What was the first piece of writing you ever wrote professionally?
Oh boy, I had to dig into my archives for this one! My first piece of professional writing was a sports piece on my agency’s bowling league. That was in April 1990. Looking at the story made me smile. I remember being so excited to see my name in print for the first time – even though the editor misspelled my name!
What skills have you picked up along the way from past writing experiences that have improved your craft as an author?
I started writing when I was very young, and like most young people starting out I made a lot of the classic mistakes – I didn’t have anyone look at my manuscripts before sending them out to magazines/publishers. I didn’t realize that if I had to explain what they had just read, that it wasn’t the reader, it was the writing. I learned quickly that if a editor/publisher gave me a critique as part of the rejection letter that I needed to follow their advice. Soon I was recognizing a pattern of things that needed to be fixed in my writing. I went to work polishing my manuscripts making them the best I could make them. Not long after, I started to see my short stories appear in the pages of magazines and then eventually I felt ready to start publishing books.
Would you say that your experience as an editor of the Corps of Engineers magazine has helped your writing in any way?
The writing I do for the Corps of Engineers is completely different than the writing I do for my publishing brand, “Out of This World Publishing.” Journalism is short, sweet and to the point. Your audience doesn’t have a lot of time, so you need to cram in the most important information into the first couple of paragraphs of your article. My writing outside of work is more descriptive. I take my time developing characters and scenes. That work is meant to be enjoyed at a much slower pace. That said, being an editor for more than three decades has certainly helped me in polishing personal work. I can chop words, or sometimes even pages, and do it without emotion or regret. I also use shorter, more concise sentences. Being an editor has definitely helped me as a writer!
Have your experiences as the editor for the Corps of Engineers magazine influenced your latest novel, the Pente Force Chronicles?
No, not at all. As I mentioned in my prior response, the writing contained in the YANKEE ENGINEER is completely different than in the “Pente Force Chronicles” series. In the YANKEE ENGINEER, I tell stories, but they’re real stories. Stories about the amazing projects done by the Corps of Engineers and the incredible people behind those projects. “The Pente Force Chronicles” is pure fiction – young adult science fiction adventure. The heroes in the YANKEE ENGINEER are real. The Pente Force and
everyone in their universe are based on the kids from my old neighborhood growing up. I take enormous pride and pleasure telling both types of stories, but the writing and the worlds are completely opposite.
As a write with experience in a few different mediums, do you have any advice you could share with other authors?
I belong to a lot of writer’s forums on many platforms. I see it all – new writers doubting themselves and their work to new writers who think their first draft is ready to be sent to the publisher/magazine. The advice I give them is this: don’t give up. Don’t you dare give up! There is a story in your head that wants to get out. A story that must get out. Write it down. Don’t think about what anyone else will say about your idea, it’s your story. Not everyone is going to like it. That doesn’t mean that it’s not good. Once it’s all written down, put it away for a while. Come back to it later. When
you go back, start editing relentlessly. Edit it at least twice and then send it to someone else. Listen to what they tell you – professional editors will give you good advice. Friends that are editing and reading your work as a favor will have good input, too. Believe in yourself and it will all work out.
Ann Marie R. Harvie
Ann Marie R. Harvie has been the editor of the award winning magazine, YANKEE ENGINEER since 1992. She is a contributing journalist to the ARMY ENGINEER MAGAZINE, THE CORPS ENVIRONMENT and the COMMUNITY ADVOCATE. She also has thousands of readers on Trip Advisor and Yelp. She was a series author for Chanillo.com. Ms. Harvie has had short stories from the “Pente Force Chronicles” series as well as other stories published in small press magazines, blogs and anthologies over the years. You can read some of her short stories on her writing blogs, http://storiesfromoutofthisworld.blogspot.com and https://storiesfromoutofthisworld.wordpress.com. You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.