28 April 2014

My Writing Process

This is a round-robin post in a lovely idea for authors to share how they write. I was tagged by RWA (Florida) Regional Director Veronica Helen Hart. If you haven't read any of her award winning work, I highly suggest you check out Elena--the Girl With the Piano as well as her other books.

The game is on! I will tag another author at the end of my post and they will share their process next week on their blog. So here goes: 
  Finally, finally, I'm delving into the American Revolution with a tale based upon the real life of one of my fellow Welsh class members. George Chessman (his real name) was kidnapped on the streets of Glasgow and pressed into the British Navy, basically enslaved aboard ship. Once pressed, sailors such as he were never allowed to set foot ashore lest they escape for as long as the Navy deemed they were needed. The truth of what happened to him is fascinating, and I can tell you he did jump ship in Boston Harbor and hid in the surrounding maze of bogs and fens to elude capture. My fictionalization will fill in the exciting details, his relationships with the famous and infamous citizens of the Boston area, and his further adventures. Working title is No Man's Pawn.

  I love history. Always have. There is so much more to what happened than what the victors present in their accounts of battles and events. There is far, far more involved than just the dates /names they teach in school -- and it's usually a thousand times more interesting.
Here I am studying a map of Boston Commons in, well, Boston Commons (Photo by P. Bunch)

Think about this: some of the trees in the photo above were there during the entire upheaval, from the Stamp Act to the Tea Party to the blockade of Boston and throughout the War, continuing to grow and thrive even now. Imagine what they have seen, who they have heard whisper and plot beneath their branches... 

  I like to involve the senses and enrich the story with the context of the times. I try to write as people speak, such as when my Welshmen in the Dragon & Hawk series talked, they spoke English the way a Welsh person learning English as a second language would. It isn't exactly grammatically correct. I hope to share the interesting facts of the area and time period in a manner that immerses the reader without lecturing.

 I research quite a bit. For years, to be honest. I've been researching this one for the past four years, gathering information about the area, the people, and little known events. Unlike many writers, I have to go where I'm writing about. I have to physically walk those streets and hills, smell the sea, the harbor, the fens, the fires. Wood burned in New England is vastly different from what is burned in the desert southwest, and its smoke has a distinctive aroma. I've also been reading, reading, reading on the context of the times; all the attitudes and conflicts, not just of the people we've heard of but the laborers, farmers--and especially--the women. How were they affected? Did they really care about politics so much or were they sucked into the maelstrom as though a rip tide dragged them under?  Once I have all that down in copious notes, I organize the timeline of when everything occurred. 

I don't write in linear progression. I don't outline. I've tried and nearly lost my mind in frustration. I sit down and start with the scene that is uppermost in my thoughts (and dreams, because these people start nagging me in my sleep) and let 'er rip. Once I've exhausted what has haunted me, I go over everything and reorganize it into a plausible order arranging and rearranging. Then I edit, slashing out what doesn't work. Only after that do I start submitting it to different editors for consideration. 

So, for those of you who have wondered why the hell it takes me so long to write new books, here you go.


 Next up is fellow Tucson author, former police officer and animal trainer Alison Naomi Holt. She'll be posting her Writing Process next Monday, May 5th. You can check out her work in advance here:

Happy writing --and READING!

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