Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ReBlogs via Indies Unlimited: Almost Everything You Need to Know about ISBNs

Are you considering self-publishing your book? 

Laurie Boris, a freelance writer and indie author, is a regular contributor to IndiesUnlimited.com and she recently discussed the how-to's and what-for's about ISBNs.

One of the most frequent questions I’ve heard lately from self-publishing authors is about ISBNs. Do you really need them? Do you really need to buy them? What are the pros and cons of buying an ISBN versus using the free or inexpensive ones offered by CreateSpace, BookBaby, Smashwords, and other online partners? Let’s see if we can clear that up some.

First, a little background

ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number.” Early iterations began in the 1960s as a system for booksellers to better organize and track their inventory. Books published before 2007 have ten digits in their ISBNs. Books published after January 1, 2007 have thirteen digits.

Read the remainder of Laurie's article.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ReBlogs: The Author’s Abyss

It occurs every time I complete a manuscript and send it out for comment.  I can’t explain it.  It just happens.  I tumble into something I call "The Author’s Abyss", a sinkhole of self-doubt.  It’s recurring epiphany I have that, in plain language, reminds me I can’t write worth a shit.

I realize the beloved project–my novel–that I dove into with such enthusiasm and optimism has disintegrated into something worthy of only a paper shredder.  In the beginning, full of passion and fervor, I commanded, at least to myself, “Let there be light,” and a fictional world full of interesting characters and compelling stories began to take shape out of a formless void.  Pulitzer Prize-candidate stuff.

But by the time I’d spread my incompetent hand over the dark waters, and sent my baby out to “finishing school” for critique and comment, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt there was no Pulitzer in my future.  Probably not even a cheap ribbon for participation.

H.W. “Buzz” Bernard is a best-selling, award-winning novelist. His novels include Blizzard (the most recent), Eyewall, Plague and Supercell.  Buzz is a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; he also studied creative writing.  He’s currently vice president of the Southeastern Writers Association.  He and his wife Christina live in Roswell, Georgia.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Writing Fiction

Disclaimer:  It is all Lee Clevenger’s fault.

For years I built my writing platform. I began with smaller items in women’s magazines, lessons for Christian weeklies, interviews for local newspapers, and feature writing for collections and anthologies.  I took classes from wonderful professionals like Cec Murphey, Terry Kay, Bob Mayer, C. Hope Clark, and Deborah Blum.

After years of writing for media and because everyone in my writing circle had one, I too wrote a book. My first book contained information that I had garnered in writing short articles for other media. Plus, I added new research and my own experience in the world of ministry, parenting, grandparenting, leadership, and marriage. I included quotes from authorities plus questions and exercises. In short, I poured my heart into that first volume. With a modicum of success, I quickly followed it with another manuscript.

In between times I hired an agent. We parted friends. I hired another. Let’s just say, we parted. Finally, I met someone who believed in me and liked my books. Voila! A match made in heaven. Since that time, I have enjoyed working for that beloved editor. Don’t get me wrong. I loved this type of writing and I want to keep doing it for the rest of my life.

However, along came a contest. It was the You are Published contest offered by Thomas Maxx, Lee Clevenger’s publishing company. I had toyed with the idea of entering before, but that was all. I never got beyond thinking about it.  This year in a moment of ‘dare I call it inspiration’ I resurrected some characters that I created years ago. Through the years when I had nothing better to do, I would place a character in a situation and see what happened. I liked my cast but wasn’t sure what to do with them.

In thinking about the contest, I decided to take a bizarre situation and insert my zany cast, stir the pot, and allow my pseudo-detectives to take over. I tricked it out with a pinch of intrigue, a slathering of humor, and a lot of southern charm. The end product was fun to do, but would others like it? I had a friend I was communicating with concerning SWA. Since she was an editor of cozy mysteries, I decided to run it by her. A few hours later, she wrote back that she loved my story and wanted three more – to publish!

Long story short. That’s how Murder at Golden Palms was born. Clara, Roxy, Amy, Suzy, and Hattie breathed life. They began walking around in my life, talking, plotting, and appearing in my dreams. My editor at Take Me Away books sent mock ups of covers for me to approve. I swooned. This was heady stuff.

Later (with the help of my marvelous writing buddy), I added Murder at Sea to the mix. By this time the first mystery had been included in a collection which gave me more exposure and added to my excitement.

Finally, I understood what my fiction novelist friends experienced. Fiction is great therapy. There’s hard work and research involved, but manipulating your characters by putting them in danger and in insane situations is fun. 

So consider this is a warning! I’ve drunk the fiction writer’s Kool Aid and I want more.

Sheila Hudson's work has appeared in Chocolate for a Woman's Soul series, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Patchwork Path, From the Heart, Vols. 1 & 2, plus numerous periodicals including Costumer Magazine. She established Bright Ideas to bring hope and inspiration through the written word.  Sheila has also served as president of Southeastern Writers Association.  Read more about Sheila on her website.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


I saw the sunrise.  I heard the beautiful red, blue, and black birds sing their songs of communication. I saw the pine needles, in the tall pine trees, sparkle when a ray of sunlight hit them just right.  I heard voices and contributed to the conversation.

I felt the soft, warm fur of the kitten. I heard the sounds of movement while the kitten was running around and jumping up and down.

The rose has a sweet aroma. Every flower had their own individual aroma.   

I walked for miles with intervals of running. While walking in the sun, the mountains were so very beautiful.  Green mountains with patches of dark green where the sun did not hit it.  Snowcapped mountains against a blue sky spotted with white clouds.  Two mountains close together with their peaks pointing toward heaven.  Can you see it?  Between the two peaks, see the red ball of fire setting beyond the mountain.  The red sun against the sky which was a mixed color of pink, blue, and white.

I felt the cold wind blow and night was coming with every draft.

The warmth was specular when he and I embraced each other.  His heart was pounding, his lips sweet.  His arms were strong and his shoulder damp from my tears.  The only eyes I have are his. The only ears or voice I have is his.  My legs are his legs. There is something that is truly my very own. That is my vivid imagination of the world beyond my darkness, and beyond the wheels of my chair.

B. M. Sturtevant was born and raised in Savannah, GA, where she lives with her husband and son. In addition to writing, she enjoys working with numbers, walking, knitting, crocheting, and reading. Her bucket list includes attending at least one SWA workshop at Epworth and learning to play golf.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

5 Tips to Fight Writer's Block

The work of the world does not wait to be done by perfect people.”
—Source Unknown

Have you ever had writer’s block?  That paralyzing anxiety that convinces you that any word you put down on paper would be meaningless so you refuse to even try?  I used to get it ALL the time.  It is hard to beat, but not impossible.

First, get over the fear of being wrong, doing wrong, saying something wrong.  

The world will not come to a halt if you split an infinitive.  Mrs. Allen, the toughest English teacher the sixth grade has ever seen, does not stand behind you, her red pen in hand ready to slice and dice your manuscript.  Just write your words and save them to your hard drive.

Second, embrace the delete key.

Hitting that delete key is one of the greatest joys a writer can have.  In a flash, your mistake, your inane sentence is gone, finished, forever.  You can’t dwell on it, can’t go back and reread it, can’t see it.  So how do you know you even wrote it?  You can’t prove it, can you?  It’s gone. 

Third, you can’t fix something that isn’t there. 

You need to write without editing.  Just write.  Write anything and everything you can think of.  Don’t worry about too many adverbs or “to be” verbs.  Those can all be taken care of later.  Just get the words on paper because words are like rabbits and tend to multiply placed in close proximity to each other.

Fourth, get off the computer.  

Print out everything you have written.  The good stuff, the bad stuff, the scrap file, everything.  If you still haven’t shaken your writer’s block, you need to get physical with your manuscript. Grab a legal pad, a pair of scissors and a roll of tape or a glue stick.  Legal pads run 8.5x14 and give you more length but not too much for physically cutting and pasting your manuscript together.  You can also handwrite transitions between the cut outs.

Why does this work better than cutting and pasting on the computer?  I don’t know exactly.  Maybe it makes the manuscript more tangible rather than lines on a screen.  Maybe the change in situation refocuses the brain.  All I know is that it works when nothing else will to jump-start my writing and creativity.

Fifth,  don’t give in to it.  

No one’s perfect.  No best seller was ever written in one draft.  Don’t even call it writer’s block.  Don’t give it that acknowledgment.  Make yourself write anything—new words to your favorite song, new dialogue for the inane sitcom your kids watched last night, great comebacks for the next time your sister makes you crazy.  Do anything to get the words to flow.  The next thing you know is you’re ready to work on that manuscript.

Amy Munnell is has been a freelance writer and editor for over 25 years with her work appearing in various publications including the Chocolate for a Woman's Soul series, Saying Goodbye, From the Heart, Points North, ByLine, Athens Magazine and Georgia Magazine. Find Amy on Twitter: @amunnell