Saturday, July 26, 2014

 

Business Card Love

I just ran out of business cards and I’m beside myself!

In a good way, I mean. I love getting new business cards!

I love that for twenty bucks or so, I can design exactly what I want for my business. I love that I can correct the past mistakes. And I love that each time I go through the process, I learn a little bit more about branding—and about myself as a writer.

So I gathered up all the business cards I’d collected from writers through the last year to find what I really liked, and what worked well. And I thought about how I wanted the world to see Cathy C. Hall, the writer. Then I designed my new card. (Wheee!)

But first, here’s the essence of what I kept in mind when designing:


PICTURE, PICTURE, PICTURE

I am horrible with names (especially if I’m meeting lots of new people!), but I’m very good with faces. So when I see a card with a face, I remember that writer (or agent or editor or publisher). Don’t you?

That’s why I always put my face on a business card. Front or back, I don’t think it matters as long as the picture is recognizable. (Haven’t you seen those cards with a twenty-years-younger face and found yourself wondering if it’s the same person? Don’t be that writer, please.)


WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Oh. My. Word. It’s hard to believe that writers will sometimes put their names in the fine print of their business card. You need a magnifying glass to read it!

I always make my name just a bit bigger, and sometimes in a different color. Now, I know authors work hard to get their books noticed, but your name is important, too, so make it stand out! After all, for most writers, our name is our brand.


CONTACT!

If agents or editors give you their card, they want you to send material. If writer friends give you their card, they’re hoping you’ll get in touch. So it’s pretty darn important that contact information be on the card.

I put my email address on the front of the card. (And please make sure that your name is in your email address.) And I also include my website on the front of my card. I don’t list all my social media addresses on my card because that’s easily found on my website. That’s a style issue, I think, but I’d rather leave off all the Facebook, Twitter and other media so I can squeeze a little bit more out of my name!

EXTRA, EXTRA!

Once I have the necessaries, I’m ready to add the extras, all the fun stuff where I can get creative.

I like to include the tag line from my website, and artwork that ties everything together, so that my brand is reinforced. But I’ve seen writers who use a simple title like “Author” and include book cover art. Or writers who tie in their genre with the background of their cards. Say a science fiction writer whose name floats on a starry night sky.


When all is said and designed, I think the best business cards for writers work because they’re packed with clean, professional information as well as personality, and I’m always working toward that goal. If you have any ideas about what works—or doesn’t work—in a business card, I’d love it hear it!

And now, the unveiling of my newest card. I think I like it.

For now.




~Cathy C. Hall















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Friday, July 25, 2014

 

Friday Speak Out!: HENLIT: Whether They Realize It or Not, Millions of Boomers Are Waiting For It

by Jo Barney

When did I stop writing about the angst of torrid love, motherhood, wandering husbands, and terrible bosses? About the time, probably, that I got bored with the angst and became a hen.

The transition was subtle, in me and in my writing. Not that I didn’t still pay attention to love, children, work, but the women I began writing about had concerns and problems that reflected my growing uneasiness in a world that worshipped youth, in literature as well as in life.

So, one of my characters decided that romantic love was not a real entity, but something conjured a few centuries ago to complicate the reasons for marriage. She opted for good conversation over a 2012 bottle of white wine. Another character rejoiced when her children grew up and she discovered a world beyond report cards and teenage sex, including a little of her own.

One of my favorite women told her prick of a principal to go f**k himself and walked out of a career built on files of old lesson plans. Her next stop was a tent in Rwanda and she didn’t care what might come after that.

In contrast, if a chick hates her boss, she’ll probably piss, screech, toss her head, flap wildly, and stomp out of the roost. A hen will just waddle away, exit the yard through a hole in the fence, leaving behind only a ruthless peck or two of revenge.

At least, that’s what my characters do because after a little foundering, my old hens often realize that they can take control of the rest of their days, uncertain in number as they might be. Unlike young chicks who have little awareness that an end may be right around the next pile of corn, they know there might not be another pile of corn. Appreciate the one in front of you, the life you are living right now, they tell each other, clucking and nodding.

Like giving time and thought to the path they’ve been following for years. Older women set on nests full of memories, turn over the eggs, ponder, exalt about small, clicking cracks, or, when a memory turns out to be a dud, they toss it out. And they sometimes cluster near the water bowl, or most likely glasses of white wine, in twos or threes, cackling softly about the uncharted territory that lies ahead.

I am guessing that the millions of baby-boomer women who are way past being chicks have settled into their hen lives and are looking for books about people like themselves--intelligent, flawed, problemmed, seeking, mature individuals who can make their ways through the hole in the fence when necessary.


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Jo Barney writes about older women, something she knows a lot about nowadays. While it wasn't always that way, her latest three novels star: an older woman who removes graffiti in her neighborhood (Graffiti Grandma), four women in their 60's reliving their pasts and coming to grip with the reality of the present (Uprush) , and a seventy-year-old who wakes up from an unloving marriage and to a dead husband ( Not There Yet, 2015). Her writing emerges on the old adage, "Write what you know about," expanded to "Write what you don't know about and lie awake at night thinking about." She would add, "and can laugh with friends about."


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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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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

 

Cashing in on Your Vacations


This time next week, I will be on a much-needed family vacation at one of our favorite South Carolina beaches. Workwise, the timing couldn’t be better, as we will have just sent the latest issue of the magazine I edit to the printer and my next round of freelance assignments aren’t due for a few more weeks. But, as most freelancers know, vacation is no time to rest upon our laurels.

I’ve turned many a vacation into blog posts and travel articles, and over time, I’ve definitely learned to keep my eyes open to possible story ideas while traveling. I’ve been able to write about several trips for different magazines I write for, such as this article, Which Carolina Beach is Best for Your Family? This past year, when we ventured out on a weekend trip at a bed and breakfast in the North Carolina mountains, I reviewed the inn in a regional magazine parenting article that began, “As much as I love my kids, there are times I need to get away with just my husband.” It doesn’t have to be a lengthy or expensive trip—even just a few days to decompress works wonders.”

The great thing about brainstorming while on vacation is that it’s relatively simple. All you really need is an open mind and a good camera to help you take photos to accompany any articles (editors love it when you can do this). And the best part? Save all your receipts, because if you write about specific places/restaurants/experiences within that year, you can possibly deduct them from your taxes.

Vacation is also a great time to snap photos of things you don’t normally see that you can then archive for future blog posts, such as the image I've included at the beginning of this post. I’ve also started a Pinterest board combining some of my travel photos and articles.

In addition to mining the brochure racks for story ideas, I also plan on spending some time each day doing a little prospecting, so that I can make sure to start lining up assignments for the fall and winter. But don’t worry—I won’t spend too much time behind my computer. I have a tote bag full of books and several more saved on my Kindle that I’ve been saving specifically for next week. Until next time!

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who also works as a Blog Tour Manager for WOW! Women on Writing. She also blogs at Renee’s Pages.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

 

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo launches her WOW! Blog Tour for her debut novel, The Fourth Wall

& giveaway contest!

The Fourth Wall is a fabulously written first novel. When Marin was little and monsters chased her through nightmares, she learned to weave her own dreams. Her mother called the lucid dreaming a gift, and when an accident takes her mother and leaves her baby brother an empty shell, Marin uses this gift to spin a new reality for herself. One without time or sorrow. A world without memory.

But just when Marin thinks she’s safe in her make-believe fantasy world, the monsters come back and her dream turns to a nightmare. Something in the dream doesn’t want Marin to wake up. In order to heal herself and her family, Marin must face the truth she’s forgotten and conquer what lies behind the fourth wall.

Paperback: 235 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (June 10, 2014)
ISBN-10: 193717851X
ISBN-13: 978-1-937178-51-2

Twitter hashtag: #FourthWall

The Fourth Wall is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of The Fourth Wall, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, July 25th at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo grew up writing short stories and bad poetry before escaping the cold winters of Wyoming and settling in the Sonoran Desert. She lives in Tempe, Arizona with her husband and two children, Abigail and Gabriel. She still loves to write, but fortunately gave up on poetry. The Fourth Wall is her first novel.

Elizabeth’s creative nonfiction has appeared in Brain, Child, Phoenix New Times, Literary Mama and Babble.com, and is forthcoming in Brevity. Elizabeth is also an award-winning fiction writer; her short stories have been published in The Portland Review, Hospital Drive, SLAB Literary Magazine, and Bartleby Snopes. Links to her work and information on classes/critiques can be found at http://www.elizabethmarianaranjo.com/.

You can also connect with Elizabeth on her social networks:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/elizabethmarianaranjo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.m.naranjo

Twitter: https://twitter.com/emarianaranjo

----- Interview by Crystal J. Otto

WOW: Elizabeth, I am so happy to have you here today! I know you’ve been busy so we sure appreciate your time. If you don’t mind my asking, who inspired your love of writing and how did they inspire you?

Elizabeth: That’s a really interesting question, because I can’t remember when or why I started to write, I just remember always doing it. It felt like a part of my identity, probably because my teachers reinforced that. You know how each kid has an identifier, whether that’s right or wrong—Sally, the math whiz; Bob, the class clown; Anne, the artsy one. I was the one who wrote stories.

What I do remember is that the inspiration for my stories usually came from songs. Even as a very young child, I spent a lot of time in my room listening to music and daydreaming about the stories in the songs. So I guess I came around to answering your question—musicians and song writers inspired my love for writing.

WOW: That’s interesting and a friend recently posted something similar on their social media saying, “You can tell a lot about someone based on their favorite song.” If you had to choose a song to go along with The Fourth Wall, what would it be?

Elizabeth: It would definitely be “Infinite Dreams” by Iron Maiden  not only because it's a favorite and fits the book well, but because the first six words are so perfect. I actually wanted to use them at the beginning of the book, but it's very difficult to get permission for song lyrics.

)

WOW: Some of us credit our writing friends and writing groups for some of our inspiration and encouragement. How do you feel about writer's groups and book clubs and why?

Elizabeth: I think writer’s groups can be fantastic because they keep you disciplined. Having to show up on a regular basis with fresh pages is very motivating. You don’t want to be the one hanging her head, mumbling some excuse or another about why you didn’t have time to write two pages in seven days, or whatever.

I think book clubs are great, too. Readers are so passionate, and they love sharing and discovering and talking about books. A lot of the titles on my to-be-read list right now are there because friends on Goodreads discussed and reviewed those books.

WOW: You’re right on about the passion. Thanks for sharing your passion with us. Even when we are passionate about writing, it can sometimes happen…the dreaded writer’s block. How do you overcome the block when it happens to you?

Elizabeth: If I’m stuck, I write by hand. Switching to pen and paper, even if it’s just to scribble ideas, draw outlines, or list character traits, seems to get me moving again.

WOW: That’s great advice…wish it was that easy for all of us; you’re amazing Elizabeth! Sometimes I revert to journaling and set down other work until I can work around or through the block. Do you journal?

Elizabeth: I’m not comfortable keeping a journal. I did when I was a young girl, but looking back at entries, even just weeks later, always embarrassed me. The same way first drafts are embarrassing, but those change; they are meant to be edited and refined. It’s like hearing your own voice recorded. You cringe and think, “Do I really sound like that?”

WOW: That’s an interesting take on journaling Elizabeth.

Is it still pretty surreal or is it sinking in--The Fourth Wall already has Amazon reviews! When did you say "pinch me, I'm dreaming?"

Elizabeth: It felt more like a dream when WiDo Publishing offered me the contract last August. Since then, the feeling comes and goes. Moments like a few weeks ago, when my copies of The Fourth Wall arrived and I held the book in my hands, still feel surreal.

WOW: I’m sure holding the copies were similar to holding a new baby. Of course we know we are pregnant, but it just seems unbelievable to have a little person in our arms! The Fourth Wall is a beautiful baby Elizabeth; you did a fabulous job!

Here’s a question I would ask a new author but never a new mother. What’s next for you? Can we expect another ‘book baby’ soon?

Elizabeth: I’m working on research for my next novel, and I want to get back to writing essays and submitting my short fiction. There hasn’t been a lot of time lately for writing, unless it’s answering emails or writing blog posts etc. See, now I’m making excuses. I should maybe join a writer’s group.

WOW: I’m sure any group would welcome you with open arms! Writing groups make me think of reading groups, so let me end with this question: What do you hope readers "get" out of reading The Fourth Wall? What did you intend the take away to be?

Elizabeth: I hope they get a good story. That’s the most important thing. Essentially, the book is about the power of grief, and how holding onto it can do damage. It’s about the importance of moving on.

WOW: That’s a great takeaway!

I just have to ask one very last question: what is your advice to other writers hoping to publish?

Elizabeth: Start scribbling. Just grab a pen and a notebook and write something. Now, keep going.

WOW: Thanks for the great advice and awesome interview Elizabeth. It has truly been a pleasure working with you on your tour and we here at WOW! will be looking for many more novels from you in the future!

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

Monday, July 21 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!
http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Tuesday, July 22 @ The Lit Ladies
Don't miss today's interview with Elizabeth Maria Naranjo as she talks to Margo Dill about The Fourth Wall. Once you've found out about Elizabeth's debut novel, get in on the giveaway to get your hands on your own copy!
http://www.thelitladies.com/

Wednesday, July 23 @ All Things Audry
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo makes a visit at All Things Audry and shares her thoughts about "Lucid Dreaming" and offers a giveaway of her debut novel, The Fourth Wall. This is a blog stop you won't want to miss!
http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com/

Thursday, July 24 @ Nutshell Newsletter Post
Join Sheila Gazlay as she reviews The Fourth Wall by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo!
http://nutshellnewsletterpress.wordpress.com/

Friday, July 25 @ Renee’s Pages
Find out what Renee has to say in her review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's debut novel The Fourth Wall. Elizabeth is also offering a giveaway of her fabulous book. A blog stop too exciting to miss!
http://reneespages.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 28 @ Create Write Now
Join Elizabeth Maria Naranjo as she shares information about her debut novel The Fourth Wall and provides insight into "The Advantages of the First Novel".
http://www.createwritenow.com/

Tuesday, July 29th @ Katherine Hajer
Join Katherine Hajer as she reviews The Fourth Wall by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and offers not only her insights but also a giveaway for this debut YA novel!
http://www.katherine-hajer.com/

Wednesday, July 30th @ Words by Webb
Join Jodi Webb as she interviews Elizabeth Maria Naranjo to find out more about this first time author and her fabulous first novel, The Fourth Wall. Jodi will also have a giveaway for her readers so you won't want to miss this exciting blog stop!
http://jodiwebb.com/

Thursday, July 31 @ CMash Reads
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and her debut novel, The Fourth Wall will be highlighted on CMash reads today. Tune in and participate in the giveaway for this highly acclaimed first novel from a very talented young author!
http://cmashlovestoread.com/

Monday, August 4 @ Choices
Learn about the "Benefits of a Small Press" with Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and she gives insight about the publishing process of her debut novel The Fourth Wall.
http://madelinesharples.com/

Wednesday, August 6 @ Blue House Review
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo takes her debut novel, The Fourth Wall and stops at The Blue House Review where she shares some little known "Facts About Elizabeth" and offers a giveaway of her highly acclaimed first novel!
http://www.bluehousereview.blogspot.com/

Friday, August 8 @ I’d So Rather be Reading
Today's spotlight at I'd So Rather Be Reading is none other than Elizabeth Maria Naranjo with her debut novel, The Fourth Wall. Find out more and read a review by Crystal Otto of WOW! Women on Writing as she shares her thoughts of Naranjo's work.
http://www.idsoratherbereading.com/

Tuesday, August 12 @ Romance Junkies
Today's interview at Romance Junkies gives us a glimpse into the writing life of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and her debut novel The Fourth Wall. This is a "can't miss" blog stop!
http://www.romancejunkies.com/

Thursday, August 14 @ Bring on Lemons
Read Crystal's review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's debut novel, The Fourth Wall and get in on the giveaway to receive your very own ebook copy of this fabulous book!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Friday, August 15 @ Selling Books
Check out the interview today at Selling Books and find out about today's spotlight author, Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and her debut novel, The Fourth Wall.
http://www.sellingbooks.com/

Wednesday, August 20 @ A Writer’s Dream
Today you won't want to miss a review and giveaway for Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's The Fourth Wall. Stop by and see what Rae Lori has to say and learn for yourself why this debut novel is receiving such high praise!
http://raelori.blogspot.com/

Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

Get Involved! If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com.

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

Enter to win a copy of The Fourth Wall by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget this Friday, July 25th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

 

Netflix-ify Your Reading Library

Oyster logo courtesy of Oyster.com
If Netflix offers a monthly subscription service for TV shows and movies, and Spotify offers the same for music, so it's only natural that a monthly subscription service for book exists, too. In fact, there are three subscription book services vying for your attention.

On Friday, Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited which allows readers unlimited access to over 600,000 e-books and audiobooks for $9.99 per month. Oyster, founded in September 2013, offers a nearly identical service: For $9.95 a month, you will have unlimited access to over 500,000 books, and Scribd's subscription service, released only a month later, offers a 400,000 title collection for $8.99 a month.

Will Oyster and Scribd survive the unveiling of the Kindle Unlimited?

Libraries for each service include a great mix of titles from multiple genres – literary and young adult fiction, to mysteries and thrillers, to sports books, political science, history, business, children’s books and more.

Authors: you can have your publisher request that your books are offered through Oyster. Scribd also offers numerous services for writers.  Kindle Unlimited's web site does not currently provide information for authors, though it's likely they make deals directly with publishers.

All three services offers apps for both Android and iOS users, and Kindle owners can continue to use their Kindles. The Oyster app was rated as one of the best apps for 2013, and Scribd has also received social media awards. For fun, check out the clever infographic Oyster created to break down the stats of readers using Android vs. iOS systems.

As a book lover, and an avid reader of e-books and audiobooks, these services excite me! The books I read are typically $9.99 for Kindle books, and closer to $15 for paperbacks. I could read a book a week (when I’m not reading textbooks for school). At that rate, I could easily save $30-$45 per month on reading material with either service.

As a teacher, the site further excites me because it can give students access to many books for much cheaper than they might normally pay. I wish these apps existed when I was an undergrad English major!
Oyster app courtesy of Oyster.com

Other than any shortcomings normally associated with e-book reading, I can only think of one potential downfall of this system: not having time to read at least $10 worth of books per month while in school or _____________(fill in any of your activities that eat away at your reading time).

But, to me, that just sounds like motivation to keep reading.

If you want to try Oyster, use this link. If you sign up using that link, you and I both get $15 reading credit. Otherwise, you can sign up through Oyster’s homepage and get a one-month free trial.

Go here for more about Scribd.

Use this link to check out Kindle Unlimited.

Written by Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

 

Finally Jumping On the John Green Bandwagon

So, I finally started reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. As a young adult author and reader of YA lit, this is rather an embarrassing confession.  I should have read it earlier and before it became a blockbuster movie. So, what was the reason for my resistance?  

It wasn't because it was popular--I love best-selling YA.  I'm a Divergent, Hunger Games, and HUGE Harry Potter fan. It wasn't because I hadn't heard about it before--I have an 18-year-old avid reader in my critique group and a Twitter account. No, my resistance came from the subject matter mostly. I didn't want to read a realistic contemporary fiction book about teens that have cancer. 

But I'm so glad I did. By the time you're reading this post, I will have finished the book and most likely dabbed a few tears from my eyes. It is an utterly depressing book, if you only look at it from the subject matter--kids with cancer are not fun to read about. It can not possibly have the typical happy ending we often want, where the two main characters ride together off into the sunset. Cliche, yes? But it's what many readers want.

Then why is this book so popular? Why did it become a movie? What draws us in? My guess is the characters, the humor, and a setting that we are not used to. 

Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters are amazing teenagers--smart, funny, appreciative, loyal, and good. They are not perfect--Green throws in some typical teenage behavior every once in a while, but Hazel and Gus are a pleasure to read about. I read the pages quickly and turned them even faster because I wanted to see what intelligent, witty, hilarious thing they would say next. Green created a brilliant supporting cast to go with them, from Issac to both sets of parents to the eccentric author living in Amsterdam. I haven't had the chance to Google "Everything I Need to Know About John Green" yet; but when I do, I'm hoping for some insight into how he developed these characters.

I know it's strange to say that a book about kids having cancer who fall in love while mutually admiring a book about kids with cancer is humorous, but TFIOS (what our friends on Twitter call this novel) is laugh out loud funny. I giggled several times while reading this book, so much so that my three-year-old asked me, "Mama, what is so funny?" I could not explain to her the Night of the Broken Trophies or the Support Group jokes or the fact that the kids with cancer made fun of cancer perks while taking advantage of them--because she wouldn't understand. I didn't understand until I read the book, but John Green is a brilliant writer, and he knows how to draw readers in with humor.

Finally, I didn't know much about this novel besides the cancer part before I started reading. I don't want to do a bunch of spoilers here, if there is anyone left on the planet who hasn't read this book yet; but part of the novel takes place in Amsterdam. At first, I thought--no way. Why would this teen cancer novel take place in a city known for prostitution and smoking pot? But there is a part of the novel set there, and instead of those things the city is known for--we get an inside look at the Anne Frank House while two teenagers with cancer fall in love. 

The Fault In Our Stars has been reviewed so many times--it's not like you needed to see another review here today. But we are writers. When a writer reads a book that is marvelous, she should take the time to figure out why and see if she can incorporate any of these lessons into her own writing. So, I'm trying, and probably will be for a long time, but I'm so thankful I finally read this wonderful novel, and I think it will change me in more ways than one. 

Have you read The Fault In Our Stars? Is there another book you've read that made you want to be a better writer? 

Margo L. Dill is the author of Caught Between Two Curses and Finding My Place. This weekend, she is holding a contest on her blog to win a $25 gift card or a 3000-word edit, in celebration of the All-Star Break. To find out more, visit: http://margodill.com/blog/2014/07/14/all-star-week/

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Friday, July 18, 2014

 

Friday Speak Out!: Warming Up (It's Not Just for Exercise Freaks Anymore)

by Sioux Roslawski

In my past life as a quilter (now I've been reincarnated as a knitter) I used to have a “junk” project to work on. There would be a wall hanging or a bed quilt that I was working on, but each day that I quilted, before I worked on the project I truly cared about, I'd quilt a bit on some smaller, not-so-important piece. It might have been a wall hanging for an in-law (a relative I was not very fond of, so I didn't care how large my stitches were). Perhaps it was a placemat that was going to be very utilitarian, so if the quilting was not my best, I didn't care. After working on my warm-up piece, I'd set it aside and start working on the sewing I did care about.

Because then, my fingers were warmed up and ready. My needle was nimble. My stitches were so tiny, a microscope was needed to see them. (Okay, that is a slight exaggeration. Forgive me.)

The same technique can be used when writing. Julia Cameron, in her wonderful book The Artist's Way, calls it the daily pages. You write a few pages to get the junk out, so that creativity can really flow once you start working on your novel/short story/article that day.

Recently, I've been working with some middle school and high school teachers. They're working on a graduate class and get the opportunity to explore themselves as writers as well as themselves as teachers of writing. One of the course requirements is a daily writing prompt; every day we begin the class with some sort of quick “exercise” to get us started writing.

One morning, a teacher told us to “Write a story about a girl named Dot without using any words that have a dot in them.” That meant we couldn't use a word that had a lowercase i or j in it. We became word contortionists as we crafted flash pieces, tossing out words that had those dreaded dots.

Another teacher instructed us to write a story with only commands and exclamations. We couldn't use any statements. That was great fun as well.

Along with Cameron's book, I'd recommend Unjournaling by Dawn DiPrince and Cheryl Miller Thurston. It's filled with 200 prompts like the “dot” one and ones like “Describe someone who looks bored. Don't use any form of the words yawned or stared or sighed,” or “Create an impression of a person, real or imaginary, by describing only the person's hands. Use only three sentences.” (See? Some of these exercises might be useful when working on your “real” writing project, so you can double dip!)

So, today before you get working on your YA novel ...Before you start your revision-of-the-day ...Before you begin writing the article you've got on your to-do list ...Warm up your fingers. Get your laptop heated up. Get rid of the “junk” that's in your head—and get ready to really write ...

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Sioux Roslawski is a proud member of the notorious (and sometimes felonious, at least in their fantasies) writing critique group, the WWWPs. During the day she is a third grade teacher. In the early mornings and late at night, she is a freelance writer. Her stories can be found in Chicken Soup collections (soon to be 10) and Not Your Mother's Book anthologies. This summer, she is busy cleaning up puppy pee puddles. More of her writing can be found at http://siouxspage.blogspot.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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