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ALeigh


Aug 28, 2009, 11:39 AM

Post #1 of 7 (3060 views)
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Hello Everyone Can't Post

I've been lurking on this board for a couple of months, and I've found it to be incredibly helpful. I thought I'd put in an official introduction.

I'm 33 and live in Georgia. I've been writing for some time, but have been focusing on fiction for the last four years or so. In the past I've done everything from music reviews to travel articles. I've written a lot of short stories, and I'm in the middle of my first novel. (None of the fiction has been published anywhere, but I have a stunning collection of rejection notes!)

It's easy to feel like you're working in a void, so it's great to read posts here from others who are having similar experiences. These forums have given me good suggestions on new markets for my short stories, and it's nice to read thoughts from others who are writing/submitting/getting rejected - and accepted. (I like the "accepted" anecdotes best - they give me hope!) I look forward to contributing to the Speakeasy, as well as continuing to learn from other members.


(This post was edited by motet on Aug 29, 2009, 2:54 PM)


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Aug 28, 2009, 11:40 AM

Post #2 of 7 (3059 views)
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Re: [ALeigh] Hello Everyone [In reply to] Can't Post

We, too, look forward to your contributing here. Welcome!


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


Mary McFarland
Mary H. McFarland
e-mail user

Aug 28, 2009, 8:36 PM

Post #3 of 7 (3015 views)
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Re: [ALeigh] Hello Everyone [In reply to] Can't Post

ALeigh, hi. I liked your post. I'm new to the speakeasy, too, and I relate to your comment about how easy it is to feel like you're working in a void. I'm all over the Internet, my own social networking site, on facebook, etc., and I STILL feel like I am. What I've done to alleviate that is set up a writing schedule that is compelling me to get novels finished, but I'm also rewarding myself with a one-week workshop in San Antonio this September. I'm attending the Donald Maas novel writing workshop. I like Don's workshop's: I come away knowing I've improved my writing, so it's money well spent.

What else do you do to combat being swallowed by the void? By the way, what are you working on right now?

Mary


ALeigh


Aug 30, 2009, 2:37 PM

Post #4 of 7 (2975 views)
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Re: [Mary McFarland] Hello Everyone [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, Pongo and Mary.

Mary, I like your idea of rewarding yourself with a workshop. I visited San Antonio recently, and I thought it was beautiful. As for me, I joined a small critique group several months ago. Each member of the group is working on a novel, and though everyone's style and subject matter is wildly different, the comments I get are usually helpful. And even when they're not, the meetings give me deadlines for completing chapters. The deadlines might actually be the most valuable part of the experience for me - I thrive on pressure. Iím working on a novel now, which feels so different from the short stories I've written. I prefer the short story, to tell the truth. I love how self-contained stories are. Writing the novel, though, is satisfying in a different way. What do you write?


Mary McFarland
Mary H. McFarland
e-mail user

Aug 31, 2009, 11:14 AM

Post #5 of 7 (2940 views)
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Re: [ALeigh] Hello Everyone [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I also like writing the short story. As you say, they seem so self-contained. When I began writing them, I didn't worry about things like story structure and arc, etc., so I wrote what I felt. Some of it was syrupy; some of it was good. Of course, I've since learned how challenging it is to write the short story, but I'm still writing them because, as you say, it's satisfying. Mainly, I polish them and submit them periodically, which makes me feel good, even when I get the rejection letters.

That's really great that you've found a good critique group: I know the writing styles vary, and actually, comparing styles is what helps me see the larger context for my own writing, and that keeps me growing and progressing. I have not been as fortunate as you. Wilmington is small and rural, so it's hard to find even a small group of people interested in completing and publishing novels. I'm not whining, mind you, I'm just a realist. However, I've been invited to one about an hour's drive away, so think I'm going to start going this month. I also have a friend who has agreed to swap critiques online, but I really love meeting with people, having coffee, and simply feeling the heft of other folks' manuscripts in my hands!

I'm revising Mostwanted.zip, a contemporary romantic suspense. It's about a Dept. of Justice fraud analyst who returns to her racist hometown to bust a fraud ring of good old boys. She is biracial and has converted to Islam, so the return poses many challenges. The romantic thread includes confronting her handsome ex-lover, by whom she has had a son (now fifteen). I like the story because it's out-of-the-box for the romance genre: it includes a protagonist whose faith is Muslim, first of all, and a story thread that explores a high-tech crime, as well as high-tech romance by a couple of the antagonists. I've put the first fifty pages or so on www.mostwantedzip.ning.com, so you're very welcome to look: it's in the group, Most Wanted, and I'd appreciate any remarks. If you have a location online where I can help critique your work, I'd be happy to return the favor.

My second novel is a contemporary mainstream called Mule Boy. In keeping with my challenge to write out-of-the-box, I've abandoned the old, three-act structure story model for one promoted by Donald Maas in his Writing the Breakout Novel. Are you familiar with the work? I've just started using Don's guidelines to develop Mule Boy, and the writing process is the opposite of that I employed for Mostwanted.zip. I'm actually enjoying this preliminary work, so I'm pretty addicted to the Maasian process. I've also put each of the steps I'm following to create the structure for Mule Boy on my site, so again, you're welcome to follow that, too. That group is called, not surprisingly, Mule Boy. I know you're busy, so don't expect any critique, but if time permits and you get the chance, you might simply enjoy visiting my site. Likewise, if you have one, I'd be happy to take a look.

One of the speakeasy's rules is to keep things short, so I'll do my best. What is your novel about? Do you do a lot of prelim. work, or are you one of those incredibly gifted writers who can just write without an outline? I have a friend who writes everything that way, and I am so in awe of him.


ALeigh


Sep 14, 2009, 11:21 AM

Post #6 of 7 (2830 views)
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Re: [Mary McFarland] Hello Everyone [In reply to] Can't Post

Mary,

I visited your website, and it looks like you've been very busy! Your novels sound
interesting, and good luck with your critique group. My book is about a Mexican American
woman who travels to southern Mexico to search for a sister she previously believed was dead.
It's my first novel. I'm kind of researching as I write, and I outlined the book in a lot of
detail before I began writing. I'm about halfway through the first draft. It's a slow process for
me, but I'm enjoying it. Most of it, anyway.

Best of luck with all of your projects!


Mary McFarland
Mary H. McFarland
e-mail user

Sep 14, 2009, 4:34 PM

Post #7 of 7 (2813 views)
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Re: [ALeigh] Hello Everyone [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for visiting my site. Yes, I am busy but, well, I've been waiting a long time to get the chance to write my novels: I'm actually behind schedule by about twenty years! Yikes!

I've devoted a lot of time to developing my site because I am told almost on a daily basis that I need a "platform" to become a published author. What has happened is that, during the building of my "platform" I have found myself assuming the writerly persona I am developing the platform for. What a strange experience!

Your novel sounds interesting: it's a mystery, right? I love any novels set in Mexico (I've always wanted to take a backpack and just hike around for about a year).

I'm glad you mentioned the process that you undertook of outlining in detail. I've gone nearly berserk trying to outline mine over the past few years and, finally, I think I have a "formula" for outlining that works for me. I have fought so hard NOT to be anal retentive about story outlining BEFORE I start writing, but like you, I find that I'm not an organic writer and simply must have the outline.

It's exciting when you get sort of to the middle of your novel, isn't it? I know that is when I finally realized, Hey, I AM a darn writer! It's so good that you're enjoying the process, and I encourage you to really indulge that sense of passion that you so obviously have. If you would like to brainstorm any part of your novel or just bounce ideas off me, stop by my site and chat, if you'd like. I'd love to hear about your progress: hearing about the success of others keeps me going. I'm actually beginning the process of outlining Mule Boy, my second novel, so you're welcome to sit in or to participate on my site.

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