The Magic City

The Magic City

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's Wine O'Clock Somewhere

Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.
Ernest Hemingway
Death in the Afternoon

The virtue of the grape (and chocolate, but that is another post) is often extolled by writers. This got me to wondering, what is your favorite wine and why? For me, there is no competition for sparkling wine. Napoleon said it best, "Champagne! In victory, one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.”  Although, a close second is red wine - any kind will do.  Oh, but let us not forget our good friend white wine.  About a year ago I learned that Pinot Grigio left in the freezer makes an amazing wine slushy. But, I digress.  

So, please share your favorite wine or wine story with me.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Video Q & A with Author Suzanne Johnson

This video features excerpts from author Suzanne Johnson's Q&A at the July 2012 Southern Magic meeting.  She starts off with a tough question - what is the difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Enjoy!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Feeling Good

In honor of a new month and it being Friday!  Feeling Good :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reviewing Reviews

How many times has the wise Laura Hayden cautioned, "Friends don't let friends read reviews."  Following that advice, who does read reviews? 

Don't worry, this isn't a post ranting about evil reviews.  Rather, I'm interested in starting a discussion about the benefit (or harm) that comes from reviews.  Without a doubt, a positive review from a major publication can generate good buzz for a book, but what benefit do reviews really serve?  Who is reading them?

My mother is a voracious reader.  She finds new books based on librarian recommendations and word of mouth from her friends.  The same is true of most of my lawyer friends.  When I started rattling off book review sites and asking them if they read reviews on Amazon/Barnes & Noble, they laughed, patted me on the head and told me I needed to leave work at an earlier hour because I was frying my brain.  In comparison, most of my writer friends devour blogger reviews, Goodreads reviews, etc. like the words were the very air they breathe.  Do only writers care about reviews?  I'd love to hear your review of reviews.  Do you have any favorite sites or trusted sources? 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Theme Music - Part 2 - Play List for Spellbound: A Magic City Mysery

As promised, here is the playlist for Spellbound.  I am working on my next playlist (i.e. procrastinating).  I would love for you to share your playlist in the comments.
Uprising by Muse

The Highwayman by Loreena McKennitt

Mesmerizing by Liz Phair

Numb by Linkin Park

Never Saw It Coming by The Jesus & Mary Chain

Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap

#1 Crush by Garbage

My Immortal by Evanescence

Lullabye by Concrete Blonde

Where Do I Begin by The Chemical Brothers

Song for Whoever by The Beautiful South

The Stolen Child by Loreena McKennitt

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Theme Music - Part One

In a very entertaining (wicked is probably a more apt adjective) Twitter chat with M.V. Freeman and Katherine Bone the subject of theme music for our WIPs came up.  The one song that runs throughout mine is Uprising by Muse, so I thought I'd share:

I'll be back over the weekend to post my playlist.  In the meantime, I'd love to know what one song or songs would be the theme for your latest work.  Baby needs to load up her iPod!  Post a comment (with your email address), and I'll select one winner for a $10 iTunes gift card.  I'll announce the winner in the comment thread by Sunday morning.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Ghost of a Chance

I love ghost stories, especially Southern ghost stories.  My elementary school librarian told my mother I used to check out Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey by Kathryn Tucker Windham at least once a month.  To this day, when I go to Montgomery, I drive by Huntingdon College and remember the tale of the Red Lady, and you bet your sweet bippy every time I have court in Pickens County, I swing by the old courthouse to take a peek at the "face in the courthouse window."

What is your favorite ghost story?  Share it with me. One commenter will win a copy of SUMMER GOTHIC, a collection of summertime ghost stories from Alabama authors (I was fortunate enough to help with the editorial process - it is a great anthology if I say so myself).  The book includes stories from Suzanne Johnson, Margaret Fenton and loads of other great Alabama authors.  I will announce the winner  in the comment section on April 11. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Pitch Is Back: How to Pitch Your Book to an Agent or Editor

Published authors Lexi George and Carla Swafford took pity on lowly unpublished me and included me in a workshop on how to pitch an agent or editor.  Not to toot our horn (TOOT TOOT), but the workshop was great!  Here are some of the highlights:

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I am revising and finalizing my query letter.  In the last month, I attended two outstanding programs on queries.  Both convinced me my letter needed a major overhaul.  It is almost there. I can feel it. I have resolved to let it sit for a week before giving it a final review then loosing it on the world.

In the meantime, I wanted to share highlights of one of the programs I attended.  Here are some highlights of young adult author Lisa Dunick's query presentation at the Birmingham RWA chapter's meeting.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Taste of the Magic City

I love this video that features great shots from around the Magic City.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Day the Supreme Court Became Self Aware

On this day (February 24) in 1803, the judicial equivalent of Skynet becoming self aware occurred in the landmark case of Marbury v Madison.  This was when the Supreme Court recognized it had the power to declare a law unconstitutional. The court became aware of its own power. At that moment, the judiciary went from being the weakest, to arguably, the most powerful branch of government.

In recognition of that monumental event, I wanted to remind everyone who writes of the great power they have with their words. The power to create, destroy, inspire and define a moment in time belongs to  writers. Become self aware and use that power.

For all of the high school Lincoln-Douglas debate veterans out there, I leave you with a quote from the proponent of unlimited goods, Mortimer J. Adler, "In the case of good books, the point is not how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Free Tech for Writers

While the issue of whether technology makes our writing lives easier is up for debate (when your motherboard departs this world and takes with it several months of work, you will understand), there is a lot of great free, or almost free, technology out there to help writers. I wanted to use this post as a chance to compile a list of helpful resources.

Editing and Writing

AutoCrit - The AutoCrit Editing Wizard is an instant book editor that helps identify problems (word echoes, grammar, etc.) in work you upload. There is a limited free version. The more functional versions require an annual fee.

 yWriter - Free writing software for writers made by writers (in the spirit of full disclosure, I am a Scrivener devotee, but my friend Karen loves yWriter - she says it is better than Girl Scout cookies - mighty high praise). 

 Elements of Style - No, you didn't escape this when you left your formal education behind. It is available online so your high school English teacher doesn't cringe when she reads your masterpiece. 

Motivation and Creativity 

Dr. Wicked's Write or Die - Southern Magic goddesses Jennifer Echols and Naima Simone extol the virtues of this motivational tool that punishes its users with horrible noises, blood dripping from the screen and the munching of written words if you stop writing for too long. The online version is free, but there is a cheap download that you can use when you are sans internet. I LOVE Write or Die. This is a NaNoWriMo must. 

Written? Kitten! - Yes, I am the crazy cat lady, so this works well for me. This tool gives you a blank page where you can type. Every time you cross a milestone (100, 200, 500 and 1000-word settings are available), you are rewarded with a warm fuzzy kitten picture. Awwwwww :) 

XMind - This is a free brainstorming tool that is easy to install and use. 

One Word - One word writing prompts. 

The Emotion Thesaurus - I joke that my characters must be perpetually dizzy and have reflux issues based on the way I describe emotions. I have saved these poor souls from tortured futures by using this site to better describe their emotions. 

Plotting - This is a digital version of 3X5 cards. Use it to layout your story and plot lines. It is great for collaborating on stories and planning write-ins. 

Blake Snyder's Save the Cat Beat Sheet - Several Southern Magic members (even the pantsers) swear by the Save the Cat method and the beat sheet for plotting a story. 


National Geographic's What's in a Surname - This is a fun tool to identify common surnames in the geographic area of the US where you story is set. 

University of Wisconsin's Dictionary of Regional English - This helps ou keep your dialogue authentic. It places words and phrases in times and locations. 

Google Earth - A must if you are setting your story in an area you don't live. 

This list is just a start. Please post your favorite resources in the comments. I'll edit and modify this post in a few days so you can bookmark it and have it available for future writing needs.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Greystone Housewife

I love this video featuring my high school friend Holly. Shhh . . . keep it a secret, but this video inspired a minor character in my WIP.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Christy Reece on Valentine's Day

Hey everyone! Check out my friend, and NYT Bestseller, Christy Reece. She is an amazing author (and a local girl :)). She was on tv recently serving as a Valentine's Day expert. Watch this clip, then run out to buy her books (buy local, I always say!).