Flying by the Seat of my Pants: Are You a Pantser or Plotter?

I am such a pantser!

A total pantser. Not a plotter do I want to be.  Pantser-vs-Planner

I don’t go around plotting the de-pantsing of the waistline challenged. No, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I write of the writer who writes with no plot in mind. Well, at least not a by-the-numbers plot, anyway.

Of course I have a beginning and an end in mind, but I prefer the meandering path that my characters tend to take me on. At times, I do have to rein them in, because they can get a little crazy (although, that’s not always a bad thing), and get them back on a more direct path.

About two weeks ago, my characters grabbed me by the belt loops and yanked really hard. They were so excited about a little plot  twist they wanted to show me. Yeah, it was good, so I jotted it down for when I get to that point in my book. When will I get there you ask? I’ll know it when I do. That’s what being a pantser is all about.

I don’t get out the note cards, or dry erase board, or cover my wall in Post It notes (I do have a dry erase board covered in sticky notes and a couple of note cards), or hang poster boards with my story written from beginning to end. That’s just not my style. I listen to my characters, let them have their say, sometimes let them have their way. I hope for the best. That a good story will emerge from the chaos in my head. But, if it doesn’t, I will take a step back and do a little off-the-cuff plotting to connect the dots and then continue on my writerly ramble.

I love my plotter friends, don’t misunderstand. Neither method is right or wrong. It’s all in the way our brains work. I get a kick out of reading the plot board in my critique partners office. It works for her. The notes on my aforementioned board say things like check out this band, your character ________ says, __________, this would be a good blog title, remember this quote.

Very random stuff.

At some point in my novel, I will go back and look at it chapter by chapter. See if the characters have led me into any gaping holes. It’ll be looked at by my critique groups and beta readers. Then it will go on to an editor who will most definitely find the error of my comma usage (and probably other grammar infractions). In the mean time, I’m happily pantsing my way through this story and thoroughly enjoying the ride.

For those of you who are writers, what’s your style and why? For those who have other goals in life, how do you approach them. Are you a pantser? Or, are you a plotter?

Hang on to your belt loops and your story boards!

RGPantserquote-Bradbury

Advertisements

Djen in the House

Today’s post is dedicated to my friends and critique partners, Lisa Fender and Toni Burns, who have recently released their debut novel, Fable, Book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy. These sisters are taking a weekend for themselves and their families at beautiful Buena Vista, Colorado. However, they will be checking in regularly (probably from the hot springs) to reply to any questions or comments you post.

I’ve had the distinct and unique pleasure of seeing this book through to its fruition and of working with these wonderful ladies. Yet, while that only came about two years ago, I know the story of their four year journey (first Lisa on her own, and then Toni joining her for the revisions).

Fable, is a true labor of love in that, Lisa and Toni are sisters and this collaboration has brought them much closer together. Toni spoke to this at their recent launch party even after Lisa told her not to make her cry. They were joined by their cover artist, Mike Kloepfer, and the event was a great Fable Launch 078success.

Enough of the heartstrings and more about the book. I’ll let it speak for itself:

Stevie Barrett lives an ordinary life in Golden, Colorado, where nothing remarkable ever happens. That is until right before her high school graduation, when Stevie’s life takes a bizarre turn. Her best friends, Jack and Alyssa, want to be supportive, but are confused by the events plaguing Stevie.

 Stevie’s mom is attacked by men with glowing gold eyes. A strange being spies on Stevie, hidden in shadow. She has waking visions of a people called the Djen and their archaic world. And when her and her BFFs don’t think it can get any weirder, Stevie heals a stranger with a touch. The abilities build until they are a tidal wave awakening within her and threaten her sense of reality.

 Her efforts to understand what is happening lead her and her friends to discover a group known as the Rebellion. These warriors from another dimension are hunting her. Their leader is a man bent on destroying Stevie and possessing her legacy. In order to stop him and save everyone she loves, Stevie and her friends must embark on a quest to find and return Tecton, one of the five Orbs—relics—of the other plane she comes to know as Djenrye. The journey will alter everything she believes, propelling her into another world and another life.

Now, let’s hear from the authors.

RG How hard is it to maintain the ‘voice’ of the characters when you as co-authors and sisters have such distinctive voices yourselves?

Lisa: It is very hard, sometimes we have to meditate on it for a few moments to find a voice of a character. Toni is much better at it than I am. I think Colton’s voice is her masterpiece!

Toni: Now that’s funny, because I think of Colton and Stevie as having come from inside Lisa’s head. The twisted antagonist (Torren) I think was more me – only because of my love for horror and serial killer documentaries. Those tend to freak my sis out.

RG – Lol! I think I’m going to agree with Toni on that one. So ladies, how does critique play a role in helping to keep that voice and the consistency of the story?

Lisa: You and Janet are great at helping us keep that voice. I think sometimes though, you have one way of how the character should be and we have another, hence Torren, but once we explain what we’re doing you both grab the concept and keep us consistent. We appreciate your critiques and can’t see writing our books without both you and Janet involved. I guess what I’m saying is your stuck with us for the long haul!

Toni: I have to heartily second that! And, Robin, you’re twisted imagination helps us remain consistent with the creepier characters’ voices and actions.

RG –  Torren’s tough because he’s young/hurt/bitter in the novella, and older/colder/nastier in the novel. And, thanks for the compliment, Toni ;). This next question is more for Lisa although, Toni, you can chime in if you want. What prompted you to write this particular story.

Lisa: Actually, I sat down one day by myself and thought what kind of world I wanted to make. I knew I didn’t want to write about the usual Urban fantasy characters, like Vampires and Werewolves, I wanted to do something different. That’s when I came up with a take-off of the genie, or Djinni as it were. Then I wrote down everything about them I happened to look up about  Djinni lore and was amazed that some of my story was part of the lore of the Djinn. I had no idea! Anyway, the name Djenrye came from Toni. She had come over to visit one night. I told her my idea and asked how I should spell Djenrye, with a “G” or a “J” and she said why not Dj, like the Djinn. I decided to call them the Djen, instead to match the world’s name.

Toni: Robin, I ask that question all the time. I am happy to help put meat on the bones of the story, but I have to say I don’t know how my sis not only comes up with these great story lines, but keeps them straight in her head! I am in awe.

RG – Well, I think it’s Djenious!  Okay, we’ve been critiquing the novella, which continues your world building and provides some history of Djenrye. I know you’re readers are going to be extremely intrigued by Djenrye and its inhabitants the Djen, Adrone Elves, Faugns, Magi, and others. What one thing about Djenrye and/or the Djen is most fascinating to you? (BTW, there is an excerpt of the novella on Lisa’ blog of 6.14.13, see link below)

Lisa: Well, the one you didn’t mention—the Gods and Goddesses. Although, my favorite right now are the Djen. They are the main characters of the Djenrye world. The Gods won’t really come into play until the second novel.

Toni: The one thing I find the most fascinating is less with the characters, but how they came into existence. But… that won’t come to light until a later book (we have a secret – said in sing-song).

RG – Sorry, easy to skip them as they are so in the background right now. As I watched your grandchildren/great niece/nephew at the launch party, a thought occurred  to me.  You’re leaving a legacy for them. What would you say to them and your children about their dreams and aspirations?

Lisa: I say Go For It! No matter what they are, you can reach your goals if you work hard and dream big. I wish I would have started my novel writing years ago, but I guess this was the time it was supposed to happen. I hope they always remember that I did what I always dreamed of doing and they can too!

Toni: Ditto squared! I have always told my kids to do what they love and I am thrilled to be helping my sis follow that advice… now to just get me on board.

RG – I heartily agree! Here’s a question for your cover artist. Mike, what vision do you have for the upcoming novella and the second book in the series?

Lisa: Even though Mike isn’t here to answer this, (he doesn’t have access to the internet on a regular bases) I can answer this because they are my visions too . Mike puts into art the images in my head. The novella will be the sigil of Phraile Highlae, one of the cities in my world. It’s a saber-toothed tiger with a crown on its head. The crown represents the 5 Orbs, or Ortehlae in the Djen language. Each orb has a particular color, which relates to its representation.

The second novel, Lore – Book 2 of the Lorn Prophecy, is the city of Phraile Highlae, as if you were looking at it from the cliff on the opposite side of the canyon.

RG – That’s the way Stevie Barrett sees it in her visions. Perfect! Lisa and Toni, is there anything else you would like the readers to know?

Lisa: I will let Toni decide what to add here, but as for me, I’m married to a wonderful man who is completely supportive of my writing. I have two grown children, Brandie and Travis, and Brandie has given me two beautiful grandchildren, Madison and Carson. They are all the loves of my life! I am a sci-fi/fantasy nut and have never been one for chick flicks or sit-com’s on TV, although I did like MASH. I do read other genres though, such as mysteries and historical fiction. My favorite books are the Game of Thrones series, Harry Potter series, and of course, Lord of the Rings trilogy. I am a big fan of Dan Brown, Steve Barry, and John Sandford. I do not, however, like books that have become more commercial writing though, like James Patterson or Lisa Jackson. I want a book that takes me into the fiction world and into the characters minds.  I love reading, but I also love hiking and feel blessed to live in such a wonderful state as Colorado. We want to retire in the mountains.

Toni: A secret that’s not really a secret, my family calls me “Tanya”, my friends call me “Toni” and my sister gets to call me either one because she is my sis and my friend.

Front Cover for FableRG – Can I call you both too? You don’t have to answer that. Thank you, Lisa and Toni for making my blog a stop on your tour. Definitely leave comments and/or ask the authors questions. They will be checking throughout the day to reply.

You can purchase Fable in e-book or paperback, by clicking this link, at Amazon.com.

You can connect with the girls at:

Lisa’s Djen Den – http://www.lisafender.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LisaFender1 and https://twitter.com/ToniBurnsMe

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FableBookI

See you all in Djenrye! ~ RG

Enter the World of the Djen – Author/Character Interview

I am so excited!

This is my very first guest post and I’m so happy my first blog guest is my critique partner and friend, Lisa Fender. Her debut novel, Fable – Book I of the Lorn Prophecies is slated to launch April/May of this year. I’m ecstatic for her! I’ve been critiquing her work for the past two years and know exactly how much this means to her.

Not only did Lisa answer my questions about her book and writing, she brought Jack Snow, one of her characters with her. Jack is the long-time friend of her protagonist Stevie Barrett, and one of my personal favorites.

So, let’s jump into the world of the Djen, the inhabitants of Djenrye, a parallel dimension to our own.

I’ll start with some questions for you, Lisa.

RG – Lisa, I know you’ve been working on this book for four years and you’re looking forward to seeing it in print.  What has been the most rewarding thing for you as you’ve gone through the process of writing and revising?

Lisa – Seeing the book actually become a wonderfully written novel! When I first wrote the rough-draft I knew there was something wrong, but I couldn’t fix it. I had to take classes, hire a writing coach, and once I realized what was missing, (creative writing skills) the book became something I wanted to read!

Lisa and Tanya

Lisa & Toni

RG – You’ve been working with a co-author, who is also your sister, Toni Burns. How has that been and do you feel the two of you are closer for working together?

Lisa – It has been a great experience! We are now closer than ever. For some reason we are in sync with each other. We are always in each other’s head. But, to try and do it alone, well I am at a blank. I’m so glad she loves the story as much as I!

RG – Fable – Book I of the Lorn Prophecies, is the first in the series. How many books are planned?

Lisa – That is a question I don’t know if I can answer. Originally there was going to be 3, a trilogy. But, we decided to add short stories about Djenrye in between releases of the novels. And, we have discussed there being 5 novels, so that’s a lot of books…we’ll see.

RG – Okay, Lisa, give us a blurb about Fable . . . Jack, put your hand down, it’s still Lisa’s turn.  Where was I–oh, I think the readers will be fascinated by the world you’ve created.

Lisa – At eighteen, Stevie Barrett, discovers that she has powers, visions, and is from another dimension parallel to this world. Most startling yet, she is destined to save both worlds from total destruction. Her nemesis seeks to control the five ancient Orbs (Orteh, in the Djen tongue) that maintain the Earth’s balance—the spheres she is meant to protect—but to do so, he must drain her blood and powers. Stevie’s challenge is to embrace her birthright as the last surviving Guardian of the Orbs, learn to use her abilities, and accept exile from the only home she has ever known, if she is to save herself and everyone she loves.

Okay, Jack. Now it’s your turn.

RG – How old are you, Jack, and how long have you known Stevie Barrett?

Jack – Old enough to know better and young enough not to care. (Glare from Lisa) Okay, okay, eighteen. I’ve known Stevie since we were kids. Maybe, twelve or thirteen years? But, she didn’t succumb to my manly charms until about eight years ago. (Lisa shakes her head)

RG – I know you were pretty put out about the appearance of Colton in Stevie’s life. How’s that working for you?

Jack – Seriously? Like I have anything to worry about from a warrior god from another dimension who is my best friend’s soul mate…okay, never mind. We’ll always have Golden.

RG – Are you ever serious?

Jack – Like a heart attack. Hey Stevie’s still my bud, and Alyssa’s still my…well, that’s turning out to be another story all together.

RG – What’s the first thing you thought when you found out your friend isn’t human? That’s got to be a mind blower.

Jack – You aren’t kiddin! But hey, having a superhero friend is pretty intense. A cool kinda intense.

RG – These Djen guys are pretty serious and dangerous. Are you afraid for your life?

Jack – Nah. I’m mean, look at me…

(Jack winks at RG)

RG –  (rolls eyes) You and Detective Wood play a big part in Stevie and Colton’s quest to find the missing Orteh (orb). How does is make you feel to be included in the search?

Jack – Included? Why wouldn’t they include me? I’m Colton’s co-warrior and Wood’s IT guy.

RG – Okay, final question. Now that you know Stevie is spoken for, is there a new love in your life?

Jack – I don’t know if I’d say L…O…V…E. But, well, have you met that cute nimble little gymnast Stevie and I hang out with? Anyone who can do a back bend like Alyssa…I’m just sayin.

(Lisa sighs, RG raises eyebrows)

Jack – What?

RG – Thank you Lisa and Jack for visiting with me today.

Lisa – Thanks for having us, Robin! Wouldn’t miss it!

Jack – Anytime doll-face. And if you need any help fighting off warriors from another dimension, give me a call (Lisa punches Jack in the arm). Hey! I’m just sayin…

Fable – Book I of the Lorn Prophecies by Lisa Fender, with Toni Burns will be available soon. I will post the launch date as soon as that’s decided. You can follow Lisa and Toni at the links listed below.

http://www.facebook.com/FableBookI

http://www.lisafender.com/

https://twitter.com/LisaFender1

https://twitter.com/ToniBurnsMe

RG Calkins

http://rgcalkins-author.com

https://www.facebook.com/RGCalkins.Author

https://twitter.com/RGCalkinswrites

VMan Art Blog

VMan's Art Blog

eamonroe

Voice of the Wind: Shadows of Time

Daily (w)rite

A DAILY RITUAL OF WRITING

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Dr. Shay West

Author of Scifi and Fantasy

SSB

We're all about that geek life.

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD

She turns coffee into books so she can afford to buy more coffee. And more books.

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

Welcome to

The Iron Writer

TIM FLANAGAN

Stories from a Knuckle-headed Exspasmatron....

Crafted in Carhartt

about women who do amazing things

Harperpages

The blog of author Harper Alexander

chester maynes

Poetry and Poems

Wonderful Cinema

Short reviews on high quality films. No spoilers.

Book Hub, Inc.

The Total Book Experience

Mimi Sebastian

On the dark side of love

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Tutor & Writing Guru

A wealth of writing-related goodies from Morgen With An E (writer, editor, tutor, speaker and oh yes, blogger)

Jessica Grace Coleman

The online home of Staffordshire author Jessica Grace Coleman

Liesa Malik

Mystery writer, lover good books.

Clarissa Johal

Musings of an author's journey.

Lisa's Djen Den

Musings of an author's journey.

Lizzie's Way!

Musings of an author's journey.

Sin

Musings of an author's journey.

Nathan Bransford

Musings of an author's journey.

MYRIAD SPHERES

Musings of an author's journey.

The Independent Author Network Blog

Musings of an author's journey.

Thought is Free

Musings of an author's journey.

Backstage Rockstar

Musings of an author's journey.

Pamela Smerker Designs

Musings of an author's journey.

P.S. Make It Your Own

Musings of an author's journey.

Blog @JessieBTyson

Musings of an author's journey.

Munchkin Munchies

Musings of an author's journey.