How’s the Writing Going?

I found this on Rachel’s blog, and it looked like fun so I’m going to do it too. 🙂

Right now, I’m working on the next book in my Tudor Throne series  (book one is out next week!), which takes place in the Welsh Marches and follows the thread of Sir Richard, Margaret Pole, Lady Anwen, Lord Meuric, Sir Thomas Lovell, and Lady Tyrell. It’s tentatively titled The Welsh Gambit. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going? 

It’s going well. I’m quite excited, since I’m within a few chapters of being done with my second draft, and I found a new, better way to resolve the conflicts and add more action scenes and suspense to the final chapters … which means a flat-out rewrite of the last bit, but I don’t mind since each rewrite is an adventure of discovery. I’m always a little stressed when I hit the 3/4th way point and I have to start weaving together the ending, but I never have trouble with it.


What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)? 

I don’t have it on me, but the opening of the prologue is in the king’s presence; the opening chapter starts in Wales.

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Who’s your current favorite character in your novel?

Sir Thomas Lovell, because I created him to be a magnificent bastard, and he is, but Brother Elfric has grown on me to such an insane level, he turned into something I did not expect, which is always entertaining. I also have a soft spot for Anwen. She’s brave. She has come through incredible trauma and has an attitude of, “No matter what has happened to me, I can’t let them win. This is MY LIFE.”

What do you love about your novel so far?

That in many ways, it’s so different from the first installment, but carries on some of the same characters; I like to see relationships evolve and develop, and this time it’s playing out against the backdrop of superstition, betrayal, an abbey, and a tournament. There’s also rumors of a ghost trapped in her grave, and some delightful, adorable kids running around. Plus, I’m sure to my readers’ delight, one bad guy is going down.

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Not that I can recall, although my cat has often leapt onto my keyboard and added and/or erased things for me. Thank goodness I can hit the BACK button!

What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

Middle. That seems to be where the creative flow is less intense… and where my plot gets out of hand in the first draft and my imagination goes wild, and I often derail while trying out new ideas… but I fix it all in the editing process. I fret about how to open a book, and how to close it; but the ending naturally presents itself to me, sometimes sooner than I expected. (But hey, leave ’em wishing it was longer! And not saying, “HOW MANY MORE DAMN PAGES IS THIS NOVEL?”

What are your writing habits?

Daily, unless I have something else going on (which isn’t often). I prefer to start writing in the morning but given my work shifts, that’s not always possible, so I spend at least every other afternoon writing, often for hours at a time.

Is there a specific snack you eat?

No, if I ate while writing I would quickly look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. I do like to drink iced tea while I write, though. And sometimes, I snap my gum.

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Do you listen to music?

Yes. I occasionally write in silence, but choose music based on the mood I want to create; almost always, it’s instrumentals. Sometimes, since I have the luxury of living alone, I put the same instrumental piece on repeat and listen to it for hours on end. Something about the continual method keeps me focused on the task at hand. I can’t listen to lyrics and write novels; I can, however, listen to lyrics and write letters, e-mails, blog-posts, forum comments, etc.
What time of day do you write best?

Sometimes, it’s late at night when the world is quiet. There’s something… safe about it.

Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

No camera handy and I’m too lazy to leave my laptop in the bedroom; I write on a desktop computer on a sea blue desk, with a shelf above it upon which sits a framed print of a woman with a leopard on a leash, my Phantom of the Opera music box,  a feathered mask, a Tim Burton hat, and a Mycroft Holmes Funko. There’s a bronze lamp to the left with a white shade, and taped all across the back wall are notes to myself (a list of English titles and how to address those individuals, and the fabrics, foods, habits, clothing, etc., of those in the Tudor era, as well as everyone’s ages and date of birth). To the left and right are windows; one overlooks my deck, and an enormous, 70+ year old pine tree named Alfred, and the other looks toward the creek that runs through our ranch.

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

Extremely private. No one hears much about it until it’s almost done, and no one reads it until the second or third draft. I never let anyone hear about or see the chaos of my work until I’m confident its bones are solid, then I sometimes ask a friend to beta read for me and tell me what needs clarified or fleshed out. My mom, an excellent editor in her own right, is the final person who helps me decide what is and isn’t necessary (she often talks me out of things other people talk me into, like, “There’s enough characters; we don’t need to know her servant’s name unless they’re vital to the plot!”).

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

Obsession. I can’t NOT write. That would kill me, or drive someone else to kill me. I have often sat there, on a frustrating afternoon when my Muse has gone to France without me, and forced myself to type, and type, and type. I go away mad, having scowled all afternoon and sworn in Tolkien’s Dwarf Language, but I got something written.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

Creativity is for amateurs, so don’t purely rely on it

Sometimes your first idea is indeed your best idea.

Constant awareness of how to improve makes you a better writer. (Notice what others do, and why; what people edit out of your books, and how to train your brain to avoid those mistakes in the future; writing is a conscious effort.)

5 Replies to “How’s the Writing Going?”

  1. I’m the opposite–I need music with lyrics, in order to write fiction. It’s like it gets the emotional side of my brain working, or something? I can’t seem to be really creative without it.

    Sometimes–quite often, actually–the songs I’m listening to will be what helps me tap into a character’s “voice” and really hear them speaking to me. I’ll be working away, and then this one song will come on, and something will “click” inside my head: “Oh, THAT’S what so-and-so is feeling right now; THAT’S why they are doing what they’re doing.”

    You have a blue writing desk? I want a blue writing desk. Can I have a blue writing desk?

    (I just really love blue okay)

    I can’t wait to read your novel when it comes out next week!!! *dances excitedly*

  2. Loved it!

    Loved it all, but that last bit of advice resonated with me so much: writing is a conscious effort. YES. It is. Recently, someone said to me that they just couldn’t see how I could ever publish a book, because they just don’t get inspired to write often enough to finish a whole novel in one year. And I was like, Um, that’s the difference between an amateur writer and a novelist. You don’t wait for inspiration, you sit your butt down and work at it. And if you have to swear in Dwarvish, well, that’s what Dwarvish is for, right?

    1. Yep.

      There are days, even entire weeks, where I don’t want to write because I feel lazy; and once in a great while, I’ll let a day or two go by, but I don’t want to be a lazy person, so most of the time, I sit down and write anyway.

      Part of my motivation is I may not always have this much free time, so I may as well spend it doing something I love and produce as much as I can, right?

      Writers… write. They have to. It’s like breathing. If they can’t do it, they ain’t happy — and if they ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

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