Monday, October 21, 2013

Blog Tour

Thanks, Amy White, my Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers (WIFYR) colleague for allowing me to be apart of this blog tour. This writing librarian can be reached at

Uh oh, I’m in trouble. On this blog tour, the idea is to send readers to three other blogs, each of which send to three more, and so on and so forth. 

I didn’t do that.

Poor, pitiful me. I was on a cruise, enjoying the warm Mexican Riviera. Out of country, out of wi-fi, I was too cheap to pay the ship’s absurd charges for internet. Plus after a couple of days in vacation mode, I had forgotten about any obligations back home. 

And in the mad scramble to pack and get ready, I failed to line up the next three blog sites. So instead, allow me to direct writers to other sites I’ve found useful, nay, I can’t live without. But first, the questions:

What am I working on right now? Currently I’m not working on much. I am in the middle of two projects that have both ground to a halt. Over the summer, I finished one I call RockyDog. The narrator is a dog who is trying to communicate with his human. I was quite proud of the thing and was about to send it off to publishers when the amazing Carol Williams (see below) offered to go over it. Carol knows fiction writing and found a few issues with it that I haven’t figured out how to correct.

Trying to repair that and story and going into la-de-dah cruise/vacation mode, the other story I have been working on has fallen by the wayside. It is a book revolving around the lost colony of Roanoke.

How do they differ from what I’ve written before? The Roanoke story is similar to another I wrote in that a modern day kid is placed in a historical setting. I like historical fiction but I don’t think it is well-received by young readers so I’ve tried placing a modern day kid in a historical setting through some kind of time travel device. RockyDog is very differint from anything I’ve written and most things I’ve read. You don’t have a dog MC and narrator too often. 

Why do I write what I do? As an elementary classroom teacher for thirty-plus years, I’ve felt upper grade reluctant boy readers have very few choices. There are easy to read chapter books but with their younger grade target audience, they don’t appeal to older kids. The main characters are too goody-goody (as 2nd grade students are) and the stories too tame. Fifth and sixth grade kids are more likely to push the boundaries of acceptable behavior and I want my books to identify with those people.

How does my writing process work? Right now, it’s not working too well at all. In better days, the seed somehow gets planted and then it takes a while to germinate, years in some cases. My first story rolled around in my brain for 20 years or more. I had watched Ale Hailey’s Roots on TV and felt I had not been teaching history correctly. There is so much raw emotion in the lives of people throughout history, and there is today. I tried writing a story about slavery and did so by placing a modern black boy in Africa where he was captured as a slave and brought to America. After working it for a year, a friend told me about Carol Williams WIFYR conference. I took the story there only to realize how immature my writing was. I’ve been growing every since.

My process then has been to start with that idea and just write as a “pantser,” from the seat of my pants. The RockyDog book went well that way but my Roanoke story has floundered for the year I have been working on it. I’m now reading KM Weiland’s book on outlining a novel and am ready to sit down and plot it out before I waste much more time writing blindly, hoping it finds a direction to head off into.

Favorite blog sites:
I subscribe to several sites dedicated to writing. The first is the Utah Children’s Writers blog ( There are several excellent bloggers here and I was honored to be asked to contribute a weekly blog with them on Saturdays.

Also close to home is Carol Williams’ site, Carol is a talented author but her greatest accomplishment is her dedication to Utah children’s writers. Carol teaches writing at BYU and yearly conducts the Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers conference (WIFYR). She pulls in editors and agents and other authors for this week-long event. Mornings are spent in workshops run by authors who know the writing craft and publishing business. More info can be found here: and their blog is at

From the Mixed-Up Files… of Middle-Grade Authors is another favorite blog site is

Last, the next blog site is not necessarily about writing but is authored by Ann Cannon, the instructor I learned under in this last summers’ WIFYR. Ann has published PB to YA and writes a weekly column for the local newspaper. Her blog site is quiet entertaining.

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