New Title, “Mental,” For My Second Novel

 

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My second novel has been finished for about three months now, and the original title, “Get Over It,” is something I have outgrown. I have been cogitating over a replacement title for it, and I am happy to report that the final title for my second novel is “Mental.”

My main character, Evelyn, or Eve as her twin sister/narrator calls her, is a woman who is at first trapped and overwhelmed by a past that many would never recover from.

Eve suffers from a mental illness that developed in her the morning after her father raped her. She finds herself engulfed in feelings she has been blocking out since that night when she was in high school, and subsequently has a large nervous breakdown after graduating early from college.

Although seeming to be quite a depressing novel, it is only so in a sense. “Mental” has many scenes of comic relief and recreational activities. My characters are in college or recent graduates, and the bulk of the present tense setting of my novel is a large and entertaining house party to lighten the mood. Eve finds refuge in Nature often, as well, communing with the Guadalupe River, the moon, fields, stars, the sun, and more. She is in love for most of the novel, too. All of these things occur to help her deal with difficult memories from her past as she fights hard to work through them.

She rediscovers certain “facts” about her life, namely, that love and togetherness are the most important aspects to a successful life; and, that no matter what happened to her, Eve’s capacity to love hasn’t been broken like she had feared. She is happy to rediscover that her strongest inclinations to maintain and create relationships are still gifts that her heart can rely on, and the novel ends with an unforgettable scene where she gets lasting advice from an old hippie woman on creating happiness in her life.

I am actively shopping “Mental” around to agents who specialize in literary fiction. Wish me luck in getting this second novel published by a big fish publisher by this time next year!

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New Graphic Representations of Scenes from “Mental,” My Second Novel

The following graphics represent scenes or moments from this, my second novel. I apologize if they are a bit out of order, but hopefully you can appreciate their beauty and will feel compelled to read the excerpts of “Mental” which appear on this website!

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Thank you for reading! As Always, Kristen McCurry

 

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Living My Creative Dream!

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Marie K Johnston is ready to rock!

I will do whatever it takes to become a significant voice of my generation!

I am convinced that if I simply keep on writing to literary fiction agents, I will eventually achieve my dream of getting my second novel, “Mental,” published by a big fish by the end of 2017!

I have also embarked upon a pretty aggressive Twitter campaign this week. I am posting graphics with little sayings and a link to this site. I am also actively retweeting and liking posts, in the hopes of garnering a readership.

I have already sent out my letters to literary agents for the day and the total number of letters which have gone out is 25. I am going to take a break from this for the rest of the week in order to see what kind of response I can get before I keep sending out the same letter (in case it’s an epic fail). You can see the letter on this site: “Publication Submission Letter.” I have thought of a few ways to tweak it and make the good points of “Mental” even more obvious. This is the time to sit back and wait for a few days. I will revise my letter Monday if I haven’t received any hits by then.

I am technically on vacation for the last time this summer, as my Chloe is visiting my mom in Austin. However, I am going to keep posting on Twitter this week to see how many followers I can get to click on my blog posts and creative sample.

I believe that anyone with a little talent can create righteous, beautiful writing and art if they stay focused on their craft and stay focused on getting seen and heard! It can be a lonely, disillusioning path to find an audience, but I am steadfast that if I keep posting, I’ll earn a meaningful audience!

 

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Keep Focused on Achieving Your Dreams!

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So, I was told today that I would be better off if I spent my time on housework rather than trying to achieve my dreams of getting a real publisher for “Mental” or having a remote writing career. I was so furious, I started bawling like a child.

The point was well-taken at first–it’s not necessarily intelligence, talent or an entrepreneurial spirit that makes a successful writer, it could simply be about who you know–and I don’t know anybody. But…

I was a high school English teacher for ten years before I got married. I taught my students the writing process for creative work every year, in addition to the curriculum I was responsible for teaching. Whether it was about their creative work, or their opinions voiced in class, I always encouraged them to believe in their work and to believe in themselves. I really believed myself when I told them they could achieve their dreams if they applied themselves like I knew they could. I told them to go for it, go for their true dreams, because I believed that was necessary to achieving a full life and a positive self-esteem. I told them these things, too, because I had a novel I had written in my back pocket and dreams of someday having a writer’s life. Maybe I was just deluded. Maybe they couldn’t really achieve their potentials, and maybe I can’t either…

I admit it, I’ve got a comfortable lifestyle where I actually have the luxury to look for the perfect remote writing job and the time to land the perfect agent with the ability to launch me into my dream of semi-stardom…I understand that these things make me fairly unique and fairly protected from the harsh realities of earning a living where you are too tired at the end of the day to pursue a creative dream.

After an honest discussion, the important person who said those negative things to me said he did actually believe I had written a good second novel.

Dear readers, the point I am making is that I will not give up on my creative dream no matter what anybody in my life says.

“Mental” took many years to complete, and it is an art lover’s dream book, full of everything that magic realism and the blank page can allow me to dream up! Finishing this difficult novel was a big accomplishment and I’m not gonna let it just go to waste on my computer! No! It’s like the perfect punk rock song! It’s worth a read, and I must get it in front of as many readers as possible to begin fulfilling my individual purpose!

So far, learning the publishing industry the hard way has been frought with disappointment. There are tons of scam publishers out there that want to prey on my desire to be published, and this journey so far has been disillusioning at best. However, I cannot, and must not, give up any time soon.

This is evidenced in my new voice mail message, recorded today. I’m not going to give out my phone number to let your hear it, but it goes like this: “You’ve reached Marie K Johnston, novelist,  who has also penned poetry collections and a memoir. Please visit me on the web at http://www.MarieKJohnston.com. If you need to leave a message, wait for the tone.” I have texted family and friends to call me and listen to it because I think it is professional-sounding and in general, pretty awesome.

As always, keep your heads up, dreamers! And, do something every single day to advance your creative dreams!

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Introducing “Mental,” My Second Novel

 

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I am again submitting my novel, “Mental,” for publication. The first round of submissions, around twenty, took place in May. I am using AUTHOR.me, an engine that repopulates matching publishers each time you submit because I don’t know much about publishing companies that are medium-large, who publish literary fiction (which is my genre) on my own. I have had a few offers from medium-sized firms, one located in downtown Manhattan, but these were offers where I would either have to do a lot of the work myself or pay a fee to get published. These weren’t the real deal.

I am holding out for a traditional, big fish publisher that will assign me my own editor, do the marketing and advertising for me, and give me tens of thousands of dollars and an extensive, all-expenses paid book tour! Why not? Gotta dream large to live large and have a significant audience to entertain, right? How will my words be remembered for the ages everywhere if I don’t land a contract with a large, traditional publisher, get on TV and garner an audience pool to write my third novel for?

I am thinking of ways to change up my pitch to reach mainstream, traditional publishers. There’s still a chance that some publishers from Round 1 are still considering this novel for publication because the turnaround time after a submission is around 3 months. However, I am in deep thought about how to promote this novel more successfully in a submission so that at least this website is clicked on and at least I spark some interest.

“Mental,” a tongue-in-cheek title for this serious novel, is a tale I started during my senior year of high school. I have been working on this difficult novel off and on for 23 years! On the surface, “Mental” is a novel about two twins, Lilly and Evelyn, as Evelyn finishes college early to start teaching high school English and then proceeds to have a total nervous breakdown and can’t figure out why. Lilly, the narrator, goes through the events of Eve’s life one by one as she pens the novel for a college workshop class, trying to figure out which event(s) caused the nervous breakdown. This main character, Eve, processes her current life experiences with friends, a boyfriend and her suicidality while busy in therapy and after quitting her perfect teaching position.

Eve finally understands that her breakdown wasn’t caused by leaving school early or being a high school English teacher at the age of 20, but rather by the troubling self-revelations of what her father really did do to her during her parents’ divorce which happened while she was a senior in high school. She realizes there are events from that year, an event in particular which she remembers as a nightmare, that really happened and she works to get her memory back so she can accept the incest experiences of her past in order to continue working on becoming a happy, well-adjusted adult who has the capacity to move forward without sticking points or an unhealthy mindset.

“Mental” is written in magic realism style, one found in Lewis Carroll’s “Through The Looking Glass” and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” The novel is full of dream sequences, mystical experiences, a running metered poem, and a novel within a novel. [Read: I have inserted “Leaves Subsiding (2010), self-published, in the middle of this second novel because they both deal with the same themes.]

My writing style can be described as a journalist who is looking inward. In my teens and twenties, I was a serious journalist who got into, but did not attend because of a lack of scholarship money, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, arguably rated the best program for journalism in the world and an Ivy. By then, I was hard at work on this novel, and the writing which was pouring out was about my difficult though seeming perfect childhood, my serious boyfriends, my mental illness. I had already begun writing about these topics with deadly serious intent, and people reading these early drafts could tell…

You are supposed to write about what you know, after all, and the thing I know best with the most certainty is me and my life experiences. So, I take straight from my life, even dialogue people in my life really said, and approach this content like a critical journalist. I’ve never read a book written like this, to such an extreme degree, and my husband doesn’t like it because he is a private person who doesn’t want his personal life splashed all over the pages of a book or the blog posts of this website. (Rest assured, Chris McCurry–your personal feelings are no longer a part of this website, but you will be featured in my third novel about marriage, our marriage! You knew I wrote this way before we married!)

I must warn you, “Mental” is written graphically yet tastefully in parts and is full of my personal and family secrets. This novel deals with themes like finding and losing first love; having a creative dream and doing whatever you can to make it come true; being and interacting with society’s outcasts; dissociation, what it really feels like to have a serious breakdown, a suicide attempt and psychiatric hospital stay; dysfunctional families, lifelong friendships, drug use, sex; and, how to pull yourself together and deal with ugly truths so you can come out on the other side intact. It also has great flow and beautiful turns of phrase. If you are interested, you can read a few chapters of “Get Over It” on this homepage link. Happy Reading!

Pursue Your Dreams–It’ll Make You Whole!

Think Big! Write Bigger!

 

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Dedication to Achieving the Writer’s Life

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This blog post is all about dreaming large, living with purpose, and achieving your version of success! I am currently focusing on submitting “Mental” for publication.

I recently landed, then lost during training, a lucrative position writing product descriptions for an insanely large, international corporation that would have most likely gone on for years. My husband and I were disappointed because I was let go from the training portion of the position very quickly where there appeared to be no learning curve, and because we had already earmarked my earnings for some major household upgrades, a new car for him, and constant, excessive amounts of spending money…

Once we processed it, though, we realized the late night hours, the uncertainty of what time of day rewrites would be returned, etc. made this a position which was less than ideal and not a good fit for an expectant mother or an eventual mother of two. In addition, the head writer wrote to me in my exit email that I am an excellent creative writer, but not a technical one, and I should really focus on creative from here on out in my life.

So, at least now I know that I really am a creative person. You can’t change a leopard’s spots and expect her to succeed at writing technical, insert-keyword-here-type writing work. It’s a refining thing to know who I am professionally at last, and what I am capable of being successful at, and it’s a good thing to want to be what you are! I have always known inside that I was a creative writer, but never applied for those types of writing jobs because I lacked the requisite confidence–but, not anymore! I have always known inside that I am going to be a significant voice of my generation, so I am going to stop wasting my time applying for a bunch of marketing, technical work that doesn’t help me reach my true goals!

I am again submitting my novel, “Mental,” for publication. The first round of submissions, around twenty, took place in May. I am using AUTHOR.me, an engine that repopulates matching publishers each time you submit because I don’t know much about publishing companies that are medium-large, who publish literary fiction (which is my genre) on my own. I have had a few offers from medium-sized firms, one located in downtown Manhattan, but these were offers where I would either have to do a lot of the work myself or pay a fee to get published. These weren’t the real deal.

I am holding out for a traditional, big fish publisher that will assign me my own editor, do the marketing and advertising for me, and give me tens of thousands of dollars and an extensive, all-expenses paid book tour! Why not? Gotta dream large to live large and have a significant audience to entertain, right? How will my words be remembered for the ages everywhere if I don’t land a contract with a large, traditional publisher, get on TV and garner an audience pool to write my third novel for?  (And yes, the third novel’s already written.)

I am thinking of ways to change up my pitch to reach mainstream, traditional publishers. There’s still a chance that some publishers from Round 1 are still considering this novel for publication because the turnaround time after a submission is around 3 months. However, I am in deep thought about how to promote this novel more successfully in a submission so that at least this website is clicked on and at least I spark some interest.

“Mental” is a novel I started during my senior year of high school. I have been working on this difficult novel off and on for 23 years! On the surface, “Mental” is a novel about two twins, Lilly and Evelyn, as Evelyn finishes college early to start teaching high school English and then proceeds to have a total nervous breakdown and can’t figure out why. Lilly, the narrator, goes through the events of Eve’s life one by one as she pens the novel for a college workshop class, trying to figure out which event(s) caused the nervous breakdown. This main character, Eve, processes her current life experiences with friends, a boyfriend and her suicidality while busy in therapy and after quitting her perfect teaching position.

Eve finally understands that her breakdown wasn’t caused by leaving school early or being a high school English teacher at the age of 20, but rather by the troubling self-revelations of what her father really did do to her during her parents’ divorce which happened while she was a senior in high school. She realizes there are events from that year, an event in particular which she remembers as a nightmare, that really happened and she works to get her memory back so she can accept the incest experiences of her past in order to continue working on becoming a happy, well-adjusted adult who has the capacity to move forward without sticking points or an unhealthy mindset.

“Mental” is written in magic realism style, one found in Lewis Carroll’s “Through The Looking Glass” and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” The novel is full of dream sequences, mystical experiences, a running metered poem, and a novel within a novel. [Read: I have inserted “Leaves Subsiding (2010), self-published, in the middle of this second novel because they both deal with the same themes.]

I must warn you, “Mental” is written graphically yet tastefully in parts and is full of my personal and family secrets. This novel deals with themes like finding and losing true/first love; having a creative dream and doing whatever you can to make it come true; being and interacting with society’s outcasts; dissociation, what it really feels like to have a serious breakdown, a suicide attempt and psychiatric hospital stay; dysfunctional families, lifelong friendships, drug use, sex; and, how to pull yourself together and deal with ugly truths so you can come out on the other side intact. It also has great flow and beautiful turns of phrase. If you are interested, you can read a few chapters of “Mental” on this homepage link. Happy Reading!

Thanks for reading this blog post about my hopes and dreams! Any positive vibes or prayers you can send my way are greatly appreciated!

Dream Big! Think Big! Write Bigger!

You Can Achieve Your Dreams When You Stay Inspired and Work on Small Goals!

 

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New Journey, Same Goals

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I will reveal a secret: I just lost a lucrative technical writing project during day two of the training session! The feedback was positive, though: I am an excellent creative writer, but not a very good technical one…They suggested I look for work writing buyers’ guides, short stories or fan fiction. I was really trying and studying, but still struggling with the formula and insertion of different keywords, etc. Chris, my husband, is still asleep and doesn’t know yet that I am no longer an employed writer.

This brings me the refinement of my professional purpose: I am a creative writer, blogger and editor.

I pay for access to Flexjobs.com, a job search engine for remote creative positions, but all of the jobs I have applied for so far have been marketing/advertising positions. I am going to apply for the creative writing positions, too, now as well, and make sure I give a link to my first novel and this website/blog in every application. This is the next right move.

This job loss could be a true blessing in disguise because with the weird deadline times of day and the random times that rewrites were returned, I was working until 11 pm last night! I worked from 5-9 am this morning, before the new work was even given! These hours were exhausting and not conducive to this stage of my life.

Stay tuned for posts about my new creative job search, my quest for a big fish publisher so that I can become a significant voice of my generation, and some new retrograde posts that will start showing up once I transfer journal entries from my iPhone to see if they can become my third novel ! That’s right–I’m going to turn my juicy, personal journal entries into blog posts and a novel!

This blog post was meant to be an example of staying positive when important things don’t work out and keeping on point anyway.

Stay positive! Refocus on your strengths and goals!

The journey will lead you forward, every experience refining your purpose and showing you where you need to go!

 

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