My Writing Process – an author chain

Good friend (and big fan of Mandolin Whiskey) LK Hunsaker, author of several literary romance novels, asked if I’d like to participate in a blog chain. I’m not at all familiar with what a blog chain is and had never been a part of one till now. I decided that doing something that might help me tap out a few more words would be beneficial. I like to think of myself as a writer, but I know I don’t write near as much as I should! So, while I’m doing this blog chain thing, I’m also self-analyzing a few things about my writing process. Here then, are my answers to four questions.

1. What are you working on at the moment?

I might actually be multi-tasking, but at this very moment I’m working on the post for this blog chain thing. Ok, not funny.

I have two things I’m working on at the moment – a novel (or short story, haven’t decided which yet), and a children’s book. The novel is an attempt to write in the female voice, which I hear is quite difficult for a male writer to pull off. It’s geared toward young adults, 18 to 25-years old. And it’s my first serious attempt at writing fiction. At a little over 5,000 words, it’s still in the early stages of development (click here for an excerpt).

My children’s book is also in the early stages, and probably won’t be much over 30 pages long, it’s an alphabet book with illustrations by Don Conner, my brother (click here for an excerpt). Writing a children’s book is another first. And then there are the “regular” gardening articles I write once a month that are featured in Life & Times: A Magazine with Senior Flair. I’ve been writing gardening articles for close to 10 years. (I’ve been in touch with the folks at Life & Times about a link to their publication, it’s not been an easy task.)

2. How does your work differ from others in the genre? 

I’m not sure about the differences between my writing and the writing of others. Simply because I don’t read a lot of other stuff. I’ve been told that my garden writing voice is much like the voice I use when giving lectures or just talking to folks about gardening. The main character in my young adult fiction novel/short story/whatever it turns out to be, can fly, and there are other fantastical goings on as well. I often think of a favorite book that I read in college, “Like Water for Chocolate,” by Laura Esquivel, and try to create a magically thrilling, and maybe a little bizarre, journey for the reader.  Ms. Laura created just such a journey with her book and you should read it.

3. Why do you write what you do?

Why do I write what I write? Gardening is such a huge part of our lives, my wife and I, that writing about it comes almost as naturally as planting zinnia and cosmos seeds. I write about it because it’s something I love doing. It also pleases me to know that others are gaining knowledge about gardening when they read my articles. I self-published a collection of some articles, Through the Seasons with The Write Gardener, perhaps you’d like to order a copy? Please. 🙂

I think the best part about writing fiction is the freedom. I had never given it much consideration before meeting Ms. LK. She’s full of the freedom of fiction, and it seems like she’s always writing and/or editing something new. And that’s a good thing if you’re a writer. I write about other things: a book review here and there, guitars, music, and whatever comes up in my Facebook feed that sparks a comment. Sometimes I’ll choose something controversial to post, which usually generates about 100 comments if it rubs someone the wrong way (which happens more often than not). I decided to write fiction just to see what would happen. Something did, it’s just taking its own time getting to wherever it wants to go.

4. How does your writing process work?

My gardening articles work themselves out, for the most part. I get suggestions from my wife and friends that often lead to an article. Other times I’ll just happen to see a flower, tree, or shrub, or a pot in a gardening catalog, or even something on TV that will spark a topic idea.

I can’t quite explain how I write fiction. It just happens. There is, I suppose, something that be might called a muse that knows what it wants me to write. But that directive comes and goes without warning. The writing for my “young adult fiction novel/short story/whatever it turns out to be” is most always controlled by the muse, I’m just the medium it uses to get the words out.

If reading my answers caused a writing spark within you, then please fuel the fire! We need more good writers.

To grow or not to grow, that is the question.

In all honesty, I’m not the one who starts seeds here at Conner Country Gardens, my wife has that chore. However, I do provide a certain amount of input.  How many tomato plants to start and what variety of heirlooms is about the gist of it. And I’m okay with that, it’s more important for me to make sure the grow light shelving is up and running rather than argue, I mean provide input, about needing more heirlooms.

We’ve been starting seeds indoors for the past 10 or 15 years. Ours is not a modern system either, no fancy store-bought shelving unit with gamma ray ultra violet XYZ  grow lights. Just a couple of planks sitting on cement blocks in the basement, a 3-tiered system that gives my wife enough room to plant six flats of seedlings, if she so desires.

grow light shelvingWe’ve cut back on the number of seedlings we grow, we’re a little older and don’t need the added work of having too many things to set out. We most always end up giving away a bunch of tomato plants, and for the past couple of years my wife has been starting extra seeds for a couple of her friends. Two or three flats is usually enough for our smallish veggie garden.

I suppose there are better systems out there; ones with heat mats, fancy shelving, some with special lights that simulate the sun’s “electromagnetic spectrum appropriate for photosynthesis.” And I’m not against anyone using such a set up. But know this – expensive equipment won’t grow better seedlings. As a matter of fact, all you really need is a sunny windowsill!