I couldn’t say no, when asked by Susan Mac Nicol to participate in a blog hop. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that she asked Toby to bat his eyelashes at me to seal the deal…. or maybe I just imagined that part.) My only obligation (apart from finding and tagging the next generation of participants) is to Tell All about my writing process. I’m not entirely sure “process” is the right word to use, in my case – I’m reminded of my priest, when she’s asked why she’s an Episcopalian, she generally replies “Because I can’t stand organized religion.” But I’ll give it my best shot!

What am I working on? I’m currently on Chapter 26 of Blowing Smoke, which is the first in a new four-book cycle of Fae novels, the Broken Pattern. All the Fae novels are SoulShares stories, really, but only the first four are the “official” SoulShares four-book cycle. (I feel a little like George Lucas. “No, only the first movie is Star Wars. Oh, okay, the first three are the Star Wars trilogy. Oh, wait, now there’s the Star Wars original trilogy and the Star Wars prequel trilogy.”) After I finish with Blowing Smoke, it’s going to be an interesting summer, since I’m moving all through the months of June and July and I really don’t want to be fighting with deadlines till I’m done. But I want to work on a shifter short story to submit for a DSP Christmas anthology, and that has an August deadline, so I suppose there’s no getting around that. Then it’s on to Bound in Oak, the third Tales of the Grove novella.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? Is it really bad of me to say that I have no idea? I’ve always had a problem with reading while I’m writing – I soak up literary styles like the proverbial sponge, and I’d purely hate for anyone to think I was plagiarizing them. But after I’d been writing for a year or so, I realized I was having serious withdrawal symptoms, so I started (in my copious spare time, cough cough) reading contemporary m/m. And I found out that I’m pretty safe with that. But I still don’t dare go near paranormal. So I guess you’ll have to tell me how I differ from other paranormal/urban fantasy m/m writers!

Why do I write what I do? Oh, wow. Let’s see… I got back into writing after about 30 years away, role-play writing on Facebook, just for fun. Strictly m/f, because those were the authors I was reading at the time, and I honestly didn’t think I could write m/m. I’m a stickler for accuracy, and for fairly obvious reasons, both anatomical and social, I didn’t think I had it in me to write m/m. But a dear friend begged to differ, and begged me to try. So as a surprise for her, I found a writing partner and gave it a shot. And I’ve never looked back. And it’s funny – another dear friend of mine, the only gay man I could even think of asking to, um, fact-check my first book, read the first few chapters, and his first comment was “Who are you? – have you been a gay man in drag for the last 20 years and you just never told me?” And there are days when that’s very much what it feels like. Writing m/m is a continuous voyage of self-discovery, and I love every minute of it. And I love the community I’m part of, too.

How does my writing process work? Saving the hardest part for last. (Incidentally, in her blog, Susan posted a picture of her lovely writing nook at this point. I’m not going to do that, because I’m too busy trying to write to evade the men in white coats with butterfly nets who would be descending on me in hordes.)
I usually get story ideas in one of two ways. Most often, I’ll hear characters talking to me before anything else. (I am, incidentally, a firm believer in muses, even if I’ve never gotten a good clear look at my own.) Once I know the characters, I start trying to work out what it was that made them who they are, or what got them to the point they’re trying to tell me about. That’s their story. So far, my characters have been kind to me for the most part, and have told me stories that fit into either my Fae stories or my Gille Dubh stories. I don’t have nearly as much time to write as I’d like, and if I had a bunch of unruly guys trying to tell me stories in a half-dozen worlds at once, I think I might have to be sedated.
Sometimes, though, it’s the story idea that comes to me first. And then I have to work backwards from there, to figure out who would be telling that particular story, and how they got involved in it. That’s the case with the short story I want to start after I finish Blowing Smoke – I was given the premise of “Christmas outside the United States”. And at a panel I was on at RainbowCon, the idea came up of doing a benefit anthology of HEA m/m stories set in Russia and the Ukraine, and the two ideas merged perfectly. Like chocolate and peanut butter. Only including a hot wolf shifter, which is a trope I’m pretty sure never came up in the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials. Unfortunately.
The actual “writing it down” part of the process is fairly straightforward. I’m mostly a pantser, but I’ll usually outline the first five or six chapters of a book, very generally. Maybe a paragraph per chapter, sometimes just a sentence. By the time I’m on four or five, the next four or five have usually come to me, so I add them in. A few more chapters, and I’m ready to fill in the rest of the book. Though the outline of the last third of the book or so is never set in stone, because later chapters tend to calve off new chapters I hadn’t planned on. And in Blowing Smoke, I’m encountering a new phenomenon (new to me, anyway) – usually, my chapters are each told from a single point of view. There are unquestionably writers who can do head-hopping and not be confusing, but I’m not one of them. But the later chapters in Blowing Smoke are breaking up into scenes, each scene with a different POV character. We’ll see how that works out…
And now I turn you over to my fellow hoppers, my partners in crime, my willing victims- er, dear friends. (A number of whom are, I think, still either at or recovering from RT2014, so it may be a little while before their posts are up!) Angel Martinez, Dean Pace-Frech, Leta Blake, Nicole Dennis, Pamela Pelaam-One, you’re up!

 

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