Setting the Scene: Act II

In a previous post, I discussed how I like to see a place before I set a story there.  Sometimes, however, circumstances don’t permit that, and you simply have to do lots of research and hope it’s accurate.

In the case of Forgetting My Way Back to You, just deciding on the location was a years-long process.  My earliest draft had the characters set in Rhode Island.  Because I’d never been near the area, I soon changed it to Florida, but another state lingered in my mind.  I played around with the idea, until Pennsylvania won out at last.

I tried creating a fictitious town at first, but I’m no George Lucas.  I need established locales to put my characters in, and the adventures blossom from there.  Since I’d gone to Philadelphia, I wanted to base it around there.  Being a country girl, though, I felt more connected to a small town for this particular story.  After much more deliberation than one might deem necessary, I settled on Coatesville as Charlee and Hunter’s home.

Despite it being a day’s drive from my home in Ohio, I wasn’t able to visit the town until this past week…after I finished the book.  It disappointed me that I couldn’t use my “field research” to implement in the novel, but seeing the sights confirmed that I made the right choice.  Without giving too much away, Coatesville is the cozy hometown environment I hoped it’d be.  While it isn’t the middle-of-nowhere neighborhood where I grew up, it’s far from life in the big city, which would make a dreamer like Hunter restless and longing for more.  At the same time, the undoubtedly tight-knit community and warm landscapes would draw him back in time.

The stop I enjoyed most was The Cameron Estate Inn, in nearby Mount Joy.  The nineteenth-century mansion serves as a bed & breakfast, a restaurant, and a popular wedding venue.  In Forgetting My Way Back to You, Hunter takes Charlee there for dinner on a first date, but his romantic plans are thwarted when they discover two weddings are being hosted there.  He uses charm to navigate several unexpected twists, and in the end, the evening plays an integral part in reuniting the high school sweethearts.  It’s always been my favorite scene, but after going to the gorgeous place, I love it even more!

Here are some photos from my day of setting scouting.




This Time Last Year…

As June’s been flying by, I’ve had several reminders of where I was a year ago (my website’s domain just renewed, triggering my nostalgia). The summer of 2017 wasn’t one I’d like to relive, but I recount it today to encourage any of you who are frustrated with where your career or personal aspirations aren’t going. I’ve kept my discouragement mostly to myself, but now, I’m ready to reveal a glimpse into it in hopes it’ll show those disappointed spirits that matters can turn around in ways you couldn’t expect.

You may wonder why renewing my domain would bring back memories. Well, last year, I didn’t know if I even needed a website. My confidence in my career as an author was very low. For over a year, I’d been awaiting a response from my former publisher on whether or not they wanted to accept the sequel to my first novel. As time went by, communication slowed to a complete stop, and it became clear something was off. Sure enough, word came in July that the company was restructuring and would be letting go of some authors. A few weeks later, I proved to be one of them. Sprinkle in some other personal disappointments I won’t detail, and it makes for a bummer of summer.

Having seen it coming for a while, however, I’d put my focus on Forgetting My Way Back to You that spring, and it was ready to go out to the publishing world by late July. Given the circumstances surrounding it, I wasn’t too motivated to subject myself to the game of seemingly endless rejections that come along with shopping a manuscript. I confided in a couple close friends about my hesitation, and they all encouraged me not to quit. My former teacher, who’s proofread every work I’ve written, even told me Forgetting My Way Back to You HAD to be shared.

Thus, I overcame my despair and commenced my quest for publishers. During a casual browsing session, I came across a company named Vinspire. Their submission guidelines stated they only worked with agented authors, so having not found one to contract me yet, I almost closed the page. Upon giving it a last look, though, I found a box that announced their one-day event of opening their inbox to unagented submissions. It was less than two weeks away, so I had no choice but to mark both my paper and electronic calendars…and hope!

They welcomed queries from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., so I sent mine in along with the full manuscript at 9:06 that morning. Since I’m now with them, you know the outcome. I received an acceptance letter in October and signed the contract early the next month.

All said and done, while I wish I could redo some of my choices, they led to this moment this year—working with a new company I enjoy and prepping for a new book release. No, I haven’t exactly gone from rags to riches, but I’m so much farther than I expected to be twelve short months ago. Again, I hope reading this inspires any who are off to not-such-a-great summer to stay strong and undeterred. One day—or just twelve hours!—can change everything.

Lights! Camera! Voiceovers!: Behind the Book Trailer

When I signed my latest publishing contract with Vinspire Publishing, they gave me a marketing checklist of tasks they suggest I complete in promoting my book.  I’d done the majority of them while marketing my debut novel, but there were a few new ideas—one of which was making a book trailer.  Upon reading it, I began to shudder in fear and inadequacy.  I’d been vaguely aware of the term but never imagined making one.  I’m a book writer, not a movie director!

I confessed my qualms to the editor-in-chief, who assured me they’d be producing one, too, and not to worry.  Thus, I set it aside for five months, but as I continued checking off to-dos, my conscience poked me about it.  I couldn’t just ex it out without giving it a try.  My publisher had listed it for a reason, so how could I slouch down and let them do it all?


Images courtesy of Pixabay

When I started the groundwork in mid-May, I only intended to try without thinking I’d be able to do much more than that.  Since my publisher mentioned I could hire a producer, I looked into that first, but it didn’t take long to decide it was out of my limited budget.  I then researched what’s involved in creating one, but my doubts in my skills remained.  Nonetheless, I followed some of the tips I found and downloaded a video creator app, Movie Maker 10.

I liked the program’s easy-to-use features, but it wouldn’t be enough without the right photos, videos, and sound effects to capture the story.  My cover shows the protagonists’ characteristics, so having to find appropriate subjects was daunting.  Thankfully, I came across several great websites featuring royalty-free, un-copyrighted images and the like; my favorite is  Pixabay had just what I was looking for, and it was all top-of-the-line quality.  I struggled to figure out the right search words for a couple of the scenes, but overall, I couldn’t believe the ease of finding exactly what I needed to make everything cohesive.

As I wrapped up that and the script, I wanted one more addition to bring the trailer to life.  Mark Twain once said, “Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”  Taking his advice, I selected two quotes that are very instrumental in the story and begged three close friends to perform them.  One of them, “her protective father,” was the actual inspiration for the character he voiced.  To my relief, they readily agreed, and their voiceovers proved to be the most vivid touches on the video—at least, in my opinion!

I hope this recap didn’t bore those of who aren’t interested creating videos.  If nothing else, please remember my experience when asked to step out of your wheelhouse.  Don’t underestimate your abilities and the value of research.

Without further ado, I present the trailer for Forgetting My Way Back to You: