Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Writing Process

I've noticed some other writers doing blog hop posts about their writing process, which looked like a lot of fun. I haven't been tagged for a blog hop, and I won't use a fixed set of questions, but I thought I'd go rogue and join in. Other writers' routines and habits have always interested me.

My process:

1. Drafting

When the first draft is going well, there's nothing like it. When it's going really, really well? It's like what the main character in Stephen King's Misery says: the page opens up and you fall in. Hours go by in a blink. Words and ideas flow. Fortunately, first drafts are allowed to suck. Usually, mine are like 200+ pages of word vomit. And that's okay.

When I'm writing a book, I usually get down about 1000 words on weekdays--between meals, laundry, cleaning, shopping, kids, etc--and 2500+ on the weekend. I write on a laptop, which lives on my desk in the office/sitting room area. This room is on the main floor next to the kitchen and has no door for privacy:

Or I write in my bedroom (which does have a door, obviously), where I sit on the bed, my back propped up with pillows, laptop table on my lap. (No, I'm not posting a pic of my bedroom)

It takes me anywhere from three to nine months to complete a first draft.

2. Revision

Usually, unless I'm doing NaNoWriMo, I revise as I go, reading over what I wrote the date before and then continuing. When Draft #1 is done, I go through the entire thing again on my laptop and edit page by page. Then I put it on my Kindle, which is a GREAT way to catch spelling errors and flow issues, and read it from beginning to end again. When I'm done, I go back to the laptop and fix mistakes, edit, rework, and deal with any pacing or consistency problems.

3. Beta Readers

I cannot stress enough how important this step is. Beta readers can be fellow writers or even just a friend who loves to read. Anyway, a good beta reader is honest and direct. They will tell you what works and what doesn't. They will catch mistakes and inconsistencies that you missed. They will praise the good, but also point out the bad. And there will be bad.

4. Revise Again

Now that I have notes from my beta readers, I do yet another revision. I take their suggestions and implement whatever screams "Oh my God, how did I not see that, they're totally right." Then I send re-worked scenes/chapters to my beta readers to make sure I'm on the right track. Then I read the manuscript on my Kindle again. After that, I go back for a final run-through until it's as perfect as possible. (By this time, I'm kinda getting sick of my own words.)

5. Send to Agent (if publishing traditionally)

My manuscript is now ready to be sent to my agent Carly. She reads it and sends me input on how to improve plot/characters/stakes. Carly always sends me fantastic edit notes, and it was mainly because of her spot-on suggestions that my fourth book, Faking Perfect, received three offers and then went on to get a two-book deal with Kensington Publishing.

Once I get my agent's notes, I proceed to--you guessed it--another revision. I think about Carly's notes, make changes, and send the manuscript back. While she's reading a second time, I work on evil-but-necessary things like the book synopsis (*shudder*). Then, once we're both happy with the revisions, off it goes on submission.

6. Formatting (if self-publishing)

I'm a hybrid author. From Writer's Digest: "A hybrid author is one who refuses to accept that there exists One True Way up the Publishing Mountain and who embraces all the methods available. The hybrid author prefers a diverse approach to getting her work out there, which means utilizing both the traditional system of publishing and also acting as an author-publisher in order to retain control and self-publish her own work."

For books I self-publish, I skip #5 and go to formatting for Amazon/Kobo/Smashwords/CreateSpace. By now, my book has been read and reread and edited so many times that I think I'd rather perform a root canal on myself with an icepick than look at it one more freaking time. But I do. I spend days formatting, periodically loading the finished product on my e-reader to see if it looks okay. By now, I have a cover and description and release date. I've also started marketing.

7. Publishing

For my traditionally-published books, the actual act of publishing is done for me. I'll admit, at this point, I'm very early in this particular process and not much has happened yet, so I can't truly describe it. For my self-published books, everything is up to me. I promote, hit the "publish" button on my pre-arranged release date, promote some more, do giveaways for visibility and reviews, etc. etc.

That's it! My book is now out in the world (or about to be). So, what do I do next? Ideally, this:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The day I've been waiting for...well...forever?

So this happened...

Can you read that? The middle one? Yes, that says I have a two-book deal with Kensington Publishing and my YA novel, FAKING PERFECT (which is the book I think I'm most proud of) will be out in Summer 2015.

I know it sounds corny and all, but this is a dream come true for me. I've known about this for weeks, but much like two years ago before the big ABNA announcement, I couldn't tell more than a few people and it was TORTURE. Now that's it's finally out there, I can say I HAVE A BOOK DEAL!!!

Most of my thanks has to go to my amazing agent, Carly Watters. She worked her butt off for me and never quit. We did it!

What is FAKING PERFECT all about, you may wonder? Well....

When seventeen-year-old Lexi Shaw seduced Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, her rules were perfectly clear: keep the relationship a secret, avoid each other around school, and most importantly, never get attached. But Tyler, school burnout and all-around bad boy, has never been one to follow the rules.

For Lexi, keeping secrets is imperative. After changing her image in tenth grade, she joined Oakfield High’s brainiest and most admired clique, led by overachiever Emily and brilliant, perfect Ben, the most sought-after boy in school and the object of Lexi’s unrequited crush. Her friends would never accept the real her, with the bad-girl ways she doesn’t always resist and an immature mother who’s too distracted with her creepy new boyfriend to remember to pay the bills. But her biggest source of shame is her father, a drug-addicted musician who abandoned her when she was four. The only person who knows the real Lexi is her neighbor and childhood friend, Nolan, and that’s the way she intends to keep it.

Inevitably, Lexi’s secrets begin to unravel, threatening the perfect image she worked so hard to build. Tyler starts to get attached, her friends become suspicious, and if all that isn’t stressful enough, she reconnects with the father she hasn’t seen or spoken to in thirteen years. Growing up, she heard countless stories about the terrible things he’s done. But as Lexi gets to know him—along with Tyler and Ben too—she discovers there are two sides to every story, and people aren’t always what they seem. And maybe the gap between who she is and who she wants to be isn’t as wide as she thought.

I had a ridiculous amount of fun writing this book and I'm excited for you all to read it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A huge THANK YOU to readers

I want to extend my thanks to the wonderful readers out there who have kept JUST YOU and SOMEONE ELSE on the Amazon.com Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance Best Sellers list for the past month. You all rock.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Looks for 2014!

My first two books, JUST YOU and SOMEONE ELSE have been outfitted with fresh, brand new covers. Also, both books have new and edited content, including new scenes, revised scenes, and a few detail changes. Print versions for both books are also in the works.

In other news, there will be a THIRD (and final) book in the Just You series coming later this year, so stay tuned for news and details about that.

Have a wonderful 2014, everyone!