Writing Process Blog Tour

I was tagged by Penny Klostermann for the Writing Process Blog Tour.
Despite all of Penny’s updates and reminders, I forgot to handle a huge detail of the blog hop. I forgot to line people up before I posted to the blog tour. Hmm. I always feel like I’m breaking a chain letter, when I do this. Anyone want to help me out and consider yourself tagged? Let me know in the comments.
Participating in the Writing Process Blog Tour involves 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 just completed the National Picture Book Writing Week or NaPiBoWriWee.
I drafted seven new picture book manuscripts. I wrote one story two different ways, so I have eight really. Of those, maybe four are worth revising. I’ll give myself a few weeks before revisiting these drafts. I have an eighth idea that I want to begin today. Then, I’ll revise several other stories before I submit them to editors and agents, who are offering critiques at the upcoming WOW Retreat.
I also write {revise really} memoir. While at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, I spoke with agents and attended workshops on the non-fiction craft. Oh … it can be depressing, but there is work to do, so I should focus on moving forward.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? My latest drafts tend to fall in the category of the snarky, picture book characters. Someone used the word “subversive” about one of my characters recently, who is not a traditional bear. While there are plenty of stories with bears, I’m trying to make my Henry stand out.
For memoir, well, it’s my story and no one else can write it.
3. Why do I write what I do? I love picture books for their entertainment value. If they can educate children or parents — BONUS! I love picture books for the pure joy of a funny line or a beautiful illustration. They just make me happy.
I love memoir, because I have always loved learning from other people.
4. How does your writing process work? I’ve written about my efforts to Just Write a couple of times. I try not to be overwhelmed by similar books on the market. If I did, then I would likely NEVER write a story. I mean every story HAS BEEN TOLD, right?
I participate in challenges to keep me motivated throughout the year. As a recovering journalist, I like the deadlines challenges provide.

Thankful Thursday: The Death Writer

Thankful Thursday: The Death Writer

I know. It sounds kinda dark. The blog is a little dark too — as in a black background with white letters. Most bloggers know that doesn’t work all the time. When the topic is death, well, I say it does.

The Death Writer aka Pamela writes about death. She doesn’t write about death in a creepy or gory way. Instead, she puts a very human touch on an unpleasant experience.

I found her blog during the book tour for Susan Oloier’s book Fractured. The Death Writer shared her own experience of a miscarriage in this post Unspeakable Loss and talked about Susan’s book. I needed that blog post, because several women around me had miscarriages in recent months.

In Pamela’s about me she writes:

I blog about death, but don’t let that scare you. I wrote my master’s thesis on people who work with death and turned it into a memoir. I think talking about death is important. Heck, reading about it and then talking about it is cool too! Despite the scary death writer name, I’m a pretty funny gal.

Her blog schedule also illustrates a great niche blog. Her posts include Monday Mournings where she interviews people about how they dealt with death, Tuesday features a movie that has death in it and every other Wednesday features a writer, who has written about death, or a person, who deals with death in his or her profession.

I shared about Jimmy’s death for this Monday Mournings: The Death of a Spouse post. It’s an interesting series, because everyone is so different. If you ever write about death, The Death Writer’s site is definitely a resource to investigate death issues and how people grieve.

I hope my friends in the United States had a wonderful Fourth of July. We enjoyed an evening without fireworks in Colorado. The Waldo Canyon Fire is 90 percent contained. A round of applause for the firefighters!

Our community was hard hit by this fire as two people died and 346 homes were destroyed. Are you Prepared? is a great post from the Writing From the Peak blog for the Pikes Peak Writers group. I never considered what work I would take or leave in an emergency until last week. It reminds me of how many picture book manuscripts I have written in longhand versus typing in a file I can store in the “cloud.” Adding type manuscripts to my To Do list.

Let’s see, I’ve talked about death and a devastating wildfire. Want to wow us with something fun? A napping cat video or a funny baby?

Thankful Thursday: The Memoir Project

Thankful Thursday: The Memoir Project

The cliché advice I received while living the events of my memoir — “Take it one day at a time” — is also part of my revision strategy. Progress is slow, but I’m taking it one page at a time. 

Continuing with a revision theme this month, I’m sharing a resource for memoirs. I finished my “vomit draft” this year after reading The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith.
On The Memoir Project Blog, Marion shares News You can Use with examples of short memoir — an op-ed or personal essay. She encourages you to read and study the links. Some links from her site:
My recent favorite The Power Of Memoir. Listen In. This post includes a link to a one-minute radio essay from Dr. G. Thomas Couser “Memoir and Social Change.” I like this one, because I saw fiction writers discourage another writer from writing a memoir in an online writer’s group discussion. Citing the book-buying market and the writer’s first-time status, she was encouraged to write her story as fiction. 
I’m all for being realistic. However, the discussion made me wonder how many books would be published, if we all listened to “the market isn’t buying …” or “no one wants a book from a first-time author” advice? Fiction writers certainly don’t. First-time novelists are published. Picture book writers don’t. First-time picture book writers are published. Memoir writers don’t. First-time memoirists are published. If we all followed this advice, we would only have books from celebrities like Snooki or true-crimes from the headlines memoirs.
I haven’t looked back at the writer group’s discussion, but I shared that I am writing a memoir using many fiction techniques to craft my story. However, I pointed out — “It’s a true story and that’s how I’m writing it.” Plus, I shared Marion’s book and blog as a resource. 
Thanks to Susan Oloier for giving me Kreative Blogger Award. She’s a busy writer with a blog, with a collection of essays about growing up in the 1980s My Life as a Misfit and with the recent release of her novel Fractured about miscarriage and marriage. She also had an essay published in February on The Daily Beast about her son Zane, who has Trisomy 18.
I should also say thanks for letting me vent about the “first-time” part. Have you been on any writer rants this week?
The End

The End

A sample of some of my source material for my MIP — Memoir in Progress.

I hope to type The End on my vomit draft of my memoir this week. Those two words don’t mean I’m finished.

After reading Marion Roach Smith’s The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life, I set a goal to write five pages, five days a week. My new focus gave me a fresh hour to write. Most days, I managed to write my pages, make notes on where I should begin the next day and comment on a few blogs before Enzo woke up. I completed five pages every day but one.

I did a lot of the legwork for the memoir several years ago. I received several “send its” at a conference and a request for the full book proposal and chapters. Nothing happened, but my proposal helped me during this draft phase.

I wrote most of the vomit draft fresh. I scrapped more than 125 pages of already written, critiqued material in the process. I deleted a couple of chapters. I added new ones. I saved 21 pages.

By mid-week, I hope to type The End and move on to goal No. 3 for the year — read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’ve explained the why here in No. 7.

Once I finish the Harry Potter series, I’ll revise the vomit draft. It’s going to be fun to fact check my own work. I inserted notes as I typed to remind me to check a source for specific details.

What sources you might ask? Well, my late husband communicated primarily with an auditory scanning system, so I had to write down each letter as he spelled out his words. This old post explains how we communicated one letter at a time.

I have a box of notebooks with many of our conversations, my journal, his journal, newspaper articles and my newspaper columns on the topic of those four years after his stroke and before his death. Had I stopped to check these sources during my vomit draft, well, I might still be writing the first chapter.

As I enter the editing phase, it makes me wonder if I can begin a new project or whether I should just focus on my revisions. Do you write and revise at the same time or focus on just one manuscript?

I'm creating vomit

I'm creating vomit

Photo by Tracy S. Williams

Well, I’m creating the written variety.

Since Jan. 2, I’ve been getting up early, walking down the hall and sitting at my desk. How is this different than my Jan. 1 routine? I’m not reading news sites, commenting on blogs or checking the weather — out the window or on an app. I’m putting “butt in chair,” opening a Word file and writing.
One of my 2012 goals is to write five pages a day, five days a week. 
I won’t bore you with the details every week, but for my first week — it worked! I have 25 pages or around 6,500 words. 
I came up with this routine after reading Marion Roach Smith’s The Memoir Project:  A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life. I found this book through  Jeff Goins blog when he interviewed Smith. I checked out her website and purchased her book for the Kindle to read over Christmas. 
After extracting the Kindle from Hubby’s Angry Birds-playing-hands, I finished reading Smith’s book before New Year’s Eve. She shares wonderful stories to illustrate her points on writing memoir whether it’s a book for publication, an essay or a treasured family memory. 
Several points in Smith’s book struck me as doable for my memoir-in-progress manuscript:
  • Start small
  • Write with intent
  • A punch list for a memoir project
Here’s a video from Smith’s website:
“The Memoir Project” from Marion Roach Smith on Vimeo.

Here are some recent posts on her site:

By the time I read Smith’s book, I already decided this would be the year for a completed MIP draft. Her book gave me a nudge to make sure it happens in five pages a day. 
Are you trying a new writing method this year or want to share what works for you?