All right, let's get down to business...
THE QUESTIONS. Da-da-dunnnnnn!
1) What am I working on?
I'm about 3/4 of the way through the first draft of my sequel to DANIEL THE DRAW-ER, my best-selling Middle Grade fiction book. The first book came out in March, and demand has been so high for the second book, that I started working on it in May. I'll just take a moment to point out that writing a book during summer break, with four boys and a husband around, should be considered a strange and unusual form of punishment.
As for DANIEL THE DRAW-ER 2 [working title], this time we get to tag along with our favorite boy artist/superhero on his first trip to summer camp. While away at Camp Bigfoot, Daniel gains some unwanted attention from a girl he calls Glitter Pony . . . But, oh, I'm not ready to give away too much! You'll have to check back later, once I finish writing Daniel's story.
2) How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Middle Grade fiction is a really huge genre, so I guess if I were to narrow it down more, my Daniel series are humorous fantasy stories. The concept itself has been done before (Simon In the Land of Chalk Drawings, anyone?), but the magic here is really the imagination and sarcasm of my young main character. He says what most kids think but are too afraid to say out loud. He struggles with Math and hates meatloaf, like a lot of kids, too. Even though Daniel has a magic pencil to draw temporary solutions to his problems--which always end up back-firing, mind you--kids and adults see themselves in the pages . . . and then they lose themselves in the pages. It's my own brand of magic.
I also write Young Adult (YA) fiction, contemporary and paranormal. Although I have yet to publish any of my YA books, they're coming. Maybe I'll do another Writing Process Blog Tour when that time comes so I can tell why my YA books are different from others.
3) Why do I write what I write?
I write the stories I would want to read, plain and simple. For DANIEL, I wrote the story my younger boys (now 10, 8, and 5) would want me to read to them. It was important for me to write a story that I, as a parent, would laugh at just as much as my little chuckleheads. From my reviews on Amazon, I'd say I've been successful at getting the adult vote.
And, good Heavens, I needed to put a big ix-nay on the fart/pee/poop jokes. I'm looking at you, Captain Underpants! You're amazing, Dav Pilkey, but you are literally killing me! Other than a passing mention of someone burping or needing to use the bathroom, you'll be happy to know there are no fecal-themed villains in my books.
4) How does my writing process work?
There's a process? I must have been absent that day.
Actually, I do have a process. Follow closely:
You want more? Okay. I mean, it's really about sitting your tookus in the chair and getting out the words--good, bad, or ugly--but I understand if that answer isn't to your satisfaction.
WRITE. Yes, I write. Slowly. Some of my friends can crank out 10k words in a day, and I'm like, "there are ten thousand words in the dictionary?" An absolute blistering day of writing for me is anything above 2k words. I like to think this turtle-pace speed is because I'm constructing my word house so well I won't have to rip it apart the next time around. It's not true, but it helps with morale during the first draft, at least. Really, I'm slow because I never really know what I'm going to write until it clicks out of my fingertips. I'm what the literary world calls a "pantser". It is somehow slower flying by the seat of your pants than one would think.
Depending on what kind of story I'm working on, I'll aim at anywhere from 14,000 words to 50,000 words. Middle Grade books tend to be shorter because, well, squirrel. YA books drift to the long end of the spectrum because teens have soooo much time to read and junk. But, honestly, I don't stop writing until the story is done. This sometimes means that the story I thought would be over in 14k words ends up closer to 25k just because. A writer can't control these things.
Writing also involves much consumption of coffee, Diet Coke (poison, I know!), and Cinnamon Fire Jolly Ranchers. I believe these three things are major food groups, and also literary devices.
BETA READERS. Once I finish my finish the first draft, I send it to a few readers to gauge early interest, and to see what works and what sucks. I'm told this is a big mistake, but I like it. My mom gets to tell me how wonderful I am (again!), and my friend gets to annoy me with her insistence on drawing plot diagrams.
REST. Whilst my lovely guinea pigs--I mean, beta readers--are reading, I either take a break from writing or work on another story for a couple of days or a week. Usually I can't stay away from writing completely, but I also usually need to think about something else for a bit. And let the sunlight hit my fluorescent skin.
EDIT. Once the desire hits me to look at my first draft again, I'll take a peek. My memory's not so great, so usually this first re-reading is full of moments where I go, 'Huh. I don't remember writing that at all." Here's where I fxi miy typoes and delete my repeated repeated repeated words. Then I'll promptly do a "Find/Replace" for all of my favorite overused words ("that" usually wins that prize) and the dreaded double-space.
EDIT AD NAUSEUM (A.K.A. A LOT). Like, literally until I'm nauseated. This one speaks for itself, I think. Somewhere during the editing process, I usually send the story out to a few more BETA READERS. Just in case they weren't sick of it yet, too.
PUBLISH! BAM! My Publishing Process Blog Tour is a whole 'nother blog post. Someday I'll share it here, if I haven't already. Riveting stuff, folks!
I hope you've enjoyed learning a little bit more about me, and my anti-process writing process. Ive loved having you here in my humble home on the Interwebs. Please take a moment to say hi!
When you're done saying hi, click here to visit the blog of my friend and critique partner, Karen Mahara. Karen's one busy lady. She's going to fill you in on how she makes her writing process work while juggling three young children (twinnnnnns!).
P.S. Make sure you send her gift cards for mani-pedis or Starbucks or something. I think she deserves it!