A big thank you to Juanita Keys, author of Under the Hood, for inviting me to take part in this authors blog chain. What a wonderful way to find out how other authors work and discover new books to read. Under_the_Hood Juanita achieved her dream of becoming a published author in 2012 with the release of her debut romantic suspense, Fly Away Peta. Under the Hood followed in 2013 as one of the first releases from Harlequin’s digital pioneer, Escape Publishing. She escapes the real world to write stories starring spirited heroines who give the hero a run for his money before giving in. When she’s not writing, editing or proofreading, Juanita is the cleaning fairy and mother to three boys (hubby included, his toys are just a little more expensive).  You can find Juanita and her book on http://juanitakees.com/

And now to meet the challenge Juanita has set for me…

1) What am I working on? A YA novel called Monelli & Me, which is about truth, lies and the damage secrets can cause. I came up with the idea for it many years ago when my daughter was a teenager. She’d joined the local amateur theatre group with her cousin and I wrote a play with leading roles for the two of them. I had no idea about the practicalities of writing for the stage and it was never produced but it did get some positive feedback from a competition. The idea must have stayed dormant in the back of my mind because about five years ago I decided to turn it into a novel. I got nowhere with it when I tried to find a publisher so it went back into the filing cabinet until last year when I took it out and reread it. Immediately I knew I could write it better now because I’m writing at a different level. Of course, I’m never working on one thing because I’m a bit of a butterfly, and I’m also playing around with a couple of picture book ideas. One is purely a fun story, which is what I like doing best, and the other is about the loss of a baby, so it’s a lot harder to write.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? A lot of my writing is for children and I tend to choose quirky ideas, such as advertising a cranky dad for sale in the local newspaper, and coming up with weird ways to get rid of wrinkles in 10 days. My style is basically quite light-hearted and Even when I’m writing about serious topics there’s always an underlying message of hope and optimism because that’s how I see life.  

3) Why do I write what I do? I have a head full of stories that insist on being told. It’s as simple as that! Every so often I decide I’m going to stop being a writer and go off to grow petunias, paint flower pictures and do tap dancing. Next thing I know I have an idea for another story and it’s back to the keyboard. I do tend to write ‘feel good’ stories, particularly for young readers and that’s probably because I’m the sort of person who wants life to be all sweetness, light and happy endings. The reality is so different but I don’t do magic. I can’t bring peace and harmony to the world so I write gentle stories about everyday people and quirky tales to entertain young readers instead.

4) How does my writing process work? That depends on what I’m writing. For a poem or picture book it can be quite a haphazard, disorganised process, especially in the beginning. I tend to write bits and pieces as they come to me in between doing other things, so I end up with lots of scraps of paper or pages of chaotic scribble without any structure.  When I think I’ve got enough to work with I start putting it together properly and knocking it into shape. It’s a bit like doing a jigsaw. The trouble is, I don’t have much control with this sort of writing and it can take me a long time to produce a completed manuscript. With novels, it’s different. First I get a strong sense of the characters and the general concept of the story and sit with that until I know the opening lines so I can start writing and see where it takes me. I don’t work out the plot in detail or plan out scenes or chapters. My characters’ appearance and backstory is a mystery to me until their story unfolds. Sometimes get stuck and have to step aside for a while and do something else because I don’t know what happens next.  Once I’ve got a completed first draft, I systematically work through it, revising and refining it until I’m satisfied it’s the best I can do. During this stage I share my chapters with a wonderful group of professional writers and draw on their invaluable feedback and suggestions to get the book up to submission standard.

Well, there you have it. Now I’m passing the baton to Dale Harcombe, an Aussie author who writes with perception and compassion about everyday life. Streets cover Dale’s latest novel Streets on a Map published in December 2010 is now also an E book. It has received some excellent reviews.  You can find some of them on her website www.daleharcombe.com. As well as fiction. Dale has Kaleidoscope, a collection of poetry, published. She also likes to write children’s fiction. Since Chasing after the Wind, she has had 7 children’s novels published. She has run workshops at the NSW Writers Centre, Parramatta Evening College and Central West Community College in poetry and creative writing. She worked for many years as a manuscript assessor and is an avid reader and book reviewer.

Dale would love for you to share her writing journey with her at: Author Site:  www.daleharcombe.com Blog: Write and Read with Dale  http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4754021.Dale_Harcombe