Monday, August 30, 2010

Proofing and formatting

With a rash of all nighters the likes of which I haven't seen since college days, I've reviewed the formatted copy of The Pirate's Bastard about six times in the last three days. It's starting to look like a book! The next step: another round of proofing a proof, then printing.

The Winston-Salem BookMarks Books Festival is coming up in two weeks, so there's a sense of urgency to get it done by then. What's more important to me is the upcoming NC Nautical History Council annual conference in New Bern at the end of September. I've been invited by the executive director, and you can bet I won't miss that opportunity to connect and present my book with like-minded history lovers! I'm praying the final, 100% accurate, done, and reader-ready version is available in advance so I can go bang on some doors in New Bern, tempting local businesses and historic sites into carrying it.

But it goes beyond this annual meeting: the following weekend in New Bern, Our State Magazine is having a conference/tour. If my books are scattered about town, I hope that will get me some notice. I plan to send a copy as soon as one is ready to Our State, hoping to get it in the October issue. I only hope I'm not too late!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A new story in the works

With the upcoming release of The Pirate's Bastard approaching, I have relaxed a little. Just a little, mind you. In addition to redoing my new website (it's going to be a work-in-progress this weekend), tweaking the marketing efforts for my debut novel's release, and wondering about when my children's story is going to see the light of day in book form, I started a new story.

This means I've been working through character interviews, assigning traits and personalities to each one. I know the storyline fairly well at this point, and the characters are happy to exist in a bare-bones outline. Getting to know them is fun! I'll tell you more later on as the story progresses.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back from the Beach

It was hot. The beach in August usually is, and this trip proved no exception. Still, it was fun -- again, no exceptions to trips to the beach, as it's one of my favorite places on earth. This visit to Sunset Beach was with family, shifts of 14 of us in a rented house a block off the beach. With the exception of one little trip into Calabash designed to take a break from the burning sun, my car sat in the driveway. We walked daily on the beach, played in the surf and a little further out, and marveled at the greatness of the ocean.

At this juncture, some environmentally-minded blogger might tangent about how bad things have become for our world's oceans, or the magnitude of pollutants in the water, or something else of great concern. Don't get me wrong -- I am concerned about the health of waters, and we do our part to keep it clean and use it sparingly. (Spending time on a sailboat makes one very aware of how precious a resource it is, both for drinking and for enjoying.) But the little girl in me still loves to catch a good wave, splash at the water's edge, and watch coquinas dig fervently below the soft sand's surface as a wave rolls back out to sea. I still dream of sailing on the waters to faraway ports, mourning that I do not own a sailboat to go in at this point (or the resources to buy another). And I still look at the waves with wonder, in awe of the ocean's vastness and secrets it gives up only to those who go in search of them.

I recently read Robert F. Burgess' book, They Found Treasure in which he interviewed treasure hunters in Florida. In the company of hunters like Mel Fisher, Burgess learned stories and techniques used during dives that sometimes spanned decades. Given my interest in the subject, you can bet this was the first book of several yet to be read that will help round out a certain character in my next book. I started an outline, and have been writing a little most every day, even while at the beach. I'd like to say I have a first draft nearing completion, but that's not the case. Rather, I have the bulk of a 20-page outline started. Unlike The Pirate's Bastard for which there was no outline, this current work is starting out as a full outline with lots of details and dialog (my favorite part of story telling) that help formulate the direction of the story. I have yet to do a full interview with each character, but that's coming. They are in the process of telling me who they are.

Most all of them love the water. It's the constant that binds us all together, in the end.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Stuff Dreams are Made Of vs. Reality

Book tours, replete with signings. Media blitzes. A dozen film producers calling, each begging to have the rights to my novel. And finally, a walk down the red carpet to the preview ... oh, excuse me, was I daydreaming again?

Who among writers doesn't dream of having great things happen to one's words? I can't be counted in that small number, I am sure. In addition to dreaming about my debut novel, well, debuting, I've dreamed about the characters leaping off the page and onto the big screen. I write visually, thinking of each chapter or cluster of chapters in terms of scenes. In fact, I had a brush with hopefulness a few weeks ago. Thanks to a dear old friend, I was connected to two people -- one an actor, the other a screenwriter/producer. The actor read The Pirate's Bastard, and loved it, saying he could definitely see it as a movie. I was flying high for a few days, until the screenwriter/producer brought my feet back down to earth with realistic and helpful advice: sell a half a million copies, and producers will be calling you. Okay. I get it.

So in an effort to sell half a million books, I'm starting to set up events. I've arranged for half a dozen local events so far, and all it took was a question and a smile. I've got a long, long list of bloggers who write about books. And I'm excited. That should count for something. These are just my first steps.

Do you know of Nicolas Sparks' first steps? He sent his manuscript for The Notebook out to loads of agents, and got one call back from an agent who was filling in for someone who was sick at her office. The story goes that Nicolas asked her how long she'd been an agent, to which she answered six months. Since she was the only one who called, he gave her the deal. She called back shortly to say she had a deal -- a good deal -- for him. A million-dollar book contract, and oh, by the way, movie rights for a few dollars more. Eighteen books later, most of his books have been turned into movies, and he writes the screenplays for each.

The kindly screenwriter/producer I talked with pointed out that agents aren't required to make such a deal. He also told me how to reach producers when I had some sales under my belt. He did caution that although the story might appeal to some, it would probably be cost prohibitive to produce as there's an old ship, a battle at sea, and it's a period piece. Helpful and realistic, again. And I'm so grateful for his advice and time. But it did cause me to wonder more about this topic, and with a little research, I found a novelist/screenwriter -- a somewhat rare combintation, I gather -- who has an excellent blog for both types of writers. She offers nuggets of gold daily, and I am enjoying learning what it takes to get noticed in the grand world of novels-turned-movies. Check Alex out here if this is a topic of interest. If nothing else, she's putting it all out there, just like the kind screenwriter/producer I talked with, and keeping it real.