Blog Hop: Writing Process and other Navel-Gazing

“Writing Process Blog Hop”–every time I read that, my brain tries to turn it into a bunch of writers in a school gymnasium, engaged in scribal dance rituals. Considering how many of us (alas, me included) are out of shape from BICFOK (butt in chair, fingers on keyboard), there’s a lot of huffing and puffing and boob bouncing. Feel free to imagine me hopping while I type this. I promise, I’m wearing appropriate breast support!

But what is a blog hop, actually? We toss the term out like so many others and assume newbies and readers know what it means. Maybe some do. It’s not a complicated concept: a group of bloggers agree to a topic, someone writes a post, and tags other authors who’ve agreed to post, they post, lather rinse repeat. It’s actually more of a blog tree than a hop for authors. It’s the readers who (theoretically) travel from post to post to see what we all say. So readers, if you’re hopping, please dress responsibly!

PJ Fiala, who tagged me, writes family-centric steamy romances. Currently, she’s interested in mature heroes and heroines. You can find her post here and her books here.

The blog hop, like the Passover seder I wrote about yesterday, has four questions. And on this afternoon, I’m writing them reclining not hopping. If you have no idea what I’m on about with the reclining, you didn’t have a stentorian grandfather leading your seders. You probably didn’t have a seder.

For clarity, one of the Four Questions traditionally asked by the youngest person attending the seder is “On all other nights, we eat either sitting or reclining. Why on this night, do we eat only reclining?” The answer: “When our forefathers were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, they ate hurriedly, squatting or sitting on the ground. To recline and relax while eating was the privilege of royalty and nobility. On Passover, we recline as a symbol of our freedom.”

And now that I’m thoroughly off-topic (but hey, tangents are a prerogative of freedom!)… the four blog hop questions:

What am I working on?
Maintaining my sanity while I wait for reviews on A New Dawn. Not kidding.

Theoretically, I’m working on a sexy urban fantasy, currently titled “Blackbird”. It’s about TJ, an offbeat vampire heroine, who flees her courtly duties to solve the murder of a distant cousin. I’m also working on her sister Liora’s story, an arranged mating gone awry, that probably turns into a smoldering menage. That one’s for an awesome box-set called Pulse with a fantastic group of writers.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
That really depends on whether you see my books as erotic romance or paranormal with romantic elements, I think. Especially with erotic romance currently focused on gay men and BDSM, plotty paranormals are a bit outside the norm. As paranormal WRE, the romantic content, at least, isn’t unusual, although it’s probably a more explicit than most.

Overall, I’d say I’m more focused on diversity in my casts, not for its own sake but in a genuine attempt to reflect the world as it actually exists. Where I deal with cultures that aren’t my own–like the Hawaiian elements of A New Dawn–I research carefully and try to present them as coherent and relevant without fetishizing or reducing complexities to cultural mish-mash. I write to understand the world, so when I create a character, I try to learn about real people like them.

The other thing that’s distinct about my writing is the persistent Jewish elements and themes. You might ask what’s particularly Jewish about the goddess, Eostre, Easter holiday, and the god of internet porn, and it’s a great question. To answer it requires another post. (That’s a good idea. *pencils it in*) In short, though: identity and community, the implicit diaspora. In “Blackbird” and Liora’s’s story, it’s much more explicit. My vampire mythology is distinctly Old Testament.

Why do I write what I do?
Like I was saying, I write to understand the world and the people who inhabit it. I lean toward paranormals and speculative fiction because it lets me explore ideas of Other, difference, identity, community, potential, excellence, prejudice, power, privilege, hate, love, sexuality without preaching.

At the risk of being reductionist, I’d say I write what I do because I’m a Jew, wrestling with my angels and demons, still struggling with the legacy of the Holocaust. I’ve never been able to approach the topic head on; even as an academic, I focused on other oppressed groups. This is one more way of doing that.

As for the sex bits… aside from just liking sex, I think sex is a great equalizer. When you’re naked with someone, it tends not to matter who is smarter, wealthier, etc. And I’m fascinated by the issues of power exchange.

How does my writing process work?
I have a process? *snort* I’d go with “it doesn’t” or “dysfunctionally”, but an instructor recently reminded me that your process is your process, no matter how inconvenient and inefficient it seems. So…

My process is pretty haphazard. I have Scrivener, and I use it, sort of. But my outline and research and character notes end up in a dozen different documents and journals. I tend to write and rewrite the first sentence, paragraph, page, scene and chapter for weeks before getting any further. I absolutely have to write in order, and I can’t move forward until the beginning is “right”. Naturally, I end up rewriting the beginning about 2/3 of the time, but I’ve learned the hard way that if I can’t write a viable first chapter, I don’t know the story.

I also need an audience while I write. Scene by scene, I send it to a few readers to check me. If they don’t like it, it doesn’t stay in the doc. It’s the interaction and the encouragement that keep me going.

With A New Dawn, I seem to have developed a new, painful piece of process. Rewriting entire characters or plotlines about 2/3 of the way through. I could do without that part, but the books probably can’t.

All right, I’m done. I really hope you haven’t been hopping this whole time. If you have, I’m sorry I’m such a wordy bint. As a reward for your travails, next week, hop on over to the blogs of:

My bestie, Lily Edwards, author of Eostre’s Baskets: Kick the PastLily Edwards is charming and lovable, a true delight. At least, that’s what the novelty mug she had as a child claimed. As a responsible adult, Lily charms the masses through social media and internet marketing. As a less responsible author, Lily writes stories of hot men, independent women and wacky family antics.

Lily lives in Colorado where she enjoys her view of the Rockies, drinking enormous amounts of coffee, feeding the squirrels and talking about herself in the third person.

My sprinting pal, Dawn Montgomery, USA Today Bestselling Author of “Silver Tongued Devils” in Tall, Dark & Alpha
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Dawn Montgomery was introduced to reading by a grandfather with great character voices and a grandmother who showed her there were no limits to the imagination. Since then she was rarely without a book in hand. It wasn’t until she was stuck in a rut and unable to find anything she enjoyed reading that she decided to take a hand at writing. Since then she’s penned books she loves to read with characters who spark her imagination.

My spec fic pal, Belinda McBride, EPIC Award-winning Author of The Bacchi
Belinda is an award-winning, top selling author of erotic romance, speculative fiction and LGBTQ romance. She lives in far Northern California with her family and a pack of Siberian Huskies.

A graduate of CSU Chico, she managed to attend the notorious party school without once getting drunk, arrested or appearing in a “Girls Gone Wild” video. Her main focus of study was classical and archival history, cultural anthropology and theatre arts.
After several years in the workforce. Belinda purchased a laptop computer and from there, knew that her childhood dream of being an author would come to life.