Archive for Writer’s Story

Client Success: Joe Shumock’s “Briana and the Dog” Enlivens YA Readers with Unique Plot

“I develop many of my stories using a short question: what if?” said author Joe Shumock.  “What if I start with a nine-year-old who is blind? And what if she wants a dog for Christmas and her parents insist that she take care of him? And what if the dog has a disability too?”

Briana and the Dog is a young adult novel aimed at ages 8-12, but is lauded as a “children’s book for all ages.”  With the lead character and conflict in mind, Shumock researched people, places, and circumstances to develop a unique plot, while creating the book’s setting from memories of his rural upbringing grounded in the town near where he currently lives. Foley, Alabama is a stone’s throw from the Gulf of Mexico.

“I love writing. For me, it’s great fun to develop the story and the characters. And every word should be the best one possible for its place in the sentence and the story.” His process lasted about nine months, but Briana was one of several projects on his desk, including a fifth entry in his published thriller series, the first story in a new family trilogy, and the second entry in the Briana trilogy while he also worked on publishing details for The Shepherd’s Crook, a spiritual story scheduled for publication later this year

Very grateful, Shumock couldn’t do without his readers.  “I think of myself as a writer in the southern tradition, caring about family and community.  And everyone from family to friends to my high-school classmates and neighbors is aware of my writing.”  He enjoys the questions when someone finds out he’s an author. Some are about writing, and some are about him as a writer

After serving as editor on his recent novel Sacrifice of the Lambs, this story’s tone was very different yet still exhibited his signature style while writing complex issues and thrilling acts.  Shumock said, “Through our work, the lesson for me was to see how my writing could be better with your help, to see my novel through new eyes.  Working with you, Barry Hodgin (designer), and others has made this ‘work’ pleasurable.”

To those who want to write and publish, Shumock advised, “Don’t let the unknown overwhelm you. Dig in everywhere possible and learn all you can. And this goes for marketing the book too. It’s a challenge, but like the writing, it must be done. Use social media, schedule book events, and create new ways to spread the word. Stay at it a little every day.”

Client Success: Dr. Linda Craighead Supports Kids and Parents Through Childhood Obesity

Illustration by Robbie Short

“Writing and sharing this book has been very rewarding as I’m giving many more people a resource than I could by seeing them individually,” said Linda W. Craighead, Ph.D, licensed clinical psychologist and professor at Emory University.

Through simple concepts and energetic illustrations supporting both kids and parents, her book Training Your Inner Pup To Eat Well helps kids understand why their parents are concerned about their weight and empowers them to take ownership of their eating so it isn’t a source of tension at home with parents seen as the “food police.”

“I got the idea from working with a 12-year old boy who already weighed 222 pounds and had significant health problems related to obesity.  He and his family volunteered to be on The Dr. Oz Show in 2010 to draw attention to the increasing problem of child obesity. The show invited me as an obesity expert and asked me to follow up with the family to provide treatment.”

Through her clinical work with adults, Dr. Craighead had developed an approach called Appetite Awareness Training which is available as a self-help book, The Appetite Awareness Workbook: How to Listen to Your Body and Overcome Bingeing, Overeating, and Obsession with Food.  She modified it for relevance and appeal to children/adolescents, and this resulted in Training Your Inner Pup to Eat Well.  Through the process, she benefited from contributions from clients, grad students, and other therapists, particularly a group leading an obesity clinic in Iceland that first integrated the concept and shared their results.

“I started using the main metaphor of a dog after working with the 12-year old boy and his family for over a year. Then I trained other therapists to use the metaphor. Over time I wanted images for the concepts, and while searching the internet, I was lucky to find illustrator Robbie Short in Atlanta whose style was particularly appealing, not too young but with a sense of humor. He created the images, and the response from kids and parents was positive. This was something that all parents seemed to relate to. So, I wanted to make something available for any parent wanting guidance on positive ways to teach children healthy eating in what I call the ‘food-rich environment.’

“Although I had written a textbook, the adult self-help book, and multiple journal articles,” Dr. Craighead said, “I didn’t enjoy writing this at first as I didn’t feel like I was doing a good job writing for kids. I was surprised at how different it needed to be from all I had written before. I was again lucky to be referred to Wayne South Smith by a fellow psychologist who had benefited from his guidance.

“The most fun was getting Wayne’s comments and having that a-ha moment when he suggested a phrase or a word that was just right or sparked another idea in me. I don’t know that I would have kept up the effort without having someone to check in and give feedback and guidance. I had a lot to learn about ‘point of view,’ as well as making the writing conversational and appealing to kids.

“The lesson I learned from this experience was to ask for help when I felt stuck in a writing project and that using a professional doesn’t have to be a huge investment. They totally changed how I approached the book. I am so grateful I found Wayne and Robbie as they made this project a reality.”

Client Success: Kathy Florence Explores Female Friendships through Three Decades in New Novel

Kathy Wilson Florence considers her new novel, Three of Cups, a feel-good book. ”The story features three protagonists, each dealing with her own issues and heartache, but each woman is supportive of the others. I personally like hanging around woman who hold one another up, so I prefer to write about them too!”

Three of Cups is the story of the unshakable bonds of female friendships involving three women: Mandy, a determined young mother, raises her son alone when husband Adam is drafted with the Army and captured as a prisoner of war; Ginger, a lonely new bride waits for her husband Pete’s return from war; and Rachel, single and at the beginning her career, rallies for a new start when a high-pressured job gets the best of her. Against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, their stories begin in the early 1970s and converge almost thirty years later when a long-kept secret threatens to undo all their lives.

As with her first novel, 2017’s Jaybird’s Song, Kathy utilized historical events within the setting.  “The ‘60s and ‘70s are rarely covered in the historical novels I’ve read. The Vietnam War offered a perfect background to my story of these women.”  Atlanta repeats as the main locale and is a natural one since Kathy grew up and lived in the city all her adult life.  In both novels, she weaves local places into her plot.

After inspiration struck in the middle of the night, Kathy made notes on some character traits, story arc, time frame, and titles. “My initial thought was to see how a secret between two women would play out over several decades. That’s the only thing that remained from my original notes.  I definitely write from the seat of my pants and am always amazed and excited when the perfect idea comes.”

On designing her cover, Kathy prefers illustration to photography so the reader’s imagination defines their interpretation of each protagonist. “I am pleased with the Picasso-like illustration because, to me, it has an ethereal quality, similar to the tarot card sub-plot.”

I served as content editor for Three of Cups, providing feedback on plot, character, structure, setting, etc.  Kathy shared, “I’m again impressed with the thoughtfulness of Wayne’s content edit as he is able to cut to the gut of a story with hands-down excellence for areas to rewrite, reconsider, and redefine.”

Three of Cups, available in print and e-book, has been featured in readings and at local book clubs.  Her book launch occurs at Dunwoody’s Farm Burger on August 19 from 4-6pm.  Kathy will read at “A Novel Idea” in Canton on September 19. Kathy also coordinates and hosts the monthly event “A Novel Idea” in Dunwoody when a group of up to six authors read from their books in a particular genre, such as southern fiction, thriller, or memoir. “It’s an awesome and rare opportunity for authors to present and sell their books at no cost except for a donation of a door prize. I am enjoying the opportunity to place myself among other authors.”

Client Success: Kathy Florence’s Novel Combines Tragedy, Atlanta History, and Southern Voice

“One particular childhood experience with my mother fueled my inspiration for Jaybird’s Song,” shared author Kathy Wilson Florence.   “My mother’s reaction to a singular event was the moment that the extent of motherhood became clear to me.  It’s a story I’ve told many times, I was anxious to write, and it appears early in my book.”

Jaybird’s Song intertwines tales of Atlanta native Josie Flint through her teen years in the mid-1960s with her as a businesswoman, wife, and mother 35 years later around the death of her beloved grandmother, Annie Jo.  In addition to the death of her cherished father, drama of sibling and matriarchal relationships, and the coming and going of best friends, an unsolved hate crime which happened at arm’s length from her family during the Civil Rights movement becomes more personal when details of the mystery resurface.

Kathy, who grew up in north Atlanta, has enjoyed writing since a very young age.  For 16 years, she wrote a weekly column for the Dunwoody Crier, and her first book, You’ve Got a Wedgie Cha Cha Cha, compiles her favorite columns.

“My goal for 2016 was to finish my book after 10 years. At the beginning of the year with about 55,000 words written, I joined Wayne’s Creative Writers’ Workshop.  I often submitted passages I had written years earlier to the weekly sessions, and the feedback gave me the confirmation I needed to give the story priority in my life. I would come home from each meeting jazzed to revise, and then I would either write more toward the end of the story or revisit another passage and edit. After about 5 months, I had completed my story to the point it was ready for editing.”

“I hired Wayne for a content edit on the arc of the story, as well as the direction and reveals of the plot lines. He made many great suggestions and I took them all, but the one that resonated the strongest with me was his suggestion to enhance the character of Grace, Josie’s daughter, to instill within her character the idea that the future of the family might someday be in her hands. It gives a sense of hope for the traditions and stories that are an integral part of this fictional family’s lives.”

A seasoned designer, Kathy designed the book’s interior and cover, polling Facebook friends with sample covers as part of the selection process.  Launched in February, she has sold approximately 125 copies and 100 e-books via Amazon, as well as 50 directly through appearances at Dunwoody’s Lemonade Days, various author events, and book clubs.  Her reviews remain strong and her sales consistent.

“I feel proud to have completed, released, and sold my first novel.”  Now, she’s underway on her new novel with the working title inspired by the Tarot—Temperance Reversed—a story of two women who share a huge secret that begins in the 1960s while their husbands are deployed in the Vietnam War.