Writing Goals (Not Resolutions!) For The New Year

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I was very pleased to have achieved my writing goals for the year. This does not mean that I am satisfied with the works in progress, but that I can see my self-discipline in writing is working. In the past, I never was happy with my ability to follow self-proscribed plans of action. It was a year, however, of satisfaction, in completing my dissertation and earning my Ph.D. in English Literature, and in sending my paranormal thriller Evil Lives After to agents. That is an ongoing process. I hope that I will have news on that front in the not too distant future. I also completed the second draft of my second novel. So, I am happy with that progress.

In no way, however, does this work represent an end, only a continuation of the process of writing. My goals for the first half of 2015 are threefold: the first is to write a first draft of my third novel, which is squarely in the horror genre; the second is to work on at least finishing the first half of a draft of an academic book on an obscure Irish playwright; and the third is to continue revising my second novel. Of course, if an agent is interested in the first book and asks for a revision, I would certainly move that task to the primary position.

This set of goals may seem like it is too much to accomplish since I am not a full-time writer, but I have found that I am capable of giving time, five to six days a week to the writing. If I can continue to do that pace, and maintain focus and self-discipline, then I believe that I can achieve those goals. I cannot control what agents and publishers will do, but I can control the process of the writing. That is what all writers need to do.

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Liebster Award Nomination

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I want to thank Creative Writing For Me for nominating me for this Liebster award. This consideration is deeply appreciated.

For The Liebster Award, there are a few rules: (Thanks to Creative Writing For Me. I have taken this information directly from this site.)

1.) Post the award on your blog.

2.) Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog.

3.) Write 5 random facts about yourself.

4.) Nominate 5 bloggers (they should have less than 300 followers)

5.) Answer 5 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 5 questions.

Here are 5 random facts about me:
1.) I am a long time Marvel comic book fan—especially Spiderman and Captain America.

2.) I love chili, the cooking and the eating of it.

3.) I love good whisky or whiskey depending on the country of the drink’s origin.

4.) I hate flying but love to be on the water.

5.) I just recently finished my Ph.D. in English Literature.

Here are the 5 bloggers I nominate for the Liebster award:

Drdeanz

The Writeful Queen

Kylie Betzner
Words — And Other Things
Bookloungeblog
Creative Writer’s 5 questions to me:

1.) If you were to get an opportunity to travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? This one is easy. I would travel to Italy with my beloved wife.

2.) What are your top 3 favorite movies?
In no particular order: The Lord of the Rings trilogy (I am counting them as one movie!)
Somewhere In Time
Skyfall

3.) What do you love most about blogging?
I love the ability to share my ideas on reading and writing and then receiving feedback immediately on them.

4.) What do you love to do in your spare time?
Going on random car trips—gallivants as we call them—with my wife, cooking, eating, and reading.

5.) If you could have dinner with 3 iconic/historical figures, who would they be? Why?
I would love to have dinner with three authors I completely enjoy and appreciate and talk with them about their work: Shakespeare, Tolkien, and Stephen King.

My 5 questions to you:

1.) What are your top 5 favorite books?

2.) If you could go back to any time period for a visit, when would it be and why?

3.) What is your favorite food?

4.) What is a hobby you enjoy?

5.) What is your best or favorite post from your blog?

A Finished Second Draft

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I reached my goal for my post-apocalyptic novel—a completed second draft by the end of the year. I try to set attainable goals for myself, both long-term and short-term in my writing, and completing this revision was a long term goal that I established during the first half of the year. This novel now stands at approximately 78,000 words.

I was very happy to have achieved this goal, but I am under no illusions that the novel is finished. It is still very much in the editing and revision stages. I have many questions about the structure of the book, and I wonder if I am committing the writing mistake of leaving parts out unintentionally because I know the story. It is a very common writing error that I have seen with many students, and I suspect that I am doing the same thing.

I am also very concerned that my protagonist, a 16 year old young woman, reads true, that she is convincing as a character. I don’t want her to be a caricature; she needs to be a true representation of a young woman, but the young woman whom I see in my novel.

As a result, I am giving this draft to several readers and asking for strong critical opinion on these and other questions. When I receive these critiques, then I will begin a new draft, and I have set, as a tentative goal, having a third draft done by July of next year. We will see if I reach that goal.

Marketing to Different Audiences

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In my previous post, I considered the narrative issues involved with vastly different ages of protagonists, or, at least, I began to address that complex issue.

I am close to being finished with a second draft of my post-apocalyptic young adult novel, and I am wondering about the differences in audiences for my novels and the effect that range might have on sales (talk about an optimistic attitude—this assumes I am able to be published!). I also have been thinking about the possible amount of audience shifting, meaning older people buying young adult novels and young people buying novels about folks their grandparents’ age.

Certainly, my first novel Evil Lives After, a supernatural thriller, could be marketed to a range of audiences. I think that Baby Boomers would be a target market because of the age of the three main characters. I think another important audience could be a military audience, because several of the main retired men fought in the Vietnam War, which I show in flashback, and two younger characters are Marine officers who fought in the Iraqi War. The third audience would be those who enjoy gothic, horror, and the supernatural, since the book features a psychopathic demon who is the antagonist. I wonder if the horror and supernatural aspect would be enough to bring in readers who are much younger. Would they be interested in a book that features people old enough to be their grandparents as heroes?

In my, as of yet, untitled post-apocalyptic novel, which is a young adult novel, the primary audience would be, of course teens to young adults. The main character in this book is a 16 year old young woman who faces nothing supernatural but equally as challenging and menacing an evil as the older heroes of my first novel. From what I have gleaned from conversation and observation, the reading market of young adult is not simply the designated age but also that of older readers. While hardly a scientific sampling, I think my observation would still hold that many adults read young adult fiction, and I hope they would be interested in the difficulties my young protagonist faces.

Of course, until published, this is a bit of a hypothetical discussion, but it is something I still want to be ready to discuss either with agents or publishers.

Ages of Protagonists

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I realized that I have a wide range of age between my protagonists in my two novels. In Evil Lives After, the main three friends are retired gentlemen of 68-70 years of age. They are still very active and able to engage in a pitched battle with a demonic supernatural entity. In the second novel, a post-apocalyptic young adult book, the main character is a 16 year old young woman.

Obviously, this presents an interesting series of writing challenges for me. Given that I am closer in age to the gentlemen, but I am not there yet, imagining how they would deal with situations was not a huge stretch for me. Even though, I am not any of these three men, I think I was able to see them clearly and imagine how they would handle the difficulties I threw at them.

With the young lady, she and I are not only of different genders, but also we are widely disparate in ages. So, I hope I am showing a realistic depiction of a young woman of that age and not a caricature.

With all of these protagonists, I did not choose to create them at those ages. That is how I first saw them, and I am not going to speculate about the creative process involved in seeing a character for the first time, only that the beginning for both books was my perceiving the characters and wondering what their stories were.

I hope, in both novels, that I have created believable characters. That will be a test for them if and when I can get the novels published.

In another post, I will explore possible marketing options for both books.

Response to Evil

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Maledicus Final

Copyright @ 2016 by Charles F. French

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” This issue is one of the central themes of my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I and is also one of the main issues that has faced humanity in the last one hundred years. From the consequences of millions slain in the Holocaust to one single person murdered on the streets of New York City while many watched and did nothing, humanity has been confronted with this dilemma. When finding evil threatening others, what do we do? Do we ignore it and pretend that it is not there? Do we call authorities to try to handle the situation and hope they arrive in time? Or do we inject ourselves into situations that for both individuals and nations could be filled with the worst kind of danger?

It does not take much effort to find contemporary examples of such circumstances. In all of these situations, the observers are faced with a moral quandary, and in my novel, it is that circumstance which drives the central conflict. What do three retired gentlemen who are trying to find the answer to the ancient question—is there life after death?—do when they are confronted with sociopathic supernatural evil that threatens an innocent? It would be easy for them to turn aside and say—this isn’t our fight, or this doesn’t concern me.

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(https://pixabay.com)

These three retired gentlemen do decide to fight this evil, even at the potential cost of their lives and perhaps souls.

In our cynical so-called post-modern world, I feel that I am a bit of a dinosaur, because I am an unapologetic Humanist. I still believe that our connections as people are more important than that which disconnects us. My three central characters believe this ideal also. Hence, they understand Donne’s admonition—“Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” And they understand that whatever threatens an innocent must be opposed.