A Holiday Short Story: Kris and Me

Hello everyone!

I thought I would share a story I wrote a few years ago for the holidays, “Kris and Me.” I’ve always had a thing for the holiday season. One of the first things I ever wrote (kid you not) was a holiday movie screenplay. I still am pretty proud of it, but it has been collecting dust for years.

I still dream of seeing that movie on the big screen (or the small screen). Definitely better than a lot of TV movies that get produced for the holiday season each year. Seriously, Hallmark give me a call!

Okay… where was I?

Oh, yeah! A holiday short story!

Here is the beginning of the story, I hope you like it.

Kris and Me: A Christmas Story in 3 Parts

Part 1

Let’s get this out of the way first. Kris has always had a magnificent beard. Even as a freshmen, when the rest of us were dreaming for just the hint of a stubble, Kris had a full rich beard. Yes, the girls would giggle about it behind his back, but all of us boys were jealous, because we thought it made him look rugged and a little dangerous.

I once asked about his beard. “How can you stand it, Kris?”

“What do you mean?”

“Doesn’t it drive you a little crazy? Isn’t it scratchy? Don’t you want to shave?”

He merely shrugged in response to it. “I like who I am.”

Strangely, that response made me a little jealous too.

Mountain man was the best way to explain Kris’s look in those early days with his heavy and muddy boots, black pants, and thick red coat. He always dressed as if it was winter, even during the warmest days.

Kris and I were locker buddies. This was not out of friendship at first, but because our last names were close together, my name being Stewart Kristin. Only two people in my life has ever called me Stewie though. The first was my grandmother who I loved dearly, the second was Kris. The first time Kris did it, I blinked a little surprised.

“Is it okay?” he asked. He almost sounded nervous, noticing my reaction.

“It’s fine,” I said and for some reason it sounded good coming from him.

With the approval Kris laughed. Kris always had a deep, rich laugh that came right from his belly. And Kris would laugh a lot. I mean, seriously, alot. He laughed at every bad joke, and he told many; usually ones that were far too clean for a high schooler’s taste.

The only thing he would not laugh at was another’s misfortune. He was always the first to stop a bully or a fight, being there before even a teacher or vice-principal had a whiff of it. His stern and disappointed look would immediately cool the situation. No one wanted to be on Kris’s bad side… ever.

You can read the rest of the story here: https://sdsouthard.com/2014/12/11/kris-and-me-a-christmas-story-in-3-parts/

Advertisements

The Importance of the Writing Heart

I wrote this post a while ago on the site, but I have been thinking about it alot.

For the last two years, I have been reading more nonfiction than ever before, and many times there is something missing under the surface. Good writing certainly, but still hollow. There is also some good writing advice here I believe, especially for those looking for suggestions or exercises to help their ability take off.

There is this truth around writing that we all can’t put our finger on. It’s enigmatic, elusive. But this “thing” can make a story or destroy it; it can change a letter from something that is thrown away or kept; and it is what makes an e-mail readable or spam.

Let me break this down in a different way.

As a book reviewer, I’ve had the pleasure of reading a lot of contemporary literature. And many times, these works will be by academics with amazing degrees and resumes. No one can deny these books are well-written, with a well-developed vocabulary and well-crafted plots. Yet, as a reader they don’t stick. I have no emotional attachment. It is like finishing a dry work assignment, not a work of art.

Recently, I had the same feeling reading Purity by Jonathan Franzen (you can read and hear my review here). No respectable reviewer will deny that Franzen is a good writer. He is, but his writing always misses something for me. And while I can respect the talent, I rarely remember anything after that last page is turned, almost relieved I got to the end of another gigantic tome.

So what do the academics and authors like Franzen miss?

Technically, they would argue nothing. They checked all the boxes that should make a work successful. Critics and publishers will agree. I might even agree! But it doesn’t change the fact that something was lacking and it is something behind the words.

I’m talking about heart.

Heart is the one thing that truly can’t be taught in an English or writing classroom, but it is also the most important thing a writer will need. And if used right by a writer, it can change opinions, stir a reader to act, and even make people cry or laugh. It is what takes a jumble of words and turns them into a message.

When writing has heart (be it in fiction, nonfiction, or even in marketing or business writing) it can move mountains. It can stir donations, create movements, and make art that truly will live after a writer has shuffled off this mortal coil.

Heart is the one thing all great writing share in all genres and styles. And yet, while we all have emotions, why is it so difficult for so many of us to call upon this organ? Continue reading

Dusting the Bookshelf – Permanent Spring Showers

As we get closer to the release of my latest novel (In Jerry’s Corner) from Stargazing Publishing, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of my previous novels. This is my second entry in the series, the first discussed A Jane Austen Daydream (you can read it here). This time I take on my most recent release- Permanent Spring Showers

It is easy for writers to be dramatic. It’s in our blood. If you are a writer and not dramatic in how you interpret yourself and the world around you, chances are, you are probably doing something wrong and should consider different career options.

So when I look back at my life and each of my novels, I see stories; with beginnings (the initial ideas), first steps (the creation), struggles (getting them out to the world) and conclusions (reviews and what happens). Sometimes those are nice stories (A Jane Austen Daydream and The Dante Experience both jump quickly to mind), while others I would classify as tragedies.

Today I present my greatest tragedy.

So much possibility and all of my main characters are lying dead with nothing good coming out of the situation. I weep for them. They are buried now in unmarked paper graves and no one has any idea they were even alive.

See, Permanent Spring Showers is probably one of the best books I have ever written and it is out of print. It is a ghost in the literary world, without the strength of a Boo. It is a tragic death, that has happened too soon.

Listen everyone as I mourn the tragedy of a book lost to the masses! Welcome to my five-act literary tragedy, Permanent Spring Showers! (See what I mean about dramatic.)

Act One: There Was a Script…

While the death of Permanent Spring Showers was swift, ironically I had the longest literary life with that novel and its characters. It actually began when I was at grad school at Michigan State University back in the 90s. Then I dreamed of achieving a PhD in Literature. I would teach, be that smart professor that all of the young English majors look up to- imagine the English major version of Dr. Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. That was going to be me.

(Conclusion to that dream, I ended up running off to Los Angeles, and getting my Master’s in Writing instead from the University of Southern California.) Continue reading

Dusting the Bookshelf – A Jane Austen Daydream

As we get closer to the release of my latest novel (In Jerry’s Corner) from Stargazing Publishing, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of my previous novels. Maybe, if I am lucky, it will inspire you to check them out. Whenever I set out to write a book, I am aiming to do something unique, surprising and original. This might be a bad business model, but for me as a reader and an artist, it is a lot of fun.

Most people know me because of A Jane Austen Daydream.

It led to most of my followers on Twitter and this site, it led to me working on Current State on WKAR for three years talking about books, and it led to almost 250 reviews on Goodreads (a number which continues to grow each month).

When the book came out (after going through a separation with an old agent and two publishers, one of whom tried to massively re-edit it and then finally released it with Austen spelled wrong on the paperback), I became for many the Austen man. Every interview I did had a question that was kind of like “Hey, you’re a guy! Do you know it is strange for you to like Austen? Because you’re a guy, I mean.”

Honestly, even though I always found that question a little insulting and sexist. I never pointed it out in my responses (and I’ve given dozens of various little playful responses to it). Jane Austen is a great author and wrote probably the greatest novel in the English language. It really doesn’t matter if I am a guy or not; it doesn’t change that fact. To enjoy her writing is human.

…And, on a side note, the professor that got me into Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen’s work was a dude as well. He is sadly gone now, but I did add him in as a character in the book as a thank you. He is the local doctor in Jane’s village, Dr. Chesley. Continue reading

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!

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!

Just got my copy! #HappyAuthor #JaneAustenIsBack

Did you get your copy yet?

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

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

 

Book Tour, Day 3: Book Spotlight on Let Them Read Books

Today, something a little different on the book tour for A Jane Austen Daydream. On Let Them Read Books, I was asked to say something about Jane Austen’s father. An interesting question because there is the real reverend, and then the fictional one in the book.

Here is how I begin my discussion:

George Austen was born in 1731. He met his wife Cassandra at Oxford. They would go on to have six sons and two daughters; the youngest, they named Jane.

If A Jane Austen Daydream was a typical historical fiction, I would point to research and letters to find Jane Austen’s father. I would paint his characters with his sermons, lessons, and what he wrote to his children, basically anything that I could find… but A Jane Austen Daydream is not a normal historical fiction.

You can read more about Jane’s pop and learn more about my novel here.

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

 

Book Tour, Day 2: “Highly Recommended” Book Review and Spotlight

Hi everyone and welcome to day 2 of the book tour for the fifth anniversary edition of A Jane Austen Daydream. There are two different sites to check out today!

First, A Jane Austen Daydream was reviewed by Kate Braithwaite, author of The Road to Newgate. Here is my favorite paragraph from her fun review:

Serious bravery is required to take on Jane Austen and mess with her in fiction. Janeites know their stuff. Even non-Janeites (like me) know quite a bit. I’ve read all the books. Some of them several times. And I’ve a sketchy knowledge about Jane Austen’s life, at least in terms of her death and love life. But I’m confident that fans of Austen who open this book in the right spirit – ready to be entertained and enjoy a Jane that might not quite match up to their own preconceptions – will thoroughly enjoy their trip to a well-written, witty Regency England, full of references to those six wonderful books. Highly recommended.

You can read the rest of her review here.

Also, A Jane Austen Daydream is being spotlighted on Before the Second Sleep. In the spotlight, I write a bit about my writing process on this novel. Here is an excerpt:

…I needed to write a book that felt like an Austen novel, but at the same time, new. Two, I needed to tell a story in the voice of Austen, but yet, I wanted it to be a “friendly” voice for the casual reader. So, everything had to be a recognizable (plot and characters) … and surprising and different and witty and charming and emotional and passionate and unpredictable. Whew!

You can read more from me and discover more about the book here.

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