Monday, March 11, 2013

Meet James Duckett

Today I am featuring a writer who is working toward publication. I thought this would be a great post for everyone out there who is just beginning to write a book, and for those who are stuck in that awkward "middle school" phase of the publishing process and could use some commiseration. I stole this picture from your blog, James. I hope you don't mind. :)

Where are you in the writing process?
I've got one book of Novella length complete and am working on a full-length novel right now. My Novella, called Pushing the Wall, was recently edited by Tristi Pinkston. I've been alternating between implementing the edits and working on the novel. And by working on the novel, I mean I'm still polishing the outline and have written the opening scene to it, which seemed to meet the approval of my critique group.

Where are you in the publishing process?
I pitched Pushing the Wall to a publisher last month at LTUE, but it wasn't a fit with their company. I've been debating what I should do with it now. I have several options to me, such as going into query mode, pitching a few more publishers, or considering self-publishing. I haven't been published. Yet.

What has been the most helpful thing for you as an aspiring author? Google? Conferences? Author friends?
It seems to be finding myself at the right places at the right times. Shortly after finishing my Bachelor's Degree, which is when I told myself I'd focus more on my writing, I had a chance meeting with David Farland/Wolverton. Seriously, I'd tell you how I ran into him but you wouldn't believe me. It was then I started following his daily kicks in the pants.
By chance, I ran into a flyer about a writing/critique group in St. George (where I live). I signed up and made some great friends and it got me motivated to write again. I wrote with them for about a year, but the majority of the members were graduating college students. After they got their degree, they all went their separate directions and I found myself needing a new group.
However, critique partner Kami McArthur got me interested in writing conferences. With her encouragement, I attended my first one, LDS Storymakers in 2011. I was chatting with a group of people at one table -- another oddity since I'm usually the quiet introvert -- and learned that they were part of a critique group in Southern Utah. What are the odds? Just as I lost one fabulous writing group, another one came in to encourage me.
I've learned a lot from this critique group and it continually pushes me to keep my writing constant. So the answer to your original question is... all of the above, except Google. Though I have consulted Dr. Google often because I still have a lot to learn.

Can you tell us about one of your book ideas or your current WIP?
Pushing the Wall is an inspirational running memoir.
Three years ago, I signed up for my first marathon, wanting to get that off my bucket list. Shortly afterward, I broke my foot. I thought there was no way I would be able to run the race because I didn't train for it. To make matters worse, my only real run was a half marathon I ran two weeks before the full. Not only was this race the furthest I had ever ran in my entire life, it didn't end very well.
With a fear of hitting what is known as "the wall," or the point of total energy exhaustion, I ran the marathon anyway with the goal of pushing the wall--hence the title of the book--to the 27-mile point so I could get over the finish line, grab some ice cream, climb into my truck, and drive home.
After this accomplishment, I wrote some notes to remind myself how I did it and prepare myself for the next marathon. When I told people about running the entire race with minimal training, several of them were interested in reading my notes because my story resonated with their training experience in some way. I decided to turn the notes into a memoir, but added training advice and included other running experiences.
Pushing the Wall was written to inspire runners, entertain non-runners, prepare new runners for their own first marathon, and share the secrets of how I survived 26.2 grueling miles of running without training.

What is your current day job?
I'm the IT Director for the City of St. George. I love my job and see myself working their until retirement. I write on the side, a very time-consuming hobby, and hope to have a number of books published when I retire.

What are your publishing goals?
One reason I wrote the memoir was to familiarize myself with the writing industry. And it has taught me a lot: the joy of typing "the end". Running it through critique partners. Editing, more editing, and yet more editing. Working with an editor. Pitching, and trying not to sweat profusely while doing so. I also snuck in some editing. It is still on its way to publication and I feel I still have a long way to go.
My publishing goal is to have Pushing the Wall published so I can turn my focus back to my fiction writing. My goal is to have a dozen books published by the time I retire. My dream would then be to teach others how to write and prepare them for their own journey to publication.

Why do you want to be an author?
The pen is mightier than the sword. Great storytelling can inspire people to go on and lead a heroic life of their own. As much as I crave to hear the words, "I read your story and liked it," the phrase I want to hear above all else is, "I read your story and it made me a better person." Reading has made me a better person, and I hope to pass that along.
Also, I hear the donuts at the publishing table are pretty awesome.

Thanks for visiting today, James. Did you notice how many times he used the word edit? Just a hint there about how important that is. If you'd like to learn more about James and his writing, visit his blog.


Corey Mardix said...

Nice interview for aspiring writers to read. Thanks for publishing this. :-)

James Duckett said...

Thanks for having me, Melissa!! I feel like a star!

Harold Gardner said...

Intriguing to see how the creative; then the publishing piece fit together.

Rob Monette said...

Nice post! Thanks for it!

Last Baby Boomer said...

Hello Guys. Thanks for the interesting post.

Ronald said...

Thanks for the info, my wife has started writing a book.

RCToyPalace said...

Nice post, Jim. The closest I came to a marathon, was in Korea, doubletime to SonYuree, and back, 20k round trip.

Brenda Sills said...

How awesome that you interviewed James! He's a fantastic guy and I loved hearing more about him! James, your book about running sounds so inspiring—I love the title! And ha-ha about the donuts!