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, August 03, 2009

 

Sue Silverman, Author of Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir, Launches her Blog Tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Sue William Silverman is the author of two memoirs. Her first memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, won the AWP award series in creative nonfiction. Her second, Love Sick: One Woman's Journey through Sexual Addiction (W. W. Norton), is also a Lifetime Television original movie. Her poetry collection is Hieroglyphics in Neon, and her latest book, Fearless Confessions: A Writers Guide to Memoir, is published with the University of Georgia Press. She is associate editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, and teaches in the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has appeared on such national TV shows as The View, Anderson Cooper-360, and CNN Headline News. Find out more about Sue by visiting her website: www.suewilliamsilverman.com.

Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir
By Sue William Silverman

Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir is a guidebook for people who want to take possession of their lives by putting their experiences down on paper. Enhanced with illustrative examples from many different writers as well as writing exercises, this guide helps writers navigate a range of issues from craft to ethics to marketing and will be useful to both beginners and more accomplished writers.

The rise of interest in memoir recognizes the power of the genre to move and affect not just individual readers, but society at large. Sue Silverman covers traditional writing topics such as metaphor, theme, plot, and voice, but also includes chapters on trusting memory and cultivating the courage to tell one's truth in the face of forces--from family members to the media--who would prefer that people with inconvenient pasts and views remain silent.

Silverman draws upon her own personal and professional experience to provide an essential resource for transforming life into words that matter. Fearless Confessions is an atlas that contains maps to the remarkable places in each person's life that have yet to be explored.

Published by University of Georgia Press
Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN# 082033166X

Check out the trailer for Fearless Confessions below!



Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Sue's book, Fearless Confessions: A Writers Guide to 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. Enjoy!

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Prior to Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir you wrote two memoirs. What made you decide to write a "how-to" book?

Sue: Initially, anger motivated me to write Fearless Confessions.

I got angry by how many in the media--such as book critics--misunderstood and belittled memoir, mainly those written by women or those considered "other." For example, we've been accused of navel gazing. The word "confessional" is used in a demeaning way, suggesting that we're whining or complaining, along those lines.

So even though most of my new book is devoted to the craft of writing, I also include a chapter about what it really means to be a confessional writer--and the importance of memoir. I wanted to show how the word "confessional" is actually very positive. I hope more and more of us write memoir, especially since it's such a popular form, one that many like to read!

WOW: Bring us all up to speed. So often when I go into a bookstore I see a section labeled Bio/Memoir but do they belong in the same section? How are autobiography and memoir different?

Sue: They really are different!

Biography and autobiography are usually written about or by celebrities--movie stars, politicians, sports stars--and cover the whole of that person's life in a fairly factual way.

For example, in his autobiography My Life, Bill Clinton writes about his entire life, a kind of chronology of "first this happened, then this happened, and then this next thing happened." There's little or no reflection. It's based on his life of action, so is told more historically than impressionistically.

Ms. Ordinary Woman, however, like me, writes a memoir that's usually a slice of a life, not a whole life, and is based on memory, metaphor, and reflection--as opposed to historical "facts" that can be checked in newspapers. Memoir tends to follow one narrowly defined theme and is a journey, of sorts, to gain understanding about events.

For example, in my first memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, I wrote to ultimately reach some understanding about growing up in an incestuous family. In Love Sick, I wrote to discover the impact sexual addiction had on my life.

WOW: So how does a Ms. Ordinary Woman decide which slice of life to write about?

Sue: When sitting down to write, ask yourself: What subject seems urgent? What are my obsessions? Which event(s) in my life must be told? Which images or events won't let go of me?

Maybe you want to focus on a recent divorce. Maybe you're obsessed with what it felt like growing up on a farm in Kansas. Maybe you feel a real urgency about being raised in a military household, where you had to move to a new place every few years.

Whatever your life, you'll be able to discover a slice of it that would make an engaging memoir.

WOW: But what about the real people that populate our memoirs? Do many memoirs remain unwritten (or unpublished) out of concern for the characters portrayed in them?

Sue: The memoirist James McBride says, "Fear is a killer of good literature." So, yes, I think many memoirists are afraid of committing their stories to paper. And while I understand this fear--especially since it took me many years to overcome it myself--I would still urge potential memoirists to write anyway--regardless of the fear.

One way to overcome fear, at least initially, is to pretend to write just for yourself, ignoring (as much as possible) the fact that others might one day read your story. For me, while writing, I always pretend no one else will ever see my work. And, in any event, it's my choice whether I'll ultimately share it with anyone or not.

I tell myself I'm writing this book, first and foremost, because I must. Which is true. The act of writing, itself, is of primary importance. This is where the spirituality of artistic endeavor resides. Focus on the words, themselves, during the creation process. Worry about the outside world later.

In order to be creative and fully engage in the process, writers must give themselves permission to set aside the fear about what the outside world might think.

WOW: Do you think the primary purpose of writing a memoir isn't necessarily publication but a more personal purpose with publication just an added bonus?

Sue: Certainly one can write for oneself--to try to figure things out. The writing itself is crucial because it is only during the writing process that I fully understand any given event or experience. I hardly know what I think until I write it!

However, if you want to take it a step further, by publishing the work, you're then able to share your experiences with others--maybe those who aren't able to give voice to trauma--or to any experience for that matter. Memoirs can act as emotional guides, as it were, to help readers better understand the complicated maze of the psyche. Every memoirist I know receives letters from readers letting the author know how much their book helped them to understand their own lives. That's incredibly powerful.

WOW: I've never thought about how one person's memoir can help another person. You're right, it is powerful. So why do so many memoirs I read seem to be about negative experiences--abuse, imprisonment, mental illness?

Sue: Rather than use the word "negative," I would probably use the word "painful" experience.

The reason why we tend to write about dark events in our lives is to better understand them. Probably, "joy" is easier to understand--doesn't need as much soul searching--whereas painful experiences do require more work to sort out.

At its heart, writing memoir is a journey, an exploration.

WOW: You've included some excerpts from memoirs at the end of each of your chapters. Can you suggest some additional writers aspiring memoir writers can read?

Sue: Oh, that's always so difficult to choose a few. Instead, what I'd like to suggest, is that you review my reading list for contemporary creative nonfiction! You can find it as an appendix at the back of Fearless Confessions, but I also have a copy of it on my website, at www.suewilliamsilverman.com. This list is separated into categories, such as illness, childhood, coming-of-age, relationships, mental health issues, etc., so you can find a subject, as well as an author, that you might wish to read.

WOW: So what's coming up next for you?

Sue: Ongoing, I still teach writing at the low-residency Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can also find my blog tour schedule on my website's Blog Tour & Events page.

In terms of writing, I'm working on another creative nonfiction book called The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White, Anglo-Saxon Jew. It's not nearly as dark as my two memoirs!

WOW: Thanks for visiting with us Sue and we can't wait for a glimpse at your next slice of life!

Want to join Sue 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!

AUGUST 3, 2009 Monday
Sue will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Sue's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

AUGUST 4, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by Thursday Bram's blog and read her review of Sue Silverman's book, Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir.
http://www.thursdaybram.com/

AUGUST 5, 2009 Wednesday
What is truth? Sue stops by Donna Volkenannt's blog, Donna's Book Pub, to discuss the definition of truth in memoir writing.
http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com/

AUGUST 6, 2009 Thursday
Sue takes a trip to Japan to Suzanne Kamata's blog, Gaijin Mama, to share her ideas about the Redemptive Power of Writing.
http://gaijinmama.wordpress.com/

AUGUST 7, 2009 Friday
Sue stops by Beth Morrissey's blog, Hell Or High Water, to chat about the importance of women's voices in the literary world. Not to miss!
http://hellorhighwaterwriter.blogspot.com/

AUGUST 9, 2009 Sunday (7 PM, EST)
Stop by the Writer's Chatroom tonight at 7 PM, EST, and chat with Sue William Silverman!
http://www.writerschatroom.com/schedule.htm

AUGUST 10, 2009 Monday
Sue stops by Annette Fix's blog to chat about the process of memoir writing. That's something these two have in common and are passionate about, so it should be an exciting discussion!
http://www.annettefix.com/

AUGUST 12, 2009 Wednesday
Sue stops by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writer's Inspired, for an author interview. Stop by today to hear more about Fearless Confessions.
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

AUGUST 14, 2009 Friday
Sue stops by The Divine Miss Mommy for an author interview and book review!
http://thedivinemissmommy.com/

AUGUST 17, 2009 Monday
Today, Sue chats with Susan Johnston at The Urban Muse to figure out what makes a memoir writer tick. Not to miss!
http://www.urbanmusewriter.com/

AUGUST 18, 2009 Tuesday
Sue stops by Mike's Writing Workshop to discuss the "Five Redemptive Paths through Memoir."
http://mikeswritingworkshop.blogspot.com/

AUGUST 19, 2009 Wednesday
Sue visits C. Hope Clark's blog for a discussion about "Using Savory Words to Write Memoir."
http://www.hopeclark.blogspot.com/

AUGUST 21, 2009 Friday
Today Sue stops by Rebecca Laffar-Smith's blog, Writer's Round-About, to answer questions submitted by the readers. If you would like to ask Sue a question, please visit Writer's Round-About and submit your question before August 17th. Sue will also tell us how to use all our senses to bring a memoir to life. And there will be a book giveaway! Comment today for a chance to win a copy of Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir. In addition, Rebecca will be posting her review of Fearless Confessions on August 10th. Be sure to check that out!
http://www.writersroundabout.com/

AUGUST 24, 2009 Monday
Sue stops by Shai Coggins' blog for an author interview. It should be a lively discussion!
http://www.shaicoggins.com/

AUGUST 26, 2009 Wednesday
Sue visits the Memory Writers Network blog for an author interview. Also, be sure to check out Jerry Waxler's post about the "gutsy-ness and horror of revealing yourself," which was inspired by Sue Silverman!
http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/

SEPTEMBER 1, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by So a Blonde Walks Into a Review to learn how Sue overcame her fear of telling (and writing) secrets. Also, enter to win Fearless Confessions!
http://www.soablondewalksintoareview.com/

SEPTEMBER 3, 2009 Thursday
Stop by for a fabulous interview of Sue with Erika Dreifus, a book reviewer for The Writer.
http://practicing-writing.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 Sue Silverman'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 Sue's fabulous book Fearless Confessions: A Writers Guide to Memoir.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

 

Ann Whitford Paul, author of Writing Picture Books, Launches her Blog Tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

When an elementary school classmate read Ann's journal--including all the mean things she'd written--it put an end to Ann's first foray into writing. She went back to being a voracious reader, first on her own and then with her children. In a family of four children often the only quiet time was just before bed when Ann and her children snuggled together reading. It was those moments that inspired Ann to write books to help other children and adults recreate those cozy times. Encouraged by her family's love of books Ann has written 17 children's books, had her poetry published in several anthology and taught many classes on children's writing.

After years mothering her noisy brood Ann enjoys her quiet time. When not reading or writing she revels in quiet while quilting, knitting, doing puzzles or listening to the quiet rumbling purr of her cat, Mr. Darcy. Jane Austen is Ann's and Mr. Darcy's favorite author.

Find out more about Ann by visiting her website: http://www.annwhitfordpaul.net

About her book:

Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication

by Ann Whitford Paul

Have you ever thought you'd like to write a picture book, but don't know where to begin? Have you been submitting stories, but getting only form rejections?

Writing picture books is not easy. Picture books are a unique form of writing with a large audience of 2- to 8-year-olds, and they must appeal to both the adult purchaser and the child listener/reader. They are generally 32 pages long and must be tightly focused and told partly through illustrations. And novice picture book writers make a lot of mistakes--and get a lot of rejections from publishers flooded with inappropriate manuscripts. From this book these writers will learn the writing and revision process that will lead them to creating more salable picture book manuscripts. Ann Whitford Paul covers researching the picture books market, creating characters, point of view, plotting, tips on writing rhyme, and more-all the lessons writers need to write great picture books that will appeal to both editors/agents and young readers/parents. She uses a mix of instruction and hand-on exercises, often asking readers to cut, color and paste their way through revision.

This book covers picture book form, structure, language and the business side too. Learn how to revise your manuscript into a polished and publishable story from the award winning author of 17 children's books.

Genre: Writing/How-to
Paperback: 256 pages
ISBN: 1582975566
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (June, 2009)

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are
holding a contest to win a copy of Ann's book, Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, 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, Ann. We're delighted to launch your blog tour for your book, Writing Picture Books. You've been a children's author and writing teacher for years. What made you finally decide to write Writing Picture Books?

Ann: I was, and continue to be, most grateful to the fabulous teachers, Sue Alexander, Myra Cohn Livingston and Sonia Levitin, who helped me along the road to publication. After I'd had several books published, I wanted to thank them by helping others who were just starting out in their careers. I've taught through UCLA Extension (http://www.uclaextension.edu) for over ten years and done lots of speaking and workshops throughout the country and the world. The idea of tackling a book about writing picture books never entered my mind until a student Molli Nickell (http://www.getpublishednow.biz/) encouraged me to do it. I put it off for several years, afraid of the work involved, but with support from many friends and students finally sat down to write it. As with almost all things, it turned out to be easier than I imagined. I loved the process and am thrilled with the results.

WOW: Did your experience with Writing Picture Books influence you to write Word Builder, a book about writing with a different audience—children?

Ann: It was purely a coincidence that these books came out at the same time. Obviously Word Builder directed to children is much simpler. It compares building a book to building and construction work. I hope it will take out some of the mystery and fear away from those elementary school students when they have an assignment to write their own books.

WOW: In Kindergarten this year my son did quite a bit of story writing—with his teachers' help. Each week a different student was "Publisher of the Week." What do you think we can learn from children that will make us better writers?

Ann: Children are fantastic observers. They squat down and watch a snail creep across the walk, or pick up a pebble and study its bumpy texture. All writers need to be observers. They need to spend time seeing what others miss and then writing about that in their books. Telling details are what make the reader feel as though they are in the scene unfolding on the book’s page. Also children have a wonder of the world. We adults tend to gloss over things we’ve become familiar with. Capture that wonder by exposing yourself to new places, new experiences and new people. It will only enrich your writing.

WOW: When was children’s book publishing a new experience for you? How has it changed since then?

Ann: My first book Owl at Night was published in 1986 at a time when the poor illustrator had to do color separation art. It must have taken her ages. Back then I submitted everything via snail mail. Now e-mail and fax have saved time and money submitting.

Obviously in these tough financial times, it's much harder to sell a book. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe only higher quality books will make it to the bookstores. Unfortunately, the time editors can spend on editing has also been drastically cut and many editors have been laid off. This is not a good turn of events as their expertise is critical to producing strong and compelling books. A lot of these laid off editors are now working as agents and I notice a trend toward agents doing the editing work that publishing houses no longer support.

WOW: Any secrets to getting a children's manuscript accepted by a publisher?

Ann: To get a children's manuscript accepted by a publisher today, it must be unique and have a strong voice and character. Picture Book texts must lend themselves to interesting and varied illustrations. Quiet books and mood pieces are harder to sell now, but fear not. Especially in these hectic times, books that encourage contemplation and peace will eventually be back in demand.

While times are tough, it would behoove writers to focus on their craft. Read as many books in your genre and about your genre. Enjoy the process and when things turn around, submit nothing but your very best work.

WOW: As a children's author you've participated in your share of public appearances. Any advice for those of us who get performance anxiety? What makes an appearance go smoothly? What makes it more enjoyable for the children in your audience?

Ann: I am no stranger to performance anxiety. But that's not a bad thing. It usually inspires you to work hard making sure your talks are good. Personally, I don't think you can ever over prepare. Remember that your audience is giving up their precious time to listen to you. Make sure you give them something new to take home with them.

For those of you who (like I used to do) start to tremble when speaking or feel sick to your stomach, the good news is that it passes. Pausing for a deep breath helps a lot and the more you speak in front of children and adults, the more comfortable you will feel.

One thing that helped me was to remind myself that whenever I spoke, I wouldn't do it perfectly. Wanting perfection will only increase the pressure you put on yourself and also it's impossible to achieve. It's easier and more helpful to consider each presentation, not as you being showcased, but as a learning experience. That way you always do well, because you always learn something about what to do in the future. Every time I present, I ask the audience for feedback.

When speaking to children, try to involve them in the presentation. Children like to act out books and they also love to sing songs related to your book. This morning I stayed for story time at my granddaughter's preschool. The teacher stopped frequently to ask the children what they thought, or to get opinions, or to listen to their stories. She was wonderful.

Visual aids are also helpful. I’ve made a quilt about my writing process that you can see on my web site at http://www.annwhitfordpaul.net/ProgramsSchools.html. You can download a picture and the explanation of each square. For the much younger children, I often bring stuffed animals.

WOW: That's fantastic advice! So, what's coming up next for you?

Ann: I was surprised how much I enjoyed working on Writing for Picture Books and am in the middle of another writing book that has less to do with technique but more about the life of being a writer. I write every day and am currently revising a collection of poetry and several picture book manuscripts. Hopefully you'll see one, or some of them, in a bookstore in the near future.

WOW: Thank you, Ann, for taking time to chat with us today! We wish you the best of luck on your tour for Writing Picture Books.

Want to join Ann 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!

JUNE 22, 2009 Monday
Ann chats with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. One lucky commenter will win copy of Ann's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

JUNE 23, 2009 Tuesday
Ann stops by Zook Book Nook for an author interview and book giveaway contest! She's giving away 2 books! Be sure to stop by and comment for a chance to win.
http://zookbooknook.blogspot.com/

JUNE 24, 2009 Wednesday
Authors have no time (or words) to lose. Ann stops by Donna's Book Pub to teach us how to "Grab Your Reader from Word One." Not to miss!
http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com/

JUNE 25, 2009 Thursday
Walking the tightrope, eating cotton candy for dinner, dealing with clowns--we've all been there! Ann stops by Ann-Marie Nichols' blog, A Mama's Rant, and gives her take on the writing life with the post: Welcome to the Circus: Juggling Family and Writing.
http://www.amamasrant.com/

JUNE 29, 2009 Monday
Stop by Margo L. Dill's blog, Read These Books and Use Them, to hear Ann's advice for writers of all ages. For adults, she wrote Writing Picture Books, and for children, the picture book Word Builder.
http://www.margodill.com/blog/

JULY 1, 2009 Wednesday
With over a dozen books to her name and years of teaching, Ann's learned a few things about children's writing. Today she stops by Cathy C. Hall's blog, Finders & Keepers, to share her top five writing tips.
http://cathychall.wordpress.com/

JULY 2, 2009 Thursday
Stop by the WordHustler blog today and find out how Ann Whitford Paul became and award winning children's book author! WordHustler's interviews are fantastic--not to miss!
http://wordhustlerink.wordhustler.com/

JULY 10, 2009 Friday
Kristi Holl, children's book author and teacher at The Institute for Children's Literature, reviews Writing Picture Books. If you're interested in children's book writing, be sure to check out this fabulous blog!
http://institutechildrenslit.net/Writers-First-Aid-blog

JULY 15, 2009 Wednesday
It's a day for firsts! As the first guest author on the Teaching Authors blog, Ann will be talking about her first book about writing. And don't forget to enter to win a copy of Writing Picture Books! Also, be sure to check back for a review of Writing Picture Books in the future. ;)
http://www.teachingauthors.com/

JULY 17, 2009 Friday
Ann stops by Samantha Clark's blog, Day By Day Writer, to share her expert writing advice.
http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/

We may have more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE to keep up with the latest.

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 would like to host one of our authors, or are an author looking to 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 signed copy of Ann Whitford Paul's excellent book, Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication.

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