The Writing Process Blog Hop

Last week my British Firebird sister Natalie Meg Evans tagged me to carry on the Writing Process Blog Hop. Natalie is a Golden Heart® finalist and has recently released her debut novel The Dress Thief with Quercus Publishing.

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And now, the Blog Hop has hopped its way to Australia:

What Am I Working On?

I’m about halfway through writing Book 11—a New Adult paranormal fiction about angels, set in London.  Of course, I’m also editing Book 10 which is a Contemporary Single Title, set in Brisbane.

My agent, Nikki Terpilowski, is currently querying Book 6, so I can’t really touch that till we hear back from an editor.

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?

Most of my heroines are plain Jane nerds (you’ve got to write about what you know —hehe) with a self-deprecating sense of humour.  Plus, I need to have humour in all my books.  Even with the otherwise depressing setting of Book 11, there are still some laughs, a funny side to life.  Also, Book 11’s main characters are in their early to mid-20s instead of being teenagers.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

A story just comes to me—usually when I’m bored, like when I’m washing the dishes 🙂 —and I need to explore it.  I think this is why I write in so many different genres (so far, Young Adult, Fantasy, Women’s Fiction, CST and Paranormal), because my books are different stories that I want to tell the world, and myself.  I read all kinds of books—usually sweeping historical sagas, and I’m a big movie buff.  My books reflect my eclectic taste.

I am a pantser, ie. I don’t plot my books.  I let them come to me.  I let my characters talk to me—often when I’m driving by myself.  I let them pose problems that are difficult for me to fix, and say things that are hard for me to take back.  But I think, and hope, this means my books will be just as surprising for my readers.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I started writing when I was fifteen and my family was too poor to own a computer, so I wrote my first four manuscripts long-hand in exercise books (what Americans call notebooks).  I would write the chapters in order, often making up the story as I go, or at least having a point/scene later in the book that I’m writing towards.  I used to write up to 10+ pages a day and the following day, my friends would ask to read what I’d written so far.  At lunch time and other breaks, and even during class, I would write more.  My readers would sometimes read over my shoulder while I was writing! As a result, I’d completed 4 manuscripts by the time I was 17.

This ended when I entered university and got too busy with my studies and too critical of my work. I started about 20 manuscripts that I never finished.  Then in 2009, while on maternity leave, I came up with an idea for a novel and completed Book 5 in eight weeks.  This book was my 2012 Golden Heart® finalist.  After coming back from the RWA national conference that year, I decided to write like I had a deadline (really valuable advice I picked up at the conference).  It was important to me to prove to myself that I could finish a manuscript on demand because I want writing to be my career.

In less than 2 years, I have completed 5 manuscripts and I am now writing Book 11.

So, how have I managed to finish so many manuscripts?  I set myself an 800-word minimum goal daily.  I usually don’t sleep till I’ve reached this target.  Forcing myself to write something gives me something to edit later.

It also helps that I have a lovely critique partner in the US, military romance author Heather Ashby, who reads my books a chapter at a time.  Her feedback allows me to gauge whether my manuscript/ideas are working, and also motivates me to keep going.  As you can see, I’ve come full circle in a way.  I have a good friend reading my books as I write them again, just like in high school.

After the first draft, I print out the manuscript and edit it on paper (usually on the bus to/from my day job).  I input these changes to the doc file, add anything else I’ve come up with, then print again—this is where I do the layering. After doing this a few times, I enter the story in contests and/or send it to my agent to get further feedback. By the 4th to 8th draft, it’s usually pretty polished 🙂

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Now, please join me in a bit of virtual globetrotting as I pass the Writing Process Blog Hop baton on to my American Firebird sister, Lauren Christopher, who has promised to post her version next Monday.   Here is Lauren’s bio:

For nearly 25 years, Lauren Christopher has been a professional writer – writing video scripts for NASA, calendar copy, magazine articles, restaurant reviews, fashion pieces, and feature stories about everything from the history of auto racing to the origins of Santa Claus. But when she remembered one day that she’d always wanted to be a novelist, she turned back to fiction – and found her heart in romance. She’s now spinning tales of contemporary heroines and heroes who find their true loves as she found hers. Lauren lives in Southern California with her three teenage children and her hubby who makes it easy to believe in true love. She has an English degree from UCLA.

Lauren’s debut novel, The Red Bikini with Berkley Books is coming out on 1 July, 2014.  To see her writing process, check out her blog.

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8 thoughts on “The Writing Process Blog Hop”

  1. Thanks, Kay 🙂 I’m just making up for lost time 🙂 I’ve been writing for 21 years, so I still average out low 🙂

    Good luck with your 6th book! I first came up with Book 11 (my WIP) in 2008 in a dream. It was one of the books I started but didn’t finish–I think I got up to page 5. So if I count that, this book has taken 6 years to write so far! 🙂 And as for different genres and subgenres, I would get too bored writing just one 🙂 Besides, the stories come to me before the genre, so unless I ignore those characters that want to be written, then I can’t stay in one genre only.

    I hope to see you next year in New York?

  2. Catherine, the speed at which you write just blows me away. I’m working on my sixth manuscript, and it’s been at least fifteen years. I’m always glad to know I’m not the only one who writes in more than one subgenre! We’ll miss you in San Antonio.

  3. Very crowded indeed, Kerri! Thanks for dropping by 🙂 Nice to see one of my original readers commenting on my blog! 🙂

  4. Thanks for passing the baton to me, Natalie 🙂 It was fun writing this blog 🙂

    Book 11 is set mainly in Willesden Green-Kilburn in northeast London as that was my ‘hood when I was living there 🙂

    As for the hug, unfortunately, I won’t be going to San Antonio this year. Rain check till New York next year? 🙂

  5. Thanks for dropping by, Heather! And your continued support, encouragement and feedback 🙂

  6. Great Blog Catherine. I have always wondered what it would be like to spend a day in your mind! It sounds like it’s pretty crowded in there.

  7. Hi Catherine

    Thanks for giving me a name check.
    I’m in awe of the number of titles you have produced and the dogged determination we all need. I would love to read your London book. Which bit of London did you set it?

    I also admire your editing style. Personally, I hate seeing my work on paper because it reads so differently from on screen. I don’t know why this should be but it does. I do my layering in dozens of edits. I think the thing that comes through these blogs is that however you write, it is the ability to stick to the chair that pays off.

    I’m looking forward to giving you a hug in San Antonio.

  8. First of all, I absolutely love reading your books in “Serial Fashion,” a chapter at a time! I can’t wait to get the next chapter, but sometimes must wait several days. I LOVE this about you and your writing:

    “I am a pantser, ie. I don’t plot my books. I let them come to me. I let my characters talk to me—often when I’m driving by myself. I let them pose problems that are difficult for me to fix, and say things that are hard for me to take back. But I think, and hope, this means my books will be just as surprising for my readers.”

    I love the idea of characters talking to you and saying things “they can’t take back!” And yes, that does surprise us – but it surprises the reader as well. Also makes us think up solutions, but who said writing was easy.

    I have no doubt you will be published very soon. Your writing has dry humor, which I adore, and your characters are clever and interesting. I can’t wait to read your published books all in one bite – although I am enjoying them “one chapter at a time as well!” WRITE ON, CATHERINE!!!

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