Middle-grade and children’s writer Dionna L. Mann tagged me in the Writing Process Blog Hop, a colossal chain letter of writing insight. Thanks, Dionna!
First a little about Dionna L. Mann. I first got to know her vivid, poetic writing through her middle-grade novel, Freedom Pen, about two rural Virginian children determined to rescue a pitbull puppy. Dionna is a freelance journalist for Charlottesville Family and writes children’s nonfiction, with her work appearing children have appeared in Wee Ones, Stories for Children, and Highlights for Children and LADYBUG. Dionna has an amazing grasp of voice, both for her characters and as an author, and has published articles regarding the craft of writing for children in Kid Magazine Writer, the Institute of Children’s Literature & in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ newsletters.
Find Dionna L. Mann at her website, www.dionnalmann.com
Now here are my writing process answers.
1. What am I working on?
I’ve been spending a lot of time on my picture books lately, and I’m working on adding some nonfiction backmatter to one and revise a few others to get them submission-ready. I’m also at the beginning of a sequel to Deadwood, my middle-grade fantasy that will be released by Spencer Hill middle-grade June 24.
2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?
I write “small magic” – in Deadwood Hannah and Martin are trying to save a tree, not the world. There is magic, but it’s limited and it’s supposed to be almost scientific so that it seems plausible. There aren’t big superpowers – just small ones, with contemporary situations and relationships that anchor the story to real life.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I don’t know why some stories grab me – I’m looking for a twist on what could actually happen — real life amplified a bit. I search for interesting situations and then try to make them a bit bigger. I’m surprised sometimes when certain themes emerge — middle grade and picture books! — like individualism, science, environmentalism.
4. How does my writing process work?
I usually take a long time between having an idea and a draft. I’m a slow writer – I aim for 500 words a day, not 1000. Sometimes I’m happy with 300. When I write middle-grade, I like to have a fairly complete outline, synopsis, and research in place before I start. But can really procrastinate endlessly in planning, so at some point, I just begin, and then work a little ahead at a time. The holes usually fill themselves in in unexpected ways.
For picture books, I usually hold onto an idea for a long time while I work out how to write it. Then when I do, the draft usually comes pretty quickly and cleanly – although also too long. I am more likely to have a 1000-word day when writing the first draft of a picture book, and that is not a good thing!
Thanks for tagging me, Dionna. Now I pay it forward by tagging some of my writing friends.
I tagged Amparo because I just beta read her YA traditional fantasy, and I want the world to know about it too. I got to know Amparo as the co-founder of the Operation Awesome blog, home of the Mystery Agent contest. She’s a self-professed super fan — a proud Potterhead, Whedonite, Marshmallow, Sherlockian, Supernaturalist, and a Whovian-in-progress. A resident of beautiful Puerto Rico, Amparo speaks two and a half languages (Spanish, English, and sort of Italian) and is finishing up her Master’s degree in Literature.
I tagged Jenna because she always has an Intriguing new project in the works. Jenna will debut with Virgin, her upcoming YA paranormal from World Weaver Press, and she’s a versatile YA and MG fantasy and scifi author. Jenna grew up in Shoreview, MN, and moved to California to find refuge in a land of film, her favorite pastime.
Soon Jenna noticed that the TV needed turning up, spoken words seemed muted, and everyone sounded like Charlie Brown’s parents. Diagnosed with a significant hearing loss, Jenna turned from movies to books, where every word was savored and none were missed.
I tagged R.M. because I want to know how he gets in the head of his 12-year-old characters. He’s the author of The Secret of Haney Field, his latest middle-grade mystery, due out September 2 from MB Publishing. By day, R. M. is a computer scientist and adult and childrens’ book writer who lives in a small New England town with his wife, two sons, one dog and one cat. At night, he’s a mystery writer and photo research ninja.
Thanks to Dionna for tagging me. Don’t break the chain, friends!
I wrote a draft of a picture book this morning. I don’t write many of them, but when I do, first I have an idea. I type it into my file and leave it there. I think about the story now and then. I turn it over in my head for a few weeks, months, or more, trying to figure out how to approach it.
Then eventually I think I have it figured out and I write a draft very quickly.
Now I need to let it rest, revise, get a reader or two. Revise. Rest. Revise.
We’ll see if the story holds up! But I’m always happy to have turned an idea into a manuscript. Maybe someday I’ll turn it into a book.