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.


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

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

Check her out on the web:


  1. I love reading interviews you do, Karen. They are always so entertaining. And I totally get the whole write on post-it's at stop lights, although I usually write on the back of check registries, lol. Can't wait to read about your girls someday. :)

  2. Thank you so much, Heather. That means a lot to me. :D Check registers, lol. Love it. I can't wait for you to read about them too. They are so special!


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