Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sex, Lies, & Hot Tubs: A day in the writing life of author, Elissa Ambrose

Thank you to CLP Blog Tours for asking if I would like to host Elissa Ambrose on my Book Nook. She is a fellow Zoni so you already know she is cool!  Please sit back and enjoy Elissa's delightful guest post on the day in the writing life of an author. 

Elissa Ambrose, Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs

My Typical Writing Day

Thank you, Michelle, for inviting me to blog about my typical writing day. This was a real challenge, since a typical writing day doesn’t exist for me. I do, however, have a typical writing pattern. It consists of three phases, and my day revolves around whatever phase I’m in.

Phase 1: the concept. This is when I get a new idea and run with it. I dream, I plan, I scribble. I live it, I breathe it, I sleep it. I could be at the park or in the kitchen or in a crowded restaurant—and out comes the pen and notebook. Even a paper napkin will do. In Phase 1, I go about my normal life; i.e. reading, working out, cooking, etc. If I sit down at my desk and try to force inspiration, it doesn’t come and no amount of coaxing, begging, or bargaining does any good. In this phase, I go out a lot with writer friends. We talk, we laugh, we brainstorm. We’re famous at Starbucks.

Phase 2: the first draft. For me, this is the most difficult phase. Fact is, the story has already been told, and I don’t feel like telling it again. There’s just one problem. Except for those practically illegible pages that have meaning only to me, my writer friends, and my hypothetical therapist, it’s all in my head. I know that you’re thinking—why not just skip the first phase and write by the seat of my pants? When it comes to fiction, I’m a plotter. Maybe it’s because I used to be a programmer or maybe it’s the Virgo in me, but I always have to have a plan. Long story short, I’m itching to get to my favorite part, the revising, but I can’t revise something that hasn’t been written yet, so I have to force myself to write. I wake up, have coffee, and stare at my monitor. I check my email and then I try to write. I check Twitter and Facebook and then I write a little more. In this phase, I’m constantly looking for distractions. This is where the doubt sets in, and I ask myself, am I a real writer? This is where coaxing, begging, and bargaining actually help. Especially the bargaining. If I throw down ten pages, I get to eat that last chocolate truffle. Twenty pages? A whole slice of cheesecake.

Phase 3: revision. I once read that real writing is in the rewriting, and I agree. This is where my characters flesh out and the story gels. I mold and shape, cut and rewrite, edit and polish. When I’m in this phase, I’m oblivious to the world. One year my husband was out of town on business while I was working on revisions for Harlequin. On that last day, I started at six in the morning (which was remarkable, considering I’m not much of a morning person), and didn’t lift my head until 4:00 on the dot when, um, nature called. And then I realized that it wasn’t four in the afternoon—it was four the next morning. Not exactly a typical writing day, but close to it when I’m in this phase. Must be the programmer in me, this love I have for detail.

While I don’t have a typical writing day, one thing remains consistent. I don’t stop until I’m done. Must be the Virgo in me striving for order. Or maybe I’m a real writer after all. Isn’t that what a writer does? Try to make sense of this thing called life?

Check out Sex, Lies, & Hot Tubs:

If a woman tries to preserve a marriage that has been damaged by infidelity, is she heroic or is she delusional? How many times does her husband have to cheat before she calls it quits? How many times does he have to get caught?

Meet Ellen Dunwell, doting wife, loving mother, high school teacher extaordinaire. She’s worried that her husband, the respected Dr. Jeffrey Dunwell, successful dermatologist, wonderful father, great lover, is having another affair. A man of many interests, Jeffrey also dabbles in real estate. But Ellen won’t confront him about what she’s sure is his latest interest, his perky new lab assistant, Keeley Wilder. She doesn’t want to sound like a shrew, but worse, what if she’s right? As if that’s not bad enough, her friends don’t understand her, her neighbor’s son is a Peeping Tom, and her angst-ridden teenage daughter is stashing pot in her room and dating a control freak. When Jeffrey suddenly disappears, Ellen nearly slips over the edge. Instead, she pulls herself together and sets out on a mission to find him—only to get caught up in a web of intrigue and danger, where nothing is as it seems and the stakes are her life.


Elissa Ambrose was born in Montreal, Canada. After graduating from McGill University with a degree in English, for some strange reason she embarked on a career in computer programming. Seventeen years later, after an amicable parting with technology, she returned to her first love—the written word. First she was an editor at a company that produced educational material, and later at a literary magazine. Prior to Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs, she published four romances with Harlequin and several short stories. Along the road to publication, she raised two daughters. She and her husband now live in Arizona. (Yes, it’s hot. But it’s a dry heat, remember? And you can’t shovel heat.)

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