We’re so pleased to keep the GRL 2016 Countdown Celebration going today with Featured Author Anna Zabo. Enjoy Anna’s guest post, and then be sure to leave a comment below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of Due Diligence.
Comments must be time/date stamped by 11:59pm Eastern Time on Tuesday, August 9, 2016 to qualify in the drawing.
Grinding the Gears of Process
Hi there! I’m Anna Zabo, and I’m so happy to be here at the Novel Approach for the Countdown to GRL Blog Tour! Thank you for hosting me!
I primarily write m/m office romances, and right now I’m between releases. My last book, Due Diligence, came out in June and my next book, Daily Grind, comes out in December. They’re books three and four of the Takeover series.
All of my books end up being written in slightly different ways, but I shifted my writing process pretty dramatically between these two books.
For Due Diligence, I wrote a normal-sized synopsis and then dove in. I marked some places where I knew certain things would happen—basically a very loose outline—and jumped around the book, writing scenes when they struck me. (I write in Scrivener, so I can move around and rearrange things easily.)
It took a while. The beginning came fast, but oh, the middle. I felt like I was drowning. Or stuck in sand. I’d write and write and the end got NO CLOSER.
Now, Due Diligence contains a bit of a tough subject for me—I wanted to write about a character—Fazil—coming to the realization that he had a large hand in the drama and angst of his teen years. He has to rebuild his friendship and love of Todd with that knowledge in mind. With both of them knowing Fazil fucked up back then—and with Todd still having some of the flaws of his youth, too. It was daunting at times. The writing slowed way down as I navigated and uncovered all those tricky bits from their pasts and wove them into the present and headed toward the end of the novel.
But I made it! Even though I swear Fazil and Todd were trying to kill me.
In contrast, I’d written a much smaller synopsis of Daily Grind—more of a paragraph of an idea. A bisexual coffee shop owner meets British high tech guy and stuff happens.
That’s a phrase that shows up frequently in my loose plotting—stuff happens. Yeah. I don’t recommend it, because you’ll be writing along and you get to that part of the outline and you’re all Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit, really past-me? Then you have to figure out what you meant by stuff and happens.)
When it came time to sit down and write the Daily Grind, after the struggle I had with Due Diligence, I thought it was time for a change in process.
I outlined. I wanted to figure out what stuff happens meant ahead of time.
When I say I outlined, I mean it. I wrote a four page, detailed outline for each main character, from their POVs, focusing on their goals and story arcs. Then I wove those two outlines together into one giant book outline.
Lo and behold, a story emerged. The story flew out of me and pretty much in chronological order. I didn’t struggle in the muddy middle—because I’d already figured out how that was going to go down.
Daily Grind turned out to be about Brian, the owner of Grounds N’at (the coffee shop that’s featured in the other Takeover books) finally acting on the bisexuality he’s pretty much always felt. But juggling a new and different relationship with a sexy British ex-pat while struggling to keep his business afloat is—hard. Especially when he’s pretty much married to his shop. Rob won’t let him off that easily though, because he understands workaholics, being one himself. He’s quite willing to lend a hand—and other parts—to help Brian relax.
That’s not to say I stuck a hundred percent with the outline. Oh no—characters are sneaky little devils who decide to move stuff around or go over here instead of there and then the side characters come in and tell you a little about themselves and all the magical that happen in my writing before happened in Daily Grind too.
But I had the shape of the story and knew what Brian and Rob wanted, so when they stepped off the path, it was fine. I had a map and could pilot them to where they ultimately wanted to go.
We got to that ending with a lot less author angst and panic, thank goodness. So apparently outlining works for me. I’m hoping it works for the book, too! I guess I’ll find out in December!
Or, if you’re at GRL in October, I’ll be doing a reading from Daily Grind. I do have to warn that there will be coffee puns, though. And coffee-related swag.
About Due Dilligence
A business trip leads to a surprise encounter with an old flame in this sexy romance from the author of Just Business.
After Fazil Kurt breaks up with his girlfriend, a business trip to Seattle offers some much-needed time away. Sent by S.R. Anderson Consulting, Fazil is there to help audit Singularity Storage, a company they are trying to save. His first discovery is intriguing to say the least: One of Singularity’s engineers is Todd Douglas, Fazil’s first love.
He knows better than to get personally involved on a job like this. Back in high school, Todd broke Fazil’s heart more times than he could count, but both men have grown so much since then—and Fazil never could say no to Todd…
About Daily Grind
A man discovers that love can show up when you least expect it—and in a much different form—in this piping-hot romance from the author of Due Diligence and Just Business.
Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N’At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn’t have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he’d become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin
As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob’s visits—to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in.
But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance?
About the Author
Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.
With a penchant for suits and ties both on herself and others, she enjoys coffee, tea, good books, and fine wine—as well as the best diner fare and pies made with lemon. Give her a Ruben, and she’s happy.
She fell in with a roving band of romance writers at Seton Hill University, earned and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and never looked back. She also has a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.