Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Process Project -- More from Louise Lindley!!

Welcome to week seven of the Process Project!! If you don’t know about us already, please visit The Process Project page to find out more about this project, and read interviews with other authors.

Today is a continuation of yesterday’s interview with the lovely Louise Lindley (like that alliteration there? ;)). To read the firstpart of her interview, click here! Today we are going to talk to Louise about how she writes! On to the questions!

JB: When do your best ideas come to you? What are your best brainstorming times?
Walking the dog and in the bath! Occasionally, last thing at night when I get into bed. When I was at the end of Bruises, about to write the last chapter, I knew how it was going to end but I couldn’t figure out what the order of events would be. I also wanted to give you something that would make you want book 2. I was lying in bed one night staring at the ceiling, my mind turning over. My husband was in the bathroom and walked out to me all of a sudden saying ‘OMG, that’s it, that’s what I have to do…’ He gave me that ‘she really has lost it this time!’ look, and offered to go back into the bathroom and come out again. I had the perfect ending…
To be honest, inspiration can come from anywhere, often when you’re least expecting it.

JB: What is your writing routine? Do you have any writing rituals?
LL: As a busy mum of boys who are now 6 & 8, I can’t be too choosy about where, when and how I write. I pick up whatever I’m working on in the oddest of places: while watching swimming lessons; in the school playground; the doctor’s office. I’ve been known to sit with a head full of foils under the dryer, tapping away!

When I’m at home I can get a little carried away if I’m really into a story. I might be sat at the table I use, overlooking the garden, in the afternoon, or I might be sat on the couch in the evening, after the boys have gone to bed. I can fully absorb myself in my work wherever I am, especially in the busy coffee shop where I wrote most of my first (& second) novel. I nearly always have a large bottle of water on the go, but as a dedicated caffeine addict I love to sip a latté too. One thing I do like to do is spread myself out, but then I do that with everything -cooking, crafting, sewing, putting my makeup on, getting dressed… I like space so I can access all my iThings, notebooks, pen case etc. easily. When I tie my hair back I have a habit of ramming a pencil into the ponytail for easy access, often forgetting it’s still there when I leave wherever I am!

JB: When you are preparing to write a new story, what kinds of techniques or methods do you use to organize your ideas?
LL: I love notebooks! I have at least 3 or 4 on the go at one time, one of which is currently my 365 journal that I write something in everyday. I also have a quote journal, and I’m tweeting a quote every day. When I first began writing I had no idea where my story came from, it just kind of evolved while out walking the dog and listening to music. I then threw down all my ideas for characters and story line in a battered old notebook I found on a shelf in my husband’s study (I think his tax receipts were supposed to be recorded in it but it was empty!). In no particular order, anything and everything I thought of became notes. Then I broke it down into sections, a summary of each character – what they looked like, personality, family history, work history, etc.. The story became mind maps in the form of rough chapters. I have known the ending of each novel before I began to write; my story might have changed slightly along the way, but essentially I always knew exactly where it was going to end up. Then I started to write, working through the notebook, ticking off the bits I’d used. I recently got to know a mum at my boys’ school, who is also writing her first novel. She has a background in animation scripts, so she showed me how she organizes her thoughts, and it was interesting to learn that a more professional approach was actually a similar process to my more amateur attempts that I’d developed naturally. The most useful thing I learned was that she used Post-It notes in her notebook, so she could move them around her story board. I am in the process of trying this myself now with my fourth novel, and so far I like it.

JB: When you’re on the road and ideas come to you, what do you usually do?  
LL: I always have a notebook… always!

JB: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work?
LL: I write each chapter as a separate file, but save them to one folder – in more than one location, my hard drive & in Dropbox. I try to keep my notes together as much as possible, but honestly if anyone looked through one of my notebooks they would never believe it was turned into a novel. I was much clearer in my first two novels (which are essentially one story I cut in half) where it was going & how I was going to get there, so it was fairly easy to structure. With my third, I tried out some different approaches: I wrote in in the first person; I started the book at the end of the story and then took you through the events that led up to the main character being in the situation she was in… it felt odd at first and took some planning, but once I was into it, it was fun to write!

JB: When it's time to revise/edit your work, do you have any particular methods that you use to help you through the process?
LL: I always read a chapter through when I’ve finished it, just to correct my dyslexic fingers and make sure what I’ve written does actually make some sense. I find I can read something a gazillion times before I notice something so obvious. I failed English at school, my grammar and punctuation is appalling (& don’t even get my husband started on my spelling!), as far as I’m concerned as long as my imagination and basic story structure is there, I let the professionals (i.e. my husband!) worry about the rest. I always read the ‘finished’ work from beginning to end before I start any sort of editing, and nearly always on my phone so I’m not tempted to correct any minor mistakes, I just read it like a book and make notes of any major changes I want to make. I have a very supportive group of close friends who love to read my work and give honest feedback. One of my biggest critics is my mother-in-law, who can look beyond all the bad bits and constructively criticize the deeper aspects of the book. I changed the story slightly in my first novel as a result of this and it worked much better. Essentially, editing for me is just going back over it enough times that I’m happy it works.

JB: Is there any advice you can give to writers struggling to get the words flowing?
LL: You have to believe in yourself and write what you want to read. Don’t write what you think people want you to write, write it for yourself, the way you would want to read it. We all have our own styles, it will make you more comfortable and confident with your work and hopefully encourage the words to flow better.

Write something everyday, doesn’t matter what it is, the shocking weather… what you had for breakfast… the fool who thinks he can still get through the closing doors on the Skytrain...what your kids said when you told them they’re going to Legoland on vacation (mine don’t actually know yet so don’t tell them!)...or just simply how you’re feeling that day. WRITE. IT. ALL. DOWN. You never know when you might want to go back through all that nonsense and use it.

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I want to extend a HUGE thank you to Louise for providing such rich answers to our questions! I hope you enjoyed her story as much as I did! Thanks Louise!!!!

You can follow her on the web here!
And you can get your copy of her debut novel, Bruises!

Louise grew up in the North-East of England. In 2004 she moved to Canada with her husband, for what was supposed to be one year. Ten years, two children, two cats and a dog later, she appears to be staying. She worked as a registered nurse until giving up her career to raise her family. When she was diagnosed with a chronic disease, she turned to writing, combining her knowledge of the medical world with personal life experiences. She currently lives in Vancouver with her husband and two boys. Bruises is her debut novel. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Process Project: Meet Louise Lindley!

Welcome to week seven of the Process Project!! If you don’t know about us already, please visit The Process Project page to find out more about this project, and read interviews with other authors.

Today’s interview is going to be broken into two segments, you can read the continuation of our interview tomorrow!

MEET LOUISE LINDLEY!

Louise grew up in the North-East of England. In 2004 she moved to Canada with her husband, for what was supposed to be one year. Ten years, two children, two cats and a dog later, she appears to be staying. She worked as a registered nurse until giving up her career to raise her family. When she was diagnosed with a chronic disease, she turned to writing, combining her knowledge of the medical world with personal life experiences. She currently lives in Vancouver with her husband and two boys. Bruises is her debut novel.

And now, for the questions...!!

JB: What is/are your main genre/field of writing?
LL: Romantic fiction, my first novel has been classified as “erotica,” but honestly, despite its steaminess, is very tasteful.

JB: Do you think your genre of writing informs your process? 
LL: I don’t think so. I imagine I would use the same process if I wrote a different genre. I consider myself a bit of an amateur, so I’m not sure what other process I would use to be honest. I just do what comes naturally.

JB: Who/what inspires you?
LL: Writers: JK Rowling, she taught me to believe in myself.
Personal friends/relatives: My mother-in-law for her courage & my best friend for her loyalty and selfless support.
I am inspired by the fact my life often feels like a test I didn’t study for, but somehow manage to pass and move forward.

JB: And most importantly: why do you write?
LL: Where do I begin?! First you should know that since 2010 I have suffered from a chronic arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. Essentially my spine is slowly fusing. It is normal for people like me to suffer chronic pain, but look completely normal. I self-inject two mls of very expensive fluid, known as a biologic, every three weeks, as well as a whole host of other medications I take orally for the other parts of me the disease affects. You may find it interesting and amusing to know that I take Viagra for very poor circulation! Since before my definitive diagnosis I have attended physiotherapy 1-2 times a week. I usually have IMS treatment – fine needles inserted into my muscles to stimulate then relax them. This is often very intense, and causes a lot of discomfort/pain. It is an essential part of my quality of life, and why I look so ‘normal’. This disease rules many aspects of my life: what I eat (I can’t eat starchy foods), what activities I can do, where I sit, how long I sit for, if I can put my own socks on, how I play with my kids, if I can play with my kids, if I sleep, etc., etc.. I could go on and on. It has taken many things away from me; things that I never thought it could possibly get its evil claws into. It has forced me to retired from nursing due to ill health.

When I turned forty, which in itself didn’t bother me, I began to notice that as my boys were becoming more independent, I was becoming more brain dead. I had lost my identity, a common problem when you stay at home with your kids apparently. Whenever I met people who hadn’t seen me for a while I would either be asked about the boys, or if the inquirer knew about my physical condition, I would hear a very patronizing ‘and how are you?’ Honestly, I felt like a walking disease, but I didn’t have anything else to steer the conversation away from these two subjects.

This was all around the time that Fifty Shades was gaining momentum. I read it, of course, and a whole host of others popular at that time, and began to get bored and frustrated with the same format that was being used for all of these stories. I didn’t get why we had to be so crude and raw about this subject, why couldn’t we have all the steam but be more tasteful about it. As I mentioned earlier, English was not my strongest subject, but I was always told at school that I had a good imagination. And so it began, my mind turned everything on its head and created a story that gives the reader characters they can relate to, with more realistic jobs and life issues, with tasteful, but smouldering bits in between, and most importantly, no obvious ‘happy ever after’.

Suddenly, I became more interesting, enthusiastic, and animated about ‘what I do’. Nobody ever expects you to reply ‘oh yeah, I’m a fictional novelist’ let alone an erotic one at that. I had an identity again; my brain had been resuscitated, and I had found the perfect escapism from the cruel realities of chronic disease. Most importantly a published novel is something my disease can never take away from me… that is why I write!

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Check back in tomorrow when we delve a little deeper into how Louise writes.

In the meantime, you can follow her on the web here!
And you can get your copy of her debut novel, Bruises!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Process Project: Meet Karen Bynum!


Welcome to week six of the Process Project!! If you don’t know about us already, please visit The Process Project page to find out more about this project, and read interviews with other authors.


MEET KAREN BYNUM!

Dragons, unicorns, genies…oh my! NA/YA author, coffee-lover, olive-hater, tea-drinker, music-listener. Random becomes me. Married to a genius. Mother of a human baby and a furry baby. Easily distrac --  Rep'd by AKA Literary, LLC.

And now, let’s hear some more about Karen’s writing process...
 
JB: What is/are your main genre/field of writing?
KB: I started out writing Young Adult paranormal romance, but as I looked back on my seven completed works, I realized only two of them were true Young Adult stories. I really write more New Adult urban fantasy/romance with diverse characters.

JB: Let’s talk a little about your writing routine and rituals. First, do you have a writing time or day?
KB: Before my little *cue Gollum voice* precious was born, I used to write at 4:30AM (insanity, right?), but now I covet every second of sleep…so I write throughout the day when he naps.
JB: Music you listen to? Need silence?
KB: Uh, none! Unless it’s totally instrumental. But, I prefer silence. All the better to hear the voices, my dear. :P

JB: Do you drink or eat something special?
KB: Hmm, it varies…coffee, chocolate, some kind of carb, or hot tea. I tend to eat more when I’m editing/revising then when I’m creating new worlds.

JB: When do your best ideas come to you?
KB: On the treadmill, in the shower, and on long drives.

JB: When you’re on the road and ideas come to you, what do you usually do?
KB: Jot them down at a stop-light on the Post-It notes I keep in the console or put them in Google Keep on my phone.

JB: When you are preparing to write a new story, what kinds of techniques or methods do you use to organize your ideas?
KB: Back in the day, I pantsed my way through many a novel. I’d just open a Word document and race through the tunnel until I saw the The End light. The problem with that was plot holes, flat characters, and rushed endings. While all those things are fixable and did get fixed -- because I have an amazing editor -- I wouldn’t have had to work as hard if I’d known more of my characters’ backstory, goals, motivations, and conflicts. After loads of hard work and experience, I’ve found plotting -- at least fleshing out goals, motivations, and conflicts (GMC) -- helps the words flow easier and the edits less intense.

JB: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work?
KB: Even though my thoughts about the story don’t always come in order, I still write linear. I’ve tried writing by scenes, but it just ticked me off because I ended up having to rewrite those scenes completely since things changed.

So instead, I start each story out with a few notes about the world-building and GMC, scribbled on Post-Its or in old notebooks, and then I launch into the words. Fingers to keys. Eyes to screen. Voices chatting away inside my head.

I do find plotting out a few overarching ideas/turning points helps. And I use Michael Hauge’s Plot Structure for that. But I can’t plot too intensely because if I do, and I know everything that’s going to happen, it just kills the story for me. (I had that happen just recently. Argh!)


JB: ​When it's time to revise/edit your work, do you have any particular methods that you use to help you through the process? ​
KB: After I type The End, I usually don’t look at that story for at least a week…maybe two, if I can wait that long. ;) Then, I read the entire thing over a couple days while taking notes on repeated concepts/phrases and things that need to be tweaked/rewritten. I get those things done, send to my beta readers, and cut out overused words while I await their feedback. After I make the beta reader adjustments I read it one more time, and then it’s off to my freelance editor (*insert plug here* Danielle Fine is ALL THE AWESOME, seriously, don’t know where I’d be without her). Once she’s worked her magic -- AKA we’ve done about a gazillion rounds of edits until it’s shiny like a diamond -- it’s off to my agent!

JB: What do you do when you're stuck?
KB: Keeping the momentum going is a huge help. So even if I only write ten words one day it’s something. If I’m plugging right along and suddenly seem to have worked myself into a corner, I’ll do something else for a few minutes -- laundry, dishes, eat a snack. Anything that I can accomplish in a short amount of time, and then I go back to my manuscript. Usually, I’ll have worked out the problem by not thinking about it for a bit. And I always try to remember, “First drafts don’t have to be good. They just have to be written.” Because… “You can’t fix a blank page.”

JB: And most importantly: why do you write?
KB: To be honest, guilt. LOL Writer’s guilt is real and alive in me. If I don’t meet my daily word count the voices in my head make me feel horrible. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE writing… It’s an escape -- and it’s like playing God to the worlds I build. But, it definitely is something I have to do. If I don’t, all the worlds I have in my head will collide and my soul will implode. I need those worlds on paper! I need to keep my soul intact! So, yeah, that’s why I write. :P

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Want to read more by Karen Bynum? You can check out here books (and download FREE below!)

Check her out on the web:



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Process Project: Meet D.D. Syrdal!

Welcome to week five of the Process Project!! If you don’t know about us already, please visit The Process Project page to find out more about this project, and read interviews with other authors.

MEET D.D. SYRDAL!!!

D.D. Syrdal lives just outside Portland, Oregon, where her yard is frequently visited by deer, raccoons, skunks, pheasants, and neighborhood cats. You can purchase her latest release, Revenants Abroad, on Amazon and Smashwords.

And now, to the questions!

JB: Why do you write?
DD: Mostly I just keep getting ideas. I can be watching the most banal show or movie, and something a character says or does will trigger something. I never know.

JB: What do you write?
DD: Science fiction and fantasy are my main areas of interest in writing. I have also written a couple of ghost stories, and would like to do more.

JB: Do you have any writing rituals?
DD: I really don’t have any rituals. Mostly I’m just plunked down either in my living room or bedroom with my laptop on my lap. A few years ago during NaNoWriMo I discovered I can really crank out the words at a write-in (we were meeting at a local Panera Bread) and I’d like to go to cafes more, but in the interest of saving money I usually just work at home.

JB: Do you have a particular time of day you like to write?
DD: Nope, whenever something pops into my head. It could be in the middle of the work day at the office, and I’ll get a couple lines and quickly type them into a Word document. Now, that said, despite the fact that I am and always have been a morning person, I generally get no writing done in the mornings. I tend to find it easier to get into ‘the zone’ in the evenings, which is tough. I have to get up very early for my day job, so I can’t stay up at night writing. It’s very frustrating!
JB: Do you listen to music when you write or do you prefer silence?
DD: Sometimes I get ideas from music, whether it’s the title of a song, a single phrase, or a whole song, but usually for the actual writing silence is best for me. I can listen to soundtracks sometimes, but anything with singing is too distracting.

JB: Do you drink or eat something special when writing?
DD: No, not at all. I nearly always have something to drink, either water, tea, or coffee, but there’s no magic elixir. Just stay hydrated.

JB: How do you prep your ideas for writing?
DD: I have a couple of little notebooks that I scribble ideas, scenes, bits of dialog as they come to me, but I have no formal method of organizing. I don’t use index cards, or storyboard. Maybe I should, maybe I’d get more done!

JB: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work?
DD: I have never been an outliner, total pantser all the way. I used to (and still do when I have to) open a new Word document for each new scene, but I started using yWriter a few years ago and really like it. I got Scrivener a few months ago, but it’s not portable the way yWriter is (I have it on a thumb drive that I take with me to work) so I haven’t used Scrivener as much. yWriter is simple, free, and it’s easy to create new scenes and chapters which is very helpful instead of having everything in one big file.

JB: When you’re on the road and ideas come to you, what do you usually do? 
DD: Oh, I wish I had a good answer for this. I try to remember it long enough to write it down at the first light I get stuck at. I did finally buy a digital voice recorder, but if you do that, be sure you know how to operate it without fumbling for the ‘record’ button while you’re driving. This of course only works if you remember to bring it with you.

JB: ​Do you have any techniques you use while revising?
DD: Read it out loud. It’s also crucial to set something aside for a while, and come back to it fresh so you can hear where the rhythm is choppy or awkward. I also like using the “search” and “replace” functions in Word to zap my problem words. I have a few that I overuse and that’s a great way to get rid of them. Also I love editminion.com to catch things. Using that really helps me tighten the writing and clean up junk words and phrases, repetitive phrases.
​ 
JB: Is there any advice you can give to writers struggling to get the words flowing?
DD: Just start writing anything. I know everyone says that, but honestly it works. It doesn’t matter what. “My cat is weird today.” “I wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow.” Anything. Get outside and go for a walk, or pull weeds. Watch a movie that you’d normally never watch. Read something you wouldn’t normally read. The point is to pull yourself out of the pattern that’s keeping you stuck.

I want to thank D.D. for taking the time to share her answers to these questions, and to shed a little more on her writing process with us fellow writers. Want to read more by D.D. Syrdal? Check her out on the web here! Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Wattpad | Smashwords | Amazon



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Process Project: Meet Jamie White!

Welcome to week four of the Process Project!! If you don’t know about us already, please visit The Process Project page to find out more about this project, and read interviews with other authors.
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MEET JAMIE WHITE!

This week we’ve had a chat with author Jamie WhiteJamie White is a music addict, book lover, pet servant, and NaNoWriMo survivor.  When she's not busy writing or posting on her blog her blog, she's taking pictures for her photo blog and spending time with her husband and pets.

Now let’s get down to business; here’s what Jamie had to say about her writing process!

JB: What are your main genres?
JW: Paranormal/New Age (New Adult)

JB: Do you have any writing rituals?
JW: I always listen to music. :) Sometimes, I will sing along to my playlist before I start a writing session. I also sometimes set up a crystal kit on the desk when writing. Each stone was chosen for it's unique properties and how they relate to writing. 

JB: Do you think your genre of writing informs your process?
JW: I think it definitely inspires some of that -- the crystal kit, for example. I also think singing with the playlist is also related, because music is like meditation for me and it gives me energy and focus.

JB: When do your best ideas come to you?
JW: I'm totally a night owl, although I have been slowly waking earlier, much to my annoyance. LOL

JB: When you are preparing to write a new story, what kinds of techniques or methods do you use to organize your ideas?
JW: I have started to make folders for each work where I include any notes I made, the drafts, editing rounds, etc. 

JB: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work?
JW: I usually have just started with a vague idea and let the muse take it from there, but I recently started making outlines. Usually just a list of bullet points for the different chapters. 

JB: When you’re on the road and ideas come to you, what do you usually do?
JW: I usually have a notebook with me, so I write them down as soon as I get the chance.  

JB: When it's time to revise/edit your work, do you have any particular methods that you use to help you through the process?
JW: Lots of caffeine. Seriously, though, I just play some music to get me through. I like to edit by hand when possible, it saves me some time in front of the computer screen and I think you catch more that way.  

JB: And most importantly: why do you write?
JW: Because it's fun. Seriously, I think that's the real motivation any writer needs. If you're not enjoying it, what's the point? I think that passion translates to the page and readers will be able to tell if you're going through the motions and not really having fun with it. 

JB: To sum up, is there any advice you can give to writers struggling to get the words flowing?
JW: I think a change in scenery is good muse fuel. If you're stuck while sitting at home, go out to a coffee shop or something and write there. If you usually write on the computer, try handwriting a bit. It can be a huge help when you need to reconnect with the muse.

I want to say a very big THANK YOU to Jamie for answering our questions and participating in the Process Project! You can leave questions or comments for Jamie below!

Want to read Jamie’s work? She released Stains on the Soul and Clutter via Pagan Writers Press in 2013. Visit Amazon’s Jamie White page to see all of her books and download your copies today!

And check her out on the web here!
AND! Great News! The sequel to Stains on the Soul just released on February 25, 2015!!

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