Writing Processes Blog Tour

Thank you to Penny Morrison for inviting me to be part of the ‘Writing Processes Blog Tour.’

Penny is the author of the Hey! series and is currently having her debut picture book illustrated  (to be published by Walker Books Au). How exciting is that!

Have a look at Penny’s post for the ‘Writing Processes Tour.

So here are the following questions to explain my processes:

Works in progress
Works in progress

What am I working on?

Everything at the moment, which feels a bit hectic. But I am working for 3 deadlines/closing dates which are happening in the following week:

  • I have to submit manuscripts for appraisals at this years SCBWI Conference
  • submit a manuscript to CYA Conference Writing Competition
  • submit a manuscript to KBR Unpublished Picture Book Award Competition

Actually, the first one is the only job I have to do, but the second two are what I need to do to help me develop into a more satisfying and successful writer. Entering competitions helps you work towards deadlines. Some offer feedback sheets which are invaluable and help you to spot strengths and weaknesses in your own work.

So, what am I working on?

3 chapter books/ middle grade novels

1 rhyming picture book manuscript ( I know, rumour has it that they are not easy to sell to publishers, unless the ryhme is perfect – I intend to make it perfect 😉

2 prose picture books

and Tania McCartney’s 52 Week Illustration Challenge

This weeks theme: Horse
This weeks theme: Horse

How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

I learnt a new word last year – scatalogical. I submitted a manuscript to an American Literary Agency for Julie Hedlund’s 12 X 12 Writing Challenge (write 12 picture book manuscripts in 12 months). The agent replied to me with a very nice rejection letter explaing that ‘scatalogical’ humour was not her thing.

I don’t know why but many of my manuscripts seem to contain scatalogical humour in some shape or form including: cow pats, bird poo, super-glue poo. Maybe that’s how it differs.

I also have two manuscripts which have a connection to the island I was born on – Jersey, Channel Islands.

Why do I write what I do?

I have often read blogs that say don’t write to trends, write about what you know or enjoy.

Well, I know about Jersey, living on a tiny island and Jersey cows.

But I’m not an expert on a great variety of poos – although I have stood in dog poo (which isn’t lucky) and bird poo has landed on me  (but that’s ok because it’s lucky.)

I love history and therefore I have two manuscripts that are historical. Both are based around real events. One is a picture book which made my daughter cry. She thought it was a horrible story as the father wasn’t going to make it back in time for his daughter’s birthday. (She threw the manuscript on the floor!)

The other one is a middle grade novel which is so exciting to write but difficult too. It is based in 50BC and as I wasn’t around then it is quite hard to make sure I am including details that would have existed then, eg: food, transport, tradition, clothes (or lack of – Gauls had been known to fight naked!), family life, rules, etc…

How does my writing process work?

In the past I have entered Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Ideas Month). Or I have seen something in the news or in the newspaper, on Facebook or something my kids have done – and Bingo! It has given me an idea.

I then go through the following quick checklist:

  • WHO is the main character?
  • WHAT is the problem/ inciting event?
  • WHERE is this happening?
  • WHEN is it happening?

I write the first draft. Spell check it. Read it out loud into my voice memo onto my iphone (this is especially useful for my rhymimg text)

I have recently come across this devise to help you hear your work: http://www.naturalreaders.com/index.php

I also get my 8 year old daughter to read out the manuscript aloud.

Then I meet up with my brilliant critique group and they give me valuable feedback on the good and the bad. And I rewrite, rewrite and rewrite until the writing feels polished and every word is needed. This can sometimes be hard to judge.

And now to introduce next week’s blogger;

Rob Harding

Rob Harding
Rob Harding

Rob Harding is a voice-over artist, TV presenter and kids author. You have probably heard Rob’s voice before – perhaps on the radio or TV for Coke or Optus or perhaps one of those ads where he shouts at you about a Massive Clearance Sale. He appears on the BBC’s pre-school channel CBeebies, where he gets to dress up as a gnome and speak in a pirate accent, although usually not at the same time. 

Rob has also written several critically acclaimed children’s books. At this stage, none of these books have actually been published, so the critical acclaim only comes from Rob’s kids. His wife thinks they’re OK. His dog thinks they stink. (Which actually isn’t such a bad thing because she used to eat her own poopy.)

Find out more at www.robharding.com.
 
Thanks for stopping by,
Ramona x

Join a critique group

notes written on my manuscript by fellow members of my briliiant critique group
notes written on my manuscript by fellow members of my briliiant critique group

If you want to be a writer, whether it be for picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult or adult novels, whatever the age or genre the best thing you can do for yourself and your craft is to join a critique group. I have been in my critique group for nearly three years now and not only has my own writing changed and improved with time  but it has also been a joy to watch the everyone else improve their writing too.

 

It will always amaze me at how differently everyone sees your own work. How useful it is when errors are spotted that you had not noticed because you have got too close to your work. Putting your manuscript down for a few days, weeks or months can sometimes really help you see your own work with fresh eyes. Sometimes you think you have written the obvious and the bonus of a critique group is that you will get a very good idea as to whether or not you have got your story across clearly.

 

Critiquing is quite a specific skill and doesn’t necessarily come easily so it is worth reading up a few books or writing blogs about how to do it correctly and most importantly without hurting someone’s feelings.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • always start with something positive first – no matter how you feel about the story. It may be the concept, the title, the rhyme, the characters, etc. Find something you liked about it.
  • does the title suit the story and give you a clue as to what the story is about – would it make you want to pick the book up from the book shelves?
  • is the story a unique idea or an old idea done in a new fresh way?
  • does the beginning of the story grab you – do you want to read on?
  • can you get a good sense of who the main character is or are there too many main characters and you are getting confused?
  • is there an obstacle/problem in the story and is this apparent early on in the storyline (preferably within the first few pages)
  • Does the problem get resolved?
  • Is the ending satisfying – does it have a surprise twist or does it have an ‘ahh, that’s lovely’ feeling about it?
  • is the language used within the manuscript appropriate for the age range that the book is written for?

and the biggest question of all is: would a child ask for your book to be read to them again and again and again, because that is the ultimate compliment and sign of success!

If you would like to join a critique group then contact your nearest Writers Centre or start one of your own!

Here are some links to help you with critiquing your own work or others:

ebooks4writers

writing on the sidewalk

writing and illustrating

 

 

 

Participating

Write a 'To do..' list to help you get started and keep on track!

Once the last of my Christmas visitors have left I will be able to get down and back into my writing and drawing. Polishing, revising and rewriting manuscripts. Some I have recently received back from professional editors and manuscript assessors, and now have lots to read and think about.

Once I feel my many stories are up to scratch they will be submitted to a variety of competitions, publishing houses and critique groups.

Here are some things you might like to participate in:

Manuscript Monday with Pan Macmillan Australia

January Contest with QueryTracker.net blog

Children’s & Young Adult Writers and Illustrator’s Contest with CYA Conference

Frustrated Writers 2012 with the The Children’s Book Council of Australia

Don’t forget to join some groups yourself!

SCBWI Australia & New Zealand have just got a facebook page up and running, check it out:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/SCBWI-Australia-and-New-Zealand/239873816092316?ref=ts&sk=wall

GOODLUCK!