A Row of Ducks & Katherine Nichols

Hope everyone is well and happy! It’s hot here in Georgia. How hot is it? Well, one way of putting it might be – “it’s hotter than blue blazes,” or “You could fry an on that asphalt.” Pretty stinkin’ hot!! So glad my writing keeps me in the AC!

This month, I want to continue trying to explain my crazy writing process. Here are the four beginning steps I take.

  1. I decide what the story will be about – a general picture in my brain, and then on a “working” title. I begin digging into the research, i.e., time, place, location, popular culture, and anything pertaining to the story.
  2. I construct my main characters – first the protagonist, then other characters that play major roles in the story. Since I’m a visual person, I clip out pictures of celebrities who fit the description of each character and post it on my whiteboard or bulletin board.
  3. Then, while following the same method, I create secondary characters.
  4. Next, I profile the characters using a Character Personality Worksheet for each. This gets the imagination going while introducing me to who they are, their likes and dislikes, their negatives and positives, etc. This step is time-consuming, but I need to have all my ducks in a row, so to speak, before writing the story arc and outline.

I will expand on No. 4 with an example in my next blog in July.

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Today, I am so happy to introduce my guest, published author, Katherine Nichols, who will tell us how she became a writer and a bit about her writing process. Katherine writes women’s fiction/psychological suspense. She is the author of The Sometime Sister (2021) and The Unreliables (2022). She serves on the board of The Atlanta Writers Club and Sisters in Crime Atlanta, and lives in Lilburn, Georgia with her husband, two rescue dogs, and two rescue cats.

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Dreams

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
                                    Langston Hughes

My writing process began before I could write, and well before I knew what a process was.

When I was five years old, I visited my aunt’s house for Christmas and made a shocking discovery. While I had been studying color charts and navigating the monkey bars in kindergarten, my cousins were sitting in their first-grade class learning to crack the mystery of the written word. I came home in a snit and insisted my grandmother teach me to read immediately.

What began as a one-sided competition grew into an obsession. From graffiti and billboards to biographies to dog stories and Nancy Drew, I forgot all about my cousins and became fascinated with storytelling.

I could weave some pretty tall tales. But capturing them and wrestling them onto the pages of a book? That was pure magic, and I wanted to wave a wand of my own. I wanted to write and have people fall in love with my characters and spend time in the worlds I created. My dream was to be published.

Although it might not have been obvious to those around me, I held fast to it. I wrote for my college literary magazine and later for radio and television. As a high school teacher, I nurtured talent in others. I started a group for girls who wanted to excel. It evolved into a mentor program. As a mother, I shared my passion for reading with my own children. I never let go of my dream but it seemed farther and farther from becoming a reality.

And then, I retired. My children were living full lives filled with loving spouses and children. I was out of excuses. My husband encouraged me to go for it, so I did.

In what I think of as my third act, I wrote. I joined a critique group and wrote better. I started an all-women group and dove deeper. I created female characters who are unaware of the strength they possess and gave them the power to change their lives the way real women do, with humor and compassion.

I learned what a query letter was and how to put rejection aside and keep submitting. From the thrill of finding an agent to the disillusionment of realizing she wasn’t going to get me a spot on Oprah’s Book Club, I held fast to that damn dream.

At the tender age of sixty-nine, I signed with Black Rose Writing, an independent house out of Texas. They published my first two novels and signed me for a third to be released in December.

And I’m still writing. I even have a process. I start with the main character, a woman with hopes and dreams. Then I create obstacles to her aspirations, always including a murder or suspicious death. I have an end in mind but give my characters leeway to reach a different outcome. I have a daily or weekly word count in mind and try to write at least four out of five days a week. But I’m gentle with myself. I’m taking the time to fly with both wings and to keep dreaming.

Thank you for checking out my books, The Unreliables” at https://amzn.to/3n4VLnI“ and “The Sometime Sister” at https://amzn.to/3xyDuUA.

You can find out more about me on the following:

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Thank you, Kathy, for your being my first guest in 2022.

Don’t forget to check out my novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, on https://bit.ly/3IMV1Nk and https://amzn.to/3GN4l1M.

See you next month.

Jody

Published by jodywritessouthern

Jody Herpin writes with a southern accent. Re-discovering her love of writing in the last ten years, she has completed her second novel, "Relative Consequences," and is currently researching her third. In 2015, Jody received First Place for Novel Submission at the Southeastern Writers Association Workshop for "Weather Permitting." In 2014, she received Third Place for the Microcosm Award at the Southeastern Writers Association Workshop for her piece, "View of a Lifetime." She's constantly reading, researching and soaking up knowledge about her craft. Born in Savannah, Georgia, she has lived most of her life in the South, attending Decatur High School in Decatur, Georgia and living in Alabama, Georgia and North and South Carolina, Florida and Virginia. If she's not writing, she is decorating her home, attempting to paint with watercolors, reading, rediscovering the guitar, walking her Mini-Australian Shepherd, Bella, or cheering for her beloved Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Jody married the love of her life in 2014, and she and her husband, Mike Boggioni, a professional musician, live north of Atlanta, Georgia. She has two grown children and six amazing grandchildren all of whom live close enough "to holler at."

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