Doris: What a joy ride! It’s still hard to believe my little book has been so well received. It was an exhilarating contest.
Outskirts Press: What led you to write The Beads of Lapis Lazuli?
Doris: Curiosity and the search for truth led me to write The Beads of Lapis Lazuli. I was working on a different story about the ancient Minoans that wasn’t going well, so I set it aside and started writing about a housewife named Kathryn who was writing a book about the ancient Minoans and was stuck for answers to an old love story.
I have always been intrigued by mysteries and puzzles and when I first read about the lost Minoan civilization on the Greek Island of Crete, I was hooked. There is no Rosetta Stone to decipher their pictograms. Who were they? How did they live? Why did young women, not men, wrestle the bulls? I am still fascinated by the ancient Minoans and the prequel to The Beads of Lapis Lazuli will bring the Minoans back to life. Some archeologists say ancient Crete was Atlantis and it is possible but no one has found a way to prove it. My next book, The Age of Silver, brings the Minoans to life using the world’s oldest story of true love as a guide: the myth of Ariadne and Theseus.
Outskirts Press: What was your writing process like? How long did it take?
Doris: Since I don’t write full-time, it took several years to finish The Beads of Lapis Lazuli and like many writers, I could probably rewrite it again. I was sad when I declared it finished. As they say, ‘It takes two people to write a book; one to write the story and one to break your arm to keep you from getting back into it.’ I held onto it until a friend persuaded me to turn it lose.
Many readers have suggested that The Beads of Lapis Lazuli is autobiographical, but it’s not. The central characters are composites of all the friends and relatives I’ve ever known. It’s a tribute to the strong women in my life: my grandmothers and my mother. The sailing adventures are mine and they are drawn from personal experience. The joy of sailing, the storms, the threat of being boarded by armed men are all real life adventures. Although I am chicken of the sea, I would not have missed any of the challenges or the trauma. We have chartered boats without professional crew in the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Caribbean, and the Coral Sea near the Great Barrier Reef.
The Beads of Lapis Lazuli was written in the wee hours when the house was quiet. For me, one of the best things about writing fiction is the research. I learned to repel off my best friend’s back porch, interviewed a fella who writes for Field and Stream in order to choose the right weapons for the story, and visited Crete to walk the sites where the Minoans once lived with such elegance and grace. I decided to include a touch of ESP because of personal experiences that have no logical explanation. Many people tell me they have had similar incidents happen to them: finding an unexpected bit of information that you really need to solve a problem, or a feeling that something is wrong and unfortunately you learn that your premonition is true. Writing fiction is a mysterious process that is difficult to understand. The characters make demands on your imagination that lead you to places you never intended to go. Sometimes it makes me wonder who’s really writing the story. Am I the writer, or is it someone who’s looking over my shoulder?
Outskirts Press: Tell us about publishing with Outskirts Press.
Doris: Outskirts Press was the perfect choice for publishing my book. Fortunately, my want to hold my book in my hand overcame my fear of doing something I knew so little about. Once I found the courage to schedule a phone conference to begin the process, I knew I was in good hands. Wendy talked me through the initial procedures, answered a long list of questions, and stayed with me until she handed me off to Jennifer, my Production Manager. Kudos to every member of the Outskirts staff. All my emails were answered promptly and never ignored! Everything was done using email, even the copyediting which was another new experience. However, with the editor’s clear instructions it worked out well. I would never have believed that the entire publishing process could be performed online, but it was.
I chose a custom cover which allowed me to create exactly the image I had in mind. To get the look I wanted, I took dozens of pictures of my own little Snake Goddess with a strand of lapis beads on her arms, sent the photo to OP along with a few suggestions, and the design department did the rest. I think they are the ones with ESP because the cover is even better than what I envisioned. I also chose the enhanced interior option. I’m embarrassed to say that I was not aware that interior design was so involved – the choices are endless. With a few suggestions, I allowed OP to design the interior and after a few tweaks we achieved a look I felt was appropriate for the topic.
Outskirts Press has such a wide range of services I will choose them again to publish my next book. I feel that the entire staff is sincerely interested in producing a good product. They helped me achieve my goal which was to make my book the best it could be.
Outskirts Press: What marketing efforts did you make to earn over 1,000 votes for your book in the Best Book of the Year polls?
Doris: The first call for votes went to everyone in my address book with two requests: please vote, and please ask relatives, friends, and friends of friends to vote. A large number of enthusiasts really got into the voting and launched individual campaigns. I posted a notice about the competition on Facebook with the request to involve friends and friends of friends, and a few special people worked very hard: one at a university, two in retirement homes, and two medical professionals. Without networking, the voting would have been very different. Persistence, begging, pleading, and follow-up were what pushed the vote over the top to a nail-biting end.
Entries are being accepted for the second annual Best Book of the Year awards. Click here to get published and be in the running for the award and its $1,500 Grand Prize.