Friday, September 23, 2011

Writing With Jennifer Estep

Writers usually are pantsers or plotters.There is no right or wrong way only the way that works for you, the writer. 

My guest urban fantasy author, Jennifer Estep. She writes both an adult Elemental Assassin series and  Mythos Academy series for young adults.

Jennifer talks about how she writes her stories.

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Sia for having me on the blog again today. Thanks so much, Sia!

So today I thought I would talk a little about my writing process since that always seems to be a popular question with readers, authors, and everyone else. How do you go about taking the characters and stories in your head, getting them down on paper (or in the computer), and turning them into a cohesive book? Everyone’s process is a little different. Some people like to plot out what will happen in every single chapter. Other folks just take an idea and run with it. There’s no right or wrong way to write a book. All that really matters at the end of the day is getting the words down and finishing that first rough draft.

I have to admit that I’m a total panster when it comes to writing. I don’t do detailed outlines, character descriptions, storyboards, or anything like that. I just think about my heroine, her magic, and how she can use it to defeat the bad guys. Once I have that in mind, along with some of the major turning points of the story, I just sit down and start writing.

Sometimes, it works out well, and the story just flows. Other times … not so much. It’s not pretty, but it’s the method that works for me. I find that if I outline a story too much that I sort of get impatient and even a little bored writing it, since I know what’s going to happen next. I guess part of me likes my characters to surprise me a little bit as I write them.

When I do start writing that first rough draft, I try to write at least 2,000 to 3,000 words a day (or more) until I have a rough draft of about 50,000 or 60,000 words or so. I find that working on the draft every day helps me keep the story flowing and the words pouring out. Then, when I’m finished with the rough draft, I let the story sit for a few weeks before going back to it, reading through, and seeing what changes might need to be made and what needs to be added to the story.

Then, I start my second draft, where I layer in more emotion, description, and dialogue. With my second draft, I usually aim to have about 90,000 words by the time I finish it. Then, I let that draft sit for a few weeks before going back to it and layering in even more emotion, description, and dialogue. I usually do this a couple of times until I have a draft of about 95,000 words or so and the book is the best that I can make it.

So there you have it – a little bit about my writing process.

  • What about you guys? What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a panster? What books are you enjoying right now?

Spider's Revenge Available 9/27/11 

Old habits die hard for assassins.

And I plan on murdering someone before the night is through.

Killing used to be my regular gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spider, assassin-for-hire. And I was very, very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly matters: Mab Monroe, the dangerous Fire elemental who murdered my family when I was thirteen.

Oh, I don’t think the mission will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more problematic than expected. The bitch knows I’m coming for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters Mab hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keeping Bria safe is my first priority. Taking Mab out is a close second. 

Good thing I’ve got my powerful Ice and Stone magic—and my irresistible lover, Owen Grayson—to watch my back. This battle has been years in the making, and there’s a good chance I won’t survive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s coming with me . . . no matter what I have to do to make that happen. Excerpt

USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assas­sin code­named the Spi­der who can con­trol the ele­ments of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing peo­ple and right­ing wrongs, Gin runs a bar­be­cue restau­rant called the Pork Pit in the fic­tional South­ern metrop­o­lis of Ash­land. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vam­pires, and ele­men­tals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

Books in the series are Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, and Tangled Threads. Spider’s Revenge, the fifth book in the series, will be released on Sept. 27.

Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. Touch of Frost, the first book in the series, was released in August. First Frost, a prequel e-story to the series, is available as a 99-cent download. Kiss of Frost, the second book, will be released on Nov. 29.

For more information, excerpts, and more, visit Jennifer’s website at

You can also find Jennifer:  FACEBOOK, GOODREADS, TWITTER

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

CHRISTIE CRAIG: How To Ward Off A Gremlin

It's something all writers face—published or unpublished—self-doubt.

Romance author, Christie Craig tells how she deals with it and offers Five tips for overcoming and preventing self doubts. 

There’s a monster hiding under my desk.  He lurks there, waiting for the right moment to attack. He’s an ugly little bastard, too.  I have a lot of names for him, but for the sake of not overusing profanity in this blog, I’ll call him by his real name, Self-Doubt.  

Most of you might think that after two decades in the business, I’d have managed to kill the gremlin.  But you’d be wrong.  That sneaky little devil won’t die.  He keeps popping back up. 

I think self doubt is something most writers face throughout their careers.  And by careers, I don’t mean from the point that you become a published author, I mean, from the point you start writing.  I think the inability to fight the gremlin is one of the biggest things that prevent a writer from becoming published.  And it’s probably one of the reasons published writers stop writing.  That’s right, this monster doesn’t care what you’ve accomplished.  All he wants is a big bite out of your confidence.

He’ll tell you that whatever you’ve got on that computer screen is crap.  That you just need to delete it. He’ll convince you that no matter how good of an idea you may have, it’s probably already been done.

He’ll whisper in your ear that you’re wasting your time, that cleaning out your grout in your kitchen tile with a toothbrush is much more important.  Sometimes he possesses your family and friends and they’ll say things like, “How long are you going to put yourself though all this pain before you find something else to do with your time?”  He’ll stare you right in the eyes and tell you that your dreams are silly and you’ll never reach them.  He’ll make you believe that the one negative review out of twenty good ones is the one you should listen to.  If you let him, he not only can slow you down, he’ll rob you of the joy and passion you feel for writing. 

Now, that gremlin is always close by, nipping at your toes, giving you moments of doubt.  I think that’s somewhat normal.  But let that creature scramble up your leg, hang out in your lap, or even worse, let him climb up on your shoulder, where you can listen to him all day long, and you’ll soon be playing Russian Roulette with your passion for writing.  Because writing with a self-doubt gremlin sitting on your shoulder is about as easy as brushing your teeth with a brownie in your mouth. 

So how do we slay the gremlin or at least keep him at bay?  Below are five tips for overcoming and preventing self-doubt from chewing on your sanity.

  • 1)      Be Aware or Peer Pressure.

We preach this to our kids but so often we forget that the bad habits of the people we hang out with are as contagious as a stomach virus.  If you’re hanging out with negative people, people who have lost their ability to chase their dreams, you’re at risk of becoming just like them.  Find positive people who validate your dreams and work ethics to share your life and support your journey.

  • 2)      Ward off the message that you don’t know what you’re doing by continually growing at a writer.  Read how-to books, take classes, attend those writer meetings and listen to what other writers offer as advice.

  • 3)      Mentor someone else.  Nothing can inspire you more than helping and encouraging another person.  Telling others that they have to believe in themselves is a sure fire way or rekindling your own self-confidence.  It also creates karma.

  • 4)      Be leery of ruts.  If you’re not feeling the passion for your writing, try spicing things up by doing something different.  Try writing something in a new genre, or try writing something in a different point of view.  Nothing can get you out of a rut quicker than feeling challenged.

  • 5)      Accept that sometimes you are going to fail. That you’re going to make mistakes.  That you’re going to get rejections—that it might take you years to accomplish what you want to accomplish. Understand that you aren’t the first person to get fifty rejections, or a hundred, or even a thousand. The truth is, the number of rejections you receive doesn't matter.  You are not defeated until you let yourself be defeated.

Writing isn’t for wimps.  Chances are, you’ll face those gremlins, not once but many times, so just be armed with good friends, knowledge, Karma, a sense of adventure, and perseverance.  And never, ever lose your sense of humor.  And now that I’ve shared with you my tips for slaying gremlins, I’d like to hear some of yours. 

  • How do you tackle self doubt?

DON'T MESS WITH TEXASAvailable now on bookshelves and e-book 
Nikki Hunt thought her night couldn't get worse when her no-good, cheating ex ditched her at dinner, sticking her with the bill. Then she found his body stuffed in the trunk of her car and lost her two-hundred-dollar meal all over his three-thousand-dollar suit. Now not only is Nikki nearly broke, she's a murder suspect.

Former cop turned PI, Dallas O'Connor knows what it's like to be unjustly accused. But one look at the sexy-though skittish-suspect tells him she couldn't hurt anyone. The lead detective, Dallas's own brother, has the wrong woman and Dallas hopes a little late-night "undercover" work will help him prove it . . . First Chapter Excerpt (blog excerpt page)

BUY: Amazon : Barnes & Noble : Books a MillionKaty Budget Books


Photojournalist, Author and Speaker

Christie Craig, an Alabama native, is an award-winning, multi-published writer, multi-published photo journalist, motivational speaker, and writing teacher.. Her non-fiction articles and photography have appeared in almost three thousand national magazines. A Golden Heart finalist, and a finalist in more than fifty RWA-sponsored contests, she has gained a well-deserved reputation for writing romance fiction that has both witty humor and a suspenseful, sexy tone. Published by Silhouette in the 90s, she recently broke back into fiction in a big way, making four book sales in one day. Her seventh humorous single title romance novel, published by Dorchester, will hit the stands in June 2010. Her non-fiction book, co-authored by Faye Hughes, released September 08, is The Everything Guide To Writing A Romance Novel and their second non-fiction book, a humorous self-help relationship book, Wild, Wicked and Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You Are in a Romance Novel is scheduled to be released December 2010. Craig's latest writing adventure is the sale of a young adult paranormal romance series, Shadow Falls Camp, which will be published by St. Martins Press in the near future.


Monday, September 19, 2011

JEANNE ADAMS: The Dream Writing Space

It's my pleasure to have romantic suspense author, Jeanne Adams, visiting with us Over Coffee. You may have read her Deadly Little Secrets, nominated for Best Suspense of 2010 and today I'm featuring another RT Top Pick and the follow up, Deadly Little Lies

I was curious about her writing area where she creates these fun romances and you know me, if I'm curious, I ask.
Describe your writing spacewhat would be your DREAM writing space?

You know, Sia, when you asked me about writing spaces, I thought, “How can I answer that, I have a great writing space!?” 

But the more I thought about it, the more I decided it would be SUCH a fun topic.  I can talk about this topic for hours of course (and have, because I teach a class about it) and it got me thinking.  What would I want to have that I don’t already have?

I have a great room, all to myself.  It’s the size of a closet, but hey, it’s got a door that shuts, and bookcases, and a desk and chair.  I’m good.

I have a really big monitor that keeps me from straining my eyes – and what a god-send THAT is, let me tell you! 

There’s floor space enough for the dogs to hang out with me all day, which they usually do.  And two windows, which let in natural light, and which if I’m really bored or trying to think of something to do next, allow me to see the world passing by and get some ideas.

Granted, my ideas usually run to blowing things up – one of my favorite pastimes – so I’m not so sure the FedEx guy would appreciate knowing what I’ve contemplated doing to his truck.  Snork!  But it helps to have that visual distraction sometimes.

I’m very visual, so I have a lot of pictures and inspiration pieces around.  Clutter, according to my DH.  And I have toys.  Things to toss and play with, as I’m very kinesthetic as well. 

But a dream space….where would that be?  What would that look like?  Well, it would have to be bigger, maybe 12 by 20 feet.  BIG windows, looking out on the street. 

The street, you say?  Yep.  I know some people like the quiet pastoral view, but I’m an extrovert.  Seeing the people moving and driving and going and doing helps me concentrate.  Too much quiet makes me jumpy.  Which is why a dream workspace would also have to have a rockin’ sound system.  A Bose sound dock for my iPod would work, maybe some auxiliary speakers to that so the bass can really reverb.  Grins. 

That would mean soundproofing too, I guess, since I like to work late at night as well.  So good lighting too – lights in the ceiling (currently missing in my office) as well as task lighting on the desk.

A mini-fridge would be good...or maybe not.  As it is, I need to move around more, having a fridge in the room would be toooo convenient and contribute to writerly “spread” from so much sitting.  Ha!

Color.  It would have to have color.  I might paint a neutral and do pops of color that I could change.  Yeah, I think that would be it.  And have huge bulletin boards where I can collage stories and hang idea things, and then take it all down when I needed some peace.

More than anything else it would have to have bookcases.  Lots and lots of bookcases.  I have some now, but my research books spill out into other rooms, not to mention all the books from “keeper” authors.

And I think it’s time for a new chair.

That’s kind of the dream – big, spacious, well-lit, bookcase-lined, music-blasting, big-monitored space.  Room for the dogs, room for me, room to spread out the research and rock and roll the writing (and the music.)

  • What about you?  Whatever work you do, where do you like to do it?  Do you need quiet, or can you concentrate better with a lot of noise around you?  (I like to work at a busy Starbucks)  Do you want to see a pastoral, quiet scene of nature, or the bustle of the city, or at least your street?

  • And if you could change one thing about where you work now – even if it’s your boss – what would it be?

Caught In A Game

Secrets are what drive billionaire security expert Davros Gianakopulos to succeed. And no one intrigues him more than striking art gallery owner Carrie McCray. But when a vengeful enemy traps Dav and Carrie in a ruthless battle of wits, the only thing he can trust is desire…

Carrie has faced down trouble before—betrayal taught her how. But staying one step ahead of those hunting her and Dav is as dangerous as her urgent feelings for him. Each move brings them closer to disaster, just as Dav’s every searching kiss challenges Carrie’s hard-won reserve. And he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her…even putting their last chance at love on the line…Excerpt

Jeanne Adams lives near Washington, D.C., with her handsome husband, two charming sons, and her Dalmatians. Formerly in the dark and dangerous world of business marketing, she's also worked in bookstores, for a cemetery, and several funeral homes. A member and frequent speaker for Romance Writers of America and its various chapters and a proud member of Washington Romance Writers. Jeanne loves to connect with readers and other writers.