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Blog Tour: My Writing Process

March 24, 2014

blog-tourNow this is a Blog Hop after my own heart.

Last Monday the fabulous Mike Schulenberg passed the baton to me, nominating me to participate in the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Thanks, Mike! What a great excuse to talk about my stories, and better yet, how they came to be. The only rules are that I have to talk about them on a Monday, and then tag three more writers, who will then talk about their stories on the following Monday.

Sound like fun? I thought so.

I’ll do my best to leave the Muse out of it, but we’ll see how that goes …

There are four questions:

1. What am I working on?

I’m working on three projects right now. Each project is in a different stage of development.
The story that is closest to completion is titled The Tempest’s Serenade and is about a gifted guitarist haunted by his past life. I’ve finally got all my chapters posted at Critique Circle and am awaiting some final critiques before I dive back in to rework it. This time through I really hope I can get it right, because, well … I’ve been working on this story for a long time!

The second project is called The Way of Wolves and I’m up to my elbows in Week Six of Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel as I pick up the pieces of my first draft and turn them into something I am proud of.

Dragon's Milk Logo-Clean2smallThe third, titled The Shoals of Stars, is the last book in my Dragons’ Milk Chronicles trilogy. It’s in its embryonic stage, with ten thousand words of first draft written and a few of the main scenes, as well as the ending, sketched out.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I come from a science background, so even my fantasy stories tend to have the magic explained using something I can document from my real life experience. I use what I know about gravity, light, chemistry, genetics, and even neurology, to build my story’s magic systems. My greatest satisfaction comes from creating a story world that mimics ours closely enough to pass for the real thing—except for the magic part. To me, one of the funnest parts of storytelling is the suspension of disbelief, and having the magic pass for science makes that easier for me to do.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Ah, an easy one. I want to reveal the possibility of magic behind the world as we know it, whether it’s modern times or a distant galaxy. I want to believe in a world of infinite possibilities, and with writing I can make it so.

4. How does my writing process work?eighth-notes-metal3

This is probably not going to serve me well to admit in literary circles, but I start with a playlist. The Muse is my DJ, and my words dance to his beats. (Told you I couldn’t keep him out of this post!)

Without Moby There Would Be No WordsIn fact, I’ve had whole books come from just one song. The Tempest’s Serenade started with ‘Hotel California’. An obscure song called ‘As If It Were That Easy’ by a band called Ready Fire Aim was the catalyst for a whole trilogy. I even had one book come out of ‘I Wanna Be A Cowboy’ by Boys Don’t Cry. (It’s actually not a bad book, but I won’t tell you which one it is, since the song it stemmed from is rather corny!)Image courtesy of Sundeip Arora @ Stock.xchng

But perhaps that oversimplifies my process. The song and the main character are more like a package deal, one swaggers in with the other, and then I add more songs to make a playlist, which in turn triggers more ideas for scenes. Once I have that, I get serious, break out Scrivener and rough in about a dozen scenes. With a main character and a sketched out idea for the ending, I dive in. Lots of wrong turns and a hundred thousand or so words later I get to the end. Then I go back to the beginning and revise the heck out of it.

Well, that was fun! Now I get to tag some writers. My victims winners are:

Melissa Maygrove who is releasing her first novel, Come Back, in April!

Peter Cruikshank, author of Fire of the Covenant, first book in the Dragon-Called Legend

Nancy H. Doyle, fellow How To Revise Your Novel graduate and Muse aficionado, who is working on her second novel as the first makes the rounds of Query-land.

How about you? What is your writing process? What’s the weirdest inspiration you’ve ever had for a story?

Guitar image courtesy of Ina Peters @ StockFresh, pen image courtesy of Sundeip Arora @ Stock.xchng


  1. March 24, 2014 7:52 am

    Your writing process is pretty awesome. I like how songs inspire you so much! Ha, my son was into Boys Don’t Cry in 7th grade and I had one of their CDs in my car for ages from driving him to school. I might just know that cowboy song 🙂 My current WIP, that hopefully I can actually finish, is based on a conversation I had with my son and his roommate (both 19) who were admitting to being obsessed with finding treasure as little boys, and still are.

    • March 24, 2014 7:12 pm

      Now you’re making me think I need to check out the rest of Boys Don’t Cry’s catalog … maybe I’ll get even more ideas for books to write!
      I love your son’s idea. I don’t think there’s anybody who wouldn’t love to find a hidden treasure. 😉

  2. March 24, 2014 10:18 am

    Oh, wow! You tagged me! LOL Thanks for the mention. 🙂

    I totally enjoyed reading this. You’d laugh if you knew where some of my ideas come from. (If I take you up on the tag, you’ll get that opportunity. :P) And, Ooo – science! I already love your writing; now I know I’ll love your books even more. Get busy and get published, woman! 0_o

    • March 24, 2014 7:14 pm

      Thanks, Melissa. 🙂 I’d love to know where your ideas come from!
      If only I could focus on one story, it would make things go a little faster. But, oh well, I’m having fun in the meantime!

  3. March 24, 2014 11:23 am

    I don’t think it’s odd you started with one song. The manuscript I’m working on now was inspired by a single song.

    • March 24, 2014 7:17 pm

      You know what they say: Great minds think alike! 😉
      But seriously, I’m so relieved to know that I’m not the only one wired to find inspiration in the words and music of others.
      I’d love to know what song inspired your story!

  4. March 24, 2014 1:44 pm

    Music is a huge part of my process too, although my tastes tend towards instrumental stuff that I can sorta think of as soundtracks for whatever material I’m trying to create, so I listen to a lot of movie soundtracks, space music, and stuff with a folk vibe.

    Your approach to magic systems sounds really interesting. I’m looking forward to reading your stuff when it’s ready 🙂

    • March 24, 2014 7:22 pm

      It’s funny– as tentative as I am about the whole storytelling process, when it comes to my ‘magic’ system, I know what I want. It’s the whole keeping track of things that throws me.

      I do instrumental soundtracks for the bulk of the writing as well, but now that you mention it, I can see that only songs with words are the initial impetus to get the stories rolling.

  5. March 24, 2014 7:03 pm

    Love getting insights into other’s writing processes. I love music! But I can’t listen to it when I write. I find it too distracting, though I can totally understand how it can inspire! Thanks for sharing your process!!

    • March 24, 2014 7:28 pm

      There are definitely two camps when it comes to writing with or without music, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that no two writers are exactly alike when it comes to their creation process. Heck, the writing process changes from one book to another for the same writer!

      Makes me wonder if storytelling isn’t the closest thing to real magic I’ve ever been. 🙂

      • March 24, 2014 7:29 pm

        “Makes me wonder if storytelling isn’t the closest thing to real magic I’ve ever been.” Well said!!! 🙂

  6. March 24, 2014 8:27 pm

    Thanks for tagging me, Kristen. This is a first for me and, with my crazy life, it might take a few days, but I’m in!

    I love your use of music of inspiration. I’m afraid if I looked to music for ideas I’d be lost in the tunes and forget to write:)

    • March 24, 2014 9:56 pm

      Actually, I don’t consciously ‘look’ for inspiration in the songs, it’s more like they find me … certain songs suddenly jump out of the background and shout, “There’s story in here!” 🙂
      And then there’s some songs (David Bowie’s Heroes just came on my playlist) that fit every single story I write. 🙂
      Anyway, as long as you do your post on a Monday (next Monday would be best) you’re fine. Although, I won’t tell on you if you cheat a little. 😉

  7. March 26, 2014 7:08 am

    It’s funny . . . I used to need complete silence to write. I’d come up with playlists but only to listen to in the car. But with book #3, I’ve had the headphones in constantly listening to music 🙂 And I think you deserve an award–great to learn more about you!

    • March 26, 2014 6:21 pm

      Thanks, Jamie! I’d love to know which songs inspired your ‘My So-Called Afterlife’ series. (I love that title, can you tell? 😉 )

  8. March 26, 2014 4:35 pm

    I know what you mean about an entire book being inspired by a single song! I have one. Oh and another one blossomed from an album I found online. I couldn’t write it unless I was listening to that album, and that album only. Needless to say, that one’s firmly committed to memory.

    • March 26, 2014 6:24 pm

      That’s cool Crystal!
      You reminded me of another nice benefit of making playlists for stories– when I go back to listen to them I remember how much fun it was to write that story.
      I’m glad you stopped by. 🙂

  9. lonitownsend permalink
    March 27, 2014 5:26 pm

    I totally dig the song part. I’ll hear a song that’ll just click with a scene and my fingers just start itching to write. Great writing process!

    • March 27, 2014 6:58 pm

      Hi Loni,
      It’s so cool to meet other writers who think the way I do!
      And welcome to A Scenic Route. 🙂

  10. April 7, 2014 10:57 pm

    Just catching up. I haven’t made the leap from my analytical, logical side to magic and fantasy. Intrigued that you can with a science background. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet. I did enjoy reading first three of The Outlander series, and have enjoyed other time travel (always into past; I’m definitely not a futurist). That’s sort of magic – time travel – right?

    • April 8, 2014 6:42 am

      Time travel is definitely magic, IMO! I’ve always marveled at the beauty of science, even though we can explain most everything, there is an element of awe in my perception of the world around me. So it feels easy for me to pretend I can explain things that we might not have discovered yet. 😉
      I haven’t read Outlander. I might have to put that on my list. 🙂

      • April 8, 2014 8:49 am

        They are dense books, but quite compelling. I had to take notes and make a family tree to keep all the time travel and characters straight, but that’s because I have a faulty shortterm memory. You might, at least, try the first in the series and see what you think – especially if you are a fan of Celtic history.

  11. April 21, 2014 10:32 pm

    I think you’ve convinced me to try the Holly Lisle approach to knocking Grove into shape.

    • April 22, 2014 6:25 am

      Grove is so much closer to a publication worthy story than my story was when I started!
      You should definitely give her approach a shot, and there are lots of free and low cost courses you can take to see if her ideas resonate with you before you commit to one of the larger classrooms.

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