Going from a Plotter to a Seat-of-the-Pants Writer

When writing books, I’ve always been a plotter. In the weeks leading up to beginning a new story, I would meticulously plot every scene of my novel. I loved the process. The analytical side of my brain thrived on creating a spreadsheet with scene summaries, POVs, motivations, etc. I completely nerded-out on this stuff.

On the last two books I’ve written, that all disappeared. I’ve written the last novel and novella as a seat-of-the-pants writer. With the novel, I had a blurb and a pretty good sense of my two main characters. On the novella, I had the synopsis that I turned into the publisher (that I didn’t stick to). But there was no spreadsheet and no scene-by-scene plotting of the story.

This was partly done out of necessity. I had my second child last year, so while writing is still a big part of my life, it hasn’t been my number-one priority. I’ve been too busy changing dirty diapers, taking the six-year-old to karate, and doing my best to survive on limited sleep to obsess about a plot. So with deadlines upon me, I just wrote – freely, quickly, creatively.

It was wonderful.

I’m shocked by how great it has been. I’m a planner by nature. For my own sanity, I thought I had to have a fully plotted novel before I started writing.

I was wrong. All this time, the creative side of me wanted to break free. I just didn’t know it yet. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Instincts will take over – Learning the craft of writing is important, but after years of reading, studying, and listening, I needed to trust that all of that was inside me somewhere and just write. I’m still going to continue to learn, but now is the time when I can begin to trust my own writing instincts.

2. Seat-of-the-pants writing is fun – I don’t always know what’s going to happen next. And that’s exciting. It keeps me interested in the story. Is he going to kiss her? Even I don’t know. 🙂

3. Edits are easier – This sounds backwards, but by trying to force my characters down a particular road, my motivations weren’t ringing true, causing me to have huge rewrites. Now when I get ready to start a new scene, I trust my characters to guide me.

I’m not saying that I’ll never go back to plotting. I think there’s definitely a happy medium for me somewhere, but at this stage in my life, I’m enjoying the thrill of jumping into stories with two feet.

What about you? Are you a planner?

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and young son who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

Changing it up a little…

I’ve posted our Christmas Story Extravaganza two times this month, and instead of doing it a third time…plain. I’m going to add a giveaway. Readers choice of any of the books posted in our CSE!

Just come on in and comment for a chance to win. We want to know…what’s your favorite Christmas story???

*~*~*

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About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

Taking Control…

I love celebrating Christmas, but just not yet. It’s way too soon to start and each year the decorations seem to appear earlier and earlier.

In a former life, we often took a holiday in the run up to Christmas to get away from all the fuss. Now, we live on a mountain in a really remote area of southern Spain, so it’s easy to ignore.

On Christmas Eve, we’ll put up the decorations, and then I will get into the festive spirit—I promise.

In the meantime, there are other things to celebrate. Like the release of TAKING CONTROL, my latest Brazen contemporary romance which comes out on Monday, 15th December 2014.

And even more reason to celebrate, TAKING CONTROL is on sale at only 99 cents up until release day. So order your copy now!

“…one read you definitely want on your kindle this Christmas to warm you up…” — Kiwi Book Nerd

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q20YF3A

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A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…
Why play nice when you can be naughty?
Jessica Bauer is aces when it comes to security, but the PR side? Not so much. Now she has a chance to take over Knight Securities―if she plays nice with the next client. Unfortunately, that client happens to be Declan McCabe. And it’s too bad someone wants him dead, because after he broke her heart ten years ago, Jessica would have cheerfully murdered him herself.
Declan has taken his dad’s not-so-reputable company and turned it around, and in the process, he’s attracted the attention of some vicious killers. The only perk is being reunited with Jessica, who Declan still wants so much he can barely see straight. But Jessica has a plan of her own. She’ll protect Declan. She’ll have unbelievably hot sex with him.  And when the job is finished, she’ll move on. Except that this time, Declan isn’t so willing to walk away…

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

Editor Spotlight — Sutton Fox

LoneStarTroubleWelcome Sutton Fox from Hearts Desire Press. A fairly new publishing house, they are making ground in the romance industry, acquiring and publishing romance with heat levels ranging from erotic to sweet.

Heart-Shaped Glasses is always interested in what editors are up to, so we’ve created a little spot, just to get the nitty-gritty down and out there. Send us your questions! Send us your curiosities…

And when you see something you like, don’t be afraid to submit! That’s what we’re here for…

We sent over a few probing questions for Sutton and this was what she had to say.

How would you define success as an editor?

Before we get started, let me just say a big ‘Thank You’ to the fabulous ladies of Heart-Shaped Glasses for having me today. I’m honored to be here.

And we’re glad to have you!…

SONY DSCSuccess for me is enhancing an author’s authentic voice and helping it shine throughout the story. Editing is all about collaboration. When the author and I have given our all to a story, and produced a product that we are excited to bring to market, it’s incredibly gratifying.

What kinds of editing (or what part of editing) do you most (and least) enjoy? Why?

Delving into a new story is the most enjoyable thing for me. It’s like opening a Christmas present. Even though I’ve read the synopsis, it’s thrilling to peel it back layer by layer and see how the author plays things out.

What I enjoy least is writing rejection letters. As an author, I’ve had my share of rejections and they all sting. Although it’s a necessary part of the job, it’s the one I don’t like at all.

When someone gives you something to edit, what do you do?

Right out of the box, I simply read. As a reader. I don’t look at what needs work. That comes later. First and foremost, the story needs to reach out and grab my interest. The good ones do. The others, not so much. Once it’s captured my attention and kept it, then I move on to the practical side, because at that point it becomes about the nuts and bolts of writing.

What made you choose editing?

I’ve been an avid reader for more than thirty years, a writer for more years than I can count, and a published author for more than eight years. Perhaps it was a natural progression. One day I realized I enjoyed helping others to refine their stories just as much as I like writing my own. After so many years, and so many classes I realized that maybe in this way I could give back to the craft that’s given so much to me. I’m lucky the publishing industry of today allows me to do both.

What really gets your engine revving in a book? [in other words] What do you like to see in the submissions you get at HEARTS DESIRE PRESS?

Our interests are broad at HDP. We love a good story, period. Contemporary romance and New Adult romance are hot right now, but we also enjoy time travel, erotic romance or a historical tale. It doesn’t matter the time period or the actual setting. If an author writes their best story, it shows up on the page.

What is one of your writing pet peeves?

They change with the seasons I think. Every story brings something unique to the table, but there are two issues that come immediately to mind. The first is being aware of the difference between telling vs. showing, and when to use each. The other is the importance of understanding the difference between passive voice and active voice.

Do you have a favorite author? If so, who is it and how have they influenced your career?

I have many favorites in many genres and all for different reasons. The one that stands out most in romance and romantic suspense is Nora Roberts. She’s prolific, consistent, funny, and professional.
Over the years she’s written stories that have provided an entertaining escape, a breather if you will, from some difficult situations for just a little while. It seems a small thing, but sometimes when life applies the pressure; it helps make things more bearable to just think about something else for a bit. If I could provide someone else that pleasurable relief through editing or writing, all the years of study and work would be worth it.

Dont_Say_NoAbout Hearts Desire Press

Hearts Desire Press is a small, romance only, independent publisher, specializing in adult fiction.

From sweet romance to erotic romance, we publish in digital and print formats. Please see our submissions page for
details. We are a royalty paying publisher, NOT a vanity press, and we do not offer an advance.

Our titles are from established authors and new undiscovered talent. For everyone here, it is our hearts’ desire to
bring you the very best in romance!

It’s time. At HDP we believe it’s time for a publisher who sees an author as a valuable partner in the world of publishing, and treats them like one. You can call us a hybrid publisher, you can call us a small press, in fact, there will be some who’ll call us plain crazy.

HDP is made up of publishing industry professionals who believe an author should have a choice other than traditional and self-publishing. We believe all successful writers work hard to hone their craft. Let us help you continue to shape your career and take it in the direction YOU want to go.

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About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

New Release — Becky Lower

For all our Historical Romance fans… out September 1st, The Duplicitous Debutante.

roses2In 1859, ladies of New York society were expected to do three things well: find a husband, organize a smooth-running household, and have children.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick’s agenda is very different. As the author of the popular Harry Hawk dime novels, she must hide her true identity from her new publisher, who assumes the person behind the F. P. Elliott pen name is male. She must pose as his secretary in order to ensure the continuation of her series. And in the midst of all this subterfuge, her mother is insisting that she become a debutante this year.

Henry Cooper is not the typical Boston Brahmin. Nor is he a typical publisher. He’s entranced by Mr. Elliott’s secretary the moment they meet, and wonders how his traditional-thinking father will react when he brings a working class woman into the family. Because his intentions are to marry her, regardless.

Rosemary’s deception begins to unravel at the Cotillion ball, when Henry recognizes her. The secretarial mask must come off, now that he knows she is a member of New York society. But she can’t yet confess who she truly is until she knows if Henry will accept her as F. P. Elliott.

The more time they spend together, the closer they become. But when Rosemary reveals her true identity to him, will Henry be able to forgive her or has her deceit cost her the man she loves?

~*~*~

lower authorpicBecky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west in the 1850s or present day middle America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com

~*~*~

Excerpt:

Harry Hawk and the Tycoon’s Daughter—Book Six in the Harry Hawk Series

Harry Hawk stared down the barrel of his Colt .45. A huge Sioux Indian was in his sights, but was holding the girl in front of him as a shield. Her eyes were as big as saucers as she struggled against the man, and she trembled as she kept her eyes on the end of Harry’s gun.

New York City, March 1859

Rosemary Fitzpatrick laid her fountain pen on the paper, oblivious to the blob of ink that fell from its tip and damaged the page. She picked up the letter she had received earlier in the day.

It was her own gun, and she was staring down the barrel.

The letter informed her that her publisher, Page Books, had been sold, as Mr. Page had retired. The new company, Cooper and Son Publishing, was sending an envoy from Boston to New York to meet with all the authors. And to decide whom to keep.

She read the words between the lines. And whom to cut.

She had never met Mr. Page. All their correspondence had been through the post. So Mr. Page had no idea one of his best-selling dime novel authors was a woman. F.P. Elliott was the name she’d come up with when she was only fourteen and submitted her first story, not once imagining she’d become one of Mr. Page’s most productive and popular authors.

She had only two days in which to find someone to impersonate F.P. Elliott.

Rosemary ran her ink-stained fingers through her hair as she pondered what to do. The logical choice, and her only real hope, was her older brother Halwyn. But he was married now and settled. And, despite the fact he loved his sister, Rosemary doubted he’d ever cracked open one of her books.

Well, it was worth a try, anyway. She hastily stood, removed her pinafore—which was covered in purplish-blue stains resembling bruises, but protected her dress—patted her hair back in place, and glided down the steps from her garret study in the four-story townhouse to the main level, where she encountered her mother in the drawing room.

“Oh, good. I was just on my way upstairs to find you. Do come in.”

Rosemary took a seat opposite her mother, who picked up the embroidery she had been working on. Rosemary took a moment to smooth her pale blue muslin dress and inhaled her mother’s subtle, comforting scent of lilacs before she brought her eyes up.

“Mother, I have a problem.”

Her mother glanced up from her needlework. “Well, if it’s a problem with one of your stories, I’m afraid I can’t help you. I don’t know where you get your ideas. Help yourself to some tea and a bit of Cook’s tangy lemon cake, why don’t you?”

Rosemary rose and poured herself a cup of tea, forgoing the cake. “Well, indirectly, it is about my stories.” She took a deep breath. “Mr. Page has retired and he’s sold the company to a Boston publisher.

Charlotte Fitzpatrick’s eyes locked on Rosemary’s. “Oh, dear.”

“Precisely. And the new publisher is sending someone to New York in two days to interview all the authors Mr. Page currently has under contract. They insist upon an in- person visit. Whatever can I do?”

Charlotte tapped her finger on her teeth for a moment, before her face broke into a smile. “We’ll just have to find someone to be Mr. Elliott! What about your father?”

“Papa’s way too busy to spend an afternoon impersonating me. I was thinking more along the lines of Halwyn.”

“Hmmm. I suppose either of them would be a good choice. They can certainly think on their feet. But has either of them read your stories? Do they know where your inspiration for Harry Hawk comes from?”

“No, I don’t think either of them cares. They merely pat me on the head and tell me they’re glad I have a ‘hobby’ that keeps me off the streets and away from the Bloomers and their demonstrations for women’s rights.”

“All right then. Here’s what I suggest. You can prepare a series of questions about your stories, not just your characters but also about your current contract with Mr. Page, and administer the test to both your father and brother. Halwyn and Grace are coming over for dinner tonight, so your timing is perfect. Whoever does the best on the test will be the one to impersonate your Mr. Elliott.” Charlotte clapped her hands together.

“Your idea might just work,” Rosemary replied as a touch of excitement washed over her. “I’ll compose the pertinent questions this afternoon.”

Her mother patted her hand. “Surely we New Yorkers can pull the wool over a Boston Brahmin any day of the week.” She set aside her needlework and picked up the most recent copy of Godey’s fashion magazine. “Now we must discuss the important business of your debut next month. That’s the real reason I wanted to talk to you.”

“Must I still go through with this archaic European folly?”

Charlotte fixed a level stare on her daughter. “It is neither archaic nor European anymore. Judging from its success in finding suitable partners for our young ladies of society since its introduction into American culture five years ago, I must say it’s a convention that’s here to stay. I let you talk me out of it last year, when you should have had your season, simply because I was exhausted from planning the weddings of your two sisters. But no more dawdling, Rosemary. 1859 has to be your year. You’re nineteen and must begin entertaining the idea of getting married. Besides, if the talk of war between the States evolves into actual battle, the Cotillion may be cancelled temporarily—at least until we take care of the Southerners and free all the slaves. You may not have another chance to find a husband for years.”

Charlotte pointed to a gown in the magazine. “Jasmine has already created a lovely white gown for your coming-out ball, but we must think beyond the dance, to the entire season. We’ll have a formal dinner in the weeks following the dance. How about a dress such as this?”

Rosemary placed a hand on her stomach, which now knotted with anxiety on top of her excitement. “Mother, I can’t think of dinners or ball gowns right now. My entire future is in jeopardy.”

“Quit being so melodramatic, for goodness’s sake. I’m quite certain your father or brother can come up with a solution, so indulge me a bit and let’s talk dresses. After all, having a wonderful season is part of your future, too.”

”I’m sure whatever you decide will be fine, Mother. I need to get to work on my questions for Papa and Halwyn.”

Rosemary’s stomach calmed a bit as she rose and went back to the garret to compose her test. Maybe her mother’s idea would work. Perhaps her father or brother could pull it off.

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

The way to a man’s heart…

We’ve all heard it, I’m sure. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. As an author, I’ve taken this sentiment seriously and, if you read my first book, Can’t Shake You, you probably know what I’m talking about. My heroine, Carissa, on more than one occasion, either brings food to or cooks for the hero. This is a theme I’ve noticed myself following in coming River Bend books. Why? It’s probably mostly because I’m a total foodie, but also because I’m a small town gal and it’s part of our nature…our culture even…to shower our loved ones–especially the guys in our lives–with something to fill their belly with. Could be an ulterior motive. You know, more fuel for more activities and all that. 😉

In Can’t Shake You, Carissa has a Sunday tradition of making Chicken Pot Pie. It’s something she carried into adult life from childhood, much like we’ve probably all carried on traditions. Here is the link to the recipe I make at home. It’s perfect for fall…or any time of year, really…and it’ll warm not only the tummies of the ones you love, but their hearts as well.

Enjoy. 🙂chix

 

About Molly Mclain

Molly is a talker. Get her chatting about books (or book boyfriends) and she can go for hours. Socializing is her favorite part of blogging with a bunch of like-minded authors. It's like having coffee with your friends at all hours of the day. Molly also likes coffee. A lot. Blogging at HSG? It's a win-win in Molly's book!

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series release in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.