I have been working on the second story in the Chronicles of Tavara Tinker series with Bob Nelson. The new story is titled, The Sands of Time. I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. J
One of my favorite things about this series, aside from the characters and their crazy adventures, is the process of collaborating. Co-writing this series is a ton of fun. Our writing processes and the areas we focus on are completely different, which you might think would make it difficult to collaborate on a project like this. But in this case it actually makes it easier, because our processes and areas of focus actually complement each other so well.
Bob is more of a plotter and I am more of the pantser. So, we begin the process each time with a discussion on what we think the next story should be about. We brainstorm and ping ideas off one another. Then, Bob pulls together the appropriate historical data. He has an amazing amount of history and geography stored in his brain, but he likes to fact check the details.
The next step is usually Bob outlining the story action and doing a rough first pass. Then, I go through and fill in some blanks and add description, ground the setting a little more. While the series, which is Steampunk, is historical fiction (with a strong emphasis on the fiction part of that equation), we want the historical parts to be accurate. So, at this point I go into research mode on costume and architecture, furnishings and décor, etc. I will also flesh out the emotional arc and some of the character related aspects, like relationships, behaviors, and ticks. Then Bob goes through to make sure that the characters are all behaving true to form and that they have solid motivations for their action.
After that, I come back in and make sure that voice is correct, ensuring that the word choice and language for each character differentiates them and before I pass the story back to Bob. He will go through and make any additional checks for accuracy on the historical side, and add any other additional things that he wants to make sure are in the story, catch any inconsistencies that I might have either missed or added in.
After all that, I make a final pass, being OCD for grammar and punctuation, before it goes out to beta readers for feedback. I do one final edit based on the feedback received and then I send it back to Bob for the layout.
Because he totally gets my OCD editor side, I will get one more proofing pass for good measure before it gets published.
It’s not a quick process, since we both have so many other projects going at any given time, but it is fun and generally gives me a nice break from my other projects.
Look for the latest Tavara Tinker installment to be out by the end of July 2014.
I currently have several works in progress, all at various stages. My main focus, of course, is to finish the sequel to The Healer’s Legacy, which is being developed under the working titled The Matriarch’s Devise.
This has become an ever more more critical goal over the past year, as more readers have discovered The Healer’s Legacy and are asking for a sequel. People want to learn more about Kira and what she does next. This is both gratifying and terrifying, as I don’t wish to disappoint my fans. So, working on the sequel to the story, nor only brings up the same fears and feelings of inadequacy as any first draft, but also the added pressure of living up to expectations.
I have been told to relax, that my readers love the writing and the characters and the voice, and that they really just want to spend more time inside the worlds I have created. And some days I can I do that. I can let go of the worry and go back to writing the story for myself, and the writing flows. Other days, I stare at the keyboard until I can squeeze out a thin paragraph and call it a day. These are the days when my other projects call to me with sweet voices, telling me they will be easier. The characters whisper that they will behave and toe the line, making my job simple and fun.
They lie, you know.
They will pull me into their worlds only to make a sudden 180-degree turn when least expected, and I will have to follow behind, figuring out how to go back and adjust, how to go forward and finish. It’s not that we don’t care for each other. Like many artists, especially writers, I have with my characters, my stories, my unconscious writing process, a love/hate relationship. I think it’s necessary in a way. In order to create interesting stories, one must often find new ways to torment one’s characters. Unfortunately, the karmic kickback seems instantaneous and ever present, and during the writing and revision process, self-flagellation is practically a given. Is it any wonder we have chosen to call our works in progress WIPs?
“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”
The dust is just beginning to settle and I’m still recuperating from Phoenix ComiCon. It’s a lot of work to go and hang out in a booth and meet and greet readers and potential readers all weekend long, especially for a writer who really is an introvert at heart.
(NOTE: This list is subject to change at a moment’s notice at the whim of this reader. Also, literature is a subjective art form. What I like may not be what others like and what other like may make me want to pluck out my eyes.) (Ed. Note- Links go to Amazon pages for the books)