Southern Spines Is Not a Book Review Site

In the past few weeks, as I’ve socialized this new online project, people have asked me: “Why Southern Spines?”

Sharing a bit of my story

No matter what I’ve done in my life, I keep coming back to stories. I want to hear and share people’s stories, and the way I’ve done that has evolved over the years.

I’m this strange hybrid of former journalist /marketing and social media practitioner /avid reader /writer. A perpetual learner, I recently added grad student to the mix. It’s been 20 years since my last English class, so I’ve spent the past month trying to adapt to the New World of academia and research; email and the Internet were still new concepts as I was left college with my undergraduate degree.

Like so many, I’ve shared the dream of being a published author. I write every day in my professional life, but sitting your ass down in a chair and forcing your fingers to move the keys in any discernible direction is miraculous. That’s why writers are my rock stars. Beyond books, poems and songs rock my world, so you’ll find poets and songwriters on Southern Spines as well.

The need for online communities

We all know that the publishing industry is in a tremendous state of flux. When Borders closed, we bemoaned the demise of the brick and mortar bookstore, while downloading the latest ebook to our Kindle. Ebooks now outsell hard copies, so all signs point to readers seeking book lover communities online. Not that these communities replace the neighborhood independent bookstore or your book group that meets in a different friend’s home every six weeks. Or even my first love, the local branch of the public library. Truth be told, I haunt the virtual and physical doorsteps of all these places.

Writers can’t do it alone

I’ve worked as an independent publicist and consultant for a few authors. Even traditionally published authors have limited marketing resources at their publishing houses, unless they’re James Patterson or J. K. Rowling. So a lot of the work of developing a website and social media presence falls on the writer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since the writer knows their work and their readers better than anyone else; however, it is a labor-intensive and often expensive process that robs them of the time they need to write.

What is Southern writing?

One day I was monitoring an author’s Twitter feed, when I saw a comment [paraphrasing here] “I don’t usually like Southern fiction, but this author’s work is the exception.” I thought to myself “What does that mean?” As a Southerner, my first reaction was to bristle at the notion that Southern writing was in any way less than writing in other geographies. But then I began to wonder “What is Southern writing?” I think some people believe it began and ended with Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Flannery O’Connor would spin in her grave if she knew that. Part of the website’s mission then is to help explore classic and contemporary Southern voices, and better define Southern writing.

Why this isn’t a book review website

Southern Spines does not publish book reviews. Book reviewers, by my definition, are often MFAs or journalists who have been trained to read and analyze books and the craft of writing. Book reviewers serve an important role in the publishing industry. I am not objective. I have an agenda: to help writers, poets and songwriters connect with their audiences. I want to help overworked publicists do their jobs, and as long as we can agree to certain standards of quality, I’m not ashamed to say we’re all on the same team. We won’t accept payment from publishers to feature their authors, but if we read and like their work, you’re going to read about it here.

We want to hear from you

What does Southern writing mean to you? What are your favorite books, poems or songs about the South? Who are your favorite authors, poets or songwriters? We want to hear about them. This is your online community now, so I’m going to shut up and invite you to start talking.

Thanks for being here.

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