One of us lives on the east coast. One of us lives on the west.

One of us lives in a rural community. One of us lives in a city.

Both of us wander. Both of us witness. Both of us write.

This is a record of what we find.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour!

This writing process blog tour is spreading through and connecting our writing community like colorful, branching lines on a road map! Tam was just tagged by Kelly Bennett and will be posting next week. I was tagged a week and a half ago by my author friend, the lovely Frances Lee Hall. You can read her fascinating answers to the blog tour questions HERE

So, the first blog tour question is:
What am I currently working on? I am just finishing up a deepening revision of a historical YA adventure romance, THE LIES AND ILLUSIONS OF LUCY SPARROW. Set in San Francisco in 1876 on San Francisco's notorious Barbary Coast, it’s a story about a proper young lady named Lucy who arrives in San Francisco on her own, hoping to find her twin brother, but when everything goes terribly wrong she does the only thing she can to survive—dress as a boy and join a girl gang of ex-prostitutes who dress as boys and pick-pockets for a living. Of course, there are many complications including a fun mistaken-identity-romance triangle that nods at Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
There are no other YA stories set in San Francisco in the late 1800’s (that I know of) and it was such an amazing time and place! In 1876, the young city was bursting with new wealth from the influx of gold and silver and was cultured, glamorous, wild and full of extraordinary characters, many who have woven their way into the fabric of Lucy’s story including Jeanne Bonnet, Emperor Norton, Miss Piggott and Herrmann The Great. San Francisco’s notorious Barbary Coast was the city’s criminal district, home to hoodlums, depraved denizens and vicious criminals, earning its well- deserved reputation for vice and iniquity. I bet you didn’t know that he word ‘hoodlum’ was coined on the Barbary Coast in the late 1860’s and popularized in the 1870’s, as was the word ‘shanghaied’ which referred to the common practice of drugging and kidnapping unsuspecting young men into forced labor on ships bound for Shanghai. Of course, shanghaiing hoodlums make their way into Lucy’s story as well!

Why do I write what I write?
I write the stories I long to read. I always start with a burst of “what-if” frenzied creative energy where ideas are flying at me from all directions. Lucy Sparrow’s story came to me a few years ago when my husband David, an avid non-fiction reader, was reading about San Francisco’s history and the Barbary Coast in particular. He kept reading aloud these outrageous, hair-raising accounts of what was going on and at one point, I started thinking, jeez, what would happen if a young, innocent teen girl landed here on her own? How would she survive? And then Lucy walked into my consciousness and I had to write her story to find out what happened to her.

How does my individual writing process work?
Whether I’m writing contemporary YA, fantasy or historical fiction, the beginning is a flurry of ideas, with a setting, a character and a circumstance. I try to get down all the possibilities, all the ideas, then start connecting the ones that have the potential to be causally linked scenes. At the same time, I start developing my character and she (so far my MC has always been a girl) usually invites other characters that also get profiles. Then I take a big (BIG) piece of paper and write down all the possibly connecting scenes with the characters surrounding them. From there, I start to put together what might be vaguely (very vaguely) called a plot. I’m a very visual person, so I need lots of visual aids—I draw maps, cast my characters and print out their photos, find pictures in books, old albums, online and in magazines to cut out use as visual references. And then I start writing. The story never ends up following my initial pretend plot, but thinking I might have a story with a real plot gives me the false security to keep going and allows all the wonderful surprises that happen along the way to happen.

I’m not one of those writers who can just whip out a shitty first draft. I labor over words, sentences, passages. It’s not very efficient, but I can’t get up until the writing feels right. I do allow myself to write some bad dialogue, knowing that it will come out better in later drafts once I know more about my characters. The same for getting the emotion just right on the page. That comes with time over many, many drafts.

So who’s next? I’m tagging super blogger and author Debbi Michiko Florence! She’ll be blogging at DEBtastic Reads about her writing process on June 3rd  

Debbi is the author of two nonfiction children’s books, Japan: A Kaleidoscope Kids Book and China: A Kaleidoscope Kids Book (Williamson Books), and also writes children’s fiction. She interviews authors and shares book buzz on her blog DEBtastic Reads! A native Californian, she has lived and traveled all over the world. She currently lives in coastal CT with her husband, rat terrier, and two ducks.

Also, be sure to watch for Tam's writing process post here next week!

In the meantime, while you wait for Tam and Debbi’s post, you can read other posts on this writing process blog tour at:

ALSO, we have a winner from last week's interview/book give-away with Elizabeth O. Dulemba talking about her new novel A BIRD ON WATER STREET. Drum roll please...

Jen Wolfe Kam is our winner again!!! Congratulations Jen!!!

Take Good Care,



  1. Thanks for sharing your process, Sharry! I love the idea of taking a BIG piece of paper & writing down all possible connecting scenes. I really like gathering pictures of my characters, too, and putting them up on my wall. Somehow it begins to feel real when I can see faces.

  2. Yes! Faces say so much! And they do help the story start to feel real.

  3. Great post, Sharry! Love the pics and your visualizing process too.