January 31, 2017

Do You Offer Your Readers Convenience? Do You Exceed Their Expectations?

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

While searching a subject on the internet, I clicked on an article of interest, and before I could read the first three words, a Fed Ex commercial popped up. Normally I delete ads right away. This particular ad, however, caught my eye.

There was a big header. Even though it had people bending over a table in the ad, that didn’t draw my attention, the title topper did. “See how Fed Ex can help your business save time on shipping.” Now I know about using Fed Ex, UPS and the USPO for my shipping needs so I wasn’t looking for a refresher course. But I was curious as to how they would showcase their answer. How were they going to help their customer?

The answers they showed were simple but sincere and insightful.  So what was that answer? Offer convenience –– exceed expectations.

That made an impression on me and piqued my interest as to how do authors offer convenience to their readers and how do they exceed reader’s expectations?

I began going through different books I had read, scanning the pages. Sometimes when I read certain books; I will mark errors I see, stumbling sentences, initials for phrases, confusing paragraphs and words that don’t fall off the tongue. In other words things that causes a reader to stumble when reading.

One item in particular that is a problem for readers is the author’s use of initials of phrases. Doing this leaves your reader having to stop, guess the phrase you are referring to, if they even know, and then go back and reread the sentence or if they are lucky, pick up where they left off. Authors need to keep things simple so as not to impede the readers flow.  

Another ease authors can make for their readers is making sure there are as few errors as possible for the reader to stumble over. I am an avid reader, and it is annoying when I am reading and run into blatant errors. A minor error doesn’t derail a reader, but words left out and misspelled words do cause the reader problems. The reader has to stop, come out of the story as it were, and reread what they just read. This doesn’t make readers happy and odds are, they may not buy another book from that author. Even worse, they may tell their friends how bad it was and you know word of mouth can make or break authors.

You might think these things don’t have anything to do with being convenient for a reader. But it does. When a reader chooses to sit down and read a book they want to enjoy the book, they want to lose themselves in your story. They don’t want to play guessing games with the words.

There is another form of convenience for your reader––and that is to make sure your website makes it easy for them to click on your book, and buy it. If your cover and description on your website entice them to buy your book you want to make it easy for them to do it right then. Be sure the click takes them to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to buy your book.

If you have the time, however, you can set up your site, where they buy it directly from you. When they do that, it means you must mail it, which some authors don’t like to fool with, but, it also means you get to “Sign” the book for them. People love to have author signed books. This is convenience for a reader. It is also exceeding their expectations to be able to go to the author’s website and order the book direct from the author and it be a signed copy.

What are some other suggestions you could make that would be convenient for readers and that would exceed their expectations?

January 30, 2017


By Sandy Richardson

Countless writers have compared writing and publishing to giving birth. And while most  mothers would say, “No way,” I agree that taking a book from conception to delivery is in some ways a similar process.

Guys, please don’t stop reading. This post is not for women only.
Eighteen years ago, a friend and I shared a chocolate (what other kind is there?) dessert one rainy day. We had met a few years before and formed a solid relationship as writers, readers, and women.

I have always lived in South Carolina. But my friend, while born here, was a military child and had lived all over the world. She returned to South Carolina to teach at a major university. I was Caucasian; she was African American. Married for over twenty years, with children in high school and college, I returned to the university to pursue my passion—writing. She was, comparatively, a newly wed with a toddler, and was my professor.

We discussed many things that day, but when the conversation turned to family, our mother-in-law stories crossed the lines of coincidence. How could that be when our backgrounds were so different? Did others have similar stories? Were most mothers-in-law horrible people? Or was there the possibility that the bad-rap about them could be challenged?

We wanted to know, and right there over chocolate, our book His Mother was conceived.

Later, my friend found she would not be able to participate in the book, but glowing with the idea of a new project, I continued.
TAKE AWAY: Don’t close your mind as to where book ideas can originate!

I needed contributors like a pregnant woman craves food. I wanted both published and yet-published writers, who loved the project as I did. I wanted writers with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and nationalities.
I crafted emails outlining my specific wants for the submissions. I contacted writers I knew personally. I asked them for recommendations. I contacted groups and placed submission calls on select writing websites.

Waiting on responses, I prepared my book proposal using models from books and publishers’ guidelines, paying specific attention to books on the market that might compete with His Mother.
I focused on how my book differed from these, what it offered that others did not.

I narrowed the hundred responses to eighteen suitable to my focus. Then, I began revising and editing. 
TAKE AWAY: Develop a writing network. Join writing groups and associations. Get active in the writing community.

Be specific about your REASON for writing a book, whether fiction or nonfiction. You must have a focus for writing whether you are a pantster or a plotter, or your manuscript will become unmanageable.

Seek the best advice and models for what you write.

Research the market.

REVISE and EDIT SEVERAL TIMES. Your work grows stronger in proportion to the time you allot to this.
With the sample stories in shape and the proposal done, I prepared a list of agents and publishers, and sent out the proposal. Then I waited.

Several rejections later, a flutter of interest occurred. But it came to naught.

I re-submitted the proposal, sent in full manuscripts when asked, and waited again. More rejections, another flutter, but again, it proved false.

Years passed. I grew tired. Frustrated. I distracted myself. Worked on other books. But the urge to get that book out was ever-present.

I revised and resubmitted, again.      

Then one fine day, when I felt totally out-done with the project, a contract offer arrived.
TAKE AWAY: (You already know it): DON’T GIVE UP!

After more revision and editing, all was ready, but then came a complication. Three months before the scheduled release, the publisher closed its doors.
But no way was I going to stop the momentum we had built. I owed my contributors. I decided to open my own publishing company, and His Mother debuted right on time.
TAKE AWAY: (Again) Do not give up. Be creative in your solutions to today’s publishing challenges. Believe in your work. Find a way. This business can be painful, yes, but it can also bring immeasurable joy.
Sandy Richardson is the editor and a contributing writer to His Mother! Women Write about their Mothers-in-law with Humor, Frustration, and Love (2016). Her first novel, The Girl Who Ate Chicken Feet, was published in 1998. Her other fiction and nonfiction have appeared in several anthologies.  “Nana’s Basket” (The Pettigrew Review) received a nomination for the Pushcart Prize in 2013. Richardson is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She currently writes from her home in South Carolina and is founder and Editor-in-Chief for Southern Sass Publishing Alliances. Visit Sandy at  Twitter: @Southernsaspub4

January 27, 2017

Authors, Are You Into Webinars?

 By Michael Hicks Thompson

I've had it with the non-stop email solicitations wanting to help me sell books. Of course I need to know how to better market my books! So I try to keep up. But, frankly, it’s not easy, figuring out which “Help Offer” is going to help me.

I've been on at least two dozen "How to Successfully Market Your Book" webinars. Some even charge $!  (I've found a few that don't charge, yet offer good insight. Like Joan Stewart's The Publicity Hound.) 

I sign up for what looks good. Then comes the pitch. Most give good ‘free’ info then go through the same routine to up-sell you on their programs. "It's worth $2,000. But if you buy today… only $297."

I know I need to learn. So I wade through them all. Some are outrageous.

Like the "$1 NOW" come-ons... only to discover there's a $1 charge for 7 days, then jumps to $59/month -- automatically, unless I remember to cancel. Have you ever?  

Maybe you've also plowed through the plethora of "Let Me Help You" sites? I get six emails a week, and yes, I'll admit, I check 'em out. Why not? I'm trying to figure out how to sell a few books when 727,125 ISBNs were assigned to self-published authors in 2015 .That's right. 727,125 in one year alone, and that’s just to self-published authors. Look it up on Bowker.
Authors, the competition is daunting. But good work will win out in the end.

If you’re contemplating your first novel, please, stop and ask yourself. “Am I doing this so I can tell my family and friends that I’ve written a novel?” If that’s your subconscious speaking to you, please, re-think this. So many “first novels” come on the marketplace that haven’t even been edited. Result? Family and friends who read them become so disillusioned by all the errors, grammatical mistakes, plot snafus, and unexplainable dialogue that they may never pick up a new author again. They go back to the same celebrity authors, leaving new, serious authors in the wake of anonymity. 

My college roommate went to New York to become an actor in the 70s. He later told me, "Michael, for every audition I went to, there were 3,000 actors as qualified for that role as me. Not all 3,000 showed up, but the hardest-working ones did. There was just too much competition." 

Writing a 75,000-word book is hard work. If you’re not willing to hire a professional editor, why write it? And if it’s going to be the only book you ever write, why bother?

Meantime, I'll keep wading through the webinars and try to make sense of this industry. Maybe somebody should start a “Ranking Profile” of these webinars.

PS -- I'm really not a sour-puss. Today, I'm just frustrated by all the noise in the "Let Me Help You" world of new authors. 
Michael Hicks Thompson was a successful ad agency owner, winning numerous national and international awards. After selling his firm in 2011, Michael turned his attention to full-time writing. His latest novel is The Actress and he also authored The Rector, available on Amazon in print, on Audio Book, and Kindle. Two graphic novels on the life of David from the Old Testament–DAVID–The Illustrated Novel came first(Volume 2-won first place BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL and BEST INTERIOR DESIGN2012, from USA Book’s INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS. Volume 1 won the Silver IPPY for Graphic Novels in 2011 from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.) Next was a sci-fi thriller (CLOUDS ABOVE) that was serialized in a monthly magazine for a year. (Out in book in 2016.) Michael writes Christian novels that entertain, intrigue, and shine a light on his Jesus. He’s a member of the ACFW, Mystery Writers of America, The International Crime Writers Association, and the Southern Writers Association. Visit his website, to learn more. Can book trailers be as riveting as movie trailers? Let's see:  

January 26, 2017

The Secret of the Giant Redwoods and Southern Writers Magazine

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

A birthday card I found some years ago read as follows:

“Birthdays always remind me of the giant redwoods on the West Coast. The way they stand tall and proud year after year, century after century. Their majestic beauty never fails to take my breath.

Thank you for planting them. Happy Birthday!”

Those ancient redwoods live 500 to 800 years with the oldest being 2000 to 2200 years old. That would date you if you had planted them. They do stand tall and proud and appear to do so with such great ease. Many standing over 200 feet tall and the tallest, believed to be the world’s tallest tree, is said to be 379 feet. Such great height must surely need great support and it has but not as you would think. The roots of those redwoods are only 10 to 12 feet deep. So how do they support themselves? 

What is the secret?

Their roots may not be deep but they spread out 3 to 5 times their height. A 200 foot redwood could have roots spreading out 600 to 1.000 feet. The tallest could spread out 1100 to 1800 feet.  But that is not their only secret to their support. Each redwood tree’s roots, while spreading out to great lengths, are also intertwining with the roots of each and every tree in their immediate area. They support each other.

Thinking on this I wondered what it would be like to have such a support system. Each individual intertwined with every other. All are supporting one, and one is supporting all. Believe it or not that is what Southern Writers Magazine was founded on. We began with the vision of “a magazine by writers and for writers”. It has developed into over 1,032 authors supporting other authors by sharing their ideas with them. Each author like a giant redwood intertwined with other authors supporting them as they are supported.

Our hope at Southern Writers Magazine is that with this support we all can grow tall in our craft and have a long career as writers. We know with the continued support of each of you this can happen. If you haven’t joined the forest of authors do so. Add your support and enjoy the support of others. Southern Writers Magazine will be here for your continued success.    

January 25, 2017

Writing Memphis Historical Non-Fiction

By G. Wayne Dowdy

Every person who has trod the earth is a historical figure whose story deserves to be told. This is especially true of a place like Memphis, where creativity flows from the many cracks in its streets. I have devoted my writing career to uncovering these stories and bringing to literary life those forgotten souls whose life and work has contributed greatly to the history of our world. .

These views were shaped by the stories my parents and grandparents told around the Sunday dinner table along with one of my favorite TV shows, The Waltons. I loved the program because the life depicted was similar to the stories my family told of life during the Great Depression and World War II. As a child I identified with the main character John-Boy because I wanted to grow up and become a writer just as he did. In one episode written by Colley Cibber an itinerant author shared with John-Boy a piece of advice that has stayed with me throughout my writing life - “Don’t waste your life searching for the one big story you were born to write. Write the little stories. Who knows, the sum total of them might be the big one.”

As a narrative non-fiction author I write the small stories that try to provide readers with a bigger understanding of our collective past. For Memphis, like any other place, is populated by human beings living their lives in a variety of circumstances. I collected many of these smaller and more unusual stories in my books On This Day in Memphis History and Hidden History of Memphis where I wrote about the Memphis gangster who inspired William Faulkner to write the novel Sanctuary, the angry parishioner who bit off his pastor’s finger, the brave African American woman who refused to sit in the black section of a streetcar in 1905 and the day it rained snakes.

I also chronicled the rise and fall of the Crump political machine and the success of the Memphis civil rights movement in my books Mayor Crump Don’t Like it and Crusades for freedom. In a Brief History of Memphis I attempted “to cover the major events in Memphis history, from its early days as a raucous river town through it emergence as a major Southern metropolis in the final decades of the twentieth century.” In order to understand the role of youth organizations in the development of Memphis I wrote my most recent book, Scouting in Memphis:a History of the Chickasaw Council, BSA.

I see each of my books as a piece of a mosaic; telling a specific story but part of a larger whole. Taken together it is hoped that when I am done the volumes left behind will be a kind of grand narrative that touches on all the major themes of Memphis history. In that way, without sounding like I am too big for my britches, I will have completed the big story I was born to write.
G.Wayne Dowdy is the senior manager of the Memphis Public Library and Information Center’s history department and Memphis and Shelby County Room.  He holds a Master’s Degree in history from the University of Arkansas and is a certified archives manager. Dowdy is a contributing writer for the Best Times magazine and is the author of a Brief History of Memphis; Mayor Crump don’t like it: Machine Politics in Memphis; Hidden History of Memphis, Crusades for Freedom: Memphis and the Political Transformation of the American South, Scouting in Memphis: a History of the Chickasaw Council, BSA and On This Day in Memphis History which was awarded a Certificate of Merit by the Tennessee Historical Commission. Dowdy is the host of the WYPL-TV 18 program the Memphis Room, has served as a consultant for the NBC-TV series who do you think you are?, PBS’s History Detectives Special Investigation and the Cinemax/HBO drama Quarry. He has appeared on C-Span, WKNO-FM, NOS Dutch Public Radio, WKNO-TV’s a Conversation With, WHBQ-TV’s Good Morning Memphis, WREG-TV’s Live at 9 and in the documentaries Overton Park: a Century of Change, Memphis memoirs: Downtown and Citizens not Subjects: Reawakening Democracy in Memphis

January 24, 2017

Street Smarts

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

A few months ago, a new shopping mall opened a couple of cities away from me.  As new malls tend to do, it has attracted patrons from all over. Ironically, no one in my circle has been there yet, and they all give the same reason: they don't want to fight the traffic.  Indeed, the roads leading to and from the new mall which were busy already, are now said to be oppressively congested with frequent traffic jams.

One of the town planners for my own burg says it's a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. Instead of planning for the future and widening the streets in anticipation of heavier traffic, those particular developers simply built the mall at a popular location, leaving the rest of the details to sort themselves out.

A wise planner, explained my planner, leaves nothing to chance. An impact study would have dictated a more visionary sequence of events that would have accommodated both the mall's goals and its customers' convenience.  Instead, the mall is experiencing as much negative word of mouth as positive.

Writers can likewise benefit from strategic planning and implementation.  The many steps in between deciding to be a writer and vacationing in Nice to write your twentieth bestseller warrant an eye for detail and an ability to look down the road.

I'm not referring to the actual authoring of a book as much as what happens after that.  As writers often ask, "I've written a book. Now what?"  Here's a short list:

We've all done it.  We rewrite and revise and tweak to death until we're certain every word is perfect, only to spot a grievous error the minute we hit the Send button.  Another set of eyespreferably several setsare absolutely vital for any serious writer.  Have at least one experienced editor review your manuscript and ensure nothing gets overlooked.  In the words of the prophet, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Admittedly, some authors prefer to maintain visual anonymity, so this step may not apply. For the rest, you will need at least one good photo for your website and press kit (next on the list).  I mention this as its own entity to emphasize the importance of having a high quality head shot versus a selfie (although some cellphones do take amazingly good pictures).  When you become the cover story of a fine upstanding writers magazine, one of the first things you'll be asked for is a high-res photo suitable for framing.

When potential readers (and agents and publishers) want to know who you are, they're going to look for your website.  Not a Facebook page, but a website.  Yes, have a Facebook page too, but visitors want to see your photos, bio, book covers, and supporting materials all in one place on a website that bears your name. Don't wait until your book is on the market; the time to start publicizing yourself and your work is immediately, if not sooner.  Cash in on the free promotional tool that is the Internet.

Basically this is a tangible translation of your website that you can hand out. A well-done press kit says "pro" and is handy to have when you attend writers conferences or, of course, meet with anyone who can further your career.  On a related note, be sure and send a press release to your local newspaper whenever your latest book is available.

If you want to woo a publisher, don't skimp on your book proposal.  W. Terry Whalin offers lots of free tips on his websites at and His Book Proposals That $ell: 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success is also sage advice, especially for nonfiction proposals.

Every month, a billion viewers watch videos on YouTube. If you've overlooked this enormous opportunity to get the word out, it's never too late to hop on the book trailer bandwagon.  Some authors commission a slick video presentation complete with music and sophisticated graphics, others very effectively get on camera and talk about or read an excerpt from their book.  It's a highly visible way to promote your latest release, and even an ideal means to generate new interest in an older title.

The above list isn't all-inclusive, but successful writers consider these items among the must-haves for a writer's to-do list.

There will be over 300,000 new books published this year.  Before yours hits the streets, avoid congestion and stand out in the crowd by creating a platform with a solid infrastructure.  It will get you on the road less traveled.

January 23, 2017

Researching Saratoga Letters Part 2

By Elaine Marie Cooper

Although I’m a nurse by training, I had no idea what was worn by nurses in the 1970s. Were they still wearing all white and those precipitously-placed caps on their heads? Why yes they were, I found out. Contacting Redlands Community Hospital where my fictitious character of Abby worked, I struck a goldmine: They had put together a hardbound anniversary edition of their hospital’s history. “I can send you a copy,” offered the public relations contact person. “Yes!” I tried to maintain my excitement.

That one was fairly easy. The real challenge came with the actual events that took place during the commemoration events that spanned over a two-week time period in September and October of 1977. I found a newspaper reporter who was willing to search the archives and found an article that described the scene at the event where Tom Brokaw spoke. Score!!

Other articles revealed bits and pieces: What songs were sung, who spoke, what events took place. It was a painstaking process of getting one piece of information at a time. No Google search would satisfy the details that I needed.

I contacted one historian in Saratoga Springs who referred me to another in nearby Stillwater. I was referred to librarians who found details in their archives. All on paper of course! Again, they were not put into the internet so there was not a record online.

Then there were the 1977 airport scenes in my book. The differences in travel then vs now are astonishing. No jet ramps to smoothly guide you onto your flight. You had to walk across the tarmac and climb stairs to board. So what did the airport look like in Albany, New York? A wonderful public relations gentleman sent me a photo that he found from that era and emailed me other info so I could make the scenes accurate for that time.

The police chief in Saratoga Springs gave me a few details about uniforms, etc. in the late 1970’s. I was connected to his email from one of the historians in that town.

It became a network of wonderful, helpful persons who guided me until I gathered all the facts that I needed. I mention each and every one of these precious contacts in my acknowledgment section of Saratoga Letters and I’ve sent out autographed books of thanks to most. I’m still trying to track down a couple of addresses to send out all the copies of “thanks.”

I cannot wait until I visit the Saratoga area next spring. I have on my agenda personally shaking the hands of all those who patiently answered all my questions and took time out of their busy schedules to look up information for me.

As writers, it’s so important to be grateful to those who help us. And I am so very grateful to my many new friends in Saratoga.
Award winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Saratoga LettersFields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. She has been captivated by the history of the American Revolution since she was young. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels. Her upcoming release is Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016), Book 3 in the Deer Run Saga. Cooper has been writing since she penned her first short story at age eleven. She began researching for her first novel in 2007. Her writing has also appeared in Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson and the romance anthology, I Choose You. She has also written articles for Prayer Connect Magazine, Splickety Prime Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Life: Beautiful Magazine. She began her professional writing career as a newspaper freelancer. You can read more at her website/ blog, Facebook:
Facebook Author Page: Twitter: @elainemcooper

January 20, 2017

Researching Saratoga Letters Part 1

By Elaine Marie Cooper

When I write my historical fiction novels, one of my favorite parts in the process is research. But that enjoyment became challenged when writing Saratoga Letters.

I usually write about just one era, focusing on the events, customs, and speech patterns of one decade in history. But two decades separated by 200 years? That’s where the challenge came in.

It all began when my husband and I visited Saratoga National Historical Park in 2014. I had long wanted to visit there, as one of my ancestors fought there in a 1777 Revolutionary War battle. It was both inspiring and grieving to imagine the loss of life that occurred there and the lives that were changed forever. I hoped that my writer’s muse would be stirred.

And it was—but not just from the battlefield. One of the historians happened to mention that there was a 200-year anniversary celebration in 1977 that attracted thousands from around the world to commemorate this important battle, which is often called the “turning point of the American Revolution.” “Tom Brokaw even came and spoke,” the historian said with enthusiasm.

I tucked that piece of information in my memory bank and we returned to the motel room in Saratoga Springs, New York. We were so tired of choosing typical motels along our long journey that when my husband pointed out this 1970’s style motel on the main street, I said “sure.” I was too tired to keep searching.

We grinned at the motel keys that were handed to us. It was a real key attached to a key chain, not one of the modern credit card-looking devices that unlock most hotel rooms in the 21st century. It was like visiting the past—but just a few decades ago.

The muse hadn’t been completely stirred though until we were getting ready to check out of the motel room after a two-day stay. “Where is my key?” I wondered out loud. As usual, I had misplaced my keys. My patient husband rolled his eyes. I never did find it until after we’d returned home a thousand miles later.

But by then, the muse had struck. I began envisioning not just characters in the battle, but also their descendants 200 years later who came for the bicentennial. My writer’s mind began weaving a plot of romance, danger, and suspense. Before we had reached our doorstep back home, I was tossing around ideas for a title.

Of course, I’d never written a book that required researching two completely separate centuries. And what surprised me even more was the ease with which I was able to glean facts for 1777—and the incredible challenge that researching 1977 became. There was no internet in 1977, so it was back to the basics. I pushed up my sleeves and started making phone calls.

Monday, January 23, 2017 Elaine will conclude her unique post entitled, "Researching Saratoga Letters, Part Two."
Award winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Saratoga LettersFields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. She has been captivated by the history of the American Revolution since she was young. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels. Her upcoming release is Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016), Book 3 in the Deer Run Saga. Cooper has been writing since she penned her first short story at age eleven. She began researching for her first novel in 2007. Her writing has also appeared in Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson and the romance anthology, I Choose You. She has also written articles for Prayer Connect Magazine, Splickety Prime Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Life: Beautiful Magazine. She began her professional writing career as a newspaper freelancer. You can read more at her website/ blog,
Facebook Author Page: Twitter: @elainemcooper

January 19, 2017

Did You Write on Friday the 13th?

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

This past week, the first Friday the 13th of 2017 occurred. Do you avoid writing on the 13th, if it falls on a Friday? Does it matter? Are you superstitious? Do you get great ideas on a Friday the 13th?

A fear of Friday the 13th is called Paraskevidekatriaphobia, derived from the from the Greek words paraskeví meaning Friday, and dekatria meaning thirteen. Additionally, the number 666 is the number associated with the devil in many superstitions.

On January 13, 2017, Finnair created the quadfecta of superstitions. Flight 666 flew from Copenhagen to Helsinki. Helsinki airport's code is HEL, and the airplane was 13 years old. Flight tracker Twitter account Flightradar24 poked fun at the coincidence, saying: 'Would you dare to sit in row 13, on board Finnair flight 666 en route to Hel on Friday the 13th?' It's a crazy world, and we as writers get to craft stories that intrigue. As I've often blogged, real life events with a twist make for great fiction. 

All this hoopla about Friday the 13th made me think about a car tag we once had. The vehicle was a new-to-us used car. A baby blue Suburban with wood panels and a hunting dog sun screen on the back window. My husband waited in the long line to get our car tags and pay the taxes. When it was finally his turn, he paid the fees and was handed the tag. He looked at the tag and then at the clerk and said, "really?" A conversation ensued and to get a different tag it would require going to the end of the line. So the tag "HRH666" went on the truck, and for years we kept coming up with acronyms for the "HRH." Driving a vehicle with a "666" tag was empowering, but I'm not superstitious. 

What did I do on 1-13-17? I wrote this blog and a short story full of superstitious nonsense. It was fun. What did you write about on the first, Friday 13th, 2017?

January 18, 2017


By Elbert Alberson

Who am I?   I am a challenger.   If you can do it, I can do it better.   Doubt me and I will show you. I never quit and I keep on writing.  When I get where I’m going, I will tell you.

My name is Elbert Alberson


Where am I from?   I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. I left home in 1959 to go and be somebody, do everything   I ever dreamed of, and travel the world. And that is what I did.  I have been there and done that.  Name it and I probably have been there and done that.  I once was told I would never live to be 20. I more than tripled that and there is no reason I made it this far on my own.   I believe in miracles, and that he walks with me and has allowed me to live this long for some reason.

What Genre do I write?  Biography, Military, Murder Mystery, Assassins, Detective, Adventure, Under water Treasure Hunting, Adventure and Excitement, Romance and Westerns.   Why so many? First of all, because, I learned a long time ago to write about what you know.  And I am the main character in most of my books and most of the stories are true, the names have been changed. The places are real and really happened Secondly, when a reader is looking for a book to read, I can attract 12 different type readers. If I only wrote one type book, then I write for only one market.   I ask myself how James Patterson sold 350 million books. The answer is he writes all kinds of books.  He even writes children and cook books and how to books.

My writing style?  I write for the majority of readers in the world.   I don’t write  documentaries, text books,  or  books that draws  that evil  English expert  that wants to pick everything to death.  I write for the average person that is looking for a story that will hold him, anxious to get to the next page and when finished will look for my latest book.  I write a lot like Stuart Wood and Sandra Brown.

Follow rules?  No, I’m not a PHD of the English language   nor do I want to match wits with another PHD.

Written anything the world is anxiously waiting to read?  No. probably never will.
Have an editor?  I have a few books that have been edited by an English PHD.  But those books don’t sell as good and are not as easy to read as the ones I edit.  I edit them 5 or 6 times and I still miss things.  But, I have only had one book returned that I know of.  And they are so involved in the story; they don’t notice a comma in the wrong place I guess.  No one has ever complained and they brag on the stories. 

Pay for book covers?  No, I do my own.

Is anything challenging in my writing?  At times. When I need more material or add on story.  I do research and find   real actual things that occurred and blend them into my stories. 

For example modern day scuba divers are diving for gold that Pancho Villa   stole from a train in 1823.  I might put into the story, where did the gold the divers are looking for, come from and why.

Most of my characters write themselves, only a few do I write the characters.  One character I wrote of was a red headed Scottish man.  He was mysterious   that drew you to him.  Where is he going every day, where has he been and who is he really.  He was a diamond thief burglar that broke into a house and safe stealing a million dollars’ worth of diamonds that was stole from a Jewish man.

Do I ever write myself into my books?  Yes, I have. The book I’m writing now has a woman reading a book written by Elbert Alberson. LOL Those that know me will get a kick out of it.  Those that don’t won’t even notice it.

Is writing my only job?  Yes, I’m retired and I write off and on all day and night, every day.  Sometimes a thousand words, sometimes 2000 words at a time.

Who would I like to meet and talk too from the past, if I could?  General Patton.

Found a great new way to market books?   Well, library book readings, launches and book signings, sell a few books.  I built stands that hold at least 2 of all 12 of my books and placed stands in 2 pharmacy and Gift store.  By ordering 36 books at a time, the shipping is miniscule compared to one at a time. A booth at a big car show in the lady’s section is air conditioned and sells a lot of books but they better sell because the cost of the space is high. It’s best   if you do that to have several authors to work in shifts and share the cost of the space.

What makes me stand out among other writers?  Most of the writers I know have one or two books published.  I have 12 and of mixed genre. My best seller is my autobiography.  Why?  Because I advertise on Facebook to school class reunions of two schools that I went to.  Another thing that helps is the story of Elvis and me and Johnny cash and me and singer Ed Townsend and me.  My military days gave me two books and I have them in Air Force Museums, other book stores and Military groups on Facebook.   Also the fact I have been to 14 countries and 26 states.  I have been all over the world and have stories of real life   experiences.
The biggest tip I could give any writer is, Keep on Writing. I have three books in the making and ides for several more. The more the merrier because you are selling to a much larger crowd of mixed genre.
ELBERT ALBERSON was born in Memphis, Tennessee.  He left home at an early age joining the Air Force and traveled extensively.  During his travels, mostly in the Air Force and in the early stages of Vietnam, he experienced   adventures  of a life time flying  North  to  Newfoundland, South to  the Azores in Portugal and  the Far East to include Vietnam,  Japan, Philippines,  Cambodia, Laos,  Australia, Thailand,  Okinawa, Burma and Singapore.  He experienced   near death incidents multiple times and learned the many customs and traditions in these countries.  This has led to many stories to tell, most of his story lines are fictional stories and people. After serving his time in the military, his adventures continued   through his associations with the sport of Scuba Diving for many years. There are many stories of real Experiences of Adventure and Excitement. Most story lines are fictional stories.  But Elbert is the main character in most of his books with real people and places in his books. Because of his travels and experiences and the research required to write his stories to include real historical events and actual happenings, you will relive and experiences through his eyes. Elbert and his wife live in a small town in South Georgia.  Being retired now, gives him the opportunities to write his books, his experiences and historical Adventures he has had in mind for years.  His books include:   Cotton Top Remember Me,   Red Bull,   Cay Sal,   Diamonds and Gold,   Old Gold,   Fire Island, The Italian Incidents,   River of Intrigue   and   Memphis Intrigue 1940. Links:  Twitter   @EAlberson  Website