Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Fabulous Fifties

Betty Thomason Owens @batowen

Award-winning author of historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure.

I’ll never forget my older cousin’s poodle skirt. That light blue, flannel thing captured my attention from the onset. Watching her spin and flare the skirt made me want one, too. But by the time I was old enough to wear it, I wouldn’t be caught dead in it.

Looking back, I remember so many wonderful things about the fifties. I was born in the first third of that decade, so my memories are a bit low to the ground, seen through the eyes of a preschooler.

A few things stand out, like Uncle Odis’ brand new, bright red Thunderbird convertible. The wondrously cool air emitted from Aunt Jen’s miraculous window air conditioner. Girls in gathered skirts and saddle oxfords, Guys in white tee shirts and blue jeans, their hair greased back Presley-style.

That last one was totally my dad. Everyone said he resembled Elvis. He certainly had the accent, since he hailed from the same general region.

I Love Lucy and Ozzie and Harriet entertained us in the evenings and there was music everywhere. It seemed to me that people sang more. They sang as they worked. They weren’t closed off to the world, their ears plugged with air pods and earbuds.

Children played outside. I know, right? What a novel idea! Neighborhoods were teeming with life. We rode our bikes and trikes on the sidewalks and stayed outside until the streetlights came on. At Grandma’s, we sat on the front porch and listened to the grownups talk about the old days against a backdrop of a million stars while crickets and frogs trilled their night songs.

Personal memories played a large part in my decision to set the Kinsman Redeemer series in the fifties. What was it about that era? Why is that decade referred to as “the golden years”?

In the fifties, our country was recovering from the Great Depression of the thirties and the war years of the forties. You don’t bounce back quickly from traumas like those. Maybe it was euphoria over their improved situations that lent the glow to the decade. Maybe they were learning to relax after a couple of decades of constant worry. Hard to say.

Though much of the U.S. was experiencing a financial boom and modernizing at the speed of sound, a rural region like west Tennessee, the geographical setting of my series, seemed firmly stuck in the past. In fact, I used to believe we crossed some sort of invisible barrier that sent us back in time as we drove to Grandma’s house.

This also lent itself well to my story. Wait a moment, while I remove my rose-colored glasses. The golden years held their fair share of troubles, like the Cold War and racial unrest, especially in the south.

My main characters are living the good life in southern California when tragedy brings a sudden end to their charmed existence. Annabelle and her daughter-in-law endure something akin to culture shock when they leave their home in San Diego and travel to Tennessee.

I remember that feeling well. Like the one my characters moved into, Grandma’s house had no indoor plumbing, no heat, and bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. It was a little like camping in the rough. Especially the outdoor toilet.

The first time Annabelle and her daughter-in-law Connie see the house they’re going to be living in, Connie’s eyes widen.

“What’s that look on your face?”

Connie answers, “Something’s missing.”

“What?” (Annabelle asks).

Connie leaned close to her ear and whispered, “There’s no bathroom.”

(Cousin) Thelma laughed out loud. “Child, yes there is.” She pointed outside. “It’s right out there.”

One thing for certain, life would never be boring for my transplanted protagonists. In Annabelle’s Joy, the third and final book in the series, Connie is happily settled in a fine farmhouse complete with indoor plumbing. But Annabelle faces more upheaval. Though she has come to love her little house, it was never meant to be her permanent home. Now, she would need to find a tenant to farm her land. The tenant would need the house, which would leave her homeless once again.

Researching and writing this series of stories stirred so many memories of my childhood. I could smell the freshly turned earth and hear the lyrical sounds of their voices. Voices that echoed across the fields as they labored beneath the hot summer sun on a golden afternoon in the 1950s.


Betty Thomason Owens loves being outdoors. Her favorite season is spring when she can work in the yard or take long walks while thinking through a troublesome scene in one of her stories. She is a multi-published, award-winning author of historical romance with a touch of suspense. An active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she serves as president of the Louisville Area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of Inspired Prompt, a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. You can learn more about her at BettyThomasonOwens.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Change the World with Your Writing: Character Conflicts That Can Actually Help Your Reader (Part 2)

Continuing Series: Change the World with Your Writing

p. m. terrell  @pmterrell

To refresh our memory, Part 1 we looked talked about a gripping read must have at least one character with which the reader can identify. A book that makes an impact is one in which the conflict this character must face places the reader in a position to empathize with their situation and consider how they would handle it if they were in the character’s shoes. We looked at the top three stressors and here we will list others individuals can face in their lifetime:

        4.  A major illness or injury or a loss of capacity. The book could begin with a fit character, but an unexpected illness or accident embarks them on a journey that will change their life.

       5. A move. One of the most common backdrops involves taking a character out of their comfort zone, the place they are most familiar with, and move them to a distinctly different location. This works in any genre from Jay Anson’s Amityville Horror to Jean Grainger’s The Tour. It works against the backdrop of war or peacetime, conflict through romance.

          6. Change in employment. Starting a new job can be exhilarating but also stressful. Throw in coworkers that test your patience, sabotage your work, or place the character in a moral or ethical dilemma, and the reader can instantly identify. Throw in a stressful or challenging assignment they must handle, such as impending war or an asteroid, and you have the makings of a page-turner.

      7.  Loss of income. From the stock market crash to the loss of a farm or job, the reader can easily step into the character’s shoes and wonder how they would handle a similar situation.

       8.  Additions to the family. As the main plot or a subplot, a new marriage, or an addition to the family always changes the dynamics. This is often part of the backdrop but can take on more significance depending on the genre and plot.

       9.  Natural disasters. From romance to mysteries to literary fiction, any story gains an extra layer of suspense when set against an impending flood, forest fire, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane or cyclone.

      10   The loss of their world. Throughout history, there have been major upheavals frequently involving war or climate change that incorporate several of the stressors listed above. After World War II, for example, there was a massive migration of Europeans. In our present time, massive migrations are occurring in the war-torn Middle East as well as parts of the world most affected by climate change. This can result in the loss of loved ones, separations, loss of employment and income, and other challenging factors.

       As I said in Part 1 on the 17th of February, Adding stressors such as these can impact the reader’s perspective. Crises that are completely outside the power of the individual are particularly riveting. The loss of normalcy strikes at the heart of any reader. By causing the reader to ponder their own actions in such situations, it results in greater empathy. In turn, this increases understanding of the world in which we live, and if we can more adequately understand its people and conflicts, we can make the world a better place.


        Change the World with Your Writing:  Character Conflicts That Can Actually Help Your Reader          (Part 2) p.m. terrell (click to tweet)

p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 24 books ranging from historical to suspense. She has used stressors in many of her books, including divorce (A Thin Slice of Heaven), a new job (Kickback), moving to a new place (Vicki’s Key), and others. Her most popular books, Songbirds are Free and River Passage, are creative nonfiction about her ancestors’ roles in migrating west in America while many of her suspense incorporate Ireland, her ancestral home, including Checkmate: Clans and Castles.

Friday, February 21, 2020


Dennis L.Peterson  
Independent Author, Historian and Editor

             Writers get ideas for their work from a variety of sources, including overheard conversations, watching children at play (or adults arguing), commonplace events in the routines of daily life, and even their own fertile imaginations. The idea that led to the book Combat! Spiritual Lessons from Military History came from the intersection of the personal study of my two favorite subjects, the Bible and military history.
            While reading during a period of several months a few books on military strategy and tactics used during World War II, I began to realize that in many ways what I was reading dovetailed with what I was reading in the Bible. Desiring to share what I was learning; I began to organize various points for what I thought might grow into an article. Over time, however, as I continued to read and study the subjects, I realized that such writing would involve something much longer and more detailed than a mere article. It might even develop into a book!

Thursday, February 20, 2020


S. D. Tooley  https://www.facebook.com/SDTooley

Mysteries with an Edge

Marketing can be fun, or a pain. As a former casino dealer, I look at it as a roll of the dice. You never can predict the outcome. Living in an area of the country where bookstores are as rare as a 70 degree day in August, I was hard pressed to come up with something different. My husband and I decided to do some shopping in an indoor mall. We had to drive 30 minutes to the next state over since all we have are outdoor malls. The sight of ad displays sparked a marketing idea. These 4 ft. x 6 ft. display panels are backlit and advertise a variety of products and services. Some were available for rent. I figured it wasn’t going to cost me anything to find out more information, so I jotted down the phone number and web site.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Find Your Unique Social Media Voice

Edie Melson  @EdieMelson

Social Media Director for Southern Writers Suite T

As authors we talk a lot about voice. In fiction, and even non-fiction, it’s defined as that certain something that makes an author unique. In everything—from the rhythm, cadence and flow—to the sentence structure. It conveys the author’s personality and attitude. 

Although many may not realize it, there’s an advantage to developing a voice for your social media presence. If you think about it, it’s something that those most successful social media folks have done.

But with social media, it’s not just the words you choose, but it encompasses the images you use to represent yourself and the topics of the updates you post.

Here’s how to find your unique social media voice:

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Increasing an Author’s Exposure

By Susan Reichert   @swmeditor

Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine

I notice that some author’s do a book giveaway of their new books. This is a good way to create buzz around the release of a new book.
Some authors do those giveaways on their own websites and some on the websites of other authors and friends. Again, this is great…it continues fueling the buzz about the new release.
Here is the tip for more exposure on book giveaways:

When you do a signed book giveaway, be sure you shout it from the rooftops! Whether the book giveaway is on your website, a friend, another author, your publicist, or publishers or on our Weekly “Signed Book Giveaways”, tell everybody about it. Fuel the flame around the release of your book. Why?

Monday, February 17, 2020

Change the World with Your Writing: Character Conflicts That Help Your Reader (Part 1)

Continuing Series:  Change the World with Your Writing

p. m. terrell   @pmterrell
Columnist for Southern Writers 

A gripping read must have at least one character with which the reader can identify. A book that makes an impact is one in which the conflict this character must face places the reader in a position
to empathize with their situation and consider how they would handle it if they were in the character’s shoes. The top stressors an individual can face in their lifetime include: