January 31, 2014

How to Build a Platform

By Pamela Christian

One of my mentors, an author of several successfully published books, recently shared that his most recent book was turned down. I was astounded. The reason? The publisher didn’t think he had sufficient platform.

At first that didn’t make sense to me since he has a loyal reader following. But then it made all the sense in the world because he doesn’t utilize the Internet. He admits that marketing is not something he wants to do. He’d rather spend his time writing and churning out well-crafted books. Then he said with a chuckle, “I guess I am an official dinosaur in this new world of publishing books.”

I’m exceedingly grateful I have a marketing background and I actually enjoy marketing. If you don’t, you need to get up to speed or you will be on your way of becoming a fossil.

Whether you publish independent or through a publishing house, the marketing and selling of you books falls on your shoulders. If you can’t personally do the marketing, you at least need to understand the basics so you know what to expect from someone you hire.

Embrace the Internet

Guy Kawsaki and Shawn Welch wrote an excellent book that every author should have, APE How to Publish a Book. They spend a lot of ink on the topic of platform. It’s no secret that the Internet has replaced many forms of traditional marketing. This is actually especially great for new authors. With the right efforts, a new author can level the playing field and compete with best selling authors.

Understand Social Network Marketing

Think of Social Network Marketing as an electronic version of word of mouth advertising, which is precisely what it is. Word of mouth advertising is the least expensive and most effective. But to get exponential word of mouth promotions, you need to establish relationship. There are billions of people using the Internet. Simply starting your own blog will not attract people. You have to find your target audience, establish relationship in various networks and communities and then people will be open to purchasing your book—just like any other sales effort.

Start Building Platform Before You Write Your Book

At minimum, Kawsaki/Welch suggests an author should have 5,000 followers to successfully market. This takes quite a bit of time to build. If you don’t have that yet, don’t let that deter you from moving ahead. Stopping in this market-culture means your footprint will soon be extinct. Determine which social network sites best reach your target audience. Establish your accounts and post regularly. 

Your posts need to give people insight to you, what you’re about and provide some value for them. Give your followers reasons to come back, subscribe and most importantly tell others about your site. Yes, it takes some of your time to consistently post compelling content, but its cost-free marketing. I recommend Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform:Get Noticed in a Noisy World “offers a step-by-step guide for anyone with something to say or sell.”
Pamela Christian, “the Faith Doctor,” has been helping people in matters of faith. Pam compassionately wants people to confidently discover and live in, life-giving truth. Her ministry experience began as Teaching Director for Community Bible Study, (an independent, interdenominational, international organization). This led to her receiving invitations to speak nationally, followed by work as radio talk-show host in two major markets. She is a contributing writer to various books and magazines. Her education includes a certificate in apologetics from Biola University. As a book author and media personality, Pam's desire is to reach as many people as possible. She and her husband live in Orange County, CA, with their two grown children living nearby. Pam’s newest and first in a three-book series, Examine Your Faith! Finding Truth in a World of Lies, See the book trailer and learn more at

January 30, 2014

A Writers Group Can Lead to Intergalactic Fame or Not

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Many writers join writers groups but are initially unaware of the reason other than being with their own, those that love to write, love to read and love the art of being a wordsmith. They eventually learn that it enforces their belief of being a writer and from the fellowship comes strong and lasting bonds, working relationships and the like. Caryl McAdoo of the Northeast Texas region is a great example of this.   

“I wanted to write a book and be an author since my youth. Assigned a homework essay on what I’d be doing in the year 2000, I wrote about being an intergallacticly famous author hopping from planet to planet autographing books! Not so totally ridiculous in the mind of a twelve-year-old since they were talking about sending men to the moon, but what can I say? The space program didn’t live up to my expectations.”

Caryl McAdoo always wanted to be a writer but it was her husband Ron that inspired her and led the way. An early manuscript led her to the Dallas Fort Worth Writer’s Workshop in the summer of 1993. She joined and right away offered up her manuscript for critique. After a brutal critique, Don Whittington, a published author in the group, took us aside and asked if were ok. This led to a mentor relationship with Wittington, John McCord and Jack Ballas. “They took us under their wing.” They would stay after the meetings and work with us until the wee hours of the morning if necessary.
Caryl was also able to meet a member of the group that had ties with a publishing company. This relationship led to having several books published and recommendations for others.

Caryl highly recommends to anyone wanting to write, get into a good writing group. Caryl said, “one that won’t always slap you on the back and tell you what a great chapter you wrote. A writer needs critique to improve.” Today Caryl and Ron are mentors. They enjoy a read and critique session every week passing their knowledge forward.

You too can experience the benefits of a writers group such as the McAdoos did. Being a part of one myself I can say many of their experiences I have seen occur in our group. Find a group near you and begin an exciting relationship with writers in your area. The benefits may not lead to intergalactic fame but they can be unlimited.  

Look for Caryl in the March/April issue on Southern Writers Magazine. Caryl’s latest book Vow Unbroken coming out on March 4th. Caryl McAdoo and husband Ron are the Directors of the 2014 Northeast Texas Writer’s Organization Writers Conference, April 24th and 25th. See our Conference Site for more details.

January 29, 2014

Experience Counts

By Fran McNabb/Fran Fisher

“Write what you know.” All writers have heard that statement before. When we write we can’t get away from who we are and what we’ve experienced. Writing what we know doesn’t mean we have to write about our life stories. It simply means that what we have experienced in our real life lends itself to the worlds we create.

In one of my book,FOREVER, MY LOVE by Fran Fisher, I use a pristine island in the Gulf of Mexico and a Civil War fort as part of the setting. The germ for that story was planted when I was a child. My mother’s family ran the ferry boat to the island and worked the concessions on the island. While I was in elementary school, my mom, dad, brother and I lived and worked on the island as well. When an unexpected storm developed, everyone sought shelter in the fort. Lying on a cot in a room where men lived and died hundreds of years ago is as vivid for me today as it was when I was that little girl.

An apparition appears in the story. Do I believe in ghosts? At first, I’d say no, but when I think about that night and the feelings I had as I lay with only the light of a kerosene lantern, I’m not so sure. I felt that story as I wrote it. I knew what I was describing and how my characters must’ve felt.

I used that setting again in one of my Fran McNabb sweet historical romances, ON THE CREST OF A WAVE. This book involves a Union officer stationed on Ship Island and a Confederate girl trying to survive the war. As a child playing along those sandy beaches and in that fort, I was forming images in my mind that I would use in these two books.

Whether authors realize it or not, when they choose a setting, a theme, a character, or a plot, they have the best tools right at their fingertips, their own experiences. An author might not have actually slept in a fort as I did, but they’ve experienced bad weather and a possible electrical outage where darkness surrounded them and the imagination worked overtime. We can take those feelings and transfer them from one instance in our lives to what we’re writing. We can describe them with enough passion to help readers feel what we feel. We want them to be pulled into our writings by emotions and actions that they understand.

Writers should not ignore their past. The beauty of the mountains, the laugh of a child, and the hug of a grandparent—anything can spark an idea for your next story.

Our feelings are universal. Let’s share them.
Fran McNabb, who also writes as Fran Fisher, grew up along the waterways and beaches of the Gulf Coast. She uses these settings in most of her nine published books. As Fran McNabb, she wrote tender romances for Avalon Books, and now for Montlake Publishing. One of her Avalon books, ON THE CREST OF A WAVE, was a finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Award.
She and her husband live on a quiet bayou and spend quite a bit of time boating and enjoying the water. She also loves presenting workshops about writing and publishing. Visit Fran at    and    http://www.FranMcNabb.comTwitter:  Fran Fisher:  @FranAuthor, Fran Mcnabb:  @FranMcNabb Facebook:  Fran L. McNabb

January 28, 2014

The Internet Newspaper - 33 Years Ago

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

When my boss at the time bought the company's first fax machine in the mid-80s, it was the beginning of a love-hate relationship.  For all its promise of modern convenience, it was a noisy, undependable monstrosity that took up too much space in the mail room.  Still, we regarded it with a certain awe, because it was, after all, from the future.

Little did any of us know that something even more Jetsons-worthy was coming down the pikethe Internet.  Developers were already taking the concept of transmission by telephone and expanding it to a global network.  This 1981 video provides an entertaining flashback to an early experiment in online publishing:


We may chuckle now at its naivety and perhaps even short-sightedness, but at a deeper level it's exciting to consider that right now, someone somewhere is working on an innovation that, within a few years, will revolutionize what we currently consider the state of the art in communication and publishing.

I thrill to the fact that I haven't had to keep the Yellow Pages in my desk for years, nor be discouraged that the book I want to use for research is in the Reference section and I can't take it home.  Now we can look up anything we like from the comfort of our keyboard.  And the time we save via immediate search results gives us more time to browse for things like Cats That Look Like Hitler.

But the best part is, we are all publishers now.  Andy Warhol's legendary prediction about everyone being famous for 15 minutes seems as antiquated as that 1981 video, now that everyone is online.  For the price of a domain, anyone can be a worldwide web celeb. 

As writers, we have even more to gain by spearheading this avalanche of words. Inexpensive exposure and an audience beyond anything we can imagine is right at our fingertips whenever we sit down at the computer.

Next time you read a newspaper headline online or write a blog post, thank those visionary newspaper people who helped put the power of the press into our hands. They probably innovated themselves right out of a job. 

January 27, 2014

To Outline or Not

By H.W.“Buzz” Bernard

A question I often hear asked of novelists, at least by other writers, is whether they outline before beginning to hammer out a manuscript. Or, do they just sit down, an idea aborning in their mind, and began to craft their tale?

The majority of authors, it seems, develop some sort of outline. I say, “Some sort,” because there is no standardized style of outline. It’s basically whatever the writer feels comfortable with, whatever gets the job done.

Outline types range from perhaps a single page of scribbled notes to what sounds to me like an excruciatingly detailed delineation: a one- or two-page synopsis for each chapter. Again, there’s no style guide here, no right or wrong way of doing things. If it works for you, it’s the right way.

What works for me is to get down a couple of pages of thoughts, including major turning points, key scenes and the conclusion--or at least where I’d like to end up. In my most recent novel, Supercell, I had two alternate endings in mind and really didn’t know which would work best until I got there.

You see, an outline for me is just a guide. I know I must get from Point A to Point B, but I don’t know howuntil I start writing. The characters and circumstances dictate my route. That, to me, is the fun of crafting fiction. As Robert Frost said, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”

To draw a military analogy to outlining, I view an outline as a strategic plan, the big picture. I execute the plan through a series of tactics: my writing. And like any military plan, it begins to fall apart as soon as I squeeze off the first round, that is, type the first word.

As necessary, I go back and amend the plan. I change the outline. It’s a “living document” that evolves through an iterative process. The outline guides my writing, but my writing may feed back into changing the outline. This may happen once or many times over the course of cranking out a manuscript.

Once, I did try to march off on a literary journey without an outline. Other people, I knew, had done it successfully. Why not me? Well, it turned out I have no sense of dead reckoning. After about a hundred pages (roughly 25,000 words), I found myself hopelessly lost in a jungle of blind trails, dead ends and improbable plot twists.

My only salvation was to sacrifice my baby to the slashing teeth of a black paper shredder and allow native beaters to lead me, whimpering, to safety.

I now am a dedicated outliner.

H. W. “Buzz” Bernard is a writer, retired Weather Channel senior meteorologist for 13 years. He served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force for over three decades.  He attained the rank of colonel and received, among other awards, the Legion of Merit. His “airborne” experiences include a mission with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and a stint as a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135). In the past, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope, chased tornadoes on the Great Plains, and served two tours in Vietnam.  Various other jobs, both civilian and military, have taken him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama. A native Oregonian he attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; he also studied creative writing. Buzz currently is vice president of the Southeastern Writers Association.  He’s a member of International Thriller Writers, the Atlanta Writers Club and Willamette Writers. He and his wife Christina live in Roswell, Georgia, along with their fuzzy and sometimes overactive Shih-Tzu, Stormy.  Stormy’s namesake appears in SupercellHis debut novel is, Eyewall followed by Plague and his third novel, Supercell is now available.

January 24, 2014

Crossing the Finish Line

By Dr. David & Lisa Frisbie

With our 24th book safely written –– we’re waiting for a first glimpse of the cover art –– we are definitely finding our rhythm as writers. We’ve been down this road a few times before: contract, advance, write, edit, here comes the deadline, submit. We know the drill. 

Although we still feel like rookies at times, we’re learning what works for us and what doesn’t. We’re especially learning how to be more efficient in those last few weeks before the deadline crashes through all our protective barriers. When it’s crunch time, we need maximum productivity.

In the last few weeks before a deadline, what works for us is to get away.  We unplug our cell phones and tablets. We stow away our surfing gear and paddle far from the web. We leave behind everything familiar (and all those unfinished projects) and get out into the wilds of nature. We go Amish.

One of our author friends calls this process “going into the cave.” We have no idea if he intends a Platonic reference or if he’s just being witty. Either way he’s right on the mark. We may not hide away in an actual cave, but we definitely develop tunnel vision.

What this looks like in detailed specifics: a writing cabin out in the woods somewhere, a reliable inkjet printer, a few extra ink cartridges, several reams of recycled paper, and multiple mugs of steaming hot coffee. We do a week or ten days of caffeine-fueled, round-the-clock editing. Like pulling weeds from a garden, we uproot phrases that are too archaic or too artsy, preferring the simple and direct. We get ruthless and unemotional and focused --- at least with the words. With each other, we do our best to stay kind and gracious. (Our results vary.)

Annie Dillard writes from the San Juan Islands, watching stunt pilots do barrel rolls in the sky. Our writing locations tend to be a bit less exotic and a lot more primal: we’re on a budget here. We do reserve the right to island-hop if our sales get anywhere near the land of Dillard. Until then our take on “crossing the finish line” involves getting unplugged, leaving home, finding some quiet space in a natural setting, then working until the last bean is roasted and the last mug is down to steam and vapor.

We cross the finish line exhausted, collapsing in a heap of adrenaline, sweat and caffeine.
The book is done. The deadline is met. We never want to do this again.

But we will.
Dr. and Mrs. Frisbie are the authors of 24 published books with seven publishers, mostly on topics of marriage and family life. David and Lisa jointly serve as executive directors of The Center for Marriage and Family Studies in Del Mar, California. In addition they serve as Coordinators of Marriage and Family Ministries for the global Church of the Nazarene. They were contributing authors to "Marriage Ministry in the 21st Century" --- an anthology of research and learning released by Group Publishing in Colorado. Dr. David Frisbie teaches family studies and gerontology at Southern Nazarene University. He is a frequent speaker in chapel services, retreats, and conferences.You can connect with them at They have more than 16,000 direct, first-level connections on LinkedIn. Dr. David Frisbie is an adjunct professor at three universities;teaching courses in family studies, marriage therapy, and gerontology.

January 23, 2014

Bridging Your Reader and Writer World

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Writers groups can be a huge benefit to give clarity to your work. If you’re stuck in a writer's rut, this may work for you. It may be as simple as getting the first paragraph of the first chapter onto paper.

At our last writer's group meeting, we read the first paragraph of seven different books. Based on those paragraphs, our moderator asked each of us if we would read the book. Did it catch our attention and make us want to read the book until the words, "The End?"

If the answer was no, we were asked to rewrite the paragraph. All of the original information must be retained in the rewrite but in our voice.

You can then compare your first paragraph style with classics. This allows you to pick out successful tried and true style methods to start your novel.

Here are a few classic first paragraphs; In A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

And from The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde:
"The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn."

And from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen:
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighborhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of someone or other of their daughters."

And from Fahrenheit 451  by Ray Bradbury:
"It was a pleasure to burn."

And from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe:
"Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door."

And from 1984 by George Orwell:
"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

And from The Hamlet by William Faulkner:
"Frenchman's Bend was a section of rich river-bottom country lying twenty miles southeast of Jefferson. Hill-cradled and remote, definite yet without boundaries, straddling into two counties and owning allegiance to neither, it had been the original grant and site of a tremendous pre-Civil War plantation, the ruins of which---the gutted shell of an enormous house with its fallen stables and slave quarters and overgrown gardens and brick terraces and promenades---were still known as the Old Frenchman's place, although the original boundaries now existed only on old faded records in the Chancery Clerks office in the county courthouse in Jefferson, and even some of the once-fertile fields had long since reverted to the cane-and-cypress jungle from which their first master had hewed them."

These classic first paragraphs have peaked readers interests for years. Generations continue to read these books until the last page. As writers, we owe it to our readers to write a powerful first paragraph.

Using this writer’s group method, you will bridge the world of you, the reader, with the world of you, the writer.   

January 22, 2014

Managing Creative Curses

By Diane Krause

As a writer, you're likely a "creative type." Not all writers are, of course. Many books come from people who love to persuade or influence, and bookstore shelves are lined with business and leadership guides from some of society's best and brightest (and richest). 

But chances are—especially if you write fiction—you fall somewhere along the flaky artist spectrum. I'm right there with you. We're the thinkers, dreamers, and innovators who see a world full of possibilities and easily grasp "the big picture." 

We're also the wayward children in a society of fast-paced high achievers. Certainly we have much to offer the world with our high level of creativity and our warm, loving personalities. Yet we do constantly battle what I call the Creative Curses. If that strikes a chord with you, keep reading and we'll have a little chat about creative curses and how to manage them. 

PerfectionismHi, I'm Diane and I'm a perfectionist. Anyone else brave enough to admit it? As creative, conceptual thinkers, we have the capacity to clearly envision the ideal. Combine that with a high need for a good challenge, and our strengths can end up working against us. To manage this, I have to turn off the voice in my own head and listen to the wisdom of those whose success I'd like to model. Those wise voices remind me that the rest of the world often demands less of me than I demand of myself. So, keep moving and don't stress over hitting the ideal. You can always go back and adjust if your work needs to be a little more perfect. 

Over-thinking. Creative types often require a lot of time for thought before making a decision or commitment. This is because we need to feel we've collected all the information necessary to make a good, informed decision. Do you get bogged down naming characters, filling in an adequate back-story, or considering all the details of your setting? We creative types are very comfortable dwelling in our heads, so we're always at risk of thinking too much and doing too little. I've had to train myself to cut off my thinking time and set deadlines for making decisions. I borrow the behavior of more Type A personalities who are comfortable with ready-fire-aim. Sometimes we need to try that strategy, realizing it's not the end of the world to go back and change course, or even start over, later. 

Self-Management. Creative types are highly sensitive, so we're always aware of the pull toward our comfort zone. That comfort zone may be thinking, doing research, isolation, or hours wasted away on Pinterest finding the perfect visual representation of the setting for our bestseller-to-be. As with the perfectionism problem, it's good to establish a model for self-management—someone you feel exercises the habits you'd like to adopt. Resist the urge, though, to feel you need to replicate someone else's habits. Model their good habits, but modify them so they're realistic for you. Don't unintentionally sabotage yourself by trying to be something you're not. 

Yes, we do battle more creative curses than just these three, but I'll stop with these lest I start sounding critical. The goal in addressing creative curses is to capitalize on our strengths and not allow them to become weaknesses. Enlisting a fellow writer as an accountability partner can be helpful—someone who understands your creative drive but is willing to give you a kick in the pants when you start lagging. 

Are you a creative type? Do you battle these same creative curses? What management strategies work for you? 
Diane Krause is a freelance editor, writer, and author of 25 Ways to Create Classic Characters Readers Will Love. You can connect with Diane through her website at, or on Twitter @DianeKrause2. Her book, 25 Ways to Create Classic Characters Readers Will Love is a short book designed to inspire writers and provide a jump-start on creating believable fictional characters. Diana wrote the James Scott Bell interview in Southern Writers Magazine’s May 2013 issue. 

January 21, 2014

Writing Versus Marketing and Promoting for Authors

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

There are many reasons to self-publish, not the least of which is finding a traditional publisher. However, because of self-publishing large increases of books are being put into the market. 

According to Bowker, “Those who intend to self-publish most often plan to bring fiction to market, followed by inspirational or spiritual works, books for children and biographies. The majority cite finding a traditional publisher as an obstacle. They also feel challenged by marketing – a hurdle that becomes bigger with increasing numbers of books in the market.”

Bowker also said, “A new analysis of U.S. ISBN data by ProQuest affiliate Bowker reveals that the number of self-published titles in 2012 jumped to more than 391,000, up 59 percent over 2011. Obviously, 2013’s count will be higher what with Smashwords and CreateSpace.

“Ebooks continue to gain on print, comprising 40 percent of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012, up from just 11 percent in 2007”, per Bowker. When the totals are tallied for 2013 that percent will be much higher.

What we’ve known all along…the more books published the bigger the need for marketing grows to promote these books. It has become center stage. Although the majority of authors recognize the need for promoting and marketing their books, the problem becomes how.

Authors find themselves in a business…marketing and promoting business. If you love to write and are busy creating novels do you really want to worry about how to market and promote the books? No. I can truthfully say, the majority of authors would much rather not have to fool with the business side.

But market and promote they must if their books are going to get noticed and bought by readers–it is necessary simply because of the sheer multitude of books available.

Authors now have to find ways to market and promote. They know they need Social Media and before long, they find they’re spending most of their marketing and promoting time on these venues. While an author must be on Social Media, it isn’t necessary to spend hours and hours and cut into time that is needed in other areas of marketing. Don’t be lulled into using Social Media for anything more than a tool to keep your name out and to talk about your book. There are interesting topics that can come from an author’s book. Yes, authors have to create relationships, and in order to do that they have to show some personal side of themselves but it should not become their  new socializing network…it is the author’s business network. The secret is finding a balance.

Many authors are now recognizing the importance of making comments on the blogs of others. Why? Because their name and book title get noticed and exposed to new readers. When authors comment on someone’s blog, it should always end it with their name, author of book title and or titles –at least two or three titles. Always.

Not all authors have a big budget for advertising. Nevertheless, most authors can afford to spend something on advertising. Become affiliated with…join…participate…let others help promote your books. That is what networking is. Authors don’t have to do this by themselves.

The most important thing for any author is to keep their name out there…they are the product. 
Authors are selling themselves. Book titles change with every book but the author’s name is always the same.

January 20, 2014

Don’t Fret With the Alphabet

By M. Sakran

I like poetry I really do, 
but sometimes the rhymes seem to be few.
At the end of a line there’ll be a word, 
a rhyme for which I haven’t heard.
When this happens, I do not fret,
I simply write the alphabet:


I know that at first this seems odd, 
buy once I explain with agreement you’ll nod.

Sometimes at the end of a line,
I have a word that at first seems fine.
Though with this word I must rhyme, 
it can be hard and take some time. 
So what I do is have a set, 
of all the letters of the alphabet.
Then I say the words by letter, 
and wait for one that sounds better.

For example if I behold, 
at verses end the shiny word “gold”.
Then with my tool, I say words in line, 
and listen to which sounds most fine:

bold cold foretold fold hold mold old polled rolled sold told

Usually one word will be, 
better than the others I see.
This word I see will be just right, 
better than those that are in sight.
It will rhyme and this is true, 
but there’s something else it will do.
This new word, which my mind couldn’t see, 
often provides direction to me.
So if with gold I would normally rhyme bold, 
the poem is not had I used foretold:

He thought it was made of gold,
and took it with an act that was bold.

These lines do feel a certain way, 
but listen as the next you say:

He thought it was made of gold,
but it was not as he had been foretold.

Now you can see the change that is there, 
and how the alphabet made you aware.
The poem has changed its meaning to something new, 
and the alphabet gave you the clue.
More than just rhyme with the word, 
your poetic mind it has stirred.
Now you can think of something inspired, 
and in the old not be mired.

So when you need a rhyme but can think of none, 
write the alphabet and have some fun.
Find a word that fits in the place, 
and maybe a new meaning that’s away from your base.
M. Sakran has written a variety of items for websites and magazines.  

January 17, 2014

Turning Facts to Fiction

By Mary Lee

When Grandma’s False Teeth Fly, my second published children’s book, was released February 2012, a fictional story, grew from factual events.

As a child, I had a chipped tooth like Katie in my book. Now, I’m a grandma. I have worn false teeth for many years. On two separate occasions, my false teeth have taken flight.

The first time was at a party, in a club with the band playing “Twist and Shout”. My date and I were on a hot, crowded dance floor talking over the music. Unbeknownst to me, my mouth dried out, I took in a gulp of air and my upper plate flew from my mouth to the floor. Fortunately, the club was dimly lit; I twisted down to the floor, picked up my teeth, slid them into my pocket, twisted up to a standing position and scurried off the dance floor toward the restroom.

Years later, married, with a family. In a heated argument with my middle son, it happened again. Same thing, dry mouth, gulp of air, and out they flew. After a second or two of shock, my son and I laughed so hard the argument was completely forgotten. I have had first-hand experience with flying false teeth.

A portion of the fictional story is about cherry cream pies that my husband makes (true); planting a seed idea for this book. For our monthly church potluck lunch, my husband had made two cherry cream pies. There was an elderly, gray-haired lady who after eating her lunch went to get a piece of the pie. Just as she got to the table, the last piece was whisked away. Upset, she marched over to our table, plopped down in a chair, and said, “Some little blond-headed boy took the last piece of pie. I really wanted that pie!” My husband and I made the appropriate sympathetic faces. He told her, “I will bring you a pie of your very own next Sunday.” Later, we laughed all the way home, somewhat embarrassed. The little blond-headed boy was one of our sons.

I have rewritten this book six or seven times. In fact, I began writing it even before I wrote my first published children’s book, My Air Force Mom, and it has taken years to get it just right. It eventually evolved as a book that shows children may choose to use humor to diffuse a situation with bullies. As my husband is fond of saying, this book was a ten-year “overnight” success.


Mary Lee’s first published children’s book My Air Force Mom, a winner in the Children’s Fiction Category of the 73rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, was released in 2007.  Mary’s second children’s book, When Grandma’s False Teeth Fly was released February 2012.  This book won the Silver Medal Award from the Military Writers Society of America for the Children under 12 and it was chosen as the Reader’s Favorite Book Finalist Award for Children K-3rd grade category.  It is also available on Kindle and available in Spanish.  Mary’s third book, The ABC’s of Titles for Tiny Tales, is scheduled for release in the spring of 2014. Mary obtained a Masters Degree in Social Work at the University of South Carolina.  She enjoys reading, movies, writing, and acting.  Mary and her husband Chuck currently reside in Columbia, South Carolina. Visit

January 16, 2014

Taking Notice or Taking Action

by Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

“It is easy sitting up and taking notice. What is difficult is getting up and taking action.”   
Honore de Balzac

French novelist Balzac may have been having a difficult time with his New Year resolutions when this thought came to mind. Many of us are thinking the same thing as well here early in January. We have taken stock but have yet to move on the idea.

Let’s take stock of our accomplishments in 2013. What were your key ones? What could you have done better? For that matter what have you done in your life that changed your life? What could you do that would change your life dramatically? What are your key goals in 2014?

George Bernard Shaw
Taking notice is easy but many fail to do so. We need to take time to take stock of where we are and see if we have made progress as to where we are going or want to go. It is time to measure.

George Bernard Shaw once said:

“The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.”

We too have grown in our skills. We must take measure of our accomplishments and what that  has changed in our lives to move on. We have stretched our mind, our skills and our abilities to
take on new and bigger things in our lives. 

David facing Goliath thought back to his prior accomplishments before tackling the giant. David remembered conquering the lion and the bear and knew he could beat the giant. We should do the same. What have you conquered in the past that has prepared you for what is ahead.

Three frogs were setting on a log and one decided to jump. How many frogs are sitting on a log? The answer is three. The one was merely taking notice. You must take action! You must JUMP in 2014!