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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Friday Speak Out, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 96
1. Friday Speak Out!: Sentences, Seasons and Time

by Carol Hogan

I’m currently editing the chapters of my first book while simultaneously checking email, posting on Facebook, and reading about writing and publishing books. I know there are helpful suggestions out there so I rationalize by telling myself it takes a lot of reading to write a book. However, sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever finish the book itself?

It’s the same feeling I had when we were blue water cruising. Often we’d be at sea for twenty or more days where the only marker ticking off the passage of time was wave, after wave, after wave.

“Will we ever arrive in port?” I’d think to myself. It’s a similar question to the one children ask on a long car trip, “When are we gonna’ get there?” Finally, after twenty-one or twenty-two days at sea we’d sight land, and then I’d wish the passage wouldn’t end.

Writing a book is like sailing long distance, running a marathon or pedaling a bicycle across country. You put one foot in front of the other, pedal one full rotation, and write or revise one sentence at a time.

While I’ve been doing that, I notice that the Lynden tree outside my office window has subtly marked its own passage of time with the changing color of its leaves and finally the lack of them. Each day as I sit at my computer and move through the sentences my tree moves steadily through the seasons; it’s leaves turning from spring buds to summer green, then autumn red and finally to winter’s bare branches, leaf, after leaf, after leaf.

And I know I must move through the sentences and chapters as steadily and patiently as that tree moves through the seasons. I can’t hurry, or fill up sentences with words that aren’t quite right, just to make the work go faster. I search for exactly what I want to say, no matter how long it takes, and at the end of the day I pray have written words worth reading.


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Carol Hogan a freelance photojournalist and reporter in Hawaii, California, now living in Washington, not far from the Canadian border. She attended Western Washington University late in life and received a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Nonfiction, graduating in 2012. Hogan is currently editing her first book, In the Wake of Discovery: Two Adults, Two Children and 25,000-Miles on a Small Boat, and hopes to publish it soon.

web addresses: [email protected], or ByCarolHogan.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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0 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Sentences, Seasons and Time as of 3/21/2014 4:45:00 AM
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2. Friday Speak Out!: Writing Exercises to Feed a Starving Muse (and Book Giveaway!)



by Jessica Bell

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Well, not entirely. I do believe that we run out of ideas or inspiration on occasion, but I honestly think that’s a result of a starving muse.

What do I mean by “starving muse”?

Sometimes, when you are working on one particular manuscript, your brain becomes lazy or trained to think a certain way. It slips into the routines and personalities of what you believe your characters to be, and creates, what I like to call, an inspiration shield. This means that you could be cutting yourself off from new creative stimulation that could improve your work, and help grow new ideas.

If you think you have a starving muse, here are a three writing exercises that might provide it with some nutrients.

Exercise One

Think about the person you are in love with. If you are not in love with anyone, think of someone you love unconditionally, such as a parent, sibling, child, or pet. Write a scene between you and this person that illustrates the extent of your love through action. You must not use the word love at all, any synonyms of love, or any declaration of your feelings. The reader must see that you love this person from the way you behave. Avoid clichés such as cheek stroking, and looking longingly into one’s eyes. Use at least one simile/metaphor in your scene that relates to smell. Use 1st person, past tense. Write no more than 1000 words.

Exercise Two

Write a one-page memoir from the point of view of an inanimate object. Don’t think about it too long. Just choose the first object that comes to mind. Think about its function. Does it need another object, or a living being, in order to efficiently serve its purpose? If so, what kind of relationship would this object have with this other object/living being, and how would that relationship shape the object’s life? Try to avoid giving the object supernatural abilities. Be as realistic with it as possible, but be sure to give it a “voice.”

Exercise Three

Step one: Grab a newspaper (or your iPad!) and open to a random page. Read the first headline that catches your eye. Write it down. Do not read the article.

Step two: Write a fictional article with the same headline. If you know the real story from the news, choose another one. If you know every single story that has been in the news lately, make up your own headline.

Step three: Use the people mentioned in your article, and the things that happened to them, or the events they are associated with, to write a short story or vignette. Try to “show” as much as possible.

Have random writing exercises ever helped you overcome the elusive writer’s block? If so, how? If not, why do you think that is?


***** BOOK GIVEAWAY*****

Jessica is excited to give away a free copy of her writing skills book, Writing in a Nutshell: Writing Workshops to Improve Your Craft to one lucky winner! Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below and leave a comment for a chance to win. Open internationally. Winner is chosen randomly and announced within the widget on March 21.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/ guitarist, is a the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

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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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0 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Writing Exercises to Feed a Starving Muse (and Book Giveaway!) as of 3/14/2014 4:33:00 AM
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3. Friday Speak Out!: Making the Choice between Parenting and Pursuing Your Passion for Writing

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.

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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.
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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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0 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Making the Choice between Parenting and Pursuing Your Passion for Writing as of 3/7/2014 7:48:00 AM
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4. Friday Speak Out!: Retreats! What Are They Good For? (Absolutely Somethin'!)

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?

Be Creative
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.
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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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0 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Retreats! What Are They Good For? (Absolutely Somethin'!) as of 2/28/2014 7:30:00 AM
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5. Friday Speak Out!: Reflections - On Deciding to Become a Full-Time Writer, Guest Post by Danyelle C. Overbo

A business card is a funny little thing. People throw them in fishbowls for free sandwiches, they exchange them at events, they buy special, shiny cases to hold them, and they find them in side pockets and overlooked nooks and crannies after being tucked away and long forgotten. Business cards are disposable by nature. You give them out and hope for the best. You order them in large batches and use them to consolidate your information in a convenient little package. Just a slip of rectangular paper with your personal data to be collected, consolidated, and consumed.

I have been thinking a lot about business cards lately. They may seem insignificant in our daily dealings, but I believe every one of them holds so much more than a phone number and an email address. For each one, someone had to go through the trouble of painstakingly designing that tiny rectangle of data, of purchasing a box of them, of picking up a little pile of them and putting them in their pocket or purse or specially bought container. Every card holds someone’s unique identity, a piece of their personal story.

The plain white, unglazed surface and gray lettering under a simple company logo might, on closer inspection, convey the excitement of a person’s first, grown-up job. A hyper-designed, riotously colored card can carry the hopes and fears of a new business owner. The years of hard work and drive to win a high-level position can be portrayed in a simple bladed graphic and bold black lettering.

All business cards had their start in someone’s new beginning. I realized my own new beginning the day I received my little box of new business cards in the mail. They have my name in pretty looped letters, my favorite colors in the butterfly logo, and, of course, my consolidated data. I’ll send them out into the world, one at a time, hoping for the best.

But whether people keep them or throw them away, the important part is that they represent my declaration to the world that I am, as Julie Luek says, taking the leap. Because under my name on these funny little cards they say Freelance Writer, Novelist, Blogger – I marvel that so few words can mean so much to me.

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Danyelle C. Overbo is a multifaceted writer and story teller. She holds a Bachelor's degree in creative writing from the University of Nevada Reno where she was published in the University's prestigious literary arts journal, the Brushfire. She is currently working as a freelance writer specializing in business and marketing communications. You can view samples of her work on her website where she blogs about her travels and writing adventures at: http://danyellecoverbo.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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5 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Reflections - On Deciding to Become a Full-Time Writer, Guest Post by Danyelle C. Overbo, last added: 9/7/2013
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6. 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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7. Friday Speak Out!: Why I Took on Racial Discrimination and Civil Rights in my Latest Book, Guest Post by Rosalie Turner


My mentor says that a writer is someone who can’t not write, and I’ve certainly found that to be true. While we must write, the question always arises, “What should I write about?” As a historical novelist, I love nothing more than to find some obscure person and expose them. My first novel was about Anna Kingsley of Kingsley Plantation in Florida. No one had really told her story and she was an amazing woman, a role model of strength and inner courage for all of us. Anna was born of royal blood in 1793 in Senegal. She was captured at the age of thirteen in a tribal raid, survived the horrific Middle Passage, and was brought as a slave to Spanish East Florida. I tell her story in Freedom Bound, which won an award from the Florida First Coast Writers Association.

After releasing two more historical novels–Sisters of Valor, which won a Military Writers Society of America Award, and Beyond the Dream, based loosely on my great-grandparents, I struggled with my next book subject.

For years, the story of the hundreds of black children who left school to march with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement had captured my attention. I knew that 2013 would be the 50th anniversary of their pivotal march, so I decided to write about it as a tribute to them.

As with most things, the more I delved into their stories, the more impressed I was with what they had accomplished. In the 1960s Birmingham, Alabama was considered the most racist place in the country. African-Americans were completely segregated from the white population. The schools were segregated, the churches, the clubs, the waiting rooms and water fountains–everything. Blacks could not use the downtown public library; to get food from the few restaurants they could use, they had to go in the back door to order, then take their food outside. Overseeing and enforcing all this was the ruthless “Bull” Connor, Commissioner of Public Safety.

When Dr. King entered the scene with his non-violent protest, the adults in the black community were not interested in marching with him. They had too much to lose–their jobs, their homes, maybe even their lives. But the children weren’t afraid.

On the appointed day (known to them by secret code words from the local dj) thousands– literally thousands– of children left school and flocked to the 16th Street Baptist Church to march with Dr. King. Some came from as far as eighteen miles away.

And, yes, they were arrested, some even as young as eight years old, and yes, on the second day they were hosed and had police dogs snarling at them. The pressure from those hoses could tear bark off trees, and yet the children came back and marched again and again.

How could I not write of their courage?

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JC Penney Award recipient Rosalie Turner has been writing for almost 30 years. Her sixth book, March With Me, released this month marking the 50th anniversary of the Children’s March. Visit Rosalie at www.rosalieturner.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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5 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Why I Took on Racial Discrimination and Civil Rights in my Latest Book, Guest Post by Rosalie Turner, last added: 4/9/2013
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8. 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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9. 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.

* * *

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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10. 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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11. Friday Speak Out!: 4 Things Authors Need to Know About Amazon, guest post by Aggie Villanueva

4 Things Authors Need to Know About Amazon


by Aggie Villanueva
Many of us have had books for sale for years at Amazon.com. Many excitedly await their first book going live. Whichever your situation, there are just as many of us who unfortunately use Amazon as simply the world’s largest bookstore listing. What’s wrong with that, you may wonder? After all, Amazon is the world’s largest bookstore.


Vikram Narayan, CEO of BookBuzzr.com, said of my book which teaches the principles presented in this article, “…Aggie Villanueva’s how-to changes your perspective of Amazon from that of an online book store to that of an author publicity machine."


In that spirit, here is my list of three things authors need to understand before selling their books at Amazon.com, and to change our “perspective of Amazon.”


 1. Amazon.com is Much More Than the World’s Largest Bookseller


If treated as a simple bookstore you’ll never garner the vast benefits of selling books there. They have created an ingenious marketing engine that drills through several layers of free and automated publicity, each layer completely unique and reaching millions of readers.


And like them or not, Amazon makes bestsellers out of more writers than anywhere. So why not make use of them? If you don’t utilize their system then they are indeed just the world’s largest bookseller. What a waste if all they do for your book is list it. Let me show you the basics of how Amazon can use categories to sell more of your books.


2 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: 4 Things Authors Need to Know About Amazon, guest post by Aggie Villanueva, last added: 8/5/2012
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12. Friday Speak Out!: Benefits of an Editorial Calendar, guest post by Stephanie Romero

Benefits of an Editorial Calendar
by Stephanie Romero

When I started off my writing career, I was making literally pennies a day. However, the source that I was writing for always provided an editorial calendar.

The calendar reminded me of special holidays and events coming up that could be used as content. It also contained topics and ideas to spur my creative juices.

Now that I am no longer writing for them and make better money as a professional blogger, I have found it beneficial to create my own editorial calendar. Whether you blog personally or professionally, coming up with topics can be a challenge.

One source that I professionally write for requires that each month I produce 15 blogs on parenting teens, 10 on housekeeping, 10 on fitness, 5 on marriage, and 5 on home-based business. Coming up with fresh ideas each month can be a challenge, so that is when I decided to create my own editorial calendar.

I picked up a calendar from my local office supply store and began to fill in each month with ideas. Not only did I include holidays but I spent time looking up other nationally-recognized events.

For instance, “National Simplify Your Life Week” can be used in a home business blog or housekeeping. “Middle Child’s Day” is a great topic for parenting teens. And “Relaxation Day” fits in with my personal blog that I write.

You have to think outside of the box when it comes to topics. September is generally known for the time of kids going back to school. Depending on who you write for, you could turn this into a topic.

In fact, you could create a series out of certain topics. If you are hard-pressed in coming up with new ideas on what to write about, consider creating your own editorial calendar.


* * *

Stephanie Romero is a professional blogger for Families and independent contractor for We Do Web Content. Through her personal blogs she inspires others to actively pursue their dreams and mothers to seek out those heartfelt prayers for their children. She is the creator and instructor of “Recovery from Abuse,” an online course that is currently being used in a correctional institution’s character-based program. In addition, she leads an online writer’s critique group for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Stephanie has taught workshops and Bible studies on a variety of topics to small and large groups of women.

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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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2 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Benefits of an Editorial Calendar, guest post by Stephanie Romero, last added: 9/8/2012
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13. 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.

* * *
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 [email protected]. 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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14. Friday Speak Out!: Take Notes, guest post by by Mary Jane Downs

Take Notes!
by Mary Jane Downs

As a writer, scribbling down the ideas that come into my mind during my day is just as important as developing the idea I am working on at the moment. In the past, I wrote on post it notes that never seemed to make it in my special manila folder. Most of the time the notes were forgotten or lost and the inspiration in that moment faded away.

Recently, I was working on a blog post, when an idea for another bog post came to me. On a whim, I quickly created a Word document, titled it and typed everything I could think of about the subject. When I finished, I closed the file and got back to what I was doing. Later, when I went back to look at the new idea, I realized I had written down most of what I needed to write a new post. Thank God for whims!

This system is now what I use to save my ideas for my blog. Whenever I get an idea I want to develop, I make myself take the time to create a Word document for it. I title it (even if I change the title later) and write all the points I can think of at the moment. My thoughts are in no special order. Complete sentences or grammar concerns will come later. I save the documents on my desktop page for easy access, if I want to add more. I have about 10 folders in various stages of completion right now.

In the end, I have found this method has boosted my self-confidence as a writer because I know I already have ideas prepared for when I need them. It helps keep my ideas accessible so I can ponder them until it is time to complete them. Plus I have noticed it helps me be a good steward of the gift God has given me.

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 Mary Jane Downs is a writer, speaker and teacher. She has been featured in Awe Magazine, Inspiredmoms.com and has been a guest blogger for the Boot Camp Writer’s Conference and TheSchoolbox.com. Contact Mary Jane at [email protected] or visit Mary Jane’s blog http://www.maryjanewrites.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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3 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Take Notes, guest post by by Mary Jane Downs, last added: 9/21/2012
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15. Friday Speak Out!: Words From A Clear Inner Voice, guest post by Irene Cohen, MD

Words From A Clear Inner Voice
by Irene Cohen, MD

In 2009 I undertook a one year course of study with two teachers who created a program called the Voice for Love. This program teaches one how to hear her clear inner voice. The program consisted of meditation, writing, speaking from this voice and learning spiritual counseling. As a psychiatrist I had been interested in the connection between mind and spiritual practices for many years and found this program illuminating.

I didn’t start out to write a book. As a long-time meditator, I prefer to sit in the early morning before the day begins. This practice has always set the course of the day for me and creates the sense of peace and concentrated focus which I bring with me no matter what occurs. Although I did not start out to write a book, I found that during my meditations, when I was quiet and empty of thoughts, words began to come to me with the prompt to write them down. So I started to meditate with my netbook in my lap, sitting on a cushion. Without asking any questions or thinking of any particular subject, messages and contemplative pieces came forth. Through a melding of my mind and my own unique abilities, something greater than myself emerged. The information I wrote down was not channeled, but it was a part of me, a greater and vast part, a larger Self. In this process, during which I am fully conscious and aware, words come forth effortlessly and in a sharper, clearer way than if I were to try to explain them myself.

When my book of 100 short meditative passages was finished, I also edited it from the place of my higher self. Getting myself out of the way, with my ego’s doubts and fears, made the editing and rewriting process much easier. If I am editing from that space of higher knowing, I can think with more clarity about what I am trying to convey and in doing so, create more of what was meant to be.

But isn’t the creative process always so? We write from another place within us which feels compelled to express itself. Artists and writers have often called it inspiration. It is a blossoming of who we truly are. If we gain clarity from a quiet mind, which for me means a regular, daily meditation practice, we can all write with less effort and more ease, knowing that what we mean to say will be distinctly in our voice.

* * *

Irene A. Cohen, MD is a psychiatrist, acupuncturist and interfaith minister who has maintained an integrative practice for almost 30 years. Hay House / Balboa Press just released her first book, Soul Journey to Love: 100 Days to Inner Peace . Visit Dr. Cohen on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and blog with her at www.drirenecohen.authorsxpress.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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16. Friday Speak Out!: Should I stay or should I go?, guest post by Laxmi Hariharan

Last night I watched the Welcome to India series on the BBC. The programme followed a young couple—Rajesh and his wife Savita—who call a shack on a Bombay beach their home. They support their kids' future with some great improvisation, including running their house as a makeshift beach pub selling cane liquor. But then eviction by the council threatens their home for good.

Growing up in Bombay, I had lived blissfully unaware and yet on the fringes of such super-human-everyday-stories. Being a part of the fabric of middle-class Indian society meant my brush with those on the poverty line was limited to the daily visits of the cleaner. At that I don’t ever remember enquiring exactly where she lived, assuming it was in one of the shanty towns adjoining the apartment complex where my parents had made their home. It was only after spending many years away from the gridlock of urban Bombay that I began to appreciate the heroism in the everyday living of the 99% of the subcontinent.

Yet, fifteen years after leaving my birth city here I was, squirming on my sofa in my warm London living room, uncomfortable with the visions of dirt being turned to gold, of a place from my past, where people used technology reminiscent of the times of El Dorado to find their future. Unlike them I had a lot to be thankful, of course—opportunities, luck, education, and more. Yet, I was contemplating of leaving the very security that many of them reached for, in search of … what? My own personal rainbow?

I come from a long line including my father and aunts, who wrote many unpublished and a published poems and stories. None of them pursued writing full time. The economic need to work and bring in money, perhaps married with an insecurity to reveal what really went on behind closed doors, held them in chains. Yet, on publishing my first book, my father’s delight was tempered by a “don’t neglect your day job” warning. My peers dream of balancing work and children as a kind of having everything package. Me? Grounded as I am, in a practical upbringing which lays emphasis on economic fulfilment above all else, I stand at the cross roads of wondering how I really could have it all—of a different kind.

As I saw my country-men, struggling to provide for their children, my sub-conscience pricked me. How could I possibly contemplate giving up some of what they could only dream of in pursuing something which only I could define? But, I can’t ignore my instinct which says that I have to be the one—absolutely—to break the circle of discontentment handed to me through my blood lines.

Are you a writer too, and do you face such a quandary? Is it a real cross-roads that I stand at or just another figment of my over-wrought imagination? What’s your advice?

* * *

 Though born in India, Laxmi Hariharan lived in Singapore and Hong Kong before being based in London. She is inspired by Indian mythology. It was in embracing her roots that she found her voice. Her debut novel The Destiny of Shaitan is available on Amazon http://tiny.cc/szqsew. Reach her here: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laxmihariharanauthor, twitter at @laxmi, website: http://www.laxmihariharan.com/,  goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/laxmi.
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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!: Should I stay or should I go?, guest post by Laxmi Hariharan, last added: 11/30/2012
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17. 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…

* * *

 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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18. 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.

  * * *

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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19. Want to contribute to The Muffin?

A New Year is almost here! Would you like to contribute to The Muffin in 2013?


Fridays are "Speak Out!" days. We allow posts from contributors for promotion. If you'd like to submit a post, please make sure that it's about women and writing.

Your post can be about: writing inspiration, balancing family life/parenting with writing, craft of writing fiction/nonfiction, how-tos, tips for author promotion/marketing/social media, book reviews, writing prompts, special opportunities (paying markets for writers), publishing industry news/gossip, and anything you think our readers will love.

Please make sure that there is take-away value to our readers. No press releases please. We're more interested in hearing from our core audience--personal essays and humorous anecdotes are encouraged as well, as long as they provide something useful to our audience--including a good laugh! ;)

How To Submit: Submit your 250 - 500 word post in the body of your email to our blog editor Marcia Peterson:
[email protected]. Upon acceptance, we will ask for your bio, links, bio photo, and any other pics to illustrate the article. We look forward to hearing from you!

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20. 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.

* * *

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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21. 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.
* * *
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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22. 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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23. 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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24. 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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25. Friday Speak Out!: Writing with Others, guest post by Priscilla Whitley

The Writer’s Workshop I facilitate began in the twilight of late summer and concluded its season in the windy cold of winter. Six women, all with their own agendas, their own goals, came together each week—thoughtfully, and with extreme humor—lifting each other to places it had never occurred to them they would go. At least, not in the beginning . . .

Joining a workshop can offer a safe and supportive environment for your voice to be heard. Sharing your work with others in an enthusiastic, encouraging setting allows the freedom to explore your writing while improving your craft. No matter whether you’re an emerging writer or one who has been published, the right workshop will engage you in the thrill of expression.

Our group, now in its third year, started tentatively and with the upmost politeness, for critiquing is a learned art. They began with how a particular sentence invoked an image or “what an interesting story,”; we all like to hear that. But soon, very soon, I saw them yearning to yell out, “Tell me what you really think. Give it to me, I can take it.” First one, then another began to point out a confusion in the storyline, or how that snippet of dialogue didn’t move the plot along. They began commenting on having a stronger lead, heightening the arc, and were able to say, “Let’s hear how you really feel. I think you’re trying to be too nice.”

Sitting in my den with cups of tea, some curled up on the sofa, others cross-legged on the floor, we got to know each other through our writing in ways only true intimates can. We wrote of worries for our children, the confusions of growing older, and the hardships of childhood. The fiction sometimes took us to the dark place that was not outwardly visible on the author’s lovely face. Other times, a long-hidden secret was revealed in a hilarious or harrowing encounter. Gradually, we found our voices and discovered the benefits of critiquing, how helping others turned us into better writers.

Finding the right workshop can be like finding the right doctor. What’s good for one is not necessarily right for another. Prospective members should meet with the facilitator and hear them carefully explain their rules on both commenting and the responses to the comments. It’s important to keep in mind that in a Writer’s Workshop it’s up to the facilitator to keep the focus on the writing, not on the situation being written about. That belongs to the writer.

The individuality that expresses itself in writing is a constant amazement to me. Offered with kindness, a comment may only take a minute, even a few seconds, to impart a positive change. I saw it take place every night in our group and it always makes me want to come back for more.

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Priscilla Whitley has been a writer most of her life. She attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism as well as Fordham University where she majored in Creative Writing. She has been an on-going contributing feature writer for Hersam/Acorn Press. In 2012 her memoir, August on the Porch, placed first in the Westport CT Arts Center Memoir Contest. As facilitator of the Candlewood Writer’s Group, Priscilla runs workshops for writer’s in Fairfield County Connecticut. Her website is http://priscillawhitley.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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4 Comments on Friday Speak Out!: Writing with Others, guest post by Priscilla Whitley, last added: 3/3/2013
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