One of the wonderful aspects of blogging is connecting and supporting other bloggers. This week I’m pleased to participate in an author blog tag to share my writing process.
Many thanks to Llinos Mai Thomas, author of Cancer, Chemo and Curls… One Girl’s Struggle Against Cancer and the soon to be released Purple Night: Uplifting Poetry for the Soul, for tagging me and giving me the chance to participate. Llinos blogged about her writing process last week. At the end of my article, I tag another author who will share her tricks of the trade next week!
How does my writing process work?
First of all, I write in spurts. I can write thousands of words over a couple of weeks but then I have to step away to recharge. During my down time, however, I’m always thinking of the story and working out details in my mind. When I know I’m ready, I start writing again.
That said, I do have a couple of tricks I rely heavily on: trust and music.
When I write, I trust the words that come to me. This is very important for getting a story on paper. If I’m second-guessing every word I use, or where the story is going, my books would never have been written. After all, that’s why I hire an experienced, nitty-gritty, detail-oriented editor.
Secondly, I love music and I use it to inspire my writing. In my first book, crime mystery Truth Runs Deep, my protagonist loved old time blues so I listened to a lot of John Hurt, Doc Hudson, Etta James, and B.B. King. When I wrote Stories from Spirit, a work of spiritual non-fiction, I listened to meditative music, particularly Indian flute. In my soon-to-be-released YA adventure “The Desert Sands,” I listened to Middle Eastern music. It was perfect inspiration since the setting for the series is in Egypt. As a result, I now have a newfound love and respect for artists of that genre including Cheb Mami, Khaled, Salif Keita, Tinariwen, and Youssou N’dour.
What is the hardest part of writing?
I entered the writing world via print newspaper where every word was valuable real estate. That concise writing style has influenced me so much that, while I always include the most important facts in the first draft, I don’t always elaborate enough on the details. My editor Allison Essen says that most writers over write, but I’m not most writers. Smile.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere! Sometimes a certain phrase will catch my attention or I will see an interesting-looking person who would make a great character. Since this happens so frequently, I have more ideas for books than I have days left to write. My first book idea came after I had a discussion with a Catholic priest in the early ‘90s. He told me about threats of violence and bullying against the Church by other Christian denominations. That idea blended with my work and observations as a diversity practitioner regarding religious tolerance. Stories from Spirit is derived from a spiritual journal I kept for many years after meeting and working with a shaman. Finally, the Wells Worthy trilogy originated from a creative writing project I did with my youngest son Ryan when he was ten years old.
As a cross-genre writer, do you have a favorite?
I love writing mystery and keeping the reader guessing until the end. The creative process of weaving stories together and having it all come together, in the end, is exciting. I also love inspiring readers and I work really hard to do that whether writing fiction or non-fiction.
What are you currently working on?
The Wells Worthy series consists of three books: The Desert Sands, The Hidden City, and The Buried Pyramid. Written in 2013, the trilogy begins with sixteen-year-old Wells Worthy. Wells is the son of US diplomats assigned to Cairo, Egypt and he quickly finds himself running for his life after discovering an ancient treasure map. When the safe house the US and British governments send him and his family to turns into a death trap, Wells and his grandfather Walter come face-to-face with death.
In book two readers discover that the safe house benefactor, Abasi Hassan, is a well-respected member in a secret world. But when he shifts time to save Wells and his grandfather Walter without approval from the High Council, Abasi is arrested and his seventeen-year-old daughter Eshe must defend him. Wells’ experience in the hidden world makes him question the ethics and integrity of his host nation and puts him at odds with his generous benefactor.
The trilogy concludes when Wells and Walter find themselves on the run in the Zurich airport. Their escape separates them from family and friends and takes them into Italy. Once again Abasi lends his resources to get them safely back to Egypt. Set on finding the elusive treasure, Wells and Walter lead a small, select group into a half-buried pyramid only to find themselves betrayed. Relying on everything Wells has learned from Abasi, he trusts his instincts to follow the map to its ultimate treasure.
In February 2014, I turned the first book over to my editor who has now edited the complete series. I’m finishing up re-writes on the last book while the first two are being formatted for Kindle launch. My talented cover artist, Todd Coats, hand sketches, paints, and then scans the image into digital format so he can add other creative elements. Action-packed covers for the last two books in the series are in process!
I also have two books in draft for a self-help series titled “The Power of Living Joyfully.” The first two books are on setting and achieving goals and beating the fear of failure. They will be released this fall.
What author are you tagging next?
I’m tagging fellow dog-lover and animal activist Karen Riordon Palmer, author of Dogs are Gifts from God: Spiritual Life Lessons from Dogs and their People and The Secret to Puppy Love: Using Law of Attraction and Mindfulness in Dog Training and in Life. Karen is affectionately known as the “Queen of Kindness” for the work she does to end the suffering of women, children, and animals due to abuse.