Friday, April 27, 2012

Turtle Summer

By: Mary Alice Monroe
Every morning I gaze out at the sea with anticipation. My back pack is filled with supplies, my probe stick stands at the ready, and my team T-shirts and cap lay patiently in my dresser drawer. My annual season of being a “turtle lady” lays just on the horizon.

Loggerhead laying eggs
Every spring the sea turtles begin their long journey home for a new nesting season along the southeastern U.S. coast. The stretch of South Carolina shoreline that I am blessed to call home will soon welcome home caretta caretta, the loggerhead, who will venture onto the beach to give birth. And her arrival will mark the beginning of another turtle summer for me.

Available May 8th
My fellow turtle team friends and I like to bet when we’ll get our first turtle nest on Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island. The year I discovered our first nest of the season happened to be on May 25-- my birthday! I’ve been a member of this wonderful turtle team since 1999. My experiences inspired my first southern novel, The Beach House, in 2002, followed by the sequel, Swimming Lessons. And now, ten years later, Beach House Memories, the prequel of the series, is ready to make its debut on May 8th. This serendipitous timing of a new hardcover release with the start of a new sea turtle nesting season and the tenth anniversary of my first bestseller---makes this an extra special turtle summer for me.

A rescued hatchling in hand

It is an honor to share with readers the inspiration I’ve felt from being a “turtle lady” all these years and the life lessons the sea turtles have taught me. I hope through the pages of Beach House Memories, others will feel inspired by the turtle team characters of my story world and the real life details of the magnificent loggerhead that I am so fortunate to write about and share with the world this turtle summer.

What is one thing you're looking forward to that will make this summer season special for you?

Mary Alice Monroe is an award-winning, bestselling author of 13 novels and is an active conservationist. She lives near Charleston, SC. Her newest novel, BEACH HOUSE MEMORIES is available May 8th. Visit her at

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Angry Bird Brain

Angry Birds by
Rovio Entertainment Ltd
I'm not sure what it is about my brain that makes me need to finish things. Not important things that keep the household running smoothly like doing the laundry or dishes, but more trivial things like a finishing a morning run without stopping, or completing a crossword puzzle, or killing just a few more pigs with Angry Birds.

Whatever this component is in my brain, I believe it is in high gear when I am writing a novel. Right now, I have novel characters that have become so real in my head, that I think about them when I'm not "with them" at my computer. I wonder what they're going to do next, and ruminate on what they've already done. They become as real as the young people I'm watching on American Idol week after week. I remarked to my husband the other night that I've watched these singers so long now I feel as if I know them somehow.

We went to the mountains last week for spring break. I wanted to write on the trip up, but the kids were in the car, so I opted to play games on my new gadget. I read first using my Bible app and made some very cool Biblical discoveries, then completed a whole crossword puzzle, a game of Sudoku, and several rounds of Angry Birds. When I got stuck on a level, I'd play over and over and over, determined to destroy their houses and kill those little pigs. "These are some smart pigs!" my family got used to me exclaiming. Finally, I had to flip that switch and let go of the pigs and the angry birds for a while. It took a minute or two for my heart to settle down and my temperature to cool.

The same thing happens when I'm trying to write a new chapter and crack its code. Sometimes I have to try over and over with different tactics until the chapter works. When it does, it's a feeling of immense satisfaction. It's clear to me, that writing a novel definitely uses that same Angry Bird component--the compulsive, have-to-keep-going-until-I-complete-this-thing part of my brain--and I'm grateful for it. I think it's a blessing.

So how about you? Do you have a teenager in your family who just can't stop playing video games or practicing basketball or doodling...or...fill in the blank? It might be a blessing in disguise. I have learned that God has wired me this way. I love to be fully engaged mentally. Now, I can either use this part of my brain for mind-numbing entertainment that gets me nowhere and helps no one, or I can use it for something worthwhile. My God-given stick-to-it-ness allows me to spend weeks training for a half-marathon or months in a fictitious world writing a novel. At Christmas-time I can complete massive puzzles of cats with a multitude of minuscule pieces...but I doubt that's ever helped anyone.

At any rate, I like this part of my brain. There is something there that produces euphoria, and although there is nothing scientific about this post, I'm guessing many of you understand and can relate to what I'm saying. It feels good to complete something, to work out long, complicated puzzles in novels, to solve the mysteries, to finally reach redemption for the characters who become larger than life. Before God flipped my switch and gave me my first novel, I wonder what I did with that part of my brain. Nothing quite as productive, I assure you. I think I watched a little too much t.v.

I wonder how you're wired. Have you learned to embrace that quirky thing about you and set it free? I bet if used properly, you could make a difference in the world somehow because God wired you that way. As surely as I write this, God is waiting to take your oddities and use them for his glory in a way that only he can do--only through you. All you have to do is ask him to flip your switch.

Nicole Seitz is the author of six novels, the mother of two adorable kids, and the teacher of about 165 art students. She lives with her family in the Charleston, SC area where she is currently working on her next book. Find her and her work at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sweet Music Man by Niles Reddick

My father-in-law died after a short battle with cancer last month. Not only was he a great dad to my wife and her siblings, he was a great father-in-law and a great grandfather. He was truly a good man, even a great husband, four different times! He was a reader, appreciated a good book, and was a great storyteller. Things he did or said appear in both my books and I think he enjoyed the attention. Nonetheless, our own lives are now a bit more lonely, and naturally, I've become overly analytical about my own life and direction now. I find solace in music and I always have. Maybe it's because my mother loved records and played them when we were children---great music like Joe South, The Supremes, Kris Kristofferson, Tom. T. Hall, you name it. I learned to dance as a child in the 1960's, to do the twist, listening to 45's of Chubby Checker and Larry Williams' Short Fat Fannie and Boney Maronie.  Maybe I love music because I learned to play the piano and memorized many hymns in the Baptist Hymnal---Love Lifted Me, I'll Fly Away, Life's Railway to Heaven, Farther Along, When We All Get to Heaven, I Am Resolved, and so on. Maybe it's because I feel the poetry in lyrics and can relate to them, and it may be because I love to hear beautiful voices sing---Dolly Parton, Stevie Wonder, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Pink Floyd, CCR, The Indigo Girls, Joan Baez, The Beatles, Emmylou Harris, The Bee Gees, and who could forget Judy Collins and her Amazing Grace. My list of those singers I love could go on some time, longer than anyone would want to read. And what an honor to me when a singer gets one of my books---Tom T. Hall, Trisha Yearwood, Dolly Parton---and sends back compliments. It's like eating the best piece of cake you've ever had. For me, by the way, that would be Debbie Zimmerman's pound cake, a wonderful lady in Winchester, Tennessee, and she is a great singer, too.

Now, though, I think I love music and include it in writing because I really wanted to be a singer. I'm not too bad, either. I can harmonize well with Simon and Garfunkel and others in the car. I like to practice in church every once in a while and wonder what the people think when I belt it out. Of course, they shouldn't turn around and shhh me, since that wouldn't be good Christian behavior or Southern etiquette.  I want to be able to sing like those I admire, like my late father-in-law who had a beautiful voice and would on occasion spontaneously break into a hymn or a Hank Williams song. Recently, I had a story accepted titled "Drifting too Far from the Shore." It will appear in the Deep South Magazine in Louisiana soon, and the title came from a song written by the Georgia Yellow Hammers early in the 20th century. It was an old gospel song that Hank Williams recorded and was later sung by Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner. I find inspiration in music and want to honor it and the people who sing it in my own writing. I encourage others to listen more closely to the songs---quit singing the wrong lyrics to the radio in the car and in the shower, look up the real lyrics, the stories behind them. For me, music gets me through life, gives me comfort, and gets me through long and sad days. We all have a song and we need to sing it while we can. It's life. My father-in-law taught me that, that sweet music man.
Bio: Hailed by Mid West Review as both an “intriguing and entertaining” novel, Lead Me Home is Niles Reddick’s first. He was a finalist for a ForeWord award in fiction and for the Georgia Author of the Year award for first novel. Niles is also author of a collection titled Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, which was a finalist for an EPPIE award. Reddick has published in journals such as “The Arkansas Review:  a Journal of Delta Studies,” “The Paumanok Review,” “Southern Reader,” among others. His work has also been anthologized in Unusual Circumstances and Southern Voices in Every Direction.  He is a former editor of the “The Distillery” and a regular contributor to the Southern Literary Review and "A Good Blog is Hard to Find." Currently, Reddick teaches and works in administration at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rebirth: Books and Gardens by Peggy Webb

Every spring I’m thrilled to see plants that have lain dormant during the winter burst into leaf and bloom.  Bulbs I had forgotten suddenly send up shoots, and I can hardly wait to grab shears and fill vases all over my house with the richness of fragrance and bloom. 

Just as spring brings new life to gardens and fresh enjoyment for the gardener, so have e-books brought a new outlet for books and fresh entertainment for the reader.  Not only does an author’s front list gain fans, but the backlist now has a venue.  Books that are long out of print and hard to find (sometimes very expensive, too), can be brought back to life with new covers, updated story and a brand new audience. Too, long-time fans can now enjoy the books in both print and digital format.

Before I wrote the Southern Cousins Mystery series, before I became Anna Michaels who writes literary fiction, I wrote romance.  Fifty-six, to be exact.  My earliest romances were published under the Loveswept and Fanfare logos with Bantam Publishing Company (now Random House). 

For the past year I’ve been bringing my Loveswept romantic comedy classics back to readers in digital format. It has been fun to edit these books, to re-acquaint myself with the characters, laugh at their antics and cry over their heartbreaks.

I’ve loved having control over everything, especially the covers. Three really good cover design artists have done some amazing covers for me. Pat Ryan did the ethereally beautiful covers for Touched by Angels and the sequel, A Prince for Jenny.  Marc Fletcher did the gorgeous cover for the time travel romance, Night of the Dragon.  Kim Van Meter designed covers for the five-book Donovans of the Delta romantic comedy series, as well as the knock-your-socks-off Witch Dance (romantic suspense.)

Altogether I have 15 titles from my backlist available as e-books.  Seven of them have been on the Kindle Top Seller list.  Donovan’s Angel, the first book of the Donovan’s of the Delta series, is now available FREE wherever e-books are sold.
As a bonus for readers here at the Southern Authors Blogspot, I’ve also reduced the price of Witch Dance to $2.99.  

Enjoy your spring gardens and your spring reading! I’d love to hear what you have in your gardens as well as on your bookshelves.

Peggy Webb, a native Mississippian, is the award-winning, bestselling author of almost 70 novels.  To find her backlist, go to, and .  When she’s not writing, she enjoys gardening and playing the piano.