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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

 

Scary Good

Happy Halloween! Was there any doubt I would write about my favorite scary literature on this special day?

But first, a word on the chilling and eerie. I’m a horror lover by nature. I always gravitated towards the paranormal as a child and, by the time I was in high school, I sat at the back of my classes and read Stephen King novels - not in English, of course. Though the amount of gore I can stomach varies year to year, my love of all things scary, mysterious, dark and horrifying has never changed.

Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley
Let me start with a few classics. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Edgar Allan Poe, the “father” of the macabre. He delves into psychological horror with The Tell-Tale Heart, Cask of Amontillado, and his famous poem The Raven. I mean, the man lost both women he ever loved to tuberculosis, so we can hardly blame him for his twisted tales. But he weaves stories that deal with our deepest fears: intense guilt, the paranormal, and being buried alive. His unreliable narrators are often mad, which only ups the insanity. Shirley Jackson gives a more modern take on the macabre with her less-paranormal horror short stories, like The Lottery. If you’re looking for a longer classic, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein gives you a monster, his creator, and a tragically scary story that you’ll never forget.

Scary Stories Artwork

If you’re more young-adult literature oriented, try reading The Witches by Roald Dahl, where a boy discovers that witches plan on turning all children into mice. It may sound tame, but these witches are particularly mean and merciless – even to children. I also must mention the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, which terrified me as a child. I have a memory of it lying face-up on my floor one night, the pale white of the twisted face on the cover staring up at me. I catapulted out of bed, grabbed it with the tips of my fingers to avoid too much contact, and threw it out into the hallway. It’s that scary.

And then, of course, there are the horror masters like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, and Clive Barker. My life would not be the same were it not for Needful Things and The Stand. I faced my severe clown phobia and read It, only to conclude that I would never get over my coulrophobia. The Taking by Dean Koontz is one of the most fascinating and horrifying looks at the second coming I’ve ever encountered, and Interview with a Vampire only solidified my intense fear and fascination with vampires.

I can’t write horror. I wish I could. But I can worship those writers who make me look over my shoulder at night, race up the basement stairs when the lights are off and I’m by myself, and huddle under my covers as my mind imagines every scary thing that haunts my bedroom.

So Happy Halloween horror lovers everywhere. Hope it’s the scariest one yet!



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, October 30, 2018

 

Interivew With Janelle Franz, Runner Up in the Spring 2018 Flash Fiction Contest

Janelle Franz is a graduate of Northern Michigan University where she earned her BA in English/Writing. Her poem “The Barnburner” was a recipient of the Legler Memorial Poetry Prize. On her website, she enjoys exploring elements of the writing craft and inventive thinking. Originally from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she currently lives in the greater Grand Rapids area. She loves swing dancing, family, a good cup of coffee, and a great story.

If you haven’t taken the time to read “As for Adventure,” treat yourself to this story about a young woman who is challenging herself to be adventurous.

WOW: What was the inspiration for your story “As for Adventure”?

Janelle: Life can put us situations that we don’t expect and scare us, but we always have a choice. In my story, Alethea and Henri were both faced with some difficult decisions as events continued to unfold. People who make hard choices, even when the outcome is unknown, inspire me.

WOW: Flash fiction is so spare. For example, you only hint at the relationship, or lack thereof, between Alethea and Henri. How do you decide what details to include and what to leave out?

Janelle: When I read a story, I hunger for the clues that indicate who the character is beneath the surface. I enjoy flash fiction because every word bears a lot of weight, and, just like real life, silence can sometimes speak louder than words. Writing Henri was challenging for me, but in the end, I kept the details that pointed to pieces of his past, heart, and conflicted motives because they were most relevant to the story. If a detail doesn’t add to the story, it takes away.

WOW: If it doesn’t add, it subtracts. Definitely something to keep in mind. Creating a satisfying ending is so hard to do. What advice do you have for writers who are new to this form? How did you know where to end “As for Adventure”?

Janelle: The key to end, at least for me, was when Alethea shifted from following Henri’s lead to taking a path of her own. There was a debate in my critique group about whether or not Alethea survived the swim to the shore. For me, she became a survivor the moment she made her decision, and all else was secondary. For writers looking for the ending, look at your character and see how they’re different from who they were at the beginning. That’s a good indicator for whether or not you’re close to the finish line.

WOW: I never thought of using that to help define where to end a story.  What a helpful tip! One of the things that I hear a lot of editors comment on is the lack of setting in people’s stories. What advice can you give our readers about creating a rock solid setting for their stories like you did in “As for Adventure”?

Janelle: I worked on Presque Isle when I was in college, so I had a lot of memories to draw from to help me paint that picture. But setting is much more than a location, and it should never be idle. Whether you’re creating a story from a familiar place or dreaming up a new one in your mind, give your setting a voice in your story. Everything - a rock, a wave, a thistle - can speak in its own way. Concrete, mindful details create clear images and add depth to writing.

WOW: Your bio says that you like to explore inventive thinking. Can you tell us what that is and how it relates to writing?

Janelle: I love to look at what is and simultaneously imagine what could be. My daughter made a phone out of a hot dog bun at dinner tonight. That’s inventive thinking. Invention is a discovery or finding. A productive imagination. A process or device originated after study or experiment. The act of inventing.

I believe it’s at the heart of writing. We write to discover, to meet someone new, to scale unfathomable heights and to solve problems through uncharted terrain. Sometimes the terrain is a rocky cliff, and other times it’s the salt molecules of a mother’s tear. When I write a story, the joy is in inventing it, and I love encouraging others to do the same.

WOW: Discovery is definitely a theme you hold close both in encouraging your fellow writers and in your stories. Thank you for sharing your story and these ideas with us!

Interview conducted by Sue Bradford Edwards. 

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Monday, October 29, 2018

 

But first ...

A writer-friend thanked me recently for my quick and thorough response to her request for book cover suggestions. She was impressed at how organized and efficient I was in responding within her limited time frame. How did I do it? Well, it was easy. I was supposed to be doing something else!

Right now, I'm composing this blog post because I should be grading papers and editing a short story to read at my critique group. And when I have a deadline for a poetry or short story submission, I usually write my blog post, read a book chapter, empty the dishwasher, or throw in a load of laundry. I call this the "But, first ... " syndrome. I developed it in college, and as a writer, teacher and mother with more due dates than an obstetrician's office, I have perfected the technique through years of practice.

I always have something to do, and it's never just one, two, or three things. My to-do list seems to grow and grow, and although I do manage to get through it eventually, I often organize it so I can accomplish the most in the least amount of time.

When I'm writing, I might think, But first, I can throw in a load of laundry while I'm working. What happens sometimes is that on my way to the laundry room, I see dirty dishes in the sink, and believe it will only take a minute to load them. When I open the dishwasher, I realize these dishes are clean, But first, I need to empty it. After I empty it, the dog wants to go out, and I can defrost some meat for dinner, But first, I need to pay some bills. By this time, I've forgotten about my original task.

I recently read an article about a writer who decided to focus on writing. He said he stopped practicing his elevator pitch and marketing to anyone who would listen because he didn't enjoy it. He would live his life his life as a writer because that's what he loved. The other stuff might come later. For now, he would focus on writing. That's all.

Sounds so simple, almost to the point of being ridiculous. But it struck a chord with me. To combat these never-ending distractions, I decided to turn the process upside down and change my priorities. Now, when I need to clean something, buy groceries or cook dinner, I think, But first, I need to write.


Mary Horner is the author of Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, and teaches communications.

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

 

NaNo... Again

NaNoWriMo is almost upon us... again. I don't know how many years I've tried it. I do know how many unfinished manuscripts I have because of NaNoWriMo: three. Here is a history lesson for you, boys and girls, to fill you in on why I'm doing NaNo 2018 and how I'm doing it Sioux-style.




2012? 2013? 2014? (I don't remember the year)
It took longer than a month, I think. However, just like the chemicals that are released in a woman's body after a baby's born so the mother doesn't recall how excruciating labor pains are, perhaps the completion of this manuscript brought about some powerful magic, causing the details to become wispy and unclear. Finished, it was more than 50,000 words. It was real. And it was spectacular. A spectacular hot mess. A memoir, thinly disguised as a novel, it served a purpose.

To me, it was more valuable than if it had been snatched up by a publisher and resulted in a James Patterson-level contract. Well, perhaps that's not completely true but since I never submitted it and even if I did it would never get published by anyone, I have to look at the positives that do exist.

In the middle of writing it, I found a way to forgive a family member who had committed an atrocity against me. I daydreamed a dream sequence for my main character and instantly, I forgave my brother. Since I had been filled with bitterness and schemes of revenge for years, I consider my soon-to-be-dusty manuscript invaluable since it led me to peace and forgiveness.

2016
Every school day in November I sat next to my students and wrote. In the span of that one month a little more than a couple of months I told the whole story, but since it was a manuscript for middle-grade kids, I thought 25,000 words would be the perfect length.

It was a historical novel, and the event meant a great deal to me. I was invested in it. And I was jazzed. It was ready to get snapped up and published. It was perfect laughable to think that it was a polished piece.

2017
Again, every day in November I wrote with my students. Again, a historical novel for middle grades. Again, I didn't finish it in one month, but I got more words down than I would have if I had not done NaNoWriMo. I'm quite invested in this story as well, because of the subject and because it features one of my former students as a main character.

This one needs more work fictionalizing it than my 2016 one. It's still not finished, but it intrigues me because it's a mash-up between 1955 and 2017.

Spring of 2018
I bit the bullet and paid to get my manuscript (from 2016) edited. Fabulous editor. Crappy manuscript. Taking her advice, I started almost from scratch and currently, I have 43,000 words. The end is within my sight. (I plan on finishing up at close to 50,000.)

2018
If I followed the rules of NaNo, I would begin with 0 words on November 1, which is just a few days away, and begin a new project. However, if I did that, I'd have a 4th unfinished manuscript, and there's no way I want that many future doorstops.

So, what I've planned is to work on is my 2016 WIP until it's finished. I hope that before NaNo is over on November 30, I will have finished that draft and will have time to work on my 2017 manuscript. (Unfortunately, I cannot revise while I'm surrounded by students, so perhaps I will revise my 2016 project after school and during school I can work on my 2017.)

So boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen--if you're tempted to do NaNoWriMo, do it. True, you may not get to the 50,000-word finish line, but then again, you might. And if you fall short, you will still have gotten down a bunch of words and perhaps you've learned how to turn off your internal editor ... which is one of the main things a writer learns when they do NaNo.

Good luck (and let me know if you're doing NaNoWriMo).

Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher. In  her spare time she reads, writes and rescues golden retrievers. In a few days she's going to have her eyes glued to her computer screen and her rear end glued to her chair so she can write fast and furiously for NaNoWriMo... and she'd love some company.

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

 

Adding Beats: Meaningful Actions that Move Your Story Along

As I draft my first adult novel, I find myself wondering if enough is going on. Each scene has a goal and, while I manage to either meet it or redirect the action, I suspect that sometimes it is all too linear. My main character does X. A secondary character gets in her way or lends a hand and together they do Y. They succeed or fail and the goal of the next scene is Z.

But is it enough? Or do I need to add additional beats?

A beat is an action. The more beats you include in a story the faster paced it may seem. May seem? The key is to include beats that are meaningful.

We’ve all read the advice to include beats. Many of us have even read the advice to substitute an action beat for a dialogue tag. Not sure what I mean? Here’s a line of dialogue with a tag:

“Get off my back,” Toni said. “I’m not signing it.”

Here’s the same dialogue with an action beat.

“Get off my back.” Toni looked at him. “I’m not signing it.”

“Looked” may be an action beat but it isn’t a meaningful action. It is just filler, a trite activity. Anyone who uses looked or glanced has, according to freelance editor and author Deborah Halverson, missed the opportunity to reveal something about their character (see her post here). I would also add that a beat can drive the story forward or foreshadow a future event.

Here is the same dialogue with three different beats.

Beat #1:  “Get off my back.” Toni clicked the ball point again and again. “I’m not signing it.”

Beat #2:  “Get off my back.” With one hand, Toni tapped the pen on the edge of the table. The fingers of her other hand drummed a second, complicated rhythm. “I’m not signing it.”

Beat #3:  “Get off my back.” Toni wadded up the confession, palming the paperclip. “I’m not signing it.”

Which is best? It depends on the story. If Toni is high strung and nervous, Beat #1 reveals that through a nervous habit. Want to tell readers something about Toni, perhaps that she is a drummer? You can show that with Beat #2. Is Toni going to need the paperclip to pick a lock? Then Beat #3 not only provides action, it moves the story forward and foreshadows future events.

Meaningless beats run the risk of slowing your story with trite activities. To move your story forward, use action beats that detail emotion, reveal something about the character, or foreshadow an upcoming event.

--SueBE

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 November 12th, 2018.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

 

Friday Speak Out!: No Appearance is an Island

by Blaise Ramsay

Has this ever happened to you? You're sitting at a table on a Saturday morning in the middle of Barnes & Noble, yet it doesn't appear like anyone is interested?

As authors we can get discouraged when sitting at a signing and it appears no one is coming up to see us or avoids eye contact the moment we look in their direction.

Why? Is it something we said?

Quite the opposite! It's what you aren't saying!

Now, you're probably thinking "I'm afraid to come off as too sales-y" or "I'm shy with approaching people." The truth is, readers are thermometers for enthusiasm and confidence. They can either catch or not see them a mile away.

A hard truth, not all events end in massive book sales. Some may not at all and that can be upsetting.

But! There's hope! It's not the end of the world. Promise!

The trick is finding ways to benefit from your signing other than for just selling books. Often, readers head into book stores knowing what they're looking for. They might not even know they want your book!

Here are five things you can do to make the most out of these signings without selling a single book but still benefiting from them:

Start up a conversation - People love to engage with engaging people who are interested in what they're interested in. Don't bash them with "Buy my book" right out of the starting gate. Greet them and ask how they're doing first. They may want to talk or in some cases need to.

• Don't sit behind your table - That's one thing that's an immediate deterrent for many. Authors who're sitting with their heads down or looking at their phones can indicate they don't really care to be there. Get on your feet and shake some hands. You're missing your readers!

• Take a guestbook - Many readers like to sign up for lists who offer something in return. This can be an eBook, template, contest, etc. It's a great networking tool and can help build lasting relationships. Don't forget your book swag! Readers love those too!

• Be Approachable - There's professional and there's approachable. It all depends on your target audience. If an author has a deep scowl on their face, odds are readers aren't going to stop and chat. Keep that smile, they might just need one that day.

• Be Willing to Listen - So many times, our readers want to talk about how they wanted to write but are too scared to or want to share an experience. They may need encouragement to pursue their ideas or ask some questions. This builds trust and shows them you care.

Not selling can be disheartening but it doesn't have to be the only benefit from live events. Invest time and energy in your readers, build your brand and in time, they will invest their time in you!

* * *
Fyresyde owner and creative entrepreneur Blaise Ramsay is the indie published author of the paranormal romance Blessing of Luna. When she's not writing for herself, she's a full-time ghostwriter and freelancer, blogger, mom, and wife.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bramsayauthor
Website: https://fyresydepublishing.com/
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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Thursday, October 25, 2018

 

How to Fit Writing into a Busy Lifestyle

Meal planning gives me more time to write.

As I’ve entered a new season in my writing life (working 30 hours a week and trying to juggle the demands and activities of two kids who never seem to stop), I’ve had to make some changes in my life to help me maintain my productivity. I’ve also begun to transition from writing freelance magazine and newspaper articles to working on the craft of writing fiction of all lengths. But even with a packed schedule I’ve managed to produce several short stories in the past year and polished up a YA novel that’s been sitting on my computer for years. Sometimes people ask how I manage to fit it all in. It’s not easy, and it requires a fair amount of juggling.

Here are a few tips for staying productive when your life is an endless cycle of “get up and go.”

Meal Planning
I embarked on a journey last year to shed some unwanted pounds and clean up my diet. My result is that I feel better now than I have in years. This requires weekly and sometimes bi-weekly grocery shopping and meal planning on my part, but I have to do it keep my mind and body working efficiently. On the weekends, I roughly sketch out four or five dinners for the next week and check my pantry to see what ingredients I need. I do my shopping on Saturdays or Sundays, and also make batches of muffins, mason jar salads, and soups that my entire family can use for their lunches. I pack my lunch almost every day for work, and many times during the week I use a slow cooker so dinner is ready when we get home. This gives me more time in the evenings to focus on writing projects.

Divide Up the Household Chores
While I wish we had the money for a cleaning service, it’s not something our family has prioritized at this time. Instead, I came up with a plan to get the kids to pitch in more. They both have phones, and they have to do specific chores each week or the phones will go “on vacation” until they are completed. I made up coupons for specific tasks and created envelopes for my son and daughter. They each have to do the dishes four times each week, clean their bedrooms and bathrooms once a week, and dust separate living areas in the house. If they want to earn extra money, they can do that by selecting a coupon for vacuuming, walking the dogs, preparing a meal, cleaning windows, etc. While they don’t do the “extra” chores very often because they are busy, it helps me out tremendously to know their living areas upstairs are tidied up each week.

Watch Less TV
Yes, I said it. I am a total TV junkie (crime shows are my favorite) but I’ve had to cut back in the past year. I DVR my favorite shows and binge them when I have downtime, but that only happens every couple of weeks. We don’t subscribe to any movie channels on cable because there’s not a lot of time to watch them. I try to get in at least 1-2 hours each evening putting together my agent wish list, revising drafts or researching submissions and that takes priority and it helps me stay productive.

And sometimes, I have to forego the writing and cut myself some slack. When I start to feel run down and have the urge to sit on my couch, binge watch "This is Us" and eat pizza, I do it. It makes me a much better writer (and person) when I take the break I deserve.

So there you have it. These tips aren’t a magic solution, but they help keep me sane. They also keep me from eating take-out every day and fussing over a messy home. I’ve been pleased with the amount of work I’ve been able to finish since I implemented many of these changes and hope some of them will help you, too!

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer, marketing director at a nonprofit theatre company, and busy mom to two kids ages 12 and 15. Learn more about Renee at FinishedPages.com.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

 

Getting the Setting Details Right in Your Fiction

I've recently been researching different items from the late 80s and early 90s. No, I don't mean the 1880s or 1890s--but 25 to 30 years ago in the 1980s and 1990s for my current work-in-progress. And it's so fun to take a trip down memory lane to my college years. My current manuscript tells the story of a woman who is trying to figure out who she is after having her life consumed by a narcissistic man and an alcoholic sister, and that part of the story takes place in 2006. But to understand her and her story, I decided to set several chapters back in college and the "new adult" years (1989-1994).

For example, the other day, I wrote a chapter about my character, Gwen, wanting to veg out and watch some TV. If I set the story today, I would, of course, turn to Netflix or Hulu, but this scene was set in 1993 and summer. So, I googled (my best friend when first researching is always Google) TV shows in 1992 and 1993, and a list of some of my favorites popped up, including Quantum Leap, Northern Exposure and Cheers. I decided Gwen recorded on VHS several episodes of Northern Exposure because her roommate and she watched it all the time--early binge-watching--and I even referred to the actors as the men she wished her boyfriend was like.

Another time, I wrote a paragraph about my main character's sister, sitting in her bean bag on the floor, playing with a Rubik's Cube and watching Gwen talk on the phone with the cord wrapping around a chair. Someone from my writing group said, "If that's not a 90's paragraph, I don't know what is."

When I wrote my historical fiction novel, Finding My Place, set during the Civil War in Vicksburg, Mississippi, I knew that I would have to include several historical details to set the scene and make the characters' lives authentic. But when writing this women's fiction novel, I didn't realize that I would have to "research" so much. It's not really thought of as historical fiction when we set the book in the '80s and '90s, but it actually is. It's important to set the scene in any book, but especially if you are not setting it in contemporary times, without overdoing the description. It's also important to make sure that modern technology doesn't sneak its way in.

In 1865 historical fiction, my 13-year-old main character isn't using a phone or watching TV, so I didn't have to worry about technology sneaking in too soon. But with my current WIP, I'm constantly wondering: what type of cell phone would they have? Would they even have a cell phone yet? How much would a person text if they were using a flip phone as opposed to how much we text with smartphones? And in one scene, my character had to have a camera--remember those days when we used to have to get our photos developed?

It's been fun writing during this time period, but like all research, I have to be careful not to get sucked into the research, remembering shows and movies, looking at 80's fashion and reminiscing about rushing home to see who called and left a message while I was gone.

The important thing I'm realizing is that with any work of fiction, writers have to pick out the details that set the scene naturally and that don't pull readers out of the story. And luckily even if we're writing about 1880 or 1980, we currently have a wonderful resource to double check ourselves right at our fingertips, and we aren't making a trip to the library or dusting off our set of World Book encyclopedias!

Margo L. Dill is a writer, speaker, editor, instructor, and mom, living in St. Louis. You can find out more about her writing on her website here, her editing business here, and the classes she teaches for WOW! here

Rubik's Cube photo by Mike Gonzalez 

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

 

Interview with Robyn Russo: Spring 2018 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Robyn’s Bio:

Robyn Russo ponders life and writes about it from Austin, TX. She studied Human Relations at the University of Texas, a field she chose primarily because it involved gobs of writing. Her fascination with interpersonal communication and her tendency to play devil’s advocate shape her storytelling goal—fostering empathy in situations where initial reaction might be condemnation. Robyn earns a living as a technical writer, leads a creative writing group, and contributes regularly to a blog about progressive faith. A member of the Writer’s League of Texas and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, she can be contacted at robynrussowriter[at]gmail[dot]com or followed on Instagram @writerrobyn. When you can’t find her, it’s because she’s holed away with a great book and a bottle of red. She’ll resurface when done.

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

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Spring Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story?

Robyn: Originally, I’d written it in third person, which led the protagonist to be seen as cold. Flipping it around into first person submerged me into her mind so that I could create a little history for her in order to draw the necessary clues for her backstory, describe her thought process. As for the topic, I think it’s a situation many young girls find themselves in—lonely so that any attention they get is welcomed but misinterpreted. They have to decide what they’ll do to keep that connection, even if it’s unhealthy.

WOW: A little perspective shift can make a huge difference. Did you learn anything about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece?

Robyn: I learned that stepping away from a piece at the right point in the editing process can be invigorating. A piece needs space to breathe and it’s hard to give it that when you look at it constantly. Step back, think about something else for a few days. When you come back, you may be pleasantly surprised with the results—a new idea, a solution to a creativity roadblock, or the ability to see the flaws.

WOW: Great insight into your process! You also received an honorable mention in this contest for your story "Seeing Red." How does that compare to "Whiskey Friends"? What excited you about “Seeing Red”?

Robyn: I’m proud of both for different reasons. They are completely different stories in subject matter, pacing, emotions. Both show my breadth as a writer so I’m excited that “Seeing Red” also advanced in the competition.

“Whiskey Friends” challenged my ability more because I had to drizzle in the little details about her past/current situation showing the reader why she was in the situation she was in. That was really hard to do in 750 words. And I still find myself editing it to make it better! “Seeing Red” is a scary snapshot of postpartum depression, which doesn’t necessarily have a drawn-out backstory.

Also, I think the content of “Whiskey Friends” draws a lot of opinions and judgement to what she did or was willing to do. The world right now is filled with finger-pointing, judging each other, and I think we could all use a bit more perspective.

WOW: Thanks for that comparison, and congratulations again on your success with both stories. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Robyn: I’m reading Dani Shapiro’s first novel Playing with Fire. I’ve read a couple of her memoirs and follow her on Instagram. Her prose is just great—beautiful, clean, insightful. You can tell she works each word/phrase repeatedly till she hits on just the right one, a trait I admire and aspire towards. So, I’m checking out her fiction now.

WOW: If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why?

Robyn: Write as often as possible because it’s exercise for the brain. Journaling, free writing, whatever, just write. Because writing is work, it takes dedication, practice. Getting used to writing anything and everything trains your brain to respond quicker. You’ll get comfortable with the fact that not everything you write is (or has to be) perfect. So, when you stare at the blank screen, it’s less intimidating to spout off imperfect prose.

WOW: Awesome advice! Thank you for sharing that with us. Anything else you’d like to add?

Robyn: The critiques were beyond helpful. The feedback was invaluable, always delivered in a constructive, supportive way. I’ve submitted to other contests that do not offer that option and it sucks not knowing where I’m missing the mark. Thanks WOW!

WOW: Thank you again for sharing your stories and for your other 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.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

 

Be the Plot Twist

Growing up, we watched programs like Perry Mason, Murder She Wrote, and Columbo. We watched as a family and often tried to figure out the plot or guess the ending. I do the same thing with books and sometimes I get a few chapters in and set a book aside because I've assumed I know how it will play out. Lucky for me I can't leave a book sit for very long; I need to finish if I've started. Quite often, I'm pleasantly surprised by the plot twists and the ending that is nothing like I thought it would be. The lesson there is not to assume anything and wait for the plot twist.

Let's apply this unassuming plot twistiness to life beyond the screen and page. I recently wrote on social media:







Shaming is wrong.
PERIOD
(We can never know
another person's 
whole story, much
less their heart)



I'd like to expand on that - As a mom, it seems easy to look at our children and say "don't make fun of those kids who are different than you", but as adults, we are sending our children mixed messages. You just stopped reading and you're thinking - no I'm not. Well...are you familiar with The People of Walmart social media posts? How about those photos of people seeking people with a certain name? Do you share them? Do you laugh? Do they make you uncomfortable? I'm so confused about why as a society we are comfortable with this type of bullying and yet get upset with our schools for their inability to stop bullying with our children. 

Last week, the baby was sick and I reached in the cupboard only to find the medication she needed had expired. Lucky for me, it was just past midnight and my husband was done in the barn. He watched the kiddos and I ran to Walmart. I hadn't showered yet. My hair smelled of cow manure and had chunks of corn silage in it. I had stripped off my barn clothes and thrown on what I could find - a pair of pajama pants and a sweatshirt that appeared to have some dried applesauce on the sleeve. My footwear was a simple pair of leopard print clogs that were close to the door on my way out. I was a mess. I walked into the store and thought "I hope I don't end up a joke on someone's snapchat account". We shouldn't have to worry about this. We clearly can't write a story about everyone we meet - we can however use our writerly talents to take these uncomfortable moments and twist the plot!

See the woman in the ill-fitting top waiting in the check out line? She had on a super cute sweater but when she went to drop off her teenage daughter for school, her daughter spilled cranberry juice on her sweatshirt - so mom took off her sweater so her daughter would look nice. I don't really know every story, but when I think about the situation with this new twist, it's easier to see the positive side of the story. Here are a few more twists:

See the man with his pants falling down? A few weeks ago his pants fit fine, but since he started chemo treatments he can't keep anything down. He knows he should buy a belt, but knowing he won't be around this time next year, he doesn't want to waste the money when his wife and kids could use it more.

See the car parked at an awkward angle? That grandmother of 6 called her daughters over a dozen times asking for a ride. Everyone was too busy and she ran out of adult diapers yesterday. It's so hard to see, but she ran out of options.

You get the drift. 

We walk through life making assumptions. 
We need less assumptions and more kindness. 
When we see someone shaming someone else, 
we need to be the change and step up. 

We all have an opportunity to 
be the plot twist. Change someone's story. 
Kindness Wins!






Crystal is a secretary, council 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 Wisconsin with her husband and their five youngest children (Carmen 11, Andre 10, Breccan 4, Delphine 3, and baby Eudora), two dogs, 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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Saturday, October 20, 2018

 

Did I Enjoy Writing More Before I Was Paid For It?

photo via pixabay
I'm sure there are many of you out there answering this question with a loud, resounding "NO," but late last night I read an article by someone who admitted they enjoyed writing more before they were getting paid for it. Of course, this made me think.

This line of thinking reminded me of the time in high school when I was working on a fantasy novel. I enjoyed writing that novel so much. I loved talking about it, sharing it with others and developing my characters and my own fantasy world. In fact, somewhere in boxes of handwritten stories, I have drawings of what the characters wore, language notes, and even a map or two. I wrote with fervor and passion. I wasn't worried about getting published or getting paid for it (to be honest, though, I wasn't writing thinking I WOULDN'T eventually try to publish this story).

More than 15 years later, I can't say I write with the same unquenched thirst as I did in my teens. Life has happened, energy has shifted as well as priorities. My interests in what I write about have also changed. These days I couldn't go back to that fantasy novel any more than I could wear the same exact pair of jeans I wore as a teenager.

Another example I can think of is my own personal blog The World of My Imagination. I started that after graduating from college when I needed an outlet for my creative side while job hunting. I enjoyed that with as much fervor as my fantasy novel. I didn't care about advertising or sponsored blog posts. I was writing for the fun of it. That joy showed. Yet, like my fantasy novel, that changed too.

I think back to those two seasons of writing and wonder what was so special and different. Realistically speaking, during those two moments in my life I wasn't worrying so much about making ends meet and developing the career side of writing. Now, writing has changed into not only being an art form, but also something I would like to do as my career full time, whether it's freelance or otherwise. It's no longer something I want to sneak in when I have time. I want to make a living out of this whole writing thing.

Does that mean I am not enjoying writing as much? No, that doesn't mean that at all. In fact, I have a confession. That fantasy novel? I didn't finish it in high school. I finished it about six years ago. See?

Photograph Proof of That Finished Novel Circa 2012

As for my blog? Well, while it isn't as active as it once was, but through that blog, I found out about WOW! Women on Writing, which eventually led to me working with WOW. I am so grateful to be part of this incredible network and resource for writers everywhere.

So, to answer that question I pondered last night, I may have had a different sort of joy and energy for writing in the past, it doesn't mean I enjoy writing less now. In fact, in the past, despite that passion for writing, I also had terrible discipline. I've come across many stories and partially finished novels I wish I had finished in the past. Overall, I think it's important to let perspective, life circumstances and maturity change writing. That's how we stay with it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to dig up a few old notebooks and reminisce.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

 

Friday Speak Out!: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

by Janet Garber

When my close writer friends and I gather together, out come the wine bottles and our stories of family dysfunction.

“My uncle married and divorced five times. Three of those times were to my aunt.”

“Hmmph! My uncle Jack lived with my aunt on the first floor and his mistress on the second. Did I mention that the two women were best friends?”

“. . .and we suspect Joey may have killed Amy’s second husband who was hitting her. But he was cleared. He wound up marrying her and they’re living in Wilton now.”

“My mother used to come after me with a broom. Whack. Whack.”

We delight in unearthing family secrets, repeating these stories to each other, to reassure ourselves that not only did we survive our dysfunctional upbringings but we’re sitting on a powder keg of great material to write about.

“My mother’s always been very competitive with her best friend, Sonia. As a young woman she stole the letters Sonia got from her long distance boyfriend, saying, ‘He’s too good for you.’ Eventually she stole the boyfriend himself and wound up marrying him. As an encore fifty years later, after Sonia had passed on, Mom divorced the first guy, my father, and married Sonia’s widower. How about that?”

“I remember my mother sending me out to the movies all day. If I came back early, she’d drop four cents out the window so I could go back and buy myself a comic book. Who was that guy hanging around with her while Dad was at work?”

“Ever notice how his little sister is the only one in the family with brown eyes?”

Though seniors we’re all still dealing with our past traumas, big and small. We realize how ridiculous we are, complaining of hurts endured as children. It’s enough to make you question whether functional families exist at all.

“Oh, yeah? My Aunt Bea would force feed her three kids – all obese today. You could hear them screaming from blocks away. She claimed she just wanted fat American babies.”

“His father told him that he really did not want children; he had only had children because his wife insisted. ‘But then I wouldn’t be here now, Dad!’ the son protested. “So what?” his dad replied. “Big deal.”

Our talk may bring up painful memories, but we’re here for each other, and quick to point out what great material we’ve been given. And as writers, we try never to waste anything this juicy.

* * *
Janet Garber’s debut comic novel, Dream Job, Wacky Adventures of an HR Manager, was a finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and a Runner Up in the 2016 Best Indie Books Award. She invites you to drop in at http://www.janetgarber.com.


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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

 

October Scare (Or Recognizing the Blessing in Disguise)

Last week, I had my handyman come by to give an estimate for painting the interior of my garage. He picked at crumbling ceiling stuff and pointed out a hole in the sheetrock. But still, when he delivered the dollar amount, it was downright scary! No way would I spend that kind of money on my garage. But I had other projects and so I figured while he was here, I’d take him down to the basement.

We trudged down the stairs and as I turned the corner, I froze. Water seeped into a sizable section of carpet! Late that evening, as I was slogging through the mess, I realized that my handyman’s high estimate had been what you call the old blessing in disguise. If I hadn’t been so annoyed with his bill, I wouldn’t have gone down to the basement till who knows when. I could’ve ended up with a completely flooded basement or worse.

And that brings me to writing and how often something that appears to be a bad turn can actually be a turn for the better.

A writer friend of mind is working on a new project and she sent me her first pages a few weeks ago. I love her concept and I love her protagonist! But in critiquing her beginning, I was super picky and I was a wee bit scared. Had I been too critical?

I heard back from her just the other day, and she had been hard at work. She needed to address a few things I’d mentioned now rather than later, and in her words, “in a weird way, you actually saved me time.” So my scary super pickiness ended up being just what she needed, even if it meant added work—the old blessing in disguise.

And I’ve had countless rejections on writing projects that turned out to be blessings:

…the essay about a family member that I thought was delightful that was nearly published only to be cut at the last minute. When I read it months later, I realized that it was much too personal to be out in the world and I thanked the writing gods that it had been rejected.

…the first ten pages of a manuscript that I was sure were ready to be sent out to agents and yet, I never received a request for the full. When I decided at last to do yet another complete read-through, I found a gaping plot hole (or two). Sometimes, when we’re deep into a manuscript, we don’t see obvious flaws until we have some distance. Boy, was I glad that full manuscript hadn’t gone out!

Of course, not every bad thing that happens can be a blessing. Sometimes, a flooded basement is just a horror. But sometimes, given a moment or two to think whilst slogging through a mess, be it basement or writing-related, we can see the blessing in disguise.

And then we can wipe our brow with a “Whew!” and get back to work.





When not painting garage walls or mopping up from a clogged pipe in the basement, Cathy C. Hall writes stories for children. She has half a dozen published books, all of which are blessings!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

 

Fear four ways

Maybe it's because Halloween is approaching, but lately I've been paying attention to the way fear drives characters (and readers).

Fear is useful. Fear can protect us from danger, which is why we look both ways before crossing the street. Fear can keep us safe, help us succeed, and act in ways that may contrast with our normal behaviors. Our brain's fear center is the amygdala, which regulates our ability to control fear responses. But what happens when we let fear take over our characters?

Phobias

Does your protagonist have a fear or phobia? If so, how are you going to make her face her fear? If she's afraid of heights (like me) is the evidence of her innocence hidden on the roof of a skyscraper? If it's a fear of water, does she need to swim across a raging river to escape the bad guys? When there's a choice, what does she do, face her fear, or run away?

One way to build tension is to show her running away from her fear when there isn't a lot at stake. By adding this scene early in the story, you've planted a seed that will come back bigger and stronger later, when's the stakes are higher.

The hero

The more dangerous the task, the more fear, and the more heroic the effort to overcome the fear and complete the task. Anyone who risks her life to save someone may not be focused on fear, but it's there.

How does your favorite hero respond to his or her call to action? I'm reading The Outsiders, and during the fire scene, I loved the way S.E. Hinton described Ponyboy's reaction. He thought he should be scared, but wasn't, and added that he had an "odd, detached feeling."

The monster

Some of us like fear, and enjoy feeling afraid. But there's a big difference between someone who takes a risk by mountain climbing, and one who is turned on by fear in others. Is your protagonist on the trail of a serial killer or sociopath?

These stories can be compelling in that the need for control and power makes them strike again and again as the violence escalates. Does this character enjoy someone else's fear, or feed off it? Sometimes a sociopath lacks empathy to feel for others, and having the power to make victims suffer gives them pleasure. They enjoy the power, like the scientist with his subject, maintaining close contact, monitoring their breath, their fear as they gaze into their victim's pupils, listening to the fast-beating heart, smelling their fear, touching their sweat. These characters show no remorse, no conscious, and can raise the fear within a community.

Fear as a virus

Fear is contagious. It can pass from person to person in a room when the electricity goes off, or the sound of footsteps can be heard upstairs when no one is supposed to be there.

Fear also can spread across large areas and groups. Most of us are too young to remember, but have heard about Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938, which caused mass hysteria when listeners believed this was a live broadcast of a Martian invasion.

So, the next time you are reading a story that evokes fear, pay attention to how it works.


Mary Horner has been afraid of heights and scary stories for many years.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

 

Meet Kristen Olsen, Spring 2018 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Kristen Olsen lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and cat. After practicing law for 17 years, she’s now on a creative sabbatical. Kristen studied creative writing at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Madeline Island School of the Arts and through writers.com. Her flash fiction has been published on the website fiftiness.com (prize winner) and in the online literary journals Panoply and Exposition Review. Kristen loves writing flash fiction and short stories and is working on revisions to her second novel. Besides writing, she enjoys going to the YWCA and volunteering at a performing arts center for actors with disabilities. Follow Kristen on Twitter @kolsenjd.

Check out Kristen's thought-provoking story "Dandelion" here and then return to see how Kristen's explores real life through fiction.

----------Interview by Renee Roberson



WOW: You are one busy lady, having practiced law AND studied creative writing in a number of places. What has been the most beneficial part of participating in such programs?

Kristen: Legal writing is very different from writing fiction. For instance, in writing legal briefs, emotion is a big no-no, but readers of fiction want to feel. Writing classes helped me understand the craft of fiction, as well as story structure.

WOW: Having read a few of your flash fiction stories (loved "The Truth of the Evening" over at Fiftiness.com) I'm sensing a theme or epiphany you may have had after you had established a career in law. Could you share some of that wisdom with our readers?

Kristen: I had a lot of false starts early in life and went to law school in my thirties. Shortly after I began practicing law, I also started creative writing. I think I needed to establish a strong structure in my life (both as a career and my internal sense of self) before it felt safe enough to start asking the bigger questions. I was on a writing retreat on Madeline Island in Lake Superior when it became clear to me that my outer life no longer matched who I was inside. It took three years after that (which weren't comfortable) to make an internal and external transition to letting my law job (and part of my identity) go. I don't believe there are any shortcuts. The wisdom is to listen to your insides, and take the name you need, but follow those big dreams.

WOW: That is such sage advice! We are so glad you are continuing to follow those big dreams and encourage others to do so as well. What do you think is the most important thing to focus on when writing flash fiction?

Kristen: Flash fiction is a little like poetry in that you need to use image and language to reveal a character and emotion in very few words. I try to focus on one emotion that I want to communicate and find one primary image throughout the story to help evoke it.

WOW: That's a great way of looking at writing flash fiction. Could you share a little bit of what the novel you're currently revising is about?

Kristen:  I'm turning the flash fiction story you mentioned above into a full-length novel. It's about a burned out lawyer in Chicago who, while on a road trip to Arizona with her aunt, realizes the life she's been living no longer fits her, and she needs to find her way back to herself.

WOW: Good luck with that novel! Those characters instantly came alive in that story so I have a feeling you're on to something there. What have been some of your favorite moments volunteering at the performing arts center for actors with disabilities?

Kristen: As a volunteer, I participate in everything the actors do, such as improvisations, theater games, and singing. My favorite moments are when each actor shares who they are inside. My first day, an actor came up to me and said "don't worry about how good you are. Just try, that's what's important." She can never remember my name, but she could tell that day I was a little nervous and wanted to reassure me. Another time, one of the actors led the group in a warm-up tai chi exercise that was so beautiful, it blew me away. One of the center's slogans is "work with your quirk." That's a good message for everybody.

WOW: Thanks again for chatting with us today, Kristen, and we look forward to reading more of your work!


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Monday, October 15, 2018

 

Cheryl Carpinello launches her blog tour of Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend

...and giveaway!

His one desire...To be a knight.

His future queen...At times reckless.

Best friends…Bound by Friendship and Loyalty.

When their adventure turns deadly & dangerous, Guinevere & Cedwyn find themselves embroiled in a life-or-death struggle.

Not only are they in danger, but so are the kids of Cadbury Castle.

Renegades—foiled in their attempt to kidnap the princess—steal the children of Cadbury Castle to sell as slaves. Guinevere and Cedwyn vow to rescue the children, but a miscalculation puts them all in more danger.

As the plan quickly unravels, Cedwyn chooses to turn his dream of becoming a knight into reality.

Will their courage be strong enough to survive, or will one make the ultimate sacrifice?

Series: Tales and Legends for Reluctant Readers
Paperback: 150 pages
Publisher: Bublish, Incorporated (May 12, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781946229441
ISBN-13: 978-1946229441
ASIN: 194622944X
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches

Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend is available as an ebook or in print at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest!

To win a copy of the book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend by Cheryl Carpinello, please enter via Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on October 22nd at 12 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author, Cheryl Carpinello

Cheryl Carpinello is an author, a retired high school English teacher, and a Colorado native. Since retiring from teaching, she devotes her time to writing, traveling, and family. Although she may be away from teaching, she is still a teacher at heart and especially enjoys meeting with kids and talking with them about reading and writing. Cheryl hopes she can inspire young readers and those young-at-heart to read more with her Tales & Legends.

You can find her online at:

Website: http://www.cherylcarpinello.com

Writing Blog: http://carpinelloswritingpages.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.carpinello1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ccarpine1/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Cheryl-Carpinello/e/B002GGGZY6

Twitter Home Page: https://twitter.com/ccarpinello

Linkedin Page: www.linkedin.com/pub/cheryl-carpinello/25/671/a02

Google URL: https://plus.google.com/110918922081424857545/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ccarpine/

Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congratulations on book two of your series. Tell me about the process of writing Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend. How does writing this book compare to your experience writing the first?

Cheryl: Thank you, Nicole. Comparing my writing experience between the two stories took me back to 2006 when the idea for Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend first gelled and to 2007 when I actually wrote the story. It’s hard to imagine, but I actually wrote the entire story in my head. In 2006, I took a position as a teacher coach that afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with teachers on teaching strategies for a variety of classrooms and students. Consequently, I didn’t have papers to grade, tests to make, or editing to do. I made a few changes in 2007 when I actually put pen to paper. By the way, I always write out my complete stories before ever putting those on the computer.

Writing At the Dawn of Legend followed a similar pattern, but the story wasn’t as complete in my head as book 1. The first book flowed nicely from my head to paper. Book 2 presented problems throughout with the 3 timelines that ran parallel to each other. Many hours were spent consulting maps and figuring distances traveled for the 3 groups. Then about one-third into the story, one of the timelines dropped out, but toward the end another took its place. Up until the final draft, I was still tracking those timelines on chart paper in order to be sure that they synced. In that sense this was a tougher book to finish. The crowning glory of writing this book was that we had spent 3 weeks in 2014 driving through the UK, so I was familiar with most of the areas used in Book 2. That was an advantage I didn’t have for Book 1.

WOW: I'm so impressed with the time you too to research in book two! Not to mention that you had the chance to actually travel the very areas you were writing about is impressive. Why write about the Arthurian legend? What draws you to this?

Cheryl: I’m a romantic in the medieval sense. I love the adventures of knights and kings filled with mystery and fantasy. The idea of heroes striving to do their best for all is the basic idea behind the Chivalric Code. If you look at the stories, the movies, and the television shows out today, it’s easy to see that Arthurian Legend is hugely popular.

The legend is also very flexible. There are few hard and fast rules when adapting it in a new story line. That’s one reason why I chose it. There are so many stories about Guinevere, but none like mine. I’m able to put this queen in a down-to-earth situation that explains why she did what she did, essentially fall in love with another man. Interesting tidbit about this is that in the medieval romances of France there is no mention of Guinevere and Lancelot together.

Probably one of the biggest reasons I’m drawn to Arthurian Legend is that is contains that element of hope for tomorrow. Arthur is known as The Once and Future King: a king who will return when England (and the world) need him most. I like that. I really like that piece of the legend.

WOW: I love that aspect of the legend as well. So, I was reading an interview you did with Beach Bound Books and you describe how the Cedwyn character kept pestering you. Tell me about that experience and how it led you to write book 2.

Cheryl: My original intent in writing Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend was to introduce younger readers (ages 9-12) to this princess. I couldn’t believe that my high school students knew little about her and blamed Guinevere for the disgrace of Arthur and the fall of Camelot. This happened year after year, each time I would introduce the unit and ask what they knew of King Arthur. So essentially I accomplished that with On the Eve of Legend.

I moved on to write The King’s Ransom, another Arthurian tale and my Ancient Egyptian stories. Over the years, I’d be writing or reading or just sitting around, and I’d hear this voice. “Hey, what about me? You said I could be a knight, a real knight. Why not now?” Or words to that affect. I ignored it for years, nearly eight. Over time a story line started to form despite my resistance, and I finally gave in. I wrote At the Dawn of Legend; Cedwyn got his wish to be a knight. Now I have to write another because I can’t leave those two (Guinevere and Cedwyn) where they are. So what was one book will be a trilogy. Not at all what I had planned way back when.

WOW: Characters have a pretty incredible way of moving our hand at writing don't they? Since you write middle-grade fiction, I can't help but ask, what were some of your favorite books during your own middle-grade years?

Cheryl: I was horse crazy growing up. I read almost every book written about horses, fiction and non-fiction. Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books and Rutherford Montgomery’s Golden Stallion series were my favorites. I read and re-read those many times. Another was King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry about the history of the Godolphin Arabian, and her story Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague. I still have all of them in my library. Along the way I picked up the Timber Trail Riders series, Drinkers of the Wind, and many of Thomas Hinkle’s stories.

I don’t buy many horse books anymore, but I did just recently make a purchase from the British Museum. It is a lovely hard cover copy of The Horse, from Arabia to Royal Ascot. It is an in-depth history from the beginnings of the horse in the Ancient Near East and of the Godolphin Arabian, the Darley Arabian, and the Byerley Turk, the 3 ancestors of all Thoroughbred horses. The book is a story and a collection of images which were on display recently in the British Museum and at the International Museum of the Horse in Kentucky in 2010.

WOW: These are pretty amazing sounding books! So, what tips do you have for writers interested in writing for a younger reader?

Cheryl: The best tip: Get to know the age group you want to write for. I’m fortunate in that as a teacher I was able to observe first-hand the quirks and workings of young minds. Even though I taught high school, my interactions with our feeder elementary/middle schools helped me understand what the kids were looking for in literature.

Readers of any age want characters they can relate to and escape with in stories. In other words, your characters must be realistic with faults and in situations that kids can imagine themselves actually being there.

Know the difference between the ages of kids. We talk a lot about this when I do writing workshops with the 4th-8th grade classrooms. For example, if you are writing a story for ages 9-12, do not include kissing. Mention kissing to the age group and what you get back are huge groans. Some may be okay with this but not many. And if they are, they don’t want the other kids to know.

WOW: This is fantastic advice - knowing the age groups you are writing for is so essential! I have to say, I ADORE the animated Disney movie the Sword and the Stone, which I notice you love as well. For those interested in the Arthurian legends, what books do you suggest they read to learn more?

Cheryl: Wow! The list is enormous. Since you mention the Disney movie, let’s start with book it came from: The Once and Future King by T.H. White. Most don’t realize that Disney didn’t write the story. White’s book has four tales in it and The Sword in the Stone is the first one. The entire collection comprise the fabulous story of Arthur from a young boy named Wart through his battles to instill honor and loyalty in his people up through his death at the hands of his son Mordred. This was my textbook for my freshmen.

For younger readers there is T. A. Barron’s Arthurian series, Sir Thomas Malory’s Tales of King Arthur, and the Magic Tree House books. There are wonderful books for young adults and adults including The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Last Legion by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, and the fabulous work by Deepak Chopra The Return of Merlin.

There are some talented Indie authors out there today who have written their own stories in Arthurian Legend. Some of these are Tyler R. Tichelaar’s The Children of Arthur series, Nicole Evelina’s Guinevere’s Tales books, and Kim Headlee’s King Arthur’s Sister in Washington’s Court.

If you really want to delve into Arthurian Legend, try Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. And, of course, I hope you’ll also read my stories.

WOW: Thank you so much for sharing all these resources! Lastly, what are you working on now? What is next for you?

Cheryl: I’m fleshing out Guinevere: The Legend. It takes place in Gaul, what France was called during and after the time of the Roman Empire. I’m also working on a time travel series (The Feathers of the Phoenix) through the Ancient Worlds with Rosa from Sons of the Sphinx. And my three characters from The King’s Ransom are starting to chatter about another adventure.

WOW: That all sounds so amazing! I can't wait to see what you have coming next. Thank you so much for chatting with us today and best of luck on your book! 

--- Blog Tour Dates

October 15th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Be sure to stop by the launch day post for Cheryl Carpinello's blog tour for her book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend where we interview the author and you have the chance to win a copy of the book.
http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

October 16th @ Write Like Crazy
You'll go nuts today over at Mary Jo Campbell's blog where author Cheryl Carpinello talks about finding stories within stories as you write. You can also win a copy of the book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend.
https://www.writelikecrazy.com/

October 19th @ Lori's Reading Corner
Visit Lori's blog where you can read Cheryl Carpinello's post about where her search for the Legend of King Arthur has taken her.
http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/

October 19th @ Jill Sheets Blog
Visit Jill's blog today where Cheryl Carpinello talks about the continuing popularity of the King Arthur Legend.
https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

October 19th @ The Burgeoning Bookshelf
You'll want to stock up your bookshelf once you visit by Veronica's blog, where she reviews Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend by Cheryl Carpinello.
https://theburgeoningbookshelf.blogspot.com/

October 20th @ A New Look on Books
Stop by Rae's blog and take a glance at author Cheryl Carpinello's blog post the importance of reading and understanding myths, legends, and mythology.
https://anewlookonbooks.com/

October 22nd @ A New Look on Books
Come by Rae's blog and get a new look on Cheryl Carpinello's book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend.
https://anewlookonbooks.com/

October 23rd @ A Day in the Life of a Mom
Stop by Ashley's blog where she shares Cheryl's guest post about do boys respond to reading and writing differently than girls? And what should parents do about that?
https://adayinthelifeofmom.com/

October 25th @ A Day in the Life of a Mom
Check out Ashley's blog again where she shares her opinion on Cheryl Carpinello's book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend.
https://adayinthelifeofmom.com/

October 25th @ Fiction Thoughts
Stop by Emilie's blog where she shares her opinion about the book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend.
https://www.fictionthoughts.com/

October 28th @ Leonard Tillerman's Blog
Stop by Leonard's blog where he shares his thoughts on Cheryl Carpinello's book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend.
http://leonardtillerman.com/

October 29th @ A Storybook World
Journey to today's blog post where Deirdra shares Cheryl Carpinello's blog post about how the author's years as an educator led her to writing Tales & Legends, (or why the author writes Tales & Legends for Reluctant Reader).
http://www.astorybookworld.com/

November 1st @ Look to the Western Sky
Make sure you look to Margo's blog today where she interviews the author Cheryl Carpinello, author of the Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend.
http://margoldill.com/

November 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina Blog
Visit Anthony's blog where he shares his thoughts about Cheryl Carpinello's book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend and read an interview with the author.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 3rd @ The World of My Imagination
Stop by Nicole's blog where she shares her thoughts on Cheryl Carpinello's book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend.
theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

November 4th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog
Stop by Anthony's blog today where you can read author Cheryl Carpinello's blog post about whether it is really necessary for kids today to read the classics such as stories and plays from Ancient Greece, Rome and Shakespeare.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 5th @ Coffee with Lacey
Grab a cup of your favorite brew, and join us at Lacey's blog where Cheryl Carpinello talks about the definition of reading and what medium qualifies as actual reading.
https://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com/

November 7th @ Choices
Visit Madeline Sharples' blog where she shares Cheryl Carpinello's blog post about building characters that young readers bond with and how the author uses a combination of traits from my students over the years.
http://madelinesharples.com/

November 8th @ Fiona Ingram's Blog
Stop by Fiona's blog where she interviews a character from Cheryl Carpinello's book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend.
http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

November 9th @ For the Hook of a Book
Make sure you stop by the book blog For the Hook of a Book and catch their review of Cheryl Carpinello's book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend. 
https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/

November 10th @ Chatty Patty's Place
Stop by Patty's blog where she spotlight's Cheryl Carpinello's book and also does a giveaway of the book for one lucky reader.
http://www.chattypattysplace.com/

November 11th @ Bri's Book Nook
Stop by Briennai's blog where she shares her thoughts about Cheryl Carpinello's book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend. 
https://brisbooknook.wordpress.com/

November 18th @ David Chuka Blog
Stop by David's blog where he interviews author Cheryl Carpinello about her and her book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend.
http://davidchuka.com/blog-2/

Keep up with the latest blog stops by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

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

To win a copy of the book Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend by Cheryl Carpinello, please enter via Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends on October 22nd at 12 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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