Friday, June 20, 2014

A Blog Hop

I've been tagged in the #MyWriting Process blog hop by Nancy Julien Kopp, one of my friends from Kansas Authors Club.  I’ve enjoyed clicking back through writer’s blogs and reading about the writing process and I hope there are readers here who will enjoy the connections, as well.

Credit should go to Carole Malone for starting the Blog Hop several months ago.

To participate, a blogger answers four questions about her/his writing world and process, then tags two or three more bloggers. I have linked to my chosen bloggers below.

As for my answers…

What am I working on?

My number one two* project at the moment is a personal one that has absorbed what little free time I have had for the past several months. My mother passed away in 1997 and when her oldest grandchild, my niece, graduated from high school in 2004, I pulled together my mother’s efforts at writing her own memoir. Mom’s completed story made it to about age 10 and her notes a few years past that. My mother was an impassioned letter writer, however, and I was also able to take bits and pieces from the family stories she wrote to my sister and I over the years. The end result was a spiral bound book full of mom’s words.

This year, my mom’s second and third granddaughters graduated and I got the bright idea of adding to the book. My father unearthed some of my mom’s high school diaries. I’ve scanned photo albums and collected stories from friends of the family, nieces and nephews, my sister, my brothers and their families. It’s a project that could easily go on for years and years, but I think I’m pretty close to figuring out – mentally at least – how I am going to tie up the loose ends. I’m excited to present it to the grandkids in bound form this time, complete with lots of photographs, as well as some new memories.

As for the always ongoing writing projects, I continue to circle between a companion story to Tiger Hunting, a cozy mystery that is somewhere around the second draft of completion, and short story submissions which I have been dusting off and working on circulating once again. I missed all the deadlines for the Kansas area contests in which I typically try to participate, so in my head I have already moved to thinking about what I might submit to those contests next year.

*As project priorities often go, things shifted even as I was working on this blog hop. Slipping into priority position is work on a novel I co-wrote with two members of my local writing group a couple of years ago. We are in the end stages of preparing this book, which began as a group writing exercise, for publication. More news about that project will be available soon.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well if my work is Tiger Hunting, my only published novel at this point, I would say it differs in that it is shorter than most mainstream women’s fiction and perhaps takes itself less seriously. It is not a girl-finds-boy, lives-happily-ever-after in the end book. The point of the book isn’t falling in love, the point is finding the satisfaction of standing on your own feet independently.

I would like to say that the overall theme of most of what I write is that it manages, in some way, to capture the everyday normal. In fiction and non-fiction, I write often about being a mother, about losing a mother, about living under a big open sky, and about appreciating Kansas living, and the kinds of people who live in Kansas, in general.

Why do I write what I do?

So let’s say, for the moment, that the answer to what I do is, “I write fiction.” Because honestly, fiction has been the dream from the start, and everything I’ve written up to this point, if not literal practice for writing short stories and novels,  has taught me something about words and connections--on paper and in life--and I’ve learned most about my own ability and personal challenges, as well as creative need.

I haven’t always written fiction. My first success in publishing was in personal essays and non-fiction articles. Twenty-some years ago, exasperated with the sheer enormity of the task of writing a novel, I got the idea that I should back off from the big dream and start small. I started writing pieces I could finish in an hour, then I moved on to work that might take me two or more. Writing has taken me down many paths, and the paths I am drawn to have led me to writing about many different subjects and in many forms.

I think I return to fiction because I enjoy the freedom of pure imagination. Anything can happen when it isn’t real, yet there is sense and order in good fiction that you can’t necessarily duplicate in real life. My stories often start with a question I have about something I’ve heard or a person I’ve observed. Why does that person behave the way they do? How could they possibly get into that situation? I think I figure out the things that puzzle me most by crawling inside imaginary minds and working through the steps that might explain a person’s actions. The process doesn’t always result in a good story, but I generally feel that I’ve learned something from it.

How does my writing process work?

Looking at the big picture, I can divide most of my writing life into two modes. I am either fast-track writing, full of ideas and story starts and too many projects in progress to list, or I am in what I call finishing mode. In crazy writing mode, I have two or three journals nearly always at hand, each designated for different types of idea catching (or actual diary keeping) and my computer hard drive grows full with folders titled things like “book starts” and “fill-in-the-blank stories” and “inspirations” and “what ifs.” In finishing mode, I become more methodical. I comb through files and journals looking for the next piece to finish, work on it relentlessly until it feels polished, and then decide where it should go. When a novel becomes my focus, I might write and rewrite and polish for days or months before moving on to the next project. These modes have lasted for weeks or months… and probably even years at a time. It doesn’t sound like the most efficient way of getting things done, but I find that when I take time away from a project, the next time I look at it I can often see exactly what needs to be done to move the project forward.

Someday I imagine myself writing full time, with grown children and fewer job responsibilities and volunteer distractions. Taking time for writing is a luxury at this point in my life, but it is a luxury I continue to prioritize. 

Now for those I am inviting to play along...

Here are the questions:
1. What are you working on?

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

3.  Why do you write what you do?

4.  How does your writing process work?

And I look forward to reading answers from...

Lindsey Loucks, author of romance and other scary things. Lindsey published her first book, The Grave Winner, about the same time that I published Tiger Hunting. I met her via my niece while I was selling my books from my hometown of Dodge City. Lindsey was nice enough to buy one. Her books are always fun to read. 

Visit Lindsey's website.

The next author I am tagging is someone I've never met in real life. The Middle Munchkin and I were searching for books about China since she (my daughter) is planning a trip there very soon. We came across
Sihpromatum; I Grew My Boobs in China, which turns out to be one of the most intriguing travel memoirs I've ever read. My daughter enjoyed it, too. I am looking forward to reading the second book, due out soon!

Visit Savannah Grace's website.


  1. Hope you enjoyed answering the four questions, Tracy. I certainly enjoyed reading your answers. And what intersting people you've tagged to carry the blog hop on. It ended up being more fun than I'd anticipated.

  2. Thank you, Tracy! My answers are scheduled on my blog for tomorrow!

  3. Hi Tracy! My name is Heather and I was wondering if you could answer my quick question I have about your blog! My email is Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)

  4. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!
    Best of luck!


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