The Writing Process
I write two series, so I alternate between the series. First, I decide what type of storyline I want. Next I have to mentally find my “voice” for whichever series I’m working on. Then I sit down and write. That sounds really simple.
This is where I laugh hysterically. I love writing. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had while doing a job. However, there’s nothing simple about it.
While I’m writing a book belonging to one of the series, I keep my eyes and ears open for story ideas for the other series. I may hear something on the news, or a friend might share something that happened to her or a friend. Sometimes an idea just comes to me. For instance, I’ve always wanted to write a story about a ghost town, and Old Murders Never Die was born.
Once I know what the storyline will be, I begin researching, which is a necessity. It might be ghost towns, or World War II history, or even something as simple as songs or mode of dress for a specific era.
So, armed with ideas and knowledge, I look at timelines. Some stories will evolve over a few days, and some will take a month or more. This is when I pull out a calendar and start making notes. I don’t want to have three days’ worth of action take place in 24 hours.
It’s finally time to sit down and start writing. Can I find a hook? I’d like the story to grab the reader’s attention right from the beginning, but I have to admit this doesn’t always happen. Every once in a while I have to build up to an event.
Okay, so I begin typing. My mind is going ninety miles an hour, but unfortunately my typing isn’t quite as fast. I slow my thoughts down and the story begins to make more sense. It begins to take shape.
I have two friends who critique and proofread my work, and I do the same for theirs. We exchange two chapters at a time, and it works well for us. When they return my chapters I go through and “fix” any problems they’ve found.
I have to admit that by the last couple of chapters, I’m really anxious to finish the book. I’ve read and reread the words so many times that I don’t recognize errors because I know what the story is supposed to say, and that’s how I read it. Thank goodness for friends who actually know what they’re doing. After the last chapter, I go back to the beginning and read the book straight through, repairing and changing as I read.
I’ve made this sound relatively simple, but in reality it isn’t. There are so many smaller steps in between. When my story finally goes to the publisher, it’s as clean and error free as I can make it. And then they find the things I missed and I’m back to “fixing” the story.
Next the marketing and promoting begin, but that’s a whole different subject for another day.
Sandi Webster, private investigator, is in for her greatest adventure when she and her partner, Pete, become stranded in an old ghost town inhabited by a mysterious horse-riding cowboy and some Old West murders. What better way to spend a well-earned vacation than running down old clues and searching vintage houses that haven’t been entered in over a hundred and twenty years? Bubba, Sandi’s half wolf/half Golden retriever, keeps the action moving in his own quirky way, along with a big black horse and the mysterious cowboy.
Marja McGraw was born and raised in Southern California. While filling the role of a single parent, she worked in both civil and criminal law for 15 years, state transportation for another 17 years, and most recently for a city building department. She has lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona.
McGraw also wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was also the Editor for the SinC Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.
She has appeared on KOLO-TV in Reno, Nevada and KLBC in Laughlin, Nevada, and various radio talk shows.
Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder! Books include A Well-Kept Family Secret, Bubba’s Ghost, Prudy’s Back! and The Bogey Man, all part of the Sandi Webster series. Bogey Nights is due out soon, and this is the first in a new series, The Bogey Mysteries.
She and her husband now live in Arizona, where life is good.