…from my friend, author Sandra Moran, who’s tagged me to contribute a blog post on My Writing Process as part of the blog tour aptly called #mywritingprocess.  If you don’t know Sandra’s books, you should.  She’s the author of the acclaimed novel, Letters Never Sent, and her newest book, Nudge.  Finish reading this post and then go buy them!

So what I’ve been tasked to do is to answer four questions.  Here we go—

1.  What am I working on?

Two things.  First, I just finished the initial draft of my latest novel, Love Is Enough.  This is the second book in the series that began with Exception to the RuleLove Is Enough takes place in 2010 and focuses on the story of Angie Antonelli as she begins a new relationship just when she is facing a difficult and perplexing campaign for her second term in Congress.  Right now the book is with beta readers, so I’m anxiously (and eagerly) awaiting the first round of feedback.  My plan is to have the book out this summer.

While the beta readers do their thing with Love Is Enough, I am working on a short story that will be submitted for inclusion in an anthology about holiday (Christmas/Chanukah) stories begin published by Ylva Publishing.  The story, as yet untitled, will be about two ultra-Orthodox Jewish teenage girls who fall in love.  When one of them runs away from their community north of New York City, the other one, who is the narrator of the story, goes in search of her.  I’ve been doing a lot of research in preparation for the actual writing in order to make sure I get a number of details correct.  Right now I’m reading a fascinating book called Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels, about Hasidic men and women who have, for various reasons, become disillusioned with their lives.

 2. How does my work differ from others in the same genre?

In some ways it doesn’t.  Before I wrote my first book I read dozens of contemporary lesfic romances, trying to get a clear sense of the genre and its boundaries.  I also read what I call “adjacent genres” (erotic romance, young adult romance, paranormal and historical romance) in order to see how those differ from the contemporary kind.  That was all extremely helpful.

Where I think I might differ, though not entirely from other authors, is that I try to explore social justice issues in my books.  So in Exception, there’s the issue of homeless LGBTQ youth woven throughout, and in Love Is Enough, I’ve got a transgender character (he’s the best friend of my main character, Jan Clifford) who encounters some anti-trans attitudes during the course of the book.

 3. Why do I write what I do?

I guess I’m a romantic at heart and I’ve always loved love stories, particularly the girl-meets-girl variety.  Plus, I really think fiction is a great way to explore social issues in a manner that can educate without being too heavy-hitting.  Even in political work, social movements have learned that stories about real people are one of the best vehicles for changing hearts and minds.

4.  How does my writing process work?

I think mine is evolving as I become more experienced and clearer about what works for me.

I start out with the characters living in my head.  I think about them constantly and let them develop.  This is before even a word gets written.  The movement of the plot comes to me this way as well.  If I need to know more, I’ll do research, but the basics of the characters and what happens to them becomes part of my iterative thought process.

To actually write, I started using Scrivener software, which enables you to write each chapter and its component scenes as separate documents that can be moved around if you decide that you need to do things like start the story at a different place.  This happened to me with Exception.  I had some important early feedback about the beginning and used Scrivener to reorder scenes and chapters.

I can also dump all my research into Scrivener, so it’s available to me when I need it.  For example, I had to find out some things about campaign finance laws for Love Is Enough.  I found this great graphic from a newspaper website that summarized a lot of what I needed to know, and I was able to easily grab hold of it when I needed it.

I have been fortunate to find really good beta readers, some of whom are experienced writers and others of whom have what I’d call subject matter expertise about various aspects of the book.  So with Love Is Enough, I have a friend who knows sailing quite well which was important because my characters meet on a blind date that takes place on a sailboat.  I also have someone who works as a lobbyist looking at how I’ve written about politics and Congress.

After I revise based on beta reader feedback, I give the book to an editor, revise again and then give it to a final editor who will also format it and get it ready for release.  I’m really lucky to get to work with wonderful people.

 

I hope this has been at least a little informative.  I’m thrilled to be able to tag as next two wonderful author friends.

Heather Blackmore, a San Francisco-based writer, published her debut novel, Like Jazz, with Bold Strokes Books.  It’s a well-written and heartfelt romance featuring a main character who, like me, works at a foundation, but who, unlike me, is much of a snazzier dresser.

AJ Adaire, from nearby New Jersey, writes for Desert Palm Press and already has four books out, all part of her Friends Series.  All of her books have been bestsellers and in only a short time, she’s become one of the most popular lesfic writers around.

….Passing the Baton