Thursday, March 29, 2007


Carolyn Howard-Johnson Helps UCLA Play the Career Game!

Yup! It's true...

Veteran publicist and promotion how-to author Carolyn Howard-Johnson will teach UCLA students winning plays for their budding careers. Students will play The Career Game during Career Week 2007, April 9-13. Howard-Johnson will appear on Tuesday April 10 at 5 pm at the James West Alumni Center on campus.

Students will learn to develop special strategies through one-of-a-kind workshops and meetings with presenters from various industries. Career themes will be played around the themes of traditional games including Scrabble, Sudoku and Pictionary!

We all know and love author, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, but did you know she was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment? It's true, the 43rd and 44th District of the California Legislature gave her that well-deserved title for her first novel, This is the Place, and her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, which are both award winners.

Carolyn's fiction, nonfiction, and poems have appeared in national magazines, anthologies and review journals. She consults on publishing and promotion and is an instructor for UCLA Extension's Writers' Program where she will be teaching a course called "Savvy Marketing for New Authors"-- April 14. Her book, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T was USA Book News' Best Professional Book and an Irwin Award winner. Her THE FRUGAL EDITOR will be released this spring.

Howard-Johnson may be reached at (
Information is also available at


5 PM
WHERE: James West Alumni Center on the UCLA Campus

Visit Carolyn and learn more about the consulting and strategies panel at -- click on the link to find out more.

Hope to see you there!

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Front Range Author Signs Bestseller

Dynamic author and good friend, Sandi Ault, returns from her national book tour to the Front Range THIS SATURDAY to read and sign her BESTSELLING NOVEL Wild Indigo! If you're in Colorado or the surrounding area, this is not to miss...


Sandi Ault at Borders Books & Music:
Saturday March 31st:
12 Noon - 2 PM
1750 29th St., Boulder, CO
Phone: 720-565-8266


Sandi Ault at The Readers Cove:
Saturday March 31st:
4 - 6 PM
1001 E. Harmony Rd., Fort Collins, CO
Phone: 970-266-1618

WILD INDIGO, a mystery published by Berkley Prime Crime, has achieved critical acclaim. The New York Times called it "a striking debut" with "thrills galore!"

WILD INDIGO has appeared on eight bestsellers lists since its release in January, 2007 including The Boulder Daily Camera Local Hardcover Bestsellers and The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.

Beryl did a fabulous interview with Sandi Ault -- to check it out, CLICK HERE. This is a MUST-READ interview!

To visit Sandi Ault's website, go to: or to find out more, email Sandi at:

Sandi has achieved bestseller status, and it's not too surprising since she has Betsy Amster as her agent! Betsy has a great eye for picking talent. To read our WOW! interview with Betsy, CLICK HERE.

Join the fun! If you're nearby Colorado, we hope you take this wonderful opportunity to meet Sandi Ault -- the wonderful writer behind Wild Indigo and an amazing woman.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Mandy Vicsai Writes on our Contest Prompt!

As you may know, we don't allow the First, Second, or Third Place Winners to submit to our flash fiction contest for three seasons. It keeps things fair that way and also takes the pressure off the contestant who won! But of course, we're always interested in reading your stories, so even if you did win the whole enchilada and want to submit your story to us to keep those fingers tapping, we'd be happy to publish it.

Next Sunday will be April 1st, and we're excited! Not just because it's April Fool's Day, but because that's when all our contest winners are published. And no, there will be no joking around about that! So, to warm you up and get you in the spirit of the wonderful entries you're going to be able to read soon, Mandy Vicsai gave us her permission to post her take on our Winter 2007 prompt. Of course, she cannot win anything, so this is just for fun. Enjoy!

To refresh your memory, the prompt: You have made the last payment on your car. You want to celebrate in a unique way, because...well, what would be more unique than paying off a vehicle these days? You have your credit card in hand, decide to pick one person and take off for a week. Whom do you choose and where do you go?

Independence Day

by Mandy Vicsai

I beep the horn three times. Ida Forsyth steps onto the porch.
“She’s all mine,” I tell her, running a loving hand over Betsy’s steering wheel. Betsy is a 1998 Dodge Neon. Sure she’s got over 85,000 miles on the dial, but she was priced right. And she’s my new favourite colour – silver.

“Your first car,” Ida coos.
“Exactly!” I say. “Cel-e-bra-tion time! Let’s christen this baby. Pack a bag and leave a note. We’re goin’ down the highway!” I wave my credit card.
Ida disappears inside.
“Only ten pieces of make up,” I call after her. “That’s individual pieces, not suitcases full. You don’t need to hide every wrinkle you think you have.”

Ida needs a take-it-as-it-comes, anything-goes road trip after those idiots at the grocery store told her she was too old to price cans of beans. I swear if you’re old enough to earn more than three bucks an hour you’ve priced yourself out of employment. There’s a trucker’s bar just out of town. Quite frankly we could both use a drink.

It’s my family that’s driving me nuts. Ida’s are over-protective; like she’d snap in a light breeze. Mine list isolated instances of youthful exuberance and claim they’re proof I can’t manage my own life.
“The civic fountain is not a swimming pool.”
“Fried taquitos and chocolate cake are not dinner.”
“And stop making gooey eyes at the new pastor. It’s embarrassing.”

“I’m just their live-in babysitter,” I tell Ida as we cruise. “I baby sit for other folks on our block too; seems nobody has time for their kids anymore.”
“Still, you’ve earned enough to buy a car,” she says.
“Yes, I’ve at least done that.”

I park at Trucker’s Rest. A sign reads, “No Minors.” Ida and I giggle. Inside we plonk ourselves on two bar stools.
“Bartender, we’ll have Sex on the Beach, please.”
“Mary Clare!”
I can feel the warmth of Ida’s blush and whisper, “It’s a drink.”
“I’ll need some ID,” the bartender says seriously. He examines my driver’s license then peers at me.
“Just got that last month,” I tell him.
“Congratulations,” he says.
“Bought her first car, too. Paid off and everything,” adds Ida proudly.
“Had to,” I explain. “I need my independence. Family can be very . . . confining.”
The bartender nods and sets our drinks on little white napkins. He winks playfully.
“On the house.”

“Ida,” I say thoughtfully. “Move in with me.”
“What about your daughter and her family?”
“It’s my house Ida. They’ll have to leave.”
“They think you’re still grieving.”
“I’m not,” I say. “Life’s too short. One year’s enough. Drink up. Let’s hit that road.”

We settle into Betsy’s charcoal seats. A pimply youth in a rusty pick-up honks his horn and shouts, “Come on Grandma, don’t die with your foot on the brake.”

I shake my silver curls. Young people today. I flip the whipper snapper the bird and singe his adolescent nostril hairs with the acrid stench of burning rubber.


Mandy Vicsai's Bio: Mandy divides her professional time between copywriting and creative writing. She aims to entertain, inspire and empower with her stories and is currently finishing her first novel. Mandy believes you are never too young - nor too old - to fulfil a dream. In fact, she has recently begun the journey to a long-held ambition - learning karate. Together with her husband Peter and feline friend, Pussycat, Mandy calls Melbourne Australia home.

Note: Mandy is the First Place Winner in the WOW! Women On Writing Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest. She also wrote an article for our March issue's HOW 2 Column. She continues to amaze us with her creative fiction and non-fiction writing.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, March 23, 2007


Brief Anatomy of a Press Release

A Press Release can be anything from a simple ad for your website, company, product or service. Basically, in writer's terms, it's a short newsworthy blurb of a couple paragraphs or more. Like a flash fiction contest, you're going to have to trim the filler to get to the main course -- a scrumptious, bite-sized piece that's easy to digest. So, let's examine the ingredients:

Headline (Title):
A short, snappy, relevant headline that grabs the reader's attention.

A brief paragraph, or blurb that tells a story at a glance and makes the reader want to dive in.

This is the content of your press release -- the main course. The points you want your reader to digest, eat up, and have an appetite for more! The sole purpose of the content is to attract an editor's attention (much like a query). Keep it succinct. Don't ramble. Your goal is to garner a feature article, story, or simply get an editor to publish your material. (Note: most press releases -- even web -- have the city and state listed first, then the date of the release.)

Contact Info:
How should an editor contact you if they wish to acquire additional information? That's what you need to include here. Don't forget your name, email, and website address! (Note: This information can be placed before the headline, or afterward)


Here's an example of a Press Release that Beryl wrote for our current issue:


Beryl Hall Bray and Angela Miyuki Mackintosh
Editors, WOW! Women On Writing

An Extraordinary Find for the Literate

Summary: Enjoy and explore the wonderful world of publishing, access rare, important interviews with Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, Ann Moore/Time Inc., Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins and other informative articles.

Anaheim, CA -- March 5, 2007 -- Everyone from NY publishers, through editors, agents, and authors on to readers will unearth something of interest in the latest issue of WOW! Women On Writing? Why? Because The Big House issue has rare interviews with three of the top women in the publishing world, giving us insights into the empire affecting the very books on booksellers’ shelves--that feed our hearts and minds.

These articles afford us an unexpected glimpse into remarkable, professional, successful women who garner the cream of the crop in the literary world: Ann Moore/Time Inc., Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, and Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins.

But, there is more. The feature Deconstructing the Big House was meticulously researched--clearly laying out how the big six publishing entities are set up. It makes it easy to identify the niches, the specialties, of various publishers, within the hierarchies.

This article describes the big houses, Who they are, What they own, Where they are located, When they merged, and Why they do what they do. The Big Six List contains tons of useful links for aspiring authors and readers who wish to discover different publishers to locate more of their favorite genre.

WOW! has been consistent in interviewing award-winning notables from the world of writing, while becoming a showcase for up and coming new talent. The three interviews, the overview of the Big House, other articles and columns make this an excellent resource for learning more about your literary world.



  • Include a compelling, but relevant headline
  • Keep it brief
  • Don't make any wild claims or exaggerations
  • Don't send out a press release just because you want to create traffic -- make sure that you have interesting material to submit to the press
  • Keep it under 500 words
  • Proof read
  • For web -- include links back to your website within the press release body if appropriate, and of course, in your contact details.
Including your link within your press release body and contact details will help you get picked up by search engines when submitting to press release distribution services. This is a handy way of creating internet buzz!

For your reference, here are some free press release sites:
(Note: some require a sign-up)

**We do not endorse these sites, but provide them for informational purposes only. Please read all of their guidelines and terms before submitting.

These sites provide great general press release distribution, but for specific content, such as advertising your book, new writer's website, or writing service, we suggest that you submit directly to publications that you wish to garner interviews, buzz, or articles with. Targeting your PR is much more effective. Just be sure to make your press release enticing, as you would a query, and you'll be sure to get some well-earned buzz. Good luck!

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Award-Winning Author Center Ring at Book Expo America!

Who's going to BEA? I'll tell you who!

Our friend and Award-winning author Carolyn Howard-Johnson will be at the Biblio Booth at Javits Center in New York City at 1 pm Friday, June 1, signing her new Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success.

The Frugal Editor is the second in the author's HowToDoItFrugally series after The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't. She has a new website to support the launch of this new book. The site features the author, her literary work and how-to books, but it is also designed to give both readers and writers information they want and need.

The Frugal Editor was written, Howard-Johnson says, because "there are gremlins out there determined to keep authors' work from being published, our books from being promoted. They resolve to embarrass us before gatekeepers who can turn the key of success for us. They lurk in out subconscious and the depths of our computer programs." The Frugal Editor will help writers of every ilk present whistle-clean copy (whether it's a one-page cover letter or an entire manuscript) to those who have the power to say "Yea" or "Nay."

Howard-Johnson was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by the 43rd and 44th District of the California Legislature. Her first novel, This is the Place, and her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, are both multiple award winners. She speaks frequently, is an instructor for UCLA Extension Writers' Program and has appeared on TV and hundreds of radio stations nationwide.

The author's first book in the HowToDoItFrugally series was named USA Book News' Best Professional Book and given the Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin Award.

At the famous Book Expo America where the publishing industry convenes at different cities throughout the nation in different years, Howard-Johnson will sign and give her copies of her new release to publishing professionals.

Howard-Johnson is the founder of Authors' Coalition

She has also been featured on WOW! in our Inspiration Column - a perfect place for Carolyn Howard-Johnson to be!

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, March 19, 2007


Call for Inspiring True Stories

The bestselling Cup of Comfort book series is actively seeking uplifting true stories for five new volumes. Stories must be uplifting, original, and 1000-2000 words. Preference given to narrative nonfiction stories that read like fiction. $500 grand prize; $100 ea. all other stories published, plus copy of book. No entry fee. Email submissions to; no attachments; 1 story per email; include your name and mailing address. Writer's guidelines: (click on Share Your Story).

A Cup of Comfort for Single Mothers

As Oprah Winfrey has often said, parenting is the most difficult and important job in the world. It can be even tougher for single mothers, who face all the usual parenting challenges plus a whole set of unique ones. But single motherhood also brings many untold rewards. For this anthology honoring single mothers, we seek inspiring personal stories that speak to the challenges, positive experiences, and extraordinary relationships of single mothers and their children. The majority of stories in this collection will be written from the single mother's point of view, but the book will also include some stories written by children of single mothers as well as by third parties with intimate knowledge of the single mother and her children.
Submission Deadline: 3/30/07 (Last Call!)

A Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers

This anthology celebrating the powerful, almost magical, bond between horses and humans will feature inspiring true stories that reveal the extraordinary impact these magnificent creatures have on the people who ride, own, raise, train, race, care for, and rescue them. We want stories that portray horses as companions, helpers, messengers, healers, teachers, heroes, and inspirational forces in people's lives as well as stories about the incredible things that people do out of love for a horse or horses.
Submission Deadline: 5/15/07

A Cup of Comfort for Cat Lovers

Cats are among the most fascinating, entertaining, and endearing pets on earth. For this collection, we seek the best cat stories never told -- original and compelling testaments to the deep connection between cats and the people who love them as well as heartwarming and humorous tales about truly amazing felines. Most of the stories in the book will be about domestic cats (pets), but we are also interested in stories about feral and exotic cats.
Submission Deadline: 7/01/07

A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors

It has been said that "stories are medicine" and that "one of the most valuable things we can do to heal one another is to share our stories." This volume gives the healing power of story to women (and men) who have survived breast cancer, enabling them to share their inspiring triumphs and courageous trials with others who have beat breast cancer as well as with those who are currently dealing with breast cancer. We want uplifting stories about the experiences and emotions involved in battling and surviving breast cancer. Possible story themes include but are not limited to: diagnosis, treatment, emotional impact, support systems, healing practices, coping mechanisms, effect on loved ones, effect on personal and/or professional life, life after recover, prognosis, positive post-cancer outcomes.
Submission Deadline: 8/15/07

A Cup of Comfort for Spouses & Children of People with Alzheimers

What happens when the person who raised you or the person with whom you raised your children slowly becomes a child who doesn't know you? What if that loved one changes so drastically that he or she is virtually a stranger to you? What if that person is difficult to deal with and requires substantial assistance? How will the reality of having a spouse or parent with Alzheimers affect you and your family -- emotionally, financially, physically, socially, personally, professionally? The inspiring stories in this collection will answer those questions and more -- and will show how love prevails and how lives thrive when a spouse or parent has Alzheimers.
Submission Deadline: 10/15/07

A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women

Divorce in the 21st century should come with an instruction manual, a release valve, and a support system. This anthology will serve essentially those three purposes, in the form of comforting, insightful, and inspirational stories about surviving and thriving during and after divorce. We seek uplifting, contemporary stories on a wide range of topics of importance to divorced women -- including but not limited to: dating, children, relationship with ex, in-laws, finances, friends, solitude, personal transformation, healing, revenge, mending fences, the ex's new wife or lover, empowerment, rediscovery of self. The majority of stories will be written by women who are or have been divorced. Stories can be poignant, irreverent, humorous, witty, or wise.
Submission Deadline: 12/31/2007

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Update on Winter 2007 Flash Fiction Contest

Dear Contestants,

We have sent out an e-mail to the Top 10 entries, so be sure to check your in-boxes, and your bulk mail, just in case! Always remember to add our e-mail address ( to your contact list, so you are assured to receive notices.

The Honorable Mention e-mails will not go out until next week. They will also be posted in a feature article April 1st. Stay tuned! There were so many good entries this time, and in our opinion, most of them were excellent. We are looking forward to finding out as well! Thanks again, and we appreciate your patience.

Warmest regards,

Angela & Beryl


Tuesday, March 13, 2007


This American Life at Royce Hall - I went!

Event Review:

This American Life
UCLA Royce Hall
March 12, 2007
8:00 - 10:30
"What I Learned From Television"

WOW! I'm still pinching myself! What a rare opportunity to see my favorite radio show, This American Life with Ira Glass, live on stage! If you missed it, all I can say is that I hope they do another one some day. This was a once-in-a-lifetime event. I'll do my best to capture the moment. Then you'll just have to listen to the edited version of this radio show when it comes out, later on this month.

Those of you who are unfamiliar with This American Life will have to visit their site and listen to one of their free podcasts. I urge you to do so... this is some of the best entertainment out there today!

Each show features a theme and three acts. Topics range from Fiasco's (one of my favorite shows) to summer camps, liars, babysitting, and accidental documentaries. Each show has writers and authors who contribute their spoken word, as well as 'ordinary people' from all walks of life who share their stories. The hour-long broadcast is a mixture of cinematic story telling and a feast for the ears -- great mixing, segues, and thematic music.

Celebrity Sightings! (Okay, I put this here first to grab your attention, and make you read further)

I knew the show was about to start because a guy in a suit was walking around with a xylophone, lightly drumming bing-bong. I was sipping cabernet out of a plastic glass while casually standing by a trash can, trying to finish it before I went in. My hubby said, "Down it!" But it's not an easy task to chug wine!

As I stood sipping, I saw a sober-looking Jack Black, dressed in a button-down and jeans, with two lady friends (they did look like his friends, not dates) on either side. He looked refreshed, healthy, and much more handsome in person. He's actually around the same size as my hubby! Not too tall, not with the camera-weight, and just a down-to-earth looking guy. In Hollywood, there is no real fanfare, so people pretty much ignore celebs, Jack included. Plus, you have to think... this crowd is devoted to public radio... and unconcerned with celebrity sightings. Myself included, but hey, some of you are into this, and news is news! (or gossip anyway)

I admit, I'm not too savvy at remembering names, but I do remember faces. So when reached across Catherine Keener to grab a paper towel in the restroom, I recognized her I immediately. She gave me a warm smile, a double-take, and I said, "Hi," and commented on her top, which was the same color as mine. Instantly, her multitude of characters and movies flashed through my head: Being John Malkovich, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Capote. All of which she'd done amazing work, and won several awards, including her Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Being John Malkovich. In person, she was absolutely adorable!

There were many others, stand up comedians, broadcasters... however, their names escape me...

Onto the Show:

The lights dimmed and the band OK Go came on stage. They played a song I hadn't heard before about television. Wow... is all I can say. What dynamic performers. They came on stage after every act, and the singer, Damian, even joined in on several impromptu conversations with Ira Glass. When Ira asked what on TV prompted Damian to become a musician (paraphrased), Damian told him Prince; Prince in Purple Rain. Ira then joked, So that's what made you say, Mom, Dad, I'm not going to medical school?

Here's a couple of videos from OK Go:

"Invincible" by OK Go

"Here It Goes Again" by OK Go

Buy OK Go - Oh No at iTunes.

Ira Glass came on stage and told the story of two young boys in elementary school that created 'video cameras' out of cardboard, paper towel rolls, and paint. He went on with his story and then stopped. Spoken word may have worked for his radio show, but for an audience, he said, there needed to be visuals!

He then retold the story, with lights dimmed and animation flowing. It was hilarious! The animation showed how these kids created a trend among their fellow classmates through 'videotaping' -- exemplifying how people act differently behind a camera, and kids are no different. Pretty soon the whole schoolyard was taping each other, and when a fist fight broke out between two boys on the playground, the whole student body crowded around in a circle with their cardboard video cameras 'taping' the fight!

Sarah Vowell came on stage and read a story about pilgrims and Thanksgiving on television. She talked about the education she received from TV, by recalling a Happy Days Thanksgiving episode. Quite entertaining!

Next, John Hodgman was the highlight of the evening, in my opinion. He talked about how television made him famous, and his sudden rise to fame ever since he became the Mac commercial's PC. He told several stories that had me buckling, but I'll share one with you.

(Abbreviated) After coming out of the 'captain's lounge' at the airport -- a room that has a bar, all the comforts of home, including a shower -- a business man struck up a conversation. "You know you should have the company pay for a private jet." John didn't know what to say and started laughing uncomfortably. The business man went on, "You know you can trade some of your pay for a private jet..." John wondered if the business man knew something he didn't and just laughed uncomfortably again. What if this was a set up? Was this business man trying to lure him into flying endlessly around the world with him? He pictured him and this man together, flying from town to town, airport to airport, exchanging their pay for endless private jet trips while their families were left to fend for themselves at home! He laughed uncomfortably again, trying to appease the businessman.

Later on he came to an epiphany, that the business man had obviously recognized him and was just trying to strike up a conversation. It was the first time he realized that HE was actually a celebrity, and that people came up to talk to him because of it. (You'll have to listen to the show... it's much funnier when he tells it!)

As you may have heard, This American Life is going to be a TV show. Many of their diehard fans, including myself, were a little worried that the format would change, the show would bomb, or be a disappointment. Well, we got to see some parts of the show! Chris Wilcha, the director of the show came on and had a conversation with Ira. They talked about the decision whether to put Ira Glass in the show or not, and then showed some extremely funny outtakes. Trust me, the show is going to be a huge hit with everyone, public radio fans and television fans. It's just like the radio show, but with amazing visuals.

Check Out the Trailer!

Dan Savage talked about the stereotypes of homosexuals on TV. When he grew up, they were portrayed as swishy, poodle walkers who cruise parks late at night. He'd sit watching these shows with his dad, and at those moments, the room would become silent, as if his father knew he would grow up to be one. From that day on, he swore he'd never become a poodle walking, swishy gay guy. Years later, his adopted son begged him to get a toy-cup poodle, and now he walks it in the park late at night sometimes, regretfully becoming the stereotype he never thought he would become.

Rounding out the show, Ira Glass talked about his obsession with The OC television show, and played some dialogue from the show that mentioned This American Life! "This American Life... isn't that the show where suburban hipsters sit around talking about ordinary people... Uhg, gawd!"

Then as a bonus, OK Go, came out on stage and did a synchronized dance!

What a great show. If you've never heard This American Life, check out the free podcasts now! You'll be glad you did.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Who's Going to BEA?

Jacob Javits Convention Center, NY, NY

Book Expo America is HUGE, and the WOW! Women On Writing Editors and the WOW! Alumni (contributors, writers, agents, authors, editors, publishers, readers) will be there. Want to meet up with us? We'd love to get to know you! If you're attending, drop us an E-MAIL and we'll do lunch, brunch, or schedule a special Girl's Night Out! We will be covering events, awards, showcases, conferences etc. Join in on the fun!

Some of the WOW! Alumni will have booths that we urge you to check out. What better way to network with your peers? We'll be posting them in the following weeks, so please check back often and schedule your *hit list* of fabulous women you'd like to meet and connect with at this outstanding event.

Note: If you're a WOW! reader/contributor and want us to write about your booth or your attendance at BEA, please e-mail us and we'll be sure and post it. It's going to be a literary bash!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, March 09, 2007


Ask The Book Doctor, Bobbie Christmas

Ask the Book Doctor: About Categorizing Manuscripts, Handling Pet Names and Terms of Endearment, Recommended Manuscript Lengths, and Hiring Practices!

By Bobbie Christmas, author of Write in Style, the triple-award-winning textbook on creative writing.

Q: I am writing a book proposal. How do I categorize my book beyond nonfiction? It is a family saga with issues related to custody, mental illness, individual challenges faced by two young boys and others, and the failure of social services agencies.

A: You are correct in thinking that your proposal will have to clearly define the label on the bookstore shelf where the book should be displayed. My first thoughts are to say that it falls under biography, relationships, and/or psychology, but to be sure, visit a bookstore, find other biographical books on relationships that deal with mental health issues, and see how those books are categorized. I think psychology may be the winner, because it's also a popular category, but to be sure, do your homework by visiting a store.

Q: How and when should one capitalize pet names used in dialogue? Not Fluffy or Rover-type pet names, but things like: dear, honey, sweetie, dear lady, kind sir, baby, babe, etc.

A: According to The Chicago Manual of Style 15th Edition, which applies to book-length fiction and nonfiction, pet names are always lowercased. It gives this example: "Sorry, sweetheart."

This guideline goes against traditional wisdom, which says that if a term of endearment or pet name replaces a name, it should be capitalized.

Q: The length of my story is 162,000 words. If I trim the word count to 120,000 words, would that be of acceptable length for potential publication?

A: I always recommend staying between 50,000 to 100,000 words for a first novel, so 120,000 is pushing the envelope, but it may be okay if the novel warrants it. Literary Agent Susan Graham (About Words Agency) says that 120,000 is the maximum, but it's better if it's less, especially for first-time authors.

She continues: "What I always tell the author is this: Cut, edit, and shape the novel until it's in the best shape it can be in, and it almost always works out to be the right length. If it's still too long, get some advice on big things that can be cut to make it work, but sometimes it isn't possible. In fact, I prefer for authors to forget the word-length issue while editing and instead, focus on making it the best they can."

Q: I want to become a writer. What are some common hiring practices?

A: Because of the many ways writers can be employed, this question is too broad for a simple answer. I can answer only regarding the hiring I have done in my career. Back in the 1970s I was the news editor of a weekly newspaper, and many wannabe writers applied for work there. At first I interviewed each one, studied their portfolios, and spent a great deal of time with them. If I thought they had potential, I assigned a sample article.

To my dismay, most folks never turned in the assignment. I started a new technique. When people said they wanted to write for my paper, I did not waste any of my time; I simply assigned an article. I used the same subject ten or twelve times before someone would finally return with an article on deadline. Those were the people I hired. Perhaps the other folks needed someone standing over them cracking the whip and checking the clock. I needed people who could work independently and fulfill my needs.

Later I managed the communications department of a large construction firm, where my writers were expected to come to work each day and not be independent contractors. When I hired corporate communicators, I requested an interview and looked over their portfolios, no matter where they had been published. I looked for writers who could not only take an assignment and fulfill it, but they also had to project the right corporate image and fit in well with the rest of our team.

Hiring practices and requirements vary depending upon the company and whether you are expected to be in an office, in the field, or working from home. Find other writers doing the type of writing you would like to do and ask them how they got their jobs. Most will gladly tell you.


Do you have a question for the book doctor? For a personal response, ask Bobbie Christmas, a professional book editor. E-mail Bobbie Christmas at

Subscribe today to The Writers Network News, a free newsletter for writers of all types. Go to and click on "Free Newsletter." Double opt-in system ensures no spam. Honest!

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Craft of Writing Magazines: Web Resources

Looking for other online magazines seeking submissions? Here's a few you may want to check out this coming weekend, and get ahead of the game!


Anotherealm offers writers some good science fiction stories and help with writing better science fiction themselves. It's definitely a fun and valuable resource for those interested in science fiction.


The website for Associated Writing Programs provides information about important writers' conferences as well as writing programs at our nation's colleges and universities. The site also contains an online version of The Writer's Chronicle, information about writing contests, and lists of resources for writers.


FictionAddiction is filled with articles on the craft of writing and even has one on what gifts to get a writer. Also included are book reviews and a question & answer feature hosted by Anne Bowling (editor of Novel & Short Story Writer's Market).


Poetic Voices serves as a tool for poets with its information on conferences, contests, and other events around the country. It also features poetry written by the readers as well as advice from other poets about the craft.


The e-Writer's Place is dubbed "The electronic magazine for every writer" with its articles full of sound advice and links to other writing resources on the web.

For a complete listing of writer's markets, go to

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Interview with Colleen O'Brien - Runner Up in the Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest

As you may know, we interview the top 10 contestants of each season and post the interviews as they roll in. Well, we just heard from Colleen O'Brien, runner up in the Fall 2006 WOW! Contest! And we're happy to hear that she's doing well. So, join us in a treat as we complete our interviews for our Fall season, as we chat with Colleen and find out what she's been up to.

WOW: Colleen, we loved your bitter-sweet story, Pom-Poms and Promises. Can you tell us what inspired you to write it?

The prompt! Ok, seriously, I enjoy writing about teen angst, and I thought it would be a great exercise for me to help improve my writing skills.

WOW: Well, I think the 'exercise' paid off; congratulations on a great entry! How much editing did you have to do to get the word-count down?

A lot! I wanted to say so much more! Having a 500 word limit makes you realize the value of every single word. I do a lot of copywriting with word count limits, so the "word count" feature in MS Word is my best friend!

WOW: I must agree, and I often wonder what writers did before computers. You mentioned that you do a lot of copywriting, and in your bio you said that you own a marketing consulting business. How do you find time to write for yourself? Do you have a schedule?

It’s not easy! I try to make it a priority, but sometimes it doesn’t work, as I enjoy a roof over my head and regular meals. I don’t write as often as I should, but I’m hoping to change that this year. I don’t have a writing schedule, but I desperately need one!

WOW: How far along are you with the novel you're writing? And how has the process been for you?

I have about 90% of it written. Throughout the process, I’ve been plagued by such self-doubt, which I’ve learned is typical of new writers. It’s been a great experience, though. One during which I’ve learned a lot about myself.

WOW: That's what it is... a learning process that is also very spiritual, because you're really digging inside and pulling out. Self-doubt is normal, but try not to read too many how-to-write-a-novel type books, it can be discouraging. One thing I do suggest though, is to read novels that interest you. You can never go wrong with that. Do you have any favorite authors?

I love Marian Keyes. Her work is so engaging and relatable. And no one can suck me into a story like Maeve Binchy. I also love Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris. They’ve had life experiences that might make lesser men curl up and die, but they manage to communicate their stories with irony and humor.

WOW: Oh, I love David Sedaris' stories, especially hearing them on This American Life, which ignites my writing and ignites my soul. How about you... what does writing do for your soul?

Colleen: It reminds me that I actually have a voice. I become more self-confident when I can write something I'm happy with. (But are we ever really completely happy with what we write?)

WOW: Good question, but sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet! Although I must say, novels are the hardest to let go, especially if you're a perfectionist. It's almost like raising a child, or a pet... and speaking of furry friends, we noticed the picture of your canine companion! Can you tell us a bit about him/her?

Colleen: Since the last contest, I have taken in another dog, and been elected to the board of the organization from which I got him. (How’s that for jumping in with both feet?) Both of my golden retrievers have come from one of the largest golden retriever rescue organizations in the country. Peyton is 1 ½ and Seamus is 2. Though their personalities couldn’t be more dissimilar, they’re best pals! I don’t know what I ever did without them!

WOW: Aw... you'll have to send us pics! So, do you have any writing goals for this year?

Write more! I’ve been procrastinating when it comes to finishing my book, but I absolutely have to do it this year.

WOW: Somehow, I think you will get right on track with that... WOW! may just have some surprises to announce very soon. Sorry, I don't mean to be a tease... but, just know that we're here to support you all the way! ;) So Colleen, how has the Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest been for you?

Colleen: It was unbelievable! I’ve written for a while, but just for myself. I certainly never called myself a “writer.” I entered the contest on a lark, and when I heard I was in the top ten, I was so excited! It’s really helped me realize that I can do this. This whole experience has provided a much-needed confidence boost for me! Thank you!

WOW: That makes us smile from ear to ear.

If you didn't get a chance to read Colleen O'Brien's entry Pom-Poms and Promises, CLICK HERE, you won't be disappointed!

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 05, 2007


Carolyn Howard-Johnson Launches New Website

Award-winning author Carolyn Howard-Johnson presents her new website just in time for the launch of her new book, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. The HowToDoItFrugally site features the author, her literary work and how-to books, but it is also designed to give both readers and writers information they want and need.

Of particular interest to the editors of websites, blogs, e-zines and newsletters is the "Free Articles 4 Writers and Editors" page where Howard-Johnson regularly posts articles on writing, book reviews, and essays. General readers will appreciate the "Links for Readers" page that not only lists books by category but also websites that specialize in reviews to help readers select their reading and reference materials. A similar page for writers lists resources writers need for everything from tekky stuff to book promotion to writers' conferences and tradeshows.

Howard-Johnson was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment this year by the 43rd and 44th District of the California Legislature Her first novel, This is the Place, and her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, are both multiple award winners. She speaks frequently, is an instructor for UCLA Extension Writers' Program and has appeared on TV and hundreds of radio stations nationwide.

The author's first book The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't is the first in the HowToDoItFrugally series. It was named USA Book News' Best Professional Book and given the Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin Award.

On visitors will find a media room, downloadable media kits and even information on Authors' Coalition, an organization the author founded.


To read one of Carolyn's articles we featured on WOW! CLICK HERE

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Guess who's Judging the Whim's Place Flash Fiction Contest?

That's right ladies... it's your humble Editor, Angela of WOW! Women On Writing

I know many of you are itching to enter another flash fiction contest, now that our Winter Contest has closed. Why not try your hand at writing for a totally different site?

Whim's Place has been hosting flash fiction contests for quite a long time (waaaay before ours). They offer great prizes, and have a flexible topic... your own. It's 500 words or less (like ours), but it's a free-for-all! So, go crazy on the topic and let your voice be heard. What better way to do some free writing!


You can check out their previous winners on their site.



Get those entries in, and I'll be happy to judge 'em! Best of luck!


Thursday, March 01, 2007


The Query Letter: Your Tool For Success

By Patricia L. Fry

If you want to get published, you have to make a good first impression when approaching an editor or publisher. How? Write a good—no, write a great query letter.

Why is the query letter so important? It saves everyone a lot of time. Editors are more likely to look at a one-page letter than an entire manuscript. And you don’t have to write the piece until you know there’s an interest. Often, an editor will suggest changes to your initial idea. If the article is already written, you’ll have to do a rewrite.

For example, two years ago, I queried Technology and Learning Magazine about an article on preparing girls for careers in technology. Instead, the editors asked me to write about public relations programs in American schools. I recently queried Children’s Voice about an article highlighting the healing powers of gardening for at-risk children. The editors saw more merit in a piece featuring specific gardening programs for kids, however. These are only a few examples showing the benefits of querying first.

While there is plenty of room for creativity when writing a query letter, there are also certain standards. Following is the anatomy of a query letter:

1: Date your letter and address it to the appropriate editor. If the source you’re using for contact information is over six-months old, I suggest confirming the information. Use a current issue of the magazine or their website, for example. If you’re not sure how old your information is, send an Email or call to verify the contact information.

2: State your intent. Identify your correspondence as a query letter. I typically write, “I’d like to propose an article featuring…” Or I might start my letter with an attention-getting statement. Here’s an example: “Do people often interrupt you when you’re talking? Are your comments sometimes ignored? Do you feel inadequate when expressing your ideas in a business meeting? In a recent survey, over fifty-percent of the women polled said they do not feel as though they’re taken seriously at work. My article, ‘Be Heard: How to Get People to Listen When You Speak’ could change your life.”

3: Give a synopsis of your proposed article or book. Briefly and succinctly describe your story and your slant. Introduce your experts and/or supply a list of research sources and one or two sample anecdotes. Avoid inundating the editor with details, but don’t play guessing games, either. Be straightforward in your presentation. Give the editor everything she needs in order to make her decision while keeping the synopsis portion within a paragraph or two.

4: Demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. Hopefully, your article or book idea is on target for this magazine or publisher. That’s the first indication that you’ve done adequate research. If you believe that your article is a good fit for a particular column, mention it. Also, state your proposed word count based on the magazine’s or publisher’s guidelines

5: List your qualifications. If you have a particular expertise related to your proposed topic, mention it. In a query letter for my article on handling the irate customer, I revealed that I worked for two years in customer relations and attended workshops on this subject. When querying for my article about helping instead of criticizing neighborhood kids, I told about my affiliation with a youth mentoring organization and a Neighborhood Watch program. When querying about a writing or publishing-related book, I would provide my resume as a freelance writer/author/publisher.

6: Give your writing credits. This is no time to be modest. List your most significant and pertinent works. If you’ve sold anything similar to this topic, say so. If you’re hard-pressed to come up with appropriate writing credits, go ahead and mention your work on the church newsletter or the fact that you’re a 4th grade teacher. Send a couple of published clips, if available.

7: End it. I generally close with something like, “Please let me know if you’re interested.” In the case of a rather complicated piece, I might say, “If you’d like to see a more detailed outline, please let me know.

8: Keep things simple. Make it easy for the editor to work with you. First, find out how the editor prefers that you send your letter—regular mail, email or fax, for example. This information generally appears in their Guidelines for Writers (usually available on their web site or by request through the mail). Send just what the editor requests (a query letter and 3 published clips, for example). If he or she wants more later, they’ll ask.

Like many writers, I have a web site. At the end of my letter, I often add my website address and write after it, “for more about me.”

Keep your query letter to one page if at all possible. I’ve been known to spill over to a page and a half when I have several experts and research sources to list and that’s forgivable.

Additional tips (and these are important, too):

• Neatness counts.
• Always include a self-address-stamped envelope (SASE).
• Log every transaction. List date sent, magazine/publisher name and article/book description. Leave a space to record any notes.

The Waiting Game

Waiting for a response is sometimes difficult. With the advent of email, however, the waiting period can be eliminated completely in some instances. I’ve been rejected (or had an article accepted) just minutes after emailing a query. But expect to wait for anywhere from 10 days to 3 months after sending a query letter by mail. The average wait is probably 4 – 6 weeks. Before using email to query, make sure this is okay with the editor. While some editors adore this mode of communication, others will not look at anything that isn’t sealed in an envelope.

I like to use email, because, generally, an editor will respond more swiftly. Some editors and publishers never respond. My records indicate that nearly one-third of the query letters I sent last year were ignored. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? And the waiting game can be most annoying.

New writers, especially, often lose patience with editors who take their time to respond. One way around this discomfort is to avoid putting all of your hopes and dreams into that one query letter.

I don’t wait for query responses anymore because I’m too busy sending out new queries.
Send your query to more than one editor. Write new queries on different topics. Be productive and you won’t get stuck in wait mode

Here are some additional tips:

• Wait at least 4 – 6 weeks before inquiring about a query or a manuscript. Then send a tracer letter stating, “According to my records, on January 12, 2002, I queried you about an article featuring techniques for attracting birds to your patio garden. I’m writing now to inquire as to the status of that idea.” I’ve sold several articles by following through like this. Editors misplace letters. Sometimes queries are never received.
• Set goals. Send a query on a new topic every day or submit three queries per week, for example. I send between 30 and 50 queries each month.

For those of you who are still a little overwhelmed by the idea of writing a query letter, I’ve devised this guide. Ask yourself the following questions to help you write that query.

1. To whom shall I address this query?
2. What type of material is this publication requesting? (How-to articles, essays, exposes, inspirational pieces…?)
3. What do I have to offer them that might meet their current needs?
4. What aspect of my idea will appeal to them most?
5. How can I let the editor know that I’m familiar with his publication/publishing company?
6. How can I convince the editor/publisher that I can create a good and credible story from this topic?
7. How can I convince the editor/publisher that I am the person to write this piece?
8. How can I make it easy for the editor/publisher to work with me?


Patricia Fry is a full-time freelance writer and the author of 25 books. Her latest book contains sample query letters. Order, “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book” today at CLICK HERE. Visit Patricia’s BLOG often.

Labels: , , ,