Posted in authors, characters, conflict, fiction, Florida, friend, mystery, novels, readers, writers

Prayers to my dear friend and writer, Marty Fallon.

Marty Fallon

Today was the scheduled day to post my dear friend, Marty Fallon’s blog, but I didn’t know I was going to have to ask for everyone’s prayers for him. The day before yesterday Ia received a quick email that he was going to miss out monthly writer’s meeting because he was in a rehab center – because he had a stroke.  OMG. He said he was typing his email with one finger. So, everyone, please say a special prayer for a complete recovery for this wonderful writer friend of mine.

So, I am going to plug along as if he was sitting right in front of me.

Marty, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?

English teachers supported my writing, first in high school and later in college.  I was not an English major, but in those classes I did take, those professors acknowledged some of my offerings.  Later as a school social worker, I had to write social histories on all students being considered for special education.  Any flourishes above and beyond the generic psychological reports, brought some spice to an otherwise dull process. Their laughter, energized me.  The epiphany, came from retirement guilt.  I started a job at a local resort hotel, and, after three weeks, decided that those folks worked harder than I felt ready to sustain, so I quit.  That experience became the inspiration for my first published book, The Concierge.  But my first novella, still languishing on the hard drive, I wrote in a week.  That was a rush, writing on yellow legal pads, reading the daily results to my wife, not stopping to get dressed.

Concierge

I’m sure Gretchen is glad you finally got dressed.  What other work have you done, and how has it impacted your writing?

I grew up and a farm, so I know mindless repetitive work.  The pyscho-social jobs, in child neglect and abuse plus the school interventions gave me an appreciation of how dysfunctional behavior starts and the consequences of repeated social-emotional failures.  In Florida, I found work as a home-health aide, and used my helping skills to establish relationships with older adults with diminished intellectual abilities.

How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

It took twelve years, and that might just as well have been forever, except Create Space came along to offer the digital publishing option many authors are now using to sidestep the traditional publishing barriers.

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time, or different POV’s?

My crime/relationship books are primarily in chronological order, because the danger inherent in repeated crimes requires resolution.  And the relationships between the cops and the victims are also moving quickly.  There may be one or two flashbacks to deepen our understanding of motive, but, by and large, my people are in a hurry to catch the bad guys and also pushing hard to make the personal contacts they think they need to improve their love lives.

Marty, tell us about one of your books in 3 sentences.

The book coming out in January, started with car ad, a girl in a bikini on the hood of a pickup, trying to sell her old vehicle.  That level of desperation became the inspiration for Trouble On The Hood.

Who are some of the authors whose work you admire the most?

Carl Hiaasen, Randy Wayne White, John Sanford and Michael Perry.  Hiaasen and White are ex-journalists from Florida and their subsequent knowledge of the state is superb.  Sanford also has a journalism background, and he provides remarkable detail from Minnesota.  Perry writes non-fiction, but he hasn’t strayed far from his rural roots.  All these authors spin wonderful stories with drama and memorable characters.  I want to have my writing rise to the quality their books demonstrate, so they will remain esteemed models.

What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?

 The Daughters

 

The Daughters, describes the odyssey of three women, a kidnapped girl from Colombia, an assaulted high-school student from a Lee County high school, and an impoverished eighth grader coerced into joining a local gang.  As the lives of the victims come closer to overlapping, our local law-enforcement team, two of whom are getting married, attempt to gather the clues required to intervene before tragedy envelopes the little community of Bonita Springs.

Marty, our thoughts and prayers are miss you. We missed you at Marco Writers this week. For our readers, you can buy Marty’s books on Amazon at

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Martin%20Fallon&search-alias=books&sort=relevancerank

Advertisements
Posted in authors, books, characters, Florida, writers

Streets by W.C. Highfield

W.C. Highfield photo

Welcome, W.C. Highfield to Author Interview Friday.  Highfield is a graduate of the University of Delaware and also a native of The First State. After a decade of employment in the moving and storage industry, he embarked on a twenty-year run of ownership of a residential and commercial painting business. In 2006, he moved to Fort Myers.

Since 2007, he has written numerous articles for the Island Sand Paper, a weekly on Fort Myers Beach. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of   Stay Alive….Just Drive, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. He is a member of Gulf Coast Writers Association.

Sports have always been a big part of his life. Baseball was tops from an early age, and culminated with playing ten years in the Delaware Semi-Pro League. Later, he picked up the running bug and participated in hundreds of road races ranging from 5Ks to half-marathons.  He continues to take part in various forms of physical activity, and endeavors to enjoy outdoor life.

W.C., do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

In the 1990s I had a desire to write children’s stories. I successfully completed a Special Publishing course from the Institute of Children’s Literature. Shortly thereafter, I decided I would rather write for adult audiences. In early 2000, I self-published my first novel, In Sun Down Far. The novel is set in a fictitious Southwest Florida beach town that I modeled after Fort Myers Beach. The story is a slice of life about a group of friends and their interactions. Emotions escalate as the story goes on.

in-sun-down-far- highfield

Do you always write in the same POV or do you switch it up in different stories?

I prefer to write exclusively in first person. It allows me to sink myself inside the skin of the narrator and, essentially, act out his character. In this way, the narrator can express his thoughts and feelings personally to the reader. The reader doesn’t know what the other characters are thinking, only what they say and do. I like the way it creates a one-on-one relationship with the reader.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

I think it is important to capture random thoughts on paper, even if they are unrelated bits and pieces. The organization of these diverse ideas can come later. Plus, what seems to work for me is to just start writing from these notes, whether it turns out good or bad. I find it is much easier to come back later to pick and chose what you like from your writing—and what you don’t. When something is in black and white, and not just in your head, it is less demanding to edit it than to write it in the first place. I find that editing is at least fifty percent of writing.

streets- book  Highfield

What is the premise of your novel, Streets, we are promoting today?

My most recent novel, Streets, is set in Key West. The main character is thirty, and has lived on the streets of Key West for many years. His life is transformed by a series of unusual, out-of-the-ordinary experiences. We are not talking about typical Key West experiences here. These odd occurrences slowly start to have a positive impact on his life. I wanted to deal with the issue of homelessness, but I didn’t want the book to be negative or depressing. So I took a quirky approach to a serious subject and made the story go in a more uplifting direction.

Can you share a small sample from your book to whet our appetite?

One creative way to cool off when it’s really hot is to walk up and down Duval Street and slow down in front of the entrances to the stores. Most of them have the doors open, which allows the air conditioning from inside to pour out onto the sidewalk. When your appearance is one of a street person, you can’t loiter for too awful long, though. You’ll quickly get chased by store management. Our types can easily have the tendency to discourage the purchasing public from shopping at a place that looks like a deadbeat hangout. That would be especially true at one of the swanky-ass art galleries. They really crank the air conditioning, which is nice. But the clientele the galleries are catering to needn’t have to rub elbows with a street dweller. Management at those joints keeps us moving on down the sidewalk.

Do you have another manuscript in progress?

Yes, Joanne, I am in the process of putting the finishing touches on my third novel. It is scheduled to be out in November. The book is entitled, Sanibel’s Secret Bank. The bank is evil and ruthless. And it is very powerful in the international banking industry. This is not your typical neighborhood bank. The residents of Sanibel are not aware the bank even exists because it is camouflaged in the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. There is a nepotism requirement for employment. In this way, the secret is kept protected more easily. But several of the younger employees are outraged by the cruel and brutal actions of the bank, to the point where they are driven to bring it down.

W.C Highfield’s website is  http://www.wchighfield.com/

His author page on Amazon is  http://www.amazon.com/W.C.-Highfield/e/B00424KLKO

Posted in authors, books, characters, Florida, history, Indie, readers, writers, writing

T.M. Jacobs presents SW Florida History

T.M. Jacobs
T.M. Jacobs
Welcome, T.M. Jacobs to Author Interview Friday. Tim is on the Corporate Board of Directors for the Gulf Coast Writer’s Association and Owner/President of Jacobs Writing Consultants in Fort Myers, Florida.  He is also Advisor to the Board of Directors for Southwest FL Historical Society. It is my honor to have him with us today.
Tim, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
For me it was the sound of the typewriter. My mother used to do some typing at home for work, and I fell in love with the “click-clack” of each letter as she typed. I was probably around 5 or 6 years old at the time.
Do you always write in the same genre?
No, I don’t. I write a little bit of fiction, I have written poetry, but I love to write non fiction, especially local history. I believe that writing in different genres helps the creative part of mind to always be going, always searching for ideas, twists, plots, etc.
For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?
It would be in the local Florida section, as it covers Harvie Heitmanof Fort Myers, as well as other events and histories of that area.
Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?
I wanted to have more control in the overall process of the my book. I also wanted to learn as much about the industry that I could. Prior to publishing my first book in 1996, I took a job at a publishing company was able to learn all the ins and outs of the business before venturing out on my own.
What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
I’ve seldom used an outline for my writing. I think both the synopsis and query are a challenge. It’s hard to focus your novel or book down to a mere page or two, but that’s how you make the sale to an agent or publisher. As far as the building the story, I’ve always felt that the stories build themselves. In fiction it’s the character that tell the story, you just write it down. With non fiction, let the facts tell the story.
It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?
You need to constantly put yourself out there, or your book out there. Constantly repost to Facebook, send out emails, mention your book to organizations that you belong to you, write articles for newspapers and magazines and put in your byline your book title and where it’s available. Think outside the box. Set up tables at craft fairs and other events. Do book signings and lectures, lunches, etc.  
What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Don’t give up. Keep writing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, join a writing group or form one of your own – they’re so valuable. It’s where you find support because everyone there knows what it’s like to be a writer. They understand the struggles you will encounter and will be your loudest cheerleaders when you reach a success.
What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?
Tim Jacobs book cover
“H. E. Hiemtan, An Early Entrepreneur of Fort Myers, Florida” is the biography of Harvie Heitman, the man who practically built First Street in downtown Fort Myers. It’s also the history of the businesses that flourished downtown from the 1880s to the 1920s.
Where is your book available?
It’s available at Savvy on First in downtown Fort Myers,  Bombay Liquor/Book Den on Marco Island, the Southwest Florida Historical Society, the Southwest Florida Museum of History, or by emailing me attjacobs@jacobswc.com.
How did your consultant business come about?
With the advent of Kindle, Nook and e-readers, it has become easy for anyone to upload their novel or book, and become a “published author.” I was amazed when I began to download books and read them, only to find there was little to no editing done. It’s like the author thought he or she wrote it without error and quickly posted it for the public to buy and read. In some cases the story was fantastic, but difficult to read as you had to think or (in your mind) put in a comma, figure out where the missing quotation mark goes, or who’s speaking in a dialogue. So, I got together with a few editors, and put together Jacobs Writing Consultants to assist writers. Our tagline is “We ignite your writing – one page at a time.”
How can a writer contact Jacobs Writing Consultants?
The best way is through our website – http://www.jacobswc.com./ One thing we tell potential clients: “We’re so confident you will love our work, we’ll do the first four pages free and you’ll decide to say, ‘yes. . .finish it!'” Send us four double-spaced pages of your current project, and we’ll edit them and show you what we can do to enhance your writing.
What’s the most challenging aspect of being a consultant?
It’s difficult at times to get clients to see and understand that their writing or their story needs work. They believe because a co-worker or their best friend read their manuscript and loved it, that it’s good. True, the story may be good, but the nuts and bolts of it need to be tightened and adjusted. Sometimes the writer is too attached to their work, and it’s hard to get them to step back, let go and to take an alternate view of their book or main character.
Thank you Tim, for being on Author Interview Friday at Writing Under fire today. You can find out more about Tim, his writing and his consulting firm on his website:  www.jacobswc.com.
Posted in authors, characters, conflict, faces, fiction, Florida, ghosts, mystery, novels, thriller, writers, writing

Bitter Secrets by Patty Brant

Patti Brant

Today we have my friend with us on Author Interview Friday. I first met Patty last year at a book event in Mt. Dora and had the privilege of spending some time getting to know her.  Welcome Patty.  Why don’t you tell the readers how you got started in writing.

I always enjoyed writing but I never did anything about it until I went to work for the Caloosa Belle, local newspaper in LaBelle. That was in 1985 – so I’ve done a lot or writing since then, all with a journalistic approach. There were times when I thought “Wouldn’t it be great to write a book?” That was followed immediately by “You’ve got to know something to write a book!” So that was always the end of it.

A lot of people could relate to that. The hard part is pushing past that.

It wasn’t till about ten years ago that I seriously thought I could do it. That’s when an idea hit me for a story. I was just driving home, nothing on my mind in particular. Then it was like someone opened up my head and dropped the words “I see faces” into my head. I thought, “You could write a story around those three works. Heck, you could write a whole book around just those three words.

So for the next couple weeks I was thinking about who these faces might be; what their circumstances were; Where in time they were as well as place. It became a mental exercise. When I wasn’t thinking about something else, I was building my little framework for these faces. I actually had the first several paragraphs in my head when I thought I should probably get them down in writing, and it all just grew from there.

They say there is a story inside all of us. Did you have any friends or mentors to help you?

I happened to know a very wonderful published writer named Barbara Oehlbeck who had written a book on roses, one on the sabal palm tree and many poems. A couple of years ago she wrote a wonderful memoir called Mama; Root, Hog, or Die. Barbara had always been very complimentary of my writing and even asked me once if I ever thought of writing a book!

I showed her what I had and she was very supportive. Every so often I’d show her what more I’d done and she would encourage me to keep going.

Finally, I had it done – but I finally finished my first book, Bitter Secrets, a mystery about a missing family with an otherworldly twist.  It took me at least three years – probably more.  I write off and on when I have the time. I can write all day, all night and all day again, but I have to be alone and have quiet. That just doesn’t happen.

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

Just with the newspaper – 29 years now. I have an AA degree in liberal arts and did well in writing classes there. Funny, though, I went to Catholic schools for 12 years – starting elementary school in 1955. I can still remember things the nuns said about writing.

What else can you tell us about yourself?

I’m from Canton, Ohio. Lived in Virginia Beach for two years (my husband was in the Navy at the time), moved to Florida (my husband’s home) in 1969. My husband was in law enforcement for 40 years. He’s retired now and keeps wondering when I’m going to retire.

We have two grown daughters, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren.

Do you always write in the same genre?

Not sure how to answer that, but I think so – so far anyway. I’m putting the finishing touches on my second book now – Full Circle – which is a sequel to Bitter Secrets. It’s a little different, though. The mystery of what happened to the Parker Family has been solved, of course, and Full Circle picks up the lives of my protagonist and several other characters from that point. There is another mystery to solve and other threads in this new story as well.

Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?

Both my books are in first person. I chose that originally because everything I write for the paper is in third person, so I figured it might be a nice change.

I had several publishers try to steer me away from first person. I’ve never understood quite why.

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s?

My stories alternate in time. The original mystery in Bitter Secrets actually occurs in the 1940s. It isn’t solved until the 1980s, so I kind of straddle those four decades in that story.

There are several story lines in Full Circle, so I do more alternating of the story line in that one. That can be a little tricky because you still need the action to flow.

I also don’t want to get stuck into formula writing, I know that’s what a lot of publishers want, and it might sell, but that’s not my idea of what I want to do.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

I guess it would have to be Mystery. Like most things in my life, I find it hard to categorize.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

I checked companies out online and sent many, inquiries to traditional publishers. I got a few nice letters, but no takers. Talked to people who said yes, you need an agent; others who say no you don’t After going on this way for several years, I finally took the plunge and decided on iUniverse.

They have been very professional and very helpful. I know you have to be careful about “add on” services that you may not really need from any self publisher. I have used several of these services for my second book Full Circle, They were quite expensive but I also think I have learned a lot from them and I think the developmental editing service has made my book much better than it otherwise would have been.

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

Well, I didn’t do an outline – maybe I should have but I really didn’t know where Bitter Secrets was going. I just kept coming up with scenarios and wrote some more. I was probably about half way through when I knew my ending, so then I could head for the light at the end of the tunnel.

I really hate trying to do a synopsis or query.

I have to laugh at that. “the dreaded synopsis and query.” Every writer’s worst nightmare. What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?

First of all, know your English – grammar and spelling do count to professional writers and to serious readers. The best story in the world can be ruined by lack of attention to basic English rules. It doesn’t have to make your work stuffy.

Beyond that, I think you need a good story to tell. I think my problem for a long time was that I just didn’t have a story I wanted to tell. When I found one, I went with it!

Tell us a little more about your current work in progress.

As I said, it’s a sequel to Bitter Secrets called Full Circle and it takes up my protagonist’s life where Bitter Secrets ends. Actually, in some ways it’s an extension of Bitter Secrets. At the end of Bitter Secrets Molly (my protagonist) was given a job to do by her friend and other main character in Bitter Secrets so she must find a way to carry it out in Full Circle. Full Circle also incorporates a little romance and a good old fashioned cop story.

I’m doing the final rewrite of Full Circle now (wish I had a nickel for every time I said that!). In a week or two I should be sending it back to the publisher and the race will be on.

We must have you back on Author Interview Friday when that book comes out. I loved Bitter Secrets and look forward to the sequel. Can you tell the readers  the premise of  Bitter Secrets,  the  novel we are promoting today?

Bitter Secrets

Molly Martindale came to Oxbow, Florida, (a fictional town in Southwest Florida’s inland area) as a scared and lonely 13-year-old orphan to live with an aunt she barely knew. Sixteen years later she is a reporter for her hometown newspaper when she becomes interested in a family that “moved away” 40 years earlier. She’s never heard of this family before – in a small Southern town that prides itself on its roots, that’s hard for her to understand – and even more perplexing is that no one will talk about them much. She’s also the focus of visits by bone-chilling “faces” that seem to be begging her for  . . . something. So Molly’s reporter instincts are roused and she starts poking around in old matters some folks would rather be left covered with dust.

In her quest for the truth, she gets help from the town drunk, a wheelchair-bound Viet Nam veteran, a savvy old black man and, of course, her faces.

A little bird told me you won an award for Bitter Secrets. Congratulations. Tell us about that.

Yes, quite an exciting surprise. Bitter Secrets was a finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards. 

Please share a few paragraphs from Bitter Secrets.

 

Excerpt from Bitter Secrets by Patty Brant

I see faces.

I can’t quite remember when I first started seeing them. They were so faint, so unobtrusive, like mist gliding above the sand. More like a sigh, really, flitting just at the periphery of vision, or tangled among leaves like low-lying clouds. At some point, they began to register in my consciousness like little feathers gliding across the bottoms of my feet. Almost imperceptible, but not quite.

I had been in this small town since high school, coming as a brokenhearted thirteen-year-old orphan to live with a widowed great aunt I barely knew. Now a reporter with the Oxbow Independent, our local mullet wrapper, I, Molly Martindale, had settled quite comfortably into my life. This town had become my own.

I remember quite clearly the day I could no longer ignore these faces. I had just spent the better part of my day wrestling with an absentee boss—you know, the kind who rarely shows her face and still manages to give you grief. As I finally hung up the phone for the last time and switched off the light, it was just about dusk. When I pulled the key from the front door lock and turned to the darkening street, it must have been bedtime for the birds. They were swishing through the air, calling to each other, making quite a ruckus. At first I hoped the waning light was playing tricks on my strained eyes.

But no, I was certain. There really was something up in the branches of that old orchid tree. All my instincts said there was.

 

Thank you so much for this opportunity to connect with other writers and readers. It’s always encouraging when someone shows an interest in your passion.

My Blog: http://bittersecrets.authorsxpress.com

 My Web site: http://pattybrant.com/

Online sales: http://www.amazon.com/Bitter-Secrets-Patty-Brant/dp/1462071562/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398340649&sr=1-1&keywords=bitter+secrets

Posted in books, education, family, Florida, history, Indie, non-fiction, remember, writers

Local SW Historian brings Florida history to life

I am so pleased to have  Elizabeth “Betsy” Perdichizzi with us today on Author Interview Friday. I first read her book, A Girl Called Tommie when I moved here in 2008. Betsy made Tommie jump off the page and come alive for me. I could see her forging creeks and plodding through swamp land to bring civilization to Marco Island.  Like Betsy, when I moved here, I was craving the history of the island.  It was the best book  I had ever read on the local history of the area.  It is such a joy to say that Betsy and I are now friends and share the joy of writing together.

Betsy Perdichizzi

Betsy, please tell the readers when you first knew that you wanted to be a writer and if there was a particular inspiration to get started?

Our move to Marco Island in 1989 sparked my interest in learning about my new Florida home.  There were no books in the bookstore, only one or two in the library to read about the history of the island.  Most newcomers like myself came just for fishing, boating and leisure.  Doug Waitley, author of the Last Paradise, spoke at a luncheon that I attended. He said that he too had come to the island wanting to read about the history, then decided he had to write it.  He wrote about the Deltona development which we call modern Marco. In my mind, his words helped spark establishment of the Marco Island Historical Society in 1994 the need to capture oral histories of pioneers and their descendents.  I sensed time was running out. Those Old Timers and their descendents were dying off or drifting away. I met Kappy Kirk, Tommie Barfield’s 80 year old niece and legal ward, who introduced me to her friends.  That was a real break through, I wanted to  interview them all and write their stories.  So I became an actress telling the story of Tommie Barfield and her friends, then I became an author, writing about these people and how three communities developed.   I eventually found myself chairing the Capital Campaign to raise $4.5 million dollars to build the Marco Island Historical Museum to tell the story of the Calusa, the Pioneers and the 1960 Deltona history that led to modern Marco Island.

Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?

I learned the rudimentaries of writing for newspapers in a high school journalism class, but my real training was on the job experience writing as a freelance columnist, writing for the historical society newspaper then spent ten years writing a  newspaper history column “Days Gone By’ in the Suntimes, for which I won the Golden Quill Award.

How long did it take you to publish your first manuscript?

I would say two years. My book was a one-woman play before it was a book. In 1998, I collected information about Tommie Barfield with the Kappy’s help and we formed a company to publish the book “A Girl Called Tommie, Queen of Marco Island” in 1999.

Do you always write in the same genre?

You’ve heard the old saying “truth is stranger than fiction” is true.  I am fascinated by the stories of pioneers and try to make them come alive for people, using their own words where possible. The SW Florida region is captivating, with new information about the past turning up everywhere, all the time. I can’t make it up any better than this, it is more interesting to me fiction.

Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?

Florida non-fiction.  For the past six years I have been on a journey with the Olds family, discovering what it was like down here one hundred years ago.  When I was writing “A Girl Called Tommie, Queen of Marco Island” Kappy took me to Miami Beach to meet Tommies’ little sister Hazel.  Walking into Aunt Hazel’s house with pictures of her mother, sisters, the boarding house, made it all come alive for me, I hope I passed it on..

One of my readers, Dr. Robin Brown, a noted author in Fort Myers, wrote, “I just finished reading A Girl Named Tommie. What a very fine piece of work! I am helping write a summary of material pertinent to the presentation of Marco’s history for your new museum and I learned more about Marco during the century from 1850 to 1950 from your book, than from any other source. It needed to be written. And writing readable non-fiction is not easy. Your combination of dry historical fact with poignant human detail is well crafted

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?  What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?

Desk-top publishing or Indi-publishing as it is now called, blossomed with advent of the computer offering writers an economical way to publish their work  and become authors of published books.  I loved the writing part of it. Marketing the book and making it profitable thus rests directly on the author and if I do a little bit each day, even that part is getting interesting.

What does finding your “Voice” mean to you and how did you find yours?

Documenting the history of real people and telling their life-stories is of great interest to me. In the non-fiction books my Voice is just the narrator giving some necessary background information.  In the early book I was a character in order to tell the story. 

Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s? (point of view)

I read contemporary and classic authors and find myself studying how other authors express themselves, handle delicate subject matter, or admire a well-turned a phrase.  Writing for a newspaper helped me write clearly and cleanly, eliminating unnecessary words or flights of phrases. I like beginning at the beginning, but am not adverse to back flashes that explain a point in the story. 

What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?

In writing about real people it is sometimes easier to find the beginning and the middle than it is to find the end or conclude the story.  In the “Tommie” book I I searched for a good ending, with what I thought was her vision of the future.  Readers always want to know what happened to your main character and I handled that  in a postscript, just as in a performance, you conclude the presentation in first person, getting out of character in the end to answer questions from the audience. 

Into the Wilderness offered my biggest challenge because I felt that Mary commanded the heart of the story with her very personal and revealing letters.  Mary’s daughter Saloma picked up the legacy with a beautiful letter that made it come full circle.

What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?

One of the lecturers the 2013 Florida Heritage Book Festival remarked that if you do a little marketing everyday, it isn’t so overwhelming.

I found that I had made a good start, was doing some things right, 1. Establish my publishing business with Florida Sales Tax and ID tax number using an on line accounting program such as Quickbooks. 2. Establish website. 3. Contact Barnes & Noble or Amazon.  I acquired a Vendor of Record for companies who do not deal directly with authors or Indiepubs. 4. Actively working to market my books at least 30 minutes every day. 5. Enable myself to take cash, check and credit cards. I acquired a smart phone and Square reader for credit cards. Obtained credit card slips for back up when there is no WIFI or internet. 6. Obtain a banner, posters, and provide a table set up at book fairs that will attract people to my table.

I need to do more on social media, I don’t think it will ever end.

What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript? 

It you have the passion, don’t worry too much about details down the road…write it and it will come.

How does this book relate to the issues of today?

Some of the political issues touched upon one hundred years ago are still with us.  It is sometimes good to look over your shoulder and see how far we have come, and see what we can learn from the past. The pioneer had to be hardy, independent, self sufficient, and make do or do without.  You have to ask yourself, when disaster strikes are we prepared to meet and overcome the challenges as they did?

What is the premise of your novel, Into the Florida Wilderness,  we are promoting today?

Into the Florida Wilderness

Into the Florida Wilderness, Pioneer Life and medicine is based on fascinating first-hand accounts of life on the edge of civilization before Florida became a tourist and snowbird haven. The story is told in first person through the lively written diaries, photographs, and letters of three growing daughters of homeopathic doctors Mary and Louis Olds who lived on Marco Island from 1903 to 1920.  Dr. Mary and her family dropped out of Society and wrote about it, just as Al Seely, the hermit, would do 150 years later.  Mary followed her husband, the love of her life, with three little girls into the unknown backward civilization of primitive Florida. How do you survive in a place without roads, electricity, sewage, running water, hospitals, churches, or grocery stores. How do you preserve food without refrigeration? Wealthy and socially prominent northerners were attracted to their modest two-story home on the Marco River, becoming friends and sharing beach picnics and family suppers.  The girls took pictures with their camera and developed the film themselves…when they had ice! Names like Pinchot, Hornaday, Fielding, Dimock and Halderman float through the narratives like next-door neighbors.

 Dr. Mary’s challenge was to create a cultured home, and educate her daughters.

Betsy, I know the readers would love a little sample of your story.  Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet our appetite?

Mary writes to her Smith college classmates of 1884. (word count 831)

Marco Island, FL.

Oct. 25th, 1911

Dear Eight-Four: –

What a pleasure it is to hear from you once more! And what interesting letters you do write! It is a great delight to all our family to hear from you – and quite an education to our three country girls to touch so many phases of life through your rich and varied experiences.

Since I wrote you at Reunion in June 1910, the chief event in our history has been the great hurricane of Oct. 17, 1910 and its consequences.  During the whole summer following that June the country here seemed unusually prosperous: crops were most promising, both fruit and vegetables, for the fall and winter; and the tropical fruits of the summer were luxuriant in quantity and variety. We feasted on mangoes, guavas, sapodillas, sugar apples, avocados, etc. and then often felt little need of anything else except a little bread and butter.  Dr. Olds was greatly interested in propagating the finer varieties of mangoes, and had a beautiful nursery of young trees, and some fine specimens beginning to fruit, among them a fine Mulgoba, which proved to be as perfect and wondrous a fruit as it is claimed to be.  For the first time since we came to Florida, Dr. Olds began to feel that reasonably financial comfort was in sight. ‘But alas! Though we did not see winter as an enemy…“rough weather” did come- rougher than we had ever known.

We have often been on the edge of the great storms that have devastated Pensacola, Key West, Cuba, and other places within the sphere of influence of the Caribbean seas: but had always been fortunate in escaping with a gale tide, a high wind, and a day or two of hard rain but last year we were at the very center of the storm’s mischief. Five days it rained and blew-and when finally it seemed that the storm must be over, the very worst of it came on.  The rain did not fall down, it came horizontally, dashing at the house and forcing its way in at every horizontal crack.  Great sheets of salt water were swept up by the wind from the bay and dashed over the house. All day long we worked like Trojans, mopping up the water and trying to save our possessions from ruin. At dusk, the trees began to crash and break, and the rain poured in through the shattered roof in hopeless floods-.  Buckets did not avail to catch it- and it poured down through the second story floor to the ground floor where Dr. Olds bore holes for it to escape. It seemed every moment as if the whole roof must crash in, and we did not dare stay up stairs. Finding one dry corner we dumped the children there to try to sleep-but they could not, exhausted though they were by the day’s labors. Finally they arose, and tried to relieve the strain by playing Parcheesi! Dr. Olds and I were meanwhile going through some of the most anxious hours we had ever known. The tide the day before had gone lower than we had ever seen it before, almost baring the bottom of the bay, and Dr. Olds had known that this presaged an extraordinarily high tide on the return flood, and had felt all the time that we ought to escape to higher ground, than our own place afforded. But the wind was so terrific that none of our little boats could live in the angry waters as they rolled back.  Dr. Olds himself could not stand against the wind, and with trees crashing and timbers whirling through the air it seemed sure death to venture out of the house at all. By midnight our dock was swept away, the launch unroofed and sunk, the skiffs disappeared, palmetto trees torn up by the roots, the large sea grape tree in front of the house (the larger of the two trees in the photo) torn limb from limb until little more than a stump remained. No words can describe the force of those frightful gusts of wind as they beat against the poor little house – like a giant fish beating on a band box, like blows from a colossal club, each one harder than the last, getting worse, worse, incredibly worse, the house trembling and shaking, (flapping its wings: the children said), the kitchen roof rising and falling a foot or more with every gust, and each time it fell the stove pipe knocked against the stove with the weirdest sound!  Meanwhile the tide was rising a foot every five minutes, and we could see the water approaching the house.  The wind changed, and the chances were that storm and waves and wind would knock the house “all to smithereens,” as Dr. Olds said.

Go we must, but how?

Thanks Betsy. Readers, if you are interested in SW Florida history, you will love her books. Betsy’s website is www.CaxambasPublishing.com where you can see all of her books.

Posted in authors, books, children, favorite books, fiction, novels, readers, writers

Readers vrs. Writers

As we are gearing up for lots of Book Fairs and events as the snowbirds slowly make their way  back to the sunny shores of south Florida, it has occurred to me how different readers and writers are attracted to certain books.  Naturally, big names are always a draw. If you are Dan Brown, James Patterson or J. K. Rowling, trying to find the right enticement for a reader to even consider your book among the millions of new books that come out every year is not a problem.  Others of us are not so fortunate.

I hope that all of you have enjoyed my Author Interview Fridays.  There are literally hundreds of new authors with fabulous books coming out all the time.  Here is just one small place to help find those hidden gems.

Many of my followers to this blog are not writers. Many just love good books.  And God Bless you, every one. So what makes you pick up a certain, book, flip it over to the back cover and read the blurb and drop it into your shopping cart, either virtual or literal? Is it the cover?  The subject matter?  The closest thing to the coffee machine?

I have recently been working on a re-write to my debut novel.  And giving it a fresh look with a new cover.

 Here is the old cover.

Accident cover for Outskirts

And not the new.

Accident new cover 

and a new back cover.

Accident new back cover

What is the verdict? Better? Worse?  If so, why?  If you leave a comment, I will put your name in the hat for a drawing of the new edition.  Your comments are valued by me.

Posted in authors, characters, conflict, favorite books, small towns, writers

Local SW Florida Historian Marya Repko writes what she knows best

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.

Maryna Repko
Maryna Repko

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.

HH-071013-cover Repko

 

PREFACE

 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.

 

Marya Repko

ECITY PUBLISHING

P O Box 5033

Everglades City, FL, 34139

(239) 695-2905

 

Posted in real estate, writers

What is happening in the legislation regarding real estate?

Image

Keeping up with real estate trends means you also need to know what is happening in the legislation. The following was posted online by the Florida Realtor News  May 3, 2013

Highlights of the 2013 legislative session

BILLS THAT PASSED this week.

Affordable housing programs. Lawmakers allocated more than $200 million from the large national mortgage settlement last year to numerous housing programs:

  • The Senate’s settlement spending plan, SB 1852 , which provides $50 million for rental assistance (State Apartment Incentive Loans or SAIL)
  • $40 million to refurbish existing homes for low-income families and provide down payment assistance and lease-purchase assistance (the State Housing Initiative Program, or SHIP).
  • $20 million to Habitat for Humanity,
  • $16 million for additional retired judges to help relieve the foreclosure caseload
  • $10 million in legal aid services for low- and middle-income homeowners facing foreclosure. Florida Realtors appreciate the Legislature’s commitment to provide affordable housing for Florida’s low-income families and the elderly. Effective when mortgage settlement money is deposited in Florida’s general revenue fund.

Tax loophole closed. Working with several legislators, language was included in different bills to close a tax loophole used by for-profit affordable housing builders to exploit the law. They accomplish this by forming non-profit subsidiaries primarily to pay lower property taxes.

Lawmakers to squatters: Jig’s up. Homes left unoccupied due to foreclosure have brought out all kinds of opportunists, including those seeking free rent in swanky digs under the veil of adverse possession. HB 903 amends Florida’s long-standing adverse possession law to curb these abuses. Effective July 1, 2013, persons claiming adverse possession must:

•pay all outstanding taxes and liens levied by the state, county or municipality within one year of claiming adverse possession;

•provide the county property appraiser with their contact information, the date when the adverse possession claim began, a legal description of the property, and the dates when outstanding taxes and liens were paid. Filing this return with the property appraiser does not give an adverse possessor an enforceable interest in the property.

Squatters who don’t file a return may be charged with trespassing. If an adverse possessor leases the property to a third party, they can be charged with theft.

Foreclosure reform. With buyer demand increasing and inventory levels at record lows, Foreclosing on a mortgage is a long process in Florida — about 853 days, more than twice the national average. That should begin to change with the passage of HB 87. The bill allows lenders to ask the court to justify why a final order hasn’t been entered, and gives condominium and homeowners associations the right to request the court move the process along where appropriate. Consumer interests are addressed in several provisions including:

  • requiring lenders to prove they own the loan for a property before foreclosing on it;
  • reducing the time lenders can seek deficiency judgments from five years to one year and
  • providing protections for innocent parties who purchase a property without knowledge that a previous owner may have a claim to the property.

For the person whose home is erroneously foreclosed on, HB 87 provides for the recovery of damages (monetary, compensatory, punitive, statutory and consequential), injunctive relief and fees. Effective upon becoming law.

Image