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!!










Resolutions.....because that's what we are supposed to do, right?  haha...

Actually, I think resolutions are a good thing.  It's goal planning.  As long as the goals are REASONABLE... then writing them down to look at and remind yourself of what your goals are once in a while really will help you attain them.  And I thought if I write them all here then I just might hold myself even more accountable - cause you might wonder how I'm doing with them...

There's a lot.  Because I do a lot of things and feel I should have goals in all parts of my life...not just one or two.  Plus I think if I have a lot of goals there's more chance of me attaining at least a few of them!!  haha...

So here goes:

  1.   Stick to the Paleo Diet at least 93% of the time for at least 3 more months... I really want to give it a good shot - without causing too much stress of doing it 100% but really giving it our best and for a few more months to really watch longer term effects.
  2.  Exercise, on average, 3 times a week.  (I know if I put more here, I'll fail.... and if I feel I fail it makes it that much harder for me to start again.  3 is reasonable.)
  3. Add Evening Prayers to my Prayer Routine... we do pretty well with Morning Prayers- at least on school days and prayers at supper time. I need to do more than that.
  4. Read at least 3 books that are of Orthodox content over the course of the year - I should probably start out by finishing the ones on my Goodreads Currently Reading List!!  So maybe I should put 4 on that resolution list...finish the three and add one more...
  5. Read at LEAST 12 Newberry Medal books... this shouldn't be that hard if I set my mind to it...after all they do all fall under the genre of children's literature...it's not like I'm reading novels the size off War and Peace!!!
  6. Read the following:   2014 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (cover to cover--- well, not every single publisher/agent listing but in the past I never got around to reading the articles and this time that's what I started with!),  A Family of Readers: A book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature,  and Honey For a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. The last two are supposed to be really good sources about the world of children's literature.  I've already started both.  Gladys Hunt has another book out on Teen literature and one on women's literature.  Both look equally appealing...I'll probably give in a grab the teen book soon as I have a teen....and will be planning another book list for next year's homeschooling sometime this spring.
  7. Watch my Charlotte Mason Videos(by the end of MARCH).  I bought them last year at the CHAP convention (convention held by the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania).  Simply Charlotte Mason had a booth there and I bought the All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar and The Books & Things Seminar.  I've watched most of the first one.  It's packed full of information presented by Sonya Shafer. My husband also bought me another book on Charlotte Mason - I want to read that one too but I'll give myself longer on that one... by the end of the year!
  8. Research for a Preschool Curriculum/materials and make a decision by the end of APRIL....at least have it narrowed down in time for the CHAP convention in May. He's already doing preschool type stuff..... knows how to count to 20 without help, higher with help and recognizes all the digits 1-10.... knows the alphabet (lower case and upper case) and most sounds, recognizes at least 22 words by sight, knows colors, basic shapes, etc.... so preschool may not be what I want.... by something Charlotte Mason style with lots of books.... and fun activities.
  9. Break 3 bad habits.... sorry that's too personal...not sharing those...just that I have them and think it's important to pick a few to work on diligently.  I'll know what they are...and who knows...maybe my family will figure them out by the end of the year too 🙂
  10.  Maintain my Gratitude Journal...  I restarted one about a year and  a half ago or so after reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts... I've been better at writing in it but I'm only to #465....  I hope to get to 1000 by the end of the year if not way before that!
  11. Maintain this blog!  I've been going strong for over a couple of months now...keep following me and give me comments-- it will encourage me!! 😉
  12. Keep writing!!!  I hope to pursue some publishers soon with a couple of the manuscripts I have finished...they still need some revision first.  And I'd like to try to pop out a few more... at least picture books.  That's the goal.  I do have two middle grade manuscripts I've written that could be revised and I started a YA several years ago...I'm not sure if I want to return to that yet or not.  I think I'll stick with the PBs... that seems to be where my passion is right now.
  13. Set more time aside for ME -   whether it be for reading, writing, or working on crafts I've ignored for years-- but time to do what I want to do and not just things for other people.  I know that goes hand in hand with a lot of the above goals but I feel a separate goal to do that will help assure I work on it.
  14. Spend more quality time with my children and my husband.  I want to actually schedule the time to make sure it happens.  Too often our date nights get pushed to the side because we simply forget to schedule it and too often I decide to watch a TV show because I'm tired rather than playing a game with my older son.  And too often I don't sit down to just play with my toddler because I worry too much about other things that need done.
  15. Work on coming up with EASY and QUICK paleo meals that will help me make sure I have time to do all of the above!  My new cookbooks I got for Christmas should help me accomplish that soon!

Okay.... that's 15....  that should keep me busy!!!

So what are YOUR New Year's Resolutions?  I'd love to read them!

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The Newbery Award is the first children's book award ever created.


The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association to the author of the most distinguished American children's book published during the previous year.  This medal and the Caldecott are considered the two most prestigious awards for children's literature in the United States.

It is my goal to read all of these books.  That goal got put on hold for several years but I am back on track.  I am also eager to read the Newberry Honor books - from the beginning of the awarding of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals committees typically cited other books as worthy of attention. Such books were referred to as Newbery or Caldecott "runners-up." In 1971 the term "runners-up" was changed to "honor books".                                                                                                     Newbery_Honor_Seal

I've never been disappointed by a Newberry medal winner or honor book yet.  Some are higher on my favorite list, but I find them all to be of quality literature and worthy of their label.  Out of the Newbery Medal Winners from 1922- Present, I have read 31 out of 91... I have a way to go!  How many have you read? Do you have a favorite??

Newbery Medal Winners, 1922 - Present

2013: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins Children's Books) 2012: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar Straus Giroux) 2011: Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books) 2010: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books) 2009: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Dave McKean (HarperCollins) 2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick) 2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, illus. by Matt Phelan (Simon & Schuster/Richard Jackson) 2006: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins) 2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster) 2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press) 2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi (Hyperion Books for Children) 2002: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park(Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin) 2001: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck (Dial) 2000: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Delacorte) 1999: Holes by Louis Sachar (Frances Foster) 1998: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (Scholastic) 1997: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg (Jean Karl/Atheneum) 1996: The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman (Clarion) 1995: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins) 1994: The Giver by Lois Lowry(Houghton) 1993: Missing May by Cynthia Rylant (Jackson/Orchard) 1992: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Atheneum) 1991: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli (Little, Brown) 1990: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Houghton) 1989: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (Harper) 1988: Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman (Clarion) 1987: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman (Greenwillow) 1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (Harper) 1985: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (Greenwillow) 1984: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (Morrow) 1983: Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt (Atheneum) 1982: A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard (Harcourt) 1981: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (Crowell) 1980: A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-1832 by Joan W. Blos (Scribner) 1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (Dutton) 1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Crowell) 1977: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (Dial) 1976: The Grey King by Susan Cooper (McElderry/Atheneum) 1975: M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton (Macmillan) 1974: The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox (Bradbury) 1973: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (Harper) 1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien (Atheneum) 1971: Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars (Viking) 1970: Sounder by William H. Armstrong (Harper) 1969: The High King by Lloyd Alexander (Holt) 1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Atheneum) 1967: Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt (Follett) 1966: I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino (Farrar) 1965: Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska (Atheneum) 1964: It's Like This, Cat by Emily Neville (Harper) 1963: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (Farrar) 1962: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare (Houghton) 1961: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (Houghton) 1960: Onion John by Joseph Krumgold (Crowell) 1959: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (Houghton) 1958: Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith (Crowell) 1957: Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen (Harcourt) 1956: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham (Houghton) 1955: The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong (Harper) 1954: ...And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold (Crowell) 1953: Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark (Viking) 1952: Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes (Harcourt) 1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (Dutton) 1950: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli (Doubleday) 1949: King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry (Rand McNally) 1948: The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois (Viking) 1947: Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey (Viking) 1946: Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski (Lippincott) 1945: Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (Viking) 1944: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (Houghton) 1943: Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray (Viking) 1942: The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds (Dodd) 1941: Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry (Macmillan) 1940: Daniel Boone by James Daugherty (Viking) 1939: Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright (Rinehart) 1938: The White Stag by Kate Seredy (Viking) 1937: Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer (Viking) 1936: Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (Macmillan) 1935: Dobry by Monica Shannon (Viking) 1934: Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs (Little, Brown) 1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis (Winston) 1932: Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer (Longmans) 1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth (Macmillan) 1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field (Macmillan) 1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly (Macmillan) 1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji (Dutton) 1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James (Scribner) 1926: Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman (Dutton) 1925: Tales from Silver Lands by Charles Finger (Doubleday) 1924: The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes (Little, Brown) 1923: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (Stokes) 1922: The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon (Liveright)

"People often ask, 'How do you start a book?' Well, I've always started this way...Chapter 1."  ~ Paula Danziger

This made me laugh.  It's such a low-key thought approach.  It's like, well, duh, you start at the beginning.

Paula Danziger was an awesome author and wrote a lot of wonderful books. Unfortunately, Paula passed away after complications stemming from a  heart attack in 2004.  But she had already left a legacy to the world of children's literature before the age of 59 including the Amber Brown series, The Cat Ate My Jumpsuit, There's a Bat in Bunk Five, and Remember Me to Harold Square just to name a few.  The   I can still remember reading The Cat Ate My Jumpsuit back in middle school.  That book really sticks out strongly in my mind.  I'm sure it has a lot to do with how much I strongly despised gym class and wished I had a cat that WOULD eat my gymsuit...or something like that.  How I hated that gymsuit.

It is hard to start a new book...or sometimes really easy if an idea pops into your head that you just can't get rid of. But sometimes the idea is there, it won't let you sleep at night, but the story just won't form on the page.  And you are left there staring at the page with the little doodles  you made of your character being very thankful you won't have to be the illustrator if you can ever actually make this into an acceptable (or better yet, bestselling) manuscript!

Right now my ideas are flowing.... ideas, not necessarily a manuscript.  But I'm enjoying the process and playing around with the ideas.  It's Saturday, which is to be my day for writing but I am away from home.... or should I say I AM home?  I'm in my childhood home, right where I read The Cat Ate My Gymsuit.  Memories!  Those are good idea starters too!  Anyway, I'll just have time to write down ideas today, not much else, but that's okay.  I can always write "Chapter 1" as an idea 🙂

Random Thoughts For Saturday:

  • It's amazing that, when the toddler doesn't get the pirate ship he wants at the store, he comes home and builds one! It's okay not to buy your child everything he wants.
  • The brain of a three year old is a HUGE sponge!  WOW!
  • If making a list helps you keep track of what to do, that's great!  Make a list....but try to remember where the list is.
  • Why is it when you think of a really great thought to write down there is never any paper available?
  • Everyone should watch a child at play...... and remember the world of imagination.
  • When we assume something about another person's thoughts, that's unfair to the person and unnecessarily damaging to ourselves (I took that one from Unglued by Lysa Terkeurst)
  • Sometimes people just need someone to listen and not for judgement or advice.
  • Sometimes we assume something based on someone's reaction but don't take the time to consider other reasons for their reaction...which leads to what Lysa was saying above.

I hope you have a nice, relaxing Saturday.  Take a little time to read or watch the curious antics of a child.  Look around and find a sign of God in the world around you.  Enjoy.