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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

 

Become a Fan of WOW! on Facebook

As you saw with a post the other day, WOW! Women On Writing is stepping into social networking with a Twitter account. If you haven't started following us yet, please do at our Twitter page. Why? We tweet about writing articles, contest announcements, online classes, special offers, writing information, blog tours, and new issue information. We also connect writers with one another and encourage women on their writing journey. So, follow us now.

Many of you may also be on Facebook. If you are, consider joining us on there also! We have a WOW! Women On Writing fan page, which you can find by going here. If you are on Facebook and you love WOW!, then take some time this week and become a fan. It takes a short time and a click on the mouse button (literally)!

What can you do on the fan page? You can start a discussion, you can check out some links, articles, and events. As a matter of fact, I started a discussion on there just recently about what types of articles you might want to see in WOW! that would help you and your writing career. Any ideas? Please post them to the Facebook fan page under discussions or consider a query to editors@wow-womenonwriting.com .

Let us know if you become a fan--you can tweet us, leave a comment here, or leave a comment on our Facebook page. We'll be happy to follow you back on Twitter!

Happy social networking!
Margo Dill
http://margodill.com/blog/
http://www.twitter.com/Margo_L_Dill/

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

 

Interview with Ann Imig, Runner-Up in the Spring 2009 Flash Fiction Contest

A stay-at-home humorist, Ann began writing to distract her ovaries from insisting on a third child. Ann has made no progress at earning continuing education credits to retain her social work license, but has had her writing featured on Humorpress.com, MaternalSpark.com, and FunnyNotSlutty.com. Ann looks forward to the launch of UnhingedMagazine.com, featuring her essay "The Saddies." Ann blogs regularly at annsrants.com, but never when she is supposedly watching her preschool-age boys.


If you have not done so already, take a look at Ann's winning story "Date Night" then return here for a chat with the author!

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Spring 2009 WOW! Flash Fiction Contest! How did you begin writing your award winning story, Date Night?

Ann: A terrible date with my husband reminded me of the humor in juxtaposition. It's supposed to be a date, but it ends up as WWIII with a waitperson trying to serve you dinner as both parties re-load and dress their wounds.

WOW: I loved this story because it seemed like such a real and honest situation. Do you find it difficult or liberating to write within the word limit restrictions of flash fiction?

Ann: I found it liberating. As a new writer, I feel more comfortable with digestible chunks. It forces me to be concise--even though you'll notice a few too many adverbs lingering in my piece. At least I didn't say unnecessarily lingering in my piece.

WOW: Ha! I'm sure we can overlook an adverb or two. Which books/authors do you read for inspiration, and how do they inspire you?

Ann: Right now I'm reading Judge by Dwight Allen. He writes literature, and it inspires me by its sheer craftsmanship.

I draw most of my inspiration from comedians. I listen to comics when I jog--so don't be surprised if you see me loping around the neighborhood laughing hysterically.

WOW: (Laughs) What a great idea to listen to comedy while you jog! How do you make or find time to write with two pre-school aged children at home?

Ann: HA! I write mostly at night after my kids are asleep, or the three mornings a week that both my kids are in school at the same time.

I used to try to multi-task--writing while the kids seemed occupied with TV or play. When TwoPointFive started pressing the hibernate button every time I was on my computer, I realized I needed to set some boundaries.

WOW: What's the most useful piece of writing advice you've ever received?

Ann:
My dear friend Erin advised me to keep writing and submitting, so as not to dwell on one specific contest or submission. Best advice EVER. I keep a spreadsheet of what I've sent out, but continually put myself out there so I can't obsess over one piece. I prefer obsessing about multiple pieces at one time I guess.

WOW: To keep writing and submitting is great advice. The more you submit, the better your chances of getting published. Are you currently working on any new writing projects or stories?

Ann:
Every time I have an idea, I throw it in a word doc. It always surprises me which ones end up as essays, or longer pieces, and which ones never even turn into blog posts (for annsrants.com).

This past week I started two or three blog posts, and worked on a project I hope will be a book someday. This weekend I'm editing an essay I already submitted for an anthology, in order to enter it into another contest. Next week I plan to spend some time working on a short story I started recently.

WOW: Sounds like you're staying busy in the writing world. Good luck and we look forward to hopefully reading more of your writing in the future!

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt

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Monday, September 28, 2009

 

Sara Morgan, author of No Limits: How I escaped the clutches of Corporate America to live the Self-employed life of my dreams, launches her blog tour!


& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Sara would never have had a successful life in the computer industry if it hadn't been for THAT WOMAN. THAT WOMAN, the college guidance counselor, told Sara her Math skills were horrendous (OK, maybe she was a bit more tactful) and she shouldn't go into any Math-related majors. So what did Sara major in? Quantitative Business Analysis, with a minor in computer science, natch.

After college she used her computer knowledge in several industries including retail, health care, finance, government, and information technology. She's also written several technical books for the computer industry.

But it soon became apparent to Sara that Corporate America, and its complicated office politics, was not for her. She became a consultant, an experience that led to No Limits: How I escaped the clutches of Corporate America to live the Self-employed life of my dreams.

Sara and her children live in Louisiana's version of small-town America where she still pursues her first love--Artificial Intelligence. In the shadow of historical plantations, Sara works on developing robotic assistance to help senior citizens.

Find out more about Sara by visiting her website, www.nolimitsthebook.com, and the No Limits Ning community, http://nolimitsthebook.ning.com/.

No Limits: How I escaped the clutches of Corporate America to live the Self-employed life of my dreams

By Sara Morgan

Refreshingly candid and honest, this career-minded guide helps professionals determine if self-employment is their ticket to a better life. Written by a successful, independent software developer, rather than a career coach or consultant, this straight-to-the-point book offers readers practical and useful advice for how to get started on their path to self-employment. It also informs the reader what the major benefits to self-employment are, along with identifying who is best suited for self-employment and what things these people will need to consider.

The author, Sara Morgan knows from direct-hand experience how frustrating and un-inspiring the life of a Corporate employee can be. Four years ago she made the jump to self-employment and despite challenges, stayed true to her belief that a better, more fulfilling life lay ahead. She now lives the life she always dreamed of and she hopes to inspire others to take the remarkable path she has chosen. This book is not a "how to get rich quick" story. It is a "how do I maximize my potential and feel satisfied and happy with what I am doing in life" story.

Published by Custom Solutions, LLC (August 2009)
Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN# 0615299326

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Sara's book, No Limits, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Jodi Webb


WOW: Tell us the story of how you went from expert in the computer industry to author of a book on self-employment?

Sara: That kind of happened by accident. I became self-employed 4 years ago and since then I have been navigating the waters of self-employment as an independent software developer, including writing five technical books for Microsoft. That was all going okay until I was hit with a personal tragedy. The man I considered the love of my life left me before our marriage even reached one year.

At first I was devastated. I mean, it was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But, the oddest thing happened. Because I was self-employed and had already done many things to position my life in a way that was healthy and sustainable, I was able to take three weeks off and search my soul. At the end of that time, I realized that this was an opportunity and not the end of my life. I realized I could turn all of this into a life changing event and that just made me that much stronger.

I really doubt I would have been able to see it that positively if I had still been plugging away in some boring 9 to 5 corporate job. I never used to handle things like this well. But, now I was. So, I thought, I have to tell other people about this. I need to help other people get to this place. The kind of place where you can see life for what it really is and just appreciate it. So, I decided to write this book. And here we are.

WOW: Some writers I've met have gone the freelance route to have more flexibility and time with their family but then, get so obsessed with hitting that "goal income," they throw all those self-employment benefits away with constant work. What's the trick to maintaining balance?

Sara: Yeah, that is the trick. I too have been known to work harder and not smarter. But, what you need to do is position yourself in a life that is sustainable and realistic for you. This is something that may take time for some people. As for myself, it involved lowering my overhead and expenses by moving to the country and letting go of a lot of things I had become accustomed to but really didn't need.

WOW: But what about the downsides? What about the security that comes with a 9 to 5 job?

Sara: I fully reject the notion that a corporate job provides security. Haven't we all known someone who had their life ripped up from under them recently? They might have worked for some company for 20 years, but their life savings was taken away when some dishonest individual scammed them. I have a neighbor that lost his entire retirement to that Stanford guy. Now he has to start all over, when he thought it was "in the bank."

Nothing is for sure anymore. The only thing you can really control is yourself and at the end of the day. The only person really watching your back is you. So, to me self-employment is more secure than being susceptible to some random layoff or firing in Corporate America.

WOW: Now let's talk about the conception of No Limits. In your opinion, self-publishing is a better option than traditional publishing. Why?

Sara: Well, up until now I have published six books with two different traditional publishers. Now, keep in mind that I was publishing technical books and not mainstream or fictional books, but my experiences with publishers were not exactly pleasant and definitely not rewarding. I felt that I had to compromise way too much and work way too hard for very little reward.

I think the publishing industry is on the cusp of a major upheaval. Perhaps the biggest one ever. If I were working for a traditional publisher, I would be very nervous right now. For too long, traditional publishers just dominated the market like a monopoly, but the introduction of the Internet and other technical advances have meant that anyone (including myself) can produce a quality book out of their own home. We have figured out that we don't need publishers slowing things down and taking too much of the money.

WOW: Did you ever consider traditional publishing for No Limits or has self-publishing always been a part of your plan?

Sara: I did consider traditional publishing for this book, but when I failed to get an immediate response from any of the agents or publishers I contacted, I quickly shifted gears. I know how long it takes to get a book through the proposal stage and I knew what I was writing was timely material. I figured the only way I was going to give it the real chance it deserved was to self-publish.

WOW: I, for one, am glad you didn't wait around for traditional publishers to decide to take a chance on your book. But many authors self-publish a book in the hope that it will eventually be snatched up by a traditional publisher. If a traditional publisher came knocking would you send them away?

Sara: I doubt it, but who knows, because I know to never say never. I always like to keep my options open and consider all possibilities. But, I am having a blast and I just got picked up by a distributor and I signed on with a publicist. Things are really starting to move forward for me now.

WOW: Tell us about your impressive goal of selling one million books.

Sara: Well, I thought the goal fit nicely with the theme of the book, in which the only limits you have are the ones you create for yourself. I reject the idea that someone can't self-publish their book and sell one million copies. I think this is a really good book and I think it can help change people's lives. So, I really think one million people need to read it. Or, at least that is what I am hoping. Only time will tell for sure whether I am crazy or a genius.

WOW: What happens after you sell that million books? Is being an author a new chapter in your life--will there be additional books?

Sara: I would like to write other books. I would really like to write a book about my lovebirds, since I think they have a lot to teach the world about setting limits on those things we love. But, that is a whole story in itself. For now, I am sticking with promoting this book.

Also, I just signed up to be an independent garden consultant for The Happy Gardener. I was so impressed with their organization, that I decided I would enjoy doing that more than being a web developer. So, as of now, I am no longer a web developer, I am an author and garden consultant. YEAH!!!!

WOW: Love advice from lovebirds--wonderful. They could go on your book tour with you! And send me a Happy Gardener catalog. Gardening catalogs are the only thing that gets me through my snowy Pennsylvania winters.

Want to join Sara on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

September 28, 2009 Monday
Sara will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win a copy of No Limits!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

September 30, 2009 Wednesday
Sara will be visiting Readaholic. Stop by for some interesting thoughts from Sara and a chance to win her book, No Limits!
http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/

October 2, 2009 Friday
Pack your bags! Today, Sara Morgan visits New Zealand, Write To Travel, and shares how self-employment can be the key to a fulfilling life.
http://writetotravel.blogspot.com/

October 5, 2009 Monday
Sara stops by Joanne DeMaio's blog, Whole Latte Life, to show small business owners why a web presence is important to their success. Sara is also a web developer, so this should be an interesting discussion! Stop by and have your questions answered by an expert.
http://joannedemaio.blogspot.com/

October 6, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by Kathryn Vercillo's blog, Real Words from a Real Writer, today and read a book review of No Limits, plus an interview with Sara. Also, enter to win a free copy of No Limits!
http://kathrynvercillo.com/blog/

October 12, 2009 Monday
Sara visits Stacie Connerty's blog, The Divine Miss Mommy, to talk about Self-Employment: The Key to a Fulfilling Life.
http://thedivinemissmommy.com/

October 15, 2009 Thursday
Sara visits Meryl's Notes for a surprise guest post! Stop by today and see what these two are up to.
http://www.meryl.net/section/blog/

October 27, 2009 Tuesday
Sara stops by Annette's Paper Trail to share her journey from being the corporate drone to being the boss. Not to miss!
http://www.annettefix.com/

We may have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Sara Morgan's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Sara's book, No Limits: How I escaped the clutches of Corporate America to live the Self-employed life of my dreams.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

 

Healing With Words---the Best Medicine

I was recently asked to review a manuscript for a soon-to-be-published book and write a blurb for the cover. The book was about one woman’s battle with breast cancer. The soon-to-be published manuscript isn’t your run-of-the-mill memoir. Of course, the author went into some depth about her illness and treatments but she used poetry and journal entries to tell her story. Admittedly, I’m not the most poetic person and I often miss the message in certain styles of poems, but I found this author’s approach so beautiful. Some of these poems she’d written during her chemo, others she wrote during her check-ups, and others still she wrote when she wondered whether she should give up. Writing was a release for her—a way to fight back even when her body wasn’t strong enough to.

Another woman I know who turns to writing as a way to cope with her stress and deep-set emotions is Jennie Linthorst. Jennie’s husband, Erik, directed a movie called “Autistic-Like: Graham’s Story,” which is a documentary about one family’s journey to getting the right diagnosis and treatment for their son Graham. The movie was how Erik dealt with his frustration and determination while writing poetry was Jennie’s. I remember watching the scenes of Jennie sharing some of her poetry in the documentary and being brought to tears. I related to her pain and thought, “Wow! How phenomenal of her to reach out through writing.” Not only does Jennie write poetry, she also inspires other mothers of special needs children to tap into their own creative side by teaching them to write poetry too.

The amazing thing is that both of these phenomenal women tapped into the part of their soul a lot of people don’t usually turn to when going through tragedy—the part that gives us renewed energy, that keeps us away from maladaptive ways of coping and gives us the strength to keep fighting…to keep living. It’s the part that reminds us of who we really are apart from the ugliness we’re fighting or the tough times that life throws at us.

You don’t have to be going through painful times to keep a journal or to write down your thoughts. Life is filled with many adventures that nobody else experiences the way you do. Why not write them down, even if it’s only for you to read. And like with the brave women above and so many like them, healing through words has always been the best medicine for me.

(Be sure to check out the amazing authors currently on WOW! Book Blog Tours. These are other fantastic examples of using words to heal.)

Chynna
www.lilywolfwords.ca
www.lilywolfwords.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 26, 2009

 

Learning A New Language, Part Deux

By Jill Earl

Earlier this month, WOW! teamster LuAnn’s post, ‘Learning a New Language’ offered reasons for writers to think about foreign language study, such as making one more marketable in pursuing work. Imagine my surprise to learn that today, September 26th, has been designated as The European Day of Languages (EDL) by the Council of Europe.

According to The Council’s website, the day was designated back in 2001 “to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity.” They add that it’s “ a time to celebrate the 6,000+ languages spoken around the world, promote language learning and have some multilingual fun!”

One way to celebrate this observance is by looking into free online foreign language courses. This can be an inexpensive way to find out what language will be the right fit for you. These courses are generally self-paced, therefore you won’t have to deal with deadlines to submit work (unless you impose your own), but you’ll need to motivate yourself to stay on task. If this sounds like something you'd like to try, I've included a few sites below for your perusal.

Many of MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) listings are from past foreign language classes, but there are readings, PDF’s of lecture notes, assignments and exams available in both undergraduate and graduate divisions. Choose from language, literature, and cultural studies.

Internet Polygot includes a tutorial slideshow for learning with pictures, various games to test newly-acquired skills and an option to create your own language lessons.

The BBC’s Languages site has extensive offerings for the language learner. You can choose both audio and video courses in many languages, such as 12-week beginners courses and foreign language TV with downloadable transcripts of programs.

Should you want to join in today’s festivities, find out more at the European Day of Languages website: www.coe.int/EDL

MIT OpenCourseWare
http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Foreign-Languages-and-Literatures/index.htm

Internet Polygot
http://www.internetpolyglot.com/

BBC’s Languages
http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/

Looks like there's going to be some language learning in my future. Thanks, LuAnn!

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Friday, September 25, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: "A Walk in the Park," Guest Post by Julie Bloss Kelsey

A Walk in the Park

by Julie Bloss Kelsey

“What is it?” she snaps. Impeccably dressed in a three-tiered suit, she looks like a walking wedding cake. Make that an angry walking wedding cake. I try not to laugh.

“We need to talk,” I say. “About your writing.”

At this, she pauses and absently picks invisible lint from her suit. “I don’t write. Not any more.” She picks up her pace.

"Yes, you do,” I say. I block her path. “Remember last night? You described the riders on the subway in that letter to your mother.”

She smiles. With her stride broken, I tug at her shoulder pad and point at the closest park bench. “Sit!”

She dutifully sits, but her legs soon lace tight. She crosses her arms. “I should get back to work,” she hisses in my direction.

“The work will wait,” I remind her. I use the same gentle tone of voice that I used the day before, and the day before that. “Stay with me awhile,” I whisper. “You’ll have fun.”

For a moment, I have her. She starts to point at the swaying leaves. Look at that! I think she’s going for the notebook!

She murmurs under her breath, “Look at that!”

But then she withdraws her hand. Into her pocket it goes. Out pops the day planner.

I hate that thing. This one is a tiny version of the monster that occupies her desk at work. Her office is a disaster: so much paperwork overflowing with writing, but none of it really matters. I wish I could convince her of that.

She is busy finding just the right tab in the day planner. “Accounts payable meeting at 2 pm.” She checks her watch. “I have to go.”

I grab at her sleeve, but I am no match for her when she’s like this.

“Look at the trees!” I shout at her retreating back. A passerby stares in my direction. I try again, focusing more intently on her. “Look at the trees. Don’t the leaves look like giant eyeballs?”

She stops mid-stride and casts a glance back at the park bench, wearing a curious smile. She checks her watch again. “Maybe there’s time,” she murmurs.

I heave a sigh of relief as she sits down, puts the planner away, and pulls out a ragged notebook and a ball-point pen.

“Now, where were we?” she asks.

I snuggle close. “We were looking at the eyeballs in the trees.” The aspens quake as if on cue.

She holds the pen over paper, so close that I can almost move the nib. My hand hovers over hers.

Curious trees
tap on my shoulder
gaze at my heart
watch my every move
remind me of what’s important.

We sit next to each other on the park bench for a long time, not talking, not writing, just enjoying each other’s company: a girl and her muse.


When not chasing after her three kids, Julie Bloss Kelsey enjoys writing poetry, creative nonfiction, magazine articles, and stories for children. Her work has appeared online at Absolute Write, FundsforWriters, and Writing-World.com. Visit her on the web at Mama Joules (http://www.mamajoules.blogspot.com), her family-friendly science blog.

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Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.


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Thursday, September 24, 2009

 

Write Me A Vacation Please

I am looking forward to some serious writing later today, all day tomorrow, and maybe most of the weekend too. Part of it is my own doing, as I have 8 articles for a website by Saturday in order to fulfill my 3-month minimum requirement, but part of it was just my own executive decision.

I never understood the idea of writing vacations, but I see that now, I could do for some time where there is nothing but my mind, my netbook, and myself sequestered somewhere to write. Maybe it's because I'm on the cusp of a time of high concentration and what feels like could be an amazing run on great ideas or maybe I'm in a nadir of things altogether. Paradox, perhaps, but that's where I stand. The idea of more work, more writing and especially more editing both sounds repulsive and like the best thing I could do for myself.

That said, while I cannot afford to get away from work and obligations (not to mention, workaholics tend not to do vacations), I would love to hear about the experiences others of you have had by scheduling in writing vacations. Where did you go and how did it affect the style, genre, and intensity of work you were able to output? Did you do more writing, less, and did the quality change too?

If all goes well with mine, I am going to make it a more frequent occurrence, even if only for a few hours a month and never results in going anywhere further away than my room or the library. Writing both frustrates me and makes me happy, so I am going to get more of my fix of it, much like sunworshippers do with the sunny days. If nothing else, maybe it will work with getting me back towards my goals, my ambitions, and my zone of contentment.

So, any of you want to join me? Remember, vacations and journeys are not necessarily bound by obligations, word limits, and mandatory minimums of output or duration. They are what you make them out to be. Best part is that you can schedule them on a whim, without paying booking fees, and without getting sand stuck between your toes unless that's what suits you best.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

 

Navigating the black hole of writing job applications

I love writing. Really I do. Which is why I have chosen to write for a living.
As many freelance writers do, I don't put all my clients into one egg basket. Among my clients I count newspapers, electronic media, book packagers, TV producers and custom publishers. When I don't query well or when I feel I'm spending too much time researching, then it is my fault. The guilt can pile on. But I generally feel okay if I've done my best.
However, sometimes a job catches my eye and I apply for it. In ordinary times, I hopefully assume, all the applicants would be contacted. However, in these extraordinary times of MediaBistro and CraigsList postings, e-mail boxes at hiring companies are overflowing. So I am thrilled when I have applied for a writing job and have been told I've reached the first cut of writers. Contacted by the company, I know that the pool of applicants has grown a bit smaller. But that's when things get a little fuzzy.
Then, it seems, I fall into the black hole of job applicants. It's a lonely hole--not because one is actually alone, but because you don't know who your fellow travelers are. To make the journey even more awkward, you don't want to be a very squeaky wheel. In this world of social media, you become a social media pariah if you tweet your unveiled frustrations.
I know the saying is that squeaky wheels get the grease, but what if the person you squeak to uses a delete button on a whim.
"Ugh, a second e-mail from this job applicant, we'll take care of that!"
What if you remain stuck in the black hole even after a stellar interview where you "connected" and yet the potential employer never contacts you again?
"We'll let you know on Monday."
In fact, the employer refuses to respond to direct e-mails but continues to write pithy tweets while you scan for any mention of a job hiring. Do you un-follow them?
Herein lies my dilemma, I love writing for the versatility and the sheer energy I can expend on my assignments. But it is the business of freelancing that gives me a woozy feeling. One that makes me wish that I'd never applied for the job because then I wouldn't be watching my mailbox like a shunned lover. I enjoy the relationships I've built with my editors and, yes, some of them stem from blindly sending a letter of introduction. But sometimes, like today, I want to know who my fellow travelers are so I can commiserate with them and, maybe together, we can become a squeaky wheel that tells employers to give us some love...or at least some writing jobs.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and freelance writer. She also blogs at www.CoastalCarolinaMoms.com and www.TheWriteElizabeth.com, delving into creativity in everyday places. She will try not to check her e-mail and Twitter every minute today...well, maybe just every other minute. Just in case.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

 

Interview with Elizabeth Barton - 3rd Place Winner in the Spring '09 Flash Fiction Contest


According to Elizabeth Barton, she's been penning stories for just about as long as she can remember. After earning degrees in psychology and nutritional sciences, Elizabeth worked as a medical writer and editor. She participated in the Writer's Loft program in Chicago for over four years and recently ventured into fiction writing. An avid writer, Elizabeth has multiple manuscripts in varying degrees in completion, and now, she is putting the polishing touches on her first novel.

Elizabeth lives in Chicago with her husband, Ian, and two cats, Roxie and Gordon. When she isn't writing, Elizabeth enjoys reading, theater, and wine. Elizabeth likes other artistic pursuits, including painting, drama, painting, and stained glass work. She believes every experience can be an inspiration.

Elizabeth's story, "The Wedding March", is located on WOW! 's Spring Contest Page. If you haven't had the opportunity to read her work yet, head over to WOW! Women on Writing. Her story will resonate with anyone who has experienced pre-wedding jitters.

WOW: Welcome, Elizabeth, and congratulations on winning third place in the Spring 2009 contest! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with WOW! readers today. "The Wedding March" examines the nervous jitters a bride experiences prior to her wedding. What was the inspiration for your story?

Elizabeth: It actually began with a writing prompt: "Terrified, she opened the door..." I knew I didn't want to write a horror story, so I began to think of what other kinds of things people find scary. The idea of getting married to someone you're really not sure about is pretty scary to me, but I know it happens.

WOW: I agree with you! It happens quite often. I like how you incorporate wedding traditions and terminology. To you, how important is the use of detail ?

Elizabeth: I think details are important, especially in flash fiction. Since the story is so short, you don't get to know the character(s) as well as you might in a longer piece. Every detail can help bring the reader into the story, and when you are specific in your phrasing, you create something uniquely your own.

WOW: And creating something unique is an important element of a story, and especially true of flash fiction. Your bio states you have a stash of short stories. Do you also write a lot of flash fiction? What genre do you prefer?

Elizabeth: I do write a lot of both flash fiction and short stories. It's hard to say which I prefer, but I have been writing more flash fiction recently. Although flash fiction doesn't allow one to delve as deeply into characters and conflicts as longer pieces do, it offers its own challenges. When you're writing such a short piece, it really makes you think more carefully about every single word you put on the page.

WOW: Word choice really makes a difference in flash fiction. Flash fiction writers learn to be precise. Precision is also a key element of medical writing, which you spent time doing. Plus, your background is in Psychology and Nutrition. Do you incorporate any of those non-fiction ideas into your fiction?

Elizabeth: Every story incorporates psychology. Even if psychology is not actually mentioned in the story per se, a character's thoughts and actions reveal his or her psychology. I can't say that I've incorporated nutrition or medicine/medical writing into my fiction thus far, but perhaps I will some day.

WOW: Great! Critique groups and workshops are a benefit to a writer. You participated in the Writer's Loft Workshop in Chicago. Share your experience and what you learned.

Elizabeth: It was a great experience. I learned, not only from someone who had been writing and teaching for decades, but also from other aspiring writers as we critiqued each other's work. It really helped me grow as a writer. I learned that you can write about almost anything and make it interesting as long as you have conflict (whether internal or external) and characters to identify with. The leader of the workshop (Jerry Cleaver) always said, "If your characters are having a good time, your reader probably isn't." I think that's great advice, and I always like to keep that in mind while a write.

WOW: Wonderful advice for all writers to consider. Thanks for sharing! What additional advice would you offer writers who are contemplating entering a contest?

Elizabeth: The worst thing that could happen is you don't win, and no one wins every contest she enters. You really have nothing to lose except a (usually nominal) entry fee, and you might just surprise yourself, so do it!

WOW: So true! Surprises are always welcome! And, like you said, there's nothing to lose. What current projects are you working on?

Elizabeth: I'm almost always working on at least a couple of short/flash fiction pieces. However, my main focus lately has been revising my novel (working title: Thick and Thin). It tells the story of two young sisters who endure a tumultuous childhood touched by abuse, alcoholism, and suicide, as they discover whether the bonds of sisterhood can survive and help carry them through it all.

WOW: It sounds like a powerful story! Thank you again, Elizabeth, for talking about writing and your story with WOW! readers.

Interview by LuAnn Schindler
Twitter - @luannschindler

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Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, author of The Sky Begins at Your Feet, launches her blog tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg received her doctorate from the University of Kansas and was recently appointed the Poet Laureate of Kansas. The author of four poetry collections she is certified in poetry therapy and has led workshops for many groups, including people living with physical and mental illness. In 2000, Caryn founded the Master's level program in Transformative Language Arts, that focuses on the effect of written and verbal language on the community, at Goddard College where she teaches. Her writer's guide Write Where You Are is unique in that it is directed to teenage writers.

Caryn co-founded Brave Voices with singer/songwriter Kelley Hunt to provide singing and writing workshops. Songs written by Caryn have been performed by the Kelley Hunt band both in the United States and Europe. Caryn's musical talents also include playing the cello.

Along with her husband, writer Ken Lassman, and children, Caryn calls the countryside south of Lawrence, Kansas home.

Find out more about Caryn by visiting her website, http://www.carynmirriamgoldberg.com, and her blog, http://carynmirriamgoldberg.wordpress.com.

The Sky Begins at Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body

By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

This tender but humorous memoir chronicles Caryn's tale of resiliency and love in the face of breast cancer. She braves breast cancer, the breast cancer genetic mutation and the loss of a parent by connecting with an eclectic Midwest community, the land and sky, and a body undergoing vast renovation. Along the way, she swims with stingrays in the Gulf of Mexico, searches for cream puffs for a Pennsylvania funeral, leads a group fighting to protect ecologically-essential land in Kansas, and helps students find their own voice in Vermont. In searching for a new definition of the erotic through our awareness of nature, this memoir illuminates how our bodies are our most local address on the earth.

Published by Ice Cube Books (April 2009)
Paperback: 229 pages
ISBN# 1888160438

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Caryn's memoir, The Sky Begins at Your Feet, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Jodi Webb


WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Caryn. We're delighted to launch your blog tour for your book, The Sky Begins at Your Feet. Although your most recent book is a memoir, you're also the Poet Laureate of Kansas, as well as the author of non-fiction books on writing and a biography of writer Sandra Cisneros. Do you have a preferred type of writing?

Caryn: I began as a poet when I was 14, but I write fiction, memoir, personal essays and songs. I don't have a preferred type of writing, but rather, a passion for finding the best form for whatever I'm writing about.


WOW: So, you think it's important for a writer to explore different types of writing?


Caryn: I always encourage my students to read across genres to find a wide range of ways that language can be used in fresh and powerful ways, and also how language can be used for healing, liberation and celebration. At the same time, it's important for writers to read in their own genre deeply to learn more about the specific possibilities in that genre.

When it comes to writing, I believe the best thing is to do what Annie Dillard says in her book, The Writing Life: aim for what you're writing about rather than how you're writing about it. She gives the example of cutting wood, and how you need to aim for the block under the piece of wood you're cutting, and that's always said it well for me. So even if you've written mostly personal essays for 20 years, if you find yourself writing about something that wants to be a poem, let it be a poem. Another way to say this is that we need to put our ear to the writing we're doing, and let what the writing wants to be, rather than what we think it should be, tell us what to write.


WOW: How beautifully expressed. It seems your struggle with cancer, both personally and as a witness to your father's illness, called for two genres. What made you decide to write a memoir about the experience even after you had already written many poems on the topic?


Caryn: I began writing this book as journal entries about my journey through chemo, which I called "Chemopause" and gave to my oncologist each time I visited for more chemo. With my permission, he put this writing in my medical file, which I loved because I felt seen as a whole
person.

After I finished chemo, I felt compelled to simply write the story before chemo, and as the story after chemo unfolded in very powerful and difficult and also beautiful ways, I wrote that also. At some point, I realized it was a memoir, and not just a memoir about cancer treatment, but about losing a parent, connecting with community, learning to live in and appreciate my own body, finding strength in land and sky, and learning more about how precious and impermanent life is.


WOW: We've had past authors talk about the emotional toll of writing memoirs. What were the most difficult (or most rewarding) parts of writing a memoir?


Caryn: You know, for me, the writing wasn't so emotionally draining. Living the story certainly was at times, however. Probably the most difficult and surprising thing to write was about the aftermath of my double mastectomy, when I realized--only when I was writing about it--that I couldn't remember hardly anything from the time I arrived at the hospital until I was back home afterwards. That lapse was stunning, painful, and also a moment I felt enormous tenderness toward myself.

WOW: It's surprising what we learn about ourselves through our writing. I know you're also helping others learn about themselves through writing as a teacher in the Transformative Language Arts program at Goddard College. Can you explain the program to us?


Caryn: Transformative Language Arts (TLA) is a program within the Individualized MA program at Goddard College, in which students--who are almost all non-traditional, older and full of life experience--design their own MA studies according to what they're passionate about, how they need and want to connect with their community, and what work they want to cultivate in their lives.

It's low-residency, which means the students and the faculty come from all over the country (and sometimes the world) for a week-long residency, at which time students design their semester's work, choose a faculty mentor to work with, go to lots of workshops, meetings and celebrations, and usually jump-start their lives for the work they want to do. Then everyone goes home, and students send their faculty mentors a packet of their writing, research, study and questions every three weeks for a total of five packets. Faculty, in turn, write students long, individualized letters, helping the students go deeper in their work.


TLA is an emerging academic field that I helped found, and it's all about educating ourselves to use writing, storytelling, drama, and more for community building, personal transformation, social change, spiritual exploration, etc. TLAers are writers, storytellers, performers, researchers, etc. who often
facilitate workshops, lead retreats, do consulting or coaching, and more in schools, community centers, prisons, youth centers, art programs and many more venues. It's a new way to make a living using the ancient impulse of changing the world through our words. For more information visit www.goddard.edu or drop me a line at CarynMirriamGoldberg@gmail.com.

WOW: Can you give us some personal examples of how you or your students brought language and creativity to a community?


Caryn: Absolutely! I facilitated writing workshops for low-income women of color at a local housing authority in Kansas for eight years, helping women who were often silenced and unseen come forth with their poetry and stories. Eventually, we published a collection of our work--A Circle of Women, A Circle of Words. I will also treasure the image of about a dozen of these women sitting across a stage at the local arts center, all dressed to the nines, reading their work and sharing the invisible lives of our town with our community at the book launch.

Brian Moore, one of our graduates, began an ecological writing center in
Eugene, Oregon, which offers workshops on using poetry to connect with the earth. Yvette Hyater-Adams in Philadelphia started a business, Renaissance Muse, which now offers transformative narrative coaching--helping people find in their life stories ways to aim their lives toward the stories they're ready to live. Suzanne Adams, in Houston, works with teenage girls, using art and writing to help them empower themselves.

WOW: Any ideas how we, as individual writers, can bring the joy of words to our own communities?


Caryn: Start your own writing circle. Bring together other writers to simply write together, making up writing exercises or drawing them from any number of great books (see www.TLAResources.wordpress.com). Writers can and should also approach--if they feel called to do so--community centers, public housing, local hospitals and clinics, schools, prisons and other places to inquire about starting pilot project workshops or collaborative performances. Of course, writers doing this also should connect up with others in the field through training and networking. I recommend the TLA Network (see www.TLANetwork.org), which is a great way to learn about how to make a living doing the writing you love in community.

WOW: What's up next with your very varied writing career?


Caryn: As Poet Laureate of Kansas, I'm doing a lot of traveling. My main project is helping train people in various communities to lead community writing circles, which can help people find greater meaning in their lives and create poems, stories, essays and more. I'm also doing a monthly radio show, "Write from Your Life," on High Plains Public Radio (www.HPPR.org/hpw), which offers people a local writer and a writing exercise to try at home. In addition to the memoir, my fourth book of poetry, Landed, was just published, and I'm traveling here and there to do joint readings on both the memoir and the poetry book. And I'm doing what brings me continual peace: hanging out with my family and watching movies or taking walks, and studying and practicing yoga.

WOW: Thank you, Caryn, for taking time to chat with us today! You're an inspiration to writers and women everywhere.

Want to join Caryn on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

September 21, 2009 Monday
Caryn will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win a copy of Caryn's memoir!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

September 23, 2009 Wednesday
Caryn stops by Anne-Marie Nichols' blog, This Mama Cooks On a Diet, to chat about cooking, cancer, and enjoying life.
http://www.thismamacooks.com/

September 24, 2009 Thursday
Caryn stops by Meryl's Notes today to give us some writing tips and a chance to win her memoir The Sky Begins at Your Feet.
http://www.meryl.net/section/blog/

September 28, 2009 Monday
Writing can be so many things. Today Caryn stops by Joanne DeMaio's blog, Whole Latte Life, to discuss how writing can get us in touch with our environment.
http://joannedemaio.blogspot.com/

October 1, 2009 Thursday
Visit Mom-e-Centric for a quick chat about living life with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.
http://www.momecentric.com/

October 2, 2009 Friday
Stop by Jan Lundy's blog, Awake is Good, for an interview with Caryn about her staying positive in the face of adversity and the healing power of writing.
http://www.awakeisgood.blogspot.com/

October 9, 2009 Friday
Stop by Peeking Between the Pages today and read a review of Caryn Mirriam Goldberg's memoir The Sky Begins at Your Feet.
http://peekingbetweenthepages.blogspot.com/

October 12, 2009 Monday
Stop by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writers Inspired, to learn what Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg has to say about writing and enter to win her memoir The Sky Begins at Your Feet.
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

October 14, 2009 Wednesday
Stop by the Memory Writers Network today for an interview with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg about memoir writing.
http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/

We may have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Caryn's memoir, The Sky Begins at Your Feet.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

 

WOW! is on Twitter


Yes, we're a little late in the game, but we finally set up a Twitter account! Actually, WOW! contributing editor and columnist Margo L. Dill set it up for us.

Follow us at: http://twitter.com/womenonwriting

We have four ladies tweeting for us: Margo (our main tweetie-pie), Jodi, Marcia, and Angela. Tweets will be about WOW! behind the scenes--contest news, authors and books, new classes, writer's markets, calls for submissions, industry news/gossip, bloopers & blunders, the writing life and more. Keep on the lookout for giveaways!

See you over there. :)

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

 

The WOW! Fall '09 Flash Fiction Contest is Open!






Yes, it's here. We're officially taking entries now! Limit: 300 entries, first-come, first-serve. And we've done something extra special this season. We've raised the cash prize for the first place winner by $50. So the first place winner will take $250 (instead of $200).

We also have a very special guest judge this season--legendary literary agent Noah Lukeman!

Deadline: November 30, 2009

Word Count: 250 minimum - 750 maximum

Open Prompt: You can write about anything as long as it's fiction and within the word count.

Limit: 300 entries

Visit the Contest Page for complete details. Good luck!

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Friday, September 18, 2009

 

Last Chance to Register! Writing for Children Workshop

Ladies,

If you're interested in writing for children's magazines--whether it's a short story, a nonfiction article, or poetry--this class is not to miss! Margo is a fabulous instructor and will walk you through the process--from crafting your story to creating your submission package. Enroll asap to ensure your spot.

WRITING FOR CHILDREN: Everything You Need to Know About Short Stories, Articles, and Fillers by Margo L. Dill

START DATE: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DURATION: 7 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class will teach the basics of writing for children’s magazines, crafting short stories, nonfiction articles, poetry, and fillers. The student will come away with a short story and cover letter, nonfiction query letter, and a filler or poem. She will also have a list of potential markets, fitting her manuscripts. The instructor will also share an organizational tool for submissions and information on finding other children’s writers and networking.

Visit the classroom page for more details and a week-by-week breakdown:
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html#MargoDill

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

 

Learning a New Language

by LuAnn Schindler

This morning, I attended a foreign language class at an area high school. My assignment: interview the teacher and students about why this language is important and worth learning. What's unique is that the language is Chinese, and the school is located in the middle of Northeast / North Central Nebraska.

How does this relate to writing? It's interesting; the instructor handed me a sheet of paper and a 'pen' resembling a paint brush and told me to work along with the students, drawing the Chinese words for numbers one through ten and the directions.

Later in the class, she shared a slide show with famous places to visit in China. Each slide had English and Chinese writing, as well as gorgeous photographs. At the end, she played a clip of a Chinese acrobatic troupe, similar to the Cirque Shanghai show I saw in Chicago this summer. Spectacular! When I asked her what her goals were, she said to give students a hook of culture and then reel them in to learn the language. I think she's succeeding.

She hooked me.

As a former teacher, I can't stress enough the importance of life-long learning. According to the instructor, one of every five people in the world know Chinese. Think about the career possibilities: translators, writers - in every genre, travel guides. The list of opportunities is endless.

As a writer, it may seem like there isn't enough time to squeeze in time for a class of any kind. I look at my schedule and wonder when I'll ever get caught up with my writing obligations and contemplate adding another element to the mix. But, if I want to remain marketable and open new doors, I should investigate learning another language.

You never know where the world of language may take you.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

 

Fantastic Photos: Using Pictures to Enhance Your Blog Part 2


In part one of my post, I talked about using photo share sites, like Flickr.com, to find pictures to go with your blog posts. In part two of "Fantastic Photos," I have a few more ideas of places to find pictures and enhance your blogs.

And why should you care about photos? Just think about this: What draws your eye to articles in a newspaper? It's either the headline or the photos (which is usually the case). Why do we love picture books? Sure, the text is cute--but the illustrations make it sparkle. Think of adding photos to your blog posts like you are adding sparkle. You are just enhancing your brilliant words. People love photos, and it's not hard to find good photos!

So, here are a couple more ideas:

  • Join the Amazon.com Associates program. Then you can get html coding for those rectangles with the picture of the book cover, and the button that says buy from Amazon. Don't freak out when you read html coding in my above sentence. Amazon makes it simple, simple, simple. I use it on my blog, where I always put an Amazon link to the book that I am reviewing. If people click on a book from your website and order something through Amazon, then you get a percentage of the sales. Granted, it's not very much, but it's something. For example, this month I have sold 3 books off my blog through Amazon, and my account has a balance of 26 cents!
  • If you are writing about people, books, music, etc, use photos of the people and book album cover. People are VERY generous about sending you photos to enhance your blog if you contact the right person. For example, at the big publishing houses like Penguin Group for example, they have a media section of their website. Find the publicist that fits with the book you are reviewing, e-mail them, and ask for a jpeg file of the book cover and/or author, and they will send one to you in a timely manner. Some book/author/musician websites have a feature where you can download the photo from their website. Just read the information carefully to see if a photo credit is given and make sure to include this information with your blog post. I have even contacted the author myself, and they are more than happy to send you files or give you the name of their publicist. In today's market, everyone is happy with free publicity.
  • This next suggestion may seem obvious but you can provide YOUR OWN PHOTOS. (No duh, Margo, uh?) The only reason why I include that here is because the problem most people run into is that their photo files from their digital cameras are so large that they don't load properly to the blog post. So, just remember to resize the files. Most photo editing programs have a place where you can easily resize files for e-mailing and downloading. Another thing to be careful of is if you have a blog about parenting, for example, and you want to download photos of your neighbor's children to enhance a blog post, make sure you have permission from your neighbors to publish their children's photos on the website. Some people don't care about things like this, especially since names are rarely included, but other people are touchy. I have a friend whose husband doesn't even want her to load photos of their own kids to her Facebook page; so to be on the safe side, it is always better to ask.
This ends my suggestions and places where I have found photos to enhance my blog. I'm sure there are more, many more. SO, if you have a different source, let us know!

Happy writing!
Margo Dill
www.margodill.com

photo by Shashi Bellamkonda www.flickr.com

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

 

Laurel Robertson: An Interview with Second Place Winner of the Spring Flash Fiction Contest


Laurel Robertson was born in the tiny town of Presque Isle, Maine and has spent most of her life moving south towards warmer weather! Now a native of Dacula, Ga. (let's just say Atlanta), she resides in hectic tandem with her always-on-the-go six-year-old daughter, Lucie Marie. An avid photographer, reader, and fan of storytelling, Laurel has kept writing on the back burner for many years while working her two full time jobs as a Sales & Marketing Coordinator and a single mother. Recently a spark lit and took hold as she began writing her first YA novel, which she is now in the process of editing. Although telling stories has always been in her blood, this is the first contest she has entered. Laurel is excited to entertain the idea of writing as a serious quest as well as creative outlet. She looks forward to writing more short fiction and finishing the novels stacking up in her head.

WOW: Laurel, congratulations on winning second place in the Spring 2009 Flash Fiction contest with your story, "Home By the Sea." It's the kind of story that can give you chills! What was your inspiration for this short story?

Laurel: Thanks very much! It was a complete surprise and honor to be chosen second place winner. The inspiration behind this particular story came from a song actually. When a friend and I decided to enter this contest, she asked if I had any story ideas in mind. At the time I had NO clue but was hoping for divine inspiration. Later that day, I was listening to my I-tunes and a song by Genesis came on--"Home By the Sea." For some reason, my brain pulled out a useless bit of trivia from way back --that song was about a ghost. It dawned on me that I wanted to write a ghost story. I started pondering what might happen if a ghost didn’t “know” she was a ghost. I actually wrote the ending first and worked my way to the beginning. And I named it HBTS in honor of the song that inspired the thought.

WOW: It is always so interesting to hear how stories are inspired by songs, news stories, quotes--it seems like, thankfully, inspiration is all around us. How easy or difficult was it for you to tell this entire story, including great descriptions, in such a small amount of words?

Laurel: I entered this contest to find out if I could write short. I soon realized it is unbelievably difficult to pare down my word count. I love description and trying to squeeze it in such a small number of words takes a lot of consideration. I give Kudos to anyone who can write short fiction easily. But, I will add that it has improved my writing in that I have become more aware of sentence structure and phrasing. I think writing short fiction can only improve one’s overall writing skill.

WOW: I agree, and it is important to always challenge ourselves and learn as writers! Do you often explore the theme of death or loss in your writing? What other themes do you explore?

Laurel: I hadn’t thought of it that way until you just asked, but now that you mention it, my newest short story is about death as well. Maybe it’s a subconscious endeavor? My novel, however, is not about death. Although, it might have something to do with loss!

WOW: (laughs) I think that is actually the best way to approach a theme--not trying to approach it but just seeing what comes out with the story you need to write! Your bio said that you are editing a YA novel. Is this the age group you prefer to write for? What is your novel about?

Laurel: I never sat down with the intention of writing a novel for the YA genre. I wanted to write a romance; and once I started writing, it took off in a totally different direction. I was elated because I had no idea I wanted to send any kind of message with my writing. The “romance” became more about respecting one’s self while in love rather than just writing a typical romance novel. Through the research on certain subjects for my story, I realized I actually wanted to say something to kids. They are under so much more pressure than we were at that age. My hope is that I might, in some small way, make them think about how important decisions regarding love and waiting until marriage to have sex really are. Too many adults accept teenage sex as the norm now days, and I think today’s kids want someone to tell them it’s OK to respect yourself and wait. One day, I am hopeful that my six-year-old daughter will benefit from my writing on this subject.

WOW: You have definitely set out to tackle a tough issue, but it sounds like you will have an intriguing book. I love it again that you set out to write one thing, and the characters and story kind of took over. That happens to me all the time! You also mentioned that you put your writing on the back burner for a while until recently. What made you start writing again?

Laurel: Last year, my husband and I separated after 18 years. I was a bit lost and needed an “outlet” for a lot of pent-up anxieties. My writing became a conduit for the sad, angry ,and confused bits of myself turning into something therapeutic and constructive. It was a safe haven for me when I needed to escape reality. It also gave me something to do with all the extra time I had when I would wake up, every night, at 3:00 am!

WOW: Laurel, thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. I can see that it will help other women writers who may be going through a difficult situation. It is always nice to hear when people can take a trying time and turn it into something positive. What are some time management tips you have for WOW! readers since you work a full-time job and are a single mom?

Laurel: Well, any of my friends reading this will certainly laugh-out-loud at the thought of “time management” mentioned anywhere near my name. I am more of a fly-by-the-seat -0f -my-pants kind of girl. Also known as the Princess of Procrastination…but, it works for me. I do much better “under pressure” and as long as I have a deadline, I can get amazing amounts of work done. I just make lots of lists on my calendar and try to stick to them. I could use a little more sleep, but to quote my favorite singer, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

WOW: Thank you, Laurel, for sharing your writing knowledge, story, and passion with us today! Keep on writing, and we hope to read more of your work soon.

interview conducted by Margo L. Dill, www.margodill.com, http://margodill.com/blog/

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Monday, September 14, 2009

 

Paul Martin, inspirational author of Original Faith, launches his blog tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Paul M. Martin writes with exceptional clarity about spiritual matters. His depth and breadth of first-hand experience allows him to speak compellingly to people across a wide range of perspectives on religion and spirituality. At age twenty-three, Paul had a spontaneous experience of the kind that is often sought through meditation and prayer. It was immensely hopeful. It stood in complete defiance of his despairing world view. It was the primary source material for the rest of his life and the genesis of Original Faith. Within a year, Paul visited the Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts, where he learned meditation from the late Fr. Basil Pennington. Within two years, he went on to receive an M.A. in religious studies from the University of Chicago. In the coming years, he would also earn a M. Ed. in counseling as his public school career transitioned from English as a Second Language teacher to elementary school counselor. At age thirty-seven, with Original Faith perhaps two years from completion, Paul experienced the onset of a condition that would never be diagnosed. He was forced to set the manuscript aside for the better part of the next decade as he combined full-time work with extensive medical research and travel. By May 2002, Paul's disability had become too severe for continued work outside the home, and he resumed work on Original Faith. Between 2002 and 2006, he completed the book, along with two additional manuscripts, managing to convert his handwritten notes to Word documents before he lost the ability to walk and work with paper.

Find out more about Paul by visiting his website: www.originalfaith.com

Paul is also offering a FREE e-book, Original Faith: Hard Times Handbook, to those that sign up for his newsletter. You can sign-up and download the e-book here.


Original Faith: What Your Life is Trying To Tell You
By Paul Martin

Original Faith is no how-to manual. Movingly written, it evokes experiences and insights in readers that give transformative power to its many suggests for practice. Wherever we are along our paths, here is a new and contemporary approach to help clarify the perennial call to re-center our identities first from egoism to love; then from love to a larger reality.

You will find answers in your own experience to questions such as:
  • What, exactly, is real love?
  • What runs deeper than despair?
  • What makes negativity worse than useless no matter how well justified?
  • How can I realize that I'm already faithful--with or without beliefs?
  • How can I discover that there is no "set-up" and begin creating meaning instead of searching for it?
  • How can I find peace and strength far beyond what I've dreamt possible?
Published by Lucid Interface LLC
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN# 193461100x

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Paul's book, Original Faith: What Your Life is Trying To Tell You, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Margo L. Dill

WOW: Paul, thank you for joining us at WOW! and for kicking off your blog tour. It took you twenty-five years to write Original Faith (25, correct?), and it addresses your spiritual life and struggles along the way. Why did it take so many years to write this book?

Paul: Yes, twenty-five, "25," or, as I like to think of it, "only a quarter of a century..."

But seriously... I should mention at the outset that Original Faith isn't a spiritual autobiography. It does make use of first-person material where this helps to move the book's message forward. Some readers have compared it to Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in this respect. As to my extended writing process...

For fourteen years, the writing developed on its own. At first, I didn't realize I was writing a book. It began with note taking and journaling for my personal use. Once I saw that a book was underway, it was a creative process that happened on its own time. My best ideas and language would come to me as unexpected surprises. I came to see my job as getting out of the way and making way--accepting that I couldn't control or anticipate where the process was going while setting aside regular time for writing.

After fourteen years, most of the creative work was complete. I had set my notes and working manuscript aside for what I thought would be a couple months while I recovered from a sudden onset of "Myofascial Pain Syndrome." It would turn out that I didn't have MPS, but something much rarer and much worse.

For about the next ten years, in declining health, I had to devote all my energies to continued full-time work, extensive medical research and travel, and health insurance problems. I was able to return to the manuscript only after I became disabled from my work.

WOW: We are very sorry to hear about your health problems, and thank you for sharing your story with us in spite of the difficulties you must face to do so. By returning to your work after 10 years, it shows that you are a very determined man with a message to give the world. That is very admirable! What is the basic premise of Original Faith?

Paul: That each of us is already faithful, that trust and hope in the One is a fact at the depths of being human, and that anyone can personally become aware of this. I leave it to readers whether to think of the One as God or as being, nature, or reality itself. My focus is the experiences that unite us, not the beliefs that can divide us.

Faith is one of those experiences. And to open up to our faith is to find ourselves opening up to another important unifying experience: love. Faith encourages love to be itself.

WOW: In the beginning of the book, you address love, faith, and the obstacles that keep us from living out faith-full love. What are those obstacles?

Paul: The main obstacle is egoism--the sense that each of us has of somehow mattering more than everyone else. For some of us, depression and despair are obstacles. Even this has an egoistic dimension.

WOW: It sounds so simple when you say it, but we all know how hard it is to fight against egoism, which seems to come naturally to most of us. Does Original Faith address how to replace those obstacles, mainly egoism, with love? Please give us a brief explanation of this process.

Paul: The process of spiritual development is highly individual, but the general direction is clear: becoming more loving and less egoistic. Authentic insight and spiritual practice are the keys to finding and keeping to this path.

By authentic insight, I mean realizations that come to us through deep and heartfelt experience. Insights that Original Faith seeks to evoke in readers include understanding the nature of love, faith, and ego. Seeing love and ego for what they are, and with our love encouraged by our faith, we become profoundly motivated to take our love's way.

Without a foundation of insight, spiritual practices are likely to falter and fail--much like New Year's resolutions often do. But with this foundation, spiritual practices are invaluable to keeping us on track. Original Faith offers a wide variety of practices on the premise that people need to identify those that fit well with their individual lifestyles if they are to benefit from them in the long run, where they can be transformative.

WOW: That makes perfect sense to find ways to fit spiritual practice into your lifestyle and not to make unrealistic goals that will be impossible to meet. I think the comparison to New Year's resolutions makes your point perfectly clear! You also worked as a counselor for elementary students. Did this job affect your ideas and beliefs that you discuss in the book?

Paul: My long career working with young children, first as an English as a Second Language teacher and then school counselor, was a continual source of inspiration. It gave me a sense of the reality of the coming generations and helped expand the scope of my caring to the whole world and our long-term future here. And children don't cover up like adults do--the love and the ego are both out there and easy to see. Quite a lot of material in Original Faith was directly child-inspired.

WOW: We can learn so much from children, especially because they don't cover up like adults do. How did you manage writing a book and working a full-time job with the children?

Paul: By getting up in the early hours of the morning (around 2:00 a.m.) to write before going to work. I found that after work just wasn't a productive writing time for me.

And as long as I was getting up so early, I made sunrise my jogging time. A beautiful time to be outdoors and, like my work with children, another major and completely unexpected source of creativity. In my twenties, my fantasy had been a farmhouse in Vermont with nothing to do but write; I'm glad that didn't happen.

WOW: 2:00 a.m.!! Now, that is dedication! What remarkable accomplishments to have finished your book and touched the lives of children at the same time! You also suffer from a rare progressive illness. What challenges does that present for your writing and marketing of your book?

Paul: I completed the book just in time. When I'd set it aside in 1995, all my notes and papers were handwritten. When I returned to them about ten years later, the first thing I did was organize them and enter them into my computer, a project that I completed just two or three months before losing the ability to work with hard copy.

My ability to market the book is minimal. Since finishing it, the rate of disease progression has continued to accelerate. I'm too fragile now to leave the house by any means and mostly bedridden with few productive hours in a day.

What can you do? All you can. Original Faith is a labor of love, and I do my best by it. To do your love's best is to know that you’ve kept an agreement between you and God above or you and the stars above. However you think of it and whatever you call it, it's the same experience of personal right relationship with the infinitely greater. It brings the proverbial peace that passes understanding.

WOW: Paul, thank you for sharing your story of determination, faith, and love with us today. I'm sure there are many readers out there right now inspired by your interview, and many more that will be inspired by Original Faith.


Want to join Paul on his blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

September 14, 2009 Monday
Paul will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Paul's book!
http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

September 15, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by Holistic Future today to discuss the connection between spirituality and nature with Paul Martin, author of Original Faith.
http://www.holisticfuture.com/

September 16, 2009 Wednesday
Paul stops by SuperEnlightenMe, a blog for spirituality and self-help, for a surprise guest post! Find out more about Paul and Original Faith today.
http://www.superenlightme.com/

September 18, 2009 Friday
Today Paul reveals how exercise can give do more than improve your physical health in Running as a Spiritual Exercise.
http://www.selfhelpdaily.com

September 21, 2009 Monday
Paul stops by our friend Jan Lundy's blog, Awake is Good, for an inspirational interview! I can't wait to see what these two will chat about. Join in on the discussion today.
http://www.awakeisgood.blogspot.com/

September 22, 2009 Tuesday
Stop by Diary of a Smart Chick today for a book review and interview with Paul Martin. Plus, enter to win a free copy of Original Faith!
http://diaryofasmartchick.com/

September 25, 2009 Friday
Samantha Clark, of Day By Day Writer, talks to Paul Martin about the challenges he faced while writing Original Faith.
http://daybydaywriter.wordpress.com/

September 29, 2009 Tuesday
Paul stops by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writers Inspired, for an exclusive interview on the topic of "What Your Life is Trying to Tell You." Stop by today for the lively discussion and enter to win a copy of Original Faith!
http://writerinspired.wordpress.com/

October 8, 2009 Thursday
Stop by Jerri Ann Reason's blog, Mom-E-Centric, today for a guest post by Paul Martin, author of Original Faith.
http://www.momecentric.com/

We may have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Paul Martin's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Paul's book Original Faith: What Your Life is Trying To Tell You.

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