It sure has been busy this week with visiting authors at Peeking Between the Pages and today is no different. I welcome Deborah Cloyed, author of The Summer We Came to Life, to the blog today. I haven’t received my copy of the book yet but I’m anxious to read it as soon as I do! Let’s sit back and relax with our cup of coffee, tea or whatever your pleasure and enjoy Deborah’s guest post entitled: Turning Travel Adventures into aNovel…
I caught the travel bug after college when – much to the chagrin of my parents – I quit a marketing job in DC to take a three-month trip to Thailand. Several years of travel adventures (in Barcelona, London, Paris, Central America) culminated in a stint on CBS’ The Amazing Race with my childhood best friend – an incredible experience. After the show, I spent time in Los Angeles, then moved to Honduras for six months.
While in Honduras, I had two near death drowning experiences that prompted a life re-examination. All the issues and ideas bouncing around in my head – best friends turning thirty, the meeting of the generations, world travel, and science versus religion in the face of death – I started to think they would make a great book.
But first, I spent three months in Kenya volunteering, letting plotlines bounce around in my head and telling myself I needed to get a real job, not write a book no one might ever read! But after Africa, I camped out in my folks’ home, wrote a first draft, moved to New York and found an agent, then moved back to Los Angeles just before my agent sold the novel to MIRA Books/Harlequin. Wow! A childhood dream come true!
The Summer We Came to Life is set in Honduras. It depicts best friends dealing with the death of a fourth, as their parents share tales of love and loss, before the story takes a supernatural, quantum metaphysical twist. The book is definitely fiction, but was inspired by the landscape and experiences I had in Honduras, and by friendships and family in real life. And my next book is a love story set against the political violence in Kenya in 2007, so my travels definitely shape my writing.
When people ask me how to turn real life travel experiences into fiction, I say:
1) Keep a journal. Details are what make a book setting come alive. I use my iPhone now – I’ve misplaced one too many journals!
2) Take tons of photographs! I would recommend a mid-range DSLR (~Canon D60) with an all-in one lens (18-200ish), and a 50mm 1.8 for low light and portraits.
3) While you’re traveling, start brainstorming plot lines. Daydream. Examine where you are in life, what you want to say, what you’ve learned.
4) When you’re done traveling, let everything gel, 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 – carving out pieces to write amongst daily life.
5) When you have a first draft, find readers 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 yay! you have an editor and you’re about a year away from publication!
6) Take your advance and go travel. And repeat.
Good luck! And please check out The Summer We Came to Life and journey with me to four countries through two generations, and even parallel universes.
Great post Deborah! I must confess to my obsession with The Amazing Race so I was even more excited to have you visit Peeking Between the Pages. You’re lucky to have done so much traveling! Thanks for stopping by Peeking Between the Pages Deborah!
About the Book (from Amazon.com)
Every summer, Samantha Wheland joins her childhood friends—Isabel, Kendra and Mina—on a vacation, somewhere exotic and fabulous. Together with their mixed bag of parents, they’ve created a lifetime of memories. This year it’s a beach house in Honduras. But for the first time, their clan is not complete. Mina lost her battle against cancer six months ago, and the friends she left behind are still struggling to find their way forward without her.
For Samantha, the vacation just feels wrong without Mina. Despite being surrounded by her friends—the closest thing she has to family—Mina’s death has left Sam a little lost. Unsure what direction her life should take. Fearful that whatever decision she makes about her wealthy French boyfriend’s surprise proposal, it’ll be the wrong one.
The answers aren’t in the journal Mina gave Sam before she died. Or in the messages Sam believes Mina is sending as guideposts. Before the trip ends, the bonds of friendship with her living friends, the older generation’s stories of love and loss, and Sam’s glimpse into a world far removed from the one in which she belongs will convince her to trust her heart. And follow it.
DEBORAH CLOYED lives in Los Angeles, in Humphrey Bogart’s old room with a view. As a photographer, travel writer, or curious nomad, she’s previously resided in London, Barcelona, Thailand, Honduras, Kenya, and New York City. She’s traveled to twenty other countries besides, several as a contestant with her childhood best friend on CBS’ The Amazing Race. She runs a photography school for kids and is happily at work on her next book – a nonlinear love story set against the political violence in Kenya 2007-2008.
I have one copy of The Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed up for grabs. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment with an email address to contact you (no email, no entry).
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. If you already do, thank you, and please let me know so I can pass on the extra entry to you as well.
- For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway and spread the word!
This giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, June 18/11. Good luck to all!
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