March 30, 2018

Story Glimmers

By Ann H. Gabhart

A writer needs time to gather a story. Time to let the glimmers spark out of that mysterious dark center where stories can be born. But sometimes even when the glimmers sparkle they can still be as elusive as fireflies rising out of the grass at dusk. Here one second, there the next. Story ideas can slip away in much the same way. You want to come up with something fantastic, something new and exciting for your story, something readers will love, and so you hope for the ideas that spark more ideas. One thing for sure, a writer can rarely just sit back and wait for the glimmers to settle in her head to light the way to a story.

Whenever I’m at the glimmer stage with a new story, I know I better grab my story catching net and go hunting for ideas to get that story going. With my work in progress, the glimmers were there, but they weren’t very bright when I sat down to begin Chapter One. I saw a woman in my fictional Shaker village of Harmony Hill. She never planned to live a Shaker life, but circumstances give her few options of leaving the village. I have a man with a willful young daughter who has a way of getting into trouble. I still have many story questions to answer, many twists and turns to navigate.

A writer needs more than time to imagine. She needs discipline and concentrated effort to write a novel while other things clamor to get done. I have an editing deadline on my summer release, River to Redemption. I have blog posts to publicize that book. I need to update my website and keep my social media sites up to date. I need to do this blog entry. All these things are writing related. If I’m doing them, I’m surely working. Surely writing.

But the truth is I’m not. Those things are important and need doing. The same as the clothes must be washed and meals cooked. I want to make time for the grandkids to visit. My dog needs to be walked. I must do all those things and more, but I want to be writing. I want to chase down that story. And yet even when I’m sure I want to write, even when the story glimmers beckon, I sometimes hesitate to put my fingers on the keyboard to begin.

It can be a fearsome thing to step out onto a story path and start writing with a final scene thousands of words away. Will the story work? Will my story glimmers glow brightly enough? I’ve done it many times. I’m confident the words will come if I stick to the task and let my characters come to life. So here I go, heading down the story trail again with hope that ideas will glimmer on every side like fireflies at dusk to light my way.
ANN H. GABHART, the bestselling author of over thirty novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who grew up dreaming of being a writer. In addition to her popular Harmony Hill Shaker novels, Ann writes about family life in novels like Angel Sister and Love Come Home as well as cozy mysteries (as A.H. Gabhart) set in small towns like the Kentucky town where she grew up. These Healing Hills is her first novel with an Appalachian Mountain setting. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren and enjoy country life in Kentucky. Find out more about Ann and her books at her website,
 Contact Information and Social Media links:Facebook Author Page – Twitter - Pinterest - Goodreads -

March 29, 2018

3 Cities, a Fairy Tale and a Flower Show

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

After the four severe winter storms that occurred in March, I’m sure the northeast and the rest of the country is ready for Spring. I know, I am. How about you?
I just discovered there is an annual free Macy’s Flower Show in three different cities. This year is the 45th year of Macy’s Flower Show which occurs in 3 cities at the same time, New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. The theme of this year’s show is “Once Upon A Springtime.” For all writers who enjoy a good fairy tale, it’s the perfect theme of the Flower Show. They even created a book telling about the new fairy tale, which can be seen at this link.
Entering Macy's Queen Snow's Magical Snow Globe, tells the tale of winter reigning supreme all year. Yikes! Queen Snow has carved out an icy enclave like no other. High above her Kingdom, enter a larger than life snow globe and have your royal portrait taken within her frigid throne. Yes, there are photo ops at the Flower Show. The Macy’s Flower Show is free and available from Sunday, March 25th through Sunday, April 8th, 2018.
Macy’s amazing Entertainment Department also puts on the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade and advise, They’ve created our own “Once Upon a Springtime” story with original characters and bring them to life amid vibrant blooms and whimsical sculptures. Throughout the course of the Flower Show, there will be several in-store events celebrating the bloom of the season. Enter a land of make believe, a magical world of beauty and wonder unfolding in a completely original take on classic fairytale themes. The show offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to enjoy hundreds of thousands of live flowers, plants, and trees from around the world.”

Let’s face it we likely all started out reading fairy tales. As a reminder in case you’ve forgotten, there are certain components found in a fairy tale. What are they? At they list these things as components of a fairy tale.

“1. A fairy tale begins with "Once upon a time...
2. Fairy tales happen in the long ago.
3. Fairy Tales have fantasy and make believe in them.
4. Fairy Tales have clearly defined Good characters vs. Evil characters.
5. Royalty is usually present in a fairy tale, a beautiful princess/handsome prince.
6. There may be magic with giants, elves, talking animals, witches or fairies.
7. Fairy tales have a problem that needs to be solved.
8. It often takes three tries to solve the problem.
9. Fairy tales have happy endings and they all lived happily ever after.
10. Fairy tales usually teach a lesson or have a theme.”

It appears the Macy’s brand has written a new fairy tale that will be remembered by all who read the story as they view the gorgeous “Once Upon a Springtime” Flower Show.

Have you ever considered writing a fairy tale? It would be a great writing exercise and something fun to post on your writer’s blog and website.

I hope everyone is inspired, and if you’re in New York, Chicago or San Francisco, enjoy the Flower Show and be inspired. If you have written a fairy tale, send a link in the blog comments so we can all read your work. Southern Writers Magazine’s blog is all about helping authors and sharing information to help everyone become better writers.

As Macy’s “Princess Spring” said, “I did not do it all by myself, everyone helped in whatever way they could, it was teamwork that saved the day.”

March 28, 2018

Be a Bookstore Champion

By Karen Sargent

The first time I saw my book on a shelf at Barnes & Noble, I mortified my teenage daughter and misrepresented dignified authors everywhere. (My apologies!) It was a quiet weekday afternoon, so my little ruckus attracted the attention of a staff member, who attempted to stroll by casually and ask if she could help me. My response jumbled out: “This is my book! My book.” I pointed to my name on the cover. “That’s me. I wrote this. It’s mine!”

Then I remembered my manners, and “thank you thank you thank you” tumbled forth in rapid succession. I explained I had published with a small press and never expected my book to be among the 1% that make it to brick and mortar stores.

The staff member smiled and walked toward a group of other staff members that had gathered nearby. She lowered her voice, but I heard her say, “She’s an author.” A few moments later she returned with an “autographed by the author” sticker and a Sharpie. Within seconds, I had signed my first book at Barnes & Noble! (Should I confess I was sitting on the floor because alphabetically my book ended up on a lower shelf and I was taking selfies? No? Okay. Forget I said that.)

Then the store manager approached. She chatted, I blabbered, and guess who got to hold a book signing at B&N? This girl!

I’m pretty sure the store manager didn’t schedule an author event for me because she wanted to host a debut idiot with zero name recognition. Instead, I believe my inability to control my gushing gratitude influenced her invitation. That day I learned how important it is to appreciate the people who sell our books for us.

Now when I visit a bookstore and see my book on the shelf, I find the store manager and introduce myself: “I’m a debut author, and you have my book in your store. I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your support.” One or two questions always follow that statement:

Would you like to sign a copy for us?

Would you like to schedule a book signing?

When I travel I visit independent bookstores. First, I make a purchase—maybe a gift or a title from my to-be-read list—because the independent bookstores deserve our patronage. I ask to speak with the owner or manager and thank them for supporting readers and authors, which usually leads to a conversation about the challenges faced by a small bookstore. Then I give them a signed copy of my book to keep, to sell, to give away, or to put in the staff breakroom. Their response comes in many forms—smiles, handshakes, even hugs.

I know what you’re thinking. Giving away books is costly. Yes, it is. But if booksellers read my book and like it, they may decide to stock it…and position it for visibility…and recommend it to readers.

But a risk comes with all this gratitude and gifting. You could be tempted to think this is about book sales. It’s not. It’s about people. Approach booksellers with genuine appreciation, not an ulterior motive. There’s a difference and it will show.

In my short year in this publishing world, I’ve learned to give more than is expected, and to give without expecting anything in return. When relationships come first, book sales follow.
Karen Sargent is an award-winning author whose debut novel, Waiting for Butterflies, is the 2017 IAN Book of the Year. She writes “stories that stir the soul” with characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts. A romantic element is woven within. In addition to writing inspirational novels, she blogs at The MOM Journey, where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. Her writing has been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine and online at Writer’s Digest, Positive Writer, Seekerville, and now Suite T. She is the volunteer coordinator for WFWA and a member of ACFW, the Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the SEMO Writers’ Guild. When she’s not writing, she teaches high school and college English and resides in the beautiful Arcadia Valley with her husband and two daughters. Website: 

March 27, 2018

Did And Do They Have Pearls of Wisdom?

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

Have you ever wished you could sit down with some authors from the past, you know, the ones that have gone before us? Pick their brains, spend time talking with them, asking questions of how they did this or that?
Madeleine L’Engle said, “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children." Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer who wrote young adult fiction, including A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels: A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters and An Acceptable Time.
I like her advice, mainly because sometimes when we are writing it seems we are trying to put a story in a genre, and it just doesn’t fit. Have you ever found yourself in that situation? Obviously at some point in her writing journey Madeline did or she wouldn’t have given that advice. With over 60 books written, she obviously has given us sound guidance. By the way, many of her papers are at Wheaton College in Illinois. So, I would like to sit down with her and discuss many things but especially when do you make that decision to change your direction.
Now one may wonder what Harper Lee’s advice could be, since she wrote one book and it was a long time until the next. But she said, Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself... It's a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.” As we all know she wrote To Kill A Mocking Bird. I would like to sit down and ask her what was in the back of her mind when she was writing this book. I would like to know when she finished and after it was made into a movie and after many years of not publishing, what were her thoughts after it was made into a movie. Was she happy with it? Did she wish she had changed any of the book?
Another author, George Orwell said, “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” His real name was Eric Arthur Blair, writing under the pen name George Orwell. He was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. He also said, He who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” One can’t help but wonder after reading his books, where that quote came from. He wrote such books as Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm, Down and Out in Paris and London, The Road to Wigan Pier, Homage to Catalonia and Burmese Days.

His quote about writing a book is depressing and I want to ask him, why did you write if you were that miserable and in pain? I can honestly say I have never heard an author say that about writing.

We could ask them, why they think their stories resonated with readers? What would they do different? What was the one technique they fill helped them more than any other?

What questions would you like to ask writers from the past? Here are three different people, three different styles–voices and three different writing techniques. Do you by chance find one common thread among their writing?

March 26, 2018

Writing for Today’s Market

By Peggy Webb

I’ve been writing professionally for thirty-four years, and I’ve never seen a market more exciting….or daunting.  In the early 80s, the path to publication was straightforward:  (a) write a block buster book or one that fit a market niche such as thriller, mystery, fantasy, romance, historical fiction, etc., and (b) acquire an agent. Agents made the book deals; editors worked with authors to produce the best possible product; publishers and booksellers promoted the book, and authors signed them at book parties. The beauty of that model is that authors were free to focus on writing.

Everything began changing in the 90s. Publishing houses merged and authors took on the role of publicists, a move that made it necessary to divide time between writing and self-promotion. 
A new decade saw the emergence of Facebook and Twitter which created new venues for writers to interact with readers.  Inspiration had to take a back seat to discipline.

Only a disciplined writer can survive and thrive in today’s market. The single most important tip I can give you about becoming and remaining a published author, is that you must schedule time devoted exclusively to writing - not interacting with fans on Facebook, not answering fan mail, not blogging, not making phone calls – simply writing.

The new decade also created venues for self-publishing. Platforms such as Amazon, Nook Press (B&N), Smashwords and more shattered the old publishing model and flooded the market with eBooks, many of them under-priced and unedited.

The upside of self-publishing is that it provided a platform for authors to (a) offer their backlist to readers and (b) offer new, innovative novels without having to write to current market trends. It also gave rise to talented new writers who broke every rule, flouted tradition and created novels that are daring and different.   

Though I started my career writing in one genre for one publisher, I now write under two names in many genres in both self- and traditionally-published venues. Breakdown, a 4-book suspense mini series I’m writing with three other authors can be preordered from Amazon on March 21, 2018. My latest comedic mystery, Elvis and the Blue Suede Bones, will be out in April. I am also writing a literary fiction novel as Elaine Hussey.

Discipline is more important than ever, and so is a clear career plan. With so many choices, it’s imperative to cull through all the possibilities. (a) Decide how many books you can write in a year and then (b) decide whether you will self-publish, traditionally publish, or both. (c) Focus on one or two genres. (d) Make a schedule that balances writing and promotion with family life, and (e) set deadlines. Still, both the market and life are constantly changing. Always remain
flexible and upgrade your plan. 

If that sounds daunting, it sometimes is. But it’s also exciting. I encourage you to write the kind of books you love, to enjoy the process and above all, enjoy life.        
Peggy Webb is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 75 novels in multiple genres and is the most prolific writer Mississippi has ever produced.  She also writes screenplays and has won numerous awards. Her novel, Driving Me Crazy, was submitted for a Pulitzer. A former adjunct instructor at Mississippi State University, Webb is a versatile pianist, singer and actress.  Her comedic mystery series is being considered for film. Webb’s current projects include Elvis and the Blue Suede Bones (April, 2018), a Southern Cousins Mystery, and Breakdown (preorder at Amazon March 21, 2018), a 4-book mini suspense series written with three other bestselling authors and described as Gone Girl meets Big Little Lies. The author’s WIP is another literary fiction novel written as Elaine Hussey. Details will be announced on both her websites, and Also follow her on Facebook and Twitter


March 23, 2018

I Want to Giveaway 100,000 eBooks

By Steve Bradshaw

I am pleased to offer the first book of my forensic mystery/thriller trilogy free on Amazon. The BLUFF CITY BUTCHER.

Yes, the above statement grabs attention. And it is now my gateway marketing tool to introduce my brand of suspense and intrigue to my target market.

I investigated gruesome homicides, interrogated heinous killers, and navigated the macabre. My life-unedited experiences as a forensic sleuth now live in my novels. My Amazon 5-star Bell Trilogy has had success, but still only reaches a small sliver of the thriller market. Because there are a million new titles each year, it is easy to become lost in the shuffle. Therefore, it is time to try something new.

Alluring book covers, gripping titles, and tantalizing bullets on back covers may not be enough today. A steady dose of marketing on social media, creative websites and blogs, newsletters, book reviews, awards, and selected paid advertising reaches a small fraction of my audience. In the morass of titles flooding the literary world, I need something more for new readers to take a look at my novels. I have decided to change the playing field and now offer a FREE eBook on Amazon. But not just any eBook. I am giving away the first book in my Bell Trilogy.

All writers want their words read. If we did not, we would put our manuscripts in bottles and bury them in the backyard. Few of us would go through the demanding creative process to be ignored completely. No! We write to be read. We believe in ourselves—our writing. With five novels in the marketplace and number six releasing in the summer, I have built a following. I get feedback and know my books are devoured and readers want more. Therefore, if I can find a way to reach new readers, I know they will do the same thing.

Offering the first book of a trilogy free, makes sense for several reasons. First, it is not a lost sale. It is a catalyst for new sales. I am wagering once they read one free book they will purchase the next books in the trilogy and more. Second, if my current readers want to share me with their friends and families, gifting a free eBook is an excellent way. Third, new readers surfing the market can download me free and in an instant. It gives me a chance to gain a new reader I otherwise would not have. And fourth, a free eBook will improve my rankings on Amazon. That increases your visibility.  

My goal is to give away 100,000 eBooks over the next six months. I am confident this promotion will allow me to reach more of my target market, and at no cost. Offering a free eBook could be my most valuable marketing tool in today’s world. I will let you know!

Tell your mystery/thriller lovers to visit Amazon and download a free BLUFF CITY BUTCHER eBook today at And visit my website to read excerpts from books two and three, THE SKIES ROARED and BLOOD LIONS, at  
Steve Bradshaw is a forensic mystery/thriller author drawing on life experiences as forensic investigator and biotech entrepreneur. He received a BA from University of Texas and trained at the Institute of Forensic Sciences where he investigated over 3,000 traumatic deaths for the Medical Examiner Office. After raising $30 million and serving as the founder-president/CEO of an innovative biomed company developing a leading-edge knee meniscus implant now under FDA clinical review, Steve stepped down and now writes his unique brand of forensic mystery/thrillers. His latest novel is Evil Like Me.

March 22, 2018

Was That Real? Various Viewpoints on a Single Event

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

I can remember sitting in our small country church listening to a visiting preacher deliver his sermon. He was suddenly set upon by a sneezing attack. It was vicious and seemed to be never ending until the preacher motioned to my Dad seated down front to remove the flower arrangement directly in front of the pulpit. Dad picked them up and sat them on the organ on the far right of the sanctuary. The preacher’s attack seemed to subside before Dad could get back to his seat. Apparently the preacher had a reaction to the flowers in the arrangement but once removed he was fine.

I observed my Dad as he returned to his seat whisper something to my Mom. I assumed about the flower arrangement. Mom was in charge of the arrangements and each was beautiful. Today’s especially so. Both were smiling so I assumed all was ok.

After church we all went to Mom’s and Dad’s for Sunday Dinner. Mom invited all visiting preachers to her home for dinner. Sitting around the table with our family and that of the preachers the discussion of course was directed to the preachers sneezing attack. He was quick to make his apologies and mentioned his allergies. He thanked Dad for moving the arrangement. Mom and Dad seemed to get a kick out of this and at this point revealed to us all the arrangement was made of artificial flowers.

Many times I have returned to this event and thought about what is real and what is not. I know the preachers sneeze attack was real. It was evident to everyone. His suffering was real as well. The suffering led him to seek a solution he hoped would give him relief. What he assumed was his source of discomfort was not real. I’m not sure what caused his discomfort but his allergy to the artificial flowers wasn’t the problem.

My Dad knew the flower arrangement was artificial when he rose from his seat to remove it. What was real about this was my Dad’s desire to serve and satisfy the preachers mind. It worked but to this day I am not sure why the preacher suddenly got relief.

To the congregation it was an obvious solution to a common problem. It was a real to them as any ordinary daily occurrence. Having no knowledge of the arrangement being artificial why would you think otherwise. I know I didn’t. Our observation was as real as that of my Mom and Dad who knew the truth.

As writers we have the opportunity to use stories like this one as a template to express various viewpoints on one event. Observations from different viewpoints should be explored and consider each one as interesting in itself or in opposition to the others. Go with your instinct and pursue what appeals to you the most. As in the story above, which indeed is a true story, the viewpoint of the congregation was rather tame. They questioned little and accepted the event as was. The viewpoint of my Mom and Dad was more interesting. I would want to go with theirs.    

March 21, 2018

How I Learned to Juggle

By Sarah Price

Sometimes I wonder what people actually think that I do all day long. In the minds of some people, I travel the world, meeting new people and taking copious notes in a tattered mole skin. Others probably think I sip tea while sitting by the pool at our horse ranch in Alachua County, Florida or spend the day riding through the Goethe State Park on my mustang, Malibu. In most cases, people probably think that I write at leisure after relaxing or enjoying the simple pleasures in life.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

Becoming a full-time author has taught me how to master a skill that, in my previous life as a working professional, I thought I had down pat: juggling.

When I began writing full-time, I quickly realized that I had become less productive than when I was working 60 hours a week and taking care of my home, children, husband, and numerous animals. Breast cancer entered the picture and I lost my job. Suddenly, my dream of writing novels day-in and day-out was a reality. Only I learned that, like those many people who imagine my life, I, too, was living in a fantasy world.

Writing full-time is not easy. To begin with, there are a million distractions on any given day: a sunny afternoon, a lunch invitation, a Netflix binge, even a messy closet begging to be reorganized. And then there are a million interruptions--especially in my life. My daughter is home-schooled and trains wild mustangs. She might find a squished snake in her barn or a gangsta mob of rats infesting her grain...all of which require my immediate attention. My husband often interrupts me with a need for help doing a chore such as fixing a horse paddock or ride to pick up a truck being repaired. When I am in the groove, it's near impossible to turn it on and off when someone does interrupt me.

And, of course, I have the constant interruptions from Coco Chanel, my Umbrella Cockatoo, who loves to eat any and everything from window blinds to moulding to my pens and highlighters. My fantasy of having her sit upon my shoulder while I write my novels doesn't usually come to fruition.

The bottom line is that it's near impossible to write full time and think that, just because you have eliminated a full-time job, you will be more productive. But there are things you can do to improve the odds. First, I try to remove myself from the house as frequently as possible. Whether I head to the library, a restaurant, or a coffee house, it's a good idea to get away. That eliminates me from the very environment that distracts me.

Second, I have learned that if I try to follow a regular writing schedule, other people will learn to leave me alone. Unfortunately, this requires a lot of self-control and cooperation. But I will turn off my cell phone after alerting my family. There's nothing so important that it cannot wait a few hours. If it is, I know someone will find me.

Finally, being organized is a must. Frankly, I'm not very organized so I have a right-hand person who helps me be more organized. She will check up on my progress, remind me of upcoming deadlines, and helps to manage me as I try to manage myself. It helps to acknowledge your own weaknesses and search for creative ways to tackle them.

And, of course, it does help to learn how to juggle. It's a skill that will help you, whether or not you are writing full-time.
Sarah Price is the author of the Plain Fame series and the Amish of Ephrata series, among other books. She comes from a long line of devout Mennonites, and her writing reflects accurate and authentic stories based upon her own experiences with several Amish communities. Ms. Price has advanced degrees in Communication (MA), Marketing (MBA), and Educational Leadership (A.B.D.) and was a former college professor. She now writes full-time and talks about her books and her faith on a daily live stream with readers. Visit her at and on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

March 20, 2018

Get Real

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

"The truth is out there," we are told, but lately it seems to get lost in the shuffle. The more technologically advanced we become, the more we find ourselves bombarded with beguiling betrayal. From clickbait to fake news, there is artifice around every corner trying to grab our attention.

These practitioners of prevarication may think they're pulling the wool over our eyes, but the good news is, we writers are too smart for them. As creative thinkers ourselves, we can spot a snow job from down the street.

Much like fast food, "reality TV" has a bad reputation thanks to its own generally unhealthy menu. But the discerning viewer can tell the difference between a genuine documentary like My 600-lb Life and the sitcomish silliness of Chrisley Knows Best. What they all have in common, however, is conflict.

I bring all this up to remind us of two things:

     1) People are entertained by conflict.
     2) A savvy audience can smell fakery.

Whether the drama is bonafide or bogus, the lure of any story lies in the conflict it portrays. But the more believable the conflict, the more we allow ourselves to invest in it.

Rather coincidentally, I just read a review of a new action movie in which the critic complains that the villain has no motivation nor backstory. Such a film lacks authenticity because even a bad guy has what he thinks is a good reason to give the hero a hard time.

By contrast, it's real human drama with a touch of suspense each time TV's Nev and Max catch a Catfish and get her face-to-face with the victim of her fake identity. It becomes even more relatable when we learn the reason for the ruse, sometimes even evoking a measure of sympathy for the catfish.

Similarly, a work of fiction carries the ring of truth if there is cause behind the conflict. Yes, the bad guy wants to rob a bank. But why? Because he wants money. But WHY? Because his son needs a kidney transplant. Now we have motivation, and when the truth is revealed we empathize with the troublemaker.

The bottom line is, keep it real and you'll keep your reader committed. Portraying genuine human drama in both the story and in the conflict you create for your characters is how you can avoid writing fake fiction.

March 19, 2018

Marketing Ideas for Your Book

By Liz Lazarus

Although I have an engineering background, I’ve always had a penchant for marketing. One of the perks of being an author is that the sky’s the limit which it comes to dreaming up clever ways to market your book.

My latest idea was created to gain reader engagement and facilitate preorders. I ran a competition on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to allow anyone who preordered the book a chance to name one of the characters. Here’s the promotion with the corresponding Canva graphic:

Your chance to choose the name of Jackie's brother in my upcoming thriller, PLEA FOR JUSTICE.
1) Preorder the book (on Amazon or B&N)
2) Email me at confirming that you've preordered & tell me the name you'd like to use for the brother (& why if you like)
3) Post about your entry on social media using the hashtag 
#pleaforjustice (Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter)
Contest runs from 2/18 to 2/28 at midnight.

Winner will be chosen at random from email submissions using a random number generator.
If you have already preordered, you are eligible to enter.

*I reserve the right to exclude any overly unusual or inappropriate names - it's my protagonist's brother, after all.*
So far, I’ve received some great names:  Jace - which means healing, Flavel – a fan’s middle name, Blake – strong and sexy, according to the submitter and the suggestions continue.
At first, I was going to use raffle software like Rafflecopter. They charge ~$40/month and I found the set-up to be fairly user-friendly (I did a trial run). But at the end of the day, I wanted this contest to be interactive. I liked the idea of receiving emails directly from readers and if my Inbox gets flooded, that’s a good thing.
A final thought:  If you happen to pick up a copy of PLEA FOR JUSTICE, check out the name of Jackie’s brother and know it was created from reader engagement. Happy selling & feel free to reach out to me on FB: AuthorLizLazarus. Would love to hear your cool Marketing ideas!
Liz Lazarus grew up in Valdosta, Georgia, known for its high school football and being the last watering hole on highway I-75 before entering Florida. She was editor of her high school newspaper and salutatorian of her class. Lazarus graduated from The Georgia Institute of Technology with an engineering degree and Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management with an MBA. She went on to a successful career as an executive at General Electric’s Healthcare division. Later, she joined a leading consulting firm as a Managing Director. Interestingly, Lazarus initially ignored the calling to become a novelist—instead, she tackled other ambitions on her bucket list: living in Paris and learning to speak French, getting her pilot’s license and producing a music CD. But, as she explains, her first book “wouldn’t leave me alone—it kept nudging me to write to the point that I could no longer ignore it.” Though her first novel, Free of Malice, released in the spring of 2016, is fiction, the attack on the main character is real, drawn from Lazarus’ own experience. It portrays the emotional realities of healing from a vicious, physical assault and tells the story of one woman’s obsession to force the legal system to acknowledge her right to selfdefense. Reader response to Lazarus’ first novel was so encouraging that she embarked on a writing career, releasing her second novel in the spring of 2018. Plea for Justice is a thriller that depicts the journey of a paralegal investigating the case of her estranged friend’s incarceration. As she seeks the truth, loyalties are strained and relationships are tested leaving her to wonder if she is helping an innocent man or being played for a fool. Lazarus lives in Atlanta and is engaged to fiancĂ©, Richard. When not working, she enjoys reading, traveling and spoiling their cat, Buckwheat.Liz’s social media links are: Facebook: Instagram: Goodreads: Pinterest: Book Trailer:

March 16, 2018

Coffee Shop Survival Kit For Writers

By Suzy Parish

I recently spent many days in a local coffee shop proofing galleys for Flowers from Afghanistan.

During that time I developed a survival kit for those long days away from home.

Air travel collapsible pillow: Let’s face it, hard wooden coffee shop chairs are not made to spend hours in when writing. Look in the air travel section of your local store. They have scaled down comfort items that fit perfectly in a backpack to help you be more comfortable and productive in your coffee shop office.

Noise canceling headphones: I tried earbuds, and they worked fine for listening to music and removing most distractions. The problem was no one knew I couldn’t hear them when they came up to speak to me. One day I never saw the barista who brought my coffee. I was deep in thought and never heard her. I’m sure she thought I was rude not to acknowledge her. Or maybe she understood. Anyway, I felt bad she didn’t know I had not heard her. The next day on the advice of my daughter and son-in-law I purchased a set of headphones. I felt much more comfortable knowing people got the message I couldn’t hear them.

Saline eye drops: I don’t think I have to say more than that! Hours of reading, whether in my home office or away give me dry scratchy eyes. I don’t use drops with anything other than saline because though the others may remove red eyes, they work by constricting the blood vessels in your eye and eventually you get a rebound effect.

Protein bars: Coffee shops offer tempting carb-loaded muffins and pastries. I indulge in one, but to stay productive and awake protein takes me farther.

Favorite lip balm.

Small tube of your favorite hand lotion: Long days on the keyboard cause rough, dry skin on hands.

Layer your clothing: My prime writing spot, unfortunately, happened to be right across from the door. Every time someone entered the shop, blustery air followed. I learned after the first day to pack my favorite sweater. That writing spot was so sunny and cheery it was worth the extra effort.

Consideration: If I must take a phone call, I try to do it outside. There is nothing worse than working on deadline and have some guy use the coffee shop to make sales calls. Even wearing my headphones, his voice boomed over the entire shop. Not everyone wants to hear your latest marketing plans.

Purchase their products! I filled a coffee punch card this past week. Remember: their mission is to sell coffee. An old Girl Scout motto is "Leave no trace." Adapt that to your coffee shop office. Clean up your mess as your mother taught you. Make them glad you're spending hours in their shop (taking up space another customer might like). If you follow these suggestions you just may cultivate a great relationship with your barista! __________________________________________________________________ 
Suzy Parish is an author at Pelican Book Group. Suzy wrote as a Community Columnist for the Huntsville Times. She is currently a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Her novel, Flowers from Afghanistan was a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest for 2013. Suzy discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park. Suzy’s debut novel, Flowers from Afghanistan will be released in 2018. Her social media links: