Follow the Baton: A Blog Hop

baton passThe starter’s pistol has been fired and baton is in motion (virtually speaking), slapped from one writer’s hand to the next. I have received the baton from Heather Poinsett-Dunbar, a fellow author of a small writer’s cabal we both belong to. Heather has been featured here on No Wasted Ink. I hope you’ll check out her guest post where she speaks about her writing space.

Heather Poinsett-Dunbar is one of the co-creators of Triscelle Publishing, an up and coming independent press. She and her husband, Christopher Dunbar, have woven a finely knit universe where history and mythology have spawned fascinating characters and situations in a dark, seductive twist on what we know as reality: The Morrigan’s Brood series.

Now that I’ve caught the baton, I need to answer a few questions:

1. What am I working on?

My main writing project is a steampunk trilogy and I’ve been working on it since 2010. I’m currently in the early stages of revision of the first novel and completing my writing research about steam engines, Victorian customs and battles. The research and map making has been a real hoot, but I’m glad that I put it off until after I completed my rough draft.

I also write short stories. They range from science fiction, fantasy and creative non-fiction. So far, I have published three creative non-fiction stories (the third is due out in May). My sci-fi and fantasy shorts should be finding homes this fall. I will make announcements here on the blog as they are available.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write in my own artistic voice and my stories tend to be character driven. I’m self taught as a writer, but due to my extensive reading of science fiction and fantasy, I have a clear grasp on the troupes of these two genres. I like to take the rules and twist them a bit.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I have always been a science fiction and fantasy reader. I have read most of the major authors in the science fiction and fantasy genres and a great number of classic literature works. All of this colors my own writing, from the concepts I explore to the characters that I create. The only real surprise to me is the creative non-fiction I’ve been doing for the past two years. I never thought that I’d be drawn to writing memoirs. The first one started as a writing exercise, but I have continued to write more of them and find them to be a great deal of fun.

4. How does your writing process work?

I write every day. I don’t have an official word count, but between blog posts, comments, stories and whatever, I estimate that I’m writing 2000 to 3000 words a day.

My stories start out as brainstorming sessions with a fountain pen and a notebook. I like to brainstorm on paper because I feel it taps into my creativity in ways that the keyboard does not. Once I have a rough outline completed, I move this outline into Scrivener. Each bullet point of the outline becomes a new text file in Scrivener. It creates places for me to fill in the details of the story. If I need to move parts of the story later, it is easy to do within the program.

Strangely enough, I do not always write the rough draft in Scrivener. I will write in the program for blog posts and short stories, but I find that I have trouble writing my novel in the program. There are too many internet distractions that interrupt my train of thought in my home office. Instead, I take my Alphasmart Neo, essentially a digital typewriter, and park myself at the local coffeehouse to write my drafts. I schedule myself to go out once a day for around three to four hours in two week blocks of time. I have a goal each day of 2000 words of rough draft. I don’t come home until I reach that goal. If I can write more, I go for it until the muse stops speaking to me. When I come home, I upload the day’s work into the designated Scrivener file of the novel. I alternate these writing blocks of time with days where I stay home and work on blog posts instead. I find if I do the coffeehouse too often I burn out.

Once the rough draft is done, I begin the revision process. I submit the rough draft to beta-readers to get a feel of how the story is going. They point out plot holes and major typos to me.

I tend to do revising at home in my office. Hand in hand with revision is writing research. I do this at home because coffeehouse wifi is notoriously slow. I like to start a new Scrivener project at each revision pass. This means that I have the old draft stored where it will not be changed and I can return to it when I need to. I realize that Scrivener has a snapshot feature, but I tend to not trust it. I will have several versions of the novel when I do this. I make sure that I label each project with a version title.

Once I have revised for content, I then start the editorial process. I run each chapter through a couple of programs that check for passive voice, for adverb usage and proper nouns. These will catch the typo errors that are expensive for a copy editor to find and correct.

I still feel that there is a great deal of value to have a human editor go over my novels instead of relying on the software only. I hire one after I’ve run the story through my software. This means that there will be fewer errors to be corrected and this translates into savings on my editor costs. I do not use an editor for short stories. Because there is less return financially from them, I do not feel that it is cost effective to do more than ask for them to be read by beta-readers.

The last step is independent publishing. I have not gotten to this step with my novels as yet, but I hope to have the first of the trilogy out sometime in 2014. Fortunately, short stories simply go to the editor and I let them worry about the artwork and publishing.

Passing the Baton:

I will pass the blog baton on to three other writers that I hope you’ll enjoy discovering. Each one has a unique writer’s voice and I hope you’ll find them as interesting as I do. They will post their Baton Catch on April 7, 2014.

1. Author Thomas Skidmore
Thomas is an up and coming author. I’ve been watching his writing career with interest for the past year or two. He writes science fiction and fantasy. His latest short story, Unicorn’s Kiss, was published in eFantasy Magazine. You can see his science fiction novel on Amazon. It is called “Under the Moons of Lasaria

2. Author Mariam Kobras
Mariam and I have been online friends for a year or two. We met on twitter and later began to chat online. She is an accomplished author with several novels available. You can read her No Wasted Ink Author Interview or read more about her on Amazon. I recommend her Stone series, Mariam writes in a vivid literary style that draws you in.

3. Author Lori Nelson
I’ve known Lori for quite some time. We belong to several online writing groups together and we have a shared love of gemology. She will soon publish her first book, TORTURE. A memoir detailing an accident that turns into a relationship with an angel. Lori lectures on cruise ships, is an educator and gemologist. She enjoys dark chocolate and currently lives in Atlanta.

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