Monday, May 17, 2021

What Is It Really That We Want Poetry to Say?

Sara Robinson

In post past I’ve discussed how poetry can lead us to a great understanding, can be a call to witness, and can lead us to appreciation of nature and humanity. But that is not all poetry needs to say. The poet Stanley Moss describes poetry as “a carnival of word play.” I ask, how does poetry really come together and say something? We believe we have lots to say. We study forms, words, metrical patterns (or not), other poets, newspapers, and even other genres to give us help.

Here are some thoughts to improve our skills:

1. Slow down, and “smell the roses.” If we rush through our writing, we may miss words and lines that require closer inspection. My work-out trainer constantly has to remind me to slow my movements, let my muscles feel the work. If we speed out the door, we could miss that charming bluebird.

2. Manage effectively your expectations. Start writing without thinking about winning a contest. Get it down. Then get it good.

3. Don’t like what you’ve written? Before you throw it away, look through it and find at least one word or line that you do like. Put it down on a 3 x 5 card, save it for something else.

4. Manage distractions in your writing space. Set aside time. If you can’t write, then at least read. Maybe read a poem you don’t understand. Exercise your brain to dissect it until you find a meaning that satisfies you.

5. Free up your writing to find its own form. Truth be told, there is an organic process to what you write. It may show itself as a natural form to your poem. And if it comes together more like prose, then fine. You are seeking energy here.

We say what we say. We write what we write. Simple, yet complex. What we feel within us can stir us so magnificently that our writing becomes this unified strength. Here is something I am working on in a forthcoming manuscript:

Life and Death

“My feet stay cold

in black water

like some blood’s trickling

in hard rock veins

I’ll die too young

to see my age”

What will your poetry say to you, that you can say to your readers?

Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).

Friday, May 14, 2021

Fun Friday ~ Covers and Titles


Which of these covers would draw your attention first?

Which of these titles would draw your attention first?

Based on the description, which book would you 
choose for your children or grandchildren?

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Winter of Our Discontent

Jan McCanless

2020 will certainly go down as unusual, to say the least. While I waited on my covid vaccine appointment, I did a lot of 'pondering' . For one thing, writers never seem to mind the solitude, we need it in fact, to do our creative writing. I used the year wisely, and, wrote another book, my 16th. Murder on the Rocks, concludes my Beryl's Cove mystery series, as well as my accompaning series, the Brother Jerome books. Two murder mystery series running at the same time.

As much as we need the solitude to write, we also need interaction with our fellow man, it's where our inspiration comes from. If you are just now starting out your writing career, or are in the middle of it, do some 'people watching', you will be amazed at the way seeing other people doing ordinary things, will inspire you. Most of my characters are composites of folks I meet, or see, along the way.

On a few occasions, I've had a friend ask me to write them into my books, and I have, always putting the best spin on their personalities that I can.

There is a very famous, prolific author who gives out tickets at his book signings, and, at the end, he draws a name out, and, that person gets written into his next book. Clever idea, and of course, all of that helps to promote his books.

When it comes to promoting your work, the sky's the limit, I have used home baked cookies, candy, balloons, pens, whatever it takes to get people to come to you and look over the books you are promoting. One of my most successful promotions was giving out stick on tattoos to children, and, they in turn, begged their parents to buy a book from 'that nice lady'. Deceptive? No indeed, the kids got to keep their tattoos, and the parents found out I write a pretty darned good story. Promoting your work is 90 % of the selling of your work. If you don't believe in your writing, how do you expect others to believe in it?

Writing is something that you have to be committed to. I laugh all the time when someone comes up to me at a signing or personal appearance, and, they ask me how many days it takes to write a book and get it published. Days?? Surely they jest! If this is your first book, or magazine article, whatever you are writing at the moment, give yourself a year. Yes, a year. If you whip something out in a few days or a week, and, feel you're through, look again, Creative, GOOD writing, must be honed, and sharpened over the course of time. Read it over, then, read it over again, you will be surprised at the corrections you have to make in spelling, punctuation, content. Are all your T's crossed, all your i's dotted? Is there continuity in your story, does it read well, does it make sense?

My latest book, Murder on the Rocks, was published March of this year. It was slow going with this one. In the middle of writing it, I had surgery on my shoulder, when I went back to it, I had forgotten a lot of the plot. Then, my transcriptionist got sick. Then finally I edited it and my publisher published it. It's been a year.

I know too, when we sent the book in to be published, it was as good as we could make it. Once in a while an unneeded or required apostrophe will slip thru, or a comma left out, this happens to the best writers of the biggest sellers, but, being patient and diligent does pay off.

Being an author is a wonderful thing to be. It is exciting to tell people you are an author, especially if your books are best sellers. All of mine have been,and it's more than gratifying. But, I paid my dues, and yes, I still get an occasional reject on a magazine article or column that I write. It can be frustrating, but, make sure, after each rejection, you double down, and be determined to make it better the next time.

Don't feel dejected just because someone turned down some writing. It could be that what you submitted just does not fit into their publishing schedule at this time. it happens. I wrote a book years and years ago, and submitted it to a publisher. He wrote back that he loved it, wished me well, but, they were only publishing dog stories at that time. So, I had to begin all over again. But, when you do that, and, you finallly 'hit', it will be very satisfying to you, and you can say, with pride, "I'm a published author.

I want every writer to be successful, there's room for all of us on the market, so, good luck in your endeavores,and I wish you well. A little prayer doesn't hurt either!

Author of the Beryl's Cove Mysteries.

Jan McCanless is a well-known author throughout North Carolina. Her list of publications and awards she has received would fill a good-sized volume by themselves. In addition to the Beryl’s Cove Mystery series and other books she is a freelance columnist for the Salisbury Post, a regular contributor to Senior Savvy, The Saturday Evening Post; Sophie Woman's Magazine, and a multitude of other periodicals. Read a current interview of Jan in Southern Writer

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Do You Show A Photo?

Susan Reichert

Interesting thing happened the other day. I was searching for an author  and was having  difficulty in finding them. When I did find the author, the icon they used on their site was their book. They did not use a picture of themselves. Do not get me wrong, we want the picture of our books everywhere we can put them, but books change, so that means the next book this author writes will show instead of the one they had there previously. It is not consistent.

Books used in place of the author’s photo probably does not make the reader feel warm and fuzzy towards the author. The reader wants to know who you are. Seeing you tells them a lot about your writing, believe it or not. I think the first question they have is why doesn’t the author have a photo of themselves like other authors do? That is a question I find myself asking.

On Amazon they showed the book instead of their photo. If for some reason an author prefers not to use their personal photo, perhaps they can create a logo that will be their brand and use that in everything such as Amazon, websites, and social medias. Just like corporate America, each company has their own logo and that is what they use to market themselves and their products. Be consistent with it, however.

But I will repeat . . .the author’s best marketing tool is their own professional photo of themselves. Oh, and the photo should not be their dog, cat, or child.

I prefer seeing the photo of the author. Plus, the photo establishes the author with their reader immediately.

Using the photo helps people at conferences, such as agents, publishers, and other writers and staff recognize you as well as readers. Isn’t that what we want as authors?

I can understand why someone would be reluctant to put his or her picture on the internet. If that is the case for you, then hire a professional to create a logo for you to use.

A logo of your initials would certainly be a good branding tool. The important thing is to replace the icon of a silhouette with a picture of yourself or your logo.

Being an author is a business. We need to sell books to our readers. What do you want them to see first about you?

It’s the little things we do that bring us the biggest gains.

Can you think of other things that can be used to brand an author?

Susan Reichert, author of Between Me and You, God’s Prayer Power and Storms in Life. She has written numerous magazine articles and stories in anthology books. She is a speaker at writing conferences, seminars, and libraries.

She is the founder of Southern Author Services, and Editor of Suite T. Also, the founder of

Collierville Christian Writers Group (CCWriters Group), and founder and co-publisher of Southern Writers Magazine. A national magazine for authors and readers (which is retired now). At the time she was the Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine.

Reichert has a passion for writing about God in devotionals, prayers, and inspirational works.

She and her husband live in Tennessee. They have four grown daughters with families of their own.

Visit Susan at:

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Exciting Invitation From Tyndale Publishing!

                                                                    F R E E


Francine Rivers Chats with T. I. Lowe

Thursday, May 13, 2021 7:00 p.m. CT / 8:00 p.m. ET

Join bestselling author Francine Rivers and rising star T. I. Lowe as they chat about their books and more!

This FREE  online discussion will pair the legendary author of The Masterpiece and Redeeming Love with a bright new voice in contemporary women's fiction. Francine and T. I. will discuss their Redeeming Love connection, Southern fiction, how they write fiction that's grounded in truth, T.I.'s buzzworthy new release, and what's next from Francine.

Monday, May 10, 2021

10 Online Strategies for the Writer’s Mid-year Slump

 Edie Melson          @EdieMelson

1. Diversify: with all that’s going on in the digital universe we can see the wisdom of not putting all our social media eggs in one basket.

2. Email List: I know in the past I’ve let this one slide. Now that I’ve been reminded that I may not always have access to everyone through social media I’ve become more proactive about building my list.

3. Experiment with Video: We need to be more open about trying new things and new ways to connect. The hottest thing this year is video, particularly Facebook live.

4. Don’t Give Up on Blogging: Now more than ever writers need to build a stable digital foundation. Social media networks no longer qualify as stable. Small changes can hold devastating results if that’s our only audience-building strategy. This means we need a viable website or blog. If we only have a website, it’s hard to get it found because of Search Engine Optimization. That’s why blogging is such an important component.

5. Discover Where Your Audience Hangs Out & Join Them There: So often we make a fundamental mistake when we’re trying to connect with our readers. We expect them to come to us. Instead, we need to find places they hang out and visit them there. What does that mean? It can mean a lot of different things, from Facebook groups, chat rooms, online groups.

6. Look for Opportunities to Guest Post: Along the lines of hanging out where your audience is, look for other sites that have a good following and query about sharing a guest post.

7. Read & Comment on Other Blogs: This is similar to hanging out with your audience. Don't just think of blogs as a place to get or give information. Instead look at them as a gathering place. Interact with the audience, look for new people to connect with and join the conversation.

8. Build the Basics on Multiple Social Media Networks: This is two-part advice. First, don’t just pour all your energy into a single social media network. If it goes down, you’ll be left without an audience. Instead, get comfortable with multiple networks and you’ll be able to weather the changes to come. Second, make sure you have an account on all the major social media networks. You don’t have to be active on all of them. But by having an account, new followers can find you. Here are what I consider the major social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn, and if you’re nervous about what’s up next, I recommend signing up for an account on the up-and-coming network MeWe.

9. Stay Calm: It's vital that we don't allow social media changes to throw us into a panic. Some will work out for the best, and others, well, not so much. But as long as we stay flexible, we'll be fine.

10. Take a Break & Practice Balance. In times of stress, it’s easy to get in the I-Just-Need-To-Do-More mindset. When I hit a slump or a stressful time, I set a timer. I monitor how much time I’m spending online and make sure it’s balanced.

These are my tips to take us through the mid-year slump. What would you add to the list? Be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

Edie Melson is the co-author of the bestseller Social Media for Today’s Writer. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and board member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Visit Edie at:

Edie Melson, Facebook

Friday, May 7, 2021

Fun Friday ~ Covers and Titles

Which of these covers would draw your attention first?

Which of these titles would draw your attention first?

Based on the description, which book would you choose?



Thursday, May 6, 2021

Three Basics to Being a Good Writer

Irene Hannon

As I sat down to write this article—and to cull through all the tips I’ve learned through my many years and sixty-plus novels as a writer—I tried to think about which ones would have been most helpful to my rookie self.

It wasn’t easy—because the list is long, and every single thing I’ve learned has allowed me to grow and mature in my use of words and in my storytelling.

But if I have to choose among them, the following are certainly among the top three.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Just the Ticket

Amberly Neese

I never liked Chuck E. Cheese. Maybe it was the creepy mascot. Maybe it was the fact that their pizza often tasted like a dryer sheet, cost too much, and underwhelmed this consumer. It could have been the wall of prizes that were low in quality and high in ticket investment. The noise level was always overstimulating and obnoxious, the tables were sticky with soda residue, cake particulates, and kid sweat, and the scent combination of pizza, plastic, and prizes peppered the air. But my kids were there for the tickets—those little yellow tickets that kids treasured, saved, and redeemed for cheap prizes that had the sustainability of a dandelion.

As you can imagine, when Chuck E. Cheese filed for bankruptcy due to COVID, I did not shed a tear. Sure, I am sad that, yet another business came to a screeching halt in this economy, but I was not sad that I would never have to see a man in a giant mouse costume in the noisy pizzeria again. I never thought that having a rodent as a mascot for a restaurant was a good idea, but what do I know?!?!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Gift and Burden of Storytelling

T. I. Lowe

How many people can say they get to daydream and make up stories for a living? As an author I am totally grateful to be able to raise my hand. I love having this ability to use my imagination to create a story. Through this freedom to create, I’m allowed control over the story’s themes and outcomes, which is something I’m not able to do in real life.

In my fictional world, I can also give my reader the gift of taking a break from his or her real world, to live in another setting, to experience something new right along with my characters. How incredibly rewarding is that!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Never Miss

Melissa Koslin

The pandemic was crazy. My day job is a commercial property manager (I manage shopping centers). In the middle of March 2020, it all went nuts. Closures started hitting us, and of course, our poor tenants were freaking out. Our entire department went into overdrive, figuring out how to handle all of this and how to best support our suffering tenants. I was answering emails and phone calls as quickly as I could for days. I’d answer one email, and five more would come in. The worst part was not having exactly perfect answers for everything that came up. There was no rulebook for a global pandemic that caused the complete closure of entire countries.

And the whole time, I felt guilty. I still had a job. Several of my family members got laid off, with no idea if they’d still have a job when the lockdowns were lifted. Thankfully, they are all okay now, but it was scary for a while.

Then the riots. A lot of the riots destroyed commercial property and small businesses, so we went on high alert to protect the properties, and more importantly, the tenants and customers.

And then my mom caught COVID. She’s not young, and she has diabetes, so I was worried. She went to the emergency room the first day with a headache so bad she could barely stand it. But thankfully, that was the worst of it for her. She stayed quarantined and recovered.