Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Writer by Bryan Coleman

I moved at a steady pace through the large bulky back room that housed the printing press. A single light hung over this gigantic apparatus, now silent. I made my way through the double doors into the paste room....

I had just started at the local newspaper a few weeks before. I settled into a routine that consisted of shuffling through the early part of the day, going home for supper then hitting the road on game nights before drifting back to the office to write.

I was (and still am to a degree) very discreet about writing, well . . . as much as I can be. Sitting down for those few moments, staring at the blank screen, I prayed earnestly for the words to come while the IBM 8086 computers hummed their evening vespers.

But then it happens . . . I start to write, mostly because I have to, but partly because I love a good story. I didn't learn anything earth shattering in those early days at the newspaper, nothing I could pass on to you. I liked writing but I loved telling a story. There was a sense of accomplishment in those early days when "just completing the work" was something I cherished. It reminded me of my high school days when I was a varsity basketball player. I hated practice but I loved the game. I loved the game enough that I tolerated practice. Now, later in life, I work at practice. I still don't like it but I've learned to tolerate and understand the process. So it is with writing. I tolerate writing because I love the story.

Recently I started to write again and began writing the bones down for "City of the Dead" (which isn't about zombies). As the process would have it, I ran into some old, run-of-the-mill writers block. I found myself sitting in front of the computer, just like in the early days, waiting . . .

So I decided to changed things up a bit. I balked the computer for a yellow note pad. I drew out the story much like I was writing a letter--some parts love, some parts bitter. I'm not innovative, just following the orders of an old drill instructor, "improvise, adapt, overcome." I'm still working on the last part.

Countless stories were started on my old Dell and countless died there. I decided to smooth the edges on my weakness and try a different approach. I finished "City of the Dead" in a little over 3 months. It now sits on my top shelf . . . cooking.

So there it is . . .

In the beginning the newspaper demanded that I follow through, and I did. Now, at 45 years old, there is no editor, no deadline. I have to look at the paper and write. Inspiration has played a part and yet I am still learning to do the hard things. Reading good books and writing down things I care about has made the hard things doable.

I promised myself when I was in my twenties whatever I did with my writing would be done with a degree of honesty (to the best of my ability, of course) so as not to betray myself or my reader. I believed, and still do, that honesty in writing is what makes it believable. I know, yea, that's nothing new but I heard it somewhere and believed it like the gospel.

I hope that you find out what makes your writing work, what makes it honest, what makes it believable.

Bryan Coleman is a former newspaper journalist turned novelist. He writes full time and is a regular contributor/photographer to CSN, Christian Star News.

Monday, June 14, 2010

International Travel and The Writer by Curt Iles

I'm very thankful to have the privilege of traveling out of the United States. I've come to realize there are various benefits as a writer in my travels.

I want to make it clear: I travel for the purpose of sharing about my personal faith in Jesus. Going to the "hard places" (i.e. difficult to reach, tough conditions, great physical/spiritual needs example: Democratic Republic of Congo, the neediest place I've ever seen) always softens my heart. I learn much more from new friends in these countries than I could ever teach them.

Here are a few benefits I see as a writer:

1. Traveling abroad always gives me Perspective on Life. I see the world in a new way. I see myself in a new way. I return with much greater appreciation of the freedom and opportunities I have as an American.

2. Traveling abroad provides Perspective on my writing. I step back from the canvas and can "see" my current work in a new light. Where I'll be for the next 2 weeks (Congo and Rwanda) has very limited and slow internet, little phone service, and no TV in English. I don't take my laptop. It's a chance to step back, refresh, and reflect.

I always return with a journal full of ideas and a clearer mind about the writer I want to be.

3. Traveling is a great way to hear/see new stories in a new culture. I've come to believe that human nature is very similar throughout the world. A story from Ethiopian or Honduran culture is just as powerful as a story from Cajun, Piney Woods, or Southern culture.

I go to help.
I go to learn.
I always come back fuller.

My goal in this trip is "Return with an empty suitcase and a full heart."

CURT ILES writes from his hometown of Dry Creek, Louisiana. A lover of stories, nature, history, and dogs, he writes of the wonders of the woods and the memorable people who live there. Curt's new novel, A Good Place, is now available at

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Are Reviews Important? by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

As a reader, I don’t always rely on reviews or word-of-mouth in order to buy a book. After all, reading is subjective and not every book someone recommends is something I enjoy. Besides, I’ve been disappointed too many times.

But as an author, I love to receive those glowing 4 or 5 star reviews! This validates my work and builds confidence that I truly AM a writer. Even in a not-so-glowing review, I can normally find something positive to focus on.

Recently I found out just how important reviews are to an author’s recognition.

I heard through the grapevine that the more reviews a book or story on Amazon has, the more potential it has to become a “recommended read” when people do searches for specific genres, thereby increasing exposure. In researching I discovered that White Rose Publishing titles were not very easy to find while searching Amazon unless you knew the title and/or author. And then, the book(s) were buried so far in pages of other similar titles and authors, most folks would get tired looking for them.

So some of the White Rose authors banded together and began reviewing each other’s work.

Within days of this happening, most of the authors had 10 or more reviews. A few actually reached higher than twenty reviews before a week was up. But that’s not the best part.

The best part is, within days of us posting reviews of the books we’d already read and tagging each one with terms like White Rose Publishing, Inspirational Romance, and other identical words, White Rose titles began moving up in the ranks and were listed as an “also reviewed” or a “suggested product” similar book to some well known publications! If a search is done in the Kindle Store for “Christian Romance” about a 1/3 is WR titles where before you'd only get bonnet books and ones written by people whose last name was Christian.

This means that Amazon is automatically showing WR books to people who search, which may encourage them to buy our books!

So do your favorite author a favor and review his or her book on Amazon.

Award-winning author Pamela S. Thibodeaux is Co-Founder of Bayou Writers Group. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, "Inspirational with an Edge!" Visit her website at and check out her blog at