Friday, December 13, 2019

Grow with What You Know



By Robin W. Pearson


If I’d graduated from law school, I would have written about a hotshot attorney who squeezes a “not guilty” verdict from a hostile jury.

If I ever take a picture that’s not out of focus or off-center and that captures something other than what I eat and who I birthed, I’ll publish a coffee table book filled with landscapes and close-ups.

If I was daring enough to kill more than time and the occasional eight-legged creature, I’d weave a complicated whodunit.

If I used my broom for something other than sweeping up Frosted Flakes, dust balls, and minuscule Playmobil pieces, I’d pen a tale of magic and fantasy and midnight flight.

But I didn’t, I probably won’t, I’m definitely not, and I never do.

Years ago, I was inspired to wrap some fiction around generations-old family stories and traditions. Being rooted and grounded in the South, I flavor my work with a y’all or two, a helping of grits, and some down-home wisdom that I acquired at my grandma’s and on the second pew in Sunday school. 

Later, when I was tasked with “building a platform” to further my publishing dreams, I laid the framework on those same cornerstones—faith and family. I sought to get that nod of understanding from those already on board while attracting others to climb on and join my adventure. To make my experience their experience.

And I don’t just speak from that experience; it also speaks for me. My writing reflects my spirit-filled life as a wife, mother, homeschooler, and artist and invites readers to step through the looking glass and drink up. While I love page-turning courtroom scenes filled with fast-paced cross-examinations in the pursuit of justice, I’m led to write drama that unfolds around a dinner table and leads to self-examination, mercy, and grace. And sure, nothing tugs the heartstrings when you read how a guy gets the girl, but nothing stirs my soul like writing how both the guy and the girl get God. My calling is an extension of who I am and what I believe, unlike watching television, doing puzzles, and of course, reading. These pastimes transport me from my day-to-day, destinations far from my laundry room and laptop while my work acts in the reverse, entreating my audience to pull up a chair and cozy up, so they can suffer, celebrate, and soak up life right along with me.

If you’re embarking on your own publishing journey, and you’re trying to build a platform to grow your audience, but you’re not sure where to start, consider sharing the story that no one else can tell, the one you live, love, and believe. Your audience will connect with you, the author, and relate to you, the person.

No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
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Robin W. Pearson’s writing sprouts from her Southern roots and her love of her husband and seven children. Both lend authenticity to her debut novel, A Long Time Comin’. After graduating from Wake Forest University, she has corrected grammar up and down the East coast in her career as an editor and writer that started with Houghton Mifflin Company twenty-five years ago. Since then she has freelanced with magazines, parenting journals, textbooks, and homeschooling resources. Follow her on her blog, “Mommy, Concentrated,” where she shares her adventures in faith, family, and freelancing. Helpful Links: Author Website Author Page  Media Center Page  Author Photo




Thursday, December 12, 2019

MAKING PUBLISHING HISTORY



By Vicki H. Moss, Contributing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


A lot of readers have read The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans. But most folks don’t know how this beautiful story made its way onto book the shelves of bookstores. 

The story of Richard Paul Evans's massive success is one every writer might hope to have. His inspirational story is such a miraculous tale that he could be a main character in one of his own books. In 1993, Evans reputedly wrote his very first book The Christmas Box as a holiday gift for his daughters. The story was representative of his own fatherly love. After writing The End, Evans produced twenty copies of the novella, and then gave the books to a select group of friends and family for Christmas.

After reading the books, they were passed on to others. Until the book was circulated into hands that deemed the book worthy to be read by more than friends or family. Also, Evans’s mother worked as a receptionist in a doctor’s office and sold his books at times by the case, until book stores began calling Evans at home asking for additional copies.

From such a humble beginning, The Christmas Box was picked up by Simon & Schuster, going on to make publishing history as a bestselling hardcover and a bestselling American paperback. Evans—a former advertising executive and clay animator—had suddenly become a bestselling writer with an entirely new career.

With a prequel titled Timepiece in 1996, this book was also a major hit with readers as was, the next book The Letter, which completed the Christmas Box trilogy. From there, Evans expanded into children’s writing with his first book for kids, The Christmas Candle.

The Christmas Box was later adapted for the small screen in 1995 starring Maureen O'Hara and Richard Thomas. The following year, a version of Timepiece featured an early appearance by Naomi Watts—who would later become a superstar.

Evans didn’t stop with a trilogy and one children’s book. He continued to write and churned out mega-sellers that warmed the heart with the following titles: The Locket, The Looking Glass, and The Carousel.

More success came along with the romantic The Last Promise, A Perfect Day, and The Sunflower, a critically acclaimed account of blossoming love at a humanitarian mission in Peru. Finding Noel was written in 2006 after Evans lost his mother on Valentine’s Day—and for once after he’d started writing, he couldn’t give his mother one of his books for Christmas.

Evans’s story of success by way of self-publishing seems like a miracle in itself and is encouragement for those writers who can’t seem to break into traditional publishing. For those stories you feel should be out there, revise, revise, revise and polish until the manuscript shines. Hire a good editor to make sure the book is ready for print. And then take a giant leap. Good luck. And Merry Christmas!        



Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Christmas Gifts for the Writerly Soul


By DiAnn Mills


It’s that time of year, and most of us are in a quandary of what to give our writer friends. We want them to know they are loved and appreciated with the perfect item that suits their personality, but what? Search no more! The following will help you wrap up the dilemma with a special gift sure to please the writerly soul. Take a look at the ideas below—laugh a little, love a lot, and don’t forget to thank God for friendships and the joy of the season.

Take a look at the Pinterest Board here for a complete list of Christmas gifts for the writerly soul. 

Here’s another tip! Print this to take with you shopping. Here’s my list:
 
LED Pen, Blank Journal, Book Worm Ring, How-To Write Books, Social Media Mentoring, Writer Pajamas & Slippers, Twelve South Laptop Cover, Scholarship to BRMCWC 2020, 7 Writer Coffee Mugs for Everyday, Aqua Notepad and Pen for the Shower, A Writer Literary Shoulder Bag and Scarf, Latest Version of Chicago Manual of Style, License Plate Cover - I Brake for Book Sales, Fat-Free, Sugar-Free Yummy Homemade Cookies, Famous Writers 1000-Piece Puzzle by EuroGraphics,The Emotion Thesaurus - Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, Take the Writer to Breakfast, A Reason to Get Out of the House, Pencil Tip Shoes, Scrabble Magnets and or a Wireless Mouse.

Happy Shopping, Y’all!

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DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure? Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on: Facebook, Twitter, or any of the social media platforms listed at diannmills.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Pearl Harbor - Your Point of View is Important



By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


Recently, I had the opportunity to revisit Pearl Harbor. It had been some sixteen years since I was last there and very little has changed. It is a well-maintained memorial to our fallen heroes and the tragedy that occurred there on December 7th, 1941 at 7:55 AM. I will tell you it seems to me each time I have visited I have come away with a different perspective of the tragedy. I discovered I wasn’t the only one.  

Visiting the book shop there I was overwhelmed by the great number of books about the event. Bookshelves full of books stand in place covering a large portion of the gift shop. Judging by their titles, each approaches the event from a different viewpoint. Most cover the actual attack. Being able to look back on it and the additional knowledge gathered over the years provides the writers of today with an insight many did not have. The shock of such an attack happening on US soil overwhelmed many and made it hard to be objective early on. Many have taken a second look, see more and can deal with more of the stories.

One book I found great interest in was one written by Rodney T. West, MD. Honolulu Prepares for Japan’s Attack, May 15, 1940 to December 8, 1941. I had the good fortune of meeting Dr. West in 2003. He was doing what writers do, signing his book at the Memorial site, and taking time to speak with each of us. Dr. West had served on several committees preparing for the possibility of such an attack. He shared with me even with all the preparation, they were overwhelmed. He said he could not imagine how things would have gone without the preparation and planning they had in place. Dr West’s title of his book gives a definite timeline.  

Preparation was some 18 months but on December 8th it was over. It then became time to recover and rebuild. Dr West died in March of 2008. Well known on the island for his service to the community as a veteran and MD he had one other note of fame prior to death. During the Obama Presidential Campaign his name was brought to light as the Dr who delivered Barack Obama. Dr West touched history a second time. The conspiracy continues to be debated.

I hope writers when writing about a known event realize there are many  different viewpoints. Many are different. If you think yours is important, most likely it is important to others. Don’t hesitate to share it with us all.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Turn Real-Life Events into Stories



By Staci Mauney


As writers, we’re often asked how we come up with story ideas. Whether I’m writing a devotional or a fictional short story, I’ve learned that drawing from real life provides some of the best inspiration. 

We can use the events from our lives to create stories that encourage, motivate, teach, or entertain others. While someone who reads your story may not have had the exact same experiences, she can relate to the emotions you felt and the lessons you learned.

Here are five ways to turn real-life events into stories.
1. Start with the Truth
Remember that the truth is often stranger than fiction. Use the truth as a foundation for your story, but change the facts. Connect with the reader by providing an emotional experience. Both fiction and nonfiction appeal to readers when they see parts of themselves in the characters and settings.
2. Determine the Heart of the Matter
Find the heart of the story: your theme. Theme provides the foundation for your story and helps readers connect to your characters’ internal journey. Determine the theme before you begin writing, if possible. This way, you can develop your story around that theme. Don’t worry if the theme doesn’t reveal itself until you’ve completed several drafts. Focus on the story, and the theme will emerge.
3. Create Memorable Characters
Real people need to be tweaked to become interesting characters. Create a fictional character by combining multiple traits from people you know into one character. Also, limit the number of characters you include to make it less confusing for your reader.
When fictionalizing real people, you may be concerned about privacy. Ask permission when possible. Change names, including initials, and change other pertinent details, such as looks, age, and abilities. Give the character different qualities from the real person so that the character only vaguely resembles the person on which he’s based.
4. Develop Your Setting
Setting consists of the time, place, and mood of the character’s world. Most writers don’t think about world-building unless they’re fantasy writers. But writers of every genre, even nonfiction writers, should spend some time on this. To build a world for your characters, you can use a real place, or you can fictionalize the town (or city or country) while including a few general, recognizable locations.
5. Use Third Person Limited POV
When writing a fictional story about your life, it will be tempting to use first person since it happened to you. But you’re too close to the story, and writing in third person limited point of view will allow you to have some distance.

We share our experiences through storytelling. As with any story, one based on real life needs to connect with readers. It seems as if it should be easy, but there’s more to it than simply recounting an experience. Readers want to feel joy and heartache alongside your characters. Determine the story you want to tell, and then go write it.
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Staci Mauney is a freelance writer and editor and indie author from Oklahoma. She is the co-owner of Prestige Prose, a freelance writing and editing company found at prestigeprose.com. As an author, she has written four devotionals in the Echoes of Joy series, where her Yorkshire terrier, Lilly, is the main character.She volunteers for a variety of organizations in her local community and is a member and past president of the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI). Author Website: http://stacimauney.com/
Social Media: -Facebook: @StaciMauneyAuthor  Twitter: @SMauneyAuthor  Instagram: @sdmauney 


Friday, December 6, 2019

INTRODUCING AND DEVELOPING CHARACTERS IN MEMOIR



By Brooks Eason, Author of Fortunate Son:The Story of Baby Boy Francis


When I started writing my memoir, Fortunate Son – the Story of Baby Boy Francis, I knew it had potential because the story was both amazing and true.

I was adopted as an infant, had wonderful parents and a wonderful childhood, never searched for my birth mother and never would have. I learned her identity and the story of my birth only because of litigation initiated in four courts in two states in an effort to identify and find me. The lawyers who were looking didn’t know who or where I was, but they knew my birth mother’s son had a potential claim to the fortune left by her grandfather, who owned oil wells all over the country as well as the only facility in the Western Hemisphere that made fluoride for toothpaste.

A week after I learned about my birth, my first grandchild was born under circumstances almost identical to my own. My birth mother got pregnant in the fall of her freshman year of college, my daughter in the fall of her sophomore year. The circumstances were the same, but the times were not. My daughter, unlike my mother, got to keep her baby, who’s grown into an extraordinary young lady.

I knew I had the makings of a good story. The challenge was to get readers who didn’t know any of the main characters – my parents, birth mother, daughter, granddaughter, and me – to care about us and feel they knew us. To achieve this, I wrote anecdotes about all of us that I thought were revealing, some no longer than a sentence or two. I wrote that my mother loved to dress up at Halloween, put on a mask, get down on her knees, and trick the neighbors into thinking she was a child wanting candy; that in World War II my daddy volunteered for the Navy because in the Army you had to sleep on the ground, but after the war ended he served as a Boy Scout leader for 60 years and spent more than 1,000 nights sleeping on the ground in a tent; that long after I was born my birth mother had late-night conversations with her sister about the baby she had to give away when she was 18, who by then she knew would be her only child; that my daughter declared before her third birthday that she needed to lose a little weight and the following year was chosen to be the barker in her preschool circus; and that exactly 20 years later my granddaughter played the same role in the same circus. Not long afterwards, she asked me, “Papa, am I taller than a penguin?” At the time she was taller than some but shorter than others, but now she's taller than all of them, even the Emperor, the tallest penguin on Earth.
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Brooks Eason has practiced law in Jackson for more than 35 years but has resolved to trade in writing briefs for writing books.  He lives with his wife Carrie and their two elderly rescue dogs, Buster and Maddie, and an adopted stray cat named Count Rostov for the central character in A Gentleman in Moscow, the novel by Amor Towles.  In their spare time, the Easons host house concerts, grow tomatoes, and dance in the kitchen.  Eason, who has three children and four grandchildren, is also the author of Travels with Bobby - Hiking in the Mountains of the American West about hiking trips with his best friend. Visit Brooks online at www.brookseason.com  https://www.facebook.com/brooks.eason

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Kindness, Mr. Rodgers and a Virtual Candy Cane



By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine


Are you “jingle belling,” yet? Do you feel the spirit of the holidays, yet? Have you had the taste of a delightful cup of peppermint mocha, yet? How about a candy cane, which evokes the scent and taste of the season? Come on, change that frown of the Grinch into the season of giving, kindness and smiles.

I travel with a basket of fresh (not the ones from last Christmas) candy canes in my car and pass them out to those I come in contact with throughout my day. It makes me feel good to give a candy cane to those who I work with, bring groceries to the car, drive-up Target orders, dry cleaners, etc. The candy cane recipients leave with a smile and a shout of “Happy Holidays.” A win-win for sure and it feels good in your soul.

The many lessons of kindness learned from Mr. Rodgers are numerous. What am I talking about? Humble Fred Rodgers impacted a change on the youth of America and the world through his “little” underfunded PBS children’s show, “Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood.” Fast forward to December, 2019. The release of the new Tom Hanks movie, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” highlights the positive influence Mr. Rogers had on people, both young and small, even now. According to a CNN article Tom Hanks just learned through a DNA kit, he was actually related to the character he portrays in the movie, Mr. Rogers. “Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks are sixth cousins.” How cool is that to know as you watch the movie.

One of my favorite Mr. Rodgers quotes is, “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” Kindness to your fellow writers definitely will fuel your own personal writing success.

In my job with Southern Writers Magazine, I’m on the email list of a number of publishing houses. One of those is Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Anyone can sign up to receive their offers which include some free book downloads. Here is where you can sign up to get your own email from LPC. In their email yesterday it started by saying “Help our authors BE the Light! Forward this email to one friend and post your reviews on Amazon & Goodreads.” A simple request. Anyone has the power to show kindness to others. Merely, forwarding one email to one person, sharing an authors information and leaving positive reviews, will help fuel your own success especially if you sign your name and list your book title after your name. In doing so, this is your way to give a virtual candy cane to a fellow author.

Enjoy the Holidays by passing out many virtual candy canes and real ones, too. Kindness makes you feel great!


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

PACE Yourself



By Kim Williams


I have a doo-dad sitting on my writing desk that states, “Take Time to Pray.”  I am task-oriented and tend to not slow down when I work. Both plotters and pansters develop a pace when writing. 

Although the nature of writing can be fast-paced or slow-paced, I’ve come to learn that either way, I need to pause and reflect as I write.

My pastor recently shared one his daily praying practices of using the acronym PACE. I considered the practice from a writing standpoint, and was moved by seeing my writing from this perspective. I determined how I can PACE my writing with the acronym: Praise. Accept. Commit. Embrace. 

PRAISE
·         I praise God for a story or a word of truth placed in my heart that urges me to share it with others.
·         I praise God that He’s given me life that is filled with stories and truths of their own. Some are messy. Some are immaculate.
·         I praise God for the story of Jesus, my salvation, that is woven through every book in His Word.
·         I praise Him for advanced tools and the means for doing this craft.
·         I praise Him for the capacity to turn thoughts into words and paragraphs.
ACCEPT
·         I accept all the hard, often lonely, work that comes with this gift and calling.
·         I accept that many authors write many books and that my place in this writer’s world may not look like someone else’s place.
·         I accept that I have much to learn.
·         I accept the avenue laid out for me to share my work with others.
·         I accept that some writers will become famous and many will not.
·         I accept that it takes a team of people to produce a final work.
·         I accept that any praise is spread among that team, and foremost to God.
COMMIT
·         I commit my time and my efforts to Him.
·         I commit my insecurities and intimidations to Him.
·         I commit my pride to Him.
·         I commit the critiques of peers and readers to Him.
·         I commit my knowledge to Him.
·         I commit to not compare unless I choose to learn from the comparison.
EMBRACE
·         I embrace whatever God chooses to do with this work.
·         I embrace my need to always be learning my craft.
·         I embrace that I am part of a writing community.
·         I embrace the rejections and the acceptances that come my way.
·         I embrace the support around me.
·         I embrace the satisfaction of having put words onto paper.
·         I embrace my writer’s voice.

I encourage you to develop your own PACE, and as your writing freely flows or temporarily stalls, may your PACE not falter.
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A former school teacher, Kim Williams has spent the past twenty-five-plus years on staff at her local church, First Baptist Woodstock, overseeing ministry to young children. She had a desire to write for a long time. One day she met her story head on and began writing. The result is her Letters to Layton Christian Romance Series. The series is based on discovered love letters from her great grandfather. He pleads for forgiveness and restoration with his wife and child. Their true romance and tragedy remain sealed in their generation, leaving room for a fictional account. Kim resides in the Atlanta metro area with her family. Her book titles include: Among the Crepe Myrtles Book One, When the Butterflies Dance Book Two and While the Rain Whispered Book Three (set to released October 2019) Social Media Links are Website: https://kimwilliamsbook.wordpress.com  



Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Memories of the Past



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


For some writers, writing during the holidays is difficult. The memories during this time of year can be hard and sad. Too many pieces of baggage from their past prevent them from sitting down at the computer and creating that awesome book.

However, maybe writing during this time is exactly what the writer needs to do. Letting those baggage items fall out onto a blank page, may be the greatest book they have written to date.

Everybody has “stuff” in their past. Sometimes the best way to sort through it so you can put it in the proper place is to write about it. When you do you will find it is like putting it to bed.

This will bring up memories you would probably rather forget; it also lets you view it from different angles. You are older, a lot of time has passed. It is like looking into a window at someone else. Through the memories in our head we have many stories we can tell. The beauty is we can make it fiction and create an ending we like.

Try it. Begin letting your memories surface and create your greatest book yet.


Monday, December 2, 2019

Relational Research



By Jody Bailey Day


The internet makes it so easy to find out anything about anything. That was the case as I researched such issues as Child Protective Services, Cancer, and Suicide for my book called Joy Express. I had all the details I needed to craft the story, but it just felt hollow.

I called my friend Michele Huckaby, a licensed professional counselor, and picked her brain. The same information relayed by a warm, caring person gave me the perspective I needed to put warmth and compassion to the story.

My current work–in-progress is a historical fiction rendering of a real life woman. Annie Riggs was a pioneer matriarch of my West Texas home town. There are plenty of history books and newspaper articles to flesh out the details, but many of her family are still living. Talking to them was an eye-opener.  I was not admonished to change anything, but to hear “that is conjecture and hearsay” about certain events, and to see the concern in their eyes sent me back to the drawing board. I had to decide whether relating those events, even in a fictional way, was important enough to cause discomfort to family members. I have to live in this town, after all. The book is not a biography, and since my goal is to highlight her faith and pioneer spirit, I decided certain things did not need to be related. It’s all in the history books, anyway.

These experiences have led me to seek out more “human” research than just internet, books, and newspapers.  Research with real live people gives one a sense that’s there’s more at stake, more behind the story than just jots and tittles.
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Jody Bailey Day is an author who looks at life through love-colored glasses. Her passion is inspiring people to live a life that embraces who they are in Jesus Christ. She writes poems, articles, devotionals, and novels from West Texas, where she is President of the Fort Stockton area Critique CafĂ©. She is a member of ACFW and Faithwriters.com. Her poems and articles have appeared in Mature Living, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Christiandevotions.us, EveryDayPoets.com, and Splickety Magazine. She has published the Washout Express Series with Pelican Ventures and has published a devotional, H.E.A.V.E.N, a Handle for Storms of Life, and Yellow Bottom Bob, a children’s Autumn story and activity book. She’s a musician, music teacher, and loves black-and-white movies and TV.