Sunday, April 27, 2014

Literary Blog Hop

To celebrate the Sucker Literary Volume 3 release, the writers, readers, and friends of those who worked on the volume are participating in a blog hop. (In my case, friend of a friend.)  And that writerly friend of mine is the FABULOUS Kip Wilson!  THANKS KIP for letting me join in the fun.

Here's how it works.  Kip answered four questions and now I have to answer the same four questions.  Click here to see Kip's answers and keep reading to see mine.

1.) What am I working on?

I'm currently working on two stories that are in the later parts of the writing process (meaning that they've both been submitted to some houses and I've received feedback so I'm fine tuning and revision.)  The first one is a story centered around a nasty little character.  This has been challenging because you don't see too many villian stories and it's a fine balance to get the character right, make it a well-rounded character, give him his comeuppance, and maybe allow him to change and grow - but not in a cheap, schmultzy way.

The other story is about a brother, a sister, and a prank.  It started off as a light, silly romp.  Editors liked it, but everyone agreed that there wasn't enough story there.  So I'm trying to layer more internal plot throughout without losing the fun, rompy aspect that people liked.

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

For starters, I write comedy.  That's not to say there aren't plenty of funny picture books, but it just distinguishes me from the Owl Moons and The Kissing Hands out there. 

Also, I illustrate my own stories, so as the years have gone by, I've found I use fewer and fewer words to tell the tale.  Most times, when I get to a sticky spot, I'll do the illustrations first.  I can say so much more with an expression than I can with words.

So: Fewer words, funny story, self-illustrated - that's a J. C. Phillipps book. 

3.) Why do I write what I write?

Like I just mentioned, my work has strong visuals.  Sometimes kids ask if I plan to write chapter books.  I get ideas for chapter books, but I consider myself to be an illustrator who writes, not a writer who illustrates.  There are so many talented people out there, I think it's best if I stick with my strong suit.  So my work will always be strongly illustrated, that means picture books and perhaps graphic novels.

4.) How does my writing process work?

Usually I get an idea: maybe a title, maybe an opening sentence, maybe an image.  Whatever it is, I jot it down.  I have at least three separate notebooks in three separate rooms just for writing ideas down.  If it's a strong idea, it grows.  Maybe I jot more down, maybe I just think about it while I'm washing dishes.  Eventually, a good idea demands to be recorded, shaped, created and I'll write a first draft - or, I'll write a small treatment and then I sketch a first draft.

These days, I do a lot of jumping between computer and sketchbook.  I generally like to have an somewhat developed story idea typed up before I sketch.  But I also like to know what the characters look like before I write too much.  So it's just back and forth, back and forth for awhile.

Early in the process I have to make an ugly, scratchy dummy.  I work a lot of plot out when I fit things into a 32-page template.  It's difficult and time consuming, but it's worth it.  Then I have to redraw the whole dummy so that it will make sense to others, then I start showing it around and getting feedback and making revisions.  Lots and lots of revisions.

I go through SO MUCH PAPER it isn't even funny.  But I like to save everything in case I want to go back to an idea or in case I write a book called, All the Work That Goes in a Picture Book.  (Kidding.)

Eventually I'll get a neater dummy with some color illustrations and a typed up manuscript and show it to my agent.  At this point he'll either think it's a weak story and I'll probably trash it or put it on the back, back burner, or it will get another 7 rounds of smaller revisions.  Each with it's own sketches.  Each with a new dummy pdf.  There's usually 10 - 12 dummy pdfs before we actually show it to an editor.  Then, fingers crossed, it gets picked up.

Was that long winded?  Sorry.  It's over now.  Relax.

Now, I was supposed to line up other authors to continue the blog hop, but I didn't.  Because I'm lame.  But I can shout out now, Hey author friends, want to play?  If you do, let me know either via comment or email and we'll link up! 

Thanks so much for stopping in and Happy Monday everyone!  (Although I'm actually posting this Sunday night because I have an author visit on Monday, so if you're a night owl, sleep well!)


Kip Wilson said...

Oooh, great post, Julie! Love the little window into how you work! And of course, who doesn't love a girl attacked by birds? said...

Love your sketching. And a comedy of a villain sounds like something we need more of.

Julie_c said...

Thanks so much Kip and vanmaclellan!