Friday, August 22, 2014


The past few days, I spent with three other authors at our writer’s retreat plotting books. In addition to a lot of laughter, exchange of marketing information, more food than we needed (and  a couple of margaritas), we plotted a lot of books and novellas. We've known one another for twenty years and work well together. Two of the books and one novella were for me. Hooray! 

In order to work uninterrupted, we were at a local hotel. We brought plotting boards, sticky notes, notebooks, and various other plotting aids that always include chocolate. We congregate in one of the rooms. But this is not a vacation, folks. We work long, long hours and get down to business immediately. Even during meals, we talk writing and marketing.

My cousin Sandra called my cell phone while we were in the process and asked me how in the world we work together to plot. She wondered if we write on each other’s books. Not at all.

Ready to begin plotting

Our group consisted of a romantic suspense/action adventure/erotica author, a humor/paranormal suspense romance author, and two of us who write western historical romance. We use a plotting process similar to that taught by Robin Perini and Laura Baker in their “Story Magic” workshops. All four of us attended the same of those workshops years ago.  Although this process is not for everyone, it is perfect for us.

Over the years, we’ve modified the “Story Magic” process to fit our books and writing process. We use a plotting board that has been divided into chapters. We keep a notebook or laptop handy for notes that won’t fit on a sticky note. Sticky notes indicate what happens in a particular scene and in whose point of view the scene is written. Pink notes for the heroine, blue for the hero, other colors for plot points, villain, and so forth.

A plotted book

We turn our sticky notes into an outline. Although three other authors suggested turning points and events for the book, how each of us interprets those suggestions is purely individual. Personal voice and style plus a lot of hours spent working creates a book.   

I came home yesterday with a new Stone Mountain novel to be called WINTER BRIDE, a Stone Mountain Christmas novella called STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS, and the first novel of a new series called the Bride Brigade. (The first of the Bride Brigade is JOSEPHINE.)  At our next retreat that we’re already planning, I’ll work on a new Kincaid novel about Rafe Kincaid, the second of the new series, and a Kincaid novella about Monk.

Each of the writers at this retreat works diligently to keep new work releasing for our readers. But new books don’t just happen. They involve planning and long hours at the computer.  Watch for new releases coming in the future!

Thanks for stopping by!


Unknown said...

That's interesting. It reminds me of those brainstorming sessions we had when I was working at CN. My boss would rent a conference room in a hotel and our team would gather there for the whole day. There were 6 of us and we would plan special issues of Keeping Track/Au fil du rail - the Employee newspaper. It was such a lot of fun. I wish I had friend authors here in Montréal... it would be fun to do this. But, alas, I'm alone in my neck of the world. Oh well! Can't have everything, right? :)

Rain Trueax said...

Very interesting. My husband, who was a process engineer before he retired, said they had some workshops that used this method to get various ideas into their project. Sounds like you all had fun also.

Anonymous said...

Caroline, this sounds like a terrific thing to do. Get a lot of work done, have some fun, toss back a few margaritas. Fantastic!