A Goal Reached

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I wanted to finish a first draft of my third novel by the end of this month, and I have done that.  I am not impressed by the draft, because it needs a mountain of work.  I see numerous serious narrative issues that I will need to address in future drafts.  In fact, I am not sure if I will continue with this one–I have to let it percolate for a while before I decide what to do with it.

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This completion of the first draft does lead me directly to my next immediate writing goals.   I intend to attack the completion of the third draft of my second book, a Young Adult novel over the next couple of months.  I want to have a third version complete by the end of May, which is optimistic, or June at the very latest, which might be more realistic.  If the third rewrite moves well, I will then aim for formal editing, and perhaps, just maybe, begin submitting it.

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As the semester grows to a close,  I will soon be able to finish my grading work and devote more time to the work on this revision.  I hope I am able to complete this goal.

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Another Successful Meeting!

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Over the weekend–on Saturday evening, we had another meeting of the Grounds for Thought Literary Group at the Taylor Roasted CoffeeHouse in Northampton, PA.  Once again, this was a very successful event.  It was one of the more well attended sessions, with around 16 people.  We have had as few as 5 and as many as the mid-20s.

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As always, it was intended not to be a critique group, but a place where anyone can share parts of his/her writing or read from someone they enjoy.  It is intended to be a celebration of writing and reading and a place of welcome for those who are working on their writing.

I read the new prologue for my young adult novel, and the general consensus was that it was successful in pulling readers into the plot.  Thank you to all who did for sharing your commentary with me!

Several read from their works in progress, including novels and poetry.  One man read excerpts from The Illiad.  It was quite an eclectic range of work, and I enjoyed all of it.  Whenever there are groups of people gathered for exploring reading, there is magic in the air.

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Thank you to Jackie and John for providing space and serving wonderful tea and coffee–the best in the Lehigh Valley!

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A Revision Dilemma

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As I work on my third draft of my second novel, a young adult future speculative book, I have realized that I have an interesting problem from the very beginning of the book. I had spent a fair amount of time drafting and editing the prologue to the novel, and I was reasonably certain that it was pretty good. Certainly, it was not perfect, but still it was in a workable state.

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After an initial read by a few people, I had two completely different responses to the beginning. One person loved the opening and said it would pull a reader into the world of the book; one said that, while it was well-written, it did not seem to lead directly into the plot of the novel.

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I tell my students in my various First Year Writing courses when two peer evaluators suggest that a problem exists in a particular part of their papers, even if then offering disparate solutions, that they should consider very carefully a problem, in that section, does exist. They should consider the various suggestions, but always remembering they are the authors of their own writing, make a decision on revision themselves. No matter what anyone suggests, the author must always retain the final say in the writing. BUT all authors should consider suggestions from all readers they respect.

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I decided that the best way to approach this problem was to write another prologue, one that led directly to the main character and to the plot.

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After I complete that revision, I will read and have the book read with both prologues, one after the other and see which should stay. I think I know which will be better, but for now, I have to wait and see.

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Children and Reading by Charles French

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I was deeply honored to have been asked to write this post for Darlene Beck Jacobson’s blog.

Darlene Beck-Jacobson

Reading is one of the most important skills that any child can gain, not only for achievement in school but also for enjoyment in life. There is almost no job that anyone can have today that does not require some level of reading ability. It is the touchstone for advancement in any field.
What I would like to speak to, however, is not so much the practical importance of reading but its personal significance. Children have extraordinary imaginations, especially when they are young, and I believe that it is the responsibility of adults around them to nurture and support that creativity and wonder. Reading is the most important aspect of supporting and developing children’s imaginations. What they picture as they read a story will be more important than any image they see on a TV screen.

I speak from personal experience. I cannot remember a time when I did not…

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A Little About Helen Murray

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I have been giving tidbits of backstory about the three retired gentlemen who are the focus of my horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I. In the next few posts about characters in the novel, I will write a little about a few of the secondary, but important characters, of the book.

Helen Murray was a high school history teacher, the kind of teacher who caught her students’ attention and engaged them in the lessons. She understood that for many teenagers, history began the day there were born, and that it required a great effort to engage her charges’ minds.

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She would often wear clothing or costumes of the time period when teaching about the Civil War or the Victorian era for example. Many of her fellow teachers looked at her as an eccentric, but she didn’t care, because her pupils had learned to be interested in history. Reaching her students, and instilling in them an interest in history was far more important to her than what others thought about her.

Her life had been an ordered one, but that changed with a series of terrible incidents, including the deaths of her sister and brother-in-law. As a result of a terrible car crash, Helen became the guardian of her very young niece, Helena, who was named for her.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot of the book, but I will say that Helen showed herself to have the heart of a tiger and to be a warrior.

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Selling & Social Media–DON’T Be a Personal Space Invader

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This is a very useful and informative post for writers.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Johnny Cat wants to write his memoir... Johnny Cat wants to write his memoir…

We writers are kinda weird…okay, a LOT weird. We can drift to extremes if we aren’t vigilant. Either we are the non-stop All-Writing-All-The-Time Channel or we’re afraid to mention we have ever read let alone written a book lest we offend anyone. I get it. I struggle, too. We are artists and “selling” feels…ookey.

Yes, ookey is a word.

Marketing feels especially weird in The Digital Age. But why? Also, why is the ROI (Return on Investment) so dismal with traditional marketing tactics? Facebook ads are a notorious waste of money and I doubt the guy who programmed his Twitter to mention his new book five times an hour has seen a massive uptick in sales.

Perhaps death threats, but not sales 😀 .

I feel that, as we shift from the TV-Industrial complex of the past century and into the Digital Age…

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Roosevelt Theodore Franklin’s Humanism

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( by Raphael ~1510)

“Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.”

John Donne from Meditation 17 (1624)

Roosevelt Theodore Franklin, the protagonist of my supernatural thriller and horror novel Maledicus: Investigative Paranormal Society Book I, is a retired history professor whose main area of study was the occult during the Renaissance. He paid special attention to Marsilio Ficino, Giovani Pico della Mirandola, John Dee, and Giordano Bruno. The work he holds in the most regard is Pico’s “Oration on the Dignity of Man,” a piece often considered to be the Humanist Manifesto, and one in which Pico asserts that human beings have the capacity to rise like eagles or sink into the muck like insects.

For Roosevelt, the Renaissance represents a time with an explosion of new ideas, confronting the status quo and forcing the exploration of new forms of knowledge. In many ways, he believes it was similar to the 20th century.

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(https://es.wikipedia.org)

Perhaps the most crucial and important element from this period for Roosevelt was the creation of Humanism, a philosophy that he considered to be central to his way of life and consideration of the world. He rejects post-modernism and its denial of truth; he sees the existence of truth, but that it is a search one must continue throughout the entirety of life. He denies the idea that humans are disconnected; he perceives the connection among people of which Donne spoke in the Meditation 17. If he is confronted by other academics about his ideas which are often considered out of fashion or outdated, he replies that he is not a slave to fads and that he is proud to be a humanist.

Roosevelt holds that despite our many and varied differences, we are all ultimately connected as human beings.

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