Monday, June 30, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour

I'm so pleased to be tagged by my dear  friend Maryanne Fantalis in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Maryanne is one of those people who quickly went from "writing friend" to just plain "friend". Though we have yet to meet in person, I know one day our paths will cross. When we do, it is going to be one seriously memorable happy hour!

She is not only a talented writer, she gives wonderfully clear and precise feedback as a reader and critique partner. Her WIP, a retelling of the Taming of the Shrew, is fantastic. She is also a life-long Shakespeare aficionado and a self-professed history nerd. Check her blog out!

On to the writing process blog tour: All of the writers participating in the tour answer four simple questions about their writing process. You can follow a path from this post and see how other authors organize their time and produce their work.
What are you currently working on?
I've just finished edits on my sci-fi steampunk Mina Takes the Sky, based on the reign of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.  I have been getting feedback from a lovely agent for about a year on this-- I think we're in our fourth round of edits-- between the baby and tenure, I lost count. Everything this agent has sent me has been fantastic advice, and now it's back in her court. We shall see.

While taking a break from that, I've been thinking a lot about my very first novel, a mystery featuring a bug-collecting  protagonist. I can't quite let this story go, and right now I'm devoting mental energy to thinking about how I want that story to develop. Because of my busy schedule, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I want a plot to develop-- then when I sit down to write, I can plunge in without hesitation. 
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I must confess, I have been avoiding reading steampunk in the last two years because I don't want my work to be derivative. I have a stack of books that I'm eager to read, including Arthur Slade's The Hunchback Assignments, Megan Spooner's Skylark, and the rest of Westerfeld's Leviathan series (I only read the first book).

I chose steampunk because I wanted to build a world around these clockwork insects and flowers:

It feels odd to me to say that I write sci-fi or steampunk-- to me those are really just the tools I use. I think my favorite books in sci-fi have a cool concept, but don't rely on the "cool concept" to carry the book.

My goal is to create a fully realized alternative world-- but it's not about the world-- it's about the people and the choices they make. It's about adventure, mystery, and a little romance. And, it should make you laugh from time to time.

This is what a aspire to do, and I fully acknowledge that I'm a work in progress. 
Why do I write what I write?
I have always loved mysteries. From obvious Nancy Drew books (it was always the "swarthy" character, which is problematic on so many levels, Nancy) to cunning shows like Sherlock or The Bletchley Circle, which make my mind spin in the best way.

There is a mystery at the heart of all of my favorite books, and that is what I follow. I have written contemporary MG manuscripts, YA dystopian, and this YA steampunk-- but truly, they are all mysteries.

Even more than reading a mystery I love trying to craft my own. How do you leave a trail of clues that aren't too obvious? How do you make such a logical path that the reader can look up from the last page and say "a-ha! it was there all the time, and I just didn't put it together."? It's the best kind of problem, and I hope to keep grappling with it for a long time. 
How does my individual writing process work?
I spend my down time reading and thinking about plotting and characterization. When I finally get the time to sit in front of the computer, I rarely have a problem getting the words out.
That being said, I tend to spend a lot of time re-writing (and likely should spend more). I tell my students that writing IS re-writing, and it's as true for a research paper as it is for a manuscript.
At least for me.
I find my best ideas come after taking a break and coming back to a manuscript.
My biggest weakness is that my need to re-write is often at war with my perpetual impatience. 
Tag, you’re it!
I am tagging the lovely and inspiring Glenna from Blue Lipstick Samurai. She is talented, hardworking, and very very funny. She has been busy with college the last few years (and as a college professor, I fully support this!), but I have no doubt one day she will return to the world of blogging.

And I'd also like to tag, YOU, dear reader. Yes, you. If you've already done this blog tour (and I know many of you have), please leave a link to it in the comments. If you'd like to but haven't yet, consider yourself officially tagged, and leave your link in the comments, too. 


  1. I'm crossing my fingers for you and that agent!!

    1. Thank you, Ghenet-- her help has been invaluable, no matter the outcome. :0)

    2. Which is to say: I'm crossing my fingers, too. Big time. She's so fantastic.

  2. I love reading mysteries and watching them on TV (I just finished The Bletchley Circle!), but I have no clue how to construct them myself, so I have tremendous respect for those who can. You are also adept at creating a "fully realized alternative world" and I have no doubt that we will soon see your books in stores!

    I had not realized that Mina was real from history! :)

    1. British mysteries are my favorite-- I watch them ALL and love them all in different ways, but Bletchley Circle is fantastic. Have you seen Endeavor?

  3. I'm hoping for good news from the agent for you. (And about Queen Wilhelmina--cool!)

    BTW, I really love your drawings.

  4. I'm so glad you shared, Kat! LOVE those clockwork insects and flowers -- I'd totally read a story inspired by them. Best of luck with this project, lady!

  5. Hi, Katherine! Arrived here through Maryanne's post...

    I love mysteries! When I was in high school, the prompt on my AP English exam was about mysteries. I used Pride and Prejudice to argue that all books are essentially mysteries in one way or another. British mysteries are the best! I could watch them all day.

    1. What an awesome prompt, Courtney-- mine was about Jungian philosophy, and it was so long ago I don't remember what I wrote!
      I completely agree with your thesis, I think all books have a mystery at their core. It's one of the things I love best about reading. :0)

  6. I'm so glad you did this! I loved hearing what you're working on now.


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