It is my pleasure to have Marya Repko, local historian and journalist with us today on Author Interview Friday. Marya writes for the Everglades City newspaper, “The Mullet Rapper” (www.evergladesmulletrapper) as well as is working on her own books. If you are unfamiliar with the Florida Everglades, Marya is the “go-to” person with the answers.
Joanne: When did you first you know wanted to be a writer and how did it all begin for you?
Marya: I have always written. Living in rural Connecticut, we wrote letters to family with news long before email was around. Daddy wrote poetry which he then threw into fireplace; Mother wrote reports for local charities. My brother, Mathew Goldman, also writes (www.constantwaterman.com), Since July, 2005 his memoirs entitled, “From the Journals of Constant Waterman” have appeared as a semi-monthly column in “Messing About in Boats.” His work has also appeared in “Good Old Boat” and “Windcheck.” His collections of articles have been published in his books, “The Journals of Constant Waterman” and “Moon Wind at Large.” Our parents would criticize, make sentences shorter, and correct our spelling. A history teacher in college stressed “cause & effect” for my reports which helped me to present ideas logically.
Joanne: Tell us a little about your writing.
Marya: Most of my books have been technical and self-published but did I contribute as a journalist to computer magazines. I always write non-fiction but some computer technical (and editorial) and lately local history.
Joanne: Can you tell our readers about your experience with publication?
Marya: I have always self-published, except for paid journalism. My local history area, Everglades City, FL, is so small that a traditional publisher wouldn’t know how to handle it. I enjoy the marketing and distribution in SouthWest Florida. I would recommend self-publishing to other authors if their subject is of limited interest. You need to start with good typographer to make the book look professional, then promote yourself on a website with PayPal, be ready to give talks & signings, run around distributing copies, keep track of finance.
Joanne: Since your writing is so specific, how do you stay in the “voice” you want to present?
Marya: It’s so important to have an audience in mind! I aim my writing at a friend who might be interested in local history. After so many years of writing letters and, now, emails, I try to target my readers as if I were almost talking to them. However, with local history, I also include footnotes so they can confirm what I’ve written. When I did the kids’ versions of my history books, I had to aim them at 4th-grade age group.
Joanne: Can you tell us about your writing process?
Marya: Certainly, for local history, I make a time line in a data base and then follow that as I write. The hardest part is motivation, but it helps to have a deadline. Our tourist season is so short that I want finished copies in November so my summers are tied to research on the computer and then writing. Once I have the time line, the words usually come easily (unless I ask myself why?/when? and need to do more research). Then, I have to tidy up grammar/spelling and do the formatting to send naked copy to proof-readers. I have some wonderful friends here that read for me. Then I make corrections, insert photos, finally give camera-ready PDF to the printer with a new ISBN. The formatting is fun; I enjoy playing with typography and design. I use Whitehall Printing on Corporate Square in Naples, Florida, for printing and find they are very helpful.
Joanne: How do you market your material that is not in the paper?
Marya: I have my own website http://ww.ecity-publishing.com where I can take orders through PayPal. My books are so local that I visit outlets and sell for cash or payment within 30 days. I do not do consignment. Of course, I try to have reviews in local papers which I prompt with press releases, give complimentary copies to reviewers. I also have links to organizations who invite me to give illustrated lectures with lots of historical photos.
Joanne: What advice would give to someone that wants to write?
Marya: My advice? … don’t stare at the blank page. Sit when you’re relaxed on a porch or by the pool with notepad and pen, start writing! I always scribble on paper before I translate into words on the computer.
Joanne: Are you working on anything at the moment?
Marya: Yes, I am working on an “historical memoir” of the place where I grew up. It’s part Local History and part Oral History, probably still Local History on the shelf. Here is the Preface for my new book, Memories from Hadlyme. I’m expect the publication date to be around August 15, 2013.
One of my early memories is of my father lettering “established 1742” on a sign for the Hadlyme Congregational Church. Even as a child, I knew 1742 was a long time ago – 200 years before I was born!
That glimpse of history made me curious and I’ve been digging around ever since to find out how or why or when local events happened, like an archeologist uncovering the past, following clues, and discovering little-known facts that link together to shape our past.
My wandering life since 1960 has taken me from Hadlyme to England, Holland, Ireland, and finally to Florida where I recently have had time during retirement to publish several brief local history books. I enjoy the research, writing, typographic design, and sharing my knowledge.
I realized when my nephew Ezra Goldman asked me about an old post card of Moodus Main Street that I should write about my own home area, for him and for younger people in East Haddam. The Hale-Ray School Reunion in 2013 was the impetus to put words on paper.
P O Box 5033
Everglades City, FL, 34139