Friday, April 10, 2020

How Effective are Book signings, shows, and workshops ? (Part 1)

Jan McCanless

Author of Beryl's Cove Mysteries

Every time I meet another aspiring author, I am asked about book signings, book shows, and workshops offered by colleges, and other venues.

It has been my experience that book signings are probably the best venue an author can have for getting 'out there' meeting the readers and fans, and making yourself known. They are vital, and at one, you might have one person show up and buy a book, at another, they may be lined up to meet you. The numbers don't really mean that much, what counts is the fact you are at the bookstore, meeting and greeting, not just the readers, but, the employees as well.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Know Thyself, Follow Your Dream

Tricia Pimental      @a_movable
Award-Winning Author

Have you ever been told something about yourself and been completely stunned? For example, you arrive at work confident you’re a trendsetting fashionista. Later, a stylish colleague gently asks why you basically wear the same outfit—essentially a uniform—every day. That night you retreat to your wardrobe to discover it appears as scintillating as last year’s Tweets.

Something similar happened to me in 2016. My husband and I had been living in Portugal for four years, and we were chatting with an expat at a party. “I detest travel writing,” he said, as he referenced my blog. Flattered that he’d checked me out but taken off guard, I insisted that I posted on a variety of topics. He shrugged and changed the subject, leaving me bewildered.

The Versatile Apostrophe (Part 1)

Judith P. Nembhard

Apostrophe: noun. A punctuation mark that shows possession or marks the omission of one or more letters (contraction); a figure of speech

I have heard academics—mainly theology scholars strutting their Greek—complain about the limitations of English when they want to emphasize the special meaning of a word so that their audience will understand better what they are trying to say. They bemoan the fact that English has only one word for love, whereas the Greek has three or four. I take offence at any attempt to detract from the power of the English language. With the word apostrophe, I am pleased to say that English has two totally different meanings for the one word. I hope this is good enough to mollify those scholars.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word apostrophe comes from the Greek, and means “a turning away.” An apostrophe, then, refers to letters that have been turned away or left out in order to shorten a word or to make it more easily pronounceable. So it indicates omissions and contractions. It is an essential punctuation mark that writers should be able to use skillfully. In this age of self-publishing, it behooves us writers to be strong on our proofreading skills, which include a knowledge of how to use the apostrophe accurately. I recently listened to a book reviewer on NPR heap praise on a book that he considered powerful in its impact. Its one drawback, he said, was the writer’s mechanical errors. The reviewer mentioned something as simple as making one of the characters in the book say “I have” when “I’ve” would have been more effective in the context. The apostrophe, then, can be seen as useful for improving style.

The apostrophe as a mark of punctuation has a variety of uses. In her humorous book on punctuation, Eats Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss remarks, “There is a rumour that in parts of the Civil Service [in Britain] workers have been pragmatically instructed to omit apostrophes because no one knows how to use them anymore.” She asks, “How dare anyone make this decision on behalf of the apostrophe?” Truss says that a person who has always wanted to know about where to place the apostrophe will never learn “because it’s so extremely easy to find out.” And it is easy to find out from any English handbook so that a lesson in usage is not needed here. A few reminders, however, are worth noting. The apostrophe should not be used to make plurals of regular English nouns. For example: “The two writers (not writer’s) had their novels reviewed favorably.” Also, always place the apostrophe after the plural of a word when it already has an “s” at the end. For example: “Writers’ works must not be tampered with.”

Concerning making the plural of a year, do we write the “1970’s” or the “1970s”? Either one is correct. Words such as who’s and it’s are tricky for some people. Perhaps, like me, you get out your red pen when you read sentences such as “Mr. Pemberton didn’t know who’s play he was reviewing.” The sentence confuses “whose,” the relative pronoun, with the contraction for “who is.” With the apostrophe, it’s always means “it is”; without the apostrophe, “its” is a pronoun. If two characters own the same thing, the apostrophe goes to the second person mentioned; for, example, “Rogers and Hart’s prize-winning play was performed on Broadway.” If the item is owned separately, it is written “Roger’s and Hart’s prize-winning plays were performed on Broadway. “  . . . Part 2 on April 23.

Judith Nembhard was born in Jamaica and grew up amid the island’s lush scenery, which influenced her writing. Her early fascination with language led her to complete three degrees in English, including a doctorate from the University of Maryland College Park. Her articles have appeared in professional journals, religious and secular magazines, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. She writes Christian fiction. She has earned writing awards in the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, Deep River Books Contest, and Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. She is featured in the Southern Writers Magazine Galaxy of Stars.

Her book, Dark Days On The Fairest Island was a finalist in the Southern Christian Writers Conference (SCWC) Notable Book Award in its category.

Judith is a woman of faith and has shared her spiritual vision with audiences at commencement and Women’s Day celebrations and women’s retreats. She has given workshops on writing and improving public speaking skills.

Judith has two adult sons. She has teaching and writing as her greatest loves and reading as her most passionate hobby. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

What Thomas Payne Said.

Susan Reichert   @SouthrnWritrMag

                                 Photo by QuotesGram

Thomas Payne said, “These are the times that try men's souls.” His statement fits the time we are in right now.

For the first time many of us are “sequestered in our homes” and don’t know how long that will be. Let us use this time wisely to love our families and friends reaching out and letting them know we miss them.

Maybe it is a time to get to know our families again; clean out closets (not my favorite thing) and do things around the house we don’t get to do because we work. Try those hobbies we've put off until we retire. Write that story that is playing in our heads.

We miss our family and friends. I am most thankful however that we can by electronic devices, talk and see each other by Zoom and other programs. Check in bPayy phone and emails.

My prayer is that God will be with us all and bring us through this a stronger people, more grateful for our families and friends and for what we have.

Abraham Lincoln said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”

The American people have pulled together during national crisis throughout our history. This is no different.

May God bless all of you, stay well and be in health.

Susan Reichert is the Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazne.

Her company promotes authors and their books and have been doing this for nine years. Promotions are on the Gallery of Stars and Suite T, seasonal catalogs and special editions.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

What is the Normal Size of a Poem?

Sara Robinson

What is the “normal” size of a poem? Is there a “calibration standard” for poetry length? We don’t use calipers or carpenter squares to measure length on a page. That is too left-brain for us creative types. But we do study and investigate words to ponder over stresses, syllables, and metrical formats, especially if we are writing formally (i.e. sonnets). Most of us contemporary poets embrace free verse style, so we think about compression and compaction when we compose. We edit a lot, revise a bunch, and throw away words that we decide will be unnecessary or even lazy.

Getting the words down, then getting them good is our faithful mantra. This also means words play a major role in length. The novelist Greg Iles says he writes “in a granular way,” meaning his descriptions often unfold minute-by-minute. That’s why most of his novels are long and epic. I love his writing.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Still Waiting to Buy the Yacht

By Dan Walsh

Founding Father John Adams famously once said, “Facts are stubborn things.” Over the decades of my life, this quote has guided me at least a hundred times (maybe a thousand) and kept me from living in a constant state of desires-created/desires-destroyed. A Scripture verse that serves the same role is: “Hope deferred makes the heartsick” (Prov. 13:12). Modern translation? When you want something badly and don’t get it, you get depressed.

The bigger the hope that gets crushed, the deeper the “heartsickness” that follows.

I’ve learned that my heart can crave or want something to happen fairly easily. But the overwhelming majority of these desires don’t pan out in real life. Why? Because facts are stubborn things. They could care less about the things I desire. So, I decided a long time ago to keep my heart/desires in check until I’ve uncovered the facts in a situation. And even if the facts line up, it’s no guarantee God will say yes.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, a lot I think.

Since last month’s column, I’ve read an Author’s Guild blog from January that laid out the results of an extensive survey done with over 5,000 published writers. It concluded that the average annual income for authors is around $6,080/year. And that includes everything. From book income alone, the average drops to $3,100/year. Which happens to be LESS THAN HALF of what it was 10 years ago. So, the trend is moving the wrong way. (Click Here to read it).

These are not encouraging stats. Even among authors who claimed to be “writing fulltime” the median annual income was only $20,300 (well below the Federal Poverty line for a family of 3).

These are the facts. And they are stubborn things. And these stubborn facts have been true for quite a long time. But I don’t think these facts are widely known or understood. SO many of the authors I’ve met these past 10 years (since my first book came out) cling to a strong desire to one day quit their day job and “write fulltime.”

According to these stubborn facts, my writer friends should let that desire go…completely. If they would, they would be so much happier. Treat it like that old hippie saying: “If you love something, let it go. If it was meant to be, it will come back to you.”

When my first novel came out in 2009, I don’t how many times people asked me: “So, when are you going to buy that yacht?” My answer was: “I actually only made enough to remodel our kitchen…and that’s with us doing most of the work.” Where do people get this notion that being a published author means you’ve hit the big time and money will start rolling in?

You know the answer. They get it from Hollywood (and the Hallmark channel). For some ridiculous reason, whenever authors are portrayed in TV or film—even if they just have 1 or 2 books published—they get filthy rich (like the TV character Castle). They’ve got the yacht, the beautiful lakeside cabin to write in, drive the best cars. And when they do a book signing, the line of interested readers goes out the door.

Based on the facts I’ve seen, that image only represents about 1% of published authors. And only about 5% earn enough to write full-time (and remember, the median income for these authors is below the Federal poverty line).

So, stop beating yourself up for your lack of success. Stop craving something that, most likely, will never happen. Write for the love of writing. Write for the joy of storytelling. If your books make even $3,000 a year, throw a party. Invite your friends. Of course, if you do, some of them will inevitably ask, “So, when are you going to buy that yacht?”

I have 21 novels out now. I’ve been fortunate enough to write full-time and actually make a semi-decent living.

I am however, still waiting on that yacht.
Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 21 novels (all available on Amazon), including The Unfinished Gift, Rescuing Finley, When Night Comes and The Reunion (now being made into a feature film). Over 750,000 of his books are in print or downloaded. He's won both the Carol and Selah Awards multiple times, 4 of his novels have been finalists for RT Reviews Inspirational Novel of the Year. Reviewers often remark about Dan's rich, character-driven storylines and page-turning suspense (even with his more inspirational books). He's been writing full-time since 2010. He and his wife Cindi have been married 42 years, have 2 grown children and 4 grandchildren. They live in the Daytona Beach area, where Dan grew up. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter, read his blog, or preview all his books by visiting his website at Dan’s books: If These Walls Could Talk - DAN'S NEWEST NOVEL, When Night Comes, Remembering Dresden, Unintended Consequences,  Perilous Treasure,  Rescuing Finley, Finding Riley Saving Parker and  The Deepest Waters (2nd Ed)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Novel Way to Promote Your Writing (Part 2)

Judith Nembhard 
A passionate fiction writer.


           Consider also as a possible venue a community senior center. Here the director is tasked with providing varied and interesting activities to keep the clients engaged, and you have just what they need.  Admittedly, there is usually a routine that the center follows, but something different and valuable to the clients, as a workshop on an aspect of the language would certainly be, is an attractive offer, so they would welcome your presentation.
            College English departments also are a fertile resource for presenting a workshop on writing. Most colleges have a campus-wide activity period each semester. A lot of activities go on during this time, organized by clubs and other groups. At such a time, an English professor may invite a guest to his or her class. As an instructor, I invited a writer to my class, and it proved extremely satisfying for both the students and me. Later I, too, was invited to address a group of English majors during one of their activity periods. This is a time when you can give useful highlights on the writing life to young people who may be interested in becoming writers.