Friday, April 26, 2013

Graveyards are a Source of Great Plots

by Deborah Wilbrink

“Police Break Up Fight at Crematorium!” My husband chuckled at the headline he read in the Netherland e-news site. The brawl forced the normally sedate Dutch police to intervene amongst ten violently excited people. It reminded me of the many stories that had walked and talked their way into my office while Sexton of the Columbus, Georgia, City Cemeteries. Nothing that exciting, to be sure, but we had our days. In the aging office with its horse-ready portico, I learned new skills from a mortician. He kindly shared with me that grief can have an anger stage, and how to be a better listener when that happens.

Supervising hundreds of acres of historic graves led to the collection of many stories, of the living left behind and of the deceased. Now that I’m a ghostwriter and personal historian in Nashville, I’m naturally drawn to the stories of the Nashville City Cemetery. They have the best cemetery website I have ever seen!

I’m honored to have a featured piece in their Spring Newsletter. It’s about a victim of Gen. Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, C. S. A. – but this victim was one of his own officers. Research in the Tennessee State Library and Archives yielded abundant material about this man buried in the City Cemetery. There was even an eyewitness account from a boy who saw the event, and grew up to be a reporter! Frank H. Smith of Columbia, Tennessee, interviewed all the principals except the killer and the killed for his story.

Here’s an excerpt from my article, “A Violent Misunderstanding”

On June 14, 1863, Lt. Gould confronted Gen. Forrest about his transfer, saying, “It’s a lie!” Forrest understood it as an accusation that he was a liar. Gould then allegedly struggled to pull a pistol caught in his pants pocket, while the agile General flipped open his penknife with his teeth and aimed for the jugular, succeeding in his stab. Gould’s pistol fired and wounded Forrest! It appeared to be a fatal wound in the abdomen. The General lost all control, pursuing the Lt. though the streets, into the Provost Marshall’s office where he was getting medical help, and out into the field behind. There he verified that Gould was bleeding to death from the stab wound. Only then did Forrest seek medical help for himself, in the process denying it to the young man. He was in a rage, seeking vengeance for what he understood as his own eminent death. Could it all have been a violent misunderstanding?
The full article will be found at when the Spring issue is released. If you are looking for material to write about, it may be found no further than that nearest fenced, pleasant hill, site of many last long walks and memoriam. You may also explore a cemetery website as a shortcut! Final tip: Don’t overlook non-profit newsletters as welcoming publishers for good writers willing to donate material.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Poetry and Prose Corner April 2013

The Fools of April

Oh, you jokester,
Prankster, Fool,
Fearless in
Your pratfall follies.
Do you dare to
Break the rules with
Any tools at your command?

Obvious that you enjoy
The many tactics you employ
With faceless, feckless fortitude,
The masquerade of your decoy.

Never mind the price you pay
Or who your folly may annoy.
As long as you indulge your joy
And swiftly make your getaway.

Expert to economy,
Vanquisher of gloom and doom,
Forlorn frowns are vanquished
When the fools of April fill the room.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront:


By Rita Janice Traub

I am April, green and fair,
lilacs tangled in my hair,
oft-disheveled, awkward, wild,
partly grown but mostly child,
hope and comfort in my smile,
winter-haunted all the while.
Though my daffodils glint gold,
I was born of mists and cold,
struggling, when my wan sun sets,
not to destroy my violets,
now, as in primeval years,
trilling songs while spilling tears,
melodies I knew before
humans walked life’s corridor.
Charming May and fragrant June,
rose-adorned, will visit soon.
Meanwhile, take my bud and leaf,
gently dabbed with ancient grief.


Finally, respite from
Bone chills and teeth rattles,
Mittens and snow battles,
Shovels and scrapes.
No longer bundled in
Parka and woollen cap,
Breaking the frigid snap.
Blessed escape.

Nature erupts
In its vibrant illusion,
Precious profusion
Of color and scale.
Crocus and john-o-quill,
Tulips and daffodil,
Lilacs upon the hill,
Senses assailed.

Morning awakens as
Sweet dewdrops glisten
And new lovers listen
For robins to sing.
Time holds no meaning
And space knows no reason
For earth wears no season
More lovely than spring.

Dennis S. Martin
Lulu Storefront:


By Leonard Goodwin

As we learn to welcome
all aspects of life
Storms and beauties of Nature
personal pleasures and strife
We'll find our human form
can do more than first appears
Our form can resonate and dance
to music of the spheres
Can dream of new creations
that benefit all beings
Expanding cosmic consciousness
beyond the bounds now seen

from the “Prologue” of A Spiritual Journey: From the Great Depression to Beyond the Mayan Calendar. Author Leonard Goodwin has led an interesting life, full of significant work and spiritual revelations, which he shares in his soon-to-be-published poetic memoir.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Looking for Good Books to Read?

By Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

What Should I Read? I was recently asked this question by a reporter and it really made me think about the process a book lover goes through when determining what book to buy.

It’s a great question because as a book publicist I want you to read my clients’ books, of course! But how do we connect ‘you,’ the reader, to my client?

I could not do this work if I did not have a love of books as they are being published at a rate of a few hundred a day; it’s really impossible to keep up. But, that said, here are some tips for book lovers about determining what to read.

1. Get a Kindle. Then sign up for Amazon Prime. Create a wish list of the books you would like to read. Write a review about books you’ve read. Rate them 1-5 stars. Then Lo and Behold, Amazon will use an algorithm to suggest books that you might like. If you sign up for their daily email, you’ll get one from Amazon with books that are FREE that day on Kindle and others that are priced under $10. Before long you’ll have more books than you’ll have time to read and, most likely they’ll be books you’ll be interested in.

2. Then go to C-Span’s Book TV. Each weekend, Book TV features 48 hours of nonfiction books from Saturday 8am (ET) to Monday 8am (ET). They have interviews, presentations and readings by the top authors. This is a terrific way to keep abreast of the important books of the day, and what better way to learn about a book than to hear about it directly from an author.

3. Register at GoodReads. They ask new visitors to tell them what titles or genres they’ve enjoyed in the past, and they’ll provide what they call ‘surprisingly insightful recommendations.’ They have 40+ genres of books listed on their home page alone and offer everything from Romance and Religion to Cookbooks and Science Fiction.

4. There are the old standards too, like the New York Times Bestseller list. You can find all kinds of books that are selling well. Does that mean you should read them? Maybe. There are so many books out there that are well written and deserve to be on that list but they lack the marketing muscle to get noticed. Remember, the NY Times list does not always reflect the best books, just the bestselling books.

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it's their first book or their 15th book. He's handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman's World, & Howard Stern to name a few. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at or contact Lorenz at or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist

Join Us for a Conversation with Novelist Tanya J. Peterson

What do you when your seemingly normal life is suddenly ripped apart by mental illness? Tanya J. Peterson explores this question in her new novel, Leave of Absence. It is the inspiring and disturbingly realistic portrayal of a man and a woman being treated in a mental health facility.

The book is all the more true to life because it covers both situational depression and a lifelong illness. One character has been hospitalized after the loss of his wife and child drove him to attempt suicide; the other is struggling with a recent diagnosis of schizophrenia. The bond they forge will be the only reality they can cling to while in treatment.  

It was my pleasure to speak with Tanya about her love of writing, as well as her commitment to bringing awareness to mental health challenges and other social issues. Her previous book, Losing Elizabeth, is a Young Adult novel about a girl involved in an abusive relationship.

Click here to listen to the podcast

Tanya is from the Northwest, where she is a certified counselor and teacher. To learn more about her work or purchase the books, visit

Monday, April 15, 2013

This Friday's Podcast Guest: Novelist Tanya J. Peterson

Tune into the WITS podcast this week as author, counselor and teacher Tanya J. Peterson discusses her  new novel, Leave of Absence. It is the story of two people from completely different worlds who find themselves admitted to the same mental health facility. As they struggle to rebuild their lives, they find that the only reality they can cling to is each other. This moving story explores not only the devastating effects of depression and schizophrenia on the mind, body and soul, but the healing power of friendship.     

Leave of Absence is more than an excellent read; it is also a reflection of Tanya's life's work. She is passionately committed to bringing awareness to mental health issues; however, rather than writing self-help or nonfiction books, she has chosen fiction as the vehicle to deliver her message. She believes that novels can reach a broader audience, and to this end, lets her characters do the talking in the context of a tightly woven and entertaining story.    

Tanya holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, a Master of Science in counseling, and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has been a teacher and a counselor in various settings, including a traditional high school and an alternative school for homeless and runaway adolescents, and she has volunteered her services in both schools and communities. Her previous work includes the novel, Losing Elizabeth, about a teenage girl involved in an abusive relationship. To purchase the books or learn more about Tanya's work, visit Amazon or

Friday, April 12, 2013

Author Blogging 101: What’s Stopping You?

By Joel Friedlander

Stella, an old friend, told me this true story:

One day Stella decided to go to her favorite piano bar. She was one of the regulars there and enjoyed the camaraderie and loved to sing along with her favorites.

She got dressed and headed to the piano bar for the evening where, true to form, she had a great time singing old songs, having a few drinks, and talking to friends.

At the end of the evening she returned home. But when she went to get undressed, she realized something terrible: she had had her dress on inside out the whole time!

Nobody said anything; maybe they didn’t even notice.

She told this story, laughing at her own mistake, to make the point that we focus on our own real or imagined shortcomings a whole lot more than other people do, no matter what we think.

And That Goes for Blogging, Too.

Sometimes I think about Stella’s story when I talk to authors who are having a hard time getting started with a blog.

They keep trying to get going, but there’s always something holding them back.

 “I don’t know what platform to use, but I’m going to decide next week.”
 “Is what I have to say really worth someone else’s time?”
 “I realized I need to look through all my old newsletters and manuscripts and book drafts to get everything in order before I get started.”
 “People will see through me, that I don’t really know that much after all.”
 “There’s no way I can keep up a blog; it’s way too much work with everything else I have to do!”
 “I’ll write something I regret, or that’s stupid, or that’s poorly written, and it will be there forever.”

Behind a lot of this hesitation and stalling, I suspect, is the terror of putting yourself out there, for all to see.

Yes, hitting that “Publish” button when you’re a new blogger can take quite a leap of faith. But there’s no better time to do it than now.

The Importance of Time

Time never restarts, have you noticed that? Whatever we did in February, 2013 is now history; we can’t go back and do the things we thought we were going to do, but somehow never got around to.
Before you’ve created your own blog, you don’t realize how much a blog is like a garden. In both, you need to put in work up front—maybe a couple of years of it--before you start to get the benefits of a bountiful harvest.

In blogging, each month builds on the last. Growth for most bloggers is slow and steady, and will continue that way if you practice basic blog marketing.

It does take time. Time to find your blogger’s voice, to find your style, learn different content formats, become familiar with the power of syndicating your blog, get to know other bloggers in your niche—all the things it takes to run a successful blog, one that will truly make a difference in your readers’ lives.

But none of that can happen until you start.

I Know About You

Here are some things I know about you:

 You’re creative, you have no lack of new ideas or new insights into how things work.
 You love to write, and you know how to write reasonably well.
 You’re keenly interested—even passionate—about the things that really matter to you.
 You’re glad to connect with someone else who shares your interest or passions.

It doesn’t take much more than that to start a really great blog. Just a few technical bits that are easily mastered, or for which you can get help.

If you start your blog (or revive the one you abandoned) now, you’ll start working, no matter how modestly, on:

 building new skills as a writer
 finding readers who resonate with your writing
 adding people to your mail list
 establishing connections with other bloggers
 learning what your community needs from you
 attracting speaking, writing, and teaching opportunities

And all of the other opportunities that open up to you when your blog becomes the center of an active, engaged community of likeminded people.

And maybe you will say something stupid, find out you need to learn more about something you thought you knew, or tick some people off. Maybe, like Stella, you’ll go out with your clothes on backward.

But then you’ll find out, like she did, that you can still have a good time while you’re doing it, and that’s what people will remember.

So, what’s stopping you?

Joel Friedlander is a self-published author, an award-winning book designer, and an accomplished blogger. He's the founder of the Self-Publishing Roadmap online training course, and a frequent speaker at industry events where he talks to writers about how the new tools of publishing can help them reach and inspire their readers.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

WITS Announcements April 2013

As a subscriber to Writers in the Sky Newsletter, you are entitled to share your announcements with our readers. See guidelines at and send your material to us before the 24th of each month to make the next month’s issue. Anything posted in the WITS Newsletter is also shared with our blog readers at

Growing Your Business with Social Media

Integrating social media into your online business is a great way to build relationships with your fans, amplify your brand, increase your leads, drive traffic to your website and turn followers into customers. Begin by figuring out what are the best social sites to amplify your business. Assess where your customers are and what they want. Put together your social media team and begin implementation.

Carol Lawrence is a social media manager at Social Media Help 4 U. She offers monthly social media management for authors, holistic practitioners and small business owners. For an affordable social media assessment or to sign up for monthly services visit her website to learn more.
Read the first chapter for free and then decide if you want to download the 3-hour-long MP3 audio book of More Than Meets the Eye ~ True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife for only $7.00.
The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest ~ Summer 2013 is open to anyone that loves expressing innermost thoughts and feelings through the beautiful art of poetry or writing a story that is worth telling everyone. Write a poem or short story for a chance to win cash prizes! Postmark deadline: July 31, 2013. All works must be original. Visit our website for details:
Each story in The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children focuses on life skills such as environmental awareness, helping others, being true to one’s self, overcoming fear, and following inner guidance.
Whose Stuff Is This? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those around You is a guidebook for empathic people who have been unknowingly carrying energetic burdens that belong to someone else. See all purchasing options at
State of Appreciation is a free weekly online newsletter that blends practical and spiritual approaches to enhance personal power and self-realization. This publication offers empowering articles, gifts, and free contemporary and classic empowerment downloads at
If you are looking for someone to create an original piece for your book cover, you might want to connect with Diane Daversa on Facebook:!/pages/Diane-Daversa-Fine-Art/109782219119036.
Shifting into Purer Consciousness ~ Integrating Spiritual Transformation with the Human Experience is about how to embrace multidimensional frequencies, lessen physical and emotional symptoms of rapid spiritual ascension, and offers tips to make the ascension process easier and quicker.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

WAO & WITS Podcast Schedules April 2013

WAO Podcast

We Are One in Spirit Podcast allows for people from all walks of life to discuss their spiritual journey and life—transforming experiences that remind us that we are all one in spirit. Uplifting, enlightening, and insightful topics include healing, empathy, intuition, spiritual/psychic gifts, metaphysics, soul development, afterlife, spirit communication, and more. The metaphysical shows are archived at feed:// You will also find us on iTunes. Please subscribe to the We Are One in Spirit mailing list to receive the call log-in information:

April 11: Cayce Jean Shostak is on mission… to provide the resources, support, and inspirational experiences that will help people expand their awareness, unite, and create sacred space (wherever they are), infuse the Internet with light source energy, and RAISE THE VIBRATION! Over seven years ago she began creating the virtual Internet attraction “C.S.ONE - Cyber-Space Station ONE”, a paradigm for conscious living. Weaving together spirituality, metaphysics, holistic health and the arts, C.S.ONE is a whole new dimension in cyberspace and self exploration. So get onboard and take in the energy… expand your awareness… stir your soul… release and rejuvenate… laugh and cry… become empowered and uplifted… have fun and Enlighten Up. There’s no place like Cyber-Space Station ONE! (

WITS Podcast

Writers in the Sky Podcast is a Nashville-based talk show about writing, publishing, and book marketing. An educational tool for people who want to learn more about the craft and business of writing, this show offers interviews with authors and writers, as well as the latest news about books currently on the market. You will also learn about publishing methods and marketing techniques as we interview publishers and publicists. Listen to archived shows via RSS Feed. Download WITS Podcast on iTunes for your iPod or iPad.

April 19th: tune into the WITS Podcast when Tanya J. Peterson discusses her new novel, Leave of Absence. It is the moving story of two people from completely differently worlds who help each other deal with mental illness, grief and loss.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Editor's Corner April 2013

Welcome to the April 2013 edition of the WITS newsletter. It’s officially spring, but in some parts of the country, winter has been reluctant to loosen its grip. This leaves us antsy and dreaming of travel to another state or country; even another world. It can also make it difficult to focus on our writing projects, which we have undoubtedly been slaving over during those gray, cold days.
This leads me to this month’s musing: remembering why we started writing in the first place. For many of us, myself included, it began with a love of reading. A good book can take us to another world as easily as a plane ride, with less expense and no chance of losing our luggage.
 From the time I was a small child and long before I ever considered being a writer, reading was a way to escape my own life. Books showed me new landscapes and allowed me to understand people, cultures, languages and religions I might never have come into contact with otherwise. John Le Carré taught me about the thrill--and the moral relativity--of espionage; an Alice Hoffman book always takes me out of the concrete jungle in which I live and into the lush, green woods of a small New England town.
And, by the way, reading will make you a better writer as well. As if by magic, it teaches you how to invite others into your world, share with them your truth, and allow them to escape their day-to-day for a while.

So if you find yourself staring out the window--or worse, in front of a blank screen—pick up a book and dive in. When you “return”, you might find you have a different perspective on your work, and your life.

Happy writing (and reading!)
Dana Micheli
Writer and editor, Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services
Writers in the Sky is a team of ghostwriters, editors, and book marketing specialists committed to the craft and business of writing. We work with our clients on all levels of the publishing process, from editing and manuscript assessments to book formatting and marketing. So whether you are a first-time author or a veteran of the craft, let Writers in the Sky help you get your book out into the world. We also provide assistance with résumés, business documents, and academic essays. For more information, visit