How Julie Writes A Book, aka Our Summer Vacation

red-hands-woman-creativeOn Sunday night I had the great good fortune to be a guest on The Writer’s Chatroom, hosted by our own Lisa Haselton aka Lisa Jackson. I loved answering questions about my writing process and the publishing business. Though hardly an expert, I do know a fair amount. Right now I am deep in the weeds of writing book #3 in the Clock Shop Mystery series (working title, Chime and Punishment). It is due to my editor at Berkley on July 15. Book #2 in the series, Clock and Dagger, is coming out August 2. That means I need to get blog posts prepped for guest spots, work on a social media campaign, and possibly plan some public appearances.

I am so, so fortunate to have a publishing contract. But with that good fortune comes the pressure of producing a book a year for three years in a row. Though at this point in the process, the pain of forcing those words out of my brain onto the keyboard is real (my friend Hallie Ephron said it is like putting a log through a meat grinder) I’ve done this twice before for this series, and three times before for books that haven’t been published. I know I can do this. It may not be pretty, and I may not sleep for the next five weeks, but I can do this.

This summer I am going to write about my book writing process. I won’t make it genre specific, though I can write a post about that if it is helpful.  Posts will include how I plot, writing a series, the editing process, pitching your book, and promotion. What else would you like to know more about?

I post every other week, so two weeks from today we’re going to talk about plotting. I am a plotter, not a panster, and I’ll walk you through my process, how it helps get the first draft done, and what’ I’ve learned by putting it into practice.

Your homework, should you want to play along, is to think about the story you want to tell. Think about these questions:

  • Who are the main characters in your story?
  • What launches your story? “A Day in the Life” can be dull. “A Day in the Life After XYZ Happens” is a novel.
  • What is the overall theme of your story?
  • What else happens?
  • Where is it taking place?

Over the next two weeks, mull your story over. Think it through. Write ideas down. We’ll tackle plotting in the next installment of this simmer series.

Happy to hear any ideas you might have!


ClockandDaggerJulianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mysteries. Clock and Dagger will be out August 2.

16 thoughts on “How Julie Writes A Book, aka Our Summer Vacation

  1. This is really helpful and I am looking forward to following it through. I’ve had the story in my head for years but it will NOT come out right! So until I follow your advice it is an idea not a story!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to share your process via the blog, even while the publishers are cracking the whip behind you!
    On the topic of plotting, I’d love to hear how much you tend to stick to your original plots/plans. Are you strict about them, or do you go ‘of piste’ in the heat of writing?

    • I will make sure and talk about this on my post, but short answer here. I have found that when I just did an outline, I would veer off. But the plotting I do now is very detailed, and takes me a good amount of time to accomplish. When I start to veer, I reread the scene cards and either realize I’d planned for that, or I make an adjustment. The art comes in how I accomplish the scene cards. This won’t work for everyone, but it is really helping me.

  3. Thanks for blog. Question about names…… I am writing the sequel to the family story this has become challenging. I had not planned it but many fathers and sons tend to have the same name. Becomes difficult in a generational sense. Interesting reading this post. Cheers!

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