Wednesday, January 31, 2018

When One Door Closes, Don’t Jump Through The First Window


By John J. Zelenski  


As many in the publishing world may be aware, Tate Publishing & Enterprises ceased operations several months ago and left many authors, including myself, angry, hurt, and confused.  Many questions immediately surfaced such as rights to ownership, back payment of royalties, and of course the huge decision on how and where to republish our works.  Slowly and painfully, questions were answered and the last one that remained was ultimately the most important to me. 

How do I get my books back into the marketplace?

As authors in today’s world, we have more choices than ever on how to publish (or republish) our works and perhaps that creates a problem in and of itself– choices.  Createspace and a number of indie publishing platforms are readily available for those who have the time, patience, and tech savvy to tackle self-publishing.  You remain in complete control of your works and all money is yours to keep from sales.  Then there is traditional publishing -the high and lofty Holy Grail for most authors.  The credibility and respect that comes from being accepted by a traditional press is certainly something to be proud of, and can potentially open many doors to possibilities that self-publishing cannot.

Speaking for myself, I chose to search out a traditional publisher that could bring my books back to market, that would allow me to remain in control of rights, and give me the personal attention that I felt my books deserved.  I believe I have found such a company with my new publisher Peasantry Press.  Their team is a great group of very talented people and very receptive to my thoughts and insights concerning the uniqueness of my novels. 

But what about you?  Should you find yourself in a similar situation, my best advice to give would be to step back and allow some time.  Time first of all to heal – the anger, bitterness, and other negative feelings that can block a sound decision.  Immediately jumping into another bad situation can bring you back to exactly the same ugly spot down the road, or worse yet, cause you to lose your rights to your works. Whether you chose the self-publishing model or choose to seek out a traditional publisher, there should never be a need to sign anything on a whim, especially without some prayerful thought and consideration to how these choices may affect you five or ten years down the road.  

In the world of publishing, as many can attest to, time can be our biggest nemesis….or sometimes it can be our greatest ally.  Take your time, find the publisher that works best for your needs, and remember to close that drafty window of impulsion. 
_____________________________________________________________ 
John J. Zelenski is an award-winning author who has appeared on television, radio, and has been featured in numerous print articles as well as receiving high-profile reviews from the popular community. Having been inspired, in part, to write his first novel Walker's Vale, by his own paranormal experiences as a child, John has developed a keen understanding of the supernatural. His second novel and prequel to Walker's Vale - The Journal of Ezekiel Walker - continues with the saga of Walker's Vale, with a future third installment presently in the works. Walker's Vale, the film will be released through Allegentsia Productions. John, along with his wife and two children, love to watch the seasons change in beautiful Northeast Pennsylvania.  Social inks are: www.johnjzelenski.com   https://twitter.com/johnzelenski  https://www.facebook.com/WalkersVale?fref=ts   http://www.amazon.com/John-J.-Zelenski/e/B00S05HZXW/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Stories from a Cemetery


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


Historic Elmwood Cemetery is the oldest active cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. It was established in 1852 as one of the first rural garden cemeteries in the South. A funeral scene in Paramount's 1993 legal thriller The Firm was filmed here. 

There is a dramatic entry bridge, a Carpenter–Gothic office cottage along with 80 acres. All of which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also an official Bird Sanctuary and Arboretum.

Can you imagine the stories that can be created using this cemetery as a setting? Even as a character?

Beneath ancient elms, oaks and magnolia trees you will find the famous and infamous, those who were loved and feared. You will find veterans of every American war, including the Revolutionary War. There are generals, governors, mayors and madams, side-by-side.

All you need do is choose a character, do your research, decide your plot, and begin your story. There are archives waiting for you, here at Elmwood.

Functions are held every year at this cemetery. You can also take a guided tour of this magnificent cemetery. Here you will find the history of Memphis is told through the residents of Elmwood Cemetery. The city fathers, early mayors and the everyday people who lived in Memphis and helped shape its history.

One of the functions coming up in January is the “Stories and Secrets of Elmwood Cottage where you will learn what’s hiding in the archives. The story of the Victorian Gothic Cottage and furnishings; and you will hear about the “Frozen Charlottes”, mysterious little dolls left on the graves more than 100 years ago.

If you walk through this cemetery you will find your mind reacting to this place. Perhaps stories will begin creating themselves, not just one, but many.

Look around your towns, what do you have that is very old, and has a history to it? Do your research, and in the process you too may just find “your Elmwood Cemetery” full of stories. Who knows, you might just find your next series waiting for you there.

Happy Writing!



Monday, January 29, 2018

Writing From a Deep Place-Part Two


By William Walsh


I am the director of the low-residency Master of Fine Arts program at Reinhardt University, approximately 40 miles north of Atlanta, in a little town called Waleska, nestled at the foothills of the Etowah Valley. I teach students with essentially the same Socratic Method, one-on-one, very personalized instruction and criticism. We help people become the best writer they can, using a model that has worked for so many people.

If you want to write a book, whether it is a novel or a non-fiction book on micro-gardening, here is my advice: To be a writer you must have discipline. There is no exception to this rule. It’s like building a house. If you don’t put up lumber every day, you will never build the house. You cannot build on Saturday. The same holds true for writing. You cannot write on Saturday and expect to complete a book.

Here is the secret:
v  Day 1 – write 1 page. That’s all you have to do.
v  Day 2 – read yesterday’s page and edit it/make corrections. Write 1 new page.  
v  Day 3 – read the page from Day 1, edit the page from Day 2, and now, write 1 new page.
v  Do this for the rest of your life.

If you will write one page per day, in one year you will have a book. I guarantee that when your book is finished, you will be a much better writer than when you started.  One page per day!

What are your writing secrets?
________________________________________________________________ 
William Walsh is the director of the M.F.A. program at Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia. He is also a southern narrative poet in the tradition of James Dickey, David Bottoms, and Fred Chappell. He also attended Southaven High School in Mississippi. His English teach, Frances McGuffey asked him to read Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat, who seven years earlier gave the same book to another student, John Grisham. She deserves a lot of credit because it changed his reading life and appreciation for fiction. In 2018, his new collection of poems, Fly Fishing In Times Square, will be published. Recently, his novels The Boomerang Mattress and Haircuts for the Dead were Finalists and Semi-Finalists in the William Faulkner Pirate Alley Prize. As well, his novel, The Pig Rider, was Finalist in 2015. His most recent collection of poems is Lost In the White Ruins (2014). His other books include: Speak So I Shall Know Thee: Interviews with Southern Writers (McFarland, 1990); The Ordinary Life of a Sculptor (Sandstone, 1993); The Conscience of My Other Being (Cherokee Publishers, 2005); Under the Rock Umbrella: Contemporary American Poets from 1951-1977 (Mercer, 2006); and David Bottoms: Critical Essays and Interviews (McFarland, 2010).  His work has appeared in AWP Chronicle, Cimarron Review, Five Points, Flannery O’Connor Review, The Georgia Review, James Dickey Review, The Kenyon Review, Literary Matters, Michigan Quarterly Review, North American Review, Poetry Daily, Poets & Writers, Rattle, ShenandoahSlant, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. His literary interviews have been published in over fifty journals, and include, among others, Czeslaw Milosz, Joseph Brodsky, A.R. Ammons, Doris Betts, Pat Conroy, Harry Crews, James Dickey, Ariel Dorfman, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, Stephen Dunn, Eamon Grennan, Mary Hood, Edward Jones, Madison Jones, Donald Justice, Ursula Leguin, Andrew Lytle, and Lee Smith. **Mr. Walsh, photo is the work of  Karley Harmon, 


Friday, January 26, 2018

Writing From a Deep Place-Part One


By William Walsh


For most people the idea of writing a book begins when they are young . . .  then they never think about it again. If you are like me, the idea of writing a book never left that deep place in your heart. What does it take to be a writer? Many years ago, William Price Fox told me that if the choice were between a brilliant student with no ambition and a poor student with drive, he would always bet on the student with determination. Writing a book and being an author last entered my mind a week after Mrs. Collier’s seventh grade language arts class. That’s when I moved from Dallas to Chicago. Poof!

Fast-forward to after college. I had hundreds of ideas for novels and non-fiction books and was working on short stories, poems, novels about spies and gold miners in Alaska, all the places I’d never been and all things I’d never done. It was all apprentice work that I needed to purge myself of, all the terrible ideas and bad writing I had inside. Make no mistake, everyone has plenty of bad ideas and excessive amounts terrible writing, but the more you write the faster you move on toward the good stuff.

After about five years, I felt I had put in my time and should have some success. But I wasn’t successful—not at all. I had a miniscule amount of success, but I could barely get my name in the telephone book. Simply put, I was not getting anywhere. I would write something I felt was exciting and well-written only to hear back from an editor, “No. If you’re going to spend such effort, write a letter to your grandmother.” Comments like that!

I knew they were wrong and I was going to prove it. However, one day I realized that I learn differently than other people. I very much needed to sit at the feet of Socrates and listen to him talk and speak directly to me, and provide me with personal feedback, criticism, tough love, whatever you want to call it. This is when I entered a low-residency graduate program to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree. I worked 1-on-1 with award-winning writers who critiqued my work and showed me the many errors of my ways and showed me writing technics that immediately made me a better writer. They sped up the learning curve, and before I knew it, I was a team of horses firing on all cylinders (that’s a mixed metaphor, which I love doing because high school teachers hate it). It wasn’t Socrates, but it was a close second. I worked with three wonderful poets who individually helped me become a better poet and fiction writer.

On Monday, I will continue with part two and provide my secrets to writing that work for me.

Is there a part of your background driving your writing?
_____________________________________________________
William Walsh is the director of the M.F.A. program at Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia. He is also a southern narrative poet in the tradition of James Dickey, David Bottoms, and Fred Chappell. He also attended Southaven High School in Mississippi. His English teach, Frances McGuffey asked him to read Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat, who seven years earlier gave the same book to another student, John Grisham. She deserves a lot of credit because it changed his reading life and appreciation for fiction. In 2018, his new collection of poems, Fly Fishing In Times Square, will be published. Recently, his novels The Boomerang Mattress and Haircuts for the Dead were Finalists and Semi-Finalists in the William Faulkner Pirate Alley Prize. As well, his novel, The Pig Rider, was Finalist in 2015. His most recent collection of poems is Lost In the White Ruins (2014). His other books include: Speak So I Shall Know Thee: Interviews with Southern Writers (McFarland, 1990); The Ordinary Life of a Sculptor (Sandstone, 1993); The Conscience of My Other Being (Cherokee Publishers, 2005); Under the Rock Umbrella: Contemporary American Poets from 1951-1977 (Mercer, 2006); and David Bottoms: Critical Essays and Interviews (McFarland, 2010).  His work has appeared in AWP Chronicle, Cimarron Review, Five Points, Flannery O’Connor Review, The Georgia Review, James Dickey Review, The Kenyon Review, Literary Matters, Michigan Quarterly Review, North American Review, Poetry Daily, Poets & Writers, Rattle, ShenandoahSlant, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. His literary interviews have been published in over fifty journals, and include, among others, Czeslaw Milosz, Joseph Brodsky, A.R. Ammons, Doris Betts, Pat Conroy, Harry Crews, James Dickey, Ariel Dorfman, Mark Doty, Rita Dove, Stephen Dunn, Eamon Grennan, Mary Hood, Edward Jones, Madison Jones, Donald Justice, Ursula Leguin, Andrew Lytle, and Lee Smith. **Mr. Walsh, photo is the work of  Karley Harmon


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Creating the Buzz for Your Book


By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine


You don’t hear much from John Grisham these days. He has scaled back from his hard charging book and movie promotion days and rightfully so. Once a writer reaches the stratosphere he is in one can cruise if you so desire. In an interview in recent years Grisham was seated in his home with the interviewer and TV production crew. During the interview there was the constant ringing of a phone in the distant background. It was notable enough that Grisham felt it should be addressed. He explained that was the phone of his assistant. He went on to say he had let his assistant go years ago so he just lets the phone ring. I would say that is scaling it back.

That was why I was surprised to see on Grisham’s mailing list this week a promotion he had done for a fellow writer’s upcoming book. Grisham began by reminiscing about it being 27 years since the release of The Firm. He explained how he had been told by the folks at Doubleday of the great buzz around the book but he had no idea what to expect. As we know the book found an audience and was a big seller. He then went on to say every few years another debut author comes along and has that same buzz as he experienced with The Firm. Grisham said he gets excited for these writers and buys their book. But as we all know not all reach the best seller list.

Grisham went on to share the name of the book, the author, its genre and release date. He assured us that if we read the first chapter we will not be able to put it down. As short and to the point as it was it was powerful. Remembering this is a debut, aka unknown, author, the title means little or I should say less than the genre and the release date is of no consequence because there is no anticipation. But this is at the recommendation of a known author, a writer that knows a good book. His recommendation alone carries a lot of weight. If he can get us to buy the book and read the entire first chapter that in itself is a feat. It is said the average book is bought and only the first 10 pages are read so the entire first chapter is a push. And to make it easy you can order the book here. Not actually here but in his text was the word here in red. By clicking on it you could place the order. Deal closed. Excellent! 

Grisham was helping create a buzz for this debut author and their book. Why? Could be for money? Could it be a part of his contract with his publisher is to promote others contracted with the same publisher? Could it be that Grisham genuinely liked the book and was sending the elevator back down? It could be one or all of these that motivate the endorsement. No matter, the end effect is the buzz, the selling of books and the success of the debut author. It is the business of selling books. Any of us should be so fortunate to have such an endorsement. By the way Grisham did get in a plug for the 27th anniversary of his book The Firm.

       

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How I Began Writing



By Jim Farrell


I always wanted to write and began working on a novel (working title: The Scare Was Passed On) in 1973 when I returned from Vietnam. It was a story about a young boy (me?) growing up in Brooklyn and Long Beach, NY, in the 40's and 50's. The original story told how his close family fell apart when the maternal grandmother died. I completed approximately 300 typewritten pages, and carried them with me until I retired in 2011. At that time, I decided to finish the novel and dedicate it to my grandson to let him know what it was like when his grandfather was growing up in Brooklyn.

The novel changed much in the revision. The story of the family dying when the maternal grandmother died was still there, but it was only one of three themes in the new novel. The other two: the conflict between a strong mother and a son trying to find his way in life, and the developing love interest between the hero, Little Brian Farley, and a Puerto Rican classmate, Anita Sanchez. This friendship was not acceptable to the boy's Irish-German mother.

There was a young, pretty Puerto Rican girl in my class in grade school, but I could not remember her name. We were friends, but no more than that. My wife and I bought a house in Florida in 2013, and I came down four months before my wife due to different closing times. I brought everything of value to me with me when I drove down. When my wife finally arrived, she brought a box of my keepsakes that I had forgotten. In that box were my grade school graduation booklet from St. Augustine's School in Brooklyn and the autograph book from eighth grade.

The Puerto Rican girl was Matilda Olivero, and the novel, finally titled Brooklyn Boy, was dedicated to my grandson and Matilda. I have not been able to find her.
______________________________________________________________________ 
Jim Farrell moved to Florida in June of 2013. After arriving, he completed his first novel, Brooklyn Boy, a semi-autobiographical novel about a young boy growing up in the 1940s and 1950s in Brooklyn and Long Beach, NY. Jim published a second book, a collection of short stories, Kiss Me, Kate and Other Stories. KMK is set in a variety of locations and illustrates the depth of the human spirit, the importance of laughter and the miracle of love. Bill Reynolds, columnist for the Providence Journal, recommended the book in one of his columns. His other books include: The Extraordinary Banana Tree, Mikey’s Quest for Father God,  The Barge of Curiosity, and The Committee and Other Stories. Jim is a member of the Florida Writers' Association, and has published a short story in their magazine. He also published a short non-fiction piece in The Sun, a literary magazine published in Chapel Hill, NC. His books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. They are also available in the Flagler County Library in Palm Coast, the Flagler Beach Library, the Deltona Library, and the Volusia County Library.



Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Plug Thy Neighbor


 by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine



If the golden rule of writing is to do unto other writers as you would have them do unto you, that's a pretty easy assignment.  It could be summed up thusly: good will, good wishes, and a good plug.

The majority of authors are expected to do most, if not all, of their own publicity.  So it's a helpful shot in the arm when a fellow author offers their endorsement. When someone says, "So-and-so's new mystery is a page-turner I stayed up all last night to read," that's a convincing testimonial.

We all spend time propping up our platforms, building our branding, and staying savvy with social media.  We sometimes forget how easy it is and how good it can feel to use these same resources to promote others.

Every time we post a positive comment on someone's blog, we're not only increasing our own Klout ranking (that is, our online "social impact score") but we're helping that author increase theirs as well.  On social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook, sharing the posts of others offers that same benefit to both parties.

Simply "liking" a comment supports others through our endorsement, too.  When scanning both Twitter and Facebook, it's gratifying to be reminded of how readily authors congratulate each other on their every victory, from a new release to a word count commitment realized.

Our own websites can be a medium for marketing our pen mates.  Since one of my passions is songwriting, my site (www.garyfearon.com) has a page where I ask songwriters about their music and post the videos of the songs they discuss.  Because we all share a love of writing songs, it's a good fit for my site.

Other authors, like our editor Susan Reichert, promote others via a blog format.  Since 2014 Susan has posted over 60 interviews with writers at her website https://authorsvisits.com.

And, of course, blogs like the very one you're reading combine regular contributors and guest posters in a collaborative effort in which everyone shares some of the spotlight, resulting in a variety of valuable information which we all benefit from.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank you for the comments you leave here on Suite T, as well as the positive plugs you give Southern Writers elsewhere.  Not a week goes by that the magazine doesn't get an email from someone who heard good things about us from another author. Word of mouth is as effective as any of the above methods, and is perhaps the most honest and spontaneous of all.

"It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed," said Napoleon Hill.  Enjoy propping up your publishing pals and reaping the rewards of this literal (and literary) truth.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Writing Goals for 2018


By Maritza Martinez Mejia


I believe goals for the New Year need to be based on achievements rather than failures.

Getting close to a New Year, let's reflect with a GRATEFUL heart on the challenges, failures, surprises, successes, and learning experiences from 2017. With that in mind,
what are your writing goals for the coming year?

I love to plan, prepare and project a blessed year with some easy ideas that may help you find the right path for a successful New Year’s beginning.  Step by step you can reach far.

1.    Use Dream Boards, also called Vision Boards to remind you the path you desire to follow, and the goals you hope to achieve during the upcoming year using the power of images.  For detailed information visit here.

2.   Planners or Calendars help to be organized by marking important due dates, meetings, and conferences or any important days you don’t want to miss. There a vast variety of calendars and planners. Which one is your best planner or calendar? I frankly use the calendar I received at the New Year’s Mass at my local church. I use it as MASTER CALENDAR. I mark all my children’s important activities in black pen. I use blue pen for my working days and purple for my book signing or book exhibitions. Finally, I use a red pen for important family activities, and green for TRIPS.


3.   Monthly Check List for a simple way to mark important dates in a list by month. After the task is done, you cross it off the list with a red pen. For me, the satisfaction of completing a task is unique. It gives me energy to keep going!


No matter the style you use, it is important to get organized and set goals to achieve success on your writing goals. Have a productive 2018!

_______________________________________________________________
Maritza Martínez Mejía ia Mother, Educator, Bilingual Author and Translator -Website: www.luzdelmes.com Recipient of the Crystal Apple Award 2006, VCB Poetry Winner 2015, The Latino Book Awards 2016 and Author’s Talk Book Show 2017. Five Books published and articles posted on Southern Writers Magazine and La Nota Latina. Graduated from Colegio Mayor de Cundinamarca in Commerce and Foreign Language and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities and Women’s Studies from Florida Atlantic University. Maritza writes to inspire others to be better persons. ~ Escribo para inspirar a otros a ser mejor. #LuzDelMes - https://en.gravatar.com/luzdelmes

Friday, January 19, 2018

How I Stay in the Audience


By D.M. Pulley


My sister always asks me, “What do you mean you don’t know what will happen next in the story? How can you not know what the characters will do? You’re the writer!” Well, let me try to explain.

I do all my writing in a cushy recliner the sales person called a “snuggler,” which sits in a sunbeam in my living room, whenever there is sun in Cleveland anyway. I like to huddle under a warm blanket, grab my laptop, and kick up my feet like I’m about to watch a movie. Some writers prefer the professional atmosphere of an office, but my office is reserved for storing the kids' hand-me-downs and piling up random papers no one wants. After a decade working as an engineer hunched over a keyboard at a modular desk, I prefer comfort. Besides, writing is more like going to the movies than a job for me. Even though there’s hard work involved, most days I sit back, relax, and daydream the story.

What the heck does that mean? Well, it takes a good ten minutes of typing to forget the chair, the living room, my dog, and the feel of my hands on the keyboard. It’s the same hypnotism that makes you forget a movie exists only on a small screen as it sucks you in despite a roomful of distractions. It’s the mental shift that allows you to escape into a really good book and forget you left the oven on (or that you have kids). This state of reverie lets me tune out everything else and be inside the character I’m writing, see what he sees, and feel what he feels. It’s like having a vivid dream or nightmare and watching helplessly as your imagination runs wild. Don’t go into that room! But there you are, opening the door.

In this dream-state, the story just unfolds. Don't get me wrong. At different moments every day I have to get up off my comfy chair and storm around the set like a Hollywood director in a scarf and funny hat, clapping my hands impatiently. Something needs to happen here, people! You. Where are you going? What the heck is your motivation in this scene? Take an acting class! And can someone please get this guy a knife? Who’s on props here? No one likes it, props crash to the ground, and it takes several minutes of loud aimless typing for the actors and me to settle back down into the story.

Fortunately, most of the time my characters know what they’re doing. I set the scene, and then sit back in my snuggler and watch the show. My cast is working without a script, but we have the characters down and we know where the story is heading--well sort of. As any director will tell you, some of the best moments come when you give the actors the freedom to improvise.
_________________________________________________________________
Before becoming a full-time writer, D.M. Pulley worked as a Professional Engineer, rehabbing historic structures and conducting forensic investigations of building failures. Pulley’s structural survey of a vacant building in Cleveland inspired her debut novel, The Dead Key, the winner of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The disappearance of a family member formed the basis for her second historical mystery, The Buried Book. Pulley’s third novel, The Unclaimed Victim, delves into the dark history behind Cleveland's Torso Killer. She lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a dog named Hobo, and she is hard at work on her fourth book. My social networking links are below (@DMPulleyAuthor), my website is www.dmpulley.com,
 Facebook Twitter DMPulley.com




Thursday, January 18, 2018

Writers, Research and TED Talks


By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine


The wintry weather keeping me housebound has provided an opportunity for me to delve into TED talks. I’ve found these very helpful and interesting, so, instead of hibernating, I used the snow days to catch a couple of authors sharing their advice. 

“TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”

The collection of TED talks from  11 authors talking will inspire you. “These well-known writers weave beautiful words on the page … and on the stage.” Here is the link.

All you have to do is sign up for free, log in, and view the authors that interest you.  

TEDs are little video monologues. Have you ever needed to research a subject from an expert? You can probably find a TED talk on the subject. Plus, you can watch TED talks in your pj’s, by a cozy fire with a steaming cup of coffee from the comfort of your own home. 

One of my favorites is when author, Tracy Chevalier looks at paintings, she imagines the stories behind them: How did the painter meet his model? What would explain that look in her eye? Why is that man ... blushing? She shares three stories, inspired by portraits, including the one that led to her best-selling novel Girl With a Pearl Earring.  Here is link.

Have you viewed TED talks? 

What’s your favorite? 




Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Creature Comforts—Bringing Animals into Your Fiction


By Cathy Cruise


Love animals?
Well, who doesn’t? When I’m writing, I’m surrounded by them. My dog’s bed is squeezed beneath my desk so I can rub him with my feet. My parakeet likes to walk on my keyboard and peck at letters. And if I sit down without tossing a carrot into their cage first, my guinea pigs “wheek” at me while I’m working.
But somehow, animals never made the jump from my real life to my fiction—until I wrote my first book. Once I decided to include a dog in A Hundred Weddings, everything changed. Not only did it just make me happy to play with this little guy on the pages, it also gave me comfort, helped me dream more, and let me breathe life into my narrative. If you’re thinking of including an animal in your story, I offer you a big fist-bump. Because animals offer:
Security
Novels are big, lonely worlds. Even if you’ve populated yours with all the people you can dream up, you’re still generally at the top of that world, making all the grand decisions. And, as they say, it’s lonely at the top. I think I conjured a little dog to curl up with in A Hundred Weddings to keep me confident while I crafted my story and lived inside it. It’s like having your pet go with you to check out that weird noise in the basement. Once you see him happily trotting downstairs and making his way through the dark, you can relax and follow, and flip on the light.
Liveliness
Vincent in A Hundred Weddings is based on my dog, Scamp. But Vincent is decidedly more devious. He chews, bites, steals, and runs away. And he’s delectably fun to write about. Animals let you cut loose in ways human characters can’t. And their antics can reflect the emotion of a scene, mirror or offset a character’s personality, or just break up tension with a bit of needed humor. When I got stuck writing a scene in my book, I brought the dog in. Instantly, he made everything more authentic and alive. Strangely enough, I didn’t always plan his entrance. Just like in real life, he’d wander in, leap onto someone’s lap, and knock over a lamp. Ahh. The scene was picking up already.
All the Feels
Animals pack a powerful nurturing response that invests readers in a story like little else can. Take Hedwig in the Harry Potter books—patient, watchful, reassuring. A pretty minor player overall, yet she helped Harry through some of his darkest moments. And oh, was there ever a more heartbreaking scene than her last one? Maybe in Black Beauty? Old Yeller?
Sniff. I can’t even go there.
So if you’re looking to liven up your writing, consider adding an animal to the mix. As for me, I’m hard at work on novel number two. And even though I’m only 50 pages in, two dogs have already appeared, and I sense a cat lurking in the corner. While I dig my toes a little deeper into Scamp’s coat and bang away at my keyboard, I’m getting to know these furry friends and am eager to explore this brand new world with them.
But first, a carrot for the guinea pigs.
________________________________________________________________
Cathy Cruise’s first novel, A Hundred Weddings, was published in December 2016. Her fiction has appeared in journals such as American FictionBlue Mesa ReviewNew Virginia Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review. Awards include a New Rivers Press 2015 American Fiction prize, for which she received a Pushcart nomination; honorable mention in Glimmer Train's 2017 Very Short Fiction and 2014 Family Matters contests; and a 2001 Washington Independent Writers Award for Short Fiction. She works as an editor in Virginia where she lives with her husband and two children. She’s also co-author of the blog Write DespitePlease visit her website at www.cathycruise.com


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Generating Book Success


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


There are many ways to market and sell a book which makes it easy to get sidetracked. However, authors can’t afford to spread themselves thin; if they do, they lose valuable time that must be spent writing their book. In writing, it isn’t which came first, the chicken or the egg; the writing comes first.

I want to share with you something I’ve found that is helpful to writers. Looking back at the year; as we do, list down the sales and marketing avenues you’ve used. Then, out by the side of each one note whether it was hard, time consuming or both. If you determine it was, then search for an easier and quicker way.  It may take some research but eventually you will find a few things.

Can you determine what was productive? Some people think they are only productive if they sell a lot of books, but in truth, they are productive if a lot of people throughout the year were exposed to their name, the fact they’re an author and the title of their book. You see, people can’t buy the book, if they don’t know the author’s name or the title of the book. They have to know one or the other.

Can you imagine going to Barnes and Noble and telling the clerk, “I want to buy a book, can’t remember the author, but she writes women’s contemporary books, I think her name may start with an M or a S.” You won’t be able to give them the title of the book either, so how are they going to find it?

What I am suggesting is focusing on name recognition. Why? Look at it this way. A company makes many products; each product has a name. But you will notice these companies are branding their names first, their product’s name second.

Examples: Apple, Ford, Nike. These companies are branded. Everyone in the world recognizes their names immediately. They come out with new products. People know what to expect from them. That is what you want. Name recognition.

Visit the website of these companies’ home pages and notice how they branded their name.  https://about.nike.com/; https://www.apple.com/; http://corporate.ford.com/company.html.
By building and branding the author’s name people will recognize and find the author’s books. 

Remember you will write more books; but there is only one you.
.
.