Staci Troilo

Suspense, Passion... Fiction That Flutters The Heart

Tag: P. C. Zick

Cutting Room Floor

If you’ve been following me on social media (And if you aren’t, why aren’t you? The links are right there in the sidebar!), then you know this week I’ve been focused on Halloween. So of course you’re expecting a post today—on Halloween— about the holiday. Right?


Today, I expect you’ll celebrate the holiday however you like (or maybe not at all), so you don’t need me to tell you what to do. Instead, I’m bringing in friend and fellow writer P.C. Zick to talk about her novel, Native Lands, and to share with us a scene that didn’t make the cut. (Lucky for us, she gave us a sample of what did make the cut, too.)

So, without further ado, I give you P.C.

Native Lands – The Cutting Room Floor

Native LandsMy new release Native Lands made it through many twists and turns from its inception in 2006 to its publication this month. Eight years, three titles, and 40,000 cut words later, the novel finally made it to the publication stage this week. While the cutting room floor is littered with debris, not all is lost—the litter may very well become my next novel.

The concept for Native Lands began when I was assigned a series of freelance articles that led me to research destroyed mangroves, endangered wildlife, and extinct tribes of native Floridians. As I read and traveled the peninsula of Florida in pursuit of the stories, I kept coming back to the connection all living things have with one another. I began writing a novel with the working title of Connecting the Dots. A member of my writers’ group at the time suggested the title was too clichéd. I knew he was right, but I kept it until a better choice presented itself.

When I needed to interview wildlife officers for more information about the Everglades for the novel, serendipity occurred. I accepted a job with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission as a public relations director. For four years, I interviewed and interpreted wildlife managers and officers. I didn’t work on Connecting the Dots, but I knew my day job was providing me with plenty of substance for my fiction.

When I pulled the novel out in 2012, I changed the name to Safe Harbors, which is the name of the development in the novel that threatens to destroy many parts of the state, including the Everglades.

I began finishing the first draft early in 2014. The Native American tribe, the Timucuans, thought to have become extinct in north Florida 200 years after the Spanish invasion, nagged at me. When I visited my daughter in St. Augustine where the Timucuan village of Seloy existed until around 1780, I felt ghosts moving the pen across my journal. I wrote scenes from Seloy in 1760 when the warrior Locka decides it’s time for them to move south before they do become extinct from disease and bullets.

Then the title Native Lands sprang to life as the final choice. With Locka’s story paralleling the story of 2012 Floridians fighting developers, I added nearly 40,000 words to the manuscript bringing it in at around 130,000 words—far too many for the majority of the reading public.

Between my beta readers and my editor, I knew I had to make some important changes. I fine-tuned the point of view so the reader clearly understood who the main characters and the antagonist were. I eliminated and combined characters. And I threw out anything that didn’t contribute to the movement of the plot toward the climax of the story. It was a grueling and painful process, and for days, I wondered if the book was worth saving.

Then I went to work. Once I had a clear vision in my mind of what I needed to do, the incisions into the plot became easier.

Recently I found an old blog post about Native Lands that I wrote soon after I started the drafting stage. I must have liked it enough to post it, but it’s a scene that’s now on the cutting room floor.

Barbara walked closer to the nest to inspect its size. She glanced back at the three young people now sitting on a blanket nearby. Sam turned toward her with his swimming trunks hiked up high on his thighs. She noticed the tattoo immediately. Her eyes drifted to Lori who sat facing the ocean, her bare back to Barbara exposing a similar tattoo.

Native Lands“Are your tattoos identical?” Barbara asked.

“Lori’s has a female protector over the heart. That’s the only difference,” Sam said.

“Our mom has one identical to mine,” Lori said. “She said it was a tradition in her family.”

“What about your father? Does he have one?” Barbara asked.

“He died when we were young,” Sam said. “We don’t remember him.”

Barbara asked no more questions, but as the rest continued talking about protecting the sea turtle nest, Barbara wondered how old Mike’s lost children might be.

Mangrove Mike did not speak of years and dates. He was the age of the seasons that ruled the moments of his life.

He often said life had no beginning; life had no end. It only existed now.

Why did I cut a scene I liked? The plot needed to move in a different direction. A friend of mine who was a successful author once told me if I loved a piece of prose too much, it probably meant it needed to go. He was trying to tell me to remove myself from my writing and view it with an objective eye. Just because I wrote it, doesn’t mean it’s chiseled into a rock. It’s been invaluable advice.

Native Lands reads much differently than the original novel I started in 2006. And there’s a file on my computer with 40,000 words of something that might just make its way into my next novel.

Here’s an excerpt from Native Lands that didn’t make its way to the cutting room floor. Locka prepares to lead members of his tribe to the Everglades from St. Augustine, Florida, in 1760:

Native LandsThe entire party would consist of six couples, four warriors, and four young children. Four of the women bulged with new life. The night before departure, they gathered near the fire with the rest of the tribe. Chief Calumba and the shaman began the ceremony with prayers for the safe passage of the small tribe of Seloy. After the prayer, the Chief signaled for the four children to come forward to the fire with their parents.

“We come here this evening to tattoo our young with the new symbol of the Seloys. They will carry this throughout their life, and with the help of their parents and the other members of this group about to leave our village, they will pass on their heritage to their own children.” He turned and bowed to the village shaman.

“This symbol represents the most sacred of animals,” the shaman said as he placed a long pole in the fire. At its tip, the pole held a sharpened shark’s tooth. “The marks for both female and male will be the head of the panther. Above the female’s symbol, a sun will shine down representing the sustaining force of the female. The male mark will show the crescent moon above the panther’s head to mark the passage of time and nature’s role in the life of our people.”

Pat ZickP.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She’s won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She describes herself as a “storyteller” no matter the genre.

She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. Even though she now resides in western Pennsylvania with her husband Robert, she finds the stories of Florida and its people and environment a rich base for her storytelling platform. Florida’s quirky and abundant wildlife—both human and animal—supply her fiction with tales almost too weird to be believable.

She writes two blogs, P.C. Zick and Living Lightly. She has published three nonfiction books and six novels.

Her writing contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. In her novels, she advances the cause for wildlife conservation and energy conservation. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.


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New Friends, Old Stories, Wonderful Memories

I get homesick a lot. I live nearly 1,000 miles from where I grew up, and sometimes it feels like 1,000,000. I knew all my neighbors—heck, I think I was related to half the town. Now I don’t even know my next door neighbors’ names. So I spend a lot of time talking to writers on online.

You can imagine my surprise when I met a woman who lived in Michigan (I lived there before), Florida (I wouldn’t mind living there if I can’t move home), and now lives in Pittsburgh (the city closest to my hometown and the city where I went to college). We immediately hit it off.

PC ZICKP. C. Zick’s writing career began in 1998 with the publication of her first column in a local paper. By day, she was a high school English teacher, but at night and on vacations, she began writing novels and freelance articles. By 2001, she left teaching and began pursuing a full-time gig as a writer. She describes herself as a “storyteller” no matter the genre.

She writes three blogs. Her blog and her novels contain the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.

She’s working on her sixth novel, Native Lands. Live from the Road was her first venture into self-publishing in 2012. Trails in the Sand followed in January 2013. She’s re-issued two novels previously traditionally published.

PC Zick book coverShe also writes nonfiction. From Seed to Table is a collection of blog posts about gardening and preserving produce. She’s also published her great grandfather’s Civil War journal, Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier. It’s this body of work I’ve asked her to talk about today, because it touches on connecting with our roots, a topic dear to my heart. So without further ado, I give you P. C. Zick.

Heroes for All Time

My great grandfather, Harmon Camburn, died nearly fifty years before I was born, yet for the past forty years a part of him has moved with me from Michigan to Florida to Pennsylvania. He lived between the covers of a light blue notebook on typewritten—and I do mean typewritten—pages prepared by my cousin from his handwritten journal. Those pages contained his experiences as a Union soldier from 1861-1864 when he joined Michigan’s 2nd Infantry and began the long journey to Washington D.C. where President Lincoln himself reviewed the newly minted and young soldiers ready to fight a battle for the preservation of the Union.

Laura LavilandThis past year, I decided that Harmon Camburn needed to come alive for our time. As I delved into his writings, I often veered off course as I researched some of the names he mentions in his journal. One trail brought me to a woman I’d often heard about in reverential terms in my family. My father and his siblings called her “Aunt Laura,” so I always assumed she was my aunt, too. Only upon researching her did I discover that everyone called her Aunt Laura because of her dedication to important causes. She worked tirelessly to ensure young women and African Americans received an education. She advocated for the abolition of slavery and became a leader in the Underground Railroad. She also fought for women’s suffrage although she died two decades too soon to see women receive the vote. Her Quaker upbringing created in her the quest to help all those who suffered at the hands of inequality. She later joined the Methodist Church after seeking a religion that best suited her beliefs.

She moved to Adrian, Michigan, from New York, with her husband. They had eight children, and yet she still managed to open the Raisin Institute, a school devoted to the education of all—no matter race, religion, or gender. She began working for both the abolition of slavery and the freedom of slaves through her work with the Underground Railroad.

LauraSmithHavilandStatueA statute stands in front of the Lenawee County Courthouse in Adrian with the dedication, “A Tribute to a Life Consecrated to the Betterment of Humanity” Her autobiography, A Woman’s Life Work, chronicles her pursuit of equality. Her philosophy and faith is shown through her active narrative. She doesn’t need to pontificate her viewpoint. Her work speaks what she believes. It’s rich with dialogue and shows a life lived with only one thought: the betterment of all humans.

She began hiding runaway slaves on her farm in southeastern Michigan, sometimes personally escorting them to Canada. She became friends with Sojourner Truth during her work at the Freedman’s Hospital in Washington D.C.

Her obituary states that when the Civil War began in 1861, she lost her students and one teacher at the Raisin Institute as they enlisted in the war effort. One of those students was my great grandfather, Harmon Camburn. In addition, after her death in 1898, they brought her body to Harmon Camburn’s home in Adrian for the public to come and pay tribute to “Aunt Laura.”

I discovered through the Camburn family tree that I can claim Laura Haviland as a relative through marriage. Harmon’s older brother married Laura’s daughter, Esther. Other siblings married Havilands as well.

My experience with researching and publishing the Civil War journal gave me a chance to gaze into the lives of both Great Grandfather Camburn and Aunt Laura. They did not live or die as martyrs for a cause, but as real human beings who fought for their beliefs without questioning why they did it. In their hearts and souls, they acted out their faith.

I consider my own life one of relative luxury compared to my ancestors and know that I have many miles to cover before I ever come close to the legacy left to me. Bringing to light the words of Harmon Camburn and the life work of Laura Smith Haviland is my start at walking respectfully in the large footprints they left.

The Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier begins with “An Excuse” from Harmon Camburn.

“If what I write meets the eye of others than those for whom they are intended, I have only this to say: It was only written for my children. And if I confer upon them as much pleasure as I shall take in gratifying them, I shall feel amply repaid.”

I hope both of them are smiling down upon me knowing the work they did is still alive so many years later. I am humbled and grateful for the legacy that both left.


P. C. Zick has lived in Michigan and Florida. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Robert.

For more information about her work or to follow her on social media, click on the links below:

A Woman’s Life Work by Laura Haviland

Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier (Harmon Camburn) presented by P.C. Zick

Facebook page:

Twitter: @PCZick


Writing Whims:

Living Lightly:

Wow… Two Days in a Row!

Despite having a background in marketing, I’m unaccustomed to promoting myself. A company or product? Sure. But me? I can’t really wrap my head around selling me and my own work.

You can imagine my surprise when, as a new novelist, someone asked to interview me. Me! I’ve had some really good reviews for my novel, Mystery, Ink: Mystery Heir, but today is different. Today I answer questions about my book, my writing style and habits, and my WIP.

To see what I had to say, please visit P.C. Zick’s blog, Writing Whims.

Thanks! Hope to see you there.

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