Saturday, October 31, 2009


What Makes a Story Scary?

I can think of a few things that scare me: rejection letters, unpaid bills, and me in a thong. But I'm talking really scary, the things that send chills up your spine when you read a short story. It takes a certain type of writer who can plow the depths of darkness, build suspense, and twist a story ending so the reader doesn't see it coming.

What are some other elements scary stories need in order to be truly scary? Here are a few tips from a great book on horror writing, aptly named On Writing Horror, by the Horror Writers Association.

Suspenseful Beginnings:

You might launch your story with the mud having already filled up the entire basement and swallowed the plumber, but it's far creepier to show the mud growing mysteriously over time before the plumber kicks the bucket. You want to find a starting place close enough to the action to be compelling but distant enough to allow for suspense; that's a delicate (and difficult) balance to strive for in every story.

Find the Thing that Frightens You:

Giving a strategic glimpse of what frightens you can lessen the effect of writing about that thing's impact on you, and it can, at the same time, increase the impact of that thing (whatever it is) on your readers. Find the single facet of that thing that frightens you--that which most everyone can relate to--and use that one facet as a weapon to frighten your readers.

End with a Twist:

An ending that defies expectation and adds a new twist can make for a memorable story, but please remember, I said twist, not gimmick. The gimmick, that which is utterly unexpected because there has not been even a telepathic hint of its possibility, risks totally blowing the suspension of disbelief and ruining all your previous hard work.

Those are just a few excerpts from On Writing Horror. If you are a horror writer, it's a great reference book that you'll want on your shelf.

The popularity of horror novels and stories attest to the fact that most of us love a scary story. They get our blood pumping, our adrenaline rushing, and bring out our most primal instinct: fear.

Here are a few things that make a story scary for me:
  • The fear of what could happen
  • The probability that it will happen
  • Believability, even if the subject matter may seem unbelievable
  • If the story is true
In celebration of Halloween, I'd like a treat from you. And this is not a trick question. Excuse the pun, couldn't resist! What frightens you? What makes a story scary to you as a writer or reader?

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Friday, October 30, 2009


Friday Speak Out: A Revelation!, Guest Post by Jennifer Flaten

A Revelation!

by Jennifer Flaten

A few days ago, I finished my usual day of writing. I was proud of myself I completed almost all of my to-do items. This is a big deal for a procrastinator like me.

One item scratched off my list, a short profile piece on Patsy Cline.

As I clicked send on the piece, I realized I really enjoyed writing it. Not only did I learn about Patsy, but also I thought I managed to make the profile interesting, not dry.

It was fun and I looked forward to doing another one.

Later as I was telling my husband about my day and talking animatedly about my work, I realized just how much I liked what I did.

It was a wonderful feeling. Too bad, it had been missing for so long.

Prior to writing, full time I worked as an office manager/administrative assistant.

I loved what I did. My heart went pitter-patter at the thought of spending the day wrestling bank statements into submission and making journal entries.

I knew I was good at what I did I always came home with sense of accomplishment.

Then one day I was laid off. In an instant both my job and identity vanished along with my steady paycheck.

I turned to my writing which up until that time, was a little sideline that I did for fun and spending money. Now I was trying to turn my writing into my full time job.

I spent a lot of time building relationships with clients, looking for gigs and writing pieces that paid money but I wasn’t enjoying myself.

There was this little voice was whispering in my ear that I wasn’t a “real” writer. I worried about “making” it, about being a “real” writer and being good so I could get more work.

I wasn’t having fun. Each day I just worked away with no sense of love or feelings of accomplishment.

Even publication didn’t lessen my feelings. If I was published I still worried it wasn’t good enough. I wondered would a real writer read it and think Pffft who gave this woman a keyboard.

I couldn‘t shake the worry. I was drowning in what ifs-what if this isn’t good enough, what if this leads nowhere.

I still felt like I was pretending to be a writer.

Then came that fateful day, when I finished a piece that I really had fun writing that I knew was good piece.

I realized that-Hey, I am pretty good at this and I like it.

This came in the same week that I had some other small, yet exciting, offers come my way.

All of sudden I knew that I really liked what I was doing. I wasn’t just pretending to be a writer I was a writer.

Jennifer lives with her husband, twin daughters and son in Wisconsin. She is a freelance writer. She has found the kids provide and endless source of amusing and not so amusing topics. When she is not in front of the computer, she and the kids can be found baking, cooking or playing outside. Read her work at Baby Chapters,, Examiner, and Grubstreet.


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


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Thursday, October 29, 2009


Inspiration to Keep the Idea Well Full

Two questions I’ve been asked a lot lately have been, (1) “What influences you the most when you sit down to write?” and (2)“How do you keep coming up with new stuff? Surely, the well must run dry at times.” I’ll start with the second one.

You would think the idea well would be a bit arid at times. I mean how can a person have the brainpower to continuously pump out one story after another with some sort of inspirational message in it? I guess those writers specializing in the Inspirational genre don’t really think about it. I know I don’t sit at my computer every day and say, “Okay, I’m going to be motivating today!” Because, man, there are days where I am so unmotivated.

This may sound over-simplistic but I’ve found that all you really need to do is listen and pay attention to everything around you. I compare it to seeing the world through a child’s eyes: Get down and investigate, ask questions, be curious, and, most of all, find beauty where you never thought there could be.

Most of the people and situations I’ve written about have been…well…simple things. You know, an every day person doing extraordinary things that would normally go unnoticed. I write about people who’ve touched me so deeply my heart overflows. How about writing about how you, or someone else persevered over adversity, beat the odds or “made it”? These make the best stories because people can relate to them. They inspire because they are about every day people: People we know, people we strive to be, people who are told they “can’t” but do it anyway.

There is enough tragedy and negativity in the world today and, unfortunately, these feelings are contagious. But do you know what? So is happiness, love and peace. Think about what happens when you throw a smile at someone as you pass her. Even the sourest of faces will return a smile (most of the time).

So, dear writers, you can see the well will only go dry if we let it. All we need to do is look around. There’s inspiration all around us. And as long as I’m writing, I’ll be sure to keep making deposits into that well so other people’s thirst for hope will always be quenched.

Oh! And to answer question #1, I think I’d have to say what influences me the most is my daughter, Jaimie who lives with SPD and Dyspraxia. If she can get up every single day uncertain how the environment around her will make her feel with her beautiful, brave face…I can too (albeit with a much older, more wrinkled and tired face). How can I not find inspiration from that?

Happy writing, everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Words We LOVE to Overuse

by LuAnn Schindler

Read through your writing, and you will undoubtedly find a word, several words, or even phrases you tend to repeat. For those of us who write on a daily basis, the practice of penning the same word in the majority of our stories may seem like happenstance.

Or maybe it plays out like the movie Groundhog Day - no matter how we try to cut the word, it keeps popping up in our writing And then we begin a new day, with a new goal or assignment, and guess what happens? That's right. There's the pesky word or phrase, taunting us, daring us to strike it from the page.

It happens to the best of writers as often as it occurs with the novices. Recently, I flipped through a handful of poems I was contemplating for a contest entry. In three of the five, one word and one phrase glared at me and begged for a fresh reprieve.

At first I thought it was a coincidence, but then I scanned my memory bank and remembered what was happening in my life at that time. I understood why those words and the connotations stood out.

But a quarter-life crisis doesn't excuse a writer from overusing a word. No, I'll keep that until I reach my three-quarter life crisis (which, luckily, is still close to 30 years away!).

Yesterday, a New York Times standards editor instructed Times reporters to delete the word 'famously' from their vocabulary. Precision is necessary, and 'famously' doesn't always create a sense of preciseness.

Like most of you, I have a personal list of words that make me cringe when I see them in print. I could share the entire list, but I'm afraid some readers may not have all day to peruse my laundry list of pet peeves associated with writing vocabulary.

Sure, many of them are basic grammar errors that can be easily solved.

But some words, like 'love' and 'hate' bother me. When writers overuse emotional words that have a strong meaning, the words become watered down and run off the page, splashing into a puddle of jumbled letters that simply want to be rescrambled and formed into new words.

When that happens, a writer loses the connection she's established with readers. She alienates potential clients when she chooses to fill the page with overused, often misused, terms. Yes, say what you mean, but be precise! Love the new fill-in-the-blank-NYT-bestselling-author's-name-here book, you say. Love it! Love it?

No, tell me how you really feel about it.

Tell me the truth and tell me precisely why you enjoy it.

What words are on your overused (or often misused) list?

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Interview with Doris E. Wright, Runner Up in WOW!s Spring 09 Flash Fiction Contest

Congratulations to Doris E. Wright of Homer, New York. Her flash fiction piece, You Can See, earned runner up honors in the Spring 2009 Flash Fiction Contest.
In addition to short stories and poetry, Doris completed her first novel about a the offbeat relationship between a middle-aged man and his philosophical bedding plant. Now, Doris ponders if agents that specialize in quirky, philosophical, comical, literary-satirical character studies actually exist.

A workshop veteran, Doris has participated in a poetry workshop at Colgate Writers' Conference and previously attended the Colgate Conference's novel-intensive workshop, a fiction workshop at The New York State Summer Writers' Institute at Skidmore College, and the Algonkian novel workshop.

Doris has a varied background: she's been a teacher and a newspaper reporter and feature writer. Now, she concentrates on traveling around the world. In the last three years, she and her husband Don, an African historian, have traveled in China, France, Spain, The Gambia, and Mali.

If you haven't had the opportunity to read her story, saunter on over and read it. Trust me, you won't be disappointed!

WOW: Congratulations, Doris, on receiving runner up honors for your story. I'm super impressed with the quality workshops you've participated in. How have these opportunities helped your writing skills?
Doris: While each has had its value, the workshops I attended at Colgate University were especially helpful. This summer I took the poetry workshop and, though I’ve written poetry since high school and studied it in college, I found there was a lot to learn, especially in terms of form. The craft talks and readings were wonderful; inspiring. But for me, the most valuable thing about workshops is being immersed in the writing world for a week or two. Even at meals or on a walk across campus, you are talking and thinking about writing all the time. So you start to take yourself seriously and really think of yourself as a writer (which means, you better get busy).

WOW: I like the idea of being immersed in the writing world and learning to take the craft seriously. What advice would you offer a writer contemplating attending her first conference?
Doris: Don’t be afraid. Most everyone is open and accepting. Approach people, even the established writers, and ask questions about their work and writing experience. Take advantage of every opportunity, don’t miss a talk or a reading; and read your work to others if you have a chance. It can be exhausting, but it will be over soon and you don’t want to miss anything.

WOW: A conferences sounds like workable fun! Imagine how much a writer can learn while participating! You previously worked as a news reporter. How does your background as a feature writer shape your fiction?
Doris: I suppose any writing, in the sense that it’s practice, contributes to your ability. You are constrained by time and style requirements, which is a useful writing exercise. And, when you work for a newspaper you encounter interesting situations and unusual people who can stimulate your imagination.

WOW: Imagination and unusual people and situations really do help stimulate the writing mind. Your story has an unusual situation and even the title lends itself to various interpretations. Plus, the title contains a touch of irony. How important is the title for flash fiction?
Doris: I think finding the right title is fun—I love words, and plays on words. The title in flash fiction is important: it gives you the opportunity to tell the reader something you couldn’t say because of your word limit and point them in a certain direction.

WOW: That's a great point to make. Flash fiction can be limiting, but quality stories create a strong story arc and are filled with details and symbolism. You Can See contains a lot of symbolism about seeing and sight. What's your method for incorporating so much symbolism into the prescribed word limit?
Doris: I have no method. To be honest, it wasn’t deliberate. Perhaps I injected symbolism reflexively or intuitively? I suppose writing poetry might bring that element to my writing. I’m not sure.

WOW: Perhaps you did! It's so fascinating to see how a story and all its details take shape. Let's talk about how the writing process works for you. When do you write? How do you develop ideas?
Doris: I don’t have the discipline I should and tend to let things distract me. I’m better off writing in the morning, before other things snatch me up. At one point I ordered myself to sit down and write for at least an hour most days of the week. I got a lot done that way because once you start you tend to keep going. It’s the starting that’s hard. As far as developing ideas, they mostly just come to me. I tend to see things ironically—like, what would it be like if I was out driving and suddenly there was a rhinoceros crossing the road—and that’s why my writing could be considered dark or quirky.

WOW: I agree that it is all to easy to get distracted. Eventually, I get back on track and stick to my schedule. It helps when deadlines must be met and the project list continues to grow. What current projects are you working on?
Doris: Although my novel is finished, I’m still tweaking it and seeking an agent. I have several longer, short stories that I want to polish, poems that need work, and ideas for other short stories. There’s a memoir in my future, I think.

WOW: Doris, you've traveled to so many interesting spots, I hope your memoir includes stories about your travels. Good luck with your projects! Contests can help a writer fine-tune her craft. You've had success in previous WOW! contests. What elements do you feel are necessary to make a solid flash piece?
Doris: Certainly you must convey an idea or event that is, in one way or another, complete in itself. But, I think, it needs to have emotional weight to it—something that makes the reader think or moves the reader, and makes them reflect back on it. With that emotional component, you expand your word limit, involving the reader and their own experience.
WOW: Great advice, especially for writers contemplating entering a flash contest. Congratulations again, Doris, and I hope to read more of your work.

Interview by LuAnn Schindler
Follow luann on Twitter @luannschindler

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WOW! Facebook Friends and Fans Contest

If you're on Facebook and are a fan of WOW!, we are having a contest for Fans. You could win a really cute tee, tote, and hoodie, as well as a subscription to Premium-Green Writers Markets. If you are not a fan yet and you are on Facebook, consider becoming a fan today. Visit our Facebook Fan Page.

Official Rules:


Thank you for being a fan of WOW! Women On Writing on Facebook. We would like to have a contest to thank you for becoming a fan and to encourage you to invite your Facebook friends to be our fans, too! It’s simple to enter.

1. Invite anyone interested in writing, books, magazines, and so on to be a fan of WOW! Women On Writing on Facebook. Underneath our logo on the fan page, there’s a link that says, “Suggest to Friends.” Click on this link.

2. Your friends should pop up, and you can click on their photos and names. Then send an invitation to any of your friends who you think will be interested.

3. On the wall of WOW!’s fan page, please leave a comment, such as: “I just entered WOW!’s Friends and Fans contest. I invited 10 friends to become fans of WOW!”

4. Your friends need to be invited and your comment posted on our wall by Saturday, October 31, 8:00 p.m. CST. One winner will be announced on Sunday, November 1 on the fan page and with a personal Facebook message. (Winner drawn randomly from comments left on the wall.)

5. The prizes are a WOW! Women On Writing t-shirt, tote bag, hoodie, and 12-month subscription to Premium Green.

6. You can invite between 1 and 1,000,000 friends and be eligible to enter the contest. As long as you invite at least one of your Facebook friends to be a fan of WOW!, and you leave a comment on our wall, you can enter the contest.

Thanks in advance for participating, and stay tuned for our next fan contest in November, which might just have something to do with photos. . .!

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Monday, October 26, 2009


Having Multiple Projects on the Burner

I am loving to write more and more as time goes along. I was thinking about this the other day and my thoughts led me to the following question: what is it about writing that most excites me and keeps me feeling such a high level of satisfaction from my work?

For me, the answer is that it allows for multiple projects going on at the same time. I always enjoyed switching among subject areas when doing homework growing up. I likewise always participated in multiple extracurriculars and thrived in times where I had a lot to do and continuous deadlines approaching.

Sure enough, that's the same thing that gets me jumping at any chance to write. For example, in recent weeks, I have put some final revisions to soon-forthcoming publications. In the same week, I would likewise start first outline sketches of new articles or find a random contest and submit an essay to try my luck. In other words, in the writing world, there are not only different genres to try, but different medium as well as different stages of the writing process. I can drop one submission in a person's email box and instead of waiting to hear back, I can begin tinkering with another contest entry or a new creation altogether. When something comes back for revisions, I can drop writing for a while to do edits or proofread a colleague's work.

In short, I enjoy writing not because I have a particular story or creation I have to get down because of an inner compulsion, but rather, because I enjoy the tick tick tick of the clock, the challenge to put a quality product out by deadline, and more over, because I know that there are more opportunities and stages of the writing process awaiting me. That next stage is unknown, but alluring nonetheless. Success or failure-bound, the best thing a writer could do in my opinion, is to have multiple projects on the burner. It's amusing, extends the mental agility and skillsets of a writer, and moreover, it keeps one learning on the job so to speak.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The 2009 Muse Online Writers Conference

By Jill Earl

I’m finally coming down from my annual Muse high. This year, from October 12th to October 18th, I attended the Muse Online Writers Conference, an annual event packed with more than enough activities to satisfy any writer. The first Muse Conference came on the scene back in 2006, when co-founders Lea Schizas and Carolyn Howard Johnson saw an opportunity to create a conference where writers from around the world could attend, without the limits of money or distance. And best of all, everything is FREE!

I first started attending the Muse three years ago, and have seen it grow better each year. I’m consistently amazed at the quality of the conference, how Lea manages to line up an excellent roster of presenters, putting together a vast array of workshops and chats, pretty much accomplishing everything by herself. Her dedication is awe-inspiring.

I continue to register for the Muse each year because it’s a great way to experiment with various forms of writing. Right now, I’m focusing primarily with nonfiction, so I signed up for workshops in pet writing, personal essays and writing for trade magazines. The beauty of this conference, however, is that you don’t have to limit yourself only to the sessions you’ve signed up for. Because everything’s online, you’re free to pop into any workshop or chat that piques your interest, whether that’s children’s writing, writing press releases, setting up your website or preparing your headshot.

A new addition to this year’s conference was pitch sessions with various publishers. Special workshops and chats were offered beforehand, so attendees could prepare their pitches and be ready to meet with presenters during the conference. Great opportunity for writers to acquire and improve pitching skills, and perhaps get an offer from a favorite publisher.

If attending the Muse Writers Conference sounds like a plan for next year, check out WOW!’s review of the event with Lea Schizas, which appeared in our September 2007 issue here:

Also, keep an eye out for registration notices for the 2010 Conference, which should appear sometime next month.

The Muse Online Writers Conference. Consider adding it to your conference list next year, you’ll be glad you did!

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Saturday, October 24, 2009


Take A Walk Towards Inspiration

I'm always trying to find a way to inspire a story or an article idea. Believe me, there are thousands of ways that I've tried going about getting inspiration. But, there is one way that, well, frankly works quite a lot, but of course I have to get motivated to do it.

How many of us really like to exercise? Not many, let's face it. We all feel like it is a chore to get out there and walk, run, ride a bike or go to a gym.

Today, after listening to my husband trying to get himself motivated to go on is Saturday jog, I finally kicked myself to go on a walk. I actually did it because, well, I didn't have an idea to write this particular BLOG. I wanted a way to think of how to inspire myself and, hopefully, others to find a way to write. The past few days, I haven't felt like writing or frankly wanting to write, which is bad for me. I love to write, but for some reason, I haven't wanted to. I felt as if there was nothing to write about. So, one way I have found that helps me kick my writing into gear sometimes is through exercise, but not just any exercise, it has to be a form I want to do. Walking and hiking are great ways to help get my mind to working. There are things around to see and, heck, some story is sure to pop out at me or jog a memory. Today, as I walked through my neighborhood lots of ideas started to jump out at me. The first was a kid climbing up in a crab apple tree. I got to thinking about a time when my cousins and I sat up in one eating crab apples 'til all of us has upset stomachs. I actually couldn't stop giggling. Then I walked by the first of three yard sales. This made me think about my Grandmother and her passion for yard sales. If it weren't for age I am sure she would be out there shopping for the next pretty trinket. She loves to find little things she might need around her home. I have to admit, I actually stopped and looked around for some little bobble that she might like.

If you ever feel stuck, slip on a pair of walking shoes and head out the door. Not only are you getting a great little bit of exercise but it clears the mind, it helps you to think and clear things out. Heck, I actually had almost forgotten about it. I was actually getting so frustrated that I wasn't sure what to do to clear my mind to write. Now that I am more open and can think a little bit, I feel that I am now inspired to get busy on a few articles and make my clients happy. Okay, so I hope to make them happy.

Hiking is another great way to come up with ideas. If you like to get out and hike, find a place that you like to go and just start walking, look around you. There might be a critter up in the tree that talks you into a great article that could lead to another one and so on.

Living in a small town as I do has its advantages and disadvantages. We are low on crime but high on a lot of other things. One of which is nature and another is great friendly neighbors. If you live in a big city, you might find inspiration as well. How about the neighbor fixing a flat tire, or the one that looks like they're going to be late to work? What story could they help you create?

Take a walk towards inspiration, you may be surprised at what you can find!

Happy Writing!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Friday Speak Out: The Value of Critiques, Guest Post by Kim Smith

The Value of Critiques

by Kim Smith

I recently entered a writing competition that offered a critique of my entry by no less than three judges. Excitement filled my heart. In the absence of any literary professionals in my life, ie: teachers or editors or authors, I'm not always sure of what is working, and what isn't.

Sure, I've entered various online critique groups, but I've never taken them that seriously. After all, these are other novice writers, like myself, and the critiques offered usually contain only vague words of praise. While some writing peers do offer helpful advice as to what they think is awkward, or wordy, or redundant, what I really crave is a nuts and bolts analysis of grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation.

So, I awaited this particular critique with bated breath. When the envelope arrived, I ripped it open on the spot, ignoring the slight drizzle that misted the cool air. All three judges praised my fourth-place entry, pointed out what they loved, and said I was an excellent writer.

Disappointment flooded through me. I was hoping for little red notations all over my story. I wanted to know WHY I didn't take first place, and what I could have done to improve my writing. I wanted to know what I'd done wrong, as well as what I'd done right.

The only point of contention involved the title of my story. Two hated it; one loved it. I thought to myself, "This is it?" However, after rereading the three critiques and calming down in the process, I realized that I still appreciated the time and effort the judges put in for this contest. They would have read hundreds of entries, and it would be too time-consuming to nitpick their way through all of them.

Will I opt to receive another critique? Of course I will! The critiques did bolster my writing self-esteem, which can always use elevating. Each one did say, after all, that I was a good writer, and who doesn't like to hear that? I will continue to take advantage of critiques where they are offered, because any nugget of concrete advice, no matter how small, is invaluable. And frankly, the anticipation of receiving opinions/compliments on my writing is an irresistible lure!

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


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


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Thursday, October 22, 2009


Finding--and keeping--the love of reading

Paddington Bear, to let you in on a secret, started my love of writing. Michael Bond, the author of the Paddington Bear series, became my hero when I wrote him as a 9-year-old and told him I wanted to be a writer. While he was never my mentor, his approachability has left a mark through my reading and writing career.
We carried on a correspondence--heaven knows what I wrote him as a pre-teen fan--and each time he kindly responded and sent along a note from Paddington, as well. I remember discovering each new volume of Paddington and then being led into other books by my growing enthusiasm for reading.
As I watch my children devour books, it makes me wishing for the first blushes of a first favorite childhood book. Although I get it secondhand in the wide-eyed discovery I witness as my son checks out all the Magic Tree House books as the characters take him around the world or watching the hours my daughter spends alongside Nancy Drew as she unlocks another mystery.
Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy finding a new voice in literature. I love reading a well-paced mystery or an excellent magazine article ... any author who is able to bring me out of my day-to-day life and transport me to Brazil or to a farm in France.
But there is something magical about that first book crush.
And, while I miss reading my old friend Paddington and his creator, or exchanging letters with them, they taught me so much. In fact, those two are the beginnings to my long-term love story with books, which continues to this day.
What was your first book love?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. She also blogs at, delving into creativity in everyday places and is planning a series of workshops. She plans on taking at least one scrumptious book while her husband is traveling. Any suggestions?

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Children's Short Story Dos and Don'ts (Part 1)

Many writers who want to pen short stories for children dream of getting published in a popular kids' magazine like Highlights for Children or Cricket. Those are great goals, but writing for children is not as easy as it looks. As a matter of fact, many children's writers will tell you it is more difficult. Here are some Dos and Don'ts to make the journey a little easier:

**Do tackle difficult issues that kids are curious about such as drug abuse, lying, sibling rivalry, jealousy, peer pressure, and so on. Do feel like you can also write about simple topics such as picnics, recess, or a day at the river.

**Don’t make your story preachy. The last thing children want to read is a story where a lesson is being preached at them. You can have a lesson in your story, but it needs to be subtle!

**As a rule, do make your characters a little older than your target audience. For example, if you are writing for a magazine with a target audience of 9 to 12, make your main characters 12 or 13 if possible. Children enjoy reading stories about older children more than younger children.

**Don’t follow the age rule if it messes up your story. Don’t feel like you have to tell in the first few paragraphs how old the main character is. If you can work the age into the story naturally, fine. If not, then the reader should just get a feeling that the main character is around the age of the reader.

**Do allow children to solve their own problems and be the main characters in the story.

**Don’t allow adults to come in and save the day. In most children’s stories (and of course, there are always exceptions), adults should play a background or minor character role.

**Do follow guidelines exactly. If the magazine says the story must be between 300 and 500 words, then make it no shorter than 300 and no longer than 500 words. Titles do not count in the word count.

I have some more Dos and Don'ts, but I will save them for my next post on writing for children--part deux as they say. Do you have any others you've learned that you can add to the list?

Happy writing!
Margo Dill
"Read These Books and Use Them"
photo from

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Madeline Mora-Summonte: Spring 2009 Contest Runner Up

Congratulations to Madeline Mora-Summonte for placing in the Spring 2009 Flash Fiction contest with her story, "Poster Child."

Here's a little information about Madeline:

She has written poetry, personal essays, and book reviews; but her first love is fiction in all its forms--from flash to novels. Her work has appeared in over twenty publications, including Highlights for Children, Storyhouse, and Every Day Fiction. Her story, “The Empty Nest,” will be included in W. W. Norton's upcoming Hint Fiction Anthology. She attends mystery author Blaize Clement's weekly writing workshop where the talent and creativity of the group continues to amaze her. Madeline is currently busy writing and revising her women's fiction manuscript. She lives with her husband/best friend in Florida. You can visit her website at

WOW: Congratulations, Madeline, on being a runner up in the flash fiction contest. What was your inspiration for "Poster Child?"

Madeline: I’d glance at the “Missing” posters on my way into those big box discount stores, but I’d never really see them, you know? I think for many of us they do start to seem like wallpaper like the woman in the story whose own child is safe and sound and playing beneath them. One day, I just stopped and looked at them, really looked at them. Then I just kept asking myself questions: “Who else is stopping and looking?” “Why?” “What if?” And that’s when Megan appeared.

WOW: Great points. It is interesting how your story came out of something that we see every day, but only when you really stopped to think about it. Your description is amazing in "Poster Child," from the coin-operated kiddie rides to the actual description of the old MISSING posters. Was it difficult to describe everything you needed to with such few words available?

Madeline: Thank you! It’s a constant balancing act. Too much description overloads the story, and the plot and characters get lost; but too little makes the story seem set in limbo. It’s tricky, finding just the right detail and then the right amount of it. I wanted people to know that store, to have been in that store, without me naming it or describing it brick by brick. I hope I accomplished that.

WOW: You definitely did describe well for me and obviously the judges, too! Why do you enter contests? Would you suggest entering contests to most fiction writers?

Madeline: I tend to enter mostly flash fiction contests because they give me a nice, tight word count; a deadline; and sometimes, a theme. When I’m working on a novel, I’m in this murky place that seems to have no discernible framework or an end in sight. Flash fiction generally, and contests in particular, give me a structure to work within and a finish line I can see.

I think contests are a great way to stretch that writing muscle, but you also have to be aware of the scams out there. Make sure the contest is legit. Read the fine print about rights, etc. before entering.

WOW: I agree with you that contests are a great way to maybe try something new without investing a ton of time in it. It is nice to focus on more than one project at a time. I think that helps writers' block! You attend Blaize Clement's weekly writing workshop. Can you tell us a little about this? Is it like a critique group, mini-conference, writing/brainstorming time?

Madeline: I am extremely lucky to be a part of this workshop. It’s like a haven for creativity and expression. We are a diverse group: different ages, different backgrounds, different goals. But one of the things we have in common is this desire to create and to play with words and to tell stories.

Blaize, who is the author of the Dixie Hemingway mystery series (St. Martin’s Press), has created this safe place for all of that to happen. We usually do timed writing--Blaize gives a word or a phrase, anything from “a room” to “an omen”--and we write for about five minutes. Then we take turns reading aloud what we wrote. NO critiquing allowed! We can only mention something that strikes us--a great line or a vivid turn of phrase or an interesting character. If nothing strikes us, then we just move on to the next reader.

Blaize also talks about craft, and she gives us some insight into the world of publishing. We all sometimes talk about great or not-so-great books we’ve read or movies or TV shows. But it always starts and ends with the writing.

WOW: That group sounds awesome and like a lot of fun. Your description might encourage others to start a group like it in their communities! Congratulations on your publication success. What are some goals you have for yourself and your writing career?

Madeline: Thank you! Well, one of my goals is to break into the top three of a WOW! Flash Fiction Contest! Don’t get me wrong. I was thrilled to previously make Honorable Mention twice and now the Top Ten twice, but to rank higher has become a personal challenge of sorts. Although, maybe I should change my goal to be the person who makes it into the Top Ten the most times!

My writing goals are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. I want to keep writing stories and hopefully one day, novels, that move people the way I’ve been moved by the many wonderful books I’ve read, and will continue to read, in my lifetime.

WOW: (laughs) Madeline, I love your writing goals and the fact that you are going to keep entering WOW!'s flash fiction contest. Think of how many interviews you could accumulate! (smiles) Seriously, we are glad you took the time with us today to share your thoughts on writing. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Interview conducted by Margo L. Dill,

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Monday, October 19, 2009


Therese Walsh, author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy, launches her blog tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Therese Walsh planned to be a sleep researcher but, through the twists and turns of life, ended up as a researcher at Prevention Magazine. She began writing bits and pieces for the magazine and soon found her true passion—writing.

Therese’s love of writing led her to co-found Writer Unboxed, a blog for writers about the craft and business of genre fiction, and begin her own novel. Her debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was released on October 13, 2009 (Shaye Areheart Books).

When she isn’t writing, Therese feasts on dark chocolate to keep up with the boundless energy of her husband, two children, and Jack Russell dog.

Find out more about Therese by visiting her website:

The Last Will of Moira Leahy
By Therese Walsh

Maeve was the fun loving twin; Moira was the quiet twin. Eventually, young love began changing Moira when they were 16 years old. But then tragedy struck. After the loss of Moira, Maeve became more like her—quieter, more orderly, even boring.

After a decade of being a shadow of herself, Maeve wins a keris or Javanese dagger that reminds her of her childhood playing pirates with Moira. Not long after she finds her life plunged into chaos: anonymous notes, travel to Rome, and a strange riddle with roots in the past to unravel. Is Maeve’s adventure a gift to jolt her out of her routine existence or a punishment manipulated by a twin from beyond the grave?

Published by Shaye Areheart Books
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN# o307461572

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Therese's book, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Most writers will confess to having one...or two...or three practice novels in "the drawer" that helped them learn how to write. Do you have any unpublished works in your "drawer" that helped you learn how to write?

Therese: The novel in my drawer is “take one” of The Last Will of Moira Leahy (then called “Unbounded”), which is an entirely different book and has the structure of a traditional love story/romance.

WOW: Take one! Tell us how two unpublished manuscripts equals one published novel. You began with a man-woman love story and ended up with a story of twins. Were these two separate manuscripts that you combined or was it a drastic rewrite of one?

Therese: Let me first say that if I hadn’t believed in this story wholeheartedly—not my ability to tell the story but the story itself—I never would’ve done this. But I did believe, and I had to press on and do my best.

Here’s what happened: I started writing in 2002. I’d never written adult fiction before, and I hadn’t studied my craft either, so I pretty much didn’t know what I was doing. The story drifted all over the board. It had the structure of a romance but with content that veered into decidedly unromantic territory—including the emergence of my heroine Maeve’s deceased twin sister and a Javanese dagger (keris) that insisted on being center stage. When I submitted the story to agents in 2003, some were very encouraging—they liked my voice and thought the story was interesting, some even admitted the story had personally touched them and made them cry—but the overwhelming consensus was that it would not sell as a romance. It was agent Deidre Knight who told me I should be writing women’s fiction, as the emotional tenor of the book spoke to that genre.

Drastic rewrite? Oh, yes. I rewrote pretty much every word, and changed the plot and structure of the book. I pitched some characters and created some new ones. I maintained my two prior settings—Betheny, New York and Rome, Italy, but I introduced a critical new setting—Castine, Maine, where the twins grew up. The love story component, though still important to the book as a whole, took on a lesser role.

WOW: I can't imagine having what was, in your eyes, a finished novel and going back almost to square one. Some of us have trouble just rewriting an opening chapter! Did you have pangs when you were asked to rewrite?

Therese: I definitely had pangs. I still remember the night Deidre’s email came in, how sick I felt. Because even though I’d started as a newbie, I had evolved throughout the process of writing that story—I’d embraced critique and worked for months to edit my tome, at one point trimming 30k words from its pages. I’d spent two years on that version. So, yes, pangs.

WOW: What made you come around to Deidre’s way of thinking?

Therese: I thought hard about Deidre’s advice, and considered which scenes were most central to the story and best reflected the heart of the book. Surprise! They didn’t involve the hero, Noel, but rather Maeve’s twin, Moira. That’s when I knew Deidre was right, and the book should’ve been written as women’s fiction. Before I started writing, though--I moped, I doubted. Did I have what it took to make it in publishing? Was I wasting my time tackling this story again? Should I trash the concept and start something new? But the characters wouldn’t let me be; I had to try.

WOW: Any advice for writers about how to decide what is helpful criticism and what is just the whim of some agent or editor?

Therese: I think it’s important to be wide open to criticism. That can be hard, because as writers who hone in on emotional truths, we can be thin-skinned peeps. Criticism can hurt. But it’s what we need, in part, to become better writers. You have to put yourself in a Zen place to accept critique—assume that others have your story’s best interests at heart when you hear what they have to say, then think deeply about what they’ve offered you. If you’ve successfully set aside your pride, your gut will tell you if that person is right or wrong.

If you’re still in doubt, bounce professional advice around with your critique group. What do they think? Pay attention if you’re hearing the same criticism from more than one source.

WOW: What was more difficult--the original writing or the rewrite? How long did it take?

Therese: I first started writing in 2002, and that draft was much easier for me—in part because I was happily ignorant! I started the big rewrite in 2005, then scrapped everything again and started for a final time in 2006—this time with an outline. (Yes, finally, an outline. I was learning and had studied my craft over the years.)

The hardest part of the book was managing the interwoven narratives between Maeve Leahy in the present day and the twins in the past. These “out of time” sequences are their own narrative and not your traditional flashbacks (think English Patient). I remember nearly ripping my hair out as I worked to sequence everything, wanting each present-day and out-of-time sequence to share a vibe, and needing for the stories to dovetail at specific times and in important ways.

WOW: I can’t imagine juggling not only twin characters but also the present and the past—all in one book! Twins and their relationships are key to The Last Will of Moira Leahy. Tell us, are you a twin? If not, how did you come to such an understanding of this unique interaction?

Therese: No, and there aren’t any twins in my family. When I was drafting the first version of the book, Moira just popped up one day, unplanned. I didn’t have more than a common-man’s knowledge of twins until I began research for the big rewrite. At that time, I read a lot of books and online articles. One of the very best books, in my opinion, was the slim and accessible Twin Stories: Their Mysterious and Unique Bond by Susan Kohl. I loved it for its firsthand accounts of twin phenomena. So, so many of the things I’d already included in the story were supported by that book—another sign Last Will wanted to be written, I thought.

WOW: What did you do to advance your craft? Take classes, read writing books, enter contests?

Therese: I didn’t take any classes and entered few contests, but I have a library of craft books. Here are a few of my favorites:

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (plus the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook)
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation by Noah Lukeman
Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

WOW: I’m sure we’ll all be devouring those books—hoping they can help us create a novel as riveting as yours. So now that The Last Will of Moira Leahy has finally been released what's next? Is there another novel in the works? More twins?

Therese: Yes, I’m writing another women’s fiction novel with elements of psychological suspense, mystery, romance and mythical realism. It’s a quirkier book than Last Will, but so far I love it. And so far, no twins. But I am still drafting. :-)

WOW: Quirkier than a journey of discovery involving a lost twin and daggers? I can’t wait!

Want to join Therese on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

October 19, 2009 Monday
Therese will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Therese's book!

October 20, 2009 Tuesday
Therese Walsh, author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy, stops by The Divine Miss Mommy to discuss: The Importance of Being True to Yourself.

October 21, 2009 Wednesday
Visit Peeking Between the Pages for a review that peeks between the pages of The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

October 22, 2009 Thursday
At A Book Blogger’s Diary, Therese tells us how you can manage to inject foreign lands into a book even if your passport has never been stamped. Stop by to tell where you’ve always dreamed of traveling and enter to win a copy of The Last Will of Moira Leahy!

October 23, 2009 Friday
How can a traveler have an insider’s experience at their destination? Therese stops by Suzanne Kamata's blog, Gaijin Mama, to explain how conversations with the locals can make your destination come alive.

October 26, 2009 Monday
Twitter have your head spinning? Therese Walsh stops by Whole Latte Life to give us the lowdown on Twitter. And don't forget to enter for a free copy of her novel: The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

October 27, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by Writer Inspired today for a great interview with debut novelist Therese Walsh. Find out more about a novel that evolved from a romance to an eerie story of twins and then enter to win a copy of her book The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

October 28, 2009 Wednesday
Fellow readaholics unite! Bridget Hopper has invited novelist Therese Walsh to visit her blog Readaholic. First read Therese’s post and then enter to win a copy of her book The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

October 29, 2009 Thursday
Stop by A Book a Week today for a review of Therese Walsh’s novel The Last Will of Moira Leahy. Then stop by her sister site Donna’s Book Pub tomorrow for a chance to win a free copy!

October 30, 2009 Friday
Donna Volkenannt interviews Therese Walsh about the challenges of writing her first novel. And gives everyone a chance to win the book that keeps you guessingThe Last Will of Moira Leahy!

November 2, 2009 Monday
Should Therese Walsh’s The Last Will of Moira Leahy be on your To Be Read list? Swapna Krishna tell us on her blog Skrishna’s Books and also gives everyone a chance to enjoy the tale of a twin’s journey of discovery with her book giveaway!

November 3, 2009 Tuesday
Anne Walls of Word Hustler delves into the imagination of Therese Walsh to uncover how she weaved twins, daggers, and pirates into The Last Will of Moira Leahy, a book you can’t put down!

November 4, 2009 Wednesday
Cindy Hudson of Mother Daughter Book Club shows that even adult daughters and moms can enjoy books together with an interview of Therese Walsh. She also gives everyone a chance to win a copy of her novel The Last Will of Moira Leahy!

November 6, 2009 Friday
Stop by Eclectic Book Lover for a great review of The Last Will of Moira Leahy and a fascinating post on mythical realism! And don't forget your chance to win a copy of Therese's book.

November 11, 2009 Wednesday
Don’t miss a post by Therese Walsh, debut novelist of The Last Will of Moira Leahy at the blog Meryl Notes.

November 13, 2009 Friday
It may be Friday the 13th but it’s your lucky day! You get a fascinating peek into a world of Javanese daggers via a post by author Therese Walsh at Day by Day Writer.

We may have many more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to host one of our touring authors, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Therese's page turner, The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009


A Chat With Jennie Linthorst: Sensational Mom, SPD Advocate and Poetry Therapist

For the Parent’s Eyes section of my newsletter this month, I had the pleasure of interviewing an amazing poet, writer, Poetry Therapist, mom and SPD advocate, Jennie Linthorst. Jennie is not only the amazing and dedicated Mom to a sensational little guy, she’s also found a creative way to cope with everything that goes on in her very busy life. I can’t say enough about this wonderful women and thought WOW/Muffin readers would be as inspired by her story as my newsletter readers will be.




CHYNNA: Jennie thanks so much for taking some time out of your very busy day to chat with me. Why don’t you start with telling us a little about yourself.

JENNIE: My name is Jennie Linthorst. I am the mother of a little five-year old guy named Graham, who struggles with Sensory Processing Disorder. The compelling story of our journey with Graham with early intervention therapies is captured in the documentary film, Autistic-Like: Graham’s Story. Go to for more information.

I also work in the field of Poetry Therapy as a Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator. I work privately with women, exploring their personal histories through reading and writing poetry. I captured my own experience as a mother of a special needs child in my book of poetry, “A Mother’s Journey”.

CHYNNA: Thank you for sharing of your bio with us. Let’s start with your writing. What sparked your interest in writing? When did you begin journaling and writing poetry?

JENNIE: My grandmother, Marion Cannon, was a poet who didn’t start writing until her late 60’s. Her writing was well received and had a very honest, autobiographical style to it. In my early twenties, I began reading her book aloud to a group of seniors at a retirement home, and the reaction to the poetry changed my whole career. I found that the participants responded so intensely to the poetry and it sparked discussion of their own memories in their lives. I created my first poetry writing class for these seniors and we simply wrote in reaction to my grandmother’s poetry. I later discovered the field of poetry therapy, and went on to get my certification, and to create a career in therapeutic poetry writing. I found my own voice around this time as well, and worked privately with a writing coach exploring my own history through reading and writing poetry.

CHYNNA: That’s awesome that you are a Poetry Therapist! You know, I’d heard of Poetry Therapy awhile ago and loved the idea. Writing can be a powerfully healing thing on so many levels. Now, you have two amazing men in your life. Did you want to tell us a bit about them?

JENNIE: My husband, Erik Linthorst is an amazing man. He wrote, directed and produced the documentary about our son. He has become a major advocate in the field of Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder exposing the troubles in the system of diagnosis and treatment options for children who struggle with these special needs. We both hope to inspire change in the system and a separate diagnosis for Sensory Processing Disorder. And of course, my son Graham is amazing too. He continues to be my best teacher in this world, as I watch him work so hard to overcome his struggles with his body and his attention. He has a heart of gold, and his loving of all things shines the brightest to everyone who knows him.

CHYNNA: You and Erik are both doing amazing things for the SPD community and you were both very courageous putting your film out. And anyone who has the chance to see you and your little guy together—like in that gorgeous photograph on the cover of your book of poetry—can see the bond you share. Jennie, as you know, Moms just “know” when their child is struggling with something. When did you “know” with Graham? What signs did you see?

JENNIE: As soon as Graham could crawl, he became obsessed with following and crawling on lines and patterns on the floor. He was also consumed with the spinning of wheels. I was in enough “Mommy and Me” classes and things like that where I was watching the other kids play with toys and be interested in engaging people and new things. His repetitive behavior was extreme and by 15 months I knew that he was not “outgrowing” this behavior. He was so social and verbal with us though, that the word autism didn’t quite fit, but the behavior was very concerning. He also was not gesturing or waving bye-bye which is a major developmental delay. He had low muscle tone and he had great trouble using his hands to play and manipulate his environment. We now can see after so much expert intervention that these were all signs of a sensory system that was out of whack, and a body that was unable to motor plan. The behavior was a way for him to comfort himself.

CHYNNA: I think it’s phenomenal that you never gave up and kept forging ahead to find what worked. You are both incredible parents. That must have been so hard on all of you. You’ve personally gone through so much over the last few years with assessments, diagnoses, and treatments. How difficult was all of that for you? How did you cope with it all?

JENNIE: I am very honest in my poetry about how difficult these years have been for me as a mom. I have experienced major anxiety, depression and all of the feelings that come along when you are faced with a child’s diagnosis and a scary path of navigating the right treatments for your child. Erik and I both have sought out self-growth workshops that have been helpful in working on our own inner pain and expectations and judgments of our child that get in the way of being present and moving forward. We continually work on ourselves, knowing that if we can maintain inner peace and love Graham wherever he is in his journey, the more Graham will grow and we will move together as a family. I have to work on it everyday, and especially when we are in a transition like to a new school. The writing helps me be okay with being honest. It’s a way for me to put it on the page and know that it is okay to have those days. It allows me to be compassionate to myself, and to know that I can share my writing with other moms who will feel less alone on their journey. And lastly, we have turned a “crisis” into an opportunity to help others through the documentary, our advocacy and through our work with parents.

CHYNNA: What incredibly dedicated parents you are. I think what I am most impressed with is how you both work hard at being your individual selves so you can be an iron-strong couple and family—so, so important for families with special needs. I love your book of poetry, Jennie. Your poetry absolutely touches a person to the core of the soul. You are very brave to tap into the raw emotions that create such gorgeous imagery. How important is that ability to writing poetry? How can other writers do that?

JENNIE: I believe that everyone is a writer inside. We all have an inner voice, and if you inspire it, and create a safe place for it to express, you will be amazed at what it has to say. I like to tell my clients that a poem is a snapshot of a moment in our lives. We have thousands of those moments inside of our life stories. It is simply about taking the time to capture that snapshot in words. I guide my clients through discussion and inspirational poetry to bring out those moments, and to tap into the whole experience of where you were, what were you wearing, feeling, what was said inside and out- to recreate it through words. That is what I do in my poetry. I take a moment, and work it out on the page.

CHYNNA: I love your expression, “A poem is a snapshot of a moment in our lives,” and it’s so true. Whether an experience was good or bad, stressful or calm, a poem is a fantastic way to get it all out. You’ve done an amazing thing by combing your writing talents with your passion for helping other moms with special needs kids through your amazing “Life Speaks,” website. Can you tell us about that?

JENNIE: On my website, you can view my different class descriptions. All of the workshops are available privately, and many of my clients are from around the world. We communicate through phone or Skype to read the inspirational poetry together, and discuss the personal meanings it brings up for each client, and then I set you up with a writing exercise that you complete on your own and email to me before our next phone/Skype session. The five week workshop for mothers of children with special needs takes the client through the whole story beginning with the birth, the original dream, and then moves to when you know that something may be different, the diagnosis, the inner strength we call upon, how we meet the challenge, how we look for answers and help, how the experience redefines the family, marriage, and lastly the rebirth we experience of acceptance, blessings, our inner healing and our new dream for our children. In many ways, I take the mothers through their own hero’s journey—inspiring them to dive deep, honor their strength, and harvest the wisdom they have gained on this challenging path. The results are truly life changing.

CHYNNA: What a fantastic resource and service you offer. (I was tearing up just with the description of your class for moms with special needs children). I encourage all of our readers to check out your site. Jennie, you also seem very spiritual—I really felt that in several of your poems. Do you find that writing poetry, or writing in general, is a way to connect with that side of ourselves? How important is that for Moms, especially those of us raising special needs children?

JENNIE: Having a child is in itself a spiritual experience—the miracle of it, and the sense that these children come from something greater than ourselves. It was important for me in my own inner healing to find a way to surrender the sense of myself that felt it was somehow my fault, or that it was my responsibility to fix it and control every step of the journey. I have faith that my son’s life is bigger than I can imagine or control. This experience was given to all of us as an opportunity to grow and give back. In my writing, my inner voice is more connected to that place of inner peace, and I find that it will remind me in my poems what I most need to hear, to get back to that place of love and peace in any situation. We all have that ability to find inner peace however you want to define it spiritually or not. My hope is that I can help other moms find that voice of peace.

CHYNNA: I completely agree with you about needing to find inner peace. Thank you for reminding us of how important that is, especially for us Moms. How can we find out more about your work and your classes?

JENNIE: Please visit my website and read through the course descriptions, testimonials and information. You can contact me through the site or through my email to talk more and set up workshop sessions.

CHYNNA: Great, thanks for the links. What inspires you in life and in your writing?

JENNIE: Wow, big question. In life, being with others and sharing life experiences honestly and authentically is most inspiring to me. I thrive on real relationships with family and friends. I love to cook warm meals and invite people into our home, to laugh, cry and feel safe together. In my writing, it is the little moments of the days we live that inspire me the most. It’s the moments when that voice inside says, “I feel this.” It’s the thought you have at the grocery store, or on your drive home. It’s the thought upon waking as your child stands beside your bed at 6am. It’s those inner moments with yourself where you are truly honest.

CHYNNA: It’s the simple things that mean so much and can be so inspiring, isn’t it? It’s amazing how having special little ones remind us of that. How is Graham doing today?

JENNIE: Graham just started Kindergarten at the public school here in Manhattan Beach. He is in a regular classroom and is getting services with the school to help with attention, processing and handwriting. He mostly struggles with regulating his body to stay on task to finish center time activities. Fine motor skills are the hardest for him. We are working hard on handwriting, coloring, cutting and gluing. He seems to love school and his friends. We are still doing some therapies at home to help with homework and to get his body moving through swimming, my gym and one on one Neurofit exercise sessions that work the vestibular and visual processing systems through movement. He is super social and loves to cook, sing songs, ride his bike and go to playdates.

CHYNNA: He sounds like one amazing little guy. I’m so happy to hear things are going so well for him. One last question: Is there anything that you’d like to say to the other Moms or caregivers out there who may be out there searching for answers or comfort?

JENNIE: I want moms to know that they are not alone out there. I want them to know that it’s okay to have all the feelings that come up each and everyday with our special children. And lastly, I want them to know that they have all of the answers and all of the inner peace inside them. Just listen to that inner voice and be gentle with yourself.

Wise, beautiful words from a wise, beautiful woman, mom and friend. Thank you so much to Jennie for sharing her poetry with us as well as tidbits about her life as a Sensational Mom. Through the therapeutic experience of writing out her own story, Jennie has created her five-week expressive writing workshop for mothers of children with special needs. For more information about her wonderful writing workshops, please go to Jennie’s website at


Please be sure to check Chynna’s blog over the next few days as we’ll be posting a contest for a chance to win a signed copy of Jennie’s phenomenal book of poetry. =) We'll also be posting a few of Jennie's amazing poems over there too--you won't want to miss them, believe me.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009


Teen Read Week

by LuAnn Schindler

October 18 - 24 marks Teen Read Week. As a former junior and high school teacher, I've read my share of YA literature. And truthfully, I often find YA literature more compelling than contemporary fiction.

Good YA literature places rich characters in realistic situations. The dialogue is strong, and most importantly, sounds like teens. It's not contrived. Neither are the plots.

If you haven't read a YA novel lately, check one out. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

Some of my favorites include Thirteen Reasons Why, Language of the Goldfish, Spanking Shakespeare, Wanted!, and Make Lemonade.

What are your favorite YA novels?

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Friday, October 16, 2009


Family Relationships Blog Day Prize Winners!

Thank you all for participating in Family Relationships Blog Day! I was so impressed with all of your heartfelt stories. Bloggers wrote about sisters and brothers, children and spouses, family members now departed, recipes passed down, and even pets as family. If you haven’t had a chance to read all the stories, check out this post.

We held a random drawing for all those who participated and are giving away 13 prizes in honor of the October 13th event. We printed out all the blog titles from the post, cut them into strips of paper, and shuffled them around in a bag. Congratulations to the 13 winners below!

13 Prize Winners

1 Year Subscription to Grammar Book Quizzes ($29.95 value):

Anthony –

LuAnn Schindler -

Cynthia D’Alba -

Natalia Maldonado -

Gayle Trent -

Note: You will receive a gift certificate via email.

1 Year Subscription to Premium-Green Writer’s Markets ($48 value):

LuAnn Morgan -

Julie Bogart -

Dianne Sagan -

Kristine Meldrum Denholm -

Note: You will be invited to Premium-Green’s Google Group via email. Be sure to keep your eye on an email coming from Google Groups.

WOW! Tote Bag and Writer's T-Shirt:

Erika Robuck -

Joanne Tombrakos -

Mary Jo Campbell -

Terri Molina -

Note: Please email Angela at with your mailing address (no PO boxes, please). We are currently waiting on the t-shirts and tote bags to come back from the screenprinter, but you will receive them before the end of the month.


Thank you all for participating and making this day a huge success! Although we can't give a prize to everyone, you are all winners in our book for sharing your story. Write on!

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Call for Submissions: The Short Story Radio Romance Award 2010

Hey to all romance writers out there! Short Story Radio, a website based in the U.K. that promotes both the short story genre and short story writers through recordings of short stories via their website and podcast are announcing a new contest.

Called The Short Story Radio Romance Award 2010, romantic fiction writers have the opportunity to have their winning entry recorded for broadcast and receive a cash prize.

To enter, send only the synopsis and and the first part of your story, up to 2,500 words by December 17, 2009. The entry fee is £6 (about $9.79 USD) per story. Only short-listed entrants will be asked to send the second part of the story.

The winning story will be recorded and broadcast by a professional actor as a high-quality production with incidental music, and appear in two episodes on the Short Story Radio website and podcast.

The winner will also receive a cash prize of £150 (about $235 USD) and the title of winner of the Short Story Radio Romance Award 2010.

Interested? Take yourself over to the Short Story Radio site here:

And, best of luck!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009


Leaves of Change: Finding Inspiration and Inner Balance Through a Fall Day

Lately, I have found myself in a productive mood, so last Saturday after work, I went out taking pictures of the fall foliage as a little treat, as photography is something that once in a while brings me joy. It's probably a good thing I went out then, as it is currently raining, gross, and that little "s" word is getting thrown around so if not today, soon enough, the ground will turn white and the leaves will be completely off the trees. As we all learn, if you don't seize the moment, sometimes that moment passes and does not return. Therefore, I went driving around and walking through a park even, trying to find spontaneous areas to take some pictures, and I've been amazed with how things developed (both with the pictures as well as with my thoughts about work I do and my abilities).

It made me think of how amazed one can be crafting an object and what feelings come about. Just as a cool, fall day has that feel to it to make things just a little more enjoyable, comfortable, or intensive/intense for us to notice (think of the vivid reds and yellows of tree leaves for one example), the same thing can come from taking a step back from a work of art, a work of love, or a work of writing. It could be a step back as a reader, editor, or as an author/writer.

The question is, have you taken that step back and found that angle to shine the brightest light of satisfaction, appreciation, admiration for that work or have you plowed along, missing the change in scenery, mood, art, and the like? Keep this in mind before the leaves fall, the pages turn, or before that work of writing goes to waste or into the rejection pile. Too often, we are our own worst critics and too, particularly more so for the overstretched, multitasking women, we are too hard on ourselves. We need that occasional half hour with the camera or that walk in the crisp air, not only to reflect upon ourselves the fact that beauty is all-around and that nature and life is so complex, but to clear our heads and find satisfaction in what we do, what we love, and what we dream before we let things get to be too much or lose that satisfying feeling.

While you ponder that thought today (or whenever you come across this post), happy fall everyone and to those in northern environs, remember to dig out the shovel when you dig out the rake. It looks like the snow will be here a little earlier this year perhaps.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Spring '09 Contest Runner Up, Diane Hoover!

Diane Hoover was born in New York City across from Yankee Stadium, which might explain her great love for the Yankees. She grew up in the Washington DC metropolitan area, which certainly explains her great interest in politics. Diane has spent the last, almost 40 years living near the foot of Pikes Peak, which definitely has helped inspire her writing.

Diane has published several short stories and an occasional nonfiction piece, as well as placed in a number of contests. Most recently, one of her short stories placed in the Saturday Writer’s contest and was included in the Cuivre Anthology. At the age of 67, after undergoing a complete hip replacement, she decided to learn karate. She now wears a blue belt, which puts her right in the middle. Her four grandchildren think this is the coolest thing. You can read Diane's winning story, "Coffee Break," here.

Interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on placing as one of the Runners Up in our Spring 2009 Flash Fiction contest! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Diane: The challenge of writing a story within a prescribed word limit, plus I like writing stories about women in trouble and how they solve, or hopefully solve, their problems.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story? It was suspenseful—I was on the edge of my seat reading it!

Diane: I like to put myself in the positions I put my characters. What would I do? At least what would I think I would do? Maybe it’s my Walter Mitty alter ego asserting itself.

WOW: Your main character was certainly resourceful! Have you written other flash fiction? What type of writing do you most prefer?

Diane: I have written several flash fiction stories, two for your WOW! contest, one received an honorable mention. And this may sound really strange, but I feel that different stories and different characters call for their own format. In "Coffee Break," I think I said all there was to be said for both my main character and her situation. On the other hand, I have a story about a runaway young girl who is called home by her mother, decides to take the opposite road and is saved by an angel. That story is much longer. My novel is generational, much longer.

WOW: According to your bio, you decided to learn karate the age of 67. What prompted that decision, and what was it like to take lessons?

Diane: I had had a total hip replacement at the end of 2005. Though I’d gotten rid of any limp afterward, I still felt pretty unstable so when the opportunity arose to take lessons that would not only help any stability and balance problems but teach me a new (for me very new) discipline I thought, hey, why not? So I did. I’ve made some great new friends in the process and now I’m learning to use weapons.

WOW: You are a force to be reckoned with, Diane! I always like to ask about a writer’s routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Diane: I am a member of a couple of critique groups and also work with a critique partner. Often I will work on someone’s manuscript and then work on mine. Sometimes though I'll just sit in front of my computer and a story unfolds under my fingers. It is the most surprising and often wonderful experience. Other writers experience the same kind of thing.

WOW: What a great phenomenon what that happens. Do you have any writing goals in mind for the rest of the year?

Diane: I have this book that I’ve been working on for years. It’s an historical novel, from which I’ve taken several stories and turned them into short stories. Some of these have placed in contests. I would love to finish this book before I die. I would hate to have my kids or spouse put on my tombstone WIP instead of RIP.

WOW: That’s a good one! Many writers can relate. Finally, is there if there was one bit of advice you could pass on to other aspiring writers, what would it be?

Diane: Don’t talk about writing, do it! It’s as simple as that. And stick to it. One should have a routine, I feel, to get the best results. Oh, and read a lot. I know that’s two bits of advice but I think it all goes together.


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

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Therese Walsh's Family Relationships Blog Day Guest Post

Writing the story of my family while writing the story of my heart
…without ever even knowing it

By Therese Walsh

The Last Will of Moira Leahy is many things—an emotional tale of twin sisters, a family saga with elements of psychological suspense, mystery, romance and mythical realism—and it’s sometimes been hard to describe it for just that reason. But one thing it definitely is, which I never called into question, is fiction. I created the characters and their dramas, and researched the story into life by learning about the coast of Maine and Rome, Italy and Javanese culture. So when a fellow writer asked one day about beginnings, and where the inspiration for my slate of make-believe folk had came from, I said, “my imagination,” without a single bat of my eyelashes.

“Hmm, are you sure?” she asked. “Think about it. Let me know.”

Her questions had been simmering on my backburner for a while when some parallels began to emerge in my mind.

The main character of LWML, Maeve Leahy, was 16 when she lost her twin.

Her loss became a central consideration while planning her present and coping with her future.

She shut people out, including her family.

She was strong, but she was in pain.

She needed, somehow, to move beyond it, for someone to help her.

The parallel?

My sisters and I lost our father twelve years ago.

My youngest sister was 16 at the time.

Our father’s death devastated all of us, but especially her; and her recovery experience became very important to me.

Maeve and my sister differ in personality, and much about Maeve’s story is unlike my sister’s story, but healing from a deep loss was what I wanted most for them both. I was shocked by the similarities between them and even a little embarrassed that I’d never noticed the linkage before.

How did my family story work its way into the pages of my novel in the first place? I think writing like a “pantser,” when you don’t have your story plotted ahead of time, is a lot like journaling. You will, nine times out of ten, find yourself writing about that which weighs upon your heart—and you’ll try to formulate a solution. In the case of LWML, that solution wasn’t something that could apply to my sister in real life, but that didn’t prevent her from developing a keen interest in what happened to Maeve Leahy.

Interestingly, Maeve’s story has resonated most strongly with that sister. After me, she’s probably read LWML more than anyone and cried the most number of times over its pages. She’s cheered the most times, too. (I don’t believe in unhappily ever afters.)

Today, that sister is stronger now, in control of her present and able to look to the future without flinching. I spoke with her to make sure she didn’t mind that I share this story, and she didn’t.

“Get it out there. Truth is truth. Tell the whole world that I love this book and that they will too!”

She said it with a passion that would’ve made Maeve Leahy proud—and that’s not fiction.

Have you ever read a book you identified with more strongly than you expected?

Have you seen yourself or a family member reflected in the traits of a fictional character—for better or worse?

If you write, do you find that real life sneaks its way into your fiction? (Are you a plotter or a pantser?)


Therese Walsh's debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was officially published today (October 13, 2009) by Shaye Areheart Books (Random House). Her essay above is part of a very special event--Family Relationships Blog Day--in celebration of her novel's release. View the post below this one for a list of fantastic blogs participating in this monumental event.

Therese is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a blog for writers about the craft and business of genre fiction. Before turning to fiction, she was a researcher and writer for Prevention magazine, and then a freelance writer. She's had hundreds of articles on nutrition and fitness published in consumer magazines and online.

She has a master's degree in psychology.

Aside from writing, Therese's favorite things include music, art, crab legs, Whose Line is it Anyway?, dark chocolate, photography, unique movies and novels, people watching, strong Irish tea, and spending time with her husband, two kids and their bouncy Jack Russell.

Find out more about Therese by visiting her website:

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Family Relationships Mass Blogging Day!

Today, bloggers everywhere are writing about family relationships. Why family relationships? We're celebrating the release of Therese Walsh's debut novel today.

The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost when they were teenagers.

The blogs listed below have all decided to share their stories, essays, poems, photos, or other means of creative expression on the topic of family relationships. We really have no idea what bloggers will come up with, but we can't wait to find out! The only guidelines we provided were to write about family--anything from tracing your family history to the family feud between your mom and aunt Martha to planning activities that bring your children closer together. But one thing is for sure: they are all fantastic blogs worth visiting. So check out the blogs listed below and see what they're up to! We don't know what time they will be posting, so the best thing to do is to bookmark them or this post and visit them at your leisure. We can't wait to see all their creative posts.

Everybody's Talking About...Family Relationships

Participating Blogs (Listed by blog title, alphabetically):

A Girl, Her Career, and Life on the Dairy Farm:

A Ponderance of Things:

A Woman’s Life Stages:

A Century of Thoughts:’s Freelance Writing:

Adventures in the Writing Life:

Anna Louise Lucia’s blog:

Awake is Good:

Behind Brown Eyes:

Catch a Star Before It Falls:

Catherine Johnson Notes:

Cathy C.’s Hall of Fame:

Color Your Life Happy—Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D.:

Cynderella’s Castle:

Danielle Buffardi’s blog:

Day By Day Writer:

Dianne Sagan, Life as a Ghost(writer):

Elizabeth Kirschner’s blog:

Entering the Age of Elegance:

Erin Denver’s blog:

Fan Mail:

Fat and then, a journey back to my true self:

Five Scribes:

Gaijin Mama:

GardenWall Publications:

Gayle Trent, Cozy Mystery Writer:

Janel’s Jumble:

Joan Mora’s blog:

Julie Bogart’s blog:

Just Another Perfect Day:

Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s blog:

Linda Mohr’s Blog:

Little Miss Information:

Magical Musings:

MamaBlogga: mom’s search for meaning:

‘Manda Blogs About...:

Meryl’s Notes blog:

Misadventures with Andi:

Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem:

Mother Daughter Book Club Blog:

Multi-Tasking Mama:


Natalia Maldonado’s blog:

North Side Four (plus Eleanor Roosevelt, the Senator and the President):

Once Written, Twice Shy:

One Woman’s Eye:

Paris Parfait, Tara Bradford writes from the City of Light:

R.J. Writes:

Read These Books and Use Them!:

Reading Frenzy:

Reconsidering Sanity:

Romancing the Blog:

Scales and other lies:

Self Help Daily:

SFC Blog: Families Matter:

So Many Books, So Little Time:

Squirrel’s Treehouse:

Stardust Graffiti:

Stories of life: one writer-mom’s odyssey:

Taste of Kiwi:

Teresa Shen Swingler’s blog:

The 5th Line Project, Page 56, Line 5:

The Beautification Project:

The Freshman Writer:

the SIMMER blog:

The Write at Home Mom:

The Writer’s Edge:

Word Wranglers:

Words and Coffee:

Words from the Heart:

Writers Inspired:

writers, dogs, and germans*:

Writing Cops...It’s What I Do:

Writing is About Putting Yourself to Words:


What an amazing turnout! We want to thank all of these fabulous bloggers for participating in this special day. Therese thanks you as well and sends you lots of love. Following this post Therese will be sharing her personal and heartwarming essay about the similarities between her fictional book, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, and her own family. It's a must-read that will probably make you tear up a bit, if you're anything like me.

Now, go on already...visit these wonderful blogs and read their posts about family relationships. Just like a family reunion these bloggers are interconnected today as a community, possibly meeting each other for the first time, chatting, sharing stories, and celebrating. Yes, it's just like a family reunion. ;) I look forward to seeing you across the blogosphere. Happy blogging!

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Monday, October 12, 2009


Claudine Wolk, author of It Gets Easier...And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers, launches her Blog Tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Claudine is probably a mother just like you. She grew up in the time of Shaun Cassidy, The Incredible Hulk, The Brady Bunch, and The Bionic Woman. She owned Barbies, Loves Baby Soft, and an Air Supply album. Women like you and Claudine probably started a career, got married, and then, the BABY came. Life was never going to be the same. If you were anything like Claudine you had no clue how to start dealing with the staggering responsibility of new motherhood.

When Claudine couldn’t find the answers or insight she needed to help her cope, she decided to write the book she always wanted - A fun, honest, simple, easy-to-read book geared to making a new mom's life a little easier.

Her search for information to make motherhood easier led to the creation of a blog at, a place where she gets to write whatever she wants--things that might help a new mom, make her laugh, or get her up to date on some of the most important issues of our time, as well as American Idol. The blog has lead to invitations to visit and to speak with mom's groups. Now, she's able to share some direction, humor, and ideas with new moms all over the country in workshops and appearances where she lets participants know that they are NOT alone. You are not alone either and it's OK to take a break and laugh now and then.

Claudine Wolk is a CPA and mother of three. She lives in Bucks County, PA with her husband Joe and her children, Joseph, Casey & Ally. She writes columns as well as magazine and newspaper articles on all subjects regarding motherhood in the 21st Century. She also is available for humorous but informative workshops on the subjects of "new motherhood" and "mothers returning to the workforce." You can contact Claudine for a speaking engagement here.

Find out more about Claudine by visiting her website: And be sure to check out her video clips, including her interview on ABC News!

It Gets Easier! ...And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers
A fun, practical guide to becoming a mom

By Claudine Wolk

After becoming a mother, I was a confused mess. Everything from labor and delivery to taking my baby home was a surprise. I felt like I had landed on another planet without a map.

I learned quickly that this new planet was NOT the vacation spot I thought it would be.

I needed a new map!

Does this sound familiar?

I looked for a book that would answer all my questions and introduce me to the more personal and humorous side of motherhood. I wanted to read the words that had been popping into my head since the moment my baby was born, "Motherhood Is Really, Really Hard!" and "What are some ways I can deal with it?" and "Do They Take Babies Back At The Hospital?"

I couldn't find the book, so I wrote it.

Here are some of the Solutions You will find in It Gets Easier!:

  • The importance of a baby schedule (no matter what anyone else says)
  • "The Talk" you need to have with your husband before you give birth
  • What you really need to know about labor and delivery
  • The Six Baby Commandments that can foster good eating and sleeping habits
  • The Five New Mom Mantras that will help keep you sane
  • Body image after giving birth
  • Breastfeeding Truths and Breastfeeding Myths
  • How to keep housework to a minimum

There is no question that being a mother is challenging, but this fun, frank, and prescriptive guide tries to do the impossible and make new motherhood easier. Featuring interviews with hundreds of moms and candid stories from author Claudine Wolk's own experiences as a mother, It Gets Easier!...and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers mixes humor, honesty, and insider strategies that will give new moms a 'leg-up'. This upbeat and entertaining book drives home the point that new moms are not alone and that there are things they can do to make motherhood a little more controllable and lot more enjoyable. Complete with resources for further exploration and a helpful glossary, this funny, irreverent book will help ease every new mother's frustration.

Published by AMACOM (June 2009)
Paperback: 192 pages
ISBN# 0814415024

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Claudine's book, It Gets Easier!, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: First, we'd all like to know how It Gets Easier!...and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers came into being. You started out gathering information for your own personal use--and with three children you had lots of opportunities for personal use! When did it turn the corner and become research for a book? Why did you decide your book needed to be written?

Claudine: As soon as I found tips from other moms that actually worked and weren't in any other books, I decided that I had to put it all down in a book for the moms who came after me. It was almost a mandate. So, the book really started after the birth of my first son. My other two children were practically guinea pigs used to apply the information I had learned with my first son to make sure the success of the tips was not a fluke, and oh, yeah, we wanted more kids!

WOW: How long did it take you to gather the information and then write your book?

Claudine: I would say 12 years worth of interviewing, researching, practical application and continued research up to the publishing of the book. I know what you're thinking, "That's a long time." But hey, I was having and raising babies and working full-time and part-time during that process. From actual completion of book to production to final book took about a year and a half.

WOW: Can you give us a quick rundown of how your book was published--agent, submissions, publishing house, etc?

Claudine: Sure, the first version of the book was self-published. I created my own publishing company, New Buck Press, hired a terrific book production company, Pneuma Books, and with their help created the layout, cover, and graphics to my specifications resulting in a slick-looking trade book. In the meantime, I hired a book marketer, Sharon Castlen, who hooked me up with a distributor, Mid Point Trade Books, and I was off and running and, thankfully, selling. I worked with Sharon Castlen and learned as much as a could about book marketing and promotion. Several of my marketing attempts succeeded, most notably, Dr. Laura's radio program picked up the book and I sold 600 copies in one day! Thrilling. I kept in touch with Verna Dreisbach that I had hooked up with when trying to find a publisher. I sent her an email every time something great would happen with book. She asked if I wanted representation, and by August of the same year that my book pubbed, I was selling the rights to a major publishing house, AMACOM. AMACOM released an updated and expanded version of the book this August! Nothing to it!

WOW: As writers we hear again and again that non-fiction writers need a "marketing platform" for their book to be considered by publishers. Did you have a marketing platform--a blog, speaking engagements, etc.--before your book was published that you could wave before agents and editors?

Claudine: Great question. I mentioned "the agent I kept in touch with" in your last question. Truth be told, I tried for about a year to publish the book by traditional routes with no luck. Verna was nice enough to talk to me because she loved the book, but was afraid that my dreaded "author platform" was not enough to support book sales. I didn't even know what an author platform was, let alone how to create one. She was nice enough to explain to me the things I would need to be able to sell this book. I remember asking her, "If I do these things will you consider representing me?" She said, "You bet."

My marketing platform started by establishing myself as an expert in the field. Getting published in magazines, speaking to moms groups, blogging, creating a newsletter, and joining the social networks where my target market would be sure to find me were sure-fire ways to get me some exposure. I used the all-powerful Amazon to review books related to moms and created lists, always mentioning my book in the process. I reached out to other authors who had a similar message and commented on their blogs and co-marketed. As well, timing was critical because I started to build my platform and self-publish at the same time. The fact that the book became so successful, ironically added to my platform. At the end of the day, a publisher wants to know that you are able to sell books.

WOW: Now you have a marvelous three-pronged marketing platform: you blog, do speaking engagements, and interviews. Of the three, do you have a favorite?

Claudine: I truthfully enjoy them all, but if I had to pick one, it would be the speaking. I love talking to moms and hopefully offering some help or at least some empathy and a laugh or two. Selfishly, it is by far the most rewarding thing I do. The amazing things I learn from these moms is also a very valuable part of what I am trying to accomplish. I want these moms to get the help they need to make their lives a little easier and to be happier. I know that when a mom is happy the rewards to herself and her family will be immeasurable.

I wouldn't say that I make a lot of sales on the days I speak, but the power of referral is yet to be measured. This book sells by word of mouth, I am convinced of it, and in the comfort of their own home, moms are buying online.

WOW: Recently you were on Good Morning America! Tell us your secret--how did you land such an incredible interview?

Claudine: That interview was tremendously fun. All the thanks goes to my publicist at AMACOM, which is why I wanted to sell the book to a big publisher in the first place. Although as an author you still do a lot of promotion and marketing on your own, it's difficult to have the same reach as traditional publisher. It's not impossible, though. Having a targeted pitch with somewhat of an edge or humor helps tremendously!

WOW: I've seen your "master list"--the list of everyone contacted about your book. It's incredible. How did you generate the list and stay organized enough to contact all these people?

Claudine: The dreaded “media contacts” is a tough list to put together. It does take a lot of time. I used the library and the internet and a lot of phone calls to create a list of websites, radio, TV, Newspaper, and Magazines. When AMACOM came on board I was able to tap into their database as well, and now they do the bulk of the pitching. For those doing this on your own, I suggest using a college student to help put the list together in a Microsoft outlook or excel spreadsheet to keep track of the information. It is very time-consuming but very valuable information to have.

WOW: So what's the biggest lie we tell new mothers?

Claudine: The biggest lie is of course that motherhood gets easier! Things about motherhood may get easier but in the end it's always hard. There are things, though, that a mom can do to make her life a little easier like asking for help when she needs it!

WOW: How about the biggest lie we tell new writers?

Claudine: The biggest lie we tell new writers is that writing the book is the hard part. That’s kind of like telling new moms that labor and delivery is the hardest part of being a mom, right? Once you've birthed your book, the work has just begun. It's fun work, though, especially if your message has meaning and of course it does have meaning or you wouldn't have been able to write it, right? Don't give up and keep plugging. Your message is important and just needs to find its audience.

WOW: Thanks for giving us a peek at your extensive marketing campaign. What's next? Oprah? Or a new book? Or are you going back to your life as a mild-mannered CPA?

Claudine: OHHHH, Oprah, yes, I figure she'll find me sooner or later. A mom who is honest about motherhood and does it with a sense of humor. C'mon! We are made for each other.

Until that happens, though, I'm going to keep doing what I love, talking to as many moms who will have me, writing about mom-issues and sharing "mom helps" along the way. With any luck, It Gets Easier! will allow me to write the next book I have in mind to help Moms get back into the workforce after their children are grown. I'm calling it, Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In. What do you think? It's a winner, right?

WOW: Oh definitely, we all feel that panic when we head back into the "real world" of work and need someone like you to ease us into it with a few laughs.

Want to join Claudine on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

October 12, 2009 Monday
Claudinewill be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win a copy of It Only Gets Easier!

October 14, 2009 Wednesday
Stop by WordHustler's blog today for a fabulous interview with Claudine Wolk.

October 16, 2009 Friday
Don't miss Claudine Wolk's post about twelve years of gathering parenting secrets--and testing them on her guinea pigs...I mean, children.

October 22, 2009 Thursday
Claudine Wolk, author of It Gets Easier...and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers, interviewed hundreds of moms for her book. Today she shares all with her post, "Tell Me Your Secrets: Interviewing Tips."

October 28, 2009 Wednesday
Claudine is known for being a new-mom expert but today's she's giving us an insider's view of her writing life.

November 2, 2009 Monday
Claudine Wolk shares her tips for public speaking after leading many parenting workshops.

November 3, 2009 Tuesday
Claudine reveals a few of those lies experienced moms tell newbies--and why they do it.

November 4, 2009 Wednesday
Ever wonder about the secrets to selling your book to a publisher? Claudine Wolk appears on Cathy's What Not to Do feature with a few tips.

November 6, 2009 Friday
Claudine Wolk tells us about the funny, frustrating and sometimes crazy journey from stay at home mom (SAHM) to working mom. And don't miss a chance to win a copy of It Gets Easier! and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers.

November 9, 2009 Monday
Kate interviews Claudine Wolk, author of It Gets Easier and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers, to learn all her parenting secrets.

We may have many more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Claudine Wolk's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Claudine's book, It Gets Easier!...and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009


Results of my local writing mini-retreat

Let's face it. As I drove to my secret writing location, I was skeptical about what I was trying to accomplish. I was setting forth to write as much as possible, without outside distractions (including the Internet!) for as many hours as my fingers could be chained to the keyboard.
I didn't think I would accomplish anything and that maybe I had just been looking for a day to duck out to the mall without my band of ever-present accomplices.
Last weekend, this mom of three, accustomed to pouring milk over cereal, changing a diaper, making lunches, wiping a nose and taking a shower (but only on an odd-numbered day that starts with the letter 'M') with one wide swoop, found taking time for my own personal, creative writing more daunting than the daily juggles of parenting.
How many of you can relate to this statement (even if you might not be willing to say it aloud)?
I'm always ready to drop my creative project for the good/needs/wants/desires/strange requests of someone else.

But for part of one day, I understood and lived what it meant to block out that sentiment.
So, while I sat on a sunny deck and breathed in fresh air far from the charming screams of "MOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM," I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.
I stopped for a few pauses and to plug in my computer or to stretch my legs or to eat a bit. And it was glorious. For several hours, I crafted a character or two, I set up scenes, I plotted the twists and turns of my novel. I actually made progress that had been creeping along in my head for weeks.
During the week, I was able to refer back to chunks of text and sketch more of the plot. For once, in a long, long while, I felt like a fiction writer again.
And it felt good.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at, delving into creativity in everyday places. She is already planning her next writing escape...and shower.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009


When Life Throws You A Writing Bone

Today, I started working on articles about different music artists and how they got their start in their careers. This made me stop and think about the many great writers out there that have gotten their start in the writing world and what led them to this wonderful craft of ours.

Many times I have heard this statement: "If you wake up and all you can think about is writing, then you should be a writer." This does ring true, but many people are fearful of how to get started. Believe me, I'm no expert. The many women here at WOW! that have gotten published in print other than the World Wide Web know from experience how hard it is to find the right niche and get your story read. There are many years of experience that are tied up in the articles you read everyday on our site. These ladies are not only dedicated to getting their messages heard and read, they are also dedicated to helping others get their messages heard and read as well. Each one of them with their special gift.

Each one of these women can attest to the ways that they were "thrown the bone of writing." Each story unique and different. You can find that not many people start out writing in the same way, but all of us had the same thought and intention when it was realized. To be heard, to be heard and read through the form of a printed material. Like the messages that are sung my many great music artists, our words are designed to work the imagination. Some through stories, some through ideas to help with every day life.

Think about what got you started in writing. How unique or different may it be from someone else's story. Was it a turn of events? A dream? An author that just took your breath away and helped you decide that you had a story?

For me, my bone was thrown to me by my literature teacher in high school. I was attending Cibola High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was my Junior year (11th grade), and Mrs. Saunders was the type of teacher that loved to give us writings from well-known authors that didn't quite appear as popular as many of their other great stories, but still had a message. The one tale that really set me on my path was Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. As many know Antigone was the big play that all of us remember quite well, but Oedipus got put on a back burner so to speak. This was due to the type of story and what happened in King Oedipus's life. Mrs. Saunders took us on the normal journey through the story as many great literature teachers do, however she came up with a clever idea. She wanted us to change the story, she wanted us to show, in our own way, how Oedipus's life could be different. Many students groaned and mentioned how much they disliked writing but, for me, it was like a light inside my head flicked on all of the sudden and I had all these ideas whirling and spinning so quickly I felt I couldn't grab a hold of them. I wrote down all that Mrs. Saunders wanted us to do, I even wrote down notes of my ideas hoping I wouldn't forget some of them. I left the room smiling unlike many of my classmates, who looked at me strange. A good friend of mine asked me what I was smiling about, and I explained to him that I was actually excited about the assignment. He laughed and walked away shaking his head, then turned and told me I was weird. In my head I knew otherwise, I knew that I found one of my true passions, writing.

That night, I sat down with my door closed so no one in the house could disturb me and began to write. I started off with the initial idea that I wrote before class let out. Before I knew it, I had written 35 pages--front and back--on notebook paper. It was like I couldn't stop. I even created additional characters for the storyline. I came up with new children for the king. At dinner, my father wandered in and asked me what I was doing, and when I told him, he smiled and closed the door only to return with my dinner on a tray. He kissed me on the forehead and told me how proud of me he was and left quietly to let me continue to write. By 2:00 AM, I had written over 100 pages that went with the storyline. Mind you, the assignment was only for 4 pages. Scratching my head and knowing I needed rest for school the next day, I had to decide how I was going to take and break down this story I created. Thank goodness the assignment wasn't due until the end of the week. This gave me time to make sure I was able to give Mrs. Saunders exactly what she wanted from us. But, at the same time, it brought me to my first journey of writing--and wow, what a journey.

It saddens me to think that I actually almost walked away from this passion, this drive that has kept me going for so many years. When it came time for graduation, I actually chose a different path initially for college; I went into business. Yeah, right! But, after the first year and a half, I found that my heart just wasn't into it. Oh sure, I took the knowledge that I had and was able to apply it to many great jobs, but, unlike with writing, my heart just wasn't in it. I felt a part of me was missing. Now and then I would write some poetry, but it still didn't feel quite the same. It wasn't until late one night--after I had gotten married and had our second little boy--when a story came to me in the middle of the night. It was as if that bone had been thrown back at me. I got up and began writing. I couldn't stop, the story just flew from my fingers, I was driven. I didn't want to stop, I wanted to get the story out. At the time, we had one of the first home computers, a Commadore 64, I had been using to write on. My husband found me the next morning still at the computer typing away. He smiled at me and left me to my work. Throughout the day I stopped long enough to take care of the children and do some of the normal house chores, but the minute I was done I went right back to writing the story. I had to get it out, I had to get it finished. By dinner time that evening, I had finished the story.

Today, I wish I still had that drive, to sit and write all day, to get a story and run with it, but other bones have been thrown in my path once again. However, I have found other great ways to continue my passion with stolen moments at work and at home. When it is quiet and I feel the need, I steal the moments and run with an idea.

I know that some day my true passion of getting one of my stories published will come true. I know that there is a publisher out there that will accept me and my story. Until then, I will continue to write because after all I am a writer.

So if you have been thrown a bone in writing, grab onto it and hold on tight. With all your might, strive to keep your passion alive and write. If you are like me and can't seem to get your story published, that's okay, find other things that you can get published and work from there. Eventually, someone will open their eyes and help you to achieve your ultimate goal of being a published book author.

So now I throw this question to each of you. When did the writing bone get thrown to you? What or who tossed you that first bone?

Mrs. Saunders, if you are out there and if you are reading this, thank you! Thank you for awakening my passion in this wonderful world of writing!

Happy Writing!

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Friday, October 09, 2009


Keeping My Canadian Pride

Let me just say from the get-go that I am a proud Canadian writer and author. I mention it in my blog, my bio and whenever I do interviews. “Why then has most of your work been published in the U.S. and Abroad?” you’re probably asking. Well…just because I’m proud of where I was born and raised doesn’t mean I’ve had the easiest time getting published here—even now. I have no idea why! Maybe it’s because some editors don’t feel that I have a very Canadian perspective after writing for U.S. and International audiences for the last several years. Or maybe it’s because I was setting the bar too high by going for some of those big-wig glossies right off the bat.

The truth is here in Canada a lot of the big glossies are Government funded, which means the publishers and editors have to follow very specific guidelines in order to receive their funding. What this means is several places are only able to accept submissions from Canadian writers and those Canadian writers need to offer up Canadian content. The U.S. and International publications seem to have a bit more freedom in terms of who they choose to write for them and when. And that’s why when I was first starting out I turned to the south of the border and beyond in order to get my work out there.

Now that I think of it...the ideas I was pitching weren’t always about Canada or issues that effect Canadians only; my ideas were more global…or I’d like to think they were. No matter what, though, there are still some fantastic publications up here—some of which I’d love to write for one day and others I never will—and they pay really well. What I thought I’d do today is offer up five great places for Canadians (or anyone else) to try. Why not? Some of these places will give non-Canadians a shot if you present your pitch in a way that would be interesting and beneficial to Canadian readers.

Good luck, have fun and be sure to let us know if your work was accepted by any of these places. Having your advice and pearls of wisdom on what worked would be helpful for those who are trying to break in.


PS: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! =oD

Azure Design, Architecture and Art ( This is a magazine that covers everything about architectural art and design. They look for people with experience and knowledge in this area and look for nonfiction articles from 350 to 2000 words. Pay is $1/word (Cdn).

Family Fun ( This magazine is all about how families can have fun together from playtime to travel. They accept pitches in all their departments, including features and they have detailed guidelines on their site in terms of who to contact and what they need in a particular area. Pay is $1.25/word.

Today’s Parent ( Monthly magazine for Canadian parents with kids from birth to 12 years of age. The look for articles “grounded in the reality of Canadian family life.” Pay ranged from $200 to $2200 an article depending on word length and department.

Reader’s Digest Canada ( Pretty much the same as the U.S. version. Mostly look for those “true life stories” that touch the heart, get us thinking or give insight into a current issue. They pay $1.50 - $2.50/word depending on the type and length of the story. Prefer original, unpublished pieces.

AlbertaViews ( Got a story about Alberta? This is the place to pitch it to. Whether you’ve visited here or lived here all of your life, they want stories Alberta-based. They pay anywhere from $350 to $1500 depending on subject and whether the article is solicited or not.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009


National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day in Britain. It is an annual celebration where the nation has poetry events, and poems are read on the radio and TV. The National Poetry Day website has lesson plans and links to blogs written by poets. There's also an interesting photo gallery on Flickr (which you can find by going to the National Poetry Day website and clicking on the Flickr link). This photo gallery displays poems in public places--even a guy's t-shirt in a pub--and you can add your own.

I just love this entire idea of National Poetry Day and especially of finding poetry in public places. I'm sure it is not a new idea, and I'm sure I've seen plenty of poetry in public places, but I just never paid attention to it before. Well, I am going to change that today!

While looking for photos for this post on , I found this cool photo by Sister72. Here's what she has to say about this photo:

"BELMAR: In celebration of the Autumnal Equinox, Belmar Arts Council will sponsor Poem Henge today and Sunday on the beach. Three dozen discarded refrigerator doors will be erected in the shape of Stonehenge, the ancient ruins in England. Local artists and art students will paint words onto magnets from poems created by members of the Blue Collective. "

This is the coolest idea ever! And I am not a poet. I've written some poems and even had some published, but I don't consider myself anywhere near "poet" status. But I definitely realize that there are some subjects that writers want to write about, and the only way we can do it is with a poem. This has actually happened to me--I wanted to write about the Trail of Tears--it came out in a poem. Same thing for September 11th and human trafficking. The strong emotions connected with these events and issues just lend themselves to poetry for me. I'm sure all writers have felt this way, and those poets just have it down better than the rest of us.

So, no matter where you live in the world, take a moment today to celebrate poetry. Read a favorite poem, write a poem, find poetry in public places. If you know a poet, thank them for their contribution to the beauty of language. And then get excited because the United States has an entire National Poetry month in April!

Happy poem writing!
Margo Dill

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009


So You Think You Know Literature

by LuAnn Schindler

If you're like me, you're a literature buff. You have an extensive collection of books in your personal library, only rivaled by your parents, who are twice your age and have twice as many books.

And, if you're like me, you like to test your literary prowess and brag about it. I've found the perfect place to test your literary genius in addition to your personal writing. Try the never-ending book quiz at Good Reads.

Who are the lovers in The Time Traveler's Wife?

In C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, what mythical creature does Lucy encounter on her first trip through the wardrobe into Narnia?

Which book begins, "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times"?

Registration is required to continue past the first question, but it's worth it. If I need a short break from my writing routine, I head to the quiz and see what trivia I know.

Sure, it's addictive. So is good literature.

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Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month with Pink Products

As you know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. WOW! Women On Writing is a proud supporter of the Breast Cancer Fund, an organization that identifies--and advocates for elimination of--the environmental and other preventable causes of the disease. But no matter what fund you choose to support, there are plenty of ways to help with awareness this month. One is by purchasing pink products that will donate a portion of their proceeds to the cause. Just make sure before you purchase a product you know that a portion of the proceeds will go to the cause. There are many products that are pink in color--some may even have a pink ribbon on them--but not all of them help support the cause. So before purchasing anything, do your research. Below are some fun (and researched) products for writers that help support the cause. Enjoy!


Writing already feels great, and with this pen will make you feel even better knowing that you purchased it for a good cause.

This pen incorporates an inlaid rhodium-plated star pattern that creates a a glimmering jewel-like effect against a pearlescent pink body. 10% of proceeds will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Available at


What would we do without coffee to jump start our writing day?

Wake up to pink in the morning and make your day brighter from the start. This compact and handy coffee maker fits snugly on your countertop and features a stainless steel carafe with dripless pour spout and knuckle guard. 6% of proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Available at


Chocolate...need I say more?

Indulge your sweet tooth with DOVE Promises of Hope chocolate. The inside of each chocolate wrapper will feature an inspirational message from a breast cancer survivor. $250,000 will be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Available in select retail stores.


I had to include this because it's adorable, and 100% of the proceeds are donated. Wear it while you're writing and feel ultra-chic!


This silk scarf from Sara Campbell is full of words of inspiration and is a classic, feminine touch to any outfit. 100% of the proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Available at


Avon Cancer Crusade products

They have several wonderful items that donate 100% of the proceeds to the Avon Cancer Crusade. From bubble bath to bags, there's bound to be something to make your writing life more comfortable!

They tend to sell out fast, so head on over and find out what's available at


Are you attending a writing conference? This bag may be the perfect companion.

This padded bag with removable shoulder strap fits most 15" laptops and features an exterior zippered pocket with compartments for business cards, pens and PDA device. 80% of proceeds benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Available at


Here's a practical kit for the home/home office that makes a great gift for the writer who's become a new parent.

Whether you’re a new parent or just looking for a unique baby shower gift, our Child Safety Kit contains a mix of both tried-and-true and not-so-common childproofing products that will work together to make any home a safer place for babies and small children. 50% of proceeds benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Available at


If you're in the market for a new digital camera with printer, this looks like a great deal and helps the cause. Remember, editors (like WOW's) love freelancers to submit photos with their articles. Many publications pay extra for photos too!

Say cheese! Canon is fighting breast cancer through the sale of their special edition bundle kits. Each kit includes a pink PowerShot SD1100 IS Digital ELP camera, a pink SELPHY CP760 compact photo printer, a pink ribbon charm, and a Mammography Reminder Magnet. In the month of October, Canon will donate $150,000 to American Cancer Society. Available in retail stores nationwide.


How adorable is this?

The piggy bank just got a makeover--save up for a rainy day and donate to charity at the same time. 20% of proceeds benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Available at


After staring at the computer screen all day, it's time to de-stress! Here's one way to relax.

This icon product, launched in 1990, is still a best-seller thanks to the powerful de-stressing properties in the key ingredients of Basil, Eucalyptus and Peppermint that are proven to produce calm feelings. This trio of nature's peace-keeping oils initiates a rapid relaxation response to help your brain switch off and shut out worry for a while. Origins will donate $35,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Available at Origins retail stores and


Yes, it's true. We are lucky enough to be in one of the only professions where you can wear your pajamas to work! Here's a comfy way to help support the cause.

Made of soft 100% cotton poplin, Needham Lane pajamas get softer with every washing. PJs have button-front top with notched collar and side vents at hem for a comforting fit. 15% of proceeds will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Available at


This is a great kit for a great price that seems to have everything you need to feel pampered. It's themed after the graphic novel!

C.O. Bigelow has teamed up with Marisa Acocella Marchetto, author of the graphic novel "Cancer Vixen: A True Story" and breast cancer survivor, to create a special edition Cancer Vixen Collection. Acocella Marchetto will give C.O. Bigelow classics a vixen twist with her illustrations. The kit includes the Lemon Cream Body Wash, Lemon Body Cream, Mentha Lip Tint in Pink Mint, Mentha Foot - Tingling Foot Cream, and Dr. Hiosous Quince Hand Lotion. C.O. Bigelow will donate $250,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Available at


As you can see, there are so many products out there that donate to breast cancer charities. Just make sure you research before you buy and find out exactly what percentage will be donated, or what overall contribution will be given. I love purchasing for a good cause. It's guilt-free!

If you have any suggestions for pink products for writers, feel free to share. :)

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Interview with Nicole Waskie - 2009 Spring Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Nicole Waskie has been writing in one form or another since the age of two, when she would dictate her poetic masterpieces to her mother whilst she languished in the bathtub. Such gems as "Mascara Face" (Nicole's first epic poem about the trials and tribulations of makeup removal) have since evolved into a deep-seated desire to express herself through the written word and an obsession with flash fiction (which may or may not have something to do with her jam-packed schedule and short attention span) though she aspires to write a novel in due time. Nicole currently works as an elementary school library media specialist and cheerleading coach, and furiously pens sentences on receipts and napkins whenever inspiration strikes.

Her e-mail is nnwaskie[at]gmail[dot]com, and she would love to hear from you!

If you haven't done so already, check out Nicole's story "The Last First" and then return here for a conversation with the author!

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Spring Flash Fiction Contest! How did you begin writing your award winning story, "The Last First?"

Nicole: I wrote "The Last First" on a whim. I was sitting on my living room floor, and a memory of renting paddle boats at a local park popped into my head. It was so vivid that I felt compelled to re-create the scene in words, and "The Last First" evolved from there.

WOW: You've done well recreating the scene. Your imagery is great! Do you find it difficult or liberating to write within the word limit restrictions of flash fiction?

Nicole: I love flash fiction. It's one of my favorite ways to write! I find that expressing a complete story in a limited amount of space forces you to carefully choose your words and details in a way that longer fiction doesn't demand. So, while it's difficult in that sense, I think it's liberating to be able to express a story in such a rapid, concise way, because you don’t have the opportunity to get bogged down in the exposition of the story.

WOW: Which books/authors do you read for inspiration, and how do they inspire you?

Nicole: I read all the time, and I read anything I can get my hands on. I'm a school librarian, so I read a lot of children's books, and draw much inspiration from children's fiction. Kate DiCamillo is a master of storytelling, and Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy was quite possibly some of the best books I have ever read--I am so inspired by how children's authors handle adult themes using understandable language without becoming patronizing. As far as "adult" books and authors, I am completely obsessed with Alice Sebold, Sue Monk Kidd, and Sylvia Plath. I recently finished John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things, which was dark and delightful. I could go on and on and on…but I won't! I find inspiration in any author that can make the mundane seem epic, especially those that write about the complexities and consequences of the minute choices life presents us, and the doubts that exist in all our souls.

WOW: I like what you say about children's authors writing complex ideas using understandable language. That can be extremely difficult to do and I also find it inspiring when an author does that well. What is your strategy for finding or making time to write with a busy schedule?

Nicole: I'm horrible about writing. I don't have a set schedule, and I should. I write whenever I feel the urge to write. I'm lucky to have a supportive fiancée who understands when I need to disappear with my laptop for an hour or two, but more frequently, I'm scribbling on napkins and scraps of paper, a sentence here, a sentence there. Consequently, my list of finished work is very, very short.

WOW: I've always loved that image of authors being so compelled to write that they scribble away on napkins and paper scraps. It will take some time to pull all of the sentences together, but we'll look forward to reading more of your work when that happens! What’s the most useful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Nicole: The best advice I ever received was to just keep writing. I often get discouraged with myself for not following through on stories I start. I was complaining the other day about how I never finish what I start, and my fiancée told me, basically, "Then FINISH!" If you love writing, write. It's as simple as that.

WOW: I often ask authors that question, even though "keep writing" is usually the answer. I always find it helpful to hear those words. Are you currently working on any new writing projects or stories?

Nicole: See above! I'm always half-writing something. I've been banging around a few ideas for longer stories, but they've yet to come to fruition. I also review books for School Library Journal, so I'm consistently writing reviews each month.

WOW: Thank you, Nicole! Good luck and keep writing!

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt

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Sunday, October 04, 2009


Blank Pages

Staring at a blank screen can bring out a multitude of different feelings. One could have a deadline looming, yet have writer's block. Another writer could have had a page written, only to find out it did not save onto a disk or hard drive.

For some reason, however, a lot of the time, a blank page is what we need. A new beginning of sorts. A place to tinker, a place to create, a place to find inner peace.

Occasionally, I will open a second file after I've done what my high school English teacher called a stage of "verbal vomit." All the ideas are on a page, but no order, no sense, or at least, so it seems. The blank page or the new document file is there for me to piecemeal "vomit" into something better, something less grotesque, and something more palatable for an audience.

Sometimes, however, the second file or blank page is like my brain's attempt at running away or blowing off steam. I'm keen on limericks and childish rhymes. Sometimes, that blank page is not a Microsoft Word document, but Paint or some other one, where I can get the artistic juices flowing and the giggles too. It makes the writing process less onerous.

However, the blank page I am so looking forward to next weekend (when I finally have my shot at a writing vacation of sorts thanks to a college fall break) is of the third variety. I'm using those blank pages to get some academic writing down that has been in me for way too long. I am going to find that inner peace by taking advantage of some opportunities, which could open doors for me in my academic discipline and career path, both of which place high emphasis on getting published not just to build a reputation and to have credentials/credibility, but to preserve data and history before it is lost.

More importantly, for me, this blank page will hopefully provide validation that the brain is still agile and the ability to feel like an anthropologist (in thought, at least) is there, despite not being at the educational or career track level I desire to be at just yet. I'm just too frustrated not knowing and want to fill some blank pages and turn anew to another round of projects, in hopes of someday having a professional portfolio assembled. Needless to say, I am excited about the different projects which I may be starting the next few days.

That said, however, I still would love to hear about all of your experiences and feelings about blank pages and blank computer screens. What do you take away from your experiences with them and what do you make out of them? Opportunity or diversions?

Friday, October 02, 2009


Shifting your writing from one type to another

When do you decide to shift your focus? When and how do you determine that this week you should focus on your fiction or your nonfiction or your paying work? And once you have decided it, how do you make it all work? Do you ever steal away for a day-long writing retreat?
As a freelancer, I've found it is sometimes tricky to shift from the paying work to the non-paying work. I'd like to write more of my own fiction, but I also work for a client that pays me per piece I complete. It certainly helped to get through this year during slower times, but it is a blessing and a curse. If I didn't have any work, I could engage my fiction muscle more; without the work, I would have to focus on getting a job to help pay for my fiction "hobby" and the kids' clothes.
But do you ever say, "I've had enough of the treadmill of someone else's writing, I need to get back to my own." Or do you just start building bits and pieces of time into your day that satisfies your own needs?
This weekend will start a new experiment for me and my family. I will get off the treadmill momentarily.
Because my fiction time seems to fall victim to sick kids or juggling family needs, I asked my husband for time to write for a project I've been fleshing out for a few months.
I will leave early Saturday morning, stealing away to an quiet corner...away from an Internet an undisclosed (to my kids) location, for a chunk of writing time. While I'm excited, I'm also worried I won't know what to do in the silence. I'm not sure we can afford to do this every Saturday, but I am certainly excited we are going to start trying to do it more regularly.
I need the time and space to work on my projects. What would you need to get off the treadmill? And, if you already have figured it out, what has worked for you?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at and, delving into creativity in everyday places. She'll let you know how the writing project is going next time...after her luxurious day-long writing retreat.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009


Participate in Family Relationships Mass-Blogging Day Oct. 13

Be a Blogging Buddy - Write about Family Relationships

When: October 13, 2009 (Tuesday)

Where: On your blog

Why: Therese Walsh's debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost they were teenagers. The Muffin is organizing a mass blogging, "Everybody's Talking About...Family Relationships," to celebrate the book release on October 13. Therese will be at The Muffin (here) blogging about family relationships and she'd like some buddies writing on their blogs about family relationships that same day.

What to blog about: The theme is "Family Relationships." You can write about anything from tracing your family history to the family feud between your mom and Aunt Martha to planning activities that bring your children closer together. Use your imagination and have fun!

What to include in your blog post: If you'd like to participate, please email us and we'll link to your blog on The Muffin. Make sure you include the following blurb about the blogging day at the top or bottom of your post:

"Today I'm participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women on Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We're celebrating the release of Therese Walsh's debut novel today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost they were teenagers. Visit the Muffin to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit to find out more about the author."

How to participate: Contact Jodi at if you'd like to participate and we'll include you and your blog on the list of Therese's Blogging Buddies running on the Muffin on Oct. 13. It's a fun way to introduce your blog to The Muffin community while helping a fellow writer.

If you have any blogger friends who may be interested in participating, please feel free to forward this post to them.

Goodies: Besides link-love, we have several goodies to give away (gift certificates, t-shirts, books, subscriptions). We will hold random drawings for all bloggers who participate. :)

Come blog with us!

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