Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hopping on the blog: writing plans and processes

I have been tagged by the lovely Sara Foster in a blog hop about writing and writerly things.  If you've read From the Indie Side, she's responsible for that great story "Cipher".  Check out her post here to read about what she's working on and her plans for the coming year.  She tagged a bunch of authors from the Indie Side project, including Jason Gurley and Mel Hearse.  So if one of them wrote one of your favorite stories, today is your lucky day!  Check out her post and follow the links through to find out about each author!

But to the questions!

What am I working on?
Right now, I am chewing my way through the final edits of M&K Tracking, which is book four in the Maggie MacKay: Magical Tracker series.  Last year was a fantastic year, but in looking at the lessons it taught me, I have decided to stay focused on my series in 2014.  Diversity is fun, but writing all of these standalone projects does a disservice to you, my loyal readers, who have stuck around through both thick and thin to see what Killian & Maggie and Clara & Wesley have been up to.  I have listened as you have sent me messages about how much you love my series and how excited you are about finding out what happens next.  There are a couple other stories whispering in my ear, but they are going to have to get in line.  This year is the year of Maggie and O'Hare.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?
I had a reader point out to me that Maggie is a book with zero male-gaze.  Male-gaze is an idea from the feminist movement back in the 1970s in which a woman's worth is defined by how men perceive her.  I didn't even know I was embracing this concept.  Although Maggie has a male sidekick, her value is her own and whether they end up together or not has nothing to do with her journey.  When I wrote Maggie, I was rebelliously pushing back on a theme I was seeing in the urban fantasy genre: that in order for a woman to be successful, she had to end up entangled romantically.  The urban fantasy women (at the time) were always being saved by some guy.  They were incompetent and stumbling upon victory.  They were smooching vampires and dating werewolves.  They were unable to overcome evil unless there was some big strong someone there to fight the monsters for them in the final battle.  What I decided to do with Maggie was to have a heroine who was really good at her job, who really liked what she did, and who didn't need to be saved by anyone.  And, sadly, this is kind of unique in my genre.

Then I have my more serious titles (The Woodcutter, Queen Mab, Queen Joanna, Spirit of Krampus).  These are darker and sparse.  With these books, I was focused on crafting each sentence, creating poetry in every paragraph.  I wanted these books to be a little creepy at times.  But at their heart, each of these stories examines different forms of love and duty.

And then there is my O'Hare House Mystery series, which is a hybrid of the two.  I was so tired of the ghost stories where the ghosts ended up just being someone behind a curtain.  I wanted the ghosts to be real, I wanted the danger to be real.  I wanted the fun of a drawing room mystery with a true supernatural threat, not just Col. Mustard in the library with the lead pipe.

Why do I write what I do?
Spite. I write out of spite.  Wait.  Did I say that out loud?  Okay, here's the deal.  I love to read.  I read a lot.  And I get so frustrated sometimes when a story goes the wrong direction, or an author is so close to getting it right and then goes off the deep end.  But you can't be mad at a stranger for not telling the story in your head.  That is your story.  And I realized I needed to start putting my money where my mouth was, otherwise I was a hypocrite.  Rather than stewing in anger that someone I didn't know was doing it wrong (do you hear how ridiculous an expectation that is?  And yet...), I needed to write the stories the way I thought they should go.  It is easy to pick people apart.  It gives you a whole new view and appreciation of what an author goes through when you pick up your pen, instead, and try to wrestle a world into submission.  Each book starts out of spite, and ends in a lesson of humility.

How does my writing process work?
This has been changing recently.  In the past, I would just sit down and write.  Whatever came out, came out.  But this past year I was introduced to a book called 2K to 10K that changed my focus.  Now I write with outlines.  I am more organized.  I do all of the blood, sweat, and tears in a condensed three day period, and the rest is cake (as opposed to blood, sweat, and tears all over every page I write for six months).  I also co-oped the idea of dream boards into my writing.  Picture is worth 1000 words, right?  So, I have a bulletin board with pictures of my characters and their world.  I hang it where I can see it regularly and let my imagination draw the lines between the images until I have a story.

And now it is time for me to tag someone!  I'm going to kick it over to 47North peep Mark Teppo, who you probably know from the hugely successful Mongoliad series, the Foreworld Saga, the Codex of the Soul Series... oh the list goes on and on.  Go check out his blog and see for yourself!  I'll post a link here to his hop answers!

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