"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, April 29, 2013


Zoetrope: All-Story is a magazine specializing in the best of contemporary short fiction. They boast a circulation of approximately 20,000 (in 2012).

Before submitting, non-subscribers should read several issues of the magazine to determine if their works fit with All-Story. Electronic versions of the magazine are available to read, in part, at the website; and print versions are available for purchase by single-issue order and subscription.

They consider unsolicited submissions of short stories and one-act plays no longer than 7,000 words. Excerpts from larger works, screenplays, treatments, and poetry will be returned unread. They do not accept artwork or design submissions. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, and first serial rights and a one-year film option are required. They do not accept unsolicited revisions nor respond to writers who don't include an SASE.

All-Story does not accept submissions between September 1 and December 31 (with the exception of stories entered in the annual Short Fiction Contest, which are considered for publication in the magazine).

All-Story does not accept submissions via e-mail. Send stories to:

Zoetrope: All-Story
Attn: Fiction Editor
916 Kearny St.
San Francisco, CA 94133

They invite writers to take advantage of the Virtual Studio, a free online writers' workshop sponsored by All-Story and its publisher, Francis Coppola. Writers are encouraged to support the small and independent publications to which they submit; magazines such as All-Story depend on subscriptions to survive, ensuring forums for publication of new and emerging writers.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


So many of us wish we had started and/or taken our writing seriously at a young age. If you or someone you know is still in school K-12 and college, there are lessons and markets just for you.
One of my favorites is Hope Clark’s FREE WritingKid newsletter. This letter is mailed out biweekly to ANYONE interested and is full of advice, markets, submissions, contests and more just for ages five through college (some adult as well). To learn more about it or view a sample:  http://www.fundsforwriters.com/writingkid/
Another site for the young, parents and teachers is http://www.newpages.com/npguides/young_authors_guide.htm

There are many places students can learn more and get published FREE of charge. I only wish I had learned to focus and knew about these kinds of opportunities when I was young.
Do you recommend any sites or sources for young writers?

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote about a fictional land named Xanadu in his poem Kubla Khan. I really like the feel of these lines when I read them. How about you?


In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree:

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round:

And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. (lines 1-11)

Friday, April 26, 2013


Literary Agent Donald Maass has created another quality writing book showing that engaging writing must be deeply personal to snag and maintain the reader.

"Capture the minds, hearts, and imaginations of 21st century readers! Whether you're a commercial storyteller or a literary novelist, whether your goal is to write a best-selling novel or captivate readers with a satisfying, beautifully written story, the key to success is the same: high-impact fiction. Writing 21st Century Fiction will help you write a novel for today's readers and market, filled with rich characters, compelling plots, and resonant themes. Author and literary agent Donald Maass shows you how to: Create fiction that transcends genre, conjures characters who look and feel more real" than real people, and shows readers the work around them in new ways. Infuse every page with an electric current of emotional appeal and micro-tension. Harness the power of parallels, symbols, metaphors, and more to illuminate your novel in a lasting way. Develop a personalized method of writing that works for you. With an arsenal of thought-provoking prompts and questions, plus plenty of examples from best-selling titles, Writing 21st Century Fiction will strip away your preconceived notions about writing in today's world and give you the essential tools you need to create fiction that will leave both readers and critics in awe."
Have you read this or any other book by Maass? What did you think?

Thursday, April 25, 2013


VOCABULA WELL-WRITTEN WRITING CONTEST http://www.vocabula.com/popupads/VRWritingContest.asp NO ENTRY FEE. The Vocabula Well-Written Writing Contest is open to all. Write 200 to 500 words of readable, well-written, even beautiful writing. Work already published, to include on the Internet, is not welcome. Deadline May 31, 2013. Fiction and nonfiction. No poetry. First prize $200. Second prize $100. Third prize $50. First-, second-, and third-place winners, as well as all honorable mentions, will also receive a year-long subscription to The Vocabula Review. Winning entries will be announced in July or August, and published in the September issue of The Vocabula Review.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Uniquely Unexpected

Readers hate obvious storylines and cookie cutter characters. We’ve all heard people complain “There are no original stories, everything has been done.” If that is true, why are readers still purchasing books?

Your story will automatically be unique because you as an individual are unique. You’ll create stand out characters based on your own dreams and fears. You can make them even more unique by giving them an unexpected quality, either in their appearance, abilities, or quirks.

But how do you create an unexpected ending? How do you keep the reader from guessing what will happen? Hopefully, you are creating so much tension and there is so much at stake that the reader can’t see an out for your characters. However, your ending still needs to be believable on some level.

So, how do you accomplish this?                        

1)      Write down the ending you expect.

2)      Cross it out and don’t allow yourself to use this ending.

3)      Come up with at least three alternate endings.

4)      Choose the best one or some combination for a twist.

Remember, your story will be as unique as you are, but blow it up. Make the characters and plot bigger than life. Just remember fiction readers want believability not reality. Good luck and Happy Writing!

How have you struggled with uniqueness? What have you done to make your work better?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


The TAPESTRY OF BRONZE ODES TO OLYMPIANS is holding their spring contest: http://www.tapestryofbronze.com/OdeForm.html
They are sponsoring a series of traditional poetry contests to celebrate Greek and Roman mythology and the Olympian gods. The subject of the current contest is Hephaestus (also known as Vulcan), the God of the Forge.
The deadline is April 30, 2013. Limit 30 lines. MAKE SURE your poem is about Hephaestus / Vulcan. The first prize winner in each age group will receive $50 (US). Categories are over 18 and under 18. No entry fee.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Southern Writers Magazine

I'm a contributing writer for Southern Writers magazine. This magazine will celebrate its two year anniversary in July. Each issue interviews and articles by experts on book marketing, promotion, branding, blogging, and more.

You can order a digital or a print version of this magazine. While a bit expensive at 10.99 (plus shipping) per print issue or one year (six issues) for 49.99 (plus shipping), this magazine is printed in beautiful and high quality. The digital version is a bit cheaper at 7.99 an issue.

Have you perused an issue of this magazine yet? What did you think?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Resume for the Writer

A writing-specific resume is a good thing to have on your website in case interested industry professionals stop by. It’s also good to have one for record-keeping, as well as being handy for those occasions when an agent or publisher requests one (it does happen).

If you are ready to create your own, you might try something similar to the below.

This Is My Name
1234 Address, City, ST
Phone #

  • To obtain (fill in the blank: representation, publication, fame, fortune, etc.) for my (fill in name of work being submitted).

  • 2004 Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Top University.

Work History

  • Freelance Writer (details, dates, clients)
  • Writer at Company Name (dates and details)

General Experience

  • 2013 President of Best Writers Group Ever
  • 2000-2004 Freelance Writer for college publication.

  • World’s Best Novel September 2013


  • “Poem 1,” “Poem 2,” “Poem 3,” The Literary Magazine  Fall/Winter 2012
  • “Short Story,” Anthology, Publisher, 2011
  • "Flash Fiction," Fiction Blog, June 2011
  • "Novella," Small Press, June 2011 
  • “Poem 4,” "Poem 5," “Poem 6,” Prize Poem Anthology, Big Organization, May 2011 
  • “Micro Fiction,” Well-Known Blog, March 2011
  • “Creative Nonfiction Short,” Prize Winning Anthology, Credible Institution 2010


  • Daily Planet – “Nonfiction Article” - photos and text – 2013


  • Gator Talk – January 2012 to present (monthly column).

Online Credits

  • My Blog – More than 350 posts - 2010 to present.
  • So an So Magazine  - "Great Article" – January 2013.

 Writing Awards/Honors/Activities/Affiliations

  • 1st place for form poetry in the National Writing Contest, 2010
  • 1st place for creative nonfiction story in Credible Institution Award, 2010
  • 2nd place in Memoriam Name Award, State Poetry Society annual contest, 2010
  • Winner of Sunburst Award, September 2010 
  • member, National Poetry Organization, 2009-present
  • President, Local Writers Critique Group, 2009-present
  • Officer, Genre Fiction Club of State, 2007-present
  • Served as a judge for Such and Such Contest, 2011
  • Key Note Speaker at Nice Folks Writing Conference, 2010

 Interviews/Speaking Engagements
  • Writers Group – Lake Charles, LA – “Power of Research and the Interview” – February 2013.
  • Writers Group- Beaumont, TX – “Social Media’s Impact” – December 2012.


  • Professional horse racer, 2000-2009 (if project uncovers scandalous truth of racing)
  • Master Plumber Certification, Accreditation Agency, 1998-present (writes about pipes)

 Author’s Platform/Social Media Presence

  • Over 5,000 loyal blog subscribers at FamousWebsite.com (i.e., Nathan Bransford)
  • Twitter following of well over 30,000 (Don’t even think of using this unless it’s HUGE)

 Conferences Attended:
  • Bayou Writers Group – 2010, 2011, 2012
  • Jambalaya Writers Jubilee – 2012, 2013

Personal References Available Upon Request
Is your resume posted online? Leave a link below if you don't mind sharing with those still learning to make one.

Friday, April 19, 2013


“Don't let a single day go by without writing. Even if it's garbage, if garbage is all you can write, write it. Garbage eventually becomes compost with a little treatment.”  - Anonymous

“I write for the same reason I breathe. If I didn’t, I would die.” – Isaac Asimov

“Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work more visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.” – Elie Wiesel

“Writers don’t need to be given formulas; they need to be shown possibilities.” – Barry Lane

“If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you.” – Natalie Goldberg

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader. Not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” – E.L. Doctorow

“The two most engaging powers of an author are, to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.” – Samuel Johnson

“The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.” – Mark Twain

“Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.” – Orson Scott Card

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” – Maya Angelou

“The first draft reveals the art, revision reveals the artist.” – Michael Lee

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, award winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux’s writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Her website: http://pamelathibodeaux.com

She is the Co-founder and a member of the Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana and Director of The Wordsmith Journal – “the premier magazine for lovers of the written word” - http://www.thewordsmithjournalmagazine.com/contact-us.html

I recently read her short story Lori's Redemption. As with her books, I found it absolutely wonderful and my only complaint would be that it ended too quickly.
If you enjoy Inspirational or Christian fiction, you simply MUST read Pamela Thibodeaux.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Overcoming Challenges

Chicken Soup for the Soul is looking for submissions to a new book about overcoming challenges.

“Life is filled with challenges. We have all gone through trying times and have had to overcome difficult situations. We would like to know what challenges you have faced in your life and what you did to overcome them. Are you recovering from health problems, financial difficulties or the loss of a loved one? What changes did you make to help you cope with these issues and turn negative into positive? Your stories will give our readers inspiration and insight into how others are coping and let them know that there is hope even in adversity. The deadline for story and poem submissions is October 31, 2013.”
For more information or to submit: http://www.chickensoup.com/form.asp?cid=possible_books

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Noble Groom

It’s official. Jody Hedlund is a master of conflict. Man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. nature, man vs. self… her newest book has them all. I loved A Noble Groom.

Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered, but can't prove it. Alone with her young daughter and pregnant with a second child in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract on her farm. The land is difficult to toil by herself, a drought and wildfires increase the danger to her family, and a greedy land owner wants to force the purchase of her land. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichert, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He's been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn't commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he'll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa's farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.

Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He's gentle, kind, and romantic--unlike any of the men she's ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love--but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.
What I love most about Hedlunds books is her ability to completely immerse the reader in the tale. I empathize with the heroine, fall in love with the hero, and despise the villain(s). Her lengthy research and knowledge of the time period is obvious and naturally employed to give the reader an honest depiction of life for her characters. I absolutely hate for her books to end.

I highly recommend A Noble Groom and eagerly anticipate the release of her next novel in September.

Monday, April 15, 2013


There are many markets available to writers. Here are just a few. Please remember to always check submission guidelines before you send your work.

YOGA JOURNAL http://www.yogajournal.com/general_customer_service/about/editorial_subs_guidelines/ Yoga Journal covers the practice and philosophy of yoga. We welcome professional queries for the follow departments: Om. This front-of-the-book section covers myriad aspects of the yoga lifestyle. These short (150- to 400-word) reported pieces are largely freelance written. This department includes Yoga Diary, a 250-word story about a pivotal moment in your yoga practice.  Eating Wisely. A popular, 1,400-word department about relationship to food. Most stories focus on vegetarian and whole-foods cooking, nutritional healing, and contemplative pieces about the relationship between yoga and food. Well Being. This 1,200-word department presents reported pieces about the integration of a regular yoga practice and health. E-mail a well-written query to queries@yjmag.com. Pays $50 to $2,000.

ZOETROPE - http://www.all-story.com/ We consider unsolicited submissions of short stories and one-act plays no longer than 7,000 words. All-Story does not accept submissions between September 1 and December 31. Pays $1,000.

ACTIVE AGING http://www.activeagingonline.com/ContactUs/  The source for news for and about people 55 and better in Sedgwick, Harvey and Butler counties for more than 33 years. Topics include senior lifestyle, profiles, interviews, nostalgia, travel, health. Query first. Articles are 750 to 1,000 words and pays ten cents/word.

AMBASSADOR MAGAZINE http://www.niaf.org/about/contact.asp  Query with clips. Provides information about all things Italian American. Covers personalities, food, film, culture, travel and Italy. Articles are 1,000 to 1,500 words. Pays $300 plus $50 for photos. Query don@niag.org - editor Don Oldenburg.

ONE STORY http://www.one-story.com/index.php?page=guidelines One Story is seeking literary fiction. Because of our format, we can only accept stories between 3,000 and 8,000 words. One Story is offering $250 and 25 contributors copies for first North American serial rights. We accept submissions from September 1 through May 31.

WHIDBEY STUDENT CHOICE CONTEST http://whidbeystudents.com/student-choice-contest/student-choice-contest-rules/ NO ENTRY FEE The contest is open to all writers of any age and at any stage of their writing careers. The competition is open to short-form manuscripts of 1,000 words or fewer in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and children/young adults. Held monthly. Winners will be notified by email and a $50 check sent by US post.

ZAMOOF! MAGAZINE http://zamoofmag.com/for-grown-ups.php?bp=3165 Submissions are welcome from youth readers or their parents/care givers. Send letters, short stories up to 800 words, poetry, craft ideas, recipes, puzzles, jokes.

STUFF KIDS WRITE http://stuffkidswrite.com/ Please share with us! We are seeking funny notes, cards, letters, or stories kids have written. Submissions can be current (scribbled yesterday) or ancient (pulled from the preschool file).

GREYSTONE http://mygreystone.wordpress.com/submit/ GREYstone, a subdivision of BRICKrhetoric, is now accepting submissions of poetry, artwork, flash fiction, photography and scientific art from students {and teachers} K-12 for our quarterly online publication which comes out in the months of February, May, August & November. Submissions are accepted year-round, and submissions to multiple genres are permitted.

The First Line - http://www.thefirstline.com/ The submission topic changes every three months. Summer: “I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old.” Due date: May 1, 2013.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Linda Yezak: Author and Acquisitions Editor

Linda Yezak is a Content and Acquisitions Editor for Port Yonder Press. She is also representing Hartline Literary Agent Terry Burns. Yezak is also a published author and her personal blog can be found: http://lindayezak.com/

PYP wants family friendly manuscripts in every genre except romance. Family friendly isn't as strict as it might sound. Think PG-13. Some mild language is allowed, mysteries can involve murder (but gore is not welcome), non-sexual romantic scenes are allowed in genres that aren't focused on romance. PYP IS NOT looking for Christian content right now, but they aren't disregarding it. Creative nonfiction is welcome, exceptional memoirs are possible, but she is not not looking for devotionals or poetry. Poets can query directly to the PYP site: http://portyonderpress.com/

Do you have an editor or agent representing your own manuscripts? I landed agent Terry Burns with the Hartline Literary Agency for The Cat Lady’s Secret (Snoopy dance!). Last year, we decided to postpone pitching Cat Lady since I became seriously ill. I hope we can resume this year.
Would you care to share your opening (hook) with us? Love to! This is from The Cat Lady’s Secret:

I’d spent the morning hunting feral cats with my long-handled fish net and never caught so much as a glimpse of fur. Apparently, downtown Dogwood, Texas, was plum out of homeless felines. After walking all over the town square, my feet were killing me. The bench nestled in the shadow of the courthouse clock beckoned me with a promise to ease my load, so I hobbled straight to it.

Still wearing her green apron, Annie Crawley rushed out of the Down Home Diner and quick-stepped across the red brick street, just beating the traffic light. She swiped mud-brown hair from her eyes, mouthed “Hi, Millie” at me, and plopped on the other end of my bench with a phone at her ear. Her place on the bench suited me fine, because I could eavesdrop. And judging by the angle of her brows over her nose, I certainly needed to. If anyone could help her with whatever had etched those stress lines around her eyes, it was me. Well, me and Emily Taylor. But Annie didn’t need to know about Em. No one did.
I see you are already working on another MS. Can you tell me a little about it? When I get a chance to work on it, I’m writing the first in the “Family First Series,” a romance called Southern Challenge. I read a book by Ronda Rich called, What Southern Women Know About Flirting and fell in love with the image she presented, so the idea for this first book came from a character type I wanted to explore. Southern Challenge is set in the horse world. A “challenge” is a competition for, among other things, young cutting horses. My characters will play the love games of elude and approach while they train a spirited young Quarter Horse for the competitions.

Also in the works is the women's fiction drama Corporate Ladder about a young woman who is so determined never to be poor again, she goes to an opposite extreme—a ruthless climb up the ladder in a quest to become filthy rich. The challenge with this one is to maintain sympathy for my main character, who, admittedly, isn't always sympathetic.
When working on your current MS did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing? I always just start writing, but after a few chapters, I begin sketching out a loose outline–which makes me a Hybrid in the SOTP/Outline debate. I’m not an outliner, other than what I carry in my head and jot on various slips of paper, but I do try to keep a structure template in mind. Larry Brooks’s is my favorite (found in his Story Structure Demystified). It extends James Scott Bell’s a bit, but Jim’s is great too (Plot and Structure, one of Writers Digest's “Write Great Fiction” series). I’d never survive Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method–far too in-depth of an outline for me.

What do you do when you have writer's block? I try writing something else for a while–anything else. I have tons of “first scenes” in a computer file waiting for me to develop them into novels.  Often, writer’s block strikes when something’s not quite right with the manuscript, and your inner editor won’t let you continue until you fix it. If you can’t get your muse and your editor to agree on how to fix the problem, you get stymied. Separation from the WIP usually helps, but to stop writing only makes the problem worse. The longer you put off writing, the easier it is to simply not do it. So I don’t recommend not writing, just write something different for a while.
 What is your writing and editing process like and how do you balance being both an editor and an author?  I’m a morning person, but since my husband doesn’t go to work until the afternoon, I’ve learned there’s no point getting too engrossed in anything until he’s out the door. Generally, I wake up at four, answer my emails and do some networking and promoting after my Bible study, write whatever blog posts are required, then wake him up around seven or eight. Once he’s settled into his day, I edit works for my clients and save my own writing and editing for when he’s gone. I don’t set much in the line of goals, although I like to hit at least 1500 words a day. Problem with getting up so early is that I crash pretty early, too. Around six, I’m tuckered out. I usually drift to the bedroom around seven to read awhile, then fall asleep by eight or eight-thirty. No one will ever accuse me of being the life of the party!

Are you part of a critique group or writer's guild? I have several critique partners I can rely on. Each are talented in different ways, and together, they all produce a great critique of my work. Few things in this business are more vital than having a good critique partner, preferably one who is as good as or better than the writer. We never learn from those who tell us our work is fantastic, but don’t offer constructive criticism.
Have you ever attended a writer's conference? Absolutely – it’s the #2 vital-to-business element.  Conferences are great for learning and networking. In the larger conferences, agents, publishers, editors, and multi-pubbed authors all make themselves available for us newbies. No other experience is like it.

Advice for writers? Study the craft. Always strive to improve.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Kill Zone

The Kill Zone is the musings of 11 top thriller and mystery authors covering topics that inspire, anger, amuse, and entertain. Each day, they share what goes on inside their heads as they observe and write about the world around them. The Kill Zone is a doorway into the thriller and mystery writer’s mind. Enter at your own risk! http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jambalaya Writers' Conference

Terrebonne Parish Library System presents its 10th Annual Jambalaya Writers’ Conference & Book Fair. If you are interested in meeting some of your favorite authors or want to learn more about becoming an author yourself, this is the place for you! The day-long conference hosts many noted speakers from across the nation.

This years keynote speaker is Tim O’Brien. He is the author of the critically acclaimed fiction work, The Things They Carried, a story inspired by his experience in the Vietnam War. This book has been recognized by The Big Read, a National Endowment for the Art program designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. O’Brien is now a visiting professor and endowed chair at Southwest Texas State University where he teaches Creative Writing.
Other presenters include: Novelists Jennifer Blake (aka Patricia Maxwell), Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Heather Graham, non-fiction authors Carolyn Long and Shirley Laska, children’s authors Robert San Souci and Rose Anne St. Romain, poets Ava Leavell Haymon, Jay Udall, and William Bedford Clark. Nicholas Courage will share strategies for promoting written works. Literary agents Page Wheeler and Rachel Ekstrom and editors Rose Hilliard, Katherine DePalma, and Monique Patterson will be looking for fresh stories from new writers too! Download registration form here.

This conference only costs $35!
For the most current information see the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/jambalayawriters

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Will Survive

Call for Personal Stories of Survival, Inspired by Gloria Gaynor’s Song “I Will Survive”

Have you survived an illness, personal tragedy, abusive relationship, financial ruin, or other life experience that brought you to your knees? Did the song “I Will Survive,” by Grammy Award-winning songstress Gloria Gaynor, inspire you to rise, survive, and move forward? If so, we’d love to share your story in a new book of personal narrative essays that tell the story of how you survived the experience and how the song influenced your life (essential). We’re looking for real-life stories that read like fiction—similar to the stories in the Cup of Comfort book series, compiled and edited by Colleen Sell. The book will include 50 stories of 1,000-1,500 words each. For each essay selected for publication in the book, the author will receive $75, a complimentary copy of the book signed by Gloria Gaynor, and a signed photo of Ms. Gaynor. Submit by April 30, 2013, to glolo2004@me.com or susancarswell@aol.com

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hal Holbrook

Actor Hal Holbrook is at my local theater giving his highly respected stage performance of Mark Twain. Now 88, he began performing this role as a college student.

Holbrook's career has also crossed heavily into film and television. A multi-Emmy winner, at the age of 82 he became the oldest actor ever nominated for an Academy Award, for his performance in Into the Wild (2007).
I saw Holbrook’s rendition of Mark Twain when I was in high school and developed a love for the author that night. I look forward to seeing his show again. If you’ve never had the privilege of seeing this act, here is just one of many clips:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Genealogy Submission

Anyone interested in recording personal history can enter the 2013 Reminiscent Writing Contest. There is no entry fee. Any story that does not embarrass or harm anyone may be entered.

This year's theme is "What I’ve Discovered and Didn’t Know About My Ancestors". Entering a story into this contest helps you to create a family treasure for yourself and others.

Stories must be typed, double-spaced, and have no more than 1000 words or four pages. Use a cover sheet with your name, address, phone number, email address and the name of your story. Do NOT put your name on any pages of your story. You can turn in your story anytime on or before December 30, 2013.

The winner will be announced at the 2014 Reminiscent Reading Program. The first place winner will receive $25. All participants receive a copy of the book containing all of the stories.

For more information, call the SWLA Geanealogical and Historical Library (337) 721-7110. You can also email them gen@calcasieu.lib.la.us or visit www.calcasieulibrary.org You can also visit the library at 411 Pujo Street, Downtown Lake Charles.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

First Five

I just purchased this book after receiving multiple recommendations from other authors. This one is written by a Literary Agent whose clients include Pulitzer Prize nominees.

Have any of you read it? Was it helpful?

Friday, April 5, 2013


I’m working on line edits of one of my short stories. It’s the first science fiction piece I’ve written. Initial feedback has been very positive.

Unfortunately, the advice from critique partners and my editors are conflicting. Some want more description. Some want less. If you read my previous post you know how I feel about description.
However, like most writers, it’s easy to see what needs to be fixed in someone else’s work. What needs to be added and where they need to cut back. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to “fix” your own work. Especially when so many conflicting opinions join the chorus of doubts in your head.

I love my story. It’s simple, but powerful. However, I know it’s not quite ready. So, I’ve taken a break from it this week. This weekend I’ll return to it looking for DEEP POV issues (see here for more on this) as well as any description fixes.
How are your projects going? What works for you during the editing process?

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Any author, editor, or agent will tell you description is essential to a story. It’s what draws the reader into the story world, and gives them a sense of the person, place, and things you are sharing.

Teachers demand you appeal to the five senses and cause an emotional response in your reader. I believe this technique is misrepresented and usually not taught well. I’ve seen too many writers get bogged down in description and let’s face it: many readers will skim or pass over long passages without dialogue.
Instead of trying to get an emotional response from your readers, you want to cause a PHYSICAL reaction. We want to evoke such strong feelings of mood, atmosphere, and a defined moment that your reader physically reacts. A tear let loose, quickened breath and pulse, verbal expression… these are all physical reactions the reader experiences when caught up in a story.

So how do I cause this? First, remember it isn’t enough to see the details of a person, place, or thing. You need to share character feelings. Then, take it a step further and show the conflict in those feelings.
Anyone can describe a bride on her wedding day. Listing visions of white, cream, pink, smells of flowers and candles, hearing soft strains of music, the feel of the gowns material, the smell of perfume in the air… All of the senses are employed, but have I made my reader care? Unless I’ve hit a description that reminds her of one specific event then no, and even then it may not be the emotion you wanted from the reader.

Now, I need to share the characters emotions. Is she excited, nervous, scared, tired? Any of these would be understandable, but the best way to gain the readers participation in the event is to show conflict.
Perhaps the bride is excited about her wedding. She’s madly in love with the groom, but she’s never seen a marriage last. No one in her own family or circle of friends has stayed in a union for more than X number of years. She thinks about the children from such a union, and what it does to them during and after a divorce. She has second thoughts.

Or perhaps, she does not love the groom. Maybe a baby is the reason for the occasion. She’ll be thinking about pros versus the cons of marrying to give the baby a name and family while sacrificing her own dreams.
As Donald Maass, Literary Agent asserts in Writing 21st Century Fiction, “it isn’t enough for the character to own a home, we want to see it on Christmas morning when the roof collapses.”

You see? It isn’t just the descriptions appealing to the five senses, or the protagonists feelings, or the conflict of the scene. It’s the totality of the three that evokes a physical reaction. The scene will no longer be a place, but a personal world.
Does your own writing merely relate details dryly? Or does it engage the reader and cause a physical reaction?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cozy Mysteries and a Giveaway

Guest Post by Chrystle Fiedler

Reality is over rated. At least I think so. Instead, I find comfort escaping into the world of a cozy mystery. Before I wrote cozy mysteries, I read them, Agatha Christie’s tales of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes and Dashiell Hammett and watched them; Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse, and Murder, She Wrote which I’ve recently rediscovered on Hallmark TV.

Whether it’s in these pages or by watching these shows, I escape, like you do, to the coziness of quaint country villages, dappled country lanes, inviting stores on the high street, and of course, lovely rose covered cottages; inside, a cup of tea waiting.

Of course, the world of the cozy is in stark contrast to the murderous crimes committed there that shatter the peace and serenity. But we also know the detective will figure out the puzzle, catch the killer and put things back in their proper place. That’s incredibly satisfying to me as a writer as well, to have the power to put things back into balance.

My natural remedies mysteries are also set in a classic cozy setting, in this case, a real, idyllic fishing village on the East End of Long Island in NY called Greenport. When I was growing up the area was somewhat depressed but within the past two decades, Greenport has come into its own as a tourist destination with upscale eateries and boutiques, sandwiched between Mom and Pop hardware stores, diners and retro stores. Forbes magazine has even named Greenport one of the prettiest villages in the U.S.

I’ve always had an interest in natural medicine so I made my cozy protagonist, Willow McQuade, a naturopathic doctor who takes over a health food store – Nature’s Way Market & Café - after her Aunt Claire meets an untimely end. The store is located in a lovely 3 story yellow Victorian house across with a water view. Inside, it’s cozy too, with a homey feel, yummy cooking smells and the scent of essential oils, herbs and flower essences.

To complete my cozy universe, I gave Willow, a hunky ex-cop love interest named Jackson Spade, an adorable rescued dog and two rescued cats, loyal friends and workers and the spirit of her Aunt Claire to guide her.

Writing the natural remedies mysteries also gives me a wonderful chance to share what I’ve learned about natural cures with readers. It’s amazing what you can find in your kitchen and garden that can soothe and heal you. That’s a cozy feeling too.

In Scent to Kill, my latest natural remedies mystery cozy, I focus on the practice of aromatherapy, the use of essential oils to improve health and well-being. As I’m writing I can smell the lavender, jasmine and roses.

Whether I am writing my cozies, reading or watching them, I experience the same comfortable, homey, and safe feeling, knowing that no matter what happens, that all will be well in the end. Where else can you get that guarantee? Cozy mysteries are one of the best antidotes to reality I’ve found. How about you?

Here’s the scoop on Scent to Kill: A Natural Remedies Mystery

“Scent to Kill is a well-crafted mystery…Devotees of natural medicine and aromatherapy will enjoy the tips that appear at the beginning of each chapter and scattered throughout the text.” Publisher’s Weekly

Willow McQuade, naturopathic doctor, along with her hunky ex-cop boyfriend Jackson Spade, attend a party for a psychic TV show that is filming on Long Island’s idyllic East End. However, Willow is much more interested in visiting the estate’s lavender farm, seeking inspiration for the new aromatherapy workshops she'll be holding at her store, Nature’s Way Market & Café.

Before the party is over, Roger Bixby one of the producers is dead and the police suspect murder. Roger was working on the show, MJ’s Mind, with Carly Bixby, his ex-wife and the new girlfriend of Willow's ex from L.A., TV writer/producer Simon Lewis.

After Willow leaves the party, she gets a frantic text from Simon asking for her help. Since Simon had a fight with Roger earlier in the evening, and because of his death is now the primary shareholder in Galaxy films, Willow's ex becomes the prime suspect. Simon begs her to crack the case and clear him of the murder. MJ McClellan, the psychic and star of the show also asks Willow for help. She hires Willow to provide natural remedies, including aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga to soothe the agitated crew of her show.

To find the killer, Willow has to deal with ghosts in a haunted mansion, a truly dysfunctional family, death threats and “accidents,” while trying to untangle a homicide identical to one committed during prohibition. Thankfully, Jackson has been hired to provide security and is there to watch her back and help Willow solve this spooky mystery.

As a bonus, you’ll find dozens of natural aromatherapy cures throughout the book that can improve your health. I think you’ll be surprised as how much they can help you feel better in mind, body and spirit!

For a chance to win a copy of Scent to Kill: A Natural Remedies Mystery just leave a comment here!

Chrystle Fiedler is the author of SCENT TO KILL, (Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster) the second in the NATURAL REMEDIES MYSTERY series, DEATH DROPS: A Natural Remedies Mystery, the non-fiction title THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO NATURAL REMEDIES (Alpha, 2009), co-author of BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW! (Fairwinds Press, 2010), currently in its fourth printing, the BEAT SUGAR ADDICTION NOW!COOKBOOK (Fairwinds Press, 2012) and THE COUNTRY ALMANAC OF HOME REMEDIES (Fairwinds, 2011). Chrystle’s magazine articles featuring natural remedies have appeared in many national publications including Natural Health, Vegetarian Times, Better Homes & Gardens and Remedy. Visit www.chrystlefiedler.com