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.

It’s official

I’ve initiated myself as an official garden speaker/lecturer. The momentous event occurred this past Saturday, April 9 –  I was the keynote speaker at a gardener’s conference sponsored by the Master Gardeners of Clarion County, PA. I also presented two other programs during the all-day conference. No others are aware of the monumental title, except for those who might be reading this. I didn’t announce it in the “Happenings” section of the local newspaper, or write about it in my gardening column. I mentioned it to a few friends, but they seemed uninterested in knowing that I was soon to become a famous garden lecturer. And now I’m even thinking about joining Great Garden Speakers, a website listing “Premier Speakers on Gardening, Nature, Horticulture, and Design.” I’ll have to decide if the $60/year membership fee to create my listing on Great Garden Speakers would be more beneficial than my $85/year membership fee in the Garden Writers Association; since I’m not a famous garden lecturer yet I can’t afford membership in both.

(I’m not entirely new at garden lecturing, but the event mentioned above was what I consider my first “major” speaking gig.)

I’m also very proud to say that I’m a contributing writer for the new Pennsylvania Gardener magazine! One of 15 states with their own gardening magazine published through State-by-State Gardening. Each magazine is dedicated to providing state-specific gardening information. Pennsylvania Gardener’s debut issue was January/February, 2011.  Each of the state magazines has its own website and Pennsylvania Gardener is in the process of getting their’s up and running, and also their enewsletter (which will feature an occasional article by your’s truly!). These publications are savvy to using local experts as contributing writers and I think that’s swell!

The Write Gardener‘s blog is also being considered for linking on State-by-State Gardening‘s website. I think that’ll be cool and might even help me arrive at the “famous garden lecturer” status a little quicker.

Speaking of being famous, did y’all know that my book “Through the Seasons with The Write Gardener” is now available for purchase online? Just click the “Buy Now!” link in the left-hand column and buy it now! Or if you prefer a personalized copy, shoot an email to: tc@thewritegardener.com and I’ll be glad to get you one The Old Fashioned Way!

As a way of sayin “Thanks for Reading my Blog!” the first person that sends me an email with the common and botanical name of the flower pictured below wins a free copy of my book!

Congratulations to Kylee Hartwig Baumle for winning the free copy!

Kylee correctly identified the plant as common ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata).

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