Kimberly Brock Books bio picture
  • " Kimberly Brock has an amazing voice and a huge heart; The River Witch welcomes the reader to a haunted landscape, authentically Southern, where the tragedies of the past and the most fragile, gorgeous kind of love-soaked hope are equally alive. This is one debut that you absolutely should not

    ~~ Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Backseat Saints


Where All the Cool Kids Will Be on Saturday!

SCAD Atlanta Writers Boot Camp

On Saturday, December 7, 2013, I will be speaking about stories and snake oil – otherwise known as social media and bloggers and e-books, OH, MY (and Lord knows where that will lead!!). I’m excited to share and to learn from three other VERY SMART and savvy writers and digital marketing experts at the SCAD Atlanta Writers Boot Camp. Buy your ticket online here. Below are the session descriptions and other details from the website.

Take a peek! Sign your self UP! And let me know what you might want to talk about. What are your burning questions about writing in the digital age?

1 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

NON-FICTION: YOUR STORY-YOUR BRAND Once upon a time, writers wrote, and played small parts in the business of promoting and selling non-fiction. Today, marketing and publicity budgets are miniscule even for established authors. The writer must create and sell a personal brand to support and sell the book. Author publicist and media consultant Alison Law shares timelines and tools of nonfiction marketing campaigns. She demystifies the “platform” – the social media presence that should be in place before submitting a book proposal or query letter. Learn how to connect with readers, booksellers and supporters, ultimately, to sell your book. Alison Law, writer, marketing and social media consultant, advises published authors, book publicity firms, public relations and advertising agencies, and a variety of businesses. Law was the assistant program director of the 2013 AJC Decatur Book Festival. In 2012, she launched, an online community dedicated to celebrating and promoting southern writers, songwriters and poets, and “Books with Backbone.” Alison is a member and site publicist of the She Reads Book Blogger network. She is pursuing a master’s degree in English with a concentration in literary studies at Georgia State University.

2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.

PUBLISHING NOW – AND BEYOND! Today’s publishing revolution surprisingly offers more opportunities than ever before. But how to sort through the maze – and cost – of options, such as traditional publishing houses, small independent presses and online opportunities, such as e-books and Amazon? How does a writer lucky enough to be published, form an innovative marketing strategy, based on the publishing model? Ramsdell will discuss opportunities and pitfalls, as well as high- and low-tech marketing, from book trailers to local writers groups, public readings and other tools that generate sales.

Catherine Ramsdell has taught new media, promotional, business and professional writing at SCAD since 2001.

She is a staff writer for the online magazine, a speaker and lecturer. She has a Ph.D. from Auburn University.

4 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.


It’s easy to see why non-fiction writers and journalists need online platforms, but how can fiction writers benefit in tangible, measurable ways? Brock will discuss the e-book revolution, the use and value of social media pre- and post-publication, virtual chats, savvy networking, connecting with online book clubs and the book blogger community, and how professional storytellers can successfully establish an authentic presence in a virtual world.

Kimberly Brock is the author of The River Witch and recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year Award 2013. Her short works can be found in the anthologies Summer in Mossy Creek, and Sweeter Than Tea, and as a featured guest blogger on sites such as Writer Unboxed, Writer’s in the Storm, It’s Only a Novel and Psychology Today. She is currently the Blog Network Coordinator for She Reads, a national online book club.

5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.

YOU CAN DO IT! How to build your own platform and extend your reach. For writers, a digital media presence is a must. But how and where do you start? For everyone, including the technology-challenged, this hands-on session will teach everything you need to know to get started, maintain and extend your platform.

Steve Aishman is a professional photographer, writer and curator in addition to serving as a SCAD Atlanta’s Dean of Academic Services.

WHERE: SCAD Digital Media Center, 1611 W. Peachtree St., Atlanta, Georgia, 30309.

COST: $65 at the door, cash, check or credit. $55 for early registration (payment received no later than Nov. 23.) Checks should be made to Ivy Hall-the SCAD Writing Center. Mail to: Attention Georgia Lee, Ivy Hall-SCAD Atlanta 1600 Peachtree St., 30357

* SPACE IS LIMITED. Early registration encouraged. For more information, contact 404-253-3206.

Look Away, Away – Creating Unforgettable Settings



By Kimberly Brock


Kimberly Brock

Kimberly Brock


I think writers of any ilk can benefit from a healthy appreciation of setting, but regional – particularly southern writers – are haunted by our connection to, love of, loss of, and clawing crawling, desperate journey back to – the land.


Oh, I wish I was in Dixie…away, away. Every song is a lullaby of going home. We close our eyes and dream of the old house in the valley. We contemplate a city skyline, thinking only of the ancient ridges that surrounded freshly turned lowlands where we walked a row as a child. That old scene where Scarlet O’Hara’s father warns her that land is the only thing that matters? We took that old man seriously and so, when we write our stories, do our characters. Their whole world, how our characters view their circumstances, why they struggle, why they rejoice – it’s all reflected in the setting.


Pick up any piece of southern fiction and you will understand what Lee Smith meant when she said of regional literature, “There is an intimate identification with landscape. Setting is so important that it often defines the lives and possibilities of its characters…Place is the central defining factor of southern writing. There’s just simply more there, there.”


In writing THE RIVER WITCH, I knew Roslyn’s story would end up on the island – I knew she would go into a kind of exile. I imagined Roslyn’s need for a kind of isolation, and her need for great beauty, which led me to the Georgia Coast. I wanted it to be a place that would keep her off balance so she’d have to struggle to understand it and meet its demands. I needed a place that Roslyn believed was a complete departure. My character’s story is also the story of this environment and if you look at one, you will inevitably discover something about the other.


I’d written a good part of the first draft before Roslyn’s past and her childhood memories of Glenmary, Tennessee, began to surface. There, I found a people rooted for centuries in hard ground. Ancient mountains that would not be moved. Do you see these places? Then you see the people who inhabit them. I came to understand these were the characteristics at the core of Roslyn, this place defined all the ways she was at odds with herself, and as with everything else in the novel, these seemingly contradictory environments and cultures of Appalachia and Coastal Georgia would serve as mirrors for one another – just as the characters tend to hold up mirrors to one another. Some of this was written intentionally, but a great deal of it evolved with the story.


I’d always been fascinated by the idea that the Sea Islands shift and change, the idea of the alligators roaring season, the romance of the great live oaks, and then there was the element of superstition that lent itself to Roslyn’s haunting. The island was like going back to the mire from which we all emerge. I chose the island setting so she could fight her way back from her loss, physically and psychologically. That’s what Roslyn’s character ultimately faced – what each of us, ANY character ANY place, faces – a transformation that leads to resolution. She had to learn to shift and change to survive, just like the land beneath her feet. Her connection to place informs the reader of Roslyn’s internal journey through metaphor, but it also grounds the reader firmly in a compelling reality, one that every reader will envision for themselves. We are called to whatever away, away means home. To me, the true power of setting is that it gets to the heart of our human search for belonging.



Barbara Kingsolver said it best when she spoke of setting. “I have places from which I tell my stories. So do you, I expect. We sing the song of our home because we are animals…Among the greatest of all gifts is to know our place.”


Ready to sing your own song of home and address setting in your stories? Maybe it doesn’t come naturally? Here are four brass-tack techniques I use in my own writing:


1. Reveal setting through action – Let your description unfold as a character moves through the scene. Consider which details your character would notice immediately, and which might register more slowly. Let your character encounter those details interactively. Use action verbs to set the scene. But be selective and careful not to bury the scene in detail.


2. Reveal setting through a character’s level of experience – What your character knows will directly influence what she sees. Different characters will perceive the same surroundings in very different ways, based on their familiarity (or lack thereof) with the setting.


3. Reveal setting through the emotions of your character – What we perceive is profoundly influenced by what we feel. The same should be true for our characters. Filtering a setting through a character’s feelings can profoundly influence what the reader “sees.”


4. Reveal setting through the senses


  • Visual – we make decisions and take action based on what we see.
  • Emotions are affected by what we hear (music, the sound of a person’s voice, the whistle of a train, tone of voice).
  • Smell evokes memories (baking, perfume, new-car leather, the odor of wet dog).
  • Touch evokes a sensory response.
  • As in real life, “taste” images should be used sparingly and appropriately.


What techniques work for you when writing setting? Are there examples of setting that became its own character in novels you love? What are your thoughts on a sense of place in fiction and its bearing on the journey to a resolution for a character? Share them here!


About Kimberly


13502935Kimberly Brock is the author of “The River Witch” and recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year Award 2013. Her short works can be found in the anthologies Summer in Mossy Creek, and Sweeter Than Tea. Formerly a special needs educator and actor, Kimberly is a regular contributor to several blogs dedicated to the craft of writing. She serves as the Blog Network Coordinator for She Reads, a national online book club, actively spearheading several women’s literacy efforts through the She Reads Gives Back campaign. She is a certified Pilates instructor and owner of Kimberly Brock Pilates. She lives in the foothills of north Atlanta with her husband and three children, and is currently at work on her next novel.

December 2, 2013 - 10:25 pm

Jessica McCann (@JMcCannWriter) - Great post, Kim, and a great observations. I especially liked this line: “the true power of setting is that it gets to the heart of our human search for belonging.” I completely agree. And I find the books that grip me the strongest are those with a strong sense of place.

November 8, 2013 - 3:19 pm

Cynthia Robertson - Not being from the South, but only a passing admirer, it has always struck me as a deeply primal place. Maybe it’s those roaring gators :) which are, after all, small dinosaurs. The swamps and Spanish Moss draped ancient oaks, the mountains you so beautifully describe. It all has a very OLD feel, as if it has been there, unchanged, for millennia.
Thanks for the suggested ways to think about setting. Love those!

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