I was recently invited by Lisa of Cornerstone Home Learning and Mirkwood Reflections to share my writing process via a blog tour, which is a relay that involves answering four questions and then introducing fellow authors who will continue the blog tour the following week(s). Lisa was assigned to my (virtual) camp cabin at Camp NaNoWriMo (a bit more on that below) this spring and when I learned she also homeschools, I tracked her down on Twitter to further cement our connection.
What am I working on?
I am currently working on a novel about three teen girls who are victims of trafficking. I am actually about 5000 words away from finishing the first draft, which is exciting and, quite honestly, a relief. Starting a book is great; the words usually come easily and the page count adds up fast. And then you find yourself blindfolded in the murky middle and you despair of ever reaching the end. But eventually you cross over the hump and sail toward the end. And that is about where I am right now, which feels pretty good. Except the book is awful! I am not just being modest. I think I have about 5 POVs (although there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that) and a lot of vague areas that need research. But this is why rewrites exist – I just hope it transforms itself in fewer than … I don’t know… ten rewrites.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My writing would not be categorized as Christian fiction at all, but as a Christian I hope to imbue within my books something that either speaks to the Christian readers or that leads a non-Christian one step closer to becoming a Christian. For example, my first book Trespassers takes its title from the Lord’s Prayer: “forgive us our trespasses…” and there are characters in the book who are Christians or who become a Christian, but they are not perfect Christians. There is cursing and abuse and poor choices… And in my current work-in-progress one of the teenaged girls is a Christian, but like most teenagers doesn’t really understand what that means. And one of the traffickers is also a Christian, but he’s certainly not such a great guy. You’ll have to wait to find out what happens to them and what part, if any, their faith plays in their story. Both books are not books one would associate with Christian writers, but I hope both Christians and non-Christians enjoy them.
Why do I write what I do?
I never set out to write about social injustice, or about children who are wrongly treated, but this will be my second book dealing with those themes. My novel, Trespassers, deals with a woman who was abused as a child. We have a responsibility as a society to care for our future generations. I’m not out there carrying banners or raising money or signing petitions, but I am writing books which, if they speak to just one person, provide even the slightest change in their thought process, or create just a pinprick in their prejudice, then I will have succeeded.
And if I haven’t succeeded, if people don’t like the books, that’s okay, too, because for both Trespassers and this current book (when it eventually gets published) I have selected compatible and worthwhile charities that I am donating money to from the sale of each book. For Trespassers, it is Big Oak Ranch, which cares for abused and neglected children here in Alabama. It is a way for me to give back. And it helps me push past the paralyzing fear of my books not pleasing everyone, because, of course, it is just about impossible for everyone to like the same book. I often joke with friends that people don’t have to read my book, they just have to buy it! (But if everyone loved it, well, I’d be pretty happy with that!)
How does my writing process work?
I begin a book by being lost in my head for a while, thinking about the characters and who they are, the path they’re on, the path they might take. And then once my brain starts to get too crowded with all the details, I begin to jot down notes, ideas, scenes, actual dialogue. I try to do this all in one designated notebook, but usually I also have a collection of scraps of paper, assorted documents saved on my hard drive, and articles and webpages bookmarked on my computer. Eventually I get to a point where I am anxious to get writing and then I start. For this particular book, I wrote the first 50,000 words in November during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and then in April I wrote another 20,000 as a participant of Camp NaNoWriMo. I admit I am an expert in procrastination so these NaNoWriMo challenges have benefited my word count greatly!
Be sure to check out next week’s authors. They are all pretty amazing women! Here is a little bit about them:
Roberta Dolan As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Roberta Dolan has made it her mission to enlighten others about the importance of ending the silence and of the need for tangible strategies to support healing. Roberta is a former special-education teacher with a master’s degree in counseling. The desire to educate remains at her core as she conducts seminars for parents and childcare providers on preventing childhood sexual abuse. Roberta’s first book, Say It Out Loud: Revealing and Healing the Scars of Sexual Abuse, will be released by She Writes Press October 7, 2014. When they are not at home in Connecticut, Roberta and her husband, Tim, enjoying traveling the country in their RV.
Cheryl Rice is a professional speaker and coach. Her company, Your Voice Your Vision partners with women striving to be leaders in their own lives. When Cheryl decided to take the advice she so passionately offers her clients, she emerged with a memoir, Where Have I Been All My Life?: A Journey Toward Love and Wholeness. Her essays have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Cactus Heart, and Cure Magazine. Cheryl has M.S. degrees in both Psychological Services and Organization Development, and lives with her family outside of Philadelphia. Find Cheryl online at www.YourVoiceYourVision.com.
Sande Boritz Berger A former teacher, turned video producer, Sande Boritz Berger received an M.F.A. in Writing and Literature from Stony Brook Southampton College where she received the Deborah Hecht Memorial prize for fiction. Her debut novel, The Sweetness: A Novel, which will be published in September by She Writes Press was a semi-finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel awards. Sande lives with her husband in Manhattan and Bridgehampton, NY.
And for the week of June 9th:
Carole Bumpus, a retired family therapist, writes a food/travel blog taken from excerpts of her interviews with French and Italian families, known as Savoring the Olde Ways. She has been published in both the U.S. and in France for her articles on food and as a ‘war correspondent’ when she traveled with U.S. World War II veterans for the 60th anniversary of the Allies Southern Landing in Provençe. She is repeating this trip on August 15th, 2014, for the 70th anniversary. She has been published in three short-story anthologies: Fault Zone: Words from the Edge, Fault Zone: Stepping up to the Edge and Fault Zone: Over the Edge. A Cup of Redemption, her first literary novel, is loosely based on the gripping excavation of an elderly French woman’s life and the honoring of her final request: to find a father she never knew lost during WWI.