Writing a novel is a time-consuming, emotionally draining and often lonely job. As a wanna-be-published writer, some days I wonder if I am crazy for trying to write a novel, especially given the daunting task of snagging a publishing contract and then marketing the darn thing if and when it is published. It was on one of those doubting days that I was invited to participate in this blog tour. (This is my first invitation to join a blog tour. It’s like being in high school and some cool kid finally notices you and invites you to a party. You mean me? Really? Yipee!)
The My Writing Process blog tour aims to direct readers and writers towards new books and friends. When you are invited to participate, you simply answer the four questions below and then pass the torch on to three fellow writers.
But, first of all, a big Thank You to Donna L. H. Smith, who nominated me for the My Writing Process blog tour. Do take a moment to check out her website.
And now, without further ado, let the tour commence!
1) What am I working on?
I spent the last year and a half writing a historical suspense novel, working title The Jackal’s Prey, which I have just sent out to beta readers. While I wait for their input, I am concentrating on some smaller projects.
One of those is focusing on my blog: everything from reevaluating my purpose statement, to learning a little more about html to reading the advice of expert bloggers (and actually applying some of it!) I am also trying to figure out where my niche is within the blogosphere, which means I’m trying to find, and follow, some blogs similar to mine. (Easier said than done.)
In addition, I will be writing several drama sketches for an upcoming Christmas outreach event, and dusting off a melodrama I wrote several years ago, in order to actually submit it to drama publishers. (It was staged again last spring and the actors all encouraged me to pursue this.)
And then there’s the idea for my next novel, simmering away in the back of my brain—a historical mystery featuring a brother-sister duo, set during the time of Acts.
2) How does my book differ from others in its genre?
Most Christian historical fiction set in the first century feature some character mentioned in the Bible. Either the author takes an obscure character, like Barabbas or the man born blind, and weaves an interesting story about them, or the author brings a cast of fictional characters into contact with Jesus himself. I enjoy these books, but I wanted to do something a little different.
My book is set just after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, which means it occurs after the events described in the gospels and Acts. This must have been a tough time for Jews (the ones who survived), because they faced increased persecution and surely wondered where God was in this disaster.
My two main characters are a young Jewish man whose world has been turned upside down by the war and its aftermath, and a retired Roman centurion who fought in the war and has a personal vendetta against Jews. What would happen if the Jewish man is unjustly enslaved and finds himself serving the Roman soldier? And, how might that relationship change if the young Jewish man becomes a Christian? And what if that new outlook enabled him to work together with the Roman he once hated in order to overcome a common enemy?
Some of my competition. How intimidating
3) Why do I write what I write?
Mostly, I am writing the kind of book I like to read. I have loved reading historical fiction since before I knew that’s what I was reading, so it’s only natural to attempt writing a historical novel, despite the extra challenges that poses. In addition, I have a passion for learning about first century history because it informs the context of the New Testament.
I prefer action and suspense to romance, so I wanted to write a book for others who would rather skip the mushy stuff and get on with the plot. But I’m not writing breathless action with cardboard characters. My hope is that readers will identify with the characters and their struggles despite the differences in time and culture, and be challenged to consider the truths my characters wrestle with.
4) How does my writing process work?
I have read several different books on “how to plot” and they all make sense—until I try applying a given method to my story. That’s when I get frustrated and decide to stop obsessing over it and just keep writing. For this novel, I started with a timeline on a large piece of paper that covered the dining room table. I added Post-it notes for events that needed to happen, starting with the major turning points, then filling in possible steps to get from one to the next. I also included notes listing the various questions I had about those events or their implications. This gave me enough of a plot outline to begin writing.
I also made character sketches of all the important characters, including physical description, temperament, issues, fears, dreams, and pertinent backstory. I started there, but as the story took shape, the real character emerged and I adapted as needed.
Somewhere along the line I ran across the advice, “never go with your first idea.” (Orson Scott Card, I think.) I have found this to be true in my writing, as my first attempt at a novel can prove. Whenever I am not sure how to get from point A to point B, what works best for me is to write down every possible scenario I can think of, no matter how stupid or far-fetched. Usually, as I am jotting down the fifth or sixth idea, I find one that makes strategic sense and go with it.
Thanks for reading!
Now I will pass the ‘torch’ on to three other awesome writers and bloggers. They are: