Featured Author: C.R. Downing – A World Unimagined

C.R. Downing

Featured Author: C.R. Downing
Featured Author: C.R. Downing

Featured Author: C.R. Downing, also known as Dr. Chuck Downing, is a nationally recognized teacher, professor, and author. He was San Diego County Teacher of the Year and received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. His science fiction novel, Traveler’s HOT L – The Time Traveler’s Resort, received the Best Science Fiction Novel in the 2014 USA Best Book Awards. A Christian, he serves in ministry at Mission Church of the Nazarene as a Life Group Leader. He has two granddaughters, Hadley and Harper. Learn more about Downing and his writing at www.crdowning.com.

Featured Author: C.R. Downing Interview

LHP: How long have you been writing?

C.R. Downing: I did some writing in high school and had three pieces in annual literary compilations from the English Department. While teaching high school and college, I wrote twenty-plus short stories and three short novels. It wasn’t until 2000 that I had anything published. Fair Game, a humorous account of two adolescent boys’ sabotage of the County Fair, won first place in the Writer’s Digest short fiction contest that year. Back to top >>>

LHP: What genre do you prefer to write in?

C.R. Downing: I majored in biology in college. I taught high school science and college general education biology for thirty-nine years. My go-to genre is Science Fiction.
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LHP: What/who inspired you to be a writer?

C.R. Downing: In the summer of 1978, I read the worst science fiction book I’d ever read—I’d read a lot. Sci-fi was far and away my favorite genre; it still is. I thought to myself, “I can write better than this.” I enrolled in a writing correspondence course, got some great feedback, and started writing sci-fi and humor stories. Back to top >>>

LHP: Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?

C.R. Downing: That depends on the story idea. If I’m adding to my stories about recurring characters, it’s the plot. If I have an idea, I’ll usually work on at least the main protagonist and antagonist before trying to determine the best way for them to interact. ROUGH outline at first, pants next, back to outline if I write myself into a corner.

As of this moment, I have one Biblical history novel in the final cleanup edit, one time travel novel in the process of resequencing based on reader feedback, one sci-fi novella/novel that will end up as a time travel or a detective story in the rough outline stage, and am nearly finished responding in writing to prompts for this interview.
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LHP: What is your daily/weekly routine as a writer?

C.R. Downing: It varies by the week. I generally write three-six hours a day. That can be blogs, new stories, or editing. I’ve found out that editing is the most important writing I do. Back to top >>>

LHP: Are there any software tools, resources, or websites you use often while writing?

A World Unimagined, a sci-fi anthology by Left Hand Publishers
A World Unimagined, a sci-fi anthology by Left Hand Publishers

C.R. Downing: I use the free version of Grammarly. I bought Hemingway. Everything I write goes from the first draft to Grammarly to Hemingway before I do any major editing. I ran these answers through that gauntlet and fixed the only issue Grammarly raised, but that helped me find another. Hemingway rated the Readability of the answers as Grade 4. I made four adjustments to wording and sentence structure based on that feedback. Back to top >>>

LHP: What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?

C.R. Downing: Haste. I’m a finisher. While that’s generally an admirable trait, if I rush a story to “completion,” I’ve found it’s still incomplete. Back to top >>>

LHP: Do set word counts or other goals?

C.R. Downing: No set number of words. I don’t often set a specific goal. Sometimes, I decide that I’m going to finish a chapter, a section of a story, or a blog post no matter what. As I said above, I will finish what I start. Finishing takes longer now than it used to. However, because of what I’ve learned, the stories are better written now.
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LHP: How much time is spent on “the business of writing”, queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?

C.R. Downing: Hmmm. Not enough. I’ve got lots of books and few sales. I worked with an excellent publicist for over a year. She concentrated on slowing me down and making sure I had a complete, well-edited story before doing anything with it. Back to top >>>

LHP: Do you prefer short stories or full length novels in your writing?

C.R. Downing: I “cut my teeth” on sci-fi anthologies. I still read them more often than full-length novels. Because of that, I prefer short stories and novella-length books over full-length novels.
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LHP: Can you give some us some insight into your story?

C.R. Downing: “What Goes Around…” began as a response to a prompt from Liz’s website http://www.thewritingreader.com/blog/. After a responding to another of her prompts, the ideas morphed into the idea. The title changed at least three times from beginning to the publication of the story in A World Unimagined. The story comes and goes around a series of personal memos from Captain Gnarnell, a leading officer in the national army of the Sovereign Nation of Cronoqk. Ultimately, it’s a story about underdogs, heroism, and sacrifice for a cause . . . with a twist.
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LHP: What advice can you give other writers?

C.R. Downing:Write. Then edit. Wait. Edit again. Have several people read what you wrote and give feedback. Pay attention to the feedback. Edit. Wait. Edit again. Have an editor/proofreader do their thing. Edit. Wait. Read critically yourself. Consider submitting the manuscript.
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A World Unimagined

C.R. Downing recently authored “What Goes Around…” for A World Unimagined, on sale now.