Tag Archive | writing process

She Writes Guest Post: The Curious Case of a Writer’s Life–How Characters Teach Us How to Listen

Thank you for allowing me to guest post, She Writes.  Check out my feature blog post as I talk about how outside forces and the writer’s agenda can sometimes drown out the character’s voice.






Her Eyes Are on the Fellow: Book Cover Reveal for Miss Perfect by Nicole Dunlap


The bold and the beautiful

harness the spotlight

to uncover the drama


in the darkness

of deception & desire.

–by A. C.


Describe what “gumbo genre” is to your readers.

I’ve dubbed myself as “the gumbo genre” novelist because books shouldn’t be lightly seasoned. I write stories with drama, drizzled with suspense, seasoned with romance, and peppered with a few good laughs and an occasional cry. I try to be unique, especial with series’ so readers aren’t seeing patterns throughout the installments. For example, the Shaw Family Saga, Miss Nobody was a mixture of drama and touched on suspense. Miss Scandalous added to the fire of emotions. And Miss Perfect, the newest book, will no doubt leave the reader gasping for breath. With gumbo, every bite is new and unique.

What is one experience as a counselor that has impacted you the most? Has it influenced your writing?

I’ve listened to horror story after horror story–that is life for teenagers and little children. A student whose mother was murdered by a Los Angeles serial killer–I’ll never forget his motivation to succeed through it all. A five year old that is left at home alone, a high schooler that comes home to find the apartment empty and parents have moved without telling him, so now he’s a gang member. They believe that being in a gang provides them with family. One girl similar to teenage Raven is in an abusive relationship. These girls lose themselves in guys that are “popular” as Raven did with Chris in Miss Nobody. Their stories work on my emotions slowly, and I can literally feel Raven’s depression in the first two books.

 What can fans expect from Miss Perfect?

They can expect Raven to be foolish. If you stuck with me through the long haul, you might even think of her as a distance cousin always getting into trouble…yes, we all have them; family members who never learn. Her actions will continue to impact her ability to heal from abandonment and her relationship with Charlene. Get ready for action because the Shaw Family Saga has evolved. And there will be blood.

How do your characters deal with their abandonment issues?

Charlene redirects her issues into the form of acting. She will overcompensate for not taking care of Raven by going overboard with Trinity and trying to help Raven–even though helping Raven can put her in a state of danger. Raven is very internal, holding in her problems and tries to keep secrets. I do show theme evolving somewhat, because learning to cope is a lifetime process.

Describe your writing process.

I co-weave drama by writing the first draft of a story and making bullet points for some of the plot to be answered in other series. There are issues from Miss Nobody that have traveled over to Miss Perfect. Not big ones where the reader has sat for hours wondering why this occurred or didn’t. I wouldn’t do that. It gets annoying. But when you get to book three, your bottom lip will drop, realizing that a small issue in book one was sooo very important.

What advice can you offer to new writers?

Get a thick skin. Not all stories are for everybody. You will get a review from a reader who thinks the story should have gone left when it went right. Read every review, take some of your fans advice, oftentimes it is useful. I’ve had book clubs invite me to discussions, and they come up with themes in my stories that I didn’t even know I had. It is awesome.

If Raven was a student at your high school when you were a student, how would she interact with your classmates? Would you two be friends?

Raven is generally nice to all until you mess with her family. If you have her total trust and abandon or are disloyal to her she will turn into a beautiful monster. I think we would be friends, not close. She has a best friend already and is comfortable with not being the center of attention.


Miss Perfect: Shaw Family Saga, Book 3


Their desire for perfection will be… shattered

Charlene Shaw embodies perfection as a highly-acclaimed actress. Within her gilded walls of beauty, she is scrambling to save her daughter, Raven, from sins she can’t even fathom. This is her self-imposed curse for abandoning Raven as a child.

Raven Shaw is captivatingly gorgeous but burdened by a closet of skeletons. After a rough childhood, she is finally living life. Jon, her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved, has returned. Yet, a stalker looms just out of reach, blackmailing her for Jon’s fortune. She’d do anything to keep this man–even if it means turning to another… Mysterious, handsome Tyriq may have the key to erase her deepest, darkest secrets forever. Yet, this savior might threaten her mind’s rationale of “happily ever after” with Jon.

In this intense third installment of the Shaw Family Saga there will be blood, murder, and a beloved …will be shattered.


Nicole Dunlap holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Child Development, and a Masters Degree in Educational Counseling from Azusa Pacific University–mantra Jesus first. She counsels in the inner city of San Bernardino; motivating teens dealing with depression, pregnancy, gang membership and abuse. She has been self dubbed the “gumbo genre” novelist, because books shouldn’t be lightly seasoned… Her stories revolve around family and relationships, women’s issues, drizzled with drama, peppered with suspense, and finished off with aromatic notes of romance. The Shaw Family Saga pays homage to dysfunctional mother-daughter relationships, with well developed characters that readers can root for; love them, hate them, cry for, and most of all, yearn to flip through the pages to the end of that character’s journey.

Website: NicoleDunlap.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nicole-Dunlap/e/B009BTPPWY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Barnes&Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/nicole-dunlap

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6535805.Nicole_Dunlap

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicoleydunlap

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorNicoleDunlap

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9637GqJqx7Y


Miss Perfect

When Deliciously Flawed Met Sinfully Satiable: Launch Party Blog Tour for Making the First Move by Reese Ryan


ReeseRyanI am delighted to host the blog tour for Reese Ryan.  When one of our fellow writers publishes his or her first book, we as a community should celebrate for her success and for our hope to achieve the same.  I met Reese on She Writes, and we quickly connected through a tweet about joining the Justin Bieber craze.  Reese is the hardest working woman in the writing world.  She is my role model, for among all of the other hats she wears, she is always writing; she consistently works on and hones her craft.  I asked her the following questions about her writing process and her new release.   Don’t forget to check out the end of this post for an opportunity to win a prize. Congratulations, Reese!

1) How would you describe your writing process?   Where do you find inspiration for your ideas?
I’m a little bit plotter, a little bit pantser. I need a general outline of what’s going to happen. These days I prefer to do that by writing the synopsis before I write the story. Then I begin writing, but I allow my characters to take me on unexpected turns and detours. But having the basic outline in mind serves as blueprints in a remodel. I know which “walls” are load-bearing and which I can tear down. Ideas come from everywhere. Snippets of conversation. A news story. Lately, a secondary character in one story spurs the idea for the next story.

2) What makes MAKING THE FIRST MOVE stand out among other novels in your genre?

Two things that probably make Making the First Move a bit different is my love for flawed characters and the multicultural aspect of this story–two things that are consistent in my stories. As a reader, I want to see a character’s journey. If the heroine is shiny, happy, and perfect in the beginning of the story, where’s the fun in that? So she may not appeal to everyone in the opening pages. The multicultural nature of my story–whether the heroine is black, white, Latina, or Asian–is also very important to me. The world I live in is filled with diverse friends and family, so my novels are, too. Yet, the multiculturalism isn’t a theme or a message. It’s just a fact. Pure and simple.
3) Which scene did you enjoy writing the most? Which scene was the most difficult or less enjoyable?
Some of the scenes that were the most fun for me to write were the ones between Melanie and her work nemesis, Priscilla Cohen. Priscilla’s cunning and evil, and to be honest, it was fun to get inside her head. The most difficult scene for me is the one in which one character makes a devastating confession to the other. It’s a tense, emotional scene. The stakes are high for both of them and I felt both characters’ pain in writing and revising the scene.
4) Why is romance still relevant today?
There is a really fabulous video made by romance author Maya Rodale about why romance was long considered Dangerous Books for Girls: http://youtu.be/vKbYQhWhay0 and why–even today–the genre is often looked down upon by readers and writers of other genres. She states the case far more eloquently than I can. However, I love that romance novels often portray strong heroines who dare to go against what is expected of them and come out victorious. I think it’s an important underlying message that, as women, we can never hear enough.
5) Suppose you have a guy who wants to rekindle the romance in his long-term relationship or marriage. What tips would you give him for bringing the spark back?
Ha! Definitely not claiming any expertise in this area. So I’ll defer to the example of Raine Mason, the hero in Making the First Move. What makes Melanie fall in love with him is the genuine interest he has in her–her thoughts, her interests. He actually listens to her. He surprises her by doing something really sweet and unexpected, based on his knowledge of her. The commercial where a man is rewarded with a Klondike for FIVE seconds of actually listening to his wife talk makes me sad: http://youtu.be/TxC9-PJfyKo. So in essence…don’t be that guy.

6) What advice would you give other aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. If you really want to do this, commit to it. Constantly improve your craft through reading, classes, critique group participation, etc. And understand that growth process will continue throughout your career. Stay attuned to the rapid changes in the industry. Understand all your options and make the choice that works best for you–and for each particular project. Put out the best product you can–whether you work with a publisher or opt to self-publish.


Reese Ryan writes sexy, contemporary fiction filled with colorful characters and sinfully-sweet romance. She secretly enjoys torturing her heroines with family and career drama, reformed bad boys, revealed secrets, and the occasional identity crisis, but always rewards them with a happily ever after.

Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides in Central North Carolina with her husband and young adult son who tolerate her propensity to sing and dance badly. A self-proclaimed Bohemian Southern Belle, she treads the line carefully between being a Northerner and a damned Yankee–despite her insistence on calling soda pop. Reese gauges her progress by the number of “bless your lil’ hearts” she gets each week. She is currently down to two.

Visit Reese online at ReeseRyan.com. Follow her on Twitter @ReeseRyanWrites. Connect with her on Facebook.

Goodreads:  Reese Ryan
Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Reese-Ryan/e/B00CD31WJ0


Title: Making the First Move

Author: Reese Ryan

Release date: July 22, 2013

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Price: $3.99

Amazon Buy Link:  http://www.amazon.com/Making-the-First-Move-ebook/dp/B00CC68FMU/

Barnes & Noble Buy Link:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/making-the-first-move-reese-ryan/1115148406

iTunes Buy Link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/making-the-first-move/id653078144?mt=11

Add to Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17800669-making-the-first-move


Melanie Gordon has spent the past five years obsessing over her career to dull the pain of a devastating breakup and the loss of her father. Her effort pays off when she receives the promotion that could be her big break. Only it means returning to her hometown to face her past while leaving behind the man who could be her future.

Selfless (and insanely sexy) philanthropist, Raine Mason, is committed to his cause. But his passion for rescuing high-risk young males from the road to disaster is fueled by his own dark and tragic past.

When Raine is ready to take his casual friendship with Melanie to sizzling new heights, her one-way ticket to Cleveland is already booked. But a steamy night of passion leaves them both wanting more, even if Melanie is afraid to admit it. She reluctantly agrees to a long-distance relationship with no promises and no commitments.

Melanie may finally be ready to give Raine her heart…but then she discovers startling news that causes her to question everything she knows about him. Worse, he’s harboring a dark secret from his past that threatens to shatter any hope of a future for them unless he can convince her that their love is worth the risk.


Thirty minutes later, Raine is standing in my doorway in a camel-colored cashmere sweater and a pair of Levi’s. A white, button-down shirt peeks underneath the collar. Chin-length, caramel-colored locs are pulled back at the crown of his head, with the remaining hair hanging free. He is, in a word, gorgeous.

My eyes trace the curve of his biceps. I lick my lips, cheeks flushed, and hope he hasn’t noticed I’ve spent the past five seconds checking him out from head to toe. Twice.

“I see you’re ready to go.” He nods toward the wrap draped over my arm and my clutch tucked underneath it.

“I am.”

“Then shall we?” Raine extends his hand in the direction of the narrow stairwell leading down to the first floor.

“Let’s.” I offer a nervous smile.

He slips his hand to the small of my back. I try not to notice the heat emanating from his hand. But it’s nearly impossible to ignore the jolt of electricity, which travels through his long, elegant fingers and enters the base of my spine.

I’m sure his hand has been on that exact spot when he’s guided me through a crowd or we’ve danced together at charity functions. His touch seemed incidental then. Tonight, there’s something about the placement and pressure of his hand that feels deliberate, significant. Or maybe I’m transferring my own well-guarded desire to an innocent gesture.

Raine guides me down the stairs, out the front door and into his car, his hand still on my back.

“Thanks for doing this,” I say. “I know it’s short notice.”

“I couldn’t leave you standing there dressed, with no place to go.” He tries to hide a smirk as he turns the ignition.

“How’d you know I was already dressed when I called?”

“You’ve never been ready when I came to pick you up. There’s not a chance in hell you threw this together in thirty minutes. You look…amazing.”

“Very clever,” I say. “And thank you, I think.”

“It’s too bad, actually.”

“What’s too bad?”

“That you were ready. I was hoping to catch you in a towel, just out of the shower,” he says, his eyes straight ahead.

My cheeks grow warm. I’m not offended, just surprised. Our social conversations have been mildly flirtatious, but never anything so easily decipherable. We prefer our flirtation so well-coded that only a world-class hacker has a chance in hell of sorting it all out.

I stifle a giggle. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

He smiles.

We ride in silence for a while. He pays strict attention to the road. I pretend to be fascinated by the houses and apartments that fly by my window. The same ones I’ve seen nearly every day for the past five years.

MtFM CollageMaking the First Move Blog Tour Grand Prize

  • $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card
  • Digital copy of Making the First Move by Reese Ryan
  • Digital copy of The Winning Season by Alison Packard
  • Digital copy of Knowing the Score by Kat Latham
  • Digital copy of Personal Assets by Kelsey Browning
  • Digital copy of Derby Girl by Tamara Morgan

Rafflecopter Code:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interpreting the World With the Writer’s Eye


Image taken from http://favim.com/image/203571/

Say Something About Child’s Play

Chris Abani

The soldier asks the boy:  Choose which

do I cleave?  Your right arm or left?

The boy, ten, maybe nine, says:  Neither,

or when I play, like a bird with a broken wing

I will smudge the line of the hopscotch

square, let the darkness in.

The soldier asks again:  Choose which

do I cleave?  Your right leg or left?

Older in this moment than his dead father, the boy

says: Neither, or when I dance the spirit dance,

I will stumble, kick sand in the face of light.

This boy says:  Take my right eye,

it has seen too much, but leave me the left,

I will need it to see God.

As writers, there are characters, images, or settings that haunt us.  They thread throughout our beings.  When we unearth the tale behind them, we see what they see, know what they know, and experience what they feel.  We may have had that one character, image, or setting that just won’t let us go.

When we interact with our world, we use that “third eye” perspective, that writing intuition that documents every detail in a unique form of expression.  It is what sets artists apart from the rest of the world.

For me, it was a character, a mother who faced losing her children.  Her story stayed with me, and I am still struggling with how to tell it.  Another image has been the loss of something important like an idea or an institution.  I keep seeing a person losing her notion of an idea or institution, and as it disintegrates images of what that idea has been float around her in slow motion.  It’s like in the movies when someone is about to get shot, and the person’s life flashes before their eyes as he or she is about to lose it.  The person feels the same way as her fairytale notions of this idea are being destroyed.

Again, the images are there, but I need to weave them into a narrative.  Ahh, the task of the writer!

What characters, images, or settings from either what you have written or read remain with you?  How do you interpret your world as a writer or artist?

Sowing Seeds of Perspective in Our Writing

The new year often brings about resolutions.  Lose weight. Check.  Exercise more. Somewhat check. Stop drinking so much caffeine. Uhh–yeah about that.  Start a blog. Double check–started 2nd one today.

As a former educator, I have noticed that some of my students view writing as some Holy Grail that is only given to the gifted.  So I liked demystifying the writing process and the rules and exceptions to the rules of the writing conventions.  I hope to continue doing the same for all types of readers on this blog.

As a writer, I like to share how I engage with my own writing process.  I stumbled across a writing metaphor exercise that I did with my students a long time ago.  It made me want to re-envision writing as a starting place to my resolution of working more on my writing.  For me, writing is birth.

Just like when women give birth, my writing/creation is not perfect; there are some idiosyncrasies, characteristics that are imperfect,  that others except the mother/creator may see as flaws, but  no creation is intended to be perfect. Writing is something I still love to do because the power is in the process of nurturing the creation and teasing out the best in it.

As writers, the creation becomes an extension/representation of ourselves, our psyches, our humanity—the fragility, wonder, and mortality/immortality of it—that is what writing is.

The power is in the creative process and the creation itself.

Now writing as birth is a commonly used comparison.  Here are some other metaphors that my students created:

*Writing is a puzzle.

*Writing is exercise, depending on whether you like to do it or not.

*Writing is health food.

*Writing is a useless thing only meant for the teacher.  ( Ahh…the blunt stab of honesty here.)

*Writing is traveling.

*Writing is the wind.  It has no ties, and it comes and goes when it wants to.

*Writing is a dream or a stream-of-consciousness.

*Writing is therapy.

*Writing is schizophrenia.

*Writing is a spider web because you start from a small idea and make something beautiful out of it.

So what is your metaphor or simile for writing? How do you see it?  How can re-envisioning the process help you with your own writing?


Feel free to comment!       Writing is or is like . . .