November 29, 2013

Improv and the Storyteller

By Shelly Frome

Way back then it was called winging it. Meaning you had to be quick on your feet and able to talk your way into or out of any situation on the spur of the moment. Being witty was a virtue. Effective talkers, we were told, were self-possessed and had a distinct advantage over the rest of us.

Keeping this in mind, way back then I found myself on stage with three pros from the famed Second City troupe out of Chicago. Admittedly, I didn’t really know what was going on but when given an offer of, “Hey, your shoes are untied,” I began to babble. I was on, good grief everyone was looking at me, what if I failed? What if I failed miserably?

The interesting thing was, the more I pushed it, the worse it got. I carried on about the dire consequences that could befall me if I tripped and fell. The ambulance, my screaming out in pain, the driver stepping on the throttle, the crash—on and on until it became hopeless. Nothing was happening, just me carrying on. The other two players had nothing to do but stand there and wait until I finally painted myself in a corner and gave up.

I soon learned you simply had to take the other players into account. That in order to create a scenario—any scenario--there had to be a who, where and what that involved everyone. No matter how bland the offer, what came of it could turn into something lively.

For instance, the person tossing out “Hey, your shoes are untied,” is actually starting something. As in, “There you go again.” Instead of babbling and going off on a tangent, an ongoing relationship could have reached a semi-crisis. If I had known what I was doing, I could have ignored her, taken off my jacket, threw it in a corner, kicked off my shoe and plopped down on a chair as if daring her to do anything about it. As she stood over me, at a loss shaking her head, the third player, realizing she must be a key element in a dysfunctional marriage (an in-law perhaps) could’ve jumped in, snatched up the shoe and the jacket, confronted my wife and said, “Blanche, that does it. Are you really going to put up with this ne’er-do-well? Either he goes or you’ve seen the last of me and my money.”

Not that any of this is brilliant. It’s only that the dialogue only comes about because it has to. The story is there because it’s built-in not cobbled-on.

Needless to say, I quickly learned my lesson. I try to make sure everyone who appears in my novels has a stake in the action. I try never to force the issue. If I’m lucky enough to have set up an engaging set of circumstances, more often than not the tale will become almost self-generating. With me as a guide, they’ll be a gap between what any central character wants. His or her drive, in turn, will cause complications, greater effort as a result and even greater complications as the tale rides on its own momentum.

If I’ve creating a good enough dynamic, every character will have a part to play that either helps or hinders and propels the story forward. In that way, I can allow some pretty interesting events to unfold.
Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University  of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of mysteries, books on theater and film, and articles on the performing arts appearing in a number of periodicals in the U.S. and the U.K.. His fiction includes Tinseltown Riff, Lilac Moon, Sun Dance for Andy Horn and the trans-Atlantic cozy The Twinning Murders. Among his works of non-fiction are the acclaimed TheActors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. His latest novel is Twilight of the Drifter. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina. His works can be found on Amazon, through his publishers or via independent bookstores. He can be found at and has a profile on Facebook where he can be reached or on twitter @shellyFrome.

November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Every seven years, or so, Thanksgiving falls "late" in November, just like this year, leaving only three shopping weekends before Christmas. 

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, began on November 27 and ends on Thursday, December 5th. For the first time since 1888, it falls during Thanksgiving and has been called by some, "Thanksgivingukkah." This will not occur again for almost another 78,000 years. Hanukkah, normally is celebrated around the time of Christmas or slightly earlier but usually not this early. 

Because of these dates in 2013, retail folks have been thrown into a panic mode, worried about a lost weekend of sales. I can't remember a time when Christmas holiday sales, ad campaigns, and staged "panic shopping" started before Halloween. Retailers are desperately wanting us to focus on coming to their establishments to shop and buy them out before the turkey is even put in the oven. Let the "Thanksgrabbing" begin? 

Whoa, Nelly the whole reason we have the holiday of Thanksgiving is to allow us to join together, reflect on our bounty, and celebrate with family and friends. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it as a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens," in 1863. 

We really owe Thanksgiving being a holiday to the writer, Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, author of the nursery rhyme, "Mary Had a Little Lamb." She began a vigorous and methodical campaign that lasted 17 years to officially establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Previously, it was celebrated only in New England and was largely unknown in the South and West. 

So, thank you author, Sarah Josepha Buell Hale. Although we are writers in very different centuries, I appreciate and will celebrate Thanksgiving due to your steadfast efforts. I will reflect and enjoy the day you envisioned for our nation. Today, with family and friends, we will raise a glass in toast to your brilliant dream for our nation and give thanks for our many blessings and say, "Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!"

November 27, 2013

Renewed, Re-visited, Restored, Re-told

By Ruth Logan Herne

It’s all in the “spin”. Or, to hear Bill O’Reilly tell it, “The “spin” stops here.”

Told and retold. Every author is familiar with the saying, “There are no new stories, only old stories, re-visited.”

That’s true in a lot of ways, and when you look at the vast number of books now available, the prospect of being new and fresh seems daunting, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. And why not?
Because they’re not Y-O-U.

Every author is unique. Styles vary. Opinions cover a wide range. And just knowing that your vantage point of a story might be different from any other persons can give you the forward thrust needed. Crime scene interviews demonstrate this plainly. If you interview five different eye-witnesses, they’re going to give you five disparate stories and descriptions. Why? They’re all reporting on the exact same crime.
1.       Vantage point. We can only “see” what’s visible from our location, and that view is unique to us and our story.
2.       Experience. Each witness is an individual with life experiences (or lack thereof) that color their point of view. When you translate that into character, their perceptions will be based on (and follow) their personal history.
3.       Line of sight variations. What we “see” is not always what’s there. Our mind will fill in ‘blanks’, a lot like that word puzzle that travels the Internet, showing how the mind will subsidize for missing letters. So we may think we see something that doesn’t really occur. Your characters may make assumptions the same way, creating their own new layer of conflict.
4.       Hearing. Sound is an under-used sense in a lot of first-drafts, and the subtleties of what the characters hear… and how they perceive the sound… layer their characters and possibly the plot. Step outside your scenes and look, listen and learn, then make sure what you’ve written speaks to the reader in such a way as to command their attention with warmth, humor, pathos, etc. Draw them into the room your characters share.
5.       Emotional punch. Our five witnesses just saw a crime committed. Each one will be affected in different ways based on that person’s character/past/experience/youth, etc. As you explore the emotional punch of your story through your characters’ mindsets, you’ll deliver your own version of that same old tale…

Renewed. Re-visited. Restored. Re-told!

I love to write about small towns. A skeptic might think that every small-town-in-America story has been told. They’re wrong. You can look around the average small town for a week and find enough story fodder to develop a book or a series of books on the standard give-and-take of the inhabitants. The same is true in any genre. Don’t re-invent the wheel. It’s unnecessary. Just use your version of the wheel to get the job done.
Ruth Logan Herne is a multi-published, award-winning author of a dozen 4 and 4.5 Star contemporary romance novels with Harlequin’s “Love Inspired Books” division, the Christian imprint of Harlequin Enterprises. Her latest novel, “Falling for the Lawman” is available in stores and online now. She loves small towns and the quirks therein! Born into poverty, Ruthy’s a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of gal who loves God, her family, chocolate, dogs and coffee. You can find her on Facebook, visit her at or her blog at or find encouragement for authors with Ruthy and her Seekerville friends at, voted a Writers’ Digest 101 Best Website for Writers award-winner.

November 26, 2013

Thank Yous

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

A few days ago, I was thumbing through a book of quotes and came across this one. It immediately struck me how important the quote was.

I decided to include this quote in my post today. “When you read a piece of writing that you admire, send a note of thanks to the author” by Sherman Alexie. He is a poet, an author, screenwriter and filmmaker.

It occurred to me that instead of notes, we go to Amazon and do a review for the author. This, in itself, is wonderful. We need to do this for the author – it lets the author as well as people searching for books to read know this is a book worth reading. (That is, if you left a good review.) If you don’t do this, please consider starting. Remember, they work to bring these books into the world for your enjoyment.

When I read the quote above I thought with email, this should be a piece of cake. Authors have websites with contact information. So a short email telling them we enjoyed their book would be so appreciated by the author. But if I take it a step further, I could also tell them what I liked the most. It is such a small thing to do that would mean so much to the author. Most people don’t have access to an author’s snail mail address but they can send an email.

So next time you read a book that you enjoy, go to your computer, and send the author a note telling them how much you enjoyed their book. “Make their day.”

November 25, 2013

The Two-Sentence Pulse Test

By Deborah Valentine

“Why did you write this? What story do you want to tell?” — Kate Leys

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? So obvious. Yet... this succinct two-sentence quote by the renowned script editor Kate Leys, who has worked on such films as Four Weddings and a FuneralTrainspotting and The Full Monty, is like a finger on the pulse. Why did you write your novel (or screenplay)? What story do you want to tell? Funnily enough, this can be surprisingly easy to lose sight of in a mist of pretty words.

Writing a screenplay is a completely different discipline from writing a novel, so you might — quite rightly — ask, why the quote from a script editor?

Because the basic principle holds true. When you write a script, there are no poetic narratives, no long drawn-out character descriptions and only the gist of the action sequences. There are no internal monologues (you can’t, after all, see one onscreen). It’s a blueprint. You cut back to the spine of the story and, carefully choosing each word, hope you’ve amassed enough of those precisely chosen words that your eventual collaborators will illustrate your vision on film. Okay, they won’t... not exactly. The old adage is when you make a film there’s three stories: the one the screenwriter wrote, the one the director filmed and the one after editing the producers released into the cinema. Films are all about collaboration.

Ah... but a novel. With a novel, the writer is not just the writer, but set designer, cinematographer, director, actor, stunt coordinator, et al... you are the ultimate multi-tasker (or less kindly, megalomaniac). There is poetic prose, there are lengthy character descriptions and if there’s action, a blow-by-blow account. And internal monologues? We thrive on them! And that’s what makes those two sentences from Ms Leys all the more important. It can be very easy when creating a whole world, a world we may be enamored with, to start putting in (or ignore taking out during the editing process) things that don’t serve the story. We can get a bit up our own... well; I’ll leave it to your imagination to supply the word.

A film industry friend read a draft of The Knightmare and suggested I adapt it as a screenplay. ‘It’s cinematic!’ he bellowed. So I did. All I can say is: Thank you, God. Thank you that I did it pre-publication. Because in stripping the story to its bare essentials — and changing it to serve the requirements of the screen — I got back to: What story did I want to tell? Why did I want to tell it?
No, I didn’t rewrite the novel to match the screenplay. Again, they are different disciplines. But it did hook me back into the pulse of the story — it’s very lifeblood. Even if you don’t want to write screenplays, as an exercise in storytelling, I recommend trying it. And isn’t it always fun to get out the stethoscope and play ‘Doctor’?
Deborah Valentine is a British author, editor and screenwriter who once lived in California but far preferred the British weather and fled to London, where she has resided for many years. She is the author of three books published by Victor Gollancz Ltd in the UK, and Bantam and Avon in the US. Unorthodox Methods was the first in the series, followed by A Collector of Photographs and the Ireland-based Fine Distinctions. A Collector ofPhotographs was short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe, a Shamus, a Macavity and an Anthony Boucher award. Fine Distinctions was also short-listed for an Edgar. They feature the characters of former California sheriff Kevin Bryce and artist Katharine Craig, charting their turbulent romance amid murder and mayhem. They are soon to be available as eBooks on the Orion imprint The Murder Room. With the publication of The Knightmare, she has embarked on a new series of books with a supernatural theme. She is currently working on its sequel, Who is Huggermugger Jones?. She is a Goodreads author.

November 22, 2013

Are Your Characters Haunted?

By Lisa M. Logan

If you don’t engage the reader within the first five pages with strong characters, conflict and obstacles, that reader will ditch your book.  I find that creating a main character who is haunted makes for an enticing read.  The reason is that we all ruminate about as to why other people do what they do.  Readers want to find out what makes a character tick emotionally.  It’s human nature and it intrigues readers. 

Think about what haunts you.  If you could change a decision you made in life, what would it be?  As we age, we collect more regrets and mistakes that haunt us throughout life.  Write those down.  I keep a journal of instances that are poignant to me and how I felt at the moment.

The main character of my novel in House of Mirrors is literally haunted by the ghost of her daughter as well as other ghosts she’s ushered in through mirror gazing and conjuring.  However, Eleanor is also haunted by her guilt for leaving the child in the bathtub alone for a split second to answer the phone.  The guilt gnaws at her throughout the story.  This same type of gnawing guilt haunts Jack Torrance in Stephen King’s The Shining.  Jack is haunted by something bad he did in the past to his son.  He can’t stop thinking about it throughout the story.  It haunts him and we wonder and worry if he will hurt the boy again.  This haunting of Jack’s conscience gives him more depth as a character.  We get to know him and empathize with his guilt.  We see that he’s not all bad.  He’s a concerned father who did a very bad thing in the past which he regrets.  This back story is crucial throughout the story and may be the seed that’s planted at the beginning only to grow into its ugliest form later in the story’s climax. 

Hauntings don’t always involve ghosts.  A character can be haunted by an emotion like guilt or jealousy.  This emotion can be the driving force in a story and it’s revealed through the character’s back story.  But you don’t want to beat the reader over the head with exposition.  Reveal the character’s back story through subtle cues, slips of the tongue, or going silent at the mention of something that triggers their haunt.

Backstory creates a character’s emotional core and that’s the driving force behind the character’s actions and reactions to situations in the story.  We as readers empathize with the emotions of betrayal, grief, jealousy, and so on.  When a writer presses those emotional triggers in the reader, he’s guiding that reader deeper into the hypnotic dreamland of his story.  Try not to broadcast the character’s emotions through telling, but rather by showing the emotion through their actions and cues. Instead of using words such as “frightened,” “scared,” “puzzled”; use actions, body language, and thoughts to indicate what lies behind these feelings and actions.  For instance, show fear in a character by having his hands tremble as he loads bullets into the chamber of a gun and winces when some bullets tumble out of his hand. Don’t just say “He was overcome with fear as he loaded the gun.”

So if you want to show a character’s back story or personal “haunt” in a novel, gradually drop hints; don’t overpower the reader with “telling” details about the character’s past.  In other words, don’t show all your cards on the poker table; keep them guessing and gradually reveal your hand.
Lisa M. Logan is a screenwriter, novelist, and journalist from North Carolina. Her novel "House of Mirrors" is available on Amazon's kindle store as well as her short story collection "Of the People." Lisa Logan started out writing articles for Our State magazine and profile articles for the N.C. Literary Review, interviewing various North Carolina authors of fiction. Her own creative works were published in several issues of the Raleigh News and Observer's short fiction section Sunday Reader. Lisa's passion for screenwriting led to freelancing for a national screenwriter's magazine Creative Screenwriting in which she wrote features, interviewing Hollywood screenwriters, high-level film producers, directors, and actors.Blog located at

November 21, 2013

An Unbiased Decision

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Matt Moore is an NCAA SEC football official. He officiates as the referee, the one that can be seen in a white hat and an R on his back standing some distance behind the quarterback. Matt is one of the best, if not the best, officials in the business. He has the respect of his peers and has served as the President of the Southeastern Conference Football Officials Association.   

Matt and other officials are under intense scrutiny and graded by a committee on their weekly performances. Their grades determine post season assignments like playoffs and bowl games. Matt has scored the highest in the past and has had this honor and officiating the 2010 SEC Championship Game and the 2013 Orange Bowl among others. 

As a referee his job is to make calls based on an unbiased decision and if well done his performance will be forgettable to the average fan. As you can see from his photographs not everyone is always happy with his decision nor do some feel it to be unbiased. There are critics and conflict but that is expected, that is part of the job. 

As writers we should seek out critics, editors and the like in order to hone our skills. When we do, it may not always be pleasant for us. When our critic does a good job it may not be forgettable. But unlike the referee’s call, though it can be challenged, the critics call is not the last word. It is an offering and should be considered as such. 

You have to make the decision to follow it or not and when you do be ready to face that decision.  

To increase your odds of getting good advice I would follow those qualities we see in Matt Moore. Look for one of the best. Look for someone that is respected by their peers; someone that has past success and has been recognized for it; someone that is unbiased. Like the referee’s calls not all are easy to swallow but they do tell you a lot about the way the game is being played. Give consideration to the calls you get and be open minded. It may truly change your game as a writer.             

November 20, 2013

Faith in Your Writing Can Produce a Harvest of Gold

By Tessa Afshar

In a recent interview, Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner, who has sold over 38 million books, wrote: The temptation to give up, to surrender, is very, very strong. And you have to have faith in the work that you’re doing. You have to have faith that as dark and unlikely and as dreary as things may seem, that it’s worth pursuing.     

Most writers need to contend with the temptation to give up. I have three published books, with a contract for the fourth. Recently, we celebrated the launch of my third book, Harvest of Gold, in the Mark Twain House and Museum. I was the first inspirational writer they sponsored. The event marked the largest turnout of any author event they had promoted in their home venue. Their bookstore sold out of my books and they included me in the list of their summer reading brochure. And yet, I came home that evening wondering if I should surrender. Give up already.     

Because writing is hard. It means constant sacrifice. Even giants like Hosseini get to the point of wanting to throw in the towel on a certain project. So how do you resist that temptation? How do you hold on to a work that has potential, or even to the dream of writing itself?     

While I don’t have a remedy for discouragement, I have several sources of strength to which I turn when discouragement descends.     

First, for me, writing is not a hobby. It’s not even a job. It is a call. I believe I was created to do this. The Bible says that God created us in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us (Ephesians 2:10). I believe, in my life, part of that work is writing. So what shall I say when things become hard or seem untenable? Shall I walk away from God’s purpose? Shall I ditch my destiny just because it’s hard?     

Second, I have writing partners whose opinion I trust. If they felt I was wasting my time over a certain project, they would tell me. Just as they wouldn’t let me walk out the door with toilet paper stuck to my skirt, they wouldn’t let me work on a book that had nothing to offer.     

Writing makes me myopic. I can’t tell good from bad in my own work when I am too close to it. I tend to have a negative perception of my writing. It’s easy for me to think doom and gloom about my work. So I trust my critique partners to help me discern whether my perceptions of failure are accurate.     

Third, I take a break. If I am under a deadline, that break might be for a few hours. If I have the luxury of time, I step away for a week in order to gain a fresh perspective.     

Most of us struggle with some degree of discouragement. You don’t win victory by never having such feelings, but by resisting them. By overcoming and fulfilling your destiny.
Tessa Afshar was voted “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011 for her novel, Pearl in the Sand. Her book, Harvest of Rubies was nominated for the 2013 ECPA Book Award (formerly known as the Gold Medalion) in the fiction category and won the Grace Award for best Women’s Fiction in the same year. World Magazine chose Harvest of Rubies as one of four notable books of the year. Tessa was born in Iran to a nominally Muslim family, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last fourteen years in full-time Christian service in New England.

November 19, 2013

Who's on First?

by Gary Fearon, Southern Writers Creative Director

At the beginning of every story, the audience is ready to meet the new set of characters you've dreamed up for them.  One of the challenges in writing that opening scene can be deciding which of your characters your audience will meet first.

Protagonist, in its original Greek, means "first in importance".  While this person will be the central figure of the story, we don't necessarily need to make them the first to appear.  There will be times when it's advantageous to bring them in later.

Taking a cue from stage plays, especially musicals, the star of the show is often saved until the end of the big opening number.  In West Side Story, both street gangs establish their roughhouse hatred for one another in song and dance long before we ever meet Tony or Maria.  In many cases, this is to allow a Broadway star to make their own magnificent entrance.  But this approach can also allow for a little discussion about the hero before they arrive on the scene, if we need some advance information about their importance. 

Then again, in The Addams Family musical, the entire ensemble (complete with stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth) appeared onstage from the get-go.  These familiar characters needed no introduction, and the sum of the whole had much greater initial impact than if they had been introduced individually.

And there's The Sound of Music, which begins with the heroine, Julie Andrews, singing solo in a meadow.  We learn up front how much both music and the beautiful country she lives in mean to her before anything else takes place.

One of the most inventive character introductions I've ever read started with opening paragraphs describing a fellow walking through a college campus.  It spoke of him appreciating the seasonal decorations and other pleasant details, and at one point he stopped along the way to help someone.  Without a word of dialogue, and without knowing much about this fellow, we already identified with him and liked him. When this fellow arrived at his destination, which turned out to be hiding behind the girls' locker room, the tide began to turn in a very uncomfortable way.  The author had managed to make the reader bond unwittingly with the villain of the story.  Disquieting, and brilliant.

In a murder mystery, the bad guy will often appear before the hero does, if only in shadow.  By the time Perry Mason is called in, the adventure has begun and he gets to play hero from his very first scene. We never see him lounging at his desk with his feet up waiting for something to happen, because it already has.  This tactic is typical in most series, where we are already familiar with the lead character who will carry the adventure.

Who the audience should be introduced to first can sometimes be determined by their role in the story. Will everything revolve around their wants and needs, with a huge character arc taking place?  Or are they more a participant in a bigger theme (like class warfare, as in Romeo and Juliet)?  That bigger conflict may be the thing to establish first.

So whether you place your protagonist in the first paragraph or save them for a grand entrance, this most important character in your story deserves a proper introduction via fortuitous timing.

And speaking of timing, for those of you who came here expecting Abbott & Costello, why not take a break and check out the rapid-fire repartee of these vintage vaudevillians.  If you're a writer who hates to revise, you may be inspired to know that this now-classic routine was originally written as "Who's the Boss?"

November 18, 2013

How Do You Balance a Full Time Job and Writing?

By Stephanie Payne Hurt

Juggling a job and family can be hard to do sometimes, but when you add writing into the mix it can get hectic. As a busy Accountant I put in a lot of hours, but I’m also a Children’s Minister too, not to mention a mother, wife and writer. It’s amazing how I find little pockets of time here and there to write.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the year since I published my first book. I was overwhelmed at first, but as time went by I realized the dream I’d had since I was a teenager had come true. I was a published writer. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager which was a long time ago and we won’t talk about how long.

The first step to finding the time is to make a list of your jobs. Sit down and make a schedule. I learned that I could clean house on Saturday mornings and spend the afternoon writing. I also realized that while I was sitting at night watching television I could have my laptop in my lap writing. I usually do my best writing while sitting with my family at night.

Prioritizing my day has helped a lot. I’ve even set up a schedule in my Accounting office to make sure that I get everything that needs to be done completed, but I also have time in the mornings to blog, tweet and do my author promotions. It’s amazing how much time I wasted just going through the normal day to day things.

In 2012 I published 6 novels, which amazed me. My first was “Ghost Lover” and it was all uphill from there. I was never a social butterfly so doing the social media round was a little daunting, but I managed it. Now I’m on every site I can manage. I now have 9 books published and 5 in progress. I could never do all this without my wonderful assistant. She edits my books, all I do is tell her my idea for a cover, and she designs it. I write contemporary romance, Christian romance and historical.

So if you have the desire to write, you can find the time if you prioritize. Don’t let your dreams die, but let them flourish and take flight. You’ll be glad you did. The fans you meet through writing can be great people and the support you get is amazing. It’s great to hear from fans. I’ve now got people from all over the world writing to me and asking for advice or just to tell me how they like my books. It always makes this southern girl smile.
Stephanie Hurt lives in Georgia with her husband and teenage son. She’s an Accountant, Children’s Minister and Author. I’m passionate about everything I do. My hobbies include writing, playing piano, painting, reading (lots of reading), horses and gardening. I enjoy working with children and teaching them about our Savior. It’s been a wonderful ride, this life, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe a couple of things Stephanie’s contacts:Website:

November 15, 2013

Time Management for Authors

By Mary Ellis

In my blissful, pre-published days, I erroneously believed that once an author received the coveted “call” and turned in a complete manuscript, she could relax and put her feet up. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being published means honoring contracts in a timely fashion, along with a multitude of details. No longer was I squeezing time to “write a book” into my daily routine of tending home, family and day job. With each new release, the juggling act increases from three balls in the air, to four, five or even six. Let’s take a look at how five projects could potentially demand your attention simultaneously:

First, there’s the book you’re currently writing and editing, according to your publisher’s expectations for word count, sensual level, etc.

Secondly, the book you recently submitted is by no means done. A plethora of add-ons must be finished before the book heads to the printer, such as developmental edits, line edits, back cover copy, book cover and trailer suggestions, and blurbs or excerpts for catalogs and sales brochures.

Thirdly, if this was a series, chances are a book was recently released and requires promotion. Your title will either sink or swim during the first several, crucial months. An author must get the word out to readers through blog or radio interviews, website and newsletter giveaways, and book signings, along with social media. Otherwise, with so many fine books releasing each year, how will potential readers find yours?

Fourthly, an author needs to research the next book she intends to write, and that often involves travel or at least long hours spent in the library. Not everything on the internet can be trusted for accuracy, especially with historical fiction.

And finally, what happens when your current beloved series draws to a close? If you don’t wish to be out of a job, you must devise an irresistible proposal that your publisher simply cannot turn down. Publishing houses consider projects well in advance, so authors need to think far down the line too. Considering all this stress, hard work and long hours, you might conclude that I’m complaining. Nothing would be farther from the truth. I love being an author, and pray each night for God to make me a better juggler.  Happy writing!
Mary Ellis grew up near the Amish and fell in love with them. She has now written ten bestselling novels set in their communities. When not writing, she enjoys gardening, bicycling, and swimming. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Her debut Christian book, ,A Widow's Hope was a finalist for the 2010 ACFW Carol Awards. Living in Harmony, book one of her current series won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction. Book 3, A Little Bit of Charm, will release in late August from Harvest House. An Amish Miracle, a novella collection from Thomas Nelson, will release in November. She is currently working on a  historical romance series set during the Civil War. The Quaker and The Rebel is coming January 1st, 2014. She can be found on the web at: