Thursday, December 31, 2009


Ringing in the New Year Around the World

My New Year’s eve festivities usually consist of going to a party where I can stay the night (too many checkpoints out there to drive), drinking lots of champagne, wearing a tiara, dancing, telling funny stories, watching the ball drop in Times Square, and kissing as many friends as I can. That’s what I’ll be indulging in tonight, and probably waking up with a bad champagne headache tomorrow morning--my hair in the latest bird’s nest fashion, makeup smeared face, and, hopefully, without anyone drawing pictures with a sharpie on my body. Yes, it sounds like a frat party, but my friends like to party like it’s 1999. Er, '89 in my case. In past years, I’ve gone to concerts and also just stayed at home with my hubby for a quiet evening. Remember Y2K? LOL. It seemed everyone stayed at home that New Year.

The wonderful thing about the New Year is that people are celebrating all over the world. Many of the customs are just like ours but some are different, or more interesting. Here are some customs, past and present, from around the world. (Resource:

Australia: Australians celebrate the New Year on January 1. This day is a public holiday and many people have picnics and camp out on the beach. They have parties that start on December 31 and at midnight they start to make noise with whistles and rattles, car horns and church bells to ring in the New Year.

Austria: New Year's Eve is called Sylvesterabend which is the Eve of Saint Sylvester. They make a punch made of cinnamon, sugar, and red wine in honor of him. Taverns and inns are decorated with evergreen wreaths. Confetti, streamers, and champagne are also part of New Year's Eve. Evil spirits of the old year are chased away by the firing of mortars called böller. Midnight mass is attended and trumpets are blown from church towers at midnight. People exchange kisses.

Belgium: New Year's Eve is called Sint Sylvester Vooranvond or Saint Sylvester Eve. The réveillon or New Year's Eve family parties are thrown. At midnight everyone kisses, exchanges good luck greetings, and drinks toasts to absent relatives and friends. The cities, cafés, and restaurants are crowded with people who bid farewell to the Old Year. New Year's Day is called Nieuwjaarsdag at this time of the year the children save money to buy decorated paper for writing holiday greetings to parents and godparents, and read the letter to them.

Brazil: On New Year’s Eve local priestesses organize a ceremony that is dedicated to the goddess of water, Yemanja. A sacrificial boat laden with flowers, candles, and jewelry is pushed out to sea from Brazil’s famous Ipenama beach in Rio de Janeiro. On New Year’s day, people wear white clothes, as it is believed to bring them good luck and peace for the rest of the year to come.

Great Britain: In Britain the custom of first footing was practiced. The first male visitor to the house after midnight was supposed to bring good luck. Usually they brought gifts like money, bread, or coal, which was done to ensure the family would have plenty of these things all the year to come. In London, people gather in Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus to listen to the chimes of Big Ben as it rings in the New Year.

Denmark: In Denmark it is a good sign to find your door heaped with a pile of broken dishes at New Years. Old dishes are saved year around to throw at their friend’s homes on New Years Eve. Many broken dishes were a symbol that you have many friends. New Year’s Eve is framed by two important items broadcast on television and radio, respectively the monarch’s New Year Speech at 6pm and the striking of midnight by the Town Hall Clock in Copenhagen, which marks the start of the new year. Many Danes party with various kinds of good food followed by champagne and marzipan ring cake at midnight. The New Year is greeted with fireworks after midnight which light up the night sky with many different colors.

France: The French New Year is Jour des Étrennes, or Day of New Year’s Presents. Dinner parties are thrown for the entire family and people exchange presents and greeting cards.

Germany: People would drop molten lead into cold water and try to tell the future from the shape it made. A heart or ring shape meant a wedding, a ship meant a journey, and a pig meant plenty of food in the year ahead. People would also leave a bit of every food eaten on New Year's Eve on their plate until after Midnight as a way of ensuring a well-stocked larder. Carp was included as it was thought to bring wealth.

Greece: January 1st is an important date in Greece because it is not only the first day of the New Year but it is also St. Basil's Day. New Year is perhaps even more festive and important then Christmas as it is the main day for gift-giving and for stories of St Basil's kindness to children. He was said to leave gifts for children in their shoes. On New Year’s Eve, children sing carols and also on New Years Day. The first person across the threshold of the house on New Year's Day is said to bring the family good luck throughout the coming year.

Hungary: In Hungary they burn effigies or a scapegoat known as "Jack Straw" which represents the evils and misfortunes of the past year. Burning the effigy on New Year's Eve is supposed to get rid of bad luck.

India: The New Year’s festival is called Diwali, a festival of lights. People decorate their homes with little oil lamps known as diwa, which are used to drive out evil by replacing it with goodness. People try to finish any uncompleted work as Diwali marks the end of the year. Businesses pay of all debts and new account books are blessed before the New Year. It is a time for new beginnings. People give cards and gifts are exchanged. They make New Year’s resolutions and forget all quarrels for this time of year is a time to be happy and generous. Even the animals are washed, groomed and decorated for the festival.

Japan: The Japanese New Year, Oshogatsu, is an important time for family celebrations, and is a time when all the shops, factories and offices are closed. It begins on January 1st and lasts for two weeks. To keep out evil spirits, they hang a rope of straw across the front of their houses, which stands for happiness and good luck. When the New Year begins, people begin to laugh, which is supposed to bring them good luck in the New Year.

Korea: The first day of the lunar New Year is called Sol-nal. On New Year's Eve people place straw scoopers, rakes or sieves on their doors and walls to protect their families from evil spirits. Everyone also becomes one year older on New Year’s Day since Korean age is calculated at the New Year. Many people gather on the beach in the morning to watch the sun rise.

Netherlands: People burn Christmas trees on street bonfires and let off fireworks to ring in the New Year and as a way of driving out the spirits of the old year.

Poland: New Year’s Eve is known as St. Sylvester's Eve in honor of Pope Sylvester 1 who, according to legends, imprisoned a dragon called Leviathan in the year 1000. 

Portugal: The Portuguese pick and eat twelve grapes from a bunch as the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve. The twelve grapes ensure twelve happy months in the coming year.

Romania: On New Year’s Eve, children sing Plugusorul and Sorcova. In their songs, they wish good luck, happiness, and success. Leaving a lamp lit on New Year’s night until dawn is an old tradition to ensure that the New Year will be sunny and rich with harvests. Also, on New Year’s Eve, another custom is the Vergel which is a mysterious act meant to prospect the future, in which unmarried young people and their parents take part. The one practicing the Vergel will want to know what the future year holds for them and, most of all, if and whom they will marry. On New Year’s morning, some traditional families toss money into the water where they wash their hands, counting on the fact that this will bring them money during the entire following year.

Russia: Grandfather Frost, who wears a blue suit instead of Santa's red, arrives on New Year's Eve with his bag of toys for the children. 

Scotland: New Year’s Eve is called Hogomanay or Night of the Candle. People prepare for New Year by cleaning their home and purifying it with a ritual or burning juniper branches carried through the home. The First Footer says that the first person to set foot into your home on New Year's Day decides the luck of the family for the coming year.

South Africa: The New Year is rung in with church bells and gunshots. On New Year's Day there are carnivals where people dress in colorful costumes and dance in the streets to the sound of drums.

Spain: Everything, including theater productions and movies, is stopped at Midnight on New Year's. The clock strikes midnight and everyone eats twelve grapes. They eat one grape for each toll to bring good luck for the next twelve months of the New Year. Sometimes the grapes are washed down with wine.

Wales: At 3:00 to 4:00 AM on New Year’s morning, boys of the village go from house to house with an evergreen twig to sprinkle on the people and each room of their house to bring them good luck. On New Year’s Day, children roam the neighborhood singing songs that are rewarded with coins and sweets.


I hope you have a safe and happy New Year. Here's to 2010! And, of course, a productive writing year. If you had a particularly momentous New Year's Eve, feel free to share your story! (If you're not too hung over. LOL.) I'd love to hear about it. :)


Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Interview with Lori Lyn Greenstone - Summer 2009 Flash Fiction Contest Runner-Up

Lori's Bio:

Lori is a graduate student in Literature and Writing Cultural Studies at California State University, San Marcos where she teaches composition while finishing her thesis on motherhood memoir and ekphrasis—vivid description depicting a visual work of art. She is married to one of America’s Hottest Husband’s (Redbook, July ’07), a fire captain. They have six kids (what woman in her right mind has six kids?), ages 27-2, and are celebrating their 30th anniversary in November. Lori writes and paints from her studio overlooking their sustainable blueberry farm in Fallbrook. Her artwork has won several awards and been published in Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing by Northlight. Her autotheoretical essay “Ekphrastically Writing of Creative Mothering,” will be published in Mothers Creating/Writing Lives: Motherhood Memoirs, forthcoming in 2010.

If you haven't done so already, you should definitely take a look at Lori's award winning story, "Removing the Mask." When you've finished reading, return here for a chat with the writer.

WOW!: Congratulations on placing in the Summer 2009 Flash Fiction Contest! I read in your bio that you’re completing your thesis on motherhood memoir and ekphrasis. I am fascinated by that idea. Could you tell us a little more about it?

Lori: Ekphrasis (ek=out+phrasis=speak) denotes art that speaks out, often poetically. A visual work of art gives rise to a verbal work. For example Homer's "The Shield of Achilles" in the Iliad, or Shelley's "On the Medusa by Leonardo Da Vinci." As a mother-artist who really wants to write, I found ekphrasis as a way to use the art I've created over the past 15-20 years, much of it responding to mothering, using my children as models-- often our oldest daughter who trained with the Joffrey Ballet at 17. I always wanted to write, but I got caught up in art b/c it was successful and it provided a visual map to return to between the many interruptions of mothering.

WOW!: That is such an interesting idea, and a great way to combine writing and other art forms. How has your work on your thesis inspired “Removing the Mask”?

Lori: The mask, created about 15 years ago, is one of many pieces of art in my studio and home. Art has its own story to tell, something I realized recently when I returned to get a Master's degree in writing as a way to force myself back to my desk. The paintings and sculptures speak stories I didn't know were there until I started listening, writing. In this way, I'm rediscovering myself and a whole new world in my own art.

WOW!: I love the idea of art and sculptures speaking their own stories. And it's great that you are able to rediscover yourself through your art. Art and writing can be so fulfilling and rewarding, but they come with their challenges, too. As a writer, what is your biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?

Lori: Constant interruptions, including the internal ones of a manic mind. I collage the interruptions into my work, allowing them to add to and subtract from the story, memoir, or essay I'm writing. My thesis is a fictocritical response to the work of other mother-writer-artists- Fanny Howe who was my mentor at UCSD in the late 80's, and Bernadette Mayer, a beat poet who wrote an epic prose poem "Midwinter Day" on December 22, 1978, Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. This book is the epitome of alternative motherhood memoir. She was a mother of two small children at the time she wrote it. These writers provide incredible inspiration.

WOW!: With six children, a husband, a blueberry farm, teaching and thesis writing it sounds like you’re a busy woman! What are some of your tricks to find time and space to create art?

Lori: As women and writers, we find creative spaces where our minds and bodies dwell and thrive, spaces that drive creativity. Ekphrasis- the space between seeing and saying, between painting and writing is a liminal space, a threshold where confusion presages creativity, bringing order out of chaos. By grace, I am surrounded by a great group of supportive people, but being a mother is confusing. Writing and art help me sort through the tangles, and I am blessed with a partner who encourages me and gives me space. In turn, I have more to give back to the partnership, motherhood, and writing. If there is a trick, it might be knowing what to give up and when. We are going to sell the farm, go travel, find some simple place to live where the ground is covered in pine needles and sometimes, snow; a place where we can write and ski and be together--follow our dreams.

WOW!: That sounds like a great plan! Are there other writing or art projects you hope to create in the future?

Lori: I'm writing a novel told from the perspective of the prostitute to whom Vincent Van Gogh gave his ear. I also have a surrealist novel that takes place along the Alcan Highway with a character who may only exist within a painting- I'm not sure yet- she hasn't told me. I'm writing a piece for a conference in March at UCBerkeley, Our Bodies, Our Shelves - "Ekphrasis as Exploration of the Feminist Maternal Body." I have a memoir "You Are Here: Dots on the Map of a Manic Motherhood." I have more short stories. All are driven by art in some way.

WOW!: You definitely have your artistic plate full for the future! Good luck! What is the best advice you have ever received about your writing or art?

Lori: Carpe Diem- Just do it. Sit your behind down and don't get up until you've written a certain amount of words or pages or minutes, even if it is only 15. I sit on a balance ball so I can bounce energy back to my cerebral cortex when it falls low. The ball allows me to exercise- swiveling the hips, raising the pelvic floor--while I write, important issues for women as we age. I turned 50 on Nov.1. The affirmation from WOW was a nice gift. Thank you.

WOW!: You're welcome, Lori! You earned it! Congratulations with all of your accomplishments and we hope to see and read more of your art in the future!

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, December 28, 2009


Writers - A great community to join

I've always known that I wanted to be a writer. I know there are lots of conversations of the solitary life of writers, but I also know that within the writers' community exists a rare camaraderie. Writers are a lucky bunch of folks, exchanging tidbits among themselves.
In recent months I have had the pleasure of speaking with several writers and they have been amazingly warm and forthcoming about their support. Some have even eagerly suggested writing tricks and others have offered to read my writing.
Although I've been too busy and have not joined a local workshop group, I have writer friends who rave about the amazing support they have found sharing their work in a group of other folks who love writing.
Writers lend their support to other writers as easily as they fill a blank computer screen.
An even larger group of folks to tap into as a writer are avid readers. They often have marvelous insight into a writer's abilities...and inabilities. I've had lots of those recent conversations, as folks make gift recommendations, and have often learned a depth from readers than has astounded me and made me think, especially when I'm writing.
So, whether a writer or a reader, I'd like to thank you for the influences you have brought to my writing and reading.
Is there any book, any writer or reader who has influenced your writerly/readerly life? Give them a shout out now and celebrate what they have brought to your blank page.

"Happy New Year!" to all the readers of WOW! Women on Writing and may all your writing dreams come true for 2010! Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. Besides contributing to AOL's ParentDish, she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Winter Writing: Getting Through the Blahs

Winter is known for its gray days and cold weather, which is often hard for writers to overcome. It's hard for me--right now, while the snow is falling outside and there's not a hint of sun, I'd like nothing more than to take a nice, long nap. But I write through--I have to because I'm a writer. So, what do I do to keep on writing through the long, cold, gray winter days? I use some of my favorite products that help my mood stay sunny and my brain stay awake.

1. Keurig Coffee Maker: (pictured here) My husband surprised me with this yesterday as one of my Christmas presents. I saw one at my friend's house, used it in the fall, and I couldn't stop raving about it. If you aren't familiar with these coffee makers, you can make one cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa at a time with this machine. You use K-cups for your grounds, and there's no mess. It is absolutely amazing. So, when I start to get drowsy in the winter, I can now easily and quickly make myself a little coffee. While I'm waiting for the cup to brew, I can do a few stretches to help my "sitting" and "writing" muscles.

2. Honeywell Space Heater: Not that you have to have a Honeywell space heater--any space heater will do, but I love this one because it has a thermostat. It shuts off when it reaches the temperature that you want. It also shuts off if it is picked up or knocked over, like when my puppy, who likes to lay right in front of it, gets too close and hits it with his leg. I'm not sure how my brain works; but when my body's warmer, I write better. I just do. So, this heater helps me write through the winter blahs.

3. Bath and Body Works Wallflower Fragrance Bulbs: Smelling something good helps me feel more energetic when the day is gray. Maybe it's because my sense of smell is trying to make up for my sense of sight and tired brain. I love candles; but sometimes, they make me nervous when I'm shuffling a bunch of papers around on my desk. So, I also like these Bath and Body Works Wallflower Fragrance Bulbs that you plug into the wall, and they fill your office or living room (where ever you write) with any smell that motivates you. I like tropical, fruity smells--coconut scents remind me of suntan lotion, which reminds me of summer!

LuAnn also just talked about getting motivated for 2010 in her great blog post on Christmas Eve. If you are feeling the winter blahs, read "Maintain Motivation in 2010," and use some of these tips, too.

How about you? Do you have some sure fire way to work through the winter blahs and keep writing?

Happy Winter Writing!
Margo Dill
"Read These Books and Use Them"

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 26, 2009


The Tiny Steps We Make in Life Can Be True Treasures

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. I had way too much to eat, my kids got way too many presents from Grams and now I have to find room for all the new stuff. It looks like Toy-R-Us exploded into my living room! But now that the hoopla is over and things are calming down a bit, I feel like I can relax for the first time in weeks.

I know we all get a bit more sentimental this time of year. My brother, Cam, has to be one of the most sentimental people out there. He sent me an email yesterday that touched me so much I had to tell all of you about it. Those closest to me know that Cam and I had a rough childhood. Our mother did the best she could with what God gave her but she just wasn’t strong enough to get help for her issues—not even for us. It was very difficult at times but, somehow, we made it. Cam and I were very close and I believe that closeness was what got us through to adulthood. And I also believe our experiences from our childhood made us more empathetic, emotional and more passionate about helping those in need, especially children. I’m so grateful for that because so many people either can never get over their bad experiences or become dark and we’ve both reached out in healthier ways to keep ourselves strong.

I’m also grateful for my gorgeous kiddos. I was given children that have specific needs. Yes, it can be difficult on some days…very difficult on others…but it’s okay. I think I was given them because they needed something from me that only I could give them. And that, to me, is scary but so incredible. They give back to me and teach me new things every day. What would I do without them?

I have great friends, a beautiful family…I’m very blessed. I think Cam’s email touched me so much because he showed me how all the tiny steps I’ve made throughout my life—even the most excruciating ones—have brought me to where I am right now. And I’m finally in a place where I can mix my experiences into my writing in a positive way. I have a great job as a writer because not only do I get to do what I absolutely love, I can set it aside and come back to it when my kids need me more. Writing has helped me through tough times, brought me close to some of the most fantastic people I’ve ever known and has taught me a lot about myself as a mother, a woman and what I’m capable of.

OH! And did I mention that my brother is an amazing poet too? He pours all of his sentimental emotions into his beautiful poems. Our writing and other creative talents were the best part of my mother so I’m proud to carry those with me. Jaimie, my oldest daughter, reads far beyond her grade level and writes little stories too. I guess each tiny step we make in life really does take us to where we have to be, doesn’t it?

What are you grateful for? How many tiny steps—or giant leaps—have you made to get you this far? How can you make those experiences into amazing top-notch stories? Be sure to take time each day to journal or write a story about them. Those are the true treasures you want remembered always.

Have a wonderful New Year's Eve!

Author of “I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD"
Author of “Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)” (Now Available!)
Author of “The Sensory Diet: Setting the Sensational Child Up For Success” (To be released January 2011)

Friday, December 25, 2009


List of Movies Made From Books in 2009

Many of us dream of writing a book, finding an agent, and getting our book published by a traditional publisher. It's a dream come true for any aspiring writer! And while we're putting words on paper and watching our characters come to life, sometimes, in the back of our minds, we dream that eventually our book will be made into a major motion picture. Some of us even pick out actors who could play our beloved characters on screen. Why not? It's fun!

These authors (below) had their dreams come true twofold. First, by getting their books published and, second, by seeing their words portrayed on the big screen. And the list is long. It gives us hope and reminds us that anything is possible.

So as you're enjoying your Christmas day, and perhaps going to the movies with your family or watching a good flick at home, remember that a writer just like you probably had a hand in the film you're watching. Some of them are obvious, like Julie & Julia, for instance, but others may surprise you. See how many you can pick out. Merry Christmas!

December 2009 & Upcoming:

Up in the Air
Cast: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Danny McBride
Based on: Up in the Air by Walter Kirn

The Lovely Bones
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan
Based on: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Cast: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Scott Reeves, Bonnie Henna
Based on: Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation by John Carlin

Youth in Revolt
Cast: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi
Based on: Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne

November 2009

The Box
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs, Michele Durrett, Kal Thompson
Based on: Button, Button: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson

Disney's A Christmas Carol
Cast: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn, Cary Elwes
Based on: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Men Who Stare at Goats
Cast: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges
Based on: Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson

Cast: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz
Based on: Push by Sapphire

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Cast: George Clooney, Owen Wilson, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Angelica Huston, Michael Gambon
Based on: Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

The Blind Side
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Ray McKinnon, Kathy Bates
Based on: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis

New Moon
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Dakota Fanning, Chaske Spencer
Based on: The Twilight Saga: New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Me and Orson Welles
Cast: Christian McKay, Claire Danes, Zac Efron, Ben Chaplin, Zoe Kazan, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly, James Tupper
Based on: Me and Orson Welles by Robert Kaplow

The Road
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Robert Duvall, Garret Billahunt
Based on: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Cast: Robin Wright Penn, Julianne Moore, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Alan Arkin, Monica Bellucci, Blake Lively, Maria Bello, Ryan McDonald
Based on: The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller

October 2009

Whip It
Cast: Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Stern, Alia Shawkat
Based on: Whip It by Shauna Cross

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Cast: Matt Czuchry, Jesse Bradford, Geoff Stults, Keri Lynn Pratt, Marika Dominczyk
Based on: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max

Where the Wild Things Are
Cast: Catherine Keener, Max Records, Benicio Del Toro, Forest Whitaker, Catherine O'Hara, Paul Dano, Lauren Ambrose
Based on: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

The Vampire's Assistant
Cast: Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, Ken Watanabe, Josh Hutcherson, Chris Kelly, Patrick Fugit, Jane Krakowski
Based on: The Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan

September 2009

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Cast: Anna Faris, Bill Hader, Bruce Campbell, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Tracy Morgan, Mr. T.
Based on: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett

The Informant
Cast: Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale, Mike O'Malley, Andrew Daly, Adam Paul, Melanie Lynskey, Thomas F. Wilson
Based on: The Informant: A True Story by Kurt Eichenwald

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Cast: Bobby Cannavale, Ben Shenkman, Max Mingella, Christopher Meloni, Julianne Nicholson, Josh Charles, John Krasinski, Dominic Cooper, Timothy Hutton, Will Forte, Lou Taylor Pucci, Chris Messina
Based on: Brief Interviews With Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace

Coco Before Chanel
Cast: Audrey Tautou, Benoit Poelvoorde, Alessandro Nivola, Marie Gillain, Emmanuelle Devos
Based on: L'irreguliere, Ou Mon Itineraire Chanel by Edmonde Charles-Roux

August 2009

Julie & Julia
Cast: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Jane Lynch
Based on: Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell, and My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme

Taking Woodstock
Cast: Demetri Martin, Kevin Chamberlin, Emile Hirsch, Imelda Staunton, Liev Schreiber, Eugene Levy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Paul Dano
Based on: Taking Woodstock by Elliott Tiber

The Time Traveler's Wife
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Ron Livingston, Jane McLean
Based on: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

July 2009

Public Enemies
Cast: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Stephen Graham, Giovanni Ribisi, Billy Crudup
Based on: Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI 1933-34 by Bryan Burrough

I Love You, Beth Cooper
Cast: Hayden Panettiere, Lauren Storm, Shawn Roberts
Based on: I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Based on: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

June 2009

Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Bates, Rupert Friend, Felicity Jones, Iben Hjejle, Stephen Frears, Christopher Hampton
Based on: Cheri The Last of Cheri by Colette

My Sister's Keeper
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin, Abigail Breslin, Joan Cusack, Jason Patrick
Based on: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

The Stoning of Soraya M.
Cast: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jim Caviezel, Mozhan Marno, Navid Negahban
Based on: The Stoning of Soraya M: A True Story by Freidoune Sahebjam

May 2009

Angels & Demons
Cast: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Based on: Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

April 2009

High Noon
Cast: Emilie de Ravin, Ivan Sergei, Cybill Shepherd
Based on: High Noon by Nora Roberts

Cast: Brittany Murphy, Jason Lewis, Tippi Hedren, Diana Scarwid
Based on: Tribute by Nora Roberts

The Soloist
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Catherine Keener, Tom Hollander, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Steven Root
Based on: The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez

March 2009

Cast: Bill Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Matt Frewer, Malin Akerman, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino
Based on: the graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Northern Lights
Cast: Rosanna Arquette, LeAnn Rimes, Eddie Cibrian
Based on: Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

Midnight Bayou
Cast: Jerry O'Connell, Lauren Stamile, Faye Dunaway
Based on: Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Cast: Jill Scott, Anika Noni Rose, Lucian Msamati, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Desmond Dube, Tumisho Masha, Bongeka Mpongwana, David Oyelowo, John Kani
Based on: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

February 2009

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, John Hodgman, Ian McShane
Based on: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

He's Just Not That Into You
Cast: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Conolly, Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, Justin Long
Based on: He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

Confessions of a Shopaholic
Cast: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Joan Cusack, John Goodman, John Lithgow, Kristin Scott Thomas, Leslie Bibb
Based on: Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Cast: Toni Servillo, Gianfelice Imparato, Maria Nazionale, Salvatore Cantalupo, Gigio Morra, Salvatore Abruzzese, Marco Macor, Ciro Petrone, Carmine Paternoster
Based on: Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples' Organized Crime System by Roberto Saviano

January 2009

Not Easily Broken
Cast: Morris Chestnut, Taraji P. Henson, Jenifer Lewis, Maeve Quinlan, Kevin Hart, Eddie Cibrian, Wood Harris
Based on: Not Easily Broken by T.D. Jakes

Cast: Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos, Allan Corduner, Mark Feuerstein
Based on: Defiance: The Bielski Partisans by Nechama Tec

Hotel for Dogs
Cast: Emma Roberts, Jake T. Austin, Kyla Pratt, Lisa Kudrow, Kevin Dillon, Don Cheadle, Johnny Simmons, Troy Gentile
Based on: Hotel for Dogs by Lois Duncan

Cast: Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent, Andy Serkis, Eliza Hope Bennett, Rafi Gavron
Based on: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Cast: Diane Lane, Thomas Jane, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson, Johnny Knoxville, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don McManus
Based on: Killshot by Elmore Leonard


Wow, what a list! I'm probably missing some, but these are the ones that I know of. If you've both read the book and seen the movie, what did you think of the adaptation from book to film? I'd love to know your thoughts!

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Maintain Motivation in 2010

by LuAnn Schindler

This week, amidst holiday preparations, I sat down and began to map my writing goals for 2010. I'm a big picture person, so I made a visualization chart with generalized goals across the top and broke that flow chart into specific goals. (Some people might say Way to procrastinate, LuAnn, but I say I need visual proof that I'm working hard to meet my goals, so it's not procrastination!)

One problem I've dealt with in the past is maintaining focus on the prize. I may start the year with fountain pen or computer keyboard blazing, but winter doldrums fence me in, spring fever skips through my work, summer fun beckons for play time, and fall festivities fetch my fancy. In other words, life happens, and sometimes, those roadblocks slow down the journey to the goal. And, sometimes, goals shift or are left unmet during the year, causing motivation to wane when I need it the most.

What I've discovered through the writing years is this: We are the choices we make. If I choose not to write today, that's my prerogative. But, if I make that choice, I shouldn't complain, I shouldn't let it slow down tomorrow's writing, and I shouldn't let it interfere with the long-term outcomes I would like to achieve.

No, maintaining motivation is personal, but sometimes, it takes a village to raise a writer. Consider these four tips to keep inspired during the next 365 days.
  • Establish writing time. When I first began freelancing, I kept a rigid schedule. That lasted about six months until I realized the schedule was cutting into my creativity. Now, I make a to-do list and if it takes me three hours to research a possible story idea, I go with it. I make it work. That's one of the benefits of being a freelancer. But, I also make sure that I spend a certain amount of time each day writing. I'm the most productive from 4:30 - 7:30 p.m., and from 10:30 - 1:30 p.m, so I let those times work for me. Find a time that fits your schedule and use it - even if you can only spare ten minutes - to write.
  • Develop both short- and long-term goals. My visualization chart is a compilation of both. I like to plan my week and say to myself, Okay, here's what I would like to accomplish this week. But it's also important to have a direction to work toward. Otherwise, some pieces of work will stay on the back burner if you don't self-impose deadlines.
  • Share your work with other writers. It's important to get other opinions, especially from colleagues. That's how you grow in your craft. This is an area I need to work on. I joined a local writer's group, hoping to share my YA novel, but most of the group wanted to be given a topic and then write about it. While that may work for some writers, it's not the type of critique I need at this point in my career. I'm still searching for an appropriate online group that will fit my needs.
  • Celebrate your achievements. If an editor or a reader let you know how much they appreciate your work, celebrate! If you land a major article in a national magazine or sell a manuscript to a publishing house, celebrate! If you send a new query, celebrate. These moments provide impetus for writing careers, so go ahead, celebrate! I recently completed a three-part series for a regional newspaper, and an editor from one of my state's dailies sent a note to my editor, who forwarded it to me. In the note, he pointed out elements of my story that stood out. Trust me, I celebrated! I printed it out and have it directly behind my laptop screen so I remember why I write: to connect with readers.
  • Network . Connect with other writers and editors, develop relationships, and maintain a professional but friendly demeanor. First impressions are lasting, and hopefully you'll set the right tone with others who, someday, may use your work.
  • Learn a new skill. Even though the art of writing may change very little, we writers still need to keep our skills sharp. Attend a conference. Take a class. Buy new software that assists with writing. Learning a new skill and putting it to use will make you more marketable.

I'm glancing at my goal chart and re-reading what I hope to accomplish in 2010. With a visual reminder, reasonable goals, and writer friends who encourage, I can't go wrong. Maintaining motivation won't be a problem this year.

Happy Holidays! And, happy motivating!

Follow LuAnn on Twitter - @luannschindler

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The AWP Award Series for 2010

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) presents their annual competition, the AWP Award Series. All authors are eligible to submit book-length entries, whether published or unpublished. Following are the categories offered.

The Donald Hall Prize for Poetry awards the winner $4,000 and publication. The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction awards the winner $4,000 and publication. Winners in the AWP Prize for the Novel and AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction both receive a $2,000 cash honorarium and publication.

Manuscripts must be an original work typed and double-spaced on good quality paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inches. Poetry manuscripts may be single-spaced. Poetry entries must have 48 pages minimum, short story collection and creative nonfiction manuscripts must have 150-300 pages and novel manuscripts must have at least 60,000 words.

There’s an entry fee of $25. You may enter in more than one genre, and you may also enter multiple manuscripts in one genre, provided that each manuscript is accompanied by its own entry form and entry fee.

Final judges for the 2010 Prizes include Peter Ho Davies and Francine Prose.

Check out all the details at the AWP site:

And best of luck to you!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Interview with Rebecca Gomez Farrell - 3rd place winner in the Summer '09 Flash Fiction Contest

Rebecca Gomez Farrell, a Californian with a bad case of wanderlust, moved to the East Coast following college, thinking to improve her writing by gaining more life experiences. Now, she writes, edits and blogs from her home in Durham, North Carolina. Rebecca is amazed she placed in a writing contest.

Using the pseudonym, The Gourmez, Rebecca reviews restaurants, cocktails, and wines. She also blogs about her lifelong passion, General Hospital, for Eye on Soaps. When these writing gigs aren't consuming her time, Rebecca modern short fiction and creative nonfiction. Currently, she's in the midst of a fantasy novel.
If you haven't had the opportunity to read Rebecca's flash piece, Last Complaint, you'll find it on the WOW! contest page. Go on, click over there.
WOW: Rebecca, congratulations on winning third place in the Spring '09 Flash Fiction contest. Last Complaint is intriguing! How did you develop the idea?
Rebecca: Last Complaint has been rolling around in my head since a creative writing course in college. We had an assignment to do a character sketch and I thought up this woman who'd spent her whole life complaining. She was the sort of person that any customer service worker (I worked in a move theater at the time) would be loathe to encounter. I think writing a piece where I could kill off someone like her was cathartic. Over time, she evolved into a character with a few more layers to ground her as a human and not merely a caricature so that the reader wouldn't be as happy to see her meet her end.
WOW: She reminds me of a few people I've encountered. What draws me to the piece is the ripple of tension that runs through it. It's unnerving! Why is conflict important to a story?
Rebecca: Most readers, at the end of the day, want a story. They want something that catches their interest, rises to a climax, and then resolves with a certain level of satisfaction. Conflict of any sort makes this possible. Creating tension within your story is a way to hook people in without needing to supply that much background information or establishing a strong connection with a character, something that is hard to do in short pieces like these. The reader knows something is going to happen but they don't know what or when so they keep reading to find out.
WOW: That's so true. Creating a hook that keeps readers invested is the goal. Your creation of the main character is brilliant. She's self-centered, lonely, demanding, and vulnerable. That's a powerful combination. What does her attitude say about the state of humanity?
Rebecca: Since she spent her life not taking other people's feelings into consideration, she essentially removed herself from humanity and they no longer wish to consider her feelings, either. Through rejecting the simple human connection that comes from things as basic as treating the people around you with respect, she has essentially lost the right to that same treatment herself. Not that I want people to read about a murder and cheer on her death, per se, but I do like that it's a bit of a comeuppance for her and the way she's lived her life.
WOW: Excellent lesson that everyone should remember: treat other's the way you want to be treated. Let's switch gears and talk about your writing career. As The Gourmez, you blog about restaurants and drinks. Some people would consider that a dream job! What are some of the ups and downs of food writing and reviewing?
Rebecca: I started The Gourmez primarily as a way to get myself in the habit of writing regularly, even if it wasn't about fiction, which is my passion. It has done wonders for me in that sense. As a blogger develops a readership, you feel responsibility to keep up your writing for them, not just for yourself any longer. So that definitely has strengthened my writing. However, realizing that what you write, no matter how subjective reviews are, can actually affect someone else's business can be both a negative and a positive thing to learn. Also, it's not the most fun to try and slyly take pictures in an establishment and meals while dining out! But I definitely have gained a strong attachment to my local community, fellow foodies, and so many fascinating people through a shared love of great food, great wine, and great cocktails, for which I am very grateful. That overrules any negative experiences I've had from my writing as The Gourmez.
WOW: A sense of community is so important for writers. That's great that you've built rapport with others through your experience. Another passion you have is for the daytime soap, General Hospital. You blog for Eye on Soaps. What makes daytime drama so fascinating?
Rebecca: Soap operas are all about the payoff for longtime viewing. I've been watching General Hospital since I was five years old and being able to see how characters and story lines develop over decades is fascinating. One character might be cheating on her husband now, but as I've watched her grow up, I don't just chalk it up to a despicable act - I can see how she's doing it because I remember when her father abandoned her when she was only a child and how every boyfriend she's had since has either died or left her. I think being able to see things play out on such a grand scale can give loyal viewers the ability to see how history affects every character's actions, which is something that has definitely made its way into my own writing and I think it's the better for it.
WOW: Great point! History affects each character's actions. I understand you're working on a fantasy novel. Would you mind sharing a bit about your upcoming novel?
Rebecca: My novel is an epic fantasy that deals with what happens when a society allows ignoble qualities to multiply without restraint. The "good" people of my imagined world have allowed those who do not wish to live by society's rules to create their own country rather than deal with how to live together any longer. Fifty years later, the corruption, abuse, and other manners of vile behavior is spilling back over the borders and into their own idyllic world. As it's fantasy, of course, this also involves the generation of creatures that suck out a human's life matter, leaving only a shell behind and a prophecy that foretells the only person who has the power to bring about their destruction since they are invisible to the naked eye. There's horror, there's love, and there are spirits of the dead that advise humanity but few who recognize them for what they are. Did I mention writing fantasy is fun?
WOW: Oh, it definitely sounds like fun! Rebecca, what advice would you offer to your fellow writers?
Rebecca: Write, write, write. Even if you've only got 30 minutes before you roll into bed, try to make a habit of doing a little writing every day. Since I write across many different genres, I find that it's helpful to switch between them if my brain isn't mentally able to handle a particular piece that day.
WOW: Wonderful advice, Rebecca. Again, congratulations on writing a piece with amazing depth and for winning 3rd place in the contest.
Interview by LuAnn Schindler

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 21, 2009


Should Tiger Woods' Wife Elin Write a Tell-All?

That was one of the questions the Insider asked their guests in their two-minute panel debate. While the arguments ensued it got me thinking about our industry, the book publishing industry, and just how twisted it is sometimes. The minute a scandal breaks, editors at major publishing houses frantically try to contract the involved parties or find writers to author books about the subject.

According to, several publishers have already contracted best-selling celebrity author Ian Halperin to "crash-write a book about Tiger." The site also reported that several of Tiger's mistresses are working on unauthorized versions of tell-all books and are "hoping to make some serious cash."

I've never read a celebrity tell-all book, nor do I particularly want to. I can think of many other books I'd rather invest my time in reading. I'm sure there's a market for them, but sometimes I wonder why people want to "tell all." Take Mackenzie Phillips' most recent memoir High on Arrival. Was it the need to confess, make money, or help others who've gone through the same thing?

To answer the question [should Elin write a tell-all?], I'd say definitely not. At least for her children's sake. And for the rumor that she might appear on Oprah, who knows if that's true. But I think it's too soon.

Now I want to know, what do you think of celebrity tell-all books as a writer or reader? A waste of time or useful information? If Elin decides to write a tell-all, would you read it? Have you read any good tell-all books that you'd like to recommend?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Are your characters believable?

Of late, I've been reading lots--and reading about lots--of different children's fiction. Throw in some of adult reading and nonfiction, assigned writing and many imaginary (and real) protagonists have invaded my mind. While not all are memorable or seem true to their own characterization, many authors succeed in doing both.
Often when constructing a fictional character, we borrow bits and pieces from life. But how frequently do you learn something in real life--someone's romantic difficulties or a high-profile heist--and think to yourself, no one would believe this if it were in a novel?
When developing my stories, I start down one road, sometimes making a flamboyant character, and question whether the reader will believe in her or in course of events. Sometimes I pare down how I might portray a person or an event thinking that by doing so, the reader will trust my fiction more. By doing so, I often find that my readers think the character less believable. Then I read someone else's fiction--a character in an incredible situation. The author has handled it so deftly, that a reader becomes engrossed...and, for pages and pages, believes. That's what I'm striving for.

What about you? When developing your own believable fictional characters, do you stray from your own experiences and embellish elements? Or do you stay close to reality, maybe sticking close to the facts of an event or how people you know would act?

"Happy Holidays!" to all the readers of WOW! Women on Writing. Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. Besides contributing to AOL's ParentDish, she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Premium Green: A Supportive Network and Markets Galore!

WOW!'s Premium-Green isn’t just market listings, it’s a guide with community benefits. For only $4 a month, you get a 100+ Page Ebook delivered to your inbox each month, and you’ll have access to a private community of women writers just like you!

The 100+ page ebook has fiction markets, nonfiction markets, markets for women, anthologies, contests, niche markets, new freelance jobs, interviews with editors and freelancers, tips for being a writing mama, and tips from working freelance writers.

We know that becoming a freelance writer takes more than just market listings. You’ll need the opportunity to network with your peers and a support system to help you reach your goals. And that’s exactly what your Premium-Green Markets Subscription will do.

The best part of your $4.00 a month is not even the 100+page ebook, although it is awesome. (And when you subscribe for a year for only $48, you have access to all 26 previous ebooks full of markets and interviews. That's a bargain!) Anyway, the best part of this subscription is a listserv you automatically belong to when you subscribe called the PG boards. I thought I would show you an example of a very informative and supportive conversation that was on the PG boards this month:

Writer One: I write regularly for a regional magazine. My contract to date has allowed me to reprint my work three months after it is published in the magazine. They sent a new contract yesterday. This one says. . .(writer one quotes the part of her contract she's questioning). Am I reading this right? They are asking me to sign away all rights? There's no way I can agree to this. They could make a book of my work, publish it, and I'd gain nothing. Has anyone seen anything like this before? What did you do? I am going to call them to try to renegotiate. Sigh.

Writer Two in response: Did they offer more money for all rights? I'm guessing not, but even if they did, this contract sounds very one-sided. Not only can they edit, reprint, and distribute, but they reserve the right to offer the rights to a third party. I'm assuming that means they can SELL your rights and receive the money themselves, and it means you have no control over what kind of mag your work might appear in next. Definitely call and see what's going on. Maybe you can re-negotiate or at least strike or modify a few phrases.

Writer Three: They've opened negotiations, in my book. Since they are asking for all rights, you need to ask for more money in exchange for the extra piece of the pie they want. They want more - you want more. The average writer would take this and run. While I don't mind selling all rights to most magazine markets (few of them I'll ever use again anyway), I'd want to be compensated for the privilege.

Writer Four: This is the first time I have seen a print periodical take this stance. Almost every digital publication requires you to sign a similar agreement. Reason is, they recognize the coming value in having a backlog of ready content online, and - you're right - for books and ebooks. With the electronic readers coming of age in the next couple of years, it will become easy to sell material as "e" formats. Publishers are preparing. I think we'll see more of that. I, personally, wouldn't agree to such a contract for work I contribute regularly. Maybe on a one-shot article. Kudos to you for reading the thing - many writers don't. Bottom line is, the rights to my work are valuable to me - I won't give them away. If someone wanted to buy all rights, the price would be significant. I just launched a new project 100% based on writing I have done over the past four years. Good thing I own the rights!

Writer One (responding to all who responded to her original question): Good info everyone. Thanks. I agree with you. Most of the time I am willing to write a new story. I have lots of words inside me! I've decided to dig my heels in regarding two situations here. I write a first-person column (essay) for the magazine. Often the stories I tell are very personal. I won't sign them away. Second, I do food articles where I come up with original recipes. I won't sign off rights to my own unique recipes. I've sent this information, in a kind message, to "corporate." We'll see what the lawyers say.

So, as you can see from this actual example of a recent WOW! PG discussion, you can find support on the PG boards and knowledgeable freelancers working in the field. If you have a question or problem, chances are someone from Premium-Green can answer it or knows someone who can. Plus you get the 100+page ebook for $4.00 a month.

PG members will sometimes post contest information or submission calls on the PG boards only and no where else. Recently, there were discussions about ghostwriting and how much to charge, starting a hometown blog, questions about getting paid from a certain market, and a proud mom sharing a beautiful poem her daughter wrote!

If you don't know what to get a writer this holiday season, try a Premium-Green subscription. Or if your spouse or significant other is still wondering what to get you. . .here's the answer. And your subscription is an expense to build your writing career, so you can claim it on your taxes!

Happy Holidays!
Margo Dill
Read These Books and Use Them

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, December 18, 2009


Friday Speak Out: "After Nano: Rewrites Can be (Sorta) Fun," Guest Post by Cathy C. Hall

After Nano: Rewrites Can be (Sorta) Fun

by Cathy C. Hall

At my last writer's group meeting, one of my friends was shocked when I related my National Novel Writing Month experience. Not the part about me writing almost 40,000 words. Oh, no. He couldn’t believe I’d actually do a rewrite!

I guess I’m what you’d call the bust-it-out writer in the group. I’m always rushing essays or short stories or queries out into the world. But that doesn’t mean I’m a write-it-once, then send-it gal. I wish I had that kind of talent. But the truth is, whether I’m writing 40,000 words or 400 words, I revise, edit, and rewrite.

I’m not gonna lie. I am not one of those writers who love the rewrite
process. So, I have a few tricks I use to make this part of the writing process
fun. (Not fun as in barrel-of-monkey fun; more like that-wasn’t-so-bad fun.)

1. The first draft is my bust-it-out piece. It’s almost always too long and a bit on the rambling side. That’s okay. The idea is to get ‘er done.

2. The second draft is where I work on the rambling, and get the piece where
I want it to go. I accomplish this by asking a simple question: “What do I
want to say?” Any spot in the piece where I’ve veered off from what I
want to say has to go. No matter how prettily I’ve said it.

3. Next, I let the writing sit awhile. Even if it’s just 20 minutes for a
lunch break, I need time so that I can come back to the piece with fresh

4. I’m always surprised at the little things I’ve missed on the second draft.
Usually, I’ve left out a word or punctuation. It’s much easier to catch
these errors when I read the piece out loud. Then, the third draft is
corrected and ready to make its way out into the world.

My novel is hanging around now, the get ‘er done stage behind me. I’ll tackle the next step come January. Because that’s one heck of an edit, and honestly, I’m in shock, thinking about the rewrite!


Cathy C. Hall is a writer and humor columnist who lives in the metro Atlanta area. When she's not writing about the funny real stuff in her life, she's making up wild stories for adults as well as children. Find out where she's been published lately by visiting her website at Or drop in at her blog at


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.


Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Looking Ahead to 2010

I don’t know how your 2009 was but in our household, it’s been a true roller coaster ride. We’ve had a balance of good and bad because, as my dear grandfather used to say, “You can never learn to appreciate the good without a struggle or two mixed in.” And, good or bad, these are the things we draw from in our writing.

This is the time of year I usually get myself organized—getting rid of all the old stuff piling up to make room for new and exciting things to come. I thought I’d share my Top Ten Writing Goals for 2010. Ready?

(10) Weed out my ideas. I have a brain that’s constantly on the go. It never seems to rest. Now for some things, like caring for four kids, this isn’t such a bad. But for writing, this can be a disaster because you end up having millions of half-finished projects. Pick out the projects you really want to do—what keeps your passion up—then toss the rest. Weeds have a tendency to choke out the beautiful stuff so just get rid of them.

(9) Prioritize. One thing I realized this past year, especially when all four of my kids and me got sick, is that I can’t do everything. When you try to do it all you get nothing done. What are the important things in your life? What do you really want to accomplish? What is your main focus? Once you figure these things out, you put them at the top of your list and make those things your priority. Everything else has to work itself around those priorities.

(8) Organize. We all have our little tips and tricks we use to keep ourselves on track. In a household like mine, organization is a must. For me, I have a huge calendar stuck on my wall right beside my workstation. I write my daily/weekly/monthly writing goals with erasable marker. I need to see those tasks or they’re gone with the wind. Some people like using tools like Outlook Calendar where you get a little message popped up on your desktop of things you need to do. Others use a tape recorder or the always- reliable desk calendar. However you do it, keep important deadlines written down and make a way to check in each week with what needs to be done. OH! And be sure to get rid of the clutter. You can’t get organized with all of those receipts, empty food containers, old papers and other garbage laying around. (My desk becomes a dumping ground quite often so I have to swoop my area often.)

(7) Exercise. Okay, this may seem really strange since I have four kids to run around after but this is important. Exercise for me gets both the brain and body going. It gives me renewed energy and pulls all the different components of my being together so I feel complete. It goes along with feeling organized: Organizing the inside makes the outside seem easier to deal with and organize.

(6) More “Me Time.” Yeah, yeah…we’ve all heard people say this to us but I don’t do it. I’m going to make sure I take more time for myself whether it’s going out with my friends or going to a yoga class up the street or just going for a walk by myself. Essentially, I have three focuses: My children (especially helping them cope with their special needs), my writing, and the work I do in the SPD community. I love all of those things but those aren’t the only things that make up who I am so having that precious Me Time reminds me of who I was before all that stuff. It rekindles my inspiration and that’s so important.

(5) Being more realistic. I have a bad habit of taking on a lot more than I can chew. It’s not that I can’t say “No.” It’s more that I get asked to do some amazing things and I just want to do it all! Being realistic is a step above prioritizing. Here you’re reminding yourself of those things you put on the forefront and understanding what your limits are at a given time. Having the strength to say, “You know I’m stoked that you’d ask me to do this project but I am not able to give it the attention it deserves. Maybe contact me _____ and we can chat about it then,” is an amazing thing. You’re being honest about what you’re able to handle while still keeping that contact for the future.

(4) Penciling in set writing time. I’m a Writing Mama. That means I sort of have to work my writing time in around my kids’ schedule. There are days where I get zero done and others where I get so much done I actually get ahead of the game. I take each day as it comes and get that writing time in where I can. That’s the point though: get it in there. Even on days where I’m drop dead tired I’m going to squeeze just a bit of writing in. Often times I get a bit of energy just getting started (and it helps to make the mind shut of when I finally do get to sleep!)

(3) Marketing what’s out there. Okay, this is a big one for me because I’m normally a very reserved person who isn’t always comfortable putting myself out there. The year 2009 marked a wonderful year for me with some exciting projects I’d been working on for years finally out there. The thing is…now I’ve gotta make sure it stays out there. So one of my biggest goals is to market myself as best as I can. (Anyone with some pointers on this is welcome to leave a comment or write me any time. Seriously.) I’m going to be doing interviews (I actually have my first radio interview scheduled in early January. AHHH!!!), book signings and all that stuff I’d shied away from before. Oh boy…I’m nervous just writing that goal. LOL!

(2) Blog, Tweet, and other socializing stuff. I posted about this the other week here on The Muffin. Just like Margo said, keeping up with all of these things is very time consuming but it’s important for writers and authors to make some connections, and keep them, to keep our work out there. I’m not saying I’m going to be able to do these things every single day but I think I need to work them in somewhere. I have made some wonderful connections and some of them only “chat” using these methods so I’d better get on the socializing train…once I actually figure out how to use them. ;oD

(1) Branch out. My #1 goal for 2010 is to delve into areas I haven’t before. I have a couple of fiction manuscripts shelved, a screenplay I’m thinking about and another children’s book I’d like to do. I’ve always stuck to the nonfiction and Inspirational but I’d really like to see what else I can do. It can be a scary thing but it’s good to branch out but as long as I remember the other stuff on my list, I think it’ll be “doable.”

I think the only other thing I’d put on my list above anything else is to spend more quality time with each of my beauties. Mama had a busy writing year and there have been times where I’ve worked with kids on my lap, working on the computer beside me or with them playing around me—the downside of working at home with little kids. But I’m not going to feel guilty about putting work aside once in awhile to focus only on my kids. Besides, they remind me how to have fun and what’s truly important in life.

Okay, that’s some of the stuff on my list. What are your goals for 2010? We’d love to hear them.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Author of “I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD”
Author of “Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)” (Now Available!)
Author of “The Sensory Diet: Setting the Sensational Child Up For Success” (To be released January 2011)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Beating Writer's Block

by LuAnn Schindler

Stuck in a rut and unsure of how to get the creative muses to delight you once again? Try these surefire sensory tips that will let the words flow.
  • Move it. When I lose concentration or when the words don't come easily, I move to a new location. Sometimes, I take my laptop and move from my office to the kitchen or bedroom. Other times, I saunter out to my deck and take in what's happening outside. And yet on other occasions, putting words on paper instead of typing, makes all the difference.
  • Look around. Pictures may be worth a thousand words. Or maybe even an entire novel! Those times when I can't seem to get a handle on a character trait, I look through my photo albums and look at what's going on. Another visual attack on writer's block is to visit a museum. You'll be amazed at how details stand out.
  • Read it. When I find a publication I think I would like to write for and I can't come up with a topic that will translate into a sale, I peruse the newspaper and look at every advertisement. I've come up with several articles from ideas generated off a 2x2 ad.
  • Listen carefully. Working in complete silence does not bother me, but when I'm developing ideas, I like music to blare in the background. I have an eclectic mix on my iPod, and it generally takes a couple songs to pump up the volume - and the possibilities.
  • Taste it. Trying to come up with specific details? I'll grab a piece of fruit and slowly note the details of what I'm tasting. I usually amass a sizable list of words I can add to what I'm working on.

How do you beat writer's block?

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Noah Pedrini: Second Place Winner Summer 2009 Flash Fiction Contest

We have a real treat on The Muffin today! I am lucky to interview Noah Pedrini who won second place in the 2009 Summer Flash Fiction contest with his story Rose. (Click on the link, scroll down until you see Noah's smiling face, and then you can read his award-winning story yourself!)

Here's a little information about Noah:

Noah Pedrini has always felt a strong affinity for the written word and wanted to be, more than anything, a writer. Taking some creative writing courses in college, it wasn't until relocating to Buenos Aires in early '09 when he began writing in earnest. Inspired by the city's strong literary history, he embarked upon the never-ending process of honing his craft, writing regularly, and joining a weekly workshop of expat writers. When not writing, he makes art out of found notes, plays fingerstyle blues guitar, and travels.

WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Noah. Let's get started with learning more about your award-winning story. Where did you come up with the story idea for "Rose?"

Noah: There is a shopping district in Boston called Downtown Crossing. It was right around the corner from the college I attended. Almost every time I'd walk through there, I would see a lady selling roses--the same lady--and though I never bought any of her roses, she has stayed with me ever since. There was something I found fascinating about her--her expressionless face, her hollow eyes, and the slow, even way in which she moved.

One day, not too long ago, I was on a bus in Buenos Aires, and the rose seller was in the back of my mind. I looked out the window and caught a blind couple walking down the sidewalk, something I had seen several times during the last few weeks. Somehow those two elements--the rose seller from Boston and the blind couple from Buenos Aires--bounced
around in my head until I arrived at the loose idea for the piece that became "Rose."

That is how ideas seem to come to me: ideas bounce around in my head, narrowly missing each other, until two or more have a magical accident and collide to suggest a story.

WOW: What a fascinating process. The important thing here is to let ideas have time to bounce around! What are the themes you are exploring in this flash fiction piece?

Noah: One of the themes I am interested in is alienation. The story begins by suggesting that the rose seller and the blind couple are somewhat alienated from society through the description of the other pedestrians on the street avoiding them as they pass. The rose seller feels a sense
of alienation because she works alone at a difficult job--because she is an immigrant maybe. The blind couple feels alienated too; but for them, the alienation comes from the fact that they are left unable to see the society of which they are a part.

But when the rose seller gets a sale, and it comes from the blind man, we see through the couple's ensuing dialogue that they are in fact, at least that day, rather happy. While the other pedestrians are busy and in a hurry, the couple walks slowly. Though the reason for their
physical slowness is conditional, the reader (hopefully) sees an analogy in the contrast between the two and is left with a sentiment of not hurrying through life, living enough in the moment to enjoy the simpler things such as the smell of a rose.

WOW: You did explore both those themes really well in your story, which is definitely why you won second place. All that in just a few hundred words is amazing! Your descriptions are very rich and vivid! How do you go about writing such great descriptions with such a small word count?

Noah: Thanks. I really enjoy writing description. More often than not, for me, I stare into space until I've managed to put myself close enough to whatever it is I'm trying to describe, so that eventually some part of its essence steps forward.

I think that the key to effective description, particularly with respect to a small word count, is to make it do more than just describe the setting, characters, etc. In addition, it must do things like establish the story's tone and reiterate its themes.

WOW: That's great writing advice, especially for flash fiction writers! I must repeat it. Setting "must do things like establish the story's tone and reiterate its themes." Do you enter a lot of contests? If so, why? If not, why did you decide to enter WOW!'s?

Noah: Being the solitary, often grueling activity that writing is, contests give writers (especially the new ones) the burst of confidence it takes to keep at it through all the bouts of writer's block, brutally honest critiques, and pieces that seem to go nowhere.

I submitted this piece to the WOW! contest and one other; those are the only two I've entered so far. I don't recall how I heard about it. There are a number of excellent websites that list fiction contests of all kinds, I think it may have been through one of those.

WOW: We hope this contest gave you the boost you needed to keep at it! Your bio said that you recently moved to Buenos Aires, and that's when your writing took off. What is the reason for this?

Noah: For me, traveling is one of the most exciting and effective ways to enrich my well of experience. From there my creative endeavors are fed. And once in a while, I look in to find that it has given birth to a new creative pursuit. Everyone is inspired differently; for me inspiration
comes from introducing myself to new places and people and putting myself in new situations.

More specifically, I think my return to writing upon moving to Buenos Aires was was due to two main reasons. One, being in a cheaper country afforded me the freedom to work less and have more time to be creative. Two, Buenos Aires is a city with a strong literary history that remains
strong to this day. The city hosts the largest book fair in South America, and its café culture is very conducive to writing. Borges and Cortazar are its most well-known authors, but only a few of many brilliant writers that call or have called this city home. Also, a growing number of expatriate writers have relocated here from abroad, and a number of excellent resources exist to support that community. One I wholeheartedly recommend is Writers in Buenos Aires .

Anyway, I feel very fortunate to have found myself in Argentina and for the role living here has played in reigniting my longstanding interest in writing.

WOW: It sounds like a fascinating place to be living and writing, and we are glad that it inspired you to write "Rose." What projects are you currently working on?

Noah: I am currently working on an interactive digital art project that draws on the ever-growing collection of Post-it notes I've collected from the streets. More than the things they say, I find beauty in the unique style of handwriting each contains and see a sort of anthropological value in them as discarded notes that represent bits and pieces of
people's lives. What's more, they make great writing prompts!

Of course, I am always working on writing new pieces and rewriting older ones and trying to improve at a craft that is at once dreadfully difficult and singularly fulfilling.

WOW: The Post-it note project sounds really interesting, and I bet you do learn a lot. Writers' imaginations can often run wild with the littlest bits of information, too. Good luck to you, Noah, with that project and the rest of your writing!

interview conducted by Margo L. Dill (https://

Labels: , ,

Monday, December 14, 2009


A Review of 'A Change in Altitude' by Anita Shreve

By Jill Earl

Newlyweds Margaret and Patrick arrive in Kenya intending to stay for a year for his residency at a local hospital. As they adjust to new surroundings, so very different from their American upper-class life, Patrick easily settles into his medical duties. Life for Margaret, however, increasingly catches her off balance. Then, a tragic accident occurs and in its aftermath, Margaret's journey for closure involves an attempt to rescue her young marriage while rediscovering herself in the process.

I enjoyed A Change in Altitude, Anita Shreve’s latest release, which was my first encounter with the author’s novels. I initially found the characters a bit off-putting, particularly their hosts somewhat pompous Arthur and his icy wife Diana, but warmed up to central character Margaret quite a bit as I continued to read. I attributed my change of heart to the character’s willingness to do more than just ‘do time’ for a year on the African continent. While husband Patrick slips into routine at the hospital, Margaret begins to tentatively explore her new homeland, taking on a position as a photographer for a newspaper, as she struggles---along with fellow Kenyans---with understanding and dealing with major political changes in the country at the time.

Ms. Shreve's vivid descriptions of Margaret's world were sensory experiences that added depth to the story. I marvelled the breaktaking vista of Mt. Kenya, felt the dust of the savannah settle into the characters' clothes as they trekked through it, and was refreshed by cooling rains. When Margaret's visits to a local shanty town become more frequent, we both grow to appreciate the strength and beauty of its residents seemingly hidden in ramshacked, tin-covered shacks.

It’s been said that Ms. Shreve has a talent in revealing the intimate details of human relationships, and I’m inclined to agree. With events leading up to and beyond the accident, Margaret is forced to confront deeply hidden truths about herself, causing her to question everything and everyone she knows, including her marriage to Patrick. Travelling with Margaret on her journey was both painful and enlightening. There weren’t any easy answers to her questions or mine as I read, but then again, life doesn’t offer them either.

If you like your novels to challenge your perspective of relationships, I think it’s worth giving A Change in Altitude a look. And for more on the acclaimed author, please check out our interview with Ms. Shreve in the December 2009 newsletter.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Maryan Pelland's Must Have: Save the Cat Screenwriting Software

We put a call out to Premium-Green subscribers and asked for their must-have writing products. Maryan wrote in right away and shared a wonderful tool for screenwriters! If you have a screenwriter on your holiday gift list, or are one yourself, this is one product that will surely be a big hit.


Save the Cat Screenwriting Software

By Maryan Pelland

Save the Cat is an indispensable tool for screenwriters of any level. Priced at $89.95 from it's compatible with Mac OS 10.3.9 and higher or Win Vista and XP. The upbeat tutorials teach valuable skills.

There is enough information and teaching here to equal a college course. Work it, baby, and it will work for you--you'll write a screenplay. Snyder's organizing, outlining and visualizing result in a fleshed-out project.

Save the Cat quickly gets you up and running. The program is well structured and easy to follow, using SpiderMan 2 to illustrate concepts. It's a snap to read about Spidey and contemplate your own work.

The board, which Snyder calls, "the fabled device seen in executive offices all over Hollywood," teaches tons about movie pacing and lays your play in front of you before you write a page.

Save the Cat is fun, with movable parts you shuffle and arrange--never risking a paper cut. The software makes you define settings, plotlines, characters, directions, set ups and payoffs. You'll consider emotional changes and character development.

There are definite rules for successful screenwriting. Save the Cat makes you understand and internalize them. If you're stuck trying to get ideas out of your head and into a manuscript, this should shake you loose. If you can't do it with Save the Cat, you might not be ready yet.


Maryan Pelland ( is a working writer specializing in baby boomers, women and writers' issues. Her byline has appeared more than 400 times in major publications in print and online. You can contact her at: maryan[at]ontext[dot]com.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 11, 2009


As a writer, what battles are you fighting?

"The picture that looks as if it were done without an effort may have been a perfect battlefield in its making." Robert Henri from The Art Spirit

This quotation comes at an excellent time for me. I've just witnessed a plasterer put the final touches on a couple large holes in our home's 1916 walls. Almost 10 years of living in this home, we've been working on many remodeling projects and the plastering helps to move us to complete one of the last big ones.

Except we asked the plasterer to finish his work rough. It was difficult, he told me, because he was accustomed to make everything "smooth as glass." But our walls are the old, rough plaster. Make them smooth and they will look out of place to the rest of our home. We were asking the plasterer to do something he was unaccustomed to doing, but a technique he knew how to do because of his experience. Smooth or rough, the end result hides the cracks and the "battlefield" beneath it.

Do you ever read someone's work and wonder about how many drafts it took to get to the rough or smooth finish the author was after? Do you ever wonder what "battles" needed to be fought in order to achieve the effortless read you enjoyed? Then look to your own work. What are you fighting when you fight the "battles"? Are you able to achieve the desired, perhaps, effortless results--rough or smooth? Or is the battle still being fought among the words as you try to finish your work?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. Besides contributing to AOL's ParentDish, she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places. After writing this blog, Elizabeth plans to stare at the walls to watch the paint and plaster dry. Literally.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Setting Up a Schedule for Daily Blogging

When you're starting a blog, you probably have the best intentions of blogging every day. And at first, blogging is so much fun! You share your opinions and thoughts on a subject you know about, you receive a few comments, and you're hooked. Then comes month three and four, and blogging has lost its newness. So, even though you've heard time and time again that when starting a blog, you should blog every day or on a regular schedule, it seems like it's not so important any more.

This happened to me with my blog, "Read These Books and Use Them." I just couldn't keep up with reviewing a children's or YA book a day AND providing activities for the book for parents and teachers. I knew my traffic wasn't good, and my blog wasn't what it could be.

So, I set up a daily blogging schedule (which is only five-days a week, M through F), and this helps me stay on track. It also keeps the repetition down and my excitement level up. I took each day of the week and made it a certain topic or theme. I have Maniac Mondays, which is like an opinion piece on the educational/homeschooling world today, and Tuesday Tales and Un-Forgettable Fridays--these are like my old format where I provide key information and activities about books for parents, teachers, and librarians. Finally, I made up Wacky Wednesdays and Timeless Thursdays. Wacky Wednesdays are where I provide some sort of lesson idea/plan for teachers, which could be a bit wacky and sometimes based on a book. Timeless Thursdays features an older book like Mrs. Piggle Wiggle that children still love and can learn from today.

I've seen blogs with certain days for giveaways, certain days for photos only--Wordless Wednesdays--. and certain days for interviews. You just have to look at the focus of your blog, brainstorm a little, and figure out some topics that you could stick to each day. This doesn't mean that you can't blog about something else on one of these set days if something really exciting happens. But in the morning when your brain might be a little foggy, you already have a start on what to blog about. Blogging every day helps build readership, gets your blog posted higher on the search engines, and provides monetizing opportunities. If you are interested in any of these but you are struggling, try a blog schedule in 2010.

Happy Blogging!
Margo Dill

photo by joyosity

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


A Few Online Marketing Resources

Well, I missed the big release of my book because H1N1 blew through our household. In fact, I don’t even think I was awake when my book came out. But now that we’re on the road to recovery (and I can sit at my keyboard without nodding off) I’m jumping right onto the Marketing train.

My publisher, and a few caring expert authors, have shared a few marketing tools with me and I thought I’d let you in on some of them. I’m sure that many of you already know about some of these but I’ll put them here anyway just in case.

(1) Media Connections: This is a great networking site run by Jackie O’Neal. Not only can authors connect with other authors, but Jackie is very well connected and can hook you up with many online connections. Some of the information is free but there are some small fees for others. She did a little video ad for me for $25 and now it’s up on Women Online Magazine!

(2) Author’s Den: If you want to get your face and work out there, this is definitely one of the greatest places to do it. You can get a little page for free with just the basics or you can choose from a variety of packages for a fee. The great thing is that it’s for authors but if you have a short story to share or another shorter piece, you can put those up to! And you get a blog too.

(3) She Writes: A wonderful friend of mine (Thanks, Annette!) told me about this great site for women writers. With your free membership, you can get your work advertised on their front page, join different groups based on your interests, needs and/or genre, and be “in the know” on all the latest and greatest in the writing and publishing world.

(4) JacketFlap: CALLING ALL CHILDREN/YA WRITERS!! This is a great place for you. Also a free membership, you can add your books for some free publicity, join groups and discussions and even get connected to a few agents and publishers. Definitely something to check out.

(5) LinkedIn: Another great FREE connection tool. Not only can you build up your profile and network but you can make some very valuable new connections by having people recommend you for jobs or appearances!

Of course, the problem with joining all of these media places—not including Twitter, Facebook and MySpace—is that in order to get the most out of them, it’s good to go in there at least once a week or so and post, ask questions or snoop around. Yes, it can be very time consuming but it’s all worth it if you can make those necessary marketing connections to get your work out there!

Good luck and feel free to share some of your own (this list certainly isn’t exhaustive!)

Happy writing all!

Author of “I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD
Author of “Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)” (Now Available!)
Author of “The Sensory Diet: Setting the Sensational Child Up For Success” To be released January 2011)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Beth Blake, Summer 2009 Flash Fiction Contest First Place Winner!

Beth Blake is so excited to be in the top ten of another WOW! contest! She has been writing short stories for as long as she can remember. She was asked to be a part of the National Undergraduate Literature Conference when she was in school, and won the first place award for her university's literary journal contest. She has also been delighted to write the Christmas program for the past three years for her church congregation.

Beth graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a degree in marriage and family studies, child studies, and creative writing. She is from La Grande, a lovely small town in Oregon, and draws much of the material for her stories from the town and people she loves so dearly. She is the second of seven children and really enjoys spending time with her family, including her seven nieces and nephews. She LOVES to cook and makes pretty good desserts if she does say so herself! Her long-term writing goal is to not be so critical of herself and afraid of what others might think. She wants to write a book one day, but most of all simply hopes to continue to touch hearts through words.

You can read her winning story here.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Summer 2009 writing contest! How do you feel?

Beth: Oh my goodness, I can’t tell you how excited I am! I couldn’t believe it! My hands were shaking for about an hour! It means so much to me. Earlier this year I experienced a slump time where I wasn’t writing much of anything. I had gone through some experiences that were a blow to my confidence, and everything I wrote seemed stupid. It took awhile to get back on the wagon and write again. When I saw my name and my picture underneath the “1st Place” sign, I was so happy. Not because I had won any prize, but because I felt like an author again. I can’t tell you what that meant to me. You know what’s interesting; since I’ve won I’ve realized that I was an author all along. That is what I’ve always been. I just forgot that for a time.

WOW: We’re so glad the win had such a wonderful effect on you! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story?

Beth: I love to answer this type of question. I really enjoy hearing about the genesis of stories. A few years ago there was a widower in my neighborhood with three young girls. After his wife died, there was a group of young girls that came over and taught him how to do his daughters’ hair for school. I was so touched by this and it was the basis for this story. I wanted to focus on the idea of someone giving a simple service after the funeral is over and the casseroles stop coming. I also wanted the story to be about a strong friendship. I have been lucky to be a part of some very strong friendships in my life and that has meant the world to me. I poured the feelings I have as being a part of these friendships into Joy and Jenny. I wanted to end the story on a note of hope, with the suggestion that even death couldn’t end this friendship. I really liked the idea of both of them taking care of the other’s child.

WOW: You’ve also placed in the top ten in one of our previous contests. As a two-time contest winner, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?

Beth: Be brave! Never stop trying!

Something else I have learned about writing lately is that a writer is what I call the 3 “E’s”. A writer is an entertainer, an empathizer, and an educator. A good story entertains; it brings someone to another world for a little while. The reader can visit Oz, or sail a pirate ship from their living room. A good story also empathizes with the human condition. Characters become our friends because they relate to what we are feeling and the situations we go through. This is something that has really been driven home to me this year. As a writer, I have learned to use the pain and joy in my life and infuse it into my characters. It has made all the difference.

One of my favorite actresses, Allison Janney, tells of the process she goes through when acting out a scene of intense emotion. She had dreams of becoming an Olympic skater when a freak accident as a teenager ended that dream. She says that any time she needs to portray pain, she goes back to that moment and brings out the despair she felt. She uses that connect with her audience. An author goes through the same process.

A good story also educates. It educates us about the world around us, and about how to relate to people. It can teach us about ourselves. To me the greatest stories are the ones that teach us about our feelings, specifically how to identify them and use them. That is the best advice I can give: entertain, empathize, and educate.

WOW: You're very generous with your advice, thank you! We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Beth: Well, another thing I’ve learned over the year is that my writing, like the rest of me, can’t be forced. That having been said, my music teacher told me once that an artist must practice their art every day because the body is constantly changing and you are not the same person from day to day. I try to spend time every day doing something. I write in my journal every night and highlight areas that I think I can use in my writing. I also have a writing journal that I use to write down phrases that come to me. I am never ever without a notebook. Despite the fact that I have an awful short term memory, I really think it is important to have a pocket notebook with you to capture those little moments of inspiration when they come.

When I am working on a project, I like to have quiet or some selective music playing. Talking distracts me terribly. I have always believed that an author is also an actor and needs to “get into character.” Music is something that always helps me do this. When I need to bring out sadness I will listen to the “Somewhere in Time” soundtrack or if I want to bring out a peaceful feeling, I’ll listen to the “Anne of Green Gables” soundtrack.

WOW: Again, great tips. What projects are you working on now? Do you have any writing goals in mind for the new year?

Beth: This is my busy season! I am writing two Christmas programs this year for different church congregations. I always love doing this. I am also working on a Christmas story. A few years ago I gave a friend of mine a hand-made book of Christmas stories with the promise to add one every year. As far as the new year, I have several projects in mind. I have had a story circulating in my head about a women who plays a mother in a “Leave it to Beaver” type show who unexpectedly takes custody of the teenager who plays her daughter on the show. They learn together about what it really means to be a family. I also would love to do a story about the White House. I have always been fascinated by the President of the United States and life in the White House. It is a dream of mine to visit Washington D.C. some time. I will also of course enter WOW contests!

WOW: Beth, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and may your Washington, D.C. travel dreams come true. Finally, talk to us about those yummy desserts you make! What’s your favorite?

Beth: Oh my, a favorite…hmm, that’s a tough one. I would say my favorite to make is pie. I feel such a sense of accomplishment when a pie comes out of the oven. Baking has always been a stress reliever for me. At college, my apartment was always full of goodies around finals time. My roommates would walk into to see me reading a book while rolling out dough and say, “She’s stressed again!” They liked it when I got stressed! Most of all, I love to bake things from scratch. Mixes save time but are infinitely less fun. I love to watch yeast bubble and foam. I love to feel bread dough underneath my hands as I knead it. I am fascinating by the chemistry of baking. I love to learn why things work in a recipe. My most famous dessert is probably my caramel apple pie. Someone told me once that the reason why I haven’t found “Mr. Right” yet is because he hasn’t tasted my caramel apple pie!

Thank you again for this opportunity. I love this site and I am so proud to be a winner in your contest!


We'll continue getting to know the Top 10 Summer '09 contest winners every week on Tuesdays. Be sure to check back for more interviews!

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Writer's Yearbook 2010: A Review

By Jill Earl

One of the things I look forward to at year’s end is picking up a copy of Writer’s Digest’s annual Writer’s Yearbook, another aid for helping writers be the best we can be.

I like ‘The Year in Review’, a rundown of the newsmakers and trends that made headlines in the publishing world. In addition, there’s the listing of the ‘Top 101 Websites for Writers’ that appears in the Digest itself.

My favorite section in the Yearbook continues to be the ‘100 Best Book and Magazine Markets for Writers’. I can count on finding a market or two that I’ve never heard of, and this compilation is a lot less overwhelming than its much larger sibling, Writer’s Market.

Don’t forget the usual helps such as dealing with rejection letters, crafting successful queries, advice on finding the right agent and the like. It’s these resources that keeps me coming back year after year.

The latest edition of Writer’s Yearbook can be found in bookstores. You can also find back issues at the F+W Publications site at

The Writer’s Yearbook. Check it out and get a jump on setting yourself up for a more productive and successful new year.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 05, 2009


WOW! Facebook Fan Contest #2: Photos!

WOW! is having another Facebook Fan Contest! 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: WOW! Facebook Fan Contest #2: Photos

1. Post a photo of your writing spot, writing buddies, writing workshops, writing conferences, yourself writing, etc. to the WOW! Facebook Fan Page for one entry. Multiple photos will give you multiple entries with a limit of 5 entries (you can post as many photos as you want!).

2. If you have already posted photos, you are already entered into the contest! So, anyone who has posted a photo is entered. (Margo has been keeping track!)

3. How to post a photo. There are two ways: send your photos to margo[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com as a jpg attachment with captions as to what the photos are. Please put in the subject line: Facebook Photo Contest. Margo will upload your photos to the fan page. The second way is to do it yourself, right on WOW's Facebook wall. Simply, type in your photo's caption in the box on the wall that says, "What's on your mind?" Then click the icon for photos underneath this box. You will have three choices for how to post a photo to the wall. Click on the one that pertains to you and follow the directions. You are now entered!

4. For an extra entry into the contest (so you could have a total of 6 entries--5 photos and 1 friend invite), invite some of your Facebook friends to be fans of WOW! You can do this by clicking on the link on the left-hand corner of the wall that says, "Suggest to friends." Then, on the wall of WOW's fan page, please leave a comment, such as: "I just entered WOW's 2nd ever Facebook Fan page contest. I invited 10 friends to become fans of WOW!" (That's one more entry!)

5. You cannot enter the contest without posting a photo. So, if you post one photo and invite a friend to join WOW! on Facebook, that is worth two entries. You cannot ONLY invite friends to enter this month's contest. If you have any questions please e-mail Margo (margo[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com) or leave a question on the wall.

6. Your photos need to be posted on our wall or sent to Margo by Friday, December 18, 2009 8:00 p.m. CST. Winners will be announced on Sunday, December 20, 2009 on the fan page and with a personal Facebook message.

7. Through a random drawing from the fans who posted photos, one winner will be picked. The prizes are a WOW! Women On Writing prize pack, including a WOW! t-shirt, tote bag, hoodie, and a year-long subscription to Premium-Green Writer's Markets.

Thanks in advance for participating, and stay tuned for our next fan contest in the New Year!

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 04, 2009


Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest Deadline: Dec 31st

Have you checked out the Dream Quest One Poetry and Writing Contest?

Deadline for both contests: December 31, 2009

Writing Contest: entries may be written on a maximum of 5 pages, either neatly handwritten or typed, single or double spacing, on any subject or theme.

Entry fee: $10

Prizes: 1st Place $500; 2nd $250; 3rd $100.


Poetry Contest: entries may be written on any subject or theme. All poems must be 30 lines or fewer and either neatly handwritten or typed, single or double line spacing.

Entry fee: $5

Prizes: 1st Place $250; 2nd $125; 3rd $50.


Nice cash prizes! Entries may be submitted either by postal mail or electronically. Full guidelines are available here: Good luck!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Your (Christmas tree) fiction process

As many writers have pointed out, sticking to a routine and writing every day at a set time and letting yourself just write makes you more apt to come into contact with your inner self, your unconscious self.
In the spirit of the holidays, is your self--as it is set out on the page--a spare, seemingly unloved, basic Christmas tree with a few lights and fewer ornaments? Or are you one of those Christmas tree loaded with colorful blinking lights and enough ornaments to have sent Charlie Brown's petite Christmas tree into a state of shock? Or do you find yourself to be a cross-section of both, depending on the day or time of day?
For me, I find that I tend to edit as I write, ending up with a basic tree with a few ornaments. Fortunately, I think my inner editor replaces my inner critic. Generally, I spend time formulating in my head and then getting the idea on the page, but often I hesitate over the keys, contemplating the word before I press each letter. Thinking twice as I begin a sentence, visualizing where it will take me.
I had a professor who, if I remember correctly, characterized fiction writers in two groups based on drafts' needs: putter-inners and taker-outers. I'm a putter-inner. I write the bare bones and need to put-in more, decorating each bough with more ornaments or tinsel as I review each draft. Frequently, when I end up with a spare tree of a fiction piece, I sometimes envy the taker-outers. Although they need to take out, their tree is lushly decorated.
So, are you a putter-inner or a taker-outer?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. Besides contributing to AOL's ParentDish, she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places. She is looking forward to sharing the Peanuts' Christmas special with her kids, as well as the Heat Miser song.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


WOW! Call for Submissions: YA Issue

Young adult (YA) books are selling despite the economy. Adults and teens both seem to enjoy reading these books, which can be about many of the typical teen issues: suicide, peer pressure, dating, drugs, and cliques. Vampires and werewolves have practically taken over the YA section at the bookstores right now thanks to the Twilight series; and YA authors, like Ellen Hopkins author of Crank, are constantly on Twitter, Facebook, and their blogs, talking about censorship.

Angela has decided to dedicate March's WOW! issue to YA! She has also asked me to be a guest editor for the issue. I am thrilled and can't wait to work on this exciting issue about the YA market. I love YA!

Here are some ideas we had about topics for articles/interviews in the YA issue:

  • Interviews with YA authors about the craft of writing and marketing YA.
  • Interviews with YA editors or agents and what they’re looking for. What aren’t they getting?
  • Should YA authors find an agent or editor or does it matter?
  • YA authors and social networking/blogs: Do they target their teen fans or their writing colleagues or both? Special challenges of having teen fans.
  • What makes a book YA? The difference from tween and middle grade.
  • Edgy subjects in YA: are there any that are too edgy? What about language?
  • The use of technology in YA books—when does it date your ms? Do you need to put in e-mail, texting, Twitter and so on in contemporary novels now? How does having cell phones change the plots of novels?
  • YA non-fiction: What types of subjects are authors writing about now for teens? Is this an “easy” sale for authors and publishers?
  • Trends: Is everybody writing about vampires? What’s the hot thing coming up? Should you write about trends?

We’re open to any ideas you may have for this issue. Please review our past children’s issues to check for YA topics we’ve already covered:

If you have an idea for an article or interview, please query us at submissions (at) wow-womenonwriting (dot) com.

Writer’s Guidelines:

Pay: $50 - $150 per article.

Looking forward to reading your queries,

Margo Dill

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Dr. Catrise Austin, author of 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile, Launches her Blog Tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Dr. Catrise Austin owes her A-List career to a love of belly laughs. As a new dentist, Dr. Austin enjoyed many nights at the comedy clubs of New York City where she met up and coming comedians such as Chris Rock, Tracey Morgan, Mike Epps, and Dave Chappelle. Before you could say, "Brush after every meal" Dr. Austin was known as the "Dentist to the stars."

But Dr. Austin, who originally became a dentist because of how she felt as a young girl with a less-than-perfect smile, knew that great smiles weren't just for Hollywood. Many of her patients are not "stars" and it was for these people that she decided to write a book of all the secrets she'd acquired. She wanted the A-List smile to be in everyone's grasp.

Find out more about Dr. Austin by visiting her websites:

5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile
By Dr. Catrise Austin

Imagine having a smile that is red carpet ready like Hollywood's A-List Stars! What if you could learn the secrets to a smile worthy of the red carpet--right in your own living room? What if you could learn what the stars do to get their Hollywood A-List smiles--then scout out ways to get it for a fraction of the price? What if you could gain--or perhaps even regain--the confidence, enthusiasm, and energy of today's hottest celebs simply by getting the smile of your dreams? You can, you know, and 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile shows you how.

Dr. Catrise Austin is known as Manhattan's "celebrity dentist to the stars." Her busy 57th Street Midtown office is home to some of the most cutting-edge, [and] high-tech techniques on the planet, but you don't need to spend tons of money or even a lot of time on your smile if you simply learn the basics taught in 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile.

Paperback: 244 pages
Published by Morgan James Publishing (Oct. 2009)
ISBN: 1600376444

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Dr. Catrise Austin's book, 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile, 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: Dr. Austin, in New York City you're known as the "Dentist to the Stars" because of your many celebrity clients. I suppose, just like everyone else, celebrities find dentists the same way the rest of us do--word of mouth from their friends and co-workers. Although you had a thriving practice you decided to write 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile. How did that happen?

Dr. Austin: I was inspired to write my book 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile mainly because there is a lack of dental information for consumers and patients to turn to when they have questions and need basic information in layman's terms. In my practice, I constantly get asked the same questions and I began to think there was truly a need for this information to be tangible and put all in one place. When I wrote the book, I wanted it to be for the everyday hard working person who may have thought about improving their smile, but needed to get a little more info to see what their options are, how long it may take, pros and cons of certain procedures, and how much it may cost.

I share a lot of tips and even got some of my celebrity clients and friends to tell their stories of how a new smile helped them. But what I want everybody to know in this book is that Hollywood smiles are not just reserved for rich and famous celebrities! In the book I tell what the stars do to get their Hollywood A-List Smiles--then how to scout out ways to get it for a fraction of the price.

In addition, I wrote 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile because I was inspired to share my personal story about how changing my smile changed my life and actually made me want to become a dentist. I share how at the age of 15, improving my smile helped me gain confidence, improved my self esteem, and gave me the enthusiasm and energy to go on to pursue my dreams. I'm here to tell everyone that their smiles can change their lives too in ways that they never dreamed personally, socially, and help them in their careers.

WOW: Is 5 Steps your first writing project?

Dr. Austin: I've always enjoyed writing in college. I majored in psychology in college which required a lot of research and writing papers. I loved it.

Earlier this year, I started writing for The Examiner. I was the Celebrity Health reporter. That was so cool--to learn and report on health issues that celebrities battle personally or health initiatives that they support. Sometimes we believe that celebs have it made and they don't have real health or dental issues, but they do. I highlight some celebrity dental stories in my book.

I had the idea to write a dental book about 4 years ago, but just wasn't able to buckle down and find the proper time needed to dedicate towards the book. But once I got serious, it took me about a year and a half to put the book together, find a publisher, and get the book in print.

WOW: I've heard that you are quite the guerrilla marketer with your dental practice! You aggressively (and successfully, I might add) marketed your business. Now, most of us don't have dental practices but we have books, writing businesses, and workshops to market. So give us some tips! How did you become a guerrilla marketer?

Dr. Austin: Marketing has been somewhat of a natural talent. I didn't take any classes while in college. It's the fun part of what I do and when it comes to marketing, I'm fearless! I've learned marketing techniques over the years by taking marketing courses, reading marketing and PR books, and I've been inspired by other successful dentists when I attend the annual American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) conference. This is where all of the top cosmetic dentists across the world gather to hone their skills. You're going to laugh at this, but I also get inspired by watching those E! True Hollywood Stories, Inside The Actor's Studios shows, VH1 Behind the Music features, and pretty much any biography show. I always like to hear rags to riches stories of successful people.

Here's my tip: dedicate at least an hour per week learning something new about marketing and PR. It can be attending a Learning Annex seminar if you live in a major city that has them or look for organizations like your local chamber of commerce that frequently have marketing and networking programs. Also consider signing up for webinars or teleseminars, picking up some books on marketing at your local bookstore or library, and subscribing to blogs on marketing. The resources are endless!

WOW: Speaking of resources, Jay Conrad Levinson is known as the "Father of Guerrilla Marketing" and you've been called a guerrilla marketer. Did you happen to read his books?

Dr. Austin: Absolutely! Those "Guerrilla" Marketing and Publicity books are awesome and a must read. I'm so lucky because I live in New York City where Rick Frishman lives. He co-authors with Jay Conrad Levinson and does lots of seminars in New York and across the country on marketing and PR. Rick actually helped me get my book publishing deal with Morgan James Publishing.

WOW: As writers, many of us worry about the cost of marketing. When you were starting your dental practice what size budget did you have for marketing? What was the most valuable FREE thing you did to promote yourself?

Dr. Austin: Budget, what's that?! I'm a social butterfly so the most valuable FREE thing that I've always done and will continue to do is to get out and network! Its fun, you get to meet new people, and it costs little to nothing, except the cost of your business card or promotional item that you're handing out.

WOW: Why didn't you just go the traditional route--take out some ads in the local papers, the yellow pages, maybe a billboard?

Dr. Austin: These methods can get really expensive and you have to do them consistently for them to be effective. I also saw a lot of cheap ads being placed by dentists in the papers and I didn't want to put myself in that category. VIP Smiles is more of a boutique practice for those looking for quality dental care by one of the top dentists in the nation.

WOW: So by not following the traditional (and more expensive) route you set yourself apart from everyone else. Good news for those of us relying on alternative (a.k.a. cheap) methods of publicizing our work! What have you found is the most effective way to get people to remember you?

Dr. Austin: Well, I was very strategic when I chose the name of my dental practice. It's called "VIP Smiles". If you can’t remember my name, you can certainly remember the practice name. I always carry cards and I have a very simple elevator speech prepared for when I meet people to let them know really quickly who I am, what I do, and how my services and now products (my books) can help them.

WOW: I think another example of memorable naming is WOW--who could forget that? Are you adapting any of the tools you used to get publicity for your dental practice to getting publicity for your book?

Dr. Austin: I'm definitely using the same networking techniques to get publicity for my book. But in addition to networking at events, I'm doing a lot of social networking on Facebook and Twitter. You have no idea how many radio interviews and speaking opportunities that I've booked from my network of friends on the Internet! I've also been going to book fairs across the country to network and promote the book. I've spent a lot of money over the years hiring publicity firms. I've made so many media contacts over the years by networking and have learned so many techniques by taking courses and reading that, now, my staff and I do all of our own publicity.

WOW: Writers are basically entrepreneurs. As a successful business owner, who speaks about entrepreneurship in the business community, tell us what is the most important thing a business owner can do to help their business succeed?

Dr. Austin: To be a successful business owner, you have to know how to operate your business from top to bottom. I know how to perform every position that I have. If my receptionist is out sick, I know how to operate my computer program, answer the phone to schedule, and how to collect payment. You have to know how your industry works and what industry standards/trends are. I constantly read dental journals and now, as an author, I subscribe to author and speaker's clubs where I receive info on these industries.

I recommend setting goals with timelines of when you want to achieve these goals. Write them down. If an idea doesn't work, the key is to recognize it quickly, and move on to the next idea or plan. Failures happen along the way, but it's all about how you handle them. Do you sulk in your failure or do you plan for the big comeback?!

Most importantly, hire a team of people who are as smart, or smarter than you. Your team members must embrace your vision and work just as hard at achieving your goals. When I say team, this means your intern, assistant, editor, printing company, business manager, accountant, PR or marketing firm--anybody that you hire. Hold everyone accountable for what they are hired to do. If they are not working effectively, fire them!

Finally, the most important thing a business owner must do is DELIVER! If you meet or exceed your customer's expectations with your quality service or product, you will have a customer for life who will tell their friends, family, and co-workers about you too.

WOW: You've given us a lot to think about concerning building a business and marketing it. We all have to remember that, although we enjoy the "art" side of writing, we can't forget the "business" side of our writing.

Want to join Dr. Catrise Austin 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!

December 1, 2009 Tuesday
Dr. Catrise Austin will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Dr. Austin's book!

December 3, 2009 Thursday
Dr. Catrise Austin, New York's "Dentist to the Stars" tells you how to have a Hollywood A-List Smile on your wedding day. So smile!

December 4, 2009 Friday
Need a great smile for all your holiday parties this month? Dr. Catrise Austin, author of 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile gives tips on how to get a great smile using five products you can find in your local grocery store.

December 7, 2009 Monday
Stop by for the Relentless Bride's review of Dr. Catrise Austin's book 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile and a chance to win the book for your favorite bride-to-be!

December 8, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by for some holiday shopping tips from "Dentist to the Stars" Dr. Catrise Austin. Along with a grocery list of products that can give you that A-List smile, Dr. C. gives you a chance to win her book 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile.

December 9, 2009 Wednesday
Get your smile ready for the holidays with Dr. Catrise Austin's quiz: Rate Your Smile: Is Your Smile on the A-List or D-List? And shine up those pearly whites with advice from her book 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile. You can win a copy today!

December 11, 2009 Friday
When taking care of your health don't forget the importance of your dental health. Dr. Austin gives readers five tips to keep their smiles bright, shiny and healthy!

December 14, 2009 Monday
Stop by to learn Five Tips for Great Teeth from Dr. Catrise Austin, New York City's Dentist to the Stars!

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

Get involved!

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

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

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

Be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Dr. Catrise Austin's book 5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile. And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!

Labels: , , , , , ,