Sometimes, a change in perspective can make a world of difference.
A few days ago, our Friday Speak Out blogger wrote a post about coming to terms with letting go of a writing project or novel. I did a double take when I first saw the title of the piece, “Letting Go,” because I could completely relate. For the past year, I’ve battled conflicting feelings about an editorial contract position I held with a local magazine.
Without getting into all the details, over the course of three years, the advertising revenue for the magazine sank to an all-time low, and each issue found me scrambling to fill holes with relevant local content, much of which I had to write myself. I was only paid a set amount each issue, regardless of how much extra copy I had to proof and write. I also never received an increase in pay. Even though the magazine was only produced every other month, which theoretically should have given me plenty of time to work on other projects, I would find myself so mentally exhausted after each issue that I couldn’t write creatively for weeks. The novels I’ve been trying to get ready for submission have languished on my hard drive, leaving me unhappier than ever.
I’ve always heard the advice from other freelancers that if you find yourself working with a client that is keeping you from being your most productive and causing you emotional and financial distress, you should find a replacement gig and move on. For the past year, I’ve known I should do just that, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Why? I guess part of it was the lure of those six paychecks each year. I also didn’t want to break out of my comfort zone and routine, as taxing as it had become.
A few weeks ago, I came to a crossroads. After getting ready to put together the next issue of the magazine, I was told that the revenue was too low for us to print. The articles I had hired out would not be published, nor would any of the content I had already put together. But the magazine still hadn’t made the final decision whether or not to cease publishing altogether.
After several days, I knew I had to resign from my position, as disheartening as it was. The stress became too much to bear, and I had lost all my enthusiasm for the job I once loved. In many cases, I believe we need to walk away from something before we can flourish. I wallowed for about a week, but now I’m moving on. I’m excited about the chance to flesh out several article and essay ideas I’ve had brewing for awhile, and my novels are finally going to get the revision they need and deserve.
Have you ever found yourself having to walk away from a freelance assignment or contract? I’d love to hear about your experiences and how you handled them.
Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer, mother of two children, and Blog Tour Manager for WOW! Women on Writing. Visit her website at www.finishedpages.com.
What stories do you think they're writing in their dreams?
I hope you find the title as amusing as I do. Maybe it’s my sleep deprived self or the countless Dr. Seuss books I am asked to read each day, but I wanted to talk about where inspiration comes from, and this title just seemed too cute to pass up.
I am blessed with a job allowing me to interview, chat with, and get to know many talented writers. One of those writers is Mari McCarthy of Create Write Now. Mari recently asked me how my own writing is going. I was ashamed to tell her I haven’t been making time. With four young children and a business, I am just thankful to sleep most days. After responding to Mari, I told my husband “I need to make more time to write” and he pointed out I haven’t been journaling either. Some of my best short story ideas came as a result of journaling. When diligent about it, I would write in my journal before even hopping out of bed in the morning. I would try to recall my dreams and get them down on paper before they slipped away and I got busy with the day.
As my current husband and I chatted about time management and how busy things have been, he turned to me with a smirk and said “you haven’t killed your ex-husband lately either, I’m sure he misses reading those stories”. So, before I ask you to share your best dream inspired stories, or tell us where your story lines come from, I’ll share a cute story about how my dreams killed my ex.
I woke up quite disturbed and before drinking my coffee, I had to text Ben (my ex who is still a friend). I had a dream he had died and I was summoned by customs to leave the country and identify his body. The dream was so incredibly real I just had to know if he was okay. He responded to my text with a phone call; we laughed and I told him the entirety of the dream. He encouraged me to turn it into a short story on my blog…which I did…readers loved it, and we still get a good laugh about the situation.
Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 8, Andre 7, Breccan 20 months, and Delphine 12 weeks), 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/
I had the slogan NO QUITTING pinned to the bulletin board near my desk. Each time I was tempted to give up on my novel, I would glance at the bulletin board and tell myself I was not a quitter. I could never abandoned the characters I created and that I’d grown to know and love, Genevieve and Darcy and all the others I birthed in my yet-unfinished manuscript. I must continue. I didn’t want to feel like a failure, to have wasted all those hours at the keyboard for nothing. How would I tell well-meaning friends who regularly asked about my novel that I, gasp, quit?
Letting go whether it be a job, a relationship or a story I’ve written, is a struggle for me. When it comes to objects, no problem. I donate clothes and other things to my local Humane Society thrift shop with ease. I’ll never be on a hoarder reality show. Yet, when it comes to people, I avoid saying goodbye. My loyalty may look commendable, but often it is fear holding me back from saying adios to that worn out friendship or stale job.
The same with my novel which I’ve labored on for more than seven years, hours spent writing and editing as well as priceless help revising from writer friends. I wrote 75,000 words, and find myself wanting to call it quits.
I revised the first chapters so many times that I am confused about my original intention. I committed the mistake writing instructors warned me against. I revised the beginning chapters before I finished the entire manuscript. For some writers revising while writing is fine, but not me. I should have just plowed through the entire story.
Ah well, it’s too late now to lament how I fouled up my writing process. I tell myself it wasn’t wasted time. I was writing and not dusting or cleaning the fridge I was practicing.
Last week while in Costa Rica I discovered not just the rainforest and monkeys, but a new idea for a novel I want to write. Those are the key words. I want to write. I don’t want to write my old novel anymore. There I said it. I confess. Now what?
I feel guilty. A quitter. I feel like a married woman with a new lover, obligated to my novel but wanting to start afresh. I worry, too, that I am untrustworthy and fickle. I’m able to discard a novel I’ve loved for the promise of the new.
To help myself let go, I tell myself I can revisit my novel someday. I grew as a writer even if the novel was never published. I apologized to my characters. I have to move on. There’s a new story calling me. I’m learning the four letter word quit doesn’t mean I’m a failure. Not when I am replacing it with another four letter word. True. I must be true to myself. And my writing.
* * *
Susanne Brent is a freelance writer who worked for several years as a newspaper reporter. She has had her news articles, short stories and essays published in various publications including Cup of Comfort for Christmas and Matter of Choice -- Twenty Five People who Transformed their Lives. Her blog is writerwaitress.blogspot.com
Would you like to participate inFriday "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!
I had lunch with a writer friend this week; she had an ARC of her soon-to-be-released romance novel and at long last, I’d get to read the whole thing. But she wasn’t so much happy for me as she was…well, a bit apologetic.
Honestly, if I hadn’t won the ARC, I’d probably still be waiting around, wondering about her book. When in truth, all she had to do was ask.
Why do we do that? That is, why do writers—not all, of course, but a great many of us—find it so difficult to solicit support from the very people who likely understand us the most? Why do we balk at asking our personal writer friends for help? At giving a review? Or allowing us to write a guest blog post?
In talking to my friend (and really, it was quite a long lunch) I had time to hear all of her excuses. Maybe you’ve heard the same excuses:
But you don’t really like (fill in the blank with appropriate genre).
Okay, maybe I wouldn’t pick up a vampire western or a robot romance or a fairy fantasy. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate good plotting in an Old West romp, or finely-drawn fairy characters. And that’s exactly what I’ll write about—and enjoy—in whatever you’ve written. So give me a push about your book—and let me be the judge of the writing.
But what if the book really stinks.
I suppose it’s a possibility that your book could stink. Then again, I’ve read plenty of books, written by Very Famous Authors, that weren’t so hot, in my humble opinion. But those Very Famous Authors are not my personal friends, and they don't need my help. So even if your book stinks, I’ll like it well enough to say something nice because that's what friends do.
But I know you’re busy and I really hate to bother you…
Yep, I’m busy. And I may not be able to read your book tomorrow. It may be even longer before I get that review posted. And if you have to send me a nice email reminder, I’ll be fine with a nudge. Because I know you’d do whatever you could to support me in my writing journey.
I’m not unique in the writing world. I bet your writer friends are just like me—thrilled for your success and willing to lend you support. But you have to, you know, reach out a bit (or send an ARC, or an email, or a pdf of the book).
So no more excuses, writers. Ask (your friends) and you shall receive.
Just Back Off and Let Us Teach by Caroline Lewis Book Review and Giveaway
Posted by Renee Roberson at 2:30 AM
If America wants to reform public education and regain its status in the world, it must start valuing teachers and stop the present policy of commissioning study after study and revising measurement tests every few years. That assertion is made by author Caroline Lewis, who outlines reform in her new book Just Back Off and Let Us Teach: A Book for Effective Teachers and Those Who Champion Them. Both descriptive and motivational, Lewis' book defines five skills distinctive of effective teachers called SCOPE (Sensitivity, Communication, Organization, Professionalism, and Enthusiasm) Skills. Lewis encourages all teachers to self-examine and grade themselves on their own effectiveness using SCOPE Scores.
"The single most important thing we can do in America today," says Lewis, "is to take the money we spend on education reforms at the federal level and invest it in school leadership and teachers' salaries and professional development. This will help attract the brightest young minds to the teaching profession, keep effective teachers in the classroom, and properly reward those who have the greatest influence on our future."
Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Just Back Off and Let Us Teach, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Tuesday, June 2 at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!
About Caroline Lewis:
After spending 22 years as a science teacher and school principal, Caroline Lewis became director of education for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and developed the award-winning Fairchild Challenge to engage students in environmental issues. As founder and CEO of The CLEO Institute, she applies her educational leadership skills to promote solution-oriented approaches to address climate disruptions. A native of Trinidad, she earned an MS in Educational Leadership in 1999 and is committed to elevating and celebrating the teaching profession.
*****Book Review: Just Back Off and Let Us Teach*****
Review by Renee Roberson
Not many can dispute that our country’s educational system is broken. Type in the search term “education reform” and you’ll find educational leaders and activists across the country devoted to repairing the broken system—all with different solutions. Author and educator Caroline Lewis also tackles this topic in her book Just Back Off and Let Us Teach: A Book for Effective Teachers and Those Who Champion Them, but instead of focusing on problems within education as a whole, she zeroes in on the people who have the ability to shine despite those cracks in the educational system—the teachers. As she writes in the introduction to her book, Lewis is well aware of “the role of poverty, school climate, school leadership, student motivation, parental involvement . . . but effective teaching remains an important component.”
Throughout the book, Lewis discusses the concept of how effective teachers can progress to become “superteachers,” and earn their imaginary superhero capes along the way. She knows teaching is a noble profession, and believes teachers should consider themselves “works-in-progress" who should continually strive to learn and grow. In her experience as an educator and administrator, Lewis has put together a list of five defining characteristics of effective teaching (note that these characteristics did not include student performance). These SCOPE skills include: Sensitivity, Communication, Organization, Professionalism, and Enthusiasm. Teachers who read this book can take a preliminary SCOPE assessment to help determine areas of improvement. The author’s genuine love of teaching and the field of education is evident throughout this book, as she gently but firmly guides teachers through these characteristics, gives examples, and offers solutions on how to keep students engaged in a love of learning, no matter what the subject.
Lewis is realistic however, and understands that teachers do “burn out,” or simply don't have the stamina and enthusiasm for teaching, causing them to fall back on less imaginative teaching practices, which do a disservice to both the teacher and the students. In this case, she’s not opposed to advising educators who have lost their zest for teaching to develop an “exit strategy” before it’s too late. In her writing, it’s clear Lewis has students’ best interests at heart, and teachers will come away from this book with a renewed vigor and passion for teaching, and numerous ways to do so.
Thursday, May 28 @ My Final Forty Days
Educator Caroline Lewis answers the question "What is the major reason good teachers are declining?" in this guest post at M. Shannon Hernandez's blog. http://www.myfinal40days.com/
Thursday, June 4 @ All Things Audry
What is the Finland model for education and what is Finland doing that other countries are not? Caroline Lewis offers an explanation in this guest post. http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com
Interview with Peggy Rosen, Fall 2014 Flash Fiction Runner Up
Posted by Renee Roberson at 4:30 AM
Peggy Rosen’s plan to be a writer was declared early--in the “I want to be...” line of her eighth-grade yearbook. Many years and career twists later, with a BSN in Nursing and a Master’s Degree in Health Education, she frequently puts pen to paper in a professional capacity as Director of Quality for a rural community health center. Outside of her workplace prose, Peggy has crafted press releases for local organizations and contributed non-fiction feature articles to several regional magazine publications, including Heart of New Hampshire Magazine, Natural New England, and NH TODO Magazine. She is also at work on more than one Young Adult novel. Soon to be an “empty-nester” in New Hampshire, with two sons away at college, she expects to have more time to hike, ski, and mountain bike with her husband and to continue fulfilling her early writing intentions.
WOW: Congratulations, Peggy! From your bio, we can tell you are a very busy (and productive!) writer, as you do a lot of writing in both a professional and creative capacity. Do you have a favorite type of writing as far as non-fiction articles, essays, flash fiction, full-length novels, etc?
Peggy: While I enjoy weaving facts and information together to create interesting non-fiction pieces that result in my learning something new, the challenge of telling a compelling story in a very short word count has hooked me into flash fiction. However, full-length novels present the opposite challenge--going the distance with character, plot, setting, dialogue, and all the other components of the writer's craft.
WOW: You mention that you are working on "more than one YA novel." Can you share some more details with us?
Peggy: I currently have two novels in the works. The first is a contemporary YA story featuring a female high school hockey player with a temper that lands her in hot water on and off the ice. Her tough-girl exterior hides an ache in her heart. When she encounters a secret that threatens to destroy her team and her relationships, she must decide which part of herself she needs most to lead to the ultimate win. The second is also set in present day, but a 200-year-old manor house is central to the story. Influenced by the novels of Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Victoria Holt, it has the flavor of a gothic suspense romance, updated with a paranormal twist.
WOW:You had me at gothic suspense romance. Best of luck with both of those novels! Since you work full-time, how do you carve out time to work on your writing projects?
Peggy: I script a great deal of my work in my head first. A lot of my best ideas seem to emerge during exercise walks around the neighborhood, on a trail in the woods, or on the treadmill at home. To take advantage of that creative time, I use a note-taking app on my mobile phone to capture those thoughts as a word or phrase. Then I do the actual writing and revising on the weekends, when I'm less distracted by my full-time job.
WOW: Your entry, "Choice on Kissing Bridge," is full of emotion, earnest characters, and sensory details. What inspired you to write this particular story?
Peggy: In horse-and-buggy days, covered bridges were often referred to as "kissing bridges", or "courting bridges." The enclosed space afforded couples an opportunity to exchange an unobserved kiss or endearment. I live close to Blair Bridge in New Hampshire, a wooden covered bridge that was constructed in 1869 and is over 290 feet long. It is a major thoroughfare and is used extensively. I drive through it at least twice a day, and often more than that. If you are a romantic like I am, you can't help imagining, as you slowly pass underneath the timber arches and through the shadows cast along its interior, what emotional scenes must have taken place along the worn planks. "Choice On Kissing Bridge" is the result of one of my imaginings.
WOW: What advice do you have for writers looking to break into writing for regional magazines?
Peggy: I want to share three things:
1. Many regional magazines will have "Dining Out" or "Where To Stay" columns. These can be a way to break in, as they are shorter than a feature article and lend themselves to a casual tone and first-person point-of-view. They can be a good introduction of your work to an editor.
2. Editors will often have a list of topics that they want to cover in the future. They will maintain an email distribution list of writers, generally people who have contributed to their publication in the past, and send out an email request for volunteers to write on topics for a specific issue. It is worth contacting an editor to see if they maintain such a list and ask that your name and contact information be added. Offer to send a writing sample, as an additional writing introduction.
3. The general rule of "Do your homework" applies here. Examine the publication for the type of feature articles they publish, the magazine's tone and focus, and filler material they use. Find a unique angle on a familiar regional item or issue and pitch it. A busy editor with a monthly publication sometimes needs to squeeze a lot of material out of a limited geographical area. I have always felt that, as a contributor, my job was to make the editor's job easier. It can help you to keep that in mind as you develop your story idea.
WOW: Thank you so much for all this great advice, Peggy, and again, thank you for entering the contest!
Michelle Dim-St. Pierre Launches her tour for Pinnacle Lust
Posted by Jodi Webb at 12:30 AM
It seemed like the right thing at the time...how many times have you looked back on a decision in your life and thought those words? Everything from the hair style that turned into a disaster to the choice to move halfway across the country for a new job you ended up hating to your brief flirtation with the raw food diet. We plunge into our new decision convinced that everything will work out for the best. Because that's what we want to believe will happen, what we talk ourselves into to, what our childhood fairy tales promised us. Our life will be a happily ever after.
Pinnacle Lust by Michelle Dim-St. Pierre is the story of what happens when there isn't a happily ever after. In a Tel-Aviv hospital during Operation Desert Storm, Sharon Lapidot, a beautiful young nurse, is having an affair with a married doctor. Sharon's colorful and exciting life is ultimately destroyed by powerful and eroding mistakes. But her courage and wisdom lead her to an unregretful commitment. Vividly told, this compelling journey of love and lust, honor and betrayal, loss and redemption, will move you--and perhaps even change you.
Pinnacle Lust is a perfect balance of romance and drama--a great addition to your summer reading list or as a selection for your book club. It invites some spirited discussions on the choices people make and just who is the "villian" in Pinnacle Lust.
Hardcover: 368 pages (also available in paperback and e-format) Publisher: BookLogix (2015) ISBN-10: 1610055721 ISBN-13: 978-1610055727
Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Pinnacle Lust, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, May 29 at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!
About the Author:
Michelle Dim-St. Pierre was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel, where she spent more than half of her life before relocating to the United States. She lived through four wars and served in the Israel Defense Forces for two years. Unlike her first year of service in an armored division in the Golan Heights, she spent her second year serving in the medical corps where she interacted directly with the injured soldiers of the Peace of Galilee war and their families. This interaction, along with the exposure to the hospital atmosphere, fascinated Michelle and further touched her heart.
After graduating from nursing school with a BS in Nursing in Tel-Aviv, she practiced internationally for 32 years in various positions in the surgical field and quickly advanced into health care administration. During her career she worked in the Operating Room, Recovery Room, and CCU—along with many other duties.
Writing was Michelle’s outlet at first, but it soon became her passion. Recently she left nursing and became a full-time writer. Her international background, along with her military and nursing experience is always at the tip of her pen. Her first novel, Pinnacle Lust, starts the Pinnacle trilogy.
Michelle is a world traveler who enjoys cooking epicurean food and creating original recipes.
Find out more about the author by visiting her online:
WOW:You spent over three decades in the nursing profession. How did writing fit into that? Have you always been a writer or was it recent development?
Michelle: Writing was first a hobby and finally turned into something more. The truth of the matter is that my profession triggered my fiction writing. During my career as a nurse, there were things that I heard, saw and knew but couldn’t share. As I needed an outlet, I started writing and called it fiction.
WOW: Did you jump right into writing a novel or did you start out with short stories, a journal, or essays?
Michelle: My novel, Pinnacle Lust, is the first work of fiction I ventured into. Again, in the beginning, it was not meant to be a published novel—it was more of an outlet at the time.
WOW: When did you decide to take your hobby of writing to the next level and decide to pursue publication?
Michelle: The first step was when I sent my manuscript for review by two professionals. Both said that I had a very good plot, and that they would love to edit it. The real deal, or the final push, was when Sherry Wilson, my editor sent me an e-mail saying, “You have a good book in your hands. I think you should publish it.”
WOW: So many people with rich professional lives who begin writing find that it has an autobiographical element to it. Did you find that was the case with your writing?
Michelle: I believe that any work of fiction carries pieces from the author’s life. Pinnacle Lust is not an autobiography, but it is fair to say that some of my personal experiences inspired my writing. Whether I witnessed these events or was part of them, I can’t tell…:) I believe that every minute of my life is another brush stroke to my writing—military service, nursing school, work, social, news, gossip, and even the grocery store—you name it.
WOW: How did you navigate the writing world? Did you join a writing group, take classes, hire an editor? Do you have any tips for newcomers to the writing world?
Michelle: Navigating the writing world was a huge challenge, and in a way it still is. I hired an exceptional editor who took me through the process, and taught me the secrets and the craft of writing. I was fortunate enough to hire an editor that also teaches creative writing in the educational arena. With this being said, you can only imagine how much material and guidance I received. I hope to continue to learn more about the craft of writing and am planning to continue to work with Sherry on all my future projects. The best tip that I would give newcomers in the writing world is that an editor is a critical player—hire a good editor, don’t just give your work to a family member or a friend for editorial services…it may save you a little money but it may not produce the product you desire.
WOW: What was the most challenging part of writing Pinnacle Lust? The most rewarding?
Michelle: The most challenging part of writing Pinnacle Lust was to detach myself from the manuscript and to shorten it from its original word count of 140,000 to no more than 100,000. It was as if I had to cut the umbilical cord from my own baby. As far as the most rewarding part, I think holding the hardcover in my hands and becoming a published author was the most exciting moment. It was a long journey but well worth it.
WOW: What are you working on now?
Michelle: As Pinnacle Lust is the first in the Pinnacle Trilogy, I am now working on the next book in the series. I will soon announce its title, and include more information on my website and in my newsletter. I am also working on a unique cookbook, blogs and more surprises down the road. My newsletter, Pinnacle Insider, is a great source for my readers to follow my work. I welcome everyone to subscribe to my newsletter via my website at http://www.michelledimstpierre.com/newsletter.html.
Friday, May 28 @ All Things Audry
Can Writing Be a 9 to 5 Job? Find out from Michelle Dim-St. Pierre, author of the novel Pinnacle Lust. http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com
Monday, June 1 @ Vickie Miller
Author Michelle Dim-St. Pierre, an experienced traveler, shares why she believes everyone should visit another country. Don't miss a chance to win a copy of her romance-suspense Pinnacle Lust. http://www.vickiesmiller.com/
Wednesday, June 3 @ Renee’s Pages
How does a nurse become a novelist? Stop by for the story of Michelle Dim-St. Pierre, author of Pinnacle Lust. http://reneespages.blogspot.com/
I've been organizing WOW blog tours for six years! Can you believe it? Just this week an author sent me an email apologizing for sending multiple emails about an issue we were discussing concerning the promotion of her book. She was ",,,anxious with fitting all the pieces together." I didn't want an
apology, I wanted to hold her up as an example to authors everywhere.
Enthusiasm is an author's best friend. After all, if you -- the person who created it word by word -- aren't excited about your book, how can you expect complete strangers to get excited? Enthusiasm is also contagious. People will remember your excitement when describing your book to their friends and inject a bit of that into their descriptions when passing on the word about your book.
So after you finish your book move on to your next big challenge: enthusiasm 24/7. As an author (a successful author) you can never lose your enthusiasm. It doesn't matter if your talking to a Kirkus reviewer, a blogger with a following of 100 or your mailman. Pull out all the stops in telling them what you think is so great about your book. Don't focus on who you're talking to as much as who THEY might talk to. You don't know who (or who many people) they might tell. The elevator speech you honed to perfection for your last writer's conference is not just for people in the publishing industry. Dust it off and try working it into conversation with everyone you meet.
Don't let your enthusiasm end with just your person-to-person interactions. Let it spill over to your website. Instead of a static collection of information include fun activities, quizzes and information that will keep people coming back. The same with your presence on social media. Be the author people remember and they will remember (and hopefully read) your book.
Good luck and stay enthusiastic! Jodi Webb is a blog tour organizer for WOW-Women on Writing and would love to hear about your book and promotional needs at email@example.com. Right now she's looking for dates for a tour of Michelle Dim-St. Pierre's Pinnacle Lust and Barbara Barth's A Dog Dreams of Paris. She blogs about books at Words by Webb and Building Bookshelves.
As a book publicist I am here to inform you that yes, they absolutely do matter! In fact, one of my clients won the prestigious Los Angeles Book Festival award. That then led to a flurry of media interest, which subsequently led to a major New York agent deciding to represent the book and pitch it to all the major publishing houses. This author, needless to say, was happy he decided to enter.
Another client won several awards and was contacted by two movie producers about her Young Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy Fiction book.
Pursuing and winning book awards will give you another opportunity to reach out to the media, booksellers and agents. As a book publicist I see the media perk up when an author client has received an award. It’s the added credibility that gives them the assurance that the book is worthwhile. It takes the risk out of the equation for the producer or reporter if it’s an 'award winning' book.
Awards also create interest in your book, which can lead to more sales and other opportunities. A book award may cause someone to stop in their tracks and consider picking up your book in a book store. A book award can give you an edge and sometimes that’s all the difference you need to propel your book into bestseller territory. If you win you can say you are an “award winning author.” Doesn’t that sound better? Of course it does, and you get a little magic that comes from a third party endorsement because an authority says your work is worthy, and that’s priceless.
Most awards charge a fee to enter. Not all awards have a category for your genre and not all of these will work for every book.
Here’s a list of my Top 37 book awards worthy of your consideration. Keep in mind that links change all the time and contests come and go. Some links are for the previous year because that’s all that was available at the time of this writing, and some may have already expired, so consider making a note of them for next year.
4. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction boasts that the prize is the world's most important literary award. Entry Forms are due March 6 and Finished Books are due June 19. http://www.themanbookerprize.com/node/20
8. Strive to be nominated and win the Nobel Prize in literature. Who can nominate? Professors of literature and of linguistics at universities and university colleges to name a few. (Another reason it pays to keep the ties to your alma mater!) http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/nomination/
11. The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction has two deadlines: June 15, 2015 (for books published between January 1 and June 14), and a final deadline for all books published in 2015 on October 1: http://www.pulitzer.org/how_to_enter
13. The 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards, known as the “IPPY” Awards, were conceived as a broad-based, unaffiliated awards program open to all members of the independent publishing industry, and are open to authors and publishers worldwide who produce books written in English and intended for the North American market. http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipland/IPAwards.php
22. Here’s a service where you can enter several book festivals at the same time for about $50 per festival. This is absolutely the best idea. I’ve used this several times. One entry form, one payment, two books, ten plus book awards spread out over a year. http://bookfestivals.com/
23. The National Indie Excellence Book Awards competition selects award winners and finalists based on overall excellence of presentation in dozens of categories. Created especially for indie and self-published authors. http://www.indieexcellence.com
24. Have you written a business book? The Axiom Business Book Awards celebrate excellence in business book writing and publishing by presenting gold, silver and bronze medals in 20 business categories. http://www.axiomawards.com/
25. The non-profit Independent Book Publishers Association's Benjamin Franklin Awards are now in their 27th year of awarding excellence in book publishing in 55 categories. All entrants receive direct judge feedback--unique in the industry. For more information, visit: http://ibpabenjaminfranklinawards.com/
26. USA Best Book Awards has a ten year track record of honoring and promoting books to the national and international community. The contest is sponsored by USA Book News which covers books from all sections of the publishing industry—mainstream, independent, & self-published. http://www.usabooknews.com/2015usabestbookawards.html
27. Reader Views Annual Literary Awards were established to honor writers who self-publish or who were published by small presses or independent publishers. http://readerviews.com/literaryawards/
29. Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Whether you’re a professional writer, a part-time freelancer or a self-starting student, here’s your chance to enter the only self-published competition exclusively for self-published books. One winning entry will receive $8,000 with nine first-place winners who’ll receive $1,000 each. http://www.writersdigest.com/competitions/selfpublished
30. Readers’ Favorite Awards receives submissions from independent authors, small publishers, and publishing giants like HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, with contestants that range from the first-time, self-published author to New York Times best-selling authors. https://readersfavorite.com/annual-book-award-contest.htm
31. Romance Writer of America promotes the interests of career-focused romance writers by sponsoring awards that acknowledge excellence in the romance genre. RWA sponsors: “The RITA” for published romance fiction novels and “The Golden Heart” for unpublished romance fiction manuscripts. http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=525
33. Rubery Book Award is the longest established book award based in the UK for independent and self-published books. “The key to our success is having a keen eye for quality from distinguished and reputable judges.” First prize is $1,500 and the winning book will be read by a top literary agent. http://www.ruberybookaward.com/
34. The Eric Hoffer Award for independent books recognizes excellence in publishing with a $2,000 grand prize and various category honors and press type distinctions. To enter, a book must be from an academic press, small press or self-published author. http://www.hofferaward.com/HAbooks.html
35. Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Thousands of dollars in prize money. Finalists and Winners receive a list in the Next Generation Indie Book Catalog distributed to thousands of book buyers, media and others. Plus the top 70 books will be reviewed by a top New York Literary agent for possible representation. http://www.indiebookawards.com/awards.php
36. The International Book Awards (IBA 2015) are specifically designed to be a promotional vehicle for authors and publishers to launch their careers, open global markets and compete with talented authors and publishers throughout the world. Winners get an extensive public relations campaign, social media promotion and more. http://www.internationalbookawards.com/
37. The Digital Book Awards celebrate quality and innovation in digital content. Each year, award winners and finalists in fifteen categories illustrate the cutting edge of digital publishing, showcasing creative approaches to design, technology integration and e-reading experiences. https://app.wizehive.com/apps/DigitalBookAwards15
Need another reason to enter? Jim Cox of Midwest Book Review says, "The fact is award stickers help to convince buyers to purchase. I've seen this happen with librarians--when faced with two competing titles and a limited acquisition budget the librarians will take the one that won an award, any award, over the title that doesn't have an award to its credit. I'm confident that this same phenomena works for bookstore patrons browsing the shelves as well."
The Bottom Line: Book awards do matter. Enter a few and become an "award winning author." As Hockey great Wayne Gretzky said "YOU Can’t Score Unless You Shoot!" Get to it and let me know how it goes. If you know of another book award I should check out, please send me the details.
Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it's their first book or their 15th book. He's handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman's World, & Howard Stern to name a few. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.book-marketing-expert.com or contact Lorenz at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist. Check his blog at: http://www.The-Book-Publicist.com
Fridays are "Speak Out!" days on the blog, and we love to hear from our readers.
Your post can be about: writing inspiration, balancing family life/parenting with writing, craft of writing fiction/nonfiction, how-tos, tips for author promotion/marketing/social media, book reviews, writing prompts, special opportunities (paying markets for writers), publishing industry news/gossip, and anything you think our readers will love. Tip: humorous personal essays are encouraged!
Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: email@example.com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
When I was getting my master’s degree in creative writing, I had a teacher who told us that if we were having a problem in real life, we should work it into our story. Not only does it add depth to the story, it often serves as a remarkable problem-solving tool.
Below is an activity that I use in many capacities to elicit stories from myself and students. One way you can use it is as a problem-solving exercise.
1) Create a Character based on yourself, a person with whom you’re having a conflict, or a completely fictional character.
What is this person’s name, age, gender?
Describe this person’s eyes, hair, hands, body shape, scars, voice, walk.
What is this person’s favorite food, song, activity?
What is something the person often says?
What is a goal this person has in life?
Describe this person’s best friend.
Describe this person’s enemy.
What else to you know about this person that you want to write down?
2) Create a Setting
Where are you most likely to find this character? Favorite place?
Describe what it looks, smells, sounds, feels, tastes like...
3) Create a Conflict or, ideally, insert the conflict or problem you’re having.
What is something that prevents the person from reaching his or her goal?
What is something that confuses or frustrates this person?
How does this person interact with his or her enemy? Why does that person have an enemy?
4) Put It Together
Create a story through writing or drawing that includes your character in the setting you created and one of your conflicts.
What does the character think? How does he or she act? What’s the outcome?
5) Share Your Story with at least one other person. This is a way to get an alternative perspective on the problem you hope to solve.
Ask your reader: What do you like about the story? What interested or surprised you the most?
Ask yourself: What do you like about your own story? What interested or surprised you the most?
I’ll often journal my thoughts and feelings on a difficult issue, but this activity makes me think even deeper about it. And who knows, maybe one day it’ll lead to a publishable work of art!
Have you ever used writing for problem solving or conflict management?
4 Basic SEO Blogging Tips to Generate Visibility and Website Traffic
Posted by MP at 2:00 AM
by Karen Cioffi
SEO stands for "search engine optimization." It’s the marketing strategy that allows the search engines, such as Google, to find your website and its content. Being aware of these strategies is essential to having the search engines not only find your site, but to also categorize and index your content. This is how your content is made available to online searchers.
This strategy is part of inbound marketing. It’s using content, in this case your blog posts, to attract people and businesses to what you’re offering.
Below are four of the fundamental SEO blogging tips to get you going in the right direction.
1. Use keywords.
A keyword, according to Techopedia.com, “is a particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a Web page.” They help search engines, like Google, match a page (your blog post) to a relevant search query.
Use your keyword in your article title and within the first paragraph of your post.
You can add it a couple of more times throughout the post, just don’t overdo it. Search engines frown upon keyword stuffing.
Another option is to input a ‘word or phrase’ that’s relevant to your blog post topic into Amazon’s search box. See what keywords suggestions Amazon offers in its dropdown box.
2. Opt for long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are words that will move you away from highly competitive keywords.
As an example, a highly competitive keyword is "health." In a recent Google search, the keyword "health" came in at 3,500,000,000 (3.5 billion) results. That’s a whole lot of competition. This means 3.5 billion bloggers are using the keyword ‘health.’
Long-tail keywords narrow the playing field. The keyword "multiple sclerosis and weather," came in at 972,000 (under 1 million). That’s a HUGE difference.
3. Write for your reader.
More important than keywords, your article needs to be an informative, engaging, and understandable.
Today’s effective marketer needs to create shareable content. Your readers need to feel motivated to ‘share’ the post with others.
4. Work the social networks.
Share your blog post links to Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. You should also inform your groups. Get the word out. And, be sure to have a SHARE button so visitors can share the post also.
I hope these four SEO tips help you get your visibility and website traffic soaring.
Karen Cioffi is a former accountant who is now 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. In addition to this, Karen’s website, Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing, was named Writer’s Digest Website of the Week, June 25, 2012. *******************************************************************************
Interview with Janice Fleming: Fall 2014 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up
Posted by Anne Greenawalt at 3:00 AM
Janice ’s Bio:
Janice Fleming has always been a creative person, but never had the guts to enter a writing contest before. Now she’s so glad she did! Her favorite things include her wonderful husband, her awesome kids, and most of all her precious grand-daughters—Bee and Gus. And don’t forget Calvin, who really was a good old dog...
If you haven’t done so already, check out Janice’s award-winning story “Good Old Dog” and then return here for a chat with the author.
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Fall 2014 Flash Fiction Contest! What was the inspiration for your short story, or what prompted you to write this particular story?
Janice: The inspiration for my story was the real-life relationship between my husband Gary and our dog, Calvin.
WOW: What do you enjoy the most and/or the least about writing?
Janice: I come from a family of story-tellers, so I love to tell the story. I feel like the story is a river, and I am the captain of a boat. I would love for you to go for a ride on my boat while I point out all the interesting things going on, in and around the river. When you disembark, I would hope you had a good time and would like to ride with me again. The hardest part is when I’m in the boat by myself and I get to a fork in the river and can’t decide which story to follow.
WOW: Ooh, that is tough, but that challenge can also be one of the most rewarding parts of writing! In your bio, it says you have always been a creative person. In what ways other than writing does your creativity shine, and do they have any effect on your writing?
Janice: In addition to writing, I am a crafty person, and at one time or another have done almost every kind of craft imaginable. Now that I’ve started writing, I have limited myself to scrapbooking, sewing, and designing the occasional quilt top. Time spent crafting is time spent NOT telling a story, so I have to find a balance.
WOW: And what a delicate balance that can be! If you could have dinner with one author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Janice: I’m from Missouri, so I would have to choose Mark Twain. I feel he was an author who lived inside his genre of humor, much in the same way Stephen King lives inside horror. Could I have dinner with Mark Twain and Stephen King?
WOW: Sure! Sounds like an amazing evening! What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?
Janice: I am reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series from the beginning. He knows his world and characters so well – something I admire and aspire to. WOW: Thank you for the recommendation. Anything else you’d like to add?
Janice: I would like to thank everyone who listened to me complain about the fork in the river and told me to get a bigger boat, or try swimming for a while.
WOW: Thank you for your thoughtful responses. Happy writing!
It sounds crazy that writers need challenges to write. When I tell my non-writing friends that I am stuck on a work-in-progress or most of my writing time is dedicated to freelance, I can tell they don't get it. But you, if you are reading this blog, you are probably a writer. And hopefully, you get what I mean when I say: writers need motivation. We need to spice it up--or it is super easy to get in a rut and not actually produce new creative material for publication.
This is the exact problem almost my entire critique group was having in the spring. We all seem to have things going on in our lives that are getting in the way of producing any words at all. We love each other, so we still met--sometimes one person out of six would have something for us to critique. Or we would brainstorm if one of us felt stuck. But let's just say, none of us were producing anything close to the 20 pages we could have turned in for the others to read and critique.
So at our last meeting, someone suggested doing a daily word challenge. Every day for 90 days, we should commit to writing 250 words. When we go on retreat in the summer, we will pick a winner of the challenge--and this winner will get a monetary prize--which is the person who wrote the most and the most consistently over the 90 days. And it is working! Our word totals are probably triple what they were all spring in just one week. I'm struggling a little still, but I know why; and soon, I will be able to get on track and add my daily totals to the spreadsheet too.
This isn't the only word challenge you can do. You can do "word sprints", also known as "word wars." What this entails is either physically being in a room with other writers or online at the same time. You set a timer for an agreed upon time (usually less than 30 minutes), and you write as many words on your manuscript as possible as quickly as you can. (It's sort of the same philosophy as NaNoWriMo--just make progress, you can revise later.) When the time is up, everyone shares their word counts, and the person with the most gets to say: "I won the word war." There could be a prize, like chocolate, if you so desire.
You actually don't need other writers to do a word sprint. You can just compete against yourself and try to beat your personal best, too.
Do you have any word challenges you do to keep yourself motivated and progressing on your work-in-progress? If so, please share them. We would love to hear about these ideas here!
Recently, Margo Dill and I attended a retreat for children’s writers. The weekend offered us a chance to critique and be critiqued and get to know Roaring Brook editor Katherine Jacobs.
You might think that the best way to get to know what an editor wants is to talk to her. It sure doesn’t hurt.
This was how I learned that Jacobs likes to do picture book biographies like Star Stuff, Stephanie Roth Sisson’s book about Carl Sagan. We also discussed the preschool picture books she’s done with Yasmine Surovec – I See Kitty and A Bed for Kitty.
Then I attended Jacob’s session on plot and one on picture books. I got a feel for her love of longer, process oriented picture books like Time for Cranberries.
I still wasn’t sure what she meant when she said that she likes quirky books. I know what I mean when I saw quirky. I just wrote a book on the Ancient Maya. My adorable editor encouraged me not to leave out the human sacrifice. Then there’s the World War I book I’m currently writing; when she reviewed the outline, my editor made comments like “Finally! The gross stuff.”
When I write quirky, it tends to be offbeat and more than a little disgusting. Other words that have been used to describe my work include irreverent and strange.
Yet, one of my fellow retreat participants assured me that Jacobs would love my work. “She said she likes quirky.”
Before the retreat, I’d read several of her books. I went home and read some more, including The Graham Cracker Plot. The main character, Daisy, is sassy and outspoken. The book is epistolary but these are letters with a twist. The Judge ordered Daisy to write him letters describing the trouble she got into and how it all occurred. He wants to know what she learned in the process. Even if he wasn’t in a book, the best way to describe Daisy’s best friend Graham is to say that he’s a real character.
When you want to know if your writing is a good match for an editor, sit down and read some of this editor’s projects. You may not get the answer you want, but you will discover what you need to know.
As today is Armed Forces Day, a day created to thank our military members for their patriotic service while in support of our country, it seems like the perfect time to also share a review of A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story by Susan Weidener. I first met Susan and became acquainted with her blog, Women's Writing Circle, in my work as a blog tour manager for WOW! Women on Writing.
About A Portrait of Love and Honor:
Newly-divorced and on her own, 40-something Ava Stuart forges a new life. One day, at a signing in the local library for her novel, a tall, dark-haired man walks in and stands in the back of the room. Jay Scioli is a wanderer – a man who has said good-bye to innocence, the U. S. Army, and corporate America. His outlook on life having changed, his health shattered by illness, he writes a memoir. In his isolation, he searches for an editor to help him pick up the loose ends. Time may be running out. He is drawn to the striking and successful Ava. Facing one setback after another, their love embraces friendship, crisis, dignity, disillusionment. Their love story reflects a reason for living in the face of life’s unexpected events. Based on a true story, A Portrait of Love and Honor takes the reader from the halls of the United States Military Academy at West Point during the Vietnam War to a moving love story between two people destined to meet.
Review: The emotional life cannot always be captured, is often forgotten, or left to the memory of those who remain behind. – From A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story
When I first began reading A Portrait of Love and Honor, the only fact I knew was that part of the story was inspired by Weidener’s late husband John Cavalieri, a West Point Academy graduate who was never able to fully achieve his dream of a military career. But as I found myself immersed in the pages, I soon came to realize I was actually hearing the voice of a man who was honorable, intelligent, and disillusioned with the institution he had longed to be a part of for so long. In the author’s note at the end of the novel, Weidener shares the story of how John completed his memoir two years before his death in 1994. She spent many years poring over his words and trying to figure out the best way to share them with the world.
She eventually chose A Portrait of Love and Honor as a way to honor John’s memory and share his voice, which I found reminiscent of one of my favorite novelists, Pat Conroy. The novel is unique in that it blends two different stories, one in third person and the other in first. Readers are introduced to Ava, a divorced novelist, former journalist and freelance editor. She meets the character Jay Scioli when he approaches her at a book signing and asks for her help editing his memoir. The chapters alternate between the story of Jay and Ava, as they work on his memoir, and follows their love affair, which brims with both hope and loyalty. In between the narrative are the chapters from Jay’s memoir, which follows his life from his entrance into West Point to the years after.
Because I knew the story of Jay Scioli was rooted in true events that occurred in the late 1960s, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, I found myself even more invested in book. I felt Jay’s frustration as he dealt with the hazing, the rigorous physical and academic requirements, the constraints of the honor code, and the struggle to fulfill his dream and risk disappointing both himself and his strong-willed mother. When Jay becomes ill in the last year of West Point and sees his dream of military service disintegrating, I wanted to weep along with him.
He writes: Maybe I learned to live with adversity because of events at West Point. One thing I now know is that adversity taught me true lessons in life.
A Portrait of Love and Honor is clearly a tribute to John Cavalieri, and a beautiful and moving one at that. Weidener has published two other memoirs, Again in a Heartbeat: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Dating Again and Morning at Wellington Square that I now want to pick up and read. I commend her for sharing her husband’s story in such a beautiful way with A Portrait of Love and Honor. If you want to read an excerpt, here's one she shared online recently.
About the Author:
A former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Susan started the Women's Writing Circle, a support and critique group for writers in suburban Philadelphia. Her novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor, takes the reader from the halls of the United States Military Academy at West Point during the Vietnam War to a moving love story between two people destined to meet.
She is the author of two best-selling memoirs: Again in a Heartbeat, about being widowed at a young age, and its sequel, Morning at Wellington Square, a woman’s search for passion and renewal in middle age. Her work also appears in the critically-acclaimed anthology, Slants of Light, Stories and Poems From the Women's Writing Circle.
Susan offers editing services for writers aspiring to publish their manuscripts. She also teaches writing workshops and is available for talks and lectures on writing life stories. Susan lives in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.
Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who also works as a blog tour manager for WOW! Women on Writing. Visit her website at www.finishedpages.com.
I had never written from the heart before. I tried, for years, but just couldn’t do it. I was afraid of revealing myself, of being judged (negatively). I wrote short stories, treatments, screenplays, but there was still something missing from my work. I knew it, but could not get past wanting to do anything but being seen.
I had always toyed with the idea of writing an autobiography or memoir. I had had difficult parents and an extremely challenging upbringing along with much sadness. But every time I thought about it, the same old fears cropped up (especially when my parents were still alive), and I thought who would want to read about it, anyway.
And then I came to a crisis in my life.
One day I realized I had not had sex in over a decade. I had been widowed for fifteen years and had been chaste that entire time. I decided I wanted to change my life.
I went to my therapist and asked him for a change of medication. I had been on a known sexual inhibitor. He said he didn’t know if it would make a difference, but, sure, we could try. So we did, and lo and behold, I came alive! I wanted to look into this further.
So I took myself to an adult store, aptly named the Pleasure Chest, to purchase a few items. I was nervous! I had never been to a sex store before, let alone used anything found in there. But it wasn’t even so much buying products I had never bought before that was causing the anxiety, but the very action I was taking by going there was in complete defiance of what I’d been taught and the thoughts that occupied my mind for so long.
While my parents were contemporary, outgoing (they entertained a lot), successful business people, when it came to me they were critical, judgmental, intimidating, and had some strange beliefs about life, love, and especially sex.
I had no idea I was going to go on a journey at the time. I just sought to enjoy aspects of myself that had been dampened down, repressed. I began taking steps toward sexual freedom…at the age of 70!
In the midst of this journey, while having such an extraordinary good time, and feeling freer by the day, I realized that I couldn’t be the only woman who had had a similar experience to mine (either having a poor sex education, no sex education, or having been misinformed, or possibly abused) and while I was reluctant to write it down at first, I soon felt compelled to continue because I thought my story could be helpful to others.
And I began writing! Not only about my sexual journey, but about my past, my life at home i.e. forbidden territory. The floodgates opened, and now not only could I write from the heart, but I could find freedom for the first time in my life, both sexually and emotionally.
I have found that my story resonates with others and all because I opened my mind up to try different thoughts on, different actions, and gave myself permission to enjoy them!
And that’s how I came to write from the heart.
* * *
In addition to writing screenplays, Lynn Brown Rosenberg wrote a short film titled Solo and was honored with a Golden Eagle award.
An excerpt from her memoir, My Sexual Awakening at 70was published on Salon.com, she was interviewed by HuffPost LIVE, and The Sunday Times of London commissioned her to write an essay on it.
Lynn has given many speeches about her memoir, including the Sexual Health Expo in Los Angeles early in the 2015 and again for the Expo in Scottsdale, AZ in April.
For more information, please visit: http://lynnbrownrosenberg.com.
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!
I dedicate this post to my father who was the best storyteller I know. It was his stories that became the building blocks for a lifetime of reading and writing.
A friend recently asked “what’s the key to making your children love books so much?” I suppose until that moment I hadn’t given it much thought. I love books, our children love books. I thought that was the simple correlation. I love seeing things through the eyes of a child and our older children were able to tell me a little bit about their love of reading. After a few conversations with them, I realized the answer was a little more in-depth than I had originally imagined. The first stories our children fall in love with are stories we tell with our own voices and their first works are found scribbled on pieces of scrap paper and may not contain a single recognizable letter. I now firmly believe it is the art of oral storytelling that helps build a love a reading and ultimately a love of writing because children want to share their own story.
My youngest daughter loves to hear my voice. I began talking to her while I was pregnant and she hasn’t tired of the sing songy way I tell her about my day. I may be singing the recipe for banana bread, making up a song about her beautiful blue eyes, or belting out the latest Taylor Swift song. My daughter doesn’t care what it is; as long as it’s my voice she is soothed, pleased, and entertained. Similarly, my youngest son who is nearing two really enjoys learning through song. He is beginning to recognize the rhythm of the ABC song, Twinkle Twinkle, and other standard children’s tunes. He also can say simple words like “book” and his favorites are by Dr. Seuss. He enjoys the rhythm and rhyme whether it’s being sung or read and his love for physical books is already apparent.
The older children who are 7 and 8 were the ones who really brought me to my theory about storytelling and a love of reading. They love making up their own stories; give them an object they’ve never seen before and they’ll give a lengthy explanation about what it is and where it came from. The story will change if they play long enough and one minute the long stick will be a telescope on a pirate ship and the next it is a walking stick for an elderly woman on her way to catch a train. They love telling stories as much as they love having them read to them. Now they are reading as part of their school work and they are flying through the reading levels because they can’t wait to hear the next story or find out exactly why a deer’s eyes make a reflection when the headlights hit them.
My theory is this: A child’s curiosity leads them to love a good story and a good story encourages the love of reading and a good storyteller encourages a love of writing. My father traveled as a young man. He worked for the Manitowoc Company (a local company building large cranes) and his position was to travel to customer sites and help oversee the building/re-building of the crane after it arrived. The crane had been put together at the manufacturing plant but was disassembled for transport to the customer. My father would help the customer’s workers to put all the pieces back together again. Sometimes this took several weeks. He had quite this job by the time I was born, but he still recalled the stories with plenty of enthusiasm.
I loved hearing about the pilot who would fall asleep during a familiar flight, the snobby restaurant staff who wouldn’t seat a gentleman unless he was wearing a coat and tie, the flirty stewardess who looked forward to the handsome business men, and the stories go on and on. The first book I remember falling in love with was “The Secret Garden”, but the first stories were the ones my daddy would tell me during a bath or just before bed. Even if we as parents are not writers or avid readers, we can help our children love reading and writing if we share family stories with them. Even a quick story about our day at the office is interesting to our children and helps them understand a world that may be completely foreign to them.
What was the first story you fell in love with? Was it written and published or just a familiar family story? Who or what do you credit for your love of reading and/or writing? Please share your thoughts in the comments – it’s always fabulous to hear from YOU!
Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 8, Andre turning 7 next week, Breccan 20 months, and Delphine 11 weeks), 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: