Thursday, July 18, 2019

Southern Writers Magazine’s Summer Reading Catalog is Live



By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

It’s Summer, but it isn't really summer until you lay down a towel, and soak in some rays while enjoying a great book. Ahhhhh summer reading, I love it! Don’t you?

Are you stumped to find a great summer read? Fret no more, Southern Writers Magazine’s Summer Reading catalog is live and ready for you to view and pick your next great book to read. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

What’s in Your Writer’s Sandbox?



By DiAnn Mills


Searching for ways to keep a writer creative and engaged can be a challenge. We want to avoid boredom and ho-hum writing at all costs. That’s why writers need a sandbox full of favorite toys to help dig into unforgettable fiction and nonfiction.

Space
The perfect spot for us to write is where our mind leads. Our imaginations should never exist within the confines of our sandbox. If our space is cramped and dull, we need to dribble some of the sand outside the boundaries and see what develops.

Our excitement for a project doesn’t always occur with our fingers placed on a keyboard.

Search for new places to write and at varying times during the day. Add music, trickling water, or a change of scenery to build a mobile sandbox that can travel with us anywhere.

Sand
The erosion of rocks and minerals forms sand. We find it on beaches, in landscaping, in the manufacture of glass, and in an ingredient for concrete. It’s fine or coarse, different colors, and sizes. The person using the sand chooses its purpose and destination … like words strung together in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Our hearts and minds fill with ideas. While one grain of sand means little, adding more allows the expressive person to compile interesting stories and information pieces. Start a file of “grains of sand” to keep the writing muse energized.

Shovel
Shovels move things around. In our unique sandbox we scoop up our treasures. Sometimes we let the jewels sift through our fingers to see where they fall. Other times we place them back in the sandbox for a burst of imagination on another day. But as we watch the concepts trickle and fall, we find the unexpected. Those surprising moments of inspiration carry us forward. We place the nuggets aside and thrust our shovel again into the sand to see where our artistry takes us.

Bucket
No sandbox is complete without a bucket. The bucket is our storehouse of writing prompts—topical phrases or text to take us on an adventure. These tools get us in the mood to play and they vary depending on what needs to be written. Prompts can be as simple as reading poetry, getting lost in another book, or a special meet-up with writing buds.

Our bucket is filled with innovation. We can take it anywhere to find writing ideas. I once chose to pick blueberries when my plot refused to come together. Four hours later, I had my storyline and two pies. Consider a trip to the grocery, shop for something new, plant flowers, yank out weeds, host a party, bake, visit the beach, hike in the mountains, organize closets, work on a hobby, or other sources of activity.

The equipment in a writer’s sandbox depends on the genre, time restraints, personality, and a twist of whim. Whatever sparks the writer’s creative soul and helps to build an exciting project should be sprinkled with gems of sand and enthusiasm.

What is in your writer’s sandbox?
____________________________________________________________
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 the 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 diannmills.com


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Your Grand Opening!



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


Yes, the release date of an author’s book is like a “Grand Opening”. If you notice in retail when a new store opens, they pull out all the plugs and start advertising. They want as many people as possible to come to their opening day. For an author that translates into the more buzz you can create leading up to that opening day (release date) the more turnout (sales of your books) you are going to have.

You must do what you can to capture your readers in unusual ways. One author I know, rented a billboard sign, so that people driving to work every day would see that sign. She had a photo of herself, a title that got your attention in big letters, short description and her website. It brought in several hundred hits a day on her website. She started marketing and promoting her book on her website before it was released. She put press releases out, on all the venues how to purchase a signed copy of her book. Prepared and sent out post on social media, emailed list of people with release day. 

She got 95,000 hits on her website just by doing this.

Look for the unusual to market and promote you and your book. Yes, it did cost that author some money, but to her it was worth it because she spent a lot of time and effort on writing her book.

For authors you want to find free places to list your book, but you will also have to use places to pay for ads. Make them count. Where you buy ad space, will be able to give you good pointers on how to use the promotion to your best advantage. Be wise, plan your advertising out. Be consistent with it. 

Advertising before the book is released is smart. You can start out with small ads and build up as you get to the “Grand Release”. This is part of the nature of selling anything.

Advertising is necessary. It is the best way to be noticed and it must be consistent. That’s how we know about John Grisham, James Patterson, Coca Cola, McDonalds, Home Depot–through advertising. There also must be a variety of things you do along the way to get attention for your books. Don’t be afraid to step out of your box. It’s worth it to build your name as an author and sell a lot of books. To hear someone tell you how much he or she enjoyed your book is wonderful.

You’ve brought joy, pleasure, and happiness to someone else.

Be Unique.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Writing with Purpose-Part Two


By Randy Kay

Today, in part 2 of “Writing with Purpose,” I’m writing a fiction book about a character who happens upon an evil plot, and this brings my character to a moral conundrum that challenges his faith. While this book represents a departure from my works of non-fiction and self-help articles, it remains faithful to my purpose. Indeed, I’ve tested the prototype manuscript with sample readers, and some have made comments like “it changed my life’s direction” or “gave me a clearer sense of my own inner conflicts.”
At times, we become prisoners of our thoughts, which is why writing with purpose can be cathartic. Even if one person is positively affected by your writing, it’s a success. If it entertains, great. If it edifies, BRAVO!  When we begin unpacking what we hold inside of our hearts we can experience a creative transformation that transitions thought to impact. It is a restorative process. Writing your feelings, passions, and thoughts to express whatever has been a burden to your soul can be a tremendous release. It creates a point where you can begin again with transparency.
The beauty of writing with purpose is that it caused me to experience a deeper reflection of my life. I analyzed situations from a perspective I was incapable of accomplishing years prior. In a sense, it was as if maturity helped me to understand my potential, my identity, and how experiences formed my personal mission statement. I rejoiced with the vision that was released within me, and I now use it to mentor others so that I’m not just “hanging out” in life.
Writing motivates and inspires people in many ways. The articles and books that I write are always qualified by their ability to add positive value to the lives of others. My writing is meant to help people learn something that I can offer or that others struggle with in their career and life. Basically, it’s our responsibility to share what we know to help others avoid unnecessary conflict, devastating failure, or simply gain insight about something that can enhance their ability to thrive. Writing is very much about teaching people the wisdom born through our own life.
Here are a few ways to write with purpose by asking these questions:
·         “What has caused me to fail, and what did I learn that I can pass onto others?”
·          “What’s my unique voice? Am I a problem solver, a motivator, an empathizer, or an entertainer?”
·         “When someone reads what I write, what should that person do differently, or how should that person feel differently?”
·         “What is the legacy I wish to leave behind – something that will outlast me?”
·         “What can I learn through my writing?” Now, turn that around and use that as the underlying purpose for your writing.
·         “What is my greatest pain point, and how did I turn that pain into gain?”
__________________________________________________ 
Randy Kay is the Chief Learning Officer of PACEsetters (http://pacesetters.training), a leader in human development and the first to introduce a validated course on thriving skills. He is also Chairman and CEO of TenorCorp, a diversified strategic development firm. Randy Kay is an author of six books, and the author of Dying to Meet Jesus, due for release January 7, 2020 by Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing. Earlier in his career he served as CEO of a biotech company and a media company, commercial executive with companies like Johnson & Johnson, and chairman or board member for numerous philanthropic organizations. Since graduating from Northwestern University, Kay has trained over one million persons and has been the leader for over twenty different organizations. His first book, Daily Keys to Success, covers every topic related to success - day-by-day - 366 topics brimming with ideas, tools, and tactics for living life to the fullest, and includes the collective experience of generations of success experts through one comprehensive book arranged by calendar day for daily growth. Subsequent books include The Power to Thrive, based on a 30-year multidisciplinary study of exceptional leaders; and, The 22 Most Important Things.Kay has written for magazines including Forbes, Inc., and the Wall Street Journal, and has been interviewed by various broadcasting channels across the United States Training Website: http://pacesetters.training Author Blog: http://randykayauthor.com  Podcast: http://randykaypodcast.com



Friday, July 12, 2019

Writing with Purpose-Part 1



By Randy Kay

I learned to write with purpose when I discovered why I write. It began by developing a process starting with this simple question, “Does this help my readers?” Helping others overcome challenges is my writing theme. Yours may be different. A writing theme promotes a passion, something that you can uniquely impart to the reader based on an expertise or calling. It says something like: “I’m making a positive difference in someone’s life, and this is how….” Having a theme for what you do qualifies everything with purpose. If someone is writing to simply “entertain,” then he/she can get lost in a myriad of choices. But, if someone’s writing is to “help others,” then that person can draw from his or her passion and abilities to write with a nobility of intention. And that makes you a writer with purpose.   
My latest book started after I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea to help others overcome brokenness – seminal events that caused devastation. My writing began with a piping cup of coffee and notations of those kinds of life altering trials in my own life. When the writing flowed, I did not share my successes, but my failures. Tears followed several pages as I relived my hardest times, and the sufferings of those I’ve loved. The result was Dying to Meet Jesus, which is being published by Chosen/Baker Publishing for a January 7, 2020 launch. Another project was born from years of training over one million people. My research project to uncover the skills for thriving lasted decades, and produced a book and course called, The Power to Thrive!
I typically write when some nagging problem boils over into my ability to help solve it. Even if it goes nowhere, at least I’ve been faithful to my own purpose to help others succeed in an often-challenging world. It always starts with answering why am I writing, and does it fit with my purpose for helping others succeed. The second part of my blog post will appear on Monday.
_____________________________________________________
Randy Kay is the Chief Learning Officer of PACEsetters (http://pacesetters.training), a leader in human development and the first to introduce a validated course on thriving skills. He is also Chairman and CEO of TenorCorp, a diversified strategic development firm. Randy Kay is an author of six books, and the author of Dying to Meet Jesus, due for release January 7, 2020 by Chosen, a division of Baker Publishing. Earlier in his career he served as CEO of a biotech company and a media company, commercial executive with companies like Johnson & Johnson, and chairman or board member for numerous philanthropic organizations. Since graduating from Northwestern University, Kay has trained over one million persons and has been the leader for over twenty different organizations. His first book, The 22 Most Important Things covers every topic related to success - day-by-day - 366 topics brimming with ideas, tools, and tactics for living life to the fullest, and includes the collective experience of generations of success experts through one comprehensive book arranged by calendar day for daily growth. Subsequent books include The Power to Thrive, based on a 30-year multidisciplinary study of exceptional leaders; and, The 22 Most Important Things.Kay has written for magazines including Forbes, Inc., and the Wall Street Journal, and has been interviewed by various broadcasting channels across the United States Training Website: http://pacesetters.training Author Blog: http://randykayauthor.com  Podcast: http://randykaypodcast.com


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Giving Back


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


So, you’ve published something or at least headed in the right direction. Your career is taking off. It’s the perfect time to write more to build your portfolio. You’ve heard people say things like:

·         be a guest blogger to get you name out;
·         start your own blog;
·         stay active on social media;
·         find freelance opportunities to build your portfolio.

As we build our careers, all of this advice is helpful. But there’s also something else we can do to build our portfolio and help build up our communities. We can give back as a writer. Many small nonprofits can’t afford to hire a writer, but they need to get their stories out there. They need staff interviews done for newsletters or clients stories written so donors know who they are helping. Nonprofits need stories to help reach donors and survive.

This is where we as writers come in. We can give back (and, yes, we benefit, too, because we are building our portfolio). It’s a win-win situation. But, you say, people are always asking me to donate my time without paying me. True, so you have to develop some guidelines and stick to them or you will never be paid for your work. Here are some of the boundaries I have set up for myself:

·         Only donate one article a month or one every three months as you are able. I stick to this policy and I limit the article to 750 words.
·         All interviews must be done by phone or email. If you don’t set this policy, you will be driving quite a bit to track down someone for an interview.
·         Set an extended deadline. You need time to get your own work done, and you may find that you have to focus on your projects longer than planned. Give yourself a little extra time before promising someone something quickly that you aren’t getting paid for.
·         Make sure you receive a copy for your portfolio. A digital copy usually works best. You can load that into an email for a job requesting samples of your work. Get permission to use the piece as a sample of your work if you are going to load it onto your website or onto a site such as LinkedIn.
·         Don’t feel guilty saying no to someone. If it’s a group you want to work with later, get contact information and promise to let them know when you have time. Otherwise, just politely say you wish you could help.

We can all find ways to give back to our communities. If we each use our gifts and talents to help build up others, we will all profit. 

Don’t neglect your own work, but find ways to share your time and your words with others. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Create a Character Profile



By Lawrence Verigin


One of the most important tools to have when writing a good story is to use a character profile sheet. It’s like an interview on each character that will help you stay consistent throughout your story. 

Whenever I need a new character, I print off the pages of my blank profile and then answer all of the questions. Once the new character is created, the sheets go into a binder that is at my side throughout the novel writing process.  

You want to make sure the character’s eyes remain the same color, their mannerisms, how they respond to certain situations, common words they use, etc.   
This is especially important when writing a series. 

Here is the profile form I’ve adapted from the one given to me by Elizabeth George, when I was learning how to write well enough to become a published author. Feel free to copy it or change it to make it your own: 

Character Profile 

Name: 
Age: 
Height: 
Weight/Build: 
Birthplace/Birthdate: 
Hair color: 
Eye color: 
Favorite Color: 
Drink of choice: 
How do they look at people: overt, good contact, stare
Physical peculiarities/markings: 
Educational background: 
Relationship: 
Pets: 
Family (parents, siblings etc.) 
Motivation: To win something, to stop something, to escape something, to retrieve something, to destroy something, to solve something. 
Inner Motivation: Love, revenge, greed, justice, jealousy, survival, moral 
Ambition in life/quest: 
Gestures when talking and tone of voice: 
Gait: 
Character strengths: loyal, moral, perseverance, sex drive, cunning, wisdom, honesty, smart, strong, tenacious, forgiveness, self sacrifice, charisma, self aware, clever, complex, physical, proficient, non-judgmental, decisive, observant, passionate, wit, spontaneous? 
Character weaknesses: obsessive compulsive, inner conflict, addictive, mean, insecure, greedy, self absorbed, inconsiderate, schemer, self doubt, lack of confidence, temper, fear of commitment, addictions? 
What’s their wound? 
How do they perceive themselves? 
Philosophy/Religion: 
Political leaning: 
Hobbies: 
What others first notice about him/her: 
Is character likeable, powerful, funny, dislikeable? 
Ancestry: 
What does character do for a living: 
What’s work place like: 
Archetype/Based On: 
What level does the character start atLoves themselves, Loves one other person, Loves group of people, Loves community, and Loves world  
What level does character end: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5?
What Kind of Vehicle do they drive?
Where do they live?
How do they dress?
Do they have an accent/speech impediment?
Common words:
Common expressions/traits/quirks:
Story Points:
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Lawrence Verigin is the author of the multiple award-winning Dark Seed trilogy - DARK SEED, SEED of CONTROL and BEYOND CONTROL. Lawrence's goal is to entertain readers while delving into socially relevant subjects that need more attention brought to them. In his spare time Lawrence enjoys cooking good food, rich red wine, travel, running, reading and numerous rounds of golf. Lawrence and his wife, Diana, live in beautiful North Vancouver, Canada. To contact Lawrence Verigin, go to: Website: www.lawrenceverigin.com
Email: lawrenceverigin@gmail.com Facebook: Lawrence Verigin  and Twitter: @LawrenceVerigin