Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Guest Post and Giveaway with Kerrelyn Sparks, Pamela Palmer, Amanda Arista, and Kim Falconer

How writers write!

Thanks for hosting us today at United by Books on our launch day for Vampires Gone Wild, ourSupernatural Underground anthology with Avon Impulse. Kerrelyn Sparks, Pamela Palmer, Amanda Arista, and Kim Falconer here to hopefully illuminate the processes that went into writing our contributions..

We all have to start somewhere. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Kerrelyn Sparks: When I finished my first book.  Then I looked around on the Internet to figure out my next step, and I found Romance Writers of America.  I learned a lot through that organization.  That first book was never published, but my second one was.

Pamela Palmer: I never even thought about writing until I was out of school, working as an engineer for IBM. But I’d always been a reader and a daydreamer and one day one of my daydreams got too big to keep in my head and I felt driven to write it down. The rest, as they say, is history.

Amanda Arista: I’m going to agree with Kerrelyn and say it was when I finished my first book. I always dabbled in the literary arts, writing in spirals when I should have been studying. But I considered writing a hobby; it was that strange thing that I kept to myself. When I typed THE END for Diaries of an Urban Panther, I wasn’t the same girl who typed out the first line. Through the process of plotting, and character development and research, I realized that writing wasn’t just what I did, but who I was. It has altered the way that I look at the world. Mostly for the better.

Kim Falconer: I must have had a naive confidence (or arrogance) because I don’t remember ever thinking I wasn’t a writer! Plenty of teachers along the way begged to differ on that opinion, but I kept at it. Refused to give up. This is where my stubborn streak comes in very handy!

Since is sounds like everyone started off a bit different, tell us about your writing process. Do you have a different approach to short stories, novellas, and novels?

KS: My writing process is best described as procrastination, then desperation.  At least it feels like procrastination at the beginning, because I’m so slow to get started. I have learned now that it’s simply the way I work. While I’m procrastinating, my mind is getting to know the characters. Once I know them and what they’re trying to accomplish, I can jump into the story.  

PP: I figure out the characters and the story before I start writing. Then, I write the first draft quickly. Once I have the story down, I revise as necessary. I’ve never written short stories, but I approach novellas and novels roughly the same way. Novellas generally require less prep time since the stories are, necessarily, less complex.

AA: With novels, I’m a total panster. The characters are hard-wired into my brain and I just write what needs to be written. But with a short story, I really needed to boil things down to the bare bones. So I used a simple story arc and plotted out a few points first, because I didn’t have time to meander around the world for very long before we needed to get to the meat and potatoes of the story.

KFNot really. I basically brainstorm, write, edit, repeat. In some ways short stories and novellas are more challenging because everything I’m used to expressing over a hundred and seventy thousand words is condensed into fifteen thousand words. All the plotting and character development have to happen in a much shorter space. It’s actually harder work with a small word count limits. No meandering allowed!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

PP: The hardest part for me is figuring out the story, but it’s the part I enjoy the most. A Forever Love was an easy book to write since I’d already created the Vamp City world for other books—A Blood Seductionand A Kiss of Blood. Lukas and Elizabeth were new characters to me, but once I got to know them, their story came to life quickly and easily.

AA: I have a really hard time getting far enough away from the story to see problems. The characters are so vivid in my head sometimes I have a hard time seeing that I’ve been too nice to them in one scene, or I’m pulling punches in another because I just don’t want to be mean to them. I have to take a step back and realize that pulling punches is boring and they don’t pay me to be nice. That’s when it gets fun.

KF: The juggling can get tricky. When writing a series, there’s a point in the middle where I’m working on a first draft of book #3, doing structural edits on book #2 and final proofs of book #1. Those are the most intense! I usually dedicate an entire wall to storyboarding.

When it came to this project, what part of your story did you write last?

KS: The last part.   I tend to write chronologically. But sometimes in revisions, scenes will be added in the earlier part.

AA: Ironically enough, I think it was the kissing scene, because it had to be perfect and really fit their character arcs. I wanted it to be perfect for them and perfect for the readers, so I tried it in a few different spots and when I found the right one it was like a light went off! Voila! Insert smooching here!

KF: The middle! My early drafts were written in a linear fashion, first, then, finally . . . and then my agent pointed a few things out that made me rethink the mid-story scenes. I changed some things there, with the secondary characters, before handing the whole work in to my editor (who liked it just as it was). My agent makes me look good!

After the story was completed, was there a message in this story that revealed itself?

KS: I suppose there are several messages you could learn from ‘V is for VampWoman.’  One—first impressions can be misleading.  Two—believe in yourself and you can accomplish great things!  Three—true love will find a way.

PP: Listen to your heart.

AA: Love the people who saw you when you were invisible to everyone else.

KFThis is a great question. I think there is always a message for us in everything we are attracted to read, but everyone will take away something different. When I pitched Blood and Water for the series, I remember stating: Themes of love, alienation, creativity, romance, trust, authenticity, empowerment, desire . . . Readers will align with what resonates for them, at the time they read it, and that’s the beauty of storytelling. Synchronicity!

We hope you enjoyed how we authors think, process, and discover things within our own writing. If you have a question about the writing process, please feel free to post. We’ll be checking in all day to comment. And a lucky commenter will win a digital copy of Vampires Gone Wild!

Happy reading!

 Vampires Gone Wild brings together four paranormal romance novellas by Kerrelyn Sparks, Pamela Palmer, Amanda Arista, and Kim Falconer, authors and bloggers at Supernatural Underground.
Kerrelyn Sparks's demure Pamela and sexy vampire sidekick battle the Malcontents in "V is for Vampwoman." Kim Falconer's aqueous San Francisco vampires in 
"Blood and Water" want nothing from "landers" -- unless it's dinner, but that's until Stellan meets Angelina. Pamela Palmer carries readers to Vamp City in "A Forever Love" where trapped Lukas pines for his lost love. When she appears, Lukas will fight to keep her alive. It's been a hundred years since Valiance has dated; all is great until they're attacked, but quiet Esme will shock Valiance in Amanda Arista's "First Dates Are from Hell."

Supernatural Underground

We're a group of HarperCollins authors, writing Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance/Fantasy/Sci-Fi for adults and teens under the Avon, Eos and HarperTeen imprints. Call it what you like, if it lurks in the shadows, and there's fur, fangs, fins, phantoms or faery wings involved, we write it!

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Emily Tardy said...

Thank you for the peak into your personal writing styles. I cannot tell you how many times I have finished a book and been in awe of how much hard work it takes to write and publish a book. Thank you for all you do to transport your readers into a different reality for a short time :)

Victoria said...

This is a very good post - great information. Thank you so much :)

I'm really looking forward to this anthology :).

OreotheDutchess said...

Such great insight on wonderful authors.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great giveaway!!

kandj7299 at verizon dot net

Carey Sabala said...

Awesome interview and thanks so very very much for the giveaway!

Texas Book Lover said...

From the messages that are included in this book...sounds like it is going to fabulous!

Thanks so much!

Crystal Newman said...

Thank you for sharing and I can't wait to read this great book!!

Crystal Newman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda Arista said...

Thanks for all the wonderful words of encouragement. It takes hard work and lots of coffee to write a book, but we love it.

Heather said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I love Kerrelyn Sparks series

Jovhanna said...

Such a Cool interview :)

Mary Preston said...

Wonderful to meet everyone.

supertatee said...

Great interview, thanks for sharing

Danielle Shearer said...

Awesome to see how you lovely ladies create your characters!

Charla85 said...

This is a great interview! Can't wait to read this book!

Katy said...

I love the Love at Stake series by Kerrelyn Sparks and Pamela Smythe-Worthing was a funny character, so I can't wait to read her story !