My Writing Process Blog Tour

Fellow Hen&ink Literary mate and young adult novelist Hannah Goodman (bio below) tagged me for a writer’s blog tour that asks writers four questions about the writing process. I’ll blab about what I’ve been doing for the past two years and then tap two talented colleagues who’ll carry the blog forward: Cyndi Briggs and Tori McCagg. Don’t forget to read below to learn about my three talented colleagues.

 What am I working on?

In 2012, I found boxes of old German letters and documents that survived Hurricane Katrina. Digging through them, I discovered correspondence from my husband’s uncle Reiner who disappeared on the Russian Front of World War Two. My in-laws never talked about Reiner, but I always wondered what happened to him. He came from a German family that cherished music and art, and hated Hitler. These letters tell a powerful story of a young man whose vibrant life was cut short by war.

Reiner's Letters

I’m collaborating with illustrator Maria Lebedeva to tell Reiner’s story for young adults. Her artwork highlights the intensity of Reiner’s war story. You can see a sample of her work on this blog post:

Lebedeva Illus Reiner in training Illus
I am also documenting my research and travel adventures in an adult blog series that I call “Finding Reiner.” Check it out on

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write in many different genres——nonfiction and fiction, picture books to adult. I retell folktales (see my new picture book A Catfish Tale: A Bayou Retelling of the Fisherman and His Wife) and invent my own.

My current young adult project about Reiner is not the usual World War Two story about heroism. It offers a view of “the enemy” who didn’t want to fight but found no other option. Reiner tells his own story through words he wrote from front-line trenches in Russia and Poland. I don’t know any other young adult book about a German soldier that is told at the time of the battles.

Why do I write what I do?

I often find story fragments or small facts that scream out, “Find out more!” Then the fun starts. I love research mysteries, especially when they take me across the globe. I’ve just returned home from my third “Finding Reiner” trip to Germany and rural Poland. I came back with unanswered questions, so before long, I’ll probably pack again. But for now, I’m happy to sleep in my own bed and to use the language that I know best.

How does my writing process work?

I’m not a fast writer, but I always meet my deadlines, even if that means writing when I’d rather read or sleep. I don’t fret about clumsy first drafts because I love the revision process, and I work best with an editor I trust. I’m open to making changes and rethinking my vision. I never count the number of drafts I write. Who cares? Writing must be molded.

—–And now, read about my colleagues.

First up, the author who tagged me:

Hannah R. Goodman is a YA author represented by Erzsi Deàk of Hen&ink Literary Studio. In 2011, Publisher’s Weekly interviewed Hannah for her ground breaking literary enterprise, Sucker Literary, which features undiscovered and new YA authors. Volume III was recently published in April of 2014 to high praise among book bloggers. Her story, “A Different Kind of Cute” was touted as “irreverent.” And a reviewer from Literoses continued with, “This story sparkles. This story will pack a punch in a part of your heart you didn’t even know existed.” Hannah has published young adult short stories in an anthology entitled Bound Is The Bewitching Lilith and in the journal Balancing The Tides. She also has written columns for The Jewish Voice & Herald. Her YA novel, My Sister’s Wedding, won the 2004 Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards, Children’s Book Division. Hannah is a member of SCBWI and ARIA  as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She is a writing coach and tutor to students of all ages and resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. Learn more about Sucker Literary and follow Hannah on TwitterGoodreadsAmazonTumblr, and follow Sucker Literary news on Facebook and Twitter.

And now I tap writers Cyndi Briggs, who is on her own WWII research adventure, and Tory McCagg whose new novel, Bittersweet Manor, penetrates beneath the scabs of human emotion.

Cyndi Briggs has masters and doctoral degrees in counseling. In addition to her day job as a faculty member in a graduate program for counselors, she spends her time learning as much as possible about the world around her. Currently, Cyndi is engaged in an oral history project collecting the stories of World War 2 veterans. This project bloomed from her curiosity about her own grandfather’s experiences in the 3rd Armored Division during the War. This fall, her research will take her to Europe where she’ll follow her grandfather’s route through France, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland.

You can read more about Cyndi’s journey on her blog, She also writes memoir and non-fiction essays, featured in both print and online publications, and research articles for textbooks and academic journals. She is a movie buff who blogs each April for the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, NC. Cyndi loves running, salsa dancing, hanging out with her cute dog and surly cat, and composing ridiculous songs solely for her own amusement. FB:



Tory McCagg: A graduate of Connecticut College, Tory earned a M.F.A. from Emerson College’s writing program in 1989; her thesis and novel Shards won the Graduate Dean’s Award. In February 1997, “Earthquake Weather” was a semifinalist in the Tara Fellowships/Heekin Foundation. She has won two honorable mentions: one for “Enology” in 1998 (A. E. Coppard Prize for Fiction, White Eagle Coffee Store Press); the other for “Chain Material” in 2001 (Lorien Hemenway Short Story Competition). In 1999, “Roots”, a chapter in Bittersweet Manor was a semifinalist in the New Millennium awards VIII contest. Her debut novel,

Bittersweet Manor, was published in May 2014. She is currently working on a non-fiction book, Darwin’s View: One Breath After Midnight and a novel with the working title Mother Daze. She is an accomplished flutist and divides her time between Rhode Island and New Hampshire where she and her husband live off-grid with their two cats and seven chickens.

You can see and read more about her at her website and on Facebook:

About Whitney Stewart

Whitney Stewart puts her heart, mind, and feet into her work. She's trekked in a Himalayan snowstorm with Sir Edmund Hillary and climbed to remote Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. She's interviewed the Dalai Lama in India and Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. She is the author of fiction and nonfiction for children. She also teaches mindfulness and meditation.