Monday, September 1, 2014

When the Publisher's Open Door Slams

By Gail Pallotta

Stunned and confused when my publisher went out of business, I did nothing. My husband and daughter said, “You have to get Stopped Cold back out.”

One day I realized I had to remove cover images from the internet. During the process, I e-mailed people and began sharing the fate of Stopped Cold. My critique partner, Lisa Lickel, wouldn’t hear of the book ending up in a drawer and offered to help.

I hope this never happens to anyone else, but in case it does, I’ve compiled a few tips.

Believe in the book. To undo publishing then re-do it, one must believe it’s worth the effort.

Prayers. I wouldn’t have undertaken or completed the process without them. I think of those who said them as co-authors.

Support group. Another author with the defunct publisher started a Facebook page for us. I went to it and realized I wasn’t alone. We shared problems, hopes and possibilities for re-launches. What a great bunch!

Assess the situation. On the positive side, Stopped Cold already had reviews and comments that gave it validity. On the negative side, it had been in print. Not having a clue what to expect I e-mailed four publishers. Three of them agreed to take Stopped Cold.  I was humbled and honored, but maybe most importantly, my faith in humanity was restored.

Yet, I hadn’t looked at my situation closely enough. I needed print books immediately to meet commitments I’d made. Lisa suggested that one of the small presses might publish e-books while I brought out print copies. That worked best for my circumstance. However, should this happen to other authors, they should look at all of the options for solving their particular problems.

A revised edition or a reprint. It’s the author’s responsibility to make sure what rights he or she has. Mine were for the original manuscript, but not the edits or cover. I welcomed the opportunity to enhance the book for a revised edition. If no changes had been made to the text, it would have been a reprint.

Un-formatting. After a book has been in several formats the text does strange things when one edits it. I tried many options that didn’t work to remedy this. Finally, I went to Smashwords and took the advice of Mark Coker step by step. Then I ran it through notepad as he suggested. My eyes were crossing by the time I finished this task.

Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. If the book were a piece of clothing, it would have been turned inside out, gone through several high intensity washes and the spin cycle in the dryer. Every time I made a change I read Stopped Cold looking for mistakes. My daughter visited before I submitted the book and found several more.

Life’s so much more than a book. Focus on God’s blessings and His will.

The reward. The light in the eyes of the little girl who doesn’t usually read, but wanted this book.
Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her teen book, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance eBooks, finished fourth in the 16th Annual Preditors and Editors readers’ poll, and was a finalist for the 2013 Grace Awards. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. her social media links are WebSite:
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Friday, August 29, 2014

Writers Caption This

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

This weekend we celebrate in the United States, Labor Day. Labor Day is a celebration of well...workers. As writers we are all hard workers. It is more commonly known as the end of summer but don't tell that to my lab.

As long as there is a pool, he thinks it's perpetually summer.

In honor of the last summer holiday, "Lab"or Day, please use your writing skills and caption this picture.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Creating a Written Legend

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

The Hollywood Café in Tunica Mississippi has been a mainstay on the Mississippi Delta for decades. Known to many in the area it was visited and enjoyed by generations. Their claim to fame is being the Birthplace of the Deep Fried Pickle. Since the 70’s the deep fried pickle battered in beer batter and served with ranch dressing has brought the customers back again and again. It was always popular but not legendary until two writers brought it to the world’s attention.

John Grisham lived in the area and was a frequent customer. Grisham felt the need to use The Hollywood Café in A Time to Kill. When you enter the front door of the café on your left is a case displaying memorabilia. There are many pictures of the Blues Singers that have played there over the years and among the items is a copy of A Time to Kill opened to the page where the café is mentioned. A proud moment for the owner and the locals was their favorite spot mentioned in a bestseller. Familiarity of a location written about is a big seller in itself but this was an over the top event for many in the area.

In 1990 another writer brought The Hollywood to light. Marc Cohn penned the song Walking in Memphis which became a worldwide hit by the end of 1991. His song spoke of the culture of misic in the Memphis are which included  the musical heritage of The Hollywood. Cohn sang of his meeting with Muriel Wilkins. Cohn said Muriel was his inspiration for the song. He had met the piano player at The Hollywood, talked with her and then was invited to sing. In his song are the lines:
“Now, Muriel plays piano
Every Friday at the Hollywood
And they brought me down to see her
And they asked me if I would
Do a little number
And I sang with all my might
She said, "Tell me are you a Christian, child?"
And I said, "Ma'am, I am tonight!"

When you walk into The Hollywood today you can tickle the ivories of that piano and I suggest you do. Cohn’s song and Grisham’s story have moved that great local café into legendary status worldwide. As a writer we sometimes fail to realize the effect we can have on people, places and events. The greatness of The Hollywood was recognized by two writers and shared with us all. 

We too can do that when we write. Pick up your pen and make a legend.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Inner and the Outer of Writing

By Shelly Frome

Not long ago I received two reviews simultaneously. One was from an e-publisher who was disappointed in my crime-and-blues odyssey because it didn’t follow the standard formula of a mystery. The second was from a noted Hollywood novelist and screenwriter who was disappointed because he didn’t want the story to end. He wanted it to go on and on.

Recently, after polishing a new manuscript, I attended a Mystery Writers of America conference in Orlando to try and come to terms with my way of working. Did it jibe with what was currently going on in the field?  

A chat with keynote speaker Laura Lippman before and after she signed a copy of her new crime novel for me plus another chat with her and a few others around the pool gave me an inkling of her method. It entailed numerous flashbacks and back-stories of family life as well as following a retired detective on the trail of a cold case. In this instance, the flashback chapters take you to family dynamics 50, 40 and 26 years ago and deal with the social, individual and economic effect of a missing man’s ploys on his wife and three daughters. The cold case centers on the death of the man’s mistress and possible foul play.

At the same time, I had a few meetings with a senior editor who insisted I follow her three-part submission format to the letter. Moreover, every page, paragraph and sentence of my tale had to move the story forward in order to comply with strict mystery rules and expectations.

Moving on to a panel featuring “new departures,” I discovered what these women writers thought was unique was pretending they were the heroines of a pursuit using their own interests in flying small planes, backpacking and trekking and what-have-you. In other words, their readers want to imagine they too were off on these ventures, encountering provocative men, etc. with no real worries about dire consequences.

Which left me where? My way of working is organic and character/driven. I find myself involved with flawed characters unwittingly caught up in some kind of conundrum—a pursuit that eventually puts them on a collision course.

And so, how do you reconcile your integrity with all the externals, including small presses that may or not be legitimate, about to fold their tents or are no longer accepting submissions? Or up against the effort and expertise it would take to successfully self-publish? Or should you return once again to your old publisher who doesn’t quite know how to categorize your fiction?  

I was once at a small gathering where a prize-winning writer revealed he was a marginal artist. He wrote for the few people who could relate to whatever happened to be haunting him at the time. Well there then now. Maybe that could lead to an answer.

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University  of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of mysteries, books on theater and film, and articles on the performing arts appearing in a number of periodicals in the U.S. and the U.K.. His fiction includes Tinseltown Riff, Lilac Moon, Sun Dance for Andy Horn and the trans-Atlantic cozy The Twinning Murders. Among his works of non-fiction are the acclaimed TheActors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. His latest novel is Twilight of the Drifter. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina. His works can be found on Amazon, through his publishers or via independent bookstores. He can be found at and has a profile on Facebook where he can be reached or on twitter @shellyFrome.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Thanks a Million

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

It seems like just yesterday when Annette Cole Mastron, our Communications Director, notified us that Suite T was getting more than a thousand visitors a day.  Only a couple of months later, we got excited when that number doubled to over two thousand each day.  Having just checked the stats, I'm proud to report that your Southern Writers blog is now attracting between five and seven thousand views daily, a number that continues to grow weekly.

And here's the coolest part: This week you gave us our ONE MILLIONTH HIT on Suite T!

Besides reaching the marvelous milestone itself, this tells us a couple of things:

1) Social media works.
2) There are a ton of online users interested in the writing craft.
Sure, there are blogs with even more impressive numbers, but for a magazine that's only been in publication for three years, and one that relies largely on word-of-mouth and social media to generate buzz, we're mighty happy—and grateful to you—for those numbers.

So grateful are we, in fact, that we want to give you a free gift.  In honor of our millionth blog hit, we're giving you the complete set of all three anniversary issues of Southern Writers Magazine!
 Visit to get your free online editions of our July 2012, July 2013, and July 2014 anniversary issues featuring interviews with best-selling authors Tamera Alexander, Karen White, DiAnn Mills, and many others. If you're a follower of the blog but have yet to see the magazine that spawned it, here's your chance to experience all of the interviews, insights and special features we pack into each issue for you.

Over a million pageviews represents a lot of writers coming to see what other writers have to say about their craft, but it includes a great many non-writing readers as well.  If you're an author, consider guest blogging on Suite T and connecting with thousands of fellow authors and potential new readers (submission info is found here under Guest Posting).

In my next post on Tuesday September 9th, I'll share some of the interesting observations we've made during these three years of blogging, along with which posts have gotten the most attention, and why.  Meanwhile, be sure to check out your three free issues of Southern Writers (for a limited time) at this link:

All of us at Southern Writers want to thank you for following Suite T and helping us reach this milestone.  We think you're one in a million!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Write Unbound

By Kimberly A. Bettes

If we’ve learned anything from life, it’s that what works for one, doesn’t work for all. A great example of this is skinny jeans. They are not for everyone. We are each individual, with different likes and dislikes, experiences and viewpoints. Give ten people a task, and they’ll do it ten different ways.

Some authors strive to write 1,000 words a day. They push themselves and struggle to achieve that goal, but most often don’t make it. Meanwhile, I turn out thousands of words at a time effortlessly. It’s quite common for me to have a 6,000 – 10,000 word day. And that’s without even really trying.

What do I do that those other authors don’t?

When I begin a story, it’s vague. I know how it’ll start, and sometimes how it’ll end, but what happens between the first page and the last is usually unknown to me. I learn it as I go. I put my fingers to the keys and let the story flow, with no plotting beforehand or outlining of any kind. I’m just as surprised by the story’s twists and turns as the reader will be.

Maybe that’s the secret. Maybe all that plotting and planning puts too much stress and strain on a writer. Maybe it stifles the creative process. If you’ve mapped out every detail of your story, you spend your writing time worrying about how you’re going to get there. If you’re like me and just let the story tell itself, cutting its own path across the page like a river over land, then you have the freedom to go whichever way the story takes you. You’re not bound by your pre-conceived ideas and goals.

I’ve tried plotting a story. It doesn’t work for me. Just like skinny jeans don’t work for me. If you’re one of the writers who fight to get a few hundred words a day onto the page, maybe you should try it my way. Just sit down at your computer, put your fingertips to the keys, and see what you have to say.

The thing is finding what works for you. Whatever it takes to get those words out of you and onto the page. Experiment. Practice. Find a way to open that can of ideas and get to work.
Kimberly A. Bettes lives with her husband and son in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of southeast Missouri where she terrorizes the residents of a small town with her twisted tales. It’s there she likes to study serial killers and knit. Serial killers who knit are her favorites. Her books include Annie’s RevengeThe Good NeighborRageHeldBefore the HarvestTwistedShiners,PushedThe Day Bob Greeley Died, and The Cabin on Calhoun Ridge.You can find Kimberly online at any of these places: Blog:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Author Book Signing Southern Style

By Claire Fullerton

Being raised in Memphis and instilled with Southern manners as if from a rulebook, when it came to my author book signing at my local bookstore, I did what any Southerner would do: I conducted the affair as if it were a party. None of this sending out a general circular e-mail-- oh no, I went through my contact list and e-mailed each person individually saying how thrilled I’d be to see them at the event.

I had glossy 5x7” postcards made with my book cover on front and a blub on the back with the time, date, and place of my event.  For three weeks prior, I carried the cards with me wherever I went.  Now then, there’s a fine line between being enthusiastic and being pushy, and since I’m the chatty sort who talks to both acquaintances and strangers easily, I wanted to be ready but not obnoxious. The thing about being Southern is we just assume the world is a friendly place, and it’s miraculous what transpires because of this attitude: the world tends to step up. Be it in the grocery store, the post office, or in line at the bank, I had a surprising number of opportunities to reach into my purse and produce my post card as if it were a gift.

Timing is everything in life, so when I heard my town’s local newspaper was under new ownership, I wrote the new editor saying I’m a local author who’d love to meet her in person. The result was a full-page interview the week of my book signing.

What I learned growing up in the South is no gathering is complete without sugar, so it is my good fortune to have a friend that loves to bake. When she asked if there was anything she could do to help for my book signing, rather than humbly demurring, I said “Yes!”  An assortment of cookies was set out buffet style, and I brought one of each for the bookstore employees, who would still be standing there long after the event.

On the day of the event, a full-sized poster of my book cover was placed in the window, and forty chairs were arranged before the desk I sat behind, along with a friend I’d commissioned to compile a list of attendees for my next book signing. I’d been asked to read from a chapter of my book, yet I’d written a suspenseful page-turner whose chapters fit together like pieces of a puzzle and I didn’t want to give any part of it away. Being Southern, I felt the inherent need to give the attendees a large dose of gratitude, and decided to do so by telling the peculiar story behind my book’s inspiration, which made the atmosphere feel like a fireside chat.  

All of this led to a sold-out event that exceeded my expectation, and because of the success, my local bookstore continues to keep my book on its shelf.
Claire Fullerton is the author of A Portal in Time (Vinspire Publishing.)  Her second novel, "Dancing to an Irish Reel" will be published in early 2015. She is a three-time, award winning essayist, a contributor to numerous magazines, and a multiple contributor to the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series. She had her own weekly column in the ”Malibu Surfside News," and is currently writing a Southern family saga based on her award winning narrative in the San Francisco Writers Conferences' 2013 contest.