My Writing Process (Blog Tour)

I usually hear an internal chorus of crickets in my head when trying to think of a decent blog post topic. Hence, the long break between every post. But this time, I got tagged by the beautiful and talented Kele (Katherine) Lampe in the Writing Process Blog Tour!

In addition to being an Iconoclast and unrepentant Geek, Katherine Lampe is a sometime musician, DJ, and author of the Paranormal Caitlin Ross series, which details the adventures of a witch in rural Colorado and beyond. She studied at the University of Michigan with Ken Mikolowski, and at Naropa University with Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Her fiction has won the Detroit News Gold Key for short story and the Boulder Daily camera award for horror, and she is a book reviewer for Witches and Pagans magazine. The daughter of an English teacher and a self-professed heretic masquerading as a Presbyterian minister, she is interested in the individual’s relationship with the divine. Her work explores the interaction of the supernatural and the mundane in the lives of real people. And she’s a fantastic cook.

What am I working on?...

Books 1 and 2 of my HEMLOCK VEILS series are currently with my editor, and while I wait, aside from trying to read all the books in existence, I am writing Book 3. The way Book 2 (VEIL OF THE ROSE) ends, I couldn't go long without continuing Henry and Elizabeth's story. If and when the time comes for Book 3's place in the market, I wanted to be ready. I wanted to have a head start, rather than my usual procrastination.

For a long while, I was stuck on how Book 3 should play out, how long of a time period it should cover, and how I would wrap it all up. In fact, I was so overwhelmed that I put off plotting for a long time. Then I got my official contract my my publisher, outlining all the details, and when it hit me that there is a very high possibility of a Book 3 release (if not with them, definitely through someone else), I realized it was time to get cracking.

In order to keep in tradition with the first two in the series, I wanted to loosely base Book 3 off of a classic fairy tale or legend--or at least have it be inspired by an idea from one (HEMLOCK VEILS is loosely based on Beauty and the Beast, where VEIL OF THE ROSE has some elements from Sleeping Beauty). So when contemplating how I wanted the story to go, I really struggled at finding an old legend or tale that fit. I was STUCK.

Until one day, a very special friend gave a single, innocent suggestion (You know who you are...though I'm not sure you will ever read this [If you do, know that you're still going in my Acknowledgements section like we discussed]).

Lightning hit. The concept was a stretch, and one I shoved away at first because it didn't fit.

But then, it did fit. It fit perfectly, in fact. As soon as I let the idea in, everything started falling into place and ideas flowed like rain. My hand hurt by the time I had finished scrawling ideas in my spiral-bound notebook.

So with an outline finally in mind, I started writing the manuscript. As of this moment, I am currently in chapter 4, and loving it.

Once my release nears (HEMLOCK VEILS comes out in October), I will be adding much more to my already busy workload (did I mention I'm a mom of three boys?), like a cover reveal and promotional stuff. Can't wait!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?...

Well. This is where it becomes a little difficult. Because a lot of the time I don't know how to put my finger on just quite how HEMLOCK VEILS is different than other paranormal romances. But it is. It's romantic, not just in the lovey-dovey sense of the word, and mysterious, and beautiful. And the setting is a character itself, who is more beautiful, I think, than even my two gorgeous main characters. In my humble opinion, modern fairy tale retellings aren't done enough these days, at least not in the adult category. In the adult paranormal romance category/genre, something seemed lacking, and I knew it was simply the existence of my story. It needed to be told.

Even while being inspired by an old tale, Henry and Elizabeth's story is fresh and untold. And Henry's beast persona is portrayed in a way completely different than any other "beast" story ever told. And who would have known that "Beauty" herself had some inner monsters of her own to face?

Why do I write what I do?...

I write what I do for the same reason others write what they write: because it frees me. I write about mystery and magic and love because it's what moves me. It's inside me, and I have no other choice than to get it out. Love and romance, in my opinion, are the ultimate escape from reality. And though it is dismissed by many as whimsical, commercial, trivial, or even weak and foolish, love is the ultimate human emotion. It beats out everything. It's what moves our hearts to the greatest capacity. It's what molds and shapes our lives, and compels us to do things we would never normally do.

So why not write stories based on the greatest human emotion? I won't dismiss love as something only silly, daydreaming girls want to escape into. We all want to escape into love, because we know it's real.

Plus, my favorite thing to get lost in is anything exploring the human condition. Character-driven tales that help us explore our own selves is what pulls me in. Make me feel something--good or bad, I don't care, as long as it hits me hard. And don't leave out any gritty details. If it's reality, I want to know about it.

So I write the sort of things I love to read.

How does my writing process work?...

You mean how does a hurricane work? Because that's what my writing process feels like at times. I don't know if I have a particular process I've stuck to for every novel I've written (which is currently 5.5 in number). Usually, an idea will form. It will take root. I'll jot down the basics. Then, if it doesn't leave me be, I dwell on it more (I do a lot of driving because of where I live, and some of my favorite times to plot are when driving). If it feels right, I begin to jot down a general outline. I've tried forgoing the outline process before, but have found I just don't work as well without it, and always end up breaking from the story to jot one down anyway, just so I won't forget any details.

Then, with the outline written (I use up many spiral-bound notebooks), I look through it for all the holes or things I need to do more research on. I make a list of those things. I let my mind fill in those holes and jot down ideas as I do. There are times I will have ideas jotted down in notebooks, in my phone, and on receipts or sticky notes all at the same time--whatever I can get my hands on when inspiration strikes.

Whatever needs researching on, I research. I bookmark all the websites I might need to refer to again while writing, and jot down information I may need to use a lot.

Then, with more background, I expand on the characters themselves. I fill in their holes, like birthdays, zodiac signs, deep fears, backgrounds, musical tastes, etc. Most of that stuff won't be revealed in the book, but as the writer, I need to know my characters inside and out. It makes writing them much easier, knowing what they would do in certain situations. They become very real people to me, and once they do, they tell the story--not me.

Then, I write. I start at chapter 1. I get stuck a lot. But then I push through and inspiration flows. It's up and down, as anyone will tell you. And I still might change the whole outline or add new things halfway through or even near the end.

There isn't really anything special about my writing process. It's my characters who make my writing special. The magic lies with them. And I can't wait until October, when those of you who haven't met them yet, can!

On that note, the next two fabulous writers I tag, who will be posting about their writing process next week (May 19), are:

Ana Blaze: Ana lives just outside Washington, DC, with her very supportive husband and three rather demanding cats. She loves the ocean, Indian food, Ikea, and cooking. Before settling down as a writer, Ana was an elementary school teacher, a preschool teacher, a camp counselor, a waitress, a research assistant, a canoe tour guide, and one glorious summer during college she spent eight hours a day placing stickers inside library books so they would be part of the fancy new automated checkout system. She won't say which job she liked best. Ana is a member of Romance Writers of America. Ana is author of One Lucky Night, A Late Thaw, The Best Man, Mr. Right, and Worth More Than Gold (part of Love and Other Games).

Niki Cluff: Niki started writing Sailor Moon fan fiction in notebooks in 6th grade instead of doing homework, and has been writing ever since. She's a stay at home mother of three and pony sized daniff. She also interns for Margaret Bail at Inklings Literary.


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