Jun 18, 2010

Completing the First Draft by Sherry D. Shumard

Well, I started writing my first novel a long time ago. I had an idea for my book based on my experience when I ran away from home at the age of sixteen years old. I bought a one-way ticket to Jekyll Island hoping to escape my bad life and to live on an island. In my first book the main character Miranda Wainright does escape her heartbroken life and move to an island. She is carrying with her a secret that she eventually tells to her new love interest Jake.

He is heartbroken also because his wife and baby were killed in a plane crash. Miranda thought that moving to Jakes Island would solve all her problems but it can also create other problems like someone from Jake’s past trying to kill her. She isn’t safe on the island. Her heart is guarded from her heartache due to a cheating ex-boyfriend and she isn’t sure if she can trust him with her heart.

The book was just an idea that I had started on and didn’t finish right away. It sat unfinished for a few years. I was so busy with trying to juggle college and having a family that the book was a far away dream. I didn’t know that I would ever have time to finish the first book.

When my life finally settled down a little bit, I decided to write some more on the book. I tried to be as accurate as I could so I wouldn’t have so many rewrites of the chapters. This process doesn’t work for everyone. Some authors just write down their ideas randomly and it can work for them. Whichever way works. I’m sure there are many writing styles out there.

Well, I was very excited to finally finish the story and have it published. It was an exciting sight to see because the publisher did an awesome job on the cover of the book. It was also exciting to see my name on the cover of the book. It gave me a great sense of accomplishment.

Then I decided to continue the story from the first novel and go from there. I started writing the first draft of Heartbroken Promises 2. I created a plot with the sister of the first book’s main character. Vicky Wainright decides to move to Jake’s Island to be close to her sister Miranda and of course, the island isn’t as safe as she thinks.

She goes missing along with the child that she is babysitting. In addition to that, her heart is torn between two men. One is Noah, her sister’s butler and the other is Jordan the brother of her sister’s new husband.

My advice to new writers is to never give up on your dream of becoming an author. It may take awhile to see the reality of it but with hard work and patience it will become a dream come true. To see your book title and the name on the cover of the book is a very rewarding experience. Also, to have others read your book is an awesome experience knowing you have contributed your literary talent for others to enjoy. Good luck to all!

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I love to read and write books. I’m the published author of a series of books titled: Heartbroken Promises, Heartbroken Promises 2 and I’m currently working on Heartbroken Promises 3. The books are available on www.Amazon.com, www.booksamiilion.com, and www.bn.com just to name a few. I plan on writing many more books since I have a lot of ideas on what I want to write about. My dream is to someday soon see my books come to life as a movie or a television series-That would be great if it did happen. I’m married and have 3 children and 2 pets.

Jun 9, 2010

History of a Bad First Draft by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Looking through a pile of old, disorganized papers a memory slides into place. It is about a first draft I wrote 30 years ago. I wonder if it still exists. Should I pull apart the drawer I think it is resting in to find it? I might need my fact mask as there is sure to be so much dust in that drawer.

Wow. I was a young woman. I'm still a young woman...maybe not. Ok, I'm a lot older, but running home to type the next few pages on my electric typewriter still feels like yesterday.

I remember my excitement. This was going to be my first novel. The plot was part mystery, part psychological. The protagonist was an elderly woman who lived alone in a rooming house in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, along the Jersey Shore.

She had worked and was now retired. A spinster. The plot thickens. She is missing, but here's the twist. No one misses her, not even her landlord where she was paid up in rent many months ahead. Now the novel takes on more of a psychological cast. We have some deep societal issues of loneliness and not really belonging to anyone.

Was it a niece who finally came to look for her? I think it was about at this point in the story, maybe 30 pages in, that the book fell into a coma.

Quickly, with hardly a thought, I put the first draft away. No, it didn't have enough life to it, not even for me, its creator.

My zeal was gone. The best part of writing this first bad draft was walking along the ocean in Ocean Grove and imagining a great novel.

Still, every written endeavor leads to refining one's craft. And interestingly enough, when I wrote The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) 27 years later, I still was interested in mystery and psychology. So too, in Secrets: You Tell Me Yours and I'll Tell You Mine....maybe. But what a difference the years had made. Now I know what I want to say and I have the technique to say it. I will let the bad first draft rest, but I'll still thankful for the step along the way to becoming a fiction writer that it provided.

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Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is the originator of The Enchanted Self(R). She has been a positive psychologist in private practice and licensed in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts since 1981. She is currently in private practice in Long Branch, New Jersey with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein.

Dr. Barbara is committed to bringing to the world the techniques she develops to help people access their Enchanted Selves. These core principles and techniques have brought insight and inspiration to many. Dr. Holstein believes that no one should be denied hope or a joyful life. Yes, happiness takes work, but no more work than living a life without hope, repeating negative thoughts and habits that lead to a life that feels less than inspiring.

Her book The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy was published in 1997 by Harwood Academic Publishers and is now in its second printing through Brunner-Routledge. This book is Dr. Holstein's pathfinder book where she outlines the best in Positive Psychology treatment techniques, two years before the term was coined!

Her second book Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU! received rave reviews as a wonderful inspirational story book with space to journal.

There Comes A Time In Every Woman's Life for DELIGHT is Dr. Holstein's third book. This book takes the reader on a spiritual adventure with Dr. Holstein. Reader's love this book, getting to experience first hand celebrations and adventures that rekindle their own spirit of adventure. In two versions, paperback and a CD-rom version that includes music, art, and Dr. Holstein's voice, either is sure to be a 'Delight.'

Dr. Barbara speaks regularly on radio programs around the country, and appears on television in New York and New Jersey. Many of her inspiring audio shows and podcasts can be found on the web. Her articles and stories appear on the web on hundreds of sites. She also gives lectures, seminars, and tele-classes on happiness. Listen to archives of her e-radio shows, Happiness for Women Only on her website, www.enchantedself.com


Her book, The Truth, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything! is another first in positive psychology. A fictional book, written by a ten year old girl as a diary, Dr. Barbara has been able to imbed lots of positive truths that we all need to remember and live by, regardless of our age.

The girl's edition, titled: The Truth, (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) debuted February 2008 in bookstores nationwide.

Her newest book,is the second in The Truth Series It’s title is: SECRETS: You tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine…maybe!

This book continues the adventures of the ‘girl’ who is now 13.

Writing a First Draft, Torture Anyone? by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Writing a first draft can be one of the hardest tasks in the world. Here's a typical example:

You have a date set to begin to write your story and/or book. At first the date is at least a week off, or maybe even a couple of months, or a year, so all is wonderful. You banter in your head with ideas and brilliant glimpses of insights or descriptions that you will surely incorporate. If well trained in study skills you may have a notebook you keep with you at all times in which you write down some of these extremely amazing thoughts and plots.

Some of us may also be researching similar or identical themes, seeing what others have written along the way. This may mean reading other's books and/or articles and the feelings of being a great researcher, aside from a fiction writer may fill our heads.

Oh, this is a glorious time in the process. I remember researching the concept Enchantment for my first book, The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy. I was in heaven as I read how the word was used in old Nortic times in Scandinavia. Or was it Norway? Didn't it tie into rain deer somehow? Where are my notes!!!!

Ah, but too soon, the 'enchantment' of this pre first draft process passes and suddenly it is the morning of the day you have to begin your first draft. Oh, no, do I feel a cold coming on? I think I have a dentist's appointment. And it is a root canal. My daughter needs me to babysit and asked me to sleep over. She doesn't have a computer! Darn. And the excuses go on and on.

For most of us these successful excuses take us into many days, maybe months. For some, that first draft never does get written. And all I can say is remember you had some glorious days preparing to write! That isn't the worst thing. After all, we do live some of our lives in anticipation of wonderful things that don't happen.

Actually that was almost the case for Secrets: You Tell Me Yours and I'll Tell You Mine...maybe. I had written the first draft of most of the book and then just couldn't proceed. Once the girl had found out family secrets, visiting her aunt, and found out a secret about the boy's family that she had a crush on, the muse in my head went totally silent. I just couldn't get to an ending.

Actually, I had to wait about a year before the ending emerged as naturally as the first part of the book had. What was the difference? Why did it take so long? I'm still not really sure. Maybe I needed time with all those girls I got to know in schools and Girl Scout troops, as we went over The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything). Maybe I just needed time. Or maybe I was just lazy. The point is I didn't panic and I kept believing in myself and my book and the rest is history! Now The Truth Series has two books!


For those of us who must get the first draft written, here is my advice:

  • · Expect garbage and don't evaluate.
  • · Sit down at your computer or put on your dictaphone and start to talk or write.
  • · Don't try to finish sentences. If you switch subjects, let it happen. If a new character or topic emerges let it.
  • · Write for at least 20 minutes or more if you desire.
  • · When you are ready to stop don't throw anything out.
  • · Go to sleep, or eat, etc.
  • · When you are ready to come back to the first draft do so. You can change things around and add stuff. But don't really throw things out. Just save for now.


When you are finally or almost done with your first draft take a break-whether that means an hour, a day, a month or longer.

When you come back NOW you can begin to clean, add, subtract, organize, see what you need to add, etc. I would still recommend saving in a file or word document all you have written, even if you are not using it. After all, you don't know. It may turn out that strange paragraph you wrote really late at night is the perfect opening for your next rough draft!

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Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is the originator of The Enchanted Self(R). She has been a positive psychologist in private practice and licensed in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts since 1981. She is currently in private practice in Long Branch, New Jersey with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein.

Dr. Barbara is committed to bringing to the world the techniques she develops to help people access their Enchanted Selves. These core principles and techniques have brought insight and inspiration to many. Dr. Holstein believes that no one should be denied hope or a joyful life. Yes, happiness takes work, but no more work than living a life without hope, repeating negative thoughts and habits that lead to a life that feels less than inspiring.


Her book The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy was published in 1997 by Harwood Academic Publishers and is now in its second printing through Brunner-Routledge. This book is Dr. Holstein's pathfinder book where she outlines the best in Positive Psychology treatment techniques, two years before the term was coined!


Her second book Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU! received rave reviews as a wonderful inspirational story book with space to journal.


There Comes A Time In Every Woman's Life for DELIGHT is Dr. Holstein's third book. This book takes the reader on a spiritual adventure with Dr. Holstein. Reader's love this book, getting to experience first hand celebrations and adventures that rekindle their own spirit of adventure. In two versions, paperback and a CD-rom version that includes music, art, and Dr. Holstein's voice, either is sure to be a 'Delight.'


Dr. Barbara speaks regularly on radio programs around the country, and appears on television in New York and New Jersey. Many of her inspiring audio shows and podcasts can be found on the web. Her articles and stories appear on the web on hundreds of sites. She also gives lectures, seminars, and tele-classes on happiness. Listen to archives of her e-radio shows, Happiness for Women Only on her website, www.enchantedself.com


Her book, The Truth, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything! is another first in positive psychology. A fictional book, written by a ten year old girl as a diary, Dr. Barbara has been able to imbed lots of positive truths that we all need to remember and live by, regardless of our age.


The girl's edition, titled: The Truth, (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) debuted February 2008 in bookstores nationwide.


Her newest book,is the second in The Truth Series It’s title is: SECRETS: You tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine…maybe!


This book continues the adventures of the ‘girl’ who is now 13.

Jun 3, 2010

Being Unconstrained by Garasamo Maccagnone

Although my intensity level while writing my first draft is somewhat alarming, and I’m sure my blood pressure is driven upward, it usually turns out to be the most memorable part of the process. Writing in an unconstrained manner is sort of like skinny-dipping during the afternoon in your suburban pool. (And yes, I do keep looking over my shoulder waiting to get caught). For some odd reason, I always get a visual of my tenth grade English teacher pointing her finger at me while saying, “You can’t do that. You can’t do that.”

Often times, the writing is illogical. Metaphors are mixed, punctuation is butchered, and sentences sometimes run on like Forest Gump going coast to coast. One must bear all, and it’s usually at this point that the best and worst of my writing is exposed.

More than anything, during the first draft, I focus on maintaining the right pace. Perhaps that’s why I like to write diligently once I start. It must be that I feel I can maintain the rhythm of the sentences once the pace is established in my mind. Fearing I might lose the voice and feel for the story, I rush on to the finish line.

Once you’re finished, even though you know you have a year of editing ahead of you, having the first draft finished comforts you in the sense that you know it’s just a matter of time before your work will come to fruition. Knowing you’re close gives you a reason to continue on.


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Garasamo Maccagnone studied creative writing and literature under noted American writers Sam Astrachan and Stuart Dybek at Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. A college baseball player as well, Maccagnone met his wife Vicki as a junior at WMU. The following year, after injuring his throwing arm, Maccagnone left school and his baseball ambitions to marry Vicki.

After a two year stint at both W.B. Doner and BBDO advertising agencies, Maccagnone left the industry to apply his knowledge of marketing in a new venture in an up-and-coming industry. Maccagnone created a company called, “Crate and Fly,” and turned it from a store front in 1984 to a world-wide multi-million dollar shipping corporation by 1994.

In the mid 90’s Maccagnone decided to fulfill the promise of his writing career, by first penning the children’s book, The Suburban Dragon and then following up with a collection of short stories and poetry entitled, The Affliction of Dreams. His literary novel, St. John of the Midfield was published in 2007, followed by his For the Love of St. Nick, which was released in 2008. Maccagnone expanded the original version of For the Love of St. Nick and had the book illustrated for a new release in June 2009. My Dog Tim and Other Stories is a literary anthology of the author’s best work.

Garasamo “Gary” Maccagnone lives today in Shelby Township, Michigan, with his wife Vicki and three children. At this time, he is researching the location for his second novel, tentatively titled, He Lay Low.

You can visit Gary online at www.garasamomaccagnone.com

Jun 2, 2010

Writing a First Draft by Garasamo Maccagnone

With me, prior to typing a word, a detailed chapter by chapter outline needs to be finished. Once that is done, my first draft is written in an unconstrained manner. Much like an artist applying washes across his canvas, I simply write scene after scene, sometimes in the most rudimentary way, just for the sake of getting the work out of me. The feeling is once it’s down, I can go back and fix it all.

From there, it’s all blue-collar, meat and potato writing, or any other cliché you want to throw at it. I don’t stop until the complete manuscript is finished and I have something of substance, or weight, in my hand. At the end of this process, though you don’t dare show the manuscript to a single soul, you feel good that you’ve strung a lot of words together.

After I leave the manuscript alone for a few weeks, I begin the process of fluffing up all the scenes. And yes, I do clean up the dialogue a little, and I do flush out scenes, but for the most part, the manuscript beefs up and adds a lot of weight. It’s not until I’m finished adding everything I can that I consider my first draft to be complete and ready to present to my first group of editors.

And of course, with an open mind, I listen carefully to all their advice and input, knowing I will have to sculpt the work down considerably by the presentation of my second draft.

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Garasamo Maccagnone studied creative writing and literature under noted American writers Sam Astrachan and Stuart Dybek at Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. A college baseball player as well, Maccagnone met his wife Vicki as a junior at WMU. The following year, after injuring his throwing arm, Maccagnone left school and his baseball ambitions to marry Vicki.

After a two year stint at both W.B. Doner and BBDO advertising agencies, Maccagnone left the industry to apply his knowledge of marketing in a new venture in an up-and-coming industry. Maccagnone created a company called, “Crate and Fly,” and turned it from a store front in 1984 to a world-wide multi-million dollar shipping corporation by 1994.

In the mid 90’s Maccagnone decided to fulfill the promise of his writing career, by first penning the children’s book, The Suburban Dragon and then following up with a collection of short stories and poetry entitled, The Affliction of Dreams. His literary novel, St. John of the Midfield was published in 2007, followed by his For the Love of St. Nick, which was released in 2008. Maccagnone expanded the original version of For the Love of St. Nick and had the book illustrated for a new release in June 2009. My Dog Tim and Other Stories is a literary anthology of the author’s best work.

Garasamo “Gary” Maccagnone lives today in Shelby Township, Michigan, with his wife Vicki and three children. At this time, he is researching the location for his second novel, tentatively titled, He Lay Low.

You can visit Gary online at www.garasamomaccagnone.com