Today’s prompt for #ASummerInWriting is Plotter or Pantser.
A plotter is someone who plans their story before writing it. They outline. They usually know what happens in each chapter. I wish I could underline “usually” because they are many varying degrees and ways of being a plotter or pantser.
When you’re a pantser, the idea is you sit at your computer and write without a detailed outline or a roadmap. A pantser is someone who “flies by the seat of their pants.”
There are a lot of articles detailing both processes as well as the way some authors can be pantsing scenes while plotting chapters or vice-versa 🙂 Jami Gold has a comprehensive article entitled “Pantser vs. Plotter vs. Something In Between” if you’re interested in learning more.
I am a little bit of both.
I don’t have a very detailed outline. I do have a bit of a roadmap. I usually know how the story ends. I mean it’s a romance so there’s a happy ending, but I usually have the epilogue scene playing in my mind like a movie. I know some of the plot points. Buuuuut…I learn about the story and more about my characters as I start typing. Which means that things change. A lot.
Since I started using Scrivener, I write scenes out of order.
I revise them and re-write them as needed and so when I type “The End” on my first draft, it’s in a much different place than for my first novels.
Because I learned that if I just go to the end without going through that process, if I just push through and continue writing the story without going back to change some things, to polish other scenes, to get more into the head of my characters, I end up needing way more time to re-work said first draft. I’ve been known to completely re-write books because that first draft wasn’t working. And I found that it’s more motivating to me and less time-consuming if I write the scenes out of order, re-write them or delete them if they don’t work and if they do work, make them shine as much as I can before typing “The End.
That first draft is not my final manuscript. Far from it. Revisions still happen of course. But once I type “The End” on my first draft, it’s much much closer to being ready to be sent to my critique partners.
So now, my first drafts may take me a bit longer (depending on the novel but I should do another post on that :-)), but they require less work after typing “The End.
Sie hatte sich schon auf dem Weg zur Spitze gesehen…Innerhalb einer Woche aendert sich Natalyas Leben fuer immer.
Die 16-jährige Natalya Pushkaya hat nur einen einzigen Traum: die beste Ballerina zu werden, die es je gegeben hat. Das Tanzen hat schon immer bestimmt, wer sie ist und sie würde alles tun, um die Hauptrolle in der jährlichen Abschlussvorstellung der School of Performing Arts zu landen.
This was an easy and yet so difficult question to answer.
Difficult because there are so many reasons I write (including wanting to make a living out of writing – I mean I’m still day-dreaming about getting that call from Reese Whiterspoon about adapting one of my books or maybe Netflix or Lifetime).
But mainly, it is difficult because answering it also means being vulnerable in a way. Putting those words out there. Not a story. But part of my story.
And then answering it is also easy because I know the answers. I know why I write. All the reasons. And one of the main reasons.
I feel like it’s always been because writing is an outlet for my imagination.
Already when I was a teenager…I had those stories I wanted to tell. It’s hard to describe the feeling I have when I finally fully understand my characters and how much I want to be able to tell their stories. And how much I can’t wait for them to have a happy ending. Even though for some of them, it might take a lot of heartache along the way, they will have a happy ending.
Writing enables me to express myself. And know that my words may help others in one way or another. It might distract them. Pull them in. It might make them feel…
And when I don’t write, my anxiety and OCD tend to get worse. It doesn’t mean that writing is easy or that writing is the all-in-one solution.
It’s all about balance, right?
I go to therapy. Well, right now, I do zoom therapies 🙂
And I’m lucky that I have two wonderful therapists. One who’s been helping me deal with the anxieties related to cancer and who’s been helping me with staying in the moment, being more present while also not ignoring the fears that come with *wave hands* everything.
And more recently I also started seeing an OCD specialist. And I’ll be forever grateful to my “cancer” therapist who recognized that she couldn’t help me with what I was going through with OCD. So that I could learn how to deal with it. It’s also a process. I have homework 😛
Apparently, going through months of chemo, then radiation, then immunotherapy, then a stem cell transplant and menopause and vitamin D deficiency and everything means that the brain may not have its usual mechanisms in place to deal with stress. Mechanisms I had learned in therapy back in Germany 🙂 I also had to learn new mechanisms for OCD as I hadn’t done too much work on that before. I’m telling you… it’s a process.
The last book I wrote TRUST ME, TRUST ME NOT meant a lot to me because I wrote it during treatment and right after treatment. I published it before my stem cell transplant. I raised money with it for LLS. I loved and still love Lacey and Hunter. Writing that book was very cathartic. And finishing to write that book felt like such an accomplishment.And the one I’m currently writing? It manages to make me laugh out loud. And swoon. And it’s very different than my romantic suspense (no killers in this one), but it’s another way for me to be in the moment. To work. To be productive. To dream. To be creative. To tell stories.
That’s why I write.
If you’re a writer, why do you write? And if you’re a reader, why do you read?
Today is the release day of the Italian version of A Summer Like No Other. I am so so excited about it. I even got one of the coveted little best-selling flags for it on Amazon Italy. 🙂
Thank you so much to my translator: Annalisa Lovat and my proofreader Cinzia Novi 🙂 and stay tuned for more information on bilingual editions of A SUMMER LIKE NO OTHER in Italian coming soon. And for the Italian version of ALWAYS SECOND BEST.
What’s the first line of the book you’re currently reading?
Here are the first lines of my novels (including my Work-In-Progress).
“Bucket List Item also known as “What was I thinking?” or “You’re going to rock this” List (depending on the days): Blind date – tomorrow.” (UNTITLED – Current WiP)
“Here’s what we all know: Sometime this week or the next or the one after that, we will find another dead girl.” (FEAR ME, FEAR ME NOT). Technically the first line of that novel is: Fear. (but I took the first line of the second chapter :P).
“Evil doesn’t sleep, doesn’t rest, doesn’t forget.” (SEE ME, SEE ME NOT)
“The daisies on my mother’s tomb remind me of happier times.” (TRUST ME, TRUST ME NOT)
“Blood. The blood is everywhere.” (ONE DREAM ONLY)
“Chopin’s music is the soundtrack of my life.” (ONE TWO THREE).
“The pop music blasts from the speakers so loudly that it resonates within me.” (A SUMMER LIKE NO OTHER)
“I SHOULD HAVE STAYED at the School of Performing Arts this weekend.” (ALWAYS SECOND BEST).
“Kneeing a guy in the balls might not be the best idea.” (LOVE IN B MINOR)
She thought she left the cult behind. He thought he’d always protect her. They were oh so wrong.
Twenty-year-old Lacey Simon jumped from a building on fire to escape the cult her stepdad was leading, so college should be oh so easy. Except Lacey can’t seem to move on. Not only does she receive threatening letters, she’s also failing her classes. Fun times. Only Hunter, the firefighter who saved her from the fire and who’s been there for her ever since, reminds her that her stepdad no longer dictates her future. He tutors her in English, and he makes her laugh, blush and help her be more daring. But why does it feel like he’s only doing this to redeem himself from mistakes of his past?
Twenty-one-year-old Hunter Harrington used to think he was invincible until a frat party turned tragic and he discovered a dead body in the pool. Ever since that day, he’s been doing his best to keep his grades up and help others. Yep, he even joined the volunteer firefighters’ college program. When he’s accused of plagiarism, he’s forced to spend more time with Lacey. Not that he minds. He’d love to get even closer. But he has secrets of his own that could destroy their relationship before it even starts. And can he really keep her safe?
Can they trust themselves and each other enough to no longer be afraid to love and…to stay alive?
And yes, it’s somewhat related to my books. For some reason, I’ve been thinking about mental health and how therapy has helped me and I just posted my random thoughts on Twitter.
So I thought, I’d share them here too. Because…why not?
Deep breath, here we go.
I ‘m not sure who needs to hear this, but I’ve been thinking about mental health and that I should share my own experience. I was in therapy for 2 years in Germany. I have high-functioning anxiety and needed to deal with a few things on top of that anxiety and/or resulting from that anxiety. I was working full-time, and was gaining more and more responsibility at work. I loved my high-stress job (for the most part), and I was good at it (at least I want to believe so).
One of the reasons I was able to do that much was thanks to therapy. My therapist used Cognitive behavioral techniques.
She gave me the tools I needed. And it wasn’t immediate. And it was a lot of hours. I used to go once a week during my lunch break. Then once every 2 weeks, then once a month. I started because The Chemical Engineer very rightly told me that he couldn’t be my therapist.
I had tried it in the US too while finishing my first Master’s but it didn’t click. And I didn’t look for someone else. I probably should have tried to find a professional then, but I waited a few more years to really invest the time in myself.
Fast-forward four years and I’m back in therapy to deal with all those emotions and fears that come with cancer. I didn’t get therapy in my first cancer center and it’s a pity they didn’t offer it, because I was retreating and didn’t know how to deal with it.
When I started seeing my therapist in January 2018, I was a mess. And she has helped me so so so much. She listens to me and gives me the tools I need to deal with all of that.
The Chemical Engineer even went to a few sessions and it has made such a difference in the way we communicate through this. Therapy has made a big difference in my life. And yet, there still seems to be a stigma attached to it.
Maybe that’s why a lot of the characters in my books go through therapy. It’s not magic. It doesn’t happen overnight. And it can take time to find the right person. But I believe it does help. And if you need it, I really hope you’re able to receive it and seek that help ❤
And here’s a picture of Plato The Dog because that picture always manages to me smile.
It’s my fifth publishing anniversary or The One With All The Thoughts…First: “The One…” is a reference to Friends’ episodes, I’m not trying to say I’m The One with all the thoughts. That would be a looooot of thoughts 😉 It was either going to be that or It’s my fifth publishing anniversary and I’ll write a blog post if I want to (imagine me singing…or not…you probably shouldn’t, I have a speaking voice :-))
It’s been five years since this picture was taken.
Wow. Five. Years. The Chemical Engineer and I were living in Mainz, in Germany with Peter The Cat. I was working at the European Central Bank as Press Officer. We now live in Maryland with Plato The Dog and Bobbie Voltaire the Cat, where after going back into teaching, I am now writing and narrating. A lot has happened in five years, both publishing and non-publishing wise.
But first, a little or rather big shout-out to my parents who are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary today (June 26th,2019). Forty-five years! And let me just say, it makes my heart full of ❤
Now, when it comes to publishing. In those five years, there has been tears and laughter, total failures and resounding successes.
Some days, I feel like I still have no clue what I’m doing. Others, it feels like I have somewhat of an idea. Publishing has been a roller coaster of emotions. And let me make one thing clear, I am able to do it this way thanks to the Chemical Engineer. I definitely don’t make enough for us to live off my writing. And I’m very grateful he still believes in me after five years.
Five years ago, I published ONE, TWO, THREE…
When I published One, Two, Three, I thought it was going to be an instant bestseller.
You know the kind…even though I since realized that many (maybe most; I’m not sure since I don’t have any hard data) of the overnight successes had actually been in the making for decades.
Anyways, I believed I would wake up the morning of the launch and thousands of copies would have sold. I would be hitting all bestseller lists. Producers would be calling me, begging me to adapt the story for TV. Bookstores would ask me to stock it because people would be asking for it.
On the first day, it sold less than the number of my Facebook friends. Way less. Way way less. And nobody contacted me to adapt it for TV.
But I am still writing and I am still publishing and I am still selling copies of One, Two, Three today. And someone made fan art from the story!
Plus. the French translation got picked up as my option book with a French publisher.
It was retitled VIVRE, AIMER, DANSER… I love that cover!
And I still receive emails from readers who tell me how Natalya’s story has moved them, and how it has helped them somehow, and how much they loved getting to know her and Antonio, and Becca, and James.
Since I published One, Two, Three, I published one novelette (One Dream Only – Natalya’s story 0.5), one novella (A Summer Like No Other – Em & Nick #1) and four novels (Always Second Best, Em & Nick #2, Love in B Minor, Fear Me Fear Me Not and See Me See Me Not).
I went to writer’s retreats with talented writers and amazing human beings ❤
I participated in several authors’ events, and shared the stage with NYT bestseller authors and so many talented authors.
I signed a guitar!
I was featured in the Baltimore Sun.
Recently, I got my first BookBub promotion for FEAR ME, FEAR ME NOT. I’ve been trying for 5 years to get a BookBub 🙂 and I loved what they did for the promotion and how well it worked!
Some of my books are even available in audiobook! Like LOVE IN B MINOR which has been gathering wonderful reviews!
I started producing my own audiobooks, like LA PEUR DANS LE SANG (and soon UN SEUL REVE).
I started narrating other people’s books, like this Learning French audiobook.
As well as other audiobooks for which I use a pen name…;-)
During that time, I also got diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (in October 2017). After finding out that I needed to change treatments, I also organized an auction to benefit non-profits who help young adults with cancer. I was blown away by the amount of support I received from the publishing community for the Let’s Do Something Good auction! I mean I even got a signed book from Jenna Fischer! And she retweeted me and tweeted me directly!
I am back in treatment now and it’s not necessarily easy (for many reasons) yet easier (in other ways), but let me tell you: the book I currently have on pre-order, TRUST ME TRUST ME NOT, means a lot to me.
I can’t tell if I love one of my books more than the other, but I can tell you that writing Lacey and Hunter has been cathartic in a lot of ways. Being able to write has been emotional and hard and easy at the same time. Writing always is, but having Lacey trying to move forward, not knowing if she really can has been hitting a spot.
During these past five years, I didn’t reach a point where both The Chemical Engineer and I and our four-legged friends (see pictures below because how cute are they :-)) could live from my income. I loss some (especially at the beginning), I gained some (I actually make profits from my writing now, whoop whoop!).
I still dream of getting contacted by a producer. So if you’re a producer reading this, don’t hesitate 😉
But most importantly, I am grateful I get to write those stories in my head. Writing helps keeping me balanced even when it’s hard and frustrating, I find that it helps me.
I am grateful to my family and friends and everyone who helps me and cheers me on along the way (my talented and generous writer friends, photographer, cover designers, translators, editors and more).
And I’m especially grateful to my wonderful husband (who did get a Best Husband Of The Year Award last year or was it two years ago? :-)). Sometimes I have the feeling that I should do more, try more ways to sell more books (and I do), but even when The Chemical Engineer asks me for Excel sheets for the business side (and full disclosure: we bicker ;-)), I know he believes in me. And that means the world.
And I’m grateful to YOU, dear reader, for taking a chance on my books…and for loving the characters as much as I do ❤
On Wednesday, the French translation of my novel A SUMMER LIKE NO OTHER comes out again in paperback. But this time, it is published by Dreamland (City Editions). They publish Jessica Sorensen too (I’m still pinching myself over this fact :))
That makes me a so-called hybrid author: self-published and traditionally published. I don’t regret my decision to self-publish one bit. However, I don’t deny that knowing two of my books are going to be available in bookstores is giving me a happy fluttery feeling.
Look –> it’s my book on the site of the Bibliothèque nationale de France 🙂
A bit less than a year ago, I received an email from City Editions asking me if I’d like to have the French versions of A SUMMER LIKE NO OTHER and ALWAYS SECOND BEST in bookstores in France.
I didn’t believe it was real at first. I thought it might be a service someone was offering but nope, they were a serious publishing house and they wanted my books. I signed a contract. I got an advance. Everything was real.
You have no idea what it did to me when I read in the contract a clause about possibly being picked up by France Loisirs in the future. France Loisirs is my youth. It’s a subscription service with so many amazing books and just a lot of memories of going to their stores too sometimes to choose the book I would get. Someone else might pick up my book one day after perusing the store or their catalog for hours. And that makes me happy.
But even if that doesn’t happen, my book, my words…are going to be available in bookstores. Fnac, Cultura, Decitre, local bookstores…even Leclerc. Who knows maybe I’ll also see it at Cora, the store I used to work at as cashier during part of my studies?
And I’m grateful.
To City Editions for reaching out to me. To the translator of A SUMMER LIKE NO OTHER & ALWAYS SECOND BEST, Edith Girval who is simply oh so talented. To everyone who’s read the books already which probably gave me the exposure needed to be seen. To my family and friends for their unwavering support. To my husband, who is every bit as excited about this as I am and who’s so proud of me.
Tomorrow is the day I become a hybrid author. And trust me, when we go to France in a few weeks, I’ll be walking into a bookstore and might shed a tear holding my book in my hands.
Tomorrow is also the day I’m going to reveal the cover of my next book, SEE ME, SEE ME NOT (with a bunch of fun things and giveaways planned). Stay tuned…