Firstly, thank you so much WereVampsRomance for having me here today! I'm thrilled to be promoting the third book in The Dark Ink Chronicles, EVENTIDE, due to release March 6th!! I've had many readers who write and ask for guidance in their own endeavor of writing a novel, and so I thought this would be a great place to give others a little insight on my process. Of course, my process works for me, it might work for you, but it might not. Everyone eventually finds their own groove. So here goes a few tips of what I do to get a book started, into shape and in front of my editor!
First, to start with...this saga isn't my first, though. I've learned alot about the
publishing/marketing/writing world since publishing my first novel under the pen name Cindy Miles. Spirited Away was the first of five novel, all related by ghostly characters, released in 2006-2009. Spirited Away was truly the book of my heart. To this day I love it! Along with Into Thin Air, Highland Knight, MacGowan's Ghost, and Thirteen Chances (all fanciful romances involving a larger-than-life Hero, who happens to be dead, who loses their heart to a fiesty American Heroine), they hold a very special place in my heart. My Dark Ink Chronicle series, though, are vastly different in content, in everything. How can I love two totally different subgenres and completely different characters? That's it. CHARACTERS. Forming, naming, and building each character into a real person (in my mind!) is what drives my stories. I love the creating process of developing a character. I fill out a questionaire asking every single aspect of a persons character: physical appearance, emotional, characteristics, good habits, bad habits. That is the very first thing I do when creating a new story. Once I have a character in mind, I have to love them before I can create the world around them.
Once my character charts are filled out for all main characters (secondary characters even get one, though a lot less detailed), I form the story itself. Usually I know what direction I want to go in (whether sweet ghost, mystery, vampire, etc) and I write an initial synopsis. Once I've finalized the synopsis (and the story has sold!) I use that synopsis as a guideline for writing each chapter. In my ghost series, I usually write anywhere from 25 to 30 chapters. In my vampire series, I changed it up a bit and I write in parts--generally 10, with titles. I also form a storyboard, and that part's fun. I find pictures on the Internet of characters, settings, etc, and pin them all to a cork board. I also love taking photos, and I love to travel and have been fortunate enough to visit England and Scotland many times. I use alot of the pics from there on the board, too. (and I've attached a few faves here, including a Romanian castle pic that was actually used on the cover of Eventide!) I find alot of art (in the case of The Dark Ink Chronicles, Gothic art) that I print out and use for the board. I stare at that cork board throughout the writing of the book. It's fun inspiration!
I then write a short blurb--like what you'd find on the back cover of a novel--that encapsulates what that chapter or part is about. It's really a mini-guideline. I keep a cute, fat notebook beside me at all times, with a nice purple or pink gel pen. Fun writing! I also have a section of notes to reflect back on (so your Hero can have the same color eyeballs as he has in chapter one as in chapter eleven!) From that mini-blurb I write the chapter/part around it. So I guess you could say that I'm a heavy mixture of a Pantster and a Plotter. :) I do both. Hopeully, an equal mix!
I also make page goals for myself. Set yourself a certain number of pages to write for your writing day and whatever you do, MAKE THE GOAL! They don't have to be perfect pages. You can always go back and edit!
Also, figure out when the best time is best for your brain to function. Easy, right? Lol! Hardly! When I first started writing, my kids were pretty young. I began writing in the early morning/afternoon so I could be finished with writing by the time they got home from school. They're grown and out of the house now, but I still prefer early morning writing. Like, 4am writing! After 4pm my brain and body decide there are other things to do! So plan your writing schedule out as best you can. My best pal writes whenever she can because she has the busiest schedule I've ever seen! So she'll write in the parking lot in her car while her daughter is in dance class, or take her lunch break in her car and write for an hour. We call it her "Car Office" (Shout out Kim Lenox!)
So that's basically my routine. You might find yourself in various stages of publishing/writing. You might be a brand-new beginner, just starting to decide you might want to write a book and unsure what to do next. Or you've been writing for a while, in a critique group, and have actuallyl submitted work to agents or editors. Or you may have an accumulation of rejections! (That's a good thing! You're not afraid to put your work out there!) My first book, Spirited Away, garnered close to 100 rejections (agents and editors) before I revised it and gained an agent with it! It took me 8 years, from the complettion of my first novel (NOT Sprited Away!) to the time Sprited Away sold to NAL. It doesn't take that long for some. It takes longer for others. Regardless, you always have to stay on your toes, be aware of the market, and read, read, read! And...never give up!!!!
A little about me...I grew up on the salt marshes of the Vernon River in Savannah, Georgia. I didn't really appreciate the ghostly moss and horsedrawn buggies and ancient cobbles of the historic district in Savannah until I was an adult, but it never fails yet to fascinate me. The Ghost of Dibble Hollow by May Nickerson Wallace was my first ghost story and to this day one of my faorites. I love reading Young Adult novels, Horror (Stephen King is ultimately my favorite author!) and I love love love to travel to Scotland! I love to bake and I'm obsessed with chips and salsa. Presently, I write Urban Fantasy/Dark Paranormal Romance for Penguin/NAL under the name Elle Jasper, and I have my first Young Adult ghost romance mystery, FOREVERMORE, by Scholastic Books, under the pen name Cindy Miles, releasing first with their Fair sales in January 2013, followed by Trade book sales in June 2013. My present series, The Dark Ink Chronicles, will continue on with books 4 and 5, tentatively named A Riley Poe Novel, with the first title, BLACK FALLEN, releasing in Winter 2012. These contain the same characters, plus a few new ones (and a few old ones from my Cindy Miles novels!) as The Dark Ink Chronicles. Black Fallen takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland, and I think you'll really dig it!
EVENTIDE, book 3 of The Dark Ink Chronicles, releases March 6, and here's a little bit about it...
Newly-bitten tattoo artist Riley Poe feels herself changing in unimaginable ways. Eli Dupre, her vampire lover, has seen the change in her and fears for her humanity. His rival, Victorian, tells her she must see the patriarch of the vampire cult that attacked her to save her soul. In the vampire cult's fortress in Romania, Riley will face her worst fears-and the dark powers threatening to destroy her. And she'll have to do the one thing she's been determined not to do-put her trust in Eli.
And if you're unfamiliar with the series itself, and you're interested in giving it a try, I suggest starting with the first book, AFTERLIGHT, followed by book two, EVERDARK. This series is a continuation series and each book takes off where the last one left off! You will probably be totally confused if you start in the middle!
A little about the series itself...
Riley Poe leads the series as a gritty, unconventional tattoo artist-turned-undead-slayer after her younger brother is lured into a gang led by a pair of vicious Romanian vampires. In books 1,2,and 3, Riley, a dead-sexy guardian vampire named Eli Dupre, his undead family and Riley's surrogate grandparents-who are not only Gullah root doctors but hoodoo conjurers as well--stalk the underside of Savannah, Charleston, and a trip to the Old World as they track the deadly Arcos vampires to Romania. The story unfolds through Riley's eyes in first person where you learn of Riley's torrid past, her desires, and her fears as she falls hard for Eli, becomes Victorian Arcos' obsession, and struggles not to become the very thing she fights: a vampire.
Okay! If you're a writer-in-the-making, I hope you can take away a little inspiration from this post! And if you're a reader, and you decide to give The Dark Ink Chronicles a try, I hope you enjoy!! I am running a contest on my website for a chance to win a signed copy of EVENTIDE and a new Kindle Fire! Check here for details:http://ellejasper.com/contest.html
And thank you so much WereVampsRomance for having me! And... a little giveaway here as well. Three signed copies of Eventide! Good luck, everyone, with your reading, your writing, and the contest!