The lovely Cindy Hale tagged me last week to carry on this blog hop. This post was supposed to go up yesterday, but it was entirely too beautiful outside to be in writing a blog, so I’m a day late.
Cindy Ray Hale is a Young Adult author and a book blogger. She lives in a little slice of wooded heaven near Atlanta, Georgia. She spends way too much time following up-and-coming musicians on YouTube and dreams of joining their ranks one day. She’s a bit of a health food nut and can’t live without her daily green smoothies. She tries to stay sane as she juggles writing with four kids, staying active on social media, and keeping up her book blog. In addition to writing and self-publishing two Young Adult Contemporary novels, she has also written articles for “New Era” magazine and The American Preppers Network.
Connect with Cindy
Okay, here we go….
What am I working on?
I talked a few weeks ago about my need to take some time off to recharge and rediscover my passion for writing. So I’ve not been working on much, honestly. I’m slowly, slowly getting back into the Incubus world. (You guys, Episode Three may be my favorite. It takes place mostly at the charity gala, so it’s like writing the drama-filled prom episode of a TV show. Too bad it’s not on a boat.)
I have a formatting job this week, and an editing job coming in very soon that will take much of my time, but I expect to be totally consumed by this story again soon. Maybe it’s the hiatus I took, maybe it’s the gorgeous weather. (I wore flip flops yesterday!!!) I dunno, but it’s coming back, that love for writing, the itch to type until my fingers hurt and my brain is fuzzy with the words its spilled. I’ll keep you updated, but for those of you waiting for the rest of Incubus, just know it’s coming.
In the back of my mind, a new story has been brewing. It’s been there for months, but in the past two weeks, it’s really started to take shape. It occupies me while I’m at the gym, driving around, making dinner. Pretty much any time I’m not totally consumed by something else, these characters are speaking to me. I expect it’ll build to a point that I can’t help but write it soon. I won’t tell you much, but you fans of 99 Days of Laney MacGuire only need one word:
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
This is much easier to answer for Incubus. Serials are for sure making a comeback, but they are still a very new format for a lot of readers. Some love them, some hate them. Some have no idea what they even are. But they are different.
99 Days of Laney MacGuire is definitely not the only book to do this, but I think what makes it different is that it is fun and heavy at the same time. There are some serious issues in this book – abuse, rape, suicide, depression – but, while they are very important aspects of the book, I tried really hard to not let them weigh it down too much. Even with those issues, I wrote the book to be, at its core, a semi light-hearted summer romance. I read so many YA books about these issues where it seems like the issue is all there is and the book is so dark and heavy…there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what I wanted for Laney. I wanted my characters to be able to address their issues in a serious manner, but still be able to have fun and act like a bunch of kids right out of high school. I think (I hope!) I was able to strike that balance in a realistic way.
Why do I write what I do?
Okay. I’m not trying to sound too flippant or glib about this, but:
Because I want to.
It really comes down to that. I don’t study the market; I’m not out to change lives. I love to write, and I want to tell stories. I write the ones that speak to me – the stories I want to read. I write primarily YA because I think it’s such a fun, exciting time of life. The voice is punchy and fast, and all the firsts that teens experience are really fun to write about.
Plus, you get to be young forever if you’re forever writing young, yes?
How does my writing process work?
This differs from book to book. I have done everything from no plotting at all to such extreme plotting that my outline might as well have been the first draft. My typical process falls somewhere in between.
Usually, I start with a basic idea. It may come from a title, a character, a situation – the ideas come from everywhere. After I have my idea, I let it brew in the back of my mind until I have a better picture of where the story is taking me. Sometimes I jot a few notes down, but usually I just let it simmer in my mind at this point. (I figure if I can’t remember an idea long enough to get a basic working plot, then it’s probably not worth writing.) Once I get to this point, I do one of two things:
- If I’m too busy working on something else to work on the new idea, I jot down everything I know about the story so far – character names, basic synopsis, setting, whatever I have. I email that to myself and file it into my “plot bunnies” folder for future use.
- I start plotting.
I’ve tried several different methods of plotting, but my favorite by far is the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet from his book Save the Cat. The book is written for those writing screenplays, but the beat sheet translates so well to novels. For reals, reading this book has saved me so much time muddling around my books trying to get the pacing right. I wrote the first draft of 99 Days of Laney MacGuire before I knew of Save the Cat and the beat sheet, and, well…it needed help. Big time. When I decided to rewrite it for publication, I took the story I tried to tell in that first draft and broke it out into the beat sheet. And you know what? Just doing that – aside from fixing the pacing issue I was working on – gave my book SO MUCH more depth.
After I have the novel broken out on the beat sheet, I set to work writing. I don’t usually have daily goals, but I do find that I do better if I bust out a bunch of words really quickly. I tend to be a binge writer like that. If I write just a little each day, I never fully get into the groove, so the book will get done, but it takes forever and seems really disjointed at the end. If I let myself become consumed by it and bust out thousands of words a day (my record is 16.5k in one day to finish out the rewrite of 99 Days of Laney MacGuire) then the pacing and plot is much better and way more cohesive. Sure, the actual writing is messier, but a strong copy edit is much easier and less time consuming than fixing major plotting and pacing issues.
I try to let my work sit for a while before going back over it, but I’ll be honest, I rarely have the patience for that. I go back to the beginning and start tweaking things pretty much right away. I clean up basic stuff while my fantastic critique partner is reading the book. She always gives suggestions that make my writing about 100 times better. Seriously, if you love my books, it’s likely because of Ashley.
SO. This is how I do my primary project, but I almost always have a fun side-project that I can run off to whenever I get frustrated or burned out on the book I’m working on. This side project is never outlined; I write it totally by the seat of my pants, just to see where it takes me. I would say that these side projects are always just for me, never to be published, but since this is how 99 Days of Laney MacGuire started out…*shrug*
Okay, that’s all from me. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my (slightly rambling) writing process. Be sure to visit these lovely authors next week to see their writing process:
As a child, JC was fascinated by things that went bump in the night. As they say, some things never change. Now, as an adult, she divides her time between the sexy law men, mythical creatures, bad-ass bikers, and kick-ass heroines that live inside her head and her Netflix addiction. JC is a San Francisco Bay Area native, but has also called both Texas and Louisiana home. These days she rocks her flip flops year-round in Northern California and can’t imagine a climate more beautiful. Her dream is to own her own Harley and she feels compelled to tell you that she is team Peeta all the way.
JC is the author of the Men With Badges Line, the Birthright Series, and the Bayonet Scars Series.
Nazarea Andrews is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. She loves chocolate and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, and overgrown dog
Nazarea Andrews is agented, and all inquiries about rights should be directed to Michelle Johsnon of Inklings Literary.