December 31, 2012

Getting the Details Right – Research

By Susie Schecter

My manuscript took over seven years to write partly because I did so much research. Research is where I obtained the original idea for my book and I continued to do research as I was writing the manuscript until it was finally published. My inspiration for this story was a remarkable spark from real life, not an autobiography or a memoir.

I spent hours at my local library and hours on the Internet to deepen the historical framework of the story. Early on, as far back as 2001, I felt a certain amount of responsibility to stay true to the facts, and true to my two main characters - John MacDonald and Elsie Wilkins. Mostly, because these two people did exist in the first half of the 20th century. By making research a top priority, I uncovered some interesting facts and details that helped me understand my characters in a whole new way. I weaved the story out of factual material because I was trying to capture the essence of a 1930s love story. I was determined to breathe life into these two people and I wanted tell the truth of my own past life hypnosis experience. In addition, integrating facts, events, details and other research findings into my work helped me to advance the plot. Sometimes I did have to take creative license and fill in the blanks of John and Elsie’s lives, but I never invented historical situations that were inaccurate.

My book, Lifetimes Ago: A Love Story Inspired from past life memories  was sort of a nonfiction fiction novel. The preface, afterword, documents and “behind the story” sections are nonfiction. I believe all my extensive research made the characters and the story more vivid. I tried to create a progression of events and incidents that were arranged cohesively to create a storyline that compelled the reader to feel the emotion and feel as though they were right there in the story.

Historical fiction - more than any other genre has to succeed and capture the reader on many levels. First by transporting the reader completely to another time and place through convincing and compelling historical details. Secondly, by creating characters that are complex yet appear genuine. Thirdly, to lead a reader through a tapestry of reliable facts, settings, details and events and lastly something that is true for any genre - to build a narrative that works well as a good story including the basics of a strong beginning, interesting middle and unpredictable end.

Time is a valuable resource to writers: time to work, time to write, time for a personal life, time to do research. And research seems the least important; after all, you could have someone else look up information for you. But I feel research is some of the most important aspects for creating persuasive work. The right kind of research can set your writing apart from all the rest by immersing it with accurate context, lifelike dialogue, interesting facts and memorable characters.

As I wrote, I constantly asked myself… what does the reader need at this moment of the story? What do I want the experience and result of the writing to be? What do they want? What do they feel? Then gave it to them…only hopefully better.
Susie Schecter earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from California State University Dominguez Hills in Communications and a Certificate of Hypnotherapy from the American Board of Hypnotherapy. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and in public relations.
Susie resides with her boyfriend, Mike,and their two dogs in a planned community in Orange County, California. Mike and Susie have been together for nine years. 
Web site:

December 28, 2012

Juggling the Craft of Writing

By Victoria Hamilton

Okay, so I can’t really juggle. Just the thought of keeping three eggs (or flaming torches, or razor sharp swords) up in the air at one-time makes me break out in hives. Most of us use the word juggle colloquially, though, like we have to juggle too many things at once, and that leads me to my point: once upon a time, writers were expected to write. Period.

Oh, a big name writer might have to do a book tour, if they were in demand, but essentially writers wrote. Then came computers; no more carbon copies and correction fluid. The internet was invented; no more trudging to the library to find obscure information in books that the cruel librarian only allowed you to take to a nearby table to peruse. Awesome! Made life simpler for the writer, correct?

Ah, but it was a double-edged sword. Most of us never foresaw what would come after a torrent of social media, and with it the demands on a writer so far beyond writing that it was unthinkable just ten years ago.

I was exaggerating (of course) when I said writers, in the dark ages before the internet, were only expected to write. They always had to edit and proof, usually more than one version of their opus. Before computers and the internet evolved into a reliable means of electronic editing and emailing of manuscripts, it often involved expensive couriers or untrustworthy faxing, finding some place with a photocopy machine, and/or trips to the post office.

Nowadays, I edit an electronic version of my manuscript, using a word program that allows a back and forth exchange between the editor and myself that is simply fabulous! I wouldn’t go back to what used to be a long, drawn out process.

But… the internet age has brought with it so much demand for social media connectivity that it is a rare author who doesn’t have a Facebook Author page, a Twitter account, a blog, Pinterest account, and… well, it’s distracting, to say the least. Is a blog necessary? How much interacting with readers should we do? These are questions we howl at our agents, and get the answer, ‘whatever you’re comfortable with’, which is almost as good as no answer at all.

Some readers want to know all about you, some would prefer not to know anything.  I understand how readers feel a sense of kinship with an author who writes the books they enjoy. Cozy authors in particular are a lovely crew, personable, warm and friendly. Heck, I like most of them myself.

That agent advice that authors should do whatever social media they’re comfortable with is really the only answer. I’m currently juggling three cozy mystery series, two as Victoria Hamilton (Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and Merry’s Muffin Mysteries), as well as a new one as Amanda Cooper, the Teapot Collector Mystery series. It requires a gymnast’s mental flexibility to bounce among them, and when added to the social media one commits to, the workload can seem staggering.

But it’s so much fun! Just when you think you’ll go mad if you write another word, you get a lovely note on Facebook or a comment on your blog, or see something hilarious on Twitter, and you are refreshed. All in all, there are worse problems you could have, as a writer, than being too busy. Like not being published. I’m grateful for all my Facebook and other social media friends, and send a big hello to my fellow jugglers in the publishing business!
Victoria Hamilton writes three cozy mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. A Deadly Grind, first in the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, was released to great reviews in May, and Bowled Over, the second in the series, debuts March 5, 2013. She also writes as Amanda Cooper.Check out Victoria Hamilton online:Victoria Hamilton Mysteries -

Blog: Twitter: @MysteryVictoria

December 27, 2012

Reflect, Rekindle and Relight

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Reflection gives writers a chance to be happy about endeavors of years past, while moving daily closer towards the dawn of a brand new year. This is the perfect time to prep your mind for your writing goals in the new year. What are your goals? Maybe 2013 will be the year you try writing in a new genre. 
A favorite treat of the holiday season, for me is checking out my neighborhood coffee shop for their seasonal theme. They are always upbeat and envelope you in the glow of the season. This year's theme is "rekindle". While sipping a steamed holiday latte, it occurs to me, rekindle aptly applies to writers both near and far. Do you remember why you began writing?

Consider a relight for your writing career. Send in that guest post to Suite T. Update all your social media links. Create a website and or blog. Participate in all the free opportunities for subscribers of Southern Writers Magazine. Do a reading from your book for "Take Five". Develop a book trailer for "Must Read TV". Participate in "Mic Night" and "Southern Writer's Radio Show". 

As 2012 washes away to past tense. let 2013 be your year to reflect, rekindle and relight your writing career. This will be your year to shine.

December 26, 2012

The New Blog Bookstore

We thank all of you who have guest posted on Southern Writer's Magazine's author's blog, 'Suite T' for 2012.

To honor our authors we have created our Blog's Bookstore for all the authors who guest post. You will see the tab at the top of the page.  If you have guest posted on our blog and your name is not on the list please email and send us your name and name of your book so we may add it to our Blog Bookstore. Be sure and post the blog bookstore link on your blog and/or website showing your family, friends and readers another place that is promoting your books for sale.

Suite T wants to do all we can to help promote our authors. We appreciate the hard work you do to create books for others to enjoy.

Also, if you are not on our Blog List and would like to be, please email us at  As authors know, the more places you put your name the more coverage you get for your books. If you are on our Blog List, be sure and mention it on your website and or blog.

Through the end of December, we have opened up Take Five as a Christmas Present to our authors to use for free to promote their books. Take Five is a great place to bring attention to your book, people can hear you read excerpts which will let them hear your writing style and voice as well as how interesting your book is. A great way to get readers to want to buy your books.

Just go to our website and click on the Take Five button. The guidelines are there. It's a great way to promote your book. Be sure and put the information on your website and/or blog to let people know to come and hear you read from your book.

We hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and are getting ready to welcome the New Year in.

Southern Writers wants to wish all of you a successful and happy New Year.

Never Under Estimate the Power of Inspiration

By J.S. Wilsoncroft

At one point in our lives, we’ve all been inspired to do something. Whether it’s learning how to crochet a blanket, paint a picture or write a book. Children are likely inspired by a parent, a loved one, or even a schoolteacher. Adults–it could be something as simple as a cloud in the sky, a child’s laughter or old photograph. All these things can inspire a person to do something they never thought they would do. 

Stephen King, one of the greatest horror masters of our time, was inspired to write horror stories after he found a stack of science fiction novels and horror magazines in his Aunt’s house. Stephanie Meyer was inspired to write Twilight after a dream she once had.

I once asked a good friend of mine, Simone Frances Reed what inspired her to write her book, Poetry in Motions. Her innocent response was she loved to read and had kept a journal as a young child, jotting down every thought and idea she had. She used those childhood thoughts and produced a book about poems that came from her heart.

Inspirations can also come at the most inopportune time.
It can wake us from a dead sleep, taking a shower or grooming dogs. I have gotten many of my story ideas while grooming dogs. Go figure!

I’ve been grooming dogs for seventeen years; it has become second nature to me. I could do it with my eyes closed but I wouldn’t. I don’t think my customers would appreciate picking up their dog, minus an ear.

About seven years ago, I started writing romance stories. Because grooming comes natural to me, my mind wanders and I think of these romantic ideas. It’s called daydreaming while clipping Fido.

Once, grooming shih-tzu, a story popped into my head. I tried to push it away because I had three other stories I was working. At dinnertime, while in the middle of making spaghetti the story came back, stronger than ever. My head was going to pop if I didn’t do something. So I turned off the stove, sat down at my laptop, and started typing. My husband came over to me and saw I was no longer cooking dinner and asked, “What are you doing?”

Not taking my eyes off the screen, I waved my hand and shushed my husband to leave me alone as I continued to type. We may have eaten burnt spaghetti that night, but my romance story Remembering Zane was born.

Today I have three romance stories available in eBook and paperback on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. They are Remembering Zane, FatChances and The Unfaithful Widow. My fourth book, My Haunting Love is due out in December and a series called Roller Coaster Love will be out next summer.

J.S. Wilsoncroft lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two children and three dogs. As a young child, she loved animals, especially dogs. It wasn’t until she was in her early twenties that she found her true calling…grooming. She was thirty-three when she decided to sit down and write a romance story. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever think she would publish a book, let alone three. So as long as grooming dogs continues to inspire her, she will continue to keep writing romance stories.

“I think it’s safe to say, that I will never quit my day job.” ~ J.S. Wilsoncroft  Her website Her blog

December 25, 2012

‘Tis The Season of Creative Tension

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

“Tis the season, we find, of tension. There is the tension of decorating, gift giving and family gatherings.There are office parties and charity events. And don’t forget pageantry and parades. We tend to fill each and every moment with seasonal events that demand our attention while continuing our day to day lives of work, school, family and hobbies.

The truth is we wouldn’t have it any other way. In a few weeks we will remember what a wonderful holiday it was and at this time next year we will be doing it all again. Again we will feel the tension. Why do we repeat the cycle or even seem to thrive on it?

This time of year we find ourselves torn between our visions of the perfect holiday we are trying to create and the one we are experiencing which is known as creative tension. Don’t confuse this with stress. Earl Nightingale, a pioneer in the personal development industry, referred to it as “constructive discontent.” Most creative people, like writers, have this. They know there is more inside and they want to get it out.  How is creative tension resolved?

There are three ways to address creative tension. 
Give up! Yes, just let go of your vision completely. You may want to allow reality to take over and take charge of your actions.

Compromise! Adjust your vision to what seems possible.

Create! Reach for your vision. Change reality. Realize your Goal!
All are options but only the last one will produce positive lasting results. The key to success is not only having a vision but maintaining creative tension as well. 

As Earl Nightingale stated “constructive discontent” is a pragmatic view of where you are versus where you want to be. It is a vital part of the creative process.

“Reach for your Vision, Change Reality and Realize your Goal!”

Create and enjoy the Season! We at Southern Writers Magazine wish you all a Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2012

Even Santa Has His Writing Critics

By Jonathan Lane

We all want our work to be read and adored, and we authors love to read positive, gushing reviews.  But sometimes, unexpected criticism can be the best thing to ever happen to an author.  Such was the case early on with us when we co-wrote our new book, Being Santa Claus – What I Learned about theTrue Meaning of Christmas, published by Gotham Books.

Sal Lizard has countless precious stories from his two decades playing Santa Claus, stories which span the emotional expanse from heartwarming and inspirational to whimsical and funny, and even some tear-jerkers.  And Santa Sal tells his stories incredibly well.

The book seemed easy enough to write.  Sal would recollect his amazing adventures while his friend Jonathan would record the stories and transcribe what Sal said.  What could be easier?

With three or four chapters done, Jonathan sent what we had completed thus far to his mother, a teacher of reading and English for forty-five years, to review and edit.  Jonathan figured that she would gush over everything…because moms do that sort of thing.

And so it came as a bit of a shock when Jonathan’s mother said she wasn’t crazy about what she read.  But she didn’t just throw a wet blanket on us and leave.  She gave us some very constructive criticism.  She said, “I don’t feel as though I’m getting to know who Sal is through the stories.  It seems as though things just happen to him, and I don’t get a sense of why he says what he says or does what he does or how he feels about anything.”

Despite our disappointment at the less-than-enthusiastic review, it was just the feedback we needed.  We quickly realized what we’d done wrong.  Sal’s stories are wonderful when told by him across a dinner table, but a book is a whole different experience.  Jonathan had mainly been transcribing the casual conversation-style stories Sal told, often verbatim.  But with a mother’s valuable insight, we went back to square one.

Jonathan re-interviewed Sal about everything they’d already written, and this time the stories were interrupted frequently with probative questions for clarifications, details, thoughts, feelings, descriptions of people, places, things, and however much Sal could recall of his conversations with people.  And it’s pretty amazing how much Sal actually does remember, even two decades later!

Going back and forth with Sal, Jonathan now took a much more active role in transitioning the now detail-rich oral stories to the written word.  People and settings were described, and adding in Sal’s thoughts and feelings helped develop the chapters into emotionally satisfying and often dramatic glimpses into the world of a professional Santa Claus and the many lives he’s touched.

Jonathan’s mother read the revised chapters and loved them.  She now felt very in touch with Sal as a real feeling person, and during the two years Jonathan and Sal worked on the manuscript, she couldn’t wait to get an e-mail with the next chapter attached.  Even Jonathan’s father, a man who doesn’t typically show emotion, admitted to crying while reading one of the chapters later in the book.

What emerged from the final manuscript has met with wide-ranging praise.  One of the reviewers on Amazon said: “From the minute I picked up this book, I couldn't put it down. It touched my spirit. Each short vignette leads straight to the next. Some had me laughing, some had me in tears. I was there with Santa Claus feeling everything he felt.”

…and all of that because of one piece of unexpected criticism.
Sal Lizard and Jonathan Lane are the co-authors of Being Santa Claus – What I Learned about theTrue Meaning of Christmas, published by Gotham Books.  

Sal Lizard lives in Georgia with his wife Linda and has been playing Santa Claus across the country for over 20 years.  He has two grown daughters.  

Jonathan Lane lives in southern California with his wife and 2-year-old son.  This is the first published both for both of them. 

On the  

December 21, 2012

Healing Ways through Writing

By Debi Andrews Golebiewski

Having an actual book in print always seemed like a dream that would never be fulfilled until Healing Ways Healthy Eating became a reality. Healing Ways was published in October 2012 and became available on November 17, 2012.

After six different diagnoses of cancer from 1978 to 2012, I knew I had a story to tell but just sharing life's journey wasn't enough. I wanted to be able to be an inspiration to others. I wanted other people to benefit from my experiences.

Cancer along with any other dreadful disease we’re faced with today can be devastating to someone who does not have faith and a will to survive. That in itself, is the reason I knew I needed to share my story.

At 21, I was pregnant, carrying a tumor that weighed as much as my baby did. The doctor wanted to take my baby so I could survive. I refused, but I am still alive today, at 55 years old. God had a plan in my life and now I believe it was to share my past with others and to do so in a way that other people could benefit. I have suffered through sinus, throat, breast and stomach cancer as well as my tumor in my female organs. But, life has been a blessing to me.

If you have a story to tell and a dream to fulfill as I do, writing is a pleasure that no one else can take from you. My first book, Healing Ways Healthy Eating, is a cookbook that is designed for preparation with natural ingredients.

In August 2012, I opened my business, Healing Ways, which is a small organics and natural Health Shoppe located in Saltillo, MS. It is a small, quaint and personal little shop designed so that I can work hand in hand with my clients to guide them toward a new healthier lifestyle.

My dream as a writer is being fulfilled as well as being able to help other people to work toward healthy living. I am presently busy writing my next book, non-fiction, entitled "You Say I Have What?"

In this book, I go in-depth, explaining Natural Health, supplements and the use of your own mind toward positive thinking. It is true that your own body can heal itself. You just have the task of keeping it healthy enough to do so.

If you have a dream in your heart as I do, choose to share it with others. Living in the South, you have wide-open spaces within which to dream and be creative.

Debi Andrews Golebiewski is a Southern Writer from Saltillo, MS. She spent her childhood years in Memphis, TN where she attended Kingsbury High School and The University of Memphis. After moving to Mississippi, Debi continued her education at Ole Miss and Itawamba Community College. Debi is married to her soul mate, Mike Golebiewski and they share three sons, James, Paden and Logan.

December 20, 2012

It Only Comes Once A Year

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

This time of year brings about the hurrying of authors to finish deadlines with manuscripts so there will be time to rush off and finish the Christmas Shopping for presents and food not to mention that last minute decoration needed.
One of the things we sometimes forget is to take a little extra time for ourselves to enjoy this time of year before all the families arrive, before the cooking starts, and presents have to be wrapped.
This is a special time of the year for writers. It’s a time to take a deep breath, pat ourselves on the back for meeting our deadlines, breaking through the writer’s blocks creating plots, characters, scenes, and weaving the story lines together.  Sometimes we fail to give ourselves credit for what we accomplish.
Perhaps this December we can appreciate what we’ve done, where we’ve come from and look forward to where we are going and what we will be doing. While writing may be our passion that does not mean that sometimes, it can be hard work.
So let’s sit back, prop our feet up and take a little while to smile and feel good about all we’ve accomplished. Then we will be ready to finish those holiday touches, greet the families, and wrap the presents and cook the meals because we took some times for us.

All of us at Southern Writers Magazine wish all of you and your families a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

December 19, 2012

Twitter Chat? You bet!

By Sandra Balzo

When my publisher, Severn House, asked me if I'd be willing to participate in  a Twitter Chat last month, I said, "You bet!" Then I–a former publicist–promptly went online to find out what the heck a Twitter Chat was.

I have issues with Twitter. A 140-character maximum? I mean, really? I write books for a living, remember?

Happily, Severn's publicist, Alexandra, walked me through the process. She'd be hosting the chat, which would last a mere 45 minutes. Heck, I could survive anything for 45 minutes, right?

Alex went on to explain that she'd start things out and then invite others to chime in. Still, I didn't quite understand the nuts and bolts. How would people know this was happening in the first place? And once they did, how did they "attend"?

Turned out the "how" was Twitter and social media, of course. Severn tweeted the chat's date, time and hashtag and I did likewise, as well as put it on Facebook, Linked In, Goodreads, etc.

As for how people "attended," at the appointed hour they would simply search the hashtag "#severnchat" to see the associated tweets and, in turn, include that same tag in their own tweets.

Alexandra also directed me to the site At the top of the home page I would be able to enter #severnchat, hit "go" and voila: All of the #severnchat tweets would show up as they came in, without the clutter of other tweets. Plus, the hashtag would automatically be added to my tweets so I wouldn't have to bother.

The night of the chat, I poured myself a glass of red wine, sat down at my computer and dutifully signed into TweetChat. Moments later, Alexandra popped up to let me know she was there. Then a few more people chimed in, and we were off to the races.

Alexandra had warned me that it's easy to get frazzled and overwhelmed, so I just tried to answer each tweet as it came in even if questions and answers overlapped. All in all, I had multiple questions from nine or ten different people--plenty to fill the fastest 45 minutes of my life and allow me to deem my first Twitter Chat a success.

The chat was both fun and frantic. My one and only disappointment was there's no way of knowing who followed the discussion unless they actually spoke up.

That aside, I'd definitely recommend a Twitter Chat as an effective way of connecting with readers. Even better, the chat can be archived on something called "Storify." That means that while your chat ends after 45 minutes, your ability to use it for promotion goes on and on.

In fact, you can put the link on your website, Facebook and various author pages, Linked In, or . . . a guest blog! :-)
Sandy's SevernChat:
Sandra Balzo is an award-winning author of crime fiction, including nine books in two different mystery series from Severn House--the Wisconsin-based Maggy Thorsen Mysteries and Main Street Murders, set in the High Country of North Carolina and featuring journalist AnnaLise Griggs.Balzo's books have garnered starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, while being recommended to readers of Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, Harlan Coben, Joan Hess and Margaret Maron.
Find Sandy online at, Pinterest (, Facebook (Sandra Balzo Mysteries) and Twitter (@SandraBalzo

December 18, 2012

A Writer's Bucket List

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

The term "bucket list" has become so much a part of our lexicon that it's hard to believe it didn't exist before the 2007 movie The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. In just five years, most everyone has come to know that a bucket list is a personal wish list of things one wishes to do before one "kicks the bucket".

I think the reason the phrase has caught on so quickly and indelibly is because everyone has a deeply personal wish list, whether they've taken the time to write theirs out yet or not.

Examples from the film include "Witness something truly majestic" and "Laugh until I cry".  Goals such as these are not mere short-term achievements like clearing out your inbox.  They aspire to the kind of high-caliber life experience that fulfills on a soul level.

As a writer, it's a given that some of the goals capable of enriching us to that degree will involve writing.  In 2013, as we contemplate New Year's resolutions, why not include something "bucket list worthy" in your intentions? 

Where to start? A good place to begin might be through two of the main questions posed in the movie:

Did you find joy in your life? 
Has your life brought joy to others?

When we narrow these into a writing focus, they might well become:

What will bring me joy in my writing?
How can my writing bring joy to others?

A good bucket list item reflects the motivation behind it. Instead of "Write a novel", make it "Write a novel that honors my ancestors" or "Write a book that helps kids who are afraid of going to the doctor". One of the best things about a bucket list is that it's uniquely you, and exclusively yours to fulfill.  Good luck.

With Christmas just a week away, and 2013 a mere two weeks from today, I wish you glad tidings and the opportunity to slow down over the holidays to give some inspired thought to the writing you'd like to accomplish this coming year. May you write something capable of changing someone's life, and your own.

You might even come up with a new catch phrase, like "bucket list".

December 17, 2012

Self-Publishing When You Are On A Tight Budget.

By D.J. Cameron

Having met authors who had self-published and those who went with traditional publishing, I decided I wanted to self-publish. However, I didn’t have money to spend on hiring a publisher or to have someone create the cover for my book and I certainly didn’t have money to have books printed out to sell.

If you’re like me and have decided to self-publish your book and on a tight budget, you might be asking yourself, ‘How the heck can I do this if I don’t have money to spend on artists for covers and books to be printed?’ I asked myself the same question.

After searching, I found a couple places to self-publish for…FREE. Yes I said the ‘f’ word, FREE. You start by creating your free account and follow the steps. You can choose from several templates offered for free to create your book cover or you can upload your own. There is also a free template you can download for the correct book formatting.

You can choose to have your book in paperback, which are printed on demand, epub, or both. Once you have everything uploaded, they will calculate what your base price must be on the printed books based on the amount of pages, type of paper you choose, etc.

What I like about self-publishing is that you have freedom to decide how much royalty you want to make on each purchase, you can do different promotions from discount coupons to free download. You can also make revisions or corrections and re-upload your book at any time.

I like having the freedom to choose where and how I want to sell, what I want as my cover and title. Not to mention there is no middleman to take a cut of the profits.

I have done several different promotions without spending anything out of pocket. I found success is giving a free download for a period of time, which has always been followed by sales.

I’ve had a very positive experience with self-publishing. I have more books in the works and plan on self-publishing them as well. I have paid nothing out of pocket, published my book, and made sales.

While I am a fan of self-publishing, you must still beware. If you have never heard of the company or you are not sure about them, check out Preditors & Editors at or Absolute Write Water Cooler at . These are both good information sources.

I started with Amazon who owns Create Space, which is where you publish. You are always asked to proof your book once you’ve uploaded to make sure nothing has gone wrong during the conversion.

There is also another organization called Smashwords at This is strictly epub. You can list your book anywhere from free to the dollar amount of your choice.

Another place to self-publish is on Lulu at I have tried Lulu; however, I found them to be a little pricey in their required costs for the print on demand.

I have had success with Amazon and Smashwords and will continue to use both of those avenues. So if you are thinking about self-publishing check out Amazon and Smashwords.

Have fun and keep writing.

DJ Cameron is an author who lives in the Southwestern Desert.  When not writing she enjoys spending time with her family and horses.  She has always been interested the in paranormal.  Having had several experiences of her own, she decided to start writing on her two favorite subjects, paranormal and romance.  Her first novel  Echoes of the Past takes place in a 200 year old mansion in England where past meets present.  When two strangers are brought together under false pretenses they struggle with the concept of reincarnation and the fact that they could be reincarnated lovers., my web site is, and my blog is . I am also on Facebook under D.J. Cameron and on twitter.

December 14, 2012

Writing Can Be Lonely and Joyful

By Clarissa Johal 

Writing can be a lonely and discouraging business sometimes. On one hand, we write because it gives us joy and we cannot see ourselves doing anything else. On another, finding readers and/or a publishing company can be frustrating.

I began writing “seriously” after my first daughter was born. The plan was for me to return to my career in veterinary medicine but after holding her in my arms, that plan was immediately scrapped. I’ve always written and had several pieces published, but the idea of writing as a career ranked up there with Big Dreams. But as any mom will tell you, when your baby is sleeping, the mind wanders. And so along with my daughter, my first novel was born.

My YA fantasy, Pradee, took me ten years to complete. Shelved on and off while I raised my family, I finally started submitting it to publishers once both my daughters were in school. But the economy was against me. I was getting good feedback but because I was a new writer, publishers were hesitant to take me on. Finally, I decided to jump in with both feet and self-publish.

Self-publishing is a good learning experience for those that wish to understand the process. Would I do it again? Probably not. It takes a tremendous amount of advertising and networking for an unknown writer to pull their self-published work from obscurity to bestseller. Kudos to those that do. At the time, I knew little about either and while Pradee received good reviews and was second round finalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012, it didn’t take off like I’d hoped.
There were days I considered going back into veterinary medicine, but I wanted so badly to write that I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

Fast forward to book number two. While writing the second installment to Pradee, I was hit by two characters that didn’t belong in a YA novel. I kept setting them aside but they would return, stronger than ever. Finally, I gave up and started writing, Between, a story of the paranormal. And Between came fast. I had the complete rough draft within a couple of months, and the novel was ready to submit a year later. I submitted to Musa Publishing and immediately got an offer.
What I have learned through Musa Publishing is how to social network. Blog, talk, Twitter—get your writing out there. It will take time, but people will begin to notice. I love meeting readers and interacting, but the part where you wave your writer flag and exclaim, “Buy my novel, it’s awesome!” is still daunting.

My encouragement to aspiring writers is this: the days you feel like your writing sucks, ignore them. Keep writing. If you’re submitting and getting rejects, take what the rejects are telling you and see if they apply. I equate rejects with fashion. Say you decide to go out for a night on the town wearing a polka-dotted mini dress and striped tights. Some would say, “Did the cat yak on you or what?” But others will say, “Wow! You rock!” Writing is like that. Find people that “get” you and don’t give up.
Clarissa Johal has done everything from working as a veterinary assistant and vegetarian chef to volunteering as a zookeeper aide and swimming with six-foot sturgeons. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day she fully expects a wayward troll to wander into her yard, but that hasn't happened yet.Between, a story of the paranormal. Coming December 14, 2012 from Musa Publishing. Pradee, her first YA fantasy novel, is available today. *Second round finalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012 Short stories::Pigeons, published in the literary journal SusurrusThe Rope, published in the literary journal Susurrus.  Author Webpage: 

December 13, 2012

Santa and His Wingman

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Let the fun begin. Put your caption to this picture below in the comment section..

I googled surf terms. "Wingman" in surfer speak means; "a bro that has your back".  So in my story I would be interested in the story of the wingman not so much the guy in the Santa wet suit.

How about you? 

Can you imagine this scene in your next Christmas story or novel?

Would you open with this scene?

December 12, 2012

You Can Be A Speed Demon Author

 By Laura Childs

Whenever I do a talk at a bookstore or library, or get invited to do a radio interview, one of the inevitable questions I’m asked is, “How on earth do you manage to write three books a year?”

My answer is fairly simple and straight-forward:  I’m a very fast writer.  You see, I come from a 25-year background in advertising.  I started as a writer/producer, advanced to creative director, and then headed my own firm for almost 15 years.  And all the while deadlines continued to fly at me like moths around a light bulb.  There were clients with last minute requests, clients who dragged their feet, and clients who didn’t really know what they wanted.  And all the while there remained publication closings and broadcast dates that needed to be met.  Drop dead dates we called these.

Thankfully, this constant pressure didn’t lead to ulcers, but it certainly honed my basic gut instinct to GET IT DONE FAST!  So now, when I sit down at my computer to work on one of my mysteries, I feel that same sense of urgency (and a little tingle of fear) pulsing through me.  So I take a deep breath and try to write fast. Real fast.  Often 10 to 20 pages a day.

This isn’t to say the work I produce is good.  Oh no, not at all.  Many times my speediness results in gaping plot holes, hideous grammar, and characters that exit stage left never to be heard from again.

But here’s the really good thing – the saving grace.  Once I have a bunch of pages written, I find it easy to go back over them and punch up my writing.  In fact, I always tell people I’m a fair-to-middling writer, but I’m a really good editor.  Because, for me, that’s where the real story begins to take shape and come alive.  Once I’ve written a good 20 or 30 pages, I definitely have the characters, action, and scene locked inside my head. Then it becomes something fun to tinker with.  So I go back and ratchet up the action, add a few more dollops of human drama, try to make it a little shivery, and judiciously sprinkle in a few comedic elements. And when I have those chapters looking good, I do it all over again with the next couple of chapters!

The cool thing is, when you keep chipping away, pounding out a scene here, a chapter there, pretty soon, before you even know it, you have yourself a full length novel!

Laura Childs is the author of the Tea Shop Mysteries set in Charleston, SC, the Scrapbook Mysteries set in New Orleans, LA, and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries Her books have been named to the USA Today andNew York Times Bestseller Lists, and have been featured selections in the Literary Guild’s Mystery Book Club.  She is a former Cleo Award-winning advertising writer and CEO of Mission Critical Marketing. She is currently co-executive producer of two reality television shows.