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Saturday, November 17, 2018


Why I Resisted the Pull of NaNoWriMo

Photo via Pixabay
I was tempted. Very tempted. In fact, I have something to confess - for three days I tried it. What is it that I speak of?  NaNoWriMo. Fellow writers, it's not just the season of giving and expressing thankfulness, it's also the season where writer's bleed out 50,000 words during the month of November. And I almost couldn't help myself.

But why did I resist? Well, one weakness I must admit that I am still trying to conquer is my love affair with the first draft. Like a wild-eyed street artist, I can type, text, and handwrite with the best of them. Short stories get stuffed into notebooks. Drafts lay in wait on my computer and even on my phone. But when I'm done? Like a careless lover, I toss them to the side. I forget them. I don't call. I unfriend these stories and have even blocked one or two from contacting me again.

The temptation to NaNoWriMo pulled me in, but I stopped myself. My personal mission this year has been to conquer my weakness in rewriting. It's been a long battle and I've run into a lot of excuses along the way. Yet, I am proud to say, I have stuck with it. I'm not where I'd like to be, but I am almost there and I'm in a much better place than where I've been in the past.

So, on November 4th, I stopped my NaNo urge and continued rewriting one of two short stories that have run the gauntlet with me this year. My personal goal this November may not be 50,000 words but it's to end the month with two short stories I have edited and can *gasp* *scream* share with others.

For those who are NaNoWriMo'ing, my hat's off to you and maybe this time next year I can actually NaNoWriMo with a much healthier relationship with my stories. If you are in a similar boat as me, and using this month to edit and rewrite, the lull of the NaNo siren is a strong one and many lyrical sailors have been pulled toward its cries. So resist that urge as strongly as you can.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this month? Or are you editing and rewriting like me?

Be sure to follow Nicole Pyles and her writing journey on Twitter @BeingTheWriter.

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Friday, November 16, 2018


Friday Speak Out!: Why Am I Writing This?!”

by Jane Petreycik

Why do we write? Really? Why? That might be one of the more compelling questions of the century, if you ask me. For every writer, the answer is different, but also possibly the same.

A little over a year ago, an individual walked right out of my life, and a gazillion other people’s lives, never to return. I was devastated. It was like he had died. Okay, so he did recently reappear for about an hour, ironically for a funeral he was obligated to attend, but now he’s gone for good. And I was heartbroken all over again.

I consider myself mostly a fantasy writer. However, I am driven to write a faith-based screenplay inspired by this. Naturally, the story is changed up, a lot, but not the emotion behind it. But why am I even writing it? Maybe because it’s cathartic in a way. Maybe I can take the sadness and pain and transform them into a beloved Oscar-winning screenplay (sorry, I diverted to fantasy writing here). Or maybe it’s to get ideas and stuff out of my head and on the page, where they belong. While my character’s story isn’t exactly my story, while what happens in my script won’t be exactly what happened to me, I can grab snippets from life to make the script “real”. And so this fantasy writer is venturing into this new territory.

Again I ask – Why do we write? Why do we do this to ourselves? I don’t have to write this piece. I could write a nice little fairy tale adaptation and be fine. But I wouldn’t be satisfied. I’ve had so many perfectly good ideas that I’ve ended up putting aside, because they weren’t doing anything for me at the time. But this idea just isn’t going away.

So, I think we write ultimately because we have a story to tell. I have a story to tell. Writing this might be stepping way outside of my comfort zone, but I’m still delving into these uncharted waters. Doubtless we’ve all been told by someone to “write what you know”. Amen to that. I still might write that fairy tale adaptation someday, but at the present moment, I’m sticking with what I know.

* * *
Jane Petreycik is currently a freelancer. Her first screenplay placed Runner Up in the Acclaim Scripts screenplay competition and was an Official Finalist in the New York Screenplay Contest. She is now working on another script.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Thursday, November 15, 2018



I’m not sure if you’ve missed it, but Nina LaCour, author of We Are Okay and Hold Still, has started a podcast.

I had the pleasure of meeting her two years ago when she visited my school to talk about her latest novel and writing in general. She was lovely and intelligent and warm. My students – especially those who took the time to read one of her books and participate in a small group meeting – loved talking to her. I geeked out in typical Beth fashion because – duh – she’s a famous author of young adult fiction, so I hung on her every word and convinced myself we’d be friends forever. While the friendship wish didn’t pan out, I did get a Twitter follow, so I feel like that’s a win.

But I digress. Her podcast is called Keeping a Notebook, and I’m already hooked. Each episode is short – no longer than 12 minutes - but she focuses on different aspects of writing. Her first podcast discusses how she came up with the title, and why keeping a notebook is important. Another episode discusses what to do when you feel stuck in your writing. Her voice is inviting, she includes music and sound effects, and I’ve found inspiration in each of her episodes.

I’ve listened to John Green’s podcast Anthropocene as well, and while it’s not writing focused, hearing his words reminds me that even reviews of items like the Canada Goose, Diet Dr. Pepper and Super Mario Kart can be poetic.

And that’s the truth. While a podcast involves listening and not reading, these authors are still writing the podcasts. You can hear the description in their stories, their careful word choice, their style. I’d never thought about a podcast as a written work before, but these authors make me look at it in a new light.

I ultimately have three take-aways as I reflect on podcasts for writers.

One is that writing comes in so many forms, and we shouldn’t neglect to move forward or try a different vehicle to express our voice.

Another is that a podcast is an excellent promotional tool. The more I listen to Nina LaCour speak, the more I’m drawn to reading her books. And it’s lovely to hear her calm, rich voice, which helps me imagine how she might read her own novels.

Lastly, we can learn a lot as writers by listening to podcasts about writing, especially if they’re hosted by talented, successful writers. She’s sparked some new ideas for me and has, in fact, inspired me to go back to keeping a notebook.

No matter how you use an author's podcast, I urge you to consider them, either as a learning tool, a promotional tool, or as a way of trying something new as a 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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Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Kyle is a frat boy

Naming characters is difficult. For instance, after months of trying out names for a young female protagonist, I finally came up with Claire Randall, a name that flows off the tongue and sounds sophisticated enough for her to be interesting, curious and smart. Perfect, right? Yes, that's probably why Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series features 20th-century nurse Claire Randall. Oops!

Names are important, and can be used to explain part of a character's backstory, or establish a connection to a beloved relative or mysterious past. Nancy hates her name because she believes she was named for her father's former girlfriend. Stephen is happy to have a close connection to the other five Stephens in his family.

One effective strategy is to use unusual or unique names for two or three main characters, then more common names for minor characters. This method helps make the main characters memorable. But if it's too strange, and you're worried about readers pronouncing it incorrectly, then write a scene where someone mangles it, and is corrected with a phonetical pronunciation.

Names also may have a connotation of wealth, or class. Some dystopian and fantasy novels equate simple names with low status, while long names denote high status. In Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen series, Mare Barrow is a peasant, while the ruling class uses names like Elara Merandusm, Queen of Norta.

Names associated with someone's profession or hobby is called an aptronym. Marilyn Fish, the oceanographer, makes an appointment with her podiatrist Dr. Foote. Hunter has lots of deer heads on the walls of his man cave.

But this practice can go too far. When I wanted to name a geologist Dr. Rocky Rockstone, everyone in my writer's group said it reminded them of the Flintstones. OK, point taken. (But I still referred to him that way in my mind, because I ruled that universe!)

Regardless, names can spotlight characteristics like age, personality or stereotypes. For example:

Kyle is a frat boy.
Alyssa is Kyle's girlfriend.
Bob is a dad.
Rose is an older woman who goes to church.
Melba also goes to church, but comes directly from the casino.
Junior works in the family business.
Aurora is a princess.
Stanley is practical.

In the end, a name is what you want it to be. Last year, after spending too much time debating a character name, I asked my husband for advice. "I don't pay attention to them," he said. "I always skip over all the names in a book."

So, don't put too much pressure on yourself because writing the character is more important than naming one. And you may want to Google it first.

Mary Horner teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community College, and definitely needs to rename one of her characters in her unpublished novel.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Forget the Sugarplums...

These days I ain't got sugarplums dancin' in my head. No, I'm daydreaming about a publishing contract.

Of course, I'm not quite there yet. My manuscript will be finished in the next two weeks (there's just a few places I need to rethread a tiny storyline and a little flashback I need to put in place), and then I'm sending it to my favorite editor-for-hire, Margo Dill, who's agreed to take a second stab at it. (What a glutton for punishment she is.)

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting next to Pat Wahler at an author event. Pat has three books out right now. (Children, can you say "overachiever"?) I had just finished reading her I am Mrs. Jesse James and picked her brain.

Pat makes the path to publishing look like a walk in the park on a flat, tree-lined trail. She's that talented and that much of a professional. However, if I'm really really lucky, I might be faced with choices in the next year or two. Will I bust my butt to get a traditional publishing deal? Or, will I form my own imprint?

I picked a bit more meat off Pat's brain, and these are some of the tidbits she offered up:

  • With traditional publishing, the publisher puts out the money for editing, the cover design and layout, the ISBN number, printing and so on.
  • When a writer forms their own imprint, the author needs to pay for an editor/proofreader, an artist to design the cover, and someone to do the interior design and layout. Of course, this also means the author has the final say when it comes to decisions. The title. The look of the cover. The printer.
  • By taking either path--traditional publisher or creating an imprint--a writer becomes rich  internationally famous exhausted, because the author has to do the marketing. Pat's set up book signings and written press releases. She's created book marks, business cards and advertisements. Multiply that times three (since she has three brand-new books out) and what do you have? You have a writer who's working on their next book, because according to Pat, the best way to sell a book is to publish a new one.
Pat left me with some final words that made publishing fairies dance in my head. She said that when a writer's book is finally published, "Savor the moment--worth all the time, trouble and money it took to get there--when you can officially say, 'It's true. I'm officially an author.'"

I look forward to that moment...

Sioux is a middle school teacher, a dog rescuer, a wife, mother and grammy... along with being a frustrated writer. She's in awe of her writer friends--some write poetic prose, some write historical fiction that's so authentic, it doesn't seem like fiction--and hopes to someday join them with her own book.

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Monday, November 12, 2018


Son of Saigon by David Myles Robinson - blog tour and giveaway

Hank and Norm were living the good life: two friends with plenty of money, homes in a lovely California retirement town, and no problems except for the boredom that felt almost fatal. Then Mai came into the picture, the love of Hank’s life during his CIA days in Saigon, desperately needing his help to save the son he’d never known he had. Boredom was over, as Hank and Norm hit the road, following the few clues Mai could give them in search of a man who desperately wants not to be found. What they find is a slew of lies and hidden truths, strange characters, improbable danger that has them fighting to survive, and the happy lesson that their lives are far from over.

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (June 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1948749009
ISBN-13: 978-1948749008

Son of Saigon is now available to purchase on Amazon as an e-book and print, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest!
To win a copy of the book Son of Saigon by David Myles Robinson, please enter via Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on November 19th at 12 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:
David Myles Robinson grew up in Pasadena, CA. He holds degrees from San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco School of Law. After practicing law for thirty-eight years in Honolulu, Hawaii, he retired with his wife, former Honolulu judge Marcia Waldorf, to Taos, NM. Robinson is the author of three previous novels: legal thrillers Tropical Lies and Tropical Judgments, and Unplayable Lie, a golf-related suspense novel.

Find David Online:





Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: David, I have enjoyed so many of your books. Let me begin by thanking your for choosing WOW! to help promote and spread the word about Son of Saigon! It's a pleasure working with you. I'm sure I asked this same question about your other books as well - I always find myself wondering: What sparked you to write this particular story with such sensitive themes?

David: I’m getting up there in years. I had just become eligible for Medicare and like my protagonist, Hank, I had begun to think more and more about mortality. At the same time, living in Taos, NM, I regularly ski and golf with friends who are well into their 70s. I decided to write a book about a couple of old guys. Assuming you have your health, you can either drift from day to day, overly aware of your age, as Hank and Norm were doing at the start of the novel, or you can decide to kick ass and keep on living. That’s what Hank and Norm ultimately chose to do. Because Vietnam had been a part of everyone’s life who is my age, it was a natural fit to include it in the story line. Basically, I refer to SON OF SAIGON as my middle finger salute to getting old.

WOW: That's awesome! I'm hoping to be a healthy old lady someday and really laughed quite a bit at the dialogue between Hank and Norm. This was a very enjoyable read.

How does social media play info your author marketing plan?

David: I think social media is critical for an unknown author with an independent publisher. I do have people who help me with marketing as I’d prefer to spend my time writing or otherwise having fun, but at their urging I try to post new blogs on my website on a fairly regular basis. I have a separate Facebook page for my writing. Blogs like this are a big help.

WOW: I love that social media even played a part in Son of Saigon - I kept thinking how hip and smart Hank and Norm are! How is retirement? Where was your most recent trip and what spurred you to go there?

David: Retirement is even better than I’d ever envisioned it would be. My wife and I are lucky in that we have enough money to do the things we love to do. This last year we travelled to Botswana (our twelfth trip to Sub-Saharan Africa), did a road trip to the west coast, went to Hawaii where I played in an annual charity golf event on Maui, and then did a river cruise in Europe. After living 40 years in Hawaii, I love road trips, and the road trip Hank and Norm set out on in the Sprinter RV was me living vicariously through them.

WOW: I'm seriously living vicariously through YOU right now - I can't wait to be retired! Sounds like you are still finding time for one fun activity each day (or more than one apparently). Any recent new found hobbies or loves as a result of your daily fun?

David: Probably too much fun. Taos is a wonderful outdoor lifestyle. In the winter I try to ski every other day and the rest of the year I golf, play pickle ball, hike, or travel. That is, when writing doesn’t get in the way.

WOW: Did you do anything differently this time as far as writing or publishing goes? What advice can you pass along?

David: I write because I love to write, and I would do it even if I wasn’t getting published. But it’s nice to have an audience and to watch the readership grow, which is why I invest in marketing people. I tend to write in spurts. If I can get engrossed in my story I will write for hours at a time, to the exclusion of all the other fun stuff I do. The hardest part is when I have the basic story written and it is time to roll up my sleeves and begin the long and sometimes onerous process of rewriting. The best advice I can pass along is far from original with me: write for yourself, not for others. Hopefully at some point what you have written out of love of writing will resonate with others.

"Write for yourself, not for others. Hopefully at some point what you have written out of love of writing will resonate with others."

WOW: I can see how you get engrossed in writing - I get engrossed in reading your work. I appreciate all your writing and re-writing, your books have always been very polished which makes them a joy to read! I hope you're working on the next book?

David: I have two novels currently in progress, which is unusual for me. I think it’s because I haven’t yet fully committed to either one. After all the traveling I’ve done this year, I need to reread the drafts to decide which one I should focus on. I also have a completed book of travel stories I’m trying to sell. I may decide to self-publish it.

WOW: I'm looking forward to reading your next book - regardless of how it is published, so instead of saying good bye, how about we say so long...for now? I have a feeling we will be hearing from you in the new year (if not sooner - hint hint)! Thank you for your time and for sharing with us today.

----------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, November 12th (TODAY) @ The Muffin
Author Interview & Giveaway

Tuesday, November 13th @ Cathy Stucker’s Selling Books
Cathy Stucker interviews retired lawyer and successful author David Myles Robinson about his latest novel Son of Saigon.

Wednesday, November 14th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Crystal Otto shares her thoughts on the latest novel by David Myles Robinson – is it a lemon or sweet lemonade? Readers can’t wait to find out!

Tuesday, November 20th @ Coffee with Lacey
Lacey reviews Son of Saigon by David Myles Robinson and shares her thoughts with readers at Coffee with Lacey. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about this page turning novel!

Wednesday, November 21st @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Wisconsin educator, mother, and business owner Cathy Hansen collaborates with her teenage daughter as they review and discuss the latest novel by David Myles Robinson. See what these ladies have to say about Son of Saigon.

Thursday, November 22nd @ Lisa Haselton
Lisa Haselton interviews David Myles Robinson about his latest work – Son of Saigon.

Friday, November 23rd @ Author Anthony Avina
Fellow author Anthony Avina pens his fascinating review of David Myles Robinson’s latest novel Son of Saigon.

Tuesday, November 27th @ Beverley A. Baird
Beverley A Baird reviews Son of Saigon by David Myles Robinson. Readers won’t want to miss an opportunity to learn more about this interesting novel.

Tuesday, December 4th @ World of My Imagination
Nicole Pyles delights readers at World of My Imagination as she reviews the latest page turner by David Myles Robinson. You won't want to miss Nicole's thoughts about Son of Saigon.

Wednesday, December 5th @ Bella Donna’s Books with Dawn Thomas
Dawn Thomas reads and reviews the latest novel by David Myles Robinson - stop by Bella Donna's Books to learn more about Son of Saigon.

Thursday, December 6th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Fellow author Madeline Sharples reviews Son of Saigon by David Myles Robinson. Don’t miss her thoughts about this latest novel.

Thursday, December 6th @ A Day in the Life of Mom
Ashley Bass reviews David Myles Robinson's latest page turner, Son of Saigon.
Don't miss her insight and thoughts on this exciting new book!

Thursday, December 6th @ Cheekypee Reads and Reviews
Don't miss Cheekypee's review of David Myles Robinson's latest Son of Saigon.

Friday, December 7th @ To Write or Not to Write
Sreevarsha Sreejith reviews Son of Saigon. Don't miss this opportunity to hear from Sreevarsha and visit To Write or Not to Write.


To win a copy of the book Son of Saigon by David Myles Robinson, please enter via Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on November 19th at 12 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, November 11, 2018


Michelle Rene Wins Second Place With Her Essay "Pit of Snakes"

Michelle Rene is our second place creative nonfiction essay contest winner (Quarter 4) with her essay titled, "Pit of Snakes." And no, that title is not figurative. If you have an Indiana Jones fear of snakes, then this essay may terrify you--that's how well-written it is. Read on to find out more about Michelle and her tips for writing about your childhood in creative essays!

Michelle is a creative advocate and a multi-award winning author of a number of published works of science fiction, historical fiction, humor and everything in-between.

This year, she released several books. Hour Glass, her touching tale about Calamity Jane, won Chanticleer Review’s Best Book of the Year award. It was released as an audiobook in September. Her experimental novella, Tattoo, has won high acclaim from Foreword Review and Publisher’s Weekly. Recently, she published an anthology of stories and humorous essays from her time growing up in West Texas called Defending Ducks.

When not writing, she is a professional artist and all around odd person. She lives as the only female, writing in her little closet, with her husband, son, and ungrateful cat in Dallas, Texas.

Visit her website at

WOW: Congratulations on placing second in the WOW! creative nonfiction essay contest. Your essay is going to give many people the heebie jeebies, but they need to read it anyway! So how do you think this experience in your young life made you the person you are today?

Michelle: Thank you! I had a really weird upbringing in Texas. I spent a good deal of time in the country. We have a lot of dangerous animals that you sort of learn to live around: rattlesnakes, copperheads, scorpions, bobcats, mountain lions, etc. Funny side note, I actually once wrestled/played with a full grown mountain lion. She won. But back to the question. Because of where I'm from, and my knack for getting myself into weird situations, I ended up with a lot of crazy experiences most people can't boast. I don't really know anyone who was dangled over a pit of snakes as a child, for example. While it's funny to tell people these crazy stories of my youth, I am extremely thankful both for the experience and for surviving the experience. I believe it gave me more confidence as an adult to go and try new things without fear.

WOW: I bet. I mean, once you survived a battle with a mountain lion, what else is there? I have to ask, did you ever go into a pit of snakes again--by yourself or carried in?

Michelle: Oh hell no. I did go back to the Rattlesnake Roundup several times after, but I steered clear of the pitmasters just in case. It was enough to live it once. After that, I preferred to just stare over the wall like everyone else. I always did stop by to say hello to the pitmaster who carried me in. He was really nice even if he did threaten to recruit me. He worked the roundups for years until he was bitten and had to retire.

WOW: Oh no! Goodness, what a career that is. How did you structure this creative essay? I'm sure a lot of our readers want to write about childhood moments that stand out to them, but it's often hard to focus the essay.

Michelle: I found my essay voice after I perfected my verbal storytelling skills. It didn't really occur to me how crazy my stories were until I started telling them as an adult to "normal" people who looked at me like I was insane. I got really good at regaling friends and coworkers with these tales of my youth. When you cut childhood memories up into bite-sized story bits fit to tell at a dinner party, it forces you to format your memories into an essay. Once I figured out how to convey the oddball humor of what happened without doing hand gestures and accents, I found my essay voice. The story I told at dinner about my father letting some crazy guy dangle his daughter over snakes became the essay, "Pit of Snakes."

WOW: How very true. Thinking about some of these childhood memories like: What would I say at a dinner party? is really good advice. What is a tip for writers who want to write about a distant memory but may have trouble recalling it? You make it sound like this happened to you just yesterday, with all the details you included!

Michelle: Well, I am blessed with a very good memory. However, I do strategically choose stories that are borderline traumatic to write about because you can't help but remember those more. I might not remember much about the time I rode my bike and skinned my knee, but being held over a pit of snakes does sort of stand out in one's memory. The other thing is to ask people who were a part of the story to help fill in any gaps. As a storyteller, I always worry about embellishing my memory too much the more and more I tell it. I check in with family as I go to make sure I'm remembering correctly. My father took pictures of our little adventure, including one of the pitmaster holding me over the snakes. Yes, there is tangible evidence this happened. I looked at those photos for years, which kept the memory fresh.

WOW: Great tips--looking at photos and asking older family members can help fill in those details we forget, even though we want to write about these memories. Let's switch gears for a minute. Tell us about your books. Your bio says you released one this year as well as a few other publications.

Michelle: I actually had two books released this year with separate publishers. Hour Glass, with Amberjack Publishing, is my historical fiction novel about Calamity Jane that won Chanticleer Review's Best Book of the Year award. Tattoo, with Annorlunda Books, is my experimental novella told backwards, which got glowing reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Foreword Reviews. I personally released a collection of funny stories, called Defending Ducks. It is a combination of crazy essays like "Pit of Snakes" and humorous fictional stories. I have three more books releasing in 2019, so I feel very blessed and very exhausted!

WOW: That's all such fantastic news, and congratulations on the great reviews you are getting--and the awards. Well-deserved! Thanks for stopping by with your busy schedule, and best of luck to you. 

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