Thursday, December 22, 2011

Larry Brown Biography

I'd heard of Mississippi author Larry Brown, but after reading this great review of his biography in Southern Literary Review, I realize I need to get cracking and read some of his work! His books include Dirty Work, Father and Son (which won the Southern Book Award), and Big Bad Love, which inspired a 2001 movie by the same name. He passed away in 2004 at the age of 53.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Selp pub writer wins Southern Fiction Award

I am quite excited about this news because it shows that self published authors can have as much quality and clout as "regularly" published authors. Jessica James (I like that name, too!) has won the 2011 John Esten Cooke Fiction Award for her historical fiction novel Noble Cause.

The award is presented each year by to an author of a historical novel dealing with the South. According to a press release: "Other John Esten Cooke Award winners include New York Times bestselling authors Donald McCaig for Jacob's Ladder, Robert Macomber for Point of Honor, and Harry Turtledove for The Guns of the South."

In the coming months and years, I hope more self published books win literary awards, as it will show agents and publishing companies that they really need to pay attention to indie writers! Do you know of any other indie award winners? Please let me know, and I'll post them here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Sale!

Please grab a copy of my ebook, Rocky Road, for only $1 while the sale lasts! Just enter code FX88C at checkout. You can find it at:

Rocky Road is a mini collection of four short stories, all wacky and set in the South. You can read free previews on the website above. Sale ends Christmas day!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Southern writer Jesmyn Ward

Mississippi author Jesmyn Ward has won the U.S. National Book Award for her second novel Salvage The Bones about a family living through Hurricane Katrina. Check out this interesting article about her in The Guardian.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Comparing Southern writers to Dostoevsky

Check out the really interesting premise of Benjamin Saxton's thesis at Rice University. He analyzes the "Southern grotesque" of Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, and William Faulkner and argues that they were influenced by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Put very simply, both the Southern writers and the Russian writer used "grotesque" misfits to illuminate truths about the world at large. Saxton takes Southern literature to a whole new level!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Indie Thursday

Help promote indie bookstores everywhere by Tweeting about your purchases from an independent bookstore every Thursday. See the site: for more info. Start spreading the word!

Okay, yesterday I visited Purple Crow Books in Hillsborough, NC, and bought some children's books by local authors and a CD by Katharine Waylan and Her Fascinators. Good timing, huh?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Author Interview: Savannah Rose

I recently interviewed Savannah Rose, a contemporary romance author from Southside, Alabama. She's written two romance novels -- And That, My Dear, Is What Love Is and Whistle Creek -- and shared some great insights about being a Southern writer.

Please tell us briefly about yourself—when you first began writing and a little bit about your novels.

I was born in Alabama and I have always lived in Alabama. I am an identical twin; my other half will tell you she is the baby. We are eleven minutes apart. I write and she draws. I’ve always been interested in writing ever since I was old enough to remember. My mother spent her hard earned money keeping me and my twinsy stocked in notebooks and pencils.

About the time I turned twenty-five or so, I discovered an author by the name of Kaye Gibbons. When I read her first book Ellen Foster, I fell in love with the way she wrote. So Southernly, so normal. I guess I can say normal because she wrote like I spoke. And that was what I wanted to do. I’d struggled to find a voice, but after reading her novel(s), I realized I had a voice. My Southern voice. And so that was how it all started. My novels are always based in the South. And you will always find a set (or two) of twins somewhere in the characters. Just a little tribute to my wonderful twinsy, Pam.

Your first novel, And That, My Dear, Is What Love Is, is available as a paperback, and your second, Whistle Creek, is available only on Kindle. Why did you decide to only use Kindle the second time around?

Well, just to be frank, I had, and continue to have, a bad experience with my publisher. I knew when I began the Whistle Creek series I didn’t want to go back to this particular publisher. In fact, I’m waiting out my contract duration to buy my rights back on And That, My Dear, Is What Love Is. Let me clarify: I believe other people may have a wonderful experience with this particular publisher; however, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

Okay, so as I was saying, I decided when I began the Whistle Creek series that I wanted to try something different while I searched for another publisher. I researched many eBook publishers and found Kindle to be the easiest and offered a great percentage to the author/publisher. (By the way, Whistle Creek is also available on the Barnes & Nobles website for Nook users.) I will definitely use the eBook option with each book I finish because it’s easy, profitable, and it gets your name out there for others to see.

What are the advantages/disadvantages to also having print copies of your novel?

I have to say, even though I love the ease for readers when it comes to eBooks, there’s nothing like seeing your name and your words in print. I will always be a traditional book reader and writer. It just seems so difficult to get a book printed these days without the publisher demanding money for everything. Hence, the situation I’m in now with my first book.

The Advantages:  The advantages are more traditional reasons to me than anything else. Most collectors would prefer a novel, short story, documentary, or poem collection in print. That’s something to hand down to the kids and grandchildren. I have books that my Mom and my Grandmother bought for me when I was a child and I enjoyed reading with my children and now my grandchildren those same books. Those are moments that you can’t experience with an eReader, in my opinion. Another advantage would be I can donate copies to the local libraries. I haven’t quite figured out how to do this for an eBook.

The Disadvantages: The disadvantages of having print copies? Well, I personally can’t think of a reason other than it’s difficult getting books in print. With so many POD publishers out there, it’s like a shark feeding frenzy. I’m not saying they are all bad, but the ones I’ve reviewed didn’t get very high marks with other authors. And my own experience with the current publisher on And That, My Dear, Is What Love Is expects the authors to pay for EVERYTHING. And not at a very low rate, mind you. I believe an author should be paid and not expect to pay others to print their books. Again, just my opinion.

You live in Alabama and your novels are set in Alabama and Tennessee—do you consider yourself a Southern writer?

Yes, I do. I not only write in a Southern voice, but being from the South, I can honestly say I’m a “Southern Writer.” I love Southern slang. My husband, who was born in Ohio and raised by Northern parents (his father is actually from Scotland), didn’t have the privilege of learning the proper Southern slang and their meanings. I kid him because he can’t hear his father’s accent. It’s a Scottish/Northern accent with a “Y’all” at the end. Quite cute.

My Southern upbringing has a great deal of influence on my writing. I create characters based on my country grandparents and my city grandparents, my cousins, friends, siblings, and my parents. In the South we are exposed to many wonderful sights such as decked-out lawnmowers, four-wheelers, trailers (that would be mobile homes or manufactured homes to others), huge hair, and lots of camouflage (mostly on women in the off seasons). Really, I love living in the South. And even though I’ve dreamt of moving off after I retire, it will be to another Southern state such as Tennessee or Florida. I think the mountains or the beach would be a great place to draw in inspiration for my craft.

What has been the biggest challenge in becoming a professional writer?

Again, I hate to keep going back to the same answer, getting read. It’s difficult when an aspiring author pours her/his heart into their work, then studies how to write the perfect query letter only to send out the perfect query letter never to receive a reply. That’s very difficult and heartbreaking. But I won’t give up and neither should any of you out there. Keep writing, keep sending those perfect query letters, keep researching publishers, and keep publishing through eBook publishers. The bottom line is this: If don’t keep trying, I will never have a chance of succeeding.

What’s been the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part of writing, for me, is having my friends come up to me and say they can’t wait to read my next book. Whistle Creek is the first book of the Whistle Creek series. This series will include two more books: Christmas By The Creek scheduled to be released December 2011 for Kindle and Nook and Whistle Creek Wedding scheduled to be released Spring 2012 for Kindle and Nook.

I love to hear readers’ feedback. In fact, I encourage them to contact me through email, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or just face to face. I welcome positive and negative feedback. One of my friends, a student from work, came bouncing into my office. I work at the local Community College as an Administrative Assistant for the Technical Division. Anyway, she informed me she checked my book And That, My Dear, Is What Love Is, from the local library and took it to the beach with her on an unexpected weekend getaway. She informed me she never, NEVER, reads Romance. However, she said she couldn’t put it down. She now is waiting for Whistle Creek to come out in paperback J.

What sort of publicity have you done for your novels—obviously, social networking, but any local readings? Has it been hard to do your own marketing?

Word of mouth is always a great publicity tool. Tell a friend, they tell a friend, they tell a friend and so forth. I have created business cards that have all my contact info, publishing info, and the titles of my books on them and I leave them at random places wherever I may go. I could one day be eating lunch out with the hubs and I leave a business card with the tip. That’s always a great trick.

I’ve also talked to the local library about participating in the April 2012 Local Authors Book Fair. I hope to be able to purchase enough And That, My Dear, Is What Love Is copies for that event. See, there’s a con for eBooks right there. How do you sell your eBook at a Book Fair? Well, there’s no guarantee sell, but I plan to promote Whistle Creek by handing out small postcards I created with the blurb, websites for downloading, and price per download. And another thought that crossed my mind while I was creating these postcards, if someone wants a signed copy of Whistle Creek or any of the upcoming Whistle Creek series books, I will sign the postcard. Gotta think outside the box.

The larger bookstores won’t allow me to have book signings or book readings from And That, My Dear, Is What Love Is, because the publisher is a POD and does not distribute to the larger bookstores. I’m still researching how to promote an eBook.

So far, it has been difficult to promote the books through other channels besides social networking. But I plan to be able to accomplish more sales once I have the series completed. And who knows? By then, I may even have a publisher on my side.

Who are some of your favorite Southern authors?

Kaye Gibbons, as I mentioned earlier. She writes lovely books such as Ellen Foster, A Virtuous Woman, and Charms for the Easy Life. Ms. Gibbons was born in Nash County, NC.

Another Southern author I’ve recently discovered doesn’t really write Southern novels per say. He is a Southern writer in the sense he lives in Huntsville, AL. Austin Boyd's Nobody's Child was a prize I won from a blogger bud's site. It is a Christian based novel about a topic that could be controversial to this genre. However, his writing is similar to Kaye Gibbons in the sense he writes with a Southern voice.

And I can't complete this interview without throwing out a piece of trivia. Linda Howard (Linda Howington) is from Alabama. In fact, she lives in Hokes Bluff, AL which is only a short fifteen to twenty minutes from my home. I have also had the privilege to work with her daughter-in-law, Donna Howington, at our local college. I hope to one day get the courage up to ask Donna if her mother-in-law might have the time to read one of my novels. But for now, the dream of her being from my area and breaking through the big house publishing business, keeps my dream of doing the very same thing alive.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eudora Welty and Southern writers

I found this interesting article about Eudora Welty in The New York Times. As well as talking about her life, her works, awards, etc... one particular paragraph caught my attention:

For decades she was pigeonholed by critics who placed her with William Faulkner, Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connor and Carson McCullers as a writer of the so-called Southern School. Her reputation as a regional and apolitical writer was often cited as a reason for her failure to win a Nobel Prize. But her work, like that of those other Southern writers, transcended region and possessed a universal relevance and appeal.

I've heard this said before -- that regional writers don't get as much respect as national (or global?) writers. What do you think? Does being classified as "Southern" hurt a writer? Does it limit his/her success? I'm thinking of NC authors Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle in particular -- being Southern doesn't seem to have hurt their careers. But what does everyone else think?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Southern Appalachian Film Festival

Looking for some great Halloween films? Check out the Southern Appalachian Film Festival, beginning tomorrow (Oct. 31) and running through Nov. 4. held on the four campuses of Pellissippi State Community College in Tennessee. My favorite film description?

"A locally-themed documentary, 'Hollywood to Dollywood,' tells the story of twin brothers Gary and Larry Lane, who journey to Pigeon Forge from Dolly Parton's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in a camper they name 'Jolene,' to hand-deliver a movie script to Parton."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In memory of Nicky

I'm no poet, so apologies to all poets and poetry lovers out there! But I wanted to record a few words in memory of my cousin, Nicky, who died earlier this month. We used to hang out as kids (I'm the chubby blond one in the photo). If you've lost a loved one and want to post a short poem, let me know.

“Bouncing Down the Heather”

Brown eyes and dark hair,
a mischievous grin
and contagious laugh
brought out the adventurous side in me.
Stories of “all-nighters” with his friends at the park,
rave music,
tricks on his BMX.
We’d sneak Granny’s biscuits out of the kitchen and up the stairs
to the Big Room.
One night, we crept outside and rolled a car in Arthur Street.
We shared slingshots
and walked 7 miles to Save the Whales.
He was cheeky,
never boring,
a spark always burning.
laughter, and joy.
Always trying.
He reminded me of Granddad,
bouncing down the heather.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Coupon crazy!

Just figured out how to create coupons on If you'd like 50% off my mini-collection of short stories, Rocky Road, just enter the code KN56A during checkout. Aren't coupons great! "Sale" ends November 1.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Article in Our State mag.

Please check out my article in the October issue of Our State magazine. It's about Carrboro, NC, writer Daphne Athas. She taught at UNC-Chapel Hill for 41 years and just recently published a kind of historical memoir, Chapel Hill In Plain Sight by Eno Publishers.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Catching up...

Don't have  anything substantial to report on just yet... Just got back from Scotland on a family trip. Had hoped to visit The Writers' Museum in Edinburgh, but there just wasn't time. Also wanted to make it to Scotland Street, where reportedly Ian Rankin, J.K. Rowling, and Alexander McCall Smith live. But found out that they actually live in the Merchiston area in the southwest part of Edinburgh, which would have been harder to get to, anyway!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rocky Road now available

Need something short and sweet to read while you're on the go? Check out my mini-collection of four short stories, Rocky Road, now available on Smashwords:

You can download a free sample in just about any format (.pdf, .html, nook, Kindle, etc...). Let me know what you think!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Author Interview: Lisa Logan

Lisa M. Logan is a North Carolina native who loves to write short stories, screenplays, and novels. Death by Clogging is her collection of short stories, which you can find on Smashwords and Amazon. Currently, she's working on her first novel, to be published later this fall.

Please tell us a little about your collection. What sort of style or tone is it?
It's about a variety of people from all walks of life, thrown into challenging situations. The tone is maybe dark comedy. The style ... well, I don't know if it has a style at all! It includes the story "Uncle Frank," which is about a Vietnam War hero who is now a cross-dressing farmer. Another story is "Dandelion Wish," the story of a mother driven by desperate circumstances to live as a fugitive with her young son. "Angry Nipple," is a cautionary tale of extreme jealousy. And the title story, "Death by Clogging" is about exactly that.

Are the stories primarily set in the South, and if so, do you consider yourself a Southern writer?
They are all set in the South. "Angry Nipple" could be set anywhere, though. Yes, I consider myself a Southern writer. I try to set my stories in Southern locales because the South has always been a unique place to live, where people still hold on to old-time traditions, and not everyone has been culture-washed by television shows like MTV and VH1.

You have a master's in creative writing. Do you think those who want to write (and get published) should go to school for it, or is it more about learning as you go?
I think it's more about learning as you go. I know of successful writers who didn't earn their master's degrees, and they did just fine. I think you need to study the authors in your favorite genre and see what they're doing -- what techniques they are using to draw the readers in. What are they doing right? I ask myself when I'm reading my favorite authors' works, "Why do I like this story so much? What is this author doing to get me to feel this way about this passage? How is he/she pushing my emotional buttons?"

Why did you decide to publish your collection on Kindle?
I read about a young author Amanda Hocking who has become an indie ebook sensation. She's become a millionaire in, like, 10 months by selling her vampire adventure/romance novels. Reading about her success made me decide to just do it and see how many I can sell online. Plus, there's a lot more freedom to publishing on Kindle, Nook, and other epublishing venues. You have more control.

Who are some of your favorite Southern writers?
Truman Capote is my favorite of all time. His descriptions and scenes are so vivid. I can only hope to write half as well as that. I also like Flannery O'Connor's work.

What's your "guilty pleasure" reading?
Anything Stephen King. He's a wonderful writer and really draws you into the story.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Banned book week

Okay, I'm piggy-backing off Marianne Wheelaghan's blog entry and am talking about Banned Book Week next week. Every year, this event "highlightes the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States."

Some of the books challenged in 2010:
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

What's the difference between a challenge and a banning?
According to the American Library Association, "A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection."

Can you imagine a world without Aldous Huxley, Judy Blume, or Toni Morrison, all of whom have been challenged? Scary!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Deep South Lit. Mag

Have you heard of Deep South Magazine? I just discovered it today: "an online magazine connecting the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and parts of Texas and Florida." They have a Southern Voice literary section that accepts submissions of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Worth a try!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: The Blue Suitcase

I've mentioned author Marianne Wheelaghan a few times on this blog -- she's a self-starting writer and entrepreneur who created She recently published her first novel, The Blue Suitcase, through Pilrig Press, and although she's not Southern (she's from Scotland, my native home), she faces the same challenges we all face. How to get the word out about her book, how to juggle writing and the rest of her life... her story is our story.

The Blue Suitcase is historical fiction, set around World War II. Antonia lives in Silesia, formerly part of Germany, with her opinionated family. Her parents are outraged that one son, Hubert, wants to join Hitler Youth and the other, Hansi, is a member of the Communist Party. Antonia's two sisters are fighting over which one of them should be sent off to become a nun. But all Antonia wants to do is celebrate her 13th birthday in peace! Things only get worse in 1933 when Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany and begins national boycotts of Jewish businesses and starts rounding up anyone who disagrees with his policies. Hansi disappears, Hubert joins the Hitler Youth march, and Antonia's mother loses her job. Women are meant to be at home taking care of the family, according to Hitler. Not surprisingly, family is the first thing to crumble under the harsh new regime.

The novel follows Antonia's struggles to find work, a home, and later simply to survive as the war ravages Germany. Marianne has flawlessly recreated images of rubble-infested Breslau and emaciated German citizens forced to evacuate their homes on foot, despite the frigid winter. It was hard to put this book down -- I had to find out what happened to Antonia, her family, and the German people. The book is all the more powerful because it's based on real events.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011 SIBA Awards!

If you haven't yet heard, SIBA (Southern Independend Booksellers'Alliance) announced this year's winners on July 4th. Check out SIBA's website, and for a great overview of the winners and other literary news, see the excellent Authors 'Round the South blog.
Here are a few of the winners:
Fiction: Burning Bright by Ron Rash
Nonfiction: The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family by Jim Minick
Poetry: A House of Branches by Janisse Ray

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Submit a play!

If you're a Southern playwright looking for an audience, you might want to submit a play for consideration in the Southern Writers' Project Festival of New Plays. The weekend-long festival is held in the spring of each year as part of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF). If your play is chosen for the festival, it'll also be considered for future ASF productions. There are two conditions: 1) You must be a Southern writer 2) Your script must be set in the South or deals specifically with Southern issues, characters, or themes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Interesting article in Glamour

Katie Couric has an interesting interview with Kathryn Stockett in Glamour Magazine. Stockett makes the point that it's hard to answer the question, "How does the African American race feel about the book?" as it's not as though all African Americans have the same point of view...
Now, I feel dumb for asking the question at all! Maybe the point is to not focus so much on one perspective but give everyone a chance to be heard -- which is the message of the book, after all.

What do you think of The Help?

Just finished reading The Help by Mississippi author Kathryn Stockett. I know I'm late to the game, as the book's been receiving rave reviews since it was published in 2009. I really enjoyed it -- great characters, lots of plot twists, and a satisfying ending. As a novel, it was very engaging. As a political commentary on race relations, to me it seemed powerful, but I wonder what African American audiences think.
For me, growing up in Scotland as a white person and moving to the States well after the Civil Rights Movement, I feel like an outsider to this part of history. Are the characters realistic, both white and black? Stockett studied Susan Tucker's book Telling Memories Among Southern Women, and she obviously knows her subject, growing up in Jackson, Mississippi. Mainstream media love her novel, as do book clubs. But what about specifically black audiences? Or is it not cool to ask that question?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Excellent blog for writers!

Former literary agent Nathan Bransford has an excellent blog with a whole list of "Publishing Essentials," including templates for query letters, advice on how to write a novel, information about how the publishing industry works, and tons more. Check it out:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Leaf & String Book Festival

I was in Galax, VA, this weekend with family and discovered that the Leaf & String book festival had taken over downtown Galax. What a great festival! Although I'd missed the authors events (we got there kind of late), I went into Chapters Bookshop, which sponsors the festival. Lovely book store with lots of local author displays and gifts to peruse. And out on the streets, musicians played fiddle, mandolin, the bass, and banjo. And vendors sold delicious barbecue.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Southerner Magazine Suspended

Uh-oh.... Another one bites the dust! New Southerner Magazine has suspended publication while they "explore options for restructuring and relaunching operations." Archives of the online magazine are still available on the website. So much for the idea that online magazines are easier to sustain than print ones... Any thoughts?

My updated website

Just wanted to plug my own website:
It's still very basic, but I've changed the focus from freelance writing to my upcoming (hopefully!) novel. I'm hoping to finish it up this summer and then look for a literary agent...yikes! Wish me luck! Anyone have any advice/experience to share about finding a literary agent? Are there any that specifically focus on Southern authors/fiction?

Monday, May 30, 2011

THEMA seeking submissions

THEMA is a Louisiana-based literary journal that publishes short stories, poems, photography, and art. Each issue focuses on a specific theme, which must be an integral part of the plot:
Wisecracks & poems (deadline July 1, 2011)
Who keeps it tiday? (November 1, 2011)
White wine chilling (March 1, 2012)
Sounds like a great idea!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Therese Fowler: Exposure

I had the pleasure of attending a reading by Therese Fowler last Thursday at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh for her new book Exposure. This is her third novel, and it's about the controversial topic of teenage romance and sexting -- when is it harmless, and when is it a crime? Therese and I both graduated from the MFA in creative writing program at N.C. State University. She and her first novel, Souvenir, got snapped up by the big publishers, and it's been uphill ever since!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

National Poetry Month

Oops! I had forgotten that April is National Poetry Month. I'm not an expert on poetry by any stretch, but I definitely appreciate the need to honor our poets! You might want to check out the interview of Tennessee-based poet Kate Daniels in Southern Literary Review. Here's a tiny segment of the interview...

Kate Daniels: "Robert Penn Warren would be the Southern poet who had the most influence on me – the lack of compression, the grandiosity of syntax, the very quirky speaking voice in his poems were all things that I found very appealing aesthetically and very encouraging personally. I always had a hard time with (some other poets) because of how highly formal, how self conscious, the poems seemed to me. They intimidated me in a way, but also made me anxious: so boxed-in, so careful, so neat and tidy. Just the way that Warren’s poems, particularly the later poems, sprawled all over the page was really inspiring to me. There was a way to break out of jail! And because his poems sounded so different from everyone else’s, they became important to me – as a young southern woman of working class origins – as a model for an independent literary life."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Readers' Corner

Going crazy trying to figure out what to read? The Athens, GA, Regional Library System has a great website. Look under "Readers' Corner" for tips on books, Internet resources, and writers in different genres -- African American authors, Civil War fiction, Family Sagas, and tons more.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Writers' radio

This looks like a great radio station for writers and readers... Clearstory Radio (107.1 Nashville) features an array of authors and is live on Fridays at 9 a.m. CST. You can listen via a link on their website. Here's a list of upcoming authors:

  • Catherine Coulter, Author Thrillers, FBI Series, Historial Fiction

  • Olivia Byrd Cooley, Author Miss Hildreth

  • Jeannie Cummings, Author The Outside Boy & A Rip In Heaven

  • Dr. Mark Green, Author My Night With Saddam

  • Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, Author/Radio Host

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Meet the author...

C.C. Jackson is a Louisiana writer who recently self published her young adult novel, Stay. I interviewed Jackson via email to find out more about her writing journey.

Please tell us a little about yourself and your novel.

I grew up in a small town in northern Maryland and moved to southern Louisiana after meeting my husband 15 years ago. I really enjoyed growing up in Maryland but have definitely fallen in love with the deep south.

I wrote my first book when I was in the fourth grade. It was about six orphans that became friends and traveled to Paris. In Paris they rode horses and met Michael Jackson. It was featured in an exhibit at our local mall at the time. My parents still have and cherish that little book.

When I was in the tenth grade, I won a local Sci-Fi writing contest. It was very exciting and really let me know that I could do this. I have been writing and blogging ever since. Stay just sort of came to me one day. I just sat down and started writing all of the things that popped into my head.

It is about a girl named Callie Rose. She grew up in southern Louisiana, leading the life of a normal teenage girl. One night she was stolen away from her home only to be told that she was destined to become queen of the fairies. The story is about her struggle to grow up in a harsh underground environment, putting aside everything that she thought that she wanted for her life prior to being kidnapped. She gets her first dose of love and heartbreak when she finds herself torn between two guys. She must also decide if she is willing to challenge the current queen, who is a tyrant, in order to take her rightful place on the throne.

What made you decide to self publish your novel?

My husband purchased a Nook Color to give to me as a Christmas gift. I think that it is one of the best gifts that he has ever given me. I have always been an avid reader, and I was reading at about a three-book-per-week pace.

It was during the exploration of my new toy that I first discovered Indie Writers. They were putting out all of these really great books themselves. I had written several stories over the years just for fun and thought… Hey, I can do this. That’s when I sat down and started writing Stay. Six weeks later, it was published.

I never even considered submitting to a large publishing house. As an Indie, I was in total control. I could set my own price, or even change it if I chose. I was able to price my book at a price that people could afford, especially in this economy. I didn’t have to sit and wait for years just to see someone else read my work. Self publishing has been very rewarding.

How did you juggle three children, a part-time job, and writing?

I am very fortunate to have a wonderful husband that works very hard so that I only have to work a part-time job. It started out that way when the kids were small. I was able to be at home with them through the week, and just pick up shifts on the weekend. I am also very fortunate to work somewhere that offers such a great shift. I just work two nights, twelve hours each shift. It’s great and works out perfectly for my writing.

Now that the kids are getting a little older, I have all day to write while they are in school. So, I have decided to keep my weekend shift at work and continue to concentrate my free time during the week on my writing.

Your novel is available on Kindle and Nook – could you briefly describe the process of creating an ebook?

After reading some great books by Indie Authors on my Nook, I started paying attention to who they listed as their publisher. Smashwords was the name that kept popping up over and over. When I finally went onto the Smashwords site, I found a great tutorial that talked about formatting and such so that your book could be converted into ebook format. The main things that it talked about were things like paragraph indentions and spacing. It was pretty easy really.

When my book was finally ready to be uploaded, I opted to publish to Kindle and Nook directly. Those are the main sites that your book will sell through and I felt that a one-on-one relationship with those networks was pretty important. I still use Smashwords to publish to iBooks, Kobo, Sony, and a few others.

What has been the biggest challenge in making your novel a reality?

The biggest challenge by far has been marketing. Going from a complete unknown to trying to sell your work is a daily battle. Social networking has been my biggest asset, but it can become very time consuming and leave little time for actual writing if I’m not careful.

What’s been the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part of getting my work out there is when someone sends me a comment, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, or my website, that says I really loved your book and can’t wait for the sequel. It just gives me such a feeling of satisfaction. That’s what it is all about.

What sort of publicity have you done for your novel – obviously, social networking, but any local readings? Has it been hard to do your own marketing?

The largest part of my publicity has been through social networking. Twitter is my number one asset for getting my name out there. I have also sent copies of my book to several book bloggers for review on their websites. I am hoping that they will play a large part in helping me reach a bigger audience. All of the publicity that I have done has been through the internet in some way. With my book not being available in local book stores, it’s very hard to gain an audience for public readings or book signings.

Are you working on any other writing projects now?

I am working on two projects at the moment. I am working on the sequel to Stay, as well as another young adult paranormal romance. I hope to have them both available in the next few months.

Monday, April 4, 2011

2011 Spring Okra Picks

Okra Picks are new Southern books that SIBA indie bookstores want to especially share with their customers. All the books selected are Southern in nature, and there is a SIBA member Bookstore who is really excited about the book. Here's a link to the 2011 spring picks (which include Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton, Tales from a Free-Range Childhood by Donald Davis, and Fighting the Devil in Dixie by Wayne Greenhaw):

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Edible Book Festival

Watch out for the annual Edible Book Festival at Duke Univesity this Saturday. The only rule: make edible art that has something to do with books as shapes or content. April 1, 2011 - Gothic Reading Room (Perkins Library) 2-3:30 p.m. Duke University Libraries Information and inspiration can be found on the International Festival's home page at

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Buzz in Columbia, SC

Richland County Public Library has a great section on their website called Book Buzz. It has reviews of recently published books( including one of Ron Rash's Serena) staff picks, and lists of books from the NY Times Bestseller list. It's worth checking out, especially if you're looking for something to read and don't have any ideas!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trailfest 2011

Check out the Southern Literary Trail, where there are events throughout the South. Here's a link to events in Mississippi:

Events include:
  • "FIELDS OF DREAMS: SPORTS IN THE SOUTH": The Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration
  • Amanda/Regina: Fashioning Southern Women for the Broadway Stage

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Buy a book, get one free!

Check out this website for info. on how to get a free book from an indie bookstore:

"Wanda Jewell, Executive Director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance for nearly 20 years, is overrun with books. All kind of books, galleys, advance reading copies, advance reader editions, paperbound and hardbound, slip-covered and not, limited editions, signed and unsigned, personalized and not; and finds herself overrun with books. Books here, books there, books, books, everywhere…and when contemplating the management of her extensive personal library, had her aha moment. How to weed her collection and support her southern indie bookstores at the same time? Thus was born the Free Book Stimulus Plan."