This post is part of a blog tour on the writing process. Thanks to Kathryn Gray-White, a fellow Atlanta author for tagging me to take my turn.
I met Kathryn at a combined book signing event that we participated in last month called “Books in the Garden” at Specialty Ornamentals in Watkinsville, Georgia; the other authors were Rona Simmons, Valerie Connors and Linda Hughes. Kathryn was signing her book, ATLANTA’S REAL WOMEN, and we chatted with each other and with readers who came to the event. We finished the day with a one hour appearance at Avid Bookshop in nearby Athens. Prior to meeting Kathryn, we connected on Linkedin. She is a historian and an assistant professor at Georgia Gwinnett College.
MY WRITING PROCESS….
What am I working on?
I’ve just started writing my fourth book (and third novel), a Suspense/Thriller so far unnamed. Book 4 borrows a few minor characters from my novel of the same genre, Underwater, and it turns one of them into a major character. Underwater is the story of a successful businesswoman whose brother guilts her into funding a luxury home just before the housing market drops, plunging the family into a downward spiral of deceit and violence. Book 4 is about another family in conflict over a house, this time a two million dollar beach home that three siblings will inherit upon the death of their wealthy stepmother.
When her sizable liquid assets are stolen by a crooked investor, the stepmother considers selling the beach home to fund her lifestyle in a luxury retirement community. Two of the siblings suggest that she obtain a reverse mortgage on it instead, to keep it in the family and protect their inheritance. But the middle child is secretly grappling with huge debts and unwilling to downsize or compromise. When an unforeseen event occurs, her income drops drastically and her demands multiply. Soon, her hostility toward the woman who took her mother’s place decades ago turns from anger to hatred. How far will she go to get her way, and to get her hands on the money she believes is rightfully hers?
While writing Book 4, I’m also working with my freelance editor, Laura Ownbey, to revise and prepare my third book for release. A work of creative nonfiction titled All the Above, it chronicles my nineteen-year-old son’s battle with brain cancer.
In addition, I’m working with my editor and team at Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon Publishing, who recently picked up Underwater for re-release this fall.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My first book, a French Travel/Romance novel titled Make That Deux, is a semi-autobiographical tale based on my year as a junior exchange student in the late 1970s. So many books are set in France, but I could find none quite like mine, which also falls into the new New Adult genre, where the protagonist is in college, not high school like in Young Adult (YA). All the Above is a personal account of my emotional struggle when the unthinkable happened to my son. Underwater and Book 4 are about adult family members caught up in conflicts over money; the stories pose questions about generosity, enabling, guilt, and duty. Tension builds to a boiling point, and then…
Why do I write what I do?
I write what I like to read, and I like to read a variety (the only types of fiction I dislike are Fantasy, Science Fiction, and anything Paranormal). We expose what we value by how we spend our time and our money, and I’m drawn to fiction about families in conflict over the latter, with fragile relationships to complicate matters. I enjoy writing from different characters’ perspectives because I like showing that individuals can have goals, feelings and personalities that clash. It’s interesting to look at how family members can view the same events and issues in vastly different ways, and can have opposing memories, desires and fears – and keep them secret from each other.
How does your writing process work?
My writing process has evolved over time, and I’m constantly open to learning. I write full-time and have a routine, but one in which flexibility is important; you’ll sometimes find me writing during slow weekend afternoons and up at 3 a.m. when an idea won’t go away. Normally, though, I write for four to five hours on weekday mornings, then two or three more in the afternoons.*
I pay close attention to pacing, and I start with notes, a plot outline and characters that I can get my head around. I ask myself what I’m trying to say in the story and figure out how my characters will show it. I massage my notes as I go and decide when to end chapters based on intuition. I keep track of multiple POVs in a separate place and continually ask myself (and answer) who should speak next in the story.
My writers’ critique group, an offshoot of the Atlanta Writers Club, provides feedback and gives me suggestions and encouragement. I learn a lot from listening to others read their work. I shoot for writing 5000 words or more a week. I write, cut, revise, write, cut, revise…etc. Eventually, the book gets written, and then my editor does her thing. Then, I break down her edit and work on revising once again. After a copy/line edit, it’s finished, and I start on my next project!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this entry in The Writing Process Blog Tour. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, follow this blog, or connect with me on Twitter (@MakeThatJulie), and Like me on Facebook (JuliaC.mcdermott).
*That’s what I aim for, and what I do, most of the time..Of course, I also take breaks, and get up to do lots of household chores, and exercise!