Friday, June 20, 2014

Blog Tour: Writing Process

The talented Gaia Cornwall invited me to partake in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Before I begin my ramble, lets learn a bit about Gaia.

Gaia Cornwall is an illustrator, surface designer, portrait artist, and picture book writer living in Providence, RI. She spends her days working from home, as her husband codes furiously in the next room, their rescue husky sleeps the day away, and their two feline supervisors keep them in line.

Gaia is an active member of SCBWI (recent faculty at the NESCBWI Conference), and currently is working on a picture book proposal that she wrote and illustrated, with several more on the way. She does design work and loves working with small, creative businesses.

And now about my writing process or as I like to call it, "stumbling about until something works":

1. What am I working on?
I am in the final illustration stages of my first book that I wrote and illustrated called Faraway Friends (Sky Pony 2015). The basic idea of the book is about a boy's friendship lost and found, usually right under his nose, after going on a space adventure while looking for the lost friend.

I have also just finished up a dummy called The Not-So-Real Adventures of Maximus Walker which is being pitched as a series by my agent Jodell Sadler (Sadler Children's Literary). Hopefully there will be more to report on that book at some point soon.

2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?

Being a child who moved from place-to-place due to my parents jobs, I was often left wondering how it felt to be on the other side of loosing a friend, especially from a little boy's point of view. Boys are often thought about as not having a deep sense of hurt when a friend moves away or any other sudden changes in their life. We often compensate that hurt by masking it with playing or making up some adventure where we find the answers that we are looking for whether they are true or not.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Our son was not a reader and it was a real struggle to get him to pick up a book. His mom and I thought that there was a lack of boy specific books in the market besides comic books. Comic books by the way, are what finally piqued his interest in reading and were a godsend in him turning that corner. So I am focusing on the boy's point of view of the world but also trying to pull in the girl readers as well. It is a delicate dance to do without really alienating either. If we can get boys reading more at an early age, or just to pick up a book instead of video games, it is a win-win  for the parents and society.

4. How does my writing process work?

There is a Moleskine notebook that I keep with me at all times, except for the shower, that I use for story notes. From there, I actually start by sketching out a storyboard. This allows me to see the story unfold and the pacing right off the bat. I tend to get hung up on the wording so working this way tends to eliminate that snag and also allows me to use the words to fill in the gaps. Dan Yaccarino spoke of doing this method during a NESCBWI workshop a few years ago so I thought I would give it a try. I am trying to write a chapter book without visuals during breaks just to do a different method. My typing skills are limited so I am putting pen to paper for this one.

Once I get the storyboard and wording flowing, I share it with my critique group and a few close friends for feedback. This step is crucial as it gives me a fresh set of eyes to find holes and flaws in the story. Also to make notes on grammar and typos that I may have missed. I do another round or two of revisions before sending it to my agent for her input. We do  many rounds together before she feels it is ready for submission.

Having a critique group and trusted friends to look over the story is, I think, the most important step in the process. I think I owe everyone of them a beer for their help.

Have you had enough of ramblings? Okay, I am done. Thanks Gaia for asking me to join in the fun.

Here are the next lot of close buddies (and fellow artist rep'd by Jodell Sadler) who are lined up to tap dance, sing, make balloon animals, and chat about their writing process. 
Shawn Teeney (lounge singer and alligator wrestler), Greg Matusic (G Mat is his rap and street cred name), and THE Kevin Barry (award winner and yodeling machine).

Shawna Teeney graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from Brigham Young University and started illustrating as a freelance illustrator a year later. Since then, she has created artwork for 18 books along with children's magazines, charities, educational materials, religious materials and theater playbills. Her primary medium of choice now is digital. ​Lately her focus has been writing and illustrating her own stories.

Besides the process of making art, She enjoys being involved in the art community and has been running a monthly local illustration critique group. She is a volunteer at SCBWI and also enjoys teaching kids art and visiting children at local schools to talk about being an illustrator.

Shawna lives in Utah with her two very artistic little girls and a very sweet and supportive graphic designer husband

Greg Matusic is an Upstate New York based illustrator/author whose work is influenced by his super groovy wife and their amazingly talented son. After toiling in relative obscurity at the corporate and low-end freelance level, Greg recently focused his attention on the children's book market and has been extremely busy crafting enjoyable illustrations that support his equally enjoyable stories.

Greg is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). He also enjoys decaf coffee, The Clash and the game of baseball. Visit Greg online at

Kevin Barry is a writer, illustrator, and educator. He is grateful that the world of children's literature has afforded him the chance to wear all three hats at the same time, though his head is often very hot. When he is not feeding the hungry minds of 3rd graders, Kevin can be found sketching at the library, haunting the shelves of local bookstores, or binge watching television with his wife and cat. Kevin was the recipient of the 2014 R. Michelson Gallery Emerging Artist award and is honored (terrified) to have his work hanging in the same gallery as Dr. Seuss.

Follow my blog with bloglovin