How I write stuff... my process unpacked

I'm taking part in the 'Writing Processes' blog hop which basically means I get to answer four questions about the writing I'm doing right now. You get to see my virtual typewriter pulled apart and dissected!

(Thanks Penny Morrison for tagging me, by the way. Penny is a children's writer and early childhood teacher. I've never met anyone with such sustained, creative ideas for preschoolers. (Her kids were always making boxes into cars or doing paintings with potato prints while I was like, "Here are some crayons kids. What? You want paper too?") You can read her blog entry here.)

So. Let's hop to it.

What am I working on?

I've got two novels on the go right now. One is a novel featuring a new heroine, Abby Smart, who's having trouble letting her friends be who they want to be. She's always been in charge, and that's been cool, but now that everyone's 12 and heading to high school, they don't want to be doing the same old things they've always done. Sadly Abby can't see it. Life takes a bit turn for the worse when new girl Stella starts school and Abby will have to decide what kind of person she's going to be.

The book is called Smart Girls Don't Wear Mascara. However, it's on hold for a few months because.... I'm writing the sequel to Invisible.

To be honest, I had never planned to do this. Invisible was going to be a stand-alone story, but people kept writing to say they wanted more of Jazmine, Gabby and Liam and finally I figured out what could happen to them all. It may not be what you expect!

Here are some clues: plum blossoms, boats and storms, old relationships reborn and new ones lost. Oh, and quite a few nightmares.

(By the way, If you'd like to stay updated on the Invisible sequel, you can sign up here for up to the minute information, special offers and cover reveals. Keep reading though... there are three more questions I answer below.)

Name *


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The genre I write is realistic fiction for girls and teenagers. I usually choose a younger heroine - around 12 or 13 years of age. I focus on family and friendship relationships and often hit some pretty serious themes, but in a helpful way for the age of my readers. I also like to make sure my books are completely *clean*, with no swearing or sex. I don't enjoy reading stories that are full of words I don't choose to use myself unless it really adds to the plot - and most of the time it doesn't. I call my style 'warmhearted fiction'. There's always hope at the end, no matter what's gone wrong in the middle.


Why do I write what I do?

I have a special affinity for younger teenagers, mostly because I had a pretty rough time at that age myself. Books were my friends when I had few friends, and I'd love to be able to provide 'friends' for other girls going through similar hard times through my writing. I write realistic fiction because I have no imagination for creating other worlds. Plus I think our world is plenty interesting enough! 


How does my writing process work?

I start with a real person, picture or scenario and use it to build a story around. 'What would happen if...' is the question I ask myself.

Once I've got the basis of an idea, I plan the story out using index cards using a fairly basic system. The plot has to go up here and down there and come to a resolution at about chapter 26.

I write the summary of it all out several ways before I actually sit down at the computer. (No, not a typewriter...) Then it's a case of trudge, drudge, trudge to get the words on the screen.

I aim for at least 1000 words every time I sit down for two hours. I suffer from chronic RSI which means my back and neck often hurt so when I can't type I use dictation software or hand write it on to my new tablet. (It has a nifty little thing that transcribes my bad handwriting into text.)

When I finally get to 60,000 words (or thereabouts) I celebrate and tell the whole world, but I have to restrain myself from hitting 'publish' because my work always needs editing. I ask people to read and comment and I go through it myself two or three times before I'm happy with it. 

Writer's group has really helped me become a better writer. I've improved a lot since I started last year. Getting yourself to the right one will really help your work.

Want to read more 'Writers Processes'? I'm tagging Kristen Young, a writer and old friend of mine. Her blog is here.