How I Write
Most writers will tell you they are either a “plotter” or a “pantser.” That is, some writers will develop extensive outlines before they begin writing. They know exactly where the story is going and how the characters will move through the plot—from beginning to end. I’ve even read of some who, given this approach, will be able to identify specific areas that need to be researched and complete that as well before writing the first draft.
I admire and envy such writers because I’m a complete pantser—someone writes by the seat of her pants. I have no idea where I’m going until I get there, letting the characters lead me through the journey. I do know the end in a vague way. A mystery will have a solution. A romance, its happy ending. The world is saved in a thriller. I tend to write linearly—I start at the beginning and keep going. When I get stuck, I consider what possible plot complications—the more perilous, the better. This requires me to stop at times to research something I never knew I needed to know about until then. At this point, I have to be disciplined because it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole chasing after fun and interesting facts that might or might not be related to what I’m writing.
In the end, I have a hot mess (plot holes, too much/too little description, a plot thread that goes nowhere) that I have to organize into a coherent story—that’s where outlining and other techniques come in handy. But for me, the unexpected directions are just part of the joy of writing.
To see the results of some of Dr. Sherwood-Fabre’s research, check out her series of essays on “The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes.” Volume Three has just been released, and the first two are now available in eBook as a box set.
What book do you think everyone should read?
For romance, Outlander. Non-romance, Crime and Punishment.
How long have you been writing?
My writing has evolved. When I was very young, I wrote these odd-ball “books” (loose term) about different kinds of cats. I did a lot of research and felt serious about it. I’m not sure I can explain today what this was all about! By the way, I do not have any cats.
Later, I tried writing essays about life. I’m an optimistic person, but for some reason my essays came out too serious or worse, preachy. Who wants to read that?
I didn’t read a romance book until well into adult-hood. I was hooked, devoured hundreds in record time and read all heat levels (you know, for research). To this day, there are some where I still can’t figure out the acrobatics involved. But I digress. It was late 2012 when I started writing romance.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
They all show up in quick succession and are all talking. I hear their conversations first. Soon after I begin to see them.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Geography — even though the locations are fictionalized. Weather. Trees. Flowers. Whatever jobs my characters have. Time period, if not current day. Funny little things too – like how long is an ambulance ride from point A to point B? What songs were on the radio that year? For Dragonfly Dance, I researched sculptures and the bronzing process – even though most of this detail didn’t make it in the book.
Do you see writing as a career?
Definitely! I do have a long-time career in the non-writing world too. But creating worlds, characters, stories is what I am passionate about.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
I am very appreciative that it is possible to share my writing with readers.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
Romance. Romance. Romance.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Silence. I lose myself in it and have no sense of time. Sometimes I’ll look at the clock and – blink — it’s suddenly 3 hours later.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I have limited time, so I stay focused by working on one at a time.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
My favorite character is Hepzibah – from the children’s book Horrible Hepzibah by Edna Mitchell Preston. That’s probably not what you expected to hear. She’s deliciously mean to her nemesis, whose name is Beautiful Vanilla. Not all girls are sugar and spice.
A day in the life of the author?
I have a demanding technical job so a typical day starts early. After work, I sometimes row. On weekday evenings I focus on writerly tasks like promotion, creating graphics, social media or outlining. I write on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s pretty much work, row, write, eat, sleep, repeat. That’s not a martyr thing. I’ve become a minimalist with my time. There is only so much we can accomplish, so I prioritize what means the most.
Advice they would give new authors?
Listen to your intuition. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everyone else’s advice and opinions. Trust yourself and your goals.
What are they currently reading?
I recently read The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams and loved it.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Emotional stress, such as managing a family member’s serious illness, unemployment or other financial struggles. It’s very hard to drum up creativity when exhausted and/or worried.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I’d say a little of both. I’m writing stories and characters I want to share, but hopefully in a way that is universal and appealing.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I researched writing male characters and took writing classes on the topic. I try to remember that men don’t ask a lot of questions, they make statements. I have a male beta reader, among others, who keeps me honest (and chuckling) with comments like: “Wait, what about his blue balls?” and “He should say f**k more.”
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Not especially, but we all have slumps where we are uninspired. Slumps affect everything, including writing.
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- One (1) winner will win a signed copy of all 3 books in the First Kiss Hypothesis series by Christina Mandelski
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Stuck with You by Christina Mandelski
Publication Date: September 2, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush
When Caleb Gray heads to the Texas coast to mentally prepare for a future he isn’t sure he wants, the last person he expects to see is Catie Dixon. Yeah, their mothers have been planning their wedding since they were born, but he and Catie are most definitely not friends. He can’t see her as anything but the annoying kid who followed him everywhere. Except, it’s really bothering him that everyone is staring at her in that bikini…
Catie got over her crush on Caleb ages ago. So why can’t she see past his ripped body or how unsettled he seems? She’s got her own problems, though. Her future has been set for years and now she’s dreaming of pulling the plug. A week at their families’ beach house is just what she needs to pull herself together, and she has no intention of letting Caleb back into her heart…which would be a whole lot easier if he’d put on a shirt.
But a forced week of togetherness full of beach parties, waterslide mishaps, bonfires, and roller coasters sparks more than an understanding. What do you do when the person standing in the way of your future is the one person you grew up hating…but now don’t?
Dear Reader (a note to your readers)
Thanks for stopping by! If you’re like me, you love a good love story and I think that’s what I’ve created in my latest YA novel, Stuck With You. Caleb and Catie were raised together. Their family co-owns a business as well as a beach house and their parents still joke about them getting married someday. Unfortunately, they could care less about each other and they don’t think the joke is funny.
With Caleb graduating from high school and Catie starting her senior year, they both have many changes ahead and neither of them are ready. To that end, Caleb goes to the beach house for a week of rest and relaxation. What he doesn’t realize is that Catie is already there, unbeknownst to her parents, with a few friends, to hang out, maybe meet some guys and chill.
Of course, there’s nothing chilly about what happens next. Despite their best efforts to avoid each other, their orbits can’t help but collide, and those collisions produce some heat!
I loved writing this book, set on the Gulf coast of Texas (and near my real life home of Houston). I loved hanging out with Catie and Caleb as they alternately fight then give in to their attraction and as they figure out their futures—together and apart. I hope you enjoy their story!
Thanks for having me on the blog!
About the author
Christina Mandelski was born in South Florida, where her love of reading was cultivated in a house full of books. Stories like The Little House series, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Secret Garden, filled her imagination and fueled her dreams to be a writer. That dream came true when her first young adult novel, THE SWEETEST THING, was published in 2011, and she’s beyond thrilled about her upcoming series for Entangled Crush. Chris lives in Houston with one handsome husband, two beautiful daughters, and two freakshow cats. She has a fondness for the beach, her family and friends, and she still loves to read (especially curled up with a good cup of coffee!) She also enjoys shopping, traveling and eating, especially cake. Always cake. When she’s not doing these things, you can find her holed in a cozy spot with her laptop, writing. Visit her at www.christinamandelski.com.
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Two (2) winners will receive a physical copy of Changeling of Fenlen Forest by Katherine Magyarody (INT) a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Elizabeth thinks she knows the gloomy Fenlen Forest. But when her treasured unicorn fawn, Sida, goes missing, Elizabeth tracks her into a strange land where the people think Elizabeth is a changeling, a malignant being who too closely resembles a missing girl.
If Elizabeth can find her fawn and uncover the fate of her lost double, can she stop the fear from turning into hate? To solve the deepening mystery, Elizabeth befriends a handsome, skeptical young shepherd whose stories hint at a dark secret lurking at the forest’s edge, and follows a herd of wild unicorns with the ability to unlock the past.
GUEST POST BY THE AUTHOR
Cover Love (Why you love the cover)
A spooky forest and a charging unicorn? The cover of The Changeling of Fenlen Forest is pretty awesome. But my two favourite things about the cover are a little unusual.
First, I love the texture of the cover paper. It’s matte rather than shiny, and the feel is almost velvety…like a unicorn.
Second, I love the back cover. There is a subtle three-layered border which takes inspiration from the weaving that the girls and women master within the book.
The importance of weaving as a livelihood and as a cultural craft in The Changeling of Fenlen Forest was inspired by my own cultural background. I inherited a lot of Transylvanian-Hungarian textiles from one of my great-grandmothers and as a kid I learned how to embroider using different complicated stitches. When I got older, I learned more about how weaving bound female communities together. Weaving didn’t just support local economies – the cloth produced was also used to announce different things about a person’s stage of life and their place within a certain village or region. My main character, Elizabeth, has grown up running wild with her unicorns, but as she grows older she learns to respect the work other women do with their hands, even if she’s not very good at it herself!
So, when the editor at Great Plains asked if I had any ideas or suggestions for the cover, I took picture of some of the heirloom textiles. I am thrilled that this little detail made it in!
Also, have you seen that unicorn?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katherine Magyarody grew up in Toronto, Ontario. During graduate school, she researched the history of adolescence, taught children’s literature, and wrote fiction on the sly. Her debut short story, “Goldhawk,” is anthologized in PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2017. She currently lives in Connecticut, where she blogs about interesting and weird unicorns at https://offbeatunicorn.com/about-offbeat-unicorn/.