Want to know what goes on in the mind of a published romance author? Have questions about writing romance novels? Curious about what kind of hands-on research I do for each book?
I’m starting a monthly feature where I’ll answer readers’ questions. And nothing’s off limits!
I’m starting off with a few questions I recently received from readers about my writing process…
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on so many factors… how long does it need to be… is it a book in an existing series or a brand new series… is it the only thing I’m working on or do I have other projects that are due soon… there are quite a few other factors that come into play.
Assuming I’m starting a brand new book that’s going to be about 80,000 words at completion, it typically takes me about 6-8 weeks to do the first draft. Sometimes it goes faster if the words are flowing and I can get enough uninterrupted BIC (Butt In Chair) time.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere! I can hear a snippet of conversation and it can spark an idea about a story. Or sometimes I’ll be listening to a song and a storyline will pop into my head.
That’s what happened with my book Sweet Tea & Second Chances. I was listening to Carrie Underwood’s song See You Again from her Blown Away album and I kept seeing these two people who had been childhood sweethearts. I took that idea and coupled it with memories of spending summers at my grandparents’ farm and the story flowed from there.
I’ve gotten other ideas from reading news or magazine articles, watching movies, and even just in conversation with my friends. All it takes sometimes is just a tiny seed or kernel of an idea. Then I start to play with it, mull it over, and start asking “what if”.
When you finish one book, how long do you wait before you start another?
That depends. If I’m under contract and have a looming deadline then I might start on the next book immediately after finishing the current one.
But I’ve found that taking a few days off to give my brain a break (and often times catch up on laundry and get reacquainted with my family) tends to work best.
I also like to recharge between books if I have the chance. Working on a craft project, getting caught up on my own reading, and maybe even making progress on a knitting or crochet project lets the tired part of my brain reset.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
This is one of those questions that doesn’t have a simple answer… LOL. For those of you who don’t know the lingo, a plotter is an author who plots out their books, or outlines their stories before they start writing. A pantser is someone who writes “by the seat of their pants” and dives right in.
I live somewhere in between the two and refer to myself as a plantser or plotser. One of the things I love most about writing is finding out where the story will go. The thought of planning out an entire book and not leaving anything up to the process of discovery sounds like a chore to me. But writing without any kind of roadmap sounds like a big ol’ mess to me as well.
Before I start a book I have to know who my characters are and what they want. Since I’m writing romance, I also need to know why the two leads are perfect for each other and what’s going to keep them apart until they realize they can’t fight the powerful pull of love.
So I start with a few key scenes in mind and then see where the characters lead me. I have the most fun with my writing when the story surprises me with a new twist or a character just shows up on the page. That’s when the magic happens.
Where do you like to write?
I do my best writing when I’m by myself. I’m so much of an introvert that if I’m around people I know, I’ll end up wanting to chat and distract them and then none of us will get any work done.
Most of the time I write in my office. It’s an awesome bonus room over the garage that I reclaimed from my kids when they outgrew the playroom. I’d post a picture but it’s always a mess. One of these days I’ll whip it into shape so I can share.
My absolute favorite place to write is at our tiny cabin up in northern Minnesota. There’s a bunk house with a minuscule screened-in porch. It has just enough room for a table to hold my laptop. Being surrounded by water and woods is good for my soul.