Sunday, May 31, 2009

 

James Patterson Sets World Record for Best Sellers

James Patterson set a world record for the "Most Entries on The New York Times Best-Seller List." The Guinness Book of World Records awarded Patterson yesterday at Book Expo America (BEA) for having 31 hardcover novels reaching number one, and 45 total books on the list.

For more about what's happening at BEA visit: http://www.mediumatlarge.net/

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Last Chance to Enroll in 3 Classes!

We have two classes starting June 1st, and one starting June 2nd:

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GET PAID TO WRITE: BECOME A FREELANCE WRITER! YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO FREELANCE WRITING BASICS, by Nicole LaMarco

START DATE: Monday, June 1, 2009

DURATION: 10 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class is for beginning freelance writers or for those who are interested in becoming freelance writers. It includes all of the basics of freelance writing: overviews of the different fields in freelance writing, what is needed to begin, how to store ideas, where to get ideas, how much you should make, where to find clients, and how to get clients.

In this class, I am your writing mentor through every lesson and every assignment. Make some extra money with your writing or create your own full-time freelance career! Learn from my personal stories, information, resources, goals, activities, lessons, and assignments. This class will provide the you with the structure and guidance you need to Get Paid to Write. A certification will be given to those who pass the entire class.

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CREATING A CHARACTER SKETCH
by Janie Sullivan

START DATE: Monday, June 1, 2009

DURATION: 3 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Developing a character sketch for each character in the story is essential to the success of the story. The writer needs to know who the characters are, what they are thinking, and why they do the things they do in order to make them believable to the reader. This course will teach writers how to develop their characters so their readers will identify with them—whether or not they like them.

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SHORT FICTION WRITING
by Gila Green

START DATE: Tuesday, June 2, 2009

DURATION: 8 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Through writing exercises and classmate and instructor feedback we will delve into the fundamentals of short fiction with a view to publishable work. We will explore a variety of craft elements including: character, plot, point of view, description, dialogue, setting, pacing, voice and theme.

Course objectives:

  1. To complete at least one work that is publishable.
  2. To encourage you to read published short fiction including, short stories, personal essays and flash fiction (Fiction under 800 words).
  3. To increase your confidence and skills as a writer.
  4. To develop a foundation for the skills of crafting, editing, and revising.
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Visit the Classes Page for full details:
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

 

What’s Top of (Your) Mind?

By Jill Earl

Lately I’ve been reflecting on something I read last month from a newsletter I receive from the Working Solo site, which is targeted to the self-employed. In the April 22 issue, founder Terri Lonier spoke of how a simple question from close friend Jerry Michalski, in addition to opening the door to meaningful conversation, causes her to ponder on what’s really foremost in her thoughts.

That question, “What’s top of mind?”, says Ms. Lonier, “makes you consider what is most important in your life and work, and what commands your attention at present.” In answering that for myself, I focused on a couple of the questions included in the article and how they relate to my writing, and the results follow.

* What idea, experience, or encounter intrigues you enough that you want to share it (and perhaps launch a discussion) with someone like Jerry?

After attending the Conversations & Connections Conference in Washington, D.C. last month, I was able to share that experience with Amy, a fellow attendee and new writing friend. During our discussions that day, we found that we shared the same faith; liked many of the same books, music and artists; compared notes after our respective editors meetings and sessions; and challenged each other in our writing. We’ve even ‘friended’ each other on Facebook. Hopefully, we’ll have the opportunity to attend the Festival of Faith & Writing together next year.

* What has brought you the most joy or satisfaction recently? Why?

Right now, it’s the online magazine writing class I’m currently taking that’s giving me great satisfaction. I’d wanted to take that type of class for a while to explore another genre and expand my knowledge base. And I looked no further than the WOW! Women On Writing Classes & Workshops offerings. Yeah, I know, shameless plug, but check them out anyway!

Find the full article in the Working Solo archives here: http://www.workingsolo.com/minute060.html.

While you’re there, check out the latest issue of Working Solo Minute and sign up for the newsletter. I’ve found it to be quite helpful in my writing career.

What’s top of mind? Ask yourself that the next time you need to reflect on what's really happening with you and your writing.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

 

Delving Into the Unknown: Trying Out A New Genre

I hope you’ve all had a chance to check out this month’s issue of WOW, “Finding Your Genre.” Personally, I found it the inspirational push I needed to delve into a specific genre I love but hadn’t thought I’d be good writing in: Young Adult.

When I started writing professionally about five years ago, I was drawn to the Inspirational and Christian genres. I wanted to help other people through my experiences and those were the safest and most welcoming areas to do that. Over time, my writing has become more specialized in helping parents with special needs children but I my style has remained on the inspirational side. Every so often, though, I really need a fun distraction—especially since the topics I write about can be so emotional and serious at times. That’s when I re-discovered YA.

I thought writing for this audience would be fun. Kids aren’t shrouded in a blanket of skepticism and bias the way most adults are. They still see the world from a wider, untainted, more accepting perspective. Plus, if you grab their attention at this age you can help spark a life-long love for reading books. That’s what I really wanted. So, I had what I thought was a fantastic idea for a YA book and pumped out the first chapter. I actually got some positive feedback, which inspired me to continue. Then I got stuck.

I’d never written in this genre before and although I’d envisioned how my story would go, I had no idea how to get there. Feeling frustrated, I “mothballed” my project for a couple of months. Then I met a wonderful Canadian YA author. We chatted a bit and I mentioned in passing that I’d started writing a book. She asked to read what I had and, to my surprise, LOVED it. Of course, she offered a few editing suggestions but encouraged me to keep it going. In fact, she offered to help me! She did have a few suggestions for me to start from:

(1) Read, read, read: “Are you reading a lot?” she asked. “In order to write for a specific audience you really need to read the good stuff in that area. Check out the books that have won awards, are in the top-seller lists or highly recommended. Check out the books that the audience has highly recommended but may have been missed by the critics. Read what has worked for that audience and absorb what the authors have done.”

(2) Find a mentor: My author friend didn’t exactly say this outright but told me to read everything I could from top YA Canadian author, Brian Doyle. He’s written books in all children and YA age groups, has won many literary awards for his work and has been doing it since the 1940’s. He must be doing something right! She told me that my writing voice is very similar to his so he’d be the one to learn from. (By the way, I highly recommend his book You Can Pick Me Up At Peggy’s Cove to any and all of you interested in writing for the pre-teen to teen group. It’s excellent!)

(3) Learn the voice: This just means you need to write in the voice of the audience you’re writing for. Go talk to the age group you’re writing for or, at the very least, listen to them. Pay attention to how they talk to their friends, teachers, and parents because they speak and act differently around each group of people. You don’t want to sound like an adult trying to speak like teenager.

(4) Research the group: Once you understand the voice, researching the dynamics of the group is a good idea too. How do they dress? What are their worries? How do they view the world? What are their interests? Like most adults, children and teens all have different interests and the way their minds work is different. I’d like to say, “Remember being that age then envision yourself interacting with kids that age,” but it isn’t always that simple. While you’re out there listening to kids and talking to them, pay attention to how they interact with the world around them. (I’m fairly lucky to be surrounded by many different age groups, abilities and needs through my own kids’ activities. It’s been very helpful.)

These are the main points I was given from my author friend. It’s really helped ease my initial anxiety and have actually written a couple of more chapters. I’m just taking my time, allowing my story to unfold slowly. I know we have some great children and YA writers/authors out there. I’d love to hear your suggestions on this subject. I am a sponge for knowledge.

Have a great writing weekend and don’t be afraid to delve into the unfamiliar once in awhile. You never know what you’ll create.

Chynna
www.lilywolfwords.ca
http://lilywolfwords.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 28, 2009

 

Grant Me A Moment To Tell You About Grant Writing!

Have you ever written a grant proposal? Have you ever worked on a review committee for grants?

If not and it is something you are considering, there are plenty of resources out there, not just to receive funding for your own projects, but also for getting into the grant writing field/discipline.

1) Do some reading up on the process. If you don't wish to invest in buying books in the early, exploratory phase, at least go to a local library and read up on the topic. Some books I have found and added to my bookshelves include:
  • Perfect Phrases for Writing Grant Proposals: Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases to Present Your Organization, Explain Your Cause, and Get the Funding You Need by Dr. Beverly Browning (McGraw-Hill, 2008)
  • The Only Grant-Writing Book You'll Ever Need: Top Grant Writers and Grant Givers Share Their Secrets (2nd edition) by Ellen Karsh and Arlen Sue Fox (Basic Books, 2006)
  • The Complete Book of Grant Writing: Learn to Write Grants Like A Professional by Nancy Burke Smith and E. Gabriel Works (SourceBooks Inc., 2006)
I have not personally used these to write a grant yet, but find them useful and insightful introductions and desktop copy guides to the process. There are plenty of others out there. The main point of step 1 is to get acclimated before diving in as grant writing has its own art and science of writing to master.

2) Volunteer as a grant reviewer. It is a great way to see what it takes to create a good (and a bad) proposal (think about how many of us model our styles off of good pieces of work and writers we admire), and helps in networking into grant-related work. The U.S. government has some agencies which post on professional websites' bulletin boards looking for grant reviewers. Typically, the reviewers need some work experience in a certain discipline (i.e., experience working in higher education) and/or enrollment or completion of a degree. Additionally, non-profit organizations hire grant writers and those people could be willing to let you shadow or talk about the work and experience necessary for entry into grant writing as a profession.

3) Familiarize yourself with the World Wide Web. So many of the calls for grant proposals, so many of the grant applications, and so many of the foundations best known for giving grant money are found online these days. As some of the books mentioned in step 1 discuss, the Internet and the library will be your friend. So bring your creative search engine skills and lists of useful sites from step 1 and see how many grants you can find for the ideas you have, so when it comes time for an interview or for your first grant proposal, you are steps ahead of the game.

This blog post is only a precursor. I open it to any advice from grant writing vets and pros. What advice would you give a budding grant specialist, grant writer, grant reviewer, or graduate student trying to write a grant proposal for thesis/dissertation work?

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P.S. In response to my last blog post, thanks readers for the birthday well-wishes. Greatly appreciated :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

 

Interview with WOW! Runner-Up Jen Payne

Jen Payne is a runner up in the Fall Essay Contest sponsored by skirt! Books. Read her winning story, How the Universe Moved My Sofa and Changed My Life.

Jen's Bio:
I've been a writer for as long as I can remember--adolescent poetry, high school newspaper, college journalism, freelance writing, zine publishing, blog entries. For the past 16 years, I've been a wearer of all hats--editor, copywriter, marketing wordsmith--as the owner of my own graphic design company, Words by Jen, in Branford, Connecticut.

In 2006, I launched Creative Soup (www.creativesoup.org), an online collaboration of artists and writers dedicated to the pursuit of creativity in all its forms. Truth be told, it was the excuse I needed to reconnect to my own creative voice, which had gotten lost amidst the busy-ness of everything else.

That creative voice has always been inspired by those "life moments" that move us--love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points. My writing serves as witness to these, in powerful (often humorous) vignettes of thoughts, impressions, and feelings.
I am currently working on several poems, a series of short stories, and my first novel.

If you haven't done so already, check out Jen's award-winning entry "How the Universe Moved My Sofa and Changed My Life" and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Fall 2008 Essay Contest! How do you feel about your prize-winning entry? Have you won other writing contests?

Jen: It was very exciting to find out that my essay was selected for the Top 10! I have always considered myself a writer, but only recently made a commitment to put my work "out there," to get published. Having one of my first attempts be acknowledged reminds me that THIS is what I am supposed to be doing. So, much thanks to WOW! Women On Writing for the encouragement and incentive to continue on this path!

WOW: You're welcome! I'm very glad we could help! Which of your writing accomplishments makes you most proud?

Jen: I have to say, there has not been one particular moment, or one specific piece of writing, that makes me most proud. What I am most proud of is the process of this writing--to take an idea that tip-toes in and transform it into a story or poem; to speak a truth that others can relate to; to weave words in such a way that it moves the reader, or opens them up to share their own stories.

I had lunch with an old friend a while ago. We hadn't seen each other in eight years, so the conversation was a bit awkward and somewhat censored in that way we are with strangers. I told her I'd been working on a new poem, and she asked me to read it. As I did, you could see the pretense fall away. The poem was a simple piece of truth, but it gave us both permission to be ourselves. By the end of lunch, we were talking and sharing stories as if no time had passed since we'd last seen each other.

WOW: That's a great story because it shows one of the many ways that writing can be a powerful tool. I hear that you have a website. When and how did you get the inspiration to launch your website Creative Soup?

Jen: I am lucky to be connected to a number of creative people--writers, artists, poets. A common thread we all seem to share is the need to find time for our creative work. In my mind, there is a difference between the work we do for pay, and the work we do by pure inspiration. Creative Soup was founded for that reason: to give people a chance to connect to their creative spirit more often.

We do four seasonal installations a year, usually with a theme or prompt. Contributors are encouraged to participate if they are so inspired--to submit work if they can, with no pressure to produce if they can't.

I like to think Creative Soup offers a gently tap on the shoulder: "find the time."

WOW: That's a great idea. For me, finding the time is one of the biggest writing challenge I face. You must be pretty good at finding the time to write because I hear you are currently working on your first novel. Would you mind sharing your progress so far, or what it is about?

Jen: The novel is a fairy-tale of sorts, loosely based on the narrative structure of a hero's journey (or heroine's, in this case). It's part coming-of-age and part life lesson, with a good dose of humor. It started, actually, as a series of very short stories. It's been an interesting process to take those initial ideas and build on them, create characters and a narrative, and keep the story flowing smoothly from beginning to end. Much different than working on a poem or short story, and certainly more challenging!

WOW: It sounds like a great project, and I hope we all have a chance to read it someday! What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

Jen: There have been three pieces of advice that I think of often when I write. The first was something my Dad taught me the day I slammed my sled into a tree when I was four. "When you fall off a horse, get right back on," he said that day, and many times after. You have successes, you have failures, but don't be afraid to keep trying.

The second was from my high school English teacher, who taught me the bones of good writing: organization and flow. He critiqued a poem I wrote once and said, "This needs to be more universal." I think about that every time I write, and always read a piece through that filter before I'm finished--will other people relate to this?

The final piece of advice was from a good friend who is an award-winning author and publisher. She told me "you're not a real writer until you can wallpaper your bathroom with rejection letters." It helps keep things in perspective--but I'm grateful I have a very small bathroom!

WOW: Yes, that is so true, but it’s all of those rejections that make the successes so much sweeter. Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt

The Spring Flash Fiction Contest is still open! Deadline: May 31, 2009 (midnight, Pacific time) Visit: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php for details

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Monday, May 25, 2009

 

Jacket Flap: A Social Site for Children's Writers and More


If you write for children or young adults, you may want to check out another social networking site called, JacketFlap. The JacketFlap homepage states: "JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for children and young adults." So, if you are on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or even Twitter, JacketFlap may be another site you'll want to check out if you write, edit, or illustrate for kids or teens.
What is special and useful about JacketFlap?
Besides networking with professionals in the children's book industry, you can also find and read over 700 children's book-related blogs (and list yours!), search through a database of over 900,000 children's books, read book reviews, look through over 20,000 book publishers, and join for free! The "About Us" page states: "JacketFlap is a comprehensive resource for information on the children's book industry. Thousands of published authors, illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, and publishers visit JacketFlap every day." So, if you're a children's writer or illustrator, then this is definitely one of the social networking sites you want to take advantage of.
Just like other social networking sites, you create your profile and find friends. On your profile, you list key facts about yourself such as where you live, your company name, age, and occupation. You also write a short bio. You can link your blog right to your JacketFlap page. For high tech social networkers, you can add video to your profile and upload some of your work.
Like all social networking sites, JacketFlap will take time to learn and to use. One of my goals this summer is to use this one more. Recently, an author contacted me on JacketFlap who wanted to submit to the same company, White Mane Kids, that is publishing my book. She wanted some information about the company, and we have now become JacketFlap and Facebook buddies. These are the types of connections you can make on specialized sites. If you are a children's writer, you can find other writers who may have information to help you or you to help them. It's like belonging to your own on-line children's writers' group--for free!

Check it out--and if you do, look me up (I'm either luvboxers or Margo Dill). I'd love to learn and build JacketFlap with you.
Happy social networking!
Margo Dill
photo from JacketFlap website (JacketFlap logo)

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

 

Five Ways to Survive a Dry Spell

by LuAnn Schindler

Having a difficult time generating new ideas? It happens to all writers at some point. But when the creative juices simply don't flow, and the postman keeps delivering the bills, a writer must be proactive to survive a dry spell. Here are five tips to help you find sources of income when the well runs dry.

  1. Reuse old queries. In a perfect writing world, every query a writer mails would be snatched up by a publication. But in the real writing world, some queries aren't the right fit for a publication at that particular moment in time. Every three months, I go through my queries that didn't make the cut, add new research , tweak my approach, and target a new market. In a notebook, I track each query I submit and add information about potential experts to interview, new research, and any notes I will need later. This visual reminder shows me that I am working toward a writing goal and keeps me motivated.
  2. Turn a sidebar into a story. Since a sidebar is a short burst of information, it's possible to turn the sidebar or the main idea into a full feature article. Look at sidebars you've submitted and consider a new angle.
  3. Attend conferences or workshops. Spending time with fellow writers is an excellent way to network and discover new ideas. Don't be afraid to mingle and ask questions.
  4. Keep track of editor changes. Lets say you queried a publication in the past and were rejected. Now, a new editor heads the publication. Resubmit a query. Just because one idea didn't spark one editor's interest doesn't mean the new editor will reject it.
  5. Look at editorial calendars. If there's a market you're interested in, check its editorial calendar and see what issues are coming up. Sometimes, an idea for a new article pops to mind when viewing themes for upcoming issues. Then, write a query and hit send.

Generating new and fresh ideas - even from old stories - will help generate cash during a dry spell. And, it will spark your imagination.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

 

Redeeming the passion in your writing

Writing can be a lonely endeavor. But it is also a rewarding and satisfying one. I appreciate connecting with my readers. I love conducting research into something I don't know much about.
However, even as much as I love writing, it can sometimes seem less than the ideal career choice. Add freelance in front of writer and you might as well also write "not-the-most-secure" in front of career. Sometimes a writer might become discouraged.
As I revised for the umpteenth time one of my articles and had a few conversations with one of my editors, I wondered what would I do if I lost my passion for writing? How would I cope with losing that excitement I have for writing?
During a creativity coaching session, it came to me. As I spoke with another creative soul slogging the creative minefields, her voice registered little excitement about her pursuit. What I suggested for her, I think I would prescribe for myself to rejuvenate any flagging creative spirit.
I would take a class in anything. I would explore a craft or hobby or art that I've had a sneaking desire to do. Pottery? Watercolors? Oil painting? Sketching? Calligraphy? Yes to all.
What might you do to regain a lost passion for your writing or other art?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach. She writes about motherhood at Coastal Carolina Moms and creativity at TheWriteElizabeth. She hopes one day to have enough money and time (and energy) to pursue any and all creative pursuits to keep all sorts of passions alive.

Friday, May 22, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: "Write What You Know? Or Not," Guest Post by Michele Howe

Write What You Know? Or Not.

by Michele Howe

When two of my closest friends became single moms over sixteen years ago, I had no idea that their trials, tribulations and challenges would the become the touchstone of my writing career. What began as a therapeutic way to tell my friends' stories (and to help other single moms) has grown into multiple articles, four books, and a column. All because my dear friends were willing to share their story, first with me, and then to others.

Right after their divorces, I recall being amazed and so proud of these women's hard choices and how they determined to raise their family solo in positive, proactive ways. As a good friend and onlooker, I'd carefully watch, ask questions, and then cheer them both on. Over time, I started writing article after article, telling readers how to tackle the various challenges of being a new single mom, from which "Going It Alone: Meeting the Challenges of Being a Single Mom" published by Hendrickson Publishers was developed.

As time went on and their lives changed and morphed (and still single), I continued to be amazed and wowed at my friends' ongoing savvy skill at parenting. So, at midlife (theirs and mine), "Still Going It Alone: Mothering with Faith and Finesse When the Children Have Grown" (Hendrickson) was born.

It always surprises me when people ask me how I come up with writing material because I never have to look further than my own experience or beyond the experiences of those I love. Everyone has a story to tell. Not everyone has someone to tell it for them. Writers have that privilege to be the voice for another person and what a blessed privilege it is.

Michele Howe is an author and Single Parenting Columnist.

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

 

The Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Think you can craft a jazz-influenced short story? Take a look at this contest.

Three times yearly, Jerry Jazz Musician, a website that focuses on jazz music and its influence on American culture, sponsors its Short Fiction Contest.

Submissions have to be original, previously unpublished, and approximately one to five thousand words in length. The winner will receive $100 and have their story published on the Jerry Jazz Musician site.

For contest details and to check out this interesting site, go to http://www.jerryjazzmusician.com/mainHTML.cfm?page=fictioncontest.html

The submission deadline is May 31, 2009, so get those entries in. Good luck!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

 

Update on WOW! Winter '09 Contest Winners

Hi Ladies,

We've been having some problems with our server, but the Winter '09 Contest Winners' feature article should be live sometime tonight with our May/June '09 ezine issue. :)

Remember to refresh your browser when revisiting: www.wow-womenonwriting.com

Cheers!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

 

Interview with Julie Hoerth - Runner Up in WOW! Fall Essay Contest

Health writer by day. Freelance writer and novelist by night.

Fall essay contest runner up Julie Hoerth writes for a nutritional supplement company. Her subjects: natural medicines, covering everything from women's nutrition to mind/body fitness. But her favorite genre is creative nonfiction. Julie's work has appeared in local newspapers, magazines and business journals. Currently, she's co-authoring her first book.

Julie mentioned this is the first writing contest she has entered since the fourth grade and she was thrilled to be a finalist. WOW! is thrilled for her, too.

Have you read Julie's essay, Weight-Bearing Walls? Surf on over to WOW! and read it. You'll be glad you did.

WOW: Congratulations, Julie! I'm sure our readers are interested in learning about your approach to writing. Let's get started!

Your first image conjures up a happy home. I like the contrast with your husband's home. It shows that not everything in life is perfect and every house is full of secrets. How did you determine which memories to integrate and show how things can be similar yet different?

Julie: The memories from my childhood were easy…we are a close family, and dogs were considered kids/siblings at our house. My husband comes from a huge family, so sharing memories of large celebrations was only fitting. Both my husband and I were brought up by very loving parents in households where faith played an integral role. Those themes made it easy to tie the piece together. Obviously, I left a lot of memories out of the piece – word limits can be a blessing.

WOW: Yes, a word count keeps writing tight and makes a writer be selective. Speaking of being, selective, I find "putting the house through therapy" an interesting concept. Did the entire house go through therapy or just select rooms?

Julie: Oh, the entire house will have gone through therapy when we’re completely finished! Anyone that’s worked on a house knows it takes much longer to complete than you anticipate. I’ve never considered myself superstitious, but I must be to some extent – I really felt the need to change this home, to make it “ours”, and start fresh. I tend to try to control things that are out of my hands, and “putting the house through therapy” was my attempt to clear out any bad juju. (Who am I kidding – I must be superstitious!) But then you realize that erasing the past is impossible, and it’s the ability to forgive that allows you to move on and create new memories.

WOW: That's so true! Forgiveness has powerful effects. How did you determine which of your husband's memories should be included in your essay?

Julie: I got permission. I was sensitive to his feelings from the moment I started writing. It could have been edgier, but dredging up the past wasn’t my intent. A key part of this essay was the line, “despite hard times…” In fact, that was an alternate title I was considering. People are innately good, but we all make mistakes and have regrets. Thankfully, we are also able to grieve, forgive, heal and hopefully grow. Life goes on. At the same time, I didn’t want to minimize the events of my husband’s childhood. In many ways, they contribute to the person he is now.

WOW: That's such an important realization. It's great you understand how the past makes him the person he is.

Let's talk about writing. Your job requires different styles of writing. What brain switch do you have to make to focus on creative non-fiction and fiction?

Julie: At work I write marketing collateral, packaging copy, web articles, etc. Depending on the particular job, I’ve had to learn what level of creativity I can bring to the piece. Switching from non-creative to creative is quite easy – it comes more naturally for me. Switching the other way can be a challenge – it just takes a little more work. I have just started writing some fiction at home, and it’s not too tough to make the switch. It’s like taking a vacation from the writing I usually do, and there’s a sense of freedom knowing that I’m doing it just for me – at this point I’m not worried about critics or an audience.

WOW: That's wonderful! I'm sure the different styles provide that balance of freedom. What's your non-work writing routine like?

Julie: It’s…interesting. There’s no rhyme or reason to it at this point. I’m not one of those people that gets up before the rest of the world to hammer out five pages of writing each morning, but I wish I was. Since I write all day at work, I have to summon up the energy to face the computer screen once I get home – and I actually manage to a couple nights a week. I let my thoughts run wild. At work I have to remain focused, so once I get home, I’m all over the place. I guess that’s why I start much more than I finish. I’m working on that…

WOW: Good luck finding your focus! Those of us who juggle a full-time job and write empathize with the dilemma. Have you entered and/or won other contests? Any advice you'd like to offer to writers considering entering a contest?

Julie: I won a fiction contest in 4th grade with a story called Skates on High. It was about a little girl who could fly when she put on her magic roller skates. So it only took me about twenty years to enter another one. We all have the grandest of intentions, but we make excuses and let life get in the way. After entering this contest, I encourage other writers to just do it. It’s amazing what kind of support is out there for you, and you’ll miss a lot of great opportunities if you never try!

WOW: Excellent advice! What projects are you currently working on?

Julie: I am currently co-authoring a book with a friend who lost her brother when she was young. Her family had published a grief book a few years ago, and this is more of a “life after grief” book. I have so much admiration for her – she and her family created a scholarship foundation that surpassed any of their expectations, and this book is a tribute to the many people they have met along the way. You can learn more about their foundation at briansjourney.com.

WOW: Thanks, Julie, for talking about your essay and your writing ideas. Good luck with your book project.

Interview by LuAnn Schindler

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Monday, May 18, 2009

 

Stephanie Riseley, author of Love From Both Sides, Launches her Blog Tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Stephanie Riseley is a writer, teacher, and hypnotherapist. Her book, Love From Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality, tells the story of her husband dying in her arms and coming back to chat.

Besides being a writer, Stephanie has studied hypnosis since 1971. Over the years, she's helped hundreds of people lose weight, quit smoking, and make empowering lifestyle changes. Because she's also a teacher, she explains how our computer-like brains work and then teaches her clients a skill-set that helps them to re-program their own brains. It's like fixing a glitch in the wiring, or like ridding a computer of a pesky internet virus.

Scientific research proves that once people change their thinking, they actually change the physical structure of their brains. Because of that, they're freed of self-destructive behaviors that ruin lives and steal happiness.

To do this, Stephanie uses hypnosis, along with techniques from Cognitive Behavorial Modification and Guided Interactive Therapy.

Find out more about Stephanie by visiting her website: www.stephanieriseley.com

Love From Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality

By Stephanie Riseley

Paperback: 256 pages
ISBN: 1844091392
Publisher: Findhorn Press

In this memoir, memorial, and celebration, Stephanie Riseley shares the deeply emotional and powerfully physical story of the continued relationship between her and her husband Dan after his sudden death. Exploring the ways in which love and forgiveness can transcend the boundaries of life and death, the book intends to change perceptions of the emotional and spiritual relationships two people can share. Problematic marriages and challenging relationships will take on positive new dimensions.

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Stephanie's book, Love From Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by LuAnn Schindler

WOW: Stephanie, congratulations on your book publication. Thank you for launching your blog tour with WOW! Our readers will definitely want to get to know you, so let's get the tour started.

I lost my spouse six years ago, and for close to a year after his death, I heard him speak to me. And then one day, the discussions ended. Do you think that's a common occurrence when a loved one passes or do you believe only certain people have that cosmic connection?

Stephanie: I think everyone's experience with the "In Between" is specific and different, because it's all very complicated. People "hear" from the Other Side when they are able to "listen," i.e., go deep and quiet. For me personally, the pain of losing my husband was so searing, that I barely had access to my own thoughts, let alone the extra energy needed to "hear" from him. It wasn't until my own "circuits" calmed down enough and my own energy shifted away from the "pain/loss" and I actually got more centered, that my dear dead husband was able to break through the heavy energy that is mourning and begin to chat. I've had so many widows share similar experiences so I know I'm not alone. With your own year of husband chatting? That's about the length of time I had, as well. And in my book, that was because my husband's "energy" had healed enough to choose his next life, and so he reincarnated, and moved onto his next life, and next adventure. Maybe that was your husband's situation, as well.

Do only certain people have a cosmic connection? No, we are all wired to "hear." It's just a skill set that either gets developed or doesn't. Like playing a violin--you first need to pick up the violin, then you must practice. And that's all it takes. A desire followed by discipline. But as a species, we are all hard-wired to "hear."

WOW: It's interesting how some people tune in and others never experience 'hearing'. People may be surprised by what they discover.

Growing up, you experienced several serious medical setbacks, and eventually, you were diagnosed with lupus. How did that experience guide your career and writing choices?

Stephanie: The story of my own health "issue" would take another book, but in short? It's been my biggest gift. Yes, at 20 years old, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus--a pretty nasty autoimmune disease, where my body made anti-bodies to itself, that is, attacked all my own connective tissues. At the time, my doctors gave me about five years to live. Even though I could barely walk because of joint pain, couldn't breathe because my lungs were filled with fluid, and my kidneys were shutting down, I refused to believe those doctors, and I found an alternate form of healing. Because of that, today's my 62nd birthday, and I look and feel great! But I take very good care of myself. And that's what I teach my clients--how to take care of their bodies and how to take care of their brains and minds. What you decide to put inside your head is just important (if not more so) as what you put inside your body!

WOW: Deciding what to put inside one's head is a lesson everyone should consider. Healthy choices offer so many possibilities, as you mention. Perhaps you will write a book about your Lupus diagnosis and share your journey to good health.

Let's talk about your publication path. You had experience as a screenwriter, but you discovered getting a script picked up differs from publishing a novel. First, you tried the traditional route. And then, fate intervened. Would you share your story, from when you finished the book through the publication process, and now, marketing your book?

Stephanie: I gave up, literally. "Let go, let God." I'm a screenwriter, so I knew getting a book published would not be easy, but it was much harder than I imagined. I wrote to book agents, sent my book proposal out to publishing houses, I bought Arielle Ford's system, I signed up for some MediaBistro's "book selling" workshops, but nothing seemed to work. If you read my book, you'll see that finishing "Love from Both Sides" took all the energy I had, but I finished it, and thought, “Okay. Now what?” Since, I'm a hypnotherapist, and do Past Life Regressions, I created a website. Someone emailed me and asked me a question about Past Life Regressions, and I answered her. She kept asking more and more questions, until I said, "I wrote a book that will explain all of this. Why don't I send it to you?" And so I did. And she shot back immediately, "This is a fabulous book! Who's publishing it in England?" I said, "No one's publishing it in the U.S., let alone England." And she said, "Well, I forgot to tell you that I'm the book editor at the Birmingham Post, and I think Findhorn Press would love your book!" And with one email, I sent the book off to Findhorn Press, and the publisher, Thierry Bogliolo, said, "Not only do we want to publish it, but we want to fast track it."

If you think writing is hard? Selling impossible? Get ready for marketing. Unbelievably difficult, but doable!! If you keep smiling, yes? Know that it will feel overwhelming and impossible, but that you will do it anyway!

WOW: (Smiles) Isn't it amazing when luck connects you with a person and the end result offers a positive outcome? Your journey to publishing gives hope to those of us who are still searching for a publisher.

A book title is so important. Surveys show people purchase books based on titles and cover art. Love from Both Sides explains the importance of expressing love when you're alive and how love continues after death. Why is love important from both sides of life?

Stephanie: Before Dan, my husband died, I'd planned to write a book called, "The Married Girls Guide to Hot and Sacred Sex," but then he died, and because I needed to figure out a way of making money, I decided to go back and try to write that book. So, I got a group of married friends together to talk about marriage, sex (or the lack of it) and love. I'd been a widow for only four months by then, and I was still in "thick, miserably, mourning hell," but while they all complained about their very much alive husbands, I started to feel sick. Because I was surrounded by moms with kids, I left them to chat about marriage and sex, and I went home. It wasn't until the next morning, when I got up to yet another lonely, horrible Sunday that I got mad at being so miserable. (One of the stages of mourning.) And because of that, my energy shifted out of "mourning hell" (which is hard to break through for spirits) and my husband's energy burst into my body… into my arm, because I channeled him. The communication began with: You are my goddess now and forever. We walked a life together that allowed me to love more profoundly and deeply because of you. You must honor what we had together and forget the rest.

Love from Both Sides simply "presented" itself one day. The subtitle--A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality--I had to come up with for the marketing department. And that wasn't easy!

WOW: I'll be honest, the subtitle caught my attention! Do you write in other genres or do you specialize in spiritual non-fiction?

Stephanie: I'm a screenwriter, and I used to write short stories. I'm still proud of my wonderful, handwritten rejections from Roger Angel at the New Yorker!

WOW: You have a lot of varied writing experiences. Do you think it's important for writers to specialize?

Stephanie: Writers should write. Period. End of story. It's your purpose--it's your gift. Do it now, or you'll get to the Other Side, and there will be hell to pay! Head Spirits will be upset with you… your voice was needed.

WOW: (grins) I write every day so the head spirits should be pleased with me!

Stephanie, are you currently working on any projects you'd like to share with our readers?

Stephanie: Right now, I'm busy with my wonderful clients and the book marketing to do much else. But, just yesterday, one of my clients, a producer at Paramount, who's trying to launch a movie, asked me to read the script and give him notes. I said, "Why me?"

And he said, "I don't know anyone whose intelligence and judgment I’d trust more." Now, because all girls love to flattered, so even though I don't have time to do it, I said, "Yes." He's very crafty, my client, but my feeling is that the Universe works in such weirdo ways, and who knows where the next opportunity will come from. That’s why it's important say "Yes!" to everything. (Unless, of course, it’s dangerous or illegal! ;) )

WOW: Thanks, Stephanie, for giving readers a glimpse inside your book and your writing life. Best of luck on your blog tour.

Stephanie: My pleasure!

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Want to join Stephanie on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

MAY 18, 2009 Monday
Stephanie will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Stephanie's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

MAY 19, 2009 Tuesday
Stephanie will be stopping by Carolyn Howard-Johnson's blog, The New Book Review, to share some wonderful feedback from one of her readers.
http://thenewbookreview.blogspot.com/

MAY 20, 2009 Wednesday
Stephanie will be stopping by Ashley Cooper's blog, Rituals for Healthy Living, to discuss the differences between soul love vs. sexual love in everyday life. This should be an interesting post!
http://healthylivingrituals.blogspot.com/

MAY 22, 2009 Friday
Stephanie will be stopping by SuperEnlightenMe, a blog about spirituality and self-help topics, to share her thoughts on spirituality.
http://www.superenlightme.com/

MAY 27, 2009 Wednesday
Stephanie will be stopping by Linda Sue Anderson's blog, Holistic Future, to chat about one of the topics in her book--maintaining a relationship with a loved one after death.
http://www.holisticfuture.com/

JUNE 3, 2009 Wednesday
Stephanie stops by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writers Inspired, for an author interview & book giveaway comments contest! Be sure to stop by--Mary Jo's interviews are always a lot of fun!
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

JUNE 8, 2009 Monday
Stephanie stops by Your Hypnotist Blog to answer questions from the UK blog's readers! If you have a question for Stephanie, check out this post for details on how to send in your question. You can remain anonymous, but be sure you send in your question before Friday, May 22nd, for inclusion in this stop. It'll be interesting to see what questions readers will come up with!
http://www.yourhypnotistblog.co.uk/

JUNE 9, 2009 Tuesday
Don't miss this stop! Today, Stephanie stops by Hot Flashbacks Cool Insights to share one of the most unique flashes of intuition of all time--how to continue to commune with a loved one after death.
http://hotflashbackscoolinsights.blogspot.com/

JUNE 12, 2009 Friday
Stephanie stops by Madeline Sharples blog, Choices, to chat about memoir writing--specifically, writing to heal and the road to finding representation and a publisher for your memoirs. This should be an insightful stop for writers!
http://madeline40.blogspot.com/

JUNE 14, 2009 Sunday
Wondering if you've already met your life partner? Stephanie stops by Fiftyish Diva to share her tips on recognizing your soulmate. Not to miss!
http://blog.fiftyishdiva.com/

JUNE 16, 2009 Tuesday
Stephanie stops by Michele Avanti's blog, Astrology and More, for an author interview! This blog not only answers questions about all things metaphysical, it also shares information about publishing, writing, and creating successful books even for small niche publishers.
http://www.astrologyandmore.blogspot.com/

We also have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Stephanie Riseley's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Stephanie's book Love From Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

 

Greet Me With Your Writing

This seemed too appropriate for me today, my birthday, to write about: greeting card writing. It was one of the first topics I thought of when I started writing for this blog, but for whatever reason, I neglected to write about it so far.

I do not know about you, but when I go into a store looking for cards, I am usually more devious than I would normally be. I go for the obnoxious cards, although not the ones with music. I look for the puns, the digs, the disses, and for the jokes of a child.

Most of all, however, I look for something that makes me laugh. That said, how does someone take the comedies of life's situations and depict them in so few words and so little artwork? How do they just know the intended audience and inside jokes of our lives well enough for us to shell out several dollars on what is in essence a folded piece of paper?

If one goes into a web search engine (Yahoo, Altavista, Google, etc.) and searches for "how to be a greeting card writer" or "the life of a greeting card writer," a truly insightful experience is found. Who knew there were entire classes on how to write greeting cards (http://www.greetingcardwriting.com/Tipsheet.htm)? I know I did not until I read Sandra Miller-Louden's site. The tips of the trade and even the addresses of various companies are listed on the website link above as well as elsewhere on the Internet.

Therefore, if any of you are interested, there's another short but sweet writing gig out there for you if you are a witty individual! If nothing else, it could be a fun writing exercise before you get back to the project at hand. Write yourself a congrats card for when you finish!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

 

MAGAZINE WRITING SUCCESS e-course Starts Wednesday May 20

Have you checked out WOW!'s brand new Workshops & Classes page? If you subscribe to our newsletter, you probably saw all the great new e-courses we're offering. The first class to kick off our summer season is Wendy Meyeroff's Magazine Writing Success Course! Wendy is still accepting students, so if you're interested in learning the craft of magazine writing and marketing your work to this lucrative market, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity!

MAGAZINE WRITING SUCCESS: THERE IS STILL WORK IN MAGAZINE WRITING. HOW TO GET IT—AND KEEP BUILDING ON IT, by Wendy Meyeroff

START DATE: Wednesday, May 20, 2009

DURATION: 6 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This is a class for writers who’d like to build a portfolio (and make money). Magazine articles are a great place to start. The class not only discusses writing non-fiction articles for well-known publications (e.g., Cosmo, Good Housekeeping, Wired), it teaches students to look beyond them and points out other avenues for both income and recognition. This is NOT a how-to-write class; it’s about finding saleable story ideas, marketing yourself and your work, and getting the best price for it. At the end of class, students receive a free e-zine summarizing top 10 class highlights, for easy review.

WEEKS AT A GLANCE:

Week 1: Broadening Your Horizons. Includes introducing students to outlets beyond well-known publications

Week 2: Tricks of the Trade to Help You Get In (Includes a Checklist for Magazine Analysis)

Week 3: Creating More Effective Query Letters

Week 4: Setting Your “Hourly Rate”

Week 5: The Art of Negotiating

Week 6: Going Green: Extra Income Through Recycling Your Articles

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: I started as a reporter and then also an editor at a variety of trade magazines (pharmacy, optical and telecommunications). My work on the pharmacy magazine eventually got me a freelance assignment: a newspaper column, “Health & Beauty Hotline,” which was distributed to over 250,000 readers weekly for three years. These clips got me into Family Circle magazine and then to Woman’s Day, Working Mother, and Weight Watchers (plus many other publications). That led me to become one of the first writers for webzines, like CBSHealthwatch.com. And all of this helped me get commercial contracts for much more money down the line.

Visit our Workshops & Classes Page for full details! http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

 

Learning From Rats: Cinderella Story Part Two

Jennifer Crusie is a New York Times Bestselling author and recently the source of much inspiration for my critique group. One of our members found this blog post of hers titled "Rats With Islands: How to Survive Your Publishing Career." When I read her essay, I thought of my last post about believing that your Cinderella story can come true with hard work and determination. So, I am not the only optimist out here in the publishing world.

In Jennifer's essay, she talks about an experiment with rats and compares the creatures in this experiment to writers trying to have a successful writing career. From this description of her essay, I realize it doesn't sound inspirational--but it really is. I hope you will check out Jennifer's essay. One of the best parts, and what I tried to show you with J. K. Rowling's story in my last post, was when Jennifer writes about the number of successful authors who did not have an easy time on the road to their success. Crusie tells us about Debbie Macomber, who was featured in the March issue of WOW!. Debbie didn't even own a typewriter--she had to rent one! Now, think about it--we are so spoiled by our computers that we can't even imagine writing on a typewriter. And Debbie had to RENT one.

These are hard times--I know. I recently saw a post on a children's writers' listserve about an author who has still not received her December royalty check. With this post came several stories about companies paying a year late. My own historical fiction book has had the release date moved back due to the economy. Editors are probably less likely to take a chance on new authors if their company is already in trouble. But do you think a bad economy would have stopped J. K. Rowling, Debbie Macomber, or Jennifer Crusie? NO! And don't let it stop you. The bad economy won't be here forever--history shows us that.

Check out Jennifer's essay, and keep your head up. Maybe even become a rat looking for its island. . .

Happy Writing!
Margo Dill
www.margodill.com
Read These Books and Use Them (blog)
photo from Jennifer Crusie's website

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

 

I Get By With A Little Help From My Twitter Friends

by LuAnn Schindler

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a social networking junkie. Especially Twitter. And OK, I'll admit that sometimes it get carried away and check out too many links that my friends post. But I can also say that I believe I've grown as a writer, a journalist, and a digital citizen. And yes, I'll thank my Twitter friends for shaping me and for keeping me on task when I really need to be.

As a journalist, I see the value of tweeting. I've watched a regional newspaper use Twitter to increase its circulation. Sure, this publication has a strong web presence, thanks to a fantastic Web Editor who isn't afraid to take a chance. I've witnessed breaking news story coverage. I've discovered new ideas. For me, the Twitterverse is an infinite inkwell. I'm always coming up with new ideas or twists to old notions.

As a Twitter member, I can follow anyone I choose to follow. I've made it a point to follow industry professionals who offer a birds-eye view of the publishing nest. Agents, fellow writers, print journalists, broadcast journalists, and publishers share their thoughts and opinions, and I'm soaking up their knowledge and insight and putting it to good use.

As a digital citizen, I'm learning what should and should not be posted in a worldwide forum. Yes, I would like for millions of citizens to read my work and discuss it. But I also realize that I need to be careful about what I say because, let's face it, sometimes those 140 characters can be misconstrued. Tone can't always be developed in a handful of words. Or people read how they want to hear it and form a judgement. It's a tricky tightrope to walk, but the lesson should be learned by everyone. Be careful what you write and wish for.

And finally, I appreciate that I can type 'Hey, I can't get motivated today' and I can count on my friends, especially Jennifer, to tell me to get to work! Twitter can be an excellent motivator, especially when following other writers and seeing how much they accomplish in a day.

I've heard a lot of people say they don't have time for a social network, but isn't it time to put that network to good use? Isn't it time to network, meet other writers, and promote your work? We're in the midst of an economic downturn, and let's face it, we have to work hard to make those hard-earned dollars. Promoting our work and developing a strong network is one avenue writers must be willing to pursue. Otherwise, what's the point?

**********

Want to follow writers on Twitter? Check out the Hot 100+ Writers on Twitter .

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

 

Interview with Holly Helscher: Fall 2008 Personal Essay Runner Up


Kudos to Holly Helscher, a runner up in the Fall 2008 WOW! Personal Essay contest. Holly's eclectic education background includes a doctorate in Metaphysics from the American Institute of Holistic Theology, a BS in English Literature and a MA in Community Counseling. Currently, she resides in Tucson, Arizona, where she serves as Campus President of Brown Mackie College. Her move from America's heartland to the desert is the basis for her essay.


A college creative writing course sparked Holly's love for writing. Since then, she has taken additional writing courses to learn more about how to perfect the craft, including the Antioch Writers Workshop and Women Writing for (a) Change.

If you haven't had the opportunity to read Holly's essay, The Desert Was in My Closet, which focuses on colors in the closet, head over to WOW! and check it out. Your closet, as well as your wardrobe, will thank you.

WOW!: Congratulations on writing an award-winning essay, Holly! And thanks for sharing your time and talents with us today. Sometimes writers have a difficult time fine tuning an idea. Once you saw the contest prompt, did you have several ideas in mind or did this story stand out?

Holly: This story was screaming to be written. When I saw the prompt, I immediately thought of those white walls and my struggle to not only adjust to them, but to an entirely new geographic region. The desert can be void of color which drove me nuts. The adjustment was much harder than I thought it would be. As that part of my life unfolded, I never dreamed it would change my wardrobe.

WOW!: Moving must have been a huge adjustment. It's interesting how something most people take for granted, like a wardrobe, can control a person's preconceived notion. Do you think many people fall into a "color trap" where they tend to wear or like certain colors because it is expected of them or because the color relates to a person's work?

Holly: I actually do believe people fall into a “color trap”. Big business, corporate America or whatever you want to call it does have an expectation of dark suits. I remember being told that in order to dress for success, you must never wear a color that BMW wouldn’t make a car for. At that time BMW only made cars in blues, blacks and grays. It’s funny how things stick with you. But to give you an example of how ingrained conformity can be. When I first walked onto the campus of Brown Mackie College ten years ago, I was able to immediately classify employees by how they dressed. Very casual dress with all kinds of colored shirts and blouses marked instructors. Business casual or slacks and shirt and tie, mostly blue and white, indicated middle managers. A dark suit and white shirt with a conservative tie indicated upper management. When I interviewed and met people, I was exactly right. Wardrobe expectations are everywhere, but women are particularly prone to this because we’ve learned in order to get ahead in a “man’s” world, we have to dress like a man. And we conformed. In looking back over my career, 25 years ago (e gads!) that was true. But times have changed and women can dress more femininely if we want to. I still think mini skirts and cleavage in the workplace are unacceptable, but that may just show I’m a little on the conservative side.

WOW!: Yes, you are right. Times have certainly changed, and so have fashions! It's interesting how the counselor pinpointed your closet. Your frustration with the counselor was humorous yet heartfelt. If a counselor told me to look in my closet, I'd tell her it is overstuffed and color-coded. As a counselor, how do you get others to achieve awareness of a situation on their own? Do you find writing a way to achieve that same goal?

Holly: Unlike television, personal insight is not quick. We all have areas in ourselves that we can’t see, particularly when a storm is raging inside. It’s far easier for a counselor to identify where we might be stuck. But really good counselors avoid giving direct ideas because personal growth works best if the client does the exploration. Besides that, if a client isn’t ready to hear it, nothing happens except defensiveness. Ideas such as looking in a closet for wardrobe ruts are non-threatening in nature and can shift a person’s thoughts just enough to look at a problem from a different perspective. In practice I have to listen to a person to know what ideas might work. Someone who is psychologically savvy is not going to gain a lot of insight from using words because words can be used to avoid issues. So suggesting that the person draw pictures using her left hand, or even writing a letter using the left hand bypasses that brain function and gets more to the heart of the matter. Other ideas work for other types of people. The whole idea is to find something that allows the person to see something differently. In that way growth and insight occur. Writing helps me a lot because I love to write. It works best if I don’t pay attention to editing, punctuation, spelling, and wordsmithing. Those tasks are too cerebral. Fast writes where I just type and don’t look at the screen are much more helpful when something is bothering me. That’s the point of fast writing for me. But I keep them because some of them can be polished up and used in a more professional way. Others, however, are just for me.

WOW!: Wonderful! I find writing without editing helps me work through problems, too, and I've polished a few pieces of publication. Your education background is so varied. Have your education experiences led to other writing opportunities?

Holly: My experiences in education have given me tons of opportunities to write. Writing isn’t just poetry or short stories or novels. Writing is communication and good writing is always in style. My writing skills have gotten lots of funding for programs. I’ve also been able to set up training programs which requires a different style of writing. Research papers, of course, are things that are common in education. Journal articles also abound in the educational field and I’ve done some of those as well. One time I was even paid to write a technical manual on how a distributor cap worked. Imagine that!

WOW!: (Chuckles) You never know what experiences will bring in the writing dollar! Your work schedule must be busy. How do you balance your administration position with writing?

Holly: Good question. I’m a morning person. And when I say “morning” I’m talking 3-4 a.m. That’s when I do a lot of my writing. Some people wonder how I can get up that early. I just can. It’s always been that way. But I think the real draw for me is that everything is quiet and there are absolutely no obligations pulling at me at that time of day. That is so important to me. Women are obligated to many people all the time. Kids need to eat, dogs need to be walked, work has a start time. And once the obligations start tugging, personal time evaporates. I really think writing is like exercise – I have to do it at the same time everyday. Then it’s a habit and since those early morning hours contain no interruptions, the only resistance to writing is my own. I also carry around a set of index cards. I get the ones that have a spiral binder. When I hear a funny line, or perhaps see a funny situation, I jot it down for use as a prompt later. There’s nothing worse for me than looking at that computer screen and having absolutely nothing to write. That’s where the index cards are valuable. I flip one open and then I take off writing. That allows me to have a cache of writing. When I have that, I’m ready for opportunity.

WOW!: What a great idea! I may borrow the flip index card idea! You never know when inspiration will hit. What projects are you currently working on?

Holly: I’m working on an ebook about the blended family. I talk to women all the time who struggle with step children and former spouses. They realize at some point in the first year of marriage that things are not as easy as who disciplines the kids. I have yet to find anything out there that genuinely speaks to challenge, which could be one reason why divorce rates in blended families are through the roof. There is so much at stake in these complex situations and I’d like to give women some practical ideas on how to manage. I have a lot of personal experience in this area and am one of the lucky ones who made it through to when all the kids were emancipated. But it was touch and go in some of the early years. Getting through is not impossible, but it’s tough and women need help because quite frankly, most of them end up being scared to death.

WOW!: As a step-parent, I understand that delicate balance. This sounds like such an interesting project. The contest experience seems to have paid off for you. Have you entered other contests? Any advice to writers considering entering?

Holly: The Fall Personal Essay Contest from WOW was the first contest I ever entered. I was energized by it. That caused me to start looking for other contests and I was amazed at how many are out there. So I entered more. I’ve discovered I love the challenge of the contest. What I like best about contest writing is that I can pick contests that have topics I enjoy writing about. In freelance work there isn’t always that choice. I think I could become a contest junkie. LOL I think contest writing is a lot like writing grants. You have to pay attention to the criteria. In this contest there was a suggestion to look at the book written by the judge. I spent three hours driving all over Tucson to find one and I ultimately did. It was by looking at the book that I discovered writing about my closet would be acceptable. What if I had written it about my closet and her book was just about living rooms? I would have lost because it would not have technically met the criteria. I do know contest entries have to be exact from font to word count to topic. There was another contest I entered recently where the topic seemed straightforward. But I reviewed some of the archived magazines from this organization. What I found was that the articles are distinctively spiritual in nature. The topic didn’t tell me that. But because I took the time to research, I knew it had to have a spiritual slant to even be considered. See what I mean? And of course nothing, but nothing, replaces editing and presentation. Good content can be completely overshadowed by poor presentation. I tell students this all the time. If you have a good paper but a reader has to struggle through poor grammar and punctuation to grasp the content, you’ve lost the battle. Writing for contests, actually writing for anything, is much the same.

WOW!: That's great advice, Holly. Thank you for taking time to talk with us about your writing journey. You find time and offer practical advice. Best of luck to you with your writing career and book.

Interview by LuAnn Schindler

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Monday, May 11, 2009

 

Elizabeth Fournier, author of All Men are Cremated Equal, Launches her Blog Tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

After she got over her dream of being a Solid Gold Dancer, Fournier promptly headed into the local funeral home and asked for a job, any job. She became the live-in night keeper which meant she resided in a trailer in the far rea
ches of a large, hilly cemetery and slept with a shotgun near her bed. It was the scariest summer of her life.

She is currently the voice of the autopsy exhibit in the forensic wing at the United States National Museum of Medicine and a full-time mortician. She is also a ballroom dance instructor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. But she couldn't resist writing the story of her unusual method of dating that led her to the love of her life.

You can find out more about Elizabeth by visiting her website: www.elizabethfournier.com

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Elizabeth's book, All Men are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

All Men Are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates
By Elizabeth Fournier

Elizabeth chronicles her true life dating spree as a marriage-minded mortician in her mid-30's. Set off by her broken engagement, she enlists everyone in sight to set her up on blind dates in a passionate quest to meet just one really great guy. Armed with a 10-point list of dating criteria, skintight jeans, and flash cards on Nascar, football, and micro-breweries, she spends one full year doing the blind meet and greet. Names are changed to protect the rejected as she humorously dishes dot-com hotties, compulsive bloggers, and tattooed graduates of the Gene Simmons School of Dating. Bridget Jones would be proud of her American cousin.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Jill Earl

WOW: Elizabeth, thank you so much for launching your blog tour with WOW! I know that our readers are interested in getting to know you, so let’s get right to it.

For many people, turning their dating experiences into a book for all to see would be intimidating, to say the least. Not only did you do that, but you wrote your book while you were a newlywed. Can you tell us about your book and what inspired you to write it?

ELIZABETH:
All Men are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates is the memoir of a lovelorn mortician that captures the experience of being single, female and fast approaching 40, still longing to find “The One.”

I was freshly broken up with my fiancé, and wasn’t in the market for yet another dead-end relationship. I made a list of the ten qualities I was looking for in a man and forwarded the list to my vast social network. I then ventured on 77 blind dates, letting friends act as matchmakers in the Portland and San Francisco Bay Area dating scene.

I take my readers along on the good dates (the sexy local candidate), the bad (the concert promoter who ended up bloodied), the utterly bizarre (the man who speaks in quotations), and the educational (the contractor who invites her along on a last-minute concrete pour). I chronicle the giddy anticipation of a first meeting, the sense of adventure as the night lingers on, and the challenge to remain optimistic when there were 55 dates down, and 22 more to go.

Throughout, I discuss my life in the funeral industry, from the workaday tasks, to the more unusual aspects of the business. My memoir describes how I balanced my social life (with the living) with my professional responsibilities (to the dead).

WOW: Looks like your life offers a new spin and perspective on the work-life balance issue! It’s not always easy, but you’ve figured out a way to make it work for you.

Now, with your completed book in hand, you made the decision to go the self-publishing route, as opposed to traditional publishing. Why?

ELIZABETH: Unfortunately the route was chose for me. I banged out my memoir and was gung-ho to have it picked up, published and purchased. The proposals sent out by my agent did receive decent feedback, but ultimately an offer was not to be. I thought that publishers would read the synopsis and opening chapters to see if I had a feel for idiom and a talent for crafting my story. To that scope, I did achieve something. Although every submission came back with a dismissal, it was apparent they had enjoyed reading my work.

But I knew that I was in fine company and that all would eventually work itself out. Robert Persig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected 121 times; Louis L'Amour - 200 rejections. Deepak Chopra and Zane Grey were self-publishers. Life went on for them, didn’t it?

WOW: I had no idea that Persig and L’Amour had the number of rejections they did or that Chopra and Grey were self-published. That’s great inspiration for the rest of us to keep plugging along. Duly noted!

Can I just say that I LOVE your book’s title? All Men Are Cremated Equal is a delightful play on words, but alludes to one of your other occupations—mortician. How did you get into that field?

ELIZABETH: Comfort level, I guess. I spent a lot of time in funeral homes as a kid. Not because of my family in the business, but my family in caskets. Fourniers don’t exactly have the best longevity record.

At my tiny Catholic school (where most students lived with both parents), I stood out. Everyone knew my mother had died, and they all knew that when they suffered the loss of a family member, or even a pet, I was the person to talk with. I was the only death resource in the community of students. When I got into junior high, and when someone’s parent or sibling would die—anyone, really—I’d be the person they’d seek out. Everybody looked at me as their go-to girl for death.

The funeral industry seemed like such a natural life path, and I truly feel that it is my calling and my ministry.

WOW: It definitely appears that this industry found you! I think the best part is that you discerned what your natural gifts are, and went for the occupations that fulfilled your passion. Speaking of which, another occupation of yours is ballroom dance instructor. How long have you been at it and what got you into it?

ELIZABETH: I became an Arthur Murray dancer right out of college. There was an apprenticeship open at a funeral home in Portland that I had my eye on, but they didn’t hire me. The newspaper was the main job hunting source in the early 90’s and finding another mortuary position listed was bleak at best. I spied the dance instructor job and something clicked. I stared at my closet for quite a long time, figuring out what a ballroom dancer would wear. I finally dressed, made my way to the studio, and was hired after an hour of practicing the waltz and foxtrot. That was 16 years ago.

My dance partner, Scott, has been the Instructor of Ballroom Dance at Reed College since 1995, and I am presently his lovely assistant. Teaching students of this caliber of smarts is really riveting. They actually get into it. Not only do they catch on super fast, they want to know the expression and the origin of the dances.

Most dance steps are taught in segments, repeatedly walked through and then danced with music, and maybe three dances are taught to the group for the duration of their lessons. Not so with Reedies. We can teach more than basic box steps. They crave rhythm, style, and advanced techniques. It is a test for our teaching ability to answer all the questions their hungry minds need for nourishment. No more “the man is the frame; the lady is the window.” These kids are too cool for school.

WOW: Hearing about your ballroom background takes me back to the semester I took ballroom lessons when I was in college. I was far from being ‘Reedie cool’, but it was fun--eventually.

Now, do you have any writing advice to offer us?

ELIZABETH: Read aloud what you have written. Generally your ear is better than your eyes, and if you read it out loud you are much more likely to find dreadful sentences, terrible tenses, and other errors.

WOW: Great advice which I’ve found very effective in my own writing. Are there other genres you’d like to pursue in your writing? Or do you want to stick with nonfiction for now?

ELIZABETH: I love telling a true story. I love connected with people through something I’ve written, and being able to possibly make a difference in someone’s life through something I’ve personally experienced. When you read non-fiction, you're being exposed to the imagination of reality.

WOW: You’ve certainly connected with me and I think that’ll be the case with our readers, too. So, what’s next with you, Elizabeth? Can you share a bit of what you’re working on now?

ELIZABETH: I have been asked to start compiling my notes for another book. There is interest in my life as a small-town female mortician who lives where she works and brings her baby to work at the funeral home. I have years of funeral and cemetery experience that has been rather fascinating, and I am flattered and equally thrilled to move forward with my first draft.

I’m also doing book promotion. It’s a full-time job. And trying to get some sleep. Some weeks I hardly sleep. This week was like that, but I guess I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

WOW: (Laughs) Well, we hope you’ll get that much-needed sleep well before then! Elizabeth, again, it was a delight getting to know you! I can’t wait to get my own copy of your book! Good luck on the tour!

Want to join Elizabeth on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

MAY 11, 2009 Monday
Elizabeth will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Jan's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

MAY 12, 2009 Tuesday
Elizabeth will be stopping by Carolyn Howard-Johnson's blog, The New Book Review. Stop by and hear what readers are saying about All Men Are Cremated Equal!
http://thenewbookreview.blogspot.com/

MAY 13, 2009 Wednesday
Elizabeth will be stopping by Cheryl Phillips' blog, The Daily Blonde, to share a few bits of advice she learned while on her blind date marathon! This will be a fun stop!
http://thedailyblonde.com/

MAY 14, 2009 Thursday
Elizabeth will be stopping by Mom-e-Centric to give readers an insider's view on self-publishing. Mom-e-Centric will also be holding a book giveaway contest to those that comment!
http://www.momecentric.com/

MAY 15, 2009 Friday
Elizabeth will be stopping by Day-by-Day Writer for an exclusive interview on how she managed to write her memoir while working full time, and her journey through self-publishing and marketing. If you're an author, aspiring or established, this is not to miss!
http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/

MAY 18, 2009 Monday
Elizabeth will be stopping by TV Boyfriends to share some online dating stories! Stop by for the fun and enjoy a laugh!
http://www.tvboyfriends.com/

MAY 20, 2009 Wednesday
Elizabeth stops by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writers Inspired, for a fun interview about writing, her job as a mortician, and being a newlywed. Not to miss!
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

MAY 21, 2009 Thursday
Elizabeth stops by Annette Fix' blog to talk about what it's like to capture an uncomfortable experience (like the worst blind date in history) with your writing. Elizabeth tells all today!
http://www.annettefix.com/

MAY 26, 2009 Tuesday
Elizabeth stops by a fascinating blog, Wedding Skulls, to chat about romance and death. This should be an interesting post!
http://weddingskulls.com/

MAY 27, 2009 Wednesday
Elizabeth stops by Stacie Connerty's blog, The Divine Miss Mommy, for a fun interview and review of All Men Are Cremated Equal.
http://thedivinemissmommy.com/

June 8, 2009 Monday
Elizabeth stops by Sybil Baker's blog to chat about promoting a book without a publisher. This should be an interesting post! Sybil also reviews All Men Are Cremated Equal.
http://sybilbaker.blogspot.com/

June 15, 2009 Monday
Elizabeth stops by Modern Single Momma's blog to chat about dating!
http://www.modernmarriedmomma.com/blog/

We also have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Elizabeth Fournier's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Elizabeth's book All Men are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates.




















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Sunday, May 10, 2009

 

Motherhood creeps, jumps and leaps on the page

Happy Mother's Day to all creative souls who give birth to a piece of writing, nurture it and, if with luck (and a few other ingredients), watch it spring the wings of independence as a published work, lovingly caressed by devoted readers.
This past busy week, while my mother visited, I turned in a piece of work to an editor for a new-to-me publication. I had researched, drafted, re-drafted, re-researched, and coaxed my husband to read it (twice!). It was a tight piece of writing about a complicated subject. Word-by-word, I was proud of it.
After I turned it in, I had some back and forth with the editor. We tweaked it, outside influences creeping into my original piece of writing. Improving it to become a better piece of writing. When the editor asked me to send my invoice, indicating they had accepted the latest draft, I was thrilled.
As I sent the invoice off, I noticed another e-mail from the editor. My piece had been sent on to another editor and there might be more changes coming.
As I wait for them to maybe send it back, my mind (and heart) are going through a checklist about why they might not like this "child." But my creative work has been released into the world and I need it to stand its own.
Enjoy your day and try to find a creative spark to nurture and release into the world.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach. She writes about motherhood at Coastal Carolina Moms and creativity at TheWriteElizabeth. The creative spark she hopes to nurture today will revolve around a Tiki Bar on a sunny beach.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

 

Promo Day 2009

By Jill Earl

Did you know that today’s Promo Day? What’s that, you say? It’s a free online event for publishers, editors, readers, writers, anyone interested in books, to learn about promoting one’s work and services, while networking with your peers.

This event is the brainchild of founder and organizer Jo Linsdell, a freelance writer living in Italy. She said, “PROMO DAY came about because I was looking for opportunities to promote my books using the Internet at little or no cost. After attending the Muse Online Writers Conference back in 2006, I searched the Internet for similar events aimed at what to do after you’ve written the book and found none. I decided to fill the void and so PROMO DAY was born. PROMO DAY is a great opportunity to network with other members of the industry, take part in online workshops and promote and best of all it’s FREE”.

Go to the WORKSHOP Chatroom for free workshops covering a variety of topics, such as creating query letters, networking, finding agents, and more. The RADIO & PODCASTS page has links to online podcasts and radio shows of interests to writers.

See what books and other materials are available from event sponsors, workshop hosts and moderators on the BOOKSTORE page. Pop into the PROMO Chatroom and see what’s going on with your peers. Post your book trailer on the PROMOTIONAL VIDEOS page or get ideas to create one yourself.

Much to do and see while at the PROMO DAY site. The event does take place in Central European Time (CET), but there’s a handy time converter at the site so you can figure out your time zone.

Remember, it’s FREE and all you have to do is make your way over to the site right here: http://jolinsdell.tripod.com/promoday

Give it a go, why don’t you? After all, we all could use a bit of help showing the world what we’ve got to offer!

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Friday, May 08, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: A Friend in Need, Guest Post by Jo Barney

A Friend in Need

by Jo Barney

Editing. I believe I have it down pat. I have worked the pages of my novel until they are skin and bones, so lean I am envious. Time to get serious about marketing? I ask myself. One more time through, I think, a little worry niggling at me. I have Mother Jan and Son Tim lifting their shoulders at each other more than once, I’m pretty sure.

My iMac has a Find-Change feature I have used only to change a character’s name once and for all to Sally not Suzy. Rather than read through those three hundred-twenty pages yet another time, I decide to find the excessive shrugs with the help of my electronic proofreader. To my dismay, I uncover twenty-two of them, or an average of two shoulder liftings per chapter, and the problem becomes, how do I change some, at least, of these twitches and still show instead of tell?

The answer, I soon realize, is one at a time. Jan raises her eyebrows, bends her head, throws up her hands, rolls her eyes, and gets comfortable with an expanded vocabulary of body language to show her indifference. Her son, however, being sixteen, needs to shrug constantly. In place of shoulder jerkings, he learns to mutter words Jan doesn’t want to hear to indicate his “whatever” feelings.

The smile problem is harder. A smile between two cheerful people is as ubiquitous as the word “said.” (She smiled as she handed me the book; "Yes,” he said, smiling at my confusion.) All five of the children in my book either smile or--I discover with Ms. Find-Change’s help--tear up. I thought I had been in trouble with shrugging. A search of smile/tear led to eighty-two instances of what could be termed obsessive-compulsive behavior on the part of these kids. In my revision, their mouths curve, eyes crinkle, grins show their eyeteeth (or lack of them), or they say things like “I like you,” and leave the smile to the reader’s imagination. Tear-wise, eyes moisten, water trickles down nose crevasses and into ears, wet blinks flicker, views get foggy, Kleenex gets dabbed.

I have spent the good part of a week with my electronic assistant and feel good about our collaborative efforts. Time to market. I box the book. Second thoughts attack as I wrap it in brown paper. Perhaps my wonderful Jan breathes too much. I go back to the computer, look and find only three “breathes.” However, Jan also inhales, exhales, chokes, fills her chest, sighs, sends the breath to her aching thighs (a yoga thing) and holds it in her lungs for long moments.

Well, I think, as I paste the label on the package, so do I, all of these various breathings. I’m doing them right now, in fact. I shrug, tuck the manuscript under my arm, smile, and head for the post office.

Jo Barney is a writer from Portland, Oregon.

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

 

Oh How I Hate Rejection, But The Letter Was Great!

The other day, I came upon Sue Shellenbarger's April 29th article in the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124096471555766239.html), and it got me thinking - could writing rejection letters not always be a hard thing to do? Could there be a genuine, heartfelt, and polite rejection letter that merits a reposting online? Could there actually be a way to write a humorous mock rejection letter too?

To me, it sounds like both are possible. For the first question, several of these college rejection letters read with a heart and a look to a bright future, with the adage that it does not matter where you go, you will find an intellectual home and that home will be better because of you. In a society where we watch many of the younger generations going into the "I am always a winner; I am special" mentality, it is good to see that while some schools are super sensitive, a lot of these letters are realistic too; some students just do not fit what the school is looking for and/or is not up to the working ability expected. Rejection stinks, whether it is from an editor, a potential employer, or from a college, but we live in a world where it is both a possibility and a necessity.

That said, however, there could be some free-writes of humorous rejection letters, most of which none of us would probably send without a contest for them. Imagine writing a rejection letter to a pair of shoes you opt not to buy or discard, or to an attractive actor or celebrity, or better yet, to a luxury car you'd never afford or to a food you find absolutely not to be in agreement with your palate. To me, it sounds like there could be some creativity emerging from rejection. Next time, look at it as a time to first mourn the rejection, then a time to get out a pen and paper and go through the process of trying a creative spin on a rejection, whether turning it back on the employer/editor/boyfriend etc., or just going and ixnaying something else. Let me know if it makes it a little better for you!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

 

Pamela Allison: Fall 2008 Personal Essay Runner Up


Congratulations to Pamela Allison, 2008 Fall Personal Essay runner-up! Pamela lives in a historic community near Atlanta, Georgia. A graduate from The University of Georgia and Radford University, she owned and operated a one-woman painting studio for several years until closing shop in 2007. Her first love has always been writing; and in 2008, she completed the rough draft to her first novel. She also has articles, a poem, and illustrations published in magazines. Currently she divides her time between revising her manuscript, spending time with her family, attending classes at a nearby college, and blogging under her pen name at http://www.chrislondonfiction.wordpress.com/. She is also a member of a local writing critique group, Writers of Like Mind.

If you haven't had a chance to read Pamela's winning personal essay, "A Place of My Own," then make sure to check it out.

WOW: Congratulations, Pamela, on your contest win! Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. When I read, "A Place of My Own," I fell in love with your writing space. Why does it help you to have a writing space?

PAMELA: I’m a firm believer that productive creativity requires a quiet, private place to work. Distractions totally undermine the creative process. Creating anything requires a good deal of mental energy because it is hard work and long hours. For any person to do their job well, they need to be able to focus and concentrate. A person can’t do it with constant distractions. Now some people can create in a busier coffee house atmosphere, but I am not one of those people. I guard my writing work time fiercely, and my family and friends respect that. And bless them for doing so. Having a place where I can get away from everyone and actually hear my thoughts enables me to do the best work possible.

WOW: You are lucky to have such understanding friends and family--respecting your writing time and space is very important to the creative process--as you said. You have to have time to think and write! For this contest, you had to write a personal essay and adhere to a certain word count. Is it easy for you to write to a prompt and follow a genre and word count or more difficult?

PAMELA: For me, it is easy and a non-issue. I’m a pretty methodical person and have no problem whatsoever following guidelines. I’ve never felt guidelines are an enemy that stifles creativity. Writers create worlds from our minds and execute them into tangible form. We have the power to do anything we want, so if a writer is struggling, maybe the problem isn’t the guidelines, but the writer’s ability to efficiently create within those guidelines. Short word counts help a writer to hone what they want to say, and that’s not a bad thing. A writer who continues to sharpen their skills should eventually be comfortable writing within the spectrum of possibilities. So if I want to write a rambling, thousand page novel, I can. If I want to write a two hundred word essay or a fifteen page short story, I can do that, too. It shouldn’t matter what is set upon us, what matters is our ability to work within it. Limitations, again in my opinion, are illusions when it comes to creativity.

WOW: You put that so well, and I completely agree that writers improve from challenging themselves to write many different kinds of pieces--short and long. From your bio and essay, we know you are working on a novel, so you must like challenging yourself! Why did you enter this contest? Does it help you to write shorter pieces, too? How?

PAMELA: I prefer to juggle a big project with several smaller ones because it keeps me writing and honing my craft. It allows me to change mental gears. If I’ve been working on revisions all week, it’s a nice change of pace to dash out a short story, essay or article. I entered this contest for many reasons. As a new writer, I’m constantly looking for ways to get my work out there and in front of people. Contests give more immediate feedback. Feedback is critical, even if it’s negative. In my mind, there is no such thing as negative feedback because everything is an opportunity to learn and look at things from a different perspective. Winning prizes is not the reason I enter contests at all, but of course, it is a nice surprise if that happens. What matters is writing, putting my work in front of people, building a platform, getting feedback, and learning from the experience. Plus, you never know who will like your work and want to know more. So it is a wonderful way to potentially network. The experience of placing in the top ten has been wonderful, and I plan to enter more contests in the future.

WOW: I want to repeat for emphasis something you said in your answer that I think we can all learn from:"There is no such thing as negative feedback because everything is an opportunity to learn and look at things from a different perspective." So true! You had a “past life” as a painter. Do you feel your background as an artist helps you with your description when you are writing?

PAMELA: Absolutely. I’ll always be an artist, even if I’m no longer painting. My artistic nature has simply taken a different form. I’m a visual thinker, so while writing I see vivid scenes in my head. It is akin to watching a movie in my mind. My job is to write down what I see and hear in the best way possible, so that future readers will get caught up in the story and be emotionally moved. Setting and descriptions can be magical if they create powerful images. My background as an artist makes it easy for me to switch into that visualization mode. I can write for hours on end, and it feels like twenty minutes. I have had entire afternoons go by where I plugged in and didn’t realize the moon was up until I stopped and looked out the window.

WOW: That's amazing, and what I call "being in the zone!" Can you give us a little glimpse into your novel? Short summary?

PAMELA: Following Stephen King’s advice from his book On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft, I am not talking about the novel until the first revisions are completed, and my beta readers give the first wave of feedback. So I’m closely guarded about it. It’s just not ready to be discussed or shared yet, because it is still a work in progress. That’s a concept that makes sense to me. Why unveil anything until it’s ready to be experienced in its completeness? But I will say that I love all things supernatural. I am fascinated by the paranormal and have been since I was a kid. I believe there is a science to it we don’t fully understand, and I also believe that ghosts are simply people with stories to tell. My first degree is in cultural anthropology, and I love learning how other cultures view the world, the afterlife and spirits. As a writer, the bottom line is I want to know about people. Why they do the things they do, what makes them tick, what drives behavior. Why some people are cruel and some benevolent. I’m not afraid to peer under rocks, so to speak, and explore things we don’t always like to talk about in polite company. I’m a firm follower of character-driven stories. So my novel is first and foremost about my characters, and the supernatural events that unfold and challenge them on deeply personal levels.

WOW: I love Stephen King's book you mentioned, and I agree that following any of his writing advice is a good idea! But just from the little you did tell us about your beliefs and what you like to explore while you write, I can tell your novel will be very intriguing! Your bio also mentioned that you are in a critique group. How does your critique group work? What are the benefits of belonging to a critique group?

PAMELA: The hardest part is finding a group that understands what comprises a useful critique. Legitimate critiques speak the language of a writer and put it in a publishing world context. Not everyone is qualified to give a critique, which is why some new writers get frustrated because they take everything to heart. It comes back to discerning the source. Just because a person says something, doesn’t mean it is true. It might be, but over time a writer will learn to filter feedback and discard what is useless and keep anything that helps hone their craft. Saying something is good or that you liked it is meaningless. Tell me why you liked it; and if something didn’t work, why you felt it didn’t work. Or if something sparkles, talk about that, too. Be specific and offer alternatives for improvement. Ideally, critique groups should accommodate the hobbyist writer and the career seeking writer with insightful dialogue. Writing, like painting, can be terribly isolating, so it is good to be around like-minded people who have similar goals. Sometimes feedback is negative; but if it is honest, it helps a writer to grow a thick skin and learn. It’s a good way to get comfortable hearing other viewpoints. Joining a group shouldn’t be about ego or surrounding yourself with yes men. You won’t learn anything if everyone pretends you are the best thing since sliced bread because they’re too timid to speak candidly. What I like about my group is that it is focused and honest. We start promptly and get down to business, and at the end, we socialize a bit. We also talk about news on the publishing front, and that is a great way to share information. I’ve learned a good deal and have made good friends.

WOW: Thank you for sharing information about your critique group with us, Pamela, as well as everything else you told us today. Your interview has been very insightful and interesting! Good luck to you with your novel and the rest of your writing career.

Interview by: Margo L. Dill, http://www.margodill.com/, Read These Books and Use Them! (blog)




Monday, May 04, 2009

 

Danette Haworth, author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, Launches her Blog Tour!


& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

In Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning Danette Haworth tells a story of growing up and making friends--with a few alligators and lightning bolts thrown in for excitement. Violet Raines' life has been just perfect and when things start going wrong she blames Melissa, the new girl in the neighborhood. But maybe it isn't Melissa who causes all the changes, maybe it's Violet.

Haworth has been writing and making people laugh since she was six years old. As an Air Force brat, she also is an expert at making new friends. Haworth combined those two experiences to make a funny and poignant book that will seem familiar to every young girl whether she lives in Alaska or Zimbabwe.

Finally settled down in Violet's backyard--Florida--Danette would own a diner called "Netti's" if she wasn't a writer. It would be small--you'd probably pass it if you drove by too fast--but the regulars would be loyal. "Try the sweet potato loaf," they'd tell each other. "It is to die for!"

We had to include this trailer of Danette's book, made by Scholastic--it's so fun! Check it out.



Visit Danette at her website at www.danettehaworth.com
and her blog: http://summerfriend.blogspot.com/
Violet Raines Reading Group Guide: http://www.violetraines.com/readingguide.htm

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Danette's book, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

Published by Walker Books for Young Readers, $15.99
Children's Fiction, Ages 9-12, Hardcover
ISBN# 0802797911

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Danette. We're delighted to launch your blog tour for your book,
Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning. I just finished reading your book (all in one afternoon). I couldn't stop reading because the characters were so real I felt they would jump off the page and ask me to go search for alligators! Where did they come from? Did you know a Violet, Lottie, Melissa or Eddie? Were you one?

Danette: Thanks, Jodi! They were all so real to me that writing the book was almost like watching a movie! The story seemed to spill out in front of me. Growing up, I knew a lot of Violets, Lotties, and Melissas, but only one true Eddie.

Eddie is based on a boy I knew when I was in 4th-6th grade. He was gracious, handsome, and the fastest runner in school. This boy had dark hair and glittery blue eyes, just like Eddie. Once, we were playing manhunt and he found me, scooped me up like the hero in a romance novel and carried me to base--I just about swooned!

WOW: Tall, dark and handsome--didn’t I just see him on a movie screen last weekend? Actually, that was the most detailed description you gave of Eddie which I found surprising. As writers we sometimes rely on detailed physical descriptions to make our characters come alive. With the exception of Melissa, you never really described your characters' appearances. Why was that?

Danette: Because Melissa was the newcomer, we had the chance to scrutinize her through Violet's squinched-up eyes, but since Violet already knew everyone else, she didn't take a second thought of their looks. That's why I provided only a few nudges in the physical description of the other characters.

What makes characters in any book come alive is the things they do and the way they react to the events in the story. As a reader, I love when the author gets me to the point where I'm thinking, *Gasp* I can’t believe the MC[main character] did that! How will her best friend ever forgive her? I don't mind a little hint of what a person looks like, but I don't need a full description to see the story as I read.

WOW: I'm always interested in how ideas transform into books. How was this book created? Did you have this wonderful Violet character on stage waiting for something to happen or was something else the kernel that grew into this book?

Danette: I was just starting to query for a different novel (Me and Jack, 2011, Walker), but I didn’t want to sit around waiting. I wanted to get started on the next project. But what? I reported to my computer room everyday and sat in my chair thinking.

I had this idea for a mother and daughter story, an adult novel with issues, based on stories my mom told me about her childhood. One story I always liked was this: My mother grew up in farm country up north, and the people next door had a huge family, a big rambling house, and they invited my mom over for a fish fry every Sunday. My mom has a brother and a sister who were NEVER invited. I always thought that was funny, and I wondered why (and of course this was no small victory for my mom, who was the youngest and usually got the short end of the stick for everything).

I kept thinking everyday, all the while having an adult story in mind, when Violet Raines just walked in one day and rattled off the first paragraph of the book. I whipped around in my chair and typed it up really fast; I didn’t want to lose any of it. Here’s what she said:

When Eddie B. dared me to walk the net bridge over the Elijah Hatchett River where we'd seen an alligator and another kid got bit by a coral snake, I wasn’t scared--I just didn't feel like doing it right then. So that's how come I know just what he's saying when I see him in church, flapping his elbows like someone in here is chicken. When Momma's not looking, I make my evil face at him, but he just laughs and turns the right way in his pew.

I could see her, with her short dark hair and the swampy woods behind her. She had a little smudge of dirt on her leg from coming through the woods. I had an instant, complete sense of Violet, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to her!

WOW: Yet another sign that we shouldn't stop writing while we try to sell out first book! Could you tell us a little about your path from writing to publication for Violet Raines?

Danette: During the day, I wrote articles on state-of-the-art tank simulators; after work, I wrote short literary stories and submitted them. Then a few years ago my schedule changed when I became a stay-at-home writer. Since now I had a larger block of time, I thought about maybe adding more clients. Then it hit me--maybe it was time to pursue my own dream, writing a novel.

I thought about writing detective fiction since I love reading it, but then I realized I'd have to figure out how to murder people and almost get away with it. I did not want to do that! (And my husband got really nervous when books such as Deadly Doses: a writer's guide to poisons starting showing up on my bookshelf.) So I thought about some of my favorite authors: Anne Tyler, Sue Miller, Elizabeth Buchan, and Elizabeth Berg. But each time I approached a novel, the characters that came to life for me were eleven or twelve-years-old, and I identified with them! I had to write their stories!

I heard an SCBWI writing conference was coming to my area in the summer of 2007. I was still writing Violet Raines, but I knew the manuscript would benefit from a qualified critique. I polished up the first ten pages, submitted them, and ended up being critiqued by editor Stacy Cantor from Walker Books. She loved what she read, and I loved her response! In the weeks that followed, she read the full manuscript and I queried a handful of agents who I thought might like Violet Raines. I don't bite my nails, but if I did, they would have been nubs by the time I got "The Call!" In October 2007, I signed on with Ted Malawer of Firebrand and accepted a book deal with Walker Books.

WOW: That's quite a success story! Thank you for sharing. Some writers write solely in one genre, while others write a bit of everything: fiction, nonfiction, children's, YA. Which type of writing career do you think you'll have?

Danette: I don't know what type of writing career I'll have! I'm so glad I discovered children's literature because not only do I enjoy writing it, I LOVE reading it! But I love young adult fiction, now, too, and I still read mysteries, literary fiction, short stories and flash fiction. I think, in the long run, my writing career will reflect my reading career.

WOW: What are you working on now? Will we get a peek at Violet in high school? Or are there new characters waiting for their chance on the stage?

Danette: Will we see Violet in high school? Oh, my gosh--I don’t know! I love her just the way she is, and yet some things have already happened there in that little swamp town since the book got published. It’s all in my head, of course, but who knows? I love Violet!

I just turned in the draft for The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness, a middle-grade novel in which a girl who lives in a hotel meets an eclectic group of friends, including a teenage runaway. Blueberry Goodness takes place in Florida, at a dilapidating, antebellum resort whose once manicured lawns are now grown wild. (Walker BFYR, 2010)

Me and Jack is set in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Eleven-year-old Joshua knows how to play new kid: hang back, don't talk too much, become invisible. Then he pairs up with Jack, a dog he rescues from the pound. Jack yanks Joshua from the sidelines to the front line to take on an unfriendly town, a mountain, and meanest kid in school. (Walker BFYR, 2011)

Whenever anyone asks me about my writing, I'm either all hush-hush or I keep talking even when I see them start checking their watches and looking at their cell phones. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my work with you!

WOW: Well, we weren't checking our cell phones. We can’t wait to meet all your new characters!

Want to join Danette on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

MAY 4, 2009 Monday
Danette will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Danette's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

MAY 5, 2009 Tuesday
Danette will be chatting with Kim Zook in an exclusive interview! Come join these two in a lively chat at the Zook Book Nook, & book giveaway!
http://zookbooknook.blogspot.com

MAY 8, 2009 Friday
Stop by The Friendly Book Nook to learn more about author Danette Haworth and her unstoppable friend Violet Raines.
http://thefriendlybooknook.com/

MAY 12, 2009 Tuesday
Danette will be stopping by Anne-Marie Nichols' popular blog, A Mama's Rant, for an informative guest post: Write My Book or Wash the Laundry: How Does a Stay at Home Writer Do It? This is not to miss!
http://www.amamasrant.com/

MAY 20, 2009 Wednesday
Danette will be stopping by The Mother Daughter Book Club for an exclusive author interview! Be sure to join in on the chat.
http://motherdaughterbookclub.wordpress.com/

MAY 22, 2009 Friday
Danette will be stopping by A Good Blog is Hard to Find, a blog dedicated to southern authors, for a surprise guest post with tips for writers. Not to miss!
http://www.southernauthors.blogspot.com/

JUNE 4, 2009 Thursday
Margo will pick Danette's brain today at her blog Read These Books and Use Them--both about writing her book and some great activities that teachers and parents can do with their children while reading Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. Don't worry--no lightning involved!
http://www.margodill.com/blog/

We also have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Danette Haworth's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Danette's book Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning.


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Sunday, May 03, 2009

 

Your Cinderella Story Can Come True

When you were a little girl, did you ever dream about being Cinderella? You know, playing and singing with the mice and the birds, finding your Prince Charming, and showing those ugly stepsisters that you really were the special one. I know I did--I wanted my own fairy godmother, too. "Bippity-Boppity-Boo!"

Last month, a teacher friend asked me to come and talk to her students about what a "real" writer does. One question she wanted me to answer was, "How much do you write that actually never gets published?" Boy, she was asking the right person! So, while preparing my talk, I decided to include information about how many rejections I had received and how many of my picture book stories were still searching for a home, and so on. But would fourth graders be impressed with my statistics? So, I wanted to find the perfect Cinderella story to wow them and show them that you should never give up on your words.

J.K. Rowling has a great Cinderella story, and she would be somebody that the kids knew had been wildly successful. The story is that J.K. Rowling was a single mom, living on state benefits while she wrote the first Harry Potter manuscript. She got her idea in 1990, wrote for five years (sketching out the other six books, too), and a publisher finally accepted it in 1996 after being turned down by several large publishing companies because the book was too complex for kids! She did have an agent that believed in her--so even with an agent, the rumor is she was rejected 12 times by publishing companies. And you know the rest of this Cinderella story--she is now reported to be worth over 1 billion dollars.

When J.K. Rowling sat in coffee shops writing her novel, do you think she thought she would see Harry Potter on the big screen some day? Really? Sure, we all dream, but we also know that it's tough work. Here are her words explaining this time (from an interview on-line): "I had lots of rejections. But I expected everyone to reject me, so I was already braced for failure. However, I loved Harry so much that I just wanted to get him into print whatever the cost in emotional energy," she said. (From Accio Quote! website)

So, what does all this Harry Potter and Cinderella stuff have to do with you? Well, you really could be the next Cinderella story, couldn't you? With hard work, perseverance, and determination, you could see your beloved characters charming millions of readers. Believe it! And remember. . ."A dream is a wish that your heart makes. . ." (from Cinderella)

Happy writing!
Margo Dill
http://www.margodill.com/
Read These Books and Use Them! (blog)
photo by Raymond Brown http://www.flickr.com/

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Friday, May 01, 2009

 

Yikes! That's Gross!

by LuAnn Schindler

I'm always on the outlook for inspiration. Today, I'm subbing for a junior high English instructor at an area school. I've subbed for her several times, and I always peruse her bookshelves. She has four bookshelves filled with YA novels. Checking out the titles gives me a glimpse at what's hot amongst YA readers. It's important, especially since I'm working on a YA project.

But finding YA trends isn't what's gross. While perusing her shelf, I came across a book titled "Oh Yikes! History's Grossest, Wackiest Moments" by Joy Masoff. Inside these pages, there are snippets of odd, gross, wacky moments throughout time. Did you know that bullets can pass through a suit of armor? Were you aware that forks were called split spins during the early 1800s? How many calendars are in use in the world today? I had time to peruse the book, and I made a list of notes for articles. I even discovered that the author has a book titled "Oh, Yuck!" that has interesting science tidbits.

What a unique source! You never know where you'll find inspiration for articles or a storyline.

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