Continuing the Process




I am continuing the revision of my supernatural thriller Evil Lives After, and I am a little bit past half-way finished. I hope to be ¾ of the way through this draft by the end of the weekend. If I keep on track, then I should be able to complete this draft by the end of that week.

At that point, I will send it to a few publishers as well as submitting query letters to more agents.

Once I have accomplished that goal, then I will return to the first draft of the third novel. While I am a bit behind my initial plan, I am still well within the long range goal of having the first draft done by late spring. I am certain that draft will be a mess and in serious need of a great deal of revision, but that is what I expect.

As I tell my students, if you don’t get anything done on paper, then there is nothing to work on. And I will have a great deal to work on!

I will also have the needed material together soon to begin serious work on an academic book that I hope to have drafted—the initial writing—by the end of the year. I will speak more about that particular project as I begin to work on it seriously.

This year will be a good balance between the two aspects of my writing: fiction and academic.



Pen, Paper and Writing – The Obsolete !!


This is a wonderful post on writing by hand, with pen and paper, that I thought you might all enjoy reading.

Open Book!!

2014-02-11 12.09.16 The only place where people still use pen and paper apart from educational institutes are, some old government offices that do not have computers yet, or they might not have hired anyone who dusts it off and switch on the CPU. Everything has become so automated in life today; we do not need a pen at all. We have a rectangle magic box in our pocket that brings the world to us. Do a math – done, make a note – done, save a number – done, click a photo – done, read a book – done, write to someone – done, send a mail – done, play a song – done, watch a video – done, do shopping – done, you name it! In a world like this, I hardly see anyone write using pen and paper.

 I think we are missing something here; honestly I like the…

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Revisions, Submissions, and Drafts—Oh My!




It has been a wild and whirling period of writing. I finished a draft of an academic article, submitted it to a journal, and have been working on a seventh draft of my first novel Evil Lives After. In doing this, the writing of the first draft of my third novel has been postponed for a week or two. I will, however, resume that composing very soon, and I still expect to have a first draft done by late spring.

I have continued the process of submitting query letters to agents for Evil Lives After, and I have received nice rejections of the work. I decided to give it another read; it has been a while since I had looked at the text, and I realized that I could tighten it considerably, so I am doing that now, and I hope to have this draft complete in one to two weeks. I am approximately ¼ of the way through this draft.

I have also found a few publishers who will accept un-agented (is that a real word?) manuscripts, so I will probably send the novel to them also. I continue to hope for both acceptance by an agent and  publication, of course, but constructive criticism would also be very helpful.

So, back to the revision I go!



A New Submission


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As I have mentioned in previous posts, my writing efforts fall into two very different camps: one of writing speculative fiction novels and one of academic writing. I recently submitted an article “Contagion and Apocalypse as Metaphor for Economic/Social Turmoil: The Destruction of the Privileged Nobility in Poe and Brooks” to an academic journal.

I examine the collapse of the upper-class in both writings as a result of some of the characters’ insular and classist attitudes. Poe and Brooks construct a metaphor for the economic distress of their respective eras and then employ a covert and overt critique of the ruling elites’ downfalls. In both works, the hyper-privileged attempt to create a fortress of immunity from the plagues destroying their societies; in doing so, they establish the reasons for their collapse and hasten their destruction.  Poe’s and Brooks’ writings serve as a class-based examination of the inherent illness in isolated, removed, and cynical upper-classes.

This submission represents the third incarnation of this piece. It began several years ago as a paper for a graduate seminar. While reasonably good, it needed a great deal—a massive amount—of revision and rewriting. I spent a fair amount of time working on a new draft, and then I submitted it to an academic journal. After a few months, I received a rejection, along with very useful critical advice. I then redrafted the paper, into what I hope is a tighter and more fully developed piece.

I then identified a new journal for submission, learned the authors’ guidelines, formatted it correctly and then submitted it. Now, with this piece I must simply wait either for acceptance or rejection. If it is accepted, I celebrate. If it is rejected, I do more revisions, find another journal, and continue the process.

5 Websites to Help Aspiring Writers Publish, Not Perish


I thought this was an excellent post, suggesting useful sites for writers, especially for those, like me, who are beginners.


IBM_SelectricFor writers, as for most professionals, the internet is a vast and intimidating resource. With so much information available, knowing where to start becomes part of the problem. Here are five sites I’ve used which I’ve found invaluable while researching how to submit my fiction.

Poets & Writers

Poets & Writers has been around since 1970, and they know what they’re doing. They’re a fantastic, professional resource. They have listings for grants, contest, agents, and presses. There are regularly posted writing prompts and interviews with industry professionals. You can subscribe to the magazine too, or download paid content, but there’s a lot of great information for free. Start with “tools for writers” and go to “top topics” to get some nice overviews of various publishing topics.


Duotrope is a wonderful resource for anyone looking for markets to submit to. Yes, it is a paid site. It’s five dollars a month…

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The Importance of the Liberal Arts: Revisited




I was looking over some of my early blogposts, and I decided I wanted to repost this piece about the Liberal Arts and their importance.

I had a piece published in the “Education Guide” of the Sunday, 2/15/15, edition of The Morning Call, the largest newspaper in the Lehigh Valley, PA. I am very proud of have the article in the paper, because I am very proud to be part of the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

The Wescoe School is the name of the adult college program for Muhlenberg College. In this school, adults are able to gain full Bachelor degrees in a variety of majors and programs as well as certificate of study if they are focused on one specific area. I have been teaching college English courses for many years, and I have been an adjunct instructor at many colleges, but I am deeply impressed with the quality of education and the care for the adult students that are demonstrated in this program.

I was honored to be asked to write this piece, and I hope that I delivered a clear and sound explanation of the Liberal Arts, both in terms of history and application. I am an unrepentant Humanist; I still believe in the power of education to help people and in the ability of writing and words to help bridge gaps among people. Even at my age, I remain an idealist. Especially in the Wescoe program, I see education having a positive impact on students, many of whom have never attended college, might be starting their higher education in their 40s or 50s, and many of whom have full-time jobs and families. Their ability to learn and achieve never fails to humble me and to reinforce my belief in the strength of the Liberal Arts.



A Change of Plans


I have been making good progress on the first draft of my third novel and staying on my immediate goals for pages for the month. While I am pleased with my progress, I have also needed to make some adjustments to my monthly drafting goals because of the necessity of addressing a few other writing tasks.

I recently found a few more agents to whom I can submit my first novel, so I decided to give the book another read, and I have been making a few changes, tightening where I can. I plan on having this reading and editing done in two weeks. Because I am going to submit Evil Lives After again very soon, this editing takes precedence over the drafting of the third novel.

I also just recently finished a piece that will be appearing in the Education section of The Morning Call Sunday newspaper. I will blog more about that soon.

Over the last few days, I also put the finishing touches on a rewriting of an academic article which I will soon be submitting to an academic journal; I will also write about this piece in the near future.

While these various tasks have precluded any real drafting of the third novel for a short period, I will return shortly to that task, within one to two weeks, and continue on a slightly revised drafting schedule. I am still on target to complete a first draft of the third novel by the end of the spring.

Benefits of Reading



I have previously written about the happiness of reading, a pleasure I hope everyone, or at least, most people experience. As I wrote before, I consider reading to be one of the main joys of life.

I also want to consider the benefits of reading. I think the first, and perhaps most obvious, value is that of education. Regardless of where the reading is done, or if it is for class or for self, all reading informs the reader in some way. While there are a myriad of ways to learn in life, reading still stands out as the primary, and most efficient, way of gaining information. (I am not in any way discounting the importance of learning through experience.) Readers can learn about areas of study that exist far outside of their particular areas of understanding or expertise. For example, I am a student of English literature, but I love reading books about quantum mechanics and the extraordinarily esoteric world of String Theory. I do not understand these ideas the way a physicist would, but I can still appreciate the ideas from books aimed at intelligent, non-specialist readers. Such reading allows the book lover to explore an almost unlimited range of ideas.

In addition to education, I think there is a second and equally important value to reading. I have read numerous articles recently about studies suggesting that people, who read, especially fiction, develop more empathy than those who don’t read (Chiaet). The overall point of the results of this study, as well as others, is that people who read fiction tend to learn to identify with other human beings and their problems. This is what many of our parents taught to us when they said that we needed to learn to walk in the shoes of other people. It is the basic idea of trying to understand how other people think and feel. Even without these scientific studies, I would assert that fiction helps us to develop empathy.

What do you think about this? Do any of you have other suggestions about the benefits of reading? I would enjoy seeing your ideas.

Works Cited

Chiaet, Julianne. “Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy.” Scientific
American.Com. October 4, 2013. Web.



The Pleasure of Reading




I have spent the majority of my time on this blog writing about writing, so I thought I would address the most fundamental and most important part of this experience with books: reading.

I have been reading my entire life; in fact, I cannot remember a time when I did not read. And reading has informed my life in many ways, not only in terms of career but also in the joys of life itself.

I read books, I teach them, and I write about them, but mostly, I enjoy them. I remember my mother telling me when I was very little that you can go many places that you might not ever have a chance to visit, real and made up, if you read. And I have visited and continue to journey to real and fantastic lands.



I am not a reading snob. While I teach college English Literature, I read in a very wide range, from adventure and horror to drama and so-called high literature, although I am not so certain that this distinction is accurate. Both Shakespeare and Dickens were considered popular writers in their time. Hemingway straddled the mythical fence of literature and genre writing. Today, I happily read authors in a multitude of genres, including Stephen King and John Connolly, among many others. So, I read whatever I choose, in any area. And I get great pleasure from the reading.

I hope that all people can experience this pleasure. I realize not everyone will, but I can keep hoping they do.



Happy Reading!



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