Friday, November 29, 2013

ReBlog: The Forgotten Fifth Sense: Are You Making Use Of ALL The Senses In Your Writing?

We all know that it’s important to incorporate “the five senses” in our descriptive writing. In poems, sensory details make images come alive. In short stories and books, the characters’ five senses are what allow us to get lost in the story.

But few writers realize which of the five senses they lean on more heavily than others. As a writer, you will have a natural inclination toward one sense over the others. Do you know your writing well enough to identify your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the five senses?

Think about your own writing. When you write about the senses, which are stronger, which are weaker? In what order would you rank the way that you use the five senses in your writing? Does it follow the order below?

The Five Senses At Work In Your Descriptive Writing

Vision is the first and often primary way that characters and narrators interpret the world. They look at things—sunsets, other characters, pets, or their own faces in the mirror. More often than not, descriptive passages come first through the sense of sight.

Touch tends to be readily available to writers as well. Characters will notice that it is cold, that the wind is blowing, that a loved one’s hand is warm.

Sound tends to follow vision and touch. After a character sees a sunset on a beach, he or she will hear the sound of the seagulls and the crashing of the tide.

Scents usually aren’t too far behind. A writer may choose to corroborate what his character’s eyes and ears are telling him about the setting with smell: the salty sea air, the aroma of boardwalk French fries drifting on the wind, and so on.

But there’s one sense that writers—especially new writers—tend to underestimate. And that is the sense of taste.

How To Use The Forgotten Fifth Sense In Your Writing

On more than one occasion we have heard writers say, “I like to have my characters eating something whenever possible.” And while everything should be done in moderation, we think that’s great advice.

As human beings, we have an intense relationship with food in one way or another. There are countless television shows dedicated to food, countless magazines about food on the shelves, countless books, countless blogs, and countless discussions at the lunchroom table about what everyone ate for dinner last night.

Do not underestimate the power of writing about food in your scenes. Food is primal. Food is life. By adding descriptions of taste to your scenes or your lines of poetry, you’ll deepen your readers’ experience of your work.

Writer’s Relief is a highly recommended author’s submission service. We help creative writers submit their work to the right literary agents and literary journals. Visit our website for free submission tips and hot publishing leads today! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Do You Write Every Day?

Now that the holidays are here, life tends to take on new priorities and our social calendars spill over.  How do you juggle your writing with family, shopping, parties and more vying for your attention?

Please comment below.  If you receive The Purple Pros by email, DO NOT hit "Reply".  Go to and leave your comment.

SWA wishes you a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Windmills of Your Mind…Memoirs

Everyone has a story, and it seems that more and more people are telling theirs.  Browse the "memoir" subcategory on and up pops more than 24,000 titles. In a day of reality TV, "reality" books also hold the public's interest. 

The term "memoir" refers to a reminiscent story and it can be short, like a personal essay or narrative, or it can be book-length.  It is always written in the first-person voice.

Do you want to write a memoir?

Writing a memoir can be a daunting task, but has a great site with a step-by-step guide to beginning memoir writing.  It is a site aimed at teachers and students but "Teachers: Write It ⎢ Memoir" will lead you from brainstorming to polishing your finished manuscript.  And if you’re a student writer, there's also a list of contests where you can submit your work.

Some people will tell you if you're not a big sports star or a Hollywood celebrity or some other larger-than-life public figure, no one's going to be interested in your life story.  The thing about a memoir is that you don't have to tell your whole life story.  You can tell one event out of it if it is big enough for a book and has the universal appeal to attract an audience.

Where can you publish your memoir?

Most of the major publishers have a memoir imprint.  However, they also seek work only from agented writers.  If you don't have an agent, here are some publishers that will consider your memoir.  Most request proposals with an outline or synopsis, sample chapters as well as a report on how you would market the book.  Click each publisher's name to go their website.  

Barricade Books - seeks books with a "controversial lean" and expects authors who will be instrumental in publicizing their books,.
Chicago Review Press - guidelines page gives a list of components to include in your proposal.  
Seal Press - publishes books for women by women, there is also a detailed list of components on the website that should be in your proposal to them.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oprah Winfrey Network Executive Q&A in Atlanta

Endyia Kinney-Sterns is the Vice President of Programming and Development for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network will be in Atlanta for Breaking into Hollywood from Atlanta.  This is a networking event, not a pitch session.  All topics regarding the writing, development and production of television programs will be covered.  "All participants will have an opportunity to ask candid questions directly to the speaker and moderator!"

The Details

Date: Saturday, November 23, 2013 ✦ 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Location: The Westin Atlanta ✦ 4736 Best Rd. ✦ Atlanta, GA 30337
Cost: $100 ✦ Parking is $8 Special Flate Rate

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bright Idea #61: The Well-Traveled Writer

Writing about travel experiences provides multiple avenues.  Newspapers use straight pieces about destinations, which include transportation, dining, and excursion information.  Be specific and as up to date as possible.  The more facts and figures you include the better.

Another option is a photographic journey chronicling an exotic locale or video happenings in your neighborhood.  Interview participants and include names and interesting tidbits in the celebrations, ballgames, or festivities.  People love to read their names in print.  If your camera techniques are iffy, enlist a camera buff to accompany you.

Another option would be to take a tongue-in-cheek approach to a trip, vacation, or happenstance.  This is my personal favorite.  I’ve written about getting lost in the U.S. Capitol, being bitten by a bear in the Smokies, and having plugs sucked into my ear canal as we landed in Honolulu.   I admit my experiences are extreme but people still identify.

No matter how you choose to write your travelogue, travel writing can be a sweet freelance opportunity if you keep a few things in mind.
  • Learn the lingo.  Quaint, a wash of color, and upper floor convenience leave a lot to interpretation. What is quaint to one is dilapidated to another.  Awash with color may mean the ceiling leaks.  And upper floor convenience may indicate no elevator.  People who write promotional pieces have a special vocabulary when it comes to describing accommodations.  Just saying.
  • Do your research before and after the trip.  Does your destination require visas/passports, medications/vaccinations, or special currency?  Use the library, the internet, and word of mouth.  Nothing is more reliable than a contact that has been where you intend to venture.  Culture shock rules when communication fails.  Make sure your plans and those of your editor, if you have one, shore up.  If possible get him/her to commit to the story before you leave so that you may slant the article to the age/gender/interest of your audience.  An article describing a Caribbean cruise will read differently for Bride’s Magazine than it will for Modern Maturity. 
  • Find your travel voice.  People who read travel articles are generally savvy about air travel, cruises, and auto excursions.  Write your article from an exciting, fresh, and very optimistic viewpoint.  Remember you may be the only link to another person’s experience.  Be honest – always – but try to find a silver lining in any assignment.
  • Recycle your research. Gather resource materials from hotels, airports, restaurants, and newsstands.  Plan on writing several articles from the same informational database.  Consider a first person account, a humor article, an informational travel column, and a piece on exotic entrees. Note times, admission fees, distance, and any other information that will aid your readers.
  • Park your prejudices.  Any account of a destination, restaurant review, or personal essay should be without bias and project a balanced perspective.  Travel writers are not permitted to take “freebies” or any gratuity that would influence their report.  
  • Make sure you and your traveling companion are on the same page.  “People like to possess a piece of the country they are visiting,” according to Mary Lou Weisman, author of Traveling While Married.  “Men like to eat it.  Women like to wear it.”  Be sure that you choose wisely the one to assist you with reading maps, programming the GPS, gathering brochures and research materials, taking photographs to accompany the article, and navigating airport terminals.
  • Check, check and re-check.  Amounts change.  Timetables vary.  Keep up on special deals. Make sure telephone numbers are correct.  Be sure that web sites and email addresses are valid. If possible list the name of a contact.  

And last but not least, enjoy the adventure of travel writing.  It’s a service you can provide to readers who are anxious to go where you have.  Be a well-traveled writer for those who follow in your footsteps.

~~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.


Monday, November 11, 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!

H.W. "Buzz" Bernard launched his latest novel, Supercell, at Books for Less in Atlanta on Nov 2.

Hunter S. Jones' book, September Ends, has been in the Top 50 on Amazon Literature & Fiction since it was released on October 1, 2013. It has been nominated for The Book Awards, The People's Choice Indie Category, UK. It is currently featured on Creme de la Creme Cover Contest for InDTale Magazine.

Charlotte Henley Babb had a short story and poem in the Pedigru Review.

Erika Hoffman’s essay "Silver Linings" has been accepted by Evangel and will appear in the 2014 issue. Her story “ A Christmas Rule” will appear in December’s edition of Screamin’Mamas and Erika’s story “Adult Children” will appear in Sasee Magazine’s December issue.

Jan Kelleher has several stories published in Not Your Mothers's Book anthologies: "Even If Askew" in Not Your Mother's Book . . . On Home Improvement and "Crying in the Chapel" and "Miss America or Misadventure" in Not Your Mother's Book... On Being a Parent.

Erika Hoffman and Connie Riddle are going to sign Chicken Soup books in Burlington, NC and Pinehurst, NC in upcoming months. In "Just Us Girls", Connie tells how she met Erika at a writers conference in Greensboro, NC and they became friends.

Patrick Hempfing had moMENts columns published in the following parenting magazines:  About Families, Metroparent, S.I. Parent, San Diego Family, Suburban Parent and Irving Parent, and Valley Parent magazine.  His moMENts column will run monthly in About Families.  

Cappy Hall Rearick was interviewed by Idea Creations Press for their blog:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Syndication…It's Not Just For TV Show Reruns

What is a syndication service?

A syndication service or a syndicate is a distributing service for columns, news features and other items for newspapers and magazines.  Most cartoons are with a syndicate as well as puzzles and columns like Dear Abby and Miss Manners, but syndicates also seek feature articles and columns under such topics as politics, sports, entertainment, op-ed and travel.  Some syndicates cater to an age demographic, like Senior Wire listed below, or a region or an ethnic group.

A syndicate gives a writer the opportunity to have one article published in multiple newspapers and magazines throughout a region or even the nation.  Most want an on-going series of articles/columns from their writers, but some will consider one-time stories. Be sure to check the guidelines or ask the editors before submitting.

Do you have to use a syndication service?

You can syndicate yourself and if you're just beginning, that may be the way to go.  However, you would have to do a lot of work to set it up.  Once you have the type of series or column you want to write, go to your local paper and talk to the editor about publishing it.  It's the old "Catch-22" of writing and publishing: you can't really get published until you've been published.

Now that your work is in one paper, research other markets for the same column. is a great website for this type of research.  It links to over 3,300 United States newspapers.. You can usually find editors' email addresses or telephone numbers on these websites so you can compile you list of potential markets and start sending out queries.

Then you set up a schedule for sending each paper your column and once it is written you shoot it out to everyone at the allotted time.

If you can sign on with a syndication service, all this work is done for you, usually on a much wider scale.  All you have to do is write and submit one time.  The service does the distributing for you.

How do you submit to a syndication service?

First, you need a definite topic for your column or series.  Are you a reviewer?  Do you like to write family travel tips?  Maybe you're a wine collector or a frequent business traveler or you are a part-time pet trainer.  You are going to have to "pitch" your idea so you want to describe your column in one sentence, two at the very most.  For instance, a column from a stay-at-home dad could be described as Dave Berry in Erma Bombeck drag.

Don't forget to you need to commit to a submission schedule.  How many columns can you produce per week? One a week is usually considered the minimum.  Be sure you can live up to any schedule you propose.

If you can get your column published locally, you'll have samples and a track record to present.  All the syndicates listed below want somewhere between five and ten sample columns.  If you don't have a column but you've published multiple individual articles in your theme area, for instance book reviews or travel articles, you can use those as your samples.

Of course, your query should include the other items you would mention to any editor: your publishing background, your expertise in this topic, why you're a good match for this syndicate, and your target audience.

To find syndication services, read your newspaper.  Stories bought from a syndicate will have its name usually beneath the byline. You can also search “syndication service.”

Click on the service's name to go its website.

Environmental News Service - seeks news and articles on environmental issues, including legislation and politics to recycling and economics, query by email.
National News Bureau - stories on travel, how-to, beauty, fashion and other lifestyle and entertainment topics, 1500-2500 words, photos encouraged.
Senior Wire - specializes in "mature market publication," seeks seasonal features, travel tips for seniors, personal travel experiences, essays, etc., will look at stand-alone pieces, word count: 500-1000, query with clippings.
Tribune Media Services - query with six to eight samples and a brief cover letter.
United Media - query with four to six samples, 500-600 words. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

EditorialLee Speaking

Peggy Mercer will be doing double duty at our 2014 Southeastern Writers Association Workshop next June. Like most writers, she doesn't have tunnel vision about writing (although most publishers would prefer that their successful writers possess that trait). Unlike most writers, she is indeed uniquely qualified to teach both Writing for Young Readers and Poetry classes.

It was not by chance that I first met Peggy. We knew about each other before meeting. It was in the summer of 2009 that we had our first face-to-face meeting in the unlikely (but prearranged) venue of a newspaper in Douglas, Georgia, The Douglas Enterprise. There I met Peggy, who wanted me to meet her friend J.D. Lankford. J.D. had written a book about his military life, an ugly-but-true saga about war entitled Walk With Me. Although Peggy didn't know me, she knew of me through Paul Dunn of nearby Fitzgerald. I had published Paul's successful A Stroll Through Fitzgerald, GA, in the Forties.

Since that time, Peggy and I have kept in touch. Four years later we collaborated on a book she wanted to do, a collection of her songs and poetry entitled, Grew Up Loving Elvis. It's now in print as well as on Kindle and Nook. The reason she came to my small independent publishing company were dual: her traditional publisher loved her children's books but, predictably, wasn't interested in trying to sell her poetry. This is the credo of the industry: Authors must write what the publishers' sales people know how to sell. The other reason: she knew me and my reputation for doing good work without ripping people off.

Peggy and I beat the heck out of each other (verbally, mostly through email) while assembling her book. The results show. Two professionals beating each other up doesn't result in perfection, but it comes close. Grew Up Loving Elvis is professionally done in every way.

Raised in rural Georgia, Peggy started writing "because the farmhouse walls were blank." She has continued because, she says, "Writing is my purpose in life. It is the vehicle I use to share my thoughts and carve out my niche and infuse it with inspiration for others to follow their dreams. Words are my tool, and there's so much power in words."

So why is Peggy qualified to teach two classes? For starters, Her Peach: When the Well Run Dry won the GAYA (Georgia Author of the Year Award) for children's writing in 2011. She has authored two other children's books and has another due out soon through a New York traditional publishing house. Her personal favorite of her children's books is There Come a Soldier.

As to poetry, Grew Up Loving Elvis is her first published collection. But she has seen her poetry published in literary magazines and journals, including Gusto, Driftwood East, and a few others. She also studied poetry and taught a class in poetry in college. She has been writing poetry since her school days. She also teaches songwriting. "I teach the proper professional art of songwriting after having studied with professional hit songwriters for a very long time. This takes me back and forth to Nashville, Tennessee, where I assist young songwriters in getting their songs put to melodies and professionally demoed. I also guide them through the publishing maze into the world or professional songwriting."

Peggy has friends in the music industry. Country star Taylor Swift has a blurb about her poetry on the cover of "Elvis," and she regularly rubs elbows with country stars in Nashville and other places. "Elvis" contains a number of songs she has written.

So when she has time for herself, what does she do? "My favorite book is The Bible," she said when asked what she reads. "I also read great poetry by Browning, Brecht, Tennyson and more.  . . and biographies about the lives of the Saints. I also enjoy reading humor." Her other very limited spare time ("What spare time?" she laughed!) is spent rearranging her books and manuscripts. She also collects antiques, especially vintage scarves. "I 'ooh' and 'ah' over this stuff."

Peggy's history with SWA goes back a long way. "I believe I was a charter member to the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists, and I think that was the start of Southeastern. I studied in classes with Doris Buchanan Smith, Becky Weyrich and many more well-published authors at summer conferences. It was one of those great experiences I had as a young writer, and this is what made me a professional writer. It helped launch me toward professionalism and getting published."

She eagerly looks forward to returning to St. Simons in 2014. "I am returning to teach, which means I followed the process laid out before me by the early conference leaders and teachers, paid my dues, honed my skills and -- drum roll, please -- now have been asked to share my wisdom and knowledge on how to write for children along with poetry with others. Sharing is my biggest joy. It is our legacy as published authors to build the dreams with those who are where we once were and to help them move forward toward making their own writing dreams come true."

"Writers helping writers" is SWA's motto. Peggy is a perfect fit. And she has a few words of advice now, before you get the chance to meet her next June: "To aspiring writers, don't just write, LEARN and then perfect your craft while protecting and shining your style like the marvelous work and wonder that it is. Use your gift. You are never too young to get started and never too old to begin again."

Should be a great 2014 Workshop. Hope to see all y'all there!

~~ Lee Clevenger

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