All I wanted was to research manmade earthquakes. I was pulling together ideas for a new novel about villains triggering an earthquake under a nuclear power plant. I had visions of them rubbing their hands together as they watched chaos unfold. But how could I research such a thing? Where would I go to find something as unlikely, as farfetched, and as absolutely insane as a nuclear power plant built on top of an earthquake fault? Well, lucky for me, there’s one in nearby Louisa County, Virginia.
The North Anna Nuclear Power Plant was announced in The Daily Progress in 1968 and a couple of years later, after clearing and excavation had begun, a geology professor named John W. Funkhouser discovered the earthquake fault. That was in February, 1970. I found many interesting articles about the building of the nuclear power plant and the discovery of the fault but one that really stuck out was a small piece about what happened to Funkhouser three years after he discovered the fault. He was murdered on December 3, 1974 via a single gunshot to the head.
Professor Funkhouser taught geology at John Tyler Community College in Chesterfield, Virginia. He was scheduled to testify before the Atomic Energy Commission (now called the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) in early 1975, but his murder quashed that appearance. Twenty-four year old unemployed electrician Ray W. Cook, Jr. was convicted of his murder. The more I read, the more questions arose. What brought Funkhouser to the power plant’s construction site back in 1970? How did he uncover the fault? What happened after he told the Virginia Electric and Power Company?
I tried to return to researching for my novel. I found reports of certain human activities triggering earthquakes. Activities such as damming a river to create a massive lake on a previously quiet earthquake fault. This is what geologists call reservoir-induced earthquakes. The construction of Hoover Dam, for instance, created Lake Mead in a part of the country with no previous record of seismicity. Even before the lake was completely full, people reported feeling the ground shake. Another suspect is fracking. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “wastewater produced by the hydraulic fracturing process can cause induced earthquakes when it is injected into deep wastewater wells.” I contacted geologists and a couple of engineers to ask about the plausibility of my villain’s dastardly scheme. Yes, they speculated, a lake on a fault line plus fracking might trigger an earthquake, so I was rather pleased with myself as I moved forward with writing the first few chapters.
But this man, this Professor John W. Funkhouser, the man who discovered the fault under the North Anna Nuclear Power Plant and was murdered, kept surfacing in my mind.
Who was he? What was his background? I searched the internet and found articles about Funkhouser and about his murder, including a copy of his death certificate. I faced the fact that I had to set aside my fictional story. I had to investigate the real one. I printed out the death certificate. Funkhouser was murdered in his home at the Chester Town House Apartments in Chesterfield, Virginia. I searched online for Chester Town House Apartments but found nothing. Since the murder was back in 1974, the apartment complex could have changed its name or may have been torn down. That led me to contact the Chesterfield Planning Department and the Chesterfield Historical Society. Indeed, the name of the apartment complex had changed. I typed the new name into Google Maps. There it was. I typed in John Tyler Community College. The apartments were about eight miles from the campus. Professor Funkhouser was slowly becoming a real person. This was where he lived. This was where he taught. This was where he died. Each new discovery made me want to learn more.
I’d never asked for court records before. I’ve been on a jury but that was my only brush with the world of judges, prosecuting attorneys, and witnesses. I had to do a bit of research even to know where to start. I wanted detail about the trial of Ray W. Cook, Jr. Maybe trial transcripts would give me insight into why he shot Professor Funkhouser. I went to the Chesterfield County website and found what I needed. I contacted the Clerk of Court, The Honorable Wendy S. Hughes, via email and quickly received a polite reply from Karla Viar, Criminal Division Supervisor/Pre-Court, Chesterfield Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. She told me that they’d pulled the files from the murder trial and had them available for me. I emailed Karla. I’d be there the next afternoon.
The drive from my home in Charlottesville to the Chesterfield Circuit Court took a bit over an hour. I parked, grabbed my purse and notebook, and headed to the door. I didn’t know what to expect. Would they hand me a small file with one flimsy document? Would they have a thick file with stacks of evidence? My plan was to take photos of each page with my cell phone. That seemed the easiest. I stepped into the courthouse and was greeted by baggage scanners and armed guards. “No cell phones. No cameras of any sort allowed in the court house.” I returned to the car and dropped off my purse. I returned with only my keys, my notebook, and a pen. That’s all. This time, I made it through security.
Ms. Viar was good to her word. The file was waiting for me. I opened it and began writing. I wrote down every word. “Form No. 716 (REV) Virginia: In the Chesterfield General District Court January 29th, 1975, Commonwealth of Virginia V. Ray William Cook, Jr. Order This day came the Attorney for the Commonwealth, and ….” after writing a few full pages my hand began it cramp. The clerk assigned to sit with me while I had the file must have felt pity on me. “Um, you know we can make copies for you,” she said. “Fifty cents a page.”
“Do you take credit cards?”
I ran back to my car for my wallet. It took an hour or so for her to make and compile all the copies. She copied over fifty pages, most letter length but a few legal papers. There was also a brown envelope taped closed in the file. “What’s that?” I asked.
“What do I have to do to get a look inside?”
“You need approval from the judge.”
I wrote down that name. The information I had in my hands was already pretty incendiary. The copies I held contained details of the crime, a handwritten confession, and a photo; I could only imagine what the sealed documents might hold. Looks like I had some more legal research ahead of me. How to request a judge to unseal court documents? I’d work on that when I got home.
I still had a couple hours of daylight left so I drove over to the John Tyler Community College campus, where Professor Funkhouser had taught. It was winter break. I asked a guard where the geology building was and he sent me in the right direction. I had researched enough about John W. Funkhouser to know he was a brilliant man. Magna Cum Laude at Washington and Lee and a scholarship to Stanford University for his PhD where he was an Atomic Energy Fellow. After graduation, he was hired by Carter Oil (part of Esso/Standard Oil) and was sent on expedition to South America where he revolutionized the field of paleopalynology. In the mid 1960’s, he left big oil for small academia. Peeking through the windows into the dark and empty classrooms I couldn’t help but be struck by the loss.
I still had one more stop before heading back to Charlottesville. I wanted to see the old Chester Townhouse Apartments. I wanted to see where Professor Funkhouser had lived and where he had died. At the very least, I wanted to drive the route he’d taken when he left work at John Tyler Community College and headed home on that final day in 1974.
The apartment complex was laid out like a tree with a road down the middle and cul-de-sacs branching out on either side. I drove down the first cul-de-sac. Some of the two-story townhouses were larger than others, perhaps an extra bedroom. I wanted to take a photo so I’d remember. I didn’t want people or cars in the photo so I found a quiet townhouse and snapped my cell phone camera. I drove to the next cul-de-sac and saw a sign for the apartment complex’s office.
The young woman who greeted me wasn’t even born when Professor Funkhouser died. The office was a converted townhome, a showroom for potential renters to see before they sign. I asked when the complex was built and she guessed in the 70’s or 80’s. I asked if I could look around. She encouraged it. I wandered through the kitchen as if it were Professor Funkhouser’s, touching the surfaces as if he had touched them. He was shot in his kitchen. I’d seen the photo in the court records. He was killed at 4:30 in the afternoon, dressed in a white shirt and dark pants, his pocket protector neatly in his breast pocket, still filled with pencils and pens. I returned to my car and drove to the next cul-de-sac and to the next one after that. Up and down the streets, not knowing what I was looking for. Clues to which townhouse was his, I guess. Something that looked different from the rest, something that would say a genius once lived here.
I was ready to set my GPS for home when it dawned on me that somewhere buried in the court records had to be his apartment number. Yes, the name of the apartment complex had changed and maybe the numbering had too, but I had to give it a try. I found his address in the Virginia Uniform Traffic Summons, a report filled out by the detective who arrested Mr. Cook. The number was there. Five digits. I started reading the townhouse addresses. They fit the same five digit pattern. I retraced my steps, winding back through the apartment complex, carefully reading the addresses until I returned to where I had begun at the very first cul-de-sac. I looked at each number. Not that one. Not that one. Then I found it. There it was. The address was on the front door. I rechecked the summons. Yes, it was the same number. Wait a minute. I checked my cell phone. There was something familiar with that particular townhouse. I opened up the photo gallery. I enlarged the photo I’d taken when I first arrived. Could this be Dr. Funkhouser’s townhouse? There must have been forty or fifty townhomes in the complex, how did I happen to take a photo of his? What were the odds? I reread the number on the front door and immediately felt a connection. All the time I had spent searching for Dr. Funkhouser and he had found me.
Carolyn O’Neal is continuing her research on the life and death of Professor John W. Funkhouser. She wrote Judge Hauler of Chesterfield County and did indeed receive permission to open the sealed files. From those files, she was able to track down a witness and interview him face-to-face. She has also interviewed (via phone) Dr. Funkhouser’s daughter and one of his John Tyler Community College students. Carolyn would like to connect with anyone who had worked at the North Anna Power Plant when it was under construction or lived nearby. She would also like to find anyone involved with the North Anna Environmental Coalition. And of course, she would like to talk to anyone who knew Dr. John W. Funkhouser. Contact Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Charlottesville Book Fair takes place on Saturday, November 18th, at City Space on the Downtown Mall, located at 100 5th Street NE, Charlottesville, VA 22902. City Space is near the Charlottesville City Hall and the Sprint Pavilion. Parking available at East Market Street garage.
The Charlottesville Book Fair is the second local author book fair I’ve coordinated. Last year the fair had 12 authors and was held at Writer House. This year the Book Fair is sponsored by the Blue Ridge chapter of the Virginia Writers Club and has 40 authors, 4 Virginia-based publishers, and hundreds of book! We needed a larger venue. That’s why this year, the Charlottesville Book Fair will be held at City Space on the downtown mall.
The list of authors is impressive. Best selling, award winning, passionate revolutionaries in thought and style. And the range of books is wide enough to entice every reader: Historical fiction, romance, science fiction, biography, horror, self-help, parenting manuals, children’s picture books, religious, spiritual, and young adult. Books just in time for holiday shopping!
Includes Story Time for preschoolers!
Take a look at some of the books!
KINGSLEY by Carolyn O’Neal. After colony collapse disorder finishes off the bees, a mysterious pandemic emerges attacking everyone with a Y-Chromosome. Fourteen year old Kingsley has more to lose than video games and the attention of the girl he loves. His mother believes millions of dollars in research can save him and she’ll lie, steal and worse to get it. Can an unscrupulous mother and a spirited girl save the last boy on earth? Fans of dystopian fiction and eco-thrillers (The Hunger Games, The MaddAddam Trilogy) will love KINGSLEY.
Ultimate Obsession by Milton Jones. In the aftermath of World War Two, college student Elizabeth Brewer is well aware of the devastation the war had on the available young men. When she meets volatile poet James Campbell, their relationship is passionate yet disturbing. James alternates between tenderness and cruelty to the point of mental illness. Together and apart, Elizabeth and James explore whether beauty and goodness can exist in this post-war world, or will the lust for power destroy all.
A M Carley’s book, FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers, is a writer’s handbook and reference guide. A useful source of inspiration – and intervention – when the creative juices aren’t flowing, FLOAT provides writers with numerous tools, plus the steps of the FLOAT Approach to becoming unstuck. In one reviewer’s words, FLOAT is “a must have for authors of all varieties. Actually for all artists, as well. Practical yet fun with real world steps to figuring out the next step in your project.”
TERRY AND THE MONSTER-BEATERS, written by Carolyn O’Neal, Illustrated by Pamela Evans. When Terry’s sunshine isn’t as bright as usual, she seeks the advice of a Blue Wizard, A Magic Scope, and a Green Sage (because it’s always good to get a second opinion.) From them, Terry learns that an invisible monster is nibbling on her. They tell her to go to the Monster-Beaters to drive away the monster. Terry travels to a castle and through a mysterious maze to find the masked Monster-Beaters. Terry is afraid but she discovers that even though the Monster-Beaters look scary, they are smart, helpful, and kind.
Finally…Practical advice and resources for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers of preschool age children. The Preschool Parent Primer is a trusted guide of best practices and resources for those who care for preschoolers. Pamela Evans, author of the Preschool Parent Primer, is a veteran teacher of over 30 years. Beyond her preschool classroom, she has developed curricula for various schools and run numerous Children’s programs. The Preschool Parent Primer is a easy to access, “go to” guide, dealing with the many issues and concerns that arise in the preschool years, including: What is normal behavior for a specific age; What to look for in a preschool; The parent-teacher relationship; Socialization; The importance of routine; Potty-training; and much more.
Sometimes the Little Town – Poetry by Sara M. Robinson Sara Robinson’s father, Hobby Robinson, was one of the most important photographers of the 20th century to be so little well-known, at least outside the Shenandoah Valley of central Virginia. He chronicled over three generations of Elkton townsfolk, compiling and self-publishing nine books. Using his vast collection of photographs, his own and those he obtained, he gave us a people and a place. SOMETIMES THE LITTLE TOWN is Sara’s gift of ekphrastic poetry inspired by the portraits in her father’s collection. And like her father’s work as a photographer, Sara’s poetry is a tribute to little towns everywhere.
Patsy Asuncion’s Cut on the Bias (Laughing Fire Press) is an adult poetry collection about her world slant as a bi-racial child raised by an immigrant father and American WWII vet. Powerful debut collection… with passionate imagery and deft rhythms…an American story, the story of immigrants all over the world, says Pamela Uschuk, American Book Award winner. She…blends culture survival with political awareness… accessible to readers of all ages and all backgrounds, says poet Nicole Yurcaba. Spell-binding…stories that grasp much of humankind, writes Author Angela Carter. Post WWII immigrants to today’s world drama, Cut on the Bias, considers universal issues.
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Inspired by her family’s experiences, Amy Lee-Tai has crafted an award-winning picture book, A PLACE WHERE SUNFLOWERS GROW. Mari wonders if anything can bloom at Topaz, where she’s interned along with thousands of other Japanese Americans during World War II. The summer sun is blazingly hot, and Mari’s art class has begun. But it’s hard to think of anything to draw in a place where nothing beautiful grows. Somehow, glimmers of hope begin to surface under the harsh sun – in the eyes of a kindly art teacher, in the tender words of Mari’s parents, and in the smile of a new friend. To learn more about the book and author, please visit www.amyleetai.com. According to U.S. Congressman Mike Honda, Amy’s book “shines a light on what we are capable of penetrating on our fellow citizens, and what we are capable of rising above.”
Tiger Pelt, a historical novel for adult readers, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015 and awarded the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Award’s bronze medal for historical fiction. “Korea serves as a perfect crucible for Kim’s expansive and impressive historical fiction debut, in which the characters must struggle against overwhelming odds… her vision is powerfully executed, taking readers through all the important landmarks of 20th-century Korean history, including the end of Japanese occupation and the division of Korea.” – Kirkus Reviews, (starred review)
Clare Sullivan De Lune relives her earlier years and reunites with her family when she goes back to her roots in the South. After an adventurous but unsuccessful campaign for Governor of California her life takes a new turn when she and her heartthrob Henry resettle on the East Coast. Secure in a love that had a risky beginning, they both plunge into challenging new careers. With talent and determination Clare achieves stardom as she turns over a new leaf on the road to happiness. “A very enjoyable read by a novelist who mixes romance, family scenes, workplace scenes, humor, sightseeing info, restaurant meal descriptions and plenty of insight into human nature.” – David Astor, On Literature blog.
The New York Times bestseller, A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons, is the story of a courageous man of color who was “enamoured with freedom” and determined to rise. Paul Jennings, born into slavery at Montpelier, was President James Madison’s manservant, and, once free, the author of the first White House memoir. This book sheds new light on Jennings’s complicated relationships with James Madison, the widowed Dolley Madison who broke her promise to free him, and Senator Daniel Webster who lent Jennings his purchase price. It details Jennings’s part in rescuing the portrait of George Washington from British torches, and his later efforts to help 77 men, women, and children reach freedom in the greatest-scale-ever-attempted slave escape.
Heart of a Dragon The Andrachen royal line rests uneasily. King Sebastian’s notorious lust for control spreads trepidation throughout Lismaria as power struggles monger hostility. Kinna’s irrepressible draw to the Dragons seems harmless until a discovery turns her life upside-down. Her search for answers morphs into a movement to overcome repression. But following her heart means danger and death for nearly everyone she loves. Will she choose safety or justice? As Sebastian’s power grows and darkness blankets Kinna’s hopes, her doubts overwhelm. Can she unveil her own heart of a dragon in time to face Sebastian for the ultimate showdown?
Guardian of the Vale Alayne Worth, a seventeen-year-old Water-Wielder, enters Clayborne Training Institute along with a host of Elementals her age to hone her abilities. When she discovers that her abilities extend far beyond only Water-Wielding, her fears increase as those who thirst for power seek to strip her of the Vale, the source of her talents.Tension blights Clayborne as the Elemental Alliance comes into power, and a clash between Natural Humans and Elementals threatens to destroy all those Alayne loves. Homework, friendship, and romance turn dark as enemies close ranks on Alayne. Will she survive the struggle that eventually shadows all of CommonEarth?
For six hundred years, Fenear,a land where humans can take wolf form, has warred with Maenor, its neighboring kingdom ruled by a ruthless dynasty. The possibility of peace emerges when the Maenoren Overlord, Rhael, enters negotiations with Fenearen leaders Bayne and Silver, but their niece, Rayna, is skeptical. Yet, when Rhael proposes to her, she agrees for the sake of her country, despite her family’s objections and a blossoming romance with her best friend. Suspicion changes Rayna’s decision, but before she can annul the agreement, powerful forces subdue her with a sinister hex. With Fenear and everyone she loves in danger, Rayna must escape and break the hex to save her best friend and homeland.
A Manual for Developing Humans is the third book PMH Atwater was told to write during her third near-death experience. Based entirely on threes, each section covers the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious aspects of the topic – every topic – for the Manual contains the basics for becoming fully human. Being more spiritual is backwards thinking. The real goal of life is to become who we already are. “Hu” was the ancient sound of God. “Hu-Man” meant “God-Man.” Literally, we are each gods in the making. Twenty-eight thoughtform drawings illustrate this unusual Manual. Aliveness jumps from every page.
Treason in the Secret City “The secret World War II-era nuclear experiments carried on at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, provide ample incentives for spying—and ample opportunities for amateur sleuths. The pressure cooker of suspicion that permeates the facility makes it nearly impossible to know whom to trust. This sequel to Scandal in the Secret City (2014), which has some basis in fact, is faster-paced than Fanning’s debut while maintaining the 1940s atmosphere and emphasizing the difficulties of wartime life, especially for educated women.” Kirkus Reviews
Eyes Without A Face is a first-person account from a female serial killer. While her sorority sisters were engaged in sex, drugs, and rock and roll, she finds her true calling when she kills her first victim. She doesn’t have a neon sign stating, “Warning! Serial Killer!” following her around, yet she moves through life carrying a secret: She is a killer and no one suspects her. For her first premeditated kill, she selects a distracted victim, stalks her, and chokes her “to see what it looks and feels like to cause someone to die.”
Beyond the cemetery gates, rows upon rows of headstones are lined up in military precision. Each is inscribed with a soldier’s name and regiment and each of them has a story to tell. Stories Beneath the Stones: Richmond National Cemetery by Joann Meaker, newly published by American History Press, Staunton, VA, is the result of years of extensive research utilizing a multitude of documents and a variety of source materials exploring the lives of the Civil War soldiers who were buried in the Richmond National Cemetery when it opened 150 years ago. This one-of-a-kind book details information that will be appreciated and valued by descendants, historians, genealogists, as well as those interested in the Civil War and historic cemeteries. For more details of each book check out my website: www.joannmeaker.com
F.A.C.T.S. (Faith and Commitment Through Scripture) A New Testament Bible Study Series, Book 1: Journey through the New Testament, exploring the period and setting in which the letters were written, as well as the circumstances of the authors when they wrote them. This uncomplicated and easy-to-follow series of studies begins with the earliest written letters, following the writers through their travels and trials until the last book was composed. Each verse is explained in context with the times in an attempt to stay true to the author’s intent. The series is intended for both personal study and group studies. Other books by Joanne Liggan include her romantic suspense family saga trilogy spanning a 30 year period beginning in the 1970’s and ending in 2030; Heir of Deception, Air of Truth, and Err at Sea.
Linda Palacios, an undocumented college student, crossed the border at age three with her mother, Juanita, to escape their traumatic life in Mexico and to pursue the American dream. Tim Draker, a long-unemployed businessman, decides to take his own life. Before he can carry out his plan, he finds a job as a mechanic in the barrio. While Juanita deals with nightmares of her traumatic past, la migra raids her workplace and she loses her job. Will the three of them allow God to guide them, or will their own desires and goals get in the way of His path?
A lost lamb, a cross, and a conversation with Jesus are the components in this touching, poetic message of forgiveness, mercy, love, and the Savior’s ultimate act of sacrifice. LAMB OF GOD:INSPIRATIONAL STORY AND JOURNAL FOR CHILDREN, by author Christine Maria Jahn, is geared towards ages seven through nine, or second through fourth grades, and includes Bible verses to learn, as well as journal pages for young ones to write their thoughts and prayers. The sketches are black and white to purposely have children concentrate on the story itself and the important message contained within it. However, children can color the sketches if they so choose. There is also plenty of space on the story pages for doodling. A great way to introduce children to the art of journaling without it being overwhelming.
Tabby House presents Virginia-based books for all ages, including Linda Salisbury’s award-winning Bailey Fish Adventure children’s series that combine fiction with Virginia history. She’s also the author of The Sword and the Broom: The Exceptional Career and Accomplishments of John Mercer Langston, which won a silver award in the Young Adult category of Foreword magazine’s national Indies contest in 2017. Langston, Virginia’s first African American Congressman (1888), was born in Louisa County to a white plantation owner and his former slave. It’s a stunning and inspirational story that’s largely unknown today. Jim Salisbury will sell his popular cookbook, Roadkill Roundup, (with samples)—a perfect holiday gift for cooks of all ages.
Elizabeth Van Zandt – Ashes of The Stars: The Stars Series Book 1: Aili Renault doesn’t care that the modern world and billions of people died 200 years ago. She doesn’t care that extremist factions rose up and created another war, but she does care that the war controls her entire life. In a world of kill or be killed, Aili fought back to survive and became what everyone knows as the Reaper. She is feared everywhere she goes, even in her own mind. When Aili meets Kieran, Kai, and Whitestrand, the ghosts of her ruthless, bloody past start fighting back. She is haunted by the memories of those lives she’s destroyed and a dream that never made sense to her before. Now, with eyes wide open, will Aili be able to pull herself out of her crumbling world or will she become ashes of the stars?
Cat Viggolone just can’t get a break. She’d gotten married, but that ended when the husband left her for his younger secretary. She’d wanted children. That flew out the window along with the cheating husband. There’s the career, but working a window at the Virginia DMV can’t really be classified as a great career choice. At thirty-three, her life had become positively dull. Then the vortex opened. Cat’s life is definitely no longer humdrum and ordinary.
Judith D. Howell’s SWAMP RITES is a supernatural/horror/romance novel about werewolves. It’s about a reunion weekend for four childhood friends, with love, obsession, secrets, and murder, in a little Louisiana swamp town. SWAMP LEGACY, Book II in the SWAMP SERIES trilogy, is recently published and also available. “Desiring a werewolf might not be so hard, especially when voodoo is involved, but learning to love him could be a lot more difficult.” It is adult reading, scene and language specific.
CAIRNAERIE By M.K.B. Graham Geneva Snow commits the unpardonable Southern sin, forcing her devastated yet steadfast father to cloister her at Cairnaerie, his Virginia mountain estate. After years alone—and desperate to leave a legacy worthy of the father she loved and lost—Geneva engages an unwitting young history professor to help her to leave Cairnaerie long enough to witness the wedding of her granddaughter—a girl dangerously unaware of their shared lineage. But when an accusation of impropriety, a mail clerk’s malevolence, and a colleague’s revenge converge, the long-kept secret is exposed. And for a second time, Geneva faces a calamity of her own making. Only this time, there is no place to hide.
Freedom Riders by Jean Young Kilby is a middle-school mystery that brings an era of explosive social change up close and personal through the eyes of two girls. Growing up in the racially segregated South doesn’t bother 12-year-old Jan. She’s pretty clueless, always burying her nose in mystery books. Thelma, however, is a girl with a dream. Someday she wants to be a Freedom Rider like her dad so she can make Mississippi a better place. When Jan meets Thelma, they quickly become entangled in a real-life mystery more complicated than they expected. They are thwarted at every turn in their pursuit of truth. But once they learn friends can come in all colors—once they learn dreams can be shared—amazing discoveries follow.
Alone in the tapestry of a shimmering green forest, standing on a mist covered mountain top, or crossing a rippling creek, we find her majesty. In that place of serenity, nature sends her emissaries. If only we are willing to see and hear her sometimes subtle yet powerful ways. Mystical Animals of Ancient Oak is a series of true stories that chronicles the journey that Cynthia Fain took after her mother nearly died. Along that unchartered emotional path, nature sent Cynthia her finest healers, including a flightless duck, a cat that served as community ambassador and an aging squirrel.
Rain Makes the Rocks Sing, Inspirations from Nature By Louise M. Mitchell, email@example.comA great gift for nature lovers, spiritual seekers, and anyone wanting the relief that humor and wisdom bring. Ever pick up a little stone that catches your attention and put it in your pocket? This collection of inspirations is for you. Captured in a deck of cards with explanatory book (sold as a set), the voice of wisdom that awakens the light within. “While electronic media are common sources for daily information,” the author says, “so too, is the web of timeless knowledge woven through nature.”
Retired U.N. spy Mai Fisher leaves a diplomatic reception on a cold, rainy night and dashes for the first cab she sees. The driver’s Serbian tattoo makes her suspicious, and she forces him to admit he was waiting for her—to deliver her to the Russian Mafiya. Alexei Bukharin left the life of a spy behind to spend time with his wife, Mai Fisher, and finish raising his college-student granddaughter, Natalia. When he brings Mai dry clothes after her encounter, he discovers she’s suffered something that can mean death: Someone knows her true identity. A raid on the Russian thugs’ apartment uncovers something more devastating, a photograph of Natalia at her university. Who burned Mai? Why is the Russian underworld interested in Natalia? When Alexei discovers the answers, he realizes a decision he made in 1974 has come back to haunt him.
Banished as a boy, Damon Blackbourne vowed never to return to his family’s estate, much less London. However, when his father and brother die unexpectedly, Damon must assume the Malford dukedom and introduce his sisters to society–his worst nightmare. He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The debutante stirs him body and soul. Until she discovers his secret. Grace prefers solitude and reading to social anything. Her family may be pressuring her to marry, but she has other plans. And they don’t include the notorious new Duke of Malford. Will she betray him? Or will she be his saving Grace
His love made her strong, her love saved him. Rebellion brews inside Milenda’s heart as the date for the Trials approaches. As the heiress to the throne of Natale, she is forced to choose a consort from the survivors of the grueling quest across the desert. Milenda’s heart belongs to Jaali and wants no part in the ancient and cruel ritual, but the Elders—the true rulers of Natale—will not back down. Jaali was brought from the far North as a child slave. His only chance to be with the woman he loves is to volunteer for the Trials, no matter how dangerous or how much Milenda objects.
Revolutionary new way to look at relationships and marriage that offers a 4-step program for achieving a profoundly fulfilling and lasting bond with a partner. In a culture of individualism that focuses on the behavior of each individual in a partnership, this book brings in a third entity, “Couple” that is greater than the sum of its parts and is the key to creating and maintaining lifelong love. Couple is part of a process that is facilitated by completing the 4 tasks of Lifelong Love in the following order: Commitment to a common vision for the relationship, Cooperation to achieve that committed vision, Communication that serves the common vision, not only the needs of the individuals, and a Community of other couples who support and nurture the relationship. Filled with examples based on the authors’ experience as clinical psychologists and co-founders of Couples Coaching Couples, Inc., as well as their 40-year marriage, this book provides the tools you need to have the profoundly satisfying and lasting relationship of your dreams
Meghan and Kyle head off to spend some quality mother-son time at a resort along the idyllic Lake Oleander. The picturesque and secluded escape promises a nearly perfect summer vacation. The seemingly placid lake also holds a dark secret; the bodies of those sacrificed to the local deity. Their arrival sets the gears of an ancient prophecy in motion. They find themselves suddenly set against unimaginable forces, ancient and evil, hoping to either forestall or accelerate the prophecy’s fruition. Deep beneath the bedrock of the town of Riapoke, an evil lay festering for hundreds of years. It waits patiently for the inevitable day it will taste freedom and claim what its rightful heritage.
Much has been written about Thomas Jefferson, from drafting the Declaration of Independence until his death, but little was known about our iconic founding father’s first 31 years of life: his adolescence, friends, boarding schools, family deaths, college years, courting Martha, law practice, Shadwell house fire, earthquakes, flood, and more! The 2017 Pacific Book Review “First Place” Award winning biography, Thomas Jefferson-From Boy to Man is a biographical and historical account of Jefferson’s journey to manhood. Written in journal format and supplemented with background text, it includes 65 photos to enhance the reader’s imagination. Now you can listen to Thomas Jefferson reminisce about his youth in the new audio book, which was just awarded “Finalist” in the Multi-Voice Acting category by the Audio Publishers Association! To understand the man, it is important to learn about the boy!
What About Me? by Marc Boston is the story of a little girl, the youngest of three, who desperately seeks the attention of her two older sisters. They go about the business of having fun, blithely unaware of their littlest sister’s attempts to join in the play. This story touches on how discovering our own gifts makes us more self-empowered.
OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS Zachary Tamer has published three children’s books, The Story of the Snugglefink, The Return of Foggitytree and The City of Paws2Care. All of the stories follow the same characters and deal with themes such as environmental protection, volunteerism, and seeing more than ourselves in the mirror! The City of Paws2Care can only be purchased online and all proceeds go to the therapy dog company Paws2Care. All stories are for children ages 5-9. Most recently Zachary and his father collaborated on a poetry book, Fleeting Moments, which reflects their life experiences and their unique writing styles
Exciting Adult Science Fiction Adventure in a Universe of Uncanny Aliens — the Forlani Saga novels by J. M. R. Gaines Life Sentence — Convicted of three murders, whistle-blower Willie Klein finds himself transported to a penal colony on Domremy where his unlikely job is to kill fellow colonists before they fall into the clutches of insectoid Locals. His gruesome task is only relieved by the growing affection of Entara, an alien pleasure worker from a matriarchal world. Until their brief happiness is destroyed by an arranged marriage and sinister conspirators. Spy Station — When Forlani delegate Entara and her eldest daughter Ayan’we are summoned to the Interzonal Peace Conference, they find themselves in a web of deceit. Preventing an apocalyptic war between the belligerent Song Pai and the mysterious Blynthians seems nearly impossible.
Before any public appearances, clarify your on-line/social media message. Who are you? What is your book about? Is it funny? Romantic? Dramatic? Does your book reflect your passions? Your message should be in your on-line presence. I have a website, an author Facebook page, and a twitter account. That’s where readers go to learn about me and my novel, KINGSLEY.
Getting Book Signings on the Calendar
Indie Bookstores are a great place for indie authors. But, be forewarned, they sometimes have problems with selling self-published… and they have a good reason: Amazon is their biggest competitor. This can be a problem is you are using Create Space to print your book.
ON THE OTHER HAND…. Independent coffeehouses that also sell books are very accommodating and lots of fun. Owners and managers are always looking for events to bring people in. And customers in coffeehouses are looking for reading material. Even if customers don’t buy my book right away, I’ve told them about my novel and given them a flyer.
Generally my take from the book sales is split 80-20 (I get 80%, they get 20%), especially if they are processing credit cards. But keep in mind that the purpose of this book signing isn’t just about the money. The real purpose is to get your name and book out there. Expand your reach to different geographical areas if you can afford the time and cost of travel.
How to make contact
Stopping in the coffeehouse for a drink and a bite to eat is the best introduction! See the set up and talk to the staff. Perhaps even talk with the manager. If you can’t talk face to face, most coffeehouses have websites. Send them an email! Here is an example:
I am a local author- I live in Charlottesville-and I was wondering if Milli Joe’sis interested in hosting a book signing. I would take care of publicity and would bring everything needed.
My novel is set in Virginia – including Charlottesville- so there is lots of local interest.
I hope we can work out a date.
Thank you very much,
Say you get something like this in response:
Glad to hear you’re interested in hosting your signing at Milli! I’m definitely very interested, we’ve hosted a couple in the past & I really enjoy this kind of thing. We do have to be somewhat selective in booking these events to make sure they send the kind message we can get behind as an organization. Could you tell me a little about the book? Thanks!
Now the ball is back in your court:
Thank you so much for getting back to me. I am an environmentalist so I usually write ecologically-themed fiction. KINGSLEY is the title of my novel. It’s set in Virginia (including Charlottesville) and centers on a 14 year old boy (named Kingsley) facing an environmentally driven pandemic. Comparable titles would be Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy in that KINGSLEY starts in the present and ends around 40 years in the future. I would recommend KINGSLEY to readers 14 years old or older. I does have some complex science but no explicit sex or violence.
I’ve attached the flyer that I hand out at book signings. You’ll notice that there’s a bee on the cover. I tell people stopping by my table that in KINGSLEY, I have taken the real world devastation of the honeybees and moved it up the food chain to humans. This usually get their attention. Everyone walks away with something from my table, whether it is a book, flyers from my favorite environmental groups, or insight into how they can help preserve the honeybees.
I’m flexible on date and time for the book signing.
Set the Date and Time for this book signing and start the process again for your next book signing.
Note: This is where some prep work comes in handy. I mentioned handing out flyers at book signings. Flyers are also a good to give to the coffeehouse manager as an introduction to you and your book. They should tell readers something about your book, including the cover, and contact information.
Drop off flyers at the coffeehouse a week before the book signing so customers will know you’re coming. Be sure your social media is ready so customers can read about you and your book in advance. Contact local newspapers and post your book signing on their events calendars. Post the event on all your social media and ask friends and family to share. Send emails about the event to everyone you know and tell everyone you see.
Finally, be prepared for whatever happens, whether you sell all the copies of your book or none at all. You’ve spread the word and sharpened your pitch. Pick yourself up and contact another coffeehouse and set another date.
Practice, practice, practice.
Prepping for your book signing…. Coming in my next blog post
When Star Wars came out in the summer of 1977, I was 20 years old. I enjoyed the movie but I didn’t get Princess Leia. Princess? Really?
She didn’t look like a princess. She didn’t wear sparkling gowns to the ball. She didn’t even go to a ball! She didn’t cry when she was captured. She didn’t swoon when she was rescued. She did none of these. She took charge. She grabbed Luke’s gun and shot an escape route right into the garbage pit, and then jumped in head first. What kind of Princess does that?
Truth is I don’t remember watching any shows with Princesses when I was growing up. I liked action and heroes so I watched WESTERNS! Bonanza, The Rifleman, and High Chaparral, to name a few. Handsome men and daring adventures. If you’ve seen any these series, you know that women had one role—to marry the male lead and then promptly die. Shot by a stray bullet during a gunfight was the usual culprit. That gave time for one last kiss before dying in the male lead’s arms. Sure there were the occasional barmaids like Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke, but for most women in westerns, their roles were to die. What was the reason behind these oft-repeated 60-minute courtship/marriage/death scenarios? This was the 60’s remember. Men didn’t cry on TV or in real life. Not unless they had a good reason and a dead wife was a good reason. Dead wives gave the male leads a reason to cry or seek revenge or go temporarily insane. All of which made for great TV but wasn’t much of a role model for impressionable preteen female viewers like me.
Then came Star Wars and things changed. The most popular motion picture on the planet had a pretty young Princess who wasn’t just as a plot device. She didn’t wear ball gowns or worry about her hair. She didn’t pine over a boyfriend or worry about her wedding. She was tough! She challenged the men who captured her and bested the men who rescued her, all the while never losing who she was by trying to be just one of the guys. She never lowered herself in an effort to seek popularity or approval.
Forty years later, TV and movies have a slew of tough young heroines: Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, Rey and Jyn Erso in the latest Star Wars movies. And writers are emboldened to have strong female characters, too. As the author of KINGSLEY, I know a thing or two about writing powerful female characters. I have heroes and villains, scientists and tradesmen all who are women. (per the Kirkus Reviews … KINGSLEY sports “a strong cast of varied and complex women.”) It’s actually the guys that need rescuing. I like to think that Princess Leia would be proud.
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2
If the term self published bothers you, drop it. You are an indie author. Your imprint is Create Space or Ingram Publishing Services or whatever publisher puts ink on paper for you.
Part Two: Book Festivals
All literary festivals have applications to fill out and deadlines to meet. Be sure to read the rules and guidelines before submitting your book. If your book doesn’t comply with their requirements but you have your heart set on hobnobbing with the other authors, it’s worth contacting the director.
I had my heart set on being part of the Virginia Festival of the Book.
Since KINGSLEY wasn’t coming out until November 8th and the Virginia Festival of the Book deadline for submission was October 1st, I asked permission to submit the final draft of my novel instead of the finished product. I was very fortunate that they agreed.
The sad fact is that most Literary Festivals aren’t welcoming to indie authors. When they are, they seem to give priority to indie authors living in their state. This is where doing some legwork before you publish pays off. I was an active volunteer for many years with the Virginia Festival of the Book, and I’d moderated and participated in panels. I can’t say for certain that this is why I was accepted but it might have helped.
The Virginia Festival of the Book is a multi-day literary festival in Charlottesville, Virginia. The festival invites authors and publishing experts from all over the country. Most of the events are free so they draw a good crowd. The festival is held in March, which means weather can be a factor in its success. A lovely spring day attracts more attendees. Rain or snow is a real wet blanket. My panel was scheduled for a Friday at a popular library. I was looking forward to it.
Regardless of whether an author is invited to participate in a panel, they can still rent a table at the Omni Hotel on the last Saturday of the festival to sell their books. I rented half of a table, which cost $110.
Bottom line: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your book or to rent a table if your goal is to be part of a book festival.
Once I had advance reader copies of KINGSLEY, I began submitting to other Literary Festivals. At that time I didn’t realize how slim my chances were of getting in. Most of the festivals I applied to required several copies of my book, which meant more trips to the post office. Money going out and none coming in.
I was rewarded for my hard work with acceptance to the Dahlonega Literary Festival in Georgia. This festival was scheduled for the weekend before the Virginia Festival so March was filling up with opportunities to talk about my book. I was to be part of a panel that wrote science fiction and fantasy. I had high hopes so I rented a space for book signings and sales. It only cost around $35. Not bad, but attending the festival in Georgia meant renting a hotel and a couple tanks of gas to drive there and back.
Was it worth it? Not in sales. But both festivals allowed me to spread the word about KINGSLEY, sharpen my presentation, and focus my pitch.
And as the saying goes,
“How do you get toCarnegie Hall?”
“Practice, practice, practice”?
Next up: Practice makes perfect (or at least better). Watch for it in 2017
After spending years writing KINGSLEY, I felt like everyone knew everything about my novel. Family and friends had heard about it, read excerpts, and even backed my Kickstarter campaign to push KINGSLEY through the final steps of publication.
A month before KINGSLEY launched, I contacted a local book store to host the launch party. The date was set, invitations sent, menu planned. About 50 people attended, filling the small bookstore.
Certainly by now, everyone in the world had heard about KINGSLEY, right?
All I had to do was watch the sales numbers to learn the truth.
Over my next few posts, I will lead you through my meandering marketing of KINGSLEY. My failures, my successes, and what I learned along the way.
Let’s start at the beginning. I decided to publish KINGSLEY through Amazon (eBook) and Create Space (an Amazon company that prints paperbacks.) I found both easy to use and cost effective. Their websites are clear and their technical support is great. Need help in a hurry? Create Space gives you the option to input your phone number on their help page and receive an immediate call back.
The upside to using Amazon and Create Space is obvious. Amazon is the largest book seller in the world! This meant I could market my novel to the entire world.
Good luck with that. It’s hard enough getting people in your town to buy your book, let alone readers in France or Japan to purchase an unknown book by an obscure author written in English. But at least by using Amazon, readers in other countries have the opportunity to buy my book.
The downside of using Create Space to print your book is that some bookstores, including Barnes and Noble, won’t work with Create Space. Amazon is their competitor. If you find a way to make a deal with Walmart, Barnes and Noble, or Costco please let me know and I will pass it along!
Now that I’ve told you what you can’t do, stay tuned for ideas on how and where to sell your self-published book.
Writing a novel is a long, meandering journey, more akin to kayaking unexplored waterways than jetting to a known destination. Writing KINGSLEYtook years.
Plot and character.
Revising and editing.
Critiquing chapters with my writing groups and sifting through their suggestions.
A thoroughly enjoyable adventure from start to finish.
That was writing.
Publishing is a very different adventure.
Publishing is where art and business join … and I knew I needed help.
Let me back up a bit. It was clear from the first time I met Bethany Carlson that she was a rare talent. Not only did she have the rich imagination of an author but she also had a practical head for business. I remember one writing group meeting several years ago in which I prophetically told her she should go into publishing. That’s why I take partial credit for the success of her company, The Artist’s Partner.
The Artist’s Partner is a coach for artists becoming entrepreneurs. We provide crowdfunding consulting, and have helped artists raise over $90,000 for their creative projects through Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
We work with arts companies and non-profits, authors, musicians, filmmakers, theater production companies, crafts persons, and other artists who seek to raise funds to professionally produce and distribute their own work.
I had seen Bethany’s work ethic and her insightfulness. I had seen her honesty, her deep patience, and her eternal optimism. These were the qualities I needed if I intended to go from private writer to public author. When I felt ready to publish KINGSLEY, I contacted Bethany.
First thing she did was establish a clear timeline.
Bethany guided me through how to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign. We discussed the intense prep work needed, then blocked out the time for editing and cover design, and then we set a target date for proofing the final drafts, distributing the books to my Kickstarter backers, and finally, publication.
As I began prepping for the campaign, Bethany set up a meeting with local director Michael Duni to shoot my promotional video.
My Kickstarter campaign ran one month, raised over $5000, and presold close to 100 copies. Even more important, the campaign spread the word and built excitement.
KINGSLEY was coming!
Bethany put me in contact with Graphic Artist Mayapriya Long of Bookwrights to discuss the cover. Honestly, that may have been the best part of the entire process. Here are a few of the iterations…
She contacted copy editor Betsy Ballenger for the final review and then, KINGSLEY hit the presses!
The launch party for KINGSLEY was held on November 8, 2015 at Over the Moon Bookstore.
It was a huge success and a wonderful experience! Here are some fun photos from the launch:
Local writing group BACCA Literary knows from experience: Writers benefit from a small group of similar-minded folk. Yet finding a group that works is a challenge. On August 1st, BACCA Literary will guide Navigating Your Writing Life: Balancing Craft and Business Symposium-goers in a fun and educational, hands-on mixer that will break the ice and start the process of building a writing community.
Bethany Joy Carlson is a screenwriter and owner of The Artist’s Partner, a business consulting firm for entrepreneurial authors, filmmakers, musicians, and other artists. She is a founding member of BACCA Literary and Vice President of WriterHouse. Her eclectic career includes teaching math at the Renaissance School and casting for film and television with arvold. She is originally from Seattle, WA but has loved calling Charlottesville home since 2010.
AM (Anne) Carley has published nonfiction articles on arts, education, technology, and social policy, and is currently writing the fictional story of a Midwestern journalist named Andie Jordan. A founding member of BACCA Literary, Anne is an editor and book developer. Her company, Chenille Books, helps nonfiction authors complete and polish their books, including The Art of the Q, by Charlie Van Hecke, Sassy Salad Secrets by Bobbie Jo Lieberman and Kenny Weber, Making It Up As You Go by Isabel McNeill Carley, Dead, Insane, or in Jail: A CEDU Memoir by Zack Bonnie, and Records to the Rescue! By Christine Ballard.
Carolyn O’Neal is a passionate environmentalist and a daring storyteller. Her first novel, KINGSLEY, is a creative and intriguing eco-fiction to be published in November 2015. Her short story, SILENT GRACE, won 2nd prize in The Hook’s prestigious 2013 short story contest, judged by bestselling author John Grisham. Carolyn is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and is active in the Oyster Shell Recycling Program. She is a founding member of BACCA Literary. Carolyn was born three blocks from the Chesapeake Bay in Norfolk, VA. She now lives in Charlottesville.
Claire E. Cameron will begin a position in Fall 2015 as Associate Professor in the Learning and Instruction department at the University at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Education. Her primary research examines foundational cognitive skills (e.g., self-control) in early childhood and how teachers can better organize classroom environments for learning. She is also a non-fiction writer who seeks to understand how researchers can effectively communicate, both within academia and to the public. She edited Braver Than You Believe: True Stories of Losing Love and Finding Self (The Last Play, 2013), by Sue Mangum. Claire is a founding member of BACCA Literary.
Like every reader, I’ve come across typos and small continuity errors in novels and short stories, but few created the world-wide uproar as the error found on page 667 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the First American edition, July 2000.
Voldemort and Harry’s wands had met in battle and the result was Voldemort’s ghostly victims spewing out in the reverse order that he killed them, that is, his last victim coming out of his wand first. When Harry’s parents appeared, his father came out of the wand before his mother.
My son was seven years old in the summer of 2000. My husband, my son, and I were reading aloud this fourth book in the beloved Harry Potter series and we immediately realized the mistake. Since it was Lily Potter’s love of her son, Harry, which destroyed Voldemort, she should have come out of Voldemort’s wand before Harry’s father. See http://www.hp-lexicon.org/about/exp-wandorder.html for more details about the wand order problem.
Secondarily, I learned that writers must utilize many proofreading tools to minimize typos and continuity errors.
Here are a few of my favorite proofreading techniques:
One: Read what you’ve written and then read it again. And again. Read it until you can’t find any errors. But don’t submit yet. Your proofing has just begun.
Two: Read it out loud. Hearing your words is like turning on the light in a dim room. Errors shine in the spotlight of the voice. Words should flow off the page. If you stumble as you read your own writing aloud, imagine how it will sound to others.
Three: Record your voice as you read what you’ve written. My favorite way to record my voice is with my I-Pod. Under Extras, I select Voice Memos. I record a piece and listen to it over and over until I catch all the elusive logic and continuity errors.
IPod Shuffle, Nano, Classic, and Touch
Four: Ask others to read your work. This is when being a member of a great writing group REALLY pays off. Having three or four or five other people read and discuss your work helps you find everything from simple typos to major plot problems. Yes, you can ask your parent or spouse to read your writing, but can they give you objective feedback? Probably not. For more information on creating a great writing group, go tohttps://baccaliterary.com/how-to-create-a-writing-group/
All of the above works well for small pieces. Short stories or poems. But what about novels? Reading 80,000 words aloud would be exhausting. The answer:
Five: Text to Voice software. Text to Voice software converts the words you’ve written into a natural sounding voice. This is especially helpful when listening to multiple chapters. I use NaturalReaders. A downloadable free sample of NaturalReaders is available at http://www.naturalreaders.com/download.php.
NaturalReader is a Text to Speech software with natural sounding voices. This easy to use software can convert any written text such as MS Word, Webpage, PDF files, and Emails into spoken words. NaturalReader can also convert any written text into audio files such as MP3 or WAV for your CD player or iPod.
It takes the trained eye approximately 0.02 seconds to notice the glaring typo on page one of a submission. And sometimes we editors are so stressed/exhausted/cranky that reading, “The tour-tooted animals” instead of the four-footed ones in the manuscript we’re looking at on our 4 p.m. lunch break is just the dose of hilarity needed to dissolve us into a dripping puddle of laughter-tears.
Read It As An Educated Reader
Now it’s time to read over your manuscript for anything an editor may find problematic enough to make her beg St. Francis de Sales for instant death. Are you making sexist/racist/controversial statements that have absolutely no bearing on the story? Get rid of them. Do you spend an entire chapter claiming your senator eats paint? Prove it with facts or rethink it. Does the book rely on stereotypes? That’s boring. No one wants to be bored and editors have especially short attention spans.
Exterminate all clichés. Even if they’re fairly new to the vernacular, just imagine how many times an acquiring editor sees them. I never want to see a person’s face described as a “mask of” horror/terror/ugliness/anything ever again.
Another thing. Pay attention to how many times you repeat words or phrases. Have you ever said a word so many times in a row that it loses all meaning? That’s what the editor will feel like if you use the phrase “so-and-so snorted” 381 times in a two hundred-page novel. I once had an author who used “shared” instead of “said” every single time, and I still can’t say/hear/read/think the word without wanting to throttle whatever good Samaritan is sharing her fruit platter with the rest of the office.