Our next guest on the Crime Cafe podcast will be Leanne Kale Sparks.

Along with her guest post, Leanne is giving away the following:

  • A signed copy of The Wrong Woman
  • An FBI coffee mug with Kendall’s favorite coffee
  • Swag

Contest details are listed below, so read the post. Then enter the giveaway!

On that note, let’s hear from our guest!

* * *

Without a doubt, the most asked question, between “how do you come up with your story ideas,” and “how can you sleep at night with all the horrors you think up,” is “what is your writing process?” I’m usually surprised readers are so interested in this. I get other authors wanting to know—we’re usually trying to see if we’re doing it right.

At any rate, as far as writing processes go, mine can best be summed up as chaotic. Or perhaps, varying from project to project is a more apt description. I know many popular writers who have a system down. They write each book the same way, in the same space, and in the same manner they have found works for them.

Yeah, that’s not me…

I tried for many years to figure out what my writing process was and stick with it. After all, these highly successful authors know their process, I should know, as well. And be able to create masterpieces the same way each time.


Finally, through many years of trial and error, I have finally accepted I have no set writing process. Which is actually a writing process, if you think about it. I can’t tell you the weight lifted off me just accepting that one short sentence.

Lately, I have been writing in my office, especially since I have it set up just the way I want it, something else that took me an abundance of time to get right. Plus my husband bought me a really nice chair, so my bum is happy there, as well.

During this latest project, I was reminded by an author friend of a program I have (used once and it didn’t work for me at the time) which allows me to sort of map out my story. This makes it possible for me to see where there are plot holes, move chapters around, and it looks nifty with all the colors I have for different characters. I’m a very visual writer, so the colors help me see the story.

Will this work for the next project? Your guess is as good as mine!

My prior manuscript I wrote at the kitchen table with sticky notes (an item in just about every author’s toolbox, along with favorite pens and various writing snacks). It’s basically the same idea as the software I mentioned above, but physically being able to move them around. Plus, they have really amazing colors these days! Of course, my husband wasn’t really thrilled about the table not being able to be used for its true purpose. But he too has had to come to grips with my deranged writing process, and he goes with the flow (for the most part, but I suspect that’s why he bought me the cool chair).

I have also written at coffee shops, but that can get expensive after a while—but the people watching and eavesdropping for story ideas is phenomenal. In my last house, I had full walls of whiteboards (yes, it was as awesome as it sounds) and would map out my stories on them. Before that I had huge post-it notes, you know the ones that are used for corporate presentations, but I gave up on those because they don’t stick to the wall very well. Not very conducive to keeping track of the storyline, so those had to go.

Part two of the process comes after I have finished writing the first draft and receive my developmental edits back from editor. Typically, there is a written summary of how wonderful the story is, and the (many) areas of concern that need some work. Then the track changes in the actual document, which point even more things which need to be improved.

The only part of this process that never changes is the 24-hour cooling off period. That’s when I get my edits back, review them, realize my editor is an idiot and doesn’t understand brilliant writing and storytelling, and storm off, cursing them. The following day, I decide to take another look at the edits, and realize they are actually spot on and my editor is a genius, and I send her a basket of mini-muffins because I called her some pretty nasty names the previous day and I feel guilty.

Once I am at peace with my edits, the tumultuous process of going through edits and making corrections begins. I know what you’re saying—surely that process is the same every time? Alas, that too is topsy-turvy. Sometimes I will print out my entire manuscript and write my edits on that. I admit this does not happen very often because I hate having to then type everything into the word document. On a few occasions, I have not understood my notes, or can’t follow the arrows to changes or additions I want to make. Now, typically, I will set up my big monitor and edit on that. It frees up my laptop to do any last-minute research or hit the thesaurus because I’ve used the same word 1,579 times. Also, my eyesight isn’t what it once was either, so the big screen means bigger fonts, and less strain on my eyes. By the way, getting old sucks.

After all the edits have been done by various editors who focus on different parts of the manuscript, it’s time to send my baby out into the world. By this time, I am so proud of my story (and also sick of it because I have read it at least a hundred and twenty times) I happily hit send so the publisher can work their magic to get it ready for release day.

Then I throw up, and drink copious amounts of wine, because of the massive plot hole I thought of (that doesn’t exist, but the mind has a sense of humor all its own and is cruel) and the realization that readers will hate the book, and I will have to declare bankruptcy because no one buys sucky books.

Then release day comes, and the sales numbers start going up, and the reviews are good, and life is worth living again. And I start the whole process over again with a new book.

And to think I chose this career and love it!


So, to enter the giveaway, just follow one of Leanne’s social media accounts (listed below) and leave a comment!

Instagram: @lmksparks
TikTok: @leannekalesparks

After a brief career in criminal law, Leanne Kale Sparks is returning to her first love—writing about murder and mayhem. The backdrop for her books is the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the playground of her youth, and the place that will always be home. When not writing, she and her husband spend time reading and spoiling their German Shepherd, Zoe, and Corgi, Winchester. And drinking wine.

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