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!

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“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

“Don’t Change Your Plans” by Ben Folds Five

Elf EarsMusic 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. This is the first in what I am thinking of calling my “With Music” series.

She had elf ears.

People confuse elf ears with vulcan ears, but that is just not fair. Vulcan ears (Spock) look out  of place for a reason; they are alien, different. The old Star Trek was filled with this. Want something to look alien? Accent something that we are not used to. But elf ears are different. They are an extension of nature, they embrace the face, accenting, like a playful cursive twist at the end of a letter. They can remind more of a vine slowing stretching just that little bit farther up.

I first saw her at a writing table. It was being held at a local museum and everyone else there isn’t worth mentioning or remembering. Cruel to say, I know, but by then I had attended enough writing tables (thanks to colleges and bookstores and libraries) so that people fell more into categories than something flesh and blood. There was the guy who wants to be Stephen King (a little creepy and always stares a little too much), the older woman wanting to write a nice romance (I always feel there is hidden heartbreak there), the angry youth (who may or may not share poetry, but would always share their annoyance through expressions), the man with the mustache who is writing a thriller (there is always a man with a mustache who is writing an action thriller) and etc., etc., etc.

Writing tables like that, including the one with the young woman with the elf ears, was one of the reasons I was moving to Los Angeles. I had attended a lot of them while living in Grand Rapids, hoping one would give me some kind of sign of what to do next in my life and writing career. Frankly, by then I had been waiting enough. That is what my life felt like up until that moment, one long wait.

I had waited through college, waited through part of grad school, and now waited while counting down to when I was to leave in December for the University of Southern California. Sunny Los Angeles… where I was certain all my writing dreams would come true and everyone would recognize me for the genius I was sure I was. Continue reading

This and the Other Thing: A Writing Update

Even Superman writes!So this is my life right now.

I got this book. I can’t really talk about it. I mean, it’s still being created. It’s fresh, still new, like a babe. Let’s call it SB for Secret Book. This book has taken over a good part of my daily thoughts, and I’ve spent the last few evenings just working on it.

SB has also entered my dreams. No seriously, I’ve had two dreams with it and both moments ended up in the book.

This is the part of writing that I love about writing. The pure joy of creation, not being bogged down in marketing, query letters (to agents and publishers), etc. Just me and a blank piece of paper. Nothing but possibility.

The only thing I can compare the feeling to is back when I used to play jazz. For me it was the saxophone (alto and soprano), and there is this wild feeling of freedom once you know a song and its chords. That confidence that you are on this, you are in control and you can take the song wherever you want. There is pure improv possibility at that moment. It’s a flash of lightning, controlled energy.

That… right there, is what putting together a first draft feels like for me. And I’m in the midst of it. That is the smile on my face.

Hello. Continue reading

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!

 

Guest Post Tomorrow on the Undercover Soundtrack!

Permanent Spring ShowersTomorrow, I’ll be on the Undercover Soundtrack to talk about the musical influences behind my new novel Permanent Spring Showers. There is a preview post on the site today, introducing it and the rock artist I will be talking about. You can check it out here.

The preview is called “Demons, Frustrations, and Betrayal.” (Damn good title for an exciting book too, if you ask me.)

This is the second time, I’ve appeared on this fun series. The first time was to discuss the musical impact of Belle and Sebastian on A Jane Austen Daydream. I called Belle and Sebastian the perfect band for writers, and I still stand by that statement. You can check out that older post here.

I hope you tune in tomorrow to check it out!

“Inspiration” Author Susan Jordan writing about A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM

One of the unexpected joys I have experienced since the publication of A Jane Austen Daydream is discovering the impact that my book has on some of its readers.

I have received numerous e-mails, tweets, and Facebook messages from readers. For example, I received an e-mail from one reader who wanted me to know she was re-reading the book while sitting in Jane Austen’s garden in Chawton.

You save e-mails like that, let me tell you.

Author Susan Jordan (Eli’s Heart) tweeted to me yesterday about how she finished the book in one day and then wrote a 5-star review of it on Amazon! She has gone on to write a post on her site about how the book has impacted her own writing and life. Her post is called “I Read This Book…” Here is an excerpt from the editorial:

His book, A Jane Austen Daydream, looked intriguing, so I ordered the e-book and lost myself for many hours in the wonderful world he created. What I read was the most charming mixture of fact and fantasy I believe I’ve ever read and was utterly delightful. More than that, he gave voice to Jane Austen’s deep emotional feelings about writing, and reduced me to tears and inspired me at the same time.

You can read the entire post via her site (here). I hope you will check it out. And Susan, I am glad you enjoyed my book!

Audible Book Cover_A Jane Austen DaydreamPublished by Madison Street Publishing, 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). It has also just recently been released as an audiobook! Narrated by the amazing Louisa Gummer, you can find it on Audible and iTunes.

Talking About Miss Austen

From PersuasionThis week I had the pleasure of speaking to English classes at Aquinas College (Grand Rapids, MI) about my novel A Jane Austen Daydream. The classes were assigned to read my book… and after reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  So there is a tough act to follow and literary pressure for you!

It was a fun experience for me and I decided to capture one of my discussions as an audio recording. This is the first 20 minutes or so of the class.

In this recording you will hear me discussing the inspiration behind my novel and the experience of writing it (mostly fear).  Understandably, there are SPOILERS in the discussion if you have not read the book. Also, I am quite the fast talker.

Again, I would like to thank Aquinas College, the incredible Dr. Brent Chesley and his students. It was quite an honor! Thank you!

A Jane Austen DaydreamPublished by Madison Street Publishing, 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).

“Nightmares and dreams” Part one of an interview with Nancy Christie

Jane AustenHappy New Year faithful readers! 

Last month I was interviewed by novelist Nancy Christie as part of her “One on One” series. It was quite a long and fun interview, and she has turned it into a two-part series for the site!

If you ever wanted to get really into my writing head, meet the wizard hiding behind the curtain, this is that interview! The first part of her interview was released today; you can read it here.  In this excerpt is my answer to the most challenging undertaking I have had as a writer:

A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM was easily the most difficult book I have ever undertaken, because I had to be true to Jane. In other words, I wanted her to be alive on the pages, which means her own dialogue and spirit had to be part of the narrative.

So first, I had to research her life and her books thoroughly. I used to be able to quote entire passages of her novels! (Not anymore, now that space is taken over by cute kid songs from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood thanks to my young daughter’s obsession with the show.)

Then I had to decide what of her life I wanted to keep and what I wanted to use for the book. See, I wanted the plot to be influenced more by her own stories than her actual life (it is a daydream).

After the plot was in place (with some very notable surprises and literary twists included), I then had to write a book where her voice would feel natural, but not too dated to scare off a contemporary reader.

Yes, it was a slow process, with each sentence and chapter written and re-written numerous times. By the end, I felt like I had run a marathon (or at least what I assume that would feel like). But it was all very worth it.

You can read the rest of the interview here. Part 2 of the interview will be on Nancy Christie’s site on January 15. Thanks Nancy! 

A Jane Austen Daydream

My latest novel, 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).

“…a thought and a giggle” A new interview about A Jane Austen Daydream

From Pride and PrejudiceToday, there is a new interview about my novel A Jane Austen Daydream and  my life as a writer for you to check out. This time I am being interviewed by author and blogger Meglena Ivanova (that name is just made for the main character in a novel, isn’t it?).  It was a really fun interview and it was a thrill to do it.

Here is an excerpt from the interview (which you can read here).  This is my answer to “What comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?”

I pity anyone who attempts to read my yellow notepads. Because I usually get a few ideas at a time when I am working on a story and things mesh together on the page. I write sideways, upside down, I use squiggly lines to link ideas as they arrive. So, in a way, I am saying that once I have latched onto an idea everything comes together quickly. Kind of like an accident in a snowstorm. It starts with one car sliding and soon there is this pileup.

Many of my ideas come from images to start with or an absent thought that grows. My most recent novel A Jane Austen Daydream started as a thought and a giggle. The thought was the idea of doing something for Jane, give her something that might make her laugh. The giggle part is the twist in the book, and I don’t want to ruin it here. I’ve done some research after writing this book, and there is a very good chance it might be the first time such a twist was attempted.

You can read the rest of the interview here.  Thanks Meglena!

A Jane Austen DaydreamA 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).