April 30, 2020

Who I Am (Part 1)

Melissa Bourbon     

Over the years, I’ve sometimes wondered how I kept my head afloat on any given day. My husband has always had an intense job with long hours. I have been writing since 1994, or so, but my first book wasn’t published until 2008. I’ve also have taught middle school English for years and years. And I’m a mom, which, as so many of you know, is a full-time job all by itself.

My mother is always telling me to slow down, relax, don’t take on so much, etc. But I think it’s in my nature to keep busy. As Lucille Ball said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

I’m that busy person.

I rarely have time to waste, so I multitask expertly. TV time with the kids—or for myself with one of the awesome Netflix or Amazon original series? I’m also updating my website, or editing—my own work, or a freelance job, or helping my son with schoolwork, or brushing the dogs, or brainstorming for an article or new book. Or, of course, folding clothes. There are always clothes to fold.

April 29, 2020

The Successful Writer

Cindy K. Sproles  @CindyDevoted

I’m often asked, “How did you become successful as a writer?” To this day, that question still stumps me for a couple of reasons. Success is defined by several things and, a lot like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder.
First, I do not look at my writing career as a success or a failure rather, I count it a blessing. A gift. Something I have prayed to do since I was young, and God has seen fit to bless me. By all due rights, my career is an opportunity to do something I love. To be immersed in learning the craft so that I can make it the very best it can be and then offer the work back to the Father in heaven to do with as He pleases. This is what denotes success to me.

April 28, 2020

What Makes for a Successful Novel Retelling a Shakespeare Play?

Pat McKee

When I thought about writing this article my initial reaction was, “Well, this will be a piece of cake! I just published a legal thriller inspired by Shakespeare. I know all about it.” You can almost smell the hubris wafting from the page as you read this, can’t you? While my novel Ariel’s Island presents a creative use of themes raised by Shakespeare’s Tempest, just a little research opened a universe of explorations of Shakespeare. Here are some examples of ways that inventive authors have turned Shakespeare’s plays into novels.

Minor becomes Major: The Play from a Minor Character’s View Point. Ophelia by Lisa Klein and Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike. Klein and Updike look at Hamlet from different angles; Klein imagines that Ophelia didn’t drown after all and took Hamlet up on his advice to go to a convent, while Updike tells of the passions that brought Claudius to murder Hamlet’s father the King and sleep with his mother the Queen.

April 27, 2020

Curt Locklear    @CurtLock

Part 2 (To see Part 1 visit April 22)

Emulating does not mean copying. I have short stories in which I attempted to emulate the style of Ernest Hemingway. Did I copy anything? Nope! Not one jot or tittle. I read some of his works before starting each story. My stories were nothing like his in terms of plot, nor was my writing of the caliber of his, but I know the “tone” of my writing emulated, though did not match, his.

I wrote a story emulating Ray Bradbury’s style. Not a Sci-Fi or a thriller, mine was an everyday modern story. But I attempted to build my sentences and paragraph flow like his. Was I successful? Probably not, although trying to emulate the style was the impetus for writing an award-winning story. If you use this technique, make sure that you in no way copy the sentences or even come close to the plots of the writer. It needs to be YOUR STORY. It’s all about inspiration.

April 24, 2020

Follow Your Dream (Part 2)

Larry B. Gildersleeve   @LarryBGAuthor
Christian and Inspirational

Part 2 (Part 1 April 21)

The familiarity of Bowling Green from my high school and university years easily enabled my home town to become the setting for all of my novels, either partially or entirely. Certainly not unique, many of my imaginary characters have a basis in people I’ve known over the years. One example. A character in my first two books is Kentucky’s Chief Justice. The character’s fabric is based upon my late father, who was not a lawyer, and my understanding of the work of a person in such a position came from our current chief justice who has been a friend since my college days.

Hearing Ann Patchett speak brought so much into focus for me. She said that while there is no one formula for success, worth considering is that most books are purchased and read by women. She went on to say that writing books about women, for women, with strong women characters not defined by nor dependent upon men, and a happy ending, would be worth considering. I didn’t just consider, I embraced all of it.

I know when I begin how my book will end, and work backward to create a chapter-by-chapter outline of the story and the arcs of my characters. My style has been carefully evolved into short, fast-paced, dialogue-driven chapters with page-turning endings to draw the reader onward to the next chapter. My first two books each had over fifteen named characters. My third and future novels will only have four or five.

I write in the Christian and Inspirational genres. Regarding story ideas, Follow Your Dreams was inspired by my lifelong commitment to journaling, and The Girl on the Bench touches upon the travesty and tragedy of human sex trafficking. The novel I’m currently writing has a character beset by early-onset Alzheimer’s, an illness that disproportionately plagues women over men.

I read once that “Vision without discipline is a just a dream.”

With that in mind, I discipline myself to invest substantial time and effort six days a week – writing, publishing and marketing. I’ve gone well beyond the 10,000 hours, and regard this pursuit as a journey, not a destination I’ll ever reach.

Now that I’m a thrice-published author, albeit self-published, my dream is to cross the threshold to become a legitimate bestselling author. As my female protagonist says in Follow Your Dreams:

“Dreams never come true for those who never dream.” 

Larry B. Gildersleeve is a father of two and grandfather of four who turned to writing after a four-decade career as a corporate executive. He lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky with Kathleen, his wife of 30 years.

April 23, 2020

Writing Styles Make The Writer

Susan Reichert    @swmeditor
Southern Writers

It is said writing style is the way we express our thoughts as an individual. So, I decided to do a tad of research on writing styles.

Grammarly says Expository, Descriptive, Narrative and Persuasive are four writing styles. ( So with that in mind here is the synopsis below.

Ernest Hemingway's writing style is one of my favorites. Mainly because I am a fast reader, I don't like to get bogged down in too many words when few would suffice. 

Hemingway said, "A writer's style should be direct and personal, imagery rich and earthy, words simple and vigorous."

He is famous for a terse (effective and concise) minimalist style of writing. He dispensed with flowery adjectives and seemed to be able to get straight to the point. Some have said he wrote with simple genius. 

I agree with the voices who have read his works that his writing was probably due to his training as a newspaper reporter. He learned to put emphasis on nouns and string them along with conjunctives

If you read his work, you will see he used short sentences, short first paragraphs, seemed to lean to the use of positive as opposed to negatives in his writing and used English in an energetic way.

And his good friend F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in a different style. He wrote elaborate descriptions of characters, places and used repetition, various forms of literature and allusions.

I found he put a lot of his life into his fiction. He wanted readers to picture and imagine what he was writing about. I do believe he liked using adjectives! He also used similes to create imagery. 

In reading The Great Gatsby there seems to be a lyrical flow––a rhythm as you read. He could create this cadence that falls on certain words. Perhaps that is why there was so much emotion in his writing.

When you look at the different styles of authors from the past, you can see what you like in their style and what you don't.  Perhaps, you will see your own style as a mixture of one or more of the late authors. 

Although these two authors had distinctive different styles, they were both excellent writers. They both achieved a legacy in their writing.

Whatever the case, developing your style is what makes your stories and brings readers to your books. And perhaps leaves a legacy for you.

April 22, 2020


Curt Locklear    @CurtLock


How do I find time to write?

What do I do to overcome writer’s block?

What if I’m not writing a good story?

The questions go on and on, but the answers are often easier than we think.

I’ve found several strategies that help me. An important fact is my first novel is gathering dust in my computer. I hope to drag it out, blow off the dust, and go about all the revisions I need to do. My point: ALLOW YOUR FIRST BOOK TO FEEL LIKE PRACTICE.

Since then, I have published three highly acclaimed historical fiction novels. The second one is the 2018 Laramie Awards First Place Winner.

Oh, no! you say. My first book can’t be practice. This is the Great American Novel! There can never be another one like it. It’s the only idea I have. If you are a fiction writer, that can’t be true. Something about fiction writers’ brains is that they are always creating stories. It’s in our DNA. Besides, if you allow yourself to treat your first book for practice, then the pressure is off. Just write it. If it’s to be a great book, you’ll find a way to hone it to perfection later.

April 21, 2020

Follow Your Dreams (Part 1)

Larry B. Gildersleeve   @LarryBGAuthor
Christian and Inspirational Fiction

There’s no way of knowing how many people dream of being a published author. What we do know is that relatively few invest the time and resources to see the dream through to fruition. That was almost me.

Compositions I wrote in high school English classes received A’s. I know because I saved them to inspire me to one day try to become a published author. My mother, the town’s librarian, encouraged me to pursue that dream after university graduation. I didn’t, succumbing instead to the lure of corporate America.

But over the years, as I moved from the East coast to the West, and travelled around the world, I filled journals with story ideas and character descriptions, saving them for the day when writing would become a priority in my life. It took almost forty-five years, and happened when I wound down my late-career entrepreneurial ventures and returned home from Seattle to Bowling Green, Kentucky. The lessened business demands, the slower pace of life and the welcoming feeling extended by new friends and old created an environment that sparked my desire to finally begin to write in earnest.

I didn’t just ease into a comfortable chair in front of a keyboard, rather I attacked my new profession with an all-in commitment. I had read it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours to become truly proficient, but not necessarily successful, at a new endeavor, be it a different career direction or playing golf. Or becoming a novelist.

I invested a lot of time and quite a bit of money studying my new craft. I purchased more “how to” books than I care to recall, and studied a variety of resources available online. I attended a few writing conferences and seminars, but departed more disappointed than fulfilled. The kindling to get the fire burning happened when, on a referral from an author friend in Seattle, I engaged a wonderful writing coach/editor in California – Lynda McDaniel – who was a successful author and journalist in her own right.

Lynda and I have never met. She taught me to write fiction through the exchange of countless iterations of the manuscripts for my first three novels, and she will be receiving the first draft of my fourth in June. Since I began in 2015, I’ve been creating my own MFA program in a Word document in which I record the best thinking and most useful guidance I’ve encountered about the craft of writing, and I will happily share it with anyone.

My first novel, Dancing Alone Without Music, came to life with KDP in 2016. The sequel, aptly named Follow Your Dreams, was a 2018 KDP release. Sales of both have been underwhelming because (I hope) I still haven’t figured out how to effectively market self-published books online. But I’m investing a lot of time trying to figure it out. My third novel, The Girl on the Bench, was published by Book Locker and released in late 2019.

Larry B. Gildersleeve is a father of two and grandfather of four who turned to writing after a four-decade career as a corporate executive. He lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky with Kathleen, his wife of 30 years.

April 20, 2020

Igniting Your Book Launch (Part 1)

DiAnn Mills @diannmills 

Expect An Adventure

Every great book deserves a successful book launch. The techniques used for igniting the campaign are the writer’s opportunity to shine a light on a new writing project. Let's face it; we writers are excited, passionate about our stories and subject matter. We embrace words, brainstorming sessions, hours to write, and constructive criticism. But there is one aspect of the writer’s life that can shake us to our core—launching a book.

A writer's goal is to place well-written books into the hands and hearts of readers. Entering the world of retail and appealing to readers takes creativity, imagination, and organization. Sometimes courage. The task can appear daunting, yet with the proper steps, the writer can complete the job effectively and efficiently. 

A book launch isn’t a dribble of social media on the day of release, it’s a series of orchestrated steps, and that’s what we’re going to talk about for the next three months: the who, how, what, where, when, and why of a successful book launch. . .

April 17, 2020

Change the World With Your Writing ~Taking the Character to Greater Heights – Part 2

p. m. terrell   @pmterrell

“Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.” – Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

In Part 1, we looked at power and corruption as characters—both real and imagined—rise to greater heights. There is another possibility as one rises to power, that of benevolence.

Professor Dumbledore, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, is the Headmaster at Hogwarts. He could use this position for greed or personal gain, but he uses it instead to fight dark forces, including the evil Lord Voldemort.

Glenda the Good Witch, in L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, is a perfect example of a powerful yet benevolent character. Though she possesses the command of magic, she has chosen to use it for good and not evil. Because so many of us remember her is a testament to using a benevolent individual as a minor character as well as a major one.

Police Chief Brody in Peter Benchley’s Jaws is another example of a character in a powerful position that genuinely cares about the community he polices. We care about what happens to him, from battling the mayor to keep the beaches safe to fighting for his life as the shark tears apart his boat.

Gandalf in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is a white wizard. Like Glenda the Good Witch, he could use his power for evil or personal gain, but he chooses to use it for good.

Then there are those characters that are not generally in a dominant position, but find themselves able to save others in a life-or-death situation. A real-life example is Doss Desmond, an unassuming man in World War II that others saw as a coward because he did not wish to take another’s life. Faced with the horrific circumstances of Hacksaw Ridge at Okinawa, he managed to save 75 of his fellow soldiers while under heavy enemy fire—and he did it one at a time. The book Redemption at Hacksaw Ridge by Booton Herndon, inspired the blockbuster movie, Hacksaw Ridge.

Courage under fire often inspires writers, as it did Stephen Crane, who wrote of Private Henry Fleming in The Red Badge of Courage, who first flees from the field of battle but returns later to carry the flag. It is this battle that Henry finds his courage.

Whether the protagonist is powerful in a malevolent or benevolent manner, it could be one pivotal scene in which either the good or evil rises within them or a series of scenes that lead to the book’s conclusion.

 p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 24 books ranging from historical to suspense. One example of taking a character to greater heights is found in her latest release,
A Struggle for Independence, in which Lady Independence Mather must find courage and purpose in the 1916 Irish Easter Rising, which led to the Irish War for Independence.

April 16, 2020

The Versatile Apostrophe (Part 2)

Judith Nembhard

The other aspect of the word apostrophe is its literary quality, where it is used as a form of address to someone who is absent as if the person were present and able to answer, or it is an address to an inanimate object or an abstraction as if it is capable of hearing and understanding and can respond. This is not as fanciful as it sounds. We do it all the time—talking to our computer when it’s too slow, or telling our alarm clock to be quiet when it rings in the middle of a good snooze. These are not literary by any means, but they are apostrophes nonetheless. Think of the nursery rhyme that you repeated as a child: “Twinkle, twinkle, little star/how I wonder what you are.” And how about “Bah, bah, Black Sheep, have you any wool?” In each case, you were talking to a star and a sheep that couldn’t understand and couldn’t respond. You were using an apostrophe.

I’m sure the poets among us are already acquainted with this form of the apostrophe, and some may have even used it in their pieces. It is a popular devise that poets use to make a point. William Hodgson wrote a well-known poem I learned in grade school. “Time, you old gypsy Man, will you not stay? /Put up your caravan just for a day.” The author appeals to time to slow down, stop flitting so fast, something we all would like to have happen when we are behind schedule.

John Donne’s famous poem “Death Be Not Proud” is one of the best examples of a literary apostrophe. Donne, a seventeenth century poet and Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, seems to shake his fist in Death’s face, letting him know he doesn’t have all the power that he presumes to have. In the end Death will be vanquished, quite reassuring during this time of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic. Although Death is treated like a person in the poem, it is an abstraction and cannot hear, neither can it respond.

Can the apostrophe be used in narrative fiction? Absolutely! James Joyce did it. At the end of The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he has Stephen Dedalus address Life: “Amen. So be it. Welcome, O Life!” Many times the literary apostrophe begins with “O” or “Oh.” It is used to express strong emotion, such as love. If the main character in your short story or novel is in a romantic relationship with a soldier who is far away on the battlefield, what’s to prevent you from having her address him directly out of the depth of her longing for him? It would be a way to show rather than to tell. The technique is a good one but shouldn’t be overdone.

There is much versatility in the apostrophe. Hardly any one individual has a corner on its use either as a mark of punctuation or as a literary device. We would do well to imitate its versatility in the practice of our craft.

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.

April 15, 2020

9 Time-saving Tips for Social Media

Edie Melson     @EdieMelson

Social Media Director for Southern Writers Suite T

Social media can be a time drain if we’re not careful. 

We can spend hours and hours without seeing results that justify the effort—unless we pay attention. It’s time to work smarter, not harder. 

9 Time-Saving Tips for Social Media

April 14, 2020

How Effective are Book Signings, Shows, and Workshops ? (Part 2)

Jan McCanless

Author of Beryl's Cove Mystery Series

We will now continue from April 10th post:

There is another venue for writers, symposiums, where you go and either listen to an instructor tell you how to write your book, or you hear an established author tell you about their book.  Will you learn anything? Maybe, but, it won't help you write your book. I'll tell you why. After you have listened to the lecture, you will know how the instructor wants you write; they'll tell you how THEY want you to write, but, they will NOT help you find your 'voice', and put it on paper. 

Every writer I know  is someone who has a 'unigue' way of telling a story, It's their own originality, and you don't want to tamp that down. You want to be original, you want to say things in the way you want, what you don't want is to say things in the way someone else would.  Personally, I don't want to read a book that is formulaic in structure -- - a story line I recognize from other books I have read.  

There are authors out there who make an outline of their story, then, give it to their staff, and ask them to fill it in,. It becomes like every other book from that author, and you can almost know what the next chapter or paragraph is going to say.  How do you think some of these high priced authors write  2 and 3 books a year? They use the same formula for each book, and after I have read one or two from that writer, I don't read any more, because I already know the plot line .  

Originality has to be a part of everything you write, and I found the seminars just don't teach you originality,. so, I avoid them. I want MY voice to come through the pages of a book, not someone elses.

So, do your homework, book as many signings as you can, talk to the folks who come, and learn from them.  Attend as many book festivals and fairs as you can manage, and do the networking when you are there. It will pay off in the long run.  If you do the lectures and  seminars, take what you can from them, but, retain that originality that makes your book ––you.  

Jan McCanless is a retired high school teacher, and former medical technologist, who penned her first Beryl's Cove mystery back in 2005. That one book lead to the Beryl's Cove series of  13 best selling books by this award winning author, who has also penned 3 very successful compilations of her humor columns and magazine articles. She is married, the grandmother of nine cherubs, and, resides in rural North Carolina

Her latest book, under promotion now, is the compilation, Assorted Brain Drippings of  Noted Sagittarian, and More Thoughts of Home  .

 Her next installment in the very popular Beryl's Cove series will be out next winter, and is entitled  Murder on the Rocks .

Jan's books are available from, empower, bookstores and gift shops around the country, or from her website 

Check her website for all her publications

April 13, 2020

Change The World With Your Writing ~Taking the Character to Greater Heights (Part 1)

p. m. terrell       @pmterrell

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” - John Dalberg-Acton, 1887 letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton

There are several ways in which authors can incorporate power-hungry characters in their books. One way is to use them as protagonists. We can take our hero from the depths of despair or harsh physical conditions to the height of power and watch them transform in the process. The influence they attain can either move them closer to the light and benevolence or into the darkness and malevolence.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)