Silence is Golden

Silence on the blog means I’ve been busy.

How busy?

I did the math and in twenty-one months I wrote 718,447 words and edited six manuscripts between three and fifteen times (the newest one only three times so far.) My last project totaled 105,689 words in fifty-three days. The most cumbersome one finished the first draft at 132,768 words. I’ve whittled it down to 123,787 in six drafts but it still needs more tidying up.

Do I have anything to show for all this work?

The satisfaction of knowing I can now fast draft.

Larger than life characters living in my mind.

Massive amounts of notes/research/photographs/mood music.

Some amazing critiques from writing buddies.

A few rejection letters.

Several “we want to see more” notes.

And patience, lots of (anxious) patience.

If you’ve followed my journey on social media or elsewhere, you’ve probably heard that I’m working on a historical Gothic series for adults. That’s what these hundreds of thousands of words are for, that’s what has caused my housekeeping skills to lapse, and my brain to forget other things. I’ve been living, breathing, and following these characters through the Edwardian Era in the Mobile Bay area for almost two years now and I look forward to the time I can share more with everyone.

For now, you can see sneak peeks at some of the inspiration for the characters and settings on two Pinterest boards. And on Wednesdays from my Twitter account I participate in #1linewed, which shares one line from a work-in-progress based on the chosen theme for the day. So check there for tidbits from these characters. (This week, August 16, the theme is “song.”)

Here’s to hoping all this blog silence turns to many books for you to read in the months and years ahead. And, of course, extra information and news can be found when I send out a monthly-ish newsletter.

And, as a side note, check out this fabulous list by The Grateful American Foundation for Best Books for Kids. (Hint: FORTITUDE is on there!)

Literary Night Presentation



If you are in the Mobile Bay area, next Tuesday night Gallery 450 on Dauphin Street is kicking off 2017 with monthly Literary Night events, co-hosted by Mobile Writers Guild.

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Yes, I have the honor of being the first presenter. I’ll share my experiences of researching and writing historical novels set in and around Mobile, including Fortitude and my current projects (more news on those to come soon.)

Reminder: If you aren’t signed up to receive my newsletter, now is a good time to join the list.

Spotlight on Jacqueline

Today I’m happy to share a Question and Answer session I had with another Anaiah Press author, Jackie Minniti. Her middle grade historical novel, Jacqueline, was one of my favorite reads in 2015. It’s now available in print as well as e-formats.

JacquelineWere you nervous about how family/friends would feel about reading a fictionalized account of a treasured family tale?

No, not at all! In fact, my dad, a 99-year-old WWII veteran whose experience inspired the story, had been asking me to write a book about Jacqueline for years. It was the only war story he was willing to share, and it became part of our family lore. I tried to explain to him that although our family loved the story, there wasn’t enough material for a book and no general audience for it. Then a chance encounter with a guest at my son’s wedding sparked a “Eureka!” moment. A man who’d been sitting with my dad came up to me. “I hear you’re a writer,” he said. “Your father’s been telling me the most amazing story. You should write a book about it.” I began to tell him why it couldn’t be done, but he interrupted me. “I have a daughter in 6th grade. She doesn’t know anything about WWII. She’d love to read a book like this, and it would help her learn history.” To this day, I don’t know why it never occurred to me to write the story for younger readers, especially since I’d taught middle school reading for so many years and Jacqueline was the same age as my students. But once I started looking at the story from that perspective,the plot began to form and I couldn’t wait to start writing.

 

Which character was the hardest to write about? Why?

I’d have to say that it was Yvonne Jamet, the young French “collaborateur” who was keeping company with the Nazi soldier. She was a controversial character because she was considered a traitor and was hated by Maman and the adults in the story, but Jacqueline saw her softer, more vulnerable side and had conflicted feelings about her. Since younger readers tend to see characters as either good or bad, I tried to present Yvonne as more of a “gray” character so they’d have to make their own decisions about her. It was a real effort to keep my personal feelings about Yvonne from leaking into my writing.

 

What are some of the most interesting historical tidbits you came across in your research?

As a Baby Boomer, just one generation removed from WWII, I was surprised at how little I really knew about this historical period. I’d read a lot about the Holocaust and the plight of the Jews in Germany, Poland, and Austria, but there wasn’t as much written about France during that time. I learned that there was a sizable Jewish population in Rennes, and that many French Jews were sent to Drancy, a “transit camp” outside Paris that was actually a temporary stop on the way to the death camps in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. I was also amazed at the hardships the French endured under the occupation – food rationing, curfews, censorship, air raids, constant surveillance. It renewed my appreciation for the freedom we enjoy here in America. And I can’t express the depth of my admiration for the bravery and sacrifice of the American troops who fought so valiantly to defeat the evil that was Nazi Germany. Most of them were mere boys, many away from home for the first time, and yet they transformed history and secured freedom for millions of people. They truly were the Greatest Generation.

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Did the story go as planned or did you write some surprises?

Since Jacqueline is based on a true story, most of it went as planned. But some of the characters took unexpected turns. The biggest change from my original vision was the fate of the Bergiers. Since I don’t want to spoil the ending, I’ll just say that I originally planned something more catastrophic but decided it might be too intense for the younger readers.

 

What’s been the most rewarding part of Jacqueline being published?

I’ve dreamed of becoming a published author for as long as I can remember. The submission process was difficult and stressful, but it was all worth it when I was offered the contract from Anaiah Press. They’ve been extremely professional and a pleasure to work with. But the most rewarding part of the entire experience was putting that first copy of Jacqueline in my father’s hands. It was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life.

 

Ready for more?

Check out http://www.jackieminniti.com/

and

For More Stops On The Tour, Click Here.

Release Day: Take One

Today Fortitude is out in the virtual world. (It will be available in paperback on January 5, 2016–less than a month away!)

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Whether you’re waiting for the print edition or reading on an electronic device Anaiah Press has a great blog tour featuring Fortitude that began today on their site. There’s a link to the listings of all the other dates/sites hosting information about the novel and my writing, too. Be sure to check it out.

After you read, be sure to leave a review on one of the book retailer sites or Goodreads. Reviews and recommending books are the best way to help authors. Thanks for following my journey–it’s still an uphill climb but I’ll carry on.

 

Next Month

2015 has been an exciting year for me and it’s becoming more so by the week. First, after waiting over two decades, I experienced my favorite band in concert (front row, center!) in the spring.
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Then I visited the largest home in America late summer. https://carriedalby.com/2015/09/01/adventure-ahead/

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But the year isn’t done with me yet. 2015 will afford the experience of my third bucket list item: the publishing of my first book.

Yes, the release date for Fortitude (Surge imprint, Anaiah Press) has been moved from January 2016 to December 8, 2015. Thirty-four days to go! I’ll be posting more about this historical novel in the days ahead.

Also, last month Europe (favorite band, as linked above) announced the second half of their U.S.A. tour to promote their newest album “War of Kings” and they are coming to one of my favorite venues on the Gulf Coast. I bought my tickets and will be seeing them for the second time in less than a year in 93 days!

One of the best years ever! How are things looking from your perspective?

Memorial Day Musings

Let’s give thought to the often over-looked wars that had American casualties, like the Spanish-American War.

Even before they officially left, numerous soldiers—mostly volunteers—died in Florida at the campgrounds they gathered in before shipping off to Cuba. Inadequate space (in recently drained swamps), food, and medical supplies, as well as racial riots among the troops themselves, pushed the numbered deaths of U.S. soldiers higher on our own soil than those sustained during the ground and naval battles in Cuba/Puerto Rico.

During my pleasure reading nearly eight years ago, I happened across a few pages in a biography (Lady from Savannah: The Life of Juliette Low) about the deplorable conditions our troops suffered in during their few months in Florida. I immediately knew I had to write about it. After gathering information for nearly five years, I then spent three years getting the story down properly. Come January 12, 2016 you’ll be able to read the collective soul of my journey into 1898, appropriately titled Fortitude.
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As for today, let’s give pause to those who gave all to protect liberty—whether in this century or in decades past—while we continue to pray for peace. Peace for those left behind, and for the world at large.

Publishing News

Last week there was some exciting news on the internet. Anaiah Press has acquired my young adult historical novel, FORTITUDE, and it’s set to be published January 12, 2016.

There’s much to do in the year ahead: revisions, line edits, cover reveal, and so on, but it’s a journey I’m most looking forward to. I have an editor and publicist, as well as a fabulous “family” at Anaiah to help me along. (Not to mention my family and friends who have championed me along all these years.)

A Merry Christmas to all, and a terrific New Year, too!

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