#mywritingprocess blog tour
What’s a business major like me doing in children’s literature? Well, it’s a long story, but the bottom line has to do with my children. All three of my children have learning disabilities, so I wrote this story to help other children with learning differences find comfort and hope.
A big shout out and thank you to Christy Lynn Allen, author of the Samantha Green Mysteries Series for inviting me to join in this blog tour. Christy and I are in a critique group together and she was the one that inspired me to self-publish You’ve Got Verve, Jamie Ireland! Christy is always doing something fun and creative. I admire how many interesting projects and adventures she is involved while still finding time to write.
What are you working on?
I’m working on three things right now. First, as a self-published author, I must wear many hats and one is a book marketer. Being an introverted person, this process doesn’t come easy, but I’m learning a lot along the way. And I feel such joy whenever the answer is yes! A recent success for me was planning and hosting my own publishing party at Ciel Gallery in Charlotte. I was able to entertain and thank many of the people who have been so supportive to me on this journey.
Maureen Ryan Griffin and Lisa Otter Rose with musician Philip H. Mancuso
Second, I’m working on a new novel that is set in the suburbs of Chicago. The story explores the relationship between next-door neighbors and best friends. He’s in fifth grade and she’s in fourth. The story is told from their alternating points of view. Now that I have both characters voices well established I plan on flushing out the heart of the story over the summer.
Third, I’m working on a story about a sixth grade girl. It takes place in Westcott, North Carolina. Westcott is a fictitious suburb of Charlotte and it’s where my first novel, You’ve Got Verve, Jamie Ireland! is set. I love Westcott because it’s an old-fashioned mill town that has a folksy family vibe. The town brings to life the North Carolina that I know and love.
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Considering the fact that one out five children has dyslexia and/or a related learning disability, it is amazing that there are so few books written about children with learning disabilities. Because of the lack of children’s literature dealing with learning disabilities, I am trying to explore these topics through my protagonist’s eyes. All children should know that they are special and perfect just the way they are and I hope Jamie Ireland and my other characters show them that they can find their own inner strengths. I enjoy creating characters that are realistic and multi-dimensional and I believe my writing differs because no two writers are alike. Even the writer I was three years ago is different from the writer I’ve become. And I’d venture to guess, the writer I am now will evolve with time.
All of my stories have strong family values at their core because family is a very important to me. I like to create realistic relationships between siblings. For example, Jamie and her older brother Jake enjoy hanging out together, but they still have their share of sibling rivalry.
Why do you write what you do?
I wrote You’ve Got Verve, Jamie Ireland! to raise awareness about learning disabilities. I have dysgraphia, and although I’ve never been officially diagnosed, I struggle with grammar, spelling, and messy handwriting just like Jamie. I wanted to put a book on the shelves that could reach readers with learning differences. I created Jamie Ireland because too many dyslexic children have been told they are lazy and stupid by adults and I want to put an end to this myth. We need to change the education system in order to teach children in ways that help them achieve their full potential. Often times that means not teaching to the test, but teaching to reach each individual student.
How does your writing process work?
This is my favorite question! Thanks for asking. My process is a multi-layered approach. First, I’m a member of a writing group led by Maureen Ryan Griffin and her class provides a consistent place to sketch out characters, develop plot, receive feedback, and be part of a nurturing community of writers that love and support each other.
Next, I need time to ponder and mull. It may look like I’m doing nothing, but during this stage my subconscious is doing all the heavy lifting. Sometimes I sing plot points to my chickens, sometimes I read dialogue to my dogs, it’s all part of the process.
In the third stage, I go into seclusion and write. I don’t do anything else. I may write for eighteen hours straight, go to sleep for a few hours and then write for another ten. I don’t like to talk to anyone during this time. All I do is write and go for an occasional walk. This may sound extremely lonely and odd, but it’s the best way I’ve found to bring my characters to life. When I reach the point where I miss other human beings, then I know its time to head back to civilization.
And finally, comes the editing phase. Sometimes I love this stage. Sometimes I cry because I have to let go of my dear little darlings that I’ve worked so hard to develop. Writing as a craft comes easy for me, but grammar and spelling are difficult because of my dysgraphia. I keep making the same grammar mistakes over and over. This is time-consuming and frustrating, but I’m extremely grateful to my editors for their patience and understanding with my learning difference. Also spell check rocks.
Up next in the #mywritingprocess blog tour is Jennifer Larson
Jennifer is a children’s writer living in Charlotte, NC. She is a graduate of UNC Charlotte and a former middle school and high school English teacher. Currently, she is self-publishing her first children’s book, Lost Soles, a story about a pair of flip flops that get separated from each other after a day at the beach with their human companion. When Flippy flies off the beach cart, he will not only have to adjust to life without his “sole mate,”but he will have to survive the tide, escape from the clutches of a dog, and much more! The idea for her story stems from her fascination with lone shoes seen on the sides of roads, along the highway, and in other random places. Jennifer wanted to know their story and how they’d come to rest alone in such odd places. Lost Soles chronicles the journey of a lost flip-flop and imagines life after the separation from a beloved other half. Jennifer is awaiting the book’s release early this summer while writing and working on two other children’s picture books. You can check her out at www.authorjenniferlarson.com or authorjenniferlarson.blogspot.com