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

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...