Monday, January 13, 2014

2014 Writing Process Blog Hop

One of my goals this year is to do more promotion, and what better way to start, than by jumping onto the beginning of a blog hop that will hopefully run the whole year. I’d like to thank April Erwin for inviting me to join this blog hop, and introduce you to her.

April Erwin:

“I am a plethora of things in one. I love that word. Plethora. I heard it for the first time in The Three Amigos movie. I think it describes me pretty well. (Does that sound conceited? Hope not.) So, why am I a plethora? Let's see, I'm a novelist, a singer/songwriter, a certified graphologist, a photographer & Sunday school teacher. I love to read, scrapbook, travel, bake, & watch movies & TV. By day I write, and tutor reading and spelling to dyslexic and reading challenged individuals. Is that Plethorific enough?”

Here are the questions we’re each answering:

What am I working on?

My current WIP is the story of Kristen Jensen, a morbidly obese woman who goes through treatment with the addicts and alcoholics at the VA to treat her food addiction. The program is somewhat different from most in that it is based on SMART Recovery instead of the Twelve Steps. The book follows her through the program, outlining the basics of the program and digging into some of Kristen’s issues as she works the program and does her homework.

While she’s there, she meets Sean Wesley, lead singer of The Haystack, a country/rock band that’s been around for years. Although the VA doesn’t usually treat people with the kind of wealth Sean has, his manager pulled several strings to get him in there. Kristen has difficulty believing a handsome, successful man like Sean could possibly go for her, but he was a fat kid and he’s impressed with her intelligence, bravery, kindness, and sense of humor. He sees the thin person inside struggling to be set free.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Except for the romance, this book is very autobiographical. It chronicles my own obesity issues and struggle to lose weight. I am a Navy Veteran and I really did go through SMART Recovery at the Danville, IL VA. I have lost 140 pounds and I plan to include my before and after photos on the back cover of the book.

Why do I write what I do?

I have a degree in writing from Columbia College in Chicago. In my first class, my instructor told us to write what we know. I asked him what the difference was between writing about ourselves and fiction, and he said, “Write it the way you wish it was.” So, I guess that’s kind of what I do.

The first book I started that got published was about getting dumped by my husband in a town I’d never heard of hundreds of miles from home where the only other person I really knew was the woman for whom he’d dumped me. I actually started that book in that class. Twenty years later, after I’d been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, I added that to the mix. My ex said the reason he was leaving me was that he couldn’t stand my mood swings, and that had been an on-going argument between us before he accepted the job in that town. He worked outages at various nuclear power plants around the country and I had been begging him to settle down at one plant so we could have a normal family life. Well, Comes the Dawn turned into Rock Crazy. I moved it from Oswego, New York to Rockton, Luna. But instead of leaving his wife, Katie, for someone else, Scott McGowan dumps her to convince her to get a chip implanter in her brain that will cure her bi-polar disorder in hopes they can have a normal life and maybe even start a family. My life how I wish it could be—cured of my bi-polar disorder with something other than meds, not divorced, and settled in a community with friends and even a feeling of family.

However, Rock Crazy wasn’t the first book I published. I thought I’d write a paragraph or two about some of the background characters, and they took over and became their own book, Rock Bound. Frankly, I’m not sure where that one came from!

How does my writing process work?

I’m not sure I have a “process.” I’m definitely a pantser. I start with sort of a log-line in my head. I kind of need to know where I’m starting and where I’m ending up before I start writing. How I get there is sometimes a surprise. For instance, in Full Circle, one of the girls turns out to be a senator’s daughter and has a major argument with her dad. I didn’t see that coming; it just kind of happened. I guess I just sit down at the computer and words pour out of my fingertips. When I was in school we talked about our processes. I worked full time, went to school and was active in Overeaters Anonymous. I was a non-custodial parent, partly because I knew something was wrong with me, but not what. Anyway, we were expected to write at least sixty pages each semester. That was the minimum to pass our writing courses.

I left home at six-thirty/seven a.m. most days and got home at eleven-thirty/midnight most nights. My classmates talked about having to have just the right music or absolute silence; having to clean the house or pick the cat hair off the couch in order to be able to write. I wrote at work during my lunch break while answering phones and greeting clients. I wrote on the El on my way to work and from school. I wrote in restaurants. I wrote in the computer lab at school. I wrote wherever and whenever I could grab the time. Process? Who had time for a process? I had rent, tuition, and a long-distance phone bill to pay.

My process now that I’m “retired” is to just sit down and work at least a couple of hours each day. I also edit for Jupiter Gardens, am Editor of the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter, run the Roses and Thorns review site, and volunteer twice a week at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center. I like to stay busy. ;-D

Those were the questions we each received. It wouldn’t be a blog hop if you didn’t have someone to hop to, now would it. I’ve chosen three authors who will answer these questions in their blogs next week and each of them will introduce you to three authors. Here they are:

Beth Barany:

Based in Oakland, California, Beth Barany writes magical tales of romance and adventure to transport readers to new worlds where anything is possible.

She's the award-winning author of HENRIETTA THE DRAGON SLAYER, a young adult fantasy novel (Book 1 of the Five Kingdom series.)

In her off hours, Beth enjoys capoeira, traveling, and watching movies with her husband, bestselling author Ezra Barany, and playing with their two cats, Kitty and Leo.

Beth’s Website & Blog:

Candy Caine:

With nearly 200 short stories and her third novel soon to be in print, sweet and spicy, Candy Caine keeps her husband, Robert, on his toes in their Long Island, NY home. Supportive of her writing career, he’s always willing to help her make certain the scenes in her stories are authentic. After all, technique is so important for good writing. When asked why she began to write, Candy says: “I’ve always loved books and my biggest thrill is to bring the joy of reading to others. That’s what writing is all about.”

J.J. DiBenedetto

J.J. (James) DiBenedetto was born in Yonkers, New York. He attended Case Western Reserve University, where as his classmates can attest, he was a complete nerd. Very little has changed since then.

He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with his beautiful wife and their cat (who has thoroughly trained them both). When he's not writing, James works in the direct marketing field, enjoys the opera, photography and the New York Giants, among other interests.

The "Dreams" series is James' first published work.