By Samantha Bambino
Many aspiring writers dream of being the next J.K. Rowling, creating a novel that will be a worldwide phenomenon. It may seem impossible, but Harry Potter was rejected several times by publishers until it caught on. Writing a book takes dedication and determination, and five local authors shared their expertise at the Margaret R. Grundy Library on April 19 to help creative minds get started.
The panel consisted of Regina McIntyre, author of the Polish novel An Altar of Sod, husband and wife duo Dennis and Jeanine McGee, who are working to turn their publication into a television show, young adult novelist Carmen Ferreiro and Paul Sullivan, author of The Irishman’s Song: A Story of Love & Rebellion. It was an intimate gathering of about 10 audience members, all of whom sat with rapt attention, notebooks in hand.
Bristol resident Regina McIntyre has published three novels. As a young woman living in Clayton, Ga., years ago, she decided to join a local writing group.
“What else can you do in the mountains?” she laughed.
The writing group helped McIntyre hone her craft, and opened her eyes to the intense world of publishing. She learned of warehouses filled with unread manuscripts, so she self published with the Polish American Journal. Although she had to condense a 59,000-word book into 20,000-word chapters, she was able to get her story out to the niche group she intended.
Many writers, both new and old, struggle from writer’s block. They have many ideas, but the words won’t flow. McIntyre fortunately doesn’t have this problem. She explained how after putting a few words down, the rest will come through a “muse.”
“Some entity is there helping me,” she said.
The McGees help each other throughout the creative process, and even published their first books together. Though Jeanine works full time as a teacher at St. Mark’s School, she used her spare time to publish Lost and Found in Sea Isle City. The novel was originally intended to be about girlfriends having fun down the Shore, but after the death of her father, the whole dynamic of the book changed.
“I use writing as an outlet to get the emotions out,” she said.
Both she and Dennis take personal life experiences and amplify them to create a relatable story. Dennis’ book, Covered in Delco, is a reflection of himself as a high school graduate in the ’90s watching his friends plan their futures.
“I felt like I was left behind,” he said.
The core of the couple’s books is finding hope in tough situations they experienced. Each author said the best writers live through the journeys they talk about.
“Great writers write what they know,” Dennis said.
The McGees are in the process of producing a television show/web series set to be released in 2018, and are constantly seeking inspiration for new material.
As a native of Spain, Ferreiro, a 20-year Bucks County resident, combines her two loves of writing and language into compelling novels in every genre from drugs and diseases to paranormal romance with Immortal Love. However, her passion will always be young adult.
“It’s more open to new ideas,” she said. “I like the idea of coming-of-age stories.”
Her book, Two Moon Princess, is a plot-twisting adventure of medieval Spain and modern-day California that centers on her transition from Spain and the stark change of culture. While writing this and all her books, Ferreiro completes the dialogue first to get the characters talking. She describes this as the core of the book, and fills in the rest of the description later.
Ferreiro also explained how she never stops working on her books. While waiting for the bus or doing the laundry, she is constantly thinking about the story and developing characters, this way when she sits down to work on it later, she is ready.
Last but not least was Sullivan, a self-proclaimed disciplined writer. To this day, he uses pen and paper for all of his novels, and follows a set writing schedule. After completing a first draft, he will put it away for months at a time to separate himself, this way he can revisit it with a fresh perspective and rewrite it as needed.
Originally from the Bristol area, Sullivan has 11 books published. His father was a big reader, and took him to various libraries growing up, so creativity was in his blood. He wrote his first book in ’95, a young adult novel inspired by white wolves during a visit to Canada. He explained how he is unable to write about a place unless he has personally been there.
Sullivan had to educate himself on how to prepare a manuscript and submit it properly to a publisher. While the industry was competitive in the ’90s, it’s even harder now with the ability of anybody to self publish online. Still, he encourages those with a story to tell to give it a try.
“If it’s a good book and you like it, go with it,” he said. ••