Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine To Everyone

   We at Suite T are grateful for  

our awesome authors and readers. 

  You deserve roses and chocolates and 

everything wonderful on this special day.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ann Landers said, “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfections and makes allowances for human weaknesses.”

For those younger who may not know who Ann Landers was, it was a pen name that the Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist Ruth Crowley in 1943 created and was taken over by Eppie Lederer in 1955.

For 56 years her syndicated advice column was a regular feature in newspapers across North America.  Due to this popularity, ‘Ann Landers’, though fictional, became something of a national institution and cultural icon, at least that is the way it seemed. Everyone quoted her.

But her comment about friendship is so true. To have a best friend, one who knows you totally, one you share your ups and downs, good and bad– yet remains a true, loyal friend without judging you is indeed one of the most treasured relationships we can have.

Be sure and tell your best friend thank you and how much her friendship means to you.

Thursday, February 13, 2020


Kay DiBianca   @Kdibianca

Christian Mystery & Suspense Romance

Would you like to learn to fly? Great. Come on over to the airport. I have a nice little Cessna you can use. Keys are in the ignition. Just hop in and take ‘er up!

Would you do it? Of course not. Flying is a difficult endeavor even if you’re an accomplished pilot. Trying to fly without instruction would be a guaranteed crash-and-burn. In order to learn to fly, you need to hire a flight instructor, spend hours on the ground learning the basics of flight, and then more hours in the air practicing the skills of navigation and flight control.

But when it comes to writing, we often feel we can open the laptop and pour eighty thousand words of first-rate prose into the keyboard without any instruction. After all, we made A’s in English composition. And Aunt Edith always said she loved the stories we made up. How hard can it be?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Defense of Poetry

Sara Robinson  @facebook

Are we responsible for making poetry matter? How do we prove or defend the idea that poetry can make a difference? How will our lines influence society in general, our own lives, or even the conservation of nature? Do we use poetry to expose a morality of bad taste?

What about the use of hyperbole to create a defense of poetry? It could be noted that the use of extreme exaggeration, in a line, to make a point could risk overwhelming the entire poem. Or does the entire poem work as hyperbole?

How can we find a balance as part of our defense of poetry? Author Michael Robbins, in his new book, Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music (Simon & Schuster) stated, “No one has ever changed his life because of a poem or song…” Really?  Why do I find that hard to accept? On a personal note, a young woman heard me read my poem, “A Poem Written As Scars,” came up to me and said my poem changed her life. Later in the same book, [Robbins] also says, “There is no limit to what a poem can’t do…poetry makes all sorts of things happen.” These statements add to the confusion of how best to defend poetry.

Poets, since the beginning of the genre itself, have used its form to confront grief, describe horrors of war, starvation, and suicide. We have learned about the complexities of human lives through poetry. Witness Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell. The tragedies of mental illness, for example, are laid bear with these and others. Poetry provides insight and intimacy without which we might not understand how precious life is.

Poetry has emboldened people to reveal mental turmoil, has given us the heartland of America, and has enlightened us.  Poetry may not give any one person everything or every answer. Humans are too individual for universal acceptance. But what would we have, if we didn’t have poetry?

I often say at readings, “While poetry is mostly fiction, it always states great truths.”
For many poetry is more accessible than philosophy and in this access people gain their sense of worth, even as why they are even here. When we read poetry about the wonders of nature, the sentiments of love, and the sadness of death, we share the experience with the writer. We also gain the sense of hope. Perhaps that one sense is the most important gift of poetry. Hope.

Poetry can be experienced alone or in public. Tea-sippers and whisky enthusiasts can appreciate poetry. When we share poetry at gatherings connections are formed that add to the value of the human experience.  Poetry can help us fall asleep or it can keep us awake and energized into action. We may not “binge-read” poetry, but I can show you books I could not put down until I finished. That’s another defense: poetry books are typically less than 100 pages, easier to complete at a sitting and easier to pick up for repeat readings. It is easier to carry a poetry book in one’s purse than a novel!
Even single lines can be poetry. How marvelous is that? Think about this line:
“I fix upon what would give me pleasure in my average moments…” (Marianne Moore)
When we read poetry in our average and spare moments, we can gain pleasure.
Who doesn’t love Mary Oliver? Here is a three line stanza from her poem, Landscape, that I believe is so powerful: “Every morning I walk like this around / the pond, thinking: if the doors of my heart / ever close, I am as good as dead.” What an incredible validation of how our own personal openness can enrich our lives.

Louis Menand, in a review titled, “The Defense of Poetry,” for The New Yorker magazine, wrote, “When the going gets stressful, the stressed want poems.”

Amen to that.

 Author of Sometimes the Little Town (her fifth book and fourth poetry collection), is founder of Lonesome Mountain Pros(e) Writers’ Workshop, former UVA-OLLI instructor on Contemporary Poetry, and poetry columnist for Southern Writers’ Magazine. Published in journals and anthologies, she is a former Virginia Writers’ Club and Blue Ridge Writer’s Chapter officer.  Her most recent book, Needville has now been turned into a play.

Her website is

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

How to Enhance Your Writing Career

DiAnn Mills  @diannmills

"Expect An Adverture"

We writers are well over a month into our 2020 writing resolutions and goals. Some may have abandoned their dreams when their objectives seemed impossible. We writers can’t survive in the publishing world without a consistent approach to enhancing our writing careers.

How can we work effectively and efficiently in our writing, social media, marketing, promotion, branding, and all our other responsibilities? Does your “how-to” outweigh the “want-to”?

The following seven tips will not only enhance your career but are also simple to understand and follow.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Focus on the Message

By Susan Reichert, @swmeditor

      Editor-in-Chief Southern Writers

From Pinterest

Many of us focus on “we must be writing”. While that is true, we would do better to focus on the message we want to write. (The Story.)
We know our writing needs to be interesting, whether fiction or non-fiction. How do we accomplish this? By choosing the right words.
 Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
He also said, “Use the right word, not its second cousin.

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend

There’s a come-down phase after an author attends a book conference—an adjustment period that has something to do with going back to the real world through the logistics of travel. My last trip back from a book related weekend involved a mini-van ride from Jefferson, Texas to Shreveport, Louisiana; a flight to Dallas; another flight to Los Angeles; and a one-hour car ride to the loving arms of my husband and three German Shepherds. Under usual circumstances, somewhere along the journey back home, I manage to switch channels, but for days after the The Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in mid-January, the energy lingered like a good kind of hang-over.

Thursday, February 6, 2020


By Vicki H. Moss   @vickiMoss
Contributing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Continued from my January 9, 2020 post—I’ll start you out on the first paragraph again to refresh your memory:

If only I’d read Delia Owens’ book before publishing my book, Writing with Voice. But unfortunately Where the Crawdads Sing wasn’t published until 2018 so I didn’t have Delia’s wonderful examples of “writing with voice” to give you, so I’ll take this opportunity to show, not tell, on the Suite T blog.

“…Sunday Justice…(I love that name for a feline character), sleeping on the windowsill, flowed to the floor and walked to Kya.”—Dogs don’t flow. But by golly, cat’s do. Love this one! And Delia spent enough time in Africa, observing big cats, to describe them to flowing perfection.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Map It Out

By Sarah Sundin, @sarahsundin

Author of The Land Beneath Us

In the course of our careers, novelists practice many professions—psychologist, historian salesperson, and graphic designer to start with. But how about cartographer?

Have you ever had your heroine gaze out her kitchen window to the street in one chapter—and to her backyard in the next? Or have you ever had the locations of banks and groceries and post offices shift during your novels? I’ve found these things in my first drafts.

The solution—map it out.

On a small scale, draw floor plans of homes and other important buildings, including locations of things important to your story—telephones, kitchen knives, windows. For my novel The Land Beneath Us, I sketched a floor plan of the heroine’s home and of the library where she works.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Change is Good

By Susan Reichert     @swmeditor

Editor in Chief Southern Writers

We are making a few changes at Southern Writers, Suite T and the Gallery of Stars.
We ask for your patience.

Change is good even though many times we don’t like change. But change is always
happening in the world and for the most part it is always better.

Our March/April magazine will be a special edition we are sure everyone will love. The authors
showcased in this have a lot to share with writers. They are successful authors and love to help other

Our Suite T will have a new face lift soon and the authors who post will be telling us about their writing journey.

If you are like me, you want to know the paths the author used when writing their new book–– the ups and
downs and their successes and failures. All the things that give us the encouragement we need for our own writing.

We all know, regardless of how much we enjoy writing, it is work. And for some, it is hard work. There is so much we can share with each other in writing. Maya Angelou said, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

Authors are in a wonderful place to be able to help other writers. As we know it can be a lonely profession, but when you read an author telling about his/her journey, it helps us to feel a part of…to know there are other writers out there going through the same things we are.

We want Suite T to be a place you can talk about issues in writing, and expect answers from other writers sharing with you their experience and suggestions that might help you. Charles Dickens said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

Writers can do this for each other.

Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief Southern Writers Magazine for
nine years, which includes our venues such as Suite T, The Gallery of
Stars, Newsletter, Seasonal Promotional Catalogs for Authors.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Can Everyone Hear the Voices?

By Tom Threadgill, Author of Collision of Lies

Writers like to say our characters talk to us. We can hear them spouting the things they will or won’t do as we write our stories. Sometimes those voices ruin our plans. (Ever wake up in the middle of the night and have one of your characters say you’ve got the wrong killer? I have.) There’s a problem with that though. If the reader can’t hear the characters too, our stories are flat. Lifeless.

The people in your books must be real, with all the thoughts, emotions, and reactions of living human beings. Want people to bond with Lori, your protagonist? Forget how she looks. Focus on who Lori is. What about her is relatable to readers? Does she love the smell of coffee but hate the taste? Use it somewhere. Does she think her toes are particularly ugly (or pretty)? Maybe have that as a thought when she steps out of the shower one morning.

But take the concept further. What happens when Carly, Lori’s only daughter, is diagnosed with breast cancer? Did the mere reading of that question bring a flood of emotions to you? Perhaps the memories of a friend or relative or even yourself who went through something similar? You can bet that’s a shared experience, so use those feelings to connect to your readers. You are the deeper POV we’re always talking about. So how do you write it? How would you react if you got that call from your daughter?

“Lori couldn’t swallow. Couldn’t breathe. The distant pounding of her heart resounded in her ears with a dull thump. No, Lord. She gripped the back of the sofa as her knees faltered. Not Carly. A blur of activity on TV captured her as a woman in a red dress won the bonus round on Wheel of Fortune. Lori wiped her hand under her nose and turned away. Her chest ached and her mind kicked into gear, chasing the worst-case scenarios to their inevitable endings. No, Lord. Not Carly.

Let’s talk about that for a minute. Were you able to connect with any part of the paragraph? Maybe the fear of something happening to your kids? Or the memory of what it was like to fight a deadly disease? Or even simply watching Wheel of Fortune?

You know nothing about Lori except what you learned in that snippet. You don’t know her age, what she looks like, where she lives, anything. But you can relate to her because we all have those experiences. That makes Lori real. Someone we care about.

But here’s the thing. You can’t stop with your protagonist. Every character in your novel needs those experiences, whether it’s the waiter who disappears every time you want a drink refill or the airline pilot with the obviously dyed hair or the barista at the coffee shop who you’re sure misspells your name on purpose. They all have something to say. Just make sure your readers can hear them too.
Tom Threadgill is the author of the Jeremy Winter series of thrillers (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), as well as Collision of Lies, available February 4th from Baker Publishing Group. His books have a distinct focus on clean, suspenseful action with strong character development. In his downtime, Tom enjoys woodworking, riding his Harley, and chasing the elusive Yard of the Month award. He currently resides with his wife in the Dallas area and can be reached on Facebook or through his website at

Friday, January 31, 2020

Like a Thank You to a Friend

By Suzanne Woods Fisher  @suzannewfisher

Just a few days ago, I received an email from a reader who wanted me to know that she was throwing my book in the trash. I’d offended her, somehow, and she wanted me to know it. I thanked her for her feedback, like I would thank a friend.

When I first started getting published, that kind of reader email would have thrown me for a loop. I would have felt hurt or misunderstood or defensive. Probably…all three. And my already shaky confidence about my writing ability would go off-kilter, not unlike a wobbly spinning top.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Value of Change

By Annette Cole Mastron  @acole828
Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

As Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelly, in the 1998 movie, “You’ve Got Mail” says at the closing of her bookshop, “People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened.” Well, not to agree with a fictional character or anything, but change is an everyday occurrence in everyone’s life, including the characters we write about. Change is what drives the plot of any book.

Change is life. We were all once babies. Babies are born; they grow; they go to school; they go to college; they move into their own life, and the change repeats. Change drives our own lives on a daily basis whether we recognize it or not. Why wouldn’t it drive the characters we create? As Heraclitus said, “There is nothing permanent except change.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Two of the Best Editing Hacks Ever

By Wendy Wilson Spooner  @Wendy_W_Spooner

We all know that reading our work aloud helps us find typos, sentences that don’t make sense, and repeated story information in our WIPs. But what would you do if you could get someone else to read your work aloud to you? Or some thing?

Here are two hacks I use that save me hours upon hours of precious editing time.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Change the World with Your Writing-Using History to Change the Future Part 2

By p m terrell, Columnist for Southern Writers Magazine 

If you missed Part 1 of this blog series, it appeared on January 14, 2020 and you can access it via the archives on the right hand side of the blog page. 

Any genre can incorporate historical events; even science fiction and fantasy can begin with true history and alter them, so they fit into the fictional worlds of the characters. Here are some guidelines to take your work to the next level by incorporating history:

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Year of Perfect Vision: 2020

By Maritza Martinez Mejia  @luzdelmes

When people hear they have a 20/20 vision, they understand that they have a perfect vision. They pride themselves and reassure you that they don't have to wear glasses or contact lenses.

Unfortunately a 20/20 vision does not mean having a "perfect vision". When the optometrist tells you that you have "20/20 vision", he/she is referring to the visual acuity, which is the clarity or sharpness of your vision. This number indicates that you can see objects clearly at a distance of 20 feet, compared to others.

Don’t worry! We can make that concept 2020: The year of the perfect vision a reality.

Friday, January 24, 2020

No Cold Mashed Potatoes: Crafting Effective Backstory

By Linda S. Clare @Lindasclare

When I sent the first pages of my first novel to a well-known author, I wasn’t prepared for her feedback. “Your opening has way too much backstory.” From that moment, I was determined to master backstory techniques.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Journey of a Lifetime

By Edie Melson, Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine

The writer’s path is a journey of a lifetime—one fraught with discovery and discouragement. We can avoid some of its pitfalls if we define that path early on. Today, I want to share some insights into my writing journey and the markers I look for to help me stay at least in the vicinity of the path.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

How I Do It: Novel Writing

By Creston Mapes

I’ve developed a system for novel-writing that helps me avoid dreaded “writer’s block,” and gives me tons of great ideas from which to choose when it comes to “what’s going to happen next.”

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Do Readers Love Reading Your Stories? A Hundred Years from Now?

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

Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms was published back in 1929. The story was written in the World War I era, yet readers still love reading this story. The question we want to ask is why do readers still love reading a story written almost a hundred years ago?

When Hemingway wrote this novel, there were no

Monday, January 20, 2020

I’ve Gotta Be Me, She Said, Part 2

By Dan Walsh

Last month, I began talking about how vitally important it is when we write to spend as much time, if not more, creating characters readers really care about, than it is spending time on things like crafting the story itself (did you catch the phrase “if not more”? I believe it matters more). If our characters are boring, shallow and/or totally unlikable for the reader, the book will flop (no matter how good the story is).

I ended talking about one of the big problems authors have creating these kinds of solid characters. Many writers THEMSELVES (in real life) are not solid, interesting, compelling and/or fun-to-be-with people. So, if you’re not that kind of person in real life, how can you create characters like that in your books?

Friday, January 17, 2020

I’ve Gotta Be Me, She Said

By Dan Walsh

My 21 novels have thus far garnered over 7,200 Amazon Reviews (Avg 4.6 Stars) and over 18,000 Ratings on GoodReads. The most consistent comment readers make (and my most favorite) goes something like, Once I started reading the book, I couldn’t put it down.” They don’t just say this on my suspense novels but even the more romantic stories. Even with my Christmas novels.

But this month,

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Farewell to a Friend

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

Last week, we celebrated the life of a friend of mine. She is guarded in her earthly resting place by two sentinel angels, representative of the angels she is now dancing among.  Since her death, I’ve replayed in my mind the fun times we shared over the years. We met because we shared a dear mutual friend. We were cemented in friendship while watching our children grow up. She had a million-watt smile that would light up a room. She was kind with a giving heart. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Do you want to Write? Learn from Great Models

By Delores Topliff

You want to write. People say you have a gift, but you’re not sure where to start. You’ve written a few things but haven’t hit your stride or quite found your voice.

Try this strategy.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Change the World with Your Writing-Using History to Change the Future Part 1

By p m terrell, Columnist for Southern Writers Magazine

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -- novelist George Santayana (1863-1952)

Those words have been repeated innumerable times in countless variations. Authors are in a unique position of bringing history to the masses, not in the form of unimaginative lists of dates and titles but in stirring emotionally charged scenes. Consider the statement that some people were abducted, taken halfway around the world, and placed into slavery. Now imagine the scene in Alex Haley’s bestselling book, Roots, in which Kunta Kinte arrives in America and is sold to a Virginia plantation owner. They both tell the same story, but one is so emotionally charged as to make it unforgettable.

Monday, January 13, 2020

How Do you Make your Reader Care?

By Susan May Warren, author ofThe Way of the Brave (Released 1/7/20)

There are 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone. Yes, that’s a lot. But you don’t need that number to blow your mind…simply walk into a Barnes and Noble and notice the shelves and shelves of books…

Friday, January 10, 2020

Writing the Book You Want to Read

By Laura Frantz

I once heard the sweet spot for readers is historical fiction set in the 19th-century American west. Novels abound during this time period and are often bestsellers. But what if that’s not your sweet spot as a writer? What if your interests and instincts pull you toward another era and setting? Your passion vs. writing for the market?

When I look back on the ten years spent crafting my debut novel, I clearly recall my motivation. I wrote a book I couldn’t find on the shelf. A book that I really wanted to read but couldn’t locate. That eventually became The Frontiersman’s Daughter published by Revell. Drawing from local lore and the lives of Kentucky’s first settlers, including Daniel Boone, I discovered a treasure trove of novel fodder. Since The Frontiersman’s Daughter released in 2009, colonial American fiction has come into its own with an array of authors to choose from, each penning unique stories devoted to our country’s founding history.

Several years later, I took the same approach when writing The Lacemaker. Although Colonial Williamsburg is a favorite historic site of many, I couldn’t find another novel set in this fascinating, pivotal place. Other than the bestselling Dawn’s Early Light published in 1943, little fiction in 18th-century Williamsburg seemed to exist yet I sensed there were readers who were as interested in Virginia’s tumultuous beginnings and the events leading up to the Revolutionary War as I was. In 2018 I was honored when The Lacemaker won the Christy Award.

My newest novel, An Uncommon Woman, returns to my frontier roots. This story, set in western Virginia, now present day West Virginia, draws heavily from the history of that region and has an Indian captivity theme. Thankfully, my passion for this time period and reader interest has allowed me to continue writing about our nation’s founding, helping keep history alive in even a small way through fiction.

I encourage writers whether beginning or established to write a story they would love to read but can’t find on the shelf. Do you have a favorite setting or time period? Start there. A favorite historic site? Visit if you can, do a little digging/research, and see if it holds the seeds of a story. Write that first page and chapter. If you gain momentum and move forward, keep going. If it appeals to you, then it will probably appeal to readers, too.
Laura Frantz is a Christy Award winner and the ECPA bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Frontiersman's DaughterCourting Morrow LittleThe Colonel's LadyThe Lacemaker, and A Bound Heart. When not reading and writing, she loves to garden, take long walks, listen to music, and travel. She is the proud mom of an American soldier and a career firefighter. When not at home in Kentucky, she and her husband live in Washington State. Learn more at Facebook: Instagram: Pinterest:

Thursday, January 9, 2020


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

If only I’d read Delia Owens’ book before publishing my book, Writing with Voice. But unfortunately Where the Crawdads Sing wasn’t published until 2018 so I didn’t have Delia’s wonderful examples of “writing with voice” to give you, so I’ll take this opportunity to show, not tell, on the Suite T blog.

For one, after reading Where the Crawdads Sing, it’s obvious why the book has—so far—sold four million copies in the U.S., and stayed on the NYT bestseller list for a year. It’s also a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick. But besides story, what made this book so special for a first novel and now a movie to be produced by Witherspoon? 

Below I’ll list some of a few lines that stand out for me.
“…necklace of green lagoons.” Rather than the overused and tired “string of green lagoons,” the word “necklace” is a gold nugget plucked straight from a mountain vein and inserted right here.   
“Just like their whiskey, the marsh dwellers bootlegged their own laws.” She nailed that one. And if you’ve ever had a bootlegger in your ancestry, you don’t have to hunt up that word.       
“…Ma’s words needed somewhere to go.” I’m feeling Ma on that one. 
“…lips a thin line under searching eyes.” I’ve seen those lips before, haven’t you? The thin line goes right with the searching. Do plump lips ever match searching eyes? Not as hard as thin lip lines do I’ll wager.
“She anchored him hard with her eyes.” Eyes like that will not even let a barge drift. She doesn’t have to tell us what color those eyes are because that dude’s going nowhere until the anchor’s dislodged.    
“Quiet tongues of foam, waiting for the next surge.”—I can see those tongues of foam moving over sand can’t you?    
“…hunger was a pushing thing.”—Yes, hunger definitely makes you rouse yourself to get up and move to do something about those pangs. Brilliant use of words.   
“She could feel that full gravy taste, like it was round.”—Okay. Laughing and loving on this example because a true gravy-eating-Southerner would truly understand this down to the last cathead biscuit crumb. Now, all ya’ll who aren’t into gravy go learn how to fix some—it takes practice—so you’ll know what Kya’s character is talking about. I’m so craving gravy and biscuits right now! 

Delia’s making her readers go to the kitchen for a cast iron skillet and some bacon grease—no wait, gotta keep turning those pages to see what will happen next! Gravy’s gonna have to wait ‘til this book is finished.

And so sorry, but you’ll have to wait until my February post to read the ending of this story because there were too many jewels to leave out! To be continued in February 6, 2020