I’m often asked what the most difficult part of the writing process is and what pieces of it that I like and dislike. For a time, I fumbled around with my answer to this until I realized that, in reality, there is no part of it that I find difficult or dislike. I enjoy every facet of writing and today I will be sharing with you why. It might also amaze the non-writers out there how many aspects that there actually are to the writing process.
Not every good story necessarily starts at the beginning, but I will do so here. Writing commences with an idea. My Clay Wolfe/Port Essex series begins with Wolfe Trap and the notion tinkling around in the recesses of my brain was what if heroin was being smuggled through lobster traps? Hm. That was the very beginning of not just a new book, but a new series. As I began to look into that topic, I came across a news blip of a woman who’d rubbed the residue from her heroin baggie on her baby infant’s gums to stop the child from crying. Repeatedly. Until the baby died. Terrible. But that had to find its way into the book. Most ideas come from something real.
I write histories and mysteries. In both cases, once the basic concept of the new novel is born, research must follow. For my histories, this usually means preloading by reading multiple books about the time and place. For Love in the Time of Hate, I read five books about New Orleans after the Civil War before I wrote a word. I’ve also found it an incredible experience to visit, and my wife and I spent a fabulous week in New Orleans doing ‘research’. I read more books and internet searches continued after I began writing. With the mysteries, there is not so much preloading. I often just do internet searches and reading to acquaint myself with the topic. These have included nuclear power plants, powerful lobbyists, cults, genome editing, and much more. All great fun to delve into.
Once a degree of research has been done, then the writer will sit down to write. This is a fantastic experience. My current work in progress is about a quarter of the way in and chugging along. The idea for Mainely Wicked was the prevalence of witches in the world today. Many of these witches, or wiccans, are good and believe in healing and magic, but like most religions, what if there is a twisted sect of wiccans out there who have radical belief’s. Around that, I’m creating an entire novel that each and every day I toil around in my mind trying to figure out the age-old question: What’s next?
The idea, the research, and the writing are only the tip of the iceberg. Then begins the editing process which takes on many different hats. The first level begins with myself as I try to clean up the mess I’ve made before sending it off to the housecleaner, in this case, my own editor, Michael Sanders, who has worked with me on all of my books. I usually do two passes before it goes off to him for three more rounds. I’m currently following his advice (mostly) on what we call the global edits, for my most recently completed book, Velma Gone Awry, set for release in December of 2022. This might be my very favorite part of the process. Here, I build scenes stronger, thread in plot pieces, build characters, and overall make the book much better. When I’ve finished with doing this, I’ll send it back for structural editing, and finally line editing, or the spit shine that makes it glow!
Those five edits take place before it even goes on to the publisher. But it is far from the last edits that will take place. Currently, the editor for Encircle Publications, Cynthia Bracket-Vincent, is doing her edits on my fourth Clay Wolfe/Port Essex mystery, Cosmic Trap, due out in September. She’ll convey these to me soon and I’ll go through to see if there is anything that I disagree with. There usually is not as I’ve found disagreeing with my wife or publishing editor to be a bad idea, and authors have a hard time running with bad ideas. At this point it will move onto the line editor who will clean up any items that have slipped through the first six edits. This is currently being done on my book for release in April, Mouse Trap. This generally is down to tiny miscues such as writing form instead of from. Easy to overlook, unless, of course, you are a reader who loves to find mistakes by an author and call them on it. And now, after an idea, research, writing, and seven edits, my baby is born novel is just about ready to enter the world.
One part that I have little to do with, but do get to review, is the cover art. The fabulous Deirdre Wait of Encircle Publications gathers from me the essence of the story and brainstorms some ideas and then comes up with fantastically creative covers, bringing to life my books. And then, let the promotion begin! I currently have over twenty bloggers who review my books and I will have sent ARCs off to them in advance of pub day. This stable was created by sending out hundreds of queries, a process that I try and build larger with every release. A new level of success was achieved recently when Al Warren of NBC Radio’s House of Mystery reached out to me to do an interview in February. For paid advertising, Facebook ads, Amazon ads, and paid for blog tours are all parts of the process.
Pub day! The idea has germinated with research into a written novel and has been carefully worked and reworked as if genome editing were taking place. The book has been set and the cover made and then it is born into the world. I just had the pleasure of welcoming a new book into the world with Mainely Angst. I further had the pleasure of launching and celebrating this new life at Sherman’s Maine Coast Bookshop in Topsham and was honored to have a good crowd come and support me. Friends, family, readers, fellow authors, and those I bribed with the offer of buying them a beer afterward all came together to celebrate the birth of my baby.