Monday, July 25, 2016

Reblog: 5 Things Friday Night Lights Can Teach Us About Writing

     As writers, we gain inspiration from many different places. We read, read, then read a little bit more, exploring the authors and genres that influence our writing.  We have shelves filled with books about writing, showing us examples of how to perfect our stories and develop genuine characters with whom our readers can relate. What about other sources of fiction and nonfiction, such as television? Could great storylines in our favorite shows help us to write more effectively?
     Feast your eyes on this article from Writers Digest, which offers tips to create memorable characters and themes within our fiction writing through great television. An added bonus: they include a list of other television shows (one of my all-time favorites made the cut!) that may help to enhance our writing in a variety of ways:

"I think the general consensus among those writers who teach the craft is that you must read—and read widely—about the craft of writing, particularly those authors who write in your genre. But I think there’s a lot you can learn about writing from other mediums, too. Specifically television. Every other Monday, I’ll bring you takeaways from some of the best television shows out there. These are meant to be specific concepts, themes, techniques, etc., that a writer can learn from the show."   

To continue reading this article, click on the link below:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Southeastern Writers Workshop 2016 Highlights

    The 2016 Writers Workshop, held June 17-21 at the beautiful Epworth by the Sea, had something to offer everyone. Attendees, from first-timers to experienced alumni, were guided and instructed in a wide range of topics each day, including: fiction and non-fiction writing strategies, screenwriting, commercial writing, the publishing process, submitting a manuscript to an agent, and social media do's and don'ts.

   We shared laughs aplenty thanks to the many gifted storytellers in attendance, as well as the hilarious shenanigans of our friends, Janet Sheppard Kelleher and Mary Stripling.

   Open-Mic Night proved to be a great success.  Many authors had the opportunity to share straight from their hearts through personal memoirs, fictional stories, poetry, articles, and song lyrics.

    Purple was the obvious color of choice for the Awards Night celebration, as our key-note speaker, Janet Kelleher Sheppard, shared her moving and heartwarming journey as an author and a butt-kicking cancer survivor.


We would like to congratulate our contest winners who showed off their incredible talents in the following categories:

The Hal Bernard Memorial Award for Novel:
FIRST PLACE: Heather Trim for Child of the Sky 
SECOND PLACE: Stuart Clarke for Love Ruins Everything 
THIRD PLACE: K.F. Lange for The Darkly Painted Eye 

The GT Youngblood Short Fiction Award: 

Dana Ridenour for Learning The Art Of Deception    

The Vega Award for Speculative Short Fiction: 
FIRST PLACE: L.A. Patrick for The Glowing
SECOND PLACE: Ann Bennett for Transfer of Deed 

The Julie L. Cannon Award: 
FIRST PLACE: Mary Stripling for Fishin’ For Love
HONORABLE MENTION: Sheila S. Hudson for G.R.I.T.S.


The Angel Award for Holiday Seasonal Writing:
FIRST PLACE: Sheila S. Hudson for I Wish We'd Made It to Christmas 
SECOND PLACE: Mary Stripling for Christmas In A Garden
THIRD PLACE: Ann Bennett for Family Dinner 


The ThomasMax “You are Published” Contest: 
Sheila S. Hudson for Classic City Murders

The Award for Inspirational Writing: 
Sheila S. Hudson for The Red Cap

The Award for Humor:
FIRST PLACE: Sheila S. Hudson for Red Hot Mamas
SECOND PLACE: Leslie Lippa for Dementia

Writers Helping Writers:
Amy Munnell

Amy was also presented with an engraved clock commemorating her more than 20 years of service with SWA. Thank you for all of your hard work, Amy!


    Thank you again to our outstanding instructors, faculty, board and auxiliary members, and SWA members.  The true spirit of "Writers Helping Writers" was shown throughout the workshop. Many new friendships emerged and important connections were developed. Your support and dedication is greatly appreciated!

Watch for registration information for our 2017 workshop, which will be held June 16-21!

For more photos and information about upcoming events, visit our Facebook page  (@SWA.writer.workshop)
You can also follow us on Twitter (@SWAwriters)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Is SWA really of benefit to a writer?

Revisited - 4/10/15

 Meet Sheila S. Hudson
Award Winning Author and SWA Board Member Emeritus

1993 Met Amy Munnell at local book club

1994 First attended SWA, won award for Inspiration and gained encouragement from Linda Tomlin  and Cec Murphey to launch freelance career. Completed course from Christian Writers Guild;  3rd Place for Inspiration SWA; 3rd place for Linda Tomblin Inspirational Writing Award.

1995 Won Honorable Mention for “On Forgiveness” from The Black Mountains Christian Writers Retreat sponsored by Linda Tomblin; 1st Place for Most Rejection Slips from 2nd Wednesday Writers; 1st Place for Most Outrageous Rejection Slip from 2nd Wednesday Writers, 1st Place for SWA Limerick Award.

1996 2nd Place for SWA Non-fiction and 2nd place for Children’s Literature. 
1997 3rd Place for SWA Limerick Award and 3rd Place for Non-fiction.

1999 1st Place for SWA Limerick Award and 3rd Place for Inspiration.

2000 Two Honorable Mentions SWA Limerick Awards; Honorable Mention for Juvenile Writing;  Honorable Mention for Non-fiction.

2002 Honorable Mention for SWA Limerick Award; 1st Place Limerick Award; Honorable Mention for Inspiration.

2003-2012 Joined SWA board as Assistant PP Editor. Remained on SWA board until 2012 serving two two-year terms as SWA President. Served another two-year term as co-president with Amy Munnell. I served as Registrar for many years and assisted Tim Hudson with his role as meeting planner.

2013 2nd Place for Bill Westhead Award; 1st Place for Holiday Seasonal Writing; and 2nd Place for Inspiration.

2014 1st Place for Humor Award; 1st Place for Holiday Seasonal Writing;  1st Place for Bill Westhead Award; 2nd Place for Inspiration; published 13 Decisions That Will Change Your Life in November with Dancing with Bear Publishing.

2015 Published Murder at Golden Palms (Thursday Club Mysteries Book 1) with Take Me Away Books in July 2015; published 13 Decisions That Will Transform Your Marriage with Dancing with Bear Publisher in August and Murder at Sea (Thursday Club Mysteries Book 2) in October also from Take Me Away Books.

2016 Published Thursday Club Mysteries Book 3 and Book 4 - Murder at the Monastery (February) and Murder at the Mandelay (May) also from Take Me Away Books.

41st Southeastern Writers Workshop 
June 17-21, 2016 
Epworth by the Sea 
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Have You Met the Faculty of the 41st Southeastern Writers Workshop?

We have hired a diverse group of successful writers to teach our classes this year! In addition to their classes, faculty members will be available to meet one-on-one with our attendees and share mealtimes and social hours so students can really get to know them.  So let me introduce you...

Agent-in-Residence: Jeanie Loiacono, CEO and President of the Loiacono Literary Agency 

Jeanie is the agent for SWA Board of Directors members John House and Buzz Bernard. While Jeanie's favorites are mystery/thrillers, romance, historical, and southern fiction, she and her agents seek most fiction genres, plus memoirs, general nonfiction, YA and children's books. The agency’s motto is “Where ‘can’t’ is not in our vocabulary!”

Publisher: Bob Babcock, Founder and CEO of Deeds Publishing 

Based in Athens, Georgia, Deeds Publishing is a family-owned publishing company, offering both traditional and custom publishing as well as consulting, editing, ghost writing, layout, and design services. “We can help new authors navigate the intimidating path from manuscript to published book, and we can also help seasoned writers publish their next masterpiece.” Deeds has published 150 books – fiction and nonfiction – since opening in 2005.

Novel: David Fulmer 

A former journalist, David is an award-winning author of mystery/thrillers, such as Chasing the Devil's Tale (a Shamus Award winner for Best First Novel), The Blue Door and Rampart Street. David was chosen as the Georgia Author of the Year for Fiction in 2006 for Jass, and on multiple “Best Book” lists since 2001, including in the Los Angeles Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, BookList, Library Journal, among others. 

Nonfiction: Jedwin Smith

A 2-time Pulitzer nominee, Jedwin was the recipient of 57 major writing awards during his 36 years as a print journalist, traveling wherever the story led: Lebanon, Ethiopia, to the ocean's depths and to the clouds in the sky when he co-piloted WWII fighter aircraft.  He has written three books, including Fatal Treasure about treasure hunter Mel Fisher and his search for the Atocha, the richest of all Spanish treasure galleons, and the memoir Our Brother's Keeper.

Young Adult Fiction: Michele Roper a.k.a Gillian Summers 

Michele partners with Berta Platas (a former SWA instructor) to write fantasy novels as Gillian Summers, including The Scions of Shadow Trilogy series and Faire Folk Trilogy.  Under her name, Michele recently released the first title in a fantasy series on Kindle: Yuletide at the Country Dragon Veterinary Hospital: The Dragon Healer Chronicles.

Screenwriting: Michael Lucker 

Michael is a returning instructor for us from many years ago. As a screenwriter, he has created more then twenty feature screenplays for studios such as Paramount, Disney, DreamWorks, Fox and Universal, including "Vampire in Brooklyn," "Home On the Range" and "Spirit," a nominee for Academy Award in 2002. In television, Michael has worked with Animal Planet, Cartoon Network, History Channel, Travel Channel, Discovery, Weather Chanel, OWN, TLC, A&E, HGTV, DIY, MSNBC, NBC and TBS.  His company, Lucky Dog Filmworks, now serves as his home for writing, directing, producing and consulting. He lectures at Screenwriter School and Emory University. 

Commercial Writing: Peter Bowerman 

Veteran commercial freelancer Peter Bowerman will lead attendees into the lucrative field of freelancing-writing for businesses. He will discuss the skills you need, why companies outsource, where the work is, how to get it, what to charge, networking strategies, and more.  Peter is the author of the award-winning The Well-Fed Writer, The Well-Fed Writer: Back for Seconds and The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, and his client list has included The Coca-Cola Company, BellSouth, IBM and many others. 

Marketing: My Write Platform 

My Write Platform is the brainchild of mother-daughter team Debra and Meredith Brown. They taught marketing and social media for us a few years ago to great reviews so we are glad to have them back. Both are published and award-winning writers. Debra has vast experience marketing in the business world and Meredith has worked in the magazine industry and as a literary agent. Many SWA authors are included among My Write Platform’s clients.

Keynote Speaker: Janet Sheppard Kelleher

Janet is an award-winning creative nonfiction writer, columnist, and speaker, living in South Carolina.  Her memoir Big C, little ta-ta, was the Hal Bernard Memorial Award for Nonfiction winner at the 2011 Southeastern Writers Workshop.  Published in October 2015, it is now an Amazon Best-Seller.  Her work has appeared in various editions of Not Your Mother’s Book, Chicken Soup for the Soul and The Petigru Review and others.  In 2015, she became an internet sensation for her pink “Chemo-Hawk”, garnering national attention, like an interviewed by the “Today Show” and being chosen as the keynote speaker at the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Register today!

41st Southeastern Writers Workshop 
June 17-21, 2016 
Epworth by the Sea 
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Southeastern Writers Association Workshop--A “Boutique” Conference (REVISITED)

As we countdown the days until the 41st Southeastern Writers Workshop begins, we want to tell everyone how good it is and encourage them to join us!  Three years ago, SWA's vice president, Buzz Bernard revealed how the Workshop changed his writing life.  Could it change yours?  Maybe!

From the then Purple Pros Blog, Tuesday, September 3, 2013 

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.

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

June 17-21, 2016 
Epworth by the Sea 
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Contests Deadline EXTENDED!

The SWA Board of Directors has extended the deadline for submitting work to our contests. 

The new deadline is May 28 by 11:59pm.

The 9 Contests are:

  • The Hal Bernard Memorial Award for Novel
  • The G.T. Youngblood Award for Short Fiction
  • The Vega Award for Speculative Short Fiction
  • The Julie L. Cannon Award
  • The Bill Westhead Memorial Award
  • The Angel Award for Holiday Seasonal Writing
  • The Thomas Max "You Are Published" Contest
  • The Award for Excellence in Inspirational Writing
  • The Humor Award

Don't miss out on all the CASH PRIZES!  See the submission guidelines here!

41st Southeastern Writers Workshop 
June 17-21, 2016 
Epworth by the Sea 
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


The Countdown Is On!

The deadline for submitting to SWA's 9 Workshop Contests is May 15 (@11:59pm)!

The 2016 Contests

  • The Hal Bernard Memorial Award for Novel
  • The G.T. Youngblood Award for Short Fiction
  • The Vega Award for Speculative Short Fiction
  • The Julie L. Cannon Award
  • The Bill Westhead Memorial Award
  • The Angel Award for Holiday Seasonal Writing
  • The Thomas Max "You Are Published" Contest
  • The Award for Excellence in Inspirational Writing
  • The Humor Award 

★  NO Entry Fees* ★  Cash Prizes  ★

See the complete guidelines here.  Look at some of our happy 2015 winners!  That could be you!

41st Southeastern Writers Workshop 
June 17-21, 2016 
Epworth by the Sea 
St. Simons Island, Georgia

*Contests are open to workshop attendees only.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Meet Our Scholarship Winners!

Congratulations to Charles Harned and Teresa Durham! 
We look forward to seeing you in June!

Many thanks to all our fine applicants!

41st Southeastern Writers Workshop 
June 17-21, 2016 
Epworth by the Sea 
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Join us for the 41st Southeastern Writers Workshop, June 17-21, and you can submit any or all of our contests ~ for FREE!

Register for one day or all four ~ there's no minimum requirement!  And there a so many contests to choose from!  Do you have a novel, a short story?  Maybe humor, inspirational or personal narratives?  No matter!  There's a contest for you!  And best of all...

Every contests awards CASH PRIZES!!

  • The Hal Bernard Memorial Award for Novel
  • The G.T. Youngblood Award for Short Fiction
  • The Vega Award for Speculative Short Fiction
  • The Julie L. Cannon Award
  • The Bill Westhead Memorial Award
  • The Angel Award for Holiday Seasonal Writing
  • The Thomas Max "You Are Published" Contest
  • The Award for Excellence in Inspirational Writing
  • The Humor Award

The submission DEADLINE IS May 15, 2016.  

Read the full guidelines on our website.

41st Southeastern Writers Workshop 
June 17-21, 2016 
Epworth by the Sea 
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Get Up To 3 FREE!

What would you give to have an award-winning author give you pointers on your manuscript?

Join us for the 41st Southeastern Writers Workshop, June 17-21, and you can submit up to 3 manuscripts for evaluation by our faculty ~ for FREE!*

For 2016, we have 4 categories for MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES:

  • Novel (Evaluator: David Fulmer)
    • The first chapter and a five-page synopsis
  • Nonfiction (Evaluator: Jedwin Smith)
    • The first chapter and a five-page synopsis –OR– Complete manuscript not over 1500 words 
  • YA Fiction (Evaluator: Michele Roper)
    • The first chapter and a five-page synopsis 
  • Screenplay (Evaluator: Michael Lucker) 
    • The first 10 pages and a 3-page synopsis 

The submission DEADLINE IS May 28, 2016.  

Read the full guidelines on our website.

* 2-day minimum registration required.

41st Southeastern Writers Workshop 
June 17-21, 2016 
Epworth by the Sea 
St. Simons Island, Georgia

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Lesson Learned From Another Writer’s Works

I learn something from every book I read. Today I re-learned the danger lurking in character names. In one paragraph, the author had Jamie, Jennifer and Jimmy. One danger is using a name that is acceptable for either sex. I had to think back to remember Jamie was not a guy. A couple of paragraphs later, a last name was mentioned. Oops. Whose last name?

Yes, the full name was given earlier, on a page I read yesterday, and I couldn’t remember the connection. I’ve read books by that author before—a national award-winning writer who is VERY successful—and I’ve had the same problem. First names give way to last names over and over—takes awhile for me to get them all straight, and I “ain’t no dummy.” Makes me wonder how easy it is for other readers to keep ‘em straight.

I have always tried to make it easy for my reader to recognize my characters’ names by the same rule a speaker is supposed to follow. The KISS rule, “Keep it simple, Stupid.” (The Stupid refers to the speaker and the author.)

I give ‘em a name, continue to use it, and keep in unlike any other character’s name.

In my upcoming memoir, I had to change names of real people because there three men with the same name:  Bob the hunter, Bob the game warden, and Bob the judge. I changed the hunter’s name, but each time I mention the warden or the judge, I made it clear who was who.  By the same token, I try to keep the story/writing above the  “simple” because if I don’t, I’ll lose the reader in the first couple of pages.

I think the most important aspect of writing is to avoid confusing the reader—and thereby losing the reader, who won’t come back for another book.

Susan’s novel When Darkness Fell won the Indie Award for best Regional Fiction. Her first novel The Bottom Rail placed as semifinalist in the Georgia Author of the Year Awards for first novel.  Two short stories won first place in their genres from the Knoxville Writers Guild in 2015.  She has won numerous awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry at various SWA workshops.  She has eight published books, two at the publishers.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Bonus Blog — 7 Days Remaining!

★☆★ WRITERS ★☆★

Would you like to attend the 41st Southeastern Writers Workshop

The 41st Southeastern Writers Workshop is June 17-21 at Epworth by the Sea on the gorgeous St. Simons Island, GA!  SWA is offering two scholarships!  One for Student Writers (high school and college) and one for Adult Writers!

Win one of two scholarships to the SWA Writers Workshop!

Here’s how to enter:

Student Writer: ages 15-25 and enrolled in high school or college.  If the student writer is under 18, a parent or guardian must accompany him/her.
Adult Writer: age 18 or older
Submit a 500-word essay describing your journey as a writer and how attending the 41st Southeastern Writers Workshop will change your writing life.  Include why you are the most deserving of the scholarship.  Student Writers must include the name of their school or college.
The entry deadline is midnight on April 18th. Please email your entry to with a subject line of SWA Student Scholarship or SWA Adult Scholarship.
The scholarship pays for tuition only.
Winners will be announced May 1st

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lessons Learned from a Private Investigator

from FundsforWriters, Volume 16, Issue 14

I write mystery, so that means I'm reading and researching sites, blogs, and books by cops, agents, and private investigators to make my work more authentic. However, in reading a PI site (Diligentia Group), I found the following post about lessons learned over the years as an investigator. I wasn't three items into it before I saw these lessons could be applicable to writers.

  1. Always be learning. Learn by doing and observing others.
  2. Know thyself. Know your strengths and where you need help, and don't be shy about either.
  3. Differentiate yourself. Don't be ordinary. Create a brand.
  4. Authenticity. Being genuine and authentic is very attractive these days when the world is wrought with fake and "Buy my book."
  5. Stick to your principles. Be honest and straightforward. Protect your reputation.
  6. Be helpful. Good things happen when you lend a helping hand.
  7. Don't be everything to everyone. Pick your genre, find your readership base, and avoid trying to write for every reader out there.
  8. Do work you are proud of. If you write slow, so be it. If you write Christian, erotica, YA; whatever the style, voice and genre, own it.
  9. You are never the smartest or dumbest person in the room. Ask questions. Learn more. Help others do the same.
  10. Don't stop thinking of new ideas. You're in a creative environment, and change is happening all around you. Be constantly seeking ways to be unique.
  11. Adapt. This industry changes fast. Roll with that change.
  12. Embrace technology. Yes, that means learning ways to publish, brand, and network, whether you like it or not.
  13. Follow the facts. Make decisions or form opinions based upon fact, not rumors, gossip, innuendos, or half-truths.
  14. Be inspired. Be aware of the world around you.
  15. Do great work. Don't shortchange the quality of your writing.
  16. Be skeptical. Operate with a critical eye. Don't fall for the latest class, how-to, software, or book that claims to teach you the perfect way to [fill in the blank].
  17. Persistence. Probably the most important of the list, persistence carries you through those times when you think you should not be writing.

Amazing the similarity, huh?

Thanks ~ Hope

C. Hope Clark is a freelance writing expert, author of the award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series,  and the Edisto Island Mystery Series, and editor of, a weekly newsletter service that reaches 40,000+ writers. Learn more at her website