in all blogs
Viewing Blog: WOW! Women on Writing Blog (The Muffin), Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 2,042
WOW! Women On Writing is an e-zine that promotes the communication between women writers, authors, editors, agents, publishers and readers.
Our blog (AKA: The Muffin) posts about women and writing, publishing industry news, and updates for our quarter
Statistics for WOW! Women on Writing Blog (The Muffin)
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 4
by Stephanie Romero
Anyone who is a parent (or knows one—which would qualify all of us), is well aware of the mommy wars that can happen. You know the ones I’m talking about…homeschooling versus traditional schooling, stay-at-home mom versus working mom, co-sleeping versus let ‘em cry it out and well, the list could go on and on.
But there’s another battle that can emerge when it comes to mothers who are writers. It is the pull between parenting and pursuing your passion. Somehow we’ve been convinced that we must choose one or the other. Or we have to wait until a “season” or “stage” in our child’s life has passed. Yet the next one could prove to be more difficult and time-consuming than the last. So we remain stuck. Or we end up feeling guilty because we’ve made what we perceive as the wrong choice.
For too long, mothers have been convinced that when they choose something else to pursue (other than parenting), they should feel guilty. As if being a mom is the only identifying factor in her life. When the truth is that we are so much more. We have passions that go beyond motherhood, so why not embrace them?
Do you ever feel guilty about writing? I have been there. When I’ve been holed up in my office downstairs for hours at a time, knowing my full attention isn’t always with my children. So I have to remind myself—this is not only my passion, it’s my job. I get paid to do this—which means someone is expecting me to produce. I’m teaching them responsibility and something about hard work.
But the same thing can happen when we want to take time to break away and work on that novel, polish up the manuscript or write a blog post. The guilt monster sits on our shoulder, needling away at us. “What kind of mom are you?!” And we’re back to believing that in pursuing our passion as a writer, we have somehow failed as a mother.
Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we do it to other women? Because we believe the lies. We have fallen into that trap, the one that tries to convince us we are not being a good mom if we are passionate about something other than our children. Of course, it’s all about balance. But that’s a different topic for another day.
The point is, I feel like women need permission to be excited about something else in life. To understand that the beauty of being a woman extends beyond motherhood. You can be a mother AND a writer. You might have to write during naptime, in the middle of the night or while they’re at school. But for heaven’s sake, don’t wait until the “right time.” Do it now. You really don’t have to choose between parenting and pursuing your passion for writing—there is a way to have both.
* * *
Stephanie Romero is a professional web content writer for "We Do Web Content." Her personal blog, "REAL Inspiration for the REAL Writer" provides weekly encouragement to writers of all genres. But her biggest passion (and what she hopes to one day turn into a book) is helping other moms (and even dads) learn how to treasure every moment with their children. Through her own candid experiences in parenting, she shares how faith has helped her navigate the ups and downs of parenting. In addition, she is the writer/instructor of "Recovery from Abuse," an online course currently being used in a correctional institution's character-based program.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
Molly Harper has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and the stranger the better.
It worked—she’s turned her quirky sense of humor and magical characters into one successful book series after another. After working as a reporter and church secretary in her native state of Kentucky, she decided to try her hand at paranormal romance, landed an agent and has been writing prolifically ever since.
Molly is the author of How To Run With a Naked Werewolf, A Witch’s Handbook of Kisses and Curses
, and The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires
as well as many other paranormal romances. She also writes the Bluegrass series of contemporary ebook romances, most recently, Rhythm and Bluegrass
. A former humor columnist and newspaper reporter, she lives in Kentucky with her husband and children. Visit her on the web at MollyHarper.com or at SingleUndeadFemale.blogspot.com.
We were thrilled when Molly agreed to chat with us about her work, where she gets the ideas for her stories, and the television show cancellation that she is still mourning to this day.Interview by Renee Roberson-----WOW:
Molly, welcome! First of all, I want to point out how much fun I had browsing through your website, and I love that you include different music playlists inspired by your different books. I like to do that too when I’m writing fiction. And the Half-Moon Vampire Name Generator was a blast—I have now been christened Morgana, Princess of Darkness. We’d love to hear about what you were doing when you first found out an agent wanted to represent you. And did you pitch that first book as a stand-alone or as a series?Molly:
I was working as a secretary for a Baptist church at the time and when my agent, Stephany, called I ran out to the church parking lot. I didn’t think the pastor would want to overhear me discussing my vampire romance novels outside of his office. I pitched Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs
as the first in a three-book series. I knew when I wrote the first title that I had much more to say about Jane. I just didn’t know it would go on for four books and even more spinoffs.WOW:
I love it. One of the things that first struck me was your impressive catalogue of books. Wow! Can you give us an idea of what your writing schedule is like? Do you have any fun "working from home" stories you can share with us?Molly:
I just started working from home in February 2012. I wake up around six, check my reader emails and try to take care of my social networking stuff. I get my kids up and ready for school, then run to the gym or jiu jitsu lessons. Then I write from 10 to noon, have lunch, and then back to writing until my kids get home around 4. If I have a deadline, I usually write during the evenings after dinner. I set a writing minimum of 2,000 words each day. I am just now getting my own office. I have written all of my books from a couch. I am really looking forward to having a desk!
I guess my one funny “writing from home” story involves my hair. I hit my rebellious phase late in life and have dyed the “underside” of my hair bright purple. I went to volunteer at my kids’ elementary school about a week after I dyed it and one of the little girls from my library group gave me the “deer in headlights” eyes.
“Miss Molly,” she gasped. “Did you know the back of your hair is purple?”
“Yes, sweetie,” I told her. “I dyed it last week.”
“Who told you that you could do that?” she asked.
“Well, I’m 35 and can pay for the hairdresser to dye it, so…”
“But won’t you get in trouble with your mom or your boss or somebody?” she asked.
“I work from home, so I don’t have a boss. And my mom isn’t really surprised by anything I do anymore.”
“Oh.” She nodded. “OK, then.”
And off she toddled, assured that my hair wouldn’t get me fired.WOW:
You eventually transitioned from vampires to werewolves. Can you tell us a little about how you got the idea for your popular Naked Werewolf series?Molly:
There was a huge ice storm in January 2009 that knocked out power to thousands of homes, including my own. I packed up food, essentials, my infant and my preschooler and moved over to my in-laws’ house, where they had a gas fireplace. We slept on a mattress in front of the fireplace for two weeks while my husband worked twelve-hour emergency shifts at the police department. I was cold, exhausted and I could feel the walls closing in on me. After the kids went to sleep, I would sit down and write about my weird, claustrophobic feelings. I knew I wanted to write a book about werewolves and I thought, why couldn’t the werewolves be from a cold environment like Alaska? And why couldn’t the main character be a Southern girl who wasn’t used to living in those conditions? By the time the lights came back on, I had more than twenty pages of notes that became How To Flirt With a Naked Werewolf
I love it when writers can turn even the most difficult of circumstances into works of fiction. I know I was stuck in an ice storm about ten years ago and did nothing but wallow in my misery! You started out your career working for a newspaper in Kentucky. Did any of the stories you covered there ever find their way into any of your books?Molly:
Not so much specific stories, but the overall weirdness of the stories I covered. I covered school bus crash derbies. I covered the escape of a fully-grown brown bear that a man kept as a pet in his basement and was on “Bear Watch” for almost two weeks. I covered the arrest of a Florida man who faked his death by shark attack, hit the road and ended up working for a pizzeria right down the street from my office. That quirky charm oozed its way into my story-telling and heavily influenced the way I write about Half-Moon Hollow, the setting of my vampire stories. I often say that Half-Moon Hollow is my hometown with all of the normal people removed.WOW:
I love the story on your bio about the first book you ever wrote at age eight. Could you please share it with our readers?Molly:
I was always fascinated with my mom’s manual typewriter from college. When I was eight, I set up a little writer’s office on my parents’ couch (foreshadowing) and pecked out a short story about my class taking a trip around the world and losing a kid in each city. One boy fell off the top of the Eiffel Tower. Another girl fell into the canals in Venice. Mom was concerned, but entertained.WOW:
I read on your website that you are a big fan of vampire movies and TV shows. What are some of your favorites?Molly:
I wrote Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs
because I was in mourning for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I also love “Angel,” “Lost Boys,” “Moonlight,” the original “Fright Night,” “From Dusk 'Til Dawn,” and the Keanu Reeves version of “Dracula.”
Don’t judge me.WOW:
Somehow I knew Buffy was going to come up in that answer . . . And as someone who is completely addicted to current CW show “The Vampire Diaries,” I also cannot judge! You’ve turned writing about the paranormal into a successful career. What advice can you give writers about writing paranormal romance?Molly:
Keep it grounded in reality. Yes, it’s great to write about fantastical creatures and magic, but your characters have to share common ground with the reader. I enjoy writing about paranormal creatures with everyday problems because there’s something weirdly funny about a vampire worrying about taxes and shopping for dental floss. I think that has allowed my readers to put themselves in my characters’ shoes and enjoy that skewed reality.WOW:
In the FAQ section of your website, you mention you speak to book clubs and schools "Advice For Writers." Can you elaborate on the section called "Don't Act Like a Lunatic?"Molly:
Almost every agent I know has a story about an aspiring writer doing something extreme, like sliding a manuscript under a bathroom stall to them or sending an absolutely insane response when their manuscript is rejected. Writing is a business. Yes, it’s a dream come true to have a book published, but it’s still a business. If an agent or publisher rejects your work, it’s not personal. It’s business. So behave in a professional manner and avoid becoming a cautionary tale that industry types tell over lunch.Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also works as a blog tour manager for WOW-Women on Writing. She’s currently looking for blogs to promote Frances Caballo’s book Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers Who Want to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write. You can contact her at email@example.com.
The Moon Sisters is about will-o-the-wisps, trainhopping, and unrealized dreams…but mostly it’s about sisterhood. So we’re celebrating the release of this novel by gathering some of our favorite bloggers to share their take on sisterhood. First up is Therese Walsh, author of The Moon Sisters, who is visiting The Muffin to tell us about sisterhood in her family.
|Sisters Forever: Aimee, Therese, and Heather|
On Sisterhoodby Therese Walsh
I have two beloved sisters, both younger, and our interactions with each other—the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful—are all reflected in the story of The Moon Sisters
. They’ve also helped to create some of the most memorable moments of my life.
I was eight when my first sister was born, and shortly thereafter—which trying to figure out the mechanics of a diaper—I stepped away from the changing table and my sister rolled over (a new trick!) and fell onto the floor. She wailed as I panicked. I lied to my mother about what had happened until guilt got the better of me, and then I fessed up and apologized.Earliest lesson:
Sisters can get you into trouble. Also:
Never step away from a changing table.
Once, when that same sister was older, she took our youngest sister’s favorite pair of pants and drove them to an embankment and threw them into a stream. Our youngest sister had been driving her crazy for one reason or another, and retaliation had seemed a good option at the time. But somehow, some way, my youngest sister knew—just knew—that our middle sister had taken the pants. Not only that, she had a feeling where those pants had ended up. She actually found them, filthy, wet, at the bottom of the ravine.Lesson:
Sisters know things. Don’t try to prevent this knowledge.
Life with sisters is made up of a million little moments when you’re all living together under the same roof. Waiting together for the ice cream truck. Trying to cheer one another up with crazy antics like dancing stuffed animals. Food experimentation. Secret-telling. Talk of love and sex and politics and health and family and life and death. Everything. Secrets are rare, and the bond can be extraordinarily strong, even when sisters are miffed with one another.
Honesty—it’s the way of sisters, even when it causes conflict.
Now that we’re all grown, we’re just as close as ever. Maybe closer. We’ll never again wonder if that missing CD is in someone else’s bedroom or what happened to that pair of pants!
Last summer I had a health scare, which thankfully turned out just fine. While one sister, in town, visited with me and soothed with face-to-face contact, my other sister, from away, communicated by phone and sent a constant stream of positive thoughts in my direction. Both strengthened me during one of the most tenuous times of my life.
Sisters can be maddening and nosy, and supportive and loving. My sisters are a vital part of my bedrock, and my life with them has helped to define me in complex and significant ways.Do you have a sister story to share? I’d love to hear it.About The Moon Sisters
In The Moon Sisters
, her second novel, Therese Walsh
wanted to write about one sister’s quest to find will-o’-the-wisp light, which was her mother’s unfulfilled dream. Also called “foolish fires,” these lights are sometimes seen over wetlands and are thought to lead those who follow them to treasure. Despite the promise, they are never captured and sometimes lead to injury or even death for adventurers who follow them. The metaphor of that fire – that some dreams and goals are impossible to reach, and that hope itself may not be innately good – eventually rooted its way into deeper meaning as the Moon sisters tried to come to terms with real-world dreams and hopes, and with each other, in their strange new world.
Olivia and Jazz Moon are polar opposites: one a dreamy synesthete, able to see sounds and smell sights and the other controlling and reality driven. What will happen when they are plunged into 24/7 togetherness and control is not an option? Will they ever be able to see the world through the other’s eyes and confront the things they fear the most? Death. Suicide. The loss of faith and hope. Will they ultimately believe that life is worth living, despite the lack of promise?
The writing of The Moon Sisters
was a five year journey and at times author Therese Walsh felt like it was her own “foolish fire.” But remember, some fires are worth the chase!
Hardcover: 336 pages (also available in e-formats)
Publisher: Crown (March 4, 2014)
Read a review of The Moon Sisters
on the Muffin here
***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****
Thanks to Therese who is giving away a print copy of The Moon Sisters
. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below to be entered in the drawing.a Rafflecopter giveawayWant more chances to win? Visit all the other bloggers talking about sisterhood today to enter. Who else is talking about sisterhood?
The blogs listed below have all decided to share their stories, essays, poems, photos, or other means of creative expression on the topic of sisterhood. We really have no idea what bloggers will come up with, but we can't wait to find out! So check out the blogs listed below and see what they're up to!Lit LadiesDeal Sharing AuntThe GaGa SisterhoodThe Unfaithful WidowCaroline ClemmonsA Ponderance of ThingsChoicesLaurie HereThoughts in ProgressMe and ReadingOne Sister’s JourneyWords by WebbMother-Daughter Book ClubVickie S. MillerOne Writer’s JourneyRenee’s PagesCassandra M’s PlaceA Book Lover’s RetreatBrooklyn Berry DesignsBibliotecaI Love to Read and Review Books!Traveling with T.
Last week, I heard an agent refer to the importance of a “thoughtful online presence” and at first, the phrase zipped right past me. Yeah, yeah, a website. Got it.
But then, I needed to check a list of author websites. And as I pulled up each name, that phrase came back to me. It was easy to see who had a thoughtful online presence—and who did not. By the time I’d finished checking a ton of websites, I’d learned a few things. But mostly, I learned that a little bit of thought can make a big difference in what people think when they see you on the web.
Like what, you say? So
glad you asked:
If you want people to think you’re a dependable writer who’s on top of things, then keep your website information updated
. That means posting regularly if you have a blog. If you just can’t get around to posting but once or twice a year, then do yourself a favor and take the blog off your website. (But if your blog is
your website, make it static with no dates.)
If you want people to think you’re a professional, skilled writer, then keep your website free of spelling and grammar errors
. It’s fine if you have a misspelling as a play on words or if your writing style is conversational in a blog post. But if you have “Welcome to This Writers’ Home’s” in your web title, in big, block letters, you might need to brush up on those pesky possessive rules.
If you want people to think you’re witty or urbane or spiritual or any number of other interesting things that you are
in real life, then put your personality/interests into your website.
With a blog, it’s easy for your voice to come through. But people don’t often stop to read a handful of blog posts. They will, however, click on that “About Me” tab, so there’s your chance to make a good impression. And if you’re not sure what kind of impression you’re making, ask for honest feedback from friends. (Or better yet, ask someone who doesn't know you well.)
Finally, choose the kind
of writer you want people to see. When a person lands on your website, will they know instantly that you’re a romance novelist? Or a children’s writer? A poet or an essayist? Have you honed in on your niche, and does your website reflect that focus?
I think this might be hard for those of us like me, who might pen fiction as well as non-fiction, or write for children as well as adults. But it doesn’t mean we can’t keep writing whatever we want; it means accentuating what we want the world to see--and think--when they first meet us.
I suppose, then, that a website should get to the heart of the writer. That's what matters in a thoughtful
online presence. So, yeah, I've got some website work to do. How about you?
~Cathy C. Hall
In a textbook called The New Literacies
, I read the following sentence:
“It is even possible to conceive of a future in which all paper-and-pencil literacies are replaced by digital literacies.”
We have seen the advent of this already…How many of you have a Kindle? (My hand is raised. I, in fact, LOVE my Kindle. And not only do I have a Kindle Paperwhite, I have the Kindle app on my Android phone and Android tablet. But I digress.)
What this sentence is saying goes beyond the shift from paperbacks to e-book readers. These authors suggest that in the future, humans will no longer write long-form essays and stories. They will create content digitally through photos, other graphics, music, and sound…maybe with the assistance of some words, but not necessarily in sentences. And not necessarily lines of verse, either. Possibly just a word here or there to accentuate the other media being used.
This prompted me to look up the definition of “to write”: “to form (as characters or symbols) on a surface with an instrument (as a pen).”
This could also be applied to typing letters on a computer, and I suppose it could also cover the process of putting other types of symbols together (other than letters) to communicate a message. In this case, using digital media to communicate a message or story could be like a form of writing. Will digital media eventually replace writing as we know it?
|"Borneo: Memory of the Caves"|
My first reaction to this is "No! We cannot and we will not lose writing!" When I pause to reflect on it, this doesn't seem like an outrageous trajectory for the writing process. Human's written communication skills have evolved from cave drawings
to what it is now because of new tools and technologies, so it makes sense that it will continue to evolve.
If that is the case, what do you suppose that means for the future of writers? Do you think in the future, instead of writing this blog post, I will communicate it to you in a series of photos and audio? Some blogs and websites already do this.
In the future, instead of writing a novel, will it be read aloud (like an audiobook) with a companion series of images or video (maybe like a really long movie)?
What might the future hold for writers given the changes in technology? I do not anticipate that in my lifetime I will see the demise of the novel as we currently know it…but what might it look like in a 100 years from now?
By Anne Greenawalt
: writer, writing instructor, and Adult Education doctoral student
The 30-day Writing Challenge
claims to help readers begin or enhance their daily writing habit. Whether you are a writer, blogger, or journaler this book is for you! Author Sara Crawford encourages and inspires writers of all skill levels by challenging us to ‘stretch our writing muscles’ and create a daily writing habit. The daily writing exercises and prompts focus on technique, inspiration and craft while covering the different genres of writing.
Crawford does an excellent job being real with readers. I fell in love with her book after reading the following paragraph:
I would like to acknowledge that in my own writing, I constantly do the things that I say
you shouldn’t do. I am far from perfect. Every writer has room to grow and improve, and I
include myself in that. However, I strive to be a better writer each and every day, and I live by
these rules, principles, and ideas in my own creative life.
I really admire someone who can be themselves and I felt encouraged instead of judged after reading this small tidbit. It made it much easier to move forward with the exercises and I felt like Crawford understood me. I missed a day here or there but feel this is the type of book I can pick up again and again. This isn’t something you do once and forget about.
In many ways The 30-day Writing Challenge
reminds me of a diet. Sure, I can lose weight quickly, but if I don’t continue with good eating habits, the weight is going to creep back on. If I want to be successful, I need to stick with it, even after the initial success. Similarly, if I use The 30 Day Writing Challenge to get on track and then set it aside instead of faithfully writing and practicing my craft, I am going to falter.
Thank you Sara Crawford for providing a fun and encouraging book to help build successful writing habits. The 30-day Writing Challenge
is a great book for anyone who enjoys writing, blogging, or journaling!
Sara Crawford has a BA in English from Kennesaw State University and an MFA in Creative Writing (emphasis in Playwriting) from the University of New Orleans. She is represented by Marie Brown Associates, and she is the author of upcoming young adult novel, The Muses.
Previous publications include her play, The Snow Globe, from YouthPlays, Driving Downtown to the Show (Lulu Press) and Coiled and Swallowed (Virgogray Press). In addition, her poetry has appeared in Burlesque Press, Cermony, Share: Art and Literary Magazine, and Illogical Muse.
Find out more about Sara by visiting her website: http://saracrawford.net/
Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, three young children (Carmen 6, Andre 5, Breccan 5 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, and over 200 Holsteins. You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
by Sioux Roslawski
In March I'm going on a writing retreat. A self-made one. Two other writing friends and I are going to cram our laptops and our bodies into my car and head to Conception, Missouri. Specifically, to Conception Abbey...the place where monks create a blissful aura over all who stay there.
No teachers. No frills. No schedule. So if that's what it doesn't have, what does this writing retreat have?
Loads of uninterrupted writing time. A lack of distractions because I don't have to sweep or mop or do dishes. I don't have to cook. I don't have to run after my dog as he hunts for poopsicles to eat in the backyard. And no internet unless I go to the abbey's library (and their hours are limited).
This is what I need now. I'm in the finishing stages of my manuscript (first draft) and am hoping to have it finished by this retreat and get some feedback prior to going...so I can then slash and burn the unnecessary parts and build up what I need to bolster while I'm in Conception.
What I want from a retreat—at least this one—probably differs from what you would desire. However, I do think writers should dig deep to discover what they need from a retreat before signing up for one.
Can you create your own?
If your constructive writer friends can dole out great critique, perhaps you can plan a DIY retreat. Rent a cheap cabin. Beg one of the attendees to give up their basement for a night. Check out the retreat centers—they'll feed you and give you a bed, and the rest is up to the group.
Before packing your bags, agree to what is going to happen. Are there going to be scheduled critique sessions? Where is everybody—are some polishing while others need some inspiration to begin something new? And what distractions/nonwriting activities are going to happen—if any?
Big or Small?
You might benefit from a large regional or national retreat, where you'll be able to network with writers and make new connections. Or, you might be better off working with your writing guild/circle of friends and paying a locally-known writer to lead a small group. Survey what everyone is looking for and where they are. Is everyone working on memoirs and they need a gifted memoir writer to help them fine-tune their voice and create an unforgettable place? Or is everyone a novelist and they would each love to have a pitch-critique session with an editor/publisher?
If time and money are at a premium, think outside the box. Your local library might have a room that they'd let you use. Many art museums have education wings. You could reserve one, and when anyone needs a break from their writing, they could wander through the galleries for more inspiration.
So—don't retreat too deep into yourself and miss out on some productive experiences. Go on a retreat...and watch what happens.
* * *
Sioux Roslawski is a St. Louis third grade teacher and a freelance writer. She's been published in
Sasee magazine, eight
Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as several
Not Your Mother's Book collections. In her spare time she's working on a novel and rescues dogs.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
From the moment you open Inside These Walls
by Rebecca Coleman, you're transported to the world of a women’s prison and introduced to Clara Mattingly who is serving a life sentence for murder. Rebecca’s writing is superb, and Clara is instantly a likeable and sympathetic character, whom you will cheer for, even though she’s also a cold-blooded killer.
Rebecca isn’t tricking the reader into liking Clara. It’s obvious that there’s more to the story than just murder—that Clara has the proverbial skeletons in her closet. After twenty-five years behind bars, she’s choosing to forget the past and stay focused on her present, which in prison means keeping her head down and staying out of trouble.
The problem is Clara’s famous, and so other inmates love to pick on her, which often results in serious injuries. Her crime, along with her boyfriend Ricky, was made into a movie. Hollywood turned their story into an almost Charles Manson type of drama, where Ricky led Clara and his other friends into a 24-hour crime spree that resulted in several murders.
Clara lives her prison life helping her blind cellmate and working on Braille textbooks, while remembering her life as an artist and her love for ballet before the night that changed her life forever. You'll keep turning pages because of the author’s set-up, trying to discover how did this bright, young, talented girl follow her boyfriend and murder people?
Rebecca reveals the true story once an unexpected visitor appears to see Clara in prison, and her heart immediately yearns for love and freedom. At the same time, a reporter writing a book about Ricky asks Clara for information, even though she has never before granted an interview. Because of the visitor, Clara decides it’s time to reveal the truth; and as the book progresses to the end, you discover the circumstances leading up to the crime.
Themes in this book include religion—Clara is Catholic and does follow her faith in prison, including going to confession and taking communion; forgiveness; self-preservation; abuse; independence and freedom; friendship; loyalty; love; truth and more.This is the perfect book club choice, as readers will debate Clara’s crimes, her confessions, her circumstances and even the ending. On Rebecca’s website (http://www.rebeccacoleman.net
), book clubs can sign up for a possible Skype or phone visit from the author. Inside These Walls
is one of those novels that will keep you up past your bedtime because you want to discover the secrets Clara has kept and what landed her in one of the worst places imaginable—prison. Here are a few words straight from Rebecca about her novel and writing career: WOW: What made you want to write about a woman in prison--and then in a high-profile case?Rebecca:
Once the story started taking shape, it became more interesting to make it a high-profile case because it would make sense why someone would want to interview Clara for a book. But as to why I wrote it in the first place--the only truthful answer is. . .because it's the story that showed up in my head! I never start out with a specific topic in mind--I want to write about an emotion, and then I find a story that gives a structure and a progressive arc to that emotion. With Inside These Walls,
it was about the feeling of being given a second chance at something very, very important and how far a person would go not to squander that chance. And what could challenge that more than being in prison?WOW: Thanks for explaining how the story took shape. It's always interesting to hear from successful authors how their brain works. How did you get your agent, Stephany Evans (in other words--meet at conference, slush pile, etc)?Rebecca:
I sent her a query letter by e-mail, but it was an unusually nervy move for me. Normally I'd go to an agency's website, look to see who the newest agents were, and query them, thinking they were still building their lists and would be more open to a new, untested writer. I'd gotten stacks and stacks of rejections. Then my first book, The Kingdom of Childhood
, became a semifinalist in Amazon's ABNA contest, and that gave me the courage to query higher up the food chain. I have to say, Stephany is the perfect agent for me. She is conscientious and tenacious and attentive. I ended up feeling glad for all the rejection because in the end it gave me the opportunity to work with Stephany.WOW: The advice we all hear is that finding the perfect agent should fit like finding the perfect spouse or mate. We're so happy that has happened for you. What's up next?Rebecca:
Thanks for asking! I'm working on a new story that features a character my readers have seen before--that's all I can say.WOW: Now, that's a teaser. I can't wait to find out about that! How do you balance writing and marketing?Rebecca:
It's a serious challenge! You have to schedule the business part, so the creative aspect doesn't eat all your time. It's easiest for me to spend the first hour of a work day dealing with Twitter and e-mail, then set myself free to write for the rest of the day. It's tough because writing asks you to lock yourself in a room with your imaginary friends, and marketing requires you to go out there and take risks with real people. A lot of writers write specifically because they don't want to do that.WOW: Very true! What's one piece of advice you would give to new writers?Rebecca:
Don't be a diva. To succeed in this business, you need to be able to take criticism, be enjoyable to work with, be flexible, and make many more friends than enemies. If you can do all that and be true to yourself as a writer, then nothing can hold you back.WOW: Thank you for that wonderful advice. Please keep WOW! readers informed on your next book. We'd love to hear about it. Readers, don't forget, you can enter to win a copy of this wonderful book, Inside These Walls, by entering the Rafflecopter form below! Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway
Anyone who has been in my office knows that I’m a list maker. Post-It Notes wreath my monitor. Reading lists cover my bulletin board. My first thought is that I do this so that I can focus on my work. Once I write something down, I don’t have to put any energy into remembering it and can just write.
But when my to-do list gets too long, it saps my energy. It always starts out reasonable enough. I have my blog posts for the week, work for the courses I am teaching or taking, and my top two projects for the month.
Then I spot a market listing for a manuscript I haven’t quite finished. Add it to my list. Then I read an article that reveals the fix I need for my novel. There’s another item added. Before I realize what’s going on there’s also a group of essays and a series pitch.
When my list is too long, my productivity lags because I focus on what I’m not getting done. That’s when it’s time to refocus my list and, through it, my work. Use these five steps when you need to do the same:
- Review larger goals. I begin with a review of my year-long goals. Maybe you have a five year plan or a list of resolutions for 2014. Whatever form your goals take, look at what you want to accomplish. Do these goals still make sense? If not, take a few moments to revise them.
- Assess your to-do list. Once you have committed yourself once again to a list of larger goals, evaluate your to-do list. What items help you meet those goals? Things that don’t may need to go away.
- Clean off your list. You don’t have to get rid of everything that won’t lead to your larger goals. For example, I keep my church blog and post on their Facebook page, neither of which helps me complete my dream book. But there important to me so they stay on the list. When numerous items don’t relate to your goals, something must go.
- Put other things on hold. You also need to look at what can be accomplished in a month. Anything that can’t, needs to be removed – for now. I jot these items on the bottom corner of my dry erase board or put them on a Post-It on the back page of my calendar. They aren’t priorities, but I won’t forget them either.
- Refocus your work area. Once I remove items from my to-do list, all related library books, files and articles need to come off my desk. I take things back to the library and refile a wide variety of material. It’s time to streamline so you can focus on your current projects.
The world is a distracting place. Help yourself focus on what you want to work on right now, and you’ll be surprised by how much you accomplish.
Find out more about author Sue Bradford Edwards and her newly refocused to-do list on her blog, One Writer's Journey.
Your author or writer online platform is all about numbers and reach. It’s about how many people are aware of you within your niche and how many of those people think you have authority within that niche.
In other words, it’s about how many connections you have. You might equate it to a popularity contest.
Unfortunately, there are millions of contestants in the online platform arena trying, as you are, to get the golden subscriber email address and get the emails they send opened.
Because of the sheer number of marketers, people are bombarded with marketing emails on a daily basis. This in turn has caused a drop in email opt-ins and a drop in marketing email open rates.
So, what can you do to fight the odds and keep moving forward to reach your goals?
There are four strategies you can use to keep you connected to people and keep you on the visibility radar.1. Connection frequency
You need to connect with your subscribers and target market on a regular basis.
This doesn’t mean adding to the email inbox bombardment, it means to be visible in multiple places. How many times a week are you connecting with your subscribers and your target market?
Are you taking advantage of the different venues you can reach people? Are you being active in groups? How about social media, such as Facebook, Linkedin, GooglePlus, Twitter, and Pinterest? Are you offering valuable information on a regular basis?
Each of these connection venues is another layer of visibility and familiarity. This frequency helps establish a relationship and helps it grow.2. Consistency
Everyone when first starting a platform is determined and motivated. You diligently keep on top of social networks, blogging, article marketing, sending out a newsletter on a regular basis, and so on. But, then, when results aren’t what was expected or don’t come quick enough, the motivation and effort slows down.
Well, being consistent is what will help you reach your goals. In fact, without being consistent you most likely will never reach your goals.
Coleman Cox says it best: "Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finishes the job he starts."
Create a plan of action steps and stick to them. Be consistent.3. Authority and Usefulness
According to pro-marketer Travis Greenlee, statistics show that published authors have a 300% higher credibility rating than non-published authors.
That’s quite a difference and gives the published author a big advantage in authority. If you’re not published yet, a quick remedy is to create an ebook and get it out there. With that said, your ebook needs to be a quality product.
But, having an ebook isn’t the cure-all. In addition to this, you need to deliver quality (useful) information to your target market on a regular basis.
The point here is that you need to be perceived as a person of value to your target market. Your actions and offerings need to demonstrate that you can help them with their problem, need, or want.
If you are perceived as having high authority (knowledge and experience) and value (capability and usefulness), people will want to be connected with you.4. Visibility
Visibility and frequency go hand-in-hand. While you need to make frequent connections, you need to know where and how to make those connections. That’s where visibility comes in.
How many different formats are you using to be visible to your connections and make new connections?
There are a number of marketing formats you can use to generate visibility, including:
• Blog posting
• Using article directories
• Creating podcasts
• Creating videos
• Creating e/books, reports, etc.
• Sending out newsletters or ezines
• Offering webinars, teleseminars, or workshops
• Staying current on social networks, such as Facebook, Linkedin, GooglePlus, and Pinterest
You get the idea. Keep it fresh. Don’t use the same formats to bring information to your subscribers, readers, and visitors.
With email marketing wavering, you need to use all four of these strategies to keep your author-writer online platform moving forward.
is a multi-award-winning author, ghostwriter, freelance writer, editor, and author-writer online platform marketing instructor. She founded and manages Writers on the Move (a marketing group), and presents online writing and marketing workshops and webinars.
Karen has published 12 writing and marketing eBooks, the most recent, Article Marketing: Increase Website Traffic with Properly Formatted and Search Engine Optimized Content.
*** Join Karen's class, CREATE AND BUILD YOUR AUTHOR-WRITER ONLINE PLATFORM: Website Creation to Beyond Book/Product Sales
, next starting on Monday, March 3, 2014.
For information and registration, visit our classroom page
Recently, I read a blog post by Andrea Chilcote
about being stranded in Atlanta during the monster snowstorm that struck the region. I live in Nebraska, so I'm accustomed to dealing with the fluffy - or slick - snowflakes and ice. I've been stranded by snowdrifts or spun into the ditch by a patch of dark ice enough times that I do not envy being put in that position.
Chilcote's theme, though, hit a chord, not just literally, but figuratively.
Daily, I carry my MacBook, reporter's notebook, calendar, billfold, an assortment of pens, pencils and highlighters, my digital camera, phone and some junk I obviously could make it through the day without to my desk in the newsroom. Most of these items are tools of the trade, necessary elements that help make my job easier.
Daily, I carry bits and pieces that linger in my mind, waiting for a story to come to fruition or a poem to take shape. Small scraps of interviews, a word or phrase that won't let go, an image framed by the viewfinder that haunts me: these are the things that I, as a writer, carry. These are elements that leave an editorial remark in my mind, that cannot be shared in a straight, fact-based news story, because these are my views of a particular moment.
As writers, we take our unique view and spin stories to entertain, inform, persuade. We carry those stories deep inside until it is ready to be unleashed from brain and transferred to paper.
It's a natural process, as natural as a single snowflake fluttering to the ground. I happen to prefer the blizzard.By LuAnn Schindler
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->
|Creating a fictional character.|
Should it be based on you?
Photo credit | EKHumphrey
I was thinking about the advice to write what you know. More often than not, I have taken that advice as: don’t write about Akron, Ohio, if you’ve never been there. For me that’s a done deal (and one of the reasons I would never make a good science fiction writer)
As I delved into my work-in-progress novel, I started wondered how this might extend to my characters’ development. Am I taking it too far if I include my own personal details for my characters'?
For example, I have a lifelong serious food allergy and I eat gluten-free foods. I started thinking about adding one or both of those elements to my protagonist’s life. For the most part, when I start writing fiction I’m not thinking about my characters’ next meals. But the idea of adding one or two of these elements feels like a natural fit.
Here are some of the reasons I’m considering it:
- Write authentically about the experience. I don’t spend time writing fiction about living without certain foods, but it is an integral part of who I am so it is something that I definitely know.
- Highlight one facet of the character. This wouldn’t be the character’s only unique quality, but it would help bring depth to the character. For those who don’t have food limitations, the knowledge I can impart might be a teachable moment. Isn’t it cool when you are reading fiction but actually learn about something real?
- Pull inspiration from reality. I’ve heard many comments through the years and devised many witty retorts (sadly too long after the fact). For some of the dialogue, this would allow me to rely on some of what I’ve experienced.
- Avoid research mistakes. My character can prepare a gourmet gluten-free meal without me thinking twice. If she decides to take up deep-sea diving, I’m out of my element and would spend time carefully researching. But may still miss the mark.
I’m leaning toward my character having those interests. Any reasons why I shouldn’t consider layering personal lifestyle elements when developing my character? What have you done in similar situations?
Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor living in North Carolina. Currently she’s engrossed in reading mysteries from the early 1940s … when she should be writing!
When a small town writer finds there’s no writers’ group for camaraderie and critique of her writing-in-progress, it’s time for a DIY writers’ group project.
It’s not as difficult as you may think, so shush those inner doubts. Assure yourself you have the ability to do it. Put on your Superwoman persona and go for it!
Here’s how you do it:
Find a room where you can hold an informational meeting—perhaps at the public library, a coffee shop, your church, or a classroom.
Choose a day and time you think is convenient for other writers to meet.
Write a press release announcing a meeting to form a writers’ group. Include the date, time, and place, plus your contact information, in case people have questions. E-mail the press release to all print and online newspapers in your town. Ask them to publish it in community announcements as well as list it in their calendar. If your group is a Christian writers’ group like mine, send the press release to churches in your area also.
Arrive early for the meeting so you can greet people. Come prepared to chair the meeting with a simple agenda. This is helpful whether there are four people or two dozen.
Here are some points for your agenda.
1. Purpose: Discuss the purpose of the group. Decide if it is mainly for encouragement, critique, or learning writing skills. Or perhaps it will be a combination of these.
2. Officers: Will you have formal officers or will members take turns filling roles for the meetings? If informal, plan for a monthly facilitator to chair the meeting and to send out publicity ten days before the meeting. If you have a learning segment, plan for a monthly lesson presenter.
3. Dues: As a group, decide whether you will have on-going expenses that require dues or membership fees. Some groups do. Other groups handle needs that arise by a free-will offering.
4. Food: Will you serve refreshments or not? Will individuals bring their own if they wish?
5. Regular meetings: Select a regular meeting time that works for all. (Ex. third Tuesday 6:30-8:30 p.m. or second Saturday 1:00-3:00 p.m.)
6. Meeting format: What elements will you include in meetings? Will manuscripts for review be provided ahead of time (perhaps by e-mail) or will they be handed out at the meeting? How many pages will be allowed for review—perhaps three pages per member?
Our Christian writers’ group uses this format:
10-15 minutes to share successes, struggles, announcements, etc.
10 minutes for devotions
15-20 minutes for a skill-builder lesson on the craft of writing
Remainder of time—Feedback Forum to review writing-in-progress.
Even small towns usually have enough people interested in writing to build your own writers’ group.
So, what are you waiting for? Go do it!
* * *
Carolyn Boyette Lewis is a wife, mother, grandmother, and retired teacher whose love of writing bloomed in high school and continues today. She lives in a small town in southwestern New Mexico where she recently started a group for writers. Having started two groups for writers, she can confirm that most writers can accomplish this task. Currently, she is focusing on editing a book of poems she has written over the years. Connect with Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org; https://www.facebook.com/carolyn.b.lewis.5; and Sclew's Views.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
So you’re almost finished with your book. Perhaps you’re leaning back in your chair, thinking, “Whew. The hard’s part nearly done!”
Unless you’re planning on self-publishing, you’ll need to convince someone—either an agent or an editor—that your book is amazing
. For that feat, you’re going to need a pitch, and a query, and probably a synopsis, too. And those thousands of words you wrote for your book will seem like child’s play compared to the beastly task ahead of you.
Why is it so hard to write a pitch or a query or a synopsis? One reason may be that we’re a bit confused. What makes a pitch different from a query? A query from a synopsis? You can research—and it’s as easy as asking, “How to write a query letter (or pitch or synopsis)?” But you can start with my quick, down and dirty tips for whipping these beasts into shape.The Pitch
When I’m figuring out my pitch, first I figure out the essence of my story. Somebody wants something. A pitch is usually around 30 words, so you need to zip to your want, and then cut to the twist, the part of the story that makes it different.
If I were pitching Beauty and the Beast
, I might write:
Beauty is prepared to sacrifice her life to save her father from a terrifying beast. (The initial want.
) But this Beast doesn’t want Beauty’s life—he wants her love. (The twist to the story.
The query has several parts, but for now, we’re concentrating on the bit about your plot to understand the difference with a pitch.
With the query, you get a couple sentences to explain your story. (Whee!) But you do not get to tell the ending!
The point of your query is to generate interest, to rattle an agent’s brain so much that he or she must read the rest of your story.
So you write the set-up, follow with the conflict, and include stakes and the twist. That’s usually about three to five sentences, and that’s really all you need to reel ‘em in.
A query for Beauty and the Beast
Belle’s father has plucked a rose from the Beast’s castle and now he must pay with his life. But Belle, who asked for the rose, insists on taking his place. (The set-up)
The Beast surprises Belle with kindness, instead asking for her hand in marriage. Belle refuses, for she does not love him. (The conflict
) But the Beast has a terrible secret, a secret that will take his
life—and only Belle can save him. (The stakes, and the twist to the story.
Oh, joy! With the synopsis, we at last get lots and lots of words to tell our story, from beginning to end. But often, writers struggle with the synopsis as well.
If the synopsis is challenging for you, try this technique: take each chapter and sum it up in one sentence. When you’re done, go back and edit. Take out anything that doesn’t move the story along, and perhaps add transitions to make it all sparkly.
Whew! Now you’re ready to tame your own pitch, query and synopsis. All you have to do is finish the darn book.
~Cathy C. Hall
An old friend of WOW, Therese Walsh, is releasing her second novel The Moon Sisters next month and you’re all invited to join the party. The Moon Sisters revolves around the complicated (aren’t they always?) relationship of two sisters. To celebrate the release we’re reviewing the book today and organizing "Everybody’s Talking about Sisterhood," a group blogging event, next month. Therese Walsh will be visiting The Muffin with a post about sisterhood on Tuesday, March 4. We’d also like to invite everyone out there to post their own thoughts, photos, poems, letters and poems about sisterhood.
If you’d like to participate, contact Jodi at Jodi@wow-womenonwriting.com to sign up by Friday, February 28. We’ll add your blog and link to the March 4 post on The Muffin and enter you and your followers in contests to win a copy of The Moon Sisters. Don’t miss a chance to share all the touching, drive-you-crazy, silly and unforgettable things you know about being a sister, whether it be a family sister or a friendship sister.
The Moon Sisters: A Novel
336 pages (also available in e-formats)Publisher:
Crown (March 4, 2014)
After their mother's probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz take steps to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia—who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights—is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother's unfinished novel to lay her spirit properly to rest.
Already resentful of Olivia’s foolish quest and her family’s insistence upon her involvement, Jazz is further aggravated when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper who warns he shouldn’t be trusted. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, until they are finally forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.Review:
As a fan of Therese Walsh’s first novel The Last Will of Moira Leahy
, I’ve been eagerly awaiting Therese’s next novel. The Moon Sisters
did not disappoint. For the first 100 pages or so I enjoyed the tale of two sisters unlike anyone I have ever met. They both seem to attract odd people and odd situations like flowers attract bees. Olivia revels in the weirdness of her life while Jazz fights it, trying to force her life—and everyone in it—to be “normal.”
But somewhere around page 100 things began jumping off the page at me. The tattoed man, the suicidal writer, the old train hopper, the woman who can taste words (it’s a long story that begins with the word synesthesia)…they all reminded me of people in my life. Despite all their quirkiness these were characters that felt so familiar because, when you strip away the oddness, they were all experiencing universal emotions we all know. I never thought I would be writing that a story that involves people fiddling on rooftops, fatal arson and a father who disowns his only child is, in one way or another, about every reader's life. The Moon Sisters
is a novel that will surprise you, not once, not twice, but continually and keep you thinking about the characters and their choices long after you have read the last page.Where to Find Therese:http://www.theresewalsh.com/https://www.facebook.com/ThereseWalsh.author
@ThereseWalshDon’t forget to sign up for Everybody’s Talking about Sisterhood by contacting Jodi at Jodi@wow-womenonwriting.com by Friday, February 28
. We’ll send you information about The Moon Sisters
and Therese Walsh as well as some images and fun links and quizzes you can share with your readers.
Join the conversation!Jodi Webb is still toiling away at her writing in between a full-time job, a full-time family and work as a blog tour manager for WOW-Women on Writing. Right now she's looking for blogs to promote Theresa Walsh's novel The Moon Sisters and Sue William Silverman's memoir The Pat Boone Fan Club. You can contact her at email@example.com. For Jodi's take on reading and writing (no 'rithmetic please!) stop by her blog Words by Webb.
I am so pleased to have Kay Butzin with us today, who placed in our Summer 2013 Fall Flash Fiction contest for her short but gripping story, Bank Job. Interestingly, Kay entered this story in WOW's Spring 2010 contest, and the critique she had received then inspired her 2013 winning revision! So, if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, click on the story title then come back here to join my chat with Kay. She has some great advice to share.
On Sunday evenings, after the weekend visitors return to Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, Kay Butzin takes a walk on the Rockport, Texas beach and celebrates getting to live where other people come to play. Retired from a career in human resources administration, she has served as secretary, treasurer, and president—twice—of the Rockport Writers Group.
She likes to enter flash fiction and nonfiction contests because the deadlines force her to stop revising and call her stories finished. In 2010, Kay’s “Following Orders” won first prize in a 100 Words or Fewer contest, and “The Alphabet Store” earned her an Honorable Mention in the WOW! Winter 2012 Contest. Several of her short essays have appeared online in Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative, and earlier this year she wrote a guest blog for Create Write Now titled “Morning Pages: Keeping My Word.”
In addition, Kay writes interviews and articles for her biannual alumni newsletter; and her family and friends look forward each year to the original essays and poems she sends instead of Christmas cards.
She is proud and honored to have “Bank Job” judged worthy of a Top 10 slot in the WOW! Summer 2013 Flash Fiction Contest.
WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Kay. We’re so happy to have you with us. Please share a little bit about yourself with our readers.
KAY: I am a native Michigander living since 1995 in my adopted state of Texas, in a Gulf Coast community that attracts fishermen, birders, and artists.
I have a handsome son, Scott, and lovely daughter-in-law, Anna, who enjoy organic gardening during their too-short Illinois summers. Scott recently celebrated fifteen years as an engineer with Caterpillar, Inc.
With a business degree from Michigan State, I worked in various administrative positions in both heath care and banking. I quit my last employer’s desk in 2000 and retired to my own to explore creative writing. WOW: How wonderful that you can put more focus on your writing now. It’s certainly paying off. You seem to really enjoy writing short stories and flash fiction. Do you prefer such writing over other genres? Can you give us some insight into perfecting quality short story/flash fiction writing?
KAY: I’ve started a couple novels and a memoir or two, and they’re all packed away in various states of incompletion. I’m an obsessive reviser, which makes it difficult to get past the first few chapters of a book-length project.
My short attention span better suits me for the flash genre, both fiction and nonfiction. I love the process of discovering a precise noun or verb to replace a 3-word phrase, and working within a word limit helps me to stop tinkering and call a story or essay finished. WOW: I can totally relate to being an obsessive reviser. It’s great that you found your writing niche. Your story, Bank Job, was one of my favorites. What I loved about it is that not only did you say a tremendous amount using very few words, it was also one of our shortest entries for the summer session. It truly blew me away. Please share with us how this story came to be.
KAY: To submit a winning 250-word story to a WOW contest has been a goal of mine for some time. When I found Bank Job in an old writing practice notebook, I knew I could make it fit within that limit.
I wrote the sloppy first draft of this story as a 20-minute POV exercise at a Rockport Writers Group meeting back in 2010. Having once worked as a teller myself, Kathy’s perspective was a natural choice. My subconscious happily offered up the surprise ending.WOW: Often the stories that pop up like that turn out to be some of your best work! And you certainly proved that. Do you have a daily writing regimen? How do you get ready to bring those stories out?
KAY: An average of five days a week I write Morning Pages, a habit I picked up from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. It’s a good warm up for “real” writing. Even when I’m in a slump, working on nothing in particular, I’ll tell myself, “At least write your Pages!”
I have a great writing partner and writers group, whose muster my stories must pass before I submit them. I read and reread submission guidelines so my work won’t be disqualified for not following them. Once I tell myself a piece is ready to go, I leave it overnight and check for errors one last time with fresh eyes before I push Send. And I aim to submit no less than one week before the official deadline.WOW: There are some great pointers in there for our readers. I hope they take note of them. Before I let you go, I would love for you to share any writing pearls of wisdom you might have for our readers.
KAY: I borrow inspiration from quotes. Here’s one on writer’s block by Neil Simon, which I’ve turned into an affirmation:
It’s not true that you can’t think of a single thing. You can think of hundreds of things—you just don’t like any of them. And what you like, you don’t trust.
Another is the maxim, Writing is rewriting. I write first drafts by hand; and I used to waste a lot of paper, crumpling pages in disgust, before I learned to sift through my scribbles for the nuggets.WOW: Great pearls, Kay. Thank you so much for joining us here today and sharing some of your insight. Good luck with your future writing endeavours! We hope to see more of your work very soon.
Secrets, large and small, are a fact of human life. Jane Isay's book Secrets and Lies: Surviving the Truths That Change Our Lives explores the impact of keeping secrets and the power of truth. Secrets can damage our sense of self and our relationships. Even so, Isay has found, people survive learning the most disturbing facts that have been hidden from them. And secret keepers are relieved when they finally reveal themselves—even the things they are ashamed of—to the people they care about. Much depends, Isay writes, on the way of telling and the way of hearing.
Isay was both a secret finder and a secret keeper. After fifteen years of marriage her husband admitted he was gay, but together they decided to keep it a secret for the sake of their two sons. Building on her personal experience, sixty intimate interviews, and extensive research into the psychology of secrets, Isay shows how the pain of secrets can be lightened by full disclosure, genuine apology, and time. Sometimes the truth sunders relationships, but often it saves them.
Powered by detailed stories and Isay's compassionate analysis, Secrets and Lies reveals how universal secrets are in families. The big ones—affairs, homosexuality, parentage, suicide, abuse, hidden siblings—can be ruinous at first, but the effects need not last forever, and Isay shows us what makes the difference. With specific guidelines for those who keep secrets and those who find them out, Isay's book reveals the art of surviving a secret.
About the Author:
|Photo courtesy of Sara Karl|
Jane Isay is the author of two previous books, Walking on Eggshells
about parents and their adult children, and Mom Still Likes You Best
, about adult siblings. She lives in New York City.
Visit Jane's website at www.janeisay.com
, and connect with her on twitter @janeisay, and Facebook: www.facebook.com/jane.isay
.Book Review of Secrets and Lies: Surviving the Truths That Change Our LivesReview by Renee Roberson
“As human beings, we live the stories we tell ourselves. This internal narrative makes up the core of our identity. Every day, and in every circumstance, we tell and retell our story. As we encounter new information, the story adjusts just a little bit. It is altered as we move through life.” –Jane Isay, Secrets and Lies: Surviving the Truths That Change Our Lives
It was the story of how and why Jane Isay remained for decades in a marriage that was a façade that first hooked me into reading Secrets and Lies
, but it was the numerous other stories also laid out in the book that kept me turning the pages. Just about everyone you know has a secret, whether in their own life or woven into the fabric of their family. It is such a universal topic that Psychology Today
recently featured the topic of identity-warping secrets and lies on the cover of their January issue and ran an excerpt from Isay’s book.
The author interviewed more than sixty people who lived either with their own secrets or the secrets of their family members, a style that appealed to my inquisitive nature as a journalist. In Secrets and Lies
, Isay seeks to explore the hopelessness we feel when we learn of a secret (Finders) and why we sometimes continue to cover up such secrets and work hard to keep them from being discovered (Keepers).
The book is divided into two parts. The first part, titled “The Book of Revelations,” tells the stories of adoptions, secret siblings, and infidelity in marriages and staying in unhappy marriages for the sake of children. The second part “The Book of Resolutions,” explores how keeping such secrets can affect a person’s entire life and offers suggestions to acceptance and ultimately, the chance for recovery.
Isay grew up with a psychologist for a mother and lived for decades with a husband who worked as a psychoanalyst, so she takes an analytic yet thoughtful approach while writing about the repercussions keeping, telling and recovering from secrets. Even though this is a work of nonfiction, Isay does a great job of telling the stories in a manner that keeps the reader interested and intrigued. Because of this, I think readers of both memoir and fiction would enjoy this book.
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (January 2014)
Hashtag: #SecretsAndLiesSecrets and Lies
is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book format at Amazon
, Barnes & Noble
, and IndieBound
.Interview with Jane Isay
-----Interview by Renee RobersonWOW: We are so happy to have you here with us today, Jane! Secrets and Lies is a such fascinating read and I can't wait to find out more about where you get your ideas. You have now published three books--Walking on Eggshells, Mom Still Likes You the Best and now Secrets and Lies--and all focus on family dynamics. Can you tell us a little about how you became inspired to tackle the topics found in each of these books?Jane:
Like most authors who write about families and their problems, I chose the subjects of these three books as a way of understanding issues that plagued me in my own life. Walking on Eggshells
emerged when my sons were in their late 20s. They were making good lives for themselves, but I felt that I had moved to the periphery of their lives. And furthermore, they didn’t return my phone calls. I wanted to map out the relationships between parents and their adult children. As I did, discovered the love that our grown kids have for us, and how much they don’t want our advice!Mom Still Likes You Best
explored some of the questions that marked my complicated relationship with my older brother. I wanted to find out what makes some siblings feel like they are best friends, what drives some siblings apart, and how brothers and sisters can find each other as adults. By the way, my brother and I are very close now.Secrets and Lies
started with my need to understand what makes people keep secrets, how the revelations shake reality, and what it takes to continue a relationship ruptured by a revelation. The reality of my first marriage was the spur for this book.WOW: You started your career in publishing by working at Yale University Press and also worked as a book editor in New York City all throughout your career. How do you think your experience as an editor helped shaped your own personal writing process and style?Jane:
When you start writing a book you have to put the editor’s head to sleep at first. Otherwise, criticism blocks creativity. But then, when something is on paper, you can reactivate the editor’s brain and evaluate the ideas and the clarity of expression. I write in one room and edit in another, and that helps me keep the two activities separate.
When I am an editor, I am smart and quick. I can evaluate writing--even my own--and see where improvements are needed. When I am a writer, I have to put up with feeling dumb, as I search for understanding, struggle with hard subjects, and reach dead ends. I find it more pleasant to edit my own work, but more satisfying to wrestle with the hard issues I write about.WOW: I love the idea of writing in one room and editing in another! I'll have to put that practice to use in my own work and see how it goes. I'll be honest--when I first heard about Secrets and Lies, I thought it was strictly a memoir. Instead, it contains numerous stories, which are the result of interviews that you conducted with dozens of people. What made you decide to layer in all these different stories and approximately how many hours do you think you spent on the research and interviewing portion of this book?Jane:
I started the book with interviews. I was fortunate to find dozens of volunteers who agreed to share their experiences with secrets. It was only after I finished the research and the first draft that I was persuaded to tell my story in full to begin the book. I came to believe that my own struggle would give the reader confidence in my understanding of the issues people face when they encounter the world of secrets.
I spent two years doing the research for this book. It goes slowly and sporadically, but the time when I’m not actually doing the interviews is the time when the ideas and experiences I have heard about marinate in my mind and heart.WOW: That's impressive. The two years you spent researching and interviewing for the book really paid off in the end, with the variety of stories you were able to capture and share. In Secrets and Lies you discuss the idea of the "Secret Finder" and the "Secret Keeper." Can you tell us a little more about these two ideologies?Jane:
The Finder, the person who learns the truth, faces the task of rethinking the past and reimagining the future. We live by telling ourselves the stories of our past and thinking up scenarios for the future. These stories come to a full stop when a secret is revealed. Imagine yourself in the driver’s seat when someone comes with a baseball bat and batters the windshield. Your world is shattered, and in addition to the misery of learning the facts, you have to deal with the web of lies you have been told by someone you love.
The Keeper, the person who has been hiding a shameful fact, is not such a happy person, either. The Keeper has to be on guard all the time, worrying that if an incriminating fact slips out, there will be trouble. The Keeper learns to dance around the truth, and that is no fun. The longer you keep a secret, the harder it is to come clean, because then you have to explain away the years of lies.WOW: You personally lived as a Secret Keeper for many, many years. How would you describe the impact keeping that secret ultimately had on your and your children?Jane:
First I was a Finder, when my husband of 15 years confessed that he was homosexual. My life plan disappeared before my eyes. The decision we made to keep the secret from our sons and the world was painful for us both. I found myself increasingly sad and lonely because I couldn't share the most important fact of my life, and my husband suffered terribly from denying his true identity. We survived those nine years, and when we told our sons, they were shocked and unhappy, but over time they accepted the facts.
They grew up to be admirable husbands, fathers, and professionals. They were loving sons to their father, and they are marvelous to me. WOW: What are some of your favorite fiction and non-fiction books that tackle the topics of family secrets?Jane:
I have been a dedicated reader of quality mysteries all my life, and this genre kept me alive in the hard years. Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys
is a great novel about how a secret infects a family, and Frank Pittman’s Private Lies
is my favorite work of nonfiction on the subject.
You might want to visit my website, janeisay.com
for other works that have influenced my thinking.WOW: Thanks again for such a great interview, Jane. To find a copy of Secrets and Lies, visit Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound or visit your local bookstore. To connect with Jane online, visit her website at www.janeisay.com or follow her on Twitter at @janeisay.
***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****
Courtesy of Doubleday/Random House, we have ten copies
of Secrets and Lies: Surviving the Truths That Change Our Lives
to give away. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below to be entered in the drawing.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Even though she’s hard at work on the third book in her Davis Way Crime Capers mystery series, Double Strike, and promoting her second book Double Dip author Gretchen Archer found a few moments to give us some advice about writing a series. When she isn’t writing, Gretchen is a Tennessee housewife who lives on Lookout Mountain with her husband, son and a Yorkie named Bentley.
Series: A Davis Way Crime Caper
Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Henery Press; 1 edition (January 28, 2014
It’s Davis Way’s first slot-tournament season. And it may be her last.
Things are dicey at work. A personal assistant goes missing, a little old lady goes on a suspicious winning streak, and a Bellissimo executive goes gaga for Davis. She follows a disappearing slot-tournament player trail to the So Help Me God Pentecostal Church in Beehive, Alabama, then jumps headlong into a high stakes holy scandal.
She’s on a losing streak at home, too. Her days, nights, and dinners run together, as Davis juggles a revolving door of uninvited guests, namely her rotten ex-ex-husband, Eddie Crawford. And Bradley Cole thinks three’s a crowd.
The worst? Davis doesn’t feel so hot. Maybe it’s the banana pudding, or maybe it’s a little bundle of something else.
Where to Find Gretchen:
-----by Jodi Webb
WOW: You've just released Double Dip, the second book in your Davis Way Crime Caper series, and are planning on a third book by the end of the year. Is it safe to say that this was conceived as a series or did you decide to turn it into one after the success of your first book Double Whammy?Gretchen:
The Davis Way Crime Capers were always meant to be a series. I’d turned in book two (Double Dip) before book one (Double Whammy) was released, then dove straight into three (Double Strike).WOW: If a writer is planning (and hoping) that their book will eventually become a series, what do you think is one of the most important things to do when writing that first book to make expansion to a series a success?Gretchen:
Give your character somewhere to go. I started with Davis stepping off the bus—moving from a small town to the big city, an unfamiliar work environment, in a new relationship. I gave myself room for Davis to grow in every area of her life—personal, professional, private. WOW: It's rare to read a mystery book these days that isn't part of a series. What is it about mystery books that makes them a natural for a series?Gretchen:
As story arcs go, fiction generally follows a path: we meet the characters (Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy), there’s rising action (they hate each other), there’s a climax (actually, he loves her), there’s waning action (she loves him too, and we knew she did), then a conclusion (happily ever after). Mysteries lend themselves to series because elements two, three, and four change every time, where Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy can only meet and fall in love once. In a series the core characters become our friends, and we keep reading to see what happens to our friend next. WOW: We all love revisiting characters as they jump into more adventures. But most of us will never be involved in one murder, not to mention dozens like some series characters. Do you plan to mix up Davis Way's adventures so she isn't always stumbling over dead bodies? Perhaps kidnapping or maybe an Ocean’s 11 heist of the casino's winnings?Gretchen:
Ah, the suspension of disbelief. Read on for all my secrets—right here, right now. I always want Davis to do more than stumble over dead bodies. My series will always feature a casino heist, with a dead body thrown in for flavor. In addition, Davis has been in jail and poisoned, so I write her diving headlong into the thick of it, not just a lucky or brilliant problem solver. Actually, Davis is neither lucky nor brilliant. A theme I’d like to tackle is a Bellissimo Casino Ocean’s 11-style heist during a hurricane. I’m in the middle of writing a kidnapping at this very minute, but you’ll have to read DOUBLE STRIKE to find out who and why. WOW: As the writer of a series how will you keep it fresh, so readers never feel like they're reading the same book?Gretchen:
I hope Davis’s personal life and the ever-changing gambling world will keep readers coming back. WOW: The main character in your Davis Way Crime Caper series is on the security team of a casino. So tell, was this a case of "write what you know"? Are you a gambler who knows all the ins and out of casinos? If not, what made you choose a casino as your series' "hook" and tell us about the research you did to get all the details correct.Gretchen:
I’ll attempt the short answer. Start the music if I go too long.
I’d never set foot in a casino until my husband took me to one for my fortieth birthday. I spent my birthday entertaining four teenagers and a baby in a stroller while he played blackjack. Happy 40th. To keep me from jumping off the roof, my husband handed me $200. He said, “Go to the casino. Have fun.” I won $8,000. By the end of the trip, I’d won $40,000. All on slot machines. Beginner’s luck? I don’t know. The crowd, their devotion, their tirelessness, their recklessness (with money), amazed me.
I did a little research. Every single American lives within a three-hour drive of a land-based casino. Total consumer spending at commercial casinos in 2012 was $37.34 billion. (American Gaming Association.) That’s a huge market to write to. Huge.
I’m no industry insider by any stretch of the imagination, which is why I needed Davis to be a novice gambler at the start of the series. We’ve learned together. I read a lot, go to casinos at least three or four times a year, and I have a great wingman, Deke Castleman, who lives and writes in Vegas, and who’s always available for questions like, “When do they empty the money out of the slot machines?” and “Where is the vault and who has access to it?” It helps that the Bellissimo Resort and Casino is fictional, allowing me to take terrible casino liberties.WOW: On The Muffin we've often debated being a "pantser" writer vs a "planner" writer. How possible is it as a mystery writer to be a "pantser" and just follow wherever your characters lead? Doesn't there have to be some sort of plan? Do you start a book knowing exactly how it's going to go, who will be the criminal, who will be the red herring, the clues or can you just let it unfold?Gretchen:
I start with two well-planned elements: what will happen in Davis’s personal life and the casino scam to be featured. I guess that makes me a “planster”. I have a plan, but the plan could fit on a dinner napkin. I know writers who talk about their characters surprising them at every turn, and when I’ve written “pantser”, without fail, I’ve junked it. I know writers whose pre-manuscript notes run in the tens of thousands of words, but that isn’t me either. I suppose I’m on the fence, such a very uncomfortable position. As the Davis Way series grows, more and more I’m asked to provide thumbnails for future work, and I’ve been forced to be more efficient with my time, so more and more, I’m a “planner” writer. WOW: How did you get started writing? What made you settle on mystery writing as your genre?Gretchen:
I still have my Nancy Drew collection from childhood. I’ve always loved mysteries, and mystery series specifically. Oddly enough, though, I wrote four stand-alone commercial fiction manuscripts before I started the Davis Way series. It wasn’t until I realized I might be writing what I knew, but not what I loved, that I was finally published.Note to Gretchen's followers:
Seems Gretchen's fans are eager to follow WOW on Facebook. You can find our Facebook page here
Thanks to Gretchen, one luck reader will win a copy of the first two books in the Davis Way Crime Caper series: Double Whammy
and Double Dip
. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below to be entered in the drawing.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck! Jodi Webb is still toiling away at her writing in between a full-time job, a full-time family and work as a blog tour manager for WOW-Women on Writing. Right now she's looking for blogs to promote Theresa Walsh's novel The Moon Sisters and Sue William Silverman's memoir The Pat Boone Fan Club. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For Jodi's take on reading and writing (no 'rithmetic please!) stop by her blog Words by Webb.
My mailbox has been filled with flyers and pamphlets for summer writing workshops!
Now is the time to consider which workshop you’d like to attend.
|photo courtesy of anankkml|
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of summer writing workshops available, both in person and online. But spots are limited at most summer conferences and workshops, so you'll want to apply as early as possible. The small class sizes allow workshop leaders to give each writer a lot of individual attention.
But the sooner you apply, the better your chances of getting in, and the better your chances of receiving a scholarship. Scholarships are awarded on the merit of your writing, on demonstrated financial need, or a combination of the two. In any case, writing workshops and conferences usually have early deadlines for these.
Check out New Pages’ website
: it has the most comprehensive list of workshops and conferences I've seen. They’re organized by the state in which the conference is held.
I am encouraging ALL writers of any level to consider attending a writing workshop or conference. I have attended several, and although the format and purpose of each workshop/conference was very different, I learned so much about my writing, about the business of writing, and I networked with other writers, many of whom I’m still in touch with. But most importantly for me, I left each workshop rejuvenated, confident, and excited to be a writer.
|my personal cabin at the Highlights Foundation workshop|
Here is the short list of workshops/conferences I have attended within the past few years. I can vouch for the quality of these, and I am very happy to answer any questions you may have about them.
And this year I plan to apply for the Kenyon Review Novel Workshop
Which summer writing conferences have you attended? Any you’d recommend?
P.S. Remember that there are plenty of online workshops/classes available (like WOW’s workshops
!). Written by Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor.
My writing partner is my opposite. But I wouldn't trade her in for the world.
I didn't know I needed a writing partner when I first started writing professionally full time. I thought I needed to go it alone, learn from my own mistakes, and push myself hard. But after my first failed attempt at NaNoWriMo, and a big stack of rejections grew, I decided to try a new approach. I requested a writing mentor for my second NaNoWriMo attempt and my writing has never been better.
My writing partner takes her time before sending queries, I am the one who hits send immediately. She has changed my impulsive querying in a good way. She helps me read through the query before I send and find that last typo I've overlooked.
My writing partner doesn't believe anything. She is a doubter, but I am a believer. She makes me ask deeper questions as to why someone would want to read this article, what the real interest point is, who the real target audience is. pushes me to think queries through before sending.
My writing partner doesn't mind cutting out big sections during the editing process. I cling to my darlings. "Don't worry, you'll make more words," she says ruthlessly. So I edit and revise and in the end I'm happier with the result.
We meet once a week and report our successes and failures to each other. We bounce headline ideas and story arcs off each other. We share writing by others that we love and writing that we hate. We are becoming better writers because we support each other, but also because we don't write or think the same way. But there is one thing that we do share: a growing pile of acceptances.
* * *
Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan is a writing mom on the run. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and three boys. Elizabeth is a professional writer and works with businesses and non-profits and has published three books available at her site http://www.onesweetwriter.com/store/. She volunteers with her local PTO, major road races, and advocates for gun safety. Elizabeth is a lifelong runner and amateur triathlete, a mediocre cook and devout coffee lover and blogs about trying it all at TryItandYouMay.com.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
I’m pretty sure every business and marketing class I’ve ever taken had a little something to say about the importance of relationship building. Relationships have changed through the years, much in the same way brick and mortar businesses have. As businesses embrace social media for marketing, it is important to also embrace a new type of relationship building – Virtual Relationship Building.
Most of the people I work with (authors doing blog tours, business owners promoting products and services, local businesses advertising on social media, etc…) are people I’ve never met. I use three key elements to help make our relationship as meaningful as it would be if we were neighbors.
Put a Face with the Name. This may sound unusual, but I need to know what you look like and I want you to know what I look like. I have pictures of myself and my family on my website and I’ve taken special care to choose the right pictures. My photos tell you a little bit about me as a mother, wife, and business woman. There are pictures on my desk in my office. They are not pictures of my family and friends, they are pictures of the ladies and gentlemen I am working with. I was taught that eye contact is very important and I like to look at you when I type something … hopefully this technique makes my emails more meaningful to you as well. (When I’m typing a blog post or something to a group, I picture a conference room filled with the people from my audience).
Provide Extra Value.
We all enjoy receiving more than we expect (ie: the package that offers 20% more, the Christmas Bonus at work, etc…). I like to provide this in a virtual relationship as well. Since I can’t exactly take each of you out for coffee, I have to be more creative. If you ask me to read and review your book, I’m likely going to do just that and then…I’m going to tell my friends about it, run a giveaway on my blog and buy a copy for a follower, or post the review on multiple sites instead of just the one you requested. I don’t do this expecting to receive anything in return, it’s just plain good businesses and it’s how I would want to be treated.Make Time.
If a friend calls, you wouldn’t hit ‘ignore’ on your smart phone unless you were doing something super important, would you? I’d even interrupt a mani/pedi for a friend…but might let it go to voicemail if I were at the Dr. Office. Similarly, just because an email comes through ‘after hours’ or late at night, I wouldn’t let it wait until morning. You want to let people know they are important. I could tell you you’re important, but the best way to let you know is to SHOW you. I show people they are important by answering emails promptly, being available for questions, and by setting and adhering to deadlines. Of course, I’m not perfect and things happen…and communication is key. If I can’t get it done when promised, I’ll let you know what happened and set a new goal.
Of course last but not least is communication and since that is key in every relationship (virtual or otherwise) I won’t go into it. However, I’d like to hear from you. What do you do to make your virtual relationships as extraordinary as possible? Tell us what you like and dislike about virtual relationships you’ve had in the past – comments are awesome – thanks!
Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, three young children (Carmen 6, Andre 5, Breccan 5 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, and over 200 Holsteins. You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
I must confess, I have always been a list-maker. I make to-do lists. I make pro-con lists when trying to reach a decision. I make lists for goals, both long-term and short-term. I make numerous lists for trips: what to do, what to pack, what information to leave with the sitter, etc.
I learned early in my editing career the value of lists. Style sheets have long been a staple in copy editing (although the term now applies more frequently to web design and desktop publishing), but I also made other kinds of lists. I wrote out lists of trends I was seeing in various authors’ works. I identified frequently occurring errors, and made notes to myself about how best to address them. I also jotted down things that I should always look for, creating an “editing checklist” that I still use today. Most of it is committed to memory, but having it down on (virtual) paper helps me to avoid overlooking something simple.
But one area where I never thought about making lists was in my writing. Writing had always been more of an organic experience for me, so the idea of creating lists felt too rigid and forced, I suppose. I was list-making out the wazoo everywhere else in my life. But in my writing, it completely escaped my notice.
When I finally thought to apply list-making to my writing, more specifically to editing my own writing, I realized how much I’d been missing by not doing it sooner. I created lists for issues specific to a particular work (character lists, timelines of events, plot points, etc.), but I also started creating lists for more general issues. I’d applied my editor’s list-making skills to editing and critiquing clients’ writing, but not to my own.
It worked wonders. I was able to detect trends and habits in my own writing that had escaped my notice. I discovered that I was over-using certain filler words across the board and my penchant for adverbs often became even more pronounced during particularly intense scenes. I realized that just as lists had made me a stronger editor, they were slowly, but surely, making me a stronger writer too.
Not only did these lists help me to figure out what to look for when editing my own work, but they also started to bleed into my “writer’s” brain. I started to catch myself using filler words during the drafting stage and cutting it off at the pass. I started becoming more aware of my weaker writing tendencies, and I was able to develop better ones to replace them.
In the end, while I realize that list-making isn’t for everyone, I know that it’s helped me to become a better and more self-aware writer.
So, if I were to make a list of advice for fellow writers and self-editors, at the top of that list would definitely be to start making more lists.
***Denise Long holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English from the University of Illinois. She has been teaching college-level English courses since 2006, including literature courses and writing courses, ranging from English Composition to Professional and Technical Writing. She has been editing, in some capacity, since 1998, and she has edited many works of fiction and non-fiction and numerous academic articles, dissertations, and theses. Her scholarly work in American literature has been presented and published regionally in the Midwest, and her short fiction has been published in a handful of print and online publications.Join her brand new class, Tips and Tools for Self-Editing. For information and enrollment, click here. Sign up now to reserve your spot!
Deadly deeds dance in this winner’s mind! Meet Virginia Winters, author of the Dangerous Journeys series and Summer 2013 contest runner up. Please take a moment to enjoy her tale of twisted love, Sunrise
, and then come back to learn more about this delightful writer.
Virginia Winters is a writer living in Lindsay, Ontario. Now retired, she practiced Pediatrics for thirty-four years. She lives with her husband, retired internist, George, their standard poodle, Charlie and cat, Fred.
In 1998 she began writing her first novel, Murderous Roots
, which was published in 2008 by Cambridge Books of Cambridge, Maryland. She is very grateful to Arline Chase for taking a chance on her.
Along the way, she wrote some short stories that found success first in local writing contests and later in other venues, such as Sentinel Literary Quarterly in London, England.
Her second novel, The Facepainter Murders
, was published in 2010 and her third, No Motive for Murder
, in 2012, both by Cambridge Books. Together, they comprise her Dangerous Journeys series with genealogist (and retired pediatrician) Anne McPhail. Other Anne adventures are posted on her Wattpad site.
Virginia loves to travel and the locales, such as Bermuda, show up as settings in her novels. Other interests are genealogy, gardening, photography and learning Italian (for those vacations).
Currently, she has one just finished in first draft and has just begun a fourth novel in her Dangerous Journeys series, called, at the moment The Spanish Connection.
She is excited to have placed in the top 10 in the WOW! Flash Fiction Contest, and grateful for the opportunity to talk about her work.http://www.virginiawinters.cahttp://www.wattpad.com/mystories http://ginny200.com http://www.amazon.com/Virginia-Winters/e/B003TKTM2U http://www.sentinelpoetry.org.uk/shop/slq/ WOW: Hi Virginia, welcome to The Muffin!Well, you got me! While visiting your websites I got side tracked reading Murderous Roots. I’m ready for the next book in the series now!Virginia:
Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy book 2, The Facepainter Murders
. I'm working on book 4, which takes Anne to Spain.WOW: Three published books and one in the works…Many people think that contests are only for novices. Tell us why you enter contests when you are already a published novelist?Virginia:
In most instances, contests aren't for novices at all, unless a particular contest is for unpublished authors. The ones I enter, such as yours, have a high standard and I enjoy the competition. Sometimes a contest will give feedback, useful in the revision process for a story that hasn't won or placed.
I was first published when I won a contest sponsored by a small press in North Bay, Ontario. I can't imagine being more thrilled than I was the day the email came. It encouraged me to write on as does every contest I win.
I have entered your contest in the past but this is the first time I have placed in the top ten. I was excited to place, not for the monetary prize but for the opportunity to be interviewed and to have my work appear on your site. Thank you very much for designing the contest, and your site, to offer so much value to women authors.WOW: You’re welcome! We love helping other writers reach their goals; thank you for allowing us to be part of your journey.Writing Sunrise must have been quite a bit different than working on your novels. What challenges you, or what do you enjoy, about flash fiction?Virginia:
The challenge in flash fiction is create a world in a few precise words and develop the story and the characters within: a polar opposite to the novel. I enjoy the clarity of a flash fiction piece both reading one and writing one. I write a flash piece in a burst of creativity, often finishing the first draft in a few minutes. Then comes the revision, searching for the correct word or image, but the bones exist from the first few moments. All much freer than the novel-writing process.WOW: We often talk about pacing and keeping our reader’s attention; what advice can you offer for keeping tension alive in a murder mystery?Virginia:
Always leave a scene or a chapter with a question for the reader. What is going to happen to the protagonist? If I'm using a third person point-of-view, I shift to another character in a different location, leaving the reader to worry for a short while about the outcome. Never be kind to the reader or the character. Both have to be uncomfortable at the end of a chapter, encouraging the reader to turn the page. Recently a reader called me to say the latest Dangerous Journey novel, No Motive for Murder
, had kept her up most of the night. That's what I want to accomplish.WOW: Good advice!For many of us, finishing that first manuscript is an exercise in personal growth; what did you learn about yourself while writing your first novel?Virginia:
One day I picked up a novel by a writer I had enjoyed, only to be so disappointed I thought I could do just as well. But I couldn't of course. I wrote the first book in long-hand, in one of those cloth-covered journals people gave young women in the eighties, with no thought to proper formatting of the dialogue or knowledge of the overall structure of a novel. I gave the manuscript to a friend who taught at a local community college. He said the book was unreadable. So the first lesson was humility. It is no easy thing to write a book.
The second lesson was persistence. I rewrote and revised and then a journalist of my acquaintance, after reading it, told me I needed to learn to compose on the computer. He also had some kind words about the book itself.
The third lesson was that rejection hurts and the committed writer should use it to make the writing better.
It came down to this: I was a writer, but I had more to learn.WOW: And you kept at it! Ten years plugging away on your first novel; how did you keep your interest in that first story alive?Virginia:
I'm stubborn and goal-oriented and don't like to fail. It was a slow process. I didn't know how to write although I had a story I wanted to tell. Studying the craft and using what I learned to revise the book helped keep my interest high. I also wrote some short stories about Anne that I posted on Wattpad (http://www.wattpad.com/home
). Giving Anne a life beyond the book helped keep my interest high.WOW: I’m glad you stayed with it; I’ve enjoyed reading your stories. Thank you for visiting with us today and for sharing your writerly insights. We hope to see more flash fiction entries from you in our future contests.
|WINTER! (Lone Elk County Park, MO)*|
I recently had a mid-writer crisis. (Kind of like a mid-life crisis). I was invited to speak at an event with some rather well-known and popular St. Louis children's authors at the beautiful public library in downtown St. Louis in the dead of winter. The night we were supposed to speak and sign books to our adoring fans, the schools were closed and the temps were under 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, there were more authors than audience members, but for me, that turned out to be a positive thing.
We changed the format and sat around in a circle, discussing our careers, our current projects, our brand, our agents--wait, wait, no agent for me, no current book under contract--I don't have a brand either. And as I sat there listening and discussing, a question kept plaguing me: Margo, what are you doing? What are you doing? WHAT ARE YOU DOING????
I took stock of how I spend the very limited time that I have to work each day (since I must also sleep and raise my family), and I soon realized (before I even got my mittens on and my scarf around my neck that night) that I needed to reassess my goals, how I spend my work time, and what I wanted from my career. On the drive home from the library, I did just that. It turns out that when writers who live in your same city and are at events with you,fulfilling their career goals, and you are not--it's very motivating. (Okay, a little depressing at first, but soon enough, motivation kicks in.)
So, now I have to make some changes. I have to write some difficult e-mails to quit some jobs and turn down some opportunities that just don't fit with what I want--which is to be a full-time children's author, writing instructor, and editor--with an emphasis on the author part. I want an agent. I want books under contract. I want readers to impatiently wait for another one of my books to come out.
I have to re-do my blog and website. I have to find new ways to engage readers and promote myself while also sharing the wonderful work of fellow authors that I love.
It's a few weeks after that career-changing night, and I still have that passion to get my career going stirring in my belly. I have typed up my goals, shared them with my writing group, and posted them on the refrigerator. I have made notes in my calendar about when each one has to be finished.
I'm excited about what's ahead, and I know with a refocus and new purpose, my career is going to go places. But it's still hard to look back and miss some of those activities/jobs that no longer fit with what I want out of my writing career.How about you? Have you ever had to make decisions like these? Share with us! *Photo above by Joe Kopp; find out more at Joe Kopp Art: http://www.joekoppart.com Margo Dill is excited to announce her second novel, a young adult light paranormal,Caught Between Two Curses, will be out in March 2014 from Rocking Horse Publishing. She teaches writing classes for WOW! in children's and YA novels and short fiction, and novel writing in general for all ages of readers. To find out more, go to http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html
View Next 25 Posts
I know you’ve read it before – today, editors and agents want character driven stories. With that in mind, we spend hours and hours creating inviting, engaging, three dimensional characters.
With all that time spent together in mind, is it any wonder than that we tend to fall a little bit in love? Once that happens we tend to go easy on our characters instead of tormenting them which is what we have to do to make things interesting.
Fortunately, Elizabeth Wein is willing to torment her characters with great abandon in Code Name Verity
. WARNING: FROM THIS POINT ON, THIS POST IS ONE ENORMOUS SPOILER.
At the center of Wein’s story are two girls – Maddie and Julie. Maddie is a British pilot whose grandfather is a shopkeeper. Julie is an upper class, a wireless operator, educated in Switzerland. Without the war, they wouldn’t have met and become best friends, but it also the war that tears them apart.
The setting, war ravaged Britain, is enough to make their lives difficult, but it isn’t enough for Wein. She takes what the girls most dread and uses it against them. to make their lives worse.
Early in their friendship, they discuss their fear of having to kill someone. Although neither of is a soldier, the roles they play aid soldiers in getting to battle.
Now you have a war time setting and two characters working with the military who openly fear taking a human life. Things have gotten worse for these two characters, but, for Wein, not bad enough.
During an air raid, the girls run past an antiaircraft gun. The soldiers manning it lay dead or dying. To defend the field, the girls must shoot men out of the sky.
Wein set this up masterfully. She could have had them afraid of spiders or storms, but she picked something she could work deeply into the story. At this point, you shouldn’t be surprised that Wein makes things even worse.
When the girls’ plane crash lands in occupied France, Julie is captured and tortured. Maggie works with the French Underground to rescue Julie and other captives slated for use in medical experiments. Not only does the rescue fail, but Julie demands the only rescue in sight. She calls out for Maddie to shoot her.
Maddie can let her friend be tortured or she can pull the trigger. How is that for taking things from bad to worse?
Take a look at your own story. What does your character fear? Do you use these things to make her life unbearable? If you don’t, you may be missing the opportunity to write a story with stakes that pull the reader in and refuse to let go.
Author Sue Bradford Edwards has been writing from home since her son was a new born. Yes, that means when he was a toddler, too. She blogs at One Writer's Journey