Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Party Time!

A big shout out to my family!  They are the best!  Surprised me with a little party in celebration of the upcoming release of my first novel - Of Dreams and Shadow!  Walmart's Bakery made the cake and it was a delicious as it was beautiful!  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Creative writing - Describing a place (in this case - the beach)

One of my favorite places to visit is North Topsail Beach, NC.  Unlike many visitors, it's not the sun I'm seeking - it's the solitude. That's why I tend to go early morning or late evening.  It's one of those places where your troubles can be washed away - where the stress of the day can float away on an ocean breeze.

North Topsail Beach, NC

So I was thinking about how I could describe the beach.  We've all read about water rushing to shore - but a beach is more than that - it's the sum of several things coming together to form something completely elemental.  

Where to begin?  I think we turn to the basics - our five senses.

Hearing:  There is something to be said for the sounds of the beach...the pounding of the waves, the momentary quietness as the water rushes back to the sea...the cries of the birds as they fly overhead-searching for their next meal and the howling of the wind.  
Touch  Feeling the sand beneath my feet - And the water as it runs over my toes.  The feel of the wind as it touches my skin.
Sight:  There's a lot to see - the sand, shells, water, sky and grasses.  There's crabs, birds, and dolphins and perhaps a boat just off-shore.  People may be walking, swimming, or surfing.  There's bound to be seaweed or a dead fish, not to mention a sandcastle or a discarded beer can.
Smell:  A beach has a certain smell.  It's several aromas blending together - salt, suntan lotion, decaying sea life.
Taste:  Who hasn't been tossed by a wave or two and come up sputtering - after having swallowed a mouthful of salt water?  If you haven't - you've missed out!  Seriously, the salt seems to hang so heavy in the air that it seems like you can almost taste it. 

If you can't get to a beach, find a picture and close your eyes.  Let your mind do its job - imagine or recall a trip to the beach - the sounds, the smells, etc - and then write it all down!

-DS McKnight

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Luray Caverns

I recently visited the Luray Caverns in Luray, Virginia.  Wow!  If you've watched Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and you've visited any caverns, then I'm sure you can relate.  For a moment, I felt like I had gone into the mines of Moria and wouldn't have been suprised to have seen Orcs peeking from behind the formations.  Luckily, there were no Orcs to be found.  However, the visit was amazing.  It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder - and I for one, never imagined how beautiful something hidden beneath my feet could be. 

Looks like a face, Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns

-DS McKnight

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Self Publishing - My Journey Continues

I thought it was time for an update on my self-publishing journey.  As you may know, I chose to use Create Space.   Being this was my first novel, I didn't want to leave anything to chance. (Editor-check.  Readers-check.)  My biggest fear (besides no one liking my story) was having someone purchase my novel and then see boo-coos of formatting errors.  I just wanted the assurance that I had done everything I could to make my novel as perfect as possible.  So while I could have formatted my novel, I choose to purchase CS's formatting service.   What I didn't expect was the l-o-n-g wait between each step of the process.  Silly me - I failed to consider how many other writers are using their services.  My friend and and mentor, Carol Ann Ross, formatted her book, uploaded and after a few changes  *BAM* her novel was in her hands.  I submitted my manuscript at the beginning of April...It is now mid June.  I have received my first formatted copy (digital) and have found errors such as:  wordswithoutspaces.

It's a bit frustrating...especially when I know what I submitted.  I look at the time - festivals are happening all around my area - tourists are vacationing - students are on summer break - and I am waiting for the publishing process to be completed.  I've been trying to do all the right things.  I blog. I post on Facebook.  I try to connect with fellow writers and the all important readers.  And I have no idea of when I will be able to announce an official release date.

So what about you?  Have you had a similar experience and/or did you choose another company? What was your experience?   Anything you can share will be greatly appreciated.

-DS McKnight


Monday, June 3, 2013

Sneads Ferry, NC - my inspiration

Of Dreams and Shadows takes place in the fictional town of Parson's Cove, NC.  Parson's Cove is based on Sneads Ferry and parts of Swansboro.  I love Swansboro's waterfront with all its shops, restaurants, music and view.  But it is Sneads Ferry and the salty New River that has my heart.  The people here are a special breed and they make for an amazing community.  If you're familiar with Fulcher's Landing from way back when, I'm sure you will remember Capt Jim's restaurant - (now the Landmark Cafe)  Remember the lighted sign with the fish jumping from the water?  I loved that sign!  Capt. Jim's is actually in my book as Capt. Jimmy's.   As you read about Parson's Cove, I hope that you are able to recognize Sneads Ferry because she's there between the lines.  The Ferry is truly a special place and it has provided an amazing influence on the Cove. 

The Landmark Cafe - Originally Capt. Jim's
Sneads Ferry, NC

Boat Ramp located on Fulcher's Landing
Sneads Ferry, NC

So here's a short excerpt from Of Dreams and Shadow.  I hope you enjoy it!

Jenna made her way to the end of the wooden planks and leaned against the railing.  She listened to the water as it gently lapped around the pilings.  Seagulls flew overhead, hoping for an easy breakfast.  While apologizing for coming empty handed, Jenna pulled her hood up, trying to keep the cold off her ears.   Her eyes moved, taking in the rustic beauty around her.  Just off to the right, on a lone weathered piling, a pelican kept watch.  And beyond him, in the distance, a boat ambled its way up the river.

The chugging of a motor grew steadily louder, pulling Jenna's attention to her left.  A skiff drew near to the pier and puttered by, carrying an old man.  Gray hair surrounded a weathered face.  He threw up a gnarled hand in greeting.  Jenna smiled and waved back. 

-DS McKnight