Friday, November 30, 2012

From Pantser to Plotter, by author Gwen Perkins

While I'm away selling books at our local Holiday Bazaar (or maybe just trying to sell books?) I'm delighted to welcome author Gwen Perkins to my blog with a post that's of particular interest to me as my writing routine grows. Welcome Gwen, and can you help me stop worrying?

Going from "Pantser" to "Plotter" – Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying
 and Love the Outline, By Gwen Perkins

Anyone who spends enough time on online writing forums will eventually hear the terms "pantser" and "plotter."  At first, I admit, when I heard those words, writing was decidedly not what came into my mind (I'll plead the fifth as to what did) but after I became familiar with them, I thought that I had a lot more in common with the first than the second.  Even if I wasn't yet prepared to out myself as a pantser in public.

You see, I've always been one of those people to whom ideas spring forth easily.  I'm one of those crazy writers you read about who carries pens with her, scribbling sudden thoughts on paper, on napkins, on her hands, on any passerby who holds still… I'm always making up stories on the fly and half-writing them down.  It's something that I've done since childhood and until I began my first novel, it was something that I prided myself on. 

"You have lots of ideas!"  I frequently exclaimed to myself.  "You will never run out of stories!" 

Having lots of ideas is, in fact, a wonderful thing.  There is, however, a catch.  Flying by the seat of your pants is marvelous, indeed—as long as you remember to land.

And that was my problem.  Prior to the notebooks that would later become The Universal Mirror, I started lots of longer works and rarely finished any of them.  Short stories were no problem, articles likewise, but when it came to the novel, I'd start pantsing alright… and I'd fall on my ass.

So I realized that something had to change.  I started working on figuring out what that was.  It became quickly apparent to me that the problem rested with the fact that I often came up with ideas but no real structure or sense of where those ideas needed to go.  Every time I tried asking other writers about outlining, I had the sense of the outline as a mountain too high to ever possibly scale (particularly for a girl with a fear of heights).  I saw outlines as pages and pages of themes and content but then I realized something.  There was really no "right" way to outline—if there was anything right, it was whatever worked for me.

It was then that I began to see what I needed was to break down a book into manageable pieces.  I forced myself to outline the story simply, by writing a sentence about each scene.  I then took those scenes and rearranged them until I had a plot that worked for me.  It wasn't large and it wasn't detailed but it wasn't intimidating either.

Then I set myself another goal. Using my outline, I would write a chapter a week until the book was finished.  I didn't have much faith that I would do better as a plotter than a pantser.  To my surprise, however, even just developing the simplest of road maps helped me find the way.  It kept me from getting lost when I wandered down the path.  Just glancing back at where I was supposed to be reminded me that there was a destination and that I now had the tools to get there.

Since that first book, The Universal Mirror, was written, my outlines have slowly progressed and have also become more developed just as my novels have.  Plotting is just as much an art as writing is and I'm glad that I've found the method that works for me.                 

Gwen Perkins is the author of fantasy novels, The Universal Mirror and The Jealousy Glass (Hydra Publications, 2012). She can be contacted through email at

AUTHOR BIO: Gwen Perkins is a museum curator with a MA in Military History from Norwich University. She has written for a number of magazines, exhibitions and nonfiction publications. Her interest in history fueled the creation of the world of The Universal Mirror, inspired in part by people and events of the medieval and Renaissance periods. 

BOOK BLURB:  "We came to stop a war before it came to Cercia.  And it seems the war has come to us."

Responsibility and patriotism spur Cercia's new leader, Quentin, to protect his beloved country at all costs and he assigns Asahel and Felix to serve as ambassadors and secret agents to Anjdur. Their journey quickly turns awry and Asahel and Felix barely escape a devastating shipwreck, walk a tightrope of political tension, and rescue an empress before they learn they must face an enemy closer to them than they thought.

Will they be able to uncover an assassin's plot before it's too late? Will Asahel be able to unearth a secret that is vital to their mission? Will Cercia survive its own revolution? In The Jealousy Glass, Perkins boldly continues a series of unforgettable characters and events that will leave you begging for more.

GIVEAWAY:  In conjunction with the release of The Jealousy Glass, Gwen is running a giveaway for an autographed, first edition paperback of The Universal Mirror through Goodreads at: The giveaway officially ends on December 21, 2012—the author's birthday and supposed date for the oncoming apocalypse.


Twitter: @helleder

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Concept to story to series: Meet Georgia L. Jones

On of the best thing about blogging is the chance to take part in book tours. Today I'm honored to host Georgia L Jones, author of the Remnants of Life series. If you click on the picture above you can find some more stops on her tour, but I hope you'll wait until you've read this post and met the author here.

I've always wondered how authors approach writing a series, and Georgia answers this and many other questions below. But first, a little information about the book:

Remnants of Life: Legends of Darkness by Georgia L. Jones
Genre: Urban Fantasy
181 pages
Dangerous Saviors… What would you do if your life rested in the hands of something that really wanted to eat you? Come journey through the realms of the next world where everything you know about Good and Evil are put to the test.
Samantha Garrett lives and dies a good life in the human world. She awakens a new creature, Samoda, a vampire-like warrior in the army of Nuem. She is forced to realize that she has become a part of a world that humans believe to be only “Legends of Darkness.” Samoda finds her new life is entwined with the age old story of greed, love, betrayal, and vengeance.
Join our heroine as she battles not just for her own existence, but for the entire human race’s future.

and about the author:

Georgia L. Jones was born in Columbia, Missouri on September 21st, 1968. In 1992 she settled in the beautiful Ozarks town of Lebanon, Missouri, where she met and married the love of her life. Together they have raised 7 children and have the 8th still in their home.
At a young age Georgia learned the value of getting lost in a good book. She has always enjoyed reading and letting her imagination run wild. In her early teenage years she began to put her own stories down on paper as she plunked out the words on an old manual typewriter.
In 1996 Georgia enrolled at Missouri State University where she majored in Psychology. While there she found an untamable thirst for Philosophy and Greek Mythology. Many evenings she can still be found curled up with one of the great Greek Tragedy’s or reading about personal continuity by Rene Descarte.
Over the years Georgia has harbored the dream of being a published author and written many short stories. On January 10, 2010 she embarked on the dream as she began to bring the characters from her first novel, “Legends of Darkness”, to life. Upon completion in June 2010 she realized that it was not a single book but a series and created the concept of the series “Remnants of Life”. She is currently working diligently on the “Remnants of Life” series.

So, over to you Georgia and it's lovely to meet you:
First I would like to thank Sheila for having me as a guest on her blog.  I always appreciate opportunities like this one.  I enjoy every aspect of writing and enjoy sharing what I have learned and my process with others.  

I enjoy it too, and you're very welcome Georgia.

When I started Legends of Darkness on January 10, 2010, I didn’t imagine where it would end up. I’m an avid reader in the fantasy genre and had become bored with everything.  I wanted something different. I had been thinking about the concept for a year or so and just couldn’t find my beginning.  Through a series of unfortunate events, my beginning presented itself and I started writing.  I did not realize when I started that it would become a series, but as I began drafting it out, I had much more than a single book.  I handwrote the original manuscript and actually started two notebooks about halfway through, one for Legends and one for the series, Remnants of Life.

In June of 2010 I had completed the second draft of Legends on my old laptop and my husband read it.  Of course he really liked it.  He had been my test reader for about eighteen years and he had always liked everything I had ever written, so I didn’t take much stock in it.  He asked me if I would print off a copy for some of his buddies and I reluctantly did it.  That copy passed around for a month or so and ended up in the hands of retired magazine editor.  She actually wrote me a letter of encouragement.  That is what prompted me to actively seek publishing for Legends.

Finding a publisher is no easy task and I found that out quickly.  I began with query letters.  I read everything I could on the publishing process, asked friends who were published or seeking publishing, and searched through every detail of submission guidelines.  Then in July of 2011, after about a year of searching, I was invited to a convention by a friend and published author.  I ventured to Louisville KY to partake in a Pitch the Publisher session at Fandomfest.  

I pitched Legends of Darkness to Dave Mattingly, President of Blackwyrm Publishing at the convention and also had the opportunity to talk with him and the authors with the company during the course of the weekend. I still had a wait ahead of me though.  It wasn’t until September 5, 2011 that I got accepted to Blackwyrm.  Looking back, I consider myself lucky that it went as quickly as it did.  I have talked with aspiring authors that have been searching for years for a publisher. 

Legends of Darkness, the first book in the Remnants of Life series was launched on March 17, 2012.  It offers a fresh idea in the fantasy genre about vampire like warriors. I give them a completely new backstory that are billed as “dangerous saviors.”  They are here for a purpose and sometimes they just can’t resist the urge to devour a human or two, but for the most part they are good.  

Witches, the second book in the series, is to be launched on December 1, 2012.  It is from the human perspective and their interaction with the Warriors.

The Remnants of Life series is to be five books total.  It is an Urban Fantasy that has many action, adventure, and romance elements.  If you would like to learn more about the series here are the links…


·         TWITTER --
·         WEBSITE

 It is available in e-book format at Amazon or the print version at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any bookstore.