January 29, 2016

Being a Writer

By Deborah H. Bateman

As a writer it is easy to get caught up in doing all the things that go along with being a writer besides writing our books, such as: blogging, marketing, social media, writing conferences, speaking, etc. The list can go on and on. If we aren’t careful we can become obsessed with all of it and forget that we are human beings with many other needs including spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and financial.

Many of us have other roles to play in our lives. We may be parents, spouses, and some of us even employees. We have families to care for, relationships to tend to, and a house to clean, just to mention a few. We have to remember that writing is not our life; it is a part of our life. If we aren’t careful it can consume our lives and cause us to sacrifice some of the things that are most important to us.

I am preaching to the choir as I am writing this article in the middle of the night, but what can you do when you wake up with something on your mind, but get up and write it down. That’s what we writers do. These are lessons that I have had to learn and am continuing to learn. If we neglect our families, our homes, our relationships, and our own personal needs all for the sake of writing what kind of life will we have. We need to learn to carve out time for our writing in our lives, and all the things that go along with it and not let it be our life. I challenge you to examine your life today and see what areas you are neglecting and see how you can improve your life.
Deborah H.Bateman is an Author, publisher, blogger and website designer. She is the founder of Christian Daily Resources, a Christian online ministry dedicated to "Sharing God's Word." Deborah was born and raised in South Carolina, where she still resides with her husband. She has two beautiful daughters and five precious grandchildren. Besides writing and publishing books, Deborah enjoys cooking, interior decorating, and crafts. Deborah is the author of the books in the Daily Bible Reading Series. Deborah's Daily Bible Reading blog has been moved to her author site at: She is also the author of Bible Verse Tweet blog where she shares daily Bible studies and Bible verses at You can check out her website at: Deborah enjoys "Sharing God's Word" and empowering others to share their message. Deborah's author site at: Deborah has a blog on her author site where she shares Daily Bible Reading and some self-publishing tips, digital publishing tips, indie publishing tips, book marketing tips, writing tips, and social media tips check it out at:

January 28, 2016

Someday Isle

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine    

Someday Isle
Someday Isle is a beautiful place
That glows and glistens in the sun
A beautiful place we will never go
And nothing will ever get done

This is my take on Brian Tracey’s and Denis Waitley’s Someday Isle, pronounced Someday I’ll. Denis Waitley sees Someday Isle as a place to find happiness. Brian Tracey sees it as a crowded Isle full of people that share excuses for why they have yet to do the things they want to do someday. I see it differently.

I see Someday Isle as a carefree convenient place we all tend to escape to from time to time. I say escape to but actually it is not a destination. Someday Isle is in itself an excuse. You never need to travel to go there. We go there by simply saying, “Someday Isle clean the garage, visit a friend, do something with the kids or chase a dream.” Good intentions yes and a great idea but by using the phrase Someday Isle you commit to procrastination.

You procrastinate for many reasons. Usually using Someday Isle means you may not now have a legitimate excuse but you are buying time until one comes along. It could also mean you are hesitant and waiting for the right time to proceed. In the world of sales we call that waiting for all the lights to turn green before you leave the house. Odds are that will never happen.

“There are seven days in a week, and someday isn’t one of them.” Rita Chand
How do we overcome this habit of using Someday Isle? One way is when you catch yourself using “Someday Isle”, just say to yourself, “Why not TODAY?” Reality should set in and honesty takes over as you search for the ways to start today. If your idea was legitimate you should find a way to pursue it and take the first step now. Take Someday Isle and make it NOW!

Another way to break the habit is to do what Brian Tracey recommends, vote yourself off the island. Many of us watch the TV show Survivor and understand being voted off the island. In this case vote yourself off and the way to do it is determine you will decide on the position of “NO EXCUSES, ONLY SOLUTIONS”.

“Trust your gut” as they say. Believe in you intuition and instinct. Many great ideas come to us in this way. Don’t overlook an idea or a dream. Hang on to it, share it, get feedback and take that first step. Packing its bags and sending it off to Someday Isle should be the last thing you consider. .        

January 27, 2016

Trying too Hard?

By Vickie Carroll

All my life my German DNA has been at war with my Irish DNA. When it comes to writing that became a problem. Part of me wants to let my creative side alone, to let it develop naturally, to listen, wait, and trust that the story will come. That is my Irish side talking. My German side says get busy, get it done, and work your plan. I walk away from the computer many days with a headache as my two personalities slug it out. This combination has served me well at times but has made my writing life difficult at times. I do meet those deadlines, and I follow through, try hard, and edit and over-edit.  My finished product is fine most all the time, but somewhere along the way, I killed the joy of writing with my attempt to control everything. I had to ask myself, am I making it harder than it has to be?

I made a vow (my new year's resolution) that this year I would sit back and listen to what my characters tell me and allow my stories to develop without so much editor-me interference. I was determined to allow the muse to visit me and welcome her with open arms. I swore I would stop editing as I wrote and just let the creative process be what it was. I was successful about half the time.
One day I sat down at the computer and realized my entire body was in a clinched state. I love writing, so what was wrong with me? Why did approaching the computer stressing me out? What was blocking me from the idea and outlining process to the actual story writing? That is when I understood what I was doing. I was setting expectations for the outcome before I even sat down to work.

Now when I approach the computer I am not frowning and my stomach in not roiling. I sit down with only one purpose: let me get this character on the page, or let me get this great action or location scene down...the rest will come. When I took that pressure of final expectation away, it allowed my creative side freedom while it satisfied my "business-side" to know that I was getting something done that was important.

Lesson learned: stop trying so hard and remember the joy of the process and the reason I write--the love of sharing a story.  

Vickie lives in the Atlanta area, is a native Georgian, and worked for a major university before leaving recently to write full time.  She has written and published many articles and short stories but she has recently ventured into the world of fiction. Her first fiction book, The Ghost of Kathleen Murphy, released on Amazon January 1st, followed by her second book, Murder at the Peach Blossom Inn late June. Connect with her on her new blog page just up and a work in progress at:  Twitter:  @vlcarroll67 Her webpage coming soon.  Vickie - Writing by Moonlight

January 26, 2016

New words to know in 2016

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

The catchword of any given day is one of the great mysteries.  Where they come from is often anyone's guess, as multiple sources take credit for a new word or phrase, banishing its true origin into ambiguity.

Easier to narrow down is why a catchword catches on.  The better ones do so because they fill a gap, providing a word for a situation that didn't previously exist, or offering clarity to one that did. Plus, using them helps us feel hip and with it, man.  Oh wait, I think man is out.

Once a catchword captures enough people's ears and establishes a certain longevity, the dictionaries of the day deign it worthy of immortalization.  In the past year, Merriam-Webster added an amazing 1,700 new words to its already hefty reference.  Today I thought I'd share ten of the best and worst new additions.  I'll include my unsolicited critiques of each, just because I can.  I mean, to help you remember them.

Yep, you'll be seeing more of this anagram from now on. warning that a website or email attachment is Not Safe (or Suitable) for Work.  (Please note that Suite T is ALWAYS safe for work.)

Again, the internet plays a role in this.  Emojis are those little images added to text that represent something.  What is the difference between an emoji and an emoticon, you ask?  Emoticons only express emotion, like a smiley face or the tongue-sticking-out one that my editor Susan sends me.  Emojis, on the other hand, can be emoticons as well as any other symbol, plus it sounds more Japanese.

Used when a goofy friend intentionally messes up your photo by getting into frame and being silly.  I suspect "videobomb" will be next.

Jeans and leggings as one.  They look better than the name sounds.

Can I say it?  That horrid dance move is neither flattering nor sexy.  Bring back the Twist.

This one's interesting.  It's "a vocal effect produced by very slow vibration of the vocal cords and characterized by a creaking sound and low pitch".  Also known as the voice we do when we  say, "I can't come into work today, I have the flu."

This has been around long enough that most know it.  I think the official definition, however, should state that it must only be used between best friends of the female persuasion.  If I ever called my friend Ron my "bestie", he would punch me in the face.  If I didn't beat him to it.

I wasn't sure I even wanted to know what this meant.  But it refers to the way a guy sits when his knees are so far apart that they infringe on someone sitting next to him.  Gender-specific that it is, maybe some feminists will jump on this and squash it like the cockroach it is.  In the meantime, if I hear anyone using it, I will punch them in the face.

Let's get really ridiculous, shall we?  Those who never got used to the whole "Ms." thing when addressing a lady can now cringe at this horrific new honorific for when you don't want to be politically incorrect.  In the audio world "MX" has long stood for "music", so let's stick with that instead of reducing our fellow man (or woman) to androgeny.

I like this one, though.  It's a multi-purpose word for "bantering".  It can be a noun ("I liked your bant") or a verb ("I'm banting with my bestie and I just can't stop").  You'll see me using this one.  Be forewarned.

January 25, 2016

4 Steps to Cracking Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” List

By Tina Coleman Bausinger

My book, Cold Coffee and Speed Limits hit #6 on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” Parenting and Family Humor category. It was released less than a week ago and I don’t have any major publishers or big-time book reviewers backing me. For brief shining moment, my book was in front of Whoopi Goldberg’s and Jim Gaffigan’s books! 

My little geek self is still in awe. I published my first novel through a traditional small press publisher (so yes, someone bought it and I signed an actual contract), but when it was time to put out my second book I decided to do it Indie-style–on my own. I crossed over into Best Sellers (so briefly, so no, Ma, I’m not “rich yet”), as well as the Top Rated book list. It’s week 3 and I’m still on the Hot New Releases list, in two categories.

Here’s what I’ve done–and it’s WORKED.

1. Social Media: USE IT! My favorites are Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. This includes tiny teasers on my Facebook posts as well as individual pages just for this book. Because I have Fiction and Books pages on Pinterest, I put it on there as well. I also put it on my Writer’s Café page on Facebook where I’ve accumulated over 1000 followers. It’s free advertising. I chatted it up to my friends, who also chatted it up with their friends. Word of mouth goes a long way!

2. I’ve been blogging my butt off. This has cost me nothing but my time, although I have invested in a nice-looking template and a few other goodies. Blogging has helped establish me as an “expert” in my field as well as given me material for my book. In addition, it helps my “Google-ability” or my social media presence. I don’t blog only about my book—that’s boring and people will dump you like last night’s leftovers. I blog about my family, about writing, about teaching—all of which are organic topics for me.  I’ve also gained readers who are interested in my blog about parenting teens, so naturally many of these same readers are also interested in buying a book about the same topic. If you spend time giving people valuable information (or inspiration, or entertainment), they will come back for more.

3. Don’t try to skip a professional cover. When I was working on my draft, I had a really cute picture of my son and his girlfriend for the temporary cover, then I asked my friend  who’s a pro in graphics and marketing to help me. I paid him in ENCHILADAS, people. I mean, they’re pretty good enchiladas, but I know he was on the losing end of this deal. A professionally designed cover sets you apart and gives you an edge.

4. I asked for help. Not psychological help (but who knows how long that will last), but help editing and promoting my book. In exchange for an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC), readers promised to 1) give me HONEST feedback 2) tell me of any spelling/grammar/continuity issues 3) write a short review and 4) help me promote my book on social media. It’s a cheap price to pay, AND I placed excerpts of the reviews in the beginning of the book so that people who were just checking it out might be motivated to KEEP READING. This cost me nothing but my pride. When my book was released, I asked these ladies (as well as others) to go on Amazon and post a review there. Reviews (even less than 5 stars!) add a legitimacy to your book.

So remember, PLAN AHEAD. You don’t have big bucks for promotion, but you do have to spend some time. It’s all worth it to see your book on the list!
Tina Coleman Bausinger has a Master’s degree in English and is the author of War Eagle Women, a Southern gothic novel and Cold Coffee and Speed Limits. She’s a contributing writer in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, publishing in two of their books--Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad: 101 Stories of Gratitude, Love, and Good Times and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners: 101 Inspirational Stories of Energy, Endurance, and Endorphins. She writes features, travel pieces and book reviews for IN Magazine, the Tyler Paper, and enjoys blogging at . She teaches English Composition at a local junior college. She lives in Tyler, Texas with her husband, three kids, a bully Chihuahua and a German shepherd with anxiety issues. Contact Tina on any of her pages. Facebook: or Pinterest.

January 22, 2016

You’ve Written a Book – What Next?

By Dr. Lin Stepp

The calls, emails, and questions I get most often as an author are from new writers who say, “I’ve just finished a book.  What do I do now to get it published?” Most hope to be traditionally published—versus self-publishing their book—so I’m addressing my blog response to these writers.

Dear new author …
I am so excited you’ve finished your first book and I know you are eager to find a publishing home for it.  As requested, here are my tips to help you in your journey to find a publisher:
(1) First, be sure your book is the best it can be; it’s “your product” and it is your responsibility to prepare and package it in the best way possible. New writers often don’t have enough experience to recognize inherent problems that could keep their work from getting a contract.  Like parents with a new baby, they see their creation as beautiful, perfect, and without flaw.  But, unfortunately, like any “first effort,” it needs a lot of work. … So a writer’s first job is to self-edit their book extensively using a thorough guidebook like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, and then to pay a qualified editor to read and provide further help before submission.
(2) Once the product is “professionally polished and edited,” the next step is to find an agent or a publisher.  An agent helps an author find a publisher and negotiate publishing contracts.  Books such as The Writer’s Market provide listings of reputable agents as well as reputable publishers.  Many large publishing giants will not accept direct queries from authors without an agent, but many publishers will. There are no “credentialing associations” for agents or publishers, as for attorneys or CPAs, so a new writer must carefully research either for credibility, checking authors they represent and associations they belong to.  Authors must also be legally watchful about contracts they sign with either.  A website called “Preditors and Editors” can help, as there are many predators willing to take advantage of eager, excited, and inexperienced authors.  Be wary and “run” from any agent or publisher who wants money from you to handle your work.
(3) Once a reputable offer comes in from a publisher—directly or via an agent—have a publishing attorney review any contract before signing it.  I have heard enough heart-breaking stories of contracts signed in haste to wisely council any new author to be extremely careful of any and all contracts.  They are easy to sign but not easy to get out of.
(4) When you are “pitching” your book to an agent or publisher, be aware that you’re creating a marketing pitch for your product. Study the guidelines for creating good query letters, and read the guidelines each agent or publisher provides regarding submissions—and adhere to them rigidly. Be aware that not only is an author pitching their book “for sale” … they are pitching themselves as an author.  The question is not simply: Why should an agent or publisher be interested in your book?... but Why should they be interested in you as an author?  What qualifies you to write your book?  What educational and work background could be an asset as an author?  How long did it take you to write your book and how quickly can an agent or publisher expect to see another in follow-up?  Agents and publishers want to put their time and money behind “producers.”  

Finally, what plans can you present to an agent or publisher as to how you will help market and promote your product?  A whole new career begins for an author after a contract is signed and you need to be ready to discuss your proposed part in it.  An excellent help book in this area is Chuck Sambuchino’s Create Your Writer Platform.

As you can see from these four tips, it takes a lot of work to find a publisher for a book. It is naïve to assume the job is done when the book is finished.  The reality is that getting a book ready to present to an agent or a publisher requires extensive study, research, and effort. If an author is unwilling to study, research, and work in the stages prior to publication, they are unlikely to gain a publisher or to be successful if they do. A popular quote suggests: “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.”

However, if you’re up for the climb, the view is great from the top.
Dr. Lin Stepp is a native Tennessean, a businesswoman, and an educator. She is an adjunct faculty member at Tusculum College where she teaches research psychology. Her business background includes over 25 years in marketing, sales, production art, and regional publishing. She has editorial and writing experience in regional magazines and in the academic field.  A USA Today and Publisher Weekly best-selling author, Lin has seven published novels, each set in different locations around the Smoky Mountains. Her latest novel, Makin’ Miracles, set in Gatlinburg, was just released by Kensington and followed by Saving Laurel Springs in the fall of 2015 and Welcome Back in the spring of 2016.  A short novel “A Smoky Mountain Gift” was included in the Christmas anthology When the Snow Falls released by Kensington Publishing in the fall of 2014 following the June 2014 release of  Down by the River set in Townsend, TN.  Lin’s other previously published titles include: Second Hand Rose (2013), Delia’s Place (2012), For Six Good Reasons (2011), Tell Me About Orchard Hollow (2010), and The Foster Girls (2009). Lin and her husband J.L. also published a Smokies hiking guide in January of 2014, distributed through The University of Tennessee Press, titled The Afternoon Hiker, which includes 110 trail descriptions and over 300 color photos. Lin has two grown children and two cats -  and loves to hike, paint, read, teach, and speak and share about her writing. WEBSITE:

January 21, 2016

Winning the Powerball in Tennessee

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine 

"Winner winner...chicken dinner." Yes, that's right, I won in the biggest lottery jackpot ever in the U.S. Powerball. My win was a whopping $8, just enough to buy a chicken dinner from World Famous Gus's Fried Chicken in Memphis, TN.

The Powerball lottery on January 12, 2016 was approximately 1.6 billion dollars. There were three winners of the big jackpot. Lisa and John Robinson were the first winners to publicly announce their win. They live in a town of 6000 folks in Munford, TN just north of Memphis. The Robinsons said they agreed to appear on NBC's Today Show prior to claiming their winnings on advice of their lawyer, Joe Townsend. The day was a whirlwind for the couple. They appeared on The Today Show, flying by charter jet from Memphis to NYC. After the Today Show appearance, they flew from NYC to Nashville to claim their winnings. From Nashville, they flew back to Memphis where a limousine whisk them away. They had a private tour of Elvis's home, Graceland. The Graceland tour was shown on NBC's Today Show on Monday. I'm happy for this couple and wish them well. I hope they are able to retreat back to their former lives and enjoy their winnings. Unfortunately, because of the publicity it seems that may be hard for them to do.

As authors, we work in relative obscurity. Once published, we have to get the word out about our books. It requires authors to become actively public on social media. An author may participate in tv and radio interviews, book signings and maybe even an appearance on NBC's Today Show. So how do you keep your private life private? The trick is being able to retreat from the public eye to resume your life as you write your next book.

The lessons to learn from these TN lottery winners is to be cautious with what you share as an author. The Robinsons had a personal social media presence and it was still viewable when they appeared on The Today Show. They were candid in their interview about were they worked, lived, shopped for groceries and attended church. Their home was seen on local news both tv and in print. It is my hope they now have security in place to help them manage any unwanted contact from the public.

Author J. K. Rowling moved her family to a Scottish estate, Killiechassie midway through the famed Harry Potter seven-book series. She authored four of the Potter books in this home. She has sold that estate and now resides in a 17th century mansion commonly referred to by Edinburgh locals as "the fortress Rowling." 

Rowling seems to have found the balance of protecting her private life and maintaining contact with her fans via her interactive website, Pottermore. Her website is geared to entertain her fans without the need to make her private life public. Something to consider before your book becomes the next big thing. 

What are your thoughts? 

January 20, 2016

Do’s and Don’t’s Once Your Book is Written

By Liz DeJesus

So…you’ve written a book. More than that, you’ve gone through the proper steps to get it published! Congratulations!  Once the moment of euphoria wears off you’ll start to wonder…what now? If you’re anything like me you’ve looked up every bookstore within driving distance, called them and scheduled a book signing.

Here are a few useful tips for your big day.
1.       Wear something nice. If you’re a lady, wear a dress or a blouse and pants. If you are a gentleman, a nice shirt, jeans and a blazer will do the trick. Also, wear comfy shoes.
2.       Smile. You want to seem friendly and approachable.
3.       Invest in plastic holders. You want people to be able to see the cover of your book from a few feet away.
4.       Practice your pitch. If someone asks you what your book is about you need to have something ready immediately.
5.       Make eye contact.
6.       Chat with people. Ask them what kind of books they like to read.
7.       Be yourself! If you’re a smart, funny, quirky person then be that. Unless you can be a unicorn…
8.       Be prepared for anything. I’m notoriously prepared for any worst-case scenario. I have a first aid kit, Advil, pepto bismol, lunch, water, crackers, sunscreen, and an extra dress packed among my stuff. The last thing you want is for your zipper to break right before a book signing and no way to fix it. And yes, this has happened to me.
9.       Talk to people about why you write. Share tips on writing. Talk about some of your favorite books and what inspired you to write your book.
10.   Freebies! Everyone loves getting something for free, whether its candy, stickers, bookmarks, etc. That’s the best way to start a conversation with people as they walk by your table.
11.   Decorate your table and have a theme in mind. For example, for my Frost Series, I have many fairy tale themed items.
12.   Have fun!

1.       Don’t yell at people. Seriously, I’ve seen this happen.
2.       Don’t spend the entire time trying to sell your book. Engage with people. Ask them what brings them to the bookstore. Ask them what kind of books they like to read. No one likes the desperate salesman.
3.       Don’t over-decorate your table. People need to see your book.
4.       Don’t be nervous. Relax, have fun.  
5.       Don’t write another book while you’re sitting at the table. You’re not a writer on display as though you’re in some strange zoo. You’ll give people the impression that you don’t want to be bothered while you’re ‘working’. Save the writing for home.
6.       Don’t frown. No one wants to talk to someone who looks like they’re having the worst day ever. 
7.       Don’t spend all your time on your phone.
8.       Don’t forget to promote your event! That means create flyers, postcards and advertise the event on Facebook and twitter. Be sure to let everyone know.
Liz DeJesus was born on the tiny island of Puerto Rico.  She is a novelist, freelance writer, writing coach and a poet. She has been writing for as long as she was capable of holding a pen. She is the author of the novel Nina (Blu Phi'er Publishing, October 2007), The Jackets (Arte Publico Press, March 2011) First Frost (Re-realeased through Indie Gypsy Summer 2015), Glass Frost (Re-released through Indie Gypsy Summer 2015), Shattered Frost (Indie Gypsy, Summer 2015) and Morgan (Indie Gypsy, July 2014). Her work has also appeared in Night Gypsy:Journey Into Darkness (Indie Gypsy, October 2012), Twice Upon a Time (Bearded Scribe Press, Winter 2015) and Someone Wicked (Smart Rhino Publications, Winter 2013). Her articles have been featured in Southern Writers Magazine. Liz is currently working on a new novel and a comic book series titled Zombie Ever After (Emerald Star Comics). Liz’s Social Media Links are:

January 19, 2016

How Does One Get Their Name Known?

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

Years ago, there was a movie where a fledging movie character was trying to become a big movie star. She tried every way she could think of to bring attention to herself so agents, and/or movie moguls would notice her. Nothing worked.  She hooks up with a guy who is sure he can get attention for her to get a movie contract.

He sends her to Europe, while he pulls together a workable plan to get her noticed. He goes to all the newspaper reporters…gets to know them and starts dropping hints about the Mystery Starlet in Europe that may be coming to the States. He knew if the movie houses thought she was a big star coming to the states that would create interest.  (I told you, it was years ago-before television.)

After starting and feeding the rumors to the reporters he makes her mysterious, doesn’t give her name. Telling them it needs to be on the ‘hush-hush’. That of course is like telling someone not to breathe. Immediately the reporters are writing articles hyping the coming of this mystery star from Europe.  The reporters fell for it, newspaper headlines were printing: “Big Time Star–visiting America.” Another won read, “Rumor has it, one of the ‘big’ movie houses is bringing mystery starlet here to sign a contract with them.” Another paper would read, “Who is she and who is the movie house.” These titles and articles were in the papers for a week. This is back when big cities had more than one newspaper.

Name-dropping used every day in business deals is advantageous. Did you know the more times people see and hear your name the more important people believe you are?

Authors have to remember writing is a business. The book is their product. So who is the company? The Author–the writer is the company. They produce the product, the books.
How does a company sell their product? By advertising their name. How do they advertise? They use television, newspapers, radio; we even see ads in the movie theaters. They use mail advertisement…catalogs, flyers, post cards, letters, email. You name it they use it. Remember, they even use the good year blimp!

These companies do this, not to just sell a product, but they do it to get their name in front of us. To get their company name well known. They spend millions doing this every year. They want you to think of them, not their competitors.

That’s what the guy in the movie did. He plastered the information about this mystery starlet coming to America to sign a contract…and you can imagine what happened. She had the heads of the movie houses bidding for her…sight unseen…well acting unseen. Long story short, it worked. She signed a big contract. An unknown, became well known.

My point? We have to get out of our comfort zones…and take advantage of the avenues we have to market our names, our products. We have to put a plan together to get our names out there, making sure people see our names as often as possible.

January 18, 2016

Integrating Social Media and Websites

By Sheena Mathieson

The advancement of technology has certainly made an impact about the way big and small companies run. What used to be a fine line between personal and professional interaction has suddenly become blurry. A fine example of this is the use of social media. Much of the members of the society use various social media platforms to explore, learn and reflect about things that are of importance. There are many who turn to social media marketing and use it as a strategy to promote their business online. It is probably one of the best ways (and the least expensive) to reach the current generation who are transfixed on their multipurpose gadgets.

Businesses have resorted to a strategy just like social media marketing to keep up with the current trends. Depending on the target market of your users, the majority of existing and possible customers can be found directly online. Also, they are the ones who hold disposable income, which makes them a target for exposure towards certain products and services. By implementing the perfect blend of marketing techniques, you can easily round up these customers and the easier it is for you to relay on what you have to say towards them.

There is a bigger world in the digital marketplace and that is why many continue to find many opportunities here compared to elsewhere. This is probably one of the main reasons people exhaust a huge chunk of their resources here and not there. It doesn’t matter where people come from, what language they speak or what they are doing because the most important thing is that they have access to the internet. After all, being seen online through promotions and advertisements, when done the right way, can make huge waves. If you’re a small company, you can really learn a lot from the giants who exert a lot of effort in order to promote their brand all over the world. They make it a point that their products and/or services are readily available to a fellow neighbor or someone who is thousands of miles away. With the cyber world, anything is more than possible.

Social media marketing is here to stay for a relatively long amount of time and isn’t going anywhere at the meantime. While this internet savvy generation is still currently finding ways to improve their methods, there will always be a way to incorporate various social media platforms into their websites to reach and expand the number of interested members. We will continue surprising ourselves to what the future holds for us. We will never know if integrating social media into our company websites will become a stepping-stone into something bigger unless we try it.
Sheena Mathieson is a content writer from Kentucky. She understands the essence of making excellent content that suits the needs of every business especially when it comes online marketing. She can spice up your marketing campaign with the content she writes. Her social media links are Twitter: and

January 15, 2016

Approaching the First Edit

By Terry Shames

You finished! The first draft is done. High fives all around. You deserve to celebrate because for every writer who finishes a first daft there are hundreds who promised themselves they would and that day never arrived.

Now give yourself a few days to tackle the chores that have been pushed to the background. And do something nice for yourself--get a massage, have an extra glass of wine, or go out to dinner. Try to make the feeling last because before long you’ll have that nagging realization that you aren’t done—not by a long shot. Fear will start to build in you. You’ll tiptoe around your desk and computer, hoping whatever is lurking there won’t reach out and grab you.

Probably in the history of writing someone got everything right the first time. But let’s face it--you probably didn’t. More likely the opposite is true. The first draft is a hot mess.

There are books, articles and classes on how to edit your manuscript. But no one addresses how to bridge that huge gap between relief that you actually got a draft done and dread that you now have to start the editing process. It’s brutal. It doesn’t just happen to beginners either. Every writer has that sinking feeling when they start to edit.

Here are a few hints to ease you into the process:

1)     Remind yourself that editing takes time. It took several weeks or months to write the first draft. It’s going to take just as long to edit—or longer. Remember how insurmountable 70,000 words looked when you typed the first page? It wasn’t. You finished and you can do it again. (And again).

2)     Before you begin, spend a few hours thinking about what general things work well in the book. “My dialog seemed to come really easily. I felt like I knew the protagonist. I love one of the plot twists I came up with.” Be specific. Write them down.

3)     Now spend equal time thinking about what you know needs to be addressed. Again, be specific. “I still don’t feel like I’ve nailed the protagonist’s girlfriend. The middle seemed really slow. I may need to do a little more research on X.”

4)     Decide in advance how you are going to tackle the edits. Do you work best going chapter by chapter, forging ahead until the entire edit cycle is done? Do you work best perfecting one scene at a time before you move forward? Do you feel so strongly about the plot issues that you have to address them before you tackle the characters?

It’s best to establish control from the beginning. When you feel as if you’ve run off the rails, it can steady you to go back and remind yourself what is good about the story. And to remind yourself that you knew some things needed work. 
Terry Shames writes the best-selling Samuel Craddock series, set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, Texas. A Killing at Cotton Hill was a finalist for numerous awards and won the Macavity for Best First Mystery, 2013. The Last Death of Jack Harbin was a Macavity finalist for Best Mystery, 2014 and was named one of the top ten mysteries of 2014 by Library Journal and top five of 2014 by MysteryPeople. Her fifth Craddock mystery, The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake launched January 2016.

January 14, 2016

Being Prepared for the Unexpected

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine    

Some time ago I wrote a blog about being prepared to sign your book when asked. It came to me from a story I had heard Pete Rose relate when asked about what kids playing baseball needed to learn that they were not being taught. He said they needed to be prepared to sign a baseball. It not only reinforces them for the possibility of playing professionally but it achieves the skill necessary to sign the curved surface. Pete Rose’s signature is one of the more legible signatures in baseball.

The other lesson on this came from my niece who was at the time a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. She had shared with me they were taught and practiced a precise wording and signature to use. They were taught to do so without variation. This established a standard that the organization required and prevented any sort of awkwardness on their part.

Over the years I found another area where I personally had failed to be prepared for, that being the unexpected meeting of a celebrity. After a few encounters with someone I admired, respected or was a fan of.  I decided I needed to come up with a phrase that didn’t sound ridiculous or embarrassing.

We all have heard of the fan meeting the celebrity and blurting out, “You are my biggest fan.” I hadn’t done that but had felt just as silly as someone who has. So I can up with something that seemed appropriate to me and have had the opportunity to use it many times. I have said what many people say when being introduced or just meeting anyone for the first time and that is, “What a pleasure to meet you.” Simple and it gives me time to think about what I may want to say next. If I see a celebrity and would like to introduce myself. I simply ask, “May I say hello?” I’ve yet to have anyone say no. But think how it would sound telling someone no you can’t tell me hello? I found this preparation most useful on two occasions.  

In the early days of Southern Writers Magazine I was going on a vacation to Orange Beach, AL. I knew this was the hometown of bestselling author Andy Andrews so I jokingly told our staff while there I would look Andy up and get an interview. Now there was no way Andy would know me or our Magazine at the time because we had only come out with first issue and were not known. So one late evening I stopped in Wal-Mart for a few items and there Andy stood at the checkout counter with his two sons. I introduced myself and Andy ended up on the cover of our second issue.

On another occasion I had purchased concert tickets to a concert at the Ryman Auditorium showcasing two of my favorite singer songwriters. The two were Jason Isbell, the Americana Music Artist, Album and Song winner of the year, and Paul Janeway of St Paul and the Broken Bones.  Entering the venue early for a quick tour of the building I ran into Paul Janeway. I introduced myself and we talked for a minute. I had my picture made as well and he was on his way to the dressing room. Minutes later as I was leaving the building up drove Jason Isbell and wife. In this case due to their busy unloading of the bags from their car and what I was afraid would be an interruption I asked permission to say hello. Sure I was told and we got to visit and again a photo. 

Having met two celebrities within minutes and each being someone I could have been so easily excited about meeting that I could embarrassed myself, I was glad for my preparation.  As your writing career takes you various places you should be prepared for meeting people weather it is signing autographs or asking for an autograph. Be as prepared as you possibly can and you should better present yourself as a writer or a fan.                                 

January 13, 2016

Enthused About Writing

By Linda Carlson

I consider myself a born writer, and I’ve been lucky to be published by mainstream media since I was a teenager. The books, the articles, and the speeches I write are good because I get enthused about topics, do thorough research, ask hard questions and have a clear focus on my intended reader. Even more important: I’m organized. And that doesn’t come easy.

Nonfiction manuscripts of almost any length do not organize themselves. I begin with the same tool we learned in grade school: the outline. Except I don’t worry about Roman numeral this, and capital letter number that. I just jot down the topics I want to cover---in whatever order they come to mind. Some people use index cards, paper or digital, which can be shuffled. For Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, I wanted to describe daily life in employer-owned communities, and the big question was whether to do it by community or by topic. The choice was topic, with chapters on education, religion, housing and with demographics covered in “Who Lived in Company Towns?” and periods of crisis in “Depression and World Wars.” Each includes examples from a few towns, and to satisfy my personal commitment to identifying hundreds of villages that no longer exist, the end matter includes a gazetteer briefly describing each town researched.

My outlines are also important because they keep me honest. That is, they force me to answer the questions I expect my readers to ask. When I write about marketing, the outline for “Outdoor Advertising” has to include more than billboards, and it has to include the media purchase (the rental of the billboard, transit sign, taxi cab topper, etc.), the production cost and typical advantages and disadvantages of each medium. When I wrote about company towns, I dug through vintage ads to compare prices in company stores and chain supermarkets, as well as interviewing former company-town residents and grocers about quality and credit policies. When I write about publishing, my outline includes traditional contracts, work-for-hire, and the many ways to self-publish.

When I’m writing, I’m often smitten by anecdotes that are not central to the point, stories I badly want to share. So here’s where my outline serves as the road map: it keeps me on an interstate highway, guiding me to the direct route through my topic. If format and word count allows, the cherished anecdotes can become the equivalent of side trips, possibly presented as sidebars or footnotes. If a publisher requires words to be cut, these are already identified as extras.
In short, while creating an outline can be hard work, it’s a discipline that can organize a writer’s thoughts, eliminate some of the false starts most of us make, ensure we have complete information, and most important, help each of us make the best possible presentation of our material.
Linda Carlson is the author of 15 books, including Advertising with Small Budgets for Big Results (Barrett Street Productions) and Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest (University of Washington Press). She has also been published by John Wiley and Prentice Hall. A graduate of Washington State University and the Harvard Business School, Carlson has written for the monthly of the Independent Book Publishers Association since 2005. For more information,,