The Writing Process Blog Tour stops here! I was tagged last week by the lovely Amy DeLuca, my 2014 Golden Heart® sister. Amy writes young adult and has a new adult series launching this summer. You can find her at http://www.amydeluca.com/.
Here we go!
What am I working on?
I’m in the middle of writing a young adult novel, tentatively titled Birthright, which is the first in a series. The story popped in my head when I heard the popular saying that frequently comes up when a good person dies: God must have needed another angel. I wondered who is responsible for choosing those people who die and become angels. What if a teenage girl inherited this responsibility? It’s been a lot of fun navigating the intricacies of this scenario.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
There’s a saying that all stories have already been told. So can any story truly be different? Yes and no. Every author brings a new twist, a new perspective to every retelling of the most over told fairy tale. Is the general story the same? Yes. Beyond that? Everything is affected by the author. Little things, like what the author had for breakfast that morning (or whether or not the author even had breakfast), can change the story. For instance, I get irrationally hangry (hungry+angry) when I haven’t eaten. When I’m hangry, my prose is probably going to be edgier and my characters crankier than if I’ve just gorged on a box of chocolates. When I’m fat and happy, my characters tend to be fat and happy, too. So the direction a book takes can depend on the author’s mood at the moment she is writing. And who knows? That perfectly written scene might be the result of the author witnessing a horrific car accident or seeing a beautiful sunset. (Or the result of a rumbling tummy—just sayin’…)
And I’m getting off topic…
All that being said, my work stands out because it isn’t the stereotypical angsty teen drama. My characters tend to be more cynical than angsty. My premises are also unique. I have the privilege of working with my target reading audience on a daily basis, and when their eyes light up after I’ve shared a premise with them, I know I’ve got a winner, a book that needs to be written.
My Golden Heart finaling manuscript Letting Go follows a college sophomore’s journey as she comes to terms with the suicide of her high school sweetheart while navigating a new relationship. It’s unique in that it isn’t the typical sex-filled new adult that’s all over the market. There are sexy scenes, but the sex itself is closed door.
Why do I write what I do?
I write what I would want to read. Young adult and new adult books are fun. The age is a time of figuring out who you are, new experiences, and innocence. Innocence might seem like an odd choice considering the nefarious activities that sometimes happen in young adult and new adult novels. However, teenagers and early twenty-somethings have a unique way of looking at the world. They haven’t been jaded yet by the adult daily grind. The world is still their oyster.
How does your writing process work?
The concept always comes to me first, usually in the form of a “what if.” (What if a teenage girl were responsible for choosing people to be killed for the purpose of becoming angels?) The premise usually comes along with a few key scenes as well. I also usually know basically what’s going to happen. From there, I develop the characters. I don’t do long character questionnaires or anything like that, though. Once an idea strikes, I’m so eager to get writing that I don’t want to be held up by excessive planning. The characters come alive as I write the first few chapters—that’s when I really get to know them. After I have the first few chapters down, then I’ll plot a few scenes at a time to give myself direction for the current scenes I’m writing. At some point before I’m completely finished, I’ll stop and read everything to check for plot holes and continuity. Then I’ll write the end. After that, I’ll print it out and revise using a purple pen. (Yes, it has to be purple. Don’t question. It’s a thing.) There’s something gratifying about holding an inches-thick stack of paper knowing that I wrote all that. Seeing it in a different medium (i.e. not on a computer screen) also helps in finding mistakes. Before I revised my Golden Heart finaling manuscript, Letting Go, I reviewed all of Margie Lawson’s lecture packets. That’s what took my writing from “this is good” to Golden Heart finalist, so I definitely plan to review her packets again before tackling revisions on my latest WIP.
So that was a drop in the bucket of my writing process. As an English teacher and a writer, I am fascinated by the writing process, so it has been a thrill to follow the tour. I’m tagging two of my 2014 Golden Heart sisters to share their writing processes next week.
Marnee Bailey writes upper-YA and romance novels filled with heart-stopping action and tons of emotion. She is a 2014 Golden Heart® Finalist.
She holds a BA in English literature from Dickinson College and used to teach high school students. These days, she stays home to wrangle her own children. Originally from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, she now battles traffic in southern New Jersey where she lives with her hero husband and their happily-ever-after: two very energetic boys. When she isn’t writing, she can be found refereeing disputes between her children, cooking up something sweet, or hiding from encroaching dust bunnies with a book.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America as well as a member of its New Jersey, Young Adult, and Beau Monde chapters. In addition to the Golden Heart Contest, she’s had the good fortune to final in the Daphne Du Maurier, the Merritt, the Linda Howard Award of Excellence, the Fool for Love, and the Put Your Heart in a Book contests.
You can find her at http://marneebailey.blogspot.com/.
Laura Trentham lives in South Carolina with her husband, two kids, and a new puppy. She is a first-time Golden Heart® Finalist in the Historical category for Wicked Things and A Wild and Wicked Wind, a Regency series. Both sold to Samhain Publishing and are scheduled for May/Nov 2015 releases as An Indecent Invitation and A Brazen Bargain.
Find out more at www.lauratrentham.com or connect with Laura on Twitter @LauraTrentham.
19 Comments on “The Writing Process Blog Tour”
piperhuguleyJune 9, 2014 at 7:54 am
I love the sound of both of your stories! And I think it’s cool that we have the same pantser/plotter approach…I mean how can you plot the story unless you write about them a little??? A great post, Jessica. I look forward to meeting you in SA!
JessicaJune 9, 2014 at 8:37 am
Hi Piper! Thanks for stopping by. I’ve tried extensively plotting, but the characters get minds of their owns once I start writing. Until I put their thoughts, actions, and words onto the page, I don’t really know who they are.
Amy Deluca (@AmyDelucaAuthor)June 9, 2014 at 9:10 am
Hi Jessica. You know we’re all going to be intimately familiar with your diet after we read your books, right? Nothing will be a secret anymore. 😉
Enjoyed reading about your process and looking forward to reading your books. I also write romantic-and-sexy-but-not-explicit NA, because it’s what I like to read!
JessicaJune 9, 2014 at 9:14 am
We have so much in common, Amy. I can’t wait to meet you in person this summer!
Marnee BaileyJune 9, 2014 at 10:04 am
Great post, Jessica! I loved Letting Go and I really love the idea behind Birthright. Can’t wait to read it. (And can’t wait to hang out again at Nationals!) 🙂
JessicaJune 9, 2014 at 10:20 am
Aww, thanks. You’re my biggest fan, Marnee!
shellycalexanderJune 9, 2014 at 10:05 am
Great blog, Jessica. Good luck!
JessicaJune 9, 2014 at 10:20 am
Thanks for taking the time to read and post, Shelly!
PintipJune 9, 2014 at 10:13 am
Thanks for sharing your writing process, Jessica! Love the purple pen. Love the premise of Birthright. I can’t wait to read both stories! Best of luck with them, and have fun in San Antonio!
JessicaJune 9, 2014 at 10:21 am
Thanks, Pintip! Let’s definitely plan a fall get-together for us east coast YA people. We can have our own mini-con.
skalbSuzanneJune 9, 2014 at 11:17 am
I agree about excessive planning, Jessica. Too much of an outline, and it’s like bleeding the story out. The compulsion to write is lessened. I love NA, so I really look forward to reading yours!
JessicaJune 9, 2014 at 11:31 am
The funny thing is that I’m a planner in my daily life. I usually one step ahead of the game. I like the theory of outlining and plotting, but it just doesn’t work for me with writing.
Nan DixonJune 9, 2014 at 11:35 am
This Blog Tour is so fun! I also am a “What If” person. Those are the thoughts that keep me from sleeping!
Congratulations on your final. And your books sound fascinating!
JessicaJune 9, 2014 at 11:39 am
Thanks, Nan! I get some of my best thoughts right as I’m drifting off to sleep. The trouble is remembering them the next day!
Connie Taxdal, romance suspense authorJune 9, 2014 at 11:57 am
Hi, Jessica. Your book, Birthright, sounds fantastic! I love reading about my Golden Heart sisters. See you in San Antonio.
JessicaJune 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm
Vanessa BarneveldJune 10, 2014 at 12:59 am
Thanks for sharing your blog process, Jessica! BIRTHRIGHT sounds like an awesome read.
I love that you must use a purple pen for revisions. Having the right stationery is so important to me, too!
JessicaJune 10, 2014 at 8:43 am
If I have to kill my darlings, I might as well do it in style, right? 🙂
lynnlovegreenJune 10, 2014 at 8:12 pm
Great post, looking forward to reading your stuff!