Sunday, October 31, 2010

WHAT'S YOUR DREAM? by Sherry Perkins

Forget bustling New York, glamorous California, picturesque Oregon, breezy Oklahoma, or mountainous Colorado. Being born and reared here, I am totally committed to Louisiana; although, some say we are inbred. Since inbred actually means innate or natural, we are inbred from the time we are babies with certain characteristics like manners, graciousness, calmness, and a fiery gumption in our spirit.

Recently, I proudly and quietly displayed each trait. First, I sat in an audience for over an hour. I then stood in line for a long while, too. “Why?” you ask. I received an invitation for a Louisiana Veterans’ Medal from Governor Bobby Jindal, and this was my experience.

I showed my manners by attending although I did not know anyone there. I knew it would be rude not to go. Graciousness came next when I finally received my medal, met the governor, shook his hand, and said, “Thank you, Governor Jindal.” Although he is young, and is not a veteran, he is our governor and you should have seen the prideful eyes of the hundreds in attendance! It was a humbling and gracious experience.

Sitting alone without my husband, my mother, or any other family member, I watched and listened to the activities around me. Yes, it could have been nerve-wracking for anyone, but I quietly and calmly absorbed my surroundings. Not only had the governor’s presence humbled me; but also the presence of the younger veterans, the veterans from Vietnam, the Korean Conflict, and ultimately from World War II which almost overwhelmed me. Some World War II men had to be in their 90s! I had to be calm, or I would have exploded.

Speaking of exploding, most Southerners have a fiery gumption inside of us. Our determined spirits are a result of many different factors. I do not know if it comes from our ancestors’ fight in the lost cause of a Confederacy. Or, were they beaten down as they drifted further into despair in the Depression? From where did their grit come? As I approached the governor, proud thoughts of my deceased family members flooded my mind.

Had I not gone, I would have let them down. Had I chose to ignore the occasion I would have erased their efforts in the Civil War. I would have spit on their determination to survive the gloomy Depression. Ultimately, I went for my ancestors who could not go. I went for my ancestors who never had a chance to meet a governor. I went for my ancestors who never received a thank you for their service! Sometimes a thank you goes a long ways.

I would not trade living in Louisiana for any other place. Yes, we have manners. Yes, we have grace. Yes, we are a fun-loving, family-oriented, calm people. Mostly though, we have a determined iron will that runs deep in our souls.

For without determination we have no dreams. Everyone has a dream! Bobby Jindal dreamed of being governor. What is your dream?

Sherry Perkins has been published in magazines and newspapers across the state of Louisiana. Her article, Liberty, won Honorable Mention in the BWG Members Only contest. Sherry loves speaking to people, organizing, being supportive of others, and working hard. She recently tossed her hat in the ring for president of BWG.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Learn by Listening by James Tate

Hello. My name is James Tate and I’m addicted to audio books on CD.

This is where you say, “Hello James. Tell us about your addiction.”

Unlike many addictions, I’m not ashamed to say that I listen to several books a week on CD while driving around in my truck. I know your probably thinking that’s a lot of time to spend in my truck. You see, my job requires me to run across town, or bolt to Beaumont, or span the bridge into Bridge City to check out a cabinet job. I drive way too much. But instead of using the time to listen to songs I’ve heard a thousand times, I catch the latest chapter of a James Patterson novel. Instead of listening to the same news, (most of it depressing anyway) I relive my nightmares with Stephen King. How many opinions can you hear on the radio about why the Cowboys need to fire their coach? (Did I just say that?) Sorry bout that, Cowboys fans. The point is, the time could be better spent listening to a book by a new author, someone I’m not sure if I want to spend ten bucks on without trying them out first. This way, if I don’t like the first chapter or two, I return the unused portion to the public library for a full refund. (Hint! It was free to check it out)

Anyway, back to the addiction thing. When I first started listening to these audio treasures, I wasn’t sure if I’d like them. Then a funny thing happened. I found them to be very engrossing. Now don’t get me wrong. My return ratio is about 50/50. Some I barely make it through a track or two, some a chapter or two, because if it gets to rambling—or just plain bogs down with too much detail, I hit the eject button faster than…than…my last rejection letter. That hurt. But the ones that make the cut can keep me entertained for miles of blacktop. *Warning* If you tend to get engrossed in a good story, the road may blur into a movie scene from the Paramount Studios in your head—you know, the place where the words from the page are converted into visions in your minds eye. Be sure and keep one eye on the road.

From a writer’s point of view, these audio books can also be great learning tools. We’ve all heard that one of the best ways to edit our work is to read it out loud. You would be amazed at how much you can learn from listening to a complete novel being read to you. Pay attention to the tone, the pace of the story. What did you like or dislike about the way it was presented? How do your scenes, characters, dialogue compare to what you’re hearing. Try it.

Okay, I said I wasn’t ashamed of my addiction, but there was this one time I sat in the Walmart parking lot for ten minutes waiting to find out if the killer was who I suspected it was. I know. I know. Pitiful! Maybe I’ll start a support group. ABA. (Audio Books Anonymous) What do you think?

James R. Tate is the author of Hot Rod Jones & the Mystery of Gut Shot Creek. He's published in print magazines, and is currently marketing his first full length adult novel while writing his second. His goal is the top of the heap, not the top of the slush pile.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Critiques & Consultations w/Harold Underdown

If you write young adult or children's books and have been undecided about getting a critique from our conference speaker, Harold Underdown, now is the time to make up your mind. We have a few slots left. The first manuscripts for his critique will be mailed to him this week. We've added a second deadline for a second batch. November 1st. Please email me if you want to take advantage of this opportunity. Remember, to participate in this critique you must be registered for the conference and the critique is an extra $35.00. The instructions are below:

First: We also have a couple of scholarships left. Please don't miss this conference because you can't afford to come. I realize $40 is a lot of money when we aren't selling our work. Sometimes we can't rationalize investing in our writing because we don't feel like a "real" writer. I promise you, this conference will be worth your time. You'll learn a lot and you'll come away energized and motivated. You'll come away KNOWING you're a writer. Don't miss this opportunity.

Let me hear from you if you have questions. Manuscripts will be mailed this week to Mr. Underdown but it's not too late to be included. Second batch of manucripts will be mailed on November 2nd. That could be yours! Read the instructions below CAREFULLY.

jessy31writer at aol dot com
bayouwritersgroup at gmail dot com


Harold Underdown will meet with writers about their manuscripts for 15 minutes. You may submit one picture book manuscript or up to ten standard pages of a longer manuscript, along with a cover letter written as if you were submitting the manuscript to a publisher, but including notes on its revision or submission history as well. Include a one-page synopsis of the entire manuscript if submitting part of a long manuscript.

Harold will look at any material, from picture book to YA, either fiction or nonfiction.

PLEASE NOTE: Manuscripts must be received no later than than November 1st. When sending the manuscript, please specify: a critique or a consultation.

Critique: Manuscripts for critiques can be rough or unfinished drafts, or something you believe is ready to send out. In his meeting with you, Harold will focus on ways to improve the manuscript and will give you written comments as well.

Consultation: Manuscripts for consultations should be polished manuscripts, perhaps one already sent out to a publisher, which you believe have no significant writing problems. Harold will focus on "marketing" issues in his meeting with you; possible publishers and how to approach them.

If a manuscript submitted for one option needs the other, in Harold's opinion, that is what he will provide.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What are the Odds? by Sherry Perkins

I learned about odds in a college statistics class. I learned that odds are the chance of one particular thing occurring out all possible chances. For example, since there are six sides on a die, the odds of rolling a three are one in six (16%). Since there are four suits in a deck of cards, the odds of drawing a heart are one in four (25%).

Recently I left a situation wondering, “What are the odds?” when I had several random occurrences unexpectedly. Occurrence number one: I found myself at an “entertainment” establishment where I had not been in years. Occurrence number two: While there, I ran into a friend who has been living in Pennsylvania for 20 years and this was her first time there! Occurrence number three: It was September 11! Now, each of these occurrences could be coincidence, right?

Yet, what are the odds that on that particular night, I went to that particular place? I’d say that’s 1 out of 365 since there are 365 days in a year (not counting Leap Year.) The same odds apply to the date being September 11, 1 out of 365. Additionally, since the place opened sixteen years ago, and this was my friend’s first visit, it means one out of 5,840 (sixteen years times 365.)

Furthermore, if you add each odd together, the combined odds for those situations are three out of a possible 6,570 chances (one plus one plus one, and 5,840 plus 365 plus 365). What are the odds? I’ll tell you! It’s only .0004 percent.

Were we meant to see each other? After all, it had been years since we last visited. Isn’t the new meaning of September 11 remembrance? Coincidence you say. I say fate, because would you bet if the odds were only .0004 percent of something happening?

Now, you may be wondering, “What do odds have to do with writing?” Well, we increase our odds of being published each time we submit a piece. On the other hand, we have absolutely no chance when we sit and wonder and leave the piece alone in a notebook or in a computer file.

Our pieces cry out to be published! They are begging to be read! Wait, don’t you hear them? I hear them. They are yelling out like crackling thunder, “Read me! Read me!” Therefore, the point of this is to motivate and encourage you to not only be active in your reading and writing, but also to be active in your submissions. Let your words breathe, let them live, set them free and allow them to be read (and not only by you and your family)!

Don’t smother and hide your stories, your poetry, your essays, or your ideas. Take control. Steer them, mold them, nurture them, and love them! We wouldn’t keep our children hidden from the world would we? Why do we do it to our writing? Don’t be the one to wonder “what if?”

Sherry Perkins has been published in magazines and newspapers across the state of Louisiana. Her article, Liberty, won Honorable Mention in the BWG Members Only contest. Sherry loves speaking to people, organizing, being supportive of others, and working hard. She recently tossed her hat in the ring for president of BWG.