Shutta Crum, Michigan author extraordinaire (MINE!, Thunderboomer, Dozens of Cousins, etc), tagged me to participate in the ongoing Writing Process Blog Tour. Shutta's effervescence is her calling card, and just underneath it lies gobs of talent as a writer, poet, child whisperer, storyteller, mentor, and role model. I feel lucky to have crossed her path in life. Visit her website and you'll see what I mean.
Week after week, writer by writer, the Writing Process Blog Tour asks and answers 4 seemingly-simple-but-surprisingly-complex questions about how we write. Then we’re tagging others to post their answers, as well. My answers follow below and information about the person I tagged is at the very bottom. Be sure to scroll down so you can learn about her.
What are you currently working on?
If all goes well, I’ll have two picture books (one nonfiction nature and one fiction humor) ready for my agent by September. I have one picture book (fiction with nonfiction underpinnings) and one historical MG on submission and another picture book that will be going out soon. Hopefully there will be post-contract revisions for all of these soon!
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Right now, I am a multi-genre writer. However, I am a nonfiction (nature) author. The tagline on my website is “writing at the intersection of fiction and nonfiction” and that concept resonates deeply to me. If I can narrow in on a reality-based topic that is new and tell it in a fresh and fun way, then it’s a HOME RUN, baby!
Why do I write what I write?
If I hear, see, feel, taste something unknown to me, I often wonder if there is a story in it. Like every creator, I’m on a continual quest to learn and I love sharing what I learn with others – particularly children. When I see the light turn on in the eyes of children who read my stories, I know the hard work is worth it.
How does my individual writing process work?
I wouldn’t be Quickly-Bored Me if I didn’t have several picture book and novel projects in various stages of development. Here are my typical stages of a developing manuscript:
Get pinprick of an idea > write, revise > maybe there is something there > write, revise > like it enough to keep working on it and do some research > write, revise > send draft to my critique group > revise the heck out of it > run draft through crit group again > write, revise > ask secret ninja reader to react to it > write, revise > send to agent > write, revise > manuscript goes out to the world
More often than not, my pinprick of an idea doesn’t make it to the end of the cycle. If I lose steam on it, the passion isn’t there. One day, I asked my agent, Jodell Sadler, which project she thought I should focus on next, and she said, “Pick the one you care deeply about and jump in there.” It was great advice and it helped me realize we could work together effectively. She could have said, “Do X project because it is more commercial” and blown the flicker of my enthusiasm right out.
I do almost all of my writing at my computer, but carry notebooks and favorite pens with me everywhere. I write best after movement/exercise and will often solve issues with dialogue or characterization or plot while out in the woods or on the water. My first two books, A Warm Winter Tail and A Cool Summer Tail were born because of my experiences in Nature. (Yes, capital "N" because Nature is my best writing partner and I’d be lost without her.) Here are a few scenes from my trails...
I'm tagging Jennifer (Jenn) Chambliss Bertram who is an author to watch. In total transparency, she is in my critique group and I know how strong a writer she is. But I chose her for this blog tour because she a great example of how talent + experience + hard work leads to success. She's paid her dues as a writer, journalist, editor, student, and teacher. When she had her first baby, landed an amazing agent, and secured a three book contract in a matter of months, we weren't surprised, but we were very happy for her. Visit her website and stay tuned for her debut, The Book Scavenger, in 2015. Go Jenn!
This blog shares insights on the craft of writing children's books and the publishing industry, and supports creators and educators on their journeys.