Friday, May 25, 2018

And So, That One Time, She Really Let All Those Words Get in Her Way

By Molly Jo Realy

Creative writing is a tricky beast to edit. After all, it’s the creative aspect that says we can do it however we want, right? Well, that’s not entirely true. You wouldn’t want a doctor to say, “What does it matter how I make the incision as long as we fix you?”

Now, y’all can Google those kill-words with one hand holding your sweet tea, and you’ll find tons (okay, maybe not tons, but definitely a lot) of articles on words to avoid. Ways to “fix” your voice. And how to make the most of your manuscript.

I have a few self-editing starter tips for you:

Stop writing so many words. “But I’m a writer. It’s what I do.” It’s too easy to drag down your story with needless words. A quick fix is to do an edit/search: And. So. Once. Then. Later. Just. That. Was. More often than not, you can remove these words and your story will be stronger for it.
Also try to avoid words ending in -ly. Words that tell instead of show: Know. See. Feel.
Instead of, “She saw the curtains billow” (passive voice) try “The curtains moved” (active).

Avoid retelling. Often, a first draft narration unnecessarily repeats actions and dialogue. Tell it or (preferably) show it, but don’t do both.
George missed the nail and hit his thumb with the hammer, and let out a yell.
Ava looked up from her garden. “What happened, George?”
George grimaced. “I hit my thumb with the hammer.” He waved his thumb around and blew on it.
tightens to
George’s scream shook Ava and she looked up from her garden. “What happened?”
He was blowing on his thumb. “Ah, I just hit myself with the hammer.”

Let someone else edit. I know. Y’all are thinking, “SoBeBoHo Girl say whaat?” You know what your story shouldread like. You’re living there, right? You spent months, if not years, with these people, in this place. You see the world you created. You need to let someone else come along side to take the teal-colored glasses off and show you what you’ve missed. Oh, hey. Your characters Jack and John and Joni get a little mixed up.

In my first draft, four of my six main characters had five letters and two syllables to their names. Now it’s a mix and no two sound alike. I also mentioned the humidity in New Orleans. Well, I’m from the SoCal desert, and humidity is a bit of a novelty. So when my character flies from LA to NOLA, she enjoys the wet weather. And when she steps outside, she feels the humidity. And when she opens a window, she’s greeted by damp air … Ya tired of it yet? Yeah. So was my editor.

A second set of eyes helps vacuum the dust bunnies out of the manuscript, leaving you with something shiny and polished, something you’re proud to show off.

With a red pen and ready eye,

Happy editing. 
A Southern Belle in Southern California, and known to her friends as the Bohemian Hurricane, Molly Jo is a writer, editor, social media ninja, and producer of Aaron Gansky’s Firsts in Fiction podcast. Her writings have been featured in children’s magazines, on national blogs and devotional websites, and have earned her awards and scholarships from nationally-acclaimed writing programs. She is the founder of New Inklings Press, author of The Unemployment Cookbook: Ideas for Feeding Families One Meal at a Time, and other books available through her website and on Amazon. Her current work in progress, NOLA, is a location mystery set in New Orleans and is scheduled for publication in 2018. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and her blog, Frankly, My Dear . . . For more information on her social media, marketing services and books, contact her through her website

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Film Noir from the 1940’s & 1950’s is Being Reinvented in Modern Thrillers

By Annette Cole Mastron

According to Noir Alley on the TCM channel, it’s true. They claim the 1st film noir was Stranger on The Third Floor, made in 1940. It’s a cult favorite. It helps that Peter Lorre & Elijah Cook, Jr. are the co-stars. True to noir, the spunky girlfriend solves the crime while the male protagonist is unavailable. 

Some say the first is Maltese Falcon, released in 1941, because it made so much of an impact in defining the genre. One of the best articles on film noir is by Eddie Muller who writes, "The men and women of this sinister cinematic world are driven by greed, lust, jealousy, and revenge—which leads inexorably to existential torment, soul-crushing despair, and a few last gasping breaths in a rain-soaked gutter. But damned if these lost souls don't look sensational riding the Hades Express."

A show of psychological dread, sweaty paranoia, expressionistic imagery, search for demonism, amoral characters, devious behavior, smart mouth sarcasm, and a cynical world view is essential for a true film noir story. 

Cry Danger starring Dick Powell was shot in the Bunker Hill section of downtown LA and a seedy trailer park in the same area during the late 1940’s and 50’s. The comedic conversation with dead-pan delivery by Powell makes a wonderful example of film noir at its best. Screen writer Bowers delivers a script that encompasses all the components of classic film noir with a few twists to the normal noir story. 

No Questions Asked, a 1951 noir movie starring Barry Sullivan involved in an insurance scam recovery tale. Sidney Shelton wrote the screenplay from an adaptation of Bernie Giler’s story. Giler went on to write television episodes as did Shelton. Shelton then become a popular novelist. In “No Questions Asked," Shelton wrote cynical and amusing twists built into the story that can be seen in his later move into novels. 

Of course, who can forget the value of a film noir character almost always present, “TB with the H of G” (Tough Broad with the Heart of Gold)? Sultry, Lauren Bacall epitomizes that as she turns just prior to leaving the room and says to Humphrey Bogart (in the noir movie To Have and Have Not), "You know how to whistle, Steve, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow". It’s the sassy dialogue that makes this film memorable. The book of the same title was written by Ernest Hemingway, and the screenplay was written by William Faulkner. It is not surprising with these authors' talents that it’s considered a cream of the crop film noir. 

I’ve recently read a number of current “psychological thrillers” that seem to get a lot of there story ideas and some structure from the classic film noir plots. The Last Mrs. Parrish, The Wife Between Us, The Woman in the Window, The Lying Game, and The Woman in Cabin 10 all have elements of film noir stories. The difference is the expansion of characters' behaviors and interactions with other characters to keep the reader reading. When all is said and done in the end, like in film noir, there will be revenge, retribution and resurrection of the cast of characters. 

Watch a couple of film noirs and see what you think. Does it compare to the latest book genre, psychological thrillers?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Art of Writing Out of Your Head

By Charlotte D. Hunt

You sit in front of your computer with thoughts of fantastic characters, brave new worlds, and words that will make a difference in the lives who need it most. Your heart beats with excitement experiencing the privilege you’ve been given to create and interpret words to the masses as a gift. You write with freedom and joy. Then gradually, thoughts, doubts, and distractions, bit by bit, and day by day draw you further away from the joy and freedom of your craft. Does that pattern sound familiar?

When I wrote my first book, my fingers could not move fast enough for words to run on the page. Thoughts came freely from the passion of the work and the focus of what I wanted to say. Over time, I began to think about the opinions of others.  I doubted the book’s value and began to focus on everything running through my mind except the reason why I began to sit at the computer to write in the first place. I was working to write one nice, well-structured sentence after the next in short spurts. 

However, I lost the joy and freedom of, “Writing out of my Head.” I was so busy trying to be the next John Grisham that I failed to simply use my own gifts and share the value of my message for others. I was not enjoying the process of writing.

Eventually, my editor and friend simply told me, “Stop thinking and just write!” It was the best advice that I have ever received as a writer and I offer it to you. Stop thinking and simply begin to write out of your head. We certainly need to do our research, market work, create outlines, and do the administrative non-writing part that goes with our craft. However, once we sit at the computer or instrument of choice to write we can write out of our heads with freedom.

There are a few steps to begin to write out of your head:

1. Before you sit down to write, remind yourself why you are writing this work. Are you trying to entertain, educate, inform, encourage, etc.? Allow that to be your sole focus during your time of writing for that day.

2. When you sit down to write, just write without editing yourself or worrying about grammar, punctuation, structure, or interpretation. Allow editing to be done once great and flowing thoughts and words have been placed freely on the page.

3. The moment your mind begins to clutter with the opinions of people, doubt, the pressure of agents, fear, or anything outside of your focus, stop writing and walk away. Distract yourself, get refocused, and then begin writing again.

When we master the art of writing out of our heads, we become the creative artists our readers deserve and our readers enjoy the fruits of our unfettered writing.  Happy writing!
Charlotte D. Hunt is the award-winning author of seven books, a national speaker, counselor, retired international runway model, off Broadway actress, recording artist and Jazz musician, national radio personality and founder of Hunt for Personal Optimization. She has been featured on numerous radio and television programs, three national documentaries, PBS specials, The 700 Club and has impacted lives worldwide encouraging individuals to use their journeys to change the world one story and one life at a time. Social Media: Website: Facebook: Twitter: Pinterest:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


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

In certain religions and cultures, dragons have spiritual significance and they are revered. To some the dragon represents nature. Some even associate the dragon with wisdom.

Mice we think of as a small mammal. To some people they are pets. To large birds, they are food. These little creatures also invade our homes for food and shelter.

What do you think of when you think of a dragon? I will admit I certainly would not think of them as having wisdom. They are big, and fire pours out of their mouth creating havoc and poisoning the air.
Of the two, I think the mouse has more wisdom, certainly smarter; it sneaks into our homes for survival.

We humans are similar… either we come on so strong it turns people off or we are so timid no one hardly knows we are around.

For a writer it is important to find balance between being a dragon and a mouse. A shy writer needs to overcome their shyness, to tell people they are writers.

If the book is at your publishers announce it to the world, give them the release date, and give updates periodically and insights on the process. Express your feelings and the thrill of anticipating the book’s release.

Be a little more ‘dragonistic’ (I like this new word)! Just don’t go totally dragon on us and forget there are others who are writing too.

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Detailed Story Outline is Key

By Rich Ritter: The New Voice of the American West

I know what you’re thinking: “Why do I care about something as tedious as a story outline?” I understand. I’ve spoken with several authors who began a novel with only a minimal outline or (in one case) none at all. This approach may work for some, but I feel compelled to prepare a detailed story outline—likely because I am pathologically analytical. Recently, I heard a celebrity brag that it took over three months to write his book. I find this statement quite amusing because this is typically the length of time I require to write the outline. With this in mind, here are my suggested components of a detailed story outline:

1)       Book Titles. The first title that pops into your mind is usually not the best. Write it down anyway. And don’t stop there: record all potential titles, especially when they come to you in the bathroom.
2)      List of Characters. You have probably already imagined a number of characters. Write these down too, including when they were born, place of birth, interesting life experiences, psychological traits (especially pathologies), and anything else you can think of. Organize by primary and secondary.
3)      Chapters and Titles. I know this sounds painful, but you don’t have to come up with the entire Table of Contents in one sitting. List as many as you can, then give it a rest. If you keep thinking about it over the next few weeks, the chapters will automatically present themselves as your subconscious works it out while you’re asleep.
4)      The First Sentence of Every Chapter. At this point, you’re probably saying, “You’ve got to be kidding!” Well, I’m not. Just write out the sentences. Revise or replace them later.
5)      Outline of Each Chapter. This is why it takes months to prepare a detailed story outline (unless you’re a celebrity). If you can’t outline the chapters now, then you certainly can’t write them later.
6)      Research Notes. Mark Twain said, “The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.” Since I write edgy historical fiction, I always keep this in mind. Record any historical information relevant to your story, including sources. Insert links to Internet websites, articles, or news stories that will improve the authenticity of your writing. If you collect printed materials, organize for easy retrieval.
7)      Historical Photographs. I’ve used a single photograph to inspire a protagonist, an important event, or an entire chapter. Employ your favorite search engine to find photographs pertinent to your genre and story. Save with descriptive file names in a separate folder for each chapter. Make it a game and collect photos by the hundreds.

I encourage you to prepare the story outline in a series of increasingly improved drafts until you are deeply satisfied with your effort. When you finally begin that masterpiece, you will find that it nearly writes itself!
Rich Ritter is the son of a father who worked in the aerospace industry and a mother who taught first grade. Born in the Midwest during the Korean War, his family moved to California before he began the first grade. He attended second grade through high school in Anaheim, and then California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. He completed his thesis year in Denmark, and while there met Kristine from Alaska—in the balcony of the Royal Danish Ballet during a performance of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. He moved to Alaska and married Kris a few years later. The author and his wife have two sons. Book titles: Toil Under the Sun: A Novel, Heart of Abigail: A Lyric Novella of Juneau, Douglas and Treadwell, Nor Things To Come: A Trilogy of the American West, Book One: The Perilous Journey Begins, Book Two: Gathering of the Clans, Book Three should be available in 6 months (or thereabouts). His social Media links:  --  --  --  --

Friday, May 18, 2018

Writing Authentic and Accurate Law Enforcement

By DiAnn Mills

Some writers of suspense and crime fiction believe TV shows and movies provide accurate representation for local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Unless a professional is hired to assist the script and scene, the depictions on the screen are designed to entertain and move the story along, and may miss correct protocol.

Writers, this means the professionals want to help us create realistic stories about their critical roles.

While we enjoy the peace of mind of having a trained person carry a weapon and keep us safe, we also have the responsibility of supporting the courageous people who put their lives on the line for us. They can’t do their job alone. For this partnership to work, law enforcement agencies seek to educate the community on the how and why of their unique positions. They offer programs and immerse themselves into neighborhoods to listen to the needs of others.

Procedure, laws, jurisdiction, and terminology differ according to the agency. So how does a writer ensure a story’s research is factual?

The answer is to contact the law enforcement agency directly. Most all agencies have a media specialist or public relations person assigned to answer questions. When I began writing suspense, I had to move from my introverted self to an extrovert and make a few phone calls. I kept telling myself that the person on the other end of the phone could only say no. What I discovered is just the opposite! Just like I enjoyed talking about my life as a writer, I found the law enforcement agency representatives were excited to talk about their chosen profession.

Here are a few tips to help you reach out for the correct information:

1.          Establish what law enforcement agency will be featured in your book—local, state, or federal.
2.          Prepare questions for an interview. A writer wants to know what the person likes about his/her job, dislikes, a typical day, how the job affects personal life, hobbies, what the person does for fun, and the list goes on. If you have a characterization sketch, look at those prompts as guidelines to prepare the interview.
3.          Contact the agency and introduce yourself. Ask to speak to the public relations person. Explain what you need and schedule a physical, phone, or email Q&A. Thank the person.
4.          If the writer is fortunate to have a face-to-face with the expert, take the time to get to know the person. Many traits of our heroes and heroines rise from these conversations. Listen to how the person talks and the words used.

Many law enforcement agencies in bigger cities offer citizens programs to those who desire to help be liaisons between the agency and the community. Those involved in citizens outreach programs influence their own circle of people. The classes are approximately 6 to 8 weeks long with regular meetings to keep those in the program informed, educated—and have fun.

Understand some agencies can’t provide us with details due to the sensitive nature of their work. The following law enforcement agencies are known for their citizens programs and there may be more:

1.          Citizens Police Academy
2.          FBI Citizens Academy
3.          DEA Citizens Academy
4.          U.S. Marshals Service Citizens Academy
5.          State Highway Patrol Citizens Academy
6.          ICE Citizens Academy

Writers, step out of your comfort zone and search for the information to ensure your story is rich with facts.
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Mountainside Marketing Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook:, Twitter: or any of the social media platforms listed at

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Nancy Veldman’s Magnolia House

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

While visiting our cousin Chris Stewart at her beautiful home at Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, I was given a book she was reading. It was a novel Old Man Rivers by author Nancy Veldman. Chris went on to explain Nancy had a shop nearby in Miramar Beach suggested we stop by there. After reading a portion of the book I decided to make the visit. I was familiar with the Grand Boulevard area because one of my favorite restaurants, Tommy Bahamas, is located there. If I am in the area I never fail to stop and eat there. So I was happy to have another reason to stop in and since I had been told Nancy was a Memphis, Tennessee native I felt it was a must.   

Author, pianist and artist Nancy Veldman refers to her gift shop / bookstore as a gathering place. Nancy was in when we stopped in on a Sunday afternoon and she has indeed made it a most comfortable place to be. Her shop has its own bookstore area which feels like you are in your private library.  There you will find current works by familiar authors including many authors from the coastal area. Like many shops owned by authors there is an amazing effort on their part to promote not only their works but the works of other authors.   

There among all the beautiful things in her shop was an area dedicated to Nancy’s books, CDs and artwork. Nancy has written over 100 songs and released 10 CDs. She has also written seven novels and working on an eighth. It was a wonderful experience to not only see her shop but to meet the author. Nancy spent a lot of time with my wife and me talking about her books, music, artwork and her life. She had the most interesting story of her receiving the Key to the City of Memphis for humanitarian efforts.

Nancy’s goal is to keep on giving. Today Nancy feeds the homeless in the Destin, FL area and ministers to the poor. Her music is played in hospitals, cancer centers, schools and businesses. CEOs of hospitals have flown in to meet her so they could pipe her music in their hospitals. If asked how she does it all her answer is, “We have no understanding of what we are capable of in this life we live, until we allow ourselves to step out and try. As many have said, it is the fear of failure or acceptance of mediocrity in our lives that keeps us from ever becoming.”

Nancy has done a great job in giving back not only to her community but to fellow authors. You can visit her on her website.  She can also be found on YouTube, Facebook, Amazon and iTunes.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Pat Conroy and Me

By Tina Murray, Ph.D.

"What do you do?" renowned Southern writer Pat Conroy asked me during his book-signing event at the Miami Book Fair, years ago. Mr. Conroy was about to sign a copy of his latest novel, which I had just purchased.

"Well, I'm trying to be a writer," I replied, my voice feeble  and apologetic.

He contemplated me.

The two of us were not alone. Fans stood in line nearby to meet-and-greet the famous author. However, that is how I remember the event--as if, suddenly, Mr. Conroy and I  had been set apart from physical reality and isolated by a single spotlight. His response to my whine was immediate and definite.

"You say, 'I am a writer.'" he ordered, signing.

I was astonished.

"I am a writer," I said tentatively. Comprehending, I repeated the words, with conviction. "I am a writer."

He closed the book and handed it to me. He waved an index finger in my direction. "Never let anyone tell you you can't do it," he said. "Not anyone," he said emphatically.

I nodded, agape. He went on.

"Not your family, your friends, your boyfriend--" He reeled off a laundry list of potential saboteurs. 

"No one."

I think I thanked him. I hope I did. Dazed, I had wandered off, drifting back into the milling throng of book enthusiasts. Absorbing what had occurred  I wandered, as evening fell, warm and humid.

Something dramatic and significant had happened in my life.  That night, my body rode home on the Metrorail, but my head remained in the ozone. Pat Conroy had changed my life.

He had given me the keys to tenacity. Nothing is more crucial to the writing life than tenacity. A writer may possess great talent, be a stellar craftsperson, and approach artistry, but none of it matters if  the writer's work is left unfinished. Tenacity matters.

He had given me the keys to Tena City, as it were, or to Tina City. He had unlocked my resolve.

Since that conversation, I have written three novels, each published by ArcheBooks. My latest novel, A BIG FAN OF YOURS, is Volume Three of my series, "Starlight on the Gulf."  The  series, which also includes Volumes One and Two, A CHANCE TO SAY YES and A WILD DREAM OF LOVE, did not write itself, I promise you. These novels exist because of Pat Conroy's kind words.

His righteous insight gave me permission to persevere, permission I had denied myself, from an early age, in various pursuits. Often, I had taken the advice of naysayers. Worse, I had talked myself out of goals.

Now I know I do not have to give in, bow down, or buckle under to negativity, no matter its source.

Neither do you, writer.

I am a grateful for the opportunity to pass along Pat Conroy's advice to a host of Southern writers. I believe he would have wanted it that way.
Tina Murray, Ph.D. has ventured her way into the publishing world after years spent in a wide range of pursuits. Insight gained, especially as an actress and artist, subsequently enhanced by degrees in art education, education, art and drama from the the Florida State University and the University of Miami, has fed her imagination for her debut romance novel A Chance to Say Yes. Now she enjoys the sunny shores of paradise as she prepares the sequel in her movie-star dynasty. Website


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How the Pros Market to Today's Audience

by Gary Fearon, Southern Writers Magazine

Coca-Cola print ad, 1905
Delicious! Refreshing! Exhilarating! Invigorating!

These enthusiastic adjectives were the sum and substance of the very first ad for a brand new product called Coca-Cola, circa 1886. The soda pop giant has been advertising as long as any other product that comes to mind, and as always, it helps to take a lesson from the masters.

Mind you, not because we want to promote our books with over-the-top adjectives, but rather to observe how advertising experts like Coke have changed their strategies to adapt to the times.

Over the decades, Coca-Cola has been marketed by such monikers as "The Ideal Beverage for Discriminating People", "The Ideal Brain Tonic" and "The Drink of All the Year" (awkward as that sounds). It's hard to imagine these slogans having an effect on today's ad-weary and ad-wary audience.

As the buying public grew more sophisticated, it also became more skeptical, requiring proof to back up grandiose slogans. So ads went into considerable detail to fully explain a product and its particulars. "The bright tang of Coke is always welcome after a busy day of shopping. The bracing sparkle and the bit of quick energy you get in Coke makes it the perfect refreshment every time. It gives you a bright little lift; it brings you back so refreshed, so quickly..."

Diet Coke "Because I Can" campaign
Compare that to the latest ads for Diet Coke.  The primary message is that life is short and you should do whatever makes you feel good. (If that happens to be drinking Diet Coke, they wouldn't mind that a bit.) Rather than sell the product, they show others enjoying it, and basically let you decide for yourself.

Today's buyer is more vulnerable than ever to an invitation that makes them feel understood and important. In this age where they are bombarded with pop-up ads on PCs and video marketing at the gas pumps, they've learned to ignore blatant "buy me" marketing. Slice of life scenarios that are easy to relate to are what gets their attention.

That said, books are not Coke. Potential readers still want a detailed description of a novel to know what they're getting. But they are thirsty for a good experience, and buying books is a largely emotional and often impulsive decision easily influenced by the idea that something positive will come from it.

Would your book make a great gift for Fathers Day? Graduation? Christmas? Somehow it feels like less of a sales pitch when the purchase will be an act of benevolence.

Will your book help the reader escape into a world of mystery, history, romance, chills? An evocative cover will do more to sell the sizzle that an aggressive come-on. Your website, blog and other marketing materials need be little more than a reinforcement of the experience the reader seeks to convince them that your books are exhilarating! Invigorating! Oras Coke might saythe real thing.

Today, soft sell is king, and the advertising adage "Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle" is as sound as ever. Especially if you can sell the sizzle with subtlety.

Monday, May 14, 2018

How Do I Keep Motivated When Writing a Novel?

By Gabrielle F. Culmer

When I write, a novel can take up to one year or less to complete. To keep motivated, I would write a few hundred words at a time until I find the word flow. It takes commitment, concentration and a very quiet environment. Usually, I write early in the morning or in a very secluded environment, possibly in another city. Often, I first visualize myself writing in a place where I wrote another novel and then either physically or psychologically transport myself to that environment where I have completed that work and continue with the sequel or start a new idea. This then increases to a few thousand words at a time.

There are many ways to keep motivated, I try to keep my mind active by reading something else, such as a favorite author or biography. Or you may treat yourself, if you have completed an enormous task, by a meal out or an outing. This may be to the gym, horseback riding, the theater, time with family members, a restaurant in, perhaps, Mayfair, a trip to your favorite countryside, or a familiar city which provides a different subject matter and motivation. It can also be a lovely memory with friends and family that motivates you and can be reformatted to something positive in the story.        

It has also been by completely removing myself from the scenario and then compacting my mind with something unrelated, such as daily work. For instance, Damp Whisper based in London, was started in my free time after a long hiatus from the UK and just after the State bar exams and another Master’s degree in Chicago. Whereas, Arrive by Dusk was started after a total immersion visit to France. Whatever the location, I find it helpful after hours or months of writing to visit another creative place such as a museum, a place of worship, a class, an art store, a concert, or a historical country chateau to induce my creativity. Writing is very therapeutic and once you appreciate the effect that it can have and how it relates to others, you will want to keep writing.
Gabrielle F. Culmer is the author of five fiction novels, including, Where Lives Lead, Restoring Patterns, and Arrive by Dusk, as well as two collections of poetry, recently, Glenely Bay and Nostalgia from Paris. She is a lawyer, and has Bachelor and Master of laws degrees from universities in New York, London, Canterbury, and Chicago. She enjoys traveling, theatrical drama, horseback riding and researching history in her free time.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Goldilocks Method

By Patty Lovell 

I’m blessed with a number of good friends I can turn to for fun, laughter, and support. I love them, but none of them writes. They're not illiterate, mind you. They just hate to write ANYTHING more than 144 characters. When I try to talk to them about my writing life, you'd think I was trying to explain what an Aggie is. If you didn't go to Texas A&M, you don't care. Plus, my ego may do backflips and somersaults when they critique my work telling me, “I love it“ EVERY SINGLE TIME, this doesn't help me become a better writer. And as much as I adore my friends, when they ask me for the hundredth time, “When will it be published?” I feel my Mr. Hyde coming out.

It was suggested I join a writer's group. Great advice for us solitary scribes, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Joining a writer's group that fulfills your needs is like Goldilocks searching for that perfect bed. When I walked into the first meeting for a local organization, I felt as though I was attending a high school reunion, but it wasn't my alma mater. Everyone knew each other “forever” and most of the meeting was spent reminiscing about the good 'ol days, when newspapers ruled and grammar mattered. This group was too relaxed for me.

Not ready to give up, I found another group of writers, and I was elated to see such diversified and eclectic members. I thought I had found my tribe, but soon realized I didn't speak their language. After one member used ansible, terraforming, and cryostatis in the same sentence, I realized most were sci-fi writers. This group was much too focused for me.

I became a tad desperate and joined an online writers group. There were so many sub-groups and topics to choose from that I felt as though I had entered writer’s nirvana. My elation quickly subsided when I attempted to join in on discussions and critiques. I couldn't keep people's names straight and who wrote what, and soon became lost in the thread of postings. Too confusing. (OK, the real reason I quit was because I couldn't settle on an avatar).

I was ready to admit defeat, go back to my Howard Hughes M.O. of writing, until a friend told me about one more writer's group. I walked into the room and it was Deja vu. Everything and everyone felt familiar and comfortable, as though I had attended a previous time with no recollection. I was elated! Like Goldilocks, I didn’t give up and I had found the group that was just right for me.
Patty Lovell writes mystery and mainstream novels, essays, even children's books. She is a former high school English teacher and librarian who also spent over ten years in business and has even had her invention, The Scoop, sold on As founder of Girls on the Run of Stark County, a national non-profit for young girls that uses a fun, experience-based curriculum that integrates running to enhance confidence and self-esteem, she knows the value of physical activity for health and for her writing life. Patty has had several essays published in Cleveland Plain Dealer, and hopes to have her first novel, Unclaimed, finished this year.