Writing process blog hop

When I was asked by Pat Ruppel, over at Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom, to take part in a writing process blog hop, I enthusiastically agreed, even though I’d never been involved in one before and wasn’t entirely sure what it involved.  One of the most unexpected, but valued, things I’ve gained in my blogging journey, is the support of a worldwide creative community, so if I can contribute to building that community in a small way, I’m honoured to do it.  The way the blog hop works is that, first, I’ll introduce you to the wonderful Pat, then I’ll answer four set questions on my writing process and finally, I’ll introduce you to three more fantastic writers.

Profile (9)_processed_compressed

Pat Ruppel – Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom

Is it possible to make a difference in the world?  Pat believes it is.  One way is through writing to inspire and warm the heart.  That’s what she hopes to do on her site at Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom, table stories.  People always seem more comfortable wherever food and drinks are served, whether inside where it’s warm and cosy or out on the patio.  We go to wherever we’re most relaxed to catch up on the latest with family and friends or open up to explore conversations with new people.  That’s when magic happens.  Pat believes, if we could find common ground and talk, whether it’s around a kitchen table or in writing a story, anything is possible.  If there are problems or life issues, she thinks most could be resolved, if we could find where we most identify with one another and trust to tell our story.

The desire to connect and learn how differently people react and their opinion of things interest Pat. It probably comes from when she facilitated talking-stick workshops for her employer back in the late ‘90’s /2000’s. She’s always wondered why people have different attitudes in their approach to what they do and how they feel about life. Where does it come from and what is their story?  It is her hope that you’ll pull up a chair, kick back and join her at her kitchen table at “Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom”, with a few examples of featured stories below. Maybe, they will warm your heart and take you to a similar place — familiar memory — or trigger a feeling within where you could tell your own story.

Ghost Stories From An Old House   (http://plaintalkandordinarywisdom.com/ghost-stories-from-an-old-house/) ― It was the home where my mother grew up in a small beach town in Virginia, situated on main street and only 2 blocks from downtown. You wouldn’t think the house would be “haunted” just to look at it.

Young Love to Old Love (http://plaintalkandordinarywisdom.com/young-love-to-old-love/) ― Well, it’s official.  We are now the elder couple with white hair walking down the street holding hands.  I remember when I was in my dating years or married and chasing to my next errand I’d see an older couple holding hands and think, “Awhh, isn’t that nice. I’d like to be doing that someday.”

A Talking Stick and a Poem (http://plaintalkandordinarywisdom.com/a-talking-stick-and-a-poem) ― A post I read today from a fellow blogger, John Cali, started me thinking. He was asking the question, “How Do You Know If You Are Making a Positive Difference in People’s Lives?” Have you ever thought of that or, maybe, you’ve thought, “What’s the point to what I’m doing?” I remembered, one time, when I was shown how a talking-stick and a poem can make a difference. Here’s my story.

Pat can be contacted at her blog: http://plaintalkandordinarywisdom.com;

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/PlainTalkAndOrdinaryWisdom

Twitter —  https://twitter.com/pcrupp1928

LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/pub/pat-ruppel/0/834/6b7

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+Plaintalkandordinarywisdom/posts


My writing process

Thanks to Pat for inviting me along, please go and visit at her table if you haven’t already.  And now I’ll answer the four set questions passed on to participants in the blog hop:

SAMSUNG CSCWhat am I working on?

My novel, The skin of a selkie is the novel I’ve worked on for more than twenty years.  Though the basic story has never altered, it has undergone various revisions over time.  But, after a last read through and polish, it’s finally time to send it out into the world.  The synopsis is done, but I’m working on the dreaded query letter and trying to summarise the story in a sentence.  It is the story of a mother and a daughter whose lives are fatefully entwined with those of the selkies, seal-people who, once a year, are free to take human form.  I’ve no doubt that this sentence will change many times before I’m happy with it, but perhaps you can let me know whether it intrigues you enough to want to know more…

 How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write about women’s lives, in stories that are more character than plot-driven.  But what I think makes my stories a little different to those that would usually be classed as general fiction, is that they tend to feature a hint of magic.  I don’t write fantasy, but magic of one kind or another will seep in to the narrative.  This may be an integral part of the story, as it is in The skin of a selkie, or it may be that there is a just a little more to the story than it might first appear.

Why do I write what I do?SAMSUNG CSC

I still remember the tears I cried when my mother confirmed that Santa Claus and the tooth fairy weren’t real.  I remember, as a young child, that expectant feeling as the evening of Christmas Eve approached and I imagined that I could hear sleigh bells in the distance.  I remember yearning to be a witch, before I knew that witches really existed.  I still long for magic.  I want the world to be more than it appears to be.  And so I immerse myself in nature, the world’s everyday magic.  But I’ve also spent many years seeking another kind of magic, primarily through a pagan path.  Magic has influenced my life and I want to bring that into my writing, because I think we all need to feel that there is more to the world than what we see around us.  Storytelling is also a kind of magic – the alchemy of bringing words together to create something that is more than its parts.

How does my writing process work?

I see an idea before I write it.  Usually a character, a setting or both.  I can visualise that character in that setting at a particular moment in time.  Plot comes after, emerging from the character and their setting.  I will ruminate on an idea for long periods.  In my day job, I spend a lot of time travelling from site to site on public transport and I find this an ideal time for mulling over ideas.  The mulling process will continue after I’ve begun to write and usually, other ideas that are helpful to the story will emerge over time.  When I write, I type straight into the laptop.  I can touch type, so I write as quickly as I think.  Usually, I’ll know the beginning and the end.  Everything in between evolves as I write and muse.  Fragments of thoughts, dialogue, description, will find their way into notebooks and onto scraps of paper around the house, until they all come together in one narrative.  Then, for me, comes the hard part.  I love to write, but I hate to revise.  Which may be one reason why Selkie took so long to be ready…


Three fellow writers

I’ve chosen three very different writers to carry on the blog hop, but what they have in common is that I love to read their writing.  I hope you’ll spend some time visiting them so that you can enjoy them too.


Karin Van den Bergh – Ruby Slippers and the Yellow Brick Road

My name is Karin Van den Bergh, born in Belgium but currently living in beautiful New England, U.S.  Having worked in the tourism business for several years and being married with a globe-trotting businessman, it’s fair to say I’m a cosmopolitan in heart and soul.  I have a healthy curiosity for exploring and learning all about life on earth and beyond.  I believe everything and everybody, from the mundane to the magnificent, can be a source of inspiration.  My blog can be described as sort of an online journal, a walkabout on the ‘yellow brick road’, an adventure inspired by life as it comes and the many cross cultural encounters with beautiful people.

You can contact Karin at her blog, Ruby Slippers and the Yellow Brick Road: http://karinvandenbergh.wordpress.com/


Sandra Danby Author 19-3-14

Sandra Danby

Since she can first remember, Sandra Danby has loved reading. Hardback, paperback, e-book, new or pre-loved, borrowed from the library and friends, magazines and newspapers, she reads them all. She grew up on a small dairy farm at the bleak edge of East Yorkshire where England meets the North Sea. At the age of four she was making magazines full of her own stories. When missed by her mother, she was usually found in a corner with her nose in a book. She devoured everything from the Famous Five and Secret Seven to Swallows and Amazons, from Little Women to George Orwell and Mary Stewart. All this reading led her first to a degree in English Literature in London, then to journalism. Now she writes fiction full-time… and still reads at every spare moment. Her first novel Ignoring Gravity can be pre-ordered at www.britainsnextbestseller.co.uk/book/index/IgnoringGravity

You can contact Sandra as follows:

To pre-order ‘Ignoring Gravity’: www.britainsnextbestseller.co.uk/book/index/IgnoringGravity

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Twitter: @SandraDanby

Blog: http://www.sandradanby.com

LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/pub/Sandra-danby/16/674/911

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Sandradan1


Gemma Hawdon – Top of the Slush PileGemma Hawdon

Gemma Hawdon lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children. She is frantically honing the synopsis for a Children’s Fantasy that is – finally – ready to start submitting (although the synopsis may take longer than the actual novel because she welcomes any distraction, even the ironing, to delay the tedious project). On top of that she writes articles, guest posts, web content and short stories as well as her own blog http://topoftheslushpile.com. She loves hot coffee, long walks and sneaking off to the movies when everyone else is at work.

You can contact Gemma at:

Blog: http://topoftheslushpile.com

Twitter: @gemmaleehawdon

Facebook: Facebook.com/topoftheslushpile




60 thoughts on “Writing process blog hop

  1. Nice to learn about your writing process as well as about the other writers you profiled. Good luck with the query process. I imagine after twenty years you are ready for your work to see the light!


    • Thanks Carrie, yes, I’m happy that I’ve finally got to the point where I feel it’s ready. Because it was my first novel, it grew with me, during all the learning times and the times when I stopped writing, etc. etc. I’ve written half of another novel in a fraction of that time!


  2. Really interesting and inspiring post Andrea – thanks for the introductions which I will peruse over the next week.
    The single most fascinating thing for me though was that you see your character and setting before you start to write. I do exactly the same, putting them in different scenarios until I have an ending. Then I think of a beginning. The rest is just fleshing it all out. Like you, I type straight onto my laptop. Editing has become part of the process now and while once it was a pain in the neck, these days I’m quite happy about ‘killing my babies’ – as an old tutor once so delicately put it.


    • Thanks Jenny. I never really thought of myself as a visual person, since I used words so much, but when I got feedback on the novel I was told it was quite cinematic in the way it was written – I’ve noticed more recently how much I ‘see’ of what I write. I’m getting better at killing the babies – in this last revision of the novel I took the plunge and just got rid of the first chapter – which I loved – because I didn’t think it was enough of a hook to encourage someone to read more.


  3. This is a really cool blog hop. Loved meeting Pat and your fellow writers. I think the mulling part of the writing process is really important. Sometimes I spend months just getting to know my characters and my storyworld. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed learning about your writing process and why you write what you do, Andrea. Wow, twenty years! I can’t imagine that.
    Thanks for the introduction to the other writers. I’ll certainly check out their blogs. I know Gemma, she’s awesome! Boy, her daughter is a mini-Gemma…too cute!


  5. Congrats on getting your novel to this stage. As someone told me last year, get your first three chapters as good as you can and synopsis and send it out there. On a separate note, a writing colleague wrote a poem called Blasket Selkie, in Irish with English translation, and I was reminded of it, reading the description of your novel. Great to see Gemma profiled above as well. cheers, Ce.


  6. Interesting to read your process, Andrea. Mine is similar. I usually know the beginning and the end, but have to dig for meat in between. Thank you for sharing this.


  7. Congratulations, Andrea, well done on the writing process blog hop — you did yourself proud! Thank you for joining me on this journey and taking part. Like you, it was a new learning experience. The fun part is I got to read your writing process and discover your fellow writing colleagues. Your process is different from others I’ve read in that it’s visual to you and you can see the beginning and end before you begin to write. That must make the words come easier to you and flow smoothly.

    That’s interesting to me and I love the magic. Where would we be in our imaginary worlds of writing without magic in all its forms.

    Kudos, my friend, on your book. What an accomplishment. I truly admire those who are able to write full-blown novels. I marvel at where all the words come from. I’m sending you many, many wishes for success and blessings on its acceptance and publication. Twenty years in the making is a testament to keeping the story alive and well and determination to make it known to the world.

    Thank you, again. I’m honored to partner with you on this writing process blog hop journey. 🙂


    • Thanks Pat, and thanks for inviting me to take part! It’s been great to learn more about you, other people in your writing circle and then to be able to pass it on to other writers. I hadn’t really considered some of the questions that were asked as part of the blog hop, so it’s also made me think a little more about how my writing process works. The book has been a long time in finishing, though it was subject to all the changes that happened in my life over those twenty years – hopefully life will give me some space to concentrate on more creating in the next few years 🙂


      • You’re welcome, Andrea, and I’m with you on the questions. I had to really think about them and that was good. It’s interesting how we all have different purposes and approaches to writing. I enjoyed learning those things about you and the journeys your colleagues have taken.

        It doesn’t sound like it will be long before you’ll have your book sent out to be published. I wish you well on that enormous endeavor. I admire you on that accomplishment and for keeping it alive. 🙂


      • I’ve heard about those all-important letters and how exasperating they can be. No doubt you’ll ace it. The words have been there, all the time, just waiting for you to draw them out. 🙂


  8. “The skin of a Selkie”…what an intriguing title. I’d love to read it when it’s been published. I relate so much with the magic you talk about Andrea. Myths, legends, fairy tales etc.have always fascinated me ever since I was a kid. My dreamproject that I’m working on at the moment includes transformational storytelling with musical accompaniment. I hope to create a new blog for that some time in the future..

    Once again, thank you so much for the invitation, Andrea. I must say, it looks a bit weird to see my name and pic on your blog, but I so much appreciate the share.
    Much love, x x x


      • Yes! and they have their own unique stories and perspectives to share as well.
        Love it!
        Btw, I noticed on the picture you were at Santa Claus’ village – Rovaniemi!? How magical is that! Did you get to meet him? 😉


  9. Wonderful blog hop post Andrea, thank you so much for introducing these three incredibly talented writers to us, I’m looking forward to visiting their blogs as soon as I can. I found reading about your writing process very interesting indeed. As we have shared before, I touch-type too and do just as you, bash my story straight out on the keyboard after a long mulling process so I really relate to your process.

    Also, as with you, although I am at last getting more disciplined with writing my book on most days (I say hesitatingly,ha!!) I am seriously dreading the editing part at the end of it. Not going to think about it though…yet!

    I am so impressed with all your writing achievements and successes. You have some talent young lady! Just a quick question if you don’t mind – how do you find the competitions that you write for? I subscribe to Freelance Market New but do you recommend anywhere else? For the kind of stories I write I need a different market to the ones I’ve read about so far. Thanks!

    I wish you every success with the submission of your book Andrea and hope that you get the query done to your satisfaction soon. It took me ages just to write my memoir book blurb. Doing the blog hop compelled me to do so and it has helped me to have something tangible written up for my own reminder if nothing else as to what it is I’m actually doing (for those times when I’m plagued with self-doubt…)

    Your story sounds fascinating, I’m looking forward to reading about your progress, Very exciting!

    This has been such a wonderful experience to take part in, and it’s so great to be able to share our writing journeys. Thank you again for this wonderful post and sharing more about your writing journey with us all today 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sherri, I hope you enjoy meeting them. I recommend Mslexia – it’s a women’s writing magazine, published quarterly and it contains a directory in every issue – that’s what I tend to use to plan a lot of my submissions. They also have topics in the magazine that your can submit for, as well as their own competitions. It’s also a good read in itself! I find I’m being more choosy about what competitions I submit to – I don’t have a huge collection of stories to work with, so I’ve started to submit to the competitions where there is some kind of publication at the end – prize money is nice, but building up a portfolio is more important to me at the moment. The good news is that every competition I’ve entered since I won my two prizes, I’ve either shortlisted or longlisted for, so I really do feel as though it’s a serendipitous time for my writing at the moment 🙂


      • Yes, I know I will! Thanks so much Andrea, this is great! I didn’t know about this magazine. I’ve been really struggling with this and didn’t know where to turn so you’ve helped me out no end!

        You are doing so well, I’m so impressed! You are on a roll and need to keep pressing in. I’m sure that great things are in store for you and your writing and I can’t wait to hear more news of your successes 🙂 Very exciting times for you Andrea!


      • Oh wow! Thanks so much for letting me know Andrea but I’m not too confident that will happen. Still, you never know…..a miracle might happen, lol 😉


      • Mslexia sounds interesting, Andrea. It looks like you’ve had success there? May be something I need to check out. Thank you! 🙂


      • I like your determination, Andrea. You and Sherri have got me thinking more about what to do with my writing (you with your submissions and Sherri with memoirs).

        I’ve only been a guest on a few sites and had a story of mine published in a book along with a collection of other stories. I’ve thought about submitting something to “Chicken Soup for the Soul” as a friend of mine had a story of hers accepted.

        When you submit a story to Mslexia, do you retain copyrights?


      • You do keep copyright – they have themed writing, either competitions or a particular theme for different issues, but there are also other parts of the magazine you can submit to – but the directory at the back is useful, it tells you about competitions as well as magazines, etc. seeking submissions.


  10. I love the title and premise of your novel – so engaging and intriguing. I’ve always been drawn to stories of humans taking other forms and vice-versa. I think, in part, it reminds us of the limitations and powers of our human form. All the best with the next stages of the writing and publishing – looking forward to reading it when it comes out!


  11. I’ve read a number of posts from this blog hop, and yours is definitely one of the most thoughtful and interesting of them all. Your novel sounds so intriguing, and I hope I’ll have the chance to read it before too long. Querying is such a difficult and stressful process, and I’m wishing you all the best with it. Your success with the writing competitions should bode well for your changes!


  12. As always, Andrea, you’ve crafted a thoughtful, creative post with depth. Your project sounds fascinating. I have full faith you will do well with it because it’s a great idea and it will be complimented by your poetic and descriptive writing style. Your friend Pat sounds as equally fascinating as does her blog which I will hop over and check out as soon as I’ve posted this comment! Thank you for including me in the blog hop. All the best, Gemma.


  13. That sounds very interesting, the concept of passing around a talking stick between coworkers at an employer. Ideally, I think, that would encourage honesty in an environment in which people might otherwise be too oriented toward protecting their careers to be genuine with each other, although the process of helping people let down their guard in that context, I imagine, might be challenging.


    • Hi Chris — I saw your comment in Andrea’s blog hop regarding the talking-stick concept. It was interesting in a corporate setting — it sometimes made me think, “What the heck am I doing?”. I wrote a story, if you’re interested, that captured a little of the experience. It’s called “A Talking Stick and a Poem”.


  14. So neat to hear about your writing process! Wowza, twenty years! The writing community salutes you. I like that you use public transportation to mull over your ideas. I do that, too. Great time for reflection since I don’t have to concentrate on the road. Good luck on querying! Can’t wait to read your little gem one day soon!


  15. Andrea – You’ve done a wonderful job of putting your blog hop together and I know from the quality of your blogs, I’m in for some good reading. I love it when an amazing blogger recommends another blogger. I know I’m going to land on another great blog. Thanks for leading the way.
    I was tagged today. Are you up for another blog hop. I’m due to post my reply on June 7 and that would place yours due June 14. TX


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