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5 Lessons I’ve Learned as a Writer

5 Lessons I’ve Learned as a Writer, Guest post by John Herrick

You won’t find a perfect writer. You’ll find only writers who, if they’re honest, are on a never-ending mission to improve. None of us has all the answers, but we have lessons we’ve learned along the way. Here are five of the most valuable lessons I’ve had the privilege of learning.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned as a Writer, Guest post by John Herrick
1. It will take longer than you think. Writing a novel. Understanding the rules of the game. Developing your voice. Everything. Anything substantive in life takes time and sacrifice—but it’s worth it. Do your research. Know the marketplace. Readers can sense when something isn’t quite right, even if they can’t identify what it is.

2. Remove adverbs. Ninety-nine percent of the time, adverbs are unnecessary. In fact, most writers and industry people consider heavy use of adverbs the telltale sign of an amateur. Instead of writing that a character spoke angrily, try describing the character’s vocal tone, gestures or facial expression. That creates an experience for the reader, which is why the reader grabbed your book in the first place. On occasion, an adverb is the only route you can use. But when in doubt, just nix it. One reason you have the freedom to do this is lesson #3 …

3. Readers are smart. That offers an advantage to you, because you don’t need to document every miniscule detail. Readers can read between the lines and draw logical conclusions based on what you’ve told them so far. They want to draw some of their own conclusions. When I wrote my first novel, I thought I needed to explain everything. But I discovered if you invest a lot of effort developing your characters, you will end up with many psychological details you never mention in the manuscript. To my surprise, readers deduced some of those details anyway. Nowadays, I enjoy planting nuggets between the lines of the characters’ psyches for readers to find—and sure enough, they find them! You see, a book isn’t just a book. It’s a partnership between you and your reader. It’s a relationship through the written word.

4. Don’t churn out crap. A good reputation is more valuable than silver or gold. I’ve taken that biblical advice to heart. When a reader buys your book, it’s an act of trust on their part. They have chosen to trust you. They trust you will provide a high-quality product in return for their hard-earned money. They could have spent time doing countless things, but they chose to spend time with your book. Don’t violate their trust. It’s disrespectful and, yes, selfish. Spend time developing your story, developing your characters, identifying holes in your logic, proofreading your work.

5. Save your work. All the time. Every time you think of it, after every natural pause, hit Ctrl-S. Develop the habit. Let me tell you, that has been my habit for years. But somehow, as I wrote this guest post, I got so far involved in it that I forgot to do so—then I clicked something too fast and lost everything I’d written. Save often! Be neurotic about it!

What lessons have you learned along the way? I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for letting me stop by the blog. And feel free to visit me at www.johnherrick.net or on my socials. Never give up!

5 Lessons I’ve Learned as a Writer, Guest post by John Herrick
A self-described “broken Christian,” John Herrick battled depression since childhood. In that context, however, he developed intuition for themes of spiritual journey and the human heart.
Herrick graduated from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Rejected for every writing position he sought, he turned to information technology and fund development, where he cultivated analytical and project management skills that helped shape his novel-writing process. He seized unpaid opportunities writing radio commercial copy and ghostwriting for two nationally syndicated radio preachers.
The Akron Beacon Journal hailed Herrick's From the Dead as “a solid debut novel.” Published in 2010, it became an Amazon bestseller. The Landing, a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, followed. Publishers Weekly predicted “Herrick will make waves” with his novel Between These Walls.
Herrick's nonfiction book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free e-book surpassed 150,000 downloads and hit #1 on Amazon's Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration bestseller lists. Reader response prompted a trade paperback.
His latest novel, Beautiful Mess, folds the legend of Marilyn Monroe into an ensemble romantic-comedy.
Herrick admits his journey felt disconnected. “It was a challenge but also a growth process,” he acknowledges. “But in retrospect, I can see God's fingerprints all over it.”

5 Lessons I’ve Learned as a Writer, Guest post by John Herrick


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Book Showcase: A Spoonful of Grace by Annette Hubbell

Book Showcase: A Spoonful of Grace by Annette Hubbell

Title: A Spoonful of Grace: Mealtime Blessings in Bite-sized Pieces
Author: Annette Hubbell

Category: Christian Living; 444 pages
Genre: Family devotional, Children's devotional
Publisher: Credo House Publishers

Book Showcase: A Spoonful of Grace by Annette Hubbell
About the book

Just 2 minutes each day can change your family meal time for a lifetime.

A Spoonful of Grace is a collection of 366 evening meal graces taken from all 66 books of the Bible and designed to provide meaningful exposure to prayer and the Bible at a most opportune time: the family evening meal.

The Scripture/grace devotions are inviting, can be grasped at several levels, and are brief enough (about two minutes) to hold the attention of hungry kids. Here's why:
  • Each day has an application section called Grace Notes: ideas and quotes to further illustrate the message and stimulate conversation.
  • Sundays are for Story Graces. These 52 devotions are a bit longer to afford the suspenseful, engrossing reading of stories such as David and Goliath, Daniel in the lions’ den, and Jonah and the big fish.
  • Special Graces are celebrations such as Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays.
  • Each grace:
    • Supports discussions of God’s attributes and of faith-based values, offering moral examples like forgiveness, friendship, honesty, trust, even table manners. 
    • Creates curiosity about the Bible and ways in which Scripture can be applied to today’s issues. 
    • Demonstrates how the act of praying together lifts one’s own spirit; fosters praise; and increases mutual feelings of appreciation, gratefulness, and accountability. 
    • Teaches without overt instruction, similar to hiding extra veggies in the spaghetti sauce. 
    • Remind us that our food, as well as God’s countless other daily blessings, is a gift.

Endorsements for "A Spoonful of Grace":

The dining room table is a key place to connect with your children. It's time to put down the phones and pick up this book instead.” --Arlene Pellicane, speaker and author of “31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom”

"...beautiful, winsome and creative...will spark meaningful discussion and thoughtful reflection. This book will nourish both heart and mind.”--Dr. Mark L. Strauss, Vice-Chair, The NIV Committee on Bible Translation and University Professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary

"Annette Hubbell has made this powerful family life rhythm and tradition SO MUCH EASIER! Give your family the gift that will last for generations to come—‘A Spoonful of Grace!’” --Pam Farrel, author of 45 books including best-selling “Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti,” “10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make”, and “A Couple’s Journey with God.”

"Wonderfully composed and chock-full of wit and wisdom. I wish I’d had this book when my husband and I were raising our four children.” --Susan Meissner, Award-winning author of “Secrets of a Charmed Life”

Watch the book trailer: 

Buy the Book:

Book Showcase: A Spoonful of Grace by Annette Hubbell
About the Author:

Annette Hubbell earned her undergraduate degree in Marketing from San Diego State University, her M.B.A. from Cal State University in San Marcos, and a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. She has been featured in over 160 performances, and starred in the DVD, “Witness to Gettysburg” edited by 33-time Emmy Award winner, Robert Gardner. She was awarded Presenter of the Year twice at the Civil War Round Table of San Diego, and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Hubbell lives in San Diego, California with her husband of 33 years, Monte. They have a daughter, Amy. She and her husband Scott live in Los Angeles, California. For more information, visit www.AnnetteHubbell.com or www.SpoonfulOfGrace.com.

Connect with the Author: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Youtube


Excerpt: A Living Grave by Robert Dunn

Excerpt: A Living Grave by Robert Dunn

Title: A Living Grave
Author: Robert Dunn

Excerpt: A Living Grave by Robert Dunn
About the book:

The first in a gritty new series featuring sheriff’s detective Katrina Williams, as she investigates moonshine, murder, and the ghosts of her own past…

 Katrina Williams left the Army ten years ago disillusioned and damaged. Now a sheriff’s detective at home in the Missouri Ozarks, Katrina is living her life one case at a time—between mandated therapy sessions—until she learns that she’s a suspect in a military investigation with ties to her painful past.
The disappearance of a local girl is far from the routine distraction, however. Brutally murdered, the girl’s corpse is found by a bottlegger whose information leads Katrina into a tangled web of teenagers, moonshiners, motorcycle clubs, and a fellow veteran battling illness and his own personal demons. Unraveling each thread will take time  Katrina might not have as the Army investigator turns his searchlight on the devastating incident that ended her military career. Now Katrina will need to dig deep for the truth—before she’s found buried…


I felt like it was the end of summer. Not that there was a hint of green or the creeping red-oranges of leaves turning. In Iraq, everything was brownish. Not even a good, earthy brown. Instead, everything within my view was a uniform, wasted, dun color. It was easy to imagine the creator ending up here on the seventh day, out of energy and out of ideas after spending his palate in the joy of painting the rest of the world. This spit of earth, the dirty asshole of creation we called the Triangle of Death, didn’t even rate a decent brown.
I had been in country for eight months. I had been First Lieutenant Katrina Williams, Military Police, attached to the 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division for a little over a year. Pride and love had brought me here. Proud to be American and just as proud to have come from a military family, I was in love with what the ROTC at Southwest Missouri State University had shown me about my country’s military. I fell in love with the thought of the woman I would become serving my nation. I wanted to echo the men my father and my uncle were and add my own tone to the family history. Iraq bled that all out of me. Just like it was bleeding my color out into the dust. Bright red draining into shit brown.
It was the impending weight of change that made me feel like the end of summer. As a girl, back home in the Ozarks, the summers seemed to last forever. It wasn’t until the final days, carried over even into a new school year, when the air cooled and the oaks rusted, that I could feel them ending. Their endings were like the descent of ice ages, the shifting of epochs. That was exactly how I felt bleeding into the dirt. The difference was that I felt an impending death rather than transition. The terminus of an epoch. In Iraq though, nothing was as clear as that. It was death; but it wasn’t.
Lying on my back, I wished I could see blue sky, but not here. The air was hazed with dust so used up it became a part of the atmosphere. There was no more of the earth in it. Grit, like bad memories and regret, hanging over an entire nation. I coughed hard and it hurt. A bubbly thickness slithered up my throat. Using my tongue and what breath I had, I got the slimy mass up to my lips. I just didn’t have it in me to spit. Instead, I turned my head to the side and let the bloody phlegm slide down my cheek.
Dying is hard.
Wind, hot and cradling the homeland sand so many factions were willing to kill for, ran over the wall I was hidden behind. It eddied there, slowing and swirling and then dumping the dirt on my naked skin. A slow-motion burial. Even the land here hated naked women.
I stayed there without moving, but slipping in and out of consciousness for a long time. It seemed long, anyway. I dreamed. Dreamed or remembered so well they seemed like perfect dreams of—everything.
We played baseball. Just like in old movies with kids turning a lot into a diamond. No one does that anymore, but we did. My grandfather played minor league ball years ago and I had a cousin who was a Cardinals fan. Everyone was a Cardinals fan, so I loved the Royals. When the games were over and it was hotter than the batter’s box when I was pitching—I had a wild arm—my father would take me to the river. Later when we had cars, I was drawn there every summer to swim and swing from the ropes. We floated on old, patched inner tubes and teased boys. That was where I learned to drink beer. My father would take me fishing on the river. My grandfather would take me on the lakes. I used the same cane pole my father had when Granddad taught him about fishing. Both of the men used to say to the girl who complained about not catching anything, “It’s not about the catching, it’s about the fishing.” I don’t think I ever understood until a good portion of my blood was spilled on the dirt of a world that hated me.
My head spun back to the moment and back to Iraq. If I was going to die, I would have done it already, I figured. At least my body. That physical part of me would live on. That other part of me, the girl who loved summer… I think she was already dead. Death and transition.

Excerpt: A Living Grave by Robert Dunn
About the Author:

I wasn't born in a log cabin but the station wagon did have wood on the side. It was broken down on the approach road into Ft. Rucker, Alabama in the kind of rain that would have made a Biblical author jealous. You never saw a tornado in the Old Testament did you? As omens of a coming life go, mine was full of portent if not exactly glad tidings.

From there things got interesting. Life on a series of Army bases encouraged my retreat into a fantasy world. Life in a series of public school environments provided ample nourishment to my developing love of violence. Often heard in my home was the singular phrase, "I blame the schools." We all blamed the schools.

Both my fantasy and my academic worlds left marks and the amalgam proved useful the three times in my life I had guns pointed in my face. Despite those loving encounters the only real scars left on my body were inflicted by a six foot, seven inch tall drag queen. She didn't like the way I was admiring the play of three a.m. Waffle House fluorescent light over the high spandex sheen of her stockings.

After a series of low paying jobs that took me places no one dreams of going. I learned one thing. Nothing vomits quite so brutally as jail food. That's not the one thing I learned; it's an important thing to know, though. The one thing I learned is a secret. My secret. A terrible and dark thing I nurture in my nightmares. You learn your own lessons.

Eventually I began writing stories. Mostly I was just spilling out the, basically, true narratives of the creatures that lounge about my brain, laughing and whispering sweet, sweet things to say to women. Women see through me but enjoy the monsters in my head. They say, sometimes, that the things I say and write are lies or, "damn, filthy lies, slander of the worst kind, and the demented, perverted, wishful stories of a wasted mind." To which I always answer, I tell only the truth. I just tell a livelier truth than most people. 


Cryptozoology, Urban Legend and Myths

Cryptozoology, Urban Legend and Myths, guest post by Mae Clair

The word “cryptozoology” is one that often leaves people scratching their heads. Simply put it’s a pseudo-science devoted to the study of creatures that may exist, but haven’t been proven to exist. Most commonly, Bigfoot and the Lochness Monster spring to mind. I love reading up on cryptozoology, urban legends and myth, so I thought I’d share my Top Ten:

1. The MothmanI spent three years researching this winged “cryptid” including visiting the area where he was sighted in 1966-67, so of course he gets the number one position! My Point Pleasant Series incorporates the mythology of the Mothman, UFOs, Men In Black, and an ancient curse.

Cryptozoology, Urban Legend and Myths, guest post by Mae Clair
2. The Lochness Monster I’ve been fascinated by Nessie since I was a kid. I honestly hope no one ever discovers she’s “real.” The mystery is far more compelling.

3. The Van Meter Monster This gargoyle like creature haunted the town of Van Meter, Iowa during the autumn of 1903. Most of the eyewitness accounts were made by businesses men and other professionals who couldn’t afford to be viewed as “crackpots,” thus lending credence to the sightings.

4. Jellyfish of the Air In 1953 William Reich and an assistant raised an “orgone-charged” rod into the air in the hopes of attracting invisible beings he believed co-existed in our in our dimension, but were invisible to the naked eye. Within five seconds, a huge jellyfish-like creature attached itself to the rod, becoming visible long enough for Leistig to capture it in a photograph.

5. The Squonk
I love the name! This Pennsylvania creature is reputed to be so hideous in appearance it spends its entire life sobbing and will vanish in a pool of tears if captured.

6. The Hopkinsville Goblins Extraterrestrial visitors who descended on the Sutton family farm in August of 1955, terrorizing the Suttons and their guest. No evidence of a hoax was ever discovered, causing many to believe the events an authentic UFO encounter.

7. Men in Black Mysterious men in black suits descended on the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966-67 with the sole intention of warning UFO witnesses not to talk about their encounters.

8. Scotland’s Dog Suicide Bridge Since the 1960s more than fifty dogs have leapt to their death from the Overtoun Bridge in Scotland. Even stranger, all the dogs jumped from the exact same spot, and each apparent “suicide” has occurred on pleasant, sunny days.

9. Ley Lines It’s believed many of the old places of the Earth resonate with power—hillforts, crossroads, standing stones and old funerary paths among them. When these and other “ley markers” align in a geographical pattern, they create a hypothetical link capable of releasing powerful energy.

10. The Snallygaster Maryland’s half-bird/half reptile creature was given enough credence in 1909 that Teddy Roosevelt almost canceled an African Safari to hunt it.

Cryptozoology, Urban Legend and Myths, guest post by Mae Clair
Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back. Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.

Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with conflict, romance and elements of mystery. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about writing, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.


Excerpts: Murder Is Academic & Murder Is Pathological by P.M. Carlson

      Excerpts: Murder Is Academic & Murder Is Pathological by P.M. Carlson

Excerpts: Murder Is Academic & Murder Is Pathological by P.M. CarlsonMurder Is Academic

​A finalist for the Anthony Award

​Vietnam, assassinations and riots. In the spring semester of 1968, a series of brutal attacks draws campus women together to study self-defense and the psychology of rape. Graduate student Mary Beth Nelson struggles to keep the Lords of Death at bay by immersing herself in researching Mayan languages. Her new housemate, Maggie Ryan, has her own secrets. When murder strikes close to home, Maggie investigates with a little help from her friends.
"MURDER IS ACADEMIC treats violation of truth in tandem with assault and rape true violations of person, mind, and body–– and presents a cogent caesar for the inviolability both of persons and truth."–– The Armchair Detective

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: The Mystery Company / Crum Creek Press
Publication Date: October 2012
Number of Pages: 194
ISBN: 1932325239 (ISBN13: 9781932325232)
Series: Maggie Ryan and Nick O'Connor #2
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Smashwords  | Goodreads 

"Murder is Academic" by P.M. Carlson The Maggie Ryan Series #2


Near an upstate New York university, June 1968.
She was dead now, no more threat. The murderer pushed aside the long dark hair and, very carefully, cut the triangle into the young cheek. Done. Now, walk to the car calmly, get in. Back to the highway, driving coolly, back in control again.
* * *
The Christian conquerors teach that days don’t begin until midnight. The Maya know that it takes longer to hand over the burdens of time, and that the influence of the incoming god may begin at sunset. The day known as Monday, June 17, to those who count by the Gregorian calendar was pleasantly breezy, as befitted the Ixil 9 Iiq; but shortly after sunset it became one of the most tragic of Mary Beth’s life. A Mayan traditionalist might have attributed the change to the coming of that doubly unlucky day, 10 Aqbal.
But it had all begun quite cheerfully.
Maggie had borrowed Sue’s backpack in case Nick needed one for the picnic, and had packed her own and Mary Beth’s with the camp stove and the food. She hummed lightheartedly as she 
“You’re happy to see him, aren’t you?” Mary Beth had said, tightening the top of the salad dressing jar.
“Yes, but that’s only part of it,” Maggie had confessed. “It’s just good to know that’s behind me. It was a very bad time, and Nick was there. But I can see him now and just enjoy the friendship. The bad memories are there, way in the background, but the good ones are too. It doesn’t hurt anymore. It hurt quite a lot for a while.”
* * *
Excerpt from Murder Is Academic by P.M. Carlson. Copyright © 2017 by P.M. Carlson. Reproduced with permission from P.M. Carlson. All rights reserved.

Excerpts: Murder Is Academic & Murder Is Pathological by P.M. CarlsonMurder Is Pathological

​It’s 1969, in a brain research lab. The exploding wastebasket is a prank, but slaughtered lab rats have graduate students Maggie Ryan, Monica Bauer and the rest of the lab on edge. Then the custodian is murdered. Maggie’s friend, actor Nick O'Connor, goes undercover to investigate, help that Maggie does not appreciate– or does she? While Nick and Maggie search for the killer, Monica struggles to connect with a Vietnam veteran with a brain injury.
"P.M. Carlson's energetic and insightful novels are back in print — hallelujah!"–– Sara Paretsky

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: The Mystery Company / Crum Creek Press
Publication Date: May 28th 2013
Number of Pages: 212
ISBN: 9781932325270
Series: Maggie Ryan and Nick O'Connor #3
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Smashwords  | Goodreads 

"Murder is Pathological" by P.M. Carlson Maggie Ryan 1969 #3

Read an excerpt:

Neurology grad student Monica Bauer helps out at nursing home, 1969.
She waited. He could not summon words at will, except for the overpractised early ones–– hello, good-bye, okay. They both waited for the disconnected words to drift through his mind, waited for him to recognize the right one as it happened by.
After a while he said, "Buzzing. In, in, what is it? Not nose, not eyes."
"Buzzing in your ears?"
"Ears. Okay. In my ears."
"Does it hurt?"
"No, except . . ." Long pause. "Sometimes."
"Sometimes your head hurts."
"Yes, sometimes. Always . . . buzzing." He leaned back, tired.
"Shall we sing a little?"
He couldn't remember words, but melodies were still easy for him. She had learned to sing "la-la-la" instead of trying to teach him to catch the elusive words. Now they sang together, her alto and his baritone blending pleasantly. It made him happy.
Finally Monica said good-bye, signed out, drove away. Mary and Jock, Bibbsy and Ted never would. Four friends, trapped by their own broken brains. Especially Ted, who still struggled courageously to fuse the bits of his shattered world into coherence. Who still remembered that things had once been different, that he had once been whole.
Maybe she would never discover anything that could help them. But with Dr. Weisen’s help, she meant to give it a damn good try.
Back in Laconia, she parked in front of her square brick house, then paused to wait for Maggie, who was at the corner mailing a letter. “Trying to send a message to the outside world?” called Monica.
“Yeah. My friend Nick.” Maggie, exuberant, sprinted from the corner, ending with a cartwheel. Then she pulled herself up with dignity and asked, “How were your friends today?”
“Soaking up sun.”
“Good for them. Listen, we’re going to the concert tonight. Can you come?”
“No, I’ve got to get back to the lab right after dinner. Have to check on those baby rats I delivered today.”
And so Monica was second on the scene. She unlocked the main door of the lab, and at the sound of her steps Norman erupted from the door of the animal quarters, gaping in terror.
“Miz Bauer! Come quick!” he pleaded. “Something terrible happened!”
Monica ran after him into one of Dr. Weisen’s animal rooms. She said, “Oh, Christ!”
In the center of the room lay a heap of slaughtered rats, their backs broken and mangled, their skulls smashed.
* * *
Excerpt from Murder Is Pathological by P.M. Carlson. Copyright © 2017 by P.M. Carlson. Reproduced with permission from P.M. Carlson. All rights reserved.
Excerpts: Murder Is Academic & Murder Is Pathological by P.M. Carlson
About the Author:

P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun. She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Our Author On: Website , Goodreads , Smashwords, & Twitter !


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Excerpts: Murder Is Academic & Murder Is Pathological by P.M. Carlson

Interview with Lorna Hollifield

Interview with Lorna Hollifield

What genre do you write and why?

My writing could be classified under the Women’s Fiction umbrella, but is almost always set in the American South.  I grew up in Asheville, NC, and live in Charleston, SC now.  The South is what I know.  I understand the people; their connection to the land, the history, the heat...there’s something charming, yet rogue about all of it.  The South is like katnip to writers.

Interview with Lorna Hollifield
Tell us about you latest book.

My first novel was released in June and it’s called Tobacco Sun.  It’s the story of two sisters from the rural fields of NC, who carry a big secret, along with the keys to the other’s freedom.  It has suspense elements, but could fall under “Family Epic.”  Two decades of secrets keep slinking out of the tobacco leaves with every turn of the page.

Do you read your book reviews?  How do you deal with the good or bad ones?

I try to read as many of them as I can!  Luckily, I haven’t been absolutely slammed by anyone.  When someone raves about the book, it’s a dream come true.  I’ve always wanted to write literature that would touch people.  I struggle when I find that a reviewer didn’t get something I was trying to convey, or maybe missed the connection with certain characters.  I’m an extrovert, so I love human’s connecting through what I write.  If it missed the mark for someone I don’t feel angry...I feel like I wish they could feel what I felt.  It’s a difficult thing to explain.

Who are your favorite authors?

I love a lot of the Southern authors who showed me where I fit in the literary world: Toni Morrison, Pat Conroy, Sue Monk Kidd. These authors can write in complete southern slang and still come off so eloquently, delivering lines that stick with me forever.  They put emotions, especially the regional ones that are part of my culture, into beautiful words that communicate those emotions to people all over the world, but without sacrificing any southern flavor.  I admire and aspire to be like them.  My favorite books from each are Beloved, Beach Music, and The Secret Life of Bees, respectively.

What advice do you have for other writers?

You don’t have time for fear.  If you want publication, start NOW. It takes a while, and it’s a battle.  Go to conferences, linger at the bar after hours, meet agents, educate yourself on how to get noticed then actually do it.  Don’t let your face wrinkle, and your hair grey while you’re in the planning phase.  Eye on the prize.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Being a writer is the best part of being a writer.  It isn’t money or glamor, though we all hope those things come.  It’s sharing an intimate part of who you are with the world, and maybe making a difference because of it.  Whether it’s to ignite passion, encourage thinking, or to make someone laugh, it feels good to accomplish that, to make people move.  Most writers are writers because they can’t help it, and when that passion culminates in a boom on the shelf it’s the sweetest feeling on Earth.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

You can find me at lornahollifield.com, or on Twitter (@AuthorLornaH), Instagram (writerlornahollifield), or Facebook (Lorna Hollifield).

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?

I think everyone goes through really hard stuff in life, but it’s different for each person. For some it might be poverty, for others abuse, or for others health issues. There is always something that is hard and seems to define us. This book is about many of those difficult things, but it is also about redemption. Like the stubborn tobacco leaf growing in arid soil, it continues to stretch its head up to find the light. I want readers to feel that within themselves as well. Also the settings, bouncing between early Hollywood and rural NC are just entertaining!

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I love this question, because...NO, NO, NO!  This might be an unpopular answer, but I don’t believe just anyone can write.  And I don’t really think it should be forced.  I think writing can be improved, and the craft can progress.  However, I think writers cannot help but write.  You have to give yourself over to it if you feel the itch, let it pour, then just clean it up later.  Like Mark Twain said, “All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”  Writers write.  Painters paint.  Basketball players shoot the ball. It’s not always perfect.  You will mess up, but if it’s in you, it will happen by nature.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I run because I like the challenge, and I like to stay healthy - that’s the other productive thing I do.  But really, I am a sundress wearing, music-listening, sun-worshipping BEACH BUM.  I love living on the SC coast and take full advantage of all of the water.  My favorite thing is to get my husband, my dog, and a big group of fun friends and just camp out on the sand all day long!

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