Ann Revere Reed said writing a novel was an item on her bucket list. She started writing "On a Dime - Senseless in Lewes," in 2004, and after cutting 100 pages, she self-published it in March.
Writing her first novel under the pen name Revere Reed, she was born in Rehoboth Beach and graduated from Cape Henlopen High School in 1973.
“It was awesome,” she said about growing up and living at the beach. “It was a small town for nine months of the year and on Labor Day it ended,” she said. Not unlike many who grown up in small towns, Reed said she couldn’t wait to leave the Cape Region. She said later, she was just as eager to return.
She left for Arizona, graduating from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
“I got flagged early as the girl who is good at math,” she said. She worked 20 years in the banking industry developing software for mainframe computers.
She retired from the banking business in 2003. After working a couple decades in a world filled with numbers, writing computer code in languages understood by machines, Reed said she wondered if she could make a transition to writing words.
“I was beginning to think English was my second language,” she said, smiling about the irony.
Reed followed novice novelist’s rule No. 1: Write about what you know. For her, that was banking and computers used in the industry.
Marshall Hamilton Stewart III, the book’s protagonist, is a bank manager.
Marshall, nicknamed Mars, is living the good life in Lewes. But his life gets complicated after he realizes his adulterous partner has framed him for a financial crime.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t create the most loveable character,” Reed said about Mars, who finds himself trying to clear his name and save his family.
“It’s a moment in his life when things turn on a dime,” she said explaining the novel’s subtitle.
The story unfolds over a period of three weeks. There’s romance, but it’s not a romance novel, and there’s sex, but it’s not tawdry, and there's suspense, the author said.
In creating Mars, Reed also created a writing condition some experienced novelists have difficulty handling - giving realistic voice to an opposite gender character.
“I tried to write text like I like to read. I worked hard on dialog,” she said.
The novel takes readers with Mars to familiar locales: King’s Ice Cream, Striper Bites, Baywood Greens, Lewes Bake Shop, Wilmington Country Club and in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins.
Reed said she didn’t experience the angst that sometimes brings writers to a key-tapping halt.
“I never sat there and had a mental block. I just felt where the story was going,” she said.
And although she has a mathematical mind, she said writing a planned and sequential story outline or developing sample sentences for characters did not appeal to her.
While writing the book, she took workshop classes in novel writing and publishing at Rehoboth Art League Writers’ Group and the Rehoboth Beach Writers' Guild, learning how writing and rewriting improves a story.
For the most part, Reed said book reviews have been good, but sales have slumped. She said family and several friends have read it, but boosting sales isn’t going to be easy.
“It’ll be tough unless it gets the eye of the right person,” she said.
She said writing the book wasn’t easy, and she’s found marketing and promoting is a harder task.
Reed used CreateSpace, a free, internet-based, self-publishing and book distribution tool owned by Amazon.
“Self-publishing has changed so dramatically,” she said.
She said CreateSpace is replacing vanity press, where an author pays, typically a lot, to have a certain number of books printed.
“You can have a proof copy in a day. The first copy cost me seven bucks,” she said about CreateSpace.
Using the publishing tool, Reed said she can edit, update and further polish electronic versions of the book.
Amazon offers distribution of printed books through Amazon.com, and free ebook distribution through the company’s Kindle direct publishing.
Social media is also playing a role in promoting unknown and well-known authors.
“But I’m not sure how far I want to go with it. It’s not a money-making venture, I assure you,” Reed said.
Reed will sign copies of her book at 11 a.m., Friday, Nov. 23, at Browseabout Books, 133 Rehoboth Ave., in Rehoboth Beach. For additional information, call 302-226-2665 or go to www.browseaboutbooks.com.