March 29, 2013

Writing Time Is Of The Essence

By  Karl Vadaszffy

For most people who write, writing isn’t a full-time job. Most people aren’t fortunate enough to be able to match the success of James Patterson or J.K. Rowling. But that doesn't stop them from striving for publication.

Most of us work a day job and then write when we can. This might be in the evenings, at weekends or, like with me, during holidays. I’m a secondary school teacher – head of English, Media Studies and Drama in Garston, Hertfordshire – so my evenings are typically spent on my school responsibilities: planning lessons, marking students’ work and completing my management duties.

Full of Sin, my first novel, was written over a period of four years – and it’s a short book at only 180 pages. But I think challenges on time aren’t unique to me; they’re faced by most authors. How can you write a novel when you have to work 9AM-5PM? Or, indeed, if you have to work in the evenings as well, as teachers, lawyers and members of many other professions have to?

I wrote a draft of a story – 200 handwritten pages – when I was just 16. When I was 22 years old, I returned to that story and Full of Sin was born. When I was 26, it was published by a small independent press in the north of the UK. It didn't sell well and, looking back on it, there were a number of things we should have done differently, but it was thrilling, after hundreds of rejections, to finally be accepted for publication.

As part of my work at school, I met international bestselling author Sophie Hannah, whose debut novel Little Face is one of my favourite crime novels. She read Full of Sin and enjoyed it, but as a dark drama she realised its market was limited. She advised me to try my hand at writing crime fiction, so I set out to produce a novel in the style of LittleFace. A character is in an extraordinary situation who has to find a way out, which to the reader seems impossible. A police investigation runs concurrently.

My story – John Simmons’ girlfriend goes missing en route to an evening at the theatre in London and when the police investigate they find no evidence that she exists – ended up called The Waiting Game. I was signed up by a top UK agency by a wonderful agent, Sonia Land. She represents, among others, Susan Hill, Peter Ackroyd and Neil White. After working on the novel together, it was retitled The Missing and released by Peach Publishing.

This time the journey from the first word to the final product lasted about two years.

Since its release in June, The Missing has sold almost 40,000 eBooks on Amazon and became a top ten bestseller, peaking at number six. A paperback will be forthcoming, exclusively through Amazon. And because of its success, I was able to rewrite Full of Sin, which has since been rereleased.

The Missing, like Full of Sin, was written during breaks from school. Publicising it has been another important factor – whatever free moment there is in an evening or at a weekend needs to be spent online, working on various social media channels. Social media is, indeed, remarkable in its capability in reaching readers.

So whatever your story if you’re a writer, time is of the essence. Persevere and you can get there. It may take you four months or it may take four years, but it’s always worth it in the end.
Karl Vadaszffy trained as an English teacher and trained actor at the London Centre for Theatre Studies. He has edited magazines, taught English as a foreign language in Poland and taught English, Media Studies and Drama in secondary schools in England. He is the Head of English, Drama and Media Studies at an Ofsted  in Hertfordshire. Karl currently juggles his teaching responsibilities with work as a freelance journalist. His articles regularly appear in ten industry-leading magazines that cover the automotive, aerospace, technology and travel sectors. His articles are read by over 12,000 subscribers in print, and more online. Karl established The Astley Cooper School’s author visits programme, many bestselling authors including Frederick Forsyth, Jodi Picoult, Sophie Hannah, Peter James, Darren Shan, Joanne Harris, Michael Marshall, Deborah Moggach and Elizabeth Buchan. Karl was a competitive fencer for seven years and a three-time British Epee Champion. He has coached actors in fencing, including Ralph Fiennes and Robson Green, to prepare them for screen roles.

March 28, 2013

The Value of Encouragement

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

“I greet you at the beginning of a great career.”

Walt Whitman struggled to get someone interested in his poetry. He had become discouraged when he received a note of encouragement from someone that possibly gave him what he needed to continue. Encouragement can mean a great deal to one that so desperately needs to hear it. It can also mean a great deal to one that just needs a nudge to continue on.

Talented writers appear to pick up their pen, or word processor, and just let their brilliance flow. We tend to think they write without any concern for acceptance from their readers, agent or publisher when in fact that couldn’t be further from the truth. I think we write to share our thoughts, feelings and desires with the world. In order for us to know this has occurred, we need feedback and encouragement from those we want to share with.

We are not unlike our favorite sports team that we cheer after each successful play, score or win. Encouragement plays a large part in a team’s success. That is why we speak of home team advantage. Home teams enjoy the advantage of a home crowd and the positive encouragement of their fans. It feeds their motivation, their drive and their success.   

I can only imagine the encouragement Walt Whitman felt when he read the following note penned to him. “Dear Sir, I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of Leaves of GrassI find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed. I greet you at the beginning of a great career.” signed Ralph Waldo Emerson. Without this wonderful note from Emerson would Whitman have continued? We may never know. But we do know what did occur.

What is the value of encouragement? It may be found in the value of a Walt Whitman and his poetry. 

As we remember our need for encouragement let’s remember to encourage others in their endeavors. The right words from the right person may indeed bring us the next great poet or writer. I can only imagine hearing from someone I hold in high esteem, “I greet you at the beginning of a great career.”   

March 27, 2013

Writing as Part of the Solution…not Part of the Problem

By Kathi Macias

When it comes to qualifying as a “Southern writer,” I fly just under the radar, since I hang my hat in Southern California. But throughout the many years of my writing career, I’ve made several forays into the “real” South and have developed a serious love affair with the people who so readily personify Southern hospitality.

I have also come to honor and respect one Southern lady in particular, though she’s long-since gone on to her heavenly reward (which, no doubt, is extensive). That lady is Harriet Tubman. Most historians put Harriet’s birth-date as 1820, though when she entered the world on the eastern shore of the state of Maryland, she was actually named Araminta, or Minty. She didn’t take on her mother’s name of Harriet until some years later.

So what’s a Southern California girl like me doing writing about a Southern slave woman, particularly since I’m known for writing primarily contemporary fiction? Because the contemporary fiction I write is centered around social issues. My most recent release, TheMoses Quilt, is no exception. The Moses Quilt is the story about a contemporary interracial romance, where the young woman in the relationship has serious misgivings about marrying the man she loves because of secrets in her family’s past. The Moses Quilt is also the story of a slave girl, born penniless and growing up under horrible conditions, with no hope of ever obtaining an education, let alone her freedom. And yet, because of her deep faith in God and the courage she drew from that faith, this poverty-stricken, illiterate young girl became one of the most accomplished and admired women in America’s history.

I am a strong believer that our yesterdays are relevant to our todays, and also to our tomorrows—hence, the telling of a contemporary story against a historical backdrop. This is a lesson the two young people in TheMoses Quilt—Edward and Mazie—begin to learn as they study the life and accomplishments of Harriet Tubman. The woman overcame nearly insurmountable obstacles because she believed that what she was doing was right, and that God Himself had called her to do it. Not only Edward and Mazie’s lives can be changed by understanding that powerful principle, but the readers’ lives as well.

This is a hugely important factor for writers of any genre to grasp, and we must effectively portray it for our readers. I feel called to write more than nice, entertaining stories (though I hope my novels are that); I also believe I have a responsibility to convey a message through my writing. The question is whether that message will be positive or negative. Since I believe it is important to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, my message must be a positive one.

The contemporary story of The Moses Quilt takes readers from the primary setting of San Francisco to the quaint little town of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, where African-American folk have established a community that produces the most amazingly beautiful quilts to be found anywhere in the world. At the same time, the historical aspect of the book takes readers on a journey through the incredibly difficult but ultimately triumphant life and times of Harriet Tubman, a woman with a tender heart and an iron will, who even today influences others with her positive message of faith and courage. The writing of this book has made Harriet Tubman one of my own personal heroes, and it has also become my very favorite “visit” into the heart and soul of America’s beautiful and beloved South.
Kathi Macias is the multi-award-winning author of 40 books, including the 2011 Golden Scrolls Novel of the Year and Carol Award Finalist, Red Ink. Kathi and her husband, Al, live in Southern California, where she is affectionately known as “Easy Writer.”

March 26, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

For weeks I had been looking forward to hearing a noted author and public speaker who gave a presentation near me this weekend.  From his books and the CDs I'd heard, I knew it was going to be an inspiring and entertaining talk.

My hopes remained high until I sat down and remembered how horrible the echo is in this particular venue.  It's a beautiful, ornate setting, appealing to the eye, but a portion of what they spent on decorating should have been invested in decent acoustic consultation.  Every word bounced around the hall and fought with itself, and I'd be surprised if the audience was able to discern more than half of what was said.  (The author, BTW, gave an excellent presentation, from the parts I could hear.)

Sitting through that muddled wash of indistinctness, my mind tended to wander, and I pondered how great words can all be in vain if something gets in the way.  Anything that distracts from the clarity of the message is a curse to communication.

In our writing, we can lose the reader in countless ways.  To name but a few:

  • Long stretches of dialogue that doesn't occasionally inject who's saying what
  • Too many details that aren't relevant to the story
  • Too many accessory characters to keep up with
  • Names of characters that are similar, inviting confusion
  • Pet phrases or inside jokes that make the reader say, "Huh?"

There's also the whole issue of typos and improper punctuation.  It's amazing how the same sentence can take on different meanings without properly-placed punctuation. One of my favorite examples is:
  • A woman without her man is nothing.
  • A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Our proofreaders at the magazine (who are among my favorite people on the planet) are all about clarity.  A missing comma here, an awkwardly-worded phrase there, are the kind of things they lose sleep over, because these little grammatical gaffes take away from cogent communication.

They might even question my use of the word "cogent" if "clear" would say the same thing with less bluster. "Bluster" might even be suspect.

In the editing process, sometimes classical rules clash and debates result, but whenever they do, the judgment is always in favor of clarity; whatever conveys most accurately.

You know exactly what you meant to say, so you may not spot the impediments to communication that a good editor will notice.  Don't skip that important insurance policy.  And if you're ever asked to give a speech in a very big room, I encourage you to check out the acoustics before you say yes.

March 25, 2013

Stainless Steel Classics

By Pam Hillman

Quick, run to your kitchen and look at your smooth, shiny sink. Or maybe even the vent hood over your stove, possibly even your refrigerator. Pull out that gleaming pot you inherited from your grandmother that you still make spaghetti in two or three times a week.

Take a look at your silverware. Except—just to let you in on a secret—I seriously doubt it’s real silver, unless it’s been in your family for generations. And who has time to polish silver anyway? How long have you had that fork? Ten years? Twenty-five? Thirty? More?

Chances are you’re looking at 304 stainless steel. Doesn’t rust and it’s made to last forever. Just take a piece of steel wool to it every so often, add a little elbow grease, and it’ll be good as new.
I know a bit about stainless steel. I spent the last sixteen years purchasing precious metals: stainless steel, copper, and brass goods. All these metals have their specific uses, but stainless steel is in a class by itself. What makes 304 stainless steel so special? Nickel.

Over half of the nickel mined worldwide is used to produce stainless steel, and it’s believed that Earth’s inner core is made up of an iron-nickel mixture. Nickel is the commodity that keeps 304 stainless steel from rusting. And it’s not called stainless for nothing. If the mix (the metal composition) meets production specs, you’ve got a piece of pristine stainless that will last a lifetime, and beyond.

So it is with the work of a writer’s pen. A writer mines that precious commodity of imagination stored deep inside, mixes it with her thoughts, feelings, passions, and craft to create stories that sparkle and shine. And when she gets the mix just right, her writing will rival that of the most elegant stainless flatware in the world.

And readers will embrace the steel in her work. They’ll admire the enduring quality of her well-crafted stories and sigh at the polished perfection of her prose. They’ll tuck away her stories to read another day, unveil them to share with their closest friends. Why? Because the author dug to the core and filled her stories with that elusive commodity that can only be found deep inside where dreams and imagination live.

So dig deep. Imagination becomes stories. Stories become books. But 304 stainless steel books become classics.
Pam Hillman is a 304 stainless steel magnolia born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi. She spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of! Cs her second novel.

March 22, 2013

Pacing Your Book

By Janet Elizabeth Henderson

Making a run for it…

I learned about pacing when I was in Art College. We had a course on how to make the artist book. An artist’s book is a cross between a sculpture, a performance piece and a book. If you’re still not sure what I mean, have a look here. I loved that course. I loved the thought of people interacting with my artwork. And I quickly learned that through my images, text and other elements in the work – I could make people turn the pages at a pace I chose. The speed of their interaction could make them smile, or surprise them, or make them think more deeply about something in the work. This is a powerful tool, but not a new one. Every comedian knows that good comedy is all about the timing. I think this can apply to fiction too.

Pacing is a really important part of my work. From the first sentence I want my reader to feel like she’s fallen smack-bam into the middle of the story and needs to run to keep up. I want her to turn the pages so fast that she’s finished the book, with a smile on her face, before she knows what hit her. That way, it might escape her notice just how fluffy my work really is! But seriously, have you ever thought of the overall pacing of your work? Pacing can add feeling to a story – it can make the dramatic moments more intense, or appear more low-key. It can put a breath before a surprise finale, or lull the reader into a false sense of security before the story takes off again in another direction. And it can emphasize your over- arching theme. Think about the difference between a fast-paced romantic comedy and a slow moving period romance. The first is all about getting the laugh and moving on to a satisfying conclusion. The other is all about delving deeply in the nuances of the time and feeling the atmosphere of that era.

Good pacing isn’t that hard to achieve. When you read your work, think about how quickly you turn some pages and how slowly you turn others. Does this pacing happen in the right places, and for the right reasons? When something intensely emotional happens in your piece, do you want the pacing to be so fast that your reader almost misses the significance so that it surprises them in another way later in the story? Or do you want to slow the pace and make them feel each moment of the scene?

You see how it works. So, next time you read your work note the pauses and the fast paced sections. Make sure that they are intermingled, otherwise your work won’t have balance and your reader will feel confused. And check that each type of pacing emphasizes the content and emotion of your story at that point. And then smile with satisfaction as you create a page turner.
Scottish girl turned kiwi, Janet lives in New Zealand with her Dutch husband and two young girls. During the daylight hours Janet spends her time organising children and herding her pet sheep from her spare room - where it is convinced it should be living. During the twilight hours, while the house sleeps, Janet entertains herself by making up weird and wonderful stories with characters who lead zany lifestyles, at times not unlike her own. A prolific writer, Janet currently has three books, The Davina Code, Laura’sBig Break and Mad Love. She is working on her fourth. Blog -
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March 21, 2013

Spring Has Sprung...Has Your Writing Sprung?

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Yesterday's weather was an invigorating start to Spring. There is no turning back the calendar. Spring arrived as scheduled. Hibernation time is over. Winter is over. 

As I'm writing this post, two birds are chirping their hearts out just outside my sunny desk window. It's as if their tune signals "wake up and get moving". In Spring, more than any other season, it's time to awaken your brain. Get all those words you have been mulling over onto paper. 

Signs of spring are evident everywhere. Memphis's cityscape has sprung to life, seemingly overnight. Tulip, Dogwood, and Bartlett Pear trees are in full bloom. Sunny yellow Forsythia bushes burst open in all their beauty. Buttercups and surprise lilies appear through the dead drab winter grass. The Spring rebirth reminds me that new beginnings abound. Is it time to renew your writing?

One of the easiest ways to renew your writing is to stop your current piece. Set it aside, temporarily. Yes, we all have deadlines but hear me out. Let your current project rest for just a little bitty bit. Now, start a new piece. Enter a short story contest. Do something different. You may be astonished by the results. When you hit the submit button, go back to your winter project. Those problem areas that had you in a winter slump may magically disappear and spring you forward to completion.

Yes, I know not everyone has weather that is Spring like. In fact the local TV weatherman just announced our area is under a winter snow storm watch for tomorrow. In the words of Mark Twain, "In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours." Snow may return, but I know Spring is here. I'm taking my own advice and writing a 2000 word short story. 

Let's face it. The weather may not cooperate with the fact that Spring is here. As Henry Van Dyke stated, "The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month." But know it's coming so plan to be sprung by Spring this year. Change your writing project which will recharge the winter hibernation of your brain.

"Spring is the time of plans and projects." -Leo Tolstoy in "Anna Karenina"

March 20, 2013

My Christmas Tree - An Unlikely Editor

By Jude Urbanski

“Oh, no!”

Do you know how long it takes to decorate a Christmas tree, much less redecorate?

Finishing touches had barely slid from my fingertips when the wayward tree lights played roles of dead soldiers. I felt deceived, because I had checked the lights. Dreams of sipping morning coffee and basking in the lights of my beautiful tree vaporized. I hung my head, dreading the redecorating toil.

However, it wasn’t long before the saving analogy hit. A writing-related analogy. So, maybe all wasn’t for naught. This tree, refusing to shine, reminded me of my latest novel and the job of editing said novel.

I had pulled my story together, sat back and smiled. My story was bright, fresh and ready for a home. Surely, any editor would drool. Fantasies of advances, marketing, and success pirouetted beautifully across my mind, but, truth is, my book still languishes in my computer.

My crazy tree needed redoing, redecorating and rewiring. A dreaded task the second time around, but maybe my book needed a similar overhaul. As with my tree, I dwelt on whether to start my book all over. Just as I had to remove ornaments from the tree, maybe I needed to switch scenes, to begin in the middle or even change points of view of my story. Perhaps that nice-but-adds-nothing tinsel needs cutting, which equates to throwing out superfluous backstory.

I grieved to lose my original designs, both of tree and book, but knew change was necessary. I don’t have to ask whether you understand. I know you do. We’ve all been there.

The good news is editing usually isn’t required to be as drastic as my tree saving measures, but the bad news is writers must be open to editing.

Jude Urbanski is southern born, northern raised, but loves the land of her birth. Her novels are set in Pickett County, Tennessee, home to her ancestors for six generations. She writes a mix of women’s fiction with Christian romance. Jude now has two electronic novels, The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing Series. She contributed to the anthology, I Choose You, released in December, 2012. She is a columnist forMaximum Living, a magazine focusing on spirituality and wellness for women.Jude has a Master’s Degree in Nursing and worked as a nurse practitioner. She is a member of national and area chapters of American Christian Fiction Writers and National League of American Pen Women. She and her husband live in Indiana and share a large blended family.

March 19, 2013


By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief

A friend of mine reminded me there are many avenues authors can use to promote the debut of their books. Here are a few suggestions (some of them I know some authors have used). If you haven’t used any of these, think of ways you might could use some of them to benefit your books.

Birth Announcement…Announces birth (release) of your book, picture on the front and the information on the inside. After all, you have birthed the book and I know you are proud of it.

A Coming Out Announcement…a card announcing the coming out of your book and its info.

New Member to the Family Announcement…sharing the addition of a new book to your series.

Use your blog to report or update your readers and fans on the new book you are writing. You could do once a week. You know, the up’s and down’s, in’s and out’s-enough to whet the appetites, building excitement and buzz for the book. Perhaps they can participate by asking you questions. Anytime a reader can ask the author questions you can bet they are going to buy that book when it comes out.

How about “Author’s Night” where you talk about your books or your series…the story behind them. Why you write, how you came to write, all sorts of information. Readers love to know this information. You can then give them a ‘tad’ of info about the new book you are writing. It’s a night to get to know the local author.  You can even call some of your friends who are authors to participate in this with you. The bookstores should love this it brings customers into their store.

There are probably hundreds of things authors could do every month that would promote their books, we just haven’t allowed ourselves time to sit down and make list…but what fun that could be especially if we allowed ourselves to think out of the box!

Have you used any of these I mentioned? Share some you have used.

What others can you think of that might work for authors in promoting their books?

March 18, 2013

The Harder They Come

By Brian Clarey

No one told me how hard it was gonna be.

In the beginning I thought it would be easy. I wrote for my college paper, won a few awards, worked hard at developing what I then called, almost reverently, “My Voice.” I envisioned my byline in Esquire, Playboy, Rolling Stone, the New Yorker, — but not the New York Times. The Gray Lady was too staid, too structured for my irreverent wit, or so I thought at the time. I also believed that internships were for dimmer lights than mine. No way was I going to take one of those. I thought a lot of things back then, most of which turned out to be wrong.

Then I graduated, and nobody called. Turned out I would have to suffer the indignities of actually going out there and asking for work.

In this time and place — New Orleans ca. 1994 — there were no websites or blogs. There was a daily newspaper, the Times-Picayune, but I had already decided that daily newspapers would stifle my creativity, my passion, My Voice. A group of Yale grads were starting a slick monthly called Tribe that seemed more my speed. I went over to their Magazine Street offices with a bundle of college clips under my arm. They had never heard of me, and were not interested in my services. That left the Gambit, the city’s alternative weekly. An old journalism professor of mine had an editorship there; he took pity on me and gave me my first paid assignment.

I delivered the piece — it was about dive bars, if I remember right — to absolutely no fanfare. The paper stayed on the streets for a week, and then it was gone, like it never happened.

If the first thing I learned is that nobody knows who you are, the second is that there are writers with assignments and writers with ideas. Writers with ideas get a lot more work.

So I learned to flesh out story ideas, sometimes on the fly, and pitch them with enthusiasm. I got more work in Gambit, and started writing for a little monthly start-up called Where Y’At. I never did crack the pages of Tribe — they went under inside of a year. But I did get published in New Orleans magazine, a couple short pieces for the staggering sum of $2 a word. Through six years of freelancing in this way, I amassed perhaps 20 published clips.

Things got better. I got better — at writing, at marketing my work, at spotting opportunities. I moved to North Carolina, where after a few years of hustling I landed a job editing the Triad’s first alt-weekly. My writing life is nothing like I imagined it would be, but I take great satisfaction in the small degree of success I’ve managed to achieve.

It was hard — a constant struggle against an indifferent industry, defiance towards everyone, including at times myself, who thought I wouldn’t be able to make a go of it, or that it wouldn’t be worth it in the end.
But it was worth it. It was totally worth it.

My first book came out last year, TheAnxious Hipster and Other Barflies I’ve Known, a collection of columns, essays and long-form journalism. There are more pieces in there than I wrote in my first six years in the business. I’m proud of them all.

I thought publishing this book would change my life. It absolutely did — but not in the way that I thought. I was wrong about that, too.
Brian Clarey studied journalism at Loyola University New Orleans, and is currently the editor of YES! Weekly, covering the cities of the North Carolina Piedmont Triad. His first book, TheAnxious Hipster and Other Barflies I’ve Known. He lives in Greensboro, NC with his family. "Brian Clarey has been editor of YES! Weekly, the Piedmont Triad's alternative newsweekly, since 2004. He has been writing about arts, culture and entertainment since 1993. In 2006, with a Greensboro-based film crew, he wrote the short "JoBeth," which won that year's Greensboro 48-Hour Film Project and finished high enough in international competition to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007."--Amazon   @brianclarey

March 15, 2013

How to Be Inspired for True Success

By Randy Brown

We have been trained to think that “if you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail.” But when we align ourselves with universal laws, we don’t need to know all the “How-two’s.” The plan will come as a result of being in alignment. When you have a vision that is filled with emotion, the Universe begins to deliver a plan to you. If you’ve been spinning your wheels for years trying to intellectualize a plan and nothing is working for you; that should tell you something.

I came to realize that I needed to tap into an intelligence that was much bigger than me. This is a huge leap for people who are analytical and skeptical. I know it was for me, but I realized that my way of doing things wasn’t working and I needed to follow my intuition. I needed to let go of the “How-two” and pay attention to what the Universe was going to deliver to me. Here are four Steps to help you experience “flow.”

1.       Instead of focusing on the problem get really clear on what you really want. If you have the mindset of, “I’m going to solve this problem,” that is where you will stay emotionally and energetically, and that is what you’re going to attract.

2.       Begin acting on the things that show up in your life, and it will create a chain of events where you’ll start meeting people, finding information and opportunities that suddenly appear. Once you’re in this “flow,” things start to happen very quickly. And when you’re in the “flow,” things always seemed to work out for you.

3.       Take time to do the things you love every day, it has a very powerful effect, and the more you stay there the more your environment will change. You have to do something to make yourself feel good, and be OK with that.  You can’t feel guilty about it; you’re supposed to feel good. The more you follow your passion and work toward something that inspires you, the more things will start to change. You will just have to trust this.

4.       When inspiration comes take action! Once you’ve identified the thing that inspires you, do it every day. As you practice this it is almost like a meditative experience, as you enter your state of bliss and all the other things just fall away, and you’re present, you’re in the moment. That’s where inspiration comes from. Then when that inspiration comes you take action on it, without questioning it, without analyzing it, without trying to figure out where this is going, you just trust that the Universe it giving you something that is in resonance with that state of passion that you are feeling when you are doing that thing.

Your intuition and inspiration will take you exactly where you want to go if you’ll just honor it and trust it.
Randy Brown grew up in Houston Texas and has strong inclinations towards spiritual things. Although I have always had these inclinations, I have also struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I attended Brigham Young University and received a degree in marketing, but during my senior year I began to experience a severe anxiety disorder and debilitating panic attacks. I married and began a career in sales which contributed to the anxiety I experienced.  I remained in sales for most of my career.  I have worked as a personal success coach for the professional Education Institute, where in 2009 I met Jack Canfield and connected with my passion for writing.  Later that year I wrote and published my first book:  Experiencing Christ, Your Personal Journeyto the Savior. This was the beginning of a spiritual journey for me. My writing journey continues with my upcoming book titled: 7 Principles of Divine Purpose,

March 14, 2013

Dance with the One What Brung Ya

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magaxine  

Growing up in the South you hear a lot of quaint sayings. One I have heard many times is, “Dance with the one what brung ya.” Proper English, no, but the meaning was well defined. I am sure that originally it meant exactly what it states. You should dance with the one that brought you to the dance. But it has evolved to mean stay the course with the talent, process or system that got you here.   

Many times we have a successful process and will stray from it. In the world of sales they make a reference toward straying from something successful like this by saying, “It worked so well we quit doing it.”   This sounds like it doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t. But it happens time and time again. We find our groove, our zone or process; enjoy our success then abandon the very thing that got us here. Why?

Many times the change comes from outside forces. Competition, the economy or technology can force us to change or adapt the way we do things. That is understandable. But just as often change comes from the inside. We begin to second guess our success and think of ways to make it better. We may get lazy and take shortcuts or decide to reinvent the wheel. Either way; we lose sight of what made us successful and in changing it we lose it.

“More often than not the process of refining an idea makes it vanish.”

Before we realize it our success fades and we are left to wonder why. It is at this point we must retrace our steps. We must consider we may have made a mistake with our decision to change, or as the quote above says, we refined the idea to the point it has vanished. Can this happen? Sure it can. Look at Facebook. In recent months the changes Facebook has made with Timeline, and other bells and whistles, has many people leaving Facebook. Is Facebook a great idea that has been refined to the point it is beginning to vanish? The verdict is still out.

For the writer that has worked hard and achieved success, it can be hard to continue dancing with the one that brought you. We may be tempted to take the shortcuts or reinvent our writing process. Outside forces can and will come into play as well but we must remember our success and how we got here. 

Do not stray from success. Do not refine your idea until it vanishes. Instead, “dance with the one what brung ya!”

March 13, 2013

Southern Accents

By Sibella Giorello

I arrived in Virginia, all the way from Alaska.

Suddenly, all I wanted was a third ear. Those Southern accents! I couldn't hear enough of them!

Luxurious vowels. Intonations that added whole paragraphs into one well-spoken syllable. A southern woman could tilt her head at me -- a newspaper reporter -- and tell me everything I needed to know just by the way she said, "Uh-huh."

The South seemed lush and exotic. And wounded. Richmond, in particular.

During the Civil War, as was the Capitol of the Confederacy, Richmond watched Union soldiers gut their factories and poison their farms. The city was also set on fire -- by its own citizens. They decided to deny the Yankees that particular pleasure.

Our frostbitten textbooks up North mostly paid lip service to the Civil War. (Or, as the South taught me to say, "The War of Northern Aggression.")

When I started writing "The Stones Cry Out," I hoped readers would see, feel and maybe even understand a bit more about the South. Richmond seemed to me a city full of glory and horror, defeat and heroism. The perfect setting for a crime novel.

The Stones Cry Out went on to win a Christy Award, launching the series that features the redoubtable Raleigh Harmon -- forensic geologist, FBI agent, flawed and forgiven child of God. And purebred Southern girl.

But I've always wished my first novel showcased more of Richmond. Now it does.

With permission from the Library of Virginia, I recently added a dozen historic photographs to the E-book version of  The Stones Cry Out Readers can now see the bronzed statue of Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue, an awe-inspiring vista of the James River, and even a Pentecostal baptism in a river with the preacher wearing his best suit.

Now that readers can see so much more of wonderful place called the South, I expect they'll come away as fascinated as I was.

Per her author page on Amazon, "Sibella Giorello writes an award-winning mystery series that follows the adventures of Raleigh Harmon, forensic geologist and FBI Special Agent. A former journalist, Sibella sowed nearly every wild oat before settling down with her husband Joe, a blues musician from Queens N.Y. They homeschool their children in the mountains of Washington state." 
Twitter: @sibellagiorello  

March 12, 2013

Lighting is Everything

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

"A change is as good as a rest," my grandmother used to say.  I thought she came up with that one herself until I grew up and heard that other people's grandparents said the same thing.  It took me almost that long to appreciate the truth of that proverb.

A musician friend of mine jokes that when he starts to feel songwriter's block, it's time to buy a new instrument. (This fellow, for the record, has more guitars than songs he's actually written.) There is, however, validity to that concept.  If you're a songwriter who plays keyboard, just noodling around on a new synthesizer and having a different variety of sounds at your fingertips will get fresh ideas rolling around.  It inspires chords and progressions you simply never thought to try before.

The same image in black & white and in color
Professional photographers know that the difference between a good photo and a great photo is often in the lighting. You can be as keen and adventurous as you like with the angle, aperture settings and all the rest, but in the end, the proper illumination is critical to capture a classic shot. 

As writers, we seek to capture our vision through the lens of our pens.  When we find it hard to see what that vision is, it can help to see it in a different light, by taking in a change of scenery or trying a different approach.  If you write at your desk all the time, you're attached to the same keyboard, desk, walls, pictures on those walls, etc.  Certainly there's a lot to be said for familiarity, and the quiet environment of our office can be far more preferable to a busy coffee shop (unless you're Sandra Balzo and you're crafting Coffeehouse Mysteries).

But sometimes a bustling, noisy environment can be just the ticket to wake up your muse.  Has your mind ever taken a path less traveled while sitting on a mall bench, observing the madding crowd?  When you're away on vacation, aren't you itching to get back to your computer because of all the new ideas you can't wait to write?

If you write nonfiction exclusively, try your hand at a fiction piece; and vice versa.  If you write all your stories starting at the beginning, try writing the ending first and see what new inspiration comes. If you outline your novels, try writing your next one free form. You're guaranteed to see your familiar craft in a new light. 

Creativity finds its nucleus in change. We can emulate something that's gone before, but to make it something our own requires taking it in a different direction. Once in a while that begins with us trying something new ourselves. As the saying goes, "If you want something you've never had, then you've got to do something you've never done before."

When she told us that a change is as good as a rest, my grandma merely sought to convey that a change of pace can restore peace of mind.  In truth, change can be the spark that ignites the fire that helps us get our writing down.  That's the kind of peace we're always looking for.

March 11, 2013

Writing is My Life

By: Theresa Oliver

“I’ll live my life, and then when I get to old to live it, I’ll write about it.”

That’s what I used to think, but then I realized that I was wrong.

You must write about life as you live it.

Writing is my life. It always has been. I started writing when I was in high school. I hid in my room and wrote short stories, poetry, letters … virtually anything I could think of. I wrote my first short story The Door at 14 years of age, which I later rewrote and published in an anthology. Writing has always been therapeutic; a way to get my feelings out and onto paper. I loved escaping into the worlds I created, tagging along with my characters on their adventures.

Then, life happened. I still wrote when I could, but not like I wanted. So, later in life, I decided to go to college for writing. First, I earned my Associate of Arts degree at Palm Beach Community College, Lake Worth, Fla.

After my husband was laid off from U.S. Airways due to Sept. 11, 2001, we moved to Tennessee. It was then that I decided to pursue my dream of writing in earnest, so I enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Martin, Martin, Tenn., and earned my Bachelor of Arts in Communications degree, News Editorial sequence. While in attendance, I was pregnant with my youngest child. One semester I attended my classes; I had my baby over the summer, and went back for my final semester. Even though I had three children at home — and one a baby — I didn’t give up my dream of becoming a writer.

We moved back to Florida and I became the assistant layout editor for the Florida Catholic. While in college and working, I wrote and published over 125 news articles. Although I loved feature writing, it just wasn’t enough.

I missed writing fiction. Then life happened again and we moved to Georgia. There, I earned my Master of Arts in Teaching, Early Childhood Education sequence, from Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Ga., and became a teacher.

I almost thought that my writing days were over when I remembered the infamous words of one of my professors, Dr. Richard Robinson, at UTM. When I told him I wanted to write a book, he told me simply, “Well, what’s stopping you? You only need a pencil and paper—and maybe a computer.”

He was right.

Soon, I wrote my first novel, “Cambria, Cambria Series, Book1.” Even though it was very rough and I had to revise it several times before publication, I had written my first novel. Then I read Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer after a recommendation from a fellow teacher. I read the whole Twilight Saga within a week over a Christmas break. After reading the series, Stephenie Meyer inspired me to write young adult fiction.

I stumbled across the Stephanie Meyer Facebook fan site, ran by two fans, Nikki Shah and Dana Piazzi. I began entering their writing contests and won several when Nikki encouraged me to create my own short story page. After some deliberation, I decided to take the plunge. Soon, I found myself writing four novels at the same time, posting the chapters of each on Theresa Oliver’s Short Story Page and a fan base quickly grew.

Then, I was accepted by a publishing company, where two of my short stories were published in two different anthologies: The Christmas Cottage was accepted in A Home for theHolidays, and The Door was accepted in 13 Tales of theParanormal.

Soon I published Star, Starland Vamp Series, Book 1, and my publishing company Write More Publications was born. Now I have signed 15 authors and their novels.

So the moral of this blog post is never to give up. If you want to become a writer, what’s stopping you? In the infamous words of Dr. Richard Robinson, “You only need a pencil and paper—and maybe a computer.”
Theresa Oliver is the author of Cambria, Cambria Series,Book 1and Star, StarlandVamp Series, Book 1. Her novel Thou Shalt Not Kill is coming soon from Write More Publications, along with her first children’s picture book Crystal the Christmas Angel, and Five Loaves, Two Fish, One Boy and Jesus. Oliver will also publish her first middle grades book A Horse Named Dog, coming soon from Write More Publications, as well. For more from Theresa Oliver, please visit her at or on Facebook at Theresa Oliver’s Short Story Page and her author page, Theresa Oliver. Oliver is also the owner of Write More Publications, which you can visit at and on Facebook at Write More Publications.