March 29, 2019

Three Books for Every Library

By  Paul Yarbrough

I once told a friend there were three books every Southerner should have in his library:  Gone with the Wind, I’ll Take My Stand, and the Bible. I did comment––“Not necessarily in that order.”  It’s not that all Southern prose, from Virginia to Texas, is captured by these, but they do reach into the Southern soul for a view of life––past, present and future.  That is what I want to write and read about, the South and its life; past, present and future. The South is more than worthy of study.

There hardly exist, in my opinion, a population of characters more colorful and charismatic than Southerners. But they exist when, as Dr. Clyde Wilson has stated in Defending Dixie, one understands that one of the greatest Southern writers, William Faulkner1 wrote about Southerners who were not simply “aristocrats” and “poor whites.” Because Faulkner knew the South and knew that they were not simply that. Most were between those groups. And they all were made of flesh with demonstrably great accomplishments as well as great sins.

The three works I mentioned above encapsulate the greatness and wonder of the American South which includes it treasures, its pride, its kindness and its flaws. The South has never been puritanical. That is, again my opinion, a Yankee trait. i.e. New England.

Southern stories include blemishes of its characters. I Certainly recommend Flannery O’Conner at this point. Puritanical stories are largely about a mythical “American exceptionalism.” No defects.

The South has had its greats such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee. It also has had its murderers, drunkards and vagabonds. Gone With the Wind demonstrates in historical novel fashion this wide variety; I’ll Take My Stand in multiple essay accounts shows the humanness, hard work and sincerity of the South.  

The Bible in no uncertain terms reveals greatness and failure (Saul for example). But the ultimate revelation is that there is no chance for the puritanical polish of mankind by other men. Purity comes from the sacrifice of one man. The South did not give itself the name “The Bible Belt.” The name was given to it. I was born and raised in the South, Mississippi; schooled and married into the wonderful state of Louisiana; and have lived and probably will die in one of God’s most prized places on earth—Texas.

There may be those who know the South better than I. But there are none that love it more.
 Paul Yarbrough was born and reared in Mississippi and have lived in both Louisiana and Texas. I have spent most of my business career in the oil business. I took up writing as a hobby 15 years ago and love to write about the South. I am just about finished with a fourth novel which takes place in Texas, circa 1953. I write some short stories and essays. One of my favorites is a Southern site, The Abbeville Institute. They have even posted a couple of short stories of mine as well as essays and one poem. I like to write poetry though I have only one poem posted. I mostly do it like the rest of my writing, as a hobby. I had a former friend in another Southern state, herself a fine writer, offering advice but she dropped out. So, I don’t do so much verse now.

March 28, 2019

Plodders Finish Books

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Author, Rachel Anne Ridge writes a blog, “Home Sanctuary.” Often times, I read her posts and laugh out loud. Friday, March 22, 2019, her blog post was titled, “In Praise of All Who Keep Plodding.”
She states in the post, “Plodders can feel like they've missed out. They feel frustrated by lack of apparent success. They can be overlooked by others who seem to grab the spotlight.”

Rachel Anne is on to something. We plodders are the ones who get things done without much fanfare or fuss. We are fine to let others take the spotlight, all while working in the background. We are the worker bees. defines plodding as, “to proceed in a tediously slow manner.” I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be a writing plodder than a one book author, “flash in the pan.” I’d rather be an author who finishes the manuscript and has a binder full of ideas for the next book and never stops writing.

Plodding involves a dedication to a steady workflow each and everyday. Just like the worker bees in a hive. Author, Steve Pavlina’s book, Personal Development for Smart People was published by Hay House in 2008. Pavlina wrote a blog post on October 29, 2012 titled, “Plodding and Bursting.” He wrote, “a nice example of plodding is Jiro from the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. He followed essentially the same work routine every day for decades and became one of the best sushi chefs in the world as a result. A plodding writer would focus on writing every day, in essentially the same place, at the same time, and in the same manner. This approach could be used to create articles as well as larger works. An example of such a writer is Danielle Steele, who’s written more than 100 books. She’s said in interviews that she has a very disciplined work schedule, basically following the same work routine day after day to complete book after book.” 

Do you know the acronym BICHOK? It means “Backside In Chair, Hands On Keyboard.” Plodders know it is the key to finishing your book. Success. The only way to improve your writing is to finish your book. Once you type “The End.” The next day a plodder will be found “BICHOK.”

How about you? Are you a worker bee plodder?

March 27, 2019

Me and the Kindle Publishing App

By Nicola Jane Dutton

I was born in the UK and came to the USA in 1979 on a work permit as an RN and spent a rewarding career as a nurse for 34 years, living in Arkansas, Iowa and Minnesota, and now in the Mississippi Delta for the last 13 years.

I am married with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I volunteer with two food pantries, edit a local newspaper, and play dominoes every week with an elderly gentleman who is home bound. I am also very involved with the community as is my sweet husband. I love to travel, spends time with family and my hobbies include writing, knitting and crochet. I am passionate about helping others less fortunate than myself and like to "Pay it Forward" as the saying goes. I have an unpublished manuscript of poetry and am working on two young adult mystery novels.

Since I retired I wrote a children's chapter book but found that self-publishing was too expensive for me to consider and so put aside the idea but have continued to work on books since then, as much for my own pleasure as anything. I have a vivid imagination and have always enjoyed writing, and for my first book it was easy to formulate an idea in my head and using some memories from my childhood, came up with Hannah's Adventure. Once I put fingers to the keys, they story easily grew from one chapter to the next. I shared the story with family and friends who were enthralled and pushed me to publish.

It wasn't until September 2018 that I discovered the Kindle publishing app, through There I was able to easily upload my manuscript, design a cover and first published as an eBook in October. There was no cost to me at all. Kindle also offers a paperback format and while adapting the manuscript and designing a back and front cover was not complicated it was time-consuming for me. There is no upfront cost, Amazon/Kindle print the books as ordered and ship directly to the customer and then the profit is split between us. My book is selling well through word of mouth, social media and is being read by people from 7 to 87 years old, in the US and the UK.

All the profits from this book will be donated to a non-profit organization called We2gether Creating Change, here in my small poor Delta town or Drew, MS.

Hannah’s Adventure is a chapter book originally intended for young readers between the ages of 7 and 12 years old. It has been described by one reader as ‘Alice in Wonderland meets Beatrix Potter’. Hannah discovers that she has a gift of being able to communicate with animals and discovers that there is a big problem that she is persuaded to solve. The book has Christian undertones encouraging kindness, thoughtfulness, patience, honesty, truth, trust and love.
Nicola Jane Dutton was born in the UK in 1953. She moved 10 times before she was 20, and finding it hard to make friends, she used her imagination often to ease her loneliness. She became an RN in 1975 and moved to the USA in 1979 where she pursued a rewarding career. Always having a desire to write a children's book, she began one, after she retired from nursing. She has also written many poems and is currently working on two adult fiction novels. She is married and has a large family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She is also actively involved in the community, volunteering at 2 Food Pantries, editing a small free local newspaper, and helping the elderly. Her hobbies include, writing, knitting, crochet, and travelling.

March 26, 2019

Gift of Time

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

Don’t you just love receiving gifts?
Think how wonderful you feel when you see that gift. Wondering what it is.

Your eyes light up and your smile goes from ear to ear.

You know, there doesn’t have to be a holiday or special occasion to give gifts. In fact, some of the best gifts are when they aren’t expected. And one of the best is our time.

I think it is important to be giving of ourselves each day. To make someone’s day brighter is not just a blessing for them but also for us.

Writers also need gifts. The gifts we can give them are the words we write for a review after reading their book. We can also give them the gift of telling our friends on social media how much we enjoyed the author’s book. You could even take it a step further and send them a note on their social media about how much you enjoyed their book. Yes, this takes a little time…but not a lot. It’s doing something special for someone.

Just this effort would bring smiles and pleasure to the authors. These gifts last a long time.

To give of our time to someone else is the greatest gift besides love. it makes us feel special. Something we all need to feel.

Have you just recently read a book? Maybe you could spare a little time for the author. After all it took them months to write the book, possibly a year or more.

Is there someone you met at a conference that wanted to talk to you about how you got to where you are? Maybe because of your schedule you didn’t have the time to answer their questions and spend time with them. Get their name, address, phone number so you can set aside a few minutes to give them the gift of your time.

There is no better feeling on earth than when we help someone with our time. It’s the most precious gift we have to offer. Money you can make, time you can’t; it’s already set.

March 25, 2019

Turning Lemons into Lemonade – Writing Through Life’s Storms

By Sheree K. Nielsen

The process of writing is often times challenging – coming up with ideas for feature articles, brainstorming about a children’s book, or honing your craft to entice specific audiences. And then, there’s marketing…

Writing is assuredly daunting, especially when you’re facing a crisis or a life-threatening medical issue.

For me personally, my motivation and productivity plummeted in the last five months when my diagnosis of Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia took a turn for the worse. Under observation for six years for the disease, I noticed drastic changes in my physical well-being last fall. At the advice of my hematologist, I began chemotherapy treatments to combat anemia, muscle cramping, low hemoglobin levels, and high protein levels. No one is ever prepared for chemotherapy. Reactions to the two drugs I was receiving included fatigue, nausea, cotton mouth, stomach issues, shortness of breath, and a host of other issues.

On good days, my energy and motivation level peaked, so I wrote poetry, and maintained my inspirational blog. Normally, I would accept freelance assignments from magazine editors I had a good rapport with, but I held off. On bad days, well…I felt bad.

I wrote a poem about my chemotherapy experience titled, “Seventeen Days Since My Veins Were Filled with Poison”. Shortly after I penned the poem, I sent a submission to a contest about life-changing events on the Heart and Humanity website. Within a few days, the editors emailed me with an acceptance and a sweet note saying, “we’d love to publish your poem.” Even better, I’m receiving compensation for my work.

I’ve received uplifting responses from people on their cancer journey saying how they identify with the poem, and friends who now better understand the chemotherapy process.

During the storms in life I’ve learned:
·         Write what you can, when you can. You may be exhausted if you’re dealing with a medical issue. Write when the urge strikes, even if it’s for a few minutes. Realize some days are better than others.
·         Take care of yourself. There will be plenty of time to write when things are back to normal. Take time to heal, get plenty of rest, and eat healthy.
·         Don’t feel guilty about not writing. This mindset causes more stress and anxiety in your life. As Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Don’t worry about anything, pray about everything.”
·         Turn lemons into lemonade. Take a difficult life issue and shift it in a positive way. Journal thoughts or ideas for use at a later time. Sometimes the best writing blossoms from undesirable situations.
Luckily, before chemotherapy, I released two books – Midnight, the One-Eyed Cat, (a picture book that lets children know they’re okay just the way they are), and Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits (an Emerson-inspired essay collection) – both semifinalists for the upcoming Chanticleer book awards. In addition, I signed a contract for my poetry collection, Mondays in October, to be released late 2019/early 2020.

If all goes well, I’ll be finished with chemotherapy before summer begins. I recently met with a second specialist who has a new plan for the treatment process.

I’m staying optimistic and hopeful.

You can read my poem on the Heart and Humanity website at:
Sheree K.Nielsen is Author/Photographer/Poet of 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances (inspired by the sea and her lymphoma journey), Midnight the One-Eyed Cat (a picture book), and Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirit – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets. She blogs at Sheree’s Warm Fuzzies

March 22, 2019

What’s in a Chapter?

By T.I. Lowe

Quite a bit if done properly . . . To look at a chapter in the correct light, let’s compare it to an episode of your favorite TV series. Even though the entire season is connected to the same characters and story line, each week the episode has to hold enough content to stand on its own to a certain extent. A perfect mix of conflict, tease, and resolve in small portions—just enough to leave the viewers satisfied but already longing for next week’s episode.

A book should be approached in the same manner, viewing each chapter as an episode. A great deal of effort needs to be spent on making the beginning sentence a hook to draw the reader into this episode of the story. The middle of the chapter should hold enough meat to keep the story line strong and on track. And the last line of the chapter is the perfect place to add a little tease for what’s to come in the next episode.

Something else to consider . . . Have you ever started watching a TV series and were hooked like mad to the first few episodes, but by midseason it felt like the story line took a nosedive off an uninspiring cliff? You get bored with it so you stop watching, but your friend bravely trudges on and watches until the end of the season and shares how the last few episodes were sooo good.

Yeah, you see where this is going. Writers cannot become lax midseason in their books. Never allow lazy writing to take over a chapter and turn it into sluggish filler to make your word count. Each chapter should be approached as significant in its own right but clever enough to drive the reader to the next. Take advantage of every episode you present to your reader by sneaking in a hint and teaser for what’s to come so that they will continue on with your book and not quit midseason.
T. I. Lowe is a native of coastal South Carolina. She attended Coastal Carolina University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in psychology but excelled in creative writing. Go figure. Writing was always a dream, and she finally took a leap of faith in 2014 and independently published her first novel, Lulu’s Café, which quickly became a bestseller. Now the author of ten published novels with hundreds of thousands of copies sold, she knows she’s just getting started and has many more stories to tell. A wife and mother who’s active in her church community, she resides near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with her family. Social Media Links: T.I. Lowe’s website Goodreads  Twitter  Facebook  Pinterest  Instagram

March 21, 2019

Be a Reviewer

By Chris Pepple, Writer-At-Large, Southern Writers Magazine

What is it that we all need? Well, honestly, there’s not just one thing. The list is long for some of us. We need more time, more money, more rest, etc. But most newly published authors will agree that along with everything else on the list, we need more reviews of our work. Reviews drive new readers to our books.

I know what you are already asking: how do I get more reviews for a new book? There’s no easy answer to that. Some authors give away free copies and ask the readers to write an honest review. Other authors ask friends and family members to write reviews. Those are great ideas, but we can only give away so many books free. Begging on social media isn’t very effective, so what’s left?

I’ve decided that being a reviewer myself helps our writing community be stronger even if it doesn’t always mean that I will quickly get reviews of my own. It’s a gift we can give other authors trying to reach new audiences. No, this isn’t a guarantee that anyone will review your book in return. However, if each of us gets into the habit of reviewing new books, we are setting the example for others as we encourage new authors. Look at authors’ Amazon pages and Goodreads book pages and see who could use a review. If the book isn’t in your budget, see if you can find a cheaper version—an e-book maybe or a library copy. If you can’t find a copy in your budget, don’t be shy about asking the author if you can borrow a copy in exchange for an honest review. Never hurts to ask.

After you write the review, let the author know. Tag them on social media if you don’t know them personally. Send them a link to your review via e-mail if you have their address. Also, tag other readers and remind them how easy it can be to review a book. Don’t be shy about ending with a request for someone to review yours.

If we start the trend, hopefully other readers will follow. Reviewing a book (or a podcast or an art showing or a restaurant) can be quick and painless. We don’t have to write paragraphs about anything. Filling in the rating (usually choosing a star rating) and writing two sentences about why we liked or disliked it can really make a difference. Try to write one review a month to stay in the habit and to hopefully spark an interest in other readers.

March 20, 2019

Stand Out Writing

By Nancy Roe

Would you like your writing to stand out? Would you like the reader to evoke emotion when reading your prose? Would you like to be a New York Times bestseller? Have you tried using rhetorical devices in your writing?

What exactly is a rhetorical device? A rhetorical device is a use of language that creates a literary effect. A rhetorical device is a linguistic tool that employs a particular type of sentence structure, sound, pattern.

By using rhetorical devices, you add power to your words. You evoke emotion. You strengthen your persuasive skills. While I’ve found a list of over 160 rhetorical devices, I’m giving you my top 10.

Anaphora: Repeating a word or phrase at the beginning of 3 or more successive clauses or sentences. The first three are always in a row. (Refer to the first three sentences in this article.)

Asyndeton: In a list of 3 or more, no conjunctions, just commas. (Refer to the third sentence in the second paragraph.)

Polysyndeton: In a list of 3 or more, just conjunctions, no punctuation. Example: His teeth were large and pointed and discolored.

Epistrophe: Repeating the last word or final phrase 3 or 4 or more times of consecutive phrases or sentences in a row. Example: Airplanes are fascinating. Rockets are fascinating. Pogo sticks are not fascinating.

Conduplication: Start a sentence with a key word from a previous sentence. Example: Jack is impossible to work with. Impossible to tell the truth.

Alliteration: Alliteration is repeating initial consonant sounds. Example: My burger was bitter and burned.

Onomatopoeia: Use words that imitate the sound the word describes. Examples: whoosh, plunk, splat, and whap.

Personification: Attributing animal or inanimate objects with human attributes. Using personification can make for a stronger, more interesting read. Example: The cameras gobbled our images.

Zeugma: In zeugma, the last item is out of sync with the others. It carries power. Example: Barbara grabbed her purse, her water, and her steely resolve.

Assonance: Similar vowel sounds repeated in successive or proximate words containing different consonants. They can be in the same sentence or successive sentences. Example: loosey goosey, name game, or hair repair.

Will you be adding any of these rhetorical devices to your next piece of writing?
Nancy Roe has self-published six books and currently working on her seventh. Nancy has served as a panelist at the Killer Nashville International Writer’s Conference, speaking on the subjects of self-publishing, minor characters, and dialogue. Nancy is a Midwest farm girl at heart and currently lives in Tennessee with her husband and four-legged child.  Website:; Facebook:; Twitter:; Pinterest:; Books:

March 19, 2019

Bouncing in Off A Cloud

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

In 1959 Cuba was frozen in time. It’s politics, culture and commercial life stopped dead in it’s tracks and remained there. One of the most tale tell signs are their automobiles. Most are 1950’s American models. They have kept them in pristine condition and running with parts hand tooled in privately owned garages. 

In recent years the government opened its doors. This led to an opportunity for American artists to begin preforming there. In December 2015 the 30th Annual Havana Jazz Festival was held in Havana. One American artist appearing there was ZZ Top’s lead guitar and vocalist Billy Gibbons. Knowing the country had been frozen in time Gibbons wasn’t sure what to expect when he arrived. He was shocked when he arrived to sold out crowds and people in the streets were singing his song   when he was sited walking by. He shared this with one of the organizers and asked how was it that he was so well known here?e He askd     

He was told that in 1973 a Little Rock Arkansas radio station KAAY played rock and roll. In Cuba, if the weather was in their favor, they could catch the signal if it bounced off a cloud. It was received in Havana Cuba by a radio DJ there. He recorded it and shared the music with the people in Havana. The artist they heard became a legendary figure in their music. ZZ TOP’S Billy Gibbons appeared to them in the flesh in Dec 2015 for the 30th Annual Havana Jazz Festival. He had bounced in off a cloud some 40 plus years earlier and was now standing before them.

No matter what profession you are in each of us, if we continue that road and persevere, will have a “bounced in off a cloud” moment. There will be a time when we are propelled forward, a quantum leap so to say. We never know what will trigger it or, as the case with Billy Gibbons, when the rewards will arrive.

Chicken Soup for the Soul got the “bounce” when the sequestered jury members of the O.J. Simpson trial were given the book. The media took notice and asked about it. The rest was history. The same for Andy AndrewsThe Butterfly Effect. Robin Roberts of Good Morning America received the book from Andy’s Nashville publicist and made it one of her By the Book choices for her nightstand. After reading it she promoted it and had Andy interview on the show. That was Andy’s “bounce” and he has returned to introduce each book since then.

You never know what may lead to your “bounce”. We at Southern Writers Magazine hope we can be a part of it. We have many ways for you to promote yourself and your works, an article or a Suite T blog. Advertising on line or in our regular issue or seasonal catalog may do it. If we can be a part we would love to do so. Look us over and see where you think you would like to start. Just email for information and we can get you started.   

March 18, 2019

The Writing Path

By Shawn Smucker

There is something I can count on now, when the lights are out and the house is still and the city outside my window is quieting. I know that if I get out of bed and creep through the shadows, walk down the stairs, and peer into the living room, my son will be hunched over his laptop, biting his lip, scowling to himself, cracking his fingers, and writing. He has done a thing that has been wonderful to witness: at an early age he fell in love with books, and then he fell in love with stories, and then, before I knew it, he turned into a writer.

There are worse things your son can turn into. For example, he could want to be a builder who constructs strip malls in the Amazon rain forest, or create those loud toys for children that don’t have an on-off switch. He could turn into the kind of person who puts the toilet paper roll on the wrong way or designs the kind of robots that will one day take over the world. But he is none of those things. He is a writer. And that is a good thing.


I mean, there are easier ways to live a life. “Get a job,” I could say, “a good paying job that has benefits and health insurance. Always insist on the health insurance.” Or I could list the benefits of submerging in corporate America, with its six-figure executive paychecks and winner-winner-chicken-dinner mentality. Success there seems so easy to measure.

The truth is, the writing path is one of heartbreak and insecurity. It is a winding, tortuous route that can leave you questioning not only yourself but every decision you have ever made in life. It is the path of rejection and disappointment, one that never seems to have a destination.

Writing always asks more of us. If you are going to write, you have to give more of yourself than you ever imagined more of yourself than you thought even existed.
Shawn Smucker is the author of the young adult novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, as well as the memoir Once We Were Strangers. He lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. You can find him online at

March 15, 2019

The Personal brand is your essence. How should we use it?

By Maritza M. Mejia

Experts tell us that personal branding is the amplified perception of who we are with the intention of selling a product, providing a service or promoting a book.

The personal brand has a commercial purpose but remember the brain of the human being is not programmed to buy, but to relate to people. Therefore, we must use personal branding as the essence of our business relationships.

We could say the essence of our personal brand must be the combination of different elements, so that together, they provoke a series of associations with their own personality.

For instance, when creating a perfume, we ask that the product have vigor, volume, style, and aroma to attract the buyer. Likewise, the personal brand must have style, strength, empathy and character to connect with the potential buyer. In other words, the presentation must leave the essence of what we are going to offer. One effective means, I recommend, is to use the senses to bring the wake of your product, service or book to whoever sees or reads it. Are you ready for this challenge?

Next time, you are going to use social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even when using a Blog, remember to connect with your audience using the senses. Each message, comment, promotion, or image must focus on the personal brand to attract the user and potential buyer. It’s necessary to use personal branding as the essence of your business relations.

Take some time before pressing the "Send" button to be sure the message reflects what you are trying to project. For this, it is important to use a professional profile, or author page, check the spelling and be coherent with your essence.

On the other hand, in the real world, not the virtual world, we must take care of other aspects such as: image, verbal and non-verbal communication and commercial relations. These elements must be related to our personal brand to generate trust, honesty and coherence with what is sold, proclaimed or promoted. Let’s bring the same concept to social media messages. Act as you claim to be and leave your essence ahead!

This is my essence and personal brand:
Maritza Martínez Mejía
Mother, Educator, Bilingual Author, Cultural Promoter and Winner of Latino Book Awards 2016.
Delegate of ANLMI, Advisor of Multicultural Children’s Book Day and Florida Writers Association, and South Florida Writers Association member. FREE activities on Website:
Maritza M. Mejia is the recipient of the Crystal Apple Award 2006, VCB Poetry Winner 2015, The Latino Book Awards 2016 and Author’s Talk Book Show 2017. Five Books published and articles posted on Southern Writers Magazine and La Nota Latina.Graduated from Colegio Mayor de Cundinamarca in Commerce and Foreign Language and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities and Women’s Studies from Florida Atlantic University. Maritza writes to inspire others to be better persons. Book Published: Hazel Eyes (2010) An inspirational memoir for teenagers and adults translated into Spanish as Ojos Avellana. Bilingual Children Books: Vanilla and Chocolate/Vainilla y Chocolate (2012) and Grandma’s Treasure/El Tesoro de la Abuela (2014). Poetry Book, Poems, Thoughts and More. Social Media: Website: