Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to work

Is anyone else wondering where Summer went? I am. Can't believe the kids go back to school next week. I, personally, could use another month now that I realize Fall is around the corner. There's no denying it: We drove to St. Louis last week to visit family and noticed that trees all along I-94 have begun to shed their green in favor of autumn hues. Already.

Too short, as always, but the summer was well spent. Especially that week with family. I hadn't seen my brothers in far too long and we spent the days simply enjoying each other's company. I suppose people who see their family members all the time can take laughter around the table or debates over news stories or sitting in silence together for granted. I was good, I didn't.

In fact, I didn't write a single word on my story during the entire week. Oh, I thought about it. Even opened my laptop on a few occasions, but I didn't want to immerse myself in my other world and run the risk of missing out on what was happening around me in my real world.

I'm now behind on my word count and won't have the book finished in four days as planned, but hey, it was worth it. On the drive home I felt refreshed in a way that has nothing to do with sleep. I popped in a Michael Jackson CD as rain fell across I-80 and managed to untangle a web of story snares I've been wrestling with for weeks. I couldn't write the ideas down (since I was driving and all), but managed to remember all the plot solutions until we got home. They're now safe on a piece of paper covered with squares of scribbles that only mean something to me.

They mean a lot to me. Because now, with about 88 pages to THE END, it's back to work.


Monday, August 04, 2014

Blog in the Round

I was very excited to be invited to participate in Blog in the Round - 4 Questions and Pass It On by Montlake Romance author Liane Spicer. She and I have traveled some of the same ups and downs in our writing journey and she’s been a wonderful colleague and faraway friend in my writing world. I’m honored that she thought of me. Liane was asked to participate by the fabulous Marissa Monteilh. Blog in the Round is a great way for readers, and other authors, to get to know us better, and it demonstrates the amazing author camaraderie and support that we have for each other.

So, here goes:

What am I working on/writing?

I am about 25,000 words from the end of my latest fantasy romance that features a pretty awful villainess. I have to say that she’s a blast to write. There’s something about her having no sense of remorse that allows the words to flow. She’s easy to define, which makes the heroine – her opposite – easy to define and write as well. When I finish this WIP, I plan to take a break and write a novella or two before diving into the WIP’s sequel.

How is my writing/work different from others in its genre?

When I published Where Souls Collide seven years ago, African American authors who wrote paranormal, fantasy and sci-fi, seemed hard to find. Over the years, I’ve found that’s not really the case. We’re out there, but more importantly (to me), I don’t want my work to be defined by color.

My characters are diverse and their everyday problems – from finding love, to unemployment, to the threat of divorce – are universal. I always work around a theme of second chances because I believe every person and every character deserves another chance to get it right. I just happen to find that so much easier to ensure with a little supernatural intervention.

Why do I write what I do?

My kids have heard the story of how I loved Mio My Son (by Astrid Lindgren) over and over and over. I read it in the fourth grade and I still remember how devastated I was by the idea of eating subtraction soup: the more you ate, the hungrier you got! Who would think of something like that? I guess it got my mind going because I gravitated to stories depicting fantasy worlds. Eventually my fascination spread to my TV viewing because Outer Limits, Twilight Zone and the Night Stalker became my favorite shows. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Toni Morrison and, later, Anne Rice became my favorite authors.

Not to mention that my mother was an AVID romance reader! I’d go behind her and read as many of her paperbacks as I could. I practically inhaled those books as a teen. It would be many years later before I merged my two reading loves – romance and the supernatural, but once it happened I haven’t really thought of writing anything else.

How does my writing process work?

I sit down and I start writing. Not true. I sit at the computer and usually waste a good 20 or 30 minutes online. I do. But I keep a writing journal and at the start of each month I list 4-5 writing-related goals for the month. They include a target word count, a social network action, something related to industry memberships or craft workshops, and web site tweaks. It’s the word count that gets me offline and on to writing.

When I look at the clock and see how much sleep I can get after two hours of writing (I do have a day job), I pull up my iTunes and start my WIP’s playlist. Music is an integral part of writing for me. My current playlist includes movie soundtrack music (from Inception, Looper and Thor, for example), along with alternative songs from groups like Muse, rock from Evanescence, and pop from Bruno Mars. It’s eclectic but the overall list works together to set a desired mood while specific songs help direct the characters’ actions. 

I write until I either fall asleep, surpass the word goal or the characters stop talking for the night. Then, I log my word count and words written for the day in my journal, make a few notes for the next day and shut off the computer. (But there are always sticky notes nearby because the mind never stops!)

Thanks for dropping in. You can always visit me here or on Facebook or Twitter as well. And be sure to stop by Liane’s page, too.

‘Til next time, happy reading!