Several of my writer friends are doing a blog hop, where we share a little bit about our works in progress and our writing process on each other’s blogs. My first guest author is Ruth A. Douthitt, author of The Dragon Forest series.
What are you working on? Currently, I am working on the last book in my Dragon Forest trilogy that I started back in 1989. The first book, The Dragon Forest, was released in 2011, the second book, The Dragon Forest II: Son of the Oath, was released in September 2013, and, hopefully, this final book, The Dragon Forest III: The King of Illiath, will be released this fall.
After that, I will start the second book in my Children series. The first book, The Children Under the Ice has been pretty popular with its target audience (middle grade readers) and I really look forward to revisiting these characters later this summer in the second book, The Children of Kew Gardens. Should be fun!
How does your work differ from others in its genre? The Dragon Forest is different in that, although it is fantasy/adventure, I used Christian principles as themes so that Christian readers will notice, but even non-Christians will be inspired by the themes. With The Children Under the Ice, I set my book in the past (1976) which is different from most books for this age and I also made it a mystery/thriller that has the readers rooting for the cast of characters as they try to solve the mystery. I made sure my protagonist, Mikey, is flawed and has some real obstacles to overcome. This way, the readers will connect to him and want him to succeed in the end.
Why do you write what you do? I find I enjoy writing fantasy because I have the opportunity to create a world and its culture. It is a challenge, but that’s what makes it all the more interesting.
As for writing mystery/thrillers for kids, those are the types of books I enjoy reading. I want my readers to try to figure out the ending or try to predict if the protagonist will discover the secrets and solve the mystery. That’s what makes writing fun!
How does your writing process work? I brainstorm the story using the tools from My Book Therapy. The Book Buddy really helps me to plot out what goals the protagonist must achieve by the end of the book. I also enjoy using a plot diagram to visualize how the story will flow from one plot element to the next. After all this, I then outline my story in three acts.
Last of all, I plot out each scene within each chapter in an organizer, usually in a Word table or Excel spreadsheet of some sort. That way, I can see exactly what scenes I need per chapter in order to move the story along at a strong pace.
I am a visual learner, so by taking these steps, I am able to “see” my book at a glance and know each day exactly what scenes I need to write to meet my goal/deadline.
After the first draft is complete, I send it to my editor. He performs 3 types of edits: copy, developmental (content), and line edits. We then meet to discuss his recommendations. He’s very good at finding plot holes and problems in the story or with the characters. I also send out the draft to my beta readers for feedback. They are in my target audience and are voracious readers of the genre. Their feedback, along with my editor’s, helps me see the errors that need fixing in my story.
It’s a long arduous process, but it is worth the time and effort to get the story right before I send it to my publisher/editor at OakTara Publishing. She goes over the second draft and sends it back to me with her suggested changes. I revise and send her the third and final draft that goes to press.
Whew! Writing is a lot of work and I wish I could do it full-time, but I also teach Writing/Language Arts in middle school. So, I make the time to write because I truly enjoy it. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing someone reading your book or hearing them ask you when the next book is coming out.
In 2004, author, Ruth A. Douthitt completed The Dragon Forest which was picked up by OakTara Publishing in 2008 and released in April 2011. Ruth currently teaches Writing/Language Arts at an elementary school. She enjoys running, gardening, and drawing in addition to writing. Ruth lives in Arizona with her husband. Visit her blog at http://www.writerspenn.blogspot.com/