Song of Springhill Sample Chapter

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00026]

 

Chapter_1

October 30, 1956

Hannah peeked out of the guestroom. Rhythmic snores droned from the master bedroom, like they were in stereo sync. They wouldn’t wake for hours. Maybe even noon. But today, she wouldn’t be here at noon. Adrenaline surged through her thin frame. Her legs trembled.

This had to work. This was not time for one of her miscalculations or poor judgment calls. She’d been accused of that a lot lately. Whether it was true or not.

She clutched two suitcases, then took one last look around her room.

So much she was leaving behind. Clothing, shoes, cheap jewelry. Most of it chosen for her anyway. She had packed what mattered; she was sure of it. One last glance at the closet. There was that garment bag. A knowing settled over her, as warm as the midday sun. She would never wear what was inside that bag. It was not coming with her.

Memories flooded as she ducked into the shadowed hallway. She held her breath. Too long, she’d endured the bitter here. Wave upon wave, it had pounded her shores, overwhelming the sweet. Now, with each creak of the floorboards beneath her feet, her spirits lifted.

As she neared the front door, she couldn’t bring herself to look into the living room. The shiny, black grand piano she’d dusted every single day before she’d played for the past three years would stay behind. She’d find a way to buy one of her own someday; she was sure of that. Even if she had to find twenty extra music students to pay for it.

Outside, the gravel crunched beneath her feet. At the car door, the key shook in her hand. It clattered against every part of the metal except the hole. She used her other hand to steady it, till it finally went in.

Gently, she put the suitcases into the backseat, the same two she’d used since she was a teenager. All she’d keep of her life’s belongings fit inside a pair of cubes. But she had what she needed, including the journal.

His journal.

The only treasure she had of his, tucked inside the pocket of one of the suitcases. All of it, in her daddy’s handwriting. She’d read it so many times that she had most of his entries—his prayers—memorized.

A thud resounded. Hannah whipped around toward the cottage. Had someone heard her? She didn’t spot anyone, and the front door remained closed.

It was time to test her 1947 blue Studebaker Champion to see if she still had enough champ left in her to make the trip. The Champ was hardly new when Hannah bought her. Winters and salt laden roads had eaten away parts of the frame since, yet she had a hum to her—some may call it a rattle—that soothed Hannah like the lullaby her mama used to sing. It was familiar and always there. But not a sound she wanted lighting up the neighborhood when trying to escape unnoticed. The Champ was her first big possession, paid for with what little money she’d managed to tuck away from those music lessons she’d given.

Those kiddos were the only people she’d miss from this city. The way Eli cheered when he finally got the C sharp minor chord right on the guitar. Or the way Joy beamed when her right hand could play a different rhythm than her left on the piano. Now, that was a special talent. Not everyone had it. Hannah knew well how to blaze across the keys in different rhythms; it came so naturally to her. But the same did not characterize her life; it always seemed out of sync, especially with her desires.

An ache knotted Hannah’s throat. She couldn’t say goodbye to those kids. She’d had to keep far too many secrets these days. Telling them about this—planning for this exact moment—she couldn’t do it.

Headlights turned the street corner, startling her. She ducked down behind the car in the driveway, hoping whichever neighbor was coming home at this hour didn’t see her. The vehicle passed with a whir. She waited a couple more seconds, released her breath, then slid onto the driver’s seat.

She steeled herself against tossing up a prayer as she pulled the door closed. No, it wasn’t needed; this was up to her alone. She could do this. And she wasn’t sure anyone would listen anyway. She had prayed enough for intervention in the past.

That her mother wouldn’t die, for starters.

But it would be fine. All she had to do now was push on that gas and fix her eyes on her destination.

Her neck throbbed. As she glanced in the rearview, the purple bruises were still visible. Why didn’t she grab her collared sweater? Well, maybe because she hated that dark pink and white garment. It made her look like a wrapped up piece of ribbon candy.

And this would be the last time someone would leave a mark.

Hannah turned the key in the ignition. The Champ sparked to life. Just like that engine, she had the power within her to run, the power to not be a victim any longer. How had she forgotten that for the past three years? It was all a blur. But with the Champ’s racket, it was time to get out of here. She pressed on the gas, knowing she’d never see that little yellow cottage again. An unfamiliar feeling, the corners of her mouth turned up.

Her stomach fluttered; she’d waited her entire life. Now, it was time to return to the place her father used to call home until twenty-seven years ago.

Until his death, a smattering of hours before her birth.

A place called Springhill.

 

October 31, 1956

HANNAH STRETCHED OUT HER FINGERS. They hurt, throbbed from her grip on the steering wheel. She had to calm down. Gripping herself tightly wasn’t necessary anymore, right?

How many miles had she driven by herself before this trip? Ten, maybe fifteen at a time. Her odometer had logged over one thousand since yesterday morning. She’d stopped only for fuel or a quick bite, and to sleep in Quebec. The silver-haired motel attendant there didn’t appear to notice that she’d lied about her name. Not when he handed over keys to her room, or when she dropped them back off this morning before she left. “Have a safe one out there,” he’d said, as he slid the keys back onto the nail below Room 21.

Safe. Something she hadn’t known in a long time, but fully intended to find.

The sun glared off her back windshield. Within a few hours, it would settle in for the night.

Energy surged through her as she read:

WELCOME TO SPRINGHILL. Population 7,802.

The brown wooden sign tilted slightly to the left. Yet it looked as sturdy as the hills she’d passed on her way into this idyllic town.

And she did feel welcome. Even as a stranger. Maybe a small town was just what she needed. A place with roots, with personal history. Would she like living where most people knew one another by name? And probably their quirks, habits, let alone their secrets? It wasn’t a place to remain anonymous. But maybe people here had your back.

Maybe Springhillers—as her mama used to call them—would care if something felt or seemed off. Maybe they actually looked each other in the eyes instead of turning the other way. How could she feel like a stranger and at-home, all at once?

She snaked the Champ through a few side streets off Junction Road. Slowing to a crawl, she surveyed a few homes—all different styles and colors. And small. Very small. Cozy was a nicer way to look at it, especially since they seemed so inviting. So different from where she grew up.

If only her mother had moved them back here. Or even stayed here from day one. Maybe life would have been different. Her mother would still be alive.

As she surveyed the neighborhoods, she felt like a new homeowner, taking a stroll through a brand new house, eyeing fixtures, moldings, and windowpanes. Not that she really knew what that felt like. Having a place of her own lived only in her imagination. Her dreams.

The Champ turned up Main Street, a hilly road that was home to businesses on both sides: gift shops, bakeries, a grocery store, a church. A newspaper office, a furniture store, a café, a hardware store, a pharmacy, a diner. Well, they sure had what they needed here.

Just about every store was personalized with a name, whether a surname or first. No doubt, the people of this town ran Springhill’s Main Street. A rounded clock tower on the post office showed it was almost two-thirty.

On the sidewalk, two old men sat on a white bench with black lettering on it. They laughed heartily at some private joke. When the old fella with the overalls and straight metallic looking hair leaned forward, doubled over, she made out the phrase behind him: “Liars Bench.”

“What on earth?” A chuckle escaped her lips. What kinds of lies were they telling each other? Was one pretending to be a hero? Was the other spinning tall tales of his royal British roots? With a bench like that in town, she might fit right in.

Though she preferred to think of her lies as protection.

When the two old guys looked over at her, one signaled his salute. She returned the gesture, then continued the Champ’s crawl up Main Street by All Saints Church. There was a place she knew from Mama. A little girl played hopscotch out front. Oh, to be as safe as that little girl seemed.

It was time to focus. She had to find her. In a town this size, someone must know if Aunt Abigail still lived here. Or “Abby” as her mother used to call her. Hannah’s heart would rest better when she tracked her down. What if she wasn’t alive anymore? What if she didn’t want her here? There wasn’t any reason she wouldn’t, was there?

Regardless, Hannah would never retrace her steps to where she’d been. No matter what happened here, going back to Toronto was not an option.

Did her aunt look anything like Daddy? Maybe she’d see for herself. Today, perhaps. Her stomach fluttered again.

At the top of Main Street, on her right, rested a building that had plenty of lights. The sign out front blinked: Hector’s Pool Hall. The P in pool was dimmer, barely hanging on like the last of a candle’s wick. Hopefully, someone in there could help her.

 

♫ ♫ ♫

 

The eleven ball ripped into the corner pocket with a clunk. Josh Winslow blew on the end of his cue stick. Blue talc puffed into the air. Josh had no intention of losing this round to his comrade, Moosey. No, he couldn’t, or Moosey would be an insufferable braggart all night underground, like a vulture circling its fallen prey.

When Josh first coined the name Moosey, it had nothing to do with the giant taxidermied head mounted over Moosey’s fireplace. A hunted down trophy of Moosey’s grandfather. No. The moniker had everything to do with Moosey’s rotund frame getting caught between the coalface and a stone pack. This was during Moosey’s first night on Josh’s team, 4500 feet below the earth’s surface. Moosey may not have appreciated the comedy with a side of pain at the time, but Josh and his buddies sure did. They still laughed about it. Thankfully, Moosey had a healthy sense of humor to go with his appetite.

Josh sunk his number nine as Hector delivered chips and vinegar to the pool table. “Smack it up, now, Josh. Don’t got much time left.”

“Thanks, Hector.”

When Hector opened this pool hall, it was his way of finding a new path in life, outside “the deeps,” those dark, musty shafts carved deep into the earth’s surface. Hector was a one-man show. Couldn’t afford any employees. Josh liked to give him business whenever he could. Well, that, and he liked to beat Moosey at Eight Ball or Snooker.

Moosey grabbed a fist full of Josh’s fatty delight. “Hector, you need to teach my Rosalie how to crisp up chips like this. Mmm, mmm.”

Josh wondered how—on a miner’s salary—Rosalie could keep Moosey fed.

“Don’t you two gotta get to the mines?” Hector asked.

Josh looked at the clock: two-thirty. Hector was right. When the rake operators brought miners up from the prior shift, there’d better be a new crop to head down and keep that production going. Three o’clock, on the dot.

Mine productivity controlled this town’s survival. More than once Josh had to wait underground while the rake operators sent up coal cars with the black stuff, instead of letting their aching bodies warm the rail cars. Moving coal took priority. But was the company paying them for their time waiting? Not a chance. Well, at least he had a job and could put food on his table.

Even if it was a table for one.

Josh sunk his last striped ball. He aimed for that black eight when the front door chimed someone’s arrival.

A female. An attractive one at that. Seeing an unfamiliar woman around here was momentous. Even Springhill Record newsworthy.

“So and so’s Great Uncle Marv visited this weekend.” Yes, they did report that stuff. Sometimes, Springhill was a slow news town. Slow news days were good because it meant there were no problems in the mines.

Maybe this chestnut-haired beauty was unattached. A man could hope, right?

Too many months, years even, had passed since he’d been willing to request a date. Much to the chagrin of Mary Lou Lipnicki, who relentlessly dropped the most obvious hints.

Hector waved. “Good aft’noon, young lady.”

Moosey’s elbow met Josh’s ribs. “Classy chassis, eh?”

Josh tossed his pool stick on the table and strolled over, calm, collected and—

“Ow!” Where did that table come from?

After glancing Josh’s way, Classy Chassis spoke to Hector: “Good afternoon, Sir. I’m looking for a woman named Abigail Wright. Do you happen to know if she still lives in Springhill?”

Josh stepped in before Hector could answer. “Abigail Percy is her name now. She and her family live across the way from me. At Five Maple Street. Her husband, Ray, he’s one of my best friends.”

“Wonderful!” Relief swam in her deep brown eyes. Her olive skin was so clear, so untouched by the harsh sun.

“Where is Maple?”

“Who would be askin’?” Josh ignored Moosey’s snort.

“Hannah Wright. I’m Abigail’s niece.”

Hector asked, “Are you Melvin’s daughter?”

Josh swallowed. He hadn’t heard that name in a long time.

She looked at Hector. “You knew my father?”

“Well, color me overjoyed.” Hector reached over the counter to gather her into an enthused embrace. Josh noticed her upper torso tense. Hector kept on hugging. At least she was polite about it.

“Everybody knew Mel. ‘Specially us fixtures who’ve been here for more decades than we can high enough count. I’m Hector.”

“Nice to meet you, Hector.” Hannah smiled. It may have been small, perhaps even reserved, but it lit up her whole face.

Josh jabbed a thumb over his shoulder toward his friend. “That big guy over there…he’s Moosey. And I am Joshua Theodore Winslow the sixth. Don’t tell anyone…” He leaned in a bit closer, catching her scent. A fragrant lotion. Feminine, but not overpowering. “There’s only a fifth and a fourth Joshua Theodore. Three, two, and one…they were made up. And unless I settle down soon, there won’t be a seventh.”

Moosey chortled.

Was he coming on too strong? Josh didn’t care. It never hurt to let a seemingly kind and attractive young woman know he was available. He took her hand in a gentle shake. If she were Melvin’s daughter, she was in her late twenties, five years younger than he was. As he lingered, she removed her hand from his. This woman wasn’t going to make it easy.

He searched for a sparkle in her eyes but sensed something else. Fear, maybe? One who protects herself with walls. Thankfully, breaking down barriers didn’t scare him. After all, he was a miner adept with a pick. He considered this woman a welcome challenge.

Moosey gave his shoulder a nudge. “Come on, Winnie. Pit time.”

Winnie. Not exactly a strong name to impress a lady. But silly names underground signaled acceptance as part of a team. She’d learn that soon enough if she were going to stick around. His insides warmed at the thought.

“Hannah, I can escort you to Abigail’s on my way to the mines.”

“That won’t be necessary. If you could just give me directions?”

He swung his arm the direction of the doorway. “Head down Junction Road. Turn right on Maple. You can’t miss it. It’s where Oreo, the Dalmatian, sits.”

 

♫ ♫ ♫

 

As Hannah drove down the road, she wondered why that man looked at her the way he did. Josh was his name. She was a stranger to him, right? At his age, had he not found a suitable wife? He was pleasing to the eyes, certainly, with his chiseled nose and strong jaw line. But he was glancing the wrong direction. She may be here to seek connection, but that was not the kind she was looking for.

As Hannah spotted the street sign for Maple, there he was. Oreo, the Dalmatian, right on the corner. Josh was right. The dog’s abdomen rose and fell rhythmically with each pant. If only life were that simple for humans. This was a predictable place in many ways.

And for Hannah, predictable—like the classics she’d played on the ivory keys for the past decade—was just what she needed.

 

END OF SAMPLE CHAPTER

To read the full book, see the links below.

 

* * *

Below are the links where you can find it in US and Canada. (Other countries, check your Amazon sites.) I’ve also put a synopsis below if you’d like to know more about the story before you buy.

***

In the United States:

PAPERBACK:
Song of Springhill – a love story: an inspirational romance based on historical events (on Paperback)

* * *

KINDLE:

Song of Springhill – a love story: an inspirational romance based on historical events (on Kindle)

In Canada:

KINDLE

Song of Springhill: a love story (On Kindle Amazon.ca)

For paperback orders, you can order through Createspace, a division of Amazon.com that will send the book to Canada. You will need to create an account with them separate from your Amazon.ca account.

For those Springhillers who want the book in Canada, I strongly suggest you get a group together and try to order in bulk to save on the shipping costs per book. I’m supplying the following coupon code for anyone ordering through Createspace so it will knock $3 off the cost of each book to help defray the cost of shipping. (Regular book price 14.99, sale price will be 11.99 each plus shipping / tax / duties.)

Upon check out, use promo code: 9LAMJJC6. This code will take $3 off every book on your order. Here’s the link to the book page on Createspace:

Song of Springhill: a love story (On Paperback –order through Createspace)

* * *

The Companion Book: Spirit of Springhill

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00018]

The Ebook version is available on Amazon.ca in Canada:

Click Here to Buy Spirit of Springhill in Ebook Format from Amazon.ca

If you want to order the paperback in bulk through Createspace, you can use the same discount code: 9LAMJJC6, to get $3 off the retail price of Spirit of Springhill as well. (Regular price $11.00, with discount $8 per book plus shipping, tax, duties.)

Click Here to Buy Spirit of Springhill in Paperback from Cheryl’s Createspace Store

For U.S. orders, use the following links:

Spirit of Springhill (PAPERBACK VERSION)

Spirit of Springhill (KINDLE VERSION)

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00026]

Song of Springhill, a love story & labor of love

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00026]

* * *

I feel like I’ve been living in the 1950s for the past little while, so enjoying looking up details about cars, Christmas decorations, clothes, popular music and dances, and other styles of the time period. That’s one of the many joys of being a writer…being able to dive into another world, setting, time period. (I’ve been listening to this great 1950s music mix!) I was even tempted to buy a poodle skirt and a hula hoop. What an era that must have been to grow up in.

It feels like I’ve been working on this project for a long time because…well, I have. My dad had told me for years (in the 90s) that I should try to find a story to tell centering on the Springhill coal mining disasters, including the big one my grandfather survived. It took me a while to listen to him. (Sorry, Dad!)

The first screenplay I was inspired to write was in the late 1990s. It was called Hope in a Mining Town. It was a father-son story, where the son wanted to follow in the footsteps of his coal miner father. Well, around the time I hit the third act of that script (pg. 90 of 120), I saw a preview to the movie, October Sky. I was devastated. It had 9 things in common with my story just from the previews alone, including the 1950s time period, mining arena, father-son story etc. So, I hastily finished the script (because I have to finish what I start) then scrapped that project and never looked at it again. Seriously, never.

A few years later, I felt that nudge again, to find a good story to tell using Springhill and its true-life mine disasters  and miracle rescues as its backdrop. It was 2001.  Dad and I went around Nova Scotia, Canada, interviewing a lot of the family members, coal miners, and rescuers so I could get some great, authentic research for my story. I was so impressed with the wonderful Springhillers who gave of their time and their stories.

Then the idea for Song of Springhill was born. This time, I looked at it from the love story angle instead of making it a father-son story. If you liked the movie Titanic where it was–at its heart–a fictional love story set in a true life disaster story, then you’ll hopefully enjoy this novel too. I wrote it as a screenplay first, then did the novel adaptation.

While I had to take some creative liberties with the town and the circumstances of the story itself, I tried my best to honor the real time period, the real setting, and the heart of the people in it. But naturally, in a novel, there will be fictionalized segments related to the love story. A lot of the disaster circumstances are authentic and gathered from years and years of research and newspaper articles and from my interviews with the real people. I’m so grateful to everyone who gave of their time and their hearts to share their lives with me for this story.

I’m excited to honor my grandfather, Charles McKay, in this way, who was a survivor of one of the biggest disasters in coal mining history.

Incidentally, October Sky went on to become my favorite film. I didn’t hold it against them for telling ‘my’ story before I could. Hopefully, one day, the screenplay for Song of Springhill will be a movie as well.

You’ll find Song of Springhill on Amazon in either kindle or paperback formats. Its companion book of true life interviews, Spirit of Springhill, is also available in both formats.

I pray the story is a blessing to you. I will say one thing that really hit me while writing the novel version of the story–that was a departure from my screenplay–was adding the thematic about how God shows up in the midst of difficult circumstances beyond just the miraculous or in obvious ways. We may not always understand why He chooses to intervene in one place and not another–to allow one person to live, yet not another. However, it’s so important to look for God and His hand in “the little things,” those little graces He gives us to keep us going when we are experiencing hard times.

May the story of Song of Springhill be a blessing to you as much as getting to know this little town and its people has been to me.

Below are the links where you can find it in US and Canada. (Other countries, check your Amazon sites.) I’ve also put a synopsis below if you’d like to know more about the story before you buy.

***

In the United States:

PAPERBACK:
Song of Springhill – a love story: an inspirational romance based on historical events (on Paperback)

KINDLE:

Song of Springhill – a love story: an inspirational romance based on historical events (on Kindle)

In Canada:

KINDLE

Song of Springhill: a love story (On Kindle Amazon.ca)

For paperback orders, you can order through Createspace, a division of Amazon.com that will send the book to Canada. You will need to create an account with them separate from your Amazon.ca account.

For those Springhillers who want the book in Canada, I strongly suggest you get a group together and try to order in bulk to save on the shipping costs per book. I’m supplying the following coupon code for anyone ordering through Createspace so it will knock $3 off the cost of each book to help defray the cost of shipping. (Regular book price 14.99, sale price will be 11.99 each plus shipping / tax / duties.)

Upon check out, use promo code: 9LAMJJC6. This code will take $3 off every book on your order. Here’s the link to the book page on Createspace:

Song of Springhill: a love story (On Paperback –order through Createspace)

* * *

The Companion Book: Spirit of Springhill

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00018]

The Ebook version is available on Amazon.ca in Canada:

Click Here to Buy Spirit of Springhill in Ebook Format from Amazon.ca

If you want to order the paperback in bulk through Createspace, you can use the same discount code: 9LAMJJC6, to get $3 off the retail price of Spirit of Springhill as well. (Regular price $11.00, with discount $8 per book plus shipping, tax, duties.)

Click Here to Buy Spirit of Springhill in Paperback from Cheryl’s Createspace Store

For U.S. orders, use the following links:

Spirit of Springhill (PAPERBACK VERSION)

Spirit of Springhill (KINDLE VERSION)

If you’d like to read the blog I posted about the inspiration behind working on this project, check out:

The Ripple Effect of Life

* * *

SYNOPSIS OF SONG OF SPRINGHILL: a love story

 

Could you fall in love despite the great risk of losing the one you cherish most?

Hoping for a fresh start, Hannah Wright moves to Springhill, the hometown of the father she never knew because he died in their volatile coal mines before she was born. She tracks down her aunt, Abigail Percy, and is immediately welcomed to move in with the whole Percy clan. This includes her Uncle Ray, a coal miner, and their four lively children. Suddenly, she’s surrounded by more family than she’s ever had in her life.

The day after she arrives, the mine explodes, trapping many underground, including Uncle Ray. Little did Hannah know when she set off on this new adventure how much her family was going to need her. When the Percys face a sudden lack of provision, Hannah knows she must get a job to help them. But the only industry in town that pays enough is coal mining—and the mine company doesn’t hire women.

Hannah secretly masquerades as a man and gets hired as Mel, a distant cousin of her father’s. Keeping up her charade is challenging in this tight-knit, 1950s town, where everybody knows one another.

Hannah is placed on the team of Josh Winslow, a handsome bachelor who noticed her the moment she stepped into town. It doesn’t take long for Josh to see through Hannah’s disguise as Mel, but she convinces him there’s no other way for her to help take care of her family. Understanding the pressure she’s under, he agrees to not blow Hannah’s cover—for now.

Though Hannah seems to keep Josh at arm’s length, he’s determined to chip away at her defenses and win her heart. She resists, afraid to love someone who could die at any moment in an accident underground.

Long-time miners start to sense that “the big one” is coming. Calling it a “Bump” does little to calm Hannah’s fear of the impending underground earthquake, a disaster that could come any day.

Will Josh and Hannah be among the next miners caught in a catastrophic disaster? Does Hannah stand to lose everything she’s worked so hard to rebuild?

Song of Springhill is a love story set against the backdrop of true-life disasters that plagued the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia in the 1950s. It was a town torn by tragedy that also experienced some of the most astounding, miraculous rescues the world ever watched unfold.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00026]

Writing Process Blog Tour

Slide10

I was invited to a blog tour on writing processes by Rene Gutteridge, my co-author on Never the Bride, Greetings from the Flipside, and Novelizations: How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels. You can check out her process at:  Rene Gutteridge Blog

She was invited by our mutual friend, Andrea Nasfell (Andrea Nasfell’s Blog) a very talented screenwriter of such movies as Moms’ Night Out, Christmas Angel, and Silver Bells.

I decided to join the party, since I hadn’t written a writing blog in a while. Having just finished up the latest draft on my next novel, what better way to take a break than to blog?

1) Who are you?

I am Cheryl McKay in my writing life, Cheryl Price in my married life. I am a wife, daughter, sister, friend, screenwriter, author, teacher, scrapbooker, new spiralizer, and the forgiven child of the Most High King. My husband and I have a ministry together called Finally One and a passion for seeing marriages, not just survive, but thrive.

2) What are you working on?

As I’ve blogged about in the past, Rene Gutteridge and I have been working together on getting my screenplays adapted into novels. We’ve released two of those so far and are about to start work on a third. After we wrote our “How To” book on novelizations, I decided to try my hand at one of my own adaptations. (I far prefer working with Rene, I must say.) But adapting a story very close to my heart and my family’s heart, Song of Springhill, has been its own kind of reward. I hope to release this novel late August or early September 2014. I already released a book of true life interviews earlier this year that grew from my research into the story, called Spirit of Springhill.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00018]

Spirit of Springhill Blog

I look forward to introducing the world to my love story characters in the novel version this fall. Earlier this year, I was hired to write a kids television show. I was also hired to write a series pilot that’s now out there making the rounds to hopefully get set up as a regular show. The one thing you can bet I’m always working on is looking for funding to make Never the Bride, the script version of my novel with Rene. We’re making some great progress, but as always, movie-making takes a lot of time and persistence.

NTB Final Movie Poster    Never the Bride

 

In my free time, my husband and I are producing a web style series called:

Married with Benefits

FINAL MWB Logo

It’s a series of shorts that depict a variety of marital issues that we will use in the future as a springboard for discussions when we public speak at couples’ events.

3) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I know all writers are told to “write what you know.” This is something I probably do to the extreme. I’ve written my “life story” at least five ways in five different genres. I am very personal about what I write. You will find me somewhere in everything I pen. The reason I do that is I believe my work is more relatable and authentic when I can put myself and my heart (which is sometimes bleeding) into my work. For example, I wrote the screenplay of Song of Springhill over ten years ago. In adapting the novel this year, I ended up adding an entire overarching theme that wasn’t part of the original script based on current questions I have about life, death, and God’s mercies in the midst of painful circumstances. If I’m wrestling with it, chances are, so are other people. I hope by being authentic, others who read (or watch movies) will be touched by my work and helped in some way, at the very least to know someone out there understands how they feel. The other unique thing I’ve been doing for a while is writing both fiction and non-fiction on similar topics.

4) Why do you write what you do?

Like I said, I have a passion for storytelling and the belief that stories can change and heal hearts or even just bring hope and laughter in the midst of a world that is full of challenges. I especially have a desire to reach audiences that are single, losing hope in their wait to find love. So a lot of my stories are romantic comedies that singles can relate to. I believe story is transformative. Getting a chance to write for others who may be changed, touched, helped, or healed through something I wrote is extremely rewarding and not something I take lightly.

5) How does your writing process work?

I am a big planner. I have a blog I wrote about this called Plotting is Better in Color that describes my outlining and brainstorming process. After I finish brainstorming and outlining, I write many drafts before I show the project to some trusted mentors. Then the rewrites begin. I do a lot of drafts before a client will see a project labeled “Draft One”. I love to outline on Post-Its. But if I have to turn in that outline, I type those scene ideas up in treatment form.

When I’m looking for inspiration on setting, time periods, and locations, I enjoy using Pinterest. Check out this link to read more:  Using Pinterest for Writing Inspiration Blog

Sometimes, if I am having trouble with a scene, I act it out. When I was writing the screenplay for The Ultimate Gift and found myself stuck, I visited a cemetery as if I were Jason, wanting to talk to Red’s gravestone to get some things off my chest. It helped inspire me into how Jason might have felt, trying to repair a relationship with someone who was already gone. The exercise got me back to writing.

I find that the writing process is never over. And just like I personally am a work-in-progress, so are any words I put on the page.

The Writing Process Blog Tour continues with a couple of other writers speaking about their processes, Carolyne Aarsen and Donita K. Paul. Their blog entries should be up sometime this week. *

Carolyne Aarsen Blog

Donita K. Paul Blog

* * *

If you are interested in learning more about how to write novelizations, check out our “How To” book (with Rene Gutteridge):

Novelizations – How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels: A Writing Guide for Screenwriters and Authors (Paperback)

Novelizations – How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels: A Writing Guide for Screenwriters and Authors (Kindle Version)

Spirit of Springhill: Miners, Wives, Widows, Rescuers & Their Children Tell True Stories of Springhill’s Coal Mining Disasters

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00018]

 * * *

My grandfather survived one of the biggest disasters in coal mining history. I’ve been working on a project about Springhill, Nova Scotia for a long time based on what I learned about what happened to him and many other good men of Springhill. I wrote a screenplay called Song of Springhill, a dramatized version of the Springhill Mine Disasters. I am also currently penning the novel version.

In the process of researching the story, I got the chance to talk to many wonderful people related to the disasters: miners who were miraculously rescued, their wives and kids, widows and children of those who were lost in the mines, and rescue workers. I’m releasing this book of interviews separately now while I’m still working on the novel.

Spirit of Springhill is written in honor of this special town, and contains interviews with 16 men and women. It’s 132 pages. Special thanks to all who were willing to share their stories for this book and for the ways their stories have helped me work on the novel and screenplay. I’m honored to have met these wonderful people, some of whom have passed away since I interviewed them. My hope is this book is a way to share their legacies for generations to come.

Spirit of Springhill is now available as a Paperback or an Ebook for Kindles, tablets, phones and computers. If you don’t have a Kindle, all you need is the free Amazon Kindle Reader software for your phone, tablet or computer to read it instantly.  The ordering instructions for Paperback and Ebook are different, depending on if you’re in Canada or the United States.

 Canada Residents:

You can purchase the Paperback version from the following link to Cheryl’s Bookstore on Createspace: (Createspace is a division of Amazon.com that will send the book to Canada. You will need to create an account with them separate from your Amazon.ca account.)

Click Here to Buy Spirit of Springhill in Paperback from Cheryl’s Createspace Store

If you buy one copy of the book ($10), it’s approximately 6.99 shipping. Duties and Taxes might not be collected at time of purchase but may be due upon receipt. If you buy copies of the book in bulk, shipping is less per book. (Example: 10 copies = approx. 2.09 shipping per book.) For any stores or museums in Springhill that would like to stock the book for purchase by others, contact the author for a bulk discount code before ordering: cheryl@purplepenworks.com

The Ebook version is available on Amazon.ca in Canada:

Click Here to Buy Spirit of Springhill in Ebook Format from Amazon.ca

For U.S. orders, use the following links:

Spirit of Springhill (PAPERBACK VERSION)

Spirit of Springhill (KINDLE VERSION)

All other countries, check your country’s Amazon site for the Ebook. It may be a couple of months before the Paperback may potentially show up.

I hope you are as inspired as I have been by the spirit of this special town that refused to give up on any of its own people, and the miraculous rescues that followed. I will continue to press forward with the novel version and announce once that is ready.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000448_00018]

Novelizations: How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels (Sample Chapter)

* * *

Interested in learning about how to adapt a screenplay into a novel?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

Here is the first chapter of the new “How To” book by Rene Gutteridge & Cheryl McKay: Novelizations: How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels (A Writing Guide for Screenwriters and Authors)

Chapter 1

Cheryl McKay (aka The Screenwriter)


What is a Novelization?

There is a new trend percolating in the writing industry with novelizations. I’m not talking about serials that show up on bookshelves to match every episode of your favorite TV crime drama or the book spin-offs depicting your child’s favorite TV or movie characters. Rather, there is a different trend that began in the endlessly imaginative world of Hollywood around 2008.

Most writers are familiar with the custom of taking a book and adapting it for the silver screen. That’s been around since Oliver Twist, Ben Hur, and Rip Van Winkle’s clever arrivals. But what is this reversal? Can we take screenplays—even before they are filmed—and turn them into novels? Can these novels have a life of their own, independent of a film or television release?

The novelization process, as its own piece of artistry, is a whole different form of writing; it’s literally the opposite of book-to-screen adaptations and it’s gaining popularity. This topic that—just a few years ago, you’d never heard of—is suddenly on the roster of classes at screenwriting, film, and fiction writing conferences. Rene and I have even had the chance to teach some of those.

We find this new trend exciting. Perhaps it’s because we had the privilege of getting involved on the front end of its newfound popularity before we had even heard of it.

*  *  *


Our Story

Our journey began in 2007. We met after Rene wrote the novelized version of my screenplay for The Ultimate Gift after it had been made into a feature film. What was unusual about that was the screenplay was already based on a book, penned by Jim Stovall. However, the producers and the publisher thought there would be value in releasing a second novel that closely matched the feature film. Rather than just rereleasing the original novel with the movie poster on the front, Thomas Nelson Publishers hired Rene to novelize my screenplay and then they published it in time for the feature film’s release.

This creative process gave us a fresh idea. What if we could get publishers to commission novels based on screenplays, even if those screenplays hadn’t yet been made into films?

If you are a screenwriter, can you imagine not having to wait for your movie to get cast, filmed, posted, and distributed to the nearest theater or Redbox to find an audience? Wouldn’t you love to start building an audience sooner?

Now you can, with what we are going to teach you through this book.

When Rene read my script Never the Bride, she knew she wanted my quirky rom-com to be the first story we worked on together. Our dream came true! In early 2008, when this new trend was barely even a concept, Random House contracted us for the novelization of Never the Bride.

Thus began the journey that has continued since that day. Collectively, we have seven of these in publication or soon-to-be released, and we plan to do more. We have learned so much about the script-to-novel writing process. We now want to share that with you. It is a different art form altogether from adapting books into scripts or writing novels from scratch.

*  *  *

Why Novelizations?

You may be wondering what the motive is for a screenwriter or a novelist to get involved in this process. For those writers who can do both forms of writing—why would you want to pen two projects based on the same material?

Well, it’s simple.

The film industry is risk-adverse. Check out the slate of films releasing on any given Friday. You will notice most of these projects are based on something preexisting: a novel, a nonfiction book, a comic book, a character, a true story, a historical event, a sequel, prequel or spin-off of a prior film or TV series, a remake of a prior film. (Did you know Les Miserables has been adapted into film over ten times?) Hollywood loves to know they have a built-in audience with whom to start. Otherwise, they are too afraid no one will shell out the big bucks to fill their stadium-style theater seats.

Yet screenwriters have good ideas for stories too, right? New, fresh, original. Naturally, not all screenwriters are novelists, just like most novelists wouldn’t know how to adapt their books into screenplays. (The writing rules couldn’t be more opposite!) In recent years, if executives came across a project they liked but they wanted to see if there was an audience for it, they might suggest the screenwriter get their project novelized and published first.

Besides having your story published, the benefit for the screenwriter is to be able to take meetings with studios, TV networks, and producers, and talk about how her story sold first as a novel. This gives the impression that someone else considered that story worth buying. It will give that screenwriter a leg up on other scripts in the slush pile that have no track record.

There have also been success stories in the independent publishing realm if a screenwriter released a novelization on her own and it gained a big audience. Studio executives pay attention to ebook sales, whether books are traditionally published or not, especially if there’s a large following made obvious by chatty readers in book forums. (According to an executive at a conference speaking on novelizations, it may only take the sale of 10,000 copies of an independently published novel to capture the eye of a studio.)

For novelists, this is a worthy world to dive into as well. They may find ideas they can be passionate about that will take half the work of an original novel. They have a better chance of their novelizations landing on the big screen. They have a shot at better sales if any of those novels are made into films and the novelizations rerelease with the movie posters on the front. All of this helps novelists become more visible in the film industry; it may call the attention of studios, networks, and producers to their other books.  Can you say win-win?

For novelists and screenwriters, for producers and publishers, there is no downside to playing in this creative world. (So, why didn’t we think of this sooner?)

*  *  *

What You Will Learn in This Book

There are many questions surrounding this creative arena that we will discuss in this book. For example, how does a novelist know which stories to take on and which projects to avoid? Why is it important to not change everything the screenwriter wrote? And yet, how flexible does the screenwriter need to be when watching someone else adapt (read: change) his words?

Screenwriters, we will help you understand why the novelist will have to make some changes to your beloved, original story, its structure, its dialogue, and other areas in the translation to book form. We will also share some tips on how to make sure you are working with a team that actually wants to adapt your story.

There are patterns we have picked up on that have become helpful to recognize as we approach each novelization. Some key questions we will answer are:

• What are the challenges of novelizations?

• What makes it easier to write these books over novels written from scratch?

• What’s important to keep, to expand, or throw away from the original script’s story?

• If the screenwriter is not writing the novelization, how involved should that screenwriter be with the novelist?

• What’s the best way to form a partnership between screenwriters and novelists?

• What changes should screenwriters be flexible on and what should they fight for?

We will answer these and many other questions throughout this book.

And here’s the cool part. Since collectively, we have done this on seven projects so far, we have specific examples from our own published work, plus a few works-in-progress. You will get the chance to compare side-by-side script pages to the novelization pages that followed. We will explain our whole process: why certain parts of the novel are faithful to the script and why other parts veer off in different directions. We will show you how each writing arena follows different rules and how to use the tools unique to novelists in the novelization process.

For those screenwriters who are also aspiring novelists, there is so much you must learn to do your own adaptations. It’s like having to rewire your brain to think the exact opposite to how it functioned when you penned your screenplay. We will also give you short exercises in select chapters to put what you’re learning into practice.

We will cover such topics as setting, length, point of view, backstory, interior monologue, and the translation of dialogue, character, and structure from script-to-book.

And just a quick word about the format of this book. It’s not that we love seeing our names and titles in print. Since this book is co-written by a screenwriter and a novelist, we will label each section for you, so you know who is speaking. This way you’ll know if you are being given advice from the screenwriter’s POV or the novelist’s POV, or which one of us is doing the comparison from script to novel. Just because we don’t want to be completely annoying with agreement problems by always having to qualify a writer in the singular as a “he or she,” we will often refer to one as a “she.” We mean no disrespect to the wonderful male authors and screenwriters out there. (Rock on, Bill Myers, James Scott Bell, Tom Clancy, Nicholas Sparks!)

Are you ready to dive in with us, into this new, exciting, creative world?

*  *  *

(Want to know more? To get a copy of the whole book, visit the links below: )


Novelizations – How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels: A Writing Guide for Screenwriters and Authors (Paperback)

Novelizations – How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels: A Writing Guide for Screenwriters and Authors (Kindle Version)

 

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Novelizations: How do you translate a script into a novel? A writing exercise.

      Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]      NTB Final Movie Poster    Never the Bride

Have you ever thought about adapting your script into a novel? Have you wondered how the process of novelization works?  Rene Gutteridge and I have done a few of these together, and she’s done several with other screenwriters. We won a Carol Award / Book of the Year Award in the Women’s Fiction category of ACFW, for Never the Bride.

I also recently started adapting some of my scripts myself into novels. It’s hard work, but a very fun process. There’s definitely an art to it! It’s exactly the opposite of the process you’d go through to adapt a book into a screenplay (like I did with The Ultimate Gift). And getting your scripts out there as books just might help you get a movie made! And for novelists, you could find some good projects to work on that are about half the work of writing a novel from scratch.

On this blog, I’d like to show you one example from my screenplay Never the Bride. To follow are the first two pages of the screenplay:

Nightmare plus wake up

NTB pg 2

Now, before continuing to read this blog, go to your favorite book retailer and use the LOOK INSIDE or PREVIEW feature to read the first part of the novel from the opening to the point where Jessie drives off with her tire changed. (If you hop on a paperback version, you’re looking at pg. 1 through top of pg. 5.) The following link goes to Amazon’s Paperback or Google Books:

Never the Bride Sample on Amazon

Never the Bride Preview on Google Books

The sample included 1188 words, four printed novel pages vs. 472 words and two script pages. That’s two and a half times more words that were put into the novel to describe the same sequence.

This novel is in first-person, present tense, which gives us an active thought life from which to play. It’s like getting to write one long monologue as Jessie tells her own story.

For this blog, we’re going to focus on interior monologue (the subject of Chapter Six of our new “How To” book), one of the most useful tools exclusive to novelists that screenwriters are not allowed to use in scripts. The novel begins with the scene that starts on page two of the screenplay. It draws you into Jessie’s dilemma in a way the script simply cannot. She may be in the same predicament, but we get to spend a lot more time with Jessie, getting to know how she feels about life, her vulnerability, and her singleness. The interior monologue shares some of the information from the voice-over where Jessie is fantasizing about the life she wishes she had. Her journal habit, her hair color (and lack of blonde hair), what she sees as her ideal life. We find out she’s responsible with her job, is capable of taking care of herself, and how she feels about her boss. Even her boss’s character is set up here. All of this is revealed in the next part of the script, but in the novel this information comes out in the middle of Jessie’s crisis to reveal more about her character and life. The inner battle between her romantic optimism and her realistic cynicism shines through as well. The novel also takes a bit more time to describe the setting and the weather.

The interior monologue has a voice. It closely matches the style of Jessie’s voice from the script’s dialogue but is infused with additional humor and an openness you can’t have in a script without access to Jessie’s private thoughts.

Look at the segment of the script again where Jessie hopes the guy in the sports car will stop to help her. Then read over the novel version for that sequence. Notice the difference. Many of Jessie’s thoughts are shared during the part where she hopes the guy in the convertible will stop. We get to peek into what she’s thinking and feeling while anxiously waiting to see if he’ll help her. In reality, that scene on film would take just a few seconds, even if the director chooses to follow the slo-mo, brunette hair-blowing-in-the-wind dramatics. The novel allows us to pause and hear what flies through her mind in that moment, getting caught up in all her hopes and dreams of rescue. The script version is no less devastating to the character as she’s pelted with muddy water, yet the thoughts we get to read with Jessie in the novel are so enjoyable, so character revealing. We may even feel more for her in this moment because we got to stop and take the time to do so. Interior monologue replaces the visual of the muddy water. In book form, saying she was splattered with water does nothing because we can’t see her reaction to it, as an actress would depict it. So instead we have to go inside her head. The hope in film is that a cute and talented actress will garner some great empathy as well.

After the guy in the convertible does not stop and she decides to change her own tire, there is a sequence of her interior thought life about being single. It economically gives us an idea of what this character and story are about, what causes her pain, and she plainly states that she hates being alone. None of this exists in the screenplay, even though viewers are likely to get the same message watching an actress. Those internal thoughts voice the intention of the story of the screenplay, yet the script cannot be nearly that direct. However, notice how both the manuscript and the screenplay are moved forward with action.

The novel references the silhouette matching the man who was in her room after her nightmare. This matches the script without going into what her nightmare was about yet. It sets up that she saw this same, mysterious figure before.

This sample shows you the same sequence. It’s the same dramatic purpose. However, we traveled different writing roads to get there.

This scene is also an example of a change to the scene order (structure), as well as the challenge novelists face dealing with voice-over. This is especially true in this case where the voice-over does not match the visuals; the character is lying to herself about her reality.

We deal with all of those special challenges in translating a script into a novel in our book. This has been one sample, but we have many different samples in our new book, Novelizations: How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels.

To purchase a copy, click either on the paperback link or the kindle link below:


Novelizations – How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels: A Writing Guide for Screenwriters and Authors (Paperback)

Novelizations – How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels: A Writing Guide for Screenwriters and Authors (Kindle Version)

 

* * *

Ever thought about adapting a script into a novel?

100_3901Cheryl & Rene, 2009

Since 2007, I’ve been involved in a new trend that takes scripts and turns them into books. Yes, this is the opposite of normal. Many people have asked me how to do it. There are definitely specific writing techniques to this art form that you won’t find in a book on adaptation. In fact, those “How To” books are teaching the opposite rules than it takes to go from script to book.

Rene Gutteridge and I have taught classes in this writing technique for novelizations and decided to share what we’ve learned through this book.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00015]

Novelizations: How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels

(A Writing Guide for Screenwriters and Authors)

We took 10+ examples from our script to book novelizations, some published, some works-in-progress, to help illustrate how you turn a screenplay into a novel. As a screenwriter, it’s been amazing to see my characters come to life in book form. Having a screenplay come out as a book makes it a lot easier to gain attention for your scripts.

This book is for screenwriters who want to do their own adaptations as well as novelists who want to understand this unique writing format and how both types of writers can get involved in them.

Rene and I first met after Rene was hired to novelize my screenplay from the film, The Ultimate Gift.

TUG poster

Our first novelization that we collaborated on was Never the Bride, based on my screenplay:

Never the Bride

And then our follow up was Greetings from the Flipside, also based on one of my scripts:

Greeting Cover

To order on Amazon CLICK on the Title for Paperback or Kindle:


Novelizations – How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels: A Writing Guide for Screenwriters and Authors (Paperback)

Novelizations – How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels: A Writing Guide for Screenwriters and Authors (Kindle Version)

Here is a description of what you’ll learn from the book:

NOVELIZATIONS: HOW TO ADAPT SCRIPTS INTO NOVELS

A WRITING GUIDE FOR SCREENWRITERS AND AUTHORS

Are you an author who wants to explore the business of adapting screenplays into novels?

Are you a screenwriter who’d like to see your unproduced script written as a novel, to help get your film made?

Are you a screenwriter who wants to adapt your own script into a novel?

This book is for you.

Novelizations used to pump business for existing movies and TV shows, but now a fast-growing trend has publishers contracting authors to pen novel adaptations based on scripts that haven’t been produced—yet. At least until the novel raises awareness about the script and gives it a life of its own. It’s a win-win for all creative writers.

If you are a novelist, you can benefit from learning the craft of adapting scripts into books. You may just end up penning a novelization that will one day be a film. There is an art to this form of adaptation that may differ from starting a novel from scratch.

If you’re a screenwriter who is sitting on a gem of a script, what are you waiting for? We’ll give you tips on how to team up with a novelist. Or you, too, can learn to adapt your screenplay as a novel. Just like screenwriting, there’s a craft to be honed. With the whole story and characters of that script already in place, you’re half way there.

Want to learn the trade secrets of this burgeoning business? Look no further. Using specific, side-by-side examples that compare script pages to novel pages, writing team Cheryl McKay (the screenwriter) and Rene Gutteridge (the novelist) share their experiences, tips, and know-how on adapting scripts into novels. Covering everything from creative technique to collaborative contracts, Novelizations: How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels is an invaluable tool for both screenwriters and novelists to successfully master this highly specialized art form.

RENE GUTTERIDGE is the one of the go-to authors for novelizations. She has written Old Fashioned, Heart of the Country, and Just 18 Summers for Tyndale. CHERYL MCKAY, screenwriter of The Ultimate Gift (which Gutteridge also novelized), has worked with Gutteridge on the novelizations for her scripts, Never the Bride for Random House and Greetings from the Flipside for B&H Publishing. They won a Carol Award (ACFW) for Best Women’s Fiction for Never the Bride.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Soul Inspirationz

***

For the month of January, the website called Soul Inspirationz, which celebrates Christian authors and fiction, has decided to feature Rene Gutteridge and me as featured authors.

If you’d like to read more about our writing careers and lives, visit the following links:

Featured Author–Rene Gutteridge

Featured Author–Screenwriter/Novelist Cheryl McKay