THE NATURE OF WRITING!

By Jerrye Sumrall

Originally submitted to Southern Writer’s Magazine

 

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As writers, we can all relate to the lady in the picture. I know I certainly can! When I first began writing fiction, the process of molding characters and scenes into a story was a daunting task. No matter how many writing courses I took, or how many free-lance editors I worked with, or how many articles I read, the process continued to be frustrating and difficult. It wasn’t a lack of information about writing, but a lack of understanding and applying the information. I did not understand the true nature of writing and what it would take to be a writer.

Based on my own writing journey, I would like to share some of my conclusions about what it takes to be a writer. In addition, I would like to encourage you to read the article, 10 Keys to Becoming aSuccessful Writer: An Agent Spills Secrets by Chuck Sambuchino.

Authors have to want to write. It has to be so important that they can’t give it up. Every author knows that feeling. It’s like part of you wants to give up but another part of you want let go. No matter how frustrating or discouraging or absolutely impossible your writing becomes, a true writer will not stop, which leads to my point; don’t ever give up. If you are going to be an author, that is not an option and that stubborn part of you is what will see you through. I have been writing for over twenty years, and I am still learning new skills and techniques every time I write. And YES, I still get frustrated.

Authors must write from the heart. They must write about what is near and dear to them and what lies deep inside them, especially if they are writing fiction. Every one of us carries a past inside of us, and that past has shaped and molded us for good or bad into the person that we are today. An author must put that part of themselves into their writing, especially their characters. When I describe a character, I become that person, like an actor that plays a part. In that process, part of me enters into the character because I’m thinking: what would I say, what would I do, or how would I react to this or that situation.

 Authors must use their interests, abilities, and personality traits to write their story. I did not start writing until almost mid-life, but my early childhood interests, personality traits, and motivations stayed with me and became the driving force in writing mystery books for children. As a young child and all through adulthood, I was always curious and fascinated with the unknown and anything mysterious. I loved watching horror flicks on television, reading mystery books or just exploring my surroundings. Later in life, my experience as a teacher, counselor, and parent added even more background to use in my writing. When I began to write my middle-grade mystery series for children, my life experiences poured out onto the page and into the scenes and fictional characters I created.

My books were a reflection of my past experiences and what was important to me. Those important things developed into three main themes in my books: mystery, history, and relationships. Each one of my books in, The Bayshore Mysteries, contains those three important themes. Each one of you has a past and a vast repertoire of experiences. Don’t hesitate to use those experiences to create your best work ever!

*To purchase books from The Bayshore Mysteries, please visit Jerrye Sumrall’s Amazon Book Page.

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How Life Experiences Influence Your Writing!

Article for Marni Graff’s Blog @ http://bit.ly/1UbvI9Q
By Jerrye Sumrall

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How The Bayshore Mysteries began: Although my idea of doing a children’s mystery series didn’t come to me until later in life, the framework started when I was a child. I grew up in a small southern town with lots of freedom to play and explore my surroundings. As with all childhoods, there were ups and downs, but these experiences along with a vivid imagination and fascination with the unknown served as a springboard for my writing. In my adult years, my experience as a teacher and counselor further developed the writing framework that later grew into a unique children’s series, The Bayshore Mysteries.

Why I chose to write for the middle grade audience and how I got my ideas: I decided to write for the middle-grade audience because I’ve had the most experience with that group of children, and it was the age I remember so fondly as a child. I think my ideas came naturally from my fascination with mystery, adventure and the unknown, even into adulthood. I have always been intrigued with horror flicks, mystery books, and any entertainment venue with a mysterious setting and plot. I have also been fascinated with local historical settings that could easily be transformed into a mystery plot. That is actually how all of my books began. I would pick the historical location, choose the characters, and devise a mystery plot that would fit the characters and setting.

What are the historical settings for my books: The historical settings in my books are ones that I could easily research and visit. I am fortunate to live in an area that is full of history and suspense, wrapped up in unique settings. The Eastern Shore region of Mobile Bay, an area rich in Civil War history and small town culture, serves as a springboard for my first book, Intruders on Battleship Island. The Beatrice and Monroeville, AL, setting, found in The Secret Graveyard, brings to life new mysteries and secrets from that area. Mobile, Al, with its festive Mardi Gras celebration and spooky swamp setting serves as the backdrop for The Mystery of Wragg Swamp. Mound Island located deep in the delta region of Baldwin county Al, serves as the setting for the fourth book in the series, Mystery on Mound Island. Historic Blakeley State park in Spanish Fort, Al, the site of the old town of Blakeley, Fort Blakeley, and the last Civil War battle serves as the setting for the fifth book in the series, The Ghost of Blakeley Past.

My emphasis on relationships and understanding others: For the character relationship aspect of the stories, I wanted to emphasize getting along and understanding others. In addition to the main characters that appear in each of my books, I have also included at least one new character who was either annoying, disliked, or very misunderstood. Through the course of each story, the characters all learned important lessons in friendship, courage, and determination. That idea came from my own childhood and from my experience as a teacher and counselor.

In summary: In each one of my books, I’ve tried to incorporate mystery, action and adventure, local history, and enduring characters who learn lessons in friendship, courage, and self-awareness. I feel that my choice of unusual settings, my use of historical fact, my presentation of age-appropriate mystery, and my focus on lessons in self-reliance and respect for others has made The Bayshore Mysteries a unique middle grade series.

Biography for Jerrye Sumrall: Jerrye Sumrall lives in Spanish Fort, Alabama with her husband. Formerly an elementary schoolteacher and counselor, she is now a full-time writer, homemaker, amateur photographer and office manager for she and her husband’s business. She is the author of five middle grade books: Intruders on Battleship Island, The Secret Graveyard, The Mystery of Wragg Swamp, Mystery on Mound Island, and The Ghost of Blakeley Past, all part of a mystery series called, The Bayshore Mysteries.

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*For more information about Jerrye Sumrall: Please visit her websites

https://jerrye35.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/jerryewrites?fref=ts

*All five books in The Bayshore Mysteries can be purchased in print and e-book format at Amazon.com http://amzn.to/1ji9HE9

INTRUDERS ON BATTLESHIP ISLAND

http://amzn.to/1ji9HE9

Something strange is happening on Battleship Island!

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At first, strange lights flickered on the island. Then they were gone. Two men carrying flashlights appeared. Then they quickly sped away in their boat. A few days later, the men came back. What were they doing on the island? Could they be hiding a secret?
     Jeff Douglas and his pals are plunged into a series of scary adventures as they discover the real truth about the island. An old shack with a secret underground room, hidden treasures, a spooky house, dangerous thieves, and several narrow escapes, reveal the island’s past, and teach the boys a valuable lesson in friendship, courage and determination.
      Intruders on Battleship Island is the first book in the series, The Bayshore Mysteries. Be sure to check out the other four books in the series, The Secret Graveyard, The Mystery of Wragg Swamp, Mystery on Mound Island and The Ghost of Blakeley Past.
     **Intruders On Battleship Island reached Number 1 on Amazon’s Best Selling Children’s Historical Mysteries, Top 100 Free.

Battery McIntosh Island a few years ago

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Battery McIntosh Island in 1995

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An artist drawing of the Battle of Mobile Bay

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Union Admiral David G Farragut

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Admiral Farragut in the Battle of Mobile Bay

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Admiral Franklin Buchanan, who commanded a small confederate fleet in the Battle of Mobile Bay.

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Peter Bernard who once lived on Battery McIntosh Island

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Peter Bernard’s boat and shack

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Click on the link to see more pictures

http://bit.ly/22ovJ0z

Amazon Is Culling Book Reviews!

Attention all authors!  Have you had a friend, a family member, another author, or even someone you don’t know give you a favorable review? Amazon may delete it!

If you’ve checked your amazon book page lately, you may find that you’ve lost some reviews for no apparent reason. Be sure to check out an article written by, David Streitfield, on Amazon’s new review policy. His article explains Amazon’s new policy and how it is affecting thousands of authors. Even more, Amazon’s new “purge policy” is affecting tens of thousands of book reviews.

Click on the link below to read David Streitfield’s excellent article!

http://www.nytimes.com/…/amazon-book-reviews-deleted-in-a-p…

What Is The Truth Behind Amazon’s Purge Of Book Reviews?

I recently had a review removed from my latest book, The Ghost of Blakeley Past.  http://amzn.to/1ji9HE9 I am not sure why it was removed, and Amazon’s explanation was very vague and generic. This problem seems to be happening more and more with Amazon and has become a troubling issue for many authors.  In view of the current trend of events regarding book reviews, I wanted to post information from a variety of sources. I am not stating an opinion either way, but simply relaying information.  You be the judge!

Below are several websites that discuss the issue of Amazon deleting book reviews.

Don’t Let Your Amazon Reviews Be Deleted   http://bit.ly/1D2Ni9n

Giving Mom’s Book Five Stars?  http://nyti.ms/1F92OjA

Amazon Reviews Are Disappearing   http://bit.ly/1EaaIaB

Disappearing Amazon Reviews   http://bit.ly/1EUhAtS

Amazon Tackles Review Problem, Deletes Wrong Reviews   http://onforb.es/1NGNu15

Amazon Removes Reviews    http://huff.to/189O1YK

Why is Amazon deleting writers’ reviews of other authors’ books?   http://lat.ms/1AeBgUe

Amazon Still Deleting Books and Reviews Inexplicably. Or is There an Explanation?    http://bit.ly/1KTGJtT

Amazon removes book reviews by fellow authors    http://bit.ly/1Hy5nuQ

Amazon Freaks Out About Sock Puppet Reviews And Deletes A Bunch Of Real Reviews    http://bit.ly/1D2MDog

The Ghost of Blakeley Past

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Something strange is happening at Historic Blakeley State Park!

First, Jeff hears strange stories about the park. Then, there is talk about a ghost. Next, Jeff and his pals plan an overnight camping trip to the historic site. What is going on there? Are the strange stories true? Will they meet a ghost? Jeff knows he has to find out.

Jeff Douglas and his pals solve an exciting mystery when they go to Historic Blakeley State Park, the site of the last major battle of the Civil War, Fort Blakeley, and the location of the 1814 town of Blakeley. An exciting trek through the park, a strange presence, a scary night search, and a threatening storm are all part of their adventure. As they embark on their amazing journey, they learn valuable lessons in friendship and courage, and discover the amazing Civil War history of Historic Blakeley State Park.

The Ghost of Blakeley Past is the fifth book in The Bayshore Mysteries. Be sure to look for the other four books in the series.

Available through Amazon.com  http://amzn.to/1IkcCdV

CreateSpace  http://bit.ly/1VTshXe

The Battle of Fort Blakeley, AL  http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/blakely1.html

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Fort Blakeley, The Last Battle of the Civil War   http://www.exploringoffthebeatenpath.com/Battlefields/FortBlakeley/index.html

The Siege of Fort Blakeley  http://www.blakeleypark.com/civilwar.asp

Historic Blakeley State Park http://www.blakeleypark.com/

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Great tips for reducing eye strain and headaches!

If you’re getting headaches or eye strain from staring at a computer screen, here are 10 great tips, courtesy of http://yhoo.it/1bogWFT

  • 1. If you are still using a CRT monitor (the big ones from the back that are NOT LCD monitors) then consider getting a gamma filter. It is a little screen that you put in front of your monitor to filter out most of the bad stuff that directly harms your eyes. It will not work for the LCD monitors because they work on entirely different principles.
  • 2. Sit up straight and try to reduce the stress on your eyes as much as possible. For example, don’t tilt your eyes and then force your eyes to the side to stare at the screen. The screen should be directly in front of your eyes so that you don’t turn your head or your eyes to look at the screen.
  • 3. Never stare at the screen continuously (like when you are reading something). Look away (at the keyboard for example) every few seconds. Preferably look at something far away like the opposite corner of the room or something because you don’t want your eyes fixated on something close for too long.
  • 4. If you are using any monitor (LCD or CRT) then turn down the brightness, contrast, and the color settings. (Personally I leave them all around 10 or something or the “economic” setting some of them have) but if you are only using it for work then technically black and white should be enough for you. Turn those down to absolute minimum so that you can still read and see because you don’t want to make the screen too dark and then squint your eyes to read something that is too dark or not sharp enough.
  • 5. Lower the resolution (for me 800×600 is good enough) because that will make everything look bigger including the text and images so that you don’t have to force your eyes to work harder. You won’t have to squint them to see something. It will also allow you to sit further away from the screen.
  • 6. If you don’t want to lower the resolution (because it cuts in the amount of workspace you have on your screen) then just increase the default size of text and icons on your desktop. Change your browser settings to make the text appear larger than it normally shows.
  • 7. Never lean close to the monitor. Always sit up straight and as far back as possible without having to squint your eyes to read something. This prevents neck injuries too.
  • 8. In general, try to give your eyes some exercise. Everyday (preferably in the morning, outside in fresh cold air without your glasses if you wear them) just roll your eyes completely 10-20 times all the way around for about 5 minutes. And then at night, wash your eyes thoroughly with cold water before you go to bed. Cold clean water is the best moisturizer/cleaner for your eyes. Don’t waste money on the pharmaceutical companies. Trust me, this is very refreshing.
  • 9. In general, while reading or even working on your computer, make sure that lighting is sufficient. It shouldn’t be too dark because you will be stressing your eyes and the contrast of the screen with the surrounding area will be too high. The lighting shouldn’t be too bright either because bright lights will just tire your eyes quickly and they may also be desensitized which means that the screen will appear too dark this time and again you will have trouble.
  • 10. In general, getting a lot of rest and the entire needed sleep will help your eyes a lot as well. Instead of working late at night. Go to bed on time and then wake up early to finish the work. This is a much better option than working late at night, especially on the computer, for your eyes.
  • All of these together will help your eyes a lot. Try these out for a month or so and if you still get headaches, then your eyesight may be weak and you should definitely see your optician.