Quotations on Imagination

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“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”

                                                                Albert Einstein

 

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“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.”

                                                                Jonathan Swift

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(Martin Droeshout Portrait)

“The lunatic, the lover and the poet,

Are of imagination all compact. . .

And as imagination bodies forth

The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

Turns them into shapes, and gives to airy nothing

A local habitation and a name.”

              William Shakespeare

                    A Midsummer Night’s Dream

                      (Act 5. Scene 1. lines 7-17)

 

Writing Update

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It has been a while since I have posted my writing progress, so I want to give an update on what I have been doing. I posted a while ago that I want to write a first draft of a novel every six months or so, and I am on target with that goal. I hope that the first draft I am currently writing will be between 200-250 pages, and I currently have about 40 pages written.  At the pace I am going, I should have it complete in June.  This is book two in my YA series.

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I am also very busy working on revisions of my horror novel Evil Lives After and the first book in the YA series. In both cases these revisions are minor. I believe both books are ready for submissions; I will see what kind of results I get.  In the case of the YA, I have been getting excellent feedback and reaction from readers. I have also received excellent advice on the horror novel, and I have cut some and rearranged chapter order, so I believe it moves along much faster and better than before.

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On the academic writing front, I am working on revising an article on Gothic literature as well as conducing research for a book on an obscure Irish playwright, Seamus Byrne. I hope to send the article out again soon, and I will work on drafting a chapter of the book in the summer.

I will give an update every month or so on my progress.

 

 

 

 

Favorite Horror Films of the 1930s: The Mummy

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In 1932, Universal studios followed up on its enormous success with Dracula and Frankenstein with the release of The Mummy. Riding the crest of his popularity at the box office, Boris Karloff starred, Karl Freund directed, and Carl Leammle Jr. produced the film. The movie was another financial success for the studio and further solidified its power and standing in the cinematic and entertainment world.

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The plot of the film featured a curse on an Egyptian tomb and the resurrection of Im-Ho-Tep who had been buried alive as a mummy in ancient Egypt.  The film capitalized on the public awareness and excitement about the discovery of the tomb of King Tut and the supposed curse on that burial ground. We see Karloff in the full mummy makeup and costume for only a short period in the film, then he appears as the mysterious character Ardeth Bey who is searching for the reincarnation of his lost love.

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The film is atmospheric and an excellent story, but it is distinctly different from the barrage of sequels that were very loosely based on this particular movie. In those films, a monster, often not very bright, and always in full mummy costume and makeup, would trample around and cause terror and destruction until it is stopped.  This film focuses on the characters and the story more than overt horror. Additionally, along with The Bride of Frankenstein, this film is arguably one of the finest examples of creative cinematography of all horror films. The influence of German Expressionism, with its strong use of heavy dark and lights and clearly defined shadows is evident and important in The Mummy.

Jack Pierce created the makeup and continued to establish himself as the finest and most important makeup artist in all of Hollywood. His dual creation of the mummy in costume and full monster makeup and of Ardeth Bey is powerful and visually compelling.

If you have never seen this movie, you should put it on your viewing list.

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Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I by Charles F. French is available for purchase on Amazon either as an ebook or a print book!

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

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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A 3rd Draft Complete

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It always feels wonderful to reach a goal!  I had hoped to have completed the third draft of my Young Adult novel by the middle of this month, and I finished it on Wednesday!

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The next step in the process is to have it read by a few select readers and then return to the revision process.  I suspect the next draft will  take approximately 1-2 months, so accounting for reading times, I would like to have this draft (# 4) finished by the end of the summer.

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I am taking just the weekend off from drafting, and then I will return to the cycle of beginning a new novel.  I have several competing in my head to be the next one begun, so I am not yet sure which will win.  I will, however, choose and begin a first draft on Monday.  My goal for that draft is to have it finished by the end of the year.

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As a side note, I am working, albeit, very slowly on my academic book.  I am still trying to find a copy of the play I need, so more on that progress in the future.

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Searching for Innocent Bystander

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I need help with a project I am currently working on.  In May 2014 I completed my dissertation From the Political to the Personal: Interrogation, Imprisonment, and Sanction In the Prison Drama of Seamus Byrne and Brendan Behan. I found this work to be extremely interesting and satisfying especially because the study of Irish Theatre in the 20th Century has been central to my academic work. One of my immediate discoveries was while an abundance of research has been done on Brendan Behan, very little has been written on Seamus Byrne.

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I am currently working on a book focused on Seamus Byrne. In it, I will examine his life and his three plays that were produced. His last play, Innocent Bystander, is presenting itself as the most mysterious. According to the site, PlayographyIreland, it was produced at the Abbey Theatre in November of 1951. Other than some small pieces of information, I have found neither a copy of the play itself nor more specific and detailed accounting of the production.

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I was wondering if any of you have any suggestions about places to hunt for this play in Ireland. I have contacted the Irish National Library, which has a manuscript copy, but the fee for them doing the copying is extremely high.

Thank you in advance for any help or suggestions you might have!

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Teaching Shakespeare!

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I usually write about writing in some way, but in this post, I want to talk about teaching Shakespeare. The spring semester is over, but as an adjunct professor, I teach the entire year. I am not complaining about this situation, because I love my work, just explaining the schedule.

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I have loved Shakespeare most of my life—the reading of the plays, the viewing of productions, acting in them, directing one production, writing about the plays, and teaching the plays. I studied Shakespeare as one of my areas of specialization in graduate school, so I am always excited when I have the opportunity to teach Will.  Shakespeare has been a lifelong companion.

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This college class is being held at The Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College.  Because this is an adult evening college, which also administers the summer session, all of the students in my class are adults.  They are working towards their undergraduate degrees as are the traditional age students, but they bring the added responsibility and attentiveness to the class that comes with maturity and experience.  I love teaching both traditional and non-traditional students, but both bring different needs and different expectations.

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The class has just begun, because the first summer session has already started. I have held the first class, which was an introductory lecture on Shakespeare’s theater and England at the time. Tomorrow we will begin examining the plays. We will cover some of the comedies in the first half of the session and some of the tragedies in the second half. By the end of 12 classes during the span of 6 weeks, we will read and explored 9-10 plays. The first play of the course will be one of my favorites: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.   I feel like I have a special relationship with this comedy, because I have studied it, taught it, written about it, acted in it, and directed it.  It was also the play of the first live Shakespeare production that I saw when I was in 10th grade.

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I am looking forward to teaching Shakespeare!

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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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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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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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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.