New Interview! Learn More About the New Book… Coming Soon…

Recently, I gave an interview with Stargazing Publishing, the publisher of my new novel In Jerry’s Corner (coming soon). In the interview we hit a lot of different topics, including inspiration behind the new book, favorite authors, and writing tips.

Here is one excerpt:

1.  What or who inspired you to be a writer?

I have always loved storytelling and reading. My parents enjoy sharing stories of me making up tales when I was very young, and becoming a writer always felt like a natural step for me.

When I was a teenager, I really started writing. Then it was short stories (I had dreams of being Ray Bradbury then). Finally, I dived into novels, and since then I have been in love with the all-encompassing, larger-than-life feeling of it.

For me, I love finding that new story, that new twist that no one else has done yet. If I get an idea that sounds like someone else’s work I will usually throw it away. I always want to try the “new.” If I am doing it right, a reader should always be surprised and moved when they pick up a Southard novel. At least, that is my hope.

 Check out the entire interview here: http://stargazingpublishing.moonfruit.com/scott-d-southard-interviews/4594395174

…AND stay tuned!

Advertisements

Big News! Get Ready! New Book Coming Soon!

Coming soon from Stargazing Publishing, my latest novel – In Jerry’s Corner!

I know a lot of writers like to say “My latest book is my best, blah, blah, blah.” But for this book, all of that is TRUE for me. I can not be more proud of this novel, and I look forward to having readers discover it.

Check out my author page on the publisher site- http://stargazingpublishing.moonfruit.com/scott-d-southard/4594395172.

In Jerry’s Corner is many things for me. It is a very original and surprising story, the kind I love to discover as a reader. It is also fun, romantic, humorous, daring, and human. I could go on and on… and I do! Check out the interview just released today on Stargazing’s website about my writing and my latest novel! You can read the interview here- http://stargazingpublishing.moonfruit.com/scott-d-southard-interviews/4594395174

I really look forward to sharing this story with you. I’ll keep you updated here on the process as we move closer to publication (release dates, back cover descriptions, samples, reviews, cover release, etc.). So stay tuned! Until then, I hope you enjoy the interview and thank you so much for following me and reading my books, posts and other crazy stuff. This is a very important novel for me and I really hope you like it.

Cheers!

Book Tour, Day 4: “Obsessed With Every Page” New Book Review!

On Day 4 of the book tour, I awoke to a wonderful review of A Jane Austen Daydream by Pursuing Stacie. How wonderful, you might ask? It included lines like this:

(By the by, THANK YOU, Mr. Southard! I need everything you’ve ever written.)

How do you not smile when you read that? (Oh, and for those that want to know more about my writing, check out the links and info to the right of the post. There is more work out there by me, I swear!)

Here is another excerpt from the review:

I felt that I was given the gift of getting to know Ms. Austen on a personal level; her private life, her struggles, her hopes and even (in my opinion) her failures. The author took those gaps in her narrative and began filling them in. He took a beloved author, threw in some fact, dropped in some fiction and stitched the whole package together with a raw authenticity.

You can read the entire review here. Thanks Pursuing Stacie for the smile this morning.

A Jane Austen Daydream is Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

 

I Want to Tell You a Story … Cassandra on the Island

I want to tell you a story.

Let’s begin like this- I wrote a novel for my thesis when I was working for my Master’s at the University of Southern California and I made the head of the department cry.

I had few interactions with this professor. I like to think he liked me, he personally asked me to take a few advanced courses and met with me now and then to discuss agents and my writing, but we were of different worlds. How else do you explain the meeting of a poet and a novelist? We use the same words, but for a novelist it is about the meaning, where for the poet it is about the music beneath it.

To graduate, I needed people to sign off on my thesis. I had one from a fiction professor (I can’t remember his name now) and the head of the department promised to be the second… and he delayed… and he delayed.

I was working on campus, which was fine for me since I didn’t have to drive anywhere and there was a Carl’s Jr on campus and I was a little addicted to their crispy chicken sandwich (I don’t need to say more about that here). But on this day, instead of waiting in the outrageously long line of students and eating that awesome sandwich, I decided to bother the delaying professor. He was in his office and knew why I was there when I walked in. He didn’t make eye contact with me and promised to start the book that afternoon, shrugging me off.

I had to accept that answer and leave.

That night I received a call after 9 PM. It was him and he was crying. He kept saying the word “beautiful.” He talked to me about the book for over an excited hour, asking about why I did certain things, what they meant. He was figuring out different tricks I did in the writing in between his emotional outbursts.

It is not often a writer gets to speak to a moved reader the second after they finish their book, but I was having that experience here, and it was with someone that surrounds himself with books and writers! This is legit, right?

He wasn’t planning to read the book straight through, he said. He was planning to finish, maybe skim bits. He skims, he said. He skims most books from students, he said… but here he didn’t. And once he started he couldn’t stop.

He told me what he loved, what made him laugh and what made him cry.

He asked if he could share the book with others, and I said that was fine. He said I didn’t have to worry about my thesis, and he couldn’t wait to buy the book in print… and then he was off the line.

Now… let me be clear… I’m not telling you this story about a crying professor to brag. I’m telling you this because it was the first time I truly felt like a novelist. Continue reading

My Writing Resolutions 2017

luke-handIt is really easy to complain about 2016, but with 2017 here now, I can’t help but be more concerned.

If 2016 is the Star Wars of bad years, this could be the sequel. And the sequel was more intense, right? Han got stuck in carbon freeze. Luke lost a hand…

There! Right there, is my image of what 2016 was.

Luke without a hand. The problem is we all have more limbs left to get chopped.

Get your lightsabers out, people! Here comes 2017!

Here are some of my writing resolutions for the next year.

  1. My big hope is to find a path to getting my most recent novel in readers’ hands. I’m really proud of this book and have spoken to agents and smaller publishers about it. Hopefully, something will happen. It’s hard not to write more about it here. I would love to talk about the plot and the characters, but I have to keep it under wraps until a plan is in place. All I can say is that it will be a very unique literary treat and I look forward to sharing more about it.
  1. Last year I began a writing project on my site. Uses of This World is my retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet but set in 1920s Europe. (You can read the completed chapters that make up Act I here.) I’m really proud of it and I plan to work on Act II over this year. One act a year feels about right and keeps it from distracting me too much from other writing and projects. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. If anything it is very different.
  1. I haven’t been on WKAR’s Current State in quite some time. I did like doing the book reviews on the radio show and it was a good 3.5 years. (You can read and listen to my book reviews here.) I also think it was inspiring for me as writer to be reading so many books a year (and sometimes a bad book could be more creatively energizing for me than a good book, if you can believe it). I hope to do the occasional book review on this site until I know what is going to happen with my more professional book reviewing in the future. Does anyone know how to reach Fresh Air with Terry Gross? LOL.
  1. I need to decide what I want to do with this site. Sometimes it is hard to find the inspiration to say something unique here. I blame the last year, life stuff, and the election for drawing this writing “depression” out. And when I was inspired to write, it felt more important to work on my current book and the efforts to get it out there. I need focus and so does this site.

Overall, it’s an odd feeling for me looking forward to this year. Usually, I have a good plan for what I want to do in the next year and where the world is going, and I can’t say for certain about any of that right now. I will say that I have become a monthly contributor to the Natural Resources Defense Council. They are one organization putting up the good fight to protect our planet, for climate change is real. You can sign up here, and I recommend you do too. Or find a different cause you care about and help. There are a lot of great options from Planned Parenthood to Everytown for Gun Safety.

The fight for 2017 and our country’s future is only beginning.

Boy, that was dramatic of me. Hmmmm…. I need something more positive to say to end this post…. Oh, I am seeing Hamilton this year! That is cool. (Sorry, you can’t come.)

Good luck to all of us this year!

I Never Knew Harper Lee

Harper LeeI think the greatest sin of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman is the feeling of doubt that it gave me.

Before Go Set a Watchman, I naively thought I knew Harper Lee. Many of us believed that. There was such a beautiful personal quality to To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout and Atticus were not fictional, they were real, and we assumed that real people hid behind their smiles and hugs. Harper was Scout and, of course, her father was the noble and great Atticus.

They were friends and I visited with them often, in both film and book. Before Go Set a Watchman, I would watch the movie once a year, crying in the same two places each time (when Scout is told to stand for her father as he is passing and when she sees Boo in the corner). And I have read the book more times than I care to mention. A part of me still dreams of the first time that I will read it to my kids.

There was a moment in the 2000s, that I shared the same literary agent as Harper Lee. And I would beg (beg!) the agent for news on Harper. I imagined, if I played my cards right, there could be a friendship there. It would begin with a call, that slight southern warmth in her voice. “I was told you wanted to speak with me?”

Awkward at first and then the talk would grow. I would laugh at her sarcastic wit. And I would do a little dance the first time I was able to get her to laugh.

Of course, that call never happened, and my agent at the time just allowed my daydreams to take place.

But, like I said, that all changed with Go Set a Watchman. Continue reading

The With Music Series

With MusicHi everyone!

Over 2015, I took on a new series of posts on my site. I called it “With Music” and I was trying to tell bits about myself and my experiences through the songs that stir those memories.

One of the things I am really proud of around the posts is how diverse they are. There are serious ones, more humorous ones, and even some that might be considered romantic. Well, romantic from that weird perspective we writers take on the real world.

With the end of the year approaching, I thought I would tell you a bit about the eight posts and reshare the links (via the song title) if you haven’t had a chance to check them out. I might do more in the future. They were fun to take on. I hope you enjoy them!

“Don’t Change Your Plans” by Ben Folds Five: This is the story of a… well… I don’t want to say confused, but maybe troubled is more near the mark, girl I dated a long time ago. But really which of us is truly perfect? We all have our quirks. Of course, for me you can look them up on this site.

“Home” by Sheryl Crow: After graduating from college, I decided to travel Europe alone. I just never realized until I got there how big the word “alone” can be. Especially in a country filled with strangers.

“Sweetest Decline” by Beth Orton: This is me deciding what I wanted to do with my life and having the courage to claim it.  (Oh, and this is a pretty awesome song if you have never heard it before.)

“That’s Amore” by Dean Martin: Easily some of the happiest days of my life. My wife and I exploring Italy. Of course, the fact it connects to this corny song was not by our choice.

“Lucky Man” by The Verve: So I have this comedy radio series. You can actually listen to it via this page. I’ve always had a thing for radio drama and this song/story is about my time visiting the last survivors of this artform.

“Break Your Heart” by Barenaked Ladies: Whenever I think of embarrassing dating stories, this is the song that jumps into my mind. For each and every damn one…

“Hey Jupiter” by Tori Amos: Yes, this is a love story about a car.

“Any Love (Cassandra Et Lune)” by Ken Stringfellow: This is a story about many things. First off, it is an amazing song, but second it is also a story about achieving that writing high. When you feel you have all of creation on the tip of your fingers, you just got to start typing.

Cheers!

“Any Love (Cassandra Et Lune)” by Ken Stringfellow

Wow, I can’t believe I am already up to eight in my series “With Music.”   In each post I write about a time in my life, using a song that impacted me or reminds me of a moment.  The earlier seven entries included Ben Folds Five, Sheryl Crow, Beth Orton, Dean Martin, The Verve, Barenaked Ladies, and Tori Amos. This time I write about finding inspiration in Los Angeles.
Books

I am haunted by a song.

I sometimes hear it in my dreams, it is the one I might start humming when I am running an errand or absentmindedly finishing a chore. I’ve even been known to sing it to my children as they fall asleep.

This song has followed me for almost a decade and I believe it will be with me until I let one special book go.

I was sick of being a number.

There were a lot of students in the master’s program in writing at the University of Southern California and I felt like I always had to prove myself. Every class was the same, an introduction to the others in the room and then a slow stomp up the literary stairs to the top of the class. Maybe I would have had an easier time being in competitive classrooms like these if I went to a bigger college for my undergrad. Then I was a big fish in a small pond. I was the writer of the entire class of English majors. It may sound egotistic to say I ruled the school, but it felt like that as I went from writing workshop to workshop then.

But at USC it was different. It also didn’t help that I started the program in the middle of the year. Everything was settled by the students on their own personal rankings by then. You would see in the classrooms which students were worth listening to and which created the most eye rolling (and there were a lot of eye rolling). I was the odd man out, the question mark in the class, and I could sense it.

Those writing classes could also be stressful and aggressive. Students would argue about each others’ works, some teachers would spur it on (maybe even weirdly enjoying it) while others did their best to try and keep some control over their classrooms. I wish I could say I played it smart in the early months, biding my time and getting the lay of the land.

That would be a lie though if I said that. Continue reading

“Lucky Man” By The Verve

ZombieAnother music and memory post today!  This is the fifth in my “With Music” series. The others  so far included a song by Ben Folds Five (you can read it here), Sheryl Crow (here), one of the best songs ever by Beth Orton (here) and an embarrassing love for a Dean Martin single (here).  This time, I take on a lost week and a zombie.  Enjoy!

The easiest way to describe radio drama in the United States is to compare it to a zombie.

While in England and other European countries you can still find radio dramas (new and old) on their stations (many time with famous actors and writers supplying the talent), here it is something different. When television came around, the media world couldn’t have dropped it faster and all of the radio celebrities ran from the waves to the boxes.

Here is the thing though; it is not dead… well… not entirely.

It struggles, it grunts and it staggers forward, hands outstretched, craving listeners to bring it back, make it truly alive again. Not brains, ears is what the monster craves. Ears… Ears!

I have always had an obsession with radio plays. I remember the first time I heard The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was like a revelation. Douglas Adams took his crazy idea and with some sound effects and wonderful actors made a movie in my head that was better than any I could have hoped to have seen. I went from there to The Firesign Theater and then to old time radio. There was an AM station in my area that would play it randomly late at night, and as a kid I would stay up, leaning over the player, ready to press record on my tape deck if a show I loved came on.

There is something awe-inspiring to me about radio plays. They take really little to produce, anything can be a sound effect (Douglas Adams made the sounds of the end of the universe with a bath tub, for example), and you were playing in the mind of someone else. And since radio dramas rarely get bogged down with descriptions, the listener is really an active audience, dressing the characters and the set with their imagination. It’s a personal experience, and the audience can own it as much as the performers.

So when I started to dream of being a writer, my first thoughts were all about radio. I wanted to capture the zombie and give it new life, I didn’t want to be eaten.

Yes, I dreamed of feeding it ears. Continue reading

“Sweetest Decline” by Beth Orton

Mountain ClimbingThis is the third in my “With Music” series, where I capture moments in my life through a song. The first entry was about a Ben Folds song and a girl with elf ears (you can read it here), the second was about being lost in Europe and Sheryl Crow (here).

It was never supposed to be a hobby. Let’s make that point clear. Since the age of 16, my focus and my aim was on one target, becoming a professional author. I even had an agent when I was a kid (the agent then tried to sell a collection I wrote, but we parted ways when I discovered to my horror they were calling me a new generation Beverly Cleary. I thought I was Ray Bradbury. Yeah, I was a stupid and egotistic teenager… But Beverly Cleary?)

And by the time of this tale (age 24), I had four screenplays, the scripts for a ten-episode radio series, and a mountain of short stories. I knew there were novels in me, but I just wasn’t feeling it yet. I just had too many ideas and the idea of focusing on one like that felt difficult. Whatever the case, my world and identity was engulfed in the idea of me being a writer. Not just any writer, but an important one, for the history books, one of the voices of a generation. Why aim for a lower target when the mountain is freaking right there?

Now this is the rub- I was in the graduate program for English Literature at Michigan State University and I was bored. Bored, bored, bored! The idea of writing and studying more writers (and probably going on for my Ph.D.) sounded so… sigh… dull. Another essay? Another literary criticism? Bored…

The fact is I just wanted to write! My literary cup was full, thank you very much!

So in January, I got this idea and by May it was done. I had dropped out of the graduate program, moved back to Grand Rapids, got a really nice studio apartment (seriously, it had a fireplace, but the flames were blue for some odd reason), and found a normal job. Hello life!

There was a certain amount of logic around this (at least logic that worked for my odd mountain-seeking brain), I would live in this place and create my masterpieces, then when ready I would explode into the world. The problem is that this was all based on the idea that inspiration would be there waiting for me in that apartment.

It wasn’t. Continue reading