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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

 

Take a Break with an Adult Coloring Book or Guided Journal! Interview and Giveaway with Shai Coggins

Adult coloring books are trending and Shai Coggins is always a trendsetter! So this summer she released Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes: Colouring Journal for Fun and Relaxation, a book full of beautiful pictures and designs just waiting for a few colored pencils and markers. But why release one book when you can release two? Coggins also released Today: Life: A Guided Journal on Everyday Moments to awake the journaler in you.


Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes: Colouring Journal for Fun and Relaxation

Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes is a collection of simple, beautiful designs that are inspired by mandalas and images from kaleidoscopes. The designs are a mix of hand-drawn and digital art created by Shai Coggins, all printed only on one side of the book.

This book is also a colouring journal that contains ten colour play prompts that share ideas on colour theories and harmonies. There are spaces for colouring explorations and smaller designs to practice on. You can also find a 'notes' section to write down some of your thoughts on colouring and/or your day-to-day life.

There are also plenty of blank spaces where you can further play with your colouring sets or journal.

Paperback: 74 pages
Publisher: Paper Boat Publishing (August 18, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1925391019
ISBN-13: 978-1925391015


Today: Life: A Guided Journal on Everyday Moments

Capturing everyday moments becomes fun and creative with Today guided journals.

The pages have sections where you can write, doodle, sketch and/or paste/tape in things that you wish to record from your day. Plus, there are prompts, quotes, and journaling tips to keep you inspired.

There are blank and lined pages, as well as journaling spots and areas for you to fill-in or alter.

It's a journal that's designed to make it simple to keep your memories treasured forever.

Have fun #JournalingToday!

Paperback: 134 pages
Publisher: Paper Boat Publishing (August 15, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1925391000
ISBN-13: 978-1925391008

Book Giveaway Contest:
You have TWO chances to win today! Use the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post to enter to win Colour Bliss or Today: Life guided journal. The giveaway contest closes Wednesday, October 7 at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winners the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

Author Bio:

Shai Coggins is the "mum" of two young kids – a boy (currently aged 10) and a girl (currently aged 7), a wife to her British-Aussie husband and a pal to her cavoodle dog called Blue.

Coggins and hubby moved to Australia early in 2003 and they became Australian citizens in 2005. Coggins was originally from the Philippines and hubby was from England. Prior to calling Australia home, they lived in Singapore for a few years (and even got married there in one of two weddings; the other wedding being in Manila). They’ve also travelled to and/or lived in different parts of the USA, Canada, South Africa, France, UK, Belgium, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Dubai, New Zealand, and Australia. Needless to say, they love travel and cultures. And, it looks like they’re raising two travel bugs too.

Coggins hold two Masters’ degrees – one in Applied Psychology from National University of Singapore and another in Teaching from Flinders University, Australia. She also holds a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from University of St Thomas, Manila.

Although she's practiced psychology and teaching in the Philippines and Singapore, Coggins has only really done supervised psychology practice and teaching in Australia. Her growing practice and business in communications and media helped her to decide to leave psychology and teaching as professional practices at this point of her life. She still loves both psychology and teaching and believes that these disciplines help her to do digital media and communications with a difference.

Apart from family life, work, and travels, Coggins enjoys pursuing several personal projects and interests such as reading, movies, TV, music, crafts, food, writing, and art. Her favourite creative pursuits include painting, mixed media, sketching, journalling, novel writing, scriptwriting, filmmaking, photography, and bento lunchbox making. She is also known to love shoes, chocolates, and gadgets!

Visit her website at www.shaicoggins.com.

WOW: Recently you've published two books: Today: Life Guided Journal and Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscope. Do you think your adult coloring book will appeal to journalers and your journal book will appeal to adult colors? Why?

Shai: There are definitely cross-overs! Both books are created as a way to take a break from our digital lives for a short time - either through journaling or through colouring. And, while the journal is created as a book to write in primarily, I've also been encouraging people to be more creative with their journal-keeping. And, I've designed #ColourBliss in such a way that it's not just a colouring book, but also partly a journal.

I know some people have bought both #JournalingToday (the guided journal) and #ColourBliss (colouring book for adults).

WOW: Tell us about your first experience with journaling. Is it difficult to make journaling a daily part of your life?

Shai: When I was about 10 years old, I found my late dad's old discarded day planner. It had a hardbound faux leather cover with thin, gold-edged paper. It had the dates from the previous year, but it was empty. So, I decided to start writing some of my thoughts and experiences in it.

I fell instantly in love with writing in that book! But, I ended up stopping due to some personal issues at the time.

I never stopped journaling, though. I always found a way to keep a journal.

Although there are weeks when I do end up journaling daily, I don't always write in my journals every day. With work, family, and other commitments, it's not easy to keep up with a daily journaling schedule. So, I don't pressure myself to do it every day, all year round.

That's also partly why Today: Life guided journal doesn't have printed dates in them. I encourage people to record their everyday moments, but it doesn't necessarily have to be done every single day.

WOW: Who do you think would enjoy journaling? Is it just for writers? What can we gain from journaling?

Shai: Writers definitely benefit a lot from journaling. But, even those who don't consider themselves 'writers' can still get a lot of benefit from journaling.

Memory keeping is just one of the things we can gain from journaling. But, we get so much more than that.

With my background in psychology, I know that there are a number of studies and articles showing journaling's benefits - from stress reduction and coping with loss and grief to developing learning and productivity.

Writers also get the benefits of regular writing practice, note-taking, and brainstorming, among others

WOW: How does Today: Life guided journal make journaling more fun? What is your favorite aspect of Today: Life guided journal?

Shai: Today: Life guided journal makes journaling more fun through its general approach to keeping journals. It has some templates to fill in, which is great for times when we're stuck on what we want to write about. It also contains prompts, tips, and inspirational quotes to give journal keepers different ideas on how to journal.

I know that even as a long-time journal-keeper, I still find myself overwhelmed when faced with a completely blank journal. So, having something like Today: Life guided journal helps to keep that feeling of overwhelm at bay.

But, at the same time, there are enough blank spaces, so that we can fill those in when we want to write about something a little bit more.

I think my favourite aspect of Today: Life guided journal is its flexibility to follow a set template and journaling prompts/ideas or, to completely do our own thing and alter the journal the way we like it. I have even been creating free printables for the journal that are available at Paper Boat Publishing .

WOW: Why did you decide to create a journaling book? What makes Today: Life guided journal different?

Shai: I have always fancied the idea of creating a guided journal. Even back when I used to maintain a writer's website (which is barely kept now), I would send out newsletters and create blog posts that contained writing and journaling prompts. I loved doing them and I used to get some really great feedback about them. So, I've often wondered what it would be like to make those prompts into a book. This is the first iteration of that dream.

I think what makes Today: Life guided journal different is that it's simple and flexible enough that it won't feel like you're doing a workbook. I know and love so many different guided journals out there. But, I must admit that I don't always get to use and finish them because I end up feeling overwhelmed. As though I'm simply following the journal designers' vision of how I should journal. They fit a certain need. But, they don't always suit my needs as a journal keeper. I've always wanted something that's not quite a blank journal - but also not overly guided.

That's why when I thought about Today: Life as a guided journal, I knew I wanted it to be designed in such a way that it can be altered and used in different ways, depending on how it would suit the journal-keeper. So, even though I've created and designed the book, I've envisioned it to be the journal keepers' book by the end of it.

WOW: At first I didn't understand the adult coloring book trend. But the more I look at them the more I feel they would be perfect for people like a friend of mine who is very anxious. She finds knitting calming and I have a feeling an adult coloring book would accomplish the same thing for her. How did you stumble on to the adult coloring trend? Why do you think adult coloring books have become so popular?

Shai: You definitely captured one of the reasons colouring for adults became popular. From my research, this trend actually stemmed from the recommendations of art/occupational/creative therapists and other mental health professionals. It is believed that colouring helps people deal with stress, anxiety, and other related issues.

But, it's not a new thing. Many reports share that renowned psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) prescribed colouring to his patients, as a way to deal with anxiety. And, when I was practicing as a psychologist, I've also explored the whole drawing/colouring/journaling as therapy concept with people I worked with.

I also know that many people have come out admitting they've never really stopped colouring for fun and relaxation, even before adult colouring became trendy. I, myself, have always kept a colouring book or two, for days when I wish to do something creative but don't feel like doing something more involved like painting, sketching, or drawing.

I think the idea has caught on because we are all looking for different ways to cope with our day-to-day lives. And, people deal with it in different ways. Some people take breaks or use their 'down time' by drinking/eating, watching TV/movies, and/or getting massages/manicures. Colouring has now become one of those choices!

Also, with our exposure to all things digital, people are looking for ways to break away from screen time and find ways to express creativity in non-threatening ways. Colouring fits the bill. And, with colouring book artists coming up with designs that suit the grown-up aesthetic, it inspires more and more people to try this hobby.

WOW: How did you create your book? Are you an artist? Are they hand drawn? Did you use a computer program?

Shai: I'm primarily a digital media professional, managing my boutique agency, Vervely, offering social media, web content, and online community services to different organisations worldwide.

But, I'm also a practicing artist who's part of a local art studio here in South Australia, where I attend painting sessions and teach art part-time when I have the time. I paint in oils and acrylics, but also love sketching, drawing and mixed media.

Some time last year, I attended an online workshop on how to turn my hand drawn art into digital. It was a great way to put together my combined love for digital and analogue. I've been practicing and learning all I can since then.

Little did I know that all the skills I've been accumulating over the years - psychology, teaching, writing, art, digital - would all be useful when it came to fulfilling my lifelong dream of creating books.

Anyway, my colouring book is a mix of hand-drawn and digital art. I've started off with some hand-drawn designs that I scanned into my computer. Then, I've tweaked the designs using various computer programs and smoothed out some of the design elements. But, I wanted to maintain the hand-drawn feel and the designs to express my personal aesthetic.

WOW: What is your favorite tool for adult coloring--markers, colored pencils, chalk?

Shai: I've tried every single type of colouring tool that I can get my hands on, and I must admit: My absolute favourite tools are still my colour pencils.

Different tools are good for different designs and really, it's all a matter of personal choice. And, I always encourage people to try different tools to find the ones that they love best.

I know I still pick up markers, fineliners, pastels, gel pens, and other colouring tools when I find designs that call for those other tools. But, for the most part, I reach out for my colour pencils the most.

WOW: How long does it take to complete a page?

Shai: Oooh… To colour? I don't think there's a straightforward answer to this one. It really depends on a lot of different things, including how detailed the designs might be and the colouring style. For simple designs that only utilise basic colouring, it can be finished in 30 minutes or less. For more complicated designs and advanced colouring techniques, some pages can take hours to complete.

WOW: Why do you love adult coloring books?

Shai: Ah, how can I summarise everything that I love about colouring books for adults? Apart from the reported health benefits, I'm really all for encouraging more creativity in the world.

I believe that people who find time for creativity become happier, healthier individuals.

I know colouring is not THE answer to health and happiness. But, it's certainly proving to be one of the things that many people are finding to be beneficial in our society. That's why I'm very much on board with this trend.

WOW: What will be next for you?

Shai: Knowing my propensity to dive into different things - who knows? :)

But, on the writing/book creating/publishing side of things, there are definitely a few projects in the pipeline. I'm currently designing more journals, colouring books, workbooks, business books, and ebooks. And possibly, a line for kids and pre-teens. No target release dates yet, though. But, if you're keen to hear of updates, I'd love for you to connect with me through my personal blog, Twitter @shaicoggins and Instagram.


***** 2 BOOK GIVEAWAYS! *****

We have two fantastic books to give away from Shai Coggins! Enter to win Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes: Colouring Journal for Fun and Relaxation and Today: Life: A Guided Journal on Everyday Moments. We will select two winners--one for each book. The giveaway contest closes Wednesday, October 7 at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winners the same day in the Rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

 

Meet First Place Flash Fiction Winner, K.C.Lowe

Born in Canada, Kathryn Lowe was bitten by the travel bug at an early age and has been lucky enough to live in places like the Middle East and England. As of right now, she’s living and working in South Korea as an ESL teacher, and acting as the volunteer coordinator for The Lotus Centre for Children with Autism.

Kathryn currently spends her free time writing flash fiction, updating her travel & wellness blog, doing yoga, visiting cat cafes, and drinking as many cups of tea as she can.

Though she will soon be returning to Canada to pursue her Masters of Teaching, Kathryn will continue to travel and write, working primarily on her current project: a fantasy novel geared toward young adults that she aims to turn into a trilogy in the next few months.

To keep up with Kathryn's travels and writing, visit her blog at http://printsontheglobe.com, and follow her on Instagram @katc14.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your first place win in our Spring 2015 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Kathryn: I’ve been writing in one form or another for a long time, but it isn’t until recently that I thought I would try to bring my writing out beyond the journals and countless word documents it’s been hiding in. I’m fairly new to the “writing for the public eye” game so am not up-to-date on how to contact publishers, who to contact, and all of the hulabaloo that goes with it; entering a writing contest was an easier, safer way to dip my toe in the water (or my pen in the ink, so to speak).

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “The Wedding March”?

Kathryn: My writing takes many forms: poetry, flash fiction, fantasy epics, articles, and the list goes on. As varied as my writing is, the inspiration for it is even more so. I might save a picture I find online that sparks a momentary thought, or capture an image of a person in the market that strikes a chord with me, or I might jot down one of life’s little moments that I witness on a daily basis. Sometimes, I sit down to write with a purpose and will go back to these images, these snapshots, these moments, and bring them together to create something new. Other times, I sit down without a real purpose, and let my fingers do the creating while my brain wanders. “The Wedding March” stemmed from a writing session where I didn’t sit down with a purpose, so I don’t know which images came together to inspire it; I do, however, know that certain memories of places (a church a family member was married in), and characteristics of people (the speech patterns of a partner) lent themselves to the writing, and helped fill it out even if they didn’t inspire the idea.

WOW: It's always interesting to hear about a writer's process. Switching gears, can you tell us what brought you to South Korea ? What’s it like being an English teacher there?

Kathryn: I've lead a pretty nomadic life for someone my age, and was lucky enough to have lived in places like the Middle East and England prior to going to Korea. Because of this, I was bitten (hard) by the travel bug at a pretty young age, and have always felt an itch in my feet to go somewhere new, meet new people, and experience new ways of living. Finishing up my final year of university, I wasn’t sure which direction my life was going to take; all I knew was that my life had to involve travelling, writing, and working with kids. Applying to be an ESL teacher in Korea was a great way to get started on two of those three things; and, as it turned out, on the third one too.

I always say that travelling to Korea simply as a tourist (without family or friends living there to show you around) isn’t a great idea, but that living there is something I would recommend to everybody. Korea is unique in the best way, and it was a country that you love as much for its daily quirks (being patted on the bus by older women, or drinking soju at a convenience store), as for the hidden beauty of its landscape (a breathtaking view from a mountain hidden behind an apartment building, or a white crane flying low over rice paddies beside the highway). Being an ESL teacher, especially for middle school students, can be a daily challenge, but it’s also very rewarding if you put in the effort, and let yourself become part of the people and the way of life. I often joke that I wouldn’t have traded even my worst students for anything in the world, and I still believe that. I felt at home in Korea, the country and its people welcomed me with open arms, and I left feeling happier, healthier, more whole, and like I had a finally found my feet.

WOW: A couple things you mention as things you do during your free time are visiting cat cafes, and drinking as many cups of tea as you can. So, what are cat cafes? And what are some of your favorite teas?

Kathryn: Cat cafes are perhaps the best discovery of all time (even before sliced bread), and are something that I really hope can make their way to Canada. Basically, a cat café is a café where you pay a set amount (about 8 dollars) for a coffee or tea, and then get to play with the cats that live at the café. Many cafés in where I lived were great because the cats that lived there were rescue animals and were up for adoption, so any person visiting could potentially take a cat home if they fell in love. There is nothing better than curling up with 6 cats on your lap…unless, of course, you also have a cup of tea with you!

Perhaps my favourite teas to do this with would be anything involving a green tea base, and a fruity taste blend. If you’re looking for some serious tea inspiration though, David’s Tea (a wonderful tea shop and café in Canada) has a great online store where you can pick through seasonal blends, create your own teas, and find a perfect cuppa. For me, the best ones would be a tea called “Kiwi’s Big Adventure” (a fruity green), “Buddha’s Blend” (a soothing green), and “Santa’s Secret” (a black tea with miniature candycanes in the mix!).

WOW: We're craving a cup of tea now! Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Kathryn. Before you go, can you share your favorite writing tip or advice with our readers?

Kathryn: It’s been my pleasure! Thank you for the wonderful questions that weren’t run-of-the-mill (and I mean that with complete sincerity).

I have 2 pieces of advice for any new or seasoned writer. The first would be to read Stephen King’s “On Writing”. The first half of the book is a wonderful biography of his writing journey, and the second half is what he calls the “Tool Kit”; it’s a compact list of all his tips & tricks of being a successful writer, whatever that means to you. If you’re not a fan of biographies or Stephen King, I’d still recommend that you buy the book and just read the Tool Kit, it was one of those things that ended up being covered in margin marks and sticky notes by the time I had finished devouring it.

The second piece of advice is simply this: Write. Write as often as you can, as much as you can, every day if you can. Some days the writing will come easily, some days you’ll have to pull the words out kicking, screaming, and demanding a lollipop the entire way. Whether the words come easy, or the words come hard though, you need to write. And, once you start, don’t stop.

***

For information about our quarterly Flash Fiction contest, visit our contest page.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

 

Jadie Jones launches her tour for the Moonlit Trilogy

& giveaway contest!

Things are rarely what they seem. And nowhere more than in the Moonlit Trilogy. Just when you’re convinced you understand the emotions, motives, strengths and relationships of the characters populating this YA fantasy trilogy, they will face a new obstacle that makes you question everything you thought you already knew. The fluidity of life is brought to life as the line between friend and enemy, love and hate, even good and evil seems to be constantly shifting.

Moonlit is the story of eighteen-year-old Tanzy Hightower knows horses, has grown up with them on Wildwood Farm. She also knows not to venture beyond the trees that line the pasture. Things happen out there that can't be explained. Or undone. Worse, no one but she and the horses can see what lurks in the shadows of the woods. When a moonlit ride turns into a terrifying chase, Tanzy is left to question everything, from the freak accident that killed her father to the very blood in her veins. Broken and confused, she turns to Lucas, a scarred, beautiful stranger, and to Vanessa, a charming new friend who has everything Tanzy doesn't. But why do they seem to know more about her than she knows herself?

Book One: Moonlit
Paperback: 310 pages
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (April 16, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1937178331
ISBN-13: 978-1937178338

Tanzy's journey continues in Windswept, the second installment of the Moonlit Trilogy when Tanzy is the key in an ancient prophecy pivotal to the existence of all beings, both Seen and Unseen. Unseen who have waited a millennium for her birth are relentless in their efforts to see the prophecy fulfilled--whether for good or evil, depending on which side of the conflict one stands. Others have sworn an oath to end Tanzy's existence, permanently. Already, Tanzy's body has been compromised by her enemies, her veins now home to the blood of a wild horse whose instincts are becoming impossible to control. While Tanzy's Unseen enemies work to draw her out of a remote safe house, her friends beg her to stay in hiding. Tanzy is torn, wanting to reunite with Lucas, who has loved her since her first incarnation, yet unsure whether fulfilling the ancient prophecy will protect those she loves or destroy them.

Book Two: Windswept
Paperback: 289 pages
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (July 8, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1937178536
ISBN-13: 978-1937178536

In Wildwood, the third book of the Moonlit Trilogy, Tanzy's journey races toward a final battle within the Unseen. Tanzy Hightower has crossed the veil and entered the Unseen world to fulfill the destiny she has at last embraced, to either seal or destroy the veil between the Seen and Unseen worlds. She is the only mortal in a land teeming with creatures who want her dead. To stay alive long enough to stop Asher, the most powerful of the Unseen, Tanzy accepts his marriage proposal and seeks refuge inside his palace. On the Seen side of the veil, Tanzy's allies are fragmented and lost, without leadership. They must gather forces and train an army of candidates to defend their world against unfathomable predators poised to strike should the veil holding them at bay dissolve. While Tanzy has accepted her own inevitable death in fulfilling her destiny, her closest friends refuse to stop searching for the impossible: a way to save Tanzy's life.

Book Three: Wildwood
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (September 22, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1937178706
ISBN-13: 978-1937178703

This Moonlit trilogy: Moonlit, Windswept and Wildwood is available as print and e-books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, as well as at your local independent bookstore.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win copies of all three books in the Moonlit Trilogy, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, October 2 at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:

Jadie Jones wrote her first book in seventh grade, filling one hundred and four pages of a black and white Mead notebook. Back then she lived for two things: horses and R.L. Stine books. Fast forward nearly twenty years, and she still work with horses. It’s amazing how much changes... and how much stays the same.

The dream of publishing a novel has hitchhiked with Jadie down every other path she‘s taken (and there have been many). Waitress, farm manager, road manager, bank teller, speech writer, retail, and more. But that need to bring pen to paper refused to quiet. Finally, in 2009, she sat down, pulled out a brand new notebook, and once again let the pictures in my head become words on paper.

Confession time: Jadie Jones is a pen name created to honor two fantastic women who didn't get the chance to live out their professional dreams. First, Jadie’s grandmother - a mother of four during post World War II America, who wanted to be a journalist so bad that even now when she talks about it, her blue eyes mist and she lifts her chin in silent speculation. And second, a dear friend's mother who left this world entirely too soon. To Judy Dawn and Shirley Jones, Jadie Jones is for you. It's been a pleasure getting to know her.

Find out more about the author by visiting her online:

Website: http://www.jadiejones.com

Blog: http://www.jadiejones.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jadiejones1

Twitter: @jadiejones1

----- Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: The publishing world is fond of putting books on their proper shelf: romance, YA, coming of age, fantasy, paranormal. All of these genres could be used to describe the Moonlit Trilogy. Do you feel your trilogy can be described with one word?

JADIE: I would choose: Adventure. Love is an adventure, as is coming of age, and certainly exploring a fantastical, new world. A protagonist must face their flaws and learn to overcome them or accept them when they venture into unchartered territory, regardless of what kind.

WOW: Is it difficult having a book that crosses so many genres? Or do you see it as an advantage, allowing you to reach more readers?

JADIE: Definitely both! Some people look at the covers and think: oh, it’s a horse story. I don’t do horses. When really, horses are a small piece of the puzzle, and it’s not a girl-who-loves-a-horse story. On the flipside, some people see the covers and think: OOH! A horse story! Then they expect the girl-who-loves-a-horse story, and are disappointed Tanzy isn’t in a barn 24/7. These books involve reincarnation, blood magic, a parallel dimension, fate-vs-freewill, nature, romance, and more. I wrote a book I would like to read. I love when people are surprised to like a story they didn’t think they would.

WOW: Tell us about the tightrope writers of series balance on--wanting to have a definitive ending to a book yet leave readers wanting to read the next installment. I think JK Rowling had a great idea building each book around a school year. But you didn't have that definitive structure with the Moonlit trilogy. Did you find it difficult to determine when to end a book?

JADIE: YES. One-thousand-percent yes. I am a fan of cliffhangers, as long as I have the next book handy. I knew some people would be really upset with how I ended Moonlit (book one), especially back in 2013 with no sequel in pre-order sight. Almost every bad review I have comes from Moonlit ending in a cliffhanger. And it totally is a merciless cliffhanger. I pull the pin of the proverbial grenade and walk away. Would I change it now if I could go back….? Maybe.

When I finished Moonlit, I had no idea what was coming plot-wise in Windswept (book 2). Literally, not a single clue. I had a few scenes in my head (none of which made it to the final version, actually.) But I knew re-introducing Hope (Tanzy’s mom) was the best place to stop Moonlit and start Windswept, because it was the smoothest, most organic way to reintroduce everything Tanzy experienced in Moonlit when moving into Windswept. If I could go back, I might add more to the end of Moonlit during Tanzy and Jayce’s conversation about the coming war, but at the time, a war was not in my mind as far as the plot. I didn’t realize how wide the picture was about to become, or how many new characters it would encompass.

With Windswept, I tried to have the plot stand more alone. The end does conclude in a major decision and consequence for Tanzy, and shoves her into an entirely different world–literally–but it served as a perfect springboard to beginning Wildwood (book 3): building the Unseen World. There was definitely a method to my madness, however maddening it was.

WOW: With Moonlit, you told us that the completed book was not what you originally envisioned. That Tanzy changed as you wrote it. But did things change during the writing process as they did with Book 1?

JADIE: I actually didn’t know it was a trilogy until I started drafting the second book and realized I had a long, long way to go and more characters to meet before the final scene, which I did have glimpses of in my head. The original story started out as a supernatural Thelma and Louise tale. As the characters developed and the fantastical element became more central to the plot, the whole shebang moved quickly away from the original idea.

WOW: You've released three books in less than three years. How did you accomplish that? I'm sure at some point you must have been writing one book while editing or promoting another?

JADIE: “Releasing” is the operative word. Moonlit took me four years and 30+ drafts to finish. Once it released, I hit the promotional pavement hard. I said yes to every opportunity, and wound up flying all over the country. I also felt a lot of pressure to turn out books 2 and 3 because of the cliffhanger ending of Moonlit, so I went to task on book 2 and tried to force it out, which was a total mistake. I wound up cutting 75% of the “final” draft of the sequel and starting over. I didn’t sleep much, and I took a summer off from one of two other jobs I had at the time.

WOW: How did you keep your sanity?

JADIE: When drafting Wildwood (book 3), I knew I had to organize beforehand. I am a panster-writer by nature, but Wildwood is told from 4 POVs, and weaves together two completely separate worlds, and I was pregnant. Organization was key. I learned the value in outlining a few scenes ahead before drafting it. The draft I submitted had only been revised three times total, and only required one revision once it was in official edits with my publisher, which was crazy to me. With Moonlit and Windswept, my editor and I would bat it back and forth 7 or 8 times. I have to give credit for my great Beta readers, and your very own Margo Dill, who I hired to help me tune up Wildwood before I submitted it in hopes it would shorten the editing time with my publisher, since I would have a newborn at home, and it obviously did.

As far as my sanity…I can’t say I kept it! There were days when my patience was thin, or when I did not give my best self to those who need me most. Balance is something I’m actively working on, and most days I think I’m improving in this respect.

WOW: What is the greatest lesson you've learned about writing since you last visited the Muffin after the release of the first book in your trilogy?

JADIE: I have become more of a story-teller and less of a “pretty” writer. Stringing together a captivating sentence comes fairly naturally to me, to the point of dependence. Then I read this: how captivating would your story be if it were translated? Would the value of the story stay the same? This advice hit home for me. Who cares how I bend and twist the words if the story isn’t strong enough to stand up without all the manipulation? I didn’t have a lot of faith in my story-telling or plotting ability with Moonlit. By Wildwood, I felt like a story-teller.

WOW: Now that the Moonlit trilogy is completed what's next?

JADIE: There’s been some interest in taking the Moonlit trilogy to film! So we are gearing up to see if we can make it happen, which would be absolutely amazing. I’m also going to play with my daughters, ride some horses, eat some chocolate, and catch my breath until my baby is old enough for mother’s-morning-out programs (about seven months to go but who’s counting?) Then I have several ideas I’d like to tackle once I have time and energy to do them justice. Two of my favorite contenders are an atypical crime drama and a love story with a supernatural, time-traveling twist (of course!)

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

Monday, September 28(today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview with Jadie Jones and a chance to win a copy of each book in the Moonlit Trilogy: Moonlit, Windswept, and Wildwood!
http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Wednesday, September 30 @ Renee’s Pages
Love can be tricky--especially in YA. Learn more about navigating relationships from author Jadie Jones. Enter to win Book One on the Moonlit trilogy: Moonlit.
http://reneespages.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 5 @ Thoughts in Progress
Stop by to learn more about Jadie Jones, author of the Moonlit trilogy and win Book Two in the trilogy: Windswept.
http://www.masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 7 @ All Things Audry
Don't miss a guest post from Jadie Jones, author of Moonlit, the YA fantasy trilogy about a horse loving teen balanced between two worlds.
http://allthingsaudry.blogspot.com

Friday, October 9 @ A Writer’s Life
have fun with an interview with author Jadie Jones and a chance to win Book Three in her Moonlit trilogy: Wildwood.
http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com

Monday, October 12 @ Words by Webb
Today we have a surprise guest post from fantasy author Jadie Jones.
http://jodiwebb.com/

Wednesday, October 14 @ Building Bookshelves
Learn more about the Moonlit trilogy by Jadie Jones and enter to win a copy of Book One: Moonlit.
http://blogs.republicanherald.com/bookshelves/

Friday, October 16 @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
Learn more about Jadie Jones in today's author interview.
http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 21 @ JR Broner Book Reviews
JR is reviewing not one, not two, but all THREE books in the Moonlit Trilogy by Jadie Jones.
http://jbronderbookreviews.com/

Friday, October 23 @ Teatime and Books
Learn what makes Jadie Jones, author of the Moonlit series, tick in today's interview.
http://ladyofbooks76.wordpress.com/

Monday, October 26 @ Around the World in Books
Stop by for a guest post from Jadie Jones, author of the Moonlit series.
http://www.aroundtheworldinbooks.ca

Friday, October 30 @ The Road to a Dream
Don't miss your last chance to hear from Jadie Jones, author of the Moonlit series, on her WOW tour.
http://avalouiseauthor.blogspot.com/

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

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

*****Book Giveaway Contest*****


Enter to win three books: MoonlitWindswept and Wildwood! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget this Friday, October 2.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck!

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

 

Deadlines vs Taking a Break



This was “The Week of Deadlines.” Educational activities with photos. A sample chapter. A book outline. It made for some really long days.

I’ve learned this week how to tell when I need a break. The first sign came when I told my son that I didn’t appreciate his subtext. He’s sixteen so he shot me “a look” for that one.

The second sign came when I read an article on how not to be too wordy. Instead of just reading the examples, I found myself editing out additional unnecessary words.

But the biggest clue came when I tried to quickly paint my toe nails. I told my son I’d put lunch in the oven as soon as I finished drafting my toes. We decided he should deal with the oven.

So what do I do when I need a break but I have so much to get done? I take a break.

I know. It sounds counterintuitive, but I’ve learned that once I hit that wall, I need to stop. My progress has slowed to a crawl anyway, and if I keep pushing myself I’m going to do more harm than good.

My top three breaks?

Meal time. It isn’t that I’m food obsessed but skipping meals is a big mistake. Low blood sugar does not go hand-in-land with creativity. If it happens to be lunch and I’m home by myself, I listen to an audio book. It gives me something else to think about for a while. Dinner time is family time which always pulls me out of work mode.

Yoga class. Home workouts are too easy to skip as is gym time. Because of this, I signed up for a twice weekly yoga class. I was tempted to skip this week but I made myself go. It meant 90 minutes away from my desk filled with both exercise and deep breathing. I came back to my office focused and re-energized.

Knitting or crochet. Doing something creative, and non-writing related, recharges my batteries. Maybe it’s that I see results. Maybe it’s because it’s meditative. I’m not sure, but it does the trick. I come out of my craft time with writing related solutions ready to go.

Even if you have a deadline or three to meet, be sure to get up and get away from the computer every now and then. Set a timer in another room if that’s what it takes to make you leave your desk. But get up. Don’t skip meals. Move around. You’ll see the difference when you sit back down to write.

--SueBE

Sue is the instructor for our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins on November 9, 2015.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

 

Writing as Therapy

©  | Dreamstime Stock Photos

We all have stories deep within us that are too painful to write about. It can sometimes take years, but memoirists tap into these stories as a way of healing. I’ve always been hesitant to do this, mostly because I’m a private person who is afraid of coming across as weak or damaged. But a few years ago I realized these hidden stories are the ones that resonate with young readers, particularly those in the teen category. And what better way to reach those readers than with authenticity?

I have one manuscript I’m still tinkering with that focuses on depression and teen suicide. And as I worked on a draft of a different YA novel during National Novel Writing Month last year, the topic of acquaintance stalking began to flow onto the pages. Strangely enough, it was only in the past year that I realized the behavior of an ex-boyfriend I had in my late teens could be construed as stalking (following me after the break up, leaving threatening notes on my car and at my home, hateful phone messages, vandalizing my house, sending friends into my place of employment to harass me, etc.) I guess it never dawned on me that while his behavior was appalling, it was also illegal. Eventually he lost interest and I was able to move on.

But I found myself in an even more disturbing situation a year later. I never dreamed that chatting with a guy in my academic department in college would teach me a valuable life lesson. I didn’t know telling him the apartment across from me had become vacant was a bad idea (he was in the market for a new place) or that I would never feel comfortable in my home (or alone for that matter, again) after he moved in. It was impossible to avoid him—he was in almost every single one of my classes. Some of those he transferred into on purpose.

There are behaviors I learned during that time that I still carry with me. I always have my keys in my hand before I walk to my car. I obsessively check the backseat of the car before I drive out of a parking lot. I lock my car doors immediately upon entering. I rarely venture out alone after dark, especially if the area is not well lit. I don’t answer my door when I’m home alone, and I had my home number unlisted for years.

This didn’t keep him from finding me on social media, and repeatedly sending me requests to “connect.” I’m still hesitant to talk about my experience online for obvious reasons.

I consider myself lucky. I survived my stalking experience with little more than psychological damage. But that can sometimes be just as painful as physical scars. But I think—I hope anyway—that living through it will help me shed light on the ways stalking can break a person down, and help teach some important lessons about situational awareness.

Do you have story that’s almost too painful to write about? Have you tapped into it for inspiration? How did it work for you?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also works as a Blog Tour Manager for WOW! Women on Writing. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Charlotte Parent, Lake Norman Currents, The Charlotte Observer, The Writer and more. When she’s not working on client projects, she enjoys spending time with her family and writing young adult and middle grade fiction. Visit her website at www.FinishedPages.com.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

 

Friday Speak Out!: On My Knees... In Front of the Toilet

by Sioux Roslawski

Oh, I'm not talkin' 'bout hurling after a night of too many margaritas. I'm such a lightweight, one glass of wine and I'm dancing on top of a table. (Of course, my friends think alcohol—when it comes to me—is not necessary. I'm combustible when I'm totally sober.)

No, I'm talking about how cleaning the toilet is just like the writing process.

I was reading Cathy Hall's post. The smartie-pants that she is, she's found a way to write and keep her house clean and maintain great hair—all at the same time. Her mention of when she cleans her bathrooms made me connect writing to scrubbing that porcelain germ magnet.

When it comes to cleaning the bathroom (and yes, that is singular... I would literally kill for another bathroom), I dread it. I have to force myself. It's the same with writing (sometimes). I figure that this time the words aren't going to flow... that I'll just sit there staring at my laptop, the cursor unmoving.

However, once I sit down and start, it becomes a joy. And I'm thrilled once I get some words down. (I'm also pleased when the toilet smells fresh and all the gunk is gone. Thrilled? No. Pleased? Yes.)

The scariest moment when cleaning the toilet is when you lift up the seat. If there's a man who lives in the house with you (or shudder! teenaged boys), there are things that lurk under that seat. The scariest part of writing is revising. You have to lift the lid off your piece and study the underside. What kind of plot holes are hiding in your story? What stilted dialogue is lurking on your pages? You have to be thorough with the scrub brush. You also have to be thorough with your critical eye. Every bit of poop needs to be gotten rid of—when it comes to the toilet and your WIP.

And finally, when your toilet is sparkling clean and fresh-smelling, it's satisfying. (Of course, if there are males in your home, the delightful odors are quite fleeting... so breathe in deeply while you can.) There's a pleasant feeling of accomplishment when you get a simple job like that done. It's the same with writing. When you're able to take a blank page and transform it into something smelly... and then you're able to transform that poopy piece into something that sparkles—well, it's more than satisfying.

So... assuming your toilet has been recently scrubbed, get busy. And write.

* * *
Sioux Roslawski is a “mother” to 22 (during the school day) and when she's not teaching 3rd graders, she's rescuing golden retrievers, she's writing, and she's spoiling her granddaughter. She's had her stories published in more than a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul collections... and dreams of one day finishing her WIP... You can read more of Sioux's stuff at http://siouxspage.blogspot.com


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Thursday, September 24, 2015

 

The How I Got My Agent Post

Yay, I got an agent!

Back in…let’s see. I think it was June. And now it’s September and I thought it was high time I shared that story.

But here’s the thing. I’m afraid you’re going to think it’s not much of a story: An agent critiqued the first ten pages of my middle grade novel in March, at an SCBWI conference. She asked to see the manuscript when I finished it, and so I sent the whole book. About a week later, she offered me representation. And then yay, I had an agent!

Yes, I know. Not much of a story there. But please keep reading, because in the words of that famous (but probably before-your-time broadcaster) Paul Harvey, you have to hear the rest of the story:

About seven years ago, I wrote something that got longer and longer until the day I read through it to the end and realized, gosh, Cathy, this seems like a…dare I say it out loud? (Apparently not.) I whispered to myself, “A book” and kept it a big secret.

I'd never aspired to write a book. I began my career as a humor columnist and freelancer. I was the Queen of 500 Words (Or Less) so to hold a book of 8,000-ish words in my hands? Honestly, I was stunned. (And also a tad melodramatic.) Anyway, it wasn’t just that I had written a book, but that I’d written a children’s book. I thought it might be pretty darn good until I had another thought. Namely, that I didn’t know much about writing for children.

What I did know was that I liked writing for children. So I decided to take an introductory class on children’s writing. By the end of the class, I knew I needed to learn more. (Also, that my book was perhaps not quite as good as I’d thought.) So I took an intensive class on children’s writing and I learned a whole lot more. (Also, that my book needed serious revision.)

Next, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators so that I could meet other children’s writers and attend conferences and maybe find a group of children’s writers who’d be interested in forming a critique group. I read a library full of children’s books and participated in as many kidlit-writing events as I could find. I met every two weeks with my new writer’s group and polished my first book and started on another novel, a young adult story.

I spent three years working on that young adult novel (which, it turns out, was actually more of a middle grade novel). And I began to query agents on that first chapter book I wrote, plus my middle grade novel. I dog-eared pages and pages of agent sections in shelves of books and sent scores of email queries and participated in pitch fests and online writer’s conferences where you can post queries. Lots and lots of queries went out. Offers to represent me didn’t exactly come rolling in.

I needed a break for a variety of reasons (but mostly, I think, because the bloom was off the novel rose). So in 2014, I began to work in earnest on a couple picture book manuscripts. I found a conference for picture book writers and there, I met Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary. Gee, I thought, wouldn’t it be swell if Karen were my agent? But she wasn’t interested in any of my picture book ideas.

Meanwhile, my middle grade voice was poking me again, annoying me with a new idea. In August, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to scratch that new middle grade itch. And that was the middle grade story that snagged an agent. Snagged, in fact, Karen Grencik who showed up quite serendipitously at my regional SCBWI conference.

So yes, it might look like one of those unbelievable “I-sent-one-query-and-got-my-dream-agent” stories. But really, it took years of writing classes and reading children’s books and critique meetings and conferences and pages and pages and more pages of revisions, plus loads of rejections.

It took persistence with a capital P. And that, writer friends, is the rest of the story.

~Cathy C. Hall


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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

 

Don't Get Stuck in the Rules

by AMagill (Flickr)
I love working with authors through the classes I teach for WOW! and my editing business. But one thing I find when working with new writers or even someone who hasn't published yet is this great anxiety over RULES. I had it once--heck, I might even still have it. (Remember, to do as I say, not as I do.) But if you are too stuck in rules, then you might lose the passion, soul and voice of your story.

What rules am I talking about? Well, if you know me, I do believe grammar is important, and you should try to avoid typos if at all possible. But I'm talking about questions and worry over things like:

1. Should I put all the thoughts in italics?
2. What font should I use--Times New Roman or Courier?
3. Should I use chapter numbers or titles?
4. Do I type "THE END" at the bottom of my page?

and so on--you get the idea. Writers have enough to worry about, including but not  limited to:

  • plot
  • characters
  • how to begin
  • how to end
  • subplots
  • description
  • realistic dialogue
  • a muddy middle
  • sensory detail

So whether or not to use italics should not be at the top of the worry list. I think in our race to get published and perhaps noticed, we tend to forget as much about perfecting the items on the second list as we should. It's easy to do because writing and getting published are one of the most difficult things you may ever undertake. So focusing on the mechanics and "rules" can sometimes make this overwhelming process seem like you have some control--I can put these words in italics and type the end! No problem. I got this.

But we all know that the story is what is important. Really. Writing the best beginning you can. Creating a character that all readers want to be or at least get behind. And leaving readers with an ending they will never forget.

So if you find yourself in great anxiety over a question, such as: is my heading correct on each page? instead of: Is my character arc strong enough? Take a deep breath. Relax. Envision yourself in your story and take off with it.

The biggest thing I tell all my students is just be consistent. Try to get all the rules correct and do things according to industry standards if at all possible. But above all, be consistent and write the best story you can.

What do you stress about when writing a story?

Margo L. Dill is a children's and YA novelist and writing teacher. Find out more at http://www.margodill.com.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

 

Interview with Roberta Godar, Runner Up in WOW's 2015 Winter Flash Fiction Contest

Roberta Godar's fascination with history led her to pen "Signal of the Firefly," which placed in the top 10 in the WOW! 2015 Winter Flash Fiction Contest. Check out her winning entry here and then come back to learn more about Roberta.

Roberta Godar lives with her husband, their dog, Penney, and several, snooty cats on a small farm in Southern Illinois not far from the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking, learning Spanish and having coffee with the neighbor.

An avid reader from a young age, the written word has continually held a fascination for her. She’s always liked to write and now that the responsibilities of family, employment and taking care of the dog have lessened, she can devote more time to the art of writing a good story.

Her quest to trace her ancestors triggered a desire to tell stories of the past. She’s currently working on a fictional tale “The Bad Woman” that’s set in 1930’s Arkansas and told from the viewpoint of nine-year Mattie, a little girl full of curiosity that’s trying to understand the complex meaning of right and wrong.

Roberta’s story “Signal of the Firefly” recalls what many people refer to as “a simpler time” and reflects her belief that the past and the present can sometimes come together to touch a person’s life in an unexpected way.

WOW: Congratulations, Roberta, and welcome! We can't wait to learn more about you. First off, your bio mentions a "quest to trace your ancestors." What has that process been like? Have there been any surprising discoveries?

Roberta: The quest to trace my ancestors has involved hours of research in court houses, museums and on the internet. And, oh yeah, let’s not forget traipsing around in overgrown cemeteries looking for that elusive headstone. Each time I find a piece of information, it’s like finding a little diamond.

Interviewing numerous relatives, some willing, some not-so-willing, proved to be a valuable source of knowledge. Two elderly second-cousins who grew up with my great-grandparents generously provided me with a considerable amount of information, which led to other specific details about my ancestors. At times, their step back to the past brought up painful memories for them as well as joyful ones. I’ll be forever grateful to them for giving me a true glimpse of their early lives, and for sharing so much of what they remembered.

One exciting discovery I’ve made is that my great great-grandmother whose first husband died in the Civil war, remarried a man with the last name of Houston. Family lore was that he was a cousin of General Sam Houston. I think the term cousin was probably used loosely during those turbulent times, but though I haven’t been able to make the connection yet, I’ll keep looking.

One of my elderly cousins once said to me, “Tracing your ancestors is a labor of love.”
She was right.

WOW: What is your writing process like? Do you like to crank out rough drafts first or revise/edit as you go along?

Roberta: My writing process begins with a concept that I think about for a week or two before I ever put anything on paper. By the time I begin to write, I have a sense of where I want to go with the piece. If it’s a short story or article, I’ll revise and edit as I go along. For a longer piece, I compose a general outline of the story. I’ll revise “some” as I write the narrative, but in a fictional tale, I never know where a character might take me, so I don’t want to suppress that journey with too much editing. When the story is finished, that’s when I do the mean, hard revision. Sometimes it takes a while, but until the story feels “right”, I can’t let it go.

Writing is definitely a challenge, but it’s an itch that has to be scratched.

WOW: How did you get the idea for "Signal of the Firefly?"

Roberta: The idea for “Signal of the Firefly” came from the nostalgia I felt after looking through a box that contained old family photographs of my grandmother sitting in her rocking chair on the front porch of her Arkansas home, and photographs of my parents looking so young: mom in a pretty, flowered dress and dad looking like a young Clark Gable. The pictures brought back warm-hearted memories of family get-togethers with aunts and uncles and cousins: memories of tag and hide and seek and evenings spent catching those magical fireflies.

My grandmother was a good Christian woman, who as far as I know, only drank sweet tea and lemonade minus the vodka.

WOW: Do you prefer to write flash fiction or longer pieces? Why?

Roberta: Although I have longer stories I’m working on, I like writing flash fiction because it keeps the storyline simple. The narrative doesn’t involve numerous complex characters, grandiose surroundings or lengthy description. Also, less time is spent revising. The word limit is a definite challenge. Concise and carefully chosen words are significant to the meaning of the story and determine the impact on the reader. Sometimes it’s hard to find that perfect word. The discipline it takes to stay within that limit is a great way to sharpen my skills and improve my thinking process. One of my favorite books when I was a kid was “Grimm’s Fairy Tales”. Some of its stories are perfect examples of flash fiction.

WOW: What advice would you give other writers who are considering entering the WOW! Women on Writing quarterly flash fiction contest?

Roberta: For writers who are considering entering the WOW quarterly flash fiction contest, I say do it. I was so thrilled to have placed in the top ten of the winter contest. I never really thought my story would make it out of all the entries, but it did. So, all you writers out there who think you don’t have a chance, think again, you do. I plan to submit more stories and I will ask for a critique next time.
WOW! is a great website for writers wanting to improve their craft. The site offers informative articles, writing workshops and classes, and resources galore. Published stories from people of all walks of like make for interesting reading, and let’s not forget the Muffin Blog.

WOW: We thank you for that glowing endorsement, and we'll take it! Best of luck with all your future writing endeavors.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

 

You Got This!

As I was contemplating what I would write, I realized instead of writing something intentionally profound, I would just share with you a little story and then we can talk about how this can be applied in your writing life. Here goes…

cheddar herb bread cooling
We live on this great farm in rural Wisconsin. We are a family of six. I hate shopping (yes, even grocery shopping). Now that we have that out in the open, you’ll understand the next statement: I make as much as I can here at home, so I never have to leave. Really at truly, that’s my life. We make our own hand soap, laundry soap, dish soap, dish washing soap, baby wipes, and I even cloth diaper in order to avoid having to make the weekly trek to the store to spend a small fortune on something that will fill our landfills. Some people think I’m ambitious, but those who know me understand I’m pretty lazy.

The one thing I’ve never been able to make at home is bread. Even when following time tested traditional family recipes, mine falls flat … literally …

My husband and children love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I’ve mastered the art of making jellies and jams, I buy peanut butter in bulk, but every few days I found myself at the grocery store buying more bread. It frustrated me. (Did you see I used past tense there? The good part is coming!)

I took a bread making class and learned how to make bread. Watching a real live person make it, and being able to touch it, smell it, etc… somehow helped it all make sense. I went home and immediately found myself making gorgeous loaves of bread. I made them alone, and then showed my 8 year old how to do it. She turned around and made her own loaf of bread last evening. I wasn’t even in the room and she mastered it!
Did my teacher cast a spell on me? Was that spell contagious? Why did this all of a sudden go from being something I dreaded to something I enjoy enough to teach others?

It was three little words spoken to me:

YOU GOT THIS!

For the first time in my bread baking life, I wasn’t saying “on my – this is going to turn out badly”, I kept hearing Angie (my teacher) telling me YOU GOT THIS! And that positive self-talk along with some fabulous recipes and simple tips and tricks, took me from frustrated to fabulous! I was then able to instill that same confidence in my daughter. What a great gift to receive, and it really got me thinking about ways I can spread the message and encourage others.

What is holding you back from writing that novel? From sending out those queries? From starting that blog?

Whatever it is, let me tell you this:
YOU, YES YOU! I’M TALKING TO YOU!
YOU GOT THIS!

Show some love and leave some comments telling me what it is you are going to do this week simply by believing in yourself!

P.S - if you ask nicely, I may share my bread recipe with you!

Hugs,
~Crystal
Crystal tandem babywearing Delphine and Breccan 


Crystal is a church musician, babywearing mama, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 8, Andre 7, Breccan turning 2 later this week, and Delphine 7 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

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Friday, September 18, 2015

 

Friday Speak Out!: Writing Tip: Add Body Parts

by Kay Rae Chomic

We all know writing is rewriting, right? Do you utilize the boredom test, which is simply reading your work out loud with naked honesty? This test helps me face up to a dull paragraph, a dull sentence, or a dull chapter ending—none of which a publisher wants to see. Highlight the dullness to fix later. We don’t want to encourage yawns.

What’s the fix? One fun way to jazz the slow sections is to add body parts.

Draft: He couldn’t float and cried like a failure when I put a life vest on him.

Final: He couldn't float and cried like a failure when I put his arms through a life vest.

What do you think? Does adding ‘arms’ make it better?

I write fiction and non-fiction. One of my favorite writing teachers at the University of Washington was Priscilla Long. In her Advanced Fiction Writing class, she provided a myriad of tips, and adding body parts was one I especially liked. From her book, The Writer’s Portable Mentor: “Body parts ground writing and increase its visual and visceral impact. Merely increasing the number of body parts can improve a story.”

Here are two more examples from my writing—draft sentences, and published work with body parts:

Draft: I had given up downhill skiing for ten years, returned to it, and after two runs, I got my groove back.

Final: I had given up downhill skiing for ten years, returned to it, and after two runs, my legs and hips returned me to slalom-mode.

Can you feel the action?

Draft: He wiped his face with the bottom of his T-shirt. She looked into his red-rimmed brown eyes.

Final: He wiped his face with the bottom of his T-shirt, removed his hemp bucket hat, and fingered its frayed rim. She placed a hand on each of his cheeks and looked into his red-rimmed brown eyes.

This couple was at a reconciliation point, and I believe the reworked version added intimacy.

Moving away from my writing, here are two published examples from The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd:

• I had come barefoot, collecting dew on the soles of my feet.
• I pulled the last one off the shelf and opened it across my lap, thumbing through the pictures.

Imagine those two sentences devoid of body parts. Blah!

Lastly, from my book tour, one passage I read from my novel always got a laugh:

"…when Par had her own built-in swimming pool, she made a practice of swimming nude every day… Par’s mother had one thought about skinny-dipping: chlorine up one’s vagina would cause infertility. Par had loved proving her wrong…"

I found I enjoyed saying the word, vagina. Who knew?

Hope you’ll try this exercise—keep in mind this tip is pepper not salt. I’d love to hear if adding body parts to your writing gets your fingertips to dance on the keyboard!

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As a late-blooming reader, and an even later-blooming writer, Kay Rae Chomic experienced the thrills of publishing her first novel, A Tight Grip (She Writes Press), the year she turned 60. Retiring from a career in business, she’s now focused on her passions of writing, volunteering for youth literacy programs, reading, golfing, and traveling. She makes an effort to age with sparkle and humor.
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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, September 17, 2015

 

Want to Increase Your Subscriber List? 4 Power Strategies to Get You There

by Karen Cioffi

Everyone marketing, including writers and authors, is looking for ways to get ‘more bang’ out of their blogging efforts. In other words, getting more visitors to click on their subscriber opt-in box.

Well, while the most important factor is to create great content, there are other strategies you can use to boost your conversions (clicks to subscribe).

4 Power Tips to Increase Your Subscriber List


1. Social proof

Social proof is powerful. It’s using screen shots, comments from others, and so on to show that others find your content valuable.

People are motivated by what others like. Adding a Tweet by someone who said your post was great, provides social proof that you’re worth reading. Including an image of a favorable Facebook or Google+ comment lets the visitor to your blog quickly know that others value what you write.

It could even be a screenshot of being on Google’s First SERP or an analytics page that shows you’re getting lots of traffic.

All this is social proof that your content is worth reading, that you have authority. This will help motivate the reader to say YES to your CTA.

2. Powerful website headers with subscriber opt-ins

Along with having a ‘professional looking’ header on your website. There are WordPress themes that come with a ‘widgetized header’ (having special space to input the code for an optin). This is a powerful feature. It’s one of the first things the visitor to your site will see and it’s proven to increase conversion.

3. Moving Call-to-Actions

This type of call-to-action (CTA) comes in at least two different forms. There is the pop-up CTA that pops onto your screen a few seconds after you land on a site. Often, these CTAs block the view of what you were reading.

There is also the slide-in CTA. The slide-in isn’t as intrusive or annoying as the pop-up, as they slide into your view from the right. And, they don’t block your entire view.

Marketing research shows that both these moving CTAs convert, so it’s certainly worth testing out.

4. CTAs at the bottom of each post

I’ve been doing this for quite a while now. It’s an excellent strategy. The reason it’s so powerful is after the visitor reads one of your knock-out articles, there’s your CTA to subscribe. It’s right there, front and center.

It’s important with this strategy to have a ‘freebie offer’ that’s relevant to the content the visitor just read.

Using these four fresh email marketing strategies should definitely help increase your subscriber list. Try at least one today.

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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.

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Join Karen Cioffi's upcoming online class, 

Learn to Write Professional, Properly Formatted, and Optimized Content 
as the Basis of a New Freelance Writing Business 
or to Add to Your Existing Services.

Visit our classroom page for details and enrollment.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

 

Queries: Your Query Letter is not One-Size-Fits-All

How many query letters have you written for each of your manuscripts? The uncomfortable truth is that you should have one for every agent you approach.

I know, I know. You want to agonize over that letter only once and then change the address and date. After all, shouldn’t it be your manuscript that makes the sale?

Your manuscript does show how well you write. But your query letter shows an agent something too. It reveals how well you know the business of writing including what you know about the agent.

Every agent that you approach should be carefully chosen. This means your reasoning should go beyond “because you take young adult novels and I have written a novel for teens.” Not only should you be submitting to an agent who represents young adult novels, they should represent your kind of young adult novel whether that’s urban fantasy or diverse characters. What is it about the books this agent represents that are similar to your own?

If you are approaching an agent who has sold books to Random House and you already have a Random House book, point that out. It tells that agent that you write the kinds of book that he sells.

Have you found an agent who wants manuscripts for a given series? Read the specs for the series and discuss your work using key words taken from the spec sheet.

A query letter is more than a chance to butter up an agent. It is a chance to talk to a professional about your work. Open your letter with what you are sending – TITLE, a young adult novel of X length. It makes it easy to keep track of your work and shows that you know what they represent (you aren’t submitting a novel to an agent who only reps nonfiction), and that you know a novel isn’t 50 pages long any more than a picture book is 20 pages.

I know. You want part of this letter to be boiler plate. Can’t the section on your manuscript be it? Even this section needs to be customized. If an agent wants quirky characters, your description must include your quirky character. If an agent wants stories set in Armenia, that information has to be in your paragraph. While this paragraph may not change much, it needs to highlight what this agent most needs to know about your work.

Query letters may not be one-size-fits-all but they are a solid way to let an agent know that you’ve done your research before sending them your work.

--SueBE

Sue is the instructor for our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins on November 9, 2015.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

 

Interview with Anne Brandt: Winter 2015 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Anne’s Bio: Anne Brandt has been in love with writing since second grade when her poem about cats appeared in the school newsletter. Her contemporary essays have appeared in such publications as the now-defunct Chicago Tribune Magazine and still published Denver Post. She has co-authored two non-fiction books, and won first place in a Chicago agent’s Great Books Contest for her novel, The Personals Chronicles. Anne is also the author of The Square Root of Someone, a collection of personal essays that is available in hard cover, paperback, and e-book from Kindle at Amazon. Last year, her short story “Alumnae Tea” was anthologized in Write Michigan, and her ten-minute play “20/20 Hindsight” was produced as a finalist in a local competition where she lives. Additionally, 2014 marked her tenth anniversary as an active blogger at http://www.annebrandt.com. When not involved in creative writing, Anne has been a “ghost,” the term she uses to describe her freelance work in both the corporate and non-profit worlds. Her work on annual reports, brochures, and speeches for such clients as Motorola and the University of Illinois at Chicago has won several awards. Anne and her husband moved from Chicago to southwestern Michigan a dozen years ago and never looked back. She no longer freelances and looks forward to spending more time on her creative writing and platform building.

If you haven’t done so already, check out Anne’s award-winning story “The Truth,” and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW!: Congratulations on placing in the Winter 2015 Flash Fiction Contest! What was the inspiration for your short story, or what prompted you to write this particular story?

Anne: Originally, I submitted this story to a contest where the contestants were to parody Ernest Hemingway (jungle hunter, macho man), but I thought they were to imitate him. Obviously, I didn’t win. That aside, the story is based on how I actually met my father.

WOW!: Thank you for sharing that. I love to hear about the origins of writer’s stories. What do you enjoy the most and/or the least about writing?

Anne: What I enjoy least is sitting down and starting a writing session. My second least enjoyable factor is that I cannot stop tinkering with a story, adding an adjective here, deleting an adverb there, etc. The most enjoyable part is when someone connects with something I’ve written.

WOW!: This story has made an impression on our staff and contest judge, which why it is one of our winners! According to your bio, you have written across multiple genres. What have you learned from writing freelance or business writing that has helped to inform your creative writing? Or vice versa?

Anne: My creative writing has informed my freelance more than the other way around. When you are a hired pen, you must make sure to meet the client’s objective – say, promoting the grand opening of a new car dealership – for the particular piece of writing. Still, to make it stand out it has to be creative – which means taking an unusual approach to why this dealership is different. Perhaps it’s because there are homemade cookies for those who are waiting. Or perhaps it’s because of the waiting room itself. Regardless, it’s important to use those distinctions to introduce the dealership in the first place, even though skilled mechanics are what you really want at a dealership.

WOW!: Excellent connection. Thank you for sharing that with us. If you could have dinner with one author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Anne: Laura Ingalls Wilder. She’s not on anybody’s interview list, as far as I know; but since I’ve written an historical novel about an eight-year-old in the mid-twentieth century, I’d like her perspective.

WOW!: Great choice! What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Anne: I’m reading The Rosie Project. It’s keeping me up nights and is hilarious. I especially like that the author can keep the protagonist in character. A friend loaned me her copy, and I shall be grateful forever.

WOW!: Anything else you’d like to add?

Anne: I want to acknowledge WOW for its efforts to support female writers and authors.

WOW!: Thank you for the acknowledgement! And thank you for your thoughtful responses. Happy writing!

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt: follow me on Twitter for a fusion of creative writing and competitive sports with a twist of feminist intent.

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