My Writing Process Blog Tour

Happy Monday. Today, as forewarned, I am participating in the My Writing Process Blog Tour. The gist of it is for authors to, as the title suggests, share a bit about their process by answering four questions. In turn, we pass the torch to three more authors (you’ll see my choices below). I was tagged by the awesome Leila Gaskin along with Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie and Kim Drew Wright.

So, here goes:

What am I working on? Maintaining my sanity. I’m afraid, however, that’s a lost cause. Oh, you meant as far as writing it concerned? Sure, I knew that.

I currently have two main WIPs–both of which I hope to release by the end of the year (see answer above). Edge of Darkness –the third (final?) installment in my Darkness & Light fantasy series stands at maybe 20k but it’s all disorganized and random scenes. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the plot. There is a lot that has to happen. If readers thought Emergence got darker and more intense than First of Her Kind, EoD looks like it’s going to be more so. I know how it begins, I know how it ends. Now to fill in the gaps.

The Coinblade Chronicles is my second main WIP. It’s more a sword & sorcery type fantasy than an epic/high fantasy. I can’t seem to write ‘light’ so there are some issues in this one that are tough for me to write, and will probably be tougher for people to read. It is much more character driven than most of what I’ve done, and written in first person. That’s a huge switch for me. I usually shy away from first person. I’ve been sharing bits of it on WIPpet Wednesdays. I’m pretty sure Coinblade Chronicles will be more of a series name, though each book that winds up in it will be a stand-alone. But I love the character and the world, and have many words written that don’t go with the current plot, so there may have to be more tales. Right now, that stands at a little over 67k.

Then there are the Back Burner projects: my UF/Paranormal Romance Crossing Paths. And another fantasy that needs quite a bit of beating into submission, The First House. Beyond that are all the miscellaneous snippets and bits of things that always have the potential of growing into something larger.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? Well, first off, I wrote it. Seriously, it’s my voice so it’s going to be slightly different than anyone else, right? I mean, ask five writers to draft a story about a tree, and you’re going to have five very different tales. I read a lot of fantasy and I can’t even say how mine differs. That’s probably a bad thing. I should have something that makes me stand out from the crowd, right? I’ll have to go back to my original answer: my voice. The way I tell my story. The details I add, or choose not to. My writing style, pacing, flow, characterization…and I don’t let my story be constrained by genre labels. At least, I don’t think I do. I don’t worry about the ‘rules’. I tell my story how it needs to be told. That’s either something a reader likes, or doesn’t.

Why do I write what I do? Because the voices in my head will give me no rest if I don’t put their story’s down on paper. And because I’ve always loved fantasy, medieval history, swordplay, and all things connected with them. Not that I haven’t written in other genres–see Greylands and Witch Hunt: Of the Blood on my Published Works page. Crossing Paths, my backburned UF/PR is another example. But fantasy holds my heart, and is what I always return to.

How does my writing process work? I’m supposed to have a process? Is lack of a process still a process?

Ah…well…I’m basically a pantser. That means I don’t outline a plot so that I have a distinct road map of where they story is going. Basically I start with a character in a situation, and fumble my way from there. What normally happens is that a scene, or character, or both, pops into my head and I write it down. It begins to grow. I continue to write. Characters lead me around by the nose hairs. Then, just about the time I think I have things figured out and I’m feeling all sorts of cocky, they sucker-punch me. Don’t ever believe that characters can’t do something totally unexpected. It happens. Words pop out of their mouth that I didn’t put there. They react ways I don’t expect. The sub-conscious…she’s a bitch, let me tell you. Anyhow, I tend to know the beginning, and the ending. In fact, most times the ending is the second thing I write. Then it’s a matter of connecting all the dots. Or finding the breadcrumbs before the damn birds eat them.

There’s a scene in the movie Labyrinth where Sara is making her way through the labyrinth. She has a piece of chalk, and starts marking stones with arrows as she makes turns, or comes to crossroads. As she moves on, little creatures pop up and turn the stones around. That’s pretty much how things go for me when I’m writing.

I will admit though, lately, I’ve been jotting down more plot notes than is normal. I think because some of my plots are becoming more complex, and because sometimes there are days between writing sessions and I lose the threads of what I’m weaving. I’m actually trying something totally different with CBC and mapping out the scenes in an Excel spreadsheet. But CBC contains a lot of flashbacks that tell the character’s earlier story. Their placement coincides with certain events in the current tale, so keeping track of them is vital. Normally, my plot notes are scattered about on bits of scrap paper and post-its that no longer stick. Or they’re just rattling around in my brain. There’s a little old man up there, perched on a stool, hunched over behind an old-fashioned desk, just about buried in scrolls, musty books, and sheaves of parchment.

Art by Jean-Baptiste Monge...the best representation of what the inside of my brain looks like that I've yet to find.

Art by Jean-Baptiste Monge…the best representation of what the inside of my brain looks like that I’ve yet to find.

Yes, I did offer to replace all that with a high-tech computerized system. He refused. He keeps track of things for me, so however he wants to do it is fine by me. So far, it seems to be working.

Most days.

And now on to introducing you to the three authors who will answer these same questions on Monday, April 7th. I give to you:


Ruth Nestvold: Ruth’s short stories have appeared in numerous markets, including Asimov’s, F&SF, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, and Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. In 2007, the Italian translation of her novella “Looking Through Lace” won the “Premio Italia” award for best international work. Her novel Yseult appeared in German translation as Flamme und Harfe with Random House Germany and has since been translated into Dutch and Italian. In 2012, she shifted her focus from traditional to indie publishing and has since brought out several novels and collections of short stories.


Xina Marie Uhl: Xina spends her days laboring in obscurity as a freelance writer for various educational projects and dreaming of ways to scrounge up enough cash to: 1. travel the world, and 2. add to her increasing menagerie of dogs, cats, and other creatures. The rest of the time she writes humorous titles such as The Cat’s Guide to Human Behavior and fantasy novels like Necropolis, The Gauntlet Thrown and The Challenge Accepted, Books One and Two of the Gauntlet Trilogy.

A deep and abiding interest in history has prompted her to tackle a historical adventure series that follows the travels of a knight in early medieval Europe, Asia Minor, and Africa.


Mara Valderraan: Mara is not just an author of young adult and new adult novels. She has dabbled in screenwriting, retired from acting, and drawn some pretty mean stick figures in her time. She is an avid reader and loves all things fantasy. She contributes to the fantasy blog There and Draft Again: A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. Her debut novel, HEIRS OF WAR, has been met with great reviews and was featured on Wattpad in 2013, raking in over 600k reads. The series continues with the second book, HEIRS OF WAR, CROWN OF FLAMES to be released in Summer 2014. Her short story “The Austenation” will be included in the Borderlands Anthology and she is looking forward to publishing her young adult dystopian ALTAR OF REALITY with Curiosity Quills Winter 2014.

Mara is more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or spending time at her favorite local coffee shop.


Connect with me on Facebook     Goodreads     Twitter and now Pinterest Read excerpts and buy copies of my works on the Published Works page. e-book & paperback copies also available on Amazon   Smashwords   Barnes & Noble and other on-line book retailers.


  1. You’re right, that wasn’t nearly as frightening as I thought it would be when you said we were going into your head.

    I still demand that someone come hold my hand.

  2. Great blog hop post, always great to learn more about others writers 🙂

  3. Haha – love the image that shows us what the inside of your brain looks like! Great entry! I love to hear about the process others go through with writing. I’m similar to you, but I’m going to try The Snowflake Method next time, which is a bit more focused and starts with the theme in mind. Maybe it will make writing easier? Probably not, lol.

    Oh, btw, the link to my blog is messed up. Thanks again for tagging me! Looking forward to my blog post. 🙂

    • Dang WordPress. It messed up a bunch of them last night. It’s all fixed now, though. 🙂

      The Snowflake Method, hmm? Look forward to reading about that next week.

  4. Cool pic! My link doesn’t work either, though (I think you forgot the http part) — and when you fix it, I’d rather have it point to my wordpress blog:

    Thanks for the tag!

  5. We didn’t dip very far into insanity by going inside your mind. Or…. *eyes shift to the right, then shift to the left* are we all so insane that we can’t recognize insanity when we see it?!?

    One of my first fanfiction pieces was Nsync, and I had a LOT of assorted napkins with pieces of dialogue or plot written on them. I’d go out with my parents to eat and wham! An idea would hit me, and I’d have to write it down right then and there. That story is cheesy as hell, but I still pride myself on the humor I wrote for it.

    That is my relation to your pantster plotting, if you hadn’t made that connection…

  6. Oooh the third installment. *dances around my desk* I think you have a very distinct voice. I’d also say your worldbuilding is very tight and you don’t indulge in long passages about scenery which I see a lot of in high fantasy. So thank you!

    • Yes, that does seem to be a genre trait. I admit, I skip passages like that. If I like the book enough to read it a second time, then I indulge in the long descriptives. Which is probably why I tend to leave them out of my writing so much of the time.

      • Oh yaaaay! Long descriptives is one of the reasons I absolutely REFUSE to read Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time.’ Even JK Rowling got a little bit on the over-indulgence of detail in her later HP installments. I’m like that too. Enough detail and scenery to paint the picture, but moving on as fast as is reasonably possible.

      • My crit partner has to scold me because I tend to have scenes happening without any setting on the first draft. I think I might want to try my hand at playwriting some day just to skip over the setting stuff. 😉

  7. Pingback: My Writing Process Blog Hop | Journey Taker

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