Friend and writing colleague Emily Lim has tagged me in the Writing Process blog hop that has been making the rounds. Thank you, Emily!
I know Emily through Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 and Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and now we’re both taking Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write For Middle Grade online/home study course.
She’s a writer with many books to her credit, including picture books, early readers, e-books, and most recently, her memoir Finding My Voice. You can read more about Emily in the aptly named “About Emily” section on her blog, and I urge you to click on the tags in the sidebar word-cloud to see the extent of her experience and outreach.
For my answers to the Writing Process questions, click the magic words…
1. What am I working on?
My major focus at the moment is Emma Walton Hamilton’s Just Write For Middle Grade course. I am learning so much, and having so much fun with this course. I’m not even halfway through, but already I know I would highly recommend it if you’re thinking about writing middle grade novels — or even if, like me, you have been writing MG for a while. I am working on a new manuscript for this course. It’s a story I tried to tell in picture book format in the past, but which I think will have a greater impact as a middle grade novel.
I’m also working through a revision of an adult novel that has been in the works for a few years now. It’s a set of characters I love, particularly the protagonist, and a theme that is dear to my heart in many ways. (And because I like to hold my cards close to my vest, that’s all the information I’m going to give!)
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Probably the main difference with my writing is that nearly all of my manuscripts, whether picture books, middle grade novels, or adult novels, have some sort of arts theme or thread running through the story, generally relating to theatre, music, or film. My writing often features protagonists — or alternately, major secondary characters — who are males and involved in the arts.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I write to speak to kids (and adults) whose interests are perhaps not mainstream, who may have felt out of sync with the culture around them and may have felt that they don’t fit in with their peers because of this. I write to show how involvement in the arts can lead to many things, including greater self-awareness and self-esteem.
I write to help kids (and adults) see the strength they have inside them, when they see how my characters learn and grow and win out over their difficulties, over the bullies in their lives, over the difficult circumstances that life has thrown at them. And I write for the kid who is still inside me. I write the books she would like to read, the books that would give her strength.
4. How does my writing process work?
I generally write in the mornings, although that is flexible. I’ve always been a pantser, but I’ve recently discovered (thanks to Emma’s course) that I *CAN* benefit from an outline. I just had to learn the type of outline that is best for me. I believe this will, paradoxically, give me more freedom in my writing.
I used to write scenes from here and there all over the story, then try to stitch them together into a cohesive plot. I have abandoned that approach, and even when “pantsing” I start at chapter one and work my way through the story systematically, in order. I like to think things out before writing them — I suppose that was my way of outlining before Emma helped me to a break-through in that regard. When I need to think something out before going on, it helps if I’m moving — walking, driving, or in the shower. (Never discount the value of the Thinking Room, that small room with porcelain furniture. Great ideas have been born in that room.)
After I finish a draft, and my cherished “First Reader” has commented on it, I set that draft aside, and bring out another project. There’s always something to work on! Everything gets a turn at being on the back burner, and being the work in hand and mind. And things are made to wait their turn! There is an adult novel pleading with me to be written, but except for the basic idea and the first few pages, it will just have to wait.
Well, that’s enough from me! Now you get to hear from three other people, as the rules in this blog hop ask that I tag three others. All three of these women are writers or writer/illustrators whom I’ve “met” through Julie Hedlund’s 12×12. I’m very grateful to them for their friendship, and for allowing me to tag them to keep the blog hop hopping.
JACQUE DUFFY has written and illustrated seven children’s books in a series. These books were placed into Queensland State schools and libraries. One book has been used by mental health groups as a counselling tool for children made homeless after numerous natural disasters in Australia and New Zealand. It has now been digitized by the Queensland Education Department for special needs children.
Her picture book, THE BEAR SAID PLEASE, published by Wombat Books, is used in the National Curriculum Grammar Strategies books in schools alongside books by her heroes Jane Yolen, Mem Fox, Jackie French, Jeannie Baker and Narelle Oliver.
Jacque is an active member of various writing and illustrating organisations in Australia and internationally. She is heavily involved in the literary and arts communities, attends and presents at conferences, festivals, television and radio interviews, and conducts workshops. Her artwork has won many major awards and is in galleries and private collections around the world.
Her website is Jacque’s Art and Books.
JANIE REINART is an author, educator, National Writing Project Fellow, storyteller, and poet. Some of her publications include: Love You More Than You Know: Mothers’ Stories About Sending Their Sons and Daughters to War (Gray & Co., 2009/ eBook 2012), Letters and Meatballs (Learning Horizons, 2008), Learn About Time (Learning Horizons, 2007), and Puppies (Know-It-Alls), (Learning Horizons, 2001).
Her project for mothers’ stories about sending their sons and daughters to war has its own website, Love You More Than You Know.
Janie blogs at the GROG blog, along with other talented writers and illustrators.
Author and photographer TERRI DEGEZELLE has more than 60 children’s non-fiction titles published as well as several photos in national publications. She was awarded the 2010 Shabo Award and the 2012 Loft’s McKnight Award Honorable Mention from the Loft Literary Center. Terri is a presenter at Young Writers’ and Young Artists’ Conferences around the Upper Midwest. She enjoys performing at school visits and inspiring students to follow their dreams.
Terri’s blog/website is coming soon! Stay tuned! (I’ll post the link on my Facebook page when it’s ready to go.)