Hi everybody! Remember me? ‘Amazing Debbie’ (nickname courtesy of JohnnyJet and my stint on CBS’ The Amazing Race)? You and me, we go way back. We went to Hong Kong, Macau, Amelia Island, and Temecula together, remember?
Well, since we last traveled together, a lifelong dream came true – I landed a two-book deal with MIRA Books/Harlequin, my debut novel The Summer We Came to Life hitting stores right now – June 2011!!
When people ask me about the book, they often want to know: How much of the novel is real, based on my life and travels?
The Summer We Came to Life takes place in Honduras, where I lived for six months in 2006. It depicts best friends dealing with the death of a fourth friend as their parents share tales of love and loss, before the story takes a supernatural, quantum metaphysical twist. Definitely fiction! But certainly the novel was inspired by the breathtaking landscape and experiences I had traveling.
So, thinking about the journey from traveling to publication, I came up with:
6 Tips on Turning Your Travels into a Novel:
1) Keep a journal. Write down every detail that touches you – the color of the dust, the scent of an open-air fish market, why Venetian gelato is better than Ben & Jerry’s. Details are what make a book location come alive for readers. I use my iPhone now – I’ve misplaced one too many journals!
2) Take photographs!! You think you will remember everything, but some details – the dress pattern all the little girls wore to church, the sandals the men wore to soccer games, whether the floor was tile or marble – the camera does a better job of remembering. For camera equipment, I would recommend a mid-range DSLR (like a Canon D60), with an all-in one lens (18-135), and a 50mm 1.8 for low light and portraits. If you don’t want to a haul a DSLR, get a Canon S95 – I am constantly impressed by that little guy.
3) While you’re traveling, start brainstorming plot lines. No pressure, just keep your ears and eyes open and schedule lots of daydreaming on the beach or rooftop. And keep that journal and photo diary going!
4) When you’re done traveling, let everything gel for a bit, a few months, then set aside a chunk of time to write. Another vacation if you can manage it. If not, welcome to the real world of writing – where you learn to wake up two hours earlier each day to work before work, or kids, or life.
5) When you have a first draft, have a few select friends or family and a writer’s group read it, while you start submitting query letters to agents. If an agent is interested, they will request the whole manuscript. If they take you on, then it’s their job to sell it to a publisher. If a publisher buys it, then tah-dah you have an editor and you’re about a year away from publication!
6) Take your advance and go travel. And repeat ??
Good luck! I hope we travel together again soon! In the meantime, check out The Summer We Came to Life and journey with me to four countries through two generations, and even parallel universes.
To learn more and get your copy:
Author, The Summer We Came to Life