Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry and Happy whatever you celebrate....from Writers4Higher

The year's-end holiday in my family revolves around the celebration of Christmas. Wrapping gifts with the involvement of a pet (usually a cat, as the dogs historically only got involved if food was involved), a bit of baking, seeing family and friends, and southern comfort food. Okay, so the traffic makes me a little more nutso than usual, but I do get a kick from the random discussions with complete strangers in the toy aisle. This year, a few of us gathered around a robotic dinosaur that could be "taught to belch and fart." Wow. Sometimes there truly are no words. :)

I am so very fortunate. Period. In all ways. In regards to the Writers4Higher blog, I have been impressed by the posts of my fellow authors and others affiliated with this writers' life. 

The media would have us believe that people are inherently evil, intent on destruction. This blog confirms the opposite: a far greater number of humans are kind, willing to give their time and gifts to uplift, sustain, and inspire. 

I thank you all for that. We are staging our own quiet version of a revolution.

May you have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate. Allow yourself to take a deep breath and enjoy.

See you all in January, with more talented authors and writer-ly folks.

Rhett DeVane
southern fiction author and blogmaster 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Writers4Higher features author Jeff Weddle

Hi Jeff. Welcome to Writers4Higher.

First of all...perfect shirt!

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

I am a native Kentuckian living in Alabama. My family has been here for eleven years and we love it. My day job is teaching in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama. I am a pretty average guy. Wife. Son and daughter. Cat. Dog. I practice Tae Kwon Do, as do both of my kids. I also happen to be the son of a writer. My mother, Laura Weddle, has published two short story collections and I’m proud to be following her lead with my new collection from Southern Yellow Pine Publishing, When Giraffes Flew.

The strongest influences on my writing are probably Charles Bukowski, Barry Hannah, Raymond Carver and Richard Brautigan. I have loved short stories since I was old enough to read them and was fortunate enough to take classes from Barry Hannah when I was a graduate student at Ole Miss about twenty-five years ago. Barry taught me a lot about narrative voice and the delicious ways in which humor and simple human tragedy can comingle. While I don’t write every day, I have been a steady writer for many years. This new book is a culmination of my efforts over a long stretch.

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

When Giraffes Flew is my fourth book. My first, Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of The Outsider and Loujon Press (University Press of Mississippi, 2007) won the Eudora Welty Prize and my others are a poetry collection and a co-authored text on negotiation strategies for librarians. I’ve also published a fair amount of fiction and poetry in little magazines over the years. With Giraffes, I feel like I’m on a roll and am looking at putting together another story collection maybe in a couple of years. I might get ambitious and try my hand at a novel.

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

I am a teacher by profession, so I hope I can say that my job is helping others. The fact that I teach in a program that educates future librarians makes me feel like I’m helping not just those that I teach, but also the communities they will help when they find jobs as librarians. I also do volunteer work for the Tuscaloosa City Schools, most recently teaching Tae Kwon Do to elementary school kids. I have also taught classes in Book Arts and Origami for the kids.

Do you have a taste for the bizarre, abstract, and peculiar? This eclectic collection of short stories will tantalize your imagination and your sense of propriety.

Here you will find exploding chickens, flying giraffes, and one very ugly monkey. Barbers sick with love and school spirit. A mailman with a vendetta against junk mail. Mayhem. Love gone wrong. Lost souls of all stripes. Join Jeff Weddle—Eudora Welty Prize winning author—for twenty-nine excursions into the dark heart of contemporary American letters. When Giraffes Flew is sure to grab you and not let go.

 A blurb from a reviewer:
"Weddle's stories are dark gems. When cracked open they reveal the pathos of the twisted light that governs the strangeness of the human psyche."
George Eklund, The Island Blade, Poems, and In the Arms of the Fog, Poems in Spanish and English

Where may I find Jeff Weddle?

Thank you, Jeff.

Rhett DeVane

southern fiction author and blogmaster

The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views. Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Writer's Come Undone--Some Words of Wisdom from a Survivor.

A Writer's Come Undone

A come undone.

If you're from the Deep South, you've heard the slang. If not, stick with me and I will drag you into the light.

Unraveled. Hit the wall. Stumped your toe on the block. 

Come undone.

If you write, you will have at least one come undone during your career. If I call it a career instead of a hobby, I force myself to take it seriously and hunker down to the work.

I do love an analogy, so here goes.

Compare a come undone to a plateau in a weight-loss diet. You've bumped along nicely for a bit, started to view the bathroom scales as a tool instead of a fiend. You've walked every day and avoided the bakery aisle. Then, it happens. You skid onto the plateau. 

Days pass without so much as an ounce slipping away. If you eat one more salad, you threaten to run naked, screaming, to Georgia. (Insert the state line nearest to you here. Mine is Georgia, and thankfully, not too far to run. If I was a runner. Which I am not.)

You rage. Consider giving up and wolfing down the cheesecake bars in the back of the freezer--left over from some long ago occasion, but why quibble.

You don't. You hang in there. Finally, the scale shows meager success. 

Until you hit yet another plateau.

A literary come undone follows the same spastic samba. I clip through the rough first draft, thinking myself somewhat clever. Days pass, months. 
One day, I sit down to the laptop and come undone.

Why am I doing this? Is it a huge waste of time?
I consider pitching the laptop to the curb, watching it arc high, then crash. Brush off my hands and go inside and, I dunno, take up dental floss crochet or clean the baseboards.

But I don't.

I persist. Write pure crap I wouldn't read to a rabid raccoon. Work through it. And guess what? My writing improves. A novel emerges on the other side (in this case, Secondhand Sister.) It is my favorite child, to date.

I did not major in creative writing. I grew up at the feet of master storytellers. Everything I've learned has been by trial and error, heavy on the error. Critique groups, beta readers, trusted author friends and editors: all have helped me limp my way along. 

None of us perform this art in a vacuum, though it seems very lonely at times.

And we all will stall at some point. If not, we're not digging in hard.

Breathe. Embrace your come undone. It will pass. The writer that emerges on the other side will gain a seasoned patina she, or he, didn't have before.

One more thing: come undones and chocolate mix well, for me. Find your crutch and lean on it. For a beat or two.

Then get back to that manuscript.

It's only a come undone, honey.

Rhett DeVane
Southern Fiction Author

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Writers4Higher features author Zelle Andrews

Hi, Zelle. Welcome to Writers4Higher!

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

I was born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida, and married my high school sweetheart. We lived briefly in Mountain Home, Idaho, on the Air Force Base. Our children, Sarah and Dylan, were born there. The thought of our children growing up and not knowing our families, except through phone calls, pulled us back home. Shortly after my daughter was born I tossed around the idea of writing a novel, but life got in the way and raising my children took priority. It wasn’t until twenty plus years later that I was sitting at work one day and the bug bit me again. I kept my notes and writing to myself for a while. I didn’t even tell my husband, until one day while we were cleaning the kitchen he ran across a scrap piece of paper that I had written the beginning of chapter one on. I whispered in embarrassment that I was writing a story. He was more excited about it than I was and has been supportive all the way. It took three years to write my debut novel “Paisley Memories”. It is about a young teenager who is raising a child with Down syndrome by herself. With only her wits, and a little bit of money, she lives like a gypsy with her daughter, Paisley. She comes to the realization that she either needs to put roots down and raise her daughter the best she can, or find a family who can give her daughter much more stability than she thinks she can provide. My daughter also has Down syndrome and was the inspiration for my story.

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

I hope that my writing endeavors take me everywhere! I plan on a sequel to “Paisley Memories”, which takes place in Panacea, Florida. But I also have other story ideas. One story takes place in Massachusetts. I’m excited about the prospect of traveling north. That is what makes this career amazing. You have an opportunity to meet interesting people, learn about different cultures, and travel locally or abroad depending on the setting of your story. I also see it as a career to completely become consumed with when I retire from the state. Only my creative ideas will show where it will take me.

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

I am part of two critique groups. We bounce ideas off each other through emails, in addition to monthly meetings. We critique the material that we are working on and share ideas. As a writer you can easily get discouraged and think that your story isn’t going anywhere. We inspire and keep each other on track. I am also starting a Free Little Library house in Crawfordville, Florida, near a local walking park. It is a means to promote literacy throughout the community. If you want a book, take one. If you have one to share, leave one. It is a great way for the community to share their books with each other if they aren’t able to afford to purchase them, but love to read. My husband will be putting his handyman skills to work very soon. Wish me luck!

Where to find Zelle Andrews:

Twitter - @maryleigh1967

Facebook –

Thank you for sharing with us, Zelle. Best of luck with your library and your writing!

Rhett DeVane
Southern fiction author and blogmaster

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Writers4Higher spotlights Margaret Murphree of Bookish Gifts

It’s that time again. Holiday season. Time to think about giving to your friends and family. Besides books from your favorite authors, how about gifting fun literary stuff?

Have I got the place for you….

Margaret Murphree joins the Writers4Higher family, providing unique gifts for the literary folks on your list. If you are like me, you will add to your own wishlist.

Hi Margaret. Tell us about  yourself and Bookish Gifts.

I have been a “research hound” for as long as I can remember. There is nothing more energizing for me than “the hunt” for information. I got my library degree and found my dream job working on the Reference Desk of the State Library of Florida in Tallahassee in the early 1990s. Want to know statistics on endangered wildlife in Florida? Found it!  Want articles on the history of cheese? Got it!  Want to know the names of Santa’s Reindeer? Got that too! (Yes, Desk Set with Katherine Hepburn is one of my favorite movies!)

Along my librarian journey, I developed a love of notebooks – all shapes and sizes and styles. Pens too! A couple of years ago, I experimented with making notebooks myself and opened a small shop on Etsy, an online retail source for handmade craft items.  

When my boss suggested I sell my notebooks at an upcoming state library conference, I jumped at the chance!  As I prepared for that event, my love of the hunt kicked in and I found more and more items that I knew librarians – and writers- would love!  Notebooks? Sure! But also bookish jewelry, candles, scarves & ties, greeting cards and oodles of fun, bookish & writerly stuff!

Since that first toe in the water, I have had a sales booth at writers’ conferences, book festivals and, of course, library conferences.  By the time you read this article, I will have retired and be headed to the Miami Book Fair having the time of my life!

Find me here:

Thanks Margaret. You are truly one of “our people.”

Rhett DeVane
Author and blogmaster

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Writers4Higher features Dr. Maureen O'Neil

Hi, Dr. O'Neil. Welcome to Writers4Higher!

1.  Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
     Who is the Little Green Guide?

The inspiration for this book was my Little Green Guide, my grandson, John Riley. John Riley loves to spend time outdoors. He is happiest when he is running and playing in nature. His natural curiosity about things makes him an eager learner. When I wrote this book he was 2 ½ years old. He never ceases to amaze me with what he remembers and asks about when we play outside.  He is also very excited to share his discoveries with anyone who will listen.

That is the very definition of a Little Green Guide:  a little one who loves being out in nature and sharing the magic of it with others and helping to insure that it will be there for the next generation to enjoy. My intent is writing this book was to instill both a love of the outdoors and a love of sharing what they learn about nature with others.
I hold a doctorate in Education and Human Development from Boston University. I am an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education and a Certified Green Guide. I enjoy exploring nature with my grandson John Riley.

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

I hope to do a series of books about “The Little Green Guide.” The next book I hope to write is “The Little Green Guide Goes to the Beach.”

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

I took a “Green Guide” course through Tallahassee Community College last fall semester and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned about the many benefits of getting outdoors, including less stress, more fun and an appreciation of the environment. I now want to share that love of nature with others and help insure that nature’s beauty will be there for the next generation to enjoy.

To order The Little Green Guide

Nature is a child’s greatest playground. It is free, it is available twenty-four hours a day and it is right outside your window. Sadly, playing outdoors is becoming a lost art! A recent survey found that half of the adults polled had played outside at least seven times a week when growing up, while only 23 percent of their children do that now.

Children love being out in nature and sharing the magic of it with others, while helping to insure that it will be there for the next generation to enjoy.

The Little Green Guide is a valuable story and activities manual that encourages teachers, parents, and family to get outside with their preschoolers (little green guides) to explore nature and have fun!

Not only will spending more time outdoors provide children with life-long benefits, parents and teachers will reap many rewards themselves! Bonds will be strengthened, all will learn more about nature, and be pleasantly surprised how some outdoor time can improve one’s mood (as well as blood pressure)!

The Little Green Guide includes easy-to-understand lesson plans that can be adapted to any preschool setting as most classrooms have children at a number of different developmental stages. In addition, the activities can be used verbatim or may be customized to fit individual needs. Teachers and parents are encouraged to use their imagination as much as the children use theirs!

Thank you for telling us about your writing, Dr. O'Neil!

Rhett DeVane

blogmaster and southern fiction author

Visit Rhett DeVane's website

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Writers4Higher features author Dixie Ann Black

Hi Dixie. 

Welcome to Writers4Higher

1. Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
During my youth my mother always teased me by saying, "If someone would just pay you to talk, you'd be rich!" If Mom meant it as a subtle nudge for me to stop talking so much the hint was lost on me. I have always felt that I have so much worth saying! :) Looking back on my childhood I now realize that it was due to the lack of a ready, listening audience that I took to writing. At the age of 10 I wrote my first poem thus consumating my love affair with the written word. Many writers cite books that have sparked or influenced their writing. For me it is the other way around. I write to share the sweet renderings of a world we rush through often forgetting to listen to its wooing. I pen the secrets of my own soul and hold it up as a mirror for the broken, the lost and the hopeful. I write also to record the beauty of the ordinary, always seeking to uncover the wonder of Now. It was years after I had written many poems and short stories that I came to realize there were many others who had gone before me and that my writings belong to a genre called "Inspirational". When I speak it is from this place. I am convinced that listening and speaking from the heart creates a conduit for Truth that will prove to be life for the listener. 
It is in this manner that my first book, "Just Chasing the Sun" came to be. This collection of poems and short stories were all birthed from the crucible of my own life experiences or observations. They are the feelings and stories we all experience on some level, the telling of which creates a resonance in the hearer. 
Who I am is a result of this resonance. It is my inspiration. I experience my own life in all of its madness and joy. I reinterpret it through deep listening and find that my story creates a resonance of healing for those who hear.  I remember my elders creating this same resonance through their stories as we sat by the fireside in Jamaica. I am from a family of story tellers. But times have changed, so my stories are recorded in a book and I speak to groups outside of my immediate family. This, I believe, makes me an author, a poet and a public speaker. 
2. Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
I see myself speaking to groups all around the world, sharing with them through my poetry and stories. I travel extensively and find that there is always a deep connection to Spirit regardless of race, religion or creed. This is the stream that feeds me and all who will take the time to slow down and listen. As I listen I continue to write and will continue to publish. Book two is coming soon!
3. How do you use your talents/time to help others?
The purpose of my book and my life is to help others. I have been sharing both formally and informally with listeners for over 20 years. I share with a variety of people on a one on one basis daily. I also speak to women's groups, church groups and healing circles when invited. Readers have shared with me that they use my poems as part of meditations. When someone tells me that they enjoyed a story I wrote or that a poem has touched them I am always struck by the realization that it was worth all the pain and struggle I went through just to bring nourishment to one person.

Where to find Dixie Ann Black:

Twitter: @DixieAnnBlack

Thank you, Dixie!

Rhett DeVane
Southern fiction author and blogmaster

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Writers4Higher features editor Gina Edwards, founder of AROUND THE WRITER'S TABLE

Hi Gina. Welcome to Writers4Higher!

1.   Tell me about yourself, your business, and the connection with the writing world.

Since Mrs. Stephens taught me to diagram complex sentences in seventh and eighth grade and Ms. McCabe had us read Fahrenheit 451 in high school, I have been fascinated with the written word. But after I read J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey and Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, well, that was it! I was hooked—word nerd, for life.

I have spent over 30 years in the corporate world, managing publications and editing newsletters and magazines; advertising, marketing, and conference materials; technical and scientific reports; and most every other form of written communication, but about 20 years ago, I started writing fiction. Then I began helping other authors edit their work and that eventually developed into my editing business.

I offer editing services under the umbrella name of AROUND THE WRITER’S TABLE, but AWT is much more than just editing. It is my dream-come-true effort to do everything in my power to support authors. It’s still growing and finding its own personality, but the aim is to create an extensive support network for authors, helping them find the resources, training, and connections they need to get their words out into the world.

2.   How do you work with authors?

I consider myself a “teaching” editor and am committed to helping my clients hone their craft and make every manuscript better. Since I am a copy editor, I have a line-by-line focus, checking for spelling errors, typos, punctuation problems and awkward grammar, clarity and sense, appropriate word choice, consistency, and redundancies. But I do more than make corrections. For every project, I provide suggestions and written comments, and I pose questions to help guide the author’s final manuscript decisions.

My goal is always to assist an author in the improvement of their craft, thereby making their future work better as well. It really is a privilege to be able to do this work and to see how writers improve and develop from manuscript to manuscript. Soon, I’ll be starting a program to receive my certification for creativity coaching, so I’ll be able to support writers through other phases of their writing efforts as well. I take a long-term approach with my clients and hope to work with them throughout their writing careers.  The relationship I create with each of “my” authors is a true partnership, one in which we both have an opportunity to become better at what we do and better people as well.

As a natural coincidence of the work I do, I often get all sorts of questions about publishing. I see a lot of writers who are frustrated and don’t know where to turn for help. So that’s really how AROUND THE WRITER’S TABLE came about. While our copy editing services are offered in-house, we are also developing a full list of associates who can assist writers with all other aspects of writing and publishing that we don’t offer, such as book cover design and graphic art, developmental editing, publicity, book trailers, and all the other support services writers need. We want to be able to refer writers to kind-spirited, talented people who have the authors’ best interests at heart and can be part of a support team to take them where they want to go with their writing careers.

Authors often ask us about training and ongoing education, too. Over the next year, AWT will begin offering workshops, seminars, and eventually retreats. Our website will get an overhaul, and will include extensive book lists, links to helpful resources, and several series of online lessons from me as well as other publishing industry professionals. We’ll be setting up writing support groups, as well, that will be tied into private Facebook groups.

My visions for AWT are huge and sometimes feel overwhelming, but this is my lifelong dream and commitment. We’re building slowly but deliberately and I’d like to ask your readers if they have worked with any service or individual that has supported them in their writing and that they think other authors would like to know about, please send us the information. Let’s help each other by sharing. Also tell me about any workshops or conferences you loved attending. Send us your announcements about book launches and signings, releases, upcoming workshops, and other writerly events, too. I promise to help get the word out. You can email them to

3.   Do you write as well as contribute through your business? Please share!

I was fortunate to have my short story, “For What Nate Did,” win the Cody Harris Allen award from Florida State many years ago, and that is the basis for the novel I’m currently working. Dancing at The Orange Peel is a Vietnam-era family saga that apparently fits into the “New Southern Gothic” genre. I was thrilled to learn recently of this fit because I’ve always been such a fan of Southern Gothic writers, such as Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, Dorothy Allison, and, of course, Harper Lee.

I’m still a good way from finished with my book and it will have to be edited (by someone else, of course! Even editors need editors). But I’d love to have it out next year. The support I have received from other authors while I’ve been working on the book has been phenomenal. Because of my connections in the writing community, I get to hang out, work with, and receive inspiration from some of the most awesome writers and creative people! To pay it back and forward, I want to do everything, I mean, everything I can to support them and other authors.

Links and Contact Information:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Writers4Higher features Smoky Zeidel

Hi Smoky. Welcome to Writers4Higher

Tell me about yourself.

I grew up on the flat plains of Illinois, and lived there the first fifty years of my life. As a child, my father took my family on grand explores every summer to places of exquisite beauty: Great Smoky Mountains, Mammoth Cave, and Shenandoah National Parks to the east, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and the other great National Parks to the west. Those grand adventures instilled in me a deep appreciation for our natural world and fed my bohemian spirit.
When I was fifty, I sold my house and most of my belongings, packed up my eighteen-year-old daughter, my dog, two cats, and guinea pig, and moved to Southern California. Most people just buy a sports car when they have a midlife crisis. I moved to a place I’d never been without so much as an apartment rented. But it worked out okay. I met my husband Scott a few months after relocating, and with him, I am able to continue the grand explore of our beautiful land my father started with me all those years ago.
I authored eight books before discovering my previous publisher was stealing most of my royalties. While I quickly got my rights back, that experience sent me into a deep depression. I couldn’t even think about writing for almost two years afterward. But I used that time to explore other art forms; I painted, did fiber art, messed around with clay. Eventually, the need to express myself with my words conquered my malaise, and I signed a contract with the fledgling and very fine indie publisher, Thomas-Jacob Publishing, LLC. They recently re-released my third novel, The Storyteller’s Bracelet, and my first poetry collection, Sometimes I Think I Am Like Water.
I taught writing and creativity workshops at various junior colleges and other venues across the Midwest before my move to California, and have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  
Personal trivia includes the fact I must be part cat, because I’ve already survived a bullet missing me by mere inches when I was a toddler in the crib, my house flooding, another house catching fire, a tornado, and the biggest one of all, being struck by lightning. (At the time I was the most severely injured person to survive a direct lightning strike, anywhere in the world.) That’s five lives, I figure, so I have four to go!

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

I have several projects in the works right now. First on the docket is completing my fourth novel, The Madam of Bodie. It’s set in the California gold rush town of Bodie, in the Eastern Sierra, once considered “the biggest, baddest town in the West.” While the title character runs one of the town’s brothels—they were common in the West—it also deals with the hardships of mining, and the racism, especially toward the Chinese, that ran rampant through the West.
I have written a trio of short stories, collectively called Sun Song Stories, available only on Kindle, which serve as an introduction to the characters in The Storyteller’s Bracelet, Otter and Sun Song. I’ve had such positive feedback on these I am planning on doing an entire short story collection.
Sun Song and Otter are such a part of me, I can’t help but think they are going to be the characters that finally get me to write a sequel to one of my novels. While my earlier novels are open-ended enough to leave room for sequels, I have never had any desire to write one. But with The Storyteller’s Bracelet, I feel Sun Song and Otter have much more to say. I intend to listen, once I’ve finished the Bodie book.
And then there’s my passion for poetry. I am so proud of Sometimes I Think I Am Like Water, and I have gotten such good feedback on it. There probably will be more poetry in my future. It doesn’t sell well, but a writer is compelled to write what a writer is compelled to write.

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

I give in concrete and tangible ways. My daughter works for a wonderful organization called End Malaria Now, and I donate money to their cause, and help her research and come up with fundraising opportunities. I donate to crisis relief funds, like those set up after the recent Nepal Earthquakes. One of my now out-of-print books from my previous publisher was a book on writing. I recently donated the last of my stash of these to a women’s prison project in the hopes it would inspire incarcerated women to write their stories.
But it’s the less tangible ways of giving that mean the most to me. My publisher only publishes books that deal with issues that are troubling about humankind, books that make you think. I jokingly tell them the company tag line should be “Books That Make You Squirm.” That’s important to me, as a writer. I want my words to make people stop and think. For example, The Storyteller’s Bracelet deals with a dark time in American history, when children of the First Peoples were forced to attend Indian Schools. They were ripped from their homes, their tribes, and forced to give up their native language and customs and adopt those of the European Americans, people I call the Others in the novel. It was a shameful thing our nation did, and something that is glossed over in history books, if it is mentioned at all. My book is meant to educate people about the injustices done to the First Peoples, and hopefully instill some compassion for them and what they have lost.
I like to refer to my poetry as being “accessible poetry.” It amazes me how many people are downright afraid of poems! They think all poetry is ambiguous, big-worded nonsense—and, admittedly, some of it is. But there is a big world of poets who write poems that are easy to read, easy to absorb, and beautiful, like music, in their sentiments. My hope, with Sometimes I Think I Am Like Water, is to show people poetry is as enjoyable to read as prose, and to teach them something about nature at the same time. We tend to want to protect that which we know and love. If I can encourage even a single person to get outdoors and explore our beautiful world because of my writing, I will feel very successful indeed.

Where to find Smoky:

Thank you, Smoky!

Rhett DeVane
Fiction author and blogmaster

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Writers4Higher features Lucas Lindsey of Writrsbloc

Hi Lucas! Welcome to Writers4Higher.

1.   Tell me about yourself, your business, and the connection with the writing world.

Each day the web fills, to the point of rupture, with words. How-Tos and Why-Nots and numbered lists abound. Steadily, the noise grows louder. That’s where Writrsbloc comes in. Through accepting submissions and releasing a weekly, curated email, Writrsbloc cuts through the noise. We discover great writers and uncover compelling stories, one sentence at a time.

2. How do you work with authors?

We give writers an additional channel to promote their work. By sending a regular email packed full of the week’s best writing, Writrsbloc drives additional readers to articles, stories, and blog posts published across the Internet. Writers can submit at using only quick excerpt, a link to where the story lives online, and an email address!

3. Do you write as well as contribute through your business? Please share!

From time to time, I throw enough sentences together to call it writing, often profiling the stories of entrepreneurs across the Southeast. My most recent release took a hard look at the emotional rollercoaster that is small town startup life.

Links to the website, Facebook page, Twitter.


Thank you for joining us, Lucas!

Rhett DeVane
southern fiction author and blogmaster

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Writers4Higher features author V.L Brunskill

Hi Vicki-lynn! 

Welcome to Writers4Higher.

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

My professional writing career started when I dropped out of journalism class after landing an interview with the late, great, punk icon Joey Ramone. At the start of my music journalism career, I begged for interviews. After gaining some tenure, record labels let me know when bands would be performing in Boston. You name a band from the late eighties or early nineties, and the chances are pretty good that I interviewed them. My work appeared in Metronome Magazine, CREEM, Boston Globe, and the Boston Phoenix.

When waiting backstage for rock stars became tedious, and I was ready to start a family, I changed careers. It is tough to attend five concerts a week with a baby carrier on your arm. Plus, I wanted my little one to be able to hear! Some of those shows were deafening. After my daughter was born, I worked as a technical writer in the ion implantation field, and as an IT magazine editor. I am currently a conference producer.

My novel Waving Backwards was born of my experience as an adoptee in search. I was adopted at seven-months old in a closed adoption. Closed adoptions are those in which the child can never gain access to their records. The paperwork about the adoption is sealed by the state, and can only be opened by court order. It is an outdated and unfair system, but remains the law in most states.

I have always wondered about my biological family and started searching for my family while I was in college. It took thirteen years for me to locate both my birth mother and birth father. I moved South to be closer to both. We brought my adoptive Mom with us from Boston to Savannah, Georgia.

Waving Backwards tells the story of Lara Bonavito’s unforgettable journey of self-discovery. Adopted into an abusive and impoverished home, Lara’s quest to find her roots lands her in the Southern jewel’s historic district. A vivid cast of characters help her unravel clues found in a cryptic letter hidden in the family bible for two decades.

“The baby’s roots are with the Southern lady who waves forever.”

With the help of mischievously handsome trolley tour guide Robert Taylor, Kipling-quoting florist Abel Bloom, and comically outspoken Louisiana beauty Susan Fletcher, Lara uncovers family secrets wrapped in the mystique of Savannah’s Waving Girl statue.

Waving Backwards is a coming-of-age quest that reveals the healing power of family bonds and maternal love. It really is a heart-warming tale, set in one of the South’s most romantic cities.

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

My character Lara keeps telling me that she would like to do a bit more traveling. So, I think there will be a sequel to Waving Backwards.

I am also working on a rock memoir that will cover my decade in the music world. The book will feature stories and interviews with the likes of; Buddy Guy, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Chicago, Steve Vai, Poison, Tesla, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many more.

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

I am an adoption reunion assistant at I advise adoptees on the key steps to take in the adoption search process. I also post search tips, reunion stories, and family-focused articles at Adoption Find.

I also created a charity in 2013 called ‘Books to Build On’. The book drive was launched after I witnessed the devastation caused by the Moore, Oklahoma tornadoes. Two elementary schools were demolished and several students were killed by the storms which hit during school hours. As a book lover, it was important to me that the school libraries be restocked. They lost everything! With my daughter's help, I started a children’s book drive. We had church groups, boy scouts and even the famous Australian boy band 5SOS join the effort. We ended up with 7,000 books, two sets of brand new encyclopedias from World Book, and twenty-four student dictionaries from The Dictionary Project.

UniGroup Logistics (United Van Lines) shipped the four pallets of books from my garage in Savannah to the Moore schools for free. It was so exciting to be able to help the students. After all, what's a school without books? The process taught me that anyone can make a difference. My daughter and I saw a need, and with the help of thousands of generous donations, were able to fill it.

Where to find out more about Vicki-lynn:


Twitter- @RockMemoir

Facebook author page-

My novel Waving Backwards

Amazon author page- 

Book trailer-

Books to Build on article:

Thank you again, Vicki-lynn.

Rhett DeVane

blogmaster, Writers4Higher 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Writers4Higher features Barbara Joe Williams

Hi Barbara Joe. Welcome to Writers4Higher.

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

Thanks for having me as your blog guest today. I'm an Amazon bestselling author, indie publisher, and a motivational speaker living in Tallahassee, Florida. I founded my publishing business, Amani Publishing in 2004, as a way to publish my first novel titled, Forgive Us This Day. I also co-founded the Tallahassee Authors Network in 2008. I write romance and women's fiction because that's mainly what I love to read. I have also written a few nonfiction books, a novella, short stories, and compiled several anthologies. My inspiration to write comes from my love for reading and wanting to share my own stories with others. In 2014, I revised and updated my first novel and republished it as a tenth anniversary edition which ended up being reviewed by USA Today. 

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

I'm working on something different right now. It's a Young Adult series set in the seventies, during the time that I grew up in Arkansas. It's not a biography, but it's my way of documenting some of the things I experienced as a teen and how they're related to what teens are still experiencing today. So I see this series taking me into the schools and other places where I can share my stories with a younger audience and their families. I'm hoping this series will help bridge the gap between the generations and bring more understanding and tolerance for everyone.

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

I use my talent's and time to help other aspiring writers by hosting workshops, speaking at events, and publishing reference books that can help them become successful self-published authors. I just published the A-Z eBook series earlier this year to help new and seasoned authors expand their craft. The series includes: A-Z Writing Tips, A-Z Basic Editing Tips, and A-Z Marketing Tips. Each book is designed to be a motivational tool for helping authors achieve their writing goals. I've also hosted online chats as well as Q & A sessions designed to benefit writers and readers. I also volunteer in my community to help disadvantaged children and their families whenever necessary.

Where to find Barbara Joe Williams:

Thank you for joining us at Writers4Higher!

Rhett DeVane
Southern fiction author and blogmaster

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Writers4Higher features Nic Stoltzfus

Hi Nic! Welcome to Writers4Higher

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

So, to start off with my name is Nic Stoltzfus, and I am a newly-minted author. This is a title that I have dreamed about being able to put on my nametag since I was a little kid, and I am very honored to say that I wrote my first book that was released last month. The name of the book is Coastal Dune Lakes: Jewels of Florida’s Emerald Coast, and it was published as part of a multimedia project on the coastal dune lakes found in Northwest Florida. My dad, Elam Stoltzfus, took most of the pictures for the book, and I did the layout and writing and some additional photography. There was a local composer from Panama City, Eric Schrotenboer, who did the music for a companion documentary for public television, I wrote the script for the documentary, and my dad did most of the cinematography and directed the film. It was a great project to be a part of!

So, a bit about myself—I was born in Tallahassee and grew up in Blountstown (a small town close to Chattahoochee—you understand what that’s like Rhett!). When I am explaining what it is like to people who have never visited there I say it is a “small one stoplight sleepy southern town.” The Whistle-Stop CafĂ© could have easily been built in Blountstown, Chattahoochee, Grand Ridge or any of these little municipalities scattered around the Florida Panhandle. It was a great place to grow up, and I am grateful that I was surrounded by nature and family.

My inspiration comes from a variety of sources. Probably one of my biggest inspirations is my grandparents—Monroe and Naomi Yoder. They traveled from Delaware to Blountstown to found a small Mennonite church. Even though they are no longer alive, they still have a large impact on my life. Their mission in life was to make a difference in the community through the example of their lives. No, they weren’t perfect, but they were good and honest people who truly cared about the people of Calhoun County and saw this place as their mission field. I hope to continue that legacy and be kind and compassionate with everyone who crosses my path no matter who they are or where they're from.

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

Well, I hope to continue to write about environmental issues in the State of Florida. I think that this is an important time to be telling stories of Florida’s natural environment, and so I want to be able to communicate stories that are well-told, inspiring, and exciting. I hope that I did that with the coastal dune lakes project—in the documentary we tell the story of a group of people who worked hard to preserve what is now Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, a beautiful state park that contains around 6 miles of preserved beachfront—a rarity in today’s landscape. I hope to show people now that true change can take place, and it starts with citizens coming together to help save and protect something they believe in. That’s a story of hope, and I think that these are the sorts of tales that need to be told. The media is filled with things that get us down and depressed and upset—if I can add to that mix a story of hope, healing, and redemption—then that brings my life a lot of meaning.

Along with this I have some short stories, sci-fi, and auto-fiction that I am working on, but it is still in the early stages and they will come to fruition when the time is right.

I hope that writing can take me around the world—it is the skill that I have decided to dedicate my life to, and I write every day and try to read as many books as possible! So, that’s my goal. J

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

I think I answered some of this question in responses given above, but to say specifically the way that I use my talents/time to help others is by showing people a new perspective to look at the world. We all have a unique way of looking at the world and when anyone reads a work (regardless if it is fiction or nonfiction), they enter into that writer’s perspective. And I think this fosters a sense of empathy by seeing the world through a new lens, a different body that is unfamiliar and new to them. This is broadly speaking, but I think it is important nonetheless.

I am still in the early stages of this, but I am working on doing a series of workshops with my local library on writing/photography for school-aged kids. This is something that I am really looking forward to working on!

Since I am still in the early stages as a writer, I am still looking for ways to give back so if other writers read this and have ideas, I am open to them!

More info on Coastal Dune Lakes project:

Thanks for joining us, Nic!

Rhett DeVane
Southern fiction author and blogmaster

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