Monday, April 28, 2014

"My Writing Process" Blog Tour

I was tagged by Caitlin Sinead to take part in the "My Writing Process" Blog Tour. Be sure to check out Caitlin's post too and follow her on Twitter!

image by followtheseinstructions on flickr
What am I working on?

I'm polishing my YA contemporary fantasy MARK OF THE SIFTER.
Ingredients: a guy from another plane, dream visits, super powers, fear of insanity, torture, impossible choices. And, of course, love.
For more details, see Projects, then scroll down. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like speculative YA, and that's what I usually write—not sure if it differs that much, but I tend to get compliments on the relationships in my stories. How the characters interact and their dialogues are important to me. And while I don't create issue books, I incorporate contemporary topics, like in ROGUE HEALER (see Projects), which combines depression and aliens.

Why do I write what I do?

I write the kinds of books I love to read. Writing provides a wonderful escape from reality, and I love all my characters, even the antagonists. It's a great opportunity to explore issues that scare me—whether it's mental illness or the loss of a loved one—through the relative safety of a book I'm (more or less) in control of.

How does my writing process work?

My writing process is a work in progress. I'm learning-by-doing. I pantsed my first novel, and it worked well. The second and third...let's just say the road was bumpy. Which means I'm incredibly grateful for my hard-working CPs.

Since I ended up cutting and rewriting 35,000 words from my current WIP (yes, I'm still bleeding), I'm trying to bring more structure into the beginning of my process, using a combination of Dan Wells' Seven-Point-Plot Structure  and the Save the Cat beat sheet.

Here are my basic steps:

  • Get THE IDEA and let it stew until characters start talking to me and dialogues form in my mind.
  • Create a beat sheet, brainstorm world-building and characters.
  • Write the entire first draft, leaving * and comments anywhere details are missing. It usually looks like *ADD DESCRIPTION or *SETTING or *NAME or *AWKWARD.
  • If I notice something isn't working, I may go back to the beginning and make major changes before completing the first draft.
  • Go back and search for the * and fix them.
  • Let it sit (probably not long enough).
  • Make several passes for plot, timing, setting, language. Make sure chapter breaks make sense (I hate this part). Keep the beat sheet updated.
  • Send to CPs.
  • Revise.
  • Repeat the previous two steps until I'm happy.

Oh, and to add a bit of spice, I throw in the obligatory this-will-never-work-I-should-just-throw-it-away agony. At least twice.

Revisions are usually directly on screen, although I also read on my Kindle or make hard copies. The larger the expected revision, the more I like to work with paper. I also do at least one complete read-through out loud.

These fabulous ladies are up next on the tour!

Deana Barnhart is a thirty-something writer and mom of two. She writes YA fiction and is repped by Sarah LaPolla of the Bradford Literary Agency. She loves, in no particular order: watching her kids sleep, reading anything that will take her out of real life for a bit, spending time with her family and sharing her writing journey with fabulous people like you!

Follow Deana on Twitter: @DeanaBarnhart

An alumna of The City College of New York and the New School's creative writing programs, Jenn Baker is working on a linked story collection about an interracial family as well as YA novels with diverse characters. She's been a writer-in-residence at Ragdale, Jentel Arts, and Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and her writing has appeared in Poets & Writers magazine, Eclectic Flash, Boston Literary Magazine, and e-zines Around and 

Follow Jenn on Twitter: @jbakernyc 

Ifeoma Dennis lives on a somewhat-tedious-to-climb hill in the caribbean island of St. Vincent, but it pays off with a good view of the ocean and the boats. She is a medical student by day (and even at night), and a writer at all the odd scraps of time she gets. She loves fantastical worlds of magic and beautiful creatures, so little wonder that's what she writes!

Follow Ifeoma on Twitter: @IfeomaDennis

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My Beautiful Libraries

When I came to Germany on foreign study, my fellow American classmates used their first free time to locate the nearest pubs. I ran to the local library and applied for a library card. True story.

So you see, libraries are important to me, and I've been lucky to have some amazing ones in my life. The two most memorable so far are these.

I grew up in Highland, Michigan. In 1982, the public library moved from the tiny old post office building (which I also remember) to the old Highland United Methodist church.

Photo courtesy of the Highland Township Historical Society
The Highland Township Public Library was like a second home to me. The librarians knew my name before I pulled out my library card. And I can still feel my feet treading on the thin carpet as I walk between the aisles, searching for the next great adventure.

I moved away before the library was transferred to its current location in 2002, and despite visiting Michigan often, I haven't made it into the new building yet. Not sure if I want to.

Now, I live in Herzogenaurach, Germany, where the public library is in a...castle. Yes, a castle.

Inside, chandeliers light the way to your next escape from reality.

In the children's section, there's a tiny, locked door. The top of the stonework is at my shoulder, and I set my backpack in front of it for scale. What is this tiny, ornate door for, you ask? It remains a mystery.

How about you? Do you have a favorite library? If so, what makes it special?

All pictures by me (especially the fuzzy ones) unless otherwise noted.