Friday, February 22, 2019

Write When You Don’t Want To



By Lynette Eason


What do you do when you don’t feel like writing? Gasp! Not feel like writing? Is that even a real feeling?

Um…yes. Unfortunately, it happens. At least to me. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. I adore my job, the people I work with, and the flexibility being a self-employed writer affords me. Believe me, I don’t take it for granted. But I don’t wake up EVERY SINGLE day thinking, “Oh boy! I’m just so excited, I can’t wait to hit the keyboard!”

For those of you who do this, we are not friends and you can go away.

Ha-ha. Just kidding.

Sort of.

Anyway, for those of you who are occasionally afflicted with this “I don’t want to write today” thing, I have a few helpful tips on how to get past that.

  1. Sit down in front of your manuscript and edit. Sometimes when I edit, I’ll get a new idea to flesh out. That will generate some excitement about moving forward with the story.
  2. Get your voice recorder out and start brainstorming the next part of the story. Just start talking. It’s okay if you sound like an idiot or you stutter and stumble your way through a scene description, you’re the only one who will hear it. And you can edit it when you get it in the computer.
  3. Do something physical. But read the last part of your manuscript before you go. Then while you’re working out or walking around the block, you can be thinking about the next scene, fleshing it out in your mind, getting it ready to be put on the screen.
  4. Email a brainstorming buddy and tell her the story in a stream of consciousness telling. Don’t stop to breathe, just talk. When you’re finished, say, “Now what happens?”
  5. Sit down in front of your manuscript and tell yourself you can’t get up until you write at 10 words. Yes. 10. Then you’re allowed to go do something fun. Because I can’t write just 10 words. I always write more. Granted, sometimes it’s only 20, but at least I met my goal! Ha. Seriously, I’m willing to bet that would happen to you too.
  6. And last but not least, adopt the Nike slogan. “Just do it.” (Most necessary when deadlines loom.)

Yes, I know you think that that last one is not really the most helpful suggestion, but it is. I look at it this way. Everyone who has a job has days where he/she doesn’t want to go in to work—even when they love what they do. Writing is the same thing. It’s your job.  Unless you’re sick or otherwise incapacitated, you go to work. Although I will say this, like some dedicated people (who are unappreciated in the office environment) sometimes you go to work when you’re sick. The good thing is that, at least if you’re a writer and you work from home, you won’t spread the yuck.

Honestly, I really do love writing. I’m very excited about each project God lets me work on. Like I said earlier, I don’t take it for granted that I get to do what I get to do. I’m not whining or complaining. I’m just being honest. Some days it’s just plain hard work and some days I’m just not in the mood to go to work.  And that’s okay. As long as it’s the exception and not the rule.

And I would like to also point out that these suggestions are great for pre-pubbed writers as well. You may not have publisher deadlines, but if you don’t get a manuscript finished…you won’t have publisher deadlines.

So, what are some other suggestions you could add to the list? What do you do when you MUST write, and you just don’t want to? I can ALWAYS use more ideas!
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Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of Oath of Honor, as well as the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, the Hidden Identity series, and the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of two ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. She has a master’s degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com



Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Winning Book Launch



By Chris Pepple, Writer-At-Large, Southern Writers Magazine


I was recently invited to a book launch in Nashville, Tenn. I was excited to go because I know people who work at the nonprofit that was benefiting from the event and because I still have friends in Nashville that I could visit. I didn’t do much research beforehand, assuming this event would be much like other book launches I have attended. I was wrong. This event ranks as one of the best book launches I have been to or even read about.


The author, Jennifer Clinger, was releasing her first book, a memoir titled Delivered:The Fragmented Memories of a Former Streetwalker. A first book is so hard to launch successfully. Sure, you have people who you know that will buy a copy. To be successful, however, you have to market your book to people who have no idea who you are.

So, here’s what made the launch amazing:

  • A team of people helped the author plan the event. Volunteers who know the author used their talents to bring new ideas to the evening. A team approach is also useful because each team member can invite a unique set of guests to the event. Invitations can go out to several communities just through the planners.
  • A logo was designed for the event that was eye-catching and could be used on social media posts. The logo helps brand the event and make all posts consistent.
  • David Hutchens, a storytelling consultant, helped the author select the passages to read. A consultant can help the author know which passages will give insight into the book without revealing too much. The audience needs to be left with the desire to buy the book so they can finish the story.
  • A wonderful group, The Bittersweets, played their music between each reading. They chose songs with lyrics that related to the experiences of the author. The music engaged the diverse age group at the event.
  • A nonprofit group received the proceeds from the event. This association with Thistle Farms drew in an even larger audience than an author could do alone. The organization’s CEO even introduced the author.
  • A press release was sent to many different media groups, and bloggers like me were invited to join in the festivities.

The event was a winning evening for everyone. I met a new author and was entertained by a great band. The author got her story out to a very diverse group of people. We all left with something to talk about, which will allow the book to keep getting publicity.

Take note, authors! A book launch for a first book can be hugely successful with the right approach.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

How to Get Started on that New Book: That’s the Hard Part



By B. J. Robinson, Author of the Azalea Plantation Series


But it doesn’t have to be! The first things I do are pray, reflect, and visualize. I have a title and a cover photo before I start. Where do I get ideas? From the news, reading other authors’ books and reviewing them, and using life experiences.

For example, my new release is titled A Southern Spring: A Story from a Backyard Swing. I read a book titled A Southern Season: Stories from a Front Porch Swing that propelled the idea for my latest book. In this way, I am helping fellow authors, and they help me. I left a review for them on Amazon and truly enjoyed each of their stories. Linda W. Yezak's "Ice Melts in Spring," tells the story of a woman who lost her husband when his boat capsized. Eva Marie Everson's "Lillie Beth in Summer" is about a young widow who lost her husband in Vietnam. Eva was my writing mentor, and I have read and reviewed most of her novels. In Claire Fullerton's "Through an Autumn Window," a daughter returns home for her mother's funeral. In Ane Mulligan's "A Magnolia Blooms in Winter, "A young Southern girl returns home from New York City at her mother's request for help with a local church play. Their stories gave me kindling for my own. This is an example of how reading other authors’ work can help you and them at the same time, and to be successful in the writing world, you need to be able to work with other authors.

Many times I get ideas social media or my own life experiences. For the cover of my latest one, I photographed my swing, which has two hearts on the back of it. Everyone says they love the cover. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on one, so I was able to use my own picture for the cover. I used my own life experience in writing and using my swing as a writing spot. As a Southern girl born and reared in Louisiana, I also used my life experience.

Take a step by snapping pictures you could possibly use as your own cover. Be willing to work with other authors and read and review them. As my mother always said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. If you go around leaving reviews of ones after all the hard work an author goes through to write a novel, you are only hurting yourself, as my mother might say, “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” The more you read other authors, the more ideas you will gain and reading them will help improve your writing. Be positive and be encouraged that you, too, can hone your skill and craft while helping other authors, and you can write your own novel.

Blessings from a Southern writer,
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Best-Selling, Award-winning, Multi-published Author, B. J.Robinson is mom to a golden retriever and a husky with a husband, five children, thirteen grandchildren, and three great grandchildren, and a love for writing. She has over 33 numerous titles for readers to choose from written in various genres from inspirational, Christian, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and mystery with each title a new adventure in life’s God-given journey. You’ll also find short stories amongst her work. Won’t you journey with her through life’s obstacles and enjoy characters you’ll root for as they fight tough decisions in everyday life. Social Media links: https://barbarajrobinson.blogspot.com



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Presenting the Truth as Needed, I was 12 When My Son was Born



By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor For Southern Writers Magazine


I recently met a lady that was noted for her marketing ability. She had originated a fantastic idea for retail outlets and was sought out to speak to community organizations like the Chamber of Commerce. She began each speech with some personal information so the group can get to know her better. In telling them about her family she mentions her children, their ages and the fact that she was 12 when her oldest son was born. She says she immediately has their attention and their judgement.

She then tells the group their expressions just changed dramatically. She says she feels this is due to their sudden change in their opinion of her which possibly is negative. She is aware of everyone’s explanation they have in their minds of her situation that brought her to having a son at the age of 12. She is about to clear their minds of the negativity and clear the way for her message by presenting the truth.

·         It is true she was 12 when her oldest child was born.
·         It is true he is now 49 and she is 61.
·         It is true she is not his birth mother
·         It is true he is her adopted son
·         It is true she adopted her oldest son when she was 23 and he was 11.  

She presented it in the way she did to get the greatest affect for her marketing message she was about to present to them. It was presented to them to teach them all they presume to be true about retail marketing could be true but is not the only truth. It prepares them to now be open minded and to listen to her message. There is a lesson in this for writers.

This is not something you don’t see every day. News headlines, TV reports and commentaries many times present such a truth as a teaser to get you to listen, watch or read their story. You too can do so in presenting the truth about your story or one of your characters. You can reveal the truth in layers as needed. How do you do so? It is simple.

Make a list of the truths as I have done above with our speaker’s truths. I listed them in the order they were presented, slowly revealing the adoption. You too should make a list of the truths and after doing so choose how you would reveal them to your readers. You may want to do as our speaker did and lead your readers in one direction then quickly turn them in another. Present the truth as needed to benefit the impact of the story.
  

Monday, February 18, 2019

Finding the Deep Theme that Drives Your Writing



By Kay Kendall


Although I was a professional writer for thirty years, I came late to the world of fiction, only fifteen years ago. Before that I was a public relations exec, living by my pen—and then computer. My creative heroes/heroines were novelists, but I didn’t see myself in that role. I was a decent writer but feared I had nothing interesting to say.

In college an English professor asked if I wrote. I replied, “No, but I think about it.” He cocked his head, saying, “If not by now, then you never will.” I was twenty. Nothing rattling around my head seemed worthy. So I soldiered on. You know, doing the usual—grad school, marriage, child, career. Until one day I took an aptitude test and saw how much I wanted to write fiction.

My first manuscript, a literary novel, never found a publisher. A knowledgeable bookseller told me becoming a published author would be easier if I left literary fiction for a popular genre. Mysteries were my thing, puzzle solving drew me in. I honored my love of Nancy Drew and developed a similar character, but a bit older, forced by circumstances to find a killer. My protagonist bore a strong resemblance to the one in my unpublished trying-to-be-literary work. Both women were trying to find places in a world controlled by men, seeing the inequities but battling in a more or less ladylike fashion against them. My first mystery sold, and then the second in the series. My third was published last week, a prequel.

All four manuscripts are different. Plots, settings, motives for murder. However, there’s an underlying theme. Each shows a woman buffeted by sexism. The theme doesn’t hit you over the head, but it lurks underneath all my writing.

I didn’t set out to do this. It just happened. Looking back I can see signs, but I didn’t recognize these for what they were.

You may not know ahead of time what will propel your fiction. Only when you begin to write does your subconscious take over and show you what your theme is. But here’s a suggestion. If you want to try to see what motivates you to write, then analyze what you think about most. What stories are you drawn to?

Review the big questions in literature. Love and loss. Good and evil. Courage and heroism. Prejudice. Corruption. Some will draw you, others less, and you can narrow your focus. Indeed, perhaps you have a story you’re dying to tell. I did, and my plots showed what I most yearned to figure out.
David Bowie said, “There are half a dozen subjects that I return to time and time again….My favorite writers do that, hunt down the same topic or theme from different directions each time.”

Now I’m plotting my next mystery. Again my heroine will have a male name, like her predecessors. She’s Sam. The others were Austin and Walter (aka Wallie). My Texas grandmother was Walter (aka Wattie), after her father the judge. From childhood on, I imagined how that male name must’ve shaped my grandmother growing up. Did it help develop her strong character and encourage her to shoot, fish, and ride just as well as any man? Yet she grew up to be a church-going matron who wore picture hats and lacey dresses. My dad was her big strapping son, and two daughters were dainty and nothing like her. But I was.

To use a current term loosely, my grandmother was my spirit animal, and the path she followed has influenced not just my life but all my fiction. I never quite knew it was happening, until I looked up and saw it. Becoming a writer is a fascinating journey. Here’s hoping it will be deeply rewarding for you too.
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Kay Kendall writes the Austin Starr mystery series. The first two books capture the spirit and turbulence of the 1960s. Desolation Row (2013) and Rainy Day Women (2015) show Austin as a young Texas bride, forced to the frontlines of societal change by her draft-resisting husband. Austin copes by turning amateur sleuth. The latter mystery won two Silver Falchion Awards in 2016 at Killer Nashville. Note the book titles show she more than adores the music of Bob Dylan. After You've Gone (February 2019) is a prequel featuring Austin Starr’s grandmother who comes of age during the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition. Kay’s work in progress brings Austin and her grandmother together in 1970 to solve a relative’s murder in Vienna that involves Russian spies. In all her fiction, Kay shows how patterns of human nature repeat down the decades, no matter what historical age one reads about. Before Kay began to write fiction, she was an award-winning international public relations executive, working in the US, Canada, the Soviet Union, and Europe. Ask her about working in Moscow during the Cold War. With a degrees in history, Kay makes sure to get historical settings and details right. She and her Canadian husband live in Texas with three rescue rabbits and one bemused spaniel. Her social media links: http://AustinStarr.com  www.facebook.com/KayKendallAuthor /   @kaylee_kendall  Kay blogs monthly on 3rd Wednesday of each month at https://thestilettogang.blogspot.com/

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
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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 AmericanBookFest.com 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).http://tmbrownauthor.com/megans-pledge-aids-local-pregnancy-services-center   https://www.facebook.com/TMBrownauthor/


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?