I am happy to be participating in the My Writing Process Blog Tour, which has been touring the world for many months across genres, and if we are lucky, universes. Kind of like the Starship Enterprise, now that I think about it. Or a big, fat juicy chain letter with a little more raison d’être. Picture book author and illustrator Wendy Wahman has passed the baton to me and luckily,writer, app builder and general creative force Sarah Towle, reminded me last night on my way to hear LOS CALCHAKIS perform the MISA CRIOLLA (pretty wonderful). Wendy is a treasure trove of animal fun as well as graphic appeal. Check-out her books below!
With Time Traveler Tours & Tales, Sarah has managed to build a castle out of air, whimsy and history and make it sturdy and watch it thrive! And she’s written a gorgeous middle-grade novel (the one she’d love Wendy to illustrate) that we look forward to finding a home for SOON! So with the baton up in the air, here are my answers to the tour’s four key questions and tags (watch out for that baton!) to authors Laura Gehl and J.M. Lee for July 28th below.
What am I working on? As a writer, I’m always working though it may look like I’m doing anything but that, since staring at the passing clouds or pondering a dream in deep sleep does not writerly look). Currently, I’m working on a sequel to my book, PUMPKIN TIME! (illustrated by Doug Cushman and hot-off-the-Sourcebooks-press) and figuring out a harvest-and-gardening boot tour across the US with not-to-miss fantabulous points of interest (Turkey would be proud!).
How does my work differ from others of its genre? PUMPKIN TIME is a fabulist picture book with reality at its heart (ie, gardening, the harvest – and pie!). What makes Evy and Turkey’s picture book story stand out from other gardening books is just that, the fantastic stuff happening around them and Evy’s incredible focus. It’s really a story about process and getting out there every day: hoeing, planting, weeding, watering and finally, baking. Upon rereading, I see that the story could very easily apply to what we writers and illustrators do everyday – hoeing, planting, weeding, water and finally, baking. Lucky for Evy, Turkey is there. We all need a pal in matching gardening boots to make the process seem painless (emphasis on seem!). Thanks to illustrator Doug Cushman for making the back 40 doable!
Why do I write what I do? Does one really have a choice? The muse. The writing malady. The love of the way words interplay amongst themselves and in picture books the interaction between text and images. In longer work, whether an article for a journal, a short story, or a novel, I write what I do because it’s what wants to be written when I agree to write it!
“In the writing process, the more the story cooks, the better. The brain works for you even when you are at rest. I find dreams particularly useful…. You can only learn to be a better writer by actually writing. “
— Doris Lessing
How does my writing process work?
As I also am an agent and an editor, my writing as a writer has shifted. These days the process remains the same in that I’m always thinking about Story and jotting notes on bits of paper, napkins and errant notebooks and even more often, on my phone, but the actual act of pen-to-paper, butt-in-writing-chair, etc., that happens when I make a date and set aside time specifically for a project; then I work a lot of nights and weekends to make the writing “magic” happen. We all know there is no mystery to creating anything: One just has to do it one word at a time, one seed at a time, one inkblot at a time. I’m not one to procrastinate, so juggling my different hats, I departmentalize and determine when is the writing moment and start chipping away at Story and word and world building. Oh, and those characters. Gotta build characters I want to hang out with, that’s for sure.
TAG, YOU’RE IT (on July 28th!)
I’m thrilled to be able to tag Laura Gehl, whose picture book ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR (Beach Lane) is receiving terrific reviews across the board and whose first two books in the PEEP AND EGG series are due out from FSG in 2016. Laura writes a monthly column, “Ask Dr. Cyborg,” for Odyssey, a children’s science magazine, and writes about scientific and medical topics for a variety of other child and adult publications. Her first three picture books will debut over the next year: ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR in September 2014, followed by AND THEN ANOTHER SHEEP TURNED UP and HARE AND TORTOISE RACE ACROSS ISRAEL (both from Kar-Ben/Lerner) in February 2015. Laura’s best ideas come from her four young children. She is a prolific writer, as well as a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Hen&ink Coop! She’s blogging at henandinkblots this month. You can also check out Laura’s new website: www.lauragehl.com
And then there’s Mr. Lee, winner of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Author Quest with his book, THE RING OF DREAMS, now titled SHADOWS OF THE DARK CRYSTAL.
J.M. (Joseph) Lee is an author, illustrator, and writing mentor with a background in linguistics and film. He writes cross-genre action adventure and draws faces with really dramatic eyebrows. On the side, he enjoys dabbling in experimental short fiction and drinking a lot of coffee. http://action-danger-intrigue.tumblr.com/ and http://www.joeyverse.com