Monday, October 6, 2014

Melissa’s 7 Phases of the Writing Process

with guest Melissa Jagears.

As a newbie, whenever I tried to find someone who would explain to me how they wrote a book, most would give me some nebulous answer. It’s quite possibly because no one has time to answer that, it’s like asking “How do you build an airplane.” Often what answers I did glean all seemed a bit mystical. Now that I’ve written 8 books, I have a process. Thought I’d share for any newer writers who want a peek into someone’s detailed process. And it has Seven Phases—Happy 7th Birthday Seekerville!
Phase 1 – Create story

1.    Think of a story or character that has a hook=the cool thing about it that makes me want to write it next.

2.    Brainstorming and write the story with stream of consciousness writing. Annoy husband with what if questions about imaginary people I don’t really know very well.

For plotting, I run through Worksheets I created myself from all the writing Craft books/workshops/blogs/etc.  that I find worthwhile. I add more worksheets as I continue learning! I go through one sheet at a time, answering all the questions I can and then if stumped I move to the next, back and forth until I get a real good handle on the plot.

BONUS: If you want to see them, email me, I’ll send you a big ol’ doc—it might not be completely understandable unless you’ve been attending the same craft workshops and reading the same craft books, but you can see what I do with the information. Email: mjagears AT gmail DOT com).

3.    Plot work - Lies they believe (Susan May Warren’s writing books address this).

4.    Plot work – Moral Premise (Stanley William’s The Moral Premise).

5.    Plot work – Breakout Novel Info (Donald Maas books).

6.    Plot work – Romance (gleaned from several books , blog posts, and my own observations).

7.    Plot work – Misc. (those nuggets I’ve gleaned from conferences and posts or small insights into the craft.)

8.    Plot work – 3 act structure (James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure).

9.    Plot work – Character Analysis (Creating Believable Characters with Enneagrams)

10.    Plot work – Write a synopsis or Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake (If worried, have a critique partner look at synopsis and see if they see potential pitfalls).

11.    Plot work – Create a Chapter/Scene list taking into account all of the above and thinking through GMCs and Scene and Sequels. (Techniques of the Selling Writer by Swain).

Phase 2 – Write Story 

12.    Rough draft – write everything quickly and linearly using chapter/scene list to stay on track (can add or delete as I go if story warrants), only stop to look up history that would kill a scene/plot point if I was wrong, flag any other history/story questions as I go. If stuck, I note what I want to write “write something gushy here” or “check the neighbor’s name” and keep going until the end.

Phase 3 – Revise story

13.    Revision– Quickly read through entire rough draft as quickly as possible (wincing at terrible writing) making notes in the margin as I go of what needs fixed story wise.

Revision - Chapter by Chapter – Sweep through it taking care of notes and making my horrible writing make sense, filling in details (I tend to have a bunch of talking heads in a rough draft), checking history notes or story notes.

15.    Revision - Chapter by Chapter – Sweep through as many times as necessary until it reads decently and does what I think I want it to do.

16.    Critique Feedback – Give to Macro Critique Partner each chapter as I go. (I wouldn’t have done this as a beginner because my prose wouldn’t be good enough not to annoy my critter, but I’m better now—when I was newer I would have waited until after the editing phase.)

     – Examples of macro edit suggestions I got this round “Romance is non-existent in these chapters,” “If you’re going to use the character like this, then I want to see him several times before now,” “I don’t like how you’re making this preacher look like an idiot,” “He isn’t at a point in the relationship to go to her with this problem, so change this to an accidental meeting or something.”  - I read these, but I let these pile up and make notes about how I want to fix things  in response to crits, but if it changes something story wise, something BIG, I might quit revising and go through the previous chapter and add/change/revise the thread of that particular problem so that I feel confident that it’ll flow, and the rest of the book will flow properly according to new changes in response to crits.

17.    Revision- Chapter by Chapter After the first crit partner has seen everything, I go back through and fix macro edit problems in the manner I choose.

Phase 4 – Edit Story 

I do this chapter by chapter, see my website link to “weasel words” and you can see what I mean by each type of word clues I’m highlighting to  look for problems and how to create Macros in Word so you can highlight an entire list of words with one click.

18.    Macro Check of Tense.

19.    Macro Check of Deep POV and Emotion.

20.    Macro Check of Timing.

21.    Macro Check of Weasel/Filler words.

22.    Macro Check of Pet/Repeated too often words (different for everyone most likely).

23.     Macro Check of Possessive and Starting sentences with a conjunction check. (Any particular grammar mistake you do too often.)

24.    Macro Check of Pronoun clusters.

25.    Read through Dialog only.

26.    Read through entire chapter.

27.    Critique Feedback – Give to another critique partner for line by line critiquing as I go. This critique partner notes any story problems he sees and is more particular about my actual writing. I let these crits pile up. If it affects my story, I rewrite or make notes on what needs to be added/revised/changed and keep going.

28.    Editing – Once the second partner is finished, I fix all line by line/story problems from critique feedback  in the manner I choose.

29.    Read all the way through smoothing things out.

Phase 5 – Macro Edit Story

30.    Polishing – Listen to book draft with Kindle Text to Speech as I knit and fix things that don’t flow well.

31.    Submit to my managing editor and agent.

32.    Macro-Edit – Take care of all macro edit suggestions that come back from my agent and editor.

33.    Critique feedback – If I write a huge chunk of new writing, like a whole scene worth, I’ll put it through my revision/editing process and if I’m worried about it, I give it to my two previous critique partners for feedback and edit accordingly with their feedback.

34.    Polishing – read through draft or where I did a lot of editing.

Phase 6 – Line Edit Story

35.    Submit to line editor

36.    Line Edit – Read through draft and make any revisions necessary according to editor’s notes and changes.

37.    Polishing – Read aloud, making changes as needed.

Phase 7 – Copy Edit Story

38.    Submit to copy editor.

39.    Copy Edit – Read through draft to check for typos, misspellings and anything that would make me look stupid that was missed.

40.    Hand it over and never look at it again! Begin Marketing Phase.


Writers, tell me a funny story about you being asked, “How do you write a book?”

Readers, what work-related task makes cleaning toilets seem like a more fun use of your time?

2014 Carol Award winner, Melissa Jagears is a stay-at-home mom who writes Christian Historical Romance into the wee hours of the night.

She’s the author of the Unexpected Brides Series with Bethany House. The prequel ebook novella, Love by the Letter is free to try. And so far, A Bride for Keeps and A Bride in Store should have found their way onto your favorite bookstore’s shelves. You can learn more about her, her books, and where she hangs out online at

 **Actually cleaning toilets is the husband's job, and I wouldn't want to take that joy from him. What I really procrastinate with is Photoshop. So, since I'm in the middle of a rough draft, I'm giving away a Facebook Author Banner. I will make the winner a Facebook cover photo with your book(s). Give me the cover jps, what you want it to say, and I'll whip you up something! Here are some of my latest. (I do these for $20 if you were curious.) Please mention in the comments if you would like to be in the giveaway.


Seekerville is giving away one print or digital copy of A Bride in Store to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

A Bride In Store

Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell sets out on her travels a week early. But her plan goes sadly awry when her train is held up by robbers who steal her dowry and Axel, her groom-to-be, isn't even in town when she finally arrives.

Axel's business partner, William Stanton, has no head for business and would much rather be a doctor. When his friend's mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, he feels responsible and lets her help around the store--where she quickly proves she's much more adept at business than he ever will be.

The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. However, their troubles are far from over when Axel finally returns, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both.


  1. Just finished reading the kindle version of ABride in Store. I loved it! Review coming soon! I promise!

  2. Thanks for sharing your process! I'm in the writing phase now, but I haven't had a go at proper editing yet. I'm going to save this list in Evernote and come back to it when it's time to crack out the red ink!

  3. Those pictures are too hilarious! I love them! :)

    Thanks for a peek into how you write a book.

    For me, the answer to the question "How do you write a book?" is usually "One word at a time." :)

  4. Thanks, Marianne, so great to see a supportive reader here most every day! Thanks so much for your reviews!

    Jessica, Love the Red ink. EMBRACE it! (Unless of course it's a stupid suggestion, then kick it to the curb, and then, maybe exchange the red ink pen for another one.)

    Erica, glad you liked the pics, I tried for a month to get the hubby to take them, but never happened, so I had the 8 year old do it (who's probably just as good at photography as he) .....yeah, we took 300 pictures, glad to find some without my head chopped off or out of focus because "her arms were getting tired!"

  5. Melissa, I loved learning your writing process. I know it will be helpful to me. I love your books and I am so thrilled for your award.

  6. Anyone else find this terrifying?

    I prefer to think of it as make coffee, sit at computer, let brilliance flow.

    The End.

    Yeah, I know it doesn't work that way, but if I focused on your list too carefully,I think I'd be afraid to start the next book!

    I probably do most of the same steps, I just don't consciously name them. What can I say, I'm a writing wimp.

    So how do I write? The best advice ever - from Anne LaMott - bird by bird.

  7. Melissa - I was looking at your post thinking "Yup, seven phases sounds about right." Then I realized there were FORTY sub-phases. Wow. Just wow.

    In my fun news of the week - I just found out a couple of hours ago that my baby WON the Inspirational category of Lone Star! I keep re-reading the email sure that I've misread it and it's going to change to "second" or "third" or "honorary mention" any moment now :)

  8. Totally hysterical. And you reminded me there is work after research.

    I have no funny stories, only painful ones. Sigh. Like Mary Curry, I would be petrified if I broke it down. But your macros and weasel word list has helped me more times than you know.

    Thanks for making me laugh.

    Peace, Julie

  9. Mary Curry, Don't be frightened...okay, be frightened, I am every time I realize I have to write one of these things and people will READ IT! AHHHHHH!

    Wilani, are you writing? How did I miss that? Hope something in there helps.

    Kara! Woot! First place is Awe. Some.

  10. Julie, so glad the weasel word and macro things help more writers than me. I got a new computer, must put macros on it because I must finish this rough draft this week and get crackin'.

  11. What an awesome post, Melissa! The info is super, and the pictures are such fun. You're so clever, but I already knew that, since I've read your first book. I look forward to reading your latest, along with that Carol Award-winning novella.

  12. I loved seeing the overview of an author's writing process.

    Phase four would scare me the most ... I like to think I'm a good writer and such, but if I'd been working on a draft for that long, I think I'd need someone else to go through to catch grammatical errors --I think I'd be "too close" to catch them. =)

  13. Kelly, hope you enjoy the next books. I got the ideas for the pictures when I probably should have been thinking about plotting my story.....

    Artist Librarian, I actually LOVE grammar, even kept my English Major Grammar Textbook to do again for FUN! So, it might be easier for me than others, but I'm sure there are plenty of grammar nazis out there who could scare them out of your draft. :)

  14. Okay, Artist Librarian, I haven't seen you around, so I punched your name. Lady DragonKeeper I recognize. Hi! :)

  15. Melissa, I just started writing a novel in March with the Seekerville Speedboo. I am now at 48,000 words and have ideas for 2 more books when I finish this one. I love writing but not good enough to be published yet. However I am hanging in there and striving to learn all I can.

    I am also continuing to read lots of books.


    How do you do the Kindle thingie?

  17. Welcome to Seekerville, Jessica!


    Chocolate cake for everyone!!

  19. "So, it might be easier for me than others, but I'm sure there are plenty of grammar nazis out there who could scare them out of your draft."

    Gee and I can refer you to the one I use.

  20. Artist Librarian = Lady Dragonkeeper???

    hahahaha our good buddy from Hawaii

    What have you been up to??

  21. believe it or not....I don't mind cleaning toilets :)

    great posting, ladies.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  22. How fun to have you on this side of the fence, Jagears!!!!!!

    And Photoshop? I'm in awe. I'm kind of green with envy too, I mean you're smart, cute, funny, YOUNG (brat) and you get the job done.

    Those are qualities I love!

    I'm not sure I know what a macro edit is, but it sounds scary so I'm going to pretend I know what it is. This is me, nodding wisely in upstate:

    (imagine me doing that)


    Wonderful post and those pictures are just delightfully marvelous!

  23. Kara Isaac!!!!!

    Happy dancing for you!!!! Oh my stars, I never even came close to finaling in Lonestar, it was like the great state of Texas joined together to keep me in the north! I bombed repeatedly, and I have to say my heroines WERE NOT WELL RECEIVED, LOL!!!!!



    I'm so stinkin' proud of you! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!

  24. I love that Lady Dragonkeeper/Artist Librarian is eclectic.

    She won my heart when I saw that a couple of months back.

    Young, beautiful and daring.

    With wide-ranging likes and goals. Yup. My kind of gal.

  25. KarenK! Where have you been? We missed you.

  26. I have to laugh I get paid to clean toilets! But your comment no one would tell you how to do it. When I lost mum I was so lost didn't know how to grieve etc but people would say we cant tell you, you just have to go through it. I was go through what give me a clue (tell me not sleeping is normal etc). I didn't want a sermon I just wanted to know some of what I may expect and to know what some others had experienced to know if what I was feeling was normal.

    what task to I put off? dishes!

    Congrats Kara.

  27. Thank you Melissa! A lot of food for thought here.
    Congratulations Kara!

  28. This is like the syllabus for a course on "How to Write a Novel."

  29. It was interesting to see the process you go through to write a book. Thank you! I'd be thrilled to win the book!

  30. This is great information, Melissa! It's definitely going into the Seekerville notebook. And your pictures...priceless!
    Thanks for this!

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Awesome stuff, Melissa. Scary, but awesome. I love the pictures. So much fun...helps drive away all that lingering fear. :-)

    Don't put me in the draw for A Bride in Store. Just finished it last week and loved it to pieces. And congrats on your Carol Award I watched the live blog video and I squealed when you won.


  33. Great post, Melissa! Loved the pictures. You and your little daughter make a great team.:-)

    Forgive me while I gush. I'm so impressed with all your talents—good at grammar AND Photoshop??? Not fair. Not fair at all!!
    Love your website—I spent an hour going over everything. Not only fun, but informative, too.

    Glad you were here to share with us this morning! Added you to my keeper file.:-)

  34. Melissa,

    Cute pictures to go with excellent writing advice.

    I don't think anyone has ever asked me how to write a book. I get, 'where do you get your ideas?' and 'how can I get published?' and 'how much did you pay to have your book published?'

    I even had a co-worker ask me how much money I made writing because her brother-in-law wrote a book and he isn't making any money so why would I bother. *SIGH*.

  35. Melissa, I have read and enjoyed your books! When's the next one and what's it about? Thanks for the great post and breaking down the writing process. Love the pictures!

  36. What a hoot, Melissa!! Your graphics had me spewing coffee from the first line, LOL!

    Loved this post. I think you built an awesome airplane and shared the process step by step. Seems pretty overwhelming when you list each detail, doesn't it?

    The funniest (or most depressing) question I've received, "It took you how long to write this book? I read it in an evening."


    Thanks for all the great tips, kiddo!!

  37. Kara, congratulations on the Lone Star win!!!

    WoooooHooooo! Let's celebrate! How about a nice pumpkin cheesecake? The perfect thing for a fall win celebration : )

  38. This reader enjoyed your visual walk through of your story process, what a character you are! (I put off bathrooms just like most do :)

    Congrats on your recent Carol award! I'd love to be entered in the drawing for the book, thank you!

  39. Wow! Cleaning the toilets does sound a lot easier but maybe not as fulfilling. Thank you so much for sharing the phases you go through in writing your books. I also loved all your pictures.

    I finished A Bride in Store and loved it! Can hardly wait for your next book Melissa.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  40. Hi Melissa,

    Great post. Love the pictures you shared through your writing process.

    I think new writers will forever be coming back to read your post today.

    Your book cover is beautiful. Can't wait to read your story.

  41. You are spot on, Kaybee. I asked all the writers in my Self-Editing Night Class to stop by and read this.

    Priceless info.

  42. Wow, Melissa! What an amazing post! THANK YOU!

    I'd like a copy of your second Brides book. I loved the first!

    Congrats, Kara!

  43. I admire your writing Melissa, and appreciate the hard work involved to produce such a wonderful story. I can't imagine the research alone to get the details of the setting or how people lived their daily lives in a particular era. Thank you for doing the work and sharing the results. I can't wait for the next book!

  44. Melissa - hilarious post and I loved it. That woman on the cover of your book could be your sister. So far I've not gotten the question of how I write a book. Usually people just look at me blankly and ask 'You wrote a book?" (emphasis on YOU). I just nod and try to look mysterious.
    A Bride for Keeps was great and I look forward to reading a Bride in Store. And congratulations on your Carol award. Kansas authors have a special place in my heart!
    Congratulations Kara! SO happy for you. I came in 2nd (tie) and am so proud to be in such prestigious company!

  45. Thank you, Melissa, for sharing such a detailed account of writing a book. I had no idea ALL of that went into writing a book. Great post and pics!

  46. Melissa, those are FANTASTIC photos!! So cute! :)

    I especially love the one with the clothespin on the nose. LOL

    Great post! I love all your steps. Makes me feel a little more normal. :) BTW, I've already emailed you for your charts!

  47. I love that there's a Melissa look-alike on the cover, that's just FUNNY and a testimony to your stinkin' youth.


    Note that no one says that about Mary, me, Janet, Tina.... But I'm clinging to my experience as a gift from God. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

    We're making pumpkin cookies and I'm sharing them!

    From homegrown pumpkins. A little holistic Ruthy coming through for Melissa!

  48. Melissa, your writing process would have me hiding under my desk and suffering eternal writer's block!!!

    I don't know . . . maybe if I thoroughly analyzed my process, I might come up with this many steps. But it makes my head hurt too much to think about it.

    Seriously fun post, though--and I love the pix!

  49. Love the pictures, Melissa! lol

    Your process sounds scarily a lot like mine!

    Maybe I should print this out and keep copies in my purse. When someone asks me how to write a book, I'll hand it to them, then walk away! :)

  50. Off topic -- but I've been trying to send my 5 page critique to the seekers email but it keeps bouncing back as undeliverable? I've tried a couple of times so if a bunch of duplicate emails suddenly come through, sorry about that. :-( And if they don't I'll try again later.

  51. MARY CURRY!!!

    YES, YES, YES!!!

    "I prefer to think of it as make coffee, sit at computer, let brilliance flow."

  52. Melissa, this is hilarious and brilliant--my favorite combination. I've loved all of your books (and own them so don't put me in the giveaway). Your daughter did an excellent job as your photographer.

    Cindy R.--I was wondering who I tied with for second place. :) Congrats!!!

  53. Courtney! Yeah I was wondering too. Congratulations girl!

  54. Wilani, have fun writing!....or cleaning toilets.....

    Tina, you either need a kindle keyboard or a kindle fire. I don't think the Kindle paperwhite does it. You send your document to your kindle email address, (if you don't know it, go to your Amazon account and find it in the manage your devices area).

    On kindle keyboard you press the Aa button and choose text to speech, the kindle fire you get the menu board to come up with a book open (or in this case your doc) and choose Aa-View and click More Settings and turn on Text-to-speech.

  55. Melissa, welcome to Seekerville. What a kick. Loved your post and your photos. You're doing great and that puts a smile on my face.

    Wow, I'm almost glad I didn't know all those steps before I started or I probably would never have started. But you're right on. Great post filled with useful info.

    Have fun today.

  56. KARA Congrats. I won the Lone Star years and years ago. It is lovely to win. Makes you feel like a real writer. smile

  57. Wow, Melissa...that's quite a process.

    I'm deeply impressed AND you write beautiful books.

    I'm amazed.
    And clearly a disorganized slob.

  58. This is a wonderful post, Melissa. I love the pics too--so creative and true! One more reason to list you as an inspiration!

    Congrats to you Kara! Off to grab some fallish pastry before I head back into the writing cave!

  59. Yeah, Mary Curry.

    Here's my process.
    Drink coffee...make stuff up.

    I probably need to refine that.

  60. Pam that is brilliant.

    People will be so impressed.

  61. Ruth, Macro edit is the big picture thing. When your editor comes back for the first time and says "I think the romance is off, slow it down" or "I think you make so-and-so look like a jerk." All the edits go by a hundred different names, gets confusing. :(

  62. Jenny, same for me on many miscarriages, it was something no one talks about until it happens and then the stories all come out of the woodwork. I also found great solace on the miscarriage poems posted online (that's about the only time I write poetry is when I'm really really sad, and so I even posted my own in hopes of others finding it. I know it happened awhile ago, but I wonder if theirs grief poetry forums that might help you?

    And my hubby has often been the one doing janitorial work for pay, so he's just better at it than me, of course he should do it. :)

    And I HATE dishes too. That was my most hated chore as a kid.

  63. Melissa, I am just starting the process on my first novel, so these steps are going to be very useful. For me the hard part is actually sitting down and writing because I want it to be perfect from the beginning and that isn't going to happen, of course. Please enter me into the drawing to win your book.

  64. Kaybee - I started writing out each step in full and wowzers, that was long, so this is the highly abbreviated list form!

    Becky, glad it proved interesting, it's drudgery sometimes....

    Jill, Glad you found it worthwhile!

  65. KAV! Thanks for the squeal, I had several screamers there for me in person too! And yeah, I figured if people's eyes glazed over with my "3000 steps" as Tina called it, they could look at the funny pictures. They're there to keep people sane. :)

    Mary Hicks! I'm a keeper!!! Yay! You know, photoshop is a lot easier than writing books, you should try it!

  66. Rose, yeah, everyone in these parts does vanity presses basically, there's even a group in town that everyone does it, so when my hubby's coworkers saw my first book they insisted on knowing who the model was because they'd never seen her around town. They thought I did the cover, which I should be very flattered, I am not that good at photoshop, Dan Pitts made me first cover SO SO SO awesome, I was in love at first glance.

  67. I have a Kindle Keyboard. Yippie.

    Thank you.

  68. If my self editing class is reading this post and comments...


    "Here's my process.
    Drink coffee...make stuff up." by Mary Connealy.

  69. Sally Shupe, the next one is Jonesey's story--he gets a letter from his estranged wife and goes to her, but he doesn't find what he expects--of course :), it comes out in July.

    Audra, I know! I feel terrible now to read a book in a day after knowing how much work goes into it. I feel I should savor it, but if it's good, I just have to race through it, but I'm a rereader, so the next read will be for savoring!

  70. Tracey, glad to see you pop in and tell me you enjoyed it. And you'd think the bathroom being what it is would not be the thing procrastinate most. Thanks for the congrats!

    Cindy, toilets are DEFINITELY easier. :) Glad you enjoyed the book.

  71. MaryC, I like your process!! Works for me too!:-)))

  72. Jackie, I hope it is useful. I remember the day I decided to write, I googled to try to find somebody to tell me how to do it, the best thing I landed on was Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method, got me started.

    Tina, I hope I don't scare your students too badly. :)

    Sherinda, fingers crossed, hope you enjoy it when you get your hands on it.

  73. Mardell, didn't even put the research in there, daunting stuff that!

    Cindy, yes, she certainly seems to be a woman who could be family though I have never seen her before she showed up on my cover. Congrats on your final. That's awesome being in front of those final judges, that was always my goal, not to win, but to final.

    Rebecca, I didn't know all that went into a book either....might be a good thing I didn't. ;P

  74. Missy, I'm swinging by my email next to send out charts. Surprisingly, that clothespin didn't hurt as bad as I thought!

    Mmmmm, homegrown pumpkins sound delightful Ruth. And the model looks like a younger version of my mother, so maybe you should send in some old photos with your art fact sheets. :)

    Myra, I bet some people are frightened, but if you're wired the other way, I think it's comforting, it has a process and an END!

  75. Pam, OR you hand them the copy of this and THEY walk away. Hmmmm, sounds handy. :)

  76. Oh my word! Hilarious photos! I think the last one is my favorite. That's how I sort of picture you every day.

  77. Courtney, glad you enjoyed it. Does your comment mean you tied with Cindy for 2nd place?

    Oh, I see it does! Congrats to three seekervillagers with those finals!

    Sandra, as I said to Myra, it might depend on your brain's wiring whether this is comforting or frightening!

  78. Mary, I am totally a disorganized slob since I started writing. My house proves it! And I too think Pam is brilliant, hand people a booklet on writing will definitely help with those questions that I often find myself blinking at them trying to decide if they want the easy answer or they want to pull up a couch and a ice pack and hot compress....

    Piper, glad you liked the pictures, they were for those people like Myra who would get scared off with the list, they could just sing La la la la la and look at pictures. :)

  79. Sandy Smith, I'm a procrastinator because I hate that the rough draft is not perfect too. Actually, it never gets perfect. Gotta live with it.

    Tina. Yay for kindle keyboard, my grandma uses it because she's blind for text to speech, kindle fire is too difficult, but they don't make the kindle keyboard anymore! Take car of that puppy, can't be replaced, I had to give her my old one because she broke hers.

  80. Ginny, you picture me out in the field dancing with my book? I must play too much online, I'm more often doing the clothespin on the nose thing.

  81. Lol...Love the pictures, Melissa. :) I'd also love to be entered for a copy of your book! Great advice on the writing process, too.

  82. Melissa,
    You make it sound so easy!!! LOL!!!

    It's work, isn't it! And creating a completed manuscript takes time and energy.

    You've done a great job detailing your process. Seems you don't skimp on reworking your pages, which is important for all of us to take note.

    I'm focusing on using Kindle Text to Speech! Thanks for that gem. Plus, you knit while listening. Probably soothe a crying baby as well. (BTW, he is so adorable!)

    Your blog today is filled with rich nuggets of writing wisdom. Thanks for sharing!!!

  83. Melissa, love your photos.

    Looks like you have a large screen. I need one. I'm hunched over my laptop, which isn't good.

    Must move to the 21st Century and update my technology!

    Do you have an ergonomic keyboard?

  84. Melissa,
    What a daunting post! Just goes to show you how different every writer's process is. But I'm keeping this post for when it's time to edit!

    I LOVE your banners! They are so beautiful! What do authors use them for? Facebook? Their webpage? Gorgeous!

    Don't include me in the draw as I have all your books! Bride in Store is my next to read!


  85. Melissa, you cracked me up with your pictures! Fun post!

  86. Melissa,
    Love the illustrative photos,lol. Thank you for being so generous, sharing your process. I really have to shut myself into the closet and read it again. So many meaty ideas. Wow.

    This is what I know - I'm really behind.

  87. What a fun and funny post, Melissa. However you're doing it, keep it up. Love your books. Don't put me in the drawing for Bride in Store. Already have and enjoyed it.

    Congrats on the Carol. I so agree with that.

    Congrats to the Lone Star winner and finalists.

    I won't give anyone any advice on writing a book until I've published one.

  88. Jennifer, glad you enjoyed the pictures, my 8 year old photographer made it a bit difficult, but yay for photoshop to save the day!

    Debbie, I JUST bought myself a 40" flat screen tv for my computer monitor, mainly so I could have two open documents at a time for cheaper than two computer monitors (went for a really cheap one off and nice for no eye strain, BUT it took awhile to figure out that it's actually a bit too big because most monitor tops are supposed to be from eye level down. So I was getting a head ache because I was looking up, scrunching my forehead and using eye muscles I don't usually use. So lowered it all the way and Gasp! Realized I don't have to have the window open completely to the top, I can minimize the open window/document and just place it in the middle of the screen and tada, it's at eye level and down, so no more headache! Who'd of thunk than you don't have to use the entire screen!!! So used to that on the little monitors it took me a few days to realize I didn't have to. ha!

  89. And Cindy Regnier! 2nd place is fantastic! Congratulations :)

  90. Susan, yeah, they're mainly Facebook author page banners for where you put a cover photo, though I just did one a client called a "slider" it was a banner for the top of a guest blog post I believe.

  91. THERE'S the other 2nd place finalist! Courtney Phillips! Congratulations!

  92. Amy C, glad to give you a laugh. It's easier than being brilliant, that's for sure.

    Lyndee, it took me years to absorb it all, take some food with you into the closet!!

    Elaine, thanks for the congrats. You sound like me when I was an English teacher, how can I grade creative writing unless I actually write it. Easiest As in my class were the creative writing assignments. Probably a good thing I don't teach now, it would probably be the hardest A now.

  93. Great post, Melissa!

    I started reading thinking, "hey, our processes are a lot alike," but then realized how MANY of those steps I forget to include....

    So, printing this one off and using it as a checklist. Thanks!

    And yes, I love the pictures. :)

  94. Jan, sometimes I skip list's called running too close to a deadline!!

  95. They were great! And your banners are great as well--very well done. I would like to be in the drawing, but I would be more than willing to pay for one. Either way, I'll be in touch!

  96. Piper, you're the first to mention wanting to be in the drawing for a FB banner, you gotta good chance at getting it :)

  97. Great post, Melissa! I loved your first brides book and am anxious to read this please enter me!

    Congrats, Kara!

  98. Melissa--I loved this post! And your pictures? Beyond creative. In my mind you are Wonder Woman. Thanks for the outline of your writing process. Even though I've completed three rough drafts, I'm always curious to see how other writers get their books done. :)

    Please don't put me in for the drawings. I already have your book (and I LOVED it!).

  99. Jackie, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the book.

    Jeanne, if wonder woman felt like me....poor sleep deprived lady. :) I too like to hear how others do it. Sometimes they do it better and I can learn, sometimes they do it in such a fashion I'm like "glad I don't do it that way!" LOL

  100. Oh, and Debby I do have a wave keyboard which is ergonomic, but I'm going to have to find something else, it's wireless and just randomly for like a minute it'll type gibberish. It's not fun to be on a roll writing and then nothing comes out for an indefinite amount of time. I'll have to look at going back to a wired keyboard. But I haven't had this one long enough to know if I'll hate going back to a regular one, but it's a slight modification, it's not one of those strange split contraption keyboards I've seen.

  101. OH. MY. GOSH!!! Those pix are HILARIOUS!!! Probably the funniest, most well-done pix like that I have ever seen -- worth the price of this blog alone.

    And yet ... there's SO much more!! YIKES, I'd be dead before I'd be through your process, my friend, but then I suppose that's why your books are so darn good.


  102. Melissa, I'm not even a writer but I had to read your post because of the photos! They are fantastic! I'm sure the photos and your post would fit in my daily life somewhere!

    You know I ADORE your books! I still haven't read this current one - maybe I will win it! I love your characters and the setting and...just everything about them! You are a wonderful writer! Thanks for the post today. I brightened up my Monday!

  103. Hi Melissa:

    Wow! If there was a Carol for web posts, this one would win it hands down!

    You could win it on Voice alone.

    I’ve read your post twice now and have it pasted in my Scrivener Writing Project and my Word Writing Aids folder. I now know how to write a book by the numbers! Also, I just love it when an author espouses the benefits of plotting.

    I believe you’ve given the Macro edit some new dimensions that I never explored. I also appreciate the attention you give to the line or Micro edit. This is something I need to do myself.

    I believe Tina is going to go into the importance of the Meso edit in her online editing course. I can’t wait! The Meso edit reconciles any cognitive dissidence between the Marco edit and the Micro edit. It’s kind of like being the middle child. I think this is something Ruth will appreciate. : )

    BTW: I’ve been given permission by Seekerville HQ to announce that, within the Spirit of the Number Seven, the below book is being offered for free on Amazon:

    “The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer's Block” [Kindle Edition]
    Hillary Rettig (Author), Barry Deutsch (Illustrator)

    It's 188 pages. It also has a 5 star rating with 134 reviews.

    I just had to mention this when I read that you had some issues yourself with procrastination.


    P.S. I would love to get your ‘by the numbers’ take on how you write a synopsis. Please come back!

    P.P.S. I did email a request for your worksheets. I am very much a visual thinker.

  104. Hi Melissa! First of all, CONGRATS again on your Carol award! Was sooo glad I was able to see you after the ceremony and get a pic snapped with you (which I still need to post). Of course, the pic of you and your PRECIOUS baby boy the next morning made me as happy---He is adorable!
    Echoing what others have said already today - - you are a hoot (meant in a nice way, of course!).
    Also enjoyed reading your 7 phases (going into my Keeper File). It is always fascinating to me seeing how different authors go about the writing process.
    Okay, am setting out a warm peach cobbler I just baked, along with fudge brownies. Enjoy! ;)
    *Virtual Hugs* (wink), Patti Jo

  105. Thanks for all the congratulations, everyone. It's still sinking in. I keep checking the email to make sure I didn't dream it!

  106. You probably spent a goodly amount of time writing the post, and what am I commenting on? How fun those photos are!

    Your 'weasel word' list has been in my 'quick edit checks' notebook for almost a year now (yes, I checked the date) and has been well-used. Thanks again for sharing that.

    Wonderful blurb for A Bride in Store.

    Nancy C

  107. Melissa I enjoyed your post it was fun to read and full of great stuff. No need to put my name in the drawing... I've read the book and loved it.

    When someone ask me how I write a book I give them a blank stare and then send them to seekerville :)

  108. Melissa, a million congrats on your Carol Award win!

    Thank you for sharing your writing process with us. I love the stream of consciousness writing idea and all of the helpful links. I'm sending a request for the worksheets.

    Tell your little girl she has fans! The pictures are hilarious!

  109. Kara! How wonderful is that 1st Place!! Congrats!

    And way to go Courtney and Cindy. So much fun seeing all those Seekervillager names in contest results.

    Nancy C

  110. Tina, too late. I've already read Mary's comment. I hope to land somewhere between the complex and "Drink coffee...make stuff up."

    Vince, thanks for the free book info!

  111. Melissa, I forgot to ask my question...
    How long does your first draft usually end up being?

    And 8 books...wowzers!

  112. Melissa a site talking about a couple losing a cat and how it affected them with the lack of sleep etc that helped me most. Then my Dr. I am ok now. The counsellor this year helped me also understand loss of being able to do things due to my condition. There are some things I loved but was unable to do anymore and she explained how I had had a lose (even not being able to go to the cricket) and looking for different things that I can do.

  113. Julie, so glad I persevered with my 8 year old photographer then, if they're the bestest pictures ever. :) And you'd be dead because you're books are so much longer ha ha. Maybe that'll keep you writing short. ;P

    Valri, maybe they should be pinterest photos for motivation of some sort....Glad I could brighten a Monday!

  114. Vince, thanks so much for the kindle freebie book! Must read. But the problem is, I know I procrastinate because it's either A) hard or b) fearing I'm not going to do it well enough and that it'll be a lot of work to fix. So basically I hate work. LOL Need to find the button to push on me to make myself grow up.

  115. Patti Jo, I was so happy to see you too, and I personally think my children are the cutest ever, not that I'm biased. I find it a lot easier to be silly online, in person I mainly just stammer around for appropriate words and remind myself to make eye contact. :) And I haven't had peach cobbler in forever, I wonder if I have any canned peaches for a crisp or something, sounds really good and it's dinner time!

    Chill N, glad you found the photos fun, they were fun to do. And so glad the weasel word list isn't just something sitting on your computer but used!

  116. Jamie, that's a great response to "how to write a book" I often do that too. I say, give me your email, I'll send you some blogs, read all the archives, see you in a year....

    Donna, yep, I just write the story as if I'm telling someone what's happening. Then you don't have to worry at all about writing technique and you find out what the story is.

  117. Donna, my first draft used to be really short. Like, when I rewrote it would be 1.5 times longer. LOTS of talking heads. Now I fill in a bit more as I go and roughly end up where I should-about 100k. I have a natural scene limit of about 1.5k so unless it's a really complicated scene that I know will take longer, I can kind of guesstimate by my scene list at the end of my plotting session on how long the story will end up being.

  118. Jenny, my grandmother really struggled with losses when she went blind, all the things she loved to do were difficult or impossible. Lots of adjusting. Glad to know you're improving mentally!

  119. Donna, I don't see an email from you, make sure you spell my last name right, it's a doozy.

  120. Melissa, definitely go for the Pinterest photos! You should be a motivational speaker! Just add something else to your plate - you can do it!!!!

  121. LOL, Valri, I've got PLENTY of time! ;P

  122. Thanks for giving us a behind the scenes look at your writing. Thanks also for persevering; your books are very enjoyable. I'm looking forward to reading A Bride in Store.
    I'm a reader, who works at an elementary school as a special ed para. I really like my job so had to think hard for something that would make cleaning toilets seem fun! I guess it would be a toss up between lunchroom duty (thankfully I don't have that this year)and recess or bus duty when it's really cold.
    Thanks for the chance to win your new book.

  123. Pam, hmmm, what I wouldn't want to do when I was a teacher....morning hall duty because I hate mornings. ha.

  124. I didn't coin it, but writing a story is like sitting at the computer and opening a vein.

    Love the macro help.

  125. Thanks for sharing your writing process, Melissa. I'm keeping it.

  126. Wow, what a party. Who put those streamers on the chandeliers????

  127. Wow Melissa, perfect timing. I'm preparing a proposal for an agent and editing five chapters. Seeing your writing process is so beneficial.

    Love all your pics! They make a scary process look fun.

  128. Melissa, I am amazed at this post. And with a one year old. Wow!

    I'm coming to realize that a book is about 25% first draft with a lot of edits.

    Thank you so much for this post which is so helpful as I'm entering one final editing push for one project and plotting my next.

  129. My funny story isn't tell me how to write a book, but when someone says "I could write a book." (Actually, that annoys me a bit.)

    Melissa, love the pics!

  130. A BRIDE IN STORE sounds wonderful. The hard work paid off.

  131. Outstanding post with excellent tips of how you journey through story.

  132. Melissa, I'm a day late but had to stop by and thank you for sharing your process and the hilarious pictures. So fun!


  133. Walt, they COULD write a book...anyone can write a terrible book. :)

  134. Awesome post Melissa. I use that word list thingy often. Your search seven phases look daunting, but, like others, if I really thought about it. I do a lot of them. (But definitely not all of them)

  135. Oh, wow Melissa. This is excellent. I have been doing all these phases all at once and it's been making me crazy. I like how you break it down in separate parts. Question: Is your first revision pass for story structure?

  136. What a fun post!! Love the humor and the pics!!

    Melissa - I have no idea how you manage to do all that you mentioned in your writing process, the promotion of your books, care for a household and 3 young children, plus all the other things your busy life includes!! Writing looks like hard work to me (no matter the process) - although, less so if you love what you're doing, I'm sure - and I am SO grateful to all Christian authors for their dedication to their craft and their wonderful books that have so inspired me!! Thank you, all!!

    Cleaning toilets isn't the only form of housework I dislike - I pretty much detest most all of it, after the many years I've been doing it (since a child), LOL!! Since retiring, and living alone - I do as little housework as possible, and enjoy my free time reading and encouraging, praying for, or doing promo for you wonderful authors!!

    Shared post!!

  137. @ Melissa - Yep, it's Lady DragonKeeper --I started a blog this summer, so I kind of rebranded myself.

    @*Ms.* Tina - I know, I was hardly here because I graduated in spring and just started grad school this semester. And I just started the blog I've dreamed of for years ... So life's been busy, but lots of neat things happening. :)

    @*Ms.* Ruth - ^_^ Thank you --eclectic feels like my whole life ... Eclectic schooling, tastes in music, movies, tv shows, books, etc. I enjoy it now ... ;-)

  138. Preslaysa, yes, the first revision pass is for story things only. I clean up sentences that are basically gobbledy-gook and make me go "what on earth was I saying" and anything else that just sounds like fingernails scratching on chalkboards, but I try not to get bogged down in any writing fixes, you have to "go fast" through it to see if the story is working or not. The longer it takes to nit-pick words, you lose the feel of the story.

  139. Oh, Bonnie! I detest all that cleaning stuff too.

    I was just talking to hubby, saying, you know, I'm working a pretty full time job here, but unlike ladies that work out of the home, I have my three kids with me, can you imagine if you co-worker brought her three little ones with her how much work she'd get done? VERY LITTLE. That's what I get done....sigh.