Friday, March 28, 2014


My editorial assistants monitor my work.

Donna S. Frelick
Romance at the Edge 
of Space and Time 

My turn now, as part of the Writing Process Blog Hop set in motion by Arlene Hittle (see Laurie’s post on Monday).  I was invited to participate by my blog partner of six years, Laurie A. Green, three-time RWA® Golden Heart® nominee, fellow Firebird sister (2012 Golden Hearts®) and indefatigable advocate of SFR everywhere, including through the organization she founded, the Science Fiction Romance Brigade.

Now, since you’re just dying to know:

What Am I Working On?  I can hardly keep from shouting the news that I’m working on cover design and promotional planning for the publication of the first of my series of science fiction suspense romance novels, Unchained Memory!  The book is being published as part of a three-book deal with Ink’d Press, the publishing division of Inkling Literary Agency, founded by my agent Michelle Johnson.  In this new approach to publication, I’ll have a lot of the benefits of greater control that self-pubbers have, with fewer of the risks (and headaches!).  Distribution will be in digital and print-on-demand through Amazon, with a release date of February, 2015.  (Trouble in Mind, the second book of the series, will likely follow within six months.)

In the meantime, I’m finishing up revisions on the third book in the series (Fools Rush In) and beginning the first draft of a fourth (Follow the Sun).

How does my work differ from others in my genre?  I write what The Galaxy Express’s Heather Massey has dubbed “hearth and home” SFR.  In my books, most of the story takes place on Earth, and is about protecting Earth and its people.  Settings are largely familiar; the time is now.  It is only the perspective that is skewed.  Aliens exist—and some of them are an ongoing threat to us.  Space travel is common—in other parts of the galaxy.  In Unchained Memory, we only see other worlds in flashbacks, and never see the real villains, the Gray slave-trading aliens.  In Trouble in Mind, we do travel to the Gray homeworld and several other worlds, but most of the action takes place on Earth.  Not until the third book in the series, Fools Rush In, do I set an entire story in space, where many typical SFR stories are set.  That one is a departure for me, but the same elements of community and a need for “home” are still part of the story.

Why do I write what I do?  I once thought I wanted to be a science fiction writer.  But the story I was writing just wasn’t working as straight SF.  I couldn’t get beyond the basic idea—that a woman out late at night loses three hours and gets home to find her house in flames and her children dead in the fire.  Her quest to find what had happened to her in that three hours was the kernel of the story, but something else was needed to propel it. 

Then one day I was standing in the grocery line and saw a dramatic cover for Karen Marie Moning’s Kiss of the Highlander, a time travel romance.  I learned two things right away.  Covers are important!  And there’s such a thing as time travel romance!  Later that night I learned something else.  Romance is addictive!  I went right out and bought all the Karen Marie Moning books I could find.

Within days that SF story had turned into a science fiction romance novel—Unchained Memory.  Asia, my tormented heroine, found Ethan, an equally tormented hero, to help her in her quest, and the story suddenly made sense.  And I realized I’d been writing SFR all along, in the four STAR TREK fanfic novels and seven short stories I’d written years before.  It was Fate.

How does my writing process work?  Well, looks like I might be the plotter of the group.  I almost always start with the characters.  They come to me first, with a history and a look which I just have to discover.  I may have a scene that pops in my head to start with—like that lonely road where Asia first wakes up in the prologue to Unchained Memory.  But before I ever start writing, I sketch out the main characters in a Notes file on the computer. This gives me an idea of what their motivations and goals might be. I sketch out a rough outline of the plot, too, like a very broad synopsis.  Conflicts are identified this way (or the lack of them!).  

But just because I do this doesn’t mean things can’t change along the way.  Ideas, characters, plot complications all emerge from the process of writing.  You may discover you need a better villain, or a minor character may hijack the book and lead you in a whole new direction.  That’s okay—it’s your subconscious, your intuition doing its job.

I write and revise as I go, revising the previous day’s work as the start of the new day’s session.  Then when I finish the “first” draft, I go over the whole thing again before I let anyone else see it.  The manuscript goes to my critique partner, Linda, next, who is exceptional at pointing out inconsistencies in character, holes in the plot or problems of pacing.  If I can snag Laurie or Sharon (rare these days, ‘cuz they’re so busy!), I’ll ask them for a read after those revisions are done.  They’ll be looking for consistency with SFR conventions, bad science and, ahem, bad grammar!  (Typos, those are typos!)

If I haven’t discouraged you by now, you must really want to be a writer!  Believe me, it’s not something we choose. Writing chooses us.  And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s a match made in heaven.

Cheers, Donna


  1. Writing chooses us.

    Yeah, that's a perfect summary. I don't think most successful writers decided to write one day, it's just something that's part of who they are and what they're compelled to do. (Though I have met writers who just got inspiration and started writing one day, but I think they're a much rarer flavor.)

    And I'll always make time to read your work, Donna. (As long as you're not in TOO much of a hurry to get the feedback!)

  2. Congratulations! That's wonderful news.

  3. Congrats again! Sometimes I envy those who plot, but on the other hand my system has worked for me so far. I did try plotting for a NaNoWriMo once - with the first week I'd strayed so far from the outline I binned it.


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