Friday, August 31, 2012

September 1, 2012 Meeting

The September 1, 2012 BWG meeting is STILL ON. We will continue with our planned meeting time and location. Our prayers are with all those displaced by the hurricane. Take care and we look forward to hearing from you all!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Don't Forget!

Gator Bites must be emailed by Friday or turned in at the meeting on Saturday. For more information, please review:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Author Interview: Mike McHugh

by Sylvia Ney

1) How did you develop an interest in writing? I’m not interested in writing. I just do it in the hopes that someday I’ll run into somebody in a bar who likes my stuff and offers to buy me beer on his tab. No, seriously, a few years ago some good friends of mine launchedThe Jambalaya News here in town. I pitched the idea about a doing column about life in Louisiana from a Yankee’s perspective, and the rest was history. Little did my friend know at the time the monster she was about to create. Nor did I, for that matter.

2) Please tell us a little about your blog. It’s called I started it just this past spring after attending the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference. While there, I made it a point to ask every speaker for advice on how to succeed as a writer. After the sixth one in a row asked me, “Do you have a website?” I got the message. I can take a hint if it is presented in the form of a sledgehammer.

3) What other styles do you write? I write humor, plain and simple. Nonfiction. Why struggle to create fictional characters when I know so many outlandish ones for real? Besides, I seem to take well to the newspaper column format, short reflections on my own experience of life. It also helps to be married to someone who’s Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett rolled up in one. I’m never at a loss for material.

4) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing? Shhhh….my boss might see this.

5) What authors do you admire? Dave Barry, hands down. I worship the keyboard he types on. I’m planning to attend a conference next year where he will be speaking, and I plan to do some big time sucking up.

6) What do you do when you have writer's block? I type out something that has to do with road kill. I don’t care what anybody says; road kill is always funny.

7) Where do you live? I’ve lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana for the past nine years, but I’m originally from Baltimore, Maryland. The folks here call me a Yankee, but my friends and family back home call me a Coon Ass. I am truly a Man Without A Subculture.

8) Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us? Being a columnist, I firmly believe that you’ve got to hook the reader in the first paragraph, if not sooner, to have any hope of him staying with you. This is because many readers tend to have the attention span of a decapitated chicken. That’s why I like to put a lot of thought into coming up with attention-getting titles for my articles. A recent example was an article I wrote about the horrendous traffic in Yankee Land. After playing around with several ideas, I finally came up with, “Make Me Groan, Yankee Roads.”

9) What are you reading now? This questionnaire. Duh.

10) Classic you’ve been meaning to read? My editor was an English major and she told me once about how she had read William Faulkner as part of her studies. I, on the other hand,struggled to get C’s in English and considered myself lucky to have not been assigned to read any of his works. The Faulkner thing has become somewhat of a joke between us, and now she’s got me curious. Besides, now I won’t have to write a term paper about him.

11) Favorite book from childhood? Jokes and Riddles. My grandmother gave it to me for my First Communion, and I still have it. There was one particular joke in it that I must have told a thousand times before I reached the fifth grade: “What did the bald man say when he got a comb for his birthday?” I’ll leave it to you to figure out the punch line.

12) Book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone? Weird Louisiana. And I kept the Sam’s Club price tag on it to even further impress people.

13) Best thing you’ve read online recently? It’s a tie. Someone I met at the Bombeck conference, a guy named Joe Donatelli, wrote a really nice primer on how to use Twitter and managed to work some real good humor into it. Speaking of which, it was a tweet that led me to the other gem—a blog called Dumb Ass Questions. It had some stuff on it by Raymond the Amish Comic, a defected Amish guy who does stand-up and whom I’d once seen up in Yankee land. The guy’s a real hoot.

14) Most anticipated upcoming release? A gal that I met at the Bombeck conference has a book coming out soon. Her name is Michelle Wojokow… uh, she just goes by Wojo for short, thank the Lord. She’s from my hometown of Baltimore and it turns out we have a close mutual friend. So I’m looking forward to reading her upcoming book.

To learn more about Mike, please visit his site "The Dang Yankee" at

Friday, August 24, 2012

What is a Story?

by Stanley Klemetson

A writer’s workshop can open up new ways to think about how you write and how you live your own life. At the Utah Valley Writer’s Workshop E.J. Patten (The Hunter Chronicles) taught us that a story is a series of questions that we may ask about our characters. The four questions are: 1) Who are they?; 2) What do they want?; 3) How are they going to get it; and 4) What is stopping them from getting what they want?

A personal analysis might go as follows: 1) I am a writer who wants to be published. 2) I want to be published. 3) I will do this by learning the craft and writing on a regular basis. 4) Other commitments will consume my time and prevent me from achieving this goal, but often those commitments are activities I chose over writing. If I want to achieve my goal I need to determine how I will spend my time. In our writing our characters will face similar conflicts so we need to answer those questions for them before we begin to write.

In a character-driven plot there may be many different roles, such as protagonist, antagonist, fear provider, tempter, comic relief, romantic interest, information giver and more. If I write an outline of the story I may have a good start and good end, but a horrible middle because there are no subplots. The relationships between the characters can provide those subplots needed to flesh out a story and keep it interesting.

Lisa Mangum (Hourglass Door Trilogy) used an exercise with Mr. Potato Head to create all of the characters. Each participant was given a brief description of a character and they selected Mr. Potato Head features to reflect that characteristics of that character. As a caricature the important feature stood out. You can start to visualize what the eyes might see, what the ears might hear, and etc.

Karen E. Hoover (The Wolfchild Saga) provided a different approach to character development. She keeps a photo album of people faces. A simple place to get some of these is modeling sites. She even gives them names, but not their real names. Then she prepares a Character Sheet for each one with the personal information plus abilities, physical anomalies, clothing, habits, quirks, and personality. She will not use all of this information in her story, but provides a solid base for character actions. Then when they are faced with a conflict we know how they are motivated and what their goals might be.

Tristi Pinkston (numerous books on Amazon) talked about the expectations of our audience. Each genre has specific requirements as to the characters, settings, and conflicts. The characters we have in our stable may not be suitable for all types of stories, but the four questions are relevant to all characters, and to ourselves.

You can learn more about Stanley Klemetson here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Author Interview: Lori Leger

by Sylvia Ney

Lori Leger, born in the tiny town of Gueydan, Louisiana, is the sixth of eight children. Her mother, a retired teacher's aide, still resides there. She knew she had a knack for writing her senior year of high school when she breezed through Miss Lucille Saltzman’s Advanced Composition class. However, she didn't write her first book until she was forty-nine. By then, she was well into the fourteenth year of her career as a road design drafter with the state, and thirteen years into her second marriage. Her husband Michael and she have five wonderful children between the two of them, all grown. Though they love having the house to ourselves, they also adore getting frequent visits from their children and ten grandchildren. To learn more, please visit her website: 
1) Please tell us about your current MS. - It's called Green Eyed Lady and it's a Mainstream Fictional novel with elements of romance and suspense. It was supposed to be Book 5 of my La Fleur de Love series, but I’ve recently decided to start a new spin-off series, so this will be Book 1 of…whatever I decide to call it…I’m open to suggestions on names. I’ve been struggling to finish and get it published by the beginning of September. The main female protagonist is Angelique Baptiste, an interesting young woman of Cajun and Creole bloodlines, who was introduced in Brown Eyed Girl as the jealous ex-girlfriend of Red McAllister. I’d written her as so unlikeable that I thought it was my duty to give her a book of her own and show her good qualities. After all, she wasn’t a bad person, just a little determined to use any means necessary to get her man. In this story, she’s caught between two leading men, Detective Mike Harper, also introduced in Brown Eyed Girl, and Liam Nash, a bodyguard you meet in Heaven in Your Eyes. Both men are struggling to win her over, no easy feat, since Angelique is determined to remain celibate for a year as per her therapist’s instructions to stop using sex as a factor in relationships. It forces all of them to raise their moral standards at least a notch or two.This novel includes a heartbreaking subplot involving a young mother of twin baby girls whose efforts to escape her abusive husband are hindered by an unfortunate car accident. It’s mildly sensual without being explicit, tackles serious matters of domestic abuse and personal loss, while adding enough humor and snappy dialogue to keep it from being too dark.

2) Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing? After nearly five years of what my husband called ‘an increasingly expensive hobby’ (due to the cost of laptops, online classes, contest fees and conferences) and after starting to receive a better quality of encouraging rejection letters, I took the self-publishing plunge in August of 2011. I’d published two full length novels by December of that year in both e-book and paperback format, and a short story in e-book only. I found that the publishing and self-promoting end of the business was time consuming enough to force me to make a choice. By the middle of February, my sales were good enough to consider leaving my job of 18 years to write full time. Though I’m not rolling in money, I’m making enough to pay my bills while I pay my dues as a writer…and every day is Saturday!

3) What music, places, people inspire you? I love country music, so much so that I used the title of a James Otto song, Last First Kiss, as an inspiration for my second book. It’s all about finding that new relationship, hopefully the last relationship you’ll ever have. You can only have one first kiss with a person, and if you’re lucky, it will be the last first kiss you’ll ever have. Three years ago, I had the opportunity to meet James Otto in person after a concert, and he signed my unpublished manuscript for me. He said his wife loved to read romance novels and I should send him one when I got it published. So…I did. I contacted his PR person and told her about it. I sent the autographed books to James and Amy, his wife, whom I discovered co-wrote the song with him, and they were so thrilled, they did a web story on it. It was featured on (read it here) and also on James Otto’s web page. My husband and I got to see him a couple more times this past June for CMA music fest in Nashville.

I also love Cajun music—my brother, Mark Hebert, is a renowned Cajun fiddler. I love the history of the Acadian people—Belizaire, The Cajun is based off of my great grandfather (maybe one more great in there?) One day, I’d love to write stories set in that time period…tackling the hardships women faced after they were forced out of Acadia (Nova Scotia) on ships, separated from their menfolk. It was a tragedy most Americans know little about and I’d love to bring those stories to life as a series of books.

4) What do you do when you have writer's block? I never have writer’s block…what I have is A.D.D. when it comes to writing and internet usage. I’ll connect to the internet for the purpose of researching the healing period of a stress fracture, and the next thing I know, two hours have passed and I’ve updated my website, ordered books, downloaded music or pictures, checked my email, my Facebook, left a review on Goodreads, and tweeted half a dozen people….but I still know nothing about the healing time of a stress fracture. I really am like the dog in the movie UP…squirrel…and I’m off in two different directions. I’d say there’s hope that I’ll grow out of it, but I’ll be fifty-four in October, and I think it’s more likely I’ll die this way.

5) How long did it take you to write your current MS? I started this one two years ago, I think. I worked on it for a couple of months, then took an online writing workshop and realized I needed to rewrite my previously written books…ALL of them. So I stopped in my tracks and started from Book 1 of the series. As I rewrote it, edited, re-edited, and edited again, I self-published it, and started on the next. I’ve been on this one about a month and have another three weeks of work, at least. So, all in all, four months, give or take a week or two. I’m kind of anxious to see if it’ll take less time the next time around…since I’ll be starting fresh and not having to re-write.

6) Have you ever attended a writer's conference? A few and I LOVE them! I wish I could afford to attend all of them. My first was a big one…RWA (Romance Writers of America) National conference in Orlando. I’ve attended the Jubilee Jambalaya conference in Houma two years in a row, and will be attending the Moonlight & Magnolia conference in Atlanta, Georgia in October. I was supposed to be attending the Killer Nashville conference this year, but had to cancel, due to the time conflict with my book release the beginning of September. But, my registration is paid for next year already and I plan on attending then. RWA National will be in Atlanta next year, and in San Antonio the year after. Those also may be doable.

7) When working on your current MS did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing? I never use an outline or a storyboard or anything like that. I have a calendar nearby so I can keep track of days during the story. Before I start, I have a basic idea in my head of what I want the characters to achieve throughout a period of time and then I just write. I’m not a plotter…I’m definitely a pantser!

8) What is your writing process like? I don’t have a set schedule. When I was working, I’d get up early and try to get writing in before I left, which didn’t work out too well for me. More often than not, that made me late for work since I hated to stop what I was doing to get ready. Now that I can sleep as late as I want to, I stay up late and sleep late. I hardly ever get to bed before 2 a.m., and when I do, I generally toss and turn for an hour, anyway. Between my husband and I, we have five children and ten grandchildren. They all live nearby, so I get plenty of interruptions…and I don’t mind one bit.

9) Do you have an editor or agent? Neither. I go over my completed manuscript at least three times, and then I send it to a friend of mine, an ex-co-worker who’s wonderful at catching typos. My previous career of drafting road design plans with the state of Louisiana has taught me quite a lot about editing my own work. But it’s mostly taught me that fresh eyes are better.

10) Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us?

He removed his black Stetson, and pulled his faded jeans at the knees to kneel in front of the single, granite headstone. Passing a hand over the two names etched into the slab, his green eyes scanned the inscription beneath Kimberly’s name.  My Wife, My Loves, My Life

Her author pages may be viewed at Amazon and Barnes&Noble. You may visit her blog  find her on twitter @lleger641 and facebook or her fan page . You can connect: and

Her La Fleur de Love series consists of: Book 1: Some Day Somebody, Book 2: Last First Kiss (Consistently on Amazon Ranked Best Seller list since February of 2012), Book 2.5: Hart’s Desire (Previously e-book novella only, recently printed in paperback), Book 3: Brown Eyed Girl and Book 4: Heaven in Your Eyes.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Self Publishing Tutorial

by Jan Rider Newman

I've never liked the word can’t. I prefer try. So I tried to publish on Amazon Kindle and found another word: succeed. I succeeded in publishing my short story collection. If you define success by number of sales, well, that remains to be seen. (See more about her publication here.)

How did I do it? How can you do it too? Start with the following:

Decide to publish.
Decide what to publish.
Proofread your manuscript.
Proof it again.

Research how to format your material, i.e., read the steps necessary to get your manuscript ready. See the end of the post for recommended reading.

Join Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace. You don't have to publish anything just by signing up, and there are a lot of articles under the "Help" sections once you join. If you decide to give it a shot, read the terms of use and make sure you understand them. Don’t agree to anything you don’t like or understand. If you want to publish on Kindle and CreateSpace, you do have to agree to the terms; if you don’t agree, move on or drop the whole idea. For what it's worth, I agreed.

Pick up a hard copy book that's been published by a print publisher. Look at the title page, copyright page, epigraph (if there is one), dedication page, and table of contents (if there is one). They're called front matter. You need these pages in your book in order to make it look professional.

Consider what font/fonts you want to use. I used Verdana 12-point for the body of the book because it’s clear and easy to read, something important to me and, I thought, my readers. I used something else for the title page itself, to make the print bigger, bolder, and attractive. There are a lot of choices. Experiment with different fonts until you're happy.

Select a cover for your book. Do you want a photo or some other kind of cover? Walk into a bookstore and look at covers, especially those on books of your genre to get ideas of what's possible and what looks good.

VERY IMPORTANT: If you plan to use a photo or work of art or graphic image for your cover, use something you own all the rights to—your own photo, drawing, painting, etc. Never just go to a website, find something you like, and decide to use it. Doing so leads to big, big copyright legal trouble.

If you don't own the right image for your cover, go to websites where you can download images that are in the public domain. Public domain is good. You can use those. See Recommended Reading.

You can also find things that aren't public domain, but that can be used by listing the owner of the photo and maybe linking to his/her website. Some photos can be purchased for a reasonable price. But make sure you understand what you have to do to use any photo on the cover of your published book, and then do it to the letter. Ask someone else to read the terms if you have any doubts. Don't use anything unless you understand how and whether you are allowed to do so.

There's more to it all than I wrote above, but you can find a lot of information yourself. And you should. If you're really interested in self-publishing—well, it's a do-it-yourself thing, after all. Search online at Google or Yahoo or, etc. Research, look, think, understand the rules. It's a little like Asian cooking: there are a lot of preparatory steps, but they're not hard.

Have fun, and let us know how your venture into self-publication turns out for you. Good luck!

Recommended Reading:

Formatting the Manuscript

"Building Your Book for Kindle," (if you work on a PC) Kindle Publishing Direct, Amazon Kindle store, $0

* "Building Your Book for Kindle for Mac," Kindle Publishing Direct, Amazon Kindle store, $0*

NOTE: The two ebooks above say you need to save your file in HTML format, but the KDP site says .doc and some other formats are okay too. I uploaded mine in .doc.

"eBook Formatting & Publishing Guide for the Broke and Stressed," Kindle Edition, Michael Lamendola, $2.99

"Simplified Formatting Guide," an online article which you'll find under "Help" once you've signed on to Kindle Direct Publishing at


"How Self-Published Authors Get Their Covers Right," Andrew Pantoja, Publishing Perspectives,


"Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued for Using Pics on Your Blog," Roni Loren,

Public domain images:

"Where Can I Find Free Public Domain Images and Pictures?"

* If you succeed in making a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word for Mac with headers, hyperlinks, and/or bookmarks, please tell me how you did it. I had to go back to my old PC laptop. Otherwise, all the other instructions in this booklet were great. NOTE TO DAVID BROWN: I know we aren't supposed to criticize the Mac. It isn't a Mac problem; it's a Microsoft Word for Mac problem.