Here to celebrate the release of the newest novel in her series with Ultimate Fighting Championship heroes, "Causing Havoc," Lori Foster muses on the writing life. Apparently, it involves lots and lots of caffeine. Please offer up a warm buongiorno to Bella friend, Lori...
So often, someone will ask me how long it takes me to write a book. Or what my writing schedule is like. Or how many hours a week I spend on writing.
My honest answer to all of the above is that I don’t know.
I’m one of those who writes by the seat of her pants, without much of a plan, so that leaves lots of room for variations. How it works in my brain is that a character will appear.
Yeah, just like that.
Poof. He’s there. (It’s usually a “he” not a she.)
Most often, he comes to me in a scene. A conflict. A first meeting with the heroine. A dangerous escape.
Sometimes, but seldom, a love scene.
From there, I start wondering about him. Not even consciously, really, because I can’t recall a time that I’ve ever sat down and tried to figure out a hero. But I’ll wonder who he is and what he’s up to – and by some strange magic, he tells me.
You know, as a quick aside, I have shirts that say:
I’m not schizophrenic, I’m a writer.
I get paid to talk to the people in my head.
Writer’s Block: when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.
All of them work for me!
As more scenes appear in my brain, I decipher them the best I can and try to figure out which scene is the best place to open a book. And... that’s it.
That’s what I start with.
From there, from day to day or sometimes scene to scene, more stuff just “appears.”
I’m sorry, I know that sounds lame, but that’s what happens. When I try to force the scenes, I almost always write myself into a corner and then I have to walk away from the computer and do something mundane like laundry. Or eat. Or give a friend a call.
Basically, I fiddle around until the hero tells me what I did wrong and what I need to do to fix it.
My schedule – if you can call it that – is pretty flexible depending on what’s happening in my life. The most routine parts are that upon waking, I turn on my coffee and let the dogs out. When they come back in, I have my coffee done and we head upstairs to my desk. I eat a brownie or a chocolate Pop Tart or something along those lines, with my coffee, and I check email. I always have a TON of email. It usually takes me at least an hour to go through it all.
Next, I have some sites online that I check.
My message board
The Running With Quills blog
I get more coffee.
(Isn’t this fascinating?)
After all that, if possible, I write. Ta dum!
By “if possible” I mean if the phone doesn’t ring, or the dogs don’t have a problem, or my grandson isn’t calling “Maw-maw” to me. (My son or my husband do most of his daytime babysitting, but I can’t resist him!)
My other two sons check in almost daily.
Sometimes I need to talk with my agent or editor.
I do a lot of charity work, and sometimes I need to take care of that.
I have a cafe press store where I sell readers and writers stuff (like the shirts I mentioned above) with proceeds going to charities, and sometimes that needs work...
Yes, writing is a priority, but where it falls in the list of my priorities changes from day to day, sometimes hour to hour. (Never does it come before family.)
How long I spend on a book has too many factors to name them all. What is the word count? What’s going on in my life at the time? How easily does the book come to me?
My book lengths are:
Novellas – 25,000 to 30,000 words
Trade(for the L.L.Foster books) – 90,000 words
Mass market – 100,000 to 130,000 words
Obviously, the longer the book, the more complex the plot, the more time it takes to make it all nicely coherent for the reader.
One thing I do that seems to help me a lot is I light a scented candle. Like Pavlov’s dog, that scented candle helps trigger something for me, and I can get into the writing quicker.
I also stick with writing only books that I’m dying to write, and heroes I’m enthusiastic about.
Which right now, means writing about the UFC-type fighters. Talk about yum! They’re perfect for inspiration.
So now I’m wondering... does any of that meet with what you imagined as a writer’s schedule, or her process? Do you think I’m just plain nuts? Do you have something (like scented candles) that helps you get things done? And lastly, do you have strict routines for things, or like me, do you let each day dictate what needs to be done?
Plea from the author: I wrote this blog mega quick, so please don’t check me on grammar, or for that matter, spelling! I’m currently ¾ of the way through my first L.L. Foster book (urban fantasy) due out in October, on top of planning a trip to my first live UFC event March 3rd, and collecting overflowing baskets of author goodies and books to benefit my local no-kill animal shelter, and collecting recipes for a cook book to be published by Samhain in June with proceeds going to my local Battered Women’s Shelter, and finalizing plans for my June 1st–3rd Reader/Author event.
So please be gentle with me. It's enough to drive a crazy person sane.
Encore! Marianne Mancusi is here tomorrow along with a great contest from Dorchester!
Encore due! And don't forget Val Day. Bella fave Anna DeStefano's back with one of her divine contests, and I'm at RidingWithTheTopDown.bgspt.