Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tribute to Harry: A Dear Friend

I spent some time with Harry recently, and we talked about all the good times we’ve had at Epworth, all the things we learned, and the people who were so much a part of SWA we always expected to see them year after year. Many of them are no longer with us, and we miss them. I remember how much I enjoyed hanging out with Harry and Leroy Spruell. The two of them were the best joke tellers I’d ever met. Most of Harry’s jokes don’t bear repeating in polite society, but his big hearty laugh made them even funnier. 

We’ve had some good times down through the years. He and Dee often visited us on the island so we could go eat at Barbara Jean’s.  It was a joy to spend time with the two of them. He was always so proud of her and loved telling stories of how they met and of their life together traveling the world. 

Once I saw him pull into the driveway my house, but he didn't show up at the door for quite awhile. I went outside to check on him and found him digging into a big sack of cat food in his trunk to feed some hungry stray cats. He always carried food for hungry pets and tried to find homes for strays. Sometimes, he and Dee brought home unwanted cats and took care of them until somebody adopted them. A few of those cats are still living with him. That grumpy old man is one of the kindest, gentlest souls I've ever known. 

A few years ago, I spoke at the Navy base at Kingston. Harry came along with me and was greeted warmly by the room full of Navy personnel when he was introduced. He stood, and instead of making a speech, he snarled in his inimitable fashion and announced, “You didn’t think I’d let her come down her surrounded by all you sailors without a soldier to look out for her.” He got a laugh and a big round of applause. He grinned and enjoyed the attention.

In all the years I’ve been associated with SWA, Harry Rubin has been one of the association's biggest supporters. There were several times when we lacked the funds to run the workshop and actually discussed cancelling it for the year. Harry stepped up provided the funds we needed to operate. He didn’t make a big deal about it, but I think he deserves to have his generosity acknowledged. We have him to thank for many things, including financial contributions, managing the funds as treasurer, his work on the board, running the book store, and just being there as an important part of Southeastern Writers Association.  Here’s lifting a glass of good red wine to my dear friend, Colonel Harry Rubin, US Army, Retired. He's as good a man as I've ever known.

~~ Holly McClure

Holly is a former president of SWA, the author of 7 books and the founder of Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency, now part of Lexium Entertainment & Talent Agency.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tribute to Harry: The Limerick Man

As Lee wrote yesterday, Harry Rubin saved, then safe-guarded SWA for years after our director and treasurer mismanaged and stole much of SWA's money. It is a debt we can't repay, not that Harry would accept it.  So we are offering up this week of tributes to show our appreciation, admiration and love to the man who epitomizes the SWA mantra: "Writers helping writers."

Harry was known for his limericks.  He published a chapbook of them in the late 1980s, then taught classes on writing them for many years.  He also sponsor a contest until last year, reading the winning limericks at the awards ceremony.  So what could be a more fitting tribute?

Harry Rubin, The Limerick Man

He walks and talks with a cadence and rhyme
His thoughts creating limericks – so fine
These words rang true
As we walked through
St. Simons Island - once upon a time

~ Martha Philips

A Limerick For The Limerick Man

There's a lover of limericks named Harry
Whose skill with the rhythm is scary,
It takes him no time
To make up a rhyme
To tease every Tom, Dick and Larry.

~ Susan Lindsley

A Colonel Named Harry

There once was a colonel named Harry,
Who was often loud and quite scary.
Though his manner was gruff,
It was all a big bluff.
Harry was a real teddy bear-y.

~ Amy Munnell

Monday, July 29, 2013

EditorialLee Speaking: Tribute to Harry

When I first met Harry Rubin, I didn't like him. The feeling was mutual. I know this because about three years ago, Harry introduced me to someone, saying, "This is Lee. I couldn't stand him when I first met him. Goes to show you how wrong first impressions can be sometimes."

That feeling is mutual too. Harry and I became good friends.

Harry is one of those guys who is hard to like at first sight. If you look up the word "curmudgeon" in the dictionary, there's a good chance you'll see Harry's picture there. Rumor has it that Hollywood followed him around for ideas before making the movie "Grumpy Old Men." His style is gruff, and he will tell you what's on his mind. Political correctness has never tainted one of his opinions, either.

 I'm not sure exactly when the like-and-dislike fulcrum turned with Harry and me, but I'm glad it did. My company, ThomasMax Publishing, put several of Harry's novels into print. Those novels never sold much until the e-book market erupted. Marketed as a series, those stories have had a relatively good degree of success. Harry would find his elation more in the fact that people were reading and enjoying something he wrote than collecting royalty checks. In fact, for some time he told me to hang on to the money, he didn't need it, someday he'd donate it to SWA or some other cause. He never did it for the money. Heck, I watched him sell his books for less than he paid for them many times.

Doing business with Harry was fun, and it made me a few bucks . . . literally, a few. It also opened the door to a lot more communication between the two of us, communication that transcended a couple of guys doing business. My world was enriched as a result.

We shared a political philosophy and had emails flying during campaigns and elections. We would talk, in person annually at the workshop and via tons of emails, on all the world's ills and the solutions we had to fix them. I consider myself a somewhat radical Conservative, but beside Harry I would look like a liberal.

I am privileged to own one of Harry's self-published limerick books. Harry was funny. He could be dry with his wit, which is something I like, and he especially embraced limericks. For many years he sponsored a limerick contest at the SWA Workshop just because he loved to read the entries.

Harry served in the military through World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He lied about his age to enlist to join the war effort. When was the last time someone did that? I'm guessing it was someone of similar vintage to Harry. Yet his patriotism has not dimmed one iota since then.

Harry also single-handedly saved the Southeastern Writers Association. When a treasurer absconded with all of SWA's money, Harry took it upon himself to replace that money out of his own pocket. And he never took a penny in return. Instead, he served, unpaid, as treasurer until just a few years ago when age forced him to reduce his workload.

Harry loved to tell how he met his wife, the woman who would become the one and only love of his life, a woman to whom he was unequivocally dedicated. Her death a couple of years ago turned his world upside down. He had always figured she would bury him; he wasn't ready for the alternative. I would also bet you that Harry never once cheated on her. Even curmudgeons do get hit on occasionally, and I'm sure he had many opportunities. 

Harry may be a hard man to like. But he's an easy man to admire.

~~ Lee Clevenger

Lee is the current President of SWA, an author and co-founder of ThomasMax Publishing in Atlanta, GA.

Friday, July 26, 2013


The Purple Pros has extended the deadline for submissions about Harry Rubin, a long-time member and staunch supporter of  SWA.  Tributes to Harry will be published next week on The Purple Pros. If you would like to submit a Tribute to Harry please email 750 words or less to by Monday July 27. Photos are also welcomed. 

Monday, July 22, 2013


The business of writing (then publishing, then selling) a novel is almost an “against-all-odds” venture. There are no guarantees. None. Not even when you have mega talent, decent financial resources to build your team, and marketing knowledge . . . not even if you are picked by a traditional publisher and coddled (which seems like not such a great thing anymore) . . . not even if you are poor as a church mouse and a grammar disaster, but have a creative mind that explodes daily with brain-boggling plots and characters. There are just no guarantees, and for all the work that goes into publishing a novel, seems like we’d get a guarantee or two along the way.

Here’s one: You’ll have the most immense sense of accomplishment when you’re done. You’ll feel the American Dream, or the equivalent thereof, in its fullest sense. You’ll have separated yourself from the nonbelievers and the quitters, who just couldn’t do it anymore, those people to whom you related and with whom you sympathized, as you teetered on the brink of the same negative abyss. You’ll have become a new face in a big crowd, a face that is unique and unlike any others. And whether one person or 100,000 people notice that, it is a thrilling, inspirational accomplishment. Your spine will be like steel and your shoulders will easily bear the weight of a thousand novels. Your walk will sing with triumph.
That’s a profound perspective. Hold fast to that one guarantee, because in the grand scheme of things, the odds don’t matter. Not one wordy bit.

~~ Janet Green
Janet is an author, editor and "Champion for Authors."  She heads up thewordverve inc, a writing, editing, and general transcription service in Georgia -

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Don’t Break Your Promise

Have you ever taken a big bite out of an entrée only to find (a) it was delicious or (b) ugh!  Not what you expected?

That’s the way readers react to something you’ve written.  When you put an article out there, a writer automatically makes a promise to their reader.  If you don’t fulfill that promise, the reader will likely avoid reading you again.  Why?  Because you broke your promise.

From your own experience as a reader, you know it’s true.  Not only that but you’ve spoiled a chance for personal recommendation.  Just like anyone else, writers want to be liked and build their platforms using social media and by word of mouth.

I am struggling to build my own platform.  When you see my byline, it is my desire to pass along tips I’ve garnered from writing for 30+ years.  If I can make you nod, smile, or even disagree, so much the better as long as you remember me.

When you see the byline for Dan Brown, Janet Evanovich, Mary Higgins Clark, or Truman Capote, you expect excitement, adventure, mystery, and humor.  They fulfill the author’s promise and so must you.
Raise your right hand and repeat, "When you see my byline, I promise..."

  • To persuade you
  • To entertain you
  • To make you stay up late to find out the ending
  • To educate you
  • To widen your perspective
  • To broaden your attitude
  • To take you on adventures
  • To tie up the loose ends
  • To end with a satisfying closure
  • To give you believable characters with lots of conflict
  • To whet your appetite for more of my publications

Anyway, writers, you get the idea.  Now put this into your writing toolbox and begin to use it.  Your byline is your promise, so be true to it like the following quote from Stephen King:

"People want to know why I do this, why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy... and I keep it in a jar on my desk."

~ Sheila Hudson
Sheila Hudson's work appears 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.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Round of Applause: Member News

We invite members to share news about their successes and activities so we can all join the celebration!

Debbie Brown’s “What'd I Say?” has been selected to appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives. It’s scheduled to be available in bookstores September 10, 2013.

Tim Hudson will have photographs featured in the See Me display of digital art:
"The Story of the Creative".  The exhibition opens in New York City on July 25, 2013

Samantha Hoffman conducted a workshop recently for In Print Professional Writers Association on fictionalizing you life stories.

Louis Gruber's story, "Limbo People," has been published in Aoife's Kiss, vol. 44.

Alice Monterio’s (Alice Bradfield) new book Single Mom Syndrome: Rising Above the Challenge with God's Help, is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

SWA Writers Workshop Awards Night Winners!

The Awards Night tops off the SWA Writers Workshop week.  It's a chance to relax and celebrate among new-found and long-time friends after a week of hard work and study.  This year's theme was "Celebrating the Great American Author" and attendees were encouraged to dress as their favorite author or sport some red, white and blue.  We had a variety of favorites present, from Flannery O'Connor to our own Board member and instructor Cappy Hall Rearick...3 of them!  It was a fun night for all!

And the Winners Are...

The Hal Bernard Memorial Award for Novel (Buzz Bernard, Sponsor)
First Place  - The Ones You Left Behind by Samantha Hoffman
Second Place - Rock, Paper, Scissors by Amy R. Wethington
Third Place  - Family Traditions by Joyce M. Stover

The Edna Sampson Award of Excellence for The Best Novel by a First Time Attendee (Vicki Hinzi, Marge Smith & Cheryl Norman, Sponsors)
The Ones You Left Behind by Samantha Hoffman

The GT Youngblood Short Fiction Award (Adrian Drost, Sponsor)
First Place  - The Coldest Route by Mary Stripling
Second Place  - Rules of the Game by Joyce M. Stover

The Julie L. Cannon Award (Francis Ruffin & Cheryl Walz, Sponsors)
First Place  -  Jesus and Mama by Patrick L. Hempfing
Second Place  -  Soul Color by Mary Stripling
Third Place  -  Quickest Way by Sheila S. Hudson
Honorable Mention  -  Spirit of the Old South by Susan Lindsley

The Bill Westhead Memorial Award (John House, Sponsor)
First Place  - Being There by Patrick L. Hempfing
Second Place  - Rough and Ready by Sheila S. Hudson
Third Place  - Memories of Mama by Joyce M. Stover

The Angel Award for Holiday Seasonal Writing (Lee & Emily Sue Harvey, Sponsors)
First Place  - Christmases Past by Sheila S. Hudson
Second Place - He Comes On Wings Of Night by Joyce M. Stover

The ThomasMax “You are Published” Contest (ThomasMax Publishing, Sponsor)
The Bottom Rail by Susan Lindsley

The Very Merrie Bosom Buddy Award (Jan Kelleher, Sponsor)
Wife or Dog by Patrick L. Hempfing
The Dr. George L. Sheppard Memorial Award (Jan Kelleher, Sponsor)
Celebrate by Patrick L. Hempfing

The Award for Excellence in Inspirational Writing (Mary Stripling, Sponsor)
First Place  - He Said He'd Be There by Sandra Giles
Second Place  - The Secrets of Sand by Sheila S. Hudson
Third Place - Pink Bunny by Patrick L. Hempfing

The Cappy Award for Humor (Cappy Hall Rearick, Sponsor)
First Place  - Dog ... Gone! by Patrick L. Hempfing
Second Place - Saddlebags and Circuit Riders by Sandra Giles

Writers Helping Writers Award (SWA Board of Directors, Sponsor)
John House
The 3 Cappy Hall Rearicks 


We are currently collecting stories, remembrances, letters, photos and limericks in honor of former treasurer, long-time SWA member and dedicated supporter Harry Rubin.  We plan to publish these tributes July 28-Aug 3. Please submit to by July 24 and write TRIBUTE TO HARRY in your subject line.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Join Us!

It's Open Enrollment Time!

Actually, you can join us any time, but if you already are a member and didn't attend the SWA Writers Workshop (Shame on you! finger shake), your membership has expired.  Membership entitles you to:

  • Discounts on training sessions  and other events
  • Publication opportunities in the Purple Pros
  • Publicity news updates on our website
  • Publicity web link for your website and blog
  • Book sales at workshops and events
  • Contest opportunities with cash prizes
  • Consultations with agents and editors at our workshops
  • Access to GET PUBLISHED! – an extensive listing of contests and publication opportunities for members only, currently being revamped to offer more contests, more publications and additional resources to help you publish THIS YEAR!

Joining or Renewing is Easy!

Visit our website and click the Join/Renew link on the right.  Dues are $35 and run July 1-June 30.

Don't miss out! ★  Join Today!

EditorialLee Speaking

Now that the tell-tale cigarette-after-sex metaphor is banished by the dying fad of smoking, it's impossible to tell at a glance, so . . . beg the question: 

Was it good for you?

Judging from the heavier-than-usual emails and thank-you cards that have rolled in since the conclusion of our 2013 SWA Workshop less than two weeks ago, it seems the overwhelming response - lack of cigarettes notwithstanding - is a resounding affirmative.

"Last year I said it would be impossible to top the instructors we had, but, sure enough, you guys did it again," was one sample of the gushing reviews that have come in over the past 10 days or so. Yesterday a card arrived at my mailbox - my home address, not the P.O. box handed out routinely - covered, inside and back, with praises for our team's efforts.

It IS a team effort. It's just a perk of the SWA presidency that most of the accolades land in my mailboxes (yes, I've gotten a couple of cards at the P.O. box, too) and inboxes (it's no secret I have multiple email addresses). 

I hope we can assemble a blockbuster workshop in 2014 that can draw a reaction similar to 2013.  You see, I want to go out with a bang. Next year will end my second two-year term as president. It will also mark eight years on the Board of Directors. I plan to step down from the Board next July. I'll still be active in SWA. I'll write columns for the redesigned Purple Pros blog, probably still be an annual fixture at Epworth-by-the-Sea, maybe even help out in the bookstore if I'm asked to do so. But the same people year after year putting on the show - regardless of how good the show is, well . . . .

Take a look at Congress. I rest my case for term limits. George Washington said eight years was enough. I'm taking my cue from him.

Another reason we want to make 2014 a very special year is that we're naming next year's workshop in honor of Harry Rubin. Those of you who don't know Harry have missed something incredible. For years, he sponsored a limerick contest just for the fun of it. Once upon a time, SWA's treasurer absconded with all the funds. Harry replaced those funds out of his own pocket to keep SWA going. He served as treasurer for half of forever thereafter before stepping down a few years ago as a concession to age. 

Now Harry is in ill health, and I call on every SWA member who remembers him to write something for our August Purple Pros blog. Hopefully our memories will bring him a smile.

~~ Lee Clevenger

Lee is the current President of SWA, an author and co-founder of ThomasMax Publishing in Atlanta, GA.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Times, they are a changing....

The Purple Pros newsletter for the Southeastern Writers Association (SWA) first debuted in 1993 as a quarterly print publication.  Twelve years later, the Purple Pros became a monthly e-newsletter and now we're changing it around again.  

Welcome to The Purple Pros blog!

The Purple Pros has always had 3 primary purposes:
  1. Promote SWA, its members and the SWA Writers Workshop
  2. Provide SWA members with an opportunity to publish 
  3. Help writers develop their skills and grow their career with instructive articles, interviews and useful resources

So let's talk Submission Guidelines!

Our plan is to publish 1-2 articles, news items, columns, stories, poetry and more, 3 times a week. 

SWA members may submit stories, poetry, articles, news, photos (stand alone with a caption or up to 3 to be embedded in the submitted piece).  You can even submit a reblog article if you have a permission statement from the original blogger.  Make sure you include your name or pen name on all submissions. All posting will have a byline. A photo of you and 3-sentence bio are always welcome. You only have to send them once and I'll file them for future postings.

There are no deadlines except for special features so submit any time by email to

PLEASE PUT PURPLE PROS in the subject line.
WORD COUNT: 750 words max.
FORMAT: Attach a Word file (.doc or .docx) to an email.  Photos must be .jpg or.jpeg files.   No other files will be accepted.

Special Feature Deadline!

We are currently collecting stories, remembrances, letters, photos and limericks in honor of former treasurer, long-time SWA member and dedicated supporter Harry Rubin.  Harry is struggling with health issues and we would like him know that SWA and our members love him and are thinking about him. 

We plan to publish these tributes July 28-Aug 3. Please submit by July 24 and write TRIBUTE TO HARRY in your subject line.

If you have questions about subscribing to the blog or preparing a submission, email or use the contact us form above. 

Thank you and ready, set, WRITE!