Monday, September 23, 2013

How Authors Write- Melissa Petreshock

Today I welcome Melissa Petreshock to the blog. I met Melissa on Twitter through Erin Albert (thanks Erin!) and convinced her to share her writing process with us. So, here's Melissa!

About Melissa:
Debut New Adult paranormal/fantasy romance author, Melissa A. Petreshock lives on a small farm in rural Kentucky with her genius husband, three exceptional children, and their feline overlords.

When not inhaling or exhaling words, she subsists on unnatural doses of coffee, sarcasm, and music. Melissa can often be found singing and dancing around her house or randomly doing Zumba routines, if not playing Wii Just Dance with her kids. She also fangirls The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Falling Skies, and True Blood like a total freak. 

Spending most of her time weaving myths, reality, and imagination into a fantasy of dragons, deities, vampires, and elves in a world she created, Melissa often forgets she lives where there are no dragons or faeries in the woods surrounding her house. (But she never stops hoping...)

Now for her writing process!

What do you write?
I write NA fantasy/paranormal romance. Although I prefer not to think of it as paranormal, its seems in this era of publishing, anything that has a vampire in it automatically qualifies as some level of paranormal, regardless of what other elements of fantasy you have in it.

Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs? 
For me, 1st person seems to be the only way I can write. The characters become so real to me that I feel it’s necessary to tell the story through their eyes. I connect closely to them and want to the readers to as well. In the Stars & Souls Trilogy, I write from multi-POV because I found that’s the only way to relay the full heart of the story. In Fire of Stars and Dragons, the entire book is conveyed from Cait, Theo, and Corrin’s POVs. I’m currently working on the second book, Blood of Stars and Gods, and have added in a fourth POV for an additional perspective. The final book, Eternity of Stars and Crowns will also be different. [Very cool! I've read 1st person books with 2 POV's, but never more than that. I can't wait to see how you handle that!]

How do you get started with a book- is it an idea, a character, vary from story to story? 
With the Stars & Souls Trilogy, the concept arose from the idea of the Dracopraesi dragons first. I had ideas for their characters, the species and mythology behind the dragons, and things built out from there. The actual story of the books went through massive changes before it became what it is now.

I would say that most ideas I have come from characters that take root in my head, but there are ideas I have based on plot concepts I want to explore later down the road when I’m past this trilogy. However, I have a great deal of plans for additional standalone novels within this same world and possibly a YA trilogy offshoot from this world.

Do you draft quickly or are you more detailed in your draft?
Haha… No. I’m terribly OCD about my writing and painstakingly detailed in the work I put out, even in a “rough draft”. I take as much time as it needs, though I finished Fire of Stars and Dragons, from rough draft to full MS I queried to my publisher in 7 months, and that was including a MAJOR overhaul revision/rewrite I did. It just poured out of me. I loved it so much.

Blood of Stars and Gods is a much slower process because there is a great deal happening. As the second book in the trilogy, it is the arcing book between where everything began and where everything ends, so there is a lot that goes on to develop the plot and characters in preparation for the third book. It’s more complicated and also more emotional.

Do you do research before your first draft, during?
Most of what I want to know for basing my mythology, I research and have notes on prior to the first draft, though if I decide I need to add anything else, I generally know going into a chapter and prepare before writing the chapter to prevent interrupting the flow of that chapter as I work on it.

Do you outline? How?
I don’t technically outline, but I write up a summary of what the story in the book is about then let the characters fill in the details. My writing style leans toward allowing the process to be very organic and developing characters that take on such a life of their own, they tell the story themselves. I know where I want it to start, the highlights I want to hit along the way, and the ending destination, but my characters may take me on a different path than I originally thought we’d go, and I love it. They are amazing characters. [This sounds quite similar to my process.]

Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on? 
I can’t stand to leave anything left undone. Before entering into a chapter, I know the elements of fantasy that will come into play and map out things I need, names of characters, creatures, languages, mythology, and keep my notes on hand while writing. If I’m referencing anything that’s happened in the past, I also go back to double check those scenes to make sure I’m correctly quoting or citing the event to keep story continuity. I’m an absolute stickler about continuity.

Do you work with CP's (Critique Partners) or Beta's (Beta Readers)? How soon into your draft do you let them see your work? 
The beta team for the Stars & Souls Trilogy is AMAZING. They are dedicated to ensuring I write to the best of my ability even if that means harping on me about the smallest details that bug them. To carefully keep things in order, be sure that I maintain pacing, good character/plot development, and don’t fail in any areas of continuity, I release chapter by chapter during the first drafting process. They help me from day one to see where I need to make improvements. What makes sense to me as a writer doesn’t always make sense to a reader. They pick up on that, and by sending it to them early like I do, it allows me to begin fixing errors before they become significant and require too large of revisions and rewrites.

After the first draft is finished, I have them do a full read through, send me feedback and notes on what they think could be improved then I go into my first run of edits/revisions/rewrites with those notes and my own ideas of what I want to improve. When that’s finished, they go through another full read through. This goes on until we’re all satisfied it couldn’t possibly be any better without the help of a professional editor through a publisher. That’s when it goes on.

This is the process that worked to land my publishing deal, and I don’t plan to sway from it anytime soon, or ever. [Sounds like a great plan- it clearly works for you!]

What books/websites have you found most helpful to helping you write your best?
Reading books on how to write has never been my thing. Writing and writing and writing to the point of crafting better and better stories is more my style. When I couldn’t think of original characters and completely original stories, I dabbled in fan fiction, played with other people’s characters, just to practice the art of storytelling and writing. I never stopped writing, practicing, and seeing how I could do it better.

Reading books just for the sake of reading has also always been important. I read and see the stories with great characters I love and stories that use them in amazing ways. I read stories with characters I adore and feel distressed at how a wonderful series drove into the ground, destroying incredible characters. I read excellent stories with dreadful characters. I also read dreadful stories with horrendous characters. There are things to learn from all of these, strengths I hope to show in my work, weaknesses I want to avoid.[That's an interesting approach. I agree in reading widely, and that learning both what to do and what not to do is important.]

As for websites/blogs, I’ve been a longtime subscriber to Nathan Bransford’s blog and simply adore him. After I got closer to knowing this was IT and I knew this was THE ONE that would get published, I became a bit braver and started following Chuck Wendig’s blog. His is not for the squeamish, thin-skinned, faint-of-heart writer. He’s a whole lot of shock and awe and OMG and WTF, did he seriously just say that, but he’s awesome, and I learn so much from his blog.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
-Embrace criticism. There is a lot to be learned by the things people see wrong with your writing, even more so than from what they see right in it. [Great point! While it's nice to hear what good, I know I always want to know what's wrong so I can fix it!]

-One or two beta readers are not enough. You need a team. You need people in and out of your target audience, those who typically do and do not read your genre, and those of varied socioeconomic backgrounds if possible. Spread your beta team to a wide group of readers just as you expect to have a wide audience buying your book. They will all see different things in your writing that you don’t, different things that need work. [This is something I've never thought of, but I can see the value it would bring. Great idea!]

-Building connections, author branding, and creating a social media presence are not things that can or should wait until that “OMG I think I’m going to make it with this book” moment. Cultivate relationships early. You’ll stress out trying to do too much later on if you wait, and in this day and age, you cannot survive as a new author without a social media presence. [THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!!! I still struggle with the social media stuff. But, I like to think I'm getting better at it with time and practice.]

-Writing is not quite the lonely career it once was. There are great writers to connect with on Twitter. Spend some time connecting so you don’t go crazy. For too long, I felt holed up and isolated by spending every day, all day, writing. The world doesn’t work that way anymore. [I LOVE hanging out on Twitter (and I see Melissa there a lot, too!) so if you're looking for people to follow, look us up! @mewtweety14 and @macpetreshock]

What do you have out now, or coming out? Any upcoming events? A website we can find you and your books at? An author photo? A booktrailer? Anything else you want to share?
Stars & Souls Trilogy is a New Adult fantasy/paranormal romance set in a world filled with shapeshifting dragons, a powerful demigod, an ancient vampire monarch, and a sassy human chick keeping them all on their alpha male toes.

Fire of Stars and Dragons… Undying love. Timeless bonds. Eternal consequences.
Coming March 2014 from Swoon Romance

In 22nd-century sovereign America, archaic laws declare 21-year-old Caitriona Hayden a neglected dependent following the death of her uncle, landing the sassy and self-reliant high society young woman in the midst of a trio of quintessential alpha male suitors in a world where human females should be seen and not heard.

Theo Pendragon claims her as his ward, ordained to guard her through to a long-awaited destiny unbeknownst to Cait, but finds more than he expected when passion ignites within the dragon for the first time.

Always drawn to the pursuit of knowledge rather than the heat of desire, powerful demigod Dante cannot deny everything his future holds in Caitriona.

America's monarch, ancient vampire Corrin, has no interest in the frivolity of love, yet marrying Cait could be the answer to his continued survival.

Thrown from studying for college exams to facing matters of life and death, eternity and destiny, loyalty and love, revenge and deception, Cait must choose a husband knowing the consequences are eternal, the love undying, the bond timeless.

Blood of Stars and Gods… Blood saves. Blood lies. Blood runs between sacrifice and gain.
In progress. Release to be determined.

Finding Melissa A. Petreshock Online:

Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Instagram: @macpetreshock

Thanks so much Melissa! I can't wait to try out some of your process for myself!!


  1. Thanks for inviting me to be a part of your blog, Mary! I had a great time answering your questions and look forward to the character interview series we have planned! If anyone has additional questions about my writing process or anything else, I'll be watching the comments. :-)

    1. Thanks for participating! I loved hearing about your process and can't wait for our character interviews!!

  2. I love your bio and I have to agree, writing isn't nearly as lonely as it used to be with all the social media friends.

    1. Haha. Thanks! I try to make it amusing and sarcastic like me. :) And definitely, much has changed in the writing world. When I first started writing seriously, I had lots of problems with depression because of how reclusive a life it was.

    2. Love my social media writer friends. I've met some in person, and can't wait to meet more of them! They do take the loneliness out of writing.

  3. Too cool chicks together for an awesome interview! WOOT!!


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