Monday, April 21, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour

I’m delighted to be participating in the Writing Process Blog Tour. I was tagged last week by the amazing Gretchen McNeil, author of scary stories like 3:59 and the Don’t Get Mad series coming this fall from Balzer & Bray. Now I’ll try to share a few secrets (or whatever) of my own.

What am I working on?  I’m currently working on two projects. One is another verse novel—my first with a male narrator. The other is currently indescribable because I’m only about 50 pages into the rough draft—plus notes and the big, shiny idea of it, of course!

How does my work differ from others of its genre? I’m a verse novelist which is a small genre already. I suppose the thing that distinguishes my work that, in addition to being contemporary stories about teens, relationships and family, I always include an artistic element. AUDITION, was set in the world of ballet. THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, explores the life of a teen jazz musician. My current verse w-i-p has another arts element but is more about sports than stage performance.

Why do I write what I do?  I never really chose to write in verse but, in 2010, I took a verse novel writing workshop with Ellen Hopkins and the form just spoke to me. Writing in verse, I felt a deeper connection to my characters and their stories. Having grown up as a dancer, I love exploring notions of performance and identity so this has influenced the subjects of my work.

How does your writing process work?  I am definitely a “pantser," writing without an outline. I start with a character, a situation and the words “what-if.” However, as I work into my first draft, I develop a clear sense of where I am driving the story. I support my pantsing with a lot of research, including interviews with professionals in various fields, to understand my main characters' interests, talents, hobbies and family situations. I write for 1-4 hours a day, primarily in chronological order and number my verses as I go. At the end, I write “WORK BEGINS HERE” in the body of the text plus a few notes to help me launch back in. I also have this superstitious quirk: I don’t type “THE END” until I feel I’ve got the kind of solid draft I can send to my agent, which requires several revision passes including one for chronology and another to scrub-out my over-used words (especially “so”).  The process takes a lot of time and, the more I write, the more I'm sure it doesn’t get easier--but the wonder of the experience does not diminish either!

I’ve enjoyed reading other WRITING PROCESS posts along the tour. It helps to know I’m not the only writer without a perfect “plan” for starting AND finishing a novel!

Want more craft?  For next Monday, I'm tagging Katherine Longshore, author of the Gilt series from Viking (get ready for Brazen, pubbing in June) and Manor of Secrets from Scholastic and Molly Blaisdell, whose debut YA, Plumb Crazy, will be published by Swoon Romance (also in June). Both Katy and Molly are true “writer’s writers”--generous with their feedback, supportive of the writing community and serious, hard-working students of the art and craft. I can't wait to read their posts next week!

Are you a PLOTTER of a PANTSER? Do you have any manuscript writing SUPERSTITIONS? Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, April 18, 2014


Seems like a little thing, but it's kind of awesome and enormous. All you have to is carry a poem in your pocket today and, maybe, if you can find a way, share it with someone (even if it's just your dog).

You don't even need to find a poem because the Academy of American Poets has an app for that (or a widget or something--I don't know exactly what it is but it's easy enough for even me). Here it is:

Here's the poem I'll be pocketing. It's one of my all-time favorites:

When I Heard the Learned Astronomer
  by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
   and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
   much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rock the Drop!

Today is Support Teen Literature Day and, along with that, it's Readergirlz annual Rock the Drop--a day on which participants "drop" books to be discovered by other readers (more details can be found by clicking on "Readergirlz" above and following the link).

Looking to support Autism Awareness Month and Rock the Drop? Here are two great titles to leave for future readers. As for me, I'll be dropping a copy of TSoLG somewhere in my hometown.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


I'm guest posting at the blog of the inimitable E. Kristin Anderson today. The topic? My intellectual crush on Paul Fussell. WHO IS PAUL FUSSELL, you ask? Click over and see!