WTABH! (Writers Tell All Blog Hop)

Boothbay 2010 059July has slipped by in a steamy, sticky haze this year. Despite sun and love, our garden has produced a pathetic harvest: one zucchini, 4 ripe tomatoes, and a pint of green beans. Nonetheless weeding, watering and tending have provided countless hours to mull over picture book ideas and poems.

You may have seen WTABH – the Writers Tell All Blog Hop – on the interwebs this summer.  The lovely Romelle Broas Guittap was kind enough to tag me for my thoughts on writing.  I highly recommend the author interview series on Romelle’s blog where she has featured the wisdom of accomplished authors like Laura Murray, Sherry Duskey Rinker and Nancy Viau among many others.

Here are my three WTABH blog hop questions:

1)  What are you working on?

Participating in Pam Calvert’s fabulous Picture Book University

Polishing drafts that I wrote during Kristin Fulton’s amazing Nonfiction Picture Book Week

Looking forward to WriteOn Con in August

Reading, reading and more reading!

2) How does your writing process work?

When I get the tiniest seed of a picture book idea, the first thing I do is think about word choices, rhyming words, and rhythm. Then I write a poem. Crazy, isn’t it? The poem rarely connects directly with the final draft, but I find it a relaxing, productive way to free associate sensory details, characters, setting, etc.

I draft a hook or a pitch next.  This helps ensure that the essence of my idea stays in the  forefront while developing the story.

My last step is to rough out a dummy, because I want to write stories with strong page turns. This is the toughest part for me, and I need the most practice here.

Write, then revise and repeat the above steps, and that is the bare bones of my writing process!

3) Who are the authors you most admire?

I’m going to stick with picture book authors here, so I don’t get too carried away!

Amy Krouse Rosenthal – always clever, funny and original

Steve Jenkins – the perfect melding of science and story

The author of the book on my nightstand – is that a fickle answer?  I always find something to appreciate whether it is a plot twist, a clever phrase, or a breath-taking illustration.  I also admire what it takes to get a book into print these days, now that I have a greater appreciation for the challenge of creating an original, incredible story, finding a good agent, and getting a publisher to say “yes”!

So many writing friends have already participated in WTABH that I’m not going to tag anyone specific.  If you’d like to join in or link to your WTABH post, just add a comment!


About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at cmealey@post.harvard.edu or Twitter @catballoumealey
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30 Responses to WTABH! (Writers Tell All Blog Hop)

  1. Loved learning about your process. Love that you write it in verse first — think that would unlock the creative juices — then a draft or pitch.

  2. rnewman504 says:

    Cathy, thanks so much for sharing. I find it very helpful to learn about how writers create their magic. Will check out Romelle’s website too!

  3. Your process is so interesting, creative and inspiring – yes, I’m gonna try it! Thanks, Cathy!

  4. Sue Wang says:

    What does “Hop” mean in the WTABH! ? I am in Colorado and hop makes me think of beer. Or maybe it’s Friday. You have a great discipline in your writing process. I am on Chap 5 of my rewrite, and just gotten into the process. I think of goals in the chapter, the conflict, sequel, and decisions, and then hopefully add some Sedaris energy with the angst :). I have got Sue Grafton’s S for Silence, Confucius’s Analects in English/Chinese, and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild on my night table. They are good intentions… LOL. They have been on the table for months! Have to think reading these things. Mostly I have been reading esoteric astropsychology (today’s Jung’s b-day) and on personality disorders for classes. Happy Friday and <3!

    • Happy Birthday Carl Jung! I never did buy into his theory of the collective unconscious. Did we take Personality Psy with Avril Thorne together?

      The ‘hop’ idea is to encourage readers to hop or click from one blog to the next, following the theme of the writing questions. Although your idea of beer hops is a good one. Is it 5 PM yet? ; – )

      • Sue Wang says:

        Hey. Avril Thorne -that’s it! We were in that class together. It was a blur but I was fascinated by personality theories. Hence astropsychology now. Even though I am allergic to wheat and alcohol (sigh, no beer and pizza…), it’s 5 o’clock your time!!!

        I do buy the collective consciousness. 🙂 when you see crazy drivers everywhere, you sense something… like today.

  5. Thanks for participating Cathy! Your answers reminded me of two important steps I’ve missed: writing a hook and creating a dummy. I think these two are so important to the process. Cheers to more writing and gardening!

  6. The weather has not been kind this year, has it? All of our greenery looks drowned! Loved reading your answers, especially about your writing process! Thanks for sharing. I already did this blog hop, although at the time I didn’t know it had a name 🙂

  7. tinamcho says:

    Interesting to find out how you write a poem first to flesh out word choices! Good idea!

  8. laurimeyers says:

    Thanks for the reminder about WriteOnCon coming up fast! I enjoyed hearing about your process.

  9. Catherine Johnson says:

    That’s a cute idea to always write a poem first. I’m writing about prose vs. rhyme soon on Donna Martin’s blog. We inherited free tomato plants and cucumber plants and I keep forgetting to water them :/ Haven’t decided on WriteOnCon yet, but I really want to pop in :0)

  10. danacarey1 says:

    I love your process! I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for a great ‘tell all’!

  11. Well, I didn’t hop over here very fast…did I? I have had this in my Inbox and today I opened and clicked. I loved seeing your process, too. It is so fun that you write a poem. You will have a whole slew of poems that could one day become a collection or part of an anthology! That is a great exercise.
    Hope your weather has cooled down!

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