How I Began Writing Fiction

I have been writing since I was very young. Stories about my dogs and their secret lives, a creative writing contest in high school for Kiwanis which I won, science fiction stories, and finally in 2004 a memoir which I published as a book.

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I was lucky enough for Florida Classics Library to purchase most of my print run of 1100, and nearly all sold within a year. In the back of the book I included a small DVD with a screensaver on it of photos of the area around my home town.

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I had been working at Emerson Process Management at the time, and wrote articles for them on how their high-tech maintenance products saved customers millions of dollars for a few thousand dollars of investment.

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This bit of reflection on my life inspired me to continue in the field of books, and I got permission from my great-aunt to re-issue her deceased husband’s very popular novels. They were international best sellers. So I learned how to design books with InDesign, including the covers, and had some printed.

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I also made some maps of the countries in the books.

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Lots of fun!

I quickly realized that I did not know enough about the industry to sell my books, so I still have some, which I found make OK gifts - everyone does not have the taste for historical fiction that I do.

My wife Mary and I visited Charleston during this period, and I became fascinated with some of the history there. I began reading everything I could find on Charleston in the period of the Civil War, and hoped to write a novel one day on it.

Life went on, and from changing jobs and even moving briefly to Georgia and then back to Knoxville, I decided it was time, after some years, to get down to finishing the story.

My video and photo work kept me going and I love it, but finally I put myself to the task of telling a story in the written word.

My original story line changed, and it became more of a personal journey of characters I began to identify with, all hung on the framework of the real events documented in history.

I tried to include a wide range of the life experiences of someone living in the Low Country during that period, based on dozens of books I have read and internet websites that gave even more detail and data.

Finally it was as ready as I could get it. Each time I read over it to revise it I thought of changes, but realized it wasn’t making the book better, just a little different. So at last I printed out five hard copies on paper and sent them to friends who agreed to do content reviews. All are well-read, and one is a native of the Charleston area, two were college-trained writers, one a very bright woman who I knew to be an avid fiction reader, and one a retired businessman who could give me an angle on an African-American view of the story and its handling of slaves and free Blacks of the era.

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I was gratified that their changes were not major, not drastic, not, “You can’t say that!”, so I incorporated some of their suggestions and girded myself to submit it to a few publishers and a few agents.

That is the state of my efforts as of mid-July, and I am awaiting a positive reply as I continue my video and photography.

We moved to an apartment in South Knoxville with a nice view of the Tennessee River outside, so as I write (or video edit), I can turn to look out on the moving, changing waters, the geese and cormorants, as I begin work on my next novel.

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