I respond strongly to visuals when writing, so one of the first steps for me in any new project is to find a few (Very few ... I like to keep my imagination free to make up my own details.) pictures that help set the scene for me.
Like this one:
And this one:
And then I start listening to my characters so I can get to know them. One of the best ways for me to a) get to know my characters and b) create the atmosphere/mood for the story is to build a playlist specific for that story. The narrator of the story usually drives most of the playlist. The narrator of my current project is Rachel and her songs sound like this:
Sometimes, I know a specific scene is coming, and I search for a song just for that scene. For this project, I needed the following song for a scene that happens near the end of the book:
And then I usually head back to Google searching for a picture that most closely matches how I see my main characters.
I never know exactly how a project will sound until I start writing it. For this one, I was 500 words into it before I realized I was writing in present tense. It works for the story, and I like it, I'm just surprised it came so easily without me having to think it through.
So, it isn't much, I know, but that's the project I'm working on now. I even have a working title (a much BETTER working title than the Something Hinky On The Mountain title I had for Casting Stones...), and now I'm off and running.