really can’t blow this”, and another element where as a parent I would have to step back and let them sink or swim on their own.  As most parents do I tried to teach her the value of work, play, compassion, respect (for herself, others, the environment), things of God, and things of learning- math, reading, history, science and such.

Then I got her note which says, “Thank you for helping me know how to be myself and be happy with being ME (something I have found to be a rare attribute to have). I love my life so much!”

Though it wasn't intentional in the midst of 1+1=2 and ABCs and "say your prayers" and "take out the trash" she learned one of life’s most important lessons.

There is no formula for parenting. It’s a mix of being present, encouraging, allowing freedom within safe boundaries, giving a helping hand when the fall is too big, and cheering, hugging, and letting go.

What is a moment of triumph you have experienced as a parent? 

09 May 2014

01 May 2014

Meeting the Stars Etiquette OR how to Not Be An Idiot

“Don’t hug Nathan Fillion,” the girl scanning our ticket said. I rolled my eyes. “We've already had an incident,” she continued by way of explanation.