All posts by Anonymous

Revise, Read & Then Revise Again!

It has been hard for me to sit down and track my writing progress. I think this is because I've hit a wall. My novel, this thesis means more to me than just a grade and/ or a graduate degree. I want writing to become my life. I always have. I started this journey in my early twenties. But I quit after my very first no. Instead of buckling down and honing my craft, actually becoming better. I stopped and went in he other direction. And now I am back. In graduate school with my eyes fixed my childhood, goal/ dream. The writing of my novel part is causing me frustration mainly because I haven't been able to find the time to revise my manuscript. I'm getting it done because I am literally hustling the time. I done through and revised my novel for a second time. And now, I'm stuck.

I couldn't put my finger on why, until now. I think it was because I was in the trenches. I was swamped with my creative ideas and the research that supports the notion that there is a place in the literary world for my manuscript. After sitting with all of the research I acquired over the course of the past few weeks. I wondered what I needed to do next. How and what do I use to get started on my thesis. But luckily, part of that research is reading. The writing can come later. Now I love to read for pleasure, obviously. So I put my research reading on hold then I went back to look at notes written in the margins of my manuscript. All of those notes called for me to pick up a young adult novel and study good writing. So, I picked up the book All American Boys by Jason Reynold sand Brendan Kiely. I looked for moments in the text where they author used show and not tell. I looked for ways to incorporate imagery in the text to give the reader a sense of setting. I marked up examples on page:

This helped me in identifying examples of imagery done well. I felt like I was preparing to teach a lesson on using this skill. I was able to go back and look at my work and look at my revisions through a different lens. When it comes to writing my manuscript I am so happy that I have help. My best friend and author, Tami Charles is my writing partner in my revision process. She read Misunderstood in its rawest stage back in October and now, she's helping me along through my revisions as my line editor. She doesn't want me to call her that, but she is. I've also enlisted the help of a two professional editors, Keslsy Kloster as my copy editor. And Mary Kole to help me with my first ten pages and as well as my query and synopsis letter. I believe that they will give me the help I need to push through to my final revisions needed to start submitting my work to agents.

Writing my creative work has been interrupted by the research aspect of my thesis work. Now more than every I wish that I was getting my MA in Creative Writing because the it has become so difficult to work in both parts of the brain. But I believe my work as an educator makes this easier to do. As I'm going through the creative process of revising the novel I look at through the lens of my research questions.

Why is a book like this needed?
Why does it matter?

I've been gathering my notes and jotting down my thoughts to answer this questions. I have started reading articles and watching different talks on story telling and keeping up with stories that are being  brought by publishing companies on the Publishers' Weekly Rights reports. It is important to me that gather all of this information from all angles. This helps me stay focused on my end goal and and my end of my graduate school program goal.

The good part is that I am still in the research phase of writing my thesis. So for now, I can continue to read, revise and gather notes that will help me write my thesis once I get to phase II.

God Is In the Details…

This week's thesis journey was straight research. 

Alan's comment on last week's blog got me to thinking. 

Alan's mention of Kurt Vonnegut reminded me of this book that I've had sitting on my shelf for the longest. Now, I never actually read it. It was recommended by Dr. Mary Ann Riley at a professional development workshop. (I love her by the way. Any PD she's teaching I want to be there front and center!) At this workshop she was teaching teachers how to teach students to be better readers and writers and at some point she mentioned this book. And I immediately went on Amazon and ordered it.  

Anyway, I cracked open this book, started flipping around until I found a section that I felt was a great starting point for the things I needed to focus on in my writing. I landed on Chapter Eight titled Details. During our Google Hangout chat with Barbara, we talked about writing techniques and tips. In order to be a good writer, one who has honed and perfected their craft you have to study great writing. So, before I select and read my mentor texts with the lens of learning the craft. I decided to see what Francine Prose had to say about good writing. 

I was one page into the chapter when cracked open my highlight. Prose says a friend told her, "...God is really in the details." This stopped me in my tracks. I started thinking about photos. What makes a good photo. It is the details the parts of the image that the camera has captured and allows us to stare upon it with adoration. And some of the best images, with the best lighting isn't usually created by man. It is the natural light, created by God that hits just right creating the perfect...detail. 

Thinking about a photo made me reconsider how I read books. What details and images do I remember? Prose goes on to say, "Details are what persuade us that someone is telling the truth-- a fact that every liar knows instinctively and too well." (196) 

One of my favorite quotes about reading was said by Mason Cooley, "Reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are." I truly believe that this is done through the details and the images that the author so skillfully creates in our minds. When I go back and revise my manuscript I have to remember and look for moments when I do this. The lack of considering the importance of these details could have a huge impact on my story as a whole. 

Prose asserts, "Details aren't only the building blocks with which a story is put together, they're also clues to something deeper, keys not merely to our subconscious but to our historical moment." (207)

Considering the big picture of what I plan to achieve or accomplish with my manuscript that notion is everything to me. I have consider my audience for my novel and what I want Misunderstood to impart on them what message am I sending them, what Easter eggs am I leaving behind in my details. 

This chapter opened my eyes to what I need to do as a writer. It was very educational to put on that hat and look at literary moves as a author and not just as an analytical reader of literature. I am going to look for more texts to read on the craft of writing. I think it is important to start my research journey here because this will make it easier when I move into writing the my research piece where I take a deeper dive into my questions. 

Why Fiction?

Why do humans need stories? 

Why Misunderstood?

How does my work fit amount the books that inspire me? Should it? 

I was begin to consider one of my questions, why fiction. This video on the Future of Storytelling was very insightful and it provided some science data as to how storytelling affects our brain. 

So yes, God is in the details and my job as a writer, is to figure out how to make each detail count. 

Now the Real Work Begins

Photo: Twitter @Jarredamato

These books are my inspiration. 

Now, I have to admit that I haven't read all of them. In fact, I've only read two of them and yet, I have all of them in my collection. Sitting on top of my bookshelf staring at me, patiently waiting to be cracked open and read. The reason I haven't read these books is well, totally work related. Yea, I blame it all on my job. It sounds really lame, but it is true. I want nothing more than to read and occasionally binge watch This is Us. But well, the way my life and responsibilities are set up... that is just not in the cards. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Like I said, these books are my inspiration. Last week we had the pleasure to video chat with Barbara Ganley @bgblogging. Alan was there too, but Barbara's feedback and input was amazing.  I couldn't write down my notes fast enough. She said so many "quotable" things that I just couldn't keep up.

Barbara said this is her favorite quote about writing, 

"There are three rules to writing the novel, unfortunately, no one knows what they are." 

I kept reading this over and over again. The rules of writing, what I think or know them to be really don't matter. The writing is what matters. The words that you put on a blank screen matter. It doesn't even matter if everything that you write is crap as long as you're writing. Every single thing Barbara said resonated with me. I felt like she was speaking only to me. Everything she was saying I needed to hear. Even though I didn't want her to stop talking, there was a part of me that wanted to end the call and jump right into writing. I didn't of course. Not that day but next day I did steal some moment to write. The conversation was just as good. 

I walked away from the conversation realizing that I had some reading to do. Reading not only for pleasure but for research too. Which brings me back to those books. They are truly are inspiration. Those books are written by some of the best authors in the game right now. I use their books to teach my students about good writing and good storytelling.

But this time when I'm reading, I have to look at them from a different perspective. More than just being good books. I need to go back with a pen and mark up the text looking for moments when the author is showing and not telling. 

How does the author create imagery to bring the reader into the story? 

I need to pay attention to these writing nuances to help me in my own writing while simultaneously thinking about my thesis project.

Yes, part of my thesis work will be my own completed novel. But the other aspect will be where I explore these questions: 

Why Fiction?

Why do humans need stories? 

Why Misunderstood?

How does my work fit amoung the books that inspire me? Should it? 

Before I read a single page from any of those books, This week, I chose to start my research by watching a book. I watched this TedTalk by Grace Lin a while back and I thought it was a good place to start my research. This time I watched it with this question in mind, why fiction? Why fiction with characters that represent myself and the children that I teach? 

It All Started With a Book

The Road to Misunderstood 

Last year in one of Dr. Zamora's class fellow grad student Richonda told me about a book called The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and it changed my life. Now, I've always been an avid reader. And since I've become a middle school teacher I've become addicted to YA (young adult)  novels. They are my new favorite obsession.

Every single time I get my hands on my a book that I know will make my students want to read I cannot wait to get it into the hands of students. The Hate U Give aka THUG is that book.

Since I have found books like Dear Martin, The Miseducation of Margot Sanchez and I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter -- each of these titles I have purchased and given to my students. The largest purchase came from Donors Choose. And I am telling you. I cannot keep these books in my library longer than a day.

After I finished reading this book I wanted more. I wanted to read more like it. In my quest I realized that I wanted to write one like it. I had a THUG type story inside of me. I always have. I dabbled in writing before. But none of my stories kept me away or motivated me like the story I am working on for my grad thesis titled, Misunderstood. Growing up in Newark, NJ and now teaching there has inspired me to want to share their stories with the world. My students deserve to read books where they see themselves represented. More importantly, I am writing the books that I wished I had as a child.

In my writing of this novel I know that I have a lot of research to do. The first is figuring out the lane that my book needs to be in. Why does it matter? What space will it occupy in the world? Interestingly enough my research started with Twitter and the hashtag #weneeddiversebooks. I took this as my call to action as an author. I have stories to tell.

Below you will find a synopsis of my novel....

Fifteen-year old MYA ANDREWS’ life has never been easy. When her grandmother, BIG MA dies the summer before her junior year, it is yet another disadvantage added to her life.

Not your average girl from the hood, Mya is no slouch in school. In fact, she prides herself on being a straight A student. She’s determined to succeed in spite of having suffered so much loss. Each loss drives Mya’s dream of going to college to become a doctor-- fulfilling a promise she’d made to Big Ma.

Big Ma’s death leaves Mya with two very heavy burdens to bear; Big Ma’s gift of sight and KEVIN the father she’d never met showing up to take her away. Kevin rips her away her from the only family and friends she’s ever known in Newark, NJ to live in Millburn--an upper middle class Jersey suburb. Mya is forced to forge a bond with her father, his wife and their kids.

Mya’s visions are unpredictable at first. They give her insight into the past and glimpses of the future. But she doesn’t foresee the unexpected course that lies ahead. The first casualty of Mya’s move is her relationships with her best friend TAMIKA. 

While attending a cookout in her old neighborhood, a possible gang related shooting pops off. Tamika’s brother is killed and Tamika is injured. Word gets out that Mya’s father is leading the investigation. Mya’s friends including Tamika turn on her.  Mya is branded a snitch all over social media and ostracized by everyone.

Adding insult to injury, Mya has to learn to navigate her way through a new school where she’s clearly an outsider. Junior class president, self-proclaimed genius and overall jerk AUSTIN LUCKETT ensures that she doesn’t earn a spot on the school’s Academic Olympic team.

Eventually, Mya learns to trust the one person she distrusts the most-- her dad. Austin’s loses his spot as captain of the Academic Olympic team. Mya steps into his spot proving all of her Millburn High haters wrong.

In the end, Mya realizes that moving doesn’t destroy her identity-- it adds another layer to who she’s always been.

Creating a New Environment 2017-07-29 02:19:00

Blog 4
Hope Wilson
Progress Report

Monday my computer crashed. I lost approximately two thousand words. It killed my mo jo for two

days. I could not get back to my  mindset of inspirational writing. My story begin reading like a

biography. I am attempting to write a young adult book that will inspire children in poverty to

persevere. Thursday I picked up my iPad and it was back. That inspirational concept where I left off

at Sunday.  Then I had to play catch up. It was great that I was off Thursday. I wrote four thousand

words Thursday and completed my fourth book Friday. Saturday is my girlfriend 50th birthday party

and I want to attend. As promised and according to the class assignment I will continue to write until

Wednesday. I will focus on my introduction, conclusion, and my book dedication.

Good luck guys in your life journeys. Maybe I will see some of you in passing or in class.

Good luck Dr. Zamora!!!

Creating a New Environment 2017-07-22 01:12:00


Blog 3
Hope Wilson
Progress Report

My creative juices are increasingly growing and rapidly flowing. I am completing my books in 

great spirit. Writing these books has improved my spiritual being tremendously when writing. 

This assignment is exactly what my summer needs. This is a great distraction from some of 

my personal worries. Maintaining my one thousand word a day is now effortless. It has 

become a mental escape. It is equivalent to mediating for me. It has been confirmed. A 

couple of my purposes in life are definitely to become  an educator and assist children to 

achieve their purpose in life. Also to write young adult novels providing children a window 

into other children lives. Providing them with different ideologies.

Hey Guys! How is it going? Please feel free to bounce any ideas off me. I am checking my 
emails daily. I am also available to talk. My work hours are flexible.

Creating a New Environment 2017-07-14 00:57:00

Hope Wilson
Week 2 
Progress Report

Writing this inspirational children book has opened my creative thoughts in aspects I did not know 

exist. I am attempting to encourage children who are born into poverty and in uncompromising living 

situations. I am also making an effort to advise them of team work and the importance of sharing 

valuable information with other children in similar living conditions. I am attempting to encourage 

children to plan their escape legally with educational means. If this book inspires one child to 

persevere it will be an attribute to my legacy.

Guys I am still doing a lot of editing. This week my writing has began to flow free. Monday I 

began to write 1,000 words a day and it has been working great for me. Although I have 

not gotten use to the goal set forth. I have been meeting the 5,000 words a week. How are you guys 


Good Luck Guys!!!

Creating a New Environment 2017-07-08 23:35:00

Hope Wilson
Weekly Progress Report

First day of class was joy for me. I love learning and it is always a joy to 

meet people. Plus Dr. Zamora always creates a relaxing class environment.When I presented my 

word count in class I did not realize it was for all five books. My first book had consist of two 

thousand words. When I realized that I went into panic mode. I wrote for and hour 

Wednesday night which consist of one thousand words,  two hours Thursday night writing 

another thousand words in addition to editing the entire book, and three hours today which 

brought my word count to thirty five hundred. I will be writing all day Saturday until I reach my 

goal. Sunday I will be editing all of my writings again. I am constantly editing. I can not keep up with 

my thoughts. I am leaving out words and misspelling many words in the rush to reach my goal.  

Writing is fun without the pressure...:) This is definitely a challenge.

Good Luck Guys!!

Creating a New Environment 2017-05-01 22:05:00

The Literary, The Humanistic, The Digital: Toward a Research Agenda for Digital Literary Studies
Julia Flanders
What is Digital Humanities and What’s it Doing in English Department?
Mathew G. Kirchenbaum
Hope Wilson

         I have recently began to personally utilizing computers.I actually carry my iPad daily on most days to read and research at my leisure. Just last year I was utilizing computers for school and work related concerns only. I now feel comfortable with my learn knowledge of some applications that I now research, make purchases, and download information when needed. 

       The digital humanity has become a popular concern of many scholars concerning the English department as well as public usage. As soon as I read the first couple of lines I too googled digital humanities and my results where on wikipedia also. The definition is the digital humanities, also known as humanities computing, is a field of study, research, teaching, and invention concerned with the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. It is methodological by nature and interdisciplinary in scope. It involves investigation, analysis, synthesis and presentation of information in electronic form. It studies how these media affect the disciplines in which they are used, and what these disciplines have to contribute to our knowledge of computing. There are constant concerns of how to reinvent and improve processes like the success of the project of the “developed and tested standards and best practices for archiving and ensuring future access to computer games, interactive fiction, and virtual communities” providing the users with better applications. Digital humanities are encouraging change in the English Department. It provides options on how to research, teach, invent, and compute. The entire methodology of investigating, analyzing and how we present information in electric form have changed. This change will provide enormous amount of access to needed information and research. Although I consider myself to be “old school” I continue to enjoy going to a physical library and holding books in my hand as I read them. I have adjusted to the internet because it has its convenient. I am engaged in progress and inspired by the technical tools that are presently available to students and willing users. Although we must consider “The recession-era push to do more with less provides motivation for both defensive, retreating shifts (such as elimination of specialized departments and increased class size) and opportunistic ones (such as the creation of online educational programs that arguably serve to expand access and increase educational opportunities even while they help reduce costs). But both shifts reduce the visibility of the individual—reduce the proportionality, we might say, of the individual to the system. This is true whether we are considering the teacher (now an intellectual focal point for an expanding set of educational relationships that might number in the hundreds or thousands per course) or the student (now a proportionally smaller participant in larger and larger classrooms or online learning communities). It is important to note that both retreat and opportunity operate in the same way here: they accept the same structural premises, namely that the individual must be placed in ever greater subordination to a system of interconnections and that the efficiency and scale of the educational operation are the primary measures of its success—a developmental direction mapped out and justified by the logic of industrial technology,” may effect the transition of technology. We must also consider how accurate our look up has to be to receive exactly what we are searching. The library system is more convenient in that aspect. Considering the World Wide Web has enormous amount of information available to the seeker who are  knowledgeable of the process of researching information. We use to know exactly what we were getting in books and in the World Wide Web I am not exactly sure.

By Gum, I think I’m Ready to Publish! by Debbie Bagnato

Yes that's the reality, I believe the site is finally ready. BUT then I find some small piece of wording on a page--other than the play I adapted (the actual project) and begin to revise that...So, I wait another day and find some other minute section I want to reword, ever so slightly, and so the tale goes. But, I had wanted to visit Dr. Z and do the actual publishing with her--a sort of security blanket? And that might be what I am waiting for--except my schedule is unpredictable of late--and sometimes erratic. And she is even busier than I am! These next few days will decide it for me--once I see my work schedule for next week, I can either go ahead and take that plunge (actually, push the little button that says "publish") or I can email my mentor and see if perhaps we can squeeze in one short piece of time. The concerns are non-related to the writing; I went word by word and found a few details to change but feel pretty confident it is in good shape. It is in the other pages that are directed to the reading public--the world of the internet. Among which will be my co-workerrs looking to see if they are mentioned, listed in the cast, and if their photos look presentable on my website.
My hope is that they are all pleased with what I have done; the store is the "setting" for my entire adaptation. Many of my co-workers are the modern-day cast members who shadow the original characters Aristophanes created back in 411 BCE. I simply noticed the similarities--and often exaggerated the likenesses--to create this piece set in this situation with these people. I feel a bit like I have stage fright--and the only cure for that is to get out onstage. If I feel the need to publish will remedy these cold feet, I will go ahead. Of course, I will be looking and checking all pages later (I just finished...) and then finishing up my other piece. I think my next blog might be read--if you choose to follow--on my website! Hope everyone is moving confidently towards their big finish and cannot wait to see you all on the eighth. Bye for now my writing chums.