Author's Journal

    I have decided to write a journal rather than a blog. My intention is to write occasional entries on this page to share my writing odyssey with those who care to visit from time to time. The most recent entry will always be at the top of the page. I'll be writing freely and quickly with friendly contractions, editing only with spell checker, so you will be reading my unpolished style.

    When something happens worth reporting, this will be the place I’ll share it. Although my journal will not be interactive, when I receive a particularly noteworthy email correspondence from a reader that others may find interesting, I’ll share it with you here.

    I want to thank you, the reader, for your interest in my storytelling. I hope this journal works well for you and me.


                                    OCCASIONAL ENTRIES

12/30/20: I will not be writing additional journal entries for several months because my website will be “frozen” in two days. Adobe has ended “Flash” support effective January 1, 2021, which means my present website can be viewed by visitors, but I will not be able to make any further modifications to it, such as adding journal entries. My author@dmanningrichards.com email address will continue without interruption.

        This catches me at an unfortunate time, just when I am beginning to send out query letters to literary agents to find a publisher for PARIS IN RUINS. I do not want to stop my search for a literary agent to work on rebuilding my website.

         The replacement website offered by GoDaddy, which hosts my website, is Website + Marketing that looks to be just what I need to better interact with readers through social media and marketing. The marketing component includes a blog and links to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and other websites, to reach more readers of historical women’s fiction.

11/20/20: I've focused my research on literary agents in NYC where Judy and I would like to live in the future, most likely in the Upper West Side. I've identified 30 agents who represent women's fiction writers, similar to what I've written. So I'm about to start sending out query letters, so wish me good luck.

7/18/20: I’ve finished PARIS IN RUINS and have just begun self-editing and improving its two maps. I have also begun the process of researching literary agents specializing in historical women's fiction, often referred to as "upmarket book club fiction," involving suspense, intrigue, and WWII action-adventure, in addition to romance. Although written with women in mind, I am hopeful that the WWII suspense, intrigue, and action-adventure will appeal to men as well as women.
       Historical fiction will always be my genre, but I expect that I will focus on "historical women's fiction" from now on if this novel is as well received as I expect it will be, given the favorable reviews by my 25 draft reviewers (including four French reviewers) and its quick climb through the four levels of YouWriteOn.com to the top august level (hooray!). In addition to PARIS IN RUINS, I will be looking for a literary agent who finds my two Sydney novels worthy of republishing. As "evergreen" novels they continue to sell well not only to Australians but to people planning to visit Sydney and Australia and those who have enjoyed their Sydney visit and want to learn more. Since I own all rights to these two novels, it could be profitable for all involved.

2/16/20: Well, SWELL NEW YORKER MR. SWANK may be my fifth novel, rather than the fourth, because I’ve come up with a great storyline for the sequel to PARIS IN RUINS. We are now in Aspen skiing for 23 days, staying at The Fasching House, as we often do. I’ve had time to consider a Nice novel during this five-month vacation we are on, which will end in two weeks when we fly to Nice, France, to live for 2 1/2 years or thereabouts.
The title is CAPRICIOUS INTERLUDE ON THE RIVIERA. The capricious aspect, of course, is Marguerite Charbonneau, my protagonist again. The story begins in NYC, following Marguerite's world tour with Count Erich von Hochstätten (he uses his title now). They visit the Baroness (now Countess) Yvette de Montséverin, who has recently married Count Giovanni da Verrazzano VI, the pivotal character in the novel. From NYC they all go to Nice to live where Giovanni is maneuvering to open the second gambling casino in Nice with Erich as his partner. They run into problems with the Mafia and off we go.
We are in the Upper West Side of New York City staying at the Hotel Beacon. I’m doing a little work on my fourth novel SWELL NEW YORKER MR. SWANK: Livin’ it up in the Roaring ’20s. We are also visiting buildings we would like to live in for a year or longer while I write the novel.
We spent five weeks driving around Spain and Portugal before flying to NYC. We were very fortunate to have great weather, no car problems, and a very enjoyable trip overall. 

9/27/19: We sadly leave Paris in two days, but look forward to living in Nice. 
Two months ago, I placed the first chapter of PARIS IN RUINS on www.YouWriteOn website for authors’ reviews. I’m pleased that their fifteen reviews have given it an overall rating of four stars out of five, which placed it in the prestigious Top Ten Chart Book.
       Several of my fourteen reviewers (so far, waiting for other reviewers' comments) of my draft Paris novel have encouraged me to write a sequel, because they feel left hanging by the end of the novel. It seems that the majority had hoped that Marguerite would choose Jean-Baptiste over Erich, and would like to see how the world tour goes and whether Jean-Baptiste makes another try for Marguerite when she returns to Paris. It is something I’m considering. I’m also giving some thought to a Nice novel, which I really don’t need to do, because I already have three other novels well along.

7/21/19: I have now received very encouraging comments from twelve reviewers of the entire novel. I’m still working on several minor storyline revisions, but expect to have the novel in final form in a couple of weeks. I think I have a very marketable novel in PARIS IN RUINS.
         We leave Paris at the end of September to travel for five months to Spain, Portugal, New York City, and then to visit family and friends in Washington DC, Georgia, and Florida. We will finish the visit to the USA with three weeks of skiing in Aspen, before returning to live in Nice, France, on March 1, 2020, for at least two years. 

3/26/19: Today I sent out the second half of the novel, completed as a third draft, to sixteen reviewers who have returned the first ten chapters to me with their review comments. I’m very pleased with the novel. It does everything I set out to write. I am very comfortable writing historical women's fiction and the suspense that this spy novel requires.

1/27/19: I wrote the last line of PARIS IN RUINS today, so I’ve completed the first draft of chapters eleven through twenty to add to chapters one through ten already sent out to twenty-one reviewers for their comments. I will now begin to self-edit these final ten chapters with the aim of sending this second half to my reviewers around a month from now. I have received twelve reviews back so far. The response is very encouraging.

10/11/18: Today, I have sent out the first ten chapters of the novel to twenty-one reviewers who had responded to my synopsis with interest in reviewing the first ten chapters, which are in third-draft condition.  Several of these readers are part of our Aries Books writing group and three are French friends. I have completed the first draft of four additional chapters.

3/2I/18:  I want to let you know how I’m coming along with the writing of PARIS IN RUINS. My protagonist Marguerite and her two admirers have been well considered. I know who they are and how they interact. The entire storyline, as an outline of episodes, has been written and divided into chapters. The dramatic issues that help set the pace have been determined. I’ve completed most of my research from 1939 to 1946 involving reading approximately thirty history books in full and consulting others for specific details. The plot, theme, and principal settings have been determined. I’ve written the first draft of the initial seven chapters of an expected twenty chapters.
I’m most excited to share that I am writing the story from Marguerite’s “subjective” point of view (POV). This is not exceptional for a romantic story, but it is exceptional how I’m doing it. I had considered writing the story in Marguerite’s first-person, present-tense narration, as is often done in women's fiction but found it too restrictive. Instead, I am writing it in the third person, past tense, but with a lot of Marguerite’s first-person, present-tense inner monologue thoughts, so the reader gets to experience the immediacy of her wit, satire, and intimate point of view (POV). As always, I use a lot of dialogue for the same reasons. I found that I could not abandon the services of the third-person, past-tense omniscient narrator to step in when I needed its godlike narrative. When I decided to try to do this, I wasn’t sure it would work, but now having written seven chapter, I’m very pleased with the results. Most importantly, I enjoy writing the story from the heroine’s “subjective POV.”

2/7/17: I am surprised that eight months have passed since my last journal entry, but I haven't been idle. In fact, I have been working on four novels at once:
-Paris in Ruins: A Novel of Passion and the French Resistance
-Swell New Yorker Mr. Swank: Livin' it up in the Roaring '20s
-Hollywood Hubbub: Talkie Terror, Mayhem, and Scandal
        -The Kentucky Faith Healer
I enjoy living with my characters as their personalities become clearer and their stories develop over time through my reading, experiences, and imagination. I write novels about cities; my two Sydney novels were written while living in Sydney, same with my Paris novel. I want to complete the New York novel while living in New York City for a year. Then I will turn out the Hollywood novel while living in Santa Monica, California, about the mayhem created by silent movies becoming talkies. The Kentucky Faith Healer is the exception that will be completed sometime over the next five years, without living in Kentucky. 
The Paris novel storyline preparation is going well and has turned out to be more romantic than I originally intended, because my French woman protagonist Marguerite (Margot) has turned out to be more spirited than I originally anticipated. The story still has plenty of spying, suspense, action, and WWII occupation history. Below is a first draft of the cover and the short synopsis.

Paris in Ruins: A Novel of Passion and the French Resistance (2018) by
D. Manning Richards

        Intent on enjoying life in spite of the German occupation of Paris, a high-spirited French woman lives a cultural elite life with an aristocratic German colonel. When her charismatic first love persuades her to spy for the Resistance, she risks her life while choosing between the two men she loves. The story is based on actual historical events and is inspired by the courageous men and women who fought the battle to save Paris from ruin in August 1944 following Hitler’s order to destroy the city.

Genre: Historical romantic suspense - Drama | Romance | Action-Adventure | History | War

6/11/16: I came across a big surprise yesterday—DESTINY IN SYDNEY is on Wikipedia! According to its “View History,” the webpage was created over two days, March 18-19, 2016. No one told me about it or asked me to review a draft. I don’t know how I missed this for nearly three months! Nevertheless, it is well written, accurate, and I’m very pleased. Reviewers are interacting with it and are making revisions. There’s no indication on the Wikipedia page of who created it.  If the creator reads this, I would appreciate if he or she would contact me, so that I can thank them personally. I’ve noticed a slight uptick in sales over the recent months and this could be part of the reason. Regarding total sales of the paper book and ebook since publication on July 1, 2012, as nearly as I can tell from receipts, I’ve sold over 5,000 copies. That may not sound like many sales over four years, but for a debut self-published author it’s pretty good, well above average, I believe.  And DESTINY IN SYDNEY continues to sell well as an “evergreen” novel, because people who visit Sydney will buy it before or after their visit to learn more about the lovely city. Therefore, the novel and its sequel will continue to have staying power. James Michener proved this to be true with Hawaii and other multigenerational “place” novels.

8/18/15: I’ve been feeling a little down because there have been so few

reviews of my novel GIFT OF SYDNEY. It’s because I’ve done little or no marketing. But I’ve just received an amazing review from an Amazon “Hall of Famer” (only 130 of them) who is also #72 in Amazon’s “Top 100 Reviewers.” He wrote a long, complimentary 5-star review finishing with the following:

“Richards manages to energize this history book with such vigorous humanity that had we not been informed this is an historical novel it would be easier to believe this is simply a splendid story. Well written, exquisitely researched, and delivered in well-scribed prose, this is an important book, but also an exceptionally fascinating read.”

This a huge big deal for me, because these top Amazon reviewers do not review nobodies like me. They review almost exclusively the free books provided by the five major publishers—and he BOUGHT my novel! I know this because it says “Paperback Verified Purchase” next to his reviewer’s name. I just wrote to him asking how he found GIFT. My guess is he has been to Sydney and loves the city or wants to read about it before going there.
      Now to pop the champagne!

4/24/15: A week ago, I received a wonderful review of GIFT OF SYDNEY from the prestigious Midwest Book Review that I would like to share with you:

"A truly gifted storyteller, Manning Richards' GIFT OF SYDNEY continues to display his impressive attention to historical detail and his ability to deftly create truly memorable characters embedded in a consistently gripping narrative. A totally satisfying entertainment from beginning to end, GIFT OF SYDNEY will leave enthusiastic readers looking forward to the third volume in this outstanding series. For those to whom GIFT OF SYDNEY is their first introduction to Manning Richards, also highly recommended is the first title in the series, DESTINY IN SYDNEY." 

The review was provided to Aries Books and printed in Midwest Book Review's April publication of "Small Press Watchlist" of recommended books.

4/15/15: Well . . . I must admit that I’ve been terribly negligent in keeping up my journal, as a few of you have informed me. Since leaving Sydney on October 19, Judy and I have simply been too busy enjoying life with a cruise around Tahiti and French Polynesia, visiting family and friends in California and Florida, sailing bareboat in the British Virgin Islands, and celebrating Christmas and New Year’s with family and friends in New York, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, and Georgia. In January and February, we skied five weeks in Utah and Colorado. During all this time, I still found time to work on my next novel Paris in Ruins: A Novel of Passion and the French Résistance.              Now, finally, we are settled in our apartment in St.-Germain-des-Pres, Paris, France, until November 30, 2016.  I am writing from the private, nonprofit American Library near the Eiffel Tower that has a marvelous history section where I can read French and German history about the "Battle for Paris" in 1944—in English! 
    Unlike Destiny in Sydney, which I promoted well through talks that resulted in fifteen favorable Amazon reviews, I have not promoted Gift of Sydney at all. Consequently, I have received only four reviews. However, these favorable reviews have resulted in the same 4 1/2 stars out of five that Destiny in Sydney has received. I am very pleased that readers have written or told me that they enjoyed both novels equally, sometimes for different reasons. 
    If you are so inclined, I would greatly appreciate your review of Gift of Sydney on www.Amazon.com. It's easy to do, just click the button beneath the other reviews that says "Write a customer review" and follow the five simple steps. You may use a pseudonym if you like. It's fun to check every so often to see how many readers "found your review helpful."

9/2/14: The novel is done for all practical purposes and the October 1 publication date is pretty much assured. The ebook will come out a week or so later in October. I did not leave adequate time to garner many reviewers comments or praise, although, my Aries Books' readers reported that they liked Gift of Sydney as much or more than Destiny in Sydney, a hopeful indication that the novel should be well received. 

7/18/14: I am working on the final editing of the sixth draft of Gift of Sydney. It appears that the novel can be completed before I leave Sydney. The publication date is now October 1, 2014.

 I've let the completion of Gift of Sydney languish too long while I did other writing, promoted Destiny in Sydney, and enjoyed life in this wonderful city. I became serious about completing the novel only several months ago, after we decided to leave Sydney in November of this year. Now I'm concerned that I may not be able to finish the novel and see Aries Books publish it before leaving Sydney. 
7/30/13:  Sorry I haven’t written for five months, but I’ve been busy.  Marketing is something a debut novelist must do to be noticed, and it takes a lot of time: arranging and giving talks, placing my novel on Internet book websites, encouraging more bookstores to carry my novel, making sure all of the Sydney libraries carry at least one copy, answering all emails received from readers, Skyping with book clubs, and unsuccessfully trying to arrange a radio interview and major book review by a Sydney or Melbourne newspaper.  Sales were good for six months through Christmas, then fell, then increased, and went up and down again, stabilizing for the past three months at less than ten paper and ebook sales a week.  Most sales have been in Sydney, followed by Washington D.C., California, and then London, a distant fourth.
        The sequel, Gift of Sydney (the name has been shortened to better fit the cover and to coordinate with Destiny in Sydney) may not make the December 1 publication date because of all the marketing I’ve done, and because I’ve been working on my third novel.  
        In the course of deciding where we would like to live next, I’ve been drawn into researching and writing Paris in Ruins: A novel of passion and the French Résistance.  It is a historical thriller set in Paris following D-Day when Hitler ordered that the city be “left in ruins,” its bridges and many landmarks destroyed, as the German military retreated.  Based on the true events that sparked the “Battle for Paris” from August 19-25, 1944, it is the story of a love triangle involving a young French woman, who has lived with a German major for a year, but is convinced by her high-school lover that she must spy for the Résistance to save herself and her city.  There is passion, betrayal, intrigue, suspense, and the chaos of battle culminating in unexpected consequences for the three protagonists.  
        We will live in Paris next to complete this novel.

2/28/13: Aries Books has obtained a book review of Destiny in Sydney by the prestigious Midwest Book Review publication, which accepts only 30% of the books submitted to it for review. I'm very pleased that they "recommended" my novel and will include it in their Book Review Index that is distributed to public libraries and academic and corporate organizations. This is their review of Destiny in Sydney that will be published in March: 

"As the British rushed to call Australia their empire, many destinies were founded. Destiny in Sydney is a historical epic from D. Manning Richards telling of the foundation of British colonies on the mass of Australia, the story of many individuals as they find love where they least expect it, cope with their troubled heritage, the plagues of racism and the struggles with the people who truly own the continent. Destiny in Sydney is an exciting read for those who enjoy historical fiction, recommended."

1/15/13:  Sydneysiders are asking where the paper book and ebook of Destiny in Sydney may be purchased. The following bookstores carry my paper novel or can order it: Abbey’s Bookshop, Ariel Books, Better Read Than Dead, The Book Haven, Co-op Bookshop, and Shearer’s Bookshop. Many bookstores do not carry it because although Destiny in Sydney is being distributed worldwide by the largest US distributor, Ingram Inc., the smaller US distributor Baker & Taylor is more popular in Sydney. Unfortunately, like all books in Australia, my novel is expensive at $30 or more. The best price available anywhere is through online retailer The Book Depository in London, UK, www.bookdepository.co.uk , that ships free to Australia within ten days for a total cost of AUS$19.64.
        The lowest price for the ebook of Destiny in Sydney may be purchased for US$9.99 (around AUS$10.40) from Amazon. If you don’t have an Amazon Kindle ereader, simply go to
www.Amazon.com, type in “free Kindle reading app” and select your reading device (Apple ipad and iphone, Android, PC and Mac computers, etc.) from the drop-down window and download the Kindle ereader into it. When you buy my ebook Destiny in Sydney, it will be downloaded into your new Kindle ereader in less than a minute. 

11/29/12: Yesterday, I had a Skype video conversation with an Alexandria, Virginia, women’s reading group.  It was arranged by a friend who is a member of the group. This was a first for me. Although there was a group consensus that they enjoyed the novel, the Skype call itself could have gone better. The connection was unclear because they were using a Wi-Fi connection, lighting was poor, conversations were delayed and broken leading to misunderstandings, and only one person could speak at a time to be understood. Nevertheless, there was an enjoyable give and take, and I learned from the experience. I’ve decided to encourage reading groups to contact me to arrange a date and time to have a Skype conversation.

11/5/12: I recently received the first reliable indication that sales are going well.  It takes 90 days before any reports of sales and another 30 days, until October 30, to get a handle on sales. Also, I am pleased that the Amazon reviews have been excellent.  Destiny in Sydney has received seven five-star reviews and, recently, a four-star review.  I couldn’t be more pleased with this confirming response.  But equally satisfying are the occasional emails from readers telling me that they enjoyed the novel for a variety of reasons.

8/6/12: Exciting and wonderful news: Destiny in Sydney has received four 5-star book reviews by readers on Amazon.com in the past week! I am so fortunate that Aries Books and I did not send out emails announcing the July 1 publication of the novel in July as intended. The game plan was to send out the announcements no later than the end of July, but the number of recipients grew to over 350 and organizing them into email groups ran into August. We now have decided to hold off sending out any announcements until August 10, in the hope of receiving additional complimentary reviews that are sure to encourage the 350-email recipients to read the novel.

7/17/12: The Blacktown authors talk went well.  About 30 people attended, which wasn't a poor showing for an unknown writer.  I'm sure that sharing the stage with historian Jack Brook helped.  Richard Jeffkins, owner of The Book Haven in the Centro Seven Hills Shopping Centre, sold six books.  This is the first Australian bookstore to provide bookshelf space for the novel.  

7/3/12: The July 1 Publication Date was met kinda.  Both the novel and ebook are listed on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, UK's Book Depository, and Australia's The Nile, and other websites, but the cover is listed as "No Image Available" on a few of them.  Aries Books is trying to determine the problem. The Book Haven Bookstore has agreed to carry the novel and sell copies at the book signing following my first "author talk" at Blacktown Library on July 16. An Australian historian Jack Brook, who gave me a quote, arranged this first talk for me. He's a great guy, and I appreciate his support and friendship.

6/22/12: Author Support has completed the ebook in two formats and none too soon to meet the Publication Date of July 1.  The process turned out to be much more involved than I had expected.  I had to review the entire novel page-by-page three times to ensure that the Mobi and Epub formats were correct.  Anything not regular text is a formatting problem, such as graphics, episode break symbols, bold letters and numbers, and setoffs of all kinds: poems, letters, songs, etc.  Now I hope that uploading to Amazon and Barnes and Nobles goes well. 

3/31/12: I have received a number of praise quotes from reviewers of the Advance Review Copies of the novel that I'd like to share with you:

                “I am impressed with the depth of research that you have done,
                which never gets in the way of the story."
                                           Dr. David Day, Claiming a Continent:
                                                                     A History of Australia

                “A historical novel that weaves fact and fiction into a fascinating,
                enthralling story."
                                           Jack Brook, From Canton with Courage

                “Your grasp of the history/language/geography/ships, etc. is
                amazing. I’ll venture that most Australians don’t know their
                history in this detail—all framed in a dramatic story."
                                           —Dr. Terrence A. Brooks, "People, Words
                                                                                 and Perceptions"

                “I found it to be an excellent read. It is certainly an epic novel
                . . . that kept my interest to the very end . . . great stuff, mate!”
                                            —Wayne J. Hughes, Librarian of the
                                                                          First Fleet Fellowship

                “Quite a story—a mountain of research! . . . Looking forward
                 to the sequel.”
                                           —Nigel Parbury, Survival: A History of
                                                 Aboriginal Life in New South Wales

3/15/12: The April 1 Publication Date of my novel has been delayed for three months to make revisions derived from reviews of the Advance Review Copies and to prepare an ebook, now that ebooks are a significant percentage of total book sales.

3/12/12: After apartment hunting for two months and partially furnishing the apartment we found in Kirribilli to create two offices, we are pretty well settled. We have an iconic view of Sydney's central business district bracketed by the Sydney Opera House to the left and the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the right. I hope the exciting view, with the comings and goings of ocean liners, tall ships, ferries, beautiful yachts, etc., will not interfere too much with my writing (poor me).
11/30/11: As my 8/19/11 first journal entry below indicates, I had intended to avoid joining Facebook for fear it would take too much time to maintain. My niece Ashley and nephew Craig convinced me over Thanksgiving that I don't have a choice if I want to promote my novel to the world. More importantly, Ashley helped me set up my Facebook account. I haven't had time to complete it, so hold off liking it (thumbs up) or disliking it (thumbs down) until I complete it. 

10/28/11: Last week, Judy (my wife) received our extended-stay visas for Australia. We made our plane flight reservation yesterday to depart Washington, D.C., on December 28, celebrate the new year on the beach in Honolulu and arrive in Sydney on January 2, 2012. We hope to rent in the Iora development in North Sydney, with a view into Neutral Bay, where we lived from 2000 to 2003.

In an effort to participate in an efficient, computerized, and paperless 21st century, I paid to have all of our old family photographs digitized onto CD disks. When I was reviewing them, I came across the photograph below of my two sisters, Nancy and Judy, and me taken in the library of Beaver, Pennsylvania, in November 1949. We lived across the street from the library.
     Note that we are oddly wearing our coats, hats, and scarves inside the library. The reason was that the library was cold inside because its heating system was down and being repaired. Evidently the librarians decided, since it wasn’t freezing yet in November, that they would keep the library open. A news photographer (“Photo by Joe Lafferty, News Tribune” is stamped on the back of the photograph) showed up at the library to take pictures of its stalwart patrons. It caused quite a stir in our household and at my elementary school when the three of us were featured in an article in the newspaper.

8/19/11: I’ve been asked if and when I will join Facebook. I’ve been told by members of my writing group that if I want to attract and hold readers, I better share my personal life and promote my writing on a daily basis. After researching Facebook and talking to several writers who maintain active Facebook sites, I’ve decided that it is too public for me and involves too much trivia and too much work to keep current. I want to spend my time writing novels, which I have precious little time to do as it is.
Writing a blog on my website seemed, for a while, to be a good alternative to Facebook, until I fully realized what blogs have become today. Most are interactive, where the blogger writes an opinion or commentary and visitors feel free to comment and expect a timely answer. Other blogs are totally commercialized moneymakers with videos and business links. Neither appeals to me. So I’ve decided instead to make periodic entries into this writer’s journal.

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