Thursday, April 30, 2015

Writing Rejects and Lost Stories Can Lead To Best Sellers



By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine 


What do you do with writing projects that have been rejected, or you've abandoned for another day? Do you file them? Do you shred them? Do you tear them up in little itty, bitty, bits of paper? Do you thumbtack them to the eaves above your writing space like Stephen King did? You might want to rethink these options after the experience of Harper Lee and Dr. Seuss aka Theodor Seuss Geisel.

Dr. Seuss, whose lyrical writing with fantastical words and flowing rhythm are read by parents to children all over the world, had a best seller published in 2014. Dr. Seuss died in 1991. A dentist, and Seuss memorabilia collector turned author, DDS Charles D. Cohen discovered Redbook magazines from the 1950's while working on his 2004 book, "The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel." In the 1950's Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated a story a month for Redbook Magazine. Now these previously magazine only published "lost stories" have been made into a best-selling book, "Horton and the Kwuggerbug and more Lost Stories." 

Seuss's widow, Audrey Geisel was renovating their home and found a box filled with pages of text and illustrations. This find resulted in the soon to be released new manuscript complete with sketches by Dr. Seuss entitled What Pet Should I Get?, with a release date of July 28, 2015. These discovered stories will introduce millennium children to new stories created by a man who died in the twentieth century. Pretty amazing. 

Down south, Harper "Nelle" Lee's original rejected first manuscript was placed in her deceased sister and lawyer's safety deposit box. Alice Lee died in November 2014, and after her death, the original manuscript was discovered. The original manuscript submitted was reworked by Harper Lee. The published reworked manuscript became, To Kill A Mockingbird. The book published July 11, 1960 tells the story through the viewpoint of a child. The brilliance of this edit and Miss Lee's willingness to rewrite led to its success and is required reading for school children nationwide. 

Southern author, Harper Lee turned 89 this week. She is getting a terrific birthday present on July 14, 2015, her 1959 original manuscript will be published. I can't wait to read about Scout as an adult. Miss Lee will more than likely have another best seller on her hands with the release of Go Set A Watchman. The title comes from a Bible verse, Isaiah 21:6, "For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth." What an amazing story to have a best seller at age 34 and age 89.

Every writer has discarded work. The lessons to learn from Dr. Seuss and Harper Lee is to organize your stories in such a way that they can be pulled out and be tweaked and reworked into possibly best sellers.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

5 Tools Everyone in the TWITTER FOLLOWER Industry Should Be Using


By Sheena Mathieson


Many companies are now turning from one social tool to another in order to reach out to a specific audience. This refers to the kind of audience that the online industry is relying on so that they can reach an array of the company’s products and services. Using a social tool like Twitter allows the distribution of information to reach each and every Twitter follower. Here are a few tools that everyone in any Twitter follower industry should consider using.

Long links can take up a lot of characters, which can be a problem for Twitter whose characters are limited. If anyone needs to shorten those links, it is recommended to use Bit.ly. Not only that, but it saves a lot of time by sharing these shorter versions of links to more than one account. Through Bit.ly, individuals can make customized domains that match for their company. This personal touch creates trust among any Twitter follower.

Hootsuite is another favorite tool used by the online industry. If a company uses more than one social media, Hootsuite allows its users to manage them instead of having to open them individually. By doing it this way, it saves a lot of time and effort that can be used somewhere else in a more productive way. Not only is it easy and convenient, it is a single platform that allows you to access all of the social network channels that the company is in.

Another popular social tool used in the online industry is BufferApp. Instead of flooding every single Twitter follower with interesting and relevant news that one finds every minute, this tool allows the user to send these links in accordance to a schedule. This is important so that followers won’t get annoyed with overloading of tweets at a single time. The user can set up a particular schedule based on time to evenly distribute such information.

SocialBro is another social tool that companies can invest on. This is because its users can analyze critical data and assessment towards a path of making important decisions that can enhance any marketing strategy. SocialBro reaches out to a target audience that is vital for any company. It attracts potential clients and customers.

Another powerful tool that can be added to the list is Twitterfeed. Shared quality content can be viewed by the audience over multiple social networks. After users have distributed the content, statistics can be tracked and monitored. This way, users can analyze which content is popular among the audience so that users know what kind of content to look for in the future when the need arises.

All of these social tools can be used in the online industry in order to boost and promote a particular business to an audience who is in need of such product or service. These are meant to be used for long term measures so that companies can watch as they progress or bounce back after a series of downfalls. A combination of marketing strategies as mentioned earlier are important in order to reach the writer’s goals.

These applications may be of benefit to authors as they consider the best way to market their own books.  
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Sheena Mathieson is a content writer from Kentucky. She understands the essence of making excellent content that suits the needs of every business especially when it comes online marketing. She can spice up your marketing campaign with the content she writes. Her social media links are Twitter: https://twitter.com/SheenaMathieson and
Linkin:   https://www.linkedin.com/pub/sheena-mathieson/b1/767/737





Tuesday, April 28, 2015

HOW IMPORTANT ARE LINKS TO YOUR SUCCESS? Part One of Websites and Links


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


You’ve created your website. It’s online. You’ve put some content on there, included a picture of your book cover, book description and where they can buy it. Now what do you do?

For the most part, we go to Facebook and tell people about our website, our book, and give them the link to the website and ask them to go see it and link up.

But it’s not that easy is it? Just asking people to go to your site isn’t necessarily going to get them to do that. Asking them to link to you doesn’t mean they will.

If you ask someone to link to you, I wonder, did you link to their site first before asking them to link to you? The question I have is this. Why? Why would you ask them to link to you before you link to them?

Remember that saying we’ve all heard in the movies––”What’s in it for me?” For the most part, it is true; people want to know what’s in it for me. You see there are so many websites asking us to link up to them that we now have become immune to the curiosity of checking those sites out.  Because of that, we have probably missed some great sites that would have been beneficial to us linking to them and them to us.

If you are wondering how important it is to link to websites and for them to link to your website you might find this helpful: Companies know how important it is to link to someone else’s site. How do we know this? Because companies are willing to pay us to put their links on our websites. They know how important it is to link to as many places as possible. Why? Simple. You keep seeing that name long enough, and it becomes engrained and you will go check it out and odds are you will probably find something there to buy. That’s why you and I see advertising on TV. Even though most of us are sick of seeing some of those ads, they draw business into those companies.

So why can’t we do that for ourselves as authors? We can, if we will give them a reason to link to our webites. Most of us aren’t sure what that reason is. Mark Walters, SEO Consultant said, “Your website needs to be unique, interesting and engaging, etc.”

Your content has to be very good to garner repeat visitors. Check out some of the websites you know about. Look to see what their content is. Is it unique–one of a kind? Is it interesting? What is interesting about it? Just checking out some sites will give you tons of information that will help you with your website. It is time well worth spent.

For instance, do you have the link of sites that get a lot of traffic listed on your website or blog? If not, why not? Just make sure they pertain to writing.

Next post, we will talk more about getting those link-ups.



Monday, April 27, 2015

Embracing Marketing


By Amy M. Reade


I am sitting at my desk, wending my way through an ever-growing list of blogs, author/publisher/marketing websites, and social media sites before I get to the task at hand: my work-in-progress. This is something I do every day before I delve back into the story I’m currently writing, and it’s a crucial part of being a writer.

As much as many writers don’t want to embrace it, the fact is that most of us must have an online presence in order to find readers.

The first time I sent out a manuscript it was to a small press. I was still very new to the world of writing and publishing. Anyway, the acquisitions editor sent me a very kind rejection, stating frankly that when she searched my name online, nothing came up. That was the reason for the rejection: no one knew who I was, so there was no built-in fan base for potential readers of my novel.

She went on to say that an editor will almost always search online for an author whose work comes across his or her desk; if the editor finds nothing, that manuscript is automatically relegated to the dreaded slush pile.

After I received that email from her, I replied to thank her for her advice and assured her I was going to act on it.

I had a personal Facebook page and an author fan page within a week.

When she got that thank-you email, she wrote back to me. She said she was impressed by my willingness to improve and accept constructive advice, and she invited me to join a group of like-minded writers to whom she provides occasional (sometimes daily!) links to valuable marketing and writing blogs and websites. I immediately accepted, and being part of that group has been a fabulous experience.

She made it clear that members of the group are expected to visit the sites she recommends and comment on the posts. And she checks to see who leaves comments and who doesn’t.
And that’s an important part of having an online presence: it’s not enough merely to have a website or a blog or a Facebook page or a Twitter account. You have to comment comment comment on other people’s websites, blogs, Facebook pages, and Tweets.

It felt weird to comment on strangers’ blogs at first. After all, who really cared about my two cents? But the more I commented, the more I became a known visitor to many blogs and the more comfortable I felt leaving comments and engaging other writers in conversation. Now I don’t hesitate to comment on something if I feel moved to do so.

It wasn’t long before I had a website, too. And a Twitter account. And a blog (I call it Reade and Write). And I quickly learned that bloggers love comments from everyone who reads their work!
Is it a lot of work keeping up the social media pages and my blog and my website? Yes.
But guess what? I love it. I love every minute of it. I consider it to be almost as important to my writing career as the books I write.

What’s important to remember—and it’s easy to lose sight of this—is that an online presence is a process. I haven’t been an overnight sensation, but the list of people whom I reach on a daily and weekly basis continues to grow steadily.

And a lot of good things have come from the comments I’ve made on other writers’ sites. I’ve had opportunities for cross-marketing with other authors, I’ve been invited to conferences, and I’ve had lots of invitations to submit guest blogs.

So I continue to make my way through the long list of blogs and other websites that I visit daily. I look forward to opening my email every morning to see which sites have posted something new. I look forward to it because it keeps me fresh, it keeps me interested in the world outside my desktop, and it keeps my name out there.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you’ll leave a comment below. Your two cents are important and I’d love to hear your marketing ideas and success stories! And I invite you to visit me online in any or all of the following places:
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Amy M. Reade is the author of Secrets of Hallstead House, a novel of romantic suspense set in the Thousand Islands of New York State. She is also the author of The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, another novel of romantic suspense set on an antebellum plantation outside Charleston, South Carolina. The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor will be released tomorrow, April 28, 2015. Her Social Media Links are Website: http://www.amymreade.com  Blog: http://amreade.wordpress.com  Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor  Twitter: http://twitter.com/readeandwrite


Friday, April 24, 2015

Who Are They? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Choosing Character Names






I used to be a teacher, so let’s start with a quiz. Yes, it’s a bit of shameless self promotion, but I promise it will be fun, and I’m sure you’ll earn an A+. Your task: Match the names of some of the characters from my cozy mysteries to their correct identification. Which decription FITS which name? Answers are listed at the end of this blog. No cheating!




1. Miss Rusty              a. Construction worker, well-meaning but a bit na├»ve                                 
2. Ethel and Doreen    b. Obnoxious TV news reporter who’s always butting in where he’s not wanted
3. Karen Sembler        c. 2 goats who wander off the farm and into trouble
4. Rose and Ruby        d. Bra saleswoman who’s partial to wearing mini-skirts and stillettos 
5. Evert Osgood                      e. Parrot who repeats everything it hears
6. Bee Bee                   f.  A chubby basset hound
7. Candy Poppe                       g. Carpenter who considers her tool belt a fashion accesssory
8. Jimmy Beak                        h. Best friends, 2 fiesty old ladies who take pride in driving their grown sons nuts

All done? Easy, right? If so, I did my job well—I gave my characters names that reveal something about who they are.

In genre fiction, it’s fun to use names to provide hints about a character’s gender, age, job, and personality. For instance, would Ethel and Doreen really be the names of two goats, or two teenaged girls heading to a tatoo parlor? No! Ethel and Doreen are the old ladies, of course. And does Evert Osgood sound like an obnoxious reporter or the kind-hearted construction worker? Jimmy Beaky’s the nosey (Get it?) reporter. Who’s the bra sales woman in stillettos? Karen Sembler or Candy Poppe? Do I even need to clarify that one? That leaves the animals. A basset hound named Bee Bee is possible, but doesn’t Miss Rusty say so much more? And Bee Bee for a parrot who repeats things? I like it!

Although I gave you a test, try not to test your readers. Names should help the reader keep track of who’s who. With that in mind, avoid giving characters names that sound alike (Jimmy and Timmy), and/or start with the same letter (Ethel and Edna). Avoid names that aren’t gender-specific (Francis, Gale, and Terry could be boys or girls), and avoid names that end in “S” because conjunctions and possessives get so darned awkward. (Miss Rusty is Francis’s dog, versus Miss Rusty is Frank’s dog. Neither is a great sentence, but you get the picture.)

Always be on the lookout for the perfect name. Call me odd, but I love wandering around cemeteries! I also have a book of baby names and keep a stockpile of old-fashioned (pre-cell phone era) phone books. Church directories and commencement ceremony booklets are other good sources.
Names may seem like a minor detail, but they’re important!
Answers: 1-f, 2-h, 3-g, 4-c, 5-a, 6-e, 7-d, 8-b
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Cozy mystery author Cindy Blackburn spends her days sitting around in her pajamas thinking up unlikely plot twists and ironing out the quirks and kinks of lovable characters. When she’s not working on the Cue Ball Mysteries or the Cassie Baxter Mysteries, Cindy enjoys taking long walks with her cute hubby John or playing with her fat cat Betty. A native Vermonter who hates snow, Cindy divides her time between the south and the north. Most of the year you’ll find her in South Carolina, but come summer she’ll be on the porch of her lakeside shack in Vermont. Cindy’s favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory, her favorite movie is Moonstruck, and her favorite color is orange. Cindy dislikes vacuuming, traffic, and lima beans. Learn more about Cindy and her books at www.cbmysteries.com.  Cindy can also be found on Facebook and Twitter   www.cbmysteries.com/blog   @cbmysteries  www.facebook.com/CindyBlackburnAuthor

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hillary Clinton Returns


By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


As the Reading Clerk of the Arkansas State Senate I witnessed the couple now known as the Clintons enter the Governor’s Mansion in Arkansas. At the time Hillary was Hillary Rodham. It was much later after the youngest Governor in history lost his re-election bid and became the youngest Ex-Governor in history that Hillary became Hillary Clinton.

This name change along with a new daughter brought the Clintons to a place of family in the eyes of Arkansans. Now Hillary and Bill are grandparents and Hillary is again running for office. The story is the same but different. Very similar but is it by design. The truth is if the story is successful why not continue with it similarities but with a little change here and there. 

Actually this is nothing new. It has been done in literature, movies and songs. Why not politics?
Finding that winning formula and putting your twist on it works. Singer songwriter Garth Brooks spoke of his great love for the song Mrs. Robinson. Brooks wanted his own Mrs. Robinson so he wrote That Summer which is about a young man enticed by an older woman while working on her farm one summer. Singer songwriter Paul Janeway of St Paul and The Broken Bones did the same. Janeway was asked by David Letterman about his song Call Me. Janeway said he had always liked Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789” and wanted a song with a phone number in it. So he wrote Call Me.

The same is true for literature. Themes of love, hatred, overcoming hardship and the like are repeated. The repetition is so evident today that when you go online and buy a book, CD or movie it is immediately noted. You are then offered similar items when you are told, if you bought or liked this, you would probably like this. Marketing has now recognized and is using the very thing authors, songwriters and movie makers have known for years.

The truth is some can tell the same story but better. Some can sing the same song but better. The same is true for movies. Some can make the same movie but better. Who is to say you couldn’t do the same. Think of your favorite story and how you may make it better. What could you do to bring it up to date? Using the theme but making it modern, digital and relative to today. It is possible and if it has a great theme will be done.

The question is who will do it? Or even a better question may be, “Who better than you?”  You may be the one to write the next theme concerning “Hillary Clinton Returns”.
      


    

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Am I A Focused Writer, Today?


By Sharilynn Hunt


I love to discover where writers actually sit and focus on their writing. Connemara, the home of Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), the American poet, writer, and editor, is in Flat Rock, NC. I had visited this National Park many years ago, but this past year I re-visited it through the eyes of an author. Crossing a small pond, near the entrance, I looked at the tranquil water. I could picture myself sitting on a rock or in a small boat with a notepad in hand. Walking the long, steep drive to the house, I noticed the blooming wildflowers showing their perky faces as if to say, “The walk is well worth the effort.” Connemara sits high on 246 acres surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. The visual scenery made me think, how could Carl Sandburg not be a three times Pulitzer Prize winner, writing in this atmosphere?

Carl Sandburg, his wife, Lillian, and family moved from Michigan to North Carolina in 1945. His wife raised prized, champion goats, and he wanted a place to continue his writing at the age most people would retire. The large acreage seemed to be the perfect place to handle both tasks. Stepping back in time, I walked into the house with its furnishings and books. The house contained thousands of books, demonstrating his love for reading. The narrow stairs led up to his writing space, a small, attic-type room. Surprised, I saw an archaic typewriter sitting on a crate. Compared to computers and office furniture today, it seemed a humble spot for a famous writer. Yet, it was his place to focus, a place to remove himself from the world and write. Sandburg often wrote all night while his family slept, and he would sleep in the day. Another one of his writing spots was a backyard chair on a rock or on a mountain cliff, behind his house.

When alone, he allowed the creative writing juices to flow into his writings. He stated once, “One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude.”


Leaving Connemara, I reflected on this famous writer’s lifestyle. He was focused and driven to write the words of a poem, a book or a song. Words were his life. He wrote on an old typewriter, erasing each error on a page—no delete buttons. With today’s technological interruptions through cell phones, emails, Facebook, and twitter, our minds can be diverted in seconds, losing our focus. One lost moment leads into lost minutes. 

As writers, we write in public or private places, on laptops or PCs but most importantly, we learn to focus, listen and write from our creative solitude space. When writing I now ask myself, am I focused to listen? 
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Sharilynn Hunt is the founder of New Creation Realities Ministry, Inc, a prayer and teaching ministry. She is the author of Prevailing Prayer, a ten-lesson course on building effective prayer groups. She continues to write devotionals and has been published in numerous anthologies. More information is on www.ncrministry.com  ShariSwettHunt on Facebook  Shari Hunt on Linkedin

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Get Lost ... in Your Writing


by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine


http://www.southernwritersmagazine.com/subscribe.html
In the March/April issue of Southern Writers, our popular feature "Magnolia Corner" asks the question:

Who do you trust to read your first draft?

The answers we received from Karen White, Cindy Woodsmall, Marji Laine, Joy Ross Davis, Randy Ingermanson, Stephanie Bennett, Bryan E. Powell, Hope Denney, E.E. Kennedy and Connie Chastain are as diverse as the genres they write in.

One thing they have in common is a degree of bravery.  It takes some fortitude to fork over your hard-fought words for their first reading.

An even more important trait they share is that of choosing those readers with care.  By making a discriminating selection, they are assured of getting constructive feedback which will be valuable for their first rewrite.

Getting to the end of a first draft is usually a mix of satisfying and scary, excitement and dread.  But your book has made it to the page from start to finish, and hopefully the rewrite can be met with the same enthusiasm.

But what if you're having trouble even getting to the end of the first draft?

The reasons are multitudinous, and here are some of the more common culprits:
  • The story stalls midway through
  • It's not as easy as you hoped
  • It's not as perfect as you envisioned
  • You gave someone a sneak peek and lost that initial spark
  • You gave someone a sneak peek and let a discouraging word sink in
  • You're self-editing and stifling your creativity

Even the most experienced authors can become their own worst enemy midway through the first draft by listening to the negative voices of self-judgment.

That's when many authors find it helpful to try to separate themselves from their writing.  Often, this is attempted by putting the project aside indefinitely (not the recommended choice, because it may never get returned to).  A more advisable method is to become the conduit, rather than the creator.

Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles, is a champion of learning to listening to inspiration.  He writes:
“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”
Remind me to look up "accrete".

Zen masters go on long journeys to find themselves.  In truth, they are really attempting to lose themselves.  Achieving the elevated state some call "no mind" may not sound easy to do when you're living with yourself 24/7, but in the creative arts it's well worth the effort (or better yet, just try letting go and not trying so hard).

By emptying yourself of the critical you, you make room for the inspiration and motivation that's trying to get back in.

When your creativity gets stuck, step outside yourself and stop, look and listen for what's just beyond you.  If you're lucky you'll get completely lost, and your story will bring you home.


Monday, April 20, 2015

The Reluctant Writer


By Linda R. Shoaf


Whenever I hear friends exclaim their love for writing, I think I’m in the wrong crowd. Yet, am I? I’ve written throughout my career because it was part of my job responsibilities. When others plagiarized my work, I considered it as affirmation and would say, “I’m glad they liked it.”

From a career perspective, it was to my advantage to publish in recognized journals and trade magazines in my field. Many encouraged my efforts. I regarded the numerous newsletters and materials I initiated for my employer or volunteer groups as creative ventures instead of writing.
A busy work and volunteer schedule kept me from pursuing personal writing. I once overheard a professional in my field and prolific writer say, “You don’t find time to write, you make time.” Maybe that’s the problem. Other responsibilities made me reluctant to put aside time to write, so I procrastinated as I tried to finish everything else.

For those like me who consider themselves a reluctant writer, for whatever reason, here are a few pointers to change your view.

Give yourself credit. While I didn’t consider all those programs, workbooks, and other projects as writing, a writer-friend convinced me that writing is writing.

Be confident. I felt secure in the style of work I did for others, but somehow, writing for myself dampened self-confidence. Perhaps it was fear of failure. Regardless, if it wasn’t written or sent somewhere, great ideas were to naught.

Be persistent. I admire those who write and seem to get it correct the first time. A well-known editor of a professional journal once commented, “It takes most people at least seven rewrites to get articles ready to publish.” And I might add, it takes some of us more.

Be consistent. While I’m generally goal-oriented and reasonably organized, all that seems to vanish when I write. It’s difficult for me to establish a specific plan. I make notes on scraps of paper as ideas come to me.

Find the best time and place to write. That’s old news, but it has merit. Many find a quiet spot or have a favorite area to do their work. I laugh and say I often accomplish more sitting in a waiting room because I tune out everything else. At home, it’s always the ding of a washer or dryer, the ring of a cell phone or other electronic device, or hundreds of other distractions.

Keep your own style. I don’t write fiction, but I can analyze and interpret data. It finally occurred to me that it wasn’t a good use of my time to write in a manner uncomfortable to me. Each of us has a unique style.


Whatever your writing aspirations, you can overcome the label of reluctant writer. Adjust your mind-set and get started. 

You ARE a WRITER
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Linda Ross Shoaf is a registered/licensed dietitian-nutritionist with a doctoral degree in adult education. After one year of teaching junior high school, she moved into teaching nutrition and related subjects in colleges, universities, and post-secondary schools. Following several moves with her husband and teaching in five states, they founded Cindryn Group, Ltd. in the late 1980s. Within a few years, Linda integrated her independent work in nutrition and Christian living into their company. Her motto, “To nourish body and spirit” reflects her goal to encourage people in healthy physical and spiritual living. Linda has spoken at local, regional, and national venues and leads nutrition workshops, Bible studies, and national webinars. She serves in leadership roles on community and educational boards. As a registered dietitian-nutritionists, Linda is a national peer-reviewer for many articles, books, position papers and professional materials in her field. Her publications include numerous journal, trade, and consumer articles and devotionals. You can find her blog www.cindryn.com at www.foodfromthegarden.wordpress.com  



Friday, April 17, 2015

Voice in Fiction


By Peggy Webb AKA Elaine Hussey


Much ink is spilled about the basics of writing. You’ll find endless posts about characters, plot, pacing, setting, and the fine art of knowing when to use dialogue versus description.  But how often do you hear a writer talk about magic, that often indefinable element that makes a story rise above all others?

I’ve been writing for a very long time (since 1985), and I remember so clearly what friends told me when they read my first book. “Peggy, it was like sitting on your front porch swing, listening to you talk.” “I would have picked that book out as yours even if I hadn’t seen your name on the cover.” “Reading it felt like being with you; it felt like being in the middle of the story.” Heady stuff, that kind of validation. And what did
it all mean?

When I write, I lose myself in the story; I don’t think about the process. Editors describe me as an organic writer, one who lets the story flow, one who is not afraid to depart from the normal course of things and follow where the story takes me. Still, I’ve taught many writing workshops, and I’ve taught at Mississippi State University. In order to teach, I had to analyze what worked and why. I had to peel back the veil and decipher
the magic.

The easy part of teaching is laying out the basic elements of story. The hard part is explaining voice. “Is it the way the characters talk?” students ask. Yes…and no. “Is it using an omniscient narrator?” Yes…and no.

Here’s what I know about voice: it’s an attitude, powerful and unique, that shines
through the writing. It’s a way of inhabiting characters so the reader can identify each one
without the need for tags - Billie said, Mama said, Jim said.  It transforms the story and compels the reader to turn pages. Voice is a bit of magic.

If you have a copy of my novel, The Sweetest Hallelujah written as Elaine Hussey, turn to pages 14 and 15 to “hear” the voice.

Currently I’m pouring that bit of magic into two projects, another literary fiction novel written as Elaine Hussey (no details yet) and Stars to Lead Me Home, a women’s fiction novel written as Peggy Webb. Stars to Lead Me Home is slated for a June release. I love the cover, love the concept, and am very excited to bring this book to you!

It has been such a pleasure to visit with you today. To learn more about my books and also about my writing process, do visit my websites, www.peggywebb.com and www.elainehussey.com.  You can view my mini-writing class videos on both websites and chat with me about books on my blog, . Periodically, I do wonderful giveaways which are announced on my blog and my social media pages.
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USA Today bestselling author Peggy Webb is the most prolific writer the state of Mississippi has ever produced. This award-winning author has written more than 70 books, 200 magazine humor columns and two screenplays. She writes in multiple genres, including literary fiction as Elaine Hussey. Her acclaimed literary fiction novel, The Sweetest Hallelujah, garnered praise from critics who dubbed her one of the “Southern literary greats” and compared her to Harper Lee and Flannery O’Connor. As Elaine, she is a member of the prestigious, invitation-only literary organization, PEN. A former adjunct instructor at Mississippi State University, Peggy lives in a turn-of-the-century cottage where she loves gardening, playing piano, singing in church choir and sipping sweet tea on her front porch with friends.  Follow the author at www.peggywebb.com and www.elainehussey.com as well as on FaceBook and Twitter.

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