Friday, July 21, 2017

First Time Blogging as an Author


By Christopher Myers


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

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

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Novel Inspiration via John Grisham


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine


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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Writers Do You Do Groups


By Kristi Bradley


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

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

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

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

And learned I knew nothing about writing.

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

Need help with Point of View? Point of who?

Plot holes? That anything like black holes?

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

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

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



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Do You Feel Fragmented?


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


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

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

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

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

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




Monday, July 17, 2017

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


By Terri Kirby Erickson


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

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

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

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

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

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





Friday, July 14, 2017

How I Get to Know My Characters


By Jill Eileen Smith


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Enjoying CAVU


By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


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

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

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

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

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

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

         

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

HOW, WHY AND WHAT I WRITE


By Nick Nixon


I am a published author. Wow, I never get tired of hearing, writing or saying that. The only thing I wrote for thirty five years was advertising copy. When I retired, I started writing humor columns and doing cartoons to go along with them for a few of publications.

I was usually given a theme for each issue and I would write something I thought was humorous that would fit. I eventually joined a local writers group and started writing humorous contributions for their anthologies and other publications.

Someone in the group suggested I write something for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I wrote about my experience with cancer back in 2007. I included my usual stab at humor and sent it in. They actually included it one of their books.

As a result of this, I was interviewed on local radio and television. As I shared all the things I was involved in, one of the hosts asked me if there was anything I haven’t done that I would like to do. I said all writers would like to write a book. I had never really thought about that before, let alone said it out loud.

I mentioned this at our next writers meeting and announced my intention to write a parody of The Maltese Falcon and call it The Maltese Chicken. This got laughs, but my friend who suggested I write for Chicken Soup told me I should write a serious crime novel. Then she gave me a book on writing PI novels. I read it and I was hooked.

I grew up watching old black and white film noir crime movies at our neighborhood movie theatre and I still watch them on television. I like reading crime novels but some of them are not written very well. I thought I could write this stuff, and maybe even better than some of these guys.

One night, as I lay in bed, my brain wouldn’t shut off, and Peter English, PI was born, along with The Frame, a crime novel set in Memphis, TN during the 1940s, right after WWII. Three months and 83,000 plus words later, I had written my first novel. I think Sam Spade, Phillip Marlow and a few other pulp fiction and movie detectives would approve.

The Frame is available on Amazon in print and on Kindle. I just finished Murder on the 13th Green, my second Peter English, PI novel. Tomorrow I start on The Main Street Murders, the third novel in this series.

Do I use an outline? No. I never know what’s going to happen on the next page until I get there. I write in first person, but there is also colorful dialogue. There is gunplay, a bit of humor and even a little romance in these books. Since they are set in 1940s Memphis, I have to do quite a bit of research. I do that as I write. It’s more fun that way.
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Nick Nixon is a native of Memphis. He was educated in public schools and Memphis State University, where he studied art and journalism. He owned and operated Nixon & Associates, a graphic design firm, for 35 years. He started his writing career in 2010, writing humor columns, sometimes including some of his cartoons, for various publications. Nick said he is most proud to have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul.  After retiring form a career in advertising, Nick Nixon began writing crime fiction, inspired by his love of old black and white film noir crime movies of the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. THE FRAME, his first novel in a series Peter English, PI mysteries, set in Memphis, TN during the 1940s, is available on Amazon. MURDER ON THE 13th GREEN, the second in this series is being edited, and he is now writing the third book, THE MAIN STREET MURDERS. He is already working on The Main Street Murders, the third novel in this fictional series.Nick has illustrated books by other authors and is now illustrating a series of children's books he wrote. He said these stories were inspired while reading to his grandchildren. His Social Media Links are: Facebook: nicknixon,author  Blog: nickwits.blogspot.com  Twitter: NickNixon@nick_nickwits



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Who Is Your Contagonist?


by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine


Every good story that has conflict (and every good story does have conflict!) includes at least one hero and at least one villain. As savvy storytellers ourselves, we look for and easily spot the protagonist and the antagonist in the tales we read and watch.  Among the most obvious:

Protagonist: Harry Potter
Antagonist: Lord Voldemort

Protagonist: Dorothy
Antagonist: The Wicked Witch of the West

Protagonist: Batman
Antagonist: The Joker, countless others

We've come to expect that these two archetypes won't come in full head-to-head combat with each other until the final confrontation. The story has to build up to that exciting climax through a variety of complications.  And that's where the contagonist comes in.

So who is the contagonist?  First, let's affirm that the protagonist is "for" something (like achieving the main goal) and that the antagonist is "against" it.  The contagonist plays a role that is "contrary" to the hero's pursuit.  That is, standing in the way of it, or being a distraction from it, though not necessarily with the evil intent of an enemy.

For example, Professor Snape could be considered a contagonist for Harry Potter.  He's not the villain of the story, but he provides tension and conflict along the way.

You could even look at the Wizard of Oz himself as something of a contagonist, because he impedes Dorothy's quest to go home by first giving her a major assignment.

Silence of the Lambs' Hannibal Lector is both an ally and a complication for Detective Starling.  In a buddy comedy like Dumb and Dumber, the heroes are often each other's biggest hurdle.

As in the above examples, the line can be blurred between contagonist and mentor or any other archetype. That alone can add an extra layer of depth to the story.  And yes, the contagonist is sometimes an ally of the antagonist, as in the case of a henchman, or perhaps someone in competition with the adversary.

As you might suspect, the contagonist doesn't have to be human.  Just as the main antagonist can be an asteroid hurling toward Earth or a drought that threatens the farm, any person, thing or circumstance that stands between the hero and the achievement of his/her goal can be considered a contagonist.

A winter storm that keeps someone from getting home in time to stop a wedding. A job change. A lost wallet. A surprise visitor. Any of these can throw a curve ball into the mix.  None intend to thwart the hero, but they do the trick.  The Out of Towners (1970) and Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) are examples of non-malevolent roadblocks to simply getting from one place to another.

Since conflict is at the heart of story, could you add some characters or circumstances that will further delay your hero's progress?  A series of complications that aren't traced to the antagonist will provide added surprises for your audience. And, by some clever coincidence, conquering one of these very complications just might provide the exact skill or know-how that comes in handy during the final confrontation.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Last Step: Keyboard


By Joy Ross Davis


When I first began to write for publication, I did what many writers do: I read books about writing, lots of books. Some were helpful; others not so much. I thought I might find a formula, a tried and true method of writing the right way. I’d read about writers who sat down at the computer and stared at a blank screen waiting for the Muse to descend, itching for their fingers to fly across the keyboard and spill forth greatness. I am not one of those writers.

My process doesn’t begin at the keyboard. It begins far earlier, usually when I’m showering, folding laundry, or making a tuna sandwich, and it begins not with a machine but with a voice, a phrase, or even a conversation that sneaks into my mind while I’m busy doing something else.  The fact is that I hear their voices.

My characters talk to me in snippets long before I know who they are, and for me, this is always how my writing has begun…with a voice in my head, a character who wants to come to life on paper. The one thing I’ve learned through the years is to listen to those voices and to jot down the words I hear. For that very reason, I am a Post-It Note hoarder. In every room of my house, there is at least one of the long, lined “sticky” notes—blue, green, or pink (I’m not fond of yellow) and a pen or pencil. In my rather large kitchen there are two: one by the coffeemaker and one on the table.

My most recent publication is a story about a mute orphan named Bitty Brown. Her name came to me as I showered one night, so I stepped out of the shower and wrote down the name. Over the course of the next few weeks, I heard more and more from her, and even though she is portrayed as mute, she “told” me her story in bits and pieces. She talked to me about her life. I jotted down all the details as she gave them to me.

And then I researched to find out more, and what I discovered became the backdrop of the story.
For every piece of writing that I’ve published, this is my process. It never begins with a keyboard but always with a voice inside my head that needs to be heard. And it’s my job as a writer to do my research, find out what I can, activate my imagination, and give life to that voice.

I’m not sure whether all writers hear these voices, but I’m fairly sure that no matter how a character comes to a writer, whether through research, dreams, notes, or even showering, our characters come to us for one reason. They want life, and they long for us to get to the keyboards and tell their stories. _____________________________________________________________________ 
Joy Ross Davis is a college English professor who retired in 2005 to care for her mother, who suffered from dementia. As a release, the author began to document some of the more humorous and poignant moments as a full-time caregiver. These became articles which were published in a local newspaper. Later, they were compiled into a memoir entitled, Mother, Can You Hear Me? In addition to writing and teaching, she has worked as a travel writer and photographer in Ireland. To date, she has worked with Helping Hands Press to publish five novellas. She has also published a cozy supernatural mystery novel. She lives in Alabama with her son and three beloved rescue dogs. 


Friday, July 7, 2017

Writing Inspiration


By Lynn U. Watson


Where does one find inspiration to bring exhausted material to life in a brand new way? Joy sprouted in my heart when God asked me to write a devotional based on essential oils in Scripture. The journey began in Solomon's Locked Garden (Song of Solomon), where Solomon describes his bride as nine spices and essential oils. Lost for months in that garden, breathing in its aromas, and gathering impressive amounts of research prepared me to write a tedious account of an otherwise fragrant and flavorful topic – an account I was sure would be the perfect antidote for insomnia. I expressed numerous concerns to God, especially when He insisted I showcase their kinship to the nine fruits of the Spirit and the Proverbs 31 Woman.

“Proverbs 31 and the fruit of the Spirit! But Lord. . ..  You do have a plan connecting these two overcooked topics with this garden, and You will help me turn into something special, right?”

Unashamed to admit my discouragement, this daunting task required serious creativity. God delivered in ways far beyond my wildest expectations.  The Essence of Courage: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Solomon's Locked Garden and inYour Heartsprang to life with fresh, unique, eye-opening insights.

·       From her Coffee Cottage fictional character, Cinnamah-Brosia (and friends) pour out wisdom from lessons learned of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.
·       Scriptural glimpses into each spice and essential oil bloom with insight.
·       Up close visits with real women of the Bible provide snapshots of how they displayed fruit of the Spirit in amazing ways in their lives.
·       Fun facts and activities bring each essential oil and spice right to the reader's table.


In the book the reader enters effortlessly into casual conversation at the Coffee Cottage, relates to timeless struggles women face, and gains dear friends. Contemporary women and women of the Bible together challenge the reader to discover faith and fragrance-inspired courage for their lives, regardless of era or circumstance. Far from boring, the snooze button no longer holds a spot on the menu.

Writers, where do you find inspiration to overcome the mundane, and create fresh perspectives and inspiration for your readers?
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Lynn U. Watson was pulled reluctantly into women’s ministry nearly four decades ago, Lynn Watson now treasures the opportunities that were provided to lead, encourage and mentor women through relationships and Bible studies. She wrote a few of the studies, too. Drawing from those experiences, along with years serving others professionally in the complementary healthcare field and her love for essential oils, Lynn delights in bringing her readers freshly inspired insights drawn from and focused on the many fruits, plants, oils, and spices mentioned in God’s Word. Married since 1973, Lynn and Steve call Bartlett, Tennessee home. Their home is filled with handmade treasures and lots of love for family, especially their five beautiful (of course) grandchildren.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

What You Can Learn From J.K. Rowling's Website, Pottermore


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine


Last week the media, Facebook, and the internet in general were all abuzz about the book that started the Harry Potter book series turned 20 years old. My life was different then. I was raising children and began reading the books to my young children the summer of 1997. They loved being read the adventure of the young wizard. 

We attended Harry Potter events in our area surrounding each book release. These were held at midnight with themed events. It was obviously fun for the kids but as an adult, I loved every minute. Watching kids crack open a book and begin reading it while sitting on the floor was amazing. These books changed many non-reading children into readers. As an adult I loved them, too. 

What J.K, Rowling did was unusual. She created books read by both children and adults. Twenty years ago we did not have smart phones. Today, we have a computer in every smart phone which means as an author your website needs to draw readers into your world of words. 

For the twenty year celebration Facebook developed an "Easter egg" which "magically" highlights words all Harry Potter readers know in various colors. When you click on the colored word a magical wand appears and sprinkle lightning bolts of "magic" across the page and then disappear. It is interactive and fun. See below the posting letting FB users copy to their own FB pages. 

"Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. For a limited time, when you type in the names of the four houses they will change color to match their house colors. So, Slytherin turns green, Hufflepuff turns yellow, Ravenclaw turns blue, and Gryffindor turns red. Additionally, if you type in the words “Harry Potter,” that will turn red as well, because Harry is in House Gryffindor."

After posting and helping others "find the magic" I decided to go over to the website created by author, JKRowling. It had been a while since I had been to Pottermore and has it changed. WoW. It is very interactive like a good author website should be. A reader is drawn into the website by being sorted into one of the four houses at Hogwart House and also a reader can test to find his own patronus (personal magical guardian.) as a fan of Rowling's books you could spend hours on the website and not see it all. 

When developing your own website remember your readers want to be drawn into your books world. Each new book you need to update your website so readers keep coming back. 

An important goal and really the purpose of your author website is to draw your readers into your website. Make them want to go through every link on your website by creating items that will be of interest to them. Then update with new features and announce on all your social media links. You may not have the resources of Ms. Rowling but with a little ingenuity you can create a website readers will want to read. 

What have you done to draw readers to your website?