Friday, May 31, 2019

Clear-Cut Scenes



By Pam Hillman


Occasionally, I speak to book clubs, ladies’ retreats, and writers’ meetings, and at these events, I always leave time for Q&A. The question most often asked is where do I get my ideas. This question is quickly followed by a similar query asking how I transfer that seedling of an idea to the computer screen, then ultimately to book form.

I could just say that it happens. I type and rearrange. I type some more, then I hit delete. I move a sentence here, a paragraph there. I tweak a whole scene. Then—

But that’s not really very helpful, is it? Maybe if I explained it this way—

In The Crossing at Cypress Creek, Caleb O’Shea and his brothers run a logging operation in the backwoods fifteen to twenty miles north of Natchez, MS. They must figure out the lay of the land, build roads along winding ridges in order to snake the logs out of the wilderness. For their business to succeed, they must find the fastest, safest, and cheapest route to transport the logs to the sawmill in Natchez. They keep their axes honed and their saw blades oiled and sharp, their draft animals well-fed and their men content.

But all that planning and plotting isn’t going to do them a bit of good if they roll over and pull the cover over their heads when the breakfast gong sounds. It’s up and at ‘em long before dawn, with the O’Shea brothers and their crews working together clearing the path set before them.

It’s the same with a writer. We clear the path set before us, felling one word at a time. Once the trees are cut and hauled away, we purge the scenes of unwanted brush and unsightly stumps. Oftentimes, we plant more words on the page as we go, creating a new landscape that’s pleasing to the eye.

When all is said and done, we have a series of clear-cut scenes laid out before us. Scenes that stretch along the ridges in a neat and orderly line to a place called The End.
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Award-winning author Pam Hillman writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and Gilded Age. Her novel Claiming Mariah won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart award. She lives in Mississippi with her husband and family. Visit her website at www.pamhillman.com.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

EMBRACE THOSE REJECTIONS



By Vicki H. Moss, Contributing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


On May 2 on the Suite T blog, I wrote about the children’s writer Madeleine L’engle, author of the children’s book A Wrinkle in Time; how she kept writing after rejections because she couldn’t stop. 

Most of you know that A Wrinkle in Time, a young adult novel in the science fantasy genre and first published in 1962, won the Newbery Medal. It also won the Sequoyah Book Award, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was a runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. The book also inspired two film adaptations, both by Disney: a 2003 television film directed by John Kent Harrison, and a 2018 theatrical film directed by Ava DuVernay.

But what most people don’t know is that it took Madeleine ten years to sell her manuscript. She kept writing during her perceived failure. “I’m glad I made this decision [to keep writing] in the moment of failure. It’s easy to say you’re a writer when things are going well. When the decision is made in the abyss, then it is quite clear that it is not one’s own decision at all.

“In the moment of failure I knew that the idea of Madeleine, who had to write in order to be, was not image.

“And what about that icon?

“During those difficult years I was very much aware that if I lost my ability to laugh, I wouldn’t be able to write, either. If I started taking myself and my failure too seriously, then the writing would become something that was mine, that I could manipulate, that I could take personal credit—or discredit—for. When a book was rejected, I would allow myself twenty-four hours of private unhappiness. I’m sure I wasn’t as successful in keeping my misery from the family as I tried to be, but I did try.”

Madeleine goes on to say she would take a walk and do her weeping. She could also play games with the children at dinner, but she couldn’t listen to Bach. Unlike Madeleine, I didn’t weep over rejections, nor did I nail my rejections to a timber like Stephen King. I did, however, keep every single rejection in a box and I also kept good records in a three-ring-binder pertaining to where each story was sent and if it sold or not. By keeping good records, I prepared myself for an eventual book sale—and a possible IRS audit. Because one day down the road, I planned on making some sales. Goalzzzzz! Before that day came, I kept myself in a positive frame of mind, and began writing for kids’ magazines to keep me pumped before a book deal.  

But if you must weep, go ahead. I’ve found weeping, however, makes me weak. I do better thinking about how many rejections Stephen King had before he made a sale; somewhere in the sixties. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig had 121 rejections. Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield had 144 rejections. Kate DiCamillo had 473 rejections beforeBecause of Winn-Dixie (one of my favorites) was published. Louis L’Amour had 200 rejections before he was finally published.

Feel better now? Just remember, if you must write in order to be—like Madeleine L’Engle—weep if you must over rejections. Go all out on the gloom and despair bit for a few hours. Then get back to work pronto. What helped me was to say, “Yay, I got a rejection letter today! Now only 60 more before I’m up there with Stephen King’s rejection number,” or “200 more rejections until I’m up there with Louis L’Amour’s count!” I actually celebrated those first rejections and continued the countdown. Worked for me. Saved my mascara.

And after 57 rejections, I sold my first story. And *drumroll* bought the family hamburgers that night because it wasn’t enough money to go all the way with cheese. But hey, I still had my first writing paycheck.

I’ll say it again, weep if you must, but only for a time. Because time’s a wastin’. Go ahead and laugh and listen to Bach. While writing. Then send your manuscripts out. Those editors, agents, and publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts are waiting for your masterpiece. It won’t get published unless you 1) send it out, or 2) self-publish. Those are your options. Success won’t happen unless you put yourself out there and embrace a few rejections.                         



Wednesday, May 29, 2019

What I Learned from Writing a Story that Packs a Punch


By David Rawlings


When I sat down to write the manuscript that became my debut novel, I knew I wanted to write a story that packed a punch. A novel that would be more than a tale of escapism – it would carry a message.

The Baggage Handler is a modern-day parable. At its heart is the theme of emotional baggage, and a story of characters who don’t know they’re carrying baggage, but they certainly feel its weight.  Writing a parable can be daunting. I not only drew on my twenty-five years of corporate writing experience, but also my forty-odd years of talking with people and sitting in pews. And there were three things I learned while writing it.

1.      Be true to what you believe.

When you start out to write a story with a message, you need to be clear what that message is and why you believe it to be worth bringing.  It can sometimes be tempting to go one of two ways. The first is to loosen the edges of what you believe to try to encompass as many people as possible. The second leads to the second thing I learned.

2.      Be genuine.

Readers can spot preachy, and they don’t often like it. I certainly don’t as a reader – getting to a point in a novel where I can tell it’s a sermon in disguise. (And it doesn’t always have to be a sermon from a pulpit. Some of the worst preachy books I’ve read actually teed off at how bad the author thought religion was). I found being genuine to be a particularly important point to come back to time and time again. Whenever I felt like I was ascending my soapbox, I would stop, take a deep breath, and then do the third thing I learned.

3.      Pray.

As I was writing truth in fiction, I needed to ensure that truth was rooted deep in eternal truth. I found this kept me on the right path, with the right message, plot points, character traits and everything.

I’m glad I put this extra thought, process and prayer into the story. These are some of the messages I’ve gotten back from readers:

“So, I truly do thank you for writing this novel. And I am looking forward to handing over my baggage, and to discovering the real me. I'm not really sure where to start, but I'll pray and am sure God will make it clear.”

“The book doesn’t read like a book written by someone “wielding skills” like a sword. It reads like someone offering a helping hand—taking away the burden.”

“All I can do at this point is to say thanks. Thanks for a painful, beautiful, simple, deep, light book that just topped my 2019 favorite books list.”

That, to me, is the benefit of writing a modern-day parable. The message of the book has opened doors for people, started conversations and fired reflection.

And this unveils a challenge when writing stories that pack a punch. When you start to get messages and emails like that – people being deeply honest about where they are in life – you start to look at Amazon rankings differently. You must. Sales figures take on a secondary nature. In a way, they need to.

That flies in the face of one driver for writers – sell copies so you can keep writing – but if the point of writing a story that packs a punch is to make people think, and they do, then that’s a success.
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David Rawlings is a based in South Australia, a sports-mad father-of-three who loves humor and a clever turn-of-phrase. Over a 25-year career he has put words on the page to put food on the table, developing from sports journalism and copy writing to corporate communication. Now in fiction, he entices readers to look deeper into life with stories that combine the everyday with a sense of the speculative, addressing the fundamental questions we all face.His debut novel – The Baggage Handler – asks us all a fundamental question: “What are you doing with the baggage you’re carrying?” His second novel – The Camera Never Lies – is coming out in late 2019. Website: www.davidrawlings.com.au (Subscribers to my blog also get two free short stories as a thank you for signing up!)Social links: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DavidRawlingsAuthor





Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Honoring Memorial Day with Letters from the Front



By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


During World War II the cargo ships carrying our soldiers, supplies and equipment overseas to battle would also carry letters to and from the soldiers in the field. Letters were important to the morale of American troops but they had to be light. The British Military had developed what was called “V-Mail” by Americans. It was a process whereby a single page letter was reduced to microfilm form and became thumb-sized images. They replaced the bags of mail and allowed room for necessary war materials.

These letters were reduced to microfilm and transported to various locations, there blowing them up before delivering them to addressees. To me the amazing part of this was the size of the problem. The number of troops and their loved ones writing letters was massive. Each letter was read by censors. Their job was to make sure troops would not be revealing anything that could be used against the War effort.   

In the Smithsonian National Postal Museum many of these “V Mail” letters are displayed. They carry messages of joy, homesickness, family news, and love. There were many “Dear John” letters to the troops in the field telling them of the loss of their girl to one who stayed home.

A marvelous example of love, loneliness and tragedy was an exchange of letters between 2nd Lt. Sidney Diamond and his fiancĂ© Estelle Spero. During his three years in the South Pacific they wrote extensively to each other with their love being the constant theme. In one letter Sidney wrote, “Here’s the story and let’s settle it once and for all time—and by heaven’s let’s not continue discussing this matter—I want to marry you—to spend the rest of my life with your telling me to stop biting my fingernails—when?—tomorrow, if it were possible—the day after the ‘duration plus six months’ definitely!” 

Shortly after this letter Sidney was granted a leave home where they became engaged.
On Christmas 1944 Sidney also wrote of the despair of war. Yes, today we had a community of thought. All the men—together—in a community of homesickness—Do not think harshly—or scoff at our childishness—We have so little—so little else but dreams—.” He ends the same letter with a fervent protestation: “I love you darling. —whatever happens—be happy—that’s my only request . . .. Stelle, it’s not weakness, it’s not softness—it’s a fact—I need you!!”  On March 5th, 1945 Estelle received news of his death which had occurred a month earlier.

Our Government went the extra mile to provide our troops with the wartime luxury of these letters from home. The Smithsonian National Postal Museum has done a great job preserving these as a part of our history. The letters of 2nd Lt. Sidney Diamond and Estelle Spero as well as others can be seen at their website. https://postalmuseum.si.edu/letterwriting/lw08.html 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Pilgrimage with the Purpose Based Novel


By Ann Gaylia O'Barr


I’ve written stories ever since I was able to put words together on a page. Before that, in my youngest days, I imagined the stories.

My father’s recounting of Tennessee’s beginnings in colonial times and of Nashville’s founding provided the basis for some of my stories. They stirred a love of history and a desire to explore why things happened as they did.

Back in the dark ages, the 1960's, to be exact, I reached adulthood and began writing articles and short stories and submitting them to various publications. Some of my efforts were published.

These were purposeful writings for religious publishers. I wrote from my upbringing and my own need to discover insights and answers. My writings still explore in this fashion.

In 1984, Broadman Press published my novel, First Light. It was what is termed a “Christian romance.”

It featured as the main character a divorced woman trying to find her way, not the usual character one met at the time in Christian romances. Even then, I was straddling a fence between two writing worlds.

In my naivete, I thought my writing career was set. Alas, the writing world is more complicated than that. My novel didn’t sell well enough for Broadman to accept my sequel. (I think the majority of the copies sold were those hawked by my mother to her friends.)

A single mother of two cannot ignore life’s realities, so I contented myself with supporting us through other careers: computer programmer, historic preservation planner, and finally, U.S. Foreign Service officer with the State Department.

Then I returned to writing. But that writing remains a sort of hybrid—between writing that is—what? I strive to define it. Religious? Yes, faith is certainly a theme. But the expression of it continues that kind of hybridism present in that first novel.

Living in other cultures had given me a new perspective. Example: worshiping with a small house church that we didn’t publicize, because our worship in that country was against the law. I must add that such house churches were, for practical purposes, tolerated as long as we didn’t attempt to proselytize the local population. I don’t want to make myself into a martyr.

The experience did awaken a sense of the seriousness of my religious commitment when not surrounded by a culture giving at least lip service to my faith.

The effect also of being, within the space of a few airplane hops, jerked between two different worlds also influenced my writing. In one, foreign affairs was a profession and world events were one’s daily bread. In the other, my fellow citizens sometimes seemed unaware of anything except shopping malls or the latest Hollywood celebrity.

After my foreign experiences, a new publisher accepted and published several of my novels.

None of them turned the world upside down with sales. The publisher went out of business.

Of course, the publishing world, including the religious element, has undergone massive changes since that first “Christian” romance of mine: eBooks and all the rest. My own religious pilgrimage has undergone changes, too.

I remain in and grow into, God willing, my child found faith. It’s a more mature faith, now, I believe. My writing reflects this.

Regardless, I continue to write, as writers do. We write because we have to, whether we sell or not.

Scientists experiment. If one experiment doesn’t produce the knowledge they hope for, they refine their experiments and try again.

In season and out of season.
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ANN GAYLIA O'BARR was a Foreign Service Officer with the United States Department of State from 1990 to 2004. Assignments included tours in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Canada, and at the State Department in Washington, D.C. She also has worked as a computer programmer and a historic preservation planner. She currently lives in Washington State. Her novel, SEARCHING FOR HOME was a 2008 finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association literary contest. Her novel WHERE I BELONG was a 2016 finalist in the Selah contest at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Her social media links are www.AnnGayliaOBarr.net and on Twitter @AnnGayliaOBarr


Friday, May 24, 2019

Five Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy



By Cathy Baker

Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits.

Is there a secret to creative energy? Would my waking up earlier, staying up later, or slurping down lavender lattes at a rapid pace propel my creative energy into overdrive?
I can’t say for sure on the first two, but my lavender-laced lips can attest to the dramatic shift in my productivity, creativity, and concentration since building certain habits into my daily routine: 

·         Write during peak hours. It begins with defining your personal peak time of day. Many creative types are early risers but there are others, like Carl Sandburg, who worked late into the evening after everyone had gone to bed. If you’re not sure what time of day you feel most energetic, keep a journal for one week. Once you define your peak hours, protect that time like gold, because in a way, that’s exactly what it is.

·        Enjoy a cup of tea—peppermint to be exact. Studies show this extract stimulates the brain and improves mental performance and focus. Not a fan of tea? Diffuse peppermint essential oil in your work-space.

·        Cultivate curiosity. Read a new genre, take a different route home, try a new type of food once a month, or explore your city in new ways. Pretend you’re five-years-old (that’s not a stretch for some of us.) View landscapes from a lower vantage point, ask questions, and for goodness sakes, treat yourself to an ice cream cone with sprinkles. New experiences strengthen the neural pathways in our brain, as well as our writing.

·       
 Create rituals. Build small, repeatable things that trigger your brain when it’s time to write. For instance, I switch from my pajamas to comfortable leggings and a top before any writing begins. The simple act of changing out of my nightclothes alerts my brain that it’s time to get to work. I also play a certain type of music only when I write. Others exercise, drink a cup of coffee, or do a crossword puzzle to flip the switch. Rituals differ with each person, so find what triggers your brain in to action and watch your productivity shift into overdrive.

·        Put joy in your work-space. What sparks joy for you? Is it a family picture? The first dollar bill earned? Your most recent book cover? Maybe, like me, your spark of joy sits just outside. In my soon-to-be writing studio, the Tiny House on the Hill, an eight-foot-long window faces the Blue Ridge Mountains. This view both inspires and delights me. So, whatever sparks a flicker of delight within you, consider it your own personal oasis—a place to exhale and be refreshed.


How do you spark creative energy?
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Cathy Baker is an award-winning writer and author of Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach as well as Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains. Cathy is a Hope*Writer and Bible teacher who has taught numerous studies and workshops over the past twenty-five years. Her work has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Upper Room, and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family. She and her husband, Brian, live in the foothills of the Carolinas and are currently building a writing studio, lovingly known as The Tiny House on the Hill. In addition to sharing updates on the progress on her blog and Instagram, Cathy is also currently writing a book that includes a collection of mini-memoirs about the journey.To connect with Cathy, @ the NEW Tiny House on the Hill https://www.cathybaker.org Author of Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach and Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains Twitter: @cathysbaker   Facebook: Cathy Baker and Instagram: @cathysbaker




Thursday, May 23, 2019

Writing a Family Cookbook including Decoration Day and Memorial Day Events


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine


I must admit: I’m part of the generation that has no real reference to the Southern tradition of Decoration Day. It often coincides the same weekend as Memorial Day. Maybe it’s because my family never had an organized family reunion.

I have friends who share tales of Decoration Days spent in their family cemeteries around the South. It’s a tradition that has always fascinated me. If you’re not familiar with this event, let me enlighten you. It’s a tradition that started before the Civil War, think of it as the origin of “family reunions.” 

Whether near or far family members come home and gather at the cemetery of their relatives to honor them by cleaning the cemetery, straightening tombstones, clearing brush and debris then decorating the graves with flowers. Prayers are said for the dearly departed. Music may occur offering up Taps, gospel hymns, folk songs or family favorites. The “dinner on the grounds” is quite literally that. It’s a family reunion of both dead and living relatives because you’re eating a potluck dinner atop the graves of your ancestors. This is an all day event. It’s not something you come late to and certainly not something you leave early from, else you want to be talked about.

Morbid? Maybe but it’s definitely fascinating. The potluck, of course, will include each family represented by a favorite and maybe “secret” recipe. 

Now, my way to make a family recipe book. You could just put recipes in a 3 ring binder and then copy. We are not affiliated with Shutterfly, but I personally have used their services and have always been pleased. Shutterfly, like some other photo services, makes it easy to capture family stories, recipes and photos all in one book that you create and write. I plan on making my own cookbook for my adult children. I will be sharing some of my Mom’s memories of her childhood experiences with Decoration/Memorial Day in rural Arkansas, as well as some of her recipes. I’ll be incorporating pictures along with stories, as well as the recipes.

What about you? Do you participate or have memories of Decoration Day? Have you made a family cookbook?

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

My Author Dream



By Judy Lynn Scovil

Oh, the exhilarating passion and dream that runs through the veins of a writer building their story. If you desire to write, start by searching for your dreams and irresistible passions, your unique experiences that you long to release! Search your heart for what stirs the very essence of your soul. Keep a pen close, as it’s vital to journal personal and passionate thoughts.
My writing journey began with dreams and visions in the night. It helped me tremendously to pray for understanding. With a journal in hand and an ever-increasing insatiable desire to know and speak truth, I soon discovered it was my destiny in waiting! Look back in your life and longings. For me it was a deep love for God and his people and passion to study, research and teach the Word of God. I soon discovered a way to feed that passion by teaching in home bible studies. That progressed into a platform to write as well as an inspiration to unite people, teach the truth that not one child of God be deceived, as well as teach about the power of our destinies. Our God has an amazing plan for all his children. We must discover who we are along this journey; this will be a powerful writing tool! This is a crucial hour to step up to discover our destinies and use our gifts! The very reason we are called to this earth is to fulfill a special purpose-- perhaps yours is with a pen!
Additionally, it’s important to find a wonderful atmosphere that promotes creativity and encourages words to flow. Every writer realizes the importance of drawing back and dwelling first in a sanctuary of repose. My inspiration is writing by my water garden, surrounded by woods, singing birds, and blooming flowers. A peaceful soul finds an incredible source of wealth to write within a quiet place of refuge. In stillness we discover God’s strength and unfolding wisdom! Then our energies ignite, creativities and passions flow, and our writings flourish.

Every writer understands the thrill and excitement of what I call the “hunt” for the story! Whatever we write, it must be thorough and well written. A good friend taught me that it’s best not to tell your readers, but to show them. Let your sound research speak for itself.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Reach for Christians, colleagues, friends, and family who have been gifted with amazing skills to assist in your writing process! Establish a powerful foundation.  I have a team captain, a prayer team; one friend helps edit, another assists with social media. My team has helped me be well prepared for this writing journey!
Good tools set in place are essential for writers and authors. In one breathless moment we might become lost in a wonderful world of literary words. Remember, enjoy your journey of writing.
We are better together!
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Judy Lynn Scovil is currently signed to Priority PR Group & Literary Agency in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she has also taught and been an active member in her local church for the past 32 years. Apart from serving on her church's Women's Ministry board, she also supported her husband, Jim Scovil, who was Chairman of the board of Elders. Leading women's prayer groups in church for 25 years and in-home bible studies for 14 years, she is also an advocate and member for Women Leading Women. Her upcoming book is set to release in 2020. Connect with her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJudyLynnScovil/

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Repurposing - Do You Use This Technique?



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



Repurposing is the use of a tool being re-channeled into being another tool, usually for a purpose unintended by the original tool-maker. For writing this means taking a word and repurposing it to be an unusual word with the purpose of surprising your reader.

Writer’s Relief gives this example in a post they wrote in September, 2011 ( See article  http://writersrelief.com/2011/09/12/word-choice-usage-writing/) They used an example from the book The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (where she repurposed the word cobweb)  The young man says “Budapest was cobwebbed with memories…”

What I like about her using this repurposed word is how it denotes so much more going on in the man’s mind and in his feelings than just using memories. It conveys something deeper in him. Don’t you think?
Another word that is repurposed is the state of Missouri. Instead of saying your character is not easily convinced and or he’s a skeptic, one would say, “He has a Missouri mindset.” Not only do you use less words, but you create a character that gives your reader a vivid comprehension of what he is like.
How about the word Goldilocks? Would you think of repurposing it? Goldilocks remember, tried each bed looking for just the right one. Conditions had to be just right for her. “Nancy has a Goldilocks mentality.” The funny thing about this one is we all probably have known people or had friends who were just like this, in that everything had to be just right before they would do anything or go anywhere.
We easily use the word ‘knit together’ and ‘in a pinch’; we’ve used them so much they have lost their surprise element in our writing. Question – can you think of another way to repurpose these two words, knit and pinch? If so, please share with us.
It goes without saying; you don’t want to overuse this technique of repurposing words. Sprinkling a few in your story is okay. And if you repurpose a word to describe a character, then do that for the one you most want the readers to remember.



Monday, May 20, 2019

A “HOW TO” FROM AN AUTHOR WHO DOESN’T KNOW HOW



By Bethany Turner, Author of Wooing Cadie McCaffrey


The purpose of this post is to give some insight into the writing craft. A “How To” on some particular aspect of  being a writer, of publishing books, of living the life. But here’s the catch: in order to write a “How To” it’s very helpful to know how to do something. Seems obvious, right? Right. And yet I’ve been sitting here for way too long, staring at a blank screen, trying to figure out what it is that I know how to do.

Do you ever feel like I do? Do you ever hang out in the author groups on Facebook, or sit through conferences and workshops, and listen to your peers talk about all of their disciplines as if they are not only common, but nonnegotiable, and wonder how everyone and their grandmother seems to know about all these things you’re hearing about for the first time? And they don’t only know about these things, they understand these things. They breathe these things. They live these things!

Most of the time, in those scenarios, I feel like a fraud. Truly. I sit and listen, not sure if I should laugh or cry, as my fellow authors discuss the necessity of following grammar rules that are so far over my head, I need a step ladder to reach them. I act like I know what they’re talking about when they use book-related acronyms as if they were words we all learned in kindergarten. And then there is the assumption that we all read all the books, all the time.

Here are the facts in my life: I stumbled into the writing thing. I didn’t really have any idea I wanted to be an author until I was one. I’ve never taken a writing class outside of the required core classes in school. And guess what else? I don’t spend all that much time reading because most of the time, if I have a little bit of free time to unwind, I’d rather spend it watching television. *GASP!*

So, let’s get real. Let’s call it like it is. I’m not sure what I know how to do. I’ve gotten a couple of publishing contracts, I’ve won or been nominated for some awards, I’ve spent a little bit of time on some best of the year lists…and I honestly don’t know why.

No, wait…that’s not true. I do know why. It’s because my writing, my voice, was able to somehow connect with certain groups of readers. That’s the only reason any of us ever experience any success, right? And let me tell you, if I knew all the rules, if I understood and strive toward what is expected, it wouldn’t be my voice. I guess all I know how to do is write the way that only I can. Just like you, you should write the way that only you can. That is the one “How To” that no one else can teach you.
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Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, which was a finalist for The Christy Award. When she's not writing (and even when she is), she serves as the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.
For more, visit www.seebethanywrite.com.