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Sunday, March 18, 2018


Interview with Vickie Fernandez, Creative Non-Fiction Essay Runner-Up Winner

Today, we have an interview with Vickie Fernandez, runner-up winner in the Quarter 1 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest, with her essay, "The Other Half of the Sky." If you haven't read it yet, read it here.

Vickie Fernandez is a writer, storyteller and comedian. After a short hiatus from creating word things to fall in love, make a human thing and learn how to excavate her souls tales sober, she’s hitting the keys once again. Her stories are often raw and painful to pen but delicious to read and there are plenty of woeful tales to sink into. Vickie cut her story weaving teeth in Ariel Gore’s Literary Kitchen. Her stories have appeared in various literary journals including Akashic Books, Carnival Literary Magazine Vol. 3, Penduline Press, and The Rumpus.

Vickie is also proud to have contributed stories to the Two-Countries: US Daughters & Sons of Immigrant Parents Anthology as well as The People’s Apocalypse.

She’s currently working tirelessly on a new batch of stories (and cookies) while balancing raising a toddler, being a wife, and tiptoeing back to her writer self, one word at a time. For more about Vickie or to support her creative journey, visit her at: Patreon: or Casual Cry Days: .

WOW: Vickie, congratulations on your essay placing as a runner-up. Your essay deals with a mother's illness, which is obviously very personal to you. How was it to write this piece?

Vickie: Thank you so much, Margo. I'm so unbelievably flattered that I made the top 10.

Words have always symbolized freedom from anguish to me. I've spent my entire life finding beautiful ways to say terrible things.

I've been writing and re-writing that story my entire life. My mom was only 28 when she was diagnosed with cancer and she died when she was 30. At the time, I wasn't really aware of the permanence of death because I was a kid and I was preoccupied with the things 10-year-olds are preoccupied with. I was however, grateful that she had stopped suffering and I honestly thought that life would magically go back to the way that it was before she got sick. But obviously I it never did.

My mother's illness and death signified a huge turning point in my life and it was a catalyst to a great deal of trauma that came after.

I started drinking when I was 11 years old, and I basically numbed myself to all of the things that had occurred in my life up until I got sober three years ago. I think that my ability to look at the truth of my childhood and everything that came after and being able to put it into words that others can relate to and enjoy is one of the things that pushes me to expel them. While at the same time seeing beauty in a seemingly painful past.

Though I wish I'd had my mom around, I wouldn't be the person or the writer that I am had it not been for all those tragedies.

WOW: Thank you so much for sharing your personal journey with us. That takes a lot of courage. We are so glad you decided to enter the contest. Do you write a lot of essays? Why or why not?

Vickie:  I really enjoy writing essays and short stories. Though I am not opposed to longer works, I like how you can distill powerful moments into short pieces. Doing storytelling and stand-up comedy for a few years helped to make my writing succinct. 

Stand-up helped my writing particularly because you have very little time to a evoke certain feelings from an audience. Now, I go back and I look at my old essays through that lens and am able to slaughter a lot of darlings! I have to say, it feels really good to trim the fat off of a piece and give it a sort of punch of poignancy.

WOW: Oh my gosh, that is so true! Your bio states that you are recently getting back into the writing habit. How is that going?

Vickie: Well, it's going. It's really difficult to write with a toddler in toe. But I do what I can and I don't beat myself up for what I don't do. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about what I wasn't writing and it stopped being fun. I am a writer, it is who I am. Sometimes I do it a lot sometimes I don't do it at all and that's just how I have to look at it. Becoming a mom has changed my perspective on how I look at everything. I  do what I can and I'm grateful for anything that I manage produce. 

WOW: You have the best attitude when it comes to writing with kids. Do what you can and don't beat yourself up! What are some challenges you have overcome as a writer?

Vickie: I would have to say time, energy, and too many ideas. I'm not a procrastinator so much as I am an over-thinker. I have a lot of stories, and I get overwhelmed by the urgency to get them out.

I feel as though my life is compartmentalized into various chapters, and I just have to pick one of those chapters and write about it. I'm working on patience with myself as a person, a mom and as a writer. So, I go bird by bird, one day at a time, word by word? Haahaa 

WOW: That's great! What is your current project? What's next for you?

Vickie: At the moment, I'm working on some short stories. My focus is memoir and creative nonfiction. I just want to put my work out into the world in anyway possible. Maybe someone will read something that I wrote and feel that jolt of connection to my words that I feel when I read the work of my favorite authors. That would awesome! 

WOW: That would be awesome! Thank you again for your time spent talking with us. Best of luck to you! 

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Saturday, March 17, 2018


American Ninja Writer

Have you ever heard of  American Ninja Warrior? My son is obsessed with it. If you haven’t seen the show, incredibly buff people without an ounce of body fat compete in a difficult obstacle course that the Terminator himself wouldn’t be able to finish. After watching it night after night, I’ve come to realize that the lessons I’ve learned by watching people who aren't ashamed to publicly wear a bathing suit can also be applied to writing.

Lesson #1: Get in Shape
I’m not talking about bulking up; I’m talking about practicing. Keep in mind, those ninjas didn’t get their muscles from thinking about it and neither will we. If we want to get in the best writing shape possible, we need to practice, practice, practice. We also need to vary our writing workouts. Not every day can be “leg” day. This means that sometimes we should focus on developing our characters. The next may be a day to look specifically at our word choice. And don’t forget to flex those fingers when creating new worlds!

Lesson #2: Gather Your Entourage
If you’ve watched American Ninja Warrior enough, you’ll know that you need to bring along your cheering squad. The same applies to writers. No great writer is complete without their entourage. These are the people who read your terrible first drafts and give you advice. They encourage you when you’re too tired to continue. They cheer the loudest when you’re competing (or querying). They convince others of your literary merit. Gather them closely and bring them on the journey.

Lesson #3: A Small Mistake Can Be Your Downfall
If one toe hits the water below the obstacle course, a ninja warrior is out. The smallest mistake means the end of the competition. As writers, we, too, need to pay attention to details to keep us in the game. This means proofreading, followed by multiple rounds of grueling edits. It’s not enough to slide by. You must be meticulous. Those who rush can slip and fall. Those who are careful and calculating succeed.

Lesson #4: There’s Always Next Season
One of my favorite parts of American Ninja Warrior is the back stories of the competitors. Many of them have struggled through numerous hardships to get to the competition, and I find myself rooting for them. It’s always disappointing to see them fall when they’ve tried so hard. But, inevitably, they come back the next season to try again. They didn’t accept failure the first time, and neither should we. If you think about it, just because we don’t reach our goal the first time doesn’t mean we’ve failed. It means we’ve taken another step towards the final goal. Maybe you couldn’t bring yourself to finish a book. Maybe you couldn’t land an agent. Maybe you were published, but it wasn’t as successful as you’d hoped. That’s okay. Pull yourself together and try for next season.

As writers, we may not be lifting fifty-pound weights, completing a parkour run, or dashing up curved walls, but we can certainly follow similar lessons to reach our goals. So, get out there. Sprint towards your finish line.

Be the next American Ninja Writer.

Bethany Masone Harar is an author, teacher, and blogger, who does her best to turn reluctant readers into voracious, book-reading nerds. Check out her blog here and her website here.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018


Writing Retreats: A Time to Fill (With Writing)

        Well, router problems plagued me. Finally, I am able to post.

        I recently was at a writing retreat. Two days to do nothing but write... It was heavenly. It was a productive experience for several reasons:

  • We started fresh. I've been to some retreats that begin on Friday evening, and by that time, I'm toast. Nothing much gets accomplished. I'm battling falling asleep while eating the dinner or engaging in the conversation.
          This retreat began on Saturday morning, when everyone was alert and refreshed.

  • It was unstructured. I know, I know, there are some people who would like little "workshops" or sessions at various times during the day when they go on a retreat. I, however, was looking forward to long spans of time to do nothing but writing and revising and pondering.
          So, we formed groups of 3, and each threesome chose a couple of times during the weekend to
          get together and respond to each other's writing. Other than that, our time was our own.

  • There were goodie bags for everyone. In the bags were chocolate and packets of fig bars and protein bars. Along with the edibles was a note that explained each of the choices. For example, there was a handful of Hershey Nuggets in the bag, and the note said, "Sometimes all  we need is a nugget of an idea to get our writing started." For the fig bar, it said, "There are times that you just have to forge ahead with your writing, not giving  a flying fig what your inner critic thinks."
          Chocolate is always good...

  • A wide variety of projects were being worked on, which was inspiring. One teacher at the retreat (they were all teachers) was working on writing some new songs. She even brought her guitar and sang some John Prine and Alison Krauss, along with some of her own compositions. Being serenaded while I wrote was delightful. 
          Other teachers were working on novels, short stories, poetry--there was even a teacher working
          on a synopsis and query letter (me). The synopsis is still a hot mess.The query letter? It's still in
          its embryonic stage...

          How about you? What do you like to see when you go to a writing retreat?

Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher, a wife, a mother, a grammy, a writer and a dog rescuer. In her spare time she knits, reads, and watches sad movies. If you'd like to read more of her stuff, check out her blog.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Top Tips for Writer's Conference Attendees

Top Tip #3: Dress comfortably. Even if you're a presenter.

So I’ve just returned from my writer’s conference and I thought I’d share a few tips before I forget everything. And I’m starting with the biggest tip of all: volunteer.

You know what? I don’t think that sounded emphatic enough so I’m going to say it again: VOLUNTEER!! (I added the extra exclamation point because it’s that important.)

Volunteer because you will meet lots of people, and for a newbie at a conference, that’s the best and easiest way to make new connections.

If you’re working with food service, you can bond with the crew as you figure out where the cups and/or napkins are hidden. Maybe you’ll end up timing critiques; you can comfort the people waiting to get their critiques and commiserate with the ones who’ve just received their critiques. If you volunteer to drive a faculty member to the airport, you’ll make a great impression with your helpfulness. Plus, you can get all kinds of insider information from agents or editors as long as you don’t drive off the road while chatting. (You will be remembered if you drive off the road, but maybe not in the way you’d imagined.) And if you’re helping with registration, you’ll get to meet every person that attends the conference, and I’ll bet you’ll meet someone who coincidentally lives right down the road from you and become life-long writing partners!

Or maybe not. The point is, volunteering gets you inside the conference instead of sitting on the sidelines of the conference. So if there’s a box to check off with “Volunteer” on it, sign up! I promise you’ll be glad you accepted the opportunity.

The next tip is how savvy writers beat the system. Attend the conference with your critique group members or a couple of writing friends. Get together ahead of time and discuss the presentations or workshops and what will best serve your groups’ and/or personal needs. And then spread out and cover that conference like kudzu!

While one of you attends the plotting workshop, the other takes notes in the character workshop. Someone goes to hear the editor talk about publishing trends and someone else goes to the agent who’s talking about the perfect pitch. I know it sounds not quite above board, but as long as you keep the information among the members who attended the conference, it’s fair and square. If you blast all the information from the conference out on the web, however, you have crossed a line. That’s not fair to the presenter who will be giving that same presentation in a few months at another conference, and it’s not fair to all the attendees who paid to get that information.

All of these tips will guarantee that you’ll get the most out of your conference experience. They worked for me and these tips will work for you, too! Now, if I could just remember where I put my notes…

~ (A very tired) Cathy C. Hall 

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Write where you are

I've been reading about famous writers and their writing spaces, which are as varied as the writing styles themselves. John Cheever put on a suit and rode the elevator down to the basement storage area of his apartment building, where he took off the suit and wrote in his boxer shorts. Virginia Woolf said every woman should have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up,and Marcel Proust wrote in bed. Charles Dickens would rearrange furniture to make the space conducive to writing, and Thomas Mann had a large desk covered with objects, reducing the actual writing area.

I'm always looking for a good place to write. I don't know what makes it good, but I know it when I see it. A few weeks ago, I found a new coffee shop inside a creative community space/art gallery in a former strip-mall bar that features a long wooden table near the front windows, and I love it.

I recently visited Lindenwood University's (St. Charles, MO) new library with its soaring wall of windows. Contemporary furniture and seating in an open space with high ceilings invite everyone to sit, read, or write. A small coffee shop is tucked to the side, and the stacks include rows and rows of tall book shelves with chairs and desks scattered throughout. I love it.

I wanted to compare the new space to the old, and see how it had changed since my days as a grad student. I spent a lot of time in Butler Library, built in 1929, with its dark, castle-like lobby and old, soft sofas and massive fireplace. I loved it.

Butler Library had carrels not much larger than a small closet in the (even darker) basement. Students could close the sliding doors to shut out the world. I remember looking out the window onto a street with beautiful old houses on the other side, but I'm not sure if that's accurate (it's been a while). Windows or not, I loved it.

Regardless of where you write, and whether or not you like background noise or complete silence while staring at a blank wall or taking in a spectacular view, it's really not about the space. Just write where you are. I'm writing this with my feet on the coffee table in my family room with the computer resting on my lap. It's not the coolest space, but I'm writing, and I love it.

Mary Horner is the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, and teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges. She completed the Writing Certificate from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and is a certified medical writer.

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Monday, March 12, 2018


Interview with Nicole Blades, author of Have You Met Nora?

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Nicole Blades about her writing and her latest book Have You Met Nora? and it is my distinct privilege to share this interview with WOW! readers today. Stop back in a few weeks for my 5 star review of Have You Met Nora?

About the Book:

She’s blossomed from a wealthy surgeon’s beautiful daughter to elegant socialite to being the top fashion stylist in the country. And Nora Mackenzie is only days away from marrying into one of New York’s richest, most powerful families. But her fairy tale rise is rooted in an incredible deception—one scandal away from turning her perfect world to ashes . . .

What no one knows is that Nora is the biracial daughter of a Caribbean woman and a long-gone white father. Adopted—and abused—by her mother’s employer, then sent to an exclusive boarding school to buy her silence, Nora found that “passing” as a white woman could give her everything she never had.

Now, an ex-classmate who Nora betrayed many years ago has returned to her life to even the score. Her machinations are turning Nora’s privilege into one gilded trap after another. Running out of choices, Nora must decide how far she will go to protect a lie or give up and finally face the truth.

About the Author:

Nicole Blades is a novelist, speaker, and journalist. She started at Essence magazine, later co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks, and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health.

Nicole's work has appeared in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Good Housekeeping,,, and BuzzFeed. Her latest book, HAVE YOU MET NORA?, is out now, along with her previous novels THE THUNDER BENEATH US, and EARTH’S WATERS. Listen to her weekly podcast, Hey, Sis!, about women finding their focus and place in business, art, culture, and life. And find out more at:

Finding Nicole Online:





............. interview with Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: Nicole, thank you so much for chatting with me today. You have such attention to detail in your writing. I can't wait to hear more about you and your writing process. Let's get to it:

Where do you write? What does your space look like?

Nicole: This is a great question, because I'm always into where folks write and what their writing space looks like. Uh, a.k.a. I'm nosy! I typically write at my desk in my home office. It's this really cool, rustic, thick wood desk. It's by a window that allows the warmth of the sun to spill over on me. Something about natural light helps my overall writing mood. And I live in New England, so you definitely need whatever sun and warmth you can get during the long winter months. The office is pretty bright, full of lots of natural light. Also important to me and my general mood. The window looks out to this large, gorgeous, leafy tree that birds seem to really enjoy. I keep promising to research what kind of tree it is, because it's served me so well for the last four years. (Maybe that detail will make it into a future story!)

The desk is relatively clean. I don't work well with clutter. I have a notebook and a book or two stacked off to the side along with a plastic glass with pens—my fancy fountain pen I bought in Italy has its own separate stand—as well as a folder with notes and magazine pages I've torn out with pictures and articles for research, and my Blue Yeti microphone for my podcast. Oh, and there's also a photo of Idris Elba in a suit smiling right at me with this message I formatted on it ("I Forgive You").

Sometimes I would need a change of scenery or just to be around other people to observe and eavesdrop (yep.) on their random interactions. That's when I head to a café or coffeeshop to work. But I always look for a window seat where I can set up the "satellite office." A window is a must. And it needs to look out at something. Brick walls or gross, leaking air conditioning units do not count as something.

WOW: I agree, clutter is going to be the death of me (you can imagine with a family of 7...)

In Have You Met Nora?, I love Nora’s tenacity. In what ways are you and Nora similar? Tell us more about how this character and how the book came about?

Nicole: Nora is definitely tenacious. Because of certain spoiler-y circumstances and choices made by her and for her, she has created this ideal version of herself and living a life that she feels she deserves. And now she is faced with the question: How far are you willing to go to protect it?

In terms of my similarities with Nora, there are some basic things that we have in common: born and raised in Montrealer; Caribbean roots; attended an all-girls Catholic high school (though hers was a boarding school in Vermont, mine was not); and we're both strong-willed. But that's about it... thankfully! Her life is filled with much more drama and crazy twists and turns than mine will ever be, and I'm completely fine with that.

The idea for the story came where all my other ideas do: real life. I’ve always been deeply interested in identity, more specifically, how someone organizes their entire spirit around being something—a chef, an activist, a mother, a writer, a survivor. In so many instances, claiming that title involves a significant moment when it becomes undeniably clear how essential it (cooking, parenthood, writing, fighting injustice, etc.) is to who you are at your core and how you want the world to view you. For so many people that big moment involves stepping out of a comfort zone and putting faith in that identity, ready to defend it to anyone who questions or doubts it. It's that level of commitment to an identity and selfhood that intrigues me.

For this story, I wanted to go even deeper with this concept of identity and add race into the discussion. In Nora's case, this meant examining how someone could construct an identity rooted in a lie. And then, how far would they go to protect that identity, deception be damned! It's like fake it 'til you make Level 100.

WOW: Level 100 for sure! No one is ever quite who they seem to be.

What’s next for you? What are your writing goals for 2018 and beyond?

Nicole: Next for me is, I’m working on a new novel. I don’t like to let the steam of the pot while I’m cooking up something, so I’ll just say that it’s about a scientist, struggling to move through her broken life, who stumbles into investigating a mysterious illness that’s killing off the nation’s youth.

My writing goals for 2018 are the same as they always are every year: Keep writing. I take writing seriously; it's my vocation. And when I’m actively writing, I’m very focused on it. It's be said many times this past year, but it's so true: now more than ever, our stories--women's stories, Black stories, people of color and those historically pushed to the margins of the main narrative--are important and need to be told. It may sound a little corny, but I feel so honored to be part of this immense, important tradition of storytelling, and I want to keep at it for as long as I have a voice and something to say.

WOW: Like anything, we just have to keep going. Thank you for sharing your talent for storytelling.

Who has been most influential in your writing career and how so?

Nicole: There are two people whom I always thank for ignited my love of storytelling and writing. The first is my father, who is a fantastic, natural storyteller. The way he would have someone on the edge of their seat waiting to hear what happened next--all because of how he painted this picture with words--was thrilling and fascinating to me. The other person is my third grade teacher, Mr. Harry Polka. He was a big supporter of creative writing and seeing what these young minds dreamed up. He encouraged us to write down our stories and to do it everyday. And he showed such interest in what we were writing, too. It really set me up to believe that what I had to say was interesting and even important. I’ll always be grateful to him for that. And I keep saying that I will track the man down one day to thank him in person or at least by a handwritten note. I will, I will, I must!

WOW: Thank you again for sharing with our readers. I hope we will work together in the future on a book blog tour, but in the meantime just keep on telling those stories!

Dear Readers - pick up your copy today and be sure to stop back in a few weeks for more on Have You Met Nora?


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Sunday, March 11, 2018


Interview with Top Ten Essay Contest Winner, Cheryl Fines

Cheryl Fines teaches English at a secondary school on the Canadian prairies. She loves exploring the many genres of literature—both through reading and writing—with her students. Few things are more satisfying for her than seeing that spark of passion for literature ignite, or witnessing a student find her voice through writing. When she’s not teaching, Cheryl channels her energy into her writing. Most often, she writes fiction, in a wide range of formats, but she also dabbles in nonfiction. Cheryl is especially drawn to human rights and social justice issues; this particular piece of writing emerged organically, in response to the outpouring of #metoo personal stories, and the subsequent torrent of reactions.

Cheryl lives in a small Manitoba city with her partner and their two children. She values spending time with her family and friends. Cheryl’s other pursuits include fibre arts—spinning, knitting, felting, dyeing—all things wool! Oh, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our 2017 essay competition! What prompted you to enter the contest?

Cheryl: Thank you. It was a matter of timing, really. Right when I was mentally sorting out the #MeToo movement – how it affected me, how it would affect my daughters, how people were reacting – I saw the reminder that the essay competition was drawing to a close. I knew I would not be writing in a formal essay format; however, I thought that your rules were flexible enough to permit my unorthodox form. And that was that! I knew that writing about #MeToo would be a useful exercise for me; the contest entry was a little added bonus.

WOW: Your essay, “#MeToo” covered a hot topic, and you really did justice to the subject. I related to your descriptions of the issues, and the feelings that surround the dredging up of these tucked away memories. Did the piece come together quickly or was it a challenge?

Cheryl: As far as words on paper, it came together quickly. However, I’d been mulling it over a great deal, before I sat down to write. It has an intentional air of urgency and is a little helter-skelter, because I didn’t want to lose that tone of aggravation, anger, regret … of calling everyone out on their/our role in this mess. It was meant to sound ranty and challenging and messy. It was meant to leave the reader uncomfortable in his/her own knowledge and experiences.

What I think is important to say here is that these experiences of mine (the tip of the iceberg, and certainly not covering the most egregious offenses) are not worth talking about by virtue of their being horrible, isolated occurrences. Instead, they are laid out for all to see because they’re so very common. Sexual abuse and assault are such a routine part of our lives as girls and women – but the relative silence about it have made us all complicit in its cover-up. Whether or not it’s making things unpleasant for some, #MeToo is long overdue, and I believe that, as a society, we could not move toward gender equality without this longstanding disgrace being exposed and called out, leaving a clear path on which to move forward.

#MeToo has left me pondering the discomfort that had to have happened for every major social change movement. Forcing people to consider and reconsider their beliefs, practices, and desires is a necessary component of any social movement. I’ve heard from so many women – typically older women – that it’s unfair for the few to be dragged through the muck when it was just the way it was. I understand that idea, but of course, I do not agree. In any situation where a group of people could do something wrong because of their privilege (be it male, white, WASP, etc), it has come down to the individual’s moral integrity. Wrongdoing simply because you can, or because it’s always been this way, is a wielding of power that is not excusable.

We’ve seen men in all sorts of power positions get called out recently – men in the entertainment industry, politics, religious figures, doctors - men with power, who chose to use it in a way they knew was wrong. Period. End of story. Just because the casting couch was a longstanding tradition in show biz does not make it acceptable. Nor does it make it inevitable. Choices were made. No doubt they were not anticipating being called out, but it’s a risk anyone takes when they choose to keep wrongdoings under wraps. I think it is worth noting that there were no shortage of men with access to the same privilege, who opted not to abuse it, but to act in an honorable way.

As #MeToo proceeded, it galled me to hear the voices of men rise up with the message, “I had no idea.” When virtually everyone (victims included) is mixed up in the same giant scheme, naturally, there is a certain embarrassment in exposure. But to claim ignorance is so much worse than simply recognizing the truth and building from there. It is, indeed, to continue to (try to) use one’s position of power for personal benefit.

I am struck by the vastness of conspiracy. For decades, probably centuries, women’s silence enabled those men to carry on with impunity. This silence was deeply embedded in us – personally, I think it’s all tied in with the (overwhelmingly female) concepts of politeness, compliance, modesty, and the like – carefully moulded characteristics of a “good girl” or “good wife” etc – all of which feeds directly in to the problem again. We’re all accountable. My little writing piece provided me with an outlet to express some of my thoughts on the matter, but also, allowed me to stand up and be counted.

WOW: Again, you've eloquently spoken about the movement and the surrounding issues. Thank you! With a teaching job and parenting responsibilities, how do you make time to write? What works for you?

Cheryl: Million dollar question! I don’t write nearly as much as I should (or want to). I have joined a supportive group of writers at my local library, and enjoy reading their work and offering feedback, just as much as I appreciate theirs in return. That keeps my toe in the water.

Beyond that, my writing is hit and miss. Sometimes I get on a roll, and carve out time to write regularly, and unfortunately, often, it takes a back seat to more pressing needs. It’s a juggling act, but I’m usually dropping the ball. If you have strategies, I’d love to hear them!

WOW: Well, I'm gathering strategies too! Past winner interviewees have shared some of their ways, and readers can please comment below. Besides writing, you mention fibre arts as an interest. Can you tell us about that? What sorts of projects are you working on?

Cheryl: Oh, sure. I am a self-proclaimed woolaholic. I have always knit and crocheted, but over time, added on dyeing (roving and wool yarn), needlefelting, wet felting, fulling, and now also spinning. I’m about to try my hand at weaving. I plan to process a fleece this summer – the only thing I don’t really anticipate doing is shearing - I’ll leave that to someone else! As for what projects I’m working on – a few shawls lately, sometimes socks or mitts – I’m more fond of smaller projects than big ones. I like the sense of accomplishment. (Hey – maybe that’s why I also like flash fiction!)

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Cheryl! Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?

Cheryl: I’ve entered the WOW Flash Fiction contest many times. I love the challenge in telling a complete story in such a restricted number of words. And now, I’ve also entered the nonfiction contest once. I would urge anyone who enjoys writing to enter your contests – they’re inexpensive to enter, and what a great community of writers! Plus, if you struggle (as I do) with making time to write, there’s nothing like a looming deadline!


For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.

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