Every Monday authors blog about their own writing process, using a standard format and answering the same questions. This is definitely a multi-genre hop; I’ve seen mystery, paranormal, young adult, and romance. Follow the links to “meet” more writers.
What am I working on?
I’m writing Death Tracks, the second in the Waterside Kennels mystery series. This one picks up soon after the events of the summer chronicled in Deadly Ties. After the trouble she had over the summer, all Maggie Porter wants to do is run her boarding kennel and training business. And she wants to spend time with her own dogs—an aging Cocker Spaniel, a champion Labrador Retriever and a Beagle retired from federal service.
Alas, a quiet life is not to be. First, an abrasive community member launches a campaign to enact a “dangerous dog” ordinance which could force Maggie out of business—or into jail. When he’s found dead near the kennel, some in the community have their own reasons for wanting to pin the murder on Maggie herself. Under a cloud of suspicion and with her home and business at risk, she sets out to clear her name and finds herself caught in a murderous land feud that could tear the mountain community apart.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
You’ll find elements of the traditional cozy mystery in my work: an amateur sleuth, a small community, connections to local law enforcement, and a mystery my sleuth is motivated to solve. There’s an eclectic group of characters, a hint of romance, and plenty of plot twists to keep you guessing.
You won’t find vulgar language or graphic violence in my books. I do push the traditional definition of a cozy, though, by introducing a bit more suspense, a bit more trouble than you might see in a typical light-hearted, whimsical romp. My characters—including the dogs!—are good, bad, and sometimes both. That might be why my work has been called “a cozy with an edge.” Still, they’re the sort you finish with a sense of satisfaction. Mystery solved, justice served, the villains get their comeuppance, and you’re not left with violent images to disturb your sleep!
Why do I write what I do?
I like puzzles. I like writing about ordinary people in challenging situations. If my sleuth gets into trouble, she’s smart enough to figure a way out. She’s loyal and willing to stand up for what she thinks is right.
I write about the Ozarks because I love the region. I want readers to see beyond the stereotype and appreciate the beauty of the place and its people. I’m fascinated by Ozark myths and legends, and by the family stories handed down from one generation to the next.
How does my writing process work?
I start with a “What if …?” and tinker until I can see how the pieces fit together. Then it’s time for research. I won’t start writing until I know the end of the story. From there I work backward to identify key plot points, character actions, and major scenes. I’ve tried various software programs but eventually go back to what works best for me—sticky notes I can move around on a board.
For many years I wrote with my beloved spaniel, Alix, at my feet. Now I have a rescue kitty, Buddy, who keeps me company. He prefers to supervise me in my office, where he’ll watch my progress from the comfort of a window seat. When he thinks I’ve worked long enough, he strolls across the desk and stands on my keyboard.
Somewhere around the third or fourth draft (I’m a serial reviser), I’ll send bits to my beta readers. I work with three or four beta readers, each with a specific focus. One, for example, is an expert dog trainer. If she says something won’t work, out it goes and I’ll revise until she’s satisfied. Another is a mystery writer, who is wonderful at spotting plot issues and talking through scenes. A third is an English professor and avid reader who understands the writing process, has a keen eye, and is a wonderful listener. And so it goes, until the book is the best it can be.
Keep on Hopping!