Friday, February 29, 2008


Take Advantage of Extra Time

by LuAnn Womach

If you pay close attention to what people say, it seems most think they don't have enough time to accomplish everything.

I admit, I am a guilty party. I always find time to write, but I could always use more. If my daily routine is thrown off kilter because of something related to the farm or if I'm needed to substitute in an area school, I silently brood and wonder how I'm going to make up the time I'm missing from my daily routine.

Okay, so maybe that's a little obsessive-compulsive, but after spending so many years wanting to write on a full-time basis, and now having that opportunity, I become a wee bit territorial when something - or someone - trespasses on my time.

But since today is Leap Day, I'm going to take advantage of the extra 24 hours extended to my schedule and fill it with writing activities that I've been putting off until 'when I have more time.'

Why do we have a Leap Year? It's simple. Using a calendar with 365 days each year would result in a loss of time - .2422 days or six hours - to be exact. If we followed this pattern for 100 years, the calendar would be more than 24 days ahead of the season. By adding a leap year every four years, the difference between the calendars and the seasons reduces, allowing the calendar to align with the seasons on a more accurate basis.

In the Gregorian calendar, leap years are determined by three criteria:
  • Every year divisible by 4 is a leap year
  • Of those years, if it is divisible by 100, it is not a leap year, unless...
  • the year is divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.

Confused? It's okay, I was too, but, by following the criteria, 1800, 1900, 2100, 2200, 2300, and 2500 are not leap years. What about 2000 and 2400? Leap years. Definitely.

While no calendar system is perfect, the Gregorian calendar, which we use today, comes the closest. But do note: we lose one full day's worth of productivity in 3,236 years.

I guess I'll have to learn to deal with it.

Many traditions and folklore surround the addition of the extra day. In some areas of the world, a tradition was born on this day: a woman could propose to marriage to a man, and if he declined, he would have to pay a penalty. The tradition originated in from an old Irish legend noting that St. Bridget struck a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men every four years.

Several interesting historical events have taken place on Leap Day. In 1692, the first accusations began during the Salem Witch trials. The first 'walk/don't walk' street signs were installed in the Big Apple on this date in 1952. And in 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Academy Award. She portrayed 'Mammy' in Gone With the Wind.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Keeping Your Vision Before You

Writing can be a solitary profession. Writers spend a lot of time alone, trying to find the right words, the perfect phrasing, and the unexpected plot twists. When things don’t come together the way that you wish they would, discouragement settles in. Then that nagging little voice in the back of your head reminds you of all the reasons you should quit. It says you’re not good enough, that you’re not creative or clever enough to be a professional writer.

If you’re a novice writer, or even well on your way into the publishing world, turning off your inner nagger can be hard. But in order to be successful in this business, learning how to do just that is crucial.

Even the most seasoned professionals suffer from the constant pestering of an inner nagger. But they’ve learned to push through their fears by replacing self-doubt with focused optimism.

Here are a couple of ways that can help build your confidence and put a muzzle on your inner nagger.

1. Get a Vision. Many highly successful people keep vision boards in their offices or private work spaces. A vision board is a visual representation of your goals and aspirations. Making one can be fun and easy. Mine contains positive affirmations about perseverance and writing. It also has many pictures of things that I want to achieve in the future – becoming an awesome cook, vacationing in a tropical getaway, publishing a bestseller….. When the inner nagger strikes, take a good look at your vision board and remember why you write.

2. Get Connected. Many writers join critique groups while other cringe at the idea. If a critique group is not for you, consider forming or joining a mastermind group. In many regards, a mastermind group is similar to a writers’ critique group. But members of a mastermind group often include people from different professions. What joins them together is a common goal – to be highly successful at whatever they do. In addition to offering encourage and support, group members hold each other accountable to achieving preset goals. Plus, no one has to read your writing unless you want them to. A mastermind group also offers networking opportunities and is fertile ground for new ideas that can fuel your writing.

3. Get Inspired! Figure out what gets your motor running. Does music inspire you? Motivational quotes? Stories of perseverance? Art? Oprah? Whatever it is, find it, place it close to your work area, and use it whenever that inner nagger raises her irritating voice. I happen to love Celtic music. Whenever I need a boost, I listen to my favorite songs. Mentally, they transport me to a place that boosts my creativity. Find something that does this for you and stick with it. The more you use it, the greater returns of creativity you will reap.

Remember that everyone suffers from doubts and insecurities at times. Plug into people and things that help you keep your vision of successful before you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008



Readers have to have an attraction to a book or else they wouldn't buy it.

Since I’ve finished the first draft of my novel, I’m paying more attention to things like publishing and promoting. What will set my story apart from all the other stories that make their way to an agent's desk?

I believe I have strong, sensitive, charismatic characters and a plot that twists, turns and tantalizes the reader. It will be read, revised, and reformed before it begins its journey to the wild and wonderful world of publications.

What I wonder is why did you purchased the last novel that you bought? Here is a list of common reasons, you may have one that isn’t on the list.

You were already familiar with that author
Recommended by family/friend
Sampled the writing (read a page or two)
Read a review
It was nominated for or won an award
You liked the cover
The positioning in the store
An ad in a magazine/newspaper/radio/TV
You heard the author on TV or the radio
You met the author at a book signing
Because of who published the novel

The last novel I purchased fell into the not-such-a-popular-reason-to-buy-a-book reason. I loved the cover of “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire. The novel I bought before that was “D is for Deadbeat” by Sue Grafton. I bought it because I had already read a few of her books and I really enjoyed her writing style. The plot and characters are okay, but her style and the descriptive words she uses fascinate me.

Sure would like for you to share your reasons for buying the last novel you purchased.


Cher'ley's Creations




With the Fall Contest now closed, I was asked by our wonderful editors of WOW, to sit down with one of the contestants, her name is Sangeetha Narayan. It amazed me how much she and I have in common. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.

WOW: Congratulations, Sangeetha, on becoming one of the Runners Up for your story, “How I Became a Published Writer”. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You have touched so many of us, by sharing your experience with becoming a published writer.

What was your first reaction when you heard that you had been placed in the top 10?

SANGEETHA: Thank You Carrie! I must say, I had a great time going down the memory lane. And then, when the entry got selected in the top 10, it was just an icing on the cake. I was ecstatic, and began to call my friends and family informing everybody about my success! I’m not sure though if they were too pleased about me gloating almost every day for the next couple of weeks... LOL.

WOW: Hey, you deserve to gloat; you did a great job with your piece.

Is WOW!’s writing contest the first you have ever entered or have you entered in other writing contest?

SANGETTHA: Actually, I’d entered a couple of other contests, but didn’t hear anything from them. WOW was the contest that really made my day!

WOW: We are so glad that you did enter the contest. It is so wonderful to see what everyone could do.

In your Bio, it states that you received a Master’s in business commerce, what made you turn to writing?

SANGEETHA: Well, actually I was just casually surfing the net about three or four years ago. I came across this website belonging to Institute OF Children’s Literature. They were offering free aptitude test to check if I had an aptitude in writing for children. I just took the test and sent it. Within a few weeks I started getting mails from them asking me to join their course. It took me a couple of years, but I finally joined the course and received my diploma within a year. I was hooked after that. I guess it was fate.

WOW: That is fantastic that you finished your course so quickly. I also studied with the Institute and found it to be very informative and helpful to my writing as well. I can relate to the excitement that you must have felt when your received the message about getting one of your stories published for a magazine. Was the story for adults or was it a story for children?

SANGEETHA: I remember that day, or should I say morning? I received this email from Ms.Cynthia John, informing me that she liked my story. I was in seventh heaven! It was a very short children’s story based on the theme friendship. I had a very tight word limit … 350 to 420 words. It was an amazing feeling to be finally accepted for publication.

WOW: We all know how difficult it can be to have to make those word counts. It is a challenge and you did a wonderful job making every word count for your story with WOW. I see that you are from Sugarland , Texas . Do you get any of your story ideas from living in Texas ? If so, has living in Texas helped with your writing?

SANGEETHA: Well Carrie, I believe that writers get more ideas from people than a place. I have taken my three year old daughter to a park nearby, observed other people, and come up with some great story ideas. So, I can say that people in Texas have motivated me a lot!

WOW: People do make the story. It is great that you get your ideas from your daughter. I have to admit myself that I also get many story ideas from my children. They are a great source of information. When you are blogging and writing stories for do you write for adults or do you write for children?

SANGEETHA: The website is I write for everybody

--- adults, kids and anyone in between too. It all depends on what kind of ideas I get on a particular day. I’m a great fan of fiction writing as I feel people pay more attention to real-life experiences that have been conveyed in a fictional format.

WOW: It is great to see that you are an eclectic writer and can be so versatile it what you write and for whom you right. If anyone is interested in reading your stories on the website, do you go by your name or do you use a pen name on the website?

SANGEETHA: I write under the pen name …sanghouston. My blog address is

WOW: Thanks for giving us your pen name, I am sure that all of our staff will be excited to check out some of your other work on You mentioned in your Bio that you are writing a young adult novel, can you tell us something about that?

SANGEETHA: I’m actually working on a couple of book ideas. One of my young adult novel will be titled, “How I taught my mom to play tennis!” It is about a young girl who tries to teach her reluctant mother to play tennis.

Well, it sort of touches my personal life because I’m scared of tennis. I’ve tried to play this game a couple of times and have given up now. So, I thought it would be funny if my daughter loved the game and tried to teach me the game. The other one I’ve started writing is an adult fantasy called “The cracked Mirror”.

WOW: Fears can definitely work to our favor when it comes to story ideas. We are glad to see that you could overcome your fear of tennis to come up with such a great story idea. What an interesting title. “The Cracked Mirror” I myself am intrigued. I love a good fantasy. Does the story you are writing come from a child hood experience?

SANGEETHA: Well, I do plan to use a lot of my childhood experiences in the book. They’ll be fictionalized, but my experiences will only enrich my book, at least that’s what I hope!

WOW: I am sure that your experiences will make the story stand out even greater. We wish you all the best of luck with it. Given that the Month of January is dedicated to all of the wonderful readers of our stories out there, do you have any favorite author’s that you enjoy and do you derive any inspiration from their style of writing?

SANGEETHA: I have so many favorites that it just won’t fit in here. But, my most favorite ones are Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Danielle Steel, Louisa May Alcott, Jeffrey Archer … the list just goes on! Each of them have their own favorite style, but what is common is the spell that they cast on their readers. They all have different genres and effectively communicate their views through their characters. Every one of them is amazing and inspires me to do my best!

WOW: I have to say that I am a mystery buff at heart and Agatha Christie is one of the best. You do have a point, they do have a way of casting their spells over us and making pulling us into their stories. Once again congratulations on a wonderful story and placing in the top ten of our contest. We look forward to reading more of your work!

If you would like to check out Sangeetha’s stories please go to You can also check out her story for the Fall Contest contest.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Carrie Hulce

Monday, February 25, 2008


20 Simple Ways to Get Massive Traffic to Your Website

Embarking on an Internet marketing campaign doesn't have to be difficult, tricky, or complicated. Here are a few simple ways (20 in fact) that you can easily implement to get tons of traffic to your site right now!

1) Write articles: believe it or not this is an incredible tool for driving traffic. Well-written, relevant articles can net quite a bit of activity to your web site. Don't forget to add your URL in your byline. Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length. You can send articles to sites like:,, and

2) Social bookmark *everything* - and I do mean everything - you can bookmark each page of your site and each blog entry you post. While this might seem tedious, it's worth it. You'll see a strong increase in traffic if you social bookmark each page on your site and each of your blog entries.

3) List yourself in the best directories - you'll have to pay for this but since most people don't do this (since everyone's looking for a freebie) you could really enhance your traffic by getting a listing:,,

4) Get yourself listed at: - it's not easy to get listed there, but worth the effort.

5) Review: if you can review hot new products or books within your market, head on over to and start positioning yourself as an expert. In order to do this effectively, you'll want to create an Amazon profile and make sure and sign each review with a reference to your URL (your website). You can also go to and to review products as well.

6) Offer a freebie on Craigslist: you'll be amazed at how much traffic you get from a single Craigslist ad. The key here is to send people to a page on your site and make sure they have to sign up for something (like your email newsletter) before they can grab their freebie. That way you're not just getting traffic, you're also building your list.

7) Create a "recommended by" list on your page - you can do this by logging on and creating an account at and then tagging articles, blogs, and other content you think is important to your readership. Then offer this page as a resource site. You can add a link to this page in your email signature line or on your web site.

8) And speaking of your email signature line - do you have one? If you don't, create one. Believe it or not, people do follow these links. You'll be amazed how many folks read email signature lines. I have one and change it several times a year, depending on what we're doing or promoting or what books I have coming out.

9) Lend a helping hand: you can be an answer person at Yahoo Answers - you don't have to spend hours on there, but maybe a few minutes a week. Make sure and include a link back to your site following your answers.

10) Set up a social networking site using,, or Squidoo. It's free and easy to do, just don't forget the all-important link back to your site!

11) Make sure your blog has an RSS feed so if you capture a reader you don't lose them if they forget to bookmark your site or blog.

12) Join relevant groups at Yahoo groups. You'll find everything from groups on growing your small business, writing books, finding your passion, even underwater basket weaving. I dare you to find one that isn't right for what you're promoting. When you do find the right group, join and participate as you can!

13) Podcasting is another great way to drive traffic. Start a podcast by going to Audio Acrobat There are other programs you can use, but I love Audio Acrobat. You can record the podcast over the phone quickly and easily and then hit the "send" button on your computer once it's recorded and the system will syndicate it to 27 podcast directories including iTunes. It's a great way to let people know about you and your web site!

14) Start a blog and then once you do, start commenting on other people's blogs, linking to them from your site or adding them to your blogroll.

15) Inbound links: don't squander your time (or a perfectly good link) on smaller low-traffic sites. Instead spend your time going after high traffic, high quality sites. Good sites should have a PR (page ranking) of 4-6 depending on the market. You can find out what a site's page ranking is by downloading the Google toolbar which comes with a PR feature built in.

16) Start an email newsletter: while it may not seem like a newsletter that you email can drive traffic to your site, you'd be surprised at the effectiveness of this type of promotion. If your newsletter (like your articles) is interesting and relevant to your audience, you'll find that it has a huge pass-through factor, meaning that it is passed from one email subscriber to another. Also, if you have an email newsletter you should never, ever go to a single event without your handy signup sheet. Yes, you can even use offline events to drive traffic to your web site.

17) And speaking of offline efforts: if you're ever quoted in a magazine or other publication, make sure and mention your URL as it's appropriate to the topic. Don't be too pushy about this, but do not forget to tell folks you have a web site that may be a great resource for the topic of your interview.

18) If you have products to sell, why not get a store on eBay? This site gets a tremendous amount of traffic and on your sales page you're allowed to list your URL. It's another great way to get an inbound link and a way for people to find you.

19) Load a video on YouTube and 57 other video sites (if you want to know what these sites are I've listed them on my blog: - if you don't have a video or don't know how to create one, contact us and we'll refer you to our fabulous book video people!

20) While this isn't a tip per se, it's still important. If you're going to go through all the trouble of getting traffic to your site, make sure your site is converting this traffic into something. Get folks to sign up for something, your newsletter, the RSS feed on your blog.

Whatever it is, getting their email address will help you remarket to them when the time is right. Studies show that visitors landing on a site often don't buy the first time. That's ok! You want to get them into your marketing funnel so you can market to them again and again - not in a way that's obtrusive, offensive or downright annoying, but in a way that is helping them with their own mission.

An example of this might be an email newsletter. A helpful, informative newsletter is a fantastic funnel. A blog is another great way to keep people in your marketing loop without bombarding them with "please buy my stuff" email messages. Also, make sure you know what your traffic numbers are before you launch into any Internet marketing campaign. By traffic numbers, I mean how many people are visiting your site. You want to know this so you can gauge a before and after view of your marketing efforts.


Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.


Sunday, February 24, 2008


Got Writer's Block? Go Dish!

Ever gone shopping while hungry? You go to the grocery store for a couple of things and end up with a shopping cart filled with chocolate desserts, salty snacks, and a hefty receipt to match. I hate to admit it, but I fall into this trap all the time. But what about when your writing is as empty as your stomach? You stare at the blank page and blinking cursor, and know that you need to fill it with delicious prose; yet, your words fail you. Why not try adding some culinary creativity to your story?

Here’s an excerpt from The Writer’s Block that may just get your fingers tapping:

We pause to eat at least three times a day—and yet so many writers neglect the powerful sense of taste. One of the most memorable chapters in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is simply called “Chowder,” in which Ishmael enjoys a steaming bowl of stew: “It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt.”

More recently, Laura Esquivel had an international bestseller with Like Water for Chocolate, a novel that includes recipes for Quail in Rose Petal Sauce, Northern-style Chorizo, and Cream Fritters. Each chapter begins with a list of ingredients and notes on preparation, which Esquivel weaves seamlessly into the narrative.

And Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain is practically a primer in country cooking; his characters slaughter hogs, churn apple butter, and cook savory chicken stew.

Prompt: Write a story or scene that centers around an extraordinary meal. The food itself can be quite simple—even as simple as a TV dinner—but the meal should have an important and lasting significance to the characters.

Food is a universal language—so, go dish!

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Saturday, February 23, 2008


One Week Left

Counting today, we have seven days left in this leap-year month.

One of my goals for February is to submit an essay to a magazine I'm trying to break into. To finish and send off the essay by month end, I need to find time this week for editing and polishing my rough draft. In a way, the limited time remaining (along with this public declaration) will help me concentrate on doing the necessary work.

How about you? What writing-related goal do you want to get accomplished by the end of the month? Maybe telling us here will hold you accountable too.

P.S. There's still time to enter WOW!'s Winter Flash Fiction Contest. The deadline is February 28th.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008


Writer's Spring-Greening

I know it's not quite Spring yet, but it's never too early for "Spring-Greening." That's what I like to call cleaning out my office and finding a home for all those things that shouldn't go into a land fill, or even a recycling bin. Here's how to get rid of some of that stuff you have hanging around...the green way.


Batteries: Some stores (like Ikea, for instance) will take your alkaline batteries for proper disposal. Also, you can recycle rechargeable batteries when they finally kick the bucket. Check out RBRC ( to find a drop off site near you. They also take old cell phones.

Cell Phones: Other than RBRC (mentioned above), you can take the cell phone back to the place you bought it from. Some companies, such as T-Mobile and Verizon will recycle all brands of used cell phones. If you don't have access to a nearby store, check out Collective Good (, and turn your cell donation into cash for your charity of choice!

Computers: So many out-of-date, obsolete monster PCs are unnecessarily sent to land fills, but The Christina Foundation ( will pick up any old-but-working machine for redistribution to someone who can use it. Or, if you go through computers frequently, trade in your semi-oldish computer to recycling programs such as Toshiba ( or HP ( For dead computers, visit E-cycling Central (

Fax Machines: Sending faxes online is so much easier! If you've switched to eFax or MyFax, then list your monster space waster at Throwplace ( and send it in as a donation.

Ink: Did you know that the average printer cartridge can take more than 450 years to decompose? The Funding Factory ( and RecycleFund ( will give you cash for empty cartridges, then recycle them! Also, many ink manufacturers and office-supply stores will take them off your hands as well.


Tip: Another good place for getting rid of anything that may not be of use to you, but could help someone else is FreeCycle ( You can list the things (anything) you want to get rid of and someone will pick it up! And conversely, if you are looking for something, you can browse through their listings and request to take whatever it is off of someone else's hands.



Books: If you're a book junkie like I am, you probably have a lot of books sitting around that are taking up space--especially those ones that you thought would be good, but actually weren't your cup of tea. You can always trade them in at your local used bookstore (or thrift store), or drop them off at the library. There are also a lot of sites to exchange books. Book Mooch ( is a good one, and there's also Swap Tree (, and many others. Do a google search for "Book exchange" and see what you come up with. You can also list unwanted volumes on Book Crossing (, a free service that alerts users to books left in public places. Pretty cool, huh?

Computer CDs, DVDs, jewel cases, VHS tapes: Recycle these through Act Recycling (, a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities find work. Also, Green Disk ( will take any hardware lying around the office (up to 20 pounds of monitors, cords, mice, keyboards etc.) for $6.95

Paperwork: If you're anything like me, I know you have a lot of paper lying around. Clear out your filing cabinet and go digital instead! By going digital and recycling paper, take a look at the resources saved per ton of paper: 17 trees, 275 pounds of sulphur, 350 lbs of limestone, 9,000 lbs of steam, 60,000 gal of water, 225 kilowatt hours, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space. Check with your city or local waste management service to find a place for parting with your paper. You can also call 1 (800) CLEANUP for state recycling information.


It's never too late or early to start spring-greening. By de-cluttering your home office, you can simplify your life and get into the writing zone. And it feels good!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008




Spirited Woman is an ever-growing community that is a place for women to connect their passion to the rest of the world. It's all about creative fun for inspired women. In the spirit of that connecting, founder Nancy Mills launched the Spirited Woman Circle, a lively, inspiring series of 1-hour phone "telechats" with famous women authors & media personalities. Nancy's got a knack for drawing in bestselling authors to her series (she's a writer herself and many of the authors are her friends). In the past such phenomenal talents as Fannie Flagg and Janet Fitch have participated, plus dozens more. The chats are a great opportunity to participate in up close and personal conversations with authors you'd probably never get a chance to talk to. This year's line-up is fantastic. To learn more about the 2008 series visit:

FOR 3 LUCKY WOW READERS: Nancy is offering FREE REGISTRATION (a $99 value) to the entire 8-part series starting March 4th. For a chance to become one of the three lucky winners,�enter the contest and tell Nancy why you are the most "spirited woman" writer in the entire country. For instance, do you write from a tent? Are you unbelievably passionate about your craft? Do you perform your words?

JUST SOME SIMPLE CONTEST RULES: Submit (500 words or less) to: NancyMills[at]thespiritedwoman[dot]com by 2/25/08. Please put "WOW CONTEST" in the subject line. Winners will be chosen by 2/29/08. In your e-mail submission BE SURE to include your name & phone # with area code. One submission allowed per person. Permission is granted to publish the winning answers and to be put on the Spirited Woman mailing list.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Interview with WOW! Runner Up Julie Anderson Slattery

Julie Anderson Slattery enjoys a good challenge. This WOW! Fall Contest runner up moved from Missouri to New York City. She also changed jobs from trade magazine writer, to editor of consumer magazines and now writes fiction. “Ferry to the Show”, her beautiful, rhythmic personal essay about the Big Apple and being alone in the big city, drew us in and touched our hearts.


WOW: Julie, in your winning story, you write about your first impressions of New York City. Was it therapeutic to write about “your city” in light of the 9/11 tragedy?

Julie: Always! I've written about 9/11 several times. My husband was working in the World Financial Center and we were on the phone when the second plane hit. Our call was disconnected and I didn't talk to him again until he arrived home just after lunch. We were really lucky, but so many others, including people in the town we lived in, were not. In addition to the loss of so much life and humanity, I mourn the skyline a great deal. The towers were the anchors of gold I would see on a sunny day on the ferry, and their outline had enabled us to see the city more clearly from New Jersey. It had been so reassuring to see those twin rectangles and know that even if I'd left the city I loved so much, it was close by and visible.

WOW: That was a tragic day for everyone, especially for those living so close. In reading your essay, I felt like I was there with you experiencing the city through your eyes. Do you feel like your experience as the new girl in New York City is pretty typical?

Julie: Certainly, it's typical for the girl who is a stranger to the city. Many of the friends I made had grown up near the city, or were being subsidized by parents, and I think their experience was different; they had a safety net. While these friends are savvy and fun, my bond to the friends who arrived like myself, clueless and alone, is probably stronger.

WOW: Well put. Being alone without a safety net is pretty scary, but it causes you to toughen up pretty quickly. I bet that experience fueled other areas of your writing as well. Julie, you said that you have written in the horror and young adult genres. What draws you to those two categories of fiction? What other genres do you write?

Julie: I was raised on Stephen King. I remember trying to study for an exam in college, and alternating a half hour of review, with an hour of "The Stand." There is something about horror and supernatural themes that help me escape more completely. Perhaps I find life a bit mundane? I always love believing that anything can happen; that anything might be out there. I've written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles and still feel compelled occasionally when a topic entices me. I've also written two children's books that I'm trying to publish. The first is about a reluctant flowergirl who learns that weddings are about more than the chicken dance; the second, ironically, is a humorous book written to help young girls with divorced parents see their romantic futures with, optimism. While there are many divorce books out there, I think older girls need to know that romance isn't a one-time shot. As a child of divorced parents, I feel pretty strongly that girls need consoling in this area.

WOW: Definitely. When I was growing up, I had several friends whose parents got divorced, but at that time, I don’t remember a book out there on the subject for girls to relate to. Surely, not a down-to-earth humorous book. What a great idea! You also said in your bio that winning a short story contest propelled you into fiction? What did winning that contest do for your writing career?

Julie: I entered the contest as a writing exercise. I'd always thought about writing fiction, but hadn't had the time and more importantly, the confidence. I saw the announcement for the contest, sat at my computer and tried to think of what really scares me. "The Quarry" wrote itself and I sent it in, and forgot about it. I was absolutely overcome when I won, but still so insecure that I placed the critiques I received in a drawer for a few days. When I had the nerve to read them, I was thrilled that the judges, (published writers!) wrote such encouraging comments. It gave me the confidence I needed to try a longer project.

WOW: We’re glad you did. It takes a lot of determination! In fact, you now have a young adult book that you are marketing to publishers. Can you tell me briefly what it is about?

Julie: "The Visitor" is about a Manhattan teen and an alien. Think a sexier "E.T." for today's more sophisticated kid. It's almost finished, and I anticipate a rather painful rewrite. As I've progressed, from say page 30 to page 200, I've read a lot more young adult fiction, and my character has matured a bit. I'm trying to follow the adage of plowing through before perfecting. Hope it works.

WOW: That’s the best way to do it. It’s always good to read others’ works, as long as it doesn’t cause you to doubt yourself and stop progressing on your own work. If you get that first draft down, you can keep your original train-of-thought and rework it later. So, was transitioning from non-fiction writing to fiction writing difficult? What resources did you find that helped with the transition?

Julie: Completely difficult! I have a hard time with voice. I had thought that pulling everything out of my head, and not having to interview experts, would be cake. What I didn't realize is that my brain can go in about a thousand directions at once. I have to follow the strongest ideas and not question the path. I also learned that good writing takes research, no matter what genre. Probably the best resource I've found is reading other writers' suggestions and always, always finding the time to read the kinds of books I want to write. I also joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and their workshops are wonderful. I read Writer's Digest, too, and find the interviews with writers very encouraging.

WOW: Those are great resources, and author interviews are definitely inspiring! But what ultimately brought you out of the journalism/trade journal world and into the world of fiction?

Julie: Well, I almost got back into newspaper writing when my son was small. I did a few pieces for our local paper and they liked them a lot, started assigning tons of stories. I was swinging with my son in our backyard, he was probably five, when I realized I'd been ignoring him as I thought about an article I was writing. All day as I looked at him, I couldn't focus because I was excited about the piece. I finished it and decided only to write non-deadline work while he was in my care. Maybe a stronger person can separate her life better, but I tend to get married to projects and block everything else out. Of course, with fiction writing I need some work on my self-discipline, just about ALWAYS. With no strong deadline, I tend to dawdle to an amazing degree.

Another reason fiction was a natural choice is that I had lots of surgery after my son was born, and I knew I could only handle the parenting aspect of my life while I recovered. (Parenting, not domestic, if you could see how I keep and have always kept my house! Plus I don't cook. Not well, anyway.) Fiction is something I can do when I want, without pressure.

WOW: (laughs) Well, that’s one tip I’ve heard often from NaNoers—let the house go! So, do you think that your experience as a journalist has helped you with your fiction? Will you ever go back to writing non-fiction?

Julie: Absolutely journalism was helpful. I learned how to research, write dialogue and introduce myself to anyone at anytime. If the cause is important enough to me, I could see writing a feature here and there. I would like to get back into travel writing a bit, because I love to travel anywhere anytime. Again, though, I have trouble separating my attention, and on a writing "vacation" I tend to get a bit obsessive about seeing everything. My husband and son are pretty laid-back, so they're not keen on my agendas. I may travelwrite on my own, sometime. I also write columns in my head just about everyday, on parenting, my dog, marriage (in that order!), small town life, politics...maybe I'll get industrious one day and actually type them up. For now, they entertain ME.

WOW: That’s the mindset of a writer, always crafting possible stories throughout the course of a day. Hopefully, we also write about them! What is a typical writing day for you? How do you juggle writing and family?

Julie: I used to fill my days with a few hours of writing, walking my dog and trying to keep up with the house and learning to cook a bit (it didn't take). I was also a room mother for five years (do you need cupcakes for this party? okay, I can bake) and I initiated and led a newspaper club at my son's elementary school for three years.

As my young adult book grew, and my son grew older, I decided to become a substitute teacher and learn the slang of today. Even though the story is in New York, my character is a bit unsophisticated, so I'm hoping that suburban slang will work for him. I didn't know that working with middle and high school students would be so much fun, so engaging. I find that I write more and with a more authentic quality after I've spent a few days listening to teens slam and adore each other. It does take a lot out of you, however, so my days are varied. I seem to be always sneaking in an hour or two here and there on my laptop, when I know it should be my priority. I haven't grown up enough as a writer to claim my time. I also help my son (7th grade) with homework and transport him here and there a lot, and I am always, always, always sneaking off with two or three good books (I rotate according to my mood, a mystery, an award winner, a teen novel) and losing hours in them. Somehow, I'm back to where I was in college, one more chapter and I'll open the laptop, or do the laundry, or maybe try cooking dinner and if it doesn't work this time....!

I'm really lucky that my writing isn't essential to my income, but that's also a negative, because my writing isn't essential to my income....if it was, I think I'd be just super successful by now! Ha.

WOW: I think many of us can relate! But it’s good to set small goals and accomplishments as well. What are your short and long-term goals for your writing career?

Julie: I have to finish and publish this science fiction novel. It has haunted me for so long and must be birthed. Just writing it isn't enough. I really want to publish it: probably it's vanity, but also I want to share it with kids who think like I do, and I want to show my family that I haven't been typing nonsense all day. I also want to add to my short horror story and perhaps write it as a screenplay. This was a suggestion by one of the judges in that contest and I think it would make a fun horror movie. Of course, I'd need to take a quick course in script writing and that will have to happen after "The Visitor" is finished.

And when both of those projects are finished? I have an absolutely thrilling time-travel story in my head, that's just dying to get out.


If you haven't done so already, please read Julie's story, Ferry to the Show.

And remember, every Tuesday we'll be featuring an interview with one of the top 10 winners from the Fall 2007 Essay contest. So, be sure to check back and see who's up next!

For more details on WOW! Women On Writing's current contest, please visit:


by Susan L. Eberling

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Monday, February 18, 2008


To Critique or Be Critiqued that is the Question...

By Valerie Fentress

When I first started writing seriously four years ago, there was only one person I felt comfortable to give me feedback and that was my husband. My poor husband. Reading really isn’t his thing but somehow our stars aligned and he married a writer. Needless to say I had to use many methods of persuasion to get him to read my work and critique it.

But lucky for him at my first writer’s conference I met a published author living in my city that ran a casual critique group, my hubby was ecstatic. He was more than willing to let me disappear once a month as long as he didn’t have to read my stuff.

Now I don’t know how many of you are part of a critique group, but I know some of you are saying…

I could never have someone else read my work.
What would they think of me?
What if I’m not any good?
What if they hate it?

Ah… the writer plight. We want to write. We want to publish, but to have someone actually READ what we write that’s just crazy.

These were some of the hurdles I had to get over before I stepped into my first critique group. I must say I was the youngest one there, but I was never more welcomed and encouraged in my writing than I have been in the last three years with this group.

At the time I entered the group I did have a completed manuscript, but from what I learned and how my writing grew dramatically within the confines of that little group, has caused me to put that manuscript aside cause it needs a massive overhall to match the strength of my writing currently.

In being surrounded by poets, non-fiction writer’s, curriculum writers, and fiction writers, such a mixed batch gives you such a resource to draw from. That’s the wonderful benefit to critique groups everyone is on a different portion of their writing journey and can share the tidbits you need to get your writing up to par. As well as getting a general sense of who would be interested in reading what you are writing.

Now the above does sound a bit like the fairy tale critique group, and I know there are many writer’s that have been burned and scorned by in person and online critique groups. This is not to scare anyone from joining a critique group, but it is important to join the right one for you.

It’s important to do your research before joining up with a group and sharing all your writing ideas and allowing the people access to that vulnerable spot in your soul, your writing.

For in person groups, attend a couple sessions to see the format and how people interact with one another. It’s important to be encouraged by the people you are sharing your ‘baby’ with. Do the people in the group want to make your writing style like there's or challenge you find and develop a style all your own? In part this sounds silly, but do you get along with the people in the group. I was part of a group that there were more people that got on my nerves than helped my writing. And it’s hard to accept critiques from people you don’t respect, so take that into consideration.

For online groups, ask a lot of questions. See what group or association they are associated with, abd how often they share manuscripts. Get a few of the names of the members to Google them and see what their writing history is. It’s good to have at least a couple in the group that are published to ensure the critique’s have merit and the experience to help you in your publishing journey. Try to review past critiques to see if the flow and style will be helpful to your work.

These are overall suggestions, and surprisingly choosing a critique group can be just as important as choosing your literary agent. Because this little band of writers will be pushing you toward your goals, and that is a treasured bunch of people to have at your side during the ups and downs of the publishing world.

But I must say in my own experience, I probably would still be annoying my very supportive husband and my writing wouldn’t be were it’s at today with out the help of my critique groups. It’s good to be with people of like mind to try to convince my husband I’m not the only crazy writer out there.

Happy Writing.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008


Bucking the Trends

It never fails. Once a Harry Potter-like phenomenon hits, dozens of YA books about wizards and magic follow. Some are successful, while others fall into literary oblivion. A huge chick lit book is made into a major motion picture with Hollywood's hottest stars slated to star in it? Expect chick lit to fill the bookshelves in the next year. This is what happens when trends hit the publishing industry. A lot of new writers will get excited and want to jump on the latest bandwagon, prompting scores of them to blindly send out queries and/or manuscripts, explaining why their book is better than the current bestseller.

This is not always the best approach and here's why:

1. Publishing is a slow business: By the time a writer gets a final draft of a manuscript finished, it could be at least six months to a year after the hot new trend debuts. (If it only takes one month to churn out a "polished" manuscript, there's small chance it's really polished.) Once you start on the querying road, it could be another six months to a year before you get a "yes" from an agent or publisher and then another year or two until the book is actually published. Guess what? The trend is probably dead by then.

2. The trend is not really your style: Say the trend is romance with a quirky heroine; she swears like a sailor and chain smokes, but is really kind to puppies and elderly ladies. If this is right up your alley, it'll show with each enthusiastic word you put on paper. If you're more the crime scene analyst type who's trying to catch the latest serial killer and you force yourself to write about the quirky heroine, chances are she won't ring true and you'll hate every word you have to write about her.

3. Many agents aren't interested in the latest trends: While some agents leap onto the latest bandwagon, some are more concerned with writing that will last the test of time, writing that will become the next generation's classics. The last thing they want to see is the next Narnia chronicle; they want a hero who readers remember long after they close the book.

Instead of spending the next year or two of your life hoping to publish a book whose premise will be outdated and tired by the time readers get their hands on it, spend it crafting a book whose characters you love, whose story is true and whose trend is timelessness.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008


Writing for Kids—Challenging and Rewarding

I am lucky enough to have a middle grade novel coming out in the next year. For those of you who are not familiar with the children’s publishing world, middle grade is for kids between the ages of 9-12.

I am also currently teaching for a woman, who is on maternity leave, in a classroom full of nine and ten year olds, who love to read. With this job, I have been exposed to many, many, many great children’s books. I’ll mention a couple here by some fantastic women authors: Trouble Don’t Last and Shakespeare’s Secret. If you haven’t read these, you’ll want to check them out—even if you’re an adult.

But my point today is not how many terrific middle grade books I’ve read. It’s about what kids like or what writing teachers and authors say kids like. I think the following list is true and can make or break a great manuscript. Not only do these “rules” work for novels, but I think they also hold true for short stories. It’s not as easy to write a story for kids as some people assume it is. In fact, it may be harder. Kids are not gentle if they don’t like a book.

*The protagonist needs to be as old or older than your target audience. If your target audience is 9-12, then make your protagonist 12-13. Kids love to read about characters their own age or older doing spectacular things. They don’t want to read about someone their younger sibling’s age.

*The protagonist needs to solve his or her problem with minimal or no adult assistance. Parents are usually in the background in kids’ novels. They definitely don’t come to the rescue.

*Kids need to sound like kids—even if you have a genius as a main character. This genius is still 12 years old and doesn’t have the life experiences of an adult. The genius adolescent can have a grand vocabulary but still sound and think like a kid. If you want to write for kids and you aren’t around kids, then go where kids are and listen to them.

*Don’t underestimate your readers. They can handle complex plots and issues. Some of the students I am currently working with can write their own Web sites with html coding, so they can certainly figure out mysteries and follow subplots. Give them some meat in your stories.

I’m sure there are lists upon lists in cyber world of what makes good children’s stories. I followed these four points for my middle grade novel, and I’m trying to do these again in my current ya novel. If you write for kids and have any more to add, please do so in the comments. Writing for kids is not easy, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

Happy Writing!
Margo Dill

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Friday, February 15, 2008


Prospector or Procrastinator?

by Sharon Mortz

I am writing a play – my first -- and as a new writer, I am a naïve enough to hope it will be produced. One reason I have so much faith is that I live in San Francisco where there are more theaters than Chinese restaurants. There are the big, electric, star-studded productions in huge, regal theaters as well as medium-sized, lower priced, but still excellent theater. Since I started my investigation several months ago, I’ve discovered small theatres that seat 15 to 20. This is where I’ll start my play pandering.

I was editing my play this morning, when I took a break and picked up The Writer magazine. I have a backlog of “how to write” magazines and I encounter a new, sparkling idea every time I peruse one. Like a pan handler discovering gold, I read and sift through pages. Am I a prospector or procrastinator? This morning I stumbled upon an article that suggested inscribing bits/phrases/words from an article/play/story in progress on 3X5 cards and play cards. Shuffle and deal then fill in the interstices. I love twists in my stories and my shuffling netted a surprise ending that I don’t think the audience will predict.

Another practice to loosen creativity is the “wild and stuffy” exercise. I love this idea. It’s freeing. Set a timer for four minutes and write as stiffly and prudishly as you can. Four minutes of genteel pomp resulting in exceedingly stuffy. When the timer goes off, set it again for four minutes and write wildly, loudly and outrageously. Obscenities are allowed. My pen goes wild and I release anger, passion and furious fervor. When the timer goes off, go back to restraint and respectability.

For fun, I may go through my magazines and cut out words in various fonts, paste them on paper like a movie ransom note and see if new ideas emerge. Could this be another twist in my play?

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Thursday, February 14, 2008


365 Days a Year

We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. As a matter of fact, if you ask my husband what date it falls on, he probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.

And I like it that way.

Why? Because he believes we shouldn’t cherish each other on only one day out of an entire year.
We have a special ritual that I believe will keep us happily married all the way into the fairytale sunset.

Each morning, and at different times throughout the day, my husband will ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?” And, after my either yes or no reply, I ask him the same question.

Beyond the obvious and tangible benefit of having a quick errand run or a particular meal prepared, offering to do “anything” for each other is a constant reminder of why we got married in the first place. Love and devotion.
And I’ll take that over a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers any day.

This is the kind of support that writers so desperately need—especially writers who are juggling a household: children, domestic responsibilities, and those who work outside of the home as well. The encouragement and support of a loving spouse helps make what we do possible.

So, today, take a break from the computer. Hold up a quick “one-minute” index finger to quiet your chatty characters, push the freelance querying aside, and spend some much needed couple time with your significant other.

If you are single, this is the perfect time to treat yourself to a break. Do something today that makes you blissfully happy. Whether you have fun with good friends or take some quiet time to nurture your soul, be good to yourself.

The writing will be waiting for you tomorrow.

I’d like to thank all of the ladies who offered to promote my memoir, The Break-Up Diet, on their blogs today!

Please stop by and show them some traffic love and read what they are all about.
It's a wonderful and diverse group of ladies with so many great resources to share. Check out their links below.

Allie Boniface

Angelique H. Caffrey

Sue Donckels

Valerie Fentress

Jennifer Flatten

Sarabeth Gordon

Cher'ley Grogg

Cathy Hall

Irvina Kanarek

Chynna Laird

Tammie McElligott

Anne-Marie Nichols

Cherie Redinoz

Debbie Ridpath Ohi (interview)

Lea Schizas

Nancy Sharpe

Luann Womack

Sandra Vilar

Thank you, ladies, for making this a fun and interesting promotion!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Valentine's Day Blog Promo


We're excited to announce the launch of Senior Editor, Annette Fix's memoir, The Break-Up Diet, on Valentine's Day, February 14th.

If you have a blog and would like to participate in this event, then get your dancing shoes on and grab a box of chocolates and we'll promote you!

All you have to do is write a blog post about:

  • Happily-Ever-After
  • Finding Prince Charming
  • Kissing Toads
  • Break-Up Stories
  • Diving into the Dating Pool
  • For the Love of Chocolate

Or, if you just want content to post so you can enjoy your romantic celebration, then you can pick up one of Annette's two blog posts, specially created for this promotion.

One focuses on being single on a "couples" holiday, the other, highlights being in a relationship on Valentine's Day.

Please let us know if you would like to participate, so we can send you the image, book info, and blog post of your choice. If you'd like more information, visit the book website:

All bloggers in the promotion will have their blog listed and linked in the WOW! blog post on Feb. 14th as participating supporters to receive some WOW! Women On Writing traffic-link-love! If you have any blogger friends who may be interested in participating, please feel free to forward this post to them.

Confirm your interest by sending an email to: editors[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com

Much love and happy blogging!

Love Editors of WOW!

Angela & Annette

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Interview with WOW! Runner Up Sheryl Winters

If you believe that everything happens for a reason (whether we ever understand what that reason is or not), you’ll love Sheryl Winters’ short story about what happens when a thunderstorm reveals more about the main characters than they ever expected.

Editor-in-chief of her high school's weekly newspaper, Sheryl dreamed of a career as a journalist. Fate had other plans. Her life's journey instead took her down paths as an employment counselor, legal assistant in her husband's law office, and innkeeper of their bed and breakfast.

Now retired and living in Florida, she writes poetry, song lyrics, children's stories, and enters fiction and non-fiction writing contests. Several of her poems have been published. She is currently seeking a recording contract for several of her song lyrics. Sheryl loves to travel, read, swim, and has recently become addicted to knitting. If you'd like to on-line chat with her, she can be contacted at

We welcome Sheryl and offer a big congratulations on her runner-up story in WOW!’s 2007 Fall Flash Fiction contest. If you haven’t already read Sheryl’s intriguing story with an unexpected twist, please do so: A Flicker in Time. And don’t forget to come back and read our interview with this talented woman, who not only writes stories and songs, but extends her creativity into the crafty endeavor of knitting as well.

* * * * *

WOW: A theme of your story “A Flicker in Time” is that things happen for a reason. Do you feel there’s a reason Fate deferred your plans of being a journalist?

Sheryl: Yes. I never did become a journalist. Instead, I found my career niche as an employment counselor and later as a legal assistant. Also, I had problems with balancing my sleep disorder (narcolepsy) and college to the point that I never finished getting a degree.

WOW: I imagine that narcolepsy would be a serious impediment to your education, but you seem to have handled it well. You were able to find your niche in other areas and as a result, experience an event that landed you here. Because you express such honesty in your feelings toward the ex-convict in the story, do you also try to create fictional characters with such complex emotions?

Sheryl: Yes. I am an extremely sensitive and emotionally charged individual and it does translate to my fictional characters.

WOW: That’s wonderful and very important for writers to possess. Did you learn any lessons from the encounter described in your story?

Sheryl: Yes. We cannot let our own personal prejudices keep us from assisting others. Being judgmental and opinionated only creates roadblocks in our life's journey.

WOW: That’s a powerful lesson to learn. Because of this, do you wish your story could have had a different ending?

Sheryl: Yes. I would have loved to have found him a job not only to earn a fee, but to support his efforts to return to society and a successful career.

WOW: Your writing covers a broad range of genres. What kind of song lyrics do you write?

Sheryl: Country western is the type of lyrics I write. I have 3 of them currently on the Empire Music Company website. Here is one of them:

Forgivin’ Yourself

© 2007 Sheryl Winters

Verse I:
You’re doin’ the best you can and that’s no crime.
So what if you didn’t pay those darn taxes on time.
No one’s walked in your shoes or carried your load.
Someday you’ll reap all the good that you’ve sowed.

Forgivin’ and forgetting, once you get it down pat,
You’ll no longer hate the in-laws, or the neighbor’s cat.
You’ll wake up one morning realizing something else,
Hardest thing to do is forgivin’ yourself.

Verse II:
Let go of feelings of never being good enough,
Got wrenching memories of divorce court stuff.
Of cashin’ in bottles to get money for the bus.
Bill collectors, overdrafts. God, times were tough.

Repeat Chorus.

Don’t wait till golden years to watch pretty, pink sunsets.
Take trips to Rome to see churches with two hundred steps.
Cause you ain’t gonna enjoy all the fruits of your hard labor,
Feeling guilty ‘bout the tool you didn’t return to the neighbor.

Repeat Chorus.

Verse III:
Quit stewin’ ‘bout the money ya could’ve but didn’t make,
And fretting ‘bout mistakes ya made and risks you didn’t take.
Yesterdays are gone. Tomorrows are comin’ near.
What matters is today, and hey, you’re still here.

Repeat Chorus.

Demo available. Direct all inquiries to:

© 2007 Sheryl Winters
c/o Empire Music Co.
PO Box 2145
Newburgh, NY 12550

WOW: Great lyrics, Sheryl. They’re very traditionally country. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Sheryl: My earliest recollection of wanting to write was daydreaming stories as I soaked in the bathtub as a kid. Later, a brilliant high school English teacher further inspired me with his requirement for a theme a week. This, along with my experiences as editor of my high school weekly newspaper further reinforced my writing ambitions. However, it wasn't until I was seriously injured in a pedestrian/motor vehicle accident that I began writing in earnest. My husband said that the brain injury I sustained must have started the creative juices flowing. As a result, I wrote a poem on "courage" which was later purchased by The Courage Center, a rehabilitation center in Minnesota, as part of a contest.

WOW: That’s an interesting way to come back to being serious about writing. You mentioned in your author bio that you’ve recently become addicted to knitting! Do story ideas form while you’re engaged in your craft?

Sheryl: I am a beginner knitter and still need to concentrate on the stitches. I find the craft extremely relaxing and look forward to the time when story ideas will come from those tranquil moments.

WOW: Since you’re such a creative person--writer, songwriter, knitter--do you believe creative people have a natural desire to explore as many creative avenues as they possibly can?

Sheryl: Yes, I do believe creative people seek out multiple avenues of creative expression. Owning and operating a bed and breakfast gave me many opportunities for this as I orchestrated events including Victorian teas, quilting weekends, murder mystery dinners, chess tournaments, class reunion slumber parties, to mention a few. We "creativity creatures" are constantly searching for new ways to convey our ideas. It is our passion.

WOW: Can you explain how you set aside time to write?

Sheryl: I write when the moment moves matter what time of day. Some of my best writing has been done in the middle of the night when it is quiet and there are no distractions. (Having a sleep disorder sometimes is not all bad). It also helps being retired and having a fluid schedule. I always carry a pen and paper in my purse in case a light bulb goes off in my head.

WOW: If you’d been able to become a journalist when you were younger, do you think your life would have been as rich as it’s turned out to be? Or do you believe it may have been richer?

Sheryl: I never regretted not becoming a journalist because my life has been filled with excitement and remarkable experiences. A friend once told me, "compared to yours, my life sucks." I took that as a compliment. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the events of my life but then I stop and listen to the words of my own poem:

Relax, enjoy the day.
Without the worry of work or play.
Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow is near.
But TODAY - TODAY is why we're here.

* * * * *

If you haven't done so already, please read Sheryl's story, A Flicker in Time.

And remember, every Tuesday we'll be featuring an interview with one of the top 10 winners from the Fall 2007 Essay contest. So, be sure to check back and see who's up next!

For more details on WOW! Women On Writing's current contest, please visit:

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Monday, February 11, 2008

by LuAnn Womach

I grew up in Nebraska with parents who were teachers. Every summer, we would travel to a different state for - what I called - an educational vacation. Sure, there was time to swim in the ocean or take in a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game (for some reason, our destination mirrored the Cards road schedule), but the primary goal was to sightsee and learn. Even though I loved school, I'm fairly certain I didn't appreciate these learning opportunities at the time.

My parents were also "big" on visiting Nebraska landmarks. Day trips to Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney or a smaller off-the-beaten-path hamlet were an added bonus of fun each summer. The out-of-the-way museums and art galleries interested me, and I paid close attention at these. Why? They were full of local color and I could imagine the stories behind these sites. The people intrigued me, even though in many aspects, they were just like me: a native Nebraskan who enjoyed life here.

When I first started my writing career, someone asked me about the all the glamourous travel I'd be able to participate in as a writer. That thought had never really crossed my mind. I really didn't think of myself as a travel writer venturing to exotic locales for whirlwhind PR trips. Sure, I enjoy jetsetting (ok, honestly, I just like riding in an airplane), but I'm a small city/country gal at heart. For a recent story, I interviewed a turkey farmer and shot pics inside the brooding house. Yup, that's quite the glamourous life!

This is why writing about my own backyard - the State of Nebraska - is such an easy topic. I understand the issues - environmental, agricultural, political, social, athletic - and they are important to me. I've traveled extensively within the state's boundaries. I understand the work ethic and the expectations.

By looking deeper at the issues that are important in the small world surrounding me, my writing possesses a deeper sense of place. And it shows!

When I taught journalism at a local high school, my students and I discussed how every person has a story, and as journalists, it is our responsibility to find the unique spin of those stories and share them by creating a universal theme readers can identify with. By wandering through the backyard and observing everyday life, these stories present themselves.

Sure, it would be great if I could travel to the Bahamas for a week and write about the cruise ship, the ports, and the food, but would I be completely satisfied? Sometimes, as writers, we fall into the trap of thinking that our vantage point isn't worldly simply because of where we reside.

But the lessons I learn and write about from my region stick with me the most because I have a vested interest in the people and the place.

Regional travel = richer life.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


It's a Sticky Situation

by LuAnn Womach

Hi. My name is LuAnn. And I have a problem.

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t break the cycle.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop the compulsion.

No matter how hard I try, I can not get my mind to settle down and allow my brain waves to flow in a somewhat gentle pattern.

Thanks to my never-resting, writing-idea generating brain, I’ve become a Post-It note addict. Across the top of my desk, about 50 adhesive notes of various shapes and sizes stick to the surface. Each note is filled with five or six possible writing ideas.

And the madness doesn’t stop there. On the wall above my desk, Post-Its adorn a bulletin board, offering proof of my brainstorming sessions.

And on my nightstand, a jumbo pack of Post-Its for when the writing muse rouses me from slumber at 3:16 A.M., which happens on a fairly regular basis!

And stuck inside pages of books I’ve read rest Post-Its, either acting as a quasi-bookmark or a source for noting valuable quotes I want to re-read and contemplate again and again.

In my office, I even have a storage bin full of the square-shaped papers, each piece at my disposal for creating a masterpiece or spiderwebbing a map of ideas. Plus, I have all shapes, sizes, and colors: a rectangular pad with a flashy motto and pic saying ‘I teach because Hollywood hasn’t called yet!’ (left over from my former classroom days), a bundle of basic yellow notes, a cat-shaped pile that resembles Garfield. But my favorite Post-Its are the 2 x 1 1/2 inch mini notes in bright neon colors. I prefer the hot pink. But honestly, any Post-It fills my obsessive-compulsive desire to create.

I thought I could get this Post-It fetish under control, but it kept growing and growing until it spun so far out of control and required an intervention.

OK, so the intervention took the form of my significant other, Scott, who stood in my office doorway and told me that I needed to deal with the mess of organized chaos that was overtaking my room. Instead, I informed him that I just needed a bigger office.

“You can’t stop the creative madness in my mind,” I screeched back at him.

By now, I knew I had to do something, anything, to get things under control and take back the writing life that I so richly enjoy.

I needed a plan, and I needed it quick, before you-know-who returned to the office door and threatened to clean-up my writing dominion.

I could gather all the Post-Its and toss them in the trash or the top file cabinet drawer. Or better yet, I could try to re-assemble them and file them away for later use. But that plan was not hot.

I could transfer the golden gems of creativity to my computer, thus eliminating the Post-Its. That plan was too cold and calculating. There’s just something about the feel of the paper underneath the hand.

Then I devised a plan that was just right. I decided what I need to do is take one sheet a day and really brainstorm article idea possibilities. My favorite idea generator is the Topic Worksheet from Jenna Glatzer’s book Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments. The worksheet lets me break a topic down into 15 different story possibilities. After generating ideas, I throw away the Post-It.

Ok, I hear you out there saying, but you really haven’t eliminated any paper. True, I haven’t. I graduated from a 2 x 1 ½ inch sticky note to an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper, but let’s be honest about it: placing a sheet of paper inside a file folder is much easier than having a folder filled with notes attached to another sheet in a manner of disarray.

But I can also be honest and say the process of transfer (I like educational jargon) stimulates my brain to be productive and take a closer look at topics I might not have considered if it hadn’t originated on a single Post-It note.

I still have trouble when shopping in Office Max; I browse through all the different styles of Post-Its and buy at least one new stack each visit. Paper – and anything that has to do with the writing process – is one addiction I will not break!

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Groundhog Day!

By Carrie Hulce

Curiosity got the better of me today, so I decided to do a bit of research on Groundhog Day. I wanted to see what facts I could find. I know that this isn’t about some great writing find, but, I thought it would be something fun to share with all of you. Who knows, maybe some of this information could be helpful for one of your wonderful stories.

I figured I would start off with the most famous Groundhog of all Punxsutawney Phil, that wonderfully lovable Groundhog that we hear about every year on the news. Heck, he’s famous enough, why not give him top billing. They even have a website for him. I wondered what information I could dig up about this interesting Holiday... So many questions were running through my head, I didn’t know where to begin.

First, I wondered about the life expectancy of a Groundhog, and come to find out a normal Groundhog only lives about 8 years. Good ol’ Phil has been around for 120 years, supposedly, he is fed a special elixir every year to help keep him going strong and looking young. Hey let me have some of that! Maybe I’ll get a little energy out of it.

From ancient times, we relied on the flora and fauna around us to let us know what was happening with the seasons, from this the time of year, between the winter solstice and the spring equinox was a time to watch for all, if certain animals such as the ground hog came out and saw their shadow, then more winter was on its way, which as many of you now was predicted for us. As the centuries passed this time of year became know as Candlemas Day, during this time, the pastors and priests would bless candles to pass out among the community to help light the way for the dark winter still ahead, to also bring good luck to the farmers for the future planting season ahead.

Around the mid 1700’s when the Germans settled in Pennsylvania in the Punxsutawney area, the Candlemas tradition was brought with them, they had explained to other settlers that if the Groundhog saw his shadow there would be 6 more weeks of winter, and thus, Groundhog Day was born.

Today, it is amazing at how everyone may celebrate this time of year differently. Many people now travel to see the famous Gobblers Knob to see the most famous of Groundhogs, Punxsutawney Phil. How neat it would be to see him pop his wee head out of the hole look about then say, “To heck with this, it's still nap time for me.” What a life and what a great job. Don’t ya think?

This research made me think about the stories that are deep inside each and every one of us, and without the many talents of so many of you very creative and wonderful writers the tales such as Phil’s wouldn’t be around to share.

Just in case you would like to share some cute tales and maybe create a special tradition with your little ones, or heck, your little ones’ little one, I have found a couple of really cute books to share. You can find them at Amazon. I hope you will enjoy them as much as we do.

Groundhog Day! By: Gail Gibbons

Substitute Groundhog By: Pat Miller

The Groundhog Day Book of Fun and Facts By: Wendie C. Old and Paige Billin-Frye

Go to sleep Groundhog! By: Judy Cox

Happy Writing! And Reading!

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Friday, February 08, 2008


I Do Know What to Write

By Jill Earl

I’ve been watching the local public TV station’s offerings for Black History Month. I eagerly watch, hoping to add to the always-growing list of books, articles and other media I want to read to acquire more knowledge about my heritage.

In between programs, the “I don’t know what to write!” whine came out of my mouth. Never mind that I’d recently read a couple of articles on the subject, or that I pondered writing about family. The whine-fest was about to be on, until I revisited an experience from my days as an adult student at college that made Black History Month more alive for me.

While visiting my mother, we watched a documentary on the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Panther Movement was mentioned. At one point, Mom sat back, a faraway look in her eyes.

“Remember those meetings we went to?”

“What meetings?” Then I realized what she said and gave her my full attention. “What meetings, Mom?”

“The Panther meetings! What else?”

“You--were a Panther?” She nodded and I struggled to grasp her words. Dusty memories floated into my mind, including one where I saw the meeting location she referred to, on the corner of a now boarded-up block in the city.

My mother turned 79 at the end of last month. She lives with me, unable to live alone. The journey has been hard for us both but I’m thankful that she’s reasonably healthy. Her memory is another story, gaps becoming more frequent. And painful.

But she’s seen and lived so much. Time to get to recording her experiences while she remembers, especially the Panther ones.

Because I do know what to write.

Jill Earl

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Thursday, February 07, 2008


Freelance Writers' Contract

The current issue of ASJA Monthly (the publication of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc.) contains the official new Freelance Writers' Contract for its members. It turns out, obviously, that it's a pretend contract ASJA President Russell Wild crafted as a discussion piece. Take a look:

1. The description of the article is as follows:

Name of article: ______________ Length ____________ Due date _________

2. Author will retain full ownership of copyright in the Article. In consideration of the sum of [minimum of $3.00/word], Author grants to [insert name of publication], first North American Serial Rights only. Any other usage in any other medium now known or developed in the future, will be subject to substantial additional payment, to be negotiated.

3. All edits or revisions of the article must be approved by the Author.

4. It is agreed that Publication’s rights shall be exclusive for only 30 days after first publication.

5. Author shall be paid in full within one week of submission of article. Late payments will incur interest charges of 5 percent per week.

6. If article is not published within 60 days of submission, all rights accruing to Publication under this contract shall be null and void, and all rights shall immediately revert to Author.

7. Publication agrees to name Author as an additional insured under all insurance policies carried by Publication, and further, Publication agrees to fully defend and indemnify Author for any and all claims that may be brought against the Author or Publication by any wackjob for any reason whatsoever. All legal fees shall be borne by Publication and no claim for contribution by Author shall be made by Publication.

8. Any dispute over this contract shall be adjudicated in the hometown of the Author, or may possibly be subject to arbitration by a panel of freelance writers handpicked by the Author.

Wild calls his contract version "a pipedream," although he advocates serious negotiation with publishers to get the best terms possible.

"Remember that everything within a contract is fair grounds for negotiation," author Jenna Glatzer says in a past Writer's Digest article. "Your goal should be to sell the fewest rights for the highest fee, payable quickly after submission. You can also strike better deals for the inclusion of a bio-note or advertisement for your business, extra payment for extra services (like photos and sidebars), and a high kill fee if such terms are necessary."

There is often room for bargaining with the editor, so give it a shot. It can't hurt to ask and you may get more of what you deserve.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008


15 Minutes

In fifteen minutes I can vacuum my living room well, using the attachments on my vacuum to get the dust bunnies out of the couches. In fifteen minutes I can clean out my fridge, discarding old food and wiping down some of the surfaces. In fifteen minutes I can do rotations of sit-ups, push-ups, wall-sits, squats, calf-raises and lunges. Well, let’s hope I can last even fifteen minutes doing these things.

So where do these thoughts of fifteen-minute-productivity come from? I’m reading what I think will prove to be a great book, Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. In her book, DeMarco-Barrett encourages us to find “stolen moments” in our day. “Somewhere during your day,” she says, “you have at least fifteen minutes you can use to write. Start there. Try the first thing in the morning, the last thing at night. When are you the most lucid? The most creative? See what works.” The author also says that if we can’t find fifteen minute chunks of time to write, maybe we need to re-evaluate whether writing is something that can fit in our lives at this time. Ouch, that’s a reality check.

When it comes to writing, fifteen minutes can be powerful. I’ve bought into the school of thought that I need an hour or two or a weekend away to accomplish anything for my writing. But I have a husband, two small children, friends, volunteer and house work and frankly I need time to shower. If I choose to write only in those times when I have an hour to myself, I will either never sleep or never write, and the need for sleep catches up to you. So it will be writing that goes out the window.

Let’s crunch some numbers. In fifteen minutes I can write about 500 words if I’m typing. If I find fifteen minutes a day, four times a week, over the course of the year that is 104,000 words. That equals a good sized novel or a hundred average length feature articles, hundreds of poems or a basketful of short stories. And all that comes from committing only an hour a week to writing.

I, and I think many people, have an all or nothing mindset that paralyzes us. We feel that if a little of something is good, then a lot of it is better. I say, “If I could get 104,000 words written in a year, doing just 15 minutes, what if I did 30 minutes?” After I raise the bar for myself from a reasonable goal, I inevitably get distracted or behind and then guilt or pressure sets in. What was once a fun thing, my writing, becomes a chore. It joins the ranks of my to-do list along with folding the laundry and going to the dentist. Wow, sounds fun.

by Susan L. Eberling

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Monday, February 04, 2008


Interview with WOW! Runner Up Marketa Oliver

Runner Up: Marketa Oliver
Des Moines, Iowa
Congratulations, Marketa!

Marketa's Bio:

Marketa George Oliver has a background in writing, but it is in writing reports, budgets and capital plans in her role as a City Administrator. Creative writing, though, has always been an interest. Marketa is fortunate to have many interesting adventures and travels on which she can draw. She loves travel and has studied overseas in both Austria and Australia. She enjoys movies, backgammon, cards, The Cure and the Iowa State Fair. What brings her the greatest joy, however, is spending time with the colorful, passionate characters in her life.

We welcome Marketa and congratulate her for placing in the Fall 2007 Essay Contest, sponsored by the Globe Pequot Press' skirt! books. If you haven't done so already, please read Marketa's inspirational story, Scrounging for Schillings.

Then come back and join us as we chat with a well-traveled, well-versed writer and a dynamic woman.


WOW: I was reading about your position as City Administrator and saw that you've been very successful and you've been honored with many prestigious awards. How does winning the contest compare to your other successes?

Marketa: I was shocked to find out that I was a finalist. Once I read the bios of the other runners up and the winners, I was even more surprised and very excited. To be included in a group of writing professionals was truly an honor in itself.

WOW: What inspired you to enter the contest?

Marketa: I have always been interested in creative writing, but have not pursued it much in recent years. Last year, I met up with 5 of my other partners in crime in Vienna and we wined and dined around the City in a fashion that we may possibly have not truly appreciated 20 years ago and certainly could not have afforded. Shortly before I entered the contest, I had also been to a reunion with the full group of people I studied with in Vienna a few months before I saw the contest. We shared many stories. Those memories were all fresh in my mind when I stumbled on the Women on Writing website.

WOW: You've certainly had some wonderful experiences. How exciting it must be to spend those adventures with friends. WOW is fortunate that your trip to Vienna refreshed your memories. I'm sure you took many photographs and perhaps made some journal notes while you were there. Does this give you a lot of material for creative writing projects?

Marketa: Traveling has been a cornerstone of my life and my personality. I love the adventure of discovering a new place or new language and the comfort of visiting old ones. The best experience is when you get to share that adventure with a spouse or close friend. When my husband and I got together last year with friends in Vienna, one of the most interesting aspects of that trip, was the chance to see the city through their eyes.

WOW: In your bio, you stated that you've always had an interest in creative writing. Is this the first time you've pursued creative writing?

Marketa: I used to write poetry when I was much younger. I also have recently developed some skeletal children's books based on some experiences I have had with my daughter.

WOW: Talking about the experiences you shared with your daughter bought to mind, The American Doll collection. My granddaughter collects the dolls and the storybooks that come with them. I was thinking your traveling experiences could make some very interesting stories for little girls. Now that you've placed in the contest, will you be writing more essays and entering more contests?

Marketa: Depending on the subject area, I think I would enter more contests. This experience will definitely make me interested in pursuing creative writing on a more regular basis. This experience also bolsters my confidence to enter another contest.

WOW: You mentioned the colorful people in your life, how supportive are they when it comes to encouraging you to write?

Marketa: They are fabulous people who support me in whatever I aspire to do.

WOW: You are so fortunate to have fabulous people in your life. Sometimes our friends and relatives don't realize how much of a role they play in our creative lives. It seems that you are very busy in your position of City Administrator; do you still get the opportunity to travel?

Marketa: I still have opportunities to travel, but not as extensively as before I became a City Administrator. Although, as part of my CA position, I attend at least one national conference each year and they are quite often held in places I would not naturally think of visiting. In that sense, my current position has helped me discover new places.

WOW: To me, "Scrounging for Schillings" was a very inspiring spiritual experience. I too have learned to appreciate that miracles do not always come in epic proportions. Is spirituality still a big part of your life?

Marketa: I do not have perfect attendance in church, but I consider myself a spiritual person. I try to instill values of kindness, equity and compassion in my daughter each day and try to exhibit those qualities myself.

WOW: Spirituality is a big part of my life too. In my writing career, I plan to tidy up some lose ends. Have you set any writing goals for 2008?

Marketa: I want to finish the skeletal children's book(s) that I have written and find an illustrator for them.

WOW: Good luck on finishing your children's books. With your organizational skills and enthusiasm, I'm sure you'll reach your 2008 goals. Do you have any advice for other women writers? Would you recommend they enter writing contests?

Marketa: I would recommend to any of the women that are interested in writing to pursue it. It does not have to be the great American novel, it can simply be writing about a special memory. Our stories are threads that connect generations. A few years ago, I bought my father a book that had a prompt per day for a special moment in life. It asked the owner to write about a first kiss; the day a child was born; a special childhood activity; etc. I treasure reading those short answers. I know my daughter loves to hear about the day she first walked or what we did when we found out she was on her way, so I know that I need to get busy with my pen to stay connected.


If you haven't done so already, please read Marketa's award winning story, Scrounging for Schillings

And remember, every Tuesday we'll be featuring an interview with one of the top 10 winners from the Fall 2007 Essay Contest. So, be sure to check back and see who's up next!

For more details on WOW! Women On Writing's current contest, please visit:

Cher'ley Grogg
My website:

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Don't Cheat the Reader

I recently read a couple of books and one stuck with me, while the other annoyed me. Both used a disease-of-the-week plot device, but in the book I liked, it didn't feel like a device; it simply felt like something that could logically happen. Plus, what was more important is how the affected character reacted to having the disease.

Imagine a man who's spent his entire life not quite doing the right thing because he's incapable of it. He's not a bad person, just not the most caring, compassionate guy around. He gets cancer and instead of some miraculous change overcoming him, he deals with the disease the same way he's dealt with life. No pages-long soliloquies follow and I have to admit, it was refreshing to read this realistic portrayal of a dying man.

In the other book, the reader is given hints that one character is ill, but when it comes down to who gets sick, it's another character. This book was like a romantic comedy in book form, so when the main character becomes ill, you just know she's going to recover, right? Wrong. She dies and I felt incredibly cheated by the book as a whole. It was like watching While You Were Sleeping and in the last scene, having Michael Myers from the Halloween movies come in and butcher everyone. It was like death was added to the plot to make the book heavier than it was supposed to be.

One thing that's vital to creating believable fiction is having your characters behave in believable ways. I know, it's fiction, it's all made up, so what's to believe? But readers deserve better than writers acting like literary gods who create whole worlds full of characters who do only what the writers want. You have to listen to your characters and find out what they would do.

If you've created a woman who finds out her husband is cheating, how is she going to react to this news? If you've done a skillful job of outlining her character and adding relevant details, you won't have to wonder about this for long. If she's a fiery, action-oriented woman, readers won't be surprised if she tosses all of his belongings outside a bedroom window before driving to the other woman's house to confront her. But what if she's a quiet, introverted type? Would this behavior be as believable? It can be, but only if you've provided subtle clues beforehand that make the reader think, wow, I didn't see that coming, but I can see how that could happen. For instance, she may be quiet, but what if events shown in flashback reveal a lot of pent-up anger? What if this is only the latest in a string of affairs for the husband and she's finally had enough? However you create her, you're not creating her in a bubble. If you want her to be believable, she has to have prior life experiences that make her behave the way she does right now.

If you want your readers to think and ultimately be satisfied by what you've written, don't cheat them or yourself by making your characters do what they know they would never do.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008


SEO Sundays: WORK IT! with Viral Marketing

For over a year I advertised on search engines using Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing. Admittedly, I didn’t spend much on each campaign—maybe around $5-$8 a day for a keyword campaign—which is way below what either of them recommend. Still, it adds up. Pretty soon I was tallying what I spent in the past year, and it was well over $6,000. Yikes! That’s a lot of dough, without a lot of return.

Fortunately, there’s a smarter way to get the word out about your website or blog. We’ve already talked about optimizing your website, using keywords, and Alexa in past SEO Sundays, so today we’re going to talk about taking it one step further. That’s where viral marketing comes in. It may take a little extra work, but the good part is you won’t have to shell out a bunch of money on advertising to get a decent return.

What is viral marketing?

It’s when your existing website visitors, customers, or subscribers refer you to others.

It’s also when other webmasters, or sister sites send traffic your way.

So, let’s Work it!

Here are some examples:

** Submitting Articles: (easy)

Let’s say you’re starting an editing or freelance writing business. What’s the quickest and easiest way to get FREE publicity and links back to your website? Write several keyword articles related to what your website offers.

If you’re starting an editing business, write about some tips you use for editing—include examples or testimonials from satisfied clients. But try not to make it sound too “salesy”—give the readers solid information and content, but also remember to market your product, or yourself. This is a win-win situation. In other words, don’t give away the farm. Instead, give away enough information to peak the readers interest and leave them wanting more, which means visiting your website and buying your product.

The thing to remember is that you’re syndicating your article by doing this, which means you’re relinquishing your rights. And as writers, we all know how important rights are. So, make sure you give them only enough to send them to your site.

Websites that syndicate your articles: (There are lots of them!)

Important Note: Be sure to read all their terms & conditions. Remember you’re giving away your articles for free. In doing this you’ve just quashed your ability to sell that article.

** Offer a Free E-Mail Service: (advanced)

If you have a large server, you can offer free email to your customers/subscribers. Why? How do you think Yahoo! and Hotmail got so big? I’ll tell you why: they run an ad at the bottom of every email that you send. That’s why the service is “free.”

Think about it: your subscriber sends an email with your ad at the bottom of it. That person refers ten people. Those ten people refer another ten, and so on. Pretty soon you have a viral marketing campaign of advertising that you didn’t have to pay for.

If you have a VPS (virtual private server), or a dedicated server, you have the ability to set up unlimited email accounts. Same thing if you have a social networking site etc. It does take a lot of bandwidth and server-juice, but if you really want to conquer the Internet universe, it’s an excellent option.

** E-books: (moderate)

It’s not that hard to create an e-book, or e-document these days. The beauty is that you fill your book with links to your website, your affiliates’ websites, and products.

You can offer your e-book or e-document for free to garner traffic and sell products, or you can sell an e-book with resale rights. The people that purchase your e-book can in turn re-brand and sell the original e-book, thus creating a viral marketing machine.

Tip: Want to know a down-and-dirty way of creating an e-book or e-document in seconds?

All you need is MS Word and something you’ve written:

  • Open up the .doc
  • Go to “File” then “Print”
  • When you get the pop-up box, choose the option, “Save as PDF”

You’re done.

Important Note: I don’t recommend this for e-books that you’re considering selling. It’s better to create a professional encrypted e-book by using Adobe Acrobat. That way you have control of setting rights and permissions. So, if you’re serious about making money off of e-books, then do it the right way, and keep your rights.

Are you going to work it?

There are many ways to create a viral marketing effect. It’s all about getting creative, getting the word out, and creating a chain-like reaction. Yeah, the word, “virus” sounds negative, but that’s what it spreads. You can use this to promote your book, your website, your products, or practically anything.


Think of the possibilities...

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Friday, February 01, 2008


Look Left--Look right

Descriptions, Colors, Memories...

I asked my husband what color our car was. Then I asked him to describe what our daughter looks like. Then I asked him to tell me what our last conversation was about.

He answered each question and then he said, "Honey, what in the world is going on? Why are you asking me those questions?" He laughed nervously, raised his eyebrows, opened his eyes widely and stared at me. I had to laugh at his expression, and I had to tell him, he’d failed every one of the eye body language signs.

I attended an online writing workshop recently and one of the subjects discussed was a tic. This interested me since I give my characters tics. Certain movements they repeat when they are feeling a certain way. Some voluntary and some involuntary, like one of the ladies wears her hair in a tight bun, but periodically when she's unsure of something she'll run her hand across it as if she's putting a stray hair in it's proper place. I also I have an MC whose ear tips turn red when he's angry or embarrassed.
I found that I mostly look straight at people no matter if I'm thinking, remembering, telling the truth or lying. When I'm alone the eye facial movement that I seem to have the most is the looking up to the right. That's in first person. If I were looking at you, you would be looking up to the left. The article says I am constructing images in my head.

The art of reading body language is just that an art. I believe you also need to get to know your subjects and how they react to certain situations in order to read them more accurately. You know your characters as well as you know the people who are closest to you so you should be able to give them realistic tics.

I saw this on one of the research sites and decided to try it.
You try it too: Sit-up straight, raise your head, take a deep breath and exhale deeply, open your eyes, pull your shoulders back, and smile. You feel more awake, energized and confident, don’t you? Let me know.
Here’s another site I enjoyed while I was researching body language:

If you followed the above link, let me know if you feel these people will stay together.
Cher'ley Grogg

Writing Through Changes

And by changes, I mean pain.

We often look at our writing as a way to make a living, tell a story, or at its basic level, to simply communicate. Many times the words that reach the page are there for someone else to read, interpret, and perhaps even decode if we choose to let own personal penmanship run wild. But writing doesn’t have to be for an audience. In fact some of the most precious and intimate writing we may pen in a lifetime may be for no one else’s eyes but our own. Each of us can be our own market, our own audience, and what’s more, let’s send that monster on a permanent vacation.

And by monster, I mean that evil inner critic we all possess.

I’ll admit that the last couple of months have not been filled with my best writing. In fact the last two months of 2007 were ones where my fingers didn’t even meet the keyboard of my MacBook, nor was the spine of my journal even cracked open to proclaim something as simple as “I’m exhausted and utterly spent.” However, in entered 2008 and as the saying goes “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired” and decided to do something about it.

And by it, I mean the emotions of the divorce in which I am currently in the thick.

I’d spent time thinking and overanalyzing but I hadn’t spent much time letting go. But one day I picked up a pen again and just let it all go. What I was writing didn’t make much sense, didn’t look particularly pretty, or possess any sort of literary zest. What it did do, however, was finally help me sort through the mixed bag of feelings I had been carrying around aimlessly. I allowed myself to be raw and honest as I met the page; it didn’t matter because my words weren’t intended for anyone but me and let me tell you, there is a lot of power in that.

And by that, I mean reclaiming the importance of my writing.

So I continue to write, meeting all that may be ahead with all life’s changes.

And by changes, I mean new beginnings.