It is my pleasure to have a guest post from author Janelle Jalbert, who shares...
My Writing Process
by Janelle Jalbert
by Janelle Jalbert
My writing process is ever-evolving. It usually starts with a kernel of some sort that comes in the form of a premise, a certain character, or a place. When the lightbulb comes on and excitement hits in that regard, it can take a week or so of “percolating” before I actually begin drafting. That part of the process usually includes a plethora of sticky notes and random pieces of paper scribbled with brainstorms which quickly take over my living space.
Then, it is time to make order from chaos. I have recently started using a plot board to do more formalized organization in the initial phases. Since I’m a more visual person, the plot board works well for me to conceptualize the bigger picture as well as understanding how individual details and scenes are shaping up throughout the entire narrative.
I am more of a pantser than a plotter because I live for the moments when the characters seem to take over and tell their own tales. That’s when I know the writing is really working, but I will have a broad, general outline of how the plot is structured before starting. The operative word is ‘general’ there, I leave it open to morph in exciting ways as it develops.
The initial drafts of projects tend to come fairly quickly. I subscribe to the Stephen King approach to drafting in that you just get it out and then go back and massage it. Perfectionism is a four letter word at that point. That means that the bulk of my time is spent editing rather than drafting. I love editing and refining, but it can get to be like chasing a rabbit down a hole in Wonderland if I don’t keep focused. When I lose focus, I know it’s time to call in reinforcements and some fresh eyes to review the project. That’s probably the most anxious time for me as a writer because I know the piece is going to be scrutinized by others in its less than perfected state.
Of course, that’s how my default writing process works, but it isn’t set in stone. For Triangulating Bliss the premise came in the form of a question: “What if you could walk through a random door and walk into your perfect life?” From there, I knew Greg was going to research a local business after finding out about the disappearance of an athlete that apparently leads to a death. The problem was that it seemed like all of the characters were clamoring to tell their stories at the same time. Because of that, the story wasn’t drafting in a linear fashion.
To make things more challenging, the main character’s backstory didn’t come to light until right before the novel was going to press. I knew there was something missing to his part of the story, and I didn’t give up until he fessed up. It only took more than two dozen revision cycles and a year and a half, but it finally came to light. I’m glad I dug in on that one because it makes a huge difference in the overall story.
Other times, the project doesn’t go according to plan. My next project, WING DOG: SOUL PUP came out in a completely linear manner. It may be because it is more of a memoir than a fictional work, so it lends itself to a different process. Instead of doing an outline or plot board for drafting, I’m finding that it is more useful to go back and complete one as I move from drafting to editing on that one.
Since I like to highlight the “magic in everyday life” it seems most appropriate to allow the muse along, with the characters, to play along in the creation of a story rather than my acting like an artistic dictator ordering everyone and everything to be just so. The reward for being more flexible in my approach is that I find myself surprised and delighted by what emerges. It often exceeds anything I could have imagined possible. As a result, I think that wonder as writer translates into a pleasant, enjoyable, and entertaining experience for readers, or so I hope.
by Janelle Jalbert
GENRE: Contemporary Paranormal Women’s Fiction
A struggling veteran reads about the mysterious death of a local athlete and wants to learn more. He meets the owner of the business linked to the crime and discovers others have “disappeared”.
All stories include a man with dark hair, blue eyes, and a strong jaw.
Then, it’s his turn.
The mysterious forces at Bliss change everything. What brought them all to Bliss is not as it appears and their lives are powerfully interconnected across space and time.
Greg’s mind didn’t follow his body into the coffee house. His mind was still on the fact that with a few strokes of a pen, he had undone everything that he worked towards. The exhilaration of that definitive step was quickly replaced by a growing sense of unease. It wasn’t his style to pull the trigger, figuratively or literally, without having a game plan. Then again, he didn’t need a game plan, he needed a life plan. One step at a time. He chastised himself as he joined the line of caffeine-craving citizens.
The newspapers near the door caught his attention. All of the headlines contained some variation of the same - Local Sports Legend Found Dead at 27.
Ha, Legend at 27? Greg thought. I'm 29, and no one’s calling me a legend. Survived a bomb in Afghanistan…haunted by the nightmares…soon to be an Ellison family disappointment when everyone learns what I did, and a guy who played basketball is considered a legend…at 27? He looked around the coffee house. Half of the people in line were double that age. At best - maybe - they were a legend in their own minds. Greg's self-loathing got ahead of his caffeine fix. He distracted himself with one of the newspapers.
MIKEL THOMAS DEAD AT 27
Greg studied the series of pictures of the same man, as a teen in a high school basketball uniform, in a college uniform, and in a professional one. The line for coffee at 8:30 in the morning was nearly out the door, so it gave Greg time to flip through the story.
Mikel Thomas, 27, was found in his West Los Angeles home Thursday night. His wife, Nisha, found Thomas bleeding from an apparent, self-inflicted gunshot wound when she returned home from a taping of her talk show. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Greg caught up with the line's progress and continued to read.
Thomas, a professional basketball player, had a troubled career in Philadelphia, Miami, and Sacramento. He attended Pasadena High School where an injury forced him to give up a promising football career. Thomas began playing basketball as a junior and became a top college recruit. He attended college in Los Angeles before being drafted to Philadelphia.
Shoulda played sports, Greg thought.
Thomas was involved in a shooting incident that left one dead after he was traded to Miami. His repeated altercations on and off the court led to a suspension. After a trade to Sacramento, Thomas missed part of the season for an undisclosed medical condition following a mental evaluation in a Pasadena hospital last Christmas. Thomas had a history of drug and alcohol incidents, but detectives declined to comment on that being a possible cause. The investigation continues.
Pretty standard celeb drama. Greg barely registered the comments from the player's wife and a teammate about the shock of it all. He caught up with the coffee line and skimmed further.
Mary Thomas, Mikel's mother, called into a sports radio show late Thursday. When asked if there was any indication that Thomas was in trouble, she responded. "He kept saying that his disappearance from that Bliss bar changed him forever. It was that crazy bar that killed him. I know it."
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Janelle Jalbert has ghostwritten 15 nonfiction books on topics ranging from productivity, money management, marketing, cooking, and relationships. She also worked as a copywriter for some of the biggest online names and worked as a motorsports reporter covering NASCAR. Jalbert enjoys bringing stories to life that celebrate the magic in everyday living. To learn more about her current and upcoming releases and promotions visit www.janellejalbert.com. Jalbert currently lives in Southern California, though she regularly returns to her second home in North Carolina when her pack of pups grants her a vacation.
Those readers who purchase the book by 9/30 will receive be able to buy Triangulating Bliss for $0.99 (which will be the lowest price offered...ever), and they can receive the ebook Companion Guide to Triangulating Bliss for free by clicking on the presale promotion link. Starting 10/1 the Companion Guide will be available for $1.99 ebook and $6.99 paperback.
The “Bliss Challenge” is an effort to take the spirit of the novel’s beloved character, Lois, and help make wishes come true. Ten percent of the proceeds from Triangulating Bliss and 100% of the proceeds from the novel’s companion guide, The Backdoor to Bliss, will be given to a Make-A-Wish program voted on by readers. Selections are based on reader votes for their favorite characters: Los Angeles for Greg, Henri, and Mikel; Chicago for Lois; Charlotte for Jen; and New York for Richard. The goal is to grant at least one wish for a child in the winning city based on funds raised from the novel and guide. Voting and challenge updates can be found at www.TriangulatingBliss.com/BlissChallenge
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The tour dates can be found here