July 30, 2013


As a writer, I've learned to be on the lookout for those serendipitous signs that might lead me to a new book idea or unstick me from a plot point I've gotten hung up on. It might come in a bit of a overheard conversation. I might come across an article or photograph that meshes with what I'm writing--or planning to write. Sometimes a dream--mine or someone else's--connects.

I know along the way I’ve missed some of those signs. Often I’ve neglected to make a written note about them, sure that I'd remember. Years ago, that might have worked, but now I'm less and less skillful at recalling even the most significant markers of my day.

For some reason unclear to me, I've begun to think more and more about a sequel for WHISPER ISLAND. It might be because I've become attached to Primmy and her independent character. I want to see where her free spirit takes her. At the same time, I've learned more and more about a dramatic, heroic rescue of the British tanker Mirlo off the shores of Rodanthe during World War I.

I'm now in the middle of a historical novel set in Kansas City during that "war to end all wars."

Serendipity has struck again! I've already done a lot of research about the war and I now know--and love--much of the history of the Outer Banks and ocean rescues. My research efforts could mesh in a sequel about Primmy six years after WHISPER ISLAND's story. I knew that she still would be kept from joining the Coast Guard (formerly the US Life-Saving Service), but I need to get her to Rodanthe as a seventeen-year-old young woman. What could she do for a living? What profession do I know most about? Teaching. Hard to imagine feisty Primmy as a schoolmarm, but I think she'd be spectacular!
"It's right across the road, Anola."

When I mentioned this idea to James Charlet, "keeper" of the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Historic Site, he pointed across the road. "That's the schoolhouse that would have been here in 1918." The building has been added to to create a community hall, but the central structure remains.

A sure sign that Primmy's story will continue!

July 24, 2013

Strolling Along Social Media Street

 I've learned over the years that writing a book is a play in three acts.

The curtain goes up on Act One, the birth of an idea that grows and develops in several scenes as the plot unfolds and characters enter and exit.

Act Two involves multiple scenes: writing, revising, rewriting, revising, editing, submitting, acceptance (eventually) and publication (finally).

Act Three may seem anti-climactic because the book is done, but for me that last act has been the most difficult. I've resisted the demands on my time and energy. I wanted to get on with my writing; the next book had already taken shape in my imagination and I longed to get it going. I've resisted jumping into the social media scene, but now I know I need to learn it all so I can give my latest book, WHISPER ISLAND, a good send-off. I've come to realize that, if a book was important enough to work on for several months, it deserves my efforts to get it before the public eye.

When I planned the WHISPER ISLAND launch at the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Historic Site in Rodanthe, NC, I knew that just traveling there and signing books wouldn't be enough to give my book the debut it deserved.
Rodanthe Beach,Outer Banks, North Carolina--another great place to stroll!
So several weeks before the launch I took some baby steps onto Social Media Street. Now I stroll along slowly but surely. I'm on Twitter and Pinterest and Facebook and LinkedIn. I own a smart phone. I tweet and pin and post. I have circles and pages. I've learned how to link and like.

And you know what? After the initial stress of learning something new, I'm beginning to enjoy it. I have a long way to go, but I'm getting there.

July 13, 2013

Welcome to Whisper Island!

Whisper IslandLast week, Peter and I drove to the beautiful Outer Banks in North Carolina for the launch of my new historical novel for young readers, Whisper Island.
On July 10, the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station -- the site that inspired the story of Primmy and her quest to serve in the U.S. Life-Saving Service (a precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard) -- hosted a delightful book launch. The young readers of Rodanthe were among the first to purchase Whisper Island, and I had a great time signing their copies of the book! The launch party also included games for the kids and live demonstrations of the life-saving equipment at the museum by the U.S. Coast Guard.

This marks the start of a summer full of readings, book signings and other events to promote my new book. Stay tuned for updates! In the meantime, here are a few highlights from our time in North Carolina:
The launch event was held at the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, North Carolina

Signing books for the first young readers to buy Whisper Island

The Coast Guard demonstrates a Life-Saving drill of long ago (left);
I was thrilled to meet Myrna Midgett Peters, whose ancestors were Life-Savers (right)