Friday, July 21, 2017

First Time Blogging as an Author


By Christopher Myers


Hello, Chris Myers here. I have over 30 years of professional experiences in marketing, strategy, customer communications, brand management and creative writing with FedEx, AT&T, Thomas&Betts and McDonald’s, among other companies. I also hold a MBA in International Marketing from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. From a creative writing perspective, I have won some writing awards and am a two-time author including the most recently released IN JUST TEN DAYS, a political/spy thriller originally set in Washington, D.C., with stops in Beijing, Sydney, London and yes in Memphis among other places! It is a fast-paced story with lots of action, deceptions, car chases, romance and I am told by my readers a very interesting twist at the end. This is the first in a series with the next one, ST. CHRISTOPHER, due out later in 2017 or early 2018.

I am a first-time blogger, so I am not really certain what I should tell you in the initial post, but I believe one of the most important aspects of creative writing is PASSION and good PRE-PLANNING. Specifically, you hear people should write about what they know, and that is very true, but also really enjoy the subject that you are writing about. I have read so many wonderful books, articles, stories, etc.  over the years that really captured my attention and imagination because I could feel the author’s energy and interest in the story, characters, plot and putting me in that person’s mindset. That is how I write, too. I truly invite the reader to try to imagine what I am thinking about for a particular moment in the book, chapter or with a specific character. I really think that is what readers want today – fast-paced, good character development, and a sense of the author’s creativity and imagination to “invite the reader into the author’s world”. Also, I am a big believer in pre-planning, meaning, I spend a lot of time conceptualizing each chapter, character and part of the story from beginning to the end before I put one word on paper, and then write and re-write a more comprehensive outline to review and update. I must have updated the outline for IN JUST TEN DAYS a dozen times! I think that makes for a better story and book, in my opinion.

I look forward to your feedback and am happy to discuss your ideas or writing anytime. 
________________________________________________________________ 

My name is Christopher Myers but I go by Chris. I enjoy writing about political intrigue, events and situations, with some twists and turns and a bit of humor mixed in. This is my favorite topic because I like the subject and that I went to college, lived and worked in our nation's capital for 10 years and love going back whenever I can! Traveling to fun and interesting places, sports (those I can still play and others I enjoy watching like my daughter in competitive volleyball) is another priority and movies - I LOVE GOING TO THE MOVIES! My personal email is clmyers1229@hotmail.com. We can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Novel Inspiration via John Grisham


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine


In a recent interview, John Grisham gives a glimpse into how his hobby inspired his 30th book, Camino Island

It's been 25 years since Grisham has done a book tour and current technology has allowed everyone to share in the experience via a podcast titled Book Tour with John Grisham. Available at iTunes and Google Play.

Watching the podcast of Grisham may give you ideas for promoting your own book/books. It could even provide you with inspiration for your own book tour. 

I'm a fan of John Grisham. We were both born in the same town and both raised and worked in a bigger river town. His books have the ability to stay with me, and his plot lines flit through my mind from time to time. He is a collector of books, as am I. Albeit, his book collection is classic first editions, and mine are not. Sigh. I'm now collecting signed Grisham first editions, wishing I had started sooner. 

The plot line of Grisham's new book finds inspiration in his own hobby of collecting first editions. As Grisham says in his interview, "I collect first editions. I have a number of Faulkners, Steinbecks, and Hemingways. Fitzgerald only had five (novel) manuscripts but a ton of short stories, which he was better known for when he was alive. After his death, Gatsby became his big masterpiece and his best-known work. But Faulkner had forty books, forty manuscripts. They are all stored in one place, at the library at the University of Virginia. I’ve seen them; they’re very well taken care of. But there are forty of them; they would be kind of hard to steal. Hemingway’s stuff is scattered, as is Steinbeck’s. And that left Fitzgerald. As I learned when I was doing the initial research, all five manuscripts are in one place, at the Firestone Library at Princeton. If you’re going to steal stuff that’s truly priceless, that’s a good place to start."

I love that Grisham has written a book about rare book collections and picked F. Scott Fitzgerald books as the focus. "Grisham tells CBS This Morning, a list of writing tips:
  1. Do write a page every day
  2. Don't write the first scene until you know the last
  3. Do write your page each day at the same place and time
  4. Don't write a prologue
  5. Do use quotation marks with dialogue
  6. Don't keep a thesaurus within reaching distance. 
  7. Do read each sentence three times in search of words to cut out. 
  8. Don't introduce 20 characters in your first chapter. 
Grisham also weighed in on plotting in the CBS interview. He talked about writing and says the idea that an author will create a great character and that character will then take over the action is 'total B.S.' Plotting takes work. You have to carefully plot and outline your story before you start. Especially if you are writing mysteries, or suspense or thrillers where the plots can be very intricate. It takes a lot of work. I spend a lot of time outlining before I write the first word. Prologues are 'gimmicks to suck you in.'" 

What hobbies do you have that could provide a inspiration for your next book?




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Writers Do You Do Groups


By Kristi Bradley


Writer’s groups can be an acquired taste. Some swear by them. Others swear at them.

I’m personally a fan, or at least a fan of my club. I shopped around for a writers group when I decided to seek publication for what is now MYSTA, a paranormal romantic suspense, available at www.darkoakpress.com/Mysta.html, Amazon and other outlets. In fact, I tried on several groups, had a few bad experiences too before I found a good fit with Malice in Memphis Mystery Writers. I didn’t really consider myself a mystery writer at the time, but I was intrigued by the talent in the group and the temptation of a publication credit they offer their members by issuing anthologies.

So I pondered, and realized most fiction centers on a mystery in some form or fashion. Could be as simple as the secret the hero and heroine are keeping from each other to the intricate political thriller with constant twists and turns that keep you on edge until the end and then the rug is yanked from under you again.

Even horror revolves around mystery. What happened to the mild-mannered man that turns him into a killer after dark? Why is the house haunted? Who died that won’t go toward the light? Life itself is a mystery. So I joined Malice in Memphis.

And learned I knew nothing about writing.

But you know what? The founders of the group already well established with their publishing careers, took the time to share their knowledge and experiences with us newbies. I can’t thank them enough for their help and encouragement.

Need help with Point of View? Point of who?

Plot holes? That anything like black holes?

Rejections? Probably have hundreds between us. Crooked agent? You betcha. Theft of work? 

Someone has already been there, done that. You can keep that particular T-Shirt, please!

Malice offers invaluable programming for our membership which includes professional guests such as publishers and editors to police detectives, forensic technicians and paranormal researchers.
So don’t be afraid to try out a writers group. Walk away if it doesn’t feel right and try another. It might take some time to find what you’re looking for. Some of our members drive an hour and a half to reach us. The purpose of a good writers group is to provide a means of inspiring the craft of writing, and to encourage and assist each member toward the goal of publication. Plus, it makes a world of difference to associate with like-minded people who understand the trials of the business and the voices in our heads.
_____________________________________________________________________
Kristi Bradley was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, she disappeared into parts unknown after a brief marriage to a wanna-be-crime lord, lived under an alias while gaining self-defense and weapons training, only to re-emerge as a seemingly normal wife, mother of three, step-mother of one, grandmother of three, owned by three dogs and three cats, lots of threes to thwart questions about her suspicious past. She is President for Malice in Memphis Mystery Writers Group and writes and paints her own versions of reality. Her first full-length paranormal romantic suspense MYSTA is now available from Dark Oak Press. You can find her short story A Haunting in Midtown in Malice in Memphis Ghost Stories. Also, her short stories Murder in Midtown and Voodoo Village can be found in Malice in Memphis Bluff City Mysteries, also published by Dark Oak Press. Please give her author page a LIKE on Facebook. She’d hate to have to hunt you down...Check out Malice at www.maliceinmemphis.com or on Facebook. You can find me at www.facebook.com/KristiBradley101/ or email me at kristibradleywrites@gmail.com.



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Do You Feel Fragmented?


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


Well, I am sure we all, at one time or another, have felt fragmented. You know that moment you feel like you are broken into bits and pieces. Hopefully, we don’t stay that way too long, it can be debilitating. Or those times we are utterly disorganized and having a hard time pulling things together.

Now, that’s what a fragmented sentence is like. They are bits and pieces of words but they don’t make a complete sentence.  Why? They’re lacking a proper subject-verb relationship within an independent clause.  So what is an independent clause? Any group of words containing both a subject and a verb and can stand on its own. To me the fragmented sentence is like having a few pieces of the puzzle Without all the pieces I can’t finish, therefore I won’t see the whole picture. To find more info on fragmented sentences check Capital Community College website

There are times we do use fragmented sentences in writing, like when we are trying to convey a special tone or meaning. Here are a couple of examples from Moonraker by Ian Fleming and Journey Home by Edward Abbey: “He looked levelly at the great red face across the desk. It's a remarkable case-history. Galloping paranoia. Delusions of jealousy and persecution. Megalomaniac hatred and desire for revenge." (Ian Fleming, Moonraker, 1955)

Read more at this link"The hawk sailing by at 200 feet, a squirming snake in its talons. Salt in the drinking water. Salt, selenium, arsenic, radon and radium in the water in the gravel in your bones." (Edward Abbey, Journey Home) 

A fragmented sentence can be a useful tool to a writer if used correctly. It can get across what a writer wants to say using fewer words. So when you see that line under a sentence you’ve written, go back, reread the sentence, does it need to be revised? Is it conveying what you want to say and the way you want to say it?




Monday, July 17, 2017

Pausing Between Poems: Try Not to Fret When Words "Fail" You


By Terri Kirby Erickson


I've learned over the years, after authoring five collections of poetry, numerous published essays, guest columns, and magazine articles, not to panic when words fail me.  Sometimes my heart, mind, and soul need a break from language—time to just "be" and to take in the wonders of this gorgeous and ever-changing world of ours, without translating my experiences into poems or stories.  At least, not yet. 

Weeks may pass, even months, without my having written anything more than emails to friends and family, and signing the occasional greeting card.  It used to scare me when I wasn't writing.  I'd look at my previous work, books of mine sitting on the coffee table, and wonder how I'd written them and why the "magic" had left me. 

I know now, after a decade of writing (and sometimes not writing) poetry for publication, that taking time off from sitting in front of my computer screen, fingers flying over the keyboard, is a necessary part of the process (for me, anyway!) and that doing "nothing" isn't really "nothing" to a writer.  Taking in what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell in such a way as to recall it vividly for the purposes of writing about it later, is living in the moment at its finest. 

When I hear or read "self-help" type statements like how important it is to be "present" in our own lives, I know without a doubt that I have been and continue to be present and accounted for unless I'm actively writing, which usually means I've left the "now," altogether—this room, this house, this place in time—and have entered the sacred space of recall and reflection from which my best writing flows. 

Of course, others may work best when they get up every morning and start writing something, anything, regardless of how they feel.  Personally, I have to be motivated, moved, and inspired in order to write a poem that, in my view, others might want to read.  If my writing is forced the poems might look pleasant on the page, structurally speaking, but they have no heartbeat, which is the difference between writing what might be a halfway decent, though unmemorable poem, or one your readers won't soon forget.

And I have realized, through experience, that the "dam" of unwritten words will eventually break and the thoughts, feelings, and impressions over however long I've been "away" will coalesce into an attempt to capture on paper what I experienced in real life, or what I make up or imagine as a result of those experiences.  And if this doesn't happen as snappily as I'd like, well, patience is the key.  A writer writes, either now or later.  What we do in the meantime, is to live our lives.  There is no better inspiration than that.
________________________________________________________________________ 
Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of five full-length collections of award-winning poetry, including her latest book, Becoming the Blue Heron (Press 53, 2017). Her work has appeared in the 2013 Poet’s Market, Ted Kooser’s "American Life in Poetry," Asheville Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, JAMA, Literary Mama, NASA News & Notes, North Carolina Literary Review, story South, The Southern Poetry Anthology (Texas Review Press), The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor, Verse Daily, and many others. Awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, Nazim Hikmet Poetry Award, Atlanta Review International Publication Prize, Gold Medal in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and a Nautilus Silver Book Award. She lives in North Carolina.​  Her website is www.terrikirbyerickson.com  Her bio page is at Press 53:  http://www.press53.com/BioTerriKirbyErickson.html  This is  her the link to her Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/terri.k.erickson . Her books are  available on Amazon and other Internet sites, and can be ordered at any bookstore.You can contact her at tkerickson@triad.rr.com. She loves to hear from readers! 





Friday, July 14, 2017

How I Get to Know My Characters


By Jill Eileen Smith


Some writers are great at plotting a story. Me? Not so much. At least not when I first began to write. My sons on the other hand – they understood plot. I remember the day I was trying to write a novella, crying over the computer because I couldn’t figure out how to put it all together. My oldest said, “Come on, Mom. I’ll show you.” And he used the movie, “You’ve Got Mail” to help me. For this visual girl, watching the structure was far more help than reading a how-to book about story.

Plotting isn’t quite as daunting now, but over time I realized that I prefer to get to know my characters first. How can I tell what they are going to do in the story, if I don’t know them?

Starting a story with character development has become my favorite part of the craft. I love making what my friend Deborah Raney dubbed an “Idea Board”. I used to make them out of poster board and pictures of people from catalogs. But when I’m writing biblical fiction set in the Middle East with characters that aren’t my nationality, I’ve found the Internet a better place to search for Jewish, Arab, Persian, Egyptian, or African characters.

I don’t use poster board any longer, but I do copy and paste photos of models or actors from those countries and “cast” them onto a blank page or into Scrivener and assign them various roles. In Redeeming Grace, my main character Ruth was cast first, then Boaz and Naomi and lastly the side characters. I’ve found Scrivener a great place to write out their characteristics, their part in the story, and anything else that I initially imagine.

Those initial traits will change as I study the biblical and historical setting and culture, but the Idea Board gives me a visual to work from. As the movie, “You’ve Got Mail” gave me the visual for a romance plot, the pictures and prompts in Scrivener help me to look long at the photos and imagine. What were they thinking when this happened? How did they feel? Why did they make that choice?

As I imagine, I create paragraph summaries to interweave the plot and characters. Though I would identify myself as a partial seat-of-the-pants writer, I have to have an outline to work from. So first characters and the Idea Board, then the paragraph summary of the plot, which all comes after I’ve done at least some initial study of my subject. Then the first draft – my least favorite part begins. But this is where I solidify the “getting-to-know-you” phase with my characters. And in my experience the motives and emotions of the characters will only touch the reader if I do the hard work of trying to understand those characters, and perhaps understand myself a little bit better in the process.
______________________________________________________________________________ 
Jill Eileen Smith is the author of Desert Princess (ebook short) #1 Loves of King Solomon series, the Wives of the Patriarchs series, the upcoming Daughters of the Promised Land series, and the bestselling author of the Wives of King David series. When she isn't writing, she can often be found reading, biking, traveling, spending time with friends, or snugging her feline writing buddy Tiger. She especially enjoys spending time with her family.  To learn more about Jill or for more information about her books, visit her website at www.jilleileensmith.com. You can also contact Jill at jill@jilleileensmith.com. She loves hearing from her readers.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Enjoying CAVU


By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


You may have heard the term CAVU. It is a meteorologist term used among aviators and means Ceiling and Visibility Unrestricted. An aviator’s dream when it comes to flying conditions.

For sailors we hear the term clear sailing. Good weather and favorable winds as far as the eye can see. Sailors like aviators will proceed with little concerns due to perfect conditions. Mentally it is a great place to be.

Both terms have been used in other ways. For aviators CAVU may also mean something desirable or sought after. Clear sailing is used to express the anticipation of easy progress.  As writers we have situations when beginning a short story or book we see unrestricted ceiling and visibility and clear sailing. Our minds are clear and the path appears to be well determined.  We then begin our journey with confidence and the expectations of easy progress. But there is something we must remember.

Both terms were originated is earlier times. CAVU was a term originated during the biplane era. The term actually referred to a ceiling of 10,000 feet and 10 miles visibility. Biplanes seldom flew higher than 10,000 feet due to oxygen limitations so that height was considered unrestricted. As for clear sailing it too came about in the days of sailing where perfect conditions were determined by eyesight so it was limited to as far as the eye can see. Today with planes traveling at altitudes of 30,000 feet and 600 miles per hour, 10,000 feet and 10 miles seems limited. As for clear sailing, today determination is made not by eyesight but by weather satellites. As in earlier days this can change at any time. So as writers what do we do?

When we begin with CAVU and clear sailing in our hearts and minds we go with it. Unlike these terms our minds are unlimited and unrestricted. It can be a great place to be. Oh there will be a need or an opportunity to change courses but this won’t be due to an outside influence. It will be your decision to change courses so you can make your writing more interesting.

Writers have those moments when an idea hits them, a story seems clear from beginning to end and the writing is easy. That is when we take advantage of the clarity of the moment. Full sails and clear sailing can be real for writers. When this feeling, this clarity hits go with it. Write and enjoy CAVU!