Tag: paranormal

Total 4 Posts

To Plot or Not To Plot

To plot or not to plot? That is the question when I start a new story. Most times, I write a fast rough draft after I have a sketch of an outline.

When I wrote during National Novel Writing Month in November, or NaNoWriMo, I wrote as quickly and frequently as possible without revision because the goal is to write 50,000 words in the month. So, it’s more important to get the story down and save revision for later on.

I completed two novels, A Kiss Out of Time and A Dance Out of Time, both YA paranormal books by that method.They needed editing, and I went through them several times before they became publishable, but I enjoyed the free flow of ideas and quick writing it took to meet the NaNoWriMo deadlines.

However, my first romance novel, Wildflowers, a western historical set along the Oregon Trail, took several years and versions to complete before publication. I wrote the draft in a small notebook while commuting to my job as a copy writer in New York City. I did tons of research which I kept in a notebook, used index cards to write notes on characters, and created a timeline for events along the route the characters followed to get from Missouri to Oregon.  I typed the novel on my first personal computer, and it went through many revisions with critique partners before becoming published.

I’ve met writers who don’t start writing a draft until they’ve done extensive research and meticulous outlines.  I’ve also met writers who I identify with as “pantsers” and write the entire draft and then follow-up with research and revision.

I find myself doing a combination of the two with using  some kind of an outline or notebook  for ideas, a brief synopsis, and then writing as much as I can. I do research as needed.  I also keep a photo collection containing photos from magazines, postcards, and street maps to help visualize the story.  I enjoy using Pinterest and created a few boards to visualize settings, characters, food, and even music which might set the mood for a story.

To plot or not to plot? I think the answer is you need to plot, but you can approach it several ways from a few lines on a Post-It note to several detailed pages. Whatever works and gets you to write the story can determine the approach to plotting.

Happy Endings

“And they lived happily ever after” is the classic once-upon-a-time tale. I became a fan of romance novels for many reasons including the sensual portrayals, the blend of historical facts with fiction, strong heroes and heroines, and the happily ever after endings.

However, when I began writing my romance stories, I wasn’t sure how to get to that happily ever after until I got to know the characters, their conflicts, the different elements being used including the paranormal or the historical or a mix of both. As a writer I found myself on the journey along with the hero and heroine in finding their “happily ever after”, and at the end I generally felt the “ah” moment as well as a little sadness like bidding good friends farewell after spending some time together. If you’re a writer, I think you’ll understand. If you’re a reader, I think you’ll understand too. I’ve indulged in books where I could not put them down, and when they ended I sat clutching the book awhile and felt that sense of satisfaction too.

In my latest book, A Dance Out of Time, I got to know my heroine Georgina Claythorne, the teenage ghost hunter, a little more and wanted her to not only deal with the haunting of her family’s bed and breakfast in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, a shore town which I’ve come to know and love, but I wanted Georgina to feel that “happy ever after” if only for the time until another story. It takes work, struggle for the characters and the writer, but it is satisfying!

Happy readings!

Writing Mentor Friends: Kathryn Hayes

Kathryn Hayes, a founding mother of the New York City chapter of Romance Writers of America was a one-woman welcome wagon for new members. As a children’s book librarian for the New York City public library, she often brought material about books to the writers’ group and gave me educational material for my teaching or my son. In addition to organizing local writers’ workshops, Kathryn proofread the chapter’s newsletter and judged its writing contest.

Writing as Kathryn Hitte, she published several children’s books including an anthology used in elementary schools. Kathryn gave me a copy of that anthology which contained a copy of Mexicali Soup, a story she wrote with her husband William D. Hayes which also came out in picture book form.

Aside from being members of the same writers’ chapter, Kathryn and I became friends. She often invited me to join her for cappuccino or hot cocoa after the meeting, and we took field trips to do research for our writing at local New York museums.

Kathryn suggested ways to outline story plot, use the library for research, and to use pictures and poetry for writing stories.

She had a wonderful reading voice and a theatrical flair which made the stories come alive.

Whenever I felt dejected about my writing, Kathryn reminded me to keep writing. “How’s that western going?” she’d ask in reference to my early drafts of Wildflowers. That book would later be published in 2007.

Kathryn also helped me with some of my research for a story dealing with reincarnation and ancient Mexico and later called Sacred Fires.

When I showed her the draft of a third novel dealing with a guardian angel and a psychic artist, Angels Among Us, she commented,“Oh, that is a good story,” which helped encourage me to finish the book and send it out.

Having been a children’s book librarian and having written for young audiences, Kathryn inspired me to write for young people. It would be a long while later, but I did when I wrote stories about a teen ghost hunter in New Jersey: A Kiss Out of Time, published 2013, and  A Dance Out of Time, published in 2015.

Sadly, Kathryn Hayes passed away in 2003, and I still miss her very much. I wish Kathryn Hayes had lived long enough to see my published work.  We would have had a celebration, and I know she would have been happy for me. I will always feel a sense of indebtedness and love for my mentor and friend, Kathryn Hayes.