Saturday, December 20, 2014

Back to Work

I’ve played a lot of solitaire the past year and avoided working on writing projects.  I did start my fourth book, but found it hard to write when I didn’t believe book three would ever be published.  Book three and four are sequels to my first published work; They All Fall Down, (God’s Grace will heal a wounded heart; but will he stop a war?) released seven years ago.
On December 3, my publisher made an offer I couldn’t refuse.  Book three, Return to Nineveh, will be published and book four (yet to be titled) upon approval.  What more could I ask for?  2015 Will see the return of the friends from Helen’s Landing joined by new friends rescued from Java.  The struggle to win control of North Africa heats up as the United States joins the allied forces in the deserts and ancient towns to push the Axis Army into the sea before freeing Sicily from the German Boot of occupation.

Another bonus for me was a signing event for my first two published novels at the church I attend when we are in Alabama during the winter months (St. Paul’s Episcopal in Foley) the third Sunday of Advent.  I look forward to meeting more of the church members and talking about and selling both books.  They will make a nice gift for a special someone and give reading pleasure. 
The message of this blog entry is: never give up.  One never knows when the right opportunity will come into one’s life.  I feel blessed and excited to be given this opportunity and look forward to the work ahead.  My editor will push me to make the book the best it can be, even though it means going through the story in depth and cutting and adding in the right places to bring the story to life.  (I have to say editing is the hardest part for me; rereading—rewriting—and-rewriting!)  I found it difficult to read the book for about a year once it is released. 

I think picking the cover is the most fun part of having a book published.  The folks that create the choices have such great imaginations to put a stamp on the cover that gives a haunting inner look at the story and draws the reader to it.  This is very important to the author, because the cover must be interesting enough to make a person pick up the book and read the back-matter.  These two items are the strongest selling points for a book and, therefore; must be appealing to the public in general.
There is, of course, still the matter of selling, which my publisher, Tate Publishing, will help design a selling strategy and lend support to help me into venues that give optimum exposure.  I look forward to the newest strategies playing out not only for book three, but for all my novels in 2015 and beyond.   Hope is restored and the energy is rejuvenating, as this project moves forward.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


It has been some time since I posted about writing; in fact, it has been too long since I’ve written anything new.  I cannot blame it on anything except simply not wanting to sit down and put some effort into creating in the past few months.  I think I have the rejection blues to blame, which means I only have myself to blame for being lazy and not pushing forward.
Return to Nineveh, a sequel to my first novel—They All Fall Down—simply is not getting off the ground.  While the publisher of my first two novels is offering a contract, it means a financial outlay that I want to avoid.  On the other hand, the editing process with them helps polish the work into a viable product and the editors challenge the author to do their best work.  It also means a support system is in place from the time of editing to as many events as I would like to have to promote the book beyond the release date. 

I have to admit that I find the editing process the most difficult part of writing a novel.  I did pay to have an editor go though the manuscript and believe she did a most adequate job of correcting grammatical errors and helped to bring the story into line for the reader.  (I know what is going to happen and how; however, the person reading the story does not and should not have to struggle to keep up.)

In the meantime, I have started the next part of the series to They All Fall Down.  My publisher has brought new life to the novel, with helping to schedule events and working to publicize them by sending press releases in the area where they will take place.  I have an event in Kalamazoo on the South Kalamazoo Mall at the Cassa Café in less than three weeks (June 14, 11a.m.—1:00p.m.).  I’ve only done one other café event when my husband and I were in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in early 2011.  I also had events in Foley, Alabama while there for the winter.

But back to writing, I do not know how many, if anyone, will read this post; but I am asking for your prayers and encouragement to make the right decisions about Return to Nineveh and to have the desire and energy to move forward to the next part of the series.  World War II was a long and arduous journey for all concerned and changed our world forever.  The history is fascinating, and the plethoras of stories that can be written around it are plentiful and filled with a sense of how people survived in a time of aversion toward other nations.  The numbers of movies made, The Monuments Men is a good example, about the time are numerous and still being produced today.

So, now it is time to put pen to paper, as the saying goes, and stop procrastinating to get the next novel into the computer for consideration.  I hope the characters understand and will be forthcoming as the story unfolds.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Everything Has A Story

Below is part of a presentation prepared that never saw an audience last Saturday.  Timing is everything when it comes to a signing event, and holiday weekends usually don't work out for the author.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy a little talk about They All Fall Down.


Everything Has A Story

Several times over the past few years I have been asked where an idea comes from to create a story.  I think the best answer I can give is: it comes from experiences in life and the things in history that are fascinating to discover.  My generation grew up in a time of turmoil that has led to our present day way of life.  We had the Equal Rights bill signed by President Johnson in 1964, the Vietnam War and the Beatles invaded, changing our concept of rock-n-roll.  
Everything has a story waiting to be told.  What if this happened and my characters were there, how would they react?  How would the story unfold as history progressed?
Throughout history natural disaster and war have affected the lives of mankind.  In ancient time Mount Thera caused a catastrophic natural disaster of such proportions that the world has not experienced since.  Even Mount St. Helen’s or the volcanoes in Hawaii are not on a scale with the ancient eruption that rocked civilizations across what is now southern Europe and caused killer tsunamis to wash away cultures in the Mediterranean.   The Minoan civilization on the Island of Crete is one example of a culture destroyed when disaster strikes and Brimstone and Water combine to cause a catastrophic outcome.

War on the other hand is the outcome of diplomacy gone wrong, aggression to expand territory, to right what is believed to be an injustice, the belief borders need to be secured, a dispute about religion or a combination of these reasons.  Ever since man inhabited the earth feuds were fought over hunting rights, beliefs and territorial boundaries. Even the animal kingdom marks their territory and will fight to defend it; or battle to obtain it. 
 They All Fall Down is a story that evolved from another time of turmoil that also left its impact on our lives.  The story moves between history and fiction, mingling romance and suspense, as it tells a tale about a band of friends residing at Helen’s Landing, Malaya and the destroyer Mariah when World War II explodes in Europe and Japan joins the Axis Alliance.
Unlike a natural disaster, war is a man-made historical event that can—and will—change lives.  It brings devastation to civilization as we know it, sees new and improved weapons of destruction, and usually sees a country’s boundaries either changed or absorbed into another country.  (The Berlin Wall and the division of Germany—east and west, the occupation of Slavic nations, as well as what became known as the Cold War, are examples of the changes war can bring.)   Sometimes a country is left with a treaty that is distasteful to its citizenry, causing discord that festers until it erupts into a new conflict.  The world saw this at the end of The Great War (we know it as WWI) when the Treaty of Versailles was thrust upon Germany in June 1919, seven months after the official end of the war. 
Another, less known treaty was signed with our ally from The Great War, Japan.  It was believed that since Japan was a smaller nation with few holdings in the East, it was not necessary to have a large military presence.  The agreement also called for Japan to have a Most Favored Nation status with the United States, allowing Japanese commercial trade to have an equal status with other countries.  By 1940 the United States refused to renew the Most Favored Nation agreement because of Japan’s aggression toward China, beginning with the occupation of Manchuria, rich in minerals, in 1931.  The situation did not bring military response from the United States, but only the refusal to recognize Japan’s control over Manchuria.  Looking at the Ukraine today, are we beginning another such situation with the Russian occupation of the Crimean Peninsula?  But that is another story to be told at another time.
As Japan expands its aggression in China, Germany is ignoring the Versailles treaty and begins to re-arm, as Hitler gains power and Italy invades Ethiopia in 1935, which again did not bring military response and is ignored by what will eventually become the core of the Allied nations (the United States, Britain and France).  Throughout the 1930’s, diplomacy is in a downward spiral and the United States Congress passes five different Neutrality Acts, forbidding America’s involvement in foreign conflicts.  Meanwhile, the lust for raw materials, minerals, and territory is pulsing on the other side of both our coasts until the inevitable happens.

They All Fall Down begins at this point in history in Helen’s Landing, a fictitious town on the Malayan Peninsula.   The story weaves its way through the diplomatic entreaties on both sides of the Pacific and Atlantic through radio broadcasts on the 9:00 o’clock nightly news. The idyllic simple life is blemished in 1940 and ‘41 with stories of war far away in Europe and battles at sea.  British citizens in Malaya voice concern about relatives in the line of fire, but everyday life fills the immediate future where the idea of disaster is unthinkable.  A few are concerned about the local risk, but British preparations in the East will surely make it impossible for Japan, the third member of the Axis alliance, to strike. 
No one knows what tomorrow will bring and life continues as normal in the small community, with its desirable deep water anchorage, a rare modern hospital, its ambiguous ties to the British Navy, and His Majesty’s Ship the destroyer Mariah.  As diplomacy between the Western Allies and Japan unravel, Mariah’s crew and the friends at Helen’s Landing pray that war will not come to this peaceful part of the world.  But this time the answer is no, and in December 1941 the evil spirit of war is unleashed.  All too soon Mariah’s crew prepares for battle, while the citizens at Helen’s Landing contemplate the Japanese Army coming toward them at an alarming pace.  The small band of friends wonder if this new war will lead to nations in the East watching in alarm, as They All Fall Down?
Everything has a story, it just needs to be told!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Freelancing – Where to Begin

I’ve thought for some time about ways to make a few dollars beyond a novel coming out every few years.  The internet is awash with blogs, magazines, newspapers; to mention a few of the growing number of ways writers are displaying their work.  Each time I Google, “freelance writing” a plethora of subjects litter the computer screen, with little information about how to actually submit an item for consideration to an internet business, without first paying for the information.
Where are the editors that read articles and published them based on their merits?  Whatever happened to personal contact?  While the way we communicate has changed with social networking and e-magazines, to e-books and watching the news on the internet, it is still important to maintain open communication regarding subjects of interest. 

Do you ever notice in restaurants patrons are spending more time on their I-phone than talking with their dinner companion?  At the checkout lanes in stores, customers are so busy texting or talking on their cell phones they can hardly get the items in their cart onto the check-out counter, ignoring the cashier and fumbling to find their credit card or cash to complete the transaction.  I find information searches to be a similar experience of ignoring the question and clogging the screen with pop-ups and unrelated item lists that skirt the subject with no clear answers.  Just as the above examples are a lack of good manners and frustration to many, the clogged screen is a similar experience.
This is another marketing problem to overcome for writers trying to move into a new genre of communication.  The articles must be well written, edited and on a subject that interests the reading public.  It is recommended that beginners start with small articles (500-750) words.  And, most magazines, newspapers, etc. are reluctant to accept an article from a beginner, so: where to start.  I suggest narrowing the search to a specific subject and matching it to the magazine, blog, newsletter, or other venue that accepts freelance submissions. 

I have Googled e-magazines as well as traditional magazines to find subjects of interest; however, it is often difficult to pin-point because of the time lapse between submission and publication.  Until one is familiar with the correct sites to research, the world of freelance writing for profit remains a mystery to be unraveled.  I say, don’t give up—the answers are there waiting to be found, used and shared.