Over a week ago, my good friend Donna Bowman Bratton
asked if I'd like to take part in a blog tour to talk about my writing process. Donna writes nonfiction and historical fiction for young readers. Her first two nonfiction books for Capstone Press will be released later this year followed by Step Right Up: The Story of Beautiful Jim Key
(Lee & Low, 2015) and En Garde! Abraham Lincoln's Dueling Words
(Peachtree, TBD). Click HERE to read her post
I've been focusing a lot of my time on my clients and the Booking Biz
, my new children's booking agency, so it's good to spend a few hours talking about what makes me write what I write.What am I currently working on?
Well, quite a few things to be honest. I just finished reviewing edits with my editor for an article that'll appear in the debut magazine Seasons of South Austin
. It should hit news stands mid-May. If you want to learn more about what's happening in Austin's hip zip 78704, check out the debut issue!
I've also been busy marketing my clients' work and securing author visits for them. In March 2014, I launched the Booking Biz
, an agency devoted to bringing award-winning children's authors and illustrators to you through school and library visits, conferences and festivals, and book stores and special events. Every day involves the business in some aspect, and I feel grateful to be able to work with such talented people. Not only my clients but the people like me who are passionate about creating lifelong readers and ensuring that children's literature thrives. It's also a joy to know that in some small way, I'm helping to bring authors/illustrators into the lives of children, in a more up close and personal way.
While my agent Erzsi Deak of Hen & Ink Literary Studio
is busy submitting my fiction and nonfiction picture books, I'm at work on a new picture book project. One that didn't come from an idea I had, but rather one my agent passed along to me after hearing editors talk about their wish lists. I love the challenge this project poses. It's a different process when you haven't come up with the idea yourself. First you have to find the story. A lot of brainstorming and crumpled pages end up in the trash. I'm also playing with a rhyming structure which I haven't done a lot with in the past, so I'm eager to see if I can find the passion and inspiration to create magic on the page.How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hmmm. Great question. A little odd for me to answer because my books aren't published, yet. But hopefully what sets my work apart from others of its genres are my characters. Believable. Authentic. Relateable. Endearing. Can't-get-them-out-of-your-head characters.
I think that's what most children's writers strive to do. To create a character so real that the child feels like he knows them personally. That he wants to know everything about them. That he wants to return to them, night after night.
The other thing I think that makes my writing unique is me. My voice. My storytelling. My experiences. My imagination. My heart. My soul. My belief in myself. My belief in humanity. My belief in that every story matters. And every story needs to be told.Why do I write what I write?
I write on the topics of family, friendship, and making a difference. Themes that were in the books that my grandmother read to me as a child. My hope is that my storytelling and character development brings a uniqueness and freshness that children will respond to. I try to be honest. Real. Funny. And unpredictable.
Today, in a world where poverty is rampant, hardship is common, and success has never been more important in society. I want children to be children. To be entertained by books. To be inspired by books. To forget themselves in books. To find themselves in books.
I write what I write because family, friendship, and making a difference is what's important to me. They've shaped who I am and therefore it's my way of giving back to those people and relationships that have made a difference in my life.
How does my individual writing process work?
|First Book I ever Wrote about Friendships (Approx age Gr 3)
It changes every day. Every week. Every year. I think that's one of the things I love about the creative process so much is that I'm still learning. Still figuring out what works and what doesn't. Still fine tuning my process. When something becomes stale, it's time to change things. When something stops working, it's definitely time to change things.
I can tell you this. I write best early in the morning.
I like to write as fast as I can to get a first draft down on paper. I can't really begin to shape a story until I have an ending.
I like to use a dummy book (click here to read a post by Darci Pattison on how to make one)
to write out my first draft. A process I adapted to help me figure out what happens next. As I turn the page I ask, "Now what?" It's also very useful to use when you've got a finished picture book but I also find it helpful at the beginning of the process too.
I REVISE endlessly. I've been told by several of my critique partners that I'm a fast reviser. And a great reviser. This is the best part of the process for me. When I can peel back the layers and find the heart of the story. Sometimes during this process, I find I have to abandon a project. It's just not working. The story isn't there. When this happens, it's time to store the manuscript and begin on something new.
I don't write every day now because of my other obligations but I do listen to my muse. I listen to it and myself and return to the page as often as I can get there. And I don't beat myself up because I can't write every day. I try to be kind to myself. I figure that's the best way to help draw the stories out!
Mark your calendars for next week Monday, May 12th when award-winning author David Elliott
and authors/illustrators Evan Turk
and Andrea Zuill
share their creative process on their blogs.
Children’s author David Elliott
is the creator of the bestselling series On the Farm
, In the Wild
, and In the Sea
with On the Wing
poised to publish in 2014 and the final book in the series In the Past
in 2016. His book And Heres to You
illustrated by Randy Cecil was a New York Times bestseller and his chapter books like Jeremy Cabbage
and The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle
are hilarious and full of heart. David's blog can be found here
is an author, illustrator, and animator working in New York City. He is originally from Colorado, and loves being in nature, traveling, and learning about other cultures through drawing. He is a graduate of Parsons and continues his studies as a member of Dalvero Academy. Grandfather Gandhi
is his first picture book. Evan's blog can be found here
Andrea Zuill is an artist, author, and illustrator living in the San Diego area. Her art work recently appeared at an exhibit at Hamilton Art Galleries
and her first picture book Urban Wolf
will be published with Schwartz & Wade in 2016. Andrea's blog can be found here