Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Hurricane Michael’s Toll on our Authors and Friends

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Each of us have a family member, friend or acquaintance that suffered from the damage of Hurricane Michael. Those that can have let others know they are safe. It is the ones we have yet to hear from that are a concern. I do realize during a time of disaster most are focused on survival and recovery not reporting their status to us. I did hear from two friends of Southern Writers Magazine this week, both on their Facebook post after the storm. Both were on the western edge of the storm. Although there was damage and power outages they felt blessed but concerned about their friends to the east.  I hope you take to heart their words. The first is from Sundog Books in the popular 30A area of Florida. 

They posted a picture of the bookstore after the storm. See a recent SuiteT blog about them. “Thank you endlessly for all of the kind words and prayers. Our little slice of paradise was lucky, but our friends to the east have suffered catastrophic damage. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers and help in any way that you can. We will be closed until further notice while we get the Sundog crew back safely home and await power restoration.

Thanks again to all of you. You’re the best.” Sundog Books

The second was a beautiful sentiment from Author, Artist and Musician Nancy Veldman. Nancy owns Magnolia House Lifestyle Store in Sandestin’s Grand Boulevard Town Center in Miramar Beach, FL There is also a recent Suite T blog highlighting Nancy and her shop at this link

”It’s night time for us all. You know how sometimes your bones are tired? Well, tonight I am bone tired. Pushed hard today, both mentally and physically... it felt good at the time.. but now, well, I am sitting in my chair with my feet propped up, thankful to just be alive. What a week we've had ... so many people suffered.... all of us on our knees praying ..for those who don't have a home tonight... no where to go... not sure where they will turn for help..or how they will figure it all out.... We never know what life will throw at us.. all of us at one time or another have experienced a tough time.... one that sucked the air out of us... but tonight I only know one thing for sure, that God, our God is with us. He will see us through all of it... the good, the bad and the ugly. He has not forgotten anyone. Reach out and help.. give what you can... and I know without a doubt God will lift up those who were knocked down.. either on His own or through us if we are willing. Loving you tonight. Stay close and rest your bones, as I will ... on this cool fall-feeling night.” Nancy Veldman

If you were in the path of Michael let us know how you are doing. Our hope and prayers are that all are safe. 

Monday, October 15, 2018


By Sherese Lyons

The Call-As I think about all the distractions one could face, none are as intense as when you are trying to do the thing God has called you to do. I can remember when the Lord began to show me that he designed me to write. Of course, I rejected the idea at first. But it wasn’t an idea it was a mandate. The messages intensified. I began to accept the calling on my life. When I wholeheartedly embraced his call, what he poured into me, it rapidly began to pour out of me through my pen. At any time of the day or night, the Holy Spirit was giving me topics to write about. The hard part was; how would I do it, and I needed to steal my own time and space to do it.

How I wrote 14 books in a little under three years. Issues that youth face began to consume me. I would right them down, saying to myself, I would get to them later. Later would never come because those topics would continue to brew in me, until I stopped what I was doing and wrote out what was being downloaded into me. I was being filled with motivational ways to handle young adult issues. Sometimes I would be awakened at 11:00pm, with an entire story to write. My sleep pattern changed. When awakened late at night, I would write into the early morning hours of 5:00am or 6:00am. I accepted it as the norm. While my family was cozy and snuggled in their beds, I was burning midnight oil, pumping out stories. In addition, I learned that my best writing (season), is fall and during heavy rain and thunderstorms. It’s a creative time for me.

Demanding my time and space from family and distractions. You have to lovingly and firmly demand what’s yours. Family and your surroundings consume you and claim you. You have to take from them your; time (set some aside to write) and your space (a room in your home) to write. They will realize your devotion to writing, once they "see" how serious you are. For example: My family/household knows, that when I post my sign "Meditating" or "At Work" on my bedroom door, that means, don’t bother me. Don’t knock on the door. It took them sometime, but they began to respect my time and my space for my craft. Distractions of phone calls, daily tasks of all sorts and talks with friends had to be put on hold.
Encouragement for writers. How I do it: Prayer - Focus – Being observant - Stealing what’s already mine––my time. How to do it: Write about the passion God puts in your heart – Whenever a story or a piece of information rises within you, write it down/write it out – Journal if you must. More Tips: Don’t count words, write – Don’t count pages, write – Write until your empty, take a break (a few hours, a day or two, a week if needed) to refill and refuel, and then continue to write. Sticking to the things I’ve mentioned, has allowed me to write 14 books.
Sherese Lyons-I love God and helping people heal. Some of my passions are, showing people the root cause of things that have them bound and help them dig it up, once and for all. I am fond of speaking wisdom and inspiration. Furthermore, I am a writer of inspirational fiction for youth and parents. I am the author of a 3-book series on youth, their mishaps and Christ, a 6-book series for children, 2-books of messages, a book of quotes and a book of poems for youth. Currently I am writing: movie adaptation of my 6-book series for children on bullying. I am a member of IWA (International Writers Association). My education includes; creative writing and a B. S. in Criminal Justice. My website www.sheresemlyons.com Social media links www.linkedin/in/sheresemlyons   www.twitter.com/ShereseMLyons


Friday, October 12, 2018


By Char Jones

Recently I was asked about my explosive growth of Facebook Friends from one — thanks author Louise Mangos! — to 3000 Friends in the first two weeks. As any writer knows, social media is king these days. So pulled some thoughts together about the journey to how a red-haired girl whose first-read words were Burger Beer from a billboard.

Always a reader. Came out of the womb with a book in both hands. Made a living as a writer for many years. Spent an equally long time in PR and healthcare marketing. Reviewing its full-circle coming.

Rejoined two years ago to connect with far-flung theater friends across the globe ... in Australia, Malaysia, Saskatoon, and across the U.S. Wrote short pieces, got positive feedback from my creative tribe, which meant a great deal, so started doing more reviews. 

One of my favorite authors Susan Elia MacNeal announced on Facebook that early advance review copies were available on NetGalley for her fab upcoming THE PRISONER IN THE CASTLE. So I joined, got approval to review Susan’s book, and then did many many more. Just completed my 300th book review today!

Earned NetGalley Badges for doing 10, then 25, then 50 reviews — all posted on Goodreads — and when I stumbled on my Goodreads ranking I was shocked — #2 as a reader and #12 as a reviewer globally. Whew! 

Writers and publishers began to contact me directly, and Friend Requests rolled in. I did sweat equity too, spending time each day making requests myself.

Began clicking “People You May Know” button to request friends among my bookish tribe. Soon found that potential friends already had upwards of 400 mutual contacts. A critical mass had been reached — Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” — and the more I clicked, the more swiftly the network grew.

Now, I’ve set more goals ... for 5000 Friends (max #) on Facebook and on Goodreads. And 500 reviews by summer’s end on NetGalley.

Ignore the header. These current stats are true!

• 3642 Facebook Friends 

• 2078 Goodreads Friends

• 300 NetGalley Reviews

As I write, the Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road” plays. It’s been the best kind of trip so far, one for which I thank my many new friends! Brief update: reached NetGalley pinnacle over the weekend of 500 reviews. And just yesterday added new Facebook Friends from Moscow, Paris, Rome, Belgium, Brazil, Germany and Spain. Plus, this week had review requests or consultations with a London historical writer, an Israeli author of thrillers, an Egyptian literary short story author, and an American historical fiction biographer of Hedy Lamarr — all reflective of the power of social media. 
Char Jones writes book reviews and sundries on her Facebook blog, Literary Soirée. She’s a past entertainment journalist, medical writer and healthcare marketing executive. When she dies, Char wants to be buried in red lipstick, distressed jeans, and ruby cowgirl boots — with a book clutched in each hand! Social Media:  Literary Soirée  https://www.facebook.com/literary.soiree.5

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Writing Assignments from a Fiction Book

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Over the summer, I read two different books. Each book had a unique style in telling a story. Last month, I discussed the style of Megan Miranda’s book, “All the Missing Girls.” At this link you can see my blog post titled, Writing Backwards.

Today, I’ll focus on Susan Breen's novel, The Fiction Class, a book that kept my attention from beginning to end. This book interweaves the challenges of writing, and teaching writing, interspersed with the challenges of the protagonist’s ever-changing life and a touch of romance and sadness. These life changes were believable and identifiable by any reader.

The author, according to her website, “teaches creative writing at Gotham Writers in Manhattan and is a faculty member at New York Pitch Conference and New York Writers Workshop.” She knows a thing or two about the exercise of writing. Each of her chapters gives a glimpse into the writing class and ends in a writing assignments. These assignments are excellent writing prompts for all authors. You will find nuggets of “how to” tips sprinkled throughout this book as the protagonist teaches her students.

It gave me the idea for a blog that leaves our 
readers with a “writing assignment.”

Author of The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros said, "Writers always live their lives facing backwards, [considering] things we said or could have said, or things we wish we could take back. The work we do is precisely about trying to clean up the mess we made, the kind of emotional footprints we leave behind, or the mess we inherit."

Okay, so here’s your “writing assignment.” 

Choose a particular moment in your life and write a do over. How would it be different? What are the far-reaching consequences of your do over? Ready, set, go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Listen to Your Head

By Carole McEntee-Taylor

When I first read the guidelines to the blog, I was stumped to be honest. How can I tell people how to write? I’m no expert and I’ve never really thought about the process, I just do it. But maybe that’s the answer. None of us has the definitive answer because, just as we are all individuals with our own ideas as to what we like to read, we all write in different ways too. If we didn’t, the choice of books would be very uninteresting because they would all be the same.

When you start writing, you will often be told two things. The first is to write what you know. I didn’t. I started by writing up my father in law’s military history from WW2. I have always loved history, especially 20th century European history, but I knew nothing about military history and it was Ted’s story that led me to write my first series of novels – Lives Apart: A WW2 Chronicle.

The second thing is to write what readers will like. In other words, what will sell? So how do you do that? I’ve started reading many books that have great reviews, thought they were awful, and read others that didn’t have particularly good reviews and really enjoyed them. Writing, like reading, is subjective. What you like someone else might find boring and vice versa.

So, my advice?
1. Write what is in your head. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or editing, you can do that later.
2. Listen to the voice in your head, (yes, I do hear the voices of my characters in my head, especially the dialogue😊) and write down what you hear. Sometimes it won’t make much sense but trust your inner voice and keep writing. I’ve written things and wondered where the story was going only to discover when I finished that it made perfect sense.
3. Don’t worry about knowing the whole story before you start writing. Some of the best twists come about because the author hasn’t worked it out in advance. I spend hours thinking about plots in the evening, only to sit at the computer the following day and write something completely different!
4. If you find something interesting, the chances are someone else will too so write about it.
5. Don’t let one bad review put you off. Not everyone will like what you write, but if the majority of your readers are happy then keep on writing. If, on the other hand, no one likes it, then maybe its worth rethinking the way you’re writing.
6. Write because you love what you are doing, because you believe in the story and because it keeps you sane.
7. Read other people’s advice, but don’t necessarily follow it. We each have our individual paths. What works for one may not be the right way for you. Listen to your own inner voice, because your instincts will give you the best advice.
Carole McEntee-Taylor writes historical fiction and military history. Carole has written two five-book sagas: Lives Apart: A WW2 Chronicle and Obsession and one historical crime fiction: Betrayed. These are published by GWL Publishing. 1913, the first book in her next 6 book series, Secret Lives, has just been published. Part 2, 1914, will be published on 30th August. Carole has written several military history books published by Pen and Sword, the latest of which, A History of Coalhouse Fort, has just been published and includes previously unpublished letters from the Western Front. Others include Herbert Columbine VC, Surviving the Nazi Onslaught (the story of her father-in-law) A Battle Too Far, From Colonial Warrior to Western Front Flyer and The Battle of Bellewaarde 1915 with royalties donated to military charities and memorials.  Carole worked for several years in the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester (The UK’s only military prison,) culminating in a history of the establishment written in the words of those who were there. Carole moved up to North Lincolnshire in 2016 and now writes full time. Social Media Links: Website: https://carolemctbooks.info/

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Do You Want to Write?

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

If you have never written but wish you could, then let me say, now is the time to start. 
Writing is something everyone should try. It's true what they say, everyone has a story.

Although I wrote little stories as a child, I was in my early 20's when I became serious and began writing a book. I had to write whenever I could find the time.  I did finish the manuscript, however, I lost it in a move my family made not long after I finished it. 

I was upset but I knew I had to keep writing. I loved it. Whether it was telling a story, writing prayers, keeping a journal, or writing devotions I had to write. At night I would write stories in my head, but foolish me, didn’t write them down.

There is something about words coming out of your head that appear on paper. I wrote with pen and paper then. Now of course, I use a computer for the most part. But seeing a story unfold where you create the setting and fill it with characters is exciting and then to see the characters come to life is amazing.  But the adventure comes when the characters take over and begin writing the story.

Writing and reading are my passion.

Don’t put off writing. Just sit down at your computer and dive in or take pen and paper; let your words come out. No one says it must be perfect. But you do need to begin.

There are books you can read on writing techniques, classes you can take online and at universities, writing conferences, all or any of these will help your technique. You can also find writing groups in your area. Check with your local library.

Every successful author has one thing in common. They made the decision to begin writing.

What are you waiting for?

Monday, October 8, 2018

Write for Inspiration

By Michel Stone

While on book tour with my first novel, I was given by the clerk at the wonderful bookstore Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, SC a t-shirt that remains one of my favorites. It sports the William Faulkner quote: I write when inspiration hits me. Fortunately it hits me each day at 10 a.m.

I’m often asked by beginning writers for my ONE PIECE of advice. They seek the silver bullet to ensure the seemingly magical and elusive metamorphosis from writer to published writer. After years of my own ups and down in this writer’s life, I’m certain Faulkner’s adage will remain true. 

My one steadfast piece of advice is this: Write.  Without self-discipline and commitment to the craft, you will not, cannot, be a writer.  When I offer this ostensibly lackluster counsel, I’m invariably met with half-hearted giggles and disappointed faces, so I tend to follow-up with additional pearls of wisdom I’ve gleaned over the years. But I always come back to this: Often the difference between a published author and a fabulously talented unpublished author is that the one who got published continued to plod along when the other writer quit.

I know that pursuing the writer’s life can be frustrating. You are not alone in your frustration, but take heart, and don’t spend time worrying about things you cannot control. Keep putting the words on the page in the way that only you can put them. Keep chugging along if that’s what you're compelled to do. Sometimes everything feels like a super frustrating logjam.  I know; I’ve been there countless times. But just when I’ve thrown my hands in the air in utter exasperation, something gives. I’ve decided something will always give, but only if I stay the course and keep plodding along.  And yes, at times the writer’s life does feel like plodding. But other times, and I know you know this because you are a writer, writing is power and freedom and beauty and magic, and you know, you KNOW, that you are doing what you were meant to do.

You must remember that the story you want to write won’t get written if you don’t have the discipline to write it. Know that the universe offers you everything you need to write the book you want to write and that the universe’s giving increases exponentially as your dedication to and belief in the process increases.  In other words, stick to it and the doors will keep opening.  Stop writing and the doors will stop opening.  Work creates opportunity and feeds work.

So, go on. Get to your writing desk and make sure inspiration strikes you, even if you have to throw the first punch.
Michel Stone is a writer, speaker, educator, and community volunteer. In 2018 she was awarded the Patricia Winn Award for Southern Literature. Her critically acclaimed novels Border Child (April 2017, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2017) and The Iguana Tree (Hub City Press, 2012) have been compared to the writings of John Steinbeck and both books have been optioned for film. Border Child has been favorably reviewed by The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, Charleston Magazine, The Charlotte Observer, The New York Journal of Books, Kirkus (starred review) among many others. Stone has published numerous stories and essays, and she is a 2011 recipient of the South Carolina Fiction Award. She is a graduate of Clemson University with a Master's Degree from Converse College, and she is an alumna of the Sewanee Writers Conference. Stone is the immediate past board chair of the Hub City Writers Project and has served on The Spartanburg Regional Foundation Board, The Clemson University Humanities Advancement Board, and as a Trustee of Spartanburg Day School. Stone is a Spartanburg Regional Fellow and serves on the President’s Advisory Council for Wofford College. She is a Fellow of the 12th class of the Liberty Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.  Her first name is pronounced like Michelle (people always ask!) Her latest book is Border Child. Her website is https://www.michelstone.com

Friday, October 5, 2018

Sharing the blog

By HL Carpenter

Are you building your author platform? If you decide having a blog will be part of the way you gain visibility, one decision you can make is whether or not to include guest posts. We know many fine authors who feature guests—and we are grateful to every one of them for their generosity in sharing their virtual space with fellow authors, including us.

When we started out, we made a different decision for our main blog. Why? We think controlling our brand is simpler if we're the ones doing the writing. Does that mean we're selfish? Could be. Hey, we're the first to admit we're not perfect.

But we do know how to share, and we have two different ways of sharing blog space with hardworking colleagues.

One way is to come up with a topic that interests us—such as book covers. We write a brief explanation about what inspired one of our covers and invite our author friends to share a paragraph or two about what inspired their covers. Authors love to discuss book covers! The result: We get a post on a topic that works with our brand, other writers get ideas for their own covers, and the featured authors get publicity that doesn't come across as a hard-sell. A triple-win! Aren't we smart? (And modest too.)
The second way is by maintaining a separate blog where authors can tell "the story behind the story" of their books. While keeping up with two blogs takes work, the payoff is getting to meet great authors. As a bonus, we have the opportunity to share the entertaining mini-tales written by those great authors with an interested audience. What could be better than helping others succeed?
Do you share your blog? Let us know in the comments.
HL Carpenter are the mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. Their latest book is The Ghost in The Gardens,a middle grade mystery. Visit HLCarpenter.com to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country. Social Media Links: https://www.hlcarpenter.com https://www.pinterest.com/hlcarpenter

Thursday, October 4, 2018

To Tackle or Not to Tackle?

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

We’ve all probably read fictional books that tackle very challenging life issues. I have to admit that I’m a huge Pat Conroy fan and truly mourned his passing knowing I would never have a new novel of his to read. I know that not everyone loves his books—and I admit that some chapters are very hard to read. He does, however, bring to light abuse within families and the effects the abuse has on multiple generations. Conroy was never afraid to write about the harsh realities of the only lives some people know.

What do we do if we have an issue we would like to write about that has touched our lives or the lives of close friends or family? Do we tackle these tough issues in a novel to help bring light to the issues? Do we leave the issues alone because they are so personal to so many people and may bring up emotions that others are still wrestling with?

Tackling issues that are painful to some people isn’t the best idea for every author. You know your audience and your writing ability better than anyone. Jodi Picoult’s readers, for instance, know to expect novels about school shootings (with parts from the perspective of the shooter’s parents), adoption issues, child abduction cases, and racial issues. if you are considering tackling a topic that others may see as painful or divisive, ask yourself if you are up to the challenge and if your audience is ready to read a novel that may contain disturbing topics for some.

If you decide to tackle an emotional topic, here are some suggestions:

1.      Make sure you research the emotional angles of the topic as closely as you would research the historical aspects or factual aspects of other topics.
2.     Let readers know in the book description any themes that may be painful for some people to read about. A grieving mother may not be ready to read a novel about a shooting or a child abduction. A survivor may experience flashbacks if they read descriptive scenes containing family violence. Don’t surprise your readers.
3.      Blog about the topic so you provide information for readers to start healing discussions with book club members or friends. Link to professional websites to offer resources to readers who may want to explore the topic further.
4.      Let a counselor and a community member read your manuscript along with your regular readers. They may spot words that will be interpreted differently by someone who has experienced the topic you are weaving into your novel.

I chose to tackle a tough subject when I wrote about a main character leaving domestic violence, but I chose each word carefully and used the novel to start conversations in my community. Don’t fear tackling a tough subject, but just add a lot of care knowing that some readers may still be healing from the hurts.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Raining Cats and Dogs: Writing Pets in Books

By Audrey Wick

Pet lovers rejoice! There’s a lot to love in books when furry friends are involved. Yet as a writer, there can be challenges with choosing to include a cat, dog, or other animal in a manuscript.
So if you’ve ever wanted to write an animal into one of your projects, here are some quick questions to ask yourself as you plan.

       To what extent will the animal be physically described? Readers imagine animals differently, so deciding how much description to provide when you include a pet is an important first step toward writing the animal into the book. A two-dimensional description may work in some cases, but for animals with robust roles, writers can go bigger with more portrayal of the animal’s actions and reactions.

       To what extent will the animal be involved in the plot? In some books, animals are used as decoration, almost like arm candy for a character. They can be mentioned as one might mention the type of car a character drives or her preferred beverage brand. But when animals are used alongside the main characters, they can become part of the plot. Perhaps a dog intervenes during a park outing to force her female owner into a conversation with a sexy single. Or maybe a cat’s illness forces his owner to reconsider his own life’s journey. Ultimately, this decision will drive the pet’s inclusion.

      To what extent will the animal be personalized? Pets have strong personalities; just ask any owner! So writers shouldn’t shy away from adding that same level of individuality to the animals they write. Whether it’s a propensity for mischief, a unique sleeping habit, or an annoying trait, adding spunk to an animal’s behavior will help make the writing shine.

Whether you decide to put a pet on the page or leave your work-in-progress without an animal’s involvement, answering these questions will help you make an appropriate plan that works best for you as a writer.

Now, think about books you’ve read with animals. Do you have a favorite pet from a book? Share your most memorable pet inclusion in the comments section below. 
Audrey Wick is a women’s fiction author with Tule Publishing whose latest book, Coming Home, includes a spunky Persian cat named Bella. She is also a full-time English professor at Blinn College in Texas with writing that has appeared in college textbooks published by Cengage Learning and W. W. Norton. Audrey believes the secret to happiness includes lifelong learning and good stories—but travel and coffee help. She has journeyed to more than 20 countries and sipped coffee at every one. See photos on her website audreywick.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @WickWrites. Publisher Site (where chapter one of Audrey’s books can be read for FREE): http://tulepublishing.com/authors/audrey-wick/

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

One Page Away

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

I was watching a TV drama which included a story line about a young writer’s struggles. She was dealing with all the usual things writers deal with. She was procrastinating and had failed to meet several deadlines. She was dealing with intimidation from other writers in her group and felt inferior due to one successful writer’s comments. All the drama in her personal life continued to interrupt but honestly that was another form of procrastination. Her focus was not what it should be.

In all this she had the encouragement of her friends. Their input was all positive and they brought to light how good a writer they thought she was. At every turn they sent her back into the creative mode she was capable of. In one of her encounters with her friend she shared with them, “I feel I am one page away from complete humiliation or success.” This statement brought light to the real problem which was the fear of failure and/or the fear of success.

The fear of failure is something we all are concerned with. Writing is such a personal thing and being rejected is taken as such. We want others to like our work, understand our story and feel what we do when we write. But the truth is some will not like the genre you are in, some will not like the story or the way you told it and some just won’t get it. But remember why you write. You write because it is in your heart to do so. Acceptance is a benefit. 

Fear of success can also be a legitimate fear. Some do not want to be shoved into the limelight of authorship. Some realize if they are successful their comfy life as an unknown author will change. Their anonymity will be lost. There could come pressure to perform again and do so with the success they have exhibited. Some may realize their number one focus of creativity will change to that of the business side of authorship, marketing your works. That side of authorship can rob you of your creativity if you allow it to. Success can turn into another reason to procrastinate.

Fears being what they are I think every author would be happy to know they are “one page away”. The writers I know would rush to the task at hand with great expectations of success. As for our TV drama, the writer listened to the good advice of her friends. She wrote from her heart and did so with great acceptance and success. With success comes the opportunity to continue in your craft with confidence. 

So, my advice to you is, finish that page!         

Monday, October 1, 2018

Why You Must Constantly Identify Your Target Market

By p.m.terrell

Your target market consists of your ideal reader: the one that stays up all night turning the pages, writes glowing reviews, recommends your books to friends, family and groups and eagerly awaits your next release.

In a recent edition of Southern Writers Magazine, I provided tips to defining your ideal target market even if you have no idea who they are. This process should be performed with every title.

My first suspense, Kickback, was published in 2002. I worked with the publisher’s marketing department for several months to identify my ideal reader. This being my first suspense, I was starting at Ground Zero. We identified bestselling authors within the same genre, discovering the demographics through their reader reviews and social media. I then participated in extensive book tours, which brought me face to face with potential buyers, learning quickly which ones showed interest. I was also a spokesperson for the Virginia Crime Stoppers Association, which brought my titles in front of law enforcement officers. All told, my audience tended to be conservative, religious (particularly evangelical), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and older GenX (born 1965-1980).

Flash forward to 2012 when Vicki’s Key was released. My editor suggested I take the bedroom scene further; as she described it, I had become “an expert at taking the reader to the bedroom door”—now she wanted me to take them inside. After several rewrites, I detailed much more than I ever had before. Little did I know this one scene changed my demographics. My existing audience told me they wanted to be left at the door.

I also read declassified CIA documents for plot ideas (which I highly recommend: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/home) and I came upon materials on the remote viewer program, which continue within intelligence and defense agencies, including the United States, Russia and China. This was a character’s dream career, because I could take them around the world, involving them in a variety of plots. So the main character in Vicki’s Key became a remote viewer. The same demographic audience I had targeted for the previous ten years didn’t like Vicki’s job; one reader told me it was science fiction.

Despite great reviews, sales slumped compared to my earlier titles—until we adjusted the target market. It turned out that a liberal audience was more likely to believe in the work of remote viewers; even though it was based in fact, conservatives remained skeptical. Evangelicals were also less likely to believe in the metaphysical, unless they were depicted as angels. Older audiences did not like more graphic love scenes, though Millennials thought I could have taken it even further. Rural audiences were less likely to enjoy quantum physics (which remote viewing is based upon) or more graphic love scenes; urban audiences were more open-minded. Once we adjusted the target market to urban progressives, Millennials, and identified key words and phrases associated with quantum physics and psychic phenomena, we connected with the right audience and sales skyrocketed.

Lesson learned: with every book I have written since, I have taken the time to identify the correct audience.
p.m.terrellis the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 21 suspense, historical and non-fiction titles. She is also the founder of Book 'Em North Carolina (http://bookemnc.org) and The Novel Business (http://thenovelbusiness.com), designed to help authors increase their sales. Social Links: Website: www.pmterrell.com