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Saturday, July 22, 2017


Cue the Heartstrings

In most movies and books, it's easy to tell when characters fall in love. Cue the wobbly knees and sweaty palms as two people embrace for their first kiss. Cue the birds singing in the background, the music, and the panoramic view of the New York City skyline, preferably with the Empire State Building windows lit in the shape of a heart.

There are many examples of extraordinary feats of strength and courage that prove someone has been struck by Cupid's arrow. These scenes are often powerful and beautiful. But there are times when it's just as effective to use a small, sweet gesture to melt the hearts of our leading characters.

Recently I watched The Way We Were. My new favorite scene is near the beginning of the movie when Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand were talking one night at an empty, outdoor bar/cafe. They don't know each other well, and the conversation isn't as smooth as it is later in the movie when they know each other more intimately. The dialogue stops and starts, and I already want them to like each other and want one of them to say something witty to make them fall in love with each other. But they don't. Not yet.

But here's what does happen: The camera cuts to Streisand's untied shoe. Redford is sitting on a table, or short wall (I can't remember exactly), but he sees the shoe and she sees that he sees the shoe and he pats the front of his thigh and tells her to put her foot there. And she does. And he ties it. When he's finished, he gently touches the top of the shoe with his hand for just a moment.

This scene captured everything they were feeling through a simple gesture that spoke volumes. She was vulnerable, he was caring. A kind act that shows a character's emotions in a way that isn't sexual can increase the heat factor to be explored later, while also building tension.

Here's two examples of how other movies effectively capture these small moments:

In Stranger than Fiction, IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) brought bakery owner Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) an assortment of flours (also a play on words). She, of course, immediately invites him to her place.

And finally, who wouldn't want Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) from the movie Say Anything... standing in their driveway holding a boom box playing In Your Eyes, by Peter Gabriel?

So take these cues from the movies to show your characters falling in love through a small gesture. And if you have a favorite example, please share it!

Mary Horner is a freelance writer and editor, and the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing. She teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges.

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Friday, July 21, 2017


Friday Speak Out!: No Fear of Flying

by Susanne Brent

Write what you know is often advised, but when it’s time to write sex scenes I’m unsure what I know is adequate. My insecurities and inferiorities feel exposed when writing sex scenes. I feel literally naked. My performance on the page always feels lacking and, unlike sex, there is no one to ask, “was that good for you?”

I once shared with a writing friend a chapter of my novel involving sex between my two main characters. Afterwards, my friend said I needed to read more books with sex scenes. Apparently, it wasn’t good for her. I felt as if she had gotten a glimpse into my own sex life and it was not page worthy. If in a critique someone says the dialogue is stilted, or the plot confusing, the comments might sting, but to have someone say my sex scenes were poorly written made me fear attempting to step into the bedroom, the shower, or the back seat of a car, wherever my characters might become intimate, ever again.

Still, I wanted my characters to be fully human. I could avoid having my characters do nothing more than kiss or hug, but then I wouldn’t be challenging myself. Besides, what if my characters wanted sex? That seemed unfair to them.

As my blunt friend suggested, I could search through books for well-written sex scenes, but I remembered I had taken a writing class several years ago specifically on that subject. I dug through my treasure trove of resources, and found a class handout taken from a book by Elizabeth Benedict titled The Joy of Writing Sex.

In her book, Benedict used examples from literature to explore ways to illuminate her premise that writing a sex scene is not writing a sex manual. A sex scene should enhance characterization, tell us about our characters “sensibilities, circumstances and inner lives. Sex needs a purpose in your story. It needs to reveal something about them.”

Your characters should want, and want intensely, and not just for simple release. Bad sex in real life. Bad. Bad sex for your characters. Good. In fact, disappointing and unfulfilling sex can enhance readers understanding of a character especially when it has evoked strong emotions within them.

By this time, we all know the mechanics of sex. What a writer needs to do is recognize sex is the most complex of human exchanges and we are rendered vulnerable in our desire to connect. Strip psychologically naked your characters.

Which might just make you afraid to write about sex. That’s a positive thing. Benedict said what you are most afraid to write about is where the writing energy will reside. And take your cues from your character, allow them to show you the way. That takes some of the pressure off.

Finally, and I liked this suggestion the best -- it’s okay if a writer is aroused by her own writing. Maybe there can be joy in writing sex, after all.

* * *
Born in Chicago, I grew up reading the Chicago Sun Times that my dad brought home every night after work. The newspaper inspired me to become a journalist. I earned a journalism degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver and moved to Arizona to work on a weekly newspaper. I wrote on a freelance basis for a variety of publications including The Arizona Republic. I am hoping to complete my novel this year, and I write a blog. Find me at
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, July 20, 2017


Reading to Write

What are you reading right now? What do you mean you don’t have time to read? Look, it isn’t me. It’s Stephen King, but he’s pretty clear on this – if you don’t have time to read, you simply do not have the time to write. He said so. And I have to suspect that the man might have a wee tiny clue.

But the truly shocking thing? The number of writers I know who don’t read or don’t read much. Their excuses vary as widely as the areas in which they write. They just don’t have time. They have families and day jobs. Or they don’t like much of what they’ve tried to read. It just isn’t any good. 

Honestly, I have to back Stephen up on this. You need to find time to do both. Don’t give me that look. I spend far too much time with teenage boys, the kings of scorn, masters of the scowl. You, my dear, are not intimidating. Maybe if you’d read you’d learn how to do it?

Because that is Stephen’s point. Read and you will develop the tools that you need to write. Here are just a few things that you can learn from reading.

Read your favorites, the books, essays, or poems, that made you want to write. Look for the things that you loved. When I was a kid, I was hooked by Marguerite Henry. I loved how she could take factual stories and spin them into compelling fiction. With this true-story vibe, her work has the ring of Truth.

Read things published in the last 2 years and you’re going to learn about the market today. This is important because it is vital to know what is out there now. Look at how it differs from what was published back when your inspiration took root. No way, no how would publishers have touched Maggie Stiefvater when I read YA. Stiefvater's YA has a raw edge. When I cut my teeth, S.E. Hinton was all the rage. Yes, I still love her stories but her books are very different from what publishers are buying today. You need to know about today.

Read, read and read some more. And as you read, pay attention to how the authors do various things. Stiefvater has created an anti-hero I adore. He’s edgy and a more than a bit mean. But he’s also frighteningly compelling.

I’m currently reading Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. He has spun a true story, 100% nonfiction, into something fast paced and compelling. He uses his timeline masterfully to pull you into the story. He plays with reality, giving you the facts as mainstream society originally saw them and then letting the reader in on what the Osage knew from the start.

Jane Yolen? I read her for a literary air, amazing vocabulary and masterful tellings.

Asia Citro? Her ability to teach science through fiction, combining fact and fantasy.

Lisa Wheeler? Fun word play.

April Pulley Sayre? Her use of rhythm.

Read to study what’s out there. Read to study good writing. Read so that you too can write. Seriously, just do it. It is well worth the time and effort and don't overlook audiobooks.  They can accompany you on a long commute, to the gym and even into the kitchen when you fix dinner.  Just find time to read.  Otherwise?  I'll have to go get Stephen.


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins August 14th. 

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017


The Off-the-Grid Payoff

Staying at my parents’ house, which is now my house, led to quite the writing epiphany.

You see, I’m too cheap to pay for an Internet connection (and lots of other stuff that may not be apropos to this discussion) while I was there. So I was forced to make a few changes.

I checked my email on my phone, once in the morning and once in the evening, because I didn’t want to eat up my data. I kept to necessary business only (like writing, friends, and family). And found out that I have about two minutes of necessary business every day. What the heck?

I skipped all my social media because, as I may have mentioned, I was pinching pennies. And found out that any important news with friends and family and sometimes, even writing, ended up coming to me in a text. Yeah, apparently, I don’t really need social media.

And finally, even with all the cleaning and work I had to do at the house, I still found a couple of hours almost every day to write. A couple of hours! Daily!

Flash forward to back-at-home—with my always-available and magical Internet—and bam! The epiphany smacked me upside the head. Namely, that I waste an awful lot of time on the interwebs. I mean, it truly is awful the hours I can piddle away on cruising around social media, reading funny emails, and looking up stuff just because I can. (How old is Jane Fonda? Where is that Bigfoot museum in Georgia? What are those little green people in Guam called?) And all that writing time I found the month before? Gone with the wind-ernet.

If I’m being honest, I had an inkling that I wasted a lot of time out there on the Internet. Being off the grid for a couple of weeks just proved it in a pretty resounding way. But an epiphany—even one that smacks you upside the head—is only as good as the will to make changes.

So to keep from wasting time in my inbox, I still check my email on my phone, twice a day, to see if there’s any business I need to deal with immediately. Later in the day, I dump all those other emails, zip-zip-zip! Okay, I might read one funny email, but seriously, an exercise that I might’ve spent more than hour on has become a ten-minute routine.

As for social media, and I’m mostly talking about Facebook here, I’ve struggled a wee bit. It appears that I’m incapable of policing myself once I jump into those social waters. I have to have some kind of social life, after all, and as a writer I have an innate and highly developed sense of curiosity.

So, yeah. The best I’ve been able to do is limit the times I check in, which for now, is twice a day. Limiting the time I spend there is my goal; I don’t always achieve it, but hey. It’s a work-in-progress.

Speaking of which, my latest WIP is coming along nicely. I’m finding more and more time to work on writing as I spend less and less time on the Internet. And I challenge you to try going off-the-grid this summer, if only for a week or two. You might be stunned at how much you accomplish when you walk away from wi-fi!

(P.S. Jane’s 79. Seventy-nine! How is that possible? The Bigfoot museum is in Gilmer County and the next time I’m near Blue Ridge, you know I’m going there. And the little elves in Guam are called duende. You do not want to mess with them.)

Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer. She's weaning herself off the Internet but that doesn't mean you won't find her words, popping up here and there. You may even find her hanging out with Bigfoot (which looks a lot like her doxie, Libby).

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Interview with Winter 2017 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up, Danielle Dreger

Danielle Dreger is a librarian and writer in Seattle. Her flash fiction has appeared in Pinch Journal, Cleaver Magazine, The Dime Show Review, 200 cc’s and The Driftless Review. She’s a contributor to Preemie Babies 101 and her essays have appeared in The Creative Truth Journal and Her first YA novel, Secret Heart, was published in October 2016. When she’s not working or writing, Danielle is traveling with her husband and toddler. Follow her on Twitter @danielledregerb or at Check out her emotional winning entry, "Tourism for Broken Hearts," here.

interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: Welcome, Danielle! Your bio says that by day you are a teen librarian, and I also noticed you have written an essay titled "What Librarians Wish Patrons Knew." Please share some of those tips with a fellow library lover--just in case I'm doing something wrong :-)

Danielle: I'm currently the Teen Services Coordinator for Sno-Isle Libraries in Marysville, WA. One of the best tips I have for library users is, if you don't see the book you want on the shelf (or in the catalog), ask the librarian to order it! Libraries rely on recommendations, especially when it comes to books by indie authors and small presses. If they don't have the funds to purchase it, they can always ask another library system to mail the book! Another tip: people forget that libraries offer more than free books and movies. Many libraries now have access to streaming services like Freegal or Hoopla for brand new music and TV shows, offer cutting edge programs like ukulele lessons or home brewing talks, and have online resources to help entrepreneurs start small businesses, teach travelers new languages, and provide free practice tests for SATs, ACTs, and professional exams.

WOW: I love it, and so true. Libraries are such great resources. Now on to your writing. By reading "Tourism for Broken Hearts" and the plots of some of your WIPs for children and teens, it's obvious music plays a huge role in your life. Who are some of the musicians you can't live without?

Danielle: My taste in music often changes with what I'm working on, but I've been a longtime fan of Tegan and Sara, Sleater-Kinney, and Arcade Fire. Often I'll hear a song on Pandora or Spotify that sends me down a musical rabbit hole and the next thing I know I'm singing along to a song by The Strokes or Lisa Loeb that I haven't heard in 10 years. And my household is currently obsessed with the Hamilton Soundtrack and the Hamilton Mixtape. I have a feeling the next YA novel I work on will be influenced my a musical theater soundtrack.

WOW: You released your YA novel "Secret Heart" in fall of last year and describe it as "A teenage Kissing Jessica Stein with a Dawson’s Creek vibe set to a soundtrack of Sleater-Kinney, Tegan and Sara, and Taylor Swift." What was the inspiration behind the novel?

Danielle: I had the first spark of an idea for Secret Heart at a Tegan and Sara show in September 2012. They'd just released their song "Closer" and it struck me. I was working on something else one night and Avery's voice came into my head and I wrote what later became a key scene set at a GSA meeting. Avery was so funny and raw and I found that once I started writing, I couldn't stop and I wrote the very first draft of Secret Heart during NaNoWriMo 2012. A lot of the music Avery listened to was music I was into either as a teenager or what I'd recently discovered.

WOW: When those characters pop into our heads it's hard to get rid of them, isn't it? As far as flash fiction, there is an impressive list of published short stories listed on your website. I encourage our readers to check out "Bulletproof Breasts" if they are in need of a smile. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Danielle: Flash fiction is my first love. Many of my stories take place abroad and are inspired by people or situations I've encountered while traveling. I spent a day in Zagreb about 4 years ago on my way from Split, Croatia to Libijana, Slovenia and went to the Museum of Broken Relationships. Seeing those artifacts of heartbreak stuck with me and a few years later "Tourism for Broken Hearts" was born. "Bulletproof Breasts" is a riff on the fake meet-cute story I share when strangers ask how I met my husband (we met online). Plus, I always wanted to foil a robbery! And of course I get a lot of inspiration for flash fiction from writing prompts and contests.

WOW: Your son was born a micro preemie and you are a contributor to the Preemie Babies 101 blog. How did this experience shape your views of motherhood?

Danielle: So many friends warned me that nothing would prepare me for motherhood, and there was definitely nothing that prepared me for a baby born at 27-weeks who spent hist first 6 1/2 months in a hospital. To be honest, I didn't even feel like a real mother at first. I was only allowed to hold him for a couple of hours a day. I'd be consulted, but hospital staff made all the decisions about how much he should eat and what he should be doing. I was sidelined those first few months and it wasn't until I finally brought him home (still on a feeding tube) that I felt like I was finally a mother. I think that after you experience something as traumatic as nearly losing your child, you look at everything differently. I thought I'd be more of a helicopter mom after his rough start, but I find that I'm much more easygoing than I expected. Maybe because he was isolated for so long I actively seek out new ways for him to experience the world. I want him to be fearless. He travels internationally with my husband and I does surprisingly well. And I love that I can contribute to Preemie Babies 101 and share my experiences with other preemie parents.

WOW: Thank you so much Danielle! I know our readers will enjoy learning more about what inspires your work. 

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Monday, July 17, 2017


Where is Your Writing Path Leading You?

Did you read Renee's awesome article yesterday? I did! It really got me to thinking about her article, about an article I wrote a while back about being content, and that led me to today's post as I ponder where my own writing path is going.

Personally, I had been known for my technical writing skills in my professional life. I wrote many technical training manuals, then that morphed into motivational materials in the work place, articles in trade magazines, etc... When I left my corporate job, I started blogging which turned into writing short stories, starting books, and working with authors.

I've never finished a book. I keep thinking I've been derailed. Have I fallen off the path? Has the road come to an end? Or am I right where I'm supposed to be? Maybe I'm not supposed to be the next great american novelist.

Have you published several books that sell well and are well received? Are you still working towards that one book that is going to put you at the top of the NYTimes Best Seller list? Are you writing for you or are you writing for others? Are you afraid of writing because of others?

What motivates you as a writer and where are you going? Will you know when you get there or like me, will you still feel there's more to come? This makes me think of some of the great artists who were never popular or wealthy while they were living. Maybe we will never know in our mortal life if we have "made it".

What do you think?

Share some of your thoughts and ideas here - you never know, something you say may have a profound and lasting meaning for someone else.


Crystal is a secretary and musician at her church, birth mother, babywearing cloth diapering mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 10, Andre 9, Breccan 3, Delphine 2, and baby Eudora due this fall), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, and at her personal blog - Crystal is dedicated to turning life's lemons into lemonade!

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Sunday, July 16, 2017


Maybe in Another (Writing) Life
I’ve been reading a chick-lit novel called “Maybe in Another Life” this week by an author named Taylor Jenkins Reid. In a premise similar to the Gwyneth Paltrow film, “Sliding Doors,” the reader is treated to alternating chapters on what would have happened if the protagonist, twenty-nine-year-old Hannah, had accepted a ride with her first love after returning to her hometown. In one scenario, she leaves a party with him. In another, she leaves with her best friend. The two storylines that play out are vastly different.

I’m enjoying the novel—even if the main character seems to worry a little too much about her love life, in my opinion (she has been wandering aimlessly from city to city with no real career path, for starters), and it did get me thinking about my own writing life. Along the way there were so many paths I could have taken and they all would have taken me down very different roads.

For example, upon graduating from college:
I considered taking a job as a reporter at a small, conservative newspaper in a town where I knew no one. It would have been a completely fresh start at the time, and I could have gained valuable reporting experience, even if the pay was pretty minimal.

Instead, I went to work as a media assistant at an advertising agency in town, where I did a tiny amount of public relations writing (mostly, I bought TV and radio ads for clients). It was a job that didn’t pay a lot (I had to work a second job on weekends), but it did have great benefits. I did also meet the guy who would eventually become my husband there.

And then, in my mid-20s:
I was working at a medium-sized advertising agency in a different city, when I was laid off from my media buying job without about a 100 other co-workers. We all scattered throughout the city applying for the same marketing and advertising jobs. I was offered a job selling automobile ads at a newspaper, which I took. But after the first day, I was so miserable and worried that I would never write again that I didn’t return to work.

Instead, I ended up waiting tables at an Outback Steakhouse while applying for any writing/marketing job I could find. After about six months, I heard back from a small public relations agency who just happened to have an opening for a public relations specialist. I interviewed and took the job, along with a great salary and a five-minute commute to my house, and slowly started writing again. I wrote client copy, press releases, stories for a local university’s alumni newsletter, and much more. And a few years later after my daughter was born, I had the courage and experience necessary to break into freelancing.

Now I find myself in my early forties with three manuscripts in a drawer and the idea for an adult suspense/thriller brewing in my head. (Aaagh!) But I’m trying to tell myself that there is still time to be published. I control my path, and I can make things happen if I buckle down. I could be sitting at a corporate office somewhere writing and editing digital content (I actually do that for a few freelance clients), or I can take the time to dust off a few projects and outline a new one. Which path would make me the happiest?

I’m pretty sure I know.

How has the path to your writing life been? Has it taken you unexpected places, with twists and turns? Is there a path you’re considering that you haven’t ventured down yet? I’d love to hear about it.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who is also obsessed with true crime. To be continued . . .

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Saturday, July 15, 2017


TIps For Holding a Book Giveaway Contest

Offer book prizes & gain readers
About seven years ago now  (I can't believe it has been that long), I wrote a blog post for Darcy Pattison's Fiction Notes website about having a book giveaway contest. At WOW!, we host a lot of book giveaway contests for authors who are going on a blog tour with us, and many of the blogs they visit also hold giveaway contests. The philosophy for authors is that you want people who haven't heard of you or your books to visit a blog and read about you and your books. You also hope that they will be interested enough to enter to win or even purchase the book for themselves or a friend!

The flip side is what I wrote about on Darcy's website, which is how it can benefit the bloggers. When I first started a blog probably in 2008 (?), I called it "Read These Books and Use Them," and I hosted a ton of book giveaway contests. They are a good way to attract blog readers who will hopefully stick around and come back another day (or even sign up to have posts emailed to them).

So here are the tips that I came up with (edited to go with the 2017 publishing world) if you are interested in trying to hold a book giveaway contest on your blog for your book or someone else's.

Low cost. Whenever I hold a book giveaway contest, a publisher or author has provided a free copy for the contest or for my review. Very rarely do I purchase a book and decide to give it away. People will often contact bloggers about giving review copies or ebooks, which you might be able to give away on your blog, if it is okay with the author or publisher. If you haven’t had your blog for very long, you can contact publishers and authors yourself.

Plan the date. Probably the best days to hold a blog contest are at the beginning of the work week—Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. However, you can look at your own blog stats and see which days you have the most traffic to decide when to hold a contest. Once you have your copy and choose your day, let the fun begin!

Plan the contest and your posts. What are you going to do for your post? Book giveaway contest posts can be a review of the book, an interview with the author, or a guest post by the author. A book review can work well for a contest—especially if it’s a book you really enjoyed. If you can secure an interview with the author, these are often popular—everyone likes to hear what an author has to say about her book and the writing process. Guest posts are, of course, nice for you because they are less work. It’s really up to you which kind of post you want for the contest.

Plan your contest rules. The important thing is that you remember to post your contest rules. Most book giveaway contests are just comment contests, where people leave a comment about the book or even a question for the author. So, your rules will say something like: “Leave a comment or question on this post by Friday at 8:00 p.m. CST to be entered into a drawing to win this book. One person will be chosen randomly using Please make sure to leave an e-mail address with your comment. Books can only be sent to addresses in the United States and Canada.”

Some bloggers will allow “extra entries” if the entrants subscribe to the blog, follow the blogger on Twitter, or let others know about the contest. In these cases, the entrant is supposed to leave an extra comment (entry) for each task he or she completes, or you can use Rafflecopter, which has a free account for these types of contests and is super easy to use!

Publicizing the contest. How do you advertise your contest? Twitter, Facebook, MailChimp, Pinterest, Instagram, email--the options are endless--use the social media sites where you have the most followers and interation.

You may have a few subscribers to your blog, but you want a contest to attract new readers, too. New readers are more likely to check out a blog if there’s a chance they may win a prize. If you do no advertising, your contest will probably not be a success until you’ve built a huge readership. You can even e-mail your friends and family when you first start out and ask them to check out what you’re doing.

With a few simple plans and a little extra work on the day of your contest, you can attract new readers and have fun, too with a book giveaway contest.

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, published author, blogger and teacher, living in St. Louis, MO. Check out her website here.

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Friday, July 14, 2017


Friday Speak Out!: A DIY MFA

by Laurel Davis Huber

I do not have an MFA. I’ve often wondered: Is that a good thing or a bad thing? On one hand, it’s possible that having an MFA would have made it easier to sell my first book—a quick look at the daily sales report on Publishers Marketplace reveals a slew of debut authors with an MFA from Iowa or Columbia or the University of Michigan, etc. On the other hand, I have a pretty good hunch that the competitive environment, the constant feedback/criticism from peers, would have overwhelmed me. It’s possible I might have lost my truest writer self in the quest for validation. But who knows? In the final analysis, I’m happy with my invisible advanced degree, the ten-year DIY MFA.

At any rate, the issue is a moot point. As Margery Bianco, author of The Velveteen Rabbit, says in my novel, “Well, here we are now, and I suppose we must concentrate on what’s in front of us.”

I learned by stumbling along. The first step, since my novel is a work of historical fiction, was to spend years doing research. As I collected pieces of information, I found more than facts: the story line became clearer, and the characters themselves began to come alive.

For instance, some easy research for Margery was simply to read all of her books. From these alone one senses her warmth, her knowledge of children, her clear-eyed view of the world, and her great wisdom. (I would point interested readers to Poor Cecco, her largely forgotten novel for children that illuminates Margery’s humor and grace and uncanny understanding of human nature—all through characters that are toys and animals.)

Pamela, the artist daughter, was very unlike her mother. It’s almost certain that today she would have been diagnosed as bipolar, though in her time her disease was labeled simply “melancholia.” To understand her, I read widely on depression. William Styron (author of Sophie’s Choice) wrote about his own struggle in Darkness Invisible, a book that was particularly helpful in understanding the hell that is depression.

As for the actual writing—or “craft”—I have two habits. I rise at dawn (I know, I know, I can’t help it!) so most of my writing takes place in the early morning hours when my brain works best. And when I am “stuck”—when I cannot work out a transition or decide how a character should react, etc.—I go for a long walk. I take along paper folded into quarters and write notes as ideas spring up. See how easy craft is?

Not. Let me synthesize a million articles on writing for you. Good writing takes Devotion. It takes Heart. It takes An Unshakable Belief That Your Story Must Be Told. It takes Learning What Feedback to Accept and What to Reject. But most of all it takes Rewriting and Rewriting and Rewriting.

Now, in a nutshell, you have my personal DIY ten-year MFA program. It is open to all writers.

* * *
Laurel Davis Huber grew up in Rhode Island and Oklahoma. She is a graduate of Smith College. She has worked as corporate newsletter editor, communications director for a botanical garden, high school English teacher, and as senior development officer for both New Canaan Country School and Amherst College. She has studied with the novelist and short-story writer Leslie Pietrzyk (the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize winner for This Angel on My Chest) and has participated in several writing residencies at the Vermont Studio Center. Ms. Huber and her husband split their time between New Jersey and Maine. She is the author of THE VELVETEEN DAUGHTER. For more information, please visit her online at and on FaceBook
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, July 13, 2017


Two Ways to Take a Playful Break From Writing

Okay, if you

  • are constantly driven to be productive 
  • never take a break from writing
  • wear a Depends so you don't even need to take a pee break from writing
      perhaps you should skip this post. 

For the rest of you slackers serious writers, keep reading. You might find a writing way to amuse yourself, leaving you invigorated when you return to your WIP.

1.  Twisted Revision

What about doing some revising in a fun way? Try taking a Little Golden Book in a whole different direction, like what Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett did with Birthday Bunny. What began as a sweet story becomes something... well, you'll have to check it out and decide what you'd call it. (Even though Battle Bunny is quite twisted, I know my middle-schoolers will enjoy doing this activity.)

If you just want to laugh and roll your eyes as you read the pdf, enjoy. And then get back to your current writing piece.

However, if you need to do something different--for a brief bit of time--buy a Little Golden Book, and doodle, cross out and revise to your heart's content... and then get back to your WIP.

2.  Menu Memoir

I know this is a lousy photo--it doesn't do the document justice--but what this writer did was find an image of ancient-looking paper, and did a "food memoir" on it. (The paper looks wrinkled and stained but in reality, it's flat and in perfect shape.)

A Nerinx teacher I worked with this summer created this, and I'm definitely going to do this with my middle-school students this year. It's set up like a menu, with pizza choices, domestic delights and international delicacies. It's a brilliant way of going down memory lane in a very unique way. Here is are a few excerpts from Sarah's piece:

Pizza: Street Vendor Pepperoni and Mushroom, random window, dubrovnik, croatia
           Drive-through window on foot, Kevin paid in kuna, walked through time, ate where Game of
           Thrones is filmed

Domestic Delights: Raw Oysters on the Half Shell, seedy beachside bar, jacksonville, florida
                                Slimy, briny, slurpy, gulped them down with hot sauce and lemon, laughed with
                                Robbie, he made me try new things

International Delicacies: Ham and Brie Crepe,  street vendor, paris, france
                                        Three minute crepe, oozing brie sticking to wax paper, sitting by the Siene,
                                        feeling tres chic, fulfilling a dream

Probably you wouldn't want to toss aside the novel/article/essay/short story/poem you're working on to submit and dive full-time into a memoir like this. But you might enjoy working on a couple of menu items as a short-term diversion.

How about you? What is a way you playfully take a break from writing? Could you see yourself either revising a Little Golden Book or writing a memoir centered around food?

Sioux Roslawski is a wife, mother, grandmother, dog rescuer, freelance writer and middle school teacher. After finishing a novel-length manuscript and then dousing it with gasoline and watching it burn because it still stunk (after the third draft) she's now putting the finishing touches on a YA historical novel that she's super thrilled with. If you'd like to read more of Sioux's stuff, go to her blog.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Author Websites: Time Well Spent

In the midst of my first book release four years ago, I realized I needed a website. Desperate for a quick solution, as I didn’t have the time or the know-how to create my own webpage, I did what any self-respecting, resourceful teacher would do. I paid a student to do it for me.

The site had all the necessary information: contact info, my book cover and blurb, upcoming events like my online book tour (with Women On Writing, of course) and, as the coups de grâce, an unflattering photograph of myself coupled with my biography. The font on the website was adorable and artsy. A shadow of a cypress tree (my symbol of choice) crept across the top. At the time, it got the job done and required no work on my part.

I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t look at it more than once or twice after it was created.

A few months ago, some inexplicable urge prompted me re-visit the website. Initially, I resisted this impulse. I knew what I’d find - something old and outdated. Because I didn’t create it, I had no clue how to update or change any of the information. Short of paying the yearly domain name costs, I didn’t know the first thing about my website.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I’d been avoiding the moment. I know myself, and once I saw the website again, I’d be unable to ignore it any longer. And there it was. Still the same contact info. Still the same book cover and blurb. Still the same announcement of my upcoming book tour from 2013 coupled with the unflattering picture. It was, in short, embarrassing.

As authors and writers, we often neglect our online image. While we love the written word, and there is nothing more exhilarating then holding our published books in our hands, we can’t ignore the power and influence the internet has on our success. When I discover a new author, I often visit their websites, seeking information. Maybe they have a book of which I’ve never heard. Maybe they are visiting my area soon and are offering book signings. Maybe I’m just curious so see what they look like. Either way, visiting their website helps me become acquainted with that author. We would never want to deny our loyal readers the same privilege.

Even if you are not yet published, a website is a great platform to share chapters of your writing. You can also blog on your website and gain followers that way. If you are published, it’s an effective method of sharing all your books with your readers. Use the website to connect with them on a more personal level. Give them a glimpse of who you are.

I’m proud to report that I worked up the courage to erase my old website and create a new one through WordPress. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I learned through trial and error. There were some moments when I spewed four-letter words at the computer screen and huffed away in anger. Eventually, however, it began to take shape, and I regained control of my online image.

I’ve vowed to update my website at least once a month. It’s now clean and informative, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s also the first link on Google when you look up my name, which is exactly what I want.

Sometimes the one thing holding us back is our own self-doubt. Don’t make my mistake. There are many ways to create a simple website. All you need is the courage to start.

Bethany Masone Harar is an author, teacher, and blogger, who does her best to turn reluctant readers into voracious, book-reading nerds. Check out her blog here and her website here.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Interview with Flash Fiction Runner Up, Michelle Rene

Michelle Rene is a creative advocate and the author of a number of published works of science fiction, historical fiction, humor and everything in between. You may have also seen her work under the pen names Olivia Rivard and Abigail Henry.

She has won several indie awards under her Michelle Rene name for her historical fiction novel, I Once Knew Vincent. Her latest novel, Hour Glass, will be coming out February 2018 with Amberjack Publishing.

When not writing, she is a professional artist and all around odd person. She lives as the only female, writing in her little closet, with her husband, son, and ungrateful cat in Dallas, Texas.

To connect with Michelle Rene, please find her here...
Twitter: @MRene_Author
Instagram: mrene_author

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Winter 2017 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Michelle: I have entered your contest before and was really impressed with your organization. The judges are always great and the time you put into the competition is wonderful and noticeable. You are really passionate about this short form of writing. I love the challenge of flash fiction, and the WOW! Women on Writing contest gives me not only a deadline but a challenge.

WOW: Thank you for your kind words about WOW. Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, Six Percent? It’s a bit unsettling to read!

Michelle: I'm not really sure where the initial idea came from. Something about the image of children trying desperately to act as soldiers began it, I think. That led to the idea of a disease that mainly targets adults, leaving the world to children. What a frightening thought for children and teenagers to be left with a broken world and only six percent of adults around to help. How do you fight a disease when most of the doctors and scientists are gone? The premise was a fun, if not unsettling, rabbit hole to follow. I really wanted to challenge myself and try to convey all that complexity in under 750 words. It was a great exercise in showing a lot while saying very little. That said, with the recent success of Six Percent in this contest and the overwhelmingly positive reaction I got from the story, I am currently turning into a full-blown novel.

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

Michelle: I am probably the worst person to ask this. I'd love to say something profound here but the truth is I work from home, I have a three-year-old son, and I write wherever and however I can. During naps, after school drop-off, and sometimes with Thomas the Train in the background. I carry ear plugs with me so when my husband and son are in the other room watching Star Wars for the millionth time, I can concentrate. I recently acquired an iPad Pro which has revolutionized my ability to be mobile and write wherever. People often ask how I can go straight from cleaning a poopy diaper to writing a chapter, and my response is normally that it's what I have to do to meet my deadlines. Outlines help me. Outlines keep me sane and remind me where I'm supposed to be in a novel. Outlines are my friend.

WOW: You have a novel coming out early next year. What was the writing and publishing journey like for you with this book?

Michelle: My novel is a historical fiction piece about Calamity Jane called Hour Glass. This will be my third novel published. I actually wrote the first draft of Hour Glass in sixteen days for NaNoWriMo. No one believes me on this one, but it's true. The title came to me before anything else did, and I sort of built this story about a boy, his autistic sister, Calamity Jane, and this family that came together around them. So many westerns and historical pieces of that time period leave out the amazing women who braved the west, and I wanted to change that.

As for my publishing journey, I had an agent a while back. We were not a good fit, so we went our separate ways. I sold my first two novels, a novella, a novelette, and several short stories myself to indie publishers and magazines. My novel, I Once Knew Vincent, won a few indie awards, so I decided to look for a new agent. I signed with RO Literary in early 2016, and they sold Hour Glass to Amberjack Publishing last year. Hour Glass will release in February 2018.

This sounds super easy all condensed like that, but to all you authors out there who are trying to get agents and trying to get published, it wasn't easy. There are pros and cons to all aspects of publishing whether you're agented, unagented, indie published, self published, or traditionally published. I've done all of these. The only thing I think I've done right is believe, with unwavering tenacity, that Hour Glass deserved a good home. I found that with Amberjack.

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Michelle. Before you go, can you share a favorite writing tip or piece of advice?

Michelle: My constant and only bit of advice I give is to never give up. Never stop writing. I will have three novels published by 2018 and a number of smaller works. You know how many novels I've written since Hour Glass? Three. Well, two and a half to be fair. How many pieces do I have still not published? Four and a half novels, three novellas, and a ton of short stories. The point is keep writing. Keep working. Keep learning. Keep submitting. Don't let anyone convince you that you aren't good enough. Don't stop.


Check out our contest page for details about our next flash fiction contest!

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Monday, July 10, 2017


Larry Kilham Launches the Book Blog Tour for "The Digital Rabbit Hole"

...and giveaway!

The Digital Rabbit Hole allows reader an opportunity for self reflection and asks readers to consider the following questions:

Will digital media sweep us into a new era of prosperity?

What new advances in entertainment, culture, education, and knowledge can we expect?

Will we get stuck in Cyberland only to be saved by digital detox?

The Digital Rabbit Hole reveals that we are becoming captive in the digital universe. The portals are smartphones and the world is the Internet. We immerse ourselves in social media; we learn through packaged feel-good information; and we will leave the hard work to robots and AI. The book details digital media and discusses smartphone addiction problems. It proposes solutions to stimulate creativity and education and to recapture our humanity.

Paperback: 144 Pages
Genre: Social Science/Non Fiction
Publisher:; 1 edition (January 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1533307075
ISBN-13: 78-1533307071

The Digital Rabbit Hole is available in ebook and in print at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of The Digital Rabbit Hole, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes Sunday, July 16th at 11:59 PM EST. We will announce the winner the next day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:

Larry Kilham has traveled extensively overseas for over twenty years. He worked in several large international companies and started and sold two high-tech ventures. He received a B.S. in engineering from the University of Colorado and an M.S. in management from MIT. Larry has written books about creativity and invention, artificial intelligence and digital media, travel overseas, and three novels with an AI theme. Currently, he is writing a novel about free will.

Larry can be found online at:




-----Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: I must say after reading your bio and seeing all your published works, I'm feeling a little shy right now Larry. Thank you for taking the time to sit and chat with me. I'm truly humbled at this experience. And thanks for choosing WOW for your book blog tour! This is such an honor.

You are so successful in other areas of your life, what drew you to writing and pushed you to publish?

Larry: I won a writing award in high school and was features editor of my college newspaper. People always liked my writing. I wanted to write full-time when I had earned enough so that I didn’t have to depend on writing for my income. For me, publishing is the satisfaction of sharing my ideas and seeing how they are accepted.

WOW: That's such an interesting spin on publishing. Congratulations on your many publishing successes! You have many published works and they vary greatly - this leaves me asking "is there anything this man can't do?" but that's not my question. Have you found it difficult to position yourself as an expert in so many areas? What is the key to staying on top of your game when you are involved in so many games if you will?

Larry: I am not writing about as many areas as it may seem. I am constantly examining man, technology, and truth as seen through enterprise and travel. I read a lot of current news with an emphasis on science developments, and I carry on interesting dialogues with many scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.

WOW: You are no doubt a busy man. What's next for you?

Larry: I am retired, enjoying the autumn of life. Through writing, I am trying to consolidate my key ideas about the human condition and destiny. I’m actually getting rid of many books rather than accumulating them. This is all part of the boiling down to the essence. This is not giving up. I think of it as starting fresh.

WOW: It sounds absolutely lovely when you look at it as boiling down to the essence. Enjoy your time! Who has been the greatest influence in your career as an author and otherwise?

Larry: My mother. She read to me from great authors when I was little. She encouraged me to travel, invent, and savor life rather than just make a living. She said write about it.

WOW: I hope you'll write more about your mother in a future book; she sounds very wise! I know you also credit reading as being an important tool for writers. Who is your favorite author and why?

Larry: I don’t have any single favorite author. I like writers who speak of the human experience with a poetic sense. They include Homer, William Shakespeare, Lewis Caroll, Gabriel García Márquez, and T.S. Eliot. If I was cloistered with just the works of one, I would pick Shakespeare.

WOW: What advice would your current self give if there was an opportunity to have a casual coffee chat with your 15 year old self?

Larry: Don’t worry about what people think of your plans. Follow your inner voice. Learn a lot of both science and humanities, and travel extensively for the broadest experience and refreshing adventure.

WOW: Well thank you ever so much for your time. It has been a pleasure getting to know more about you and I've greatly enjoyed The Digital Rabbit Hole for myself! We look forward to hearing more from you along this tour.

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

Monday, July 10th (today) @ WOW! Women on Writing
Interview & Giveaway

Tuesday, July 11th @ CMash Reads
Cheryl Masciarelli spotlights Larry Kilham's The Digital Rabbit Hole. Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about Kilham and his many published works.

Wednesday, July 12th @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Educator, Business Owner, and Mother Cathy Hansen reads and reviews The Digital Rabbit Hole by Larry Kilham. Read her thoughts today!

Thursday, July 13th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Author and Psychotherapist/Addictions Counselor Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her thoughts and insight after reading and reviewing The Digital Rabbit Hole by Larry Kilham.

Friday, July 14th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Avid reader and reviewer (and social media lover) Crystal J. Casavant-Otto reads and reviews Larry Kilham's The Digital Rabbit Hole and shares her thoughts about how social media has changed our lives.

Monday, July 17th @ Beverley Baird
Writer, Reader, and Book Enthusiast Beverley A Baird reviews Larry Kilham's The Digital Rabbit Hole and shares her experiences with her readers.

Tuesday, July 18th @ Bring on Lemons with Troy Pflum
Midwestern father and avid reader Troy Pflum reads and reviews Larry Kilham's The Digital Rabbit Hole and shares his ideas and afterthoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons.

Wednesday, July 19th @ Constant Story
Fellow author David Berner reads and reviews Larry Kilham's The Digital Rabbit Hole.

Thursday, July 20th @ Book Santa Fe
Reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudt reviews Larry Kilham’s The Digital Rabbit Hole and shares her thoughts with readers at Book Santa Fe.

Friday, July 21st @ Eric Trant
Fellow author Eric Trant shares his thoughts after reading and reviewing The Digital Rabbit Hole by Larry Kilham.

Sunday, July 23rd @ Hott Books
Today's author spotlight at Hott Books is none other than Larry Kilham. Find out more about this accomplished author and The Digital Rabbit Hole.

Monday, July 24th @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews Larry Kilham about The Digital Rabbit Hole.

Tuesday, July 25th @ Bring on Lemons with Tess Fallier
Tess Fallier is today's guest blogger with a review and insight into Larry Kilham's The Digital Rabbit Hole. Don't miss this blog stop!

Wednesday, August 9th @ The Muffin
Angela Mackintosh reviews Larry Kilham's The Digital Rabbit Hole.


Enter to win a copy of The Digital Rabbit Hole by Larry Kilham! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget on Sunday, July 16th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Saturday, July 08, 2017


David W. Berner Launches His On Air Tour of "October Song"

...and giveaway!

October Song is a beautifully authentic memoir that reminds us there are no limits on dreams, creativity is boundless and nothing in life is finite when we let go of our self-imposed rules. 
--Michelle Burwell, Windy City Reviews

October Song: A Memoir of Music and the Journey of Time: In the vinyl era, David W. Berner played rock ‘n' roll in a neighborhood garage band. Decades later at the age of 57 he enters a national songwriting contest and to his surprise he is named a finalist and called to perform the song live at a storied venue for Americana music. Grabbing his old guitar and the love of his life, David hits the road, hoping to live out a musical fantasy he thought had been buried long ago. What happens next is unexpected, revealing, and both heartbreakingly and heartwarmingly authentic. October Song is a powerful examination of the passage of time, love, the power of music, and the power of dreams.

Paperback: 192 Pages
Genre: Memoir/Personal Growth
Publisher: Roundfire Books (April 28, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1785355562
ISBN-13: 978-1785355561

October Song is available in ebook and in print at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of October Song, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes Sunday, July 16th at 11:59 PM EST. We will announce the winner the next day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:

David W. Berner—the award winning author of ACCIDENTAL LESSONS, ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE, THERE'S A HAMSTER IN THE DASHBOARD, the novel NIGHT RADIO, and his newest memoir OCTOBER SONG—was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began work as a broadcast journalist and writer. He moved to Chicago to work as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and later pursue a career as a writer and educator. His book ACCIDENTAL LESSONS is about his year teaching in one of the Chicago area's most troubled school districts. The book won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a "beautiful, elegantly written book" by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy, and "a terrific memoir" by Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio). ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE—a 2013 Book of the Year from the Chicago Writers Association—is the author's story of a cross-country road trip with his sons and the revelations of fatherhood. The memoir has been called "heartwarming and heartbreaking" and "a five-star wonderful read." THERE'S A HAMSTER IN THE DASHBOARD, a collection of essays, was named one of the "Best Books of 2015" by Chicago Book Review.

David can be found online at:
Twitter: @davidwberner

Praise for October Song:

October Song is about and for all who wonder if it's too late to follow a dream. Through his easy conversational tone, David W. Berner shares his heart and soul as if we were curled up together, sipping hot chocolate in front of a fireplace. Like a favorite song, that warm fuzzy feeling lingers on well after the story is done. (Viga Boland, author of No Tears for My Father)

With his gift of a no-holds-barred writing style―raw, honest, confessional―Berner succeeds, once again, as a master storyteller. Music can tell the story of our past. Lyrics evoke memories; melodies make the heart thump like it did on a first date. October Song brings the reader through a mix tape of life, as Berner tells his tale of new love while traveling through landscapes and time. Each chapter reads like a beloved song. (Geralyn Hesslau Magrady, author of Lines)

October Song strikes all the right chords; the high notes and the low notes of a life's journey―the losses, the lessons, the loves. Composed with tenderness and affection, Berner's heartfelt and ultimately life-affirming joy ride teaches us that you're never too old to roll down the window, crank it up and belt it out. (Randy Richardson, author of Cheeseland, Lost in the Ivy)

-----Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW:  This interview was somewhat of a challenge since you and I have worked so extensively together. I feel like I already know so much about you, so let's dig a little deeper!

How does real life fit into a writer's life?

David: I don’t see them as separate things. A writing life is a ‘real’ life. It is central to much of my everyday existence. Do I write each day? Not always. But if two-three days go by without writing, I get antsy. Like working out or walking the dog, I try to make it part of my daily life. Even if it is not on a specific project, I write. I put down words. Sometimes they are not worthy words, but they are essential to get me to that next level. That next project, that next story, the trick sometimes is “training” those you love, those in your life, that writing – going off on your own to think and write – is not some vacation or getaway. It’s your work, your calling, your inner peace. It’s important for me to write to be the best person I can be. I truly believe that, so, I write. And it’s not an off-shoot of my real life, It is my life.

WOW: What's it like getting remarried late in life?

David: Magnificent! That’s the short answer to this question. And honestly, I don’t think of it as ‘late in life.’ It’s just…life. There is no age limit or time constraints to love. I think I address this in my memoir October Song by considering all the journeys one has to take to get them to their new place. Everything that comes before is a piece of the road map that takes you to your new place and maybe your new love. I do not close the doors on my past – my past relationships – I only see them as stepping stones to what is next, So, remarrying late in life is like putting all the pieces of a puzzle together and finally seeing what the big picture is supposed to look like.

WOW: How has travel influenced your writing?

David: I’m not a big traveler, not like some people I know, but I’ve certainly done my share – Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, a cross-country road trip, I recently took a trip to Cuba, a country I have been infinitely fascinated with. Travel, I believe opens your senses, your heart. Americans, many times, are far too insular, seeing the world through only the American view, Truth is, much of the world does not live by this view. Living within other cultures makes one a better observer and helps one understand our own existence more intensely. That can only help one’s writing, I’m working on a project now about the notion of home – what it means? Why it’s important? Why do we leave it and seek new ones? Some of my travels away from “home” have helped me see what home – in all of its manifestations – is really all about.

WOW: Tell us more about creative solitude?

David: This is such a wonderful thing! Creative people can find it in many different ways, but I think it is essential. First, let me explain what it isn’t. Creative solitude, for me, is not about locking yourself away, being a creative hermit, in order to be a creative person. Instead, it’s about settling your mind, finding that sweet spot that permits thoughts to come to you. It’s mindfulness and expressiveness at the same time. Recently, I created a new writing space – a writing shed in my backyard, It’s an 8x10 space with a desk, a reading chair, my favorite books, and creative work from my kids. This space helps create that “solitude” for me. I used to be a coffee shop writer and there were great things about that. Sometimes I still write in coffee shops, but this new space truly allows for that creative solitude. A place that is all my own, a sort of writing church. This is not to say that this is what all writers should do – build a shed in their yard – but it works for me.

WOW: What's next for you? (when it comes to writing and life)

David: I’m working on a manuscript, a series of connected essays, about the notion of home. It’s a memoir about my eternal search for home – the leaving, the returning, and the search for the perfect place under the stars. It begins with my parents, who grew up in the same neighborhood, on the same street, and raised their children just a few houses away from where they grew up. I was one of the first in my family to leave my hometown, to go to college, to move to another city hundreds of miles away. Why? What was I looking for? What are we all looking for? And why does home – in all its forms – have such intense pull?

Next in life? Well, my wedding is in September. It will be a simple backyard ceremony with our closest family and friends. And remember that shed I talked about, the writing shed? The ceremony is going to be held right next to it. So, the writing life and real life truly are coming together.

WOW: Well thank you ever so much for your time. It has been a pleasure getting to know more about you through not only your memoirs but also through your candid interviews. I've greatly enjoyed October Song for myself! We look forward to hearing more from you along this tour.

----------On Air Tour Dates

Saturday, July 8th (today) @ WOW! Women on Writing
Interview & Giveaway

Wednesday, July 12th @ 7:10am EST @ The Frank Truatt Morning Show
Join Frank Truatt at 7:10am EST as he interviews David W. Berner about Berner's latest memoir October Song. This is a broadcast you won't want to miss as these two radio professionals discuss this inspirational memoir and more!

Thursday, July 20th @ 10am EST @ Conversations with Cyrus Webb
Host Cyrus Webb welcomes author David W. Berner to #ConversationsLIVE to discuss his journey as a writer and what led to penning his latest memoir October Song.

Monday, July 24th @ 10:05 EST @ The Source 96.3FM and 1370AM
Don't miss David Berner as he is interviewed by Larry Whitler, the host of "AM Ocala Live!" the morning drive show on WOCA "The Source". Learn more about Berner and his latest book "October Song".

Thursday, August 10th @ 1pm EST @ Frankiesence & More with Frankie Picasso
Frankie Picasso interviews David W. Berner about his highly praised memoir October Song. Don't miss an opportunity to learn more about Berner's tale of new love and the power of dreams!

Thursday, August 17th @ 9am Pacific Time Donna Seebo - Delphi International
Donna Seebo is known for her Informative Talk and Personal Empowerment Programming at Delphi International. She will be interviewing David W. Berner (9-9:30am Pacific Time) about his latest memoir October Song.


Enter to win a copy of October Song by David W. Berner! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget on Sunday, July 16th!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, July 07, 2017


Friday Speak Out!: Living with a Sadistic Muse

by P.R. Gutierrez

I’m probably one of the rare writers who have a name for the inhuman voice in their head known as The Muse. I call her Lydia, after one of my scrapped pennames back when I thought writing would just be a hobby. She prefers Mistress, for reasons. She imagines herself as an embodiment of the painting with Aphrodite standing in an open shell, skin softer than silk and hair billowing in the breeze as other deities clothed her in flowers. I see her as a siren clothed in the night sky, stars sparkling like diamonds around her curving hips and elegant neck, eyes like burning embers with a grin like a predator stalking its prey as her talon-like nails cut open my skin as wine-colored blood flows onto the pages of my notebook or the keys of my laptop.

Working with her for all these years has created a complicated relationship. Sure, she would keep me from boredom during class with tales that would develop into short stories or the beginning of novels I wouldn’t finish, although there were moments when I’d miss something important since she would let out one of countless plot-bunnies that would hop around in my head at random points in the day. This unfortunately didn’t stop during college, the years when lectures held precious gems of information that could be on the next exam, or as the moment when I would hold my degree in my hand, valuable subjects for future essays or short story assignments.

If you could ask her she’d say I try to starve her by withholding fun whereas I’ll say she’s the one withholding inspiration when I’m working on either a book review or a story I’ve been writing for a literary magazine out of financial desperation. There are no shouting matches between us where glass decorates the floor like glitter. It’s more like silence that would often last for days, even months if we’re both particularly huffy. I recall moments when she’s wrapped my wrists in my insecurities for several hours, letting its venom sink into my bloodstream. She’d whisper in my ear, voice honeyed velvet, that this is for my own good as she ties a scarf around my mouth, leaving me wondering where she found it.

Most of the time she’s hiding somewhere, traveling to places I can only dream of going until she comes back. I ask her where she’s been but she smiles her cruel smile before locking the door behind her.

There are still moments when she’s gentle, sweeter than any chocolate I’ve ever tasted. She’ll embrace me with all the warmth of a cozy blanket in winter. She’ll whisper soft words of encouragement and motivation as the pen or pencil in my fingers runs across the page. Perhaps there’s a reason she hasn’t left me yet, or perhaps she enjoys tormenting me too much.

Either way, I miss her when she’s gone, and love when she's home.

* * *
P.R. Gutierrez is an avid book and coffee lover who blogs about both. When she’s not reading she’s crafting boxes with her thrift store and yard sale finds. She’s also a writer of short stories, poems, and novels from fantasy, mystery, suspense, and horror. She tries her best to write every day, but her house panther prefers stealing her attention and her pencils. Find her at ~ ~ and

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, July 06, 2017


Too Much Me

Recently I asked my daughter if she would read an article about me on a blog, and share it on my Facebook page.
"Because," I said, (like an 8-year-old).
"It's very good," she said, as she looked up from her phone and wondered why I was so concerned."
"It's not that I didn't think she'd do a good job, it's that sometimes I'm uncomfortable in the spotlight."
"Don't you like the attention?"
"No," I said. "It's too much me."
"That's weird," she said.
"I know."
"Didn't you do public relations for a living?"
"For someone else," I said, "and I was good at it, but when it comes to me, I'm not good at promoting myself."

Is that shyness, or introversion, or something else? Some people bask in the limelight, but I don't feel comfortable if someone else has put me there. If I can control it, then it's not as bad, and at times I even take the lead and promote my work. Take this blog, for instance, if I want to write about myself I can, but when I put the control in someone else's hands I feel like one of those prisoners walking out of solitary confinement after a couple of weeks -- the light burns my eyes.

As a writer, I go back and forth between extroversion and introversion, although not in a straight line. To be completely honest, I wrote this post a couple of months ago, and was not sure about posting it because it reveals personal information. And I do believe that we all have some of both characteristics in us. Some days I feel confident and want people to hear what I have to say. Other days I want to stay in bed and read a book.

What about you? Are you fearless when it comes to promoting yourself? Or do you shy away from disclosing personal information, or promoting yourself and your books. There's no right or wrong, but I wonder why some of us are so comfortable, and others not so much.

Mary Horner is a freelance writer and editor, and the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing. She teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges.

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