Thursday, April 30, 2015

How the Deep South Shaped Deborah Epperson's Writing Journey

Deborah Epperson 
by Deborah Epperson

Raised in the Deep South, I grew up during the era of the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam. Although I’d always liked books, it was my high school honor’s English teacher, Miss Cashen, who showed me the power of written words. Also, I was encouraged by my mother, who loved to read. My mother was the polar opposite of Helen. She was loving, kind, and supportive. In fact, my book is dedicated to her. I had a wonderful extended family also.

The original title of the book was Easy Pickin’s, but I found out there were several books with that title, so it was changed to TWIG. When I decided to publish it as an ebook, I discovered there was a children’s book by that name and definitely didn’t want any confusion, as my book is certainly not for children. I made a list of possible names and Breaking TWIG seemed to say the most about the storyline in the fewest words.

Breaking Twig by Deborah Epperson
In college, I majored in biology and English. I’ve always been interested in the issue of heredity verses environment, and which one has the most influence on a child. At times, Becky (Twig) worries that she has inherited her mother’s “picker” ways and her gene for chicanery, but she also thinks having one person who loves and believes in you is all a person needs to keep hope alive. I want readers of Breaking Twig to think about how love or the lack of love influences a child’s development into an adult.

I’m often asked questions about the societal twists and the use of racially-charged words that are not politically correct in today’s society. These terms were typical of the language used in the Deep South in this time-frame when traditions like segregation were colliding with Civil Rights, integration, and Vietnam. Although I strive to be sensitive of the nature of these words, I feel my job as a writer is to be true to my characters in all their glory, their shortcomings, and their bias. 
My goal in writing is to tell a good story, one that shows my truth, that nobody is perfect, life is messy, and we all fail more often than we’d care to admit. But with faith, love, and perseverance, we can find the strength to continue toward our own truth with a bit more forgiveness and understanding for others and for ourselves. This is easier to do (I think) if you have a good dog by your side.

Breaking Twig on Audible
The audiobook for Breaking TWIG was recently published, and I’m now working on a romance-suspense set in Louisiana in early 1970’s.  After it’s completed, I’m planning a sequel to Breaking TWIG, as so many readers have asked me to continue Becky’s story. 


When not writing, I’m busy working as a Pet-Partner with my BFF golden retriever, and enjoying life with my family in the beautiful mountains of Montana. 

Readers can contact me at www.deborahepperson.com  
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

Thanks for stopping by. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The TRUTH behind the Bestseller Lists

Unspent Time
by Graham Parke

We all know there’s more to creating a best seller than mere fine writing. There’s marketing, timing, luck, and more. I decided to find out exactly what it takes to create a best seller. What I discovered will shock you! In this post I transcribe a revealing conversation I had with a prominent industry figure. I’ll be giving you this verbatim, because if I summarized, you wouldn’t believe me. So relax, grab yourself a glass of cucumber juice, and prepare to be stunned!


John: “So, if I understand you correctly, Mr. Parke, you’re here to apply for a position of best selling author?”

Graham: “Internationally best selling author, yes. I’d like very much to be considered. I’ve brought writing samples.”

No Hope for Gomez!
John: “Writing samples, yes, so you’ve said. Mr. Parke, I have to ask, do you know what we do here?”

Graham: “Yes, of course I do.”

John: “You’ve seen the signs throughout the building?”

Graham: “Yes. They state that you sell meat packing equipment.”

John: “Precisely. Meat packing equipment. So, to be brutally honest, I’m not entirely sure what it is you think we can do for you.”

No Date for Gomez!
Graham: “Come on… you know…”

John: “No, I really don’t. Now, if you’d be interested in a warehouse position, or something in accounting, I could hook you up today. Barring that…”

Graham: “Come on, don’t play dumb with me. Look, I’ve brought writing samples. Won't you at least take a look?”

John: “That’s entirely beside the point. Even if we weren’t in the business of selling meat packing equipment, I’m quite sure that you don’t actually apply for a position as a best selling author. It’s all down to sales numbers. They’re tallied per region. It all happens automatically I believe.”

Graham: “Come on. Everyone knows best sellers are chosen by a secret committee.”

John: “I don’t know much about publishing, Mr. Parke, but even to me that sounds like a load of fanciful nonsense.”

Graham: “Please, just look at the samples... Here, this one is really funny.”

John: “Are you sure you don’t want to take a job at our warehouse while you’re waiting for this writing gig to pan out? I can’t tell you how difficult it is to find good warehouse jockeys. You’d be doing us, as well as yourself, a favor.”

Graham: “I’m sorry John may-I-call-you-John it is sort of common knowledge that you, in fact, are the very people who decide the bestsellers.”

John: “I see. And who told you this strange tale?”

Graham: “It was Google, actually…”

John: “Ah. Yes. Well, the thing is, Mr. Parke, this blasted Information Age makes our task very difficult. The ranks have to be kept small, you have to understand. We have to keep more people out then we let in. So I’m afraid we cannot simply make anyone who comes through these doors a best selling author.”

Graham: “I don’t expect you to.”

John: “Good.”

Graham: “Just make me one. That’s all I’m asking.”

John: (sighing) “So, what kind of best selling author did you want to become?”

Graham: “A mystery-slash-comedy author. I’ve brought writing samples.”

John: “That’s amazing!”

Graham: “It is?”

John: “Yes. That you actually believe your writing abilities would have anything to do with this, it's wonderfully na├»ve.”

Graham: “Eh…”

John: “Have you ever taken a look at a bestseller list? I mean, a good look? What on earth makes you think that narrative voice or level of originality have anything to do with matters?”

Graham: “Well, I’d just assumed that if my writing was good enough…”

John: “How morbidly stupid of you… No, Mr. Parke, when I asked you what kind of best selling author you were hoping to become, I was of course referring to the number of first year sales, growth rate, staying power, that kind of thing. We need to keep the categories from over running.”

Graham: “Oh, I see.”

John: “Here, why don’t you fill out this form. It will tell us everything we need to know about you. I’m not making any promises here, but if you want to be considered, this is the only way in.”

Graham: “Thank you so much. You won't regret this. Let’s see, this doesn’t look too complicated, name, address, social security number. But, why does it say ‘Warehouse Job Application’ at the top of the form?”

John: “Don’t worry about that. It’s just a cover, like the signs plastered all over the building. We have to at least appear to try and keep this operation hush-hush. I’m sure you understand.”

Graham: “Of course. My lips are sealed. So, what happens next? You’ll be in touch?”

John: “Just show up at the warehouse at 9:00 a.m. Monday morning. They’ll tell you what to do. They might have you perform some little rituals for a while. Just go with it. All will become clear pretty soon.”





Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Surviving My Research by Mystery Author Phyllis Smallman


Over the years I’ve put my protagonist, Sherri Travis, in more and more perilous situations, which means my research gets scarier and scarier. In Martini Regrets Sherri is carjacked and left in the Everglades so it seemed like a good idea to find a guide to take me canoeing in the Everglades - at night. It turned out that this wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had.
Down in Everglades City my husband and I found a guide to take us on a four hour night kayak trip. It was still daylight when we loaded our kayaks on the rack and headed for a starting point on the East River, where the guide, who looked about seventeen but was in his twenties, gave us the most useless piece of advice I’ve ever had. He said, “Whatever happens, don’t panic.  Things go wrong when you panic.” No kidding!
               
Kayaking past a gator
So that kayakers can get inland to a lake with a small island rookery, the outfitters have cut tunnels through the mangroves. The problem is that the tunnels have become a freeway for gators to move from lake to lake.  Again the guide gave brilliant advice.  “When you meet a gator, let the alligator decide what’s going to happen.  If there’s enough water, he’ll go under your kayak.” It was February and the height of the dry season. “If they can’t go under your kayak, they’ll push you aside and go by you or…” Well, with a shrug that bit was left for our imagination.  There was something else he didn’t tell us. Besides snakes and alligators, the tunnels are also full of spiders. There was a canopy of webs above our head and every twelve inches there was a gigantic spider. My husband hates spiders. The good side of terror is that it makes you paddle really, really fast.  Our guide said he’d never made it too the lake so quickly, about half the normal time. We watched the sun go down and then we started back in the dark.
               
Kayaking past a Mangrove Tunnel
It was black and it was silent in the mangroves. We had head lamps but were told to only turn them on in an emergency because the other two paddlers would be blinded by the light. Did you know that an alligator’s eyes glow red at night?
                Soaked and exhausted, but glad to be alive, we were back at the pickup point shortly after eight. Only when we were settled in the nearest bar with a calming drink in our hand did we realize that the guide had not once been the first to enter a tunnel. Hmmm…do you suppose he knew something we didn’t? Don’t panic.  From now on all my research is going to be done from a safe distance.

You can reach Phyllis through her website 


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Author Basil Pearl Talks about Growing Up on a Farm & How that Shaped Her Writing

DIY Business Styles

Agriculture has been interwoven throughout the tapestry of my entire life. I grew up on a farm, worked in the Agriculture business for nearly three decades and currently live on a working, grain-producing farm. Needless to say, I am steeped well in the details of what it takes chisel out a productive farming operation. 
Farming operations throughout this nation have many similarities and yet, each has its very own unique flair. An average farmer must have access to certain things to make his farm a successful business. If he is a grain producer, then he must have and maintain several acres to grow his grain crops. These acres are fields of… yes, dirt. A farmer must determine what is in the dirt (or soil) and what nutrients are missing. Yes, the farmer must don the hat of a chemist to determine what his soil needs to produce the best crop. He must learn which nutrients it is enriched with and which are missing. Once this is determined, he can incorporate the right fertilizers into the soil for the healthiest crop. When his crops experience a blight or another disease, it’s his shirt that will be lost if he doesn’t figure out the cause and find a solution. 
Middlesettlements by Basil Pearl
Next, the farmer must have access to the machinery that planting and harvesting a crop requires. Tractors, planters, spray-rigs, cultivators, combines and grain hauling trucks to mention just a few. Not only must the farmer know what pieces of machinery his crop needs, but also how to operate them and most importantly, how to repair breakdowns. The farmer now slaps on his mechanics hat and gets his hands greasy. 
The hats that the farmer wears does not stop there. No Sir, this is only the beginning. If he has livestock, he becomes a veterinarian as well as a nutritionist for his animals. When raising livestock for retail and that livestock gets sick, the farmer either finds a solution or once again, loses his shirt. 
Once the outdoor chores are complete, the farmer trades in his farm cap for a business suit and necktie (ok, not really but go with me here). The independent farmer decides all the business transactions and marketing. Expenses and sales are but part of the financial farming reality. Marketing his grain is a large task within itself. So, now the farmer sports a stock broker's necktie. 
I shared all these details about the life of a productive farmer because I acquaint the world of Indie Authors to being very similar. Just as the farmer has a DIY lifestyle, so does the Indie Author. Each has their personal unique flair. I find it incredibly fascinating that we too, as Indie Authors, must have a great selection of hats that we wear to produce a productive business. From writing, editing, publishing and marketing. It all boils down to being in our laps to do as we choose to do. Now, not every farmer is a good mechanic, so he might choose to hire someone to fix his breakdowns. Not every Indie Author is good at editing. Thus, a hired editor might be the wise choice. The best part is the fact that we, as Indie Authors have the choice to mold our books into revenue in the manner that suits each of us best. That is what I love the most about being an Indie Author.