Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Harnessing a Heritage - my first book

I was tagged by a friend, fellow author and co-member of the Laguna Woods Writers Group, to do something I rarely do: continue a chain letter.  There was no threat, no claim for riches if I sent to five or more friends within the next 12 hours, no promises other than I might stir interest in my book from a group that is often both appreciative of writing efforts and occasionally willing to buy a book.

Sue Ellen wrote her blog about her upcoming book and I was very impressed.  You could read that at: http://www.zimatravels.com/wordpress,

So, I am devoting this issue of my Blog, regularly found at www.DoctorEclectic.com to answering ten standard questions about said book.  Easier research than usual and a chance to follow some new bloggers.

First Question: What is the working title?

That’s pretty easy because the book is now published and can even be found at: Amazon.

Second Question:  Where did you get the idea?

I married and entered the US Navy as a dentist right after graduation from Marquette and embarked on a 25 year career with at least 15 major moves.  With little money we rented through half that time and a major furniture possession was a Danish Wall Unit, which seemed to fit in wherever we were.  Now, after thirty years in the same place, that wall unit’s shelves and fixtures have assumed a story of their own.  As I watched television I was struck by the fact that these stories; how and why things appeared there, might have general interest.  So, each of the Chapters in the book has its own shelf or space.  The cover of the book is the wall of our bedroom, most of which are items my mother had framed, which tell the story of her family from the 1830’s to the 1880’s. It struck me that my children and grandchildren have not been gathering their heritage like my mother, my wife and I have done.  Each chapter ends with a one-pager on how you might use the information in the chapter to develop that child’s sense of their own heritage.

Third Question: What is the genre of the book?

Definitely, a Memoir.

Fourth Question: Who would you like to play the character(s) if the book were made into a movie?

As I was growing up I was continually told that I resembled either Woody Allen or Tony Bennett.  Today I suppose I still resemble Woody Allen if I substituted glasses for my bifocal contacts.  In truth I would have liked to resemble Paul Newman but when I mentioned that desire to my wife around age thirty-five, she told me I should have started earlier.

Fifth Question: Could you give a synopsis of the book?

I pretty much covered this in question two, but the chapters are topical, rather than chronological, which is another reason for Woody Allen to play the protagonist (me).  He has a film history of juxtaposing characters to provide flashbacks effectively.

Sixth Question: Is the book self-published or through representation?

Actually, a little of both.  When I decided to self-publish, on the advice of an author friend who self-published her 19th book, realizing the industry had changed, I went to Amazon and their linked service called CreateSpace. There are other, perhaps better and certainly cheaper services, but this has worked well for me and the editor feature was a true lifesaver in bettering the quality of my book.  The lessons I learned would make writing a second book infinitely easier and publishing it much less expensive.  The distribution of self-published books is a challenge as to getting it available in bookstores and libraries, but it is not insurmountable.  I would be more than happy to provide dialogue on what I learned.

Seventh Question: How long did it take to get your first draft?

This was one of the more significant lessons I learned about writing.  I had heard several authors speak about writing habits: “Write every day at the same time.” ”Start with the end in mind.” “Don’t move on until you have that first sentence exactly the way you want it.” But for me writing developed into putting the chapter in my mind, noodling it until I felt I had a handle on the content, then researching what background was needed to flesh out the subject and then just writing what ended up being a stream of consciousness narrative approximately 3,000 words long. Completing the thirteen chapters took almost a year, but I didn’t write something every day.

Eighth Question: What would be a comparable book?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I haven’t seen a book that used either the format or the content of Harnessing a Heritage, but books of a more traditional, chronological format that I would like to be compared to would include Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda and Open by Andre Agassi.  Both seem honest and were written with intent to inform in a humorous fashion.

Ninth Question: Who or What was your inspiration?

When I came up with the concept of a memoir based on a wall unit, I bounced the idea off a personal friend, mentioned above, who is a successful author, Rosalie Maggio.  Rosalie has written nineteen books now, with subjects as diverse as a glossary of politically correct words, Dictionary of Bias-Free Usage to a collaboration with her brothers and sisters, Pieces of Eight.  She encouraged me but offered the sagely advice, “If you want to actually sell a book, find a ‘How To’ hook.  People want to learn something from what they read.”  From that piece of news came my end-of-the-chapter tag of how one might use the information in the chapter to encourage one’s children or grandchildren to develop a sense of their own heritage.  Also, that gave me the idea for the book cover.

Tenth and Last Question:  What are some links to your book?

That’s easy.  Advanced reading on any of the chapters would be my finest recommendation.  Learn more about, books, photos, music, other cultures, art, museums, and more importantly, involve children in your search for knowledge in these fields.  I can’t imagine a better indication that my book accomplished what I hoped it would.

Well, I’ve completed my assignment and actually have had fun doing it.  I’ll forward this to five blogger/authors I know and hope they have as much fun next week as I did today.

Next post at www.DoctorEclectic.com will be on a practical application from my book: taking my grandsons to the LA Science Center to see Endeavor.  Please check me out.

2 comments:

  1. Enjoyed reading your answers Dee. I tweeted, FB'd it, etc. I shall see who responds. Thanks for thinking of me.

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  2. Interestingly my readership jumped significantly. Hope you have a similar result. Don't forget to include my blog address if you do a blog about "Freeways to Flip-Flops".

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