Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Cleaning Chores for Authors?



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


I am always looking at books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the lists the publishers like Baker Publishing, Revel, Kensington, Harper Collins, Bethany and others send me.  This helps me keep abreast of what is popular, trending and upcoming.

While looking today I ran across an interesting author and her book and found not only is her book trendy, but so is she. It so happens she is in the United Kingdom. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to check it out. It’s Mrs. Hinch: The Instagram cleaning sensation. Her book releasing this month is Hinch Yourself Happy:  All The Best CleaningTips To Shine Your Sink and Soothe Your Soul.  Her name is Sophie Hinchcliffe. And so far, she has over 2 million followers. No longer are household chores the enemy. You can check her out here:  https://www.instagram.com/mrshinchhome/

This is certainly a great way for her to sell her book and I would imagine there will be more books coming from her. I don’t know when she started building her platform, but she has accomplished building a platform, marketing, promoting and writing. By walking through her site be sure and notice all the things she uses to draw attention to herself, and although her book is on there, it seems she has wrapped it in the pictures.

What resources can you think of that you could use to add to your platform to increase exposure for you and your books?

Today, our author platforms need to be engaging for sure. All the long content wording we’ve been using over the years is losing favor and being replaced with fresh and unique content and making it shorter. The ever-true words of “keep it simple to understand and easy to read” is more important than ever. As you can see from her Instagram site, photos are the craze. They can say more than our words and keep our readers attention longer.

So, do a little spring-cleaning on your platforms, give them a “fresh coat of paint” so to speak; clean-out the cobwebs and update.


Monday, April 22, 2019

Writing Women’s Fiction As A Man-Part Two-Fearless Writing


By Wade Rouse


Continuing from my blog post on Friday, April 19, 2019…So, I started anew. Fearless. I channeled my voice, the funny-sad-poignant-sentimental one that could make me ugly laugh and ugly cry in the course of one paragraph. I finished the book, I queried agents, and I received three offers of representation. That was five books ago.

"Your voice is one-of-a-kind," my literary agent said to me when I signed with her.

The same thing happened again when I wrote my first novel, The Charm Bracelet, which was inspired by my grandma’s heirlooms, life, love and lessons. I channeled the voice of my female elders to write a book about dementia and the fragility of life as well as to remind readers of the value of family, history and what’s most important in life.

Voice is all we have as writers. If you ask any agent, editor, or publisher what he or she is looking for today in a writer or book, they typically will not say the next Harry Potter or Stephen King: They will say the next great voice.

Voice is the only thing that sets a writer apart from another. I joke there is only so much that separates Sedaris from Shakespeare: We all utilize the same tool belt: Same words, same themes. We all tend to write about the same things, too: Love, faith, family, sex, work, pets, war, death, but it's how we tell those stories that makes us unique.

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers and teachers of writing. She explains voice this way to writers, and I do as well: If you were all a choir, and I gave you the lyrics to the same song, and stood back and listened to you sing, from a distance, it would largely sound the same. You'd be singing the same words, hopefully together and in tune. But if I dropped a microphone over each of your heads, the song would sound totally different: The sound of your voice, the way you interpret those exact same words would be uniquely you. A writer must do just that, except silently, on paper. 

I teach several writing workshops, where I help emerging and established authors on their craft and their manuscripts. I am proud to have helped several writers have their manuscripts published by major publishers. But I am prouder of the fact that I help souls overcome the fear that keeps them from not only pursuing their passion but also from channeling that unique voice that calls to them.    

Let your voice be heard – no matter what it is, just as long as it calls to you – and I guarantee you'll be amazed at how many people will respond not only to your talent but also your fearlessness.
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WADE ROUSE is the internationally bestselling author of nine books, which have been translated into nearly 20 languages. Wade chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, as a pen name to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his fiction. Wade’s novels include The Charm Bracelet, a 2017 Michigan Notable Book of the Year; The Hope Chest; and The Recipe Box. NYT bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank says of Wade and his latest novel, The Summer Cottage: “Every now and then a new voice in fiction arrives to completely charm, entertain and remind us what matters.  Viola Shipman is that voice and The Summer Cottage is that novel.” Wade's books have been selected multiple times as Must-Reads by NBC’s Today Show, featured in the New York Times and on Chelsea Lately and chosen three times as Indie Next Picks by the nation’s independent booksellers. His writing has appeared in a diverse range of publications and media, including Coastal Living, Time, All Things Considered, People, Good Housekeeping, Salon, Forbes, The Washington Post, Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly. Wade earned his B.A. from Drury University and his master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. He divides his time between Saugatuck, Michigan, and Palm Springs, California, and is also an acclaimed writing teacher who has mentored numerous students to become published authors. For more, please visit violashipman.com and waderouse.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorviolashipman/   Instagram: viola_shipman  Twitter: @viola_shipman


Friday, April 19, 2019

Writing Women’s Fiction As A Man-Part One



By Wade Rouse


I’m a man who writes women’s fiction using his grandmother’s name, VIOLA SHIPMAN as a pen name. The picture to the left is me with my grandmother, Viola. Sounds like a terrible literary remake of Victor, Victoria, doesn’t it? Just imagine trying to sell your literary agent on that idea, especially when you’ve spent your entire career writing humorous memoir.

I did, and that was five novels ago. The Summer Cottage is my latest, publishing April 23 from Graydon House Books (HarperCollins). I credit it all to being fearless and to channeling the voice that calls to me when I write (be it funny or serious, a man’s or woman’s).

In fact, of the endless things I could teach and preach to writers, learning to overcome fear to channel your true voice tops the list.

Fear is devastating to all of us in life, but especially an author. Too often in our world today, we let fear consume us: It drives our daily lives typically more so than passion. We worry about money. Time. Health. Aging. Our parents. Our children. The future. 

The same typically holds true in writing. In the beginning stages, we worry about all the things over which we have no control: Whether our writing is good enough, whether we'll make money at it, whether those we love and know – and even those we don't – will like our work.

Awful things happen from head to hands, from brain to fingers to laptop, when we let fear consume us as writers. When emerging authors begin a book, they are driven by that unique voice that runs in their heads – the one only they can hear, the one which drives all of us to tell our stories. But before we fully channel that voice, it begins to be drowned out by the call of fear.

I know because it's happened to me many times in my career. I began my first book, America's Boy – a memoir about the difficulty of growing up in the Missouri Ozarks but surviving due to the love of family – as a novel. I started it as a memoir but grew fearful of pretty much everything, including what my family and hometown would think. I spent a year writing it as fiction, until someone I loved accidentally read it (a nightmare for writers).

When I asked what they thought, the reply was, "If you had dropped this on the street, and I had picked it up, I would never have known you had written it. It sounds nothing like you."

I was stunned. But, in my heart, I knew they were right. On Monday, Wade will appear with Part Two titled, “Fearless Writing.”
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WADE ROUSE is the internationally bestselling author of nine books, which have been translated into nearly 20 languages. Wade chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, as a pen name to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his fiction. Wade’s novels include The Charm Bracelet, a 2017 Michigan Notable Book of the Year; The Hope Chest; and The Recipe Box. NYT bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank says of Wade and his latest novel, The Summer Cottage: “Every now and then a new voice in fiction arrives to completely charm, entertain and remind us what matters.  Viola Shipman is that voice and The Summer Cottage is that novel.” Wade's books have been selected multiple times as Must-Reads by NBC’s Today Show, featured in the New York Times and on Chelsea Lately and chosen three times as Indie Next Picks by the nation’s independent booksellers. His writing has appeared in a diverse range of publications and media, including Coastal Living, Time, All Things Considered, People, Good Housekeeping, Salon, Forbes, The Washington Post, Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly. Wade earned his B.A. from Drury University and his master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. He divides his time between Saugatuck, Michigan, and Palm Springs, California, and is also an acclaimed writing teacher who has mentored numerous students to become published authors.For more, please visit violashipman.com and waderouse.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorviolashipman/   Instagram: viola_shipman  Twitter: @viola_shipman

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Comfort Zones



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


Well, you can tell me if this is true for you or not, but I write my best scenes and dialogue when I am writing in my comfort zones. No, I’m not talking about writing in my office or out on my patio. I’m talking about writing about the settings I’m placing my characters in.

I’m an outdoors person. I love to hike and camp. I’m comfortable in the mountains or on the beach, as long as I am outside. Where am I the most uncomfortable? Any meetings. I don’t like being confined to a room and having to listen to reports or spontaneously come up with ideas while everyone is watching. As far as the time of day, I prefer being outside in the mornings or right at dusk. I try to be in by dark (guess that comes from my upbringing when I could play with friends in the neighborhood as long as I was home by dark).

So, what does this have to do with my writing? After all, I’m creating fictional characters that often have very different personalities from my own. They have their own tastes. However, I have learned that when I am placing my characters in situations or settings that I am uncomfortable in, I tend to write as if the characters are uncomfortable there. I have to check myself or I will have a character running for home just because the sun is setting. I’ve had powerful CEOs squirm in a meeting just because I would.

That’s when I have to edit the most. I have to go back and make dialogue flow much more smoothly or have the character do something to appear relaxed like take off her shoes and relax on the patio as she watches the moon at midnight. When my characters are out of my comfort zones, I tend to want to get them back to my happy places quickly.

I’ve learned to edit my way out of those situations and improve the scenes, but I always have to admit that it’s a weakness for me. Decide what makes you uncomfortable and go back through your writings. See if this is true for you. You may have an entirely different weakness in your manuscripts. What’s important, though, is to know where your weak spots are and acknowledge them. Then you can edit your way to a stronger scene.



Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Dream Realized



By Larry B. Gildersleeve


Being a published author had been a dream of mine since my high school days, but it took about fifty years to begin that journey.

My first two self-published novels using CreateSpace (now Kindle Direct Publishing) received favorable reviews in newspapers and magazines. My third novel and my first non-fiction work, both self-published, will be released later this year, and I’ve begun an aggressive search for an agent to hopefully gain access to a mainstream publisher.

I’ve never taken a creative writing course or other formal instruction. I learned to write fiction through exchanges of emails and iterations of my manuscripts with Lynda McDaniel, my outstanding writing coach and editor. Since I live in Kentucky and Lynda is in California, we’ve never met, but that hasn’t diminished the process in any way.

Because I had so much to learn, I wrote, and Lynda edited, six versions of my first novel before finally publishing the seventh in 2016. My second, released in 2017, began with a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline to aid me in focusing on development of my characters, as well as aligning the story line and timeline. The outline was critical to planting seeds of tension and conflict, and then harvesting them.

I wrote my first novel without thinking about things like genre or writing style. I had a story in mind, and just began to write. I’ve since focused my writing in two genres, Christian and Inspirational, yet striving to appeal to a broader secular audience. The more I wrote, the more my style evolved -- short, fast-paced chapters with page-turning endings and hopefully believable and memorable characters. And fewer characters. My first two novels had fifteen and eighteen characters respectively; the third has only four.

The biggest change in writing the second book came with following the chapter outline. With the third, in addition to the outline I’ve adopted the approach of going back to re-read all that I’ve previously written before continuing on a different day. Laborious and time-consuming, yes. But it keeps me immersed in the evolving story and the characters, as well as ferreting out repetitions of words and phrases, sometimes from one paragraph to the next. I liken it to repeatedly passing a comb through tangled hair, getting a smoother and smoother pathway to my desired outcome.

My research revealed the two most important considerations for marketing a book by a new author are the title and the cover, so I’ve given very careful consideration to both. It’s what will catch a reader’s eye when they see the title in print, or a picture of the cover on Amazon.com or other online marketing channels.

My long-deferred dream has finally come true. As another author once said, I write for pleasure and publish for profit. There’s been some profit, but more important is the pleasure I find every day that I write.    
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Larry B. Gildersleeve is a father of two and grandfather of four who turned to writing after a four-decade career as a corporate executive. He lives in Kentucky and is the author of Dancing Alone Without Music and Follow Your Dreams. His third novel, entitled The Girl on the Bench, is scheduled for release in mid-2019. www.larrygildersleeve.com

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Putting a Disaster to Memory



By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

On a recent visit to the Texoma area, I found myself there during the remembrance of the Tuesday April 10th, 1979 Red River Valley tornado outbreak. An F4 tornado hit Wichita Falls, Texas and it has come to be called “Terrible Tuesday.” Second only to the loss of life¸42 dead, was the loss of property. The storm left an eight-mile swath through the city and destroyed $400 million in property which in today’s dollars was over 1.78 billion. That was only in Wichita Falls.

The outbreak continued for two days throughout the plains and Mississippi River Valley. There were fifty-nine confirmed tornadoes. The death toll came to fifty-four lives. Along with the forty-two dead in Wichita Falls was another eight Texans losing their lives. Three were killed in Oklahoma and one in Indiana. This remained the most disastrous storm until the Joplin Missouri tornado which hit on Sunday May 22, 2011.

Over several days the news covered this 40th Anniversary of the Red River Valley outbreak. Many people were interviewed concerning their loss and their memories of the impact of the tragedy. Each had vivid memories and were very detailed in their descriptions. I wondered if it was from clarity of memory or from reliving it over and over in their minds all these years. The pain was still there and that may have kept it alive.

I was reminded of the observation that our memories and the truth are close relatives but not identical twins. This said, I felt the need for someone, having experienced such a memory, taking time to write down their experience as well as their feelings. Details are important for future generations to know not only what others have gone through but how they dealt with it.

This applies not only to natural disasters but any and all life changing experiences. We should encourage a written account not only by us but by our friends and relatives. All that are interested should write of their view of the experience. When doing so be clear, be precise and be detailed. This will relieve us of tasking our memories with the details in future days and will be an account that will last.                            

Monday, April 15, 2019

Twenty Discoveries from a Writers’ Conference, Part Two



By Marilyn Nutter


In Part One of Twenty Discoveries from a Writers’ Conference, which appeared on Friday, I shared ten take aways I found after reviewing my notes and reflecting on my schedule and conversations. Part two gives my final ten.

1.      Join conversations at writers’ conferences. These may be a different kind of appointment. Don’t dismiss the possibility you might hear a nugget to encourage you or set you on a path. I had several at this conference, and the people don’t even know how they impacted me. And, be an encouragement to others. Share writing opportunities.

2.      Be a listener. I know what I know. I want to know what someone else knows.
3.      Position yourself to be a learner and be teachable. In John Mason’s book, Be Yourself, he writes “Remember, if you try to go it alone, the fence that shuts others out, also shuts you in.” 
4.      Accept criticism with discernment and humility. Know that it’s one person’s feedback. Perhaps that person can’t identify with your genre or topic or perhaps he is spot on.
5.      Take time to rest and refresh. We can’t run on empty.
6.      Trust God and wait on His timing.
7.      Identify my personal enemies: distractions, negative self-talk, zeal without prayer.
8.      Be thankful.
9.      Honor God by living His priorities for me-family, personally, and in writing.
10.  Partner with Him. He is the author and the one who has called me.
Conference takeaways are not necessarily a contract, request to send a proposal, or offer to guest post on a blog. I’m seeing it’s about learning who I am and who God wants me to become.  Number 20-yes, with courage and trust, “He will fulfill His purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8a ESV) ###
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Marilyn Nutter is a contributor to magazines, on-line sites, and compilations. She is a Bible teacher, speaker for women’s groups, and serves on the women’s ministry team at her church. She lives in Greer, SC. Visit www.marilynnutter.com to find her blog and extraordinary treasures in ordinary and challenging days. Social Media Links: Website: www.marilynnutter.com LinkedIn: Marilyn Nutter Pinterest: Marilyn Marotta Nutter Facebook: Marilyn Marotta Nutter