On writing

Thoughts on writing

Whaddya mean, we got tagged?
Whaddya mean, I got tagged?

Hey, I got tagged!

A week ago, I got “tagged” by mystery author Bill Cameron. He invited me to participate in a blog hop that’s cycling around the web: each author answers four questions about his/her writing and then invites new authors to participate the next week. (Eek, a chain letter.)


Before answering any questions, I want to thank Bill Cameron for the invite. He’s an award-winning NW author and his Skin Kadash mysteries provide thought-provoking glimpses into the gritty side of Portland, so I was thrilled to read in his blog post (http://www.bill-cameron.com/to-the-write-cave/) that he’s working on a new mystery, set in Oregon’s High Desert. Good things ahead!

And now, here are my answers–and an invitation to two new authors.

What am I working on?

After my first mystery novel, Tip of a Bone, was published last September, life became so busy I thought I’d never have time to write again. But I’ve finally discovered how to create balance—I simply decide which hat to wear each day: the Book Promotion Fedora, the Social Media Party Hat, the “I’m dying to be creative” Floral Sunhat, or the Critique Chapeau for serious editing. I’m happy to report that the Sunhat (new book) and Party Hat (new Pinterest page) are getting plenty of use this month.

I’m working on two mystery/suspense novels simultaneously, one that’s far along and one that’s in its wild-and-woolly early stages. Curiously, both books include scenes along the Columbia River. Not that I’m complaining—it’s been great fun doing the setting research (a.k.a. hiking) and readers also get to enjoy scenic photos on my website.

Gorge Hike View from Rockfall
Setting research: the Columbia River Gorge

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

An interesting question. Too often, authors are asked how we’re similar (“If you like Author X, you’ll love Author Y!”). The best way to describe my work is to say that these elements shape the writing:

  • I enjoy writing about ordinary characters. They may get caught in extraordinary and dangerous circumstances—murder, threats, adventure, and romance—but you won’t find superhuman sleuths in my books (no scuba-diving, octopus-wrestling Navy Seals!)
coastal beach
One of my favorite spots: the Pacific coast

Why do I write what I do?

I write mystery/suspense novels because that’s what I most enjoy reading. However, I did cut my writing teeth on non-fiction, so it’s always a pleasure to have time to write articles and blog posts. (Plus, there’s the satisfaction of finishing something . . .  are books ever finished?)

How does my writing process work?

I truly admire disciplined, productive writers—the people who get up at 5 a.m. and chunk out two thousand words before even taking a coffee break. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.

When I read Bill Cameron’s answer to this question—writing in fits and starts—I thought, “Yes! That’s me!” After fighting this haphazard approach for years, I’m starting to accept it. Some days, writing feels like banging my head against the wall: non-productive and painful. At those times, I’ve learned to let the writing go and allow myself to be distracted by real life, including errands, kids, bills, and family drama. But I make up for it on other days. Once I get going, I can write for 8-10 hours straight.

My most productive sessions are when I’ve escaped to a cabin in the woods or at the beach and focused on writing for multiple days in a row. I’m currently negotiating with my husband on how to make such writing retreats happen frequently. 🙂

New Voices in Fiction

That’s all for me, but to continue the blog hop, I’d like to introduce you to two new authors: D.J. Adamson, who writes mysteries, and Melissa Eskue Ousley, who writes YA fantasy.

D.J. Adamson

I met D.J. at Left Coast Crime in Monterey and we hit it off right away, not surprising as we share an Oregon connection as well as Sisters in Crime membership. D.J.’s first book in her Lillian Dove series, ADMIT, will be released in October 2014. I’m very excited to read it, especially when I saw how Lillian describes her taste in men:

“The type of man I’m most attracted to is like a tall, Tom Collins on a sweltering, summer day: gin, a little lemon–but not too sour—with sweet syrup and bubbly soda. It’s hard to resist, even if I know it’s not good for me.”   Perfect!

(More on the book: When Lillian Dove tries to rescue a person trapped in a house fire, she becomes an eyewitness to arson—and must uncover the truth of an old crime in order to protect her life and her family.)

D. J. Adamson is an adjunct professor at Glendale City College and East Los Angeles College, and she also helps students find their creative heart through her Le Coeur de l’Artiste newsletter. D.J. lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two Welsh Terriers and she’ll be posting her answers to these four questions at her blog soon. Click here to visit or go to http://lecouerdeartiste.com/

Melissa Eskue Ousley


Melissa and I met during a booksellers tradeshow last fall, and we’ve been friends ever since. Her first two books in the Solas Beir YA trilogy, Sign of the Throne and The Rabbit and the Raven, are both great reads. See https://www.facebook.com/MelissaEskueOusley

Melissa Eskue Ousley lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and their Kelpie, Gryphon. When she’s not writing, Melissa can be found hiking, swimming, or walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.

Before she became a writer, she had a number of educational jobs, ranging from a summer spent scraping road kill off a molten desert highway, to years spent conducting research with an amazing team of educators at the University of Arizona. Her interests in psychology, culture, and mythology have influenced her writing of The Solas Beir Trilogy.

I hope you’ll check out D.J.’s and Melissa’s blog posts—as well as their books.

— Christine Finlayson

One Comment

  • Angela Sanders

    I really admire you for being able to write for long stretches. Eight to 10 hours? Amazing! Thanks for introducing us to two interesting new writers, too. They both sound right up my alley.