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Sunday, November 29, 2015


What Type of Creative Thinker Are You?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my creativity style. Even though I’m a writer, I don’t consider myself a very creative person. Or maybe I should phrase that a little differently—I don’t harness my creativity as often as I should. While I’m best described as a “verbal” learner, meaning I like to use words in both speech and in writing, I’m not talented in the visual arts. I don’t doodle when I take notes, trying to sketch something will completely blow my mind, and there’s no way I could stand in front of a blank canvas and fill it with anything from my own imagination. My husband is always telling me to use the “mind map” method when outlining my books, but in general, I hate outlining. I prefer to sit down at a computer and see where the story takes me. Unfortunately, this hasn’t made me a very efficient novelist.

I decided to do some reading on the topic of creativity and creative thinking. Here’s a little bit of what I learned:

According to Arne Dietrich, there are four different types of creativity with corresponding different brain activities. They are spontaneous, deliberate, cognitive and emotional. Think of inventor Thomas Edison and the methodical approach to thinking he gave each and every one of his inventions and you’ll find an example of deliberate and cognitive creativity. You can thank a hybrid of deliberate and emotional creativity for those “a-ha” moments we all experience from time to time. For any "Big Bang Theory" fans, the episode where Sheldon drives himself crazy working on a theory and then experiences a solution out of the blue when he decides to go work at The Cheesecake Factory for the day can be explained by spontaneous and cognitive creativity. Visual artists, musicians, and writers often experience spontaneous and emotional creativity (this definitely describes me).

If you look over these characteristics, I’m sure you can pick out your own creative thinking style. It was an eye opener for me. It helped me realize while I may come upon an idea spontaneously, it takes more deliberate and cognitive thinking to execute an idea to its fullest. It will take some work. That type of thinking won’t come naturally for me—I tend to be spontaneous even when I’m writing non-fiction. I don’t labor over my words for hours on end before completing an assignment. But if I want to sell more articles and books, that skill set is a necessity. Wish me luck.

How do you do most of your creative thinking—deliberate, cognitive, spontaneous, emotional, or a hybrid of two? Where would you like to improve?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning professional freelance writer, editor and blogger with hundreds of print and online articles and columns to her name. Her experience includes a background in journalism and communications, public relations, writing for regional parenting and city magazines, a daily newspaper and websites and e-zines. Visit her blog at Renee's Pages.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015


A Social Media Tip Worth Dancing About

No, that's not me. Photo courtesy of
So maybe you’ve read the recent rumblings about social media, that all the tweets and status updates don’t exactly translate into mega book sales. For all those writers who found themselves sorely lacking in both time for and skills in social media, this new information was sweet, sweet validation. And to all y’all now dancing in the streets, singing, “Told you so. Told you so. Na-na pooh-pooh,” I have just one thing to say: Not so fast.

Because I think there’s still a need to make time for and develop skills in social media. And I say this knowing that I’m one of those who was out there dancing and singing.

The thing is, research has proved the importance of making meaningful connections in social media. Honestly, we’ve sort of known this all along. And social media is still a quick and easy way to share good news, to ask for support from all those real connections.

But I know there are plenty of you still fighting the social media time and effort suck. So for you, I have a tool. It’s called Thunderclap, and it seems worth a look to me for both traditional and self-published authors.

Thunderclap, according to its website, works like an “online flash mob.” A whole group of people shares the same message at the same time. An author friend—someone whom I’m connected to and always happy to support—asked if I’d participate in her Thunderclap campaign for the launch of an anthology. An anthology is a particularly good use of Thunderclap because there could be anywhere from 10 to 100 writers involved. And if each writer asks his or her friends to sign on for the Thunderclap…well, that’s a pretty big kaboom of a campaign.

I signed on—it was easy—and then forgot all about it. Until I saw the Thunderclap promo on my feed. I saw it on a couple of other mutual friends of the author, and by the end of the day, the book they’d shared had made it to an astonishingly high peak on Amazon’s list of historical fiction.

Like a clap of thunder, the book garnered a sudden burst of attention. That’s something amazing, even if the book didn’t stay up there for long.

You can try the first level at Thunderclap for free, and see what happens. Granted, it won’t do everything, but it’s a bit of a shortcut for social media stuff. Then you’ll have more time for dancing and singing in the street. Which is what you should be doing in the first place, right?

~Cathy C. Hall

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Thursday, November 26, 2015


Flex Those Writing Muscles

Happy Thanksgiving!

One thing for which I am most recently thankful is I finally got the cast on my foot removed, I’ve been slowly regaining strength in my ankle, and starting in December I can start running again. Yay!

Fun fact about me: I am an athlete. I swim competitively and dabble in triathlons and trail running, so I love being on the go. But the foot cast, followed by a bout of bronchitis, has kept my immobilized the past few weeks. This week, however, I was able to get back to the gym. Sort of.
Flex Your Writing Muscles!

After having so much time off, it is difficult to regain the motivation to exercise every day. My body doesn’t respond to the workouts like it used to. I doubt myself. It’s more comfortable to sit on the couch than go to the pool. Blah, blah, blah with the excuses.

And of course this reminds me of writing. When life gets in the way, and I go for days (weeks?!) without writing creatively, my writing muscles atrophy. So when it’s time to write again, it’s difficult to find the motivation to do it. It doesn’t come as easily as it had when I was writing every day. I doubt myself. It’s more comfortable reading someone else’s writing than producing my own. Blah, blah, blah with the excuses.

What helps – in either the exercise or the writing scenarios – is knowing that it will be difficult and uncomfortable at first, but with a little practice, I’ll ease back into it. My muscles will loosen and strengthen, and I’ll get back into a rhythm.

During the holidays, it’s easy to skip the daily writing and exercise routines in favor of family and friends. So don’t feel (too) guilty if you go for days without writing or exercising. Know it may be a little uncomfortable to get back into it again, but you will. With any luck you’ll feel even stronger and more confident than before because you’ll now know you can overcome a little muscle fatigue.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Writing!

Like the writing AND exercising? Check out the WOW! archives to see more comparisons between writing and exercise in an interview with fitness guru Jillian Michaels.

Written by Anne Greenawalt: writer and athlete. 

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Your NaNoWriMO Progress

I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but several of my writing friends are, and I have been following their progress on Facebook and Twitter. I have some very hardworking, writing friends who HAVE ALREADY HIT THE 50,000 word mark. They have won NaNoWriMo, and they are celebrating with cute icons and banners on their social media pages and their blogs. I am proud of them. It is amazing to write 50,000 words in 30 days or less. 

But I also know this is the time of year when several of you who started NaNoWriMo with a bang are now feeling a bit down about yourselves and your writing. You might be at 25,000 words or even 10,000; and if you are celebrating Thanksgiving, well there go your writing days.

I say--don't be discouraged. So, you didn't finish 50,000 words--guess what? I bet that you are 10,000 words more into a novel than you would have been if it wasn't for NaNoWriMo. Am I right? So you write slow. Or maybe something happened in your family you weren't expecting. Or maybe you got the flu--but that's okay, and life happens. I'm here to tell you that you should be proud of your 10,000 or 17,000 or 45,000 words you wrote on a new novel in November. A lot of people, like me this year, didn't write any.

So here's what I want you to think about. Just humor me for a minute. When it's November 30, I want you to write on your blog or Facebook or Twitter account: your total word count, and if you didn't hit the 50,000 word mark, I don't want you to apologize. I don't want you to feel embarrassed. I want you to say: "Hey, world, I just wrote 20,000 words in November. I'm working on a YA novel. And my goal is to continue to work on it each day until it gets finished."
Because really, this is what NaNoWriMo is all about. It's not about 50,000 words really--most of us realize that is not a complete adult-length novel. It's about getting in a habit of writing every day. It's about being familiar with your story on a daily basis so part of your writing time is not spent familiarizing yourself with your novel each time you sit down. It's about creating a new work. It's about writing past writer's block. 

Celebrate with those writers who made the 50,000-word goal but be proud of yourself for whatever you accomplished because you are that much closer to a published novel on December 1.

Margo L. Dill is an editor, writing coach, and WOW! instructor. Find out more at 

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Meet Sally Hogue, Spring 2015 Flash Fiction Runner Up

Sally Hogue lives in a small, country town near Lake Lavon in North Central Texas. These days she spends most of her time writing short stories, growing Earth-kind roses, and serving Her Majesty Queen Cleopatra (Cleo)—her sixteen year old cat. She has recently retired from teaching English at Dallas and Collin County Community Colleges; nonetheless, she continues to tutor English students several days a week at Collin.

While attending college, Sally developed a passion for writing. Her short story entitled, “Headed East,” won the fiction prize her senior year at Southern Methodist University, and another of her stories entitled, “Remembering Grandpa Jones,” placed second in a short story contest her sophomore year at Eastfield College. Both stories were published in the colleges’ magazines. She has written a novella which she continues to polish from time to time. However, her latest venture into the literary world involves writing children’s stories about a cat named Snow.

Today we are delighted to share Sally’s winning story, The Water Nymph’s Metamorphosis, and a brief interview with this rising children’s author.

WOW: Hello Sally, congratulations on your honorable mention in WOW’s Spring 2015 Flash Fiction contest! Where did you find the inspiration for The Water Nymph’s Metamorphosis?

Sally: When I was a child, I loved reading the fairytales. I often fantasized about being a fairy tale princess and running bare foot through an enchanted forest. Although it has been many years since I aspired to be such a creature, I still have an overactive imagination, and I enjoy writing imaginative, descriptive detail.

WOW: What was your process like in writing this piece?

Sally: I started with the idea of a woman who comes of age when she is in her forties—of all things. This woman suffers from unrequited love throughout her adulthood. She changes gradually over the years until she is finally able to let go of the unpleasant memories and move on with her life.

WOW: I enjoyed the symbolism and dream language you used to show the mental and emotional anguish she feels at carrying around all that history and baggage; tell us a little more about these images.

Sally: My favorite literary devices are imagery and symbolism. And, as one knows, vivid dreams are loaded with both of these elements. I dream a great deal myself, and I remember most of my dreams in color! Sometimes I feel my subconscious mind writes the script, and I just go along for the ride.

WOW: That does make for fun writing sessions! The way we followed Ann through the changes in her life spoke to me of the reflective viewpoint that comes with turning forty-five or fifty years of age (maybe because I’m on the downhill slope-“smile”). I’m not convinced a twenty-year-old could pull off the same tone. In what ways do you feel your writing or focus has changed over the years?

Sally: Indeed, the focus of my writing has evolved a great deal as I have matured as a writer. I used to write poetry and stories about ordinary things I observed in my world. Now, I have slipped into other genres: fantasy and children’s stories to name a few. These genres lend themselves to imagery and imagination. Still, I believe they address the human condition—at least as it involves sub consciousness and dreams.

WOW: Would you like to introduce us to Snow? We’d love to hear more about these children’s tales!

Sally: I have written three, going on four, stories about this sweet little cat named Snow. The first one begins as follows: “Snow was a cool cat.” And that she is. In the first story, she saves her master’s life; in the second one, she plays the mouser in the Christmas pageant and in the third one, she uses her super cat powers to evade a coyote attack when she and her family go to the desert. I plan to write twelve in all for each month of the year and illustrate all of them. I haven’t determined whether I want to make separate books of each or compile them into one larger book. In any case, I am in love with this little critter and enjoy letting my imagination go wild when writing about her.

WOW: How wonderful! We absolutely adore cat tales (pun intended). Please keep us posted on Snow and her many adventures (I can hardly wait to read them).

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Monday, November 23, 2015


Is Your Writing Space Helpful? Share Your Ideas!

Some folks write at local coffee shops, some curl up on the couch, and I suppose there are as many writing space styles as there are writers. I think best in the kitchen and I'm a foodie as well as a stress baker. When I was feeling a bit blocked with my writing, I hauled my laptop into the kitchen in hopes it might inspire something fabulous. I gained 10 pounds and my husband is sick of pastries. Still no NYTimes best seller...Apparently my ideas flow in the kitchen but it's not a helpful writing space for me.

I decided I needed to lose the 10 pounds. The day I made that decision was also the day I was scheduled for a bread making class. We chuckled as I enjoyed the yummy warm bread and joked that I was going to have one heck of a time going carb free (or even low carb if I'm honest with myself). It was a good thing I went to class though. The friend teaching it gave me several ideas on improving my writing space. My office now has dim lighting, a salt lamp, and an essential oil diffuser. I even found an essential oil blend that claims to have creative qualities (appropriately named 'Creative Juices'). It's a wee bit early to tell for sure, but I'm feeling like I may be onto something here.

My writing career started in the corporate world under fluorescent lights. The call center I worked at was anything but quiet. It didn't seem to bother me,  I'm starting to think that creating the right work space is important. What works for you? Does your writing space matter? Has it always mattered or is it something that changes? As an active journaler, I jot down ideas before my feet hit the floor each morning...but that's not really my 'writing space' if you will. Similarly, my kitchen doesn't seem to be the right writing space. I feel like I have brainstorming places but they shouldn't be confused with the actual space where I write. Not even sure that made sense, but I hope you get the drift of where I'm going here.

Toss out some thoughts about what works for you and maybe it will help inspire me or someone else. Thank you in advance for your help and I maybe let us know how you're doing with Novel writing November? How many words do you have done already?

Crystal is a church musician, babywearing 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 Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 8, Andre 7, Breccan 2, and Delphine 8 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff at:
and here:

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Saturday, November 21, 2015


How to write an anti-hero: What I learned from John Wick

I have two confessions to make.

  1. I do not like antiheroes.
  2. I did not want to see this movie. My son requested in on my library card. But this movie I didn’t want to see made me realize that, done well, I can fall for an anti-hero.

When my son told me he’d requested this on my card, I popped over to see what it was about. The first line I read was “I don’t remember seeing this listed in theaters so it must have had a short run. It is unremittingly violent.”

Hmm. Not a great sales pitch, but if my son was going to check it out, I was going to watch it with him. Then we’d have a talk. (He’s 16 so I don’t PG much anymore but he’s not beyond the occasional lecture.)

And the reviewer was right. The bodies stack up. When a group of baddies break into his home to “teach him a lesson,” he kills all twelve of them. But by then I was cheering him on because I’d gotten to know a bit about him and seen his humanity.

That, my writer friends, is the key to writing a successful anti-hero. Before we see him being all surly and, in this case, deadly, we need to care about him. What is it that will tug at our hearts and make us cheer him on?

If you haven’t seen this movie yet but plan to see it, you might want to wait to finish reading this. Translation: Spoiler Alert.

Before we see John Wick off a large number of Russian Mafia-types, we see him at the beach with his wife. We see her collapse in his arms. We see him at her bedside when she dies. We are there for the funeral and when he gets the puppy that she has sent to him so that he still has something to love.

When all of this happens, we have only one clue about who he used to be. One shot shows the tattoos on his back. If you know ink, something about them will make you think “Russian mafia.” That is the only clue you have that he may be something other than a loving husband.

If you want to write an anti-hero, get the reader on his side from the start. Give a clue or two that there is something dark, that way the reader isn't entirely surprised. But if you can win this reader over first, she will be rooting for him even as you reveal who he is.


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