Friday, January 20, 2017

Researching Saratoga Letters Part 1

By Elaine Marie Cooper

When I write my historical fiction novels, one of my favorite parts in the process is research. But that enjoyment became challenged when writing Saratoga Letters.

I usually write about just one era, focusing on the events, customs, and speech patterns of one decade in history. But two decades separated by 200 years? That’s where the challenge came in.

It all began when my husband and I visited Saratoga National Historical Park in 2014. I had long wanted to visit there, as one of my ancestors fought there in a 1777 Revolutionary War battle. It was both inspiring and grieving to imagine the loss of life that occurred there and the lives that were changed forever. I hoped that my writer’s muse would be stirred.

And it was—but not just from the battlefield. One of the historians happened to mention that there was a 200-year anniversary celebration in 1977 that attracted thousands from around the world to commemorate this important battle, which is often called the “turning point of the American Revolution.” “Tom Brokaw even came and spoke,” the historian said with enthusiasm.

I tucked that piece of information in my memory bank and we returned to the motel room in Saratoga Springs, New York. We were so tired of choosing typical motels along our long journey that when my husband pointed out this 1970’s style motel on the main street, I said “sure.” I was too tired to keep searching.

We grinned at the motel keys that were handed to us. It was a real key attached to a key chain, not one of the modern credit card-looking devices that unlock most hotel rooms in the 21st century. It was like visiting the past—but just a few decades ago.

The muse hadn’t been completely stirred though until we were getting ready to check out of the motel room after a two-day stay. “Where is my key?” I wondered out loud. As usual, I had misplaced my keys. My patient husband rolled his eyes. I never did find it until after we’d returned home a thousand miles later.

But by then, the muse had struck. I began envisioning not just characters in the battle, but also their descendants 200 years later who came for the bicentennial. My writer’s mind began weaving a plot of romance, danger, and suspense. Before we had reached our doorstep back home, I was tossing around ideas for a title.

Of course, I’d never written a book that required researching two completely separate centuries. And what surprised me even more was the ease with which I was able to glean facts for 1777—and the incredible challenge that researching 1977 became. There was no internet in 1977, so it was back to the basics. I pushed up my sleeves and started making phone calls.

Monday, January 23, 2017 Elaine will conclude her unique post entitled, "Researching Saratoga Letters, Part Two."
Award winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Saratoga LettersFields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. She has been captivated by the history of the American Revolution since she was young. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels. Her upcoming release is Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016), Book 3 in the Deer Run Saga. Cooper has been writing since she penned her first short story at age eleven. She began researching for her first novel in 2007. Her writing has also appeared in Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson and the romance anthology, I Choose You. She has also written articles for Prayer Connect Magazine, Splickety Prime Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Life: Beautiful Magazine. She began her professional writing career as a newspaper freelancer. You can read more at her website/ blog,
Facebook Author Page: Twitter: @elainemcooper

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Did You Write on Friday the 13th?

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

This past week, the first Friday the 13th of 2017 occurred. Do you avoid writing on the 13th, if it falls on a Friday? Does it matter? Are you superstitious? Do you get great ideas on a Friday the 13th?

A fear of Friday the 13th is called Paraskevidekatriaphobia, derived from the from the Greek words paraskeví meaning Friday, and dekatria meaning thirteen. Additionally, the number 666 is the number associated with the devil in many superstitions.

On January 13, 2017, Finnair created the quadfecta of superstitions. Flight 666 flew from Copenhagen to Helsinki. Helsinki airport's code is HEL, and the airplane was 13 years old. Flight tracker Twitter account Flightradar24 poked fun at the coincidence, saying: 'Would you dare to sit in row 13, on board Finnair flight 666 en route to Hel on Friday the 13th?' It's a crazy world, and we as writers get to craft stories that intrigue. As I've often blogged, real life events with a twist make for great fiction. 

All this hoopla about Friday the 13th made me think about a car tag we once had. The vehicle was a new-to-us used car. A baby blue Suburban with wood panels and a hunting dog sun screen on the back window. My husband waited in the long line to get our car tags and pay the taxes. When it was finally his turn, he paid the fees and was handed the tag. He looked at the tag and then at the clerk and said, "really?" A conversation ensued and to get a different tag it would require going to the end of the line. So the tag "HRH666" went on the truck, and for years we kept coming up with acronyms for the "HRH." Driving a vehicle with a "666" tag was empowering, but I'm not superstitious. 

What did I do on 1-13-17? I wrote this blog and a short story full of superstitious nonsense. It was fun. What did you write about on the first, Friday 13th, 2017?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


By Elbert Alberson

Who am I?   I am a challenger.   If you can do it, I can do it better.   Doubt me and I will show you. I never quit and I keep on writing.  When I get where I’m going, I will tell you.

My name is Elbert Alberson


Where am I from?   I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. I left home in 1959 to go and be somebody, do everything   I ever dreamed of, and travel the world. And that is what I did.  I have been there and done that.  Name it and I probably have been there and done that.  I once was told I would never live to be 20. I more than tripled that and there is no reason I made it this far on my own.   I believe in miracles, and that he walks with me and has allowed me to live this long for some reason.

What Genre do I write?  Biography, Military, Murder Mystery, Assassins, Detective, Adventure, Under water Treasure Hunting, Adventure and Excitement, Romance and Westerns.   Why so many? First of all, because, I learned a long time ago to write about what you know.  And I am the main character in most of my books and most of the stories are true, the names have been changed. The places are real and really happened Secondly, when a reader is looking for a book to read, I can attract 12 different type readers. If I only wrote one type book, then I write for only one market.   I ask myself how James Patterson sold 350 million books. The answer is he writes all kinds of books.  He even writes children and cook books and how to books.

My writing style?  I write for the majority of readers in the world.   I don’t write  documentaries, text books,  or  books that draws  that evil  English expert  that wants to pick everything to death.  I write for the average person that is looking for a story that will hold him, anxious to get to the next page and when finished will look for my latest book.  I write a lot like Stuart Wood and Sandra Brown.

Follow rules?  No, I’m not a PHD of the English language   nor do I want to match wits with another PHD.

Written anything the world is anxiously waiting to read?  No. probably never will.
Have an editor?  I have a few books that have been edited by an English PHD.  But those books don’t sell as good and are not as easy to read as the ones I edit.  I edit them 5 or 6 times and I still miss things.  But, I have only had one book returned that I know of.  And they are so involved in the story; they don’t notice a comma in the wrong place I guess.  No one has ever complained and they brag on the stories. 

Pay for book covers?  No, I do my own.

Is anything challenging in my writing?  At times. When I need more material or add on story.  I do research and find   real actual things that occurred and blend them into my stories. 

For example modern day scuba divers are diving for gold that Pancho Villa   stole from a train in 1823.  I might put into the story, where did the gold the divers are looking for, come from and why.

Most of my characters write themselves, only a few do I write the characters.  One character I wrote of was a red headed Scottish man.  He was mysterious   that drew you to him.  Where is he going every day, where has he been and who is he really.  He was a diamond thief burglar that broke into a house and safe stealing a million dollars’ worth of diamonds that was stole from a Jewish man.

Do I ever write myself into my books?  Yes, I have. The book I’m writing now has a woman reading a book written by Elbert Alberson. LOL Those that know me will get a kick out of it.  Those that don’t won’t even notice it.

Is writing my only job?  Yes, I’m retired and I write off and on all day and night, every day.  Sometimes a thousand words, sometimes 2000 words at a time.

Who would I like to meet and talk too from the past, if I could?  General Patton.

Found a great new way to market books?   Well, library book readings, launches and book signings, sell a few books.  I built stands that hold at least 2 of all 12 of my books and placed stands in 2 pharmacy and Gift store.  By ordering 36 books at a time, the shipping is miniscule compared to one at a time. A booth at a big car show in the lady’s section is air conditioned and sells a lot of books but they better sell because the cost of the space is high. It’s best   if you do that to have several authors to work in shifts and share the cost of the space.

What makes me stand out among other writers?  Most of the writers I know have one or two books published.  I have 12 and of mixed genre. My best seller is my autobiography.  Why?  Because I advertise on Facebook to school class reunions of two schools that I went to.  Another thing that helps is the story of Elvis and me and Johnny cash and me and singer Ed Townsend and me.  My military days gave me two books and I have them in Air Force Museums, other book stores and Military groups on Facebook.   Also the fact I have been to 14 countries and 26 states.  I have been all over the world and have stories of real life   experiences.
The biggest tip I could give any writer is, Keep on Writing. I have three books in the making and ides for several more. The more the merrier because you are selling to a much larger crowd of mixed genre.
ELBERT ALBERSON was born in Memphis, Tennessee.  He left home at an early age joining the Air Force and traveled extensively.  During his travels, mostly in the Air Force and in the early stages of Vietnam, he experienced   adventures  of a life time flying  North  to  Newfoundland, South to  the Azores in Portugal and  the Far East to include Vietnam,  Japan, Philippines,  Cambodia, Laos,  Australia, Thailand,  Okinawa, Burma and Singapore.  He experienced   near death incidents multiple times and learned the many customs and traditions in these countries.  This has led to many stories to tell, most of his story lines are fictional stories and people. After serving his time in the military, his adventures continued   through his associations with the sport of Scuba Diving for many years. There are many stories of real Experiences of Adventure and Excitement. Most story lines are fictional stories.  But Elbert is the main character in most of his books with real people and places in his books. Because of his travels and experiences and the research required to write his stories to include real historical events and actual happenings, you will relive and experiences through his eyes. Elbert and his wife live in a small town in South Georgia.  Being retired now, gives him the opportunities to write his books, his experiences and historical Adventures he has had in mind for years.  His books include:   Cotton Top Remember Me,   Red Bull,   Cay Sal,   Diamonds and Gold,   Old Gold,   Fire Island, The Italian Incidents,   River of Intrigue   and   Memphis Intrigue 1940. Links:  Twitter   @EAlberson  Website

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Are You Worrying About Reaching Readers?

By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief for Southern Writers Magazine 

Some authors are starting their new year off worrying about how they are going to reach readers. 

They are aware of all the books being published –since it is so easy now for independent writers to self-publish.

Instead of fretting, here is something for you to remember.

Even though there are a lot of people publishing many of those writers (if I were a betting man I would say 80% of those writers) do not spend the money required to hire editors to edit their work and help them with the flow of their writing. Hence, their writing leaves a lot to be desired especially when readers are falling over all the misspelled words, wrong punctuation or very little punctuation and literally there is no flow to the story.

Readers don’t like this. They may buy one of those books, but they won’t buy that author again. And they will be more cautious on buying an unknown author again.

This means they will look for authors who spend the time, and effort to hone their craft and hire that editor to polish their manuscripts before they are published.

Word of mouth is wonderful for an author, it can also be deadly. Every time a reader picks up a book from one of those authors, you can bet they will be spreading the word to people they know.

So don’t fret about reaching those next readers, concentrate on writing the best book you can and making sure it stands out with good editing and a great cover.

Monday, January 16, 2017

What I Wish I Knew Before…

By Marianne Spitzer

Recently, a young woman asked me what I wish I knew before I began writing and what I learned about writing and self-publishing. It’s not a difficult question. Writing the book is the easy part, but there are lessons to be learned. I read and heard more often than I can count to write what you know. It is good advice, but for many of us, that limits our genre base. I am not a big fan of sci-fi and would never attempt to write in that genre. I imagine writing an alien battle would be a disaster.

I prefer a bit of advice I received from a fellow indie author: write what you love and what you think people will read. For me, that was easy. Mystery. My first love were Nancy Drew books and other mysteries followed. I also love the paranormal. Combining the two was easy for me. My first book was in the paranormal mystery genre. I also enjoy cozy mysteries and Western historical romance. I wrote books in both genres. I admit I did not know much about the Western settlement of this country, but I loved reading about mail-order brides. When you research a subject you love, it becomes enjoyable and not tedious.

I think it boils down to one piece of advice I can share. Write from your heart. Embrace the subject of your story, write with emotions you feel, and build characters that step out of the book into the minds of your readers.

The hardest part is after the book is written. You have two decisions to make. Do you try to find an agent and publisher, or do you self-publish?

For me, that was self-publication. I did submit to a few publishing companies and received kind rejections, but they were still rejections. I chose self-publishing and have yet to regret my choice. I would advise any new author to begin building a reader base as soon as possible. Social media is the least expensive way to start. Let people know about your book before you publish it. Start a blog and share a few lines from each chapter as you finish. It will help you to move forward, and the feedback will allow you to gauge feedback. Readers will let you know if they enjoy how your story is progressing or not. Their opinions are invaluable.

One last thing I needed to learn was how to accept rejection gracefully. That includes rejection from family, strangers, friends and myself. If you read a scene you wrote and wonder how you managed to blunder badly, do not be afraid to delete or rewrite it. Our first ideas are not always our best. Rejection from others is hard, but remember not everyone likes the same thing. Do not take it personally even if the review or comment attacks your ability to write.

One last bit of advice, keep writing for as long as it brings you joy.
Marianne Spitzer says “my passion is writing. When I am not writing, I am reading or watching sunsets. I have been writing short stories since I was in elementary school. Most were in the form of essays relating real-life events. Many were purely imaginary trips to magical places and times. I enjoy making up stories about people I meet or see on the street. My imagination runs wild and free. Besides my fifteen self-published novels, I have two paranormal short story collections and a children’s book. I’ve read and love supernatural stories and mysteries since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book. I also read all the Hardy Boys books I could find. I am a fan of Stephen King, Wendy Corsi Staub, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie. Poe and H.P. Lovecraft are also two of my favorite authors.  I write fiction and supernatural mystery is my genre of choice. I also write cozy mysteries, Western historical fiction, and a thriller. I love spring, summer, and starlight, but snow and ice make my dislike list. I am a chocoholic. I have two children and two grandchildren who are the joys of my life.  For more information on all my books, please visit my website Marianne Spitzer, Author, Amazon site Marianne Spitzer on Amazon,  my blog Musings Under the Willow Tree., Facebook page Marianne-Spitzer, Author or follow me on Twitter @MarianneSpitzer

Friday, January 13, 2017

Writing in the World of Magical Realism

By Vickie Carroll

I've always been interested in "the other"--the things, people, and places, just slightly out of the ordinary.  My grandmother used to say, "She’s just one step up and to the side" when referring to her cousin, who she claimed was a bit fey. I like people who are a bit fey but that could be because I am one. This is all part of what led me to write my book, The Witches of Half-Moon Island.

I was ten when I discovered two gravestones on the property connecting our land with the neighbors. A husband and wife had rested there for over eighty year before I stumbled upon them.  I amused myself for years wondering about that couple--what they looked like, where they had lived on the land and how did they die? Did I walk over land they had walked on? I wanted to push back that veil and step back in time to see for myself. Writers file away these incidents in that special brain-drawer and they floats to the surface when needed. Okay, maybe we are a little fey. I hasten to add I'm using the definition of fey as whimsical, other worldly and mysterious, not the Scots and British slant...being in high spirits preceding death. Though I've seen that with my own eyes too. That's another story.

Some years ago I lived in Charleston, South Carolina for about six months.  It's a town so steeped in history and romance that one must be devoid of imagination to resist its charm and not feel and hear the spirit of the place. I fell in love with Charleston for the same reasons that I love Savannah. I was and still am, enchanted by all those outer islands from Charleston to Savannah that sit out there in the ocean, near but apart, kind of the same but different.  While my friends wondered about the people lucky enough to live on those islands in the present, I wondered about those who had settled there long ago. That wondering led me to my book.

My imagination allowed me access to a mythical island off the coast of Savannah. I populated the island with Native Americans who were struggling to control their rogue medicine man who was getting too acquainted with the dark arts. I added a community of witches who had escaped persecution in England. Yes, I was asking for trouble. The medicine man's fear and hatred of the witches became so strong (you'll have to read my book to find out why) that as he lay dying he cursed the witches and their descendants yet to be and vowed to return and destroy them.

When the story picks up in modern day we find the witches, all but one, have let their powers go stale as they tried to fit in with modern times and the people who had come to the island over the years. It is up to this modern day group of women to contend with the spirit of this medicine man when he returns. The fight for their island and their very lives, brings a family back together, and brings Anna, my main character, some enormous challenges.

I've been asked several times why I wrote about these people and this place. I never know exactly where an idea comes from but suddenly it is there in my head.  I wrote about these people dealing with age-old themes but overlaid with a touch of magic. At its core it's about how much we will sacrifice for those we love; good versus evil; and the destructive power of hate. Every person and every generation deals with these same themes.  I will continue to write magical realism in some form because I can't help trying to peek behind that veil. Something is always there for us to find.
Vickie Carroll is a published author of short stories, essays and articles who lives in an Atlanta suburb. Her recent book-length fiction efforts produced two books. The Witches of Half Moon Island will be released via The Wild Rose Press in late spring or early summer if all goes well. Her next book, The Ghost of Kathleen Murphy, has been submitted and she has high hopes some editor will love it. While both books are various stages of being born, she is back to the computer and working on Murder at the Peach Blossom Inn. Alas, no ghosts or witches, just a murder or two.  She reports being called Mrs. King now and then due to her dark subject matter. She does not mind at all.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

One of Our 1,032 Authors Attended the Golden Globes!

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

As of the Jan/Feb 2017 issue 1,032 are the number of Authors we have promoted in Southern Writers Magazine since we began in 2011. You may be one of the 1,032 and if so you are in good company. Many of our authors have done well. Many have been recognized for their abilities with acknowledgements from their peers, publishers and institutions.

While watching the Golden Globes on Jan 8th, 2017 I noticed one of our 1,032 authors in the crowd of celebrities. Later I found that he was also a nominee in the Best Actor in a Drama category for Captain Fantastic! Yes, there sat Viggo Mortensen, the poet. Mortensen graced our Issue #6 in 2012. The article was titled On the Poet’s Road and was written by Sherry Perkins as a fantastic insight to the actors handling of rejection. I offered a Suite T post on this in May 2012 you can read. Better yet you can order a back copy of issue #6 and read the magazine article on Viggo Mortensen. It will be well worth your time.

The important thing to note about Mortensen and the other 1,031 authors is they all have shared with us what their thoughts are on writing and the way they have found to be the best for them to do so. In business it is said the “Sin of the Desert” is to know where the water is and not share it. These authors know where the water is and they are more than willing to share that with each of us that want to know. You can only imagine how invaluable the knowledge shared by these thousand plus authors can be to the new, the published or the established author.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to gain some of this knowledge you can begin today. Don’t let another issue go out without your name on it. 

Also read our blog site Suite T every day. It too has a lot to offer from our authors. Become knowledgeable and once you do you too can share with others where the water is. Go to our Home Page and click on Subscribe today! 

Who knows, we may even see you at the Globes!