My Turn at The Next Big Thing

I’m writing this blog post at the behest of Val Nieman, who tagged me to join in a blog hop called The Next Big Thing. Val is a delightful friend, a transplant to North Carolina from the cold North, and a very talented writer. Her latest, newest, Next Big Thing is a literary-coming-of-age novel that has just the sort of elements that make me want to read it: sailing, marina life, and mystery.


It turns out that my critique partner also tagged me back in November, but either my brain went into under-drive, or I blocked it out because I’m so busy with too many projects. Probably hid that note in the recesses of never-to-be-found. I’m glad Jane Lebak has a great sense of humor. She writes delightful books starring angels with issues, and each one points me to a deeper place where I confront again the nature of God. Here’s the link to her Next Big Thing post:


MY TWO NEXT BIG THINGS (In question format as dictated by this blog hop.)

1.  What is the working title of your book or project?

Becalmed will be my debut novel, published this spring by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Sailing out of Darkness follows soon after, and then one of the other two in edits…I think.

 Becalmed Cover


2.  Where did the idea come from for the book or project?

The what-if for Becalmed arose from my aunt’s life. She was a small-town girl from New Bern, NC, who remained a spinster until she died at age ninety, a fairly common occurrence in her day, but it got me wondering. What if she—or someone like her—had grown up in a small town as a product of the eighties and nineties instead of the thirties? What choices might she have made that would propel her back to that small town? Why would she have said no to man after man who came begging? Would she, a woman with plenty of money and talent and friends, yearn for a man in her bed and children in her arms? Or would she be content with sailing and art, with friends and a shop and the big house on the water?

Sister Sara on board Sea Venture in 2004
Sister Sara on board Sea Venture at age 89

3.  What genre does it fall under, if any?

It’s women’s fiction with a love story thrown in for good measure.

4.  If applicable, who would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

If Meryl Streep were a few decades younger, she’d always be my first choice for Tadie’s character. She’s incredibly gifted. The other characters are hard for me to match, mostly because I’m not exactly au curant with modern movies.

5.  What is the one-sentence synopsis of your manuscript or project?

When a southern woman with a broken heart falls for a widower with a broken boat, it’s anything but smooth sailing.

6.  Will your book or story be self-published or represented by an agency?

My work is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency.

7.  How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I haven’t a clue. It’s been many years in the making, through draft after draft, and in between I’ve written and revised several others.

8.  What other book or stories would you compare this story to within the genre?

I’m never good at that. Let me know what you think when you read it!


9.  Who or what inspired you to write this book or story?

Sara Meadows as a child

My aunt, the sailor, who lived with me for the last nine years of her life.

10.  What else about the book or story might pique the reader’s interest?

Beaufort, NC, is a delightful waterfront town and serves as the setting for a series of women’s fiction stories, beginning with Becalmed. The second will be Heavy Weather.


Beaufort, NC
Beaufort, NC

I love to write from the POV of children. Becalmed’s seven-year-old Jilly sails into town with her daddy and is my favorite character in the book.

I also adore writing bad guys. The one who confronts Tadie in Becalmed no longer has his own POV—I dropped it during a rewrite—but there must be something slightly warped in me that I find their thoughts fun to write. Heavy Weather’s villain does have his own POV because he’s so deliciously awful.

  Gulls in San Carlos Dec 2009

(Poor gulls, but doesn’t that one’s face intimidate you? He definitely wants what I have.)

The fact that many of my female protagonists are sailors may interest readers. I’ve been a sailor all my life, taught first by my auntie, whose small boat I still sail in NC coastal waters. Of course, some stories don’t justify giving the protagonists a boat, and one WIP stars a woman who is petrified of the whole sailing adventure.

My aunt’s sharpie, Puff


And now, I nominate the following friends and bloggers to tell us about Their Next Big Thing:


Linda Glaz, author, agent, hilarious and kind friend whose eagle eye caught a number of glitches in my manuscripts, will be giving away books on Friday, January 11, as well as talking about good things that make up the Next Big Thing.


My dear friend and writer of thoughtful books, Nicole Petrino-Salter, beat me to this project. Here’s a link to her Next Big Thing blog post:


Kristine Pratt is a born encourager and a wonderful, thoughtful writer. As CEO of Written World Communications, she’s also my boss. (If only we could get some of her manuscripts out of her hands and into book form…sigh.)  She has agreed to surprise us with her Next Big Thing on Thursday, January 10:


Susie Finkbeiner will be releasing her debut novel, Paint Chips in ebook format on January 15 and plans to talk about it on the 17th as The Next Big Thing at :

Susie’s trailer is enticing enough that I’m going to be first in line to download the book to Kindle. And WhiteFire’s talented designer, Roseanna White, did a scrumptious cover for Paint Chips. Go take a look!