Sunday, June 8, 2014

Yolanda Wallace stops by to play in the "My Writing Process" blog tour.

I'm hosting my friend and fellow writer Yolanda Wallace for the "My Writing Process" blog tour.  She also writes under the name Mason Dixon.  So, without further adieu... 

My Writing Process
I was invited to participate in the #MyWritingProcess blog tour by fellow author R. E. Bradshaw. Every author answers the same four questions about her or his writing process and then tags someone else to continue the blog tour.
These are my answers:

#1 What am I working on?
I just finished proofreading my July and August releases, The War Within and Charm City. The two novels couldn’t be more different. The War Within deals with two seventysomething women who originally meet as Army nurses in Vietnam, part due to societal pressure, and encounter each other again forty-seven years later. Charm City, written under my Mason Dixon pen name, charts the adventures of a bare-knuckles boxer and an undercover cop on the gritty streets of Baltimore. My current project, when I can finally find the time to get back to it, is Feat of Clay, a period piece loosely based on the life of Alice Marble, the 1930s American tennis star who acted as a spy for the Allies during World War II. Feat of Clay features two female tennis players, one American and the other German, competing on the court, falling in love off of it, and trying not to become enemies as their countries edge closer to waging war.

#2 How does my work differ from others in the same genre?

Early on, my editor gave me a wonderful piece of advice. She told me to forget the occasional flights of fancy to which I was prone at that time and focus on real people with real problems. Since them, I have strived to make my characters as close to “normal” as possible. I want them to seem approachable. Like people the reader would want to strike up a conversation with if they passed each other on the street. Though romance novels are often viewed as escape mechanisms, not every protagonist needs to be independently wealthy, supermodel thin, or blond-haired and blue-eyed.
My varied locales set me apart as well. I don’t like to limit myself to one particular part of the country when I choose a setting. When I was in college, an amateur palm reader told me I wouldn’t travel much and I made it my mission to prove her wrong. My books, therefore, are just as peripatetic as I am. To quote the tag line from my business cards, I want my readers to “go between the covers and take a trip around the world.”

#3 Why do I write what I do?
Writers write because they have to write. Sometimes, writing feels equally as important as breathing.
I began writing because, like most fan fiction aficionados, I wanted to spend more time with a few of my favorite characters and, in some cases, give them the happy endings they didn’t receive the first time around. I began with short stories and gradually progressed to longer works. I gravitated to lesfic because I had been a fan of the genre ever since I read Rubyfruit Jungle in high school and I wanted to try my hand at creating strong female characters like the ones in RJ and the other books I devoured in the years since. Writing was a hobby. A much-needed outlet I performed in my spare time to put the doldrums of the work day behind me. It still is.
Standing in the LGBT section of my local bookstore several years ago trying to decide which book to buy, I never dreamed I would one day return to the store and see my books displayed on the shelves. I feel a responsibility to my readers to make sure each of my books is just as good as if not better than the one that came before. That’s the goal, anyway.

#4 How does my writing process work?
I read incessantly. At the dinner table. In my office at lunch. In the loo while I’m…Well, you know. I can get an idea from anywhere—a newspaper article, a headline in a magazine, or a throwaway comment in a movie or TV show. I carry a notebook with me at all times just in case I see or hear something that sparks my imagination. Sometimes, though, as was the case for my 2015 release Love’s Bounty, characters break into my dreams at night, fully-formed and demanding that their stories are told. The onus then falls on me to put their lives on paper to their sometimes exacting specifications. When that happens, I feel more like their conduit than their creator, which drastically reduces the amount of time I spend staring at a blank computer screen wishing the words would magically write themselves.

Authors I’m tagging:

Donna K. Ford and fellow Lambda Literary Award finalist D. Jackson Leigh

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My writing process...the blog tour.

I was invited to participate in the #MyWritingProcess blog tour by fellow author Barb Winkes. Every author answers the same four questions about his or her writing process and then tags someone else to continue the blog tour.
These are my answers:

#1 What am I working on?
 Colde & Rainey
I just published the fourth novel in the Rainey Bell Thriller Series, Colde & Rainey. We are renovating our house. In between tearing out plaster and lathe, I’ve been working on a short story. I’d like to keep the details quiet on that one for the time being, but I will be moving on to several projects I’ve had in the works for some time. This summer, I hope to complete the Civil War novel based on the life of my family member, the original Rebecca Elizabeth Bradshaw. The jury is still out on whether she was a lesbian or not, but like the characters in my other novels her sexuality does not define her. Her incredible life was told to me by my relatives, who exclaimed often, “You are just like Decky Bradshaw.” I can only hope I have the courage and fortitude she left as her legacy. Toe to toe with General Sherman in April of 1865, Decky Bradshaw’s actions were heroic and worthy of being remembered. The war she fought was not for her country, but for her family’s survival.                              
#2 How does my work differ from others in the same genre?
I have written in several genres; romance, romantic comedy, mystery, thriller, and dabbled in historic fiction. When asked what I write, I generally answer mystery/thriller, as I have more of those than any other genre. I’m not sure that I’m all that different from others on that shelf, at least I hope not. As opposed to most thriller  protagonist, mine are always women and lesbian, but those are simply descriptive terms and not the essence of the character. Like John Sandford’s Prey series main character Lucas Davenport's family is important and we see him interact with them, but the criminal investigation is paramount. I’d like to think that my character’s sexuality is no more integral to the story than Lucas’s. As we advance into the post DOMA world, characters, particulary in the gay and lesbian fiction categories, will change with the political climate. There will always be homophobia, just as race discrimination still clings in portions of our society, but we will move on to novels that don’t require a sexuality label on our genre fiction. “She has a wife” will mean no more than “she has a husband.” I try to write that way now, ignoring the pulp fiction roots of lesbian literature, and moving on to an assumption that thrillers with lesbian protagonist should sit on the same shelf with Patterson, Cornwell, and Sandford.
#3 Why do I write what I do?
I have a vivid imagination and time on my hands. I was in that state for much of my childhood. I spent a lot of time alone, reenacting the scenes from the copious amounts of books my mother provided for us. Before we could see over the counter at the library, my brother and I had library cards, and spent many hours attempting to read all the books we could reach.
I explained to someone recently that life passes in front of me in moments, and that at anytime I am subject to pluck a moment from time and create a story in my head about it. Strangers have played out there lives in my imagination, for it seems my mind is constantly in need of a good story. Attention Deficit Disorder plays a huge part in that, and instead of a curse, I see it as a tool to creating worlds of my imagination.

So, when a moment passes and my mind creates a compelling story, I write it. The romances were generally generated from song lyrics; the Decky and Charlie adventures from living with the funniest woman in the world. The Rainey Bell Thrillers can be explained by my lifelong obsession with criminal investigation and behavioral analysis. It also explains why, while in New York and passing a large suitcase on the trash pile at the curb, I immediately heard a voice say, “There’s a story in that bag and probably a body.”
#4 How does my writing process work?
I begin with characters. I’ll see them in my mind and hear their voices. No, I’m not insane, but I do listen and watch as my mind plays out scenes for me. When I understand what it is that character wants to say, I begin to write. I generally know where I’m starting and ending, but I fly by the seat of my pants in the middle. The Rainey Bell series is a bit different, because I have to know where and when to plant the clues, so a pathway is essential. With the other books, outside of the mystery genre, I let them take me where they will. Sometimes the story will stall out or reverse course. If the writing doesn’t come easy, then I know something is wrong. I can struggle for days and then get hit with the answer while washing dishes.
I am fortunate that writing is my job. I write everyday. It may not be for a book, but I write. When a novel is coming fast and furious, I am subject to binge write. I have to watch the clock and force myself out of the chair every two hours for exercise and nourishment, but I will write for weeks on end. My wife, whom I appreciate beyond measure, assumes all responsibilities for our household during these weeks, as I am unable to vanquish the hold the fictional world has on me. To break away to reality is out of the question, because I must know how the story unfolds. I eat, sleep, and breathe with my characters until the tale is written. 

Authors I’m tagging are fellow Lambda Literay Award Finalists: Yolanda Wallace and Marshall Thornton
BOYSTOWN 6, From the Ashes by Marshall Thornton

Murphy's Law by Yolanda Wallace