Guest Post: J. P. Barnaby and Little Boy Lost

Last year, I was fortunate enough to befriend J. P. Barnaby, first online as fellow Dreamspinner Press authors, and then in person at GayRomLit in New Orleans. When she asked if I’d like to be a stop on the Little Boy Lost blog tour, needless to say I jumped at the chance! Like many others, I waited for the last book to be ready before I started reading the series; I’m halfway through as I write this, and I’m so glad I waited, because there’s no way I would’ve survived the wait between releases. It’s highly recommended reading for everyone. 🙂

My Writing Process

By J. P. Barnaby

J. P. Barnaby with her books set up at OutlantaCon in Atlanta

J. P. Barnaby with her books set up at OutlantaCon in Atlanta

Shae Connor challenged me a little with her topic request. Until I sat down to write this blog post, I didn’t think I had a writing “process.” I’d start with a blank page—sometimes paper, sometimes electronic, and then I’d make use of it, writing until there’s nothing left to say. As I thought more closely about Shae’s questions, other things came to mind. I send my books for a read with my critique partner Rowan Speedwell at around 25,000 words because somewhere along the way, I lose my confidence. I don’t outline. I don’t plan. I listen to my characters and tell the story they want me to tell. So, I guess I do have a writing process after all. So, here it is—everything I’m consciously aware of—the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright bizarre.

The idea

J. P. Barnaby with Eden Winters, Tom Webb, and Shae Conno

J. P. Barnaby with Eden Winters, Tom Webb, and Shae Connor

A story always starts with an idea. Whether the idea is plot-oriented or character-centric, it has to start somewhere. Usually, it begins with a single scene playing in my head like a movie. I see it so clearly, it might even be in HD. No matter where I am—the office, the car, the shower, whatever—I get to a notebook and pen. I have paper and pens scattered like shrapnel all through my life. I keep them in my computer bag, my purse, my office, my bedside table, my car, the bathroom, and anywhere else I can think of. I never know when inspiration is going to strike. I write down everything I can remember about the scene: the players, the action or dialogue, the time of day, the time of the year, emotions, colors, everything that comes to me because I may not come back to it for a long time. When I get to a computer, I log my notes into a new OneNote notebook, and if I’m not on a tight deadline, I might play for a while and take advantage of the inspiration finding images of the characters or setting to match the scene in my head.

Planning Phase

I don’t really plan. When I’m ready to start actively working on a project, I’ll sketch out a bit of a timeline, but generally, I just start writing.

J. P. Barnaby at a book signing for Brush Strokes in Atlanta

J. P. Barnaby at a book signing for Brush Strokes in Atlanta


Mostly, I write out of chronological order. Whenever a scene comes to me, I write it down. When I string together enough scenes, I write transitions between them and then I have a book. I keep the scenes, research, character profiles, and any notes I have in OneNote 2010.  I don’t put in chapter breaks, I don’t massage it in any way until I have at least half a novel. Then, I usually go back, start from the beginning and more clearly define what I have. It’s about that time when I lose confidence in whatever I’ve written. I read it again and again to shape and mold it so that I can start the second half, but by the time I’m done, I’m sick of looking at it

The second half usually goes better than the first.

And because it’s always good to have eye candy when you write, adult model Travis Irons, who came to support our signing in Atlanta

And because it’s always good to have eye candy when you write, adult model Travis Irons, who came to support our signing in Atlanta


When the first draft of the novel is finished, I send it to an entire group of people. I get it to the woman I pay to edit my manuscripts and to my critique partner, Rowan Speedwell. I also send it to about ten prereaders who I trust to tell me not only what they like about the manuscript, but what they don’t. I encourage them to give me honest and open feedback so that I can change what I need to change before it is published.

My editor polishes things up, highlights my overused words, and makes comments (usually, at least a hundred). I spend several days going through her edits and her comments to make the manuscript the best I can make it. By then, I’m receiving feedback from the pre-reader group and I evaluated and make or discard their suggestions.

Once the book is finished, I send it to the publisher and the process of editing starts all over again.

The Little Boy Lost blog tour continues June 25th – July 24th . Make sure to comment at each stop for more chances to win some really great prizes such as an entire series autographed to you by J. P. Barnaby. For additional entries – tweet about the tour including @JPBarnaby and #LittleBoyLost.

Tour Schedule:

Little Boy Lost is a coming of age story about two teenage boys—Brian McAllister and Jamie Mayfield—growing up gay in rural Alabama. The six book series chronicles their lives as they navigate through peers, parents, and porn, desperately searching for the perfect combination of circumstances in which they can be together. Through their journey, they find friends, pain, acceptance, loss, and most importantly, themselves.

July 2–July 9, Dreamspinner Press will offer the first book in the Little Boy Lost series for free on their site and books 2–5 at 20% off in celebration of the release of the final book, Sacrificed.

About J. P. Barnaby

As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.


4 responses to “Guest Post: J. P. Barnaby and Little Boy Lost

  1. Shae thank you for creating this blog post and asking JP about her writing process.

    I have always been curious about how other people approach writing and if my style was just “odd” since I tend to write things out of order and then go back over it to string them together.

    So glad to know a famous author does something similar and I am not the only one with pen and paper by my bed.:-)

    JP thank you again for putting together this blog tour. I know it is a great deal of work but your posts are very enjoyable to read and most illuminating.

  2. It’s always fun to read how other writers approach their process because it seems like everybody does it a little differently. I’m impressed that you made it through an entire six-book series without an outline!

  3. I like the cinematic scene approach…in my experience, the odds are if you can see the action unforld, so can we.

  4. Shadow – It would be kind of normal if I just had paper and a pen by my bed, but they are literally EVERYWHERE. LOL 🙂

    Joe – I kind of had an outline, but it was in my head. 🙂 I knew where it was going and kind of what would happen – but mostly, I just listened to the boys tell me where they were going.

    Trix – That’s just what happens. I don’t plan it, I just find that when my mind isn’t otherwise engaged (shower, about to sleep, etc) – scenes come to me like movies. It’s kind of weird, actually. 🙂