July 31, 2012

Summertime and the Writing is Easy

by guest author Kala Ambrose

I’d like to think of myself as a “seasoned” writer, as over the years, I’ve learned that my best work comes when I follow the natural rhythm of the four seasons.  I do my best research in the Fall, like the good student going back to school, my best writing in the Winter, going within and being introspective, my best ideas burst forth in the Spring and become my garden to grow and in the Summer, I enjoy the fruit of my efforts and take some time to play in the sun.

As a born and bred Southern writer, I know all about pacing myself in the heat of summer. I rise early and while enjoying the brilliant colors spilling forth from the dawn, I jot down ideas as they flow through my mind. By mid-afternoon, I surrender to the heat and humidity and find somewhere cool to curl up with a good book and read before drifting off to sleep.  Late at night under the stars and the full moon, I’m refreshed and ready to write again. 

Want to explore writing in harmony with seasons?

Here are Five Tips To Writing in the Summer Season:

1.      Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Often I have ideas that don’t make it into book form, but are great fodder for articles and blog posts. When I have a deadline to write for in the summer, I pull these out and the work is mostly done. I tighten them up and away they go.

2.      A Picture Contained to Only 500 words
I find the photos on Pinterest so invigorating. When I’m looking for some inspiration, I often gaze at a photo that inspires me on an emotional level. After a few minutes, I usually have to reign myself in to only writing 500 words for a blog post.

3.      Step Away from the Desk and Take a Vacation
There’s a reason when students return back to school in the fall, that the first essay they are asked to write is “what I did on summer vacation”. Summer is a time for making memories with family and friends.  These adventures generate a wealth of material to use on cold winter nights.

4.      Meditate to Stimulate
Meditation is a wonderful experience for the mind, body and spirit. The most popular guided meditation CD I created is called Spirit of Hawaii, designed to visualize being at the beach when you can’t get there in person.  As the warm breezes surround you, you relax and before you know it, you’re drifting off to a land of intrigue and adventure. 

5.      Engage in Sensory Overload
Summer to me is warm nights in a convertible under the stars, the delight of a cool breeze breaking the heat before a big storm, the ripe delicious pink color and taste of watermelon at a picnic and eating peaches over vanilla ice cream. I can think back to any summer and remember the waves at the beach, the laughter of friends as we sipped Sangria in the afternoon and the scent of honeysuckle on the vine as my grandmother and I sat rocking in chairs on the front porch.  All of these beautiful sights and sensations are lovingly stored in my creative mind, ready to be shared with others when I write.

Summertime, when the writing is easy and the season is filled with love, light and laughter. Enjoy every moment. 

Noted wisdom teacher, author, intuitive, inspirational speaker, and host of the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Radio and TV Show (, Kala Ambrose's teachings are described as discerning, empowering and inspiring. Kala is the author of four books including the award-winning 9 Life Altering Lessons: Secrets of theMystery Schools Unveiled, GhosthuntingNorth Carolina, The Awakened Aura:Experiencing the Evolution of Your Energy Body and coming September 2012, Spirits of New Orleans: Voodoo Curses,Vampire Legends and Cities of the Dead

July 30, 2012

Olympic Gold Writer

by Annette Cole Mastron

Every four years my family and I look forward to the Summer Olympics. We favor the Summer Games because at least some of the sports we have tried, and we recognize the difficulties first hand. The opening ceremonies are always spectacular productions.

London's extravaganza was phenomenal and especially a treat to this writer. Amazing book characters and scenes came to life in snippets that make this writer want to revisit favorite and familiar pages. Hats off to film director Danny Boyle, who is most definitely a reader all authors dream will transform their work into film. Friday night's production, with the whole world watching, showcased some of England's authors' written work, transferring words into a live performance.

The opening ceremonies featured multiple sets and a cast of over 15,000
The mounded pasture scene, complete with farm animals, reminded me of the shire from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Boyle's vision for the scene was from A. A. Milne's Winnie The Pooh or Kenneth Grahame's Wind in The Willows. This scene, however, invoked the hobbits world for me.

The farm scene disappears while Shakespeare's The Tempest is quoted: “Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises.” Charles Dickens' scenes come alive through the evolution from a farm society into an industrial one indicated by five huge smokestacks.

A precocious pig-tailed child is seen closeup reading by flashlight under the sheets while nightmares swirl around her bed. J. K. Rowling read not from one of her books but from, J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan: “Of all the delectable islands the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact, not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed. When you play at it by day with the chairs and table-cloth, it is not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep it becomes very nearly real. That is why there are night-lights.” A forty-foot Voldemort from Rowling's Harry Potter book series becomes the head nightmare, along with Captain Hook, Dodie Smith's Cruella de Vil character from 101 Dalmatians and Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland villain, the Queen of Hearts.

Guess which writer saves the children from the nightmares? Why of course, P. L. Travers' Mary Poppins. Thirty or more float with opened umbrellas into the stadium to save all children from the evil nightmares and bring light to their world.

By far the best of the best was Ian Fleming's, James Bond 007 character played by actor, Daniel Craig. Seen all spiffy in a tuxedo entering Buckingham Palace, stepping over the Queen's royal corgi pups and entering her palatial office standing at attention while she is in a pinkish dress seated at an ornate desk finishing the business of England. He clears his throat. She rises and simple states, "Good evening, Mr. Bond". They exit the palace and appear to be together inside a white helicopter with a British flag painted on the side. They fly past the landmarks of London. The helicopter door opens and the eighty-six year old monarch and 007 are seen leaping parachute laden from the helicopter into the inky night above Olympic stadium just like a scene from an Ian Fleming book. Moments later the Queen appears accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, and they make their official entrance to the Games. The Queen has a "wicked" sense of humor and must be a reader of spy novels. It was a bloody brilliant entrance.

So are you going for Olympic Gold? Will you write something that will become a classic for generations to enjoy? You'll never know unless you begin to write.

Have you gotten your free online copy of Southern Writers' anniversary issue yet? Get it now! 

July 26, 2012

The Literary Life

by Vanessa Eccles

Last month, I was able to attend an awards luncheon at Troy University in honor of the lovely Bobby Anne Mason, author of Shiloh and In Country. She shared about some of her life experiences in her youth and how certain events, now looking back, were particularly literary. This got me thinking. Do we all live literary lives?

Let us explore this further. Take a moment and think back at some particularly odd, beautiful, or ironic moment in your life. We all have them. We may even go further back – into our family’s history. Perhaps:

·         You ended up pursing a career that you had always swore you would not.
·         Your grandparents lived out a true life fairy tale/happily ever-after.
·         Your life was changed by the words of a stranger.
·         The love of your life grew up with you, but you never gave him/her a second glance until years later.

My husband and I, for example, knew one another for years before ever becoming a couple. It took a chance encounter and perfect timing for us to realize we should be together. All these things happen to people, and if that is not the stuff good literature is made of, I don’t know what is.

Ralph Ellison once said, “The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike.” Take a plunge into the past, swim around in it for a while, find the deep dark family secret, and let your inspiration emerge.

Our lives are filled with tales that would make great books. We really do not have to look far to find wonderfully complicated situations that people would love to read about. Go on and change a few names, fluff a few details, and add a little spice to the pot. We all have a story to tell.

In the words of Ms. Mason, “Life is literary.” So, when are we going to start writing it?


Vanessa K. Eccles has spent a lifetime developing her skill and love for writing.  She completed her first novel Georgia in 2009 and is currently working on her second novel Realm of Desire. She blogs at The Writer's Block which is a place to share, encourage, and help inspire other writers. 

Have you gotten your free online copy of Southern Writers' anniversary issue yet? Get it now!  

July 25, 2012

Your Blog Strategy ... part 2

by guest blogger Rodney Page

Last month I wrote on the importance of developing a blog strategy. I hope you found the comments helpful, and thanks to you who provided feedback.

Several of you requested additional information regarding the “how’s” of creating awareness for your blog. I’ll share some ideas that that have been effective for me. But remember, your blogging objective, target audience and desired actions of your readers are unique.

Following is a recap of the major elements of a blog strategy for a non-fiction writer. Today we’re focusing on the third question.

  • What is your objective? It will likely focus on establishing your expertise.
  • Who do you want to read your blog?
  • How do you make them aware of your blog?
  • What do you want the readers to think or do after they’ve read your blog?

First, develop a comprehensive list of appropriate publications, websites and other related blogs
When blogging to promote a non-fiction work, this task isn’t quite as daunting as it may seem. You are likely already familiar with many of the specialty or trade publications and websites appropriate for your topic. To identify other bloggers, start with these blog list websites (…and there are many others):

Now, get creative with your Google search terms. Below are a few generic terms, applicable to almost any subject, to add to your topic search:
  • Marketing
  • Customers
  • Media
  • Articles
  • Comment
  • Editorial
  • PR
  • News
  • Recent articles
  • Experts
  • Readers
  • Books
Second, communicate with a person, not a blog, website, or publication
For the targeted blogs, websites, or publications you choose to target, identify the names and email addresses of living, breathing human beings. It sounds simple, but it seems to be getting more difficult as the ‘humans’ hide themselves behind website pre-formatted email templates…and when you fill out one of those, it’s the same as addressing a letter ‘To Whom it May Concern.’ If you’ve searched and searched and can’t find a name or email address, here’s a little trick: in the Google search window type @the organization’s website URL. You’ll be surprised how often names and email addresses turn up.

Third, learn something about the blogs, websites, or publications you will contact
For goodness sake, read a couple of blogs, scan recent press releases on the website, review the last couple issues of the magazine. Weaving a few pertinent facts into your message will work wonders. Doing so demonstrates you are familiar with and taken the interest and time to learn about them.

Lastly, realize that in order to get, you must also give
If you want another blogger to re-post your blog, will you reciprocate? If it would be a boon should a regional publication mention your blog, are you willing to highlight the magazine in your blog before you ask for their help? If a brief mention of you and your expertise on a prominent website would boost your book sales, will you take the time to contribute to the site’s online forum?

I hope you find these additional thoughts useful and, happy blogging!

Rodney Page is the author of the upcoming novel Powers Not Delegated
A native of Georgia, Rodney's business career includes a variety of senior management positions and consulting engagements in a broad range of industries, from startups to Fortune 500 firms. In 2005 Rodney co-authored Leading Your Business to the Next Level...the Six Core Disciplines of Sustained Profitable Growth. He lives in Atlanta. His passions include hiking, photography, reading, and, of course, University of Georgia football.

Have you gotten your free online copy of Southern Writers' anniversary issue yet? Get it now! 

July 24, 2012

Masterpieces are Padded with Doozies

by guest blogger Anna Lee Everhart

Jerry Maguire did handstand push-ups; I prefer listening to the quiet. Whatever your technique may be, we all need one for moments of writer’s block. Oh, the delight of sitting in your creative space and fervently writing the words as they flow freely from your intellect to the pen and finally to the paper.

But what about the days when your creative space feels dull and any glimmer of witty dialogue or ironic word choices just effervesce before they become a complete thought. The feared writer’s block sets in and can last for minutes. Days. Oh, please don’t even say it . . . weeks! Annnnnnnd I’m stuck.

Don’t be discouraged in those moments of mental numbness. Hang onto the fact that even the most creative people in history had several doozies between the masterful works for which we praise them (think Picasso), and follow a few of these tips:

Change up your writing space. If you normally type on your computer indoors, try going outside with a notebook or laptop. Or, find inspiration by people watching at a park or coffee shop.

Introduce a schedule. Write at the same time of day, every day, and your brain may follow suit and begin to show up when you do.

Set goals and deadlines. Nothing motivates like a little pressure. Giving yourself deadlines for word counts or chapters you want to accomplish is a great way to keep interested enough in your project.

Listen. When your thoughts become forced, it’s time to clear your mind. Try laying on your couch to rest, enjoy the silence, and soon enough a thought will sparkle to the surface.

See what’s trending on the web. Expand your reader base by looking on social media sites to see what’s trending. Find a topic that speaks to you, and add hash tags to match the trends.

Just write. When it comes down to it, just show up and write. Even if you come up with one stellar sentence in 600 words, well, it’s a win.

It can take some time, editing, and a darn thick skin, but before you know it, your words will come together effortlessly, and the ironies and character development will make that perfect, sexy combination that ends up nabbing you a publisher (hip hip!). Next time another writer’s block is about to ruin your day, remember back to the gleaming moments of creative bliss and know a similar moment is not far away. That block is actually a step. A step up toward the finished piece! Up and over you’ll soon enough go. Just make sure you have your pen and paper at the ready!

Anna Lee Everhart is the author of the children’s book, Bearful Bear and his New Moves. Visit BQB’s online store to learn more about Anna and to purchase her book in paperback or hardcover. Bearful Bear and his New Moves is also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and through your favorite bookstore.

Have you gotten your free online copy of Southern Writers' anniversary issue yet? Get it now! 

July 23, 2012

Getting Published: Decisions, Decisions.

by guest blogger Terri Leidich, President of BQB Publishing

Technology has a “constant change” effect on many industries and publishing is no exception. At one point, the only way to become a published author was to be accepted by a traditional publishing house, which for many authors didn’t happen. In today’s world, a traditional publisher is just one of the options available to writers. Here is a quick synopsis of the options for getting published:

Traditional Publishing Houses—With their business model of picking up all of the expenses for publishing a book and taking all the risks, traditional publishing houses are limited in the number of books they can publish each year. Before taking a risk on an author, they have to be certain that there is a strong, viable market of readers that would be willing to spend their money on the final product, which usually is not the case for new authors. That’s why traditional houses often publish books by celebrities—because there is already an established market. New writers occasionally get picked up by a big house, but the process can be long and arduous. 

Independent Publishing Houses—These are smaller publishing houses that typically concentrate on a region of the country or on specific genres. Their business model is similar to traditional houses in that they pick up all of the expenses for publishing a book and taking all the risks, so they are usually very limited on the new titles they publish each year.

University Presses—These are academic, nonprofit publishing houses that are typically associated with a large research university. They mostly publish scholarly works, textbooks, or reference works, but will often also publish titles designed to reach a particular target audience. 

Self-Publishing Companies—With the advance of technology, self-publishing companies abound. There is typically a relatively small cost to an author upfront to get their book “edited” and “formatted” but there is a myriad of other costs an author has to pay to get a book into the marketplace. The biggest problem with self-publishing companies is the lack of quality in the editing process. Self-publishing companies accept all manuscripts, and the level of editing that is offered is basic proofreading at best. As any serious writer knows, it takes a strong editor with developmental abilities along with strong editing knowledge to take any manuscript and turn it into a polished book. Once a book is created, distribution of the book is typically limited to Amazon because most booksellers will not sell print-on-demand (POD) books because of the general lack of quality.

Author Self-Publishing—Some authors choose to go the total self-publishing route where they have the books edited, designed, and printed, and they handle all of the distribution themselves. The drawback with this option is again the limited marketing and distribution that is available.

Independent Hybrid Publishers—This genre of publishers is relatively new on the scene. It is typically a combination of the high-quality processes for acceptance, editing, and book design that are indigenous to the traditional houses, combined with the author’s financial participation that is a part of self-publishing. These houses share the publishing costs with the author, which enables them to accept more books per year and to accept books based on the quality of the content and the writing and not on whether or not there is already a strong marketing platform. However, the distribution and marketing processes can differ greatly in this type of publishing house with some independent hybrid publishers using the POD method of distribution while others use full-service distribution that gets books into entities like Barnes & Noble Stores, Books-A-Million, and Baker & Taylor wholesalers.

The bottom line for choosing the right publishing model for a book depends on an author’s desires and intentions around their book. Deciding which publisher to pursue is one of the biggest decisions as an author. I encourage writers to keep publishing options in mind long before they ink the manuscript’s final page.

Terri Leidich is the president of BQB Publishing and author of From a Grieving Mother’s Heart and For a Grieving Heart. Founded in August of 2010, BQB was created to be “the writer’s publisher,” focusing on quality writing from new authors. An independent hybrid publisher, BQB combines the quality processes of traditional publishing with hands-on author involvement to bring today’s new writers and tomorrow’s best sellers into the hands of booksellers and the reading public. To learn more about BQB, visit

Have you gotten your free online copy of Southern Writers' anniversary issue yet? Get it now!

July 20, 2012

How I Write

by guest blogger Sheila S. Hudson

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.  ~Agatha Christie

Writers are a rare and wonderful breed. As Ms. Christie observes: writers loyal to their craft are always writing. Writers don’t take days off, observe holidays, or rest on the weekend.

On Wednesday mornings when I shop at Publix, I am writing.  I wonder to myself: Wouldn’t an icicle make the ideal murder weapon? What about poison slipped into a victim’s contact lens solution? Could that person in front of me in the checkout line be a serial killer?

When working a crossword puzzle, I store away unique words for future manuscripts and make notes of interesting phrases. I jot down scraps of dialogue overheard in Wal-Mart. I eavesdrop on families in the mall. It is fascinating to observe humans in their natural habitat especially children. Children are humor, unpretentious, but most of all painfully honest.

I am blessed to be a writer in the 21st century. With access to the internet via my netbook, I can work anytime and anywhere. I have no reason for not writing. Opportunities abound with free Wi-Fi in Starbucks, McDonalds, the local library, even in the gynecologist’s office. With the click of a few keys, I can blog, Tweet, or locate my peeps on Facebook. Even writers with a modest budget for books can amass lots of titles via Kindle or Nook, electronic treasure troves!

When I am not keyboarding, I am trolling for markets, researching for an article, sifting through submission guidelines, or searching files for ideas. Forgotten pieces can be resurrected and polished with a little computer magic.

Through email, I share call-out information with my writer buddies, swap manuscripts for critique, and keep current in my writing circles. Social media affords me the privilege of having the information highway at my fingertips.

Because the internet is so popular, everyone fancies themselves a writer. Publishing on demand is big business. Private publishing is on the rise. Good writing is good writing no matter the mode of publication.

Twenty-five plus years of freelance writing has taught me that I am fortunate to be a writer in the 21st Century. Writing has opened doors that otherwise would have been sealed. I have met unforgettable people and been afforded tremendous opportunities. Freelancing has enhanced my life. Because of it, I possess treasured friendships and networking contacts. Travel writing, humor writing, essays, personal experience, and inspirational writing have given me an appreciation for other forms of prose all the while furnishing an outlet for my manuscripts. And as icing on the cake was when Tim, my husband, retired he joined me with his photography expertise.

As an only child for many years, I spent a lot of time alone. So when I chose to write, it wasn’t that much different. I still need discipline and create deadlines to keep myself on track. Writing has helped me break through shyness and open portals that I wouldn’t have dared before. I have been allowed to peek into other worlds and I am anxious to share those experiences with my readers.  

Writing is a passion that’s always with me and I suspect that’s true for all of us. So my parting advice is: Never ask a writer what he/she is doing.  Not even if they are staring out the window or knitting a scarf.  They are mentally composing a setting, writing a character description, or figuring out a plot point. They are writing. Writers write. Even when we aren’t putting pen to paper.

Sheila S. Hudson is a freelance journalist,
speaker, workshop leader and Co-President
of Southeastern Writers Association. Sheila
is also the founder of Bright Ideas. Visit her
website at

Have you gotten your free online copy of Southern Writers' anniversary issue yet? Get it now!  

July 19, 2012

Bayou Serenade

by Kittie Howard

If you’re like me, there are times when life’s challenges need a time out. My crash and burn site is a comfy sofa an interior designer would laugh at. Never mind. I shutter my eyelids and exhale into a silence that soothes. If only for a few minutes, my grandmother’s swing creaks into an August evening on the family farm in South Louisiana. Cicadas sing for a mate in a shadowed bayou. As dusk deepens, my legs stretch on the wooden steps.

My grandfather’s light cough signals a story is coming. Like my siblings gathered around, I don’t know which story in a family that first came to Louisiana in 1679, I just know one of my ancestors will draw us into the familial whole and am comforted by the linkage.

Much of the person I am today evolved from evenings spent sitting on the stoop and listening to stories. Long before Kenny Rogers sang “you gotta know when to fold ‘em,” I learned my grandfather’s father, Tilly, a professional gambler, rode on horseback into the marshes and won most of Louisiana’s oil-rich southern parishes the first night of a three-day poker tournament. Tilly never made the second round. A competitor shot him dead while he slept. Even though I never bothered with poker, Tilly’s lone-rider persona influences my stronger characters.

My great-grandmother kept a pitcher of lemonade in her ice box. Yes, ice box is the correct term. She refused to get one of those “electric boxes,” continued to wear a prairie bonnet and long skirts despite changed fashions, and baked meringue pies in a wooden stove’s oven. I thought she was stern and kept my distance, until my parents decided I’d spend a weekend at her house. My great-grandfather, a man of few words, terrified me.

After a glass of lemonade on the porch, swings and chairs turned into the stoop. Though neither of my great-grandparents spoke fluent English – both spoke French in the home – the barriers of language and fear faded into an evening of adventure-filled stories. Great-grandfather had traveled the world as a merchant seaman. When I need a character with a fa├žade that belies the spirit beneath a perceived sternness, my great-grandparents whisper in my ear.

Last year, when I wrote “Remy Broussard’s Christmas,” I knew Remy would sit where I had sat in a rural classroom with two grades to a room. When Remy looked out the window, he saw the pasture I saw. Even though Remy and his classmates were fictitious, I drew from the times. In 1952, rural kids lived in a world where dreams, laughter, and closely-knit families softened much beyond subsistence living many endured. I remember classmates, sharecropper kids, who wore their parents’ tattered clothing to school and ate lard sandwiches for lunch.

On my journey as an author, memories influence everything from setting to theme. How about you? Do you pack your memories in a suitcase to help you on your journey as an author?

Kittie moved 19 times in 30 years with her Marine Corp husband but her heart has always longed for home and she plans to soon return to her Louisiana roots that go back as far as 1679, when her family first arrived there.

On her blog Kittie's Stories, she shares a slice of her life. Kittie will also be releasing Jacob's Birthday Party, a 1950s story of Louisiana during the tumultuous KKK years. She plans to self-publish this work in September. 

Besides writing, Kittie is also passionate about traveling, languages, and comparative religion studies.  To get the dust bunnies out of her head, she fast-walks and gardens.

July 18, 2012

A Rejection Can be Better Than Acceptance

by Sherry Perkins

Have you ever entered a writing contest only to never hear from them again? Most of the time, well all of the time, I keep my eyes open trying to pick out the frauds. Perhaps I think too big in this regard, because I feel like I have stumbled head first into the “sucker” abyss with my eyes wide open all the way to the bottom.

In the summer of 2010 I submitted a piece to what I thought was a reputable competition; it was for an anthology. The sponsor had a website, a blog, an award-winning book, and taught at a university. She had even published other anthologies. I felt good about submitting for free and I had heard about the opportunity at my writers’ group. Plus, I had never had a bad experience, except for the rejection letters we all get. Those are good experiences if you think about it.

I came up with a submission, worked on it, edited it, made sure it was within the word count, and sent it by the deadline. Then, I received an acceptance letter. Yes, my piece was accepted for inclusion! The prize for acceptance was copies of the anthology.  A follow-up email to me said something like, “...looking forward to working with you in the editing process.” I was on Cloud 9 for days, weeks. Sadly, this is where the story ends.

What was to be published by Christmas 2010 is still not published. I’ve send emails and posted on her Facebook page all with no response. Stupidly, I never got a contact number. At first, after a few months of no replies, all I wanted to know was the status of the publication. Now, I want to withdraw my piece so it can find a home elsewhere. I am beyond disappointed and passed being mad a long time ago, but what am I to do? Is there a statute of limitations on what someone promises versus what they deliver? I don’t know. I’m no literary attorney. Are any of you by chance?

The point is although we are careful where we submit, these situations are bound to happen. Do I feel cheated? Yes. Do I feel like I’ve wasted a year and a half waiting patiently on a piece to get published, only to realize I’ve been duped? Yes. Has this ever happened to me? No! Although I don’t have children, this experience makes me feel like one of my fictional kids has disappeared and I don’t know where he is. So, please be cautious of your submissions.

We writers work hard on every word. We constantly edit. We’re open for suggestions to make ourselves better writers. And when we do submit, no one should ever just leave us hanging. At least have the courtesy to say, “No thanks.” For the first time, I would’ve been happier with a rejection letter.

P.S. Here’s a follow up:
Just a few weeks ago I finally heard from the sponsor. Was this coincidence since I was preparing this piece for the Suite T blog? You got me. Naturally, she apologized for not getting back to me and agreed I should submit my story elsewhere. She said she did not receive enough good submissions for the anthology and got busy with other things. However, mine stood out and was well written. (At least that’s what she said.) I accepted her explanation and chalked it up to experience. We ended the back and forth emails on good terms.


Sherry Perkins is president of Bayou Writers’ Group of Lake Charles, Louisiana,  and has had several articles and photographs published. She resides in DeRidder, Louisiana, with her husband, stepdaughter, two cats, a fish, and a ball python named Richard Pryor.  Visit Sherry at

Have you gotten your free online copy of Southern Writers' anniversary issue yet? Get it now!  

July 17, 2012

Putting on a Happy Face

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

Car insurance is no laughing matter.  But watching today's TV commercials, one might think so.

There once was a time when insurance ads took their mission seriously.  However, in recent years, cavemen, gekkos, and perky girls in white uniforms have populated the advertising landscape.  Some are even accompanied by jingles as silly as Yahoo's. 

The few remaining insurance companies who hung onto a shred of dignity have begun dabbling in humor as well, e.g. the "I am Mayhem" guy, or car owners suddenly speaking in the voice of the company spokesman.

The reason, of course, is because nobody really wants to buy car insurance.  So rather than approach reluctant customers with a stuffy message about premiums or a re-enactment of their next accident, why not make buying from them look like fun?  It's a brilliant tactic, really.

I should point out that the cavemen, while becoming famous enough to earn their own (failed) TV series, didn't sell a lot of insurance once they were overexposed and simply got on people's nerves.  The gekko is approaching that status currently, and if he doesn't crawl back under a rock soon, I predict a rival insurance company will do an ad in which a snake swallows a lizard whole.

That said, this same company wisely elects to diversify, with simultaneous campaigns involving rhetorical questions that end with Charlie Daniels playing a mean fiddle, or my favorite, "so-and-so is a real customer, not an actor. So we hired (celebrity)," who proceeds to interpret their testimonial in their own outrageous style.

It isn't just insurance companies whose ads have gone from blah to better.  Want to know your credit score?  Me neither.  But an amiable young songster wearing a pirate hat might lure you in with his catchy ditty.

Doing an online search for the best deal on a Mexican cruise may not be our idea of a fiesta, but if Captain Kirk chooses to boldly go south of the border to entertain us, all I can say is, “¡Ay, caramba!”

Hopefully the books we write aren't such a drudge that it takes an over-the-top pitchperson to peddle them.  But in advertising, comedy is the new tragedy, so if you've written something along the order of The Complete Guide to Nursing Homes in the Northern Hemisphere, Betty White could be just the ticket.

Have you gotten your free online copy of Southern Writers' anniversary issue yet? Get it now!

July 16, 2012

Authors Helping Authors: Sell Books for Steve Day

by Jeffrey "Hammerhead" Philips 

(For the last couple of weeks, Suite T has been sharing different ways in which Southern Writers Magazine is dedicated to helping authors. Today we're proud to spotlight a special group of authors who also believe in supporting a very good cause. Here's guest blogger Jeffrey "Hammerhead" Philips:

It started with a simple request.
Non-fiction author Steven Kerry Brown, my friend and fellow blogger at, has been fighting Leukemia for two years. A few weeks ago, he asked if I would send an e-mail out to the Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Florida chapter. He wanted to notify his fellow members that his chemo was no longer effective, and that he had decided to enter Shands Cancer Hospital for a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT).  

That was the bad news. Almost as discouraging, however, was the fact that the cost of the program would exceed $500,000.00, all of which would be coming out of Steve’s own pocket, as he no longer had health insurance. And so, reluctantly, Steve decided he needed to ask for help. He set up an online fund seeking donations to help offset some of that treatment cost and asked me to spread the word in hopes that some of his fellow writers might be able to spare a few dollars.
The e-mail was sent. The next Saturday was the monthly MWA meeting, and our chapter president, Neil Plakcy, asked if I would say a few words about Steve’s condition. I was grateful for the opportunity. After my announcement, many members stood and said how helpful they found Steve’s book, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating”, and how Steve (himself a well-known private investigator) had helped them with P.I. characters in their books. Many members were glad to donate to his fund, and several wanted to do even more. This is one fantastic group of people.
The next week I received e-mails from fellow writers asking the same question: how else can we help Steve? With the assistance of Neil and another MWA Florida board member, Diane Stuckart, an idea formed. What do authors like to do the most? Sell their books. And so we decided upon a one-day event where participating authors agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds of their sales of a particular title to Steve’s fund. It would be called “Sell Books for Steve Day”. But, who would spearhead this endeavor? Of course, I said I would.
Step one was to find authors willing to take part and give up their hard-won royalties for the cause. A request was sent to our MWA chapter’s authors. Many of whom, in turn, sent word about the event to other organizations.
In the next few days, fifteen generous authors from the MWA and Romance Writers of America volunteered for the event scheduled for Monday, July 16th. WOW, I love these people.
The next steps quickly fell into place. Book covers and story blurbs were collected, links to Amazon were created. The blog “Handcuffed” was updated with information about the event. Everyone announced the event on the social media networks and Tweets were sent. The love was felt. Steve is at a loss of words for his gratitude. And now, we’re waiting to see just how successful our efforts will prove to be.
Yes, sometimes a simple request grows into something more profound. Steve’s appeal sent me down a road where I found any number of people willing to help, wanting to do more. It does my heart good knowing so many are helping.
I want to thank Southern Writers Magazine for space and willingness to help this cause. I’m asking its readers to go to today, July 16th and review all the fine books (and in my opinion, the best authors in the world) being offered to raise money for Steve. Buy one, or two, or all fifteen knowing that a portion of your purchase (in some cases, up to 100%!) will go directly to Steve’s fund.

But remember, to count for this event, your purchase must be made today, July16. You also can donate directly to the BMT transplant fund any time you like at, where Steve is blogging about his treatment and progress. And even if you can’t buy a book or make a donation, spreading the word about this event will help Steve out as well.
Jeffrey “Hammerhead” Philips strapped on a scuba cylinder (when Clorox bottles were BCD’s) for the first time in 1967. He dove for two years, decided he liked the water and obtained his scuba certification from NASDS, then became a PADI instructor. He hasn’t stopped diving since. In 1980 he married the prettiest mermaid in the ocean, Kitty. Today, he lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, writing fictionalized events of his travels.


July 12, 2012

Bless Bernie's Heart

by Annette Cole Mastron

If you like to analyze creative storytelling, and are a fan of Southern satirical comedy that is regrettably and tragically true, run to your local theatre before the movie Bernie has come and gone. Bless his little heart. 

During the opening scene, Jack Black plays beloved Bernie and is seen driving through town waving and greeting everyone, while singing a gospel hymn at the top of his lungs. Shirley MacLaine plays the meanest woman in town (think Old Man Potter in the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life). This story has it all: a rural, dying, once oil boom town of Carthage, TX, a horrendous crime, family and friend greed, and courtroom scenes with the tension of a verdict. 

There is also a would-be hero, a district attorney played by cutie Matthew McConaughey.  His character through the townspeople’s perceptions and feelings is portrayed almost villain-like, even though he is the seeker of justice for the victim. Poor old Matthew’s character, Danny Buck Davidson, never called “Danny” or “Buck” but always “Danny Buck”, has an obvious streak of dramatics fueled by political ambitions.
Matthew McConaughey's real life mom, K-Mac, is Tassie, one of the quirky townsfolk. The laugh out loud moments come while the locals tell their views on events as the story unfolds, with unspoken questions answered by their flavorful and candid responses, witticisms voiced as only true Southerners speak. Some memorable movie quotes are as follows: "I'm not fond of cremations, I just don't like the idea of someone spending eternity in something the size of a motel ice bucket;" "it's like he cast a spell over the entire area;" "she used to tear up my toys, she'd pull the heads off my dolls” and Bernie responds, “well there's some goodness in there, too;" "there are people in town that would have shot her for five dollars;" "frozen like a popsicle;" "counting-cousin rednecks with more tattoos than teeth;" and the revered Southern phrase "that dog don't hunt".   

This kaleidoscope of a movie has something for everyone and started out simply as an article for Texas Monthly entitled “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas” written by co-screenwriter Skip Hollandsworth. Are you paying attention, writers? A mere article in a state publication based on a true crime with real people became a bona fide movie starring award-winning actors and actresses. The writer of the article had his writing career change from article writer to co-screenwriter. 

Never say, “I have no story ideas.” We are surrounded by stories. Unfortunately, in our society, true crime events occur everyday. Find one that interests you and write about it. Who knows, the movie makers could knock on your door one day; but you have to write the article or they for sure won't come. Pick up that pen, put pen to paper and "bless your little heart," start that article.


Have you gotten your free online copy of Southern Writers' anniversary issue yet? Get it now!

July 11, 2012

Getting the Word Out

by Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief

I hope you are celebrating our anniversary with us this month. It is so exciting to see the manifestation of something you create. I know you experience the same feeling every time you have a new book published and hold it in your hands for the first time.

Southern Writers has had the privilege to meet wonderful authors and be part of their excitement when their books are published and awards received. It has been our pleasure to promote 178 authors our first year.
We have created many venues for authors to promote their books, such as Suite T, the author’s blog. Here we come and blog about writing and all the facets connected to it. This gives authors another place to interact with each other and to help each other. 

Becoming a member of Southern Writers family, you will find people who work to promote your books and promote you as authors. The author’s stage, Open Mic Nite, is such a great place to promote that new award received; the book signing event; announcing the debut date of your new book along with the cover. Introduce yourself here using your bio.  There are many things you can put here about you and your books. We even included audio for you to use to enhance the promotion of that book.  You can then take that link and post it on your social media, blog and or website. This gives your fans, followers, editors, agents and publishers another venue for you.

The same is true of our newest promotional tools Take Five and Must Read TV. These venues are fantastic to use to give your followers more information about you and your books. Reading from a chapter in your book is perfect to entice people to want to buy your book. They get to hear your voice style and from that five minute teaser they want to buy that book to learn what happens. Take Five is a great way to give people a treat. It’s a great way to sell a book.

And you want won’t to miss putting your book trailer on Must Read TV or how about a TV interview you've done? Readers love to see videos. People are visual; we want to see what we are buying. 

Take the links to these appearances and use them on your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Authors know the more places they have their name and their book’s name appear, the higher their internet ratings go and the more prominent they'll be in search engines. 
Let us help promote you and your book.  Become a member of the Southern Writers family and take advantage of all the promotional tools we've created to help you promote your writing and sell more books.

To get started, here is your link to our free online anniversary issue: 

We hope you enjoy this gift. And we hope to see you in Southern Writers soon!