Saturday, July 7, 2012

Baby Steps

I had the pleasure of speaking with South Carolina's poet laureate today. At the suggestion of my dear friend Kathie Bennett (Magic Time Literary Agency), Marjory Wentworth and I have discussed the possibility of my engaging her and her husband Peter Wentworth to help me as publicists for Swimming with Serpents. I first asked her for her autograph. She is an impressive poet with amazing credentials and I am honored that she would consider helping me. The Wentworths, Peter and Marjory, are teaming with Kathie on certain projects. Kathie is in the process of restarting her business as a literary publicist. She has never steered me wrong.

It is Kathie Clemons Bennett (along with her dear mother Barbara and father, Gerry Clemons) who gave me the encouragement to keep on writing when I had just about decided to quit. Kathie said, “You can write. We’ll make this happen.” This wonderfully positive person became a dear friend and with her prodding, I met other writers who guided me to this point.

“Come drive these writers around at Books Alive. You need to do this,” Kathie said. And so I drove Ron Rash, Janis Owens, Linda Busby Parker, Karen Spears Zacharias, Cassandra King, Michael Curtis and his wife, Elizabeth Cox, Michael Morris, and Jeff Shaara around in my red Odyssey van and told them the story of my novel. Bless their hearts. 

I was active with the Friends of the Library at that time and started an Author Event once a month where I, or course, took these wonderful people to speak on WTVY with my friend Ann Varnum, to the Dothan Eagle to be interviewed with another friend Bill Perkins, and then to the event at the local restaurant where our speaker spoke and signed books. Some actually stayed with me in our home. We had a wonderful time! And, of course, I read some of my novel to them. They heard more about the Creek War than they ever wanted to know. They are very well-mannered people.

Karen Spears Zacharias was actually first published by Mercer and knew Marc Jolley, editor of Mercer University Press, personally. She said, “Marc Jolley LOVES Benjamin Hawkins. Your interest in Hawkins is right up his alley. Send it to him. And tell him I suggested that you do so.” I did. And the rest is history as they say. 

Marc Jolley told me that they wanted to publish my novel not as historical romance, but as historical fiction, and .... he wanted me to tone down the explicit sex (though it was VERY WELL WRITTEN) because they might market the novel as Young Adult (which I gather is hot at the moment). I didn’t realize I could write explicit sex, but there you go! Now all my friends want to read the original!

 After writing Swimming with Serpents (a story of love and the Creek War), I wanted to find out what happened to the survivors of that war and so I followed the Red Sticks into Florida and into the First Seminole War and wound up with Nest of Vipers (to be released in September of 2013). My plan is to take all of the characters introduced in Swimming with Serpents and tell their story through the Serpents Series of novels.

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