Writing “A Flight to Romance” by John Fishwick

NEW-Fishwick-AuthorPhoto - CopyThe title and the plot are arguably the two most important things to get right in a book as I found when writing my debut novel “A FLIGHT TO ROMANCE”.

First, the title. My novel began several years ago as a technical book about Astronomy, Geology, and Evolution Theory, subjects that, in my opinion, should be studied, at least in a cursory manner, when searching for an answer to the age-old questions: Who are we?; Why are we here?; and What’s the purpose of life?  I decided togrand canyon call my book: “Looking Up and Down in Britain”.  ‘Up’ for the stars and ‘Down’ for the rocks. Not surprisingly, Oxford University Press thought that it was a travel book.

Another example. One of my talks that I give at colleges, country clubs, and on cruise ships was entitled “The Search for Extra-Terrestrials”. Attendance was fair to poor. People didn’t know what extra-terrestrials were. Changing the title to: “The Search for Aliens” produced much better results.

Second, the plot. My technical book was about half completed when my first wife died of pancreatic cancer and my enthusiasm for writing died with her A year or so later, I met and married a wonderful lady from Chicago whose husband had passed away over a year ago. This second marriage has proven to be a huge success for both of us, suggesting that we all have the potential for a second chance at romance and happiness. My second wife, Nancy, encouraged me to continue the book and I decided to resurrect it as a novel in which Jeremy Rowlands, an Astronomy professor meets Stephanie Marks, a retired teacher of English and a lover of Art, quite by chance on a flight from Newark, NJ to London, England. They are going on this trip for different reasons, he to visit various scientific sites and she to see the homes and birthplaces of the various poets and authors whose works she had taught to her high school students.

I now decided, quite intentionally, to violate the conventional wisdom of writing a romance. Critics may suggest that if you are writing a book about prehistoric fishScience, Literature, and Art, write non-fiction. If you are writing about romance, it should be a novel. My decision was to write about what I knew, which was an intellectual novel in which my protagonists decide to join forces and tour Britain together while discussing Science, Literature, and Art and, in the process, form a strong emotional bond that neither had expected or even wanted.

I knew at the outset that the novel may not appeal to those looking for a bodice-ripper but rather to those ready to be educated in the background of a romance.

I like to think that Astronomy, Geology, Evolution, Literature, and Art are a golden braid in which elements from all seemingly individual subjects are intertwined. You would be forgiven for believing that these subjects are unrelated and each has its own sharp line of demarcation. Astronomy morphs into both religion and philosophy as we discuss what came before the “Big Bang” and what comes after the death of our universe; Geology is not only about rocks but also records the gradual evolution of life from single-celled marine organisms to the much Processed with MaxIm DLmore complex homo- sapiens; and many art masterpieces attest to the painter’s knowledge of science, such as Manet’s “The Boats”, DuChamps’ art in motion, Picassos’s vision of objects seen from more than one side (as one would see at the speed of light), Vermeer’s use of the camera lucida,  Munch’s painting of “The Scream”, possibly depicting red sunsets following a recent volcanic explosion, and Le Corbusier’s knowledge of the Golden Ratio.

In summary, you have to decide why you are writing your book in the first place. Is it to sell the most copies or to satisfy your own need to write about what you know and what you love?

Finally, to promote your book, get a professional who knows exactly what to do and how to do it.


John Fishwick grew up on the Isle of Man—home of the Manx cat and the first country in the world to give the vote to women. He earned a degree in chemistry and geology from England’s Liverpool University then promptly joined the British Army to study Russian with British Intelligence. Following two wonderful years in Canada as a field geologist, he immigrated to the US where, after working on a top secret project for the government, he became a citizen.


The founder and principal operator of a high-tech materials company that has been in business for over forty years, John also holds various patents and enjoys lecturing on various subjects such as astronomy, geology,  evolution theory, and logic, critical thinking, climate change, energy sources, and the relation of art and science to universities, colleges, and world-wide on cruise ships. He is a longtime member of Mensa and a previous President of the Everglades Astronomical Society.


A Flight to Romance coverPrevious publishing projects include over fifty technical articles, as well as a nonfiction book entitled The Applications of Lithium in Ceramics. He cautions prospective buyers to beware-once you put it down you can’t pick it up! His current writing focuses on fiction with the recent release of a novel A Flight to Romance. Other titles will follow. 


John is married to Nancy, who makes sure he has clean clothes and a spotless tie when he lectures, and is proud to have a son who is a professor of computer science at UT in Dallas and a granddaughter who just graduated from Harvard Law School. He spends his time between South West Florida and the mountains of North Carolina, where Nancy and he enjoy playing golf and bridge. 

Business or busyness by PJ Nunn

PJ Nunn

PJ Nunn

Over the course of my life (and no, I’m really not that old), I’ve been a property manager of 3 apartment complexes and a variety of rental houses; I’ve given birth to and raised 5 children and an assortment of strays; I’ve taught JR and SR high school, then turned into the principal. If that wasn’t enough, I graduated to teaching college while finishing a graduate degree in psychology and criminology. Somehow after all that, I wound up corralling the PR for more authors than I can count. I’ve invested in time management books and Daytimer systems. None can tell me how to squeeze a few more minutes out of every hour. And we don’t even want to talk about multi-tasking really, do we?

Once upon a time, when my life was somewhat slower, I wrote a book, then another, and then a few more. Since Angel Killer just came out this week, someone asked me when did I ever find the time? I said “fifteen years ago”! Talk about delayed gratification.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I remember, vaguely, reading a book many years ago entitled 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. I knew at the time that while I didn’t understand everything he set forth there, I was reading something that would make a difference in my life if I’d pay attention. I’m one of those people that things come fairly easy to (pardon my lack of grammar). I was smart enough in school that I could coast through most classes without a lot of effort, and could usually accomplish quite a bit more than some.

It wasn’t until many years later when I found myself having to examine the use of my time. When I first started trying to exercise better habits, it was easy. Turn off the TV.7 Habits Don’t go shopping. I could usually find random blocks of time that could be better spent. But once I’d done that, it became more difficult to plan when I needed more time. There wasn’t as much excess that could easily be trimmed away. Now I’d reached the place where the Covey book began to matter more. Being able to determine the difference between the “urgent but not important” and the “important but not urgent”. I had fallen prey like so many others in our fast paced society to letting the “urgent” dictate my time investment.

Writers all know the meaning of the word “deadline.” I spent a few years as a freelance journalist before I moved into book promotion. That word could provoke nightmares, assuming I was able to fall asleep. Since I still had toddlers in the house at that time, my best writing usually happened at night. Novelists have their own deadlines. Writing, editing, proofing. Some are dictated by agents and publishers, others are self-propelled.

Often I’m hired by authors who are reasonably new in the field, although they tend to stay with me even after they’re not so new, for which I’m grateful. I think it’s because there are so many details to building a career as an author that time management is critical. If an author is active online, he or she could easily become frightened by all the tips, suggestions, rules etc. You’ve got to admit, it’s quite a smorgasbord. But just like I tell my clients, there’s no “one size fits all” promotional campaign that will work the same for everyone.

When I take on a new client, the first thing I examine is their internet presence. I look. I Google their name. I check out their website, FB page, Twitter, Goodreads, Google +, blog, whatever I can find. Honestly, I usually find enough in those areas to keep them busy making changes for a few weeks. But wait – that’s not URGENT! Sales are URGENT! Press releases are URGENT.

But what I have in mind is the different comments I’ve gotten from journalists, both print and broadcast, who got promo from me and immediately went to see what else they could find about that author. Unfortunately sometimes it’s discouraging. Usually because the author thought they were good enough and wanted to move on to more urgent matters.

What do I call URGENT?

Getting a good photo. Seriously.

Making sure you have all the right elements on your website and that you put something fresh on your home page AT LEAST once a month. No kidding.

Get active in some form of social media, but take the time to learn to do it right. Click on anyone’s Facebook page or Twitter page and see the last 5 – 10 comments they made. You should be able to tell right away if they’re always talking about their books or if they actually engage with others. Guess which one you want to do?

BTP logoPrepare a 12-month marketing plan. Don’t just write that as a header on a blank page, actually plan your marketing efforts for the next 12 months. You want to be busy? Don’t read submission guidelines – just send books. You want to do business? Do your research. Find out which reviewers review books like yours and what their submission guidelines are. Set up book signings if you’re inclined to do so. You can scramble and see what store will have you at the last possible moment (urgent) OR you can plan ahead and start making those contacts about 16 weeks ahead (important but not urgent). Starting to catch on?

Honestly, it’s not rocket science. And I know you can’t believe everything you read out there. So if you have a question ask. If you don’t know who to ask, ask me. You don’t have to hire me to ask me a question.

Oops. Time’s up. Let’s do business instead of being too busy.

An interview with Kathryn Primm, DVM

2010-09-07 20.15.52 Kathryn Primm has dreamed of being a veterinarian since the age of five. She grew up in Chattanooga, graduating from Girls Preparatory School and accepting an academic scholarship from Mississippi State University where she completed a degree in Biological Sciences as well as her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine.

Applebrook Animal Hospital is a dream come true for her and she will laugh and say that it is built of her “blood, sweat and tears.”

As a pet owner of two cats and Dora, a rescued Great Dane, Dr. Primm knows the challenges of keeping fur-friends happy and healthy. Helping pets and people is her passion and her mission, loving the job is an extra bonus!

PJ: How long have you been writing?

KP: Probably two years, but I have always been a storyteller at heart.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

KP: I do not think I have reached that point yet.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

No, I was unprepared for all the revisions, but the promotion has been very much more fun than I thought!

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

KP: Haha, I have only just begun but I have a “day job” without which I would not write at all! I find it amusing that the public thinks that. We all accept that artists are starving for their craft,  but somehow writers are making the “big bucks”.

PJ: Wouldn’t you love to prove them right? Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

KP: Now my focus is more about marketing. Since I have published this book and I think it is worth sharing, I want to be sure that people know about it,

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

KP: I am self published, but hired an editor who was wonderful and insisted that we not push publication until we agreed it was ready, so we did several months of revision. From the first word of the first story, it was around 18 months.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

KP: I would plan better now that I know more about publication. I would make sure that I submitted my manuscript to the appropriate reviewers pre publication.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

KP: I have a LOT of energy and I am very excited about Tennessee Tails.  I am going to do everything I can and just run on the excitement for fuel! My job as a veterinarian keeps me focused and I have learned a lot about multitasking in it.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

I am an avid reader, so the first time I saw my book for sale next to all the other books on an online retailer, it really hit me. I felt so excited and overwhelmed. I remember wanting to shout from the rooftops and I took a picture of the listing.

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

KP: Somehow I guess I thought that people would automatically know about my book and want to read it. I have a love affair with books and animals and since my book combines them, I guess I thought everyone would just know about it instantly. I never realized how much work and patience were involved in getting the word out.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

KP: Good : When I was asked to speak at the vet school, I was pretty excited. I remember being a student in the very room I will speak.

Bad: When I first contacted potential publicists, the very first one instantly replied to my inquiry that she did NOT handle books that had already been published. It made me feel very small.

PJ: Isn’t that interesting? I haven’t heard that one before. With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

KP: The stories do not have “fluff” to make them better. They are entertaining, touching and honest and I tried hard to make it an easy read that reaches any animal lover’s heart.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

KP: Always follow your dreams. Never give up and believe in yourself.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

KP: I think that I am the most important tool in promotion. If I am not willing to put forth effort, the promotion will fail.

PJ: I must admit, your enthusiasm is quite contagious! What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

KP: Patience has been the biggest challenge for me in the whole process. Everything moves slower than I would like.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

KP: Sadly we do not.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:TT cover

Just the one, Tennessee Tails

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Stories about pets and the people whose lives are made better because of their relationships. Just like people, pets have their own tales to tell if we watch and listen. There is always something that we can learn from each other.

Where can we buy it?

Amazon. Kindle http://tinyurl.com/tennesseetails

Barnes and Noble. com  http://tinyurl.com/qehzowd

and I have copies in my animal hospital where many of the stories took place.

What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

These stories are so close to my heart, I even had a hard time changing the names to protect privacy. I wanted to relay them faithfully as I remember them. I guess you could say that “literary license” was a hard concept for someone as completely guileless as I am! Since I am still the owner and primary vet at Applebrook Animal Hospital, my work is always “to be continued.”

I am, admittedly, a pet lover. Dogs and cats especially. But even if you’re not a pet lover, I bet you know someone who’d love this book!

An interview with Sherria Grubbs

Sherria GrubbsSherria L. Grubbs lives in North Carolina with her husband.  She is a teacher in one of North Carolina’s public school systems.  She has been writing poetry since she was in the sixth grade as a release and to lift her spirits. She considered her writing more of a hobby than a gift until recently, when she began sharing her poems with others.  Through the encouragement of her daughter and husband, she was inspired to create a book of her poems to share with others.  It is her belief that the poems she writes comes straight from the heart! http://deepconnectionsbook.com

PJ: How long have you been writing?


SG: I started writing poetry when I was about 12 years old, but at the age of 16 was when I began to write and keep my poems in a journal.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?


SG: I don’t know if I have ever reached that place.  I did begin to feel like I had something worth sharing maybe about a year or two ago.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?


SG: When I started, I didn’t have any expectations.  However, with that being said, it is more than what I expected it to be, if that makes any sense.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?


SG: My focus is really just about reaching people.  I feel like if something in my book can touch someone in some way, then it is worthy of publishing.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?


SG: I don’t know if I would do anything differently.  I think things happen the way they are supposed to, so I am not sure I would do something differently.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?


SG: This is hard and something that I am still struggling with.  Finding the time to do everything that needs to be done as it relates to my book and new material is very difficult so I just try to take one day at a time and get done what I can and somehow it all works out in the end.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?


SG: One of the most exciting things that happened to me as a writer was when a much older lady wrote me a poem to thank me for writing my book and for sharing her life story/my life story with her!

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?


SG: I think the most difficult thing for me as a writer was finding out that not all publishing companies are honest and loyal to authors.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?


SG: The most memorable thing for me while promoting my work was my book release party.  It was amazing, the turn out was amazing and ended up being standing room only.  Everyone who helped out were like angels sent from God.  They helped to make my book release party the most memorable and best event that I ever had!

PJ: With more books being released each  month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?


SG: I think my book says things that people feel but are afraid to say and because of this many people can relate to it!  My book unlike others speaks to the heart

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?


SG: Don’t give up.  If your desire is to have your work published, believe it and it will happen despite whatever obstacles may come your way.Deep Connections

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:
Deep Connections: A Book Of Poetry Straight From The Heart

Where can we buy it?
www.deepconectionsbook.comamazon.com, and barnesandnobles.com

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?


SG: I’m not sure if no one knows this but I am very transparent in my book and it truly is a book of poems that come straight from my heart!

Earl Staggs

Earl Staggs

Earl Staggs earned a long list of Five Star reviews for his novels MEMORY OF A MURDER and JUSTIFIED ACTION and has twice received a Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the Year.  He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine, as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, is a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery and a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars.  Email: earlstaggs@sbcglobal.net

Interview with Tall Chambers

by Earl Staggs

Recently, I’ve been intrigued by authors interviewing their characters.  I thought it was such a neat and interesting thing to do I decided to interview Tall Chambers, the main character in my Mystery/Thriller novel, JUSTIFIED ACTION.Justified Action

JUSTIFIED ACTION is a serious novel dealing with serious issues.  Tall works for an agency which tracks terrorists and puts them out of business before they strike.  He puts all that aside, however, when someone close to him is murdered.  Then it becomes a personal matter and nothing will stop Tall from finding the killer.

In spite of the seriousness of the story, I decided to have some fun with this interview.  I think you’ll learn a little about Tall and the story that plays out in the book.  I also hope you’ll find a chuckle and a grin along the way.

* * * * *

EARL  — Thanks for coming in for this interview, Tall. (stands, smiles, offers hand)


TALL  —  (shakes hands, sits) Not at all.  Thanks for inviting me.  Nice place you have here. What do you do?

EARL – I’m a writer. I sit here at my computer all day and punch out stories.

TALL – Interesting. Good luck with that, Carl.

EARL —  Uh. . .it’s Earl.

TALL – Sorry.

EARL – That’s okay, but speaking of first names, if you don’t mind me asking, how did you get that unusual one you have?

TALL  –  I don’t mind a bit.  A lot of people ask me about that.  My real name is Tallmadge, an old family name my mother picked out. As soon as I was old enough to talk, I asked people to shorten it to Tall. Everyone did  (grins) . . .except Mom, of course.

EARL  –So it’s not just because you actually are tall.

TALL  – No. I’ve been six foot three since I turned fifteen, but I was thin as a stick. In fact, my nickname was “Splinter.”  In the Army, I learned how to exercise and work out to build myself up.  I still work out an hour or two a day when I can.  I don’t want to become like one of those people who sit at a computer all day and. . .sorry.  No offense.

EARL  – Oh, none taken.  I really should exercise once in a while.  Do you miss the Army?

TALL  – Yes, I do. I didn’t agree with everything they did, but I felt part of something important and thought that in some small way, I could make a difference.

EARL —  But you left the Army. Why?

TALL —  I was reprimanded and demoted for striking a superior officer.

EARL – Oh, my.  Why on earth would you do that?

TALL – I had no choice.  He was doing something that could have ruined his career.  I only wanted to stop him, but he started throwing punches at me.  I threw one back and that was the end of the fight and my career in the Army.

EARL  – I understand after you left the Army, you joined a special agency that does something pretty important.

TALL  – The agency I’m with now is not one of those everyone knows about like the CIA or FBI. This agency keeps a low profile. Very few people even know it exists. I hope you understand I can’t say much about it.

EARL  – So, if you told me, you’d have to kill me?  (laughs)

TALL  – (shrugs – doesn’t laugh)

EARL  – (gulps)  Okay, moving right along.  Can you tell us what this agency does?

TALL  – We track subversive and terrorist groups both here and overseas.  If we determine they’re a threat to innocent lives, we put them down.

EARL  – (grins)  When you say “put them down,” do you mean. . .?

TALL  – (shrugs – doesn’t grin)  Unfortunately, most of them choose to die for their cause rather than go to prison, so we accommodate them. If they want to meet Allah and collect their virgins, we put them in the express lane.

EARL  – (gulps) I see. How do you feel about that?

TALL  – I don’t enjoy it, but it’s necessary. We have a motto:  kill one terrorist, save a hundred lives.  After a while, you learn to think about the lives saved, not those taken.

EARL  – How do you go about doing. . .uh. . .what you do?

TALL  – The usual. Guns, explosives, whatever it takes.

EARL  –  The book is called Justified Action. Is it all about taking out terrorists?

TALL  – (hesitates, looks away) No, not for me. Someone very close to me is murdered. After that, my only focus is finding the people responsible and making things right. I use the resources of the agency, but it’s completely my own personal operation.

EARL  – (gulps)  When you say “making things right,” do you mean. . . ?

TALL  – (shrugs – doesn’t reply)

EARL  – So are you able to find who was responsible and make them pay?

TALL  – (looks away again) Not exactly. It gets complicated. A lot of people are involved, some in high places.

EARL  – How high?

TALL  – As high as you can go.  I can’t say any more than that. I hope you understand.

EARL – I understand completely.  Let me ask you about—

TALL — (looks at watch, stands up) I’m sorry, but I have to go now. I have a job to do just across the street. (smiles, extends hand)

EARL  – (stands, shakes hands)  Uh, okay.  Just across the street? When you say you “have a job to do,” do you mean. . . ?

TALL  –(turns, walks to door)  You’ll hear a lot of noise. I wouldn’t go outside for a while.

EARL  –(gulps, watches him go)

* * *

Thanks for letting me take up some space here, PJ.  I enjoy the interviews and articles you do, and I appreciate the opportunity to make an appearance.

If I may, I’d like to invite your readers to come over and visit my website where they can:

. . . . .read Chapter One of JUSTIFIED ACTION featuring Tall Chambers.

. . . . .read Chapter One of my Mystery novel, MEMORY OF A MURDER.

. . . . .read a short story called “The Day I Almost Became a Great Writer.” Some say it’s the funniest story I’ve ever written.

. . . . .read another story there called “White Hats and Happy Trails,” about the day I spent with my boyhood idol, Roy Rogers.  There’s even a picture of me with Roy to prove it’s all true.

. . . . .and more.

Here’s where:  http://earlwstaggs.wordpress.com

 Hey Earl – you are welcome here any old time! And how bout this all of ya’ll who’ve now had the pleasure of meeting Tall Chambers. Why don’t you leave us a comment and tell us who you think he looks like? Better yet, send a photo! I bet I can wrangle Earl into a drawing for something free for someone. Let’s hear it!