Becoming a less neurotic writer (is there such a thing?)

Author's Note: I will be starting the 12-week Artist's Way journey beginning January 4. I'll be blogging weekly about my progress. I'd love for some of you to join me.

In early 2015, I set a goal to become a less neurotic writer. Well, it’s been almost a year, and I still have a long way to go. I have a lifetime of bad habits and neuroses to overcome. Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way calls this journey “creative recovery.” Hmm. That has a much more positive ring to it than becoming less neurotic, doesn’t it?

My personal journey involves daily journaling, meditating, yoga and nature walks. I haven’t been doing any of those things as much as I would like, but despite some personal life bumps in the road, I’m making progress (but not enough, which is why I'll be doing The Artist's Way again).

I have the meanest, bitchiest internal editor to ever walk the face of the earth. She is downright cruel. You should hear what she says to me. It’s not even printable. I call her Helga. Ugly name for an ugly being. (If your name is Helga, I apologize--I’m sure you’re a lovely person.)

Some things I’ve been reading in The Artist’s Way have really hit home. Cameron talks about how anger is at the root of much of our creative neuroses. She says that “in the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health.” Awesome. I must be a flippin’ health guru, because I’ve been mad a lot lately. In fact, it seems I’m always ticked off about something or other in regard to my writing career. Recently, a couple of writer friends/acquaintances who just started writing achieved greater success (ie: big sales to major publishers or making oodles of money self-publishing) than I have in all my years of struggling. I went through the mature reactions of “It’s not fair!” and “They haven’t paid their dues!” and listened when Helga told me that I’ll never achieve similar success because I suck as a writer. Yeah, it was a really pleasant time in the Clark household.

Cameron asks us to pinpoint what it is we’re really mad at. She says anger is our friend—it will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. This was an aha! moment for me. I’m not angry at these friends or even the situation. I’m angry at myself—for the opportunities I didn’t explore, the countless hours I’ve wasted not writing, the wrong turns I’ve taken. It’s all about me. Now that I realize it’s me I’m pissed at, now maybe I can redirect that feeling into my work.

Cameron also talks about synchronicity, which is another word for answered prayers. Be careful what you wish for. Knock and the door will open. Ask and you will receive. However you want to say it. Cameron says once we begin our creative recovery, synchronicity will pop up everywhere. It’s happened to me—a few months ago, I was telling a friend and fellow writer that I wished I had some sort of group to keep me motivated to write on days when I don’t feel like it (like today). Well, she just happened to belong to an international group of women writers with a monthly quota of submissions and critiques, and a few days later I had an invitation in my inbox.

Try it for yourself. Put your wish or desire “out there” and see what happens. And keep me posted. And if you’re a writer who is not neurotic, please tell me your secret in the comments.


Thanks for being here today, Christy. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

Thanks for having me! I’m Christy Gissendaner and I hail

from the great state of Alabama. I’m a busy wife, mother, office manager, and romance author - or author(s), as the case may be. I write under two pen names, but I’m here today as Christy. 

Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person? 

Oh my gosh, yes! Very, very shy and introverted. I’ve grown out of my shell a tad bit as an adult, but if I’m ever in a new situation, I revert back to the shy, introverted gal of my youth. 

In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?
Online, I’m not shy AT ALL. In fact, I would almost say the opposite. Where being shy has hindered me has been at conferences and promotional events. I hesitate to put myself out there and do anything that comes across as “look at me”. Book signings are the worst! I stare at the table, unable to make eye contact with anyone. In fact, I still can’t make eye contact, even in my day to day life. 

In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?

Hmm…that’s a hard one. Being shy also hindered me when I began to write sex scenes, which let’s face is a necessity in romances today. So I really don’t fell being shy helped me in any way. 

What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

Finding the time to write. Hands down. 

Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?

My day job requires me to give a financial summary at our monthly Board meetings. Even though it’s a small number of people, I absolutely dread standing up and speaking in front of people. 

What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?

It’s okay to be shy. Not everyone can have the “big” personality! 

Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?

CHRISTMAS SPIRITS (Available now!) Kia May has little time for anything as her lifelong dream of being a fashion designer comes to fruition. For Christmas, she takes time out of her busy schedule to visit her family, where her grandmother reveals a secret of her Baoule heritage. 

In Baoule, located on the Ivory Coast of Africa, the people believe in spirit lovers, which you are separated from at birth. Tedros, Kia’s lover from the spirit world, appears to her and reveals that he is there to assist her in finding a mortal lover.

Elliot Melton, the brother of Kia's new sister in law, is also invited to share the season with the family. With the help of a meddling grandmother and an otherworldly spirit, Elliot and Kia soon find out that Christmas is the best time to fall in love.
Where can my readers find you on the web?

Visit me at

Thanks for having me!!

More about Christy:

Christy Gissendaner is a paranormal and contemporary romance author who believes laughter and love should go hand in hand.

Christy lives in Alabama with her husband and three sons. She’s always hard at work on her next novel, but in her spare time she loves blackjack, karaoke, and anything resembling a vacation!

To find out more, please visit

Thanks so much for coming on today, Christy!

My new baseball romance is finally out!

LEAD-OFF BRIDE is book one in my brand new Take Me Out to the Wedding series. If you like weddings, baseball and happy endings, I think you'll like this book.

iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Kindle

Stepping out of my comfort zone

As an introvert, I like to stay tucked inside my comfort zone. But occasionally, I force myself out of it, in big or small ways. 

The other day I did something I never do: I posted some photos of myself demonstrating exercises for a writing loop I belong to. 

Now, you might think this is no big deal, but if you know me or are friends with me on Facebook, you'll see that I rarely post photos of myself. If I do, they're just parts of my face, rarely my whole face or body. If I find a photo I like, I use it for years. 

I'm a personal trainer in my day job. If you saw me in person, you might think I don't look anything like you might have expected a personal trainer to look like. I'm 50 years old, and I'm far from a size two. I'm very fit, but I'm certainly not "skinny." In fact, like many women my age, I have a few extra pounds I struggle to lose. I post a lot on Facebook and my blogs about fitness, but I've never used photos of myself demonstrating exercises, because I know what people's expectations are, and I'm just not comfortable sharing photos like that.

But the other day, I did. I was trying to explain some exercises and finally thought, "Screw it. I'll just have my hubby take some pictures. That'll make it much easier." So I did. And you know what? The world didn't end. The internet didn't blow up. In fact, nobody even commented. So basically I was worried about nothing. 

Sometimes, we just need to do it. Push aside our discomfort and do it. Whatever "it" is.

What about you? Have you done anything recently to push yourself out of your comfort zone? Let me know in the comments so I can give you a virtual high five. 

Starting From Scratch, Part II

This is an ongoing series on my process of writing a new story from start to finish. 
You'll soon see that my process is a complete mess. But it is what it is. I am working on a novella, Christmas in Stilettos (Book 4 in my Red Stilettos series) that will be part of Passionate Kisses 3: Under the Mistletoe, a boxed set with nine other authors. It will release in October.


I am two weeks into the month, and I'm supposed to have this novella written (the first draft anyway) by August 1. I took the first week to plot and plan as much as a nonplotter and nonplanner can. I tried to figure out who my characters are, what they want, what the main conflict(s) will be. I thought about the setting, what my characters look like, who they are, where they live. 

Finally, four days ago, I started to put down words... and soon learned that everything I plotted and planned means jack shit.

I'm about 4500 words into what I expect will be a 20-25,000 word novella. And it totally sucks so far. I'm so not kidding.

Here's my problem (well, one of many): As hard as I try to figure out who my characters are and where the plot is going beforehand, I can't figure those things out until I actually start writing.This is super frustrating to me, because I know I'd finish projects much faster if I could figure things out in advance. I can actually write a pretty fast first draft, but it's always such a mess, it takes forever to clean up and polish.

I've been fighting my process for years, reading every plotting book out there, attending any plotting/planning workshop I could find. I've learned a lot. If my brain actually worked like a plotter, I'd be set. But it doesn't. Yet I keep hoping. I keep trying to plot and outline before hand, hoping with one of these projects, it'll magically come together for me.

Here's how my process usually goes (despite any attempts to
tweak it): I will crank out a really, really shitty first draft (note: if you haven't read Anne Lamott's book Bird by Bird where she talks about shitty first drafts, you must. In fact, click that link now and go get it. Seriously. I'll wait.). I've realized that whether I write my first draft really slowly and agonize over every word, or whip that puppy out as fast as I can, it will suck in equal measures. So I might as well write that suckage quickly, eh? [Check out these 10 Rules for Writing First Drafts]

So that's what I'm doing right now. I'm just cranking out the words. I call my first draft my discovery draft, because it's really more like a crappily written outline than a tangible first draft. I'm discovering new things about my characters and story every time I sit down to write. In fact, I often talk to myself on the page. I turn the font color red and just start "talking to myself" until I figure out what to write next. If I write total gibberish (like below), I'll just delete it when I'm done with my writing session. But if I actually come up with something useful, I cut and paste that snippet into another file to look at later during revisions.For instance, here's a snippet of Chapter One:

She shrugged and her blush deepened. Really need to figure out where home is, etc. For each of them. Where is "home" for her. Colorado? Nevada? Some small town. He grew up in Seattle. I think. #@% I just flipping can't figure out who these people are! This is so stupid. What the hell comes next. what is she thinking right now? I don't care, which means my readers won't care which means I'd rather eat chocolate than write this shit.

He knew why she hadn’t called them. It would’ve been awkward. Because she thought his family knew about their situation. “Yeah, about that…” He cleared his throat. "They assume you're coming with us.”

Anyway...that's where I am now. I just reached the first turning point of the story where everything changes. The draft is total and utter crap at this point. But I'll keep going and eventually--I hope and pray--I'll start to figure out who the characters are and what their story is. 

Until next time... keep writing!

Starting From Scratch--Part I

Part One
Along with some of my Passionate Kisses boxed set sisters, I will be doing #HoNoMo in the month of July. That means HOliday NOvel in a MOnth. In my case, it's a novella not a full-length novel. In order to meet my deadline and not get backed up on my other projects, I need to write the entire first draft in July. I thought you might find it interesting to follow my progress. I will post an update when I have progress.

Speaking of serial killers...this one sits on my desk.
Not much in this world is both more terrifying and exciting than starting a new story from scratch. (Well…serial killers, spiders and clowns are more terrifying to me, but they’re not the point of this post.)

I have a Christmas novella to write in July for a boxed set (anthology) with nine other writers that comes out in October. All I have for it is the premise I’ve come up with: “A divorcing couple pretends to be happily married when they go home for Christmas.” I also know Francesca is the heroine and the title of her story is Christmas in Stilettos. (She was a minor character in Dancing in Stilettos, my novella that releases in late July if the sun, moon and stars align.)

That’s pretty much all I know. I am not a plotter. I am not a pantser (someone who writes by the “seat of her pants” without a plan). My process is somewhere in between and it ain’t pretty. Every time I sit down to write a new book, I think it’ll be easier, especially if I’m “just” writing a novella or short story. But it’s not. Every book is harder than the last one to write. Every new book convinces me that I’ve forgotten how to write and will never, ever, EVER figure it out again.
My messy process.
If I was a big drinker, I’d be swigging tequila about now. But I’m not. I am a chocolater—and chocolate does nothing for my creativity and only makes my bum bigger. But it does make me happy.  I’m eating a Linder ball as I type this.

Back to the point of this post… Starting a project from scratch. The first thing I do when starting a new story is jot down everything I know, everything that’s been flitting around my head. In this case, it’s not much. I know the heroine’s husband has been deployed in Afghanistan and they decided before he left to split up. I know they have twin toddlers. I don’t know where they’re going “home” for Christmas or why they have to pretend to be happily married.

In my files, I have a bunch of forms I’ve saved over the years from various plotting and character classes I’ve taken. I also have a bazillion books on plotting and characterization (because reading about writing is WAY easier and much more fun than actually writing the damn book). At this point in the process, I use Story Safari and Discovering Story Magic to start figuring out who my characters are. I can’t start writing until I know their basic GMC (goal, motivation, conflict). The problem for me is that I can’t figure out the characters until I’ve written some of the story. See my dilemma? My process is a mess!
The basket I carry my process in...

But it’s my process and I’ll cry if I want to.

The goal is to get to the point where I feel I must begin to write. Once I “see” that opening scene in my head, I’ll start. I’m not there yet, but I hope to be soon, because my calendar says: July—write draft of Christmas in Stilettos.

Anyway… that’s where I am right now. I spend a lot of time staring into space, thinking about my characters.  A lot of time walking my dog, ignoring my neighbors and thinking about my story.  One of these days—I hope!!!—I’ll be ready to start the actual writing because the clock is ticking.

What’s your process? I will love you forever if it’s messier than mine, because it will make me feel slightly superior.

My apologies and news

Boy, I've been lame-OH! in keeping up on this blog these past few months. I go in spurts where I'm really, really good and devoted to keeping it updated, then spurts where all you hear is crickets when you come on here. Where did everybody go???

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I'll be starting a series of posts called Starting from Scratch, where I'll take you through my totally effed up process of beginning a book/story from scratch until it's ready to go to my editor. For this project, I'll be working on Christmas in Stilettos, which will be part of the Passionate Kisses 3  boxed set (PK 2 hit the USA Today best-seller list, if you remember). I have on my calendar that I'll be writing the first draft in July. Some of my PK sisters and I will be doing #HoNoMo (Holiday Novel in a Month) with Camp NaNoWriMo, to spur each other on, so I'll keep you posted on how that's going, too.

Here's some other news--my new boxed set Summer on Main Street just released with five other authors. It has six sizzling small-town romances. I've include the links if you don't yet have your copy. It's just 99 cents!

Fabulous Firsts with... KATE HILL

First Five Sentences of... 

Blair remembered the day he first met Grace. He was working as a stable hand in the home of a wealthy lord. She was the blacksmith’s daughter and had come to the stable to fetch her father because her younger brother had taken ill. Blair had fallen in love with her at first sight, but being a young man and wanting to see the world, he had recently joined the army. They had little time together before he left and was soon sent to war.

Available now!

* * * * *


What was the first romance you ever read?
I was in grammar school and it was an old Harlequin called My Tender Fury. If I remember correctly, the hero was a teacher. Even way back then I thought the romance was a little too sweet, but I enjoyed it. :-)

Tell me about your very first kiss?
I'm afraid this first wasn't so fabulous. :-) My first kiss was so disgusting it almost turned me off ever kissing again. Not the right person, not the right moment. Nothing about it was right, except that it showed me what I didn't want in the future.

What’s the first thing you do when you start writing a new story?
The first thing I do is start getting to know the characters. I spend a lot of time thinking about them, taking notes and imagining how they would react to different situations.

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels.

When she's not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family and pets. Kate also writes under the pen name Saloni Quinby. She enjoys hearing from readers and she can be contacted at

Find Kate online here

New boxed set available to pre-order!

The same authors from the best-selling Passionate Kisses, 
are proud to present
 Passionate Kisses 2: Love in Bloom. 
Available now to pre-order, 
releases February 17! 
Get your copy now!