June 30, 2015

There Oughta Be a Flaw

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

In virtually every story we write, it's a given that we will give our hero challenges to face.  Those obstacles we put in his/her path are likely to be external in nature, delivered by either circumstances or an antagonist.  But we can increase the drama further by slipping in some internal struggles for our hero too.

Besides making our protagonist more lifelike, a character flaw has the power to add the fascinating element of irony.  A hero who becomes the guardian of his brother's kids will have a worse time of it if he had vowed never to have children.  An eyewitness in a murder trial will find it harder to testify if he was somewhere he wasn't supposed to be.

The "inner demon" doesn't have to be anything illegal, immoral, or fattening.  It can be a guilty conscience, a moral dilemma, the fight between the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.  Anything that creates personal turmoil is material for mayhem.

It can feel against the grain to make our hero imperfect, especially if we write in first person, because our own voice is inherently caught up in there on some conscious or unconscious level.  If it helps distance you from your character, seek out a trait you don't possess.  Need some ideas?  The Seven Deadly Sins could be a source of inspiration.  If you can remember all seven and don't have to look them up, more power to you.  I can usually only remember the ones I've gotten good at.

If you're totally uncomfortable giving your beloved hero a flaw, consider a vulnerability instead.  What's the difference?  One would consider chronic grouchiness a flaw, whereas a fear of heights is a vulnerability.  Simply put, a flaw is something we can change; a vulnerability is something we can't.  It's not Indiana Jones' fault that he's afraid of snakes.  (Although I suppose he could get therapy for that.)

Depending on what you're going for, a vulnerability can elicit sympathy more than a flaw.  By the same token, a flaw is something you can work into your character arc.

The most unflawed character in all of fiction would probably have to be Superman.  Here's a guy who possesses superhuman powers and uses them for the public good.  Yet he is vulnerable to kryptonite, much less the designs of a femme fatale who steals his invincible heart.  If Superman didn't possess qualities that could weaken him, he would be as plastic as the toys made in his image.

Whether our protagonist is a "hero" in the truest sense of the word, or an underdog who must rise from the ashes, we give our story layers by including an Achilles heel above and beyond the main conflict.  The reader may not have personal experience with a tsunami or a kidnapping, but everyone knows what it's like to be human.

June 29, 2015

Writing Is Messy

By Kathleen M. Rodgers

Writing is a messy process. After nearly forty years of writing for publication, I’ve learned to trust what works for me. Every article I sold to Family Circle Magazine, Military Times, and many other publications, started out like this: first thoughts scribbled on whatever paper was at hand.

Sometimes I use legal pads or journals given to me by family members or friends. I joke that my first novel, The Final Salute, was cobbled together using sticky notes and index cards.
In 1998, I signed my fifth contract with Family Circle Magazine to write a 2500 word article about attention deficit disorder. Even before I pitched the article to my editor in a query letter, I’d accumulated hundreds of notes on every form of paper available. Once the ink dried on the contract, the pressure was on.

With notes fanned out in front of me on my living room floor, I attempted to puzzle together a story that I was getting paid a lot of money to write. For me, the only way to bring order to chaos is to wade through it. I did what I always do. I took a deep breath and plowed in. After several revisions, “Driven to Distraction” appeared in the October 1998 edition of Family Circle Magazine, where it was read by millions of readers around the country.

For my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately (Camel Press February 1, 2015), my first thoughts were captured in a spiral notebook for a novel writing class I took at Southern Methodist University. Once I got a few words down, I moved to my laptop.

Throughout the six years it took to write and revise this novel, many of my best lines were written in the margins of church bulletins, school programs, grocery store receipts, napkins from eateries, and the occasional paperback I happened to be reading at the moment my mind wandered from the path of reading to writing.

About eight months before I finished the manuscript, I dumped my work onto my kitchen table and attempted to organize the chapters. I’m old school in that I need to see the physical pages of the manuscript as I work. Holding each scene in my hand helped me see where I needed to revise an opening line or create a better transition from one scene to the next.

I’m in the middle of writing my third novel, and once again I am learning to trust the process. Now that my children are grown and I no longer have the need to go hide in my home office, I find myself back at the kitchen or dining room table, attempting to create characters that people will care about. Each night when I go to bed, I place the current scene I’m working on in between my alarm clock and my TBR pile. Having the physical pages close to me before I drift off to sleep is a reminder that my characters are depending on me the next day. Just like my young sons depended on me when they were young. They trusted that I would be there for them each morning when they woke up.
Kathleen M. Rodgers is a former freelance writer for Family Circle MagazineMilitary Times, and many other national and regional publications. Her first novel, The Final Salute (Deer Hawk Publications) has been featured in USA TodayThe Associated Press, and soared to #1 on Amazon’s Top Rated War Fiction. Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately (Camel Press), has been featured in Southern Writers MagazineStars & StripesFort Worth Star-Telegram, and The Authors Corner on Public Radio.
Author’s website:
Kathleen Featured in Southern Writers Magazine:

June 26, 2015

Overcoming Writer’s Block

By Sherryl Woods

The creative well has run dry. Your muse is on vacation. The computer cursor mocks you, blinking cheerfully while you struggle to come up with the first word of a new book, much less the first chapter. Writer's block hits almost everyone sooner or later, including the author heroine of "Bayside Retreat," my novella in the Sweet Talk eBook collection available through June 30 to raise money for diabetes research.

But is this curse just part of being a writer, something to be accepted, struggled through, and then overcome? I don't think so. And after publishing a whole bunch of books and novellas during a career that's spanned over 30 years, I think I can speak from experience. Ideas are all around you. Knowing how to recognize them and weave them into a solid story can come with practice.

I credit two things with allowing me to work even when my muse has taken off on an idyllic trip to the South of France, where I desperately want to be. 

First, I spent a number of years as a journalist, paying close attention to the world around me as I looked for fresh story ideas and angles that would keep me one step ahead of the competition. Honing your powers of observation and developing an insatiable curiosity are the cornerstones of good storytelling and character development. And we all have it. By the time we could talk we were asking why is the sky blue, where do flowers come from, why is that lady crying? For writers, it's just a more sophisticated set of questions that can trigger an idea for a character, a motivation for a hero or the key to solving a crime. 

And second, sometimes it all comes down to two little words Mary Higgins Clark shared at a conference I attended many, many years ago: what if? Read an article in the paper, eavesdrop on an argument in a mall food court, watch Dr. Phil, ask someone you've just met how they met their spouse, and then ask, what if? Those two words can kick your imagination into gear and send you off on a journey into an intriguing new story. 

Years ago, there was an iconic line on the TV series The Naked City: "There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them." Next time you sit in front of a blank computer screen, think about that. The world right around you is crawling with stories. Observe and ask what if. You'll be well on your way to telling just one of them.
Sherryl Woods is a #1 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods has published over 140 romance, women's fiction and mystery novels and novellas. "Bayside Retreat," her contribution to the Sweet Talk eBook collection, is part of her popular Chesapeake Shores series, which is currently in development for a movie and possible series for the Hallmark Channel. She divides her time between Key Biscayne, Florida and her childhood summer home in Colonial Beach, Virginia. Sherryl is happy to be part of Brenda Novak’s SWEET TALK collection for raising money for diabetes research. For more information, visit her website at From there you can also follow the link to her Facebook page.

June 25, 2015

Creating Your Own Sell Sheet

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Recently, I helped an author create a "sell sheet" for his first book, The Gates of Hell, in his Biblical historical series. The author, Earl C. David, Jr. is a member of our writers group.

Why is a sell sheet helpful? Consider your fan base via email. You want to let them know with the click of a mouse about your latest book with live links for them to purchase your book. In Earl's case, he is asking that all his fans then forward the sell sheet to their email list in hopes that it will continue. You can also use it to send to bookstores and request a book signing or media event.

To create a sell sheet, make it a one-page concise document. It is virtually an announcement your book is finished and available.

Earl's sell sheet was created using a Microsoft Word document. You can also create a double-fold or trifold brochure. I suggest playing around with the documents you create and then compare them. You may want to create several sell sheets, one targeting fans, family and friends, bookstores, etc.

Definitely put the title of the book at the top of the page. Consider the font size and text color and make the title a different color with a live link to your book sale site. Make sure you include picture of your book's cover. I placed the book cover in the upper left corner of the sell sheet. To the right of the book cover, include publishing details about your book, the title and a short impactive summary. Below the book information include a headshot picture with your book and a short bio.

Make sure when you send out your sell sheets that you can monitor and respond to any emails.

You may be a published author, but your job is not over. You have to market your book for readers to find you.

June 24, 2015

On Writing That First Book

By C. H. Lawler

I've had a number of book signings so far with The Saints of Lost Things, and at each one there's been at least one person who's said, "I've always wanted to write a book."

Let me tell you something, something about writing a book.

Writing a book, or creating anything, a painting, a song, anything, is a very vulnerable, incredibly soul-baring experience.  But let's face it, as Faulkner said, if there's a story in you, it's got to come out.

He also said to 'quit when you're hot.' In other words, save an idea for next time you sit down to write. Do this to keep from getting writer's block. 

It's also been said, maybe by Faulkner also, that you should read, read, and read. It fuels your writing. Find a word or group of words that grab you. Language can be delicious. Taste it, smell it, savor it. Open up your senses and then mix them. Let sounds have colors, let smells have textures.  'Vivid' is the highest compliment you can receive. Be mindful in the most mundane life circumstances.  Ask yourself, what am I hearing?  What am I seeing?  Relax and enjoy where you are, even if you don't write.

If you have an idea for a book, you should write it. Play around with it. Get frustrated with it. Set it aside. Reread it. Prune it like a shrub. Wake up at three a.m. and jot it down. At some point you'll begin to enjoy your characters. They'll become like family.

Then have a wide range of people read your story. This is always tricky. Don't avoid critical people.  These are the very people you need most. Even if you self-publish, get a good editor before you do.
And when your story finally sees the light of day, after you've eased it out of yourself, I swear you'll want to hold the book gently and wrap it in a baby blanket and coo at it and wait for the world to love it as much as you do.

Which of course they may not do. No one is obligated to like your book. No one. You were only obligated to write it. No one is obligated to read it or, having read it, like it. Or, having read it and liked it, tell someone they did.

But your job is done. You created. You have bared part of yourself to the world. And if one other person reads it, likes it, and tells you, you are richly blessed.

Be grateful for the latest person who reads and likes your book.

Even if it's only you yourself.
C. H. Lawler is a native of Louisiana and a resident of Baton Rouge.  A practicing obstetrician, The Saints of Lost Things is his first novel, written largely at the hospital while waiting on babies to arrive.  He is married with grown children

June 23, 2015

Shakespeare and Agatha Christie

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

Shakespeare, take in mind, lived from 1564 to 1616. Yet, even from that long ago, he has influenced from that time up to today writers, actors, and poets. I dare say probably one of the greatest writers of all time.

The thing I found most interesting and didn’t know or never realized was Amanda Mabillard’s article about him where she stated…”Many authors have used phrases from Shakespeare's works as titles for their own novels. Here is a list of just a few:
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (The Tempest, 5.1)
  • The Dogs of War by Robert Stone (Julius Caesar 3.1)
  • The Winter of our Discontent by John Steinbeck (Richard III, 1.1)
  • The Undiscovered Country by Auther Schnitzer (Hamlet, 3.1)
  • Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (Macbeth, 4.1)
  • Bell, Book, and Candle by John van Druten (King John, 3.3)

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie who lived from 1890 to 1976 was a novelist, short story writer, playwright, poet and best known for her crime novels. She too influenced writers. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time stating her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies. Her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world's most-widely published books, behind Shakespeare's works and the Bible. According to Index Translationum (World Bibliography of Translation), she remains the most-translated individual author – having been translated into at least 103 languages.

So, what made them stand out? What was different?

Shakespeare used drama and comedy in his writings. He must have understood mankind for he was able to touch them where they would connect with his words.  His themes are what we call today, evergreen; they were as true in his day as in ours.  The interesting thing is he did not over write the sexual end.

Agatha Christi was the “Queen of Crime”. One of the things that make her stand out is her creation of her characters. We all remember Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. She was able to develop characters that we could relate to. I remember reading some of her books, thinking how dignified Hercule was. Her plots in the stories were always such that beckoned you into the thick of her story.

What did their stories not have that some stories have today? Will those stories today be remember 100 years from now?

To be a writer that will be remembered, as a great writer, look closely at these two writers. Study how they created their characters, plots, scenes. Look how they developed the struggles, the humor, and the reality even though fiction. These two can help each of us leave a legacy in our writing.

June 22, 2015

A Question of Inspiration and Passion

By Terry Palmer

One question that I often get as a novelist is about inspiration and passion. What are my sources?  What moves me on to both write the story and then to ‘get the message out’?

As a writer, I need only a prompt, a ‘what if…’ to close upon my mind. At that point I’ll write out the beginning and end and simple wait for the fun journey to begin. I write about the struggle of man with darkness and light. A passage in Joshua makes my point.  Joshua sets out to take the Promised Land, not in the power of man, but through the power of God. It’s a classic tale about the overwhelming power of man against the faithful few and the Power of God. That is also a description of my fantasy series, Chronicles of Orm.

In our Bible passage, five kings attack, confident in their combined strength to defeat this small army of believers.  Joshua 10:11 and following…from the Open Bible. And it came about as they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horan, that the Lord threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.

I need no other inspiration than this.  I used this sequence for my poor wandering tribe of faithful, who step forward in faith upon the shores of a new continent. The wrath of darkness is about to descend upon them through the packs of vicious wolf like characters of darkness. The faithful few and the power of His spirit against the hordes of darkness.

Here is my type from chapter twenty four of Chronicles of Orm, Book One, Legend of Cre – lo - Way.  Lightning flared upon the hiding places of the horde, who chose this moment to crowd together in hiding just beyond the sight of those in the half circle on the beach. Sharp hail struck with the full stunning force of nature upon either side of mankind on the beach.  Streaming hail stripped leaf and limb from the protective overhang letting mankind see and understand the way of the horde. Huge hailstones rained a stunning and eroding death upon those who lurked in the shame of hiding.

In this case as in His Word, many more fell from the hailstones as from the edge of the sword.
My entire series is built this way, making those who stand for the light against the throws of darkness, dependent upon the strength of the light to overcome.  In this manner, both inspiration and passion flow together to help each scene make my message clear and plain.  By the end of the narrative, the reader will know the darkness, know the light, and know the difference, making it very plain about which to choose from this day on.  Indeed, which will you choose?
Terry Palmer is a writer from northwestern Wisconsin.  Since 2008, Terry has sought to bring the message about the battle between darkness and light to his readers. His latest work is a fourteen eBook series about Valentine’s Day – The Procrastinators Guide to Valentine’s Day. Each eBook takes a few verses from Proverbs 31, about the virtuous woman, and matches that with key words of inspiration. Chronicles of Orm returns to his calling, making a sharp contrast between good and evil in the hope for that one who struggles in life with the throes of darkness will find hope and direction to turn to the light.  And this is the message that we have received and give to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. I John 1:5 Open Bible. Contact Terry at

June 19, 2015

Crafting Villains

By Cynthia Eden

I have a confession to make—I love villains.  I love their darkness, their layers, and the wonderful twists that they can add to any story.  When I write my books, I always have a goal of creating a villain who will be a perfect match for my protagonist. I want a villain who will be just as strong and just as complex as my hero or heroine. Weak villains don’t pull in readers, and they certainly won’t give a story a hard, intense edge.

So how does an author craft a *killer* villain?  Here are my two rules for a good villain: 
            1. Good villains must command attention.
            2.A good villain will shock, surprise, and keep a reader on the edge of his/her seat.

All characters have a back story, and when authors create a commanding villain, the villain should have a very compelling back story. When creating a backstory for your villain, you should consider the following:
1.     How did your villain come to be so wicked?  What turned her/him into this being? 
2.     Is your villain’s “wickedness” due to nature or nurture?
3.     What is the level of evil for this character? After all, not all villains are killers.  There is a level of evil, a scale, that you can create.

Another point to consider when developing a villain…what positive traits will your villain have? Yes, I said positive. Because it is very rare to encounter someone who is 100% evil (or 100% good). So even villains will have some redeeming traits, and it is those traits that might make your readers sympathize with a villain (if that is your intent). By giving a villain both positive and negative traits, you create a multi-dimensional character, one with dark flaws, but also a few bright points that make readers feel compelled to learn more about this individual.

A powerful villain will be a perfect counterpoint for your protagonist.  So when you write, make sure you spend as much time developing your bad guy (or bad girl) as you do the hero and heroine of your tale.

Best of luck with your villain!
Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas. Cynthia lives along the Alabama Gulf Coast. She has authored Mine to Take, Suspicions and many more,  She loves romance novels, horror movies, and chocolate. Cynthia is happy to be part of Brenda Novak’s SWEET TALK collection for raising money for diabetes research. Her favorite hobbies including hiking in the mountains (searching for waterfalls) and spelunking.You can find Cynthia chatting daily on Twitter ( or on her Facebook page ( Author’s website: Author’s blog:  

June 18, 2015

It’s Flooding Down in Texas

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

The recent floods in Texas reminded me of the late Texas Bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version of “Texas Flood”; “Well it’s flooding down in Texas, all of the telephone lines are down”.  “Texas Flood” written by Larry Davis and Joseph Scott in 1958 quickly became a blues standard recorded by many artist. The song is of a lost love that he is unable to reach due to the floods and eventually returns home, his love a victim of a natural disaster. 

Natural disasters have been the center point of many a story, song or movie. Having a larger than life character such as a hurricane, tornado or flood which adds not only difficulty but lack of control to the obstacles one must face in the story. Texas seems to have had it share of flooding this year and as we speak a tropical storm named “Bill” is again pounding the Houston area   with more rain and flooding.   

We have seen in recent weeks the stories of life lost and life miraculously saved has come our way from this disaster. The small towns of Boerne, San Marcos and Wimberley all had their tales. With this return of the rains we will more than likely hear more. This was not Texas’ first nor was it the largest.

On September 8, 1900 in Galveston Texas, Hurricane Galveston came ashore with 135 to 145 mph winds and flooded the island. At that time Galveston was the largest city in Texas and although a seawall had been considered the city sat unprotected from the sea. Estimates of the dead were anywhere from 6,000 to 12,000 lives. Officially 8,000 was the number settled on. It was the deadliest storm to have ever struck the United States. The great city of Galveston never returned to its glory as a commercial center or culturally as the “New York of the South”.

We all stand in awe with the accounts of a natural disaster’s damage to property and life. Many times we look upon the account as one would look upon a documentary. At arm’s length we observe, taking in the wonder of it all and the unimagined hardship of those involved. It’s not until we connect personally with a victim’s family, livelihood or possessions do we fully take on the enormity of the event. Many times we can relate due to our unfortunate pass when we too suffered through such an occurrence. And as has happened many times in this country, earlier victims come to the aid of those currently suffering. That in itself is a great story and one that needs to be told.

As great as the story of a disaster can be it can be even greater with the struggle of the individual as the center of the story. “Texas Flood” became more interesting with the struggle of one seeking his love. As a people, overcoming such events is what we do and what better way to celebrate it than to tell a great story about that. If you have such a story I would like to hear about it.     


June 17, 2015


By Bonnie Leon

Last week, I completed a grueling round of edits for my upcoming book, To Dance With Dolphins The last night of editing, I pressed on until 4:00 AM, determined to finish. By that time, I wasn’t certain I even liked to write. I was no longer convinced I knew anything about the craft of writing. And I wondered why I was writing at all.

To be fair to myself, I was weary. At sixty-three, my body doesn’t respond to pressure and endless hours of work the way it once did. And I relearned a lesson I’d been taught many times through the years. At twenty-one books and counting—I still have a lot to learn.

Smart writers never stop learning. If we reach a place in our careers when we believe we’ve “arrived” and have no reason to listen to others who teach or take the time to digest the workings of great books … well all I can say is that whatever lands on the pages of our most recent work will likely feel stale.

Writers should never stop learning.

While working through revisions on my most recent work, To Dance With Dolphinsthere was the usual goofy stuff that shows up, and the passive phrases I didn’t catch, scenes that might work better if placed elsewhere or might best be tossed out altogether—the kind of alterations a writer expects. My editor is creative, works harder than any other I’ve ever worked with, and refuses to settle for mediocrity. She expects excellence.

This kind of editor makes life harder, but my writing thrives. I’m indebted to her because her work ethic strengthens mine. The Journey of Eleven Moonsreleased in 2014, and was my first introduction to Deep Point of View, and is a better book because of it.

One of the biggest lessons for this writer on this new project, To Dance With Dolphins, was all about DPOV. I hadn’t mastered it yet. When I stepped into the writing world, more than twenty years ago, there was no talk about DPOV. I learned the craft when it was acceptable to write from a more distant place, saying things like, “Claire wondered, or Tom felt.  That was fine in its time, but no longer. 

Still endeavoring to master this new tool (I hadn’t arrived), I missed opportunities to create powerful scenes that draw readers deeper into the story.  I am learning, and with the combined efforts of my editor and my personal desire to hone my craft, I believe that my new book is my best work to date.

I’m not yet ready to teach DPOV, but I will be, thanks to a young editor, Christina Tarabochia, who won’t let me rest on my laurels. 

I encourage each of you to do the work, to become the best you can be, and to knock the socks off of readers and reviewers. And in so doing, make a positive difference in this oh, so dark world.

Grace and peace to you from God.
Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-one novels, including the recently released Where Eagles Soar,the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons and bestselling series, Sydney Cove. In 2014 Bonnie branched out into independent writing with her first ever memoir, a story about A Native American woman who grew up in the Alaskan wildnerness where she learned to hunt, trap, and survive. Her greatest foe, however, was not the grizzlies or wolves in the wilds, but rather her father. Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, and even Africa. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother. Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and eight grandchildren. You can find bonnie at and

June 16, 2015

The Spice of Life

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

This weekend, a friend shared his childhood memories of the "family movie night" that was a weekly ritual in his home.  Each member of the family got to take turns picking the flick of the week at Blockbuster.  As you can predict, the kids always picked out movies geared toward children, while the adults chose more sufferable fare.

For every Ninja Turtles movie they watched, my friend's dad had them sit down to a classic like On the Waterfront. Or A Streetcar Named Desire. One week it was even Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. (Don't worry, grade school exposure to these mature themes didn't scar the young boy for life; in fact, he went on to become a youth pastor).

It harkened me back to thoughts of my youth, which included a lavish movie house with a balcony, curtains that opened and closed, and where you could buy expensive souvenir programs for the epics being shown. I think even more than the movies themselves, my parents enjoyed introducing their children to edifying entertainment.  So I too grew up on a well-balanced diet of comedies, dramas, romances, musicals, as well a couple of movies my parents made us walk out on.

Looking back, I'm especially grateful for this early education, which gives me a pretty good understanding today of the elements that go into a comedy, a drama, a romance, a musical, not to mention movies my parents would still walk out on. And no doubt you can say the same. While we may have a favorite genre of movielet's say spy thrillerthat doesn't keep us from attending the occasional romantic comedy that catches our interest.

Which brings me to this question: Do you read more than one genre?

Variety is a good thing, for storytelling and for painting
Do you always read the same genre, or do you mix that up too? Granted, committing to an entire novel requires a greater time investment than a two-hour movie (unless you're Susan Reichert, who can read a book a night).

Just as we moviegoers have cut our storytelling teeth by watching a variety of film genres, veering from our usual reading course and picking up an author who writes the kind of tale we're unfamiliar with could introduce us to other ways of telling a story. The intricacies specific to another genre could be eye-opening.  They could help add a new dimension to the genre we normally write in.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mary Schmich said, "Good art is art that allows you to enter it from a variety of angles and to emerge with a variety of views."  I look forward to adding a little more variety to my library, and I hope new ideas will emerge for you too.

For now, I can't let a mention of Mary Schmich go by without sharing one of her greatest achievements, a laundry list of advice that director Baz Luhrmann turned into a music video.  It could change your life.  I at least guarantee it will change the next five minutes of your life.

June 15, 2015

Optimize Your Website With SEO Copywriter Services

By Eve Haugen

Many businesses have invested a lot of money in building their websites and in many different marketing strategies to attract more traffic and prospects, and ultimately, more sales.

However, most of them are still wondering why they are not getting the results they are expecting. A cheaper but effective way to get results is to optimize their websites. SEO techniques will help get their websites noticed and get higher rankings in search engine results pages.

To optimize a page, the content should be original, high quality, and informative. An effective SEO campaign always starts with keywords. Search engines check the web, site by site, page by page, for information. These information and where they come from are then indexed and stored in databases. When people search for a word or phrase, the search engine will look up its stored data and gives the user a list of websites related to the keyword searched.

Search engines will analyze a website's relevance and importance and rank them. They value good quality content, hence if a website does not have it, it may still miss traffic and not appear in SERPs and lose sales.

From their website to be a search engine favorite, smart business owners know when to utilize the services of search engine optimization copywriters. They could be firms or freelancers. They have the skills and experience to optimize a website and maximize rankings through well-researched keyword incorporated to well-written content.

Copywriters can draw the readers in, creating a good relationship between the audience and the brand. They also perform research and analysis of strategies used and keep track of progress, as well as monitor competitors. They provide businesses with branding lines, tag lines, themes, and slogans.

Even if people won't read a page word for word, what is shown and how content is shown on a website makes a difference. When people find a website relevant and engaging, they will recommend it to their friends, and they will come back for more and buy the product. This not only means more organic traffic, but also more sales.

Getting the right person to represent a brand and overhaul a website can be difficult. Since what he is going to do is crucial to the business, it is only understandable that some business owners are picky when choosing the ONE.

There are copywriting firms, and there are freelancers, both can be equally good.  How does one go in finding the right SEO copywriters? The first thing to be considered is to check samples of their writing. Good freelancers most likely have a blog of their own. Next, make sure that the copywriter understands the kind of industry the business is in. 

A lot of people may write well, but writing about a particular brand is entirely different. Greater knowledge and understanding of the brand is necessary so that the product will be promoted effectively. Lastly, a good copywriter does not sacrifice content for SEO.  Content should be written for human readers as well, and not only for search engines.
Eve Haugen has been a freelance writer for a long while. Her passion in writing is her main drive in crafting articles that are engaging, informative, and meaningful. Her partnership with QuickSEOResult has given her a whole new opportunity to take writing to a whole new level.

June 12, 2015

Kidnapping Your Darlings

By Craig Faustus Buck

This morning, when Annette Cole Mastron asked me back to Suite T for another post on writing, her invitation arrived on an unusually eventful day. Though I've been a professional writer of nonfiction, screenplays and short stories for decades, I had never been a published novelist until this morning. I expected the birth of my debut novel 
Go Down Hard, in the planning stages since last September, to be filled with social media tasks. Early reviews have been positive (the American Library Association's Booklist said, "It's a crime novel dream."), friends have been supportive, and my publisher Brash Books has been enthusiastic and generous with marketing initiatives (a rare trait in a publisher these days).

But when I got up to start my day, my plans were quickly derailed by the news that I had been nominated for an Anthony Award for a short story called "Honeymoon Sweet." For the uninitiated, the Anthony is given out every year at Bouchercon, the world's largest crime writing convention, which takes place this year in Raleigh, NC.

I was struck by the irony of this confluence of events because the short story, which took me three weeks to write, was born of the jetsam from the novel, which took three years.  Jetsam is part of a ship, its equipment, or its cargo that is purposely cast overboard or jettisoned to lighten the load in times of distress and washes ashore (if it remains floating asea, it's flotsam). The jetsam of Go Down Hard--the passages, B-stories, peripheral characters and so on that I'd cut--washed ashore in a file called "Bits." I keep such a file for every project I write. Just because something doesn't work in one story doesn't mean it won't work in another. I've even had Bits spark stories of their own. My Bits are my literary recycling bins.

When I saw a call for short stories with beach settings for last year's Bouchercon anthology, I rummaged through my Bits and ran across a pair of hapless low-rent thieves who are hopelessly in love, but doomed by the fact that he's not as smart as she and they both know it.

This couple had been superfluous in Go Down Hard, but as the heroes of their own story they seemed perfect. I set them up to marry, then break into one of the multi-million dollar vacation homes on Santa Monica beach for their honeymoon. The two of them pretty much wrote their own story from there, and the disparity in their intellects played perfectly into the complication and the resolution.

If there's a moral to this piece it's: be a hoarder. I'd say that ninety percent of my short stories have started out as Bits cut from longer pieces. If you've put a lot of time and effort into writing something that isn't working in your WIP, don't let it go to waste. Instead of "killing your darlings," just lock them away in a dark closet for a while.

Craig Faustus Buck is an award-winning author and screenwriter. His debut novel Go Down Hard was published May 5, 2015 (Brash Books). His other works include two #1 NYT nonfiction bestsellers, an Oscar-nominated short film, and the miniseries V: The Final Battle.  He lives in LA where noir was born. He has been a journalist, a photographer, a nonfiction book author, a writer-producer for network television, a multi-award nominated short-story writer and a professional limerick writer. His short story, "Honeymoon Sweet," is a current Anthony Award nominee (available free to read or podcast)  His debut novel, the noir mystery "Go Down Hard", was published by Brash Books in 2015. Before that it earned First Runner Up at Killer Nashville for the Claymore Award.  His novella "Psycho Logic" was published by Stark Raving Press in 2014. It is the continuation of his short story "Dead End," which was an Anthony nominee as well. Among other works, two nonfiction books were #1 NYT bestsellers--one pop-psychology the other pop-gynecology. His short film, "Overnight Sensation", was nominated for an Academy Award. He was one of the writers on the seminal miniseries "V: The Final Battle." He wrote the famous episode where "The Incredible Hulk" dropped acid. His indie feature, "Smuggling for Gandhi", is scheduled for production in 2016. He is on the national board of the Mystery Writers of America and President of the SoCal Chapter, a Director at Large of Sisters in Crime LA, and an active member of the Writers Guild of America and International Thriller Writers.