Why I Write

March 10th 2014

My incorrigible, writer friend Stephen Kozeniewski tagged me in a blog hop. And while I typically bemoan these, I agreed to do it because, hey…it’s free content! and because he’s relentless.
Even though it’s not yet Passover, I will be answering The Four Questions…of Writing.

1. What am I working on?

I’m working on two novels actually. My first work-in-progress is a dual POV YA ghost story/mystery set in present day Key West, Florida. This book is fun to write and I’m loving the cast of characters I’ve created. Plus, Key West is one of the ten most haunted cities in the U.S. so the setting works perfectly. My second WIP is a YA historical mystery set in 1955 in Upstate NY in which an Argentine immigrant stumbles upon the dead body of her soon-to-be stepfather. She quickly learns that the man she loved like a father was not the good man she thought he was and that the detective’s list of suspects are everyone know she knows. I’m particularly proud of the concept and idea, but I worry about execution. It’s in the very early drafting stages, so only time, and a million revisions, will tell how this will all play out.

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

I’m not sure if it does really. That’s the great thing about writing YA, I feel like rules and strict genre norms are meant to be broken, so we all break them. YA seems to be a buffet of genre mashups and unconventional literary devices. My first novel, Grunge Gods and Graveyards, is a bit of a genre mashing. It’s a YA paranormal romance/mystery set in 1996. The time period is what sets it apart. I don’t care what anyone says, the 90s were the best decade ever (because of the music). The important part is that teenage angst and problems were the same in the 90s as they are today and the time period doesn’t make the book unrelatable at all. I’m amazed at how easily it is for me to transport myself back to 17 years old and relive some awful moments. But then I’ll hear a Radiohead song on XM and instantly I’m back to the fun moments of my youth too.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write because I’ve always written. Before staying home with my kids, I was a YA librarian. I live for YA books and I rarely read adult fiction anymore (which is not necessarily a good thing). I write YA because I truly love the books geared for a teenage audience and because I want to contribute to the literature. I also have a bachelor’s degree in history so I’m compelled to insert a historical setting or twist into all my work. Writing fulfills me in a way a traditional job never did.

4. How does my writing process work?

I’m constantly fine-tuning my writing process. Lately, I’ve really gotten into using the Snowflake Method. I’m not a details person. With Snowflake, I focus on the big idea, the big plot point, and then narrow down the finer points as I go through the steps. This works for me on many levels. For one thing, I can’t just wing a story. I’m not a ‘pantser.’ If I have no road map, then I’ll just sit in the driver’s seat staring at the steering wheel. I need direction and scene lists are my road map. Also, I find characters drive plot. So if I truly understand my characters, then somehow they lead me to major plot points without me having to think so hard. Details come after.

I must’ve revised Grunge Gods a bazillion times. I’m trying to save myself the time and inefficiency of doing that for any other novel I write. I have young kids. I need to write smarter if I’m to write another book before they go to college.

I want to thank Mr. Koz for tagging me. Stephen is the author of Braineater Jones, a funny, noir zombie novel set in the 1930s and The Ghoul Archipelago, a horror novel set on the open seas that would freak me out so badly if I actually read it (I have a weak constitution).

Up next is……my critique partner, Leandra! Her blogs posts are always a blast. She’ll post next week.

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11 comments on “Why I Write

  1. Jill

    “Iā€™m amazed at how easily it is for me to transport myself back to 17 years old” – oh yeah. I feel the same way. Somehow I think this is not entirely normal. šŸ˜‰

    Hooray to fulfilling work, too! It makes such a difference.

  2. Jenni Enzor

    I’ve used the Snowflake Method too. It’s one of my favorites ways of planning, because you go into the characters and their motivation, not just the plot.

  3. Marcia Strykowski

    Nice post! Your books sound interesting. I like how so many novels are set in different time periods, now. When I first started my Amy books and set them in 1973, everyone said it might be a hard sell. But, now, many authors are doing this, like yours 1996, 1955, and I think Eleanor & Park was 1986.

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