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Friday, September 21, 2018

 

Friday Speak Out!: The Knitting Together of Creative Passions

by Barbara Stark-Nemon

Abbie Rose Stone, the main character in my forthcoming novel, Hard Cider, is a serious knitter. She knits to express her creativity. She knits to spend contemplative time sorting out her life. She knits in the companionship of other women who share her interest. Two different knit shops provide prominent settings in the book. What starts as a minor plot element in Hard Cider, ends up becoming more important throughout the novel. Knitting and writing have a creative connect for me.

Full disclosure— my personal creative time is spent not only in the written word, but also in various fiber arts- knitting, sewing, quilting, and embroidery. And so I imbue my characters with interest in these arts. In Hard Cider, the kinship among women who love to knit leads Abbie to connect with another character long before she understands the shocking reality that will connect them forever. Feeling that kinship to other fiber artists lends an important authenticity to this part of the story and a counterpoint to other plot threads.

And then there is the metaphor of the knitting… the stitching together. To me, the relatedness of fashioning a garment bears a strong creative resemblance to the writing process. It is most helpful to have a sense of where the project is going. Choosing a pattern, finding yarn and colors that work with the desired end product have their objective correlative in choosing a genre, a story structure, finding the right narrative voice, and developing characters. In both knitting and writing projects, there will be unanticipated changes as the piece emerges, discouraging mistakes, “ripping out,” and occasional wishes to abandon the project altogether. There are constant choices as to how perfect the project has to be, and worries as to how it will be received by the desired recipients. Most of all, each of these arts pulls something elemental, something important from inside me as a creative person and allows me to share the results with others— to give something of myself that I have made. The thrill is similar.

I consider myself first and foremost a writer when it comes to my own definition of “what I do.” But I deeply value my creative experience as a fiber artist. When I come across fiber art themes or even just a character who knits in a novel, I’m immediately drawn closer to that character or plot thread. I will never forget the sinister knitting scene at the beginning of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. It still makes me shudder to imagine the stitches marking each guillotine execution. More akin to my own experience, in Kate Jacobs’ Friday Night Knitting Club, and Debbie Macomber’s The Shop on Blossom Street, the authors demonstrate the richness of women supporting each other through their gathering to create with their hands, regardless of the chaos going on elsewhere in their lives. I look forward to providing that little extra enjoyment to readers of Hard Cider.

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BARBARA STARK-NEMON is the author of the award-winning first novel, Even in Darkness. She lives, writes, cycles, swims, does fiber art, and gardens in Ann Arbor and Northport, Michigan. After earning her undergraduate degree in English Literature and Art History and a Masters in Speech-language Pathology from the University of Michigan, Barbara enjoyed a teaching and clinical career working with deaf children. Barbara writes novels, short stories, and essays. Visit her online http://www.barbarastarknemon.com/.
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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

 

Say Yes to Joy... and a Give-Away



Let's face it. Writing is hard work. Actually, I tell my students that writing crap is easy. Writing well is brutally hard.

With all the revising and critique and rejection, we have to carve out some fun during the process. I was reminded of the importance of letting go and saying "yes" to joy on my recent trip to Tulsa.

The trip was supposed to be filled with research, and it was. However, the museums and cultural centers were closed in the evenings. What wasn't closed on Thursday night was one of those paint and sip places. You know, the kind of spot where a room full of non-artists all work with the same model painting... while they drink wine.

My friend and I didn't want to go back to our hotel room and do nothing, and it was too early for dinner, so she and I decided to become artists for a couple of hours.

Me, I was driving, so I only drank water and still my painting ended up a hot mess. (I've cropped my picture so you can't see too many of the clouds that look exactly like floating blue turds. I am not exaggerating.)

For me, most of the joy of writing is the unpredictability of it. I'll give you some examples of joy that I've experienced while working on my WIP:

  • It's historical fiction. It focuses on a massacre. In the very beginning of my work, I had on rose-colored glasses. The family would do what they needed to do in order to survive. The community would be decimated, but the family would live on... in another city.
          But then a writing colleague asked, "Do they all make it?" It wasn't even something I
          considered. That simple question changed the whole direction of the story.
  • I had my ending decided a long time ago. The family was going to camp out in a park for a couple of weeks (which is what a lot of people did after this tragedy), and then relocate to another city. However, as I dug a bit deeper, I found a better interim place that will shelter the family--one that will add more complexity to the story.
          But I had to be open to the various options... and I had to be willing to scrap my ending so I
          could reconstruct a new one.
  • And just yesterday, another surprise. For more than a year, I've known what happened that made the family leave their home. It made sense. Sort of.
          However, as I learned more about my characters and the plot changed, I found an impetus that
          made better sense... and it gave me the chance to add more tension to my story. 

To grow with the characters... to experience the story as the characters dictate the story's direction... From my perspective, that is fun.

How about you? What has recently surprised you while writing? What do you consider the biggest source of joy as a writer?

The give-away? Oh, I almost forgot. Since Margo Dill recently edited my WIP's most recent draft, and since it's her fault it's becoming a new and improved version, I'm going to give away a copy of her YA novel, Caught Between Two Curses. Leave a comment, and two weeks after this post (9/20), I'll draw a name.





Sioux Roslawski considers the exhilaration of writing addicting. Currently, she's working on a manuscript and keeping her fingers crossed that when it's finished and polished up, there will be at least one publisher interested in it. If you'd like to read more of her musings, head to her blog.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

 

Opening Yourself to New Ideas

I had the amazing opportunity to spend the last four days in beautiful Napa Valley, California with seven of my college girlfriends. Wine. Laughter. Sunshine. More wine. The weekend was everything I could have asked for.

But what I haven’t mentioned yet are the stories. Yes, we’ve known one another for twenty-two years, but that doesn’t mean we’ve kept in touch the way we should. And this weekend gave us the opportunity to share copious stories. Some were funny. Some were sad. Some were poignant and some unbelievable. Some stories will stay in Napa because they can never come home.

At one point, however, my friend Ann suggested that I write a book about us. Not about us, exactly. But about the situation – seven friends who come together for a Napa weekend after twenty-something years of friendship and what they learn about themselves and each other.

Initially, I said no. I write young adult fiction – paranormal, fantasy, non-reality-based fiction. Still, the more I thought about it, the more the idea began to take shape. Maybe I COULD write a book about this. Maybe it’s the thing that’s been waiting in the back of my head, screaming to get out. The ideas are there – as soon as she mentioned it, they flowed. There’s certainly the emotion behind it. Maybe much of it will still be fiction, but isn’t most fiction based in reality anyway?

The idea of writing the unfamiliar is scary. We know what we’re good at, so it’s easy to stay in the same rut. Here’s the thing though - maybe we’d be great a writing something else. Maybe it’s time to branch out. Maybe it’s time to open ourselves to new ideas.

I know this weekend was incredibly inspiring. I learned about fashion, incredibly helpful apps, limo buses called True Elegance, and what it means to keep friendships for long periods of time. It also inspired me to write outside my comfort zone. And that is something that will stay with me forever.

So I challenge you to do the same. I feel more energized to write than I have in a long time. It’s all about having the right idea, and who cares if it’s what we’re comfortable with or not?



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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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

 

Interview with Jamie Destouet: 2018 Spring Flash Fiction Contest 3rd Place Winner

Jamie’s Bio:
Jamie Destouet is a writer/editor for a publishing company and a graduate of the University of Houston Downtown. Her writing allows her to create worlds and characters that embody her passions, fears and ambitions. This is her first submission to a writing competition. A native Houstonian, she lives with her sister and her own personal Dragon (though those without imagination just see a black cat). She aspires to be a novelist, but for now lives a simple life working on writing projects whenever time allows. Perpetually a lover of exceptional stories, she indulges in all things Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Christopher and Johnathan Nolan, Sherlock Holmes, Japanese graphic novels and story-driven video games. She was recently brought on to co-write a murder-mystery adventure game due for release in 2019.


If you haven’t done so already, check out Jamie’s award-winning story “A Little Request” and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing 3rd in the Spring Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story? What excited you most about writing this story?

Jamie: I had no idea where it was headed. When I'm creating, I sometimes find myself as part observer. The story plays out in my head like a movie and I'm the only person in the theater on premiere night. These characters have minds of their own and I'm furiously attempting to keep up as my ideas take over. I was both excited and terrified to see the outcome of my creation, to follow the story to its conclusion. I don't always enjoy the finale, but I always accept it as truth, as honest.

WOW: I love that, too, when the characters come to life and act in ways I never imagined. Did you learn anything about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece?

Jamie: It wasn't so much a learning experience as a confirmation. I'm angry and terrified for the future. For too long, I have felt helpless as the world evolves into immense ugliness. I was born and raised leaning and watching progress in the world; and over the last couple of years, I've been forced to watch huge achievements undone and still more unraveling with every passing day. I used to think that my rights were safe, that 2018 would never look again like 1918 or 1818. It's a warning—that apathy will see progress buried in the ground.

WOW: That’s a terrifying realization, though it’s useful that you can call attention to this through your writing. Can you tell us more about what it’s like to co-write a murder-mystery adventure game?

Jamie: It's my first time writing for this platform and the process is amazingly complex. We decided, early on, that we wanted the game to feature true consequences for each action; in essence, every choice you make alters how people perceive you, your own sense of guilt or pride, who stays by your side and who abandons you. The character development continues to fluctuate and each scene must be individually tackled to reflect all the events that occurred before. It's copious hours of discussion, writing, editing, more discussion editing and writing ad infinitum...and my desire to work on a story-focused game realized.

WOW: That does sound like a very complex but also very rewarding process! What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Jamie: I just finished reading a Korean Web comic (legally translated into English) called Dark Heaven by JUN. It's an absolutely fabulous story that follows the relationship of Simon and Connor. They dream of thriving together in their band, but their plans get turned upside down. A cult called WAF, a hate group with its tendrils in both the police and government, terrorizes immigrants, minorities, homosexuals, and anyone who is "different." It's gorgeously drawn and tackles many dark themes, including homophobia, mental illness, drug use, murder, suicide, self-harm, PTSD, domestic violence, rape, and more. Yet, through it all, there is love, humor, happiness, family, and friendship. It's brilliantly written and an incredibly inspiring read.

WOW: That does sound dark yet thrilling and important. If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why?

Jamie: Don't expect it to happen. I remember walking into a bookstore when I'd decided, very young, that I wanted to be a writer. I walked up and down all the aisles with my parents, looking up at the towering shelves and displays and seeing all the thousands of books that literally surrounded me. I imagined that if there were so many different books and authors that perhaps it might be easy to join them, to have my name on posters and banners, as well. Alas, I was young and my dreams just that. I continue to write and work very hard at my passion, but I would warn my younger self about managing expectations in an industry where so many seek recognition.

WOW: Thank you for sharing that advice! Anything else you’d like to add?

Jamie: I'd like to thank everyone at Women on Writing for putting together this contest and to all who gave their valuable time reading, critiquing, and judging. It's a real honor to have others take their valuable time to consider my writing. I'd also like to congratulate the 1st and 2nd place winners. After reading both their entries, I am truly honored to have placed among them. Writing truly means the world to me; it's my best way of communicating with people as it gives me the confidence that speaking usually does not. I'm thrilled I took this opportunity and I encourage everyone reading this to do the same.

WOW: Thank you for your wonderful writing and thoughtful responses! Congratulations again, and happy writing!

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, and profiles of writers and competitive female athletes.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

 

Mary Maurice launches her book blog tour of The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe

...and giveaway! 

Susan Jordan awakens at her Santa Fe apartment, cloudy and disoriented. Her clothing is unfamiliar. Where has she been? Her nose crinkles as she smells his scent. Jack's back! Rubber filled legs brace against the stone cold tile floor as she reaches for the pile of mail haplessly setting on the table. Dozens of letters! Jack Monroe never stops. Susan wishes he would just leave, take his advice and go back to Detroit. He's gaining too much control! He's taking over!

Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher:  Silver Leaf Books LLC (September 10, 2018)
Genre: Mystery
ISBN-10: 1609752376
ISBN-13: 978-1609752378
ASIN: B07FMX9HLH

The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe is available for purchase in print and as an ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.    

Book Giveaway Contest!

To win a copy of The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe by Mary Maurice, please enter using Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on September 23rd  at 12AM EST. We will announce the winner the next day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:  

When I was a child growing up in the Detroit area, I thought I wanted to be a painter, and then as a teenager the idea of being a musician intrigued me, then as a young adult, I realized that I’m a writer.

After attending Western Michigan University for two party filled years, I decided to leave academia and explore the real world to learn what life is truly about. For fifteen years I’ve traveled the country working in restaurants, writing and doing readings wherever I was welcome.

While living in Minneapolis during my twenties, I was fortunate enough to be tutored by Dr. Jonis Agee, who was at the time head of the creative writing department at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul. Her lessons were imprinted in me for all of these years, and have influenced my writing ever since.

My adventures landed me in San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oregon, finally leading me to the Land of Enchantment where I’ve resided since 1994. Living in Santa Fe, and the beauty and isolation that surrounds me, has inspire my creative muse in ways that no other place has. While still working in the hospitality industry, my passion for the craft of writing has never been stronger. And I know with each sentence I write, and every paragraph I compose, my ultimate goal is to find the perfect word.

Keep on bookin!

Connect with Mary online:

Website: www.marymaurice.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marymauriceauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MMauriceAuthor


---- interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: Mary, Thank you so much for choosing WOW again to help promote yet another great book! Let's dig right in (and for those readers who missed our first interview and tour, they can find it here).  When did you start writing and who inspired you?

Mary: I started writing in the ninth grade, and am inspired by the craft of writing, and knowing that people enjoy my books. Plus, I feel like I'm helping to keep the art of writing alive.

WOW: Those are admirable reasons - thank you. You've had quite a few successes along your writing journey, so do tell: how do you celebrate your successes?

Mary: I celebrate my success by continuing to write and create novels.

WOW: We can't wait to watch The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe climb the charts! Early reviewers are saying fabulous things and we know you'll have plenty of success with this one!

What advice to you have for other writers when it comes to publishing, dealing with rejections, etc.?

Mary: Perseverance, hard work, and a little bit of luck, for me is the key to success. But the most important aspect is passion. If you don't have passion for the craft, then what's the point of writing?

WOW: You're right on about passion - you might as well be passionate about whatever it is you are doing.

What is one thing you'd like readers to take away after reading The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe ?

Mary: I'd like for people to understand the tormented mind of a suicidal person. To realize that they aren't just having a bad day, or that they're depressed because of their life, but that it stems from a deeper problem, ones that usually stay hidden until it's too late. Suicide is so taboo in our society that no one really wants to talk about it, even though it's becoming quite common. We need to be educated about the problem, and then maybe we'll understand and be able to help.

WOW: Thank you for your bravery in tackling this difficult and complicated subject. What's next for you?

Mary: My next novel is, The Dreams of Stellar Martin. A story about a woman who's hiking in the mountains, falls and can't recall who or where she is, and uses her dream journal to remember herself.

WOW: Sounds like a fascinating read! Thank you for spending time chatting with us today! 

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

Monday September 17th @ WOW! Women on Writing
Interview & Giveaway!
http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Tuesday, September 18th @ World of My Imagination
Nicole reviews The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe for readers at World of My Imagination. Don't miss this chance to learn more about Mary Maurice's latest work!
https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 19th @ Beverley A. Baird
Beverley A. Baird reads and reviews Mary Maurice's latest work, The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe and shares her thoughts on this page turning novel!
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

Thursday, September 20th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Mary Maurice writes an intriguing guest post at Choices today. Don’t miss this post and opportunity to learn about The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe
http://madelinesharples.com/

Thursday, September 20th @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews Mary Maurice about Maurice's latest novel The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe.
http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 21st @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Crystal reviews The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe as readers of Bring on Lemons learn more about this latest page turner by Mary Maurice!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 24th @ Cathy Stucker's Selling Books
Don't miss today's interview with Mary Maurice and learn more about her latest book The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe.
https://www.sellingbooks.com/

Tuesday, September 25th @ Words from the Heart with Rev. Linda Neas
Linda reviews The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe for readers at Words from the Heart!
https://contemplativeed.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 26th @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte
Wisconsin mother Michelle DelPonte reviews The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe for readers at Bring on Lemons - will this be a lemon or some tasty lemonade?
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 27th @ A Day in the Life of Mom
Ashley Bass reviews Mary Maurice's latest page turner, The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe. Don't miss her insight and thoughts on this exciting new book!
https://adayinthelifeofmom.com/

Monday, October 1st @ Strength 4 Spouses
Stop by Wendi Huskin’s blog Strength 4 Spouses where she shares her thoughts about Mary Maurice's The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe.
www.strength4spouses.blog

Tuesday, October 2nd @ Coffee with Lacey
Lacey reads and reviews the unusual and intriguing new novel by Mary Maurice - you won't want to miss her thoughts about The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe.
https://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, October 10th @Kathleen Pooler's Memoir Writer's Journey
Mary Maurice is today's author in the spotlight at Memoir Writer's Journey. Don't miss this opportunity to hear from Maurice and learn more about her latest work - The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe.
https://krpooler.com/

Friday, October 12th @ Author Anthony Avina
Fellow author Anthony Avina reviews The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe by Mary Maurice!
http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com


Keep up with the latest stops by following us on twitter @WOWBlogTour.


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

Enter to win a copy of The Suicide Letters of Jack Monroe by Mary Maurice! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway contest closes Sunday, September 23rd, at 12am. We will choose a winner the same day. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

 

Cheryl Fines, Essay Runner-Up Winner, Discusses Depression and Critique Groups

Congratulations to Cheryl Fines, who was a runner-up in our 3rd Quarter Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest with her essay, "The River," which you can read here, and focuses on the theme of depression.

Cheryl is a high school English teacher in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. She feels fortunate to share her love of writing and reading with her students. It is tremendously satisfying to foster in them a love of literature, or to encourage a young person to find their voice through creative writing.

She also takes part in a biweekly writer’s circle at her local public library. She appreciates the support and camaraderie of this group and would encourage other writers to find similar groups. Writing is a rewarding pastime that she will likely never give up. The trick (which she has yet to entirely solve) is in finding a balance between work, family, and other pursuits like writing. One of these years! Cheryl and her partner of 21 years have two amazing daughters. Aside from writing, she spends time with other creative pursuits, as well, such as spinning, dyeing, knitting, felting: all things wool!

WOW: Congrats, Cheryl, on your essay contest top 10 win! Your essay is haunting, realistic, important, and beautiful. The topic of depression has been on the news more than ever with the recent celebrity suicides. What made you compare your struggle with depression to a river?

Cheryl: Thank you. There was an image in my mind, from my childhood, that just kept resurfacing. It was of the river we used to swim in as kids: the current, the undertow. Right before the footings of the bridge, which was in spitting distance of the swimming area (how things have changed!), there was this legendary undertow. I marvelled, as a child, at how the river ran steadily, the movement of the water – except for this area of the undertow. There, the water seemed peaceful, still (except for that giveaway dimple) – it seemed to be the most serene part of the river; but if you went there, it would take hold of you and pull you under. When I had the experience that prompted this piece of writing, that image came to me. I knew that on the surface, things appeared fine. There were no “reasons” for me to feel like dying; work was good, family was great, I was living in a house I love, I had good friends. But regardless of those things that would indicate to anyone that life was good, underneath it all, I could barely force myself to stay. The two thoughts collided at some point, and this metaphor was born.

Aside from that, the power that water wields has always intrigued me: so essential to life, yet also so threatening and devastating at times. People drown, get washed downstream, or out to sea. Floods, tidal waves, undertows, rip tides, predators in the water – there are all kinds of ways in which water can be treacherous. It’s a fascinating force of nature.

WOW: Thank you for sharing with us so honestly. I think you described perfectly why people have such a hard time understanding depression. On the outside, everything seems fine; but that's not how it really is. The river metaphor fit that perfectly! Do you find it hard to have such personal feelings shared with a public audience in your writing?

Cheryl: Fine question! Yes. Absolutely. I wrote the piece for my own benefit to start, and thought I could not share it. It was an intensely personal experience, and sharing it widely like this left me feeling far too exposed. However, I kind of pushed myself into it, because I am always an advocate of destigmatizing mental health issues; yet, I wasn’t willing to go out on that limb myself? Hypocrisy 101. So, yes, it was difficult to share, but I think that many people will have to share many more stories to make progress on the destigmatizing front. A necessary evil, if you will.

There are many ways that people can actively work toward destigmatizing mental health issues. Using appropriate language (e.g., instead of “committing suicide,” one might say that someone has “died by suicide” or “ended her life.” I read an obit recently that referred to the cause of death as “losing a long battle with depression,” just as we do with other serious illnesses), speaking truthfully about our experiences, allowing others to share theirs. We have a long way to go, before mental health is treated like, and spoken about like, physical health; but in my lifetime, I’ve observed a lot of progress. I think we’re improving in a measurable way, year by year.

WOW: I totally agree, and I know I'm as guilty as the next at the language I use. But now because of this interview, I will pay more attention to how I talk about suicide, depression, and mental health in general. I suffer from anxiety, and I'm pretty open about it; but still, even typing that, I'm thinking: who will judge me? So, how does writing about your depression help you?

Cheryl: Life is a constant journey toward deeper understanding – of oneself, of others, of the world, of how people, things, and situations interact – and I personally find it cathartic to move beyond just thinking things through, to committing those thoughts to paper. Just as some people find it immensely helpful to talk through their problems, I find it beneficial to work things out on paper.

WOW: I'm sure many writers agree with you! Your bio states that you have a great critique group. I find mine invaluable. But how did you know you had a good one? What are some of the characteristics other writers should look for?

Cheryl: I am part of a writers’ circle at the local public library. I discovered it via a local published writer, posting about it on social media. I’m grateful for the group for a number of reasons. Of course, I enjoy getting feedback from others about my own writing – it’s interesting and helpful to see how others interpret your work, what they like, and what they feel needs improvement. But I also enjoy reading the other writers’ work – we all have such different styles of writing, which I find highly engaging. The librarian who runs the group has a lovely way about her – she’s very knowledgeable, which is helpful; but also, she models respectful ways of giving feedback, so that the writers never feel deflated from receiving feedback. I really appreciate that this group is available to me.

WOW: That's fantastic, and I agree--so important. Critique should be a partnership between letting the author know what's working and what needs to be revised, so the reader can have the best experience with the text. What's next for your writing career?

Cheryl: I have a couple of large projects on the go. Both are young adult novels; one dystopic, set in our world, but after a devastating ecological catastrophe, and the other is general fiction, focusing on a couple, whose story unfolds in a series of flashbacks.

Meanwhile, I think I am going to run a poetry group at my school in the fall. (I’m a secondary school English teacher.) I appreciate any opportunity to share my love of writing with others, and I think this might be a great chance to do just that. So I guess I see a lot of poetry writing in my future!

WOW: Good luck with all your projects! I'm sure high school students will enjoy having the chance to express themselves in a safe environment. Thank you for your time and congratulations again on winning and writing this crucial essay.

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

 

An Update on 500 Words a Day: Does it Work?

On July 12, I posted about writing 500 words a day on my current WIP (work-in-progress). Although I haven't managed to write 500 words every single day, I'm happy to report that I currently have over 60,000 words on a women's fiction novel. This is the longest manuscript I've ever written, and I can see the end in sight! I know where the novel is going, and I really BELIEVE that all the pieces will fit together for a satisfying ending (okay, after much revision, but still, I BELIEVE!).

This accomplishment is especially satisfying because I went for so long without writing creatively after getting three books for kids published...because life got in the way.

However, by setting a goal to regularly work on my novel and adding it to my to-do list every day, not only am I making progress on my creative writing, but I also have learned three things through this experience.

1. When you set a goal, even if you don't meet it exactly, it works out.
I'm writing three to four times a week (so it's working out to be every other day); and when I write, I usually get out between 1000 to 2000 words. You don't have to be a math major to figure out that I'm producing about the same amount of words every week, as if I was typing 500 words a day.

Also for the first time, I'm plunging ahead, even if I forgot a character's name or know my prose needs work. That's what revision is for. Just get to the end, I tell myself, and then I can go back and fix it. I like to call that the NaNoWriMo method.

2. Writing on a regular basis really is easier, when working on a novel, because you don't forget what's going on in your own manuscript, and therefore you save a lot of time. I used to think I needed at least an hour to write, and I did. I was constantly re-reading what I'd already written and fixing it and/or just reminding myself where I was in the plot. I don't have to do that any more because the characters and plot are fresh in my mind.

Plus, as I've mentioned before in a previous post, I make a note of what I need to write next, so that when I sit down to the computer, I can read that note and remember what I wanted to work on. Another thing I do differently this time--if I think of something I need to add earlier in the manuscript, then I make a comment in the sidebar, instead of going back and adding it right then. I will read those comments and get to them during revision.

3. If you read something that inspires you (I read You Are a Badass!), you need reminders of this inspiration to keep you motivated. Okay, maybe you don't need reminders, but I do. I've mentioned before how the book You are a Badass! inspired me, and I think it's one of the reasons why I made a pledge to finish this novel, to stop letting fear and stress rule my life; but it's so easy to slip back into our old habits and way of thinking. So I bought a daily calendar with quotes from the badass book. Every day I flip to a new date, and a new piece of Jen Sincero's book is on there, reminding me: I got this. I can do this. Nothing can stop me. 

What motivates you to work on  your novel? How do you make time for it? Do you feel like you're fighting yourself to accomplish your goals and dreams? 

Margo L. Dill is a writing coach and WOW! instructor, as well as a writer and freelance editor. You can enroll in her novel writing coach that starts the first Friday of every month by going here. She is also offering  a marketing class starting this fall (on September 26). Find out more about her at http://www.margoldill.com

Typewriter photo above by alexkerhead on Flickr.com


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