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1. Friday Speak Out!: Write Like a Pro, Guest Post by Sioux Roslawski

“I’m a writer.” When I tell people this, I automatically know what is going on inside some of their heads.

I pad around in my jammies, free as a bird, with occasional bursts of brilliance as I nibble on chocolate and mainline coffee. The words? The words just flow out effortlessly. At least that’s what some folks think.

They also assume my mailbox is full of checks and my email box is full of acceptances. In their brain, I’s sure they imagine me skipping down the driveway every day (in my PJs, remember?), cradling a stack of envelopes from publishers and agents, and they’re all full of contracts.

First off, I should explain that writing is not my full-time job. During the day I teach third graders, and as much as I’d like to be able to say to my students, ”Guys, I’ve got my critique night tonight, and I’ve got nothin’ to share with them. Would you all mind working on something independently while I work at my computer?” I can’t. Teaching is my mission; writing is my love. Writing is crammed in during the evenings and sometimes during the weekends; it only gets a portion of my waking hours.

And coffee is too bitter of a drink, in my opinion. But if you were offering up a bottle of Bolthouse Farms Vanilla Chai Tea, I’d start tapping away at my laptop with a frenzy.

We’re making scads of money, you say? Anyone who writes knows that only a few of us are getting rich. We often get more rejection than praise, yet we continue to plug away. We become excited if we get into an anthology and get $10. I could make more money—per hour-- running the hot dog machine at Costco than I do at writing.

Furthermore, those who are not obsessed with a well-turned phrase can’t even fathom why writers contribute to markets that pay absolutely and positively nothing. Sometimes we have a publisher who was responsible for our first acceptance. Out of loyalty and gratitude, we will send them a story or an essay when they have a new anthology they’re developing. They supported us, and now we’re just returning the favor.

Sometimes, we just want the opportunity to have our writing out there. The joy is not in the money or the possible fame. No, the joy is in the process. It’s exhilarating to be able to see a piece of writing evolve from a steaming pile of poop into something that is capable of moving others. We don’t always need a monetary reward for the job we do. (However, it is delightful when it does happen.)

So when you say, “I’m a writer,” to someone, be prepared to share a bit of your “reality” with them. Or, let them hold onto their delusions.

‘Cause sometimes, fantasies are nice to entertain, if only for a moment…

* * *

Sioux Roslawski has been published in three (so far) Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as several Not Your Mother's Book collections. A third grade teacher with the Ferguson-Florissant School District, she is also one of the five founding members of the famed WWWP writing critique group. Her musings can be found at http://siouxspage.blogspot.com.
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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!
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8 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Write Like a Pro, Guest Post by Sioux Roslawski, last added: 4/10/2013
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2. Friday Speak Out!: Always Recycle, Guest Post by Judith Newton

The best piece of writing advice I ever got came from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It had to do with accepting the idea of “shitty first drafts.” The second best piece of advice came from a professor whose teaching assistant I had been in English graduate school in the 1960s. He had struck me, when we first met, as incredibly brash, an effect that he was deliberately seeking to achieve. He’d barge into the classroom, send the blinds crashing up or down, and lie on the desk with a cigar between his teeth. “I’m Smith,” he’d say to a wide-eyed class. He went on to become a rock star of literary criticism, publishing countless books, writing regularly for the New York Times, becoming an internationally famous intellectual. He even appeared as a character in a well known novel.

His advice? “Always recycle.”

“First,” he said, “I write a talk. Then I give it in several times. I turn the talk into an essay and publish it. Maybe it becomes part of an anthology edited by someone else. Then I use it as a chapter of a book or include it in a collection of my essays.” I remember him chewing on a cigar when he told me this. But I may be making up the cigar.

I feel comfortable with Lamott’s advice. I am perfectly capable of producing “a shitty first draft” and of feeling, as she does, that I’d just as soon not die while it is lying on my desk, lest someone read it and assume my death was suicide. But following the guidance of my brash professor was another matter. Who me? I thought. I’m allergic to cigars. But, in the end, I tried his system. As an academic I wrote talks, wrote them into essays that I published, saw them anthologized, and gathered them into a book. I did not become an academic rock star or take up smoking, but the method served me well. I published, and at each stage became a better writer.

When I retired and began taking classes in creative writing, I fell into the system out of habit. I wrote pieces for my writing classes. I turned the pieces into blogs. I posted them on a collective site. Then I posted them on my own. Eventually, I did guest posts with the same materials. After four years, several posts have been anthologized and most of them are chapters in my memoir. Others are beginning to look a lot like a collection of essays on food and place. Good job, I told myself, thinking this would be the end, but then I hired a publicist who told me “No.” Now I had to link my book to larger issues. So, in preparation for the memoir’s launch, I began to write some essays that made those links. One is to be published but, even better, I have begun to see more clearly what the book is all about, and I have a new set of ideas to explore. So recycling? I’m a fan and I’m passing on my famous professor’s advice to you. Because once you’re past the stage of “shitty first draft,” it’s not just about recycling. It’s about revisioning and writing better as well.

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Judith Newton is Professor Emerita in Women and Gender Studies at U.C. Davis. Her latest release is Tasting Home: Coming of Age in the Kitchen, a culinary memoir.
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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!

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9 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Always Recycle, Guest Post by Judith Newton, last added: 4/9/2013
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3. Friday Speak Out!: My Shampoo Muse, Guest Post by Terry Cobb

I’ve heard writers speak of a muse who whispers inspiration in their ears and opens the floodgates of creativity allowing beautiful prose to flow onto their tablets as they write at their desks. Not me. My muse lives in a shampoo bottle and she waits until my hair is fully lathered before she pops out and lands in my soap dish. She may be a genie, but she’s no Barbara Eden. Think Roseanne Barr wrapped in a ratty towel and her head adorned with a terry cloth turban. Smacking bubble gum, she dispenses writing advice in addition to soap.

She says things like, “Hey, sis, chapter five is a real snoozer. You need to juice it up with some action, like a fight in the pub, or kill off that wallflower, Mary. She’s not adding anything anyway. And while you’re at it, kill off those adverbs. Geez.”

So it goes until the water turns chilly and my skin becomes pruney. But when I shut off the shower, she flies back into the bottle and takes her advice with her. No matter how fast I towel off, I can’t get to a notepad or keyboard fast enough to capture all of her ideas. Did she say I needed a fight in a pub…or was it a tub?

When the monthly water bill arrives, my husband shakes his head. He’s heard the shampoo genie/muse explanation before. He sighs and asks how close I am to finishing my novel. I smile and shrug. I don’t have the heart to tell him my muse thinks it should be a series.

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Terry Cobb resides with her husband on a farm in north central Missouri, where she writes, gardens, and photographs whatever catches her eye. You can visit with her on her blog, www.whatsinyourgarden.wordpress.com .
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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!
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9 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: My Shampoo Muse, Guest Post by Terry Cobb, last added: 3/17/2013
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4. Friday Speak Out!: Why Cooking is Like Writing, Only Better!, Guest Post by Karen Guccione-Englert

With my recent down time, I’ve been doing some thinking since I am not doing too much else. I’m thinking writing is a lot like cooking. Now for those of you who know me well, this may seem like a strange comparison considering that I dislike cooking and am rather fond of writing. Allow me to explain.

My husband and I have a blended family of six. Our mixture of his and hers children creates a unique schedule for many meal times. Some nights it’s just the two of us and other nights, we are feeding six. Over the years, meal time caused a certain level of angst for me. Trying to make sure I created meals that were healthy, that pleased everyone, and that were within budget were a challenge. I have never enjoyed cooking but trying to tackle this task made it more daunting. I fretted over meal planning, shopping, preparation, all of it.

As time as passed, I have started to worry less about covering all these bases. I began to focus on creating meals that were a little more fun and different and thought less about trying to please the masses.

And this is why I think cooking is like writing. So often, we are encouraged to write in a genre or style that we are not passionate about or simply have no interest in. As writers, we are sometimes pushed to try a new category because it is what’s “new” and “popular” but when it comes down to it, we may not care a bit about it.

I love writing children’s stories and short stories. I am also working on my memoir about my battle with heart disease. My focus is narrow and I am okay with that. I could try to write paranormal or horror but I promise, it would not worth anyone’s time. I think it is better to stick with what makes you happy. In my case, I write because I enjoy it rather than it being my job. Since I have that luxury, I can be picky. And as for the cooking, I fortunately married a fantastic chef!

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Karen Guccione-Englert fell in love with words at an early age and now shares her love of reading with students at Orchard Farm Elementary. Outside of the classroom, she primarily writes children’s stories and short stories. Karen enjoys entering a variety of writing competitions to practice and refine her craft. In addition, she is an active member of Go Red for Women with the St. Louis chapter of the American Heart Association. Karen resides in St. Peters, Missouri with her husband, four children, and loveable pug.

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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!
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5 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Why Cooking is Like Writing, Only Better!, Guest Post by Karen Guccione-Englert, last added: 3/9/2013
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5. Friday Speak Out!: The Accidental Author, guest post by Brandi Schmidt

I never thought I would be an author. I hear lavish tails from other authors about where they began their literary journey, like at age four writing plays and short stories. That was not me. I wasn’t a great student in high school, scraping by to get that diploma. I took a few years off after graduation, found myself, and gained perspective. I did return to college and actually worked my tail off to get the hardest degree I could find. I majored in biomedical engineering science at Washington University in St. Louis. After college graduation, I took a nice position with a local pharmaceutical company and continue to work there full time. I was the ”slacker” turned ”nerd” and loved it.

One day I took my son to see Twilight—he loved vampires and I was an avid Buffy fan. Wait, don’t stop reading! We all have strong feelings about the Twilight saga, and I am not debating them in this post. Seeing that movie changed my life, I know what you are thinking…really? But yes, it did.

  I bought the book that night. That was the first time in my life I actually read for pleasure. I had read thousands of books, mainly text books and medical journals, but Twilight was different. I devoured the entire series in a week. Stayed up all night to read, was a zombie at work, ignored my husband. Like a junkie, I was hooked.

I finished the series, and I can’t believe I am going to admit this, but I actually hugged the books. I was so moved by words on a page. I thought, I want to do that. Not marry a vampire and have a half vamp/half human child, but write a book that moves people.

The big question was what would I write about? Did I have a story in me to tell? Two weeks went by. One day driving home, I was given the story. I knew the characters, the story arcs, and all the funny drama that would ensue. Maybe I was given THE KINDLING by accident? Maybe God meant to give it to the car in front of me and miscalculated his idea trajectory. But I got it, and I am forever grateful.

I believe we all have great ideas, and it’s the action or non-action that can change our destiny. I took action that day. I went home and wrote the first three chapters of THE KINDLING. By the way – they were terrible, like I said I wasn’t a writer.

Fast forward four years—yes, four years! I studied, learned, went to conferences, followed agent blogs, met other aspiring authors, got my own blog, and it was hard. I queried way too soon (that’s another funny story!). I made many mistakes along the way, but I learned from them and never gave up. And now my first novel, a paranormal romance titled THE KINDLING is releasing in March 2013 published by MuseItUp Publishing. I hope you find the time to read my accident; it’s a good one.
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Brandi Schmidt lives outside St. Louis with her husband, three beautiful children, and one loveable Golden Retriever. She is in love with love and admittedly cries at anything sappy. You can follow her at www.BrandiSchmidt.com or Facebook at www.facebook/authorbrandischmidt. Her twitter handle is @BrandiSchmidt . You can purchase THE KINDLING at www.museituppublishing.com or any other ebook suppliers.
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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!
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12 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: The Accidental Author, guest post by Brandi Schmidt, last added: 2/25/2013
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6. Friday Speak Out!: So, You Call Yourself a Writer?, Guest Post by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo

So, you call yourself a writer? Good. If you don’t, who else will? A writer is someone who writes, period. No one is stopping you.

When my son started preschool, I claimed those hours for myself. I only had two and a half hours, twice a week, but I wrote a book that year. Never during those hours did I wash dishes, fold laundry, check email, or go grocery shopping. I was able to accomplish what I did because that was the year I decided to call myself a writer and do something about it.

The more you reinforce your identity as a writer to yourself and to those around you, the more you will begin to feel like a writer, and the more you’ll write. The more you write, the closer you are to getting published. Once you feel more like a writer, you’ll begin to reach out to other writers, and you’ll learn about events in the writing community. You’ll subscribe to writing blogs; you’ll make contacts that inspire you. You’ll read more. All these are important steps toward reaching your goals.

The more you call yourself a writer, the less self-conscious you will feel saying it. The less guilt you will feel carving out time to write. The more your husband and children will begin to see you as a writer, and respect you for it.

Writers write, and attend conferences, and take workshops. So, what’s stopping you? Are you a writer, or what? Go ahead. Say it.

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  Elizabeth Maria Naranjo is a writer in Tempe, Arizona. Her work has appeared in Literary Mama, SLAB Literary Magazine, Hospital Drive, Phoenix New Times, and the Arizona Republic, and is forthcoming in Babble and WOW! Women on Writing. For links to Elizabeth’s fiction and creative nonfiction, check out her website at http://www.elizabethmarianaranjo.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!
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3 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: So, You Call Yourself a Writer?, Guest Post by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo, last added: 2/17/2013
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7. Friday Speak Out!: Defying Stereotypes, Guest Post by Beth Cato

When people find out I'm a writer, sometimes they ask straight out: "What do you write?" Other times, I get a response that makes me fight the urge to snarl and froth at the mouth.

"Oh, you write children's books?"

It's not that I have anything against children's books. I love them to pieces and have hundreds on shelves throughout my house. As I grew up, Stan and Jan Berenstain, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and C. W. Anderson were demi-gods of literature. The thing that drives me bonkers is the assumption that because, 1) I'm a woman, and 2) I'm a mother, therefore I must write children's books.

There were several years there, when I first started writing, and I was afraid to tell anyone. If asked about my job, I said I was a stay-at-home mom. I always felt like a liar when I said that, though, because I wasn't happy with that role alone. Now, I'm honest.

I love being a mom, I love my kid, but I'm also more than that.

I may be home all day, but my brain is not confined to these walls. I'm on Wikipedia, looking up poisons and how to resuscitate people who fall into icy ponds. My mind travels to steampunk fantasy worlds, flits across the universe faster-than-light, and reads paranormal western novels before bed. I'm googling how to set up trip wire bombs and make meth labs, and probably flagged on more than one FBI watch list. I write dark stories about grandmothers who morph into cockroaches, or light tales about toilet gnomes who use magic to keep plumbing in good order; I also write feel-good Chicken Soup stories about beloved cats, or raising my autistic son.

I'm complicated, and proud of it.

When people assume I write for children, I politely correct them. "Oh, no. I write science fiction and fantasy, mostly, but I've also had stories in a number of Chicken Soup anthologies."

I get a lot of funny looks when I mention I write fantasy and science fiction. It confuses them. That's okay. I confuse myself sometimes.

Even if they shift awkwardly and change the subject after that, I know I have broken their concept of me, and broken the assumption they established for all writers who are also mothers. And most importantly, I've been honest with them and with myself.

Maybe, just maybe, I will write children's books someday, but I won't be confined by any genre or age group. I'm a mother and a writer, and my imagination is too big for any cage.


 
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Beth Cato is an active member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, with stories in Flash Fiction Online, Daily Science Fiction, Stupefying Stories, and many other publications. She's originally from Hanford, California, but now resides in Buckeye, Arizona, with her husband and son. Despite how often her husband's co-workers beg, she will not quit writing to bake cookies all day long. Information regarding current projects can always be found at http://www.bethcato.com. Sometimes those projects do include cookies.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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!
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13 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Defying Stereotypes, Guest Post by Beth Cato, last added: 2/11/2013
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8. Friday Speak Out!: Use Your Journal to Clear the Clutter, Guest Post by Karen Turk

New year, new notebook, two dollars at Walmart.  Don’t use a leather-bound gold-edged fabric-lined notebook; that’s too intimidating for everyday.   That one is more appropriate if you want to write about your time working as a lady’s maid to a European princess.

You know how you want to clear out the clutter in your crawlspace/home office/closet?  You may want to clear the clutter from your mind first.
A journal is useful for more than pouring out thoughts and feelings of what has already occurred.  I use mine to organize my thoughts when they get cluttered and overflowing like that box of cloth grocery bags in the trunk of my car.
I make columns to sort out my life right now – for example, Relationship, Home, Writing – (relationship: stop nagging, he will quit when he’s ready), (home: sort through old  photos and scan and save) (writing:  write every day and submit something once a week) and write down a few sentences about what I want to accomplish.  Don’t write too much or you will end up having to declutter your organizing.  If you want to write more about these areas, start a new page and make it a journal entry.
Then I start a page for The Future.  Plans, dreams, hopes.  And if I know how to make them happen, I do a timeline.  For example, how to improve myself (see that Frida Kahlo art exhibit), physically (start running again as soon as the weather doesn’t make my nose run), take Mum to the new library branch and out for lunch...
Then there is Other.  The catch-all column with usually mundane things that hang over your head.  With tidbits like “Turn the bed upside down and vacuum the underside”.  Maybe that column should be called “Things I’ll never do”.  Only you can fill that column.
And the ultimate in peace of mind, the “If I Die” page.  (Not “When I die” because I don’t plan to anytime soon).   If I die unexpectedly and tragically before my time like a Victorian heroine, there is a page of handy info for my husband or kids to look at telling them how to get started sorting my things, including financial information.  Sad, I know, because I have written letters to them too......but the peace of mind is worth it.  This one page is separate from my journals and is, what we call in the library biz, a “Where To Look”.  That page should be hidden or locked up somewhere only your family knows about.
Now that New Notebook is broken in, you should feel a little clarity, a little lighter, a little calmer.  You can now fill the rest of the pages with journal entries.   Hopefully some of them will detail the experiences you had as a result of your column-making and how much better you felt.
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Karen Turk has two adult sons. She is a Library Technician living with her husband and dog in Southern Ontario.
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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! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

5 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Use Your Journal to Clear the Clutter, Guest Post by Karen Turk, last added: 2/7/2013
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9. Friday Speak Out!: Labor of Literacy, guest post by Peggy Eserkaln

Yesterday I tripped over my guilt, chewed an oversized bite, hung onto to that one remaining thread and acted as though I have life balanced. I’m subjected to these emotional olympics because I’m due to give birth to a book. Presently, it has been gestating for twenty-two months. Total gestation period is unknown.

Lately, I’ve begun to notice the signs of labor. Several times I’ve experienced Braxton Hicks, but alas each time the end result has been a prescription for rest and a rewrite. Fulfilling that prescription is tricky. Book is not an only child; I’m already raising Kid, Career and Personal Health ( P.H. for short), thus the daily acrobatics.

  I don’t have a birth plan yet. Book might be born using a literary agent or in a publishing house. I’m leaving my options open for right now. I know I need one soon; my chapters are dilated and my denouement has dropped. Soon I expect there will be a bloody show... and what a show it might be. Am I ready? Is anyone ever really ready?

Just like so many others, I don’t really care whether I have a chapter book or middle grade novel. I just want a published finished product. I want for it what every writer wants for a book; a long shelf life, genre acceptance and readership. It would be dishonest for me to deny my hope for a second edition and maybe even some royalty monies... it’s not such a bad thing to wish to be taken care of in my later years, is it?

There will be a birth announcement. Watch for it.

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Peggy Eserkaln is an award winning teacher with a unique background in education and improvisational theatre. She founded Educational Improvisation, Inc; a company that melds a love of learning and laughter. She's been writing her whole life, but is just now gutsy enough to admit it.

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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!
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5 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Labor of Literacy, guest post by Peggy Eserkaln, last added: 1/27/2013
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10. Friday Speak Out!: A Legacy For The Victims, Guest Post By Jeanine DeHoney

After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School my heart grieved along with the nation at such an unconceivable and horrendous occurrence. I tried to focus on the commonplace things that ordered my day; cooking, checking my e-mails, working on multiple stories, but my mind kept going back to the horror that unfolded for the world to see. I wished, prayed that the day could be rewound and maybe something; like a boiler breaking, had closed the school. But it hadn’t. And then on the news I heard about a teacher who kept her children calm in the midst of such chaos by reading to them. So I reached in my file cabinet, swallowed back my tears and pulled out a children’s manuscript.

I had worked with precocious preschoolers for over twenty-five years. They were delightful; sometimes quite a handful but I loved them all. They loved for me to read them stories; “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss, “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak,” “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr., “Amazing Grace,” by Mary Hoffman. So as a writer to heal the pain in my heart I pulled out a children’s manuscript that I had long put aside and began to revise it and then e-mailed it to a publisher.

It was funny. About a family of mice. I imagined a child reading it and rolling around in laughter until their belly ached, a child bright-eyed, and full of wonder like the ones that were lost. I imagined they loooooved books as all kindergarteners and first graders do. I imagined that the night before, after they put on their pajamas and were tucked into bed, a parent sat beside them to read their favorite bedtime story. And maybe this time, something they will always have to scent their memory, when their child asked to hear it one more time, they agreed, and nestled even closer for a second helping of storytime not knowing it would be their last. And I imagined that their teacher probably had assembled a ginormous reading list of only the best children’s books for them and it was the most anticipated part of their day when they were read to because she used gestures and her voice became animated and even the most squirmiest child would sit still when being entertained like that. As those happy images eased some of my grief, I made a pack with myself to write more children’s stories. Hopefully they will get published. Hopefully they will cushion a child’s heart, and be a time of tender bonding for parents and children, and be on a teacher’s reading list of must reads for inspiration.

Once upon a time I felt my literary calling was to other women because of the solidarity we shared. Now I have a newborn commitment to writing for children. I want to create a paper trail of stories that will make our most precious commodities hearts dance with unabashed giggles in a world that can be full of cruel human beings and catastrophes and sorrow. No, I won’t abandon my adult peers. But I will sleep better knowing that I am as dedicated to crafting a great story for young children just as the teachers, principal and other staff members who lost their lives were dedicated to giving the youngest victims of this tragedy educational wings to soar. For me that is the best way to honor each of their lives as a writer.

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Jeanine DeHoney is a former assistant and Family Services coordinator at a daycare center. As a freelance writer she has had her writing published in several magazines, and online blogs including Good Enough Mother, The Mom Egg, Mused-Bella Online, Literary Mama, The Muffins-Friday Speak Out, Family Fun, and Tea Magazine. She's also been published in "Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul," Devozine, Tea Magazine and Reunions Magazine. Jeanine is also a contributing writer to Esteem Yourself E-Magazine.
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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!
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3 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: A Legacy For The Victims, Guest Post By Jeanine DeHoney, last added: 12/21/2012
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11. Friday Speak Out!: Start at the End, guest post by Sioux Roslawski

Start from the beginning. No, that’s not what I meant to say.

Start from the middle. No, that’s not quite it, either. Start at the end.

There. That’s more like it.

As children, if we were lucky enough to have a teacher who encouraged us to write down our stories, we usually heard the same advice. “Just tell the story. Start from the beginning.” And if we followed those directions, it certainly didn’t lead us down the wrong path. However, if we had chosen a different route, the journey might have been a bit more intriguing.

Sometimes, beginning at the end of the story and flashing back is a wise choice. Whether you’re working on a novel or a short story or a memoir, don’t fall for the idea that you must tell your story in chronological order.

Consider opening with some action. Some dialogue. Think about a beginning that causes a sense of disequilibrium.

You stumble over that last line. Dissss-e-kwil-what? It’s too early for anything beyond a monosyllable? You haven’t had your morning dose of coffee/tea/chocolate/Mimosas yet? My apologies.

Start off your story in a way that causes some instability or imbalance. Make the reader wonder, and thus wander further into your tale because they’re intrigued.

For example, I had this beginning for a childhood memoir of mine. I didn’t open with getting my swimsuit on and gathering together my towel and snack money. I didn’t begin with walking to the pool. Instead, this is how I started:

Still, decades later, I have no idea exactly how it happened. Did I stumble and slip, like a thread through a needle, through the opening in the guardrail? Did I veer off the edge, despite the sandpapery surface I walked along? I have no clue what caused the accident. All I know is one moment I was fine, high above all the neighborhood houses that surrounded me and the next moment, I was half on the concrete and half in the water.

It all began on a typical June afternoon.

So, consider beginning at the end of the story or the middle and using flashbacks to fill in the holes. Give the reader something a bit different when it comes to the organization of your story. They’ll appreciate it…

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 Sioux Roslawski has been published in three (so far) Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, as well as several Not Your Mother's Book collections. A third grade teacher with the Ferguson-Florissant School District, she is also one of the five founding members of the famed WWWP writing critique group. Her musings can be found at http://siouxspage.blogspot.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!
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13 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Start at the End, guest post by Sioux Roslawski, last added: 1/4/2013
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12. Friday Speak Out!: No More Query Letters, guest post by Joanne Lewis

No More Query Letters


(If you’re not having fun, don’t do it)

by Joanne Lewis

I wrote my first novel when I was 24 years old and while a prosecutor working sex crimes. I didn’t have an agent. A small press that has since gone out of business published the novel. While I did not sell many books, I was invited to speak on panels and did book signings. I got an agent. I was on my way. Then my agent unexpectedly passed away.

Opportunities continued to arise, at least for a short time. Another small press wanted to publish a book of mine, however the novel was never released.

At this time, I’m 29 years old and feeling like my writing career would never go anywhere.

I didn’t write throughout my thirties. Not writing gnawed at my brain but I was productive in other ways. I left the State Attorney’s Office and opened my own practice. I fell in love. But still, I didn’t write. I knew, however, that I would write in my forties.

Four days shy of my 41st birthday, I experienced a life changing event. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After a radical hysterectomy and six months of chemotherapy, I emerged cancer free and ready to write. I was determined to be published again.

One day, as I was trying to write the perfect query letter, I told my sister I was tired of hoping an agent or editor considered me worthy. She said, if you’re not having fun, don’t do it.

I stopped. No more query letters. No more hoping to find an agent. No more praying for that editor to make me the next big thing. No more yearning to call a publishing house my home. I decided to self publish.

Here’s what I’ve learned about self publishing. It’s better than traditional publishing in many ways. We still do our own marketing but we also have control over our product. The final edits. The cover. How much we charge.

Do you know who looks down upon those of us who self publish? People in the publishing industry. Shouldn’t they be cheering us on?
Do you know who doesn’t care if we self publish? The readers. All they ask for is a good book.

What I don’t understand is how come self publishing, which is the same as being self employed, is given a bad rap? I started my own law practice and was congratulated for being an entrepreneur. I bought a house, flipped it and people were impressed. I have been self employed since 1997. Why is writing the only industry where being self employed is frowned upon?

When I am not working as a lawyer, I am writing and striving to follow my sister’s advice. If you’re not having fun, don’t do it.

I am 47 years old now. I have self published two novels. I do not sell a lot of books. I know that will change when I am in my fifties. Hopefully, this time the life changing event won’t be so drastic.

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Joanne Lewis is the self published author of Wicked Good(co-written with her sister, Amy Faircloth) and Make Your Own Luck, a Remy Summer Woods mystery. The Lantern, a Renaissance mystery, will be released in November 2012. Please visit her website at www.joannelewiswrites.com and email her at jtawnylewis@gmail.com. Her books are available as eBooks and as paperbacks on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all over the web. Please ask your local bookstore to order her novels.

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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!
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5 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: No More Query Letters, guest post by Joanne Lewis, last added: 9/8/2012
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13. Friday Speak Out!: At My Age, I’m Still Wet Behind the Ears, Guest Post by Becky Povich

At My Age, I’m Still Wet Behind the Ears

by Becky Povich

I never realized I was a writer until I was almost 50 years old. Sure, as a young girl I loved to write letters and had pen-pals all over the world. I was also passionate about reading, due in a large part to my paternal grandmother. Nothing thrilled me more than Bookmobile Day at my grade school. Climbing up those vehicle steps and entering a world of adventures was magical. I always exited with an armload of books.

As a young adult, I still enjoyed writing letters to friends and family. While some women swooned over shoes or purses, I’d be in the local Hallmark store, caressing beautiful stationery, trying to decide which box to buy.

Later in life, my jobs were usually in a customer service capacity. I took it upon myself to type newsletters to the sales crew and office staff, which was the brightest point of my week. I never considered any of this as writing, but since my genre is personal essay and memoir, I realize now it was the groundwork for this journey in my life.

I consider I officially became a writer in 2001 when I received a phone call about my estranged father. Hearing he had a grave illness and may not live caused deeply hidden emotions to surface. I once again felt love for him and wasn’t ready to completely let go. It hit me so unexpectedly, I felt compelled to get to my keyboard and the words just flowed. It was incredible. I titled it “Thoughts on Love & Forgiveness” and because of it, I obtained a position with the Opinion Shapers in the St. Peters (Missouri) Journal. A few years later, an edited version of it was accepted and published by Chicken Soup for the Soul, in their Divorce & Recovery anthology. I believe it’s the only story in the book written through the eyes of an adult child affected by a parents’ divorce.

Thanks to the superb encouragement from other writers near and far, my writing has definitely improved over the past ten years. I love my writing groups and the countless websites and blogs geared toward writers, especially Women on Writing and The Muffin! I’ve been fortunate to have other works published and I’m currently writing my memoir. My publisher is a small press in Missouri, High Hill Press. I’m living a dream I never realized I had!

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:
It's never too late to be who you might have been. -- George Eliot


* * *
Becky Povich began her writing career in her late forties. She’s been fortunate to have stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Thin Threads, Patchwork Path, and other anthologies. She is the current president of Saturday Writers in St. Peters Missouri, and also a member of the Missouri Writers Guild. She is the co-author of the Saturday Writers blog: www.saturdaywriters.blogspot.com and maintains her personal blog as well: www.beckypovich.blogspot.com. She’s currently writing her memoir and hopes to finish it this year.
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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!

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29 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: At My Age, I’m Still Wet Behind the Ears, Guest Post by Becky Povich, last added: 8/28/2011
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14. Friday Speak Out!: Writing From the Heart, Guest Post by Christine Molloy

Writing From the Heart

by Christine Molloy

I am a writer. There, I said it. It has taken some time to come to that realization as becoming a writer was something that I thought would happen, someday. What I didn’t quite realize is that as I was trying to become a writer, I already was one.

I dabbled in writing when I was younger, writing a poem here and there or writing meaningful, heartfelt messages in greeting cards to my friends and family. One time I wrote a personal essay about a patient I took care of when I was working as a nurse and miracle of all miracles, it was actually published in a popular nursing magazine. I enjoyed the writing process but never took the time to fully devote myself to it. Other things got in the way such as work, friends, home improvement projects, and my marriage.

Then everything changed several years ago. I lost my job, my home, and my marriage. I was battling some very complicated health issues which recently were correctly diagnosed as an autoimmune disorder called Sjogren’s syndrome. It took over twenty specialists and three and a half years to get an official diagnosis. During a lot of this time, I was unable to participate in life as I was used to. I was unable to work. The result of all these events was that I had a lot of free time on my hands. Stress and frustration over my health and limitations consumed me on a daily basis.

That was, until I started to write. In April 2010, I began a blog entitled Thoughts and Ramblings on Life, Love, and Health in which I wrote about a variety of topics, mostly life lessons that I was learning along the path of my life falling apart and then the journey of trying to rebuild it. It was then that I REALLY found my passion for writing. When I was putting down my thoughts, feelings, and opinions, the words would flow from my head onto the paper. I worked very hard to keep my blog posts realistic, but yet with a positive message. What I found was that by doing that, it helped me to keep an optimistic attitude about my own situation.

My passion for writing was further fueled by my reader’s responses to the various blog entries. Whenever I would receive a comment or feedback about how what I wrote helped a person in some way, I felt like my life had a purpose again. Finally, my life consisted of more than doctor’s appointments, tests, and phone battles with insurance companies. Through writing, I have been able to do some healing emotionally, physically, and spiritually from the chaotic circumstances of the last few years.

Becoming a writer has filled the voids of space in my days, my mind, and my heart. Through words, I have been able to reconnect with life and myself again. For that, I am quite grateful.


* * *
Christine Molloy is a writer and registered nurse who lives in Massachusetts. She is a member of the Northern Connecticut Writer's Workshop MeetUp Group and enjoys writing essays and short fiction. More of Christine's work can be seen on her blog: Thoughts and Ramblings on Life, Love, and Health (http://www.christinemolloy.com).

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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 he

11 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Writing From the Heart, Guest Post by Christine Molloy, last added: 9/18/2011
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15. Friday Speak Out!: Making It Into the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, Guest Post by Cynthia Watson

Making It Into the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest

by Cynthia Watson

I haven’t won a lot of prizes in my life, which is surprising, given my Irish heritage. They say the Irish are an especially lucky lot, but not this Irish girl. I remember winning three small items in my entire life. I recollect winning a beige coloured, plastic statue of the Virgin Mary at St. Gabriel’s grade school — grade three, I think — where I came in first in an all-day spelling bee. I was absolutely desperate to get that statue, and I did. Then, there was the time when I won a multi-coloured, crocheted doll at Loretto Abbey Secondary School (yes, I’ve been surrounded by nuns my whole life, but that’s another story!); for what, I can’t exactly remember. I believe it was just a random draw. I also won a gallon of whiskey at a Junior Board of Trade dinner, but gave it to the man who gave me the ticket for the draw.

So, you can imagine, I was beyond thrilled when I actually won a spot on the 2nd round list of the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest list.

I entered my Young Adult Paranormal Romance novel into the contest in February of 2011. I had just completed some final edits on WIND, and figured I could use the publicity and recognition to acquire a much-coveted literary agent.

I began writing WIND in April 2009, and completed the first draft four months later. Then, I promptly made the mistake of querying a handful of literary agents too early — as many new writers do — but was happy when I received several requests for “partials,” and a couple of “fulls.” One request was from a new, young, hip agent who took me under her wing, and gave me some invaluable editing advice. In the end, she didn’t offer representation, but still, I will always remember her kindness to me.

Then, I saw the call for submissions for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest was between January 24th and February 6th. With much trepidation, I decided to enter. I created an Amazon account, and uploaded the entire manuscript (the Manuscript had to be a novel between 50,000 and 150,000 words; WIND is 77,000 words). I also uploaded an excerpt, and a 300 word pitch, as per the contest rules, crossed my fingers (and yes, I said a few prayers), and hoped for the best.

The way the contest works is, they accept 5,000 entries in each of the two categories:

      1. 5,000 entries for General Fiction (general or genre-based literature primarily intended for an audience of readers who are age 17 and older), and

      2. 5,000 entries for Young Adult (general or genre-based fiction primarily intended for an audience of readers age 12 to 16).

Next, they whittle each list down to 1,000 entries which move to the second round, based on three criteria: Originality of idea, overall strength of the pitch, and the quality of writing.

I waited, quite impatiently, for February 24th, the date picked for the announcement of the entries moving to the 2nd round. Not really believing WIND had a chance, I was dumb-founded when I opened the PDF list, and saw among the 1,000 entries in the YA category, “WIND by Cynthia Watson.”

I was beyond excited! I must have opened that list ten times, to show co-workers, friends and family. I emailed everyone I had ever met, including my new

3 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Making It Into the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, Guest Post by Cynthia Watson, last added: 9/23/2011
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16. Friday Speak Out!: A Little Bit Done, Guest Post by Brittnay Buckner

A Little Bit Done

by Brittnay Buckner

I'll keep it short and sweet: I submitted 21 pages of my work to an online contest!

It's been about two years since I've submitted any of my work to a contest or for a fellowship. Though I can easily blame this on the nine and a half months of pregnancy, the three and a half months of being a new mom, and a 10-month stint at a job where I had the boss from hell, the real reason is that I gave up on myself. Like every writer (I hope), I believe that my writing is good and worthy, however, I never felt like I received enough validation for my writing "out there" in the real world. I was rejected from prestigious writers colonies and fellowships. We're probably talking about 10 attempts.

Prior to my two-year hiatus from putting my work out there, I was also taking writers classes and got positive responses to my work. But because I was not selected for these classes, I just had to pay the fee, I just didn't see the responses as legit enough.

I continued to write, but I gave up looking for places to publish my work. I didn't allow people to see my work in draft form. I never finished anything. Only two 500+ page first draft manuscripts stuffed on an abandoned bookshelf in my office-turned-junkroom to show for it.

This year, when I turned 30 (yes the proverbial 30) I decided it was time to put my work out there. Again. Whether it be through writing this blog, finishing small chunks of work and asking for writer-friends to read it and give me feedback, or submitting to contests, I need to do it --regularly--to build my confidence and to begin moving in my dream as a writer.

The submission to this contest marks an accomplishment for me. As a writer. A real-life writer. Progress.

* * *
Brittnay Buckner is the author of “Singular Beast: A Conversation with Jamaica Kincaid” published in the journal Callaloo in 2008. She recently launched a blog for writer-mamas called "New Mama Wannabe Writer Worker Bee Wife" at newmamawannabewriter.blogspot.com She is currently working on a memoir. She lives in Washington DC with her husband and three month-old daughter Zora.
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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!

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6 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: A Little Bit Done, Guest Post by Brittnay Buckner, last added: 10/2/2011
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17. Interview with 2nd Place Winner, Holly Bauer-Ping

Bio: Holly Bauer-Ping grew up in Berwick, Maine, and currently works as a lawyer in Chicago. She lives with her boyfriend and three beloved cats. This is her very first writing contest entry.

interview by Marcia Peterson

 WOW: Congratulations on your second place win in our Spring 2011 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest, especially since this is your very first contest entry?

Holly: A friend had won a writing competition that I never would have thought of entering, and I wanted to see if I could do it too. I thought that having a deadline and other constraints, like a word limit, would be really motivating, and it was. I already had a rough draft of “Leave,” and when I came across the WOW! Flash Fiction competition, it seemed like a good fit.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story?

Holly: I spent time in Montreal a few years ago, and I was inspired by the subtle difference in culture. I thought Montreal would create a good backdrop for a character like Winnie, who carries a series of conflicted relationships around with her and wishes she could start over. Louise is an amalgam of several people I met there, who are refreshing to be around because they are so relaxed and joyful in life.

WOW: I really liked the description of Louise in the story. Have you always enjoyed the genre, and how did you learn to write great flash fiction?

Holly: I can’t say I’ve always enjoyed the genre; in fact, I didn’t know it existed until a few years ago when friends introduced me to it—they were printing flash fiction on postcards you could subscribe to. I like the genre for the same reasons I like poetry—it has to be precise and condensed. And honestly, I write so erratically that the short format works with my limitations. I wish I had the time and attention span to commit to writing a sprawling novel, and I still hold out hope I’ll have the courage to commit to a project like that one day.

WOW:  We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Does it involve cafes, like your character, Winnie? Any favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Holly: Caffeine is definitely key! I have always kept a hand-written journal, but it's rare for me to write in public. And the habit comes and goes—sometimes I write almost daily for months, and then months pass when I don’t write at all. Sometimes I’ll think of a phrase I want to use for a story, or a character’s name, and I’ll write it down on the back of receipts or post-it notes, which end up in weird random places in my apartment. But on those occasions when I actually sit down to write something that has a middle, beginning, and end, I use a computer.

WOW: Sounds like you've found a way to make it work in your busy life.
1 Comments on Interview with 2nd Place Winner, Holly Bauer-Ping, last added: 10/18/2011
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18. Friday Speak Out!: The Write-Less Writer, Guest Post by Stephanie Romero

The Write-Less Writer

by Stephanie Romero

For some, writing is therapeutic. For others it is the way to fulfill a dream or even to earn a living. And if there is one bit of advice that many writers will give you, it is to write every single day.

However, I tend to think differently. I believe we need to set aside one day every week where we don’t write. Too much thinking, too many words swirling in your mind can suck away at your creativity.

I think this is especially true for those writers who make a living doing it. Monday through Friday I am working on my paid writing assignments. Saturdays I find myself writing a newsletter, my weekly blog, a book review and the list goes on.

Despite how much I love writing, I sometimes find myself being consumed by the written word. By taking one day a week (which for me is Sunday), to banish all thoughts of writing from my mind, helps me to feel refreshed come Monday morning.

I use my one-day-a-week to be a “write-less” writer. I may partake in any number of activities from attending church, to spending time with family, reading a book or watching a couple of movies.

While I don’t write on this one day there are times when an idea pops into my head. I jot it down. But I don’t go to my computer and start typing away. If it’s a good enough idea, I will be able to formulate it into something useful later on.

The idea of being a “write-less” writer for one day a week may sound unimaginable for some. But for others it can actually be freeing. You may have even felt guilty about not wanting to write 7 days a week. Give yourself permission to unplug the word machine from your brain and allow it to rest.

Give yourself permission to be a “write-less” writer one day a week.

* * *
Stephanie Romero works as an independent contractor writing web content for law firms. In addition she is a regular blogger at Families.com (http://www.families.com/hizchozen/), editor/writer for the independent parties’ site at Bella Online – The Voice of Women (http://www.bellaonline.com/site/independentparties), and the author/instructor for an online course, “Recovery from Abuse” (http://vu.ksurf.net/catalog/5824.html). In her spare time she works on her personal blog (http://stephaniesromero.blogspot.com/) and encourages women to live their dream (http://stephanieromero.wordpress.com/).
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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!
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19. Friday Speak Out!: Reading to Write, Guest Post by Jamie Patterson

Reading to Write

by Jamie Patterson

I recently heard an author say that if you don’t have enough time to read then you don’t have enough time to write. More than anything this made me feel better about all the hours I spent with my nose in a book instead of at the computer, hands posed over the keyboard.

Several years ago I had the first draft of my first manuscript and was invited to a reading at a literary agent’s home by a friend. I was a little nervous about going because I wasn’t quite ready to share the manuscript but the reading was amazing. It was a first time novelist and she read and then took questions at the end. Someone asked about the writing process and she confided that just before publication her publisher asked for major rewrites and additions and she was—of course—on a very tight schedule. She said her way of dealing with the pressure was to go to a secluded spot with only her computer and some Shakespeare.

When she felt completely stumped she said she’d read Shakespeare until she fell asleep and then, without fail, when she awoke she was able to continue down a line or begin a new one.

When I first started training as a creative writer I was heavily influenced by the texts I read: Joan Didion and James Frey in particular. My own writing would take on their cadence, the beat of their voice. Because of this I wrote for a long time without being able to read during the creation of text. I wrote my memoir, Lost Edens, without any books at my side. Now, though, I’ve started to embrace what I heard that author say recently: if you don’t have enough time to read then you don’t have enough time to write. I read voraciously in a wide variety of genres. If I’m overly concerned that I might be susceptible to another writer’s rhythm like I was early on, then I read a romance novel or academic articles. The trick is just to read (something, anything!). Understanding the craft of writing and understanding what is possible can only be done if you’re immersed in the outcome.

I read that Stephenie Meyer had a soundtrack of sorts that got her through the creation of the Twilight series. The music helped to inspire her. I think my next book will definitely have not a soundtrack, but a shelf of books that got me through the bumps in the road.

* * *
Jamie Patterson is a 33 year old writer, teacher, runner, and dog owner who spent most of her twenties trying to please everyone she encountered and help everyone she met. She has a Master’s degree in Language and Literature. A former spokesperson for the American Red Cross and the Girl Scouts, Jamie is now a frequent flier based in Minneapolis, and an academic editor with Walden University. Lost Edens is her first book.
Visit and Blog with Jamie and and join her fans on Facebook.

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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!
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5 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Reading to Write, Guest Post by Jamie Patterson, last added: 11/18/2011
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20. Friday Speak Out!: A Writer’s Balancing Act, Guest Post by Nadia Brown

A Writer’s Balancing Act

by Nadia Brown

We all know authors must wear many hats. We are booksellers, designers, webmasters, speakers, marketers… and when you are an author who owns her own business, multi-tasking becomes tricky and gets that much more difficult to accomplish. Which is why of late it’s been unsettling that I've missed quite a few of my deadlines – discouraging me to the point that I seriously contemplated no longer pursuing a writing career and instead concentrate exclusively on my company.

Not only am I an author of two poetry books, I also run and operate a day-to-day business that has grown considerable over the past few years; and it’s been rather difficult for me to walk this balancing act of poet, writer, author and entrepreneur. There is a great deal of responsibility that comes with being an author, and when you add to that, actually running a small business with little staff to shoulder the work load makes it that much harder.

I reached a point I'd had enough! I was ready to call it quits out of sheer frustration at how things were going. One right after the other, writing deadlines came and went while I was preoccupied by clients, newsletters, ads, and all things business-related. It came to the point where I thought I could not possibly go on like this anymore. I was on the verge of nearly quitting when I heard the most incredible words that really stuck with me and changed my way of thinking. A pastor on television said that sometimes to accomplish your goals you have to go through a bit of discomfort. Right then and there I agreed with what was said, and those thoughts stayed with me and provided hope and encouragement.

I realize I wanted to make it work, I wanted to continue to write; and I didn't want to give it up! I recognize how important it was to work smarter and not just harder, that I should better prioritize my work. I had to focus and be more discipline in order to accomplish what I wanted at the moment. I've been steadily focusing on one thing at a time and not a million stuff at once. I'm now writing more and most importantly I've gotten my groove back!

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Nadia Janice Brown resides in Miami, Florida where she works as a book promoter for www.author-promotion.com. She is the author of Becoming: The Life & Musings of a Girl Poet and the award-winning book Unscrambled Eggs. Nadia can be reached through her website at www.nadiajbrown.com.
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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!
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21. Friday Speak Out!: Circle, Guest Post by C. Hope Clark

Circle

by C. Hope Clark

Over lunch in a crowded cafeteria in a downtown federal building, a peer asked why I never wrote for myself. Stunned in mid-bite, I admitted I never thought of such a thing. As an administrative director for a small federal agency, I wrote thousands of words per week, tweaking congressionals, composing strategic plans, even applying spin to investigation reports, but creative writing never crossed my mind. The idea, however, piqued my interest.

After writing bad poetry and personal essays for several months, the concept of a mystery sat me up in bed one night. I'd been offered a bribe in my job years earlier, as a loan manager. The event shook my world, so why not craft it into a mystery? Two years later, the story made the rounds to professionals in the industry only to be soundly rejected. My fiction skills needed work. I tossed the stack of pages on a closet shelf, in a sealed manuscript box.

But the writing bug had bitten and left a swollen mark on my need to be other than a bureaucrat. I wrote anything anyone would accept, jumping into magazines and online sites with fervor. Nonfiction came easy. I understood how to research any topic in depth thanks to my government career. I began building clips.

While finding markets, I discovered contests; already knew grants from the day job. Then once some writers in Atlanta learned I knew such subjects, emails descended upon me. I turned answers into a newsletter, and FundsforWriters was born. From there I launched into a business, ecstatically proud about being thick in the world of words. Happy as a muddy fat pig in sunshine, I felt grounded . . . until five years later, when a published mystery author and I had dinner one night.

With several novels under her belt, she asked what I wrote other than FundsforWriters and magazine features, meaning, what was my dream. Déjà vu the government cafeteria. What was I doing for me?

I pulled down the old manuscript and all but gagged at its amateurish phrasing. Then I tossed the computer file so I wouldn't be tempted to cut and paste, and started from scratch. Four years later I completed a new version, landed an agent, and submitted the story to a few contests, placing in several. Two years later I held a contract. Today I hold Lowcountry Bribe that is every bit as beautiful as my first born son.

And I'm grateful for every road block, every rejection, and every second-guessing moment I had along the way, because the stumbles made me stronger. I'm blessed that a friend pushed me to write, and another pushed me to keep writing my dream. I'm doubly blessed that FundsforWriters attracted so many writers, who now can experience my dream project. It's amazing how the universe works. Coming full circle is a humbling experience, and I continue to marvel at the intense power of opportunity that lies before us as writers, if we take notice.

* * *

C. Hope Clark manages FundsforWriters.com, voted 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writer's Digest for twelve years. She is now the proud mama of Lowcountry Bribe, A Carolina Slade Mystery, published by Bell Bridge Books, February 2012. www.fundsforwriters.com /
6 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Circle, Guest Post by C. Hope Clark, last added: 4/14/2012
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22. Friday Speak Out!: Transfer Your Confidence, Guest Post by Penny Wilkes

Transfer Your Confidence
by Penny Wilkes

I feel uneasy when considering a roller coaster ride. I shudder to think about the ups, downs, and sharp corners. How my stomach would lurch from riding in a tin can on wheels. Is this how you feel when facing a challenging writing project? What if you could focus on successful areas of life and transfer those feelings to writing when frustrated?

Try this idea when feeling down about writing: list five techniques you use to feel confident and successful in aspects of life. What does this state of confidence feel like? Use all five senses to explore this idea.

For example, my strengths include:

l. I have positive DNA and believe in taking one more step or writing one more word toward a successful outcome.

2. I’m a creative problem solver. When facing a challenge I ask, “In what ways can I solve this?”

3. I possess stamina and the ability to play. With these skills I can outlast almost anything.

4. Humor vincit omnia (humor conquers all). I can access my funny bone in times of desperation.

5. Writing assists all my strengths.

During the years of playing competitive tennis, I always felt I could outlast my opponents. My conditioning and ability to remain confident under pressure helped train my mind to stay in a zone. I also used this technique in later years when I ran marathons.

During writing sessions, I never stop when tired of a project. I will write until I do not want to stop. Ending in a flow creates positive conditioning that ensures a return to the blank page.

If you access feelings of success in other aspects of life, it will assist you to face writing challenges. If the confidence level is transferred, you can learn to feel the same thrill when problem solving in writing.

How to Apply the Concept of Transference to Your Writing

Choose an area of life that enables you to experience joy and success. Are you a gourmet cook? Do you grow orchids? Do you race in triathlons or run marathons?

In what ways do these skills enable you to develop confidence in yourself? How do you risk and make mistakes in your area of expertise?

What skills do you use in successful areas of life that will transfer to your writing process?

Do a freewrite and let yourself write whatever comes to mind when answering these questions. When you’ve completed this writing, go in and make a list of key words that define your abilities to meet challenges in your areas of expertise.

Take a piece of writing that has caused frustration. Transfer the skills you wrote about to push this writing into a new direction.

***

Penny Wilkes, a professor of nature writing, has published three poetry collections, personal essays, humor and travel articles. She also combines words and nature photography. Her writing and photography blogs include: http://penjaminswriteway.blogspot.com/ and http://feathersandfigments.blogspot.com/. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 50

2 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Transfer Your Confidence, Guest Post by Penny Wilkes, last added: 6/1/2012
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23. Friday Speak Out!: 5 Commandments of Creativity, Guest Post by Susanne Brent

5 Commandments of Creativity
by Susanne Brent

I recently was telling my writing inspiration group there really isn't much more anyone can write about how to write. It's all been said. They disagreed and so, seeing as I know nothing about dog training or massage therapy, I decided to stick to writing about writing.

Even if you aren't a writer, maybe if you just want to sing in the church choir, or knit a sweater for your grandson, or take that beading class to make earrings, these five commandments of creativity might resonate with you. Now I didn't climb a mountain, or see a burning bush, or hear a voice from the heavens. In fact, I have trouble following these five commandments myself. These are just some guidelines to consider if you decide you want to reach a creative dreams like learn how to make French pastries or take photos of animals in the wild or, like me, write a novel.




I. Thou Shalt Ignore the Nasty Voice In Your Head -- this is the voice which tells you why bother even trying to write a short story. You have no talent. Or the voice that says there is no way you are wearing a bathing suit to the family party. You are way too old and fat. Or the voice that says who are you to think you should get a raise, paint with watercolors or travel to Italy to take photos. IGNORE that voice. Write, sing, garden, dance, paint, design clothes, even if that ugly voice is shouting, loser! Treat it as you do a yappy dog or a whining child. Eventually it will stop. I hear that mean voice when I look at the vision board I created for myself in the beginning of the year which is pictured above. The voice says, "who are you kidding? You'll never achieve writing success. Your dreaming." But I keep looking at my vision board each day, and writing, and that nasty voice gets softer and softer, drowned out as I tap away at my keyboard.



II. Honor Thy Time to Be Creative -- this is my fridge. Sometimes instead of writing I decide I need to clean it. Or just stare into it. Sometimes instead of writing I organize my shoes. I water plants, scrub the grout from the sink, take the car to the mechanic for an oil change. I cruise Facebook spying on people. I call a friend and talk about Dancing With the Stars. My time to be creative gets gobbled up by chores or idle stuff. This kind of time wasting (even if I like a clean fridge) will never complete a novel, or build a birdhouse or finish an oil painting of the ocean.The clock is ticking. The dirty dishes in the sink will wait. Face the blank page and miracles can happen.

III. Thou Shalt Never Think You Know It All -- because you don't. Here is a photo of the college campus where I earned a journalism degree in Denver. Little did I know when I graduated that

4 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: 5 Commandments of Creativity, Guest Post by Susanne Brent, last added: 6/9/2012
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24. Friday Speak Out!: Truth At Heart, guest post by Anju Gattani

Truth At Heart
by Anju Gattani

A writer’s life is hard. A woman’s life is tough. But a woman-writer’s life is grueling. I’m not saying this because I’m a woman or a writer--in actual fact, I’m both. I’m saying this because I’ve watched my children grow, get better and stronger with age, and have pretty much always been there for them 24/7. I’m saying this because I’ve watched my manuscript grow from one story to a series of books, become better and stronger with age, and have pretty much always been there for it 24/7.

I pack (and still do) my kids’ lunches every morning. I listen to their problems, their issues at school, and wave goodbye with promises of “Today’s a new day!” I listen to my husband’s problems, his issues at work and empathize with the tiring routine (now) of flying out every Mondays, returning on Thursdays and wave goodbye on Monday again with promises that “Today’s a new day!”

For nine long years I waved everyone off with enthusiasm, encouraging them to make the best of the rat-race in life. It didn’t matter if we were living in Australia, Singapore, India or the US, the walls and decor simply changed. The neighbors and friends grew with each move. But the door I’d close, the burden of a lonely manuscript waiting to be completed and the uncertainty if I’d ever become a published author were constants. I’d sit with my characters and wonder… will they ever be real like the family I waved goodbye to every morning? Would they also have stories of their own to share? Would they raise issues that would need thought, analysis and empathy? Would they ever become real or remain cardboard?

The more I rewrote and shared this with women friends, the more I realized DUTY AND DESIRE, the debut in my ‘Winds of Fire’ series, wasn’t just fiction but women’s fiction. But when women, I barely knew, came up to me at random and repeated the dialogues and themes underlying my fiction I realized I wasn’t just writing women’s fiction, but realistic fiction. I waved new friends off with the promise I’d let them know when the manuscript was finally a published book.

The manuscript is now a published book, in hardcover, digital format and available worldwide.

I still pack school lunches. I still listen, empathize and preach “Today’s a new day!” I still have another manuscript – another constant – waiting to be completed. And I have come to realize this is the burden of being a woman. We don’t just carry our stories but the stories of those around us.

Some are able to put the words on paper.

Others choose to keep them inside.

But no matter what the decision,

women are the same world-wide.

* * *

 Anju Gattani, fiction author, freelance journalist and former news reporter, has been published for over 2 decades in leading Asian and US publications. 3 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Truth At Heart, guest post by Anju Gattani, last added: 6/30/2012
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25. Friday Speak Out!: I Am A Writer...Hear Me Roar!, guest post by Robyn Corum

I Am A Writer...Hear Me Roar!

by Robyn Corum


Writing is a difficult journey. Choosing to be a writer means making the decision to walk a very rocky path. (Though sometimes, it's true, you don't actually make the decision--it kind of makes you.) Writing means lots of lonely days and sleepless nights. It means spending hours upon hours searching on-line for publishers and magazines and e-zines that might want your work. It means mounds of rejection letters for each glistening note of acceptance. It means friends who give you awkward smiles and timid nods when you attempt to explain what you experience. It means a life of constant self-doubt and recrimination and editing.

There is a saying that gardeners believe in tomorrow, but I think writers have to be some of the most hopeful, optimistic people I know. They are willing, regularly, to put the deepest thoughts of their hearts into black and white for the public to read. It takes courage to do that day in and day out.

It takes courage to tear out your soul and paste it on a blog for millions--or Aunt Ethel--to read. There are easier ways to make a living. Or actually, to go into debt.

Writers buy books by other writers on writing better. They take classes. They attend conferences. They listen to webinars. They join writing groups. Whatever it takes to hone and improve their craft--count them in. Each day is about making progress. There is an ideal and that's what they strive for.

Almost all writers can picture their name in a byline...and it looks good! Almost as good as it looks on the cover of a book jacket. The one with their photo on the back. (The good photo, the one where they've lost that irritating 30 pounds and have the $100 haircut.) They can picture themselves at a book signing, and on Oprah. "Don't worry, audience--we have one of these awesome books for each of you under your seats!"

Yes, it's true that most writers are limited to moderate fame, if any, during their lifetime. Perhaps a few people in their hometown will know that they 'piddle around' with writing. Or perhaps they'll have a few pieces published, which is a grand sort of success. Or at the very least, perhaps their own family will honor them, which is rare indeed.

But most of us write for ourselves. And that's okay. We have to let the demons loose. Anything else is icing. And, we all know...too much icing is bad for you...right? 


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3 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: I Am A Writer...Hear Me Roar!, guest post by Robyn Corum, last added: 7/27/2012
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