Tag Archives: writing retreat

My Writing Process – Blog Tour

Thanks so much to Jennifer Brassel for inviting me to join the blog tour. 🙂 Jennifer’s blog can be seen here. Jen and I both have stories in the romance anthology, Moonlit Encounters, and her book Secret Reflection is a modern Gothic tale complete with ghosts, romance, and an unsolved crime.

My Writing Process

j0178677What am I working on? Right now, I am finishing up the second book in the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series, Superhero in the Making. At the end of book one, Unexpected Superhero, Tori has decided she definitely wants to pursue life as a superhero. But it’s harder than it looks. On top of everything else – family issues, secrets uncovered, and secrets to keep hidden – there’s another woman trying to catch Joe’s attention. Tori is trying to keep in mind that undercover superhero work is a job like any other, and Joe is a professional. But can she trust him?

How does my work differ from others of its genre? The Adventures of Lewis and Clarke is about superheroes living their daily lives as our next door neighbors. It’s about love and marriage, friendships, family, and trying to save the world one person at a time. It’s also about the battle between good and evil, and constantly begs the question – am I up for the task? It’s romantic comedy meets urban fantasy. I really enjoy writing this series and I hope to continue for several books to come.

j0309372Why do I write what I do? I love writing about people in love because I’m in love! 😀 But I think it’s more interesting to see the ups and downs and sideways parts of love, not just the happy moments. Falling in love and getting married is awesome, but nothing prepares you for what comes next. It’s hard! But it’s so worth it. Add that to the fact that I am amazed at how God created us to be strong, good, loving people and yet the world and the dark forces around us keep knocking us down so that we’re weak, selfish, and greedy, and there is a lot of room for stories in there! I’m trying to write about both of these elements in my superhero series.

How does my writing process work? Well, that depends entirely on my deadline! LOL! Right now, I am writing six days a week, 8-12 hours a day to finish this book in time for WonderCon. I’ve taken time away to write at a timeshare several times recently, and over the years, because I can focus on just writing. I usually start with the big idea and boil it down to six or eight main points, then whittle those down to a dozen or so scenes each, then create 3×5 scene cards that I spread out on the floor looking for holes in the story. Once I’ve got the first quarter of the story worked out, I start writing based on the scene cards. Then I look at the second quarter, see if anything needs to be changed because of what I wrote in the first part, tweak the scene cards and write the second quarter. Repeat for the last two quarters of the book. Then I talk to my editors (I have two, Marcy and Sarah) about plot problems, etc. It’s intense and exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade it to do anything else. (Though I’m really looking forward to a vacation soon!)

I hope you found this fun and interesting. Maybe you learned a little something about me that you didn’t know. It was fun giving you a glimpse into my world. 🙂

Moonlit EncountersIf you’d like to read about another of my Aussie friends with a story in Moonlit Encounters, check out Coleen Kwan‘s My Writing Process blog hereColeen Kwan writes both contemporary and steampunk romance. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching Criminal Minds.

And now – back to writing!

Getting Away

j0178677I’m excited to say I am not home this week. I’m not connected to the Internet. I can’t answer email unless I try to do it on my phone (too much trouble and hurts my thumbs). Why?

I’m taking a week away from home to work madly on my new book, Superhero in the Making. Yay! John gets to play Xbox as much as he wants, and I don’t have to stop to eat or pay bills or do laundry or anything. Yay!

So if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to writing with me. I’ll post a picture of the new book covers as soon as I can. I can’t wait to show you!

Happy week to you!  😀

What You Catch in Vegas…

j0308903I’m right in the middle of a wonderful writing retreat, and what should happen – I caught a cold! Not just an annoying cold, but a I-can’t-breathe-and-I-spend-20-hours-in-bed kind of cold.

I bought some cold medicine the first day, but it didn’t help much and I don’t feel good enough to go out and buy something else. This seriously stinks!

Nonetheless, I’m determined to get some work done on my book, Unexpected Superhero. Current plans (barring extended illnesses and other freaks of nature) are to publish it at the end of March. Yay! John is working on a great cover, which I’ll show you later.

Meanwhile, I’m just praying that the germs I caught in Vegas stay in Vegas!

Friends, Fruit and Fresh Air

Last week I was up in the mountains north of Los Angeles for an annual writers retreat with a bunch of my friends. It was awesome. It is every year, which is why I take such pains to make it. We laugh and eat and brainstorm and eat and write and eat and… Yeah, there is a lot of good food! Every year, I eat about a third of my total intake of fresh summer fruits at the retreat. Like I said, awesome.

My friend who hosts it, Lauraine Snelling, just had hip replacement surgery a few weeks ago. God moved my heart to want to be helpful, so I came up a few days early to help with shopping and other preparations. I’ve been feeling pretty selfish in a lot of ways the last year or two (lots of reasons why), and it felt great to genuinely want to be selfless for a while. More awesome.

You know there have been a lot of things going on with me and John the last year that have made life more challenging than usual. Not the least of which is that John’s company shut its doors the day I was to drive to the retreat. Uh… now what? Do I stay home and help him try to figure out what to do next? We took a long walk together, talking to each other and to God. At the end of the walk, we didn’t have any answers, but we felt God must know what He’s doing. He’s gotten us this far. A few minutes later, walking up the steps to our apartment, John’s phone rang. Another company offered him a job! His unemployment lasted a whole three hours. Can you say “awesome”?!

So getting away for a little while and focusing on my career again has been an emotional blast of fresh air. Plus, the mountain air is literally fresher and made me feel more relaxed. I got to stare at the stars every night and actually see them. Happy sigh. Now I’m starting the new week sitting by myself in a hotel room for a week working on the next draft of Love at the Fluff and Fold. I think I’m going to have an even better week now that my brain has been stimulated by my writing friends, and my heart has been freshened by a zillion more examples of God showing me how much He loves me. Perfectly awesome.

I hope you have an awesome week, too!

Back to Writing!

I’m off on a writing trip for two weeks – yay! I’m going to an annual writing event with a group of friends in the mountains north of Los Angeles, then I’m going to hole up in a motel room in Las Vegas to finish the rest of Love at the Fluff and Fold, the first book in “The Strays of Loon Lake” series. I’m really excited to get back into the game!

When I get back, I’ll have the edits for my superhero short story, “Hero in Disguise,” that will be out later this year. And I hope to also have another short story for a different anthology in the autumn. Depending on whether life throws me any more curve balls soon – and it feels like I’ve been standing in front of a broken pitching machine, balls flying at me wildly! – I will be working on the print version of Little Miss Lovesick in July. Finally! Yay!

I hope you all have an excellent two weeks! I’ll write again if I get Internet access. Otherwise, I’ll report back with what an awesome and productive time I had!  🙂

Retreat to Move Forward

I had the best week!!! My friends Lauraine and Kathleen invited me to a writing retreat, just the three of us, and we had a great time!!

We brainstormed until our brains hurt. We helped Lauraine work through a new idea she came up with, adding some really cool twists to it. We helped them both finalize the storyline for the third book in The S.A.V.E. Squad series, and it’s gonna be fun! (Check out the web site! The first book, Dog Daze, came out March 1.)

We also went through my ideas for Love at the Fluff N Fold and made it into both a better book and a far better series than it had been. The series name is The Strays of Loon Lake. Every book will be a romantic comedy where a man and a dog both get rescued, and all the characters are connected. I can’t wait for the first book to come out!

When we were too tired to do any more brainstorming, we did a few fun things. Kathleen read aloud to us one night the first few chapters of Dog Daze. It’s great to hear a book read by the author with all her inflections!

Sometimes we went down to the Lazy River and walked or floated around and talked about whatever. But every time, we’d end up brainstorming again because of something that caught our attention. For instance, on our last poolside trip, we ran into two characters from The Strays of Loon Lake! 

Kathleen elbowed me and said, “Hey, isn’t that Danny standing there?” I looked over her shoulder and, sure enough, this guy was exactly Danny from Love at the Fluff N Fold!

Then as we were going around the Lazy River and waiting to get a second peek at him, we started talking to Tabitha, who will be in books 1 and 2, but will have her own story in book 3. The Tabitha in the pool is from Oregon and I’ve already forgotten her real name – because she’s Tabitha!

Another day we needed a brain break, so we went to Staples. Lauraine has this amazing notebook system from a company called arc. You can pull the pages out of one section and put them in the other section without having to unclasp any binder rings. Just pull up and push down. She loves it so much she offered to buy one for me and Kathleen, too. I LOVE IT!! I used it all week and my three books are totally organized instead of having stuff from all three books all jumbled up in one section. Here it is in a picture of my workspace at the dining room table.

We spent quite a bit of time writing in addition to brainstorming. Lauraine worked on A Place to Belong, book 3 in her Wild West Wind series. Book one of the series, Valley of Dreams, is already out. Kathleen finished the final edits on The Great Cat Caper, book 2 in The S.A.V.E. Squad series. It will be available in September. And I finished the edits on a short story called “Hero in Disguise” that’s set in my superhero world. It’ll be published in an anthology later this summer.

Brainstorming about marketing was more difficult. What works? What doesn’t? How can you tell? I know I have to do a lot more to help romantic comedy readers find Little Miss Lovesick. It’s not only hard to figure out what to do, but how to balance your time between marketing and writing. This week was a writing week, though, so I worked on the second draft of Love at the Fluff N Fold. As a writer, it feels good to write! 🙂

On the last day, we went out to The Cheesecake Factory for my birthday! It was so good. (It’s always good there!) But better than the chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, better than the complimentary hot fudge sundae with a candle and the waiters singing “Happy Birthday” for the whole restaurant to hear, the best part is hanging out with friends you love, who love you back. 🙂

It was an amazing week! God was so generous in every way, blessing us all with so much love and laughter and fun – and helping us get lots of work done!! (Thank you, God!!) I’ll let you all know when Love at the Fluff N Fold comes out. And if you’d like to read more of Lauraine’s and Kathleen’s books, you can go to Lauraine’s web site or The S.A.V.E. Squad web site where Kathleen hangs out, or follow Lauraine on Facebook or Kathleen on Facebook. You know you can click the button on the top right to follow me on Facebook. 😉

P.S. Guess what?! Lauraine’s book, Ruby, the first in her Dakotah Treasures series, is free on Kindle right now! I just downloaded it. Yay! If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app to your phone or tablet or computer. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate in a Fudge-Dipped Waffle Cone

Remember last week I talked about how the encouragement and love and support of my friends while walking through the desert of testing has been like chocolate ice cream with a peanut butter swirl?

Well, this past week life has been more like my favorite dark chocolate ice cream with a peanut butter swirl packed into a fudge-dipped waffle cone with nuts sprinkled on top!

Two of my best writing friends contacted me a week ago to ask if I could join them in a writing week in Vegas. We used to do this all the time when I lived in California because Vegas is sort of the center of the triangle from where we all live. Then I moved to Sydney and couldn’t go anymore. I was all excited about coming back and getting together again, but the longer John and I go between jobs, the fewer plans we’re making. (At least until we invent the bottomless checking account. We’re working on it.)

But when they contacted me, they said, just get to Vegas or to one of our houses, and we’ll take care of the rest! SWEET!

But…

We don’t have a bottomless checking account. In fact, I wasn’t sure we could even afford to keep going to our old Bible study in L.A. It’s a nearly 200-mile roundtrip. An awesome friend loaned us his Ford Explorer, for which we are immensely grateful, but that trip costs $42 every time we make it. Ouch.

So I started praying about Bible study and the writing retreat. This time I wanted to be the girl who was willing to say, sorry, we can’t afford it, rather than, sure, we have a credit card. The more I worked on our budget, the more little things I found to make things work. Some money came in that was exactly the amount we’d need to buy gas to get to Bible study through Easter.

I went through our expenses and realized that there were a few things we wouldn’t need money for if I were gone this week. A commercial came on TV about a university that not only has an online program, but they’re looking to hire adjunct online faculty in my field. (Getting some outside-writing work that doesn’t require me to buy a corporate wardrobe would be a double-bonus!)

It seemed to me that God was showing me that yes, indeed, I could take this trip. YAY!!!!!

In addition to it being just plain FUN, by the end of this week I should be able to have another draft of my next book. That would put me nearly a month ahead of schedule, which means the book will be published about a month sooner, bringing in money that much sooner. That’s a huge blessing.

Yes, I have to say, in spite of the unemployment woes, I’ve got a double-chocolate kind of blessed life. 🙂 And the cherry on top – lying in the sun in the backyard for an hour Friday while John napped on my lap. Ahh, God is so good, even when he makes us wait.