Interview with Rose Kleidon: Summer 2016 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up
Posted by Anne Greenawalt at 3:00 AM
Rose’s Bio: Rose Kleidon considers herself fortunate to be a citizen of both today and yesterday. She invites others to travel through history with her, seeing amazing connections with earlier generations and with the great diversity of humanity. Professor Emeritus of the University of Akron, Kleidon taught English, Speech, Technical Writing and Advertising Copywriting. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and Historical Writers of America and will be a presenter at the 2017 Unicorn Writers’ Conference. The author of two textbooks, her debut novel is with an agent, and the sequel is in process, books that can be previewed at www.rosekleidon.com. Kleidon is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and the University of Illinois; she did additional academic work at Illinois State University, Northern Illinois University and Northwestern University. She is a businesswoman, the founder of three companies, as well as a mother, grandmother, genealogist, sailor, gardener (the designer of an historically accurate herb garden for the Western Reserve Historical Society), an award-winning baker, and a fiber artist.
If you haven't done so already, check out Rose's award-winning story "Last Man Out" and then return here for a chat with the author.
WOW: Congratulations on placing in WOW’s Summer 2016 Flash Fiction Contest! What was the inspiration for your short story, or what prompted you to write it?
Rose: I like to package history lessons inside stories. In this case, I wanted readers to realize how often pre-industrial cities went up in flames, and that when they did, there was little or no help coming. You had better be prepared to save yourself, even if that meant putting yourself on the line.
WOW: Excellent. That puts a lot at stake in a very short space. I understand that you’ve written a novel, too. What can you tell us about your debut novel?
Rose: 1836: Into a Land Too Fabulous traces a family's long, dangerous immigration from Prussia to America at a time when the journey was made by sailing ship and took months. The novel is based on the true story of my great-great-grandparents' immigration, for which I have several remarkable private documents.
WOW: That must have been an amazing experience to uncover those documents and piece together their story! What do you enjoy the most and/or the least about writing?
Rose: Discovery! When I research thoroughly and imagine deeply, I can begin to grasp a different time and place and live another life. Those moments of insight are worth a great deal to me. I am speaking at a writer's conference in a few months where I will try to explain how I do this.
WOW: Excellent. Good luck at the conference! What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?
Rose: I just re-read War and Peace, which I chose because the historical figure on whom my main character is based survived Napoleon's disastrous Moscow campaign, and no one tells the story of that invasion better than Tolstoy. Besides, I need excellent writers to keep inspiring me.
WOW: Re-reading a novel of that scale and scope takes dedication. I’m impressed! If you could give other creative writers one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
Rose: Everything depends on the quality of the sentence. Everything.
WOW: Thank you. Anything else you’d like to add?
Rose: It's nice to be recognized, but, like dancing or playing the piano, writing is its own reward.
WOW: Thank you for your thoughtful responses. Congratulations again, and happy writing!
Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, and profiles of writers and competitive female athletes.
Rebecca Fitton Launches Her Book Blog Tour for Wave Rider: Poetic Journey from Abuse to Wholeness
Posted by Crystal Otto at 2:30 AM
Wave Rider: A Poetic Journey From Abuse to Wholeness is a poetic reflection of author Rebecca Fitton’s long journey to heal from sexual abuse, abandonment, and neglect, building a new world based on wholeness of body, mind, and spirit. Her journey has taken a lifetime. To use the metaphor of waves, sometimes the undertow nearly drowned her—but she survived. Now her beautiful and profound book offers inspiration to others who have also suffered greatly from abuse.
Praise for Wave Rider:
"Rebecca’s journey, delightfully presented through her sacred poetry, resonates with an archetypal journey shared by many. The intimacy of her sharing and beautifully aligned prose guides us into a state of consciousness where peace can be found. Her book is a delicious delving into the sacredness of individuation." —Melissa Pickett
"It is said that the longest journey begins with the first step. Truthfully, something precedes the first step: saying “yes” to the journey. In her book of poems, Rebecca invites us into her journey—one that says a resounding “yes” to life and an emphatic “no” to abuse. Her voice found through poetry, Rebecca speaks with courage, determination, and delight. My life-journey is the richer after reading her poems." —Paul Chitwood, L.M.T.
"I have been reading Rebecca’s poetry for a few years now. Her choice of words in describing deep emotions, life’s challenges, and pivotal awareness-evoking experiences creates for me a rich and expansive tapestry of multidimensional memories, feelings, and a desire to explore further within myself issues and life mysteries raised by her poetry." —Emily M. Smith
Paperback: 72 Pages
Genre: Spiritual Memoir / Poetry
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (February 1, 2017)
Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Wave Rider, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes Sunday, February 5th at 11:59 PM EST. We will announce the winner the next day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!
About the Author:
Rebecca Pott Fitton explored different places and professional work. She grew up in Delaware and went to college in upstate New York. After graduating from Keuka College, she earned an M.A. in international relations at the University of Delaware. Then she headed to Michigan for careers in urban planning and health-care administration and an MBA from the University of Detroit. She continued working in health care in Ohio and retired as president of CareView Home Health in Middletown, Ohio. Retirement can be a busy time. Fitton brought her business acumen to service on five nonprofit boards. After her husband, Richard, died, she realized that the time had come to remake herself. As the lyrics of the song go, “I’d built a life wrapped so tight it was strangling me.” Freedom was a spirit call from Santa Fe, New Mexico.
WOW: Thank you so much for sharing your life with us Rebecca. Wave Rider is absolutely beautiful. What prompted you to share your story with the world?
Rebecca: A shift of visual perspective prompted me to write my first poem. I was at a New Moon Retreat on a friend’s property located in the foothills south of Santa Fe. The vistas are spectacular from that site. As part of each gathering, we spent time out on the land individually and silently. That day in July 2009, I looked closely at a juniper tree that was immediately in front of me rather than gazing into the distance. Then I wrote the poem “Crones” and read it to the gathering of women when we returned. The poem compared junipers to crones. They were amazed, and so was I. The next month at the gathering, I wrote “Coming to Santa Fe.” My writing had begun.
WOW: Sounds like your friends and the retreats were very influential, but please tell us more about what and who influenced you and in what ways.
Rebecca: My spiritual journey was influenced by the writing of women including Jean Shinoda Bolan, Lauren Artress, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Barbara Ann Brennan, Starhawk and many others. As a writer Jean Shinoda Bolan had the most influence because she is a Jungian psychiatrist, and I was on a healing journey. She also wrote a lot of books.
Women’s circles also influenced my journey. In the 1980s I was a member of Unitarian Universalist congregations. The Church supported women’s spirituality through a curriculum, and we added our unique strengths and perspectives. We read and discussed books about goddesses, created rituals for solstices and equinoxes, and spoke our truths in services we presented to the congregations. These experiences were rites of passage.
My healers, whom I identify in the ‘Acknowledgements and Gratitude’ section of Wave Rider, were my primary influence. I knew that I needed serious professional help, and I was fortunate enough to enlist competent, empathetic professionals. My poem “Teacher” reflects how I feel about them. They set me free to be me.
WOW:I was excited to learn about a song that was written just for you. Tell us how you felt when you first heard Santa Fe Winds.
Rebecca: I was absolutely thrilled to receive “Santa Fe Winds” from my cousins. My cousin John has ‘had my back’ for most of my adult life, and here he was again with his wife Lois. I was amazed how perfect the lyrics were for me because they had not yet visited Santa Fe. I always cherish gifts made from the heart. This time, it was a gift of music; and I am so honored to have been the recipient.
WOW:You are certainly brave. A book, a song, truly unstoppable! Sometimes choosing a publisher can be daunting, but even that didn’t stop you. Tell us though, how did you go about choosing a publisher?
Rebecca: I choose new resources through existing resources. I had begun chatting with friends about publishing and asked for their opinions. Here in Santa Fe we like to shop locally. One friend suggested that I consider Terra Nova Books. She knew the publisher and was confident in his honesty, integrity and professionalism. Scott and I met for coffee and conversation. He was forthright and encouraging. One of his suggestions was to contact Artotems, a marketing firm. After more coffee and conversation, I decided to submit my formal proposal to Terra Nova Books which they accepted immediately.
WOW:Your story just gets better and better. You’ve got so much to share. What advice or words of wisdom would you give others who are looking at publishing their story?
Rebecca: The only advice I have to offer is do not self-publish because you do not have access to distribution channels. Many bookstores will not carry self-published books. Because I like face-to-face conversations (I am so old fashioned), having my publisher in the same city works for me.
WOW:What’s next for you?
Rebecca: Whatever the universe brings. I continue to write poetry and am having fun.
WOW:Thank you so much for choosing WOW! We appreciate your time and honesty. This is sure to be an inspirational tour!
Feb 1 @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Madeline Sharples reviews Wave Rider by Rebecca Fitton. Stop by Madeline's blog, Choices, and find out more about this poetic journey from abuse to wholeness. http://madelinesharples.com/
Feb 2 @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Crystal J. Casavant-Otto shares her review after reading the poetic journey of Rebecca Fitton in Wave Rider. http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
Feb 3 @ Sioux’s Page
Sioux reviews Wave Rider by Rebecca Fitton. Stop at Sioux's Page to learn more about Rebecca and this touching and poetic journey from abuse to wholeness. http://siouxspage.blogspot.com/
Feb 6 @ Bring on Lemons with Penny Harrison
Wisconsin business owner and avid reader Penny Harrison shares her thoughts and feelings about the poetic journey of Rebecca Fitton. http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
Feb 8 @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte
Michelle DelPonte shares her review of Rebecca Fitton's Wave Rider today at Bring on Lemons. Don't miss this exciting blog stop and book giveaway. http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
Feb 9 @ Writer’s Pay it Forward with MC Simon
MC Simon reviews Wave Rider by Rebecca Fitton for readers at Writers Pay it Forward. Don't miss this honest review of this touching and poetic journey. http://writerspayitforward.com/
Feb 10 @ Book Santa Fe with Tange Dudet
Avid reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudet shares her thoughts and feelings after reading the touching and poetic journey of Rebecca Fitton as she went from a life of abuse to wholeness. http://www.booksantafe.info/
Feb 13 @ Bring on Lemons with Cindi Ashbeck
Cindi Ashbeck shares her thoughts and feelings after reading the moving story Wave Rider by Rebecca Fitton. http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
Feb 14 @ Bring on Lemons with Tara Forst
Wisconsin mom, foster mom, wife, babywearing enthusiast, and business owner Tara Forst reads and review Wave Rider by Rebecca Fitton. http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
Feb 15 @ The Constant Story with David W. Berner
Author and radio personality David W Berner reviews Rebecca Fitton’s book Wave Rider and shares his thoughts with readers at The Constant Story. http://davidwberner.blogspot.com/
Enter to win a copy of Wave Rider by Rebecca Fitton! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget next Monday, February 6th.
I guess I’m a little old school, but I remember the days of having to put together a portfolio of my work to take to job interviews and meetings with potential clients. This zippered binder would contain samples of my work, such as press releases, newspaper and magazine articles, and more. As I was still holding on that notion until very recently, my home office became more and more cluttered. I would keep copies of magazines I had articles in. I edited a local parenting magazine for three years and kept copies of each issue, because they contained themes I helped developed and article and interviews I wrote to support those themes. I kept copies of trade magazines because I knew I would one day go back to those articles with agents seeking work, or search for a list of resources I marked as useful for querying for work.
The clutter gave me a nice reality check this past week. After living in our house for thirteen years, we’ve finally decided to move to the other side of town to shorten the commute for the kids and me. I know all about how we need to clear the house of all excess items, paint, replace carpet, and stage the home so buyers can imagine themselves in it. I also know that most potential buyers probably aren’t writers, and won’t appreciate the baskets of magazines I had in the office and overflowing from my bookshelves. I took a deep breath and got to work. Here are a few things I told myself to get motivated:
1. You don’t have to have a print copy of every article you’ve ever written to get a job or wow a potential client. I have a website and blog, and although it’s under construction right now, I do have links to my work there. I can also use LinkedIn and social media to spotlight specific work samples.
2. I can find agents looking for my type of writing without having to keep backlogs of trade magazines collecting dust in a pile. As Sue Bradford Edwards wrote yesterday, agents utilize Twitter to seek out manuscripts. Other magazines and websites feature interviews with new agents, and Writer’s Market is also another resource (and can be checked out of your local library, so you don’t have to run out and buy a new edition every year.)
3. There’s probably no need to hold on to notes for an article you wrote five years ago. If the notes don’t contain any information you didn’t use for the piece, and are simply sitting in a manila folder in a desk drawer, chuck it. I did the same thing when cleaning out my closet. If I hadn’t worn it in a year, it got donated. If notes hadn't been looked at in a year, I recycled them. 4. Keep a few physical copies of magazines for reference, but recycle wisely. I did keep a few issues of the parenting magazine so I could show people examples of how I helped organize the content in the future if necessary. I also kept a few copies of magazines where I had a cover story featured. I didn’t get ride of everything, but I feel I did reasonably declutter my workspace.
My home office is tidier than it has been in years, and I feel more comfortable going in there to work now. I had to tell myself I’ve been writing professionally for almost twenty years, and there’s no way I could possibly keep everything. Up next, boxing up all the books. That could turn into a whole other blog post. How do you keep your writing space tidy? Do you struggle with keeping physical copies of your work, magazines, and other resources? How do you keep track of clips for your portfolio?
Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who is still trying to give her website a new look and organize her online portfolio. It’s under construction at FinishedPages.com.
#MSWL: The Hashtag that Can Help You Sell Your Work
Posted by Sue Bradford Edwards at 1:00 AM
#MSWL stands for “Manuscript Wish List” and it is a hashtag that agents and editors use when they are looking for manuscripts. It is the Twitter version of the website Manuscript Wish List. Editors and agents post their profiles and their manuscripts wants on this site so that writers can research the best recipients for their work.
Visit the site and you can look up the profile of the agent who is going to be speaking at an upcoming writer’s conference. Or maybe it is an agent you just saw featured in an article or mentioned in an author’s dedication. Regardless, visit the site and check the profile for Jim McCarthy to learn that he wants fantasy, science fiction, and memoir as well as “fantasy or sci-fi in non-Western settings.” Agents and editors both use these profiles to indicate what general areas they want (fantasy and science fiction) as well as specifics (non-western settings). Favorite books and movies also give you some clue as to their general taste and since they write the profiles themselves you get a feel for personality as well.
If you have a specific kind of manuscript, say a science picture book, you can go to the genre/name search tab, select, “agent,” “picture book” and “science” and come up with eight possible agents to research. You can also use this tab to look an agent or editor up by name.
In truth, I use the site more often than I look up the hashtag on Twitter although that too is a great way to gather names for my agent wish list. Just sign into Twitter and search “#MSWL.” Unfortunately, you are going to have to scan past writers looking for agents and editors. What can I say? Some people are just super special like that.
But there will also be a host of posts from agents and editors. Some will be very specific like this from a Harlequin editor.
Agents mention favorite tv shows and movies. They post news stories and photographs. Anything that makes them sit up and take notice is liable to be posted.
Other times they use the hashtag to put out a general call or just to remind people that they are currently reading slush. Some of these posts get specific, but others like this one from agent Jaida Temperly simply direct you to their profile.
Some days you’ll find a lot of new tweets. Other days, not so many. The best days are official #MSWL days which always have something of a Sotheby’s feel. Call after call comes in and you know that writers with the right manuscripts are getting their work ready to go.
The next Manuscript Wish List Day is February 8th so you have just over a week to polish your work. When the big day comes, sign in to Twitter. Maybe you’ll find the perfect agent for your romantic nonwestern fantasy!
Friday Speak Out!: Finding the Perfect Writer’s Journal
Posted by MP at 1:00 AM
by Brenda Moguez
Regardless if you’re an aspiring or seasoned writer you’ve heard of or read about the benefits of using a journal(s). For the author, it’s a haven, a catch-all, the place to jot unexplainable thoughts in, capture scenes that play themselves out in dreams, your observations of people found on trains and coffee shops, love letters to lost lovers, and your ideas for stories and future novels.
Deciding you want to keep a diary is the first step, the next is pushing through your apprehension that comes from another writing responsibility.
• What will you write?
• Can you commit to the demand of the daily rite to write?
• Why bother having a journal if you’re already struggling to reach your day-to-day word count?
If you’re like me, you’ll buy several journals, fill up the first ten pages and then stop. Later you’ll buy a Parker Starlight Ball Point pen and a package of multi-colored Sharpies, fill another twenty pages and stop once again. The following year you'll recommit to your desire to maintain a writer's journal but never quite succeed because you haven’t asked yourself why you want to keep a diary.
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means” (Joan Didion, Why I Write, From the New York Times Book Review 5 December 1976).
After reading Ms. Didion’s essay, you might say, Yes!
Or you might groan at the idea of committing to such deep contemplation. Maybe you’ll recall what you learned in a writing workshop regarding the usefulness of using individual notebooks. Can you see yourself filling up several spiral binders, each with a unique theme?
• Ideal Journal
• Character Journal
• First Lines Journal
• Dream Journal
• Dear Diary Secret Thoughts Journal
• The Story Notebook
The laundry list of reasons to keep a notebook, as is what to scribe in your diary, are infinite. Journals help the writer tie the pieces of their fragmented thoughts together, but tracking down the perfect journal isn’t as simple as picking up a Moleskin.
It’s a complicated process.
If you love journals, I’ll wager you can’t walk past a boutique stationery store without browsing the inventory. Before you follow me down a slippery slope of acquiring a Smithsonian-worthy collection of journals, consider your writer’s needs.
I knew the conventional college-ruled notebook would not do the job. I wanted a robust on-the-go tool to organize the chaos in my writer’s mind. I saw the value of using several journals but dealing with the paper variety would be unwieldy, pricey, and they didn't provide the structure I wanted. When I considered my immediate needs, the need to manage my to-do list, research, my submissions, writer how-to’s, blog ideas, letters, and everything else in my writer’s kitchen sink, there was one only option: the digital journal.
There are several digital notebooks out there just waiting to declutter your writer’s mind. You will need to research to decide which is best for you. The upside to digital notebooks is their portability, and they do not require a Master’s Degree in Technology.
My love affair with the traditional journal continues to burn bright despite my appreciation of the digital variety.
If you’ve taken the plunge, share with us what works for you.
* * *
Brenda Moguez writes the kind of stories she loves to read—women’s fiction, starring quirky, passionate women who are challenged by the fickleness and complexities of life. She’s particularly drawn to exploring the effects of love on the heart of a woman. She has aspirations for a fully staffed villa in Barcelona and funding aplenty for a room of her own. When she’s not working on a story, she writes love letters to the universe, dead poets, and Mae West. Her second novel, Nothing is Lost in Loving, released in April 2016. You can find her at http://www.brendamoguez.com where she explores passionate pursuits in all its forms.
Would you like to participate inFriday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
I don't know where the inclination to create art comes from, but writers, painters, musicians, and sculptors share a desire to put their view of the world into their work. I believe we all have similar goals--to promote self expression, and reflect on culture and society. Art can begin a difficult discussion, bring people together, cultivate passion and conflict, or offer a healing respite for a damaged soul. It reminds us we are not alone.
One of my favorite memories comes from a contemporary gallery in Houston. My mother had accompanied me on a business trip that included a city tour with a stop at the gallery. The canvases were huge sheets of brown craft paper that hung vertically from the wall and flowed onto the floor. Each one featured a series of six-inch swirls of numeric dates like these: 9-10-96, 8-19-67, 4-11-72.
We spent a lot of time trying to decipher the codes and significance behind them. We looked for patterns and offered theories. It was the first time I remember "seeing" her as an individual because of our differing interpretations. When I teach the concept of perception in my communications classes, I share the memory as an example that no two people see the world in the same way, but it doesn't limit our ability to connect.
Melissa Bauer practices plein air painting (the act of painting outside). I asked her about her goals, and she referred me to the artist's bio on her website, which explains her desire to "make a connection to the natural world that becomes a physical object." When I asked her why she does it, she said it lives inside her and if she didn't let it out, she would explode.
I understood. To me, writing is like a compulsion to fling a life preserver over the side of a boat in the dark, on the off chance that someone just might need one, and we connect. Why do you create art?
Mary Horner is the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, and teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges.
I'm sure on Facebook you've seen those posts with a title like, "You Might Be A Child of the 80s if....", followed by photos of all the things children of the 80s identified with from neon clothes to Cabbage Patch Kids. I've seen children's books similar to this, too--there's an entire series with titles, such as If You Lived In Colonial Timesor If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon, where kids are told what would happen to them if they were a part of this historical period. These have inspired me to write...
You Might Be a Novelist if. . .
You have several half-finished novels on your hard drive that you'll finish one day when you have time (which is never). You may even have a few unfinished novels, full of run-on sentences and description out the wazoo, that stop at exactly 50,000 words because you were trying to "win" NaNo.
You have a coffee mug or t-shirt that says something like, "If you make me mad, you could end up murdered in my next novel." By the way, you can't find a coffee cup big enough to hold the amount of coffee you need to write your novel.
You have Pinterest boards full of beautiful people who are most definitely starring in your screenplay, when your book becomes a movie.
You have a blog that you haven't written on since 2009.
You love office supplies, especially brightly colored post-it notes and neon colored highlighters.
You talk to yourself; or even worse, you talk to your characters and ask them questions about what they would like to do; or even worse, when talking to your friends and family, you mention your characters as if they were real people. "The other day, Harry said his scar was really hurting. . ."
You have trouble sleeping because of a) the coffee from your huge coffee cup b) your characters keeping you awake at night, talking to you c) your fans won't leave you alone (okay, we can dream about c when we finally fall asleep).
You have a gym membership that you never use because while everyone else goes to the gym in the morning before work, that is your only uninterrupted time to write your novel. (Can you really be fit and a writer too? No.)
Your new year's goals always include something like, "I will write ___ pages a day." Or "I will write ___ words a day." And by February 1, you are down to: "I will write every day." And on Feb. 5, "Okay, okay, I will finish a novel in two years."
You hear yourself complaining about having to actually get dressed and talk to people on the weekends.
Your passion is creating amazing characters and interesting plots to thrill your readers and make them beg for more.
Having spent nearly every summer of her young life stuffed in a tent with her mom and brothers, Emily Keener feels most alive when she’s outdoors and slightly out of her comfort zone. She’s worked as an educator at parks and nature centers across the country and now makes a living as an instructional designer. Emily has always enjoyed writing—from journaling in the woods as a kid to sketching silly stories for her niece and nephews—and one day she hopes to break into the children’s nonfiction market. She also dreams of writing interpretive material for the National Park Service. Last year, she and her husband welcomed a beautiful baby girl, who loves to caw at the birds flying over their home near the Mississippi River. Interview by Sue Bradford Edwards
WOW: What was the inspiration for Release Mission? Emily: I should tell you right away that it entering WOW's flash fiction contest was a big move for me. It was the first time I had entered a fiction writing contest and my palms were actually sweating when I hit submit! Still, it felt good ... like a release. But, lucky for me, I made it out alive.
Last year I overheard some college students talking about a caged animal "freaking out" when it was released into the wild. They were saying captive animals forget how to be wild. It made me think about a young man from my home town who tried to jail break an animal from the zoo. He was caught and incarcerated. It made me think of all the well-intentioned, but maybe ill-conceived, plans we have when we're young, especially when we're young and radical, and how we can be so sure that our guts are our best guides. That was the inspiration for Release Mission.
WOW: I’m so glad you worked up the courage to enter the contest. Can you tell our readers how the story evolved from first idea to story submission? Emily: When I started writing, I got carried away with all the details about the snowy owl - what he looked like, where he came from, where he was. The "flash" part of flash fiction was quickly falling apart. So, I scrapped most of that.
I started writing a new character, Rachel, who eventually did a better job of getting the story off the ground. She let me get to the point from the first paragraph; rather than starting with details about the owl, I started with her alone in the woods, preparing for her mission. Rachel also let me show the role humans played in the bird's life much more efficiently than a third person narrator alone. Her intervening hand was like the hand that removed the bird from his home, the one that cared for him in captivity, the one that might have tried to reach in his cage for a pet.
WOW: The addition of that character really shaped the story. How did you decide what to include in the story (details about guard’s routine) and what to leave out (details about the main character)? Emily: So many details were left out of this story in the end. I knew it was time to start chopping when I kept going beyond the word limit and Rachel hadn't even moved from her post outside the zoo. I kept thinking, how am I going to get her out of there with this bird? That was the question that kept bringing me back to the cutting board. It helped me see that I did not need to share much about the guard, other than the details that would allow Rachel to know when to move: his routine and his jingling keys. Everything else could go.
I also felt like readers should know where Rachel was coming from - why did she want to free a bird in the first place? I wanted people to see she wasn't a total weirdo, just a little misguided. I included enough background to show her motivation for releasing the bird, and for not backing out, which is why I thought her belonging to an environmental group was important. People seem more likely to carry out an outrageous act when others are rooting them on, or when others feel let down by their inaction. I wanted to show what was pushing Rachel to do something that might seem a little crazy.
WOW: Giving that part of her background definitely helped the reader understand her motivation. I How does your personal experience in the outdoors impact your writing? Emily: My background in the outdoors has focused my writing habits on nature, mostly because that's where I like to pay attention! I like to write about the things going on outside - squirrel exchanges, bird attacks, ant interactions, and the like. Birds are fun to watch because they chatter and socialize and sometimes do shocking things, like bully each other and torment other animals. It's fun to look out the window and wonder what's going on in this great, big breathing world where you cannot always understand the language, yet somehow you find meaning.
WOW: In your bio, you reveal that you want to publish children’s nonfiction as well as write interpretive material for the Park Service. Can you tell us more about each of these goals? Emily: I enjoy writing nonfiction because it reminds me that some of the most beautiful, surreal parts of this world are not fantasy at all. In my uncensored thoughts and notes, I tend to anthropomorphize and sometimes I think of myself and the human experience as separate from the rest of the world. I know it's illogical, but sometimes that's where thoughts go. So, nonfiction is like an exercise for me. It helps me get into a more scientific mindset because it involves research, fact-checking, testing ideas, collaborating with experts - all are good ways to learn something new and get out of your own head for a while.
Writing for the National Park Service is one of my dreams. When I was young, my mom and grandparents would take us to national parks each summer. When we saw a roadside sign or exhibit, we would stop for a stretch and read and wonder together. These are the greatest memories I have. This is why I treasure our national parks and monuments and why I hope to one day write a piece (or more!) with the NPS. But, it's also something I need to work on. I have taken some interpretive writing courses, written out a list of possible avenues for these kind of writing projects, sent out a few probing messages to organizations that contract with the parks, but I haven't quite hit the target.
There's a Sesame Street bit that talks about "the power of yet." It just hasn't happened yet.
Well, I guess you can tell I live with a toddler. I'm referencing Sesame Street in adult conversations. Oh my.
Other than writing a few magazine pitches and an article here and there, I'm about as green as they get when it comes to writing nonfiction for children. I'm actually considering taking your nonfiction class on the subject this spring, because I think I could benefit from understanding the market better. In the end, though, I know I need to write and write a lot! I'm not doing the best job of that right now. But, I'm really great at rejection - ha! - and learning from feedback, so I'm well on my way.
Our Winter Flash Fiction Contest is OPEN.
For details and entry, visit our contest page.
I have always been a big believer in lists. Grocery lists. Chore lists. Guest lists. Gift lists. And yes,
writing lists. Because writing encompasses so many things the lists can get long: ideas of things to write about, assignments to finish, things to read, research to do, proposals to send out, edits to complete. The list never (and I mean never) seems to get any shorter not matter how many things I would complete and cross off of it. The lists in the other parts of my life feel helpful but lately I've been noticing that I don't feel that way about my writing lists. Instead, they make me feel overwhelmed and hopeless. What was going wrong?
According to several organization experts, I've let my lists get too long. Apparently, priorities are an important part of effective lists. Yes, it's OK to have a grocery list that is a page long. Not so much with a to-do list. Most recommend that a daily list have only three things on it.
Imagine that! Three things. I could definitely get three things done in a day. But what about all those other things beyond the three? Have three lists:
Daily list: three things to do that day. Make sure you're realistic about time frames. "Edit my first draft" should never be on a daily list. This is not something you could do in one day. Instead try something like "Edit 10 pages of my first draft" Your daily list should be something you can accomplish in one day so break big jobs down into manageable chunks.
Soon list: list of things that should make it on to your daily list in the next week.
Someday list: you want to do them, you should do them, but the world won't stop if you don't get to them until next week, next month, maybe even next year. I feel like this list is more to make you feel secure that you won't forget something you want to do but not putting any pressure on you to do it tomorrow.
In order for this to work you can't spend time agonizing over the lists. Each night you should make up the daily list for the next day. I've found using post-its is helpful since they are already small -- you can't squeeze more than three things on the list. Plus there's the added bonus of being able to stick it to your computer, bulletin board, kitchen cabinet...wherever works for you. You should mull over your weekly list, adding things and crossing things off just once a week. Again pick a predictable time -- for me Sunday nights work.
Last is the Someday list. You're going to be tempted to take it out and stare at it, count the number of things, maybe even get a little depressed that so many things are on it. Stop that! You can take it out to add something to it but don't take time to study it. Just make your additions and lock it back up in it's desk drawer or computer file. Once a month you can take it out to refresh your memory so you don't forget anything. Just don't forget to tell yourself that "someday" is a long time so even if this list is long that's OK.
I'm still tempted to add just one more thing to my daily list or pull out my longer lists "just to look them over". But I've been resisting those urges and sticking to my daily list. And I definitely feel like I'm accomplishing more in the long run (no more avoiding writing and those impossibly long lists). Try it and tell me if it works for you!
Growing up I loved this song and it's empowering words by Aaron Tippin "You've Got to Stand for Something or You'll Fall for Anything".
Let me give you a little backstory before I begin: I love social media and I avoid getting into debates. I actually have a strong opinion on everything from infant carseats to politics, but I don't feel social media is a good place for me to get into conversations about anything controversial. Social media is my happy place. Without it, I can say I would be lonely since I spend most days on the farm, behind my computer, or caring for babies. That said, I've seen a lot on social media when it comes to politics, the recent Presidential Election, President Obama's farewell, and just yesterday, the Women's March. This post isn't about any particular position on these happenings. This is just a quick explanation of how these happenings prompted me to do something fabulous for myself!
There's plenty of speculation about political positions, ulterior motives, and questions about what people stand for. I like to be informed. I like my children to be informed.
In my quest for information, I came across a great website for at least one of the aforementioned Women's March on Washington was incredibly well thought out and the Mission, Vision, and Organization was well done. While reading through the information I could only think of the individual women behind these well written statements. It reminded me of the importance of my own mission and vision in life. I wrote them years ago and my intent was to let them guide me through life to help me stay on course.
Unfortunately, life got busy and I forgot about them a few years in. I've decided I need to get back on track and the first step is to revisit my own purposeful statements of Mission and Vision. Of course, I'm a share-ee type person, so I recommend you revisit your own, or create your very own life statements. Don't worry, I'm not going to stop at that simple recommendation.
There are some great websites to help you build your very own Mission statement for yourself, your team, or your family. When I wrote my initial statements, I used the Franklin Covey website and if you are starting from scratch, you can head there for all the help you'll need.
Since many of you have writing skills of your own, you'll be able to build some amazing statements to help guide you through 2017 and beyond. The questions are:
Where will you keep your Mission Statement?
Who will you share your Mission Statement with?
How often will you revision your Mission Statement?
How will you use your Mission Statement to keep your writing on course?
Who will be your Mission Statement accountability partner?
Those are all very personal questions you'll have to navigate on your own. Feel free to share if you'd like, but I do have a few questions I'd like you to answer in the comments of this post:
If you have a Mission or Vision Statement in place, what prompted you to write it? How do you use it? How could you use it better?
If you don't have a Mission or Vision Statement, why not? What's holding you back?
If you are moving forward with creating a Mission or Vision Statement after reading this article, may I ask what it was that spoke to you personally?
What is your intention with your completed statement?
Thanks as always for spending a few moments with me today! You are absolutely wonderful! As you build your statements, go ahead and belt out a few verses with Aaron Tippin because well, you know...You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything! (I still tend to fall for silly jokes, but I also stand for a lot of things too! Carry on!)
Crystal is a church musician and secretary, 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 9, Andre 8, Breccan 3, and Delphine 1), 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 at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
When she's not doing that, she's baking bread and cookies for her friends and neighbors. She says "the coffee is always hot and you're always welcome here!"
Size DOES Matter--There Are Times When Shrinkage is a GOOD Thing
Posted by Sioux Roslawski at 2:30 AM
Okay, so I'm working on a manuscript. A historical novel for middle grades. I began it on November 1st as a NaNoWriMo project that I did, surrounded by my middle-schoolers. They wrote every day. I wrote every most days.
Let me introduce myself. Hi, I'm Sioux and I'm a slacker. It's been 32 days since my last revision.
I checked on my revision history on my NaNo piece, and I haven't done a single solitary thing with that WIP since December 19. Part of why I'm in a rut is my fault. I'm wallowing in a I'm-stuck-and-I-can't-get-back-up attitude. Part of it is someone else's fault. (There’s a person who has access to a crucial primary document. I've called repeatedly and left messages. I've emailed him even more repeatedly. Short of physically stalking him--he's in D.C.--I'm at a loss.)
In the meantime, there is something I can do… I can shrink down my manuscript, so I can see the whole forest instead of just the individual trees. This can be done in a few, simple steps, but it will take some time.
Make your margins as small as you can. The font, too. 8-font will allow you to still read it. Single-space it. This will result in a 200-page manuscript getting reduced to 30-50 pages.
Spread out the pages. If you live in a tiny “starter” house like I do, you might have to do this in sections. If you have a large open space that you can block off from snooping spouses, galloping dogs and curious cats, you can lay out the whole thing.
Choose some things you’re going to look for. I’m going to check on some character threads. I have some real-life characters who appear in the beginning in a minor way, and then in the end I plan on tying them into what happened. I want to make sure there is an occasional mention of them in the middle, so the reader doesn’t think, ‘Whoa, who is this?’ at the end. Using a highlighter, perhaps I’ll color those parts green.
Getting mired into the history and ignoring the characters is also a concern. I want to track
the inner dialogue of the main character, to make sure those moments are evenly
interspersed. Maybe with my highlighter, I’ll color those parts blue.
photo by katemessner.com
Humor, too. My piece focuses on a dark subject, a bit of our history that should cause us a
lot of shame… and yet it’s not well-known and it’s not in any history books. Occasionally,
I'm going to need a little levity to lighten things up. I think I’m going to mark all the funny parts pink.
I remember a while long time ago, a blogger friend (Margo Dill? Mary Horner?) wrote about this technique. I was reminded of it last night when a group of teacher-writer friends met. We’re reading Kate Messner’s Real Revision (it’s on page 72-73) and it hit me upside my head. I should do this. It would get me doing something, and maybe pull me out of my rut.
Darcy Pattison, another writer, has some guidelines that she uses. She calls it the
All this revision talk makes me curious. What revision tricks do you have up your sleeve? Stuck-in-a-rut minds want to know...
Sioux Roslawski is a St. Louis freelance writer, a member of the infamous WWWP writing critique group, a dog rescuer for Love a Golden Rescue, a wife, a mother of two, a grandmother of one and a middle-school teacher. Like many educators, she delights in great ink pens, Sharpies, highlighters and free Krispy Kremes in the teachers' lounge. If you'd like to read more of Sioux's stuff. go to Sioux's Page.
Friday Speak Out!: To All Those Who Have Lost Their Creative Thinking Caps
Posted by MP at 1:00 AM
by Jenna Brandon
We've all been there. You sit down to write. You expect the words to flow, knocking down everything on their way, but the writing just...well, it just doesn't happen. It is not a shame to admit that time has come to fill your creative thinking tank with some fuel. In fact, I have never heard of writers who churn out novel after novel and never face a writer's block.
Some writers prefer to listen to music or exercise in order to deal with this writing paralysis. Some meditate or simply have a glass of wine to distract and boost creativity. These are all good tried and tested methods, and they do work, but what else can you do to help your mind get creative?
1. Exposing yourself to some kind of absurdity allows to unlock your subconsciousness and stimulates non-trivial thinking. Therefore, one of the ways to get rid of the writer's block is to experience something absurd. You may want to visit a contemporary art gallery, read a book like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard (my favorite) or even famous Alice in Wonderland, or listen to some cosmic music.
Apart from that, there's one absurd technique that is supposed to boost your out-of-the-box thinking. All you need to do is find a big box and sit near it. Yes, literally sit outside the box. If anyone did it, please let others know in the comments – I really wonder if that works.
2. Another thing that helps me come up with original ideas is taking pictures. Whenever I feel like i need to recharge my writing batteries, I go out and just wander the streets with my camera. I helps me notice small things I would have missed otherwise, concentrate on details, and link many different ideas together. Photography works for me personally, but you can find your inspiration in cooking, painting, or doing crafts.
3. Mark Banschick, a famous psychologist, suggests equipping your very own creativity room (or creativity corner for small apartments). It should be a place where you can unleash your imagination, paint on walls, laugh, dance, dream, and create. I do have a whiteboard for brainstorming and a corner where I put pictures and sketches, and my brain automatically turns on its creative mode when I surround myself with such things.
Albert Einstein once said: “Creativity is intelligence having fun”. I couldn't agree more. The best ideas are born when you set yourself free and open up to all the fun and excitement of the world. Do not be afraid to play, listen to yourself, and let your mind wander. Savor the life and creativity will find you!
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Jenna Brandon is a blogger, content writer, and editor at Writology.com. She’s on a never-ending quest for excellence in writing and photography.When she is not writing or taking pictures, she travels the world together with her husband.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Would you like to participate inFriday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
Brainstorming: Consistently Generating New Ideas Pays Off
Posted by Sue Bradford Edwards at 1:00 AM
Throughout the month of January, I’m taking part in an idea generation challenge called Storystorm. Participating writers agree to come up with 30 new ideas in 30 days. The ideas can be for picture books, adult novels, magazine articles or whatever you write.
While I’m never entirely without ideas, I have to admit that the first few days were a challenge. Yes, I came up with an idea a day but it was a struggle. Still, I read the blog posts, scrolled through photos on Pixabay, and piddled around until I came up with my daily idea.
I’d often heard the advice that sitting down to write on a regular basis opens a creative tap. Sit down to write 10 minutes a day and for the first few weeks those ten minutes may be torture. But eventually the words will come more easily and you’ll find yourself writing for 15 or 20 minutes. Before you know it, you’re writing two pages at a time.
I’m here to tell you that the same thing applies to brainstorming. Not only is coming up with my daily idea much easier this late in the month but I often come up with more than one idea per day. During shavasana in yoga one day, I came up with not one idea but nine. Granted that wasn’t great for my shavasana, a pose that is supposed to be a time of relaxing meditation, but it was amazing for my idea list.
Brainstorming regularly is also paying off in terms of my problem projects. I’ve been beating my head against a novel for quite a while now. About a week ago, I got out my outline and realized that the ending just did not work. And the beginning? Awful. Horrid. I gave up. I dramatically announced it to my family. I told my critique group.
And the next day while I was on the treadmill the PERFECT opening scene popped into my head. Yes, I still need to fix the ending but the new beginning? It contains the solution for a lot of the pacing problems, it notches up the stakes, and more. I only have two pages written so far but that’s two pages more than I had before I quit.
Brainstorming. It’s definitely a good practice to develop and I’m going to be doing it long after the challenge ends on January 31st. I may not need 365+ new story ideas in one year, but it seems to be shaking loose a range of creative energy. Who can say no to that?
Accomplish Your 2017 Writing Goals With this Perfect Solution!
Posted by Cathy C. Hall at 3:30 AM
So I was about to toss a bag when I realized it had something inside, a small chalkboard with “Prayer Requests” written across the top. I get a lot of prayer requests but I am forever forgetting them. I looked at that board and thought how serendipitously perfect!
I just needed to find a spot for the chalkboard. And as I walked from room to room, I had another revelation: I had to put the chalkboard in a place where I’d see it all the time. So I headed straight to the kitchen because the door to the garage is off my kitchen. My lovely screened porch and deck is there, too. And fine, I’ll admit it, I’m a grazer. So there sits my chalkboard on the kitchen counter and literally dozens of times a day, I pray for friends and family. No more forgetting all those requests!
And then one morning, shortly after New Year’s, I passed my chalkboard and thought what if I put my writing goals someplace where I’d see them all the time?
Because if you’re the goal-driven type like me, I’ll bet you write down a goal—or goals—in a journal or even a daily list. (I’ve done that.) Or you type ‘em up and print ‘em out and post the list near your desk. (Done that, too.) And still, I don’t accomplish my goals. Not because I’m incredibly lazy. (I am a bit lazy.) Or that I’ve gone overboard with the whole goal-listing. (Though I can sometimes have unrealistic expectations.) But mostly, because I just forget my goals. (Yeah, it’s embarrassing.)
So now, instead of writing up my daily To Do list and leaving it on my bedside table, I carry it around with me. It travels with me to my desk first thing in the morning. I’ll bring it downstairs and set it on the—where else?—kitchen counter. It may join me on the table next to my big comfy chair when I’m watching my favorite show. And finally, it will end up next to my bed, where I’ll happily see that I’ve almost always checked off all the goals!
It’s a writer breakthrough, y’all! We’re not lazy! We’re not unmotivated! We’re just forgetful!
So maybe you have just one major writing goal you’d like to accomplish this year. List it on a BANNER and put it somewhere you’ll see it multiple times a day. Sure, it might annoy you—but that nagging banner will get you working on actionable little goals to achieve the big goal. Or if you’re like me, an inveterate To Do lister, give the portable list a try.
It’s such a simple solution. Put your goals where you’ll see them all the time, then watch out! You’re going to accomplish more in 2017 than you ever imagined. It’s perfect!
Shelley Wood is a medical journalist and aspiring fiction writer. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Antigonish Review, Room, the Nashwaak Review, the New Quarterly, carte blanche, F(r)iction, the Cobalt Review, and Bath Flash Fiction. In 2016, she won the Tethered by Letters F(r)iction contest and the Frank McCourt prize for Creative Nonfiction. She divides her time between a job in New York City, and a man and dog in Kelowna, Canada. Find her at shelleywood.ca and on Twitter as @shelleywood2.
interview by Marcia Peterson
WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Summer 2016 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest? Shelley:I read a blog post listing some of the best flash fiction contests and WOW was one of them so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I’ve only really started paying attention to flash fiction in the past year and I love the challenge of telling a small, surprising, story in so few words. I’m a terrible poet, but I like to think flash fiction is helping me get closer. Also, any spare time I’ve had for fiction-writing these days has gone into a new draft of my novel-in-progress, which feels so sprawling and unwieldy. It was a real pleasure to take a break and work on something tiny and tight.
Shelley: I attended the funeral and reception for a friend’s father earlier in the year, which was moving and sad. At the end of the evening some of us stood around swapping quirky memories about funerals and loved ones we’ve had to say goodbye to, the kind of thing you do to raise the spirits of those grieving—everyone standing around laughing softly and wiping at their eyes. My friend told the story of his late father attending a funeral years earlier of a man with the same name. It made me want to write something that captured the same mix of sorrow, loneliness, introspection, and zany coincidence. The looming WOW deadline was impetus to try.
WOW: What key elements do you think make a great piece of flash fiction?
Shelley: The best flash fiction I’ve read includes minimal shifts of scene, an absolutely consistent voice, and ideally a single pivotal character. I’ve had three flash fiction stories published and what I’ve realized is that all three are character studies that twist abruptly at the end, ideally bringing the reader back to some element of the story she’d passed over earlier without realizing how much that detail mattered.
Also, I’m a sucker for really precise language that can capture a gesture or a scene in as few words as possible and make it seem sharp and simple. Done poorly, this just looks verbose and showy, but when I see it done well, it’s like a compact, sparkling jewel.
WOW: So what’s it like dividing your time between New York City and Canada? You must have favorite things about each place.
Shelley: It is amazing—I’m lucky to have the job I do—although it makes for a lot of to-and-fro across the continent. I love the big-city feel of New York, walking through busy streets to get to my office in a part of town where I couldn’t afford rent if I actually lived there full-time. The energy and rush of the city, the diversity, the food and theatre, the layers and layers of life: it’s amazing.
In Canada, I live in a small-ish city in the interior of British Columbia with mountains and a lake, and most important, my husband and dog. As much as I love running the reservoir in Central Park, I’ll take a rocky trail in the Coastal mountains any day of the week.
WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Shelley. Before you go, can you share a favorite writing tip or piece of advice?
Shelley: Read writing tips and advice! Every time I read those “Top 10 Tips from Successful Writers” I realize everyone struggles with the same problems and the same crushing self-doubt. The ones who succeed push all that aside, put their heads down, and work hard to get better.
Our Winter Flash Fiction Contest is OPEN
For details and entry, visit our contest page.