Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Process Project: Meet K.C. Shaw!

Welcome to week three of the Process Project!! If you don’t know about us already, you can find out more here and read about other authors process: The Process Project.

I’m really excited to introduce to you a writer friend I met through Twitter, and she one of my oldest “twitter friends” K.C. Shaw! K.C. Shaw's fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her most recent novel, Wharf Rat, is available from Etopia Press. You can also find links to her short fiction and books on her website: http://kcshaw.net

And now…on to the questions!

J: Why do you write?
KC: I write books I want to read. I enjoy writing them even though it’s a lot of work, and I like knowing that other people will eventually read and enjoy what I’ve produced. Occasionally I get discouraged and think I should just give up writing -- but I honestly don’t think I could. Before long I’d get an idea and have to start writing again.

J: What do you write?
KC: I mostly write fantasy, but I also write young adult -- both YA Fantasy and Contemporary.

J: Do you have any writing rituals?
KC: I don’t really have any writing rituals, although I like to play music while I work. For years I carried a spiral notebook around with me and when I had a few minutes -- while on hold at work, during my lunch break, even stuck in traffic -- I’d write. These days I have more free time so I don’t usually cram writing time into odd moments like that, but it taught me how to focus on writing no matter the circumstances. I like writing in cafes, too. Once I’m really focusing, all the background noise fades away and doesn’t bother me.

J: When you are preparing to write a new story, how do you organize your ideas?
KC: I’ve tried all sorts of methods for plotting and world building, from
careful outlining with index cards to the Scrivener word processing program. The best method for me is a rough general outline scribbled on a piece of paper so I can look at it without minimizing my writing document or clicking away (because when I do that, I’ll have to check Twitter and mess with my playlist and oh yeah I’ve got to send so-and-so an email…). As I write, the outline inevitably changes a lot. I try to stay flexible and let the plot/characterization evolve -- it always means a stronger story.

J: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work?
KC: I work in one file, and that file has to be clean. I don’t want typos,
extra spaces, notes that say “insert description here” -- that sort of sloppiness doesn’t make the first draft come faster, it just drives me crazy. By the time I type “the end,” the manuscript should look like it’s ready to submit. Even during major revisions I have to keep the file clean. A sloppy manuscript makes my thinking feel jumbled.

J: What do you do when you're stuck?
KC: Set the work aside for a while and read other people’s books. Sometimes a plot just needs some extra cooking time and the solution will pop up when I least expect it. If it doesn’t, at least I got some reading time in. When I come back to the story, I reread what I have from the beginning. Sometimes that will help me see where it started to go wrong.

J: When it's time to revise/edit your work, do you have any particular
methods that you use to help you through the process?
KC: I open a second file during revisions. If I cut a scene, I copy it
into the second file so I’ve still got it in case I change my mind (but I never do). If I want to move a description or part of a scene, I first move it into the second file until I know exactly where I want to put it in the main document. That gives me plenty of freedom to hack up my text while still keeping that main file totally clean. I sound so anal!

I want to thank K.C. SO MUCH for answering these questions and participating in the Process Project! I hope you enjoyed reading her answers as much as I did!


Want to read more? Check K.C. out on the web here: K.C. Shaw || Lizzy and Jo || Goodreads || Twitter

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Process Project -- More from J.C. Davis!!

Welcome back to Week 2 of the Process Project Blog series! Today is a continuation of yesterday’s interview with J.C. Davis. Click here to catch up on the first half of our interview where we talked about how and why she writes. Today, we will find out a little more about how she writes and revises!

J: When you are preparing to write a new story, what kinds of techniques or methods do you use to organize your ideas?
JC: When I first get an idea, I jot it down on anything close to hand: the computer, a random bit of paper. At the first opportunity, I go into my computer, start a new Scrivener project and jot down everything I can about the idea. Later I'll flesh out details, but in that initial phase it's all about getting ideas on paper as quickly as possible. As other tidbits of info come to me, I'll add them as well. When I feel like I have enough of a story to go somewhere, I create a loose outline and start working from that. I'm a bit of a pantser but I still need a vague idea of where I'm headed and what's happening along the way. My initial story outline and ideas are usually wildly different from the end product, but the basic germ of the idea is there. My process is continually evolving as well so I try different techniques with each story and novel.

J: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work?
JC: I tend to use a rough outline. I use Scrivener for all my writing and I love, love, love the corkboard view with its little virtual note cards. I often create a bunch of blank note cards, jot scene ideas on them and then drag them around and fill in the gaps with other scenes until I've got a semblance of structure. Despite how organized that sounds, quite often while I'm writing a scene it may twist in a completely different direction and I follow wherever my fingers lead and worry about cleaning up the narrative later.

J: When it's time to revise/edit your work, do you have any particular methods that you use to help you through the process?
JC: I make a new copy of my file before I begin revisions so I always have that first copy to refer back to. Then I sort of dive into revisions. I make several passes, each focusing on different areas: plot consistency, sub-plots, foreshadowing, character development. As I go along I do line edits as well, tightening words and scenes as needed. I run a small writing group off of Scribophile.com so I actually post chapters after I finish them. Which is helpful for keeping my momentum going and having critique partners point out errors as I go. It helps my first draft stay fairly clean - though structurally it may be a mess. It also means my poor initial critique partners get to see my story waffling all about as I find my place. After I've finished the entire novel and my first revision I send it off to a different set of beta readers and wait for their feedback. Then revise. Resend. Rinse, lather, repeat until the manuscript is in good shape. With my current novel there have been half a dozen different revision passes.

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I want to thank J.C. for taking time from her writing, work, and family to answer these questions for us! Reading her answers can help all of us with our own writing processes. Thank you, J.C.!

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What to read more by J.C.? Her short stories have appeared in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine, Writing Tomorrow, and Spark: A Creative Anthology among others. You can find links to all of her work here: J.C. Davis. A programmer by day, J.C. Davis writes Young Adult & Middle Grade fiction, the occasional short story and has far too many hobbies to keep up with. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, two kids and a hedgehog named Percy Jackson. A second-generation book addict, she has piles of books in her house and a serious picture book habit that's transferred to both of her kids. Family visits to the library are a frequent and necessary thing in her household. She adores Doctor Who, Harry Potter and has an unnatural affinity for Monty Python skits.

Check her out on the web here: Website/Blog || Twitter: @JCDavisAuthor || Goodreads


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Process Project: Meet J.C. Davis!

Welcome to the Process Project!
Week 2, Day 1

MEET J.C. DAVIS!

Welcome to Week TWO of the Process Project. In case this is the first time you’re hearing about us, the Process Project is a blog series compiling answers to questions all writers should think about when it comes to their process. Many of us just write...we don’t think about how, or why, we do the things we do. Thinking about your own process can help you be more productive, and hearing about other writers’ processes can help you hone yours, or make you feel like you’re not as crazy as you think you are. And c’mon, it’s just downright interesting!

For week two, I’d like to introduce to you J.C. Davis. A programmer by day, J.C. Davis writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction, the occasional short story and has far too many hobbies to keep up with. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, two kids and a hedgehog named Percy Jackson. A second-generation book addict, she has piles of books in her house and a serious picture book habit that's transferred to both of her kids. Family visits to the library are a frequent and necessary thing in her household. She adores Doctor Who, HarryPotter and has an unnatural affinity for Monty Python skits. Her short stories have appeared in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine, Writing Tomorrow, and Spark: A Creative Anthology among others. You can find links to all of her work here: J.C. Davis.

J: First and foremost, why do you write?
JC: I write because I love stories. I am an intense book addict and I love making stories of my own in addition to reading as many books as I can. I average around 100 books a year and read across several genres. Words are a kind of magic that wrap around me. I can't imagine not adding to that deluge of words. I also have amazing friends, betas and critique partners who cheer me on and keep me in-line when I need it.

I suppose most writers will say they always wanted to be a writer, but that wasn't true for me. In college, I toyed with a few book ideas but never started any of them. Later, when I discovered the Harry Potter books, I fell so deeply in love that I had to scurry online to find other Potter-heads to share my obsession with. That led to the fascinating world of fan-fiction. I read some, decided I could definitely write that and then jumped in with both feet. I wrote a novel length fan-fiction with original characters and that gave me the confidence to know that I could finish a novel, that I could plot and that, at least according to other fans, I was a decent writer with a bit of potential. I put the world of fan-fiction behind me and started writing original work. My first novel was an utter mess. It's locked in a drawer and guarded by attack trolls. My second novel is the one I am currently submitting to agents.

J: Can you talk to us a little about the environment you write in?
JC: Ninety-nine percent of my writing is done on the train during my commute to and from work. I love the motion and the background noise; it unlocks my muse. When I need to, however, I can write almost anywhere, though I prefer a bit of quiet. A nearby library, my bed, my writing desk, all are fair game. I never listen to music while I write because the noise distracts me, pulls me out of the story and drops me into a different world.

J: When you’re writing, and you get stuck, what do you do?
JC: This is where writing on the train comes in handy. If I get stuck, I people watch and jot down descriptions of my fellow passengers and make up stories about them. I sometimes try asking my characters open-ended questions and then writing down the answers. I've tried free-writing whatever comes into my brain. If I am really, really stuck it normally means there's a plotting issue I'm missing so I go back to my loose outline and fiddle with it, possibly leap ahead a few chapters if I need to, just so I can keep my momentum going.

Want to read more?? Tune back in tomorrow to see how J.C. Davis writes and revises!


And, in the meantime, check her out on the web here! Website/Blog || Twitter: @JCDavisAuthor || Goodreads

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Process Project -- More from Amanda Pate!!

Welcome back to Week 1 of the Process Project Blog series! 

Today is a continuation of yesterday’s interview with the lovely Amanda Pate. Click hereto catch up on the first half of our interview where we talked about why she writes, what she writes, and how she writes. Today, we will find out a little more about how she writes and revises!

J:  When you are preparing to write a new story, what kinds of techniques or methods do you use to organize your ideas?
A: For the most part, it doesn't matter what genre I'm writing, I generally tackle the brainstorms and preparation in the same way. I allot at least a week for an idea to percolate. I make notes on my phone, in my journal, or anywhere I can keep track of what I write, and save it for a later time. During that week, I mull it over, think about it, try and discern the characters, what their basic personalities will be, etc. And after a week, or sometimes two, I can start my brainstorming process.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Process Project: Meet Amanda Pate!

Welcome to the Process Project!
Week 1, Day 1

MEET AMANDA!

To kick off our Process Project Blog Series, we’d like to introduce to you, Amanda Pate. Amanda has been published the 2012 and 2013 issues of The Baylorian for photography and for poetry, as well as the Oklahoma Baptist University Literary Journal, Scriblerus. You can read her latest project, By Order of the King, on Wattpad, which is updated on a bi-weekly basis! Read More About Amanda below. Now let's get to some of those questions!

J:  What are your main genres/fields of writing?
A: I write in a variety of fields. I have written in poetry, historical fiction, fantasy, and I've even tried my hand at contemporary realistic fiction. However, the genre in which I most enjoy writing is fantasy. I have written two novels in that genre, and I'm currently planning another.

J: Can you talk to us a little about your writing routine and rituals?
A: I feel like my writing routine is slightly peculiar. I cannot be in a place that has a lot of action going on, so coffee shops are a no-go. Even the library sometimes throws me off because I'm in a different environment. The best writing space is on my bed, in my room, with the door closed. I can't write in any other place. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Process Project

Over the next several months I am going do a blog series on how and why writers write. This will be a fun a way to open the topic of writers’ processes.

Every writer has his or her own process, and it's really interesting that each person's is different. Learning about processes from different perspectives, can help other writers to a) realize that they are just as "normal" as everyone else, even those who have been published, and b) help them to hone their own processes. I think it's a nice topic for discussion, and I've actually gotten quite a few people on board! I’m really excited :)

And I hope this will grow over the next year!!

I will begin posting entries this week, our first entry will be on Wednesday, February 11, and every subsequent Writer Wednesday!


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