Writing Process Blog Hop

James Pailly of the Tomorrow News Network has asked me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop / Writer’s Blog Tour. [See James’ post for the hop.] To participate, an author answers the tour’s four questions about their writing, and then invites several others (three seems to be the most common number) to do the same. Traditionally, these are posted on Mondays, but my work schedule forced me to post on a Tuesday.

What are you currently working on?
My rough goal is to post a science fiction review every week, and a non-fiction review every other week. I have also started writing some science fiction. My first project (originally envisioned as a short story, but now potentially something longer) involves non-human characters of terrestrial origin. I will be making a complete change of career in the next couple of weeks or months, and I’m not sure how that will impact my time available for creative writing.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?
My reviews are usually of indie works (intentionally) which are short stories (due to time constraints). My creative project has the non-human characters mentioned above, and also a non-traditional structure; instead of following a single character or group of characters, it spans a long time period, following a different character in each timeframe. Other authors have pulled off one of these things or the other in a story, but I’m trying to put two atypical elements together.

Why do you do what you do?
I’ve spent the last three years hating my work and living in a country whose people I can no longer stand. I’m no psychologist, but I think this may have been what led me to spend time thinking and writing about fictional worlds. I looked into publishing options (this may sound premature, but in my opinion, you need to adopt a different writing style if you’re going through gatekeepers vs. directly to the consumer) and decided that in the current environment, self-publishing is my best option (if people are interested in the topic, I may post about my reasoning later).

I looked at what self-published sci-fi was available on my kindle (I’ve been a science fiction reader since 1980, but had only used my kindle for non-fiction), and was amazed by the number of books. I started wondering how authors get anyone to read their stories, and how readers choose their next purchase from so many options. I’m still struggling with the answers to those questions, but the need for a Planetary Defense Command was clear almost immediately.

How does your writing process work?
For science fiction reviews, my process is subjective when giving out high ratings but gets more objective as the ratings go lower. I give my highest (4/4) rating to stories that spark my imagination. I give the next rating (3/4) to stories that are “page turners” – I want to find out what happens next. My standard rating (2/4) is given out when something makes me lose focus on the story; I’m wondering what a character is doing, what the author is doing, or why something seems off about the setting or a technology. The lowest rated stories are easy to spot, they are usually full of grammatical errors and gaping plot holes.

When writing my own fiction, I’m at the extreme “outliner” end of the spectrum; I don’t do “on the fly”. Before I write a single sentence of the finished product, I know the entire plot, what each character’s role is in each event, and the setting where each event will take place. Then I build a “skeleton” document, which is an ordered series of single sentences describing each scene. It would look like a longer version of this:

The main character learns that his boss has been cheating him.
The main character punches his boss in the nose.
The boss wakes up in the hospital.

Then, under each sentence, I’ll write whatever is needed to express that idea, from a single paragraph to multiple pages.

I’m inviting the following other authors/bloggers to participate in the hop:

Justine Allen is the author of a novel and several short stories. I really appreciated her recent posts about her experience with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I have not read any of Justine’s work yet, but I’ve loaded a couple of her short stories onto my Kindle.

Sean Munger has written several novels. I haven’t read it yet, but I am intrigued by Zombies of Byzantium, as it takes place in an interesting historical setting. In typical Byzantine fashion, the Emperor decides not to kill the zombies; he uses them to fight the Saracens instead.

Robert Paul Gmelin teaches other people to write, in addition to writing science fiction. Read his blurb for Time Passes, and I think you’ll want to get your hands on it when it’s released.

I haven’t contacted these bloggers in advance, but I will update this post with links to their responses should they choose to participate.


  1. Reblogged this on Justine Allen Writing and commented:
    Interesting idea to share how we approach writing…here’s PSC’s answers and I’ll blog mine later 🙂

  2. I’d be happy to participate. Hit me up on Twitter or email. Also, I have written science fiction books (beyond Zombies of Byzantium), you may be interested in them. I greatly enjoy your blog.

  3. Having participated in the WIP blog hop myself, I just wanted to congratulate you on the fine selection of authors here! Thanks for introducing them to us! 🙂

    1. Here’s Nicholas’ blog hop entry, for those who’d like to read it:

      1. Thanks! I didn’t want to sound like I was plugging myself, but you did it for me, so much appreciated! 😉

  4. Psst: I hope I don’t get any single dung beetles when you get a chance to read my short stories – obviously not trying to influence anything, but Adam is short, yet the best 😉

    1. I’ll have to get out my Kindle and see if Adam is one of the ones I downloaded. I’m pretty sure I have a copy of The Room.

      1. Phew, I think The Room isn’t too shabby either, but fingernails still bitten all the same 😉

  5. Here I was thinking you’re blog was a really interesting and unique piece of writing, and now I find out you’re working on a project that sounds even more interesting that that! I look forward to seeing your terrestrial non-humans in print!

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Are you still polishing your TNN stories?

      1. Unfortunately, yes. The process seems to take forever. If only I had the power to manipulate time the way my character do…

  6. […] has asked me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop / Writer’s Blog Tour. [See PDC's post for the […]

  7. Thanks for sharing your process, and the great links! I’m with James, your story project sounds really interesting. 🙂

    1. Thanks for another vote of confidence, now I just hope I can live up to it!

  8. […] been invited by the Planetary Defense Commander to join the Writing Process Blog Hop. The idea is to get inside the heads of writers to find out […]

  9. […] been assigned by the Planetary Defense Commander to join the Writing Process Blog Hop. The Commander is tasked with defending the planet from bad […]

  10. SF is a genre which intimidates me. There is so much danger of incorporating, as a brilliant new concept, something which is already science fact!
    I have written (and, lately, find most of the books I am editing fall into the category of) fantasies. Mostly these deal with alternate rather than alternative worlds or times – there is a significant difference.

  11. […] was invited by the Planetary Defense Command blog–their tag line is “defending the planet from bad science fiction”–to […]

  12. […] is a follow up to my writing process blog hop post. I’m posting links to other bloggers’ entries, and jotting down a few notes about […]

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