Several weeks ago, I was invited by Amazon Publishing author Anne Charnock to answer some questions about my current work in progress and a little about my writing process. She gave me a set of questions to answer (you can see her answers here). This post is already long overdue, so without further delay...
1) What are you working on?
My loyal readers know I never talk about my works-in-progress! To do so would be akin to constantly opening the oven door while the cookies are baking.
I will say this, however: My NaNoWriMo manuscript is simmering (slightly off from the metaphor above, although we're at least still in the cooking theme). Recently my developmental editor reported that she saw a tweet from an author who bragged about self-publishing his NaNoWriMo novel days after finishing it. We both gasped--the horror! It's not a strategy either of us recommends. Even writers who carefully outline and edit-as-they-go-along need to put their manuscript away fro a bit, or at least give it to beta-readers and editors before uploading it directly to Kindle. My manuscript is nowhere near publication-ready. And I needed to step away from it, to let it simmer for awhile so that when I return to it, I will do so with fresh eyes.
So what am I doing in the meantime? Well, there's always something to work on. Or think about...
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I'm marketed as a chick lit author, and I'm involved with #ChickLitChat on Twitter weekly (or whenever I can). However, I try to stay away from some of the more stereotypical trappings of the genre--pink book covers, cocktails ending in "-tini," and leading men named Chad or Kyle. I prefer to brand myself, and my writing, as "commercial women's fiction" (that said, I'm sometimes surprised by the number of male readers I have, especially of my novel Faking It).
No matter what I write, my goal is not to fit into a particular genre as much as it is to tell a good story with strong characters and rich dialogue. I want to make you laugh, or think, or tear up, but I also want the story and characters to stay with you well beyond THE END.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I always write the novel I want to read. That's my starting and finishing point every time. I don't know of any other way to make it work.
4) How does your writing process work?
Typically I'm what Nathan Bransford calls "an improvisational writer." That is to say, when I write a first draft, I pour everything onto the page, not worrying about whether it's good or bad, knowing I'll get to the shaping and molding and refining and polishing in the revision stage. I may start with a few notes, some snippets of dialogue, a description here and there, but that's all. No outline. Outlining and plotting just don't work for me--however, when I'm well into the revision stage, I may draft an outline to assist me with organization and arrangement, pacing, and making sure the timeline of the story is accurate.
After a first draft is "finished," I set it aside and let it simmer (see above). When I'm ready to look at it again, I print it out, go to a coffeeshop, and start reading, pen in hand. I make all kinds of notes, start crossing things out, filling things in, and ask a lot of questions, as if the manuscript belongs to one of my students or a fellow writer. I especially "talk to the text."
Once that's done, I get into the blood, sweat, and tears of writing: revision. Namely, re-writing, re-reading, repeat. I continue to develop the story, the characters, the style (word choice, etc.), and cut out every word that's not needed. At this point I'll start showing it to people (beta readers) and ask them for their feedback as well.
When I'm ready to called it "finished" again, I send it to my publisher (with fingers crossed). If/when they accept it, the process of re-reading and re-writing starts in all over again with my developmental editor, copyeditors, proofreaders, etc. (The same happens if I self-publish.)
5) What is your latest novel?
Please check out She Has Your Eyes, available for pre-order and scheduled for release on February 11, 2014. It's the continuing story of Faking It (currently on sale for 99 cents on Kindle) and Ordinary World. Of the three, I think She Has Your Eyes is my favorite. I hadn't planned to write a third Andi/David novel, but these things take on a life of their own.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.