I get asked about my writing a lot, about plots, and how I come up with character names, and the characters themselves and just about my creative process as a whole I guess. With some of these questions I have trouble answering on the spot. Being a writer, I have a much easier time writing than speaking, so I thought I'd take the time in this blog to think about some of the questions I've been asked in the past and in a roundabout way try to answer those questions in a much more eloquent way than I might have when I was initially asked.
So the plots for my books come to me incredibly disjointed. I generally start out with a very simple paragraph or two and then I write around that. Usually this comes in the form of some romantic notion that gets stuck in my head, or a song I heard and wanted to elaborate on, and on very few occasions, a dream. I'm also a very observant person, and people watcher, so when I see an interesting looking person or a person that looks like they should be in some kind of paranormal or romance book, I make note of their appearance and try to add them in somewhere. I have never, ever written anything completely in order. I have also never started a book with the entire plot in my head already, though I came pretty close with the one I'm working on right now. Sometimes, a certain idea just gets stuck in my head, and for whatever reason I can't let go of it, and I want to know more, but don't necessarily know what to do with it. This is usually when I go to my best friend, Katie, and we brainstorm. It used to be I would call her up and we'd go out to dinner, me with notebook in hand, and talk for a couple of hours. I'd tell her what I already had, what I want and then we would go back and forth throwing completely random ideas at each other, while I write furiously, until something caught and I would run with it! Of course because she now lives in Nashville I have to settle for long phone or Skype conversations, but it still gets it done. Katie is a songwriter herself (who could very easily write her own book though she disagrees), reads even more romance and paranormal books than I do, and knows my head better than I do sometimes. In fact if I'm being honest we pretty much have a psychic connection, so it's basically like having a long conversation with myself! Ha. She'll be reading this laughing out loud pretty soon, because she knows it's true. I am also a pretty awful speller (which I've heard is not uncommon among writers, oddly enough) and my punctuation is atrocious (which you've probably noticed in this post alone), so she, my mom, and my friend Erin are the ones that read over my stuff and catch a lot of errors for me.
When it comes to character names, the names that usually come to mind first are names of people I already know, which usually I try to steer clear of, because I want my characters to be completely original and not unintentionally like someone that already exists. Of course I have made exceptions, occasionally using a friend's middle name. And I actually used Katie's name as my main character for Pure, though not necessarily because it was her name. I can't say much on that front without giving something away. hehe Most of my names come from brainstorming, babynames.com, or some website found on google.
When creating locations I almost always make up the names of cities entirely, because if I'm being honest I don't want to have to rely on a location to dictate what I can write. So I make it up, giving me complete freedom. I do however use actual regions, and sometimes actual places I've been to and have inspired me. For example, the home that my main character moves into in Pure is actually based off of my grandparent's old home. It's the exact same floor plan, though I renamed the town, and changed a little bit of the scenery around the outside of the home.
One of the quickest and surefire ways for me to get a lot of writing done, especially in the south, is when it's raining, or on those rare occasions that it's actually cold. I get my absolute best writing done in Pennsylvania when it's snowing! I don't know why my creative process is so closely intertwined with weather, but it definitely is. I also tend to base the books I'm writing around the time I start writing them and am most inspired. So Pure, and it's sequel Dark, were both written mostly during Christmas breaks, and both take place during winter. My favorite parts in each of those books were written while in the snow in Pennsylvania. Of course I don't get to make it up there very often, so sometimes any change in scenery will do, even if that means sitting for a couple hours with a cup of coffee in Starbucks.
Writing does, but also doesn't come easily to me. It's odd because when I'm inspired, and interested in what I'm writing, nothing can stop me. I can go for hours. But I also go months without writing anything of importance, because I just can't get into it. And as much as I wish I could sit down and make myself write, I think I get better writing done when it comes to me on it's own, rather than me forcing it. With that being said, one of the hardest parts of writing for me is remembering every little detail. Because I sometimes go for such long spurts of not working on anything, I forget stuff. And I don't have a very organized notes system. I have notes in my iPhone, my iTouch, various notebooks and tablets in my purse and apartment, on a back-up drive, and on my laptop. So when I add in minor details that need to be tied up at some point, I sometimes forget about them altogether until I go back and read through something and think "oh yeah! I was supposed to tie that into the end. Crap." I also have a bit of ADHD apparently, because I can't write one book from start to finish. Which is why I am so incredibly proud of the one book I have finished, Pure. It's currently 102 pages in Word, and 68,640 words. If bound in hardcover the way I want, it would be somewhere in the range of 300 pages. Not too bad for my first book. Of course I still don't feel like it's completed, maybe never will being the perfectionist I am, and haven't yet had anyone in the business read it. But I will! ;)
The best thing about being a writer? Getting to make crap up. I mean honestly, I've always had a wild imagination, and read every fiction and romance novel I could get my hands on, and being able to focus all of that creativity into something that enertains other people and might affect someone like those other books have affected me is kind of magical. I love visiting other worlds and having adventures, and falling in love, and flying, and casting spells, and fighting in battles, and so much more. This way I get to do all of that and anything else I want, visit any place I want, and create myself over and over and over again. How magical!