I was tagged in the Writing Process Blog Tour by one of my talented critique partners, Carrie Pearson. Carrie is an insightful critiquer and a fantastic writer. She’s the author of the picture books, A Warm Winter Tail and A Cool Summer Tail, and I have no doubt there will be many more books with her name on them on bookshelves in the near future. Carrie is also the co-RA for SCBWI-Michigan. I don’t know how she finds time to do it all!

Here are my answers to the blog tour questions, and below those, you’ll find the two writers I tagged to answer them next.

What are you currently working on?
I’m anticipating the editorial letter for my first novel-under-contract any day now. That novel is due out in bookstores next spring. While I’ve been waiting for the letter, I’ve been fleshing out an outline for the sequel to that novel, and revising a stand-alone mystery that should be published in 2016 or 2017.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
The novels I’ve written so far all have humor, mysteries, adventure, layered plots, and quirky characters. They are all contemporary stories, but I do a lot of research for my books and love finding obscure facts or historical trivia that can be woven into the plot or spun out in a compelling way. Each of my novels, so far, have mysteries that revolve around significant historical literary figures. My first book (Book Scavenger) and its sequel also revolve around an online/real world book hunting game.
Why do I write what I write?
Since I was a kid, I dreamed of growing up to be the next Beverly Cleary, Lois Lowry, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, James Howe, E. L. Konigsberg, Roald Dahl, Ann M. Martin, Judy Blume . . . To have books published that will be shelved next to these authors is a dream realized for me. The stories I’m drawn to writing are often the ones I wished existed when I was a kid.

How does my individual writing process work?

Writing a story isn’t like changing the oil in a car. There’s no methodical way to go about it, at least for me. I have the spark of an idea and I sit on it. I ask myself questions. If scenes or characters come alive, I jot down notes. Eventually the notes turn into pages. I keep doing variations of that until I’ve puzzled that spark of an idea into a fleshed-out story. Then I give the story to some trusted readers who tell me what they think. I process their feedback and use that as a gauge for myself to figure out what exactly I’m trying to do with this story anyway. And then I set about rewriting the story. I send the revision to trusted readers, again, to see what they have to say. The more I go through this process, the clearer my understanding becomes of the story I’m trying to tell, and how close or far off the mark I am.

TAG! You’re it:

Maryanne Fantalis: I’m tagging my friend Maryanne, who crochets a mean baby blanket (and by “mean” I mean cherished and well-loved) and makes a great CD mix. She’s also a talented writer who writes YA, historical fiction, fantasy, and she teaches writing as well

Ghost Girl, aka Mary Ann: I know Ghost Girl through her blog, “Haunting the Broken Tree”, and Verla Kay’s Blue Boards. She’s a former teacher, current writing specialist, and rising author.


  1. mfantaliswrites

    Thanks for tagging me, and thanks for the lovely things you said about me, Jenn!

    This is a great post about who you are and what you do. I loved seeing all your favorite children's authors – so many of them are my heroes too! – and your description of your process was so interesting too. "Writing a story isn't like changing the oil in a car." So true! I think so many people expect to find that one magic formula that's going to get them from A to Novel in six weeks, and it just doesn't exist. Even one author may have a different process on each different book, as I'm seeing from this blog tour. I'm so glad you shared these insights!

  2. Anna Staniszewski

    Your answer to why you write for children is pretty much my answer. When I was young, I dreamed of being like Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. I'm glad we're both working our way there. 🙂

  3. Jenn Bertman

    Anna, you are definitely well on your way there. If your books had existed when I was a kid, I know your name would be included on my list.

    And you're very welcome, Maryanne! I'm looking forward to reading your responses next week. And you're so right about the process varying from book to book–at least it has for me so far. But a magic formula would be nice too. 🙂

  4. Slamdunk

    Thanks for sharing your perspectives, Jenn. I like how you "sit" on an idea and let it develop rather than rushing to a computer to start typing. I think most ideas need time to take form, and too often I want to just get it on paper.