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. 

An interview with LC Hayden

lcbig1L. C. Hayden is an award winning author.  Her Harry Bronson series have been the finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Novel (Why Casey Had to Die) as well as finalist for Left Coast Crime‘s Best Mystery (What Others Know).  In addition Why Casey Had to Die is a Pennsylvania Top 40 Pick.  She has repeatedly captured First, Second, and Third place status for her works at the annual El Paso Writers’ League, and even won the coveted Best of the Best Award.  She also won a gold medal at the Senior Olympics Writing Competition and garnished a Second place for Tallahassee’s Writers Association’s Seven Hills Writer’s Contest.

PJ: How long have you been writing?

LC:     I’ve been writing my entire life, but professionally, I began with nonfiction while I was in college. A term paper that I did for a professor was the first thing I ever got published.

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

LC:     Unfortunately, that moment hasn’t come. Soon as I accomplish a goal, I move on to the next one. There will always be one more step to take in order for me to really be a successful writer.

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

LC:      You dream of writing and selling. Hitting the big time. Big money. Big deals. Then reality hits. You’ve got to promote. If you don’t, you don’t sell. Wish we could go back to the days when authors wrote and the publishers promoted. Uh, was there ever such a day?

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

LC: It’s now beginning to do that—although it’s still a long way from reaching my dreams. You’ve got to realize that my first book was published in 1998 and just now my income is finally something to be proud of. That’s a heck of a long time.

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

LC: It’s not just getting published that counts. It’s how many books did you sell? Publishers are only interested in how much money they make, not establishing a struggling author’s careers. The focus in writing has switched to selling—otherwise, your publisher will drop you.

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

LC:  A nice even number would be 10 years. I wrote, revised, submitted. Rewrote, revised, re-submitted. Over and over. I was caught by a scammer—too late I realized that and that held up the production of the book. Finally, ten years later the book Who’s Susan? came out and it became a Barnes & Noble Top Ten Best Seller.

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

LC:  I would avoid the scammer. My problem is that I’m too trust worthy. What a twirp I am!—but a trusting one!

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?

LC:  I set deadlines. By such and such time, I will have written five chapters, contacted so-and-so for promotion, I’ve edited this much, etc. If I don’t meet those goals, I beat myself up with a wet noodle and get back to work!

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

LC:  Dang, that’s a hard one. I’m not sure if I should choose being major awards finalist for my books, being selected to be a speaker at major cruise lines and travel all over the world for free (and I still get paid!), or when a reader tells me how reading my books helped them either spiritually (like for my angel book series) or by keeping them glued to the edge of their seat or having to stay up all night to see how the book ended. All of those experiences are so special.

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

LC:  Book sales. I pour my heart and sweat into my novels. Then they’re released and bang! The sales just trickle. Eventually, they pick up but they have slow starts. Wish they began with a bang!

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

LC: As far as my mysteries go, I’m known as the writer of edgy books. By that I mean a plot full of twists and turns with bang-up endings that will surprise the readers.

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

LC: Believe in yourself. Don’t ever give up. Make that dream come true. Don’t let anything or anyone ever discourage you.

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

LC: My ability to do great presentations. God gave me the ability to speak on just about any subject and amuse and hold the audience. When I do presentations, I normally a lot more books than when I do just a signing.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

LC: Finding the money to pay for the book promotion!

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

List of L. C. Hayden’s books

Aimee Brent Mystery Series

ILL ConceivedIll Conceived

Coming soon: Vengeance in My Heart

Throw Away Children (working title)

Harry Bronson Mystery Series

When the Past Haunts You

When Death Intervenes

Why Casey Had to Die

Novels featuring Harry Bronson

What Others Know (Part 2)

When Colette Died (Part 1) (Bronson not featured)

Where Secrets Lie

Who’s Susan?

Inspirational

Nonfiction: Angels and Miracles Abound (coming Fall 2013)

Angels Around Us

When Angels Touch You

Fiction: Bell-Shaped Flowers

Children’s picture books: What Am I? What Am I?

Puppy Dog and His Bone (coming soon)

Paranormal: The Drums of Gerald Hurd

Writing Advice: Help! I Want to Write

Contributed to

A Second Helping of Murder (a cookbook)

Haunted Highways (collection of haunted places in Texas)

Edited and compiled Breaking & Entering: The Road to Success (a Sisters in Crime how-to guide)

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

ILL Conceived: Grandma Louise hears a scream in the middle of the night. When no one else does, the police dismiss it as an old woman’s ravings. Aimee Brent, an ambitious, dedicated reporter for the North Shore Carrier, the Lake Tahoe newspaper, sets out to prove Grandma right. In so doing, she’s forced to face her past, a past filled with so much darkness that it threatens her very existence and leads her down a twisted, dangerous road from which she may never return.

Where can we buy it?

Best place is as a Kindle through Amazon, although it can be ordered from any store (if you live in PA, Mystery Lovers Book Shop, stocks it) or various places on the Internet. You can also order it directly through me.

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

LC:  I still write longhand. I revise longhand. Then I enter it into the computer, making revisions as I go along. I print out the manuscript and revise it again in longhand. I’m old fashioned, eh?

Thanks so much for the interview! Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Thank you for joining us LC. I really love your work and know our readers will too! PJ

Who knows your name?

Name recognition. That’s what it’s really all about when you get right down to it. But when you ask a lot of authors what book promotion is about, many will answer “selling books.” Ok. That’s a fair answer, but not exactly accurate. Selling books is certainly the desired outcome, but the promotion itself should focus on gaining name recognition for the author. The more name recognition the author has, the more books that author will sell.

One of the most frequent recommendations is to hire a branding company, but not many authors are inclined to do that. But there are plenty of things you can do for yourself.

Here are a few tips for increasing name recognition:

  1. Think long-term when selecting a brand image and stick with your name or your company, not a particular title or series. There’ll be time enough for that later, but ideally it’s the author’s name that should be etched in readers’ memories so that any title or series associated with the author will be desirable.
  2. Develop all collateral and image materials (website, stationary, logo, taglines, business cards, postcards, newsletters, etc.) to coincide with your brand.
  3. Develop a memorable tagline that reflects who you are and what you write. Do not make it specific to one title or series.
  4. Make lists of different groups you’d like to reach in the coming year, then develop a timetable and calendar to systematically get your information to them.
  5. Regularly (quarterly is good) write and issue press releases to the media and to your website. Of course, you need to do something worth writing about and it should be something associated with your brand. For authors, it might be speaking to local writing group, hosting a contest to read and critique short stories, participating in local Citizen’s Police Academy events – anything related to writing and the brand the author is trying to establish.
  6. Regularly write articles for publication, including your brand information in your bio.
  7. Regularly write and pitch feature story ideas to media. Sometimes the best way to get your own foot in the door is by pitching others.
  8. Participate (attend, speak, host) in at least two national and local industry conferences a year.
  9. Create and issue an online or direct mail newsletter.
  10. Participate in and sponsor local charitable efforts. The local Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start for a variety of opportunities. Post your calendar of appearances on your website – not just book signing events.
  11. Make sure your website includes informational materials formatted for strong results from search engines; and make sure there is in-depth material demonstrating your expertise, whatever it is, so that website browsers can easily find and read it.
  12. Update your website with informational content at least 2 – 4 times per month.

Building name recognition for an author is a slow and steady process, not something that can be done once every few months. Nor will a 2 week media blitz result in lasting recognition. To develop a career as an author takes consistent effort, but persistence, as in getting published, pays.