Monday, September 30, 2013

Do You Know What Sets the SWA Writers Workshop Apart from Other Writers Conferences?

2012 Poetry Instructor Ron Houchin

We offer free manuscript critiques – FREE! And we always have!  Every person attending at least 2 days of the Workshop can submit up to 3 manuscripts for critique. (One manuscript per category) Then you get a face-to-face meeting(s) during the Workshop to discuss your manuscript(s).

Most conferences charge $25, $50 or more for a single evaluation. SWA offers THREE....FREE!

Here is our category list and evaluators confirmed to date:  

  • Novel: TBA
  • Short Fiction: C.D. Mitchell
  • Juvenile: Peggy Mercer
  • Poetry: Peggy Mercer
  • Nonfiction: Dahlynn McKowen

Full guidelines will be on the SWA website when we finalize our list.

But wait - There's MORE!

Everybody attending the Workshop can sign up to meet with our Agent-in-Residence, Carlie Webber. Now guess how much agent appointments costs.  Come on, guess!


You can meet with our agent absolutely free!

We have other free stuff, but we'll share that later.  For now - Ready? Set. Write!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Have You Met Our 2014 SWA Writers Workshop Faculty?

Carlie Webber 
Agent-in-Residence: Carlie Webber of CK Webber Associates Literary Management
She will be meeting with attendees throughout the workshop. She will also be teaching a class on Writing a Query and one on Writing Synopsis.

Publisher: Dahlynn McKowen of Publishing Syndicate
Dahlynn and her husband Ken created and/or edited books for the Chicken Soup for the Soul and others before starting Publishing Syndicate an independent publisher and the Not Your Mother’s Book series.

Chuck Sambuchino
Editor: Chuck Sambuchino, editor for Writer’s Digest Books
Chuck edits the Guide To Literary Agents as well as the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market. His "Guide to Literary Agents Blog" is one of the biggest blogs in publishing, and he also blogs for  Chuck taught at the Workshop a few years ago to rave reviews. Welcome back, Chuck!

Novel Writing: Bob Mayer, NY Times bestselling author
Bob has over 50 books published and has sold over five million, including the Area 51 series!  His latest, The Jefferson Allegiance, was released in August.  He has also taught, multiple times, at the Workshop and we're so excited to have him back!

C.D. Mitchell
Short Fiction: C.D. Mitchell, author
C.D. first short story collection, God's Naked Will, was released this month but his stories and essays have appeared in dozens of nationally and internationally recognized literary journals as well as several anthologies, including Tartt's Fiction Anthology III: Incisive Fiction from Emerging Writers and Christmas is a Season, 2008:A Christmas Anthology.

Writing For Young Readers And Poetry: Peggy Mercer, author and a songwriter
Peggy’s book Peach: When the Well Run Dry won Georgia Author of the Year in 2011 for Children’s Mid-Readers. She is a music publisher and owns Peggy Mercer Music Publishing. Peggy's other books include Ten Cows to Texas, There Come A Soldier and a book of poems and songs, Grew Up Loving Elvis. 

Debbie Brown
Social Media for Writers: Debbie Brown, owner of D Brown Creative Group, LLC
Debbie is a marketing expert but also an author, humorist and essayist. She will teach a series of classes covering Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social media.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Through the years she was faithful and true,
Sweeping the floors every day or two.
She cleaned and swept and kept everything bright,
She hummed as she worked, dusting everything in sight.
When she was young she wore bright navy blue
And would eagerly work the whole day through!
Now she is old and her colors are faded,
And the years have made her completely outdated!
Now as she cleans she huffs and she puffs,
And it seems much harder to pick up the stuff.
But though she is slow and no longer hums,
She’s proud as can be that she even runs.
Many years have gone by and it’s really a sight,
But she’ll never give up ‘cause she’s a Hoover Upright!

~~ Kay A. Eaton

Kay is the author of two children's books: Gleason, the Christmas Giraffe, and Gleason and the Dewdrop's Dream.  She also serves as the secretary for SWA. Check out her website:

Monday, September 23, 2013

3 Tips for Beating Writer's Block…

Tip #1: "Give in to the dark side."

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.

You can’t fix something that isn’t there. Write your words, the good, the bad, and the grammatically questionable. Just write. Don’t worry about too many adverbs or “to be” verbs.  Forget misspellings or vague word choices.  You can pull out your dictionary or your style manual later.  Just get the words on paper because words are like rabbits and tend to multiply when placed in close proximity to each other.

Tip #2: "Don't throw the baby out with the bath."

When you're revising or editing, keep a "scrap file."  Instead of deleting paragraphs or pages, cut and paste them into the scrap file, just in case there's a hidden gem in there that might come out with a little extra polishing. Maybe that line is simply in the wrong place or that scene isn't bad.  It just needs to be shown from a different point of view.  

If you simply hit the delete key, your words and ideas will be gone forever. The scrap file lets you have the opportunity to reconsider your words later if you need too.

Tip #3: "Get physical."

If you find yourself with not only writer's block, but also editor's block on a project, try something drastic.  Print out everything you've written, the manuscript, the scrap file, even your notes. Make sure everything is double-spaced and has wide margins for your notes and rewrites.  Grab a pen and go through your manuscript the old-fashioned way, line by line.  

You can take it a step further.  Instead of making notes or drawing arrows to move lines or paragraphs, cut your manuscript apart.  Grab a legal pad and some tape or glue stick and put the manuscript back together again in the new order.  The extra inches of a legal pad (8.5x14 v. 8.5x11 inches) as oppose to printer paper give you more room to work. You can leave spaces to write in new transitions between the cut-outs. 

Why does this work better than cutting and pasting on the computer?  Maybe it makes the manuscript more tangible rather than lines on a screen.  The manuscript has length, has weight, has a form you can't feel on the computer. Or maybe the change in situation stimulates the brain to think differently. Who can say?  When you're in a rut, doesn't it make sense to climb out of it any way you can? 

~~ 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. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Calling SWA Poets!

What do You Like Best About Autumn?

Reminder...We're running a Poetry Special Feature Oct 7-14! The theme is your favorite thing 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, September 16, 2013

A Long Time Ago Is Just Down the Street

“If you want me just whistle. You know how to whistle don't you? 
Just put your lips together and blow.”― Lauren Bacall in “To Have and To Have Not”

When October sunsets begin to slide through leafless trees, and late afternoon breezes whistle through skinny tree branches, I am transported back to my hometown in South Carolina. 

Spiraling smoke climbs from the Thompson’s backyard and my nose stings from the lingering smell of burning leaves. I scarcely notice either the nose-sting or the burning leaves because leaf-burning is as normal as grits in my neighborhood. It is what everyone does in October.

As I ride my bike down the block, I see my friend Phyllis sweeping the driveway to earn her weekly allowance of two dollars. Her daddy is stuffing raked leaves into a wire basket to be burned Saturday morning when he’s off work and his teenage sons don’t have football practice.

I join a bunch of my friends and we chat about homework assignments, the cute boy who recently moved to town from Charleston, the latest Revlon lipstick color, my new pair of Weejuns and who we are planning to invite to the Sadie Hawkins Day Dance. We flap our hands a lot.

Before long, I hear the sound for which I have been half-listening. No, it’s not the musical tones of a cell phone interrupting our girly chatter. It is much too early in the century for microchips and fiber optics to govern almost all aspects of our lives. We can only pick up a heavy black telephone an) to say, “Number, please?” Touch-tone phones are light years away from discovery by the brainiacs at Southern Bell. Cell phones? Get serious.

Upon hearing the first sound, my friends and I stop talking and hand-gesturing in order to listen for the second one: my daddy’s whistle. It is his signal telling me to come home for supper.

All of the neighborhood fathers whistle for their kids to come home, and each whistle is different. With two fingers in his mouth, my daddy rolls up his tongue and then blows through his fingers. His whistle is unique. It has its own timbre and gains in pitch as it reaches a final crescendo. 

“Whew-a-WHEW!” No problem hearing it even a block away.

Daddy whistles twice, allowing about ten minutes in between for my brother and me to finish up whatever we are doing. After the second signal, he expects us to be on the way home. At that time of day, we are both hungry enough to jump on our bikes and get there by the time supper is on the table.

The crisp autumn weather often puts Mama in the mood to make a huge pot of chili and a full steamer of rice. She bakes corn muffins, too. My brother and I drink milk with our chili supper. We pour it from quart bottles that our milkman, Mr. Sanders, leaves by our front door before the morning sun comes up. 

We layer our corn muffins with Aunt Polly’s country butter ~ a sweet, slightly tart taste about which Land O’Lakes can only dream. 

After supper, Mama and Daddy retreat to the living room where they sit quietly reading the day’s newspaper. My brother and I remain in the kitchen to do the dishes while trying not to kill or permanently disfigure each other.

It is a ritual, an evening regimen played out by our Southern family of four. It is how we close the door on each day. It may not be what other families do, but it suits us. We say grace before eating supper; my brother washes the dishes and I dry and put them away; Mama and Daddy read the paper and don’t talk much.  

Our ritual begins with Daddy’s whistle.

No doubt cell phones provide a far better form of communication between parent and child in today’s world where everyone seems to be on the fast-track to somewhere. Immediate contact capability has proven to be invaluable. But back in the day, there was a much simpler signal that sent a message of home to me. It began when October sunsets slid through leafless trees and late afternoon breezes announced a change of seasons, or when a nip in the autumn air makes me think of chili and corn muffins.

That is when I listen for a long ago, “Whew-a-WHEW!” 

~~Cappy Hall Rearick

Cappy is a columnist, humorist and author.  She has stories in the two latest editions of the Not Your Mother's Book series....On Parenting and On Home Improvement...and she writes regularly for Writer Beat, After Fifty Living, and others.  Check out her website:

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Round of Applause: Member News!

Erika Hoffman’s nonfiction story,  “A Long Year of Waiting”, will be published in the November issue the ezine ScreaminMamas. She understands there is a print version as well.  In addition, her story “Keeping it Real” has made it through the first round of selection for Not Your Mother’s Book…on Being a Mom. Her stories have appeared in the NYMB editions: on being a Woman; on Travel; on being a Parent; and on the Holidays. 

Patrick Hempfing’s column, “Holding On”, appeared in August’s issue of Mendo Lake Family Life Magazine, San Diego Family Magazine, and Suburban Parent Magazine.

Sheila Hudson’s story, “Kill-A-What”, is in Not Your Mother's Book…on Home Improvement.  She also in Not Your Mother's Book…on Being a Stupid Kid.

Debbie Brown’s humor story, “Shopping at the Loft”, is in Chicken Soup for the Soul: It’s Christmas! The book will be in bookstores October 8, 2013.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We have NEWS!

NY Times bestselling author Bob Mayer has signed to teach at the 2014 SWA Writers Workshop!

Bob has taught at the Workshop before to rave reviews so we're so excited to have him back! He will teach Novel Writing.  He has over 50 books published and has sold over five million!  His latest, The Jefferson Allegiance, was released in August.  Bob is in demand as a team-building, life-change, and leadership speaker and consultant

Bob graduated from West Point and served in the military as a Special Forces A-Team leader and a teacher at the JFK Special Warfare Center & School. He teaches novel writing and improving the author via his Write It Forward program.  He is the CEO of Cool Gus Publishing, which has grown to a seven figure business in just two years, and is one of the bestselling indie authors in the US. For more see or

Monday, September 9, 2013

Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction


There is a free online class starting October 15th. Here's the description and a link for more information:

Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction is a unique and exciting introduction to the genre and craft of historical fiction, for curious students, aspiring authors--anyone with a passion for the past. Read classics of the genre, encounter bestselling writers of historical fiction, and discover your own historical archive while interacting with a global community of interested readers.

~~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.

Friday, September 6, 2013

EditorialLee Speaking

September, you hit me when I wasn't lookin' here are some assorted thoughts assembled for a short-notice after-deadline column (hopefully I'll see October coming and have something a little more organized next month):

Coming soon to my house: a shredding party! I've held on to documents that belonged to my parents, but with taxes now filed, much of the paper that has choked my office since my mother passed away last year is about to meet its match and become confetti.

Go Braves! How can a team possibly be hit with all the injuries the Braves have sustained and still have the best record in baseball (as of today, anyway)? Easier to name the players who have not been on the disabled list this year than the ones who have, and some of them have missed far more than the 15-day DL minimum. Yes, every team has injuries, but not every team glides through them the way my hometown boys have done it this year.

Bob Mayer confirmed today he's on board to teach at the 2014 SWA Workshop next June. Bob's novel credentials are impressive. We also have some other real headliners joining us next summer, including Writers Digest's Chuck Sambuchino, Georgia Author of the Year Award winner Peggy Mercer, non-fiction publisher Dahlynn McKowen and short-fiction writer C.D. Mitchell. Our own Debra Brown will present a comprehensive class on social media, the hottest topic on the planet in almost every circle these days. And agent Carlie Webber will not only be fielding pitches, she'll be teaching classes on writing queries and synopses -- and who better to teach these things than the agent who reads them? Still more to come, so be sure to reserve your spot when registration opens, likely in January.

My knee keeps improving, although I was told by the surgeon not to try to run (or even break out in a jog) before at least January. Stairs still present minor challenges, and steep downhill descents require a lot of concentration, but otherwise I'm doing very well. Now if I could just shed some of the pounds all the inactivity loaded upon me. I walked the stretch where the street attacked me and shattered the kneecap back in January, but, incredibly nice guy that I am, I chose not to take a jack hammer with me and try to get even.

I was saddened at the news that long-time personal friend and SWA fixture Harry Rubin had died. We will dedicate the 2014 SWA Workshop to his memory. I mean no disrespect when I suggest we all dress as curmudgeons for the awards ceremony; Harry would have found that amusing.

Want to be a member of the SWA Board of Directors? If so, let us know. Cappy Hall Rearick has left the board, and if possible I hope to retire next summer. Cappy leaves a big gap for us to fill, but we're fortunate that Tim Hudson is returning on an interim basis to help us out, at least for the 2014 workshop.

Memo to self: only thirty days has September (the poem is confirmed by a glance at the calendar), so start thinking of October column material now!

~~ Lee Clevenger

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

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Last month, SWA paid tribute to Harry Rubin to let him know how much we appreciated and cared about him.  Harry passed away Thursday, August 29, after battling cancer.  Below is his obituary from his hometown paper.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Harry Rubin died Aug. 29, 2013. He was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Deloris F. Rubin.  He was a military veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He proudly served his country for 32 years and retired at Fort Stewart in 1975.  He is survived by his daughters, Sandra Coyle (Charles) of Flemington, N.J., Debra Montano of Annandale, Va., and Barbara Rubin of Savannah; and his two grandsons, Trevor Montano (Regina) and Jason Montano.

Col. Rubin will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to Spanish Oaks Hospice, 8510 Whitfield Ave., Savannah, GA 31406.

Online condolences can be made at Carter Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

We will miss you, Harry.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

ReBlogs: The Southeastern Writers Association Workshop--A “Boutique” Conference

It wasn’t an easy decision for me.

I had to burn a week’s vacation and shell out several hundred bucks just to mingle for five days with 75 people I’d never met before. While I’m not shy, I’m not by nature exceptionally outgoing. Thus, having to hang out with a bunch of folks I didn’t know was well outside my comfort zone.

Not only that. This was to be at a writing conference. The people there would be–GULP–real writers. I knew for certain I’d be exposed as the Great Pretender, a shameless charlatan. My work would be sliced and diced. I’d become the laughing stock of St. Simons Island.

But . . . I wanted to be a novelist. So I schlepped off, with great trepidation, to the 30th annual Southeastern Writers Workshop in 2005, over eight years ago.

Eight years ago. Nine conferences ago. Three published novels ago.

The bottom line: It paid off.

It paid off so well, I felt compelled to give something back. So two years ago I joined the Board of Directors and now serve as vice president.

Some of the people I met at the 2005 gathering became close friends and I’m sure will remain so for many years. Others, whom I met at subsequent workshops, instructors especially, became great encouragers. These were folks who kept me going when I was ready to run up the white flag after 10 years, 4 manuscripts and no takers. When I was ready to surrender and just piss away my money on golf courses and 19th holes instead of writers workshops. When I was ready to simply throw up my hands and say Screw it.

Thank God for the Southeastern Writers Association.

And here’s where I let you in on a little secret. My writing was, in fact, sliced and diced at that first conference. But guess what. So was everybody else’s. It’s called learning. It’s called earning your spurs. It’s called trial by fire.

It’s what virtually every real writer must go through, whether it’s at St. Simons or in a prestigious MFA program.

Here’s another little secret: My slicer and dicer at that first conference was NY Times best-selling author Steve Berry. Steve had been through the mill before he hit it big, so he knew what it took to get there. Ironically, he later became one of my great encouragers.

Steve doesn’t do critiques any longer, but believe me, there will be plenty of exceptionally skilled instructors at the 2014 workshop who will do for you what Steve did for me. Yeah, it might be painful. But these are people who will also help you put things back together. Gently. Skillfully. Professionally. They’ll help take your writing to the next level.

A final note about the SWA Workshop and what make it unique. It’s small, limited to no more than 75 students. There’s a distinct camaraderie that develops among and between students and faculty. You get to know one another. You chat over meals and during coffee breaks. You make new friends. You network. It’s a “clubby,” not a “cliquey,” atmosphere.

By way of contrast, I went to a huge West Coast conference in the summer of 2012. It had great instructors and presenters. Big names. Lots of attendees. Lots and lots of attendees. Somewhere north of 500, maybe 600.

Yeah, I met people. We’d sit at breakfast or lunch and attempt to converse over the din of a dining area that seated several hundred. We’d trade names and business cards. Then never see each other again as we elbowed, literally, our ways to whatever sessions were next on our schedules.

Months later, I got emails from several of the attendees I’d met informing me of this or that accomplishment. I’d send back polite attaboys, but never had a clue who any of the folks were. The encounters were too brief and too many.

Take away this: You’ll remember the people you meet at the Southeastern Writers Workshop.

~~ Buzz Bernard

retired meteorologist, Buzz has published 3 novels, the latest, Supercell, due out this fall.  He is Vice-President of SWA and manages our workshop bookstore.  This article was reblogged with permission from his personal blog.  You can read his blog and learn more about Buzz on his website: