Friday, August 30, 2013

We have NEWS!

The SWA Board of Directors met earlier this month and got right down to work on the 2014 SWA Writers Workshop!

Check out the Workshop News page on the SWA website.  You'll find the confirmed dates for the 2014 SWA Writers Workshop plus information on the faculty members that have committed to teach!

Check back as we continue to work on making the 2014 SWA Writers Workshop the BEST ONE EVER!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Keeping It Simple…But Not Stupid

For what grade level do you write?

I was first faced with this question in college. Eager to start my training as a professional writer, I enrolled in Advanced Composition immediately after I finished the Freshman English required courses.  An upper level class, I was the only freshman in the room, but at 19, I didn’t know how to be intimidated.

My classmates wrote papers about legalizing marijuana, the rebellion in El Salvador and gender bias in the workplace, while I turned in an essay on the evils of cornflakes.  Each got picked apart, but mine got laughs at least.

Next my professor gave us the Flesch Reading Ease Readability Formula for finding to what grade level our writing appealed.  After we had a chance to apply it to our work, he went through the class asking for results.

“Twelfth” said the pothead with the fuzzy hair.  The feminist said “College.” My face reddened with each response as the professor came closer to me.  “Eleventh,” the foreign policy guru next to me said.

“Eighth,” I shrugged.  Dr. R. only nodded.  What did that mean?  OK, now I was intimidated.

What is the Flesch Reading Ease Readability Formula?

Developed by Rudolph Flesch, an author and educator, in 1949, the formula is one of the oldest and most accurate formulas for determining the ease with which something can be read.  Several U.S. Government Agencies use it and, of course, it used with school textbooks.

To use it, isolate a passage in you article, book, etc., then count the number of sentences, followed by the number of words in the passage.  Divide the number of words by the number of sentences to get the Average Sentence Length (ASL).

Take a single paragraph in that same passage and count the number of words, then count the number of syllables in that paragraph.  Divide the number of syllables by the number of words to get the Average Syllables per Word (ASW).

Multiply the ASL by 1.015 and the ASW by 84.6.  Next subtract those new numbers from 206.835 to get your Readability Ease (RE). Here's the formula written out:

206.835 - (ASL x 1.015) - ASW x 84.6) = RE

The scores break down like this:
90 to 100 - easily understood by 5th grade students
80 to 90 - easily understood by 6th grade students
70 to 80 - easily understood by 7th grade students
60 to 70 - easily understood by 8th grade students
50 to 60 - easily understood by 9th grade students
40 to 50 - easily understood by 10th grade students
30 to 40 - easily understood by 11th grade students
20 to 30 - easily understood by 12th grade students
Below 20 - easily understood by college students or college graduates

This article's RE is 79.9, which means the average 7th grader can understand it and probably most 6th graders.

“Which of you is the most likely to publish in today’s media?” asked our professor.  We decided either the pothead or the foreign policy guru, but he pointed at me.

According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, the average American reads on the 8th grade level, and as Dr. R. informed us, newspapers and magazines are written on that level.  Writer and editor Kathy Krajco believes all Americans have come to expect "writing that doesn't tax you with abstractions and unnecessarily big or uncommon words" in both nonfiction and fiction so if a writer wants to be published, he must write on that level.

This is not to say you have to write down to the American reader. It is more about writing in "Plain English" - verbs that convey action, concrete nouns and adjectives that communicate your ideas effectively, and varied but straightforward sentence structures. Don't distract your reader with, as Krajco says, "the fog of excess verbiage." Don't make your reader go looking for your point. Readers are too busy today to go hunting and they'll move on to something else.

“Keep it simple.  Keep it clear.  Keep it focused," my professor instructed 32 years ago. "And you’ll be more likely to get published anywhere.”

~~ Amy Munnell

Amy is the Editor of The Purple Pros, and has been an SWA member since 1990, serving on the Board of Directors from 1993-2007 and again from 2011 to the present.  She has been a freelance writer and editor for 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. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

ReBlogs: Mystical Melodies

 “Would you consider taking the position of club music reporter this year?” asked the president of the exclusive Blue Flower literary club to which I belong.

“Uh—let me think about it,” I said, more than a little spooked facing this new frontier because tastes in music cover an infinite eclectic range, right?

I much preferred something more familiar and safe. Like doing literary reports but that position was already filled by a very qualified member. So, determined to be a conscientious, contributing associate I agreed.

But where would I begin? I stewed over it for days, because thrown into my complex hard-wiring is a tangled strain of perfectionism. I say tangled because it is so difficult to unravel and allow me to just—flow. To narrow my choices down to two reports a month would take—for me– some real thinking and planning. I knew right away that along with reading background on both composer and inspiration behind compositions, I wanted to play my CD selections for enjoyment.

Music listeners emit sentiments that run the gamut from Kin Hubbard’s “classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune,” and Jimmy Durante’s, “I hate music. Especially when it’s played” to George Elliot’s eloquent “I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.”

And I definitely fall into the latter category.

I was raised in a music- filled home while my husband was not. I rhapsodize over “Ebb Tide”, actually inhaling the salty air and hearing the ocean’s roar, while his eyes glaze over and his mind wanders to bank statements or what’s in the fridge. Now, I have to say that “Wake Up Little Susie” does perk him up, as does anything with a heavy beat snappy enough to twang his senses.

So it was with bated breath that I decided to begin my series of reports with my favorite classical masterpiece, Debussy’s “Claire de Lune.” At the meeting, I briefly shared highlights from Debussy’s life, the inspiration behind the composition, and then played a beautiful full orchestral arrangement on my newly purchased CD player. When the responses were enthusiastic and dreamy-eyed, I was emboldened to simply let go and enjoy my new assignment.


Music is magic. It takes me places. Yes, it does. And the places and times vary as widely as dream-travels. It moves me beyond what words can express.  When I write novels, inserting familiar songs is an essential to move moments and take readers there.

“Sentimental Journey” takes me to my grandparents’ tiny mill hill house when my daddy was off fighting in WWII. As a toddler I would sprawl on the floor and press my ear to the cabinet radio’s hidden speaker, listening to the mellow blend of instruments that, even then, moved me in mystifying ways. It conjures up memories of my lovely mother’s tears and later, the joy of Daddy’s homecoming.

“Claire de Lune”, my aforementioned favorite, transports me to early years when a young mother (me) floated through otherwise mundane housework, experiencing the magic of moonlit European sites. At other times and moods, I was certain that Heaven’s portals held this very music for the engagement of the angels.

Ahh, and the Cole Porter creations push infinite buttons in me, taking me back to childhood and strawberry teen years, when “Dancing in the Dark” had me spot light dancing with Fred Astaire and “Night and Day” ushered in my first real life romance. Never mind that Cole Porter once said that his sole inspiration was a telephone call from a producer. That revelation didn’t dull my adulation in the least.  The source of inspiration is inconsequential as long as one embraces it.  Porter’s musical genius remains, to me, solid and unchallenged.

Gershwin’s music never fails to enchant, bedazzle, and rescue me from any moment’s angst. And not only his, but a host of others because you see, I’m a hopeless, captive music lover. I love anything—from church hymns to marching tunes to be bop–as long as each is done well.  Al Jareau’s “Mornin’” moves me to ecstasy and Gladys Knight’s “You’re the Best Thing That’s Ever Happened to Me” reduces me to maudling tears.  Yeh, I’m incurable.

(Read the remainder of Mystical Melodies and other blogs by Emily Sue on The Story Plant)

~~ Emily Sue Harvey

Emily Sue is the Author of the Month on The Story Plant and has published 6 books, including Cocoon and Unto These Hills.  She is a life member of SWA and a former president.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Special Feature: Poetry for Autumn

Calling SWA Poets!

We're going to run a Poetry Special Feature Oct 7-14! The theme is What do You Like Best About Autumn and can include the holidays! IMPORTANT - Don't tell us what you like, SHOW us!

The Guidelines

  • Poets must be SWA members to submit
  • One poem per person
  • Poem should fit on one page
  • Use font: Times or Times New Roman, 12pt.
  • NO shape poems, they won't translate
  • NO artwork, use your words to draw us pictures
  • Submit by email to with Poetry for Autumn in the subject line.
  • Attach your poem in a .doc or .docx file

Deadline: Oct 1, 2013 

Ready, Set, Write!

Monday, August 19, 2013


From the editors at Publishing Syndicate

We need your help!

We are fast-tracking the manuscript for Not Your Mother's Book...On Being a Mom and need a dozen or so more stories to fill some holes. Thus, this special story call-out is being sent to everyone who receives the Wow Principles newsletter. We also post story call-outs regularly on the Publishing Syndicate Facebook page; join, if you haven't already!

Before we explain what is needed, it is important to understand that stories must focus on being a mom. Do not submit anything that focus primarily on your mother or grandmother or your own childhood memories. We need your personal stories as a mom. And please do not send in stories outside of the topic areas listed below.

We are looking for funny, silly, crazy and edgy stories submitted per the guidelines on our PS website. Disregard the past deadline information posted on the NYMB Mom page; we'll be accepting stories until we have enough, so send in immediately! Because galleys are scheduled to be in place by October 1st, the selection process for the last story selection round will be quick.

NOTE: We have enough essays for this book. Our preference--for this book and ALL of our NYMB books--are stories. Keep this in mind for future submissions.

ONE MORE NOTE: If you already submitted a story for the Mom book, but did not receive a Permission Release Agreement for that particular story, this means the story was not selected for publication. Please do not resend the same story. Thank you.
Below are the eight topics for which stories are needed:

Soccer Moms

We want to hear about mishaps getting your kids to practice, embarrassments while cheering your kids on to victory (or comforting them in defeat) and anything else involving the hectic lives of devoted "soccer moms." And it doesn't have to be just soccer-all kind of sports are welcomed.

Mother of the Bride (or Groom) Mishaps

Has your pride and joy tied the knot? We all know the day--and the planning leading up to it--probably wasn't perfect. Did anything funny or unusual happen to you as the mom? Tell us about it.

Working Moms

Moms have to keep a sense of humor when dealing with daycare mishaps and calls from the school principal in the middle of important meetings. Anything funny ever happen to you?

Talking about Dating and the Opposite Sex

We want our teens to enjoy dating, while being careful at the same time. Tell us about your talks, the "oops" and the good and bad experiences you've shared with your teenagers. Please keep in mind that while we like edgy stories and PG-13 language is OK, what makes a story funny is not how many "potty words" you use. Keep it real-the story needs to be funny on its own.

Volunteer Moms

A few brave souls among us offer to drive the kids' carpool or help out at our kids' school or sports and scouts activities. Tell us about school field trip you helped with that went awry, the class treats you made that caused a commotion or any other disastrous (but funny!) story that still makes you wince to remember it.

Spreading the News

Tell us how you found out you were going to be a mom. Was it planned? Unplanned? How did you tell the important people in your life? We'd especially like to read stories from single moms and adoptive moms and any moms who broke the news in a most-unusual and/or funny way!

Self-image Issues

Who better than Mom to help her preteens and teens through self-image issues like late-developing breasts or late-arriving menstrual cycles, acne or in the case of teenage boys, changing voices and the overabundance of, or lack of, facial hair? Unfortunately, us moms don't always get it right. Tell us what happened the first time you realized your preteen or teen needed to start using deodorant--NOW--or when you had to explain the different type of feminine hygiene products to your daughter. Please keep in mind that while PG-13 language is OK, what makes a story funny is not how many "potty words" you use. Keep it real-the story needs to be funny on its own.

New School-Year Angst

All moms go through it...again and again and again. Send us your funny stories about sending your child off to the first day of kindergarten, middle school, high school or college. Show us your angst! What went right or wrong? Or how liberating was it to have the house to yourself again and a very long summer vacation? Remember, submit a story--not an essay.

Again, here's the link to the PS site:

NYMB Submission Guidelines and Titles

There are also other books that need stories, so check them out when you visit. Thanks!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

In The Briar Patch With Harry Crews (1935 - 2012)

In March of 2012, after hearing of the passing of the novelist Harry Crews, I flashed back to the Fall of 1956, when I arrived in Gainesville, met Harry, and saw we may have been attracted as embryonic writers, as moths to light, to the University of Florida Resident Writer, the distinguished Southern novelist Andrew Lytle. Harry and I became friends and roommates during our time at UF.

First, we set up in a one-bedroom apartment, which was all-in, with a huge double bed.  Eventually, I found Andrew Lytle's writing class. After reading some of Harry's shallow campus fluff writing, I asked him, why not write about his life in Bacon County, Georgia. He said that was too painful.  I suggested he attend Lytle’s class. He first refused, and then later did. In Mr. Lytle's magical classes, we often heard, “Life is melodrama. Only art is real.”

We then moved into a house, called Twelve Oaks. We partied in town, then at the Rawlings' place at Cross Creek. In 1960 I married and went to law school. Harry went on to English Grad School, then, with Sally Crews, to Ft. Lauderdale to write.

In 2007 I moved from Winter Park to Gainesville. And began writing plays for off-off Broadway. In the wee hours, after a writing stint, I’d bike to Harry's house, bringing him smokes and groceries. Harry was in constant, crippling pain from a post polio syndrome and wounds of his many fights and bouts with booze and drugs and could not drive.

As I sat with Harry, I began to realize maybe why he hadn't kicked the deadly voice of John Barleycorn.  The literary novelist must enter the unconscious, no matter how horrid and painful it may be, write up the stories found there, but then, as a shaman, get back out.  To recover, one must see a benign world resides beside the dark, ghostly, fictive world. I don't think Harry could do that for fear of losing or diminishing the intensity of the violent, lucrative grist for his literary mill. Delusion can be the novelist's friend and foe.

When Harry's alter ego, Joe Lon Mackey, in A FEAST OF SNAKES, jumped into the pit of rattlers, I feel Harry joined him, into a briar patch which had become his comfort zone and territory for his Gothic fiction. 

So we had our early morning talks of literature and life. I felt my best function as an old friend was to be there for the creature comforts I could provide -- taking him to the doctors, bank, for groceries, making breakfasts.  I stopped seeing Harry after 2007. 

In March of 2012, I heard the sad news that Harry had bought the farm as he might have said.  From a nursing home, he was taken to his tree shaded home where we had had those intriguing early morning sit-downs, had helped each other fend off the fantods with coffee and lively banter between brothers in the written word. Harry died on March 19, 2012.

Many peoples' lives-- his legions of readers, writers like myself and his students --- have been touched and rendered better by knowing Harry. The saying, “When they made him, they broke the mold” was never truer than with Harry Crews, this splendid writer, artist and remarkable man from the phantom tenant farms of Bacon County, Georgia.

~~Edward Nagel

Edward is a novelist, playwright and screenwriter. Visit his website Quantum Literary Group.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Round of Applause: Member News

The Petigru Review, an anthology published by South Carolina Writers Workshop, has accepted a short story and a poem by Martha T. Robinson.  Publication is slated for later this year.

Erika Hoffman has been busy! She participated on a panel at the Deadly Ink Anthology Conference held August 2-4, 2013 in New Brunswick, NJ. This conference is for mystery writers. She writes a column for Epiphany Magazine-An Unpretentious Online Magazine. The August edition features her book review of Cutting for Stone and her movie review of The Great Gatsby.  Erika’s article “Shortcuts to Writing Your Novel” will be published in Hope Clark’s writingkid newsletter.

Linda Joyce’s short, sweet romance story, “Three Strikes and ...”, is featured in the August edition of Hidden Desires Romance e-magazine.

Cappy Hall Rearick is now writing on Writer Beat. She currently has two essays published there: “The Beat Goes On” and “Put Some South In Your Mouth”.

Holly McClure has accepted an offer from a UK publisher for one of her novels and is in discussion about a YA series. Keep us posted!

Amy Munnell is now a reader for agent Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

If you have news you'd like to share, please email The Editor at or use the Contact Us form on the home page.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bright Idea #59: Deadly D’s of Dog Days

Marlene Bagnull in her column, "Write His Answer" (July 12, 2013) had some much appreciated advice. She gave a name to the doldrums many of us experience this time of year – The Deadly D’s.  I saw myself in some of her categories; perhaps you will too. 


As a writer, you are familiar with this one.  He is a constant companion.  His aura is there when you check your email or go to the mailbox. Disappointment taunts and questions our talent.  We wrangle with it when our manuscripts are rejected.  Or worse, when they are accepted and killed in the editor’s final cut. Disappointment has a cure.  It’s called: Open a new file and start on another project immediately!


If disappointment lingers for very long or you torture yourself with reading rejection slips, disappointment’s brother, doubt, takes a foothold. Counter attack with a big glass of inspiration accompanied with a walk, a massage, or a healthy dose of reading your published prose.  You will be amazed at yourself and then tackle something new – like haiku.  


Constant introspection (aka navel gazing) always leads to discouragement. Others get published.  We smile and say congrats and go home and pour salt into our unpublished wounds.  We ache for a taste of success. Understandable, however it is unhealthy in every realm.  For inspiration read about famous people who experienced multiple failures before succeeding: Edison, Einstein, Dr. Seuss, Marie Curie, John Grisham, and the list goes on. Believe in yourself and keep writing.


Do everything you can to avoid this Deadly D.  It is perhaps the most deadly of all.  This insidious pest will deposit venom in your writer brain and poison your creativity, shake your confidence, and shush you into the writer’s block from hell.  This is where your support group and/or your writing partner are invaluable. It is therapeutic to confide in another writer who understands your frustration with the publishing process.  Each of us is on a different rung in our climb to writing success.  

SWA takes seriously the motto:  Writers Helping Writers.  For twenty years, I’ve never called upon a member for help when they didn’t respond.  Fellow members have edited, given advice, shared information, and assisted me in countless ways throughout my writing journey. Faithful friends plus a will to succeed will keep the Deadly D’s at bay. 

Keep writing!  

~~Sheila S. Hudson

Sheila'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.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Writers’ Brain Wiring: Are Writers born or made?

I was 12 when I realized that (unlike me) not everyone had stories and characters roaming around in their brain. I have been writing stories in my head as far back as I can remember, but I was in the second grade when I first got to share a story with others.  This was all thanks to Miss Kerr, my teacher, may she rest in peace.  I just assumed that everyone had this other life going on in their heads  because to me it was like breathing.  Characters would present themselves to me and I would have to write them down to make them live.  I had no choice.  I still have no choice these many years later.  A word can set me off, a smell, a random thought, and there I go down the road to adventure, walking in someone else’s shoes, living another life—nothing like it on earth.  Are we born this way?

If you feel that you have no choice but to write then you are a true writer.  Whether it is always good writing or not it doesn’t matter; if you are compelled to tell your stories, then you should because the more you do, the better writer you become.  Are writers born or made?  Everyone is formed by their own genetic roll of the dice and brain wiring, and then environmental influences and education are piled on.  How or why a writer’s brain is different, or an artist’s brain, and so on, we might ask?  I am not sure there is any one answer to that, but I know enough writers to know that our brains do work a bit differently than maybe a lawyer or police officer. Though some lawyers are brilliant and can write compelling briefs and do spellbinding presentations in court, that is a different brain process than taking a word, a character blip, a tiny gem of a story idea and making it live on its own.   

One could argue that our writer’s brain wiring is a bit “off” and I have heard that argument.  Writers live in two worlds (sometimes more) and that is more than most people get to inhabit.  So are we born or are we made?  Each person who reads this will have an opinion, but I think we are born to be writers just like some are born to be artists or engineers.  Oftentimes some of us aren’t able to fulfill our destiny and that is a shame.  Can you imagine if Stephen King, story teller extraordinaire, had given up after getting a ton of rejections, and just kept teaching?  Great for his students but what a loss for so many readers and so many writers who learned from his work.  No matter how many rejections, if you know in your heart and in your head that you are born to write, then write and keep writing.  There is no easy road for most of us, but there is no excuse either.  You have the brain for it, after all.  Just do it because you were born to do it.  

~~ Vicki Carroll

Vicki is a writer living in Atlanta, GA.  She is most recently featured in the July/August issue of Southern Writers Magazine.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I’m Just Wild About Harry

A newspaper column twenty years ago changed my life and rewarded me with some of my closest friends.  The year was 1993.  I was just beginning to show a few people my “scribbles.”  I published a couple of things and even got paid once.    

Tim, my husband and proudest supporter, handed me the newspaper and said “call this person”.  The person was Amy Munnell.  The piece was an article about a fledgling writers’ group meeting at the library.

When I did telephone Amy, we instantly clicked.  I began going to the group and later attended Southeastern Writers Conference.  Although it was at times a financial sacrifice, I know I wouldn’t be writing now if it hadn’t been for Amy, Cec Murphey, Linda Tomblin, and the irrepressible Harry Rubin.  When He made Harry, God definitely threw away the mold.

Fortunately for me, my grandfather was also a Lt. Colonel so Harry’s gruff exterior didn’t intimidate me one bit.  In fact I think it endeared me to Harry even more.  Perhaps because Harry and Dee had daughters, he seemed protective and almost affectionate to me.

When I first was invited onto the SWA board, Harry commissioned me to assist Amy in her duties as editor of the Purple Pros, to co-write columns, and all around fill in wherever Amy needed help.  I took this commission seriously and did my utmost to fulfill his expectations.

Likewise, when Tim assumed the role of SWA Treasurer he did so with Harry’s blessing, a plus.  Both of us respect Harry and his generous demonstrations of love for SWA and its goal of helping writers.  

Harry is a rare mixture of Teddy Roosevelt, Teddy Bear, with a smidge of curmudgeon – a blend that only gets better with age.  Harry, the Hudsons love you.  Because of you, our lives have changed for the better.

~~ 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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tribute to Harry Rubin

It is a pleasure to pay tribute to my friend, Harry Rubin, while he can see how much he is loved by his peers.

I learned of the Southeastern Writers Association Writers Workshop from Harry Rubin via my husband Allen. “Tell her she needs to attend,” Harry had told Allen. “It will take her writing to the next level… Plus, she’ll love everyone.” I remember it like it was yesterday.

I attended that year by signing up on a whim at the last minute. It changed my life. If not for Harry, I may not have found out about the workshop for years. But his invitation to attend started my process of learning to be a professional writer. I met writers that year, including Harry, who have continued to be lifelong friends.

As I returned to the workshop through the years, I found Harry with a ready smile. I could count on visiting with him at registration and in the bookstore.

Sure, he could be a bit cranky, opinionated, and blunt with a loud, booming voice that carried through the silence. But how refreshing! I could always count on Harry to be honest.

Harry was also a hoot at the banquet. A highlight included the results of his limerick contest. The naughty ones always had an edge for winning. I can remember prim and proper Sydnea Miles causing me to raise my brows and giggle about the risqué limerick. Harry inspired everyone to think outside of their genre and to take a bit of a risk in the name of fun.

After the conferences, Harry and I developed an email friendship. He critiqued several of my stories. I read his novel drafts. He’d check on me, and I’d check in to see how life was treating him. Usually, he’d have a book project underway.

Harry provided great inspiration for me because he started his writing career after military retirement. “If I can do it, you can,” he told me on many occasions. But the truth is that he didn’t just talk about it. He did it. He wrote, published, wrote, and published until he had many books to his credit.

Actually, once he got going, he was prolific. I was surprised when reading one of his books to find a character named Debra Brown. Though startling at first, it became fun to see what kind of trouble came her way.

Through the years, Harry became “Uncle Harry” for my daughter Meredith. He even wrote glowing recommendations to a long list of colleges under consideration. To this day, I remain thankful for his assistance in her college quest.

Not too long ago, Harry said to me, “I don’t really feel like writing now. I am more into reading.” He admitted he’d lost some of his zeal for living with the unexpected loss of his beloved wife Dee. But even then, he asked, “What are you writing now? How is Meredith? Are you attending the next workshop?”

I’ve really missed him at recent conferences. For me, he’ll always be a “first thought” when I think of Southeastern. But Harry will always be a member of my family – both my writing family and our beloved “Uncle Harry.”

~~ Debra Brown

Debra is the Marketing and Social Media Director for SWA and a magazine writer, humorist, columnist and business owner. Learn more at her website.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Another Harry - Tribute to Harry

Another Harry

This world could use another Harry.

Another Harry who
unlocks doors of the heart and
windmills of the mind.

Another Harry who
rescues kittens and writer’s workshops,
admonishes injustice, protects his family
and his country.

Another Harry who
squeezes pennies, holds onto nickles
and quarters
and chokes the life out of a dollar.

Another Harry who
sees into souls of lonely people,
laughs in the face of evangelists,
and lusts for earthy Bimbos.

Another Harry who
fights apathy with limericks and a butterknife,
whacks a breath of conscience into our indifference
and wears a hero’s hat.

There are many Harolds, Hanks and Horace’s
and there may still be a few Don Quixotes.
But what this world could really use is
Another Harry.

                                    ~ Cappy Hall Rearick

Harry Rubin, Writer Extraordinaire

 I met Harry Rubin in the early ‘80s. Cannot pinpoint the date but it seems I’ve always known this wonderful, tough, giving man. It was during my first nervous venture to Southeastern Writer’s worship that we connected. He immediately took me under his wing and introduced me to everyone and filled me in on their writing accomplishments and aspirations, paving the way for a relaxed, family-like adventure.  

Harry was a people-person of the highest order and that impressed me. Did I mention that my first time at the SWA workshop was one of apprehension? At least it was initially. I drove the five-hour trip alone and plunged into a passel of strangers who were unique to say the least. Writers are an atypical lot, in case you hadn’t noticed. None are without strong opinions on every imaginable topic and most are garrulous in voicing them. Especially the Colonel, as Harry was affectionately called.  I was hooked the first day because the whole experience stimulated my mind to new horizons. Too, I realized that my eccentricities were, at least here amongst this new lot of peers, not so unacceptable. Finally, I was among kindred spirits. Harry’s laid-backness helped me through the “melting pot” experience of bonding with extremely differing personalities who shared one strong common denominator: WRITING. 

Harry’s writing talent is marvelous. He is quite proficient in spanning genres, from his legendary humor (limericks), poetry, short stories, adventure novels to romance. Harry did them all with aplomb. Like voicing his opinions, he created stories with gusto. No. Harry was never half way with any endeavor.

Harry Rubin is the quintessential friend. During the first insecure years of attending classes and submitting manuscripts to the annual SWA contests, I found in Harry a support that fostered within me a growing confidence that I could succeed. Before email days, we exchanged weekly snail mail letters, hand written. I found him to be, without fail, open, honest, and down to earth. When needed, I could always count on Harry for good old common sense advice. 

Then we both began serving on the SWA Board of Directors. Those years added a new dimension to our alliance. We remained friends but many times in the new arena, we were required to make organizational decisions that forced us to agree to disagree. And to—ahh, that magic word—compromise. Through it all, Harry remained a gentleman. He taught me much about diplomacy and unconditional love. 

Among my fondest memories of Harry is his doing the Jewish “blessing” at our annual Awards Banquet. ..reading his Limericks on open mike night…presenting awards…telling engaging stories at the cafeteria table…proudly introducing his lovely Dee to us…and one memory in particular stands out. I’d gotten a particularly bad critique from one of that years’ judges and was feeling shredded. He reassured me that the lady was just jealous because I was (in his words) both pretty and smart and to pay her no mind. He insisted that I was a very talented writer who would succeed because I was determined and willing to work hard. His encouragement went a long, long way in keeping me focused and hanging in there.

Now we all know that there is a tough side to the “Colonel”. I saw and experienced it many times through the years. As I mentioned earlier, the Colonel had very strong opinions. He was never half way. He left no doubt as to what he thought on any given subject. Few could talk him down. No. Make that NONE could talk him down. He rarely changed his mind once it was set.  But that proved to be to our advantage during SWA’s hard times. More than once, Harry bailed us out and paved the way for future SWA workshops.  Most of all, he spoke life and hope to us all. He never gave up on us.

He validated us.

Thanks, Harry Rubin, for being you. And thanks for investing in me during my early struggles. I am where I am today, with a measure of success, because of friends like you who took time to care and help me along the way. In a sense, you are family. And as such, I wish for you undying happiness, joy, and peace.

~~ Emily Sue Harvey

Emily Sue is a long-time member of SWA, a former SWA president and a successful novelist.  Follow her on Facebook.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Writer’s Testimonial

During this year’s banquet, I was shocked, thrilled, and humbled to receive a number of awards for my contest entries.  I felt validated as a writer.  But most importantly, I was thankful.  The Southeastern Writers Association (SWA) has been instrumental in my growth as a writer, increased confidence, and publication success.  I decided to share my story to motivate writers, both aspiring and established, to attend future workshops, and to thank the wonderful people of the SWA who have made such a difference in my writing career.

For more than 20 years, I had professional careers in banking, accounting, and internal auditing.  In 2004, I became a dad to a beautiful daughter and have been “Mr. Mom” since her birth.  When she began Pre-K, I decided to pursue my fourth career – writing.  I wrote a manuscript based on my life as a stay-at-home dad, as well as a number of children’s stories.  Yet only few close family members had read them.  The time had arrived to get out from behind my computer.  I came across a website for the 2011 Southeastern Writers Association workshop and, after much thought and prayer, registered.  As I drove toward St. Simons Island where the workshop is held annually, I felt like a lost puppy and wondered what I had been thinking when I signed up.  I’m glad I didn’t turn around.

At the registration desk, Tim and Sheila Hudson greeted me.  I remember saying, “Here I am, but I don’t know if I belong here.”  Sheila said, “Sure you do.”  A few minutes later, I sat around the dinner table talking with other writers, many of whom have become my friends, sounding boards, teachers, and inspiration to continue my writing journey. 

The workshop rocked!  I plugged into as many sessions as possible and asked lots of questions.  I met with a New York City literary agent – twice.  The instructor who evaluated my children’s manuscript liked it so much that she contacted Holly McClure, a local literary agent.  She and one of her employees met with me for over an hour the next day and let me share my work with them. Though I didn’t walk away with a contract, I had better direction for where I needed to go.  

Cappy Hall Rearick did a session on newspaper column reporting.  Through group discussions, I came up with a plan to get my work published in a parenting magazine.  I was also thrilled that my children’s story won honorable mention in the Young Child and Juvenile Writing category during the awards banquet.  I left the workshop with more confidence and a plan.  I learned that it would take a lot of time and work to build my writer’s platform, but it was essential to begin the process.

Patrick receiving an award from Jan Kellerher,  June 2013

Motivated by the workshop, I put together four sample columns and submitted them to the editor of a local parenting magazine.  She called me the next day and offered me a monthly gig.  I earned my first publishing credit in September 2011, when Moments Magazine published my first column of “moMENts.”  

The drive to the 2012 SWA workshop seemed much shorter.  I was greeted with hugs and handshakes and had five great days of listening, writing, and learning.  Once again, the instructors were top-notch.  I pitched my book idea to the literary agent-in-residence.  She requested that I send her my manuscript and wrote back with her feedback.  Although the manuscript needs more work, I know it’s getting there.  My essay won an honorable mention in The Hal Bernard Memorial Award for Nonfiction at the awards banquet.  Again, I left the workshop pumped.

Near the end of 2012, I decided to self-syndicate reprints of “moMENts” to other parenting magazines across the country as I continue to define my niche and build my platform.  As of this writing, my work has been published 46 times in eight states and two Canadian provinces.  It’s exciting to update my website,, a website made better because Charlotte Babb, a writer I met at the 2011 conference, took time to answer my WordPress questions.  “Writers helping writers,” that’s the SWA motto.

This past April, I attended a function at my wife’s work and had an epiphany.  Since my daughter’s birth, whenever I’ve been asked what I do for a living, I’ve responded, “I’m a Mr. Mom.”  This year, when someone asked my occupation, I responded, “I’m a writer.”  Wow!  I am a writer!

The 2013 workshop couldn’t roll around fast enough.  I’m lucky I didn’t get a speeding ticket driving to St. Simons.  Once again, I received great instruction and spent quality time with other writers.  The awards were great, really great, but of secondary importance to the knowledge and friends I have gained. 

I have lots to read, learn, write, and rewrite, if I am to realize my dream of becoming a NY Times national best-selling author.  But I also know I’m making strides in the right direction.  I’ve been blessed to meet many wonderful people – fellow writers who share my dream, professional literary agents, talented instructors, and board members who devote their time and energy to make SWA successful.  Thank you all.

I must thank one other person, Harry Rubin.  I had the pleasure of sitting with Mr. Rubin during lunch at the first workshop I attended.  I could tell he was instrumental in the Association’s success when he was given an award at the end of lunch.  At this year’s banquet, Lee Clevenger, SWA President, said that the SWA would not be here today if Mr. Rubin had not used his personal funds a number of years ago to keep it up and running.  

Thank you, Mr. Rubin.  You made a big difference in this writer’s life.  It is because of you and the SWA that I can say “I am a writer.”  

~~ Patrick L. Hempfing

A Friend To All He Meets: Tribute to Harry

Harry is a friend to all who meet him. I recall sharing meals with Harry and Bill Westhead at the SWA Conference at Epworth and I knew enough to keep my mouth shut and soak up all the writing knowledge of those two wonderful men. I’m sure I’ve purchased and read all of Harry’s books and I’ve learned from his manner of storytelling. Harry’s presence is missed, as is Bill’s, but their contributions have helped SWA grow. I feel sorry for the people who will never have a chance to know Harry and Bill personally and I strongly advise newcomers to purchase their work in the bookstore so they can share in the love we feel for them.

~~ John House

John is a a retired physician, novelist, poet and short story writer.  In June, he became a member of the SWA Board of Directors.

Friday, August 2, 2013

When Harry Met Cappy: Tribute to Harry

Worlds didn’t collide the day we met, and nobody said, “I’ll have what she’s having.” 

The year was 1990 and I had flown in from Los Angeles to attend my first SWA Conference. Delighted that I would be among Southern writers for a change, at the same time I was also apprehensive since I didn’t know what I was supposed to do once I arrived or where I was supposed to do it. Driving through the arched gateway to Epworth-By-The-Sea, how could I have known that the next five days would bring about a sea change in my life?

I flitted into the registration area like I knew what I was doing and bumped into Harry Rubin. He was giving instructions, aka the Army way. I would later discover that he was a retired Army Colonel who, after learning military methods at a young age, the Army way became Harry’s way

On the other hand, the flitter (that would me) having lived in California for years, felt the word organize was like setting the alarm clock so as not to be late for work. Harry took one look and thought: Kalifornia Kook. I gave him a look and thought: well, never mind what I thought. Suffice it to say that I stayed out of his way and he mine. When Harry met Cappy in 1990, they did not become friends, nor did they become enemies.

The following year, however, we both relaxed and were able to have decent conversations and a lot of laughs. Harry could always tell a joke the right way. I, on the other hand, always forgot the punch line. The shared laughter got us over the hump so that we could become friends.

Over the next few years, the hump got bigger and bigger and what had been a pretty good acquaintance was taken to a higher level: friendship. We found that we both loved sailing, good wine, cats, cooking and creative writing. We did not agree on everything and we disagreed on things, like politics. I was never in doubt as to where he stood on issues and he never gave up trying to change my mind. Are you getting where this is going?

Harry couldn’t understand why I was a peacenik and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t. The Gulf War was going on at that time and the longer it raged, the supportive of it Harry became. He raged at Saddam Hussein and he delighted in calling me a lily-livered liberal. 

One of us finally suggested that instead of weakening our friendship with issues we had not control over, we should write our frustrations. Creatively. We penned limericks. Harry would write one to me venting his anger at Saddam, and I’d read it and respond with a limerick giving my own POV: Make love not war.  

Did he ever change my mind? No. Did I change his? Get serious. But we didn’t take pot shots at each other any longer. We accepted the other, warts and all because of the limericks emailed back and forth. As silly as it may sound, those little ditties saved a rocky friendship that has lasted for over twenty years. 

It would be nice if everyone could have what she is having both then and now. That would be the gift of Harry Rubin’s friendship, a man of integrity, courage and generosity.

~~ Cappy Hall Rearick

Cappy is a former president of SWA, a novelist, columnist and humorist.  You can read more about Cappy and check out her books on her website:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sailor’s Delight - A Tribute to Harry

Sailor’s Delight            
A smile has his lips
limericks his laughter
prayer his utterance

military his posture
country his loyalty

fellowman his help
friends his kindness
family his generosity
Dee his devotion

sailing his passion
high tide his sea
full wind his sails
red sunset his sky.

                        ~~ Mary Stripling

Mary Stripling has been a member of SWA for 23 years.  She is an award-winning poet and short story writer and sponsors The Award for Excellence in Inspirational Writing at the SWA Writers Workshop.