Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Author Interview: Rodney Hennigan

by Sylvia Ney

Rodney Hennigan is the author of My Father’s Gift. You can find him on facebook or at

1. How did you develop an interest in writing? One day, not so long ago, I had gotten into an awful bind with one of my sons (David) while in the midst of a two week long hunting trip. We were far from home and deep within the Atchafalaya wilderness staying in my old Airstream travel trailer. My mouth had gotten me into the trouble, as it usually does and he was extremely upset with me. So much so, he informed me he would never go into the outdoors ever again. My heart was broken and splitting in two. I had run out of words and exhausted every means of persuasion I could think of to change his mind from leaving, all to no avail. The only thing left to do was to enter into a silent prayer to beg for help. While I was praying and just before leaving to return home, a stranger arrived on the scene and I became a spectator as I witnessed the prayer being answered before my eyes in an undeniable way. The end result is this: David remained in the woods the second week and literally saved my life three days later. After all of these events occurred I felt called to begin writing to preserve the memories of the great adventures I’ve been caught in and perhaps share the wonderful spiritual journey I discovered in God’s amazing outdoor world for my seven sons. Other people, the living-proof-reading characters which had participated in the true stories, after reading the written words to check for inaccuracy, found none and loved it. They strongly encouraged me to continue writing and share it with you, the public at large. I’ve always remained sensitive to what motivated me to begin writing in the first place, so I had to do it, although I really didn’t want to at the time. And in spite of myself, all of this has led me to be where I am today, a published author.

2. Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career out of it? Remember, I had never intended to nor had the desire to write before being privileged to witness the prayer being answered with David. I began writing to fulfill a heartfelt personal commitment to do so. The original writings were intended for the sole use of my seven sons, not a career changer or a hobby. I was then and still am currently working on my railroad career and am looking forward to retirement in the near future with the hope I can spend more time in the outdoors with family and friends. However, now that I’ve said that, I am pleasantly surprised to find myself filled with the overflowing love and abundant joy freely given by the readers of My Father’s Gift. I simply must continue to write for them and am driven to do more. He and they have changed me in many good ways. I would now be lost without either and left feeling empty. I once thought I was a happy man, now I realize I was mistaken. I was merely content. I am happy now. I hope to remain in a deep debt of gratitude to the precious readers I have come to know and love for a long time. Only God knows and time will tell what is to come of it.

3. What authors do you admire? I am an avid reader and admire so many authors of different genres. I would need to see a list to check each off to be fair. However, if forced to do so, I would like to mention a couple which immediately spring to mind, Samuel Clemons (Mark Twain) and Patrick McManus. These two authors managed to capture a restless youngster’s imagination (me) willing to give reading for entertainment a chance. These guys practically tied me up and placed me in the midst of the most amazing journeys filled with many exciting adventures. They also left me with an insatiable craving to read more. I find it very humbling and ironic to be often compared to the two great writers today. Especially after Patrick advises folks to never attempt writing of true life humor, claiming it can’t be done except in very rare cases.

4. What do you do when you have writer’s block? My writing is non-fiction. The result is I have not encountered writer’s block to date.

5. Did you submit anything before self-publishing your first book? Yes, I did. But please recall I began writing to fulfill an obligation. After I started, I was then encouraged by others to share with the public. It was during this time when I began to suffer from what I call “the doubting Thomas effect.” I lacked confidence and had to test my high school writing skills. I also questioned if readers would be receptive to my writing talent or lack thereof. This is how I did it; I began the experiment to seek the answers by sending several different stories to newspapers and magazines. I couldn’t believe the results. None were rejected and all were printed in their entirety, the misplaced commas and all! Of course the final conclusion forced me to continue with the writing of the book.

6. What about contests? Being motivated by a personal obligation caused me to view entering contests as a wasted effort with much to lose and nothing to gain, similar to the same regards I had developed toward going the ‘traditional route.’ Several reasons were involved. Number one was that I was determined to fulfill my obligation regardless of what a single reader or a panel of judges decided, so it was unnecessary. Another was associated costs. Funds were scarce and every available cent was dedicated to publishing costs. It was my hope to give the reading public the right to be the judge. I knew they would be quick to reach a decision as far as to if the book was a worthy read or not and they were. I also knew they would be merciful and quick to knock me in the head if it wasn’t and they didn’t. As a working husband and as an avid reader with seven hungry boys to feed, I had lived with the knowledge hard earned money and precious reading time is something one did not want to waste on an inferior book. The readers decided they had wasted neither and soon began promoting the book to others, sales took off. So now perhaps you can understand how I rejected the idea of going the traditional route and refrained from entering any contests, until an unexpected request was made by one of my cherished readers after publication, one who also happens to be a respected librarian. She strongly encouraged me to enter My Father’s Gift into its first contest. And you would know it was one of the toughest in the land, at that. What you may not know is this (I didn’t at the time), but the state of Louisiana hosts the world’s second largest of desirable venues for authors to attend in Baton Rouge on the capitol grounds. What the librarian wanted me do was this; she wanted me to enter My Father’s Gift into stiff competition against many other talented authors hoping to win one of four coveted invitations to attend the prestigious event. I was shocked, but by this time I had learned to listen to the readers and chose to follow her advice. I responded to her wishes and sent the book in to the state capitol to be picked apart and judged by a panel of literary experts selected by the Louisiana Center for the Book. The festival is open to the traditional publishing world’s authors by invitation only and over two hundred were invited to attend the 2011 event. How they are deemed worthy to be invited I do not know, but self-published authors or non-traditionally published authors such as me were required to submit their work to be judged. I thought of the process as kind of like trying to win a super bowl ticket the day before the game, the odds were enormous and the deck was stacked against success. Books considered inspirational were discouraged and not allowed to be entered into the contest ( and look under criteria for confirmation). But I am happy to report to those who don’t already know, My Father’s Gift passed the test. It was selected as a featured book for the 2011 Louisiana Book Festival and I was invited as a featured author and as an honored guest. I was also asked to be a panelist. I would have never done this without one cherished reader’s prompting. The resulting humility is great and I have been blessed for it. Thank you Debbie.

7. Are you a member of a critique group? No, I am not a member of a critique group. I really don’t feel qualified to be so, but will sometimes do for another if asked and only then if time permits. But I am a member of a great group of writers, The Lake Charles Bayou Writers Group. They are eager to help aspiring writers. They have helped me tremendously and are very good at what they do. I strongly suggest either contacting this group or perhaps a similar organization closer to your home.

8. Have you ever attended a writer’s conference? I have attended one writer’s conference. It was hosted by the members of the Lake Charles Bayou Writer’s Group mentioned above and it was an excellent event. I learned a lot from this single attendance. Most of which continues to serve me well to this day. If one receives an opportunity to go to this annual conference or perhaps another, I suggest they grab on to it. Better yet, go visit the group or join.

9. Would you share your first paragraph with us? “GOD, PLEASE, WE NEED YOUR HELP! IF NOT FOR ME, PLEASE HELP THE BOYS! PLEASE! WE ALL NEED YOU, NOW!”

10. What is your most anticipated upcoming release? There are actually two new releases I am working on which fills me with high anticipation. The first is a children’s book I hope to have ready by this Christmas. The second will be the sequel to My Father’s Gift. The readers are really starting to insist upon it and I must get to work for them. In the meantime, if anyone would like to keep track of the progress of the above mentioned books they may visit My Father’s Gift on facebook or go to to order a copy. Also, for those who have one of the new electronic readers I’ve been hearing about, Mr. Larry Wise of Wise Publishing is now in the process of making it available on Amazon and it should be available, literally, any minute now. If one does not desire to make a purchase, but would simply like to read the book, please check with your local library. Many in Louisiana already have it on their shelves and an effort is underway to make contact with the ones who do not. If you inquire and they don’t have it please ask them to contact me using the above listed information. It is my wish to serve you and your community. Contact information is also printed on the inside cover of the books.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Author Interview: Michele Abshire

by Sylvia Ney

Michele Abshire is a housewife, mother, grandmother, and full time legal assistant. She has been published in Lake Charles, Louisiana publications, Christian Star Newspaper and Gumbeaux Magazine and most recently is published with her own column in “The Wordsmith Journal.”

1) How did you develop an interest in writing? I started sending out notes of encouragement to people in our church that were sick or going through difficult circumstances. I found that it was a blessing to so many and I wanted to encourage others as well. I would “see” or “hear” things that would remind me of truths in God’s Word and this led to writing short stories, essays or analogies which I would use to encourage people.

2) What other styles do you write? I write mostly short Christian or inspirational stories. I also love history and love to research so enjoy doing genealogy. I have prepared family history books for my family and individuals. I have written a very short bio for a man, Harold LeBleu, who wanted to share his story and hope with others called “From Cancer to Christ.” I have written some poetry and Cinquain poems for (and about) family members. Cinquain poems are fun!

3) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing? I write to encourage others. It has become a ministry to write and hopefully I am able to touch lives that need to be lifted in some way.

4) What music, places, people inspire you? I listen to Christian music of which Worship music is my favorite. I am inspired by all kinds of places and things. Every day there is something that will probably amaze and inspire me and an idea will start swirling around in my mind. The people that inspire me are all around me every day. My family, friends, co-workers and church family. On a bigger scale I think those that I admire most are those that make a difference or have made a difference in the world. I love stories of heroic deeds, small and big, being done in the face of fear, adversity and trials. I am reading a wonderful book now about one such person: Life in a Jar, The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer.

5) What do you do when you have writer's block? I usually write when I am inspired or amazed by something but when I can’t express a thought I usually pray to find the right words.

6) Have you submitted anything yet? Yes, I have. I have had “nice” rejections and I have also been privileged to be published.

7) Are you part of a critique group or writer's guild? I am a member of the Bayou Writer’s Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana for almost two years now.

8) Have you ever attended a writer's conference? Yes, I attended the Bayou Writer’s Group conference in 2011.

9) Where do you live? I live in Sweet Lake, Louisiana.

10) Do you have an editor or agent? I do not have an agent. I do have someone that edits for me and also two people that proofread after editing has been done. I am very thankful for those that help me in my writing endeavors.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Author Interview: Chris Baldauf

by Sylvia Ney

Chris Baldauf, graduated from McNeese State University with a BA in English. She is retired from homemaking while writing and living on the river with her husband in Southwest, Louisiana. Chris is the current Treasurer of the Bayou Writer's Group, active in BWG's Thursday morning critique group, and reads with the Pulpwood Queens of Southwest Louisiana book club. A volunteer with a passion rooted in prison ministry, Chris is on the Board of The Open Door Re-entry Center, a mentor, and serves as director of the literacy program for women within the local parish jail.

1) How did you develop an interest in writing? As an introverted child I played in my imagination more than with other children. My writing blossomed in college (the second time around). When our fourth child was two-yrs-old, I returned to school taking a few classes a semester. Literature and the creative writing courses spurred my flagging imagination and writing gave me permission to play again. I graduated in the same class with our oldest son.

2) Please tell me a little about the novel you’ve written. Autonomy’s Asylum started out as a statement about the charity healthcare system in Louisiana. Frustrated for people I knew who had no voice, I let my imagination create Annie Miller, a bipolar eccentric who suffers with the bureaucracy and inconsistencies that the system generates. Creating Annie as a quirky, fun loving individual with mental illness opened up other issues of co-dependency and personal freedom. It’s been an eye-opening journey and truly a labor of love.

3) How long did it take you to write your current MS? Like my college education, I’m the tortoise type—slow and steady. I developed the story over the past five years and finished the current MS in 2011. I’m in the editing and revision process now. Enrolled in a synopsis workshop through the Writer’s League of Texas, I plan to start querying agents in April.

4) Have you written in any other styles? I started writing a mystery located in Southwest Louisiana, but during the submission process hurricanes devastated the Gulf coast. The project took a back burner for practical reasons, plus in the aftermath of Rita, I felt my fluffy mystery series was irrelevant. Poetry holds a passionate fire in my heart, but fiction is my sanity. Writing gives me the opportunity to articulate in a succinct way.

5) Tell me a little about your blog. Last year debuted, Some Assimilation Required… batteries not included. This was my response to reading and hearing for years at conferences that an author must have an electronic presence. In January I started in earnest to be connected.

6) What writer's conferences have you attended? My first was in 2004, the annual Agents Conference sponsored by the Writer’s League of Texas. Friendly and organized, it’s pricy. I attended again in 2010, but I would recommend the novice cutting literary teeth on something smaller. The Jambalaya Writer’s Conference held in Houma, LA is an excellent affordable conference. And of course my favorite is the annual Bridge to Publication held in Lake Charles every November, sponsored by the Bayou Writer’s Group.

7) What book have you planted on a coffee table to impress someone? I don’t own a coffee table. Maybe I’ll get one when I’m published—someplace for dust to collect while my creative imaginings go wild hunched over the computer.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Poetry Out Loud!

On Friday, February 17th, the regional competition of Poetry Out Loud was held in Lake Charles at Central School. The top three winners will advance to the state finals in Baton Rouge with a chance to compete in Washington D.C.  Bayou Writers’ Group student member Keaghan Kane, right, came away with a first place victory. Thanks to her mom, Kimberly Kane, for submitting the photo. BWG president, Sherry Perkins (left) was one of five judges.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Author Interview: Stanley Klemetson

by Sylvia Ney

Stanley Klemetson is an Associate Dean of the College of Technology and Computing at Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah. He was formerly head of the Department of Engineering at McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana. As a civil engineer his primary publishing has been technical books and professional publications. He has prepared several non-fiction family histories and a manuscript for a technical writing textbook. While living in Lake Charles, he took classes in poetry and creative fiction and became an active member of the Bayou Writers Group. He has submitted several poems and short stories for publication and for contests, but does not have any in print yet, except for a single copy of a book of poems he wrote for his wife’s birthday.

1) How did you develop an interest in writing? When I was a teenager my father and I would watch people walking by and discuss their possible life stories. In a class I took from Orson Scott Card two years ago we were asked to get a back story by interviewing someone and then write about their possible future story. When I wrote my family histories I knew I wanted to know more about their lives. I use to be the editor of a college magazine. While I wrote for the magazine I realized that I needed to know how to make my writing more interesting. Then I joined the Bayou Writers Group and took poetry and creative writing classes at McNeese State University and wanted to do more creative writing.

2) What styles do you write? I like stories about people living normal lives with the conflicts and resolutions that we all face. Most of my short stories are fictionalized accounts of real people and situations, in a creative fiction or creative non-fiction genre. Often my stories have composite characters and “what if” situations. I also like to write poetry, but most of that comes from situations that bring emotions to the surface, such as living away from my wife for periods of time or special people I have met.

3) What authors do you admire? I have read several of Debbie McComber’s books and like the conflicts and resolutions in her books. She publishes a variety of short series. I think that I have read all of the Hamish Macbeth Mystery series by M.C. Beaton, but this is a long series with many of the same people. While I have yet to write any science fiction or fantasy stories I really enjoy reading works by Issac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, and J.K. Rowling. There are many genres for me to try.

4) What music, places, people inspire you? I think that prompts are the start of my writing. Those may be the assigned prompt, such as contest, or they may situational prompts. I am amazed how many different stories can start with the same assigned prompt. Likewise, each of us may be involved in the same situation and draw completely different plot and characters from the experience. When I look at a situation I try to think what a standup comic could do with it to guide my initial evaluation of the situation and the opportunities for a story.

5) Have you submitted anything yet? I have submitted several poems and stories for publication, but this has not been done in an organized manner. I believe that I need to setup my submittal log and select a number of publication opportunities that I want to pursue. Then I need to review those publications to determine what has been published so that I can fit into their formats. While I have a record in technical publications, I need to learn the craft of creative writing to improve my chances for publication. I will just keep writing and submitting.

6) Are you part of a critique group or writers’ guild? I have enjoyed being involved in the Bayou Writers Group and wished that I could still attend all of the meetings and conferences. I have joined the League of Utah Writers and attend their conferences, but it will take much longer to get to know the members than it did at the BWG. I have enjoyed the networking and learning opportunities in the writers groups.

7) What is your writing process like? I mix free writing with creative non-fiction and poetry writing whenever I have a free moment. I found that using a small portable computer has been convenient for writing when traveling or waiting for a meeting. Sometimes it’s only random thoughts, or a list of writing prompts for later writing, but I try to have a purpose for my writing. I am thinking of entering more contests because of their tight requirements and short deadline. I see the need to select potential publications to give a greater focus to my writing.

8) If you could subscribe to only one literary journal or magazine? I am not sure if this is practical or possible, but I have really enjoyed the articles in The Writer Magazine for a starting writer. I assume that that choice may change as my writing gets better, but for now I have so much learn.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Silent Cry in the Night

by James R. Tate

It’s three thirty in the morning. The house is silent except for the hum of the refrigerator and a distant train horn blowing in the night. I find a piece of paper and a pen in a kitchen drawer, eager to get the words written before the memory fades. The hair on the nape of my neck is moist, as are my eyes, reddened by the reality of what I experienced in the dream. I can only hope this letter will help. My laptop sitting on the coffee table beckons to me, but I pull out a stool at the bar instead and take a seat. Something tells me a handwritten letter is better. I ignore the tremor in my hand and begin.

My dearest Michele,

I know it has been a while since I’ve written, or given you a pretty card, or had flowers delivered from the florist down the street. Apparently too long. You see, I had a dream tonight—a nightmare really—in which you confessed you were having an affair. Somehow I knew even before you told me because dreams are just that way; one minute you’re in the kitchen, the next you’re in some cornfield in Missouri looking for your pants. And others knew as well. Father was there, wherever ‘there’ was, and said some ugly things to you. I suppose he was just protecting his son. I remember telling him to shut the hell up. Which was very odd given the circumstances. You’re the one having the affair and I’m angry with my father. Of course, that’s another thing about dreams; you can hurt, and be angry, and feel real agony in your heart. I know. Last night I experienced it when I found out you were sleeping with . . . .

I pause for a moment to wipe a teardrop from the page, not wanting the words to smudge. As I wipe at the moisture, another one splashes lightly on my wrist, surprising me. It’s always been my position to be the strong one, to keep my emotions to myself, for the good of the whole. My wife does not need to concern herself with my problems, my fears, my . . . pain. I think back to the wetness on my cheeks when I awoke from the dream and the dampness on my pillow, but those were from the emotions of a dreaming man, when control is lost, like the trickle of warmth while dreaming about going to the bathroom. Those tears cannot be judged in the real world.

I try to push the tears away, but picturing you in the master bedroom, less than thirty feet from where I’m sitting now, lying on your side, lightly snoring like a puppy nuzzled against its mother’s warmth, I cannot control the emotions this dream has suddenly awakened. I push the paper out of range of the tears and continue writing.

I know the person you had the affair with. He’s a friend of mine. Typical of the world of dreams, he was there with us. There is no need to mention his name as this was only a dream. But my reaction to him seems noteworthy. I remember feeling a certain agitation towards him, but not anger, and certainly not hatred. Again, I found this very odd. Like maybe I was jealous. I’m not sure how long all of this took because time is a strange beast in the dream world, but I soon found myself sitting on the front porch of this imaginary house, face to face with you, my wife of twelve years, and I asked the one word any man in this situation would ask.Why?

The image of you staring at me through bloodshot eyes, tears streaming down your face, is an image I will never forget. As I watched your lips quiver with anguish, I felt so much pain inside—for YOU. What had I done to you? Had I become so self absorbed and oblivious to your dreams and desires that I had driven you away? I couldn’t remember the last time I had told you how beautiful you are, or how seeing your nakedness in the reflection of the moonlight from the bedroom window still makes me feel like a young man. Would I ever get the chance to tell you I love you again?

I woke up before you answered my question, feeling an emptiness and longing I had never experienced in my life. I was truly scared of living my life without you. I understand the tears now. They are not about the dream, but are for what might become. Like Scrooge seeing the future and then realizing he can still make things right, I want to describe my feelings for you, but that would be like describing God in the heavens; I don’t fully comprehend them, besides, there’s not enough paper in this house. So I’ll just leave you with this thought. When you walked down the aisle at our wedding, with your beautiful dress and even more beautiful smile, I felt a joy in my heart that can never be outdone, but it IS relived every day when I wake up next to you. It is an emotion I want to enjoy until the end of time, and I will LOVE YOU there and back. Sweet dreams, my love.


I return to bed and silently slide under the covers, careful not to wake Michelle, but as I turn on my side, I hear a soft voice. “You okay?” she mumbles.

Sliding my arm over her waist, I say, “I just needed a drink of water.” My thoughts go back to the dream and the letter on the bar. I slide a little closer to her, and hold her a little tighter. The tears come again, sliding down my cheek. I hear myself whisper in her ear, “I love you.”

James R. Tate is an award winning author of fiction, magazine and short story. His debut adult novel, BLOOD BIAS, will be released in March, 2012. You can find him at, or his blog , and also on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"1000 Words of Love" Winner!

Congratulations to James Tate for winning the "1000 Words of Love" contest. Watch for his story "A Silent Cry in the Night".

Monday, February 13, 2012

Author Interview: James R. Tate

by Sylvia Ney

James R. Tate is an award winning author of fiction, magazine and short story. His debut adult novel, BLOOD BIAS, will be released in March, 2012. You can find him at, or his blog, Tate’s Other Side at and also on Facebook and Twitter.

1) How did you develop an interest in writing? My wife grew tired of me telling her I could write a better book than the one I was currently reading. She enrolled me in a continuing education writing course at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. I spent six weeks writing beginner garbage and loving every minute of it.

2) Please tell me a little about your blog. I’ve really wanted to write a blog for a while, if for nothing else but to have an avenue to express random thoughts about my passion for writing. I know it’s ‘recommended’ to have a social presence—if not required—in today’s publishing world. The only problem is there’s still only twenty-four hours in the day. My blog is called Tate’s Other Side. It’s a scary place.

3) I see you are working on a MS. Please tell us a little about it. I am working on a new project but also have a completed murder mystery I wrote while I was teaching carpentry at a local prison. I’ve pitched it to agents, publishers, even had it looked at by a professional editor. An excerpt of the book won first place at the novel competition in Houma, LA in 2008. I received a lot of positive feedback but a lot of rejections. I’ve recently decided to self publish it and see where it goes while I work on my latest book. The book is called BLOOD BIAS and should be available in mid march of this year.

4) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing? I would love to have a picture window overlooking the Rockies to spend my day writing my latest novel. It would be paradise.

5) What authors do you admire? My favorite author is by far Stephen King. A lot of people don’t like his material, but he’s a brilliant writer. He could write a story about a potato chip and have me engrossed from page one. I also like Robert Crais. He writes a great crime novel. I try to read a lot of different authors to expand my interests. Any great writing fascinates me.

6) Are you part of a critique group or writer's guild? I’ve been a member of the Bayou Writers Group for several years but have trouble attending the meetings on a regular basis because of the distance. I miss it dearly. One of the greatest places for a writer to hang out is around other writers.

7) Have you ever attended a writer's conference? I’ve been to Houma several times and won several awards, and have been to the BWG conference the past two years—both were very fun and informative—but the best one was a Pitch and Shop Conference I attended in New York City a few years back. It was an absolute blast to meet agents and editors in a small setting, and to be in one of the greatest artistic cities in the world. There’s nothing like sitting in Bryant Park, surrounded by great architecture, working on a book pitch.

8) When working on your current MS did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing? Ask my wife, I don’t plan anything. It drives her nuts. I like to let a general idea circulate in the back corners of the mind for a while and then just start writing. When the idea fades, I take a break to expand the story in my brain, then go at it again. It’s more fun for me to do it this way. No notes, no outline, just pure chaos. Oh! And I edit as I go. I know! Seems like a contradiction to my unbridled wildness, but I can’t help it.

9) Strangest dream involving a book, writer, or literary character? I absolutely fell in love with the movie Midnight in Paris with Owen Wilson. He gets to hang out in Paris with his literary heroes. I guess it must have stuck on the brain, because I had a dream that I was hanging out with Stephen King. And he didn’t do or say anything weird, just seemed like a regular guy. But I sure was trying to impress him. That’s when you know you’re passionate about something; when it consumes your subconscious.

10) Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us? One of the toughest things I had to do was whittle my book down to a paragraph, but here goes:

"Small town Chief of Police Reese Glockman tries to stay out of the way of the FBI when a serial killer leaves his mark on his sleepy town, but when Glockman’s daughter is kidnapped by the killer, it becomes personal, and nothing will stand in his way, not even the killer’s mysterious accomplices."

Last Chance for 1000 Words of Love!

Today is the last day to submit your stories to the "1000 Words of Love Contest". Please click the link to learn more.

Sidenote: Don't forget to turn in your interview and a photograph by March 1 to be entered to win a prize. More details to come soon!

Happy writing!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Keaghan Kane Takes Second in State Shakespeare Contest

by Keaghan Kane

Not everyone who claims the title of “writer” is well-read. I’ve always been horrified by the number who declare their disdain for all things classical—Dickens and Shakespeare being the foremost on this lengthy list.

I have harbored a deep love for Shakespeare’s works for the past several years, ever since I first truly met the Bard through school-assigned reading of Much Ado About Nothing.

This year, I had the chance to participate—as I did last year—in a Shakespeare recitation competition, put on by ESU-US. Each competitor must memorize and dramatize 20 lines or less of a Shakespearian monologue, along with one of his sonnets.

I chose to perform Katherina’s monologue from the final scene of The Taming of the Shrew, followed by Sonnet 90. At the local competition—which was judged by three judges, including Ms. Sherry Perkins—I did my best to convey Katherina’s fiery character. Apparently, I did suitably well, for I gained first place and a chance to advance to the state level.

The state level competition was held at Tulane University in New Orleans. This time, I found myself performing in a real theatre, complete with stage and lights. The trick to the ESU-US competition is that you are not allowed any props or costuming—it is just you, on the stage, trying to convince the audience that you are a character and that there are others around you.

With a storming presence and loud voice (affected slightly by my dry throat and nerves,) I put on my performance of Katherina. I was one of 15 competitors at the state level, but when I seated myself after my presentation, I knew I had done my utmost.

I gained second place in the state for my performance. Pleased and content, I left the university with my family amidst the congratulations and compliments of my fellow competitors and the judges.

To my fellow writers, I say this: don’t be afraid to stretch your reading tastes. There are so many classical authors who were masters in their craft. Yes, Dickens might be a little long-winded, Hugo a bit philosophical, Shakespeare a bit complex in his humor. Yet a little effort to understand and appreciate their work will enhance your own craft so very much.

After all, every learner—every apprentice—must have a master, or they will never truly learn their craft.

To learn more about this competition:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Author Interview: Sherry Perkins

by Sylvia Ney

Sherry Perkins, BWG president, has published more than 75 articles, poems, and fiction pieces. She keeps a regular blog here.

1) How did you develop an interest in writing? As a teenager, going through the weird stuff we all go through, I found writing down my thoughts, feelings, insecurities, and other things helped. Coming from a big family, five children in all, there wasn’t much personal space. Writing helped me create my personal space. My friends at school encouraged me and liked my stuff (Naturally, what are friends for?). Once, a friend asked me to write her a book. I did it longhand in a five-subject notebook. She still has it. I’d love to read it because I don’t remember what I wrote.

2) What genres do you write? Diversity is my thing. As long as I’m creating something, I don’t have a preference. I’ve written articles, newsletters, poetry, fiction, and flash fiction. I’ve made brochures and flyers. I’ve completed a plantation photo book, a children’s book, and a biography on my great-grandpa, which aren’t published, yet. Although I’m proud of every piece I write, even the unpublished ones, the most challenging has been my four screenplays.

3) What authors do you admire? I admire different things from different authors. I admire the way Nicholas Sparks writes romance; the way Rick Bragg makes me feel - he took parts of my life and wrote about it; the way Sam Shepard uses small words and small sentences, then opens the sky with razor sharp description. The way James Lee Burke pulls me in from page one makes me admire his writing as well. The soft appeal and regret of Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” makes me dream of Heathcliff. Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee make my list too. Each wrote only one book and “Gone With the Wind” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” are considered literature, not just novels. Lastly, my favorite writer is Laura Ingalls Wilder.

4) What music, places, people inspire you? Inspiration is everywhere. The soul-wrenching fiddle sounds of Bluegrass music pulls me into a world of simplicity, longing, and respect. The edginess of hard rock makes me want to shout my stuff from the rooftops so everyone can hear. Seeing people on the sidewalk wave at passers-by stirs something else. A conversation with a co-worker has turned into a piece. Although inspiration comes from many places, it also seems to come out of nowhere.

5) Are you a part of a critique group or writers’ guild? Being a member of Bayou Writers’ Group has opened many doors for me, and given me more courage than I thought I had. Sharing my passion with others is fulfilling and encouraging. To be among talented writers and poets challenges my writing skills. Although we each have our own niches, we lift each other up. The support the group provides is genuine. We each want the other to succeed. It’s a wonderful thing to share that feeling.

6) What is your writing process like? Since I work full time, sadly my writing suffers. It fits between working, grocery shopping, dentist or eye doctor appointments, and the errands of life. I write every chance I get after supper and sometimes up to bed time. I’m an early riser, so I write about an hour each morning before I get ready for work. I’m always working on something; new stories, old stories, newsletter pieces, poetry, loglines and synopses for my scripts. In between all that, I’m transcribing my uncle’s novel which is written out on lots of legal tablets.

7) What are you reading now? Just started “All Over but the Shoutin’” by Rick Bragg. I cannot put this book down. Recently, I finished “Day Out of Days” by Sam Shepard and “Escape from Andersonville” by Gene Hackman and Daniel Lenihan.

8) Favorite book from childhood? As a kid, hands down it was “Where the Wild Things Are.” Because it is my favorite childhood book, I have no desire to see the movie. As a teenager, my favorite was “The Outsiders” by Susan Hinton. She wrote that when she was 17 years old. No wonder it resonates with young people.

9) Have you ever attended a writing conference? I’ve attended the last two which were hosted by Bayou Writers’ Group in Lake Charles. They are such fantastic events to not only hear excellent and important information, but to network, meet people, and pitch your stories. I encourage all writers to attend a conference. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn. If you’re serious about writing, a conference is a must just like your dictionary and thesaurus.

10) Have you submitted anything yet? What started out as getting published in my local newspaper has grown into being published over eighty times. I’m fortunate that my articles and photography appear in magazines, newsletters, blogs, in two E-book anthologies, on a producer’s website, in the Reminiscent Writings at the Calcasieu Parish Historical & Genealogical Library, and in brochures. I’ve comprised three marketing flyers and wrote two book reviews on I’ve even pitched my screenplays to producers. Although I’ve received excellent feedback, none have sold – yet! Although my list of published pieces is long, my list of unpublished pieces is longer.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Author Interview: Beth Savoie

by Sylvia Ney

Beth Savoie is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Lake Charles, LA. She is the author of many short stories, poems, and partial novels. To date she hasn’t had anything officially published but her work is out there for consideration. She recently started her own blog spot, Creating Wordlenik at and is an active member of the Bayou Writer’s Group in Lake Charles. In order to fit in all her reading and writing as well as work at the Children’s Clinic she has established a “sleep and housework optional” policy at her house.

1) What styles do your write? I like stories that take normal events and pair them with unusual characters. Right now I’m working on a short story about a day at the Acadiana Zoo told through the eyes of a squirrel. It came from a writing assignment. We were supposed to write a character observing or being observed. I thought about places you can watch others and the zoo story is what came out. As far as genre and style, I’m not really locked into one since I’m still in my backpacking through Europe stage as a writer.

2) Best thing you’ve read online recently? Living the Creative Writing Lifestyle by Melissa Donovan. It’s at her website For me it was what I needed to think about why I’m writing. The website is one worth checking out.

3) Speaking of online, tell me about your own online endeavors. My blog’s name isCreating Wordlenik. What is wordlenik you ask? I have no idea. I’m still in the process of creating it. The journey of wordlenik can be found at I do have a Facebook page, but honestly, the only place I post to is Graeme McDowell’s fan page. I suppose I should do better with this if I want to promote myself to more than golf groupies.

4) If you could be one author for a day who would it be? No doubt - Neil Gaiman. I could say I created the Lord of Dreams. I want to live in his world and live life the way he imagines it. How cool would that be? But I like being a girl too much to be Neil Gaiman forever.

5) So Neil Gaiman is an author you admire? Of course. He and Michael Crichton are right up there next to the angels. But the authors I really admire are those who write even when nobody’s looking. Those who don’t give up even when it seems there’s not a market. I admire authors who don’t forget what it’s like to struggle with the words and phrases and are willing to share their victories and defeats. I think most of all I admire those authors who have the guts to look the naysayers in the eye and say, “Yeah, I’m a writer.”

6) What food inspires you in your writing? Chicken Nuggets. Think about it. Don’t you wish you were the guy who invented chicken nuggets? You’d be the hero of children everywhere. I want to tell the story that’s chicken nuggets. And coffee. But I don’t know if coffee counts because it’s a staple in a writer’s toolbox, right? Is coffee even a food?

7) Strangest dream involving an author, book, or literary character? One night Michael Crichton, Shirley Manson (lead singer for Garbage), Philip Landry (a friend), and I went to Ozzfest in a blue Mercedes Cabriolet. The strange part? We didn’t even talk about books or writing. We just enjoyed driving along with the top down listening to the music. I woke up before we actually made it to Ozzfest.

8) Have you ever planted a book on your coffee table to impress someone? I’d have to do a lot of cleaning to be able to plant a book on my coffee table.

9) What are you reading now? The Retribution by Val McDermid, Star Wars Republic Commando, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, The Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes, and The Slaves Who Defeated Napoleon.

10) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career in writing? If a career is what you do to pay the bills I guess I have to see how it goes for writing. I used to say writing was my hobby and being a nurse practitioner was my job. But my muse will not be denied. So now I feel as if I have two jobs. I love them equally. I plan to always write even if all it gets me is a paper cut from opening the rejection letter. There are jobs and there are careers. And then there are those things you do because you can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m fortunate to have two things like that: writing and healing. How many people can say that?

Friday, February 3, 2012

1000 Words of Love Contest

They say love is priceless. Here is your chance to prove (or disprove) it in 1,000 words or less. We cannot offer payment at this time, but the winning story (in 1,000 words or less and with a theme of love) will be printed in a future post on this blog.

This makes a great writing exercise and provides another listing on your resume'.

Submission Guidelines:

1.) Must have paid your 2012 BWG membership dues.

2.) We are open to most genres as long as the main focus of the story is based on love. You may submit fiction or nonfiction. Ex. Love of family, love of reading, romance, unrequited love, Why I hate Valentines etc.

3.) Please, NO erotica, graphic language or scenes; No gratuitous sex scenes or shock-effect vulgarity. Nothing "X" rated. Any stories with these qualities will be disqualified. We reserve the right to edit (with your final approval) before posting the winning story.

4.) Send as a Word Document or RTF attachment – if neither of these is possible, you may submit in the body of the email.

5.) This must be an original story and previously unpublished. You will retain the rights to your story.

6.) Must be 1,000 words or less.

7.) Send submission to with the subject line “1000 Words of Love Contest".

8.) Include your title and byline/writing as name below title.

9.) Include a short (2-4 sentences) biography, written in the third person, following your story. This will run with your story (if selected for publication). You may include your personal web or blog address if you wish.

10.) Please send only ONE submission. Subsequent submissions will be discarded. Be sure you are finished with your story before you submit it.

11.) We will send a short reply to let you know we have successfully received your story. If you don't receive a reply within 24 hours of submitting, please try again.

12.) We will NOT offer individual feedback or critiques on your submissions at this time.

The contest runs from today until February 13, 2012. We will accept any entries that are dated February 13. We will announce the winner by February 15, and publish the winning piece as soon as the author is happy with any necessary edits. If you have any questions, please leave them in a comment below or send them to the email address above.

Good luck and Happy Writing!

Sidenote: For a second chance to win, you may submit the same story to the contest:

Sidenote 2: If you answer and return your interview questions with a photograph by March 1, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win: prize(s) to be announced.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Author Interview: Jess Ferguson

by Sylvia Ney

Jessica (Jess) Ferguson is co-owner/co-editor of Swamp Lily Review, A Journal of Louisiana Literature & Arts and writes for Southern Writers Magazine. She is the author of The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes, writing as Jessica Travis. She is the founder of the East Texas Writers Association in her hometown of Longview, Texas, and a past president of Bayou Writers’ Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Jess has been published in a variety of newspapers and magazines.

1) Please tell me a little about your blog. I started blogging secretly in January 2007 when my husband was in Scotland for a year. I used blogging as a journal, to help me write and to help me fast. In March, I mentioned a couple of my favorite blog sites and was stunned when three comments showed up on my blog from the authors of those sites. Obviously, they had set Google alerts for their names. That was my first lesson in staying nice and complimentary when blogging. I'm always surprised at some of the things I read on blogs. The writing and publishing world is small. We should always be careful what we write on Facebook, Twitter and our blogs. I named my blog Praise, Prayers and Observations because I believe it covers all I want to do and say: praise other writers, pray for other writers and observe the writing and publishing life around me.

2) What authors do you admire? Actually, I admire any writer who finishes a book again, again and again. And by that I mean one who finishes a book and actually rewrites and revises it. Elizabeth Berg and Stephen King are favorite authors because of their quirky, beautiful, wonderful insight into the human condition, but I have four very favorite books: Banner with a Strange Device (594 pages) and Sea Coast of Bohemia (665 pages) by Arona McHugh, Celebrity (561 pages) by Tommy Thompson, and Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn (756 pages). I give the number of pages because I also greatly admire anyone who can write a book that has more than 60,000 words.

3) What music, places, people inspire you? Boston inspires me. The books by Arona McHugh are set there so it's easy for me to visualize myself walking across Harvard Yard with her characters, soaking up the university atmosphere. We spent time in Boston one summer; I looked for McHugh and her characters on every street corner and in every bookstore. Unfortunately, she's passed away now so I'll never have the opportunity to meet or email her. As for music ... guffaw if you like, but country music inspires me because it tells a story and sometimes while driving, I find myself plotting stories from the songs I'm listening to. People? My husband and daughter. They're always my inspiration. I get ideas from them. They encourage me. They make me laugh and think.

4) What do you do when you have writer's block? Soak it up and let it destroy me. Look for the reason behind it. Usually, writer's block is caused from a lack of interest in what I'm working on, or being horribly wounded by someone.

5) When working on your current MS did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing?
I usually write the first two or three chapters before I start outlining. I don't know that I'm very successful in doing it that way. I made several attempts at writing my Silhouette Romance before I sat down and outlined it. First it was a mystery and after outlining, it became a romantic comedy and sold. This was over the course of several years. There's a lot to be said for careful planning.

6) What is your writing process like? I'm not as structured as I used to be. When I wrote The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes, I got up at 5:00 a.m. every morning with my hard-working husband and wrote until time to get my daughter ready for school. These days, with kids grown, I've lost my focus. I can sit down and write any time of the day if I know where I'm going with the story. The most I've written in one day is 20 pages. I'd love to be able to turn out 20 pages a day every day, but that takes a lot out of a writer. The last two novels I wrote and completed were SOTP (seat of the pants) novels that had a tremendous amount of revision because I did no planning.

7) Do you have an editor or agent? I've had several agents over the years. I've been extremely disappointed in all of them--for a number of reasons. Writing and publishing is a rough business. Fair, unfair, screwy, exciting, fun, confusing ... and it can wring you inside out several times a week. An agent may or may not make a difference in your writing career. The thing to remember is they're just people doing a job. They don't know everything. Don't be intimidated by them. Don't hesitate to ask for copies of your rejections. Don't be scared to ask them questions and get the answers you want.

Since I'm a staff writer for Southern Writers Magazine, I have a magazine editor who gives me assignments and wonderful encouragement.

8) Book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone? I have two books on my coffee table right now: Marilyn, August 1953 - the lost LOOK photos by John Vachon and fragments - poems, intimate notes, letters by Marilyn Monroe. Impressed?
Okay, I also have the 2012 copy of Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market.