In the past, I’ve hosted young adult, fantasy, and mystery authors. So, I thought I would go in another direction: Middle Grade. Add to that the stunning factor that this author is local, and I vote we have a winning mix. I am pleased to introduce Dorothy Stacy! She is the author of the Erie Canal Cousins.
Kissed by Literature: Would you mind telling us about your book series?
Dorothy Stacy: Erie Canal Cousins is the story of a 13-year old girl, Rose Stewart, traveling down the Erie Canal on a line boat in 1840 with a bunch of boisterous cousins she has never met before. She is traveling to Utica, NY to help out her aunt who has just has her 4th child in 6 years. It is a time when the Erie Canal is alive with lights, colorful canal boats, booming businesses, and interesting sights. It is where locks, low bridges, mules, and towlines are a part of everyday life. (Integrates a lot of canal history into the story)
Three Weeks in Utica- Book 2 talks about her adventures in Utica, which was a very prosperous town at that time. (contains a lot of Utica history)
Albany Homecoming-Book 3 Rose returns to her home in Albany via the Canal (Albany history and one-room school house history)
Canal Town Christmas-Book 4 tells how Thanksgiving and Christmas were celebrated and became holidays in the US. (holiday history)
Stars Over Buffalo-Book 5 is about the other end of the canal from Utica to Buffalo. The group travels through Rome, Syracuse, Montezuma Swamp, Rochester, Lockport, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo.
All of the books are full of family life, humor, adventure, and growing friendships for ages 9 through Adult. Yes, even adults like the books.
KBL: Some readers who aren’t from this area (Upstate New York) might not be familiar with the Erie Canal. Would you mind giving us a quick history lesson?
DS: The Erie Canal is a 363 mile man-made waterway across New York State between Buffalo and Albany to provide for easier transportation across the state. It was 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep when first built and later was expanded. It consisted of many locks to get from one level to another and bridges for farmers to get from one side of their property if the canal went through it. The canal took 8 years to build and cost over 7 million dollars. It was all dug by hand with no modern tools to use.
Interest in it began in the early 1800s, digging started in Rome, NY in 1817, and it was finished in 1825. A Wedding of the Waters Ceremony took place upon its completion. Then people and goods were able to get from Albany to Buffalo in 10 days whereas the land route took 2 to 3 weeks.
KBL: How long have you been writing?
DS: I have been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. When I was around 7 or 8, I would write a story called, “The Adventures of Rosemary.” It was written in a 3” x 5” notebook with chapters 3 pages long. This was patterned on my life events. If I went to visit my grandparents across town, Rosemary went to see her grandparents.
When I was in grade school in a class of 54, I sat in the last double seat in a row with a good friend of mine who also liked to write. We received this honor because we were quiet and did not cause commotion. We each had a special notebook that we would write SOAP OPERAS in. After we each wrote a chapter, we would exchange notebooks on the space between us on the seat and read each other’s stories. And…we never got caught. It was such fun.
When I was married I wrote some and sent magazine articles out to different companies. I often received great comments on the work but was not able to get them published. However I did write 2 articles for a religious magazine, which were purchased and paid for but never appeared in print because the magazine ceased to exist before they were published. That was very discouraging but I kept on writing because I loved it. I also took a few courses on writing in the meantime.
KBL: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
DS: 1. If you love to write, NEVER GIVE UP! Keep on trying. It is much easier to get books published these days and Indy Authors are gaining more and more respect and acceptability. If you have a really great book and it keeps getting rejected, you can open your own publishing company and do it yourself with a great printing place. For example I did it and used Morris Publishing Co. They are wonderful to work with.
2. Keep on writing even if it is just keeping a journal or writing short stories. These actually are the first novels I have ever written.
3. You’ll need a day job until the bucks come rolling in from your writing. LOL . A teaching career is good preparation for writing. And you can try out your books on the children.
4. Read lots of books, especially in the genre you want to write in.
KBL: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from writing the Erie Canal Cousins series?
DS: Not to let people push me around. I had my first book with a publisher for a year and a half who kept telling me they were going to publish it and it was just waiting for a final okay. I kept waiting and waiting , sending e-mails back and forth, getting what I thought was positive feedback, only to have the manuscript sent back after that. I would never tolerate anything like that again. However at the time I was scared to death to try to publish it myself. Now I am so happy that I did and would not go the other route again.
Also Book Series are great because if people like the first book, they will usually buy the rest of it.
KBL: Do you have any ideas for future projects?
DS: Yes, I am researching and writing another historical fiction series about the girl in the first series’ children which will be located in the Sauquoit area in 1857. It will be called, The Town of Paris Twins. The first book will take place on Paris Hill which was called Paris, New York in those days. The twins Annie and Charlie, age 11, will go to the Doolittle School (now an operating one-room schoolhouse museum) where their father will be the schoolmaster, etc. But wait…I don’t want to give too much away. I hope I can get it out in 2013 for the 20th anniversary of the reconstruction of the schoolhouse. This will probably be a 3 book series or possibly more.
I have a website where anyone can check out the books: www.dorothystscy.com and a Facebook page for myself under: Dorothy Dmochowski Stacy-Author and one for my books at: Erie Canal Cousins Series-The Books. Give us a look!
Now is your chance to join Dorothy Stacy on her trip along the Erie Canal. She’s offered to send the first Erie Canal Cousins book to one of you lucky blog readers. To be eligible, all you need to do is leave a comment here with your name and email address so she can get in touch with you. She’ll pick the winner in December, so make sure to comment soon!
Thank you, Dorothy, for a wonderful interview!