Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sisters in Crime September Sinc-Up

So I am a terrible multi-tasker when it comes to writing. I'm a slow writer, usually, and I also have a sort of obsessive focus on what I'm working on that makes it hard for me to switch gears and work on other things. That most certainly includes blog posts. It especially includes blog posts when I'm not traveling. Traveling for me is all about taking in the environment around me and reporting back what I find. It's about the only time that I'm able to blog somewhat prolifically.

Luckily for the theme of this blog, I'm going to China in a couple of weeks and should have fresh findings to report. I'm on a mission to sample as many different Chinese craft beers as I can. Wish me luck.

Right now I'm doing line edits on the book I just turned in, the third Ellie McEnroe novel, set in China. It was a hard book to write, but working on the edits is kind of fun, because I can actually appreciate more how the whole thing fits together, and how it works with the other two books in the series. As writers, we spend a lot of time thinking of things like this, but speaking for myself, it's always kind of a nice surprise when it actually works. Like, "Wow, I was more clever than I thought, there. Who knew? Actually, who did that?"

Apparently, me.

At the same time, I'm working on the first draft of a different book, the sequel to my second novel GETAWAY, set in the U.S. (a first for me). It's a very different book, with a very different voice and main character. So far it's been fun to write. Why the first draft of this book should be fun to write when the original was…well, let's just say a challenging experience, and for that matter, why Ellie #3 was a tough one when the Ellie book right before it was pretty much a lark, if I understood all that, I could probably write one of those "How To Unlock Your Creative Potential And Write Seriously Amazing Prize-winning, Best-selling Opuses (Opii?) That Will Be Read Centuries From Now" kind of writer's self-help books.

But I don't. So I keep chipping away at this first draft while spending far too much time staring at a sentence in the completed book and wondering how I can rearrange it to avoid repeating a word in the adjacent paragraph.

Also, I am developing the book I want to write after I finish line edits on Ellie #3 and the first draft of the Getaway sequel (which I'm right now calling "Go-Between"). This sort of germinal phase is pretty fun. It's basically is about collecting research and ideas without having to commit too much to anything.  I'm thinking about issues, about themes, thinking about characters, building their personalities and backstories, and also, about where I'm setting all this. I find that as a writer, I'm very much inspired and influenced by setting. It gives me that concrete grounding that helps me create the book in my head. I have to be able to see it to bring it to life.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I got tagged by Barbara Fister to participate in a Sisters in Crime blog challenge for the month of September. And both Barbara and Sisters in Crime are awesome.

I'm only dealing with one tiny bit of the blog challenge in this post (there's a lot of latitude), the part about my writing process (#4), and I think I kind of cheated on that one, to be honest. Here's the entire challenge:

Sisters in Crime has a blog challenge for the month of September. The idea is to respond to any (or all) of the following questions in a blog post:
  • 1. Which authors have inspired you?
  • 2. Which male authors write great women characters? Which female authors write great male characters?
  • 3. If someone said “Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?
  • 4. What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?
  • 5. Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your playlist?
  • 6. What books are on your nightstand right now?
  • 7. If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?
 So let me answer a couple of the other questions here.

3. Mutter darkly, walk away and search for the nearest bar

4. See above.

5. No, unless there are other distractions that I need to block. I used to play in a band, and I get too involved in music to focus well on writing when it's on. If I do play music, no words in English as a general rule.

6. ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE, by Randy Susan Meyers

7. See #3 above.
(Actually, to any new writers out there, if there are questions you have or advice you need, please let me know. Happy to help if I can)

Now comes the part where I'm supposed to tag another writer (or passionate reader, or book person). Rather than do that, I'm going to ask my cohort at Murder is Everywhere if any of them would like to respond.

You know what to do, Murderous Ones….

Lisa…every other Wednesday….


  1. Thanks Lisa. I really thought I was the only one in the world who spent ages twisting a sentence to avoid repetition!! I mean it seems so simple... but...
    Though now I just just delete and go again from scratch.
    Feel free to tag me if you wish!

  2. Go for it, Caro! Barbara's post has the instructions (er, a lot better than mine does)

  3. I'm so busy dodging ice-water challenges I almost fell into the Sinc.

    I know. I should stop. And yes, I rewrote the above sentence.

  4. Lisa, I am so much like you in attitudes (except that I can't write without music) that my responses would add nothing! It's comforting to me to know that I am not the only nut job who looks at her own work and wonders who wrote it.

  5. Stan and I have a similar problem. We look at a piece and wonder who wrote it. We each decide it was the other!