Mark de Castrique at Book Club

Mark de Castrique was the guest speaker Monday night at the February meeting of Rocky River Readers Book Club at Rocky River Presbyterian Church. I heard him speak at the public library in Mint Hill, North Carolina two or three years ago and was delighted for the opportunity to hear him speak again.

The book club’s book this month was one of Mr. de Castrique’s earlier books, The Fitzgerald Ruse. F. Scott Fitzgerald spent time at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, so that is the novel’s connection with Mr. Fitzgerald. Mr. de Castrique has a talent for taking a tidbit of a true story and weaving a fictionalized story around it using the back drop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He is a native of Hendersonville, North Carolina, so he has a familiarity and understanding of the region and its wealth of stories.

Since I am a writer and an aspiring novelist, I was particularly interested in hearing Mr. de Castrique from a writer’s point of view. He offered a number of pointers for those of us who wish to improve our fiction writing skills. Some I have heard before but it is always helpful to hear them again.

1. Write what you know.

2. Avoid information dumps.

3. Have a character ask questions in order to get information conveyed.

4. Add background information here and there in the book.

5. If I, as the author, am not interested in what happens to my characters, that’s a good indication that readers won’t care what happens to them either.

6. Hang in there and write what you can each day. That page or two per day will eventually be a 400-page manuscript.

7. Every book has a theme. You might not know what the theme is when you begin, but you should know in the end. At that time, you can go back and add foreshadowing and details that reinforce the theme.

8. No one wants to be preached to in a novel.

9. Life doesn’t have to make sense, but a novel must make sense.

10. One reason people like fiction is because it has to be plausible. Life isn’t always plausible.

If you haven’t read any of Mark de Castrique’s books, I highly recommend that you give them a try. You will be entertained while learning something about the rich history of the mountains of North Carolina.

Unbroken read by Rocky River Readers

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, was the book discussed last night by Rocky River Readers Book Club. We met at Rocky River Presbyterian Church.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, although I plan to do so. Unbroken is a powerful book! I read it last year and many details from it are still vivid in my mind. Louis Zamperini was an amazing man. His rough and tumble childhood and teenage years set him up for a life of trouble. Track and field gave him discipline and self-confidence. Everything in his early years in some way prepared him for his horrible World War II years.

Many of you have probably seen the movie. I urge you to also read the book. It is another masterpiece by Laura Hillenbrand, who also wrote Seabiscuit.

A local history talk

Yesterday my sister and I conducted our fourth (and last) Local and Rocky River Presbyterian Church History Talk and Tour. We had these monthly, September through November, skipped December, and then started again in January. Response has fluctuated. It was worth a try. I spent hours planning the topics. I had enough topics to last two or three years. No doubt, someone who has not attended any of the four talks so far will complain that we are discontinuing the programs. That’s human nature.

Yesterday’s topics were the Rev. Dr. John Makemie Wilson and the Rocky River Academy. Dr. Wilson was the pastor of Rocky River and Philadelphia Presbyterian Churches in Cabarrus and Mecklenburg Counties for 30 years in the early decades of the 19th century. He served as teacher at Rocky River Academy for much of that time. Completing their studies at Rocky River Academy prepared the students for entrance in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Twenty-five of the academy’s students went on to become Presbyterian ministers. One of them, the Rev. Dr. Robert Hall Morrison, was a founder and the first president of Davidson College.

The three-part series of local history columns I wrote about the Rocky River Academy for Harrisburg Horizons newspaper came in handy as I prepared for yesterday’s program.

Last night I spent some time editing the manuscript of my historical novel, The Spanish Coin, in preparation to submit it in a writing competition. More on that later.

Preparing for Book Launch

I put the finishing touches on the “script” and the door prize display board today. I have everything together that needs to go to the book launch. After six weeks or more of anticipation, the big day is almost here. If you live within driving distance of Rocky River Presbyterian Church, 7940 Rocky River Road, Concord, NC, please come to my book launch party for The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina at 3:00 pm on Sunday, September 21, 2014.

Book release & newspaper interview

What an exciting day! The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina was released today by Arcadia Publishing and I had my first newspaper interview about the book!

Jesse Campbell of The Mountain Times in Boone interviewed me for an article to be published on August 28 in that weekly newspaper that covers Ashe, Avery and Watauga Counties. You can’t beat free publicity like that!

This morning I participated in the filming of a pilot for a TV series about single pastors. The interim pastor of Rocky River Presbyterian Church is the Rev. Eleanor Norman. She was chosen as one of several single pastors in the US for inclusion in the pilot. Some of us gathered this morning in the sanctuary to give Eleanor an audience for a Scripture reading, sermon, and other remarks as directed by the producer. It’s fun to do something out of the ordinary. My only other TV experience was being an extra in a funeral scene the first season of the TV series “Homeland.” The pilot filmed this morning will never air. It will only be used to try to sell the idea to a network.

I’m going to the monthly meeting of Rocky River Readers Book Club tonight at Rocky River Presbyterian Church for a discussion of I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was shot in the face just for wanting an education. Attending the book club meeting will be the perfect way to end what has been quite a day.

Door prizes for my Book Launch

Another door prize arrived in the mail today for my September 21, 2014 book launch for The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Add two adult passes to Chimney Rock to the list!

Other door prizes I’ve secured so far are as follows: two adult VIP passes for a two-day Hop On/Hop Off Historic Tour by Gray Line Asheville, two $25 gift cards from Bogart’s Restaurant and Tavern in Waynesville, a complimentary pass for a family of four to Linville Caverns, and two tickets for a 2015 performance of Horn in the West and admission to Hickory Ridge Museum in Boone.

The public is invited to my book launch and book signing at 3:00 on Sunday afternoon, September 21, 2014 in the new fellowship hall at Rocky River Presbyterian Church, 7940 Rocky River Road, Concord, NC.

Be sure and come at 3:00 and plan to stay for the hour as door prize drawings will be held every few minutes. My book will be available for $20.

Juggling act

I’m juggling plans for my book launch, scheduling speaking engagements, helping to organize the history room/library in the new building at Rocky River Presbyterian Church, compiling notes for docents to have at four history stations at the church on November 1 for a community day, and planning a series of monthly church history talks to begin in September.

My reading time is suffering, and my sewing and quilting time has evaporated. I’m not complaining, though. It is wonderful to have so many interests and activities!

Book release alert: Just 14 days until the publication of The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, by Arcadia Publishing.

Learning about lead times

I feel my way along in the dark as I try to arrange The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina book talks.

It has been a learning experience. Our local county’s library system schedules author events three months in advance and the Friends group for each branch library controls the timetable.

Plans for my September 21 book launch at Rocky River Presbyterian Church continue while I try to get other events on the calendar. I will work to schedule book talks locally and in some mountain counties. I still haven’t given up on visiting libraries in five mountain counties in October, but nothing has worked out so far.

Planning book talk

I have sore muscles today after helping to set up the history room yesterday in the new building at Rocky River Presbyterian Church. We haven’t had a room set aside for history in several years, so I’m excited that we’ll once again have such a room. It will serve as history room, church library, and a meeting room. It is absolutely beautiful!

I worked on my book talk today, so I’ll be ready when I start taking The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina “on the road” to public libraries in September.

Planning a book tour

Every day brings a new experience. I’m putting together my first book tour in the mountains of North Carolina. I’ve selected nine public libraries to contact. Speaking about my book is going to take me way out of my comfort zone, but I need to do it!

Amy Clipston gave a very interesting presentation on Monday night at Rocky River Presbyterian Church. She told us about how she is able to write Amish fiction without being Amish. She also talked about the journey her family took through the process of kidney transplantation. She is one busy and gracious lady! Check out her books and her website: http://www.amyclipston.com.