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Going Deeper with the Pacific Northwest Blog Tour

Ah, Monday. How you loom, dark and dangerous, ready to trap unsuspecting authors with a storm of work. But you are also full of promise, for the next week has potential. Potential to be amazing. I’m determined to make this week phenomenal. Part of this phenomenal week includes attending the launch party for one of my favorite authors, Camela Thompson. I mention this, because Camela is the reason for this post. She tagged me in a Pacific Northwest Blog Hop and challenged me to answer the following questions. So…here we go.

1. What am I working on?

The real question is, “what am I not working on?” I have seven different Scrivener files open right now. Let’s talk about the top three projects.

First, I’m working on s Christmas short story as a follow-up to In His Silks. It will cover what happens after the ending of the book and take us through New Year’s Eve. I hope to finish it next week and send it to my editor.

Next, I’m finalizing a prequel novella to A Shift in the Water. This will be a few chapters all about Cade and how he came to be alpha of the Bellingham pack. That should be available for sale by the end of the month.

And third, I’m hard at work on Revelations in Blood. The sequel to Secrets in Blood, this book takes us deep into the inner workings of the Conclave in Italy. I’d like to get the first draft of this finished by October 31st. But we’ll see.

2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?

I like to take typical tropes and turn them on their head. Or at least twist them a bit. Let’s examine the typical vampire myth. Vampires are dead. They don’t breathe. No heartbeat. Yet, they learn. They drink (both blood and often wine), and they walk around, run, even fly on occasion. Now, let’s think about how all of those things happen in a human. Your brain needs oxygen. Oxygen is carried in the blood. Without a heartbeat, this can’t happen. Speech is accomplished by the passage of air over your vocal cords. If a vampire doesn’t breathe, how can they speak?

So in Secrets in Blood, Nicola isn’t technically dead. He breathes, he has a heartbeat. He even eats real food, albeit in small quantities. My vampires were made by a virus that keeps their body in a state of near stasis. They age, but very slowly. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t love the traditional vampire mythos. I do. But it wasn’t right for my books. I wanted my vampires to be different. To stand out. I wanted them to be sexy and able to fit into society and accepted.

I also want all of my books to have strong, capable, kick-ass women in them. You won’t find a damsel in distress here. Sure, my heroines may occasionally need to be rescued, but more often than not, they’re the ones doing the rescuing. Also, I’m never going to put them in a dangerous situation because they’ve done something stupid. I liken it to horror movies. My heroines are never going to leave a well-lit cabin in the woods to go walking in a graveyard at night. If they’re going to the graveyard, they’re going to do it during the day and they’re going to have a weapon with them.

3. Why do I write what I do?

The trite answer is, “because I have to.” The longer answer is that I have stories that I need to tell. I have characters clamoring for time in my head and the only way to shut them up is to get their lives down on paper. I pull some inspiration from my own life. No, that doesn’t mean I’m a werewolf or a witch or a vampire. I use my feelings, my history, to influence my characters’ actions. For example, I ended up in a relationship once that was starting to turn abusive. Not physical, but emotional abuse is still abuse. I channeled those feelings when writing In His Silks. I put my own fears (and also desires) into my work.

4. How does my writing process work?

I could go on for hours on this subject. I usually come up with my initial ideas through dreams or while I’m running or swimming. I start with a single scene. Quite often, that scene doesn’t even make it into the final novel, but it’s a way for me to get started and get to know my characters. There are times when I know the characters and what they’ve been though, but I don’t know the plot that gets them there. Some authors are more plot driven and others are more character driven. I consider myself more character driven. I don’t come up with a plot and then find characters to match, I find characters and then work on crafting a plot that fits for them.

I do outline most of the time. I don’t always do it before I start writing, though. I love to whiteboard, because I can erase and start over any number of times. I don’t always stick to my outline, but it helps me know when I’m getting off track. Of course, I don’t always care that I’m getting off track, but it’s nice to know. I write quickly, usually, and though I know it’s not the conventional wisdom, I do tend to edit as I write. My typical schedule is something like this. Write one scene. Go to bed. Dream about said scene. The next evening, read through the scene and edit slightly. Then start writing the next scene. Rinse, repeat.

I’ve always believed that there isn’t one right way and one wrong way to write. You have to do what works for you.

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