I was tagged by the fabulous and talented Sarah Vance-Tompkins on the Writing Process Blog Tour.

Sarah Vance Tompkins 1st Place in 2014 ImaJinn Fiction Contest

Sarah Vance Tompkins 1st Place in 2014 ImaJinn Fiction Contest

Sarah and I met at the wonderful Los Angeles Chapter of Romance Writers of America, Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA). Sarah is a bright and shining personality who always makes me laugh and just being around always makes me feel better. She recently placed first in the ImaJinn-a-Romance Contest with her New Adult Paranormal Romance for more on it go on over to Sarah’s blog post here. I love her blog. I love her writing. I love her voice. And now the questions.

1) What am I working on?

I am working on a Contemporary Romance. It’s set in Los Angeles and is about finding love in spite of yourself. My heroine is twenty-seven years old and knows exactly what she needs to have a perfect life. The hero has other ideas about who should be her dream man, him. There is of course the other guy and all of her friends plus a fabulous pair of vintage shoes with a reputation for leading women to their true hearts’ desires.

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

I’d have to say it’s my voice that makes my stories different. Contemporary Romance by definition is about finding your happily-ever-after, the one person who sees you for who you really are and loves you. My characters are all strong men and women who are sure that they know what they need to be happy and complete only to find out that they are wrong or at least not completely right.

3) Why do I write what I write?

I love telling the stories that are in my head. I want to read about characters that are like my friends and me, women who are more than just pretty young things and men who complete the women they love. I want to read the kind of stories that I write.

4) How does my writing process work?

Oy! Process? What Process?

Okay, first characters or a situation comes to me. I then play with a story outline by using a technique called, “Meet-in-the-middle.” It’s similar to a beat sheet, but different because there are fifteen “scenes.” You start with the first and the last and then you work forward and backward, second and fourteenth, and so on, until you meet in the middle. This acts as a road map for me. I don’t necessarily stay on the mapped out route, but when I go off-road with my characters it makes it easier to get back on track or re-route the map when necessary. I also need to know the Goal, Motivation and Conflict for my heroine, hero and “villain.” I need to know that the map I’ve got moves forward the goals, etc… for each character.

I write new words, and I mean to do this every day, but that is a practice that I am still creating because I’ve got this thing called a day job, family and friends, and a life. My goal for this year is to write at least five hundred words a day no matter what. I am getting better at that, but I’m not quite where I want to be with it.

About the middle of the book, I realize that I am completely fooling myself and I can’t write at all. I cry and then convince myself to keep writing and finish the book. I tell myself to, “Just Finish It” which becomes my mantra around the thirty-five thousand word mark. If I’ve been away from the book for a day or two, I re-read the last scene and/or chapter, edit a little and then dive back in. I set a timer for twenty minutes and write because I can do almost anything for twenty minutes. Once I finish the book, I wait a week and then go through it to catch the glaring grammar and spelling errors. (I hate dialogue and action tags – hate, hate, hate.) I then send it to my critique partner. She gets it back to me. I cry, I put aside her suggestions for a day or so, get back to it and polish the book. I send it out into the world and then start the next one because as strange as it may seem, I am a much nicer person when I write.

Now I am passing along the torch to Kate McKinley, my critique partner and a fabulous author. You can find her blog here. I can’t wait to read about her writing process and what she’s currently working on.

Kate McKinley April 2014 Release

Kate McKinley April 2014 Release

Traffic, the Bane of my Existence

I live in Southern California and the only place that I’ve ever been where the traffic actually made me fear for my life more frequently was Santo Domingo. Otherwise, I’ve traveled places where people apologize to me for the traffic and I laughingly ask them, “What traffic?”


First, let me be clear, I love L.A. The song, the city and the general lifestyle of LA-LA land. It is home. There are other places that I love to visit; I think New York and Chicago are fabulous. I love Yosemite, Yellowstone and Big Sur. I had a great time when I visited a friend in New Bremen, OH for Bremenfest and one of my favorite towns is Las Vegas, NM. All of those places are wonderful and I will visit them again and hopefully visit more besides, but Southern California is home.


Except tMorguefile Picturehat I hate the traffic.


I am not a patient person by any stretch of the imagination and Los Angeles traffic puts to test all of my “new age” beliefs, “What you put out into the world is what you get back.” “You are exactly where you need to be.” And “All things happen for a reason.”


Really? What would be the reason that jerk in the black Mercedes just cut me off? Why did he have to speed up and not let me into his lane when all he wanted was to get into mine? What bleepin’ reason was there for that?


Okay, okay, deep breath. Breathe in, Maria, breathe out. Count to three breathing in. Count to five breathing out. “You are exactly where you need to be.”


WHAT THE FORK! Stop texting you twit. It’s against the law and you just made me miss the light. Argh! Cancel, cancel. Bless her and protect her so that she doesn’t cause a terrible accident and die in a fiery single car accident. Ooops! I mean bless her and protect her and the rest of us who are on the road with her.


Sigh. “You get back what you put out into the world.” Clearly, my road rage and frustration doesn’t helping my car karma in any way.


Yep, when I go to other places and the people apologize for their traffic all I can do is laugh. There are very few places outside of Los Angeles that put my lack of patience to the test in the same way as the freeways and drivers here do.


And still I love L.A.