What’s a Good Way to Write?

Hi! I’m Crystal Perkins. My good friend, Tera Lynn Childs and I are taking over the blog today as part of our Sassy and Sexy Romance Tour! Tera is the “Sassy” part of our equation. Her City Chicks books feature behind closed door, or in the case of Trying Texas, behind closed bushes action. I’m bring the “Sexy” with the doors wide open in my The Griffin Brothers series, especially Creating A Love, which I wrote while sick and taking lots of cold medicine. I blame the cold medicine, while Tera said I should’ve dedicated the book to the cold medicine.

We often meet to write together, despite the fact that our writing styles are completely different. We thought it would be interesting for everyone to know what our processes are, because we both know there’s no right or wrong way to write a book.

I’ll let Tera go first:

tryingtexasHow I Write

Having now written eleven books (sixteen if you count the ones that haven’t been published… yet) I can safely say that my writing process both changes with every book and comes down to the same thing in the end: deadlines.

My ideas for books can come from anywhere—news, life, TV, other books—and most often start with a situation. A premise or a world that I’m interested to discover more about, whether it’s a school for the descendants of Greek gods or a TV producer who has been exiled to the Texas outback to film her next show.

After the idea comes my favorite stage. Brainstorming! I love thinking and planning and finding images on Pinterest and searching for character names and looking at Google street views and all of that stuff that amounts to not writing. Some call it pre-writing, and I equal parts think it’s a necessary part of the process and a major procrastination technique. It’s probably both.

Once I kick myself into the actual writing stage… that’s when I start hating the book. Things go wrong. Words don’t flow right. Characters and situations and story arcs go awry. I sit there in the coffee shop—I always write in coffee shops—with my music playing, trying not to cry. This is the part I hate, the actual writing. First drafting. Vomit draft, discovery draft, $#!@ draft… whatever you call it, it sucks.

Usually the only way I get through the first draft is by having a deadline. A real, honest-to-goodness, things-are-riding-on-this deadline. I’m aces with deadlines!

When I get past the draft and I’m on to revisions (whether for myself or for my editor) I almost always have to print out the complete manuscript and edit by hand. It’s a horrible, laborious, environmentally wasteful process that I am trying to change, but for now… whatever gets it done.

By the time I’m done revising, I’m torn between never wanting to see the book again and being impressed that I managed to turn that steaming pile of poo into a story I’m proud of.

What I’m Writing

After sliding in hard on my deadline for Trying Texas (see writing process above) the next project on my list is a paranormal YA novella called When Magic Sleeps, which is about a dark fae prince whose magical realm is on the verge of war and a human girl who might have the power to save them all.

Buy: Trying Texas (City Chicks Book 3)

Now for my process:

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How I Write

I don’t plot at all. I’m a total pantser. My first book came about after I read a book I couldn’t relate to. I thought about what I’d like to see, and decided on two things I thought would be cool.

One: I wanted a scene where the girl was reading a book while at the pool or beach. Hot boy would pick her up and jump in the water with her, telling her he’d do whatever they guy in her book was doing. Two: I thought of a dress. I can’t tell you more, because it’s a surprise reveal at the end of the book!

That’s pretty much how I write, with just one or two things in mind when I sit down to write. I just start writing and let the characters take me wherever they want. Scenes and other things I never imagined would come out of my mind have ended up on my pages. I genuinely feel like I’m reading the book while I’m writing it, so I’m surprised with what the characters want to do as much as the readers are. Recently, I was up until one in the morning because my characters decided to have a fight, and I had to keep writing.

I’m tempted to just stop and read it sometimes, but Tera keeps me in line! I’m a pretty fast writer, which I credit to being a fast reader. I wrote my first book in a week, and now take about three to four weeks for a first draft. Once my first draft is done, I set it aside for at least a week before I start revising.

My revising process is pretty a little different, too. At least I think it is. On the first go through, I open a new word document, and copy and paste a chapter at a time. I look at only that chapter before moving on to the next. I like seeing a piece at a time. Once that one’s done, I start sending it to my beta readers.

For the next pass, I do a “save as” and call it 3. I read that one straight through, fixing and changing as I go. I usually start getting feedback from the beta readers by the time I’ve looked through it the third time, so I make changes, and then send it off to the copy/line editor. She’ll take a couple of weeks. During that time, I don’t look at it again.

Once I get, and take care of the copy and line edits, I read it through once more before it goes to the formatter. He works his magic, and sends it back to me. I check for formatting issues, but I don’t read the book again. No one can catch everything, even with eight to ten people looking it over, and it would make me crazy to catch mistakes. I like my formatter too much to keep changing things. I figure I’ll go back and read them in a couple of years.

What I’m Writing

The first book in my new series, Corrigan & Co. I like to say it’s Charlie’s Angels with a secret society of women. I read, and love, so many romance with guys who are security, but I grew up on CA, and Nancy Drew. Veronica Mars is my favorite show of all time, and Alias is right up there, too. So I wanted to write about girls going undercover. I want it to be more romance than mystery, but the girls in each of the ten books will definitely solve some type of crime. This series also gives me a chance to write about all different guys in different professions!

Buy: Creating A Love (The Griffin Brothers Book 3)

Thank you to Love Romance Passion for letting us take over! We hope you enjoyed spending time with us today!

I will tell you that we’re rubbing off on each other a little. Tera’s been having all kinds of ideas with no concrete calendar planned out. I have titles, character names, covers, and a schedule for my new series already. We’ll never truly cross over into each other’s writing style, but we definitely influence each other in ways that help us both!

How has having friends who are different than you expanded your views? Or helped you get a job done?

Buy: Trying Texas (City Chicks Book 3), Creating A Love (The Griffin Brothers Book 3)

Out of Your Reading “Comfort” Zone

lovehateIf you’re like me, you have a list of things that you like and hate to read. Sometimes though, you come across a book that you should dislike emphatically because it hits on one major dislike or several minor dislikes… and yet, despite the book containing things you dislike to read you find yourself irresistibly drawn into the author’s world. I call these books the exceptions to the rules. After all, isn’t it a lady’s prerogative to change her mind? In my case, for instance:

  • I don’t like werewolf heroes/heroines in my paranormal romance, but I love Molly Harper’s How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf. This book is fun, hilarious, and feel-good.
  • I don’t like sibling’s best friend/best friend’s sibling romances, but I love Grace Callaway’s Her Prodigal Passion. It’s steamy, passionate, and filled with angsty-goodness.
  • I don’t like beta heroes, but I love Julia Quinn’s Just Like Heaven… and it also fits the sibling’s best friend trope too. If you like audiobooks, you should snag this book in that format.
  • I don’t like selfish/whiny heroines, but I love Emma by Jane Austen… I will watch the mini-series over and over because it’s sweet and contains one of my favorite tropes — a May/December romance.
  • I don’t like children in romances, but I love Teresa Medeiros’ Charming the Prince. I especially love that the heroine bonds with the kids and they wage war on the hero.

What are some of the books that have landed on your radar that would normally stay buried? What makes them the exception to the rule for you?

Photo Credits: Aussiegall

Three Pet Peeves That Get My Goat

book tossMany of us have pet peeves when it comes to our reading habits. There are certain things that when executed just about darn get our goat. For me, I have three pet peeves that really get my ire up; I wonder if you’ll agree.

  1. Contradictions – If a character has never roller-skated don’t make the character an expert at it the first time he or she encounters a roller rink or ice skates. If a character loves classical music, don’t write that she or he never heard Mozart’s music played. If he or she is terrible with kids, don’t introduce a bundle of joy (related or unrelated to the character) and have the character create an instant rapport with the baby. It doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request. Character growth is one thing, but instant change while possible, isn’t going to fly without some exceptional writing. Blatant disregard for the personality and background of a character is a violation of the world you, the author, are building. It pulls readers out of your story quicker than they can finish reading the contradiction.
  2. Never-Ending Pity Parties – When a character ruminates on his or her troubles to the point that it becomes repetitive information (with no growth) and excruciating to read, I back away. Worst still — is the pity party with conflicting wishy-washy-ness… “I’m always bullied/overlooked career-wise/ignored by the opposite sex; I have a thick skin from years of mistreatment, but today this minor remark really, really, hurt my feelings! And I who have never cried after that terrible time when I was six, will cry buckets today.” I love angst in my novels, don’t get me wrong, but whiny woe-is-me attitudes need to be checked. When characters want to be agreed with and coddled for their “unique troubles” I am quick to scoff. I will empathize with the character to a point and then not care anymore. Don’t overdo it!
  3. Telling Not Showing – Details please! I want to submerse myself in the story. I want to do the things the characters do and feel like I am an extended part of them or the story. When an author “tells” what is and isn’t instead of “showing” through prose, the story begins to reek of falseness and deceptively. For example, force-feeding a character’s change of heart comes across condescending and calculated. It rubs the wrong way. Less “tell” and more “show” please. I don’t need a laundry-list of items that are checked off to prove something. What I want is expansive storytelling that sweeps me up and along with the characters. Let me snuggle into my comfy couch and into your book.

When it comes to these three peeves, I try to overlook the first few instances because every story deserves a chance to shine, but once it starts piling up… it’s less about the story and more about my complaints regarding the writing. My boyfriend can attest to that! What are your pet peeves when it comes to romances or books in general?

Do You Listen to Music When You Read?

reading with musicI’m not a person generally inclined to play music while I read for pleasure. I find that it’s distracting and can pull me from the middle of a good book – either because I want to sing along or because commercials came on and are aggravating. Now when I do read for work or blogging, I find background noise to be very helpful. It gives me something to tune out while I give my attention to tasks like scheduling posts. How about you, when it comes to reading for pleasure what do you do?

Reading for pleasure...

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Now how about work/blogging, what’s your preference?

Reading for work...

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If you picked the music option for pleasure reading or work related reading, tell me, what do you listen to? Is it mostly classical or instrumental or does it have jazzy beats and lyrics? I look forward to seeing you in the comments.

Photo Credits: ctsnow

What Novels Do You Read on Holiday?

love on the liftsGuest blog by Sandra Scholes

When the holiday period comes upon us, it is a time of sharing and caring for loved ones, parents and other dear relatives as well as friends we haven’t seen for a long time. The holidays also have us remember what books we have read when we have had time, and perhaps those which have made a difference to our lives.

Take a look at the ones below and tell me what you think to them? They could be just what you are looking to read, or maybe you have already read them? Either way, these are considered to be the best of the bunch…so get reading!

  1. Snow Queen by Emma Harrison
  2. Icing on the Lake by Catherine Clark
  3. The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols
  4. Let It Snow by John Green
  5. Secret Santa by Sabrina James
  6. Ex-mas by Kate Brian
  7. Snow in Love by Claire Ray
  8. Love on the Lifts by Rachel Hawthorne
  9. The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber
  10. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

What are your top ten holiday romance novels?

Maybe you want to show your own rating of these books? Please do – we at Love Romance Passion like to produce some of the most interesting and in depth articles for you to read.

You Might Be a Reader If…

The idea for this post comes from Lynn Byer. Thanks for the inspiration!

Here are some sure signs you are not a casual reader but an avid reader:

  1. You bought an ereader and now do a good portion of your reading on it. (True!)
  2. You remember to charge your ereader more than your phone. (Yes, this happens all the time for me. My phone goes dead but never my Kindle.)
  3. You know how much charge is left in your ereader but not the amount of gas in your car tank. (I got like maybe half a tank of gas??? I don’t know. At least my car never dies like my phone.)
  4. You know where to find the best book deals (cough freebies cough), but don’t know where sales are happening for clothes or other electronics. (True enough.)
  5. You read while waiting for dinner to arrive at a restaurant. (Guilty.)
  6. You read while waiting for the traffic lights to change. (Lights are never long enough.)
  7. You have more book blogger friends than real life friends. (Waves! Hi everyone!)
  8. You have a book blog as your home page for your browser. (Yes—it’s mine.)
  9. You write for and/or own a book blog. (Two actually, the other is Literature Young Adult Fiction, and several guest appearances elsewhere.)
  10. You enjoy midnight book parties (and movies based on books) and go all out. (I have been loads of characters from Bella Swan to Voldemort.)

Your Turn: What are some stories you can share that prove you’re a reader?

Photo Credits: Gibson Claire McGuire Regester

Letting Your Mind Wander…

by Sharon S., guest blogger

This post was inspired by Nancy Holzner (author of the Deadtown UF series). She did a post over at Dark Central Station called In praise of doing nothing. She talks about how doing “nothing” is something we all need to do more of, just like when we were kids. What caught my attention was when she referred to reading as “Guided Daydreaming”. What a wonderful phrase!

It got me thinking about what why I love reading. A great story will open a door to a new world where I can wander around and slowly make my way back home again. The cool thing is I can go back again and again long after the book is over. If real life is getting stressful, I will find some quiet time (in the car by myself or working out at the gym) and open one of those doors and explore. Okay, in all honesty, most of my doors have smexy alpha males behind them, but you can’t blame a girl! ;)

Where do you go so you can open a door and what is behind it? Me, I tend to wander around a place inhabited by a Fey with long fine white hair, dark eyes and has mad Martial Arts skills and wields a Samurai Sword; at least until it is time to cook dinner .

The Author as a Reader

by Myne Whitman, guest blogger and author of A Love Rekindled

My first novel, A Heart to Mend, was published in 2009, and with the positive reviews came the interviewers. My second, A Love Rekindled, out in March 2011 has also started getting some attention, and one of the more common question remains, “When did you start writing?”

The easy answer is that I started writing as a child but what I think is more important is when I started reading. Without that, I might not be a writer today, much less an author. I could stop writing today, in fact I did stop writing at some periods in my life, but I doubt I could stop reading.

Yes, I am a writer and author today but first, I was a reader.

I have to confess that for me there’s just something about books and the written word as a means to take me outside myself while still remaining very personal. The writer takes me to a new place, either physically or emotionally and plumbs my depths. I was a quiet child and even when surrounded by my siblings and other people, I would often find myself lost in my own thoughts. I loved daydreaming and the books I read were like the epitome of this fantasizing. It’s like an imagination that comes true because it’s been written down. It became so easy to travel to distant, sometimes imaginary lands, meet new people, and experience new cultures.

This was an ‘aha’ moment. I knew I would never stop. It was also around this time that I started writing down my own stories, I wrote of children’s adventures I wished I had. A few years after this, I happened on romantic fiction through Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Ahhh Jane Eyre… Charlotte Bronte was an amazing storyteller. Not only was the plot in the story as tight as a drum, the romance was so sweet. What an emotional rollercoaster. The build-up of their love was soft and touching, there were twists to keep you turning the page. I ended up reading the book several times in the following years.

Hundreds of novels have passed through my hands in the years since, and among them are authors that I will never forget. They reached right into my ribcage and squeezed, sometimes hard enough to make my eyes leak.They include Bertha M. Clay, Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts, Elechi Amadi , Sidney Sheldon, Buchi Emecheta, Harold Robbins, Judith Krantz, Helen Ovbiagele and Barbara Delinsky among others too numerous to mention. They educated me; shaped me, entertained me, and they pierced my heart. Beautifully written, and masterfully crafted, books by these authors had me sobbing at different stages.

I had another ‘aha’ moment. I wanted to write these sorts of books. It became sealed when I read the inspirational romance penned by Francine Rivers, Redeeming Love. I won’t try to describe this book to you. You just have to experience it yourself. I began writing again after that, just before the millennium. And I was writing romance. A Heart to Mend began life from a novella I wrote back then. I wouldn’t compare it to any I have listed but I’m also not ashamed of it. I hope to write more novels and know that they will be better than A Heart to Mend. I also hope that others will one day list my novels when talking about books they’ve read.

So yes, there is something amazing about writing and being able to hold a book you’ve authored. But what fewer writers talk about is reading that book and being captivated by your own story. We rarely talk about being lost in the pages of a good book, of reading throughout the night and having to prop open our eyes with toothpicks the next day, of spending minutes crying or simply thinking after reading a scene in a novel. This is what makes reading so indispensable to me, they can be simply for enjoyment but they also have the ability to change a life, an opinion, a belief, a worldview. So while I write to be authored, I mostly write to be read and to read.

Efe returns to Nigeria after years in the United States, dreaming of a happy, independent life. However, her nights become plagued by nightmares of Kevwe Mukoro, her ex-fiancé. Long hours at work and drinking in nightclubs only provide temporary relief, and when she encounters Kevwe’s twin brother, she knows it’s a matter of time before Kevwe is back in her life. Sparks fly when they finally meet again, but desire is no match for bitter memories of heartbreak. All these years, Efe believed she was rejected; now Kevwe claims he’d never stopped loving her. Stuck at a crossroads, Kevwe prefers to look to the future, but Efe is not so sure. Can the traumatic events of the past be resolved, and will she give in to rekindled love?

Buy: A Love Rekindled

About the Author

Myne Whitman was born and raised in Enugu, Nigeria, where she spent most of her time, studying, reading and daydreaming, or climbing trees and playing with the boys. She has a Master’s degree in Public Health Research but chose to go back to her childhood dream of spinning stories. Myne is living her own love story with her husband in Bellevue, Washington and volunteers as an ESL tutor for a local charity, writing and blogging the rest of the time. She critiques with the Seattle Eastside Writers Meet-up and is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.