Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Wisteria Writer's Tag (and a Sneak Peek at "Cloaked")

I have borrowed the Wisteria Writer's Tag from Mary Horton at Sunshine and Scribblings because I'm procrastinating it looks like fun.  She didn't add new writing questions of her own, so I'm just answering the ones she answered.  I happen to love wisteria, so couldn't resist this one!  Mary, you didn't actually nominate me, but I shall say Thank You to you anyway, for posting this where I could snurch it :-)

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the ten questions asked.
3. Add ten (writing or book related) questions of your own.
4. Nominate people.

1. Which of your writing projects is your favorite and why?

No, but honestly, people think this is an answerable question?  How can I choose one favorite?  Do you know the sorts of sad and lonely and unloved and disappointed looks I'd get from all the others?  I can't choose a favorite.

Now, a favorite character... weirdly, that's easier.  Right now, my favorite is Hauer, a very important person in my Red Riding Hood western, "Cloaked."  I would totally marry him.

(I hope all the questions aren't this hard to answer.)

2. Can you share some snippets from your favorite project? (and no you cannot say no to this IT IS MANDATORY)

But I just said that I don't have a favorite project.  How about I just share a little bit from "Cloaked," which I really ought to be working on instead of doing this tag?  This is the opening paragraph:

The stagecoach was smaller than Mary Rose had expected, more cramped. Two people would only just fit on each wooden bench—if you didn’t know your neighbor well already, you would by the end of the ride, she guessed. And yet, a man had contrived to fall asleep on one of those small seats, the forward-facing one, curled up on his back with his knees in the air, his dusty boots tipped up against the side, heels on the seat. No spurs on his boots to mar the wooden bench, at least. He had his arms crossed over his chest and his stained brown hat settled companionably over his face. Mary Rose wondered if all the rattling and jostling of her entrance would disturb him, but he never stirred. So she sat down across from him, smoothing out the skirt of her brown travelling dress so it would be at least somewhat presentable by the end of her ride.

(1880s traveling dress)

3. What is your favorite tense (past, present, future) and voice (first person, second person, third person, etc) to write in?

I prefer to write in past tense.  Very much so.  For fiction, that is -- sometimes I write movie reviews in present tense because that's fun.  I've written lots of fiction in both first and third person, but second person is really hard to pull off, and I don't think I handle it well, so I don't use it.

4. When is your favorite time to write?

In the morning.  Sometimes I even get to, if I can skip off to Starbucks on a Saturday while Cowboy takes the kids to the grocery store.  But I do most of my writing at night, after my kids are in bed.  Fiction-writing, that is -- I write blog posts at any time of day or night.

5. What is the most unpleasant thing you've put one of your characters through?

Okay, so... I have written and co-written more than 30 stories set in WWII, all fan-fiction for the TV show Combat! -- and the awful truth is that lots of bad stuff happens in war.  LOTS.  I've beaten, shot, stabbed, blown up, burned, and bludgeoned a lot of characters over the years.

I think the worst thing would be a toss-up from when I killed all of Saunders' squad at once in "The Better Part of Valor" and when I convinced Hanley that Saunders was dead in "Lost."  Though the latter was temporary.  I could never kill my beloved Saunders.

(Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders on Combat!)

I just realized that this answer totally shows that I consider emotional pain to be worse than physical pain.  It interests me much more, too.

6. Are you a more character-driven writer or a more plot-driven writer?

Character-driven, allllllll the way.  I struggle with plots.  Basically all of my story ideas start out with "Oh, this is a cool character!  I like this person.  Oh, this is another great character!  I like them too."  And then I have to think up a terrible situation, toss them in it, and see what they do.  I'm really bad at plots sometimes -- this is part of why I've fallen in love with writing fairy tale retellings.  The plot is there, I just have to put my own characters in it.

7. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I'm a plantser.  I have to know the basic beats of my story before I start writing -- where it starts, where it ends, and some of what happens in the middle.  The plot points have to be there or I'll get muddled.  But I cannot plot the whole thing out ahead of time.  I can't outline.  When I do that, it kills the joy and I never actually write the story because all the fun and adventure of discovery is gone.

8. What is your favorite word processing system to write in and why do you like it?

I like Microsoft Word because I'm used to it.

(So I should stop procrastinating, huh?)

9. If you were left on an abandoned island with the last character you wrote about, how would that go for you?

It would go really well if I was stuck there with any of the good guys from "Cloaked."  I'd prefer being stuck there with Hauer, because as I said earlier, I would totally marry him.  And he's skilled at living off the land.  But Mary Rose and I would be good friends, and I think we'd muddle through surviving all right, as she's a great blend of optimism and sensibleness.  I'd be fine with Jubilee too.  As long as I don't get stuck there with my Bad Guy, I'd be fine :-)  I suppose I could just kill and eat him if necessary.

(OH MAN, now I've got him staring at me in aghast horror at the revelation that I would cannibalize him.  Sorry, dude, you'd totally deserve it.)

10. What is your favorite writing resource? (this could be a blog, website, newsletter, writing book, that one pet who listens to all your writerly ramblings, anything basically)

My best friend.  I could not do this without her.  She's my Ideal Reader, my Writing Mentor, my Cattle Prod, and my trustiest of Trusty Scouts.

(She's also really great at braiding my  hair.)

I was not tagged with this, so I'm not going to tag anyone either.  If you're a writer and want to fill this tag out, have at it!


  1. This was so much fun to read! I'm glad that you decided to borrow the tag. :D

    OH MY THAT SNIPPET. o.o I'm intrigued!! I've recently come to enjoy a lot of historical fiction, plus I'm already a Robin Hood fan. SO I REALLY NEED THIS STORY. It looks amazing!

    *nods* Yes, yes...definitely character-driven. I'm not very good at plot, either...the characters are where I find the most fun in writing. ;)

    This was a lot of fun to read! I always love finding out about other writers and their writing preferences/habits. ^_^

    (P.S. Your hair is SO long and lovely! <3)

    1. Glad you had fun reading it, Mary!

      But, um... "Cloaked" is a Red Riding Hood retelling, not a Robin Hood retelling. Sorry! Though a western Robin Hood would be very fun too! Robin Hood fan that I am, it could happen one day :-)

      And thanks -- we took that photo just because DKoren was marveling at how far away from me she had to stand to finish the braid, hee!

    2. Oooops. My bad. *facepalms* I just misread that, haha. Both sound really awesome...I'd be just as happy to read a Red Riding Hood retelling, too. ;)

    3. Mary, no big! I probably should throw "Little" on the front of "Red Riding Hood" to be clearer... but my main character is 16, so she's not little, hee.

  2. That snippet is so good! I was sad that I had to stop reading there! I can't wait for it to come out!!

    1. Thanks, MC! I'm getting really excited for this myself. Working on line-editing now, and I'm thinking I'll be calling for some ARC readers before long.

  3. Some day I'll tell you the opening line to my as yet unwritten mystery. It is the absolutely perfect opening. All it needs is a plot to go with it.

    1. Quiggy, that's always my problem too! I think up terrific characters and some wonderful lines... but man, those plots are so hard.

    2. Chipping in here (a little late) plotting is my biggest hurdle too. Not just 'where is this going?' but 'how will it get there?' My other half is very strategic (he's in business, and I think that's an essential) so I often talk the plots through with him. Trouble is, he gets carried away, with intrigue, murders, embezzlement... I have to rein him in: "This is a romantic comedy, not a John le Carre novel!" But discussing plots, with anyone, is handy - just to get it out there in the open helps.

      Great blog - as always.

    3. Rosie, late is never a problem when it comes to comments! I actually cower in fear of my husband finding plot holes because hes's soooooooo good at it. I either have to run a rough idea past him, or not let him read something until I'm done with it and ready to pick it apart. Otherwise, I will get all upset as my carefully knitted together plot unravels in his hands.

  4. Fun tag!

    And the question about what you've put your characters through....what about what you did to Lovelace in one of the D'Yae stories??? You had those nasty Germans break his fingers! :P

    I love Microsoft Word, but my laptop doesn't have it so I have to make do with Open Office. They're basically the same program, but I like the look of Word better.


    1. Eva, ouch, yeah, I did do that, didn't I? Poor Lovelace. What's even worse is I tend to forget I did that, and I even cracked his ribs and broke his nose to boot. Instead I remember that as the story where Marc d'Yae almost got lynched by his own dad -- totally the emotional pain I dwell on. (I knocked out two of Jean's teeth too. That was not a nice story.)

      I like Open Office better than Google Docs, at least.

  5. Awwww, thank you. I'm honored to be your answer for #10. (And your hair is so braidable! I love it.) I'm quite amused by some of your answers, particularly what you put people through. Emotional pain is as bad as physical, sometimes worse. Love the pic of the traveling dress too.

    1. DKoren, come over and braid my hair any time!

      I sat here for minutes on end going, "What IS the worst thing I've ever done to a character?" Actually, I think really my gut-instinct answer is keeping Bob from running into the barn to save Ezra. That feels the worst. My poor, dear Bob.

      Which is also emotional pain.

      Isn't that a nifty dress? It's fancier than what I think Mary Rose is wearing, but it would've been something similar.

  6. I LOVE THE DRESS AND I CAN'T WAIT TO READ "CLOAKED." Seriously, I can't wait.

    Okay, I wrote about 1100 words on my novel today and I'm exhausted, so I think I'm gonna just do the tag here as a way to chill out. Hope you don't mind :-)

    1. Favorite writing project? That's easy. "Breaking Glass" (my novel) is definitely my favorite; because I've been working on it the longest, so I have the clearest vision for it, and also I know the characters best.
    2. Snippets? Okay, it'll look funny to share a snippet in a comment, so let me find a REALLY SHORT bit:

    "It was stupid. There was no other word for it.
    "And I was cold.
    "I had no coat. My only winter coat had been left behind in the closet of Tante's flat; and, just like the rest of our belongings, probably looted by the Nazis and sold for cash. All I had was a knitted wool sweater Mrs. van Manen had made for me, and a blue serge dress cut down from one of Emilie's school uniforms. And scratchy, black, woolen stockings covering my skinny legs."

    (I wrote that this afternoon along with a lot of other stuff :-) My narrator, Tammi Herschlag, is the one speaking.)

    3. Favorite tense and voice? 1st person present, definitely. It flows so naturally from my head to the paper, I love it.
    4. Favorite time to write? Mid-to-late afternoon.
    5. Most unpleasant thing you've ever put one of your characters through? Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. *shifts guiltily* I . . . killed my MC's entire family piece by piece. (I know. I'm awful.)
    6. Character-driven or plot-driven? Character-driven, definitely. The characters are what really fascinate me. Plot is just a way to play with characters.
    7. Plotter or pantser? P-L-O-T-T-E-R. I'm the biggest plotter who ever lived.
    8. Favorite word processing system? Ummmmmmmmmmmmm . . . you mean there's more than one? Next question.
    9. Left on an abandoned island with the last character you wrote about? What fun!! Tammi and Emilie and I would have a splendid time together. Emilie is a joy to be around; and Tammi, although she can be "cold" and "prickly" sometimes, has a heart of gold and can always come up with something interesting to talk about. We'd have a blast.
    10. Favorite writing resource? MY SISTAH. Thank you very much. *bows*

    This was fun, Hamlette!! Thanks! :-)

    1. Thanks, Jessica! As I dig into the polishing stage, I'm getting more and more excited for people to read this :-)

      Thanks for sharing your answers! I'm glad I'm not the only person who's inflicted crazy emotional torment on their characters. I think you're one of the plottingest plotters I've ever met :-)

    2. Nope. You're DEFINITELY not the only one :-P

      Heehee!! I'm think I'm gonna write that on an index card and put it up above my writing desk--"Plottingest Plotter Ever." I love it that much :-D

    3. Sounds like a perfect sign!

  7. I like the picture of wisteria! I'm unfamiliar with that plant, sight-wise.

    1. John Smith, I've never seen wisteria grown as an ornamental tree like that before -- I usually see it just growing wild, climbing up other trees. So pretty!

  8. This is gonna be goooooooood. *rubs hands* ;)


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