Blog Tour! My Writing Process

OH GOD CHESSIE'S ACTUALLY BLOGGING WHAT'S GOING ON

Well, you can blame this one on Diana Urban, who invited me to be part of the #MyWritingProcess blog tour! Diana posted last week about her own writing process, and this week, it's my turn. So here goes!

What am I working on? 

At any given time, I'm working on a handful of different stories, all of them referenced by different hashtags on Twitter. (Because with as quickly and easily as titles can change, calling them the titles I have now is pointless.)

Currently, I'm revising #HorrorThing, drafting the third novel and novella for #SkysurfingStory (word counts visible in the sidebar!), and doing world building for #AnimalStory. One is always interfering with the others--have to draft #HorrorThing? Come With Me Now by Kongos comes on shuffle, making me think of #AnimalStory instead. Start working on #AnimalStory? Have a stray thought about dialogue for #SkysurfingStory. 'Tis a vicious cycle.

Also waiting on my next round of edits for MADE YOU UP, among other things.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Welllllllp, that's a hard question to answer, considering all of those books I've mentioned so far sit in different genres. MADE YOU UP is contemporary, #SkysurfingStory is science fantasy, #AnimalStory is science fiction (or maybe science fantasy as well, depending on how you look at it), and #HorrorThing is, well, horror.

I guess it would be easier to answer the question "What makes my books my books?" And the answer is some combination of characters, world building, and plot. I put a lot of stock in my characters, because I've always believed that characters are the heart and soul of the story, even though my stories are plot- and not character-driven. Even if the concept is amazing, it's the characters that will endear readers to your story. And I always try to deliver characters you haven't seen before, or characters who are cast in a slightly different light than you might expect.

I also want to deliver world building and plot similarly--at first you might think, "I've seen this before," or "I could have done this" but then you're hit by a twist you didn't expect or some facet of the world you hadn't imagined.

Why do I write what I do?

Because it fascinates me. In MADE YOU UP, it's all about the way we think and how we process the world around us. In #HorrorThing, it's about the eternal struggle inherent in the choice between good and evil, and what it means when we don't get to choose. In #AnimalStory, it's about what separates the humans from the animals, and realizing the differences aren't exactly what we thought. And in #SkysurfingStory, it's about life and death, finding light when things look dark, and dealing with grief and ostracism.

I write about those things because they interest me, and because they create characters that I find interesting and sympathetic and that I can't stop thinking about.

How does my writing process work?

It depends on the book. When I initially get an idea, I start by writing out the beginning and getting a feel for the characters and where I want the plot to go.

Then I brainstorm (with music, of course) and work out the big plot points and the ending. Sometimes, like for #SkysurfingStory and #HorrorThing, I write out the whole plot point-by-point. Sometimes, like with MADE YOU UP and #AnimalStory, I just work off the outline in my head.

The actual writing of the book is a mishmash of actual writing and more brainstorming. Usually I write on my computer, using the amazing Scrivener. Sometimes I have to switch to Word or handwriting in a notebook, to get a different feel.

Recently I've read stories from authors who piece together their stories over many self-revisions, focusing on dialogue/narrative/characters/etc the first pass through, and focusing on a different aspect in the next pass. I tend to do it all at once. If I realize I've missed something or made a plot hole, I write it down, continue writing, and when I'm done I revisit that list and fix the holes.

Next Week on the Blog Tour!


Lindsey Sprague is represented by Louise Fury and currently attending Savannah College of Art and Design for her Masters Degree in Animation.When she isn't writing or drinking inhuman amounts of coffee, you can find her asleep in front of an animation computer, muttering about the problems of rigging low poly models. You can find her on Twitter @LindseySprague or at lindseysprague.com. Just know that there will 95% chance of a science joke upon arrival.

Amy Zhang used to have lots of imaginary friends. When people told her to grow up, she turned her imaginary friends into characters and started telling their stories. Her first book, FALLING INTO PLACE, will be released by Greenwillow/HarperCollins on September 9th, 2014, and she is represented by Emily Keyes of Foreword Literary. When she isn't writing, she can be found playing piano, hitting balls on the tennis court, or struggling through her weekly existential crisis. She lives in Wisconsin with her family. You can find her on Twitter @amyzwrites, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Goodreads, and at amyzhangwrites.com.

Announcement Day #2: New Title!

I imagine this bear dancing to "Guten Tag" by Wir Sind Helden, because what other song do I listen to while doing Ask-Again-Later-related things? (Answer: None. Maybe Flagpole Sitta.)
Hey everyone! It's Announcement Day #2! (Announcement Day #1 being my last post, to say Ask Again Later isn't coming out until early 2015; Announcement Day #3, a.k.a. Cover Reveal Day, isn't going to happen anytime in the near future. Sorry, guys.) 

So there's this thing that happens sometimes with books. Your book has a title you really love, and it sells with that title, and everything is sunshine and rainbows--but then something happens. Usually it's out of your control. Maybe your editor doesn't like your title. Maybe booksellers don't like your title. Maybe another book is going to come out with that exact same title, from the same publishing house, but a year earlier. (No more title buddies, Liz. :( ) 

So this thing happens, and your book needs a new name. Something that really tells you what the book is about while keeping the spirit of the story in tact. That was a particularly difficult task when it came to Ask Again Later, since it has a bit of everything--mystery, humor, romance, thriller, horror--but I think, with the help of my amazing agent and editor, we managed it.

Guys, I really like this new title. (And I loved it with my mock-up cover.) I like what it stands for. I like where it comes from. And I like what it will hopefully mean to the people who read the book. So, without further ado, the new name of Ask Again Later is.....


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Is it a spoiler? Is it not a spoiler?! You'll have to wait until 2015 to find out! Made You Up encompasses the book much better than Ask Again Later did, and I think it will do a great job of enticing readers. (Yes? No? Is it enticing you? Let me know in the comments.)

Click here to add MADE YOU UP on Goodreads. (You know you want to find out what Alex is making up...)

You can also sign up for my newsletter to be notified whenever big news is coming up.

When I have any more information about the book--summary, preorder links, etc--I'll put it up here on the site and tweet about it at @ChessieZappia.

Now, excuse me while I go change fifty different website bios.

Things!

I'm pulling myself out of the blogging grave because NEWS. So let's dust off the dirt and bugs and Beetlejuice this thing.

Around this time last year, my first book sold to HarperCollins, to be published in 2014. I am still stoked about this, for the obvious reasons. 

However, I have come to you today to announce that the release date for Ask Again Later has been pushed back to early 2015. 

Naturally, I was a little disappointed at first. Waiting another six months? It seemed like a lifetime. But I promise, the change is for good reason. I'm very excited about all the extra marketing and promotion opportunities this gives me. (And the breathing room! Is it almost 2014 already?)

BUT, that's not the only thing happening. What I can say is that I've seen the first mock up of AAL's cover, and I am already flipping my fudgecakes over how beautiful it is. It's still being worked on, and already I know I'm going to love the final product.

What I can't say is when I'll be able to show it to the world. (Definitely sometime in 2014. Vague enough?)

Also, there may well be more news in the near future...so stick around! 
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