Thanks very much to Doreen Pendgracs for inviting me to participate in this fun blog hop about the writing process. I met Doreen through PWAC (Professional Writers Association of Canada) many years ago, and she has been a great supporter of all my writing projects ever since. Thanks Doreen!
Doreen’s intent is to educate, entertain and inspire writers and anyone interested in creative and cultural endeavours.If you’re a chocolate lover and love to travel, you will enjoy Doreen’s chocolate travel blog at http://diversionswithdoreen.com/. If you’re interested in her latest book, Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate, visit http://chocolatour.net/ for updates about the book, and chocolate tours, tastings and events. In addition to non-fiction books, Doreen also writes magazine, newspaper, and online articles and blog posts about travel, lifestyle, chocolate, volunteerism, and other topics for various publications. You can read some of her published articles on the “Samples” page of her static website at http://www.wizardofwords.net.
Okay, now it’s my turn:
Author Heather Grace Stewart
1) What am I working on?
I am excited to say that I’m currently “in final edits” on my adult fiction/women’s fiction novel, Strangely, Incredibly Good, with my publisher Morning Rain Publishing. Gosh, I love being able to say that! I got the best Christmas gift ever when they sent me a publishing contract for Strangely, Incredibly Good on December 23rd, 2013! I’m also thrilled that we haven’t revised much from my original manuscript. We’re just looking to clean it up and make it shine now. It is due to be launched on June 5, 2014.
When I’m not working on edits for that book, I’m coming up with the plot for my next book. I can’t say much about that. You’ll just have to wait. 😀
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I hope that people will say it has more humour than most other women’s fiction novels. I also hope they find it’s more of an escape. It’s about a woman who starts an exercise routine and discovers a genie in her Wii machine! It’s definitely fanciful, but that’s what I set out to do. I wanted it to be based in modern reality, but allow for the characters to escape that reality – and take the reader along with them on that fanciful journey. It’s more adventure packed than some other books that are considered women’s fiction, I think, but then, I didn’t write it specifically for women – I wrote it for myself, and my friends and family, with hopes that many people from diverse backgrounds, men and women, would pick it up and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write to entertain myself, first and foremost. It’s pure entertainment for me. When I’m writing a longer work of fiction like this, I’ve noticed the TV remains off for several weeks at a time, or, only one or two shows pull me in a couple times a week (I do need to watch some times to recharge my batteries after writing all day)!
The topics I choose to write about – in my poetry and in fiction like Strangely, Incredibly Good – are all themes I feel need more discourse in our society. I want to get people thinking and talking about these themes. Sometimes, I just want to poke fun of our society and get us all laughing at ourselves. Other times, I’m more direct, and I’m trying to incite change. This novel was really meant as an escape for the reader, and as a form of entertainment, but there are some themes and sub-themes in there I hope get dissected to pieces in Book Clubs across Canada and beyond. As long as you have some wine in hand and don’t take my book too seriously! The last thing I want is to cause cat fights at Book Clubs!
Side note: My main character’s name is Cat. This could get interesting. We could actually call debates over that character – debates over her actions and what they mean – Cat Fights.
See? I’m having waaaaay too much fun with this book. I may never watch The Bachelor again!
4) How does your writing process work?
The only hard and fast rule I have is to write something every day. If I’ve got a lot of marketing to do, or maybe I’m prepping a writing workshop like the one I just did at Queen’s University, I still set aside half an hour every day to write creatively. I don’t always like what I wrote, but I save it in a file, and work on it the next day, and the day after that.
When I was working on this novel, I got to my desk every morning at 7:30 a.m. and wrote until noon. That’s a little trick I learned when I read that Hemingway did that. Then he went fishing every day at noon. I choose to have lunch, Tweet, check Facebook, do yoga, take a walk, read, or do laundry! Then I get back to other work tasks.
The first week or so of writing Strangely, Incredibly Good, I just wrote. I didn’t edit at all. I tried to not even edit my sentences as I put them down, let alone re-read what I wrote and edit that paragraph or paragraphs. I just wrote. I had an idea, and I saw the beginning, so I wrote that. And then I kept going.
When I got to about 5,000 words, I took a look at what I had, and started plotting. I had cue cards, and a filing system, and filed items on plot, main characters, sub characters, etc. I plotted out how the story was going to end, but I did so in a vague way. My story wasn’t solidified yet. I still had to write and find out what was going to happen.
So, I got back to writing, and worked at a slow but steady pace. Some days I put down 1,000 words; other days, more like 1500. I never wrote beyond that because I never wanted my writing to sound tired.
Once I was finished my book, I spent weeks going over it and massaging it for language, plot development, and character development. Then I wrote up my query letter and started looking for a publisher. This is the first time I’ve found a publisher for my work this quickly. I sent my letters out in early November, and received this request for publication just before Christmas. It doesn’t usually happen like that, trust me. But it does feel meant to be.
This is one experience where I can say I’ve definitely enjoyed the journey, the writing, as much as the destination of getting published.
PLEASE visit the following three writers, who will be posting their answers to these questions next week, Monday, March 31, 2014. Not only are they talented writers, they have become dear friends. I feel blessed that they have become part of my life.
Joseph Hesch is a writer and poet who lives near Albany, New York. Many of his poems and stories are inspired by the spirit and history his 350-year-old hometown. But often, they capture the observations and feelings of a man who began to create verse and stories in middle age. His work has been published by numerous U.S. literary journals, as well as in anthologies such as Petrichor Rising, a worldwide collaboration with a small group of friends brought together on Twitter. Joe posts many poems and in-progress short stories on his blog, A Thing for Words A founding staff member with the dVerse Poets Pub community, and now a contributor to the Bardo Group, Joe has been named one of Writers Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer’s “Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow.”
Author Elisa Lorello was born and raised on Long Island, the youngest of seven children. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and eventually launched a career teaching rhetoric and composition. Elisa spent six years in North Carolina, where she split her time between teaching writing to university students and publishing her own work. She has since returned home to the Northeast.
Elisa is the author of Kindle bestselling novels Faking It and Ordinary World, Why I Love Singlehood (co-authored with Sarah Girrell), and Adulation. Faking It, translated in German as Vorgetäuscht, also spent three consecutive weeks at #1 on the German Kindle Bestseller List.
When not writing, Elisa is an unapologetic Duran Duran fan, Pop-Tart enthusiast, walker, and coffee shop patron, and she can sing two-part harmony.
Author Arianna Merritt, M.Ed, is a Canadian Psychotherapist (registration in progress), Author of ‘Stand Tall & Speak from the Heart: How to Find Your Way’ and the Founder of
Arianna’s Random Thoughts. The focus of her work is centred around issues of expressive writing, self-worth, and perseverance. Arianna empowers individuals to reach their full potential through finding their voices and sharing their stories. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website.