Saturday, March 30, 2019

Writers4Higher congratulates Pat Stanford

Welcome back, Pat! Tell us a little about your new book.

I have been writing poetry practically as long as I could first hold a pencil, and have other poems published in several anthologies. This is my first attempt at publishing a whole bunch of them at the same time.

My mother had several of those little clothbound write-in books filled with her poems. They were mostly simple little ditties, but she still had fun with them and wrote them, matching the ink color to the color of the cover. That is what poetry is to me—just having a bit of fun with words. I never laid claim to being a “serious” poet and I doubt mine are “for the ages” yet there are a few gems here, so say friends.

Much of my poetry rhymes because I like the added challenge, and the fact that many of them came to me as songs back when I could still play the guitar. (Lopping off a fingertip stopped my career as a troubadour.) Most appear in quatrains, couplets, or similar formats, because that is the influence that most stuck with me, although I have been stretched a little by several local poetry groups where we explored new and obscure forms. I most like writing “off the cuff” as we sometimes do in our meetings, but I always go back and “mess with them” some more, simply because I can’t help myself.

Here, I present thoughts on many topics written throughout my “seasons” of life. Some thoughts have changed along with those seasons and I may no longer embrace what was written in the same way. Rather than destroy some poems, I either left them totally alone to remind me how far I have progressed since they were first conceived or have edited them to be more contemporary.

1.   Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.

      While I was born in Philadelphia, my farming family moved to Delray Beach, Florida when I was one, looking for year-round growing seasons. I lived there until a brief stint in the Air Force took me to California.

I graduated Florida State University with a Secondary Education, which was never used for its intended purpose.

I won second place in the 2004 Seven Hills Contest with my short story, Divorce Sale, and am working on other short stories. Fixing Boo Boo is my first novel length work, which won gold for Florida non Fiction at Florida Authors and Publishers Association Presidents Awards in 2017.

After being introduced to growing roses by my father, I created my own rose garden and frequently photograph them to share in social media. I served as President of the Tallahassee Area Rose Society and am a bronze medal recipient with the national organization, the American Rose Society.

I live in Tallahassee, Florida with my husband, a rambunctious puppy and a quirky cat.

2.   Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?

I began a fiction set in Mongolia work over ten years ago, but it got bogged down in research, so I put it in a drawer. I now think I am better equipped to finish writing it. The characters are talking to me again after being shoved to the back of the room several times. I hope they will get their chance to be heard in the near future.

Aside from gathering up more poetry for a possible second volume, I am working on a second book about the many types of brain Injury. I’ve met a lot of people who talk to me at festivals and fairs and they have a different story to tell. I interviewed and transcribed over 20 stories and now the real work begins. To make their story interesting and compelling to a casual reader looking for general information. To make them stop and actually think about the stories being real people whose lives were interrupted.
Then maybe a sequel to the Mongolia story. I am open to the muses!

3.   How do you use your talents/time to help others?

With the publishing of Fixing Boo Boo, I begin a whole new chapter of helping people who are not disabled understand what they don’t understand. I have partnered with the Brain Injury Association of Florida and the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association in order to help them in their annual public awareness events and have information at my signing events to help people with questions on disability.  

In my role as President of the Tallahassee Writers Association, I try to encourage new and timid writers to ask the tough questions that will help them become better writers. I also love to see newly published writers in their first experience at the Downtown Marketplace, a chance to be out and talking about their work.

Author Website: 


Rhett DeVane, blogmaster

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Writers4Higher Congratulates Scott Archer Jones

Writers4Higher Congratulates 
author Scott Archer Jones

 Hi Scott. Welcome back. Tell us about your latest project.

Thanks for having me on the blog again, this time to talk about And Throw Away The Skins.

The first question your readers will ask is why they should want to read this particular book.  This is a story of personal triumph, and it takes place in a beautiful place. Its themes include loving that-which-will-kill-you, religion, the Afghanistan war and how it comes home, scars, bankruptcy, infidelity, and a village Santa Eulalia de Mérida. Its setting is aggressively blue-collar and poverty bound–true to New Mexico in general. Its jumping off point is the Church of a Thousand Pews and its finish is in a mountaintop with a blizzard coming in.

And then, I guess, the reader will want to know something of the story shape. The protagonist, Bec Robertson, is starting over. She's broke, recovering from breast cancer, and lives in a rundown cabin in northern New Mexico. Her husband is deployed in Afghanistan and can't stand to touch her. Her villagers are mountain-crazy and take advantage of her good nature, and her hawk Amelia can't keep up with the mice. She lives next door to a dubious veterans' center. As if she hasn't invented enough problems for herself, she has a love/hate connection with an unstable Marine. Being Bec is tough–but she lives under the numinous skies of New Mexico.

All books have a back story, and this one began with a character invented for a short story. The protagonist Bec is named after a famous New Yorker/New Mexican, Rebecca Salsbury James, who rode a motorcycle and taught Georgia O'Keeffe to drive. The story kept growing to fit my Bec's personality. Bec let me know in a hurry that she was opinionated, strong, and completely unsentimental. From that point, I just caused her trouble for four years, and then–bang–we had a book.

Readers also might want to know something about the author. Rest assured, I'm not a serial killer and I don't really believe in Atlantis. The book is dedicated to our Labrador who passed as we were working on final galleys, so I can demonstrate a soft and squishy side. I'm currently trapped within my sixth novel and first novella up here in New Mexico's mountains, after stints in the Netherlands, Scotland, and Norway–plus less exotic locations.  I worked for a power company, grocers, a lumberyard, an energy company (for a very long time), and a winery. I'm currently the treasurer of Shuter Library of Angel Fire, a private 501.C3, and desperately need your money to keep the doors open.

You can get the book at

Or at my author page on Amazon: Scott Archer Jones Amazon Author Page

We even offer the book in Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, and Smashwords.

Thank you, Scott! Writers4Higher wishes you success as you continue your writing career.

Rhett DeVane
blogmaster and head cheerleader for W4H

Friday, September 21, 2018

Writers4Higher Pays Tribute to Piggy the Muse Cat

Writers4Higher Pays Tribute To Piggy
The Muse Cat

If you are an animal lover as I am, you understand two basic truths: all pets are special, and most are more noble than the majority of humans. Every now and then, one particular critter shares your life, one that can practically read your mind, one that digs deep into your heart and shares your spirit.

Such was my muse cat, Piggy.

He came to our home at eight weeks of age, a fuzz ball, gray tabby born in a lumber mill. The name we provided the vet was Sisko, but he rapidly outgrew that title. For the next seventeen years, he answered to Piggy, based on the fact he never met a food bowl he didn’t love. One of his kitten pictures shows him sprawled across a pie tin half-filled with kibble, face down, satiated, and fast asleep. I posted that picture on Facebook years ago, and it traveled around the globe. A while back, I found Piggy in that full-on face plant pose, nestled among other snapshots of equally funny animals. The title of the slideshow compilation: Have you ever been so tired that . . . ?

Piggy was no ordinary cat. Even folks who normally didn’t warm to felines liked him. He came when called, drank from the bathroom sink, ate nearly every human food allowed, carried on animated conversations, and was happiest when he was close to his people. I wrote thousands of words with him reclining next to the laptop, watching me with huge green eyes, commenting every so often.

In winter, he doubled as a toasty lap cover during TV time and a pillow hog in the night hours. Did I mention he was an alarm clock? Oh yes. When he was young, and could still hear the coffeemaker crank up, he initiated a daily, pacing meow-a-thon that nothing could thwart. In his senior years, when age diminished his abilities, he slept in the threshold to the kitchen so he wouldn’t miss the end triple-beep of the Cuisinart. He saved energy enough to hop onto the bed to awaken the lazy two-legged creatures. Humans do serve a function, you see. They possess opposable thumbs for opening cans: vital, since no edible vermin or birds share the interior of the house.

For the past two years, Piggy battled failing kidneys and pancreatitis. Aided by the kindest veterinarian anyone could wish for, Piggy pushed away from the Reaper time after time, with a fierce determination to live.

But a guy gets tired. And he did.

On his last day, Piggy managed to pad down the hall, meow the alarm, and meet us in the kitchen. But he ate only one bite. And, as he had for the past three days, he barely touched his food and did not drink.

This past Wednesday, on a morning as ordinary as any, we had our final chat. I am not sure what he said, as I am a mere human who can’t decipher his language as well as he could mine, but I believe it was last-minute instructions on how to carry forward without him. Along with the other felines and canines that shared this earthly passage, he will be waiting, and it will only be the swish of a furry tail before we meet again.

Godspeed, Piggy, sir. You were a good cat, a faithful muse, and one heck of a friend.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Writers4Higher Welcomes Cameron J. Quinn

Writers4Higher features
Cameron J Quinn

Hi, Cameron. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!

 1.     Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.

    I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire. You know the play "Our Town"? It's based on the place I grew up. Seriously. And a lot of the people there are more interested in making sure your historic home is painted the proper shade of white and keeping out drive-throughs than getting to know their neighbors.     
    It was a happy place to grow up (mostly). Whether it was because of the lack of McDonald's or in spite of it, I'll let you decide. As my dad warred with his neighbor, the town zoning board member, about whether or not he could run a scrap metal yard out of his house I was playing in the woods, making up stories, and playing with my three older siblings. This place inspired a lot of my writing. It is truly a beautiful and magical place to grow up with big fields, enormous pines, and mountains on the horizon where ever you turn.    
    My mom is the reason I love reading and books. And the reason I started writing. She used to write these stories for children about a little frog. I literally remember nothing about the frog. I remember sitting in the living room by the computer completely captivated by this story and the woman who'd created it. She was my mother. I've been obsessed with stories ever since. Writing my first series of books in first grade. And attempting a few novels in high school. I always received good feedback for my short stories but I wanted to write a book.     
    When I met V.S. Holmes (Author of the Reforged Series and The Nel Bently Books) and we became close I never imagined we'd end up where we are.    
    After high school, I got married and followed my husband to Camp Le Jeune North Carolina where he was a machine gunner in the Marines. V went to college in Canada, we kept in touch but it was mostly out of sight out of mind. Then, after I had my first child, she reached out to me. "Remember that book I was writing? I finished it" I'd also been working on my book so I offered to exchange first chapters. When I got the email I was incredibly excited. When I finished reading it I was horrified. She'd written these beautiful passages and a compelling story and I'd just sent her a bunch of drivel! She inspired me to keep going and keep honing my craft. And never called me out on the crap I sent her. (Her next chapter was not so polished so I felt better about sending her pieces).    
    Fast forward a few years, I have three kids, have published 7 books (a serial The Starsboro Chronicles), V has published 5 and we own and operate a publishing company.     
    My books are all based on myths and legends. Two things I am absolutely fascinated with. (Except the one that's inspired by serial killers. I wanted to be in the FBI prior to having kids).

    2.     Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?

    On the open ocean. My husband and I have a had a rough go of it. Not that I have a problem with that, adversity helps you grow, but when we decided to shift our focus from living in a house to buying a boat, life's possibilities truly opened up. Traveling with three kids is expensive and well... horrible. But, if we live on a boat, it costs about $25k a year and we get to go where ever the wind takes us.     
    But, you need ways to make passive income. That's where online business and books come into the equation. I write because I love to, but if I can finance the majority of our living expenses with the press and my books, as I write from the trampoline of our Catamaran (they are pretty expensive don't be thinking you can get a Cat for $25K lol that's living and travel expenses) then I will be living the life.

    3.     How do you use your talents/time to help others?

    I love marketing. Especially book marketing because it's truly easy to get behind the product. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to sell something that's really not worth it. You feel gross and just want to run and hide in a dark corner somewhere. Books are different. Working with an author and their books is like working with a puzzle. You need to take their personality and preferences and figure out how to best showcase their talent and their work. Sometimes it's a battle. All authors say they want to sell books but most authors are also scared. Scared that their book isn't worth reading, or scared of rejection and bad reviews. It's sad when they let that fear control them. I had the opposite problem with my first book. I just wanted to get it out there and I didn't understand how editors worked. I thought they were the typo police. The editor I hired for that, left a ton of typos and I had to hire another. And she helped me with the story a bit and I thought all was well but I was rarely seeing sell through. So after a lot of contemplation, I pulled it. And I put it through The Story Grid. And that made all the difference. But I'm not the norm. If you had a structural edit from a true professional, you revised and you went through the steps, your book is worth reading. So swallow your fear, read the one-star reviews of your favorite books, and let's do this thing.     
    I also have a podcast (The Amphibian Press Podcast) where I help readers find authors and vice versa through author interviews and books reviews.  And I have a blog for authors to help them navigate today's publishing challenges.     
    And last (for now) I'm working with a local high school to create a workshop for students so they can see the benefits of being a writer. It's not true anymore that you can't make a living from your writing. So, I teach them different exercises and then at the end, we compile and anthology and I publish it. This is the first year but I'm hopeful about the prospects.

Would you like to find Cameron?
Check out the links to this talented author:

Be sure to visit the Writers4Higher Market! We have gear for the writer in you.

Rhett DeVane
Fiction with a Southern Twist

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Writers4Higher welcomes singer/songwriter Deanna Squeaky Miller

Welcome, Deanna. 

This time, Writers4Higher takes a slightly different direction, highlighting the artistic writing and singing talent of Deanna Squeaky Miller.

Writing and giving back are the backbone of so many artistic endeavors. Enjoy learning a bit about his multi-talented entertainer! 

Tell me about yourself. Your songs(s), your life, your inspiration.

I am a Tallahassee native. My city is my living, and I love it! Family, friends, community, and music is right here for me. Everything here inspires my art as a singer, songwriter, and performer. I truly believe God is Love and we should show love to one another through our actions, and words. My lyrics come from my heart. Some people see it as being too positive, but I think there’s enough negative music adding fuel to our burning fires. Spiritual soul does the opposite, uplifting and inspiring the listener to believe in the power of Love. So, when they hear “Give to You Love”, “Keep On Praying”, and “Good Medicine” the message is about gratitude and living in love.

Where do you see your singing career taking you in the future?
Well, it’s only been three years as an indie artist and this journey has opened some awesome doors. I’ve been blessed to share the stage with artists/musicians like Royce Lovett, Tim Guitargoodness Clark, Cody ChesnuTT, Isabel Davis, D Swint and international opera singer Mr. Curtis Rayam, Jr. ,to name a few, and many others I highly admire.

I see myself collaborating and writing with some big names in the music industry within five years, and want to do some touring , after I release my first full album. Hopefully that will be this year! It’s not an easy thing.... putting an album together. I am learning as much as I can about the art of singing, too.....I just want to be a better Deanna Squeaky Miller in every new opportunity presented to sing for the people!

How do you use your talents/time to help others?

Serving through singing means everything to me! That’s my purpose and I understand what is required of me to fulfill it! You have to have an unselfish mindset to serve, and I  thank God that comes easy for me.

I perform at fundraisers and community events all the time. I mean to witness the joy on individuals’ faces, you know are in need of a moment to forget about their problems just gives me a sense of purpose! I love people and I love to serve. That’s why I call my music “love ministry”. It’s all about showering love in action through music to inspire and heal our community.

Wish to listen to a bit of Squeaky's magic voice? Tune into her YouTube channel or join her on Facebook:

Thank you, Deanna. Best of luck and love to you and your singing career.
Rhett DeVane, blogmaster
Southern Fiction author

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Writers4Higher congratulates Randy Wayne White

Congratulations to our Writers4Higher

author and friend 

Randy Wayne White

Writers4Higher has featured the author Randy Wayne White in the past. Can't say enough good things about this fellow. He's back with another wacky Doc Ford Novel, Caribbean Rim.

Doc Ford fans, hold onto your sunshades and make sure your beverage of choice is fresh. Randy Wayne White is ready to take you to the wild, reckless, non-touristy Caribbean, the side cruise ships don't count into their shore excursions. Murder, sunken treasure, pirates, and general mayhem add to the quirky cast of characters.

Here's his bio:

Randy Wayne White is a New York Times best selling author of thirty-six novels, four collections of non-fiction, a cookbook, The Ultimate Tarpon Book (with Carlene Brennan) and a PBS documentary, Gift of the Game, which won Best of Show at the internationally respected Woods Hole Film Festival.  He is also an Editor At Large for OUTSIDE MAGAZINE, which was founded by ROLLING STONE.

Caribbean Rim is the 25th book in his highly acclaimed series about Florida Marine Biologist, Doc Ford. Previous titles have enjoyed lengthy stays on best seller lists such as The New York Times, U.S.A. Today, the Washington Post and the L.A. Times. More than one million copies of the Doc Ford novels are in print.

White is also partners in three popular Florida restaurants named after his protagonist: Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grilles.

His series of novels about fishing guide Hannah Smith has also received critical acclaim. HAUNTED, the third in the Hannah series, and DECEIVED, were both awarded the Florida Gold Medal for General Fiction -- the only time in history when an author, or consecutive books in a series, have won this prestigious award. White was especially delighted because Hannah had to beat out his Doc Ford novels to win.

Over the last decade, all of the Doc Ford and Hannah Smith novels have appeared on the New York Times and other best sellers lists, and are wildly popular around the nation. White's novel, SANIBEL FLATS, was chosen by the American Independent Mystery Booksellers Association as one of the Hundred Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century.

In 2012, Randy was honored by the Florida Historical Society as a Literary Legend. He has been awarded the Conch Republic Prize for Literature, along with such notables as John Cheever, Peter Matthiessen, Jim Harrison, and Thomas McGuane. He also won the John D. MacDonald Award for Literary Excellence, as have Carl Hiaasen, and Thomas Cochran.  He is one of only five Editors at Large for Outside Magazine, along with Jon Krakauer, David Quamman and Tim Cahill, and was a contributing editor and columnist for Men's Journal and National Geographic Adventurer.  In 2009, Randy was elected an American Fellow by The Explorers Club, New York City.  In 2013 Gulfshore Life Magazine honored him as Man of the Year.

Randy is also active in Florida civic affairs. He spent four years serving on the Florida Judicial Nominating Commission, and also four years on the Florida Bar Association Grievance Committee,  appointed by the Florida Bar.  He was also a co-founder of Big Brothers in South Florida.

Randy was a light tackle fishing guide at Tarpon Bay Marina, Sanibel Island for 13-years, did more than 3,000 charters, and draws heavily on those experiences for his novels about marine biologist Doc Ford and his quirky pals at Dinkin's Bay.  In 2003, he became one of the founding partners in Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille, with restaurants on Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, and soon to be South Seas Resort, Captiva Island.

Randy and his wife, singer/songwriter Wendy Webb, live on Sanibel, where he enjoys paddle surfing and hanging out with old baseball buddies.

I don't know about you, but I gave up counting the times "also" appeared in his official bio. Goodness!

Kudos to you, Sir, from the Writers4Higher family. We wish you the very best on this new novel.

Here's where you can find info about Randy Wayne White:



Rhett DeVane
Southern fiction author

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Writers4Higher features author and blog master Darrell Laurant

 Hi Darrell. Welcome to Writers4Higher.
Tell us about yourself.

I am something of a hybrid creature, geographically speaking. While I lived in Syracuse, NY from third grade through high school, I was born in Sanford, NC, and lived in Atlanta and New Orleans early on.  Later, I went to college just outside Charlotte (Belmont Abbey College) and worked for newspapers in Columbia, Charleston and Lynchburg, VA. Thus, I have most of the iconic southern cities checked off.  Moreover, I spent several childhood summers with my grandmother in Raleigh, NC. 

The result is, I have always been able to philosophically straddle the Mason-Dixon Line, with a keen sense of the peculiarities of both northerners and southerners.

Most of my writing career has been in the newspaper business, including 36 years with the News & Advance in Lynchburg, VA. By the time I retired in 2013, I had written over 6,000 columns and another 4,000 or so feature articles for that paper, and I still freelance for them on a regular basis although my wife, my 93-year-old mother and I now live in Lake George, NY.

Remaining in one place that long was highly unusual, since journalism is normally a nomadic profession.  I did have offers from larger papers, but by then I had become very much part of the Central Virginia community and didn't want to uproot our two children. Later, of course, they uprooted themselves, my son settling in Colorado and my daughter moving to Ohio.

It pains me greatly when I hear people lump together all the myriad and diverse newspapers, TV stations, radio programs and Websites into "The Media," as if we all take our marching orders from the same source. I, too, have issues with the way news is often presented, especially on television, but I can also say that in several decades with the News & Advance, I very rarely saw any political or social agenda lurking within a news story. Only twice in 30-plus years did I hear of one of our writers actually making up facts, and both of those people were fired.

As a columnist, my job was primarily to write stories that fit somewhere into that vague but rich  territory between "hard news" and editorials. Sometimes I expressed my personal opinion, other times I just stuck to the facts. I made it a point, whenever I could, to write about people just because they were interesting, not because they had necessarily done anything "newsworthy" in the usual sense.

Among the things I'm proudest of are starting a campaign to name a local expressway after Desmond Doss (a Lynchburg man who was the only conscientious objector ever given the Medal of Honor), pushing for funds to put an elevator in a three-story YWCA residence, and convincing a regional bank to forgive a debt owed by a man who had been in a coma for several months with a head injury (they were going to foreclose on his house).

Before I beat readers over the head with my opinion, though, I always made it a point to hear both sides of any issue. Sometimes, doing that changed my mind.

For the most part, my newspaper let me pick what I wanted to write about. Although I worked in a relatively small community, I was able to cover two national political conventions (including driving cross-country to San Francisco in 1984 and writing columns along the way), the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, a lengthy and contentious coal strike, the Miss America pageant, the NCAA basketball Final Four, Pope John Paul II's visit to Columbia, SC, and any number of stories revolving around the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Lynchburg's best-known citizen. I covered Lynchburg-related stories in Guatemala and the Czech Republic.

Since retiring, I have started a blog called "Snowflakes in a Blizzard" ( which I describe as a "unique, author-friendly and absolutely free book marketing project." Go there, and you'll see what it's about.

While with the newspaper, I always tried to engage in at least one community-oriented program at a time. Over the years, I volunteered for a soup kitchen, a suicide hotline, a home for recovering alcoholics and a rural arts center.  "Snowflakes in a Blizzard" is a continuation of that. All of these activities have paid me back far more than the time I expended.

My writing career has been varied, if not necessarily wildly successful. I quit my Charleston newspaper job to start a statewide sports magazine that went broke after two years. I've published five books, and just finished my second novel, titled "The Last Supper League." Several more books are rattling around in my head, anxious to be released.

We moved to Lake George to take care of my Mom, who has dementia. This has taught us patience, never a bad thing.

My wife Gail is an artist. We've been married for 45 years and we complement each other beautifully.

Where to find Darrell Laurant:

Best to you, Darrell!

Rhett DeVane
Southern fiction author and blog master

Writers4Higher congratulates Pat Stanford

Welcome back, Pat! Tell us a little about your new book. I have been writing poetry practically as long as I could first hold a pe...