What with printing and binding ARCs of my new release and finishing up a couple of proposals, I’ve gotten a bit behind in blogging. To make up for it, I’ve got a great interview today with Shelley Bradley. In addition to being a writer, Shelley is the creator of plotting parties–an idea I just LOVE. So, here you go…
Q: In November Karin Tabke stopped by my email loop, plotspot–and did a presentation on plotting parties. She said they were your baby. Where did you get the idea, and how do you use them? Can you share a success story or two?
SB: You know, it’s been so long, I don’t remember exactly how the idea came about. I know my critique group at the time (4 of us) plotted together during out usual 2-3 hours together bi-weekly and it wasn’t enough. It may have been born out of that frustration. I just know that the first time we got together in a hotel room for a day and a half, we all came away with useful plots and had a great time doing it.
Typically, we’d draw names to see who would go first. From there, it differed. Some people only came with ideas. Others came with plots half or mostly formed and just wanted help fleshing out. 3 of the 4 of us used storyboards and would fill it in as things were discussed and decisions made. We eventually got so proficient at it that we’d start on a Sunday morning at 9 and finish by 5 that day and have anywhere from 4-6 plots either mostly or wholly completed. My
preference, however, is to allow a bit more time. Getting some fun in-between the hard work of plotting actually makes things flow a bit more easily. Weekend parties are the best! Bring wine and snacks and be prepared to work hard.
Once we started doing these several times a year and writing the resulting stories, the 4 of us collectively sold over 30 books in the next 4 years. Once things started clicking, we were all on a roll!
Q: Left to your own devices, would you call yourself a plotter or a panster?
SB: When I very first started writing, I was a panster all the way. Now, I’m the polar opposite. I know 90% of my plot before I ever begin putting words to page. I find there’s 3 advantages to this:
- From a practical standpoint, I think it’s easier to sell on synopsis and develop your editor’s trust if you’re able to fully explain the book you plan to deliver.
- Knowing where you’re going frees you up to focus on the finer elements of the book: character, description, dialogue, wordsmithing. When I write a first draft, I’m at that level because I’m not trying to decide if I want event A or event B to happen and what the repercussions of that choice will be. A lot of writers say that once they know the story totally, they feel like it’s been told and they don’t want to write it. I look at that as, I know the story but no one else does, and since I know it, I can concentrate on making it the best possible so it’s ready to share.
- I’m extremely time-challenged. Lots going on in my life! I don’t have time to write and re-write and re-write. I don’t do multiple drafts of a book. I write it, polish it, send it out for critique, read it one more time, then send it to my editor. I don’t ever re-write a whole scene, much less a chapter or more because I’ve already determined the outcome and point of every scene, cut anything extraneous, saw where I could add more for some oomph–all in the plotting process. I do make a few modifications as I go, but usually to logistical things, rather than overall plot itself. The result? In the 11 books I’ve turned in over the course of my career, I’ve done 4 hours of revisions for my editors total, all books combined. For me, once I type The End, I want the book to be over and ensuring a tight plot in advance, getting my editor’s buy in, then delivering what I promised generally ensures that I don’t do much in the way of revisions.
Q: Can you tell us about your newest release, Bound and Determined?
SB: Wanted for kidnapping: To prove her brother innocent of embezzling three million dollars, Kerry Sullivan abducts hunk-of-the-month computer security expert Rafe Dawson. The attraction between them sizzles, resulting in a deal: the price of his services in exchange for hers. After forty-eight hours of Kerry’s passionate surrender, infectious optimism and unwavering loyalty, Rafe is emotionally alive for the first time in his life. But can he win the girl once her brother is freed, the real embezzler is caught and their deal expires?
BOUND AND DETERMINED is my first contemporary, so I’m really thrilled to be doing something so different for me and so fun. I’ve received lots of rave reviews and am writing more books in the series–and having a great time doing it.
Q: Your tagline is “Sizzle from the Heart”. Is that the common thread in all your books? What can readers expect?
SB: Absolutely a common thread. Readers who dive into my books can expect steamy reads with a lot of emotion because, as a reader myself, that’s my favorite sort of book. The rest–whether it’s suspenseful, funny, poignant, otherworldly, etc. is only the back drop. I feel that my job is not just to entertain, but to evoke emotions in the reader, so I construct plots around that goal.
Q: What do you love about being an author? What could you do without?
SB: What do I love about being an author and what could I do without? The writing… It just depends on what day you ask me (g). I love that I can create people and situations and worlds and make it whatever I want it to be. But sometimes, the worry that it’s not coming out right or it could be better conveyed make owning your world stressful.
Q: Any new projects on the horizon? What would you like to try next?
SB: I have several projects on the horizon. The follow up to BOUND AND DETERMINED is called STRIP SEARCH and will be out in July. I’ll follow that up with my first trade paperback erotic romance, tentatively titled GOOD TO BE BAD. It’s due out next January. I’m hoping to continue both of these series later in 2007 and into 2008. I should know more soon.
Q: And finally, where can readers find your books?
SB: At their local or online bookstores, definitely Waldenbooks, Borders, Barnes & Noble or their online outlets. Chapters in Canada is carrying them, I’m told. For readers in Australia and the UK, Rendezvous Bookstore has you covered.