SCBWI Southern Breeze Presents …
The first annual Manuscript and Portfolio Critique Event!

June is writing contest month for Southern Breeze. Throughout the month, we’re sponsoring manuscript swap events all over the region. Here’s one I’m hosting:

JUNE 10th, 2017
2 PM- 4 PM
RT Jones Memorial Library
Canton, GA

For more information click on

And, while you are there, check out the 2016 winners on the bottom of the page. 🙂




I equate everything to writing, so why not liken it to trying on bathing suits? (Work with me on this one, people!)

You’ve heard of point of view in books, right? It’s the narrative view an author uses to tell a story. First person or third? Past tense or present? Head jump, yes? No? Maybe a little?

Fascinating stuff, I know, but how does this relate to trying on bathing suits?

The other day I was feeling especially masochistic, so I gobbled down a cheeseburger then strolled through the swimwear section of a department store. Twenty minutes later, after barricading the dressing room stall, I wrangled myself into a loosely disguised water girdle and reread the tag.

Guaranteed to make you look ten times slimmer.

Ten times? Yeah, good luck with that.

Ever squeeze a balloon? Well that was pretty much my experience. Squash the top, the bottom pops out. Wedge in the bottom, hello top! Stuff the middle … at the exact spot these water girdles most concentrate—FLOOMP!

Everything spills out, which brings me back to my point. Yes, I actually have one … this time.

As I stood there, looking at my reflection in what had to be a warped carnival mirror, I came up with a new point of view.

4th person imperfect. It’s the narration when the mirror tells the story.

Let me just say, out of all the POV’s I’ve experimented with, this one’s my least favorite. It’s unreliable, delusional, and should NOT be used after eating a cheeseburger. 🙂



I didn’t know him nor did many of the thousands of people who came out to honor him today. People of different ages, backgrounds, and race, toting flags in silent unity.

We stood on the overpasses. We lined the highways and streets. We saluted. We cried. We prayed.


Because he didn’t know us either, yet he made it his mission to protect us anyway–to protect our country.

In memory of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Skip Wells, killed in the Chattanooga terrorist attack.

Not So Accidental Blog Tourist Hop

Last week I was tagged to participate in Crystal Collier’s Not So Accidental Blog Tourist Hop by the talented author/illustrator Kim MacPherson. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community and thank both of you for encouraging these connections.

This is Kim. Be sure to check out her page in case you missed it. She’s awesome.

Now, onto Kim’s questions for me.

1. What am I currently working on?

Well, since you asked, I am currently working on driving myself crazy. A few months back, while finishing my MG novel POPCORN BRAIN another idea came to me in the form of deer pellets.

–Woah, back up, deer pellets you say? Yes, it’s true. I was walking in the park with my sweetie and came across a small cannonball pile of deer pellets. It reminded me of an incident I had with a burnt bellied fisherman, a rusty hook, and an insensitive attitude towards nature. And just like that … spark.

Now as I edit, rewrite, and try to market POPCORN BRAIN, I’m scratching out the first draft of this other story which for now I’m calling MY OTHER STORY.

Working on two novels at once is like riding a manic-depressive bicycle. Euphoria. Devastation. On top of the world. Low to the ground. But all-in-all, it’s a thrilling ride. Although it wouldn’t kill me to take a break every once in a while and wash my hair. But hey, that’s a different story.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The only thing I can say to that question is my work brings me with it. My cp partner, Tosha Sumner, said my style is humorous and/or poignant with a humorous flare.

To that note, you might find me singing at the top of my lungs from the center of the page or sitting covertly off to the side, whispering about the beauty that surrounds us.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

First off, I have to write. I’ve tried not writing. Doesn’t work for me.

Secondly, I seem to find humor in the oddest places, whether appropriate or not—sorry Mom, sorry former teachers, sorry clergymen …. To me, humor is the brainchild of emotions. And those underlying emotions are dripping with dialogue and story.

Thirdly, somewhere along the way I fell in love with grammar. It certainly didn’t happen in high school—college either. But now a well placed comma is like an old friend: comforting, wise, and full of clarity.

Lastly, I’m a professional snoop. Always have been and, from what I can tell, always will be. Just ask my family.

One of my greatest childhood memories was camping out behind our red, blue, and green checkered couch (terrifying visual, sorry) waiting for my sister and her date to make their big move and lock lips. I crouched like a lion, quietly gumming my generic cheese puffs, and waited until the awkward banter stopped and the even more awkward silence commenced. And then, as the sound of spit filled the air, I sprung up, arms over my head, shouting my oh-so-clever, “Boo!”

Call it training, because to this day I listen, I notice, I pay attention. Yes, I may act like I’m not, but I am. That’s part of being a snoop. I can’t help it. People are fascinating. And so I drink it up, let it simmer, and then pour it out on the page.

In other words, I was born to write.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

All my stories start with a small spark, like a ladybug landing on my shoulder. It’s there lingering in my brain, and, before I know it, I’m blasting through notebooks, sticky notes, napkins, etc… writing ideas and making connections.

Then comes the outline. In the past, I didn’t use outlines. It was basically me sculpting blindly. Definitely fun, but in the end my product suffered. So now I outline the beginning, middle, end, and a few important steps along the way, then leave it alone, allowing me to do what I do best–dance in the daisies.

So there, that’s me. Now on to the next two stops on this blog tour.

Up first, the amazing award winning author, Tosha Sumner.

1 Tl compressedTSumner2 - Copy

Forever optimistic and easily amused, T.L. Sumner is inspired to write magical stories about strong, athletic young women fulfilling their dreams. She holds both a bachelor’s and master’s in business from Villanova University where she ran cross country and track on a full athletic scholarship. She dreams of moving to Asheville, North Carolina, but for now, lives in the foothills of the North Georgia mountains with her husband and their two young children. Aside from writing, T.L. works in healthcare information technology, enjoys running and being the number one fan for her kids’ sporting events. She’s an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Romance Writers of America, including the Young Adult (YARWA) chapter. Her first novel won the MORWA’s Gateway to the Best Contest and was a finalist in the Windy City RWA Four Seasons Contest.

And last but definitely not least, the wow-your-socks-off illustrator/author, Shanda McCloskey.


Shanda McCloskey is a wife, mother of two girls, illustrator, and writer. She’s known for a long time that she wanted to illustrate books, but once she got caught up in a writing group, she realized there’s almost nothing cooler than doing both! Shanda blogs about life and art at

Sniff Sniff

My newest project is a contemporary middle-grade story that takes place in the north Georgia woods. To aide my descriptions, I’ve tried emerging myself in woodsy settings. I’ve gone hiking, outlined my plot in the forest, and even went camping. Yes, it’s true–in a tent and all. And guess what? It is difficult to describe the scent of pine without mentioning the word pine.

Words like Christmas tree, refreshing, and earthy decorate my draft but beyond that? Pine.

Go ahead, give it a shot, and if you come up with anything–do share. I’ll be outside sniffing my trees.


Write what you know. Seems simple enough. I like dogs, so I should write about dogs. Right? Not quite.

I am lucky enough to be in an extremely talented critique group. Trail Mix (hey-ho!). As I read my colleagues work, picture books to young adult novels, I can’t help notice how their stories, their ideas, reflect their individual interests, hobbies, goals, achievements, mistakes—experiences.

Each story is filled with rich details of their lives.

I spent the last six months creating my newest novel. As I go through it with a fine toothcomb, I notice the same holds true for my story.

As writers, I hear that we all have a unique story within us, one that no one else can tell.

It’s true. I’m reading my story and smiling because I can see it in my own writing—the people I’ve come across, places I’ve been, struggles I’ve either had myself or seen in others, and my hopes. How I want to wrap up the problem’s of the world.

It’s pretty fascinating.

Whether you are a writer, an artist, a teacher, a manager, a parent, a friend, or … whatever it is you do, we each bring all our experiences to our job every day, crafting life into what we wish it to be.

The medium may vary. The outcome is the same. How do you envision life? How can you make it better?

Write what you know.

And Sometimes It Works

To be awoken by words; an almost complete story line fluttering around in your brain, tapping you on the shoulder, urging you to wake up and write it down.

There’s nothing like it.

Yesterday I took a day off of writing. I’ve been working ten-twelve hour days for almost two weeks and started to feel stale. So I played hooky from myself.

I ate too much. I drank too much. (Juice, I mean juice!) And just when I thought I reached my peak of laziness, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. with a new, virtually finished story in my head.

It’s amazing what your brain can assimilate when given a rest.

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