Yes, it’s actually happening!
I had a bit of a false start back in April when Gemma Hawdon originally tagged me, and now that Claudette Young, A.K.A. Claudsy has tagged me for a second time, I actually found a couple of fellow bloggers who hadn’t already done it 🙂
First, I must thank my nominators:
Gemma Hawdon lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children. She writes articles, short stories and web content for clients. She’s just completed the first book in a two-part children’s fantasy series and writes a blog http://topoftheslushpile.com/ about – funnily enough – trying to get to the top of the slush pile. She loves hot coffee, long walks and sneaking off to the movies when everyone else is at work.
Claudette J. Young began writing seriously in 2008 and continues to write in multiple genres. She strives to learn something new each day—a new poetry form, new writing technique, new foreign word, or whatever strikes her fancy. Her primary genres are poetry, science fiction/fantasy, flash fiction, children’s literature, women’s fiction, along with creative non-fiction, essay, and memoir. She tries to cover all of her bases by writing for audiences that range from young children to senior citizens.
Claudette has been published in numerous online publications for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, as well as print magazines and two international poetry anthologies. She continues to hone her craft by working on multiple projects, including book-length ones. Her regular work can be viewed on her collaborative website and blogs at: http://2voices1song.com/ as well as www.claudettejyoung.com/
Now for the hard part
I have to answer four questions all about—you guessed it—my WIPs and process. I’ll apologize to my followers, for whom some of this will be a repeat of my Next Chapter posts, but I hope there will be some new, tasty stuff in the mix for you too.
What am I working on?
Several projects. This year, I decided, inspired in part by Rochelle (one of my nominees – see below) to attempt working on multiple projects at once.
First is my epic fantasy, Initiate of Stone.
An aspirant mage is betrayed by those she trusts most, but when war razes her village, she loses family, friends, and the possibility of initiation. The secrets kept from her may be the keys to stopping the mad god intent on enslaving her world and her quest for power leads to a confrontation with the man who tore her life apart.
Yeah, still needs work.
It’s currently out with betas. I have a couple who are very thorough/detail oriented, and that’s just fine with me, because I’ve been able to use the time to make some major decisions about the novel, remap it, make editing notes, a beat sheet, and reverse engineer the plot. When I hear back from my peeps, I’ll be ready for one more massive rewrite, and then it’s onto querying.
Second is a young adult urban fantasy titled, Figments.
Her father’s murder sends a girl spiralling into depression, and, she fears, delusion. As her figments turn out to be real, she learns that everything else she thought she knew is a lie, opening the door to the terrifying possibility that her father was a modern-day Frankenstein, and she is his apocalyptic monster.
Figments was last year’s NaNoWriMo project and I am currently mapping it out, then I’ll get to the beat sheet, edit notes, and reverse engineering. This one has a few revisions ahead.
My third project is Gerod and the Lions, a middle grade, traditional fantasy.
A boy’s father sells his little sister to the Child Merchants and he sets off, alone, to rescue her. Clever, but small, he fails his first attempt and finds shelter in a circus where he discovers a talent for talking to lions and allies who help him track the Child Merchants to the capital, where a royal encounter and a daring rescue bring the boy face to face with his sister and her new owners.
I’m still drafting this one, but I expect to be finished by the end of this year.
Finally, there’s Apprentice of Wind, the second book in my epic fantasy series.
She’s come into her power through an act of murder and now a rogue sourceress (it’s not a typo), in the company of the half-brother she never knew and the avatar of the goddess, must defend the king’s city and then race to battle the mad god. If she can’t become powerful enough to defeat him, her life and her world will be destroyed.
The draft has been assembled and mapped, but will require substantial rewriting because of the revisions to IoS.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
What’s that saying? There’s nothing new under the sun.
The only thing that distinguishes my work from other fantasy novels being written and published is me. It’s my writing and my voice that will set them apart.
The epic series is pretty standard fare, but I have what I hope is a truly strong heroine who drives the plot and some compelling secondary characters all of whom I torture mercilessly. None of the characters is purely good or evil—except the mad god, he’s just psychotic—so it’s complex and dark and unrelenting. And there’s a lot of vomiting, or so I’ve been told by at least one reader 😉
The YA novel features a gargoyle, but I think in the search for “original” beasties, this ground has already been trod, as has the Frankenstein angle, but not, perhaps, in the way I have approached it.
The MG might be fairly original, a young lion tamer who takes down a child slavery ring? I might have something there.
Why do I write what I do?
The main reason is that fantasy and science fiction were what I started reading: C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Madeline L’engle, Ursula K. Le Guin. It was also what I started watching: Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.
As I read or watched, I imagined myself as a character in the story. Sometimes I’d even dream about it. These derivative, or fan-based, works were some of my earlier stories. When I grew older, I understood that I wanted to help other people feel what I felt as the consumer of these creative works.
How does my writing process work?
The thing about my process is that it is . . . a process. It’s what happens between my head and the page. The two words I might choose to characterize my writing process are organic and evolving.
I generally shoot from the hip. I write first and ask questions later, but I’m also addicted to learning. With every writing craft book or blog post I read, or workshop I take, I learn something, and I incorporate bits and pieces of everything into my process. How do I choose which bits and pieces? It feels good or right. It fits.
I’m an unapologetic pantser, but I generally outline after the first draft, and even though I may not have a formal outline to write by, I always know where my story is going. I know the end and major events before I begin. I may even have sketched out scenes and characters before I get to the actual drafting. I do a lot of preliminary work in my head (read, incubating).
According to some coaches, that’s a form of outlining. *bats eyelashes endearingly*
I’ve tried alpha readers (who read an early draft), beta readers (who read later drafts), professional editors, reviews of the first X pages, first act (some of this done with Jenny – see nominees, below) . . . I generally give everything a try once and decide by the results I get whether I’ll do it the same way next time or not.
In this moment, here’s how my process works:
Ideas emerge from dreams. I, like many writers, dream in story. It may be a bit surreal, but they’re full-colour movies, sometimes even in three acts. This used to happen a lot when I was a kid, but now, I might get one or two story dreams a year. Still, that’s a fair backlog of ideas.
Ideas emerge from journaling. I started keeping a journal in university when knowledge from different disciplines kept colliding in my skull. Now, I find that my curation is taking the place of journaling. I share the articles and posts that make me think or feel and that becomes a kind of record. I also use Evernote.
Ideas emerge from reading. I’m a “clip-rat.” If I read something physical that makes me think, I clip it, or make a copy and save it in my idea file.
Ideas emerge from exercises or prompts. This is not as frequent as I’m not keen on exercises and prompts, but on a few occasions, it’s worked. Gerod and the Lions resulted from a Natalie Goldberg prompt.
I used to draft long hand because that was the tool I had most easily available to me. The idea that became Initiate of Stone filled two large spiral-bound notebooks.
Then, I started to type.
That gave way to word processing when I got my first computer. Those were the DOS days of black screens and orange text.
Now, I rely mostly on Word, and though I have purchased Scrivener, I’ve found that the process of importing and formatting is a bit cumbersome. I’d rather be writing. But I have enrolled in a course, so that may change.
After drafting, I let things sit for a while and move onto other projects, or work on short stories, or do something completely unrelated like home renovation or gardening.
I print out my draft as economically as possible and read it through.
I “map” my novels out. It’s an outline of sorts and I can easily rearrange, cut, and rewrite based on my map. Mapping is done long hand and then transcribed into a computer document.
Beat sheets and edit notes are generally long hand as well. I usually relocate to the living room or some other place than my office to make these notes.
Once I have all my structural work and edit notes completed, I’ll launch into editing the draft, copying each chapter into a new document and rewriting/editing it fully before moving on to the next.
This process repeats until I’m satisfied.
Alpha or beta readers, or editors might come in around the third or fourth version.
And that’s pretty much how it’s gone to this point.
My process is continually subject to change.
And finally, my nominoms (da-doo-da-do-doo – yes, I’m a Muppet at heart).
Jenny Madore (writing as JL Madore)
JL Madore didn’t find writing so much as it found her. Waking each morning with a vivid cast of characters tangled in chaos in her head, it seemed essential to capture them on the page. With Blaze Ignites and Ursa Unearthed published and receiving rave reviews, she’s turning her attention to Watcher Untethered, an unpublished paranormal/erotic romance manuscript which just won 4th place in the Toronto Romance Writers – The Catherine. Aside from spinning tales of elves, weres, demons and fallen angels, she’s also Vice President of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region, a 300 member writing organization just outside of Toronto. www.jlmadore.ca
Rochelle Sharpe (writing as R.L. Sharpe)
I’ve been telling stories since I could talk and started writing them down when I was 8. It will take an awful lot to stop me – like death. Some say I’m a dreamer, and I have my head in the clouds, but I say that’s better than having two feet planted firmly on the ground.
I define myself as a storyteller. Writing is my life. Through writing I get to record all the worlds I have been blessed with discovering, worlds I would love to share with you fully one day, as soon as I can convince a publisher my worlds are worth sharing 🙂
I spend most of my time in fantastical worlds with fantastical people, both I have created and those created by others, and there is no other way I’d rather spend my time.
I work hard on making my dreams come true. And I believe in myself, because if I don’t, who else will?