Catriona McPherson's The Day She DiedMany thanks to the brilliant, funny and prolific Catriona McPherson for “tagging” me to participate in this blog hop. I was fascinated to read in her blog last Monday that our writing styles are similar—Stephen King-esque.

What are you working on?

Today, I’m taking a break. In fact, I’ve been taking a break all week, if you can call ripping up linoleum, putting down tile, painting cabinets, attempting to install a new toilet, and the other tasks involved with renovating a bathroom “taking a break.” Believe me, there will be another blog post forthcoming on the topic, complete with before and after photos. But since I suspect this question really refers to what writing project am I working on, let me say I’ve got several irons in the fire that I’m very excited about.

First, I have a new series debuting in January 2015. It’s the Readaholics Mystery Book Club series and it revolves around the five women in a book club in the fictional town of Heaven, Colorado. My protagonist is an event planner who must put together her ex-boyfriend’s wedding in the first book. In each book, the Readaholics are discussing a different mystery classic and something from the book they’re reading always makes its way into the plot. Fun, right? As soon as I get the toilet to work—keep your fingers crossed—I’m back to doing revisions on the first in the series (as yet untitled), converting one character from a twenty-something bombshell computer researcher into a pot-smoking, outdoor fishing/hunting guide, conspiracy theorist in her late sixties.

I also have a standalone novel—my first!—coming out from Midnight Ink in Sep 2015. It’s called The Reckoning Stones and it’s about Iris Dashwood who grew up in a restrictive religious community and ran away at 15 after the pastor sexually abused her and her parents and the community made her apologize for accusing him of such a horrible thing. The night she ran away, someone beat the pastor into a coma and killed his wife. The story opens twenty-three years later when the pastor awakens from his coma . . . In case you haven’t figured it out, this is much darker than my usual cozy fare, and I loved writing it. Ideas for my next standalone suspense novel are knocking around in my noggin as I type.

Finally, I typed THE END on the first draft of the second novel in my new YA dystopian trilogy last Friday. Yay! I don’t want to say too much about it yet, but it’s full of adventures, dilemmas, betrayals, journeys, and romance that unwind at a whirlwind pace. I’ve never had so much fun writing anything and there will definitely be more to come on this!

How does your work differ from others in this genre?

I think my genre-hopping is one way my work differs, although more and more people are crossing genre boundaries these days. For my part, it keeps my writing fresh and allows me to explore a wide variety of topics and situations from different perspectives. In my mysteries, particularly the Swift Investigations series and the Mall Cops series, I think the way I walk the line between light and dark, tackling tough topics but infusing the books with a lot of humor, makes my work different. I’ll undermine the “different” idea right now by saying I think Timothy Hallinan’s Junior Bender books and Chris Grabenstein’s John Ceepak series work in a similar way, with male protagonists where mine are female. (I’m currently reading Hallinan’s The Fame Thief and then have a Ceepak book I unaccountably missed next in line. Can I skip the rest of this day, and the aforementioned toilet, and go straight to my deck with a glass of wine and get reading? Yeah, it’s 7:47am.)

Why do you write what you do?

I write the wide variety of genres I do because I have so many ideas boiling in my head that I couldn’t cram them all into one series and do them justice. I enjoy the slapstick humor and laugh-out-loud situations from the Swift Investigations books, but I also need to go deeper and darker sometimes and the result is something like The Reckoning Stones. Every now and then, I even write poetry (although none of you will ever see it!)

How does your writing process work?

I love the implicit assumption in this question—that my writing process works. Sometimes—60,000 words into a book with no clue how it’s going to end–it doesn’t feel that way. Like Catriona mentioned in her post last Monday, I write the Stephen King way, racing through a first draft, getting it all down, no editing, leaving blanks for research, 2000 words a day (minimum). I let the draft steep for about a month (while I work on another writing project), and then, I go back and revise. And revise. I layer character and setting onto the skeleton of plot. I do research to fill in the brackets [find out about particle beam weapons] that I leave as placeholders while I’m drafting. Sometimes, as you might imagine, this results in some major re-writing. That’s okay. Every re-write deepens my characters and makes my plots more cohesive and complex.

If you’re interested in reading about other writers’ processes (I love hearing about writers who get up at midnight to pound out their pages, or who play specific soundtracks for each novel in progress, or who do seventy page outlines), work your way back via the links, or check out other posts today by Hank Phillippi Ryan or Clare O’Donohue.

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