Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Write Tight Workshop

Just spoke with Steven Moore, President of Baldwin Writers Group, and he says there are a few slots open for the workshop on June 23rd. Here is a little info about the speakers.

Candace Sams has some great ideas and useful tools to help writers get their work organized, stay on track, pace their writing and assure continuity. After publishing almost fifty titles in the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal and action-adventure genres, she’s received more than thirty awards from various organizations, including being a five-time National Readers’ Choice Award winner/nominee. Her Tales of The Order™ series, as well as several
other works, are now being vetted for movie options, and she is about the celebrate the publication of her 50th novel. Candace also writes erotica as C.S. Chatterly and can be contacted from

Cynthia Eden will teach us how to do useful character sketches that bring our characters to life. She has unique ways to develop plot points through plot point strategy and tips to help writers stay motivated when the middle of the story is sagging. She also brings to the table handy information on using Twitter effectively (a topic that still eludes me) so I'm looking forward to it. Cynthia is a national best-selling author of paranormal romance and romantic suspense novels. Her books have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and her novel, DEADLY FEAR, was named a RITA® finalist for best romantic suspense. Cynthia’s publishers include Kensington Brava, Harlequin Intrigue, Grand Central Publishing, and Avon Red. In addition to her New York publishers, Cynthia has also stepped into the self-publishing field with the release of her “Bound” books—her “Bound” vampire and
werewolf books have been Kindle and Nook best-sellers.

And finally I'll be giving pointers on using editing to give writers the competitive edge.

Cynthia and Candace will also present a class on digital promotion for writers, a very timely subject.

And thanks to Steven, the workbook, like last year's, is jammed full of info from all the speakers and is worth the price of admission all by itself.

Join us for lunch and lively conversation. Mahala

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May Writing Contest

Eight days before the May MAC contest closes. Gets those entries in!


Creative Writing Camps for Kids

In response to the requests from numerous parents, I've rearranged the schedules for the writing camps for both age groups. See attached flyers and get those registrations in so your child will have a notebook and a tee shirt.

I've extended registration to May 31st.

B there or B square.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Stephanie Lawton: Part II on Clean Reads for Kids

Today Stephanie continues her discussion about Young Adult lit and resources for parents/grandparents to find information about current books. I have taken the liberty of repeating a paragraph or two from last week to “ground” you in the subject.

Amid all the recent arguments that Young Adult lit is too “dark,” there’s an issue going unaddressed: Readers and parents/grandparents of readers who want “clean” titles don’t know where to find them.

If you prefer a less corporate approach, the book blog Reading Teen has a special section dedicated to “clean” reads. ( some sites, Reading Teen seems to keep up with newer releases and I agree with their choices.

If you’re in the market for Christian YA fiction, you’ve got a tougher road ahead of you. That segment of YA isn’t doing nearly as well as the rest, and some even argue that because Christian fiction in general is pretty tame, it does away with the need to publish separate YA lines.

You can find lists on Amazon of Christian YA,( ( but know that much of it is either self-published or put out by small presses. I’m definitely not saying there’s anything wrong with it, but just know that there are fewer quality gatekeepers.

One final resource—many of today’s most popular YA writers belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church). Their books are usually very clean and totally enjoyable without pushing any religion/denomination. Examples (other than Stephenie Meyer) include Shannon Hale, Kiersten White, Ally Condie, James Dashner and Brandon Mull.

Although I don’t support censorship—blanket decisions about what others can and can’t read—I fully support parents’ rights to monitor what their own children read. No one knows a child better than his or her parent/grandparent. I hope the above sources prove helpful to those in charge of shaping young minds.

(If readers want to contact me about this, I can be reached on Twitter at @Steph_Lawton, on Facebook at!/StephanieLawtonWriter or at

Thank you, Stephanie, for the good information and the references. Finding appropriate reading material for tweens and young teens is challenging in today's climate of "anything goes." Best of luck with your new book.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

MAC April Winners

Below are the two pieces that tied for second last month. Both are entirely different approaches to the passions that surround the military life and war; both are about Marines - one female, one male. Robert and Steven are both active in the writing life and belong to several writing groups in South Alabama. Steven is currently the President of Baldwin Writers Group and a talented illustrator as well as budding writer. Robert loves boats, books, and photography.

by Robert O'Daniel


Thinking of the past, experiencing the present, will I survive until the future? I’m not hopeful.

“Column lefft—Harrch!”

Drill Sergeant’s a sadist. We’ve been drilling, in this inferno, two hours. Parade ground’s super-heated by the relentless sun. They’ll black-flag drill, when it gets to ninety-five. Boots stickin’ to asphalt.


Four years undergraduate, two years graduate school, fluently speak Pashto, I thought I’d change the world. What was I thinking? I joined the Marines. They need female interpreters in Afghanistan.

“By the right flank—Harrch!”

Where do they find people like her? The mutant scrap heap?

“Double timmee—Harrch

I’ve sweat less in saunas.



Will I live to see graduation next month? Summer starts tomorrow. Hur—rah, the end of Spring.

Spring Forward, Fall Back
by Steven Moore

Trembling, Martha's index finger pushes the clock's hand around its face. "Spring forward, Fall back" —Jonathan's nine year-old voice fills her memories.

"Can we keep him?" An eleven year-old Jonathan begs.

Sixteen year-old Jonathan stands with a freckled young redhead under his arm. "Mom, this is Susan, from science class."

Managing past the scene, Martha reclaims her seat. To her side, on the end table, waits the computer-generated letter atop the torn envelope. Mom, I've decided to be a Marine, like Dad was.

Catching the letter's corner, her hand hesitates then fights to lift the heavy paper. "We regret to inform—"

Tears blur the remaining text.

Resting the letter in her lap, Martha sets her watch. Spring forward, Fall back.

My father was a Marine in WWII and my mother was a WAVE. I salute all the brave women and men in uniform. Mahala

Friday, May 11, 2012

Books for Young Readers: Stephanie Lawton

Stephanie Lawton is our guest blogger today. Stephanie's YA novel, Want was just published, and we welcome her to Lyrical Pens. Stephanie is the Vice President of Mobile Writers Guild. Below is the first of her two part series to assist parents/grandparents choose appropriate reading material for their children.

Amid all the recent arguments that Young Adult lit is too “dark,” there’s an issue going unaddressed: Readers and parents/grandparents of readers who want “clean” titles don’t know where to find them.

No matter where you stand on the issue, every reader deserves access to books with which they’re comfortable. Publishers label titles with age ranges, but often, children read above their age or grade level. (Didn’t we all read Flowers in the Attic way before we should have?!) In order to keep them interested in reading and help expand their repertoire, they need further information about book content.
Thanks to the plethora of book blogs and rating/review websites, there’s no need to Muppet flail in the bookstore.

I’m extremely partial to, the top education-based book blog. (Full disclosure—I’m a contributor.) Although it focuses on YA lit, there’s a good bit of Middle Grade content, as well. In fact, we just finished Middle Grade March, ( which featured the best new titles hitting store shelves, and their digital equivalents.

The reviews usually give a synopsis, a few subjective comments and a note about what audience the book would appeal to. Further MG reviews can be found here. (

Although there’s been a bit of controversy surrounding this next group’s reviews, Common Sense Media is known for being a thorough source of content reviews, not just for books, but movies, video games, TV shows, etc. ( Books are judged on age-appropriateness, learning ratings (whether or not it’s educational), as well as its message, role models, violence, sex, language, consumerism and drugs/drinking/smoking.

While the author part of me thinks this is very subjective and should be taken with a grain of salt, the mom in me appreciates the heads up. At the very least, it tells me whether or not I need to take a look before deciding if my child is ready for the content.

Although I don’t support censorship—blanket decisions about what others can and can’t read—I fully support parents’ rights to monitor what their own children read. No one knows a child better than his or her parent/grandparent. I hope the above sources prove helpful to those in charge of shaping young minds.

(If readers want to contact me about this, I can be reached on Twitter at @Steph_Lawton, on Facebook at!/StephanieLawtonWriter or at

Thanks to Stephanie for sharing her insights and these helpful resources.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Contest Winner: MAC for April

Congratulations to Judy Davies, April's first place winner. Her poem captures the essence of both words and is a charming look at Spring.

Residing in Gautier, MS since 1998, Judy writes poetry and prose, performs as a professional musician and manages the music publishing company for her composer husband, Ken Davies. Ken has set some of her poetry to music as art songs and a CD of poetry and music is underway.

Educated at Otterbein College and at the University of Southern Mississippi, she holds degrees in English and in Paralegal Studies. She and her husband enjoy traveling to music conferences across the country as well as performing and staying involved in cultural activities locally. Judy and Ken have four children, six grandchildren and two adorable cats. The cats still live at home.

The Magic of Spring

Like a welcome visit from a long lost friend,
Spring arrives gently at first, ground-warming sun
breathing new life into its surroundings.
Atop a porch overhang, mourning doves
gather twigs to build their nest.
Spring moves forward as two eggs appear,
then two tiny baby birds,
Our yard, too, comes to life. New buds
appear as maple trees reclothe, early
spring flowers peek from within their beds,
last year's tired grass miraculously
sprouts new life. Creeping myrtle, irises,
daffodils materialize in that magical
time period known as Spring.
The scent of dewy rosebushes fills our nostrils,
tiny hummingbirds come to feast,
soft purple and white lilacs break forth in colorful array,
and new grass covers our yard like a fresh green blanket.
Glorious spring has arrived!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Southern Writers, MAC Winner

I told you I was reading Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress. It was no surprise that the book is as witty and poignant as his other books, although GB seemed to be less intense. Georgia is the quintessential, naughty Southern belle who manages to make her lifestyle seem almost normal. If the townfolk know what she's up to, they conveniently ignore it.

All the secondary characters are cast perfectly and well worth getting to know. Much like the refrain of "Harper Valley PTA" Georgia gets her come uppance when the preacher decides to bare his soul and hers from the pew. A typically wild ride ensues, taking her small town with it as Georgia works herself free of her problems. Using the shock and trauma of 9/11, Childress weaves an effective sequence of events far away from the center of activity in New York. The ending is quite good and could lead to a sequel. I would love to see Georgia plowing her way through other dilemmas.

Congratulations to another Southern writer, Dee Jordan. Today I'm posting the Second Place Winner of the MAC April contest. A retired schoolteacher, Jordan's first novel was published under the pen name, N. L. Snowden. The novel, In and Out of Madness, is available on Amazon. Jordan writes a column about the life of a published author for a California e-zine called Active Voice. She also does book reviews for the Alabama Writers' Forum Online Reviews, and she writes articles dealing with mental illness for the newspaper, New York City Voices. She has had short stories published in two literary magazines and in four different anthologies. She is a featured author in A Gallery of Voices 2012. One story won first place at the Baldwin County Writers Fiction contest. Jordan can we reached via and Thanks for submitting this thought-provoking story.

The Jump

Jolly hadn’t ridden her horse, Cisco, since 1997. They were a team when she showed him. He provided the sensitivity to her hands and body movements. She provided the cues that produced a high score along with many a blue ribbon. They were on their way up, when my fall into insanity stopped everything normal in Jolly’s life.

I had tried killing myself eight times, which put my needs above her desire to be a winner. Jolly was that way, unselfish and very pragmatic.

Last week we drove to Mississippi to visit with twenty-one year-old Cisco. She mounted him. While cantering, she leaned forward in the saddle, and he was able to spring over the four-foot log as if it were nothing.

Neither had forgotten.

First and third place winners to be posted over the next week. Stephanie Lawton, Mobile author of YA will be our guest poster this Friday.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Kid's Creative Writing Camps

Get ready. Get set. Go. Summer is moving in fast and registration spots are still available for the creative writing camps I'm teaching for children ages 8 - 10 and 11-13. The older kids will meet on Saturdays for six weeks from 11 - 2. I have had a so much fun getting activities prepared for the kids to dive into with their imaginations. I hope to see your children and grandchildren at one of the sessions. Classes will be at the Sunnyside Theater on Old Shell Road where creativity and imagination are the name of the game.


MAC May Writing Contest

The MAC writing contest for May is posted at the left. And for those of you complaining about the word length,

it went up again by another whopping 10 words. Have fun.


Baldwin Writers Group Conference

The annual workshop of Baldwin Writers Group has a few spots open. Go to to register.

Guest speakers are Candace Sams (award-winning author), Cynthia Eden (national bestselling author of paranormal romance and romantic suspense novels), Mahala Church (professional writer and editor) {yep, that's me}and Jonathan Johnson (Digital Marketing Specialist). We have a good program planned and you get a nice workbook and a CD with writing references. The price for this excellent workshop can't be beat. Check it out. I hope to see you there.