blog tag post: writing process

There’s a blog tag going around the author community exploring everyone’s writing process. I’m sharing mine on the Firebirds group blog, but I thought I’d also post it here for interested readers. A look behind the curtain, if you will.

I was tagged by the awesome Sonali Dev, my Golden Heart 2013 sister (her debut A Bollywood Affair comes out in October) and I’ll tag a couple of writer friends at the bottom of this post.

On to the questions:

1)     What am I working on?

I’m finishing up pre-publication prep on one book, doing my agent’s notes on another, and developing a third. Yes, my head is exploding. But I suspect this is the way of the writer and I have to suck it up and get used to it. Multitasking, I am learning your secrets, yes I am.

First book:

Call Me Saffron, my sexy new contemporary romance. Here’s the blurb:

Samantha Lilly is in a long-term relationship… with her vibrator. She can’t handle a serious commitment, but casual affairs don’t do it for her either. So she’s resigned herself to being alone.

Her call-girl roommate Jeanine has other ideas. She persuades Samantha to take her place for one night with Dylan Krause, an incredibly hot prospective client recovering from a messy divorce. She says it’ll be good for Samantha to be with someone without her usual expectations and complications.

It’s more than good. It’s intense, extraordinary, and emotionally devastating. During their long, intimate night together, they bare, not just their bodies, but their souls.

But after that one amazing night, Samantha flees. This feels too real for her. And yet she can’t forget Dylan, even though she tries.

Then one day, he walks into the architecture firm where she works. Seeing him threatens to destroy the careful walls she’s built around her heart—and this time she can’t run away.

It goes on sale June 9th. It’s Book One in the Greenpoint Pleasures series, which is closely linked with my Greenpoint Artists series, with lots of cross-over characters.

So here’s where I am with it:

Copy edits and proofreading: check. Ebook formatting: check. (Well, mostly.) Cover: check. Book up on NetGalley for reviewers: check.

To do: write acknowledgements page. Format for print. Bite nails to the quick in anticipation of launch. Hold breath in anticipation of same. Release breath, realizing that two weeks is too long to hold my breath. Bite nails some more.

Second book:

My contemporary YA. My fabulous agent has given me excellent notes, the kind that deepen secondary relationships and add richness to the world. The kind that don’t require a major overhaul, but that do require just the right words in the just right spots. In other words, the kind that make me second and third guess myself. But I’m making progress, and this is good.

Third book:

The next one in my Greenpoint Artists series, the sequel to Hold Me Tight. It’s tentatively titled Dream of Me, and is about Georgette, who holds her emotions at bay by psychoanalyzing them to death, and the man she’s only seen in dreams—or so she thinks. It’s not a paranormal story. It may or may not involve a smidge of amnesia. And that’s all I’m saying right now.

The sequel to Call Me Saffron is calling my name, but I’m plugging my ears and ignoring its siren call.


2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ll only speak for the romance novels here, not the YA.

I write contemporary romance. It’s a hot subgenre right now, but generally only in two arenas: small town and erotic romance. In the post-Fifty Shades world, the latter usually involves billionaires and BDSM. I have no objection to either type of novel, believe me, but that’s not what I write. I’m a city kid. I grew up in New York City, went to college in Boston, and have lived as an adult in both Los Angeles and New York. I could write a country-set book, sure, and maybe someday I will, but I love my cities. I think the close-knit community exists here, as does local color. And it’s what I know well.

I also tend to write prickly or difficult women who guard their hearts, paired with not-alpha-but-not-beta-either guys who often have a strong nurturing streak. Is that unusual? I’m not sure, but maybe?


3)     Why do I write what I do?

I love reading all kinds of romance—and all kinds of books, for that matter. But you have to adore research to write historical, and you have to excel at world-building to write paranormal, and you have to love kink to write erotic. I like writing books that take place here and now, with real-world problems, but with a fairy-tale sense of slightly heightened reality.


4)     How does my writing process work?

I’ve always thought that writing fiction is a balance between left brain and right brain. This pretty much defines my process. I’m not exactly a plotter and I’m not exactly a pantser. I’ve written extensively detailed synopses (on What’s Yours is Mine), but I’ve also written out just a few pages of thoughts before starting (on Draw Me In).

In general, I get the kernel of the conflict or inciting incident and open up a brainstorming file on my computer, where I ask myself tons of questions about plot, character and conflict. When I start thinking about it while taking a shower and riding the subway and making dinner, I know I’m onto something. When I’m too impatient to wait any longer, I start writing the manuscript, which carries with it all those writerly why-did-I-think-this-was-a-good-idea moments interspersed with spots of pure joy. Then one day, I write the last words and close the file.

And then open it again for the first revision.

Then I give it to my spouse, who reads it and gives me feedback. He’s a fabulous first reader, because he works in TV editing and is aware of emotional throughlines and is able to analyze when he’s falling out of the story and why.

Then I rewrite the sucker.

Then I give to a few trusted beta readers who are also writers.

Then I do their feedback.

Then I give it to my editor, who is my copy editor, but also has a really good eye for when something is going to feel off to a romance reader.

Then I do her notes.

Then she gives it to the proofreader.

Then I do those edits.

Then I’m done and the characters go off and live their lives. And I miss them but wish them well in their new life together.

Then I open up a new brainstorming file and do it all over again.


I’m tagging two of my favorite writers:

Firebird/Lucky 13 sister—and six-time Golden Heart finalist—romantic suspense writer Sharon Wray, whose blog posts always touch my heart and make me cry in the best way.

And Firebird sister, historical romance writer Kathleen Bittner Roth, who has such maturity and insight, she too makes me choke up, and who has sixteen kajillion lovely historicals coming out this year (or possibly just six) from Kensington and Entangled, with the first to be released on June 9th.

Look for their posts next week on their blogs.

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