Friday, May 23, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

"You're writing a book? How cool!"

That's what people often say when they find out (usually during National Novel Writing Month) that I am working on a novel. Then they often ask something about how it's done.

"When do you find the time?"
"How long does it take?"
"Where do you get your ideas?"
"Isn't it hard?"

When I was invited to participate in the #mywritingprocess blog tour by my friend Kaye Sims at Wondering as I Wander, I thought it was a valuable opportunity for me to sit down and think through some of those questions. During NaNoWriMo, I'm usually too busy frantically typing to make my word count to give the process much thought. By the way, I met Kaye via mutual friends on facebook when I noticed she also was writing for NaNoWriMo. She inspires me with her commitment to writing and simplicity as well as her willingness to go deeper spiritually. Thank you, Kaye, for this opportunity for some self-reflection and connection to the community of writers. 

So, Question #1 - What am I working on?
The bulk of my writing is done during the month of November, the aforementioned National Novel Writing Month. During the rest of the year, I blog, sometimes regularly, sometimes occasionally, and think hard about finding time to edit. 

My book club guide to the works of Jane Austen is in the editing stage and that's the project that is most likely to surface first from the murky recesses of my computer files. I'd also love to find some time to finish the weird sci-fi novel I attempted during NaNoWriMo 2013. 

Question #2 is 'How does my work differ from others of its genre?'
Focusing specifically on my Austen book club guide, my goal was to give the reader the sense of actually being at our book club. Since most of you have not been there, you wouldn't know that it's slightly irreverent, yet serious in our discussion of the classic books we read. 

We are not the kind of book club that just meets to drink wine and giggle, though we often do both of those things. We nearly always choose books that have modern film adaptations because we are very visual and we watch the films together. However, we chat through every movie, commenting on everything that strikes us funny or philosophical. 

So, I wanted to give my book club guide that same lighthearted feel but still be able to discuss the deeper questions that Austen's books raise in the modern reader. I haven't found any other discussion guide with the same goal.

My fiction work is much more earnest, I think. I'm not a dystopian or ironic sort of author. I don't think my fiction differs much from other books in the genre, but that's not necessarily a disadvantage. Readers who choose a genre often do so for some commonality between authors and works.

The #3 question asks, "Why do I write what I do?"
I'd like to give some really artsy answer here about how the story would burn in my soul if I didn't tell it. The truth is much more practical though. I'm not artsy. I don't have a story burning a hole in my soul.

I would like to make a living as an author. If that's too prosaic and practical for you, I guess I'm not your kind of writer. However, I think there is room in the world for writers of all proclivities and preferences, and I tend to be more common sense than romantic. 

But I have found that I absolutely adore creating a fictional world. The characters come alive, though they do not always do what I tell them. The story leads somewhere and I'm not always leading it! 

And I am in love with words. Selecting the perfect word is a process I enjoy. My weighty Roget's thesaurus containing 330,000+ words is my trusty companion.

The last question for this tour is #4 - How does my writing process work? Since NaNoWriMo is my normal writing environment, VOLUME is the key. 50,000 words in a month boils down to 1667 words per day. My process in November is to write as many words as I can in a sitting. I write fast and don't let the blank page bother me. At least not bother me much.

I like to do a lot of research, but NaNoWriMo isn't very conducive to that, at least not while I'm working a job other than my writing. So, either I try to do some research before the writing begins, or I write about something that doesn't require much research - a modern-day story or, as I tried this year for the first time ever, a science-fiction story.

Planning or outlining the story ahead of time is something I've done on a couple of occasions, but more often I've flown by the seat of my pants. Since my days are full without even considering any writing time, planning is a luxury that I haven't allowed myself to indulge in much. Perhaps my writing would improve or my stories would be easier to finish if I did more of it. Something to experiment with, I suppose!

Maybe you are wishing for many more details about how I actually write. But I doubt it. I will attempt to do more blog posts in the future about the nitty-gritty, but for now, I'll bring that to a close.

And now I would like to introduce three of my writing friends, C. Gockel, Andrea Miles, and Gina Lawton. Within the next few days, each will be posting their answers to the writing process questions. I can't wait to hear what each has to share! 

C. Gockel writes a series of books that I've much enjoyed and I'm so thrilled she's agreed to participate in this blog tour. I found her books due to my not-so-hidden Loki obsession and have enjoyed each one thoroughly. I highly recommend you download I Bring The Fire: Part I Wolves and immerse yourself in her mix of modern Earth and Asgard. (I see that Part 1 is free to download on Kindle today, so you've got nothing to lose!)
C. Gockel got her start writing fanfiction, and she is not ashamed! Much. She received emails, messages and reviews from her fans telling her she should 'do this professionally'. She didn't; because she is a coward and life as a digital designer, copywriter and coder is more dependable. But in the end, her husband's nagging wore her down: "You could be the next '50 Shades of Gray' and I could retire!" Unfortunately, the author isn't much for writing smut. She is sad about this; she'd love for her husband to be able to retire and just work for her so she could nag him.
At the moment, Ms. Gockel is working on the next installment of "I Bring the Fire".
Ms. Gockel loves to hear from readers. She can be reached by email at: cgockel -dot- publishing -at - gmail -dot- com
Her Facebook page is:

My next writing friend, Andrea Miles, is a fellow homeschooling mom whose first book, Trespassers, is coming out later this year. I look forward to reading it! I found Andrea on Twitter (or maybe she found me?) and have enjoyed her tweets.

Andrea Miles earned her Masters of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. Originally from Pocomoke, Maryland, she currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband and three children. Her first novel, Trespassers, is forthcoming this October from She Writes Press. Visit her website ( or find her on FB (

Gina Lawton has been my friend in real life for many years and she always inspires me - in writing, in education, in learning, in food (!), and in following Christ with a whole heart. Her blog is always thoughtful and sincere, going deeper than the shallow obscurity of so many blogs that I've clicked through.

Gina Lawton is a Mom, wife, wanderer, connoisseur of the "finer" things in life, writer, photographer and always looking for what comes next ...You can find her blog here:

I'd also like to give a shout out to a writer I follow on Twitter who has been very inspiring to me - Nat Russo. His tweets pour forth every day bringing writing tips, ideas, and practical information. His first book is Necromancer Awakening: Book One of The Mukhtaar Chronicles. I saw that Nat had also participated in this blog tour so here is a link to his post: HERE

Thank you for reading, everyone! Please visit my friends' blogs. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Writing Process - Blog Tour Coming Up!

I've been asked to participate in a blog tour detailing the writing process from the perspectives of many different authors. So, be on the lookout this week for a post from me with all my writing secrets!

OK, maybe not "secrets". Ha!

I also will be announcing several writers who will be also be posting on their blogs to give you even more insight into how authors work. What fun!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An Open Letter to Linda Lacour Hobar on the Authorship of Shakespeare's Works

Dear Linda Lacour Hobar,

I've committed to your history series, The Mystery of History for a number of years now. I've considered it to be strong and well-researched until this week. We have eagerly awaited each new volume and are in the last half of the third book now.

Imagine my distress when I was blithely reading Lesson 49 aloud to my kids when - lo and behold - I realize that you promote the delusional theory that William Shakespeare did not write the plays attributed to him. I was annoyed and shocked and inserted my own disclaimers to my children about your unproven views.

Instead of titling the lesson "William Shakespeare" or "William Shakespeare: The World's Greatest Playwright," you chose to give it the ambiguous title, "The Works of William Shakespeare." Other lessons are titled "Michelangelo," "Erasmus Writes In Praise of Folly," or "William Tyndale: Father of the English Bible." But your skepticism regarding poor maligned Shakespeare is already reflected in the title of the lesson.

You nominally give him credit at the beginning of the lesson by stating that he "is considered England's greatest poet and playwright [emphasis mine]," but then you go on to describe several theories as "worthy of our consideration." Just because there are people who believe that Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, or Edward de Vere was the actual author of Shakespeare's plays, this should not be the focus of your only lesson on Shakespeare. You call the evidence for de Vere "convincing" and blame "fans" of Shakespeare for not agreeing with the "ghostwriter" theory. And Marlowe? For heaven's sake, Marlowe was DEAD and could not have written the bulk of the Shakespearean canon. But you give credence to the fantastical theory that perhaps he was secretly kept alive in a "witness-protection plan" and therefore was able to publish his works and attribute them to Shakespeare. This is fiction, pure and simple, and does not belong in a history book.

In the five pages devoted to Shakespeare, just five short paragraphs describe his life, but a page and a half are given to detailing the various conspiracy theories about the authorship of his writings. The remainder of the lesson focuses, as it should, on the genius of the writing. However, you ruin it over and over with phrases such as:

  • "I will use the name of William Shakespeare to refer to whoever it was that wrote his works."
  • "the vast works attributed to William Shakespeare"
  • "whoever it was was that wrote the works of William Shakespeare"

Linda, you must give up the delusion that anyone besides William Shakespeare authored his own plays. If you feel that you must address the controversy, I think a simple sentence stating that "some believe that Shakespeare was not educated enough, but..." would be adequate for the needs of elementary and middle school students. It is irresponsible to plant these seeds of doubt in such young children. I hope that truth will be reflected in future editions of The Mystery of History Volume 3.

The Guardian provides a helpful article about the authorship of Shakespeare's plays.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tweets from Day Three of Convention