I feel really excited and honored to be tagged in the Writing Process Blog Hop!  It's always hugely humbling and flattering to be recognized by a fellow writer for your writing.  Compliments from friends and family are always nice and meaningful, but a fellow writer gets it...they genuinely know that it comes from the depth of your soul and how much time and effort it really takes.  So thank you to Brenton Dickieson over at A Pilgrim in Narnia for tagging me in this hugely fun activity! Be sure to check out Brenton's blog - he's a fantastically talented academic writer who also works in creative writing.  As the blog title hints, he has a passionate love for C.S. Lewis!

The Writing Process Blog Hop invites bloggers to answer four questions about what, how, and why they write. The bloggers are then encouraged to recommend three other bloggers to do the same.  I love hearing about other writers discuss their writing so I totally love this!

So here goes!

1.  What are you currently working on?

Though I do have an interest in middle grade books and even have part of a rough draft started for a young adult book, my current projects all fall into the picture book category.

I'm actually working on quite a few things. I used to have this incredibly naïve thought that writers/authors only worked on one project at a time.  Ha!  Thank goodness we don't or I think I'd have been stuck back on my first project still and would have given up!  So yes, I have several WIPs (Work in Progress) in the works but there is one that is my primary love and takes up the majority of my writing time. (I have another primary love - I call him my husband and he comes first, even ahead of writing and the kids ).  I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on this one because maybe I'm a little superstitious and don't want to jinx myself being that I'm on the edge of attempting a submission with it.  But I will say it is a picture book about an Orthodox Saint very near and dear to my heart.

In addition to that particular picture book manuscript, I have several others going.  Some of them are works I began a few years ago and have finally dusted them off and began the revision process.  Others are stemmed from ideas I got through PiBoIdMo last November.   One is a sort of  reminiscence of a childhood into adulthood place my family has spent much time in... a cabin in the woods....well, not so much the cabin as the activities and memories of being there.  Another  one involves the antics of a small white duck and another involves a girl in need of a friend and another....well...there's several others.  These are all of a fictional genre but I do have ideas and the beginnings of a few non-fiction projects as well.

2.   How does your work differ from others in its genre?

I guess what pops into my mind with this question is that it comes from me.  That seems obvious but is an honest answer.  It's my story and my perspective.  You could assign me and the other bloggers I'll name below or any writer a particular piece to write about and our final works will be extraordinarily different because it will be told from our own experiences, backgrounds, beliefs, and personalities.   A little part of myself, whether it's the introvert most people see or the little extrovert child inside that's dying to get out, will shine through in a character , description, emotion or other portion of my work.

3.  Why do you do what you do?

It's who I am.  It's really simple really.  When I don't write, I'm not me.  The process of writing seems to soothe me...makes me feel alive, gives me purpose, completes me.  I get a lot of this from other things I do too - being a wife, being a mom, being a homeschool mom (yes - being a mom and being a homeschool mom are different), cooking from scratch, etc. are all a part of me and makes up who I am....but there's something about the writing.  I gave it up for several years when I got pregnant with my 3rd child...he was quite the surprise you see and at age 40 pregnancy sort of overwhelmed me with nausea and fatigue and I put the writing on the back-burner (more like a box that I hid from myself) and left it there for several years.  I often felt unproductive despite all that I was doing...I felt like something was missing.  I felt uncompleted.  Writing is a part of me that started from long ago... I think it's a sort of self-therapy I discovered all on my own.  I do it because I need to. It truly is who I am.

4.  How does your writing process work?

Well it's certainly not how it's taught in the public schools(I know...I used to teach it).  While I may follow the steps of 'The Writing Process' (Prewriting - choose a topic & gather ideas-, Writing, Revising, Editing, and Publishing) the time (ESPECIALLY the time) and approach to those steps I take are often far from what we expected those poor kids in 6th grade to produce.

It starts out with random thoughts for the most part and can be triggered by the most unusual circumstances.  It didn't occur to me to write about my childhood memory of a cabin in the woods until I saw a man in a Sam's Club gas station that reminded me strangely of someone very special to me and at the same moment had several triggers of memory of events at the cabin and I thought...hmmm... maybe I should write about it. These random thoughts are often written in a notebook and thought about or revisited at a later date, often blending together with other ideas.  Others start by the simple recognition for a need.  My current love that I mentioned above started that way. Sometimes this step is totally skipped because the thought leaps into my head and if I have paper in front of me I immediately start with the next step.

The next step is ....  well, that's difficult to say.  There are times that I brainstorm a list of ideas and thoughts, a little like we taught in school.  But most of the time, honestly, I'm hit in the head with inspiration and I just write with no necessary idea list or organization.  Sometimes I can get out a whole rough draft (for a picture book) or sometimes it's just a paragraph or two or a bit of a conversation that leaps into my head.  Sometimes the whole piece is ditched...but usually I keep it even if I don't like it... to look at it again later, sometimes MUCH later.

The next step is the most challenging. The REVISE and EDIT part of the process is brutal!!!  This is especially true if I try to revise right away.  I'm still too attached to the emotions that went into the original writing and can't be totally unbiased about the needs of the story to make it a hit.  So, for me, I need to pull away from it for a while4 year hiatus with the birth of my son.  When I finally started blogging and paying attention to my inner voice telling me I needed to write, I pulled out an old WIP and reread it and the notes I had from a few critiques I had gotten on it.  WOW.  I could so totally see what my critique friends were saying whereas at the time my thoughts were "What?!  Are they KIDDING ME??"  When time distanced me from the raw emotions I put into the original draft, I could easily whip out a pen and start crossing out, adding and taking away from the manuscript.  Now... I do NOT need three years for every manuscript.  LOL.  I have learned that putting it down for just a week or two has a really good effect as well!

Usually the toughest part for me is the word count.  I like the words - the high volume and challenging vocabulary of classics make me happy - you know, like Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit - stories with detail, rich words and ... well, today's market isn't looking for that.  Word Count is DOWN, especially for new beginning writers.  So I usually have a lot to cut and that's hard to do and still keep the beauty or original feel of the story.  I also need to make sure the story organization flows and that I'm doing more 'showing' than 'telling'.

At this point in my writing, I do use the help of a couple of critique groups.  I try to wait that week or two so their comments don't come across to me as, "What?! Are they out of their minds? That completely changes the story...."  and it's getting easier for me to listen and look at the manuscript through someone else's perspective and gain meaningful insight from the experience.  I really enjoy and appreciate the feedback which makes me feel that I am ready to get solid advice and suggestions from my future editor(s)!

And then, well, then I pretty much go through the whole revise and edit phase again, and again, and again... it's not that simple one-two day process we taught to elementary students (no wonder they got frustrated).  I have been in the revision stage for this current manuscript for several months!  Of course, I don't have time to work on it every day.  I try to work on it at least once a week if not more, but my time segments are usually on the small side so that does increase the time span of the revision process.

And now, now that I THINK it might be there...or at least ALMOST there... I put it aside and begin the query process.  Wow.  Writing query letters are more intense in some aspects than writing my manuscript.  You can read more about that here and here.  In the process of writing the query and going through the revising and editing of that to get it JUST RIGHT for submission, I still glance at the actual manuscript from time to time to see if anything else leaps out at me that might still need tweaked.

And then...well...I go onto the next project as I wait on pins and needles to see if my editor of choice will request the manuscript and then wait and see if the manuscript itself will be accepted.

It's quite the process, isn't it?  But so exciting and wonderful... I say that and I'm not even published YET!  🙂  I can't imagine how wonderful it is for those that are - but I hope to be able to tell you one day in the future.

And now...... to tag three other bloggers!

There is not any obligation to participate (but oh I sure hope you do!).  Take some time to visit their blogs (see if they participate) and see what incredibly talented writers they are!

1.  Kathy Temean's blog, Writing and Illustrating, is the most recent writing blog I have stumbled upon thanks to the people of the 12 x 12 challenge group which posted some links on query letters from her blog.  Kathy shares information about writing and illustrating for children. She  a published author and is the former Regional Advisor in New Jersey for SCBWI. Her blog is full of wonderful information and tips on the writing process, agents, and more!

2.  Juliana Lee of Crafting Stories  is a connoisseur of children's literature and is an aspiring writer.  I enjoy reading her book reviews and other posts.  I look forward to hearing about her process and most of all, her future publications!

3.  Heather B. Costa of Trials of a wanna-be-published-writer is another aspiring writer who writes about her writing journey and other things in her life.  I've enjoyed reading her blog and believe that you will too.

Tag!  I so hope you'll join in the fun!!