PTSD – IT’S A REAL AND PRESENT DANGER

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Two Parkland shooting survivors are no longer surviving. A father of a Sandy Hook victim took his life this past week as well. These are the very real and present dangers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that affect anyone who has suffered a trauma directly or peripherally.

My first introduction to PTSD occurred back in 2004 when I was contacted by a man and his wife who wanted help telling their story. Their therapist thought writing might help them both recover from the debilitating effects of PTSD. They found an article I’d written in a magazine in the doctor’s office and gave me a call. The first time they called, they were tentative and wouldn’t even tell me what had happened to them that had left them traumatized.

I met with them at a coffee shop. They were reluctant to talk. So, I did what I sometimes do when I’m nervous. I chattered. I told them about my life which had taken a major hit in the past three years. Something about my honesty made them trust me, and they told me their story. As I listened to their tale, I realized I too had been suffering from PTSD symptoms ever since the murder of my two great nieces by their mother in 2001.

I wrote the book for Brent and Barbara Swan and went through their horrific experience with them, which helped us all. Brent had worked for Chevron in the 1990s as a helicopter mechanic. He was stationed in Angola . He’d do six weeks on and six weeks at home. There was a small faction who’d formed an unrecognized government because they wanted the proceeds from the oil production to come to them. One morning as Brent drove to the airfield, he was kidnapped by the rebel government and held hostage for sixty days or “two moons” as he viewed his time in captivity. The U.S. government had strict guidelines about not negotiating with terrorists. Chevron had to work on his release undercover. The rebels loved Brent because he acquiesced and was a good prisoner even though they loaded up their AK-47s each morning next to his bed so he could never forget he was a hostage.

When the release was negotiated, the rebels gave Brent an honorary citizenship certificate with all their signatures. They gave him a map of all their camps, and group photos with their hostage. Brent turned it all over upon his release to the authorities.

And nothing happened. No arrests. Nothing. Brent came home and resumed a life as normal as he could. Six or seven years passed and 9/11 happened. Then all of a sudden the U.S. government became intent on bringing all known terrorists to trial. They started with the head of Brent’s kidnapping team and then the feds called Brent and told him he was the star witness.

Brent and his wife Barbara went into full survival mode PTSD when he had to travel to Washington, DC, and face his kidnapper and testify. Brent fell apart at the trial and afterwards. Barbara didn’t fare much better. When I met them in 2004, they were struggling to pull themselves out of the trenches of psychological warfare. After that initial meeting, I didn’t hear from them for more than a year.

Then I wrote their book, Two Moons in Africa (Patricia Camburn Behnke)Today I’m happy to say they are better but still living with the quirks that come from the PTSD.

My PTSD reasserts itself in times of stress or sometimes just because it can. In the past, I’ve dealt with it by writing about things other than the trauma I experienced back in 2001 and 2002. But this winter when it returned with panic attacks and depression, I decided it was time to write about how the deaths of loved ones has had an impact on me and how I cope with life’s irregularities. So far, my own self-imposed therapy is working.

I will have to finish the book before I decide if I’ll publish or not. It might turn out i’m simply writing for myself unless I see benefit to others going through similar situations.

As the news of the suicides hit this week , I considered what we can do to help those who suffer after trauma. Staying silent is not an option. Here’s a few things without even researching or digging very deep.

  • If someone doesn’t show signs of trauma after an event, it doesn’t mean she isn’t feeling isolated and alone in her fear, paranoia, grief. Without being a pest, keep her on your radar with calls, texts, cards, and/or visits. Any acts of reaching out to show her she isn’t alone may be just the thing they need.
  • Let him talk about the tragedy if he brings it up. Too many times if I tried to talk about the murders, others changed the subject. One person has told me several times he can’t deal with hearing about it because it’s too sad. Other people tell me they don’t want me to get upset by talking about it. It’s upsetting when it’s ignored, and we all should remembered that.
  • Each of us has our own timetable for grief and mourning. Do not attempt to dictate what you believe to be the proper time for someone to be over “it.” It only makes the grieving person feel as if something is wrong with her.
  • Don’t discount how a traumatic event has affected another person. Soon after I returned to work after the murders, a co-worker said to me, “Why are you so upset? It didn’t happen to you.” That set me back in my healing process by years. I still hear that voice in my head in the worst of times.

There are more I’m sure, but those are the immediate ones. Share any others you might have by leaving a comment. It can only do good because the alternative only creates another opportunity for PTSD to take hold of another life.

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Writing Again with Pleasure

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Cross Creek

Patience. Faith. And a little bit of nature.

A few weeks ago, I admitted I hadn’t been writing. It must have done the trick because soon after I sat myself down in the chair, bed, couch, recliner–wherever it felt right–and picked back up with Love on Track.

Some bits of inspiration have come from enjoying the beauty of a winter in Florida by kayaking and hiking. For me, connecting with nature restores me and gives me hope. The best of all the paddles occurred when I went to Cross Creek and toured Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings home where she wrote The Yearling, South Moon Under, and Cross Creek to mention just a few of her many books. I’ve visited the place, now a Florida State Park, previously, but this time I ventured out onto the actual Creek in my kayak.

Mostly my husband and I paddled in silence in awe of the drooping live oaks with branches free from leaves but not the Spanish moss which gives rural north Florida its special charm even in the dead of winter. But still flowers bloomed on the banks, birds flew and fed nearby, and fishermen in simple boats lazily floated on the crossroad between two large lakes, Lochloosa and Orange.

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J.T. Glisson in The Creek says the name “Cross Creek” may be because its the path joining the two lakes. But then again, he speculates it could come from the attitude of its residents. We didn’t find that to be true.

Click here to download two of my essays about Rawlings and her inspiration for my writing life. And happy Valentine’s Day and happy reading and writing.

 

 

A Perfect 10 with P.C. Zick

Source: A Perfect 10 with P.C. Zick

I’m featured on Don Massenzio’s blog today.

It’s the dog days of summer so it’s time for some sweet deals!

FREE downloads for the next two weeks for the books in the Behind the Love series

Behind the Altar – FREE August 14-16

Behind the Bar – FREE August 17-18

Behind the Curtain – FREE August 22-23

Behind the Door – FREE August 24-25 (New release)

Behind the Love -Social Media

 

 

WRITING ABOUT CHRISTMAS IN THE SUMMER AND BEGINNING ANEW

A Merry Mountain Christmas web low resI wrote a novel and a novella this summer. A Merry Mountain Christmas was created as the temperatures soared to near nineties every day and humidity nearly has high. I had to close my eyes and imagine what it looked like in the mountains with a soft coating of snow. It wasn’t as difficult as you might imagine.

Mountain Miracles (release date: September 13) and A Merry Mountain Christmas, Books 3 and 4 in my Smoky Mountain Romance series, gave me a unique opportunity as a writer. The Christmas book was written for the new Christmas Pets and Kisses 2 box set (release date:  October 11)CPK2-3D-transparent and had a hard deadline. Mountain Miracles was written to provide the gap between the last one, Misty Mountain, and the new one for the set. The deadline was all my own.

mountainmiraclesnewSo I began Mountain Miracles with an idea of where I wanted it to end up for A Merry Mountain Christmas. Except it didn’t go as quickly as I had anticipated. I had written three-quarters of the novel when I looked at the calendar and realized I had only a month to write the Christmas novella. So I left the work in progress and moved forward and wrote A Merry Mountain Christmas. The plots depend on one another so it was actually easier than I thought and helped me write a richer storyline for both of the books. At least I hope I accomplished that for the reader. It feels that way as the writer.

I’ll be posting more about both of these books and the box set in the coming weeks. Usually, I like to take a break between projects, but that’s not possible this year. I’m working on another Christmas novella, but I’m having trouble getting into it. I can’t say much about it because it’s for another group project and still a secret, but it’s due December 1 so I better get inspired. The first chapters are written and characters established. It will come.

Then just when I thought I’d be fine, I did something really crazy. I accepted an offer to write a new Valentine story featuring a pet for the Valentine’s Pets and Kisses box set. Due date? December 1.

I’m blessed to have so many projects. Let’s just hope my muse agrees.

Smoky Mountain Romances

Minty's Kiss draft 1_edited-1Minty’s Kiss – Kindle, B&N, Apple, Kobo, Paperback

Misty Mountain – Kindle, B&N, Apple, Kobo, PaperbackMISTY_MOUNTAIN_small

Mountain Miracles – Kindle Unlimited (Preorder, Release: September 13), Paperback

A Merry Mountain Christmas – Paperback only

Christmas Pets & Kisses (2015) – Kindle, B&N, Apple, Kobo

Christmas Pets & Kisses 2 (Release date: October 11, 2016) – Kindle, B&N, Apple, Kobo

 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – ELAINE COUGLER

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Welcome to this edition of Author Wednesday. I’m pleased to present a guest post from author Elaine Cougler, who’s been featured in the past on my blog. She’s the author The Loyalist’s Wife and the The Loyalist’s Luck. She hopes to publish the third in the series in a few months. Today she writes about one of my favorite topics. How do authors manage to write when real life keeps interfering? Here’s how Elaine manages!The Loyalist's Wife_Kindle_1563x2500

Writing Under Adversity

by Elaine Cougler

I’m one of those perfectionist people for whom planning is second nature—well, maybe even first! When I have speaking engagements they go off pretty much like the proverbial clockwork as I plan well in advance and execute my plan. It gives me comfort to know I have with me what I need for all eventualities. I also plan my writing schedule where I write five days a week in the morning, and I work pretty hard not to have that interrupted.

Book Two

Similarly, I had the timing of my second book (The Loyalist’s Luck) launch all figured out. The cover was perfect, the printer was ready to go with a schedule that would allow me to actually have books at my launch, and my interior book designer was on board. By the time I left for my cruise/reward, the book would be off to the printer.

Now the way my book designer works is I send her the completed manuscript and with magic software she puts it into the actual format for a book. No more Word document. Next, my pages come back to be proofed. I read them most carefully and if I find any errors either in my work or in my designer’s work, I print the page, circle the error with the correction, and send a copy of that page back to my designer.

Simple process, right? For the first book the system worked well. For the second book, days passed before I’d get the next batch of pages. This all meant that I had to keep editing and sending corrections to France while I was on the cruise. My schedule till launch was tight. Too tight. And the email on the Alaska cruise ship was not always reliable. Never mind, I got it all corrected and the final proofed pages sent off to my printer, gem that he is, and the book got printed. We do what we must.

Another time when working under adversity could have derailed me was just over a year ago when my younger sister unfortunately lost her battle with cancer. Of course it was an unbelievably sad and stressful time, but every morning I buried myself in my work, revising, rewriting, rereading, and losing myself in the historical fiction world I’d created. You see, I didn’t have to think about the horrors in my real life. I could lose myself in my writing, and for a few blessed hours, forget. Rather than hinder my writing this personal crisis helped me finish my final manuscript.

Five weeks ago I wrote in my blog that maybe I had appendicitis because of the pain in my side while I was working on that post. Two days later I learned the truth. That dreaded disease, shingles, picked me as its next victim. Even though my skin ached and the nerves in my side and abdomen stabbed me constantly I found a way to prop myself in my chair with my hot water bottle and type. Again, I enjoyed the writing because I forgot what was happening in my real life for those two hours that I worked on the rough draft of the third book in the Loyalist trilogy, The Loyalist Legacy.

Writers, then, often have a choice when bad things happen and it is up to us how we face our problems. We can let them steer us completely away from our writing—and I’ve done that many times—or we can ‘man up’ and find the positive in order to keep going. Now that I know this other side to adversity, I’ll choose to work through it more often. I hope you will, too.

ElaineCouglarAbout Elaine Cougler: A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.

 

 

Connect to Elaine by clicking below:

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Click title to purchase

Book 1: The Loyalist’s Wife on Amazon US

Canada

UK

Book 2: The Loyalist’s Luck on Amazon US

Canada

UK

 

 

 

#2015 – A New Start

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I’m not big on resolutions, but I do believe the new year is an opportunity to look back and forward. Then it’s time to get onto the business of NOW.

So first, here’s my look back at what I wrote about my goals for 2014.

1. Establish myself as a best-selling author – I certainly gave it my best effort. I continued establishing social media contacts, and I joined the box set Heroes to Swoon For with ten other authors to make a pretty good stab at best-selling status. 47a53-heroes2bto2bswoon2bfor_3d_medium

2. Finish writing Native Lands and publish it in 2014 – Done!

world travel guide, Morocco, memoir

3. Publish Odyssey to Myself – Another check off the list! 

4. Work on new travel blog, P.C. Zick Travels – OK, so I didn’t work on this one, but I published the essay book! 

5. Establish my editing and formatting business – I started off with a few jobs, but as the year progressed, my own writing and publishing took priority. I am starting off with a few jobs again this year, so contact me if you’re interested in talking about my services.

6. Start a new work in progress by the end of the year – I believe I accomplished this goal. I wrote my first romance, 64Behind the Altar, and published it in September. That novel went into the box set, Heroes to Swoon For. Then I started the next novel in that series, Behind the Bar. I put all of my Florida Fiction Series into a box set in November. ffs_boxset_final

 

That brings me to 2015 and my new goals for the year.

  1. Continue to pursue my writing dreams – This means I continue writing, publishing, and interacting with colleagues and readers. I’ve been given a great gift, and I will honor it and continue toward success as both an author and an entrepreneur.
  2. Finish Behind the Bar – bb_PBOOK005I hope to finish it in January and publish it by mid-year. I also plan to write the third book in the Behind the Love trilogy, Behind the Curtain. It would be nice to get it published by year’s end as well. I’m still participating in the Romance in a Month class, so that should keep me on track with this series.
  3. Continue to participate in box sets with fellow authors – I submitted Native Lands to the box set, At Odds with Destiny, with nine other authors. This should be released in March. I’m signed up with some other romance authors to write a steamy novella, The Hot Boys of Summer, about my beloved and sometimes beleaguered Pittsburgh Pirates. That will come out in June. I’m also participating in a Christmas box set with a pet theme. My novella will star an old and wise cat named Minty. And then if that’s not enough, last night I signed up to participate in a set about wine. Mine is called the Sins of Zin. Release date on this one will be early 2016.
  4. Finish a work in progress, The Learning Curve – I started this years ago, and it’s set on the banks of the Suwanee River so I’m thinking about changing the title to include the famous river. I look forward to getting back to this novel which will probably turn into a murder mystery–my first attempt at that genre.
  5. Continue to grow as a writer – This includes honing my craft, expanding my horizons by attempting different genres, and learning all I can about the art of writing compelling fiction.
  6. Assist my fellow Indie Authors, as well as those going the traditional route and those who are still trying to figure out which way to go – In 2014, I almost stopped doing Author Wednesday. But then I received such wonderful feedback from the authors I’ve featured, that I kept going, and I’m glad I did. It’s an easy way to give back and help others, and I’ve met some wonderful folks in doing so. I will also continue to write my reviews my way, with positive comments and feedback on the books I read.
  7. Read and then read some more – I have a full Kindle Fire and bookshelves of unread books. It’s one of the best ways to become a better writer.
  8. And finally, I will write, and then I will write some more – I have several novels started with first chapters. I really want to write one about four female friends in their fifties and how they’ve managed to stay friends through husbands, children, divorces, diseases, and deaths. It won’t always be pretty, but it will be real.

My personal goals are to maintain a healthy lifestyle, live with little impact upon the earth, and love others with grace and kindness. Wish me the best!

How about you? What are your goals for 2015? Do you set resolutions? Please leave me a comment – I always love to hear from you.

And thank you for following this blog. I’ve gained some new followers this year, so welcome aboard. I’m grateful for all your support.

 

Author Wednesday – Cate Beauman

???????????????????????????????Today I welcome back the prolific author, Cate Beauman, who has just released her seventh romantic suspense novel in the Bodyguards of LA County series. This is Cate’s third appearance on Author Wednesday. Her body of work is impressive.05 The Bodyguards of LA County Series

Here’s what Cate has to say about Saving Sophie, the newest installment in her bestselling series. 03 Saving Sophie_3D

Stone and Sophie are as opposite as can be—or so it seems—and that’s why telling their story was so much fun! Readers met Stone in Justice For Abby. He’s a gorgeous bad boy, more interested in taking care of himself than worrying about anyone else. Stone’s a hard-ass. There’s no other way to say it, but everyone has an achilles’ heel. That’s what drew me to Ethan Cooke Security’s latest bodyguard. I kept asking myself what type of woman had the power to bring a man like Stone McCabe to his knees. Enter Sophie Burke, a shy jewelry designer dealing with lots of trouble, and you just might have your answer.

I hope you enjoy Sophie and Stone as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Cate

About Saving Sophie

When the only choice is to run…

Jewelry designer Sophie Burke has fled Maine for the anonymity of the big city. She’s starting over with a job she tolerates and a grungy motel room she calls home on the wrong side of town, but anything is better than the nightmare she left behind.

Stone McCabe is Ethan Cooke Security’s brooding bad boy more interested in keeping to himself than anything else—until the gorgeous blond with haunted violet eyes catches his attention late one rainy night.

Stone reluctantly gives Sophie a hand only to quickly realize that the shy beauty with the soft voice and pretty smile has something to hide. Tangled up in her secrets, Stone offers Sophie a solution that has the potential to free her from her problems once and for all—or jeopardize both of their lives.

Read an excerpt from Saving Sophie:

Sophie glanced around one last time at the town she’d called home for more than twelve years as Dylan merged south on the onramp towards Brunswick, knowing she would never come back to the place where she and her mother had made their fresh start.

“Your train leaves at nine. We should make it in plenty of time.”

“I’ve never traveled by train.”

“Me neither.” Dylan moved into the right lane, letting faster traffic pass. “Have you decided where you’ll go?”

She shook her head, even though she’d thought of little else since she woke this morning, knowing today had to be the day. “Somewhere big. Somewhere where he can’t find me.” She swallowed. “He’ll look. He’ll never stop,” she said, staring into the side mirror, waiting for the black Mercedes to rush up behind them and force them to pull over. “You have to be careful.”

Dylan huffed out an amused laugh. “That bastard doesn’t scare me.”

She wished he didn’t scare her either. “Be careful anyway.”

“I will, but he’s a coward.”

“No more than me,” she murmured, glancing down at the hints of bruised skin peeking out from under her sleeves.

Dylan tossed her a look. “Don’t go there.”

She sat back fully in her seat, unable to take her eyes off the mirror until Dylan eventually exited the interstate and drove toward the center of town, stopping in front of the Amtrak station as the train pulled up.

“Looks like you won’t have to wait.” She set the emergency brake and searched through her purse. “Here’s my license.” She handed over the Maine ID and paper ticket she’d bought and printed when Sophie gave her the green light from her kiosk at the mall. “We don’t look all that different with your wig, so this should get you your next ticket in Boston.”

“Thank you.” Sophie leaned over and gave Dylan a big hug. “Thank you so much. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without you.”

“Don’t look back, Sophie.” Dylan eased away, squeezing her hand. “Get out of here and never look back. Here are the phone numbers for the Stowers house shelters in Baltimore and LA I told you about—just in case.” She handed over the March copy of Trendy magazine with papers sticking out from the edges.

“Thanks. Please don’t forget to put flowers on my mother’s grave.”

“I won’t.”

She nodded and hugged Dylan for the last time. “Bye.”

“Bye. Take care of yourself.”

“I will.” Sophie got out, sliding her backpack on her shoulder as she made her way to the bored-eyed man at the ticket kiosk.

“Ticket and ID, Ma’am.”

Sophie handed over both, holding her breath, waiting for her plan to fall apart.

“Safe trip.” He gave them back.

“Thank you,” she murmured, letting loose a shaky exhale as she turned and moved toward the train, wanting to run instead of walk. She boarded the first available car and stared out the window as she sat down, watching Dylan pull out of the lot in the rusty hatchback, already missing the only person she’d had a connection with. She bobbed her leg up and down, struggling to keep her fidgeting at bay. Minutes passed, feeling like hours, until finally the doors closed. The train jerked forward, moving toward Boston—the first stop on her journey to freedom.

 

Cate profile picAbout Cate Beauman: Cate currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernards, Bear and Jack. She is the author of the best selling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for twelve years.

“I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, four years later, I’m currently working on my eighth novel, Reagan’s Redemption, which I plan to release in early spring of 2015. I’m very grateful for the support and success I’ve had.”

 Click here to enter the E-Book Giveaway Contest

Contact Cate

 Amazon Author Page

http://www.amazon.com/Cate-Beauman/e/B00A05KHVM/

Social links:

Twitter: @CateBeauman

www.catebeauman.com

www.facebook.com/CateBeauman

www.goodreads.com/catebeauman

 

 

Author Wednesday – Albert Isaac

typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome author Albert Isaac who writes science fiction as well as humorous essays on life. His novels are Endless and its follow-up Utopia Revisited, which he recently published.

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In this novel, Astronaut Kyle Lucas Metheny becomes an unlikely savior when his experimental flight goes terribly wrong. He awakes in a strange and unfamiliar future and learns he is there to fulfill a prophecy.

I must make full disclosure here. Back in 2005, Albert and I both lived in the same north Florida town and both were in transitions in our life. Albert had lost his job to downsizing and had just written his first novel. I was in the process of a divorce and starting a new job as editor of two magazines. We didn’t know one another until Albert showed up at one of my book signings. I tell him he came and never left. I hired him as a reporter and columnist for the magazines. Later, when I left to take another job, he replaced me as editor at Tower Publications in Gainesville. He’s still there, and thankfully, he’s still writing. He’s recently compiled some of his columns in the book Life So Far. 

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Click on cover

Hello, Albert. It’s wonderful you could visit today and talk about your life as a writer. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

I was very young, maybe seven, when I wrote my first ‘book,’ Billy and his Bellybutton. It was a great hit with my parents and grandparents. I believe I made three issues (still have one!). Truth be told, my voice has changed since then.

That’s great, and I’m happy to hear you still have a copy. You wrote that book, but most of us take longer to actually call ourselves a “writer” or author. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

Fast-forward about forty years, and I could finally officially call myself an author, after publishing my first novel, Endless, in 2005. The book isn’t a bestseller (yet!), but it launched my writing career and led to many great things.

I remember that day you showed up at the book signing. You seemed a little baffled by what to do next. I remember that feeling after publishing my first novel. I’m glad you’ve continued. Let’s talk about writing rituals? Do you have any you’d like to share?

Some people listen to loud music while they write. Some people need absolute silence. My needs are somewhere in the middle. I’ve written comfortably in coffee shops or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office; early in morning or late at night. A lot of the writing occurs in my head as I’m driving the car, or (not) watching TV or lying in bed at night before falling asleep. I don’t have a specific ritual other than when I feel the urge to write, I jump on it. I’ve almost always had full-time work, so carving out writing time can be challenging. But when I’m in the zone, I become hyper-focused, and can produce a remarkable amount of work.

It’s amazing what can be done when the “zone” strikes. What is your vision of yourself as a writer?

I see myself as a novelist and columnist. I enjoy writing about the silly things I’ve done as a kid (and the lessons learned) as well as my life experiences as a husband, father (and now grandfather). My third book, Life So Far is a compilation of some of the columns I have written for local publications during the last five or six years.

It’s a delightful collection of essays, Albert. I found myself laughing out loud sometimes because you capture those silly little things we all do in life and then you turn it around into something positive. 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.

My first and second science fiction novels chose me. After losing my younger brother in an automobile accident, I began imagining a world without death. Endless sprang from that experience, back around 1978. Over the next several decades, I would go back and improve upon the original work. While I was re-working the final version, the sequel came to life. When Endless was published, I was already halfway through writing its follow-up, Utopia Revisited.

That’s an awful tragedy to endure, yet you were able to make something positive out of it. I’m sure your brother would be proud of you. Do you have particular messages or themes that you try to convey to your readers?

Hope. Humor. Positive thinking. I plan to one day write a book about the remarkable things that happen when we think (and act) in a positive manner. It is really quite remarkable. I very much look forward to writing my success story.

And I’ll look forward to reading it and applauding your success. Since you’re also a journalist, write a paragraph as a reporter writing about you for a newspaper article on up and coming authors.

“Albert Isaac knows a thing or two about death. After all, he spent five years working in a busy emergency room and another twenty working in the medical examiner’s office. But during his days dealing with the dead and dying – indeed, even years before entering these challenging occupations – he imagined a world without suffering. A world without fear. A world without death.”

Excellent. Your journalistic skills shine through! What’s next for you?

Currently in the works (available late 2014) is Life So Far, Volume II. However, for the past several years I’ve been contemplating a novel about my years working for the medical examiner’s office. Other projects have kept me occupied, but the time has come for Life in the Morgue to see the light of day, especially since there is such a great interest in this genre. Perhaps it’s also time to adopt some writing rituals!

I think you’re doing just fine without them. What knowledge have you acquired recently that might assist other writers?

Write what you know. Write first, edit second. I’ve known several writers who spend so much time re-writing their first chapter that they never finish the book. It’s easier to fix your completed story than to write a brilliant first draft.

I can’t help but edit as I go, but I don’t continue to rewrite until I’m all done. That’s good advice. Do all your books have a common theme or thread?

Life. I didn’t plan it that way, but the first two books are about the consequences of living forever, and my collection of columns is entitled Life So Far. Of course, the first two are science fiction books, and the most recent is about things that have actually happened to me. Life. My life.

We’ve talked about your messages, but what kinds of techniques do you like to use in your writing?

One night when I was stuck on a chapter, I jumped on to the middle of the story. On another occasion I decided to write the ending. Both of these techniques were useful because now I knew where the story was going. I could foreshadow upcoming events. I could pace my writing. I’ve also made outlines and sketched out timelines to be sure I stayed consistent. Sometimes the story flows so fast I can barely keep up with the inner dialogue; a character appears from thin air, complete with a name and a face, and takes the story in a completely unexpected direction. I have to ask myself, “Who’s writing this thing?” And you’d best not stop to edit – you just need to keep on transcribing.

You’re right(write) about that. We never quite know where we’re going to be taken. I’m amazed at authors that spend so much time outlining before writing. I never do that. Let’s talk about reviews. We all get them, but what’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

“This science fiction novel truly validates the human soul. Readers quickly escape into a world where people of the twenty-sixth century live beyond 500 years but in doing so have surrendered to the siren song of technology (the grand elixir).”

What’s your one sentence pitch for Utopia Revisited?

An exciting peak into the future where everybody lives forever – almost everybody – and a stark reminder of the consequences of surrendering one’s freedom to technology.

How did you choose the title of Utopia Revisited? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

I tried to find a title that hasn’t been used too much. This was not the original title by any means, and I went through a dozen or more different ideas before finally settling on Utopia Revisited.

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

Eight years. Which seems crazy because I had written well over half of it by 2005. But life gets hectic. I never expected to take so long but I had a lot of new ideas that would have not been included had I rushed through just to hit one of my many self-imposed deadlines.

Sometimes that happens. My work in progress was started in 2006, and then, life happened. Is the book traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?

Self-published. Part of the delay in publication was waiting to hear from a traditional publisher. When it was turned down (which, while disappointing, was not surprising) it took the wind out of my sails for about a year. I didn’t want to wait any longer and self-publishing put a book in my hand (and in online bookstores) within a matter of days.

Been there, buddy. I dropped out for awhile, too. Then I saw the revolution in publishing and decided to become a part of it. I’m glad you have, too. What is the message conveyed in Utopia Revisited?

The importance of individuality, free thinking and fully experiencing all that life has to offer – even the bad.

What is the best thing someone could say about this book?

Exciting. Thrilling. Imaginative. Story telling at its best!

Those are great comments. Explain how this book was conceived in your imagination.

While finishing Endless, the floodgates to my imagination flew open. As a follow-up, I wanted a novel that could address some unanswered questions, but that would also stand on its own. I was able to tell the back story through the eyes of a stranger from the past. You don’t have to read the first book to understand the second.

What type of research did you do in the writing of this book?

Not much. I fact checked some concepts but, being a work of science fiction, I had the luxury of using my crazy imagination.

Who or what is the antagonist in Utopia Revisited? Did you enjoy creating this character?

There were several antagonists – including a machine – and it was fun creating them. I even brought back the primary antagonist from the first novel.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in Utopia Revisited.

My second favorite scene (can’t tell you the first) is a sequence of events where our antagonists catch up with our heroes and some serious conflict ensues. I had to switch back and forth between many simultaneous scenes – often very short – to tell the story in a fast-paced, exciting manner. I think it works. It does for me, anyway. But I’m biased.

Where do you write?

Typically in my home office on a desktop computer. However, I’ve been known to write anywhere on my laptop, from the recliner in front of TV to a cabin in the mountains.

What do you do during your down time?

Vacation with my family. Listen to music. Ride my motorcycle. Daydream. Bicycle with my boy. And watch WAY too much TV.

What book are you reading right now?

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – an Inquiry Into Values, by Robert M. Pirsig.

That’s a great book. Do you set your books in the place you live?

Part of Utopia Revisited takes place in my hometown of Miami. Naturally, all of my columns are set where I’ve lived (or vacationed).

Albert Isaac SigningAbout Albert: Albert Isaac is a writer and editor living in north central Florida. Albert studied English, journalism, music and film at the University of Florida, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He then followed the next most logical career path of any well-intentioned English graduate and went to work for the Medical Examiner’s Office and stayed twenty years. However, within him the writer remained and in his spare time he re-wrote a story he had started years before. In 2005, he published Endless. Albert is editor-in-chief for Tower Publications.

Links to books and social media sites:

Amazon

Authors Den website

Facebook

 

Author Wednesday – #New Release of Glimpse of Sunlight

Welcome to Author Wednesday and something a little different today. In the year I’ve been posting Author Wednesday guest posts and interviews, I’ve never had an author not follow through with either the materials or a cancellation apology. It happened with today’s scheduled author so I suppose that’s better odds than I had as an English teacher on the days a major assignment was due!

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Click on cover for Amazon page

As I was figuring out what to do, my friend and colleague Leona Bodie (see previous Author Wednesday post) posted the release of her new novel Glimpse of Sunlight, co-written with G.E. Gardiner. I had the pleasure of editing this book and am anxious to receive my copy to see the final version. Leona is also the author of the award-winning thriller, Shadow Cay, which I also edited.

Click on cover

Click on cover

 

Here’s the press release for Glimpse of Sunlight:

Legend and myth combine with historical fact throughout the pages of Glimpse of Sunlight, creating incredible adventures set during the golden age of piracy and sunken treasure ships. The characters are faced with moral choices that range from revenge and violence, to murder, greed, and sensual compromise. Even a voodoo priestess, a haunted house, and a secret attic room find a place in this action-packed novel. And best of all—it’s based on a compilation of historical people who lived and breathed and features Jonathan Dickinson, who shipwrecked near the St. Lucie Inlet in 1696 and whose name lives on in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, an 11,500-acre preserve near Hobe Sound that allows visitors to step back in time and see what this pristine area looked like.

Reviewers and fellow authors are delighted by Glimpse of Sunlight. Mackenzie Lucas, award-winning author of To Have and To Hold, states, “I fell in love with the characters…wonderfully compelling story.” Richard R. Blake of Reader Views says the novel is “sure to add new fans to the growing number of enthusiasts of the works of both authors.” These pirates are bound to steal your heart.

I hope you’ll take a look at this exciting book. From what I read during the editing stage, I know you won’t be disappointed.

About the Authors

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALeona DeRosa Bodie is the award-winning author of the suspense novel Shadow Cay. After teaching high school English and a stint in private industry, she decided the novel churning in her brain for fifteen years really deserved her attention. So she left her job to sail and write full-time. Leona is the Florida Writers Association’s Regional Director and past VP.

G.E. Gardiner spent his first career founding and running several small businesses. In 1997, a hemorrhagic brain stem stroke put him in the hospital for more than six weeks. Seven years later, he began writing to strengthen his brain. G.E. also leads a Florida Writers Association group.

Please visit www.JonathanDickinson.org for more information.

Writer as the Main Character

woman writerThe main characters in most of my novels share at least one characteristic. They all write for a living or aspire to be writers. In my latest release, Trails in the Sand, the main character is an environmental writer. The choice of career is no accident on my part, and as an author, I’m not an exception for creating characters who write.

Pat Conroy’s Beach Music is the story of travel writer Jack McCall who escapes into his work to lose the past. In Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Jo March’s passion for writing fuels her until she marries the professor. Thanks goodness, we’ve come a long way since the novel’s publication in 1868.

In Trails in the Sand, environmental writer, Caroline Carlisle, writes about the wildlife impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The wildlife experts in Florida choose her as the only reporter allowed to cover the sea turtle nest relocation project, which involved digging up nests and moving the eggs to the Atlantic coast to save them from the oil. She’s able to observe the momentous event firsthand. Much to her surprise, she begins to uncover secrets about her family in the pursuit of the sea turtle story. Caroline’s status as a reporter allows her special access, which helps unfold the plot.

I use writers as main characters because they are perfect observers and can go into situations where the average character couldn’t or wouldn’t go. On the television show, Castle, Richard Castle writes murder mysteries using a New York City detective as his main character. As a result, Castle researches his novels by going to murder scenes with the detective and helps to solve cases. Far-fetched maybe, but it’s enjoyable. His status as a writer allows him latitude to observe and write realistic, yet fictional, plots

Writers uncover information and find ways to expose culprits. In the novel I’m currently writing, a minor character is a newspaper reporter. The main character relies on him, not only for information about her husband’s murder, but she also gives him information in hopes he can help solve the mystery.

Writers are resourceful with contacts in high places, which can help move the plot along. Most reporters, in the real world, keep their sources close. In the case of Trails in the Sand, Caroline Carlisle speaks directly to wildlife officials, receives press releases, and enjoys loyal, established relationships with her sources, which brings her into the inner workings of government during the crisis. She also knows how to do research, which again is a plus for plot movement.

There’s another reason for a writer to use a writer as a character. Research makes up a large portion of my life when I’m working on a novel. Even though the author makes up the plot details, the details still need to be accurate and plausible. When I wrote about sea turtles and their habits in Trails in the Sand, I needed to research how long they lived, where they nested, how they made a nest on the beach, how long the eggs incubated, and what happened after the hatchlings emerged from the eggs. It took me days to research the details to write one scene where a sea turtle comes ashore to lay eggs as two teenagers watch on the beach.

I didn’t need to research the life of a writer because I’ve lived it. I’ve been a journalist. I’ve traveled for the job. I’ve worked with scientists, and I’ve interviewed many people in very strange situations – a man who owned a pack of hairless dogs he kept at his home in a rusty and remote trailer in north Florida comes to mind.

Some of my favorite people are writers, and they qualify as “characters” by many standards. I might as well use them in my stories. They make good company in a rather isolated career.

Caroline tries to explain to her mother that she wants to be a writer when she’s sixteen. I think I wrote this scene because I wished I’d been brave enough to tell someone I wanted to write at that age. Instead, I did the acceptable thing and became an English teacher. From Caroline Carlisle on writing in Trails in the Sand:

“You can’t be a writer,” Momma said when I was sixteen and told her of my career plans. “You need a profession you can count on to support you. You can’t depend on a man, especially the way you act.”

“I want to be a writer,” I said. “Who says I can’t be the next John Steinbeck?”

“I certainly hope not, young lady. Isn’t he that writer who killed himself a few years back? Is that the kind of life you want for yourself?”

“Of course not, Momma, and you’re thinking of Ernest Hemingway. Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath. I want to write a book like The Pearl – so brilliantly poignant and symbolic. The Grapes of Wrath is all right, but somehow I think if you can get the message across in fewer words, you have truly mastered the art of language. He uses ants and oysters to tell his tale.”

Momma stared at me as if I’d lost my mind. And I guess in the world of Calico, Florida, I did stand out as a little odd. I spent long summer days down on the riverbank reading, writing, or observing the world around me. Nature became my home, and the turtles, frogs, and birds of the Calico River that bordered our town were my friends.

“Where did you come from, child?” Momma asked. “How do you know these things? Sometimes you talk just like Alex.”

“Uncle Alex? He liked to write?”

“He loved nature, absolutely loved everything about it, and talked about it like you do.” Momma was no longer staring at me; she was gazing out the kitchen window into the back yard. “He loved chasing fireflies, too, just like you.”

“I wish I’d known him, Momma. What if I study marine biology? Is that a substantial subject?”

“It’s something,” she said as she turned back around. “At least you’ll be able to teach. You’ll need something to do with your life.”