Monthly Workshop – Improving Your Plotting

j Dane-pixJordan Dane will do two hour workshop: Plotting from a Recovering Pantser: One Author’s Epiphany on Structure.

Topics: a simple plotting method to flesh out a cohesive structure, write an effective proposal / synopsis in the voice of the novel, and create a storyboard of the main scenes—before you even write one word of the story.

Avon/HarperCollins launched Jordan Dane’s debut suspense novels in a back to back publishing event in Spring 2008 after buying the 3-book series in auction. Pursuing publication since 2003, Jordan had received awards in 33 national writing competitions and was an energy sales manager in the oil and gas industry prior to selling. Now she is following her passion and writes full time. session.

Date: Saturday, January 17, 2015                  Time: 10:30am – 1:00pm

Location:  John Igo Library – 13330 Kyle Seale Pkwy San Antonio, TX 78249


SARA Café Welcomes D’Ann Burrow

D'Ann D.K. Burrow (2)SC:  When did you join SARA and for what reason?

DB:  I joined SARA after moving to the area from Fort Worth. I’d been an active member of NTRWA, and I wanted to stay connected with other local writers.

SC:  What sub-genre of romance stories do you write? And why do you like it?

DB:  I’m kind of eclectic, but so far so far my stories have a few defining similarities.  I write YA and NA under my name (or a variation of it). I think I like the coming of age/newness of working within these age groups. The characters hit so many “firsts,” and even little things are such a big deal.  It’s fun to write because their issues and day to day life are so different from traditional, more adult fiction.  Yes, they might be deciding on a college or what to do with their lives, but it’s kind of a refreshing change from working with characters who’ve moved to the next stage in their lives and are going to work every day.

I’m published (under a pen name) in romantic suspense.  I joke that I always wanted to be Nancy Drew, and in writing within this genre, I kind of get that opportunity.

Whether I’m writing YA, NA, or romantic suspense, my stories center around small towns.  I have a Southern Gothic trilogy underway where I joke that the town is one of the characters.  I like the familiar feeling of a small, close-knit town because that’s kind of like where I grew up.

SC:  What about the romance genre appeals to you?

DB:  I have a confession to make.  Before I started writing it, I didn’t really read many romances.  The genre as a whole was kind of frowned upon in my family, and I just hadn’t explored too many books or authors.

I’ve read a lot of contemporary YA, and the contrast with romance really stands out to me.  In contemporary and dystopian, there’s so much bleakness – a lack of hope for the future.  (And, many times, the characters or their family members really don’t have a future.)  I think that’s kind of sad.  I enjoy the happily ever after that romance offers.

SC:  What are your ultimate goals as a writer?

DB:  I’d love to get to a place where I could really consider writing my full-time job.  I’ve been a stay at home mom since we had kids, and I’ve started writing during the past few years.  I’m still finding, though, that my “job” is more professional errand-runner and chauffer rather than writing.  I’d be happy if the contribution I was making to the family was such that it would be as easy to say that I’m a writer as it is to say I’m a mom.

SC:  If you could have any actor/actress cast as the hero/heroine of your latest work, who would you choose and why?

DB:  When “dream casting” the first book in my Bloodstone Trilogy, it was easy for me to select Jenna Coleman as the actress I think of when I’m writing Reese.  She has the overall “look” I’m going for coloring- and size-wise, but I’m also fond of her ability to mix wide-eyed innocence with being a really strong woman who doesn’t back down easily.

SC:  What is the best book you’ve ever read about the craft of writing?

DB:  I really enjoyed Save the Cat.  It made me think differently about the pacing of a story and key elements that our heroes need to have.

SC:  Do you have a writing routine?  What does it involve?

DB:  Ha!  Um, my family would tell you that I have a fairly complicated routine.  (And, sadly, they’d be correct.)  While I can write without any of these elements, I’ve learned through trial and error that I work better with them.

First off, I prefer to write when no one else is in the house.  I hate it when an unexpected yell in the house pulls me out of my train of thought.  This aspect of my writing routine was a little challenging when my husband’s job had him working out of the house.

I like candles too.  Sometimes I burn more than one if the scene warrants it.

SC:  What do you do when you’re not writing?  Do you have any hidden talents?

DB:  Other than being an unofficial taxi driver (I have two teenagers), I suppose my other hidden talent would probably be cooking.  I really enjoy baking in particular, but I enjoy watching the Food Network and trying to replicate some of the recipes.

SC:    What is your favorite part of the writing process?

While I’d never really consider myself a plotter, I do enjoy the planning process as far as setting up my “world” and finding photos to represent different places, houses, and the characters within my story.  I used to keep these in a notebook, but I’ve discovered they’re more helpful if I have them on a bulletin board to refer to as I’m drafting the story.

SC:  Name one of the challenges you had writing or as an author and how you met that challenge.

DB:  This year has been a collection of tough moments in my writing career.  In late December last year, my husband accepted the job that brought us here to San Antonio.  During the time I was in single-mom-mode (and selling-the-house-mode), I had to just accept that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up my typical productivity.

Thankfully, my agent was really understanding of my need to scale my writing back for a while.  I’d accepted the idea that I was just going to need to get back to writing after our move was complete.  And that was the plan – until real life got in the way.

Not long after we moved here, I had a series of medical issues that kind of threw me for a loop again.  I’m getting back on a more normal schedule, but this has been a real challenge for me.  I guess my biggest thing I learned is that sometimes it’s okay to take some time for myself and stepping back for a little while isn’t going to spell the end of my writing career.

SC:  I think that’s something we all need to do now and then. Thanks so much, D’Ann! And a Happy New Year to you and yours!

Article by Mary Brand

Photography credit to Christine Fox