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Everything posted by AgentModX

  1. I do love a good secret, don’t you? And when I hear that something is a best kept secret—like a new hometown restaurant off the beaten track or a mysterious walking trail—I can’t wait to give the secret a try. But here’s the thing about best kept secrets: they don’t stay secret very long. You just can’t keep people from extolling the virtues of something wonderful. And before long, it’s not secret anymore; everyone’s in on it. That’s what’s happened over at Nonfiction Fest, a writing challenge that on February 1st will be starting their third year. I expect Nonfiction Fest to draw even bigger numbers this year so yes, it may not have that cozy, isn’t-this-great-just-the-200-of-us feel anymore but (and this is a big but!) it will still be a wonderful, inspiring, and supportive community where any writer can learn a whole lot. And before you say, “But I don’t write non-fiction so pooh-pooh to this challenge!”, hear me out. Because whether you write fiction or nonfiction, for children or adults, picture books, novels or articles, you will learn something of value over at Nonfiction Fest. Like… Research! Have you ever wondered how a writer was able to get all that terrific (and vetted!) material, perhaps even a few quotes from professionals for an article on say, dinosaurs? There are a lot of tips and tricks of the trade when it comes to getting information, and authors of nonfiction are pros at this skill. And they’re willing to share a how-to or two. For free. And now you’re thinking that you don’t need that skill for something simple like a poem. You’re just writing a happy little verse about a platypus, right? And I say, the more you know about a platypus, the better your concept will be. And maybe it will take an unexpected turn because you found out something surprising about platypuses (like the correct plural of the little critter). That’s the thing about research. It’s like shooting a film where tons of reel stays on the cutting room floor. But you don’t know what stays and what goes until you get into the thick of it all. The Art of Editing That’s a skill, too, editing all that research. Maybe your novel’s setting is the Province of Massachusetts Bay during the years of the Salem Witch Trials. Perhaps you have reams of information about the time period and the place. And it’s awful tempting to get all that hard-earned info into your novel. Nonfiction authors can give you tips on balancing story and all that research and ultimately helping you write a rich, textured novel instead of a mystery that reads like a textbook. So here’s the best kept secret every writer should know: the skills to writing good nonfiction aren’t just for nonfiction authors. But don’t take my word for it. Do a little research for yourself over at Nonfiction Fest! (And P.S. I didn’t even mention that you can win prizes if you participate in this challenge and that’s pretty wonderful, too. And you know what else is wonderful? Supporting the NF authors who give so generously of their time and talent. So check out their books, leave a review, encourage your schools to invite these authors for a school visit. It’s a win-win for everyone!) ~Cathy C. Hall(C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  2. Leontine Hartzell is a writer and shamanic energy healing teacher. She has been a psychic life coach and energy healer for over 30 years. A mystic and visionary, she listens to her helping spirits to bring forth inspiring wisdom through her writing, teaching, music, healing and coaching individuals and Fortune 500 executives. She is also an award winning recording artist, singing healing melodies channeled from the helping spirits. (www.OmajaMusic.com) Leontine finds inspiration from the ancestors, the spirits of the earth, wind and the stars. She was short-listed in the Fish Publishing flash fiction contest in 2019 and published in the Vassar Literary magazine. Her WOW! short story was dictated to her by an ancestral spirit who appeared to her in a vision and insisted she stop working on a different project and write down what she was telling her. Leontine welcomes any inquiries from literary agents and publishers to help publish this powerful woman’s story. Leontine is also currently writing a memoir and a manual of advanced energetic light healing techniques. She is also completing three children’s picture books. Mother of four and grandmother to two, she lives by the sea in New England with her husband, surrounded by glorious flowerbeds and birdsong. Find out more at: www.EyeofEagle.org Facebook: facebook.com/leontine/hartzell Instagram: @leontinehartzellshaman Youtube: Leontine Hartzell Youtube: OmajaMusic Read Leontine's powerful story, "Kitchen Help," and return to learn more about Leontine's writing process. ----------Interview by Renee Roberson WOW: Hi Leontine, and welcome! Congratulations on placing in this contest with such a compelling story. I’m fascinated by your work as an energy healer and psychic life coach and know that this can’t be an easy calling. Do you find it difficult to balance the levels of energy you must be processing 24 hours a day in this line of work? Leontine: I've been a full time shamanic energy teacher, healer and psychic intuitive life coach for over 25 years. I love my work, teaching people how to become excellent energy healers, coaching people to live their best lives and bringing healing to individuals and families. No day is ever the same as I work with clients of all ages with a wide variety of issues they want help with. I specialize in soul retrieval, which restores to a person parts of their own energy that they lost because of trauma. It is so exciting to see people heal and create happier lives for themselves! Doing this work is not for the faint of heart. It takes attention and learning to manage the healing energy and sound of Divine Light I work with and the energy of clients and students. I have spent years learning and studying with indigenous shamans and other energy healing teachers and practitioners and learning from the spirit guides that guide and empower all the healing and teaching work I do. There has been a lot to learn and I am still learning! This is a lifelong learning path, which I find fascinating and very fulfilling. It's all about learning how to work with energy and keeping your own vibration in the right alignment. I teach students how to do this, and keep learning new ways that help me too. For me, and for most healers and energy healing teachers, it requires life-style adjustments and spiritual and meditation practices in order to keep my vibration clear and strong so I can be the best teacher and healer I can be. WOW: How long have you been working on your memoir and what is the structure you’ve chosen for it? Leontine: I've been working on my memoir for 2 1/2 years. It's about finding love as a divorced mother who is an intuitive empath and energy healer, who has great success helping clients find love, but has more of a challenge finding love for herself. Each chapter centers on one of the fifteen boyfriends I had in the eighteen years I was single. It covers the highs and lows, missteps, magic and mishaps of romance while on a spiritual path both at home and abroad, interwoven with adventures studying with indigenous shamans. I find the humor in the hope and heartbreak until I finally find the man I marry. WOW: You were short-listed for the 2019 Fish Publishing flash fiction contest with your story, “Bitter Herbs.” Could you tell us more about what the piece was about? Leontine: "Bitter Herbs' is a short piece that was an earlier abbreviated incarnation of "Kitchen Help". Among other things, I am a trained herbalist. The characters in this story know of the many medicinal qualities of hundreds of herbs and plants that grow in the area where they live. This ancient wisdom was so precious to them, and carries a connection to their ancestors and to the power of the earth that plays an important role in their empowerment throughout the rest of the story, which I am having a great time writing. When the main character of this story started telling me about the herbs that were used to heal her, I was immediately captivated! WOW: You mentioned that “Kitchen Help,” came to you in a vision from an ancestral spirit. What was your revision process like following the initial version you wrote down? Leontine: The story that became "Kitchen Help" was told to me by a spirit that appeared to me when I was lying in bed recovering from a smash on my head. I had a terrible headache and was feeling dizzy and unable to do anything but lie down and hope to sleep. All of a sudden the spirit of a woman appeared to me, hovering over my bed. I could see and hear her, and told me to start writing down what she was telling me, which is her life story. I demured, saying I was not feeling well. She insisted. In order to stay true to the spirit and her story, I did minimal revisions on what I had originally written down. With every edit, iIwould ask this spirit if what I changed was alright with her. I still contact her and she is still telling me the rest of her story, which is a powerful testament to courage, love and self-empowerment. WOW: I'm so glad you are assisting in telling her story! You are involved in so many things, coaching, writing, music. How do you find the time to balance them all and decide which projects to focus your energy on? Leontine: I have lots of projects that I work on and I enjoy the challenge of continually creating and producing. I am a very creative person and am gifted with a lot of energy. One of my assistants once told me that I set out to do so much in one day that I must think I was three people. I responded that there are so many interesting and important things to do. In this world, we should not limit ourselves. I have a team of helping compassionate spirits that I work with and communicate with on a daily basis. They are full of wisdom and are part of the Divine energies of the universe. Sometimes they give me ideas of projects, classes, workshops, albums, retreats, writing projects to create. Other times I have ideas and always run my ideas by my spirit team. My helping spirits give me advice, instruction and guidance. It's always interesting, sometimes challenging and, I'm being serious here, an incredible grace and blessing to live the life I'm living. There is never a dull moment! Sometimes I work on different things each day, or for half the day, sometimes I work on certain projects for a few months and then move to another. I do best with a schedule, but it is always in flux. And that schedule always includes meditation time, dance or exercise and walking or being out in nature. I do take breaks and vacations. You have to fill the inner well with peace, nature and rest and restoration, that is a critical practice for any creative soul. I love to create and work with Divine spirit to uplift and heal people and teach others how to be excellent healers. That is the force beneath all of my creative endeavors. As a shamanic practitioner, I work with compassionate helping spirits, who are part of the Divine energies of the universe. My spirit team guides me and I consult with them every day, sometime all day long, for guidance and assistance on all my projects and in all my work. I live to serve Divine Love and make the world a better place. WOW: Thank you again for joining us today. We wish you continued success in all your endeavors and work! (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  3. The Proclaimer's song, I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), gets me bouncing in the car seat every time I hear it on the car radio. I sing aloud loudly (and off-key). If you're unfortunate enough to never have heard it, I've included it at the end. The number 500 hit me hard as I floundered for a way to get out of my rut. A friend asked me the other night, "What's going on with your new book?" I was lucky enough to get Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story published last spring, and am halfway through writing the first draft of a screenplay version, but before that--about five years ago--I started another manuscript. It began as a story about a young man (a student of mine) who was a guitarist and ends up channeling Emmett Till. When I got some criticism because my published book was not #OwnVoices, I switched the main character to a young female teen (I used to be one of those, a century or two ago) who suffered from depression (I did and do) who was a cutter (I never was). I've got 26,000 words down, but it's been gathering dust for a few months. image by Pixabay So when my friend asked, "What's going on with your new book?" I channeled Edwin Starr and his song War when I replied. "Absolutely nuthin'." Since I'm obviously in some muddy rut, I looked up some articles about how to get out of one... how to jumpstart my writing again. There were the usual ideas like schedule a writing time every day (I can't do that; my day is always different and I have some sometimes-daily deadlines looming over me), change the viewpoint of the protagonist (did it) or give myself a reward when I make some goals (I already do that, rewarding my sluggish ways. I'll be big as a barn if I up the number of rewards). Then I hit on one that I think could work. Commit to writing a number of words every day. Which is where the number 500 came in. This is a goal that I think I can keep up, at least most days, because I can squeeze it in in the morning before I go to work, if I'm not already writing some quiz or worksheet at a furious pace to use that day with my students, or I could work on it before going to bed. Initially, I thought of NaNoWriMo numbers, 1,600 + words a day, but that's unrealistic (for me). 500 words is not even a front and back page. And then I returned to a book event I went to this past week. It was cold, but we huddled around a fire pit in a friend's backyard, discussing The Once and Future Witches. Five of us--all women--shared our opinions, our favorite lines, and then we got onto the subject of female power. One writer-reader friend asked each of us, "What witching powers were passed down to you?" When it got to me, the first thing I said was this: "I was the middle daughter of a woman who gave up two daughters. She gave my older sister (Nancy) up for adoption, and Nancy ended up with a mother who was ashamed she had to adopt. I got parents who told me I was chosen, and made me think they looked at hundreds and hundreds of babies before they picked me. Part of my 'witching powers' was the power that comes from being incredibly wanted." This morning, I went directly back to the idea of #OwnVoices... and I restarted my dust-covered story. Only this time, the protagonist is a teen who's grappling with their unknown biological past--along with depression. 26,851 words in my old draft. 141 in my new draft... and as James Brown sang, "I feel good." Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher, a dog rescuer and a novelist. Her first and only book baby (right now) is Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, which can be ordered via Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Sioux's blot is Sioux's Page. (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  4. I recently wrote the newsletter intro for the WOW! January markets e-newsletter, and I came up with the theme that small steps plus small goals can equal big success. Then, in my friend group, we've been texting a lot (on a group chat!) about feeling stagnant in careers and in life. Those conversations, along with my article for the newsletter and my own recent life changes, made me think of this: Empower yourself with small steps. Forward progress of any kind will make you feel better. Stagnation is the enemy of joy and creativity! This past year, I had a job that was not going anywhere--I felt stuck. I knew I needed change, but it's hard being a single mom and living in the U.S. We need health insurance. So I applied at Starbucks, where I only need to work part time to qualify for health insurance. Plus, I can freelance. This would also give me more flexility to help my aging parents. It was a win-win-win plan. Then because I was in this forward motion, one of the companies I freelance for had an open position for a writer, and it's a great job. It has room for growth, a wonderful salary and benefits, and I accepted the job. I start that February 1. None of this would have happened if I wouldn't have made small steps to leave a job that was stressful. I was stuck. I got myself un-stuck, and things happened. This is true in so many areas of our lives, but REALLY true in our writing life. I'm talking to myself here, too, because I have been stuck on a project for about a year now. It's a nonfiction book for teachers and parents, and every time I do pick it up to work on it, I think to myself: This is actually not so bad. Why are you not finishing it? Small steps plus small goals equal big success. I need to listen to my own advice. I've decided while writing this blog post that if I can just get one section completed a week on my book, it will eventually be done. Instead of saying: "I have to work on this book every day." Or "I need to edit the whole thing and finish it now." Or "I still need 52 ideas for this to be complete." One section a week is manageable and forward progress. Stagnation over. This year, my word of the year is joy. I'm looking for joy in every area of my life. And I know it's possible with small steps. I wanted to let you know that I won't be blogging on The Muffin for a while. I'm taking a short break with some of my commitments because I also have a goal NOT to overwhelm myself in 2022. I like to say YES to a million things, and then complain about how exhausted and stressed out I am--all the opposite of JOY. I'm sure I'll be back either here or in the newsletter, but for now, I'm focusing on the new writing position, teaching WOW! classes, finishing my own book, and publishing Editor-911 Books. These are the career things that bring me joy--plus for a while, I'll still be making some chai tea lattes on the weekends at Starbucks. What small steps can you take in your life? In your writing? Or if you don't need this in your personal or professional life, how about your novel or short story characters? Are your characters stuck in your novel? What small steps can they take to get out and get moving? We'd all love to hear about that in the comments! Margo L. Dill is a writer, teacher, editor, and publisher, living in St. Louis, MO, with her dog and her daughter. To sign up for her next writing class on writing for the middle-grade and young-adult reader, starting on January 26, go here now. Her writing a novel with a writing coach class will be on hiatus for a couple months, but you can sign up for the April session here. Find out more about Margo at https://www.margoldill.com, and about Editor-911 Books at https://www.editor-911.com. (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  5. by Caitlin Hamilton Summie Having spent nearly half of my life writing about the same set of characters, I have finally come to the end—the short stories about them are all written, a novel about them is soon to be published (GEOGRAPHIES OF THE HEART, Fomite Press, January 18, 2022). There isn’t another prose piece bubbling about the Macmillan family. My characters have “moved out,” so to speak. It’s weird not to be writing about Sarah, Glennie, and Al, but there is really nothing more to say, and in my mind, I see them walking down a path I cannot follow, out and away, their backs to me as they leave. I imagine them going. They don’t look back. I watch them go, though. All the way to the end of the path. I am in the middle of empty next syndrome. I feel a little lonely but also am relishing parts of this—the extra free time, the knowing that I did my best for my characters, the chance for a quieter mind because I’m not springing up to scribble down a note or check a timeline. What’s next? I have a strong draft of a middle grade novel filed away, and I would love to edit it again and find it a home. I have a professionally edited picture book, ready to submit. But nothing new. I hear no voice coming through in a line, which is where stories always start for me. Here’s the thing about empty next syndrome: overall, I am okay with it. Goodbyes are hard. Change is hard. But I feel peaceful in this new, fallow period of my writing life. I’m putting my feet up, tilting my face back to catch the sun. I am okay with the silence. * * * Caitlin Hamilton Summie earned an MFA with Distinction from Colorado State University, and her short stories have been published in Beloit Fiction Journal, Wisconsin Review, Puerto del Sol, JMWW, Mud Season Review, Belmont Story Review, Hypertext Magazine, and more. Her story collection, TO LAY TO REST OUR GHOSTS, won the fourth annual Phillip H. McMath Book Award, Silver in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award for Short Stories, and was a Pulpwood Queen Book Club Bonus Book. Her debut novel, GEOGRAPHIES OF THE HEART, was inspired by three stories in her collection. She spent many years in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado before settling with her family in Knoxville, Tennessee. She co-owns the book marketing firm, Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, founded in 2003. Find her online at caitlinhamiltonsummie.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! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  6. A peek at one of my fiction shelves. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I know I’m in good company on this blog. Ask for a book recommendation and you’ll get it in spades! But for some reason, while a lot of people found themselves with more time to read during the pandemic, I took that extra time to read and research true crime, mostly in the form of archived newspaper articles, as I worked to launch that passion project. Once it got off the ground, I found that after my work editing and writing for magazines and producing the podcast, there was little time left to read. Or maybe my brain was tired, along with my eyes. Instead, in the evenings I would spend any spare time I had mindlessly watching TV. Last year I tried to get back into reading more. First, I challenged myself to begin reading more diverse books. I’m happy to report I’ve made progress on that. Each of my family members bought me a book for Christmas, and I wondered if they were gently trying to nudge me back into my beloved pasttime. Then I started thinking about all the books I’ve bought over the past few years that I haven’t read (raise your hand if you can relate). Because I’m the type of person who needs accountability, I decided to put the Goodreads app back on my phone. I had to laugh because my profile picture on there was me with my two kids when they were both maybe 5 and 7? They are teenagers now, so it was obvious I hadn’t logged on in quite a while. I signed up for the 2022 Reading Challenge and mulled over how many books I wanted to target for reading. Since I tend to read more over the summer and during holiday breaks, I tried to factor that in. When I said 40, my husband tried to pragmatically step in. “That’s like three a month! Do you think you have time to do all that with your other projects?” This is coming from someone who doesn’t like to read fiction in his spare time, so I waved him off. I typed the goal of 40, knowing I can adjust if it starts to look like I overestimated how much I could read. (By the way, I’ve already read two books this month, one was new, and the other was a re-read of a book I hadn’t picked up in a few years). Then I tried to think of what I had read last year so I could keep a digital record of it on Goodreads. Off the top of my head, I logged in 11 books, but I’m sure I probably read a few more than that. I then went through a few genres I enjoy reading on the app and selected several “want to read” so I have a running list of books I can either purchase or request from the library. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a virtual true crime book club with my podcast, with a combination of true crime and mystery/suspense/thrillers, so I selected some options for that. Today I signed up to be an Amazon affiliate so that when I write book reviews for my blog or send out recommendations in my e-newsletter I can potentially earn a small commission. Last but not least, I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing book reviews for everything I read and posting to my blog, Amazon, and Goodreads. I know how much authors rely on these reviews, and knowing I will potentially sell my own books in the future, I want to support authors whenever I can. Have you set any reading goals for the year? Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and magazine editor who also hosts the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. Learn more at FinishedPages.com. (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  7. Kelli Short Borges is a writer of essays, short stories, and flash fiction. A former reading specialist in the Arizona public school system, Kelli is a life-long reading enthusiast. Although many who know her claim she’s a beaming ray of sunshine, many of Kelli’s stories tend toward the dark and disturbing. In addition to writing, Kelli enjoys hiking the Arizona foothills, photography, and traveling the world in search of adventure. Her work has been published or is forthcoming at Across the Margin, Bright Flash Literary Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, Pure Slush, Drunk Monkeys, and Versification, amongst other publications. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter @KelliBorges2, or visit her website, Kellishortborges.com. interview by Marcia Peterson WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Summer 2021 Flash Fiction competition! What prompted you to enter the contest? Kelli: Thank you so much. It’s such an honor to have my piece selected alongside the writing of so many talented women. I actually stumbled upon the contest while researching places to submit flash fiction. After digging a bit more, I was incredibly impressed with the WOW! community, and wanted to be a part of it all. It was the very first contest I’ve entered, and I was a bit nervous about it. In the end, of course, I took the leap. I’m so glad I did! WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Slither?” Kelli: When I was a freshman in high school, I took the bus to and from school daily. There was a girl who rode with me who would taunt me with a flask full of alcohol before school some mornings. I was seen as super straight-laced by this particular person (and to be honest, I was!). She knew I wouldn't drink it, so she just delighted in making me feel as uncomfortable as possible on those bus rides. Over time she harassed me whenever she had the chance--not just on the bus, but at school or when I would ride my bike past her house. It wasn’t pleasant, but I managed to push the discomfort aside because I had a solid group of really nice friends and enough self-confidence to hold my head up and ultimately ignore her. I’m guessing most people have been similarly tormented at some point in their lives, and the seeds for “Slither” began with this commonality. For anyone who’s ever been bullied, and especially those who have felt powerless, I wanted to flip the script, have the antagonist get her comeuppance. WOW: What do you enjoy about flash fiction writing versus the other kinds of writing that you do? Kelli: Although I enjoy writing all kinds of things, I’ll admit that I’m currently in an "exclusive relationship" with flash fiction. I love the brevity involved, the way a writer can say so much in such a small, compressed space. I love that moment at the end of a really good piece, when your mind is whirring, scrambling to put the pieces together, and suddenly, it’s there, that second when you hold your breath and the truth of it appears, filling the space like magic. It’s just incredibly beautiful. WOW: Can you tell us what projects are you currently working on? What can we plan on seeing from you in the future? Kelli: Currently, I’m continuing to develop and hone some new flash pieces. Over the next year or two I would love to write a Novella in Flash. After that, who knows? A novel may be in my future. We’ll see! WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Kelli. Before you go, do you have a favorite writing tip or piece of advice you can share? Kelli: My number one tip would be don’t be afraid to start. I think allowing yourself to be imperfect, to write an ugly rough draft, to just get something on the page, is incredibly important. No one has to see it but you until you’re ready, so what is there to lose? Next, practice as much as possible. Find time to write, even if it’s just 15-20 minutes at a time. All of those small moments can add up to something big! When you’re ready, share your writing with people you trust. Finally, and I think the importance of this gets overlooked sometimes, take the “business” of writing as seriously as the writing itself. In particular, I’m thinking of marketing your work, which can be absolutely exhausting and time consuming, but is incredibly important if your goal is to be published and share your craft with others. It’s been such a privilege to share my writing with WOW!, and to be a part of an incredible community of women writers. Thank you for the opportunity! **** For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here. (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  8. In my personal and even professional life, I tend to be a little conflict-averse. You won't exactly find me running into the open arms of conflict with my heart wide open. I don't seek it, look for it, and find ways to generate it. However, when it comes to my own writing, I look for it constantly. As I have shared recently, I recently found a new way to revise my stories and I found a hitch in the giddy-up of the story I'm working on as a result. You see, there's not enough conflict. The problem I haven't figured out what my character really wants quite yet. I've explored areas that could reveal what her wants might possibly be, but none so far have felt right. This has left me wondering what could that want be and what could get in the way of her having it. In most books that talk about writing, they usually talk about a character needing a want or motivation or a goal of some kind, and then something gets in the way of that want or motivation to complicate it, thus generating some conflict. I know this, and yet, I haven't quite nailed down my character enough to find out what's her biggest want, goal, or motivation. I love examples, and to help myself resolve them, I've thought of some conflict that has come up in my favorite movies. Here are a couple of conflict examples: Take Office Space for example. Peter's want? Well, he doesn't like his job and he doesn't want to work there anymore. What complicates it? Well, he gets hypnotized into not caring whether he loses his job or not. That's all well and good until his friends who LIKE that job might end up losing theirs, and he ends up keeping his (and even being promoted) despite all his efforts otherwise. If you've seen the movie, you know it gets even more complicated after that. You wonder to yourself as the viewer, how will he get out of his job? How will he help his friends? And so on. Another movie that's one of my favorites is Beauty and the Beast (I'm thinking of the Disney version). Belle's want? To get out of her small French village and have romance and adventure with someone's that isn't a total jerk. What complicates this? Well, her father gets lost in the woods, and then ends up trapped in a castle. Then she goes to find him and then becomes trapped in the castle herself. So now she isn't even stuck in a small village, she's stuck in a castle with an angry beast. You wonder: How will she get out of the castle? What will happen to her? The thing is about conflict is that it isn't just about what happens to the character, I'm realizing that you need to believe that it matters to the character what is happening. It isn't enough that the character is passively experiencing this moment. Like in Office Space, you know that Peter wants to get out of his job but he also wants to help out his friends. The reader has to accept that what is happening to the character has just made it worse for them. Whatever is happening is making it harder for that character to get what they want.So, I'm not any further along than when I started this post, but maybe as I pursue different conflict scenarios for my character, I'll figure out just the right one to help fit my story. How do you figure out the right conflict and complications for your story? (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  9. My last post was about Setting Goals in 2022, and one of the things that I wrote about was the Storystorm idea generation challenge. I have since had a question about how Storystorm works. Are the ideas fairly complete? Or are they something I will have to flesh out later? In all reality, I try not to set too many rules. I look for challenges like Storystorm that are fairly open to interpretation. Some of my ideas are outlines with a character, setting, story problem, and multiple attempts to solve that problem. The science fiction novel for which I am currently writing Act 3 came to me that way. I knew how the story opened. I had my setting and my story problem. I just had to get to know my characters to know how they would attack that problem. Other times I come up with a title. This often happens when I misread something. Since I’m dyslexic, a preview scrolling by can throw me. So can fancy fonts which may be beautiful but can also be tricky to read. I’ll do a double take and realize that it says The Apostle Paul and not The Opossum Paul. That isn’t even close to a complete idea but I still think The Opossum Paul could be a hilarious story. In Melanie Faith’s Graphic Novel Creation class, we are working on characters. My notion has blossomed into an idea for single panel comics. The ideas for these tend to be one line long. Since I know who the primary character is, I only need this one line of text to bring to mind a panel. Other times my idea revolves around a place or person. I write a lot of nonfiction so a simple note to find out about Pickle Springs or Zerubbabel is enough to start my research. So what do you need? Complete ideas or fragments? I don’t know. You’re going to have to tell me. It is all going to depend on how you work and what you are comfortable with. One of my writing friends admitted to me that she works with one idea at a time. She finishes a novel and then goes after her next idea, weaving together bits of this and that before she has a functioning whole. For her to declare something an idea, it has to be fairly complete. I have so many ideas! Way too many to pursue them all. When I don’t write them down, I catch myself running through that day’s ideas. “I need to remember that awesome abandoned church photo, the idea about the Muse, and . . . and . . . what was the guy’s name who invented—" It is just a lot easier if I write them down. Then I can let go and move on to what I’m supposed to be working on that day. And, if this catch and release program doesn’t work and an idea keeps popping into my head, I know it is one that I need to work on as soon as possible. Writing down messy bits and pieces works for me. You may need to wait until you’ve fleshed something out before you feel honest about calling it an idea. As always, the important thing is to find a method that works for you. --SueBE Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 30 books for young readers. To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey. The next session of her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on February 6, 2022). Coping with rejection is one of the topics she will cover in this course. Sue is also the instructor for Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins February 6, 2022) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins February 6, 2022). (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  10. by Lisa Mae DeMasi “Do what you love” may be the most overused advice in the career-improvement world. Countless superstar entrepreneurs’ TEDx talks and thought leaders’ bestselling books have quoted Maya Angelou: “pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.” But that’s not always possible in practice. I know this firsthand. Once upon a time I turned my back on a half-finished MBA and a corporate job’s maddening pace and rigid hierarchy, escaping to do what I loved: writing. The act of quitting made me subversive, and that alone fueled creative expression. I mapped out chapters, content. Figured I’d have the memoir written in six months, employ an editor, find an agent, become a bestseller, Oprah would call, the whole bit. Four years later I found myself gazing into my monitor, not knowing whether to put a period at the end of the sentence or keep going with a comma. I’d lost my home in foreclosure, gone bankrupt, written three hundred thousand words, revised the body of work four times. And while slurping away at my eighty-seventh cosmo, I understood what I was really missing. A mentor. Someone who’d gone before, knew how to shape art into something saleable and would come with a tribe of like-minded potential collaborators. I needed someone to touch what the poet Mary Oliver called the “wild silky” part of myself and, finally, make it palatable to the world. Hemingway had Stein, Beethoven had Neefe. We mere mortals need mentors, too—and we can hire them. But there are thousands of writing coaches out there: some are competent, some are lousy, some are soul crushers. How do you find your coach? 1. Go with the gut: does the coach’s work style and personality jibe with your own? Do her testimonials feel obligatory and ingenuine, or honest and objective? Does she “guarantee she’ll help you write a bestseller”—or provide thorough analysis and work with you to tighten up the manuscript? Listen to your intuition. There are many fantastic coaches with integrity and know-how—don’t get stuck with empty promises. 2. She’s part of your tribe: if you see a potential mentor’s work in a publication you love, or discover her in a group on social media with whom you share a vibe, chances are you have similar taste. I found my coach through my Reiki teacher. My coach had helped a fellow Reiki student get an agent and a book deal with Random House. 3. She has street cred and success: my coach had testimonials from people who had published, made writing careers, and gotten bylines with top media outlets. She was also successful in her own right—an internationally acclaimed author who’d made her living writing. I knew she could trailblaze a path. 4. She gets you, every single part of you: my coach works in the Gateless method, which fuses creative brain science, industry-savvy skills and tools, and radical nurturing to bring domain-changing work into the world In this methodology, a coach leans into your greatest strengths, the energy of the writing, and the power of your work in the world to manifest your singular genius in the form of a book. Through this method, my coach helps all of me rather than just the part of me working on my craft. This might not be your style at all! Some writers crave nurturing, others want firm deadlines. Make sure your coach isn’t just about deliverables, numbers, list-building, ideal clients and great gigs—unless that’s what you want. 5. It doesn’t happen overnight: Anyone who promises the world in thirty days isn’t helping you make lasting change. It took me an eleven-year journey through the trials and tribulations of a writer’s life—finding the time to write in between putting food on the table—to get to the key of mentorship. Something magical did happen with my coach, and while it felt like it happened overnight, it’s too deep and long-lasting for that. Since working with my coach I’ve been shortlisted for prizes, published in the top online media and literary journals, and polished my memoir to pitch literary agents. But more than that, I understand that often, those who fail at doing what they loved just didn’t have the guidance they needed to learn how to soar. What will you do today to obtain the guidance you need to succeed? * * *Lisa is pitching “Calamity Becomes Me” to literary agents, her memoir about survival, told with insight, reflection and laugh out loud moments. She also publishes essays on the writing life and women who inspire her. Her work has been featured in Brevity Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, Memoir Magazine, Horse Network, Writer Advice, and Shark Reef. She lives near Boston, where she writes technology content for VMware, bikes, and rides horses. You can reach her on Twitter and LinkedIn. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 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! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  11. 2022 started with a bang. Or maybe it was more of a thud. It was around three in the morning, pitch black outside, winds howling. And I know us writer types love to use that expression for colorful imagery but in this case, the winds were actually howling. Broken branches were knocking against my house and roof and now wide awake, I began to read (and pray), waiting for the worst of the storm to pass through. An hour or so later, I heard a thud and LOUD cracking. There is nothing quite as terrifying as that cracking sound when you live with ginormous trees all around you. But Libs was quiet, the house was intact, and I figured that a tree had fallen in the woods. I figured wrong. I woke up to another tree down in my yard (the thud and cracking), smashed into my fence (which I’d just repaired six months ago from the last downed tree). And I’m not going to sugar coat it, y’all. Poor Libs heard some pretty discouraging words, along with some words that decent folk shouldn’t use. The tirade ended with me yelling something to the effect of, “Enough! We’re moving!” But as I drank my tea and gazed out my kitchen window into my yard, I began to calm down and first, realize how grateful I was that the tree had fallen into the woods and not on my house. And I looked into those woods, thinking how much I love that view every morning, in every breath-taking season. I love the trees, the river behind them, the deer that wander through them. The woods, and the wildness of my own backyard, bring joy to my life. Which, at least for today, make it worth sticking around. My writing life came to mind, gazing out that window the next morning. Because there are times—and honestly, A LOT of times—when I hear some pretty discouraging words rumbling around in my head. When I get yet another rejection for a submission that I thought was a sure acceptance, I think maybe I’m not such a good writer after all and I should quit wasting my time and energy. When I stand by, watching other writer friends’ accomplishments and I’m going through a terribly long dry spell, I admit that words not suitable for children tumble out of my mouth. And when I spend years coming close to selling a manuscript, only to hear, “Not for me,” again, I want to yell, “Enough! I quit!” But then, I hear from someone—a friend or a reader here at the Muffin—telling me how much they love my writing. Or I sit down with a document in front of me, and the words sing across the page, like a glorious symphony. And I think of the words from Neil Gaiman, the quote my daughter included when she framed the covers of my first two books: “Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” Tomorrow, there may be a downed tree and busted fence in my yard, but there will also be those beautiful woods, refreshing my heart and soul. There may be another rejection in my inbox, but there may also be a note from a friend, sending encouraging words. And my novel-length manuscripts may continue to languish in a dusty cyber file, but when I sit down at my keyboard tonight, it might be a good writing day. And I will laugh out loud, wondering how I could ever quit something that brings me so much joy. So, friends, may your 2022 be filled with good writing days. And may all our trees stay upright! ~Cathy C. Hall(C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  12. Recently, my middle schoolers finished drafting and revising their pioneer pieces. Each of them chose a pioneer--someone who had broken barriers--and had researched, took notes, composed, crafted, edited and revised. They studied how the person had changed the world. They also examined the person's obstacles. Several of my students discovered their person had been told they shouldn't have the dream they dreamed. For example, Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to go into space. However, years ago she was also a kindergartener who said she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. Her kindergarten teacher said, "Mae, I'm sure you mean you want to be a nurse." Mae grew up and became a medical doctor... and then she became an astronaut. Some of my students, in their conclusion, touched upon the idea that everyone has the right to have their own dream, that nobody should be able to tell other people what they will grow up to become... and yet it still happens. image by Pixabay Sometimes it's parents who perhaps unwittingly squash dreams. Maybe they cannot fathom how somebody could make a living off a particular idea, so they try to steer their child in a different direction. For example, there are people who make Youtube videos--and some of them are doing quite well financially. If a kid had said, "I want to make funny little movies for the internet," ten years ago, we probably would laughed or scoffed, figuring it was no way to make a living. But it is. Sometimes it's writing colleagues who don't mean any harm, but do some damage nonetheless. Perhaps you normally write creative nonfiction, and then decide to write outside your box. You write a piece of horror. Or a fluffy romance piece. Or some sci-fi. And when you bring it to the group to share, there's one member who doesn't get it... who's puzzled... who cut it down a bit too roughly--which makes you second-guess yourself. Should I have even tried that? What was I thinking, doing something different? Which makes you return to your box, never to try something new again. Nobody knows exactly what makes up a young person's dream--or an old person's dream, either. Nobody can predict the future to know exactly what will be the next fad in the publishing world. I'm sure if George R. R. Martin had said, "I'm going to write a whole series of books--each one will be big enough to be a doorstop--and it's going to be about kings and queens doing unspeakable things to each other... oh, and there's going to be dragons, too--and it's going to be for adults," people might have laughed. But now? Now Martin is laughing all the way to bank. And nobody knows how strong a person's will is. If a child or a friend has a strong will, if they're packed to the gills with determination, they might just succeed in achieving their dreams. Instead of laughing (even inwardly), try to discover the loops and knots that make up the dream--and encourage rather than discourage... Sioux is a middle school teacher (as she mentioned at the beginning) and savors reading her students' work. She also is a freelance writer (is the proud author of Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story--a historical novel published by a traditional press--Editor-911 Books) and rescues dogs. You can check out more about Sioux on her blog. (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  13. Today I'm excited to interview Ainhoa Palacios, runner up in our Summer 2021 Flash Fiction Contest. Make sure you read her story Chola and then come on back to read the interview. First, let me tell you more about Ainhoa: Ainhoa Palacios was born in Lima, Peru, and moved to the US at the age of six where she was raised by her mother, Abue, and sister. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A. in journalism but soon after remembered it was a different kind of storytelling she loved. Since, her work has been long-listed in Fish Publishing’s Short Memoir contest, come as a finalist in Sunspot Literary Journal’s Rigel 2021 competition, and appeared in publications like Somos En Escrito. Ainhoa currently lives in Shenzhen, China with her two dogs—a wild-eyed husky and tripod miniature pinscher. To connect with Ainhoa, follow her on Instagram @noah_pal_. --- Interview by Nicole Pyles WOW: First, congratulations on winning runner-up! I was pulled in immediately with your story. What was the inspiration behind this story? Ainhoa: In recent years I have started exploring my own experience of growing up as a Latina immigrant in the US. One of the first stories I wrote surrounding this theme was titled "Gringas"—a slang term often used in Latin countries to describe an English-speaking foreign woman (usually a white woman). From that story, the word 'cholas' naturally came next. The story which pulls from my own experiences of wanting to have straight hair and refusing to wear hoop earrings is a reflection of that. I wanted to touch on that sensation of being a teenage girl, feeling the pressure to fit in, while also trying to avoid falling into certain categories. WOW: I think you did a beautiful job portraying that pressure and internal struggle. I thought it was fascinating how you chose 2nd person to tell this story. What made you decide to write it in this way? Ainhoa: What often happens when I begin a story is I just begin without giving much thought to the point of view, but rather the feel and content. I’m just trying to get words on paper. But once I've gotten a general idea down, I'll play with changing the tense. Just trying different ways in my head to see if one works better. This particular story was written in 1st person but something wasn't quite working. I felt it was very dull. I randomly started playing with telling it in 2nd person, read it to a friend who loved it, and knew that was it! WOW: What a moment! It's so unique. I see that you graduated with a degree in Journalism! How did this experience prepare you for creative writing? Ainhoa: My first instinct is to tell someone how journalism pushed me in the direction of creative writing by showing me the type of writing I didn’t want to do. But that’s not all true. The part of my journalism degree, the experience I loved was telling someone’s story creatively. With heart. I think in some ways, all the interviewing, has helped me to think of the kinds of details I want to include in a story. Details I had to notice myself while interviewing someone just for context if nothing else. WOW: It probably helps you develop such strong characters too! How do you know when a story is done? Ainhoa: This one is difficult, and to be honest, I am not sure it ever truly is. I have left stories for months and when I go back to reread them, I’ll almost always find something I want to change. However, for the sake of going forth, I have started to find a comfortable spot to stop. The place where I am comfortable showing the story to someone, receiving feedback, either taking that feedback or deciding not to, and then letting the story go. If it is something I am proud of, can stand behind, I’ll call it complete with, of course, the possibility of always being revisited or expanded in the future. WOW: I feel the same way - there's always something for me to change in a story. It's hard to call it truly complete! What are you currently working on that you can tell us a bit about? Ainhoa: "Cholas" is part of a collection of shorts that have been my main focus this year. Every story is in some way connected to growing up Latina in the US and the themes surrounding it like the feeling of displacement, searching for an identity, and mending broken relationships. I hope the collection can see publication one day! WOW: I hope so too! Congratulations again and we look forward to seeing more from you! (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  14. Very few writers enjoy reading articles and blog posts about the technical aspects of writing. It's much more fun to read the inspiring posts and Cinderella stories--or even how-tos about building better characters or writing an attention-grabbing beginning. However, I recently finished judging some contest entries, and falling down in the technical area can actually be the difference between your piece going to the final round of judging--or not. You can have the best story idea. You can create amazing characters whom readers want for best friends. You might include sensory details and perfect dialogue. But none of that matters if you put too many ellipses, write run-on sentences, or forget to break a conversation into paragraphs. Of course, there are a ton of grammar and punctuation rules, but those three I just mentioned confuse a lot of writers. Let's talk through them. 1. My number one pet peeve is...the overuse...of...ellipses. Ellipses can be used in a quote to show that some words are missing. They can also be used to show a pause or someone trailing off on a thought. Like an exclamation point or adverb, they should be used...sparingly! (I couldn't resist.) For a flash fiction piece, this means using ellipses not at all or one time. You can use a dash or comma to show someone pausing in a line of dialogue. You can use use dialogue tags. You can use periods even. But do yourself a favor, and during revision, cut out those ellipses. 2. The other two are not pet peeves. They are rules. Run-on sentences are often confused with the correct use of phrases, separated by commas, to show that there are a string of thoughts rushing out from the point of view character. But there's a difference between using that technique, and forgetting to punctuate sentences correctly. Mostly try to remember this: if you have two complete sentences next to each other, they need a conjunction and a comma. The other choice is to put a semicolon. Finally, you can put a period and divide those up! Examples:Wrong: Eloise couldn't wait for her job interview for a dream position she tried on five outfits and she asked her loser boyfriend which one was best he didn't like any of them now, she doubted herself.Correct: Eloise couldn't wait for her job interview for a dream position. She tried on five outfits, and she asked her loser boyfriend which one was best; he didn't like any of them. Now, she doublted herself.3. I know this last and final rule I want to discuss can seem like a waste of space on the page, but remember readers, especially if you are writing for under 18, like white space. In a written conversation, every time a new character has a line of dialogue, start a new paragraph. Plus if one person says something, but the other person does an action as a result, that action needs to go in a new paragraph. Here's a correct example: "What led you to apply for this job, Eloise?" Mrs. Smith asked. Eloise crossed and uncrossed her legs. She cleared her throat. Mrs. Smith smiled warmly. "Take your time, please. I know job interviews make people so nervous." "I love children," Eloise finally croaked out. "My dream has always been to have my own preschool classroom, and this job and center are perfect for me." Her voice grew stronger, as she imagined herself in the middle of the room of four-year-old students. Mrs. Smith glanced up and down at Eloise's resume. "You certainly have the experience we're looking for." End scene. It's hard to find your own mistakes. And I don't think you need to hire an editor for every single piece you write and submit somewhere (especially that aren't book-length). But I do think allowing another person to read it and even point out where things seem off is important. If you don't have anyone like this, then let the piece sit for at least a day and create a checklist of your common mistakes to look for when you edit it. After all, you want your piece to be judged on the content and writing style--not the technical errors. Happy writing! Margo L. Dill is an editor, writer, and publisher of Editor-911 Books. To find out more about her, check out www.editor-911.com or www.margoldill.com. Her next WOW! class, Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction, starts on January 26. Check it out here. Photo of pencil above by Pink Sherbert from flickr.com.(C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  15. Congratulations to Michelle Dwyer and It Happened in a Flash and all the winners of our 2021 Quarter 4 Creative Non-Fiction Essay Contest! Here's a little background - did you know Michelle won a WOW! contest over a decade ago too? Talk about an honor - being here today to interview someone with such amazing talent! Be sure to check out her initial interview if you have a moment! Michelle’s Bio: Michelle started out writing fiction decades ago, and recently discovered that she also has much to say in the world of nonfiction. She has published a compilation of short stories and novels using her pen name Krymzen Hall, and is working on establishing her platform in essay under her given name, Michelle Dwyer. By day, Michelle works as a certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Parkinson’s group fitness instructor. By night, and by the crack of dawn, she writes after the world has gone to sleep and right before it awakens. She received her MBA from Texas A&M University Central Texas/Tarleton State University, and her MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, California. She is actively working to rebrand herself in this “new normal” of life. The relaunch of her website, www.krymzenhall.com, will be announced soon. Stay tuned! Michelle lives in Cedar Park, Texas, not too far from her eldest son, whom she affectionately refers to as her Aggie graduate. Her youngest son also attends college in Texas, and they visit often. She is a single parent, and says her daily life of chaos brings out her best writing. If you haven't done so already, check out Michelle's talent in writing with the touching story It Happened in a Flash and then return here for a chat with this talented author. WOW: Thank you for writing this essay and for taking time out of your busy and chaotic (your word) life to chat with us today. I know you're always busy so your time today means a lot to us and our readers, so let's get down to it, shall we? What is the take-away you'd like readers to gain from It Happened in a Flash? Michelle: I think the biggest takeaway is that sometimes you’ll feel like it’s much too hard to find the good people in the world. That’s when you need to keep looking the most. And, if you can’t find a good person, be one. WOW: That's great advice I think everyone should make note of every day, thank you! Speaking of advice - what advice would you give to others (specifically female authors) when it comes to self care? Michelle: Self-care comes in many forms. It doesn’t have to be a 30min meditation session--although that is great, and I think everyone should meditate. Self-care can be a simple as reading a short, inspiring poem, or taking a long hot bath with aromatherapy and doing nothing else but sitting in the tub. Lighting a candle can be self-care. The trick is consistency, especially for writers because we can never seem to turn off our brains (even when we’re not writing). Overall, I think the best self-care for us women writers involves silencing all sources of noise, except naturals sounds, birds, etc., at least a few minutes a day. Turn off the phone, the social media, and just sit. Sometimes that seems hard. I know. I transformed one of my closets into a small room where I can just be free of the world. WOW: Your closets must be bigger than mine - but that sounds absolutely fabulous! What fabulous advice and a great idea! What’s next for you? What are your writing goals for the remainder of 2021 and beyond? Michelle: In 2022, I am going all in on my writing journey. That’s vague, right? I’m blitzing it. I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve put too many things before the craft. My sons are grown, they are on their own. Even though they still need Mama, they are independent, and I am ready to go full-throttle after my dreams now. Stay tuned. WOW: That's definitely vague yet so incredibly exciting! We will be holding our breath waiting to hear more, but for now, tell us where you write if you would? What does your space look like? Michelle: I’ve learned through my busy life to write anywhere I can get comfortable. Before the fire, I had my own little writing world in my house. Now that’s gone. I have a sunroom that I have converted into my own little space, and that is working pretty-well for now. It probably won’t work permanently though, because I like my writing space to be private, funky, and weird like me. You know, anything from vision boards to crazy masks on the walls. WOW: Funky and weird sounds like a lot of fun - there's no shame in being weird! Do you have advice for your younger self when it comes to making decisions, believing in yourself, and/or writing? What would your current self say to the younger you? Michelle: The biggest advice I can give to younger writers is that you must be strong when people try to dissuade you from taking on a life that isn’t “normal”. What is normal anyway? Work hard. Practice self-care. Meditate as I said earlier because that will help you stay calm when you get challenged. Stay grounded. You’ll still have bills to pay. But don’t let anybody tell you that going after your dreams is a waste time. I mean, let’s say it is—which it isn’t—but—wouldn’t you rather have wasted your time than wasted your life? WOW: Thank you ever so much for sharing your essay, and your time with us today! We look forward to more from you in 2022 and beyond! Interviewed by Crystal Otto who just keeps on keeping on! Check out the latest Contests:http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php(C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  16. by Bethany Jarmul Midnight black, charcoal gray, metallic cobalt—for the last 15 years, whenever I wanted my eyes to pop, I pulled out an eyeliner pencil and in one minute, I’d have perfectly outlined lids. A year ago, I bought liquid eyeliner for the first time. Despite reading the instructions and my confidence in my skills, my lines looked jagged instead of smooth. It just takes practice, I thought. Months later, I wasn’t getting any better. I pulled up an instructional video and discovered I was holding the applicator incorrectly. Once I corrected this, it just clicked. Similarly, I’ve been writing for many years, first with a purple gel pen in a Lisa Frank journal, later fingers flying on a silver laptop. Having worked as a magazine writer and a marketing copywriter, when I decided, at the beginning of 2021, to write personal essays, I didn’t think I needed much guidance. I read essays published in online journals. I read Lee Gutkind’s You Can’t Make This Stuff Up and Kate Hopper’s Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mother’s. Then I opened up a blank page and started typing. I wrote a few pieces, sent them out to literary journals, only to receive one rejection after another. I had the base ingredients for chili, but I was missing the paprika and cayenne—the oomph. Soon after, I stumbled upon WOW! Women on Writing and decided to take Chelsey Clammer’s class “Not What But How: Improving Essays with a Focus on Craft, Not Content.” During the 4-week course, we explored different essay structures—lyric, segmented, braided, hermit crab (that last one reminded me of my childhood pet crustaceans who liked to eat a piece of popcorn as a late-night snack.) We learned to play with the voice and rhythm of an essay and experiment with POVs. I received feedback from Chelsey that helped me to refine my writing, distilling it from corn to moonshine. I did not need to discard all that I had learned about writing up to that point, but I did need to grow as a writer. A voracious student, I wanted to soak up every drop of knowledge. (I was either Chelsey’s favorite or least favorite pupil that session, because I emailed her at least eight questions about writing before the class began.) During Chelsey’s class, I received my first acceptance email from a literary journal, a bright green “accepted” rectangle on Submittable. Since then, each new essay or poem that I get published becomes my fuel to keep learning, keep reading, keep writing. * * * Bethany Jarmul is a writer and work-from-home mom. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Literary Mama, Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, Sky Island Journal, and Allium, A Journal of Poetry & Prose. She grew up in the hills of West Virginia and lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two kids. Connect with her on Instagram or Twitter: @bethanyjarmul. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 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! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  17. Back in May, I shared a blog post about Essay Ideas for Prospective College Students. I’m happy to report my daughter turned in her last college application this week (she applied to seven schools in all) and she’s been happily playing her flute around the house ever since (she does that when she’s looking to relax or wants to share music with people online). I’ll admit the whole process was a struggle! We didn’t realize we probably should have hired an independent admissions consultant to help her manage the essays, deadlines, and other thousand tiny little details. With my husband and I being so busy with work, we missed how overwhelmed the process became for her and she couldn't get to a few big scholarship deadlines in the process. She gained a lot of insight on how hard writers have it when they are under a deadline and can’t quite get the words out! (Now, with my son, who is currently a sophomore, we envision him applying to the three largest state schools and then declaring himself done. That’s fine—but I’m still having him begin an essay file this summer!) Here are a few essay topics she decided on. I’m going to be slightly vague on titles and content because some of these schools are still processing her applications. For her main essay that went to all the schools, 650 words max, she wrote about discovering she’s ambidextrous and how it has affected both her personal and school life. She’s battled sensory issues and heard things like “You can’t write with both left and right hands!” Or “How are you good at both English AND science and math?” She first submitted a draft of this essay to the WOW! Creative Nonfiction Contest and was thrilled when it advanced past the first round. She took the edits from her critique to help make it a stronger piece. Another essay wanted her to talk about herself as a person and as a student, and it’s a private college that is seeking out students with a wide range of educational and extracurricular interests. This is a prompt where you can get really creative. She took the 450 words to explain how she first came to love the piccolo and how it requires both individual effort and collaboration with other members of a band to be successfully played. Not everyone “gets” the piccolo and it can often be misunderstood! That one was colorful, descriptive, and she was pleased with how it turned out. For my son, he went on an epic hiking and backpacking adventure to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico this past summer with his Boy Scout troop. As you can imagine, he faced numerous physical and mental challenges on that journey, and we’ve already encouraged him to jot down some essay ideas from that experience. He’s also a runner, which lends itself to even more ideas. He tends to be more of a humorous writer than his sister, so I’m going to suggest he channel his love of memorizing sports stats into some sort of funny essay that describes his personality. There you have it. It wasn’t easy, but I’m proud of my daughter and the work she produced to showcase her readiness for college. There are a lot of things I wish I’d done differently as a parent to help prepare her more, but we learned our lesson! Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also hosts the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas.(C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  18. I’m an idea person. It might take me a moment to get started, but ask me for ideas for a blog post, a picture book, or a series and soon I’ll have a column of ideas on the page. They won’t all be great, but they will be many. I have a similar problem when it comes time to set goals or resolutions for the coming year. I’m going to finish a novel, a graphic novel, and a memoir. I’ll submit my work to two agents a week and . . . on and on, I go. I’m not denying the importance of goals, but they have to be goals that work for you. We are each wired differently. We each have different circumstances. Me? I’m a full time writer. I write work-for-hire for the educational market. This means that I work under contract for up to three months and then . . . nothing. That nothing might be for a day, a week, or a solid month, but the work will come again and when it does come there is usually a lot of it. My goals go by the wayside. So I’ve decided that this year I’m going to attempt smaller goals. This month, I have four. I am taking Melanie Faith’s class on writing graphic novels. You can find information on that WOW class here. It starts on the 14th. I’m taking part in Storystorm, generating 30 picture book ideas in 31 days. So far I have 6 ideas in my notebook and probably another four or five that I’ve e-mailed to myself. I’m working on an educational series pitch for Kane Press. This is in the early stages. I’m currently reading their books and looking at what other publishers have done. I’m writing Act 3 of my middle grade novel, tracking my word count on NaNoWriMo. You can set up a project any time which means that you can work for a week or three months. You also set your word count goal and the program helps keep track of your progress. I have to tell you, stopping at four goals was tough. Why? Because I could also submit to two agents and send in my resume to two more educational publishers. I could finish cleaning off an organizing the bookshelves in my office. I need to work on my mystery. Those picture book ideas will need drafting, and… Once the ideas start to flow, they flow. I may be a goal oriented person, but if the list is too long, I know I won’t be able to get it done before another assignment comes along. Smaller goals are more manageable for me and the way that I work. What works best for you? --SueBE Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 30 books for young readers. To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey. The next session of her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on February 6, 2022). Coping with rejection is one of the topics she will cover in this course. Sue is also the instructor for Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins February 6, 2022) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins February 6, 2022). (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  19. Kiara’s Bio: Part-time pop music enthusiast and full-time bookworm, Kiara is a junior at the University of Central Florida. Aside from writing short stories and working on her first novel, Solace At Your Door, Kiara writes nonfiction articles for Her Campus UCF. She hopes to one day publish several novels and work in public relations in the entertainment industry. You can follow her on Instagram (@almondzar) or Twitter (@gotosleepkiara) to keep up with her writing journey. If you haven't read "A Haunted Girl Meets Her Fate," click through and experience her story. Then come back here to read about how Kiara created it. ----------interview with Sue Bradford Edwards---------- WOW: What inspired “A Haunted Girl Meets Her Fate”? Kiara: Like most of my writing, A Haunted Girl Meets Her Fate is inspired by fractions of whole pieces. I took a lot of inspiration from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Shastra Deo, interviewed by Sumudu Samarawickrama in Liminal Mag, The Haunting of Hill House Netflix Original, and Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour. I took a lot of inspiration from my own life as well, and the moments where my depression wouldn’t let me get out of bed. In those moments, I felt a lot of grief, but I could never really explain why to other people. The main character, Kaya, is haunted by memories of her past manifesting into this entity that reminds her both that she is not alone and that she is as alone as she’ll ever be. I had a lot of moments in my life where I felt the same: I was content with being alone but the loneliness was suffocating. WOW: Thank you for discussing mental health so openly. It is still such a taboo topic in our society. How did you decide on the vehicle of a ghost story to tell this story about mental health? Kiara: I became obsessed with the idea of ghosts as a tragedy rather than as frightening. As a horror movie fanatic, I’ve always noticed that ghosts present a certain kind of tragedy that the protagonists in the film never quite understand. Ghosts are ultimately reminders of the past-- no matter how big and scary you make them out to be. WOW: A big part of writing is rewriting. How did this story change during the rewrite phase? Kiara: This story is actually a cut-down version of an unfinished, longer story of a girl who is haunted. The longer story was meant to give the ghost more character, weaving into Kaya’s life like she belonged there, becoming the second half of Kaya herself. However, I could never quite get it to work. When I cut it down, I felt that the story I wanted to write had to be much simpler than what I had been trying to come up with. Sometimes the less that is said, the better. WOW: According to your bio, you write both nonfiction articles and short stories and you are working on a novel. What do your immediate writing plans include? Kiara: I like to write nonfiction commentary articles on the side because, like most writers, my brain does not shut up! I’m currently working on the second draft of my novel, Solace at your Door, which has been my baby since I left high school. I guess, for now, I’m just trying to write as much as I can, regardless of whether anyone listens. Sometimes an idea for a story pops up and I write quick notes, but my novel is really my long-term focus as of now. WOW: I think a lot of writers know what you mean about your brain never shutting off. Many of our readers create work that somehow reflects their daily life. How does your experience as a student inform your writing? Kiara: As a student, there are so many highs and lows of daily life. I go to school away from home, and while I’ve cultivated my own life with my own friends at school, I still sense an immediate loneliness when I am on my own for too long. Learning to be by myself has made me a more introspective person and I’ve learned that my aloneness and loneliness are separate. WOW: That's probably something that a lot of writers can identify with as so many people are isolating. Thank you for taking time out of your holiday to share your insights with our readers. Good luck on your upcoming semester! (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  20. Robert Hoffman has been enjoying a WOW! Women on Writing Book Blog Tour for his newest work - a book titled Blind Spot. Blind Spot is certainly not Hoffman's first attempt at writing as you'll see in his bio, but it is his first time touring with WOW! and we are excited to wrap up his tour with a special guest post here on the Muffin today as he promotes this humorous work of fiction. Thank you to David Kalish who previously toured with WOW! and sent Rob our way. We love and appreciate referrals! And without further chit chat - here's a fabulous article titled: Aren't We All Just a Little Bit Selfish? Few insults sting quite as badly as having somebody call you selfish. Being selfish is literally one of the worst things that we as humans can be charged with. It invokes images of immaturity, childishness, and social unawareness. We envision the spoiled child raised by clueless and ill-prepared parents. Yes, to be selfish is to be labeled as somebody who can’t be trusted to do the right thing, or be dependable. We don’t associate a selfish individual with being a good spouse or friend, but somebody perhaps to keep at arms distance. Even in our development as children, overcoming self-centeredness is viewed as a key cornerstone in cognitive development. The preoperational stage of Piaget’s theory on cognitive development explains that before a child can move on to the next phase of development, the concrete-operational stage, he or she must get past their egocentrism, and consider the view of other people. Therefore to be labeled as “selfish,” is literally to be considered one who is in a state of arrested development. The thing is, most successful individuals are selfish to some extent, they have to be. In order to achieve any sort of accomplishment in this world, or master a skill, or hone your abilities, one must put aside, at least for a time, the needs of others as one focuses on their own goals. In this light, can’t we at least consider that a healthy streak of selfishness is vital to achieving the accomplishments that we set out for ourselves? In my novel, Blind Spot, the sin of which my protagonist Doug Kaplan suffers from is none other than this label of being selfish. He is a man who has always tended to his needs first before considering the needs of others around him. Doug not only tends to prioritize his own happiness before considering the happiness of others, he also tries to avoid all of the things in life that make him unhappy without considering the unintended consequences that this may cause for others in his life. All throughout his life, people close to Doug have tried to make him aware of this ugly facet of his personality, however, try as they may, Doug is unable or unwilling to see it. Instead, he sees himself as a good husband, father, son, son-in-law, and a successful provider for his family. He rarely goes out with his friends, and is committed to being with his family and taking care of his elderly parents or in-laws. How could he possibly be selfish? It is this “blind spot” that Doug has to his personality flaws that may indeed bring down everything he has worked for. His unfortunate incident with his dreaded neighbor, Trudy Fleischmann, the elderly German immigrant who is the bane of his existence has unveiled for the world to see all of Doug’s ugliest character flaws, and it threatens to bring his entire “house of cards,” down on top of him. Is Doug capable of putting aside his instincts for being selfish, the instincts that he has relied upon throughout his life to survive and accomplish the goals he has set out for himself now that his career and marriage hang in the balance? ...and now that we've enjoyed today's post, let's learn a bit more from the author himself about Blind Spot: In this comedy/drama, based very, very loosely on my own experiences, a middle-aged father of three named Doug Kaplan appears to have it all. An attractive and supportive wife, three healthy boys, and a successful career. He doesn’t shy away from his responsibilities as a father or as a son to his aging parents, and he is valued and respected at work. However, all his life he has been plagued by the accusation that he does suffer from one significant character flaw, a subtle but substantial penchant for being selfish, a flaw that he is largely oblivious to. Doug Kaplan’s life was progressing about as well as he could have hoped for. In addition to his loving wife and family, he and his wife Kelly had finally purchased a house in lovely Seaford, Long Island, and while it may have been a fixer-upper, it was still going to be their dream home. Despite his selfish streak, which by his wife’s own admission could be off-putting, he might never have found his blessed existence sidetracked, until he encountered the elderly woman next door who proved to be a seemingly unavoidable obstacle. Who knew that their home on the cul-de-sac known as McGregor Court would be nestled next to the biggest know-it-all and budinsky in the entire Metropolitan area. Yes, Trudy Fleischmann was a force to be reckoned with. Emigrated from Germany as a little girl at the end of World War Two, Trudy has known suffering and sacrifice, but she is also wise and caring, and why shouldn’t she share her knowledge and opinions with the young couple who has just moved in next door. Already having to look after Kelly’s widowed mother as well as their growing family, Doug and Kelly end up seeing their responsibilities increase exponentially as not only does Trudy’s husband Burt die, and remove the one pleasant buffer that lay between Doug and Trudy, but Doug’s father passes as well, and now he and Kelly must provide care for three elderly widows as well as their three young boys. However Doug’s entire existence will become, much to his chagrin, inextricably tied to Trudy after he accidentally runs her over with his car one beautiful summer’s day in a supermarket parking lot. Can Doug overcome his selfishness and provide the care and patience that the badly injured Trudy requires? Doug’s family, career, and sense of who he is as a person are all on the line as he tries to summon his better angels and do the right thing. The Blind Spot is available on Amazon and Bookshop.org. Make sure to add it to your GoodReads reading list too. Who is Robert Hoffman? It’s about time somebody asked that question. Rob Hoffman is originally from a town on Long Island called North Massapequa. He attended SUNY Oswego where he majored in Communications, a degree that it turned out he had little use for. He did however meet the woman who would eventually become my wife, the former Michelle Lindell. Rob and Michelle lived in the aptly named Flushing, Queens for six years before moving to a town called Clifton Park, New York just south of Saratoga Springs. Finding little value in his degree in communications, Rob became a social studies teacher, teaching in Long Island City, Queens for four years before spending the remainder of his career in Rensselaer, New York, a small city on the banks of the Hudson River just across the water from Albany. Rob taught for 31 years before retiring in June of 2021, only to come back as a part-time teacher in September of 2021 at Rensselaer High School. Rob had always been interested in becoming a writer and he began his blogging career as a contributor at the “Times Union” of Albany for six years. In this time Rob also blogged for a variety of sites including Fark.com, Crooks and Liars.com, Albany.com, and Knees and Fists.com. Rob has remained happily married to Michelle for 34 years and counting, and has two grown sons, Andrew and Alex, ages 29 and 23. Most recently, Rob and Michelle became grandparents to the newest addition to the family, Sam Hoffman, son of Andrew and his wife Katie. Blind Spot represents Rob’s first true attempt at writing fiction, an experience Rob both fun and exhausting. Rob had thrown around several ideas as he began to think about what it was he wanted to write about, and then one day his wife had sent him to the supermarket on an errand where he saw somebody he really didn’t want to spend anytime talking to, so he raced out of the store, got in his car, turned it on, slammed it into reverse and was about to speed out of the spot when he stopped himself and said, “Dumb-ass, be careful, you could hit somebody.” Then, as Rob began to slowly and carefully pull out of his parking spot, he thought for another second and it occurred to him how ironic it would be if he accidentally hit the person he was trying to get away from and “Blind Spot” was born. The character of Doug Kaplan, while not autobiographical, is sort of based on the best and worst of Rob’s traits. Doug is at times the guy Rob always wanted to be, and yet at the same time, Doug also represented the guy Rob was relieved to know he never became. The other characters according to Rob are combinations of people that he knew from his childhood, as well as college and work experiences. Follow the author online at: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robert.s.hoffman.7/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/burtpurdy Linked-in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-hoffman-43999348/ Instagram: @hoffman_files Website: https://thehoffmanfiles.wixsite.com/website --- Blog Tour Calendar November 22nd @ The Muffin Join us at The Muffin for an author interview, giveaway, and blog tour launch post for Robert Hoffman's The Blind Spot. https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/ November 23rd @ Lisa Haselton Book Reviews and Interviews Today, Lisa Haselton interviews Robert Hoffman about his humorous work of fiction titled Blind Spot. Find out more about this debut novel and it's author! https://lisahaselton.com/blog/ November 24th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples Readers at Choices will hear from guest author Robert Hoffman with his post titled " Man Plans and God Laughs. " Don't miss this guest post and an opportunity to hear about Hoffman's debut novel Blind Spot. http://madelinesharples.com/ November 26th @ The Faerie Review The Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman is the highlighted book today at the Faerie Review - don't miss a chance to learn more this work of humorous fiction by an accomplished blogger! https://www.thefaeriereview.com/ November 29th @ Word Magic with Fiona Ingram Robert Hoffman pens today's guest post at Word Magic (fellow author Fiona Ingram's blog). Don't miss this great article titled: "Sorry isn't Enough" and an opportunity to learn more about Robert and his latest work of humorous fiction - Blind Spot. http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com December 2nd @ The Knotty NeedleJudy reviews Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman for readers at the Knotty Needle. Don't miss this opportunity find out more about Hoffman's humorous work of fiction! https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/ December 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird "Do I Have a Story to Tell" is today's post at Beverley A. Baird. This post is penned by none other than Robert Hoffman who recently released Blind Spot, a humorous novel readers are raving about! Don't miss your chance to learn more from Hoffman himself! https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/ December 4th @ Author Anthony Avina Readers at Anthony's blog will delight in today's guest post "Woulda Coulda Shoulda" by author Robert Hoffman. Don't miss this guest post and opportunity to learn more about Hoffman's new book Blind Spot. Stop back in a few days (on the 11th) to read Author Anthony Avina's review of "The Blind" spot as well! http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com December 7th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles Readers at World of My Imagination are in for a special treat! Not only is Nicole going to review Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman, but she also will be offering a giveaway! This is your chance to learn more about this humorous book and maybe even snag a copy of your own!https://worldofmyimagination.com December 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto Crystal Otto reviews Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman for readers at Bring on Lemons - Otto has hinted that she would give this book 5 stars and said "it made me laugh out loud so often" - so don't miss your chance to hear more about this debut novel! http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/ December 11th @ Author Anthony Avina Fellow Author Anthony Avina reviews "Blind Spot" by Robert Hoffman.http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com December 14th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro Fellow Author Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her thoughts about Robert Hoffman's Blind Spot. Find out what an accomplished Memoirist and Psychotherapist thinks of this humorous work of fiction. http://applemanshapiro.com/category/book-reviews/ December 15th @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte Michelle DelPonte, a Wisconsin mother, healthcare worker, autism advocate, and history buff shares her review of Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman. You won't want to miss Michelle's insight into this humorous book! http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/ December 16th @ Bring on Lemons with 14 Year Old Carmen Otto 14 year old Carmen Otto heard her mom laughing out loud while reading Blind Spot and couldn't help from grabbing a copy to read for herself. Find out what a young reader things of this debut novel by Robert Hoffman!http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/ December 18th @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen Wisconsin business owner and educator Cathy Hansen offers insight into what she thought after reading Robert Hoffman's debut novel Blind Spot. Will this be a lemon or sweet lemonade? Stop by Bring on Lemons to find out! http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/ TODAY!!! January 3rd @ The Muffin Stop by The Muffin Blog today and hear from Robert Hoffman as he pens his guest post titled "Aren't We All Just a Little Bit Selfish?" just in time for the New Year! Learn more about this topic as well as Hoffman's novel Blind Spot! (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  21. Jenna is a UK-based writer and performer, who uses comedy to talk about lesbian culture, travel, and her rather inconvenient mental health issues. She is currently writing a book of humorous essays and can be seen on YouTube performing sketches and generally being very silly. When she’s not writing or generally being very silly, she’s either watching tennis, reading a book or trying to teach her guinea pigs not to poo in their food bowl. Read and watch all of her shenanigans on Facebook or on her website: www.jennawimshurst.com Read Jenna's essay"I Am a Doughnut Bumper" here, and then return for an interview with the author. ----------Interview by Renee Roberson WOW: Hi Jenna, and welcome! Congratulations on placing in the contest with this poignantly honest essay. We're curious to know when you first realized you had a gift for writing? Jenna: I've always been a bit rubbish at speaking words, but luckily when I was in my late teens I realised that I was quite good at writing them. I started writing properly when I was at university doing a film degree, where my essays were better than my films! So, after I graduated I ditched the filming and continued to write before getting into stand up comedy and then starting to write books and blogs. WOW: What advice would you offer aspiring humor writers who aren’t sure if their material is funny enough? Jenna: Write what YOU think is funny, not what you think other people will find funny. Also, read a lot, whether it's good or bad, sometimes you learn from the bad stuff more than the good stuff! I like to keep a notebook with me, so I can write down little funny ideas and things I think of or notice as this is a great way to generate ideas and keep the comedy muscle working. Also, ask people to read your writing, it's even better if you can watch them while they read, so you can see where they laughed, smiled and fell asleep. WOW: Writing satire is definitely an art form. What was your initial writing and editing process for both of your books, “The Suicides’ and “How to Be a Lesbian?” Jenna: With my book "The Suicides," I started with an initial idea of someone who helps others commit suicide (not a normal topic for comedy!) and then I grew the story and characters out from there. With "How To Be a Lesbian," that was a lot more fun and light, it's a satirical book about how to be a stereotypical lesbian, so the writing process started with me brainstorming every lesbian stereotype I could possibly think of, finding some connections and then mocking those stereotypes. WOW: Your bio mentions your “rather inconvenient mental health issues.” I know a lot of us can relate to those. How has writing served as therapy when working through some of those issues? Jenna: Writing definitely helps with my depression and anxiety issues. When I'm having a particularly crap time with my mental health everything seems bad, but when I write down how I'm feeling I feel a little bit stronger because the thoughts are no longer just abstract monsters running around in my head-- they're now actual sentences that I can view from a different perspective. WOW: I laughed out loud several times during your YouTube video “Breaking Up with Kate Winslet.” Where do you get your ideas for your comedy sketches in those videos? Jenna: Sometimes the ideas just come when I'm out walking, or daydreaming, but a lot of the time they are just based in truth. I DO love Kate Winslet and I was inspired to do an interview sketch with her after watching some of Randy Rainbow's videos (which are amazing). Watching other people's sketches and videos inspires me a lot. WOW: Yes, Randy Rainbow's stuff is out of this world! Thanks again for joining us today, Jenna, and Write On!(C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  22. As we emerge from that weird stage between Christmas and New Year's Eve that feels like one long day and step forward into a new year, many of us are making goals and resolutions. It's funny, for my day job, I wrote a large collection of blog posts for a few client's sites all about the topic of resolutions, so why not do one for WOW? I'm not one for setting too many goals for the year ahead. Too many things can change, and I'm often far more optimistic than how things really turn out for the year. However, that won't stop me from making some. And as I contemplate which resolution is right for me this year, I thought I'd share a few ideas with you. Just in case you need a resolution or two (I won't tell anyone if you borrow one of mine). Resolve to Submit More.I think this will be one of my top resolutions for the year. Yesterday, I got a boost in confidence because I received a *positive* rejection for a story I had brought back into the revision process. The person said that my story had made it to the "editorial table." That gave me hope. Much, much needed hope. So, I have now three stories I feel strongly about submitting out to the world, and my resolution is to submit them more often than I have been doing. So, if you haven't done much submitting, keep it up! Make it your goal to submit regularly each month. Write every day. I know, I know, me and every other writer advises this as a great resolution. So stop rolling your eyes. Hey, I said stop it. But if you've tried writing every day and it just doesn't work, try a different approach. I read once that someone wrote about 100 words a day and it ended up working out great for them. The logic was that you usually end up writing way more than you think. So start writing about 100 words a day. If that straight up doesn't work for you - and you've tried - then take on another approach I've attempted: commit one act of writing per day. It could be revising, submitting, or fresh new writing. Read more. At the start of the pandemic, I realized I just wasn't reading like I used to. And it wasn't until this year that I really got back into reading again. Sometimes my approach with books is a little like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and that's okay. If you aren't reading as much, take that on as a resolution. It goes without saying that reading influences our writing, and this is a wonderful goal to have for the new year. You don't even need to commit to anything on GoodReads, your reading goal could be as simple as one book a month. If you are having a hard time finding good books, keep trying, keep looking. It sounds weird but try reading at different times of the day. Pick up a book early in the morning instead of at night. Maybe try reading during your lunch break. I find that my mind frame with books changes according to the time of day (as weird as that sounds) and I seem to be more open to reading if I read during the day than at night. Alright, that's all I have for you today! So, Happy New Year, and I hope and pray that all of you step forward into the new year with hope and joy. 2021 was so hard for many of us, myself included, but I am a huge believer in being as optimistic as I can manage. Here's to a new trip around the sun!(C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  23. This is the time of year when I do a lot of thinking. And I don’t mean like when my kids were small and I’d try to take a tiny nap and tell them not to disturb Mommy because she is thinking. I mean, sure, my eyes are sometimes closed and I will often fall asleep during all this ruminating, but honestly, I’m seriously thinking. It’s important, this thinking. I will start with taking a look at what I’ve done in the past year and that informs new dreams, new plans. Because dreams do change, y’all, but how often do we take the time to really think of how we’ve changed and how that impacts our wants and needs and goals or dreams? Certainly, my writing career has come a long way from where it started. When I left teaching, the principal of the middle school where I worked asked what my plans were, and at that point, my “plans” were to write. But I sensed she was expecting me to say something a bit more substantive, more impressive, if you will, and so I blurted out, “I’ve got an idea for a novel, a cozy mystery.” And the principal must have been truly impressed since she announced my plans at the end-of-the-school-year gathering. Everyone clapped and I tried to crawl under my chair. A novel? What was I thinking, saying I planned to write a novel? Well, I wasn’t thinking at all. I read an awful lot of mysteries and believed I could write a mystery novel, if I put my mind to it. And I actually did attempt a novel that first year. But after ten or so pages, and slap out of ideas, I was done. Good heavens, how did authors get an entire novel written? My end-of-year thinking pushed me toward flash fiction and essay-writing and I became a better story-teller. I used those skills to try my hand at web content and though I made a steady income, my thinking about that sort of writing made me realize that the money wasn’t worth the dream-sucking work. Throughout the many years, taking the time to think about what I was enjoying in my writing (my dreams) and weighing the pros and cons of different projects (the reality) has led me down lots and lots of varied writing paths, some wonderful and some, not so much. There are those of you who hold steadfast to your original writing dreams through all your ups and downs, both personal and business. And that’s the right way for you. But if you’re facing dissatisfaction, ennui, or even a writer’s block that’s more like a boulder, maybe this is the year to do some serious thinking. Ponder what you love in your writing, what you want in your writing career. Then think a bit more concretely about what it will take to get there. Are there habits you need to develop, or even bad habits you need to drop? Classes you could take? Webinars to attend? How will you spend your money on your career? How can you make money with writing? Is the money important to you? If not, what is important? See how a little thinking can lead to who-knows-where? There's the adventure, the excitement, friends, so happy thinking and happy writing in 2022! (And P.S. Where I am now is back to the beginning, writing a cozy mystery, and finally able to bring together enough words and ideas to complete it! I wonder if anyone sitting in that school cafeteria will see my hopefully-published novel one day and say, “Didn’t Cathy Hall start working on that book fifteen years ago?” And I will say, “Yes. Yes, I did!”) ~Cathy C. Hall(C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  24. by Leah Claire Kaminski Open any writer’s notebook and you’ll find a unique ecosystem, populated with lists (of books, birds), quotations, diary entries, overheard dialogue, memories sparked, striking images, sketches, and memorabilia. Some notebooks might even contain actual writing! Ask any writer how they use their notebook, and you’ll get a different answer. Amit Chauduri writes back to front—notes at the back, with the first pages free in case he starts a novel. Carolyn Forché periodically transfers the sparkiest passages from past notebooks into a new one, which becomes dense with poetic possibility. While they fill them assiduously, many writers don’t use all of what goes into their notebooks. Much of what enters my own notebooks never leaves. Joan Didion, who wrote a whole essay on notebooks, said that her old notes “seem marginal at best.” But the list of famous writers who keep notebooks is nearly as long as the list of famous writers: not just Didion and Forché, but Thomas Hardy, Henry James, John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, and on and on. So they must be on to something. If not as a record to return to, or fruitful ground bearing the rough drafts of their next masterpiece, why do writers keep notebooks at all? It’s helpful to think of your notebook not as a curated repository for your undiscardable thoughts but as an integral part of a private process: your mind thinking on paper. Novelist Lawrence Norfolk says of his notebook that while it may not be useful in a utilitarian sense, it’s significant because “work passes through it on the way to becoming something else.” However you use it, your notebook is the surest portal into yourself as a writer. It’s not a library you must keep organized, but a doorway you must keep open, to keep writing vivid and alive in your life. Convinced? Good. Here’s a few thoughts to get you started in your habit: The Format: Sketch book, Word document, or scratch paper? Lined or unlined? I use apps when I must—typing and recording—but I usually use an unlined, softcover Moleskine. There’s a reason most writers use physical journals. “To me, typing is like work,” Neil Gaiman said, while “writing with a pen is like playing.” More scientifically, handwriting (versus typing) can connect us more deeply to our emotions. Virginia Berninger, a professor at the University of Washington, explains that “when we write a letter of the alphabet…that process of production involves pathways in the brain that go near or through parts that manage emotion.” The Purpose: Will you write whenever you feel “inspired”? Or create a more consistent practice? Will it be a notebook for brainstorming/project notes (like an artist’s notebook or scientist’s field book—as DaVinci and Darwin famously kept)? Will it be a place to write? Or a place to write about writing (a la John Steinbeck)? Or a brain dump (a la Julia Cameron) on the way to the “real” work? (Mine is a little of all of these, depending on my mood an project.) The Process: Can you journal every day at the same time? Or in the same circumstances every time (those free Saturday afternoons while the kids are napping)? Keep your notebook handy for whenever the mood strikes, but also consider an accompanying ritual to help firm up your habit—as simple as a cup of tea and a particular chair, or as complex as drawing a tarot card or speaking a spell.*** *** Leah Claire Kaminski holds degrees from UC Irvine and Harvard. For nearly 15 years she’s taught students to read with attention and to write poetry, academic essays, and creative nonfiction. Leah’s poetry and stories are widely published in magazines and anthologies, and in two chapbooks, Root (Milk and Cake Press, 2022), and Peninsular Scar (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). Her collection Live oak nearly on fire has recently been named a finalist for the Laureate Prize from Harbor Editions and the Paul Nemser Prize from Lily Poetry Review. She’s at work on a new collection, Small Continent of Light, and is also at work on a horror novel. Originally from Miami, Leah lived in Boston and Orange County, California before recently relocating to Chicago with her partner, child, and two cats, Bernie and Betsy. She loves writing, and teaching writing, because the page never judges. Visit her website at www.leahkaminski.com. Leah is also a WOW! Women on Writing instructor. Check out her upcoming workshop, WHY DO I WRITE?: (Re-)Discover Your Drive, starting January 10th! (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
  25. These days, the term family has morphed into a larger circle. Or perhaps to be more accurate, the concept of family has been enlarged to include smaller circles of people who have no blood or marital relation to each other. Why? Why are we are we venturing out and cherry-picking family members, instead of simply being satisfied with the family we were saddled with born or married into? Why are we calling people our work family and our writing family and our neighborhood family? Necessity. These days, our true family members are scattered. Our real families are sometimes fractured and sometimes dysfunctional. To get the support and joy we need, like making something out of Lego, we have to build our own family, one brick at a time. This holiday season, a few things happened that made me reflect on what family is to me. First, a group of teacher-writer friends got together at El Toro for our annual holiday party. If you've never heard of El Toro, that's not surprising, since it's a teacher-friend's lower-level bar set up in his home. Rob--a high school teacher and also a stand-up comedian--hosted the gala affair. Do the math: 140+ bottles of various alcoholic offerings. Seven or so stressed-out and so-ready-for-a-break teachers. Some crockpot chili. Some killer artichoke dip. Some hideous white elephant gifts. Lots of fast-paced conversation and lots of laughter. Also lots of instances of getting it. Instantly getting each other's moods and struggles and successes without hours of explanation. This is what I was thrilled to get from our white elephant exchange: Yes, it's a real and spectacular Jack Daniel styrofoam statue. I was worried when I chose a low number, because that meant somebody with a bigger number could steal it. It was still wrapped in a couple of trash bags, and was about 3 feet tall. One of the teachers there shook her head and said, "Nobody is gonna steal that," she said laughingly. They'll be sorry. Jack is going to be transformed into Mark Twain, and will have a prominent spot in my classroom. Before my school began its holiday break, we had a gathering at a local restaurant. I sat book-ended by a couple of teachers who never had a negative thing to say (or so I thought). I served up some snark... and they returned some. It was relaxing and rejuvenating and reminded me of why I love where I work. Finally, on Christmas Eve I got together with my actual family. In-laws. My daughter and her family. I learned I should never buy anything Bob Ross again (check out the documentary--Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed). I learned that dried-out leather meat is not always on the menu. (The fish was succulent and delicious.) I also learned that real family is sometimes really great. Virginia's gift to me When I opened the above gift (from my daughter), I laughed. When everyone else saw what it was, they were confused. They haven't read my book--not interested in it, I guess. They looked at my daughter and me for an explanation. "It's an inside joke," Virginia said, and she's right. It's inside all the circles of people who get me. I'm working on a screenplay... I envision my book being made into a movie... People who know me know that. Crosby, Stills and Nash sang a song with the lyrics/title "Love the one you're with." Surround yourself with people who love you and get you. Make sure the people who are around you give you joy, along with everything else you need, because you just might need it in 2022... May the next year be the year for you. Sioux Roslawski is a a middle-school teacher, a freelance writer and a novelist. Check out her book (Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story) on Amazon. (C) Copyright wow-womenonwriting.com Visit WOW! Women On Writing for lively interviews and how-tos. Check out WOW!'s Classroom and learn something new. Enter the Quarterly Writing Contests. Open Now![url={url}]View the full article[/url]
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