DIY Amends + A. Bailey’s Book Sites + Podcast: L. Akiyama Published

Award-winning contemporary romance writer Andrya Bailey scouts a site in Athens.
Award-winning contemporary romance writer Andrya Bailey scouts a site in Athens.
Want to listen to a podcast/audio version of Happiness Between Tails? Click the Spotify podcast link above. And please give it a follow.

Apologies in advance to you, dear reader, if this post’s intro is choppy with the rawness of my jangled nerves. The writing that follows (by the way, here’s about my novels-in-progress) won’t involve names or pertinent exposing facts — it’s just me trying to eek some good out of something upsetting. Scant hours ago, right after I’d taken a shower, someone apologized for a terrible thing they did to me a long ago. Now I could use another shower.

How to give an apology in 3 easy steps:

  1. Don’t phone your victim… er hem person… to do it unless there’s plenty of time to converse.  Don’t ask if they’ve got time to talk and if they only have ten minutes, just sob and blow through it. Not if you’re sincere about wanting to help the other person rather than merely unburden yourself.
  2. Stay humble and on-topic. Don’t tell them how terrible you feel for all the bad turns you assume resulted in their life from the bad thing you did. Neither inflate your importance, nor imply the person is living a messed up life — that’s not apologizing, it’s condescending.
  3. Remember you’re apologizing to help (or should be) the person you wronged. Don’t bother if your mind is on simply assuaging your own guilt.

7 more steps can show you mean it:

  1. Heed #1 above by listening to their response with an open heart and mind.
  2. Get to the point without the person having to dig for what you are referring to.
  3. You can ask them if there’s something they’d like from you.
  4. Better yet, say you wish you’d never done it and you’ll never (I hope) do it again to them or anyone else.
  5. Don’t get angry back if they get angry.
  6. Don’t later contradict your apology in any way, shape, or form.

I get that apologies are difficult and messy. Of course, I accepted this one and am grateful for it. Still, now I feel bad for feeling bad…

How have apologies made you feel?…

Today’s guest is award-winning contemporary romance writer Andrya Bailey. Since childhood, she yearned for the writing life. Years of writing later, she entered a manuscript contest. No, she didn’t win the actual competition. However, she won by having a novel she later self-published! A poetry book followed, and so did short stories, anthologies, journals, more contests, and a romance trilogy. Today she’s published by one of the 5th best publishing houses in Houston, and a press in Greece!

Researching Location for Contemporary Fiction Books by Andrya Bailey

When I started writing a romance trilogy, I knew that, since one character was Greek, the couple would eventually end up in Greece. I hadn’t been to Greece yet, even though it was a place I’d always dreamed of.

Poseidon Temple in Cape Sounion, Greece, another location I researched for Olympian Heartbreak: Book 2. Photo by Andrya Bailey.
Poseidon Temple in Cape Sounion, Greece, another location I researched for Olympian Heartbreak: Book 2. Photo by Andrya Bailey.

I knew I’d have to resort to internet research to describe the locations for the contemporary tale.

The primary location of the first book was Houston, TX, where I live.

San Antonio, TX, where novelist Andrya Bailey lives, features prominently in Olympian Passion: Book 1.
San Antonio, TX, where novelist Andrya Bailey lives, features prominently in Olympian Passion: Book 1.

As the book progressed, I recognized that being onsite gave me an advantage on how to describe the places. Instead of doing research on the internet, visiting a place you’re writing about brings forth senses you otherwise wouldn’t notice. For example: smells, sounds, sights and the total atmosphere which you can’t fully capture if you’re just looking at pictures. It also brings forth the emotions you feel and can instill in your characters. Thus, more “show” rather than “tell” in your story.

The primary location of the second book was Athens. When I took a trip to Greece, I had already finished the manuscript but it wasn’t published yet. It was a great opportunity to test the research I did online. I wanted to see if what I described was up to par with the actual places.

The research had been great. But seeing the places in person – it’s a cliché here – “it was priceless”. Did I change anything after the trip? Yes. Once I experienced firsthand the colors, sounds, tastes, the culture and personalities, it was easier to edit the story to reflect those senses. Not only that, but some details that may not be observable while researching online. For example, in one chapter, our Greek hero takes his beloved to a specific restaurant. She’s presented with a menu in Greek and, not being able to read Greek, she asks him to order whatever he thinks she’d like. When I went to that same restaurant, though, I noticed the menu was both in English and Greek. This is the case for most of the restaurants in big cities, such as Athens. So, I changed the narrative to reflect that. Since the choices on the menu overwhelmed her, she asked her hero to choose whatever he thought she’d like. The outcome was the same, but the detail was important enough to ensure she could read the menu in English. It all came to accuracy.

Andrya researched Koulos Fort in Crete her Olympian Love: Book 3.
Andrya researched Koulos Fort in Crete her Olympian Love: Book 3.

Here’s an excerpt of when the heroine arrives at the airport in Athens, according to my experience (from Olympian Heartbreak):

“As we stepped out of the airport terminal into the passenger pickup area to wait for our transportation to the hotel, smog and fumes from the hectic Athens’ traffic assaulted me. A hot, humid breeze carried along the sounds of car horns, police whistles, sirens, blasting radios, and tumultuous voices speaking a language I didn’t understand. Compact cars in the convoluted traffic and harried pedestrians smoking and talking on their cells completed this assault on my senses. Not what I had expected Athens to be like. It was overwhelming in an exotic way. I inhaled and took in the myriad of colors, sounds, and smells as a welcome change which would only enrich my life. And I hoped to have my god waiting for me at the other side of this archaeologically modern rainbow.”

I was fortunate to travel before the book publication. According to my travel experience, I edited the location details to make them more accurate. And I’m thankful we can resort to online research and books to find out more about the subject we’re writing about when traveling is not possible. 

There’s another valuable and important resource to ensure accuracy while describing places we haven’t been to or can’t travel to. You can ask a person from the country for their feedback when in doubt about the cultural and local traditions. Finding a reliable local source can be of utmost importance to understand how their behavior can be exhibited in certain settings. I looked for local Greek teachers and historians to proofread the manuscripts. It ensured an accurate portrayal not only of their country and culture but also of their people. As a result, a Greek publisher accepted the trilogy for publication. Their editors were very pleased with the way I represented their country and culture in the story.

Although it can be costly and time-consuming, onsite and in person research can greatly enhance your perception of the place you’re writing about, and you’ll also have wonderful memories of a great vacation (and an excuse to travel more!).

Do you have a fave locale for fiction? And how have apologies made you feel?…

32 thoughts on “DIY Amends + A. Bailey’s Book Sites + Podcast: L. Akiyama Published”

  1. Sincerity and apologies should always go hand in hand. I’m very sorry for what you had to endure da-Al, I hope the apology will benefit you too. Thank you for sharing, great blog and congratulations to Andrya.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a painful, awkward situation for you. Both the original incident and the apology phone call. I am sorry you had to experience any of it. Hurtful as it was, I hope you can use the apology to continue healing. As you say, apologies are often messy for both parties, and it can take some time to make sense of it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing!.. congratulations, Andrya, on having your dreams come true and wish you much success with future adventures and thank you for sharing your adventure to Greece… 🙂

    Well, da-Al, Apologies can touch on sensitive areas to be sure, but perhaps furnishes much needed closure to make room for more happier thoughts and memories.. “Holding on to bitterness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die” (Author Unknown).. 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May your day be touched
    by a bit of Irish luck,
    Brightened by a song
    in your heart,
    And warmed by the smiles
    of people you love.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Apologies are rarely offered these days at all; truculent self-justification is a far more popular stance among miscreants. So it’s not surprising that many people (a) don’t know how to do apologies correctly, or (b) make an apology a mere springboard for regurgitating their own talking points.

    I’ve long had the impression that modern Greece is a polluted and cigarette-poisoned nightmare. A sad condition for a land of such stunning ancient achievements. Aristotle and Alexander would not be positively impressed.

    I’m sure a bit of research can enhance the verisimilitude of a story. I’ve done that occasionally. And when I’m reading a story that touches on something I know, careless inaccuracies can be jarring and shatter the sense of immersion in the tale.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Modern Greece is beautiful, especially if you want to get out of the busy Athens. Going to Meteora, for example, is a great trip to see byzantine monasteries built on top of rock formations, and the old capital of modern Greece, Nafplio, is a lovely coastal town, considered one of the most beautiful town in Greece. But, you’re not entirely wrong that there’s pollution and cigarette infested areas, especially in busy Athens!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Compare the amount of smog and the pervasiveness of cigarette smoking in any US city in 1970 with the same city today. Un-trashing places is possible. Time will pass and Greece, and everywhere else, will do it too.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Andrya, that is most definitely a great “excuse” for taking a trip. I know I’d certainly be more confident writing detail about a locale if I had actual experience being there to draw upon. Congrats on your writing.

    Da-AL, I’m a big fan of forgiveness both ways, and I think anytime someone offers what appears to be a sincere, thoughtful “I’m sorry” that is good enough. I can certainly understand your situation, and in fact I have had a couple “questionable” attempts at an apology sent my way before. Some people just aren’t that good at articulating feelings, and I keep that in mind as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Congratulations, Andrya, to the publishing of your books! I do think that on spot research does the story good. In the case of your books it brought you great success!
    When my husband wrote his book about a terror attack in Denmark, the only place we were not able to go was Tehran, all the other places in France, Germany and Denmark were known to us. For the second book – that never happened – yet 😉 – we went to Paris, which we knew beforehand, but not the places we had to go for the book. It was very interesting and showed us completely different areas of Paris.

    Dear Da-AL, an apology should be sincere, meaning to be made to show one’s victim that one really regrets what one has done, and that one wishes the victim to know it, and should be made in person, if possible. Reproaches and criticism do not belong in a sincere apology. An apology as you describe above is not sincere.
    If a person wants to apologize to me and starts blaming me for what they did, maybe partly, I reflect if that is true (It can be). If not I would cut the apology short as completely insincere and useless. Why should I relieve the other person’s conscience, if that person isn’t even sincere? But I would try to cut the bond to the bad deed and the person from my side by distancing me from both.
    Sincere apologies can clear the air and sever a negative bond between two people. One does not have to be best friends afterwards, but the matter is out of the ether.
    That’s how I see it, I am sorry you were subjected to this strange kind of apology. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks!I hope your husband gets to write that other story – the places you’ve traveled to for research sound great. That’s exciting that you ended up finding more hidden gems when doing the research!

      Liked by 2 people

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