Do you know what a blog hop is? I didn't either, until a writing friend tagged me. (And now that I know what it means, I still dislike the term. It sounds so...hoppy.)
But this is a blog hop about the writing process, how it differs for each writer, and I'm always curious about topics like that.
Last week B. L. Draper, the above-mentioned writer friend, described her writing process on her blog. I'd encourage you to go over and sample a few of her excellent stories.
B L Draper lives in northern Australia where she teaches by day and writes by night. She has stories published by Youth Imagination Magazine and Spellbound and hopes one day to complete her novel before she’s too old and senile to enjoy it. Online she can be found at www.bldraper.com
For today's blog hop, I'm supposed to answer four questions. As a survey/questionnaire addict, I enjoyed this way too much.
What am I working on?
I write like I cook. Here's an illustration:
It’s ten minutes to fancy dinner time, with five dishes started. One is mostly ruined, one mostly finished, and the rest somewhere in between.
Right now I’m concentrating on two middle grade novels, loosely based on my childhood.
Growing toward the Sun has themes of growing up and being a good example. It also contains a mini-mystery that any kid could picture him/herself solving.
Full Moon, Half a Heart follows the same characters through a cross-country move, with themes of accepting change, dealing with hard times, and — again — growing up.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My characters are set in my world: a Mennonite community in small town/rural USA. There aren’t too many books about Mennonite kids, and not very many books that fall into the gray area between contemporary or historical. I describe my books as Little House on the Prairie set in the late 80's, early '90's.
Why do I write what I do?
I’m writing what I know, which I find nostalgic and fun.
The main reason I write what I do, though, is there aren’t a lot of modern books suitable for Mennonite kids.
My mom screened my books closely, which meant I read a wagonload of classics before I left home at 18. Classics are great, but what about hesitant readers? I would’ve read the dictionary, had nothing more appealing showed up, but not all kids are like that.
I want to write books and stories that are simple, relatable, stimulating, and wholesome. Plus fun! I want to write for kids with moms like mine.
How does my writing process work?
Wait a minute. We're supposed to have a process?
Uh, remember that fancy dinner illustration? I’m going to keep building on that.
That dinner started long before I stepped into the kitchen. A week earlier, while I waited at the car wash, I flipped through cooking magazines for ideas. While I washed dishes one evening, I planned my menu. I prepped veggies and set the table the day before.
Like dinner, my stories begin long before the actual writing.
By the time I started to cook, that dinner was finished in my mind, the dishes steaming on the table, spoons ready to dig in.
When I sit down at the computer, the books and stories I planned earlier transfer easily to paper.
It’s a great feeling.
Why, I muse, this is the best meal ever. The best story I’ve ever written. And the easiest. How quickly I finished. What a breeze.
I look closer. Sample a corner. Blech, I added way too much salt to this, stirred this too little and too late. Something must be done!
Oh, but I don’t have time or energy right now, so I’ll shove it to the back burner. The guests will be content with this. Or with that. Or...
Tomorrow is another day.
Do you smell something burning?
There you have it: a glimpse of my writing life. Next week, you can peek into the writing process of two more writers, both friends of mine.
May I introduce:
There's magic all around us, if we just know where to look. Angela Castillo has a goal as an author; to help people see. She comes from the small town of Bastrop Texas, where she loves to walk in the woods and shop in the local stores. Castillo studied Practical Theology and Music at Christ for the Nations in Dallas, Texas. She was home-schooled all through high school and is the oldest of 7 kids. Castillo's greatest joys are her little girl and two boys, who 'are the best inspiration for writing ideas.' Castillo has been published in The First Line, Aardvark's Ark, Heartwarmers, Thema, and several other publications, and also has works available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format.
Find out more on her website.
Jade Beals is a short story writer and aspiring novelist. She earned a BA in English from CUNY Brooklyn College where she received awards for her creative writing and academic work. Besides her literary pursuits, Jade enjoys nature walks, loose leaf tea, and Classical music. She resides with her husband in the suburbs of Massachusetts.
Read more about Jade on her blog, Blush of Dawn
The closer I get to finishing my middle-grade novel, the more I think about publishing it someday. (Possibly!) The more I think about publishing, the more I think about book covers.
A writing friend designed her own cover for inspiration after the temporary cover she paid for didn’t fit the bill. Her cover is so creative and fun.
I thought about trying something like that, but lately I haven’t been feeling very crafty. (No, not the fox or squirrel kind! You know what I mean!)
Then I remembered some photos I’d come across on Katie Troyer’s blog about Amish and Mennonites in Sarasota, Florida. I went back and scrolled through pages of photos until I found one that fit each of my works-in-progress.
Three little girls with bare feet below their bright dresses became Celeste, Farrah and Karolyn in Growing toward the Sun.
A lonely looking girl sitting on a fence became Celeste in Full Moon, Half a Heart, after she left Kansas and her friends.
Katie was gracious enough to let me use her photos, and also allowed me to edit them to fit my characters. (In other words, chopping all the heads off!)
The photos fit my stories, give me a visual writing prompt, and add color to my page. Thanks, Katie!
For a colorful glimpse of Amish and Mennonite life in Sarasota—-volleyball and bike riding in dresses, happy children in bonnets and hats, and old gentlemen shootin' the breeze-—hop over to Katie’s blog.
Two years ago during an unofficial NaNoWriMo attempt, I wrote the story of one (traumatic, busy, change-filled) year of my childhood.
What began as a sort of memoir for middle-graders has been revised and pruned and expanded into a (too-long) piece of fiction about a twelve-year-old named Celeste. It's still not where I want it, but it's closer.
Most, if not quite all of the events in Full Moon, Half a Heart actually occurred, but they've been ruthlessly embellished and altered. Most, if not quite all of the characters are no longer recognizable as real people, not even family members and best friends.
I like that. It feels less gossipy.
This year, in my normal backwards fashion, I wrote the prequel to Full Moon, Half a Heart, also based on one year of my life. The year I wanted to be a detective.
(To be honest, I wanted to be a detective for more than one year, but that was the year I really wanted it.)
I outlined this time, using what I learned the hard way from my last book. The words streamed out, the way they often do when I have a deadline. I loved every minute of writing it.
Now, I've put Growing toward the Sun on the back burner until after New Year's, at least. I'm letting it simmer while I work on other projects and get ready for Christmas.
I miss it, though. Funny how one can fall in love with one's own characters, one's own story, in one hectic month. Letting my story rest is like hoarding that last Belgian chocolate: it keeps circling my brain, tempting me.
No, I'm not touching it. No.
Here, eat some celery and get away from that drawer!
(We'll see how long I last.)