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The Quill Blog

Our schedule is subject to change on a whim because we're writers and sometimes lose track of the days. We wouldn't have it any other way.

The Quills Talk Writing

MK (aka McKenna) here with a blog fail. I missed my regularly-scheduled day due to one of those random events in life that you chock up to bad luck. Sunday night, I went to sleep exhausted and ready to enjoy a solid eight hours. Instead, I was treated to a throbbing in my arm that kept me awake all night. Seriously, all night. I kept imagining what I would do if I had access to a bone saw. Would I really cut off my own arm? Well, I'm glad I didn't have one handy, so I didn't have to find out. Add to it a writer's vivid imagination, and it gets interesting.

The result? I forgot all about blogs, books, and everything except the mind-numbing pain. Lucky for me I have a rock star chiropractor who fixed me up and now I'm back to normal, writing away like nothing ever happened.

Anybody who says writing isn't tough work . . . let's talk.

Anyway, I'm going to share this post with my fellow Quills for some questions and answers, because my fail should be everyone's gain.

Kimberly Lewis

What do you think happened to your characters after the book ended?

I tend to wrap my books up in the epilogues, so readers aren’t really left wondering. But for my McKade books I like to think about the “in-between” stuff. For example, Zane and Andi have kids in Luke’s book. My in-between moment with them is Andi finding out she’s pregnant and telling Zane. She wakes up early to take the test, screams with excitement when she gets the positive, scares Zane half to death and has him falling out of the bed to get to her to find out what’s wrong. And I like to think that poor Luke with his fear of needles and aversion to blood would pass out during Karlie’s labor. I still might write those sneak peeks into their lives outside of their books and post them on my website, just for fun.

What would the main character in your book have to say about you?

That I need to stop being so indecisive and just write their dang happily-ever-after already.

What did you edit out of your last book, and do you wish you hadn’t?

Oh man, there was this scene in Luke right after the date scene. I had this whole bar/dancing scene planned out that morphed into a truck scene on their drive home (and yes it was going to be a hot one). Chase Rice’s “Ride” was playing on the radio, windows were fogged, Deputy Ernie Woodson from Norah’s book was going to make an appearance, blue and red lights were going to flash … it was going to be quite sexy and quite comical but I decided it didn’t fit this particular book. So I’m keeping that one in my back pocket for a future book.

Carolyn Lampman

As a reader, are you more likely to pick up a book with people or without?

In general, I buy by author, tagline or blurb. However, I vividly remember walking into a convenience store to pay for my gas one night BA (Before Amazon) with a toddler clinging to my pant leg and a baby in a carrier. I still had a twenty-mile drive through the blizzard howling outside and was totally focused on getting my babies home. While I was waiting, I glanced around and saw a cover so incredible that I was drawn clear across the store to the paperback book rack. It was midnight blue except for a gorgeous man on a black stallion. When I left the store, it had been paid for and was safely tucked into the baby carrier. Now that’s a powerful cover!

What did you edit out of your last book, and do you wish you hadn’t?

This is one of the reasons I am now self-published. I get to decide what gets edited out and what stays. When my first book, Murphy’s Rainbow was originally published by Harper Collins, the editor took out two entire chapters. The first one was about an obnoxious buffalo coat. I told her it was a thread that ran through all three books of the trilogy, but she stuck by her guns. It was the same with a scene where the heroine was kidnapped. When I got my rights back and rewrote, the buffalo coat went back in, but the kidnapping scene did not. Instead, when I got to The Jinx and the Pinkerton nearly twenty years later, I pulled that chapter out and dropped it in where is fit almost seamlessly! (Ok, she was right about the kidnap scene-editors often are, as much as I hate to admit it!)

Have you ever cried while writing a scene? What about the scene brought forth the emotion, and did it change how you finished the book?

I often cry over a scene, though not as often as I laugh or chuckle. It’s important that I do, because if I don’t cry, or laugh, or whatever, my readers won’t either. The worst was a death scene in Willow Creek. The heroine’s father was dying of consumption. To get him right, I used memories of my father who died of emphysema when I was sixteen. I even based Cyrus’s death scene on a very scary attack my father had a year or so before he died. As a result, I bawled my eyes out as I was writing it. I still do whenever I read it too. I think it makes the scene more believable.

MK McClintock/McKenna Grey

In what ways has writing changed you? Do you miss anything from your “previous” life that you gave up?

I stressed a lot less in my previous life. It's difficult to understand unless you're a fiction writer, but all of those characters we write are real, on some level, to us. We worry about them, think about them constantly, want the best for them, and everything else you might stress over when it comes to real-world family. Of course you can step away from them, which you can't do in real life, but they are still family. Then there are deadlines, fretting over whether or not I'm doing right by the characters. Am I giving them the story they deserve? Am I being true to who they are?

I miss disposable time. I've always had my own business to deal with on a daily basis, but I could easily walk away and relax, take some time off, really enjoy thinking about anything and everything else except business. When I added writing to the mix, I'd say sixty percent of that precious time was swallowed up. Do I miss it? Sure do. Would I give up writing to get it back? Heck no.

Do you have any props in your writing space that you can’t do without? Or a routine you must follow when you sit down and write?

Props: I have two sections of my office. The one that is primarily for my family businesses. I have to keep that very organized for obvious reasons. The writer section of my office is mixed in, but it's definitely not as tidy. I have shelves overflowing with books, pictures on the wall, a white board with notes and book covers, a display with story ideas . . . it goes on. I need things to be tidy, but I also like to be surrounded by what represents me and my writing.

Routine: If the house is in the least bit messy, I can't concentrate. The house is clean, the bed is made, the laundry is done, the dogs are happy, and a number of other little tasks are all done before I sit down to write. I have a tall glass of water, no ice, usually a cup of tea, a little chocolate, and soft piano or harp music playing in the background. Sometimes I will take my laptop somewhere outdoors, but it's easier on my back and neck to use the big screen at my up/down desk.

What would a main character in one of your books have to say about you?

I'm not sure I'd want to know, but if I was one of them (which I technically am) then I would say I'm a terrible procrastinator and need to stop fretting over every little detail. To which I would reply, "All that fretting is what gets you the happy ending, so be quiet."

My main characters and I have interesting relationships.

What are you currently reading? Do you like your book covers better with or without people?

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