Friday, April 18, 2014


By Elaine Marie Cooper

One week she was relatively healthy; the next week we were planning her funeral. And though death is not unexpected for one’s elderly parent, the sheer rapidity of Mom’s illness took me by surprise. And the subsequent grieving threw my marketing enthusiasm to the wind, despite the fact that I had a book releasing in less than two months.

Promoting a new book seemed out of sync with planning a funeral, sending thank you notes for sympathy gifts, and dealing with the emotional aftermath. I was lost in my sadness and dulled in my focus.

I am not alone in tragedies of one sort or another near a book release. One author friend received a diagnosis of cancer and was receiving chemotherapy during final edits. Another author’s son had a serious health concern during his novel’s launch. Another author lost HER mother during her book release. So how can a writer overcome these crises in order to not just survive, but have a thriving launch?

The obvious answer is prayer—prayer that you can continue to breathe even when the oxygen seems to have been sucked out of you. There are a few steps an author can take to inhale life into her lungs as well as her book’s success. Both will be key to survival for you as well as your artistic creation.

  1. Give yourself time to grieve, rest and spend time with your family. Your book will still be there but your loved one may not. Don’t be so focused on your book’s success that you can’t see the big picture.
  2. Ask trusted friends to pray for you. Tell them your struggles and ask them to lift you up. Give them specific needs like “I can’t sleep.” Seek grief counseling if you can’t seem to shake depression.
  3. Talk to your editor about what is happening. Ask him or her to keep you on task since your mind feels like gelatin on a hot summer’s day.
  4. Get other writers to help you in your launch. No one understands the pressure of a book release more than a fellow author. Delegate tasks such as setting up a Facebook launch page.
  5. Take some time away from your computer. Give yourself permission to watch a funny move and laugh. Go for a relaxing drive. Take a walk. Be kind to yourself.
  6. Don’t neglect getting sleep and eating well. You will not help your book launch if you’re run down physically and get sick.
  7. Do something helpful for another author. It is amazing how the Lord can work for YOUR book when you reprogram your mind to help another writer. Read their book and review it. Experience the blessing of being a good friend to a fellow writer.

And may the Lord bless your book launch with much success, whether your release occurs during a calm or in the midst of a storm.
Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Fields of the Fatherless, a historical fiction based on a true story from the American Revolution. She has also penned three historical romances: The Road to Deer RunThe Promise of Deer Run and The Legacy of Deer Run. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blood Moon Writing

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine 

What is Blood Moon Writing? No, it has nothing to do with zombies or vampires rising. No, it's not a new book sub-genre, but I guess it could be...hum. It's my name for using unusual events to add flavor and intrigue to your writings.

This week the first Blood Moon in a series of four tetrads, over the next year occurred. Star gazers in parts of North and South America got a rare treat early on 4-15-14, a partial eclipse of the moon. Unfortunately, our area was cloudy, but I've seen incredible pictures. 

The science of the “blood moon” is basic and creates a full lunar eclipse. The occurrence happens when the Earth’s shadow covers the moon. The shadow refracts longer wavelengths light of red, orange and yellow, casting the huge moon in a blood like substance. It lasts around one hour and 18 minutes.

Passover 2014 began this week, at sundown on Monday, April 14th. Early on April 15th, IRS tax day in The United States, a blood moon occurred. Americans will have the opportunity to see further lunar eclipses on October 8, 2014, April 4, 2015, and again on September 28, 2015. Four blood moons all on Jewish Feast days within two years is very rare. In 2014-2015, four blood moons are scheduled to appear. There will not be any more blood moons for the next 100 years.

The Blood moon phenomena has happened 7 times since Jesus's birth. This set of blood moons will make the 8th. Two powerful verses speaking of blood moons appear in the Bible. Joel 2:31, "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come." Acts 2:20, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord.” Since these are unusual events, there is no wonder people are talking. Books have been published surrounding this event. However, a lot of these are books are fictional books speculating on the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy. 

This is not the type of writing I'm suggesting. Consider inserting a blood moon into your next chapter to give uniqueness to your scene. In your book what if the terrorist struck as the blood moon became visible? What if your protagonist was witness to a crime, and the blood moon glowed as a murder victim is found? What if a lesser character in a historical novel is terrified by the sight of the blood moon? Let your imagination run wild.

What blood moon writing can you image for your latest work in progress?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


By Richard Mabry

Writers are subject to lots of fears, and I’m no exception. But now, with seven published novels and a non-fiction book under my belt, I have learned to get past some of those fears. Here are my suggestions about handling a couple of them.

Running out of ideas: The question a writer is most frequently asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Since ideas are our stock in trade, a common fear of a writer, especially a novice, is that they will run out of ideas. My answer is quite truthful: ideas are all around us. We just have to keep our eyes and our minds open. And once we have an idea, we don’t have to guard it zealously, lest another writer steal it. The way a writer handles a concept is much more important than the idea itself.

Here’s a helpful hint. Learn to ask “What if?” For example, I read Robert Frost’s poem about home being the place where they have to take you in. I asked myself, “What if a doctor fled to her home town, only to find that someone there wanted to kill her?” The result was my first novel, Code Blue. The idea sprang from a classic poem and my asking “What if?”

Reviews: After the publication of my first novel, I checked my Amazon rankings almost every hour. I set Google alerts to notify me every time the book was mentioned on the Internet. I exulted in good reviews, descended into the depths of depression with the bad ones. But eventually I got tired of it all, so I stopped checking. I once heard a talk about success, and one line stuck with me: “I cannot expect to be universally loved and respected.” I still read reviews from time to time, but I’m careful not to get too high or too low as a result.

Some people wonder if they should respond to poor reviews. I encourage you not to do that, with one exception. If you have an email address for the reviewer, send them a private message indicating that you’re sorry your writing disappointed them. Don’t justify, don’t defend, simply acknowledge. Other than that, though, keep silent.

Final thoughts: Whatever fears you may have, remember that others have been there before you. Share your concerns with other writers, and take comfort in their counsel. And above all, don’t let them force you to quit. You may only have a slim chance to succeed, but you have none if you don’t try.
Richard Mabry is a retired physician and author of seven novels of  “medical suspense with heart.” His books have been a semifinalist for International Thriller Writers’ debut novel, finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times’ Reader’s Choice Award, and winner of the Selah Award.  His latest is Critical Condition and released April 15, 2014. He also authored Heart Failure. You can follow Richard on his blog, on Twitter, and his Facebook fan page.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


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

There are many remarks about print versus digital. You have those who are touting digital as the only way to go, that print is dying and then you have those that say, print is not dying. Blah Blah Blah.

In truth, both are doing fine. They each have a place in our world of writing. Having both gives authors more avenues to reach readers and to make it easy for a reader to learn about an author and their books.  And let’s face it, that’s what it’s all about.

The more venues authors have the better.  I have noticed in the magazine world that more printed magazines are showing up.  Many digital companies have developed a printed magazine.  Are you curious to know why? Because they determined when someone buys a magazine that contains articles of techniques and instructions that help their career those magazines aren’t thrown away. They keep them and refer back to them periodically, not just once but many times over several years. I can attest to that, I have magazines that go back to the 1990’s about writing techniques and instructions. Every time I pull one of those out looking for a particular article, I see the ads.  The name of the company if it is a product stays with me just as the name of an author stays with me if I see their ad in there. I’ve even gone to their websites, checking to see what is new.

So that’s why more people are advertising in printed magazines. They know people are keeping those magazines and every time someone opens one of those older magazines, they are going to see the ads. “The ad that keeps on bringing attention to their name and product for years.”

How great for authors. To have both worlds, digital and print boosting their careers. There is room for both venues in our world. In fact, I am looking forward to the next introduction of media that comes our way. The more we have to help authors garner attention to their books the better.

So don’t be afraid to advertise. You aren’t wasting your money. That ad will be seen for a long time.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oh No! Say It Isn't So. Matthew Can't Be Dead and Other Writing Tips We Can Learn from Downton Abbey - Part Two

By Linda Wood Rondeau 


What better place to demonstrate emerging societal changes than an old world English manor, where nobility rubs constantly against the middle and lower classes—tools used by classic writers such as Jane Austen, the Brontes, Dickens, and R.F. Delderfield (God Is an Englishman) to name a few.

Murry Pura accidentally chose the same setting, in his book, Ashton Park /Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013) in roughly the same time period as Downton Abbey, a time of much social upheaval: war, the Irish Uprising, and the Spanish flu epidemic. It was also a time of social change: pursuit of equal rights for women, and the dwindling power of the nobility. Pura believes this backdrop of political change in rural setting of a noble family in crisis provides an ideal setting for the development of conflict.


Downton Abbey is rich in unforgettably believable characters from the upper, middle, and lower classes. Such a conglomeration creates high drama and conflict. Fellowes craftily utilizes the cleverly designed idiosyncrasies to create biting drama to fit his theme. By their very nature, each character will eventually come into conflict with any other given character, whether from hidden desires, former scandal, or future hopes. Violet is irascible, Isobel is meddling, Mary is assertive, Sybil is rebellious, Carson is stodgy, Lord Grantham is honorable, and so on. Yet, each character shows their humanity by stepping outside their box: Obrien repents, Lord Grantham skirts around a possible affair, and Violet demonstrates unexpected compassion. When a character is well crafted, the element of surprise enriches rather than detracts. 


Every character seems to be embroiled in at least one triangle of testing and turmoil.  Julian Fellowes states that his favorite characters are Anna and Bates who habitually struggle against external forces seemingly destined to tear their romance to shreds. “These are two people who have not been given all that much in life,” Fellowes says, “but what they have been given is a real love. I wouldn’t ever want to undermine that. But they’ve got to suffer a little. Nothing harder to dramatize than happiness.”


Downton Abbey masters the use of dialogue to reveal a character’s personality, likes, ambitions, and moral compass. Many say that the best lines are given to Maggie Smith’s character, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Her quips demonstrate her pride in her status. For example:

“Don’t be defeated, dear, it’s very middle class.”

Fellowes masterful use of creative dialogue, true to the character, yet witty and sharp keeps the viewer attached to the story.

What can writes learn?
Ultimately, the praise Downton Abbey receives is the praise we strive for in our fiction. Veronica says it best. “Most of all I love the story line that does not sugar coat life. This is fiction at its best on television.”

With two cast members leaving the show, Fellowes was faced with a huge challenge.  “When an actor playing a servant wants to leave, there isn’t really a problem – [that character gets] another job. With members of the family, once they’re not prepared to come back for any episodes at all, then it means death. Because how believable would it be that Matthew never wanted to see the baby, never wanted to see his wife? And was never seen again at the estate that he was the heir to? So we didn’t have any option, really. I was as sorry as everyone else.”

Wouldn’t you love to create a character that everyone hated to see die?
Linda Wood Rondeau is a native of Central New York, she graduated from North Syracuse High School and later Houghton College. She moved to Northern New York where she met and married Steve Rondeau, her best friend in life, and managed a career in human services before tackling professional writing. After thirty-four years she and her husband have relocated to Jacksonville, Florida to start a new adventure...leaving rural America to live in a city of one million. Of course, the more favorable temperatures allow her to follow another great passion--golf. Rondeau's romantic suspense, The Other Side of Darkness, is the winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel. Her romance, It Really IS a Wonderful Life is already a best seller. Joining her contemporary works is her first non-fiction, I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children. Her paranormal suspense, Days of Vines and Roses is now available in both book and ebook format. Find her at and and

Friday, April 11, 2014

Writing Tips We Can Learn from Downton Abbey - Part One

By Linda Wood Rondeau 

I’ve never been a fan of serial drama. When St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues hit the airwaves, I had a hard time with leaving the characters in such awful straits for a whole week. Maybe the more modern dramas like Castle re-shaped my tolerance for the night-time soap format.

I suppose there’d been a lot of chatter about the British series storming the country, but I was clueless until someone gifted me with a DVD of Season 1 and 2. By the second episode my husband and I were hooked. We couldn’t wait to watch season three. The more I watched, the more I wondered. What makes this show so successful?

I’ve seen a lot of shows tank even with great actors.

In most cases of successful television, as in Downton Abbey, the appeal is multi-faceted.

Jim Carter (Carson) stated that while in Los Angeles he was approached by a woman fan who said, “Downton Abbey and your performance make me want to live a better life.” He hadn’t thought of the show in terms of religious significance. Yet, there is no arguing, it has profound resonance with its viewers. We writers can learn from that resonance.

Universal Theme

“The sun is rising behind Downton Abbey, a great and splendid house in a great and splendid park. So secure does it appear that it seems as if the way of life it represents will last for another thousand years. It won’t.” This is the main thrust of the series, says its creator Julian Fellowes.           

Like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, Lord Grantham, a man of good moral character committed to his way of life, must cope with three daughters and a wife who do not see the world through the same set of glasses. The generational conflict intensifies through the eyes of Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, who is through and through an Englishwoman. Convention vs. forced change is a common theme in literature and is a great tool for the development of conflict in a story. Whether the convention is a political system or a family tradition, we identify with both the character who wants to be free from expectation and the loving institution that seeks to preserve a way of life. The theme is as old as the parable of the prodigal son.

The Story’s Elements support the central theme

A good work of fiction will use the elements of story to support its theme, and Downton Abbey does not disappoint in this regard. “I adore Downton Abbey,” says Yvonne Lehman, author of Hearts that Survive—A Novel of the Titanic.  “Love the British accent, the times, the clothing, the difference in the aristocracy and working class, and yet the sameness in emotions, hopes, and dreams.”

Kristy Wedge Cambron states that she loves the “intoxicating mixture of expertly written characters both upstairs and down, the ever-present storyline of history in every episode, and the sweeping set/costume design.”

In Downton Abbey, all story elements work together to support the idea of class struggle and changing mores. 

Part Two of my post on Monday, April 14th, will cover Setting, Characters, Plot and Dialogue. This weekend can you write an outline for Season Four’s opening episode in keeping with Downton charm and spirit?
Linda Wood Rondeau is a native of Central New York, she graduated from North Syracuse High School and later Houghton College. She moved to Northern New York where she met and married Steve Rondeau, her best friend in life, and managed a career in human services before tackling professional writing. After thirty-four years she and her husband have relocated to Jacksonville, Florida to start a new adventure...leaving rural America to live in a city of one million. Of course, the more favorable temperatures allow her to follow another great passion--golf. Rondeau's romantic suspense, The Other Side of Darkness, is the winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel. Her romance, It Really IS a Wonderful Life is already a best seller. Joining her contemporary works is her first non-fiction, I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children. Her paranormal suspense, Days of Vines and Roses is now available in both book and ebook format. Find her at and and

Thursday, April 10, 2014

By This You Will Be Known

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

What will be your claim to fame? What do you want it to be? We all have ideas about what we would like to be known for but the truth is we seldom have a choice. Many are known for a particular talent we have, an event we are a part of or a folly we willingly or unwillingly participate in. Past Presidents with high hopes and expectations have left behind their defining moments of scandals, program failures and questioned conflicts. I am sure it isn’t what they had in mind but again we can’t always choose.

Rick Monday played 18 years of Major League Baseball. Rick Monday was an Arkansas born, California raised player that was fortunate to have the years and the success he had. Today he is a sports announcer and still active in the game in many ways. I am sure that Rick, like most Major Leaguers, had dreams of being remembered as a great left hander with a .264 batting average, 241 home runs and 775 runs batted in. He was twice chosen as an All-Star 1968 and 1978, and was a World Champion on the 1981 World Champion LA Dodgers team. But there were two events that defined his career. These are known as “The American Flag Incident” and the second was “Blue Monday”

“Blue Monday” came about as he was playing for the LA Dodgers in 1981 during the National League Championship Series against the Montreal Expos. There had been an earlier rain delay and the deciding game was played on Monday afternoon. Rick Monday hit a ninth inning, 2 out, 2 run homer that made the difference in a LA victory. This dashed the hopes of the Expos only chance at a Pennant in their 36 years in the National League representing Montreal. Expos fans today still refer to the 5th game in that NLCS as “Blue Monday”. 

The Dodgers went on to beat the Yankees 4 games to 2 to win the 1981 World Series. Years later in a Canadian documentary he told the story of being held up at Dorval Airport by Canadian immigration officers. He missed his connecting flight. When he inquired about the reason, the officer asked if he was the former Dodger player, and smiled.

“The American Flag Incident” occurred in 1976. Monday was with the Cubs and was experiencing the finest year of his career. In a game at Dodger’s Stadium on April 25th in the first two protestors came onto the field to burn an American Flag. They had doused it with lighter fluid and their first attempt failed. Just as they were about to strike their second match Rick Monday came dashing out of nowhere and snatched up the flag. Monday, a US military Marine Corp Reserve later said, “If you are going to burn the flag don’t do it around me.” At Monday’s next at bat the crowd gave him a standing ovation and on the large board was, “RICK MONDAY…YOU MADE A GREAT PLAY…” 

On September 2, 2008 during the Dodgers game, Monday was presented with a Peace One Earth medallion by Patricia Kennedy, founder of the non-profit organization Step up 4 Vets, for his actions on April 25th, 1976. The flag is in Monday’s possession and Monday has been offered as much as one million dollars for it. 

Just as your parents chose the perfect name for you, then your friends decided you would be better suited called by a nickname some not so kind, your fame may also be at the choosing of others.  Rick Monday’s career defining moments, chosen by baseball, were great ones. 

We at Southern Writers Magazine hope your defining moments are chosen and recognized as edifying to you and your career. I do know any recognition received from Southern Writers Magazine will be positive and career building.