Friday, May 11, 2018 was a big day for me and my writing career. After almost ten years of writing and weeks of studying self-publishing and related topics, I published my book, Storm on Savage Mountain, through Kindle Direct Publishing(KDP).
It is now available at the Kindle Store and on Amazon. I have been working on this book for almost ten years. I was awake until 2:00 A.M. Saturday, trying to complete the KDP process. I also designed and printed a small marketing handout about the ebook to let people know that a paperback version would be coming soon.
I have been writing all my life and a good part of my career was as a journalist. I also had published a chapbook and taught some classes on writing, but many people don’t think of you as a real writer unless you have written a book. So now I have and was ready to tell people about it.
I was up early Saturday morning to participate in Westminster’s Flower and Jazz Festival with other writers in front of Eclecticity, across from the library. It was a beautiful, sunny day and Main Street was packed. I enjoyed talking to people about books and art available at Eclecticity and especially about my books if they were interested.
I wish I could have stayed longer, but Michael Downs was speaking at the Carroll County Chapter of Maryland Writers’ Association. His topic, History and its Mysteries: How Fiction’s Imagination Works with History’s Fact, sounded interesting and I didn’t want to miss it.
Like Michael Downs, I was a former newspaper reporter and like him, I like to fill in the gaps between the facts. So far, I am publishing fiction, but also am writing some non-fiction books.
Downs is writing non-fiction. His most recent book is the novel, The Strange and True Tale of Horace Wells, Surgeon Dentist, about the man credited with discovering anesthesia. He also published The Greatest Show: Stories, inspired by a 1944 circus fire, and House of Good Hope: A Promise for a Broken City, which won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize.
He discussed his approach to studying history and writing about it. First he looks at what he knows.
When he has found a subject that interests him, he looks into various sources of information. He does remind us that information can still be unreliable. Next, he looks for the mystery or what hasn’t been mentioned, such as the “whys” a person did a certain thing.
You find the mystery or contradictions in the story and go from there, he said. Imagination can help you fill in the gaps. You must use reasoned conjectures, seek patterns and consider evidence. He studied 19th century paintings and researched 19th century language so he could better understand their world and their words.
Downs stressed that history isn’t story. A lot more is needed to make that information into an interesting book or story.
He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. Downs is an associate professor of English at Towson University.
For more information, check out http://www.michael-downs.net