Thursday, January 31, 2013

Would You Sign My Book?


By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor of Southern Writers Magazine


Baseball great Pete Rose was asked what the kids playing baseball needed to learn that was not being taught. Pete said they need to learn to sign a baseball. It isn’t easy writing on a curved surface and in order to aid them in visualizing being a pro they need to learn to sign a baseball. As a pro they will be asked to do so time and time again.

Over the years I have seen many signatures from those whom we consider famous. Some have little messages with their signature. Some will have a reference to a Bible verse. Some have their slogans, mottos or branding logo added. With some it is obvious there was some thought given as to the message. This kind of preparation could avoid an awkward moment of indecision when signing the item.   

As a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader my niece was taught how to autograph her photo. It goes without saying these girls are very popular and there is much demand for their pictures and their signature. The DCC organization takes time to teach the Cheerleaders how to sign pictures, calendars and other items. They use the phrase “Love and Cheers to ____________ !” and sign their name. This allows them to see more people and avoids the mishap of writing something regrettable. This is something writers could use when they have adoring readers lined up out the door of the bookstores, waiting their turn to have you sign your most recent work. Being prepared is a lesson we could all benefit from.   

I have many books that have been signed by the author. Their signature seems to give us a connection with them and their work. It also seems to bring the publishers product to life, giving it a human touch, a link to the author’s spirit.   

One of the most recent books with signature is also one of the most unusual and spirited. For my birthday I received from my wife a copy of Willie Nelson’s latest work, yes there were others, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road.  The author had signed inside the front and back cover. In the back it was simply stated “The End” with his signature, date and a smiley face. The front cover was an elaborate drawing of a stick man with guitar and cowboy hat, obviously the author’s self- portrait. The signature alone was worth the price of the book.

Give some thought as to what you would like your signature to say? Do you want it to convey a message of humor, wisdom or spirituality? Once you have determined what you want to convey do as Pete Rose recommended, practice it. You have given great thought to your writing so give thought to your signature. It could be the determining factor in a lasting relationship with your readers.     

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Character’s Freedom



By Shelly Frome


As a struggling actor, I was taught there are two basic approaches. You can strike a pose and play the result; or become the character and allow everything to happen as if for the first time.
The first option you go through the motions and attempt to seem sweet, wicked, motherly, clever or whatever result seems to be called for. Put another way, in this light characters have a function and are simply a means to an end.

If, however, you opt to bring your character to life, there are all kinds of considerations. For instance, there is a sense of place and the given circumstances; your known and unknown response patterns and your evolving relationships. Above all, you have to accept the give and take and unpredictability of each and every situation.

Interesting enough, these two approaches also spill over into fiction. For a prime example of playing the result, there’s that bestseller about an ancient code and secret religious society. Robert Langdon plays a clever symbolist, that’s it. Sophie is a diligent cryptologist. There is an albino who is stamped as a psychotic and so on and so forth. Though the mutilated curator in the Louvre is Sophie’s grandfather, there is no room for grief on her part or any misgivings. She isn’t even allowed to wonder why Robert Langdon appears to have no dimensions at all save for his fixation on unraveling the code. Thus the only objective is to keep readers turning the pages as Langdon and Sophie race from Paris to London, crossing paths with assorted allies and villains.

The opposite approach: we can easily turn to any incident from Harper Lee’s To Kill aMockingbird. Take the famous mob scene, the one that finds Atticus on the porch of the jailhouse where the black man he is defending is being held. It’s nighttime and seasonably mild in tiny Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression. In the semi-darkness, not only does Atticus have no idea what will happen as he confronts the angry men, he also suddenly has to deal with Jem and Scout who, along with their playmate Dill, have followed him here.

If Scout was earmarked to be unruly, she and the rest of the characters never would have come to life. When Jem refuses to leave and a burly member of the milling band yanks him off his feet, Scout would kick the man and put up a big fuss. But even when Atticus chides Scout and asks Jem to please take the children home, Jem impulsively stands his ground and Scout switches gears.
“Hey, Mr. Cunningham,” she says to the man who appears to be the ring leader.
The big man blinks, hooks his thumbs in his overall straps, clears his throat and looks away.
“Don’t you remember me, Mr. Cunningham?”

Instead of saying, Hey, I’m Scout in some cocky way, she says, “I’m Jean Louise Finch. You brought us some hickory nuts one time, remember?” She goes on to tell him that she goes to school with his boy Walter. And she once brought Walter home for supper. “Maybe he told you about me, I beat him up one time but he was real nice about it. Tell him hey for me, won’t you?”

The more Scout tries to get through to him, the less certain his angry quest becomes. Which, in turn, spurs Scout on to be even more polite and friendly. Assuming that’s what Atticus must be waiting for. It must be what’s wanted because neither Atticus or the other men are saying a word.
Soon, Scout begins to feel sweat gathering at the edges of her hair because she can stand most anything except a bunch of people staring at her.By then Cunningham does a peculiar thing. He squats down, takes her by both shoulders and says, “I’ll tell Walter you said hey, little lady.”He straightens up and waves at the rest of the men. “Let’s clear out. Let’s get going, boys.” And there it is, unfolding within a specific time, place and set of circumstances. Even when Scout tries to play the result and be polite, she gets more and more flustered and somehow becomes “a little lady.”

There are countless novels that reverberate with this selfsame ring of truth. Some say these narratives are character driven as opposed to plot driven. Personally, I always look at it as honoring the spirit of the moment.
___________________________________________________________ 
Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of mysteries, books on theater and film, and articles on the performing arts appearing in a number of periodicals in the U.S. and the U.K.. His fiction includes TinseltownRiff, Lilac Moon, Sun Dance for Andy Horn and the trans-Atlantic cozy The Twinning Murders. Among his works of non-fiction are the acclaimed TheActors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. His latest novel is Twilightof the Drifter. He lives in Litchfield, Connecticut.His works can be found on Amazon, through his publishers or via independent bookstores. He has a profile on Facebook where he can be reached or on twitter @shellyFrome.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Failure to Communicate


by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine



While having lunch with a friend recently, we noticed that our waitress seemed to be experiencing some stress.  She was having issues with the kitchen, and we overheard her on her cellphone arguing with someone. 

Since only a few minutes earlier she had been friendly and chatty with us, we felt a certain compassion for her.  When she returned to our table acting very distracted, my companion thoughtfully suggested she relax for a moment and catch her breath, because she seemed a bit flustered.

"I'm a bit what?" she asked.

"Flustered."

"What does that mean?"

I wanted to say "nonplussed", but that wouldn't have been the moment.  We had to think of a layman's definition, and came up with something like, "You know...troubled, upset, confused."

"Okay," she said, leaving the table numbly and only returning later to bring us the bill.  We still don't know if she was offended by our observation, or simply further nonplussed.

It got me thinking about how we writerswith our enviable command of the English languagecan easily forget who we're talking to. This is, of course, generally forgivable in everyday conversation, but when writing, it's essential never to talk down to our audience.  Children's authors aren't the only ones who'll tell you how important it is to reign in too-fancy vocabulary.

We keep hearing that writing at no higher than an 8th grade level will be appropriate for most audiences.  How we're supposed to remember—and avoidwhich words we've learned since grade school, I have no idea, but to be safe I find myself watching more episodes of Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?

A higher level of communication is one of many reasons we love talking to other writers.  Not only are authors a fun bunch, but talking about writing is always interesting, and we learn so much from each other.  You'll find this to be especially true this weekend when we debut the next edition of our Southern Writers Radio Show webcast.

The new show will feature intriguing in-depth conversation with some of your favorites, and some who will become your favorites: Tamera Alexander, C. Hope Clark, Kimberly Brock, Lindi Peterson, and Erika Robuck, along with Kimberly Rae, who joins us for a riveting round of our writers' game WordPlay.  It's a diverse group of wordsmiths who have fascinating insights to share about the writing craft.  You won't want to miss it!  Look for the link this weekend in the right-hand column here at Suite T, as well as on our main website, www.southernwritersmagazine.com  (Update: Click here to listen to the new show).

In the meantime, you can still hear the current edition, featuring Sandra Balzo, Pamela King Cable, Kala Ambrose, Rhonda Rhea, Terry Whalin, Edie Melson and Danny Iny right now, by visiting this direct link to Southern Writers Radio Show: http://swonline.homestead.com/radioshowfall2012.html
It's free, it's online, and it's just for us writers. It's especially good if you're feeling flustered.



Monday, January 28, 2013

"Y'all" Jogs My Memories



By Kim Strickland


Even though I know the plural of “Y’all” is “All y’all,” I am not a Southern writer. So imagine my surprise when Southern Writer Magazine asked me to guest post here. However, as all authors, aspiring and otherwise, should know: never pass up a marketing opportunity. So, of course I didn’t tell them I was a Yankee, and instead simply replied, “Sure!”

When I was growing up, I did spend quite a few summers visiting family in North Carolina, in a small town outside Winston Salem. I started my first novel, Sundance, there. Okay, so I was only twelve and Sundance never really took off as a great literary work, but it was set in the South on a North Carolina farm. I don’t know how the folks at Southern Writer Magazine could have found out about my first literary endeavor, but perhaps that’s what got me grandfathered in as a southern writer?

During those North Carolina summers, I learned about grits and okra and kudzu. Tomato sandwiches, sweet tea and pulled-pork BBQ. Red dirt and tobacco drying sheds. I learned to say “Hey” not “Hi.” And I watched bank tellers cry the day Elvis Presley died. I dated a couple of southern boys, their southern accents absolutely my undoing.

I am a Chicago girl. After a few life detours living elsewhere, my home now is only a few miles from where I was born. Here I know deep-dish pizza and Chicago Dogs (no ketchup!) and when I get together with old friends, my accent gets so nasally I can’t stand to be around myself. I know if Blues legend Buddy Guy passed away, we’d of course be sad, but I don’t think any bank tellers would be crying.

When I was working up the ranks at my other career, flying airplanes, I flew for a corporation based in Detroit. I like to say, “I spent a year there one summer.” I was on my own and let’s just say the townsfolk were not terribly friendly. Toward the end of that long summer, I had to fly a trip to North Carolina and as I was driving back to the airport, I stopped by a roadside stand to buy some peaches. It was very hot and the lovely elderly woman working the stand was fanning herself as she drawled to me about the sun and the peaches and I don’t remember what all, but I do remember her kindness. I remember getting back into my car and making it about a quarter mile before bursting into tears. It was the nicest a complete stranger had been to me during that whole horrid summer.

While I am not a southern writer, I learned a few things from my brief time spent in the South. I learned to enjoy a warm night on a porch swing with crickets screaming. I learned to slow down, that cheese grits rock and that I have yet to find a place within five hundred miles of here with decent pulled pork. I learned that kindness and a smile for complete strangers is the norm in the South and I learned to appreciate that warm southern hospitality.

And so, this here Yankee would like to say a sincere thank you to Southern Writers Magazine and the Suite T blog, for the marketing opportunity and trip down memory lane. Once again, that southern hospitality is much appreciated.
____________________________________________________________________

"I began building my flight hours as a flight instructor at the University of Illinois Institute of Aviation. Several years and airline uniforms later, I landed (sorry) at a major airline in 1990. I returned to my fiction writing in earnest. My plan had come together. After several false starts on a few different novels, in 2002 I finally finished what I considered a viable draft of Wish Club and began the long process of getting it published. Wish Club was released by Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, in June of 2007, to great press and reviews. My second novel, Down at the Golden Coin, has just been published in trade paperback by Eckhartz Press and will soon be available here at Amazon as an ebook. I am now at work on my third. I presently live and write in Chicago with my husband, our three children, two cats and a dog. When I'm not being a mom or writing, I fly as a First Officer on Boeing 767's and jet off to Europe or South America and a few other destinations -- all equally wonderful in that, while I'm there, I usually get to eat an entire meal sitting down."--Amazon

Friday, January 25, 2013

Embrace The Change


By R. C. Shivers


Life has a way of flipping reality on its head forcing us to look at things from alternate perspectives. If we are open to understanding these perspectives we may, in fact, attempt or achieve specific goals that were formerly beyond reach. For me, there were three turning points that altered my reality and forced a change in my approach and perspective.

The first event was 9/11. There is no doubt that this event affected many people in different ways. I came to realize very quickly that although I was successful in my chosen career path my goal had always been to focus on a career in writing. Up to that point, I had written many pieces, but never a novel. My creativity had lacked that self-imposed defining point.

I sat down and began writing that very afternoon. At first, I wrote out of some sort of need that beckoned, but that I was not really aware of. I continued writing everyday for three months as a story began to form about the rich history of Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry. It spilled out across a handful of notebooks and my computer screen…and it was getting good.

The second event that changed my perspective was the day I met my wife. She not only inspired me to continue my writing, but felt so strongly about it that she insisted I share it with other people and open myself up to critique. At first, I was not very open to this idea, but you can not improve your craft without feedback. She entered my first novel in The William Faulkner – William Wisdom Writing Competition and to my surprise (and pleasure) it became a semi-finalist!

The third event that altered all sense of reality was the day we went to court to finalize the adoption of our son. This little guy changed our (and my) approach to everything. We were now responsible for teaching him how to approach life and follow his heart while using his head. Soon I was coming up with lines that made no sense, such as “Do what you do and know what you do”. It makes no sense to anyone else, but my son got the message and so did I.

If you want to write, write about what you know first. I was surrounded by the history and mystery of the Lowcountry. Every building and graveyard, every old fort and historical marker along the side of the road had a story to tell. I had taken the time over the years to follow the signs and investigate the buildings; now all I had to do was put my pen on the paper and let the story roll.

It may never be too late to be a writer, but why wait in the first place? If you have the desire, you may just have a story to tell as well. You will never know if you don’t try.

RC Shivers is a medical professional and freelance writer who has contributed articles to regional magazines and numerous websites including Coach Joe Gibbs' Gameplanforlife.com. His upcoming novel "Peninsula - A Gullah Haunting in Charleston" was a novel category semifinalist in The William Faulkner - William Wisdom Novel Competition. He is a NASCAR loving, South Carolina transplant who is addicted to the
beaches of the Lowcountry, the crooning of Tony Bennett, the sound of a tricked out Harley, his son Alex and little dog Mook, the tiny Caribbean Island of Jost Van Dyke, Scooby Doo Cartoons and the rebel attitude of Lynyrd Skynyrd. RC Shivers currently makes a home in the coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina with his wife Vicki, their son Alex and little pound puppy Mook. Website - http://peninsula.rcshivers.com 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Distractions



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




Sometimes it is just not possible to put to paper what is in our heads. Try as we might, there are too many distractions throughout the day. Our thought patterns are interrupted, put on hold, blocked and stopped...like an airport with planes landing all day, that is how it goes in our heads.

When this happens, we wind up kicking ourselves at the end of the day because we didn’t get anything accomplished in our writing. I know some authors who literally have to go into their bathroom, put a do not disturb sign on the door, close and lock just to get 15 minutes of non-interrupted time.


So what do we do? Take a deep breath...and walk away from it for a few hours, maybe even the day. These little frustrations end up zapping us of imagination and creativity if we try to remain seated at the computer. In fact, getting out of the house, away from the task of writing that day just may fill us with new ideas to incorporate into the story we are writing.


Writers need time to participate in life outside of writing. Just interacting with other people can do wonders for a writer. Writing isolates us. When we get out and mingle, shop or visit we gather in fresh thoughts, sounds and smells which may be perfect for that story we are writing.


Perhaps scheduling a time out once a day would be a good idea. It just may make the difference in writing a great story instead of a good story.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Giving It Your All


By Margaret Millmore


My parents taught me that working hard, and giving it your all would yield satisfactory results. I didn’t understand (or subscribe) to that notion until I was out of high school. I’d never been a good student, but when I was forced to pay my own tuition, I worked hard, and I did well. When I entered the work force, I started at the bottom of the ladder and I did not want to stay there. Again I worked hard and had a long and successful career. When I decided to write full time, I knew I had to apply the same principles, unfortunately I had no idea what I was doing, or how to do it.

I wrote my first full length novel almost five years ago. It was riddled with problems: it was entirely too long (over 155k words); it was in dire need of editing; and it had vampires and werewolves (which, as most know is one of the most prolific sub-genres out there). I’d spent about 8 months querying agents and publishers, but to no avail, I was the queen of rejections. Devastating and demoralizing? Yes. Time to give up? No.

So what did I do? I chucked the book into a deep, dark corner and pretended it didn’t exist, and then I wrote my next book. That book became Doppelganger Experiment and was published in 2011 to mixed reviews, some of them bad. Those bad reviews were a result of bad editing, which, no matter how much I wanted to blame on someone else, I could not, the mistakes were mine and I owned them. We pulled the book, had it re-edited and I believe its better, at least I hope so.

Now what? Well I’d mentioned that first book to my publisher, she was interested, but it was too long… Break it up into a series, she said. Well, I’d never intended to write a series, but why not? I’d learned a great deal at this point and I applied that to the book revisions. The Four Series was born.

A respected friend, who is not a big reader and prefers non-fiction when he does read, has read my work and imparted his opinions.  He enjoyed the story of DoppelgangerExperiment, but was extremely critical about the editing errors… He also recently finished Book I in The Four Series (in a record 2 days). He said: “Wow, this is you, this is your element. I can see your excitement in the characters, they way you developed them and how they interact with each other. I didn’t expect the story either; you changed all the rules when it comes to the vampire/werewolf thing. It reads more like a fast paced thriller/suspense novel, not some teenage fantasy about mythical villains. I can’t wait for Book II!”  He isn’t a literary critic, but he did make my day and that made it all worthwhile.
____________________________________________________________
A native Californian, currently residing with her husband in San Francisco; she is the grandniece of Irish author Benedict Kiely and the second cousin of Irish author Sharon Owens. Current published works are: Doppelganger Experiment and The Four Series – Book I - The Beginning, The Change (The Four Series-Book II  and III through IV are expected 2013). 
www.margaretmillmore.com Twitter: MMillmore
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12451063-doppelganger-experiment


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Southern Writer and Father Of These United States


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director of Southern Writers Magazine



Happy Birthday to a Southern Writer from Virginia and our first President George Washington. His books, documents, papers, diaries and words are still being read, and studied, today. 

One of his books, George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation is still in print. It includes 110 rules based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. Washington simplified their version. His book established his rules to live by. The rules focus on self-respect and respect for others with etiquette details. Readers can read tips on how to dress, walk, eat in public and address one's superiors.

Wonder what George would think about what it takes to get a book published today? Computers as a means to write a book? Tablets to read a book?  I think the Father of the United States would embrace social media platforms, being "friends" on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter. Anyone who put a 1700s spin on  rules from the 1500s would embrace what it takes to be a writer in the twenty-first century.



Happy Birthday, President George Washington!






Monday, January 21, 2013

Make Your Characters Real Characters


By Bill Hopkins


"No one ever gets your characters confused," a writer of some note told me. Besides being a thrill, the compliment caused me to make a list of how I do this. (You DO make lists, don't you? How else can you keep things organized?)

If you want your characters to stand out, try my Character Builder List. Define the people in your work using four points: speech, action, name, and looks.

Speech: If all your characters talk the same, then your readers must jump a hurdle when, for example, you have rapid-fire dialogue in the story. One trick is to give your characters a catch phrase. If Winebibber (how's that for a name?) says, "Freaking frost!" when he gets excited or surprised, the reader will know who it is, as long as no other character says that. Thus, you won't need a tag like this "'Freaking frost!' Winebibber said." Needless to say, don't overdo the catch phrases. They wear on the reader quickly.

Action: A character should have an action that he, she, or it does that no other character does. "Winebibber rubbed the mole on his left thumb." If Winebibber does that a couple of times, you've not only given him an action that no one else can do, but you've also described one of his physical characteristics.

Name: Winebibber is a name you won't forget. But if your character is named John or Jane, you're begging the reader to forget a forgettable character. If you must use John as a name, give him two names. Who can forget John Boy of the Waltons? And don't use similar names. If one of your characters is named Max, avoid Mary, Maggie, Marty, etc. In fact, don't use a second name beginning with a letter you've already used.

Looks: Give your characters distinctive appearances. Maybe the character has one eyebrow. Or an odd tattoo. Maybe one green eye and one blue eye. Here again, I advise spare use of the oddity. Mention it once early in the story and perhaps a second or third time if you're writing a novel.

Here's a final caveat: Don't name or describe a character if that person plays a mere walk-on part. Irritating is the word for it when you're reading along and a named character pops up accompanied by a detailed description. Then the character disappears. I've seen this done in many novels, some by REALLY BIG NAMES. It's like putting a speed bump in the middle of the Interstate at rush hour. You're jolted out of the story and lose your concentration. And your reader may mutter imprecations.

Now you're asking yourself, "What the heck does Winebibber look like?" Make something up. You're a writer!
_________________________________________________________
Bill Hopkins is retired after beginning his legal career in 1971 and serving as a private attorney, prosecuting attorney, an administrative law judge, and a trial court judge, all in Missouri. His poems, short stories, and non-fiction have appeared in many different publications. He's had several short plays produced. A book of collected poetry, Moving Into Forever, is available on Amazon. Bill is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dramatists Guild, Horror Writers Association, Missouri Writers Guild, and Sisters In Crime. Bill is also a photographer who has sold work in the United States, Canada, and Europe. He and his wife, Sharon (a mortgage banker who is also a published writer), live in Marble Hill, Missouri, with their dogs and cat. Besides writing, Bill and Sharon are involved in collecting and restoring Camaros. CourtingMurder is his first mystery novel. Website: www.judgebillhopkins.com  LinkedIn: Bill Hopkins   Twitter:@JudgeHopkins









Friday, January 18, 2013

Go Through The Door



By Judy Reeves



I love this part of rewriting: doors appear in drafts like invitations and whisper, “Come in, go deeper, open me, and look inside.” These openings are opportunities for writers to take their piece to another level–layering, creating texture, adding depth.


As I reread my drafts, I underline these openings. Or as I keyboard the material into the computer I write (door) in the copy, much as I have done in this sentence. Nearly every piece of first-draft writing will be littered with so many doors it will look like a Holiday Inn. As an example, I’ll pull a piece from my own notebook:


“Eloise wanted to ask Eudora to tell her fortune. To read tealeaves or look at cards, whatever Eudora did to divine hidden secrets. She wanted Eudora to tell her about the baby. From the beginning, this pregnancy seemed different.”

The door is right after the last sentence “… this pregnancy seemed different.” I go back to my notebook and write that line at the top of the page. Then I go through the door and list ways this pregnancy was different. From the beginning she had a craving for peaches; her hair changed color – from blonde to red – and became curly, like a fresh permanent; she could make out in clear detail the fine map of lines on the underside of leaves; could sense rain two days coming and her breath smelled of lemons.
  
I list the details, and perhaps Eloise’s reaction to them, writing, writing, writing until I feel not only present in the room the door opened into, but as if I owned the place. After a spell of free writing, I go back to my computer and key in those details that made the piece more interesting, editing as I write.

           

Writing is always a two-step process. The first: writing the raw, rough stuff that comes from the intuitive. The second: rewriting and editing, working from the critical, logical mind. Each step takes us to the other. The rough must be hewn; the hewn sends us back to the rough for more material to build our story.


Review some rough pieces from your notebook or drafts on your computer and look for doors that can take the story deeper. You’ll notice them because of a certain curiosity you may feel, a sense that more is going on than what’s on the page. Like secret passageways that open into hidden rooms, something more interesting, more evocative, may lie behind the door you’ve discovered. Enter. Go in. Don’t knock. Allow the element of surprise to capture whatever’s there in the act.


Note: You can’t go through every door, enter every room; there’s always the danger of getting distracted into backstory or following a detail that takes you completely away from the energy of the scene. After all, who cares to watch the maid change the sheets… unless, of course…

___________________________________________________________________ 
"Judy Reeves is a writer, teacher and writing practice provocateur whose books include A Writer's Book of Days, which was named a "hottest books for writers" and won the 2010 San Diego Books Award for Best Nonfiction. Other books include Writing Alone, Writing Together; A Creative Writer's Kit and The Writer's Retreat Kit and A Writer's Book of Days: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing LifeShe is a cofounder of San Diego Writers, Ink where she served as Executive Director."--Amazon 
Her website is judyreeveswriter.com She blogs at livelymuse.com

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Authors Take Five With Southern Writers Magazine



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


Authors are knocking themselves out to get their books noticed. While it is true, a source of traffic comes from Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., still that is not enough to get your book to the top of the sales register. The reason––you are competing with more authors than you can imagine. According to stats over a million books are published a year.

It is certainly important for you to have a location on the Social Media highway. But if you really want your book to sell more––then you need to have the title of your book and your name in as many places as possible. Why? Think of it like stores. The more stores you have your book in the more books you have a chance of selling. There are also sites you can put your book on and it is sent to people by email. Getting your name and book title out there is the key. However, don’t spend too much time just what is required to do the listing. Although authors need to put their names out you also want to know that some of the places you are putting them are not going to be deleted. Make sure some of those places you post your name and book title is going to be shown indefinitely…which means they are archived.

Sometimes it is difficult for authors to toot their own horns. They are not comfortable proclaiming to the world their book was just published. But if not you, then who?
Take pen in hand, not to write a story, but to make a list of the entire Social media available, list which ones are good for you. Obviously anything, that has to do with readers, books, eBooks is a definite place you want your name and the title of your newest book.

Commenting on other people’s blogs is a must. Every time you find a blog that has to do with writing, authors and such, be sure and make comments on the blog. The exposure you gain from doing this is priceless. This is one of the major areas authors are falling short…they are not commenting on blogs. Be sure and sign your name, your website, blog address and the title of your book. Again, we are going after exposure.
Promotion and marketing is sometimes difficult for authors but it has to be done to get your book noticed and taken to the sales register. Many authors tell me I can’t spend time promoting my time needs to be spent writing books. I agree with that, but unfortunately, unless you as an author can afford to hire someone to handle your promotion and marketing of you and your book then the job is left to you. Otherwise those books you are writing won’t get read.

We have created a way to help authors promote their books; it doesn’t take but a few minutes, five to be exact. It’s called TAKE FIVE. It is a great tool for an author to sell books because the author connects with their reader. The author chooses a part of their newest book––an intriguing part, a cliffhanger, a warm and fuzzy part or an action scene that will make the reader want to know what happened and will make them want to get the book to find out what happened. It gives the reader a taste of the flavor waiting for them when they buy the authors book. Readers connect better and bond with an author if they hear them read from their book. Take a few minutes, check out TAKE FIVE, and hear some of the authors. Your reading stays on the site, it is archived so you can link it to your sites to send your readers and fans back to hear you read your book. A great sales tool for authors to use.

Southern Writers Magazine helps authors promote their books.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Strength Found In Weakness


By  Diane K. Chamberlain




Many times, we see weakness as a place of failure where we live with pain, heartache, and despair and this is what I thought my life was going to be.  My life always felt as though it was taking a nosedive to a place of permanent defeat until God began to work in a way I never thought could be.


After learning about a congenital problem in both my knees as a young girl I never thought  my life would go in a direction that would lead me down a road of multiple knee surgeries from the age of seven to the age of forty-five. As time passed, even more was added to my plate through the loss of children and the memory of a past sexual abuse.  As each circumstance piled high upon the others, my life began to feel so overwhelmed and out of control, that I could not see any real purpose for my life and even began to question God’s love for me.


Many times, I would try to figure out the purpose behind so much pain and heartache, until one day, God’s timing began to allow me to view the true purpose for my life.  As I began to surrender the pain and heartache over to God, He began to exchange these moments with His words of love and encouragement.  As I continued to follow His lead and walk in the footprints that He had laid out for me, I began gradually to see the reason behind each painful moment in my life. I came to see He was transforming my heart to hear His voice and encourage me by His loving presence.


As time has passed over the years of my life, God has allowed me to share the words He gave me as a means of encouraging others who live in despair through my ministry–A Refuge thru the Storm along with five published books of inspiration.  Life can become one difficult journey and we can question the purpose for our existence. But when we choose to focus on God who already knows the plan for our lives, rather than focusing on our circumstances, then God will give us a clear view of the pathway. He longs for us to follow.


Now I have been in ministry for ten years and God continues to teach me more about His love for me. As He brings these special gifts into my life, He also continues to lead me to those who could use a special gift of encouragement.  When we choose to pursue our lives according to God’s plan, while ignoring the words that our circumstances try to dictate to us, then we will have the heart that can open up the way for God to walk in and make our lives complete.
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As a child Diane lived in the outskirts of a small town in Michigan, where we only lived a pathway away from where my favorite great-grandfather lived. I loved his place because he had an orchard with all kinds of things to enjoy and explore. While playing outside one day, with my brothers and sister, I suddenly fell to the ground, while experiencing a great amount of pain. Little did I know that this first doctor's visit would take me on a long journey...through 21 major knee operations, in an attempt to correct a congenital problem in both of my knees. To this day, I still live with a deteriorating left knee and a rod in my right leg.
Diane can be found at A Refuge thru the Storm Ministry Link: www.jesuscarechildrenministryus.org  &  DianKChamberlain@aol.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In Front of a Live Audience


by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine


In his Golden Globe acceptance speech Sunday night (for the movie Django Unchained), writer/director Quentin Tarantino provided some valuable insight into his approach to writing award-winners.  Specifically thanking the friends who are part of his life when he is writing, he explained that they don't realize how important they are to the creative process.

"When I read it to you, I hear it through your ears," said Tarantino, who shares scenes with his friends, not so much to receive feedback as to test his work out loud in front of an actual audience.

We've all heard that it's good practice for writers to read their work aloud to see if it sounds as good in the ear as it does on the page.  But wouldn't it be great to have a live audience to bounce every new scene off of?

Most of us actually do have that opportunity if we're connected to a writers group, as there are often fellow writers willing to stay late or meet separately for the purpose of some mutual critiquing.

At the same time, many of us are such perfectionists that we don't want to release our words until we ourselves have honed them to our personal satisfaction.  Both methods do the trick, and it clearly depends on the individual.  With as many approaches to writing as there are writers, it's all a matter of whatever works for you.

The question is, Is your particular approach working for you?  Are you getting as much written as you'd like, and are you pleased with what's getting on the page?  If the answer is no, perhaps another method would be worth a try.

If you're finding that you leave your critique group feeling confused or discouraged, it may be time to work as a loner until you regain your equilibrium. Or if you've written alone for so long that you find it hard to gauge how your adoring public will react, it could well be time to branch out and seek some hearing ears.

Whether we read our work aloud to ourselves or to others whose opinions we value, let's sing Quentin's Theme and hear our words through the audience's ears.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Getting Inspired



By Holly Zitting


For writers inspiration is the bread and butter of our daily life. But for most of us finding it could prove as elusive as a search for Waldo in a field full of candy canes. It is a question I am continually asked. What inspires you?

While the answer is different for everyone there are things that inspire us all. Taylor Swift is a Grammy winning artist. She is also a serial dater; she makes up and breaks up on a weekly basis with a new heartthrob.  Not only does she use her personal heartbreak for inspiration she profits from it with bags full of money and gold records galore.

As someone who has been married to the same man for almost 16 years I can’t count on the constant break-ups that come with young love to inspire me. So what does inspire me? It could be as simple as a song on the radio. My newest work in progress was inspired when my daughters best friend was singing along to the catchy yet overplayed “Call me maybe?” at the beginning of the summer. Seeing two girls that I love happy and singing the line “I threw a wish in a well,” ended up taking on a life on its own and now I three books in the progress because of a simple song lyric.

Fall is my favorite time of year. Seeing all of the changing colors sparks my imagination. Take a drive and look at the beauty around you. Inspiration could come from something as simple as a walk on the beach with someone you love or possibly even listening to your favorite song. Reading a good book or even people watching can inspire all of us. With social media everywhere we look we are constantly being relegated with stories that are either heartwarming or bizarre. Each one adds to the twisted folds of our imaginations. So for all the writers and want to be writers (like me) my best advice is….simply live life.
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Holly Zitting is the Author to The Amulet Prophecy. The Amulet is releasing on December 1st. It will be on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com as well as Whiskey Creek Press.com. It will be followed by Talisman and Infinity. The Paradan Tales will release its first book in January entitled The Wishing Well. Holly is a stay at home to 5 children with her husband of 16 years. She is also a foster mother.



Facebook fan page www.facebook.com/HollyZitting


Friday, January 11, 2013

Writing on the Run


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine 



As 2012 rolled into 2013; did "write everyday" top your New Year resolution list? Then did the reality of your 2013 life kick in and your "write everyday" resolution wane? 

In the 21st century, I have a hard time finding time to spend in my cozy corner with a cup of warmth nearby while writing 2000 words a day on my novel. So I have found a way that works while I'm on the run and maybe it will work for you.

This is what is working for me. I have a smart phone with a couple of free apps that are helping me stick to my resolution. While waiting in carpool, doctor's appointments or any other time I find myself just waiting, I'm writing several times a day, everyday. 

"Notes" is the app I use to capture my writing on the run. This allows me to get the words down and has an auto-correct which is helpful but rudimentary. To check my word count, I use " WC Free". Just copy and paste from "Notes" to "WC Free". Very handy to chart when you have a word count issue. 


When I'm ready to edit, I simply email the item from "Notes". A quick copy and paste from my email to a word program and voila, my writing done on the run is a viable piece of work to be edited. 

Let's face it we have to have words on paper in order to go through an edit process. Can you think of your time on the run when you could be writing, too?