The Next Big Thing Blog Hop


By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Author Lynn Thompson asked if I’d participate in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop! Since I launched my Next Big Thing Novel (Trails in the Sand) yesterday, January 30, it seemed quite appropriate to participate in my second blog hop. This blog hop requires me to answer ten questions about my new work and then tag other authors to do the same. Not only does it give me the opportunity to promote my new book, but I have the opportunity to support and promote my fellow authors as well. It’s a winning combination.

Ten Questions about Trails in the Sand

Was Trails in the Sand always the title of this book, even when it was a work in progress?

No, it was originally titled In the Garden. Even though the garden is a part of the book, it didn’t really address the whole concept. When I sent it out to my first readers during the first draft round, I kept thinking about the title and knew I had to change it. At first, I wanted Tracks in the Sand to be the title, but when I did a search on Amazon, I came up with dozens of other titles very similar to that one. Trails fit better, and I didn’t find any other books with that title.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was embroiled in the real-life drama as a public relations director for Florida’s fish and wildlife agency. I handled the media for the sea turtle nest relocation project that took place during the summer of 2010. At the same time, I was beginning a new relationship with a lost love from thirty-five years ago and was in the process of moving to Pittsburgh. Two weeks prior to the oil spill, twenty-nine miners were killed in a coal mine explosion in West Virginia, just a few hours from where I was moving. It all fell into place to write about the oil spill and coal mine disaster and our quest for profit and fossil fuels at any cost as the backdrop to the love story unfolding as the reunited couple face obstacles that threaten to topple their new marriage.

What genre is your book?

Trails in the Sand is contemporary literature. I want to create a new genre for environmental fiction, but so far, I’m not having success with that.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ashley Judd would be exceptional as main character Caroline Carlisle, with Woody Harrelson as Caroline’s husband Simon. Susan Sarandon would make a perfect Gladdy Stokley Carlisle, the damaged southern belle and mother to Caroline.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

As environmental writer Caroline Carlisle reports on endangered sea turtles during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, she uncovers secrets about the past threatening to destroy her family unless she can heal the hurts after a lifetime of lies.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I went the traditional route for my first three novels. I self-published for the first time in May 2012 (Live from the Road) with modest success, so Trails in the Sand is also self-published. However, both books have gone through several beta readers, a copy editor, and a professional editor before publication.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took me six months or so; it’s hard to say because I do a great amount of research during the first draft stage, and I write scenes as they come to me, and then worry about placement later. With that said, it could have taken almost a year before I felt it was ready for first read by beta readers.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Before I began writing this book, I reread Pat Conroy’s Beach Music. While I do not put myself in his category of writing excellence (yet), my themes are similar. We both explore nature and crazy families who’ve done their share of damage to those who come later.

What inspired you to write this book?

As I learned more and more about the two tragedies that occurred in April 2010 – the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Upper Big Branch mine explosion – I became increasingly concerned with the lack of following safety procedures in both cases. Both disasters could have been prevented. In total, forty lives were lost. In addition, my personal life fluctuated between extreme highs and extreme lows during this time. And again most of that could have been prevented. In all of these cases, I kept wondering if restoration and peace would ever be possible after something is destroyed, so I decided to explore that concept both in the environment and in human relationships.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope readers will enjoy the story of one family as Caroline explores the past of her grandfather and mother. There’s touching moments as well as hilarious moments as one southern family fights to hide the past. As a reporter, Caroline can’t let it go. I also think readers will enjoy the race against time as wildlife officials fight to save hundreds of sea turtle nests from destruction as the oil heads for Florida’s Panhandle beaches.

Author Links

Here are five talented authors I’m tagging as the blog hop continues. Make sure you stop by their blogs and get to know these talented individuals.

Jerry Hatchett


Blog:  Storyfreak –

Pawnbroker Website:

Facebook Fan Page:


Inez Reilly





Author Central:
About Me page:

Elise K. Ackers





Harriet Cammock





Radio Blog:


Ferris Robinson


Amazon website:




I’d like to thank, Lynn Thompson, for tagging me and asking me to participate. Please take a moment to visit Lynn’s sites.

Lynn Thompson






New Release – Trails in the Sand

Available in print and ebook

Available in print and ebook

Press Release

Deepwater Horizon disaster and sea turtles serve as backdrop in new novel

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – January 30, 2013 – In Trails in the Sand by P. C. Zick, environmental writer Carolyn Carlisle reports on the danger sea turtles face as oil heads to the Florida coast from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

As Caroline follows the story, she uncovers secrets about the past that threaten to destroy what’s left of her family unless she finds a way to heal the hurts after a lifetime of lies.

Trails in the Sand explores the struggles to replenish and restore after destruction, in nature and in a family, as both head to disaster. Through it all, the ancient sea turtle serves as a reminder that life moves forward despite the best efforts to destroy it.

P. C. Zick worked as a public relations director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) during the oil spill crises. In her new novel, she draws on her experience as the Deepwater Horizon disaster plays out in the background. As the oil gushed out of the ground and headed for Florida’s Panhandle coast, Ms. Zick headed up media relations for the sea turtle nest relocation project. In 2011, the FWC gave her and the project’s team an award for outstanding work in saving the endangered sea turtles.

Ms. Zick has written several nonfiction books and has four published novels, including Live from the Road. She was a reporter and public relations specialist in Gainesville, St. Augustine, and Tallahassee, where she published under the name of Patricia Behnke. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Robert and writes blogs and novels with environmental themes.

For more information about Trails in the Sand, visit or Please contact her directly at for information about review copies, speaking engagements, interviews, and book signings.


P.C. Zick

Trails in the Sand – Behind the Scenes with the Author
I was embroiled in the real-life drama of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as a public relations director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I handled the media for the sea turtle nest relocation project that took place during the summer of 2010. At the same time, I was beginning a new relationship with a lost love from thirty-five years ago. We married in August 2010. During the environmental disaster, I was in the process of moving to Pittsburgh to be with my new husband. Two weeks prior to the oil spill, twenty-nine miners were killed in a coal mine explosion in West Virginia, just a few hours from where I was moving. It all fell into place to write about the oil spill and the coal mine disaster and our quest for profit and fossil fuels at any cost. I made the environmental disasters the backdrop for the love story of two people who must overcome many obstacles to restore lost love.

Contact information:
Purchase link:
Blogs: and

Giveaway at Goodreads

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I wrote a nonfiction book in 2009 for and about a man and woman in Chiefland, Florida, who suffered first through an act of terrorism in Angola and then faced full-blow Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms for nearly two decades as they faced the trials of the man’s kidnappers. Two Moons in Africa: Barbara and Brent Swan’s Story of Terrorism by Patricia Camburn Behnke (my former name).

From January 26 to February 26, I’m offering a giveaway of two autographed hardcover copies on Goodreads.

The book also is  for sale on my website, in both paperback and hardcover. Visit the e-store on at for details on ordering.

Book Giveaway For Two Moons in Africa

Giveaway dates: Jan 26-Feb 26, 2013

Description: Two Moons in Africa (nonfiction book 2009) – On October 19, 1990, Brent Swan, of Chiefland, Florida, was kidnapped in Angolo by members of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda in Angola. When he was finally released 61 days later, Brent provided the FBI with complete descriptions of his kidnappers and their camps, but it took until 2003 for just one of those kidnappers to be brought to trial, with outstanding warrants still on file with the U.S. Justice Department for three others. The U.S. government contacts the Swans and gives them information when they might need Brent as a witness, and each time they receive a call, they are thrown back to 1990 and forced to relieve the nightmare once again. There are days when they aren’t sure who the real terrorists are. Two Moons in Africa: Barbara and Brent Swan’s Story of Terrorism brings Brent out of the jungle with Barbara at his side. It is the story of Brent’s literal journey into a dark and dank jungle at the hands of rebels. It is the story of Barbara’s journey as well as she awaited first his release and then his recovery. It is the story of the love between two people who suffered and survived. But it is also the story of a country crammed with deadly land mines and embroiled in decades-long civil wars. It tells of a people destroyed by hopeless poverty while oil fields and diamond mines sit within view but beyond reach. It shows the true meaning of Africa as the Dark Continent. It is the story of rebels so intent upon their cause that the troubles of one American family have no bearing upon their fight. In fact, these fighters for Cabinda’s liberation felt they were so right in their cause, they made Brent Swan an honorary citizen of a country that does not exist except in their minds. It is also the story of how victims of terrorism are treated in the aftermath of the terrorist act as justice is sought but not always achieved. Two Moons in Africa represents their desire to tell the story. It is Barbara’s and Brent’s attempt to take control of a situation that has been out of their hands since 1990. But it has never been out of their minds or hearts or souls.

Time to Start Another Novel

woman writerBy Patricia Zick @PCZick

It’s time to start another book now that Trails in the Sand is finished. Finding the time to begin the new work is nearly impossible because my days are taken up with promoting the novel, submitting it to different websites, and finding reviewers for the book.

I’m not really starting a new book this time. I began a novel in 2006, but then life interrupted, and I set it aside. When I pulled it out of the drawer yesterday, I was amazed that I had written more than 300 pages. How did that happen? For the past six years, I wrote two other novels, Live from the Road and Trails in the Sand. But Safe Harbor – the book’s working title – sat in the drawer waiting for me to do my research.

second draft - all 538 pages

I remember thinking right before I put it away that I needed to interview a wildlife expert, preferably a wildlife officer. Safe Harbor is about an international consortium that wants to build “perfect” living communities with an environment filled with wild and endangered wildlife. The two main characters are environmentalists who attempt to uncover the truth about the community. But I needed to do some research about wildlife and the laws regarding endangered species.

As life would have it, within two months of putting down the novel, I took a job with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a public relations director. For four years, I worked with wildlife biologists, wildlife officers, and wildlife conservationists. I trampled through the Everglades in pursuit of the Burmese python. I worked with experts on Florida’s panthers, alligators, bears, freshwater turtles, and sea turtles.

I’ve done my research. Now what do I do?

First, I read the book. I began with the first chapter yesterday and here’s my process.

Note cards: I put the name of each character on a note card. I put down relevant information on the card to help me keep details straight. I put year of birth, marriages, divorces, etc. When I have a card for each character, I pin each card on a bulletin board on the wall across from my desk. I group them by relationships. I also put any cross references to other characters on the cards.

Characters: As I go through the first reading, I’ll assess the depth of the characters. I know I have a few peripheral characters in this book so I have to make sure they are essential to the plot and have enough substance to remain in the book.

Dialogue:  Sometimes I read the dialogue aloud to see if it sounds realistic. I’ll ask questions. Does the dialogue seem too formal? Sometimes writers forget to use contractions or slang or have a character using dialogue not true to the characterization developed. For me as a reader, nothing turns me off from a book more than unrealistic dialogue. I still struggle with dialogue at times. Each time I write a novel, I learn more and appreciate the comments of my beta readers. On my last book, one of them asked why I had a husband and wife speaking to one another in such a formal tone. I reread the passage and was shocked. She was right. That question guided me through the revisions of the next draft.

Point of View:  Point of view is another tricky little task to tackle and understand. Again, when I’m reading a book with a point of view that jumps around or isn’t established at all within the book, I’m a goner. I’ve experimented with point of view. I’ve written two completely in first person. I wrote one with the omniscient third person point of view – which to me is one of the trickiest forms, and I don’t think I’d do it again. In Trails in the Sand, I experimented with chapters from the three main characters. In Safe Harbor, the point of view is third person limited, but I switch the limited view between characters in different chapters. I’m not a fan of switching point of view in the middle of a chapter. I may decide on a different point of view in Safe Harbor as I begin revisions. I did that in Trails in the Sand after my beta readers made some comments about how I was portraying the real-life events playing out in the oil spill and coal mine disaster. So I inserted short chapters of narrative coverage of the environmental disasters taken from news reports and press releases. I suggest writers play around with point of view.

Plot:  Since it’s been six years since I’ve worked on this novel, I’ll probably do a timeline and outline of the story as I read. I often move around chapters or bits of pieces of information. I love doing this because only one person is in charge of how the story plays out. We don’t often get that much control in life.

I have lots of work to do, but I’m ready to do it. I hate having an unfinished book sitting dormant in a drawer. Now I won’t have any. I look forward to the day when I’m ready to start another novel from scratch, but at this point, I don’t have any idea what I might write next. That doesn’t bother me. It always comes to me if I just let it go and let my subconscious do that work. My job is to remain conscious enough to allow the story to sift into my brain.

I always tell my friends they need to be careful what they tell me because they might end up in my next novel.

How do you get your ideas?

I’m looking for reviewers for Trails in the Sand. I’ll be happy to gift you either an ebook version or print copy in return for an honest review. Leave me a comment or email me at Thanks for your consideration.

Available in print and ebook

Available in print and ebook

New Release from Rachelle Ayala

Fellow author and blogger, Rachelle Ayala has released a new book this week, Hidden Under Her Heart. The book is available for .99 cents January 21-23 on and Barnes and Noble.


Maryanne Torres is a compassionate nurse who fails at relationships. After a string of losers, she swears off premarital sex, hoping to land a marrying type of man.

Lucas Knight, a law-school dropout, moves to California to train for the Ironman Triathlon. He’s smart, sweet, and everything Maryanne wants in a man, but their relationship suffers from his dedication to the sport. Seeking consolation in the arms of a handsome preacher’s son, Maryanne attends a church party where she is raped.

Maryanne is pregnant from the rape and plans to abort. But the identity of her rapist is hidden in her baby’s DNA. Lucas asks Maryanne to seek alternatives and pledges to support her through the pregnancy. When Lucas becomes the prime suspect, Maryanne must clear his name and make a life changing decision.

The rapist has other ideas. In order to destroy the evidence, he offers Maryanne an illegal offshore abortion. With Maryanne’s life in danger, Lucas races to save her and her baby. However, Maryanne hides a secret that threatens to tear them apart forever.

A 99,000-word women’s fiction, HIDDEN UNDER HER HEART deals with the consequences of rape and abortion.

From the Author

Hidden Under Her Heart is an emotional and hard-hitting story about a young woman facing a heart-wrenching decision. We’ve heard the rhetoric, maybe even argued over the issue of abortion and rape. But behind the debates are real people—women and men with real problems and feelings. My story is not meant to be preachy, but compassionate, especially for post-abortive parents seeking closure. I think people on both sides of the fence will find meaning in the changes that both Maryanne and Lucas go through. Ultimately, it is an uplifting story, and my hope is that it will be a help to you.

From Rachelle Ayala

I am the author of three novels: Michal’s Window, a historical romance between King David and his first wife, the princess Michal, Broken Build, a romantic suspense thriller set in a Silicon Valley startup, and Hidden Under Her Heart, a story about a nurse wrestling with her decision to abort. My stories tend to be dramatic and emotional, crossing genres and cultures. I like to dive deep and live through my characters’ eyes. Each of them are passionate but flawed women paired with conflicted men with good hearts. I hope you enjoy the emotional journey I take you on. I love to hear from readers. Please contact me on Facebook: or my blog:


Authors Needed for Blog Hop

By Patricia Zick @ PCZick

I’ve been invited to partake in a blog-hop soon, and I need five authors to post the week after me. I’ll post your contact information on my post Jan. 31. In my post, I’ll answer ten questions about my latest work. On Feb. 7, the authors I linked in my post will do the same thing by answering the questions and posting links to five other authors. It doesn’t take much time, but it certainly helps expose your work to a wider audience.

Any authors who are interested, please send me a message via Facebook, twitter, or email at

I’ll be answering questions about my new novel Trails in the Sand which will be launched on Jan. 30 although it’s available on right now.3-D1web

A Hemingway Feast

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Confession time:  I’ve never been a great fan of Ernest Hemingway’s writing. It leaves me cold. That’s not to say he isn’t a brilliant writer; I’m only saying his style of writing is not my favorite. I go more for Fitzgerald and Steinbeck.

Nonetheless, I longed to read A Moveable Feast, a nonfiction account of his years in Paris during the 1920s. He wrote the book almost thirty years after his life of sharing drinks and philosophies with Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and many others of that era. The period and place fascinate me as I’ve often wondered what it must have been like to have so many creative geniuses gathered in one place, sharing and hording ideas and discussing the process of creating when all the rules went with the winds of war so recently fought.

The book didn’t disappoint. A Moveable Feast is the first book of Hemingway’s that I enjoyed and read in almost one sitting. His descriptions of his writing process intrigued me. Here’s a few gems that moved me and made me consider my process.

Here’s what he told himself when he became stuck as he started a new story: “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence.”

I tell myself something similar every time I face a blank page. Then I just write the first thing that comes to mind about the topic. I wonder what one true sentence might mean. He describes it as a simple, declarative sentence. So I suppose that’s all it is: the simplest thing to be said in the most concise way. What do you think is “one true sentence?”

“. . .I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started writing the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything. . .”

Sometimes it’s difficult to shut it off, but I believe he’s right about letting the subconscious work it out. Whenever I’ve agonized over a scene or character, nothing comes, and I become more frustrated. When I let it go and forget it about, I often wake in the morning with the perfect solution to the problem. Are you able to let it go when you put down the pen or stop the fingers?

“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

This is fairly similar to the last one, and again, it’s the way I write. I stop writing when I’ve figured out a way to begin or end a scene. I take down some notes on how I want to proceed, and then I start fresh the next day after that time of letting it go to the subconscious. Of course, this is in the perfect world of writing – it doesn’t often happen that way. I’ve emptied the well and had to quit until I could pull in the hose and fill it up again.

“I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next.”

Yep. It’s the best way to end the writing day. I’ve ended in the middle of scenes. I read somewhere that Somerset Maugham ended his writing day in the middle of a sentence so he always had a place to start the following day. I don’t go that far, but I do like to stop so I don’t face an empty page the next day. Do you find this a helpful way to write?

Hemingway to Fitzgerald: “Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can.”



Good discussion of print editions. I agree with the author of this post. I hope to be back next week as I’m still recovering from a virus.

Savvy Writers & e-Books online


Last October I wrote a blog post why every author should offer print versions of their e-books. 
In the meantime I discovered even more reasons to have at least a small amount of printed books
listed.  Read on:

E-book authors might be happy with their sales on Amazon, Apple, Kobo or Barnes & Noble. You might have even turned it into an audio book. But the questions for a “real” book, paper back or hard-cover copy from conservative friends or elderly family members are nagging… And wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a Chapters or Baker & Taylor or one of these rare independent book shops and see your book in the shelf?

You will not earn a fortune, not even a living, but for a couple of months it is a nice pocket change. Only months… yes, because longer than this, barely any…

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