February 28, 2014

Writer Optimism Prevails Through Physical Fitness

By Adriana Girolami

As dawn approaches, I find myself overwhelmed and excited about all the possibilities a new day can bring. There is much to do, and striking a balance between working and not working is truly challenging.  As an author I am used of multi-tasking.  Procrastination is not one of my problems. You have to be disciplined in order to be successful.

Physical fitness is very important to me. It clears my mind and helps my creativity. I could not sit in front of a laptop for hours without first getting some fresh air. I release some energy by jogging in my favorite park.  Any pitfall pales in the intrinsic satisfaction of being able to do something I love. It is wonderful to get up every morning and feel grateful. I am humbled by the ability of creating characters that people might love as much as I do.

I feel a bit discombobulated this morning. I look for my sneakers and one shoe is missing... Maybe my cute, little dog took it. I look under the bed, but no luck! The phone rings and a friend is calling. She is in a mood to talk and I hate to be rude. Time is wasting and I have much to do, like sitting in front of my computer and write the sequel to my novel. I gulp the remainder of my coffee while my friend continues rattling on. Mercifully she ends the conversation. Miraculously my other sneakers reappears. Maybe it was there all the time and in my rush I did not see it... Or perhaps my smart, adorable dog brought it back.

I have been a bit down and depressed since I lost my publisher who suddenly went out of business. I cried a lot and had difficulty writing for a few days. I felt my whole life as an author was crumbling, but it was only a temporary setback. My usual optimism prevailed and I returned to that great world of fantasy that is so much part of my life. I believe that difficulties makes us stronger, and having faith in yourself can help overcome great obstacles.

Finally I am ready to go out, however, there is a sudden urge to check my email. Strange, since I am not expecting anything of importance. I am late as it is. "You got mail!" is the usual message from AOL. There is an email from my agent with the great news that my book was purchased by a foreign publisher. It will be published in Japanese. Stunned by the wonderful, unexpected news, I started running all over the house screaming with joy. I am now an international author! I felt slightly mad, but grateful for the satisfaction of having all my efforts and dedication validated. Such a sweet moment after so much sorrow. I smiled brightly and went out jogging. 

Adriana was born in Rome, Italy, and immigrated to the United States with her family. She attended The Art Students League in New York City and embarked on a career as a portrait artist and illustrator. She is a lifelong lover of the written word and an avid reader, favoring distinguished historical authors such as Alessandro Manzoni, Sir Walter Scott, and her personal favorite, Alexander Dumas. She studied archeology with an affinity toward Egyptology and attended many lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. She loves to travels and discover exotic new places in the world. Adriana also enjoys physical activities, such as jogging, playing racquet ball. She is also a Martial Arts enthusiast and has a black belt in Kenpo karate. She wrote her first novel, the historical romance Revenge of the Knights Templar, remembering all those wonderful and exciting books that stimulated her imagination as a child. Her Social Media links are;  http://adrianagirolami,com/

February 27, 2014

Thank You

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

I have met some wonderful authors these past three years. They have graciously shared with me their stories, their disappointments and their successes. One thing they all have in common is their willingness to share with others their secrets of success. But, they took it one-step further. They shared what didn’t work. Hoping this would help others who were on the writing path to avoid the same pitfalls.

Zig Ziglar, an author, salesman and motivational speaker said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

What so many people don’t realize is the more you give away the more you get. It’s when you try to hide it that it withers and eventually goes away.

When we are so focused on ourselves, we miss all the opportunities that come our way.
Our blog is called Suite T, the author’s blog. Why? Because we wanted authors to have the opportunity to share with other authors things they have learned that have benefited them and helped them be successful in their writing and in their marketing of their books. These same writers share with us things that did not work and why.

We can learn from each other in this blog.  We also have an opportunity to create relationships on this blog and to let each other know when we appreciate something they’ve said that helps us in our writing, our marketing and promotion. Who knows what doors of opportunity might open. The authors who post here are so graciously willing to share with us all these things.

I for one want all of you who have posted to know, how very much I appreciate your passing on to us the things you have learned, the things that work for you and even sharing the things that didn’t work. For giving me an opportunity to learn from you.

“You’ve helped me be a better writer.”

Thank you.

February 26, 2014

You’re A Writer. Pick Yourself

By Lorna Faith

Five years ago, I was desperate to start something that I’d longed to do since I was little.

I wanted to be a writer.

I saw writers producing a new book every year, with scads of articles in between. Words seemed to drip from their fingers. Maybe this writing thing won’t be so hard after all. Yeah, right. That theory turned out to be wrong on so many levels.

Writing was hard work, at least for me.

From the first words I put on the blank screen in front of me, until I finished my first novel five years later, every single day I struggled to get the story on page. Sure, some days were easier than others were, but every time I saw the empty void looming in front of me, I was consumed with intimidation and fear of failure. Fear of rejection showed up in my writing days resulting in perfectionism and procrastination that slowed me down.

Questions of self-doubt filled my mind. What if I’m the only one that thinks I could be a good writer? What if I suck at this and end up failing?

Insecurity and anguish mocked me, their condemning words echoing in my ears.

At the time, I didn’t realize that the truth, which I was struggling to accept, was that at the core of me I already was a writer.

I didn’t understand that before I could really find my voice as a writer, I needed to own that identity. Activity would follow.

I was in the process of becoming what some part of me realized I was.

It was during the last year of writing and editing my book when I discovered Jeff Goins’ new book You Are A WriterMy biggest aha moment came when I read his words: Don’t wait for someone to pick you. Pick yourself.

A light bulb switched on in my head. At last, I realized that all these years of struggle had been about me waiting for permission. Somewhere in my subconscious mind, I let those negative voices evolve into something much bigger. It dawned on me that I had been waiting for that unknown someone, to pick me and confirm that I was a writer.

Pick yourself. I let those words sink in and I relished in the truth. No big publishing house contract, literary agent or editor needed to affirm what I already knew.

I was a writer. It was time for me to act like one.

That moment was the starting point. I took those mind-shifting words to heart and welcomed the gift I’d been given with open arms.

Now after many years of waiting, this tiny seed is beginning to sprout.

Since that point, I’ve come out of my self-imposed cave of fear and embraced the freedom of who I am.

I hope you too will let yourself become what you already are.

Go ahead. Pick Yourself.

You are a writer.
Lorna Faith grew up in Northern B.C., Canada, the youngest child of 11 children. Her dad and mom were pioneers that Homesteaded in 3 separate Provinces in their lifetime. Her dad was the 1st child in their family of 15 children that was born in Canada of Volga German immigrants from Russia. Inspired by stories her dad told of their adventures in Russia and their immigration to Canada, Lorna wrote her debut book, Answering Annaveta (Russia to Canada Trilogy)From the age of 5years old, Lorna's love for music had her playing and singing in different festivals and travelling with many singing groups to halls and churches. Her 1st music CD "As I Walk" is music that has been called "magical light ballad sounds" to inspire the soul. For a sample of her songs listen to this tribute she wrote in honor of her dad's life: Lorna Faith’s social media contacts;

February 25, 2014

Oscars Observations

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

For those of us who love movies, the Academy Award nominees usually get at least a curious glance each year, if not a desire to see all of the Best Picture picks.  For writers, it's an insightful declaration of the storytelling which Hollywood deems its best. With the Oscars headed our way this Sunday, it's a fitting time to review this year's top topics of Tinseltown.

Crime Comedy/Drama. Based somewhat on a true story.  Con men conning each other, with an all-star cast that includes Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence.  This one's doing particular well, with nominees in every major category including Best Original Screenplay.

Drama based on a true story.  Modern-day pirates on the high seas take over Tom Hanks' ship.  One of the few nominees that didn't wait till the end of 2013 to be released. They trusted voters to remember it come Oscar time. 

Drama based on a true story.  A ne'er-do-well rodeo clown comes down with HIV and allies with a transsexual to sell illegal medicine to AIDS patients. Matthew McConaughey lost 47 pounds to play the emaciated antihero.  Nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

Space drama.  Sandra Bullock and George Clooney head up a cast you can count on one hand in this story of astronauts whose space shuttle is destroyed. You gotta love a title with a double meaning.

Cyberspace drama.  Another Best Screenplay nominee in which boy meets computer. Joaquin Phoenix (who plays a writer, by the way) develops a meaningful relationship with a personality-rich software program.  Think Siri on steroids.

Dramedy starring Bruce Dern as an unstable septuagenarian who thinks he's won a million dollars in a publishing sweepstakes, and Will Forte as his son who takes him on a road trip to collect either the money or the truth.  Also a Best Screenplay nominee, Nebraska was shot in black and white to convey an "iconic, archetypal look".

Drama based on the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, the true story of a woman (Judi Dench) who searches for the son taken from her 50 years earlier.  A journalist (Steve Coogan, who co-wrote the screenplay) helps her navigate the many obstacles in this cross-continent road trip.

Drama based on an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northrup. The title pretty much says it all, except that Brad Pitt's in it.

Dramedy based on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort, chronicling the rise and fall of a foul-mouthed, unscrupulous stockbroker and drug addict.  And those are his good qualities.  It's the fifth film collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Some observations: The themes generally involve the lonely, lost or larceny-prone.  Three films feature a protagonist who is just the opposite of a hero.  Most of the nine nominees are based on true stories. Six movies are pure dramas with little or no light comedic moments.  Matthew McConaughey is in two of them.

In a surprising Oscar twist, none of the Best Picture nominees this year is a war movie. Argo,  Lincoln, The Hurt Locker, The King's Speech, War Horse, and Zero Dark Thirty of recent years all had a backdrop of battle. Traditionally, the Academy's been fond of anything set in Afghanistan or Nazi Germany, but maybe they've grown weary of the likes of Lone Survivor and The Book Thief.

So what have we learned?  

1) Audiences like an unlikely hero, or, just as often, an antihero.  
2) True stories seem to be on the upswing. 
3) Brad Pitt is still working.

Enjoy the Academy Awards on Sunday.  Will you be having pizza or popcorn with your Oscars?

February 24, 2014

How Do You Surrender Your Life to a Book?

By Dixie R. Diamanti

I was standing in the middle of the floor wringing my hands wondering what to do next after the release of my book.  I had been working on this project so long I was not ready to let go of it.  I didn’t know how attached I would become to the process; and how reluctant I would be to the letting go of it.

It is my story.  MY story! Why would anyone else want to read it?

I have to be honest with you.  There were many times during the writing of my memoir, “Climbing Out of the Box”, that I would think, “Who on earth cares about my story, Lord?  Why would my life be interesting to anyone else?”  But then deep down in my spirit I would hear God’s reassurances of love and direction to keep moving.

So, I moved forward.  I had no idea what I was doing.  It was blind faith.  We use the tools and gifting God has given us….sometimes without seeing the completed plan.  He grows us up to reach outside of ourselves to see others walk in the same freedoms.

And that is my goal, really; to make a difference in the lives of others.

I love to write but I’m not really patient to wait for the plan, the dream, to unfold.  Especially if I have a vision of what I want to put down on paper.  I can see it.  I can feel it.  I am excited about it.  I want to do it now and see it published next week.

But then I wait and write.

And wait and write some more.

And then I don’t want to let go if it, again, and wonder why anyone would want t o read my stuff.
Looking at my motives I realized it is not just about whether my book will be a best seller or not, though that would be wonderful.  It is about being me and being true to who I was created to be and to my calling.  God has a plan.  Then I had to face the fact that even if I knew it wouldn’t be a best seller, I would write it anyway, if only to reach that one person who thought there was no hope left.

There is a divine journey assigned to just me.   There is one assigned to you too.   It is a journey about reaching out, touching lives, healing hearts and being vulnerable enough with my story that it will truly make a difference in the lives of others. 

I want to flow in His plan and not get ahead of myself.  At least in my heart I do.  My head is a different matter.  It wants everything yesterday.  It’s because I have this dream, and it is not going away.  I have more stories to tell.  They are not going away either.  But when I am writing I have need of patience and I always learn in the process.

Maybe it simply means validation.  When my book made it into print, it said to me, “Yes, you are doing this right.”  I am doing what I’m meant to be doing.

And I am good at it.

So, here I am with a self published book, waiting for it to get in the hands of the right people through social media, and being okay with it.

It’s not as though I have a choice.  I can’t control it, this walk of faith.  And I can’t control the outcome or the wait.  But God knows and His timing is always best for our journeys.

It is all about surrendering to the process.
Dixie is a wife, mom, and nana to a large and wonderful family.  She has discovered that God had actually been preparing her, through many years of adversity, for stepping into a new and exciting adventure with Him. Her book is Climbing Out Of The Box: My Journey Out of Sexual and Spiritual Abuse Into Freedom andHealing. As a Certified Life Coach, author, speaker, and teacher, Dixie has reached out to women and men on the Central Coast of California for many years, leading them to freedom and self-esteem.  She believes that every child of God has a distinct calling, and through her work, she assists and coaches women and men in finding their unique purpose in life.  Dixie’s passion is to see people discover how precious and valuable they are to God, and loves to encourage and challenge them in uncovering and making use of God’s hidden treasures within themselves. Here are all the links to my sites: Web.  blog.
Podcast: Breaking Free...

February 21, 2014

Speak to Inspire

By Roz Baker

Curiosity is part of the human condition and with each new generation, curiosity into the lives of others has become more intense. Experience over the past 10 years has shown me that nothing sells books faster than getting to know the author.

As one of Australia’s most successful indie authors, I'm often asked how I have sold tens of thousands of books when I rarely sell books in shops. The answer is this:
1. Have a good product. 2.  Be prepared to do a lot of driving. 3. Be a good public speaker.

Long ago, I came to the conclusion that I am a speaker who writes not a writer who speaks. While I hear a collective groan from those of you who dislike public speaking, the reality is, the author is the product and the book, simply an extension of that product. Everyone has a personal story. Mine touches on what I call the 3 D's : Death, Disease and Divorce. The death of my mother, the trials of overcoming my brain surgery, then the breakdown of my marriage. After a 40 minute talk, my audiences feel they know me and want to support my journey as a writer by buying my books.

My trilogy set in Australia, incorporates adventure, romance and great humour, a complete contrast to my 4th book which is an inspirational novel set in working class England in the 1800's. Adding to this contrast, I have written a small booklet of Australian Bush Verse which I use as a marketing tool.

Marketing is all important and the ability to offer discounts comes down to volume - my print runs are of multiple thousands. Writers have to incorporate business sense with creativity. One without the other makes selling books a hard slog... Everyone loves a bargain! At the close of my talks I offer individual novels at $20 each. However, if they buy all 4, they are reduced to $15 each and I throw the poems in FREE. 95% of my customers go for the special, which makes it easy to tally up big dollars when each sale is $60 for the pack.

As my expertise in selling is face to face, the internet world has not yet been fully utilized by me. My Sooner Or Later Trilogy is available as an eBook from Amazon. Like most writers, my hope is to go international and one day see my work on the big screen. Doors are currently opening for me with interest from China.

ROZ BAKER is an AUTHOR, BUSH POET,INDEPEDENT PUBLISHER & TOASTMASTER. The Sooner Or Later Series by Roz Baker has proven that self-publishing is a viable option. By August 2007, Roz has sold 7,600 books totaling over $100,000. Roz is an Advanced Toastmaster who has won many trophies for humorous and impromptu speaking. In 2007, Roz is working her way through 120 speaking engagements between Sydney and Brisbane, telling the inspirational story of overcoming brain surgery before self-publishing 3 successful novels. She includes a light hearted touch to her presentations by reciting some of her humorous bush poetry. Roz would be delighted to speak to your group and can be contacted by email. BOOK 1-Sooner Or Later We All Stop Laughing, BOOK 2-Sooner Or Later We All Come Home and BOOK 3-Sooner Or Later We All Get Even. Her website is at and at Facebook.

February 20, 2014

Do You Really Want To Write Like Hemingway Or You?

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

One of the best gifts my husband has given to me is a classics quote throw blanket. There are quotes from Dickens, Brontë, Austen, Burroughs, Homer, and others. This throw features quotes from timeless literature classics. These authors have different techniques to convey their stories. They have remarkable voices, their own voice.

The latest app for writers to consider is the HemingwayApp, an online editing app that promises to make your writing mimic the style of Ernest Hemingway. Southern Writers Magazine and it's blog does not endorse any app but does want to keep its readers alerted to writing tools.

If you're as intrigued as I was, it's easy enough to try. In the app "edit" field, paste a piece of writing you want to have compared to Hemingway's style. A color-coded algorithm, highlights what the developers of the app feel is not the Hemingway style and assigns a numerical grade for readability. An app writing score of a Grade 10 or below is “bold and clear.” Above a Grade 10, the writing is “hard” or “very hard” to read.

The highlighted "mistakes" break down as follows; Yellow; "shorten the sentence or split it." Red/pink highlights; "your sentence is so dense and complicated that your readers will get lost trying to follow its meandering—try editing this sentence to remove the red." Blue highlights adverbs and are seen as bad, since Hemingway didn't use them. Purple highlights suggest using a simpler word or phrase. Think "Old Man and The Sea." Lastly, green highlights indicate you have lapsed into a passive voice, as judged by the app.

Challenged, I had to try Hemingway himself and see what he scores with the app bearing his name. I chose Ernest Hemingway's, "A Moveable Feast": Chapter One, paragraph one; "Then there was the bad weather. It would come in one day when the fall was over. We would have to shut the windows in the night against the rain and the cold wind would strip the leaves from the trees in the Place Contrescarpe. The leaves lay sodden in the rain and the wind drove the rain against the big green autobus at the terminal and the Café des Amateurs was crowded and the windows misted over from the heat and the smoke inside. It was a sad, evilly run café where the drunkards of the quarter crowded together and I kept away from it because of the smell of dirty bodies and the sour smell of drunkenness. The men and women who frequented the Amateurs stayed drunk all of the time, or all of the time they could afford it, mostly on wine which they bought by the half-liter or liter. Many strangely named apéritifs were advertised, but few people could afford them except as a foundation to build their wine drunks on. The women drunkards were called poivrottes which meant female rummies."

See the picture for the results. Hemingway had some major edits needed according to the HemmingwayApp. For more HemingwayApp results you can read The New Yorker's, February 13, 2014 post by Ian Crouch, titled "HemingwayTakes the Hemingway Test".

The HemingwayApp is helpful for anyone who wants to have a bold and concise prose style. If you chose to play with the app, realize the app is only as good as the programming. Just don't lose your own voice.

Like the classic book quotes on my blanket, those authors are known for their unique voice and style. How boring would the world be if we all wrote like one particular author? To your own writer's voice be true.

February 19, 2014

Forget Genre: Do You Know What Kind of Story You Want to Write?

By K. M. Weiland

When someone asks you what kind of story you’re writing, your answer is probably based on your book’s genre. Romance. Mystery. Fantasy. But genre is barely going to scratch the surface of your story.
Let’s say you want to write a fantasy. But fantasyland is a mighty big place. Just what roads within that genre do you want your story to travel? Epic fantasy, portal fantasy, steampunk, space opera, paranormal?
Once you’ve narrowed your vision for your story to a specific subgenre (let’s say you’ve chosen steampunk) you will have a better idea of what your story is really about and what genre strictures will guide its creation. But you’re still not finished. You still have to figure out what kind of story you want to write.
The answer to this question will influence every moment of your writing experience. It will determine the tone of your story. It will guide your characters’ arcs. It will affect theme, setting, even the color palette you use in your descriptions.
Earlier this year, when I sat down to write my latest work-in-progress Storming, I knew it would technically be fantasy. More than that, I knew it would have some kind of steampunk vibe (which I ended up narrowing down to dieselpunk). But, just as important as either of those decisions, I also knew what kind of story I wanted it to be: a fun, summer blockbuster kind of adventure romp.
I could easily have maintained my genre choices and still written an entirely different book—if I had decided to write a different kind of story. Before you sit down to write your first chapter, take a moment to look beyond genre. What type of story do you want this to be? Fun, light, happy? Dark, tragic, thought provoking? Consider books and movies that have the same kind of feel you’d like to recreate. What kind of stories are they?
Once you’ve narrowed down your storytelling vision to a specific kind of story, you’re ready to start shaping that story into a cohesive and resonant first draft.
K.M. Weiland is the author of the epic fantasy Dreamlander, the historical western A Man Called Outlaw and the medieval epic Behold the Dawn. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her website Helping Writers Become Authors, her books Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, and her instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration. She makes her home in western Nebraska.

February 18, 2014

Actively Work to Show your Presence on the Web

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

One of the avenues some authors overlook is a website.  If you are wondering why authors need a website think of it in these terms.

People live in houses, and in those houses are rooms. Each of these rooms has a function. We need each of these rooms. You wouldn’t build a house and leave out a kitchen any more than you would build a house and leave out the bathroom or a bedroom. However, the house is the base where these rooms are placed. Right? In other words, you don’t build separate rooms apart from the house on the lot.

Hence, your house is your website. On that website are rooms, one of the rooms is a blog. One room is your event room; one room is your book room, and so on. You can add as many rooms to your house as you want. 

Let me tell you a secret–the more rooms you have the longer someone stays in your house because they want to see what is in each room.

As with building any house, you can have an inexpensive house, average house or a mansion. That is up to you. You can build it or you can hire someone to build it or take advantage of sites that offer you a house. The nice thing about houses is you can add-on anytime; you can redecorate, whatever you choose whenever you choose.

You want your website (house) to deliver results. It can’t if people have no house to visit and linger in. You know, to get to know you–your style.

You sure want your website (house) to look professional but when your visitors come inside you can decorate a room or two kind of cute and whimsical. However, you need other rooms decorated with professional looking and with good functionality. You want to acquire new fans/readers of your books so make sure each room has the ability to inspire them to become a fan of you and your books.

Check out other websites and see what they have built. What seems to be working for them? Do their sites make you want to stay around awhile and check it out?

If you have your Web-house, email the site address so others can visit.
Have fun building and decorating your Web-house.

February 17, 2014

Daring a Mystery Series

By C. Hope Clark

Agents and publishers love series, as do most readers. I’m chomping at the bit for suspense author Lisa Gardner to release another Quincy and Rainie crime story. Gardner’s one of the few mystery/suspense authors I’ll pre-order and not care what her new release costs.

Many readers become comfortable, friendly, even intimate with repeating characters, and remain anxious to see what calamity an author can concoct for them next. That challenge represents both the good and the bad of writing a series.

Initially, a series seems the simplest way to go. You spend the first book introducing and defining the basics of your protagonist: her relationships, upbringing, strengths, and weaknesses. This is ground level construction where you’re laying the foundation, and to your reader, it’s a honeymoon phase. You define her environment, her habits. And with a mystery comes dictating the degree of crime, level of gore, type of law enforcement, and the capabilities of your sleuth to dance in and out of the confines of the law.

Then comes book two. Your protagonist grew in the initial story. She’s different now, changed. You now pen an intriguing plot nothing like the first, but more challenging than the last, because your character has evolved. She’s wiser. Those around her changed as well. Just like in the real world, they applied what they learned to their new conditions. And they grow again.

Book three tests you. Even if you have a bumbling sleuth, she won’t bumble exactly the same. She reacts based on her history, and how it altered her. Here is where many authors fall short. They forget that the reader has grown along with the character. He won’t be deceived quite so easily, and reading inside your protagonist’s head now for the third time, he’ll expect more from her, giving her less benefit of the doubt.  She can’t make the same mistakes. She can’t use the same tactics.

By now you also have a slew of characters to keep up with. If you’ve read a long-lived series comprised of people like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse, or Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, you keep up with a huge host of people who step in and out of the stories. Some appear once in a great while, others in every other scene. People age or die. They change professions or get divorced. They earn accolades and they screw up with long-lasting effects. You must get the facts right, maintain the time line, preserve the history, because your readers keep track.

The reader may know you better that you know yourself now. Remember, mystery is the only genre where the reader is pitted against the author, each trying to outguess the other. Each book makes you up your game, because the reader is buying with an urge to best you before you reach “the end.”

The quirks have to get quirkier.

The needs have to feel keener.

The love has to grow deeper.

The past fears have to scar.

The twists turn more complex.

A series gets harder, not easier, in spite of how well you think you know your players. It’s a difficult balancing act, but in the end not only do you amass a loyal fan base for the effort, but you also achieve a satisfaction in knowing you still have what it takes to keep that reader guessing. And that’s the addiction that keeps an author shrewd, savvy and alive.
C. Hope Clark’s new release is Palmetto Poison, the third in The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, from Bell Bridge Books. First in the series is Lowcountry Bribe followed by Tidewater Murder. Hope is also editor of, voted 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writer’s Digest Magazine for the past 13 years.

February 14, 2014

Call Story

By Sun Chara

Last year, 2012 I entered the Harlequin Fast Track contest when the editors read and respond within a couple of weeks instead of three months or longer. Everybody had gotten their response from the editors, but I, and a couple of others hadn’t.

I waited, one week, two weeks, three weeks…when I still didn’t hear anything, I emailed one of the editor’s, and she was surprised I hadn’t heard because they’d requested a partial of Manhattan Millionaire’s Cinderella.  So, I sent it in.  I waited some more.  Then, it was time for the Harlequin global contest, SoYouThinkYouCanWrite ’12, where writers from around the world participate; the prize is a publishing contract with Harlequin…yes it can change a life for the good! J  Readers, editors, and the public got to vote online for these entries. I got the second most votes and likes in the contest, but still the editors had the final say. 

Out of 700 entries they chose the top 28 finalists…I made it on this list with Manhattan Millionaire’s Cinderella. Yay! Then it went to the top 3 (which I didn’t get to), then to the one winner, the lovely Jennifer Hayward!  However, the editors were scouting for manuscripts and a bunch were bought from across the contest, but not necessarily from the top 28.  I hadn’t heard about mine so I went online to the Harlequin Forums and asked on the Editor thread if they could trace my submission, because I hadn’t heard either from the Fast Track nor the SYTYCW contest. (Through all this I had a good feeling about Manhattan…)

I got a nice email from an editorial assistant saying that Charlotte/editor loved the story, voice etc. and she was looking at it.  I waited some more. Finally, I heard from another editor that my SYTYCW top 28 entry was turned down, something about it had too much story. (what?!)  But hey, I roll with the punches!  Shortly after, I heard that my Fast Track entry (same ms, as in sytycw), the one that Charlotte loved, was also turned down. But I could send them another story.  I sent them another partial and this too was turned down, but I could still send another.  Hmm!  It didn’t feel right somehow (what I didn’t know at the time was that Charlotte had left Harlequin, and Manhattan... must’ve got lost in the shuffle for both Fast Track and SYTYCW’12), but I continued on… 

One day about mid July, 2013 I was on the Harlequin forums, and I came across Lori Connelly’s post that she’d just sold her western historical romance to another publisher, but because it was a Harlequin forum she couldn’t name the other publisher; but we could go on her blog to read her ‘call story’.  I read that the editor who bought Lori’s story was Charlotte, the same editor who had expressed interest in Manhattan Millionaire’s Cinderella.

But where did Charlotte go?! Lori wrote that another writer on the Harlequin forums, Bronwyn had suggested that she try to track down the editor/Charlotte who liked her work and find out where she went.  Lori did, sent in her story, Charlotte remembered her, and offered her a two-book deal. Yay, Lori!  And thank you, Bronwyn!

Aha!!!  Do I, don’t I?  I figured okay, I’ll send Manhattan Millionaire’s Cinderella to Charlotte at Harper Impulse, the digital branch in the UK for Harper Collins, one of the big five pubs.  Maybe she’ll remember me, and if not, it’s worth a go anyway.  Charlotte did remember, called 8:00 a.m. July 25th/Christmas in July! She offered me a three book contract, and then she spoke words of wonder: 'I really feel it's meant to come to me having picked you out of SYTYCW!'  I thought, wow!
SUN CHARA, a schoolteacher turned actor/writer, is a member of Romance Writers of America and Screen Actors Guild, and has been writing for over twelve years. A three-book deal with Harper Impulse has launched her global career! Manhattan Millionaire's Cinderella, Winner! First Place! JABBIC/Judge A Book By Its Cover-Readers Choice/contemporary series-Manhattan Millionaire’s Cinderella started it all…then came The Price of Passion, and on July 2014, The Italian’s Runaway Principessa hits global shelves.  Globetrotting for lore while keeping tabs on Hollywood leads, Sun loves the challenge of creating stories for book and screen. - See more at:  Social Media:

February 13, 2014

The Best Day of the Year

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

As we prepare for Valentine’s Day we think of what our loved one would like most. Traditionally we give candy and flowers. 47% of us give candy. 73% percent of men send flowers and 14% of women send themselves flowers.  Then there are the 36% of us go to dinner.

One of our most popular ways of sharing is with a card. We purchase over a billion cards worldwide. 53% of those are bought by women. From our earliest Valentine’s Days spent in Kindergarten or Grammar School we gave and received cards expressing our love. This probably is our earliest memory of the tradition and it may also be what established it in our minds and later in our hearts.

Over the years I have read some amazing cards. I can only guess how one could gather together in a short space such passion and emotion. It always appeared to me someone spent time putting together words that were exactly what I would say if I had the talent to do so. Each year Hallmark puts out 10,000 new or redesigned cards. Someone had to put those beautiful, funny, passionate, emotional words on paper. My hat is off to those writers. They make what many of us feel would be an impossible task of writing beautiful prose and presenting it to our special Valentine easy for us all. 

Maybe we should send them a card?

Despite the commercialization the $13 billion pumped into our economy it is a very special day for many of us. We have a great opportunity to tell that special someone how we feel. Though some of us do so every day, the shyest among us or those who want to come forward with a new relationship can use this day to do so. After all it is tradition and expected.

We must be sure on this special day to give our gifts and share with our loved one our feelings we have for them. Apparently gifts play a bigger part than we may think. 53% of women said they would end their relationship if they didn’t receive anything for Valentine’s Day.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Write on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” Happy Valentine’s Day!