Marcie Wessels, author of PIRATE’S LULLABY (Doubleday, Spring 2015) invited me to participate in this Writing Process Blog Tour. Marcie and I met in an online facebook group for writers. Although we live in different regions of the country we had an immediate connection and for good reason. We have traveled some of the same familiar paths, just in different stages in our lives. This time, however, we are virtually in the same place at the same time as we both become debut authors.
What am I currently working on?
I have completed a companion story to my original book, THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican, Spring 2015). I have two other works in progress also set in Louisiana.
I am really excited about starting a new project which involves co-authoring a non-fiction children’s book with my husband who is a research scientist.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
THE KING CAKE BABY is a fractured fairy tale that follows the familiar rhythm and rhyme found in classic fairy tale of The Gingerbread Man. However the characters, setting, language and colloquial lingo used in THE KING CAKE BABY gives my story cultural significance specific to New Orleans.
Why do I write what I write?
I enjoy sharing my Louisiana culture with others. Our traditions and customs are very important to us. As a genealogy researcher and family historian I research and write frequently about our unique contributions to the multicultural landscape of the United States.
How does my individual writing process work?
The ideas I use in my writing are usually based on experiences or observations. While baking a king cake the idea for THE KING CAKE BABY popped into my head. For this story I started by using the framework of the traditional Gingerbread Man story adding my own characters and twist. Then I research. I read about the genre as well as many, many other comparable books.
THE KING CAKE BABY has a refrain mixed with English and French, so I spent a lot of time working on the rhythm and rhyme and making sure I used correct French grammar. Because this was my first children’s book I decided to seek out other writers in my area. I found a local SCBWI group, and just happened to go to my first meeting on the night scheduled for critiques. With their advice and direction I began to learn about the craft of picture book writing as well as the business end of the kidlit industry. I was very fortunate to find this wonderful group of ladies.
Revision is by far the most crucial part of my writing process. I can easily write 1,000 words but revision means getting rid of almost half of them when writing a picture book! I have agonized for weeks over finding the perfect word or perfect rhyme. I believe every word counts.
To continue the writing process blog tour, it is my pleasure to introduce three authors whose work I admire. Each author will answer the same four questions I answered above. Click on the author’s name to learn more about them and their work. Look for their answers next week, Monday, June 2nd.
Diana Jenkins writes books, magazine stories, articles, and comic strips for kids and teens. Diana generosity shares her vast knowledge about writing with our local SCBWI group. Her newest release, TACKLING TOUGH TOPICS WITH FAITH AND FICTION (Pauline Books & Media 2014), is a resource book for parents and teachers who want to help middle school and junior high students deal with moral challenges using faith.
JaNay Brown-Wood has published poetry in Highlights for Children and her debut picture book, IMANI’S MOON (Mackinac Island Press, October 14, 2014) is about a young Maasi girl with a loving mother and a desire to do something great. When she decides she wants to touch the moon, she works hard to reach her goal, even in the face of teasing from the naysayers around her. IMANI’S MOON won the 2013 NAESP Children’s Book of the Year Picture Book award.
Kerrie Hollihan writes award-winning nonfiction history and science books for young people. Her latest book, REPORTING UNDER FIRE (Chicago Review Press, June 1, 2014), is about 16 trailblazing war correspondents who are also 16 trailblazing women. How appropriate to share Kerrie’s work on the day our country celebrates Memorial Day. In between researching and writing, Kerrie is the fearless leader of our local SCBWI group.