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Saturday, April 30, 2016

 

What is Your Dream Project?

A photo posted by rlroberson (@rlroberson) on


I once bought a journal with the words “Dreams invited here” written on the cover. I was drawn to where it sat upon the shelf, and the words spoke to me. I later wrote a poem using that opening line.

As writers, we all have dream projects. Maybe it’s the great American novel, an award-winning short story, or a book of published poetry. Chances are, you have more than one. I know I do. My list of dream projects changes every few years. There was a time when I wanted to see my work published in a city newspaper. Once I achieved that, I moved on to magazine writing. After winning an award for feature writing, I transitioned to writing fiction. After completing a few different manuscripts for children, I now have raw material to continue working with to take the writing dream to the next step.

But about a month ago, I started working on Mari L. McCarthy’s “28 Days Weight Control” ebook. A lot of the journaling prompts focus on writing out specific goals you want to achieve with your weight and eating habits. The exercises have helped me hone in on what it is I need to do to eat healthier, but it also got me thinking about how writing down some of my other goals would be beneficial. As part of this process, I’ve seen another dream project unfold.

I want to work on a true crime piece. I often follow missing person cases and try to theorize what could have happened to the person based upon the clues. I love watching the TV show “Vanity Fair Confidential” and find myself on the edge of my seat, wishing I could be one of the journalists on the show who unearthed a big story. There are a few cases that have given me ideas for magazine articles in some of the larger women’s magazine. I think it might be time to flesh out one of these ideas and move forward. Don’t the things we’re passionate about always make the most compelling (and difficult!) subjects?

I’m thinking about starting a journal where I can keep track of cases that catch my eye and write down story ideas, both nonfiction and fiction. Call me an amateur sleuth, but maybe there’s a reason I’m drawn to such stories. There’s no reason not to try, right?

And now I want to hear from you. What are some of your dream writing projects? Have you achieve any of them, and if not, what steps are you going to take to do so?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who spends far too much time browsing through the cases on The Doe Network. She hopes it will all pay off one day in the future.


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Friday, April 29, 2016

 

Friday Speak Out!: 9 Tips To Help Overcome Your Introvert Creative Self

by Brenda Moguez

If you're a creative person following a passion you've come to the harsh realization attracting fans to your own Field of Dreams isn't quite as simple as building it--the it being your blog, your INDY book, your paintings, your poems, or the handmade jewelry you've invested countless hours creating. All Ray Kinsella had to do was build the field, and they came.

From the moment, I decided to release the voice in my head onto the page I expected the masses would flock to my site and devour my words eagerly. It was shocking to learn to write a book wasn't the hardest part of becoming a writer. Writing, as it turns out, is actually the easiest part of being a writer. What was/is the most challenging aspect was/is shedding my natural loner/shy inclination. How to break down my barriers, quite frankly, has challenged me, even woke me at 3 am.

Unlike other closet introverts, I am not enamored with social media. Honestly, there is the issue of time and my lack of it. Social media hasn’t liberated me. I prefer up close and personal intimacies, thrive in the space I inhabit inside of my imagination and absolutely love the quiet time when I am inventing.

I know there are others out there in the vast universe who are like me. We would probably be besties if we weren't so circumspect, but…well, we haven't taken the plunge, batted our eyelashes and said, "Hey, do wanna chat, maybe share digits, even write a blog post together. Oh to be so daring, so bold and brazen. If you are out there and looking for a kindred spirit…

Until I find you, here is a guideline on how to overcome your own quirky self and be less shy:

1. Allow your inner confident self to shine.

2. Use your voice to express the thoughts you’re thinking, don't fret if someone disagrees. An opinion, is just that, a person's point of view. Conflict can be creative.

3. When nervous about stepping outside of your comfort zone, remind yourself what you have accomplished to date.

4. The next time you are staring down the Twitter window. Go for it, share your quirkiness with Twitterdome, tell them how you feel about Miss Piggy and Kermit's breakup and Mr. Trump's hair fashion.

5. Take a deep breath and then let go of what you think you can't do. Also, don't be disappointed when whatever you say or do goes unnoticed. Trial and error, baby. Modify. Be prepared to edit.

6. There is no wrong way to be you--the right way is whatever you decide.

7. Put it out there--tell the world you have a little stage fright when it comes to tooting your own horn.

8. Confess what you have always believed: Passion is meant to be shared and spent freely, never hoarded or wasted. Share yours, now.

9. And finally, don't worry, be happy. In the grand scheme of things your reserve is part of who you are and when ready you will overcome whatever it is that holds you inside and your inner self will break free.

What is the hardest obstacle you've had to overcome?

* * *
Brenda Moguez writes the kind of stories she loves to read—women’s fiction, starring quirky, passionate women who are challenged by the fickleness and complexities of life. She’s particularly drawn to exploring the effects of love on the heart of a woman. She has aspirations for a fully staffed villa in Barcelona and funding aplenty for a room of her own. When she’s not working on a story, she writes love letters to the universe, dead poets, and Mae West. Her second novel, Nothing is Lost in Loving, is set to release April 2016. You can find her at http://www.brendamoguez.com where she explores passionate pursuits in all its forms.
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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

 

I Will Never...

Did you read Sue's post yesterday "WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Editor: Ally or Adversary?" It began with the following quote: “After that experience, I’m never working with an editor again. It’s strictly self-publishing for me.” This reminded me of a recent conversation with a fellow mom. In retrospect I feel really silly for all the times in life I've uttered the words "I Will Never...". The list is quite lengthy and most of these were expressed in my youth:

- I will never drive a minivan
- I will never spank my children
- I will never wear yoga pants in public
- I will never bribe my children to behave in the grocery store

The list goes on, and I'm sure you've got a list of your own. I couldn't picture myself driving a minivan, but then again I couldn't have known I would have four children. Now I'm a minivan mama and I love the extra room, the DVD player, and the sliding side doors. It has really simplified my life. Same thing with spanking. I happen to have one particular child who is strong willed. She has received a spanking or two in her lifetime and she is better for it. When I was sixteen-years-old I had no way of knowing what type of child I would have, much less what type of parenting style I'd have to adopt in order to raise said child. As for the yoga pants in public, I've seen worse, and at this stage in the game I'll choose form over fashion any day and crawling on the floor playing Legos is much more comfortable in yoga pants. Bribery in the grocery store is a different story. I never bribe my children to behave in the grocery store--and if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you. I have four children, so on a good day, one of them will have some sort of meltdown or temper tantrum in the cereal aisle. On a bad day, they'll ALL have a meltdown. I've often bought the Cookie Crisp or promised them a trip to the park if they'll just let me get out of the store with my groceries.

My reality looks far different than the picture I painted in my head when I was young and naive. I've learned to take a step back and look at the situation without judgment. I feel I'm a better person because of the lessons life has taught me. Now, how does this apply to my writing life? Publishing a book is a lot like picking out a great pair of jeans and instead of saying "I will never..." I think it's important to try on a few different pairs of jeans before deciding what you do and don't want. Same thing with writing and publishing. Those of you who have said "I will never self publish" may just want to brush up on the topic. You may find a self-publishing platform that is just right for you, or you may find a publishing firm that is such a good fit you couldn't imagine publishing any other way.

We evolve with time. I remember my daddy saying "I will never pay more than $1 for a gallon of gasoline" and I wonder what he would be doing today. He actually never did pay more than a dollar, because he passed away before fuel prices got silly. Chances are, if he were still around, he would gladly pay $1.87 per gallon if it meant being able to visit his grandchildren.

The moral of the story is this: We change over time. Technology changes of time. If we aren't open to learning about something different, we are limiting ourselves.

This can be applied to our parenting, our marriage, our writing, and our career. Do you have an "I will never ___________" story to share? Leave it in the comments and we can giggle together! Thank you as always for taking a moment to read my post. I hope it made you smile, and gave you a little different perspective.

***

Crystal is a church musician, babywearing mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 7, Breccan 2, and Delphine 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.


You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/ and here: http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

 

Editor: Ally or Adversary

“After that experience, I’m never working with an editor again. It’s strictly self-publishing for me.”

While there are many reasons to choose self-publishing, not wanting to work with an editor isn’t one of them. The fact of the matter is that a top-notch editor is your greatest ally for a variety of reasons.

  • They give us that little push. Most writers I know reach a point with their manuscript where they are just done. They don’t want to see it again. They don’t want to think about it. They want to go on to something new. An editor can give you that push you need to take a good story and make it great. Nine times out of ten, when my editor asks me to make a change, it’s something that I suspected needed to be done but I just wasn’t sure. Or, perhaps more honestly, I just didn’t feel like doing.

  • They maintain a bit of distance. Part of the reason that it is so hard to make our writing great on our own is that we are just so close to it. It is too familiar which means that we don’t always see the story that we have written down. We’re still seeing that perfect creation we had in mind when we started writing. The editor is going to be better at spotting things that should have been cut, reslanted or polished to a high gloss. With their help, we can take the story we wrote and make it the story we meant to write.

  • They know the market. We may think that we know the market, but if you are like me you write for several different markets. That means you just aren’t going to know the market as well as your editor. The good news is that they can use this knowledge to shape your work. Yes, I’ve been asked to take out things that I thought were brilliant, but I’ve also been told to add things that I regretted leaving out. The good news? I didn’t have to leave them out. My editor, who knew the market, encouraged me to add something that I thought would be too dark and grim but it’s the gory, icky detail that young readers love.

I’m not going to say that the editor is always right. I worked once with an educational editor that didn’t know what leveled vocabulary was or that individual words had known reading levels. He ignored our contracts and heaped on as much work as we allowed. When I finished with that particular project, I told him that I had another contract with someone else and didn’t have time for a second assignment.

Not every editor is top-notch, but work with a great one and you’ll definitely see a difference in your writing even if you chose to self-publish.

--SueBE

Sue is the instructor for our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins on June 6, 2016.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

 

Meet Flash Fiction Runner Up, Nina Skaya!

Nina Skaya grew up in Westport, Connecticut, studied philosophy at Princeton and music at the University of Michigan, and has worked as an acquisitions editor for Greenwood Publishing Group and as a regular contributor to Music Alive!, an educational music magazine. She plays oboe and English horn in several ensembles in her new home of Washington, DC.

Nina has studied writing at the Write Yourself Free school in Westport where she has learned, among many other things, to write more, faster, and better. Her first published short story appeared in Niche Lit Magazine in 2015. Inspired by a year-long trip to Italy, Nina is working on a humorous novel set in Rome and New York City.

You can read Nina's flash fiction piece here.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Fall 2015 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Nina: I had a bunch of short pieces in my files and I wanted to see what flash fiction contests were out there. Fortunately, I stumbled across the WOW contest. I liked the way the website features the winning entries. It feels very friendly and personal.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, "Tuesdays and Fridays?" I really enjoyed it and I felt like I was there, living through the character.

Nina: Thank you! I went through a period of using song lyrics as prompts for free-writes, and “Tuesdays and Fridays” came out of one of those exercises. I was making my way through one of my favorite albums: Palomine by the Dutch band Bettie Serveert. The song "Leg" has the lyrics:

Tuesdays and Fridays

I'd wait at the bus stop

And guess who won't show up

I'm tired of waiting for you.

I hope that the band is flattered by the use of their lyrics and doesn't mind lending me a few phrases here and there!

WOW: I would think they'd be pleased to have inspired a winning fiction piece. You mention that you learned to write more, faster, and better at the Write Yourself Free school in Westport, Connecticut. We’d love to know how to do that!

Nina: The lyric prompt exercise came straight out of a class with Patrick McCord of Write Yourself Free. Timed free-writes are a good way to get yourself writing faster. Find a prompt, set the timer, write longhand and just go for it. Don't stop to think. Just write. A lot of my favorite pieces have come out of exercises like this. I wind up with things that I would have never come up with if I'd stopped to plot out my writing. Now that I've done a lot of these exercises, I can channel that feeling into my longer pieces.

Another important thing I've learned is that you can write a lot in just 10 or 15 minutes. Waiting for a large block of free time isn't really necessary.

That’s my little bit of insight into the “more” and “faster” parts. Writing better came from taking classes with a great teacher.

WOW: Great ideas. Can you also share any good books you’ve read lately?

Nina: I’ve been reading mostly short stories lately. Here are some of my all-time favorite books; the kind that I buy multiple copies of to give away:

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shtyengart

White Noise by Don Delillo

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Farina

First Light by Charles Baxter

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Nina! Before you go, do you have a favorite favorite writing tip or advice for our readers?

Nina: Deadlines. I've accomplished the most when I've set a deadline for myself. Actually, that's only half of it. The other half is telling my friends about the deadline so that I convince myself that I really must meet it and it's not arbitrary. I've noticed that having a deadline removes the idea that I have a choice about writing every day. Making that choice every day is exhausting. Better (at least for me) to make one choice, set the deadline, and know that every day I'll write in order to meet my goal. Of course, I have to pick the deadline and the goal... and sometimes that can take a while!

***

Our Spring Flash Fiction contest is OPEN.
For details and entry, visit our contest page!

***

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Monday, April 25, 2016

 

Journal Number Three

Do you have any guilty pleasure movies you have to watch whenever you run across them on the TV, no matter how many times you've seen them? One of those movies for me is "A Walk to Remember"
based on the Nicholas Sparks' novel of the same title. It is a sappy story that breaks your heart--I literally start crying the first time the main character begins talking and sob off an on throughout the entire movie.

The last time I watched it (yes, it was just last month) I was intrigued by the fact that the female character has a journal of sorts kept by her deceased mother where she collected quotes, advice and excerpts from various places that she found helpful. In the past I've kept two types of journals:

  1. The "Dear Diary" type that records what's happening in my life.
  2. A writer's journal that I use to record ideas, work out problems in my WIP and set goals for myself.
But after watching "A Walk to Remember" I decided to try another journal...a collection of others' thoughts that I don't want to forget. After just a month I have pages of poetry, favorite quotes, song lyrics, even an essay I copied off a fast food bag (it was about chocolate!).

I haven't worked out the purpose of this new journal except that I finally feel secure that I won't forget these things I read and think "That's great. I have to remember that." Sure, we think that with the Internet we can search our way to everything have forgotten but a search like "quote about dreamers" after seeing something written on the chalkboard at your local coffee shop and you'll realize just how VAST the Internet is. 

It is part inspirational, with lots of "you can do it" cheers. It is part humor, with funny poems about dogs, growing old and raising children to make me laugh. It is part challenge, with the words of other writers that have become embedded in my memory the way I hope one day my words will find a part of other people's lives. I page through it often and many times find what I need.

Do you collect others' writing in a journal?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

 

National Poetry Month: Checking In

2016 Poetry Poster from Poets.org
It’s April, which means it’s National Poetry Month!

Earlier this month, Jodi Webb posted about National Poetry Month and the 30 activities you can do to celebrate.

I’ve been participating in Writer’s Digest’s 2016 PAD Challenge to write a poem every day in April. Writer’s Digest writer, Robert Lee Brewer, provides a prompt every day, an example poem he wrote, and space for others to share their poems.

As a self-proclaimed non-poet, this is a challenge for me! I have participated for the past several years, never writing 30 poems in the month, yet it has been so rewarding.

Making the switch from prose to poetry allows me to:

  • Concentrate on every single word choice
  • Focus on word order by noticing the rhythm of word choices
  • Enhance descriptions and emotion by using strong imagery
  • Avoid telling rather than showing

And these benefits are in addition to the multiple benefits Jodi already listed!

Like Jodi, I am not suggesting that you need to become a poet. But for those of you who are not poets, I encourage you to dabble in a bit of poetry now and then because it allows you to take residence in a different part of your brain, to see language differently, to feel stories differently. A new perspective can give your writing the boost it needs.

You don’t need to wait until next April to practice writing poetry: the 2016 PAD Challenge prompts are available year round so you can take the challenge at your own pace at a time that’s convenient for you.

How has National Poetry Month been going for you? What have you learned from reading and/or writing poetry this month?

Written by Anne Greenawalt

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