|Debby at the Coliseum in Rome. Behind me is the Arch of |
Constantine with the Roman Forum to the right.
Buon giorno! Debby here! I spent last week in
Italy, exploring Rome with side trips to Florence
and . I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the
sights so I’ve added photos of my trip even though they have nothing to do with
a first manuscript. J Today’s
drawing and breakfast bar will include touches of Assisi . Grab a cappuccino or café latte and let’s
talk about writing. Italy
|Another view of the Arch and Forum.|
“You wrote this?” A young woman raised her brow and pointed to one of my novels during a recent book signing. “You wrote the whole book?”
|Debby and Tony at the Basilica of Saint Francis|
“Every page,” I responded, smiling as I remembered back to my pre-novelist days. At that time, the thought of writing a three- to four-hundred page manuscript seemed like a herculean task.
|Trevi Fountain in Rome|
Up until then, I had concentrated on magazine articles and slice of life vignettes that were short pieces, each not more than a few thousand words. My prose tended to be terse, a no-frills style that worked for magazines but would need to be expanded for longer projects. As much as I enjoyed writing, I wondered if I would have the discipline and perseverance needed to craft a full-length manuscript.
|Arch of Constantine.|
After moving to the
area, I joined Georgia Romance Writers and attended a one-day workshop taught
by Nancy Knight, one of the founding members of GRW. Her program, entitled “Once Begun is Half
Done,” provided a solid introduction to story structure along with tips on how
to craft a compelling novel. Atlanta
|The Baptistery in Florence.|
She discussed character development, and the necessity for the hero and heroine to change and grow during the course of the story. I’m sure she explained internal and external conflict, but I was more interested in the inciting incidence and how to build the story to an exciting climax.
Many people want to write a book,
explained. A number of folks start a book, but few people actually finish a
manuscript. Plow straight through, she
advised, and don’t worry about revisions until the first draft is written. Nancy
I made note of everything Nancy said and decided that if I thought of each chapter as a short story, I could put the chapters together and eventually have a book.
Write what you know, she also suggested.
Prior to moving to
hubby and I had lived at the National Training Center,
located at Fort Irwin, California,
in the middle of the Mojave Desert. The small garrison sat at the edge of a huge
military training area the size of the state of . Rhode Island
My husband was the senior Armor observer-controller. He and his team put each visiting unit through a 21-day rotation of battle scenarios that involved air, ground and artillery support. In addition, a live fire phase included Air Force assets and attack helicopters and provided the most realistic training available in the free world.
|St. Peter's Basilica, Rome|
The visiting units “fought” against a real opposing force stationed at the NTC. Using a specially designed laser system, every movement and round fired were tracked and recorded, and at the end of each battle, the observer controllers evaluated the unit’s ability and offered concrete suggestions for improvement.
|St. Peter's Square|
Visiting dignitaries within our own government and from allied countries flew into the NTC to observe the specialized training often featured on the evening news. Bestselling author Tom Clancy was allowed to tour the training area and observed one of my husband’s after-action reviews. As a token of his appreciation, Clancy sent Tony an autographed, advanced copy of The Cardinal of the Kremlin, and later named a character after him--Lieutenant Colonel Angelo Giusti--in The Bear and the Dragon. If Tom Clancy was writing about the NTC, I decided to do so, as well. Plus, I wanted to chronicle some of our experiences and the unique adventure we had lived in the rugged desert environment.
|Michelangelo's Pieta in St Peter's|
At Forces Command Headquarters in
Tony was the staff officer in charge of training for active component forces in the .
He worked under a four-star general so I wove a tale about a military
hero stationed at US Fort McPherson in , who accompanies the FORSCOM
commander to the NTC. Every afternoon, when the children were at school, I’d
head to the small alcove at the top of the stairs I had converted into an office
and pound out the story on my trusty electric typewriter. Atlanta
Currently, I work from an 18 to 20 page synopsis that provides an outline for my work in progress, but for that first story, I was strictly seat of my pants. When the middle began to sag, I added a murder and upped the romance as I trudged from page to page. On good days, the words flowed. At other times, my progress was as slow as the proverbial watched pot that never boils.
I made a lot of mistakes on that first manuscript, yet despite what I didn't know, I ended up with a 90,000 word manuscript and patted myself on the back, feeling an immense sense of accomplishment. I had achieved my goal and written my first full-length manuscript.
Rare is the story that doesn't require revision so I made changes and then retyped the 400 pages until I was satisfied I had done my best. Soon thereafter, I attended my first Moonlight and Magnolias Conference, where Nancy Knight introduced me to her agent. I pitched my story and will never forget the thrill when she requested my full. I called hubby to tell him the good news, both of us confident my story was on the way to publication.
Honorable Men, the title of that first manuscript, was rejected. I wrote five more manuscripts before I sold NOWHERE TO HIDE to Love Inspired Suspense.
|The chains that held Peter captive displayed|
in the Church of St. Peter in Chains
Taking an idea from initial concept to a fully developed novel takes perseverance and hard work, mixed with a bit of luck and an innate ability to weave a story. Now when the words flow and the scenes come together, when my characters surprise me with their heroism, when universal concepts play out upon the written page, I realize—just as I did on that first manuscript long ago—that I love to write and nothing can stop me from pursuing my dream.
|Debby throws a coin over her left shoulder into|
the Trevi Fountain so she'll come back to Rome.
Have you completed your first manuscript? Are you writing it now? Share your thoughts, your dreams and what you’ve learned to be entered in the drawing.
I’m giving away a copy of my latest Love Inspired Suspense, THE CAPTAIN’S
In addition, the winner will receive the cookbook, 200 Pasta Dishes, by
Maria Ricci, which features many of the delicious recipes I enjoyed in MISSION . Rome
The breakfast bar is open and filled with the same selection I had each day in my hotel. Enjoy a cappuccino or café latte (the milk is served warm), hard boiled eggs, sliced salami, prosciutto and cheese, freshly baked rolls and croissants, yogurt and toast. Mangia, mangia!!!
Wishing you abundant blessings!