I was tagged by the ever-incredible Stephanie Lile to talk a little about my writing process. Stephanie is a writer, teacher, exhibit developer, researcher, art lover and museum educator. She has written for magazines such as Columbia, Calliope, Bacopa,Soundings Review, The Morgan Horse, and ColumbiaKids. Her nonfiction book History Lab To Go! is an award-winning museum publication. Stephanie has launched a small studio that is the percolator for her publishing projects, as well as home to the KBL Family Collection of amazing WWII imagery. Currently, she is working on publication of her novel The Tail Gunner, about a ghost soldier of WWII who cannot rest until he’s completed his final mission, and his granddaughter Sylvie is just the one to help make that possible. I was lucky enough to read Tail Gunner and am still desperately hoping there’s a sequel in the works!
You can read Stephanie’s responses to the Writing Process questions here.
Here are my responses to the tour:
1. What am I working on?
I have a couple things in the hopper right now in my writing life. The first is the re-release of my first novel, The Universal Mirror, from Rara Avis Publishing. With a new cover design and new edits (huge thanks to editor Cindy Koepp and artist Dianne Gardner), this book is taking a slightly different shape and I really look forward to seeing the response.
The second thing is an urban fantasy novel in the first draft stages. This novel, dubbed The Unwilling, is basically what would happen if you mixed Lord of the Rings and the Godfather, then threw it into 1932. It’s the story of a teenage girl named Daisy whose father abandons her and her younger sister during a major Depression. Daisy’s sister is kidnapped by the elves and Daisy must travel on a quest to find the item that can save her. That’s really a very short version of a much bigger story.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
My work, whether it be urban or epic, tends to be rooted in some era of real-world history. I weave in things that I uncover in my research, mythologizing them and thinking of other fantastical elements around them. Like many other authors, I do write what I know as well–I just tend to take it and throw a fantasy spin on it.
3. Why do I write what I do?
That’s a hard question. I often write to understand. Things that make me angry, things that make me sad…I often take and build characters out of ideas or people that I find distasteful as a way of trying to figure out how the world works. Sometimes I do it for positive reasons and other times, it’s out of a search for some sort of emotional catharsis. I don’t always succeed and when I do, I think that it would be hard for anyone who doesn’t know me very, very well to find the personal genesis of some of the ideas in my work. That’s not a bad thing in my opinion–everyone needs to have a little mystery.
4. How does my writing process work?
Every day I try to write something. I learned years back that the word count goal didn’t really work for me. As much as I’d like to write thousands of words a day, the reality with my busy life is that some days, getting 20 words on a page is a battle. Other days, I can hit 2000. So I try to get something on the page and celebrate that. I do often set chapter goals for myself of a chapter per week. (Bear in mind, I write short chapters.) Deadlines really work for me–if I don’t set them and hold myself accountable, I just don’t finish projects.
Another thing that I do to keep motivated is go on regular writing “dates” with my husband, J.B. Whiting. He’s also a speculative fiction writer and the two of us visit our local coffeeshop to write and edit together. We also often set aside time at the end of the day to cuddle and scribble in our respective notebooks. We do sometimes switch off on household chores, giving one or the other of us a break so that we can have a bit more time to work. Ideas are frequently tossed between the two of us so I’ve found that I’m having fewer problems with writer’s block than ever before. I’m rather spoiled that way, I admit.
Next week the Writing Process Blog Tour continues to branch out with two more fantastic writers!
R.S. Hunter fell in love with science fiction when he watched Star Wars with his grandmother as a child. From then on science fiction and fantasy had their hooks in him. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies like Abaculus III, Growing Dread: Biopunk Visions, and In Situ. The Exile’s Violin, the first novel in his Tethys Chronicles series, will be reprinted by PDMI Publishing in 2014. The second book in the series,Terraviathan, is also forthcoming. He lives in Portland, OR with his wife and can be found on Twitter (@rshunter88).
When D.E. Atwood was in second grade, she finally grew tall enough to see the shelf above the mysteries in the bookmobile. She discovered a rich landscape of alternate worlds, magic, and space and has never looked back from the genres of fantasy and science fiction. When she was twelve, she declared that she was going to be a writer, and share the stories that she saw happening all around her. She wanted to create characters that others would care about, and that would touch their lives, like the books that she read had touched her own life.
Today she has combined her interests, creating genre stories about the people who live next door, bringing magic into the world around us. Her first novel, If We Shadows, was published by Harmony Ink Press this spring.