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