Saturday, May 20, 2017

Guest Post - Daryl Wood Gerber

Please welcome Agatha Award winning author Daryl Wood Gerber to Type M. I met Daryl at a Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles meeting many years ago. Over the years, she’s given me some great advice. You may also know her as Avery Aames, author of the bestselling Cheeseshop Mysteries. Be sure to visit her at Take it away, Daryl...


by Daryl Wood Gerber  
Are you:
  • Organized or disorganized?
  • Right brain or left brain?
  • Enjoy the process of writing and hate the editing, or vice versa, or a little of both?
I am all of the above. It depends on the day and the mood. Did I wake up on the right side of the bed? (I always wake up on the right side, but sometimes my mood—a lovely cranky girl I call “Moody Two Shoes”—seems to have hiked over to the other side to crawl—um, slither—out.)

To keep myself on track, I start my mornings with exercise. I need to open up the lungs, get fresh air into them, and clear the cobwebs of my mind. All to pull Moody into the game.

Once that’s done, I get a cup of decaf coffee. If I have caffeine, I jitter. No need to jitter through the day. I like the warmth of coffee. And I love the smell. And I have a very special coffee machine that makes decaf taste phenomenal. Kid you not. Along with my coffee, I eat—I must eat breakfast or Moody becomes, ahem, Monster. She definitely is not my writing buddy.

After breakfast and a quickie crossword puzzle—one of the best ways for me to get focused—I face the computer; the blank page; the pages from the day before; the outline. At whatever stage I’m at,
that’s where I start. I’ve read that it’s important to review what I wrote the day before and then start. Sometimes that works for me; most times it doesn’t.

I do work from an outline. That seems to keep Moody in check, but at all times, the outline is a work in progress. I consider it a road map. For example, I could be driving up highway 5 to Northern California and suddenly see a sign to Paso Robles and veer off for an adventure. That’s how my outlines work. I know the basic route. I know where I’m headed. Yes, I know who did the deed and why, but filling in the parts about the other suspects and why they did or didn’t do it is key. I have the basics for each of them when I start, but sometimes their motives require a detour; a kick-start; a revamping. Their whereabouts and the lies they weave need to be revised. Sometimes I take a detour so I can design a day of fun or intrigue for my protagonist. Often I take the detour so my protagonist can encounter a new set of people who might prove valuable with clues. On occasion, I take the detour simply to appease dear sweet Moody because she wants to write something in an entirely different genre! Harrumph!

[Making a note to myself to be more forceful with Moody. She is not the boss of me.]

So, although I start the day with a plan, I have to remain flexible at all times. Just the other day, a character demanded more “page” time. She wanted a big role, not a cameo. I obliged, and in an instant, her history became clear to me. Was that the left or right brain taking over? Was it Moody butting into my “planned” story? Or was it simply me being flexible and open to creative thought? I didn’t care; it worked.

Writing is a wonderful, glorious, exciting, scary prospect. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What’s your process?

Agatha Award-winning and nationally bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER ventures into the world of suspense again with her second stand-alone novel, DAY OF SECRETS. Daryl writes the bestselling COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES and will soon debut the new FRENCH BISTRO MYSTERIES. As Avery Aames, she pens the bestselling CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She has also jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hitchhiked around Ireland by herself.

Twitter: @darylwoodgerber


Rick Blechta said...


Very interesting post. I'd like to give a response, but I'm going to have to put a lot of thought into exactly what it is that I do do. Wait... Isn't that a line from Young Frankenstein?

Thanks for dropping by!

Sybil Johnson said...

Hi, Daryl. After reading this, I realize my process is much like yours. At least the writing part. I do have a routine in the morning that, if I have to break it for some reason, leaves me feeling all out of sorts the rest of the day. I must eat breakfast, read the two newspapers we subscribe to (yes, actual physical ones) and do a word puzzle (Letterboxes) before I do anything else.

Donis Casey said...

So nice to see you again, Daryl. My routine is the same as Sybil's, minus one newspaper. I like the roadmap analogy. I also know my destination, but the way I get there changes many times. I was just thinking the other day that the motive for every one of my killers has turned out to be something other than I thought it was.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Hi Daryl,

I don't have a routine during the school year -- other than writing when I can. That usually means evenings and weekends. Now, that the semester is over, I'm hoping to settle into long writing days.

Thanks for visiting!

Daryl a.k.a. Avery said...

Rick, I loved YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN!! One of my favorite movies.

Sybil, I do the puzzles, too, but only read one paper. Physical - but only one. :)

Donis, thanks! Glad to see I'm not the only one with 1 newspaper. I have to admit that the motive is the most important thing and motives often change to make them stronger. Certainly clearer. :)

Frankie, writing while doing school is very hard. Teaching or studying. But carving out those times to write is so important. Blocks of time. Even if it's 2 hours before school or an hour during your lunch break. Good luck! ~ Daryl

Vicki Delany said...

Late to the party, as usual. Thanks for visiting, Daryl. I always love hearing about all the different ways writers approach their day.