The Blog-hop Challenge


Thank you Sarah Letourneau for nominating me to contribute to this World Blog-hop. The challenge is to answer the five questions below and nominate two more people to take on the Blog-hop. Here goes…Bunny Hop

1. Include a quote.
I think it comes from the great Terry Pratchett – Writing is the most fun you can have with your clothes on… Yep. I’d agree with that.

2. Why do you create what you do?
Because it’s an addiction that really has me by the throat. I’m aware that I and my family pay a price. The hours I spend sitting at the computer pouring these words out (so far this year 277,800 and counting…) means I’m not doing other things. Some of those things aren’t crucial – let’s face it, who really cares whether the house gets dusted once a week? Or even a month? But I don’t keep up with friends as much as I should, and there are also times when I’m not the best daughter/mother/granny/sister/wife I could be – because those damn words keep swirling around in my head and if I don’t let them out, I stop being my usual sweet-natured, saintly self and instead turn into the snarling bitch from Hell…

3. How does your creative process work?
I used to just plunge in and start writing – whether it was a novel or a story, but I’m far more circumspect about doing that with a novel, these days. My favourite part of the whole business is writing the first draft, but if I’m too gung-ho then the re-writing is a massive effort of tidying up dead-ends, extra characters that didn’t go anywhere and pruning redundant plotlines. So these days, I will make some attempt to write a plot outline – and I make a strenuous attempt to have an ending planned. However inevitably in the middle of a chapter, about a third of the way in, the book will suddenly swerve off the main road speed off down a left turn. I’ve learnt to go with the flow – seven times out of ten it will work out.

The other three times it doesn’t and I have to stop, work back to where the turning went wrong and start again. As I’ve become more experienced and learnt my own writing rhythms, I can spot when it’s going wrong far more quickly and backtrack and sort it out fairly fast. I’m a bit of a conflict junkie, so there are times when I’ll get caught up in burying my long-suffering protagonist under a mound of knee-buckling problems to the extent that it simply doesn’t work. But while there are times I’ll break off from a book for a while, I’ve only a couple of times completely abandoned a novel without finishing it. The first one was when in chapter 3, my lantern-jawed hero was suddenly castrated in a tragic accident – which was when I realised my destiny didn’t lie in writing straight romantic fiction…

4. How does your work differ from others in your genre?
My writing voice is very strong – for good or for ill. I’m one of those Marmite writers readers either love or loathe. I write mostly science fiction and some fantasy. I’m particularly fascinated by the dynamics of family life and in what form it will survive when we are living on different planets, or family ships carrying cargo, as my current protagonist’s family do, for instance, in my Sunblinded trilogy.

And the collection of short stories I’m shortly self-publishing, entitled Picky Eaters, explores what happens when Granddad has to move in with his daughter after Sammy Jo and Billy Bob, his grandchildren, manage to upset the neighbours so they run him off his mountain dwelling. And Granddad is a crotchety dragon cursed with the gift of time-travelling…

5. What are you working on right now?
I’m writing Breathing Space, the last book in a trilogy I hope to be self-publishing next year. It charts the adventures of my Iberian merchanter’s daughter Jezell Campo, from when she is a wannabe trainee officer on her father’s ship, to the final book when she is on a mission to track down and kill a psychotic murderer threatening her family. The first two books, Running Out of Space and Dying for Space are completed bar the final edits and I hope to have the first draft of Breathing Space finished before Christmas.

I’m enjoying writing the book, although it has thrown me a few curved balls – it’s one of the addictions about the writing process, it never gets boring… While I have other books I’d like to be traditionally published, Jezell Campo is going to be my PI in a series of science fiction crime series I’ve planned out, which I’m really excited about. This is one project is one I’d like to keep under absolute control.

I’m also working on next term’s course notes Keep Writing on the Right Track. Each term has a particular teaching focus and next term we’ll be looking at those issues that can derail a writer. I do a lot of thinking and reading before I start writing the handouts – which will be at the beginning of next month at the latest. I hate running any project right up to the deadline as the sort of pressure never produces my best work.

My continual work in progress are the reviews and occasional other articles I produce for my blog – another passion. I’m an avid and enthusiastic reader and have become somewhat addicted to writing reviews sharing my excitement about a good book I’ve recently enjoyed. I don’t write negative reviews because these days I simply don’t bother to complete books I don’t like – Life is too short.

My nominations for blog-hopping are:
Mhairi Simpson, for her site Reality Refuge.
I met up with Mhairi back in 2011 at Fantasycon and we just… clicked. We poured out our passion for writing fantasy and science fiction, swapped life histories and discovered we had a lot more in common than the fact we’re both strong-minded blondes… Her blog reflects who she is – brave, articulate and with a tendency to run into situations at a full gallop. She writes fantasy, including several self published excellent short stories and edited the critically acclaimed anthology Tales of Eve – I reviewed it here – which include stories from the likes of Juliet E. McKenna and Adrian Tchaikovsky. She is also one of the most endlessly inventive people I’ve ever met and spending a week-end in her company makes me feel brand new and excited about writing all over again… If I could bottle her, I would.

C Miller. Another impressively talented YA Fantasy writer who regularly blogs. Check out her book Reave. She writes with a passion that sweeps you into her world. Her blog is enjoyable and well written, while she is enthusiastic and supportive of other writers – all in all a thoroughly deserving nominee, who I guarantee will answer the questions interestingly…

7 responses »

  1. Great answers, Sarah! I agree that focusing on writing means we have to make sacrifices in other areas of our lives. I keep my condo neat, but cleaning comes only once in a while. Unless it’s the bathroom… *lol* That’s the one room I really want to keep clean.

    I love the idea for Picky Eaters! The concept is adorable. Have you had fun writing those stories?

    Also, Jezell’s stories sound really interesting. Are you planning to have both print and e-books available?

    • I really enjoyed answering the questions – it made me think carefully about how and why I write all over again… As for housework – hm… the older I get the more I begrudge the time and effort it takes – although like you, I ensure the smallest room in the house DOESN’T get neglected. As a sign in my kitchen used to proclaim DULL WOMEN HAVE IMMACULATE HOUSES…

      As for ‘Picky Eaters’ – oh yes… I’ve had an absolute blast. The first story was published several years ago and has now run out of copyright and when Mhairi suggested that I complete the story cycle and self publish it, I actually bounced up and down in my seat with excitement… *sigh* not a becoming sight on a crowded train travelling back from Bristolcon!

      As regards the Sunblinded trilogy – yes! The reason I’m planning to release the whole trilogy together next July is that I want to take them to Fantasycon next year and unleash them onto unsuspecting conference attendees:))

  2. Thank you so much for tagging me in this! And wow, those were such nice words! 😀

    I have to tell you, I cracked up three times reading your answers. I’m talking full-on cracking up.
    (The ‘clothes on’ quote, for one. Then ‘snarling bitch from hell.’ And last but not least, the bit about not writing straight romantic fiction (and what happened to the character, which I PROBABLY shouldn’t have laughed at . . .))
    I realized reading this that we seem to have some things in common. Always kind of blows my mind how different everyone goes about writing, what works and doesn’t work for people, etc.
    I definitely know what you mean about LIFE getting neglected, just so you can get the words out. I can’t even think about dusting, to be honest. I don’t even want to get into how many friends I’ve lost contact with. So I can definitely relate to that.
    I can ALSO relate to what you were saying about pantsing/plotting. I’d like to think that I could one day get to the point where I would be able to map everything out, but stuff just happens. I kind of feel like it’s pretty much impossible to control people, which is what the characters are. They just do what they do, and I have to deal with it. It would definitely be easier, not having to fix all the details, but I do enjoy nitpicking . . .

    Anyway, sorry for rambling, and thank you again. I’ll hopefully get to this within about . . . 2 or 3(?) days. I’m right at the end of finishing up the first draft of a book, and it’s going to drive me insane if I don’t get it out. 🙂
    Also, congratulations on the 277,800! That’s awesome! 😀
    (I’ve only recently started keeping a detailed word count spreadsheet. Going back through every chapter file I have and trying to figure out what day it was written on was . . . Well, I was going to say it wasn’t fun, but that would be a lie. It took a while though. Wow, rambling. Sorry!)

  3. Oh as far as I’m concerned – absolutely NO pressure about insisting on when you pick up and continue the Blog-hop… I’m assuming you’ll weave it into your normal blog publishing schedule, or otherwise it stops being an enjoyable activity and just becomes a dratted chore – like almost EVERYTHING else in my life right now that doesn’t revolve around writing BREATHING SPACE!!! *breathing deeply through nose and trying to stop snarling* So I utterly understand about needing to get those words out…

    As regards the wordcount – it’s been a bit of a shock at how high it’s become… Especially as if you’d asked me, I would’ve said – other than the book reviews which have just got out of hand – it hasn’t been a particularly productive year. But that spreadsheet wordcount record has been very worthwhile – I’m learning where and on what I spend my writing time and energy and hoping it’ll make me smarter about where I direct that energy in future.

    I’m looking forward to reading your replies to the questions – it really is fascinating how different everyone is in their creative process – and in the meantime take care and hope writing the endgame on your WIP is great fun – it tends to be the most enjoyable part of the book for me – other than the opening chapter which generally gets blasted out of the ends of my fingers in a rush of excitement:)

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