Last week, I was tagged by the talented Rebecca Colby to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Her first picture book was just released! The title is THERE WAS A WEE LASSIE WHO SWALLOWED A MIDGIE. You can read more about it and her upcoming book, IT’S RAINING BATS AND FROGS, HERE. Rebecca and I are in the same awesome critique group. Her stories are just fantastic! I know we will see many more books from Rebecca. HERE is the link to Rebecca’s post about her writing process.
Participating in the Writing Process Blog Tour means answering four questions and then tagging fellow writers who will join the tour. Here are the four questions and my answers.
1. What am I working on? Right now I’m working on several manuscripts that I’m excited about. I think I have some fresh ideas that will tickle kids’ funny bones . . . and funny is the kind of stories I like to write. I giggle at several lines when I read through the stories, but then there are a bunch of lines that fall flat, too! So, as we all know, that takes revision, revision, revision. Revision is definitely a love/hate thing, isn’t it? It’s frustrating, but oh-so-rewarding at the same time. Of these several manuscripts, top on my list is a fractured fairy tale. I adore fractured fairy tales and it will make me especially happy if I can polish this one up and get it to my agent.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? Now that is a hard question. I do work really hard at making sure my stories are fresh and not similar to other picture books that are already published. That’s not to say that I don’t try rewrites of familiar stories or tales. In fact, I’ve done several of these. But, they must have a twist or something that sets them apart. If I can’t bring that something special, then I set the manuscript aside until I can. Of course, I have several that will never nest between end papers. Those are my “practice” writings 🙂 And you know that thing that everyone talks about—voice? I try to bring my Penny-ness to everything I write. I want my humor and writing style to come through and make the stories mine.
3. Why do I write what I do? It is insane how excited I get about reading books! Giddy! Gaga! I read them. I hug them! I could go bankrupt buying them if I didn’t exercise self-control. Kids are like this, too. In fact, something happened today that made me come back and edit my previous draft of this post. When this happened I had the BEST answer to this question. I was subbing in a 2nd grade classroom with the most precious classroom of kiddos. One of them, who is blazing his way through the Harry Potter series, said to me, “I just love books!” And I said, “I just love books, too!” And he said, “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love books!” That is the reason I write what I do! To give kids stories they will love.
4. How does your writing process work? First of all, my writing process doesn’t always work! LOL! But, essentially, I jot down every little scrap-of-an-idea that goes through my brain. Then I research to see if similar books are out there. If there are, I either look for a twist or move on to the next idea. Once I feel good about going forward with the idea, I write a draft. I have a tendency to edit as I write which frustrates me but I can’t seem to change that about myself. I revise that draft several times before sending it to my critique group/critique partner. I know there are authors who don’t use critique groups/partners, but mine are key to my writing process. Most of my manuscripts go through critique at least two times.
Also, I’m constantly adding to the list of sources I use to give my stories that once-over and polish! I refer to these as checklists of sorts for my manuscripts. Here are some of my favorites:
Susanna Leonard Hill’s lessons from her class, Making Picture Book Magic. I’ve taken her class twice. I feel it’s a roadmap for a manuscript. I took it the second time to discipline myself to have a new manuscript in one month’s time.
I refer to Ann Whitford Paul’s book, Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication and to Linda Ashman’s book, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. They are both wonderful resources.
Even looking through the list of Susanna’s lesson titles or the Table of Contents in either or both books will make me take a second look at my story.
Also, Alayne Kay Christian’s List of Questions for Critiques has been a really nice way for me to attempt to look at my story as if I were critiquing it for someone else. I can’t totally step away from my own work, but Alayne’s list is helpful to me.
I am tagging two writers who have become writing buddies. I have great respect for both of them and the contributions they make to the writing community. I am in several Facebook groups with them and fans of their blogs.
Meg Miller is a stay-at-home mom, children’s book writer and an artist. Her love of picture books began at an early age; she even wrote and illustrated a series of books about mice families when she was in elementary school! Meg is the creator of ReviMo—Revise More Picture Books Challenge. Read more about Meg HERE.
Stacy writes (picture books and memoir). She designs (websites). And she eats (chocolate). She also blogs about picture books, memoir, writing, and “life in general”. You can learn more about Stacy HERE.