Books

The Sea Is Silent Book Release Party

The Sea Is Silent

We’re having a party!

I hope you’ll join me on Sunday, October 29th from 2:00-4:00pm at the Forsyth County Public Library in downtown Winston-Salem for a book release party to celebrate The Sea Is Silent. Come enjoy the beautiful new library while I speak about the book, answer some questions, do a reading and sign copies.

Don’t have your copy of The Sea Is Silent yet? Don’t worry, I’ll have copies available for sale on Sunday. I’ll even sign it for you!

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday.

 

The Story of The Sea is Silent

My new book, The Sea is Silent, is finally out, and unlike most other projects I’ve worked on, it’s been a long time coming. The idea first came to me about five years ago, and took shape on a long drive to Hilton Head Island with one of my best friends. He loved the premise and the general plot, and convinced me to flesh out the story.

In between then and now, a lot of things got in the way of actually sitting down to write the novel. Mostly work, but other life events seemed to eat up the time I wanted to spend writing. When you have another job and numerous family and community responsibilities, it’s exceedingly difficult to carve out the three or four hour blocks of time you need to put your story onto paper. (I wrote The Sea is Silent primarily between the hours of midnight and 3:00am, which is why I probably looked pretty tired for a few years.)  It was a long, slow process and sometimes I’d go months without adding a single word to the manuscript. I envy writers like Nora Roberts or James Patterson who can crank out a new book every few months. John Grisham tries to write two a year, which seems like a gracious plenty to me.

After you complete a first draft, you have to find some very good friends to read it for you. I’m extremely grateful to all those kind people who took on this assignment. Their insights, suggestions, and corrections were invaluable. Sometimes a writer gets so close to the story that he or she can’t see what’s missing or what’s unclear, so the initial readers of the early drafts are a huge part of the final product.

Finally, you have to find a publisher and an editor that you trust. I’m so lucky to have Kevin Watson at Plothound Books (Press53) to shepherd me through this process. He knows how to take a book and always make it better. I kid him that I turn in a phonebook and he hands me back a pamphlet, but it’s always for the betterment of the story. (It was also his vision for the front cover, so more credit to Kevin!)

So now, after five years of swirling around in my head, the story of Seth MacClellan and Sandbridge Island is finally on the shelves. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I trust it won’t take you nearly as long!

What’s in a name?

What is in a name?

The greatest works of literature usually also contain the most memorable character names.  When you hear the names Atticus Finch, Scarlett O’Hara, or Ichabod Crane, you immediately know who they are and from what story they derive.  I spend an inordinate amount of time naming my characters, trying to make their names not only memorable, but also meaningful.   Sometimes the meaning is known only to me, but it’s important to how I view that character I’ve created.

The Road to Devotion

In The Road to Devotion, the main character is a runaway slave named Jacquerie, (pronounced jack-er-REE) who is from Louisiana and thus exposed to the French influence in that region.  The “Jacquerie” was a popular revolt by peasants in northern France in the mid-1300’s during the Hundred Years’ War.   A more modern definition of “jacquerie” describes it as a communal uprising.  My character has a French background and on the brink of an uprising, so it seemed to be the perfect name.

When The Ravens Die

In When the Ravens Die, the intensely loyal bodyguard for the Princess is Trevor McFarlane, perhaps the bravest character I’ve ever created.  I came up with the name by searching through crests and mottos of the Scottish Clans.  The motto of Clan MacFarlane is “This I’ll Defend”.   It seemed to describe my character’s best motives, a man who would defend his Princess to the death if need be.

The Sea is Silent

In my latest novel, The Sea is Silent, there’s a running thread of terms and phrases that have to do with water.  “Drowning in an unforgiving sea of printers’ ink” is one example of that aquatic undercurrent I tried to lay in throughout the story.  Perhaps that’s why one of the characters is named Dr. Bethesda, which is any location whose waters are believed to have curative powers, and another is Dirk Hartog, named for a sea captain from the early 1600s.

Make Me Disappear

My main character in my young adult novel, Make Me Disappear, is named Sam.  When I speak to school groups, I inform them that in my mind, the name Sam stands for Smart, Adventurous, and Magical. It was a good reminder for me of who he was as I carried him through the story.

In the book I’m currently working on about a young girl who runs for mayor of her corrupt small town, many of the characters are named after famous women from the suffrage movement.  I include a short biography on each one at the end of the book as a learning tool for young readers.

I like character names that alliterate, like Colin Crowe and Duncan Danforth.  Comic books, with their Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, and Pepper Potts, figured out long ago that these are memorable monikers.

I also take names from people I’ve met who I find interesting or admire.  Fionnuala, Crumrie, Smithwick… all names of people with whom I’ve crossed paths over the years.  My journalism professor at Wake Forest, Bynum Shaw, seems to always find his way into my character names in some form or fashion.

So if I meet you and you have an interesting name, fair warning:  you just might end up in my books someday.