What I’m Working On

Thank you so much to Betsy Devany for tagging me in her blog post, “My Writing Process.” I met Betsy at Jane Yolen’s Picture Book Boot Camp.  You can read her blog post here: http://betsydevany.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/my-writing-process/

1) What am I working on?

I have a lot of irons in the fire. I like to rotate what I’m doing. Each month I pick one to polish, one to rewrite, and try to create a new manuscript or two. I’m also in the process of searching for an agent, so I’ve spent a lot of time “stalking” different agents trying to learn who they represent, what they are looking for, what they love to read. I’m sending to just one or two agents a month as I search for one who I feel will appreciate me as a writer and help me take my career to the next level. It’s a very slow process. 🙂

My new manuscript is called Four Forts. It’s as close as I get to Fractured Fairy Tales, and is a fun kid twist on the Three Little Pigs… but with 3 fails, and one success, which is a sweet twist in the end. It includes a bit of sibling rivalry, the youngest child syndrome, and filling in the hours of a boring summer. It’s in the raw stage, and will head to it’s first critique round next week.

My rewrite is I Wanna Grow Up. It reminds me a bit of a bunch of comic strips. Each page has a punch line. It’s a very open manuscript where an illustrator can have a ton of fun with it.

I’m also working on a manuscript about welcoming a new baby. I know, been done, right? I have a fun royal twist on mine and it’s received great feedback so far. It’s pretty polished, but I’m sitting on it to see if I can find anything else to change before sending it out.

I’m also getting ready to rewrite the Great Art Project, which went through a round of critiques a few weeks back. I like to sit on the critiques before rewriting. This one does need a pretty big overhaul.

And of course, I’m still reworking Mad Kid Scientist into a chapter book. I ended up with a crazy hamster character that took over… so I’m sitting on it to see if I went a bit overboard, or if it works.

And I’m sending out No Need to Wake Mommy after it’s been greenlighted by a few groups. It’s a cute, whimsical book about a proud child who doesn’t want to wake mommy after she accidently falls asleep in a chair reading a book with no pictures (because we all know that’s why she feel asleep). Alex is thirsty, but that’s OK, “No need to wake Mommy,” he’s a big boy!

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It’s mine. 🙂 I know, not the answer an agent or publisher wants. When I write, I try to accomplish a few things:

1.) I want to get down to a child’s eye level. I was once told I was writing from a parent’s bird eye view. It was the best advice I was given, as I can now catch myself writing as a parent, vs writing as a child.

2.) I want my stories to be a read it again book, with some child interaction.

3.) I look for ideas I haven’t seen on the shelves, read in a review, or pulled off the library. I do realize at this point there are no original ideas. But I try to find fun twists to make them mine.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Because the idea pops into my head, and I start to “read” my story. If it’s fun, I write it down. My stories that make it into my stage 2 list are the books that flow out. They rattle in my head, and then the pressure becomes so strong that I have to get it out on paper.  Sometimes the pressure isn’t strong enough and I turn on the faucet…. unfortunately, sometimes the idea just trickles…. those stories very rarely get finished.

But for the most part, I write what feels right. I have a very diverse style. When I was at Picture Book Boot Camp with Jane Yolen, Jane asked us to submit 2 manuscripts before the camp. I sent her No Need to Wake Mommy, and Plip Plop. They are two very different stories. Jane made me smile when she said that I have an unusual range of writing abilities.

4) How does your writing process work?

A story idea will pop into my head. POP.

It begins to take shape. Sometimes it’s a character, or a refrain, or a plot.

Then it starts to grow, and grow, and grow… and I have to run to a computer to catch it before it’s gone.

The process can take 10 minutes, or it can take 24 hours. Unfortunately, if I have an idea and don’t get it out when it wants, it’s lost until it pops up in another context.  I do PiBoIdMo, but the only ones written are the ones I write asap, or the ones that keep coming back to me.

I’ve explained it to kids like feeling as if you want to vomit.

320px-smirc-puke-svgYou just don’t feel like you can do anything until you get it all out. But once you do, you feel so much better.


Yeah, I know, gross analogy! Sorry you asked?


And with that note, I’m happy to pass the baton to:

Sophia Mallonée! 
She is a former artist’s agent, wife to a photographer, mom to a toddler and writer of children’s books. She is also the founder and a contributing writer at The Red Door Blog for writers. In the past, Sophia has also written and edited for television. For more information about her, and to follow her Writing Process, visit www.sophiamallonee.com.

My other tag teamer isn’t feeling well, and I haven’t had a chance to find someone to replace her (Well, she’s irreplaceable!) So I’m going to share her blog with you anyway.

Donna Martin is someone who I know from Facebook. She’s always one of the first to help out comment when someone has a question or is feeling down. She also has a great blog. Go on over and visit her! http://donasdays.blogspot.com/



Why I do it…

My horoscope the other day told me to reflect on my “dream”, and figure out what it is about my “dream” that has me so focused to keep going. As an unagented author, with one published book, I sometimes feel like giving up.  Funny how my horoscope knew this….  But it told me that once I grasped the knowledge (my why), things would fall into place.

It so happens that I read that paraphrased horoscope after finishing a favorite children’s book A Little Princess.

After reading this book, I was so happy. I loved reliving a story that I’d read before. I loved visiting the attic, hanging out in the schoolroom, and walking the puddle filled streets.  I imagined myself, penniless, in rags, trying to be noble. And I felt like a stronger person. A better person… all because I had a friend between the covers of a book.  The book left an impression on me as a child, and an even bigger impression as an adult. It helped shape my ideals in who I wanted to be. It let me visit a world I’d never get to see as a middle class girl growing up in Iowa. The book was a friend, an escape, a memory, and something I would always take with me. Once I read a book, no one can take that from me. It’s mine to cherish. It’s a part of me.

When I don’t have a book and I’m on long drives, or laying in bed, I tell stories. Sometimes I’ll even stare out the window and daydream. My stories allow me to go outside of who I am. They become my friend, an escape, a memory. Some of them, the stories I dwell on, I want to share with others. I want to introduce others to my characters. I want them to become friends with my friends (who aren’t imaginary to me.) I want them to jump inside my imagination, or experience something I’ve seen or heard.  I want them to get excited to turn the next page. And when they are done, I want them to feel satisfied.

That is why I write. I want to do for someone else what great authors have done (and still do) for me.

And now that I know and understand why I write and why I want my books out there for the world to see, things can begin to fall into place.

What’s your why?