Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

 The Envelope Please...

It was a difficult decision for our illustrious judges, whom we shall soon unmask, but amidst toil, sweat, and different time zones, they have chosen our winners!  Words such as "well-written, evocative, and enticing" describe some of the winning entries and believe me...these judges took their jobs quite seriously.  What can I say?  We had fantastic writers enter the "Spring Into Action" Flash Fiction Contest.

All of our entrants deserve a standing ovation and round of applause!  This one's for you.

This was the first contest on Soul and Sweet Tea, and its goals were to a) get my fellow writers inspired to write and create while having fun at the same time and b) celebrate this new blog!  Indeed we will do another contest in the near future, and somehow I promise to make it even more fun for all to enter.  It'll take more brain power, hand-wringing and pots of caffeinated tea to accomplish this lofty goal, but I'm up for the challenge.

So now, without further adieu or unnecessary hype, the unveiling of the
Final Four!

Okay, so there IS a little bit of additional hype, being that Thumper the bunny is going to open the golden envelope, but here goes...

Honorable Mentions, a.k.a. the silver medalists, 
the runners-up, and winners of the
 coveted mugs are...

Olivia Kelly
Laura Renegar 

That leaves but the spot at the top. 

The gold medal.  The champion.  And I could insert an awesome, but over-used song by Queen here, but instead I choose this pic of Shaun White.  He invented the double McTwist at the Olympics, and our winning writers here tried the literary version of the same stunt in 200 words or less.

Shaun White celebrates his epic win at the Olympics, his two arms up in victory,
after nailing the double McTwist!
Usually one victor stands on the tallest step, however today the tiny step shall be shared by TWO champions, who we hope shall not elbow-jab one another, but instead play nicely while sharing the top spot...

And the writers sharing this tiny space are...

Terri Bruce

Winners of the Open Books package and even more mugs!

Buy/read/donate to  !

And now the unveiling of our judges, two dangerous pen-wielding men with minds built for lee-tra-chure and mayhem! I thank both of these wonderful and talented men for taking the time to judge this event.

Meet our first judge, Speechwriterguy, who can be found with the same name on the twitter via the matrix!  

Speechwriter Guy, the man behind the
Red Pen Of Doom  and contributing editor to Criminal Element
and The Big Thrill
He's a reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Was contributing editor to the New York Times'  as their expert on publicity and scandals. Now contributing editor to Criminal Element and The Big Thrill and wrote a thriller that was finalist for some award. Can also be found at his silly blog, . 

All kinds of bio nonsense:

If you would like to receive some feedback about your entry, give him a friendly tweet.

And now meet our second judge, who carefully read the entries from thousands of miles away, on the other side of the globe, and was (Surprise! You didn't see this coming at all did you?)recently interviewed on our blog, the best-selling thriller writer, Roger Smith!

"Thanks for inviting me to judge, it was great fun."

All the best,

Roger Smith's thrillers MIXED BLOOD, WAKE UP DEAD and DUST DEVILS are published in seven languages and two are in development as movies in the U.S. His books have won the DEUTSCHER KRIMI PREIS (German Crime Fiction Award) and been nominated for SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE BEST NOVEL awards. His fourth novel, CAPTURE, will be out in mid-2012.  Want to know more about Roger?  Click on links below.

~Let's do this again soon.  All honorable mentions and winners please send me your names and addresses so you can get the cool prize(s).  Also, if you'll be so kind, take a digital photo of yourself mugging with your mug (and books if you're sharing the top spot) and a few lines telling us about yourself, and I'll feature you alongside your winning work of flash-fiction on the blog.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Write Back to the Future!

Quick, get in 'cause they'll be here any minute!  No, I'm not going to tell you who's chasing me or why, just jump the heck into my tricked-out DeLorean. You can ask questions later.

We're going for a little ride, you and I, where we'll write the past into our present manuscripts!

Before I put my key into the ignition and flip the switch on the flux capacitor, we've got to decide where and exactly when we're going to go from here.

Since those scoundrels I've written about in THE DEATH BROKERS are closing in on us, I'm going to type in the year 2002 on the capacitor keyboard, because that's where the story in my manuscript begins.

Are you buckled in and holding on?  Good because here we go, off to the year 2002!

Wow, it feels strange to be back here, but suddenly I feel and look younger too.  This time travel is better than Botox!  So let's see...if my story is to begin in this year, then we should dig around and see what we can find out about the year 2002.  Are there any notable events which could be worked easily into the plot of my manuscript?

Hmm...Let's see if my laptop works in the past.  It does and there are some really diverse events that happened then, or should I say now.  There's the invention of the camera phone by Nokia, and the year 2002 was referred to as a 'palindrome' year, in that either backward or forward it's the same number! Now this is interesting,  the Department of Justice began investigating some company called 'Enron', and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began on March 1. I'd say the year 2002 had some interesting developments and scandals.

All of these facts are cool, but what would aid in the development of my characters in the story?  Some literary powers-that-be say it's best to not date your manuscript, but in the case of my manuscript, this is something I have to do because it's loosely based upon a cluster of scandals from within a specific window of time.  So to the elusive powers-that-be I offer this response:

Now wait, you say you've found the original commercial for the Nokia camera phone?  It's showing on t.v. right now, in 2002?  Great!

This is awesome, and it tells me everything I'd need to know to be able to write it into the scene.  Ihave to admit, I did like that Shakira song back in the day.  Including this will inject a bit of humor and nostalgia at just the right moment in my manuscript, and I know which character is going to use this technological dinosaur.

Uh that a crack of lightening we hear?  I think the bad guys are on our trail again, so it's time to jump back into the DeLorean and plug in a year you'd like to visit for your manuscript. 

What? You entered the year 1789?  You mean to tell me we need to go back in time to research the year the French Revolution began?  

There's no you tube digital record from that time, and only books and online documents or historical artifacts could help in writing your manuscript, making it authentic for both time and place.  What else can we do to help you quickly get the information you need?  Where else can we turn?

Good thinking!  You sent out an online distress message to a writer of historical fiction to help us out.  

Here's her response.  And wow, can Sophie Perinot (author of THE SISTER QUEENS) type fast!

"Like a majority of historical fiction authors, I did a substantial amount of both primary and secondary source research for my debut novel, The Sister Queens.  The process of researching is not as onerous as it was even five years ago.  Technology has greatly improved access to information (and experts) right from authors’ desks—everything from the contents of scholarly journals to digital copies of manuscripts is now available on-line.  Being able to search WorldCat and Jstor from home rather than going through a reference librarian . . . who doesn’t love that?!  Of course the virtual world hasn’t obviated more concrete documents entirely.  I travel to reach sources when I have to (or use that old standby the interlibrary loan) and have stacks of old-fashioned books which I am constantly tripping over."

 Whoever said there's no thrills
in historical fiction never read this book!

That's great to know, and when we get back to the future you can use those resources to help finish your manuscript.  

Oh wait, here's a reader comment from Mayumi H (@bonusparts_fic on twitter) that just came in and it's filled with more good advice about researching the past:

"I wrote a story about turn-of-century Japan, and had a great time reading articles and speaking w/grandparents."  

She also advised spending time in the stacks, doing a lot of reading and getting a feel for the language of the period.  Thanks Mayumi for the great tips! 

Sorry, but we've got to run.  I can't let THE DEATH BROKERS catch me, so we're going to make like a preacher and get the hell outta here!  But remember, researching the past to make your present work fabulous can be fun. 

Ooooh what is this?  A sharp-dressed man who looks like Pitbull has pulled up beside our DeLorean in a black Ford?  You vote we follow him?  



"To understand the future...we have to go back in time."
from "Back In Time" from Men In Black III, by the handsome Pitbull!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fellow Writer's Fun Contest: 
Query Flops!

Somehow, the query for this book made it through, and this
fantastic fictional counting book was published, therefore there
IS hope for us!


Old Navy Flip-Floppin' Fun!

If you're a reader of this blog and want me to announce a contest or promotion on your writing blog, drop me a line and I'll be happy to spread the good news.  We're all on a journey to become published authors (although some have reached this amazing goal), so honing our art and participating in fun contests is one of the best ways to improve skills.

One fellow reader and writer, Laura Renegar, is having a fun contest on her blog where you all get in a virtual group hug and get over any query flop frustration you might have experienced in your journey as a writer.  All you do is share your pain and mistakes (to help out our fellow scribes) and you're entered in a drawing for some cute flip flops.  Y'all know I like fun! 

Although the query for my manuscript, THE DEATH BROKERS,  has been written for months,  it's hasn't been sent out so I'm not at all eligible to win the pair of flip flops from Old Navy she's giving away, but you can!

I'm also pretty darned sure I'll receive my fair share of rejections when I do begin submitting my queries.  But will y'all rally and give me a virtual group hug when that happens?  I'll probably need it.  Because if not, I'll resort to hugging my fluffy little dog (a rescued Havanese) who isn't much of a cuddle bunny.  If that doesn't work, I could resort to sneaking up and hugging my 13 year old son (who will protest also way too much, probably saying something like, "Mom stop that!"),  although my hubs might be the best bet for an empathetic embrace.  If jags of crying or lamenting follow the hug-fest, he might not be so amenable. 

Another approach, and possibly a better one, would be to try to preempt this pain and toughen myself up.  That's always a good thing to do.  Maybe some kick-boxing?  MMA?  Hmmm...there's a world of possibilities to consider.  All I know is some amount of pain is coming my way, and while I'm going to do my best to send in a truly awesome query, hoping to knock the socks off of the perfect agent, I've got to be realistic.

We're Going Back to the Future, Y'all!

Later this week we'll delve into something different, and discuss the fun in writing about the past, and take a ride in Marty McFly's reinvented, totally southern, tricked-out DeLorean!  It's perfect for mudding in the future, and I've had both Marty and Doc install cup holders in the dash, to hold our travel cups of sweet tea!  They've also rigged the flux capacitor to keep the drinks cold.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Feeling the Sun on Your Face

How do you feel when you write?  Do you experience emotion?
 I've been told this certain phenomena could happen, but I didn't believe it until yesterday. We'll delve into this mystery soon,  but I want to know... what happens when you write?  How does the story unfold for you?

The writers who know me (God bless their souls!) have heard how I have a tendency to feel as though I'm watching a movie as I write, seeing the characters and the action before me.  All I do is get my laptop and some popcorn and away I go.

 It's really interesting to find out what happens and what we experience when we write.

  Do you see the characters and the action happen before you, (the way I do) as if on the silver screen?  Do you feel as though you're sitting and talking to them, maybe even having coffee with them?  Are you smack dab in the middle of all the action, walking silently through scenes like a ghost?  What's it like for you?

Unless you're a writer, you'd probably think any of us ready for Nurse Ratched to hand us our medication and place us in the white rubber rooms after reading this, but writing is definitely  an experience, both singular and unique.

"The voices are that of the main character...I promise!"

Yes, definitely singular and unique, and similar to the experience of the reader.  Every reader recreates the books they read in their mind, making it a truly special experience.  This very reason is exactly why there will always be books around in some form, whether digital or made of paper, or in whatever form the future will hold.  A book is an adventure between two covers and it's up to us as writers to make that adventure compelling and evoke emotion.

And yes, sometimes even a manuscript in revision can evoke emotions, and we're coming back to the phenomena I brought up at the beginning of this post.  Yesterday I experienced something I hadn't ever before, and it happened when I was revising a specific scene in my manuscript, where the m.c. is feeling a moment of exhilaration as she sees her destination ahead (Character is on a road trip and hasn't had a vacation in years...poor thing.) and as she drives over an iconic suspension bridge, she feels the heat of the sun beaming down upon her through the sunroof and hears the rush of wind and feels...happy!

Not sure what caused it, but suddenly I was in the driver's seat of the vehicle, and I was feeling the excitement of the character and guess what?  I felt the warmth on my face as if I was there.  It was honest-to-God heat I experienced.  Anyhow, I kept on with the revision work and the "total immersion effect" (what I'm calling it now because "unexplained phenomena" sounds like it belongs on a show about area 51) continued.  I felt the character's optimism, and literally what it felt like to drive where she was going.  Needless to say, it was really fun yesterday with the revisions. 

After I was done a few hours later, hubs came into the room and saw me smiling.  He said, "Wow you're in a good mood."  And I told him I just had the most fun writing I'd ever had before.  He just kept walking into the kitchen.  A few other writers who may have been writing a heart-wrenching scene have told me they've even wept, feeling the pain of the character as they wrote. 

Let me know what happens when you write, and most importantly has this "total immersion effect" ever happened to you? Ever laughed out loud or cried or felt the sun on your face or the wind in your hair?

We're all in this together, so let's have fun...and write!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Contest Closed at 12:00 P.M.  E.S.T. Today!

Our wonderful judges will begin deliberations soon, and we'll announce the winner on Friday, April 27, no make that WHEN THE JUDGES ARE FINISHED!  We're going to give the judges plenty of time, after all the entries were just that good!

Any entries sent after the deadline will not be accepted for the competition.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Time's Running Out! 
Enter the "Spring Into Action" Flash Fiction Contest!

Geez I'm certainly glad I'm not judging this contest!  Such great entries and each has made me want to know more, see where the stories lead.  Who knows?  Maybe these blurbs of flash fiction will lead to full-blown manuscripts?  That's the whole goal after all, to encourage each other to write and have fun and step outside our literary comfort zones.
Just a gentle nudge to you, dear readers, that our contest shall end on Sunday, April 22 at high-noon (that's twelve p.m. for those who never watched a John Wayne movie before), eastern standard time (Hotlanta timezone).

Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy reading the entries and to all who have entered, best of luck and thank you for entering.  Hope you had fun!

We will announce the winner(s) and yes there will be one winner and TWO honorable mentions now that we've surpassed the ten entry mark.  I will contact the winner and honorable mentions to obtain addresses and additional contact information.  In case you're the winner, think of some books and authors you'd like to see on your bookshelves, and I'll send this information to Open Books so they can begin preparing the winner's prize pack!

Thank you for your participation and for stopping by for a glass of tea with me.  Never underestimate the powerful elixir that is sweet tea!

Until we announce our winners and the names of our secret judges (okay one's not so secret), enjoy what I now believe is the funniest commercial out right now and yes,  it's got a literary angle.  Scary part is I think my 13 year old son has accused me of this very crime...egads!

"A Mother's Betrayal"--Where are the books for this "book club"?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Spring Into Action" Flash Fiction Contest Is Here!

Win Books and an Awesome Writer's Mug!

It's here!  It's the big day!  It's our first-ever blog contest, and it's so we can sharpen our literary skills as writers.  To those who say they can't write flash fiction, I ask them if they can tweet, because if they can effectively use twitter, then of course they could write flash fiction.  Would you like to know what draws me to writing pieces of flash fiction and what's inspired me to enter contests similar to this one?  A fun writing prompt usually on a great blog can entice me to enter, but hey... this contest is different because we have photographs, and they're killer visual writing prompts (one literally is).

What I love about writing and reading flash fiction is the fact it's untidy.  It has loose ends with regard to the plot, and it makes me want to either read more or write more to find out where the story's headed.

 If we're to become successful writers, we must master the art of learning how to leave our readers on the edge of their comfortable reading chairs begging for more.  Master the art of flash fiction, and your talent as a writer exponentially increases.  As I see things, as writers we are at our best when we lift up one another and offer encouragement, and that's what this contest is all about.  

Before we go any further, let's lay down the rules of the contest.

1) You must become a member/follower of this blog (unless you are already a follower, of course). 
2)Flash-fiction word count must be 200 words or less.
3)You create a unique piece based on one of the photographs below.  In case you wondered, yes I took all of these photographs. Please let us know which photograph(s) your work is based upon. You may pick up to two photographs.
4)Your work must not be anything else you've published before or part of an already existing work.  Let's make this 100% organic writing and totally unique!

Now that we've gotten all of that out of the way,
Let's Get Ready to, make that write!

Now pick your photograph, and go!

Photograph 1:

Photograph 2: 

Photograph 3: 

Photograph 4:

Best of luck to all entrants!  We will announce the winners as soon as judges are finished with the results(that means it probably won't be next Sunday, but soon after).  Contest ends next Sunday, April 22 at 12:00 p.m. As stated previously, there will be one winner and depending on number of entries, either one or two honorable mentions. If ten or more entries, then two honorable mentions will be awarded.

As soon as judge(s) are finished tallying votes, we'll announce winners the next day and unveil the identity of the judge(s).  Also, on "Soul & Sweet Tea", we'll feature the winners and their work of flash fiction!

*Late Breaking Contest News!!! 11:00 p.m. Sunday, April 15

Just confirmed that our winner will receive a prize package which will be purchased from the most beautiful bookstore in Chicago, Open Books!  If you're not aware of this amazing bookstore and it's purpose, then check this out.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Soul and Sweet Tea Presents: An Interview with Roger Smith

Author, Roger Smith

"No other thriller writer is writing such lean and powerful prose. Moving and gritty -- a must read for crime fiction fans." DAVE ZELTSERMAN - SMALL CRIMES & THE HUNTED SERIES 

His writing has been described as beautifully gritty, as he is able to fuse emotion even into the darkest of thrillers. If you haven't purchased any of his books yet, you will after getting to know Roger Smith, author of the international best-sellers WAKE UP DEAD and DUST DEVILS, and his most recent release, ISHMAEL TOFFEE.

Buy Roger Smith's Latest Novella-ISHMAEL TOFFEE!

His work is amazing and the awards are piling up,  as well as the praise, but kindly Mr. Smith was able to take a few minutes out of his schedule to conduct an interview with me.  I'm really excited to be able to share this experience with you, and even more honored to say that for the first interview conducted on my blog, it's with this incredible author.

Q:  When did you first realize your love for writing?  (example:  how old were you, during what phase/time in your life)

Since I was a kid I was crazy about crime fiction. In fact I wrote my first book when I about ten years old (all of twenty pages) and, yes, it was a crime novel. So, I always wanted to write crime, but during the apartheid years in South Africa writing crime fiction seemed to be beside the point: there was a far greater crime to talk about.

Then one day in 2007 I said to myself, “Okay, this is it. Time to see if you can write that crime novel.” So I sat down and wrote Mixed Blood. I had very few expectations and no sense at all that I was doing something that would completely transform my life.

Q:  What inspires you to write?  What events have inspired some of your latest novels?

As a teenager in Johannesburg, I watched white cops mow down black school kids my age during the 1976 youth uprising. A few years later I was drafted into a white army fighting a meaningless bush war against older versions of those black kids. Disaster Zondi, Mixed Blood and Dust Devil’s Zulu investigator, is one of those kids 35 years on. And Mixed Blood’s rogue cop, Rudi Barnard, is a relic from the apartheid era, roaming the badlands of Cape Town, still slaughtering people darker than himself.

When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela came to power, there was a period in South Africa where we went from being the pariah of the world, to a role-model for transformation. A giddy time. Then Mandela moved on, and the rulers of the country became ever more self-serving and corrupt, as politicians tend to do.

Apartheid is over, but a violent crime epidemic, poverty and the highest incidence of HIV/ AIDS in the world present new challenges that are left largely unaddressed. Our constitution is glowing testament to enlightenment and individual freedom, but teenage girls are sold into slave marriages in the name of tradition and some men believe that raping virgins (often children) will cure them of AIDS.  The ex-commissioner of police has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison for corruption.

This is the background against which Dust Devils is set, and what I’ve written is no love letter.

Q:  Is there any advice you would give to new writers?

Your challenge is to find stories and characters that move, stimulate and excite you -- material that you are passionate about. If you find yourself shocked, appalled, terrified and moved by what appears on the page, then your readers will be too.

Q:  Who is your most favorite character you've created?

Well that’s tough to answer, because I like them all, even the villains. But I have a soft spot for Disaster Zondi—he is world-weary and cynical but can’t quite shake his old idealism, and seems to be angry at the same things that I am. And Ishmael Toffee, the ex-con from my new novella, is as close as I have come to writing a hero.

Q:  Who is your least favorite character you've created?

The character I would least like to sit down and have a meal with it the piggish, corrupt cop from Mixed Blood, Rudi Barnard. I met a lot of thuggish white men like him in the South African army. Men who defended their murderous racism as “doing God’s work.” Creating Barnard (and designing his destruction) was my revenge.

Q:  With all of the literary awards you've received, what do you think has been your unique recipe for your success?

I love writing. It is as simple as that. I’m just very grateful that there seems to be a readership out their for my brand of dark crime fiction. But it never gets any easier. I’m about to start work on my seventh book, and the prospect of the empty page (or monitor screen) is as terrifying as it was when I started my first. More so, in fact.

Q:  Which authors have most influenced your writing?

I started reading American crime fiction long before I started shaving, but it was a book by Richard Stark (the pseudonym of Donald E. Westlake) that really turned my head: The Hunter (1964). I still have it, a dog-eared little paperback with a plain silver cover sporting a bullet hole and the one-liner: a novel of violence. A tight piece of gutter existentialism – lean as a Brazilian supermodel – it follows Parker (no first name, no morals, precious little backstory) an ex-con out of prison and out for revenge. This is a sawed-off shotgun of a book, and Stark’s writing is cut to the bone, but he still produces hard urban poetry

My next major influence was Elmore Leonard, whose slangy, street-smart parables have been imitated by many – including Quentin Tarantino – but never equalled. The world of fiction would have been immeasurably poorer without his incredible input, and he continues to produce brilliant novels well into his eighties.

Whenever anybody trots out the old saw that protagonists have to be sympathetic, I point them in the direction of Jim Thompson’s string of dark and subversive novels. My favorite if his classic The Killer Inside Me(1952). The unreliable narrator, Lou Ford, is a small-town sheriff who appears to be a sweet, dumb, hayseed, but is a cold-blooded killer. A Thompson classic. His characters aren’t nice, but they’re damn interesting.

Now that I’m a writer myself I still read a lot of crime, and a lot of it still inspires me. But living in South Africa– one of the most violent and corrupt countries in the world – most of my inspiration comes from the violence and corruption around me. And reading crime novels has become an escape from the realities around me.

Q:   And finally, tell our readers a little more about yourself!

I grew up in JohannesburgSouth Africa, in the 60s and 70s and lived there until the late 90s. In the 80s I was into movies, a founder member of a non-racial film co-op. I started off with ambitions to direct, and did quite a bit of that. As well as producing. Then I worked mainly as a screenwriter.

Through the 80s and early 90s Jo’burg was the place to be, the centre of the action. I wouldn’t have dreamed of moving, but by the late 90s I got seduced by the promise of a very different lifestyle, so I slid on down to Cape Town. For a couple of years I lived quite happily inside a Cape Town bubble of sun and sea. Then I fell in love with (and later married) a woman who grew up in the Cape Flats ghetto and my vision of Cape Town had to expand dramatically, which resulted in Mixed BloodWake Up Dead and Ishmael Toffee.

For the last five years I have been lucky enough to be a full-time writer.

Q:  What do you have coming up next?  Are you working on another novel?

My fourth novel, Capture, will be published in mid-2012. Even though it is also set in South Africa it is a little different to my other books, more of a psychological thriller. That’s all I’m going to say about it right now . . .

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Mr. Smith, and want to remind our readers that coming tomorrow is the launch of our first blog contest, the "Spring Into Action" Flash-Fiction Contest!

This weekend is made up of two firsts for Soul and Sweet Tea, and I thank you for stopping by.  See you tomorrow!

Friday, April 13, 2012

One More Tidbit Before "Spring Into Action" Contest Begins:

You need to follow my blog!  

But hey, we have fun around here and drink lots of tea come rain or shine, in snow or in summer, and we celebrate authors!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Win Books & Cool Writer's Mug! Enter the "Spring Into Action" Flash Fiction Contest Coming This Saturday!

You could win books and more!  Who wouldn't want
to flaunt their winnings and status as a writer with one of these?

It even sez on the bottom, "Use Mug in Event of Manuscript Edits or Deadlines".  Cool eh?
Yes dear readers, all of this can be YOURS!  But in order to flaunt your winnings, you have to enter first.  For one week, I shall challenge my blog readers and fellow writers to a fabulous, flash-fiction contest where in 200 words or less, you bring to life one of four photographs I will place on the blog, based upon my recent treks throughout northeast Florida and south Georgia.

It's your time to shine, and the winner will receive a gift package of books and goodies any thriller or mystery writer would love, along with the above coveted writer's mug proclaiming you had what it took to win the contest!  There will also be selected not one, but two honorable mention awards (I will award two if more than ten entries in the contest, if less then only one honorable mention given.) and they also will be able to flash about their winning coffee mugs to the chagrin of fellow writers at conferences or lectures.  

Oh and did I mention that there will be two very well-known judges for this fight-club-worthy competition?  They are ready for some literary action and will be bringing their red pens to the virtual arena beginning this Saturday.  Get ready to impress them. Their secret identities shall be revealed on the day the winners are announced.

The contest will run for one week only!  

Are you in or are you out?  The arena is calling, so bring it on fellow writers!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Into Action With Thrilling Author Interview and Huge Contest!

above:  Roger Smith, author of DUST DEVILS and novella,  ISHMAEL TOFFEE

"One secret to good noir is keeping the beauty and the dread in perfect tension so the reader is attracted and repelled at the same time. Smith does it." PETER ROZOVSKY - DETECTIVES BEYOND BORDERS 

Yes, I've been away for a few weeks, first absorbed with some re-writes and edits for my mansucript, THE DEATH BROKERS,  then gone on a four day adventure trekking through northeast Florida and south Georgia, but folks I'm back and with a vengeance.  Like a thriller writer could come back any other way right?

Let me make up for the time lost with two tempting literary adventures I've designed just for you.  First, I am going to introduce to you Roger Smith, an amazing thriller writer and if you haven't already become a fan of his after reading DUST DEVILS, or MIXED BLOOD,  then you most certainly will become one after reading his latest work, ISHMAEL TOFFEE.

I would sincerely like to thank Mr. Smith, who will be taking time away from his busy schedule to stop by Soul and Sweet Tea to answer a few questions and introduce us to his world, which is half a world away from mine.

I must admit, I have had a curious obsession with South Africa ever since my brother in law spent several weeks there.  He showed me photos of a hauntingly beautiful countryside and told me stories of resilience, hope, and rebirth along with bloody tales from his big game hunts.  His pictures took my breath away, and I wanted to learn more, and then I found the works of Roger Smith, which only fueled more intrigue.  I must also confess dear readers, that I get the same almost-out-of-breath feeling after reading ISHMAEL TOFFEE.  As an author, Roger is just.that.damn.good.  He brings to life stories that are gritty but filled with emotion.

Many of you know of my penchant for thrillers artfully infused with emotion, and know that here and on twitter I get on my virtual soapbox from time to time preaching about how there simply aren't enough writers who are brave enough to bare their souls and inject raw emotion and feeling into their work, but Roger Smith knows how to do it, and gets the job done quite well if I must say so.  The ability to do this is truly an art form, and an almost forgotten one in today's sea of almost meaningless paperback thrillers.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa but now residing in Cape Town, he's been making huge waves in the thriller genre which have been felt around the world, much like a literary tsunami.  His debut, MIXED BLOOD (published in 2009 and translated into six languages) was the recipient of the German Crime Prize (the Deutscher Krimi Pries) and his follow-up hit, WAKE UP DEAD, is to be made into a feature film. Just a few of the many accolades for DUST DEVILS include the Ten Best Lists of the Barnes and Noble Book Club, Grift Magazine, Detectives Beyond Borders, The Drowning Machine, and African Book Club, and CrimeFictionLover chose DUST DEVILS as their book of the year in 2011.

Less than one month ago, Roger was nominated for the Spinetingler Magazine Award for Best Novel-New Voice. I am expecting even more awards to come his way with the novella, ISHMAEL TOFFEE, available on Amazon for only $2.99!


Check out the background story of ISHMAEL TOFFEE:

It is truly amazing to be able to read the words of a gifted author, but the chance to get to know such an amazing writer is a fantastic experience.  I hope you will join us for this candid, online interview with Mr. Smith, who is genuinely a wonderful person, and one of the best thriller writers today.

But wait...we're not done yet!

This weekend I'll also be announcing the "Spring Into Action" Writing Contest which will get your heart pumping as you get to create a work of flash fiction in 200 words or less!  Here's a huge hint:  you will create your work based upon some fantastic photographs I snapped along the highways and waterways of northeast Florida and south Georgia.

Just like my writing style, you see the beauty but almost miss
 the danger lurking beneath the surface, unless you look carefully at the whole picture.
(photo taken by me, Joey Francisco)

The rules will be simple and all you will do is pick a photograph from one of the four I will have up on the blog and then write your story.  There will be one winner and two honorable mentions.  The winner will receive a wonderful prize package and I will feature their work here on my blog along with the two runners up.  Winners will be chosen by both a secret celebrity author and another secret celeb writer/blog author!

So sharpen your literary blades my friends, we're about to kick things up a notch here on Soul and Sweet Tea!

Good nite y'all.