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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How Do You Do It?

Please welcome guest blogger D.B. Reynolds

The first question people frequently ask me, after they discover I’ve written a book (or two or three or …) is, “How do you do it? How do you come up with enough words to make a whole book?” Well, first of all, I love what I do; I love to write. And maybe that makes it easier. Unlike many jobs (dare I say most?) when I work on one of my stories, it brings me nothing but pleasure. I sit in my own home office (or sometimes on the couch) with all the comforts of home nearby, and I lose myself in a world of my own creation. It’s a dream come true.

So, that’s a good start. But what comes next? After all, I could be sitting on my couch playing endless games, instead of writing! So, how to begin? Well, before my heroine can take her first step, I have to create both her and the world she lives in. Whether the story is a fantasy or a modern day mystery, every city, every building, every room she enters has to be made real. And not every story can take place in my hometown in Southern California.

Some of my stories happen in places I’ve been. But if not, there’s the all-powerful Internet, where one can find pictures of just about every place on earth. I use topographical maps and Google maps too. Also, sites like Flickr which have static images of almost everything. And then, if I need a particular kind of house in a particular kind of neighborhood, I look up the real estate listings. If I need a building on a University campus, I check out the incoming student info at UB. A bus route, the weather, or, since I’m writing about vampires, when the sun rises and sets—it’s all on the Internet and it’s all information I need to make my world real.

Another of my WIPs, takes place in a galaxy far, far away. (Are you seeing words scroll away from you on-screen as the music begins to play? Yeah, me too.) There are no Google maps for far, far away, but there ARE a lot of details involved in designing a planet, especially one that will support human life (and still support my plot!) I had to check out solar flares, elliptical orbits, FTL travel, laser weaponry, and all sorts of flora and fauna. Or maybe it’s an epic fantasy. No cars, no planes, no space ships either. But my characters still have to travel. After all, it wouldn’t be much of an epic if it all happened in the same castle, would it? So I need to know how far a horse can travel in a day while carrying a person and supplies. How much food, how much water, how many miles per day. And more weaponry, but swords this time, bows and arrows, body armor appropriate to the setting.

And then my worlds need to be populated. Not just my main characters, but everyone else. Innkeepers, clerks, and taxi drivers, siblings and parents (unless they’ve died tragically in the prologue, of course.) There are neighbors and bosses, and sometimes there are vampires and werewolves. Not just the starring roles, but all the others, too. These people need names and descriptions. There are a number of good name engines on the web, and the ever reliable baby names sites, too. For descriptions, there are a couple of engines which will deliver physical descriptions, and some people use the FBI’s Most Wanted sites for facial descriptions! Great idea, although I generally don’t use them. I usually have a strong physical image of every character as soon as they pop into my head.

But then, there’s the plot. My characters have to have a purpose, something that propels them forward through the story. Sitting around a warm fire, reading a good book and drinking hot chocolate is a lovely way to spend a cold, winter afternoon, but it’s not much of a story. So my main characters have to be put in danger, or given a mission to save the world (or just each other) or solve a crime or stop a bad guy before he commits a crime. Something to move them forward, something to vest the reader in the story.

And all of this has to be down on paper before I’ve actually written a single word of story. But as important as they are, the story is so much more than these details. The art of writing is crafting these details into words which transport the reader into my world, seeing what I see in my head, or even more importantly, seeing what my characters see in their heads and feel in their hearts. I can’t just say “Cyn walked into the room” and leave it at that. How did she walk into the room? Was she strolling, running, striding? And what did the room look like? Sunlit, moonlit? No windows? No furniture? A fire burning? And who else was there? The lovely Raphael, maybe? It’s always such a pleasure to describe Raphael ::sigh::.

But I love all my characters and all my stories. I love writing. And to the extent I succeed in taking my readers away for a few hours … I love that, too. So, when someone asks me, “How do you write a book?” I could tell them all of the stuff I’ve written above. But the honest answer would be …I don’t know. It’s just there in my head demanding to be let out.

D. B. Reynolds writes the award-winning Vampires in America series, the second book of which, JABRIL, recently received the 2010 RT Reviewers Choice Award for Indie Press Paranormal Romance. She has also received two Emmy nominations for her work in Sound Editing and lives with her husband of many years in a flammable canyon near Los Angeles.


The Pacific Northwest . . . home to lush forests and constant rain, to lumberjacks and computer geeks, especially those of the vampire kind.

Sophia, beautiful and deadly, has spent the last hundred years dancing her way through the balmy nights and hot-blooded men of South America. But when her Sire sends an urgent summons, Sophia rushes home to Vancouver only to find he has disappeared, leaving nothing behind but three dead vampires and a letter with Sophia’s name on it.

Colin Murphy, a former Navy SEAL, came to the Northwest seeking a quiet place to heal the scars earned in more than a decade at war. But when someone starts killing local vampires and torturing their mates, Colin takes on the mantle of a warrior once again as he sets out to find the killers and do whatever it takes to stop them, even if that means hunting with vampires.

Following her Sire’s trail of death to a small town in northern Washington, Sophia unexpectedly discovers the heat of a South American night in Colin’s arms. But too soon Sophia and Colin find themselves in a race to uncover the killers before the next dead vampire becomes Sophia herself.

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