** Blog Tour ** Her Last Breath by J.A. Schneider

Her Last Breath is available now. Purchase link: ‪ 

Her Last Breath, the second psychological thriller by J.A. Schneider, was released yesterday, on October 21st.  #HerLastBreath is the second thriller - after Fear Dreams - featuring highly intuitive NYPD detective Kerri Blasco, Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite…

A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men...
Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can't remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them - or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent...but is she?

I am delighted to welcome Joyce to the blog today as part of the blog tour. She has written a wonderful guest post. Thanks for stopping by Joyce and good luck with the book. 

How I write: AKA The Daily Terror, by J.A. Schneider

I look at that title I just wrote, and I laugh. Easy to do at times like this when I’m between books - one done, the next just starting to form - and I’m staring out at the Connecticut fall leaves turning orange and russet and, behind where I sit on the sofa, the nice aroma of last night’s fire in the fireplace still wafts in the room. It’s kind of absurdist funny, when you’re out of your writing bat cave, to remember what it feels like when you’re in it.
Oh, those twin terrors: the new, blank page, and the question, What happens next?
Which tells you immediately that I don’t outline. I start with the fun part - an idea, the beginning with my main one or two characters and a fuzzy idea of the ending. That’s the exciting part, just letting the new idea start to swirl in my head. Then more ideas come to join the Word doc of notes that I keep - but those notes start to resemble a shopping list more than any semblance of order.
I’ve tried to outline, several times gave it my best effort. Those glorious outlines maybe made it up to chapter four or five…but then what? The final stories went off the rails anyway.
So pare it back down to the naked beginning. And since I write thrillers, they inevitably start with something high adrenalin. Those opening scenes are my favourite, the cornerstone of what reading that story should feel like, with the problem looming to maintain that intensity.
Enter the hardest part: the battle with the first draft. Two of my favourite author quotes are David Baldacci’s “A writer is always terrified,” and E.L. Doctorow’s “Writing is like driving at night. You can only see as far as your headlights.” Other terrific quotes are Tess Gerritsen’s “Do you have the guts to stay with it?” and Stephen King’s “Just flail away at the goddamn thing.” I have a collection of those quotes on a Word doc which I keep open to the left of my writing draft, and those quotes are my crutch, like friends saying, “Hey, we all go through the same thing!”
It’s a comfort.
Another feeling I get when finishing a book is - How in the world did I do that? It feels like that whole story, finally and after struggle, just…took form. It feels like magic, and I don’t remember how I did it! Only that ideas come as I write. Things just finally fill in…although that never happens in the first draft.
Nobody gets it right the first time. You HAVE to do it wrong first to see how you should have done it. First drafts to me feel like descriptions of mountain climbing, where you have to pound spikes, one at a time, into the hard rock face, and then you pull yourself up to the that spike where you’re hanging on, buffeted by wind and lost sleep, and you reach up and bang in the next spike, and the next…until you’re done with the bleeping first draft.
And then you “turn the pile over,” go back to the beginning to see what you’ve got. By this point, the muddy water has cleared (these metaphors do help), and you have a clearer idea of the story. It does get easier after the first draft. Even pleasant with discovery as characters come to life and start figuring things out for themselves. Kinda  like Gepetto carving Pinocchio?
My biggest hurdle is still avoiding the quagmire of re-writing too soon, editing as I go along. I’m still trying to learn to write rough, master the art of powering through, get to the end of the manuscript and THEN worry about the quality, go back and edit.
But I’m not there yet. I still plod away, starting each day trying to get yesterday’s work into better shape, and then I move ahead. Which is better? Writing 3,000 words a day, then having a mess to go back to and edit? Or writing a more careful 1,200 words a day and having them go down cleaner?
So far, I fall in the latter category. But maybe that’s because, subconsciously, I really do have a story structure more clear than I realise in my head. Honestly, I’m not sure.

I’m still learning, and the learning never stops. For the next book, I’ll make another try to get a decent outline down…

About the Author:

J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature - wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means there’ll often be medical angles even in “regular” thrillers that she writes. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

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