[David E. Meadows / SixthFleet.Com]
Welcome to SixthFleet.Com,
the Cyberspace Home of author David E. Meadows.
"When Meadows' men set sail, it's sure to be a mission like no other."
--W.E.B. Griffin

"Rip-snorting, realistic action-adventure from a man who
has been there. David Meadows is the real thing,"

--Stephen Coonts author of numerous bestsellers, including
Flight of the Intruder, Saucer, America, and Liberty.

"An absorbing, compelling look at America's future place in the world. It's
visionary, and scary. Great battle scenes, believable heroes, plus villains
you'll love to hate!"

-Joe Buff, bestselling author of Straits of Power, Tidal Rip, and Crush Depth.

"David E. Meadows is simply the best writer of naval thriller/adventure fiction out there today."
--Tom Wilson, acclaimed author of Black Canyon, Desert Fury, Tango Uniform and other best selling military thrillers.

David E. Meadows FAQ:

  • How long did it take you to get published?
  • What did your experience in searching for a publisher teach you?
  • How did you find out where to send your manuscript and how to interest an editor or agent?
  • How did you get an agent?
  • What do you do in the Navy?
  • Why do you have so little 'sex' in your books?
  • Do Sailors really have a girl in every port?
  • Why do we have war?
  • Where do you get your ideas for your books?
  • What can I do to get published?
  • Who are your favorite authors?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • You have made a career of the Navy. Do you recommend it for young men and women graduating from high school today?
  • How do you go about writing a book? It seems so hard to do.
  • Do you enjoy talking about your writing?
  • According to your biography you speak Arabic and French?
  • Q: How long did it take you to get published?

    A: It took nine long agonizing years of collecting rejection slips, filing them appropriately, and then shipping new query letters back out. I finished my first manuscript (I have three that are really horrible and stuffed 'way back' under the proverbial bed) with ideas of having editors and agents fight over signing me on the dotted line. What I discovered, was those dotted lines were perforated so they could have three preformatted rejection slips to the sheet of paper. I think some wear those rejection slips in a contraption on their belt like a gun in a holster so when a manuscript comes in they can see how fast their time has improved in rejecting it.

    After the first couple of years, I settled into a routine of writing, generating queries, mailing manuscripts when asked, and then filing the inevitable rejection slip. (Others collect match covers and women's lingerie—I collected rejection slips.) I was a leader in my field of collectibles. Among members of the Rejection Slip Collection Society of America (RSCSA), I was in the top ten. It wasn't until 1999 after Mr. Tom Colgan of Berkley Publishing Group read the manuscript for THE SIXTH FLEET that I resigned my membership in RSCSA. He has been a tremendous mentor for a new author and, I know, I bothered him a lot with naive questions surrounding the first couple of books. Bottom line—was he offered to buy THE SIXTH FLEET if I would write three more with the same story line and cast of characters.

    Q: What did your experience in searching for a publisher teach you?

    A: It taught me that a well-written story coupled with tenacity could overcome the odds. I have come to believe that getting a manuscript published isn't much different than warships. Warships need to be out at sea; not tied up in port for a long period. Same goes for manuscripts. You'll never publish a manuscript if it's sitting on your desk. Manuscripts need to be out and circulating with agents and editors. Of course, before we send a warship in for a friendly port visit, we usually ask the visiting country. I recommend following a similar tactful line with editors and agents; send them a great query snail-mail asking if they would like to have your manuscript pay a port visit to their desk. It helps to tell them a little about your manuscript much like we tell a port what type of ship is sailing into it.

    Q: How did you find out where to send your manuscript and how to interest an editor or agent?

    A: I can sum it up in two words: Writer's Digest. I have subscribed so many years to Writer's Digest magazine. It was my writer's college where I learned about writing books and fiction. I studied the articles in the magazine that discussed writing fiction and learned from it, plus I joined the Writer's Digest book club to build a reference library. I heartedly recommend aspiring and established authors to read the magazine and join the book club. There are two books that every writer should have on their shelves. They are updated annually:

    1. Guide to Literary Agents

    2. Writer's Market

    Q: How did you get an agent?

    A: The same way I got an editor, by following recommendations discovered in Writer's Digest. I researched the Guide to Literary Agents looking for non-fee charging (Never ever go with an agent that you have to pay up front; even if it's to read your manuscript and provide feedback. Agents should earn their pay through selling your manuscripts. Agents who are members of AAR (Authors-Agents-Representatives have a code of ethics that subscribe to this precept along with other ethical precepts.) I started at the "A's" looking for agents who handled writers of my genre. I was working my way through the Guide to Literary Agents sending off query letters one at a time to agents who I thought might be interested, when Tom Colgan gave me my break into publication. The next name on my self-made list of agents, derived from this book, was Pinder Lane & Garon-Brooke Associates and the agent I underlined was Ms. Nancy Coffey. She handled an author whose work I really admire, Eric Harry. Berkley made their offer on a Tuesday in August 1999 and I signed with Nancy the following week. We are still together and she has a great way of encouraging one to get busy and finish the manuscript.

    Q: What do you do in the Navy?

    A: I'm a cryptologic officer in the historic Naval Security Group Command. I know...I know... The next question is what in the hell is a cryptologic officer? We're usually called 'Cryppies,' which has its draw backs. One lady who heard I was Cryppie wanted to know what type of coffin was most economical and was there a better way to buy them than through funeral directors. Regardless of what she said later, I don't think I ever convinced her that Cryppie was not a word associated with the art of burials.

    Ever seen the movie Midway, where Hal Holbrook runs around in a bathrobe shouting for glee over how his sailors had broken the Japanese code? He was playing the role of Joe Rochefort in the movie. Commander Rochefort and those sailors were part of the 'On-the-roof Gang' that made up the start of the Naval Security Group Command. For more about the On-the-roof Gang, go to retired Senior Chief Glockner's web site. You can find a link at the bottom of the newsletter section. To head off your follow up question, only Master Chiefs and Captains run around work in bathrobes today.

    Q: Why do you have so little 'sex' in your books?

    A: Three reasons.

  • (1) Research in this subject is expensive and would have a dangerous impact to my marriage;
  • (2) it's hard to work sex into the middle of a combat scene (of course, any male capable of sex in the middle of bullets-flying shouldn't be wandering the streets without being accompanied by a pair of stout medical attendants) and,
  • (3) few people can appreciate the impressive value of yak butter, plastic sheets, and a half-used pair of tennis shoes to a good sex scene.
  • Q: Do Sailors really have a girl in every port?

    A: I am really fed up with hearing this question everywhere I go. There is no truth to it. This is one of those urban myths and ancient legends that no one knows from whence it originated. First, there are tens of thousands of ports in the world. No Sailor has ever hit every port. They'd have to live to be over two hundred years old to do it! Most career sailors might top off at sailing into and out of a couple of hundred ports. Then, you have to consider that sailors aren't in the richest profession on the face of the earth. We can't afford a girl in each port. Therefore, it doesn't take a lot of thought to realize that most sailors only have a girl in about one of every five ports they visit, limiting them to about ten to twelve at any given time. Whew! I'm glad I got that off my chest and I do thank you for asking. This is one myth, I am glad I had the opportunity to lay to rest.

    Q: Why do we have war?

    A: War is nature's way of teaching us geography. Before 1992, who knew where Bosnia or Herzegovina or Macedonia was? Today, we all know and there are still places nature wants us to learn about. In 2002 and 2003, only 15% of Americans could tell you where Iraq was located. Fortunately, those 15% were United States Marines.

    Q: Where do you get your ideas for your books?

    A: I read everyday current events magazine; daily newspapers; and news events. I believe that when you are writing fiction, you need to make it believable. So far, I have focused my stories on conceivable events a few years in the future. It helps to be able to show a logic trail for my stories to what events today could turn into tomorrow. I carry 3X5 cards in a shirt pocket stuffed with pens and when I hear a particular succinctly comment, I write it down. Sometimes these notes turn into a story. I have a 3X5 file on my computer where I have transcribed these quotes, blurbs, and possible story ideas. Right now, I have two more books to write for the JOINT TASK FORCE series and have outlined ideas for six more books.

    Q: What can I do to get published?

    A: You can write, write, and write. Granted, you can't get published, as I said earlier, by keeping that manuscript on your desk, but the first thing you have to do is to have a manuscript. And, don't stop with the first draft. The first draft is the easy part. The hardest part is going back through it and throwing out everything that doesn't move the action forward. If it ain't helping; it ain't staying.

    When you do raise your head from your manuscript and with a shy smile, only seen in the reflection of your screen, are satisfied with the manuscript, then you start the heartrending search for a homeport for it. Once it leaves for its first agent/editor port visit, you need to sit down and start on the second book. Forget about the first until it returns for refueling and re-launching. Save any rejection slip that may accompany the manuscript on its return voyage. Most agents/editors who have asked to see it, will do you the courtesy of providing some comments on why it was rejected. Keep it and weigh it with an understanding that this feedback is coming from professionals who work in the publication industry.

    Of course, you can pay to be published, but all of us authors will know you did it. If it salves the ego and you feel you have to do it, then have it.

    Then, you may be one of those truly gifted ones. If you are one of the lucky ones who sends out your first manuscript; where it gets accepted by the first agent you send it; and, it immediately lands a six-figure deal for this first effort, then please remove your name from my web site and never attempt to contact me again.

    Q: Who are your favorite authors?

    A: I have a slew of them as well as another link somewhere on this web site with my top ten books. Those top ten change often as I discover and rediscover authors who's writings capture and draw me into their story. I enjoy Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz, Stephen Coonts, and Dale Brown. I enjoy some relative new authors in the same genre that I write to include Joe Buff, Michael DiMercurio, and Tom Wilson. I think Ken Follett is a great author, whom I would be hard pressed to choose any one book as his best. David Poyer is one of my favorite whose books such as the Civil War novel Fire on the Waters will be a classic one day much like Stephen Coonts Flight of the Intruder is already a Vietnam War classic and Tom Clancy's Hunt for the Red October is a Cold War one. I could go on forever.

    Q: Where did you grow up?

    A: I grew up in the small cotton mill village of Sargent, Georgia, located in Coweta County about forty miles southwest of Atlanta. Mom and Dad worked in the cotton mill, which owned the houses in the village. They paid 25 cents a bedroom for rent. I am blessed in that I am still friends with many of the people I grew up with in Sargent and with whom I spent twelve years of school sitting beside them. I think when you reach your forties and fifties you begin to wonder what happened to those you knew so well in your early years. I was lucky in that I have kept in contact with many of them.

    Q: You have made a career of the Navy. Do you recommend it for young men and women graduating from high school today?

    A: No! I recommend you go to college. Afterwards, if you still feel inclined to join the Navy or any of the military services, then do just that. I recommend any of the military services, if you are graduating from high school and don't want to go to college or can't afford it or you just want to enjoy seeing new places with people you can trust, or your girlfriend's father is searching for you with a shotgun. You will make friendships (Shipmates) who will be friends for life. If any of these reasons fit your circumstance, then, a four-year tour of duty within the military may be right down your line and when those four years are up, you have an opportunity to make a decision whether to opt out or stay in. But, I recommend going on to college first.

    Q: How do you go about writing a book? It seems so hard to do.

    A: I am glad it seems hard to do. The truth is, if you enjoy writing then it's a lot of fun. How do I go about writing a book? Things that make you go ummmmm.....

    The first thing I do is write what I call a 'Once upon a Time' synopsis. This synopsis lays out the genesis of the story and the wave line of the plot. It tells me how the story begins; some of the crisis and conflicts in its journey; and, how it's going to end. It doesn't do much in developing characters.

    When I am satisfied with this 7 to 10 page synopsis, I turn it into a chapter-by-chapter outline, trying to keep the number of chapters to around 12 and the word count to around 100,000.

    Then, I start. I write Chapter 1 first, then 2, then 3....and so on. About half-way through the book, the characters take over. I know how it's going to end, but a lot of times I discover that the route the characters take to get there surprise me. I find myself hurrying to finish a book when they take over because I'm looking forward to discovering what the characters are going to do to succeed in their quest for 'The End.'

    Q: Do you enjoy talking about your writing?

    A: Bien Sur! I have never met an author who didn't enjoy talking about writing. Not only their own, but others. Writing is a craft—some call it an art—it can be either. But, regardless of what name you tack on to writing, it is a skill that requires continuous honing. I have this tendency like a dam breaking that when someone opens the door of opportunity to discuss my writing or my books I can brace them against the wall for hours. Lucky for them, my wife recognizes those moments and pulls me away before their glazed eyes bore out through the back of their heads. I am new enough to the literary world that I am still mesmerized over the idea that I have four books already on bookshelves with four more to be published within the next couple of years. I always thought I would grow old with a great collection of signed and notated rejection slips. I was going to leave them to my children Sara and Nicholas when I died, since my wife and I have decided to spend any money we may have before the big transition.

    So, there! I enjoy talking about writing. All authors do. Authors can listen for hours to people talking about their writing and they enjoy hearing the parts that you enjoyed best. There are a lot of great writers out there and more to come. Encourage those whom you admire. They appreciate it. Send money; they appreciate that even more.

    Q: According to your biography you speak Arabic and French?

    A: Biography's lie sometimes. I do have an undergraduate degree in Arabic with a minor in French. I also studied both languages at the Defense Language Institute West Coast located in Monterey, California. I haven't tried to speak Arabic in years and the last time I tried to use French was in Paris in 1997. I was the Navy representative to a conference with the French military. Since we were in Paris and the French were the hosts, they insisted on us speaking French. The American Embassy offered us translators, but I insisted on speaking French because I was thoroughly impressed with how the language rolled off my tongue and splashed across the room propelled by my deep Georgian accent. Whenever I spoke, I could tell how impressed the French were. Every Frenchmen there looked as if they were sucking on a lemon when I spoke. That evening at the social event, a couple of French Colonels came up to me, slapped me on the back, and said that after much consideration they had decided to have the remainder of the conference in English. Also, they offered to pay for my unlimited libation during any of my visits to France if I would promise to never, ever speak their language again. To date, I have kept my end of the promise.

    In Closing:

    If you have other questions you would like me to answer, send them to me and I will try to reply. The really good ones I will add to my newsletter.

    Cheers, Shipmate
    David E. Meadows

    David E. Meadows / SixthFleet.Com
    David E. Meadows
    Washington D.C.

    E-Mail readermail@SixthFleet.Com

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