“What Does Your Writing Process Look Like?” 350th Anniversary Multi-Author Special Blog Event

“What Does Your Writing Process Look Like?”

Writers are strange creatures. We all have various methods that eventually get us to the published page. By the time readers see the finished product, they really don’t know what went into the whole process – the long nights spent awake, the moments wracking our brains for the perfect word or phrase, when the muse was driving us crazy – and, of course, everything else which brought about this book that fans adore. 

Bearing that in mind, it’s why I wanted to do a very fun project with my fellow writers, to investigate this question and let our readers know what makes a book, obviously other than writing, editing and publishing. What unusual habits do writers use to get the story onto the page? How do they get from idea to fruition? So, I asked a group of talented authors to give us their take on the writing process. I thought this might not only give book readers a glimpse into how it works, but also help some of our aspiring writers out there, or rather writers at any stage of their careers. How does that sound? 

Yeah, I thought it would be pretty cool too! On top of that, we’ve hit an anniversary here on Writing in the Modern Age…our 350th post! Woo hoo! We have come so far since 2013, when I began inviting guest authors to participate on the blog. And I am beyond proud to have met all of them, as well as the readers from different backgrounds who often visit our fine blog. 

Shall we find out what these 45 authors have to say today? Why not? So, without further ado, take it away, everyone!

Caryl McAdoo - Christian Hybrid Author, 28 published titles, 4 series: historical, contemporary, Biblical fiction, and fiction for Mid-grade and YA readers

My writing process is much like the way you read a story. I start writing with Chapter One and write the whole story straight through to Chapter thirty-two or however many it takes to finish and then write The End. When I begin, I have a premise in mind with some of my characters' back stories. But I gather more as I go along, knowing back story is for me to know in the start and readers to find out along the way...just as we all get to know new folks we meet. 

     I usually write at least a scene a day--though I do take a whole week off sometimes, and many random days where I never get to write for all the editing, formatting, and marketing I'm doing. I usually have three titles in the works...one fixin' to release; one that's finished, or almost, and I'm editing, formatting, and working on a cover; and one new story I'm writing on. I count it all joy that God called me to write, sent me to some of the best mentors I could ever have asked for at the DFW Writers' Workshop to learn my craft, then blessed me with these wonderful, interesting characters and their stories!

Amazon Author Page: 

Viv Drewa - Author, Blogger, PA

First off I take my shoes and socks off as I can’t write with my feet covered. I have yet to figure this out.

Seriously, though, once I decide what type of book I want to write I write out what I want in each chapter. Usually, this gets edited as I go by either adding, shifting or deleting my ideas. 

Next, I create and interview my characters. Yes, interview them! Interviewing helps me understand each and every one, even the characters who are only in a couple of scenes.  When I create them, I come up with a physical description then choose a name that I feel would suit them. I may change a character's name as I’m writing but this only happened once so far.

As I write my book, I use a technique a friend and fellow author, Scott Eder, recommended: keep a notepad nearby in case you think of something you want to add to a previous chapter. Having the notepad does save a lot of time, and when I’m doing my first draft, I can add the notes in as I write. Then I do the second, and the last draft before editing with Grammarly. It’s a great program and is available for free or subscription.

I just started using Beta readers, who are a great help as there are things I see in my mind's eye that I forget to put in the book. They are the best group of people I’ve worked with!

Then off to the publishing house.

Amazon Author Page: 

Tom Johnson - Action Writer 
I write many genres, including science fiction, western, adventure, and mystery. I prefer being called an action writer to any specific genre because I load my stories with action and danger.

My work place is in my bedroom. I can shut the door, and put my thoughts to paper. For inspiration I have a wall of super heroes to push me forward. 

I need seclusion from noise and interruption when I write. As my words are flowing on paper, I don’t want a telephone jarring me from concentration. 

 I get stories from dreams sometimes. For instance, one night I dreamed of a UFO floating down from the night sky, and an alien exiting the moon-like craft. A young boy was lying on the ground, and the alien kneeled beside him and spoke something to him telepathically. I remembered that scene vividly, and knew I had a story. What was the purpose of the UFO and alien? Why was the boy there, and what was wrong with him? And what did the alien say to him? From that dream came the first of three novelettes that compose the e-book, THESE ALIEN SKIES. It’s planned for a December release in paperback. 

 Television is another good source. A Christmas episode of THE EQUALIZER featured a young boy with AIDS, raised by his grandmother. Rednecks in a bar wanted them out of the community. The boy had a poster of a comic book hero that the men ripped off his wall one night. He calls The Equalizer, thinking he is the comic book hero. That sparked another three-issue run of a pulp hero called The Masked Avenger, a hero that protects children. These appeared in paperback from ALTUS PRESS in TRIPLE DETECTIVE #2, 3 & 4.

Three appears to be my lucky number, as both of these series have done well. I wrote six novels in the JUR series, and they don’t seem as popular. This series was actually created in the mid 1960s when I was stationed with the Army in France. I was the military police desk sergeant, and on slow nights, when my units were out on patrol, I would experiment with plots and characters. One of the plots was JUR: A STORY OF PRE-Dawn EARTH. Nothing came of the series until 1970, after a tour in the jungles of Vietnam. With my imagination I saw lost civilizations, prehistoric beasts, and ancient races of people. When I returned to the states I wrote the first two JUR novels, and they were just as quickly rejected. I had a long way to go before I would polish my skills as a writer. But it was a beginning.


Fiona Tarr - Writes heroic fantasy with mystical themes based around historical stories 
My writing is often seasonal. We have a busy period in our business so during this time I focus on my work and any other projects I am working on. I write blog posts, do promotional work, make guest appearances on other writers and reviewers' blogs and generally map out and imagine what my next book is going to look like. 

Once the season slows down I begin writing my new story. 

Writing fiction is a great wind down for me, a release from the tension of my busy summer at work.  

My writing process goes a little like this: 

       I have the plot outline roughly planned out. 

·       I have my main stay characters that everyone expects to find from earlier books.

·       I have a number of new characters in mind to help develop the plot.

·       I start writing and don’t edit.

·       I split chapters as I see them develop along the way.

·       I try to put a beginning, middle and end into each chapter (Bryce Courtenay tip).

·       I share a lot of internal dialogue about what my characters are feeling (I want the reader to really get to know them).

·       I keep ideas and future directions for the plot in a running list of notes at the bottom on my manuscript. (Fancy programs don’t work for me; they slow the flow down).

·       I research any facts I need as I go, making notes and keeping Internet references at the bottom of my page for rechecking.

·       I finish the story and begin the reading and editing phase. This is where I find any holes in the story, boring bits where the rhythm has died, facts I need to recheck and so on. 

·       Once I am happy, I then have two of my closest beta readers read through the story for initial ideas and feedback. 

·       I edit accordingly and the manuscript goes off to my first editor (my mum) who picks up all the usual grammar errors. I am getting better, of course, but I am a writer, not a grammar teacher or librarian. There are always mistakes.

·       After making the necessary grammar changes I give the book to my broader Beta reading team.
·       After final Beta reading, the book goes to my professional editor. Adele does a line by line and overall story edit.

·       We work together to implement the final changes. 

·       I release the ARC (advanced reader copy) to my team and set my release dates, finalize cover art, toss around the blurb (the hardest part, I think) and then prepare my release marketing schedule.

David M. Mannes - Multi-genre Author

I sometimes find it difficult to talk about my writing process. The word process means that I have some sort of set plan or system to my writing. I’ve been blessed with an overactive imagination and the compulsion to put my thoughts on paper. I’ve been writing since I was around ten, and that was a long time ago. I write in a variety of genres and even mix genres. 

These days I usually write in the afternoon (I do have a day job). I find I get ideas from newspaper and internet articles, and sometimes ideas pop into my head when I’m out walking my dog, Kahlua. I find the catalytic question to ask is, “What if…” Often, no matter what sort of rough outline I make the story often takes on a life of its own and perhaps my subconscious guides me. I don’t have a particular set amount of how much I’ll write each day. Some days I’ve written as much as seventy pages in two or three hours and other days, maybe a half a page or a few pages.  On average it takes me about a year to do a book. When I get stuck, or the creative juices aren’t flowing, I go back and re-read and edit what I’ve done. As well, I often work on two or three pieces at a time. Never know what sort of mood I’ll be in or what will suddenly inspire or motivate me. 

I often listen to music suitable to the subject matter. For example, while writing The Tunguska Encounter, the second Damien Wynter-Majic 12 adventure, I listened to James Bond and similar theme soundtracks.  For Scarlet Vengeance, the second in the Constable Kingsley and Charlie Buck series, I have a few CDs of western movie and TV theme music. When I wrote The Cantor’s Son, I listened to a lot of 60’s rock and folk rock music.

A.B. Funkhauser - Paranormal gonzo author of the award winning HEUER LOST AND FOUND and SCOOTER NATION


Pantsers and plotters are two species we hear a great deal about, but what about the “mullers”? Neither deliberate nor calculating, mullers often stumble on an idea in random places —  the grocer’s aisle, Big Box, bike lane, blog spot — or through curious pop conventions foisted on them everywhere in glorious, bilious, digital tabloid color.

With a hint of a thing, mullers will posit and chew without committing a single word to screen, often for weeks, or months, until they finally do, with few breaks in between. Characters and scenes — sparkling diamonds — come in tandem at any time of the day or night. These, once on the page and safely stowed in the WIP file, almost always make the final cut when the last edits are done.

Just how random scenes become a fully realized work varies from muller to muller. For me, it is a combination of planning and playing, beginning with one of the aforementioned pop scenes; the best of which is usually chapter 1. From there, characters wander at will, each jostling for poll position. By Act 2, I have a fairly decent idea of who my protagonist will be.

I never pressure myself in the first draft to attain structural perfection. In fact, I rarely begin to plot until I have the last line of the final scene, which usually presents itself at around the same time the real protagonist emerges. With Act 1 and an ending, I’m free to joyously jump in and plot Acts 2 and 3, always keeping in mind that my characters will hijack me and throw the best made plans clear off the screen.

I don’t like surprises in my life, but in writing I very much do. That said, I will never sit down in front of a cold screen. Mulling, for me, is writing—it’s in my head. Tapping it out is the joy.

(At the time of this printing, A. B. Funkhauser is halfway through draft one of DIRTY DALE, a much mulled piece getting its way through NaNoWriMo 2016.)

Andy Ruffett - Writer of Fiction and Nonfiction
My writing process usually begins and ends with music. When I was young, I played a bunch of songs on shuffle on my iTunes and found that sometimes what I was listening to fit the writing. These days however, I find I NEED MUSIC to BEGIN WRITING.

My writing process begins with an idea which I either branch out or don't. Usually there's tea or something to drink by my desk and all my serious writing is done on my computer unless there's no computer and then I use a notebook. When I write songs, for example, all the songs are written in my red binder which I keep in the second drawer in my desk. For novels, I either open a new Word document or look at an old one and continue from there.

I usually write a chapter and then stop unless there is some REAL PRESSING DRIVE to continue. If there is, I try not to over-limit myself to more than two chapters. Thing is, I have A LOT of projects I'm working on so it could just mean I move to another project, but usually after my completion of writing, I'm done for the day.
The worst problem, though, is that if a good song is not playing, I can't get into the groove of writing novels. It can be very frustrating and that's why I haven't written any of my books in a while. The ideas are there, but I can't get them down in Word because I'm not driven.

I'm hoping the beginning of my writers' group will help fix that.

However, I do writing in many different ways: lyrics, novels, short stories, poems, tweets, essays, articles, and posts. I have begun this new thing where I take pictures of figurines and write a caption, line, or little story beside each picture. So you see, there are many different ways I write and therefore many processes as to how I write as well.
Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/2dq2ZSo

Jannette Fuller - YA Author

Stirring up ideas and jotting them down is only the beginning. In order to create a story, some level of planning needs to be made. Note cards, sketches, and bullet points can come in handy if you’re not a fan of writing extensive outlines. Which, by the way, I’m not a fan of them either. I consider myself to be more of a pantster, but I do need a visual to help me along the way. 

I have a recipe to create. When I think of writing, I think of lasagna. You’re hungry now, aren’t you? Before I start pounding away at the keyboard, I get my notebook and write down the theme/moral of the story, create character profiles, list all the locations within the story, write down secrets & twists, and then I add a timeline (which includes the day, month, season, and weather). Once I’ve done that, I add the main component to each chapter.  Here’s an example of what my recipe/process looks like: 

Chapter One
l  Season/month/day/weather
l  Introduction to main characters (s)
l  Main scene
l  End chapter to set up the next chapter

Seriously, this is all I do. I start writing and fill in the blanks, which is a whole LOT of blanks! I’m character driven, and I wouldn’t change it any other way. They always come up with better plots than I do. They keep me on edge as they entwine mystery and suspense, revealing secrets that cause me to bring a hand up to my slacked-jaw. 

What about you? Are you character driven? Plot driven? World-building driven?
So once the first draft is completed, the editing – layering – begins! I let my manuscript marinate for a little while, a month at the most, and then the virtual red pen makes its appearance. Eep! This is when I slip on my apron, grab a casserole dish, and pour in all the ingredients. One layer at a time. Layering requires a keen eye, making sure all the story’s components go into the correct places. Let me demonstrate my layering process.

Layer One: Structuring my plot. If it’s all over the place, I get anxious and confused. And if there are any words underlined in red, I’ll correct them. 

Layer Two: Filling in plot holes, adding a better explanation of things, and foreshadowing in the appropriate places. 

Layer Three: Restructuring my sentences to where they read better. This is when I’ll switch out certain words for better ones. Word choice is important. It can give the story and characters more oomph! 

Layer Four: This is where I pick up the pace, cutting out redundancy, boring content, and anything that slows the story down. I love fast-paced reads. How about you?

Layer Five: I love this process! This is where sprinkles of magic happen. I take my Word Doc and convert it into a PDF. Then I’ll read through the story and clean up typos, insert missing punctuation and words, and add tidbits of content to add more pizzazz! 

I do have one more ingredient...the secret sauce. Wanna know what it is? Of course you do. Before my manuscript is handed over for others to read, I go through it one last time. I copy and paste it into Natural Reader. A free text to speech tool that works wonders. I highly recommend it! Check it out for yourself. You got nothing to lose, right?

Did you hear that? The timer just went off. So put on your mitten and take out your literary lasagna. Now it’s up to you what you’ll do next: serve your story to the world, or keep it all to yourself. Caution: some ovens may vary. Some stories take longer to cook than others. 

Happy Writing, Editing, Reading!

Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/2e9wlp7

Stefan Vucak - Editor and Author of contemporary and science fiction novels

Okay, this is how I go about my craft:
  • Decide on a concept/theme for the book.
  • Jot down all the pointers/elements that will make a story.
  • Thoroughly research all the story elements.
  • Develop your characters.
  • Write a point-by-point story outline/synopsis.
  • Develop a detailed outline.
  • Fill in any missing research elements.
  • Start writing.
  • Review, edit, rewrite.
  • Review and edit the final version.
  • Take a holiday!
If you are like me, when I pluck a book idea from a pool of other potential ideas, thinking about it, that idea generates a cascade of images. What I am doing is breaking down the idea into scenes. It is all rough at this point and the scenes may not have any coherence or logical sequence, it doesn’t matter. I am starting the plotting process. What I do is write down bullet sentences for each scene idea. At this stage, my head is buzzing with action images. Wearing a satisfied smirk, telling myself this one will be a blockbuster. I need that confidence booster to charge me up and keep me going through the inevitable dark patches. Another thing that can work is to write each scene on a slip of paper and keep them in a file or shoebox. Or you can use a spreadsheet. Again, it doesn’t matter what you do with them as long as you keep them somewhere. Inevitably, I reach a point when I cannot think of anything else and I am staring at a blank sheet of paper.

At this point, what I do is pull out all those scenes and start putting them into some order: the sequence in which the book will be written. Some scenes will fit and some won’t. Having built the initial skeleton, I identify more scenes until I have a beginning, as many main story elements as I can think of, and an ending. Getting an ending is important, as it will define the flow of the book, and it must not be a letdown! You must leave the reader satisfied, not disillusioned. What do I do with all those scenes that never make it into the skeleton? I keep them until the entire book skeleton is completely built, then I discard them.

Completely built? I may have the main story elements identified, but that’s not usually enough to wrap a book around, unless it is something short. So far, all I’ve done is work on the main subject of the book. It is time to add smaller bones and drape some flesh over everything. Remember the outline points: identify the characters and the human elements? I need to know who does what to whom and who gets paid…and why. Every book is about interaction between characters and their environment, whether natural, family, political, workplace, whatever. If you are not writing about characters, you’re writing a user manual.

Rival Gates - Author of Epic Fantasy

Hello, I am Rival Gates and I have been honored with being asked to write a piece on “What does your writing process look like?” 

Writing is like a fire. You need a spark and then you need to feed it bits of fuel until you have a flame. The trick is to have the proper wood to build it from there or the fire will go out. I was so sick of the “Superman Theory”. In essence someone was invincible unless you had kryptonite. I wanted a strong hero but I wanted his powers to drain him so he had to make the most of them. Once they were gone he would be exhausted and nearly helpless. That was a spark. Then I needed to add kindling. I needed to surround the idea with more ideas before I forgot about the spark. So the natural next question is, “Is he a wizard?” No, wizards have been done to death. He needs to be someone who can fight without his power. So he needs something to give him that power. As long as each answer leads to another question you’re building that fire. 

VERY IMPORTANT…You need total silence where you work so you are not distracted from the fire and you must write down your ideas, even if it’s in bullet form. Otherwise when you return to it in a few days you will have forgotten what you created.

Once I’m well into the writing process I keep a 64 once glass of water by my side. Writing makes me thirsty. I plot out my stories but sometimes I need more detail and it stumps me. Usually I pace back and forth and work it out in my head. If it’s really bad I go to church and sit in one of the pews. The answer always comes to me right away. It could be religion or it could be the complete removal of all other stimuli. NEVER listen to music or watch T.V. to “Take a break.” It cements that problem and makes it harder to overcome because you have to get back to that mood in the story.

Keep on writing…

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1f8PJNr

K.C. Sprayberry - Author of Young Adult, Romance, Western, Military, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal Fiction

What does my writing process look like?

I have to say many people might run off hearing about this. My writing process depends entirely on what my characters are doing or saying every day. I may have attempted an outline—major huge emphasis on 'attempted'—but I can guarantee you that by chapter three I’m struggling to stay with the outline and by chapter five, it’s out the window. Although, I will keep important points on mini legal pads that tend to stack up on my desk in droves.

I rarely work on a single story at a time. Once I hit a sticking point, another story’s characters are always ready to jump and wave their hand, screaming frantically, “Me next!” I must oblige or be subjected to hours and hours of pouting characters, who can and have interrupted my concentration to the point where I’ve often yelled, “All right, already. I’m coming!” Kind of reminds me of when my kids were toddlers and tearing up the house when they wanted their meals.

Rebecca L. Frencl - Writer of Romance and Fantasy
Calling it a “writing process” actually seems to legitimize it and make me sound slightly professional. So, I’ll take that. In the grand scheme of writing processes there are plotters and there are pantsers—those who meticulously outline their stories and those who come up with scenes on the fly. In spite of how I teach my students to write, I’m an amalgamation of both. I usually start with either a theme or a character or a specific scene that I can’t get out of my head.  

            I’ve tried just making stuff up as I go along. Those stories kind of limp along and eventually die a horrible death fraught with inconsistencies and confusion. I’ve also tried to outline everything. I’ve gotten bored with those stories before I finished the outlines. I realized that I needed to have some sort of flexibility that obsessive plotting erases. 

            So, I see writing like planning a road trip. You know where you’re starting from and you know your ultimate destination. You have a few really important stops you are going to make along the way. For example, you know you’re going to check out Niagra Falls on the way or take a ride up to the top of the Sears Tower. (I’m from right outside the city of Chicago, it will always be the Sears Tower to us.) However, as you drive along you see the attractions signs on the side of the road. A lot of them you ignore. They’d be a waste of time, but one or two look really interesting. You know, I think I do want to go see Mammoth Caves. That’s how I see writing. I know the beginning and the end. I know there are certain scenes I need to have in order to keep the story moving along, but those little detours are what really make the story interesting. 

For example, Ascent of the Fallen, the first in my Ascended series of books was supposed to be a short story about a magic tattoo and an angel who regains his wings.  All right, it was probably really going to be a novella since I can’t write short. It’s a running joke that my short stories get away from me. However, I knew Rue, the main character was going to meet Serafina and she was going to show him how wonderful and miraculous humanity was. He’d regain his compassion and his wings, the tattoo he’d had meticulously inked onto back would peel away and he’d ascend back to the ranks of the heavenly hosts. Nice, right? Good, sweet little story about regaining your faith in mankind and realizing things aren’t always what they seem. Well….I gave the demon Asmoday a walk on part to taunt Rue and got an idea. It was an idea that twisted the story away from my original map and down a few more roads. I had to redo my route. 

After I’ve written the initial scene or after I get to the part where I’m going to leave the original plan, I sit down and take a little bit of time to figure out what’s going to happen from then on through to the end of the story. Under the actual text I jot down all my ideas in all capital letters and as I get through those plot points I erase them. It’s what works for me. It’s enough of an outline to give me an idea of where the story is going and how much I have left. It’s a place where I can keep track of names, dates and characters so there are fewer plot holes in the long run, but it also affords me the flexibility to go off road if I want to. 

I tell all my students that they have to find their own writing process. They need to discover what works for them. I encourage outlining, particularly for novice writers. It’s less likely that their stories will circle and die with outlining. However, we all have to decide what’s best for us. 

Pardon me, I actually have to go edit about forty student stories right now… 

P.I. Barrington - Author of Crime Thrillers and Science Fiction

When I write, I’m writing the movie that’s playing in my head at any given time. And that show almost always starts with a name.  Like credits rolling up the screen at the beginning of any film made anywhere and almost always made in Hollywood. They’re pretty good at that, my old friends in film land and they’ve taught me a lot usually via osmosis and I remember most of the good, important parts like credits. 

And so it begins with a name. I have at least 19 baby name books. I started keeping them when I was about thirteen or so and I still have the very first tiny book from that time, its pages tearing like fragile leaves whenever gently touched. Depending on the gender of my main characters (a hero and heroine) I start looking for a name, the given or the first name. My current main character, Alekzander Brede, is like his name and the way it sounds: hard, edgy and aggressive. And he is. So is his surname or last name if you will. There was a reason for that in my mind. When I saw the last name, Brede, the meaning of that name is “Ice” or “ice-like” and I knew they fit together and sounded right. That’s how he became an anti-hero’s antihero. I was sick of the usual six-pack studs with little or no face and body hair who beats up everybody around for his ridiculous lady-fair. No, I wanted somebody even I could hate. That way, he’d have to really work hard to get my approval and it wasn’t going to be easy for him or anybody around him. Like Elektra Tate. If you’ve ever read any modern or ancient playwrights like Eugene O’Neill and Sophocles, you’ll know the name. I didn’t pick it this time though, it picked me. She told me her name and gave me her surname as well just like the impudent child I’d always pictured her to be. I even have a picture of Elektra at about age 3 wearing a frustrated, unhappy frown, blonde hair swirled in a wild nest across her little face. Yep, that’s my girl. Elektra Tate. And, I saw her in Pitch Black, as Carolyn Fry. Only I didn’t know who Radha Mitchell was since I only saw that movie a few years ago. She was younger then, but not too young to be Alekzander’s wannabee girlfriend in The Brede Chronicles. Pretty much everyone else in the book save Colin Factor and Brede and Elektra’s son Zander, have either forgettable names or the type of name that instantly exposes their personality flaws. 

There you have it, my writing process in the form of moviemaking, complete with setting, major characters, and storyline.

Oh, yeah, and my new official office is a big change from sitting at a heavy, black monster desk stuffed into a corner of my massive living room, to a monster office. I even have a geared clock and a few Steampunk accessories to keep me in line and on time as much as possible. 

Oh, and of course, my custom shelf to hold all those names:

Natalie Silk - Author of YA Science Fiction

Oh, the irony of it all!  I love science fiction.  I love new and shiny things called technology.  I love technology to the point where I invest in tech stock!  Yet, I'm soooo painfully an old-school writer.  I need to buy a brand new little notebook and write my story down.  Yes, that's correct. I take pen to paper (which is really writing) and not typing.  Writing connects me to my story. 

Then I go to my trusty old laptop and write (er, I mean, type) my story.

Why do I write?  Because a day without art in all its forms is a day not worth living!

Devika Fernando - Romance Novelist

I’m stuck somewhere between being a pantser and a plotter, and it’s a nice place to be stuck in. LOL. First, there’s the story idea for another romance novel – sometimes it will just pop into my head, sometimes it’s inspired by a photo or writing prompt, at other times (when writing a series), I sit down and brainstorm. After the idea, I take notes and write a rough plot outline, divided into chapters or scenes. I familiarize myself with the characters and give them their names, looks and basic background. I also write a first draft of the blurb (longer and more informative than the final version) so I don’t forget the bigger picture. And then? Then I write!

When I started out as a romance novelist some years ago, I stuck to the order of the story and wrote in one continuing document from the beginning until ‘The End’. However, I discovered along the way that it’s better for my brain and writing if I type whatever scene is foremost on my mind. So now, I write the important scenes and the chapters that really want to be told first, not necessarily in order. Each has its own document. (For my 2nd Royal Romance THE PRINCE’S STUBBORN BRIDE, for example, I wrote the 3rd and 4th chapter last.) As soon as the whole book is finished, I’ll add in what I call ‘fillers’ – small scenes that link what I’ve written together or that I omitted the first time around. Once that is done, I embark on my first round of edits. Then the book is sent off to my beta readers. After their feedback is in, I go through my second round of editing. Last comes the formatting so that I can upload the manuscript to various e-book retail sites.

Mark Conte - Author

I have a notes section on my computer where I have anywhere from two lines to two pages of a story I am thinking of writing. Not all of them become books. With my book Five Days to Eternity, I saw a news clipping of a leader of a new religious cult in Arizona. He looked like Jesus. I wondered what would happen if he came back today and what ethnic background he would chose. The idea kept running around in my head for several months. Then I read the story of a California team of explorers who found a tribe in the Amazon jungle that was supposed to be extinct. That was it. I had him born in the Amazon jungle. When I began writing, everything came to me so fast I could barely keep up with the images. But not all books were like that. A Friend of the Family, due out in December 2017, took 12 years. I wrote four chapters, got stuck, worked on another book, wrote another four chapters, got stuck, etc. until it was finished. All my books need a lot of research. Research is very important to the book. The Ghost was a serial killer book of a prisoner I interviewed many years ago. It took me a long time to decide to write it because it was a scary book. However, it only took 10 months to write. My other books were written with whatever idea I had at the time.

The best time for me to write is in the morning when my mind is clean of the day's clutter and I have more energy. However, when I am near the end of the book, I write all times of the day because I am rushing to the end. I usually have a loose plot so that I know where I am going, but I may change some parts so that it fits the story. On two books, I knew how it would end and I wrote the ending first. Then I had to write the rest of the novel.

It is always best for me to write on my computer. I am comfortable there and if I have to do a quick research I just switch to the internet. When I create I try to make them as real as possible, giving them every detail a real person has.  After that, I can't make them do something that character would not do. They push me all over the page and tell me what they want to do. After a while, they become like my children. I laugh with them and enjoy all their successes and cry with them at tragic lives I give them and I feel the guilt of putting them there. I love all my characters. 

Website:  markrconte.com

Linda Lee Williams - Writer, Blogger, Contemporary Romance with a Paranormal Twist

My writing process emulates John Irving’s:

“I don’t want to write that first sentence until all the important connections in the novel are known to me.  As if the story has already taken place, and it’s my responsibility to put it in the right order to tell it to you.”

When the seed of an idea is planted in my mind, I let the idea germinate.  Some ideas grow and thrive; others wither and pass away. Before I begin writing, I have intimate knowledge of the main players in my book—more about their backgrounds than the reader will ever know. When my fictional people are persistent—when I can silence their voices no longer, I’m compelled to tell their stories. I feel as if I’m taking dictation while my characters bare their souls to me. Of course, then it’s up to me to make sense out of everything they’ve revealed.

My characters drive the plot; I go where they go, not vice-versa. They set their courses, and we travel together—although not always comfortably. When we reach the end of the journey, we’ve made it by hook or by crook. All of us are exhausted and relieved we’ve arrived.

I don’t pretend to understand this part of the writing process. One action leads to another, triggering consequences for the characters. We hit potholes, have flat tires, get lost in the dark on the road of life—find our way back into the light and chart a new route.

As for me, the lowly author? I’m grateful I was invited along for the ride.

Olga Núñez Miret - Writer, Translator (English-Spanish and vice versa), Blogger, Author of YA, Romance, Psychological Thriller, Literary Fiction
"What does your writing process look like?"

It depends. I don’t stick to a method, and as I write in different genres I find that works out best. For my YA series Angelic Business I knew from the beginning I’d be writing a trilogy, and had some ideas as to the general content of each one of the books, but not the full details. I wrote a plan with the chapters and a summary of what would happen in each one of them, but some crucial scenes developed as I wrote. For the last book in my psychological thriller series Escaping Psychiatry (Escaping Psychiatry 2. The Case of the Swapped Bodies) due for release soon, I dreamt a story that ended up becoming a story within a story in that book, and I built the rest of the story around it, with the main characters in the series joining in. I like to experiment but sometimes one gets stuck and with this novel, after writing the original story I didn’t know how to incorporate it into the book until then I had the idea for another story, the prequel, and once I wrote that one everything became clear. I’m not sure I believe in pure inspiration but sometimes it works that way.

Laura Ranger - Author
My writing process used to be as a pantser, but when I saw the value in outlining to complete a 100k novel in 28 days, I’m reformed. I have a boatload of ideas for various stories. Doing as I do allows me to avoid ever having writer's block. As well, I can jump between stories easily if a thought comes to me on a story I’m not currently writing. It may be just to add a particular chapter to my outline, or I may have a whole scene come to mind. 

I use Microsoft Word to create. Some like to write everything down and then transfer, but I find I have so much more freedom if I can change, alter, correct, and move things around in a word processing setting. I take my book idea, split it into three Acts. Since I generally aim for 100k words per novel, I then break each act into 10 chapters. I jot notes on each chapter in my outline, assign chapter names if they come to me. Some are more fleshed out than others. As I write, I may rearrange the chapters to better suit the flow. Since I fully allow my characters to direct the story, I have to be flexible to changing things up when necessary. While constructing a story, I turn my outline into the best concordance/resource. As characters take shape and reveal their names, descriptions, backstory, I add that to whatever chapter of my outline it belongs in. As a new place is added, that goes into the concordance as well. Then when I need to recall something it’s so simple to find and know exactly what chapter that happened in. As I complete a chapter, I just strikethrough the chapter and number. That way I know it’s complete and can still see my notes. Also, when a fully completed chapter needs to be moved to another section of the story, I can easily see it’s done if I work up to it.

I actually go so far as to put Chapter One, insert page, Chapter Two, and so on when I begin a new story and set up my formatting. Not often, but at times, I may see a chapter so clearly that I jump ahead to that and blend it once the surrounding chapters are completed. Working this way, I keep focused on driven to where the story is going without being too rigid. I highly recommend outlining.

I have a full-time day job. My daughter and three young granddaughters live with me. I share parental responsibilities for the girls with my daughter. They are home schooled and I’m the Math teacher. I co-own my own publishing company with my fiancé too. So, to say I have little time to write, which is my passion, is an understatement. I have to fit minutes in throughout my day to get more of my story down. By keeping an outline/concordance, I can do that without blocking hours at a time to accomplish chapters all at once. It’s important to write daily, even if it’s just ten minutes. 

I know someday, this too shall pass. I’ll be glad I disciplined myself to write in this way. Just imagine the number of novels I’ll be able to accomplish then!

Dianne Hartsock - Author of M/M Erotic Romance, Paranormal/Suspense, Fantasy Adventure and anything else that comes to mind...
Like any artist, each writer has their own unique writing process. For me, it could be a strain of music, a laugh heard from across the room, a snippet of conversation, almost anything can give me that spark of inspiration for a story. I’m usually working on another project, so I start to plot out the new story in my head, though it might be months before I put anything down on paper. I’m also a visual person, and will make a Pinterest Board and start adding character and atmosphere pictures that mirror what I have in mind. 

Once I start writing, I’m a linear writer, meaning I need to make each scene as perfect as possible, capture the emotion I’m working for, before I can move on to the next one, each scene building on the one before, leading to whatever dramatic conclusion I have in store for my guys. Yes, I do like to make them suffer. But you can be assured all my stories have a happy ending. 

Amazon Author Page:

Doc Krinberg - Author, Doctor of Education
I rolled this around in my head about the process and remembered an old stand-up routine these ancient comics did where one was the greatest comedian in the world being interviewed.  The straight man asked the greatest comic ever ‘to what do you owe your success? And in the middle of asking the question the greatest comic interrupted with ‘timing.’ The joke being he had none. I feel it’s the exact thing I can point to because if anything about process, it’s timing.

            There are in writing many starts & stops. We venture down one road and find we’re on another and then something comes up and once again we’re swept away. For me, with kids, an active wife in the military and my own career teaching, finding the time is the major part of getting started and staying started. Once that timing is established, the rest is like a cat navigating a wrought iron grated fence; once your head is through the body follows.

            I write contemporary fiction. I have lived since the 50’s so I confine myself to places and dates I am familiar with. I admire people who can sift through minute details in history and build a frame around it. I can’t. I don’t wish to. My characters exist in the now and surrounded by things that identify their time in space; popular songs, consumables, events and clothing. They say write what you know, and I agree.

            The two novels I have out deal with people who are damaged either in relationships or their professions while trying to figure it out how to live in that time and space. Music helps. I use Youtube to skip around and add a background soundtrack to the time and mood of the writing. Bob Dylan from ‘65’-’67 is employed a lot as are many different artists from the 60’s and 70’s. The music may not reflect exactly what the action is but it helps me stay fresh in that time and remember more things. It’s as if the music is a key and opens my memory, locked up and dusty, to a new day.

            I have learned from reading others’ comments in places like LinkedIn that they are subject matter experts in regards to writing (most are self-published) and they take umbrage when told everybody is different and has their own style. These were the kids who made the rules when you played and if they didn’t like it took their balls and went home. This works for me, what I have illustrated. And maybe only me. But when I can master my starting point, and know I have the timing right I can work tirelessly. I started one book in the 90’s and had to put it aside as we had two kids then. It was only finished last year as I finally had that time. Like Lennon says, life happens when you’re making other plans.

Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/2fBWYOF

Tina Donahue - Amazon and international bestselling novelist in Erotic, Paranormal, Contemporary and Historical Romance  

 Whether I’m writing to category, genre, or an idea simply grabs me, my writing process is pretty much the same. I consider scenarios in my head, almost like a film, of the heroine and hero meeting or interacting. From there I determine their careers, choosing those that readers would find interesting and would provide great conflict for the story. With those pieces in place, I then do my research. 

I’m a plotter, not a pantster. I’ve found that having the major story milestones in place gets me to the finish more quickly. As an example: if you want to drive from California to New York, you can jump in your car and head east. You’ll eventually get there. However, if you map out the route, you’ll get there faster. Research brings up more questions and ideas for me that flesh out the story. 
If I’m stuck on a plot point, the issue usually resolves itself while I’m exercising, driving, hanging with friends, or whatever. For some reason, being engaged in other activities frees the logjam and solutions flow. The most important part of my process is that I don’t give up. I forge ahead until the novel’s finished. Then I revise, revise, revise.

Celia Kennedy - Author of Women's Fiction/RomCom

To be honest, my writing process has evolved enormously over time and I am still trying to decide if that has been a good thing. I have told many people that it literally never occurred to me I couldn’t write a book, and looking back I am sure part of my confidence had to do with the fact that I had no idea how hard it would be to get it published. With time and practice I think some of my effortlessness has been lost, but I have found missing purposefulness.

When I first started writing I would write scene by scene by the seat of my pants, perfecting it before I moved onto the next. This would probably be a good time to interject that I am a freakishly visual person. I get images in my head and I write them, so in a way it is the reverse of screenwriting. I see, then write. Consequently, my concept must be fairly developed and I have to keep myself on track. However, I let myself “free-write” because I believe that the unconscious mind takes over when you get deep into your writing process, and that is where the magic lies – the magical sentences, the emotional scenes, the barbs and banter, the feel of lingering lips unwilling to part.

When I wrote my first book, Prosecco & Paparazzi, I would begin each writing session by editing an arbitrary number of pages I had written the previous day. At the time I had two young children at home and I wrote in the kitchen amongst the mayhem. My writing time was interrupted and chaotic, and to some extent I think it added to the fast pace of the book. By the time I wrote my second book, Venus Rising, I had taken some writing courses, worked with editors and beta-readers, and so I approached the book very differently. I still had the reverse screenwriting experience happening, but I wrote it from beginning to end without editing along the way. The result was that there were many more inconsistencies in the book when I read it the first time from beginning to end and the revisions were painful.

I should throw in that I do a ton of research. No restaurant, road, park, shop, outfit, song, or car goes unknown. I don’t make that stuff up. So, mid-sentence I might have to stop and search, “most popular family car England 1999,” and decide whether I want it to be white or grey. I generally go with white since that is my favorite color for a car. It boggles even my mind why this is necessary. How is it that I can come up with a story concept, create fictional characters, imagine a whole life for them – from conversations to sexual preferences – but I cannot let their car be some fictional machine?

Since I started writing full-time my writing process has become a little more informed. I now have one notebook just for story ideas (which I immediately start creating Pinterest Boards for). Ideas generally come from real life, but my goal is to make it unique. For example, I am currently writing a book where two lovers from the past meet again. Given this is not a new idea all by itself, I spend time journaling, diagramming, and talking to people about how can I make my version as interesting as possible. Ultimately, I think all authors do this. Like fashion which is reinvented in new ways with new material, authors take ideas and spin their voice and experiences into the subject matter to create something that is fresh (hopefully). I have a notebook for each book I am working on. I literally write these. I find pen to paper a very creative process. I write backstories for each character, I write outlines of possible interactions/interconnections, I write why they do or don’t work, I write notes about where research needs to be done, and get started.

Once I am into the writing process on my computer I type notes about where to go back and plug holes. This goes back to the visualization and unconscious mind. I think while I am literally writing I am more purposeful, less relaxed. When I write on the computer, I relax, and stuff roles out of my imagination that I never considered but is good, and needs contemplation and refinement.

This process happens however many times it needs to or I can stand. Generally, I would say I write ten revisions. Somewhere around revision six I give the book to beta readers and use their feedback (or not) in the following revisions. Once my editor gets a hold of it, we might go through two or three more revisions.

All the while this is happening, I try to keep to a schedule. I still have kids who need me, I still have other responsibilities. I like to get in at least five hours of writing per day. More if possible. I generally write from 8am to 1pm, then go to the gym (cause by then, my bum is numb), and then when I get home, my kids are there, we hang out, I cook dinner, and then if the stars align, I might get another hour or two of writing time in before bed. Now that my children are teens and busy, I write on weekends too – often with fewer interruptions.

Thanks so much for following Marie Lavender on her epic journey as author, blogger, and all-around lovely lady. I’m a huge fan of hers. Thanks, Marie, for including me.

Amazon Author Page: 


Mark H. Newhouse - Author of multi-award winning Welcome to Monstrovia and The Case of the Disastrous Dragon

 Monsters can strike at any time. So do ideas for my stories. As a child, I ate up every Sherlock Holmes, Perry Mason and Edgar Allen Poe story I could find so it’s natural I’d love writing mysteries, but ideas can be wily prey so you need to catch them before they get away.  
Ideas usually attack just before I wake up. But sneaky devils, almost anything can hide an idea. A newspaper story about an elderly woman forced from her home by a city government triggered The Case of the Disastrous Dragon. With the magic of imagination, I turned the old lady into a fire-breathing dragon, forced to leave his ancestral home. The humorous plot introduces children to the life of lawyers through the eyes of Brodie, a boy whose divorced parents sent him to live with his uncle, a lawyer in Monstrovia, where anything can happen. And it does.    
Ideas fly away, like butterflies, so I hop onto my trusty computer, (the one with worn-out letters), and stomp on the keys for several hours straight. Once the entire draft is done, I take plenty of time to edit, re-edit, and re-re-edit. I also share it with critique groups and early readers.
With mysteries, I usually think of the ending before I write. Sounds backward, but it gives me a target for the plot. Sometimes that target shifts as the story unfolds, but a good solution makes it easier to set up the clues. In Welcome to Monstrovia, my award-winning first book in the Tales of Monstrovia series, I knew the wacky clue that Brodie discovers to win the court case before I even knew the characters.  

Once I have my target, I create the heroes. I want them to be kids that kids will like, but also unique. Sometimes the names pop up, like Jasper Doofinch, aka Doofinch the Defender. The problem is once I use them, they may be difficult to change. In the Rockhound Files, I looked for other names for my teenage dog detective, but it was as if he was a real being, stubbornly refusing to let me change it. And characters do come to life. Some even try to take over the plot. I control the rascals by setting up a Bio page for them. I jot down individual characteristics around a drawing or newspaper photo, as I write. Remember, my characters are fantasy monsters and brave and resourceful teenagers, both a bit unpredictable so I do have to keep tabs on them. I hope you enjoy my young heroes and thank you for your kind support.

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/markhnewhouse

Carole McKee - Contemporary Romance Author
Well, Marie, I may just be the most scatter-brained, disorganized writer you know. If I have a writing process, I haven’t figured it out yet. Seriously. You’ve heard the expression, “when the spirit moves me.” Right? Well, that’s my mantra. I think. Or not.

My day starts with a shower, then breakfast, then house-cleaning. Or not. Depends on whether I feel like it. Then I answer emails, take a couple of surveys, and check out Facebook…sometimes…most of the time…always.

After that, I play a couple of computer games. While I’m playing, my mind drifts to my current WIP novel. The games put me in the mood to write, or they don’t. If they do, I go to MS Word and read over the last chapter that I wrote, and begin to write again. More than once, I will just not write anything, but instead, I’ll read the entire WIP to see how it flows so far. I’ll do this at least four times with any book I write. When I’m “proofreading” I make changes, but I mainly do this so I’m being consistence with the facts of the story. When I decide the book is done, I read it all again. Then I send it to my editor. When it comes back, I make the changes, and read it again.

I believe most of my stories are character-based. I always develop the main characters before I develop a story. And I love dropping characters from prior books into the stories of new books. If a detective is the main character in one book, he arrives on the scene in another book. That’s because I love my characters. I gave birth to them, and so I don’t want to let them go. 

I’ve noticed something about my stories that I actually didn’t plan, but just happens: There is an animal in every story. A dog, or a cat, or a horse, and even cows and chickens manage to work their way into my books. 

Well that’s about all I can add. What do you think? Too much time alone?

Amazon Author Page: 

Isobelle Cate - Paranormal and Contemporary Romance Author dabbling occasionally in the Historical Fiction genre...

So what does my writing process look like? It looks like this…

My desk…well the dining table is messy with all of my stuff. :) 

To the left are my notebooks that have the plots, which by the way can change midway when the pantser in me takes over. I have my music thus the earphones. I lurve Imagine Dragons, Nickelback and The Script. I think they are some of the more intelligent bands I’ve listened to. They are wordsmiths themselves so that’s inspiring! The day I took this photo, I had a glass of Apothic Red. It’s the only red wine that agrees with me, though I had coffee earlier. I can’t do without coffee. Again on this particular day, I decided to take a break by painting my nails. Ha! Sometimes when the scene is too intense I just stop writing. Why? Because my fingers can’t type or write as quickly as my mind wants it to, so I need to slow down. You’d have think I’d keep on writing. Sometimes I do, other times I don’t. On occasion, when a thought pops up that will help with my writing, I jot it down. A quote, something I heard in the news, how the day looks like outside. It can be anything.

Because anything and everything is an inspiration. 

What about quirks? Hmm…okay here goes…

Pens: A Cross pen, one which I bought as a gift to myself. I finished my first manuscript writing longhand with a Cross pen. Call me superstitious. Ha!  

Coffee mugs: I have a fave mug. It was a Starbuck mug I bought a long time ago that said “Edinburgh”. As readers of my books know, I love Scotland. But my heart belongs to Manchester so I have that mug too. When I use those mugs, the ideas flow. 

Thank you so much, Marie, for having me once more. :)

Amazon Author Page:  Author.to/ICatePage

Belinda Y. Hughes - Author, Blogger, Editor, Proofreader, Reviewer and Unit Study Developer
My most recent project was my first literature-based unit study. A Baton Rouge homeschooling mom friend, the Rev. Jan Floyd, suggested I try my hand at it. Before I realized what was happening, I had chosen my initial series (Halcyone Space by LJ Cohen), researched the market, confirmed an underserved niche (LGBT unit studies) that the series and I were well suited for, and everything fell into place from there, with a few learning curve glitches in the publishing-marketing phase. 

Since the first book, DERELICT, is an absolute favorite of mine, it was a pleasure to re-read it, this time extracting the vocabulary and summaries, chapter by chapter. Then I put on my teacher hat, scouring the web for interactive resources to bring the book to life in fun and meaningful ways with useful information. Jan had also shared with me homeschooling parents’ common desire for unit studies to lead kids to think and encourage reluctant readers and writers. I matched activities and questions to chapter content, pared the vocabulary to about twenty words each, cleaned it all up and added a letter to parents and students as the foreword. Then, I did something different.

Instead of just plastering my own cover design on the unit study and publishing, as some developers and educators do under the umbrella of “educational purposes,” I approached the author. Not only is she a fun-loving indie author colleague, she takes the craft of writing and the business of book marketing very seriously. Also, having observed her process via social media, I knew she had paid good money for the cover art. Plus, the unit study technically being a derivative and variation of her work, I felt it was the right thing to do. So I contacted Lisa with the completed unit study, featuring her book’s cover art below my unit study header, and asked for her permission to go ahead with publication. She was astonished, honored and thrilled, all at once! Bonus: she granted me exclusive rights to continue developing unit studies on this series!

Amazon Author Page:

Mika Jolie - Author of Women's Fiction and Contemporary Romance
  “What’s in a name?” Shakespeare asked in Romeo and Juliet. “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.”

The title of the book is essential. The process of naming a novel is painstaking, agonizing, delicate. A perfect example is when I was writing Tattooed Hearts. I had a pad filled with notes on my expanding story: character histories, timelines, plotlines—plus at least two sheets of possible titles. At least two pages were cramped with a dozen possibilities. As the novel developed, several contenders were eliminated, and stronger ones thrusted themselves forward. In the end, it came down between Away We Stay and Tattooed Hearts.

Away We Stay was a strong competitor, Claire and Forrest’s desire to stay away from each other. However, there was something about Tattooed Hearts that resonated with me, with both protagonists. The staining of their youth, the marking they’ve left on each other’s hearts.

Because my two protagonists were forever linked, an unending continuum, no other title felt right. When people read my novels, I hope some might contemplate their names, perhaps discuss them with friends, possibly perceive extra shades of meaning because each one captures the meaning of the story and all the stages that the key characters confront throughout the novel.

Grey Francis - Paranormal Erotic Romance Novelist

There’s no question I’m a plotter. Once a story begins to form in my head, I write a detailed outline. As characters begin to come to life, I include extensive dialogue so I don’t forget it. My outlines are like mini books, sometimes as long as 80 pages. Writing the book is about fleshing out and expanding my outline. However, there’s also an organic aspect to my process.

As I write, new scenes and characters take me in unexpected directions. For instance, when I started book one in my Into the Dark Wood Series, Bound to a Vampire, Alastair was a secondary character, only meant to appear periodically throughout the book. However, once I started to write him, I fell in love and he became one of my main characters. That’s one of the hazards about writing romance: you fall in love. It also means you’re doing something right.

I do my best thinking in the car, listening to music. I will often have to pull over so I can write down ideas and dialogue. The same holds true for cooking. I have no idea why. Either way, my characters have loud voices and they talk to me at the least convenient times! However, despite where my inspiration comes from, I choose to do my actual writing and creating at an antique writing table in my bedroom in front of window looking out into my garden, usually with at least one or two cats sitting on the desk or on my lap.


Marie Lavender - Cover Designer, Blogger and Multi-genre Author
I am a hybrid, both pantster and plotter. I’m often inspired by life experiences or something I’ve read or seen on the news. At other times, ideas come to me out of the jumble of chaos that is my brain, or perhaps from the mysterious phenomenon that is the muse. 

In the beginning, I let scenes drift randomly to me, seemingly out of order at times. When I’m ready to focus on a project, I try to get organized and string a plot out of these scenes. From that point, I can decide what I should write next. Of course, research is a big part of writing as well. With novels that require more detail or heavy research, I do hard plotting with outlines and take a lot of notes. Part of my research process entails compiling pictures that remind me of the characters, plot elements or the setting. I am a very visual writer. I often need to see something or have a true grasp of it in my imagination in order to describe it. Of course, I always keep an open mind for when a character knows better than I do where the story should go. 

A majority of my work is done in my bedroom, on the sofa while relaxing or when I’m at the dining room table. I can also write outside if the situation is ideal enough. I usually need peace and quiet when I’m writing, though some types of music can inspire creativity. I also spend some time composing on my desktop computer or laptop. 

I absolutely love being in that moment when the scene is flowing naturally, when the characters are talking to me and the plot is playing out on the page. It’s the greatest freedom I’ve ever experienced, and I am so fortunate to be the conduit through which those characters’ stories are told.


Cleo Scornavacca - Adult Romance Author

The question of my writing process is probably the single most asked question that I get at any author spotlight, interview or takeover. It should be simple, right?


When I made my writing official, the premise and the story of my first series, Miss Identity, was already written, but because it was started in part years before; I had to not only re-write it for current times (cell phones, text messages etc), I also had to re-arrange it and re-characterize the main players in the story, due to their strengths and weaknesses.

At first, I wrote by the seat of my pants; thereby I was a Pantser, but as the books moved forward, I began the infamous outline, and now I was considered a Plotter.

I think I'd have to say after finishing my first series, I’m a little bit of both….Pantser and Plotter. The best of both worlds.

Many times a story can just come out of nowhere for me. I see something; hear something like a song, that has nothing to do with writing and “POOF”…an idea emerges. Now, I will say I always carry a journal with me for just those times…and I'll sit down immediately no matter where I am ( I've been known to pull over in traffic to take down a few notes), so as not to forget something that could be important later. As I stated, I also use it for songs that I hear, that may or may not be for a specific book, but could be for a specific mood or a future story.

Anyway….back to the process.

Once I have an idea I do write an outline/timeline which involves character names, ages, birth dates and the relationship to other characters…….these are my basic plotting tendencies.

Yet, when I write, it’s usually the character's voices that take me through the story. Even if I want to go in one direction, many times they steer me off that course and for the most part, they are absolutely right.

The one thing I’ve learned is that the characters tell me their story, not the other way around. I’m just the vehicle.

I actually learned this the hard way, after scrapping the third book in my series twice. I was adamant, but their voices thankfully won out and the book finally received it’s HEA.

I remember watching a clip of Sylvia Day (one of my favorites), where she gave new authors advice. She said, "You have to get out of your own way. Let the characters tell the story. When you force it, that’s called author intrusion; don’t do it." She couldn’t have been more correct.


Once the idea, the notes, and the formal outline are done, this is where I fly or type without a formal thought in my head.  Much of the time, I prefer little narrative in the novel. I like more conversations from the characters, so I try my best to write that way.

I always make sure that no matter what I'm doing with the current WIP, I write every day, even if it's just a chapter or only a paragraph…I just write. If the current book is not speaking to me, then I work on something else that is.

Just write…..is good advice, just write every day…even better.

Once the book is almost complete, I contact my editor and my cover artist, so they are prepared to put me in their schedules.

I try to write early in the morning hours before work and late at night after everyone has gone to sleep. Yes, you’re thinking I barely sleep and you would be right….sleep is not a word in my vocabulary, but it's worth it. I’m sure most authors don’t sleep, so I’m in good company.

During those times, my drink of choice is coffee……light and sweet. I need the energy from the caffeine and the sugar.  When I write on the weekends, I don't skip meals, but they are usually something quick to cook. My go-to food is chicken tenders; much to the dismay of my family. I think after three years of writing professionally, they’ve seen enough chicken tenders to last them a lifetime. This is why recently I invested in a crock pot. Now I can cook all day without lifting a finger….well, except when hitting the keys of my computer.

Finally, when I hit THE END, I read and re-read and then it’s off to the editor and the betas, to read and read and read.

With all of this going on, I’m also working at my day job, taking care of my family and marketing the books that are out in the book world, as well as preparing the new book for the readers.

Now…. after a manuscript comes back to me from my editor and betas, with their advice and edits, I read and add more…..yes, add more, I have a tendency to do that.

The completed manuscript is sent to my formatter and then off to be published.

Once it goes live, that's when the fun begins……..even when you hit publish, you're never truly finished.

You’re always on to your next story.

Jim Cronin - Science Edutainer and Author of Science Fiction

What does my writing process look like?

Interesting question. I suppose I start by generating a general outline of the overall story I have in mind. Who the main characters will be, what is their objective, who or what will oppose them… that sort of information. This is when it gets kind of strange. As I sit down to write, I decide what this particular chapter will be about, but then I start to focus on my characters. I ask them what they would do in this situation. Then I start to write. 

In almost every case, whatever I thought I had in mind for the chapter is changed by the characters in my head. As I am writing new ideas and solutions pop into my mind and before I know it, what is on the screen is pretty much nothing like what I had envisioned. It is much better. I guess talking to the voices in my head turned out to be a good thing as an author.

Jill Marie Denton - Contemporary Romance Author

Most of my books began with a thought, a dream or an idea focused around a character. I see the 'person' before the words can come to me, and from there, I work to inject the type of romance that feels natural to that character. I don't let a person's race, socio-economic position or past situations affect that, either. I treat the romance, the proposed relationship, as its own entity, something both protagonist and antagonist have to build like a piece of Ikea furniture.

I have an idea of where the characters will end up but not how they'll get there until words start flowing. I seek wit and anger, heat and chill, denial and admittance on the road there, so the reader's in for a real journey.


Amber Daulton - Blogger and Romance Author
Hi, all! My name is Amber Daulton. I'm an author and blogger, and I write in several romance sub-genres. Contemporary, Historical, Western, Time-travel, Sweet, Erotic, you name it! 

Most of my stories start out as daydreams or actual dreams. I have a very active imagination! When I can’t stop thinking about a plot or an idea, I write it all down—either on paper or on the computer, doesn’t matter—and give my mind a chance to relax.

I definitely like to plot a story from beginning to end, chapter by chapter, before I start writing it. Sometimes I follow my notes to the word. Other times the characters take over and steer my story in another direction. 

I plot really well when driving alone. I talk to myself (or rather I have two-sided conversations and debates like a crazy person) without my husband or cats walking in on me and giving me funny looks. I usually edit as I write but lately I’m trying to just write the whole book first and edit it later. In doing so, I realized it takes me longer to finish the book if I edit as I go along than if I just write it all at one time. My desk is awesome! I painted strands of ivy and flowers on the legs, the base color is country white, and it's very whimsical. 

I write as often as I can and I definitely wouldn't be me without a pen and paper in my hand, or a computer at my disposal. 

Laura Vosika - Author

My writing process, when speaking of the big picture, is generally to write a book from start to finish, go back to the beginning and start editing--which in the first several drafts invariably involves realizing there are scenes missing to explain how someone got from one point to another. These get filled in, as does any layering of character to add depth, or description, or any necessary explanation that suddenly jumps out to me as lacking.

When it comes to the individual scenes, I usually plunge in headlong, to write what I feel, and as I visualize it, to stop and research as needed. How far are they riding? What town might they stop in? I stop and research it, pulling up Google maps and information on the towns in between their starting and ending points. I realize I don't know what the room they're in looks like? I go online and look up amazing indoor pools and begin to create the setting. I double check the floor plans online for the house Shawn lives in (yes, it's based on a real house) and figure out how the amazing indoor pool I chose is going to be added onto his house when he builds it. 

One thing I've really struggled with over the years is distractibility. Years ago when all my kids were home, I actually seemed to focus quite well with lots of action and sound around me. These days, they're all at school, and I've never done well at sitting still. I have a portable 'exercise bike' below my chair at the kitchen counter – this is just a short frame with bicycle pedals on it. I've found that as long I'm 'in motion' – my legs going on the exercise bike, I am much better able to focus.

I try to take breaks, but for me, once the focus comes, it's hard to stop.

Miles Rothwell - Author 

My process (if that’s what you can call it) has changed over the years. When I started it was very spontaneous, stream of consciousness and surreal as this is what I enjoyed. I’ve always liked Monty Python, Surreal films, Zappa and Dali. Creative people who satirized and glorified at the same time. Our minds see things as a whole and the Universe is more than one dimensional so artistic endeavor at its best should always try to push and challenge what has gone on before.

As I have written more books I have become more involved in editing and refining my work and it is no surprise my early books were generally longer and very descriptive. The later novels are shorter and more direct.

I find inspiration in the strangest ways; my first book, Nightwatchers, came from a dream whereas Genius Remote came from watching a Brian Cox documentary.

I am interested in where humanity is going so my process is more attuned and focused on directly looking at the issues we face today – all of which can be related back to people’s minds becoming attached and focused on their wants and desires. Greed and poverty are direct symptoms of ourselves; we create these issues, they are not forced upon us, so my writing is directed at highlighting the need for mindfulness, contemplation and silence.

Margaret Egrot - Author

When I first decided to be an ‘author’, I went up to my ‘study’ and wrote 1,000 words every day for three months. I completed a novel that I have never had the heart to re-read, edit, or attempt to get published. But I had proved to myself that I had the stamina to write a novel (something I’d had grave doubts about till then).

I subsequently embarked on a correspondence writing course, attempting all the non-fiction and fiction exercises and fitting it round a job that involved quite a bit of travel and living out of a suitcase in various badly lit hotel rooms. During this time I wrote a number of short stories and one act plays, and was pleased to pick up a few prizes along the way.

I have learned that planning helps, but can be stifling if stuck with rigidly. I will sketch out the scenario for a play, but it ends up as a YA book (And Alex Still Has Acne). A novel for adults about a social worker, only comes to life when the teenage Courtney enters each chapter – so that becomes a YA novel too (Girl Friends). Going the other way, a short poem about a woman’s refusal to cook Christmas dinner became a full length play (Making a Meal of It). 

At the moment I write on my laptop on the settee with the dog alongside. I tend to do revisions, research, blog and update my social media in the morning, and do proper writing in the early evening. Sleeping on what I’ve just written is a good way of working out what needs to be revised, and where to go next, without any conscious effort. I keep a notebook and pencil by the bed.

Amazon Author Page:

Uvi Poznanksy - Award winning, best-selling Author

I strive to make the story as direct and accessible as I can, which I do by using present tense, so you can experience the story moment to moment. Also, I write in the first-person narrative, which makes the story telling an intimate exchange between the character and you. Here is how my writing is described (in a review of Apart From Love) by Dolores Ayotte (a top Amazon reviewer):

“In my opinion, Uvi Poznansky writes like a painter. She starts with a clean canvas and dabs a little paint here and a little paint there as she develops her characters and creates her masterpiece. Her strokes then become broader, more passionate, more vivid and vibrant as she continues to let her characters' stories unfold. She draws you into a deeper level than you might actually want to go as she ignites the fire to your own love, passions, and fears.”

My art and writing are closely coupled. I paint with my pen, and write with my paintbrush.

Also, I avoid big words. I go through what I’ve written and actually count the rhythm of the words. Anything containing three syllables or more is a candidate for replacement, which triggers an immediate search for saying the same thought with a syllable or two. I find that the simpler words are more direct and invariably, they hit home.

The only exception to this self-imposed rule is when a character is overbearingly verbose, which is when I do the reverse rule, to replace simple words with overly complicated expressions.

Branka Čubrilo - Multi-genre Author

My own experiences and experiences of people around me direct me mostly in my writings. I have a good capacity to remember and I do use sketches and vignettes from my life and my travels. Certainly, if I write about some historical events, there is a need for research. In 2002 I obtained a scholarship from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to go to Andalucia, Cadiz, to research historical and cultural settings for my trilogy Spanish Stories. That was the most substantial research that I had enjoyed greatly.

Writing is in my blood, it has never left me: subtle conversations I hear in the rain, the rustling of the leaves, the wind… those subtle whispers took me to the various trips around Europe and led me to various interesting people. The knowledge of languages, my curiosity and adaptability helped to easily penetrate into the cultural settings of Italy, Spain, England and Australia.

Location influences my work absolutely. That’s why writers travel – in search of original characters or plots. In all of my novels (I have written 8 novels, and have published 6 so far) I travel throughout the world. I start my story in a certain location with its cultural and historical settings and I take my characters across Europe, the UK, the USA and Australia. My characters are well-traveled people, always in search of a ‘greener grass’, ‘better opportunity’, ‘bigger love’, or purely more extravagant adventure.

Sometimes my writing is structured and has routine but sometimes it is completely wild, as my inspiration doesn’t come on demand. Often, I get up in the middle of the night urged to ‘jot down just a few sentences’, then it carries on until late afternoon.

Nina Soden - Author

“What does your writing process look like?”

I've been asked this question at every author event I've ever attended and my response often makes people look at me funny. Honestly, I listen to the voices in my head!

Now let me say, I'm not crazy. I know it sounds that way but I'm not. My stories usually start with a single character that came to me either in a dream or as an observation through people watching. Once I've committed to a character, the brainstorming begins. I do my best brainstorming while I'm in the shower or during long drives. I never know where my story is going to go or better yet, where my character is going to take me. Sitting at the computer I focus on the details of the character I've created and let him/her guide the storyline.

I know there are some authors who would scoff at my style and say you have to plot everything out, outline the novel before typing, but for me, it works better to just move through the story as it happens in my head. The best way to describe it is to say this…"I write my stories as if I am watching them happen on the big screen." I think it is because I started as an actress, so I still think in screenplay format. 

Tanya Newman - Author of Romantic Fiction

 I don’t typically have a specific process that I follow when writing, but I do have things that help me along.  Here are some of the things that work best for me:

Music is great for getting me in the mood to write.  I draw a lot of inspiration from songs I randomly hear on the radio and I’ll make a list of ones I like best on my phone.  Then, when I sit down to write, I find them and play them or other songs like them to get me into the frame of mind I need to be in to write and create. 

Having something to eat and/or some coffee is a requirement for me whenever I start to write. I have to have something to occupy my hands or go back to when I’m not writing. That actually frees my mind to think and continue focusing on whatever it is I’m writing. If I don’t have something like that, I can feel ideas stall or fade away. 

I typically like to write earlier in the day. I’m fresher and more motivated during that time of the day. I used to like to write late at night or even wake up in the middle of the night to write, but being a little older, that’s not so much the case. By the time nighttime rolls around, the day catches up with me, and I’m too tired to do anything but collapse.

The chair in our living room is my favorite place to write. I have terrible back pain and so a cushion behind me in that chair is my favorite place because it’s comfortable. I’ll usually have the television on but muted because I like to have a little something in the background going on. Too much silence for me can actually interfere with my thoughts.

Well, that’s what works best for me! All writers are different and what works for one person is not necessarily going to work for another, but one thing I always try to impart to my students is find the time, place and context in which you write best and the ideas are sure to come about. 

Rita Plush - Author, Educator
When folks ask me where I get my ideas, I tell the folks I get them from what I see and what I hear. From someone I might spot on the street, or on a train gently rocking over the subway tracks. The sound of someone’s voice might trigger a long forgotten memory. The odd gesture of a passenger on the bus might one day morph into a character. Characters drive my stories.
In my mind’s eye, I see them. I hear them speak. I know what they’re wearing and where they buy their clothes. I give them little quirks and habits, all the details that make them unique and recognizable so my readers can experience them as I do.
As for plotlines, they often center on families and the relationships within. I’m intrigued with family life and all its messy complications. Its secrets and dramas. Its loving and sometimes mysterious bonds that hold them together. The little missteps that can drive them apart.
The aching need for family is at the core of Feminine Products. Pregnant Rusty Scanlon is a gal with an eye for fashion and a gift for messing up her love life. She loves Walter but worries if he’ll make a good husband and father—her own dad ran out on her when she was 6 years old.  I worried too. But I found the answer. Not with an outline or preconceived plot. But by listening to Rusty and Walter write their story.

Jane Riddell - Author and Editor
I’m a mixture of plotter and panster, predominantly plotter. I devise a chapter table incorporating bullet points of chapters - where and when action takes place, who is involved, and miscellaneous comments. Sometimes my characters go off the main road and I give them free rein for a while before redirecting. I like it when this happens, when they take the initiative.

Being self-published, the editing process is where I become nerdy. The first part involves checking overview things - structural aspects of my novel. Then I tackle line-line-aspects which essentially is about making every word justify its presence on the page. It’s hard work and tedious at times but the reward comes when rereading a paragraph and seeing an improvement. Editing takes infinitely longer than writing and can also include adding or deleting paragraphs.

I love the stage of negotiating with a cover designer. This is when I’m reminded of my fussiness. The original nebulous comment, ‘I’ll leave it to you,’ rapidly changes to, ‘Actually, what I’d like is this kind of background, this style of illustration.’ And when we reach decisions on typeface for book title and author name, suddenly it’s as if my life depends on making good choices.

As for discipline in my writing day, I simply don’t have it. My alarm clock isn’t set for 6 am, if I’m writing at 3 am it’s because I can’t sleep not because I feel under pressure to write. I experience no qualms about taking time off to have lunch with friends, swim or see a movie. I will never write a book a year, nor would I wish to. Writing venues vary: a desk area in the corner of our sitting room where I’m surrounded by mature yuccas and rubber plants, and a lava lamp to distract/inspire me; desk space at a social enterprise where I like the other deskers and the ambience. Sometimes I go to our local café, aptly named Nom de Plume, which is sunny in the summer and cozy in winter, and which serves delicious cheese scones and chocolate cake.  

Finally, there are a few quirky places where I write: I can perch my laptop on the handlebars of my exercise bike and combine a workout with writing. If we’re traveling and it’s dark or the scenery is boring, I’ll sit in the back of the van and edit. 

I would never leave home for even a short journey without taking my laptop.

Marianne Petit – Romance Author
My books are sparked by an idea from TV, or an article, or a conversation and sometime from a dream.

For example, my first book, A Find Through Time, was born when I had a conversation with a friend about a TV documentary. A skull was found at Custer’s battle site. I started writing my second book, Rebecca’s Ghost, after I heard my mother’s friend play her glass armonica. The sound was so different and eerie I could imagine my heroine playing that instrument and all the problems that would arise for her. My latest book, Behind The Mask, was inspired by stories told to me by my family who lived in France during WWII and many scenes actually happened.

Then somehow I also get the title before the story is even started. In fact, I know the title of a future book called Timeless River and I only have the idea for the story.

Another interesting thing that happens before I start, is the ending. I can always picture the ending scene. Now, I know a romance ends with a happy ending, but there are times I know the last line. It’s the middle that is always a challenge.

Sometimes I set up a character chart that helps me know who my characters are. I haven’t done an outline, scene by scene in a long time, but I will tell you that I have pages upon pages of notes. Notes that have landscape images, or historical facts, anything pertinent to the book I am researching. I will jot down lines of dialogue I hear in my head for a scene that isn’t written yet. 

While I am working on a story I may sit at my computer all day and not even realize I, one, didn’t eat, and two, that it got dark out. I don’t feel guilty if I am not writing. As long as I am thinking about the story and those ideas are jotted down, I’m happy.

I am not very organized, I must admit. I am trying a new writing program that lets you organize files, plot lines, etc. and I’ll see how that goes.

Since I mainly write in the historical genre I do a lot of research on the time period I am writing about. I do my research online, thank god for the internet and have a nice library in my office of historical reference books. I will also do my best to travel to the area. Since my first book was a Native American time travel, I went on a Native American weekend where I learned how to build a teepee and sweat lodge. For my second book I flew to Virginia, since that is where the book takes place and yes, I did go to France to the town where my latest book takes place. If you are wondering about my third book, The Amulet Of Darkness, visiting the area would be a little difficult since it is a fantasy!

I find that printing out a chapter and reading the actual paper copy is important for me since I see things that I missed on the computer screen.

I guess I am a purist, I do not head hop. For those of you who don’t know what head-hopping is, it’s jumping in an out of different character’s thoughts in the same scene.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep editing a chapter or you will never finish the book. Editing when a book is finished gives you a better idea of what needs to be added or fixed because you will see the entire picture. I will put the finished book away for a few weeks and then go back and edit it.

Some of my books have been professionally edited, which, if you can afford it, in my opinion, is the best way to go, since you are so familiar with the storyline that it’s easy to overlook misspelled words or missing words, etc.

Being in a critique group is a plus for me; it’s important others grasp what you are trying to get across in your scenes and in your character’s mind. If a scene or dialogue is not clear to them, I will go back and re-evaluate.

I have designed my own covers, but it’s always nice to have someone in the business create one for you.

I also format my own files for both print and e-books.

I guess that about sums up my writing process.  It is not a very structured one, but it works for me.

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Marianne-Petit/e/B002BLOT7G/

Monica DeSimone - Author 

I have always been a character driven writer. My characters often consume me completely until their story is told. They are my friends, my family, often talking non-stop and never letting go until what they have to say is said. Being an English Literature major, I have done all kinds of writing; creative, research, free-form, etc. In all forms of writing I fall back on my characters. Whether I have invented them or am reciting a story that intrigues me, my imagination takes over and the voices start up. 

I have tried to plot and outline my way through a book but I ultimately toss both and write free-form. Although I may have an idea as to where I want the story to go my characters drive the story line. I find that to be more enjoyable for both me as the writer and for the reader. As a reader, I love when I think I know where the story is going and then “Bam” it takes a left turn that surprises me. It’s like “What? Huh? I didn’t see that coming!” Those are the stories that I enjoy the most. 

I try to set specific time aside to write, it doesn’t always happen, however I do try. Working sixty hours a week, maintaining my friendships, going to the gym, and taking care of my three dogs I often get side tracked. I find that a set time helps me focus more. But I do get easily distracted. It also depends on whether the characters I’m writing about are talking to me. However, I have been known to be late for work because one of the characters are talking to me so I pull over on the side of the road and send myself text messages so that I don’t lose what is being said. 

Thanks so much for reading!  

Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/2epiLco

So there you go. I hope we’ve inspired writers in all stages of their careers, perhaps even enlightened our readers in some small way. For isn’t that the goal of writing books as well? To reach people? Hope that our words, and the worlds we’ve created have affected someone?

Take care, everyone. Have a great rest of your November!
Happy upcoming Holidays! And, as always, happy reading! :) 


  1. An introduction to some great new names in the writing field. I enjoyed reading all the posts, and happy to see P.I. Barrington on hand. We know each other from a publisher we're both involved with. Also, I was absolutely fascinated by David M. Mannes' THE TUNGUSKA ENCOUNTER, something I'm definitely going to want to read. So many new books and writers that I need to get to know. Thanks for sharing these interesting writers with us, Marie.

    1. Thanks, Tom! Always a pleasure to work with you! :)

  2. Thanks Marie for having me as one of your guests today!

  3. Bless you, Marie, for including me in such amazing company - and Happy 350th post! :-)

  4. What a wonderful array of writers! Thank you so much Marie for inviting me to meet all of them.

  5. This is so fascinating. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

  6. Happy 350th! Thanks for including me in your post!

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