Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Blog Tour

Welcome to my link in the Writing Process Blog Tour.  I was tagged by my writing friend and critique partner Julie Fulton.  Julie and I met properly at a picture book writers' retreat in Worcestershire - I've written "properly" because we later discovered that not only had we met before at the SCBWI's mass book launch, we'd also been photographed standing next to each other.

Holland House in Worcestershire - perfect for retreating

So, back to the Blog Tour, which focuses on the writing process. 

What am I working on?

I've got a number of different projects on the go.  I've just finished editing my first Early Reader story, a chapter book for emerging readers.  A couple of trusted writer friends gave the final draft a read-through and now it's flown the nest and is sitting on a publisher's desk.  Fingers crossed.  My next project is a series aimed at 7 to 9-year-olds.  I've finished the first draft but I'm unhappy with the lack of plot focus (far too many little plots but it needs one big plot to drive the narrative) so I had a brainstorming session with a well-respected editor on Friday.  Now I'm brimming with ideas and can't wait to knock a second draft into shape. 

Finally, I'm brushing up a couple of picture book texts.  I have three lovely writer friends whose opinion I trust and they're great fun to work with.  Julie and I met Tracy and Liz on the Worcestershire retreat but we live in different parts of the country so we're planning to get together for a working lunch at a halfway point.  This week it's going to be Northampton.  Tea, gluten-free cakes and writing.  What's not to like?

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My latest picture book
I think this is almost an impossible question to answer!  When I write, I write what I want and it comes from my heart, rather than focusing purely on commercial considerations and what drives the market.  Many of the sparks for my plot ideas and themes are drawn from what I've experienced so the way I shape those experiences is going to be unique.  However, like most authors I'm influenced by other writers too.  I grew up on a book diet which included Enid Blyton.  Even now, there's a part of me that dreams of discovering the Faraway Tree in her Enchanted Wood series, along with Moon Face and Mr Whatzisname, and being able to climb through the clouds at the top of the tree into an unknown land.   

Why do I write what I do?

Because I have to.  I become incredibly grumpy if I don't.  If I don't write, the creative side of my brain goes into overdrive and I have the weirdest dreams to the point of being unable to sleep.

How does my writing process work?

Sharing I Could Be, You Could Be at Story Time

Randomly!  My teenage son plays cricket and my 11-year-old daughter is a diver so if they're not at school then they're usually training.  I spend a lot of my time driving them to sports venues and hanging around for four hours at a time so I often use it as an opportunity to write.  The white noise of swimming pools is strangely calming so I sit by the pool, I sit in cafes.  I also write on trains, in the car (not while I'm driving!), on the beach, up a mountain.  Sometimes it's with pen and paper, sometimes it's in my head, mulling over plot ideas.  Sometimes I'll pretend I'm a character that I'm developing so I can get an insight into what it's like to be him or her.  It's all part of my writing process.

Countdown... ready for take-off!

My writing process is heavily influenced by my visits to schools, libraries and festivals.  The visits are an opportunity to share my work with the children and hear their feedback.  It's interesting to watch them while I'm reading an excerpt - if they find it more interesting to play with an imaginary bit of dirt on the carpet, then it's obvious I  have to do some editing!  

I'm handing the Blog Tour baton on to Christina Banach, an ex-Headteacher turned full-time writer.  She is married and lives in Scotland with her husband and two daft rescue dogs who take turns to sit under her desk while she's writing.  Next month sees publication of her debut novel MINTY, a contemporary ghost story described by her publishers as a cross between The Lovely Bones and Ghost.  She'll be blogging on Monday, March 31st: 


  1. Great blog, Karen. No wonder we get on so well - our writing process is startlingly similar! Fingers crossed for the Early Reader.

  2. An excellent blog post, Karen. I really enjoyed reading about you and your writing. Let's hope that I can measure up to your high blogging standards.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it. I'll look forward to reading yours!

  3. Brilliant blog Karen - Christina is handing me the baton soon :-) I'll hopefully catch up with you at a SCBWI event soon - are you going end of July?

    1. Hi Sarah. Thank you for taking the time to read it. Which SCBWI event is in July?