The Writerly Process

The fabulously talented C. Morgan Kennedy sweet-talked me into becoming part of this blog chain. Well, actually, I kinda figured I owed her since she introduced me to one of the BESTEST restaurants in the Portland area. But that’s another story. . ..

Anyhoo, we’re all supposed to answer some questions about our writing process, so here goes:

1) What am I working on? I just finished a draft of a third book in a series, the first of which sold to Entangled Publishing last year. The hero, Ian Savage, made an appearance in the first two books, but demanded I tell his story. What can I say? I’m a sucker for intelligent, sexy, brooding men! 😉

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? Oooh, good one. I tend to write stories that deal with some harsh realities, but in an uber-light, fun way. Because, really, you gotta laugh at some of what life throws at you, right? It’s how some of us stay sane. Others eat chocolate and move on. . ..

3) Why do I write what I write? Well, my life’s sometimes so intense and filled with drama, I can’t help but take cues from what’s around me.

For one story, the idea for the hero came from my wanting to kill someone. Please note I DID NOT DO IT! After roughly five hours of thinking about how I might do it, I decided the dude had to have some humanity in him. After all, he had a wife and kids who adored him.

Okay, okay. So that thought was a huge stretch for me, but still. . . I wondered about the dude’s back story, about what made him who he was (and still is – because he’s NOT DEAD). I didn’t know him personally, so I made up a past. (I refuse to believe I’m the only author who does this!) The New Dude I’d created in my mind morphed into Daniel Spencer, the hero in MERGER OF THE HEART. . ..The book I eventually sold. Did I mention that life’s ironic? 🙂

4) How does my writing process work? Has this ever evolved over the years! Nowadays, I start with a main trope, and then build supporting tropes around it. After that, I really need to know my peeps. Like, everything about them. Not that it’ll all go into the story, but it helps me figure out who they are and why they do what they do. I then plot out both the internal and external journeys for the hero and the heroine, then it all goes onto a storyboard. From there, I do notebook pages for each character in each scene. And then I write the draft. After that’s done, it typically sits for at least two weeks. Maybe. After a few passes, the story goes to my critique partners who joyfully pick it apart like a bunch of crows at road kill. (Lucky me!) Then it’s a few more edits before I think it’s submission-worthy.

And to think I initially thought writing would be easy. . .. Of course, that’s before I actually learned about story structure and characters and tags and. . . Yeah, I had A LOT to learn!

So to keep the chain going, I’ve got a couple of other author-friends lined up for you to follow. They’ll be posting on February 10th, but you don’t have to wait to check them out!

With sixteen published books, four novellas, and two anthologies, award-winning author Paty Jager is never at a loss for story ideas and characters in her head. Her rural life in central and eastern Oregon, and intests in local history and the world around her, keeps the mystery and romance ideas flowing. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

You can learn more about Paty at her blog:, her website: or on Facebook:!/paty.jager and twitter: @patyjag

Author Kylie Wolfe considers herself normal in every way. . .. Except that she carries on conversations with her story characters on a regular basis.  Her debut novel, RAYVEN’S KEEP, was published with Lyrical Press last year. You can learn more about her through her blog:

Happy reading,

From Writers . . . With Love

Left to right: Melia, Paty, Ella, Diana, Marie, and Karen

I made a special trip to visit my writer-friends in Central Oregon over the weekend.  Aside from the total confusion whenever I drive there — I swear, even a navigation system doesn’t help! — I always have a great time with my fellow chapter mates (RWA’s Rose City Romance Writers).

Sure, the drinks flowed.  Sure, there were a ton of laughs.  And, yeah, there was some conversation about the, umm. . . attributes of the perfect, mouth-watering hero.  (Well, duh.  We are romance writers, after all!)  But through the three or so hours we were together, our conversation was dotted with serious discussions about the business end of writing.  Taxes, anyone?  To incorporate or not?  And what about marketing for authors who write in multiple subgenres?  Is this any more of a challenge?  (Think Paty Jager who writes Western historical, Western contemporary, and Native American romance.)

One of the last questions we tossed around: When we hit the bestseller lists 🙂 what advice would we offer fellow writers?

Ella Zane:  You’re writing to entertain.  Go ahead and be excited about your character, but know your plot!

Paty Jager:  Learn craft, and read the genre that you write.

Karen Duvall:  Always ask “why” as you’re writing.  Why is the character doing this?  Why are they saying that?  Why do they want this?  Everything a character does has to be motivated, tied together, and the reader has to be clued in.

Marie Harte:  Entertain yourself, and you’ll entertain your readers.

Diana McCollum:  One word – perseverance.

Melia Alexander:  Write with passion.  Live your characters as you write their stories.  Allow them to shine through the words you put on the page so that they  invoke emotion in the reader and she lives the story, too.

All in all, re-connecting with my Central Oregon Roses was a fabulously, fantastical, stupendously awesome evening!  (Beat that Marie Harte!  🙂 )

And it turns out even sassy, sexy, fun writers can be serious, too.


But not too often —  heaven knows life’s too short to be taken seriously most of the time. . ..