Honing the Outlining Process

Before beginning to write and learn, I had no idea what a pantser was. For my first published short story, I was a total pantser. I came up with an idea, had a vague idea of my characters and wrote their story as it came to me.

Calendar Girl Cover

Calendar Girl Cover

For a short story, less than 8000 words, the editing process was arduous. I was extremely lucky that Amira Press even took the chance on Calendar Girl. I literally typed as Nia and Connor spoke.

Feeling adventurous, I ventured into a longer work.  Lena and Ethan, Music for Her Soul,  still spoke to me but there were missing spots in the story and I began to develop my own system of outlining.

The character bio – How old? Where are they from? What is their relationship like with their families? Where do they work? What are their hobbies? I even include things like their senior prom experience and who they voted for in the last presidential election. This is especially helpful when I’m writing dialogue.

The story idea – I write a paragraph or two which basically tells the whole story.

The plot outline – I used to write plays and think in terms of acts. So I outline Act I, Act II, Act III, etc…

Research – What do I need to complete all these things? Job notes? Housing? Airline Schedules? What I think I need I collect and store.

The first draft – This is part of my outlining process. I begin to add words and dialogue and setting to the plot outline. The hardest part about the first draft is not to edit myself and just let the characters speak. The work is for later.

Rewriting and Editing – This is the fleshing out and corrective process. Actually my least favorite part, but I’ve had some good moments.

DEJAVUFinalI used this process with Deja Vu.

With an additional writing class which I thought was wonderful, I’m adding another step between first draft and rewriting. I’m calling it the questioning period. I’m going scene by scene and asking myself if this is the most important focus of the character at that moment and making sure the reader knows this as well.

For instance, I walked into my office this morning and saw a bright pink sticky note in curvy writing on my monitor at work this morning. That caught my attention. I had a class to teach in ten minutes, I hadn’t arrived as early as I should have and the note could only be from my boss. It wasn’t until later in the day that I noticed the six files crammed into the corner of my desk and the light blinking on my phone that I had messages.

I want my readers to be in that moment with my characters and I’m trying out my new technique in my WIP – wish me luck!

~Happy Writing

Introducing Felicia Tatum

About the Author

I’m a small town girl that lives in Tennessee. I read and write more than I watch TV and I prefer animals to most people. I love the color pink but wear a lot of black. I’m a vegetarian and love making Mexican food vegetarian friendly. I’m a mommy to the most amazing little girl in the world and the daughter of awesome parents. I’m a little sassy and overly ambitious. I want to go to Italy, yet I haven’t even been on a plane yet. Who am I you ask? I am Felicia.

How long have you been writing?

I have been a writer for as long as I can remember, though I never called myself one. I remember in 7th grade, I had a notebook that I was writing stories in. I kept a diary with detailed information on everything. I had a journal I kept on my computer later on. In 11th grade, I had to write a poem and match it up with a song, and I remember a classmate was amazed that I wrote it so fast. It was a turning point for me, someone noticing my writing and enjoying it. I’ve been working on my novel since May of this year.

I’m currently working on my first novel, The White Aura. The title actually came to me in the middle of writing it. You’ll have to read it to figure out why though. I’m currently revising, but I plan to share some of it on my blog when I’m finished. www.followyourdreamsalways.blogspot.com


Have you started another book yet?

Why yes, I have. Originally, The White Aura was going to be a two part novel, but after writing the first part, I decided to expand it into a full novel. So there will be a sequel to it and let me tell you, I’m even shocking myself with what’s happening!

If you could have a book signing anywhere in the world,

where would it be and why?

Well this one is easy, Europe! I have many friends over there and I’ve wanted to go since I was 12. London, Italy, all of those fabulously beautiful places. I’d want to meet all of my friends there too, though. I have met so many amazing people over the internet in the past few years. It would be a big party!

Connect with Felicia Online

Thanks, Updates And The End Of Summer

It has been a fun week around the blogosphere for me and I wanted to thank those who made it happen:

Anne Ashby, author of Wilderness Liaison: Great interview on the Vallory V Blog with her heroine, Jamie Mathieson.

Kristy Centeno, author of Call Of The Wolf: I had an author spotlight on her blog, Books by Centeno. She had questions that made me think.

Tiffany Rose, author of Fun With Buster: I had a blog post on the Tiffany Rose Erotic Romance Blog entitled As Long As Your Nipples Are Covered. And it’s not what you think. I’m talking about one of my favorite places to set a romance ~ New Orleans!

I also wanted to give you a couple of updates:

Betrothed – My historical interracial romance. Wow! This thing has grown and I’m sending it off to my favorite reader who is also on vacation this week. She has promised to let me know if it is finished yet. Then, one more revision on my part before going to the editor.

Something Wicked – As my friends find out what I write, they like to tell me stories. Some are funny and some are weird. Then they tell me to find a home in a romance for something like that. Okay, I nod politely. And then I was told something that wouldn’t leave me alone. Ideas, characters, scenes demanded to be written. Something Wicked was born. (I am still working through the details and you’ll be able to read the first chapter soon. A scene is posted on the My Writing tab.)

Hero Worship Week (September 10th – 15th): I’m hosting a week of character interviews featuring the heroes of the romances we write. Do drop by and meet the first men interviewed on the Vallory V Blog! I even made a cute button.

What the end of summer means in my little corner of the world:

  • Coordinating pick up and drop off schedules
  • Volleyball practice and games
  • Three year old soccer
  • Finding new chili recipes
  • Preparing for the holidays
  • And writing, writing, writing

Enjoy the rest of your week ~ Val

A Long Sloe Comfortable Screw Up Against A Wall

Mexican Style

On the Delaney Diamond Blog, she posted Recipe: Frittata made by the sexy Matthew Hawthorne in her latest edition to the Hawthorne family Series, Here Comes Trouble.

In that vein, I’m posting the recipe for A Long Sloe Comfortable Screw Up Against A Wall Mexican Style. This cocktail is served in my short story, A Night At The Wesley.

  • 1 part Sloe Gin (This is the Sloe)
  • 1 part Southern Comfort (This is the comfortable)
  • 1 part Vodka (Mixed with the orange juice, this is the screw)
  • 1 part Don Pilar Tequila Blanco (This is the Mexican style and remember – cheap tequila will mess you up!)
  • Splash of orange juice
  • Splash of grenadine
  • Splash of Galliano (This is the wall)

Mix the first four liquors, orange juice and grenadine in a strainer. Pour into a cocktail glass. Float the Galliano on top. Enjoy on a cool evening or for the more adventurous, anytime!

A Night At The Wesley available from Amazon

Sunday Snippet with Kristy Centeno

Kristy Centeno

All About Kristy Centeno

As a child, Kristy used to lose herself in an imaginary world by the means of a good book. Now that she’s all grown up, she gets to create her own fictional realms and make them come to life in ways that most readers might not expect.

Writing has always been a passion of hers but she never had the opportunity do so until now. After trying out numerous options, she realized that writing was what she loved the most and so she decided to give it a shot. As it turns out, her very active imagination helped her achieve her goals of creating believable plots with some ordinary, and some not so ordinary characters that move the stories along in one way or another.

As she keeps achieving her dreams of becoming a published author, she divides her time in between four children and a very understanding husband.

 Kristy’s Journey into Writing

When and why did you begin writing?  Writing has always been a passion of mine and I was often told by my teachers at school that I was quite good at it. My short stories were often picked to be played out in school plays or were put on the bulletin board next to the principal’s office, but it wasn’t until I went back to college that I actually began to consider the possibility of becoming an author.

How long have you been writing?  The earliest memory I have of me writing was probably around age six or seven. As soon as I could write full sentences, I began to put together child fantasy stories in blank pieces of papers, which I would later staple together to pass around as books. Of course, back then the only reader I had was my younger brother.

When did you first know you could be a writer?  While I was attending college. I was asked to write a short story for English Comp. as an assignment. Although I didn’t give it much thought at the time that was the little push I needed to be entirely convinced that writing was something I most definitely wanted to do.

What inspires you to write and why?  Most times, it’s an idea. Although there may be a few factors in there as well, what actually inspires me are flashes of images or scenes, which I then write down. These will eventually become full chapters or even a full-length novel.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?  Paranormal Romance because you get to have the most fun coming up with plots that can be purely based on how active your imagination is.

What inspired you to write your first book?  A concept. I had this crazy idea one day that kept playing itself in my head so much I had to write it down. And as I actually opened up a Word Document in my laptop, I began to imagine what having an unconventional hero would be like. A few months after that my first Young Adult novel was finished.

What made you want to be a writer?  To be perfectly honest, the idea of me being able to write stories my way was one incentive. However, the number one motive was to be able to accomplish a lifelong dream.

Do you intend to make writing a career?  Not really. Writing for me is more of a passionate hobby but if it ended up as a career at some point then that would be okay too.

Have you developed a specific writing style?  Not at all. I usually just go with the flow.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?  Oh, I’ve had those and they’re usually not much fun at all. In order to get rid of writer’s block, I stay away from the computer for a day or two and relax. Sometimes it takes a couple of hours of deep relaxation for me to get back on track.

Call of the Wolf by Kristy Centeno

When desire battles with the forbidden and passion overrules obligation, at the end of the night, which will win?

Victoria Bonvalet, a purebred werewolf, has no desire to mate to an alpha not of her choosing and after a one of a kind encounter with the mysterious blood lord Tristan Garland rattles her existence, she knows that she could never share any part of herself without love being the number one incentive.

Tristan, a vampire of over a thousand years, no longer cares much for the world or the creatures inhabiting it. But when he meets the beautiful she-wolf invading his deep woods territory, he realizes that it’s never too late to find your perfect match, even if she belongs to the opposite branch of all mythological beings. But even as they begin to explore their in-depth feelings for each other, can they find a way to be together without starting a war between two enemy species?

Can you share a little of your current work with us?  Basically, it’s the tale of a young rebellious werewolf princess who falls in love with a vampire elder. Neither is willing to trust the other completely because for thousands of years one has considered the other an enemy but yet, neither can they deny the attraction they have for the other.

Can you tell us about your main character?  Victoria is very strong-minded, stubborn, and determined person. When she is dead set on doing something there’s no force on earth that can stop her.

How did you develop your plot and characters?  The development of the story started out as a scene—the scene where Victoria and Tristan meet for the first time—the rest pretty much fell into place after that.

Why did you choose to write this particular book?  At first because it felt like the main characters had a mind of their own and they wanted their story told. But then because I fell in love with the concept of bringing two complete opposites together and letting their passion for one another grow.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?  Being absolutely positive of which direction I wanted both main characters to take. Although that’s usually the easiest part of a love story, I wanted to be sure that when I wrote about the physical joining between Victoria and Tristan there would also be an emotional bond tying them together.

Call of the Wolf can be purchased from Amazon – Call of the Wolf Kindle Edition or from Barnes and Noble – Call of the Wolf Nook Book

The Writing Life of Kristy Centeno

Can we expect any more books from you in the future?  Absolutely. I have three more novels currently contracted.

Have you started another book yet?  Actually, I just finished another Young Adult novel and hope to have it in the market soon.

What are your current writing projects now?  Right now I’m hoping to finish book two of the Forbidden mate series. After that, I hope to finish another Paranormal Romance story, which has been stuck in my head for a while and screaming for me to let it out of the memory box.

Do you have any advice for writers?  Don’t give up. No matter how hard things get don’t quit because if you don’t believe in your stories, no one else will either.

 The “If” Answer by Kristy Centeno

If you could have a book signing anywhere in the world where would it be and why?  I would definitely love to have a book signing in Tokyo, Japan. It’s a country I’ve been dying to visit but have been unable to and it would be great to have the opportunity to do so.

Connect with Kristy online:






Thanks for joining us, Kristy. Happy Writing!

Crossing The Pond – 07/20/2012

This Friday, I’ll be crossing the pond to visit Elodie Parkes on the Elodie Parkes Blog for Hot Couples in Fiction. Elodie resides in Canterbury…

This brings me to the fact that I sometimes have the attention span of cat.

Canterbury made me think of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

This in turn made me think of Ms. Franklin’s 10th grade English class.

Which made me think of  my unsuccessful bid to Ms. Franklin to change the C she gave me on a paper in which I stated that the teller of a tale could be separated from the tale itself. In essence, a liar is capable of telling the truth and imparting wisdom. It is up to the hearer of said tale to discern this.

At this stage in my life, I understand Ms. Franklin’s viewpoint. Liars lie. That’s why our romantic heroes are noble and we love them.

I wonder where Ms. Franklin is now? I would like to speak to her, woman to woman, about her honest thoughts regarding my original  premise. Was she simply toting the company line (This was a Catholic high school, after all.)? Or was she imparting wisdom to a young girl who thought she knew it all?

BTW – To all my British friends, I don’t know if “crossing the pond” is used anymore. However, I love the sound of it.

And to all the yanks who decide to cross the pond with me, leave a comment on Elodie’s Blog and let me know you stopped by.

Happy Writing!

Character Interview with Amber Grayson

Today, I thought we’d meet one of my favorite characters – Amber Grayson and test out my hard hitting interviewing skills:

Me: Amber thank you joining us today. Since we don’t have much time (I have laundry to do for the next week), let’s jump right in. Exactly how tall are you?

Amber: (Amber’s brows furrow.) I’m 5-11. In heels, I’m normally 6-1 or 6-2.

Me: Wow! What size shoes do you wear?

Amber: (Crosses her arms and stares straight at me blinking slowly)

Me: Okay, what about clothes? You’re always dressed beautifully. (Today she is wearing a soft pink flutter sleeve blouse tapered at the waist that flows over a pair of white linen flared pants. I hope my kids don’t spill anything on her.)

Amber: Thank you. (She is smiling. I may have saved the interview) My clothes for work are tailored and for something like this – anywhere.

Me: Speaking of work, what do you do?

Amber: I’m the office manager for Bingham and Pratt Law Offices in Fort Worth. (She’s really smiling now!) And I also oversee a smaller satellite office in Houston. As well as an educational consultant for the Bingham Art House. I think that’s the my favorite. I love working with children. (She’s beaming!)

Me: Sounds like you’re really busy. What do you do to relax?

Amber: I enjoy playing volleyball. I’m in a league. Exercise is very important to me. My friend, Shae, and I have a movie night almost weekly. I like music and I’m getting into photography.

Me: (Obviously, she doesn’t understand my question.) What do you and Kevin like to do?

Amber: (I think she’s blushing. Actually, she should be. I’ve read the book) Um, when Kevin’s in town we’ll usually see a concert, have dinner, see a movie. Um, if we are on the ranch, we’ll ride horses. (She’s crossed her hands in her lap and trying not to smile so broadly.)

Me: (I look around excitedly.) Is Kevin here by any chance?

Amber: No. (She crosses her arms. She is blinking slowly.)

Me: (This interviewing thing is hard and I’ve noticed there are brownie crumbs on my lounge pants, but here’s my hard hitting question.) So what do you think of your stories?

Amber: (She’s blushing again!) Umm, they are very nice.

Me: (I think that is as much as she’s going to say, but I’m going to try one more.) Kevin brings home a surprise in a little black bag. Where do you get something like that?

Amber: (Arms cross. Slow blink begins. No wonder no one challenges her at work. This is intimidating!) I’m sure I don’t know.

Me: (Her arms are still crossed so I’d better wrap this up.) Amber, thanks again for stopping by and please, please tell Kevin I said ‘Hello’.

Amber: (Sigh…of exasperation? She smiles anyway.) Well thank you for having me.

Me: (She never said she would tell him!)

For more about Amber and Kevin

In The Moment has been revised and the 2nd Edition is available for free only on Smashwords with the coupon code SSWIN through the end of July.

Rainy Day Surprise is a free flash fiction story available at Smashwords and Barnes and Noble. Review available on Goodreads.