Process? I'm supposed to have a process???!!! After 20 years and 17 books, now's a fine time to tell me! This is what I do. I write a book, celebrate, then panic when I realize I have to write another one. Oh wait, you want specifics, right?
Okay--the first thing to come to me is usually the hero and heroine's names. Next up is their personalities. THEN I come up with a plot. And I've always required a BIG PLOT because that's the skeleton I build my story on. I like Backstory, Characters Who Meet As Children, Big Hooks, Masquerade Balls, Amnesia, Evil Twins, Stolen Kisses, Shocking Revelations! Which means I usually start out with about a dozen scenes that I "know". Each scene I "know" usually leads to 3 or more scenes that come as a pleasant surprise to me.
I'm a perfectionist with a very stringent internal editor. (Yes, I edited this blog 6 times.) So it usually takes me 6 months to write the first 200 pages and 6 weeks to write the last 200 pages. There's a reason for that. It's called DESPERATION. Once that deadline clock starts ticking, I'm able to knock that nasty internal editor off of my shoulder and the story starts pouring out of me. And the strangest thing of all is that those are the pages that usually require the least editing! It makes me nervous to talk about process because I'm one of those writers who prefers not to analyze the magic and the mystery of what we do. I can say that I've always ascribed to the Jill Landis theory of writing--"I can write a book in 6 months. It just takes me a year to do it."