Well, you can’t call her lazy. She churns out more books in a year than many writers do in a lifetime. And although HM Ward may write fast, she puts care into detail and has created a process that not only maximizes her time, but feeds the beast (her fans) as often as their hunger pangs for more are demanded.
I had the opportunity to connect with HM Ward about how she creates such amazing stories, both long and short, in such little time, how she overcame her dyslexia and her suggests for others who would like to follow her path.
What is your writing process? Do you outline first or do you just pants-it and then how do you revise your work until it goes to your editor?
I map out the story in my head, fully, and then I write it. After that, I go over it once, smoothing and fleshing things out, and then hand it to the first editor. They’ll make notes where I need to clarify, and after I do that, it goes to another editor. Then proofreaders, then publication.
My editors are private. One is my husband and the other is an employee. I’ve tried going outside, but I’ve had trouble finding people that can turn things around fast, and whose judgment I can trust completely.
So, you don’t outline at all?
That’s right, no outlines. And I won’t begin a book until I have the entire thing mapped out in my mind. My formal training is in theology and I was taught to write sermons. My books mirror that style by telling a story through ‘moves.’ Each move is mapped out in detail and characters are decided before I begin.
Most of the time, I give the characters a Myers-Briggs personality profile type. Ivy, in DEMON KISSED, is an INFJ and that book has Calvinistic tones of predestination—it doesn’t matter what you do, your life will still follow the same path. For an INFJ that idea is terrifying. We’re control freaks, idealists, and yes, I’m one.
How long does it take for the story to germinate in your mind, before you start writing?
It varies. Sometimes I have an idea, but not the scope of the story, so I set it aside. Other times it just comes to me, usually because there’s an emotional attachment to the storyline. SCANDALOUS was dreamed up one day and I wrote it the next week. It’s about a missed kiss. One day, I was wondering what would have happened to me if Mike didn’t kiss me that night 20 years ago. What would have happened to us? The story germinated quickly, because it was so personal.
And you do your own covers, right?
Yes, I make my own covers. I do the graphic design. I also shot the covers of the DEMON KISSED series, STONE PRISION, and CATALYST. Recently, it’s been too time-consuming to do my own shoots – I’d rather be writing. But, I still try to choose covers that are evocative, that I’d shoot myself, and that readers respond to. Things that are similar, but different.
How many words do you write per day?
It depends on the day. Max is 14,000 words a day and I’m a babbling wreck at the end. About 5,000 per day is comfy. SCANDALOUS was written in 6 days, start to finish. I was curious to see how fast I could write a novel.
What time do you start writing every day?
I usually try to write in the morning. By the end of the day, my brain has turned to mush. And if it gets too close to bedtime, I’ll spend the entire night turning stories over in my head.
How often do you take breaks?
As often as my physical therapist tells me to or I get yelled at because she can tell. So, every 30 minutes to an hour, I get up and walk around. It’s annoying if I’m in the zone, but necessary.
How long are your novels?
They range from 300-500 pages. I also write serials – which I really enjoy reading and writing. Those tend to be around 150 pages.
What does the first editor of yours do that the second editor doesn’t?
The 1st editor looks for structural issues with the overall story, timeline, and my word choices. I’ve been known to drift into writing poetry at times. His job is to pull it back to common usage so the reader is reading the story and not distracted by the words.
Why do you use more than one proofreader?
Because there’s more than one typo. I’m dyslexic and have Irlen syndrome. In other words, I can’t see very well at all. Reading is difficult and I can’t catch my mistakes. Proofreaders help me catch the typos that the first two rounds of editing missed.