Happy Monday everyone!
I normally take Monday off from Blogging, but when Lizzy from mylittlebookblog invited me to join in on the My Writing Process Blog Tour, I was willing to make an exception. For anyone who hasn’t been over to see Lizzy, I highly recommend a visit to her page. Not only will you find insightful and honest book reviews, but also inspiring words. Her page is the kind I hope will one day be reviewing me as I get ready to publish later. On top of having a great blog, Lizzy is a sweet person who has been wonderful and supportive as I began my blogging journey. Bloggers like Lizzy are the reason people like me are able to not only get started, but keep going.
As a part of the blog tour, I have four questions to answer, so I hope you will bare with me as I muddle through my random writing thoughts.
What are you currently working on?
I am actually working on quite a lot right now. I tend to have more than one manuscript open, as it allows me to shift back and forth when I need to. Sometimes I hit a block on one, and it is nice to have something else to work on for a while. Mainly I have been working on three.
The first I started almost a year ago, a young adult paranormal tentatively titled The Death Of Jane. Well sort of paranormal. It revolves around a girl named Jane who is trying to live her life, in spite of her death. While there is a lot about the story that involves the paranormal side, the paranormal aspect is more of a metaphor for the other struggles in her life that she needs to overcome.
The second is barely started, and still very much in the planning stages, a young adult story about how a pair of best friends relationship changes as they attempt to have relationships with other people. While I like writing fantasy or paranormal stories, this is meant to be real. Adolescent relationships are complicated, and sometimes they need to be realistic to get their message through.
The last one I am actively writing is an upper midgrade novel about a seventh grade student and her friends as they prepare for the science fair. This novel was very much inspired by my daughter, and her focus on school over drama. It seems like there aren’t enough stories out there that talk about how great it is to be a smart young girl.
I’m also working on adding details to a few others in the outline stage, mostly so I don’t forget the plans I have. A few will be fantasy or paranormal, a few will be realism, and at least one will be a slight combination of the two. I like to leave myself open to variety in writing instead of committing myself to just one age or genre at this point. I am still working on developing as an author, and I don’t want to discount something that might work for me. The only thing I have limited myself to is staying within the chapter, midgrade, and young adult area. Getting people to start reading young has so much benefit for life, and I like being even a small part of that.
How does your work differ from others of your genre?
What I hope to be known as, is an author who writes for young people but does not talk down to them.
When I was working with children, I spent a year running a classroom for infants. I know, classroom for infants sounds weird, but that was what we were. We took care of them physically, emotionally, and cognitively. At the time there was another teacher who would always come into my room and start in with the high pitched baby talk. Not only would I ask her to stop, but I would remind her that baby talk is bad for language development. A child learns to speak because they listen to the sounds we make as we speak; if we want them to learn to speak properly, we need to speak properly to them. This is the basic idea of how I worked with children of all ages, and of how I raised my children. If you expect a child to be a reasonable and intelligent being, you need to treat them like one.
Here is the example I used to give parents. From the moment your child is born, you never make them do any of their own cleaning. You follow them around, picking everything up and putting things away. You never ask them to do anything, and they never volunteer. When they move out, would you expect them to know how to clean their own house? No, of course not. So, if you shelter your child from information they might not understand, only use little words, and never challenge them, do you expect that one day they will open their eyes and be an intelligent and thoughtful person? No. Their intelligence needs to be nurtured. I assume a child will know what I am talking about, and encourage them to ask questions if they don’t. This not only teaches them new information, it also teaches them to actively pursue their learning.
When I write, I have a tendency to treat my characters how I would want my readers to be. I write intelligent characters because I think intelligence has value. I think more young people should be proud of their brains, and not afraid to admit both what they know and what they don’t know. I like to use words that might be a challenge for the readers. There is no reason to make things too easy all of the time.
Why do I write what I write?
I would have to say about 90% of the stories I write are inspired by my daughters. It comes from the people they are, the things they say, and the interests they have. I write about smart young girls because I have smart young girls and I think that there should be more people their age who are proud to use their brains and not care about drama. I write the stories they tell, and I try to write the stories they would want to read. I write what I write for them, and for kids like them. They inspire me to be a better person, and they help to make my characters feel real.
One of the stories I have going right now sprung from a conversation I had with my 12 year old. She came home and told me about an argument she had with a friend about homosexuality. Not only was I proud that she had formed her own opinion, and happy it was one I happened to agree with, she also had a reasoned argument supporting her claim. She gave me an entire philosophy on relationships and love that would never have occurred to me when I was 12. It pointed out to me how different our lives are; the relationships of my children will be different than I experienced.
Another story I am starting is based on a Halloween costume my younger daughter asked me to create. She wanted to be a superhero, but she wanted to make her own. As we spoke, the hero she created told me so much about her own fears, it inspired a character based on this hero.
Of course the other 10% of my writing is not about my daughters. I also have nieces, nephews, a great niece and a couple of great nephews. I’ve worked with so many children over the years with so much personality, and creativity, and I write for them. I want one day for one of my old preschool students to be picking up ‘Mrs. Shannon’s book’ and maybe see a little of themselves inside the pages.
How does my writing process work?
This one is probably the hardest one, because sometimes I’m not sure it does. I guess I would have to divide my writing process into two parts, the preparation and the actual writing.
During the preparation, there are a lot of things I work on. I don’t always have an actual outline, but I do try to always know how the story ends. It’s like planning a vacation; the journey is important, but if you don’t know your destination, you’ll never know when you get there. If I have been recently stuck, I might be working from a notebook with the next few immediate scenes outlined, sort of like a roadmap to get me back on track.
The other important part of my preparation requires me to set my desk up to remove distraction. I get some chores done, removing the distraction of a long to do list. I make sure I am wearing comfortable clothing; it can be pajamas, yoga pants, jeans, or even a dress, as long as it is comfortable for the day. If I have digging waistbands, or a too tight shirt, it is a distraction. I also make sure I have a drink, and maybe a snack. I want everything I can possibly want at hand, right next to me. I don’t want to need to get up from writing unless it is vital. I also place my phone a little away from me. I can’t turn it off usually; if there is an emergency with my kids, I need to be able to answer the phone. I want it close enough I can hear if it rings, but far enough away I’m not looking at every little bing. I might put on music, I might not. Whatever I play, it has to be the right music, not something I will need to change every song or so.
The second part of my writing process is the actual writing. Here, there is only one thing. I write. I don’t always know exactly what I am going to say, and sometimes it isn’t much but I put out as much as I can. I have found I work better with a deadline, so I make goals for myself. I give myself a required word count for the day, and write until I hit it. Sometimes it is crap, and is likely to be deleted, but it is still better than sitting and not writing at all. On top of the word counts, I also try to plan a goal when I want everything finished. I always know I might not make it, but if I give myself permission to slack off, even a little, I won’t hit my goals.
When it is time to write, I try to just focus on the writing. I don’t want to get up for anything, I just want to write. I follow the muse, and write whatever comes naturally. It’s not always something I can control, and it doesn’t always take me where I want to go, but it is the only way I know how to work. It is what feels right to me, and therefore it is what works.
The final part of the My Writing Process Blog Tour is to pass the baton onto other writers. I am still new enough that I don’t know many other writers who are currently blogging out here. Instead of inviting specific writers, I am putting out an open call. I encourage any of you to take a little while, and post your own writing process. Answer the four questions on here, share your inspiration and thoughts, and invite other bloggers to join in on the fun. Post your work next Monday, July 7th, and post a link in the comments here so we can all see how you work.
Thanks for listening everyone!