Friday, April 10, 2020

How Effective are Book signings, shows, and workshops ? (Part 1)

Jan McCanless

Author of Beryl's Cove Mysteries

Every time I meet another aspiring author, I am asked about book signings, book shows, and workshops offered by colleges, and other venues.

It has been my experience that book signings are probably the best venue an author can have for getting 'out there' meeting the readers and fans, and making yourself known. They are vital, and at one, you might have one person show up and buy a book, at another, they may be lined up to meet you. The numbers don't really mean that much, what counts is the fact you are at the bookstore, meeting and greeting, not just the readers, but, the employees as well.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Know Thyself, Follow Your Dream

Tricia Pimental      @a_movable
Award-Winning Author

Have you ever been told something about yourself and been completely stunned? For example, you arrive at work confident you’re a trendsetting fashionista. Later, a stylish colleague gently asks why you basically wear the same outfit—essentially a uniform—every day. That night you retreat to your wardrobe to discover it appears as scintillating as last year’s Tweets.

Something similar happened to me in 2016. My husband and I had been living in Portugal for four years, and we were chatting with an expat at a party. “I detest travel writing,” he said, as he referenced my blog. Flattered that he’d checked me out but taken off guard, I insisted that I posted on a variety of topics. He shrugged and changed the subject, leaving me bewildered.

The Versatile Apostrophe (Part 1)

Judith P. Nembhard

Apostrophe: noun. A punctuation mark that shows possession or marks the omission of one or more letters (contraction); a figure of speech

I have heard academics—mainly theology scholars strutting their Greek—complain about the limitations of English when they want to emphasize the special meaning of a word so that their audience will understand better what they are trying to say. They bemoan the fact that English has only one word for love, whereas the Greek has three or four. I take offence at any attempt to detract from the power of the English language. With the word apostrophe, I am pleased to say that English has two totally different meanings for the one word. I hope this is good enough to mollify those scholars.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word apostrophe comes from the Greek, and means “a turning away.” An apostrophe, then, refers to letters that have been turned away or left out in order to shorten a word or to make it more easily pronounceable. So it indicates omissions and contractions. It is an essential punctuation mark that writers should be able to use skillfully. In this age of self-publishing, it behooves us writers to be strong on our proofreading skills, which include a knowledge of how to use the apostrophe accurately. I recently listened to a book reviewer on NPR heap praise on a book that he considered powerful in its impact. Its one drawback, he said, was the writer’s mechanical errors. The reviewer mentioned something as simple as making one of the characters in the book say “I have” when “I’ve” would have been more effective in the context. The apostrophe, then, can be seen as useful for improving style.

The apostrophe as a mark of punctuation has a variety of uses. In her humorous book on punctuation, Eats Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss remarks, “There is a rumour that in parts of the Civil Service [in Britain] workers have been pragmatically instructed to omit apostrophes because no one knows how to use them anymore.” She asks, “How dare anyone make this decision on behalf of the apostrophe?” Truss says that a person who has always wanted to know about where to place the apostrophe will never learn “because it’s so extremely easy to find out.” And it is easy to find out from any English handbook so that a lesson in usage is not needed here. A few reminders, however, are worth noting. The apostrophe should not be used to make plurals of regular English nouns. For example: “The two writers (not writer’s) had their novels reviewed favorably.” Also, always place the apostrophe after the plural of a word when it already has an “s” at the end. For example: “Writers’ works must not be tampered with.”

Concerning making the plural of a year, do we write the “1970’s” or the “1970s”? Either one is correct. Words such as who’s and it’s are tricky for some people. Perhaps, like me, you get out your red pen when you read sentences such as “Mr. Pemberton didn’t know who’s play he was reviewing.” The sentence confuses “whose,” the relative pronoun, with the contraction for “who is.” With the apostrophe, it’s always means “it is”; without the apostrophe, “its” is a pronoun. If two characters own the same thing, the apostrophe goes to the second person mentioned; for, example, “Rogers and Hart’s prize-winning play was performed on Broadway.” If the item is owned separately, it is written “Roger’s and Hart’s prize-winning plays were performed on Broadway. “  . . . Part 2 on April 23.

Judith Nembhard was born in Jamaica and grew up amid the island’s lush scenery, which influenced her writing. Her early fascination with language led her to complete three degrees in English, including a doctorate from the University of Maryland College Park. Her articles have appeared in professional journals, religious and secular magazines, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. She writes Christian fiction. She has earned writing awards in the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, Deep River Books Contest, and Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. She is featured in the Southern Writers Magazine Galaxy of Stars.

Her book, Dark Days On The Fairest Island was a finalist in the Southern Christian Writers Conference (SCWC) Notable Book Award in its category.

Judith is a woman of faith and has shared her spiritual vision with audiences at commencement and Women’s Day celebrations and women’s retreats. She has given workshops on writing and improving public speaking skills.

Judith has two adult sons. She has teaching and writing as her greatest loves and reading as her most passionate hobby. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

What Thomas Payne Said.

Susan Reichert   @SouthrnWritrMag

                                 Photo by QuotesGram

Thomas Payne said, “These are the times that try men's souls.” His statement fits the time we are in right now.

For the first time many of us are “sequestered in our homes” and don’t know how long that will be. Let us use this time wisely to love our families and friends reaching out and letting them know we miss them.

Maybe it is a time to get to know our families again; clean out closets (not my favorite thing) and do things around the house we don’t get to do because we work. Try those hobbies we've put off until we retire. Write that story that is playing in our heads.

We miss our family and friends. I am most thankful however that we can by electronic devices, talk and see each other by Zoom and other programs. Check in bPayy phone and emails.

My prayer is that God will be with us all and bring us through this a stronger people, more grateful for our families and friends and for what we have.

Abraham Lincoln said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”

The American people have pulled together during national crisis throughout our history. This is no different.

May God bless all of you, stay well and be in health.

Susan Reichert is the Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazne.

Her company promotes authors and their books and have been doing this for nine years. Promotions are on the Gallery of Stars and Suite T, seasonal catalogs and special editions.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

What is the Normal Size of a Poem?

Sara Robinson

What is the “normal” size of a poem? Is there a “calibration standard” for poetry length? We don’t use calipers or carpenter squares to measure length on a page. That is too left-brain for us creative types. But we do study and investigate words to ponder over stresses, syllables, and metrical formats, especially if we are writing formally (i.e. sonnets). Most of us contemporary poets embrace free verse style, so we think about compression and compaction when we compose. We edit a lot, revise a bunch, and throw away words that we decide will be unnecessary or even lazy.

Getting the words down, then getting them good is our faithful mantra. This also means words play a major role in length. The novelist Greg Iles says he writes “in a granular way,” meaning his descriptions often unfold minute-by-minute. That’s why most of his novels are long and epic. I love his writing.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Still Waiting to Buy the Yacht

By Dan Walsh

Founding Father John Adams famously once said, “Facts are stubborn things.” Over the decades of my life, this quote has guided me at least a hundred times (maybe a thousand) and kept me from living in a constant state of desires-created/desires-destroyed. A Scripture verse that serves the same role is: “Hope deferred makes the heartsick” (Prov. 13:12). Modern translation? When you want something badly and don’t get it, you get depressed.

The bigger the hope that gets crushed, the deeper the “heartsickness” that follows.

I’ve learned that my heart can crave or want something to happen fairly easily. But the overwhelming majority of these desires don’t pan out in real life. Why? Because facts are stubborn things. They could care less about the things I desire. So, I decided a long time ago to keep my heart/desires in check until I’ve uncovered the facts in a situation. And even if the facts line up, it’s no guarantee God will say yes.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, a lot I think.

Since last month’s column, I’ve read an Author’s Guild blog from January that laid out the results of an extensive survey done with over 5,000 published writers. It concluded that the average annual income for authors is around $6,080/year. And that includes everything. From book income alone, the average drops to $3,100/year. Which happens to be LESS THAN HALF of what it was 10 years ago. So, the trend is moving the wrong way. (Click Here to read it).

These are not encouraging stats. Even among authors who claimed to be “writing fulltime” the median annual income was only $20,300 (well below the Federal Poverty line for a family of 3).

These are the facts. And they are stubborn things. And these stubborn facts have been true for quite a long time. But I don’t think these facts are widely known or understood. SO many of the authors I’ve met these past 10 years (since my first book came out) cling to a strong desire to one day quit their day job and “write fulltime.”

According to these stubborn facts, my writer friends should let that desire go…completely. If they would, they would be so much happier. Treat it like that old hippie saying: “If you love something, let it go. If it was meant to be, it will come back to you.”

When my first novel came out in 2009, I don’t how many times people asked me: “So, when are you going to buy that yacht?” My answer was: “I actually only made enough to remodel our kitchen…and that’s with us doing most of the work.” Where do people get this notion that being a published author means you’ve hit the big time and money will start rolling in?

You know the answer. They get it from Hollywood (and the Hallmark channel). For some ridiculous reason, whenever authors are portrayed in TV or film—even if they just have 1 or 2 books published—they get filthy rich (like the TV character Castle). They’ve got the yacht, the beautiful lakeside cabin to write in, drive the best cars. And when they do a book signing, the line of interested readers goes out the door.

Based on the facts I’ve seen, that image only represents about 1% of published authors. And only about 5% earn enough to write full-time (and remember, the median income for these authors is below the Federal poverty line).

So, stop beating yourself up for your lack of success. Stop craving something that, most likely, will never happen. Write for the love of writing. Write for the joy of storytelling. If your books make even $3,000 a year, throw a party. Invite your friends. Of course, if you do, some of them will inevitably ask, “So, when are you going to buy that yacht?”

I have 21 novels out now. I’ve been fortunate enough to write full-time and actually make a semi-decent living.

I am however, still waiting on that yacht.
Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 21 novels (all available on Amazon), including The Unfinished Gift, Rescuing Finley, When Night Comes and The Reunion (now being made into a feature film). Over 750,000 of his books are in print or downloaded. He's won both the Carol and Selah Awards multiple times, 4 of his novels have been finalists for RT Reviews Inspirational Novel of the Year. Reviewers often remark about Dan's rich, character-driven storylines and page-turning suspense (even with his more inspirational books). He's been writing full-time since 2010. He and his wife Cindi have been married 42 years, have 2 grown children and 4 grandchildren. They live in the Daytona Beach area, where Dan grew up. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter, read his blog, or preview all his books by visiting his website at Dan’s books: If These Walls Could Talk - DAN'S NEWEST NOVEL, When Night Comes, Remembering Dresden, Unintended Consequences,  Perilous Treasure,  Rescuing Finley, Finding Riley Saving Parker and  The Deepest Waters (2nd Ed)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Novel Way to Promote Your Writing (Part 2)

Judith Nembhard 
A passionate fiction writer.


           Consider also as a possible venue a community senior center. Here the director is tasked with providing varied and interesting activities to keep the clients engaged, and you have just what they need.  Admittedly, there is usually a routine that the center follows, but something different and valuable to the clients, as a workshop on an aspect of the language would certainly be, is an attractive offer, so they would welcome your presentation.
            College English departments also are a fertile resource for presenting a workshop on writing. Most colleges have a campus-wide activity period each semester. A lot of activities go on during this time, organized by clubs and other groups. At such a time, an English professor may invite a guest to his or her class. As an instructor, I invited a writer to my class, and it proved extremely satisfying for both the students and me. Later I, too, was invited to address a group of English majors during one of their activity periods. This is a time when you can give useful highlights on the writing life to young people who may be interested in becoming writers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Creating Memorable Secondary Characters

By Natalie Walters, author of Silent Shadows

If there’s one thing that almost always draws me into a story it’s the characters. I’m not just talking about the hero and heroine. I’m talking about the supporting cast, the secondary characters, the snarky barista that has one or two lines of dialogue as the hero gets his morning cup of joe.

These characters are just as important as the main characters and often times I’ll find that these “minor” players make an unexpected impact on myself and readers that I soon begin imagining a future story just for them.

Here’s how I create a memorable supporting cast:

1. Study the relationships in your own life. Have a friend that makes you laugh every time you’re with them? A kind neighbor with an annoying habit? A co-worker who secretly thinks your boss is an alien? Look at what makes these relationships stick out to you and incorporate bits and pieces of them into your characters.

2. Flavor your characters with quirks, nuances, mannerisms, and well, character. When you begin writing and a secondary character appears give them something that makes them standout. It doesn’t have to be big, it could be the portrait of a cat tattooed on the back of a soldier’s leg—this is a true story! I couldn’t help noticing the tattoo and thinking, oh, this guy—this tattoo—it means something and now I can’t forget it. And now, you probably can’t either but that’s the point!

3. Do a little bit of background story on your supporting cast. It doesn’t have to be in depth but give them a little history. I created a group of fishermen who frequented a café in my Harbored Secrets Series and there’s only one who really stands out—Ducky. Nicknamed because of his bad luck hitting ducks when he’s out fishing on his boat. That little bit of background helped plant him firmly in my mind and hopefully in the mind of my readers.

A developed supporting cast will not only add a level of depth to your story, it will also make the story come alive in the mind of your readers—we all have that one person in our lives that makes us cringe when they come around the corner. Use them! Find a secondary character in your story that will cause the same reaction for your heroine and then trap them in an elevator. I promise you, your readers will not forget those pages or that character…and will probably begin taking the stairs!
Natalie Walters is the author of Living Lies and Deadly Deceit. A military wife of twenty-two years, she currently resides in Hawaii with her soldier husband and their three kids. She writes full-time and has been published in Proverbs 31 magazine and has blogged for Guideposts online. In addition to balancing life as a military spouse, mom, and writer, she loves connecting on social media, sharing her love of books, cooking, and traveling. Natalie comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past. Learn more at

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Use Each Day~Make It Count

Susan Reichert    @SouthrnWritrMag

Editor-in-Chief Southern Writers

With everyone having to stay in their homes, our attitudes are the things most of us are having to monitor.

As I told my children (who are grown) we can decide each day to use our day and make it count or we can complain and gripe. Staying in a good frame of mind is important––physically, mentally, emotionally and spirtually, for all of us.

I pray God, through His grace, will bring all of us through this better than we were when it started.

For writers we have the opportunity while this is going on to write a new story, or finish one we
have been working on.

There are many things as a writer we can do during the days we are home. I am hoping I will be able to finish some projects I have put off for a long time. It gives me a sense of accomplishment each time I get one completed.

And I get to spend more time with my family which I am grateful for thanks to Zoom. Since we don't live close we use this to visit. It is very comforting.

So many things we take for granite––like being able to run up to the grocery store and grab a four pack of toilet paper, paper towels, milk and bread. Now we only go once a week, and seeing the shelves bare is mind boggling.

During this time let us pray for one another, keep good thoughts, and make each day count in our own way.

God Bless!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Start with a Bang

By Irene Hannon, Author of Starfish Pier

I was recently asked by a fellow author for one piece of advice she could share in a writing workshop she was leading.

After fifty-seven novels and a multitude of years in the publishing game, I’ve learned a lot—so it took a bit of thinking to cull through all the tips stored in my brain and pick out just one nugget of advice. Here it is.

Start your story in the right place.

Where, you may ask, is that? Simple. It’s the moment when everything changes for one of your main characters. When the world they know has shifted, and nothing will ever be the same again.

No matter the genre, our job as writers is to convey that life-altering moment in a high-impact opening. One that grabs readers and lets them know something big is at stake. That leaves them with questions—and eager to read on to find answers.

So how does this work in practical terms?

Friday, March 27, 2020

A Novel Way to Promote Your Writing (Part 1)

Judith Nembhard   

A Passionate Fiction Writer    

Here’s a piece of writing advice: promote your book, but promote it slant (with apologies to Emily Dickinson), and the way to achieve this slanted book promotion is by doing a workshop. In our quest for tips on how to promote our books, we writers often pore over the pages of Writer’s Digest and other magazines on writing, read books such as Guerrilla Marketing for Writers, and attend writing conferences. From all of these sources, we often get information that is of interest, some of it actually useful. One promotional avenue that you may not have read about, however, is a workshop. You attend workshops to learn new techniques and to brush up on old ones. Well, how about giving a workshop yourself?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Healthier Mindset for Social Media (Part 2)

Edie Melson    @EdieMelson

Social Media Director for Southern Writers Suite T

My worth is not determined by my numbers.

For me, the blog posts that mean the most are rarely the ones that generate the highest numbers. The ones that mean the most are those that help someone, that connect the dots for an individual who’s hurting or help someone who’s frustrated finally see the light. It’s when I pen those words that I feel true satisfaction in my calling.

So how do I avoid the numbers race? I’ve come up with a few things to keep me on track.

  • I quit talking about myself on social media—completely. Instead I work hard to help someone else succeed or reach a new level. This takes my focus off me.
  • I volunteer. I offer to write an article or blog post for someone who doesn’t have the same size audience as me.
  • I issue an invitation. I ask someone who doesn’t have as much experience and/or exposure to contribute to my blog. 
  • I watch the clock. I limit my time on social media to a strict thirty minutes a day. With that, I don’t have time to obsess over my numbers.
  • I reveal something new about myself. I know this seems like the opposite of the first bullet, but it's not. I'm talking about being vulnerable, not saying come look at me. I've discovered that I make those important heart-to-heart connections when I open up and I'm vulnerable. When I revert to slick slogans and polished posts, I'm just hiding.

Even when I follow my own advice, there are times when the people I’ve invested in move on. They may stop following me on social media and/or unsubscribe from my blog. How do I deal with the disappointment that inevitably follows?

  • I remember it’s not about me. My first thought is always to wonder what I’ve done wrong. Truthfully, I can only think of a few instances when it’s really been something I did. On the few times when I’ve contacted someone to ask why they’ve moved on, I’ve learned that their focus has changed.
  • I remind myself that we all have limited time. Perhaps the person leaving is reprioritizing, and for that I’m glad. We’re all trying to do too much. I applaud anyone taking steps to get control of life.
  • Finally, I take time to pray for the person who left. I ask God to bless them and to let me know if there’s anything I need to readjust.

Social media is an important part of our toolbox as twenty-first century wordsmiths, but it’s not the focus of what we do. It’s so easy to get caught up in the race to the highest numbers and forget why we’re doing it. This media driven world we live in ebbs and flows. One second we’re on top, the next at the bottom of the pile. When we measure our worth through charts and graphs generated by numbers, we’re certain to fail. But when we look at the lives that are impacted by our words, success is guaranteed.


A Healthier Mindset for Social Media @EdieMelson @southernwritersmag

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, including the bestseller Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers.

She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Social Media Director of Southern Writers Magazine and board Member of the Advanced Writers and Speaker Association.

Visit Edie on and through social media.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Story behind the Story of In Black and White (Part 2)

MaryAnn Diorio     @DrMaryAnnDiorio

To refresh your memory from Part 1 of MaryAnn Diorio's post she said, "His words struck my soul like a nuclear bomb. For the first time in my life, I was speechless. Never had I experienced prejudice on a personal level. And it stung!"

Part 2

Back then, legal options were few for rebuttal. So, I took my degrees and ended up accepting a job stuffing envelope at a local library.

And I forgave the superintendent.

I began to have a new appreciation for African-Americans and for the discrimination they had suffered. Unbeknown to me, God was preparing me to write In Black and White many years later.

Time passed. I had children, and those children grew up. Then, my older daughter announced that she and her husband were adopting a baby. A black baby! My heart leapt with joy!  Shortly thereafter, my daughter placed a beautiful African-American baby in my arms, and my heart was stolen forever!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Starting a New Series (Part 2)

Stephanie Payne Hurt    @StephanieHurt4

Romance Author

Ok, let’s get to the good part, the books themselves.

As I said, there are four books. They are The Knight of Her Heart, The Cowboy of Her Dreams, The Pirate of Her Desires, and Marina’s Story. Now, the story is based around a current day family with an intriguing ancestor that was a good witch. Her name was Marina and she lived in Boston just after the witch trials. Marina believed in true love and knew there would be three sisters coming in the late 1900’s. She left three journals behind for them to find. Each journal had a spell cast over them that would send them back to where their true love was. Seems simple, right? Well, going back in time isn’t as easy as it sounds. And writing about it, well, that presents its own problems. Each one of the sisters has a special ability that they have never discovered until they go back in time. And the tricky part is keeping up with which sister went back to which hero. Also, I must keep up with all the names that are tied to the characters. In comes the side notes on the outline.
The books in order and release dates:

                The Knight of Her Heart – Released already.

                The Cowboy of Her Dreams – to be released in late February 2020

                The Pirate of Her Desires – to be released in late June 2020

                Marina’s Story – to be released in late September 2020

I suggest reading them in order, that way you find out Marina’s story at the end. Her story will tie it all together and hopefully leave your heart beating a little faster as you look at a journal for yourself.

Let’s start from the beginning story, The Knight of Her Heart. In this one, I had to get acquainted with life in the early 1200’s. The intricacies of how women were treated and where their place was made this story interesting since the heroine is from current day and her view is different from the ladies of that period. This causes some issues between her and the hero. Not to mention how the other people in the story perceive her. It’s not just a step back in time, it’s a huge leap from 2019 to 1200.

On to book 2, The Cowboy of Her Dreams. Anyone who has read any of my books knows that I have a fascination with cowboys. Of course, I had to have one in the series. This one is set in the early to mid-1800’s. It’s a time period that I’ve researched for several of my books, but this one has an exciting twist that will leave you guessing all the way to the end. I did have a little bit of a struggle as to how the heroine would start her life in the old west. But once you read this book, you’ll get a giggle out of it, I assure you.

Book 3, The Pirate of Her Desires is quite a story. The heroine is taken by surprise by the fact that her dream man is a pirate. She’s always loved reading about pirates, but when she’s thrown into the life of a pirate, things becoming startlingly clear that she’s in way over her head, but maybe the hero can help with that. This book is based in the 1700’s when piracy is invading the seas. There’s a lot of adventure and excitement in this book. Sword fights and high sea drama fill the pages as the heroine struggles to find her place in this time. Can she tame the pirate captain?

So, you’re probably wondering why there is a 4th book if the first three take care of my fictional heroes. Well, the last book is about Marina herself. She’s the one that started the whole process and her story needs to be told. She is a kind soul with a magical power that transcends time, quite literally. And her search for the love of her life takes her on many adventures as she works on getting the process just right. Not to mention the tensions of her own time period. And considering she’s a witch in a time when witches aren’t exactly welcomed, she must be careful how she comes back and where.

Of course, the journals are special and the abilities that each sister has is unique to the individual. Each story will pull you into the time period that they go back to and give you a look at life during that time. I tried to keep things as close to real as possible, but of course, this is a work of fiction. I had to give you something fantastic to give it that punch. The characters I’ve created for this series have their own set of problems and quirks that make them different. That sets each book apart. My goal is to send the reader to another place and time, if only for a moment. Maybe you’ll grab an old journal and write in it. You never know, Marina could’ve touched it with her special brand of romance…

Stephanie picked up her first romance novel in her early teens and fell in love. She began to pen stories in notebooks in her teens and throughout her twenties. It was in 2012 when she decided to publish her work and let the world in on her version of romance. Now she has 50+ books published and many more in the works.

A busy woman, she's a accountant, children's minister, wife and mother. Her life may be busy, but when she sits down at her laptop the world slips away and she goes into another place. Sometimes it's a ranch full of horses, or back to the Civil War saving a heroine find her love, but as always, she'll find romance even in the most remote places.

All of her books are clean, wholesome romances, some even dubbed as Christian romances. Her books range from western, historical, time travel, Christian, and she might even dabble in a little paranormal from time to time.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Change the World With Your Writing~Taking Characters to Greater Depths (Part 2)

p. m. terrell     @pmterrell

Award-winning "Twist and Turn" author

In Part 1, we explored external factors that plunge the main character into a journey of transformation. In Part 2, we explore the internal force that can accomplish the transformation.

An internal force is something that the character suffers due to their own action or inaction, plunging them into a personal journey.

Inaction occurs when the character should have taken steps to avoid a potentially cataclysmic event, but their efforts either fell short or were nothing at all. An example is when the character hears that tiny voice urging them not to take that deserted road, but they ignore it and do so anyway. Of course, the road leads to danger, and they must discover an inner part of themselves to overcome the obstacles in their path, escape the danger, and arrive on the other side.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Feet Planted Firmly in Mid-Air

Tricia Pimental     @a_movable
Award-Winning Author

“Has your husband read this?”

I had sent Carol, the leader of my former writers’ group in Ocala, Florida, a draft of my latest book for comment. Now living in Portugal, I was still in touch with her by email.

“Sure,” I wrote back confidently. “In fact, he’s formatting it.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Story behind the Story of In Black and White (Part 1)

MaryAnn Diorio    @DrMaryAnnDiorio

A few months ago, I published my fourth and latest novel, titled In Black and White. It is an interracial love story between a white woman and a black man, set in 1950s America and Ghana, a period of intense racial prejudice in both countries.

Interestingly, I got the idea for this story way back in the early 90s. Although I started writing the novel at that time, I didn't get very far with it because the timing wasn't right. Somehow, I knew, on a gut level, that this story would have to wait to be written. It was a case of my not being ready psychologically, professionally, and, most of all, spiritually to write this story. It was also a case of God's timing. God had a work to do in me before this story could be born. It was neither my time, nor His.

I grew up in the 1950s, the time period during which In Black and White takes place. I lived about 30 miles from Levittown, Pennsylvania, an all-white suburban community that made national headlines because of racial discrimination against a black family that had moved into the community. (An insightful, heart-wrenching documentary titled "Crisis in Levittown" was made of this incident. For those of you who are interested in viewing it, here is the link to the film:

Prejudice was in the air back then. It was common to hear unkind talk about "colored people" who moved into neighborhoods and caused property values to plummet and crime to soar. Strangely—and thankfully--those comments did not penetrate my soul, as my best childhood friend was a black girl who lived on my street.

Growing up with a close black friend taught me much about people and about life. I learned that my friend and I were very much alike. We both experienced the emotions of life in much the same way. We both worried about tests at school. We both feared the gnarly old lady who lived in the rickety house on our street. We both had great fun visiting the ice cream shop on the corner at the top of the hill. Except for our skin color, we were two normal kids trying to understand the confusing messages about "white' and "colored" that came from some grownups in the world around us.

The years transpired. I went to college, earned my bachelor's degree, and then went on to earn a graduate degree. I also married a wonderful man to whom I have been married for 50 blessed years.

Prejudice reared its ugly head again when I applied for a teaching job in a prominent school district in a major mid-western city. When I appeared for my interview with the superintendent of the school district, he took one look at me and at my name (I am an olive-skinned Italian) and gruffly said, "Go back to your own people!" No consideration of my educational credentials, my teaching experience. Nothing.

His words struck my soul like a nuclear bomb. For the first time in my life, I was speechless. Never had I experienced prejudice on a personal level. And it stung! (Read Part 2 - March 25)

I never planned to be a writer. When I was a teenager, the thought of studying journalism crossed my mind but left quickly when I walked into my first French class. The language mesmerized me, hooked me, and consumed the next 15 years of my life as I went on to earn the PhD in French. I was all set for a career as a university professor.

But God had other plans. Shortly after I celebrated my 30th birthday, I began having this unusual desire to write. It seemed to come from nowhere. No matter how hard I try, I could not shake it. Finally, I went to the Lord and asked, “Is this desire from You? If it is, increase it. But if it isn’t, take it away because it’s becoming an obsession.”
You’ve probably guessed the answer by now. The desire increased. Even then, however, I had to be sure. So I asked God to give me a sign that He was calling me to write for Him.
He did.Through a fascinating series of events–which I won’t go into here (This is the short version, remember? :)), I ended up getting a poem of mine published in The Saturday Evening Post. Now, if you know anything about the publishing industry, for an unknown like me getting published in The Saturday Evening Post is the next closest thing to winning the Olympics when you haven’t even trained!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Starting a New Series (Part 1)

Stephanie Payne Hurt @StephanieHurt4

Romance Author


The fun of starting a new series never gets old and when you start one like ‘The Journal’, the adventure is only just starting. With ‘The Journal’ series I get to explore all three of my fictional heroes, knights, cowboys, and pirates, oh my! And you guessed it, that means a lot of different time periods.

I will warn you beforehand, writing a series has its ups and downs. Although I love writing series, it can be hard keeping all the details straight. One of the greats joys of writing a series is watching your characters bloom and their stories unfolding. Every character has a story, and in a series, you can explore them. Not like a standalone that only gives the reader insight into one set of characters. The biggest downfall to writing a series is the details. If you don’t get all of them right, believe me, the reader will know, and they’ll tell you. But in this article, I’ll give you some advice that I hope will help you sort it all out. So, let’s get started!

Monday, March 16, 2020

How to Choose a Writing Conference (Part 2)

DiAnn Mills @diannmills

"Expect An Adventure"

To refresh our memory, on March 2, I listed a few considerations in choosing a conference and why attend a writing conference.  Also how these events can benefit a writer's career. Here we will continue finding ways to benefit our careers as a writer. 

Types of Conferences

1. Face-to-Face conferences can be large or small. This involves travel, lodging, meals, and time away from home. But the interaction and meeting professionals face-to-face can mean a potential contract. Writers find critique partners and forge new relationships with those who share the same desire for learning the craft and seeking publication. One-on-one critiques are valuable for relationships and learning. The length of a conference can be from two days to nearly a week.

Friday, March 13, 2020

A Healthier Mindset for Social Media (Part 1)

Edie Melson    @EdieMelson

Social Media Director for Southern Writers Suite T

As writers, we all know the importance of building an online following. We spend time crafting valuable blog posts with SEO rich headlines. We follow others on social media, working to connect. All the while keeping a sharp eye on those numbers that define success or failure. It’s easy to get caught up in those numbers.

But the truth is, they’re people—NOT numbers!

We even begin to judge the worth of what we have to say by those numbers. Let me remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing. Why you sweat over a keyboard, struggling to find the right word. Why you risk rejection by submitting those carefully crafted words to editors, agents and contest judges.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Change the World with Your Writing:Taking Characters to Greater Depths (Part 1)

p.m. terrell   @pmterrell

Award-winning "Twist and Turn" author

Heraclitus, the famed Greek philosopher, said that “change is the only constant in life.”

When envisioning readers, it’s important to understand that each one is undergoing change. Changes may be subtle, such as steadily growing older. Other changes may be dramatic, like a sudden personality change. Some can be seen with the naked eye, such as a spine that’s more stooped, while others are invisible because they are taking place internally.

A book that stands the test of time and becomes a classic is one in which the main character is completely transformed. This often occurs when an average individual encounters extraordinary circumstances. Those situations may be positive or negative on their surfaces, such as winning a lottery or losing a limb, respectively. However, what begins as a positive or negative often transforms the character in the opposite direction. It is that spiral that the accomplished writer should seek to portray, and the more detailed the circumstances, oddly, the more readers will identify with the character.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Looking Into Cozy Mystery Writing

Susan Reichert   @SouthrnWritrMag
Editor-in-Chief Southern Writers
Amanda Flower a bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author wrote on May 18, 2018An amateur sleuth, an unsuspecting victim, a quirky supporting cast, and trail of clues and red herrings are the main ingredients of a cozy mystery”. Check out this link to the article.

In July 22, 2014 in Writers Digest guest column in The Writer’s Dig  an article titled 4 Things You Should Know About Writing a Cozy Mystery Novel said, “Virtually all cozy mysteries published today are part of a series with recurring characters . . . Creating a series that’s anchored around a hobby or craft is a great way to break in: recent popular series include the Book Collector Mysteries by Victoria Abbott, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries by Victoria Hamilton and the Chili Cook-Off Mysteries by Kylie Logan. Click here.