Tag Archives: The Travelers

Author of the Year Award – Champagne Book Group

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Champagne Book Group proudly applauds author Keith Wayne McCoy as Author of the Year!  His novel “The Travelers” was given a glowing review from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY – a first-time accomplishment for a writer contracted with this publishing house.  A hybrid of genres ranging from mainstream, literary, science fiction, urban fantasy, and even romance, Mr. McCoy masterfully blends his writing with lyrical sentences and philosophical meditations. CBG takes great pleasure in presenting this award.

Congratulations, Keith!

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YouTube Video of “The Travelers”

100_3706 (1)A marketing friend suggested that I commission a video for distribution on YouTube.  Videographer Keith Kingery did a splendid job – his first YouTube video!  You will see a very few items from my extensive Queen Mary collection.  I was a Communications minor in college and have been involved in many civic organization events by voice-overs, narration for videos, emceeing events, acting in community and college theatre, and voicing church programs.  But I had never really heard myself.  That Midwestern twang is embarrassing and awful.  I had no idea I sounded like that!  And snobby to boot!

Please view the link below.  The background music played during the excerpt reading is from the soundtrack of the ABC TV series DARK SHADOWS entitled “The Secret Room”.  I very much welcome your observations and comments!

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“The Travelers” Giveaway Through Goodreads

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Travelers by Keith Wayne McCoy

The Travelers

by Keith Wayne McCoy

Giveaway ends March 23, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


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The Supernatural Predominates: PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Talks with Keith Wayne McCoy

On the High SeasIn Keith Wayne McCoy’s debut novel, “The Travelers”, aliens tangle the past with the present aboard the luxury liner Queen Mary.  The book won the admiration of our reviewer, who called it a “philosophically rich hybrid of genres…strengthened by complex plotting and rich dialogue.”  We caught up with McCoy and talked about his journey as a writer and his genre fiction.

You recently signed a three-year contract with a publisher, and your book has been optioned for film treatment.  Can you tell us a little more about how that came about?

Champagne Book Group (www.champagnebooks.com) is almost exclusively electronic with a mass paperback release upon the sale of 100 ebooks.  After I finished “The Travelers”, my college writing mentor encouraged me to query publishing houses rather than agents as years could pass before acquiring an agent.  My favorite author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, plastered the walls of his room with rejection letters and similar horror stories exist for J. K. Rowling and John Grisham.  The acquisitions editor at CBG immediately requested a full MS in late March of 2013 and I was offered a contract in May.  Ironically, I found out about the PUBLISHERS WEEKLY review by a film scout who called on the very day the review was published, September 15, 2014.  When I asked her how she came across my book, she referred me to the review which I promptly googled and howled with delight and tears.  PW/Booklife gave a glowing review!  I must admit:  absolute ecstasy that I, Keith Wayne McCoy, received a positive PW review!  I have since been contacted by 3 film scouts yet they are somewhat stymied that I don’t have an agent.  How this will affect the possibility of a motion picture or even best-selling status, I have no idea and is, admittedly, a concern.

What type of influence did the workshops and conferences you won scholarships to as a university student have on your writing? 

I encourage any writer to attend writer’s workshops and conferences.  I emphatically believe that the assignments, lectures, and reviews of one’s own work are essential to adequately write with precision and purpose.  Prose is studied, plot is explored, character conflict is crafted, and a myriad of other techniques are extensively dissected to teach the student that the art of writing is just that:  an art, which is not a hobby or pastime but a genuine struggle of work and devotion with the ultimate reward of a sense of achievement that hopefully uplifts the human experience.  Ironically, John Hawkes told me that although I definitely had the talent to be a successful writer, I should wait a decade or more before I diligently began a “serious” excursion into writing as I was too young to adequately master the many complexities of the human condition.  I was not even legal age at the time and although I was somewhat insulted, he was right:  time brings a certain knowledge and recognition of how humans react to situations and each other.  A writer must be a voyeur in many senses and simply study their fellow mankind in quiet meditation and judgement.

What is your connection to the luxury liner Queen Mary, and how did you become interested in it?

I became obsessed with the luxury liner Queen Mary in the third grade while watching a 1930s  movietone piece of her maiden voyage.  I still remember the thrill and awe of that giant black bow slicing the waves in a frantic fury of speed.  While Titanic is inarguably the most famous liner in history, Queen Mary is the greatest superliner ever built.  She was not a mere cruise ship but a giant passenger liner built exclusively for mass transportation at magnificent speed in unparalleled luxury at a time when liners were the only means of crossing the Atlantic. The fact that she still existed in retirement in Long Beach, California held me spellbound and I have visited many times although I do wish she were less commercialized and more pertinent as a museum and monument to human achievement.

Have you always written genre fiction?

I was taught to write exclusively literary fiction at university and, once, after reading Henry James’ “Turn of the Screw”, I wrote a supernatural-themed assignment.  My mentor was infuriated.  He berated me in front of the entire class, even shouting.  I was near tears.  He apologized later and explained that he didn’t want to see my talent “wasted” on mainstream nonsense.  But the dynamics of a character-driven tale forcing an exploration of ordinary people in extraordinary, supernatural situations remained with me.  I personally find that pieces in which the characters are well-defined and face circumstances outside the “real” world appealing.  After the PW review came out, that same professor emailed me with congratulations and admiration and actually encouraged me to pursue pieces in which the world of the supernatural predominates or at least plays a significant role.

What are you working on now?

CBG just published a short story called “Castles Burning” on October 6 which is a psychological thriller.  It is an indictment on narcissism and the relentless climb to the top of society our world faces, in this case a dysfunctional, elite family.  The premise is not explicitly supernatural but rather an excursion into the realities of materialism which manifests itself to the point of mental illness.  Since genre works well for me, I have embarked on a novel which I call a “Modern Gothic”.  It is titled “The Governor” and takes place in present-day New York.  Again, the characters are well-defined and relatable but placed in circumstances reminiscent of Henry James and Shirley Jackson.

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QUEEN MARY Flambe Burner and Dish

Flambe 001This flambe burner and silver dish (which are in dire need of a polishing) was used in the First Class Dining Room of Queen Mary.  Dishes like cherry jubilee and certain spiced meats were carted to the various passenger tables and lit into flames.  It was quite thrilling to those wealthy enough to have been exposed to it over the years.  But for Jim and Jess Bennett, First Class was an unnerving experience.  Jim was a World II GI who married his British bride Jess and wired all of his savings so that the newlywed Bennetts could experience the grandeur of Queen Mary first hand.  “Memories of a lifetime” Jim repeated to an anxious Jess a few days before their encounter with the extraterrestrial mother and children. The following excerpt depicts Jess’s reaction when a waiter brought the flambe burner and dish to her table:

“The Dining Room was as soaring and majestic as any cathedral I had seen in Europe and we were both embarrassed to be so under-dressed.  Good God, we were out of place with those tuxedos and gowns all around us.  I wore my uniform which had some formality but poor Jess had only a yellow chiffon dress she’d bought for Easter services a few years before.  ‘Memories of a lifetime’, I kept whispering to her.  When a waiter came to our table and began to flambe a dish, all diners turned excitedly toward us.  Jess was mortified.  When the flames burst upward, she screamed and brought a ripple of laughter.  Our unease must have been glaringly obvious because an older couple watched us from a nearby table for some time, smiling at us and we were certainly the topic of their conversation.  Before dessert, they came over and introduced themselves as Frank and Emily Schofield from upstate New York and we were placed under their wing for the rest of the voyage.”

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QUEEN MARY Head Waiter Jacket

Head Waiter 001Head Waiter 002Head Waiter 003Head Waiter 004This Head Waiter jacket is stained, faded, and musty, but the elegance and stateliness of dining First Class on Queen Mary still shines through even after 8 decades.  A sight of the First Class Dining Room at dinner definitely would have been awe-inspiring.  With musicians playing softly, the silver glistening, and china lightly clinking while the men were dressed in tuxedoes and the women in evening gowns, the whole scene must have looked choreographed.  The Head Waiter was in command of 200 waiters.  In the kitchen were 50 chefs and 200 cooks.  This ensemble seamlessly served 800 First Class passengers in one sitting.

The oak clothes hanger came from a stateroom and dates pre-World War II as it designates Cunard White rather than simply Cunard which the line name changed to after the war.

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“The Shawshank Redemption” and QUEEN MARY

Tin 001This Benson’s candy tin was sold aboard a Queen Mary gift shop probably in the 1940s.  I acquired this example in the late 1970s when I was about 10 years old; my first piece of memorabilia ever.  It was bought from a dealer who sent lists through the USPS in those days before the internet.  I used my meager savings and gave cash to my mother who in turn wrote a check to the dealer.  I was very excited to receive it and assumed it was rare.  But along came Ebay which offers several examples every single day.  There must have been thousands upon thousands sold judging by the frequency with which they show up on Ebay.  And in 1993, an identical tin made an appearance in the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”.  When Morgan Freeman’s character is paroled, he finds the tree in a field which Tim Robbin’s escaped character had instructed him to and pulls the tin up from beneath stones and earth.  Inside are directions and cash.  The fact that this particular tin was used indicates again that it was once very popular and plentiful.  Though it is decidedly not a rare piece, it is cherished because it was my first collectible from the legendary Queen Mary.

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QUEEN MARY at a Full Gallop

ImageThe Queen Mary at a full gallop on her maiden voyage to New York in May of 1936.  In this remarkable and rare postcard, the bow wave created by the liner’s charge at 32 knots was between 50 and 60 feet high.  The Blue Riband was an international trophy awarded to the world’s fastest liner.  France’s Normandie had captured the award a year earlier in 1935 but the Queen reclaimed it for England in August of 1936 by being the first ship to cross the Atlantic in less than 4 days.  The two superliners both had 3 smokestacks and a cruiser stern but Normandie was considered chic and modern while Queen Mary was stately and regal.  Many critics panned England for creating a liner with the lines reminiscent of an earlier era, only more mammoth.  But Normandie always sailed with half of her passenger complement while Queen Mary was booked solid for nearly 2 years!  Passengers absolutely flocked to her and she is, without doubt, the most successful liner of all time having served 6 years in World War II as a troop transport.  She still holds the world’s record for the most passengers aboard a single ship:  16,863 GIs and crew in 1943.  Painted drab grey and stripped of her luxurious furnishings, she earned the nickname Grey Ghost for her abrupt arrivals and departures when accommodating and delivering troops around the world.  Her speed enabled her to outrun torpedoes yet she still zigzagged across the pond to deter a wolf pack of Nazi submarines that may have been waiting.  She was delivering entire divisions to the war front at once and Hitler was furious.  He offered a quarter of a million dollars and the Silver Cross to any U-boat commander who could sink her.  After the war, she was commissioned to bring British war brides and their children to a new life in America. She resumed her peacetime career in July of 1947 and held the Blue Riband until the liner United States took it in 1952.  After millions of miles traveled and millions of passengers transported, she was retired in 1967 due to the influence of jets that could fly across the Atlantic in hours rather than days.  Too large and expensive to upkeep, she was sold to the city of Long Beach, California where she is permanently docked and serving as a hotel and tourist attraction.

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March 7, 2014 · 1:40 pm

Times Square, New York Advertises “The Travelers”

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March 2, 2014 · 12:26 pm

Critical Excerpt from “The Travelers”

ImageThis is a crucial excerpt from chapter 3 of “The Travelers”.  In 1947, the Bennetts, a World War II GI and his British war bride, left Southampton with only each other but arrive in New York as a family after a North Atlantic encounter with an otherworldly, desperate mother and her two small children.  Now, in the present day, Guy Turner, a melancholy black film maker, has a haunting prelude with the now elderly mother in a corridor aboard Queen Mary which thrusts him into a supernatural mystery decades in the making.

~ ~ ~ ~

Indeed, the corridor dipped lightly far ahead of them, the paneling glowing warmly from the softly-lit fixtures in the ceiling corners while the lines of handrails on either side led the eye even farther.  The cabin doors were like silent, regal sentries standing guard over a hallowed pathway that stretched into the past and was measured by years rather than feet.  The deck began to rise imperceptibly into the distance, then there was the golden blur of door, panel, and handrail as they melded mysteriously into one with the final illusion of a pin-prick of darkness reaching infinitely upward.

When Guy raised a hand to rub his eyes, static electricity jumped from his fingertips to his eyelashes.  Mr. Vaughn jerked his hand back when the key shocked him with a blue snap upon contact with the door knob.  “For Heaven’s sake,” he said, and Guy watched as he began examining the keys again with infuriating slowness.  Guy had decided to lie of a previous engagement and make a hasty exit when he heard an unusual sound down the corridor; a soft, rippling sound like water running over rocks in a shallow creek.  He turned and a figure appeared distantly, walking toward them through the slashes of golden light given off by the light fixtures.

“Mr. Vaughn, I really need to run,” he said.  “I’m sorry, but I still have quite a bit to do at the studio tonight.”

Mr. Vaughn half turned with what Guy assumed would be an appeal to stay, but instead the keys fell to the carpeting with a metallic whimper and he whispered, “Good Heavens.”  Guy followed his gaze and with pure and absolute astonishment watched as the figure grew clear:  an old, long-haired woman, completely naked, approaching with small, tentative steps.

Out of the corner of his eye, Guy saw Mr. Vaughn shakily lift a cell phone to his ear.  “Security to Main Deck,” he said in a low tone.  “The Churchill Suite.”

She was a deeply lined, dark-skinned woman with feet horribly misshapen by arthritis.  Her gray hair swung behind her waist as she walked, her shoulders raised and rounded.  Her hips sagged ponderously, more from age than extra weight, and her breasts hung like pears against her chest with dark, olive-colored nipples:  the return of Eve after five hundred generations.

Then she stood before them like a timid deer, her eyes pensive as she looked from one man to the other, perhaps in the hope of detecting compassion.  She settled her dark eyes on Guy and moved closer.  Her eyes did not reflect the depths of madness or dementia but rather an incessant plea.  She swallowed before speaking as though choosing her words carefully in fear of misunderstanding.  When she opened her mouth, the voice that fell from her lips was deep and strong though she spoke slowly in a language Guy did not recognize.  It sounded faintly Latin with many l’s and t’s and when she finished, she begged him with her eyes.

Guy could only return a stare of incomprehension to her and she brought a hand to her face in anguish.  She looked down and mumbled softly to herself, and when he saw that her lids were brimming, he too shared in her frustration.  Suddenly her facial features were resolute and she met his eyes again with more determination than before:  another approach had obviously occurred to her.  Raising her hand without moving her eyes from his, she held before him a plastic name tag upside down in her fingers, the recessed letters yellow with age.  Then, with pronunciation as clear and resonant as the peals of a bell on a cold, crisp morning, she uttered the name on the tag:  “Bennett.”

And the effect on Guy was a needling tingle in the small of his back that whirled up his spine to the base of his skull and down again.

“I don’t understand,” Guy said inadequately, in a voice he could hardly hear but she evidently understood this by his blinking expression and turned to Mr. Vaughn who could only regard her with his mouth agape.  She turned back to Guy.  She repeated, even slower but with greater urgency, emphasizing each syllable, “Ben-nett, Ben-nett.  BEN-NETT!”  She looked up to him imploringly, but when she obviously recognized the futility of communication, her arm fell limply, even angrily, and she began weeping.  The two men were helplessly dumbstruck as she stood before them for a moment, a portrait of despair, then she turned and began walking back down the corridor, sobbing softly.

Though shocked, Guy had no impression of the supernatural.  She was a mortal who spoke in a foreign tongue.  But time as he had always known it stalled when she began her retreat.  Halfway down the corridor her feet did not seem to fall on the carpeting, as though she were walking up an invisible incline that did not match the true rise of the deck.  There was the rippling sound again, then she shimmered like a heat wave rising from pavement and quite simply disappeared.

Now there was no time, just a dislocating sense that he was being pulled into deeper waters of reality than he was ever meant to encounter.  An undertow of fear dragged him along, his stream of consciousness flowing faster and deeper until he thought he must surely pass out.  The utter reality of the experience crashed in waves upon him until there was nothing in his existence but her pathetic eyes holding his; those dark, helpless, searching eyes that overwhelmed everything, past and present.  The empty corridor already haunted him, or rather the memory of her departure from it haunted him, playing over and over in his mind in the eternity of frozen time.  Then, far away, he heard his heartbeat beckoning him, louder and louder, marking the seconds of a world changed forever, and time abruptly tumbled into its proper march with his heart and mind racing wildly to keep up.

Mr. Vaughn was collapsing against the door with a dazed, uncomprehending expression when Guy returned to the present.  The bewildered man reached for Guy’s arm as he sank and brought a hand to his chest and began gasping for breath.  Two security guards rounded a corner from the opposite end of the corridor and broke into a run with guns drawn when they saw Guy standing over the fallen man.  “He’s having a heart attack!” Guy said irritably, and some semblance of normality returned.  As one knelt beside Mr. Vaughn, the other called for an ambulance.  Ozone hung heavily in the air.

It required his greatest act of courage to look back down the corridor.  It was quiet and undisturbed as though years had passed since those bare feet had padded down the carpeting and, for a moment, he wondered if it had really happened.  He noticed something on the carpeting where she had stood before them and when he squatted to retrieve it, his knees trembled so violently that he had to balance himself with a hand on the wall.  He stood and looked down at the name tag in his palm, contemplating his own newly found Rosetta Stone and the long journey he was about to embark upon.


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