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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

 

Developing Multiple Income Streams

Writers should strive to have more than one income stream.

Is there such a thing as a writer’s identity crisis? Because I sure feel like I’m having one!

I’ve been working as a freelance writer and magazine editor for the past 10 years, and I’ve always relied on a few steady clients to keep the income coming in. But with two kids getting older and more involved in extracurricular activities (not to mention the looming threat of orthodontia) I’m beginning to realize I need to diversify (and by diversify I mean increase greatly) my income streams in order to keep the cash flowing in a positive direction.

You’re probably thinking “Yes, Renee, this is a no-brainer. You should never put all your eggs in one basket.” And I know this, really I do, I’ve just been dragging my heels on actually doing something about it. I keep telling myself I’m not qualified “enough” to offer the writing/editing/consulting services that come to mind.

Here are a few things I’m considering to bring in extra money:

Reprints. I spent about an hour the other day updating my spreadsheet of regional parenting publications and going through my hard drive to find articles to re-purpose and re-sell for passive income. This is one of the quickest ways a writer can get more leverage out of interviews, research and story ideas. I also need to spend more time querying the higher-paying markets with my original ideas, such as national and trade publications. I’ve gotten lazy on doing that and need to dive back in.

Micro-publishing. A few years ago I wrote a pretty lengthy non-fiction book proposal about freelance writing for the parenting markets, sent it off to a few agents and then let it languish on my hard drive after just a few rejections. I’m now considering selling it as an e-book and also possibly self-publishing a book of short stories that I’ve written over the years. I understand that I’ll need to make sure I market these efforts appropriately, but it could be a fun way to build upon my platform and earn some extra income at the same time.

Editing/Proofreading. I can draw upon my experience as a magazine editor to help people and/or businesses to proofread and edit any number of things such as resumes, non-fiction books, novels, essays, commercial copy, brochures, press releases, etc.

Writing coach. I love talking to people about breaking into writing, and I have many years of experience in realm of non-fiction. I’d love to develop my own online course on breaking into freelance writing or brainstorming article topics for parenting magazines, using the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Now to just implement all these ideas . . . it’s looking to be a long, busy spring and summer.

What types of multiple income streams do you have, or hope to have in the near future?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also blogs at Renee’s Pages.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

 

Interview With Fall 2013 Flash Fiction Contest Third Place Winner, Kim Briggs

I am very excited to have been the one to chat with our third place winner, Kim Briggs, in the 2013 Fall Flash Fiction Contest. Her gripping story, Deadly Cocktail, held me captive from beginning to end. And she’s got some wonderful insight and advice for you Young Adult/New Adult writers out there. If you haven’t read her story yet, check it out here then come on back for our interview. This is one you don’t want to miss!

It took Kim a double Bachelors, a Masters, three kids, and a house full of laundry before she realized what she really wanted to be when she grew up: a writer.

Kim finds time to write in the early mornings, late nights, and stolen moments throughout the day. She survives on soy chai lattes and dark chocolate, lots of dark chocolate.

Kim is the CO-Regional Advisor to SCBWI Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter. Through SCBWI, she met her writing group, Ink Sisters. The Sisters destruct plot and kill characters all the while cracking her up. Kim’s family gives her the courage to survive the crazy world of publishing.

Chat with her on twitter: @KimBriggs_Write

Check her out at: All Things YA and NA http://KimBriggs.blogspot.com

about.me/kim.briggsolizarowicz

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in our 2013 Fall Flash Fiction contest! Let’s start with you giving us a peek into your background.

KIM: It all began with the chicken pox. Back when getting the chicken pox was a rite of passage for every child, the red itchy bumps surfaced on my body and forced me into temporary exile. While banished from the third grade, I met my dear friends, Wilbur, Charlotte, and Templeton. Of course, I’m referring to Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, my first endeavor into the world of chapter books. From that point on, I was hooked on reading and knew someday I would be a writer. During my school years, I spent a lot of time staring out classroom windows or doodling in a notebook, trying to figure out the ending to a story I was working on. Bits and pieces of paper became home to many unfinished tales.

Most of my youth and much of my twenties and thirties were spent in constant forward motion. I graduated college with a Bachelor of Science double major in Environmental Studies and Environmental Planning and worked in that field for a while, but I quickly realized something was missing. Given my love for reading and writing, I decided to go to graduate school and become a high school English Teacher. I loved the challenge of teaching and inspiring future generations to read and write, but still, something was missing. After the birth of my son, I stayed home to raise my young family. In 2009, following the birth of my second daughter, I read the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, and I had my AH-HA! moment.

The night before Thanksgiving 2009, my husband bought me my first laptop. I wrote late into the night. I finally found what I was missing.

WOW: What an amazing background! And Charlotte’s Web is still one of my personal favorites. Which genres are you most interested in and why?

KIM: I tend to write in a Young Adult voice. It comes naturally. Not sure why. Maybe I never grew up. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment and want to repeat my same mistakes over and over again. Maybe I remember what it's like to be young and free and full of possibility.

High School is all about firsts. First boyfriend, first kiss, first job, first car... It is amazing and terrifying, beautiful and tragic.

That’s why I write YA, but I also write New Adult (NA) too. New Adult allows more freedom in content. Alcohol, sex, and evil combine in all the right ways to create a story I would not write for a YA audience. My NA thriller, And Then He, turns an innocent night of flirting with a handsome stranger at a high school reunion into a nightmare Tiffany can’t escape.

I also love to write Picture Books. They are loads of fun to create, and a nice break from long works of fiction. I haven’t submitted any of my PBs yet.

A few middle grade ideas storm around in my brain, begging me to write, but there’s only one of me and twenty-four hours in a day... So, yeah, I love to write for any age, except adult, I’m not ready to grow up yet.

Oh, wait, you asked what genre I write? I consider myself a chameleon. I write whatever genre strikes my fancy. Thriller, contemporary, fantasy, paranormal romance—I love it all.

WOW: I love your reason for not writing adult books. LOL! I am the same way. The MG/YA/NA genres are right up my alley and I plan to stay there too. Now, as I mentioned earlier, you placed third in our 2013 Fall Flash Fiction contest! Please tell us about your story, Deadly Cocktail, and how it came to be.

KIM: Thank you. I was so EXCITED whenever I got an email that congratulated me on making it to the next round of the contest, and then when I placed third?!?! Yeah, that was BIG—a major confidence builder.

Each day, thousands of females are put in desperate, compromising situations, filled with horrifying acts of violence. Some victims go to counseling and get the help they need. Others live among us and it’s their random acts of unexplainable behavior that hint at the nightmare they lived or continue to live every day. Dark, yes. Reality, absolututely.

I wanted to turn the victim into something more, something we all imagine doing to an assailant, who takes what isn’t theirs.

Deadly Cocktail began on a scrap piece of paper seven or eight years ago. This past fall, a writer friend of mine, G.G. Silverman revealed her new website, and I discovered she won WOW’s Flash Fiction contest in the summer of 2012, and I thought, “Hmm, maybe I’ll give it a go,” and Deadly Cocktail was reborn.

WOW: I think it was an amazing story. I actually cheered out loud at the end. LOL Can you please give our readers a few tips on what makes a great short story?

KIM: Adults often forget what it’s like to be a teenager, to be young and full of possibility, to make mistakes, and to be in love. Place yourself in someone else’s shoes if it’s too hard to remember what yours felt like.

Make every word count. A work doesn’t need to be 5,000 words. The last short story I wrote was 300 words. Create a snapshot of a scene your reader can see, hear, smell, touch, and feel.

Rewrite. Rework. Recharge whenever you get stuck. See below for pearls of wisdom.

WOW: Excellent advice. Before we let you go today, I would love it if you could share your writing pearls of wisdom with our readers.

KIM: Write and read every day.

Take brain dumps. Exercise. Get the heart pumping to clear out the cobwebs.

Protect your writing time like a ninja. The laundry, the dust bunnies, and the dishwasher can wait.

Join a critique group. My Ink Sisters keep me focused and make me laugh, especially when I want to cry.

Join SCBWI, RWA, SFWA, or whatever group fits your genre. Become involved. Organizations provide invaluable resources and networking opportunities you can’t find anywhere else.

Work hard and be persistent. Rejection is a part of life. Accept it and move on. Kate DiCamillo received almost 400 rejection letters. Lesson learned? KEEP GOING!!

Celebrate your small successes and tell me about them on my blog, All Things YA and NA http://KimBriggs.blogspot.com. I will happy dance with you!!

Write on,
Kim Briggs

WOW: Thank you so much for being here today, Kim. I’m sure your advice and tips will prove useful to many of our authors and writers out there. Good luck on getting published and congratulations again on placing in our contest. We look forward to seeing more of your work.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

 

Adding Fun to Your Website

Nowadays everyone has an author website. A bit about the author, a bit about the book, reviews, events and a link to an online booksite. But how can you make your website stand apart from all the others? That got me thinking about the many author websites I've visited and some of the fun "extras" I found on some sites.

Quizzes --  No need to study for these pop quizzes. They're all about fun. Some of my favorite determine which of the book's characters you are most like. It works for readers and potential readers. If you've already read the book, you want to see if this quiz will connect you to your favorite character. If you haven't read the book, after taking the quiz you have just one more reason to read it -- to learn more about "your" character. There are lots of sites to help you create quizzes but my favorite is QuizWorks.

Name Generators -- You're writing about....pirates. Wouldn't it be fun if everyone visiting your website was given their own pirate name? There are lots of name generators out there, many which will allow you to embed it on your website. Or you can go the low tech way (if you know me, you'd know I'm a big fan of low tech). In this case you provide two alphabet lists, each letter indicating a different name. Readers just have to run down the list and find the name connected to their first and last initials and viola! their new name. For instance my train hopper name is Wheezy Flapjack. You can check out an example of the list version of name generating here.

Character Interviews -- That's right, post an interview not with the author but with the character. You can have a lot of fun with this. What would be your character's favorite movie? What inspired them to do whatever crazy things they do in your book?

Recipes -- There's a reason there are dozens of cooking cooking shows on the television and hundreds of cookbooks released every month. We all adore food. Even people who are horrible in the kitchen seem to enjoy perusing cookbooks. So why add a recipe that is somehow connected to your book...a local specialty, something that matches the season or time period when your book takes place or even some recipes with silly names reflecting your characters.

Book Club Guides -- Along with questions to get a great discussion going you can also include suggestions for games, refreshments, decorations, even costumes book club members would enjoy. If you need some ideas on questions to get readers talking check out Reading Guides at Lit Lovers.

Classroom Guides -- Like Book Club Guides, classroom guides can include discussion questions teachers can use with their students. But there is also so much more, depending on the age range of your children's book. Art activities, crossword puzzles, non-fiction information connected to some aspect of book or biographies of historical characters who appear or are mentioned in your book. for more ideas about what classroom guides can include check out Scholastic's webpage for teachers Book Wizard.

Tell us, what types of activities have you enjoyed on an author website?

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A Few Random Thoughts About Readers and Their Existence

I had an interesting conversation at the post office today. I was sending Caught Between Two Curses to the winner of WOW!'s contest and a Goodreads contest. On the envelope, I had written WOW! winner and on the other, Goodreads winner. The mail clerk had trouble finding a place to put the postage and media mail stickers, and I said, "You can just cover up WOW! winner."

She said, "Oh no. I can't. This is very important to know that they won a book. It might encourage them to read more. Nobody reads anymore."

I smiled and said thank you, and then I said, "You're right."

Although I know that the WOW! winner reads all the time, and most people that enter book contests also do; but in general, the depressing thing is that people read less. Right? Or am I wrong? Or does it seem like there are just more books out there than ever before, and that's why people seem to be able to read fewer books--because there are so many?

On Friday, I went to an elementary school for an author visit and talked to 90 fourth graders. I like to do a lot of audience interaction, and I said, "Raise your hand if you like to write." About 75 percent of the students raised their hands. (I realize this is probably more than actually like to write, but they don't want me to think that they don't like writing, given my profession.) Then I asked, "Who likes to read?" And at least, 90 percent raised their hands, and I even heard one child exclaim, "Oh yeah, I do."

So, it's not true that all kids like to do is play video games. And it's not true that no adults read, in my opinion. But here are two points we need to consider as writers: 1. we need to read ourselves (please do not say you are too busy writing to read. Part of being a writer is being a reader).  2. We need to find READERS. We are very good at finding other writers. We find them at conferences, on Facebook, in Twitter chats, and more. But really, readers are going to buy our books and talk about them and give them as gifts to friends and family. Many writers are readers, too, of course; but people who just love to read and not necessarily write do exist.

I realize this post is a bit all over the place--that's the way my brain feels tonight. But lately, I've had several conversations with writers about looking for readers--don't only spend your marketing efforts and budget on sites where other writers are the main audience. Other writers are very supportive and often have blogs and will give you reviews, but you also need to take time and find reader blogs--they exist. People who just want to read really do start blogs and review books, and many of these are quite popular.

What's the bottom line? I think this is an optimistic post. I'm trying to say that reading is still alive! People still love to read, and it's our job as writers to write for these readers, find our audience, and be readers ourselves.

SO, what are you reading?  

Find out more about Margo L. Dill and her books at http://margodill.com/blog/ or take a class with her from the WOW! classroom (novel writing and children's writing): http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html

photo above by Mo Riza (http://www.flickr.com)

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

 

Retreat! Why You Should Pack Your Bags and Go

In February, Sioux wrote about a retreat she and a two of her writing friends created for themselves. It gave them time and space for writing and critique.

Another opportunity for writers is a larger regional retreat. We have one here in Missouri every year organized by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). In fact, that’s where I am this weekend. No matter how busy my writing life gets, I always make time for this event for three very important reasons.

  1. Face time with a pro. Have you ever gotten comments on a rejection letter and wished that you could ask the agent or editor a few questions? An organized retreat gives you that opportunity. If you get the feedback ahead of time, you also have the chance to revise and get this person’s reaction on that as well. Did you do what she wanted? Go too far? Or not push yourself far enough? At your meeting, you’ll have the answers.
  2. What about when… Another great thing about a retreat is that it gives you time with fellow writers. We always spend part of this time bouncing the feedback that we’ve received off each other. What would you do when an agent asks you to do this? Did I completely misunderstand? Learning how other writers work with feedback can help you find techniques and strategies to use in your own rewrites.
  3. Seven Degrees of Separation. An organized retreat also gives you the chance to meet writers you don’t already know. In addition to receiving feedback from new people, you have the opportunity to form friendships and make connections. Like it or not, connections are important in publishing. Writers that I’ve met at retreats have referred me to their editors. When my editors need additional writers for a job, these are the people whose names go on my list as well.

New friendships, professional connections, an opportunity to learn and writing. What more can you ask for in a weekend?  Good food? Let’s just say that no one goes away hungry here in Missouri!

--SueBE

Find out more about Sue and her work at her blog, One Writer's Journey.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

 

Friday Speak Out!: In Death there is Life

by Susanne Brent

I was first introduced to death by my older sister who took me to see the movie Bambi when I was a little girl. I’d barely dried my tears over the death of Bambi’s mother, when I was crying again while reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book By the Shores of Silver Lake. Not only did Laura’s sister Mary go blind, but their loyal bull dog, Jack, died. In high school I reached for the tissue again when Scarlet O’Hara’s elderly father dies in Gone with the Wind.

Even then, I wondered why did writers let people and beloved animals die? I didn’t think it was too much to ask those with the power of make believe to keep everyone alive.

Then death stepped from the movie screen and pages into my life. When I was 19 year’s old my mother, who I adored, died from cancer, a most unwelcome plot twist. I felt as if I was now a little deer, abandoned all alone in the big forest of life. Death, I learned at an early age, was painful in real life, too.

Many years have passed, and like everyone, I’ve experienced losses of loved ones, people I’ve met in books, and those I’ve met on the road of life. I know that as long as I’m on earth, I will say goodbye to people, until finally it’s my final chapter. I don’t like it, but I have no choice in the matter.

Writing is different. I do have control. I struggle when it’s time to kill people. I don’t want the characters I created to die. Even the nasty characters feel like my children. Why would I want to harm them? Sure they can suffer, get in car accidents, break a leg, grow old and ugly, but death is so cruel.

My subconscious must know what I need to be a storyteller, and thankfully it overrides my need to protect my characters. I know this because I started my novel with that old nemesis of mine, death.

In my novel’s first chapter, Genevieve’s best friend, Darcy, has died in a mysterious fashion.( I still haven’t decided whether Darcy will drown or be found hanging from a balcony.) When I first started the novel, I wasn’t as attached to my characters. The more chapters I complete, the more I wish Darcy was alive. Genevieve mourns her best friend. Then why don’t I act God-like and bring Darcy back to life?

Because I know Darcy is dead, as much as I know that my mother is dead. As writers we know what we must do to make the story real, and make our readers care enough to keep reading.

Looking back at my mother’s passing forty years ago, I see how her death created conflict, change, and propelled my life forward in ways I never expected. These are the main ingredients necessary for a compelling story.

Death makes our stories come alive. Maybe crying isn’t so bad after all if it makes our readers feel.

* * *
Twenty some years ago, (has it been that long!) I earned a journalism degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver, and moved to Arizona to work as a small town newspaper reporter. When the eight to five reporting routine became to restrictive for my free spirit, (or some may say lack of discipline) I left the newspaper and have since worked as a freelance writer. 

I’m currently writing/revising a novel involving secrets we keep even from the best of friends. 

Here’s my blog: http://writerwaitress.blogspot.com/

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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

 

The Editor's Audience

The shadowy reader (or nine).
Photo credit | EKHumphrey
Looking for an editor for your just completed manuscript? There are a few things you should keep in mind, like who is your editor working for.

If you’re like me, when you hire someone, you would like to know that she’s working for you. But when it comes to an editor, she has the interests of an anonymous, possibly shadowy individual that you may have never met.

The reader.

While receiving comments on your work can be hard, the editor you hire should be looking out for the reader to ensure you have answered all the questions that may crop up.

And, I know, it can be hard to hand over your manuscript to a beta reader and harder still to turn the work over to an editor.

It’s true that often writers do not want to turn over their manuscripts because of the fear that an editor will rewrite their work. All of their work. It can be a real fear and, yes, those editors exist. I’ve met editors like that and their heavy editing doesn’t always serve the reader who is your audience.

When delving into your novel, your editor should, at the very least, follow editing’s cardinal rule (do no harm!) and its four C’s:


  • Clarity
  • Coherency
  • Consistency
  • Correctness


When you start to explore hiring an editor, please take some time to talk with him or her and determine if the reader is the most important person in the equation or if you (and your feelings) are. Ask what references the editor uses. Ask the editor to sample edit ten pages of your manuscript or to send you a sample of something he or she edit. If the editor edits too heavily for your tastes, select someone else. Try to look at the sample edit objectively—did the editor improve my writing and focus on those four C’s?

All of those are in the service of the reader and your manuscript.

Ultimately, your editor is interested in the reader who holds your finished book. But that’s a good thing.

Elizabeth King Humphrey writes, edits and lives in North Carolina. She is spending today celebrating her youngest daughter’s seventh birthday...and eating too many cupcakes.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

 

Everything I Learned About Writing I Learned From Shakespeare

Today marks the anniversary of Shakespeare's birth ... and death. At Stratford-Upon-Avon, 450 years ago, one of the best-ever tale spinners made his way into the world.

As a former English instructor, I see nuances of Shakespeare's style shine through in a lot of books that I read. He definitely influences legions of scribes who create alternate worlds and unique people and shape all those wonderful elements into a breathtaking work of art.

And, when I taught the tales of love of woe to swooning or pretentious teens - Romeoo and Juliet or Macbeth  or Much Ado About Nothing - I guided students to look for the moral lessons behind the story, the applicable story elements that resonated with each of their lives. I pointed out the craftily-worded phrases that were embedded in my memory from my teenage years (when my dad was my English teacher and pointed out the same phrases).

And, one of the most important lessons I taught students was decipher how to balance good and evil within the power triangle of themes: love, power and revenge.

It's a lesson I put into practice every time I open a book or start crafting my own fiction.

For example: Macbeth - my personal favorite when it comes to Shake's work. The quest for power dominates the storyline yet within that quest, forces of good and evil work together and against each other to create tension. Think about the actions of the witches and how they create a sort of fantasy inside Macbeth's head. Once the seed is planted, a bit of tug of war begins in his mind, until ultimately, he's converted to the dark side.

Once that storyline is established, Shakespeare introduces the second predominant theme: love. A strong love story filled with conflict drives any story. Shakespeare is the master. He pits a somewhat henpecked Macbeth against his strong-willed wife. Do they love each other? Yes, but she sees opportunity and uses her warped sense of love and desire to drive Macbeth further into darkness.

Ah, the plot thickens.

For added measure, Shakespeare weaves in strands of the revenge theme. Macbeth takes revenge on those who purportedly kill Duncan. Macduff seeks revenge on Shakespeare. Good triumphs over evil.

If you think about your favorite books, most use a combo of the power triangle because it is the easiest way to set up the underlying movement that moves a story forward. That underlying movement is conflict and tension. Without these elements, a stagnate story is born.

And who wants that?

What Shakespearean writing concepts do you use?

By LuAnn Schindler 

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

 

Nichol Hines, Flash Fiction Runner Up for Twisted

"Twisted" is an awesome flash fiction piece that will have you smiling and thinking how clever our Fall 2013 Flash Fiction runner-up, Nichol Hines, is! If you haven't checked out Twisted yet, click here now to check it out. 

Nichol has three goals in life:

Become a published author.
Learn to speak conversational Mandarin.
Learn to play the cello.

Surprisingly, opening herself up to rejection has been the easiest to achieve. Up to now, she has worked on a variety of stories in various forms and was very proud to have let a story go out into the world--and out of her control.

She is currently focusing on writing her very own fractured fairytale; so if you like her writing, or just want to say “Hi,” you can message her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @DarlingNichol

WOW: Congratulations on placing as runner-up in the WOW! contest with your piece, "Twisted." It's so funny and clever! Where did you get the idea for this piece?

Nichol: It came out of a writing exorcise, the kind you get when you have writers' block. The suggestion was to tell a story that personifies something, and to come up with a story told from that perspective. They suggested things like houseflies, or dogs, etc., but I took it a step further, and thought a story from the perspective of a sports bra would be funny. Then I had to figure out just what kind of story a sports bra would have to tell, and it flowed out really quickly from there.

WOW: I love that! Do you find it hard to write humor? (Your bio is humorous, too!) Do you have a couple tips for people trying to write humor?

Nichol: I like wit and humor in the things I read and watch, and I like to think of myself as a fairly witty and humorous person (probably more so than other people see me, but so be it); so in some ways, writing humor is easy because my mind always looks for the joke or the witty remark.

The hard part about writing humor is making sure it fits into the story you are writing. It's just like in real life. Just because you have the perfect joke, zinger, or comment, it might not be the appropriate time or place to share your moment of brilliance, and you have to let it go and move on. It can be hard because sometimes you are just that funny, but it is inevitably the right way to go.

WOW: One of your goals is to be a published author. This story is now published! What other goals for your writing do you have?

Nichol: Sending out a story was one of the hardest things I've ever done because it meant it was no longer my baby, and it was out of my control. No more polishing, no more tweaking, it had to fly or fall on its own merits. So with that first roadblock managed, I'm going to send out some longer stories that I've been sweating blood and tears over.

WOW: Good luck! We'd love to hear from you on Twitter if you get another published! You are also active on social media (Twitter and Facebook). Do you use these as a writer? (Follow any writers/editors/agents, etc?)

Nichol: Social media has its pros and cons. On the upside, in face to face situations, I find it very hard to initiate conversations. Once I get going I'm fine, but Twitter and Facebook allow one a bit of space, and the ability to stay in your comfort zone. Also you avoid actually seeing someone reject you, and double upside, you do not have to control your own face (crying in public is usually frowned upon).

The downside is that anything that has ANY entertainment value can also become a time-suck; and when you are a hardened procrastinator like myself, the wonders of the Internet, as a whole, are dangerous, unless I have a deadline.

WOW: What are you currently working on in your writing life?

Nichol: I'm submitting some serious work to a few literary magazines, and I'm working on a YA novel about a fairy who wants to be a fairy godmother, but is no good at magic. And I'm always coming up with new ideas. The hard part is just focusing on one story at a time.

WOW: Yes, I think that happens to many writers! Too many stories, not enough time. What's your writing routine like?

Nichol: I don't have a regular writing routine, per say. It's not just a matter of procrastination, although I'll admit to that being a factor; but in reality, I thrive under the pressure of a deadline. So my most productive writing and reviewing is when I have an external deadline.

For example with short stories, I look to where I want to submit and use their submission dates as hard deadlines. This leaves me no wiggle room to charm my way into an extension, and it's do or die, with the responsibility falling on my shoulders. I also take classes, or join specific writing workshops, because then I am accountable to others, AND I get priceless feedback from a variety of sources.

WOW: Those are all great ideas for keeping yourself on track and productive. Thanks for sharing! Best of luck to you.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

 

Novelist and Playwright David Kalish Launches his WOW! Blog Tour for The Opposite of Everything

& giveaway contest!

The Opposite of Everything is a hilariously fast-paced first novel for David Kalish. When Brooklyn journalist Daniel Plotnick learns he has cancer, his fortunes fall faster than you can say Ten Plagues of Egypt. His wife can’t cope, his marriage ends in a showdown with police, and his father accidentally pushes him off the George Washington Bridge.

Plotnick miraculously survives his terrifying plunge, and comes up with a zany plan to turn his life around: by doing the opposite of everything he did before.

In the darkly comedic tradition of Philip Roth and Lorrie Moore comes a new novel from author David Kalish, who draws us into a hilarious, off-kilter world where cancer tears apart relationships…and builds new ones.

Paperback: 282 Pages
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (February 17, 2014)
ISBN: 1937178439
ISBN-13: 978-1937178437
ASIN: B00IIUUSKG

Twitter hashtag: #OEKalish

The Opposite of Everything is available as an e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of The Opposite of Everything, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes next Tuesday, April 29th at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:

David Kalish left a career as a big city journalist and became a fiction writer, earning his MFA from Bennington College. His first novel, The Opposite of Everything, was accepted for publication by WiDo Publishing, and he's working on a second novel entitled Stoner Hero, which he often writes in his head while walking his two dogs in a forest near his upstate New York home.

In addition to the longer form, his short fiction has been published in Temenos, Knock, Spectrum, and Poydras Review; his non-fiction in The Writer's Chronicle, and a short film of his, "Regular Guy," was selected into film festivals here and abroad. As a reporter at The Associated Press, his articles appeared in major newspapers such as Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune. He is currently working on a comedic theatre script for a Latin version of A Christmas Carol, which will be performed at the Proctors Theater in Schenectady in December. He lives in Clifton Park, New York, with his wife, daughter, and two canaries, as well as those two dogs.

Website: http://www.davidkalishwriter.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7171274.David_Kalish

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dekalish

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dekalish

-----Interview by Crystal J. Otto

WOW: David, first off – thank you so much for choosing WOW for your tour. It is such a pleasure working with you!

You received so much advance praise for The Opposite of Everything! Congratulations on that, but it may make it hard to answer my first question: Who was your biggest supporter when it came to writing and publishing your first novel?

David: I have to credit a handful of writers who graduated with me from Bennington College’s MFA program for fiction. After graduating, we formed a group to exchange feedback about each other’s writing. Every two months we’d meet in Massachusetts, which was midway between where we lived, and talk about what worked and what didn’t in our work. I’d share chapters from my novel, as well as short stories that became chapters in the novel. The group’s feedback was crucial to shaping my novel into the final version that was just published. They gave me exactly the support I needed to finish and publish my first novel.

WOW: Support is so crucial and it sounds like you have an awesome network of friends and supporters! So, when did you know The Opposite of Everything had what it takes to make it in the publishing world?

David: Interesting question. I suppose I knew I’d “made it” in spring 2013, when I signed a contract with my publisher. Up to that point, it all felt surreal. Over the years I’d amassed a stack of rejection slips from agents and publishers, and had revised my novel so many times, that I thought this was how I’d spend the rest of my writing life. So when I awoke to the reality of – OMG, I’m being published – it took a while for me to believe it.

WOW: Well, you better believe it now! You’re big stuff and you deserve this! David, there were many points at which I was laughing out loud--was that your intention? At what point did you decide to turn a dreary situation into a comedy and why?

David: Interestingly my book, which is loosely based on events in my life, began as memoir. My life was pretty dramatic, and the format seemed to fit. In just four months in 1994, I was diagnosed with incurable thyroid cancer at the same time my first marriage fell apart. I later got remarried to a doctor, and underwent chemotherapy. But after numerous rewrites, I decided the first-person approach wasn’t working. The writing felt stiff. I didn’t know how to express how I felt about my pain. My characters were stick figures.

I decided to create some narrative distance. I tried humor. I made my characters do things their real-life counterparts wouldn’t consider. I told the story in third-person. I replaced real names with offbeat ones. I stretched truths for dramatic effect.

My book is still a story about one man’s struggle, his search for renewal. But I’ve handed it over to actors who are free to do all sorts of crazy things. It’s liberating. I can focus on the story’s narrative arc. I can go to town on my life.

WOW: David, I love the humorous approach and am incredibly happy you shared your story. The Opposite of Everything is anything but stiff and you definitely chose a great way to express a difficult time in your life.

I happen to know you let your lawn go to crabgrass … so if you wouldn’t mind, tell us more about how that came about and what the future has in store for your lawn.

David: Eleven years ago, when I moved with my family from a Brooklyn apartment to a four-bedroom house upstate, we went from zero backyard to a half acre of lawn. So one of my first phone calls was to a lawn care company. But the applications of herbicide, announced in cautionary yellow flags stuck in my lawn, made me nervous. As our puppy and young daughter played on the lawn that first summer, I worried about liver cancer. I imagined weed poison stunting my daughter’s growth. The second season I told the lawn company to skip some treatments. Seizing the opportunity, crabgrass sprouted around the edges of our property. The next season I thought of my own slow-growing cancer, which I’ve battled for many years. I fretted over poisoning the water and earth, for the sake of aesthetics. Something snapped in me. I cancelled the lawn care company. The hell with the neighbors. The crabgrass was ecstatic.

I don’t expect the future of my lawn to improve. But I wish my neighbors saw the light as I did, so my grass wouldn’t feel so inadequate next to theirs.

WOW: It wouldn’t take much for me to jump on that bandwagon of crabgrass – I can’t believe your neighbors weren’t more excited!

David, you mentioned you’d be happy to offer a guest post for one of our blog stops and the title was “Nature and Mindfulness,” would you be able to give us some insight into that particular topic?

David: Every morning, I take a brisk walk with my two dogs through a nearby forest, my thoughts unleashed like the dogs. I think deeply, or at least I think I do. I ponder themes for my next novel. Work out dialogues between my characters. I wonder if the earth will survive the whims of humankind. Ruminating while immersed in nature is a strong combination for me. Naturally, I’ve pondered a guest post on this topic, about how communion with the trees helps free up one’s muse.

WOW: I’m glad to hear you’re pondering themes for your next novel as well as communing with nature. How exciting! What has been the biggest challenge to overcome when it comes to publishing The Opposite of Everything?

David: Today’s publishing world demands the author be his/her own publicity agent. I learned this for the first time last year, when I finally found a publisher that accepted my novel. Signing the contract, I was forced to shed my naïve notions about the journey to the bookshelf. I once thought that once my first novel was accepted, I’d pop open the champagne, do a couple of book signings, and work full-bore on my second novel.

But since my novel was acquired, I’ve barely touched my second. Instead I’ve plunged into social media, a requirement for first-time authors like me. Today, I spend oceans of time blogging, harnessing Facebook and Twitter, participating in Goodreads, updating my author Web site, soliciting reviews, and arranging my book tour. Overcoming my own trepidation about self-promotion was my biggest obstacle to my book’s successful publication.

WOW: I’m certainly happy you’ve allowed WOW to be part of your plunge! What advice do you have for other authors?

David: My advice to aspiring authors is to never give up. And always try to improve your writing. It’s a tough business, so it’s supposed to be tough. If you’re passionate enough about writing, you’ll persevere long enough to succeed. So be persistent, join a writing group, network with knowledgeable people, ask tons of questions, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and keep writing.

WOW: David, that’s awesome advice; we’ve all got to start somewhere! What’s the next big project for David Kalish?

David: I’ve written a musical comedy, The Gringo Who Stole Christmas, that will be performed at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady in December. It’s a Latin twist on the Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, and I wrote it in collaboration with Alex Torres, the Latin musician and composer. This is my next big project – to continually refine the script as it wends its way through rehearsals these next months and to the big stage.

WOW: There are so many exciting things going on for you; thank you for taking time with us and we can’t wait to see more!

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

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

Tuesday, April 22 @ Blue House Review
Follow David Kalish and The Opposite of Everything as his WOW! tour heads over to Blue House Review with a 5 Star Review and giveaway!
http://www.bluehousereview.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, April 23 @ All Things Audry
David Kalish visits All Things Audry and offers a giveaway of his first novel, The Opposite of Everything and also shares a guest post about David's awkward experiences as a newbie to social media.
http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com/

Friday, April 25 @ Choices
Choices hosts author David Kalish and his awesome first novel, The Opposite of Everything. Today is your chance at a giveaway as well as an opportunity to hear from Kalish with his "Ruminations on Nature and Mindfulness."
http://madelinesharples.com/

Monday, April 28 @ Selling Books
Don't miss today's author interview as David Kalish visits Selling Books and offers some details about himself.
http://www.sellingbooks.com/

Tuesday, April 29 @ I Would Rather be Reading
Today is a giveaway of David Kalish's first novel, The Opposite of Everything as he visits I'd So Rather be Reading and shares a bit about how he turned tragedy into comedy!
http://www.idsoratherbereading.com/

Thursday, May 1 @ Book Worm
Check in with Anjanette Potter as she reviews The Opposite of Everything by David Kalish.
http://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

Monday, May 5 @ It Starts at Midnight
Shannon reviews The Opposite of Everything by David Kalish and offers a giveaway of this fabulous novel!
http://www.itstartsatmidnight.com/

Friday, May 9 @ Create Write Now
Today is a great day for a giveaway of The Opposite of Everything by David Kalish as well as an opportunity to hear from David as he tickles our funny bones with his wry essays on ordinary life!
http://www.createwritenow.com/

Tuesday, May 6 @ The Lit Ladies
Find out what The Lit Ladies have to say after reading The Opposite of Everything by David Kalish. This is also your opportunity to participate in a giveaway to obtain your very own copy of this fabulous novel!
http://www.thelitladies.com/

Wednesday, May 7 @ This Mama Cooks
The Opposite of Everything makes a blog stop at This Mama Cooks today and is offered as a giveaway to readers who also will hear from David Kalish as he shares his thoughts on the therapeutic value of writing.
http://www.thismamacooks.com/

Monday, May 12 @ CMash Reads
Today's Author Showcase at CMash Reads is none other than David Kalish and his debut novel The Opposite of Everything!
http://cmashlovestoread.com/

Tuesday, May 13 @ Chaos in the Country
Today's feature review at Chaos in the Country is the amazing and resilient David Kalish and his debut novel The Opposite of Everything!
http://www.chaosinthecountry.com/

Wednesday, May 14 @ Words by Webb
Today is a special treat as Jodi Webb interviews author David Kalish and offers readers a giveaway of Kalish's fabulous novel, The Opposite of Everything!
http://jodiwebb.com/

Thursday, May 15 @ Romance Junkies
Don't miss this great interview with David Kalish and check out this fabulous review of his book The Opposite of Everything!
http://www.romancejunkies.com/rjblog/

Friday, May 16 @ Renee Is Writing
Stop by Renee is Writing for a surprise post with a little bit of everything including the joys and trials of David's writing and his writing process as well as his publishing journey!
http://www.reneeiswriting.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 20 @ Steph The Bookworm
Join Steph The Bookworm as she reviews The Opposite of Everything by David Kalish. This is also your opportunity to participate in the giveaway to get a copy of your very own!
http://www.stephthebookworm.com/

Thursday, May 22 @ Kristine Meldrum Denholm
The Opposite of Everything makes a blog stop with Kristine Meldrum Denholm today and is offered as a giveaway to readers who also will hear from David Kalish as he shares his struggle with the writing process.
http://www.kristinemeldrumdenholm.com/

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

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

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

Enter to win a copy of The Opposite of Everything by David Kalish! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget next Tuesday, April 29th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck!

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

 

Finding A Writing Eggs-travaganza

When the Junior Halls were wee little tykes, they’d play Easter Egg Hunt.

All we needed were a handful of snap-apart plastic eggs and a couple baskets (or a sock, in a pinch). I’d stuff surprises in the eggs and hide them throughout the house. Then off those kids would scramble, keen on the hunt and eager to stuff their treats in their baskets (or socks).

To be honest, the treats might be the leftover jellybeans no one would eat. Or maybe the stickers from the dentist. But hey, they had fun. So I thought we’d have our own Easter fun today, eggs-cept I’ve stuffed the eggs with writing treats. And I promise they’ll be much better treats than what my kids used to get.

Ah…I see you’ve found the green egg. That’s morgueFile. I love this site that’s packed with free photos for you to use. And not only are the pictures free, but they also require no attribution. So if you need a photo and you’re not looking for something too specific (for example, I wanted a photo of Easter eggs for this post today and I was able to find plenty), then morgueFile is eggs-ceptionally sweet!

Oh! I think that’s the half blue, half pink egg in your hand. That’s all about naming your characters. If you check out “Tips for Writers” on BabyNames, you’ll find a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to finding the perfect moniker for your character, whether it be male, female, or even eight-armed aliens. You’ll also find a ton of name resources. Who knew choosing the right name for your character was such an integg-ral part of the story process? (Okay, put your hand down. It was a rhetorical question.)

Speaking of the story process, I believe you just picked up the swirly-colored egg! When I came across this mixture of science and fun at The Periodic Table of Storytelling, I laughed out loud. But after perusing the chart more closely, I found there was a molecule of story-telling truth across the board. And be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom where you’ll find the elements in action. If you like what you see, you can get a poster. Upon closer eggs-amination, I think this chart might be just what I need for writing inspiration!

Or maybe I need a bit of dialogue instruction. Quick! Grab that thrilling purple egg to your right! I wanted to exclaim, or shout, or maybe even bellow. But now that I’ve read about dialogue attributions over at The Kill Zone, I should probably keep my attributions simple and let my action do the talking. Fourteen suspense and thriller writers share their tips over there every day, so you’re bound to dig up even more egg-cellent writing treats.

Well, friends, I can’t seem to find any more eggs right now—plus there’s a HUGE chocolate egg with my name on it. But if you have anything eggs-tra to add, I’m all (cute, little bunny) ears!

~Cathy C. "Hoppy" Hall

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

 

Top 10 Writing Quotes by Famous Female Writers

I collect quotes from writers about writing because they inspire me. Sometimes a short sentence or fragment on writing is enough get my pen to paper (or my fingers to keyboard). Here’s a short list of inspiring quotes on writing by some of the western world’s most famous female writers. Enjoy!

10. A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. Virginia Woolf

9. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
9. I ask questions. I watch the world. And what I have discovered is that the parts of my fiction that people most tell me are 'unbelievable' are those that are most closely based on the real, those least diluted by my imagination. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

8. Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone. Amy Tan

7. For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest external horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives. Audre Lorde

6. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. Maya Angelou

5. If there’s a book you want to read, and it hasn't been written yet, you must write it. Toni Morrison

4. I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before delving [her] talent, [she] would be wise to develop a thick hide. Harper Lee

1. Margaret Atwood
3. Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he'd had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird. Anne Lamott

2. If you’re going to write a good book, you have to make mistakes and you have to not be so cautious all the time. Zadie Smith

1. Writing down a story is always a gesture of hope. Why? Because you are assuming there will be someone alive who will be interested in it and who will read it later in time. That’s a truly hopeful thing. Margaret Atwood

What are some of your favorite inspiring quotes on writing by female writers?

By: Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor

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Friday, April 18, 2014

 

Friday Speak Out!: On the Write Track

by Michelle Parker

I decided that after I retired from my day job I would write a novel. As you know, day jobs can take up all of the leftover time after everyday life. Thus the novel would wait . . . and wait . . . and wait, until three years ago when I got myself on the right track. Don’t wait as long as I did! Here’s what I’m doing to keep on track:

• I am a member of the Parker Writers Group. The group meets for two hours once a month at the Parker, Colorado library. Local authors provide advice and guidance in the form of mini workshops. However, the most important aspects of a regular writer’s group meeting are getting together with other writers to renew the enthusiasm you share and to remind yourself why you call yourself a writer!

 • I ride the RTD Light Rail. For those fortunate enough to live where there is an excellent public transportation system, you may find some writing time during your commute to your day job. Make writing a required activity each day, just like feeding the dog or brushing (and flossing) your teeth. The most important reasons to write daily are to keep your dream alive and the creativity flowing.
• I write even when I don’t feel like it. Writing can be like exercising. You don’t really want to go for that run or climb onto that stationary bike, but once you are five or ten minutes into it, you feel good about yourself. The most difficult step is the first one or two. Well, maybe the first twenty or thirty. The first few words (or sentences) might be tough, but just get them down and before you know it that good feeling will ignite you. You may have to backspace over those first few sentences, but there will be keepers, really good ones.
• I tell all my friends and family that I write. So many people know that I write, that I am frequently asked, “So, how’s that book coming?” Make a commitment to your friends and you’ll finish your novel. Trust me! They will keep asking you when they can read your book!

In a year I will retire from my day job and begin writing full-time. Until then, my trusty laptop and I make our daily commute to downtown Denver. Share how you find the time and/or what you do to keep your commitment to write every day.

* * *
Michelle E. Parker grew up in Santa Barbara, California, where the story in her first novel, More Than Thoughts, takes place. She currently makes her home in Parker, Colorado with her husband, John, and their Boxer dog, Otis Campbell Parker. 

You can visit her website at www.FictionbyMichelle.com.


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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

 

Navigating Road Blocks - I Need Your Help!

Here it is, my turn again to write for the Muffin. These Muffin days are seriously my favorite days of the month. I hope you look forward to them as much as I do. The best part is the feedback and conversation from each of you - the readers! Since Easter is right around the corner, I was hoping to come up with something profound that might tie in with an Easter theme. Then I reminded myself not everyone celebrates Easter. I talked myself into a spring theme and talked myself right out of that one too…I think the snow outside was the determining factor in throwing that idea in the trash. It’s April in Wisconsin and I’m still sending children off to school with snow pants, hats, and mittens…I’d tell you what I think of that but the expletives are inappropriate.

Organization? Motivation? Determination? Time Management? My mind has been reeling about what to write. Another book review? Author interview? I talked myself in and out of so many titles and topics it is ridiculous. Truth be told, I do this to myself every time I sit down to write. I have an internal conversation about whether I should write a post for my blog, work on my book, read a book, review the work of others for my writing club, and the list goes on and on. Most days I talk myself out of writing and I scrub the floor, wash diapers, or fold laundry. The more I thought about this I realized I had found my topic. Unfortunately, my topic isn’t really profound at all, but hopefully will inspire some great conversation from you – my friends! (I'm sure you've noticed many of my road blocks in the two paragraphs you've already read...)

Here goes the great big question: WHAT IS STANDING IN YOUR WAY?

If you’re anything like me, YOU are standing in your way. That little voice in your head is telling you:
• That idea isn’t good enough
• No one is going to read that
• Don’t you have better things to do
• Your effort could be spent better elsewhere

Those are my road blocks, but I’ve heard some others as well:
• I want to go over this one more time before I send a query
• My book hasn’t been well received, I’ll ditch the idea
• I can’t stand one more rejection

And the follow up question: HOW DO YOU GET AROUND THOSE ROAD BLOCKS?

Here’s where I want to hear from you...
• Do you have an accountability partner helping you stay focused?
• Do you have a cheerleader reminding you about your goal?
• How do you get around your road blocks?

Crystal is a mother, church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, three young children (Carmen 7, Andre 5, Breccan 6 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, and over 200 Holsteins. You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

 

Are Your Writing and Marketing Efforts Really Productive? (Two Productivity Strategies to Keep You Moving Forward)

by Karen Cioffi

Sometimes the moons and stars align and information that is relevant to your life bombards your week, directing you onto paths you should take.

Well, this happened to me.

Time management is one of my ongoing struggles, as with probably most of you reading this. So, what do you do? How do you create more hours in the day? How do you accomplish all the writing and marketing tasks you must, aside from keeping up with everything else in your life?

Ah, the $25,000 question.

Productivity Strategy Number One – Keep a List and Stick to It


I found a great site (JamesWedmore.com) that offers some very useful content. Interestingly, the post I read on this site pertained to being productive. This was the fourth article I came across within a few days dealing with time management, prioritizing, and productivity.

Part of the content discussed a $25,000 lesson by public relations and efficiency expert Ivy Ledbetter Lee.

The story (true story, just not sure of the exact account) goes that Charles Schwab, steel magnate, wanted to increase his company’s efficiency, so he contacted Lee. Lee requested 15 minutes with each of Schwab’s managers. Schwab asked how much would it cost. Lee told him that after three months, if he saw productivity improvement he could send Lee whatever he thought the training was worth. Three months later, Schwab sent Lee a $25,000 check. This was back around 100 years ago.

So, the $25,000 lesson?

It’s reported that Lee said to write a list of six must-do items that each manager needed to accomplish the next day, in order of importance. Whatever wasn’t completed that day would go over onto the next day’s list of six must-do items.

According to QuotationsBook.com, Lee instructed:

Write down the most important things you have to do tomorrow. Now, number them in the order of their true importance. The first thing tomorrow morning, start working on an item Number 1, and stay with it until completed. Then take item Number 2 the same way. Then Number 3, and so on. Don't worry if you don't complete everything on the schedule. At least you will have completed the most important projects before getting to the less important ones. 

Pretty simple, right?

Simple and powerful. Having a list of what you need to do gives you focus and that focus helps clear your mind, which in turn boosts productivity, allowing you to get the job done.

One thing James Wedmore said that I thought is also a good idea is to have a “brain dump” folder or notebook. If something pops into your head that you don’t want to forget, put it in the ‘brain dump file.’ This too helps keep your mind clear of clutter.

I call my ‘brain dump file’ My To Do List. If anything pops into my head, I open the file and type it in, leaving my mind free of the worry of remembering it.

Productivity Strategy Number Two – Meditate

If you make time for meditation, you’ll have more time. I read this or something like it recently, but forgot where or by who (if you know the author, please let me know, so I can give attribution). A case in point of information overload. 

But, how can you have more time if you take time out of your already hectic day to meditate?

According to Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, the average person has 70,000 thoughts per day. Since there are 1,440 minutes in a day and 86,400 seconds, this means you’re having thoughts almost every second of every day. Is it any wonder many of us have trouble focusing?

Meditation is another mind clearing tool that allows the brain to take a breather. It helps create a calmer you, thus leading to a more focused and productive you.

My acupuncturist, who was a neurologist in China and has been practicing Chinese medicine for over 35 years, says that the number one thing you can do for your health is to meditate.

Give it a Shot – Incorporate These Two Strategies into Your Writing and Marketing Work Week

Every Sunday, make a list of the top six must-do items for Monday. Don’t just breeze through your list of to-dos, take the time to think whether a particular item is REALLY needed. Will it move your goals forward? Will it earn you money?

At the bottom of your to-do list for each day, add: TAKE 15-30 MINUTES TO MEDITATE.

Do this for 90 days, as Lee instructed, and see what happens. Then let us know – leave a comment!

***

Karen Cioffi  is a multi-award-winning author, ghostwriter, freelance writer, editor, and author-writer online platform marketing instructor. She founded and manages Writers on the Move (a marketing group), and presents online writing and marketing workshops and webinars.

Karen has published 12 writing and marketing eBooks, the most recent, Article Marketing: Increase Website Traffic with Properly Formatted and Search Engine Optimized Content.

*** Join Karen's class, CREATE AND BUILD YOUR AUTHOR-WRITER ONLINE PLATFORM: Website Creation to Beyond Book/Product Sales, next starting on Monday, May 5, 2014. For information and registration, visit our classroom page. ***


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

 

Jayne Martin, First Place Winner in Fall 2013 Flash Fiction Contest

Please welcome Jayne Martin to the blog today. She won first place in our Fall 2013 Flash Fiction Contest with her story, “The Heart of Town.” We’ll have a brief chat with her about her story, her writing habits and more. Read on!

Jayne is a TV-movie writer whose credits include “Big Spender” for Animal Planet and “A Child Too Many,” “Cradle of Conspiracy” and “Deceived By Trust” for Lifetime. She lives in Santa Ynez, California, where she rides horses, consumes copious amounts of great local wines and shares her view of the world on her blog, “injaynesworld - where nothing is sacred” Her book of humor essays, Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry, is available in paperback and digital formats through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your first place win! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Jayne: It’s a fabulous contest with great judges and very generous prize money. This was actually the fourth time I entered. The first time was a couple of years ago and I didn’t place at all. The next time, I made it to the top 20. Last spring, I reached the top 10. The biggest component of success in any endeavor is persistence and it paid off because this time I won.

WOW:  That's very inspiring how you moved up the ladder every time you entered. Persistence can pay off! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind “The Heart of Town?”

Jayne: It originated as a response to the prompt “flowers” on the Five Sentence Fiction website and was published in that abbreviated version on my blog, injaynesworld. The response was so positive with readers asking for more, so I developed it further into the version you see now. The voice and tone of the piece came to life all on its own. It was a story that wanted to be told and wanted to be told in its own way. That’s always a delightful surprise, rare as it is.

WOW:  How did you craft your winning flash fiction story? Did you have to edit much to get to the final version?

Jayne: As you can see from the previous answer, it started small and grew to the version it is now, but of course there is always editing. This piece was unusual for me in that it could be a children’s story, something I never intended when I started the piece, having never even attempted to write for children. I was a little unsure of what I had, but it seems to have an appeal to a range of ages, so we’ll see where it goes from here. It was fun to write anyway.

WOW:  We’d also love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Jayne: I usually write first thing in the morning from about 7:30 a.m. through noon, depending on what I’m working on. Afternoons or evenings are good times for editing, but the creative stuff needs to happen before my brain gets too caught up in the day’s demands. I live in a tiny cottage high on a hilltop in the air space of eagles and my desk looks out onto a sweeping view of a beautiful, rural valley. Far from inspiring me though, it’s often a distraction as I find myself staring into space and mulling over philosophical thoughts much of the time, and yet I must have quiet and solitude. How I envy those writers who can set up shop with their laptop at a Starbucks. It just looks so terribly cool.

WOW:  I know what you mean about writing in coffee shops. It seems like a fun idea but it can be challenging sometimes. Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Jayne! Before you go, can you share your favorite writing tip or advice with our readers?

Jayne: Jennifer Egan (“A Visit from the Goon Squad”) stated it best: Read at the level that you want to write. We learn through osmosis. I know I’m highly influenced by whatever I’m reading, so I try to challenge myself to “read above my grade level.” Whatever your genre, read the very best authors who are writing that genre. Then read the very best authors in every other genre. The whole point here is to nourish our minds as we nourish our bodies, with the highest quality of creative nutrients that we possibly can. In other words: Good stuff in; good stuff out.

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Our Spring 2014 Flash Fiction Contest is OPEN
For information, click here.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

 

Book Review and Giveaway for Caught Between Two Curses, by Margo L. Dill

Today is a very exciting day here at the Muffin, as we are featuring an interview and giveaway with WOW’s very own Margo Dill, author of the recently released YA novel Caught Between Two Curses. Read on as we chat with Margo about the inspiration for the novel, advice on writing for children and teens, and for a review of the book. Plus, enter to win your very own copy at the bottom of this post!

Synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Julie Nigelson is cursed. So is her entire family. And it's not just any-old-regular curse, either-it's strangely connected to the famous "Curse of the Billy Goat" on the Chicago Cubs. Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time. Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family's future, and her own love life-and time is running out!

Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Rocking Horse Publishing (March 18, 2014)
ISBN: 0991069560
ISBN-13: 978-0991069569



You can find Caught Between Two Curses at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and IndieBound, or your local bookstore.

About the author:
Margo L. Dill is a children's author, freelance editor, and workshop leader living in St. Louis, Missouri. She is also the author of the historical fiction middle-grade novel, Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg (White Mane Kids, 2012) and the forthcoming picture books, Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire and the Case of the Missing Cookies, and Lucy and the Red Ribbon Week Adventure. Caught Between Two Curses is her first young adult novel. She promises that she is a Cardinals' fan at heart, but the Billy Goat curse on the Chicago Cubs is too irresistible for a plot line.

Website: http://margodill.com/blog/

Lit Ladies Blog: http://www.thelitladies.com

WOW: Welcome, Margo! First of all, congratulations on the publication of your new book! Caught Between Two Curses truly has something for every young adult reader, whether they love baseball or not! How did you get the idea for this book? Did you always plan to use the real Chicago Cubs "Curse of the Billy Goat" as one of the storylines, or did that come later?

Margo: Honestly--it was Steve Bartman in 2003, when he interfered with the ball at a Chicago Cubs playoff game, and everyone flipped out. It was all over the news. I got to thinking--what if the curse affected Bartman's brain that day and made him react? Then there was also a news story about a little girl who had survived a car crash when her parents had died. That got me thinking about why some people survive and why others don't. Is it true some people still have things left to do on earth, and this is why they survive? These were both interesting questions to me. I have no answers, of course, but these thoughts are why the book was born.

At first, I was going to make up a baseball team, but then I decided it would be much more fun to just use the Chicago Cubs!

WOW: I always love hearing the inspiration behind books. Which character in this book was the most fun to write and why?

Margo: That's a really hard question. I love JULIE--I tried to make her unique for a teen main character, in that she's pretty popular, but nice and likeable and full of flaws. I also hope I made her funny. But GRANDMA is a hoot to write, and Matt is every girl's dream--cute, nice, funny, and popular. So, it's a toss up.

WOW: I can see how Grandma was very fun to write--she was one of my favorite characters in the book, too!  I know you work with a critique group on a lot of your books. In what way was that group instrumental during the revision process for Caught Between Two Curses?

Margo: Well, if you look at the acknowledgement section of my book, you will see this book went through four critique groups because I moved so many times! My last two groups read the whole thing, and just gave great advice. They watched for consistency in my characters, if the plot was moving along, if the events were believable, and if I kept my voice or not. The Lit Ladies, my current critique group, suggested I take out almost the entire beginning (I had Julie appearing on a talk show, like Oprah), and I didn't want to. But when I did, I realized THEY WERE RIGHT. It was completely getting in the way of the story. But who knows? That show may come back in another novel.

WOW: I think your story about your critique group helps illustrate the point that while it's a scary prospect, beta readers are so necessary for every writer! What are some tips you can give our readers on writing for children and teens?

Margo: Read, read, read what is currently out on the market. If all you remember reading are the Newberry books from when you were a kid or the My Little Golden Books or even Nancy Drew mysteries, go to the library, talk to a librarian, and read some current books. Study them--how do authors get their characters across? What role do adults play? What topics are covered? Dialogue can be especially tricky. I also think you should join SCBWI. I get no cutbacks from this organization, but it is the best professional organization for beginning and published children's writers. It has resources and connections that you can't even imagine for about $8 a month! You are automatically connected with every other SCBWI member in your state for no additional charge, and all states host their own workshops and conferences for writers--some are even FREE!

WOW: I agree with the SCBWI recommendation. It's very worth it. What's up next? Do you have any other books in the works right now? Can you share any details with us?

Margo: I do! I have a humorous middle-grade mystery novel that I need to be sending out there. It's done. I also am working on another YA novel about a community shooting--the story is about two teenagers and what happens in their lives AFTER one of their dad's shoots the other dad in a multiple homicide. It's much more serious than what I usually write! Finally, I am brainstorming ideas for a second curses book--this would have a character from my first book and a new curse--maybe the curse on James Dean's car. . .

Book Review of Caught Between Two Curses 

By Renee Roberson

I’ll be the first to admit that we don’t watch a whole lot of baseball in our house. Actually, college basketball is really the only thing that has my family shouting at the television screen, so when I found out one of the curses in Dill’s book involved baseball, I worried it would keep me from fully understanding the story. Because I always like to be prepared, I researched the infamous Billy Goat curse before I turned the first page and found it very intriguing!

Any worries I had about the baseball aspect of the storyline quickly disappeared once I started reading Caught Between Two Curses. The main character in the story, Julie, admits in the novel that even she isn’t a huge fan of watching the Chicago Cubs play, but tolerates it for the most part because her family loves the team so much. Because of this, it makes perfect sense that she ends up being the one burdened with the responsibility for breaking the hold the two curses have over her family, the Billy Goat curse and the curse that threatens the lives of all the men on her maternal grandmother’s side.

From the opening pages of the book, where Julie fights with her boyfriend over whether or not she is ready to have sex, to the realization that a mysterious curse has plagued her family for decades, the novel takes off at a fast pace, keeping the reader turning page after page. There is a great cast of witty and zany characters in this book, from Julie’s adorable and loyal best friend Matt to her charming cad of a boyfriend, Gus. Julie’s grandmother, with her colorful head scarves, jangly bracelets, gazillion cats and uncanny sixth sense, is also well-written, and I found myself looking forward to every scene that featured her. Throughout the book, Julie is torn between trying to figure out her confusing love life to how she can possibly break the curse over her family that now threatens the life of her beloved Uncle Henri.

Baseball, and all the things that naturally go along with it, such as bratwursts, foam fingers, junk food, soda, and sitting in the crowded stands with hundreds of thousands of other fans makes for a great YA novel backdrop. Caught Between Two Curses is the perfect summertime read, with romance, adventure, and more than a little magic.


***** BOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST *****

We also have an autographed copy of Caught Between Two Curses by Margo Dill to give away to one lucky reader! Just enter the Rafflecopter form below to be entered in the drawing.

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Good luck!

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