Monday, May 5, 2014

My Writing Process - Blog Tour

Thanks to fellow GAP author, Donna McDine, for tagging me for this blog tour on our writing process.  See her post on her blog: 
with more about Donna and her books at:

Donna's Books...
Now I’ll answer 4 questions about my writing process: 
What am I working on?
I’m working on several projects, all in children's books. 

I’ve been working on a Picture Book (PB): about my Grandma’s Pink House -- a “colorful” remembrance, almost a tribute to my grandma, written to show how life was like for kids of my generation – running and playing “freely” outdoors – which is so different from the life of kids today.  I've gotten  some authors’ critiques and ideas to consider in my re-working. I want to get this special book just right.

I’ve also been working on another PB, I’m Going to My Friend’s House for Dinner -- a young girl's concern about what kind of food her foreign born friend might serve her.  It showcases our  "pluralistic” and multi-cultural society through the different foods we eat from our different cultural heritages. Wondering where I should submit it.

I have a historical Middle Grade (MG) novel, The Perfect Home. It needs more work – probably in its fourth version. I’ve been working on it for over two years!
It's really two stories:  one story is about a young mother who’s a Viet Nam War widow, and the other story is how the mother’s choices have affected her daughter.  It's been harder to write – I want to write both of their stories in one book.

I’m waiting for feedback on my fantasy YA novel, The Young Amazons, at this month’s SCBWI Plot Intensive Conference.  I’m hoping for good feedback, ideas, and support to move it along.  I’ve been working on this one for over three years.

How does my work differ from others of its genre
My first two “Magical” books are Magical Matthew (about a boy who has magic to fix things) and Magical Mea (his sister has magic, too). It became a series as I got more story ideas.  They’re longer than picture books, but not quite chapter books, so they are in the old-fashioned category of “Storybook.” If I’d thought of the other story ideas sooner, I probably would have written one long chapter book.

PB's:  My Grandma's Pink House is in rhyme and is personal to my family life and remembrance of times spent at Grandma's house.

MG:  The Perfect Home has two stories, two points of view.  It's also historical fiction -- about a sad period in our nation's history, the Viet Nam War, racism, and their long term impact.

YA:  The Young Amazons features a group of young Amazon women from the past on a quest to the "New World."  There are several different stories happening at the same time -- multiple characters each telling their story.  That’s been harder to write – but that’s the way the story is coming to me.

Why do I write what I do? 
Many years ago, I wrote short stories (that have since been lost) and I'd always planned to get back to writing stories.  I’ve written in my two careers – government service and teaching.  But I didn't become a children’s book writer until inspired by a friend’s autistic son  – I gave him magical powers. The story continued when his little sister inherits the magic, resulting in four books now in my Magical series! Once I started writing for children, I was hooked! I want my books to be read and appreciated as I’ve read so many other writers’ books to my students and my own child.

How does my writing process work? 
I get many of my ideas when I’m out walking my dogs. An idea comes to me and I work on it in my mind during my walk. I’ve also gotten ideas at night, when I’m in bed – those are harder to capture. Another story idea came from a friend who said, “why don’t you write about. . .” and I just continued to develop the idea. 

Once I have the story idea and have “worked it in my head,” then I’m ready to sit at the computer and write, write, write! I’ve been a keyboard person since I got my first electric typewriter (do you remember those?)  After typewriters, I continued with the first computers with word processing programs that came out.  I “think” at the keyboard – I love to see my story come alive one idea, one sentence, one page at a time.   

I’ve also used note cards to keep track of my characters’ talents and descriptions in my fantasy novel – since there are several characters. It’s the longest and most complex story I’ve worked on, and the only one I’ve used note cards to help with plotting and organization. Otherwise, I’m mainly a “pantser” – I sit down and write and see where the story takes me. Sometimes I’m surprised, like when one of my characters became pivotal and I didn’t think she would be when I started!
I’ve tagged Janet Ann Collins, writer, speaker, and teacher, to be next in this Writing Process Blog Tour. She'll be blogging on Wednesday, May 7th!  Janet blogs at:

 I met Janet through our publisher’s business group. ( She has four books published at GAP:  Slime and All,
                        Signs of Trouble,

 Secret Service Saint, 
     and The Peril of the Sinister Scientist
Read more information about Janet Collins at her web page:  
Tags:  Writing Process, writers, authors, children's books, stories, ideas, teaching, Janet Ann Collins, GAP, writer, teacher, author, book, work in progress, multi-cultural, Viet Nam War, racism


  1. Penny, I enjoyed reading about your writing process AND about your writing projects. You seem to be a ;lot like me...a "pantser", with lots of different ideas for stories... No one niche like many other authors. Thanks to Donna for starting this blog. What a great idea! I'm looking forward to Jan's next on the blog tour.

    1. Hi Barbara, Thanks for stopping by and for your support -- we "pantsers" need to stick together!

  2. Thank you, Penny. I can't wait to read your future books when they get published. The ones you've already done are great!

    1. Hi Jan, Thanks for your support. I hope to finish my longer books some day. Seems like it takes forever. Looking forward to your post on Wed.

  3. Penny, I SO enjoyed reading about you and your writing process. Love the bit about walking the dog to get ideas. Terrific post, mate.

    Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

    1. Hi Margot, thanks for your support. Yes, I spend most of my walking time thinking and have gotten some really good ideas while walking my pups. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Hi Penny,
    Thanks for sharing your writing process with us. I enjoyed the insights into your life, especially the tribute to your grandmother, your dog walking, and your note cards.

    1. Hi Barbara, thanks for your comments. Yes, I agree. It's nice to see into other writers and their life and process. Thanks for your support.

  5. Dear Penny,

    Thanks for participating in the blog hop. I enjoyed learning more about you through your thoughtful responses. You certainly have a lot of projects in the works. Good luck at the SCBWI Plot Intensive Conference.


    1. Hi Donna, It's nice to do these hops -- but it reminds me of all the work I have to do -- I get behinder and behinder! Thanks and best wishes to you on your projects!