Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How I Built My Latest Story

By Debby Giusti
I love kids and kids’ toys, especially building blocks.  Recently I watched a group of young children stack the wooden squares and rectangles and cylinders, one atop the other, and realized playing with blocks is similar to constructing a story.
THE COLONEL’S DAUGTHER, the third book in my Military Investigations series comes out in August, and having just completed the fourth story in the series, THE GENERAL’S SECRETARY, I was ready to come up with a new tale to tell.     

I always think creating a proposal will be easy, but the opposite is usually the case. I start with an idea that forms the foundation for the book and build upon that initial concept by adding various “blocks,” such as an inciting incident, black moment and climax that fit together to move the story forward.
One of my reasons for writing the Military Investigations series is to showcase various aspects of military life, and the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) is a success story I wanted to feature in this next book.  The program started after 9/ll to help soldiers seriously injured in the line of duty.  Each wounded warrior is assigned an AW2 advocate as a liaison, of sorts, between the soldier and the military.  The advocate helps with paperwork and medical care, career counseling and the soldier’s transition to civilian life.

Like many writers, when I begin a new story I start with the standard what if.  What if my heroine accepts a position as an advocate in the Army Wounded Warrior Program at Fort Rickman, GA, the fictional army post I created for the series?

More what ifs. What if my heroine, Stephanie Upton, is from the nearby small town of Freemont?  Her younger brother Will enlisted in the army after graduating from high school along with two of his high school buddies.  Will and a friend were injured in an IED explosion in Afghanistan and were reassigned to the Warrior Transitional Unit at Fort Rickman.

When a killer comes after the high school buddies, the hero—Criminal Investigation Division special agent Brody Goodman—is called in to investigate. (The book is a romance so Brody and Stephanie eventually fall in love and live happily ever after.)

With the basic foundation in place, I focused on coming up with an incident in the past that played into the heroine’s internal conflict.  Had there been a car crash that resulted in the death of one of her brother’s friends?  Was Stephanie at fault? Was her brother driving? Did the boys enlist in the army as a result of what happened on that summer night?  
What if the incident caused friction between Stephanie and her brother?  Perhaps Will transferred his own guilt to his sister who, he believed, was the catalyst that started the string of events that eventually leads to the story’s climax.
The villain needs to be a worthy adversary with his own GMC.  I wanted his motivation to stem from what happened in the back story. The car crash didn’t work so I added and discarded “blocks” until I came up with a new solution.

Needing a high-action opening scene to hook the reader, I decided the villain would attack one of Will’s buddies. The CID hero investigates the crime and becomes suspicious of the brother, which increases the conflict between the hero and the heroine. Stephanie wants to protect Will so, as much as she’s drawn to the CID agent, she is also worried about her brother.
After writing eleven Love Inspired Suspense stories, I’m always searching for new ways to place the heroine in danger. The nightly news and Metro section of the Atlanta newspaper are great resources that provided new and devious tricks for the villain to use to up the suspense.
I needed the back story to be resolved in the climax and revolve around the hero and heroine’s internal conflict as well as their external goals.  Each time I checked, my GMC seemed a bit off center, which, in my opinion, caused the plot to fall flat. I took long walks to clear my mind and discussed a number of different options with my daughters and husband until they rolled their eyes and backed away whenever I mentioned my story. Night after night, I would awake to weigh various scenarios until I finally came up with a satisfying back story. 
Previously focused on the heroine, I changed directions and looked at my hero’s internal journey.  Brody wasn’t as difficult as Stephanie, and I soon had a situation in his past that worked. Then wanting to up the tension, I tweaked his back story to make it more intense and personal.
The black moment occurs close to the climax when the problems between the hero and heroine seem insurmountable, and the reader wonders how they will ever be able to resolve their differences and end up together. Working on the black moment exposed how the conflict between the hero and heroine  needed to be more compelling.  I made some changes until what started out as mild disagreements morphed into significant differences that made me wonder how they could ever fall in love.
Once the story was in better shape, I added the faith journey for my two main characters and established how their relationship with God played into each character’s internal conflict, the black moment and the climax. 
I established turning points for the romance and ensured the black moment was adequately motivated. I included the hero and heroine’s worst fears, reviewed the pacing and plot progression and ratcheted up the danger.

I rechecked characters’ ages, the dates and years that had passed since the back story incidents.  In order to learn more about the AW2 program, I interviewed the Atlanta AW2 advocate and arranged to talk to her counterpart at Fort Benning as well as the Fort Benning executive officer for the Warrior Transition Unit.

At long last, my story construction seemed sound with all the building “blocks” in place.  

How do you structure your story? What are the important elements you consider when coming up with a new idea for a novel?  Share your process and leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for one of my books, winner’s choice.

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti
Love Inspired Suspense ~ August 2012

A ruthless killer is targeting the families of soldiers in a U.S. Army
colonel’s brigade. Special agent Jamison Steele, of the Criminal
Investigation Division, vows to stop him—because this time,
Jamison’s heart is involved. The colonel’s daughter, the woman who loved and left Jamison without a word, came face-to-face with the murderer. Protecting Michele Logan means constant surveillance. And solving the mystery of the serial killer’s motive requires asking Michele the questions she least wants to answer. Questions that may lead them both into a deadly trap.

Still available: The Officer's Secret, book 1, 
and The Captain's Mission, book 2.


  1. Debby! Love the pics of you my friend! Everything is so white!

    Will have to reread this more carefully when I'm a bit more coherent cuz it's good stuff :D.

  2. Debby, I'm out of the drawing as I have all of your books.

    However, I tend to think from backstory forward and have had to learn that I need to find the place in my story where I shift from backstory to the story itself.

  3. Hi Debby:

    I always start with an ending that will make the reader stand up and cheer and want to run right out and buy all my books. (I hope to have books to buy.)

    I will actually write the last chapter. Then, like the idea the mice had of belling the cat, I try to figure out how on earth I am going to make that great ending work. How do I get there?

    Having an ending like that is a great motivator. It’s like seeing your goal high on a mountain and knowing it is worth the long hard climb.

    Not long ago you mentioned that you had a satori in which you solved your conflict problem. When can you tell us which book that was in and what it involved?

    BTW: to all the inspy writers. I’d love to read some LI stories in which the initial threat is the spiritual one. For example, an Army Chaplin who has stopped believing because of the horrors he observed on the battle field but who still feels he must perform his Chaplin duties anyway. I’d love to see this Chaplin offer Christian platitudes to comfort hurting widows that he does not believe himself. He hates himself for being a fraud but when he sees the good his efforts have in the lives of others he arrives at a new understanding of belief. It does not matter if he believes it or not: God’s word still works even when delivered by an imperfect instrument.

    I’d like to see the spiritual element be so central that without it there would be no story.

    I think it would be interesting to see your building blocks in three colors: spiritual, romantic, and suspence – with a different color for each thread. I’d like to see their proportions relative to each other and I’d like to be able to spot when and how they were added.

    And now I’m going to go to bed and dream about all this and see if it looks the same after a good night’s sleep.


  4. Vince, Haven Kimmel's book 'The Solace of Leaving Early' has a minister as the hero who is just like you described. You should read it. Incredible writing, beautiful love story, tragic circumstances, happy ending.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Poo on typos!!!

    What I was trying to say...

    Debby, this was really interesting.

    I love seeing how authors come up with the plot that can hold good characters.

    And I never thought of adding in the spiritual element later. I should look at that as a seperate line and see if it's as strong as it should be in my own.

  7. Hi Debby love the blocks and love the post.
    I love the program to help the veterans something that should happen and is long over due.
    I have to say I like military stories (Love NCIS, Jag etc)

    Oh looks like if I make it to America next year I will be in Atlanta on Friday the 10 May flying to Washington DC on the 11th. Will probably fly in via Dallas on the 3rd and spend 2 nights there to recover from the flight!

  8. Debby, loved this post. I saw all the white too! :) You obviously don't have little kiddos running around your home on a 24/7 basis. :)

    Thanks for sharing all your building blocks for creating your stories. I loved the ideas of looking in the local news for ways to up the tension and deviousness of your antagonist. Also, the thought of adding in the spiritual thread later. I've been struggling with this, so this thought helped. :)

    For me, I build the beginning and the end first and then fill in the middle of my stories. I focus on getting to know my characters so that I can better write how they'll respond to the situations they find themselves in.

    Coming back later to read this again. Such a great post!

  9. Hi Carol,
    Light coming in the windows made the pics a bit too bright. Thus, you saw white!

    Get some sleep. :)

  10. Good point, Walt. I need the back story to shape the book, which starts where/when the main character's life changes. She leaves her ordinary world, as Joseph Campbell wrote, and begins the adventure. Thus, the inciting incident propels the protagonist into the action.

  11. Debby--To the gal who changed my writing life with the 'why' question. I won't forget you and I talking about Levi in SS--trying to hone in on his conflict--you kept asking me why? I would answer and you would say why? I ALWAYS think about that now when I start a new story. I'm huge on the 'what if' question as well.
    Thanks for the great post. Love the photos. Can't wait to read the new book.

  12. Hi Vince,
    Great idea to color code the blocks and show the three story threads in different colors. Sorry! All I could do was build a tower or two. :)

    I recall someone mentioning his/her satori, but I'm not the one.

    Often I start with the ending in mind, and for this story, I had an idea of how it would unfold. But this time, that incident in the past was the key that I couldn't get right. I juggled a lot of different scenarios. Each fell short at some point until FINALLY I actually SAW what happened on that fateful night.

  13. Thanks, Virginia, for suggesting Kimmel's book.

    Vince, sounds like the disheartened chaplain is a story you should write.

  14. Virginia, the spiritual story arc has to flow from the characters' journey. I always know they'll grow in their faith during their adventure, but often I'm not sure which one will have the largest change of heart. This time, both hero and heroine will have turned away from the Lord to some degree. As the story progresses, they'll come to learn how much they need Him and eventually will open their hearts to Him in their time of greatest need.

    At least that's how I "see" it now. Things could change as I write.

  15. Hi Debby,

    I'll be printing this out!

  16. Ausjenny, glad you like military stories. So do I!

    I marked May 10th on my calendar. Keep us posted on your travel plans. Do you know where you'll be in ATL?

  17. Hi Jeanne T,
    Glad to hear something struck a chord. I wasn't sure the blog would even make sense, and of course, I couldn't give away too much information about the story at this early stage. Glad you could find a tip or two that resonated with you.

    How to keep putting my heroine in danger is a constant challenge. I'm always on the watch for new and/or strange ways to attack someone. Twisted brain, no doubt.

    Also I need fresh ideas on how to murder a character. Not easy to find. I did a Google search on "How to Kill Someone," and my Trend Micro went wild warning me not to open the various sites.

    I'm sure the FBI have my name and are tracking my emails at this point. :)

  18. Hi Lindi,
    Can't wait to read your new series! YAY, you!!!

    I remember that day. Sorry I was such a pest with the WHYs! But IMHO, that internal conflict, that reason for how the character views and/or lives her life is so important.

    Which was my problem with this story. I couldn't get that moment in the past that changed the lives of all the folks involved.

    I developed the story, at one point, and realized the villain would come after Will's high school buddies, but not the heroine, which has to happen in LIS!!! That's when I toppled the blocks and started over.

  19. BTW, Lindi, love your new pics!!!

  20. Waving to Rose!!!

    Hope you could glean something of value in my eclectic building block process.

  21. Good morning, Debby! So fun to see you "playing" with blocks. I love the top you're wearing btw. And seeing your process as you build your story.

    I admire your ability to write suspense, much harder, at least it would be for me. Can't wait to read The Colonel's Daughter!!


  22. Hi Janet,
    Just like the grass is always greener, we often think other genres would be harder to write. :) I can't imagine all you have to know to write historicals!!!

    Bottom line, writing a story, no matter the genre, is always a challenge.

  23. Panera's set up a breakfast bar, and the coffee's hot. I have to run to church. Will be back in about an hour!

    Keep chatting. I'll catch up when I get home.

  24. DEB!! What a clever post, girl, but then I always have advocated that you have to be a little bit smarter to write suspense in order to fool everybody!!

    LOVE the premise for this new series, Deb, and can't wait to read the finished product!!


  25. Vince!!! You said: "For example, an Army Chaplin who has stopped believing because of the horrors he observed on the battle field but who still feels he must perform his Chaplin [I think you meant "chaplain"--:>D] duties anyway."

    Um, hang on until October 2013, when the first book of my post-WWI historical romance series for Abingdon Press is released.

  26. Debby, I LOVED the pix of you and your building blocks! And what a clever way to illustrate your topic today!

    Of course . . . this sounds strangely like . . .


  27. Hi, Debby! This was very interesting. I could see some of myself in your process, but I'm thinking I need to be this deliberate. I'm not very methodical. But I like the way you made sure all your t's were crossed and i's dotted. Great job!

  28. Great story building lesson, Debby! It sounds so logical it almost hurts my brain. :o)

    The story sounds wonderful!!


  29. I'm back! Sorry to have been away so long.

    Julie, you've got me laughing. Smart? Ha! You're so funny!

    You're the queen of dialogue, action beats and scene progression! I read your books to stimulate my creativity.

    Have to admit, I covet your mind! :)


  30. Grammar Queen visits Seekerville today!

    Waving to Myra who provided a tempting tease about her new series!!! Can't wait for the first book to come out.

    October? Will we get a sneak peek at ACFW?

  31. Plotting, Myra? Yes!

    BTW, I have a love-hate relationship with plotting.

    But plotting keeps sagging middles at bay, and that's good.

  32. Hi Melanie,

    Funny how we all have our own way to pull a story together. I must be a slow learner because it took me longer than I had expected to find a process that worked. And it's still not easy.

  33. Kirsten,
    Logical, really? That sounds good to me. I'll take it.

    Actually I feel like I'm swimming upstream and getting nowhere when the pieces don't fit. :)


    I am in awe.

  35. Love this peek into your writing methods, Debby.

    And the book sounds amazing!

  36. I'm looking at my sagging middle right now and I'm not sure plotting is the answer. Maybe situps, crunches, a low-fat diet . . .

    Oops, that's not the "sagging middle" you were referring to, is it?


    Since most Seekervillagers are writing straight romance or historical stories, I should have added how my process applies to those genres.

    The inciting incident is when the hero and heroine meet at the beginning of the story.

    When I place my heroine in danger, you're working on adding obstacles to the hero and heroine's relationship, which should stem from their external conflict--the main goal they're trying to achieve--as well as their internal conflict, which is what holds them back from fully embracing life and from opening their hearts.

    Having obstacles in mind as you write keeps the story moving forward and ensures your middle is strong and action packed.

    The black moment is the same for suspense and romance.

    The climax in a suspense involves a life-threatening situation, whereas in a romance, the climax weaves the internal and external conflict and even greatest fear or that which the character would never do into a tension-filled scene. The hero's life may not be in danger, but the chance of achieving his goal and winning the love of his life is on the line.

    Of course, all genres have a happily ever after that readers love!

  38. HI Mary!

    And you do it as you write. I am in awe!!!

  39. Hi and Mary stopped in back to back. Have you girls been together today? Or is that great minds think alike?

  40. LOL, Myra!

    If only THAT sagging middle could be so easily fixed! :)

  41. Thanks, Debby for these tips. Even though I am not writing suspense, it is helpful to see how things are laid out for you.

    Peace, Julie

  42. Good morning, Debby!

    I'm such a visual person, the building blocks work for me :)

    One thing I realized as I've been working through my revisions is that trying to put all the elements into the story at the same time doesn't work well - my faith element sounded phony, and the external conflict sounded more like a suspense than a sweet Amish historical!

    So, as I've been revising, I've worked on one element at a time (the building blocks), and am currently doing a read-through to make sure they're all balanced and hanging together.

    When I write my NEXT book, I won't be putting the cart before the horse, you can count on that!

    And Jenny's coming to the US next year? Be sure to let us know your itinerary!

  43. Great analogy with the building blocks Debby.

    Jodie Wolfe

  44. Hi Julie!

    Love your new pic. Aren't you reading Tina's book? How fun is that!!!

    Always great seeing you at the Craftie Ladies of Romance blogspot too.

    I'm tickled pink that you'll be at M&M. We need more Seekervillagers to join us.

    Hint, hint, everyone! Consider attending the Moonlight and Magnolias Writing Conference, in ATL the first weekend in OCT.

  45. Hi Jan!

    My first draft is usually emotion-lite! I have to go back and add more once I've got the basic story in place. Often the faith journey needs to be tweaked, as well.

    Actually, adding those "extra blocks" is the fun part of the rewriting process, IMHO.

  46. Blessings back to you, Jodie!

    Glad you liked the blocks! :)

  47. I like the building blocks, too, Debby. It made me think about the mission projects where we put up church buildings. Just like we have to have the studs and trusses up before we can put in wires and plumbing, and insulation before drywall, etc, etc, I'm finding I have to write the bones of the story before I really "get" my character's motivation. The "Why". When I have the foundation and framework laid out, then I start having the "ah ha" moments of "this is why..."

    Maybe someday I can streamline the process better, be a little quicker. More like our volunteer building projects where we could get a building from the bare subfloor to laying shingles in one day. (Now that's something to see! =)
    Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

  48. Clari, you'll become faster with your process. Everything good takes time, IMHO.

    Proud of you for building mission houses. Go you! Go God!

    BTW, I see a future blog you need to write comparing building a house to building a story. Perfect!


  49. This is a "WOW" post, Debby---love it! (not to mention the fact I love how you used the building blocks to help us see your process). You certainly work hard and are very thorough in your stories--and it shows in your wonderful writing. ~ No need to enter me in the drawing, as I have your books too (in fact, I might have to add another bookshelf*smile*). ~ Hope to see you soon! Hugs, Patti Jo p.s. Brought some Georgia Peach cobbler today--warm with whipped cream on top--Enjoy! ;)

  50. What a great illustration of what can be a complicated subject. Your building block concept really cleared it up for me, and will help me make my books stronger. Thanks, Debby!

  51. Debby,

    I can't wait to read this story. I often find that I don't really know a lot of those blocks until my characters start living the story out as I write, and then I can tighten things up and build that tower. It's interesting how we all work this out!


  52. Patti Jo,
    Thanks for the cobbler and your kind words!!! You're such a dear friend. :)

    Hope to see you soon!

  53. Mia, glad the block analogy helped.

    BTW, building with blocks helps creativity flow. I may "play" before I write from now on to prime the well. :)

  54. This was such a helpful post, Debby, and I so love your books. Just reading the post sparked an idea for how to solve a plotting problem I was having with my second manucript.
    Your "clarification" answer really cleared up a semi-final judge's comments on my Genesis entry. The judge suggested I actually had a romantic suspense story and based on your comments, now I know why. Both my hero and heroine are put into a life-threatening situation during the climax. Thanks for clearing that up.

  55. Good point, Beth. Yes, the story changes as we write, often because the characters take over. I love when that happens. :)

  56. Hi Ava, glad to help! Evidently the clarification comment was meant for you! :)

    Did you know that Love Inspired Suspense is looking for stories and new authors to add to their lineup?

    Something to consider...

  57. Oh, Walt I hear you loud and clear! I have to do that each time. I know I've confessed that before, but I rewrite that opening several times because the first torturous beginnings are me being in love with my own voice.


    And Vince likes working backwards. I can't do that. Or write sections and pin them together. I can sew that way, I can't write that way.

    Isn't it amazing how differently minds 'see' things and build??? God is amazing in his patchworking ability!

    Love this point-by-point example of layering and building from concept to design to final product. And I will say AGAIN... this is your best series. Best... best... best... That doesn't mean the others weren't good, this just seems to flow seamlessly from your hand to the author's heart.

    Ordering The Colonel's Daughter today!

    Hey, it's hot here. I need ice cream. Anyone else in????

  58. Debby, loved this post! I agree with another GA lady (Patti Jo)..that your hard work definitely shows in your writing!
    Can't wait to read your newest (and need to check backlists).lol posting anonymous.
    Jackie S.

  59. Hi, Debby.

    This is another keeper. Thanks.

    I got my ACFW Journal today. Just finished Mary and Ruthie's articles. Great job, ladies.

    I know, I know. I've been buried in a project and a slacker on coffee duties lately. Hopefully this nagging headache will clear up, and I'll get back into routine.


    P.S. I even found my own little tidbit on page 8 of the Journal.

  60. Debby, was this show & tell day for writers? I loved how you demonstrated how you build your stories! It was well laid out before us.
    Ha,I still have my kids wooden blocks somewhere in storage! Must take notes!

    "The Captain's Mission" is in my tbr stack :)

    Ruthy? Oh, Ruthy?? Did you mention ice cream? I'm always ready for that :)

    Have a great rest of the day, everyone!

  61. FYI...

    Just attended an online webinar held for LI authors to learn about Pinterest! Love how the digital folks keep us up to date on social communities.

    Wave if you're on Pinterest.

  62. Thanks for bringing ice cream, Ruthy.

    Butter pecan for me, please.

    Thanks, too, for your sweet comments about this series.

    We're all different, and we all approach a story from different routes.

    I spend what seems like too much time on the synopsis and beginning three chapters. Hubby tells me it's due to my attempt for perfection. Of course, I always fall short and keep reworking until I cry "Uncle" and send it off to NYC.

  63. Hi Jackie S!

    Sorry blogger is causing problems today. Glad you finally were able to comment because your sweet words warmed my heart! :)


  64. Hi Helen,
    I'm not-so-patiently waiting for my ACFW Journal. We're all so proud of Mary and Ruthy, our Seekerville stars!

    I'll check out page 8 as soon as my copy arrives, Helen.

    Sorry about your headaches. Sinus, perhaps?

    Sending love and prayers for healing.

  65. Hi Miriam!!!

    Glad you could relate to my building block writing process. I flip-flop from one facet of the story to another if I'm having problems. Of course, that key incident in the past had to be resolved before the climax and character motivation could be resolved. At times, I was pulling out my hair, trying to get everything to fit neatly into place.

  66. I finally signed up on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago (finagled an invitation from my daughter). Still feeling my way around. Open for tips if you have any to share. I bet that was an informative online class!

  67. Debby, excellent article! I love this series and hope you continue it for as many books as possible.

    Hugs to all!

  68. Love this, Debby! And really love all the block pictures. I hadn't thought about blocks, although I've often thought of writing as sculpting. My what if & main characters are the big block and I keep chipping away to reveal the story.
    Can't wait to read your next story! Sounds intriguing as usual!

  69. Myra, you're way ahead of me. I need an invitation. Will you ask me to join? LOL!

  70. Hi Cheryl, thanks for the shout out! Good to see you back in Seekerville!

  71. Larissa, I just started your debut: PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY! Love it! Thanks so much for including me in the dedication. :)

    Hugs and love heading your way!!!

  72. Larissa, love your idea of sculpting away the excess to get down to the story. Perfect.

    Michelangelo claimed to see the statues he sculpted in the huge chunks of marble pulled from the quarry. Can you imagine seeing David in a hunk of rock? Of course, Michelangelo was brilliant, but you are too! :)

  73. Wow, thanks for sharing your process, Debby! I hope I get to the place where I can plot out all these elements before writing. I used to think I was a plotter, but now I'm more of a pantser. Not sure it's always a good thing! LOL.

    Loved your logical attack!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  74. Oh good. This is about building blocks, not writer's block. Oh good :-)

    I am in awe of all that goes into your preparation, Debby. Not surprised (having read the results) but in awe.

    I enjoy learning about the different approaches writers have. Sort of like the differences in cooks -- some measure everything precisely, others sort-of kind-of measure, some follow recipes, some work from memory, some methodically use a different measuring cup for each ingredient, others figure it's all going to wind up mixed together anyhow.

    Isn't diversity fantastic? :-)

    Nancy C

  75. Cobbler???

    I'm totally in on that.

    Oh, yum.

  76. Hi Debby et al:

    I agree with Cheryl. Your current military series is too good to end too soon. I’m invested in the series now. I’d hate to have to break in a new one. Look how long NCIS has run. (I'm still waiting for "The AWOL Bride" and "His Stealth Child".)

    Virginia: thanks for the heads-up on Haven Kimmel's book 'The Solace of Leaving Early' . I just ordered it. It really sounds like something I will enjoy.

    Myra: I can’t wait! You're the ideal author to write that story. "Autumn Rains" was also a very difficult topic to handle and that was great. But October 2013…that’s longer than it takes to have a baby! (That's cruel and unusual punishment…almost…vicariously speaking.)

    Mary: I woke my wife up reading your Journal article late at night. It’s wonderful but you have a dozy of a line in there:

    “Let’s get ready to pitch into the strike zone. When some kind, wise editor is standing there, you can knock it out of the ballpark.”

    If I’m pitching I don’t want anyone hitting it out of the ballpark. (Of course I know what you meant. I was going to pitch the ball and then I was going to run down to the batter’s box and hit that perfect pitch right out of the park.) You might want to run baseball analogies by Ruth. (She might be an opossum by her baseball knowledge is awesome.)

    Ruth You wrote: “And Vince likes working backwards.” Backwards and forwards depend on your POV. How many TV shows have you seen where the show starts with the end and the line “3 Days Ago”? Do this and your omega becomes your alpha.


  77. Hi Sue,
    Interesting switch from plotter to pantser. Any idea why the change?

    I've become more and more focused on getting the various "blocks" in place before I start writing. Actually, I can't start until I understand the story and how it will play out. Sometimes I wish I were more of a pantser!:)

    The grass is always greener, right?

  78. Diversity is great, Nancy.

    But I don't like to follow recipes or measure ingredients precisely. Funny, huh?

    That's why I don't enjoy baking. I always want to throw things into a pot and create something new. That doesn't work well when baking a cake. Besides, I always want to add red pepper and garlic. :)

    Sending cyber hugs and thanks for your comment about my writing! :)

  79. Patti Jo's cobbler is the best, Ruthy. Add some ice cream too!

  80. Hi Debby:

    You wrote:

    ”Michelangelo claimed to see the statues he sculpted in the huge chunks of marble pulled from the quarry. Can you imagine seeing David in a hunk of rock?”

    I’m not sure that Michelangelo actually saw the statue in the marble. He said the statue was hidden inside the marble and that it was his job to chip away the rock so you could see the statue. If you’ve been to the Uffizi in Florence, you have probably seen proof that old Michelangelo was a pantser. There are four of his statues there that he couldn’t finish. Just like Tony Hillerman had a dresser full of half written pantsered novels he couldn’t figure out how to end. : )


  81. Debby not sure where I will be I need to look into accommodation as I will need one night there. My friend will bring me from Rossville (ga) and will be will me most of the Friday (shes excited to meet authors too). I am planing to fly out around 1.30pm the Saturday.

  82. LOL, Vince, at The AWOL Bride! Too cute!!!

    I hope the series has a long life, too! :)

    Myra's series will be worth waiting for, and Mary hit her article out of the park no matter who was at bat! :)

    Ruthy is not an/a opossum, Vince. End of discussion! :)

    Okay, Grammar Queen, is it an opossum because of the beginning vowel or a opossum because of the silent vowel? We need clarification!

  83. I didn't get to the Uffizi, Vince, when I was in Florence. Maybe the next trip. I wonder if the characters spoke to Michelangelo?

    I kept begging mine to tell me about that summer incident that happened three years before the story begins. :)

  84. Interesting about Tony Hillerman. I loved his stories. Starting reading him when we lived in the Mojave.

  85. We'll find some place to meet, Ausjenny! And, yes, I want to meet your friend, too!

  86. Enjoyed the post and the photos! And I'm really looking forward to this book.

  87. Thanks, Deb! Always good to see you in Seekerville!

  88. Debby, I love your thought process! I never imagined you had such chinks in your plot because the finished product is flawless!!!

    Great analogy using the building blocks. I run into brick walls so often I'm afraid my blocks would get wiped off the table more times they're stacked, LOL.

    Thanks for sharing, Deb.

  89. I can so relate to brick walls, Audra! :)


  90. Oh Debby, Patty Smith Hall wants to take me to varsity to have a naked dog.

  91. LOL! The Varsity is a landmark in ATL.

  92. Debby, you are so methodical. Who knew? No wonder your books are so excellent!

  93. Aus Jenny - I must have missed the naked dog explanation. How is your trip planning coming along?

  94. I loved this thank you. I enjoyed the comparison & the photos.


  95. DEB SAID: "Have to admit, I covet your mind! :)"

    OH, are YOU in trouble, girl!! Although insanity does make for interesting stories ... :)


  96. All that Pre-writing work scares me. I guess I am just a confirmed sotp writer. :)

    But it works for you Debby - I love your books.


  97. Debby, thanks for the chance to win...i am a readaholic, not a writer, but you are right on the button as to what we readers look for!

  98. Thanks, Ginger and Marianne, for stopping by the blog and leaving such nice comments!