Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Writer Routine Wednesday: Stephanie Newton

Hey, all! Today marks the first day of my new blog segment:
Writer Routine Wednesday, where every Wednesday from now until the end of August I will host an author. We'll get to know them better and their books as well as hear them describe their usual writing routine. Maybe you'll pick up an idea they use for yourself! Lots of great prizes are scheduled too!
So, please welcome author Stephanie Newton today and hear about her writing routine!

BIO: Stephanie Newton’s first book for Love Inspired Suspense hit the shelves in March 2009 and won the Romantic Times’ Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Love Inspired Suspense. She’s currently working on Point Blank Protector, Book 6 in her Emerald Coast 911 series, an April 2010 release.

Steph will be speaking with USA Today bestselling author Catherine Mann and Sr Editors Melissa Endlich and Krista Stroever on tightening tension using the five senses at the RWA National conference.

Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie!

Please describe for our audience a “typical” writing day for yourself. For example: Do you get up have your coffee, check e-mail, then write to a certain time? Do you have a set word or page goal when you write?

I’m laughing a little to myself at the thought of a typical writing day (just not so loud that the other people here in the cafĂ© at Borders will think I’m crazy!) Really, I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to fit together the pieces of my life in some kind of coherent pattern. My latest experiment, one that seems to be working really well, is to power write a couple of hours at a time. I have a partner that I’m working with who also had some immediate writing goals. We check in by instant message at the beginning of the writing time and after each hour. I’m not an extremely fast writer in any case, but I’ve been able to plow through some pages. I think it helps knowing that I’m going to have to report my progress!
When a deadline gets close, I write all day and it’s every man for himself (or herself) at our house.

Do you have another job outside of writing? (Being a mommie definitely counts!!) If the answer is yes, describe how you balance the two and how much time you devote to each.

I’m lucky that writing is my full-time job. I have two teenagers and I love that I’m able to have a job and be home when they are home. My youngest is home-schooled, so she keeps me company during the day and even critiques for me occasionally.

Are you a laptop, PC, Alphasmart, or by hand kind of writer?

I work on a laptop and carry it everywhere with me--you never know where inspiration will strike! (Or a guitar lesson runs over or soccer practice goes an extra thirty minutes and I’m in the car with time on my hands…) The bad thing about hauling a computer everywhere is that it significantly shortens the life span of said computer. I’ve gone through three laptops in four years. I finally bought a major life insurance policy for the last one. The guy at the store said it would cover anything except falling into the pool with the computer. Personally, considering my luck, I think it should cover that too.

Plotter or panster? If you’re a plotter, how much time do think you put into plotting before writing.

I’m a pantser who has to plot to sell on proposal. I write three chapters which takes me a month or two and then write a synopsis, which takes a week or two. My synopses are pretty detailed, around 15 pages. To my surprise, it actually turns out to be pretty helpful to have. As I’m writing one scene, I check the synopsis for what should come next and I’m mulling that over in my mind while I’m writing. I jot ideas down at the end of the manuscript and delete them as I write them.
Sometimes things completely change from the synopsis while I’m writing. For instance, when I was writing Smoke Screen, I got about halfway through it and realized the villain I thought was the villain really wasn’t. Fortunately, I have an editor who understands writers.

Some writers make collages or listen to or create music soundtracks for their work-in-progress? Do you do any of those or have you thought about doing one of them?

I make a soundtrack for each book when I’m writing the first three chapters and learning about the characters. Most of the time, the songs I pick are reminders of who a character is, what their heart conflict is. Sometimes a song evokes the tone of the book that I’m going for and sometimes it’s just a song that I’m loving at that point in time, one that brings out an emotional response in me (which makes it easier to write). The last book I wrote (which comes out in Nov), I listened to the Lady Antebellum song Need You Now about a million times as I was writing, not because it meant anything for the characters, but because I loved it so much! My daughter refuses to listen to it. Ever again.

What’s your favorite book on writing?
My all-time favorite is the Vogler book, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters. I like to use it as I’m plotting a synopsis. A writing friend gave me another book recently that has lots of great little gems of advice: The Writer’s Little Helper by James V Smith. It’s a Writer’s Digest book with colorful pages and short snippets of advice, perfect for someone with attention issues like me!

What’s your favorite fiction book you’ve read so far this year?

Oh, wow, that’s a hard question. I’m trying to read a variety of fiction and am keeping a list of books that I’ve read this year on my blog--it’s the first time I’ve done that. I do read reviews in some cases before I pick a book (Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas and Something About You by Julie James). Some are auto-buys (Brenda Minton, Ally Carter, Catherine Mann, Nora Roberts) and some are lucky surprises (Ingrid Weaver’s Her Baby’s Bodyguard). The one that I was glued to for five hours, all the way home from a soccer trip, in which we could’ve had a wreck and I wouldn’t have noticed, is Laura Griffin’s Untraceable. Since I started this little reading experiment, I’ve been encouraged at the really good fiction in all sub genres that I read. I love a good book!

What’s your favorite way to reward yourself after you’ve finished writing a book?

Too funny! Thank you, Stephanie, so much for sharing a little of your writing routine and life with us today!

Here's a little bit about Stephanie's new book, Flashpoint, her Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense due out July 2010


With his first major case, fire-cop-in-training Matt Clark finally has the chance to shed his image as the Clark family’s goofy youngest son. Then an explosion lands Matt and his partner, Lara Hughes, in the hospital. As the investigation--and the fires--gain momentum, Lara’s now a witness, needing all the protection Matt can give…if she’ll let him. Lara’s worked hard to keep her distance from Matt, but a desperate choice to save the investigation leaves her with nowhere else to turn.

Sounds great, doesn't it?

Well it's up for pre-order on Amazon. com but if you don't want to wait, Harlequin has up for sale in their ebook store and print book store now.

CONTEST: Stephanie has generously offered to give away not one, not two, but three copies of her book Flashpoint AND a partial critique for this Writer Routine Wednesday special.

Please leave a comment below to be entered to win. The giveaway contest will run from now until Thursday 11:59PM (EST).

I will announce the 4 lucky winners this Friday!

Good luck and get into your writing routine!


Diane said...

So generous of you! It sounds like you have a system that works out great for you. I think for me instead of cupcakes, it might be a whole cake! :O)

Silke said...

It's nice to know other writers have no set routine either.
I like the idea of setting aside times and writing with a partner (as such) and checking in with the progress during that time.
I used to do speedwriting stints via Yahoo Messenger, it's amazing what you an bash out in 10 minutes!
I recommend it, but for me it's tricky, as time difference usually means by the time people get up on the other side of the pond, I'm ready to go to sleep!
Maybe not that bad!

Lorraine said...

Hi, Stephanie!
I, too, am a pantser although with my current wip, if I ever get through revisions on another one, I'm making actual notes and using a program called Text Block Writer to outline the chapters as I get ideas of things or people to include. It's my first time using the program and I think it will be helpful for writing the synopsis if nothing else.

Like you, I tend to make notes at the end of the manuscript and delete them as they're included. I also keep a separate word document open for anything that doesn't sound right or doesn't quite fit and I cut and paste to it in case it'll work later in the story.

As far as writing time, I have breakfast, check my emails, facebook and Hqn boards and call my Mom for a chat before I start writing. If I don't, she calls when I'm in the middle of something. I've had to resort to turning the phone off on occasion but I now warn her first. lol She worried when she couldn't reach me one day and showed up here. So much for getting any writing done but at least we had a good visit.

Without too many interruptions, I can usually draft a first copy in two to four weeks, depending on the muse and how well the words are flowing. I tend to edit as I go so the editing process after is just one complete run-through.

Keep up the good work. IMHO, you deserve the spotlight.
Lorraine Nelson

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Very cool interview. I find myself wanting to comment on so many things. I love when people make soundtracks for their books. And you've introduced a new writing book for me to check out.

Yeah for cupcakes. Maybe that's what I should have today or tomorrow when I finish another first draft of a WIP.

~ Wendy

Rachael Johns said...

I found myself chuckling and nodding my head cos I related to so much of this post! But yeah...the cupcakes really resonated. I am definitely a CAKE person and should probably limit it to a reward once I'd finished a book. I'd either eat a lot less cake or write a lot more books!
Thanks for having Stephanie Jennifer - I found it really interesting!

Terri Tiffany said...

Thank you Stephanie for taking the time to do this!I love reading about an author's plan of attack on writing a book--wow-- I hope I don't go through that many laptops! And the keeping each other accountable is awesome:) Thank you!

Joanne Rock said...

Hi Stephanie! Flashpoint sounds wonderful... what a great series you've got going. Had to grin at your daughter's comments. My kids thought they were tired of my work music, but I think it sank into their little brains while they were doing homework because now they come in my office when I'm playing my music to get work done. They are sheepish, but they can't deny the worker-bee vibe I've got going in there :-).

Jennifer Shirk said...

Thanks again, Stephanie! I just loved hearing about your routine too!

Stephanie Newton said...

Good morning!

Diane, I love cupcakes because of the ratio of icing to cake, but I definitely wouldn't turn down a whole cake, especially if it was a two layer cake with lots of gooey icing in between layers. (Now I feel the need to hurry and finish this book!)

Silke, I'm totally with you on writing partners who live in different time zones. One of my long-time CPs lives in California, so we're always working around the difference. I think that's one of the coolest thing about our writing community, though--how we have friends and writing partners all over the world!

Jessica Nelson said...

I love this interview! Recently I've been typing my ideas at the end of a scene too. Seems to help reorient me when I get back into writing.
Thanks so much for sharing your processes! Your youngest kid sounds awesome. :-) Also, I read Untraceable and really enjoyed it.

Please enter me for the contest!! ;-)

Stephanie Newton said...

Lorraine, I'm jealous of your speed at drafting! (And I'm checking out Text Block Writer as soon as I get out of here :) Thanks for the tip!

Wendy, I don't know if you're a writing book junkie like me, but I love finding new ways to look at things. Sometimes even if the info isn't new, a new perspective helps!

Stephanie Newton said...

Rachael, I read a blog called Our Best Bites and they have THE best cupcake recipes. They also helped me out with a cooking scene for my current ms. (I have a hero who cooks and of course he has to cook something manly!)

Terri, my husband wishes I didn't go through so many laptops. The local computer shop loves me!

Stephanie Newton said...

Hi Joanne! Now you have me interested in what kind of music your boys would do their homework to!

I'm moderating a workshop at RWA that Joanne and Catherine Mann are teaching on Submission 101, an interactive focus group style workshop where attendees will learn the essentials of a selling submission package, including query letters, story blurbs, synopses and sample chapters. (I can't wait!)

Lorraine said...

Don't forget, I'm writing full-time right now, live alone, kids are grown and have lives of their own. I don't even watch tv unless my grandson is here and that's usually a kids movie.

I'm off work due to medical reasons and, of course, this means there are days when I don't write at all, other than answering emails and checking out the forums.

Writing is not a race to the finish, except during NaNoWriMo, and in November I got 108,000 words typed, finished two wips and got halfway through a third. lol We write as and when we can. Sometimes it helps to push yourself a little beyond the comfort zone, like when I can't sleep and get back up and write for a couple more hours. Or when it's warm and sunny and you want to be outside but the muse won't quit. It all contributes to the end product.

Stephanie Newton said...

Jennifer, thanks for having me! I'm about to hit my writing time, so I'll be ducking out for a while, but I'll check back in later.

Hi Jessica! Putting the notes at the end of the ms is something I picked up from one of my CPs. I think you're right that it helps get me right back into writing mode when I open the ms up the next day.

Jen said...

Wonderful interview! I enjoy reading about the "inner workings" of full time writers. Thanks Jennifer and Stephanie!

PS: I LOVE the Memroial Day picture :)


Davin Malasarn said...

What a great idea for blog posts! I always enjoy reading about other people's routines...or lack of routines. :)

Anne said...

You're not the first writer I've heard who uses sound tracks, a couple even list the sound tracks in their books. As a non-writer, it surprised me at first that it is used as a writing tool, but I guess it sets the mood.

Mmmm, cupcakes. The food of the gods. I could have what ever I wanted the morning we would go on vacation as a kid and I always chose chocolate cupcakes (homemade).

PatriciaW said...

Sounds like an interesting book and series. A major life insurance policy for the laptop? Funny.

Great idea for a new blog series, Jennifer.

Laura S. said...

Great interview! I find other writer's routines fascinating. And I love that Stephanie's reward is cupcakes! If that doesn't get you to finish your book, then I don't know what will, lol! And thanks for the generous contest!

This looks like it'll be a great feature every week, Jennifer!

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I like reading how others schedule their writing. The instant messenging tip to keep connected to another writing partner is one I'd like to adopt!

A very generous give-away, and I look forward to more of these posts, Jennifer.

Chelle Sandell said...

I love to find new authors! Your book sounds great!! My TBR pile has dwindled to a short stack. :) I'm also a cupcake kinda girl! ;) As for my writing schedule? LOL. Whenever I can squeeze in time between kidos, dogs, and hubby. At least my hubby has recently switched jobs and will be home full-time. Not sure if that will hurt or help my writing time though, he's almost as demanding as kiddos.

Stephanie Newton said...

Hi Davin, this close to deadline, my routine definitely feels like work!

Anne, I like hearing what people were listening to when they were writing, but it's definitely one of those subjective things.

Patricia, I didn't know about the policies until my dad bought one for my daughter's computer (she does online school, so needed her own). That policy came in handy last semester when she spilled a cup of coffee in the computer. FWIW, coffee and computers, not really sympatico! ;o)

Stephanie Newton said...

Laura, I'm hoping the cupcakes provide lots of inspiration over the next few weeks.

Lynn, the IM accountability is great. I can't take credit for the idea, though. A gal I met on the eHarlequin boards came up with it. I'm so glad that she did! It works great!

Chelle, good luck writing with your husband at home!

Stacy Post said...

You had me at cupcakes. :) I totally understand the wear and tear on a laptop. They should make them especially durable for writers, no?

Great interview, Jennifer! Good questions!

R.M.Gilbert said...

Jennifer, wonderful new blog segment.

And Stephanie, a 15 page synopsis! I'm in aww. I think I may try this so thank you for sharing. Well, my laptops on fire... ;) Got any suggestions for a good laptop insurance agent?

Great post. And congratulations on Flashpoint.

P said...

I love this series! And I think Stephanie's "power hours" of writing (with a partner) is genius. I might have to borrow it!
Good luck with the release and thanks for the inspiration...

Stephanie Newton said...

Stacy, I could use a coffee and crumb cover for my computer AND a bullet-proof case to carry it around in...(Okay, maybe not bullet-proof, dropped-on-the-concrete-proof?)

Hi R.M., a 15 pager isn't too long, considering it has to have all the romance and all the suspense and my editor has to be able to see that I've come up with a story that will make sense when it's written. Before I sold on proposal, I wrote a 5 pg synop to go with a full and a 2 pager to go with a query letter. I think it's probably easier to write a long one than a short one in which every word seems so valuable.

Harper, I wish I could take credit for the idea. I'm definitely benefiting from someone else's genius. ;o)

Unknown said...

A girl after my own heart! Cupcakes!!! What a very generous woman for giving away so many copies! I'd love to snag one so count me in on the fun!!! I love meeting new authors!

What an awesome segment... I think I'm going to enjoy this one every time you post it!

Alissa Grosso said...

Great interview. I am always interested in reading other writer's routines since I don't really have one myself.

cozymysterygirl said...

thanks for a great interview.It is always nice to hear all about an author please enter me into the giveaway if you send to Canada

Carolyn V. said...

What a great interview! I'm so impressed that she takes her lappy everywhere with her. I should try that. =) Good luck with your new book Stephanie! =D

Jennifer Bianco said...

I'm laughing at the comments around the song, "Need You Know". I too went through a period of loving the song and my daughter rolling her eyes at it. :)
And another cupcake lover! Whoo hoo!
The book sounds fascinating, Stephanie.
Thanks for the interview, Jennifer.

Renee said...

Stephanie, I just, in the last week or started started reading Love Inspired Suspense. I'm addicted!

I think it's great you homeschool. I had to laugh about the writing during lessons. Sometimes that is all the time you get to write a paragraph or two. I homeschool three of mine, between ballet, piano, and two guitar lessons a week, I'm all over.

Thank you for the opportunity to win one of these fabulous prizes.

Jennifer, what an awesome idea!

Julie Musil said...

Her book sounds amazing, and her interview was helpful. Thanks!

And thanks for stopping by my blog. Your dad deserves our thanks for his service!

Bossy Betty said...

It is so interesting to hear about the writing routines of people! Loved the interview! Thanks.

Jill Kemerer said...

Stephanie, you come across so fun and down to earth! Congratulations on your success and thanks for sharing a little of your life with us!

Anita Saxena said...

Thank you for sharing Stephanie! I particularly liked your answer to the plotter or panster question. I'm trying to write my own synopsis before I delve into the next major rewrite of my WIP. Congratulations on being a full time writer! Can't wait to check out your books.

Stephanie Newton said...

Jen Chandler, I think I missed your comment earlier. The idea of revealing my "inner workings" makes me want to clean my house, LOL!

Jen D, glad you stopped by!

Alissa, sometimes a routine can be as simple as fixing a cup of tea to tell your mind it's time to write!

Stephanie Newton said...

Hi Kellie!

Thanks for the luck, Carolyn--I'm six weeks to deadline and both of my kids will be out of school next week. I think I'm going to need it!

Jennifer B--I almost put NYN on my new playlist, but took pity on my family. ;o)

Renee, sometimes I have wondered why we call it "home" school when we are rarely at home!

Stephanie Newton said...

Betty, I'm laughing at your Bossy Betty handle. My husband would say that we are two of a kind.

Jill, thanks...hopefully I can share my experiences. I wouldn't call it wisdom! Hope to see you at RWA again this year.

Anita, good luck with your outline and your rewrite!

Ann Best said...

Jennifer, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog.

Your blog is so informative, and this interview is wonderful. I'm learning so much from you "younger" writers who are very much in the mainstream.

Tana said...

Nice to know you Stephanie! I'm going to check out that craft book you suggested. I hadn't heard of it before. I'm impressed you can actually sit and power write a couple hours at a time. That seems to be my biggest struggle!

Debora Dennis said...

I'm always inspired by anyone who can write to music. If I write to music I'm writing the lyrics before long...LOL. I need quiet - not easy when you've got three kids and a crazy cat. (Oh and the hubby who demands attention every now and then.)

Stephanie Newton said...

Hi Ann! I'm glad that you enjoyed the interview!

T. Anne, my biggest problem is the internet addiction. I catch myself clicking on it all the time. But I get so much more done when I'm not checking email every five seconds.

Debora, when I think back, I started listening to music to block out the rest of the noise in my house. I use the earbuds that are somewhat noise canceling and turn the music up really loud. It's amazing what it blocks out. My kids know that if the earbuds are in, that I'm working. I don't know if that helps or not!

Kelly Polark said...

Great new blog segment, Jennifer!
I love reading about other writers' routines. (even though it's hard for me to have a set routine with my kids' schedules)
I reward myself with chocolate sometimes! :) Thanks for sharing, Stephanie!

Stephanie Newton said...

Hi Kelly, kids schedules are a challenge for me, too. I find that sleep is often the first victim to writing deadlines.

Chocolate makes a great reward!

Stephanie Newton said...

Jennifer, thanks so much for inviting me to visit today! I had a great time!!

Ju Dimello said...

Hi Steph, Nice to meet you here :)

I dropped in for the first time to Jennifer's blog and well, there are lots of stuff to read now :-D One more lovely blog to follow.

For me, I always need a good book.. As I read, the writing of mine seems to flow smoother.. and by the time I reach "The End" of my story, I would have gobbled up 4-5 books and well, nearing the end of the last book ;) which makes it all the more a treat for me to complete mine and jump right into full fledged reading !

Btw, opt me out of the book contest (Your books are already in my piling up TBR) but count me in for the partial critique.

Nice to see so many wonderful known faces once again :)

Stephanie Newton said...

Kellie, I meant to say earlier that I will send to Canada, or anywhere really. :)

Hi Ju, I used to read more while I was writing when I didn't have to write as fast. But, I do still find inspiration in a good book. That's one of the reasons I wanted to be more deliberate in my reading choices this year. Thanks for stopping by to say hi! If this is your first time here, you'll love Jennifer's blog!

SiNn said...

your a ne wto me author and ur book sounds awesome deff will be wnating to read ur work with my book group great post!

Stephanie Newton said...

Hi SiNn, Thanks for dropping by!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I always love hearing how other writers go about doing things. I loved this! Thanks to both of you, ladies. :-)

Lorraine said...

LOL I also have an internet addiction. Amazing what you can find and the people. Isn't it great to be able to speak with people all over the world?

Until I stared writing, I'd only used it for email and research, now I have so many forums and blogs to follow, it's time consuming and I've had to try and post limits. Now, a break for a cup of tea allows me to surf and communicate with other writers, otherwise, I'm hard at work, currently on revisions.

BTW, I have Flashpoint in my TBR pile, but I'd love the experience of having you critique my work.

Silke said...

You know, no those cupcakes...
One of my crit partners, who shall remain nameless (She knows who she is!) took me to a place called "Gigi's Cupcakes" in Alabama.

Don't go there.
Really, just, don't even look in the window. I did, and I think I put on about 5lbs just from looking at their cupcakes. (I had no concept of a cupcake, btw)
The weight gain had *nothing* whatsoever to do with the uh... whole box of cupcakes we bought.
Okay. I bought.
There were WAY too many to choose from and they all looked... oh God. I think just remembering them made my hips bigger.
(We each managed to eat about 3/4 of one. We took them with us when we went to Georgia -- and forgot them at her mom's house lol.)

So don't mention cupcakes and stay away from that cupcake place!

You were warned!

Erin said...

Too funny about the Lady A song! This was a really fun read!

Stephanie Taylor said...

LOL, Silke. It was your fault. You can't come to Alabama without having a cupcake! ;o)

Stephanie Newton said...

Hi Shannon, it was great fun visiting with you all!

Thanks, Erin!

Silke and Stephanie, I am DYING! I grew up in AL, so I had to go look up Gigi's Cupcakes immediately. I have cousins nearby. I think it might be time for a visit.

Thanks for all the fun comments :)

Unknown said...

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