The Writing Process

The writing process

I’m taking part in a blog tour about writing processes–a series of blogs where writers describe their writing process and what they are working on now. Then I will pass the torch to two other writers.

Last week I was invited to take part by the wonderful Michelle Muto, who writes awesome dark fantasy novels. Here is her website:

And here is her Amazon author page on


So here are the four questions and answers.

What I’m working on…
I’m writing a new thriller starring Cyril Landry, a former Navy SEAL and operative who first appeared in THE SHOP. Landry can be very dangerous to the wrong people, but he has own, quirky moral code. Think of him as an enforcer with Aspergers Syndrome. When we last left him in THE SHOP, he was declared missing and presumed dead.

Turns out he’s very much alive. And now there are at least two people who would like to remedy that situation.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I think HARD RETURN is differentiated primarily by the character himself—he is a complex thinker, yet sometimes misses the most obvious cues from the people he cares about most; he can grasp complexity, but also has blind spots. He can be simplistic and absolutist.

When I write him I lose myself – he just takes me away with him and I love being in his head, because he always challenges me. I am never completely sure what the man will do.

Why do I write the things I do?

I have written in many genres—my first book was a ghost story. I’ve written small-town mysteries, romantic suspense, historical romance/westerns, crime fiction, and thrillers. Early on, I was never satisfied—I was looking for something. The books I wrote didn’t challenge me. Then I found crime fiction and thrillers. I read the greats in that genre and fell in love. They are an enormous challenge to write and I try every time to go farther and deeper.

How my writing process works.

I come up with an idea, and I see if I have a character who fits that idea. It could be a big theme, or a relatively small one—and I can get the idea from anywhere. A Dear Abby column on pathological liars inspired CRY WOLF.

Then I plunge in and start writing. I know my character so I put him/her in a situation that has a problem that will get worse, and I see how the character reacts, and where that leads him. I always go through several journals, written in longhand, to go along with the book I’m writing in Word. In those journals, I talk to myself and try to figure stuff out. Usually I wake up very early – five AM early – and often this is when I come up with the greatest ideas for my story. Some of these ideas pan out and some don’t, but the story grows because of them, and each scene leads to the next scene. The story grows organically. There’s always crime, always intrigue, and I usually know what’s going to happen two or three or four jumps ahead.

I believe this: the Arabic word, Maktub. “It is written.” It is already written, and I just have to find the path. I do not outline books anymore. I don’t write down character traits, either. By now I know how I write (16 books later) and I know that if I have the premise and a few things to get me and my character started, the rest will come. I am open to ideas that come in, and either keep or discard them. I just write my way through the story. Sometimes I have to stop, take out something that doesn’t work, and rewrite from that point. But that goes pretty fast. Once you’ve forged one path, it’s easier to forge another. Usually the first half to two-thirds of the book is opening out, and then the story closes back in until it reaches the end.

The second draft is for shaping and fixing, but my first draft is actually pretty clean, because I take my time and edit as I go.

The important thing to me is that if I don’t know exactly where the story is going, the reader won’t, either, and it won’t be predictable.

And here is where I pass the torch to my fellow authors.

Diane Capri
USA Today and #1 Amazon Bestselling Author Diane Capri’s work, #1 worldwide publishing phenomenon Lee Child calls “Full of thrills and tension, but smart and human, too.” Margaret Maron, Edgar, Anthony, Agatha and Macavity Award-winning MWA Past President, says: “Expertise shines on every page.” And Library Journal raves: “….offers tense legal drama with courtroom overtones, twisty plots, and loads of atmosphere. Recommended.”

Diane’s new Jess Kimball series kicked off with Fatal Distraction, opening as the #3 Amazon Bestselling Legal Thriller, behind John Grisham. Jess Kimball’s second outing, the short story Fatal Enemy was recently released. Diane’s new Hunt for Jack Reacher series began with Don’t Know Jack, which garnered #1 Amazon Bestseller spots on Mystery, Hard-boiled Mystery, Police Procedural, Women Sleuths, and Legal Thriller lists both in the U.S. and U.K. Don’t Know Jack was followed by two bestselling short stories in the Hunt for Jack Reacher series, Jack in a Box and Jack and Kill. Diane’s Bestselling Justice Series suspense mysteries were praised by Romantic Times and garnered the coveted “Top Pick.”

Will Graham
“Will Graham” is the pseudonym of a professional investigator specializing in computer forensics and electronic evidence exclusively.

His musical tastes pretty much stopped with The Rat Pack, and he still reads Leslie Charteris, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dame Agatha Christie, and Ellery Queen.

Carol Davis Luce
Amazon bestselling author of the “Night” books, NightWriter Carol Davis Luce writes standalone suspense novels with strong elements of romance. After publishing five books through a traditional publisher, she turned independent author with her 2011 suspense novel, Night Widow, and two short story trilogies.

Her first novel, Night Stalker, was also her first sale. “A dandy read,” wrote bestselling author Tony Hillerman. It went into three printings and became the flagship for the sub-genre “Woman in Jeopardy” at Kensington Publishers.

Suspense novels: Night Stalker, Night Prey, Night Hunter, Night Passage, Night Game, and Night Widow. Boxed Set: Night Trilogy-Three Night Novels.

Short-story trilogies: Broken Justice and For Better, For Worse.

NEW! Women’s Fiction: Awakening: Secrets of a Brown Eyed Girl. This tough, coming-of-age novel is a fictionalized memoir, loosely based on her childhood.

Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories
Ms. Adventures in Travel: Indie Chicks Anthology
50 First Chapters: Indie Chicks Anthology
Interviews with Indie Authors: Tips From Successful Self-Published Authors
The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing: Everything You Need to Know About Creating & Selling Your Work (Writers Digest)

She lives with her husband Bob, and their psycho cat in Sparks, Nevada.