October 31, 2012

Dr. Franken-worder

By Rhonda Rhea

Dark confession time:  I am the Dr. Frankenstein of language.

Give me a couple of words when I’m in word slicing and dicing mode and, all for my own selfish sentence-shaping desires, I will invariably shamelessly try to force them to life in some sort of brazen word-morph move. It’s called “worphing.” And okay, yes, that’s made up.

Sometimes I’ll throw in a hyphen just to mess with the minds of duteous grammarians. Sometimes I don’t even bother to do that. Can’t think of a good word for that problem spot? No prob. Presumptuously create a new one!

Mwah ha ha ha. It LIVES!

Further Frankenstein-ing, I force nouns into verbs without apology—nouning them for all they’re worth. Verbs become adjectives in the most verberific way. And worse. On any given writing day, there’s simply no telling what I might wordify.

In whatever way I may monstrously play with words, I do try to consistently remind myself of their power. It’s not so much about their origins or legitimacy, but it’s really so much more about the heart message I choose to communicate with them. Are they beneficial? Worthwhile? Encouraging? The Apostle Paul wrote often in the Bible about how we use our words. “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them,” (Ephesians 4:29, NLT).

That’s what I want. Whether I’m story-building in fiction or writing humor for a magazine or putting the finishing touches on the next Bible study, I really do want to keep my writing good and helpful. Encouraging and worthwhile. I want it to have heart. I want it to LIVE!

As writers, we know it’s true that the written word can take on a life of its own. Not necessarily in the Franken-vein, but life, for sure. I’m shooting for staying diligent enough, yet playful enough, for my words to hearten readers. Words with purpose. Even when I’m mercilessly worphing and monstering the English language.

Some will still call me a Dr. Frankenstein. Frankenworder, maybe. Me? I like to think of myself as:  The Vocabulator.

I’ll be back.

Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist, radio personality and author of 10 books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person, and her newest, Espresso Your Faith, releasing in January 2013. Her first work of fiction, Get a Grip, is also due to be released in 2013, co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea. Their second co-authored novel is scheduled to follow in 2014. Rhonda lives near St. Louis and is a pastor’s wife and mother of five children in their teens and twenties. You can find out more at

October 30, 2012

Hard Boiled or Soft Boiled?

By Laura DiSilverio

Since I’m a mystery writer, my friends frequently ask me to recommend “good” mysteries for them to read.  When I respond with, “What kind of mysteries do you like?” I sometimes get a blank stare.  I list some of the choices:  “Cozies, police procedurals, paranormal, amateur sleuth, historical, suspense, romantic suspense, hard-boiled PI, soft-boiled PI, legal, noir, or some combination of the above, like historical paranormal amateur sleuth?”  The blank look frequently turns to a deer-in-the-headlights expression and my friends start to edge away until I ask, “Do you like Evanovich or Grisham?  Christie or Scottoline?”

We’re Not Talking About Eggs
This fine-tuning of genre seems to be a recent thing with booksellers or marketers slicing and dicing a basic category like “mystery” or “romance” into such fine delineations that some “sub-genres” may only be two or three authors wide.  All of which got me thinking about a genre I particularly enjoy, soft-boiled PI novels.  What sets a soft-boiled novel apart from the other mystery sub-genres?   I identify four main criteria:
1.       The protagonist is usually a female private detective.* If she’s not a PI, she’s in another law enforcement- related field, but is not a cop (because then the book would probably be a police procedural).  Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott is a judge, for instance.   *The only soft-boiled series I can think of with a male protagonist is Spencer Quinn’s series narrated by a dog-named Chet.  I’m sure there are more and, hopefully, you avid readers will let me know what they are. 
2.       The tone of a soft-boiled book is relatively light and sometimes veers into slapstick as in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.
3.       The gore quotient is low, with little or no graphic sex or violence.  If you want pedophiles serial killers, or descriptions of erotic antics look for a hard-boiled or noir book.
4.       Unlike traditional/cozy mysteries that are frequently set in small towns/villages—think Cabot Cove or St. Mary Mead—soft-boiled PIs usually conduct their business in cities.  Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files adventures, for instance, take place in San Francisco.  (Maybe because there’s not much need of a PI in a town of 300?) 
Why Does It Matter?  
Knowing what genre you like is important because it can help you locate books you’re likely to enjoy.  If you punch “soft-boiled PI mystery” into a search engine, instead of relying on the broader “mysteries” or “private investigator series” you’re more likely to find books tailored to your tastes.  As an author, it helps you know what key words to use frequently on your website and what tags to attach to your books on such sites as Amazon.
If you’ve got some favorite soft-boiled series I haven’t mentioned above, please leave a comment and let me know about it! I love discovering new series.
As a TREAT to all who comment
today, Author Disilverio will chose a winner of her latest book, Swift Run
Leave a comment today for a chance to win an advance reader copy of Laura DiSilverio’s upcoming soft-boiled mystery, SWIFT RUN, the third in her Swift Investigations series.  Library Journal says “DiSilverio has a bit of Sue Grafton’s tone about her, with a dash of Janet Evanovich . . . Expect to laugh.”
She writes as
Laura DiSilverio
and as
    Ella Barrick
About Laura/Ella from her website,, "I wrote my first novel for a creative writing class at Trinity University. Professor Bob Flynn inspired me and heroically refrained from gagging when reading the contemporary romance I titled “Jeweled Torment.” That manuscript is buried in a box in the garage, along with the Regency romance I wrote shortly after joining the Air Force. I concentrated on becoming a good intelligence officer for many years before doing any more significant writing. I served with an F-16 wing in Korea, helped resolve reports of live-sightings of Vietnam prisoners of war while working out of the embassy in Bangkok, pushed paper at the Defense Intelligence Agency, earned my Master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, taught English for three years at the Air Force Academy, learned cool things about satellites (none of which I can ever write about) at the National Reconnaissance Office, attended various professional schools, did my time in the Pentagon, commanded a squadron in England, and ended up in Colorado. Along the way, I married my wonderful husband and produced two beautiful children who re-defined what is important in life. A moment of Holy Spirit-guided epiphany in Elliot’s Bay bookstore in Seattle convinced me it was time to embark on writing and mothering full time. I retired from the Air Force in late 2004."

October 29, 2012

Got Thirst?

By Harry Kraus

Jogging down a dusty road under the African equatorial sun, I started thinking about thirst, one of the most powerful of human urges. Once dehydration becomes pronounced, the brain sends out a constant message that takes priority over everything else: DRINK! Hmmm. Perhaps thirst can teach me something about making readers desire to turn pages. OK,maybe it was the heat, or my own dehydration, but I began to imagine my readers thirsting, and me holding out the promise of water.

Why should my readers thirst to turn pages? How can I intensify their thirst?

Turn up the heat. When I run in the middle of the day, the noonday
sun makes me sweat, increasing my dehydration and thus, my thirst.
When I write, I strive to
increase the stakes. Make the unfortunate and unexpected turn of
events matter. As you write, ask yourself “Why does this matter”? OK,
your protagonist lost his car keys, so what? Make it matter: His wife
is in labor and there is no other transportation.

Feed them salt. The messages sent out to prod us to drink are
dependent on the concentration of sodium in the blood. When we give
our readers salt, their thirst to turn pages will increase. How? Make
them care about your protagonist. While your main character needs to
be flawed, and may have some characteristics that are disagreeable, he
or she needs to have enough strength to be able to recognize and face
their own character flaws. This makes readers identify with them and
that emotional bond will help build empathy when you are turning up
the heat.

Hide the water. Nothing creates thirst more than a question or
mystery that goes unanswered. Hint that water is around the corner,
but when the reader gets there, have the jug be empty or the water be

Give wrong directions to the water. When writing a mystery, it is
important to make the outcome a surprise. It needs to make sense
(subtle clues along the way that the reader can look back on and
realize that the outcome is reasonable), but it needs to be an
unexpected outcome. This is done by planting misdirection along the

Delay the water source. If I’m thirsty by the time I get back to my 
home in Kijabe, Kenya and I find out that there is a problem with ourwater source (and therefore the tap in my kitchen is dry or my water
is brown!), my thirst is only accentuated. Find something that your reader wants to know (outcome of a conflict, the resolution of a problem etc) and delay the resolution. Or, if you solve one problem,
create two more in the process!

In the end, give them what they want! The resolution of theprotagonist’s conflict should be as refreshing and satisfying to yourreaders as a cold drink after a long run! I thought I’d never get here. I went the wrong way trying to find the stream! I couldn’t find the water. I shouldn’t have eaten those potato chips!

Make your readers thirsty. Then give them a cool reward. Then certainly they will come back asking for more.
Harry Kraus, M.D. is a board-certified surgeon, medical missionary to East Africa, and accomplished writer of both non-fiction and fiction. Medical realism and gripping plotlines distinguish his writing, as he gets most of his ideas with a scalpel in hand. His books include;  A Heartbeat Away, Perfect, and The Six-Liter Club. Dr. Kraus resides in Kenya with his wife Kris and the youngest of his three sons. His most recent book release is 
Domesticated Jesus.
His website
His blog (love the title)

October 25, 2012

Do I Have What It Takes?

By Cate Russell-Cole

"This is an urgent public health warning for all writers. Over the last decade, we have witnessed the alarming spread of a highly contagious disease, which corrodes motivation, word count, editing, effective marketing and creative quality of life. This condition is known as petwrification.

Petwrification / Petwrified (verb) pet-wri-fi-cation

A psychological condition-affecting writers characterized by sudden horror, cognitive paralysis or emotional outbursts. It occurs when:
(1) Finding a mistake in previously published work
(2) Discovering a phrase or point of grammar used wrongly for years
(3) Suddenly becoming immobilized on a punctuation issue
(4) Receiving negative feedback or poor reviews
(5) When writers have compared themselves to other writers, concluding that they are comparatively deficient.

(Derived from the common word petrify and the Latin Petra, meaning rock.)"
We've all been there, right? Point two in the definition knocked me out for a time last week. I was questioning my ability to coach writers and author books when I wasn't up to standard. I had to accept my mistake and press on! You don't miraculously know everything the instant you become a writer. I don't want to know about that though. I want to be perfect to feel safe.

The creative process is one of growth: you start by making many mistakes and being influenced by all kinds of sources, then you mature. With maturity comes better quality of work; the realization that not every piece of advice is right; accepting that there will always be negative responses; and that mistakes are essential. They are what help us to master the written word.

As we gain confidence in ourselves, we become less and less petwrified. That enables us to take on challenges we once would have rejected as too daunting. To gain the upper hand against petwrification, we need to develop a strong mental immune system. You can do this by practicing your craft, staying away from the terminally judgmental, studying and being open to correction.

We need to place value on our ideas and our achievements. I started small, writing for publications that didn't pay and were very kind in their editing. It gave me that first shove forward I needed to find my feet. Now I teach, author books and do as much as I can to support other writers. We will always have days when we wonder if we really know what we're doing. Self-doubt is a part of the human condition. Those doubts will not win. I am determined! I love writing and I'm here long-term. I will work as hard as I have to, in order to keep maturing as a writer. I want to prove I have what it takes to be a success.
Cate Russell-Cole, is an experienced creativity teacher and author. She has been published in many local and Internet e-zines, magazines and newspapers; and has researched, written and taught her own courses since 1990. Her most successful course to date is “Write Your Life Story,” which has a thriving community on Facebook. You can check out Cate's books on her web site at  Her blog for writers is hosted at  Posts on writing skills, events and other resources are published twice weekly.

October 24, 2012

METADATA-What is it? Why do Authors need it?

By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief

Some call it "data about data”. So what is Metadata? Information about a certain item's content.  It’s really just common sense. When people are searching for a book, they need information.  This information is data used to categorize your book. If someone is in a library or bookstore, this data is used to locate your book. In essence, it is for marketing purposes. I realize I am stating it in a simple way, but I believe people should not make things difficult. So here is the simple explanation.
For an author, metadata is:
·         Book’s genre
·         Description of book
·         Keywords (used to help buyers/readers find your book)
·         Author’s bio.
·         This data is how people find your book.
For those who would like more in-depth information about Metadata you can go to this link:  NISO is the National Information Standards Organization.
Obviously, Metadata is for other things besides books, but it is a definite need for authors. All of the key points above are vital for an author. Be sure your information is correct. If you aren’t sure of genres then find books similar to yours. How are theirs  listed? How did they describe theirs? Help people find you, whether it is in a library or a bookstore.

October 23, 2012

Giving Them Pause

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

A good story is a roller coaster ride.  It takes readers through a series of twists and turns, saving the biggest thrill for last.  And, gravity being what it is, what goes up must come down.  It's not one continuous fast drop.  Indeed, the slow, steep inclines of anticipation can provide some of the biggest excitement.

Those ups and downs give a story its rhythm, much like breathing.  The action builds, then it lets up a bit, then builds again.  A story that builds and builds and never gives the reader a chance to catch their breath can be exhausting.  If the heart-pounding opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark had  lasted for two hours without a break, brains would have melted.

An actual example of this (well, not the brain-melting part) is 2005's King Kong with Jack Black.  Fun movie with interesting variations on an old theme, but once they get to the jungle it's a nonstop series of action sequences.  The long prehistoric battles are exciting at first, but about the third or fourth one in, they lose their impact and even become tiresome because there isn't a quiet moment inbetween to remind us how amazing these scenes are.

We know that each scene in our story must further the plot, but we can accomplish this in a variety of ways besides continuous motion.  Sometimes the scene will be less about action and more about reaction; the result of what big thing just took place.  The bigger the thing, the more the audience will appreciate an opportunity to consider its implications.  Give them time to sort out the possibilities for themselves and you have a captive, involved audience.

After a scene with a car crash, the quietude of the patient lying in a hospital bed isn't just a natural aftermath, but a welcome opportunity to take a cleansing breath and ponder what the new developments will mean. 

Sometimes the pause itself provides the drama.  In the recent charmer Hope Springs with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, a particularly important scene is followed by the lengthy closeup shot of a door, which, at that point, seems to last for an eternity.  As we look at the door we are filled with questions: 1) which door is this? 2) which of the two people will walk through it? 3) are they coming or going? 4) will the door even open? and 5) what are the ramifications of each of these scenarios?  It really is a brilliant and powerful silent story beat in its own right.

As a classic soft drink campaign once reminded us, it's the pause that refreshes.  Give your reader a chance to catch their breath before and after your roller coaster's big loops, and they'll stand in line to ride again.

October 22, 2012

Writers as Reviewers?

By Michelle Sutton

Should you write reviews once you are published?
I was a book reviewer long before I had my first published novel. A number of my friends also reviewed books but stopped once they were published to focus on their own writing. I get that, but here is what I know… writers help other writers spread the word about their books through well-written reviews. So I never stopped writing them. I came up with my own formula for writing reviews and part of that includes not commenting on the author of the book or reflecting my personal feelings for them as writers.
When I finish a great book, the first thing I want to do is sit at the keyboard and type. It's kind of like writing when it comes to getting thoughts, feelings, and reactions down on the page. How did the story make me feel? Was the author skilled at placing me in a different setting in my mind? Did they evoke emotion through their use of certain words? Did the story and plot hold my interest? What was so amazing about this book? And of course, being a Christian, I'm always thinking about how a story strengthened my faith or made me think more about my life and my relationship with God.
An effective and well-written review reflects the reader's enthusiasm for the novel. It also makes the person reading the review want to order the book. The goal of every writer should be to read a variety of novels to keep the mind and creativity active. It should also be to spread the word about good stories. It's always better if you're not talking about your own books. I've found that the majority of authors are thrilled someone bothered to read their novel, especially those who have a harder time getting publicity for their books. Once in a while, I've gotten a disgruntled author who couldn't believe I didn't totally adore their book, but I can't love everything. Sometimes I just don't like a story. Those books I tend not to finish. But I will not lie to the people reading my reviews. If I didn't love a book, I don't say I did. People reading reviews want honesty.
Has it helped me as an author to take the time to write decent reviews? Yes. It makes me think about what a good story structure and a great plot look like. I see it over in over in books that I love. And I've learned to avoid authors whose writing simply doesn't appeal to me. I find this preferable to trying to get into a new story by the same author.
Has it increased the sales for my own novels? Who knows?. But it does get my name out there and people see the reviews and endorsements I have written, thus bringing my name to a level where it is recognized, and that is never a bad thing for an author.
Michelle Sutton is the author of well over a dozen Christian novels, a book reviewer, an avid blogger, a social work supervisor, the mother of two young college students, a devoted wife, and a follower of Jesus Christ.

October 18, 2012

It Doesn't Just Happen

By  Amy McCorkle

Let me first say the moment you open that acceptance letter, whether it’s by email or snail mail is overwhelming. I was thirty-five when my first book was accepted. I cried. I had been writing since I was five and trying for publication since I was eighteen. It is a moment to rejoice, to celebrate. You’ve come a long way, but you should know, it’s a whole new publishing world out there and my journey is simply my experience and I hope this will be of some help.

In May 2010, I wrote Another Way to Die. In November, my best friend’s father went into the hospital for a liver transplant. As he struggled to recover, I realized my book was sitting on my hard drive going nowhere. Feeling my own mortality as he deteriorated I knew my career wasn’t just ‘going to happen’. So as my own clock started ticking I submitted my manuscript and got notes to revise and resubmit. I decided I had to do it and rewrote the whole thing. If I can offer any one piece of advice, it is this, start building your platform early. What is a platform? In your career as a writer, your platform is you. At a free online conference given by Savvy Authors called Digicon, publishers were invited and I pitched Another Way to Die to every one of them. They all accepted. I chose to go with MuseItUp Publishing, an epublisher. I learned what you needed for a platform. Basics, Facebook, Twitter, Official Author Site, and a blog.

Turns out Muse prides itself on cultivating and nurturing new talent. Muse offers Yahoo groups to join, and has a database of other sites valuable to writers. But Muse is an epublisher and you want a New York deal. I can only give you the benefit of my experience. I have three books out at Muse and each one has sold progressively more than the last. How come? Well one is readership, but I gained that readership by blogging, tweeting, and facebooking and updating my website from time to time. Yes, that dreaded P word. . So how do you promote an ebook?

Because I write dystopian/scifi and dark romantic suspense I go to Cons, they’re relatively cheap and you can usually get in free if you sit on panels. But if you have ebooks and I have four out now (I’m also with the small press Promotion  online is your market. And when I say promote I don’t just mean tweeting your book incessantly. You have to build relationships with your following on Twitter and FB.

Does a career in epublishing really work? Well I’ve done everything above; I have 12 contracts, two writing awards, and several blogging awards. Am I rich? Only time will tell. One thing I know for certain it doesn’t ‘just happen’, you have to make it happen.

Amy McCorkle is an award winning author from Kentucky. Her newest book, Bounty Hunter releases this month. She is a 2012 Moondance International Film Festival,Semi-Finalist for her short story.

October 17, 2012

National Day on Writing-What I Write

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communication Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Friday, will you, as a writer, participate in the activities surrounding National Day on Writing 2012? A U.S. Senate resolution states the evolution of writers in the 21st century.

"On October 19, tweet out your compositions of all sorts and post them to Twitter using the hashtag #WhatIWrite and, if space allows, #dayonwriting. Our goals are to share writings publicly while we get #WhatIWrite as a trending topic on Twitter this year just as #WhyIWrite was a trending topic last year.

US Senate Resolution 565 declares October 20, 2012, as the National Day on Writing, but do Tweet #WhatIWrite on October 19 and then celebrate the Day when it's convenient for you."

"Expressing support for the designation of October 20, 2012, as the `National Day on Writing'.

Whereas people in the 21st century are writing more than ever before for personal, professional, and civic purposes;

Whereas the social nature of writing invites people of every age, profession, and walk of life to create meaning through composing;

Whereas more and more people in every occupation deem writing as essential and influential in their work;

Whereas writers continue to learn how to write for different purposes, audiences, and occasions throughout their lifetimes;

Whereas developing digital technologies expand the possibilities for composing in multiple media at a faster pace than ever before;

Whereas young people are leading the way in developing new forms of composing by using different forms of digital media;

Whereas effective communication contributes to building a global economy and a global community;

Whereas the National Council of Teachers of English, in conjunction with its many national and local partners, honors and celebrates the importance of writing through the National Day on Writing;

Whereas the National Day on Writing celebrates the foundational place of writing in the personal, professional, and civic lives of the people of the United States;

Whereas the National Day on Writing provides an opportunity for individuals across the United States to share and exhibit their written works through the National Gallery of Writing;

Whereas the National Day on Writing highlights the importance of writing instruction and practice at every educational level and in every subject area;

Whereas the National Day on Writing emphasizes the lifelong process of learning to write and compose for different audiences, purposes, and occasions;

Whereas the National Day on Writing honors the use of the full range of media for composing, from traditional tools like print, audio, and video, to Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, and podcasts; and

Whereas the National Day on Writing encourages all people of the United States to write, as well as to enjoy and learn from the writing of others: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) supports the designation of October 20, 2012, as the `National Day on Writing';
(2) strongly affirms the purposes of the National Day on Writing;
(3) encourages participation in the National Galley of Writing, which serves as an exemplary living archive of the centrality of writing in the lives of the people of the United States; and
(4) encourages educational institutions, businesses, community and civic associations, and other organizations to promote awareness of the National Day on Writing and celebrate the writing of the members those organizations through individual submissions to the National Gallery of Writing."

I'll be tweeting tomorrow, will you tweet using the hashtag #WhatIWrite ? I plan to celebrate National Day on Writing 2012 by writing for 20 minutes and 12 seconds without interruptions. Join me?

Source: and 

October 16, 2012

Because It's There

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

Over 5,000 people have attempted to scale it, and only 1/8 of them have succeeded. Mountain climbers who like a good challenge consider Mt. Everestthe pinnacle of the earththe ultimate goal.

Achieving our writing goals is like scaling a mountain. A strong determination, the proper tools, and a capability for the craft are essential to begin the climb.  There'll be obstacles on the way up, and moments when you think you just can't do it.  But those who make it to the top of Everest don't let difficulties keep them down.  They envision the pinnacle of the mountain and focus on how magnificent the view will be from 5 1/2 miles above sea level.

What is your writing goal?  If you're just starting out, maybe you simply want to write a book and get it published.  If you're already a published author, maybe your goal is to have a New York Times Bestseller.  If you've already had several bestsellers, maybe you just long for a week off without having to write anything.

I had an interesting conversation with an author this week, one who's been published regularly for years and has enjoyed success by any writer's standard. Even so, they harbor a certain reluctance to claim their success; to own it.  Whether it's humility, disbelief, or a fear of jinxing a good thing, it is hard to say "I've arrived" when you still have mountains to climb.

Indeed, this is a sentiment echoed by most of the authors we speak with.  Even though they became "professionals" when they sold their first article or book, the real goal in their hearts is an ambiguous, uncharted one that they won't even realize they've reached until they get there. And when they do, they'll still keep going.

A true writer writes because they love what they do. They make loyal friends along the way, supporting and mentoring other writers freely.  When they achieve "success," that's not a stopping point.  They thank their lucky starsand their museand keep reaching higher, just from the sheer love of writing.  They do it for the art, not for the accolades. 

When George Mallory set out to be the first to climb Mt. Everest, he was asked why. His famous answer, "Because it's there," is the same reason many of us write. It's just something we must do. It requires no explanation, nor a measurable achievement to make it a valid pursuit.  It's a challenge; an adventure; a gauntlet we have no choice but to pick up.

May you always find joy in your journey.

October 15, 2012

Duplicates or Originals

By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief

 I read an article about guest posting and writing content and submitting it to different sites on the internet. They were talking about submitting the same thing to different sites. In the course of their writing, I found myself having to reread the first portion. It sounded like they were advocating you write something and use it to send to a variety of sites to post.

There are times you can send the same content to post on numerous places, but you need to recognize when and where that is. The deciding factor for that decision should be based on why you're writing.
What outcome do you want from this exposure?
·         Showing ability and skill of writing
·         Showing writing style
·         Building a following of readers
·         Building  name as a writer

In looking over the different outlets let’s determine if our content should be Original or Duplicate:
·         Guest Blog PostOriginal
·         Social MediaDuplicate
·         MagazinesOriginal (check guidelines-some reprint content already published)

Always think twice about posting a duplicate. You are a writer; words are your product. If you made widgets, you wouldn’t send a used widget to a new customer to get their business. You would send a new widget. Fresh content is always better.
Happy writing.

October 11, 2012

Steampunk Storytelling

By Jenny Schwartz

I write Steampunk stories. For those unfamiliar with the term Steampunk, think of the movie, "Wild, Wild West". This is history re-imagined and with a technological twist. If you’re really curious about Steampunk, M. Gabriel Colbaugh has written a great series of introductory posts over at Doctor Fantastique’s Show of Wonders .

The interesting thing about Steampunk is that it’s a community, not just a genre. People with a passion for history or making thing or political change, all find a place in Steampunk. There’s a lot of diversity—and that’s a good thing.
Which brings me back to the point of this post: Storytelling.
Being part of a diverse community with very different interests and ambitions has shown me a truth about storytelling that I’d forgotten in my obsession with writing more and better stories.

Storytelling is a fundamental element of being human. It’s how we understand the world and make a place for ourselves in it. Steampunk has a lot of costumes (not just goggles and corsets!) because it involves role playing. People go to Steampunk events in character, and their characters are stories. Mad professors, intrepid adventurers, street urchins. Stories can be told by the clothes we wear.

Music tells stories. So do comics, paintings and graffiti. The food we serve people, the way we decorate our homes and the websites we create all tell stories.

We are the audience for other people’s stories, and that is a liberating, creative and connecting thing to be. We see the world with new eyes. The world is full of possibilities.

So as much as we love writing, remember to choose the method of telling a story that best suits it. If that’s interpretive dance—well, so be it. You’ll return to your writing with new energy, and life will be a bit more interesting because you danced.

Jenny Schwartz is an Australian Steampunk author.The second book in Bustlepunk Chronicles #2, Courting Trouble released this month. I really like to balance my steampunk writing with contemporary stories, so I’m working on some projects right now with fingers crossed that as they’re submitted, editors love them. My blog is at .


October 10, 2012

World of Words

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

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could ‘twitch’ our nose like Samantha Stephens in Bewitched? Just think, we could spend days upon days writing while we put everything in suspension or just twitch and house chores would be done, family taken care of, all the meals cooked–nothing to do but write.
I don’t know about you but when I start writing I soon find myself in the story, it’s as if I am watching a movie as it unfolds. I see everything and everyone in the story. Hours go by while immersed in whatever world I have created and enjoying the company of characters who have taken on lives of their own. I do not want to leave until I see the ending. Alas, I can’t twitch my nose, and dinner has to be cooked, clothes washed, carpet vacuumed and everything dusted.
Since we have to write in the real world (without the twitch), we have to carve out time for ourselves to write each day in order to eventually finish a book.
I am often amazed when someone finds out that I write and they say, “Oh, do you also work outside the home, you know, have a real job?” My first instinct– is to ask ‘are you stupid’, however I don’t.  I know they have no idea how much work goes into writing. My second instinct is to throw the person in a chair and put them through the third degree with hot lights shining in the face. Asking questions like have you ever been inside a library? How do you think those words got into all those books? Especially if I just finished having to rewrite several pages of edits.
The non-writer has no idea what goes into writing books. The hours spent researching, editing, developing the story, plot, creating characters, scenes, etc. It occurred to me writers may be unique in that we can sit for hours using words to create stories that are published for others to read and enjoy.
Maybe next time someone makes that off handed remark I will look at them and smile knowing I am in that group that creates new worlds out of words.

October 9, 2012

Seven Secrets to Selling to a Stranger at a Book Event

by Julie Breedlove, Marketing Manager at BQB Publishing

I had the pleasure of working with several BQB authors at our booth during the Decatur Book Festival last month. Since BQB publishes numerous first-time authors, not many people were coming up to our table because they didn’t know who the authors were or they haven’t read their previous works. I quickly realized that while I was in the presence of great writers, their skills with words did not always correspond with their experience with sales. 

Thinking it through, this makes sense. Authors communicate in writing. Verbal communication, especially related to self-promotion, might not easily be their strong suit in the beginning. That’s where I come in. There were plenty of people at the festival, so it was a great chance for me to offer tips and watch as the authors learned how to interact with strangers and sell their books.

 I’ll let you in on some of the tips:

1) Stand, don’t sit. Think of your event as a social affair, not a book signing where you just remain behind the table with a sharpie in your hand. 

2) Don’t be shy or expect people to come to you. The ball is in your court to make eye contact and initiate the conversation. If you’re not a natural extrovert, bring someone with you to your signing who can help increase the energy and start conversations.

3) Use an icebreaker like a bowl of candy or a bookmark to begin the interaction. 

 4) Be prepared with a friendly question or conversation-starter. The goal should be to talk, not to sell. Begin with a simple question that is somehow relevant to your book. For a cookbook/healthy lifestyle program like Wellness 100, for example, the authors tried something simple like “What’s for dinner?” Even if people don’t buy the book instantly, that conversation stemming from a simple question might stick with them. Often, people will download an eBook or purchase the book online at a later time.
5) If the book isn’t appropriate for the passerby, ask if they have friends, kids, or family that might like a signed copy and remind them that signed books make thoughtful gifts. 

6) Use a discount or offer them a special price. People like to feel like they’re getting a good deal. 

7) Keep a positive attitude no matter what. Not everyone is nice and you’re bound to be blown off at one point or another. Don’t attach yourself to those reactions. Keep your chin and your energy up.

Signing events vary by the venue, attendance, and day, but these simple steps can help make your interactions more valuable and your time worthwhile. At BQB Publishing, we offer training to our authors on ways to make book events successful. I often find that authors gain comfort knowing these basic tips ahead of time and sell more books because they’re relaxed and enjoying their time meeting new people. Happy selling and signing!

Julie Breedlove is the Marketing Manager at Boutique of Quality Books (BQB) Publishing Company. With this independent hybrid publisher, Julie boosts book publicity, coaches authors, and guides marketing plans 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’s publishing process and marketing support, visit

October 8, 2012

Where Are They Headed?

BDoyne Phillips, Managing Editor of Southern Writers Magazine

 Take a close look at this threesome. Who are they? Are they Western Movie Stars, Western Crooners, Texas Quick Step band or just a group of Drugstore Cowboys? They could be a threesome that stopped in at one of those photo booths that dress you up in historical costumes. We have all made a souvenir photo to take home as a memory of our trip. 

Now take a look at this second picture. Where do your thoughts take you? Could this be a Smoky Mountain family reunion or a group shot of some Woodstock stragglers. Possibly this is a group shot of the student body officers in a sixty’s era college or simply a before picture of a group of barber college students.    

With your imagination you can take them, or anyone you may see in an old photo, anywhere you want. I have taken old family photos and dreamed of where my grandparents were and how they may have lived. I would then ask myself how they might be living today in our present culture. Take those in the photo and just imagine where they are headed and begin their journey. Write them into an amazing story.  

When working on their journey there are no limits to where you can go. As an example these photos are actually earlier pictures of two very famous groups. The first is ZZ Top and the second are the founding employees of Microsoft. You may have recognized Bill Gates in the lower left hand corner. Did your imagination go that far? 

Take another look at the more recent photos and take them even further. Tell me, where are they headed now?