Monday, March 08, 2010

 

Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D., author of The Power of Memoir, launches her blog tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D. is the president of the National Association of Memoir Writers and the author of the prize-winning memoir Don't Call Me Mother: Breaking the Chain of Mother Daughter Abandonment. Her new book The Power of Memoir: How to Write Your Healing Story was released in January 2010 through Jossey Bass publishers.

Linda has been a therapist in Berkeley for the last thirty years, and received her MFA at Mills College.

Through her workshops, online coaching, and speaking engagements, Linda integrates the principles of healing and creativity in presenting the powerful healing process of writing true stories. Her first book, Becoming Whole: Writing Your Healing Story, was used as a text by therapists, ministers, and writing coaches, and was a finalist in ForeWord magazine's 2008 Book of the Year Award. Linda's prize-winning nonfiction and poetry has been published in various literary journals. Her novel excerpt, Secret Music, a novel about the Kindertransport, music, and redemption was a finalist in the San Francisco Writing Conference contest.

Linda is past-president of The California Writers Club, Marin branch, and former vice-president of the Women's National Book Association, and has served on the board of Story Circle Network.

Find out more about Linda by visiting her websites:
Website: www.thepowerofmemoir.com
Blog: www.lindajoymyersphd.com

The Power of Memoir: Writing Your Healing Story
By Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D.

The Power of Memoir is a groundbreaking book that presents an innovative step-by-step program using memoir writing on the journey of emotional and physical healing. By drawing on the eight steps outlined in The Power of Memoir, you'll learn how to choose the significant milestones in your life and weave together your personal story. You'll discover how writing your truths and shaping your narrative propel you toward a life-changing transformation. The Power of Memoir offers the tools you need to heal the pain of the past and create a better present and a brighter future.

Writing Reference
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Jossey-Bass (January 2010)
ISBN: 0470508361

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Linda Joy Myers's book The Power of Memoir 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.

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: What led to your work doing memoir writing workshops and eventually The Power of Memoir?

LINDA: I came upon memoir writing from the desperate urge over many years to write about my childhood, to try to express the confusion that was going on inside me. I also wanted to write about those I loved and those who saved me, so it was a way to honor and thank them and to appreciate them. So yes, my work to teach about memoir writing came first through writing to heal—though that was not the phrase used at the time, nor had any research yet been done on that subject.

The impetus to write my first book on healing, and then ultimately The Power of Memoir came from the amazing research first published in 1999 in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr. James Pennebaker and others that writing helped to heal physical ailments such as arthritis and asthma. Though I sensed that writing was helpful, and I and many of my friends had been journaling for years, to discover that in fact writing was healing was very exciting. I’d always wanted to find a way to integrate therapy with writing. I read all of Dr. Pennebaker’s articles and talked to him in person as I was working on my first book.

For a few years, I trained therapists in using writing to work with clients, and in those workshops, I discovered how quickly “non-writers” produced interesting and meaningful stories. It became clear that anyone could find the stories within if they were given the time and encouragement. I became quite passionate about spreading the word about writing. I saw that anyone could learn to do it if they wished, and that it was a powerful tool for change and transformation.

WOW: How did you come to write your own memoir Don't Call Me Mother?

LINDA: I completely backed into writing a memoir. The thought of writing a book was so terrifying, I’d stop writing when I thought of it! For so long I struggled with the form all the stories I had might take. I had stories from the 19th century from my great-grandmother, I knew my grandmother’s stories and some of my mother’s story. I was interested in telling their stories, until one day a teacher told me that I should be writing my story. I nearly fainted. What—expose myself like that? I’d been taught that children should be seen and not heard, and not to air the family laundry—or else!

So it was a long struggle to find myself and give myself permission to write my own story. Also I didn't really know how to write! I began with painting my story, then moved into poetry, then into prose. I realized that the deeper story was falling through the cracks of the other art forms, and that prose would tighten the weave. Writing leads to more writing, and the more we write, the more we learn. Luckily I have always been an avid reader, with stacks of books all around me and reading more than one at a time, so I knew what good writing was like. But each of us has our own voice, and we need to find that.

The way I finally wrote my book was to write each individual vignette and not worry about a book or any order, and after a while I realized I might be writing a book, but still it took a long time for me to own that desire. My inner critic, remember? But when I turned my back on the project, I discovered that it chased me, wouldn’t leave me alone, haunted me. Finally I faced the demands the book was making on me, and got brave enough to finish it.

WOW: I've written many personal essays, snapshots of my life, but never really considered a memoir simply because my life feels...well, boring and predictable. Is every life memoir worthy?

LINDA: A lot of people ask that question, but often it’s in the form of: “Gee, I don’t really have a story worth telling.” Then they launch into the adventures they’ve had, the life challenges they’ve overcome—births, deaths, natural disasters. Spiritual learning, love, the joy of children, pets, and gardens. The thing is—everyone’s life is interesting if we look through the lens of the turning point moments, the moments of transition and transformation. People read memoirs to find out about how other people lived; we are all looking for guidance from others on life’s journey–how did they solve life’s problems, and how are they doing now? Can we overcome some of the challenges we face, and how? A memoir is a grass-roots sharing of life as we have lived it.

WOW: How do we decide what facet of our life experience to focus on in a memoir?

LINDA: Start with listing the 5-10 significant turning points in your life, and write about them. See where that takes you. Most of us will learn something from doing that exercise, getting more insights about our lives, and surprising us perhaps about how interesting our lives have been after all.

WOW: Although we think of memoir as being our life stories, the fact is other people get dragged in to the tale. How do we balance the need to tell our story with the needs of our memoir's co-stars to NOT tell their story?

LINDA: Most memoirists struggle with the issue of revealing secrets when they are searching how to tell their own powerful, and often shameful, truths. Secrets maintain a great power over us, and we are diminished by them. We become co-conspirators in a way to the family dynamics that we actually don’t agree with and want to break away from. So we get caught in a conflict—to speak or not to speak. To remain closed and complicit, or open up and take the risk of losing friends and family, of being ousted from the family, or shamed once again into submission.

I tell all my students to be open to writing two versions of the story: first, write for yourself, to clear out your emotional closet, to sort the events that are jumbled up in your mind. Research has shown that this kind of writing is powerful and creates changes in the brain. In other words: it’s healing.

Write your whole first draft in silence, in secret, so that you can finally hear your own voice. Don’t tell anyone you are writing it, and only share it with your supportive writing group or your therapist. Watch out even for friends, because sometimes they can misunderstand what you are doing. Do not think about publication, as it is way too soon for that.

When you have finished, and know what your unvarnished and unedited story is, then you can decide what you want to do with it. You might not want to share it with anyone. Or you might decide to rewrite it so that it can face the world, and so can you.

If you want to publish it, you do have to consider the rights and feelings of others—though this is an ethical decision that everyone has to make on the basis of their own integrity. Most authors “vet” the book with those who appear in it, and nearly everyone changes the names of the guilty or innocent.

Liable and slander are legal issues that I can’t address here, but a literary attorney can answer questions like that if you feel that someone will get litigious with you. After all, anyone who knows you will know who the people are that you’re writing about. If you really want to write about things that are controversial, disguise everything about the situation, and proceed carefully into fiction. I understand that even though Saul Bellow changed names in his fiction, he was writing, and getting even with, people that everyone knew. He wanted revenge and got it. I don’t know the cost to him or the degree of satisfaction he got from that.

You have to decide the reasons for what you include in the book, and ask: is this necessary to my story? How can I write it so it’s true and not cruel or demeaning? And by the time it’s ready to be published, have you worked out the anger and other negative feelings? If not, write another draft. Be patient. Writing a memoir is a long process of writing through layers. The story will tell you when it’s done.

WOW: Great advice! So, what are you working on now?

LINDA: My next project is to write a book to help young adults write their stories. People do not need to be “older” in order to write and share their stories. Young people are writing and expressing themselves in amazing and refreshing ways these days. But still they have to deal with the same family issues of guilt, shame, and silence that adults struggle with. So I hope that my book can help free them from fear and silence and help to offer a way to heal and help them move forward in their lives in a powerful way.

WOW: Thank you so much, Linda, for taking the time to chat with us today about memoir writing. You shared some wonderful tips with our readers!


Want to join Linda 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!

March 8, 2010 Monday
Linda will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Linda's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

March 9, 2010 Tuesday
In today's interview, Mary Jo Campbell is asking Linda Joy Myers everything we've been wondering about memoir writing. You can also enter to win a copy of The Power of Memoir, Linda's inspirational guide to memoir writing.
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

March 10, 2010 Wednesday
Linda stops by Meryl's Notes today to share some more tips on memoir writing. If you want to pen your own history, stop by and get some pointers from a pro!
http://www.meryl.net/section/blog/

March 12, 2010 Friday
There is no happiness without some sadness. No sadness without some happiness. And when you're writing for the YA market you often have both emotions in the same scene! Linda Joy Myers, author of The Power of Memoir, discusses the importance of balancing dark and light stories and emotions.
http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/ 

March 15, 2010 Monday
Linda Joy Myers visits Pick the Brain, a wonderful site dedicated to self improvement with a focus on personal productivity, motivation, and self education.
http://www.pickthebrain.com/

March 16, 2010 Tuesday
Linda stops by Cathy C.'s Hall of Fame to share her thoughts on accidental enlightenment. You'll also have the opportunity to win a copy of her book The Power of Memoir!
http://www.cathychall.blogspot.com/

March 16, 2010 Tuesday
Stop by today for C. Hope Clark's review of The Power of Memoir and come back tomorrow for a guest post from author Linda Joy Myers.
http://www.hopeclark.blogspot.com/

March 17, 2010 Wednesday
Are you dreading the annual 4th of July picnic already? And not because you hate aunt Mary's potato salad? Don't miss Linda Joy Myers' post "How to Write a Memoir and Still Go Home for the Holidays" at C. Hope Clark's blog today!
http://www.hopeclark.blogspot.com/

March 19, 2010 Friday
Stop by Words By Webb for a review of Linda Joy Myers' The Power of Memoir and a chance to ask her a few questions about memoir writing.
http://jodiwebb.com/

March 23, 2010 Tuesday
Stop by Shai Coggins' blog for a review of The Power of Memoir and an interview with the author Linda Joy Myers!
http://www.shaicoggins.com/

March 24, 2010 Wednesday
Linda Joy Myers stops by 100 Memoirs to tell writers how to write your memoir and still go home for the holidays.
http://www.100memoirs.com/

March 25, 2010 Thursday
Linda Joy Myers is back at 100 Memoirs, but this time Shirley Showalter interviews Linda about the role of friends and family members in a writer's memoir. You can also enter to win a copy of Linda's book The Power of Memoir!
http://www.100memoirs.com/

March 29, 2010 Monday
Linda Joy Myers will be visiting Jerry Waxler at the Memory Writers Network today. I can't wait to see what these two memoirists come up with!
http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/

April 1, 2010 Monday
Laura Cross is putting memoir writer Linda Joy Myers in the hot seat with her weekly feature, "Five Questions with..." You can also enter to win a copy of The Power of Memoir!
http://www.nonfictionink.com/

April 2, 2010 Tuesday
Today Jerry Waxler will be reviewing The Power of Memoir by Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D. at the Memory Writers Network. His reviews are great, so be sure to stop by.
http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/

We have more dates to come! To view all of our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar HERE.


Get involved!

If you have a blog or website and would like to host Linda Joy Myers or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

And be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Linda Joy Myers's book The Power of Memoir! And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!

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Monday, March 01, 2010

 

Bonnie Hearn Hill, YA author of Aries Rising, launches her blog tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Bonnie Hearn Hill worked as a newspaper editor for 22 years, a job that, along with her natural nosiness, increased her interest in contemporary culture. Prior to her new Star Crossed series from Running Press/Perseus Books, she wrote six thrillers for MIRA Books, as well as numerous short stories, nonfiction books and articles.

An interest in astrology along with her close friendship with Cosmo Magazine Astrologer Hazel Dixon-Cooper inspired the Star Crossed series: Aries Rising, Taurus Eyes, and Gemini Night.

A national conference speaker, Bonnie founded The Tuesdays, a bonded and successful writing workshop in Fresno, California, and she also teaches an occasional online class. On Fridays she meets with her private critique group (humorous astrology author Hazel Dixon-Cooper, prescriptive nonfiction writer Dennis C. Lewis, mystery novelist Sheree Petree, and musician/thriller novelist Christopher Allen Poe). What happens in those groups ranges from spontaneous applause to "getting filleted," as Bonnie's students and colleagues call it.

You can find out more about Bonnie by visiting her websites:
Bonnie's website www.BonnieHearnHill.com
Facebook Fan Page www.facebook.com/StarCrossedseries

Aries Rising
By Bonnie Hearn Hill

Aquarius Logan McRae is a high school sophomore in Terra Bella Beach, CA and has been working all semester to impress her teachers in order to get into the summer writing camp she desperately wants to attend. But when this ordinary girl finds an extraordinary book, Fearless Astrology, her life is changed forever. Applying what she's learned about the zodiac, she lands her own column in the school paper and a date with the hottest guy in school!

But when Logan threatens to catch the members of a secret society called The Gears, who have been vandalizing school property by reading the stars, she quickly learns that she is in over her head. Will Logan be able to catch The Gears, save her love life, keep her newspaper column, and get into the writing camp of her dreams all through the use of astrology?

Genre: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Running Press Kids (March 2010)
ISBN#: 0762436700

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Bonnie Hearn Hill's novel Aries Rising 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.

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: I always like to know which came first, the chicken or the egg. So, how did it work with you: did you decide to write a YA novel and come up with the astrology idea, or did you want to do an astrology related book and then realize it would be perfect as a YA novel?

Bonnie: The astrology came first. One of the members of my critique group is humorous astrology writer Hazel Dixon-Cooper. At one of our group sessions, we were playing around with astrological signs, and I got an idea for a title. As I started playing the what-if game, I knew the book was young adult. Then I asked my agent if she thought I could do that, and she sent me an assortment of YA books she has represented. I was hooked.

WOW: At what point did you decide your book about the discovery of a magical astrology book could become a great series?

Bonnie: The scope of astrology just naturally suggests a series, or maybe it's just the way I think. This nasty little thing happens to me when I'm writing. The book fairy comes and whispers an idea for the next book while I'm still working on the first. I knew that I wanted to do a second one with a ghost in it. Then my publisher offered me a three-book deal, and the book fairy came calling again.

WOW: Ah, the three-book deal. Tell us how you managed to have three books coming out in one year. We're all green with envy!

Bonnie: And I am green from lack of sleep. ;) Actually, it wasn't as crazy as it sounds.

I wrote Aries Rising first. Because I hadn't written YA before, I had to finish it. My critique group read it, and my agent edited it--and I guess it was probably eight or nine months before we submitted the manuscript. It sold in spring of 2008, and I wrote the other two after that.

WOW: Can you tell us a little about the Fridays? Which incidentally sounds like a great name for a 1950's musical group!

Bonnie: I absolutely love the Fridays. I should have formed them years ago, but none of us was ready. You can see photos of a typical session on my website. In 1990, I began teaching a group that became known as the Tuesday Night Writers, and then just the Tuesdays. We had enormous success in any number of genres, and many of the group's members were published.

In late 2006, I realized that some of my students were excellent critics, so I made a deal with four of them. Meet at my house every Friday morning for breakfast. We each get 20 minutes to read or plot or whatever we want. It's a pretty basic concept, and what happens around my table is so exciting it's almost scary. One member, Christopher Allen Poe, drives three hours each way (from Sacramento) to attend. We are very committed, very intense, and we laugh a lot too. One of our members had a bad experience with an agent last year. We were the only ones who really understood what the writer was feeling, and that person's 20 minutes were pretty much therapy. (That works, too. One of our members is a psychologist.) Ultimately, in addition to being each other's ultimate support group, we are professional and focused on publication. Although we do eat chocolate chip cookies and drink a lot of coffee, we don't sit around talking about our kids or spouses. We talk about the market, we talk about books we are reading, and we talk about how we can all improve our manuscripts.

WOW: Your group sounds wonderful! Do you feel every writer should belong to a critique group?

Bonnie: Only if you can create a great one. What can critique groups do for writers? I probably shouldn't say this in public, but the wrong critique group can do a lot of damage. I was lucky because I was able to handpick mine, and I already loved them as people. When I teach writing, I always encourage my students to go off and form their own groups. If I were looking for a critique group and I wasn't teaching a class, I would enroll in one and try to connect with other students. Two of my former students, a very talented man and woman (both Libras, by the way) met in my class and have been working together for several years. He moved to San Francisco, but they are still close and still read for each other.

WOW: I'm a Libra, too. I think we're supposed to be very loyal. Your group writes in many different areas--nonfiction, mystery, YA, humor. I would have thought a group that all writes in the same genre would be better able to evaluate each other's writing. Does having writers from different genres make the group more lively?

Bonnie: That's my Gemini influence, no doubt. I've written short fiction, articles, essays, columns, and I have six thriller novels published by MIRA. My original class was Writing for Publication, and I got all types of people--all ages, all interests, as many men as women, which I really like. For example, Jillian Ward, my youngest student (who just won first place in YA fiction in the San Francisco Writers' Conference contest), is 19, and my oldest, Bob Brown a cowboy poet, is 77.

We have a published cowboy poet, an essayist who published a back-of-the-book piece in Woman's Day, a newspaper columnist, a magazine columnist, a mystery writer, Mary Witte, the author of Redneck Haiku, and of course, Hazel Dixon-Cooper. Hazel, who is the funniest human I know, was a hospital secretary when she came to my group, and she received a six-figure deal for her first two humorous astrology books. I received my three-book thriller deal almost exactly a year later. Pretty amazing for two best friends in a writing group in Fresno, California.

WOW: That is amazing! Can you give our readers a few tips on how to start their own critique group?

Bonnie: Again, I would hang out with writers. Take a class, attend readings and literary events. I don't think you need to get "clubbed," as many people who join local writing groups get involved with running the group instead of writing. Just get to know other people in your community--or online--who are trying to accomplish what you are. Don't trust just anyone with your precious work. Intelligent feedback should improve your writing, not make you feel like slashing your wrists.

WOW: Great advice! So, tell us, what are you working on next?

Bonnie: I just turned in the galleys for Gemini Night, and yes, I am writing. As I said, I'm a Gemini. I always have something on the back burner.

WOW: Well, we can't wait to see what's on your back burner. With you, we never know what's simmering back there! But I'm sure it's fantastic. :)

Want to join Bonnie 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!

March 1, 2010 Monday
Bonnie will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Bonnie's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

March 2, 2010 Tuesday
Bonnie will be contributing to the "Because of a Book" feature at Write for a Reader. You can also enter to win a copy of her YA novel, Aries Rising!
http://www.writeforareader.blogspot.com/

March 3, 2010 Wednesday
How can you find time to write when your life is packed with a 9-to-5 job, family, and a few hours of sleep each night? Novelist and former newspaper editor Bonnie Hearn Hill shares her Five Tips for Finding Time to Write When You Have a Full Time Job. Not to miss!
http://hellorhighwaterwriter.blogspot.com/

March 5, 2010 Friday
Bonnie Hearn Hill will be stopping by Mom-e-Centric to introduce her new YA series Star Crossed. Readers can also win a copy of the first book in the series, Aries Rising!
http://www.momecentric.com/

March 9, 2010 Tuesday
Just can't seem to talk to your teen? Margo Dill and Bonnie Hearn Hill, author of the YA Star Crossed series, discuss how books can help you communicate with the teens in your life. Don't forget to enter to win Hill's novel Aries Rising. Maybe it will give you and your teen something to talk about!
http://www.margodill.com/blog/

March 12, 2010 Friday
Bonnie Hearn Hill will be stopping by BookPage.com's The Book Case to explain how she used astrology to help create the characters in her new YA series. You can also win a copy of the first book in the series, Aries Rising.
http://www.bookpage.com/the-book-case/

March 16, 2010 Tuesday
Bonnie Hearn Hill started out as a writer in the fourth grade and along the way she's made a few mistakes and learned a few things. Today she shares her experience with us in Six Things I Wish I had Known When I Started Out. You can also enter to win a copy of Aries Rising.
http://writelikecrazy.wordpress.com/

March 19, 2010 Friday
Stop by for novelist Bonnie Hearn Hill's answers to questions posed by readers on Day by Day Writer. If you have a question for Bonnie, visit the link below to have it answered on this day! And don't forget: Bonnie's favorite question wins a copy of Aries Rising!
http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/

March 22, 2010 Monday
Bonnie Hearn Hill, author of Aries Rising, the first book in the series Star Crossed, stops by Books by Their Cover to chat about astrology. You can also win a copy of Aries Rising where the main character discovers an astrology book that gives her power over her world.
http://booksbytheircover.blogspot.com/

March 23, 2010 Tuesday
Cathy C. Hall is taking five on Finders & Keepers today--five questions for author Bonnie Hearn Hill, that is! Stop by for some tips on writing and a chance to win Hill's first YA novel Aries Rising!
http://cathychall.wordpress.com/

March 25, 2010 Thursday
Have you and your daughter ever read your horoscopes out loud to each other? Stop by the Mother Daughter Book Club for an interview with Bonnie Hearn Hill! You can also win a copy of Aries Rising.
http://motherdaughterbookclub.wordpress.com/

March 26, 2010 Friday
Stop by Fresh Fiction today and visit Bonnie Hearn Hill, author of the Star Crossed YA series. Enter to win a copy of the first book in the series Aries Rising!
http://www.freshfiction.com/

We have more dates to come! To view all of our touring authors, 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 host Bonnie Hearn Hill or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

31 Days of Aries: Your chance to win an iPod Touch!
The Aries Rising Blog Tour & Book Giveaway continues through March 31st. Destinations will be posted daily, and a free copy of Aries Rising will be given away at each one. At the conclusion of the tour, a drawing will be held for an iPod Touch. No purchase is necessary. You can enter as often as you wish, and you can qualify in three ways:
1. Be an Aries. Just send your birth date (month and day) to starcrossed.contest[at]gmail[dot]com.
2. Write a review and post it anywhere. Send the link to the same e-mail address.
3. Post a fan badge on your Facebook page and send the link to the above e-mail address.
Send your entries to: starcrossed.contest[at]gmail[dot]com. On each entry, include your name, address, e-mail address, and phone number where you can be reached. Deadline: March 31, 2010.

And be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Bonnie Hearn Hill's YA novel Aries Rising! And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!

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Monday, February 08, 2010

 

Laura Cross, author of The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent, Launches her Blog Tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Laura Cross's family and friends in Detroit, Michigan knew she would move on to bigger and better things when she began writing and performing plays for them as a child. Actually, they hoped she would move on to bigger and better things--they were tired of being her only audience!

When Laura packed up the moving van it was to head to California where she earned Certificates in Writing and Feature Film Writing for the UCLA Writer's Program. Laura's writing life has included magazine writing, script reading for production companies and literary agencies, leading writing workshops and blogging about screenwriting and non-fiction writing. She's also written some absolutely fabulous nonfiction books but sadly, as a ghostwriter, she has to keep the titles under wraps! Laura divides her time between Los Angeles and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Find out more about Laura by visiting her websites:
www.scenariowritingstudio.com
www.truestoryink.com
www.aboutascreenplay.com

Friend her on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter: @ScreenplayChick and @TheScribeChick

The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent
By Laura Cross

This book is for every prospective author who has sought to have their manuscript transformed into a printed book. It guides you through the process of contracting a literary agent and convincing them that you are in fact the next great bestseller. From formatting a query letter to ensuring your manuscript looks presentable, every step of the process from inception to execution will be laid out in vivid detail for you.

Both published writers who have successfully found and acquired an agent and literary agents who are inundated with manuscripts and requests in the thousands every year, have been interviewed for this book and have provided their personal stories, tips, and tricks as to how you can get into the publishing industry through an agent. Finally, once you have found your agent, you will learn how to read contracts, accept offers, and understand what details will be handled exclusively by your agent.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Publishing Group (June 2010)
ISBN: 1601384033

Notes: The print version comes out in June 2010 and you can pre-order it on Amazon. The e-book version is available for purchase on Laura's site, where you can also download a free sample chapter.

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Laura Cross's book The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent 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.

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: You mentioned that, although you've written over 30 books, this would be the first one with your name on it. Could you tell us a little about that path that led you to so many books, although without the byline?

Laura: I was working with friends and associates--line editing and researching, and helping them organize and outline their books--and somewhere along the road it developed into ghostwriting a complete manuscript. I loved the whole process of bringing a book together and I began offering ghostwriting services--from there it developed into a career.

WOW: What types of books do you ghostwrite?

Laura: Most of my books are prescriptive nonfiction. Initially I specialized in what I knew about (business, entrepreneurship, and marketing) and that gradually grew into additional topics as I began attracting specific types of clients. Now I also write about social media and branding, finance and investment, self-help and relationships, lifestyle and motivation, and health and fitness. I’ve written two travel guides, which were fun, though that’s not a large part of my business.

WOW: I love the possibility of so much variety. As a ghostwriter you don't have the luxury of waiting for a muse to tease the words out of you. People are expecting you to deliver on deadline. Maybe we can all learn a little from your writing habits. Paint us a picture of where and how you write.

Laura: I’m not sure there is a creative muse for prescriptive nonfiction. When it comes to developing a client’s book I’m like a doctor who lines up her daily appointments--every hour of the day is scheduled. Mornings are spent on marketing, social networking, reading blogs, writing posts, answering emails, and developing my own projects. Afternoons I spend on client projects, whether it’s writing or editing or working on a book proposal. My projects are lined up several months in advance, if I didn’t follow a strict regiment I would wander off course and wouldn’t be able to begin the next project on time. Milestones and deadlines are essential.

I have a nice home office with an attached patio (for taking much-needed breaks). It’s a quiet space with no distractions, which allows me to focus. I have a rustic refurbished six-foot wood plank table where I write. I had my eye on that table for three years before I could afford to buy it. It was expensive but it was one of the best investments I ever made--it’s large enough to hold all my papers, notes, and books, and most importantly, my cat, who likes to curl up near me when I’m typing. It creates a romantic, nostalgic atmosphere. It makes me feel like I stepped into an author’s studio in the 1940s. I can’t help but be inspired to write when I sit at that desk.

WOW: Your desk and working space sound wonderful! Do you have any hints for getting the job done? Do you set daily goals for yourself?

Laura: I absolutely set daily goals. Every writing project has a timeline. During the writing phase I try to complete five pages per day.

WOW: Five pages is a good goal. Many of our readers write fiction and debate whether outlines improve books or stifle creativity. Since your books are non-fiction maybe you can add to the debate on outlines from a non-fiction perspective. Do you think they're useful when you're writing?

Laura: I break my projects into three phases: development, writing, and editing/revising. Most of my time is spent on preparation: refining the idea, researching (and interviews), organizing the material, and outlining. I always work with a detailed outline, which the client approves before I commence the writing stage. Sometimes the outline will fluctuate a little once I begin writing, but it usually doesn’t stray too far from the initial direction. Once the detailed outline is developed and approved, I use it as the blueprint or map to follow during the writing stage. I basically lay it out as the foundation of the book and fill in the content. For me, this method makes the actual writing process super easy. I can’t imagine working without an outline.

WOW: I'm in the middle of a non-fiction book and find that I'm not writing in order: first Chapter One, then Chapter Two, etc. Do you write "in order" or find that you jump around from section to section?

Laura: I’m the same! I jump around all the time. Since I complete all the necessary research before I begin writing I’m aware of which sections may be more challenging and which will be easier or more enjoyable. I tend to write the easier or more enjoyable stuff first because I know it will go faster and will allow me to have more time to spend working on the difficult sections.

WOW: Thank goodness, now I know I’m not the only one! Do you ever find you become bored with a project? Do you work on more than one project at a time to avoid losing the enthusiasm for a project?

Laura: I don’t work on more than one client’s project at a time, except during the period of time between finishing the first draft and beginning revisions when the client is reviewing the project and making any notes--I’ll use that time to work on a smaller project, such as editing another client’s book. But I do split my days between working on clients’ projects and my own projects, which helps keep me motivated.

WOW: I'm sure we'll be learning plenty about literary agents during your WOW! Blog Tour for The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent: Everything You Need To Know To Become Successfully Published but one question about your experience with literary agents. Do ghostwriters use literary agents to find them work or "sell" their skills to people looking for a ghostwriter?

Laura: Absolutely! I do acquire plenty of clients on my own who initially approach me to develop their book proposals and they turn into ghostwriting projects once they land book deals, but the best ghostwriting projects and much of my gigs come from literary agents and publishers. It’s rumored that more than 80% of traditionally published books are ghostwritten. Many celebrities, experts, motivational speakers, doctors, attorneys, sports figures, scientists, and business leaders lack the time or the skill to write a compelling book and they require ghostwriters or co-authors. And it’s not just nonfiction, some bestselling fiction authors don’t have the time to produce the volume of work released under their names and they hire fiction ghostwriters to write manuscripts "in their style" based on their ideas or story outlines.

WOW: I knew James Patterson worked with ghostwriters but I had no idea it was so widespread! What's next for you? Will your next project have your name on it or be shrouded in the mystery that is ghostwriting? What is your dream-writing project?

Laura: I have a few client book proposals lined up and, of course, those are ghostwritten, but as far as larger book projects right now I’m focused on writing my own book. I really enjoy mentoring other writers and sharing what I’ve learned on my writing path, so the next book will be another one for writers. I’m also focusing on teaching writing classes in a new online platform I’m launching this spring that encourages participants to engage with one another and recreates the live workshop experience.

I’ve adapted a few scripts for clients as a hidden writer (I earned my certificate in Feature Film Writing from UCLA’s Writer’s Program) and my "dream-writing project" is a screenplay adaptation of a specific book I’ve been interested in for a while. I’m still trying to option the film rights, which just became available earlier this year when a producer let his option lapse...so fingers-crossed.

WOW: Everyone at WOW! will have their fingers crossed for you and we’ll be watching for your name n the credits at our local movie theaters--keep us updated.

Want to join Laura 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!

February 8, 2010 Monday
Laura will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Laura's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

February 9, 2010 Tuesday
Break out the hammer and nails--today Laura Cross tells us how to build a writer's platform. She's also holding a Winner's Choice Giveaway! Winner of the contest wins a PDF of her book Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent or membership to one of her online classes ($369 value): Writing the Non-fiction Book Proposal, Writing the Non-fiction Book, or Establishing Your Writer's Platform.
http://www.meryl.net/section/blog/

February 10, 2010 Wednesday
Author Laura Cross tells readers how a good synopsis can get a novel published. And don't miss today's super giveaway! The winner gets to attend one of three online classes ($369 value) Laura is teaching this spring.
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

February 12, 2010 Friday
Today Laura will be answering questions sent in by readers. Do you have a question for Laura about agents, ghostwriting, writing platforms, or another writing subject? Submit a question and you might win a PDF of her book Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent.
http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/

February 15, 2010 Monday
Laura Cross, author of Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent, tells readers about her life as a ghost--ghostwriter, that is! Don't miss her post How To Land High-Paying Ghostwriting Book Projects.
http://freelancewrite.about.com/

February 16, 2010 Tuesday
Writer Laura Cross will be sharing Five Secrets Every Writer Should Know About Query Letters with Thursday Bram. You can also enter to win membership in one of Laura's writing classes ($369 value).
http://www.thursdaybram.com/

February 17, 2010 Wednesday
Stop by for a great interview with Laura Cross, author of Guide to a Literary Agent.
http://www.sellingbooks.com/

February 18, 2010 Thursday
Laura will be stopping by Hell or High Water Writer with 5 Tips for Polishing Your Pitch and a chance to win a PDF of her book Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent.
http://hellorhighwaterwriter.blogspot.com/

February 22, 2010 Monday
Are you ready for an agent? Laura Cross, author of The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent, helps you answer that question today. She's also giving away an e-copy of her book.
http://www.adventuresinthewritinglife.blogspot.com/

February 26, 2010 Friday
Stop by Words by Webb for a review of Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent by Laura Cross.
http://jodiwebb.com/

March 3, 2010 Wednesday
Laura Cross, author of Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent, is telling all her secrets today...secrets about query letters. She's also giving away an electronic copy of her book. Don't miss it!
http://writerunboxed.com/

To view all of our touring authors, 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 host Laura Cross 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.

Be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Laura Cross's book The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent: Everything You Need To Know To Become Successfully Published! And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!

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Monday, February 01, 2010

 

Elisa Lorello, author of Ordinary World, discusses genres

Author Blog Tour & Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Elisa Lorello grew up on Long Island, NY as the baby to six older siblings. Growing up during the '80s, Elisa covered her walls with Duran Duran posters and used lots of hairspray. She explored many passions, including drawing, tennis, and music, but in her early 20's, exercised her gossiping skills while working as a manicurist.

In 1995, Elisa left Long Island to attend the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth for both her bachelor and master's degrees. In 2000, as part of her graduate education in Professional Writing, she became a teaching associate, and met two professors of rhetoric and composition who took her under their wings. This union of teaching, rhetoric, and writing ultimately became Elisa's calling, and remains so to this day. She now lives in North Carolina where she teaches academic writing at North Carolina State.

In 2004, Elisa began her first novel, Faking It. Since then, Elisa has written a sequel, Ordinary World, and is currently co-writing a third novel with a friend and former student. That is, when she can tear herself away from her favorite form of entertainment--Facebook.

Find our more about Elisa by visiting her websites:
Elisa's website: www.ElisaLorello.com
Elisa's blog: I'll Have What She's Having
Twitter: twitter.com/elisalorello
Facebook: Faking It Fans

Ordinary World

By Elisa Lorello

Andi Vanzant had everything she wanted--a husband, a home, a job she loved, a cat named Donny Most. Then a drunk college student plowed into her husband's car and she lost everything...except the cat.

Andi's faced with a nightmare world and the work of trying to transform it into an ordinary world. She's certain that life will never be ordinary again but begins to find her way with the help of an unlikely support group that spans the world--a widowed mother on Long Island, a supportive boss in Massachusetts, an old boyfriend in Italy, and a fortune telling housewife in Peru.

Ordinary World is the story of a woman accepting losses and embracing gifts. To some degree it is the story every woman fears and every woman must some day live.

Genre: Chick Lit/Women's Fiction
ASIN: B002VECPYM
Ordinary World is available in both print and Kindle versions.

Video (below): Elisa reading an excerpt from Ordinary World at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had to include this video clip because Elisa is fantastic! You'll definitely want to read her book after hearing this. Enjoy!



Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a print copy of Elisa Lorello's book, Ordinary World, 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.

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Welcome, Elisa! Ordinary World, the sequel to Faking It, has a female protagonist and touches of romance, but also has more serious issues like the loss of a partner. From my point of view, it could fall under several categories: romance, chick lit, women's fiction, literary fiction. But what do I know! If I headed to my local bookstore under what category would I find Ordinary World?

Elisa:
Great question. An agent or editor or even marketing director of a publishing company might tell you otherwise, but I categorize Ordinary World as women's fiction. Although it's a sequel to a romantic comedy, the characters and story are a bit more complex and contain more depth. The protagonist is dealing with issues of loss and relationships, not only with men but also her mother, and trying to reclaim her authentic self. And yet, by far one of the most touching responses I've received was from a widower who really related to Andi's stages of grief.

WOW: The narrowness of some categories confuses me. For instance, what differentiates women's fiction from chick lit?

Elisa:
I'm going to quote directly from AgentQuery.com (a great site for writers seeking an agent!): "Chick lit often has light-hearted, amusing tales of dating woes, career foibles, and personal antics as they relate to the problems of average female 20- & 30-somethings: finding the right career, the right man, and the right attitude. The stories are usually fun, down-to-earth, quirky, and entertaining--a good beach read... Like chick lit, women's fiction often explores similar themes related to women's struggles with men, their friends and family, or their own sense of self. Unlike chick lit, women's fiction often delves into deeper, more serious conflicts and utilizes a more poetic literary writing style."

Many of my readers characterize
Faking It as a beach read, and Ordinary World as something you curl up on the couch with, along with a cup of tea or hot cocoa. Others call Faking It "chick lit with oomph." Moreover, I have quite a large male readership for both books.

(An independent bookstore in Raleigh, NC shelves Faking It in Southern Fiction because they consider me a local author--makes me laugh, however, since Andi is such a New Yorker!)

[Note: Elisa is originally from New York City, as is her main character Andi. However, Elisa recently moved to North Carolina for work.]

WOW: Do you feel that categories are perceived differently by critics and readers?

Elisa: There's always been a divide between literary fiction and popular fiction. Some readers/writers of literary fiction look down on popular fiction as being too formulaic or simplified, while some popular fiction readers/writers think literary fiction is too snobby or elitist. I've read forums where readers call popular authors like John Grisham and Stephen King "hacks," and Jennifer Weiner is often hailed as the Queen of Chick Lit. And yet, these writers are quite talented and have a solid grasp of their genre. Their prosaic styles are quite different from more literary writers like Theodore Sturgeon, but I don't think it's fair to call one better than another.

I think chick lit definitely receives less respect than women's fiction because it's seen as more shallow, but I don't think it has to be the rule. In Faking It, Andi definitely spends a lot of time fixating on who's wearing what and is constantly reacting to Devin in very physical ways, but there's something else happening under the surface. She's coming to terms with who she really is and making peace with it. She makes peace with her body, her sexuality, and her way of relating to men.

WOW: From a writer's viewpoint, are very specific categories a good or bad thing?

Elisa: The categories seem to be getting narrower. The genre of romance can be broken down into historical romance, paranormal romance, mystery romance, Christian romance, and gay romance, to name a few. On one hand, it makes it easier to query an agent and have a specific category to describe your work. It's also easy for the average consumer to target his/her interests. On the other hand, I think it's getting to the point where it's so specific that an author or an agent may have difficulty determining where the work fits, and that could hinder the ability to sell it.

Faking It topped three different best-seller lists in Amazon's Kindle Store: Humor; Love, Sex & Marriage; and Contemporary Romance. However, if you'll look at what else is on the humor list, for example, you might be surprised to find it there.
Ordinary World is also topping the Contemporary Romance list.

WOW: Sounds like the publishing gods that fit books into slots can't agree about your novels. What would you call Ordinary World?

Elisa: I call it a "dramedy," even though Barnes & Noble doesn't have that section in their stores! The term is usually reserved for film or television (M*A*S*H* or The West Wing, for example), but I think it applies to Ordinary World. Despite the storyline being so much about loss, there's till quite a bit of humor in the novel. Even the opening chapter has comically absurd images, although the protagonist is really suffering.

WOW: What types of books do you read?

Elisa: If you were to ask me to name the primary genre of books that I read, I don't think I could give you just one. My favorite writers range from Richard Russo to Bill Bryson to David Sedaris to Marian Keyes to Jennifer Weiner to Nora Ephron to Aaron Sorkin. Bill Bryson is known as a travel writer, but his books are hilarious. Sedaris is primarily nonfiction. Aaron Sorkin is a playwright, first and foremost, and doesn't write books. Nora Ephron was a journalist before she wrote screenplays. What these writers/authors have in common is a sense of language, wit, humor, timing, story, description, and character. Their characters are smart, as are they. Every time I read (or watch) something that these authors have written, I think, I wish I'd thought of that! and I get motivated to work on my own story. Better still is when I read something from Jennifer Weiner, for example, and notice that I did, in fact, think of something similar!

WOW: As writers, should we be considering these pesky categories as we write? I've read that if, as an author, you can't point exactly to where your book should be shelved in a bookstore you need to refine your subject. Do you agree?

Elisa: Yes and no. I think the first obligation you have as a writer is to write the best story you can, and write it well. The last thing on my mind while drafting both Faking It and Ordinary World was where it was going to be shelved. Andi's story needed to be told. However, it's very important to get reader feedback before you start querying agents or independently publish, and list to agents' feedback if they give you any. That will help you refine your writing, which will ultimately help you with genre placement.

I worried that Ordinary World was too different from Faking It in terms of style and tone, but so far it hasn't been a problem.

WOW: What's coming up next for you? And, in keeping with today's theme--under what category will we find your new book?

Elisa: My next novel is called Why I Love Singlehood and it's about a coffee shop owner who blogs about the benefits of living single--all while trying to get a date. I'm co-writing it with a dear friend and we're having a blast with it. We would definitely call it a romantic comedy--more chick lit with oomph!

WOW: That sounds fun! Thank you, Elisa, for chatting with us today, and for sharing your wisdom on genres. You really helped clarify the puzzle of book categories. :)

Want to join Elisa 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!

February 1, 2010 Monday
Elisa will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Elisa's novel!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

February 2, 2010 Tuesday
What makes you a book lover? Today novelist Elisa Lorello, author of Faking It and Ordinary World, shares her thoughts on books and reading in the "Because of a Book" feature on Write for a Reader.
http://www.writeforareader.blogspot.com/

February 4, 2010 Thursday
What do you collect? Share your hunting and gathering instincts with Elisa Lorello, a novelist who gave the characters in her novels Faking It and Ordinary World collections of art and...bobbleheads!
http://www.misadventureswithandi.com/

February 5, 2010 Friday
The blogosphere is alive with opinions about e-books. Good, bad, or ugly? Elisa Lorello, who is releasing her second novel in both print and e-book, shares her opinions about Kindle and print books with Susan Johnston today. What are your thoughts on e-books?
http://www.urbanmusewriter.com/

February 8, 2010 Monday
Don't you just love book reviews? Stop by Fiona Ingram's blog today for her take on Elisa Lorello's novel Ordinary World.
http://www.fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

February 9, 2010 Tuesday
Could you bow to another's muse? Elisa Lorello, author of Faking It and Ordinary World, writes today about her experience collaborating on her third book with a former student. Readers also have a chance to win a copy of her latest novel--print or e-book--winner's choice!
http://writerunboxed.com/

February 10, 2010 Wednesday
Today novelist Elisa Lorello shares her tips on leaving the humdrum behind and making your next bookstore reading fun, fun, fun! Elisa's latest novel Ordinary World is the sequel to her debut novel Faking It.
http://hellorhighwaterwriter.blogspot.com/

February 12, 2010 Friday
Novelist Elisa Lorello will be writing on "How to Mix Comedy with Grief" at Writer Inspired today--something she's done in her latest book Ordinary World. Stop by for a chance to win a copy of Ordinary World.
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

February 15, 2010 Monday
Elisa Lorello will be visiting Fresh Fiction for a surprise guest post! Stop by today for a chance to win a copy of Ordinary World.
http://www.freshfiction.com/

February 16, 2010 Tuesday
The interesting people from Elisa Lorello's debut novel Faking It have returned in Ordinary World. Elisa talks about "The Evolution of Character" in today's post. You also have a chance to win a copy of Ordinary World.
http://www.meryl.net/section/blog/

February 17, 2010 Wednesday
Today novelist Elisa Lorello writes about e-books and print books--can they co-exist? Stop by to tell us what you think!
http://abookbloggersdiary.blogspot.com/

February 18, 2010 Thursday
Get a peek into the world of novelist Elisa Lorello with an interview by Cathy Stucker.
http://www.sellingbooks.com/

February 19, 2010 Friday
Stop by for reviews of Elisa Lorello's Faking It and the sequel Ordinary World.
http://jodiwebb.com/

February 22, 2010 Monday
Novelist Elisa Lorello will be writing about e-books and, in celebration of blog host Michelle Fabio finally getting on the e-book bandwagon, Elisa will be giving away an e-book of Ordinary World and one of Faking It.
http://bleedingespresso.com/

February 24, 2010 Wednesday
Elisa Lorello calls her latest novel Ordinary World a 'dramedy'. Find out why she thinks a combination of comedy and grief can make a book stronger. Also, don't miss the last chance to win a copy of Ordinary World! Elisa's giving away a print and e-book copy and an e-book or her debut novel Faking It.
http://inkthinkerblog.com/

February 26, 2010 Friday
Elisa Lorello, author of Faking It and Ordinary World, guests posts about how characters go from wisps of idea to full fledged people. And this is your last chance...drumroll please...to win an e-copy of Ordinary World. This is Elisa's last stop. What fun we've had!
http://romanticjourney.wordpress.com/

To view all of our touring authors, 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 host one of our touring authors, 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.

Be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a signed copy of Elisa Lorello's novel Ordinary World! (In the print version.) And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!

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Monday, January 04, 2010

 

Chynna Laird, author of Not Just Spirited, launches her blog tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Chynna T. Laird is a mother of three beautiful girls, Jaimie (six-and-a-half), Jordhan (five) and baby Sophie (sixteen months), and a gorgeous baby boy Xander (almost three). In addition to living her dream building up her at-home freelance business (Lily Wolf Words), she's also studying to obtain her B.A. in Psychology, specializing in Early Childhood Development.

Her hobbies include writing, reading, playing piano and crafting with her girls. A lot of the material she writes about includes childhood experiences, her adventures as a Mom, and her personal observations.

She's won writing contests in Byline magazine and her work has been published in various Christian, parenting, writing and inspirational magazines in Canada, the United States, Britain and Australia. As well, she's had personal essays featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs and Cup of Comfort for Special Needs. Last year, she released a children's picture book called, I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD, where she describes--through the voice and perspective of four-year old Alexandra--what it's like to live with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (Sensory Processing Disorder).

Chynna is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), The International Women's Writing Guild, The Writers-Editors Network, Christian Writers' Guild, The Canadian Author's Association as well as The Writers Guild of Alberta. She has press cards through the PWAC and the Writers-Editors Network.

Chynna is on tour for her second book, Not Just Spirited: A Mom's Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), and her third book, The Sensory Diet: Setting Your SPD Child up for Success, will be released this year.

Find out more about Chynna by visiting her websites:
Lily Wolf Words: http://www.lilywolfwords.ca/
Blog: http://lilywolfwords.blogspot.com/

Not Just Spirited: A Mom's Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
By Chynna T. Laird

What would you do if your child suffered with something so severe it affected every aspect of her life?

And what if your cries for help fell on deaf ears at every turn? You'd follow your gut and fight until someone listened. And that's what Chynna Laird did. When she was just three months old, Jaimie's reactions to people and situations seemed odd. She refused any form of touch, she gagged at smells, she was clutzy and threw herself around and spent most of her day screaming with her hands over her ears and eyes.

By the time she turned two, Jaimie was so fearful of her world they spent most days inside. What was wrong with Chynna's miracle girl? Why wouldn't anyone help her figure it out? Jaimie wasn't "just spirited" as her physician suggested, nor did she lack discipline at home. When Jaimie was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) at two-and-a-half, Chynna thought she had "the answer," but that was just the start of a three-year quest for the right treatments to bring the Jaimie she loved so much out for others to see. With the right diagnosis and treatment suited to Jaimie, this family finally felt hope. Not Just Spirited is one mother's journey to finding peace for her daughter, Jaimie. As Chynna says often, "Knowledge breeds understanding. And that's so powerful."

Genre: Memoir/Children with Special Needs
Paperback: 174 pages
Publisher: Loving Healing Press (November 2009)
ISBN: 1615990089

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Chynna Laird's book, Not Just Spirited, 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!

(Photo: Chynna's beauties!)

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Welcome, Chynna! Presently, you have three books to your name--each in a different category--but all concentrating on the same subject, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In writing these books, did you find that you preferred one type of writing over another?

Chynna:
What a great question! I have to say that I loved writing the children's book the best. That's not because it was the easiest--I still had to concentrate on the target audience, make sure I was saying things "correctly" for that audience, etc. But I think it was because the book was for my little girl. It was my way of helping her to understand what she was going through and how to give her the words to explain her SPD to others. I guess because, at the time I wrote it, I wasn't able to hold her or comfort her or give her any of the usual mommy forms of affection due to her sense of touch being so sensitive; it was my way to do those things. I'll always treasure that book.

WOW: That's beautiful. So what lessons did you learn from your children's book that helped you with your memoir, Not Just Spirited?

Chynna: The number one lesson I learned from the children's book is how important marketing is. I wrote the book in 2007 but didn't really get out there and hard-core market it until earlier this year. Not good, especially when you self-publish. I soon realized that no one would even know my book was out there unless I steered people to it. So now I'm learning about different marketing tools, the most effective social connection tools I can access with the time I have to use them, etc. Some writers make the mistake of thinking their publisher or someone else will be doing all the promoting for them and it's not the case. The writer/author is expected to do a lot of her own promotion and marketing. It's a lot of work but so worth it!

WOW: Thank you for mentioning that--it's a great reminder for authors. Tell us the origins of your memoir.

Chynna: When I first started writing the memoir, I was really just working through the feelings of hurt, confusion and anger I had. Why couldn't I help my child? What was wrong with her? What was wrong with me? At first, it was basically a compilation of journal entries--you know, trying to work through all the emotions.

Then after I wrote my children's book, I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD, I really wanted to do more to help other families out there if I could. I didn't want to write a tell-all or make parents think or do a specific thing. I just wanted to say, "This was our experience. This is what happened in our house and how we dealt with it. These are the things we went up against. It may not have been the 'right thing,' or the 'wrong thing,' but it was what we did. Take what you need, and keep pushing forward with your own journey."

The most important thing I wanted to do was to give parents something I didn't have in the beginning of our SPD journey: The comfort that other families are going through the same things we are and that they aren't alone. One thing I was told in the beginning of my struggle was that, "Parents often feel like they're on a remote island where no one else is going through what they are or understand what it's like to raise a child with sensory issues. Once we reach out...once we share our stories...bridges are built among those islands and we aren't alone anymore." When I heard those words, I realized how important it was for parents to tell their stories.

WOW: I totally agree. I'm sure your book will help a lot of parents who are going through the same thing, and I applaud you for that! When you sat down to write your memoir, how did the process work? Did you rely on memories and journals? Did you discuss the experience with your family?

Chynna: For the longest time, it was only me and Steve [Chynna's husband] here going through everything with Jaimie. It's truly a difficult thing to make people understand your situation when they aren't there to go through it with you. It was so frustrating and lonely, and writing about it always made me feel better.

I wrote journal entries mostly, at first. Then, when I went back to edit it, I went through everything again. It was painful, joyous, angering and enlightening all at the same time. I re-lived every experience...every emotion...and it could be so hard. I often had to leave the computer, just turn it off. It was difficult enough to go through all of that initially...not just for me but especially for Jaimie.

I rewrote parts of the manuscript many times. Not because I'd written it "wrong," but more because this isn't just my story. It's Jaimie's and Steve's and my other children's story. So I had to be sure it was told 'just right,' you know? I didn't want to complain or give a 'poor me' type of perspective. If I was going to share our story, it had to be giving the message that things are tough and you'll face many obstacles but you have to be strong and you'll get where you need to be.

I constantly talked with Steve about the book. A huge part of our story was Jaimie's rejection of his love because she wasn't--and still isn't--able to deal with that. So I had to be sure that I was being true to his feelings and views while remembering this book would be out there for a long time (Hopefully!) and Jaimie's early life would be out there. I wanted it to be something she'd be proud of later on.

WOW: It must be difficult writing a memoir that includes young children. Do you ever worry they'll grow up and say, "Mom, why did you have to write about us?"

Chynna: What another great question. Well, as I touched on earlier I did worry about that. How could I not? They are all so young right now and don't fully understand what Mommy does with her writing. And I remember Steve saying, "Nothing in this is going to come back to haunt Jaimie when she's a teenager or anything, will it?"

I almost didn't publish it for those reasons. But you know what? Jaimie is helping so many people with her story...with our story. I think she'd be proud of how I wrote it and how my publisher edited it (Thank you so much, Victor and Ernest!). She already is! She truly wants people to understand her. I spoke with her constantly about what I was doing because I remember awhile ago, when I'd written my story for the
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs book, she was devastated that I'd talked about her and that everyone would read it. She was embarrassed and believed people wouldn't like her--that was a couple of years ago (and one of the reasons I'd written my children's book). Now, she thinks it's pretty cool to think that she may be able to help others with what she's gone through, and still goes through.

I never made her look pathetic or went into huge, intimate details--that's very important when writing about children in such books. I tried representing her as a little girl going through something tough that she had the strength to learn how to cope with. And that's what I hope she'll see.

WOW: Have you set any writing resolutions for the New Year?

Chynna: I actually blogged about this recently! Okay, some of my goals for 2010 are to: (1) Prioritize my ideas (I have many ideas and not much time to accomplish them so I need to zero in on what I really want to do!); (2) Finish my reference book; (3) Finish my memoir about my mom; and (4) Build up my courage to edit the two fiction works I have shelved. My biggest goals are to finally finish my B.A. in psychology (in April! Yay!) and spend more time with my kids. They need me more than anything or anyone and they're only little for so long. Writing can be very consuming. If you're a writer and a Mama, you can do both you just need to find that balance.

WOW: Wow! I thought I had a lot to accomplish. ;) Thank you, Chynna, for a wonderful and inspirational interview. I wish you the best of luck with your 2010 goals, and with your blog tour!

Want to join Chynna 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!

January 4, 2010 Monday
Chynna will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Chynna's memoir!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

January 5, 2010 Tuesday
Chynna Laird is the guest writer at Write for a Reader's special feature "Because of a Book." Don't miss her take on books and reading and share how they have affected your life.
http://www.writeforareader.blogspot.com/

January 6, 2010 Wednesday
Teachers, parents, and caregivers will want to read this interview about Chynna Laird's experiences striving for a diagnosis and the best life for her daughter with SPD. You can also win her memoir, Not Just Spirited!
http://www.margodill.com/blog/

January 8, 2010 Friday
Chynna Laird shares her secrets to survival in "How to Successfully Combine All Your Roles: Mom, Wife, Employee, Woman." Don't forget to enter to win a copy of her memoir Not Just Spirited!
http://www.autismlearningfelt.com/

January 12, 2010 Tuesday
Chynna Laird, author of Not Just Spirited, shares how rewarding memoir writing was for her. Don't miss it!
http://hellorhighwaterwriter.blogspot.com/

January 14, 2010 Thursday
Stop by Writer Inspired to check out what Chynna has to say in her interview, and enter to win a copy of her memoir Not Just Spirited!
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

January 15, 2010 Friday
Stop by the Mom-Blog for "Five Things No One Ever Told You About Sensory Processing Disorder." You'll also have a chance to win a copy of Chynna Laird's memoir, Not Just Spirited, about raising a daughter with SPD.
http://mom-blog.com/

January 18, 2010 Monday
Author and Mom Chynna Laird writes about Advocating for Special Needs Children at Your School. Not to miss!
http://www.texashousewife.com/

January 25, 2010 Monday
Stop by for a review of Chynna Laird's memoir, Not Just Spirited, and a chance to win a copy!
http://thingsandstuffreviews.blogspot.com/

January 26, 2010 Tuesday
Don't miss a peek into the world of Sensory Processing Disorder with a guest post from Chynna Laird, author of a children's book, memoir, and cookbook on SPD.
http://autmont.blogspot.com/

We have 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 host one of our touring authors, 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.

Be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Chynna Laird's memoir Not Just Spirited: A Mom's Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!

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