BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Piper Maitland's Top 10 Writing Rituals: A Guest Post

Photo from author website

 Please welcome Piper Maitland to the blog today. She is on a blog tour to celebrate the release of her urban fantasy book, "Acquainted with the Night", which was released by Berkley on November 29th. (See my review here.)

Piper lives on a Tennessee farm with her family. She is the author of the vampire thriller, Acquainted With the Night. She is currently working on the sequel, A Requiem for Daylight. Piper has also written novels under the name Michael Lee West. 

BOOK BLURB (from goodreads):

 The pages of history are written in the blood of the undead…
A woman’s quest for the truth…
A medieval icon that holds the clues…
An ancient book with the power to shake Christianity—and humanity itself… 

Caroline Clifford’s bland life as a London tour guide flips upside down when her beloved uncle is brutally murdered at a Bulgarian archeological site. While traveling to recover his remains, she meets a man who corresponded with her uncle. Jude Barrett is a biochemist on a mission—to eradicate the world of vampires… 

 At first, Caro is dismissive of Jude’s beliefs, but she can’t ignore the signs around her—the human bites on her uncle, the strange men following her, the anguished cries after sundown. Strange anagrams on her uncle’s passport lead her and Jude to a cliff-top monastery in Greece, where a shattering revelation connects a relic Caro inherited from her parents to an age-old text on immortality—and an enigmatic prophecy that pits the forces of darkness and light in a showdown that could destroy them all… 


By Piper Maitland 
ISBN: 9780425243633
Published by: BERKLEY
Format: MMP, ebook
Length: 539 pages
Release Date: NOVEMBER 29, 2011
Author Website:

Piper is here to talk to us about the rituals that she uses when writing. It's a fun and interesting glimpse into an author's mind and writing process. Thank you Piper for joining us today.

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Piper Maitland’s Top 10 Writing Rituals

1. Black Flair Pen - I'd love to break my superstition about these pens. Kroger stopped selling them, and I've been forced to buy the pens in bulk. They're all over the house. Words seem to flow faster and surer when I write first drafts with a Flair pen (must be black, medium point, at this stage).  

2. Yellow Legal Pads – Here’s another cursed superstition. When I was a young girl, I wrote on Big Chief tablets. Many hundreds of years later, this item might be extinct. For the past three decades, I’ve written all first drafts on yellow legal pads. When I complete a wobbly draft, I type up the whole mess.

3.    Photo collage – During the pre-writing stage, which can last a while, I focus on the characters by building collages. I don’t care about hair color or facial features at this stage. I’m more interested in the characters’ inner lives. I gather pictures of their favorite foods, paint colors, seasons, etc. Then I go deeper. What scares them? What do they desire? What are their quirks? All of these images are taped on one side of a double door. I will also make a photo collage and use it as the image on my laptop. 

A novel’s setting springs from the characters, and when the time is right I will add photos of places the characters live, have lived, and will travel. At some point I’ll know my characters’ physical traits, but I keep them in my mind’s eye. 

On the other side of the closet door, I will gradually add Post-it Notes—plot points and snippets of dialogue. Usually these snippets come just as I’m falling asleep. When I reach this stage, the characters are talking, and I’m no longer writing—I am inhabiting the book.

4.  Inspiration tray – Also during the pre-writing stage, I’ll grab a metal tray, a large one, and walk around the house, gathering objects that call out to me. For AWTN, I included a Greek orthodox icon, garlic pods, a box of Jammie Dodgers (British biscuits), a pomegranate, a crucifix, an unused petri dish, and a vanilla scented candle.


Greek icon

5.  Music playlist – For each novel, I build a music playlist. As the book changes and grows, so does the music. I don’t have an office; I write on a laptop in the family room. It can get noisy! I put on earphones and listen to my playlist. The music acts as a door, blotting out the world, but the songs are also intensely personal for the characters and the story.

6.  Cocooning – When I’m working hard, a ringing phone can cut through the music and knock me out of a book. Sometimes I can’t find my way back, and if I do, it can take days and a virtual machete. I’ve also been known to remove batteries from the doorbell. I tend to distance myself from the world. For me, this is necessary. I just want to be with the characters and follow them around. I have to give them 100% of my focus. Sometimes this can be a problem for the people around me. I have an understanding, loving husband who understand the process. My younger son is a biochemist and an author, and he keeps watch during this relentless period when I just fade from the world. I thank God for them. When I emerge from the cocoon, a few family members are always waiting with fangs and claws <grin>.

7.  Digging in the garden – If weather permits, I like to dig in the garden. I sift through the dirt, looking for pretty stones. In my yard, I’ve uncovered brown glass medicine bottles and two funeral wreaths (yellow plastic). It’s no accident that Nigel Clifford turned out to be an archeologist in AWTN.

8.  Cooking  -- I’m a self-taught cook, and I love to bake whatever my characters are eating.  If I can’t bake it, I’ll try to find the item at the grocery. While I worked on this book, I threw out my carb counter and ate baklava, moussaka, potato soup, and homemade crackers. 

9. Revisioning – When I finish the first draft, I print the manuscript and attack it with a blue Flair pen. Then I try to decipher my handwritten notes: corrections, additions, and deletions. This is a miserable stage and requires lots and lots of chocolate. I try to think of this process as revisioning, a reimagining the scenes and characters, as opposed to revision.

10. Celebration – When the book is finished, I celebrate with a   slice of mile-high, chocolate dipped cheesecake.

Doesn't that look delicious? 

Thanks, Bea, for having me on your blog today. I enjoyed it!

1 comment:

  1. Oh i loved this post! So great to hear all about a writers process. :) And the cover art for you book is amazing!!! So glad you stopped by Bea's site to visit. :)


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