My Writing Process

Thank you so much to Margaret Locke for inviting me to participate in the My Writing Process blog tour!

1)     What am I working on?

At present, I’m finishing a contemporary novella, a romance between a good girl staffer and a bad boy rocker. It grows out of my series, The Easy Part, but it’s uncontracted so I need to get back to my other work in progress: the third, untitled book for that series. I don’t want to say too much about that project, other than it’s set on the campaign trail, the hero is a Democrat, and the heroine is a Republican. It should be out next year.

Oh, and I have a book coming out in April (Special Interests) and I cannot wait  for you all to read it. (Cannot wait! But also feel a little sick about it going out into the world. Now I need some chocolate.) And I’m on the cusp of edits for my second Easy Part novel, Private Politics, which will be out in September.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Most of what I’m writing now is explicitly political. The characters fight about policy and their pillow talk is about fundraising. Other romance writers have considered ambitious, professional women in love (see James, Julie) and there certainly have been political romances (Unfinished Business, The American President, Strange Bedpersons, Fatal Affair)–but in general romance writers have been told to avoid such potentially controversial matters.

Beyond my sort-of-kind-of-different subject matter, what I have to offer is voice: fresh, smart, and witty.

I mean I hope. Jeez, I’m bad at self-promotion.

3)     Why do I write what I do?

The emotional core of the series what I’m writing now, the part that’s truest, is the experience of reaching your thirties and realizing that you didn’t change the world but that’s okay because you’ve found a better dream. In The Easy Part series, that new dream is romantic love and professional integrity.

I worked in politics for a couple of years after college and left for academia because I was disillusioned. But academics broke my heart in different ways. And those ways, and the new, better, cooler dreams that I found, power my current work.

I write the kind of romances I like to read: a hybrid alpha or beta hero who is certain pretty early on that the heroine is it for it for him, a smart, conflicted heroine who is making a choice, and a sexy, urban setting that’s very much a mash note to DC, a city which I love.

4)     How does your writing process work?

Each project I’ve written has started with the characters, two ghosts of people and the conflict between them. Then they’ll roll around in my mind for a while as I figure out more things about them. That early stage feels like marbles in a jar, tumbling around until I understand them. Eventually, I will come up with a couple of clearly defined scenes. If I feel like I need to, I’ll write these down; then I’ll start the book from the beginning.

So while I don’t plan the entire project in advance, I do write “toward” those set-piece scenes. And about halfway or three-quarters of the way through, I’ll write the synopsis. This generally helps me fix plotting or pacing problems. (I’ve written about why I as a pantser like synopses here.)

Music is important to me. Even though I don’t always write with it on, I do come up with a writing playlist for each book that captures tone and character. Certain songs become associated with certain books for me; when I hear them out of context, I get confused.

It usually takes me two writing sessions to write a chapter. Each writing session is 1, maybe 2, hour(s) long and in that time, I generally write 750 – 2000 words. Once it’s written, I skim through the chapter and do light editing, even though all the craft books say that’s evil.

I try to write every day. I mostly fail. A full-length book, which for me is 70-75,000 words, takes about three months to draft. Feedback and accountability are important for me otherwise I would never finish anything.

And that’s it!

Next week, Kimberly Truesdale will be posting about her writing processes. If you don’t know Kim, she is a writing and literature teacher who has a line from The Great Gatsby tattooed on her arm and has worn out at least five copies of Anne of Green Gables. She has published two historical romances with another on its way soon.

Also, she is awesome and I can’t wait to see what she has to say!

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2 thoughts on “My Writing Process

  1. “The emotional core of the series what I’m writing now, the part that’s truest, is the experience of reaching your thirties and realizing that you didn’t change the world but that’s okay because you’ve found a better dream.”

    I think this is my favorite part of your stories–that hey, life didn’t go quite as you expected, but that’s OK, because the unexpected stuff is better than you could have imagined.

    • That’s my favorite part too. It wasn’t until I sat down to write this post, and tried to think about the books I’ve written and am writing as a group, that realized that that’s my theme (at this point at least). I’ll need to break the mould and do something else, but I need to write through that issue first.

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