Publishing a manuscript to get it out in the public eye has its rewards.  It also can deliver a lump or two--not just the little things along the way, but much later...when the reviews start coming in (if you can even get reviews).

I was reminded of this fact only yesterday, as I looked on Amazon, smiling at three five-star reviews for my latest work--and in the mix, wouldn't you know it, one, one star review..."What, ONE star??" I thought to myself...then uttered a string of obscenities that I shall not repeat here.

Reading this one review reminded me of a valuable fact:  reviews are subjective--and sometimes they're colored by the admiration a reader has for the author.  Then there are those who enjoy the cloak of anonymity; this gives them a false sense of power--that they can with a few words, either support or condemn the work as "rubbish."  Then you have those who see a work with a few great reviews and they decide to screw up the rating by trashing the work, no matter if they've read it, or not.

"Take your lumps, son." I can hear my parent's voices echo in my mind.

I cracked a smile and laughed as I thought about it:  you can't have thin skin if you want your work read.

So give me two lumps, please.  That makes the coffee so much sweeter!!

The blog hasn't been too bloggish lately, has it?  Say, does anyone know the tune to "I have a great idea and I'd like to share it with you?"  Go ahead, think about it, I'll wait...

Our lack of presence here can only mean one thing:  we're working extremely hard behind the scenes to bring you great events and useful, informative & fun workshops.  The upcoming Writers Convention as it looks now, is going to be so full of events during weekend come September 23 & 24, it may burst! Come to think of it, that sort of matches my waistline...

We are here, make no mistake...and we're not going anywhere--so don't you go anywhere, unless it's to one of our great events!!


Poetry: First Place

From Out of the Clear Blue Western Sky Comes              

by Jo Middlebrooks
I listened on the radio in 1954.
The soft, mellow tone of his voice soothed my fears.
My twelve-year-old mind conjured up pictures
More vivid than those on TV of Penny and her Uncle Sky
His plane (the Songbird), and the dastardly crooks
He caught but never shot.

Who would think, in 2010,
I would hear that sound from way back then?
Here he comes again, off to save some troubled soul.
Mama's words instruct deep within my memory.
"Sky King is on. Wash your feet when you come in.
Leave that jar of lightning bugs on the back step."

From out of the clear blue western sky, he buzzes my patio.
The hum of the Songbird's engines tells me all is well.
Sky is on the way to save the day.

Well, actually, from out of the clear blue western sky,
Above the short runway (whose glide path crosses my yard)                                        
Comes some old guy doing a touch and go
In his Cessna 310 every Thursday afternoon.
He flies into sight and banks to the left.
The smooth hum of his Songbird growls down with the turn.

I feel safe on Thursday afternoons
To work in my garden or rest in the shade.
SKY-Y-Y KING-G-G flies just overhead.
He will see if I fall or faint in the heat.
Or, as I am prone to do these days,
Disappear, drifting back to another time.

Short Stories: First Place

Devil's Night
By Barbara Brockway
The last person I expected to see being marched into the Summerville, Georgia jailhouse in a bunny costume was my old babysitter, Genevieve.

            Not the Bugs or Harvey type of bunny, but the cleavage plunging, thigh flashing, high heel strutting Playboy kind, her curvy bottom barely covered by the plush pink fabric. One ear cocked suggestively, a wink at half-mast over her auburn curls. The bunny of many a male fantasy, my own included.

            She locked eyes with me.

            “Trick or treat,” she said, a wicked smile curved the corners of her lips upwards.

            “Jefferson,” she breathed boozily, in that Genevieve way that made my toes curl inside my steel-toed boots.  

            I was instantly transported back fifteen years to that October when I was thirteen, and the two-years-older Genevieve was enlisted by my mother to keep my younger brother and me from giving each other black eyes and knots on our skulls while she and her friend Wendy went dancing.

            “I’m too old for a babysitter,” I had protested, watching my mom apply lipstick in the foyer mirror.

Authors do a lot of thinking, as it pertains to their stories, the shopping around for agents and publishers. Certainly, I’m no exception to this fact.

I’ve had my works published in various venues over the years, and have had two independent publishing companies choose two of my manuscripts to publish.  Due to a set of unfortunate circumstances, the first of these publishers went out of business awhile back, the latter is due to close its doors by the end of 2016 due to crushing debt. Unfortunately, for every publisher you’ve heard of, there are literally hundreds of lesser known publishers out there, each vying for a piece of the pie.

After tremendous deliberation, I’ve finally decided to start my own publishing company; “Hang In There Books:” the name being sort of a play on my latest work in which the central character was hanged. It also reflects the dogged determination of an artist (yes, writing IS an art) in the pursuit of his or her dreams.

Right now, there is one word going through your mind: “why?”  Because us authors refuse to be defeated—and we refuse to coddle to the “pay us megabucks and we’ll make a movie out of your book” subsidy publisher who, after getting your money allows your work to languish in a closet, or worse, sends your precious work to the shredder.

However, I can’t do this alone--I'd appreciate your thoughts. 
Lifelong Columbus resident and local author Jeffrey A. Nix announces his latest work, "Deranged Justice: The Law & Lunacy of Bartow Grover Nix" (ISBN: 978-1-941072-35-6) was published February 18th. Autographed copies are now available at JudyBug’s Books at 1033 Broadway, or at the Columbus Museum's Gift Shop.  Alternately, you may order non-autographed copies from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or order it from your favorite bookstore.  The publisher, Bygone Era Books, reports it is sold out of the title from their location. 

A short synopsis of the book follows:

Was he sane, or insane?  Was he feigning, or was he just crafty? Was he guilty, or not guilty?

On November 7th, 1919 Bartow Grover Nix was hanged for a double murder in Columbus, Georgia...questions continue concerning the prosecution of the case...was it done properly; was Nix even sane.  Nearly a century later...great nephew reviewed the case with fresh eyes...what he found led to a compelling tale...of the nature of southern the early 20th century.

The following is an edited copy of a recent interview with the author by Playgrounds Magazine for their January 2016 edition.
1. How long have you been writing, and what inspired you to start?
I've been writing for as far back as I can remember, but what really kicked it into high gear for me was when I was in the Wesley Heights Elementary School's summer reading program.  For three summers ('67, '68 & '69) I voraciously read literally hundreds of books.  I read some of the classics; "Tom Sawyer" and "Moby Dick."  I thought how neat it would be to step into a story to explore it for I picked up a pen and paper and went to work.

2. What do you think most characterizes your writing?
I've been told by more than one reader of my stories that I seem to insert my presence at the beginning and then step out of it--something more famous writers have been known to do.  Frankly, I think what mainly characterizes my writing is the bluntness and attention to detail.

3. What gave you the idea for your book?
Curiosity, plain and simple.  I wanted to discover for myself the true facts of this man's life--especially after being rebuffed all the times I tried to find out about him from older relatives--nobody wanted to talk about him.  Setting the record straight became my driving impetus.  With the Nix Family Cemetery (where Bartow is buried) in disrepair, I figured why not turn two negatives into a positive--use the proceeds from the sales of the book to repair and maintain the cemetery.

4. What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Getting to the truth--the whole story.  Even today, there are some who refuse to discuss the subject of Bartow or the court cases.  I had to play part detective and part writer.   That and the tremendous amount of research it took.

5. What writers have inspired you, and how has their work influenced yours?
Mark Twain, certainly. I think I get some of my creative humor from him.  Steven King is another; his penchant for having ordinary objects reach out to attack you (and his penchant for mystery) have influenced me to a degree--so much so I once did a term paper in which I explored why his writings are a catharsis for adults to release their troubles.   There are  a few others, Hemingway,  Shakespeare and Poe.  Space doesn't permit me to go into them all.  

6. Are you working on another project now, or taking some time off now that this book is finished?
My head is always turning, especially in the morning.  Nothing solid is materializing at the moment (some say there's nothing solid up there at all) -- but I'm not taking time off; I'm now promoting this book.  I'm in the process of lining up some book signings.  There's no rest for a hungry writer!

Interview reprinted here courtesy of Tom Ingram with Georgia Playgrounds Magazine.

The Georgia Writers Association's digital magazine, Exit 271: Your Georgia Writers Resource, is looking for poetry, short fiction (under 4000 words), and cover artwork. We are calling all quirky, humorous or edgy writers, writers with some Southern grit, writers who surprise us or inspire us, writers who weave stories or poems that engage our fives senses and our intellects. For guidelines and to submit, go to 

Exit 271 is both a writer's resource magazine and a literary journal. Four times a year, we bring you a motivational kick to get you writing more, publishing more, and living the writer's life--Georgia style. Plus, with every issue, we showcase short story authors, poets, and artists who call Georgia home. Please take a look at our winter 2016 issue:

All writers and artists must currently live in Georgia. Feature articles (1000 - 2000 words) pay $50; the Writer's Path column (under 800 words) pays $25. Short fiction, poetry, and artwork are on a rolling submission basis; however, the deadline to be published in the spring issue is March 19.

Val M. Mathews 
Editor in Chief 
Georgia Writers Association 
Exit 271: Your Georgia Writers Resource 
Submit to Exit 271 

When I write, the worst part is when I can’t figure out my emotions, when I feel numb and disaffected. Of course, I know from experience that it’ll pass. It always does—otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. But the fear that whispers close behind the numbness can be mighty persuasive: “Give up. You can’t do it. You can’t make it happen again.”
Happy new year, everyone!  Over the next several months, you will notice some changes on the website.  Some will be subtle, others not so subtle.  This brings me to the subject of this blog; for one thing, the word "blog" is too generic--we need something catchy--like "Writer's Rap," or other catchy title.

At the last committee meeting, it was suggested to permanently close the comments because we were beginning to get a lot of spam.  I did as instructed and closed the comments; but I got to thinking about it and did some more investigating--the comments can be set to be approved before posting, and this is the option I feel is fair for everyone.  You shouldn't have to suffer through anymore inane postings advertising cheap essay writing or the like--henceforth, ALL comments will be reviewed before they go public on the site.  

We'd really love to hear your thoughts on a new title for the blog page.
Mark Your Calendar Now!

Chattahoochee Valley Writers, Inc. Annual Meeting 
Saturday, November 7th at 2 PM 
Columbus Public Library
3000 Macon Road, Columbus GA 31906
For information, email:

Open to the public.  Assistants needed.
Saturday, May 23, Chattahoochee Valley Writers, Inc.  will host a "Write-On Columbus" event at the Coca Cola Space Science Center, 701 Front Avenue, Columbus, GA.  The fee is a wee $10. Register by email: or call 706-563-9807.  Participants/attendees, please arrive at 10:30 AM to register for the event. 


10:30 -11:30 Welcome, Registration, Introductions
11:30 -11:45 Break.
11:45 -12:45 Space Program Artifacts; "Seven Wonders"
12:45 - 01:45 Lunch Up-town
01:45 - 02:45 Inspired writing...
02:45 - 03:00 Break.
03:00 - 04:00 Sharing Work/Story Ideas

The show, Seven Wonders is narrated by British actor Sean Bean, who played Boromir in the film trilogy Lord of the Rings and will be in the Omnisphere Theater.

Use the heavens to inspire your writing! 

"Turn back the pages of time and witness the ancient wonders of the world as they have not been seen for thousands of years. We will investigate the theories of how these wonders were created and get a glimpse of some of the universe's greatest wonders." (from the Coca-Cola Space Science Center website)

Following the 40-minute show, participants will gather to be introduced to the Write-On Columbus. This event provides writers a means to focus their creativity.

Register at the event or contact / 706-563-9807. Information about the conference in September will also be available.