Good morning and welcome to another addition of The Round Table Chat. Today I’m delighted to have with me an old friend, Patricia Zick, the author of Trails in the Sand.
Hello Patricia, it’s been a while since we’ve had a chance to chat. Welcome to my Round Table. Can I offer you some coffee, tea, cappuccino? How about some cannoli or pumpkin bread before we get started?
Patricia – How can I pass up cannoli and coffee? I’m delighted to be here, Annamaria.
Annamaria – Now that we’re settled, I know you’ve been working on a book, can you tell us a little about it?
Patricia – I’ve been working on several projects. I just published the Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier, which is the diary written by my great grandfather. I edited it, typed it, and annotated it. It’s been a real labor of love. As for my fiction, I’m working on another Florida Environmental Novel, Native Lands. It’s about a tribe of native Florida Indians who supposedly vanished after the Spanish landed in Florida. But what if they didn’t vanish, but only went into hiding in the swamps of Florida? As a world conglomerate proceeds with plans to make the whole of Florida into one large living environment with fake nature and drugged wildlife, will this tribe rise again and conquer the invasion? Stay tuned for lots of intrigue and steamy love scenes.
Annamaria – History, you’ve got my attention. Tell us a little bit about your great grandfather. Who did he serve under? What battles did he fight in?
Patricia – My great grandfather joined the Union Army two weeks after the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter. He was in Michigan’s 2nd Infantry. They traveled by train to Washington in the early months of the war and President Abe Lincoln himself came out to inspect the newly arrived troops. At that time, they were signing up soldiers for three-month stints. After the poor showing by the Union armies in the early days of the war, soldiers had to commit to a longer period of time, which my grandfather did. He fought in both Battles of Bull Run before they marched west. He was shot through the lung in late 1863 during the Battle of Knoxville. He managed to survive which is a good thing! He wrote the journal for his children, one of whom was my paternal grandfather.
Annamaria – It must have been a wonderful experience to get to know something about your great grandfather through his own writings. Did it make you feel closer to him? Did it make you view your family differently because of the history you’ve discovered?
Patricia – It certainly made me feel as if I was preserving a precious account of history. I felt a connection with him, and I am sure he’s looking down on me with pride and perhaps a slight embarrassment because he appears to be a modest man. It also inspires me in my own writing. His writings are descriptive, a bit sardonic, and full of literary references and observations. I’m proud I came from such a heritage, and it encourages me to strive for the very best in my own writing.
Annamaria – Did your great grandfather share any funny war anecdotes?
Patricia – Yes, he did. The soldiers were often starving when weather prevented supplies from coming through to the front lines. They often went and pillaged area fields and begged food at homes along the way. Sometimes they encountered Confederate soldiers and civilians. The results were often amusing and enlightening. At one home, my great grandfather let the women go on and on about the awful Yankees. Then he asked them if they knew any scoundrels in the Confederate Army. The ladies were forced to admit, they knew a few. By pointing this out, my ancestor was able to show that the same was true of the Yankees and made them realize that lumping people into just one category was a mistake. I loved reading about that encounter. I felt such pride and wished I could have known him. My father, his grandson named after him, lived with some of those same characteristics.
Annamaria – It’s a shame you couldn’t meet him. How long did it take you to edit and make this book ready for publication?
Patricia – Since he died in 1906, I was a bit late coming to the table! I began typing it up on March 23, 2013 and published it October 23, 2013. The number 23 is very special to me. I was born on December 23, and when I started typing the journal, I found an obituary for my grandfather dated March 23, 1906. I felt it was confirmation for the project. I worked an hour or so on it most days. After I typed it, I went back through the hard copy and edited and added tidbits I’d researched about the war. It took about seven months to pull it all together.
Annamaria – Was the Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier released by a small press company or did you self publish the book?
Patricia – I’m an Indie Author these days, so the book is self-published. I love the freedom that comes with doing it myself.
Annamaria – It does come with a great deal of freedom, but much more work. The marketing alone can be so overwhelming; at least it is for me. What is your most successful marketing strategy?
Patricia – I’m chuckling right now because I really don’t know. Some of my books are enrolled in the KDP Select program so I can offer books for free. I do quite well promoting the free days, and there is always an uptick in sales after they end. Also, reviews trickle in from readers afterwards. I know that writing two blogs—Living Lightly and Writing Whims—brings me exposure and in turn, that brings some traffic to my books. Most of all, the best marketing strategy is to keep writing. I now have four novels and two nonfiction books published on Amazon and that means that each month, I’m selling more because there’s more to offer.
Annamaria – Yes, I’ve heard many authors say that the best we can do is write, write, write. I guess that brings a bit more recognition, but I’m still wondering what an indie author must do to really be recognized. Maybe it’s just a dream. What do you think?
Patricia – Dreams are fine as long as you’re doing the work to back them up. There are very few overnight successes, and if there are, it’s usually for something other than the writer’s talent. I’m thinking Shades of Gray here. I do believe that perseverance wins out in the end; it’s just that many writers give up before it happens. It’s difficult to keep working when very little monetary return occurs because that’s what our culture sees as the sign of success. I had to come to terms with that a few years back. I need to write; it’s in my blood. I’m satisfied and passionate about my work. Each month, I see improvement. More people follow my blog; I sell a few more books; I gain exposure on Facebook; I get more followers on Twitter. It’s happening, but not at the pace I once craved. I keep working on what makes me happy; I have a dream that all will fall into place. Dreams without the work to make them come true are rarely lasting.
Annamaria – You are so correct, dreams can only come true through hard work and perseverance. I can see you are working hard to make your dream come true. We’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about the Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier. Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, Native Lands?
Patricia – I started Native Lands back in 2007 but life interrupted it when I took a job with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It’s one of life’s serendipitous moments, the job helped me do research for both Trails in the Sand (published earlier this year) and Native Lands which I pulled out of storage a couple of months ago. I had 200 pages of a work in progress. Now I’m culling through and refining the plot. Soon I’ll begin the second draft. The story is set in the Florida Everglades and St. Augustine. Later this month, I’m headed to the Everglades for a self-imposed writer’s retreat and hope to get it in shape for my beta readers. I’m excited about the book. The plot involves the destruction of the Everglades by an international conglomerate intent upon making Florida its prototype of creating fake natural living communities. A group of ordinary citizens band together to stop them.
Annamaria – Ordinary citizens can accomplish the impossible if they put their minds to it and really stick together no matter what. I see you keep quite busy, but before I let you go back to your writing, what’s the most important ingredient you found to be true in your writing career?
Patricia – Flexibility is key to surviving today in the world of writing and publishing. Each day the formula for success changes, and as a writer, I must be able to embrace the changes and roll with them. And above all else, I always remember the simplest of adages to push me forward: Writers writer—it’s that simple and that complicated.
I’ve enjoyed our chat, Annamaria. Thank you for inviting me, and if you continue offering cannoli and great coffee, I’ll be back again.
Annamaria – It will be my pleasure to have you back, thank you so much for gracing my Round Table Chat. See you soon.
Harmon Camburn signed up for duty as a Union soldier two weeks after the first shots were fired in the Civil War. He served for the next three years, fighting in both Battles of Bull Run and other skirmishes of the War Between the States. His tour of duty ended with a shot through his lung and capture by Confederate soldiers. Fortunately, he survived his wounds and wrote about his time in the Union army. His great granddaughter, Patricia Camburn (P.C.) Zick, presents this journal along with additional annotations about the war in general. The journal weaves a tragic and compelling tapestry of war from the view at its center. Mr. Camburn’s sardonic and realistic view of war is worth remembering.
From the day of his enlistment in the Army in April 1861 in Adrian, Michigan, to his final days in the service of the army near Knoxville, Tennessee, the journal provides insight into the minutiae of a soldier’s life, from what they ate to the somewhat unorthodox method of obtaining food. It shows the horror of the battlefield to the joys of simply having the sun shine after days of rain.
The descriptions of the landscape are beautifully crafted, just as the scattered bodies on the battlefield are ghastly reminders of the cost of war.
P.C. Zick’s career as a writer began in 1998 with the publication of her first column in a local paper. By day, she was a high school English teacher, but at night and on vacations, she began writing novels and working as a freelance journalist. By 2001, she left teaching and began pursuing a full-time gig as a writer. She describes herself as a “storyteller” no matter the genre.
She writes three blogs. She’s working on her sixth novel, Native Lands. Live from the Road was her first venture into self-publishing in 2012. Trails in the Sand followed in January 2013. She’s also re-issued two novels previously traditionally published.
She also writes nonfiction. From Seed to Table is a collection of blog posts about gardening and preserving produce. She’s also published her great grandfather’s Civil War journal, Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier.
Her blog and her novels contain the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.
She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband Robert.
Amazon Author Central with links to all books by P.C. Zick:
Patricia Zick’s books