Monday, April 19, 2010

A Tangible Vision

I've decided to turn this into hero week here at my blog. You met Mark Terry yesterday and today I present to you another fine individual that I strive to emulate -- Stephen Parrish. Stephen's debut novel The Tavernier Stones has an official publication date of May 1st, but it's already in stock online and at bookstores everywhere.

When the well-preserved body of 17th century mapmaker Johannes Cellarius floats to the surface of a bog in northern Germany, and a 57 carat ruby rolls out of his fist, treasure hunters from around the globe race to find the Lost Tavernier Stones of popular European folklore.

And let me say, what a race it is. To learn more about the novel visit

But wait that's not all. Stephen has also created a virtual treasure hunt. He is giving away a one carat diamond to the first person who can find the image of one he has hidden somewhere on the web; the contest is described at

Now a guest post from Stephen.

A Tangible Vision

There isn't an aspiring writer within the sound of my voice who hasn't envisioned his or her book at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Or making an appearance on Larry King Live. Or throngs of fans waiting in line to buy an autographed copy. For my part, I've always entertained a fantasy about being an extra in a major Hollywood production of my novel; my daughter pointing at the screen, saying, "Look, there's dad!"

I think all such visions are normal and healthy, if unrealistic. There is one vision, however, that is not only realistic, it has magical powers: holding your published book in your hands.

That was the vision I kept before me as I wrote my novel. It was the vision I burnished in my mind as I faced a hailstorm of rejections, first from agents, then from publishers. It was the vision that helped me break through. Because I knew all along that it alone, among all my other visions and fantasies, was truly achievable.

All writers are naturally book lovers. They enjoy the feel of books in their hands, the smell of open pages. The content of the book is, of course, the point of it all, nevertheless a book can't help being a tangible entity independent of the words that comprise it, however important or enlightening those words may be. A book is a tactile object, a physical incarnation of the author's imagination. An artifact.

Trust me, you'll pick yours up, over and over, just to hold it in your hands.

Envisioning doing so will change the way you approach your goal. On a conscious level, you'll turn the computer on when you don't feel like it, you'll eek out one more paragraph before shutting down. But the real magic happens in the subconscious mind.

A vision is nothing more than an image of something that doesn't yet exist. For reasons that aren't clear, the subconscious mind continues working on problems even after the conscious mind has given up on them. Mathematicians are well acquainted with the phenomenon: they often wake up in the morning with a solution that eluded them the night before.

Keep a realistic vision before you, one that you consciously know to be attainable, and your behavior will adjust in ways too subtle to notice. Your focus will sharpen automatically. Maybe eventually you'll climb atop a bestseller list, autograph a thousand copies of your book in one afternoon, and buy Johnny Depp a beer "after work." Until then, those fantasies aren't likely to help much; the subconscious mind is hard to fool.

Picture your book in your hands when you sit down to write. Picture it in your hands when you go to bed at night. Picture it in your hands during every idle moment of every day.

If you're anything like me, your hands will shake as you open the Fedex package from your publisher. The artifact inside will be solid and dense. It will smell that wonderful smell of having just come off the press. You'll sit quietly for a few minutes, staring at your name on the cover, running your fingers along the edges and surfaces. Holding it.


Cloudia said...

Ah! Seeing one's actual physical books for the first time is transcendent!

Great post, Travis

Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Barrie said...

Congratulations Stephen!!!

Alissa said...

Larry King doesn't figure in my fantasies, because I find him a bit creepy, but all the rest is entirely true. I can't wait for the magical day when I actually get to see my book not as a bunch of pages printed off my computer and marked up with red ink, but as a real live book, and can't wait to read The Tavernier Stones either!

Charles Gramlich said...

I remember pretty well when I first held a copy of Cold in the Light in my hand. Unfortunately, my wife was in the hospital at the time and I'd been getting two hours of sleep a night for about a week. My emotions were so deadened that I didn't really get to feel that joy. I've felt it since though and I recommend it.

Mark Terry said...

What, you mean I'm Parrish's opening act? Sheesh.

Nah, we'll all be able to say "we knew him before he got rich and famous and no longer deigns to talk to us little people."

Say "yo" to Johnny for me.

Stephen Parrish said...

Thanks, everybody, for the kind wishes!

Mark: we could start up an act, "Parrish and Terry" (alphabetical, naturally).

Alan Orloff said...

Congrats, Stephen!

You do know that you're going to have to let go of that book sometime so you can start writing the next one!

Stephen Parrish said...

Alan: Can't I have it both ways?

Avery DeBow said...

For me the grand vision of fame and fortune has long since tunneled into the simple act of holding my own published work in my hand. Of course, if this rejection nonsense goes on much longer, I'll be forced to make my own dust jacket, cover someone else's book, seal it up in a box, wait until I forget what's inside, and then mail it back to myself so I can finally experience this nebulous emotion of which you so happily speak.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea, a guest speaker as it were. Thank you to Travis for hosting it and thank you for choosing Stephen as your guest. My copy of The Tavernier Stones is on order and I can't wait to read it.

I had that vision, Stephen but did not have your heart. I am so very happy for you.

Tena Russ said...

It's a thing of beauty, Steve. We knew you *when.*

Lana Gramlich said...

Very nice guest post. Of course, I get to see & feel my paintings & photos all the time, so I think I'll visualize a fat wallet & people drooling over my work. ;)

Lauren said...

Wow, way to go Stephen, and also, it's been forever so I've not seen the new top of your blog. Looks nice! :)

Monnik said...

Congrats Stephen! Very exciting.

Kim Rossi Stagliano said...

Well guess what arrived in my mailbox today via Amazon? The Tavernier Stones! Move over Percy Jackson, mama needs a new diamond! Congrats, Stephen!

Eric said...

Love the imagery. Congratulations, and here's hoping I'll be in similar circumstances soon.

laughingwolf said...

good advice, thx steve!

and thx to you as well, travis :)

laughingwolf said...

forgot: plugging your book and hunt on my page, steve :D

word verif: consent

Bernita said...

Wonderful plot! Wonderful guest!
Thank you, Travis.
My equivalent moment was watching the face of my husband reading and re-reading my first published story.
He was very ill and he was so proud.

Kathryn Magendie said...

That is the truth - the first time I held my novel, I wanted to cry-the second time, I danced around the room with it...I love looking on the bookshelf and seeing it there....*smiling*

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Really great post!
I've had my eye on this book--the two of you have convinced me. :)