Reflections from an Indie Author
A little while ago, author K. Lamb invited me to participate in the Blogging from the Heart blog tour. It’s an opportunity to reflect on why I write and also to say something about what I am actually working on in my writing. Writers, of course, can’t pass up a chance to write about writing. And so here is at least an initial attempt at it.
The Author Who Tagged Me
I should first introduce to you K. Lamb though. She’s one of these terrific writers that you marvel at when you read her writing – her language flows with that particular rhythm and cadence that make reading a real joy, much like a walk in the woods or a stroll by the seashore in winter.
But, more particularly, K. Lamb is the author of the Dani P. Mystery series for children 7-11 years old. This collection is an early chapter book series meant for children who are starting out on the adventure of reading alone or may have difficulty reading. Although these are simple chapter books, Ms. Lamb provides a smattering of challenge words throughout the story to encourage the more advanced reader to expand their vocabulary while presenting it in such a way as to not discourage the younger reader. Her first published work was an Amazon Best Seller in Children’s Detectives entitled, Dani and the Haunted House. She recently released her second book in the collection, Dani and the Mall Caper. More books in the series are on their way we understand.
Ms. Lamb has a strong passion for children’s literacy. To date, she has given away over 2,000 free copies of her first children’s book on Kindle in an effort to support children’s literacy along with donating paperback copies to classrooms. She enjoys interacting with children, parents, and teachers. To aid parents and teachers, she provides resources on her website: danipmystery.com. In addition to penning children’s stories, Ms. Lamb also enjoys writing young adult novels.
(To connect with K. Lamb and learn more about her books you can find her at: K. Lamb Amazon Author Page, facebook.com/danipmystery, facebook.com/authorklamb, @danipmystery on Twitter, and K. Lamb Goodreads Author Page.)
From the Heart
I am supposed to address four questions for this post: what I am working on, how my work differs from others in its genre, why I write/create what I do and how my writing process works. I suspect much of these will not be of great interest to readers but perhaps a snippet on each might not end up to be too tedious.
1. What am I working on?
I have been working on what I call the Els Oot books or the books in the Tilley Pond Mouse series. They are middle grade books for readers ages 9 to 12 that tell the story of a little mouse named Els who goes on great adventures in the wild as an apprentice mapmaker and encounters creatures large and small – but mostly creatures who despite odd or harsh exteriors are, for the most part, of good hearts and end up being faithful friends.
I like to think of the books as books about wonder, friendship and trust. There are three books now: Els Oot and the Mapmaker, Els Oot and the Baby Dragon and recently-released Els Oot and the Lost City. All of them are available on Amazon, and, if you are interested, you can take a peek at them there. Digital publishing gives you a great deal of flexibility on making changes so I continue to tinker with these books.
As part of trying to let more readers know about the books, I am in the process of working on a book trailer for Lost City and have been working with voice actor Jill Cofsky (yes, connect with Jill for terrific voiceover services!) on some audio segments for the book, including this excerpt that Jill narrated from Chapter 1 of Els Oot and the Lost City:
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I think what makes the Tilley Pond Mouse Books somewhat different from some middle grade books being published today is that these books shy away from digital technology (phones, video games and other digital media) and find a space in a wilder world a little farther away beyond our computers, our houses, our backyards.
Els the mouse and his friends still live in an analog world where things are built with hands out of planks of wood and vines. It’s a world where imagination matters, a world set in the flow of the rivers, marshlands and meadows where there is time for walks, adventure, wonder and deep friendships. I like to think that the Tilley Pond Mouse books hark back to classic animal tales such as The Wind in the Willows or Stuart Little or George Selden’s The Cricket in Time Square.
3. Why do I write/create what I do?
The Tilley Pond Mouse books began as stories I told my son when he was young. Every night before he slept (for nights and nights on end), I told him a segment of a story (trying to leave him with a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of the segment as Korean dramas have taught me). The stories were our nightly conversation.
I wanted in part to preserve that conversation for him and for my daughter I suppose so they will know even later a bit of who I am and the things I had found important: wonder, friendship and a sense of trust in something greater. The stories did change though even as I wrote them down (by then, my daughter was born, and some of her character is also incorporated within these stories now).
At the back of my mind, I also think of myself when I was 10 or so. We had moved a great distance to a new town and I recall I had very few close friends and books provided me the deep connections that kept the world balanced. I wanted to have the books out there also so that, in a time when they may be helpful, another child might find them, find a connection and find a coterie of friends.
4. How does my writing/creating process work?
I have been hoping that I could describe my writing process as part of a regular routine or other easily accessible process. But it likely is not. The genesis for the stories came, as I noted, with the sharing of them with my children. I would jot down the outline of them later (this was after I decided that they might be worth writing down). Interestingly, even as I told the stories orally I was dividing them up into chapters of a book and so it was not too difficult to work out the books’ initial outlines.
When I began to write the books, new ideas came (sometimes from our day-to-day lives – for example, at one point my son took up the recorder and that features in the Lost City as a central trope) and so some of that was worked into the stories. Some chapters or segments that didn’t seem to have worked well (or didn’t seem to fit well) were reordered or changed altogether. I wrote the books then chapter by chapter until the first draft was done.
After that, I spent time away from the manuscript to work on illustrations before beginning the process of editing. In the latest book, after a good deal of the editing was done, I worked up the courage to ask a couple of trusted friends to take an initial read of the draft. Then I edited some more.
The creative process is odd. Often times, insights come while I am away from the manuscript, taking a walk or when I am about to fall asleep. But there is also a lot to be said for just sitting myself down for three hours on straight and just writing.
The Tour Continues
Some months ago now, my author friend Robin Hardy (who actually beta read my latest Els Oot book) tagged me for a blog tour on pairing chocolates with books during which I had to sample many chocolates while reading books (to the great envy of my little ones). So I am here to return the favor of tagging her for this blog tour, though not the favor of chocolates.
Robin Hardy, the author of 30 books, has been writing Christian fiction for many years. Her first novel, Chataine’s Guardian, was a runner-up for the Gold Medallion Book Award in 1985. Streiker’s Bride, about a billionaire philanthropist’s unusual courtship and proposal to bank teller and aspiring dancer Adair, tied for 5th (nationwide) on Christianity Today’s Reader’s Choice list for Best Fiction in 1994. (Streiker’s Bride is now under development as a movie.) Having published with four traditional publishers, she currently manages Westford Press, which continues to publish her books. Book 1 of the Sammy/Streiker Salmagundi, If Only for This Life, will be released this November.
Robin is scheduled to post her Blogging from the Heart piece on October 3 so visit her Facebook page for that.