Dear Unsuspecting Readers,
Please sympathize with me and read to the end. Please! As an initial plea of defense, I almost never get into the fun (aka: non-complicated and opposite of mind-numbing) stuff on the internet. Usually because I’ve always got my head buried in research or writing, but this week I have fully committed to being a (semi-reluctant) team player on a blog roll!
What is a blog roll, you ask? Well, being the author hermit I am, I’m not totally sure myself but looking back at what others have done, it appears it’s sort of like sitting around the campfire telling tales. A group of storytellers (authors) all work together to contribute something, then pass the stick to the next person, to keep the spirit of the event (blog roll) alive.
My good friend and fellow author, Karen McQuestion, was kind enough to ask (drag) me into the fun. All kidding set aside, if you haven’t heard of Karen, then you haven’t yet tested the deepest waters of women’s fiction. What? Say you want a recommendation? I’d suggest you start with The Long Way Home.
But I also know from my undercover sources that she has a new book on the horizon that will blow your socks off. (I’ve beta read it so I know!) It’s called Hello Love and you can preorder it today. I promise, you’ll thank me when that baby hits your Kindle. You’re welcome.
Like me, Karen also answered questions about her writing process on her blog, McQuestion Musings, and then she threw the questions to me. So here are my answers and as soon as I’m done I’m inviting (aka: torturing) the next writers on the list, so stay tuned to see who (willingly) posts about their writing process next.
1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
If you could see my office and the floor beside my bed (and the table in the screened porch), you’d think I was collecting Chinese history books. I’ve surrounded (buried) myself in research material for a book I’m working on that will be set during the Cultural Revolution. It will be a novel-length prequel to my bestselling series The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters.
2. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
My work probably doesn’t differ much from other China-inspired fiction. Authors like Lisa See, Amy Tan, and even the late Pearl Buck have used bits of history and inspiration from real life people to launch the ideas for their stories, just as I do. (PS. Did you know Lisa See just released a new novel called China Dolls, set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the late 1930s? I can’t wait to read it!)
3. WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
Several years ago, I was lucky enough to garner a 4 1/2 year respite from American life to become an expat in the mysterious and sometimes chaotic country of China. There I spent time with the locals and fell in love with the children at the orphanage where I volunteered. I’ll admit that I went into China and the orphanage with pre-conceived notions of cruel parents who abandon helpless children. After some years of experience, I came to realize there was so much more to the story, especially the fact that most parents would rather do anything than relinquish their children. Most times that recourse is their last resort to save their beautiful babies from a life of poverty, or worse, death or disability from a lack of medical assistance.
When I returned to the states, I found myself obsessed with continuing to raise awareness about the plights of the underprivileged women and children in China.
After Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, (my memoir) took off like a rocket, I decided to continue to use my love of writing to advocate. Now I use my books to entertain while covertly raising awareness about the difficult human affairs some choose to close their eyes to.
Children abandoned under bridges, women forced into abortions, girls abducted to be sold as brides, street children dying to try to stay warm—all of these are themes I explore as I create characters that will have readers rooting for them to overcome their dire circumstances. My stories are about family loyalty, loss, and the tenacity of the human spirit intent on survival.
4. HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
Coming from a long history of being overly structured and self-critical (driven beyond sane parameters), it’s not surprising that I treat my writing like a fulltime job. When I rise in the mornings I immediately get dressed, take the dog out, pour a Dr. Pepper over ice, then sit down at my desk and prepare to make some progress. The first hour or so is spent updating social networking, sending/answering emails, and reading a few writing/publishing sites to see if I’m missing any breaking news that will affect me. Then once that is all out of the way, I get down to ‘bizness.
The ‘bizness may be research, editing, marketing, or actually writing new stuff. However, I only start a manuscript after sometimes months of gathering facts and tidbits that I can fold into the story. Reader reviews have shown me that the most appreciated aspect of my work is the tidbits of history I weave through, so getting those parts down into an organized outline or list is the first priority. Once I have a semi complete outline ready, I then begin writing. Each day I take on another chapter, even if only fleshing it out to return to it the next day and complete it further. As for the outline, it’s usual for me to deviate from it about halfway through the manuscript, as my creative juices and growing familiarity with my characters send me down unexpected avenues.
5. AND THE OTHER PART OF THIS QUESTION, HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS NOT WORK?
Simply put, my writing process doesn’t work worth beans if I’m not in my usual place at my familiar desk in my cozy office. I like (need) routine, so my writing process also doesn’t work if the house if full of unusual activity. I write best when I’m alone with only my dog, Riley, and my cat, Gypsy, to keep me company. If daughters or grandchildren (or pesky husbands) are underfoot, I focus on marketing or other writing stuff, anything but the manuscript. For that I need blessed solitude. But when I’m not working, I love having visitors or enjoy just walking through our backyard to the lake, taking a moment each day to enjoy nature and all the blessings that we’ve worked for and those God has given us.
PASSING THE TORCH, OR WHO’S NEXT
ROSALIND JAMES. If you are not familiar with that name yet, just hold on, because you soon will be. Rosalind sold nearly 225,000 books in her first 21 months of publishing! She is the author of several Amazon bestsellers including the two different series titled Escape To New Zealand and The Kincaids. If you want to read how Rosalind’s writing process enables her to crank out bestsellers, visit her at her blog here.
Then we have the always unpredictable Robyn Coden who I have the pleasure of mentoring as she wades into the shark-infested waters of publishing. But she’s not a total newbie. Have you heard of the blog called Dim Sum and Doughnuts? If not, you’d better head over there and see what kind of trouble Robyn is stirring up. Honest and provocative, Robyn is an up & coming author and for a hint of what she is about, here is her tagline: We’re an unconventional family and we live an unconventional life…but sometimes unconventional works. As for what she is working on to be published—that I can’t tell you because it’s super top secret. Please visit Robyn on Facebook to get to know her and be amused by her take on motherhood and life in general. And if you want to see her start a flame war and then put it out, check out one of my favorite posts of hers titled I Am Who I Am. You’ll either laugh or be ticked off—I promise you one extreme or the other. Oh, and to see Robyn’s take on her writing process, check out her writing process (and all the uber cool things she says about me!) at her website Dim Sum and Doughnuts.
Whew! Finished! I can mark being a part of an author blog roll off my bucket list.
So….if you’ve read all the way to the end of this rambling blog post, you deserve a medal…or maybe just an ice cream cone. Or both. So yeah, um…thanks.