December 31, 2019

The Old and the New

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

Everyone knows today is New Year’s Eve where we will gather with family and friends to await the new year, 2020. There will be many parties, dancing, eating, and at the stroke of midnight, champagne will be poured, we will kiss our special loved one and watch the fireworks as they shoot through the night sky. A joyous occasion to be sure. These celebrations will go on past midnight for some while others warm and toasty will watch on TV cuddled up on the couch and probably will fall asleep before the midnight hour.

However, let’s remember that this is also “Old Year’s Day.”  It is the last day we will experience 2019. It will never return. We need to say goodbye. We have memories of 2019 but as we grow older memories have a way of fading. A few special ones may remain.

This would be a good time to make a list of blessings we experienced in 2019 because those give us hope as we look to 2020. We have all experienced happy days and sad days in 2019. We’ve said hello to new friends and goodbye to old ones. That is the progression of life.

Through it all, God has been faithful. As we say goodbye to 2019 and thank God for His blessings, we will turn our faces toward the New Year of 2020 with hope in our hearts for a blessed New Year.
In the New Year 2020 may you experience new adventures in your writing; may you enlarge your tent to make new friends and enjoy love and laughter each new day with a thankful heart.

Happy Writing!

December 30, 2019

What are you Writing to Change the World?

By p.m.terrell, Columnist for Southern Writers Magazine

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, recently posed this question to businesses: how is your business changing the world? As I pondered this, I realized that for authors, the question is: how is your writing changing the world?

A book’s lifespan can far outlive an author’s mortality, especially with the invention of ebooks. When you consider the books you have read, there is a chance that at least half are by authors that have long since passed. From Shakespeare to Dickens, Robert B. Parker to Stieg Larsson, their books continue to resonate with new generations of readers—and yours should, too.

Below are some of the ways authors can go from average to great in writing books that stand the test of time. Each of these subjects will be discussed in detail in Southern Writers Magazine in upcoming issues, including tips and techniques.

1.      Consider using historical backdrops, especially with circumstances that tend to repeat throughout history, such as war or migration.
2.      Select character conflicts with which the vast majority can identify. It can be a parent losing a child, a lost love, financial disaster, medical challenges, or a natural disaster that leads to the reader pondering what they might do under those circumstances.
3.      Take your characters to greater depths, tightening the noose as far as you can. Their climb upward will be all the more inspiring.
4.      Take your characters to greater heights, depicting how power, fame, or wealth can impact a person for good or evil.
5.      Find your roots. Ancestry websites are some of the most popular on the Internet, and more people are traveling to their ancestral homes. Your story may resonate with millions, even if it is a fictionalized account. 
6.      Use your settings to educate readers. Geography determines a character’s destiny; a character emerging from Main Street USA will have vastly different experiences from one in war-torn Syria, poverty-stricken Niger, or the streets of Paris.
7.      Inspire inventions and innovation. Science fiction authors have inspired everything from artificial limbs to robots and journeys to outer space, but any other genre can include a character that is an inventor, a scientist, researcher, or back yard tinkerer.
8.      Incorporate your passion. If you are passionate about child welfare, animal rescue, homelessness, climate change, migration, plastics in our oceans, or any other social cause, you can incorporate it into your writing. It might be a major or minor character facing any of those challenges or someone that helps to rescue one less fortunate.
p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 24 books ranging from historical to suspense. She details how she conducts historical research from the Internet to traveling the world in her most recent release, April in the Back of Beyond. Her most popular books, Songbirds are Free and River Passage, are creative nonfiction about her ancestors’ roles in migrating west in America while many of her suspense incorporate Ireland, her ancestral home, including Checkmate: Clans and Castles.

December 27, 2019

Milieu, Character, and Saggy Middles: Your Atlas

By James R. Hannibal

The saggy middle is a nemesis we may never feel up to defeating. My own technique for tackling this slovenly monster is to create a tent pole character, an Atlas to hold my narrative center high. My Atlas must capture the reader’s attention before the center arrives and carry the reader through my hero’s transformative moment—often the most difficult part of the author-reader shared journey. So, who is this Atlas character? If he’s so important, he should be the hero, right?


Your hero has no time to hold up your story. By the middle of the tale, your hero should have little strength left for holding up a narrative. The hero is suffering, having reached the end of a wandering, disoriented period, foolishly believing she is within arm’s reach of her goal. You, as the writer, are about to snatch that victory away and create a death experience—death of dreams, death of illusions, physical death, etc. Only through this transformative moment will the hero truly morph into the soldier she is meant to become. She hasn’t got the time or the inclination to hold up your dumb old tent. No offense.

Back to the Atlas character. I’ll admit, I’ve been a little deceptive. Feel free to groan, as my students always do when I unveil this big secret. My Atlas is not a traditional character at all. My Atlas tent pole is a setting, anthropomorphized into a giant menacing gatekeeper.

The Atlas method capitalizes on two of the author’s four basic structures or methods of holding a reader’s attention—milieu and character (the others are “event” and “idea”). Milieu, sometimes called world-building, allows you to capture a reader’s attention by exploring something new. But this Atlas setting is active. His traps or poisonous plants are trying to kill your hero. His lightning strikes and volcanic eruptions express displeasure at the hero’s intrusion into his domain. He may even take on a split personality, with a benevolent side expressed as little pink geckos attempting to warn your hero away. In this manner, your Atlas tent pole becomes a character, and your readers have the pleasure of meeting someone new.

The most famous recent example is the Death Star. In The Lost Property Office, I used a bottomless well of books with a labyrinth of side passages and hints of a massive dragon. In The Gryphon Heist, I used the highest penthouses of the London Shard. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austin used Pemberley.

Hopefully, you get the idea. In the larger middle of the tale, your hero must strategize and fight her way toward an unexpected and transformative doom, experience her metamorphosis, and recover to press on toward her goal. All the while, the Atlas setting/character captures the reader’s attention with wonder and holds it with personality. What will your Atlas look like? 
Stealth pilot, James R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. He has been shot at, locked up with surface to air missiles, and chased by an armed terrorist. He is a two-time Silver Falchion award-winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. His new CIA thriller from Revell is The Gryphon Heist, is a mash-up of spies and thieves, available now. His social media links are:  website and blog: Facebook:

December 26, 2019

One Single Resolution for Writers

By Edie Melson, Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Almost every writer I speak with has the same challenge—finding time to write. I have a single resolution that will help any writer have more time.

Learn how to say no.

I don’t mean no to writing opportunities—say no to some other things in your life. 

We all only have so much time in a day. And if you’re like me, life is filled to overflowing. So that means changing some priorities. 

Sounds easy, but to anyone who’s tried, it can be tough to carve out time for writing.

Here are some tips I’ve used to help me realign my life:

Decide where you want to go with your writing. You don’t have to schedule your time to get there overnight, but to get there, you do need to know where you’re going.

Take an inventory at what’s happening in your life right now. This is also going affect how much time you can realistically spend on writing.

Now answer these two question:
  • What are you doing now, that you love MORE than writing? 
  • What are you doing now that you DON’T love more than writing?
These are the factors you need to consider to begin to map out a plan that works for you.

To help you see how to apply what you've learned I'll share my answers when I first started writing. This will help you see how it gave me a plan for my writing.

I was a stay-at-home mom with three school-age boys. I had a goal to eventually earn a full-time living with my writing. I also didn’t want to lose family time or even what little adult time my husband and I had to spend together in the evening.

My writing schedule developed from these parameters. Every night after family time, I’d retire with my husband. When he went to sleep, I’d get up and start writing. I’d usually write until three or four o’clock in the morning, then I’d go to bed.

In the morning, my husband would get up with the boys and get them off to school. I’d get up later in the morning and be fresh when the boys got home from school. It might have been unorthodox, but it worked perfectly.

What did I give up? Lunches with friends and other daytime activities. I also stayed on a budget so I could afford to attend at least two writing conferences every year.

I’ve never found a way to do it all. But I have discovered there is time enough for what I truly love.

December 25, 2019

Yes to Chasing Rabbits

By Sheila C. Ingle

Sometimes research is simply random in its trail.  Sometimes, however, unforeseen data has led me to a treasure of information that is completely surprising.

I was in the midst of completing the manuscript of my third book. Including many details of the Southern Campaign and South Carolina during the Revolutionary War, I planned a chapter that included an imaginary visit of Marquis de Lafayette to my protagonist.  As usual, I intentionally researched this nineteen-year-old, French soldier who desired to fight against the British and beside General George Washington.  My questions snowballed.

Why would he leave France to fight another country’s battle for freedom?  Why did he leave his young pregnant wife? Why did he become such a friend to our country?  Why did he reject his sovereign’s command to not leave France and ignore the arrest warrant?  Why would he accept a commission in the Continental Army without pay?  Was he solely an adventurer that lacked maturity?

These questions drove me to find answers. There are always reasons for our actions, and the more I read about the Marquis, the more I wanted to know what drove him into a disguise and then onto a ship to cross the Atlantic. Strong motivations obviously propelled him.  And so, putting the puzzle pieces commenced.

Born in 1757, Marie Jean Paul Joseph Roche Yves Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, lost his father before he was two.  His father fought fiercely and died in a battle against the British.  His mother and grandfather died when he was twelve, and after his formal schooling, he joined the French entourage of King Louis XVI and army. He married at sixteen.           

The word liberty became popular at court, and he listened closely to what was occurring in America.  Lafayette and other officers wanted to strike a blow of revenge against the British for the Seven Year’s War.  Buying his own ship, called Victory, to cross the Atlantic Ocean, he learned to speak a smattering of English on his two-month voyage to America.

Then what I thought was truth shifted.

Sitting at a Sons of the American Revolution dinner one night, I met a couple who told me about Lafayette sailing into the property of Benjamin Huger near their hometown of Georgetown, South Carolina.  All I had read was that Lafayette arrived first in Charleston.  Excited by this twist, checking revealed his first stop was at the plantation of Major Benjamin Huger of French Huguenot descent.  Spending a few hospitable days there, the Major’s young son Francis made friends with Lafayette.  Years later, as an adult, Francis later rescued Lafayette from an Austrian prison after the French Revolution. Unbelievable connect!

Lafayette’s influence on Francis was long lasting and inspirational.  He was not an adventurer.
In reading Lafayette’s letters and papers, the word liberty and its importance were often the subject.  His family’s coat of arms includes the Latin words, “cur non,” meaning why not.  It was in these words that I finally found the answers to my questions about the young Lafayette and his intense love of liberty.  Neither his youth nor his age nor his station in life kept him from fighting for liberty for our country and his own.  He faced life, not with a what if, but with a why not, and others pursued the same.

Research stimulates my mind and my imagination.  The newness is exciting.  I look at events and people with fresh eyes, recognizing both similarities and differences.  Seeking answers to what truly happened next helps me understand what might occur next in my biographical fiction.
A graduate of Converse College with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Sheila Ingle is a lifelong resident of S.C. Her published books, Courageous Kate, Fearless Martha, Brave Elizabeth, and Walking with Eliza focus on the bravery of Patriot women living in Revolutionary War South Carolina. Tales of a Cosmic Possum, not only shares Ingle family history, but also South Carolina and cotton mill history. Serving on the board for eight years of Children’s Security Blanket (a 501c3 organization that serves families that have children with cancer), she is the Board Chairman. She is also a member of Chapter D PEO, where she served as vice president and chaplain; Circle 555(a local women’s giving group), where she has served on the grant committee; and a board member of Spartanburg County Historical Association, serving on the Walnut Grove Committee. Married for thirty-eight years to John Ingle, they have one son Scott. Besides being avid readers, the South Carolina beaches are their favorite spots for vacations. Social Media links:   Facebook: Sheila Ingle, Author   @sheilaingle1

December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! A New Decade Begins!

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor of Southern Writers Magazine

Yes, at Southern Writers Magazine we say Merry Christmas! After  all that is what it is. So again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years from all of us here at Southern Writers Magazine. We hope your year has been a happy and prosperous one. There are still a few days left in the year for you to tie up any loose ends. But remember these last few days are also the last few days of the decade.

Author, p.m. terrell recently posted on Facebook, “There’s only two more weeks left in this decade. What would you consider your most memorable moments of the decade?” The response was amazing! Looking back over the last 10 years wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. A lot has happened and choosing the most memorable ones, although difficult, was a great opportunity to count my blessings.

Looking back also gave me an eye-opening moment to realize 10 years has passed in the blink of an eye. Another is about to start. So much planning and goal setting went into the last 10 years. I had to ask myself what my goals are and plans for the next 10 years. What have I learned and what do I hope to learn in the coming years?

As great as my last 10 years have been, I want the next 10 years to be the best yet? In order to assure that happens planning and goal setting come into play again. Also taking stock and knowing where we have been, will make us aware of what is possible. The next step is to set your goals higher. As business like as this sounds it can also be used to plan personal finances and family time. All parts of our lives are intertwined so we must plan as such.

So simply put it boils down to 5 questions. Where are you now? What are you excited about now? What would you change? Who makes the decision? What is the solution? With this  searching and planning you should have the best decade yet!

Back to p.m. terrell’s question, “What would you consider your most memorable moments of the decade?” For me that was easy. On December 17th Nancy and I celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary. We first took a trip to Hawaii. We then renewed our vows in the presence of family, including 8 of our 10 grandchildren, and friends in the little church in Arkansas we grew up in. We were fortunate to have the pastor that married us return to renew our vows. Now that’s memorable!  

December 23, 2019

Fitting Food into your Fiction

By Nancy J. Cohen

Culinary themes are popular in genre fiction. Witness the many mystery or romance novels where the protagonist is a baker, chef, or caterer. Scenes often take place in coffee shops, restaurants, or kitchens because people socialize around meals. Your romantic couple gets to know each other over dinner, or your sleuth subtly questions a suspect over a slice of pie at the diner. Apparently, readers never tire of these tropes. So how can you work food into your story without it being the central theme or main character’s occupation?

1. Set scenes between family members or friends in the kitchen. Have them chat while preparing a meal, gathering items for a holiday feast, or setting out a cup of coffee and a piece of Aunt Marie’s famous peach cobbler.

2. Weave memories into your protagonist’s mind that center around food and provide backstory at the same time. For example, passing by a food market brings the scent of cinnamon to the air. The heroine reminisces about how her sister loved to buy those cinnamon-scented brooms for Christmas. Her house smelled like cinnamon, too, when she baked her apple crumb cake. Sadly, the last time they were together… well, you get the idea.

3. For a fun variation, switch up our gender expectations. Make the man the gourmet cook and the woman a klutz in the kitchen. Perhaps to win his heart, she attempts to make his favorite dish even though she knows she’ll probably fail. But love is worth the risk, yes? Or maybe your serial killer in a thriller enjoys making pumpkin pancakes. Challenge us with the unexpected.

4. Make your reader’s mouth water with your food descriptions. If you describe the heroine melting a square of semisweet chocolate in a small pot, I’ll bet many of us can almost taste that chocolate on our tongues. Or maybe she’s assembling dinner and frying onions. Familiar actions involving food will elicit a desired response. Appeal to the five senses and remember that smell plays a large role in taste.

5. Give your characters food quirks. Maybe when nervous, the best friend chews on a stick of red licorice. Or your heroine fumbles for a mint in her purse when she’s unsure of herself. The hero loves beef jerky, which makes his non-meat eating girlfriend wrinkle her nose. Also, how do certain foods showcase your character’s heritage? Perhaps your heroine likes a cool bowl of borscht on a hot summer day because her grandmother from Russia used to serve it. Or she grew up in an Italian family, and pasta is her go-to dish of choice.

6. Regional foods can enhance your setting. What special foods are popular in the community where you’ve set the story? In the deep South, for example, grits are a common staple on the breakfast menu. Or gator bites might be offered as a dinner appetizer. Use food to flavor your story with items distinctive to the locale.

7. Add recipes of dishes you’ve mentioned in the story as bonus material in the back of your book. Readers love recipes, and they’ll keep your book in mind when they make one of yours.

Social occasions very often revolve around food. By paying attention to this aspect of our lives, you can spice up your novel with memorable sensory experiences.
Nancy J. Cohen writes The Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have been named Best Cozy Mystery by Suspense Magazine, won a Readers' Favorite gold medal, placed first in the Chanticleer International Book Awards and third in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy’s instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery, was nominated for an Agatha Award, earned first place in the Royal Palm Literary Awards and won a gold medal at the President’s Book Awards. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys cooking, fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping. Social Media links: Website: Blog: Facebook:  

December 20, 2019

Writing a Writing Synopsis – with a Giveaway

A good writing synopsis will take you scene by scene, chapter by chapter, act by act through the story. It will prompt your dialogue, talk about the motivations, and highlight the conflicts that should exist between your characters.

Here’s how to write a good synopsis that will speed your writing to the successful completion of a first draft:

1.      Start with the tagline of the book. One or two sentences that encapsulate what the book will be about. For Missing Deposits, mine is: When a rancher discovers copper on his property, he learns that mining can be dangerous business. Can Mike and Carly figure out who the killer is, or will they end up buried in an unmarked grave in western Colorado?
2.      Come up with the short blurb. This could be three to five sentences that give a little more information. Think of it as “back cover copy”—what would entice you to buy and read this book? Again, using my most recent release as an example: Carly looks forward to a vacation when Mike is hired to assist a rancher family in western Colorado catalogue their various mineral rights following the discovery of a large copper field on their property. However, Carly soon learns that the real wealth—and the real danger—aren’t below ground. Someone is out to keep a secret bigger and more profitable than copper. And they’re willing to kill for it.
3.      Start at the beginning of the story. Refer to your tagline and your blurb to keep you on track. This isn’t intended to stifle your creativity, but rather to deliver on the promise you made to your reader through your book description/back cover copy. Drop the reader into the action right away. Then transcribe the movie playing in your head. I format the synopsis so that each scene is a single paragraph. Sometimes I include dialogue. And if there’s something I need to research, I don’t stop and do it then. I put in @@ so I can search the document later and pop those little tidbits in.
4.      End every scene and every chapter with a problem, a question, or a revelation. This keeps the reader reading.
5.      Add notes as you write the book and make changes as your characters lead you.
6.      When you’re done, add in the timeline of when the scene is set in the story as well as in time. I use a free online printable calendar to keep the days straight in my head and in my story.

For Missing Deposits, my synopsis came in at just about 11,000 words. I hear what you’re thinking, and I see the eye rolls. “Why would you waste all that time doing a synopsis when you could be writing the book?” I asked that same question the first few times I wrote a synopsis. And honestly, this one was way more detailed than I usually do. But it’s been a treasure. Sometimes, I just rehash the synopsis directly in the book. And, with this level of detail, I reduce the risk of leaving a gaping hole in the plot lines.

Leave a comment, and I will draw one name randomly to receive a free print copy (US only) or ebook of Missing Deposits.
Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. In the Money is the tenth title in her cozy mystery series, and together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, judge writing contests, edit, facilitate a critique group, and are members of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, and Sisters in Crime. Leeann travels extensively to research her stories, and is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC.Website: Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter. Blog: Facebook:  Twitter: Books: Amazon  and Smashwords:

December 19, 2019

Ideals Christmas Books Means Christmas to Me

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine 

Most children of my generation looked forward to the annual Sears Christmas catalog and would dog ear the pages of items they hoped to find under the Christmas tree. I was one of those children. 

However, I was drawn more by my Mom’s collection of Ideals Christmas soft cover books. The glossy Christmas-themed cover never disappointed. She kept her collection in the bottom drawer of her mahogany secretary. Even in the midst of the 100 degree heat of July, I would carefully dig in the bottom drawer and pull out Mom’s Ideals Christmas books, losing myself in the pictures and stories of Christmas found within those favorite pages. Mentally escaping into those pages of pictures of snowy landscapes and holiday stories and poems of Christmas had a cooling effect on a sweltering July day. 

At Christmastime, Mom would decorate using the Ideals Christmas books. The current year would sit on her upright piano. Her collection of Ideals Christmas books would sit in a pretty basket decorated with a faux cardinal on a pine branch and a bright red bow on the floor to the left of her piano. These were well loved stories Mom would read to us during the season. It was Mom’s version of an advent calendar. During these readings, I would lay on the floor under the Christmas tree and look up through the tree colored light bulbs, ornaments and icicles, throughly enjoying the cadence of my Mom’s voice reading these stories aloud. 

My favorite of all the stories is Hans Christian Anderson’s, The Little Match Girl. The story always made me cry and still brings tears to my eyes. Mom didn’t like reading it to me because I would cry and would try to steer me to happier stories. I loved this story because it’s about reminding us all, especially in the Christmas season, to pay attention to those less fortunate and be grateful for what we already have. 

Ideals started as a newsletter and evolved into a magazine then soft and hard cover books. The Ideals magazines were published bi-monthly by the Ideals Publishing Co. of Milwaukee, WI. Ideals magazine is a holiday magazine of inspirational poetry, artwork and nostalgia. The first issue of the magazine was published during the Christmas holiday of 1944 by a public relations manager named Van B. Hooper. The magazine began as a collection of poems that were added to a company newsletter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ideals is now a division of Worthy Publishing Group, based in Nashville, Tennessee.

Unfortunately, I don’t have my Mom’s Ideals Christmas books. She would bring them and read to my children when they were younger. I don’t know what became of her books, but I have luckily found a couple on eBay. The Ideals Christmas Treasury shown in the above was my best find. It contains my favorite story, The Little Match Girl.

Do you have a favorite Ideals Christmas story? 

December 18, 2019

How to Prepare to be on a Panel Discussion

By Madeline Sharples

I’ve been on many panels at local writer’s conferences. And just having finished appearing on a panel, some of the things I’ve learned have come into focus. Here’s my list:

·         Know your topic cold – make sure you know the topic you plan to speak about very thoroughly. On my recent panel we discussed writing best-selling memoirs, something I know a lot about. My goal was to convince the audience to find a way to write a memoir with a universal theme – that will appeal to readers beyond the author’s family and friends. We also discussed the differences between memoir (a small portion of a person’s life story) and an autobiography (a total life story) and the differences between memoir and fiction. A memoir is nonfiction.
·         Know who your panel mates will be and their backgrounds – usually the faculty is listed with short bios on a writer’s conference website. I took advantage of that and looked up each of my panel mates beforehand. That was interesting since none of the other panel members I was with recently were memoir writers. As an aside, be courteous to the other panel members and give each other enough time respond to the questions as well.
·         Be in touch with the panel moderator in advance – I had already met the recent moderator, so I was very comfortable with her. She also sent us her list of questions in advance. I suggest all panel moderators provide us with questions well before the panel date.
·         Prepare notes to bring to the session – I wrote brief notes in answer to the moderator’s questions and went over the answers several times before the actual panel discussion. However, once I’m sitting on a panel and speaking to the audience, I don’t usually use the notes. I rely on my knowledge and experience. The notes are there as a little crutch just in case.
·         Have a stack of current business cards available – the audience usually comes up afterward to collect your business card. They carry a conference bag with them, and your cards become part of their baggage. And who knows? Maybe they’ll refer to it again and buy your book.
·         Bring your books – the audience may also want to buy books directly from you at the end of the panel discussion. I signed three books for audience members who bought my books this last time.
·         Dress in business attire – look nice and business like. I’ve actually gone so far as to wear a dress, pantyhose, and heels. Since I’m considered a faculty member, I want to look like I’m working in that role. Plus, the conference staff will take your picture as will some of the audience.

As always, I’m looking forward to my next panel appearance – I’ve just gotten an invite to appear again. I hope you get a chance to appear on one or more as well.
Madeline Sharples worked for most of her professional life as a technical writer and editor, grant writer, and proposal manager, she fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school. She only began to fulfill her dream to be a creative writer later in life. Madeline's memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, is the harrowing but ultimately uplifting tale about her son Paul's diagnosis with bipolar disorder, through his suicide at her home, to the present day. It details how Madeline, her husband, and younger son weathered every family's worst nightmare (Dream of Things, 2011). Madeline co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994) a book about women in nontraditional professions and co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1,.2. and 3). She wrote the poems for The Emerging Goddess photography book (Paul Blieden, photographer). Aberdeen Bay published her first novel, Papa’s Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-town America, in April 2019. It is an immigration story with a feminist, coming of age, and romance focus. Her poems have also appeared online and in print magazines. Her articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, Naturally Savvy, Aging Bodies, PsychAlive, Story Circle Network’s HerStories and One Woman’s Day blogs, and the Memoir Network blog. She posts about writing on her website Choices and host authors on her website who are marketing their books through the WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tours.  She and Bob, her husband of 49+ years, live in Manhattan Beach, California, a small beach community south of Los Angeles. Her website and social media links: Her website/blog  Her Facebook page1 Her Facebook page2 Her Facebook timeline  Her Twitter page  Her Pinterest page  Independent Author Network LinkedIn  Goodreads Amazon  You Tube  Google+

December 17, 2019

Marketing Your Book

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

We all wish that marketing our books was warm and fuzzy. The reality is marketing is not warm and fuzzy.

However, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we make it sometimes.

You are not at a disadvantage when it comes to marketing your book. Why? Because you know your book better than anybody. This automatically sets you apart.

While it is important you get a message out about your book realize you do that with everything you say and do when talking about your book.

Hopefully you know what niche your book fits into. If so, you can move forward. In your book, what elements have your brought together? What types of people would have an interest in the story of your book? Once you determine who and where, you then move to how you can engage them in being interested in your book.

One is to focus on the uncommon things your book has to offer in that niche.

Showcasing what you know is important to grow your reputation and promote your book and yourself with informed opinions. A great way to do this is to take a survey among your fans/readers. Gain knowledge by their answers on what they feel is relevant to reading your book. How did it make them feel? What questions did it conjure up?

You want to get your name in front of people. You want the title of your book in front of people. The more you position yourself as an expert––contributing articles and blog posts whenever you can, the more people you reach. In time you will find you are building yourself as an expert. Make sure it is valuable to your readers.

The more information you gather, the better marketing tools you will have.

December 16, 2019

When Your Book Doesn’t Sell

By W. Terry Whalin

I used to cringe when I saw the mail or email from one of my publishers. It probably contained a royalty statement and experience told me many of those numbers would begin with a minus (negative balance).  I’ve written for many different traditional publishers and have had this experience from a broad spectrum of types of books including how-to, self-help, biographies, gift books and children’s books.

When your book sales are off, it’s a natural tendency to want to blame someone. Maybe my editor has left and my book was orphaned inside the publisher with no champion or advocate. Maybe my publisher didn’t market the book to bookstores. Maybe they changed the title between what was printed in the catalog and what was published. Or _(fill in the blank). I’ve had all of these things happen to my published books. Good publishing involves a cooperative process and working with many different people. Much of this process is outside of the author’s control. I’ve also learned there are many pro-active steps authors can take to change their situation.
1.      Take 100% responsibility for your own success. In The Success Principles, Jack Canfield makes this the first principle. Over ten years ago, I heard this principle and adopted it in my publishing efforts.
2.      Be active in the promotion and marketing of your book.  As the author, you have the greatest passion for your book—way beyond anyone else including your publisher. The great promoter, PT Barnum said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens—nothing.” Consistent promotion of your book is important.
3.      Be Generous with your book. Reviews sell books but many authors have few reviews for their book on Amazon or Goodreads or Barnes & Noble. Give books to people who are willing to write a review. If they’ve never written a review, give them a tool to help them like with this form.
4.      Ask for others for help. In the New Testament, James 4:2-3 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” If you need endorsements, ask but make it easy for them to say yes (offer to draft it). If you need social media promotion, ask but create possible posts. Here’s an example of a page, I created to help others help me spread the word on my latest book.
5.      Take the long view of publishing. Publishing and promoting a book is more like a marathon than a sprint. With the huge volume of published books, someone has to hear about your book seven to twelve times before they purchase it. What actions can you take every day to give your book this exposure? My Billy Graham book trailer has been seen over 11,500 times in the last five years.
6.      No matter what happens in your life, keep going. In Perennial Seller, New York Times bestselling author Ryan Holiday writes, “The hard part is not the dream or the idea, it’s the doing.” If there were a simple formula to create a bestseller, every book would be a bestseller. There are practical actions every author can take. Each part of the publishing process has challenges and as writers your persistence and consistency is critical. As #1 New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins wrote in the foreword of my book, 10 Publishing Myths, “Only one of a hundred writers literally make their deadlines.” If you meet deadlines with quality writing, it’s an easy way to stand out from the crowd. I wrote 10 Publishing Myths (releases December 17th) to give writers realistic expectations and practical steps every author can take to succeed. Today, you can get the 11th Publishing Myth as a free ebook.

When you point a finger at others because your book is not selling, just remember: when you extend your pointer finger, four more fingers are bent back toward you. Take action today.
W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Straight Talk From the Editor. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.