I love getting back into the process!

I love getting back into the process of writing my historical novel, tentatively titled The Spanish Coin! Having a computer again and making time to get reacquainted with my 97,000-word manuscript has been fun and reassuring.

A few days ago I started with the first chapter and went to work tweaking words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. I have changed the layout of the house that Nancy Craighead Richardson lives in based on some things I saw in October in a house at Hart Square in Catawba County, North Carolina. That necessitates making consistent changes in the book as people move from room-to-room or can or cannot hear conversations taking place in another room. As I work my way through the manuscript for the umpteenth time, I still search for more precise words, more vivid descriptions, and tidbits to add in order to make my characters come alive.

The first hurdle I had to jump before plunging back into my manuscript was to once again come to grips with the fact that I am writing historical fiction. The historian in me was faced (once again) with a conundrum. When I write a history article or nonfiction book, I am a stickler for making sure every fact to checked and double-checked. Writing historical fiction based on a person who actually lived 250 years ago is a challenge for me. My fear is that someone will read The Spanish Coin and fall into the trap of thinking it is all based on fact.

In my manuscript I took a 1771 Carolina backcountry event and the lore that grew out of that event to weave a “what if?” story. In fact, I visited the Lancaster County SC Public Library in Lancaster on Friday just to make sure I had not overlooked something in my initial research for The Spanish Coin.

If I am fortunate enough to get my manuscript published, I must trust the readers to read it and appreciate for what it is — a work of fiction.

A Change in Course

As of yesterday afternoon, I’m making a change in course. I mentioned in my last blog post that I had submitted a nonfiction book proposal to a publisher. It was a long shot — which I knew going in. The editor notified me yesterday that my proposed project was not a good fit for the company. Again, I knew that going in but figured I had nothing to lose by trying.

If the publisher had wanted to pursue my book proposal, that is what I would have devoted my time to over the next months or year. I will continue to write, but I plan to turn my attention back to my historical novel manuscript. There are some sewing and quilting projects calling my name, too, so I look forward to writing and sewing as winter approaches.

I share the positives as well as the negatives that I experience in my journey as a writer. Perhaps someone else who is struggling to get published will read one of my posts and find encouragement. At the least, he or she will discover that they are not alone.

It is a thrill to see one’s name on the cover of a book as the author. I was the co-compiler of three genealogy books, and Arcadia Publishing published my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, in 2014. I hope to someday see my name on the spine of a novel published by a book publisher, but I know it won’t be easy.

One blog that I follow is Random Jottings by Richard L. Mabry, MD. He is a physician and a writer. I copied the following from one of his recent posts and have it taped to the bottom of my computer screen so I can read it every day: “Remember, it’s all a matter of timing — not yours, but God’s. And, as I’ve said before, if no one but you ever reads the words you’re putting on the page, you’ve at least reached one person. And maybe that’s the plan.” — Richard L. Mabry, MD.

Some things you just have to do for your own enjoyment and edification.

On the Same Page Literary Festival

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I attended the On the Same Page Literary Festival in West Jefferson, North Carolina last Friday. In my last post I blogged about getting to hear author Angela Davis-Gardner speak.

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When I visit a town to participate in an event to sell or publicize my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, I try to patronize the local businesses. I always look for a locally-owned and -operated restaurant. On Friday I enjoyed lunch at the historic Tavern Hotel Restaurant in West Jefferson. The former hotel is pictured above.

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Later that afternoon I participated in the festival’s book fair. A dozen authors and Natalie Foreman, Associate Editor with McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, took part in the fair. I got to speak briefly with Ms. Foreman about an idea I have for a nonfiction book. More on that later, if it materializes. I had copies of my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, available for  sale.

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I shared a table at the fair with author Maryrose Carroll. We had interesting conversation about writing, the benefits of being in a local writers group, self-publishing, and politics. Ms. Carroll was selling and signing her book, Beats Me: Love, Poetry, Censorship from Chicago to Appalachia. That’s Maryrose Carroll and me chatting at our table in the photo below.

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I sent a query letter to a publishing house today. I’ll keep you posted.

A review of my book!

Imagine my surprise when I quite by accident found an online review of my book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina! To see the review, visit the website of Smoky Mountain Living Magazine. Go to http://www.smliv.com. Click on “Departments,” and then click on “Book Reviews.” The page of book reviews titled, “Western Carolina In Our Minds” will pop up. Click on “more” and then scroll down to the second book review by Jeff Minick titled “For the History Buff.”

This is just the second review of my book of which I’m aware. I knew about the one on Amazon.com in advance, but the one at http://www.smliv.com was a pleasant surprise.

Feel free to write a review of my book on your local public library website, for your local newspaper, or for a magazine. I love free publicity!

McDowell County Historical Society

Last night I had the privilege of speaking at the May meeting of the McDowell County Historical Society in Marion, North Carolina. It was my first opportunity to talk about my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to a county historical society. The audience seemed very interested in my presentation, asked great questions, and their comments added much to the presentation. After the program, I invited everyone to look at my book and enjoy some of the actual postcards from the book.

People looking at my display of postcards
People looking at my display of postcards

Several people in attendance were postcard collectors. I enjoyed “comparing notes” with them. The Mayor of Marion, Steve Little, was there. He brought some of his postcards to show me. He had many that I had not seen before, so I enjoyed looking at his cards.

Last week I created my first PowerPoint presentation and used it for the first time last night. I think it was an improvement over my earlier programs. I took a free class about PowerPoint at the Harrisburg Branch of the Cabarrus County Public Library. With what I learned in that class of just an hour or so, I was able to put together a 40-minute program for last night.

Last page of Janet's PowerPoint presentation
Last page of Janet’s PowerPoint presentation

I don’t have any more speaking engagements scheduled. I will continue to contact public libraries and civic organizations to get some programs on my calendar for late summer and next fall.

Yet Another Rejection

Yet another rejection. This one is a real bummer. Arcadia Publishing is not interested in publishing my North Carolina Piedmont vintage postcard book.

Although my book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, is doing well, it seems that Arcadia is not set up to market a regional book. Arcadia’s niche is books with a tight local focus, and that is what the company does well.

It is disappointing, since I have enough vintage postcards to also do a coastal North Carolina book and a second Blue Ridge Mountains book. I’m looking at my options and other writing opportunities.

Submitted My Author Proposal to Arcadia

I have submitted my author proposal to Arcadia Publishing for a vintage postcard book covering the piedmont section of North Carolina. I sent the proposal to the acquisitions editor electronically a few minutes ago. It felt good to mark that as “DONE” on my to-do list. I have been doing the necessary research to write the postcard captions a little at a time, so I’m well on my way to having many of the captions written.

The book I have proposed to Arcadia Publishing should be a good companion book to my first vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I anticipate that it will cover 32 counties in central North Carolina. I proposed the following three chapters in the book: Metrolina, The Triad, and The Triangle.

I’ll post on my blog as soon as I know if Arcadia Publishing gives me the go-ahead to write The Piedmont of North Carolina.