How I revised my zombie novel

I just pulled an all-nighter finishing copyedits on my novel Ghost Moon Night. First day of school today and I saw off the kids at about 6:40. Kept editing until finally, at 10 this morning, I was done. Done! I looked up some email addresses and sent it to my beta-readers so I wouldn't be tempted to touch it yet another time.

I wrote this zombie novel in 2008 before zombie novels got really popular. I entered it in the 2008 LDStorymakers first chapter contest and won in the suspense category. My prospects seemed good then. I got some dream-agent interest. Eventually, I shelved the manuscript and branched out to other projects.

In the past 5 years, I started a memoir writing service, wrote an award-winning op-ed column, and wrote feature stories. I did everything but write fiction. Instead of curing me of that itch, I craved it during breaks between projects. My memoir publishing experience has taught me something valuable: Finishing what you start is more satisfying than having an unfinished project. Also, it's great to help others reach their dream, but it's important that you go for your own dreams, too!


Here are some things that helped me finish this round of revisions:

1. Devoted consecutive days and blocks of uninterrupted time. Continuity for me was the key. It was hard to remember what was going on in my plot when I went days between sessions. Easier when it's fresh in my mind. Laundry piled up, the sink overflowed, and the lawn got long, but I got my revision done! (My sweet family pitched in on these chores.)

2. Opened a new document and wrote the revision from scratch, using the original manuscript as a flexible guide. That way, I could change the storyline  freely, if needed.

3. I learned this the hard way: Stick to a POV early on if possible. It's hard enough to write a novel. It's even harder to rewrite a novel from first person to third person. I caught a lot of mistakes in my final copy edit where I still had "I" for "he".

4. Gave myself a realistic but challenging deadline. I figured for me to get this novel out before my daughter goes on her mission this fall, I need to finish the edits now.

5. I revised my manuscript by doing the following:

Overhauled the first 50 pages
Changed the point of view from first to third
Added a prologue
Looked for plot holes and filled them sometimes just with a simple sentence or two.
Added more sensory details
Now that I knew the final plotline, I added foreshadowing & thematic elements
Found and replaced character names that start with the same letter (to avoid confusing my readers)

6. Finally, I printed out the entire book and went through a last round of line edits, catching more POV changes, typos and filling in more plot holes.

If you are overwhelmed by the prospect of revisions like I was, take a deep breath and tell yourself you can do this. Remind yourself of the end result: a finished book that can be taken to the next level.

Jewel Allen is an award-winning journalist, author and ghostwriter. She runs a memoir publishing company, Treasured Stories, and is the author of Ghost Moon Night, a zombie novel set in 1950's Philippines, due out this fall.

Happy Days 83: This is my happy moment

Wesley playing a beautiful song on the piano

I had a manuscript to finish so I got up at 6:30, worked on a chapter for an hour, then went to clean our church building at 8 with my two younger kids. Drew and Sierra had already gone to work.

Happy Days 77: Gluten-free Slow-Roasted Chicken Curry

Today, I made gluten-free chicken curry in the slow cooker for three hours then transferred it to a roasting pan in the oven (to get that thick roasted quality I love in stews). I wanted to use two smallish whole chickens but couldn't find a recipe that used uncut chicken pieces, so I modified some recipes to come up with the one below. The ingredients reflect what I had on hand.

Country Explosion Reba-lutionizes Tooele County's Rep!

Source: Country Explosion Facebook Page

Author's Note: I originally wrote this as a Tooele County Concerned Citizens Facebook note but it didn't appear on the page timeline, so I decided to cache it on my blog, too.

Last night, as my husband and I cruised home to Grantsville from Reba's concert which ended another Country Explosion evening at Deseret Peak, I felt proud of what our county has accomplished with this event.

To put this in perspective...I was just in Nashville last month. Tagged along with my husband who was attending a conference at the same time as Nashville was putting on the CMA (Country Music Association) Music Festival.

Happy Days 71: Hasta la vista, Europa!

Day 16: Madrid Bajaras Airport

On our way home!

When I left Ireland, I couldn't even abide the thought of coming to the airport in a skirt. It had been rainy there, and cold. Pleasantly so, but not cozy enough for leg-baring clothes. This moment, I am sitting with Sierra at an airport cafe waiting for our flight, in a lightweight black dress, having had my fill of sun-drenched Spain.

Happy Days 70: Churros, Chocolate y Carlos III

Day 14, Palacio Real de Madrid y Toledo

Churros y chocolate

We set out at 9 for some churros, chocolate and (King) Carlos III.