I was invited by my writer friend, Jeanette O’Hagan, to take part in The Blog Award Tour. We met years ago in a book club, and our children attend the same school. I think our journeys as writers started in earnest at about the same time, so it’s been very encouraging to watch Jenny go from strength to strength.
Jeanette is an avid fantasy and science-fiction fan. She has lived in Australia and Africa. She has practiced medicine, taught theology, accumulated a few degrees and is currently caring for her young children, enjoying post-graduate studies in writing at Swinburne University and writing her Akrad Legacy series. She is actively involved in a caring Christian community.
Check out her blog to read about her fantastic books and projects.
Jeanette asked me to answer four questions as a part of the tour.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’m in submission mode, which is my optimistic reframe of waiting. (Cue cricket sounds). My most recent manuscript, Toby Fitzroy & the Quest for the Scales of Time was launched into the world in early July at a writers’ conference where I pitched to four editors. Happily, all four asked to see the full manuscript. It’s been sent off, and now, well, I wait.
But I’m not twiddling my thumbs, and I’m definitely not checking my inbox every quarter hour. I’m using my writing time to research agents and publishers where Toby might find a home. It astounds me how much time the submission process consumes. I find it hard to accomplish much writing–other than customised query letters and synopses.
Beyond submissions, I am in the pre-writing stage of my next work. One editor at the CYA conference asked about sequels, so I’m doing preliminary research and developing another epic adventure for Toby. India is a prospective backdrop, and I am so excited at the possibility of including elephants, tigers, and not-so-helpless princesses. 1856 is a fascinating time in Indian history. If you don’t believe me, read MM Kaye’s The Far Pavilions. *Swoon* Check out my research shelf on GoodReads to see my list of books. And if you know of a resource (fiction or non) I should check out, please leave a comment…
HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN YOUR GENRE?
I love to weave myth, folklore, and fairy tales into my adventure stories. At the same time, anchoring the story in a historical place is crucial, and getting the details right is very important to me. Hiding sneaky little titbits in words and names is a bit of fun I indulge in. Nobody needs to know but me. *Wiggles fingers fiendishly…*
WHY DO YOU WRITE OR CREATE WHAT YOU DO?
I remember the exact moment in my childhood when I fell in love with books and reading. I long to recreate that specific experience of wonder and enchantment for a new generation of readers.
I want my readers to be comforted and inspired while falling in love with literature. Always in the back of mind are girls who in certain parts of the world are denied education and freedom and treated like a sub-species. How my heart aches for little girls who are treated unjustly because they are female. I wish I could offer them some reprieve from misery and fear with stories of beauty, possibility, and promise. Is that too much to ask of literature? Probably. But I’ll keep trying.
HOW DOES YOUR WRITING/CREATIVE PROCESS WORK?
I spend months in the pre-writing stage. Throughout this stage, I sample from lots of books and take copious notes. I keep my heart and ears open, because you never know what the universe will offer up. The other day at the library, I checked out a stack of books, but none of them was “spot on.” As I walked toward the door, something caught my eye on the new release shelf. A shiny, new copy of Tears of the Rajas by Ferdinand Mount winked at me. It was perfect. Back to the check-out counter I went.
I research until I stumble upon what I call my Propelling Nugget of Goodness (PNG). This is a deliciously quirky fact that makes my story take off.
With Toby Fitz, my PNG was a fact about Queen Victoria’s uncle, William IV. I’d been wondering what England would have been like in the 19th Century if Vicky hadn’t reigned. She became queen because her uncle didn’t have a legitimate heir. (Mind you, he spawned a tribe to a popular stage actress, but no living heir to Queen Adelaide.) Adelaide had four babies to him, two girls, Charlotte and Elizabeth, who died, and (here’s the PNG) twin boys who were stillborn and unnamed. I named them (Augustus and James) and gave those boys’ lives. I explored the dynamics between the twin who would be king and the other, the “spare heir.” I imagined an England without Victoria. Voila and hey presto! Victorian England became Augustan England. It was so fun! Interestingly, all this royal intrigue withdrew to the background of my story, informing it in lots of ways.
Once the story takes off, I write a long synopsis of the story. I spend some time crafting the climax and end first. I break the story down into a three-part outline in which I imagine as many of the scenes as I can. All the while my characters are taking shape. I begin to create profiles for them, well aware of the fact that I won’t really “know” them until the story gets going. When I’m happy with the outline, I begin writing the first draft. While I write, I keep a working file of questions and problems.
After the first draft is finished, I begin editing. I find some beta readers and get their feedback. I write another draft, which I send to a professional l editor. I keep editing until it’s ready to release.
That’s all for today. Thanks to Jenny for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour!
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Blogging Fun by Mike Licht