At the age of 89, I have just published my third book: A Romance Forever: The True Story of a Wartime Romance and 66 Amazing Years Together!. This memoir recounts my daring wartime courtship and adventuresome life with my beloved wife, Kay.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I was involved with both professional and amateur writing in my career as publisher of SAILING WORLD magazine for The New York Times Company.
After retiring and moving from Greenwich CT to Oakland CA, Kay and I enjoyed the outdoor California life and culture. She had been an acclaimed artist in NewYork, and founder of two craft galleries, until Alzheimer’s ended her career. I stopped sailing and tennis after a stroke several years ago.
So our lives changed, and I felt it would be a great hobby to communicate some stories from our extraordinary life to family and friends through books. I call my books “romantic true-lifers.”
My first book, FLY BOY: Navy Wings and Willing Women, recounts my adventures as a young Naval Aviator during World War II. My next book, WHO’S STEERING: Great Races, Unique Cruises, describes 20 years of sailboat racing adventures, including our famed trip as the only Americans that Castro ever allowed to sail to Cuba.
What is the hardest part of writing?
I think it is self-discipline. First, to think of the subjects of greatest interest to your
desired audience, to stay tightly on the subject, and use terms and expressions your readers will understand. Try to keep the story moving fast, and include as much human interest as possible (and a little sex!).
Since my work has been primarily memoir, my memory is my greatest source. If I need dates or names I’ve forgotten, Google has been most helpful.
How did you publish your books and why?
With no history as an author, and no revelation like ponzi scheme as the subject, I felt that I needed to seek alternatives to traditional publishing. At my age, I also wanted someone else to handle the publishing details for me. My first two books were published through Outskirts Press and A ROMANCE FOREVER was published through BookSurge. I felt online Bernie Madoff’s was the best place to sell my books, and thought the fact that BookSurge is owned by Amazon might help with visibility and support.
What have you learned about publishing and book marketing?
There are as many tricks to success as a good quarterback has plays and players he can use on the field. Basically, major media shun most books that aren’t from established publishers and authors or celebrities. The exceptions seem to be “how to” advice that is new and/or extremely helpful.
Social media and the Internet are changing publishing and book marketing, and I need to keep learning how to use these new tools. Experienced advisors like Dana Lynn Smith have been very helpful to me in learning how to promote my books.
In my case, celebrity comments have been very helpful. For example, two world-class sailors and the Commodore of the New York Yacht Club endorsed WHO’S STEERING and it sold quite well.
For A ROMANCE FOREVER, my prize quote is from Maria Shriver, who says “The story is extraordinary.” President Obama also thanked me for including my experience as the only US boat Castro allowed to sail to Cuba.
Where can we find information about your books?
All three of my books are available at Amazon.com.