Friday, December 7, 2012

Coming of Age

When I search for Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright on Google, this is the first result that shows up:


I’m not entirely certain how the algorithms work or how Amazon categorizes novels, but “Coming of Age” really jumps out at me—I hadn’t ever thought of Uncharted as a 'coming of age story', but on second thought, yes, I suppose it is. Perhaps the term has more to do with how loosely it is applied.

Wikipedia says “Coming of age is a young person's transition from childhood to adulthood.” Aspects of Uncharted—specifically, Marlena’s personal accounts—deal directly with her coming of age. But in a broader sense, (if one goes by Merriam Webster—“to reach maturity”) then the definition also fits Samuel, for although he is thirty one years old, he is finally coming to terms with his childhood and now his adulthood—finally maturing as a person.

It seems to me (and this from a meager fifty-two years of experience) that the ‘thirties’ is as much a time of transition and coming of age as is adolescence. Yes, the changes of puberty and reaching physical adulthood are momentous and highly visible, yet I don’t think it’s until one’s thirties that a person begins to grasp who they are and how they came to be. I don’t mean to get overly psychological here, but if the decade or so following adolescence establishes patterns in our behavior and thoughts, congealing into ‘adulthood’, it seems that by our thirties we are confronted with what has either been working for us or inhibiting who we’d like to be. And how did we end up with this person we look at in the mirror? Are our traits genetic, or did we learn them? Can we change the things we don’t like in ourselves? Or are we doomed to struggle with seemingly inherent weaknesses for the rest of our lives? Can we reconcile any of it and find peace with it all? Perhaps it was just me, but my thirties launched me into a great deal of introspection.

It is this introspection that I write about in my novels. I’m fascinated with the concept of ‘Coming of Age.’ Yes, I wrote about it in Uncharted without necessarily analyzing is as such. Now that I’m deep into revising Spilled Coffee, I see that it is the central theme approached from both the adolescent perspective of a fourteen-year-old boy and from his thirty-one year old self as he reflects on his formative years.

Even as I write this piece for my blog, I wonder if midlife could also be classified as another ‘Coming of Age’ episode. By now I am an established adult in my own right, but there is nothing like being in close proximity with aging parents (yes, cohabitating with them) to force another full-blown self-analysis and growth spurt—but that’s a whole ‘nother topic!



Monday, November 19, 2012

A Boatload of Inspiration!


A number of years ago, I was the recipient of a wooden model boat, handcrafted to scale. My father built it when he was a kid, using plans he found in an old Rudder or Yachting magazine from the late ’40s—the Pavana, designed by naval architect, Philip Rhodes. It has always held my fascination and when I set out to write Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright, I incorporated the refitting of a boat from that era with the Pavana in mind. I gave her a new history and renamed her Mary-Leigh, built by Buck, the old-timer shipwright of Uncharted.



In my research, I found that the Pavana still exists and bears the distinction of once belonging to L.Corrin Strong, a U.S. Ambassador to Norway. She has sailed between Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea and Australia, was dry-docked in Maryland USA, and is currently undergoing refitting by a shipwright in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, where she continues to pique the imagination.


One piece of research that continues to fascinates me is the Pavana’s log*. It captures the tail end of the pre-fiberglass, wooden boatbuilding era, with all its romance.  One of my favorite images from the log is a photograph from May 29, 1949, with the caption, ‘We serve cocktails onboard’, accompanied by a charming description of one of Pavana’s first excursions. I love the description of how ‘four youngsters of assorted ages…swarmed all over the boat but did no damage and got into no trouble’.
And this one—final inspections just before she launches:

Another is of the owner and friends, sailing at a good heel with the mizzen mast in the background.

But my most favorite photos are from an old magazine, The Chesapeake Skipper, (June 1948). They are of the Pavana (previously named Mansurah and changed before launching) under construction. Although Pavana’s builder, H. K. Lagare of the Balco Yacht Co. is pictured, I envision old Buck posing for the photograph, beaming with pride and imagining voyages and adventure.

In Uncharted, Buck’s grandson, Samuel, stuck in a rhythm of mediocrity, is restless for that adventure. Buck insists, “The sea is in your blood, surging with all its turbulence and as subject to longing and discontentment as the sea is to the tide.” Sam used to laugh it off as the romantic notions of an old man. He assumed that over the generations his seafaring blood had thinned, had been adulterated by the contented sort who stuck around. That he, a shipwright himself, would be one of the guys who married some local girl and carried on the family business, placating himself with the occasional weekend sail. As the story unfolds, he isn’t so sure. What Samuel Wesley does know is that there’s a romance to living on the water and being skilled in a trade that, for centuries, has been the backbone of the maritime industry, and the Pavana captures that romance.

* Thanks Henry Strong, grandson of L.Corrin Strong for permission to share this log. The remainder of the log may be viewed here.




Thursday, October 11, 2012

UNCHARTED at the Warner Fall Foliage Festival


Well, it’s been nearly a week since I attended my very first book signing! I would have reported back sooner, but to be honest, I’ve hardly had a chance to catch a breath since we landed in New Hampshire and it has taken a few days for the fog to clear from my head.

I have to say, the whole event was far less nerve-wracking and a whole lot more fun than I had anticipated. I arrived at 11:00 in the morning and hung around for 5 hours. The weather was even so cooperative as to stay warm and hold off on rain or wind until we packed up just after 4:00. Unfortunately, I have only one picture to show for the occasion—it seems that both Todd and I ended up talking with people nearly nonstop since we arrived and forgot all about pictures until family showed up! And so, I present to you my daughter, her husband and our grandbabies! No time (or presence of mind) to pose for that picture, but I do like how someone holding the book showed up on the right hand side of the photo and I love the intent look on my granddaughter’s face as I interact with a new reader!

A bonus to doing a book signing—one I had not anticipated—is receiving feedback from a reader—an older gentleman—who took the time to look me up online and drop me an e-mail. He said that he ‘had finished the book and loved it! He said he doesn’t read romance novels very often but he asked his wife to read it also so they can discuss it!’ It doesn’t get much better than that for me!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Uncharted, Now Available in E-Book Format!


Yay! Now you can read Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright on your Kindle reader. Download it from Amazon.com

As a side point, if you have not yet purchased an eReader of some sort and are considering it, and if you still like to support your local independent book store, many of them sell eBooks through their Websites.

If you choose to purchase a Kindle, you can only download books through Amazon, which does not benefit the independent book store. I love my Kindle, but that long-term implication never occurred to me; I would have purchased a Nook, iPad or one of the other fine eReaders available. Uncharted will soon be available for those devices also. 

And of course, you can still read it in a lovely matte covered paperback--feels so good in hand! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

'Big Day' Build-up


Way back in a previous life—in my twentiesI used to manage a bridal shop. Reflecting on that time, it seems to me that looking forward to a publication date is a lot like looking forward to one’s wedding day.

Once you are engaged—that is, you've signed a publishing contract—there’s all sorts of preparations that begin. Sure, you've been dreaming about and planning it for years, but now it's real and life begins to revolve around the ‘Big Day’. The closer the ‘Day’ gets, the more stressful it becomes. ‘What if the cake doesn’t arrive on time?’ What if the edits take longer than expected? What if the flowers aren’t right? ‘What if there’s a glitch with uploading to the distributor?’ And you don’t even want to think about ‘What if the bride has put on weight! What if the gown, so painstakingly altered, no longer fits! (If you’re curious about How A Published Novel Is Like a Wedding Gown, head on over to Sia McKye’s blog where I wrote a guest post for today.)

Now that my release date has come and gone, I’m in that honeymoon phase. Although I’m enjoying it, I’m looking forward to getting back to real life and working on my next novel. More on that, soon... 
   

Monday, October 1, 2012

Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright, Officially Released!

Well, October 1st has finally arrived! That means Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright is officially released! All of this also coincides with our relocation to New Hampshire, so it’s been a very busy time and accounts for much of my online inactivity. In fact, my whole routine is undergoing significant changes and finding time to write and blog shall be an interesting challenge.

With so many things happening all at once, I have less time to obsess over my upcoming book launch and signing, which is a good thing. It will be held at MainStreet BookEnds this Saturday—the 6th—during the big Fall Foliage Festival in Warner, New Hampshire. I’ll be there at 11:00 in the morning and sticking around for the afternoon. It’s bound to be a good time, especially with my Todd joining me. I hope the weather is good and I get to meet some of you!

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the e-book to become available. I'll post and let you know when that happens.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Embarrassing


In one week from today, I will have landed in New Hampshire—hopefully without incident! This means that until then, I’m going to be running around like—well, like when I’m hopped up on caffeine and sugar doughnuts. Actually, I wish I could sustain that sort of crazed energy, but I’m sure most of my time will consist of wandering from box to box in a daze—starting today. Fortunately, my good friend Anne Gallagher, over at Piedmont Writer, is picking up the slack for me, blog-wise.  Yeah, it’s an interview of sorts, but it contains a story that I once posted here and then took down because it was really embarrassing and I was afraid of who might read it. I’m over the embarrassment now and it’s kind of a funny story. Go have a peek if you are inclined!

And be warned, Anne has also written a lovely review for Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright that you'll have to wade through to get to my amusing anecdote.

Monday, September 10, 2012

An Uncharted Break


In the middle of all this pre-release date stuff for Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright, I thought it would be nice to take a little break and talk about the story I’m working on—the one I mentioned a while back. The coming of age story set primarily in 1969. It started out as SPILLED COFFEE, changed to WHISPERING NARROWS, but now I think I’m back at  SPILLED COFFEE WHISPERING NARROWS  seems too romancey and sounds too much like a mystery (yes there is some romance and a bit of mystery, but it’s more literary fiction with a commercial bent, like Uncharted).

The first draft is complete at 80k words and now it’s revision time. My trusted beta readers have provided helpful feedback and now I need to address the problems with the story. It’s always a challenge to know what to alter and what suggestions to veto, but when certain issues gain a consensus, there’s probably something to it. So, for the past few months, it has been sitting in the corner like a problem child—a source of vexation. I think the biggest fault with this novel is that I simply didn’t know the main character, Benjamin Hughes, well enough. I knew him quite well as an adolescent—his early teen summer of 1969 is the primary part of the story. But I hadn’t developed enough of his adult life to flesh him out as a thirty-five-ish year old character my reader can relate to in the early 1990s, when the story opens and to where it returns at the beginning of each chapter. (The switching back and forth is a trick in itself!)

So, I’ve been taking long walks lately, bringing Benjamin along. I asked him, “So what exactly did happen to you and your sister between 1970 and 1992?”

And guess what! He’s been very cooperative! In fact, he introduced me to a new character, Christopher, and cleared up some details on other players in the story. The challenge will be writing Christopher in a realistic and sympathetic way. He’s a complicated character whose idiosyncrasies will require a ton of research. I will need to handle him delicately.

Since this story is written in a male, first person POV (as is Uncharted) and deals a lot with family dysfunction (like Uncharted) it seems that it would be a good follow-up novel to publish after Uncharted, as opposed to my GIRL RUNNING novels, which have a very different feel.

A while back, I even came up with a cover idea—it may be a bit busy and I might have to scratch it, but it at least provides a pretty picture for this post! I'm also hoping that the title brings to mind the old saying,  No use crying over ....   

Monday, September 3, 2012

Yeah, Shameless Self-Promotion

Well, I guess things are beginning to happen with Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright, even though its official release is still four weeks away. Although the e-Book versions won't be available until October 1st, the beautiful softcover edition is now up on several online retail sites, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (Even better, order it from your local small independent book store!) Uncharted retails for $14.99, but if you'd like a nice discount, head over to Rhemalda Publishing and order it there!

Uncharted is also up on Goodreads and Shelfari—ready for reviews. I have very ambivalent feelings about reviews. I guess most authors do. I've promised myself not to check and see when they come in, and especially not to read them! If they're good—and of course they'll be good, right?—they'll just make me all big-headed, and if they're not good...well, it doesn't take much imagination to know how I'll feel about that.

That said, I have received one review already! It's from the author who has written the blurb for my cover. It is the one review I have printed and will reread whenever I'm tempted to to peek at incoming online reviews! Many of you know how awkward I feel about shameless self-promotion—that necessary discomfort of publishing—but I can't resist sharing this:
Uncharted tells a story within a story. Readers will be forced to skate along the edge of suspended belief, eagerly turning the pages, hoping it all turns out to be true. A great read that will appeal to armchair sailors, romantics, and real adventurers.”
~Carol Newman Cronin, author of Cape Cod Surprise
Carol continues:
"There aren’t too many books that combine shipwrights, shipwrecks, sailing, Maine, the tropics, Kansas, and peculiarly strong women into a page-turning love story. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever before read anything like Uncharted, J.B. (“call me Bridget”) Chicoine’s debut novel, which will be brought out by Rhemalda Publishing on October 1. Rhemalda’s tag line is “crossing the divide between imagination and reality,” and Uncharted certainly accomplishes that—without ever requiring the truly conscious suspension of belief that would distract from the story.
"I was lucky enough to read an advance copy, and as usual I started off with a slight tinge of dread. What if I had to slog my way through it, and then try to find something positive to say? In the end I was met with a completely different challenge: how to keep my writer’s jealousy at bay while I write the glowing review the book deserves."
To read the rest of Carol Newman Cronin's review (you really must! It's pretty great), head on over to her blog, Where Books Meet Boats.

Oh yeah, and one more thing—I don't really understand what Amazon algorithms are or how they work, but apparently if you tag my book or even at least 'like' it, that boosts Uncharted up alongside popular books and gives it more visibility. So, if you feel like doing it, that'd be great! Here's the Amazon link.



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Uncharted Review Copies

Well, it’s getting closer and closer to Uncharted: Story for a Shipwright’s release date—October 1st. I don’t want to wait until the last minute in case some of you reading this might like to receive an advance copy and write a review (yeah, part of a blog tour). If you’re interested, just click on the link below and fill out the form. Rhemalda Publishing will send you everything you need!


For those of you who don’t know what Uncharted is about, here’s the cover copy:

When a peculiar young woman shows up at the Wesley House Bed and Breakfast with a battered suitcase and stories to tell, shipwright Sam Wesley isn’t sure if she’s incredibly imaginative or just plain delusional. He soon realizes that Marlena is like no other woman he has ever met. Her strange behavior and far-fetched tales of shipwrecks and survival are a fresh breeze in Sam’s stagnant life.

Sam isn’t the only one enchanted by Marlena. With his best friend putting the moves on her and a man from her past coming back into her life, the competition for Marlena’s heart is fierce. In the midst of it all, a misunderstanding sends Marlena running, and by the time Sam learns what his heart really wants, it may be too late to win her back.

Review eBook Copies Available Upon Request

If you would like to host an eBook giveaway in connection with your book review, Rhemalda Publishing would be happy to provide eBook copies in .pdf, .epub, or .mobi to your giveaway winners.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Research, Olympic Style

One of the cool things about writing a novel is doing the research. I like researching. I've learned a lot and have met some interesting people. In fact, sometimes research can end up being life altering! Like, what if after researching Uncharted, Story for a Shipwright, I learned how to build a boat and then changed my vocation to shipwright! 

Well, that didn’t happen, but in the course of my gadding about the internet, I became acquainted with an author whose research led her to the Olympics, and I don’t mean as a spectator. I met Carol Newman Cronin over two years ago when I submitted a few lines of Uncharted—then known as Story for a Shipwright—on MissSnark’s First Victim. Carol left a kind and helpful comment so I followed her over to one of her Websites (she has several) which featured a nautical theme (what’s not to love!) and from there, I found her middle grade novels, Oliver's Surprise and Cape Cod Surprise.

Maaike Bernstrom Photography
From time to time, I would lurk, checking in to she what she was up to. Last year, I found that Carol had completed an adult novel, Game of Sails, anOlympic Love Story. The logline intrigued me: The story is about two opposites who team up for the sole purpose of making it to the Olympics—and then try hard not to fall in love. I then read an excerpt and knew I had to finish the story.

I snooped around her Website a little more and found out that as part of her research for Game of Sails, Carol helped on the race committee for the 1996 Olympic Trials. That's impressive enoughI mean, talk about getting into your research!but soon thereafter, she won the next Trials she attended. 

Then, in 2000 she decided to put together her own Olympic campaign. Of course, she would have to put her writing on hold for four years, but after she returned from the 2004 Games in Athens, she had collected all the research she needed and finally completed Game of Sails! Imagine that! “Research” that would land you in the Olympics!

I read Game of Sails and loved it, not only the story, but her apt writing. I don’t normally post reviews on Amazon (or here, for that mattera blog post for another time), but I enjoyed it so much, I just had to. My review is here. You don't need to know the difference between a tack and a jibe to feel the tension she creates in a sailboat, to experience the elation of victory and shed tears of defeat.

So, how’s that for the practical application of research!

In addition to writing novels and sailing, Carol also writes articles for assorted boating magazines.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

UNCHARTED logline


As I get closer to Uncharted’s release date (October 1), I’ve been thinking more about my logline—what I’ll say when someone asks “What’s it about?” I had one that I tried out on a few people—“It’s about a reserved New England shipwright and a spear-fishing young woman who is either delusional or may hold the key to his family’s mysterious past”— but it seemed convoluted when it came out and was met by a fair amount of squinting.

So, I’ve been reading in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat about the importance of summing up “What is it?” in one sentence. I’m not sure if my new logline contains much irony (as he recommends), but this is what I’ve come up with:

“A peculiar young woman, whose stories of shipwreck and survival, capsizes the ordinary life of a reserved New England shipwright.”

Yeah, it’s still a mouthful, but it rolls off my tongue a little easier. And if I my audience doesn’t squint at that, I can add, “Even though she’s likely delusional, he might fall in love with her, but he’ll have to compete with his womanizing best friend.”

Oh, and just so you know what I’m working with, here’s the official cover copy:

When a peculiar young woman shows up at the Wesley House Bed and Breakfast with a battered suitcase and stories to tell, shipwright Sam Wesley isn’t sure if she’s incredibly imaginative or just plain delusional. He soon realizes that Marlena is like no other woman he has ever met. Her strange behavior and far-fetched tales of shipwrecks and survival are a fresh breeze in Sam’s stagnant life.

Sam isn’t the only one enchanted by Marlena. With his best friend putting the moves on her and a man from her past coming back into her life, the competition for Marlena’s heart is fierce. In the midst of it all, a misunderstanding sends Marlena running, and by the time Sam learns what his heart really wants, it may be too late to win her back.

This cover copy puts more emphasis on the romantic aspect of the story, which I originally toned down to make it more appealing to both genders. But the fact is, although quite a few men have enjoyed it (there’s enough adventure and manly stuff mixed in to draw male readers), the Women’s fiction audience is my target. And yeah, it’s a love story on many levels.

So, what do you think? Does the logline grab you? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Had a Crush on Gilligan


Yes, it’s true, back when I was seven or eight, when most girls swooned over one of The Monkees, I had a thing for Gilligan. It always bothered me that all their foiled attempts to get off the island were somehow Gilligan’s fault. I was naïve enough to believe that one day, they would be rescued and I always felt a tinge of disappointment at the end of every episode of Gilligan’s Island.

Thus began my fascination with stories of uncharted islands and survival. As a kid, I loved Swiss Family Robinson and any other story that centered around that theme. It wasn’t until Castaway (with Tom Hanks) hit the big screen that the seeds of Uncharted Story for a Shipwright germinated. If I could actually manage to wash ashore on an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere and still be alive, would I be able to survive with nothing but natural resources? What inner resources could I draw on?

Realistically, I didn’t think I would do too well—I mean, with enough determination and time, I could probably start a fire and cook some crabs. I might even be able to remember some of the principles involved with water condensation and collection, but I didn’t think I’d last very long. Now, after having researched shipwrecks and survival, I might be slightly more competent, but not much….Unless…unless someone had been on the island before me! What if someone had left behind some useful things—and not only things, but a few instructions! Now I’m cookin’! Imagining myself under such aided circumstances seemed like cheating in my little fantasy, but…what if…what if I turned out to be pregnant! Holy granola! That would add a huge complication. Now my imagination had shot past a sprout and began to bloom.

So, now you know the soil upon which the seeds of  UNCHARTED sprouted. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Moaning Chair


I have to admit, I’ve had a fair bit of trepidation while awaiting the final edits on  UNCHARTED. I even anticipated yanking out the Moaning Chair. ‘Don’t know what that is,’ you say? Sure you do. Especially if you’ve ever been engaged in a high-liability profession. In a way, writing is high liability. Oh yeah, there’s a lot at stake when it comes to ego and insecurities. I’d come this far, so I knew my publisher liked the story well enough to back it—just the same…how much hacking and slashing would there be? (You'd think I would know how to use a comma by now.) I knew I’d have to make sacrifices. (Could I have made my sentences any longer?) I knew they would sting. I knew I’d cringe, feeling around behind me for the Chair that I could flop into.

So, here’s my Moaning Chair.

The first coiner of the term, to the best of my knowledge and research, was Howard I. Chapelle, in his book Boatbuilding (1941). While I have come across many colorful variations describing the Moaning Chair, Chapelle states, “In every amateur boatbuilder’s shop there should be a ‘moaning chair’; this should be a comfortable seat from which the boat can be easily seen and in which the builder can sit, smoke, chew, drink, or swear as the moment demands.”

Happily, the edits have been relatively painless—no swearing or even moaning necessary. After years of revising UNCHARTED, it felt much the same as any other round of edits. Overall, it adds a nice luster to the polish. Rhemalda’s editor, Diane Dalton has been professional and fun to work with. Even now, before my final round of edits, I can confidently say it’s been and will continue to be a very positive experience. Does that mean I don’t need my Moaning Chair?

Well, the Chair is not just for griping— it’s for contemplation, as well. Chapelle adds, “Here he should rest often and think about his next job. The plans should be at hand and here he can lay out his work. By so doing he will often be able to see mistakes before they are serious and avoid the curse of all amateur boatbuilders: starting a job before figuring out what has to be done to get it right.”

Time to work on my other novels!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Travel & Planning a Book Launch


Yes, it’s been a little quiet around here for a while, but that doesn’t mean nothing’s been going on! Okay, it’s true—most of my activities take place mentally, but this time it’s been a fair mix of planning and follow-through!

We just returned from our twice-yearly trip to New Hampshire with a detour through Charlottesville, Virginia (what an awesome place—just sayin’) to pick up my sister for our pilgrimage to visit family in New England. In all, I visited with five of my six siblings, but that has nothing to do with my writing...
...speaking of which...since Uncharted, Story for a Shipwright will be released on October 1, and would likely coincide with our autumn trip to NH, and since the story primarily takes place in Maine, I thought New England would be a fitting backdrop for my book launch. I considered someplace coastal, but I wanted something more local to where I spent the larger part of my adult life—the Sunapee Lakes Region. I also wanted something intimate (as in, not some huge chain bookstore) with local appeal and interest in promoting ‘local’ writers and artists. With some recommendations and research, I narrowed down my choices to the MainStreet BookEnds independent bookstore in Warner, New Hampshire. Serendipitously, Warner NH has a well attended Fall Foliage Festival during the first weekend in October (6th and 7th), and the bookstore is a hub of activity! Perfect!

So, I had some business-type cards printed up, announcing 
Uncharted ’s release, rehearsed my ten-second what’s-it-about pitch (“It’s about a reserved New England shipwright and a spear-fishing girl who is either delusional or the missing key to his family’s mysterious past.”) which I didn’t end up using, though I know it will come in handy for the book signing.

Todd accompanied me, nudging me forward as I smoothed my skirt and entered the Colonial house bookstore. After stumbling my way through an introduction, I found the owners of MainStreet BookEnds so very amiable and enthusiastic that I’m actually looking forward to the event (easy to say with it still three months down the road). In fact, the bookstore exceeded my expectations! Meanwhile, I have lots of preparations to keep me busy, in addition to final edits. As long as I keep moving forward and don’t look down, I should be okay.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Updated Website

As some of you know, I have a Website showcasing my watercolor painting--I own my domain JBChicoine.com, which is a very handy thing when you're having a novel published. Back in 2006 when I initially set up the Website, I had no intention of branching off into writing seriously, nor did I really have any idea how to construct a Website, but I had a program (MS FrontPage) that made the prospect seem manageable. So, I published a Webiste focusing on my art, but with my novel Uncharted coming out in October, I needed to reconstruct my home page, dividing it between my two endeavors. Problem was, I updated it so infrequently that I had to virtually relearn the program every time I wanted to add a new work of art. I was dreading having to create a whole new homepage without messing up the entire site.


Last week, I put the final touches on it, even redesigning the header (which meant painting something that fit both themes). I'll admit there are some glitches that annoy me and I can't figure out how to get them quite right, but I won't point out the specific flaws. I will instead announce that I have a 'new' Website, J.B. Chicoine, Author & Artist. 


As more of my novels are published, I will add them to the Website, but this blog is where I'll provide updates on things pertaining to my writing. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cover Preview for Uncharted!


I just received the mock up of my cover for Uncharted! I'm so pleased that Rhemalda used my painting of Marlena, the peculiar young waif who disrupts the life of shipwright Sam Wesley (funny how girls can be so disruptive). Over at Rhemalda's blog, they've written up a nice article on the cover and provides a synopsis of the novel (like you'd see on the back of a book).



Rhemalda's cover designer, Melissa Williams was wonderful to work with. 
Just five months until Uncharted is released, on October 1st —this makes it finally feel real…

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Writing & Not Writing

I've been deep into researching and writing on my WIP, Whispering Narrows  (aka Spilled Coffee), which partly accounts for my blogging silence as of late. I've also been giving a lot of thought to how I write--my process, that is. For the first time, I've done some serious outlining although I haven't completely stuck to it (I kind of knew I wouldn't, but it did provide me with the direction needed to get the story moving.)

If you'd care to read about the process I used to write Uncharted, my first ever article, Pantsing My Way to Outlining, is in my publisher's spring edition of their OPUS! magazine--it's got my timeline and everything, along with lots of other fine articles by their staff and authors.


This is also the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time to write something for the Insecure Writer's  Support Group. For three reasons, I've decided to graciously back out of the group: 1) I post so infrequently, that my biggest insecurity has become worrying if my blog looks like it's all about being an insecure writer, which it's not. 2) I simply don't have the time to make the rounds, as much as I'd like to. 3) Besides that, I've always been better at working through my insecurities in private.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hudson River Day Line

I received another letter from my dad today. He's been going through old papers (the way good parents should so that 'later on' their kids won't have to). This one is from the Hudson River Day Line, West 42nd Street Pier, New York, N.Y.

A little research in the New York State Library, and I found out that "of the many Hudson River steamboat lines, the one which became the best known in this country and abroad was the Hudson River Day Line. Its 'white flyers' were famous for their elegance and speed, and provided the most enjoyable way to travel the Hudson River. No one could claim to have seen America without seeing the Hudson River, and the only way to properly see the Hudson River was from the deck of a Day Liner. Important foreign guests were taken for steamboat rides soon after their arrival in New York."

Apparently, September 13, 1948 saw the last Day Line steamboat on its run from Albany to New York City, so that dates the envelop.

On the back is an emblem for the Baltimore & Ohio R.R. All Trains Via Washington with Stop-Over Privileges.

There is something ever so romantic about the way people got around back then. Not so primitive as horse and buggy, but slow enough to actually enjoy the ride.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Remembering the 1960's...Sort Of...

I’ve been working on an historical fiction—no, not like back in the 1800’s, more like the 1960’s. I’m not sure why I find that era fascinating, except that I lived through the entire decade, though I don't remember much of it...that is, I was only mildly acquainted with its major events. I was born in 1960, and so I was only nine years old in 1969 and was for the most part oblivious to the Civil Rights movement, the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam War protests, assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Woodstock and the sexual revolution. All vague memories, except for the fist walk on the moon in July, 1969. 

Perhaps my fascination is in retrospect, now understanding that so many momentous things happened in the 60’s and I  essentially missed out on them because I was a self-absorbed little kid, drawing and writing in my own little cosmos. I had older cousins who looked like hippies and they were so cool, but I didn’t really know what it meant to be one. I had never heard of drugs until the Beatles entered their psychedelic phase and became a topic at the dinner table. I had asked, “What are drugs?” the answer offered was so vague as to not make a lasting impression. I still had no idea what ‘mind-altering’ meant.

It seems that every up-and-coming generation looks back on their childhood years with nostalgia. As that generation comes of age and exerts their influence on the media, television and movies reflect that nostalgia. Back in the 70’s, Happy Days glorified the 50’s. In the late 80’s we had The Wonder Years, the late 90’s brought us That 70’s Show, and the 00’s bring us, well, I’m not really sure since I don’t watch much television, but Im sure theres some offering that puts a nostalgic slant on the 80’s.

What I do know about the 60’s was the innocence of perception through the eyes of a pre-teen who does not yet have the context of years to understand just what all that upheaval meant. We didn’t lock our doors. We rode our bicycle up and down the road without fear of strangers. I’m sure adults were aware of pedophiles, but I sure wasn’t. I didn’t even know what sex was until the 70’s. Innocence and ignorance. In many ways it was bliss.

It is against that backdrop that I am allowing my nearly twelve-year-old character, Benjamin Hughes, to experience the summer of 1969, through innocent eyes. It’s going to break my heart when his entire life crumbles around him in the ‘real’ world.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I Just Couldn't

Couldn’t what, you ask? Well, you’ll have to go over and read a post I wrote for Rhemalda Publishing’s blog. I expound on the reason why I chose the post-Emancipation year, 1867, to set a portion of my novel, Uncharted. It has to do with slavery, and why I couldn’t  make Captain William Wesley a slave trader.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I Just Don't Feel Like It

Today is the first Wednesday of the month and I'm supposed to post something for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, but I gotta say, I got nothin'! Not that I'm not as insecure as ever--I just don't feel like expounding on it this month. Sure I could write about Is It Writer's Block Or Winter Blahs? or perhaps Will My Second Novel (Which Is Actually My First) Be A Big Disappointment? Or maybe, Why I Should Stick to Painting Instead of Writing. I could even write about Why I Can't Seem to Get into Blogging These Days, but I just don't feel like it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Letter from Home

My Dad sent me a news clipping in an antique envelope--How cool is that!
And who knew that the Hotel Times Square was ABSOLUTELY Fireproof!
...and, did you know that "Letters mailed in hotel envelopes if not delivered, will be sent to the dead letter office unless the writer gives a return address."? 
Dead Letters?
Might we have an Inciting Incident?


Thursday, January 26, 2012

W.I.P. from My W.S.K.

It’s gray and cold outside. Our yard is a patchwork of dried grass and opaque ice that won’t even reflect blue skies on that rare day when the sun shines. Yes, it’s the dead of winter, and having no snow makes the season feel like a pointless stream of dreary. No, I’m not depressed, thanks to my W.S.K., but I will admit I’ve been teetering. I don’t go outside much these days, not even in the virtual world of the blog-o-sphere (I have no idea what's going on with anyone--yeah, a little self-absorbed and myopic)—I guess it’s my way of hibernating. 

One tool in my W.S.K. is my set of watercolors. I’ve been painting. I’ve done some revisions on Girl Running (the next novel I hope to publish), but I’m a little sick of writing for now. That’s where the painting comes in. It seems to boost my serotonin levels enough to keep me getting out of bed in the morning. My latest project is a nautical scene (I thought it would be cool to paint something that might be seen in Wesleyville, Maine—the fictitious setting of UNCHARTED). So, I guess you could say it’s writing related. Besides that, I’m painting from an image provided by Liza Carens Salerno, who is a phenomenal writer and copywriter—not to mention beta-reader extraordinaire—so that makes it even more writing related in a way…

I’m down to the nitty-gritty eye-crossing part of the painting (yeah, that's right, the grass), so it may take a little while to complete it…but that’s just me…slow and steady…

So, here's a W.I.P. from my W.S.K.: