The Writing Process Blog Tour

I’m participating in a blog tour where authors talk about their writing process. I was tagged by Erica Kiefer, author of Lingering Echos and Borrowed Angel.

What am I currently working on?
I just finished writing a 36,500 word novella. It’s a contemporary LDS romance novella for a joint project with four other authors, which will be published in the Fall. I sent it to beta-readers and the preliminary feedback is very positive, and I’m very excited that others are falling in love with Chris and Luciana (the main characters) just as I did.
In the meantime, I started edits on The Secret Life of Daydreams. It’s been almost 9 months since I last read it. I recently hired a professional freelance editor to help me ready this manuscript for publication, and I need to get it back with her by May 1st. I’m hoping to get through this reading and edits in the next few weeks. It’s been really exciting to be back with Josh and Sofia, and to see the progress I’ve done as a writer since the last time I read their story, which lets me correct a lot of things I couldn’t see before. This is my first full length novel and the expected publication is January 2015.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I write contemporary romance stories that are clean in language and ‘steam-free’ in regards to content. The characters are swoon-worthy, and there is a lot of tension between them, and the romance is definitely a priority in each story, as is the relationship between the characters (from how they meet to how it develops). Two other things set up me apart in the contemporary romance genre—first, my characters are Latter-Day Saints (sometimes both main characters, other times only one), which means religion is a main theme in their everyday lives. Second, my stories are set in Portugal and/or have main characters that are Portuguese. The novella I just finished is a bit difference since it’s mainly set in Manhattan, but my novels are set in northern Portugal. Since I was born and raised in Portugal, my knowledge of the culture, geography, and language are definite advantages that let me use a setting that is different and exciting to most American and English-speaking readers (when was the last time you read a novel set in Portugal?).

Why do I write what I write?
http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/55/f8/94/55f8947c98317a3d3849221434725969.jpg
I’ve been reading romance novels since I can remember. I still read romance novels, be it contemporary, historical, Christian, mystery, and other kinds. Naturally, I always knew I could only write a romance, no other type of story would do. It goes without saying that these romance stories are the Happily Ever After kind. What makes them exciting is how the characters meet, where the story takes place, and what kind of journey they take to lead them to that happy ending. Obviously, there is an element of cliché in all romance stories, including mine, because we already know  the main characters end up together. As a reader, I know I’d be very mad if romance novels didn’t end that way. The interest of each story relies in the obstacles the main characters have to overcome before they can be together.
As a writer, I love the kind of stories that feature everyday normal people who meet each other at the precise moment in their lives where they need each other, especially when that meeting is inconvenient for one of them (or sometimes both). The emotions and the growth the characters are put through is part of the goal where the reader will finish reading the story with a sense of hope and optimism, knowing they can always count on happy endings.

How does my individual writing process work?
I’m a slow writer. Even when I know where the story is going, the exact process of putting the words down is not a fast one for me. Words and their relationship inside a sentence are important to me, and often I can’t let go of my perfectionist tendencies when I’m writing. Since English is not my first language, I sometimes have a hard time with certain expressions or a particular structure, which slow me down.
Usually, the characters come to me first, and most the times already with their names. These are strong characters who have a compelling need to be together. I know how they meet and I know how the story ends, but the in-between is harder to come by. I don’t plot. I’m a discovery writer, which means I write as the characters reveal their lives to me, and sometimes scenes show up out of order (which is fine, since I use Scrivener). I ‘see’ them in my mind as they go about their lives, and I just watch them and write. I also get most of my inspiration when I’m driving, which isn’t always very convenient. I like to focus on the interaction between the main characters and on their emotions towards each other, making sure their dialogue rings true and believable.
After my first draft, I do a quick round of revisions and then send the manuscript to beta-readers. Once their feedback is in, I revise and edit again, then let the manuscript sit for a little bit while I work on another one, before doing another round of revisions and sending it to the editor.
It’s not a perfect process, but it works for me, and I’m certainly learning along the way.

The next author in the blog tour is Laura Bastian, who just had her début novel published recently, Eye on Orion. Go take a peek at her blog and find out more about her book.

Donna K. WeaverApril 14, 2014 - 6:21 AM

Interesting learning how this works for you. LOVE Laura’s book.

LucindaApril 14, 2014 - 10:02 AM

Thanks, Donna! And I agree about Laura’s book; looking forward to the second one.

Something New!

I have something new in the works. If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen me talking a bit about it. I joined four other authors in a group project. It’s a novella collection with five novellas, one by each one us. The novellas are centered around a common theme and take place around the holidays starting with Halloween and moving on to Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and Valentine’s Day. They are all sweet, romantic LDS stories with different settings and characters with varied backgrounds. My awesome co-authors are Amber Gilchrist, Cheryl Leigh, Sally Johnson, and Stephanie Connelley Worlton (click on their names for the links to Amazon and Goodreads to find out more about them). I’m really excited about this project, which will be published just in time for Halloween later this year.

My novella takes place around the Christmas season and it’s set in Manhattan. This was really different for me since my other stories are set in Portugal. In the process of writing it, I’ve fallen in love with Central Park:

shutterstock_129558914

Thanks to the internet and thanks to awesome authors in writing groups I belong to, I’ve been able to research Central Park and the Upper East and West sides of Manhattan, and it’s now a place of my bucket list of destinations to visit. This is the main setting of my novella, and the main characters are Chris Wyman, a New Yorker, and Luciana Andrade, a girl from Lisbon, Portugal.

And today I have a sneak peek teaser, the first one of more to come:

teaser_2_text

Still working on a title for my story and for the novella collection. We’ll have more updates and sneak peeks in the upcoming months so be sure to follow us on Facebook (click on the names for the links):

Amber Gilchrist, Cheryl Leigh, Lucinda Whitney, Sally Johnson, and Stephanie Connelley Worlton.

We’re very excited with this project and hope you’ll be looking forward to it too!

Donna K. WeaverApril 8, 2014 - 2:41 PM

Love this idea. And I agree! With Torn Canvas having part of it happening in Manhattan I want so bad to visit!

LucindaApril 8, 2014 - 4:34 PM

Totally second that! Let’s have a trip!

[…] am I currently working on? I just finished writing a 36,500 word novella. It’s a contemporary LDS romance novella for a joint project with four other authors, which will be published in the Fall. I sent it to beta-readers and the preliminary feedback is […]

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month:

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

I started writing in poetry form. I was in 9th grade, and I wrote my first poem in January of 1985 (yep, I’m that old!). Words just called to me and one day I just sat down and wrote it. I won’t share it here because it’s in Portuguese. I wrote compulsively all through high school, mostly in free verse, but I also experimented with rhyme, and even have a few sonnets. I mostly wrote for myself, and sometimes I shared the poems with friends. In the summer of 1989, I had a rare flash of courage and sent a poem in prose form to a Portuguese weekly indie newspaper dedicated to the arts and music, and they published it on September 12. You can’t look it up online, but here’s the website for Blitz. I entered it with a pseudonym but my friends knew I had sent it, and it was awesome to see it in print.

I wrote my first poem in English when I was at university (Portuguese/English major). I called it “Indian Summer” and it was about the colors of Autumn.

indian summer web

(I made this photo collage in 2009 with a photo I took at Speirs Farm.)

I went on to write more poems, both in English and Portuguese, but then had a long hiatus from writing until I started writing Josh and Sofia’s story in November of 2012. Poetry will always have a special meaning for me, and often times I find myself playing with words and alliteration in a sentence or paragraph that is more emotional.

And I can’t write about poetry without a nod to my favorite modern poet, Tyler Knott Gregson. There’s not much I can say that would do justice to his poetry, other than I love his use of words. His first book is coming out later this year, and I’m really looking forward to it.

In honor of poetry month, my challenge for you is to reread a favorite poem, find a new poet, or get a piece of paper and write your first poem.

Time, Space, and Inspiration

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

I’m late with my blog post today for the Insecure Writers Support Group. I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks now, but I procrastinated till the last minute. I’m trying to get better with this, so hopefully next month I’ll post on time.

One of the blogs I follow is Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn. I really like the insights, tips, pretty much everything else. A few weeks ago she had a blog post about finding the time, space, and inspiration to write (you can read it here, it’s pretty great).

In it, she discusses how writers need  the same kind of intention and dedication that athletes possess when they’re training their bodies and minds to achieve their goals. Just like strength, endurance, and conditioning can help someone train their body for the rigors of a sports competition, the same kind of attitude is required of a writer who wants to succeed.

I think time and space are pretty self-explanatory— a dedicated space and an appointed time greatly help with the mental concentration. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have a single space I call my own. I share a room that is office/library/TV/toy room. Plus, I work from a desktop. At times, I’m the only one in the room, and at other times, I have to share. Sometimes, it’s not ideal, but if I want to write, this is what I have to work with, and I can’t make excuses. I’ve also found out that a good pair of ear buds and a white noise app work really great in masking distractions. Fortunately, though, I’m the stay-up-late writer. I’m European, which means staying up late is second-nature to me, and my optimal time is from 9 pm to 2 am. Do I do this every day? No, I don’t. Some days I’m only able to stay up to midnight, and when I do stay up later, I’m usually dragging myself in the morning.

But like Joanna mentioned, routine is a thing that your brain learns. In the past few weeks when I’ve been trying to finish my WiP novella, it’s like the writing is just waiting on the sidelines for the kids to be in bed and the house to be quiet. Then, everything comes together. My mind has learned that this is the optimal time and the words just flow. Yesterday, I even wrote 2,183 words in one sitting. For a slow writer, it was a good day.

What are some ways you use to help you concentrate on your writing?

(IWSG, writer #213)

EE GiorgiApril 2, 2014 - 8:56 PM

I’m a slow writer too, and I totally empathize about sharing work spaces… especially when you’ve finally found your inspiration, you sit down and then all of a sudden all the noise and chaos happens… but we must stay focus, and setting goals is a great way to do that! :-) best of luck!

Candilynn FiteApril 3, 2014 - 7:41 AM

I couldn’t agree more with you!! Dedication is a must. Glad I made one last pass this morning on the IWSG list. :) Best of luck with your wip!

Book Review of Indie Author Survival Guide by Susan Kaye Quinn

Today I’m reviewing the Indie Author Survival Guide by Susan Kaye Quinn:

51ooKUP-lzL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

I’ve been studying the ins and outs of indie publishing (and, to some measure, traditional publishing) for about a year and half now. After I finished my first full length novel, I planned to publish it a few months later, when the edit rounds with critique and beta readers were done. But then another opportunity came up and I put the manuscript on hold. I started my second novel during that time. In the end, this proved to be a good decision because this waiting period has afforded me chances to learn more, and be more specific about the goals I have for my writing career and my books.

This leads to the fact that I’ve done a lot of reading regarding indie publishing (or self publishing) mostly on blogs and online articles. There is a lot of information out there, and I’ve pinned a lot of posts and links to my ‘Writing’ Pinterest board.

Then I came across the Indie Author Survival Guide, recommended by a friend. I actually just finished reading it today. If you’re an indie author, or a writer considering going indie, or even a traditionally published author who needs to grapple marketing on her own, I totally recommend it. While there’s nothing completely new or revolutionary in it, the way the information is presented is what makes it so helpful. It’s organized in a such a manner as to be used linearly or as a reference guide. Instead of having to comb through dozens of online articles and blogs (which are useful, don’t get me wrong), you can just save yourself some time and start with this book. I especially found useful the chapter about the marketing plan.

One of the things she said was that, for writers, creativity is the most valuable asset, and we must learn to protect the writing time, and nourish the creative side that feeds the writing.

I had a composition notebook with me and ended up taking twenty pages of handwritten notes as I read along, and I’ll be referring to those notes often, I’m sure.

 

T w i t t e r
F a c e b o o k
N e w s l e t t e r