Monday, July 14, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Welcome to The Write Break – Musings of a Writer…

It’s a pleasure to be aboard The Writing Process Blog Tour!

A huge thank you to Debbie Okun Hill for the invitation. Debbie, author of Tarnished Trophies, a Black Moss Press publication, is Past President of The Ontario Poetry Society, a Member of The League of Canadian Poets as well as the Writers’ Union of Canada, Stop by her website Kites Without Strings and say hello.

Before you visit Deb, I hope you take a few moments to read some of my postings, check out a few sample First Monday magazine columns, and if you’d like to stay in touch – and I hope you do – click on my Facebook page and LIKE. It would be fun to see you there and your support is appreciated

Okay, let’s get down to business. I have some questions to answer.

1.     How does your writing process work?

I’d like to say that I’m disciplined and methodical – a plotter – able to draw up a complete storyline before I begin my first draft. That’s almost crucial when writing crime fiction, especially a mystery story.

Unfortunately, I’m a pantser. No matter how hard I try to plot, my characters follow their own storyline. Normally I create the main character and a situation. Then run with it. Mostly, once the characters are established, they lead the way. And yes, it’s a nerve-wracking situation when writing a mystery but they’ve never let me down.

Research is a huge part of my writing process. I tend to do more research than I need for the story but it enables me to get inside my characters. Many of my stories are from a different era and I’m a detail person. I want to know everything about their world right down to the shoes in the shop windows.


2.     Why do I write what I do?

I write what I like to read. Stories that are unpredictable. They might have unusual endings or are a little twisted or sometimes spooky. The mind works in mysterious ways and everyone has a dark side. I like to probe the darkness. Mysteries and suspense are my favourite reads. I prefer writing novels but, out of necessity, I have tackled short stories as well. They are a challenge for me to write but I am beginning to enjoy the process of writing shorts. And I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have written some award winners.

3.     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

A publisher asked me whose work was most like my own. I’d never thought of it before. I answered that I didn’t compare my work to others. It’s my own voice. I have my favourite authors and, no doubt, they have influenced my style but I don’t strive to imitate them.

I write a story the way it unfolds inside my mind without worrying how it will be pigeonholed. So often, we’re writing to fit a certain criteria and that can be limiting when our stories or rather our characters, want to drift in another direction. I don’t believe that is being undisciplined, it’s simply following the muse.

4.     What am I working on?

I have several projects in the fire now. I don’t like jumping back and forth between stories but it’s unavoidable.

I have a mystery novel that is wonderfully challenging. It’s a sixty-year-old cold case. I’m attacking the writing very differently than any other story I’ve worked. The story flips back and forth in time. I tend to write chapters out of sequence as the ideas come to me and I (hopefully) will piece the book together like a puzzle when I’m finished. It’s exciting to write, as I am anxious to find out whodunit.

I’m also working on a longish short fiction for a themed publication. More research, of course. It’s not a mystery but I’ll try for suspense. And I have a non-fiction story that’s very close to my heart that I’m submitting this summer to a magazine. Deadlines, deadlines!

Well, that’s a glimpse inside what’s happening with me these days.

Catherine Astolfo, author
It’s time now to introduce the next blogger on the tour. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Catherine Astolfo not once, but twice. We first met two or three years ago at the Sarnia GenreCon. Cathy, a member of Crime Writers of Canada, appeared as a panelist. We had a few moments to chat and I was impressed with her enthusiasm and bubbly personality. Cathy and I met again several weeks ago at The Bloody Words Mystery Conference in Toronto. Yep, she still has that winning personality. J

Catherine Astolfo is the author of The Emily Taylor Mysteries and Sweet Karoline, published by Imajin Books. In 2012, she won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Crime Story in Canada.
Whatever you do, don’t miss Catherine Astolfo’s blog next Monday, July 21st. She will provide the answers to her writing process AND she has some exciting news!



  1. I've never been able to write without a plan, but that's just me. In the end there isn't any single 'right way' to write an engaging novel.

    1. Terry, you explained the whole plotting process to me a very long time ago. I even blogged about it. But it's my characters, Terry, they're an unruly bunch :( Seriously ;)

  2. Writing process? What writing process? Obviously I am not very good at it - here I am, ONE WEEK LATE! I apologize profusely to Phyllis and here I go to answer these interesting, challenging questions. Thanks, Phyllis, and your dear readers, for your patience. I do have an excuse...that exciting news Phyllis spoke about.