Berenson Schemes, Don't Touch, Fish Facts, Florida SCBWI, Jack the Castaway, Janeen Mason, Lisa Doan, Ocean Commotion, Rachel Wilson, Spanhky: A Soldier's Son, Sue LaNeve, VCFA, Vermont College of Fine Arts
My friend Rachel Wilson, author of the soon to be released YA novel Don’t Touch, invited me to participate in this blog tour about the writing process. Every author on the tour answers some questions about his or her own writing process, and then tags two other authors to answer next. Rachel asked me to participate. And she’s way too special to me to ever say no! Keep your eye out on her career. She’s going to kill it. You can read her responses here; mine are below!
What am I currently working on?
After finishing my MG novel, SPANKY: A Soldier’s Son, I gave up my writer’s horse (yes, horse) to become a boat captain and navigator. However, since we’re docked for an extended time, I’m back in the saddle again. At the risk of sounding Sybilesque, my moods decide the project on which I’ll work. Whimsical playful moods can only be sated by picture book writing in rhyme—the most difficult writing there is if you want to do it well. I love the irony in that. I have at least six picture books in various states of revision.
But my go-to project is a MG novel set in 1968 at the time of the famous Miss America Pageant protest where women had intended to burn their bras. I am completing it’s zillionth revision in preparation to market it traditionally some day soon.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Argh! I’ve written the answer to this question three times. Okay. Call it a philosophical-difference block. I’ll say that my work differs from others in my genre by voice, plot and character arcs; by how I kick off my stories, by my tone, my selection of setting and theme etc. etc.—all the choices that make every writer’s manuscript completely unique—even if they’re similar sounding stories.
But okay, I tend to write stories that echo my pre-teen years, surviving bullies, brothers, and coming of age wonders and difficulties, but that hardly differentiates me. I lived in my imagination for most of my childhood and adoles— okay, for my whole life and my MCs tend to as well. That is, until they figure out that to survive, you have to act (or become a MG writer!)
Why do I write what I write?
Without fail, I don’t find out what I’m writing about, why I’ve written it, or what epiphany I will come to through the process until I reach the end of the first draft. That’s when I realize what the story was really about. And I have to rewrite the whole thing. Like many MG writers, I’m stuck in that stage of my life, trying to make sense of it all. I guess you could say I’m unveiling early agnsts and rewriting how they turn out by adding what had been missing the first time–empowerment.
How does my individual writing process work?
Back to the Sybil and my moods . . . Truly, my unusual life dictates my actual process. Living on a boat, some days, I am captaining, navigating, or doing crew work (provisioning, cleaning, cooking, repairing, or maintenance). In a way, it’s the same as living in a house and leading a normal life. No. Really, it’s not at all like a normal life. The urgency of attention, response, and action is heightened on a boat. And I am attention challenged–it’s impossible not to be distracted by changes in sounds and scenery. Finding my way into the fictive dream doesn’t work well for me when we’re moving. So when I’m “off duty,” I revise and edit. After we’re docked, I can dig in and become a writer again.
Next up on the blog tour:
I met Janeen Mason through Florida SCBWI, drawn by her talent, but more so by her generosity of spirit. Besides her Ocean Commotion series and MANY other picture books, check out Janeen’s accolades as an author/illustrator: Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award, the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the National Award for Excellence in Communities, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, the iParenting Media Award, and more. And that is only the whisper of a breath about a woman who inspires children, artists, and art collectors everywhere. On Monday, May 5th, she’ll be sharing her process at http://www.janeenmason.com/blog.html.
Lisa Doan and I met while gorging ourselves on MFAs from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She was THE funniest person on campus. And she brings that amazing humor to her work. Lisa writes middle grade. (She will tell you herself that she will never be mature enough to write YA). Her series, The Berenson Schemes, launched 4/1/2014 with Jack the Castaway. It follows the quest for survival of sensible Jack as he is continually lost in a foreign wilderness by his insensible parents Richard and Claire. Lisa identifies with Richard and Claire, having spent a large amount of her adulthood roaming the planet, but this has led to the uncomfortable idea that she, like them, may have misplaced offspring somewhere. But she figures nearly everywhere has cell phone service these days, so she’ll just wait for a call. (Secret message she sends to lost offspring – First, it was an adventure. Second, Sorry ‘bout that – call me!)
You can learn about Lisa’s writing process next Monday, May 5th, at http://www.lisadoan.org/blog.html