I was invited to a blog hop by Carolyn Hughey, author of such delicious contemporary romance novels as Dishing Up Romance, One Menu at a Time, and Catering to Love. By the looks of some photos on her website, where a dashing man holds her in an embrace and a big table is artistically set for a scrumptious feast, I’m guessing Carolyn knows what she’s talking, er…writing, about. So if you’re in the mood for a romance, feast your eyes on her work.
But not until you’ve read this post of course!
What’s a blog hop? A chance to introduce blog readers to new blog writers. And a chance for readers, in general, to peek into the writing lives of authors in general. In this blog tour, we’re focusing on our current work, how our work is unique from others in the same genre, why we write what we write, and how our writing processes work. I’d never been invited to a blog hop before, and I assumed I’d have to dress up in a pink poodle skirt, ponytail, and bobby socks. The problem was this: I don’t have a poodle skirt or bobby socks. I do have a ponytail, though.
And I do have a writing life. So that’s what I’ve posted about today. Read on, and be sure to check out some of my other writer friends’ posts. For culinary romance, check out Carolyn’s post from last week (June 2). If you’re interested in animals or relationships, read on to learn about Corbin, Beckie, and V.C. and visit their blog sites next week (June 9).
What I’m Working On
Ha! I’ve always got a few too many balls in the air. What’s taking up most of my time is the launch of my debut novel, The Damnable Legacy of A Minister’s Wife. The official launch will be on July 24 in the Seattle area, but there will be a couple of sneak preview events before that, so the book will actually be available to eager readers and reviewers later this month.
I’m also working on my short story collection. The working title has been Women Who Run Away: Stories and it’s about, well…women who run away. Or women who at least want to run, for various reasons. I’ve just finished another round of the manuscript and am hoping the entire collection will be ready for publication early in 2015. And there’s a new title afoot. Stay tuned for that.
I also teach therapeutic and wellness writing classes, and I’m embarking on a new training program to be credentialed as a Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator: 200 hours of didactic study, 120 hours facilitating workshops in my selected populations (domestic violence and cancer survivors, senior citizens, women in midlife transition, and stressed-out corporate America), 60 hours of peer group experiences, and 60 hours meeting with my mentor/supervisors. I think I may need to take my own Writing for Stress Management workshop soon.
And, because that’s not enough, I’ve got a couple of essays that really want to be sent out for publication, and I also have my sights set on resurrecting a novel I wrote nearly ten years ago that’s been languishing in the bowels of four separate computers since then. I won’t say exactly what it’s about, but if you like my novel and my short story collection, and if you’ve got a heart for animals, you’ll love that one too.
How My Work Differs From Others in Its Genre
To answer this question means I have to know what my genre is. Another ha! I’m saying my work belongs in the literary women’s fiction category. But it doesn’t fit that category–or any genre category–precisely, and that, I suppose, is what makes it unique.
- It’s literary–thematically, linguistically, and character-wise–but the pace is more like mainstream writing.
- It’s women’s fiction because the primary characters are usually women, and it tends to address issues that women wrestle with. But those issues aren’t necessarily exclusive to women, and men are known to have enjoyed my work too.
- It’s controversial, which is odd because in real life I’m a conflict avoider. The choices the characters make, the language they use, and their values–or lack thereof–may disturb some readers but intrigue others. In other words, the characters are flawed…like we all are.
- It’s natural. What does that mean? It doesn’t use artificial colors or flavors. Also, it incorporates the natural landscape in many of the stories, whether it’s the actual land and the animals that roam it or what those natural elements symbolize. If you love mountains and rivers or wolves and gorillas and centipedes (yes, centipedes!), you may very well be drawn to my work.
Why I Write What I Write
Now there’s a good question to ponder. Why do climbers climb? Why do divers dive? Why do lovers love? I’m not sure anyone knows exactly why she writes what she writes. Whether I’m working on fiction or nonfiction, my intentions are the same, and they’re applicable to myself and my readers: I write to educate, to entertain, to explore.
Life presents itself to us every day, and with every experience comes a new opportunity. Lordy, lordy. Let me tell you someday about all my experiences. Oh wait, I guess I am doing that, to some extent anyway, in my stories. And although the fictional stories and settings and characters often disguise the real life facts, the truths are absolutely genuine. In other words, I write what I write because I’m alive. And because I can.
How My Writing Process Works
Another doozy of a question. Which writing process? Creation? Perfecting? Sending it out to the world?
A process is a systematic approach to accomplishing something. I sort of have a process for creating a first draft. I have a more structured, but still flexible, approach toward research and revision. My process for publication has been evolving.
- First draft: Start with a scene, a landscape, a rough sketch of a character. Mold these elements into a loose story structure, a vague plot, and an attempt at an opening line, paragraph, chapter. Then, let it go. See where the story leads, see what the characters want to do. Strap tightly into the roller coaster and go for the ride. When the final sentence is written in the first draft, celebrate the elation and exhaustion. (Note, this is my favorite part of the entire writing ordeal.)
- Subsequent drafts, of which there can be many: Review the story for plot points; develop the characters; examine the dialogue; flesh out the landscape’s role; roll out or tighten up scenes. Figure out what the story is really about! Beware of excess baggage, and hit the delete button a lot. Watch out for lack of clarity and credibility issues. Write, read, edit. Rinse and repeat. Submit the work to writing colleagues for critique. Succumb to acute schizophrenia, in which one is unable to discern whether the work is brilliant or just plain crap. Eventually, spiral into a serious funk and eat a lot of chocolate and drink wine. (Note, this requires a great deal of strength and determination.)
- Research: Start by reading full books on relevant topics before beginning writing. Supplement that with Internet-based research while writing and revising and revising. Realize that half of the books initially read have nothing to do with the ultimate story and read a half-dozen more. At some point, interview experts and, when possible, visit the sites of the scenes or story, and try to convince others that you really know what you’re doing. Keep a running log on a separate document of facts to be checked and re-checked.
- Publication: various. Send it out. Get rejected. Send it out. Get rejected. Send it out. Get rejected. It goes on this way for a while. Send it out. Get depressed. Eventually I send it out and give up, or get it published, or decide to publish it independently, which leads me to an entirely new set of processes to systematically accomplish my goal. At some point I may offer the document to a family member to read. Or not. And then I have to market the damn thing, which is entirely beyond my comfort zone or the scope of this blog.
So there you have it. My writing life, my processes. Next week (Monday, June 9) you can check out the blogs of some of my other writer friends. They’re all quite different from me, and from one another. And they’re all fascinating women.
Corbin Lewars, M.Ed. is a developmental editor and writing coach based in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. She is the author of Losing Him, Gaining You: Divorce as Opportunity and the Washington State Book Award and PNBA nominee Creating a Life: The Memoir of a Writer and Mom in the Making. Her essays have been featured in over twenty-five publications including Mothering, Hip Mama and several writing anthologies. She blogs for the Seattle PI .
Beckie Elgin is a writer and RN living in Southern Oregon. She’s also a dedicated wolf advocate, and as wolves play a small but important role in my novel, I so admire her commitment to this beautiful and misunderstood creature. She is working on a novel about her life, melding fact and fiction to portray the intricate relationships between people and animals, as well as between people and people.
V.C. Bestor is another animal lover who travels the world to study women who save predators. She’s the founder of the Fanged Wilds and Women Program. She’s also the author of Pax of Wildly Women and the upcoming supernatural memoir Let Me Take a Stab at It. She blogs at Fanged Women.
Thanks so much for supporting the authors on this blog tour, and happy reading!