1. Which comes first, the characters or the plot?
For me, an idea occurs and that develops into a plot. I jot notes or have them running in my head for a time. I put myself to sleep at night telling the story and the only characters are he and she. No names, no physical description. Once I decide on the plot I go looking for characters. When I wrote The Temple of Fyre (New Concepts Publishing) a spicy fantasy romance, the idea began with opals that turned into fyrestones. Gems capable of starting fires if the user had the talent. Then I had to consider the temple and the priestesses arrived, but in general now specifics. Finally, I decided there had to be a rebellious priestess and a man who could help or hinder her and an evil priestess. Now it was time to create the characters.
2. How do you develop your characters?
I've written a bit about this in an earlier blog.
3. Do you make a plan or go with the flow?
I'm a planner. Once I have the idea firm, I develop my characters, explore the setting, decide on a time line and do any research that will jumpstart me. I'll do more research later as I need to refine what I'm writing. I answer the questions,
Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. This becomes a short synopsis. Then I write a chapter synopsis and on to the rough draft. I do several drafts and revisions. Though I have all the elements planned, the story remains fluid until all the drafts are done. Revision is where the story comes alive.
4. How much research do you do?
I happen to love research but I also know how I can be led easily from one fact to another and one book to another. Then I lose sight of what I'm working on. When I begin writing I do a general research, close the books and move on. While researching All Our Yesterdays (New Concepts Publishing) I made the plan and then researched each place only looking for what I needed to know. I slipped up a few times but managed to remain on track. I needed customs, dress, significant periods, jewelry, food and housing. Most of all I needed to stay on track. While doing the research, I often find the where and when of a story. When I'm tempted to look up something I don't need, I tell myself that research is a siren tempting me.
5. How do you select the character's goals and the reasons they want to accomplish them"
Most of my characters have several goals. These goals and their reasons for wanting them for me add pivot points to the plot. There are goals that they want in the world and inner goals to satisfy themselves. In the beginning the goals are general and this becomes more narrow and personal as the story progresses. A romance begins with the general wish of the hero or heroine for love and moves to the specific goal of a particular man or woman. The reasons are contained in the particular traits they have been given with both positive and negative traits, the obstacles they face and the secrets they hold inside. The secrets are a reason they believe their goal will fail. In On Opposite Sides (New Concepts Publishing), Jenessa, a widow, knows her marriage was less than wonderful and admitting this is hard when everyone believes otherwise. For Eric, his secret is that he was the supervisor in charge of the ICU where Jenessa's husband died and he was responsible for the short staffing. Jenessa believes this is the reason her husband died. Admitting he was at fault for his accident is another secret she must face
6 What are you working on at the present time? Do you work on more than one thing at a time?
The Dragons of Fyre is my current project. This is a spicy romantic fantasy. This is where I'm concentrating but I am doing a bit of work on another Seduction story, the third story in The Henge betrayed story and researching one with an Egyptian background. Since I write my drafts in pen and then type them into the computer, once I finish a draft of a story until all the chapters or scenes are typed in, I will work on a draft of one of the other stories. As well as being eclectic, I'm also a fragmented writer.
7 What's in the pipeline? Books that are contracted but not released yet.
A Silken Seduction coming from New Concepts Publishing
The third in the Jewels of Earda series coming from DiskUs Publishing
8 What does your backlist look like?
The latest is a short novella in Tales of the Jewels IV -- Woman Cast In Amber from Whiskey Press
From Mundania -- The Henge Betrayed -- Flight
From Zumaya -- Becoming Your Own Critique Partner written with Jane Toombs EPPIE winner in 2003
From Clocktower -- Shortcut To Love
From Hardshell Word Factory -- Obsessions and Come Into The Light
From DiskUs Publishing The Jewels of Earda -- The Quest For the White Jewel and The Brotherhood of Mages, Whispers Out of Yesteryear and Prescription For Love
From New Concepts Publishing -- Murder and Mint Tea, Requiem Murder, The Midas Murders, On Opposite Sides, A Minor Opposition, A Double Opposition, All Our Yesterdays, Gemstones, Heartthrobs, The Doctor's Dilemma, A Marriage --Inconvenient, A Savory Seduction and The Temple of Fyre