Writing Process Blog Tour–Tag, I’m It!

Writing Process Blog Tour—Tag, I’m It!

Many thanks to K.A. Doore (http://kadoore.wordpress.com) for inviting me to participate in my first blog tour.  K.A. is a novelist who is currently working on a story that involves “…camels, lesbian romance, a city in the sky, sand demons, and vast amounts of the undead.”  Be sure to check out her blog.

What am I currently working on?

I write for children and usually have more than one story going at a time.  I’ve just finished a story about a pint-sized Philip Marlowe who solves mysteries at his elementary school.  I’ve written the main character, Winthrop, as a boy who is small for his age but not lacking in self-confidence.  I wanted to create a character kids could look up to, not just identify with.  I’m in the tortuous beginning phases of a story about an old lady whose habit of collecting things is about to be her undoing.  An alligator is scheduled to make an appearance, but I haven’t squeezed him into the story yet.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Here’s where I’m sure to get myself into trouble with potential publishers and agents.  There is always a moral to my stories, though I try not to clobber anyone over the head with it.  Morals seem to be out of fashion.  I often use rhyme and talking animals, both of which will send my manuscripts to the circular file at a lot of publishing houses, if their submission guidelines are to be believed.  I would invite them to introduce themselves to a five-year-old child sometime.  I also insist that my stories have a plot, regardless of how simple the plot is.  I feel a picture book should carry a child through an actual story with a beginning, middle, and end, and not just be a series of cutesy scenes involving one character (usually based on a TV show).  My stories are nothing like those written by the latest celebrity-who-woke-up-one-day-and-decided-to-be-a-writer in that I actually write the stories myself.  That all sounds a little harsh.  Sorry.  Rough week.

Why do I write what I write?

I grew up in an apartment in Brooklyn—eight people stuffed into a two-bedroom apartment that overlooked the back alleys.  It was a bit of a pressure cooker.  I used to sit in a corner for hours with a stack of books and try to disappear.  I felt safe inside a book.  Growing up in a busy city where a trip to the park couldn’t be made without an adult, I learned to make do and stretch my imagination where I was.  Picture books helped me do that and I’ve loved them ever since.  As an adult, I found that crazy ideas would just pop into my head, so I figured I should either be a writer or run for office.

How does my writing process work?

I’m something of a weekend warrior when it comes to writing.  I’ve never been the type who could write in 15-minute pockets of time during the day.  I really need to sit and ruminate when I write, so I’m limited to one day a week right now because of the day job.  Of course, that doesn’t stop my brain from working on a story at other times; but those aren’t sit-down writing sessions.

I usually start out with a general idea for a story (a word or phrase that has popped into my head), come up with a main character, and do a light outline of the plot.  I give the character a name and a few personality traits.  I do the same for minor characters.  With picture books and early readers, you have to keep the plot simple; but if you cheat, a kid will pick up on it in a New York minute. The words have to be carefully selected because a young child’s vocabulary is very limited, but I don’t hesitate to use “bigger” words if the context of the story helps them figure out what they mean.  In other words, I don’t dumb things down.  If I’m using rhyme, I generally only use it for the dialogue.  If I could be said to have a style, I guess that would be it.  I write the rhyming dialogue first, and then flesh out the story from there.  I’ve only written one story that was completely in rhyme (I Don’t Like the Monster Under My Bed–see my “stories” category).  Examples of my rhyming dialogue stories are When the Poor Man Danced and Wombat Wings.  In other stories, like The Cow Tipping Kangaroo of Kangaroo Valley, there is no rhyme at all, just a pissed off kangaroo and a clueless rancher.  Once I think a story is finished, I put it away in a folder for a while and give it a fresh look weeks later.  I need that distance to get perspective on what’s really good and what needs the red pen treatment.  I think I actually enjoy the rewrites more than the first draft.  I don’t yet have an agent or a publisher, but I’m hopeful.

Tag!

Next up is Dawne Webber.  Dawne (http://dawnewebber.wordpress.com) is a novelist and homeschooling mom extraordinaire! 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dawne Webber
    Jul 22, 2014 @ 17:08:46

    I really love your style of writing and can’t wait to read more. It’s exactly what I was looking for when my kids were small, but good contemporary children’s books were hard to find. Don’t give up on the talking animals, or morals. Somewhere out there are an agent and editor who are going to love your stuff! And thanks for tagging me. It’s next up in my queue.

    Reply

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