Tag Archives: bernice mcfadden

bernice and chuck

Wordy South, Ep. 3: Bernice McFadden & Chuck Wendig

(NOTE: This is the corrected version of the podcast. The first post was missing a few words. Sorry!)

What “lunatic” thing did acclaimed novelist Bernice McFadden do until 2005? And why did she stop?

Find out in this interview with the two-time Hurston/Wright Award nominee and author of New York Times editor’s choice book “Gathering of Waters.” She has a ton of great insight to share with writers trying to complete their novel.

The next time you think about saying you could care less, be aware pen monkey Chuck Wendig may tap you on the shoulder, eyeball you up and down, and then shake his head, “No, you could care less. And you should.”

We play his speech from the 2012 Crossroads so you know why.

Shout-outs to a couple of talented writers in the Crossroads family.

YA novelist Lauren Morrill, who made Crossroads 2013 awesome and then released her second book–”Being Sloan Jacobs”–on January 7. You can get your copy here.

You can see what Lauren looked like in high school here:

Delilah S. Dawson, writer of paranormal romance and whatnot, just unleashed “Damsel and the Daggerman,” a new Blud series novella. And, on January 28, you can get your hands on “Wicked After Midnight,” which may or may not be about lonely mogwai who eat dinner too late and have to deal with their emotions as they’re transformed into gremlins.

Also, Susannah Breslin is awesome.

Find these folks on Twitter:

Bernice McFaddenChuck WendigLauren MorrillDelilah S. DawsonSusannah Breslin, Crossroads and Chris Horne

Web interviews and blogs:

Bernice McFadden – interview How to survive 74 rejections (BONUS: M.W. Gerard’s review of “Glorious”)

 Chuck Wendig - interview The Mutter Draft

Lauren Morrill – guest blog “Do you still love it?”

Delilah S. Dawson – reviewed “Creepy Carnivals & Steampunk”

WordySouth old

3 exciting reasons not to feel lonely in 2014

I’ll be honest. I miss you all.

Just a couple months ago, we had our fifth–and I think, best–Crossroads Writers Conference and it was chock full of awesome, but now I’m lonely again. It happens every year. I just never get used to it.

This time, I decided to do something about it. That’s why I’m happy to tell you about three things we’re doing between now and the next conference that gives me a great excuse to talk/text/email/pester you.  (Yes, you!)

#1) the Wordy South podcast

Do you like things that are free? I do too! That’s the deal with podcasts. Download ‘em for free then go workout, take a walk, stream it in your car on long rides. You may think they’re soooo 2005 but I love ‘em.

That’s why we’re launching our own on Thursday, December 19, 2013. Every week, there’ll be a new installment featuring some of our favorite guests from past conferences, members of the Crossroads family and writers new to the whole Wordy South thing.

You’ll find each episode online, via iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud and whatever else we can get set up.

Our first guests include Bernice McFadden, Adam Mansbach, Carrie Howland, Delilah S. Dawson and Cat Scully. We’ve got a couple of surprise guests and dozens of cool folks from the five previous conferences so this is going to be fun.

 

#2) Webinars, tweet-ups and Hangouts, oh my!

Early in 2014, we’re re-launching this website.

The idea is to keep regular blogs with tips, advice, insight, prompts and whatever else we can think of to help keep you motivated.

But we’re also working on ways to keep us connected to each other in the year that passes between one conference and the next. That’s why we’ll start having regular meet-ups on Twitter (er, tweet-ups) and Google Hangouts.

And we’re working on plans to introduce webinars so you can workshop with your favorite Crossroads writers.

 

#3) the 1st ever Crossroads Writers Retreat

What the what?

Oh yeah. Think: a cross between the conference and that ray gun from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” A mini-Crossroads that may or may not be in Macon.

Honey...

And there may or may not be more than one. Perhaps that’s something we can talk about in our tweet-ups and Hangouts, eh?

See, the big idea is that we want Crossroads to be directed and designed by you even more than it already is. Surveys aren’t enough anymore. We want you active and engaged in making sure we can help you write more and write better.

(That goes double for the next conference.)

So stay tuned. Make sure you’re on the email list, that you’ve added us on Facebook and are following us on Twitter. Share your ideas below or shoot me an email at chris (at) crossroadswriters (dot) com

Later!

Chris H.

WS_Badge_Revised

This is why you registered for Crossroads

You come for the classes and the comraderie. If you’re a returning Crossroader, you already expect to have a good time, learn a bunch and leave inspired to write more. Well, here’s a run-down with (almost all) our workshops coming up this weekend.

We dare you not to be excited!

 

 

List of 2013 Crossroads Workshops

 

delilah_slider25 Steps to Being A Traditionally Published Author, Even Lazier Edition

Delilah Dawson

Instead of reading my 7,000-word guide to getting a traditional publishing deal, come listen to me talk about it–and answer the questions you’re afraid to ask. From finishing your first draft to getting an agent to what happens after your book is on the shelf, it’s possible to sell a book without having an MFA, a friend in publishing, or a reality TV show. Hint: it involves a lot of hard work.

 

IMG_1454Anatomy of a Book

Emilie P. Bush

Whether you plan to self publish or enter a deal with a commercial publisher, knowing your gutter from your half title page is important. Topics include publishing terms, an up-close and personal look at what a book interior SHOULD look like and the basic “rules” of layout.

 

Digital Storytelling

Tim Regan-Porter

Should you write differently for digital media? If so, how? What tools are best for telling a compelling story? This panel will address a variety of issues in writing for the web, tablets, and mobile.

 

Fiction Writing Tips

Cate Noble

Deconstructing story: the elements of compelling fiction, with tips for nurturing your writer’s soul.

 

Freelancing is Out; Entrepreurism is In

Kristin Luna

At one point in time (think: way back pre-2010), a writer could simply survive off of freelance assignments. But in 2013, the market has drastically changed and freelancers are forced to evolve with the times. Now, publications expect writers to be a one-stop shop: from the crafting of a story to the photography and right down to publicity and social media promotion. In order to rise to the top of a diluted market, there’s one thing you have to be: an entrepreneur.

 

CarrieHowlandGetting Past The Gatekeeper: How to get your work noticed by an agent

Carrie Howland

Getting an agent is a tricky business, and can seem overwhelming. How do you write the perfect pitch? How do you find the right agent in the first place? How do you stay out of the dreaded slush pile?! Agent Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson, Inc. will answer these questions and more to help you on your way to finding, and building a lasting relationship with, an agent.

 

How to Build Your Story

Margaret South

Learn the secret of telling a great story. Master your use of turning points to heighten meaning. Give yourself the opportunity to get the story right the first time.

 

If Writing Is Easy, You Ain’t Doing It Right

Joe Kovac Jr.

Tons of pointers, tips, advice and other random nonsense you may or may not need to survive the writing process. (Lesson One: It is anything but a process.) But if you sign up for this session, we’ll discuss the oft-maddening act of turning out page-turning stories, and how to know if you’re pushing yourself enough to do it.

 

Shawn DurhamI Wrote an Awesome Book … and You Can Too

J. Shawn Durham

So you’ve finally written that awesome, super duper, kickass best selling tome, eh? But now that you’ve penned that awesomeness, how are you gonna let the world know about it? Welcome to 21st century authorship, where it’s not just enough to be Next Faulkner, Ellison or Morrisson. You also have to get your I-net game up. You ready?

 

Making History Live (in Fiction)

Anthony Grooms

You’ve researched the historical facts, but how do you blend them into lively fictional scenes? The speaker will discuss strategies for scene writing for historical fiction.

 

Making The Most Out of Murder and Mayhem

Barry Reese

The heyday of the bloody pulps might have been the Thirties and Forties but the movement has gained new legs in recent years with the rise of New Pulp. What is it and why might it be the salvation for small press writers? Award-winning New Pulp author Barry Reese will take you through the ins and outs of the New Pulp world, including where and how you can become a part of it.

 

Never Say No: Building A Portfolio In The Gig Economy

John Rhett Thomas

With expertise in website development, social media, publishing, and project management in the comics industry – both as a writer and an editor – John Rhett Thomas will field questions on a variety of discussion points, including how to get and keep a freelance writing job, operating within the “gig” economy, and working for – and as – an editor. He will also highlight the importance of “never saying no” (with a few caveats) when you start your freelance writing career. And, oh yeah, comic books.

 

Novel Writing 101

Sarah Domet

Have a great idea for a novel, but you can’t seem to get started? Or, have you found yourself halfway through your novel, but stuck and stumped? In this session we’ll explore novel writing basics, from character development to story arc. We’ll take a look at what drives a novel, and we’ll examine techniques and exercises to keep you focused, creative, and working toward the completion of your first draft.

 

Kat+ZhangPlanning the YA Trilogy

Kat Zhang

The three-book structure is getting endemic. But looking at all the cases of “second-book syndrome” and complaints about overstretched plots, do all stories fit neatly in 3 books? And how does one go about selling a trilogy anyway?

 

Poems from Oblique Lexicon

Judson Mitcham

My ongoing project is a collection of poems called Oblique Lexicon. Emily Dickinson said, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” and that is the guiding principle of these poems. My session will involve a reading from the collection.

 

David Iserson 210Putting Words in Other People’s Mouths

David Iserson

I wrote a funny young adult novel and my day job is writing for film and television. I’ll discuss how to get started in those various kinds of writing, balancing different projects at once, and if I can get it on the plane, I’ll try to bring candy.

 

Story Telling in a Digital Age

Erick Erickson

The attention span of the average person has shortened considerably in the digital age. Instant on, instant off, and instant change affect the experience of connecting through words. This session will focus on capturing and keeping attention in a digital age.

 

The Author/Editor Collaboration

Marc Jolley

Mercer University Press Editor Marc Jolley will discuss the role of an editor and the ways authors and editors collaborate to make a better book

 

The Not-so Gentler Sex: How to Write Women. And Sex.

Delilah Dawson

Whether you’re trying to help your female lead leap off the page or make sure your hero’s love interest isn’t just a cardboard cut-out, there’s an art to writing women. Which leads us right into romance, sizzling chemistry, and the bedroom. Things might get bawdy, but they’ll stay honest, and this once prudish Southern girl is more than happy to answer all your questions about the inside and outside workings of women in fiction.

 

The Seven Questions That Will Revolutionize Your Writing

Lauretta Hannon

Go straight to the heart of the matter as we explore the most critical lessons and solutions for your project. Expect to be energized and inspired by this lively, thought-provoking session.

 

Submit To Your Editrix: The Pleasure of Dominating Text

Annabelle Carr

The relationship between a writer and her editor can be intense to say the least—yet it can yield transcendent results. As both a consumer nonfiction editor and a literary fiction writer, I’ve put considerable thought into that delicate balance between dominance and submission. In this session, we’ll explore the twisted psyche of the magazine editrix and learn from some of literature’s greatest copyslingers. Think of it as text therapy for your freelance career.

 

BerniceMcFaddenTrusting the Voice: The Art of Listening, Writing and Living

Bernice L. McFadden

It’s easier to trust the creative process when you also trust that a greater force is guiding that process. Bernice L. McFadden discusses her personal journey from aspiring writer to published author by moving beyond fear by believing that a greater force was guiding her creative process.

 

Writer VS. Studio

Adam Torchia

The process of screenplay development in the contemporary movie studio. This will include both the studio and writer’s perspective, the art of navigating the fine line between art and business.

 

Andrew-Hartley-02_-300x214Writing in Multiple Genres

A.J. Hartley

Most successful writers work in only genre, and trying to do otherwise can be dangerous for both your craft and your career. But only writing one kind of book has perils of its own–not least of which is boredom for the author and his or her readers. This session will explore the issues and possible solutions for writers trying to navigate writing and publishing in more than one category.

 

Writing Poems That Get Published

Kelly Whiddon

Want to write poems for a bigger audience than your mom and your cat? This session will tell you how to construct poems that sing off the page and have editors take notice.

 

IMG_1435Writing Stories That Will Sell

Nathan Edmondson

Want to write like it’s your job? Or have a job writing? All you need to do is throw some sex and gunplay into the plot, maybe blow a car or two up, and you’re halfway there. Or is there more to it?

 

 

 

BerniceLMcFadden_Eric Payne_slider

How to Survive 74 Rejections: an Interview with Bernice McFadden

National Bestselling author Bernice McFadden has written ten critically-acclaimed, award-winning bestselling novels, including the contemporary classics “Sugar” and “Glorious.” Her novel, “The Warmest December,” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and was lauded as “searing and expertly imagined” by Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison. A Brooklyn native and resident, Bernice’s latest novel is “Gathering of Waters,” a story that conjures the time, setting and heartbreak of the murder of Emmett Till. You can meet Bernice at this year’s Crossroads by registering here: CrossroadsWriters.splashthat.com

To learn more, please visit her website: www.bernicemcfadden.com.

You can also follow her on Twitter: @queenazsa

 

Q & A TIME – YOU’RE IN FOR A TREAT…
Bernice McFadden with fellow Akashic author Adam Mansbach at Crossroads 2012.

Bernice McFadden with fellow Akashic author Adam Mansbach at Crossroads 2012.

 

KATHY: If I’ve counted correctly, you’ve published 10 books as Bernice L. McFadden, plus you’ve got a piece in an anthology due out in December. You’ve also published 5 books under a pseudonym. That’s 16 books in 13 years. Sounds like you’re a disciplined writer. Can you describe your writing routine?

BERNICE: I just read your question out loud and was a little surprised. Wow, yes it has been sixteen books in thirteen years. Well fifteen novels and one novella. I’m amazed.

I don’t consider myself a disciplined writer. I think of myself as an emotional writer. I write when I’m feeling very sad or conflicted or extremely joyous. And I do not write everyday, at least not physically. The story is a constant in my head. I’m always thinking about the characters and their journey.

 

KATHY: In addition to creative writing, you’ve studied poetry and journalism. Do you write short stories and poems? Or any non-fiction?

BERNICE: I’ve written a few poems. Writing poetry is something I promised myself I would start doing more of. I started out as a short story writer. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would become a novelist! Way back when I first began to pursue publication all I had were short stories, but no one wanted to publish them. I’ve written non-fiction for The Washington Post and Crisis Magazine.

 

KATHY: Your first book, the award-winning novel, “Sugar,” was published in late 2000. It received 74 rejections before Dutton acquired it. What kept you going between rejection number 1 and rejection number 74?

BERNICE: “Sugar” was published In January of 2000. I call it my Millenium Baby. What kept me going was my faith in my gift that God had blessed me with. I couldn’t accept the fact that I had given so much of myself to these characters and their story for it to sit in a dusty desk drawer. That coupled with the promise I made to myself when I was nine years old, which was: I am going to be a published a writer when I grow up!

And besides, rejection builds character and resilience.

 

KATHY: Your second book, “The Warmest December,” also garnered awards and acclaim, including a nomination in 2001 for a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. What did that feel like and did the accolades make it easier or harder to sit and write book number three?

BERNICE: The Warmest December was the most difficult book I’ve ever written and that was for two reasons.

  1. It was a fictional account of my childhood
  2. The Sophomore Curse

For those who don’t know, the sophomore curse in the literary world is when your debut novel does exceptionally well and readers and critics alike expect more the same magic in your second offering – but BAM! It’s a flop because the writer was freaked out by the good fortune of the first and tried to write above and beyond his or hers own genius. Or something thing like that!

Honestly, I appreciated and was humbled by the accolades that poured in for TWD… but my greatest joy about that book was the glowing blurb I received from Toni Morrison. She is my absolute favorite writer and I continue to remain in awe of her work. Having Ms. Morrison in my corner, made it easy for me to continue writing without thinking about who was going to read my work or even like my work – because as far as I was concerned, if Ms. Morrison appreciated my work then all was well in my world.

 

KATHY: Fast forward twelve years. That list of honors and awards for your books is long and distinguished – Washington Post Best Fiction, multiple short-listings for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award (fiction). While you’re likely proud of all of them, are there any awards that are particularly meaningful to you?

BERNICE: All of the honors and awards I’ve received mean the world to me. I know how difficult it is to be recognized in this world of Art and Letters – I consider myself one of the lucky ones, so I am grateful.

 

KATHY: You write literary fiction as Bernice L. McFadden. You also write racy, humor as Geneva Holliday. What are the pros and cons of writing in two different genres, with two distinctly different voices?

BERNICE: I don’t think there is a con to it. Not everyone can write in two, three or five different voices. I’m blessed to have that ability and because of it I can engage a variety of different audiences.

 

KATHY: Your latest novel, “Gathering of Waters,” weaves a tapestry using fiction and American history. Was it daunting to re-imagine a real-life famous event – in this case, the tragic story of young Emmett Till?

BERNICE: Not at all. Historical Fiction comes naturally to me because I love history and love fiction and so to be able to meld the two, excites me. I love reimaging people, places and things that helped to shape the world we live in.

 

KATHY: Several of your novels – “Nowhere Is a Place,” “Glorious,” and “Gathering of Waters,” for example – have ties or setting in the South. As a storyteller, what draws you back to a particular setting?

BERNICE: I think I’m drawn to the Southern culture because that’s where my maternal family hails from and those are the people that I spent the most time with when I was a child. I think I honed my storytelling skills from my grandparents, great aunts and uncles. Also, I feel I owe my ancestors a debt and so happily honor their lives in my work.

 

KATHY: You’re a repeat presenter at Macon’s Crossroads Writers Conference. (It’s no secret that we love and admire you!) Can you share a highlight from last year’s conference?

BERNICE: I had a wonderful time at the conference. I met a lot of intriguing, warm and wonderful people. And was thrilled to be able to spend some time in a town filled with so much history, a town that my great-great grandparents called home after they were freed from the bondages of slavery. It doesn’t get any better than that!

 

KATHY: What are you looking forward to at this year’s Crossroads?

BERNICE: I’m looking forward to more of the same and of course the sweet tea!

 

KATHY: What projects have you been working on this past year?

BERNICE: Well, I’m working on a novel with a male main character. This is a first for me. So I’m excited about exploring this new territory.

 

KATHY: Last question: Here’s the opening lines from David McCord’s poem Books Fall Open: “Books fall open, you fall in, delighted where you’ve never been…” What’s the first book you remember falling in love with?

BERNICE: I think the first book I actually fell in love with was, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker.

 

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“Everything happens for a reason”: interview with Bernice McFadden

LEARN MORE FROM BERNICE MCFADDEN AT THE CROSSROADS WRITERS CONFERENCE

“Everything Happens for A Reason”: an interview with author Bernice McFadden by  Sherry L. Moore-Williamson

Sherry: I have to be honest, I have yet to read one of your novels however, sooo many people rave about them. Knowing this, what book should I read first?

Author Bernice McFadden is as real as they come, as our own Sherry Moore-Williamson found out first-hand. (photo by Eric Payne)

Bernice:  I believe in always starting at the beginning. I would read “Sugar” first.

S: That’s funny you suggest “Sugar.”  I read and heard that it was one of Alicia Key’s favorite books and she had mentioned it in an interview now on Youtube.

B: Yes, a girlfriend told me about the interview and what Alicia said. I didn’t even know.

S: I also listened to Academy Award-nominated actress Alfre Woodard, who is one of my faves, read an excerpt from Glorious, another novel you wrote. She commented on why she too loved this book.  “It’s so full that I immediately wanted to pick it back up and rifle through the pages again… They are historical people…who seem alive and real to you….”

B: I received a lot of literary awards for “Glorious.”

S: And “Glorious” was mentioned in O Magazine, May of 2011.  What affects did that have?

B: Well, it was good for publicity since it was compared to “The Help,” which was out at the same time. It took “Sugar” about nine years to finally get published by a commercial publisher.  It was a good ride until I got dropped after my sixth novel. I was told I was a “done as a writer.”

S: Wow! How did that feel and how did you feel when the rejection letters came for “Sugar?”

B: “Sugar” received 74 rejections—

S: —before it was finally picked up?

B: You gotta stay true to who you are and what you write. My new publisher allows this freedom. I learn from every experience I have had. I keep it positive.

We started talking about many other things.  To wrap up our chat, I wanted to talk about the mechanics of how she writes, what inspires her, and her Macon connection.

Sherry: Where do you write and when are you inspired to write?

Bernice: I used to write at night and in my home office. What I have found is I don’t write in the summer.  The days are longer and I want to get out and do things. When the days are shorter, I hibernate.  This time gives birth. You know, you get full and have to release.  The best time for inspiration is when I’m experiencing emotional turmoil.  Stories aren’t told, they unfold.

S: Nicely put. What is your feeling on self-publishing vs. commercial publishing?

B: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! There are also smaller publishing companies out there. Not just self-publishing or commercial.  They are smaller publishers who are more positive and want you to stay true to your genre of writing. They don’t want you to be something you’re not.

S: Okay, we gotta end this.  It was only supposed to be a 10 minute interview. Two more questions: What is your biggest pet peeve?

B: Tardiness! It drives me crazy!

S: I’m a Screenwriter therefore I have to ask if you envision one or more of your books made into movies? And which one first?

B: Sugar is optioned as a feature and Glorious would make a good mini-series but I was told, “nobody would watch it. It wouldn’t have an audience.”

S: From what I hear about the theme of the novel and not being biased, there are some successful mini-series already made similar to it which had huge audiences.

B: Uh-huh.

S: Middle Georgia residents may or may not know about your ties to Macon. What or who is it? And have you ever visited?

B: My great-great grandfather was the founder and preacher at First Baptist Church of Macon; and yes, I have visited Macon before and have relatives who live there now.

Of course, we did not end the call there but for the sake of space and not wanting to reveal too much about Ms. McFadden, which she will share when she’s here, I will stop now. Her Historical fiction novels “breathe life back into memory” and might I add breathe life back in to history.

When she comes to the conference please, take the time to get to know her.  She is as “real,” encouraging and inspiring as anyone I have ever spoken.  This successful author has not let her 13-plus, published works cause her to forget who she is and her novels continue to reveal her ancestry and ethnic history with a touch of embellishment. One of her last comments was:

“ I like me and I have no regrets because I know everything happens for a reason.”