Writing Process Blog Tour: My Turn!

I may be a bit late to the party, but I've been tagged inthe Writing Process Blog Tour! The inestimable Cindy Rodriguez posted her responses last week, and threw it my way. Thanks, Cindy! First, here's some info on her:
Cindy L. Rodriguez is the the author of When Reason Breaks, a young adult novel that will be published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA  on Febuary 10, 2015. Yes, she's not only a fellow Fifteener, but her book comes out only a couple weeks after mine!! I know Cindy as an admin for the Fearless Fifteener group, and an all-around impressive person. She teaches middle-school reading and college-level composition too, AND is a mom!
When Reason Breaks is available for preorder now!

To the questions:

What am I working on?
This week I’m working on my first-ever set of copyedits, for my YA thriller TUNNEL VISION, which is coming out January 20th from St. Martin's Press! As a copyeditor myself, this is actually fun.

I'm also working on several other projects: revisons on a middle grade book called NUTCRACKED I'm SO excited about. It's magical realism, about a 12-year-old dancer named Georgie who gets chosen to be Clara in the Nutcracker, the role of her dreams, but also discovers the secret, dark world of the Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King that exists just beneath the world she knows. She also has to deal with the splintering of one relationship when her best friend doesn't get the part too, and the start of an interesting new friendship with a boy named Noah.

I'm tinkering with a sequel to TUNNEL VISION, and plotting out the beginnings of a new YA thriller I can barely keep to myself.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My books always have a strong, driving plot—TUNNEL VISION is a thriller about a teen psychic spy, after all—but there's also always a very strong element of family. Several readers have confessed that Jake's little sister Myka is one of their favorite characters, and his grandfather (Dedushka) plays a huge part as well. Georgie has a huge, tumbled family with a full life, and her parents and siblings are a critical piece of who she is too. The new YA book is about sisters. I guess to me the background, making sure the character is a whole, real person, and their family and friends are too, is just as important as making sure you want to turn those pages.

Why do I write what I do?
Because I can't help it? TUNNEL VISION is the story I told to myself before I ever decided to write it down and try to get it to readers. It's the book I wanted to read. NUTCRACKED was inspired because I was lucky enough to dance the part of Clara when I was 13 (though I didn't have a magical Nutcracker, sadly enough). The new book started from an image I couldn't get out of my head, and has been hounding me ever since.

How does my writing process work?
When I’m rough-drafting, I generally start at the beginning and work my way through to the end, with a few occasional circles through the text. I hardly ever know where it's going to go when I start—I work from a character in a situation, and see what happens. This results in VERY messy first drafts, which have to be revised many times before anyone sees them. During revisions I do pull out the colored charts and outlines when necessary to keep myself straight and make sure I'm following a thread evenly all the way through. I also always write very sparely at first, and add descriptions and more original language later on.

Basically, you don't want to see my first drafts. J

I am very methodical, too, in that I now write nearly every day, at 5:30 in the morning on weekdays and 6:30 on weekends. I don't write much in a day—my goal is usually somewhere between 600 and 800 words—but at that speed I can write a draft in a few months, and revise pretty quickly. In the tortoise and the hare race I'm definitely the tortoise, but I get it done. I live for those moments when I get so involved in a book that I think about it all day long, and when I'm going to sleep, and I can't wait to get back to it in the morning!

Next up is  Jessica Spengler. She is currently in the process of writing her first full-length novel, a fantasy adventure called The World Where Geese Reign.  Since 2010 she's run the website http://drink-matron.com, a blog dedicated to cocktail recipes, the history of alcohol, and other drinking facts.