“Home” by Sheryl Crow

Literary Map of EnglandMusic has always been very important to me. Many times when I look back at a time or a memory, a song will sneak in before an image. I thought it would be interesting to look back at people and moments by tapping into this quirk. The first in my series “With Music” was about Ben Folds and a girl with elf ears (here), this time I take on a song by Sheryl Crow.

This is about the time I almost disappeared

The first thing you have to understand about me is I have a knack for romanticizing things. Moments are never just moments for me, I see the potential for some kind of poetic license in everything. Maybe I read one too many romantic poets back when I was in college, but I would look for messages in nature and life. Messages just for me. Let me emphasis this point- not for you or the rest of humanity, just me. Yeah, it’s just a sunset, I get that, but could those colors be reaching for me, embracing me, telling me something for only my eyes?

Destiny. Fate.

I was sure I had it all in spades.

When I was in college I used to romanticize the idea of exploring Europe by myself, nothing but a backpack and my wits for comfort. Besides meeting with the travel agent to work out the flights and some tours along the way, what I would do while there was all on me. One of the few things I had certain about me and my trip was I would arrive in London on the first day and fly out of Paris on the last. Point A and Point B. Continue reading

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Banned Books Week 2014

Books! Everywhere! Books!Wouldn’t it be neat if we had a week to celebrate Shakespeare? A week when everyone was to read Charles Dickens or Mark Twain? A day even when everyone was supposed to talk like a character in a Jane Austen novel (as compared to a pirate)?

Nah, we book lovers get Banned Books Week. Where all of us book readers get to shake our heads collectively and wonder what others are thinking. The funny thing is most people that try to ban a book don’t actually read the book in question. A few years ago there was one protestor who strived to get Harry Potter banned from her school library. It made national news. She was discussed on all the Potter forums. What we discovered later is that she had never read Harry Potter and was worried it would drive kids to Satanism.

I don’t even know where I would start if I was to have an argument with such a perspective.

My grandmother used to be a member of her local library board. The reason she would give for being on the board was to fight people trying to ban books from the shelves. She was the voice of reason in a very conservative community and she kept up her end of the battle long after Parkinson’s made her life difficult. She will always be one of my heroes.

Last year on WKAR, I gave a commentary on their daily radio show Current State about Banned Books Week. Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

The playwright Anton Chekov has this great rule for writing a play. To summarize it, if a gun appears in the first act, it has to go off by the last act.

What Chekov is tapping into is that a gun is threatening, a gun can kill. An audience remembers it is there, and each and every playgoer expects that sooner or later, for better or worse it will be fired. I remember once I saw a production of “Hamlet” by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and they showed Hamlet with a gun in the first act. He carried it in his coat wherever he went on that stage, his concealed weapon, and we always knew it was there, expecting it sooner or later to cause destruction. Because a gun will always be fired, fictional or real, and there are always consequences for one being around.

The funny thing is, there are pockets in our country where people feel more at ease with guns than books.

You can listen to my complete thoughts (or read them) via this link.  I will be appearing on the show again this week, but this time to discuss the importance of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, another fighter in this literary battle. I hope you will check it out.

Well, if this is the only holiday people will give us book lovers, we might as well make the most out of it. Decorate your books shelves with garland, start a book club, pick up that classic you never got around to finishing, turn off the TV, and… most importantly… read, everyone, read.

Happy Holiday!

Only 1 Day Left! A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM on sale for only 99 Cents!

A Jane Austen Daydream“I found myself thinking of it as a love letter to all of her novels…. Well, when we need a tale that makes us laugh and hope for love we read Austen. Now I will also read Southard.” -Kelly Fitzgerald, Austen Hill

Only a few hours left for the holiday sale of A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM, my latest novel. It is only 99 cents for the Kindle on Amazon! 

You can grab your copy here (http://amzn.com/B00CH3HQUU).

“A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM by Scott Southard, a fictionalized account of Jane’s life, is a book that should be placed on the shelf of every book-loving fan of Jane Austen because she’s absolutely “alive” on the pages of this book.” -Julie Valerie’s Book Blog

If you would still like to learn more about the book first, you can do so on this page for it (https://sdsouthard.com/a-jane-austen-d…); read interviews, exclusive excerpts, and editorials….Wait… Did I mention it is only 99 cents???

A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM is published by Madison Street Publishing.

“An excellent concept and a great achievement, a must read for Austen fans open for a playful read and those who wish Austen had written more. This is like a little welcome encore for us fans.” -Christoph Fischer, author

A Jane Austen Daydream in the Best of 2013 Blog Hop Giveaway! Win a Signed Copy!

A Jane Austen DaydreamI was recently honored to have author and blogger Kathryn Chastain Treat pick my novel A Jane Austen Daydream as her selection for the Best of 2013 Blog Hop Giveaway!

So very cool!

Because of this selection, on her site she has shared an interview with me about the book and is giving away a signed copy of it to one lucky reader. You can read the interview and enter the contest here.

Here is a selection from the interview where I discuss my research into the writing of my little daydream:

I knew that if I was to do this book right, I couldn’t only dip my toe in. I had to do this fully, live in the deep end of the pool, underwater. Her books, a few biographies, her letters, her unpublished works, I even visited some locations back before I began the book looking for inspiration. Everything I could get my hands on plays a part in the work.

My goal was not just to write about her, but to have her be a part of it. So references and quotes from her classic works are sprinkled throughout it. The trick for me was though writing a book that could work for the casual fan as well as the obsessed reader. Again, it all comes down to planning, which means I had to find a narrator voice that was between Jane and my own. If I did this right, there is something for everyone in this book and it is readable even for those not used to reading regency novels.

A Jane Austen DaydreamYou can read the rest of the interview and enter the contest by visiting Kathryn Chastain Treat’s website hereGood luck!

A Jane Austen Daydream can be purchased in print ($13.46) or as an eBook for the outrageously low price of $3.99 for Kindle. You can find it on Amazon here (http://amzn.com/B00CH3HQUU).

Jane Austen! Demonic Castles! Time Travel! Dragons! This Black Friday Consider a Southard Novel…

When I sit down to write a book, my first goal is always to give my readers something new. So much of what you find on bookstore shelves can feel like a cookie-cutter recipe for a tale. Add a twist here, build to a love story here, sprinkle some comedy… That is not what you will find in one of my novels.

This Black Friday, and in your holiday shopping, consider one of my novels for your readers. You can find excerpts, reviews, interviews, and more information on each of the books via their pages on this site.

A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM
Available in print ($13.46) and eBook ($3.99) from Madison Street Publishing via Amazon.com here.

A Jane Austen DaydreamAll her heroines find love in the end–but is there love waiting for Jane?

Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone’s guess.

Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years–did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us–to a greater or lesser degree–are head over heels for Jane.

“I consider this novel one of the best not only in regency era literature, but also in mainstream fiction.” -NovelTravelist.com

MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE
Available in print ($9.71) and as an eBook ($3.99) via Amazon.com here.

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, CoverThe cursed and foreboding McGregor Castle is the most terrifying and haunted location in all of the British Empire. Only a brave (or foolish) soul would consider visiting it, let alone staying within its walls for five days. In other words, a perfect dare for a man like Maximilian Standforth!

Maximilian Standforth, famed playboy aristocrat and private detective, is a genius with dangerous tastes. With Bob (his trusty carriage driver, biographer, and body guard) and Maggie Collins (actress, spy, and maid) by his side, Maximilian will experience horrors and madness unlike any seen before. For it is at McGregor Castle that the team will discover more than they ever could imagine in this very experimental and genre-breaking thriller.

“Playing with traditional style and plot ingredients but introducing enough surprises and originality this book was great fun to read.” -Christoph  Fischer Books

MY PROBLEM WITH DOORS
Available in print ($15.38) on Amazon.com here and as an eBook via Google Play ($9.99) here.

My Problem With DoorsJacob’s life changed in a single moment when, as a toddler, he walked through his bedroom door only to find himself in the office of a British officer in Capetown, 1870. This would begin a thirty-year journey which would take him from ancient to future civilizations, and innumerable places and times in between. Through all of his travels, Jacob seeks for the purpose of his predicament, the significance of his life with all of its joys and suffering, loneliness and impermanence.

“This is a most compelling book. It pulls you in to a fascinating concept from the beginning…. I give this book 5 stars.” -The Voracious Reader

MEGAN
Available in print ($15.51) on Amazon.com here and as an eBook via Google Play ($9.99) here.

MeganMegan Wane is caught in a life of dull dreariness. She goes to work in a dead end job with a boss she can’t stand, and comes home to a silent apartment with only a standoffish cat for company. She can only get away through her imagination. And there, in her thoughts, there exists a fairy-tale kingdom with wizards and dragons. A place called Prosperity, where she is both a princess and a hero. On this day, both Megan’s external reality and her interior world will suffer tragedy that will turn her life upsidedown and shake her to the foundation. Can Megan turn disaster into deliverance?

“I am very impressed with how Mr. Southard has interwoven the two world’s of Megan. It is very artfully crafted with vivid descriptions. ” -S. M. Nystoriak, Writer’s Block

An Interview With One Writer’s Journey About A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM

A Jane Austen DaydreamThis week I was interviewed by author Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz about my novel A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM. Here is an excerpt from the fun and interesting interview:

No one understands Jane Austen, not even her family has an easy time keeping up with her wit and creativity. Yet, all Jane dreams about is having that great romance, just like the ones she loves to write about in her books.

After a fateful meeting with gypsies, Jane believes she now knows the path forward to finding true love. Over the course of A Jane Austen Daydream, we follow Jane from one romance to another, and over the experiences and surprises she begins to emerge as the Jane Austen we all know today.

Over the course of the interview, we further discuss the inspiration around the book, my own experience writing (and being a writer), and much of my philosophy on books. I hope you will check it out via this link.

A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM is on sale right now on amazon.com. While the eBook is only $3.99, the beautiful print version is going for just $9.85. Here is the link to the page on amazon- http://amzn.com/0983671923.

I hope you enjoy the interview and A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM!

The Five Books That Made Me

CompassOur lives are filled with landmarks. And just like the sites that dot our landscape, these moments dot our lives, creating the definition of who we are. For me, I can see them like a map spread out in front of me from movies to TV shows to experiences to relationships to plays to books… oh… a lot of books.

I was the kid who would come home with a pile of library books each weekend, who later would take his bike out to only ride to libraries, having three in my vicinity to choose from with a separate card for each. If I could have had a collection of cards with aliases I would have done it. See, I would lose summer days just wandering through the aisles like visiting old friends, allowing my fingers to grace along the covers as I walked past, secretly hoping that a book would reach out and grab me.

I always get a little sentimental when a book is released (A Jane Austen Daydream). I can’t help it. This is a new kind of landmark; I’m adding to my own landscape now. And if I am lucky my work might find its way on to another’s map. See, that is the thing for me. It’s not about money, it never was.  It was always about the love of a good yarn, with surprises and new adventures.

When I look back at my life there are five books that stand out the most in inspiring me.  This is not to say they are my favorites, or what I consider the greatest works; no, not at all.

They are just the ones that grabbed me just when I needed them to. Continue reading

A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM is coming back!!!

A Jane Austen Daydream's Facebook page!Hi readers!

After a few lousy days and the painful experience of watching the eBook disappear for A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM (with the old and troubled print version shortly to follow), I can triumphantly declare that a new publisher has emerged for the book!

I can’t say too much more at this time since the contracts still are being signed, but after another quick edit and preparation work the book should emerge back on the market better than ever.

I am happily overwhelmed with this development and I look forward to sharing this new release with you in two to three months.

Thank you for reading!

Welcome to the World of Writing: My Advice for New Writers

What a weird pictureI wrote my first collection of short stories at age 16. I have always loved writing. My mom still tells the tale about how on a car ride home at age 6 I made up an entire story (it involved a ghost watching his grieving wife, I believe) that she felt she had to write down when she immediately got home. For good, and many, many times bad, there was little else I saw myself doing with my life.

And when I was young and new to the field, I had hundreds of questions. For example, there was the time I met this professor at my undergrad college at orientation; well, he was a published writer (I read some of his books before going), and I pretty much stalked him, asking him question after question that afternoon. Embarrassingly, I believe I might’ve followed him all the way back to his office.

Recently, I got a comment on my site from someone calling herself a newbie novelist, and through the comment she asked me a series of questions regarding how to break through and what to do, reminding me of myself when I met that professor. But this time I was the professor, expecting to have the answers, the secrets to the castle, the path to Oz.

The fact is today, if I was that professor, I would’ve taken a different approach. While agents and publishers and the debate over publishing vs. self-publishing are all important, some other things get missed in the excitement around the idea of just finishing a book. Below are the six pieces of advice I would give to any new writer first. Continue reading