Writing Process Blog Hop

Blog Hop2Blog hops are a great way to share sites and bloggers we love and to be introduced to new ones we’ll come to love. I’m honored that Diana Jackson thought of me when she needed another blogger/writer to nominate. Until now, I haven’t been able to participate because of time issues, but she made it easy to say “yes” – I could pick my own date to continue the hop.

To begin my part of this Writing Process Blog Hop, I’ll introduce you to Diana. Then I’ll answer four questions about my writing and finish with three author/bloggers who will continue the hop.

Diana JacksonDiana Jackson

Diana became a lover of the written word in her late teens, not only reading but writing stories and poems. Although a home counties of England girl – born in Surrey, grew up in Hertfordshire and now living in mid Bedfordshire – her heart has never been far from the sea. When she discovered her family roots in the Channel Islands, UK, she began an unrequited love affair, especially with Alderney and Guernsey.

Murder Now and ThenShe has published several novels, as well as the memoir of 103-year-old Norman Campbell, The Life and Demise of Norman Campbell (his chosen title!). Her Riduna Series, Riduna and Ancasta Guide Me Swiftly Home are historical fiction with strong links to the islands and to Hampshire, where her parents were brought up. Her most recent novel is a murder mystery set in the heart of Bedfordshire. A sense of place is important in all of Diana’s novels and whilst writing Murder, Now and Then she enjoyed exploring the hidden gems of this little-known county which she calls home. She was originally inspired by a 1919 unsolved murder near the village of Haynes in Bedfordshire, UK, not far from where she lives. Murder, Now and Then is a back-to-the-future novel set in 2019, written with flashbacks to 1919. A sense of family history, or family mystery, threads its way throughout the novel, thus combining many of Diana’s interests. (Her books are also available in the U.S.)

You can meet Diana at dianamj.wordpress.com where she explores the background to her novel writing and selectionsofreflections.wordpress.com, devoted to true stories of life, love and messages of hope, including guest posts and stories of her old friend Norman Campbell. You can also find her at dianamaryjackson.co.uk, @Riduna on Twitter, and Facebook.

4 Writing-Related Questions

1) What am I working on?
My fantasy novel The Last Bonekeeper is in its first draft. While it continues to percolate, I’m working on a collection of short stories in the same universe. Writing these short stories has helped me understand the Bonekeeper world I created with its people, customs, and rules that govern it all. I’m also in the process of redesigning the book cover for This New Mountain, the memoir of private investigator AJ Jackson. Casa de Snapdragon Publishing used my suggestions for the original cover two years ago, but I’ve learned a lot about cover design since then. I want to bring more movement and relevance to it now.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Though it’s a classic tale of good versus evil, I believe I have a unique world in The Last Bonekeeper – its setting, characters, and a different take on magic. For This New Mountain, I wrote the memoir in AJ Jackson’s “voice” complete with clichés and country wisdom. What sets the book apart most is AJ Jackson herself – private investigator, ex-gun dealer, former mental patient, descendant of a great Choctaw chief, and grandmother.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I love to create my own science fiction and fantasy worlds and watch my characters move about and interact within them. One of the most exciting things is to have a character step off the path I’d planned for him. When that happens, all kinds of things are revealed, such as threads I hadn’t consciously thought of, secrets a character has kept hidden, or gems that make the story fuller and complete. On the other hand, This New Mountain was a twelve-year labor of love. I wanted AJ to realize her dream of sharing her struggles and adventures in a published memoir.

4) How does your writing process work?
When I sit down to create worlds, I see characters move through their world, hear their conversations, feel their emotions, and then transfer it onto the page. I start a fiction project as a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants), usually with only a visual of the world and a few characters, and the beginnings of a story idea. After two or three chapters I know where the story is going and how it will end – that’s when I start a flexible outline. I tend to edit as I go instead of pushing through a first draft without looking back. This means it takes awhile for me to have a completed draft. By that time I’m ready to put the project aside and start on something new. That’s where I am with The Last Bonekeeper and why I’m writing the short stories. Alpha readers, beta readers, and editors are also part of the process. This New Mountain, being nonfiction, was written in a more conventional way using outlines upfront to plan the memoir. For more about how I put the memoir together, see “Writing Readable and Compelling Memoir” on Diana Jackson’s blog.

Meet Three Other Author/Bloggers

Joyce_Hertzoff_PhotoJoyce Hertzoff

Joyce was born and raised in New York City, graduating from Queens College (a part of the City University). She’s been married for 49 years and has two grown children, one daughter-in-law, two granddogs, two grandbunnies, and three grandcats.

She retired after 45 years in the scientific literature field before turning her hand to writing fiction. Her first novel The Crimson Orb, the first installment in the Crystal Odyssey fantasy series, will be released on June 17, 2014 (Phantasm Books).

The Crimson Orb Cover2Besides writing, Joyce loves to read and knit, and also crochet. She admits to watching too much TV. When her husband retired in 2008, they moved from Ohio to New Mexico. Since then, they’ve enjoyed exploring the southwestern U.S.

You can find Joyce on her website at joycehertzoffauthor.com, her blog at hertzoffjo.blogspot.com, and on Facebook. Find out more about her book at fantasybyjoycehertzoff.com.

Peter_Mallett_PhotoPeter D. Mallett

Peter lives in Virginia not far from the ocean, but he can’t quite hear the waves from his home. He’s been writing since childhood. He also enjoys drawing, photography, and helping others with their goals.

He sold his first short story in 2002 to Kid’s Ark Magazine. Later, he sold two short stories to Tyndale Kids for “The Young Believer’s Case Files,” published in 2003. He’s been blogging since September 2012 and has written articles, short stories, greeting cards, and inspirational pieces. An article he wrote for his blog in January was later included in the Southwest Writers’ Newsletter (May 2013).

On his blog, Writing in Color, Peter expresses his thoughts on writing and encouraging people who want to write better for their profession or their pleasure. Many have encouraged him, and he wants to give back. He trusts in the power of words, but more importantly he believes in people. His writing style is lighthearted and encouraging. In fact, motivation and creativity are themes he revisits often. Some posts are short (300-600 words) and some are longer (600-1200 words), but he tries to make sure none of them are longer than they need to be. He says, “I take pleasure in shooting unnecessary words.”

Here are a few of his favorite posts:
Writing: For the Love of Words
A Tribute to People
What to Do on Dark Days When Words Do Not Come

Find out more about Peter at Writing in Color. You can also find him on Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Patricia_Woods_PhotoPatricia Woods

Patricia is a former award-winning journalist and editor. Her work appears in newspapers, regional and national magazines, academic journals and online publications. Her background also includes years as a classical pianist and organist, vocalist, choir director, and piano teacher to adults. She writes about business, personal finance, money management, small business, agribusiness, and occasionally on the arts, especially music. Working from home now, Patricia uses two ancient computers, dog-eared leather journals, scraps of paper and sometimes the cell phone. She’s been known to still employ a manual typewriter when the fancy strikes.

DeadBeforeYouKnowItShe is the author of several books including the newly released Dead Before You Know It (How to Tidy Your Personal Papers Before Your Time is Up), available at Amazon in paper and on Kindle. Dead is the first in a series of Helpful Little Books®, books that provide practical solutions to the daily problems of living in the twenty-first century world.

Writing daily in the morning and at every chance on the fly, she agrees with James Michener’s saying about writing: “I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”

“Everyone has a story to tell and that story continues right up until we take our last breath,” she says. She believes God is the Great Storyteller, and thus we are also Storytellers by nature in the very core of our being.

Patricia lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her family and a special needs dog who is deaf. She also has an imperious cat who owns the computer keyboard and all the pens in the house. Her spare time is devoted to books, music and all types of needlework while she watches endless BBC mysteries and dramas. Despite no real soil to speak of, scorching heat, springtime hail, locust plagues, and no rain from heaven, she grows heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables.

You can find Patricia at her website patriciaawoods.com and @PatriciaAWoods on Twitter.

When Diana Jackson first tagged me for this Writing Process Blog Hop, I followed the links back to the others who came before me and found new bloggers to follow, all with a unique way to approach the writing process. I hope you’re inspired to do the same.

What are your experiences with blog hops? If you’ve never joined one, have you ever thought of starting one yourself?

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Lots of Breaking News

We just received news that This New Mountain, a memoir of AJ Jackson, was chosen as a finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the biography category. Winners will be announced on November 16, 2012 at the 6th Annual Awards Banquet to be held in Albuquerque. We’ll let you know how it all turns out.

Rhythm of My Heart by Frances Fanning (another book released by our publisher, Casa de Snapdragon Publishing) was also chosen as a finalist – in the first book category.

Thank you Casa de Snapdragon for your hard work, and for all you do, for your authors.

Today, September 28, 2012:

If you get a chance, come on by and say “hey!” to AJ and I at our book signing for This New Mountain. We’ll be at Hastings Books on the southeast corner of Lomas and Juan Tabo from 5:00-8:00 pm.

Next Signing:

October 19, 2012 • 5:00-8:00 pm • Hastings Books, 6001 Lomas Blvd NE (Lomas/San Pedro store, 505-266-1363)

Coming Up in January, 2013:

  • A book signing at Moby Dickens Bookshop in Taos
  • A book event at Bookworks in Albuquerque

Hope to see you soon.

Our First Book Signing

l to r: AJ, Cate, and Janet Brennan (Managing Editor at Casa de Snapdragon Publishing)

We had our first book signing for This New Mountain on Friday, August 24th. It was great to have so many friends and family come by to support us. Some well-wishers bought books for themselves or as gifts for others, some came to have their previously purchased books signed, while others just dropped by to say hi and chat. Thank you to all who came and cheered us on – you helped the hours fly by and chased away our nervousness with your friendly faces.

In case anyone missed this book signing, we’re scheduled for another one on Friday, September 28th from 5:00-8:00 pm at the Hastings on Juan Tabo (southeast corner of Lomas and Juan Tabo). Hope to see you there next month.

Thanks again!

Breaking News: E-book Formats and More

For all those waiting for the Kindle and Nook editions of This New Mountain – they’re here!

Thanks to the hard work of the managing editor of Casa de Snapdragon Publishing, AJ Jackson’s memoir is now available in several e-book formats, with Apple and Kobo books to follow soon.

Books-A-Million has been added to the list of online booksellers in the United States who sell the paperback version of This New Mountain. Internationally, readers in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Norway, Sweden, India, and Italy can now order the book from their online stores as well.

We want to thank all those who already ordered our book. Don’t forget to come back and let us know what you think of AJ Jackson’s adventures.

Thank you!

Using and Choosing a Pen Name

In many cases, using a fake name is considered illegal or at least dishonest. But doing so is a common practice among artists like actors, musicians, and writers.

Famous authors have used pen names for different reasons for hundreds of years (if not longer). There was a time when women writers weren’t taken as seriously as men, so they often assumed men’s names if they wanted to be published. Sometimes an author used a different name for political reasons, like not wanting to be imprisoned by a particular government (French philosopher Francois Marie Arouet wrote as Voltaire). Stephen King’s early publishers didn’t want to saturate the market with too many of his books, but King wanted to keep publishing so he wrote under the name Richard Bachman.

Other good reasons to use a pen name include: the author doesn’t like their real name; the name doesn’t fit the genre the author writes in (female names sell better in romance, male names in business books); and separation of an author’s works when writing in more than one genre.

This last is one of the main reasons I chose to use a pen name for This New Mountain. I don’t plan to write another memoir, but I do hope to have my science fiction and fantasy work see publication. When it comes time for that, I’ll use my married name, KL Wagoner. But I don’t want future readers to think This New Mountain is anything other than a memoir, and so I took into consideration my later plans for publication.

There is one more reason I chose a pen name – the writing style for AJ Jackson’s memoir is very different from any of my other work. See my earlier post on the voice of the memoir. Again, I don’t want readers to get confused in the future.

The process for choosing a pen name can vary even more than the reasons for using one. Some authors simply take the initials of their first and middle names and add them to their last name (Joanne Kathleen Rowling aka JK Rowling). Others use the name of a relative, a friend, a pet or a combination of any or all. Maps are a great place to find a pen name, as well as characters from favorite books. But a pen name should be chosen as carefully as choosing the name of a character. The author of a crime novel won’t pick a silly, girly name and the writer of chic lit won’t choose an uppity sounding one.

As a child, I accepted my maiden name because it belonged to my father and I didn’t have a choice, but it wasn’t long before I learned that having a last name that rhymed with tick, lick, etc. (a fact which silly boys couldn’t help remind me of on a regular basis) had its disadvantages. So using my maiden name was definitely not on my list of favorites.

For Cate Macabe, I picked a variation of my real first name. As far as the last name, I’ve loved the sound of it ever since being introduced to someone years ago with the same name. I even have a character named McCabe in one of my unpublished novels.

Settling on the spelling of my pen name took careful consideration as well. In researching, I discovered dozens of Kate McCabe’s around the world, including artists, actors, and a published author. To simplify things, I decided on a different spelling. Changing the name at the last minute from Kate McCabe to Cate Macabe caused headaches for my publisher, but a certain amount of flexibility is one advantage to being associated with a small, traditional publisher (and for this, Casa de Snapdragon deserves a big, gold star).

There is a chance I will sign the wrong name one day if someone asks for an autograph. And I might stare blankly for a moment at a person who uses my pen name in conversation with me. Maybe neither of these scenarios will come to pass if I practice my signature and try to get comfortable with being…[cue loud and inspiring music] Cate Macabe, Author.

If you had the chance to choose a new name, what would it be?

Breaking News

This New Mountain is now available to order on Amazon!

This New Mountain final cover

Final cover: This New Mountain

The folks at Casa de Snapdragon Publishing told us things would move quickly at a certain point – and they certainly have. After months of going through the too-slow (but necessary) process of proofing and tweaking the manuscript and front/back covers, the final-final-final proof was approved last night…and today AJ Jackson’s memoir is ready to order. Amazing.

Availability at Barnes & Noble will follow in the next few weeks, with e-book formats coming out sometime later this summer.

Thank you-all for your patience. We’ll keep you updated as book signings and other special promotions are scheduled.

Welcome to the Home of This New Mountain!

After working for twelve years putting together AJ Jackson’s memoir, AJ and I are excited to announce the upcoming publication of This New Mountain by Casa de Snapdragon Publishing.

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

        “Just go ahead and shoot me,” I told the sneering young man who held a gun pointed at my chest. “I’m an old lady and I’m tired. You’d be doing me a favor.” I wasn’t all that old, but I was cranky. “I don’t want to die in some nursing home, so why don’t you just go ahead and pull the trigger.” I stared the guy right in the eyes and waited. His baby-blues narrowed, his forehead furrowed. He didn’t shoot, so I turned my back on him and continued hooking up the rear of his pickup to my tow truck. It had been a helluva long day so far, a helluva life….

        Like most private investigators, AJ Jackson has more than one foot in the fire to make ends meet – driving a tow truck and serving legal documents for local law firms. But not every PI is a mother of four, a grandmother of ten, an ex-gun dealer and former mental patient, or a descendant of a great Choctaw chief. This is a memoir of Vinnie Ann “AJ” Jackson, a country girl with a go-to-hell attitude who must face her fears in order to keep her sanity and make a future for herself.