Friday, October 21, 2016


By Diane A. McNeil

Recently, I signed up for classes on grant writing because of my affiliation with a local foundation.  The only reason I agreed to do so was because if you attended all weekly sessions, you received individualized assistance in preparing your grant.

There was no intent on my part to participate. I selfishly only wanted the freebies that went with attendance.  It was a rather large group, so there was lots of space in which to hide as a wall flower, or so I thought.  I did take notice, though, that the two moderators were older, no-nonsense, whip-wielding women who could teach military generals a thing or two.

One of our first assignments was to read our mission statement out loud, whether or not we felt like it.  After all 40 were read, then began the unexpected, intensely painful chipping away of everything that was not essential to “the” mission, on which we had spent hours perfecting.

The moderators told us to get rid of any “ands” in our statement.  But, but, but, ours was a good “and”; we needed it.  They said, you are either one thing or another, you can’t be both.  A real mission statement needs no and.  We had to decide on which side of that “and” we really belonged.  Then, we were told that a good mission statement should only contain about ten words – ours was 38!  After much grinding of teeth and even tears (really), we slashed ours down to 11 words – we weren’t budging on that last one. 

What we discovered was we had moved so far from our original mission, the calling we knew was from God.  We, ourselves, were no longer sure who we were.  We had ceased to be effective.

Immediately, I translated this to my writing.  What was my mission 20 years ago when I received that unmistakable call from God?   Is my mission something entirely different today?  When I write, do even I recognize the author?  Worse yet, does God recognize the author? 

I challenge you to run away, spend face-to-face time with God in prayer and write your own mission statement.  Has it changed as you have progressed as a writer?  Truthfully, are you still that child-like, trusting, tablet-and-pencil-in-hand-child you once were?  Or, are you sophisticated and pursuing the big names and the key spots?  Maybe all is well, but it still can’t hurt.  Take on another writing assignment – your mission statement.  Be honest enough to see who God sees behind that computer.  Remember, it can be no more than 10 words (okay, maybe 1 or 2 more), and you can have no ands.  Tears are okay – better to shed them here on earth than when standing before HIM. 
Diane A. McNeil was born and raised in a small, Delta town in Mississippi, the daughter of average, hard-working, common people. McNeil never aspired to write until one Sunday morning in 1995 when the Lord “undeniably” spoke to her about Ruth.  McNeil responded, “I don’t understand, but I am not giving up until I do.” Ten years later McNeil published her first book, Ruth 3,000 Years of Sleeping Prophecy Awakened, a 10-year journey that travelled through Jewish homes, Hebrew classes, Synagogues, Jewish weddings, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, funerals, circumcision ceremonies and much more, all of which unfurled the prophetic, ancient megilot (scroll) of Ruth. McNeil said, “I had to live it.” In 2007, McNeil published the companion workbook by the same title. In 2011, McNeil published Jewish Game Changers which details her many Jewish “ah-ha” moments. McNeil is currently President of Unknown Child Foundation, Inc., organized to educate about the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust, and created for the purpose of constructing a Holocaust Memorial Park to be located on the old Elvis Presley horse ranch in Horn Lake, MS. Social Media Links:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Greatest Fiction Known to Man

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

Those of you that are Social Media savvy can instantly spot a post that is from a tormented soul telling the world how everything in their life is rainbows and roses. How they love their perfect spouse and family and all is well with the world. Their post are so sugary sweet that it is apparent they are trying to convince the world and themselves they are living the life of perfection. I know such individuals and thought of them while watching a new television program called Designated Survivor. It reminded me of these fantastic fiction writers when one of the characters made the statement,

“Sometimes it is easier to lie to the world than to be truthful with yourself.”

This is one of those situations which you can only say, “Bless their hearts.”

In our current political atmosphere this phrase could also ring true. Having witnessed on a daily basis the workings of the government hand in hand with the political reasoning for each and every move I was shocked at the truth verses the media reporting at the end of the day. We at home are many times told what the media or powers at be want us to know or think. Unfortunately in both cases many times we do believe what we are presented with. This tells me this is the greatest example of fiction known to man. So what can we as writers learn from this?

The first thing I always notice is they tell their story without any obligation to the truth. They are totally committed to what they are presenting without any regard to the truth. No problem because after all this is fiction, right? With fiction the truth really doesn’t matter. You can go anywhere you like with it.

The second thing I see is they stay on focus and every post; every comment and every word are taking you in the direction they want you to go. It’s all said with the final result in mind. The final result being whatever it is they want you to believe. They stay on course with every word.

The third thing that really seems to free them up to write what they want is they feel no accountability toward anyone or anything. To write without accountability to any person or thing is an unbelievable freedom. No concerns, no worries, no problems! Wow what freedom!

So take some time to look over some of these social post and media promos and if you are privy to the truth of the matter you can see the creativeness and skill of these fiction writers living among us. 

We all have something there we can learn from and move forward with our fiction writing skills. And remember this is fiction, enjoy the freedom and write!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How I write 250-500 Words a Day

By Grace Brooks

Writing for me is a lonely occupation, and a solitary existence. It occupies a lot of my time, and leaves me with no social life.

Friends have asked me why I don’t go out with them more; they tell me I don’t know the first thing about having fun. I tell them I have fun my way.

When I answer I will be working at my writing at the time the social or whatever they want me to go to, is taking place, they look at me, roll their eyes and say, “Oh, yeah. Sure.”

So, how do I do it? How do I put up with the loneliness of writing?

Writing is not easy work. Writing is for the perfectionist. I want that word exact word that expresses perfectly what I’m saying. I don’t want messy writing with sentence fragments, too long sentences, and a story with a plot that moves forward instead of jumping back and forward.

The best way to write, I find, is to sit down and write. Don’t worry about how the story looks at first. I use handwriting just to get the words down on paper.

After I think I’ve finished the story, I go back and edit. Yes, edit. I find I cut a lot of scenes, then add more words, so the story is not shortened any. This will be done later if the story needs shortening...

Revise. Write. Revise. I ask a friend to read through the manuscript and give me feedback as how to improve on it.

Finally. My story is finished. It’s perfectly formatted; spelling has been checked, etc. Editors and publishing houses will be eager to grab up the manuscript and turn it into a book.

It works this way, sometimes. I’ve had one story published by an educational publishing house. All the rest of my books are self-published.

I write best in the early morning. I can be up at 1 or 2 am at my computer, working away.

Writing isn’t for the lazy person or the faint hearted. It’s a calling for me, a drive I cannot suppress. I must write.

It’s nice to see my books in print. My story has been told, a legacy to the world.

I write because it’s a must for me. I write because I have a lot inside me to say. It has to be brought out for the world to share.

That is why and how I write.

Christian author, Grace Brooks enables authors of all ages to experience the reality of the spiritual conflict as forces of good and evil clash. Open the pages of her books. As the conflict unfolds Grace Brooks leads readers, as she leads the Asquinn twins, Martin and Martha, and her many characters to learn that evil is real. They also learn that God has called Christians to be steadfast and unmovable in their faith as they earnestly contend for the faith. Grace Brooks was born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada. At age eighteen she went west to Manitoba. Her first job was in a native sanitarium in Ninette, Manitoba. Grace currently lives in northern Manitoba along with husband, Dennis, and pet Papillion. Grace’s publishing credits are A Dog for Keeps, written under the pen name Lynette Tamar Mark, The Asquinn Twins Come to forest Lake, The Asquinn Twins Where the Trail Forks, The Asquinn Twins no Greener pastures and The Asquinn Twins: Sihon, all under the name Heather Radford. She is currently working on Book five of the series. Grace is also an ongoing contributor to The Baptists for Liberty magazine. She’s published in a SENIORS magazine for Manitoba. I can be reached at: Website: and at:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Real True Actual Horror Stories

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

Even as I sit here writing, I'm hearing unseen sounds of baying wolves and creaking doors. It's coming from my neighbor's house across the way, who is testing the audio for his annual spook fest. He goes all out every Halloween and is the go-to house for all the kids in not just our neighborhood, but a bunch of others. I think they are brought in by bus.

My neighbor starts the preparation weeks before the big night, assembling his haunted grounds in late September, adding approximately one creature each day...a skeleton here, a Grim Reaper there. By mid-October, the few windows that aren't illuminated in black light purple have monstrous silhouettes shining through.  During this final week, he will construct a covered walkthrough leading up to his front door.  I don't know what the kids see when they brave this tunnel, but the continuous screams every October 31st suggest it's effective.

I got a much worse fright a few weeks ago when one of my external hard drives went silent.  I'm usually an obsessive backer-upper, with countless spindles of archive DVDs and external drives to back up my external drives.  But this was a fairly new drive I had purchased, and I figured backing up could safely wait a few weeks longer while I took care of other demands.

When the drive stopped being seen by my computer, my heart sank as I mentally calculated the large list of things I lost.  It included my most recent audio and video projects, writing works-in-progress, and—most regretful of all—family photos from the summer that could never be replaced.

It was a few days later, while charging my cellphone on a USB port, that I realized I had merely unplugged that drive, having mistaken its cord for my cellphone charger.  It's very possible that I danced a jig when I saw my files appear again, but I do know that the very next thing I did was start backing up everything in sight.

Others haven't been so lucky.  I spoke with an author friend just last month who lost a flash drive while on vacation.  Some of its contents, luckily, were backed up elsewhere, but too much of it is gone forever.  I read a blog post this week by another author who had just finished the first draft of her fourth novel. She barely had time to celebrate before the drive crashed. I can still feel the pain in her words, "I will never get those exact words back."

We all know people who've experienced this horror story. Maybe even you. In fact, it's much more likely that it has happened to you than it hasn't.

We're getting into the busiest part of the year, with holidays and families and year-end tasks of every description.  Don't let distractions become an excuse for not backing up your prized files. Think ahead to what it would be like to lose them, and you'll have plenty of motivation to take the five minutes here and there to do a flash drive or CD backup. Some authors copy their files to Google Drive or Dropbox for free; others pay for automatic backup via a cloud storage service.

Whichever method you choose, making a safety copy (or even two) of your important files will save you from the very real scare that can happen any day of the year.

Monday, October 17, 2016

How I Write – Part Two

By Bob Kern

Welcome back from Friday to my Part Two blog post on "How I Write." To date, book two has been a finalist for book of the year with one association, a finalist for eBook of the year with another, received a bronze award from the Nonfiction Writers Association. It was just selected as a finalist for Nonfiction History book with the Independent Authors Network with the book of the year winner to be announced on August 15, 2016.  The book has also been accepted in four other contests and awaiting results later in the year.  The book also was the bestselling Cold War book on Amazon for five weeks.

Most of book two's success and 4.7 rating can be attributed to my involvement and promotions in the specific Facebook groups, which is up to about forty Cold War groups.  I am very fortunate to have developed a great bunch of people who follow me and re-post my books to their walls helping promote the books.

I released book three on July 6, 2016 without offering it for free.  Instead, I ran a five day free book promotion on book one, giving away one thousand three hundred and twenty-eight books.  I had a great first month with book three and saw a nice bounce in sales for the first two books all month as well.  

During July, all three books hit the top 10 in Amazons Cold War category at the same time.  Book three hit number three in the top Military History category for top new releases on one day and was the top Military History/ Korea book for one week.  

I am convinced that for nonfiction publications like mine, involvement in Facebook groups for the particular subject is an easy way to have success with your book.  Once people get to know me, my commitment to this project on behalf of all Cold War veterans, they want to see me be successful and become an extension of my marketing efforts. 

I am attending an association meeting in September for veterans who served in Korea during the Cold War and plan on running the five-day free campaign just prior to the event to kick up interest.  I am confident the other two books will do well during this promotion.

I have used a bunch of paid and free advertising sites with very few of them standing out.  Book Gorilla seems to be the only one that always gets me a bump in sales.  I also like the Fuzzy Librarian.  I like Books Butterfly since they guarantee results and plan to try them soon with book three.  I have a huge list of free promotional sites for free eBooks and I’m going to use them all when I run book three promotion for free downloads.

As for my writing style, it is probably very different from everyone else.  I have each person I am featuring in the book complete a basic questionnaire so I can have the foundation for their chapter in place.  I then call each of them and visit for an hour or longer, writing notes and visiting to get to know each other better and get the particulars of their service and any unique stories they have.  I then put each veteran's questionnaire in chronological order of dates of service for my timeline.  I do some general research on the country and military history before writing and create a folder of bookmarks to sites with information I might use.  I also do a deep online search for any unclassified documents I can use for the book.  I don't research anything on each veteran until I begin writing their chapter.  This allows me to research specific subjects from their careers and created the proper footnote at the time I actually write about it.

Once all the chapters are done, I send each veteran their chapter to fact check it, make sure I didn't add something that wasn't relevant to them, and to toggle their memories for additional information I could use.  When I get everyone's chapter back, I make the appropriate edits.  I then put each of the chapters together to form the complete book and do a complete read through and edit, making sure chapter’s transition and information isn't duplicated.  Once I am happy with the edited book, I separate it by chapters once again and send them out to the veterans for one final look and approval before submitting the book to be edited.

This is probably an unorthodox way to write a book but I do what seems to work for me.
Bob Kern is an award winning author for his We Were Soldiers Too Series. Book 1 was a finalist for Nonfiction Autobiography Book of the Year in 2015 and has been nominated for Best First Published Book of the Year in 2016. Book Two was named a Finalist for Nonfiction eBook of the Year and Finalist for Nonfiction Military History Book of the Year in 2016. Bob was in the US Army for almost 8 years in the 1980's and during those years he was quickly educated about the military life that civilians never see or hear about. He decided to write and publish the story of his military career so that others may have an inside view of what it was like to be in the military at that time. Due to the overwhelming support and response from other Cold War Veterans, his first book has been turned into a Cold War documentary series telling the history of the Cold War from the perspective of the veterans who served during this critical time in history. Bob is the father of five children - Natalie, Bambie, Amber, Bob, and Rob. He resides in Bedford, Indiana with his wife Marsha and his three granddaughters; Sage, Jade, and Harmonie. Bob enjoys connecting with US veterans and sharing his stories with others. Bob’s social media links are:

Friday, October 14, 2016

How I Write – Part One

By Bob Kern

My first book, We Were Soldiers Too; Serving as a Reagan Soldier during the Cold War, was my autobiography covering my eight years in the military. I published it in January 2015. I did everything myself, from designing the book cover to building a website for the book.  I knew the book would likely have a very limited audience so I joined about fifteen Facebook groups for Cold War veterans and military groups who served in Germany.  I also created a private group for veterans in the books to track my progress and create a place to communicate.  It's turned out to be a tight knit group of people who are very interested in helping me sell the books even though it's small.

I offered the book free for five days in each of these groups and ended up giving away one thousand seven hundred copies.  Following the give-away book sales continued to climb and the reviews I got from most veterans were extremely positive.  In fact, many of them emailed me; private messaged me, or posted publicly on how much they enjoyed the book and how grateful they were that someone finally wrote a book about what it was like serving during the Cold War.  Many Cold War veterans feel like their service was for nothing since it they did not serve during combat.  Like me, they struggle with thanks for their service because of this, even feeling guilty about being thanked.

Because of the overwhelming response I was getting, I decided to write a sequel and use the careers of different soldiers, who had different jobs than mine and different service dates, for each chapter.  I posted my interest in all of the groups and asked for volunteers to share their service in this book. Once again, I was overwhelmed with the response and had to many volunteers for just one book.  I decided to turn the book into a series and published books two and three within six months of each other, and am working on four and five together for release at the end of this year, first of next year.

Book two came out on January 26, 2016 and I followed my marketing plan from book one.  I ran the book free for five days and gave away an astounding three thousand five hundred books. I knew I had at least four more books in the series and was already working on book three when I released book two.  I chose to do the free book days to build a following that would benefit me on the release of future books in the series.  An unexpected benefit I got was a huge bump in the sales of book one during the free promotion.

Book three was on Korea and Book four is going to be on the Cold War at Sea.  I joined every Facebook group I could find for these service groups, solicited volunteers, and mentioned the free promotion to continue building my audience.

Part Two will appear on Monday October 17, 2016.
Bob Kern is an award winning author for his We Were Soldiers Too Series. Book 1 was a finalist for Nonfiction Autobiography Book of the Year in 2015 and has been nominated for Best First Published Book of the Year in 2016. Book Two was named a Finalist for Nonfiction eBook of the Year and Finalist for Nonfiction Military History Book of the Year in 2016. Bob was in the US Army for almost 8 years in the 1980's and during those years he was quickly educated about the military life that civilians never see or hear about. He decided to write and publish the story of his military career so that others may have an inside view of what it was like to be in the military at that time. Due to the overwhelming support and response from other Cold War Veterans, his first book has been turned into a Cold War documentary series telling the history of the Cold War from the perspective of the veterans who served during this critical time in history. Bob is the father of five children - Natalie, Bambie, Amber, Bob, and Rob. He resides in Bedford, Indiana with his wife Marsha and his three granddaughters; Sage, Jade, and Harmonie. Bob enjoys connecting with US veterans and sharing his stories with others. Bob’s social media links are:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Happy 90th Birthday, Winnie the Pooh

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine

It’s been a big year for Winnie the Pooh. He helped the Queen of England celebrate her 90th birthday with a book featuring her grandson, Prince George. I blogged about this book debut entitled, Writing for Royalty. Of course this is only possible from the genius of author, A.A. Milne children's book series featuring Winnie-The-Pooh, a stuffed bear of the author's son Christopher Robin and his toy animal friends which debuted 90 years ago this week. 

These books have some of the best advice for adults who read these stories to their young charges. A unique ability for a children's book author. The Guardian interviewed author Brian Silbey who was commissioned by the Milne estate to expand the Winnie the Pooh stories with his book titled, The Best Bear in All the WorldIn this book you will find many of the beloved characters as well as a new one. 

It's tricky to write books with generations of readers who know the characters so well. Silbey acknowledges in the interview his job was,"about capturing the style of Milne’s writing. What makes … these tales so memorable is their ability to work on two different levels: the child listener to the story always understands what is happening just before Pooh and the others do; while the adult reading to the child engages by recognizing that, under their fur and feathers, the characters are just like people we know among our family, friends and colleagues."

These are some of my favorite Winnie the Pooh quotes found in the books of author A. A. Milne. Good advice for writers and adults in our too real world. 

“Love is taking a few steps backward maybe even more… to give way to the happiness of the person you love.”

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.”

My two all-time favorite Pooh quotes are inscribed on pendant charms on my well-worn bracelet with these words; 
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” and
“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

What about you? On this Winnie the Pooh's 90th Birthday what words of Pooh wisdom resonates with you?