Writing Process Blog Tour

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Two weeks ago (sorry I'm so pokey, Penny!) I was tagged by Penny Parker Klostermann for the Writing Process Blog Tour. Penny writes picture books and poetry for children. She was named runner-up for the Barbara Karlin Grant in 2012 with my story, MARS NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. My debut book, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON, is coming from Random House Children’s Fall 2015. THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON is the tale of a ravenous dragon who swallows more than his belly can hold. Penny is a very sweet lady who hugs her favorite picture books.

Participating in the Writing Process Blog Tour means answering four questions and then tagging fellow writers who will join the tour. Here are the four questions and my answers.

1. What am I working on? I have several manuscripts in the works, but my favorite is a fairy tale that critique mates and a professional editor have said is lyrical, lovely and that it stuck with them after they read it. Pretty big kudos in my opinion! I'm excited to polish it and research where to submit it!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? Hmm, that's a tough question! As a writer trying to get published it is key to write something fresh and new. This is something I strive to do. How do I do it? I listen to the funny things my kids say, I watch the world around me for fresh and funny things and I let my imagination run amok. Hopefully this will make my stories stand out from the crowd

3. Why do I write what I do? In elementary school art class we wrote a fable, drew the illustrations and made it into a book. I LOVED it! Ever since I have loved writing and drawing and have dreamed of being an author. Right now I'm focused on writing picture books, but I have some middle grade and young adult novel ideas swimming around in my head (and written in various notebooks!).

4. How does your writing process work? I am not always in the mood to write, but if I am, I'll mull over a story until something clicks and then I either write out a draft on paper or type it up on the computer. Or if I have a story I love that isn't working I mull that over until I find a fix. If my creative juices aren't flowing, I can sometimes jump start them. Typically typing up the text of a favorite picture book is a surefire way to get my brain going and then I'm off. Sometimes typing up a favorite picture book inspires revisions on a story, sometimes it gives me a whole new idea. My kids (Speed, 2 years old and Peep, 4 years old) say a lot of funny and interesting things that sometimes turn into a picture book. 

To jumpstart revisions I ask questions that come from Ann Whitford Paul's book
Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication. Right now I'm studying Linda Ashman's book, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books
and that fuels my revisions too! 

There are also two sites that I use for critiques for others and also for my own stories: 
Picture Book Critique Questions from Writing on the Sidewalk and
 How to Critique a Picture book from ebooks4writers

I won't be tagging anyone, so I'll list some more helpful kidlit links. Here you go!

Great picture book writing class, Susanna Leonard Hill's Making Picture Book Magic

Julie Hedlund's 12x12, awesome picture book writing community

Highlights Foundation Workshops and Retreats - The most amazing writing workshop experience!

Fun writing challenges:

My very own ReviMo - Revise More Picture Books, revise crappy drafts every day for one week.

PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month, write down 30 picture book ideas in 30 days.

NaPiBoWriWee - National Picture Book Writing Week, write 7 drafts in 7 days.

RhyPiBoMo - Rhyming Picture Book Month.

Petite ReviMo May Day 2 - Doris Stone

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


What Do I Know About Revision?
by Doris Stone

When Meg asked me to write a blog post, my first thought was what do I know about revision?

Hmmmm. I hate it. I love it. It’s a pain. It’s bliss. I avoid it. I avoid it. I avoid it. But then, I sit down and do it.

I hate revision. It means I’ve made mistakes and my brilliant masterpiece, sucks. It means dissecting my story and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It also means critiques. Yikes…critiques are scary!

I love revision. It means my tale is on paper. Sure, there are flaws but there’s hope too. My tale has a beginning, middle and end. I no longer fear that it’ll be lost in the fickle gray matter inside my head. (Not to say it won’t be lost in the jumble of files on my computer or in the disorganized mess I call, my office.)

Revision is a pain. It means reading my work over and over, one word at a time, aloud. It also means dragging out my dusty thesaurus. But wait, this is where revision is bliss. This is where I leave my story and find a distraction. Sometimes I clean my house, really clean it from top to bottom. Other times I read a good book, or start a new project and sometimes I just take to walking and walking and walking (think Forest Gump). Whatever I do I put some distance between myself and my work in progress.

I forget my revision and let my mind wander. Revision is bliss when I avoid it. I avoid it, avoid it and avoid it.

Then, one day I see a flash in my mind’s eye. It may be a word or a character that I needed for that story. Which story was it? What was it about? Did it have a title? My gray matter can’t recall it or even remember what it was about. I dig through the pile of papers on my desk. Not there! I pull up the file on my computer titled, “Stories needing revision.” There it is!

I sit my keister in the chair and revise. It’s breezy- easy!

I send it off to my critique group. That, as I said earlier, scares the beejeebers out of me. Why? Because I know they will want me to revise it.

Thank you Doris!!

Doris has spent her life surrounded by children. She's been called friend, babysitter, mother, teacher and "Nana". From everyday experiences she crafts stories. Her hope is they will enhance lives of youngsters and help them understand and enjoy the world around them. Doris is the creator of the Fearless February 28 day 28 minute Challenge. http://doriskstone.weebly.com/

Petite ReviMo May Day 1 - Marsha Diane Arnold

Monday, May 12, 2014

by Marsha Diane Arnold

I thought my life was perfect. I’ve lived on three acres of paradise in the Northern California hills for thirty-five years. I’d even made peace with dying here, overlooking the little forest filled with oak, madrone, and manzanita, redwoods and rolling hills beyond.

But I’ve had to revise. We’re selling our home on McGregor Lane (yes, the perfect address for a children’s writer) and moving to Florida. In the writing world this might be known as a “full rewrite.”

Revising our stories is not as difficult as revising our lives, but the two have much in common.

Change demands a lot from us. We procrastinate, whether it’s our life or our story. So, I am grateful for Meg Miller’s ReviMo challenge to keep us on track.

There are several types of revision. Here are three:
  1. There’s the revision that comes when you know it’s needed. In life, it might be “I need to loose weight.” In your writing world, it might be “I need to get rid of that character.” To loose the weight you need to physically get moving. To loose the character you need to mentally get moving.
  2. There’s the revision that your critique partners say is needed. How much we should listen to others partially depends on whether we are a beginning writer or a seasoned author. As we grow, we’ll become more discerning with other’s critiques. Still, it’s always a challenge to know which path to travel in a story. There are so many options.
  3. There’s the revision that an editor says is needed. If it’s an editor who’s deciding on whether or not to accept your manuscript, that’s one thing. One editor may want you to change your story, while the next would find it perfect as it is. If you’re satisfied with your story, wait until several editors tell you revision is needed before revising.
If it’s an editor...or illustrator...who’s bought your manuscript, that’s another thing. The illustrator of one of my upcoming books requested I cut a number of lines in an already under 300 word manuscript. These are words I thought would make for great reading aloud. But this illustrator is one of the best in the field and I felt her images could tell the story without my words. So I revised, a.k.a. cut, them out.

Besides the usual things writers do - writing, blogging, developing e-courses, and visiting schools - I do manuscript consultations.

Often I find the beginnings of stories need revision. Some beginnings meander the reader into the story rather than dropping him in. Dropping a young reader into a story is almost always more exciting than meandering him in.

Often the endings need revision. Rather than a neat, to the point ending, some writers prefer to go on and on, hanging onto their story like a toddler afraid to let go of a parent.

Often the middle needs revision. Oh, let’s face it! Usually everything needs revision after our horrible, sad, first draft. I often advise writers to look again at the progression of events. Sometimes cutting events or switching them around will make the story smoother. Logical progression can be forgotten in the early drafts. Another thing that always helps is tightening. If there were a rewriting mantra, it might be, “Tighten, tighten, tighten.” (It sounds more humane than, “Cut, cut, cut,” doesn’t it?)

Once you have the basics of writing and storytelling under your belt, always listen to yourself more than your critiquers (those outside or inside your head). And always listen the most to your story because it’s your story that should be in charge.

Whether rewriting the story of your life or the story on the page, listen to the heart of it and take one step at a time. The heart of your life. The heart of your story. It won’t lead you astray.

Would you like to see a master revising? I was lucky enough to attend the brilliant and prolific Jane Yolen’s Master Class last October. Julie Hedlund was also in attendance; she recently posted a blog and short video of the experience. In the first part of the video, Jane is revising lines she’d quickly spewed out of her head. It’s fun and eye-opening to watch a master at work. http://www.juliehedlund.com/jane-yolen-may-2014-featured-author/

Thank you Marsha!!

The media has called Marsha Diane Arnold a "born storyteller" and a "magician of literary innovations." Her literary pathway began with the much-loved, award-winning newspaper column "homegrown treasures." Soon Marsha was writing for kids' magazines and in 1995 came her first book, Heart of a Tiger, for which she won the Ridgway Award for Best First Book by a New Author.

Other awards include Smithsonian Notable Book for The Pumpkin Runner, Junior Library Guild Selection, IRA Distinguished Book, and state Children's Choice awards for Heart of a Tiger, Kansas State Library's 150 "Best" Books for The Bravest of Us All, Notable Social Studies Book for The Chicken Salad Club, and a Family Choice Award for Hugs on the Wind. Roar of a Snore was twice selected for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library and her early reader Quick, Quack, Quick has sold over half a million copies. Her stories have been called "wacky," "whimsical," "inspiring," "beguiling," "heartwarming," "uplifting," "great read-alouds," and "a must-have for all libraries".

Friday - ReviMo Classroom Style Day 5 (Final Day!) - Choose Your Own Adventure!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thank you all so much for joining us for ReviMo Classroom Style, it's been wonderful hearing about your revisions and seeing your comments. Thank you so much, guest bloggers, what lovely insightful posts!!

Today we're going to switch it up and do a Choose Your Own (Revision) Adventure! These are all the tips from our ReviMo Classroom Style guests, made into a fun graphic for you. :D

Click to enlarge and print!
Happy writing and revising! And now.... Teachers, if your class/student revised this week, enter for your class/student to win fabulous prizes!

To Enter:
1. Click the +1 by "We Revised".
2. Click the green Enter button. VoilĂ ! You are entered. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway