My Favorite Part of Being a Writer by Paty Jager

I don’t know about all writers, but for me, the best part of writing a book is the “stewing and brewing” process. It’s the time between, “Bing!” I have an idea and when I start writing the actual story.

source: Depositphotos

What I call the “Stewing and Brewing” process is where I come up with the story idea or setting and then start researching and filling out my suspect chart.

I get to scan websites and look through baby name books to come up with character names and then give the attributes and reasons they are part of the story. Suspects, officials, friends, the whole bit.

And even better! Figuring out how the victim dies. I love putting a twist on the cause of murder. My newest Shandra Higheagle release, Toxic Trigger-point the death is caused by an acute allergic reaction to bees. The book I’m “stewing and brewing” right now I’m thinking the death appears accidental at first. Then… as things get investigated further it was murder.

There are times my devious mind astounds me! LOL However, coming up with the out-of-the-box scenarios is so much fun. Taking the reader on the trip of; this person did it, no, that person did it, is almost as much fun as coming up with the characters, motive, and cause of death.

I pinch myself all the time wondering how I can have so much fun writing when other writers are always complaining how hard it is. I do agree, the editing, revisions, and making the story shine are hard, but it’s like child birth. I forget about those things when I’m in the throes of “stewing and brewing”. 😉

Here is my latest Shandra Higheagle release:

Toxic Trigger-Point

Adultery… Jealousy… Murder

Shandra Higheagle Greer is minding her own business when she walks into a room for a massage and it is already occupied—by a dead body.

Always the champion for someone she knows, when her favorite masseuse looks like the murderer, Shandra listens to her gut and dreams choreographed by her deceased grandmother.

Detective Ryan Greer can’t believe his wife has walked into another homicide. He’s learned no matter how he tries to keep her out of the investigation he can’t. But this time the consequences could be deadly for Shandra—she heard the murder happen.

The New Writer

“Excuse me—are you ladies writers?” asked the man at the next table in Passion Pie Café, Truth or Consequences. Clearly accustomed to the ways of T or C, he understood that it’s socially normal to listen, to introduce yourself, and to connect with strangers.

I was having lunch with a friend who did the cover photography for some of my books, and he’d overheard us discussing the plot challenges of my next book. She’s a thoughtful and insightful reader, a great person to brainstorm with, so he assumed we were both writers. The gentleman had pages of notes on his table, and he explained that he was an archaeologist and professor working on his first mystery, to be set at an archaeological site on a fictitious version of a well-known ranch in the area where he has done work for many years.

“May I pick your brains?” he asked.

This was the beginning of a great conversation, getting acquainted as new friends as well as sharing creative processes. When we ran out of time to finish it,  he invited us out for dinner the next day. In between those two meetings, I reflected on how much floundering I did years ago, trying to breathe life into a non-viable first draft, before I found the resources that helped me become a better writer.

These are some I recommended to him

  • Sisters in Crime (SinC). There are now misters as well as sisters in the group. The SinC Guppies group (a name that evolved from the Great Unpublished) is where I found my editor and my critique partners, where I arranged manuscript swaps, and got answers to all sorts of obscure questions for my research. The subgroups of the Guppies help with marketing, social media, brainstorming, and more. Local SinC chapters host workshops and speakers and provide networking and promotional opportunities. (Our  fellow blogger Patricia Smith Wood does great work with Albuquerque chapter.)
  • Editor and writing teacher Ramona DeFelice Long’s current blog project, 40 Days of Worksheets.
  • James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure and Jack Bickham’s Scene and Structure. For me, these are the ultimate and irreplaceable guides to making a story work.
  • Feedback from other writers. I was impressed that he’s already getting it. As he debated using first or third person, he had people look at his first chapter, and everyone told him it was better in third person. The newbie author himself was the only one who liked it in first person. Off to a good start. He’s killed his first darling.

He knew he had a difficult project underway and genuinely wanted to learn.  He had insight into the weakness that’s slowing him down—editing fanatically on the first draft rather than pushing through and polishing later. (A weakness I understand all too well.)

I offered to critique the work in progress when it’s ready. We came up with a possible title and even a theme for titles in the series. He formed quite a bond with my photographer friend, and I’ll be curious to see if her work ever ends up on his book covers.

My prediction is that he’ll succeed. He loves mysteries, knows how to work hard, has a sense of humor, research skills, and an original idea. The romantic subplot of his mystery is a knock-out. And he doesn’t think he already knows everything. Meeting him reminded not only how much I’ve learned since I was in his situation—a professor writing a first draft in my free time—but also how much I have to learn and keep re-learning.

Image credit, Passion Pie Cafe exterior  by Donna Catterick