Writing Process Blog Hop!

Welcome to the Ari McKay portion of the Writing Process Blog Hop! Much thanks to Sean Michael for inviting us – you can check out his blog at http://sean-michael.livejournal.com and learn all about how he does his thing!

1) What am I working on?

We usually have at least 2-3 things in various states of progress at any given time. Some things get backburnered indefinitely, and some get backburnered temporarily, but nothing ever truly goes to waste. Everything we write allows us to practice something new.

Right now, we have a rough draft of the second Herc’s Mercs story (the first is coming out this Wednesday, April 2!) finished and awaiting final edits before we submit it.

We have a rough draft of the third Herc’s Mercs story mostly finished. It needs a couple of action scenes added and a first round of edits. The Herc’s Mercs bunnies hit hard, fast, and en masse, so we pretty much wrote three stories in that universe back to back.

We have about 22k words of a post-apocalypse novella/novel that we envision as a kind of futuristic Steampunk Western. It might be a while before we get back to this one, but we’ve had a lot of fun with the world-building, so we’ll definitely finish it eventually.

But the main thing we’re working on right now is the third novel in the Blood Bathory trilogy! We’ve started and scrapped drafts of this two or three times as we tried to figure out which way we wanted to go with it, and we’ve finally settled on a direction that’s working out really well. This novel will wrap up the battle between the vampires and theriomorphs begun in Blood Bathory: Like the Night and continued in Blood Bathory: Absence of the Sun, which is coming out on July 2. Even though we’re wrapping up this particular arc, we’ll probably revisit this world down the road because we’ve grown attached to the characters and the world we’ve created, and there are definitely other stories to tell!

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

With the Blood Bathory series, we’ve tried to create and explore different variations on the traditional types of vampires and werewolves. Our shapeshifters are a kind of shaman, servants of Gaia who protect and nurture life. Their form is determined by their nature, and they can transform at will. Our vampires are cursed rather than undead, and the distinction will be made clearer in Blood Bathory: Absence of the Sun, which reveals the origin of the vampires.

There’s a lot of world-building in the Blood Bathory series, and while there’s definitely a romance (and sex), the emphasis is on the plot, which has plenty of action sequences. World building and character development tend to be common elements of our works in general, especially when we’re creating a series.

3) Why do I write what I do?

We write a lot of different genres! We have a lot of contemporary romance stories, but we also have historicals and paranormal adventures. Even within the contemporary works, we’ve tackled a wide range of characters and settings. Basically, we go where the plot bunnies take us, and we enjoy trying new things. So if we get a particularly aggressive plot bunny biting our ankles, we’ll try it, doing research as needed.

 4) How does your writing process work?

Because we don’t live near each other, we use Google Docs to write our drafts. The benefits of using a collaborative writing tool is that we can both access the documents at the same time and write together in real time when we’re online together in the evenings, and we can access the draft and take our turn in the current scene when we have time during the day. It saves drafts automatically, and the draft can be downloaded as a Word document once we’re ready to start editing and formatting in preparation to submit the story.

We use Evernote to organize notes about our stories, clip webpages and photos we can use for inspiration, write up character bios, and keep an on-going plot bunny list, among other things. We give our novels their own notebook; each series has its own notebook, and our short stories all go in the same notebook. It’s been a very handy organizational tool, and the best thing is that we can both access it from our computers, our smart phones, or our iPads.

Our writing process is pretty simple, and we’ve got it honed to an art form at this point. First we decide on the overall plot, which is determined based on whether we’re writing for a specific call for submissions or we’ve been attacked by a giant, rabid plot bunny that’s sunk its teeth into our ankles and refused to let go. Sometimes, it’s both!

After that, we discuss the main characters. Sometimes, a character will pop up and start yakking at one of us. At that point, deciding who writes whom is easy. We stick to single POV within a scene, but we do alternate POV from scene to scene so that the burden of exposition doesn’t fall entirely on one of throughout the story. On the rare occasion when we do stick to single POV, it’s because either the story length requirement was so short that we thought it wouldn’t be worthwhile to switch or we thought the story would work better seen through the POV of a single character. Most recently, we tried first person POV with “Call of the Night Singers” because we were trying to mimic the common tropes of traditional Gothic horror.

After we finish the rough draft, Ari takes the first editing pass. After she’s done looking at it, I format the work to the publisher’s requirements and take my editorial pass through it. Sometimes, we get someone else to look at it as well if we’re worried about any particular aspects of the story or we want to make sure it reads well. We’re pretty much a well-oiled machine when it comes to writing the rough draft, but we do tend to get bogged down in the editing and revision stage. That part always seems like a necessary evil when we’d rather be starting on the new shiny!

Next week, please check out the blogs of some other fantastic writers:

For author and textile artist A. Catherine Noon, it’s all about the yarn, both metaphorical and literal—spinning a yarn, knitting with yarn, weaving, sewing, painting, sharing stories and good times over a cup of coffee with dark chocolate. She teaches creative writing, creative expression and textile arts. You can find her blog at: http://acatherinenoon.blogspot.com/

Medeia Sharif is a writer of Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction from several different publishers, as well as being a middle school English teacher. You can find her at http://medeiasharif.com