What I Write


Plotter, Pantser, Explorer #mfrwauthor

One of the first things I get asked when someone learns I am a published author is "Are you a plotter or a pantser?" To avoid the impassioned defense of whatever method the questioner uses or the inevitable proselytizing to change to their side, I've developed a response, "Yes."

How do I justify being both a plotter or pantser? Or anti-plotter, discoverer, or whatever the latest process is.

I write fantasy and historical fiction so a certain amount of preparation or pre-writing needs to be done to get the world fixed in my mind. Shorter works, such as novellas, are usually free-written. However, I do like structure for full-length novels and have a set of forms including a scene storyboard, main character sheets, and a spreadsheet for tracking secondary characters. Depending on the complexity of the works I might create a timeline of who is where.

Because I may storyboard some scenes, I have been called a plotter. A note on the storyboarding. For any given scene it can be complete with dialog and transitions ready to drag and drop into the manuscript. If additional scenes are written, I don't go back and storyboard. And I complete the character forms as the story unfolds. Some plotters create detailed character sheets on everyone in the novel before starting writing. They also outline in detail the entire story before writing a first draft. I met an author who did that and took twenty years to write his debut novel. There is no second. However, because I also write complete chapters without pre-planning/outlining/storyboarding I've been called a pantser.

As to writing process, my advice is "Don't label yourself. Stub and shorthand where need be to work around a block. Use whatever writing process works for you at any given time for a particular project. It's your story to be captured however it will allow itself to be."

Be sure to visit the other authors in the challenge to see their process and comments. My apologies, there was a blip this week, so the auto-fill of participants is missing. In its place I've put the manual links for those posts I found and update them as more are revealed. Hope you'll still check them out.

~till next time, Helen

Write a Romance Novel, There's a Plot Afoot,Robin Michaela
My Writing Process, Peggy Jaeger
Plotting - A Pantser's Guide to Writing, Sara Walter Ellwood
My Writing Process, Alina K. Field
Dem Bones, Calin Briste
Plodding Right Along, Raine Balkera
Meka's Musings, Meka James
Is it a Process? Caroline Warfield
How My Brain Works, Kenzie Michaels
Confession of a Recovering Pantser, Ed Hoornaert
Frantic Procrastination, Maureen Bonatch
Gemma Snow


Guilty Pleasures - Food, Drink, and Luxury #MFRWauthor

As romance writers, pleasures, guilty or otherwise, are often part of the genre. Revealed are a few of those that have appeared in my book or my heart.

  1. Chocolate
  2. Chocolate Eclairs
  3. Chilled crustaceans. Ellspeth of Sea Falcon comments in Windmaster about her love of this delicacy found in her native seas of Nerelan. or myself, I love Gulf shrimp.
  4. Wine. An author's tastes can sometimes transfer to their characters and white wine is our favorite.
  5. Long soak in a hot tub. One fed by hot springs was captured in Windmaster Legacy. 
  6. Time to myself, no responsibilities, no duties, nothing but me on a dock watching the fireflies dance above the water
  7. Did I say time to myself? Quiet time...quiet time... quiet time.
Is there a guilty pleasure in your favorite book or really enjoyed yourself? Leave a comment below. And be sure to visit the other posts in the challenge for more "guilty pleasures."

~till next time, Helen


Writing Your First Novel? Come & Learn

Free mini-writers' conference for new and emerging writers.  May 6th at the M. R. Davis Library, Southaven MS. Come and learn about creating 3-dimensional characters, plotting, and editing. It's a great opportunity to learn from a group of multi-published authors.

Event also includes a book sale by the presenters and a Q&A on publishing. Speakers include Linda Rettstatt, Kimberly Koz, Vanessa VanDenBlaze, Wendy Strain, and Kim Smith. More details on the speakers, their presentations, and the event can be found by clicking on the poster on the sidebar or using this link.

Registration deadline is April 26th and seating is limited so register early. Download a printer-friendly schedule and registration form.

Download Registration form Only.

Hope to see you there. I'll be one of the presenters.



Rick kick stick ick? #MFRWauthor

I had planned on skipping Week 9 of the 52-week challenge. The prompt "ick" words created that response.  "Ick" otherwise known as "ew words" But I reread the rules and to get the button at the end you have to do all 52 weeks, so I thought I'd give it a try. Without any real idea in mind, other than not to include the list of forbidden phrases and words (you now what I mean, the list romance publishers have on their submissions page as ones not allowed), I turned the computer on and went to the net for some quick research. At 2 in the morning, research is always quick. It has to be done in between summonses to adjust beds and bathroom runs.

Scans of the search results were mainly the previously mentioned forbidden words or articles about censorship. Then there was an article referencing a 2016 New York Times story on "word aversion."

Now I had never heard the phrase "word aversion," let alone logomisia. At first, I thought it was a fake word. Or maybe it was like ALOGOTRANSIPHOBIA, the fear of being caught on public transport with nothing to read, a word which has not yet found its way into dictionaries.

Logomisia or the easier on the ear, word aversion, is described as a phenomenon that causes people to be repelled by common words.The majority of references described the reaction as only relating to specific word sounds others consider its connotation, what the word brings to mind.

So what are "words that make readers go "ick?" A great number of the words readers listed in the New York Times survey were related to body parts and bodily functions. Think school boy humor. Then there are certain word sounds that create a "ew" response, especially "oosh" words.

Now as a writer you might consider the topic irrelevant. But if you use a word, or group of them, that are known to turn a reader away in disgust, distaste, or even create a visceral, physical response, be sure that is the reaction you want to achieve. And to use them sparingly. If a book is full of the "aversion words," the reader might not enjoy the book, or even finish it.

Be sure to visit the other authors in the challenge to read their response to "icky words." ~till next time, Helen


And here's the rest of the hop. Join in.


Name the Blosson - Rose or Tulip? #MFRWauthor

Among the first things that catch a reader's attention is a book cover, the back page blurb, and the title. Several considerations go into selecting the perfect title. Too long and it might be forgotten. Titles need to be evergreen or at the very least adhere to contemporary rules.

For me the hardest part of selecting a title was finding one that was not already in use. The perfect title is conceived, then your hopes are dashed with a quick online search. A book in your genre was released just six months earlier with the same title.

"Titles aren't copyrighted," your inner self urged. "Go ahead and use it."

However, copyright isn't the primary consideration. Recognition is. If you use the same title as a popular book, yours will appear far, far back in the search results. There might be a coat-tail effect, where readers looking for the other book stumble across yours and decide to give it a try. But it is just as likely a possibility of a backlash when they realize your book was not the one they really wanted.

Selecting a title is even more difficult when the standalone book became a series. So here's the story behind the titles of the Dragshi Chronicles. You'll notice that the keyword shifted between the first book in the series and the rest. That's because when the titles were being selected, it seemed like every combination with "dragon" was in use. And I had to have "dragon" as that was a critical component of the story.

The Dragshi Chronicles

Dragon Destiny
Hatchlings Curse
Hatchling's Mate
Hatchling's Vengeance

Dragon Destiny was chosen to reflect the hopes of Lord Branin Llewlyn of the dragshi that the trader girl Anastasia would have a destiny as half of a dragon-human pairing. Hatchlings Curse hinted at the price paid for the freedom of flight. Spoiler alert. After the curse was broken, the hatchling had to search for a mate to continue his kind. The final book of the tale of the dragshi was told in Hatchling’s Vengeance. So each of the chronicles had something related to dragon. Hatchling was chosen as the keyword as at the time there were few titles with "hatchling" in them.

In each of the chronicles, a legend or tale from the past was recounted. When Hatchling's Vengeance was completed, there seemed to be something left unsaid. I knew it wasn't another book in the series. I realized that the legends needed their own due, which meant another book. One based in the world of the dragshi, but not of the tales of Branin and the trader girl Anastasia. After they legends were written (which ended up being a collection of five novellas and short stories. I didn't want a "dragon" or a "hatchling" title because I consciously wanted something different.

The anthology needed to have separation from the Dragshi Chronicles. A reread of the stories gave the answer. The one thing each had in common was first change-- the event when the dragon soul twin awoke. Hence the title selected was First Change: Legends From the Eyrie.

Do you like your titles to relate to the storyline or just be a catchy phrase? Leave a note in the comments below. And don't forget to visit the other authors who are participating in the 52-week 52-post challenge

~till next time, Helen