Category Archives: writing and publishing

Rhode Island on the horizon

Shipping News: Rhode Island Rendezvous, Book Three of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventures, scheduled to arrive in port September 1, 2017.

Newport Rhode Island: 1765

The Seven Years War is over but unrest in the American colonies is just heating up…

 Maintaining her disguise as a young man, Patricia is finding success as Patrick MacPherson. Formerly a surgeon’s mate in His Majesty’s Navy, Patrick has lately been employed aboard the colonial merchant schooner Andromeda, smuggling foreign molasses into Rhode Island. Late October, amidst riots against the newly imposed Stamp Act, she leaves Newport bound for the West Indies on her first run as Andromeda’s master. In Havana a chance meeting with a former enemy presents unexpected opportunities while an encounter with a British frigate and an old lover threatens her liberty – and her life.

What began as Star-Crossed, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2006 as a Young Adult historical novel, has become the Patricia MacPherson series — adult historical fiction. Not that there is graphic sex and gratuitous violence in the adult editions, but because I always intended it for adult readers, which includes many mature teens.

For me, chronicling Patricia’s story has been a way to rediscover history through the eyes of an orphaned teenager, born of a rich English planter in Barbados, who matures as she is forced to make her own way in the world. Writing in first person as I have done is a very immediate and personal experience, almost like reliving a past life.  So intense is the immersion, and challenging because of its limitations, I’ve added a prologue to Rhode Island Rendezvous; a prologue written in close third person from Patricia’s former lover’s perspective.

Writing a book is indeed a journey.  A fourth book and final book in the series is planned and the voyage is soon to begin…

The inspiration for the fictional vessel Andromeda comes from the historic Schooner Lewis R. French, pictured here, and used with their generous permission. While not from colonial times, the Maine-built schooner was launched in 1871 and is very traditional in her design. According to her website, “she freighted bricks, lumber, firewood, granite, fish, lime, canning supplies, Christmas trees, and now people.” Bob and I were among those people, having had the pleasure of cruising aboard the French some years ago. Highly recommended, if you get the chance!

Today she is still powered by sail alone (no engine) — with occasional assistance from a motorized dinghy.  To learn more, visit the schooner’s website schoonerfrench.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s make a book trailer!

I don’t know if video book trailers sell more books; I rather doubt it.  The real value of making a book trailer is for the writer herself. The process forces the writer to condense her novel to an intriguing, concise visual synopsis, sixty seconds or less. The purpose of a book trailer isn’t to summarize the plot or to introduce characters, it’s simply to stimulate interest in the story through images and visual effects. Music helps convey the tone and maybe the setting.

Making your own book trailer can be a good exercise if you’re suffering from writers block; it’ll help you rediscover what it is that drives your story.

For screenwriters, making a short book trailer is an exercise in storyboarding and building shot lists.

A book trailer might even be an art form in itself.

Most importantly, making a book trailer is fun!

You can make your own trailer using apps and programs such as iMovie, Vine, Movie FX Director, YouTube Editor, Windows Live Movie Maker, Animoto and many others.  I made this trailer for Water Ghosts using Animoto. I made one for Looking for Redfeather with Windows Live Movie Maker.  I’m very much a novice, I’m still learning the ropes and experimenting.

No matter which program you use, make sure you’ve got a lot of good images to choose from — whether your own or stock photos. Keep the text minimal. As David Mamet said, “The job of the film director is to tell the story through the juxtaposition of uninflected images — because that is the essential nature of the medium.” (David Mamet On Directing Film). Don’t ponder too long over that, just jump right in and make a book trailer. You’ll learn what works as you go.

 

 

 

 

 

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Enter for a chance to win Barbados Bound

With Rhode Island Rendezvous, Book Three of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series, on the horizon we’re offering five copies of book one — Barbados Bound — as a give-away through Amazon. To enter the sweepstakes click on the link at the end of the post. We’ll also be giving away some Kindle copies soon.

I came aboard with the prostitutes the night before the ship set sail…

Portsmouth, England, 1760. Patricia Kelley, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy Barbadian sugarcane planter, falls from her imagined place in the world when her absent father unexpectedly dies, leaving her no means of support.  Raised in a Wiltshire boarding school far from the plantation where she was born, the sixteen-year-old orphan stows away on a ship bound for Barbados in a brash attempt to claim an unlikely inheritance.  Aboard the merchantman Canopus, under contract with the British Navy to deliver gunpowder to the West Indian forts, young Patricia finds herself pulled between two worlds — and two identities — as she charts her own course for survival in the war-torn eighteenth century. 

 Barbados Bound was first published as Star-Crossed in 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf, and chosen by the New York Public Library to be among the Books for the Teen Age – 2007.  The story is basically the same but the author has made minor changes to the manuscript, in some cases replacing words and phrases edited out from Knopf’s Young Adult version.  

 

It all started with a ship. On April 14, 1999, I saw in the newspaper a startlingly anachronistic photograph of a three-masted wooden ship under sail. It looked like it had just sailed out of the eighteenth century. Below it, an intriguing advertisement:

Help wanted: Deckhands to man floating museum…a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail as crew on Endeavour, the replica of Capt. James Cook’s ship that will visit Hawaii in November. Crewmembers sleep in hammocks slung together on the lower deck.  They must be prepared to go aloft and work the sails at any time of day in any weather, not suffer from chronic seasickness or fear of heights, and be physically fit.  Sailing experience is not essential…

Six months later Bob and I were at the dock in Vancouver, signing ship’s articles.

We spent three weeks aboard the Endeavour, as part of the foremast watch, crossing the Northern Pacific Ocean. We learned the names and functions of the hundreds of lines, sails and spars that power the ship; we learned to climb aloft on the ratlines, stepping out on the foot ropes under the yards to make and furl sail. We took turns steering the ship and were responsible for cleaning and maintaining her in eighteenth-century fashion. We slept in hammocks we strung from the deckhead every evening.

The voyage crew, as we green-but-willing sailors were called, bonded quickly, for we were all in it together and we all felt the same swing of emotions — anxiety, fear, fatigue, exhaustion, sea-sickness, hunger, occasionally resentment – but most of all, exhilaration and awe. For me, those weeks on the Endeavour were nothing short of a time machine.

When Bob and I disembarked in Kona, Hawaii, I carried with me the seeds for a novel. It would not be about Captain Cook or his extraordinary voyages, but it would begin in the mid-eighteenth century aboard a ship much like the one I had sailed on.

It would take me more than five years to research and write the story born aboard Endeavour. In 2006 Alfred A. Knopf published it under the title Star-Crossed, as a stand-alone, young adult historical novel which the New York Public Library chose it to be among the Books for the Teen Age – 2007. I had not written the story for teen readers per se, but I had written about a teenager, from her narrow and still immature perspective. Star-Crossed became Barbados Bound, the first book in a series about a young woman coming of age in the 18th century who tries to find her place in the world, disguised as a man.

Click on the link for a chance to win a trade paperback copy of Barbados Bound; Book One of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series. Open to readers in the United States who have an active Amazon account.

 

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Adventures on the Colorado Wine Route

Twenty-five years ago Bob and I wrote Rocky Mountain Wineries; a travel guide to the wayside vineyards. When the book went to press in 1994 there were forty-nine wineries in the six states we covered — nine of them in Colorado.

Colorado’s oldest winery

The next quarter of a century saw a boom of new wineries and vineyards in the six states, along with the recognition of three new American Viticultural Areas (AVAs): West Elks in Colorado, Eagle Foothills in Idaho, and Lewis Clark Valley in Idaho and Washington). Similar to the French wine system AOC, AVAs are regions recognized for their historic growth of wine grapes — and for their unique properties of geography, soil, altitude, and micro-climate that lend character to the wine. The French call it terroir.  AVA boundaries are defined by the U.S. Treasury’s Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Today there are more wineries in the state of Colorado alone than there were in all of the six states we covered in our book. Rocky Mountain Wineries is twenty-five years out of date and long out of print — but it’s not entirely obsolete. Many of the wineries we wrote about in 1992 are thriving in 2017, winning medals and new drinkers every year. Salut to Carlson Vineyards, Colorado Cellars, Grande River Vineyards, Plum Creek Cellars, and  Terror Creek Winery.

Bob and I recently spent a weekend cycling through the vineyards of Colorado’s Grande Valley AVA. This was a supported 40 mile bike ride called the Palisade Piccolo Fondo. Cycling the wine route is very popular now — but in my opinion bike touring and wine tasting aren’t very compatible, especially when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Cycling is good fun and great exercise — but for wine tasting I recommend a vehicle with an engine and a sizable trunk. For carrying cases of wine, of course.

Bob rode with the fast pack (finishing the forty miles in under three and a half hours) but I lagged behind, stopping to take photos (my excuse for a quick rest!) My time was considerably slower, but hey, I finished all forty miles.

Wine made from honey — nectar of the gods

In the twenty-five years since Bob and I wrote the book we’ve seen the proliferation of micro-breweries in Colorado — and recently the legalization of marijuana. All have had a positive effect on tourism within the state, and the economy in general. There have been brewery guides written and there will soon be grow-house and dispensary guides, no doubt — but wine remains my favorite beverage and mood adjuster.

Fruit growing in the valley dates back to the 1800’s. Homegrown wine was once a part of life in Colorado, as it was throughout America (before Prohibition). The 1890 state census reported 1,744 gallons of wine produced on forty-nine farms on the western slope of the Rockies. The West Slope town of Palisade (Grande Valley AVA) was once called Vineland.  (Collison and Russell, Rocky Mountain Wineries; A  Travel Guide To The Wayside Vineyards (Boulder: Pruett, 1994), pg. 30. Yes, I just quoted myself.

Our recent bicycle tour of Palisade revealed how the industry has come to fruition in Colorado’s Grande River AVA. Much has changed since Bob and I last traveled the wine route. Wine tasters now stay in charming B&B’s or in the resort-like Wine Country Inn, just off Interstate 70 and surrounded by vineyards. Some of the estate wineries have expanded, going from the simple but serviceable corrugated metal buildings we encountered in 1992 to elegant California-style gift shop/tasting room/event centers.

For us a trip to Palisade wouldn’t be complete without stopping at two of our favorite world class Colorado wineries, Plum Creek Cellars and Grande River Vineyards. Grande River was hosting what appeared to be a bachelor-ette wine-tasting excursion the Saturday afternoon we visited after the bicycle ride. The horse-drawn hay wagon with sunshade is what passes for Uber or Lyft in Palisade.

 

Over at Plum Creek, early Sunday morning, Melissa gave us a personalized tour and tasting.

 

Years ago I asked a Rocky Mountain winemaker what his favorite wine was. “The one I’m drinking at the time,” he answered. That’s become my motto for life.

Salut!

 

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Rocky Mountain Wineries; a travel guide to the wayside vineyards

Pruett Publishing Company; Boulder, Colorado. 1994

The wineries of the Rocky Mountains are producing good wines, in some cases great wines, with many national and international award-winners among their ranks. There are no world-famous designer labels to rely on in the six states covered in this guide, but the adventurous oenophile whether beginning or experienced, will discover here a wealth of interesting vintage expertly and lovingly crafted by people with a passion for their wine — and many interesting stories to tell.

The husband-and-wife writing team of Linda Collison and Bob Russell are adventurers on land and in the air. They met while skydiving, which they still practice when not traveling, writing, or tasting wines… (from the back cover, designed by Jody Chapel. Printed in the United States. Text printed on recycled paper)

 

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Sea Trials (or, How NOT to sail around the world)

Wendy Hinman is an adventurer, speaker and the award-winning author of two books, Tightwads on the Loose and Sea Trials; Around the World with Duct Tape and Bailing Wire.

Tightwads on the Loose is a travel adventure book about the seven-year, 34,000-mile voyage the author embarked on with her husband aboard a 31-foot sailboat, performing a wide range of shipboard duties worthy of both “Wonder Woman and Suzy Homemaker,” as Wendy describes it. Tightwads on the Loose was selected for the literature program for Western Washington University, won the Journey Award for best true life adventure story and was selected as a top travel book for women.

Her latest release, Sea Trials, is the story of the Wilcox family who set off to sail around the world in four years. Thirteen months into their voyage they are shipwrecked on a coral reef, with surf tearing a huge hole into the side of their boat. With years invested in saving money, preparing the boat, and learning to navigate by the stars, parents Chuck and Dawn refuse to give up. Fourteen-year-old Garth is determined to continue, while eleven-year-old Linda never wanted to go in the first place. To triumph, they must rebuild their boat on a remote Pacific island. Damage sustained on the reef and a lack of resources haunt them the rest of the way around the world as they face wild weather, pirates, gun boats, mines and thieves, scurvy and starvation in a trial that tests them to their limits.

When asked about her writing process Hinman says,

“Always an avid reader, I secretly longed to write books one day, but no one in my family was a writer nor did we know any professional writers personally.  After years in international business, during the dot com boom I shifted into working as a technical writer, a web content manager, and an online magazine editor, as we prepared for an offshore voyage. During our 7-years of traveling, I loved sharing our adventures on a popular blog and through our growing email list. Upon our return, readers encouraged me to put my stories into a book. They loved my humor – an essential ingredient when traveling aboard a 31-foot boat. Marrying my love of sailing and adventure with my love of writing seemed a natural place to start writing books and has kept the voyage alive for me while we build a boat and prepare for another offshore adventure.

After I finished writing Tightwads on the Loose, I was ready for another challenge.  Over the years since I met my husband I’d been hearing snippets of the epic voyage he had taken with his family around the world and their shipwreck when he was fourteen. Family dinners had been filled with do you remember whens: 

“Do you remember the time when gunboats forced us to sail across mines in the Red Sea?… the time when our pilot Abdul got lost in the Suez Canal?… when the boat starting sinking in Israel? mom tried to poison us? we ran out of food and nearly starved?

Such tantalizing anecdotes intrigued me. I got possession of the famous letters the family had mailed home. Hundreds of them. Inside them was more detail than any writer could hope for.  Too much, sometimes. But in combing through them I fleshed out the outline of the story that I’d developed in my mind of their voyage. I asked a lot of questions of the family members and took copious notes.  I consulted guide books and sailing directions, maps, and the ship’s log to ferret out the details. I read the newspaper articles, listened to the interviews with the family. And started writing.  And double checking details with the ones who had lived through it. With a rough draft completed, I had them read every word to check for inaccuracies or things that didn’t seem true to their experience.  It was a family bonding experience.

What I uncovered was such a dramatic story, that I could hardly believe anyone had truly lived through it.  Especially people I knew.  The challenges they overcame astound me. And that was AFTER surviving a shipwreck.

I’m excited to share these stories and I’m thrilled at how well-received they’ve been.”

For more about Wendy Hinman’s adventures, writing, and speaking engagements, please see her author’s website and her Amazon Author page.

 

 

 

 

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