Wednesday, September 30, 2009

 

Become a Fan of WOW! on Facebook

As you saw with a post the other day, WOW! Women On Writing is stepping into social networking with a Twitter account. If you haven't started following us yet, please do at our Twitter page. Why? We tweet about writing articles, contest announcements, online classes, special offers, writing information, blog tours, and new issue information. We also connect writers with one another and encourage women on their writing journey. So, follow us now.

Many of you may also be on Facebook. If you are, consider joining us on there also! We have a WOW! Women On Writing fan page, which you can find by going here. If you are on Facebook and you love WOW!, then take some time this week and become a fan. It takes a short time and a click on the mouse button (literally)!

What can you do on the fan page? You can start a discussion, you can check out some links, articles, and events. As a matter of fact, I started a discussion on there just recently about what types of articles you might want to see in WOW! that would help you and your writing career. Any ideas? Please post them to the Facebook fan page under discussions or consider a query to editors@wow-womenonwriting.com .

Let us know if you become a fan--you can tweet us, leave a comment here, or leave a comment on our Facebook page. We'll be happy to follow you back on Twitter!

Happy social networking!
Margo Dill
http://margodill.com/blog/
http://www.twitter.com/Margo_L_Dill/

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

 

Interview with Ann Imig, Runner-Up in the Spring 2009 Flash Fiction Contest

A stay-at-home humorist, Ann began writing to distract her ovaries from insisting on a third child. Ann has made no progress at earning continuing education credits to retain her social work license, but has had her writing featured on Humorpress.com, MaternalSpark.com, and FunnyNotSlutty.com. Ann looks forward to the launch of UnhingedMagazine.com, featuring her essay "The Saddies." Ann blogs regularly at annsrants.com, but never when she is supposedly watching her preschool-age boys.


If you have not done so already, take a look at Ann's winning story "Date Night" then return here for a chat with the author!

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Spring 2009 WOW! Flash Fiction Contest! How did you begin writing your award winning story, Date Night?

Ann: A terrible date with my husband reminded me of the humor in juxtaposition. It's supposed to be a date, but it ends up as WWIII with a waitperson trying to serve you dinner as both parties re-load and dress their wounds.

WOW: I loved this story because it seemed like such a real and honest situation. Do you find it difficult or liberating to write within the word limit restrictions of flash fiction?

Ann: I found it liberating. As a new writer, I feel more comfortable with digestible chunks. It forces me to be concise--even though you'll notice a few too many adverbs lingering in my piece. At least I didn't say unnecessarily lingering in my piece.

WOW: Ha! I'm sure we can overlook an adverb or two. Which books/authors do you read for inspiration, and how do they inspire you?

Ann: Right now I'm reading Judge by Dwight Allen. He writes literature, and it inspires me by its sheer craftsmanship.

I draw most of my inspiration from comedians. I listen to comics when I jog--so don't be surprised if you see me loping around the neighborhood laughing hysterically.

WOW: (Laughs) What a great idea to listen to comedy while you jog! How do you make or find time to write with two pre-school aged children at home?

Ann: HA! I write mostly at night after my kids are asleep, or the three mornings a week that both my kids are in school at the same time.

I used to try to multi-task--writing while the kids seemed occupied with TV or play. When TwoPointFive started pressing the hibernate button every time I was on my computer, I realized I needed to set some boundaries.

WOW: What's the most useful piece of writing advice you've ever received?

Ann:
My dear friend Erin advised me to keep writing and submitting, so as not to dwell on one specific contest or submission. Best advice EVER. I keep a spreadsheet of what I've sent out, but continually put myself out there so I can't obsess over one piece. I prefer obsessing about multiple pieces at one time I guess.

WOW: To keep writing and submitting is great advice. The more you submit, the better your chances of getting published. Are you currently working on any new writing projects or stories?

Ann:
Every time I have an idea, I throw it in a word doc. It always surprises me which ones end up as essays, or longer pieces, and which ones never even turn into blog posts (for annsrants.com).

This past week I started two or three blog posts, and worked on a project I hope will be a book someday. This weekend I'm editing an essay I already submitted for an anthology, in order to enter it into another contest. Next week I plan to spend some time working on a short story I started recently.

WOW: Sounds like you're staying busy in the writing world. Good luck and we look forward to hopefully reading more of your writing in the future!

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt

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Monday, September 28, 2009

 

Sara Morgan, author of No Limits: How I escaped the clutches of Corporate America to live the Self-employed life of my dreams, launches her blog tour!


& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Sara would never have had a successful life in the computer industry if it hadn't been for THAT WOMAN. THAT WOMAN, the college guidance counselor, told Sara her Math skills were horrendous (OK, maybe she was a bit more tactful) and she shouldn't go into any Math-related majors. So what did Sara major in? Quantitative Business Analysis, with a minor in computer science, natch.

After college she used her computer knowledge in several industries including retail, health care, finance, government, and information technology. She's also written several technical books for the computer industry.

But it soon became apparent to Sara that Corporate America, and its complicated office politics, was not for her. She became a consultant, an experience that led to No Limits: How I escaped the clutches of Corporate America to live the Self-employed life of my dreams.

Sara and her children live in Louisiana's version of small-town America where she still pursues her first love--Artificial Intelligence. In the shadow of historical plantations, Sara works on developing robotic assistance to help senior citizens.

Find out more about Sara by visiting her website, www.nolimitsthebook.com, and the No Limits Ning community, http://nolimitsthebook.ning.com/.

No Limits: How I escaped the clutches of Corporate America to live the Self-employed life of my dreams

By Sara Morgan

Refreshingly candid and honest, this career-minded guide helps professionals determine if self-employment is their ticket to a better life. Written by a successful, independent software developer, rather than a career coach or consultant, this straight-to-the-point book offers readers practical and useful advice for how to get started on their path to self-employment. It also informs the reader what the major benefits to self-employment are, along with identifying who is best suited for self-employment and what things these people will need to consider.

The author, Sara Morgan knows from direct-hand experience how frustrating and un-inspiring the life of a Corporate employee can be. Four years ago she made the jump to self-employment and despite challenges, stayed true to her belief that a better, more fulfilling life lay ahead. She now lives the life she always dreamed of and she hopes to inspire others to take the remarkable path she has chosen. This book is not a "how to get rich quick" story. It is a "how do I maximize my potential and feel satisfied and happy with what I am doing in life" story.

Published by Custom Solutions, LLC (August 2009)
Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN# 0615299326

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Sara's book, No Limits, 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 Jodi Webb


WOW: Tell us the story of how you went from expert in the computer industry to author of a book on self-employment?

Sara: That kind of happened by accident. I became self-employed 4 years ago and since then I have been navigating the waters of self-employment as an independent software developer, including writing five technical books for Microsoft. That was all going okay until I was hit with a personal tragedy. The man I considered the love of my life left me before our marriage even reached one year.

At first I was devastated. I mean, it was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But, the oddest thing happened. Because I was self-employed and had already done many things to position my life in a way that was healthy and sustainable, I was able to take three weeks off and search my soul. At the end of that time, I realized that this was an opportunity and not the end of my life. I realized I could turn all of this into a life changing event and that just made me that much stronger.

I really doubt I would have been able to see it that positively if I had still been plugging away in some boring 9 to 5 corporate job. I never used to handle things like this well. But, now I was. So, I thought, I have to tell other people about this. I need to help other people get to this place. The kind of place where you can see life for what it really is and just appreciate it. So, I decided to write this book. And here we are.

WOW: Some writers I've met have gone the freelance route to have more flexibility and time with their family but then, get so obsessed with hitting that "goal income," they throw all those self-employment benefits away with constant work. What's the trick to maintaining balance?

Sara: Yeah, that is the trick. I too have been known to work harder and not smarter. But, what you need to do is position yourself in a life that is sustainable and realistic for you. This is something that may take time for some people. As for myself, it involved lowering my overhead and expenses by moving to the country and letting go of a lot of things I had become accustomed to but really didn't need.

WOW: But what about the downsides? What about the security that comes with a 9 to 5 job?

Sara: I fully reject the notion that a corporate job provides security. Haven't we all known someone who had their life ripped up from under them recently? They might have worked for some company for 20 years, but their life savings was taken away when some dishonest individual scammed them. I have a neighbor that lost his entire retirement to that Stanford guy. Now he has to start all over, when he thought it was "in the bank."

Nothing is for sure anymore. The only thing you can really control is yourself and at the end of the day. The only person really watching your back is you. So, to me self-employment is more secure than being susceptible to some random layoff or firing in Corporate America.

WOW: Now let's talk about the conception of No Limits. In your opinion, self-publishing is a better option than traditional publishing. Why?

Sara: Well, up until now I have published six books with two different traditional publishers. Now, keep in mind that I was publishing technical books and not mainstream or fictional books, but my experiences with publishers were not exactly pleasant and definitely not rewarding. I felt that I had to compromise way too much and work way too hard for very little reward.

I think the publishing industry is on the cusp of a major upheaval. Perhaps the biggest one ever. If I were working for a traditional publisher, I would be very nervous right now. For too long, traditional publishers just dominated the market like a monopoly, but the introduction of the Internet and other technical advances have meant that anyone (including myself) can produce a quality book out of their own home. We have figured out that we don't need publishers slowing things down and taking too much of the money.

WOW: Did you ever consider traditional publishing for No Limits or has self-publishing always been a part of your plan?

Sara: I did consider traditional publishing for this book, but when I failed to get an immediate response from any of the agents or publishers I contacted, I quickly shifted gears. I know how long it takes to get a book through the proposal stage and I knew what I was writing was timely material. I figured the only way I was going to give it the real chance it deserved was to self-publish.

WOW: I, for one, am glad you didn't wait around for traditional publishers to decide to take a chance on your book. But many authors self-publish a book in the hope that it will eventually be snatched up by a traditional publisher. If a traditional publisher came knocking would you send them away?

Sara: I doubt it, but who knows, because I know to never say never. I always like to keep my options open and consider all possibilities. But, I am having a blast and I just got picked up by a distributor and I signed on with a publicist. Things are really starting to move forward for me now.

WOW: Tell us about your impressive goal of selling one million books.

Sara: Well, I thought the goal fit nicely with the theme of the book, in which the only limits you have are the ones you create for yourself. I reject the idea that someone can't self-publish their book and sell one million copies. I think this is a really good book and I think it can help change people's lives. So, I really think one million people need to read it. Or, at least that is what I am hoping. Only time will tell for sure whether I am crazy or a genius.

WOW: What happens after you sell that million books? Is being an author a new chapter in your life--will there be additional books?

Sara: I would like to write other books. I would really like to write a book about my lovebirds, since I think they have a lot to teach the world about setting limits on those things we love. But, that is a whole story in itself. For now, I am sticking with promoting this book.

Also, I just signed up to be an independent garden consultant for The Happy Gardener. I was so impressed with their organization, that I decided I would enjoy doing that more than being a web developer. So, as of now, I am no longer a web developer, I am an author and garden consultant. YEAH!!!!

WOW: Love advice from lovebirds--wonderful. They could go on your book tour with you! And send me a Happy Gardener catalog. Gardening catalogs are the only thing that gets me through my snowy Pennsylvania winters.

Want to join Sara 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!

September 28, 2009 Monday
Sara will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win a copy of No Limits!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

September 30, 2009 Wednesday
Sara will be visiting Readaholic. Stop by for some interesting thoughts from Sara and a chance to win her book, No Limits!
http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/

October 2, 2009 Friday
Pack your bags! Today, Sara Morgan visits New Zealand, Write To Travel, and shares how self-employment can be the key to a fulfilling life.
http://writetotravel.blogspot.com/

October 5, 2009 Monday
Sara stops by Joanne DeMaio's blog, Whole Latte Life, to show small business owners why a web presence is important to their success. Sara is also a web developer, so this should be an interesting discussion! Stop by and have your questions answered by an expert.
http://joannedemaio.blogspot.com/

October 6, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by Kathryn Vercillo's blog, Real Words from a Real Writer, today and read a book review of No Limits, plus an interview with Sara. Also, enter to win a free copy of No Limits!
http://kathrynvercillo.com/blog/

October 12, 2009 Monday
Sara visits Stacie Connerty's blog, The Divine Miss Mommy, to talk about Self-Employment: The Key to a Fulfilling Life.
http://thedivinemissmommy.com/

October 15, 2009 Thursday
Sara visits Meryl's Notes for a surprise guest post! Stop by today and see what these two are up to.
http://www.meryl.net/section/blog/

October 27, 2009 Tuesday
Sara stops by Annette's Paper Trail to share her journey from being the corporate drone to being the boss. Not to miss!
http://www.annettefix.com/

We may 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 Sara Morgan'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 Sara's book, No Limits: How I escaped the clutches of Corporate America to live the Self-employed life of my dreams.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

 

Healing With Words---the Best Medicine

I was recently asked to review a manuscript for a soon-to-be-published book and write a blurb for the cover. The book was about one woman’s battle with breast cancer. The soon-to-be published manuscript isn’t your run-of-the-mill memoir. Of course, the author went into some depth about her illness and treatments but she used poetry and journal entries to tell her story. Admittedly, I’m not the most poetic person and I often miss the message in certain styles of poems, but I found this author’s approach so beautiful. Some of these poems she’d written during her chemo, others she wrote during her check-ups, and others still she wrote when she wondered whether she should give up. Writing was a release for her—a way to fight back even when her body wasn’t strong enough to.

Another woman I know who turns to writing as a way to cope with her stress and deep-set emotions is Jennie Linthorst. Jennie’s husband, Erik, directed a movie called “Autistic-Like: Graham’s Story,” which is a documentary about one family’s journey to getting the right diagnosis and treatment for their son Graham. The movie was how Erik dealt with his frustration and determination while writing poetry was Jennie’s. I remember watching the scenes of Jennie sharing some of her poetry in the documentary and being brought to tears. I related to her pain and thought, “Wow! How phenomenal of her to reach out through writing.” Not only does Jennie write poetry, she also inspires other mothers of special needs children to tap into their own creative side by teaching them to write poetry too.

The amazing thing is that both of these phenomenal women tapped into the part of their soul a lot of people don’t usually turn to when going through tragedy—the part that gives us renewed energy, that keeps us away from maladaptive ways of coping and gives us the strength to keep fighting…to keep living. It’s the part that reminds us of who we really are apart from the ugliness we’re fighting or the tough times that life throws at us.

You don’t have to be going through painful times to keep a journal or to write down your thoughts. Life is filled with many adventures that nobody else experiences the way you do. Why not write them down, even if it’s only for you to read. And like with the brave women above and so many like them, healing through words has always been the best medicine for me.

(Be sure to check out the amazing authors currently on WOW! Book Blog Tours. These are other fantastic examples of using words to heal.)

Chynna
www.lilywolfwords.ca
www.lilywolfwords.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 26, 2009

 

Learning A New Language, Part Deux

By Jill Earl

Earlier this month, WOW! teamster LuAnn’s post, ‘Learning a New Language’ offered reasons for writers to think about foreign language study, such as making one more marketable in pursuing work. Imagine my surprise to learn that today, September 26th, has been designated as The European Day of Languages (EDL) by the Council of Europe.

According to The Council’s website, the day was designated back in 2001 “to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity.” They add that it’s “ a time to celebrate the 6,000+ languages spoken around the world, promote language learning and have some multilingual fun!”

One way to celebrate this observance is by looking into free online foreign language courses. This can be an inexpensive way to find out what language will be the right fit for you. These courses are generally self-paced, therefore you won’t have to deal with deadlines to submit work (unless you impose your own), but you’ll need to motivate yourself to stay on task. If this sounds like something you'd like to try, I've included a few sites below for your perusal.

Many of MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) listings are from past foreign language classes, but there are readings, PDF’s of lecture notes, assignments and exams available in both undergraduate and graduate divisions. Choose from language, literature, and cultural studies.

Internet Polygot includes a tutorial slideshow for learning with pictures, various games to test newly-acquired skills and an option to create your own language lessons.

The BBC’s Languages site has extensive offerings for the language learner. You can choose both audio and video courses in many languages, such as 12-week beginners courses and foreign language TV with downloadable transcripts of programs.

Should you want to join in today’s festivities, find out more at the European Day of Languages website: www.coe.int/EDL

MIT OpenCourseWare
http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Foreign-Languages-and-Literatures/index.htm

Internet Polygot
http://www.internetpolyglot.com/

BBC’s Languages
http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/

Looks like there's going to be some language learning in my future. Thanks, LuAnn!

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Friday, September 25, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: "A Walk in the Park," Guest Post by Julie Bloss Kelsey

A Walk in the Park

by Julie Bloss Kelsey

“What is it?” she snaps. Impeccably dressed in a three-tiered suit, she looks like a walking wedding cake. Make that an angry walking wedding cake. I try not to laugh.

“We need to talk,” I say. “About your writing.”

At this, she pauses and absently picks invisible lint from her suit. “I don’t write. Not any more.” She picks up her pace.

"Yes, you do,” I say. I block her path. “Remember last night? You described the riders on the subway in that letter to your mother.”

She smiles. With her stride broken, I tug at her shoulder pad and point at the closest park bench. “Sit!”

She dutifully sits, but her legs soon lace tight. She crosses her arms. “I should get back to work,” she hisses in my direction.

“The work will wait,” I remind her. I use the same gentle tone of voice that I used the day before, and the day before that. “Stay with me awhile,” I whisper. “You’ll have fun.”

For a moment, I have her. She starts to point at the swaying leaves. Look at that! I think she’s going for the notebook!

She murmurs under her breath, “Look at that!”

But then she withdraws her hand. Into her pocket it goes. Out pops the day planner.

I hate that thing. This one is a tiny version of the monster that occupies her desk at work. Her office is a disaster: so much paperwork overflowing with writing, but none of it really matters. I wish I could convince her of that.

She is busy finding just the right tab in the day planner. “Accounts payable meeting at 2 pm.” She checks her watch. “I have to go.”

I grab at her sleeve, but I am no match for her when she’s like this.

“Look at the trees!” I shout at her retreating back. A passerby stares in my direction. I try again, focusing more intently on her. “Look at the trees. Don’t the leaves look like giant eyeballs?”

She stops mid-stride and casts a glance back at the park bench, wearing a curious smile. She checks her watch again. “Maybe there’s time,” she murmurs.

I heave a sigh of relief as she sits down, puts the planner away, and pulls out a ragged notebook and a ball-point pen.

“Now, where were we?” she asks.

I snuggle close. “We were looking at the eyeballs in the trees.” The aspens quake as if on cue.

She holds the pen over paper, so close that I can almost move the nib. My hand hovers over hers.

Curious trees
tap on my shoulder
gaze at my heart
watch my every move
remind me of what’s important.

We sit next to each other on the park bench for a long time, not talking, not writing, just enjoying each other’s company: a girl and her muse.


When not chasing after her three kids, Julie Bloss Kelsey enjoys writing poetry, creative nonfiction, magazine articles, and stories for children. Her work has appeared online at Absolute Write, FundsforWriters, and Writing-World.com. Visit her on the web at Mama Joules (http://www.mamajoules.blogspot.com), her family-friendly science blog.

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Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.


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Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Write Me A Vacation Please

I am looking forward to some serious writing later today, all day tomorrow, and maybe most of the weekend too. Part of it is my own doing, as I have 8 articles for a website by Saturday in order to fulfill my 3-month minimum requirement, but part of it was just my own executive decision.

I never understood the idea of writing vacations, but I see that now, I could do for some time where there is nothing but my mind, my netbook, and myself sequestered somewhere to write. Maybe it's because I'm on the cusp of a time of high concentration and what feels like could be an amazing run on great ideas or maybe I'm in a nadir of things altogether. Paradox, perhaps, but that's where I stand. The idea of more work, more writing and especially more editing both sounds repulsive and like the best thing I could do for myself.

That said, while I cannot afford to get away from work and obligations (not to mention, workaholics tend not to do vacations), I would love to hear about the experiences others of you have had by scheduling in writing vacations. Where did you go and how did it affect the style, genre, and intensity of work you were able to output? Did you do more writing, less, and did the quality change too?

If all goes well with mine, I am going to make it a more frequent occurrence, even if only for a few hours a month and never results in going anywhere further away than my room or the library. Writing both frustrates me and makes me happy, so I am going to get more of my fix of it, much like sunworshippers do with the sunny days. If nothing else, maybe it will work with getting me back towards my goals, my ambitions, and my zone of contentment.

So, any of you want to join me? Remember, vacations and journeys are not necessarily bound by obligations, word limits, and mandatory minimums of output or duration. They are what you make them out to be. Best part is that you can schedule them on a whim, without paying booking fees, and without getting sand stuck between your toes unless that's what suits you best.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

 

Navigating the black hole of writing job applications

I love writing. Really I do. Which is why I have chosen to write for a living.
As many freelance writers do, I don't put all my clients into one egg basket. Among my clients I count newspapers, electronic media, book packagers, TV producers and custom publishers. When I don't query well or when I feel I'm spending too much time researching, then it is my fault. The guilt can pile on. But I generally feel okay if I've done my best.
However, sometimes a job catches my eye and I apply for it. In ordinary times, I hopefully assume, all the applicants would be contacted. However, in these extraordinary times of MediaBistro and CraigsList postings, e-mail boxes at hiring companies are overflowing. So I am thrilled when I have applied for a writing job and have been told I've reached the first cut of writers. Contacted by the company, I know that the pool of applicants has grown a bit smaller. But that's when things get a little fuzzy.
Then, it seems, I fall into the black hole of job applicants. It's a lonely hole--not because one is actually alone, but because you don't know who your fellow travelers are. To make the journey even more awkward, you don't want to be a very squeaky wheel. In this world of social media, you become a social media pariah if you tweet your unveiled frustrations.
I know the saying is that squeaky wheels get the grease, but what if the person you squeak to uses a delete button on a whim.
"Ugh, a second e-mail from this job applicant, we'll take care of that!"
What if you remain stuck in the black hole even after a stellar interview where you "connected" and yet the potential employer never contacts you again?
"We'll let you know on Monday."
In fact, the employer refuses to respond to direct e-mails but continues to write pithy tweets while you scan for any mention of a job hiring. Do you un-follow them?
Herein lies my dilemma, I love writing for the versatility and the sheer energy I can expend on my assignments. But it is the business of freelancing that gives me a woozy feeling. One that makes me wish that I'd never applied for the job because then I wouldn't be watching my mailbox like a shunned lover. I enjoy the relationships I've built with my editors and, yes, some of them stem from blindly sending a letter of introduction. But sometimes, like today, I want to know who my fellow travelers are so I can commiserate with them and, maybe together, we can become a squeaky wheel that tells employers to give us some love...or at least some writing jobs.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at www.CoastalCarolinaMoms.com and www.TheWriteElizabeth.com, delving into creativity in everyday places. She will try not to check her e-mail and Twitter every minute today...well, maybe just every other minute. Just in case.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Interview with Elizabeth Barton - 3rd Place Winner in the Spring '09 Flash Fiction Contest


According to Elizabeth Barton, she's been penning stories for just about as long as she can remember. After earning degrees in psychology and nutritional sciences, Elizabeth worked as a medical writer and editor. She participated in the Writer's Loft program in Chicago for over four years and recently ventured into fiction writing. An avid writer, Elizabeth has multiple manuscripts in varying degrees in completion, and now, she is putting the polishing touches on her first novel.

Elizabeth lives in Chicago with her husband, Ian, and two cats, Roxie and Gordon. When she isn't writing, Elizabeth enjoys reading, theater, and wine. Elizabeth likes other artistic pursuits, including painting, drama, painting, and stained glass work. She believes every experience can be an inspiration.

Elizabeth's story, "The Wedding March", is located on WOW! 's Spring Contest Page. If you haven't had the opportunity to read her work yet, head over to WOW! Women on Writing. Her story will resonate with anyone who has experienced pre-wedding jitters.

WOW: Welcome, Elizabeth, and congratulations on winning third place in the Spring 2009 contest! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with WOW! readers today. "The Wedding March" examines the nervous jitters a bride experiences prior to her wedding. What was the inspiration for your story?

Elizabeth: It actually began with a writing prompt: "Terrified, she opened the door..." I knew I didn't want to write a horror story, so I began to think of what other kinds of things people find scary. The idea of getting married to someone you're really not sure about is pretty scary to me, but I know it happens.

WOW: I agree with you! It happens quite often. I like how you incorporate wedding traditions and terminology. To you, how important is the use of detail ?

Elizabeth: I think details are important, especially in flash fiction. Since the story is so short, you don't get to know the character(s) as well as you might in a longer piece. Every detail can help bring the reader into the story, and when you are specific in your phrasing, you create something uniquely your own.

WOW: And creating something unique is an important element of a story, and especially true of flash fiction. Your bio states you have a stash of short stories. Do you also write a lot of flash fiction? What genre do you prefer?

Elizabeth: I do write a lot of both flash fiction and short stories. It's hard to say which I prefer, but I have been writing more flash fiction recently. Although flash fiction doesn't allow one to delve as deeply into characters and conflicts as longer pieces do, it offers its own challenges. When you're writing such a short piece, it really makes you think more carefully about every single word you put on the page.

WOW: Word choice really makes a difference in flash fiction. Flash fiction writers learn to be precise. Precision is also a key element of medical writing, which you spent time doing. Plus, your background is in Psychology and Nutrition. Do you incorporate any of those non-fiction ideas into your fiction?

Elizabeth: Every story incorporates psychology. Even if psychology is not actually mentioned in the story per se, a character's thoughts and actions reveal his or her psychology. I can't say that I've incorporated nutrition or medicine/medical writing into my fiction thus far, but perhaps I will some day.

WOW: Great! Critique groups and workshops are a benefit to a writer. You participated in the Writer's Loft Workshop in Chicago. Share your experience and what you learned.

Elizabeth: It was a great experience. I learned, not only from someone who had been writing and teaching for decades, but also from other aspiring writers as we critiqued each other's work. It really helped me grow as a writer. I learned that you can write about almost anything and make it interesting as long as you have conflict (whether internal or external) and characters to identify with. The leader of the workshop (Jerry Cleaver) always said, "If your characters are having a good time, your reader probably isn't." I think that's great advice, and I always like to keep that in mind while a write.

WOW: Wonderful advice for all writers to consider. Thanks for sharing! What additional advice would you offer writers who are contemplating entering a contest?

Elizabeth: The worst thing that could happen is you don't win, and no one wins every contest she enters. You really have nothing to lose except a (usually nominal) entry fee, and you might just surprise yourself, so do it!

WOW: So true! Surprises are always welcome! And, like you said, there's nothing to lose. What current projects are you working on?

Elizabeth: I'm almost always working on at least a couple of short/flash fiction pieces. However, my main focus lately has been revising my novel (working title: Thick and Thin). It tells the story of two young sisters who endure a tumultuous childhood touched by abuse, alcoholism, and suicide, as they discover whether the bonds of sisterhood can survive and help carry them through it all.

WOW: It sounds like a powerful story! Thank you again, Elizabeth, for talking about writing and your story with WOW! readers.

Interview by LuAnn Schindler
Twitter - @luannschindler

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Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, author of The Sky Begins at Your Feet, launches her blog tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg received her doctorate from the University of Kansas and was recently appointed the Poet Laureate of Kansas. The author of four poetry collections she is certified in poetry therapy and has led workshops for many groups, including people living with physical and mental illness. In 2000, Caryn founded the Master's level program in Transformative Language Arts, that focuses on the effect of written and verbal language on the community, at Goddard College where she teaches. Her writer's guide Write Where You Are is unique in that it is directed to teenage writers.

Caryn co-founded Brave Voices with singer/songwriter Kelley Hunt to provide singing and writing workshops. Songs written by Caryn have been performed by the Kelley Hunt band both in the United States and Europe. Caryn's musical talents also include playing the cello.

Along with her husband, writer Ken Lassman, and children, Caryn calls the countryside south of Lawrence, Kansas home.

Find out more about Caryn by visiting her website, http://www.carynmirriamgoldberg.com, and her blog, http://carynmirriamgoldberg.wordpress.com.

The Sky Begins at Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body

By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

This tender but humorous memoir chronicles Caryn's tale of resiliency and love in the face of breast cancer. She braves breast cancer, the breast cancer genetic mutation and the loss of a parent by connecting with an eclectic Midwest community, the land and sky, and a body undergoing vast renovation. Along the way, she swims with stingrays in the Gulf of Mexico, searches for cream puffs for a Pennsylvania funeral, leads a group fighting to protect ecologically-essential land in Kansas, and helps students find their own voice in Vermont. In searching for a new definition of the erotic through our awareness of nature, this memoir illuminates how our bodies are our most local address on the earth.

Published by Ice Cube Books (April 2009)
Paperback: 229 pages
ISBN# 1888160438

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Caryn's memoir, The Sky Begins at Your Feet, 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 Jodi Webb


WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Caryn. We're delighted to launch your blog tour for your book, The Sky Begins at Your Feet. Although your most recent book is a memoir, you're also the Poet Laureate of Kansas, as well as the author of non-fiction books on writing and a biography of writer Sandra Cisneros. Do you have a preferred type of writing?

Caryn: I began as a poet when I was 14, but I write fiction, memoir, personal essays and songs. I don't have a preferred type of writing, but rather, a passion for finding the best form for whatever I'm writing about.


WOW: So, you think it's important for a writer to explore different types of writing?


Caryn: I always encourage my students to read across genres to find a wide range of ways that language can be used in fresh and powerful ways, and also how language can be used for healing, liberation and celebration. At the same time, it's important for writers to read in their own genre deeply to learn more about the specific possibilities in that genre.

When it comes to writing, I believe the best thing is to do what Annie Dillard says in her book, The Writing Life: aim for what you're writing about rather than how you're writing about it. She gives the example of cutting wood, and how you need to aim for the block under the piece of wood you're cutting, and that's always said it well for me. So even if you've written mostly personal essays for 20 years, if you find yourself writing about something that wants to be a poem, let it be a poem. Another way to say this is that we need to put our ear to the writing we're doing, and let what the writing wants to be, rather than what we think it should be, tell us what to write.


WOW: How beautifully expressed. It seems your struggle with cancer, both personally and as a witness to your father's illness, called for two genres. What made you decide to write a memoir about the experience even after you had already written many poems on the topic?


Caryn: I began writing this book as journal entries about my journey through chemo, which I called "Chemopause" and gave to my oncologist each time I visited for more chemo. With my permission, he put this writing in my medical file, which I loved because I felt seen as a whole
person.

After I finished chemo, I felt compelled to simply write the story before chemo, and as the story after chemo unfolded in very powerful and difficult and also beautiful ways, I wrote that also. At some point, I realized it was a memoir, and not just a memoir about cancer treatment, but about losing a parent, connecting with community, learning to live in and appreciate my own body, finding strength in land and sky, and learning more about how precious and impermanent life is.


WOW: We've had past authors talk about the emotional toll of writing memoirs. What were the most difficult (or most rewarding) parts of writing a memoir?


Caryn: You know, for me, the writing wasn't so emotionally draining. Living the story certainly was at times, however. Probably the most difficult and surprising thing to write was about the aftermath of my double mastectomy, when I realized--only when I was writing about it--that I couldn't remember hardly anything from the time I arrived at the hospital until I was back home afterwards. That lapse was stunning, painful, and also a moment I felt enormous tenderness toward myself.

WOW: It's surprising what we learn about ourselves through our writing. I know you're also helping others learn about themselves through writing as a teacher in the Transformative Language Arts program at Goddard College. Can you explain the program to us?


Caryn: Transformative Language Arts (TLA) is a program within the Individualized MA program at Goddard College, in which students--who are almost all non-traditional, older and full of life experience--design their own MA studies according to what they're passionate about, how they need and want to connect with their community, and what work they want to cultivate in their lives.

It's low-residency, which means the students and the faculty come from all over the country (and sometimes the world) for a week-long residency, at which time students design their semester's work, choose a faculty mentor to work with, go to lots of workshops, meetings and celebrations, and usually jump-start their lives for the work they want to do. Then everyone goes home, and students send their faculty mentors a packet of their writing, research, study and questions every three weeks for a total of five packets. Faculty, in turn, write students long, individualized letters, helping the students go deeper in their work.


TLA is an emerging academic field that I helped found, and it's all about educating ourselves to use writing, storytelling, drama, and more for community building, personal transformation, social change, spiritual exploration, etc. TLAers are writers, storytellers, performers, researchers, etc. who often
facilitate workshops, lead retreats, do consulting or coaching, and more in schools, community centers, prisons, youth centers, art programs and many more venues. It's a new way to make a living using the ancient impulse of changing the world through our words. For more information visit www.goddard.edu or drop me a line at CarynMirriamGoldberg@gmail.com.

WOW: Can you give us some personal examples of how you or your students brought language and creativity to a community?


Caryn: Absolutely! I facilitated writing workshops for low-income women of color at a local housing authority in Kansas for eight years, helping women who were often silenced and unseen come forth with their poetry and stories. Eventually, we published a collection of our work--A Circle of Women, A Circle of Words. I will also treasure the image of about a dozen of these women sitting across a stage at the local arts center, all dressed to the nines, reading their work and sharing the invisible lives of our town with our community at the book launch.

Brian Moore, one of our graduates, began an ecological writing center in
Eugene, Oregon, which offers workshops on using poetry to connect with the earth. Yvette Hyater-Adams in Philadelphia started a business, Renaissance Muse, which now offers transformative narrative coaching--helping people find in their life stories ways to aim their lives toward the stories they're ready to live. Suzanne Adams, in Houston, works with teenage girls, using art and writing to help them empower themselves.

WOW: Any ideas how we, as individual writers, can bring the joy of words to our own communities?


Caryn: Start your own writing circle. Bring together other writers to simply write together, making up writing exercises or drawing them from any number of great books (see www.TLAResources.wordpress.com). Writers can and should also approach--if they feel called to do so--community centers, public housing, local hospitals and clinics, schools, prisons and other places to inquire about starting pilot project workshops or collaborative performances. Of course, writers doing this also should connect up with others in the field through training and networking. I recommend the TLA Network (see www.TLANetwork.org), which is a great way to learn about how to make a living doing the writing you love in community.

WOW: What's up next with your very varied writing career?


Caryn: As Poet Laureate of Kansas, I'm doing a lot of traveling. My main project is helping train people in various communities to lead community writing circles, which can help people find greater meaning in their lives and create poems, stories, essays and more. I'm also doing a monthly radio show, "Write from Your Life," on High Plains Public Radio (www.HPPR.org/hpw), which offers people a local writer and a writing exercise to try at home. In addition to the memoir, my fourth book of poetry, Landed, was just published, and I'm traveling here and there to do joint readings on both the memoir and the poetry book. And I'm doing what brings me continual peace: hanging out with my family and watching movies or taking walks, and studying and practicing yoga.

WOW: Thank you, Caryn, for taking time to chat with us today! You're an inspiration to writers and women everywhere.

Want to join Caryn 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!

September 21, 2009 Monday
Caryn will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win a copy of Caryn's memoir!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

September 23, 2009 Wednesday
Caryn stops by Anne-Marie Nichols' blog, This Mama Cooks On a Diet, to chat about cooking, cancer, and enjoying life.
http://www.thismamacooks.com/

September 24, 2009 Thursday
Caryn stops by Meryl's Notes today to give us some writing tips and a chance to win her memoir The Sky Begins at Your Feet.
http://www.meryl.net/section/blog/

September 28, 2009 Monday
Writing can be so many things. Today Caryn stops by Joanne DeMaio's blog, Whole Latte Life, to discuss how writing can get us in touch with our environment.
http://joannedemaio.blogspot.com/

October 1, 2009 Thursday
Visit Mom-e-Centric for a quick chat about living life with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.
http://www.momecentric.com/

October 2, 2009 Friday
Stop by Jan Lundy's blog, Awake is Good, for an interview with Caryn about her staying positive in the face of adversity and the healing power of writing.
http://www.awakeisgood.blogspot.com/

October 9, 2009 Friday
Stop by Peeking Between the Pages today and read a review of Caryn Mirriam Goldberg's memoir The Sky Begins at Your Feet.
http://peekingbetweenthepages.blogspot.com/

October 12, 2009 Monday
Stop by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writers Inspired, to learn what Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg has to say about writing and enter to win her memoir The Sky Begins at Your Feet.
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

October 14, 2009 Wednesday
Stop by the Memory Writers Network today for an interview with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg about memoir writing.
http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/

We may 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 Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg'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 Caryn's memoir, The Sky Begins at Your Feet.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

 

WOW! is on Twitter


Yes, we're a little late in the game, but we finally set up a Twitter account! Actually, WOW! contributing editor and columnist Margo L. Dill set it up for us.

Follow us at: http://twitter.com/womenonwriting

We have four ladies tweeting for us: Margo (our main tweetie-pie), Jodi, Marcia, and Angela. Tweets will be about WOW! behind the scenes--contest news, authors and books, new classes, writer's markets, calls for submissions, industry news/gossip, bloopers & blunders, the writing life and more. Keep on the lookout for giveaways!

See you over there. :)

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

 

The WOW! Fall '09 Flash Fiction Contest is Open!






Yes, it's here. We're officially taking entries now! Limit: 300 entries, first-come, first-serve. And we've done something extra special this season. We've raised the cash prize for the first place winner by $50. So the first place winner will take $250 (instead of $200).

We also have a very special guest judge this season--legendary literary agent Noah Lukeman!

Deadline: November 30, 2009

Word Count: 250 minimum - 750 maximum

Open Prompt: You can write about anything as long as it's fiction and within the word count.

Limit: 300 entries

Visit the Contest Page for complete details. Good luck!

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Friday, September 18, 2009

 

Last Chance to Register! Writing for Children Workshop

Ladies,

If you're interested in writing for children's magazines--whether it's a short story, a nonfiction article, or poetry--this class is not to miss! Margo is a fabulous instructor and will walk you through the process--from crafting your story to creating your submission package. Enroll asap to ensure your spot.

WRITING FOR CHILDREN: Everything You Need to Know About Short Stories, Articles, and Fillers by Margo L. Dill

START DATE: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DURATION: 7 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class will teach the basics of writing for children’s magazines, crafting short stories, nonfiction articles, poetry, and fillers. The student will come away with a short story and cover letter, nonfiction query letter, and a filler or poem. She will also have a list of potential markets, fitting her manuscripts. The instructor will also share an organizational tool for submissions and information on finding other children’s writers and networking.

Visit the classroom page for more details and a week-by-week breakdown:
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html#MargoDill

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

 

Learning a New Language

by LuAnn Schindler

This morning, I attended a foreign language class at an area high school. My assignment: interview the teacher and students about why this language is important and worth learning. What's unique is that the language is Chinese, and the school is located in the middle of Northeast / North Central Nebraska.

How does this relate to writing? It's interesting; the instructor handed me a sheet of paper and a 'pen' resembling a paint brush and told me to work along with the students, drawing the Chinese words for numbers one through ten and the directions.

Later in the class, she shared a slide show with famous places to visit in China. Each slide had English and Chinese writing, as well as gorgeous photographs. At the end, she played a clip of a Chinese acrobatic troupe, similar to the Cirque Shanghai show I saw in Chicago this summer. Spectacular! When I asked her what her goals were, she said to give students a hook of culture and then reel them in to learn the language. I think she's succeeding.

She hooked me.

As a former teacher, I can't stress enough the importance of life-long learning. According to the instructor, one of every five people in the world know Chinese. Think about the career possibilities: translators, writers - in every genre, travel guides. The list of opportunities is endless.

As a writer, it may seem like there isn't enough time to squeeze in time for a class of any kind. I look at my schedule and wonder when I'll ever get caught up with my writing obligations and contemplate adding another element to the mix. But, if I want to remain marketable and open new doors, I should investigate learning another language.

You never know where the world of language may take you.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

 

Fantastic Photos: Using Pictures to Enhance Your Blog Part 2


In part one of my post, I talked about using photo share sites, like Flickr.com, to find pictures to go with your blog posts. In part two of "Fantastic Photos," I have a few more ideas of places to find pictures and enhance your blogs.

And why should you care about photos? Just think about this: What draws your eye to articles in a newspaper? It's either the headline or the photos (which is usually the case). Why do we love picture books? Sure, the text is cute--but the illustrations make it sparkle. Think of adding photos to your blog posts like you are adding sparkle. You are just enhancing your brilliant words. People love photos, and it's not hard to find good photos!

So, here are a couple more ideas:

  • Join the Amazon.com Associates program. Then you can get html coding for those rectangles with the picture of the book cover, and the button that says buy from Amazon. Don't freak out when you read html coding in my above sentence. Amazon makes it simple, simple, simple. I use it on my blog, where I always put an Amazon link to the book that I am reviewing. If people click on a book from your website and order something through Amazon, then you get a percentage of the sales. Granted, it's not very much, but it's something. For example, this month I have sold 3 books off my blog through Amazon, and my account has a balance of 26 cents!
  • If you are writing about people, books, music, etc, use photos of the people and book album cover. People are VERY generous about sending you photos to enhance your blog if you contact the right person. For example, at the big publishing houses like Penguin Group for example, they have a media section of their website. Find the publicist that fits with the book you are reviewing, e-mail them, and ask for a jpeg file of the book cover and/or author, and they will send one to you in a timely manner. Some book/author/musician websites have a feature where you can download the photo from their website. Just read the information carefully to see if a photo credit is given and make sure to include this information with your blog post. I have even contacted the author myself, and they are more than happy to send you files or give you the name of their publicist. In today's market, everyone is happy with free publicity.
  • This next suggestion may seem obvious but you can provide YOUR OWN PHOTOS. (No duh, Margo, uh?) The only reason why I include that here is because the problem most people run into is that their photo files from their digital cameras are so large that they don't load properly to the blog post. So, just remember to resize the files. Most photo editing programs have a place where you can easily resize files for e-mailing and downloading. Another thing to be careful of is if you have a blog about parenting, for example, and you want to download photos of your neighbor's children to enhance a blog post, make sure you have permission from your neighbors to publish their children's photos on the website. Some people don't care about things like this, especially since names are rarely included, but other people are touchy. I have a friend whose husband doesn't even want her to load photos of their own kids to her Facebook page; so to be on the safe side, it is always better to ask.
This ends my suggestions and places where I have found photos to enhance my blog. I'm sure there are more, many more. SO, if you have a different source, let us know!

Happy writing!
Margo Dill
www.margodill.com

photo by Shashi Bellamkonda www.flickr.com

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

 

Laurel Robertson: An Interview with Second Place Winner of the Spring Flash Fiction Contest


Laurel Robertson was born in the tiny town of Presque Isle, Maine and has spent most of her life moving south towards warmer weather! Now a native of Dacula, Ga. (let's just say Atlanta), she resides in hectic tandem with her always-on-the-go six-year-old daughter, Lucie Marie. An avid photographer, reader, and fan of storytelling, Laurel has kept writing on the back burner for many years while working her two full time jobs as a Sales & Marketing Coordinator and a single mother. Recently a spark lit and took hold as she began writing her first YA novel, which she is now in the process of editing. Although telling stories has always been in her blood, this is the first contest she has entered. Laurel is excited to entertain the idea of writing as a serious quest as well as creative outlet. She looks forward to writing more short fiction and finishing the novels stacking up in her head.

WOW: Laurel, congratulations on winning second place in the Spring 2009 Flash Fiction contest with your story, "Home By the Sea." It's the kind of story that can give you chills! What was your inspiration for this short story?

Laurel: Thanks very much! It was a complete surprise and honor to be chosen second place winner. The inspiration behind this particular story came from a song actually. When a friend and I decided to enter this contest, she asked if I had any story ideas in mind. At the time I had NO clue but was hoping for divine inspiration. Later that day, I was listening to my I-tunes and a song by Genesis came on--"Home By the Sea." For some reason, my brain pulled out a useless bit of trivia from way back --that song was about a ghost. It dawned on me that I wanted to write a ghost story. I started pondering what might happen if a ghost didn’t “know” she was a ghost. I actually wrote the ending first and worked my way to the beginning. And I named it HBTS in honor of the song that inspired the thought.

WOW: It is always so interesting to hear how stories are inspired by songs, news stories, quotes--it seems like, thankfully, inspiration is all around us. How easy or difficult was it for you to tell this entire story, including great descriptions, in such a small amount of words?

Laurel: I entered this contest to find out if I could write short. I soon realized it is unbelievably difficult to pare down my word count. I love description and trying to squeeze it in such a small number of words takes a lot of consideration. I give Kudos to anyone who can write short fiction easily. But, I will add that it has improved my writing in that I have become more aware of sentence structure and phrasing. I think writing short fiction can only improve one’s overall writing skill.

WOW: I agree, and it is important to always challenge ourselves and learn as writers! Do you often explore the theme of death or loss in your writing? What other themes do you explore?

Laurel: I hadn’t thought of it that way until you just asked, but now that you mention it, my newest short story is about death as well. Maybe it’s a subconscious endeavor? My novel, however, is not about death. Although, it might have something to do with loss!

WOW: (laughs) I think that is actually the best way to approach a theme--not trying to approach it but just seeing what comes out with the story you need to write! Your bio said that you are editing a YA novel. Is this the age group you prefer to write for? What is your novel about?

Laurel: I never sat down with the intention of writing a novel for the YA genre. I wanted to write a romance; and once I started writing, it took off in a totally different direction. I was elated because I had no idea I wanted to send any kind of message with my writing. The “romance” became more about respecting one’s self while in love rather than just writing a typical romance novel. Through the research on certain subjects for my story, I realized I actually wanted to say something to kids. They are under so much more pressure than we were at that age. My hope is that I might, in some small way, make them think about how important decisions regarding love and waiting until marriage to have sex really are. Too many adults accept teenage sex as the norm now days, and I think today’s kids want someone to tell them it’s OK to respect yourself and wait. One day, I am hopeful that my six-year-old daughter will benefit from my writing on this subject.

WOW: You have definitely set out to tackle a tough issue, but it sounds like you will have an intriguing book. I love it again that you set out to write one thing, and the characters and story kind of took over. That happens to me all the time! You also mentioned that you put your writing on the back burner for a while until recently. What made you start writing again?

Laurel: Last year, my husband and I separated after 18 years. I was a bit lost and needed an “outlet” for a lot of pent-up anxieties. My writing became a conduit for the sad, angry ,and confused bits of myself turning into something therapeutic and constructive. It was a safe haven for me when I needed to escape reality. It also gave me something to do with all the extra time I had when I would wake up, every night, at 3:00 am!

WOW: Laurel, thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. I can see that it will help other women writers who may be going through a difficult situation. It is always nice to hear when people can take a trying time and turn it into something positive. What are some time management tips you have for WOW! readers since you work a full-time job and are a single mom?

Laurel: Well, any of my friends reading this will certainly laugh-out-loud at the thought of “time management” mentioned anywhere near my name. I am more of a fly-by-the-seat -0f -my-pants kind of girl. Also known as the Princess of Procrastination…but, it works for me. I do much better “under pressure” and as long as I have a deadline, I can get amazing amounts of work done. I just make lots of lists on my calendar and try to stick to them. I could use a little more sleep, but to quote my favorite singer, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

WOW: Thank you, Laurel, for sharing your writing knowledge, story, and passion with us today! Keep on writing, and we hope to read more of your work soon.

interview conducted by Margo L. Dill, www.margodill.com, http://margodill.com/blog/

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Monday, September 14, 2009

 

Paul Martin, inspirational author of Original Faith, launches his blog tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Paul M. Martin writes with exceptional clarity about spiritual matters. His depth and breadth of first-hand experience allows him to speak compellingly to people across a wide range of perspectives on religion and spirituality. At age twenty-three, Paul had a spontaneous experience of the kind that is often sought through meditation and prayer. It was immensely hopeful. It stood in complete defiance of his despairing world view. It was the primary source material for the rest of his life and the genesis of Original Faith. Within a year, Paul visited the Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts, where he learned meditation from the late Fr. Basil Pennington. Within two years, he went on to receive an M.A. in religious studies from the University of Chicago. In the coming years, he would also earn a M. Ed. in counseling as his public school career transitioned from English as a Second Language teacher to elementary school counselor. At age thirty-seven, with Original Faith perhaps two years from completion, Paul experienced the onset of a condition that would never be diagnosed. He was forced to set the manuscript aside for the better part of the next decade as he combined full-time work with extensive medical research and travel. By May 2002, Paul's disability had become too severe for continued work outside the home, and he resumed work on Original Faith. Between 2002 and 2006, he completed the book, along with two additional manuscripts, managing to convert his handwritten notes to Word documents before he lost the ability to walk and work with paper.

Find out more about Paul by visiting his website: www.originalfaith.com

Paul is also offering a FREE e-book, Original Faith: Hard Times Handbook, to those that sign up for his newsletter. You can sign-up and download the e-book here.


Original Faith: What Your Life is Trying To Tell You
By Paul Martin

Original Faith is no how-to manual. Movingly written, it evokes experiences and insights in readers that give transformative power to its many suggests for practice. Wherever we are along our paths, here is a new and contemporary approach to help clarify the perennial call to re-center our identities first from egoism to love; then from love to a larger reality.

You will find answers in your own experience to questions such as:
  • What, exactly, is real love?
  • What runs deeper than despair?
  • What makes negativity worse than useless no matter how well justified?
  • How can I realize that I'm already faithful--with or without beliefs?
  • How can I discover that there is no "set-up" and begin creating meaning instead of searching for it?
  • How can I find peace and strength far beyond what I've dreamt possible?
Published by Lucid Interface LLC
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN# 193461100x

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Paul's book, Original Faith: What Your Life is Trying To Tell You, 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 Margo L. Dill

WOW: Paul, thank you for joining us at WOW! and for kicking off your blog tour. It took you twenty-five years to write Original Faith (25, correct?), and it addresses your spiritual life and struggles along the way. Why did it take so many years to write this book?

Paul: Yes, twenty-five, "25," or, as I like to think of it, "only a quarter of a century..."

But seriously... I should mention at the outset that Original Faith isn't a spiritual autobiography. It does make use of first-person material where this helps to move the book's message forward. Some readers have compared it to Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in this respect. As to my extended writing process...

For fourteen years, the writing developed on its own. At first, I didn't realize I was writing a book. It began with note taking and journaling for my personal use. Once I saw that a book was underway, it was a creative process that happened on its own time. My best ideas and language would come to me as unexpected surprises. I came to see my job as getting out of the way and making way--accepting that I couldn't control or anticipate where the process was going while setting aside regular time for writing.

After fourteen years, most of the creative work was complete. I had set my notes and working manuscript aside for what I thought would be a couple months while I recovered from a sudden onset of "Myofascial Pain Syndrome." It would turn out that I didn't have MPS, but something much rarer and much worse.

For about the next ten years, in declining health, I had to devote all my energies to continued full-time work, extensive medical research and travel, and health insurance problems. I was able to return to the manuscript only after I became disabled from my work.

WOW: We are very sorry to hear about your health problems, and thank you for sharing your story with us in spite of the difficulties you must face to do so. By returning to your work after 10 years, it shows that you are a very determined man with a message to give the world. That is very admirable! What is the basic premise of Original Faith?

Paul: That each of us is already faithful, that trust and hope in the One is a fact at the depths of being human, and that anyone can personally become aware of this. I leave it to readers whether to think of the One as God or as being, nature, or reality itself. My focus is the experiences that unite us, not the beliefs that can divide us.

Faith is one of those experiences. And to open up to our faith is to find ourselves opening up to another important unifying experience: love. Faith encourages love to be itself.

WOW: In the beginning of the book, you address love, faith, and the obstacles that keep us from living out faith-full love. What are those obstacles?

Paul: The main obstacle is egoism--the sense that each of us has of somehow mattering more than everyone else. For some of us, depression and despair are obstacles. Even this has an egoistic dimension.

WOW: It sounds so simple when you say it, but we all know how hard it is to fight against egoism, which seems to come naturally to most of us. Does Original Faith address how to replace those obstacles, mainly egoism, with love? Please give us a brief explanation of this process.

Paul: The process of spiritual development is highly individual, but the general direction is clear: becoming more loving and less egoistic. Authentic insight and spiritual practice are the keys to finding and keeping to this path.

By authentic insight, I mean realizations that come to us through deep and heartfelt experience. Insights that Original Faith seeks to evoke in readers include understanding the nature of love, faith, and ego. Seeing love and ego for what they are, and with our love encouraged by our faith, we become profoundly motivated to take our love's way.

Without a foundation of insight, spiritual practices are likely to falter and fail--much like New Year's resolutions often do. But with this foundation, spiritual practices are invaluable to keeping us on track. Original Faith offers a wide variety of practices on the premise that people need to identify those that fit well with their individual lifestyles if they are to benefit from them in the long run, where they can be transformative.

WOW: That makes perfect sense to find ways to fit spiritual practice into your lifestyle and not to make unrealistic goals that will be impossible to meet. I think the comparison to New Year's resolutions makes your point perfectly clear! You also worked as a counselor for elementary students. Did this job affect your ideas and beliefs that you discuss in the book?

Paul: My long career working with young children, first as an English as a Second Language teacher and then school counselor, was a continual source of inspiration. It gave me a sense of the reality of the coming generations and helped expand the scope of my caring to the whole world and our long-term future here. And children don't cover up like adults do--the love and the ego are both out there and easy to see. Quite a lot of material in Original Faith was directly child-inspired.

WOW: We can learn so much from children, especially because they don't cover up like adults do. How did you manage writing a book and working a full-time job with the children?

Paul: By getting up in the early hours of the morning (around 2:00 a.m.) to write before going to work. I found that after work just wasn't a productive writing time for me.

And as long as I was getting up so early, I made sunrise my jogging time. A beautiful time to be outdoors and, like my work with children, another major and completely unexpected source of creativity. In my twenties, my fantasy had been a farmhouse in Vermont with nothing to do but write; I'm glad that didn't happen.

WOW: 2:00 a.m.!! Now, that is dedication! What remarkable accomplishments to have finished your book and touched the lives of children at the same time! You also suffer from a rare progressive illness. What challenges does that present for your writing and marketing of your book?

Paul: I completed the book just in time. When I'd set it aside in 1995, all my notes and papers were handwritten. When I returned to them about ten years later, the first thing I did was organize them and enter them into my computer, a project that I completed just two or three months before losing the ability to work with hard copy.

My ability to market the book is minimal. Since finishing it, the rate of disease progression has continued to accelerate. I'm too fragile now to leave the house by any means and mostly bedridden with few productive hours in a day.

What can you do? All you can. Original Faith is a labor of love, and I do my best by it. To do your love's best is to know that you’ve kept an agreement between you and God above or you and the stars above. However you think of it and whatever you call it, it's the same experience of personal right relationship with the infinitely greater. It brings the proverbial peace that passes understanding.

WOW: Paul, thank you for sharing your story of determination, faith, and love with us today. I'm sure there are many readers out there right now inspired by your interview, and many more that will be inspired by Original Faith.


Want to join Paul on his 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!

September 14, 2009 Monday
Paul will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Paul's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

September 15, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by Holistic Future today to discuss the connection between spirituality and nature with Paul Martin, author of Original Faith.
http://www.holisticfuture.com/

September 16, 2009 Wednesday
Paul stops by SuperEnlightenMe, a blog for spirituality and self-help, for a surprise guest post! Find out more about Paul and Original Faith today.
http://www.superenlightme.com/

September 18, 2009 Friday
Today Paul reveals how exercise can give do more than improve your physical health in Running as a Spiritual Exercise.
http://www.selfhelpdaily.com

September 21, 2009 Monday
Paul stops by our friend Jan Lundy's blog, Awake is Good, for an inspirational interview! I can't wait to see what these two will chat about. Join in on the discussion today.
http://www.awakeisgood.blogspot.com/

September 22, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by Diary of a Smart Chick today for a book review and interview with Paul Martin. Plus, enter to win a free copy of Original Faith!
http://diaryofasmartchick.com/

September 25, 2009 Friday
Samantha Clark, of Day By Day Writer, talks to Paul Martin about the challenges he faced while writing Original Faith.
http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/

September 29, 2009 Tuesday
Paul stops by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writers Inspired, for an exclusive interview on the topic of "What Your Life is Trying to Tell You." Stop by today for the lively discussion and enter to win a copy of Original Faith!
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

October 8, 2009 Thursday
Stop by Jerri Ann Reason's blog, Mom-E-Centric, today for a guest post by Paul Martin, author of Original Faith.
http://www.momecentric.com/

We may 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 Paul Martin'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 Paul's book Original Faith: What Your Life is Trying To Tell You.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

 

Creative Nonfiction Wants Your Animal Stories!

If you want to give a shout-out about your Sheltie, or your turtle turns somersaults, or if your Persian’s the coolest cat out there, then here’s the contest for you! The folks at Creative Nonfiction are on the lookout for some fab tales about animals. Check it out below.

Call for Submissions: Animals
Postmark deadline: November 13, 2009Link
Essays must be unpublished, 5,000 words or less, and clearly marked “Animals” on both the essay and the outside of the envelope. There is a $20 reading fee (or send a reading fee of $25 to include a 4-issue CNF subscription). Multiple entries are welcome ($20/essay).

The top winner will receive a $1000 prize for Best Essay, and the runner-up will receive a $500 prize.

Send your entry, along with a cover letter with complete contact information, SASE and payment to:

Creative Nonfiction
Attn: Animals
5501 Walnut Street, Suite 202
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Go here for more about the contest: http://www.creativenonfiction.org/thejournal/submittocnf.htm#Animals

And to find out more about the journal itself, glance at Creative Nonfiction: http://www.creativenonfiction.org.

Okay, animal lovers, get to writing! And, best of luck!

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Friday, September 11, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: My Ultimate Inspiration, Guest Post by Kim Smith

My Ultimate Inspiration

by Kim Smith

Like many writers, I often hit a stumbling block, or ten, when it comes to making time to sit down and write. Either I lose interest in my current project, or I am too busy or tired, or most likely, I just can't think of anything interesting to say.

However, there is something that happens, albeit infrequently, in my life that is guaranteed to spur me to write pages upon pages of inspired words, and this headiness usually lasts for a few months.

I'm talking about placing in, or glory be, actually winning a creative writing competition. In recent weeks I was lucky enough (dare I say talented enough?) to place second and fourth in two well-known provincial writing competitions. I think my screams of joy were probably heard well into the next town.

After those first dizzying days of recognition, I came to several realizations. One: I could finally admit to myself that I am a good writer (and oh, it's so difficult to say that) and that my skills as such are real, and not merely some weird cosmic fluke. Two: Winning makes me want to write MORE! Of this, I have no doubt.

All sorts of ideas and visions are jostling about in my head; I'm jotting down dozens of potential story plots. I've enrolled in an online writing class AND an online critique group. I've pulled every book on writing from the bookshelves, and am scouring the pages for information, tips, and advice, anything that will improve my writing skills. And I'm even, gasp, considering writing an anthology of short stories. To this end, I've taken the plunge and signed up for NaNoWriMo, something I would never have considered a few short months ago.

For me, this is nothing short of amazing. Only a few weeks ago I was suffering from the "I'm not very good. I'll never get anywhere with this," mentality, and had retreated to a large stack of novels and an equally large stash of chocolate. Little did I know that I was soon to receive those two fateful emails titled, "Congratulations!"

Such is the adrenalin rush of being recognized as a 'real' writer. It doesn't happen often, and even if it never happens again, I will still plug along and write my stories. But while the thrill lasts, I'm making the most of it, and perhaps I'll churn out a first-place story this time - you never know!


Kim lives in the country with one needy dog, three perfect cats, one long-suffering husband, and far too many chickens. She tries to write on a regular basis after a suffering a writer's block of thirty years.

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Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.


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Thursday, September 10, 2009

 

Learning about your character

Okay, what is it you REALLY want to know about your character(s)? Do you really know everything about him/her? You are writing a piece of fiction and you have already pegged a character's eye color and her eyebrow plucking habits. But where do you go from there? How do you share the inner thoughts of a character? Yes, she does have them. How do I know? Because you created her to be well-rounded, multi-dimensional...and someone to jump off the page.
So, I'm staring at the words describing my young adult character as he reacts to something. I'm excited. I feel I've captured the essence of something incredible. And then I shared the scene with someone, whose reaction deflated my character, right there on the page. I then felt the air go out of me, as well.
Disheartening? Yes, definitely. But it also gives me the opportunity to return to my character, breath some more life into his actions, rifle through his pockets, find out what he carries in his backpack, traipse through his room (as only a mother can) and learn every dimension of his life.
Will I need all of that? Probably not within the actual story, but I am convinced that the brand of jeans he wears will probably inform what kind of summer job he has or if he even needs a job. The reaction he has to extra homework will add shading and texture to his reaction to losing something dear to him.
The picture is painted of him, complete from his favorite chewing gum to his well-worn socks. I need those images of him to make the dimensions tangible to my reader so the next time I share the character's reaction to a monumental event, my reader is with me and can feel the anguish I know he feels, as he jumps off the page.

One fiction exercise I have loved giving and receiving is emptying out your character's pockets or purse. What is in there? Why? And if that seems too tiresome, you might do what I do: instead of writing, I clean out my own pockets and purse and ask why.... ;)

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at www.CoastalCarolinaMoms.com and www.TheWriteElizabeth.com, delving into creativity in everyday places. She is looking forward to introducing you to her well-drawn character someday soon.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

 

Because I Like Patterns In Numbers Too Much To Ignore

In honor of the date (9-9-09), I thought it would be interesting to have a blog post, where the only common themes are the lists are grouped in nine, and the common thread is writing/reading-based. Feel free to reciprocate in responses (and no, you don't have to use 9 items in your lists)!

Nine Websites I Use As A Writer
1) www.wow-womenonwriting.com - I learn a lot from all of you

2) www.dictionary.com - I am obsessed with looking into definitions of words.

3) www.blogger.com - Writing for the WOW blog has helped me become better with blog writing (so I hope).

4) www.altavista.com - Although I still use other web search engines and browsers, this one is still my first choice.

5) www.amazon.com - It helps me with being current on what books and printed material is on or will be coming on the market.

6) www.freerice.com - It helps build vocabulary and is a great diversion from writer's block.

7) websites for professional organizations - It is best to be thoroughly familiar with the publication guidelines, editors, and the interests of the audience one may be writing for.

8) local, national, international newspapers - Good writers learn from reading, from modeling, and from keeping the brain agile.

9) contest websites - Writers benefit from peer interaction and from continually pushing the envelope, whether it is by submitting more finished work or from trying out writing in a different genre.

Nine Job Markets/Industries For Writers To Try
1) copy editing
2) proofreading
3) technical writing
4) educational test writing
5) teaching
6) writing web and advertising material for business/university
7) speech writing
8) new media/communications
9) online educational design/writing

Nine Characteristics I Enjoy In A Writer or Book
1) humor
2) sarcasm
3) ability to leave a preposition at the end of a sentence once in a while
4) puns
5) alliteration
6) stream of consciousness
7) wit with titles
8) the ability to cram enough twists and turns in there for me to analyze with subsequent re-reading
9) having an eye for detail and an imagination which never fails to include the minutia

Nine Great Things About Writing
1) stress reliever (sometimes, at least!)
2) can have multiple projects going at once
3) cross-disciplinary
4) can do it on the fly and to the deadline or in stages
5) lets you learn constantly and in different ways (and gives you something to teach others)
6) can be short or long, formal or casual
7) could contain as many or as few big words, symbolic items, or allusions as one chooses
8) provides structure when and where there may be none
9) improves one's own editing skills

While I could keep going with lists (as it was so tempting to have a Nine Movies Involving Writers list in homage of Angela's post), I guess what I was getting at tonight was not just a fun montage of 9 items, but instead, at something a little deeper. No matter what you do, someone will enjoy elements of your writing. No matter what websites or reference you use, there may be others out there, so keep looking rather than stick just to the tried and true (and likewise share what you know with other writers too! ). No matter how much your latest rejection letter stung or how much of a hard time one could be having finding a job (trust me, I can relate), there are still other avenues to try and things to dabble in the interim. Lastly, there are reasons to continue to love and foster your writing, no matter how big or small, serious or humorous too. May you enjoy making your own writing/reading lists and once again, feel free to share them here. Happy 9-9-09 and best of luck to you!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

 

Celia Rivenbark, author of You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning, launches her blog tour


& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Celia Rivenbark is an award-winning newspaper columnist and freelance journalist whose work has been compared to a cross between Erma Bombeck and Hunter S. Thompson.

Celia has won national and state press awards and is the author of four humor collections: Bless Your Heart, Tramp (2000, reprinted in 2006), We're Just Like You, Only Prettier (2004), Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank (2006) and Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny With a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits.

Her latest collection, You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning, was released in September 2009 (St. Martin's Press).

Celia lives in Wilmington, NC, with her husband and daughter.

Find out more about Celia by visiting her website: www.CeliaRivenbark.com.

You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning
By Celia Rivenbark

So new it's got puppy breath, this fifth collection of funny stuff covers it all: From religion to recipes, from car-pooling to cat-whispering, Rivenbark dishes up hilarious new essays for anyone born south of somewhere. Whether she's trying to convince her mama to be her senior bingo "beard," flying on the fictional (or is it?) One Hot Mess Airlines, contemplating Action Figure Jesus or trying to convince Clay Aiken fans that he'll never marry their glandular daughters, Celia's having some fun now. Filled to the brim with belly laughs, Drink is topped off with a collection of genuine southern recipes to comfort your soul and cure your hangover. This one's for anyone who likes their humor shaken, stirred, or straight up!

Published by St. Martin's Press
Hardcover: 256 pages
ISBN# 031236301X

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Celia's book, You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning, 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 Jodi Webb

WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Celia. We're delighted to launch your blog tour for your book, You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning. I have so many questions I don't know where to start. So let's start at the end. On the last page of your latest book you thank your agent and describe your meeting as, "Lana-Turner-discovered-at-the-soda-fountain lucky that she found me." So tell us how you became the Lana Turner of the literary world.

Celia: When I said that, I meant that it was incredibly lucky that Jenny discovered my work precisely because I'd never worked at finding an agent. No conferences, no queries, just a really great stroke of luck that Jenny happened to see my first book on the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance(SIBA) best-seller list and decided to give me a call. When she told me she was Jill Conner Browne's agent, I nearly fainted. She asked me if I had another humor collection in the works and I said, "I do now." That night, I started working on We're Just Like You, Only Prettier, which she sold in about a week as I recall.

WOW: A week? That's amazing! Have you and your agent Jenny Bent worked together for all five of your books?

Celia: Jenny is no longer with Trident Media Group but has gone out on her own to establish The Bent Agency. She has represented me on all five books. My first book, Bless Your Heart, Tramp was published by a small local press that went out of business. After the rights reverted to me, Jenny re-sold that book to St. Martin's Press.

WOW: Tell us from your experience, what characteristics should we be looking for in an agent?

Celia: I have no experience with any agent other than Jenny so all I can say is that it's important to have complete and utter trust in your agent. If you feel squirrely, move on. She has guided me through the process and I've never once doubted her decision-making. I trust her completely. She's also a lot of fun to talk to and if she thinks an idea is crap, she'll tell me.

WOW: She sounds great! I hear you're packing your bags for a September book tour. Any advice for other authors on how to make a book tour a success?

Celia: My wonderful publicist John Karle at St. Martin's Press understands that it's important to squeeze as much media as you can out of every stop on the tour. Doing just a bookstore isn't any good. You need to hit a morning TV show, get a print interview or two, do some drive-time radio stations AND read and sign at the store to make it worthwhile. Even if they don't come to the signing, you're in their heads.

WOW: Tell us what you look forward to about book tours. And horror stories? You can change names to protect the innocent, if you like.

Celia: The best and most supportive book audiences I've found are in the stores in and around Lexington/Louisville. They really support authors in that part of the world. Ohio can be good, too. Charleston is a horrible town for a signing which kills me because it's my favorite city.

The worst place I ever signed books was following a speech I made for a rural electrical cooperative. I set up my little table and everyone came by and picked up a book and walked away! They thought it was just another giveaway along with the calendars and free pens. I had to chase 'em down and tell them the book was $15 or so. Every one of them dropped it like it was a snake. A bad, bad experience.

WOW: Oh my gosh! That's awful! But it makes for a great story. Real life seems to do that. Your humor columns and books include a lot about your family and neighbors--sometimes complimentary, sometimes not so much. Do you change names, details so people don't recognize themselves?

Celia: Yes, I change names, time frames and events as needed to prevent hurt feelings. A Southern lady never intentionally hurts someone else. Unless it's a Hollywood skank or creepy politician. Then, all bets are off.

WOW: (Laughs) What happens when the PTA moms recognize a unflattering portrait of themselves?

Celia: I've had a few run-ins with folks who thought I was talking about them when I wrote about hating those perfect attendance awards. I just said, "Oh! That! Yep, that was you!" I think if you're going to do it, you gotta own it. When all the kids get swine flu this year because Junior hasn't missed a day in eight years, I'm calling you out. Truly, most people are incredibly supportive and they do get the joke.

WOW: Your daughter is getting older now. Have you gotten to the point where she's started saying, "No mom, do not write about this!"

Celia: Not yet. There's a funny story in Drink about how she threw up during sex ed class in fifth grade. I asked her if I could write about it and she was fine with it. Sophie's pragmatic. She understands that the funnier Mommie is, the more books she sells and that just translates into more Twilight merchandise for her. Smart cookie, that one.

WOW: Tell us a little about what's coming up next for you.

Celia: I have a two-book contract (humor collections 6 and 7) with St. Martin's Press and, after that, who knows? I have a wonderful idea for a children's book in my head and I might try that just for a change of pace.

Want to join Celia 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!

September 8, 2009 Tuesday
Celia will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Celia's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

September 9, 2009 Wednesday
Celia stops by A Good Blog is Hard to Find to discuss: What's Easier--Making Your Reader Laugh or Cry? Stop by to share your opinion!
http://www.southernauthors.blogspot.com/

September 10, 2009 Thursday
Stop by Mom-e-Centric and have a blast with Celia, the Queen of Tell It Like It Is--with a dash of Southern charm tossed in. Today she shares what happens when your well of inspiration becomes a teenager.
http://www.momecentric.com/

September 14, 2009 Monday
Celia stops by Anne-Marie Nichols' blog, A Mama's Rant, for a great chat about the craziness we all call our lives. Stop by and join in on the lively conversation!
http://www.amamasrant.com/

September 15, 2009 Tuesday
David Letterman isn't the only one with a Top Ten List. Today, Celia stops by Beth Morrissey's blog, Hell Or High Water, to share her list of the Top Ten Things You Need to Be A Humor Writer.
http://hellorhighwaterwriter.blogspot.com/

September 17, 2009 Thursday
Stop by Donna's Book Pub and enjoy some Southern hospitality with Celia Rivenbark. And don't forget to enter for a free copy of her latest laugh-out-loud book: You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning.
http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com/

September 18, 2009 Friday
Stop by WordHustler today for a great interview with humor writer Celia Rivenbark. Find out more about humor writing and anything else fabulous interviewer Anne Walls can dish up!
http://wordhustlerink.wordhustler.com/

September 22, 2009 Tuesday
Need a good laugh today? First read the interview with humor writer Celia Rivenbark and then enter to win a copy of her book You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning.
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

October 1, 2009 Thursday
Stop by Blonde Mom Blog today for an interview with the irrepressible Celia Rivenbark. Also enter to win a copy of her book You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning.
http://blondemomblog.com/

October 7, 2009 Wednesday
Read a review of You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Mornin' today. Then come back tomorrow for a guest post by Celia and chance to win a copy!
http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/

October 8, 2009 Thursday
Celia tells readers about the joyful (and not so joyful) days of being a mom! And gives everyone a chance to win a copy of her hilarious record of her parenting. You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning book giveaway!
http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/

We may 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 Celia Rivenbark'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 Celia's laugh-out-loud book You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

 

Spring '09 First Place Contest Winner, Teresa Davis!

Teresa Davis, an accounting graduate from the University of Alaska, spent numerous years as a CPA until she turned her focus back to her first love: writing. Her work has appeared in a trade newsletter and several online magazines. She has also written teaching curricula for GoTeachIt.com. She now lives and writes in Germantown, TN. This was her first contest accomplishment, and she was honored to be among the finalists.

You can read Teresa's winning story, "The Girl," here.

Interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your first place win! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Teresa: Thank you! I believe entering contests is an invaluable writing tool. I especially love the WOW! Women On Writing contests because your authors tend to write the kind of stories I enjoy reading and writing. The savvy writer can experiment with new voices, story ideas, and even different genres, by entering contests. An important step is to be sure to go back and read the winning entries so you can compare and contrast you own entry to those. This is a fun way to critique your own writing because it allows you a more objective look at your story.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story?

Teresa: When a story idea comes to mind, I usually sit down and write about it immediately, but this time was different. Someone I knew was killed in a car accident eighteen years ago. Another driver reported seeing my friend just moments before the wreck. I have often wondered what that moment must have been like. It took eighteen years, but the basic idea finally found its way into a plot.

WOW: You did a great job with the story. Have you written other flash fiction? What type of writing do you most prefer?

Teresa: Yes, I have written other flash fiction, but this is the first of this type to be published. For as long as I can remember, I have preferred reading short stories over novels; therefore, when I began writing, I naturally gravitated toward smaller pieces such as articles, essays, poems, and short stories. I had never heard of the term flash fiction until a couple of years ago, at which time I promptly fell in love.

WOW: And now you've won first place in a flash fiction contest! According to your bio, you were a CPA for many years before focusing on your writing. How did you orchestrate that change, and how would you compare your life then and now?

Teresa: It sounds strange, doesn’t it, to go from rigid math rules—tax laws, no less—to something as free and creative as writing? I enjoyed both in college, but I already had accounting experience and felt I was better suited for that. Although I enjoyed my accounting years, the long hours left little time for anything else. In the midst of preparing tax return after tax return deep into the night, I found writing a story or two was helpful to clear my head. It didn’t take long to figure out that writing is much more fun! After the first few pieces sold, I was hooked. I eventually dissolved my tax practice and put my license in inactive status, and I’ve never been happier.

WOW: Good for you! We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Teresa: I write late at night when the world is dark and quiet. I know a lot of writers say that, but I guess it just works for some of us. There’s something about being surrounded by darkness that entices my ideas. I hide out for hours with my laptop in one of several favorite nooks in our house. Often, I become so engrossed in a project that I won’t make it to bed until three or four in the morning. I’m not sure why, but writing during daylight hours turns my voice flat. I also play the same song over and over on my iPod while I work. Hearing the same song repeatedly helps me stay grounded in the mood of a story.

WOW: It's always interesting to learn how others writers make it work. One final question, Teresa: If there was one bit of advice you could pass on to other aspiring writers, what would it be?

Teresa: There is not a universal formula for becoming an established writer. The only real “trick” is finding the right audience for each story, and that’s just a matter of research and persistence. Regardless of the number of rejections, keep honing your writing skills, rewrite constantly, seek out new markets, and never give up.

***

We'll continue getting to know the Top 10 contest winners every week on Tuesdays. Be sure to check back for more interviews!

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

 

Turn a "Fan"-tasy Into a Feature

by LuAnn Schindler

A funny thing happened on the way to the Husker season opener. (Actually, it happened on Friday afternoon; the game was Saturday evening.)

I landed a part-time sports writing job.

To make a long story semi-short, earlier this year I contacted a sports-writing company about a writing position. I didn't get it, but I still registered with their online site. Although I had several story ideas to share, I pushed them to the back of my mind, tackling other pressing projects. Then, I received the editor's email, stating they'd like a story.

Can you turn a "fan"-atic's "fan"-tasy into a feature? I believe so. Most people have something they are passionate about; I happen to enjoy sports, primarily anything related to my home state Huskers. (It also helps that we have season tickets. Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

I wrote an opinion piece about the season opener and grading different aspects of the game and certain player positions. I also created a slide show about the top five pre-game events in the stadium.

If you can analyze, offer an opinion, or formulate a feature, you have the opportunity to parlay being a fan into a hard sale. And if you can offer a multimedia package - combine text with pictures and / or video - you'll increase your bottom line.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

 

Movies for Writers: State of Play

I just finished watching State of Play (2009) on DVD and found it to be an interesting study on the craft of newspaper journalism. Yes, the movie is "Big Hollywood" and full of the usual kick-butt action scenes you'd expect from screenwriter Tony Gilroy, who is best known for the Borne movies, but it goes much deeper than the typical crime and suspense thriller.

What impressed me most about the movie was the timeliness of the topics. The film touched on the dying newspaper industry and how many of them are turning to tabloid (gossip-style) reporting to sell paper. It also shed light on how online media and blogs are changing the industry. And yet another strong theme of the film was the tight relationship between politicians and the media, and the ability to slant and even dilute stories.

The editor of The Washington Post, R.B. Brenner, consulted for the film and added to its authenticity. The director, Kevin Macdonald, who has a background in documentaries, contracted Brenner to find out all the details of journalism. His questions included what journalists wear and what types of pens they use! Brenner even led a "boot camp" for extras, teaching them how to conduct phone interviews and type on their computers. The star actors who worked for the paper in the film--Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, and Helen Mirren--grilled Brenner on the details and ethics of reporting.

I'm not going to tell you the detailed plot or give away any spoilers--you can watch it or read the description on Amazon. But I will say that Russell Crowe does an excellent job as a seasoned old-school D.C. reporter, Rachel McAdams (love her!) plays the up-and-coming blogger for the paper, and Helen Mirren is great as the hard-nosed editor who is trying to keep her paper afloat after a recent takeover by a media conglomerate.

If you're a writer and are curious about how reporters get their scoops, this film is a good model. It shows the steps reporters take to research a story, how they develop their content, follow leads, verify information, and obtain permission from sources. Of course, not all scoops are this big, but it's a movie, after all.

Now, I want to know: What are some of your favorite movies for writers?

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Friday, September 04, 2009

 

Promote Like a Pro with Linda Radke

Since 1985, veteran publisher Linda F. Radke, owner of Five Star Publications, has been ahead of the game--self-publishing before it was commonplace, partnership publishing before the rest of the world even knew what it was and producing award-winning traditionally and non-traditionally published fiction and nonfiction manuscripts for adults and children.

Radke's odyssey to becoming one of the nation's leading consultants in the areas of book production, marketing, publicity and distribution began simply enough with the desire to print a few books to complement the household employment agency she owned. For Radke, who, on more than one occasion, has been teased about having "printer's ink in her veins," the experience of publishing the books was exhilarating, prompting her to change careers and launch Five Star Publications without looking back.

Eventually, Radke added services and acted as a publishing consultant for other self-publishers, ventured into traditional publishing and pioneered partnership publishing to allow her to publish more authors and make them a more integral part of the creative process of publishing.

Linda is also the award-winning author of The Economical Guide to Self-Publishing: How to Produce and Market Your Book on a Budget (a Writer's Digest Book Club selection) and Promote Like a Pro: Small Budget, Big Show (a Doubleday Executive Program Book Club featured alternative selection). She is a founding member of the Arizona Book Publishing Association and was named Book Marketer of the Year by Book Publicists of Southern California.

We were lucky enough to chat with Linda today about self-promotion for authors! Grab a comfy chair and enjoy tips from a pro.

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Your book is called Promote Like a Pro: Small Budget, Big Show. How much should authors be planning to spend on publicity?

Linda: To me the question is not so much about budget, but about how much time the author is willing to devote to getting the job done. Are they willing to devote 15 hours a week to publicity and marketing for the first six months the book is out? If not, they can hire a firm like Five Star Publications to help market and promote the book with two options. The first option is custom publicity that is billed out between $3000 and $4000 per month. We also offer an option for putting together a do-it-yourself kit for a one time fee of $5000. With this option, we create a media kit, a detailed national media database and a website.

They might also want to consider hiring an individual person to help. They may pay anywhere from $25-$75 per hour, but make sure the person being hired has experience in book marketing and publicity. Ask for a few references and check with the local BBB. Be concerned about quality, timing and control and ask for monthly detailed progress reports. Also make sure they know all expenses involved - it's not uncommon to pay for packaging supplies, shipping charges, etc.

WOW: Those are helpful tips. It's great to know what to look for. So, what promotional tool does every author need no matter what their budget?

Linda: The most important promotional tools would be to have a professionally designed website, and next, a media coach.

WOW: I agree, every author should have a professionally designed website. Okay, here's my stupid question of the day but...what is the purpose of publicity? I organize WOW! Blog Tours and most authors want to know "How many books will I sell on this tour?" Is every publicity tool about selling books?

Linda: That is actually a very good question. The purpose of publicity is to gain visibility and credibility. Selling books shouldn't be an expectation, but a bonus. (Some books have a better chance of selling due to publicity, such as cookbooks.) Garnering publicity gives you the tools for marketing your books. Publicity is about visibility, marketing is about sales.

WOW: I'll have to share your quote: "Publicity is about visibility, marketing is about sales." Great advice! Tell us about submitting books for awards, something I never thought of as publicity. Does winning or even being a finalist affect book sales? Where do we find contests? Is it expensive to get your book in the running for awards?

Linda: I would utilize Literary Market Place to research organizations that sponsor book awards. It is not uncommon to pay up to $65 for an entry fee. A red flag should go up if you're asked to pay too much beyond that.

Does winning affect sales? It goes back to being a marketing tool - it's impressive and if your book is being considered for distribution against another book, you might be chosen over the other by the simple fact that your book has won an award. However, you can't always take an award to the bank.

WOW: True, but I'm sure winning an award like that would feel fantastic! Authors might as well try. And like you said, it's impressive. Now, so often, when we think book publicity we think book signings, book reviews, interviews...tell us about a few other overlooked publicity tools that, like book awards, might not immediately pop into our heads when we think publicity.

Linda: Speaking engagements are one of the most overlooked opportunities. What a perfect spot for back-of-the-room sales! Also, writing articles about your subject matter and promoting your book on social networking sites are often overlooked. Social networking sites are a newer tool, but don't get caught up in spending all your time on them.

WOW: I hear that same comment from many authors. It seems that today publicity and marketing are so often the author's responsibility, both with traditional and self publishing. So authors are out there doing a job with no experience. Help us amateurs! What gives an author the appearance of having a well-oiled publicity plan even if it's just the author and a computer file labeled "PR"? What screams "unprofessional" to the PR representatives, journalists, etc. that authors contact?

Linda: They need to make sure they have a newsworthy angle they're pitching. Reporters are not going to write about your book just because you think they should. The book has to relate to current events, especially if it's fiction.

The first thing that screams unprofessional is not having a professionally designed book cover. Also, sending the media to a site that's not professionally designed with the information presented in a boring format is another clue. And let's not forget typos. :)

WOW: Oh yes, the dreaded typos. So what's the most important lesson in Promote Like a Pro: Small Budget, Big Show?

Linda: Do it right or don't do it at all. You have one chance at a first impression. It's like interviewing for a job - you want to be at your best.

WOW: Tell us a little bit about the services you offer at Five Star Publications.

Linda: Whether you're just getting started or are already deeply immersed in your writing project, Five Star Publications is available to help. Ironically, with certain genres the best time to begin developing your publishing and marketing plans are during the writing process so you can "write to sell." Tap into years of experience and award-winning techniques. We can help you avoid the inevitable pitfalls that frustrate or derail the efforts of even the most experienced writers.

We offer consulting in book production, marketing, publicity, and distribution. (One important thing to keep in mind is that even the greatest publicity is a waste money if you don't have a national distribution network in place.)

Learn more by visiting www.FiveStarPublications.com, www.AuthorsandExperts.com and www.SchoolBookings.com

WOW: Thank you, Linda, for taking time to chat with us today! Your tips were very helpful to our authors and aspiring authors. I'm sure they'll want to learn more by visiting your site and seeing what you have to offer. :)

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

 

Improve Your Home Office Week

By Jill Earl

I found out on AwarenessDates.com that September 8-12, has been designated ‘Improve Your Home Office Week’. I just happen to be in the middle of a major purge of my palace right now so I can get my own home office set up, so the timing couldn’t be more---uh, timely.

Having an organized place to work on one’s assignments and projects makes for a more effective writer. Excavating through mounds of paperwork wastes time and energy. The last thing you need is for a part of your project to turn up missing because you can’t find anything in the piles.
Especially if there’s a deadline looming. Clear desk, clear mind.

So this reformed packrat is kicking the clutter to the curb and perusing magazines and sites for ideas to improve her future home office. I already have a nice computer cabinet ready to be assembled, perfect for my laptop. Back issues of writing magazines and journals have found their way to new files. I’m eager to see the results of this ‘room of my own’.

Although I didn’t find more about this observance, I did come across an amusing post by Tara Landry on the InsideMyFax.com blog. Included are tips to help your own workspace along.

Well, that’s what the upcoming week looks like for me.

Care to share any home office improvement tips you may have?

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

 

Fantastic Photos: Use Pictures to Enhance Your Blog Part I


People like images, white space, and easy-to-read fonts when they are reading blogs and websites. A full page of small, cursive-type text with one or two paragraph breaks and no photos may not be read even if it contains the secret to becoming a millionaire. A question I often hear bloggers and writers ask is, "Where do you find photos that are not copyrighted?"

The source I use the most often on my blog and when I write for Demand Studios and Bright Hub is Flickr. It is super easy to get a free account on Flickr and to find photos on any topic. People upload their photos into different levels of copyright protection. I mostly use Creative Commons at the lowest level. This means that I can download other people's photos, give them credit on my blog (by putting their user name and http://www.flickr.com/), and use their photo for free. Currently, there are over 15 million photos in this lowest, easiest to use level of Flickr Creative Commons photos.
You can also find over 5 million photos in the next level of Creative Commons. This is where you must give the photographer credit for the photo, and you can not change the image in anyway through Photoshop or some other means. So, as of now (and the number is always increasing), there are over 20 million photos at your disposal for free to use on your blog or website.

When I want a photo, I just do a search in the Creative Commons photos with keywords. For example, on my post about how I was going to change the format of my blog, "Read These Books and Use Them," I wanted a picture about change. So, I typed in change as my keyword. Believe it or not, I got this great photo that depicted exactly what I wanted to depict.
Besides Flickr, you can also use Photobucket, which was recommended to me by Annette Fix, author of The Break-Up Diet. I haven't used this photoshare site personally, but Annette uses it for her blogs!

Stay tuned for some more tips on putting photos on your blogs and websites when I post again for The Muffin with part two of "Fantastic Photos."
Until then,

Margo Dill



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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

 

Writing for the Beginners!

As I was sitting here pondering the different techniques and websites that I use to help me out with my own writing techniques, I got to thinking about one of the sites that I use to perfect my sentence structure. Well, mostly because of all the bad grammar that is used on that particular site makes me strive to help others and hopefully help them to realize they can communicate through their writing better. So I was hoping.

I am not sure how many of you have heard of the "paying" social sites, but for many they have become a big part of their lives and people feel it is a good way to bring in a little income into their pockets.

Many people have the perception that they can make a good living by writing for these sites. Sorry to say, they can't. But for writing practice it is an excellent way for the newbie writer to get their feet wet. Okay, us old folks as well. One site that is legitimate and has a pretty good setup is http://www.mylot.com. I did a ton of research on many other social sites. I made sure I went to whois.net and checked them out; I also went to the BBB, scam sites, etc. So, before I signed up, I did the research. Out of so many that I have seen, this one, well, let's just say, you be the judge.

One of the neat uses of this site is some of the writing ideas you can get while using it. You can incorporate them with your own writing practices to help keep you from facing a writing block. Which, as you know, can be the biggest pain in the butt. I have to admit, in the past year or so, I have faced many blocks and keep trying to push past them. One way to help me stay unblocked is finding new outlets to practice my writing. It is so funny how I came up with the idea to start using this particular social site.

One day, I was working on an article and, all of the sudden, my brain just froze on the topic; I didn't know which way to go. I got frustrated! Why, at that particular time, did my mind just suddenly stop working on the subject matter? The article was about light bulbs and the cost effectiveness of them. Yes, a boring subject, but research on the necessary information was a snap. I knew the information, I just couldn't communicate it.

So I got up and walked away, thinking that it would help get the wheels to turn once again. I am sure many of you have done that as well, walked away to relieve the mind pressure. Well, it didn't work. I became more frustrated. Finally, I saved the sentence that I had: "A light bulb, one of the most helpful devices ever to be created for the night owls." (Pathetic, I know.)

Then I decided I needed to socialize a bit. Everyone, of course, was on Facebook or Myspace, but I wanted to see what other ones were out there, maybe special ones for writers. So I started to explore the wonderful world wide web. I found an article that was actually published on Mylot. It was interesting, so I wandered to the actual site and began checking it out. I rolled my eyes at how poorly written many discussions were and began thinking, these people need help! So the wheels in my feeble brain began to turn. You know, Carrie, this is the perfect place to experiment and practice. Get some ideas for your stories and article, stupid!

I laughed at myself. Then decided, what the heck. Give it a shot. So I signed up. You know, I have actually ran into other writers that have done just the same, signed up for a site to use for writing practice or get other writing ideas. One writer expressed that one of the best book ideas came to him on a social site. He even got the book published! What a relief it was to know I wasn't the only crazy writer to use this idea. I began laughing and crying at the same time.

One thing I want to stress: practice makes improvement in anything that we do, even cleaning the floors, finding the right cleaners, the proper mop or sponge, if you believe in crawling on your knees to get that perfect shine. You have to practice over and over again. The more you do, the better you become.

Definition from Webster: Perfect- adjective- 1. Complete in all respects- flawless. 2. excellent as in skill or quality. 3. Completely accurate.

Let's admit it, nothing is perfect. There are flaws everywhere, but if we improve upon our skills and knowledge we can only make it better!

So, for those of you who aren't sure how to get started in writing, as many of us suggest, take baby steps. Start off with little things like practicing, getting educated through many great schools etc., and press on. You will strive and reach your dream.

I admit, my dream is still miles away, and that dream is to become a published children's author, walk into a library or bookstore, and see a child sitting on the floor curled up enjoying my book. That would be the ultimate dream come true for me.

I hope that each of you can reach your writing dreams and goals!

Happy writing!