Reality Informs Fiction: Trails in the Sand

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I published Trails in the Sand in 2013, three years after the disastrous oil spill after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. From the first moment I heard about the explosion nine years ago and through my job as a public relations director with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, I was glued to the news on the struggle to contain the tar balls and greasy water approaching the Panhandle beaches of Florida.

When not working at my day job, I was also starting a novel about a dysfunctional family struggling to change generations of heartbreak.  April 20, 2019 marks the nine year anniversary of this event. Each year on the anniversary, I offer a special on Trails in the Sand, normally priced at $5.99 on Kindle. April 21-28, 2019, the book may be downloaded for $0.99. Click here to grab your copy.

Four years ago, I wrote about the disaster and how the book Trails in the Sand was born. Here is that post to commemorate both the oil spill and Earth Day and to remind us all the importance and fragility of our natural world.

Published originally on April 20, 2015 – Five years ago today, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon caught on fire.  Even though the newscasters downplayed its significance at first, I felt a black cloud deepen. I’d just moved to southwestern Pennsylvania where news of the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster a few hours away in West Virginia still dominated local news. Twenty-nine men died in that explosion on April 5, 2010, just ten days earlier.

We soon learned that BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico had blown its cap, which allowed gushing oil and killed eleven workers on the rig. As I’ve done for the past two decades, when something bothers me, I start to write. The result from my sorrow and unease with both disasters resulted in the novel, Trails in the Sand.  The novel serves as a reminder of two preventable disasters that occurred within two weeks of one another in 2010. Forty men died and countless wildlife and their habitats were injured or destroyed. Both events touched my life in some way and both made their way into the writing of Trails in the Sand.

When the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia exploded, twenty-nine miners, doing their job in the bowels of the earth, lost their lives. Subsequent reports showed the company ignored safety regulations, which played an important role in the explosion. At the time, I was in the process of moving from Florida to western Pennsylvania. The mine is located several hours from my new home, so the local media covered the disaster continually for the next few weeks. The national news also kept its eye turned toward a small town in West Virginia where families mourned their husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, and cousins. After April 20, the lens of the cameras shifted to the southwest.

The news began as a whimper before erupting into cries of outrage. An oil rig somewhere off the coast of Louisiana caught on fire on April 20, 2010. Soon the whole rig collapsed, and eleven men never made it out alive. Oil gushed from a well several miles below the Gulf’s surface.

As I made the transition to Pennsylvania, I still held my job in Florida, although I was in the process of leaving. I was a public relations director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I made the trip back and forth sixteen times in 2010. I conducted meetings from a cell phone in airports, highway rest areas, and at a dining room table from our small temporary apartment in Pittsburgh.

Every time I started to give my two-week notice to my supervisors, something happened, and my wildlife biologist bosses pleaded with me to stay. During a crisis, the spokesperson for a company or agency suddenly becomes a very important part of the team. Scientists become speechless when looking in the face of a microphone.

Nothing much happened in those early days of the oil spill for the wildlife community, although as a communications specialist I prepared for worst-case scenarios, while hoping for the best. Partnerships between national and state agencies formed to manage information flowing to the media. By May, some of the sea turtle experts began worrying about the nesting turtles on Florida’s Panhandle beaches, right where the still gushing oil might land. In particular, the scientists worried that approximately 50,000 hatchlings might be walking into oil-infested waters if allowed to enter the Gulf of Mexico after hatching from the nests on the Gulf beaches.

seaturtle4An extraordinary and unprecedented plan became reality, and as the scientists wrote the protocols, the plan was “in direct response to an unprecedented human-caused disaster.”

When the nests neared the end the incubation period, plans were made to dig up the nests and transport the eggs across the state to Cape Canaveral, where they would be stored until the hatchlings emerged from the eggs. Then they would receive a royal walk to the sea away from the oil-drenched waters of the Gulf.

aptopix-gulf-oil-spill-1fee0422a0df6673The whole project reeked with the scent of drama, ripe for the media to descend on Florida for reports to a public hooked on the images of oiled wildlife. Since I was in transition in my job, they appointed me to handle all media requests that came to the national and state agencies regarding the plan. From my new office in Raccoon Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, I began coordinating media events and setting up interviews with the biologists.

As the project began in June 2010, I began writing Trails in the Sand. At first, I created the characters and their situations. Then slowly I began writing about the oil crisis and made the main character, Caroline, an environmental reporter who covered the sea turtle relocation project. Then suddenly I was writing about her husband, Simon, who mourned the loss of his cousin in the coal mine disaster in West Virginia. I didn’t make a conscious effort to tie together the environmental theme with the family saga unfolding, but before too long, I realized they all dealt with restoration and redemption of things destroyed. As a result, the oil spill and the sea turtles became a metaphor for the destruction caused by Caroline and her family.

I’m a firm believer in the subject choosing the author. When that happens, it’s best to let the muse lead me to the keyboard and allow the words to find their way to the story. Trails in the Sand stands as my testament to the process.

3-D1Trails in the Sand synopsis

When environmental writer Caroline Carlisle sets off to report on endangered sea turtles during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the last thing she expects is to uncover secrets – secrets that threaten to destroy her family, unless she can heal the hurts from a lifetime of lies. To make matters worse, Caroline’s love for her late sister’s husband, Simon, creates an uproar in a southern family already set on a collision course with its past.

Using real-life events as the backdrop, Trails in the Sand explores the fight to restore balance and peace, in nature and in a family, as both spiral toward disaster. Through it all, the ancient sea turtle serves a reminder that life moves forward despite the best efforts to destroy it.

April 21-28 – Only $0.99

 

 

 

DOWNLOAD FLORIDA FICTION SERIES FOR $0.99 CENTS THIS WEEK

Click here to download

Click here to download

ffs_boxset_final

 

Three novels in one package, these novels represent my love for Florida in all its crazy and complicated glory.

Here’s a review from author Uvi Poznansky that I treasure. I love it when others call me a storyteller. That’s my job, but it’s always nice to be recognized as such by someone else.

Review:  PC Zick is a unique storyteller. Her female protagonists are energetic fighters, tackling conflicts within their families and society. Their thoughts reflect what’s in her heart: a caring for a place (hence the name of the series, Florida fiction), a sense of awe when history is unraveled, and a deep passion for a cause, all of which propel them through the twists and turns of the plot, seeking a way to arrive at resolution. Writing in bursts of dialogue, and in short chapters that often alternate in time, she takes it upon herself to weave together political and social strands with familial ones, to create a rich, complex tapestry as the backdrop for her stories. That is why they ring true in the deepest sense of the word. Her dedication on the opening page of Tortoise Stew says it all: “For all the underdogs who fight for justice because it’s the right thing to do.”

In the first novel, Native Lands, the story alternates between two time frames: 1760, where we meet Locka—son of a native tribe in Florida, who suffers the loss of his wife and finds himself attracted to the beautiful Mali—and the present, where we meet Emily Booth, the mother of a difficult teen and the wife of a political candidate Daniel, and the columnist Barbara Evans, who writes about environmental issues. In both time frames, the author bases her writing on in-depth research to create detailed, convincing realities in a manner that highlights the contrasts between past and present.

3-D1Set on Florida’s panhandle and the east coast near St. Augustine, the second novel, Trails in the Sand, presents Caroline, a woman faced with challenges on two levels: her family and her environment. On the family level, she uncovers family secrets–murder, incest, and pregnancies—secrets that went unspoken for as long as three generations back. Going forward, these secrets threaten to unsettle the shaky balance between her, her husband, and his daughter, as they struggle to reach for each other and find forgiveness. On the environment level, they must pull their efforts together, to rescue sea turtles that are threatened by extinction due to environmental hazards brought on by society. In Zick’s writing, the family and environment issue are interconnected: the night scene on a beach near Cape Canaveral, when the sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea, is moving on both levels at once. It left trails in the sand, in a direction which for me, evoked hope for a future founded on understanding and acceptance.

TORTISE_webThe third novel, Tortoise Stew, explores further this notion of trying to reach understanding and acceptance even in the face of differences. “If we’re all shouting, who’s listening?” It presents Kelly Sands, a reporter investigating politically explosive environmental issues in the town of Calloway. The story opens with her staring at a bomb meant to scare her away from her investigation. Armadillos and gopher tortoise fall victim to an all out warfare surrounding the development of Florida, while a commissioner is murdered and his wife commits suicide. In this atmosphere of ruthlessness, how can cooler minds prevail, to form a sane solution?

Taken together, these three novels showcase Zick’s gift as a master weaver. They are smartly constructed, rich with detail, and offer both enlightenment and delight.

Click here to grab your copy.

 

 

Reality Creeps Into Fiction – #DeepwaterHorizon

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Oil spread to the beaches where sea turtle hatchlings would soon make their way into the oil-laden waters in 2010.

 

Five years ago today, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon caught on fire.  Even though the newscasters downplayed its significance that morning, I felt a black cloud deepen. I’d just moved to southwestern Pennsylvania where news of the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster a few hours away in West Virginia still dominated local news. Twenty-nine men died in that explosion on April 5.

We soon learned that BP’s project in the Gulf of Project gushed uncappable oil and eleven men lost their lives. As I’ve done for the past two decades, when something bothers me, I start to write. The result from my sorrow and unease with both disasters resulted in the novel, Trails in the Sand.  The novel serves as a reminder of two preventable disasters that occurred within two weeks of one another in 2010. Forty men died and countless wildlife and their habitats were injured or destroyed. Both events touched my life in some way and both made their way into the writing of Trails in the Sand.

When the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia exploded, twenty-nine miners, doing their job in the bowels of the earth, lost their lives. Subsequent reports showed the company ignored safety regulations, which played an important role in the explosion. At the time, I was in the process of moving from Florida to western Pennsylvania. The mine is located several hours from my new home, so the local media covered the disaster continually for the next few weeks. The national news also kept its eye turned toward a small town in West Virginia where families mourned their husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, and cousins. After April 20, the lens of the cameras shifted to the southwest.

The news began as a whimper before erupting into cries of outrage. An oil rig somewhere off the coast of Louisiana caught on fire on April 20, 2010. Soon the whole rig collapsed, and eleven men never made it out alive. Oil gushed from a well several miles below the Gulf’s surface.

As I made the transition to Pennsylvania, I still held my job in Florida, although I was in the process of leaving. I was a public relations director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I made the trip back and forth sixteen times in 2010. I conducted meetings from a cell phone in airports, highway rest areas, and at a dining room table from our small temporary apartment in Pittsburgh.

Every time I started to give my two-week notice to my supervisors, something happened, and my wildlife biologist bosses pleaded with me to stay. During a crisis, the spokesperson for a company or agency suddenly becomes a very important part of the team. Scientists become speechless when looking in the face of a microphone.

Nothing much happened in those early days of the oil spill for the wildlife community, although as a communications specialist I prepared for worst-case scenarios, while hoping for the best. Partnerships between national and state agencies formed to manage information flowing to the media. By May, some of the sea turtle experts began worrying about the nesting turtles on Florida’s Panhandle beaches, right where the still gushing oil might land. In particular, the scientists worried that approximately 50,000 hatchlings might be walking into oil-infested waters if allowed to enter the Gulf of Mexico after hatching from the nests on the Gulf beaches.

seaturtle4An extraordinary and unprecedented plan became reality, and as the scientists wrote the protocols, the plan was “in direct response to an unprecedented human-caused disaster.”

When the nests neared the end the incubation period, plans were made to dig up the nests and transport the eggs across the state to Cape Canaveral, where they would be stored until the hatchlings emerged from the eggs. Then they would receive a royal walk to the sea away from the oil-drenched waters of the Gulf.

aptopix-gulf-oil-spill-1fee0422a0df6673The whole project reeked with the scent of drama, ripe for the media to descend on Florida for reports to a public hooked on the images of oiled wildlife. Since I was in transition in my job, they appointed me to handle all media requests that came to the national and state agencies regarding the plan. From my new office in Raccoon Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, I began coordinating media events and setting up interviews with the biologists.

As the project began in June 2010, I began writing Trails in the Sand. At first, I created the characters and their situations. Then slowly I began writing about the oil crisis and made the main character, Caroline, an environmental reporter who covered the sea turtle relocation project. Then suddenly I was writing about her husband, Simon, who mourned the loss of his cousin in the coal mine disaster in West Virginia. I didn’t make a conscious effort to tie together the environmental theme with the family saga unfolding, but before too long, I realized they all dealt with restoration and redemption of things destroyed. As a result, the oil spill and the sea turtles became a metaphor for the destruction caused by Caroline and her family.

I’m a firm believer in the subject choosing the author. When that happens, it’s best to let the muse lead me to the keyboard and let it the words find their way to the story. Trails in the Sand stands as my testament to the process.

3-D1Trails in the Sand synopsis

When environmental writer Caroline Carlisle sets off to report on endangered sea turtles during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the last thing she expects is to uncover secrets – secrets that threaten to destroy her family, unless she can heal the hurts from a lifetime of lies. To make matters worse, Caroline’s love for her late sister’s husband, Simon, creates an uproar in a southern family already set on a collision course with its past.

Using real-life events as the backdrop, Trails in the Sand explores the fight to restore balance and peace, in nature and in a family, as both spiral toward disaster. Through it all, the ancient sea turtle serves a reminder that life moves forward despite the best efforts to destroy it.

3-D2

 

 

Florida Fiction Series – New Review

ffs_boxset_final I’d like to share with you a recent review from my Florida Fiction Series. I love it when others call me a storyteller. That’s my job, but it’s always nice to be recognized as such by someone else. It’s been a discouraging year where my book sales are concerned, but for some reason, I continue to write. And I continue to tell stories. I don’t know if my friends and family tire of it, but if they do they’re too polite to tell me. So for now, I’ll let someone else tell the story for me. From author Uvi Poznansky, here’s a review for three novels all created with the intention of telling the reader a great story.

PC Zick is a unique storyteller. Her female protagonists are energetic fighters, tackling conflicts within their families and society. Their thoughts reflect what’s in her heart: a caring for a place (hence the name of the series, Florida fiction), a sense of awe when history is unraveled, and a deep passion for a cause, all of which propel them through the twists and turns of the plot, seeking a way to arrive at resolution. Writing in bursts of dialogue, and in short chapters that often alternate in time, she takes it upon herself to weave together political and social strands with familial ones, to create a rich, complex tapestry as the backdrop for her stories. That is why they ring true in the deepest sense of the word. Her dedication on the opening page of Tortoise Stew says it all: “For all the underdogs who fight for justice because it’s the right thing to do.”

In the first novel, Native Lands, the story alternates between two time frames: 1760, where we meet Locka—son of a native tribe in Florida, who suffers the loss of his wife and finds himself attracted to the beautiful Mali—and the present, where we meet Emily Booth, the mother of a difficult teen and the wife of a political candidate Daniel, and the columnist Barbara Evans, who writes about environmental issues. In both time frames, the author bases her writing on in-depth research to create detailed, convincing realities in a manner that highlights the contrasts between past and present.

3-D1Set on Florida’s panhandle and the east coast near St. Augustine, the second novel, Trails in the Sand, presents Caroline, a woman faced with challenges on two levels: her family and her environment. On the family level, she uncovers family secrets–murder, incest, and pregnancies—secrets that went unspoken for as long as three generations back. Going forward, these secrets threaten to unsettle the shaky balance between her, her husband, and his daughter, as they struggle to reach for each other and find forgiveness. On the environment level, they must pull their efforts together, to rescue sea turtles that are threatened by extinction due to environmental hazards brought on by society. In Zick’s writing, the family and environment issue are interconnected: the night scene on a beach near Cape Canaveral, when the sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea, is moving on both levels at once. It left trails in the sand, in a direction which for me, evoked hope for a future founded on understanding and acceptance.

TORTISE_webThe third novel, Tortoise Stew, explores further this notion of trying to reach understanding and acceptance even in the face of differences. “If we’re all shouting, who’s listening?” It presents Kelly Sands, a reporter investigating politically explosive environmental issues in the town of Calloway. The story opens with her staring at a bomb meant to scare her away from her investigation. Armadillos and gopher tortoise fall victim to an all out warfare surrounding the development of Florida, while a commissioner is murdered and his wife commits suicide. In this atmosphere of ruthlessness, how can cooler minds prevail, to form a sane solution?

Taken together, these three novels showcase Zick’s gift as a master weaver. They are smartly constructed, rich with detail, and offer both enlightenment and delight.

Click here to grab your copy.

I hope you’re staying safe and warm on this treacherous weekend here in Pennsylvania. It’s a good chance to stay inside and read. Here’s two other box sets that might interest you. Heroes to Swoon For is available for $.99 cents and At Odds with Destiny is available to pre-order also for $.99 cents. Release date set for March 3.

Click cover to pre-order

47a53-heroes2bto2bswoon2bfor_3d_medium

Native Lands Released Today!

It’s an exciting day for me–one eight years in the making. Native Lands is now a reality. It went from Connecting the Dots in its original form in 2006 when I participated in a Novel in a Month group. My month stretched out into 100 months, but I did take a break from it in 2007 and didn’t return to it until earlier this year when I retitled it Safe Harbors, but there are many books with that phrase in the title. Since the book is about Native Americans–the Timucuans of north Florida–I decided to go with Native Lands because it encompasses the themes of the novel. I hope you’ll read about the book and perhaps even decide to read it! Enter the Giveaway below for the first two books in the Florida Fiction Series. Native Lands is the third and final(?) book.

Native Lands by P.C. Zick
Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted
parallels between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read.

Christoph Fischer, Author
Native Lands is a novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to
be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage. They join with others willing
to sacrifice everything to save further destruction of the Everglades and St.
Augustine.
Forbidden loves, deceptions, and murder threaten to destroy
nature and families in a saga stretching from the 1760s to the present day.
Join Locka and Mali as they lead their tribe of Timucuans
away from the Spanish near St. Augustine in 1760 and settle into a new life in
the Everglades alongside the Calusa Indians. Their progeny grow up in the
Everglades, attempting to keep their bloodlines pure.
By 2010, Mangrove Mike, Joey Cosmos, and Rob Zodiac live
among the white people and learn that the human connection transcends the fear
of extinction of their people. Barbara Evans in the Everglades and Emily Booth
in St. Augustine are the glue as the different cultures combine forces to fight
a conglomerate of international interests.
It’s a dangerous journey as this oddly matched group attempts
to halt the destruction of the natural world they treasure. Cultural boundaries
established centuries ago are erased as love and nature seek the balance lost
during the battle for power and control of the last of the Florida frontier.
P.C. Zick is the
author of several contemporary novels. Native
Lands
is the third book in her Florida Fiction Series, which also includes Tortoise Stew and Trails in the Sand. She may be contacted through her website at
http://www.pczick.com.

Barbara Evans sat in the living room of her house on the western edge of Chokoloskee Island, leafing through past issues of Sierra magazine, searching for an idea for her next column. She listened to the news from the television, only looking up when the local weather presented NOAA’s prediction for an active hurricane season. Then the newscaster began a report that caused Barbara to put down the magazine and devote her full attention to the screen.

“Yesterday, wood storks in Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area attacked a young boy as his mother shot this video of the assault,” the announcer said.

Barbara watched as a boy, approximately ten years old, was crying as a wood stork’s beak poked at the Mickey Mouse portrait stamped on the front of his T-shirt. Another stork approached and began nudging the foam snout of the alligator hat on the boy’s head. A man ran into the frame of the video, yelling and scaring off the wood storks as the boy howled.

“Officers from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission are handling the situation. Here to talk with us is the agency’s spokesperson, Larry Castle. Larry, what’s your agency doing to make sure the tourists are safe in the Everglades?”

“Along with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we’re asking residents and visitors to our great state to keep their distance from wildlife,” Larry said, wearing a green shirt and hat with the logo from the state’s fish and wildlife agency. “They shouldn’t feed wildlife or make any attempts to capture or touch them.”

“The parents say the wood storks just came up and attacked their child,” the newscaster said.

“Wildlife usually keeps to itself unless tempted by food. We’re investigating, but the safest thing anyone can do is to enjoy wildlife from a distance with a zoom lens on the camera.

“Thank you, Larry. The family told us they are cutting short their vacation because of this unwarranted aviary violence. Governor Rick Scott offered the family a week’s stay in Miami to make up for the attack, but the family declined the offer.”

“My son may never get over this attack.” The mother, wearing a white visor with a Minnie Mouse label on the front, appeared on the screen. “His favorite hat is now in shreds in the swamp. It has been one horrible experience.”

The newscaster came back on the screen. “The video of the attack was recorded by the mother on her cell phone.”

Barbara ran her fingers through her short curly red hair, and with the other hand reached for her phone to call Stan Hogan, her editor at The Miami Herald.

“Stan, I’ve got to write the story about the wood stork attacking the family at Big Cypress,” Barbara said. “You’ve got to let me do it.”

“If I let you write the article, it’s off limits for your column,” Stan said. “You write an objective piece, but no editorializing. Agreed?”

“Then I can write a column about it in a few weeks.”

“No. You’ve been hired as a columnist. If you want to go back to reporting, then we’ll start you on covering the commission meetings in the communities around Lake Okeechobee.”

“Come on, Stan. You know I can write a good piece. I don’t know why you won’t let me.”

“That’s my final say on the subject. You write your column or you start working the Glades County beat.”

“All right, all right.” Barbara knew being assigned the rural beat near the shores of Lake Okeechobee amounted to a death sentence for a writer. “The column is better because I can ask, ‘why the hell was the mother recording the attack instead of protecting her child?’ The kid deserved getting attacked just for wearing that stupid alligator hat. Tell them to pull the column I wrote for this week. I’ll have the new one to you later this afternoon.”

“No ‘those tourists deserved it’ crap. You got me into a load of trouble with that last piece about the pigeons and doves at that wedding in Disney World. One of the copy editors should have caught the line ‘anyone who chooses to get married in the land of Mickey Mouse deserves dead doves floating down during the vows.’”

“I can’t help it if nature keeps biting back,” Barbara said. “Just be sure they pull my old column.”

 

P.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She’s won
various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She
describes herself as a “storyteller” no matter the genre.
She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. Even though she now
resides in western Pennsylvania with her husband Robert, she finds the stories
of Florida and its people and environment a rich base for her storytelling
platform. Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply
her fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable.
She writes two blogs, P.C. Zick
and Living Lightly. She has published
three nonfiction books and six novels.
Her writing contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love
to the environment. In her novels, she advances the cause for wildlife
conservation and energy conservation. She believes in living lightly upon this
earth with love, laughter, and passion.

Works by P.C. Zick

Florida
Fiction Series
Tortoise Stew (Florida Fiction Series, Book 1) –
Politics, murder, and chaos in rural Florida reign supreme in a story where
love triumphs over it all.
Trails in the Sand (Florida Fiction Series, Book 2) –
Family secrets, an oil spill, and redemption create a roller coaster ride for
journalist Caroline Carlisle.
Native Lands
(Florida Fiction Series,
Book 3)
– A novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native
Americans, thought to be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage.
Other Fiction:

A Lethal Legacy (Psychological
Suspense) – A fascinating study of
human expectations, failings, and redemption filled with lust and forbidden
lovers.

Live from the Road (Fiction takes the reader on an often humorous, yet
harrowing, journey as Meg Newton and Sally Sutton seek a change in the mundane
routine of their lives. Joined by their daughters, they set off on a journey of
salvation enhanced by the glories of the Mother Road.
Behind the Altar (Romance – Behind the Love Trilogy,
Book 1) – All seems perfect in Leah’s life until tattoo artist Dean rides his
Harley into her heart in this story of forbidden love.
Nonfiction
From Seed to Table (Blog posts) Gardening techniques, organic gardening, canning vegetables, and
recipes galore
Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier (Memoir nonfiction) – My great
grandfather’s journal from his days as a soldier. It’s a personal account of
war and all its sundry causes and effects from the eyes of a man who fought it.
Odyssey to Myself (Essays nonfiction): The people of
Morocco, Italy, Panama, and Chile come to life through the experiences of the
author as she absorbs the cultures so different from her own.

 

 

Links:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Wednesday – John Hazen

???????????????????????????????Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I interview John Hazen who is now fulfilling his dream of writing novels. He’s working on his fifth book, but today he’s going to talk about his latest novel, Fava, an action thriller filled with intrigue and plot twists. Fava poster front

Hello, John. I’m glad you stopped by today. Your latest novel sounds very exciting, but before we talk about that why don’t you tell readers a little bit about your writing life. What are your writing rituals?

Other than a need for copious amounts of coffee, I can’t say I have many writing rituals. In fact, I’m quite undisciplined as a writer, which can be both a blessing and a curse. I’m not an outliner; the story creates itself as I progress. I have a general theme, an overall concept, and an ultimate outcome, but the details work themselves out along the way. I like to believe that as a result my writing doesn’t come out formulaic or predictable.

I work a bit like you do. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who writes that way. Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.

In real life, my professional career has been in environmental protection, so Rachel Carson holds a special place in my heart. But more germane to the question, I believe she’s correct: the subjects have chosen me for each of the four novels I’ve written. Two of my books emerged from unanswerable questions that swirled around in my head for years. Fava (Black Rose Writing, 2014): “What would happen if a “Pillar of Islam” were to be removed?” and, Aceldama (as yet unpublished): “What if a person were to stumble upon one of Judas’s thirty pieces of silver?” The subject presented itself in a different way for my novel Journey of an American Son, (to be released by Black Rose Writing in November 2014). I found a diary my grandfather kept on a 1920 business trip he took going from Boston to Calcutta, India. At that time, travel was somewhat arduous; he traveled by train, boat, car, and even rickshaw. Along the way he encountered lepers, geishas, and silent film starlets. It struck me as a great starting point for a novel.

I’m impressed by so much of what you said in that answer! We have a lot in common, since all my novels tend to have an environmental theme, and Rachel Carson is one of my heroes. I love the idea of your grandfather’s diary. What an experience. I can’t wait to read it. Do you have a favorite character that you created?

All my characters are like my children and what type of parent would I be if I favored one over another? Seriously though, one of my favorite things is when I introduce a minor character simply to advance the plot but, as I continue writing, that character grows before my eyes. Soon he or she becomes a major figure, integral to the book itself. In Fava, Special Agent Will Allen was introduced as a roadblock for the protagonist, Francine Vega, to overcome but eventually he teams with her to help save the world. In Journey of an American Son, Walter Jones was Ben Albert’s sergeant during the First World War, but I bring him back to help Ben’s wife in her attempts to free her husband from jail in Calcutta after he is framed for murder. These characters tend to be my richest because I’m developing them for myself as well as for the reader.
I also like to take famous historical figures and peel away the myths that surround them to show them as real human beings. The three characters I’ve dealt with thus far are Ulysses S. Grant, Mahatma Gandhi, and Judas Iscariot!

You pulled in the big guns. What’s your one sentence pitch for Fava?

Can a beautiful, talented New York TV reporter thwart a maniacal plot to exact the ultimate revenge for 9-11 before it plunges the world into war?

That’s a great hook. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

A review of Fava by Midwest Book Reviews contained all the things an author likes to hear: “terrific premise,” “holds the reader’s entertained attention from beginning to end,” “very highly recommended,” but the part the got me the most was when they noted it was “deftly written.” High praise indeed. On a local level, I did a book signing at a bookstore, and they posted the event on Twitter. A man I’d never met retweeted it saying I was one of his favorite writers, and he was glad they were supporting me. Made my day, I must say.

That’s a great thing, for sure. How did you choose the title?

The title Fava didn’t become apparent to me until about half way through the book. In fact, the reader won’t become aware of what the title means until exactly the same time, which I think is kind of neat.

I like that. I can’t wait to figure it out. If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose?

My favorite all-time book is To Kill a Mockingbird so I’d love to meet Harper Lee, but I know how much she cherishes her privacy, and I would be reluctant to invade on that privacy. So, the two I would pick are J.K. Rowling and Doris Kearns Goodwin. I am in such awe of the Harry Potter series. It would be such a thrill just being able to converse with the person who could create such a world. I’ve loved a number of Kearns Goodwin’s books. No Ordinary Time is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Also, I’ve seen her on news programs. She’s so interesting and knowledgeable on so many subjects that I’d imagined she be a wonderful dinner companion.

Excellent choices. I’d like to know why Harper Lee never wrote another book! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, John. I hope you’ll come back when your next book is published. And I promise to move Fava up high on my TBR list.

 

JohnHazenAbout John Hazen – John began writing novels relatively late in life, but once he started he hasn’t looked back. Inspired by Lynn, his wife of more than thirty years, he pursued the dream of becoming an author and is now working on his fifth book as well as several screenplays. Degrees from Rutgers, The New School and NYU— and a lifelong passion for learning and a love of history—influence him as a writer.

 

 

Links to books and social media sites

Website: www.johnwhazen.com

Fava: www.blackrosewriting.com/suspensethriller/fava

Dear Dad: http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Dad-Novel-John-Hazen/dp/1466394757/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406855185&sr=8-1&keywords=dear+dad+hazen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/john_hazen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/john.hazen.92?fref=ts

#Florida Setting for My Novels

Florida Setting 1I’m featured today on Francis Guenette’s blog Disappearing in Plain Sight in a guest post on the location of my novels. Please check it out and Francis’s wonderful review of Trails in the Sand. 3-D1

 

Click here for the guest post and the insightful blog.

 

Author Wednesday – Francis Guenette

typewriter.jpgIt’s Author Wednesday time once again. I’m so excited when I can welcome back a favorite author because she’s published a new book. Today I welcome back Francis Guenette who visited for an interview in November, and whose book Disappearing in Plain Sight, I reviewed back then as well. It is with great pleasure to bring Francis back for another interview, this time to discuss her new novel The Light Never Lies, a sequel to her first novel, both of which are contemporary fiction that deal with family issues and romance. The Light Never Lies - 3-D bookcover

Before we begin the interview, Francis is offering some prizes to celebrate the release of The Light Never Lies. Two softcover copies of The Light Never Lies will be mailed to the lucky winners. One for the blog host who achieves the greatest engagement with the post and one commenter – a name of a commenter drawn from a hat which includes all commenters on the blog tour. So please comment freely to win your copy. And look for my review of The Light Never Lies on Book Review Friday.

Welcome, Francis. It’s so wonderful to have you back for Author Wednesday. Let’s tell readers a bit about your new book. What’s the one sentence pitch for The Light Never Lies?

If Disappearing in Plain Sight, the first book in the Crater Lake Series, was about how a group of people get over a devastating loss and move on with their lives, The Light Never Lies is about the messiness that is the inevitable consequence of moving on.

Yes, we must deal with those messes! How did you choose the title? Was it the title from the very beginning?

There were a few common themes that emerged early in the writing process – a young boy’s special ability, the play of the light on water, and how light relates to photography.

How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published product?

The book took one year. Here’s how that year broke down: two months doing research, notes and outlining; three months on the first draft; a month to let that draft rest; a month to do rewrites; two months working with my editor; two months of proofreading and final changes; and an intense month of formatting and preparing for publication.

You did well to keep to such a tight schedule. What is the message conveyed in this book?

Starting over is always possible, people do change, relationships can be rewritten and redefined and the concept of family is one we create as we go.

Those are some of my favorite messages as well. Explain how this book was conceived in your imagination.

Since The Light Never Lies is a sequel, most of the characters were already there, fully-developed and waiting for me to write the next chapters of their lives. I saw so much more conflict and ultimately growth for them. I started to examine the hard-fought ground they had gained for themselves in the first book so I could rip it out from under them. Being a writer is sometimes a cruel endeavor!

That’s the truth, but what fun it is to allow our characters to grow. What type of research did you do in the writing of this book?

With The Light Never Lies, I wanted to bring the reader right into the sawmill-woodlot operation and the organic bakery. I had to delve deeper, with research into each of those settings. I also did research for a particular character who had been a Native activist throughout most of his life. The places I wanted him to have been and the things I wanted him to have done needed to line up with his age and his appearances in other characters’ lives. This character needed to be able to speak convincingly about those places and situations.

I can tell readers that your research shines through in this book. Who or what is the antagonist in your book? Did you enjoy creating this character?

Both my books are written from the perspective of several characters. Depending on the reader, the protagonist and thus the antagonist shifts. In the interest of brevity, let’s assume Lisa-Marie, the feisty yet troubled and, at times, troublesome teenager, is the main character. She is the character who appears on the first page of both books, so there is a good case for her being the protagonist. In the first book, that meant Izzy, the poised and self-assured trauma counselor was the antagonist as she stood in the way of Lisa-Marie getting the guy of her dreams. In The Light Never Lies, the antagonist role shifts from Izzy to her new partner, Liam. He was once Lisa-Marie’s friend, but now he stands in the way of her primary desire to get back to what she considers normal. He is constantly calling her to a responsibility she doesn’t want to assume. I must admit, I do enjoy creating the drama and heartache that goes on in these characters’ lives. All for a good cause, mind you. It’s so nice to pull the characters back into the light – a bit older and wiser.

Interesting – I’ll have to think about that as I finish the book. Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.

My favorite scene is when two of the secondary characters, Maddy and Jesse, say goodbye. They have both been residents of nearby Micah Camp, a facility for troubled foster kids trying to get on with their lives, and they’ve had an intense relationship. A parting of the ways was inevitable. Even the thought of that scene makes me feel weepy.

What else do you want readers to know about your new book?

The view that inspires the writing

The view that inspires the writing

If you haven’t read Disappearing in Plain Sight – no problems. The Light Never Lies is a stand-alone book, but expect to be hit with a large number of characters at the start. Rest assured though, everyone is necessary and all story lines tie together and find resolution by the end. Both books will make you laugh out-loud and sniffle now and then. You’ll come away from the reading wishing you could know these people and visit the fictional setting of Crater Lake. But since you can’t do that, you might consider a vacation to the northern end of Vancouver Island for a little taste of what you’ve experienced.

I’d love to visit. The setting is beautiful in both of these books, but I really want Izzy’s house. I’m so happy you stopped by again, Francis. It’s always a pleasure.

Francis Guenette - author photoAbout Francis: Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor, and researcher. The Light Never Lies is her second novel. Francis blogs over at http://disappearinginplainsight.com and maintains a Facebook author page. Please stop by and say hello.

Click here for Amazon page for The Light Never Lies (U.S.)

Canada

UK

Blog Disappearing in Plain Sight

 

Real Life Seeps into #Fiction

Click here to grab Kindle copy for .99 cents during April

Click here to grab Kindle copy for .99 cents during April

I’m often asked if real life seeps into my novels. As we head into the anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, I’ve thought about how much of my life seeped into the writing of Trails in the Sand.

During April 2010, two significant manmade disasters occurred in the United States. Both of the tragedies became a part of my life for the remainder of the year and led me to question how we live our lives. It took me some months to make the connection between the two events, but when I did, they both found a home in Trails in the Sand, the novel I began writing in late 2010.

The first tragedy occurred on April 5, when a coal mine exploded in West Virginia, several hours away from my new home in western Pennsylvania. Twenty-nine miners, trapped inside the mine, died that day. The local Pittsburgh news carried very little else as hope ebbed and flowed on the first days after the explosion. But finally, on April 9, the governor of West Virginia made a tragic announcement. All twenty-nine miners were dead and had not made it to the safety room as hoped. My husband works with the mining industry in his job as an engineer with a water solutions company. He knows the coal mining industry very well so we kept our eyes and ears tuned to the news, first hopeful as everyone else, and then, more than curious about how and why the explosion occurred in the first place. The answers became clear in the months following the deaths. The company, Massey Energy, had cut corners in safety procedures. The resulting reports are gruesome and indictments are still coming down for the highest echelon in a company that for a long time flagrantly disregarded the safety standards for coal mining.

Macondo well gushes oil after Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns and falls

Macondo well gushes oil after Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns and falls

Two weeks later, all eyes turned to the southeast of West Virginia when another explosion caused an oil rig to catch on fire and fall to the ground, exposing a deep well in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. On April 20, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill explosion killed eleven workers. For months, oil gushed out of the well unabated. Petroleum headed for the Gulf beaches. Within a few weeks, wildlife began appearing on the barrier islands covered and smothered in oil. The photos of birds immersed in a wet suit of petroleum played continuously on the news and horrified the world.

Even though I’d moved in Pittsburgh in April 2010, I was still working for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a public/media relations director until they found my replacement. The oil spill and the threat to Florida’s wildlife put my departure on hold for months. As I watched the news unfold about what caused the mine explosion from my home in Pittsburgh, I was fielding media calls, writing news releases, and pulling together facts sheets on oiled wildlife. By June, I was appointed to handle all the media during the sea turtle nest relocation project where 250 nests were dug up on the Panhandle beaches of Florida and eggs were transported to the Atlantic side of Florida for hatching and release. The project was unprecedented and received the attention of national and international media.

It didn’t take long for a culprit in the oil spill to have a name: BP. Once again, a large corporation sacrificed human and environmental safety in the pursuit of profit. My mind was churning and mulling over the connection between the two events.

In my spare time, I began writing a love story called In the Garden about two people reunited after a long separation. The subject began to have a life of its own. I wanted to write about my mother who died in 1998. Through various tidbits I’d gleaned over the years, I suspected that my mother gave birth when she was a teenager back in 1933 or ’34. I researched as best I could. I interviewed her only living sibling in 2011 and went through writings left by my mother and her father, my grandfather. My grandfather had been a miner in Cornwall until he came to the United States in 1900. When he arrived, he went to work in the copper mines in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before giving his life to God and entering the ministry of the Methodist Church. Yes, my mother most likely became pregnant in a small Michigan town at the age of fifteen or sixteen, and she was the daughter of the Methodist minister. It scarred my mother for life, and in turn, it left its mark on her five children. I’ve spent my life recovering as I attempted to piece together my mother’s story.

female loggerhead

female loggerhead

With all of these events and life histories swirling in my head, I changed the course of my novel and renamed it Trails in the Sand. I wanted to write a book about how we destroy things and then attempt to recover and restore, if possible. It begins with a teenager on a beach watching a sea turtle lay a nest on St. George Island, Florida.

The chapters on the BP oil spill and the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster are from actual news clips and press releases. I used a description from my grandfather’s journal to describe the early years of the patriarch in the story. My mother’s story is weaved into the story as well. The main character, Caroline Carlisle is an environmental writer who sets out to write about the sea turtle project.

That’s how my novel came to life. I wrote Trails in the Sand to show it’s never too late to restore and recover from tragedy, and it’s never too late to find love.

How about you? Does real life seep into your fiction?