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

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...