Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Hop

I was tagged by Ella (the enchanting, the talented, the hilarious, and the modest) Schwartz in the My Writing Process Blog Hop, so here are my answers to four very simple questions . . . or at least they would be simple if I were the kind of writer who wrote just one kind of thing in one kind of way.

Ah, the weird and wonderful life of the eclectic writer. But let’s see what I can do. 

If you like to glimpse behind the curtain, read on.

What am I working on?

A lot. A series of blog posts about my mother, her mother, her grandmother, and their lives in Jerusalem; Why It Still Mega Bites, the second book in my funny science-fiction series, The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer; trying to figure out how to market my new picture book, Fay Fairy’s Very Big Problem; a blog post about how to publish a picture book with CreateSpace (in part to help others, but mostly so I’ll have a better idea of what I’m doing the next time around); illustrating and coloring my next picture book, Click the Dog;  assembling the parts of a book of photos, entitled Seasons in the Park, which I intend to sell at the next local art fair; catching up with the reviews I have to write for Amazon; trying to cram more things into a day than there are hours in a day; and this blog post.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My books aren’t just different from other books in their genres; they’re different from each other. Until I started working on the second book in The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer, I didn’t even write in the same subgenre twice!

My mind is like a library. I don’t know about you, but I would find it very boring to be stuck in a library that only had one shelf of books, all from the same genre. I don’t like to limit my reading that way, so why would I limit the stories in my head to one genre? I want to write what I want to read; and I want to read, well, everything.  

I am a funny girl, though, and I do try to put at least some humor in everything I write. I like that in the books I read, too. Humor is like salt. It makes everything taste better. Or maybe that’s chocolate. Now I’m thinking about salt with chocolate. Mmm, so good . . . Wait, what was the question?

Why do I write what I do?

There’s a different story behind each story, a different reason why I wrote it.

Most of my stories, though, start with a desperate desire to read something that hasn’t been written yet. I write to fill those holes on my bookshelf.

I wrote Toren the Teller’s Tale for the girls who believe in the magic of stories and want to read a book about a girl like them, a girl who glows with the magic of the storyteller. I wrote it because, when I was a teenager, that was a book I needed to read.

I wrote Why My Love Life Sucks (The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer, book one) for geeks like me who understand that they are the true heroes of this world and who deserve to see a hero who represents us geeks in the kinds of books we love.

I write because these are stories that I need, and I’m guessing there are others that need them, too, whether it’s to give them hope or encouragement or a good cry or a good laugh—or even all of that combined.   

How does my writing process work?

Again, that depends on the book.

Two of them—Toren the Teller’s Tale and Ride of Your Life—started as stories I wrote in my head when I was just a teenager.

Two others started with simple conceptsDan Quixote started with the idea of putting the story of Don Quixote by Cervantes into a modern middle-grade classroom in New Jersey; and Why My Love Life Sucks started with the idea of a comedy based on the ultimate teenage geek hero’s ultimate nightmare.

In every case, the story is complete, or almost complete, in my head before I even write the outline. I’ll also outline chapters and scenes before I write them to give me a kind of roadmap to my story, a clear guide of where the story is going and how I intend to get there step by step.

Having a detailed outline also lets me start with dessert: the scene I’m most excited about writing. I try to go from dessert to dessert. And all those scenes that aren’t dessert? I can skip them until I can figure out a way to turn them into dessert, and sometimes I find they can be left out entirely. After all, the scenes I’m less excited about writing will probably be the scenes the reader is less excited about reading, too.

Toren the Teller’s Tale took me the longest to write, in part because it’s an epic, and in part because I edited it as I was writing the first draft. I wrote the first draft of Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey in under three weeks, and I’ve written the first drafts of several novels—including Why My Love Life Sucks—in under a month during NaNoWriMo. Of course, once the first draft is finished, that’s when the real work begins.

The editing stage of Why My Love Life Sucks took almost an entire year. I wrote several drafts of many of the scenes so I could choose the best one. Sometimes my favorite version of a scene meant I had to rewrite other sections of the novel. A famous actor once said, “Dying is easy; comedy is hard,” and that’s true. Comedy is very precise. You have to get it exactly right, and brevity is the soul of wit, so you can’t have anything extra. I probably ended up throwing out a hundred or more pages of material with Why My Love Life Sucks, but I think all that extra work was worth it.

I know all this editing probably sounds tedious, but imagining the story in my head and editing it until it shines are my two favorite stages of writing. In fact, I enjoy editing so much, I often find it difficult to say, “It’s done now. I have to let it go.”

And now I'll let this blog post go and pass the baton to a couple of truly wonderful writers. 


No matter what you write, you absolutely have to check out Judith Van Praag's, Write Day-In Day-Out blog. You'll see, she is an amazing writer with a fascinating voice:

I'm also excited to pass the baton to my fellow fantasy writer and indie author, A.R. Silverberry, the writer of the YA fantasy Wyndano's Cloak and his latest work, The Stream. Check out his blog at