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!

Advertisements

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

A Q and A with Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews about my new book Permanent Spring Showers (Book Tour Day 7)

The MonkeesIt’s Day 7 of the book tour! Today is it is an interview with Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews. I really liked this interview. There were some great questions around the creation of the novel (inspiration, characters, etc.), but also some fun ones I could really get behind. Like, for example, do I prefer the Beatles or the Monkees. Here is my response:

The first concert I ever saw was The Monkees. That was during their big reunion tour in the 80s and my parents took me. It was a fun show, but Mike Nelson wasn’t there. I remember being disappointed by that. But The Beatles… Okay, they are one of my obsessions. A few years ago I had my brother (a professional photographer out in Los Angeles-http://www.adamemperorsouthardphotography.com/) create a family picture of my wife, kids and me as the Beatles based on the With The Beatles cover. I think you can see it on his site as an example of what he can do. That photo is one of my favorite things in my house. I got to be Lennon in that, which is awesome. Recently, my Playstation 3 died and I had to get a 4, the biggest disappointment for me is I wouldn’t be able to rock out with The Beatles Rockband anymore. That still makes me sad. I could do a mean “Dear Prudence.” Oh, and I saw Paul in concert twice. Man, he puts on a good show.

You can read the rest of this fun interview here.

This has been a really fun tour for me. This is my second interview (my first one was here). I have also written posts on numerous subjects related to the book. You can check out posts on how it feels to write an anti-romance (here), eccentric characters (here), passion and sex in the book (here), the importance of springtime (here), and some advice for new writers (here).Permanent Spring Showers

Just for the tour, the eBook of Permanent Spring Showers is on sale! Just $1.99, it can’t get cheaper than that! So there is no better time to grab a copy. You can find it on amazon for Kindle here and for the NOOK here.

Fiona Apple and the new book Permanent Spring Showers. A guest post on the Undercover Soundtrack.

Fiona Apple's New MasterpieceToday I have a guest post on the very cool site The Undercover Soundtrack. If you haven’t visit the site, you should. Writers discuss their musical inspiration and “soundtrack” in the writing of their work. I was on the site before, writing about the music behind A Jane Austen Daydream (which you can check out here). In this post I take on the soundtrack of Permanent Spring Showers, my latest book.

Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

Music can be like little time capsules. For some, they may return you to younger days, for me they return me to books. Whenever I take on a project, my creative psyche demands that I find the right soundtrack for it. And if I don’t, I might as well kiss that creative spirit goodbye. They flounder, gasping and dying like a fish out of water.

When I began work on my novel Permanent Spring Showers I knew I was doing something a little odd. It was a book very loosely based on a screenplay I had written years earlier, but this was going to be a very different work, not an easy adaptation. Also, I was going to present it chapter by chapter on my site. I liked to call it then a book in real time since you could enjoy the book and witness the creation of it as well. Yet, it was even more than that. Since I wasn’t bogging myself down in thoughts of sales, agents, and publishers, I was opening the door for sheer possibility. I could do anything, only limited by my own imagination.

It was so creatively exhilarating to throw off the shackles that so many of us feel when creating. And, adding in the danger that I could screw it up at any moment (for everyone to see) was just as thrilling. I was playing with literary fire. Luckily, I never felt alone in the flames.

In the article I break down the relationship between Fiona Apple’s most recent CD (which is awesome, by the way) and the book. You can check out the entire article here.

Permanent Spring ShowersPermanent Spring Showers was published by 5 Prince Books and is available on all online book retailers. Out in both print and eBook, you can find it on amazon.com here. The eBook is on sale for only $3.99.

You can read a sample and learn more about the book via this page. Grab a copy today!

 

The Author Addresses His Audience

Letter WritingDear my beautiful readers,

Over the Valentine’s Day weekend, 6000 readers snagged a copy of A Jane Austen Daydream during its free special on Amazon! That number floors me. I hope each of them enjoy my novel… and if they had and are here now wanting to learn more about the author- Hello! It’s nice to meet you!

I don’t typically write blogposts like this, but this is important. At least it is for me. Usually, I like to keep this blog to interesting posts (writing, life stuff, my perception of the entertainment and book world, etc.), my book reviews and about my occasional appearances in the real world/internet (interviews, guest posts, reviews, etc.). So it is rare that I outright write a post like this. Here I go…

The fact is I am an author, and my dream is for that career to grow. This is not about money (trust me, if it was, I wouldn’t still be doing this), this is about building a readership, making an impact in the artform I love.  And if you are reading this, chances are you might feel the same way about literature. I believe I have some interesting stories to tell and I want people to check them out.

Permanent Spring ShowersEarlier this month, I had a new book released, Permanent Spring Showers. I am really proud of it (You can learn more about it, read the first review, and check out the first chapter via this page for the book). It was published by 5 Prince Books. And I want you to go grab a copy. Yes, I am asking you to buy a copy when you get a chance.

The more people that read it, spread the word, and purchase it, the better the chances that others will find it, follow your example, and do the same. Word of mouth is the ONLY true path for success as an author today in this congested market and social-media driven world. And my dream is for this book to find its way into book clubs, libraries, college campuses and on top of night stands.

Yes, my dream is simply for you and others like you to read it.

So… if you have ever tweeted or retweeted a post, liked a post, shared it, read one of my other books, followed my book reviews, I am asking you to please, please, please check out my new book. You can find it in both print and eBook format on any online retailers (BN, Smashwords, etc.).  Here is the link for Amazon- http://amzn.com/B00T74HH0Q.

Sincerely,

Scott D. Southard

P.S. Permanent Spring Showers is an unpredictable and witty romp. You will like it. I might have been serious in this post, but I am not entirely serious in the book. You will like it, I promise.

P.P.S. I “borrowed” the title of this blogpost from a new song by The Decemberists. It is a very cynical song, showing that Colin is a little frustrated with us listeners. While he may feel that way in the song, I don’t feel that way in my post. I love having this blog and interacting with my readers. (The song is awesome though, especially the ending, you should check it out.)

P.P.S. Over the next month, I’ll be sharing guests posts about this book, like this one I did over on Focus on Fiction (http://www.nancychristie.com/focusonfiction/2015/02/15/scott-d-southard-on-writing-permanent-spring-showers/) as well as other musings. So don’t worry, this is not going to become one of those author sites that is only about sales. Simply put, I have a new book out.

P.P.P.S. Thanks for reading! And I hope you enjoy the new work!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Permanent Spring Showers by Scott D. Southard

Permanent Spring Showers

by Scott D. Southard

Giveaway ends February 26, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

My Time With Austen: Articles, Interviews and Excerpts

Jane AustenTomorrow (January 28) I’m going to be part of a panel about Jane Austen and writing at The Writing Show, sponsored by James Rivers Writers. If you are in the Richmond area and would like to attend, you can get more info here.

To help prepare for the event, I thought I would share some of the interesting stuff I have done over the last few years around my novel. It’s always fun to write or be interviewed about A Jane Austen Daydream. A lot goes on in that book, and there is soooo much to talk about.

If you are attending, or just interested in my novel or my experiences as a writer (since I talk about inspiration and all of the awkward and difficult steps that come along with this writing gig), why not check out some of the links as well.

I hope to see you this Wednesday!

Articles, Essays, and Inspiration

Excerpts

Interviews

And a fun bonus interview that I DID with the amazing narrator of the audiobook! Listen along!