Sunday, May 31, 2015

Guild presents “What the heck is Twitter good for?” on June 6

At the St. Louis Writers Guild’s June 6 workshop on social media, Sarah Coziahr will answer the question so many writers have: "What the heck is Twitter good for?" It will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 S. Geyer Road, in Kirkwood. Free for Guild members; $5 for nonmembers.

Sarah is an experienced marketer who works with and connects small businesses to online marketing tools and strategies to help them socialize and market their businesses online. She is the Vice President for Operations of RESPONSE! Targeted Marketing, a marketing agency specializing in small businesses. In addition, Sarah is a Constant Contact local expert for St. Louis.

In her talk--What the heck is Twitter good for, and how do I get all this social media stuff done anyhow?!?!—Sarah will address:

1. What are the basics of Twitter?
2. How can I use Twitter to gain a large following?
3. #whatisahashtag - What is a hashtag?
4. How can I make the most of my social media?
5. What are timesaving tools that will cut my time drastically?
6. How can I do enough without losing my day to social media??

Learn more about the St. Louis Writers Guild at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Claire Fullerton: Language flavors everything in writing, just as it does in life

Welcome to this week's guest, CLAIRE FULLERTON. Claire is the author of Dancing to an Irish Reel (Literary Fiction) and A Portal in Time, (Paranormal Mystery), both from Vinspire Publishing.  

She is an award-winning essayist, a contributor to magazines, a five-time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, and a former newspaper columnist. Claire grew up in Memphis, TN, and now lives in Malibu, CA, with her husband, two German shepherds and one black cat. 

Currently, she is writing her third novel.

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? The use of fluid, beautiful language brings my writing into focus. This informs every description, every scene, and every character. I believe language flavors everything in writing, just as it does in life: it's not what you say, it's how you say it! Language reveals a writer's personality and can be wielded like brush strokes on a canvas. Language can strike an emotional chord; it can dive deep and expand a reader's experience. A well chosen word placed appropriately defines a reader's experience, hopefully with soul-reaching poignancy. 

What inspired your latest book? I once lived on the western coast of Ireland. At the time, I was single and, like many Irish-Americans, I felt the genetic tug of my ancestral home. I didn't want to just visit Ireland, I wanted to know what it felt like to live as a local, to belong to the environment and live amongst the people as one of them. I lived outside of Galway in a rural area known as Inverin, which is in Ireland's Gaeltech, which refers to the region where Irish is spoken as a first language. It was a pivotal year in my life where everything was new and life enhancing. The character of the people fascinated me: their ties to their history, their love of traditional music, their tribe-like mentality. Ireland is an old culture, steeped in tradition, which the Irish hold sacred. To me, the Irish people seemed earthy, authentic, non-flashy, and unimpressed by the trappings of life, such as what someone does for a living, or any status symbols that Americans seem impressed by. Living in Ireland was an eye-opening experience, and I wanted to write about the way I found the culture in order to tell everyone! So, I took the premise of an American who moves to rural Ireland and meets a famous Irish musician who is emblematic of the Irish culture. The inherent culture clash between the two characters gave me the opportunity to showcase the nuances of Ireland from a fish-out-of-water's perspective! 

What do you think readers will like about your book? I've been told repeatedly that Dancing to an Irish Reel makes the reader feel as if they've lived in Ireland, which was my aim. Further, because the book is literary fiction, it is devoid of the confines of genre. Because it is written in first-person narrative, it offers the lens of the narrator's insight. I wanted the reader to know the narrator, to feel as if they were listening to her story over a cup of tea in front of a soothing fire. And because the story involves the uncertainty of new found attraction between the narrator and the Irish lad, I employed the narrator's thoughts as she tries to decipher the confusing veiled messages that seem to arise for most everyone in new love: the way we act one way to preserve appearances, yet feel another. I can think of few people who haven't been through the excitement, hope, fears and doubts that are involved in new love. I wanted to point out that the road to love is rarely a straight path!  Dancing to an Irish Reel is an honest look at  the complexities of human nature as we try to connect, and because the reader is privy to the narrator's inner monologue as she navigates Ireland's social nuances in a land so breathtakingly beautiful that it is its own story, the book offers a specific frame of reference that will take the reader through an enjoyable experience. 

Would you share a bit about your next project? Yes, thank you for asking! I am well into my third novel, which is a Southern family saga, set in Memphis, which sits on the Mississippi River in a region known as the Delta. It is a story of cause and effect; the sins of the father, so to speak. If you were to take To Kill a Mockingbird  and mix it with The Prince of Tides, you'd have a feel for this book, whose themes touch on a search for place, a search for identity, a search for meaning, and ultimately, a search for God. 

What's your favorite way to interact with fans/readers? Any way they choose to contact me! I love to hear a readers thoughts, the way one of my books has impressed them. Any interaction with a reader is a gift!

DANCING TO AN IRISH REEL: Twenty five year old Hailey Crossan takes a trip to Ireland during a sabbatical from her job in the LA record business. While there, she’s offered a job too good to turn down, so she stays.
Although Hailey works in Galway, she lives in the countryside of Connemara, a rural area famous for its Irish traditional music.  When Hailey meets local musician, Liam Hennessey, a confusing relationship begins, which Hailey thinks is the result of differing cultures, for Liam is married to the music, and so unbalanced at the prospect of love, he won't come closer nor completely go away.
And so begins the dance of attraction that Hailey struggles to decipher. Thankfully, a handful of vibrant local friends come to her aid, and Hailey learns to love a land and its people, both with more charm than she ever imagined.

Vinspire Publishing; Available now in Print and E-Books at all online book retailers!
Available at:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

P.J. Roscoe: Stories bring the supernatural and historical together

Welcome to P.J. Roscoe, this week's guest. Tell us a little about yourself.

PJ: "I have written since I could hold a pencil! A cliché I know, but it’s true. I wrote short stories about animals in a zoo and whenever it was an English lesson everyone knew to leave me alone as I wrote pages. Following the death of our son, I wrote ‘Echoes’ which started out as a short story, but within weeks had grown into a full novel and it helped me with my grief. I was astounded when it won various awards. I quickly followed that up with ‘Freya’s Child’.
After our daughter was born I wrote faerie stories as bedtime reading and I have just launched a collection ‘Adventures of Faerie folk’ and am working on the second collection due out later this year hopefully, but I am also working on my third novel ‘In-between Worlds’ which is also keeping me busy so who knows what the year will bring."

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? The stories I choose to write tend to have a focal point – the supernatural and historical, bringing the two together. Being adopted, I only have 44 years of history, so I like to be nosey around everyone else’s! Plus the paranormal intrigues me having been able to see, hear and feel spirit and ghosts since I was very young. 

This aside, my characters, especially the main one, is usually a strong woman and I like the reader’s attention on her throughout the book, even when other characters come into play, I want them to be thinking, “How is this going to affect so and so ...?”

I write from my soul, this is my focus.

Would you share a bit about your next project? In-between Worlds is another supernatural historical fiction with a twist. Its set in a secure hospital after a young woman, Emily is found bloodied and bruised next to a decapitated corpse. Refusing to speak, the only clue is an ancient sword used in the murder, but archaeologists are saying that it’s impossible as the sword is dated to the 5th century AD, but it’s in perfect condition.
King Arthur fascinates me. Not the medieval rubbish made up by a monk, but the possibility of a man in the dark ages who led an army against the invading Saxons. Also, the soundtrack to ‘King Arthur’ the one with Clive Owen, love it and there is one piece that fits a scene perfectly and so I played it over and over to get the scene absolutely perfect in my head. Every time I hear that piece, I see the scene like a film and I get chills!

To gain answers, Emily is hypnotised and tells tales of Artorius, the legendary commander who King Arthur was based on. Is she telling the truth or is Emily having a psychotic episode.

I wanted to explore the possible reality that patients diagnosed with various mental illnesses could be experiencing other forms of a more supernatural explanation, but as science would never deem these a possibility, I began to wonder if it could be true, how many patients are perfectly sane, but just in the wrong time and nobody is taking them seriously.

What's your favourite way to interact with fans/readers? I love to meet them and chat. I hate telephones, not that fans tend to ring me!! I love meeting people, though it scares me and I sometimes get a bit embarrassed, but I like to find out from them how the book was, which bits didn’t or did work for them. I enjoy feedback, but of course I have had a couple of what I call ‘trolls’ who want nothing more than to make nasty comments – usually on the internet, to make themselves feel better. I guess its part of being in the public domain and not the nice side, but in general, there are so many kind people out there.

What movie star would be perfect for (your main character) and why? When writing ‘Echoes’ my husband and I would play the game of ‘who could play this character?’ It was an easy one for me, as whenever I wrote the character ‘Eira’, Fionulla Flanagan was always in my head. So much so that when I finished it, I sent her agent a copy – I never heard back. Fionulla has exactly what I want from ‘Eira’ a kind woman but when you look at her, you wonder what she is hiding behind those eyes. As for the main character of Bronwen? No idea. I haven’t seen any actress that fits her because she is based on me and it’s difficult to imagine anyone playing me! Daniel Craig as Adam or Richard Armitage perhaps? Derek Jacobi as Sir Richard?

What are your top three reasons for writing? To ask me not to write, is like asking me not to breathe – so there’s a perfect reason! I enjoy it too much and life is to be enjoyed, never merely endured (Quote from ‘Echoes’!)

My head is so busy with stories and books, I would go mad if I didn’t write them down – so I plan to stay sane and continue writing!

ECHOES: Bronwen Mortimer moves to a secluded village on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, England, in the hope of starting a new life following years of abuse, but the echoes of the land will never lie quietly and when she witnesses a murder, she must face her past to have any chance of living in the present.

A supernatural, historical thriller moving between present day and 15th century, when Henry Tudor claimed the throne. There were many casualties of war, but some refuse to be forgotten.

Available at:

Spooky but interesting blog! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Horton-Newton: Senior citizens are protagonists in JFK assassination thriller

Welcome to this week's guest, Elizabeth Horton-Newton. She was born and raised in New York City. She began writing when she was a child, writing stories for friends and family. In the 4th grade at P.S. 151 in Manhattan she wrote an essay about her dream job--she wanted to be an author. She continued to write short stories over the following years as she raised a family. After attending Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY and East Tennessee State University, she worked in the social work field for thirteen years. In addition to writing, she loves traveling and photography, even using one of her own photos for the cover of her book. She currently lives in E. Tennessee with her husband, author Neil Newton, and a collection of rescued dogs and cats, with frequent visits from her four children and five grandchildren. Her first book--View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale--was published in October 2014. She is currently working on her next book, Riddle, to be published in the Summer of 2015.

What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? For me, every story has a different motivator. When I first started View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale, the story was my focus. I had an idea and I wanted to get the story told. It seemed to move forward on its own. But in the end it was a combination of the story and the characters. In my current work in progress, the story is definitely what brings my writing into focus.

What inspired your latest book? View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale was inspired by my fascination with the assassination of President John Kennedy. I was ten when the assassination occurred and vividly remember everything about it, including seeing accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald being killed on television. As I got older I came to believe he was innocent and it was a conspiracy. After that, I wondered what might have happened if he had lived to tell his story. When the 50th anniversary came along, something clicked and the story was born.

What makes your book/characters unique? The main characters in View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale are senior citizens. Olivia Roberts is a widowed and retired school teacher. She is an ordinary woman caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Bill Horton is a mysterious man in his early seventies. Is he hiding something or is he crazy? They undertake an adventure as friends and learn more about themselves and one another. I think they show people can have lives even when they are older.

Would you share a bit about your next project? My current project is called Riddle. It’s a romantic thriller about a young Native man who was falsely convicted of killing his high school girlfriend. He’d been adopted by a white family as a baby and never really fit in with the other kids in the town, Riddle. When he returns from prison after seven years, some townspeople feel he got off easy and others believe he was railroaded. To add to the mix, we have a young girl who has run away from her fiancé after catching him in bed with her best friend. Her car broke down in Riddle, and she is working at a local diner until she has enough money to have it repaired. They become friends and begin to work together to clear his name and find the real killer. Meanwhile, more deaths begin to happen in the town. It has some tense moments and some very sexy moments but it isn’t erotic fiction. It’s definitely an exciting edge-of-your-seat mystery.

How much fact is in your fiction? In View From the Sixth Floor, Lee Harvey Oswald was a real person. I read a lot about him when I was researching the assassination. He was a fascinating person, and I used a lot of his reported characteristics in developing his character. The assassination obviously really occurred. With my current project, my male protagonist Kort is a Native who was adopted as a baby in an illegal adoption and was mistreated by his adoptive parents. Unfortunately that is a more common practice that people realize. I cover that underlying story throughout the book. I like to inject a little fact into my books.

VIEW FROM THE SIXTH FLOOR: Why are strangers suddenly appearing in a sleepy North Carolina town asking about Lee Harvey Oswald? What do they have to do with widow Olivia Roberts? Why is her neighbor and friend Bill Horton so dead set against her traveling to Dallas, Texas? When she journeys from her North Carolina home to Dallas in search of answers to questions from November 22, 1963 she learns more than she ever expected. 

“View from the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale” is a story of “what-ifs”? What if the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 was a conspiracy? What if accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was innocent? What if someone knew the truth and could prove it? What if someone you trusted turned out to be hiding a secret so big it could change history? 

This is a tale of friendship, love, political intrigue, and murder.

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