Monday, May 19, 2014

Baton Blog Hop

Jessica Topper, one of my favorite writers, invited me to participate in a Baton Blog Hop.   This particular hop asks each writer-participant four questions about his/her writing and work in progress.

Before I answer the big four, let me introduce Jessica. She’s the author of LOUDER THAN LOVE and the upcoming Much I Do about Nothing series for Berkley that will kick off early next year with DICTATORSHIP OF THE DRESS.

Jessica’s also my critique partner, and I cherish her insights. What’s more I consider myself lucky to have had the chance to read DICTATORSHIP as she wrote it. Like LOUDER THAN LOVE, it’s a romance that incorporates mainstream or women’s fiction elements such as family conflicts, divided loyalties, loss, and the necessity of moving beyond grief. The trademarks of a Topper read are humor, solid friendships, and rock music. Yes, rock music. Jessica works in the music industry and mines her behind-the-scene knowledge and love of music to make her stories sing.

While I'm glad Jessica passed the baton to me, it’s hard to hop with it tucked under my chin. Hey, I can’t hold it and type at the same time. Guess I’d better get to the four questions.

I’m polishing a story I recently finished about three people whose lives change when one of them is asked to watch a baby while its mama pops into a nearby restroom. The mama fails to return, and the story takes off.

I write women’s fiction, that is, stories about the issues, interests, and relationships that shape women’s lives. While I enjoy three-hankie reads, humor gets me through the day, and my characters rely on it, too. 

The term “women’s fiction” riles some people. I view it as shorthand for the kinds of complicated stories I like about women’s lives, but others see it as limiting. Read more about the debate here and here.

I write what I know. I’m a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. Relationships interest me, and so do the many roles women juggle.

I wish my process worked better. It hinges on a good (to me) first sentence and first paragraph. I sweat the beginning of each story, the beginning of each chapter, and the beginning of each scene. After I have a beginning I like, I fall into a groove. That first paragraph, though, may take me an hour or more.

It’s clear I don’t sweat over the beginning of blog posts the way I do fictional starts. Blog posts strike me as conversations, and I allow myself to wander a bit until I make a point. (And sometimes I never get around to making that point.) With fiction, though, I’m hyper-aware of the need to ground the reader in time and place, open with a hook, make the point of view clear, advance the story, and so on. No wonder beginnings intimidate me.

Enough about me! I’m passing the baton to the other critique partner in our women's fiction-writing  threesome, Kristin Contino. Her debut novel, THE LEGACY OF US, will be published by Sparkpress in September. Look for her Baton Blog Hop post Monday, May 26. 

No matter what kind of work you do, have you thought about your process? Do you get the distasteful or tedious stuff over with first or dive into the interesting stuff? Do you accomplish more in the morning, afternoon, or night?


Liz Flaherty said...

I like you process. And how you look at women's fiction. I'm always amazed when someone complicates it.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Liz,
It's too bad the term "women's fiction" scares off male readers because I think a lot of men would enjoy it if they gave it a chance. My husband looks forward to watching "Call the Midwife" on Sunday nights as much as I do. That television show is WF personified, which means it's "people's fiction" personified.

Thanks for the thumbs up on my so-called process.

Jessica Topper said...

Thanks for your sweet introduction, Pat! It's a mutual admiration society, as I have enjoyed and learned so much having you as a critique partner. And you've got a knack for great opening paragraphs, no matter how much blood, sweat and tears go into them! It's always so neat to peek in on other writers' processes.

Thank you for running relay with the baton, and for flying the Women's Fiction flag with grace, humor and great words!

Kristin Contino said...

Thanks for passing the baton, Pat! I'll try to do your post justice. And Jess is right, your opening paragraphs are always spot-on!

Jennette Marie Powell said...

Beginnings are tough because there's so much they must do. But I find endings to be the hardest.

I write at night, because I'm not a morning person and have a day job. Thanks for sharing your process!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Thanks for those kind words, Jessica. Did I fly the Women's Fiction flag? I'm glad. It deserves to be hoisted up high.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Aww, Kristin, thank you. I'm feeling smug and superior because I've got the next chapter of your WIP to read.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

I hear you, Jennette. Endings are tough. Once you've nailed an ending, though, your job is over. Except for revisions, proof-reading, sending out for beta reads, and so on. I'm tired thinking about those things.

Coleen Patrick said...

I accomplish more in the morning. Unless I'm in one of the fast and furious writing moments, then I can write until late at night. :)
I'm really intrigued by your premise, Pat!!

Karen McFarland said...

Okay, I'm going to try to comment again. Let's hope it worked!

Pat, getting started is the hard part no matter where you are in your story. But I say that not knowing exactly what I'm doing so you may want to take that with a grain of salt. (And please don't call the cliché' police on me.) lol.

And I love women's fiction, so I am waiting for you story to be published. Hurry up Pat!