The Writing Process Blog Tour

An invitation from my North-Of-The-Border friend Cassandra Griffin


to join The Writing Process Blog Tour has prompted me to dust off my poor neglected blog. Cassandra was a regular at Thursday’s Children, for those of you who remember that awesome weekly blog hop. She’s represented by Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates and writes YA fiction. Check out the description of her WIP, working title PORCELAIN PRINCESS here . I think you’ll agree, it sounds like a great read!

You can also follow her on Twitter @chgriffinauthor

Now, without further ado, the question and answer part of our show…

 What am I currently working on?

A deep, dark psychological suspense story which was inspired when I found a dead dog on a beach in Maine. In my story the dog isn’t a dog at all, she’s a mermaid (equally dead). One of my narrators is the mermaid’s sister. She’s taken a vow of silence. Not total silence–she does text. The other narrator is a boy. He’s the one who discovers the dead mermaid, and then becomes obsessed with her, because he has his own twisty secrets which make a dead mermaid seem like the perfect girlfriend. Of course.

yes animated GIF

My MCs are in high school, but because of some of the things that happen to them, they have to be eighteen. Apparently I’m writing my first NA.

My protagonists, Orla and Owen, unravel what happened to Miren (the mermaid). They have to work together, which isn’t easy, since neither of them trusts a soul. They don’t even trust themselves. While uncovering Miren’s secrets, they inadvertently unearth some of their own, and other peoples’ too. These secrets are glittery diamonds emitting rays of hope throughout this moody tale…
no animated GIF

*Thank you, Johnny.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, that remains to be seen, because it’s only about halfway done. This WIP’s bag of tricks does include throwback psychological tests,


Christian martyrs,

Saint Agnes of Rome                c. 291-304

Saint Agnes of Rome                   c. 291-304

Irish folklore,



and a Jack Russell terrier named Gyp.

"Gyp", as played by Daisy

“Gyp”, as played by Daisy

They say, “Write about what interests you”, so I make no apologies.

Why do I write what I write?

I “enjoy” exploring relationships, trauma, memory, and coping mechanisms. YA/NA provides characters who are extremely vulnerable emotionally, and yet able to contemplate things with more sophistication than children. Traumatic events and the memories of them have profound power to shape who a teenager is and who he or she will become.

How does my individual writing process work?

Sometimes it’s like plucking the fuzz off a peach and sometimes it’s like riding a headstrong horse at breakneck speed along an oceanside cliff. In more literal terms, my writing process changes a bit with each book I write. This WIP/gnarly beast is taking FOREVER to write and presenting more challenges than any of its predecessors (plucking peach fuzz in the dark while wearing mittens). Silly me, thinking things might get easier. Sigh. Things have gotten deeper and more intuitive, but messier. Generally, I reread a chapter or two to get back into my characters’ heads and to make sure transitions are smooth. I spend a lot of time thinking about my story while walking my dogs, driving, and falling asleep (either in bed or at my computer). I make scribbly notes for themes, characters, back-story, and specific scenes. There’s a timeline to ensure things work chronologically.

Ultimately once the damn thing is written, I’ll assess the need for major overhauls. Then off to CPs/betas and more revising/editing.

And now, to tag some friends!

I’ve persuaded the following lovely writers to share the fun. Once they let me know their posts are up, I’ll tweet links to their blog posts.


Jamie Rae writes YA/NA. Her debut CALL SIGN KARMA is coming January 2015. Many of you may also know her as the agent Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inklings Literary. She’s also Dr. Drowley, orthodontist. Clearly the woman never sleeps…and maybe she consumes lots of Red Bull. Here’s a link to her blog. She can also be found on Twitter @JamieRaeWrites

2. Louise

Louise D. Gornall writes Urban Fantasy and Horror YA and is rep’d by Mandy Hubbard of D4EO. You can read about her debut IN STONE on Goodreads here. Her blog is here , and you can find her on Twitter @Rock_andor_roll as well as at The Midnight Type and World of YA. Fun fact: Louise is an identical twin!

3. DDFalvo

Denise D. Falvo was captured and released by faeries as a child and is still trying to find her way back. She writes fantasy and adopts stray dragons as consolation. You can find her blog here and follow her on Twitter @DDFalvo . She’s also one of the guiding lights at Writer Unboxed and an all around fantabulous person.

4.  EMCastellan

EM Castellan lives in a castle in England. Seriously. I wouldn’t kid you about something like that-follow her on Twitter @EMCastellan and ask her yourself. Her blog is here and she’s also a frequent contributor to There and Draft Again. She’s represented by Erin Niumata of Folio Lit and writes YA Fantasy. If you have a question about Victorian-era London, look no further.

5. KateMichael

Kate Michael and I met ages ago during various writing contests and she was a frequent contributor to the Thursday’s Children blog hop. You can follow her on Twitter @_KateMichael and find her blog here. She writes YA/NA and is one of my go to people when I need a beta double-quick, as in “can you read this NOW and get back to me TONIGHT?!?”, and/or a shoulder to cry on regarding the roller coaster otherwise known as traditional publishing.



Rebeca Schiller – she and I met on the Writer Unboxed Facebook group. We share a love of writing (of course) and a love of animals, especially Jack Russell Terriers. Hers is named Mr. Bessie. She’s an expert on the Spanish Civil War, lefty politics, and Scrivener. She can be found on Twitter @SchillerRebeca and on her blog .



Kathy Palm – her Twitter bio explains exactly why we’re friends – she loves all things scary, magical, and weird (emphasis for me on the scary and weird, with a dash of magical). Speaking of Twitter, you can and should follow her @KathleenPalm . You can also find her at her blog . She writes YA Fantasy and was on vacation (a real one, not a make-believe one) when I initially asked her to play the blog tour game. Now that she’s back, she’s on board, yay!

If you’re not one of those I’ve tagged, I’d still love to hear your answers to the writing process questions. Use the comments section!

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Like A Virgin 2014 Grand Finale!



The Like A Virgin Contest doesn’t just happen. It takes a village…eventually. But before we get to the village point, there’s just the pair of us — recruiting judges and crit angels, publicizing, organizing, and for Kristina (whose tech expertise far exceeds mine), a helluva lot of formatting. Sometimes it feels a little like this…
lucy animated GIF
Why do we do it?

Speaking for myself, meeting new friends and reconnecting with “old” ones, feeling the excitement build, trying to ensure that writers have a positive experience with what may be their first public critique as well as their first contest…these things make the time and effort totally worthwhile. Oh, and when a former virgin gets an agent, and or a pub deal? That’s the best!

If you participated in #LV14, I hope you had a fabulous time and learned a thing or two (please feel free to tell me in comments). If you didn’t participate, and you’re a writer…

LV15Stay tuned! We’re tentatively planning #LV15 for spring of next year.


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Like A Virgin Blog Hop

Welcome Like A Virgin Contestants and Writer-Judges! My original intent was just to make sure the Linky code works for WordPress. But now that I’ve got a post going, might as well answer the questions, right?

1. How do you remember your first kiss? Hmm, claustrophobic? He had very big lips… 

2. What was your first favorite love song? I have no idea. Honestly, I can’t remember back that far.

3. What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day? Make sure I have coffee handy. Then I usually read through at least a chapter’s worth of what I wrote the day before.

4. Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer? Stephenie Meyer. Really. My daughter was SO into those books and after reading them I thought there was nothing all that extraordinary about them. That gave me the courage to try.

Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with? Yes. But it had a different first chapter for a while during revisions.

5. For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting? Plot/characters kind of developed as one.

6. What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing? Wow.

Alright, now go visit the other contestants and writer-judges who are participating! If you are not part of the Like A Virgin contest, please do not try to join this blog hop.

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2nd Annual Like A Virgin Writing Contest!



As some of you may know, my CP/friend/partner in crime, Kristina Perez and I co-hosted our first writing contest in July of last year. Like A Virgin was a great success (go read the stories of last year’s virgins here to find out exactly what I mean). We had a great time and could hardly wait for 2014 to come so we could do it all over again.

Our sub window closed after we received 50 qualified entrants, which didn’t take long. This year we have not only writer-judges and agents, but also small press editors and a LONG list of both guest stars and crit angels. Our crit angels are generously donating their time and expert perspectives and the prizes range from 5 page crits to a FULL manuscript crit. 

The pitches will go up soon, followed by a Getting to Know You blog hop, and then first round judging will take place. Ten lucky virgins will move on to the final round, where agents and editors will award cherries and (hopefully) make some requests.



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Reinvention of a Writing Space

My office and I recently made a guest appearance in a blog series about Writers’ Spaces. I know many love to write at Starbuck’s or Panera, and of course there was lots of talk about writing on trains recently. None of these places work for me, though they are fabulous for people-watching, aka character-stalking.

I’ve had three different writing spaces since I began writing in earnest. The first was at the family PC, on the second floor landing, outside my daughters’ room. I wrote during the day, but also while waiting for my younger daughter to fall asleep, because at the time she needed the assurance of knowing I was “right there”. It was a high traffic space (good thing I don’t write erotica), and often noisy (especially once renovations on our house began). The desk chair was from IKEA and extremely uncomfortable. Despite the negatives, I finished my first novel there. At the time it was called MOONWORT. Now it’s tentatively titled THE PERFUME OF SOULS.

My second space (post-renovation) was shared with a TV, which fortunately didn’t get used all that often. It had a much comfier chair and was separated from the main house by the laundry room and a hall, which made it quieter. After all, I was the only one who actually used the laundry room. This is where I finished novels two and three, FOOLISH and TENDRIL.

Maine Office

Then we moved to North Carolina. Thanks to the relative price of housing, Maine vs. NC, I now have my very own office. At first I tried to make it an homage to coastal Maine, but that only made me miss the beach more.


The look also felt out of place here in central NC. So, with LOTS of help from my patient and creative husband, we redid my office and though it’s not completely finished, I’m very happy so far. It has art and sparkly things and a curio cabinet with bones and seashells and sand dollars. The rich colors and floral patterns seem more harmonious with my new environment.


The dogs seem to approve too.


Hopefully, I’ll finish a fourth book here this year.

If you’re a creative person, what do you like or not like about your working space? Do you have a Pinterest board for keeping track of inspirational decorating ideas? Is your space tidy or messy? Is it private or public, shared or yours alone? 

For more images of my office, what’s in it, and what inspired it, check out my Pinterest board.

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The NestPitch Pay-It-Foward PItch Clinic Is Open!

Hello Everyone!

Those of you following @nestpitch and/or this blog already know that today Nik Vukoja and I are posting a small selection of 35-word pitches for critique as part of our Post-It-Forward concept, to help perfect a winning 35-word pitch.

Sadly, we ended up with not a single NA or MG pitch, but we have several YA, a few Adult, and one PB.  While every story is different, a winning pitch, though hard to define, is easy to spot.  We hope that by providing direct feedback to the pitches below, everyone involved will gain some insight into what makes a “perfect pitch”.

Sometimes, seeing or reading something makes magic happen for the reader also, a light-bulb moment.  If anyone gets such a moment, please feel free to share.

Nothing is more contagious than enthusiasm – the more you spread, the more you have.

So how will this work? 

Read the pitches either here or on the Nestpitch blog: 

Choose as many pitches as you want to read and comment on. All comments will be monitored and approved to make sure the feedback is constructive and helpful, not destructive or hurtful.

We’ve provided examples below. Please make sure to post the Pitch Number at the beginning of your comment.

Read the pitches, and write the comments as per examples below.  Please post a new comment for each Pitch Number, it’ll make it easier for the author to locate the feedback.  If in doubt, you’ll find my comments are below also.

R- (Number) I liked the premise but I thought…

R- (Number) it’s a great idea but can you put the MC’s name in there somewhere?

R-1 Genre: YA Mystery

When Lucie’s father gives her an antique family jewellery box, and she discovers a mysterious letter addressed to her concealed within, she soon realises she is the only one who can uncover her ancestor’s secrets.

R-2 Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

When a legion of undead revenants attacks, troubled necromancer Desdemona must descend into London’s shadowed cemeteries to prevent the rise of the Exorcist and keep the balance between Life and Death from shattering.

R-3 Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Buried tensions erupt when Juliet reconnects with her first love after twenty-five years. Alternating between past and present, this adult romance tells the bittersweet stories of their star-crossed teen courtship and their newly unfolding liaison.

R-4 Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy

Sparky Voltaire fights PTSD and, just when he’s winning, knee-high monsters attack.  He carjacks a beautiful blonde and his world explodes with witches, were-rats, televangelists and wannabe vamps.

R-5 Genre: Adult Suspense Thriller

The Information Retrieval Unit (IRU) has generated a way to retrieve the memories of crime witnesses, which seems like a great idea, until one man’s memories will force the creator of the IRU into hiding.

R-6 Genre YA High Fantasy

Kidnapped as a baby, 15-year-old Raine struggles to fit in with her family. When she learns she has dark magic, banishment and murder attempts begin. Now she must discover the attacker’s identity before someone’s killed.

Now it’s up to you! We’ll have these posts open for comments from March 22nd March 29th. Help our brave pitchers out by leaving a helpful comment or two!

Don’t forget #nestpitch submission window will be open 1st April and #LV14 on April 4th

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NestPitch Post-It-Forward Pitch Clinic

I’m extremely pleased to participate in Nik Vukoja’s NestPitch Contest with a pre-pitch Q&A blog clinic known as Post-It-Forward. This contest will be awesome. Not only does it have agents, it has BUNNIES!

Here’s how events will unfold…

On March 21, between 12 noon and 11:59 midnight EST, writers can send their 35-word pitch to nestpitch @ (remove spaces). Put Pre-Pitch Post in the subject line.

Be sure to include the following in the body of your email:

Copy/Paste By submitting this pitch I agree to allow the Nestpitch blog and/or any other affiliated blogs to post my pitch on an open forum for the purposes of critique and feedback.  I understand this can be for the life of the blog.  I also agree to comment on at least two other pitches if my pitch is selected to be featured.

Your Name

Your 35-word Pitch

Nik and I will each pick up to 10 pitches at random, to feature on her blog and this one.  The pitches will be identified by number only as Pitch No.1 and so on. We plan to select a cross-section of genres. We won’t try to pick the best, or the worst, just a solid representation of the pitches received.

Everyone will be able to comment, including the hosts. Remember that constructive feedback is good, nasty is destructive. We’ll be monitoring.

Commenting will look like this:

Pitch No. 7 – I like the premise but I got confused as to whether John Smith was the father or the brother of Jane Smith.

The idea is to provide not only the selected pitches with specific feedback, but to give anyone participating or considering participating in a pitch competition the chance to see what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully these insights can be used to tighten their own 35-word pitches.

For more about NestPitch, follow #nestpitch on Twitter and go here

Of course, you’ll want to follow Nik as well!

Twitter @Nik_Vukoja



And if you’ve ever thought bunnies are timid little animals incapable of anything beyond foraging for carrots and, uh, making more bunnies, check this out!

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