I Don't Quit
Bill's Blog Shorts: Check 'em out. You never know what's in 'em.
I know, I know. One of the tenants of social mediateering (yeah, I just made that up) and blogging is that once you start, you continue posting on a regular basis to keep your followers engaged. So, why have I failed so miserably? Because, I’ve been writing. Re-writing, to be accurate. More about that in a minute.
First off, I’m a regular guy. Old school. I fix stuff that’s broken, build things with hand tools, and split wood for the Buck Stove. I’ve painted the houses I’ve lived in several times, renovated an entire kitchen, mow the grass, rake the leaves, and once upon a time, changed my kids’ diapers. The idea that I have “followers” is a bit pretentious and even a little embarrassing. Those who do follow my posts, God bless you. I appreciate it more than I can say. I think it would be a lot more fun to meet at the Thirsty Bruin and discuss things over a beer but this is how we “socialize” these days. And now that I’ve finished the re-write, I promise to try and do better. Thank you for your patience.
Now, about the re-write. About 25 years ago, I began my first novel, Aphrodite’s Whisper. I mainly wrote at night after the kids went to bed and on the weekends. It took more than four years to complete and, when done, I was quite proud. After about a month of sending letters to agents (that’s how it was done back then), I found a woman in New Jersey who loved the story and couldn’t wait to pitch it to A-List publishers. In short, their responses were, “close but no cigar.” Undaunted, I took their comments to heart, spent about six months rewriting it, and tried again. Alas, my agent was no longer interested and I got nowhere, fast. But I don’t quit.
About 11 or 12 years ago, I picked up the manuscript again, dusted it off, and re-wrote it again. After several months of querying my brains out, I found another agent, this time in New York. She loved it. In short, the publishers she pitched it to said, “closer, but no cigar.” But I don’t quit.
Seven years ago, I started writing Black Hearts White Bones and, after five years of writing at night and on weekends, I finished my second novel. I was quite proud. After having queried hundreds of agencies, I had only a handful that were willing to take a look and none who were interested in taking it on. I will never understand this. It’s a damn good story, as proven by the exceptionally high reviews it has received after publishing it independently. I had a fair number of agents say they liked the story but wouldn’t know how to market it. How about, “read this well-written, damn good story about two real pirates who may or may not have loved each other” as a marketing theme? I don’t know. Maybe they just couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that a confident, heterosexual male could write a story about two women. At its heart, Black Hearts White Bones is a love/hate story…two emotions that are universal regardless of the genders involved. Whatever. I don’t quit.
(Note: This article is not a whine. I’m just relating the history of where I am and how I got here because I think it’s important – especially to aspiring writers facing similar challenges.)
Once I finished writing BHWB and published it on my own, I figuratively picked up the e-copy of Aphrodite’s Whisper, dusted off the electrons, and started re-writing it, again. Why? Because it is a really good story. But this time it was different. As it turns out, I’m a much better writer than I was 25 or even 15 years ago. (Whether that improvement elevates my writing to the “good” or “great” level, I’ll let you be the judge.) After almost a year of hard work, I have finished the re-write and am now pitching it to a handful of select agents. If I don’t get lucky pretty quick, I will publish it independently as I did with BHWB.
I don’t quit.
So, what is Aphrodite’s Whisper about? Here’s the query text I’m using in my pitch to agents. It’s a love story. I hope you will find the premise interesting and I can’t wait for people to read it when it’s published – whether by me or a traditional publisher.
A romantic drama set against pivotal events in the early 20th Century and the beauty of the Outer Banks
How had things gone so wrong? Caelyn wondered. Her small hands, raw with broken blisters, were no longer able to grasp the oars. Their situation was desperate. It mattered little that the wind was dying and the sky was almost clear. Without fresh water, they would not survive long. Exhausted, she rested against the oar handles crossed in an X before her and sobbed, cursing the strange aversion that kept her from doing the one simple thing that might save them. But only for a few moments. She may not be stronger than the phobia but neither was she weak of constitution and determination. The tears shed were seen by no one and the release of pent-up emotion gave her new hope. Settling in next to the unconscious lifesaver to share body warmth against the growing cold, Caelyn prayed to the only gods that had ever afforded her comfort.
Aphrodite's Whisper is a love story that begins in the winter of 1903 with the grounding of a private yacht on North Carolina’s dreaded Diamond Shoals. Caelyn Canady, a moneyed-class misfit from New York, becomes a castaway forced to save herself and the man who should have rescued her. During her journey home, she finds love on the desolate dunes of the Outer Banks, witnesses man’s first flight, and becomes the woman she knows she is meant to be.
Ethan Roberts, her would-be rescuer, is a veteran of the Spanish-American War tormented by the deaths of his best friend and an innocent woman. In becoming a surfman, he has found refuge in the untamed isolation of Cape Hatteras where the next call for help may be the one that finally frees him from his guilt and pain. Whether it be through redemption or death he no longer cares – until the stoic Missourian’s passion for life is rekindled by the slight woman who saves his life.
Some 130,000 words long, Aphrodite’s Whisper is an epic love story in the vein of Cold Mountain with elements of Legends of the Fall and Bridges of Madison County woven into its literary fabric. Though painstakingly researched, the book’s historical detail serves only as the canvas on which the characters come alive. In short, Aphrodite’s Whisper is a timeless tale of two people who share a love so strong it survives betrayal, war, and even death.
William C. Furney
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