Friday, February 15, 2019

What Will Be Your Author Legacy?

By T. M. Brown

Five years ago, my wife urged me to retire from the nine-to-five daily grind to write a novel that our grandchildren would enjoy reading. The first weeks entailed countless hours of investigating the basics — the what and how — of creative writing. Eventually, my inquiries led me to a God-sent relationship with a writing coach and editor, Kari Scare from Three Rivers, Michigan.

Thankfully, technology bridged the 900 miles that separated us. With Kari’s guidance and ample supply of red ink, I nurtured the original premise of a story. Word after word, page after page, revision after revision, Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories emerged thirty months later. Though a few painful bumps and bruises left their mark along the way, I now proudly enjoy sharing about my legacy of love to my grandchildren.

Of course, one book is never enough. Thanks to the insistence of my earliest readers and my new author-friends, a year after my first novel launched, Testament, An Unexpected Return, the sequel, continued the saga begun in Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories, and the third and presumably final installment is being written. Each features Theo Phillips, a recently retired publishing executive, and his wife, Liddy. Their journey began after they vacated their suburban home near Atlanta seeking to return to South Georgia, near their small-town roots. However, Theo and Liddy discovered their inquisitiveness, as they seek to settle into their Shiloh home, thrusts them into the midst of scandal and dark secrets surrounding a tragic death. In the sequel, Theo and Liddy become unlikely victims of a former resident’s mysterious return and reckless scheming.

Now what? Over the holidays as I began writing the third installment, I pursued a vital third question about crafting novels - why. An author must come to grips with the motivation and internal message that each story tells. After some soul-searching, I realized the events surrounding one of my characters had played out a true-to-life, relevant role within the main story. Without revealing too much of the story, Megan succumbed to being coerced into making a choice only a woman can make, but she learns in the story choices have consequences, and most often unintended and far-reaching too. No matter how hard anyone buries such a dark secret, eventually it surfaces to the light. I tried throughout the story to reveal a truth we should all realize, God knows all our secrets. He knew we would make the decisions we did long before we created them. Megan comes to realize that one can compound a lousy choice with more poor decisions that hurt others, but more often than not, God exposes our secrets to begin the healing process of a broken and contrite heart.

So why did I write the stories I have written and likely will continue to write? To inspire my grandchildren and readers alike to examine their choices in life and how those choices have impacted their relationships with family, friends, and most importantly with God.

To emphasize this message, throughout February, all my royalties for books sold in Coweta County, GA — where the inspiration for Shiloh began — and on Amazon so others can participate, will benefit Coweta Pregnancy Services, Newnan, GA. The campaign is duly entitled, “Megan’s Pledge.” Below is a link to find out more should you wish to take part.

So, why do you write your stories? I pray you may agree — “The testament of a man lies not in the magnitude of possessions and property left to his heirs, but the reach of his legacy long after his death.” Theo Phillips
T. M. Brown is a Southern boy at heart, although he's lived and traveled in many states far removed from his beloved boyhood roots in Georgia and Florida. He returned to North Florida several years ago while his two sons were still in school and enjoyed traveling throughout the South for business. After his youngest son went off to college, he ventured to New Orleans to complete post-graduate studies. The last fifteen years, he has preached, taught and coached in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida until his wife and he relocated outside of Atlanta where they have since retired to write, travel, and spoil grandchildren. Presenting author at 2017 & 2018 Decatur Book Festival, 2017 Milton Literary Festival, 2018 Dahlonega Literary Festival. Suspense Book 2017 finalist, Reviews & Interviews. Member of the Atlanta Writers Club, Georgia Writers Association, Chattahoochee Valley Writers Club, Georgia Writers Museum. and Broadleaf Writers Association (ATL). 2018 Best Book Award Finalist from for Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories. Shiloh Mystery Series: Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories (Jan 2018); Testament, An Unexpected Return (March 2018); Purgatory, A Progeny's Quest (TBA2019).

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Today, Valentine’s Day, Write a Love Letter to Someone You Love

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. You’re a writer, so instead of a card with a funny or trite poem, you should write a love letter to someone you know. It doesn’t have to be a spouse. It could be someone important in your life who doesn’t normally hear from you about how you feel, maybe your child, a gal/guy pal, a teacher. Everyone has someone in their life that they love. It’s time to let them know. 

So here’s my 411 on how to write a letter for someone you love. 
*Use good quality paper, with a paper weight that feels good in your hands. This is not the time to use copy paper from your computer to dash off a note. Details are important. 
*Definitely use a pen. If you want to be fancy you could use a calligraphy pen which takes the work out of making your writing look spectacular. 
*Do a rough draft first to get everything you want to say in the correct order. You could actually use the Notes app for your rough draft which gives you the ability to write while you’re waiting or commuting, etc. 
*Details such as the stamp you use convey the thought you put into the gift to your loved one. You wouldn’t want to use a “Grinch” stamp on your love letter. You want them to feel your love in the presentation as well as the gift of your words.
*Creating the letter; begin by giving an overview as to the purpose of your letter.  Recall a shared memory which is unique to just you two; tell your loved one what you love about your relationship. Be sure to include how your loved one has changed your life and end with a sentence that expresses your feelings for your loved one.

If you’re looking for more ideas re-read, DiAnna Mills SWM's, Suite T blog post from yesterday. She explores her characters language of love.

Did you know, American novelist Ernest Hemingway wrote sentimental letters to actress Marlene Dietrich, who was his platonic best friend? He wrote approximately 30 letters between 1949 to 1959. According to an article by Dietrich's daughter, Maria Riva, explains their fascinating relationship New York Times article

One of the quotes Hemingway wrote to Dietrich was, "I can't say how every time I ever put my arms around you I felt that I was home.” Awe, how beautiful to read those words. Doesn’t it make you wonder how Dietrich felt when she received them? She loved Hemingway’s letters enough to keep them. 

So how about you? 

Are you ready to write your own love letter to someone you love?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

What is Your Character’s Love Language?

By DiAnn Mills

Determining our character’s love language is a step forward in understanding the psychological landscape.

Personality preference indicates the extent of introvert or extravert, how the character communicates, views life, and interprets the world around him/her. But a love language gives us insight into understanding one of the basic needs of all humans.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs are listed in a pyramid. From the foundation to the peak:

1.          Physiological
2.          Safety
3.          Love/belonging
4.          Esteem
5.          Self-actualization

Study Maslow for an in-depth understanding of basic needs and how these affect your character. For example, every human craves love/belonging, although some deny it. The writer’s challenge is to dig deep and discover what has been nurtured and what lacks developing. Once the aspect is discovered, character growth and change can be explored and creatively woven into story.

1.          Words of affirmation
2.          Quality time
3.          Receiving gifts
4.          Acts of service
5.          Physical

Characters often have more than one love language, but one will be prominent.

A character who grew up hard and forced to be independent may soften with someone who sincerely does acts of service.

A character who received criticism all her life may respond positively to words of affirmation.

A character whose parents never spent quality time with him/her may appreciate someone sharing individual attention.

A character who grew up in an environment where gifts were played down may be moved by a tangible token of appreciation.

A character who never knew physical touch longs to experience the connection of one human to another. That character may enjoy a loving pet yet be fearful of human relationships.

Another consideration for a character’s grasp of love is the character’s view of faith. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and other religions define love according to their beliefs. For the character without faith, love is dictated by life experiences and what the character values most.

I found  three websites that offer valuable information to help writers determine the love language of a character.

How a character responds and reacts to love shows who he or she is psychologically. The internal landscape of a character has strengths and weaknesses in the list of basic needs. Begin with love to see how a character opens up or shuts down and how it moves the story forward.

How does your character show love?
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure? Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on: Facebook, Twitter, or any of the social media platforms listed at

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

7 Things to Help Writers Begin

By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine

The person that sits down to write, stares at the blank white space, can’t think of what to write. Gets up to get something to drink, comes back ready to start, only the words won’t come therefore the fingers don’t move. It never got off the ground.

How do you prevent this from happening?

o   Take notes. When an idea pops into your head, write it down.

o   When you sit down to begin writing make sure you have your notes.

o   From your notes write two paragraphs whether it makes sense or not.

o   After you read the two paragraphs ask yourself what one thought caught your attention.

o   Think of three words that describe the thought.

o   Begin a paragraph with one of those words.

o   Use the other two words in the paragraph.  Continue to write until you have 700 to 1000 words.

If you can continue writing that is great, you will reach more than that word count. If for some reason you can’t get to the 700 words. Then repeat what you’ve done.  Look at the last paragraph. What thought jumps out at you? Choose three words to describe it . . . and use one of those words to begin your paragraph and use the other two words in the paragraph. (Just concentrate on writing this, even if it doesn’t make sense.  It is important you get your creative juices flowing.)

It is important you develop and discipline yourself to write. Some write at least three to five days a week while others have goals to write daily. If you develop a habit of writing you will become more serious about your writing. Just think of the stories you could create!

Monday, February 11, 2019

More Emotional Bang for Your Book: Part Two

Emotion is internal, but by using external cues and triggers you can build a heartbeat for your novel.

  1. Visual Prompts/Setting/Descriptions—using ordinary everyday snapshots of life, situations to reflect a character’s fears, pain, and goals.

Your character is hiding something from herself, trying not to let something consume her.  What could she see, who could she meet what question could a stranger ask that might bring emotion rising to the surface and spilling onto the page?  i.e. If a character just lost her mom, having an elderly woman at the grocery store ask for assistance to reach a top-shelf item might stir up regret for not shopping with her mom. 

Descriptions are to a novel what music is to films.  When romantic music plays and the heroine looks out into a crowd, viewers wait breathlessly for the hero to appear.  Think of the Jaws-like music that gets your pulse racing just before something scary happens. What can you describe to help set a mood?

Use setting to enhance conflict or layer in emotion.  Consider this: A man plans to propose in a restaurant.  Who is at the next table?  An elderly couple holding hands, celebrating their 70th anniversary?  Or is it a couple bitterly discussing their divorce?  If the about-to-be-proposed-to heroine doesn’t want kids, yet the hero does, why not add a table with a crying child to stir up trouble? Consider how setting changes mood.  Think of the difference of a proposal at a ball game versus one at a romantic restaurant.  If a scene isn’t working, try changing the setting.

Example:  In Born at Midnight the first book in my young adult series, my heroine’s parents are divorcing.  In the first scene the father is moving out.  Not close to her mother, the heroine begs to go with him, but he refuses. Hearing her parents argue, she walks into the living room hoping they’ll stop. As she steps into the new setting, I needed to set the scene. I could’ve described the color scheme or furniture. Yet I described the fifteen framed photos on the wall of all the father-daughter trips she’d taken.  There were no mother-daughter photographs, because there were no mother-daughter trips.  Why is her father leaving her with the parent who loves her the least?

  1. Lighting and Weather are Mood Makers

Producers hire lighting directors because lighting effects mood.  Think of what would happen on a first date if the lights went out leaving the couple in pitch darkness. Imagine the heightened senses. Need more conflict in your scene? Consider having the sun blaring in a window right at your character or having a tense conversation as thunder rolls in the distance?  Use weather to enhance or contradict mood.

Example A: The sun spilled down from a sky that had those beautiful fluffy, white clouds.  The kind when you were young that you stared at to see if you could find an elephant or a giraffe.  It was the perfect day to find out you were cancer free. 

Example B:  The sun spilled down from a sky that had those beautiful fluffy, white clouds.  The kind when you were young that you stared at to see if you could find an elephant or a giraffe. It was simply too beautiful a day to tell a mother that her six-year-old daughter was dead. 
C.C. Hunter, AKA Christie Craig, born and raised in Alabama, now hangs her hat in Texas.  Author of forty books, she’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.  Whether penning her young adult or her adult romantic suspense novels, her ability to create emotional connection to the reader is her trademark.  On February 8thThis Heart of Mine, a story of young girl’s journey to receive a heart transplant that comes with the murdered donor’s memories will release in paperback.  On March 26thIn Another Life, a story of young girl who discovers she was kidnapped as a child, will release.Find more information at or  Join her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Christie Craig URLs  Twitter  Facebook Goodreads Instagram CC Hunter URLs  Twitter  Facebook

Friday, February 8, 2019

More Emotional Bang for Your Book: Part One

By  C.C. Hunter, AKA Christie Craig

Readers read to feel.  Without enough emotional bang on the page, a reader might not turn that page.  Below are two emotion building techniques seen in novels and films.

  1. Add a Pebble—an inanimate object that has an emotional significance to a character.

Most of us have something, our grandmother’s pearls or our brother’s dog tags.  Things that we’d run back into the house for if it was on fire.  I call them pebbles.  The best pebbles are connected to the character’s goal or the theme of the book.  A pebble resonates with a character’s emotional need or shows an emotional growth.  Pebbles allow you to power pack the emotion in a scene and a book. 

Example A: Think of the snow globe in While You Were Sleeping and how it connected to the heroine’s goal of getting a passport stamp.  When her fiancĂ©’s brother—whom she secretly loved—gave her the snow globe as a wedding present, the viewer’s heart broke because they knew he was the man she should marry.  If it had been any other present, it wouldn’t have carried the same emotional impact.

Example B: In Don’t Close Your Eyes, the hero, a musical savant, gave up playing the saxophone at the age of fifteen because he felt responsible for his sister’s death.  When the heroine sees the instrument in the hero’s home and asks him to play it, he refuses.  She surmises he has an emotional connection to the saxophone.  When issues arise in the relationship, and he’s been drinking, he blurts out, “I wish I deserved you.  I wish I deserved music.” Later, during the plot’s dark moment, she leaves not knowing if their relationship will work.  But first, she turns to him and asks for one thing. For him to play the saxophone. When she returns, he surprises her by playing the instrument in a restaurant.  The reader instantly knows our hero has let go of the guilt.  The reader also sees the heroine cared enough to understand the hero’s issues.  What is your character’s pebble?  Can you use this in your book?

  1. Having a Character Break a Personal Rule—showing a character when he/she is forced to change their moral compass.

Sometimes, rules are meant to be broken.  And the consequences can bring tons of emotion to the page.  When a character does something they normally wouldn’t, it ratchets up the tension.  Consider having an honest person lie because they know the truth would be too painful for someone else. 
Consider a woman with a seven-dates-before-sex rule sleeping with the hero on the first date.  What about a by-the-book teacher passing a student who didn’t quite make the grade because of circumstances.  Or a good, moral cop who plants evidence because the real evidence got thrown out of court due to a technicality.  Or having a man who never calls a girl until a week after their first date, pick up the phone the next morning. 

Example:  Consider the movie Pretty Woman.   She’s a call girl who has a rule to never kiss a John on the mouth, but she eventually gives in and kisses a John, turned hero, with passion.  By giving the character that rule and showing her break it doubles the emotion in the scene.

Monday, C.C. Hunter AKA Christie Craig will conclude with More Emotional Bang for Your Book: Part Two. 
C.C. Hunter, AKA Christie Craig, born and raised in Alabama, now hangs her hat in Texas.  Author of forty books, she’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.  Whether penning her young adult or her adult romantic suspense novels, her ability to create emotional connection to the reader is her trademark.  On February 8thThis Heart of Mine, a story of young girl’s journey to receive a heart transplant that comes with the murdered donor’s memories will release in paperback.  On March 26thIn Another Life, a story of young girl who discovers she was kidnapped as a child, will release.Find more information at or  Join her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Christie Craig URLs Twitter  Facebook Goodreads Instagram CC Hunter URLs  Twitter  Facebook

Thursday, February 7, 2019

To Be or Not to Be Yourself

By Vicki H. Moss, Contributing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

According to studies in 1990 by Kimura and Hampson, women perform on average higher on verbal skills and fine motor coordination than males, and lower on math and spatial skill than males. The following is a quote from Peirce J. Howard’s book, The Owner’s Manual of the Brain:

“This pattern prompts an obvious question: If women as a group are verbally superior, why are there not more famous female writers? Halpern (2000) points out (p. 96) that more than ability makes the writer. Such factors as having sufficient independent income, leisure, and permission to write are important.” She cites examples of Emily Dickinson and the Bronte sisters as women with private means as well as ability, opportunity, and encouragement to write.

If you recall in Little Women, female writers experienced gender constraints. Historically, women have had to hide their identities due to sexism and prejudice. While using a male pen name to get a foot in the door, many male publishers didn’t think the literary world was a suitable place for women.
One rejection by Robert Southey—England’s poet laureate—received by 20-year-old Charlotte Bronte read:  “Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life.” Luckily for later readers, Charlotte disregarded his advice and Jane Eyre was published.

Along with writers like George Eliot and George Sand, many women put out critically praised novels under the guise of a male name or initials. Even J. K. Rowling was asked by her publishers—in order to attract male readers—to change her name from Joanne to something with initials.

Louisa May Alcott wrote using the pen name A. M. Barnard. Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dudevant wrote using the pen name George Sand. Mary Ann Evans wrote using the name George Eliot.
And women weren’t the only writers to choose a pen name of the opposite sex. Tom Huff used the name Jennifer Wilde when writing bestselling romance novels. When Ben Franklin was a teen he wrote under the name “Silence Dogood.”

I love this one: John Creasey published almost 600 books using 28 pseudonyms including the name Margaret Cooke for a nom de plume.

And who would have ever guessed that some of the Nancy Drew books originally written by Carolyn Keene were actually written by many people, some of whom are men.

Then there is Dav Pilkey who penned work as Sue Denim. Did you catch that one? Pseu-donym? 
The moral to this story? Write first. Get your story out. When your manuscript is finished, then you can decide whether to use initials, pseudonyms, nom de plumes, or nom de guerres for the author’s name. Most of all, have fun with concocting an author name if you choose to travel incognito. When the truth comes out—there’s always someone who leaks tidbits like this—or should you choose to out yourself, you’ll have an article waiting in the wings to be written about why you chose your particular author name.

More publicity and advertising for your book!