Tag Archives: tips


Delilah S Dawson: The advice would I give myself if I could go back in time…

We tasked the awesome and cool Delilah S. Dawson with applying her ample imagination to this question: If you could go back in time to the very start of your writing career, what advice would you give yourself?

Considering how far this Pocket/Simon & Schuster published author of “Wicked as They Come” and associated editor for CoolMomPicks.com has come, we thought it was a perfect question to have her answer.

When you come to the conference, you’ll be treated to more of Delilah’s insight (she may or may not wave a cupcake). Specifically, she’s going to speak on being “shipwrecked” as a writer and what to do with yourself while you’re waiting on your writing ship to come.

Until then… enjoy!



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


“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.”

Tony Grooms

Tony Grooms: “The Role of Luck”

Unfortunately, Tony Grooms can’t join us this year so, as we share the good news that novelist Ravi Howard will come down for the weekend, we’re kicking off the first of our audio clips from Crossroads 2011 with Tony disabusing the room of this myth:  If you work hard enough, publishing will happen.

“It isn’t true. I think a lot of people work very hard, are very good writers, who have tremendous things to say to our society, and yet are ignored through conventional publishing. So in some ways, I am grateful for the Internet because, finally, it isn’t so much about making money–not for literary writers, at least– as it is about having readers.”


The lesson here? There are several perhaps, but again, we find ourselves fixated on THE JOURNEY of writing instead of the destination, which is out of our control. Tony also speaks a little about the role of luck, re-emphasizing the fact that we are not in absolute control of our destiny or destination.

But what a writer can control is their focus and dedication to the journey, the craft, the art–whatever you want to call it. That’s one reason we call Crossroads a conference for creative people. Sure, we want our registrants to go on to major book deals but what we want more is for you all to lose yourself in the work, to embrace being a writer, to create more and better work.

Check out the rest of what Tony has to say in this clip!

Annabelle Carr is the editor of Savannah Magazine.

Interview with editor Annabelle Carr

Editor Annabelle Carr will be at the first ever Freelancers Summit, October 5 in Macon

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love the moment when I finally know what I’m writing about—the heart of the story—and I get this huge surge of energy. It’s almost worth the sensory depravation required to sit down and write in the first place. The sooner I “see” the story, the better. Sometimes I have to write the whole story or article first and I finally“get it” on the last line. Then I know I’m in for a big edit. So I’ve developed tools for “getting it” sooner, because magazine deadlines are unforgiving.

In order to edit, the same thing has to happen. You have to see the heart of the piece. It’s like striking a vein of gold. Once you find it, you can follow it and do good, honest work.

What do you look for most when hiring staff writers and freelancers?

I look for people who can put me, the reader, right into the story. It’s all about engaging the senses and bringing the page to life. Once I find someone who can do that, I look for structure and organization. I need someone who can build a story arc quickly and find the meaning in things that other people can’t see. But what really makes a writer is his or her ear. Good prose sings. It has pitch, timbre and rhythm.


What’s the best way to pitch a story, and what’s the most common mistake freelancers make?

Don’t pitch a story. Pitch four. Dedicate a couple of lines to each idea, and write them in the voice of the magazine. Trying to sell a story is like playing roulette. What are the odds your single pitch is going to hit me on a day when I need exactly that story? It’s much more effective to introduce yourself to the editor as someone with many great story ideas, someone reliable who gets the voice and intent of the magazine. Remember: an editor is always looking for people with solutions to her problems. I have a lot more to say about this at Crossroads!

In addition to your magazine work, what other sorts of writing do you do?

I write very short fiction. I’m working on making my pieces longer, but too many years of editing have made me terrified of the extraneous. I’m fascinated by characters who appear to be broken or trapped but attempt to escape using whatever they find lying around. I guess you could call it emotional “MacGyver-ing.” I think it’s interesting that a move from despair to anger is a move in the right direction, because it’s a step closer to empowerment. I’m also working on a novel that plays with the same themes.

What’s the best piece of advice someone has given you about writing?

At graduation for my MFA, novelist A.J. Verdelle was generous enough to take me aside and tell me, “Even if you think you don’t have time or energy to write every day, read every day. You can stay part of the writing world by reading. That way, you’ll find that you have to write, so you’ll make time.” As a single, working parent, I don’t know what I’d have done without that advice. Even though I write and edit consumer nonfiction all day, I have to make time to read (and hopefully write) literary fiction at night.