Why did you write The Iron Horse Chronicles? I wanted to write a compelling story, with interesting characters, that would convey to my grandchildren the importance of the building of the first transcontinental railroad. At the time I started writing, my grandchildren were in middle-school. I originally planned to write for their reading enjoyment. By the time the first book reached the publication stage, they were in high-school. As they were growing up, I decided I needed to write a novel that would appeal to readers of all ages. My editor at Five Star Publishing once called the book a cross-over novel; so, maybe I have achieved my objective.
Do you outline before writing? Yes, I prepare a detailed outline. I create a structure for the book using the three standard elements for a novel: beginning, middle, and end. I work hard to find a “hook” for the opening chapter. This starting point changes frequently as the writing progresses. During the outlining phase, I also establish an “inciting incident,” necessary “plot points,” and a “climax with denouement.” I have read numerous writing manuals and have amalgamated those authors’ techniques into a pattern of my own design. The outline, however, is not rigid. The characters take hold of the story sometimes, and we head off in a different direction. Occasionally, my ongoing research dictates a change in order to keep the story close to the historical facts. When any of these changes happen, I rewrite the outline to match the evolving book. But, I always know where the book will end before I begin.