An Editorial on the Novel Travelist

A Jane Austen DaydreamToday, to help support the release of A Jane Austen Daydream in April by Madison Street Publishing, I am pleased to have an article up on the Novel Travelist. The Novel Travelist is a fun site for writers hoping to explore the world, writers, and history.  Here is the beginning of my post, Writing Advice – Leave Home:

We writers are isolationists, introverts. How else do you explain the fact we spend our time alone creating friends and worlds?  We are not made for the outside; we’d rather stay inside, thank you very much.

When I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, as much as I cared about the degree, I was more interested in something else. It was always my dream to be that young traveler/writer by himself going through Europe, with nothing but a notepad and a few paperbacks in a bag. I saw myself sitting under trees in Jane Austen’s garden, opening my soul to the romantic poets, or wandering the halls of Charles Dickens’ home hoping for a message from beyond. I even sometimes thought about smoking a pipe (I didn’t, but wouldn’t it look cool?)

What I actually experienced though really was not at all what I expected. The rude awakening of being thrown out of my “universe,” my norm; well, I had to adjust for that in a major way.

There were no little safe places to go, like I could when I wanted to write or just read at home; here everything was new and different (as well as the people around) and for an introvert it can make one’s hair stand on the back of one’s neck… permanently.

Still, I know that this experience made me a better writer. I look at what I did before I went on that six-week trip and what I did later and I see a more imaginative, more creative, more introspective, and more worldly writer.

You can read the rest of the editorial here. I hope you enjoy it.

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My Online Literary Experiment: Time to Catch Up!

Feeling the ShowerPermanent Spring Showers is a new novel, but it is also an experiment… an experiment around creation, instinct, and a heck of a lot of literary luck.

To begin with, I grew up a fan of Charles Dickens, and one of the things he is well known for is how he wrote many of his novels, sharing them via his papers one chapter at a time; many times while still creating them. So to start, I wondered if I could do the same thing. That was the basis right there for my challenge.

Using an old screenplay I wrote years and years ago as the starting point, I first created 25 chapter titles. Those chapter titles now are the only direction I really have in the writing. See, the book is nothing like the screenplay, only a few scant remnants remain. (I can’t even remember the last time I have even opened up the screenplay file!) If having to guess, I would say only two plotlines remain, and only that many of the original characters are still like their former selves. Everything else is so sparkly new, and many times when I start a chapter, I have no idea where the characters are going to take me next. Thrilling and terrifying.

When I started it felt so wonderfully easy, with the first chapter oddly being the shortest one in the book. It was a lie! When the third chapter reached over 25 pages I realized I might be in a little bit of trouble. I wasn’t drowning, but I was enjoying the deep end of the pool a little too much, let me say that.

To help you, the readers, feel part of the process, I’ve also been creating occasional editorial updates on the experience. I like to think of them as fun little glimpses into the mind of a writer at work. They are full of contradictions, conflicting goals, and seem to carry through them the one underlining thought, “I don’t know what I am doing or where I am going, but this is strangely fun.”

And it has been a fun experience for me.

In 2013 I will be creating the last three chapters (plus one very short epilogue) for the novel. With the end so close I thought this might be a good time for readers to consider catching up or maybe starting for the first time. You can find all of the chapters here. I hope you will consider checking it out. Below, is a brief introduction to the book and the characters in it: Continue reading

My Five Favorite Posts, 2012

Father TimeI know we are not at the end of the year yet but I couldn’t wait. Yes, I am the kid on Christmas Eve wanting to open all of the presents early. And. let’s be honest, every blogger or writing site is going to be a doing a post like this. Why not be ahead of the curve?

So that’s me- Mr. Ahead of the Curve.

Before I get to my favorite posts, let me begin by saying how much I got a kick out of running this site this year. As a writer it has been very satisfying. Over the course of one year, I went from zero followers to 213 with over 25000 views this year alone. That is pretty awesome in my book, and just as satisfying this blog gave something back to me as a writer.

  • I was able to share fiction; things I have cared about that have been collecting dust around my house (and in my brain). The Dante Experience radio series is once again available to listen to, along with the unproduced scripts of the sequel.
  • A new collection of short stories, Upon The Ground, was shared on Green Spot Blue.
  • And I am writing a new book, Permanent Spring Showers, right here live for all to follow along… and many do!

A lot of what drives me and this site right now are you the readers. I know people say things like that all the time, but I am being very honest. You have no idea how powerful a like and a comment can be in spurring me forward, inspiring me. I might have abandoned this months ago if it wasn’t for the numbers and the responses. So this year, I am the most thankful for you the readers.

Thank you.

Here is my list of my favorite posts in no certain order… Continue reading

My Online Literary Experiment: Okay, Am I Stupid?

Deep breath…

So a few weeks ago I got called out by a writer/editor/publishing professional on Twitter questioning my goals and my thoughts behind this experiment of mine, Permanent Spring Showers. My little book inspired by Dickens.

Twitter, in its limited word span, can make things seem harsher than the writer may actually have meant it to sound (I did feel like he was condescending) but it threw me a curve.

Was I jarred? Yeah, I was jarred. I still am jarred.

I also like the word “jarred,” but let’s continue.

Basically, his argument was broken down into this point:

What publisher would publish or consider a book that people were getting for free?

Before other bloggers and writers take to my twitter site (@sdsouthard) to find the guy and twitter attack, let me say that about two-years ago I would have agreed with him. Yeah, I was in that camp then because I was trained in writing grad school to think of the publishing world in that black-and-white way. Heck, every book on writing and publishing would agree with him!

But the fact is that while this argument once made sense to me, it is not that way today. The world has changed, I have changed. Continue reading

The Art of the Blog: Getting Personal

Blogs are always started with the best intention. A writer feels they have something to share, something that could enrich a reader out there in the stratosphere of the internet.

The funny thing is you see this a lot around the newly published, both self-published and professionally published. Did I say “a lot” in that last sentence? Good, because I meant to say “a lot.” And usually on these newly minted blogs there will be a few posts about their book, their experience writing it, and a few helpful suggestions and then… nothing. The internet is littered with the remains of these kinds of websites, something akin to a field after a rock concert. The party is done, but no one bothered to clean up the mess from the show.

Frankly, what the beginning blogger doesn’t realize is that it takes guts and stamina to write a true blog and to build a readership for it. A blog is more than a marketing tool, it is a new writing platform (and in my opinion could become its own powerful writing medium right alongside writing for plays, books, television, etc.), and if you don’t see it as such, you won’t be able to use it to its full potential. Yes, you can fill it up with advice and your opinion, but for people to come back again and again, there has to be something in your blog that is not available anywhere else on the internet…

I’m talking about you, by the way.

Continue reading

Drowning in Tweets: A struggling author tries to understand Twitter

I dream the same dream of thousands of other people.

Yes, I am one of thousands (probably a lot more) and we are all part of the same collective consciousness, wired into the same hopes of finding writing success. And while we all know in our hearts that there are not enough readers on this planet for all of us to succeed, we all keep dreaming together, sharing the same hopes, avoiding expressing the same fears.

It is all a beautifully sad thought, like a fleeting, quiet, and hopeful melody lost in a romantic symphony.

-At the time of this writing I have 2370 followers on Twitter-

I need to begin by blaming my brother (@AESPiano).

I had just reached over a 100 followers on my blog and he thought it was ridiculous that I had more blog followers than Twitter followers. He first reached out to his followers to find me and follow me, and then he tried to convince me to do some outreach myself on the great social media site, claiming that it would help my writing career.

Frankly, I didn’t see it, but I decided to do some investigating into it just out of curiosity. I found a fellow writer who was following me and started to scroll through her followers, looking for other writers, and clicking follow on the ones that I felt might be interesting. Continue reading

Writing About Genius: Discussing Authors on a Blog

I tolerate Garrison Keillor, but I am not sure how much I like him.

While I am impressed that he can write a two-hour show each week (and that is an accomplishment, make no mistake), I never found his fiction to be very good– comforting, yes; good, no. When planning for a trip to Italy with my wife, I picked up a bunch of his novels for all of the driving from tourist site to tourist site.  Well, on day two of the trip, I gave his books to another traveler, and picked up some new books at a bus stop… Yeah, that says everything right there.

So why do I bring up Mr. Keillor? Frankly, I don’t think he helps the image of English majors and readers on his show. English majors (and I will include librarians with us since they get attacked as well) in his opinion seem to always live a life of illusion, false grandeur.  Making us almost something to be pitied or laughed at… and they laugh every week.

Yes, English majors really don’t serve much of a purpose in the economy, no business manager has ever demanded an HR department to hire a new English major. When it comes to the American dream of moving up ladders and finding success, English majors are on the outskirts; because, honestly, our dreams are different. Continue reading

Greetings, My 97 Followers! Come In & Say Hi!

One of the wonderful surprises I never considered before starting this blog up in January was the collecting of followers.

(For those that are not in the know, you can become a follower of a site/blog like this by adding your e-mail into the box on the left above the “Good Reads” option, and below the “other Sites of Interest.” You will get an e-mail each time an article is posted, or if you are a member of WordPress you can catch up on the blogs you follow via your own main WordPress login page.)

Since January, I have collected 97 followers, and it is… okay this may sound like an everyday adjective but truly I mean it when I say it is “awesome.”

So why is this so much fun for me, my followers? Because frankly how diverse all of you are and how cool and passionate each of you are about your own interests.

I check out my followers’ sites from time to time and I have everything from musicians to dancers to photographers to writers (fiction to nonfiction) to fellow hip parents to even one person who is checking off the points on her bucket list.

Yes, when I have free time, I occasionally visit each of your sites, wondering what is going on, happy to know that this person enjoys my writing. You guys help the old ego in a major way!

Anyway, to celebrate the fact I am almost at 100, I thought it might be fun to have a post like this… Consider it a cyber “meet and greet.”

Let’s do it like this:  In the comments section below, if you want, leave a comment and description about your own site (if you have one), introduce yourself to the other followers and readers (who knows? other followers might join your site as well). Share with us your dream for your own site. I would love to hear from you.

And thanks, of course, for following my site and writing! Cheers!

Some Writing Advice: Leave Home

We writers are isolationists, introverts. How else do you explain the fact we spend our time alone creating friends and worlds?  We are not made for the outside; we’ll rather stay inside, thank you very much.

When I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, as much as I cared about the degree, I was more interested in something else. See, ever since I could remember I had been planning a trip to Europe. It was always my dream to be that young traveler/writer by himself going through Europe, with nothing but a notepad and a few paperbacks in a bag. I saw myself sitting under trees in the Lake District, opening my soul to the romantic poets, or wandering the halls of Charles Dickens’ home hoping for a message from beyond. I even sometimes thought about smoking a pipe (I didn’t, but wouldn’t it look cool?)

What I actually experienced though really was not at all what I expected. Oh, the traveler in my kicked in after a bit, but the rude awakening of being thrown out of my “universe,” my norm; well, I had to adjust for that first in a major way.

There were no little safe places to go, like I could when I wanted to write or just read at home; here everything was new and different (as well as the people around) and for an introvert it can make one’s hair stand on the back of one’s neck… permanently.

Still, I know that this experience made me a better writer. I look at what I did before I went on that six-week trip and what I did later and I see a more imaginative, more creative, more introspective, and more worldly writer.

So fellow writers, here is why, I think, you need to break out… Yes, I am telling you to step away from the keyboard and the soft couch. (Don’t worry they’ll be there when you get back.). Here are just three reason why: Continue reading

10 little nuggets of writerly wisdom to consider: From one struggling writer to another

One thing a writer can not avoid is someone asking their opinion about writing or their advice for trying to make it in the field. Here, I must admit that I used to ask the same question all of the time to my writing professors or writers I would meet. It is like there is a great secret we all want in on, and the trick is finding someone that will teach you the magic handshake.

The truth of the matter is there is no magic handshake. Yet, there is a mountain of books that claim to know— everything from how to put a pen on the paper to how to get that elusive publishing deal. Personally, I’ve always found these how-to sections at bookstores overwhelming. A person could drown in those murky waters, struggling to find the right voice and advice that works for them.

Yet, when I am confronted by new writers who ask me about writing, my advice usually falls into the following ten points; they are ideas, suggestions, lessons, or hot air, in many ways whatever you want them to be or what works best for you. Continue reading