My Current Writing Progress

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It has been a while since I have updated my writing progress, so I decided this would be a good time to do so. I just finished the first draft of a horror novel about a werewolf.  It is clearly a misshapen skeleton of a book at this point, but at least, it is done and can be developed and edited later. As indicated in my previous post, without words down on paper, there is nothing than can be revised.

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My writing goals for the first half of 2016 follow. First, I will revise my horror novel Evil Lives After, which would be its 9th draft and to continue submitting it to agents and publishers. If I have no success, I will then plan on self-publishing this book.  I believe it is time. Next I will revise the first book of my YA series and also submit it to agents.  I am not sure if submitting two books is recommended or not, but I am following my own plan of action.  We will see what happens. Finally, but definitely not least, I will write the first draft of the second novel of my YA series.

As long as I maintain the pace I have been keeping over the last few years, I should be able to accomplish these goals.  We will see at the end of June if I have reached the destination.

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About the 2015 Writers Digest Conference!

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I spent the weekend attending the 2015 Writers Digest Conference in New York City, and it was an extraordinary experience.  This was the second year in a row in which I went to it, and I plan on returning again next year. The conference, which ran Friday through Sunday, was full of sessions that covered issues of craft, details of writing query letters, inside information on the publishing world, the scoop on self-publishing, how to promote a book, and agent pitch slams, among many others important panels.

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I filled a legal tablet with notes from the conference.  Yes, while many people were taking pics of the slide shows, I was scribbling away in the old-fashioned manner–using pen and paper!  I have committed to being a hybrid writer–attempting to publish traditionally and through self-publishing.  Because of what I learned at this conference, I realize that I have much to learn about the business of publishing as well as the art and craft of writing; I am throwing myself into learning as much as I can about the business aspect as possible.

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I was impressed and delighted by the gracious and welcoming nature of several of the writers who gave talks and presentations.  I was able to speak with Jonathan Maberry, Kristen Harnisch, and G.P. Ching after panel sessions, and they were all willing to share advice with a newcomer.   I want to thank and recommend them as authors and as good people.

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Jonathan Maberry, Best Selling Author, To Speak at Closing Session of Social Media Conference

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http://luanne-abookwormsworld.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-vintners-daughter-kristen-harnisch_12.html

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I came away from the conference filled with information and determination to continue to learn and grow as a writer and as a business owner (at least in the future!).   One belief I hold that is essential to being a writer was reinforced there–persistence, discipline, and dedication are essential to finding success as a writer. I will post pics from the conference in the not too distant future.  I still took them the old-fashioned way and have to get the film developed.  I am slowly making my way into the 21st Century!

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To any writers reading this, plan to attend writers conferences if you can.  I have found them to be very valuable places to learn about the craft and the business.

Happy writing!

Going to a Conference!

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I am going to the Writers Digest Conference in New York City this weekend, and I am very excited about it. This is one of the largest writers’ conferences in North America, and it will be the second time I have attended.

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When I went last year, I had no real idea of what to expect. Of course, I had done research, but a writers’ conference, especially one this large, is significantly different from academic conferences I had attended.

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This year I will be there with my pitch for my horror novel Evil Lives After prepared, and with specific expectations of what I will try to gain and learn. One specific quality of this event that I realized last year is that every session is valuable. I intend to gather as much information as possible about writing and publishing as I can.

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The main focus for me, as I am sure it will be with many other writers, is the agent pitch slam, a kind of speed dating or elevator pitch session with agents, in which each writer has a 3 minute time span to greet the agent, pitch the novel, and answer questions. I have done my research and planning and know which agents I will try to pitch first. I will let you know how that turns out.

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I have to mention that I am staying with my wonderful and gracious in-laws, whom I love as my own parents. A big thank you to them!  They have a house on Staten Island, and I will make the commute on the ferry—and I love riding the ferry!—and then take the subway to Grand Central Terminal, which is only a couple of blocks from my destination.

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Drafts, Revisions, and Plans, Oh MY!

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I finished the first draft of a novel I have been working on the first part of the year. While it is very rough and in need of a great deal of work, it is time to put it aside for a while. I am not sure what my overall goals for this novel are, but at least I have completed the initial draft. So, I need to continue with the overall writing plan I put in place a while ago, one which I was not sure I would be able to maintain. So far, I have done it.

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This writing plan is to draft, as first drafts, two books per year. In addition to the drafting, I am also constantly working on revising previous books. I focus on one at a time, or at least I try to. My writing time is divided into drafting first, and then I work on revising. I have found that I am able to do this about 5 days a week.

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I had mentioned in an earlier post that I am also working on an academic book, but that is moving very slowly as I try to find necessary materials without which , it cannot move forward.  My drafting goal for the rest of the year, therefore, is to complete a first draft of a horror novel. It is a story I have had in mind for quite a while. In fact, the idea for it came from a dream I had, in which, in very cinematic fashion, I saw the entire ending of the story. It was like seeing a movie for free!

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My long range goal for this horror novel is to test the self-publishing waters with it. I still intend to try to be published traditionally, especially with my first two novels, but I decided it was time to spread out this writing venture and see what happens. That long range plan for the book will be to self-publish it sometime next year.

Let’s see how the carrying-out of my plan goes.

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An Epiphany!

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Solutions to problems that I have been considering sometimes come to me at the oddest of moments. I have found answers to questions about writing or teaching while in the shower, in the bathroom, or just after waking up. I am sure this experience is not unique to me, and I suspect the subconscious mind working on a difficulty and then presenting the answer when it is ready might be the explanation for this phenomenon. What would Dr. Freud have to say about this?

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Recently while on a gallivant with my wife, a drive we take for relaxation with no particular place in mind and hoping to find back roads we haven’t yet explored, a solution to my second novel burst into my consciousness.

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I had written two previous drafts of this book, a Young Adult speculative novel, set extremely far in the future, but I felt unsatisfied with its structure. I have had several people read it and make extremely useful comments on the book. One asked me if there would be a sequel, and I realized that I was thinking in those terms. But I was still not certain about this one. What was it? A single novel? Two books?

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The answer came to me as we were cresting a hill in the beautiful back area of northeastern Pennsylvania. I said to my wife that I needed to tell her this solution so I didn’t lose it. This was one of the few times I went out without pad and pen, something I almost always have with me. She graciously listened, and I explained what burst into my mind.

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I now know the structure: it is a trilogy, and I know where the divisions are for each book. I now understand the arc of the entire trilogy, as well as the narrative arc of each text. I also know the antagonists of each piece as well as the overarching antagonist of the trilogy. As I talked it out, the answers solidified in my mind.

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So I am now working on the draft of the first book of the trilogy. I hope to have this done by the end of May or early June. We will see.

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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.

The Importance of Revision in Writing

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“Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.”

(Ernest Hemingway, “The Art of Fiction,” The Paris Review Interview, 1956) 1

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The act of revision is an absolutely necessary part of writing, no matter what kind. Essays, stories, novels, books all require that the author not be satisfied with initial drafts. “Re-vision” means to re-see, or to look at the work from another perspective. This idea is something I try to teach my students in College First Year Writing classes, and it is crucial that I apply the ideas myself to my own work.

When I look back over my writing of the last few years, I can see that I employ this practice. I wrote at five-seven drafts of the chapters of my dissertation for my Ph.D. in English, and I continue to revise with the novels I am currently writing. I wrote 13 drafts of my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1; I did six drafts of my second novel, a young adult speculative work.  The second book in my supernatural series is almost ready to be released at 6 drafts–Gallow Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2. I have learned to be more focused in my revisions, so I have been able to cut down the numbers a bit.

Of course, the writer can revise in several ways. Do we do a complete rewriting of the draft trying to deal with everything, or do we focus on a particular aspect of the novel, for example structure or characterization? I do not pretend to know what each writer should do. I suspect that it varies according to project and writer.

What I am certain of is that we must continue to work on the writing, trying to see it in new ways and looking for various problems to fix.

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The most important point is for writers to keep writing and revising!

1. From http://grammar.about.com/od/advicefromthepros/a/rewritequotes.htm 3/28/2015.

What is Young Adult and New Adult Fiction?

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As I worked on the third draft of my second novel, I started to wonder about an issue of genre and classification. My novel is definitely post-apocalyptic and speculative, but is it Young Adult, New Adult, or something else?

How are these classifications defined? Is it the age of the protagonist? The hero of my second novel is a sixteen-year-old young woman, so does that make this work Young Adult? Are all novels with a young protagonist necessarily considered Young Adult? I am not in any way suggesting that this is somehow negative; rather, I am trying to understand where this book fits in the publishing scheme.

Additionally, what makes a New Adult novel? Would such a book be aimed at 18-25-year-olds?

Does theme and treatment of the theme also play into the consideration of the classification of a work?

If anyone can offer any suggestions, please, please, please, feel free to offer answers.

Thanks to any who help.

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Evil Lives After—Submitted to Publisher!

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I have returned from a productive visit to the local post office.

I sent my manuscript to a publisher the old-fashioned way this afternoon, in a mailing envelope, complete with cover letter and self-addressed, stamped envelope. There are still some publishers that accept non-solicited manuscripts from writers without agents, and that describes my writing situation!

It is exciting to send it into the hands of an editor. I have put it through 7 drafts, so it is time for more feedback, and perhaps—acceptance. But that is now out of my hands. It is time to breathe deeply and to continue with the other writing projects.

Tomorrow I will continue with working on the 3rd draft of my second novel and composing the 1st draft of my third novel.

For now though, I have submitted Evil Lives After, a supernatural thriller, to a publisher!

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Finished With the Latest Revision!

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It is late on Wednesday evening, and I have completed the revision of my supernatural thriller Evil Lives After.  This is now the seventh draft of this novel.  While I am under no illusions that more work will not be needed if it is picked up by an agent or a publishing house, I hope it is at least in a good condition for submission.

I will speak more about what I am going to do for future query letters and submissions, but I have finished this task.

This means tomorrow I return to writing the first draft of my third novel.

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