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.
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
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.
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
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.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
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.
HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?
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?