Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Novel with a Twenty year Gestation period by: Gail MacMillan

I've always been fascinated by the history of my region of Northern New Brunswick. After writing two history books about the area and numerous magazine articles, I decided I had to capture the area's colorful past in fiction. I set out to tell the story of what happened to the Miramichi Valley when, in the 1840's , steamships were rapidly replacing the graceful windjammers, the construction of which was a major industry for residents. I'd barely begun my epic when I returned to 9 to 5 work to help support the family. Then I embarked on getting my university degree. And along the way, I still managed to write several hundred magazine articles and stories as well as three less ambitious romance novels.

Finally I graduated from university the same year that my eldest daughter received her degree in education. Not satisfied, I went on to do post graduate work at the University of Western Ontario in expository and narrative writing. Through it all I kept working on the labor of love that was my historical epic.

Eventually it was finished and I sent it off to an agent. She didn't reply for some time but months later sent a note saying she'd taken the novel to England because she thought a publisher there might be a fit. When it wasn't, she abandoned the manuscript. A second agent was enthusiastic at the start but eventually vanished, manuscript and all. Discouraged, I put the manuscript in a drawer.

Some years later I began working with editors at The Wild Rose Press. I mentioned my abandoned manuscript to one of them and she asked to see it. Now it had been written largely in pre-computer days so that meant I had to re-type all 150,000 words into e-mailable form. I'm nothing if not determined so I set to the task. Months and several severe edits later, my story finally appeared under the title of "Shadows of Love."

It had been twenty years start to finish and I'm not sure I'd have the stamina to do it all again. But I am happy to see finally out in the light of day.

Gail MacMillan
twitter: tollerbeagle44
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beth Kennedy’s Diary Entry by Chrys Fey

Dear whoever may find this,

I am writing in case I don’t survive. Whether I die by Hurricane Sabrina’s windy hands or by Donovan Goldwyn’s strong hands is the question, but I am not taking any chances. You see, I saved Donovan’s life, putting myself at risk, and I didn’t exactly walk away from that unscathed, but I still have my life. For now.

I was fooled by Donovan’s violet eyes, but a murderer’s eyes can be any color. There is no proof that he’s a killer, there is no proof that he’s not. And every fiber of my self-defense-instructor-being is telling me to run. RUN! But I can’t. Hurricane Sabrina is waiting for me outside, banging at the doors and windows like an intruder trying to get into my house. So I am trapped with a man who can kill me at any given moment.

And yet . . . those eyes. I look into them and I can feel them prying apart my carefully crafted walls. Donovan is handsome. He is alluring. He is intense. And we are stuck together.

Anyway, if you find this and I am dead then look at the two suspects: Hurricane Sabrina and Donovan Goldwyn.


Hurricane Crimes Blurb:

After her car breaks down, Beth Kennedy is forced to stay in Florida, the target of Hurricane Sabrina. She stocks up supplies, boards up windows, and hunkers down to wait out the storm, but her plan unravels when she witnesses a car accident. Risking her life, she braves the winds to save the driver. Just when she believes they are safe, she finds out the man she saved could possibly be more dangerous than the severe weather.

Donovan Goldwyn only wanted to hide from the police, but the hurricane shoved his car into a tree. Now he's trapped with a beautiful woman while the evidence that can prove his innocence to a brutal crime is out there for anyone to find.

As Hurricane Sabrina wreaks havoc, Beth has no other choice but to trust Donovan to stay alive. But will she survive, or will she become another hurricane crime?

Chrys Fey
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Why I Write by Kevin V Symmons

People who know I came from a successful business career often ask me this question.  The easiest way to begin is to answer in the reverse. I do not write to gain fame and riches though I would love to have a New York Times number one best-seller and the royalties and adulation it would bring. I do not write so that I can hobnob with the cool kids or the inside sanctum of the literati. I do not write so I can talk on national TV with Matt Lauer or Oprah... Don't misunderstand me all those things would be great fun and I have no lack of ego so they would admittedly be gratifying. I have had the good fortune to be successful in my pre-writing life so putting words to paper does not feed the kids or pay the mortgage. I don't write to earn a living.

So then—you're asking by now why do you spend thousands of hours brooding over a novel crafting it till you're satisfied it's a piece worthy of sending to your readers?

The answer is patently simple... I love telling stories and (hopefully) the enjoyment they bring. I always have. I am a baby-boomer and grew up on folklore of WWII so I wrote my first short story about PT boats when I was twelve. I was enough of a nerd and a mediocre athlete so I toiled over the school paper while others wore the highly coveted school letter on their jackets.

I had the great good fortune to have emotive, enthusiastic English teachers in high school and at the undergraduate collegiate level who pushed and prodded me to the limit, bless them. Life, the military, and my growing family precluded any idea of seriously pursuing writing as anything other than a pastime or part of my job, but I always joked that someday I would write a great American novel knowing it had been done more than once. 

I had the good fortune to leave my business early and low and behold though it took many false starts, rejections, and the bolstering loyalty of supportive family, friends, and fellow authors, after several years my long dormant dream became a reality when I got what's referred to in publishing as "the call!"

And though I write slowly, I've averaged about a novel a year over the last five. Three have been published, two have been Amazon best-sellers and my debut novel was a finalist in a prestigious awards competition.

So why do I continue? Well... though I haven't had that date on the Today show yet I have achieved some recognition, made so many wonderful writing friends I've lost track, helped to run a respected writing organization, and even taught creative writing at the junior college level.

And though I am not Mary Higgins Clark or John Grisham I have had my share of rewarding "fan" encounters. I could go on, but I hope you get my point. I began this journey because I loved telling my stories and somewhere along the line it seemed that those who read my work liked them, too.

Part of it is ego. Everyone who crafts a story and asks another to read it feels he/she has something worthy of telling. But much of it is simply the enjoyment of discovering that some readers out there have enjoyed our work enough that it gave them pleasure and perhaps a respite from this fast-paced, chaotic, often frustrating world.

Matt and Oprah... eat your hearts out. NY Times book editors I have not thrown in the towel but for now, I'm happy doing what I do. Perhaps we'll have a date sometime in the future...

Enjoy this spectacular summer!

Kevin V. Symmons
Author of Solo

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Inspiration for Hurricane Crimes by Chrys Fey

In 2004, Hurricane Frances, with her brothers Charley and Ivan, attacked Florida one right after the other. These storms, especially Frances inspired my story, HURRICANE CRIMES. In this post, I recall my experiences with a Category 4 hurricane.


As Hurricane Frances inched her way to the Florida coast, a vast net of gray clouds overtook the sky. Standing on my driveway, with my hair and skirt blowing in the wind and my head tipped back, I could see the circular motion of the clouds. The wind picked up and I watched a neighbor’s forgotten trashcan go rolling down the road.

For the rest of the day, I watched Dinotopia and played dominos while I waited for the hurricane to hit. The TV would go in and out, and I remember cheering when it fought back to life. That night, the winds became so intense that the transformer in my backyard started sparking. Glowing embers rained down into the darkness below. I eyed the transformer like a ticking time bomb. Not long later, it popped with a blast of yellowish-blue light and a sheet of darkness draped over my house.

While I was sleeping, rain dropped in heavy ribbons onto the roof. Wind slammed into the boards covering the windows next to my bed, prying me out of my sleep several times, and I was always relieved to see the walls were still standing around me.

When I woke in the morning, Hurricane Frances was gone. In the light of day, which was obscured by layers of clouds, I found my neighbor’s fence flat on the ground, the roof over my porch torn, and my garage door crumpled.
I spent a week with my family without power. The temperature was high, but Hurricane Frances left behind a nice breeze. To battle the heat, I dragged my mattress to the middle of the living room and slept with all the doors and windows open to create cross-ventilation.

Days after the storm passed, my sisters and I ventured into the city where we heard FEMA was handing out supplies. Driving down deserted roads was surreal. We didn’t pass a single car on our way into the city. All the lights were down and uniformed soldiers stood at busy intersections to navigate the few cars toward the relief stations. We received MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) for my whole family to last a few days.

After several days, the wait for our power to be restored became unbearable. Finally, Florida Power and Light workers came to our aid almost a week after the power went out. The sun had retreated down the sky by the time the lights winked on again.

And that was the end of Hurricane Frances’ reign. She caused 49 deaths, 12 billion dollars worth of damage, and wide-spread flooding throughout Florida and North Carolina. But she also inspired a writer.

Chrys Fey

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