Contest update, Forum News & Freelancer News!

Saturday, December 23, 2006
A Special Holiday Greetings to all of you!


If you entered our contest, you should've received an e-mail regarding your status on the Fall 2006 contest. If you entered and didn't receive an e-mail, please let us know. We try to respond to everyone, to keep you updated on what is going on.

Both Beryl and I have entered a number of contests in the past -- some where we got lucky and heard from the judges, and others where we didn't hear anything at all! So taking this into consideration, we strive to keep you up-to-date on what's happening. We know it's rough... you have your story that you worked so hard on, and want feedback. Isn't that what all of us want?


Well, great news! By mid-February we will finally have a comprehensive forum up! We are truly excited about this, since it's been a goal of ours from the start. But not just any forum for rants and raves etc. We are going to have sections just for you. A Virtual Writer's Group where you can post your work, discuss, and receive feedback from other women. A safe place to share your work, chat or post, and gain insight. It will be free (like all of our content), yet moderator approved. Meaning, that you can be assured that there won't be any message board 'flaming' going on... only constructive critiques and encouragement. This will help us all become better writers. In fact, best stories, articles, reviews etc. for the month will be published in WOW! and/or receive prizes. We truly believe that writers should be awarded for their efforts, and we will wrangle up goodies from our sponsors and ourselves to inspire your growth as a writer. This is important to us.

Other rooms in the forum may be: the daily struggles of writing, inspiration, prompts, reviews, freelancer's markets, magazine issue feedback, letters/questions to the Eds, PR & book promotion, post your events/press releases, contests, journaling, book clubs, and general chit-chat.

Every month we hope to have a professional guest to join our forums to answer any questions you may have regarding the business of writing. This is an extremely valuable resource to gain insight and professional advice to help you reach your goals as a published writer. You can do it!


Ladies, we're adding two new columns! Premiering in our January Issue: "Freelancer's Corner" -- a place for freelancers to write, share, and give tips to other writers, as well as event listings. This column is a paying market, as is the rest of our columns. Pay is .05 cents/word, up to 1500 words. Query your idea, we're open!

Another new column we're adding is "Funds for Writers" by Hope C. Clark. Hope will give you insider tips on grant writing, emergency funds for writers, retreats, residencies, finding funds for a conference, etc. This should prove very informative and exciting.

As always, our columns and features are open. Please query the appropriate department. Our pay is .05-.10 cents/word. Up to 2500 for features (that's $250!) and 1500 for columns. We're looking forward to your queries and submissions. We request that it be previously unpublished material for the uniqueness of WOW!

Hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and as always, we're here, day in, day out, so give us a shout!
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Contestants! Fall 2006 Contest UPDATE

Saturday, December 16, 2006
UPDATE: Our guest judge for the Fall 2006 Contest will be a tad late on the judging. So, if you were frantically checking your e-mail today in hopes of notification... don't worry! You are still in the running!

We sincerely apologize for the delay. We will inform contestants no later than next Wednesday, December 20th.

Since fall was our first contest, we are still learning about what works and what doesn't. We learned that selling the contest e-book in our store was very confusing for most entrants, even ourselves. We also learned that downloading the e-book was a little more complicated than we thought it would be. And don't get me started on our auto-responders sending out the wrong links! Yikes!

This time around, we're making things easier. We added a 'buy now' button to the contest, so when you're ready to enter, it's there. We're also going to have the e-book instructions free for download this next time around (we'll be posting that in January). This will let you review the rules & regs leisurely and be able to understand all the terms before you enter... (duh!) All we will require when you submit your entry for confirmation is to include your receipt #. This will verify your entry.

If you have any suggestions, let's hear 'em! Rant and rave. Let us know what we can do to make things easier for all of us and we'll do our best to make it happen.

Cross your fingers, and stay tuned. Believe me, we're just as excited to know as you are!
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Last Push to help the Gulf Coast through literacy!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Please visit the Literacy Claus website to find out how you can help our fellow families and survivors of Hurricane Katrina. If you've been thinking about it, this is your last opportunity of this season. You can still order books through Amazon for this cause, or donate a few dollars in gas money for the kind folks at Literacy Claus to get to their destination. We wish you a joyous holiday and a happy New Year!
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Interview with Kathryn Vercillo of MoKa House Writers

Sunday, December 03, 2006

MoKa House is a media company that provides freelance writing services to both individuals and businesses. We make use of the diverse talents of our pool of freelance writers and our own skills as writer-editors to craft the perfect message for furthering the creative and professional endeavors of others.

WOW: Kathryn, how did you start MoKa House Writers?

(Photo of MoKa House partner: Kathryn Vercillo)

KV: MoKa House was one of those things that happened slowly and then suddenly. As a freelance writer, I had always thought that collaborating with other writers would be an excellent way to provide better services to my clients, but I wasn’t quite sure how to make that happen. Then I met Moniqua. In our first ever conversation, we tossed around our individual ideas for eventually starting a writing company. We’re both highly driven women who do more than we talk about doing, so the next thing we knew we were running a company together.

WOW: That's funny you should say that, because it sounds quite familiar! (Like a WOW! story) Can you tell us about the kinds of services that MoKa House provides?

KV: We provide freelance writing services of all kinds to both individuals and businesses. This includes professional, creative and academic writing and editing services. Specifically, our services include writing of newsletters, articles, web content, business plans, artist bios, reviews, e-books, and business profiles.

WOW: That's quite impressive. You seem to cover the full spectrum of freelance writing. What makes your company unique?

(Photo of MoKa House partner: Moniqua Lane)

KV: The two of us have very different writing backgrounds, so we are able to apply our experiences in order to oversee a wide range of different projects. Additionally, we employ a staff of approximately forty writers who all have different types of experience. This means that we have the ability to select a writer with appropriate experience for each project, providing our clients with a professional writer who has knowledge in their field. For the client, this is different from working with an individual freelance writer who may have general writing skills but may lack the specific knowledge required to best complete the requested work. Additionally, working with a company (as opposed to working with an individual) offers the client a stronger guarantee of professional quality.

WOW: That's wonderful that you're employing writers from various avenues, which in turn, lends the most qualified writer for your clients' project. What are some of the recent projects your company has been involved in?

KV: It seems like we’re always working on something different which is one of the things which we both love about this industry. It gives us a chance to apply our past experiences to broadening our horizons on a regular basis. Some of our recent projects have included travel advice columns for foreign country travel, profiles of up-and-coming musicians, real estate articles, and a series of technical internet blogs.

WOW: How diverse! Kathryn, I read somewhere that you created a unique non-profit quarterly magazine for inmates. What a revolutionary idea! Can you tell our readers what the magazine is about, and how the idea was conceived?

KV: In 1999, I started a small (now-defunct) non-profit organization called Create Me Free which was based upon the idea that creative self-expression can lead to both individual and societal growth. I worked with incarcerated artists and writers, using creativity to foster change. The literary magazine, which was published from 1999 – 2003, published the completed works and works-in-progress of those individuals involved in the program. Although Create Me Free is no longer an active organization, I do hope to eventually return to this type of non-profit work which would ideally be focused on forming a similar program for incarcerated youth.

WOW: That's an inspirational idea, and a needed one. Your heart shines through in your caring for others.

Speaking of others, you and your partner Moniqua Lane apparently work very well together. I'm always interested in women who collaborate on a higher level. There seems to be a real supportive energy that makes a business work...

KV: We were really lucky to find one another, because our backgrounds are very different but we seem to have nearly all of the same goals. We compliment each other really well. It seems that nearly everything that I don’t know how to do is something that she has experience with and vice versa. Additionally, our work processes are different so we balance each other out really well. It’s a benefit to our clients, because we double-check each other’s work so that they get the best of each of us. And it’s beneficial for us because we challenge each other to develop new skills while supporting each other in doing so.

WOW: There seems to be a fabulous balance between the two of you, yet I'm sure, considering your diverse backgrounds, there are different projects you would most like to take on. Could you tell us what kinds of projects you're interested in?

KV: I, personally, prefer projects which allow me to work with creative professionals in other fields. Music journalism and working with artists to create bios and press releases are areas which interest me because I believe that they allow me to use my talents to help further the creative talents of other individuals. I place a lot of emphasis on developing creative connections. Alternatively, Moniqua prefers projects that allow her to make use of her legal background. She enjoys making arcane aspects of the law accessible to the average reader. We are lucky to have a staff of excellent writers which means that we are each able to develop these areas for ourselves while providing our clients with the services of professionals whose areas of interest and expertise differ from our own.

WOW: After you decide to take on a project, what comes next?

KV: We work with the client to identify his or her exact needs and goals. This allows us to determine which one of us is best suited to overseeing the project. From there, we can determine which writer or writers may be most qualified to complete the project. We work closely with the writer to make sure that the work meets the client’s specifications.

WOW: It sounds like you've got a very 'hands-on' approach. How do you manage to maintain this ongoing working relationship with your client?

KV: We believe that regular, clear communication is the most effective method of maintaining a positive working relationship with our clients. We place a strong emphasis on collaboration and truly enjoy working to help our clients further their own endeavors, and I feel like that genuine interest in their work comes through in all that we do, encouraging continued partnerships over time.

WOW: Do you think attorneys should use freelance writers, and if so, why?

KV: Moniqua tells this story about how on her first day working for a large firm her supervising attorney told her to do as little writing as possible because she was not being paid to write. She says that what she came to realize was that attorneys are paid to know the law and use that knowledge to further their clients’ interests. Writing is an important part of that, but there is a lot of writing that attorneys do that is incidental to that – a lot of marketing and non-legal writing. Moniqua thinks that this is the kind of writing that attorneys can, and often do, hand off to freelance writers. She thinks, though, that for ethical reasons and for the sake of writing quality, it is best for attorneys to have non-practicing lawyers do their hired writing. She says there are lots of them out there like her, so it should be no problem to find one.

WOW: I think everyone could use a freelance writer like Moniqua! That's wonderful that she has that background to bring to the table. (Moniqua, we'll be in touch!)

The two of you sound like an unstoppable team, I'm sure all of our readers would love to know what you're working on right now, either personally, or for your company.

KV: Personally, I’m working on a number of small projects related to music journalism, including collaboration with several local musical artists in the development of online promotional content. I’m also collaborating with my brother (an artist and business owner in Los Angeles) in the development of a magazine relevant to the work that he is doing. Furthermore, I’m in the process of completing a book entitled Ghosts of San Francisco which is to be followed by a book about ghosts specific to Alcatraz Island.

Moniqua is working on a real estate practices book, answering user-submitted questions about real estate and finance at a mortgage lenders’ portal, and researching trends and breaking news in digital music for a daily digital music news journal out of England. Moniqua also maintains a small legal practice focusing on tax and estate planning and real estate law.

Together, Moniqua and I are collaborating on several small creative endeavors, with particular emphasis on writing pro-female erotica which supports the sexuality of women within a framework of diverse situations.

As a company, MoKa House is branching out in to a number of different areas. We are working on a two-pronged approach to immediate development, expanding our client base to include both more creative work and more business-professional work.

WOW: It sounds like you've got a lot on your plate! Where would you like to see MoKa House in the future?

KV: The short-term goals for MoKa House continue the aforementioned two-prong development approach. On my end, I want MoKa House to be providing more direct services for artists and musicians, working closely with emerging artists to assist them in furthering their goals as they grow in popularity. On Moniqua’s side, MoKa House is looking in to expanding our options for improved services to our corporate clients as well as for involvement in regular work with government contract writing.

Within the company, we want to see increased opportunity for our writers to expand their own opportunities. MoKa House operates on the core belief that following our own inspiration in collaborative efforts leads to overall success for all people involved in a project. It is our goal to work with our writers in assisting them to develop the skills they each would like to develop in order to improve their writing careers as well as to offer improved services to our clients. We would like to see some of our high-level writers eventually overseeing and editing for other staff members.

As far as long-term goals, we have discussed the possibility of eventually opening a publishing arm for the company. We would be interested in being involved in more creative works and I would like to see development of a non-profit area for the company. However, we’re open to seeing where things go from here. I have always worked through a process which combines drive and motivation with a willingness to take chances as they are presented to me. This is what allowed Moniqua and I to immediately recognize the opportunity to work with another and I believe it is what will continue to allow MoKa House to succeed.

WOW: I don't doubt that one bit. I'm sure you two will go far.

Thank you so much Kathryn for sharing your inspirational story with our readers. I'm sure they'll all want to visit MoKa House and check out the wonderful services you provide!

SPECIAL PROMOTION: (You won't want to miss!) MoKa House is happy to offer 10% OFF of their standard rates to anyone who mentions reading this interview.

Additionally, MoKa House is always happy to consider website link exchange with other creative and professional people.
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HORIZONS by Mary Rosenblum

Friday, November 24, 2006

What people are saying:

"A sure winner...if you want to know what the future might actually look like...this could be it." -- Nancy Kress

"A smart, sexy, and savvy future thriller from one of the best new writers in science fiction, peopled by real human characters with psychological complexity and emotional depth, and driven by a plot that races ahead like a runaway train." -- Gardner Dozois

Buy HORIZONS today!
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WATER RITES - Coming Soon! by Mary Rosenblum

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I just created this animation for our wonderfully talented author and friend, Mary Rosenblum. Her new book, due out in January, is bound to be a bestseller!

Water Rites touches on the all-important issue of global-warming, and is a must-read. This novel originally stems from her first SF novel entitled, The Drylands. It will be collected with the three Drylands novelettes that appeared in Asimov's Magazine and are prequels to the story, featuring the main characters. Water Rites will be published in January by Fairwood Press. Take a look at the cover... it's simply gorgeous!

Here's a Description:

Drought had come to the 21st century, and the land was dying. Crops failed, refugee camps overflowed, riots raged across the country, and the Army Corps of Engineers had the dirty job of rationing what little water was left.

Carter Volitaire, a Corps officer in charge of the Columbia Riverbed Pipeline, had orders to stop a group of desperate farmers sabotaging the Pipe--at any cost. Nita Montoya, a Drylands woman burdened with a strange mental talent, knew the farmers were being framed. She could help Carter expose the real saboteurs--but only by exposing her own abnormal ability.

In the Drylands, the few people strangely altered by the drought were feared and persecuted if their mutations came to light. But if Nita couldn't trust Carter with her secret, there was no way to stop the wave of violence that would sweep their lives away...

Check out the WOW! interview with Mary Rosenblum!

And please let us know what you think about this animation... does it intrigue you? Or...?

Feel free to post comments here. We appreciate your feedback!
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Give the Gift of Literacy...

Friday, November 17, 2006
Ten of thousands of families lost homes, personal property and much more during hurricane Katrina. Homes are being re-built and lives are being put back together again along the Gulf Coast. But homes aren't the only thing needing replaced for these families who have lost so much says Bruce Goldwell, author and success coach. Children need to have a way to escape the trials that they are surrounded with on a daily basis and a way to insure that their futures will be bright. Goldwell believes that one of the ways to do this is through the gift of books.

"Many families along the Gulf Coast lost everything. I want to do something to brighten up their holiday season and beyond. I founded the Literacy Claus project to raise books all over America so kids and families along the Gulf Coast can have the gift of literacy this Christmas", states Goldwell.

"Bruce explains the charity best, so here is a quote from the page. I encourage everyone to head over, and help!", states Jonathan Fesmire, the author of "Seeds of Vision" and several other books.

"In Waveland, Mississippi, 85% of the residence still live in FEMA trailers. Many of these families lost everything they own during hurricane Katrina. Other cities along the Gulf Coast suffered great loss as well.

We invite you to "Give the Gift of Literacy" this holiday season by sharing books with those living in Waveland and surrounding areas along the Gulf Coast.

The mission of the "Literacy Claus" Project is to give the gift of books to children and others that lost their homes so they can enjoy reading them all year long.

You are invited to support the "Literacy Claus" Project by either donating books for these "Our Brothers and Our Sisters" of the Gulf Coast or helping in the collection process. Books will be distributed just before Christmas. Use the contact form below for more information on how you can donate, collect books in your area and where to ship books for distribution.

Those of us on the "Literacy Claus" Project Team and all supporters thank you in advance for your participation." - Bruce Goldwell

Mr. Goldwell believes that American's all over the country will want to take part in the Literacy Claus once they know about it. Collections are already in progress in other states outside of Utah and people are asking how they can take part. Volunteers are needed to collect books, as donors of books and in getting the word out all over the country.

Bruce Goldwell is the author of "The Door to Super Achievement", "The Power of Choice", and a series titled "Dragon Keepers". He is the founder of the "Literacy Claus" which is a charity event to raise books for kids and families on the Gulf Coast. For information about the Literacy Claus visit
Submitted by: Bruce Goldwell

For anyone you know of that have books ready to ship at this time,
you can have them send the books to:

C/O Bruce Goldwell
2250 N. Univ Pkwy #4899
Provo, Utah 94604


Thank you Bruce for letting us know about such a great cause.
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How does your book title score?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

If you're familiar with then you may know about their cool freebie Title Scorer. Put your next book title to the test and see if it's destined to be a bestseller!

According to Writer's Digest' December Issue (Great Issue, btw) the top billing that a title could earn is 83 percent. Although we didn't put a book title to the test, we did do a "title-fight" of our website names, as pictured above. Really, it's all relative though. We aren't books, we're websites. And the Title Scorer takes other factors into consideration -- things such as grammar type, first word, second word, etc. In trying different combinations related to the words there were different outcomes. If you leave the subcategories untouched, then WD and WOW! end up the same. It's interesting though, that you can battle one title against the next and see the results.

This is a handy tool for any writer researching her next book title, because it gives you some indication of whether or not your book title will be catchy. Try it and see what you come up with! We'd love to know... feel free to leave comments. ;-)
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A Beautiful e-mail from Kathy Vancura

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Inspiration: Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul

Dear Beryl and Angela:

Well, where do I begin? Thanks to both of you for making your long and winding journey to Laguna Beach Books last Saturday to attend our book signing event.

Thanks also for sending the photographer, and for staying to chat with each of us after the crowd thinned.

I looked at your website today to see the "mention" of our stories, and was so pleasantly surprised at the coverage you so beautifully provided.

Your story was absolutely wonderful, and I thank you on behalf of the five of us for the time and effort taken to portray us in such a heroic way.

God Bless the both of you!
Kathy Vancura
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This is a beautiful email we had to share.

Saturday, October 14, 2006
Dear Editors,

As far back as I can remember I have loved language...whether it's the spoken or written word. Saying that...

Two things have happened in the last two weeks. First, I was finally able to see the heart-warming film: Akeelah and the Bee. Both beautifully written and directed by Doug Atchison. The main character was growing up on the South Side of LA. Really though, in my mind, it's not the location, it is the insecurities within her, and how she overcomes them.

As women, as writers, we can allow things to pull us down and not take the time to truly nurture ourselves, or maybe, never put ourselves out there and try. We say I'll do it tomorrow, while the clock is ticking ever so loudly.

What I'm saying is... if the desire, the drive in your heart is to write, then do it, Now!

Saying that leads me into the next thing: I found myself feeling the need for validation by someone I love with everything in me...but didn’t take the time to examine myself for the validation. Believing in ourselves will help move us forward...

No one is born published.

The following words, as well as I can remember them, from Akeelah and the Bee touch my heart:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are antiquated, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves 'who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous; actually, who are you not to be? We are born to make manifest the glory of God; this is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

With Love,
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The Power of Variety, Learning and Detail

Friday, October 13, 2006
If you’ve been with us for our September and October issues, you know we have had two authors that have beautifully written, albeit—quite humorously, at times, memoirs. They would be Maralys Wills, A Circus without Elephants, and Diana Abu-Jaber, The Language of Baklava.

There’s a book, On Writing Well, by William Zinseer, that I have been referring back to for quite a while. Chapter 14 is Writing About Yourself and there were a few things that stuck out in my mind. One thing is if you are a connoisseur of memoirs, like Mr. Zinseer, you won’t want to miss his partial list of favorites on page 135.

Mr. Zinseer discloses the art of detail as one secret in writing your memoir well. That chapter confirmed the true excellence found in the aforementioned memoirs.

As I continued reading, I felt a longing to start putting some things on paper, or in the computer, that I had previously felt I could never give _expression to. How interesting, that the power of learning some ins and outs of a particular genre can ignite creativity, previously suppressed or ignored. All this meditation brought to mind an interview I did this month.

Mary Rosemblum’s article echoes the sentiments of almost all the authors we’ve interviewed in the sense that she attributes her continued growth as an author to reading...reading...reading...
Her answer to the question of how important writing is to a writer, "Critical! You need to stretch, grow as a writer. Read things that you wouldn't ordinarily read. Read things that are outside your 'universe'. The more you broaden your mind, think about things, and see other viewpoints; the more you will bring to your writing, no matter what you do.”

Variety, the power of variety, the power of learning, the power of’s creating a desire within me to stretch, to be brave—like Maralys Wills and Diana Abu-Jaber—and write from the heart while engaging the brain, utilizing all these wonderful things I’m learning...won’t you join me?

Take care,

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Email Questions About the Flash Fiction Contest

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We received an e-mail from a reader who wanted to enter the Flash Fiction Contest, but she had a question concerning the prompt and genre. We thought we'd post it here for anyone who had a similar question.

To refresh your memory, here is the prompt: "You receive the pom-pom that you thought you had lost ten years ago in high school. There is no return address on the box."

Q: "For the contest, can you only write on the prompt? In some areas I felt that I could write in any genre and others only spoke of the prompt."

A: You can write in any genre, but your story must touch on the prompt in some way. Here are some examples:

Horror Genre: You could write about a stalker who sent you your old pom-pom in the mail.

Fantasy Genre: The pom-pom sent to you has magical powers that allows you to cloak your identity.

Romance Genre: An old flame from high school comes back into your life.

Mystery Genre: The pom-pom provides a clue to an unsolved case involving a murder victim.

Science Fiction Genre: In the future, pom-poms are considered contraband, and cheerleading is a forbidden...

Mainstream/Literary Genre: When the pom-pom arrives on the doorstep, it causes an unexpected quarrel with your husband.

Humor Genre: As you open the box containing the pom-pom, a crazy dog jumps out of nowhere, chews on it, and then carries it down the street as you go running frantically after him.


Anyway, you get the idea! Those were just off the top of my head. There are a plenty of ways to take this, and feel free to use one if you'd like. I'm not the judge, so I have no idea if these would appeal to Teresa, but the main thing is to be creative! It doesn't have to be plot driven, it could be character driven as well. Play with setting, location, and characters to see what you come up with... and most of all, have fun!

If you have any questions, you can post comments here on the blog and we'll answer them, or e-mail us at:

We look forward to your entries!

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'Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings' Wins Book of the Year

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tyler Perry's book Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings, published by Riverhead, was voted Book of the Year by readers last night in the second annual Quill Book Awards. Tyler's book also won in the Humor category.

Now I have another book to put on my reading list! Here's the blurb:

"In 2005, Tyler Perry took Hollywood by storm. The movie he wrote, produced, and starred in, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, opened number one at the box office and went on to gross more than $50 million. In its first week on sale, the DVD sold 2.4 million copies. At the same time, Perry was starring nightly across the country in a soldout stage show he'd also written, produced, and scored-Madea Goes to Jail-even as another one of his productions, Meet the Browns, was touring nationally. Every week in 2005, 35,000 people saw a Tyler Perry production. His second feature film, Madea's Family Reunion, opens in theaters in February 2006. Now, this triple-threat actor/playwright/director, has written his first book, and it features his most beloved, most irreverent creation: sixty-eight-year-old grandmother Madea Simmons.

Madea is at the center of all of Tyler Perry's work, and she's always unfailingly outspoken, dead-on, and hilarious. But in Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings, Madea shares more than she ever has before- about herself, and about what she thinks of everyone around her. The topics inimitably covered by Madea (a term of endearment for "Mother Dear") include love and marriage, child-rearing, etiquette and neighborliness, beauty tips, health tips, financial tips, the Bible and the church, and, of course, gun care. She's brazen, feisty, and never at a loss for words, but at the heart of everything she says- and at the heart of all of Perry's work-is a resounding message of faith and forgiveness.

Shockingly hilarious, surprisingly moving, and as rousing and inspiring as a great gospel show, Madea's words of wisdom, memories, and straight-up in-your-face advice will be cherished by Perry's numerous fans- and it all comes just in time for Mother's Day. Tyler Perry is about to take the publishing world by storm." -- from Penguin Group

Buy it here: Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earings

The Quills Award was held at the American Museum of Natural History, and was hosted by NBC News anchor Lester Holt. The Quills were created last year by Reed Business Information and NBC Universal Television Stations to give readers to opportunity to vote for their favorite books. The event will be aired as a one-hour special Oct. 28 on NBC. That should be interesting to check out.
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Aury Wallington on Booksie!

Friday, October 06, 2006
Our friend Sol over at has some exciting news!

Newton, MA - Aury Wallington, a writer for Sex and the City, Veronica Mars, and The Wedding Album, and author of a series of novels based on the popular television show The OC is teaming up with the new site to debut her novel POP!

“We’re really excited about helping Aury get the word out about her novel. We think the readers on the site will enjoy the advance peek they are getting,” said Sol Nasisi, the Founder and Director of TheNextBigWriter, LLC, the company that launched Booksie.

Aury’s new novel POP! is about Sex, Love and Friendship:

In POP!, seventeen year old Marit’s hilarious and disastrous attempts to juggle sex, love, and friendship leave her in danger of losing all three. POP! delivers an entertaining, thoughtful, and realistic portrayal of the emotional minefield of first love.
“I’m thrilled to be giving readers a sneak peek at the first chapter of POP!,” said author Aury Wallington. “Writing is such a solitary endeavor, but a site like Booksie makes me feel like I’m not alone. It’s amazing to be able to connect and interact with thousands of readers, and the immediacy of the site is so exciting and inspiring.”

Have you been to Booksie yet?

Booksie is a free site for writers to share and promote their writing. “Booksie provides writers with a platform to put their work in front of thousands of readers, while providing readers with an enormous choice and the ability to interact with the writers they like, said Sol Nasisi, Founder and Director of TheNextBigWriter.

Using Booksie, writers can quickly and easily share and promote their work over the web. With just a few clicks of the mouse writers can upload their novels, short stories, and poems to an eager worldwide audience that is growing daily. Writers determine how much or how little they wish to publish on the site. In addition, writers can receive and respond to reader comments and accumulate and manage a fan-base. Work that is highly ranked by readers appears on the site’s Top 20 list and receives even more exposure.

Empowered Readers

Readers on the site receive access to a rapidly growing list of work, easily searchable by keyword, tag, genre, and author. In addition, readers can leave comments and engage the writers, and through the ranking system determine which work will make it onto the various Top 20 lists. “Booksie offers readers an empowered reading experience. They don’t just have the opportunity to read, but can interact and with each other and with the authors on the site,” said Mr. Nasisi.

To read POP! on Booksie visit Aury Wallington’s Booksie page at: Aury Wallington on Booksie!

Read the first chapter of POP! or the work of other writers at

In addition to, TheNextBigWriter operates TheNextBigWriter an online writing workshop with over 4,000 registered members.

TheNextBigWriter, LLC provides the tools to empower writers and to bring readers new material from emerging and established writers. In addition to, the company also operates, an online writing workshop with over 4,000 registered members, and, a resource site for writers covering the art and business of writing. Together, these sites reach tens of thousands of writers and readers per month.


Congratulations Sol on the successful launch of your new website and we look forward to all the exciting things to come!
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Why enter a writing contest?

Thursday, October 05, 2006
Our writing contest is turning out to be more fun than we ever imagined. In addition, our respect for writers, at every stage of creativity, has grown immensely--since the inception of our flash fiction contest.

The variety of stories that are inspired by the same few words has amazed us. Writers, you are showing great imaginations, gifts of expressions and courage to hit that SEND button. We are impressed.

We read and laugh, cry and/or drop our jaws. What power words have, whether we are reading or writing, and that includes flash fiction.

Contest prompts can make us step outside of our comfort zones, dealing with themes that we may not be familiar with, some subjects that we never would have considered, on our own, and those stretching exercises help us grow as writers.

Another thing, entering contests demonstrates that we write for the sheer joy of writing! Let's face it, no one is going to make a living from entering writing contests. Nevertheless, a lot of us love the challenge of seeing what we can do with words wrapped around another person’s idea, word count or other guidelines.

Spontaneity is a part of creativity. Writing contests, especially like ours, encourages impulsiveness and, perhaps, can give a needed break from what we're doing. Contests engender a different kind of adrenaline rush from our usual routine and can spark some excellent writing when we return to our more serious projects.

These are just some of the motivations that I can think of, for entering a contest. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a contest prompt that suggests a story about why we would want to enter a contest. We are certainly open to ideas from you, the most important people with opinions—our readers.

Take care,

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Rubbing Shoulders with the Best

Sunday, October 01, 2006
When you're new to writing, it's like anything else, it's easy to feel awkward, etc. As time has progressed with my writing, I forgot something. I forgot that I'm still working feverishly to turn out the best I can, still learning what I can do to improve (thankfully, on that one), and many other things that I felt when I started writing.

As we have had the opportunity to interview very talented and successful authors, guess what I found out. Some things never change. They feel the same way we do; they're working feverishly to turn out their best work to date, they're still learning, they don't like being rejected and love being accepted.

There has been a common theme, "I'm always learning" and "I read, read, read," among other things.

WOW! (Forgive me.) I wish I had realized much sooner, that all the emotions, gasping for the next perfect words, anxious to find out if others see what I see in my writing...let's face it, Sisters of the Writing World, we'll never get over these moments. We'll always perspire (this is a woman's site) as profusely (okay, I could have used the man-word, couldn't I?) as we did when we started, hitting the highs and lows on our World of Writing Roller Coaster.

So my thought is that no matter where you are on the road to being published, from thinking about what you're going to write, on up to being on the bestseller list...we all share these same emotions, moments.

So, it's time to relax, as you feverishly write (maybe only women can do this simultaneously) and are on a roller coaster ride of emotional highs and lows...check out the woman next to you, she could have written the book you just read and loved.

Put your energy into your writing, no need to worry about anything else, just work with each moment as it comes and...


Take care,

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Sorry Ladies!

Thursday, September 28, 2006
Our web server was having a problem today and we were down for two hours! Not Nice. I think everyone from was down -- and what gets me is, I just checked our site after we went back up and we're down again... I'm truly sorry.

What do you do in these situations?

I haven't a clue, but if you know, maybe you can share your advice with us...

Thanks :)
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Contests--I love them--from both sides!

Monday, September 25, 2006
When Angela and I started dreaming about WOW!, we absolutely knew we had to have a contest.

We enjoy entering contests, it follows a lot of other people do, too. Our favorite part definitely isn't learning that we didn't win (not even honorable mention...really! I mean, who reads the entries anyway?!). Well, that's how some people react, of course, we were much more gracious, weren't we?

Back to having a WOW! Contest, now that we're receiving entries, I've discovered there's a whole other component I hadn't thought of. That's where privileged people get to read the efforts of talented people. It never dawned on me that my writing might have brought a smile to someone's face...even if I DIDN'T WIN! Oh, my, there's that ugly attitude again.

It's easy to think your entry must have been uninspiring, at least; perhaps judged as exhibiting no imagination etc. That's why, not being a contest winner can have more meaning attached to it than it deserves.

Stick with me on this thought, please, because our contest is an enriching experience, and I want to share how. When reading someone's creative efforts and knowing how much I enjoyed it, makes me realize that my entries have entertained, even caused someone to think. But, above all, I earned their respect, because I was willing to put myself out there. And, if my writing didn't do all or, at least, part of that, then I'm sorry someone was having that bad a day.

But, there's more, she says: It can't be helped, when you dream up a Writing Prompt, you have something specific floating around in your mind. I've found the proof that writers are not mind-readers, I may never read an entry that even comes close to what I was thinking. That is great, because I can see my idea wasn't nearly as good as I thought...but, the prompt was perfect for getting other minds going.

From now on, I hope we will all feel better about our contest entries, whether we win or not. (You can tell by the lack of CAPITALIZATION that my attitude is already getting better.)

Be assured that we appreciate the entries submitted. We will be sad, like so many others, that we can't let everyone how great their story was, even if...

Now, you know why I love contests--from both sides!

Take care,

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This collar is no fashion statement

Sunday, September 24, 2006
My pretty little Designer Dog (we had no idea nine years ago that our little puppy would be a social climbing aid) has very sensitive skin. Despite all the efforts made, a scoundrel flea attacked and bit--at great cost to him and Abda. My four-legged friend has Advantage on him, not good news for the flea.

Our outing wasn't the 'walk in the park' I had hoped for. Dr. Moon, our vet, banned us from the park. (Actually, I'm still allowed, but I would feel too guilty going there without him.) Dr. Moon surveyed the damage where Abda had gone into a biting frenzy because of the itching during the two hours I was gone. Flea dermatitis is a sad condition to have.

He created a bald spot about the size of a half-dollar and it hurt just to see the glowing red on his fawn to silver left haunch. Now Abda is sporting a blue plastic collar with black padded trim for comfort. Comfort, they must be kidding, I haven't been comfortable since I put it on him...uh, Abda is actually taking this much better than I am.

Since I must stick with the title, I have to admit that he does carry this look off better than some dogs I've seen. Picture this transparent, medium blue cone (collar), framing his Shih-Poo sweet little face. His ears, little palm-tree of silky black hair, and those adorable dark Shih-Tze eyes, peering above the flowing black hair that covers the rest of his face, excepting his silvery beard...

Hey, I said the collar was no fashion statement, I didn't say Abda wasn't a gorgeous dog--that wins everyone's heart.

Misery must love company, I feel so much better now that I've shared the trauma of this past week. Actually, it is fun visiting with you. However, a word to the wise, protect against those pesky fleas; not everyone looks good in a plastic blue collar.

Take care,

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To read or not to read, that is the question.

Thursday, September 21, 2006
This month I have the privilege of doing a review on the book of my choice. Time constraints with deadlines and life have me reading books by authors we are interviewing. Then Angela suggested a BW (before WOW!) book that I read, reminding me that I had several things to say about it. Yeah, you’ll have to wait for the October issue to find out which book I choose. However, this did get me to thinking about all the choices we have in the wonderful world of books.

Way, way before television, when Abraham Lincoln was reading by the light of the fireplace, and then way, way before that, men/women cherished books and read with joy and satisfaction. When was the last time you watched television and had that feeling? I don’t mean to knock TV completely, it certainly has its place—and we all have personal preferences about that. Nevertheless, I have to say, sometimes when watching TV, I stop and think, if the writer for that program did what I’m doing...there would be no program to watch.

Of course, someone else could argue, if no one watched the program there would be no reason to write it. Another one of life’s paradoxes, and my answer to that paradox (and the title to this little piece) is to decide if I could write something better, and if I can, I need to do so; and, if not, I should relax and enjoy the fruitage of another writer’s labor...OR, READ A GOOD BOOK!
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Cookie Dough Comforters and Itchy Bed Bugs

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

When staying in a hotel, the comforter is the first thing that you should peel off the bed and throw into a corner. The unassuming background in six shades of beige and the colorful spray of roses and soft foliage may lull you into a doughy hibernation, but don’t let that distract you from the stiff fabric and the scratchy texture.

Two weeks ago at the Action Sports Retail (ASR) trade show in San Diego, I went to stay with my husband at the Embassy Suites. Upon entering the room, the first thing I noticed was the comforter lumped in the corner like some kind of cookie dough ball and my hubby resting atop two thin sheets in an ice cold room. He’s some kind of polar bear, I guess, whereas I am a dainty flower with poor circulation.
Soon he drifted off to sleep, above the covers, and I was shivering and hungry. So I went into the front room, threw on the TV, and gorged on some leftover chicken and fries, all the while snuggling under that lovely comforter I’d drug in from the other room. Long story short, I was itching like crazy the whole next day. Strange bumps appeared, like bug bights, and I remember seeing these same things before…when I stayed in another hotel room and ignored my husband’s requests to discard the comforter. It all makes sense…now.

Comforters are the least washed, if washed at all, item in a hotel room. To quote an ex-Janitor, “For your own good, sleep between the sheets! Those blankets and comforters are NEVER washed, (unless there is a pressing need, like a huge brown stain, or an outbreak of the Ebola virus).”
And an article from the Washington Post states, “While hotels changed the sheets daily, or as often as guests requested, some major chains cleaned the bedspreads only once every three months or instructed housekeepers to remove them only if they saw spots or soiling.”
Hmmm… that sounds remarkably similar to the ex-janitor’s testimony. I’m a believer now, but had to learn the hard way. Hope you all don’t have to!
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What do you think of MySpace?

Monday, September 18, 2006
I finally started participating on myspace: and it’s been great so far! I originally thought of it as just a meat market from all the bad press, but I’ve come to find out that there are a lot of great people out there. I’ve been on it for a little over a week, and the response has been amazing… I’ve met like-minded individuals, authors, and readers in such a short amount of time.

One of my friends referred to it as “her crack-pipe,” and I can see why. It’s addicting! I try not to stay on there too long, but long enough to read the bulletins and emails. There are also a number of book groups on there that you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise…and we know how important that is to authors. It’s like anything, I guess, you can choose to do with it what you will, and with anything there’s always going to be predators, because it is a microcosm or macrocosm (considering the number of people on there!) of the real world.

Give me a shout out if you’re on there ;)
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Follow-Up to AT&T Fire

Friday, September 15, 2006
Firefighter hurt at AT&T blaze in Anaheim
Roll-up door fell on firefighter; extent of injuries unknown.


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What do recipes, music, and poetry have in common?

Frank McCourt, the author of Angela’s Ashes and Teacher Man.

Last night I was watching Maria Hall-Brown’s show “Bookmark” on KOCE, and found myself enthralled with her program. It was just like a good book I couldn’t put down! Maria interviewed Pulitzer-Prize-winner Frank McCourt about his new memoir Teacher Man and his unconventional teaching techniques.

Frank wanted to teach his creative writing students about poetry and prose, but they didn’t have any interest in the subject. So, one day a student of his was talking about making Marzipans, and Frank didn’t have any idea of what that was, so the student said he’d bring some in to share with the classroom.

The next day, the student brought in these beautiful little Marzipan layer cakes molded into ornamental shapes and placed into colorful paper cups. Frank asked him for the recipe, and as the student recited it, Frank McCourt had visions of poetry, not only from the words, but also from the structure.

If you take a close look at the formula of a recipe, it does have similar structure to a poem. For instance:

Classic Petit Fours

• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1 1/4 cup sugar (1 cup + 0.25 cup)
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp almond extract
• 2 cups pastry flour
• 1 tbsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 3/4 cup buttermilk
• 6 egg whites


for the complete recipe go to:
Marzipan Recipe


Soon after that, students started bringing in various dishes from around the world. And since “eating in class” was forbidden, Frank McCourt suggested that they take their lunches out to the park across from the classroom. There they assembled underneath a shady tree and shared dishes from around the world. Students brought a variety of food, including some from Frank’s native Ireland. (One student brought a typical Irish 7-course meal: "a six-pack and a potato.")

The recipes flowed in, and the students read them aloud. One student suggested that the recipes be put to music, and after that, there were stringed instruments, horns, drums, and flute to accompany the reading of such delicious prose.

There was a break-through moment for Frank and for the class when a Chinese student read a traditional family recipe for Peking Duck in Mandarin. She’d brought her brother along with her to play a “strange stringed-instrument” while she read, and the sound was exquisite. So exquisite that the Principle came down from his office to ask, “What is all the racket?”
By that time, all the students had joined in with their cymbals, drums, flutes, toms, maracas and cowbells, while holding their recipe cards in song and dance, to conquer this thing called poetry!


Anyway, I found the episode riveting. Thank you Maria Hall-Brown for providing such wonderful content to KOCE. I don’t know if all of you outside Orange County, CA get the show Bookmark, but it is wonderful and she’s an awesome interviewer. Check out
for more info.


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From the Homefront: Breaking News

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What is that smell?

I was typing on my computer when I noticed a strange odor I couldn’t place…something chemical or plastic burning…to the point that it was almost overwhelming. For a moment I thought that my nose hairs had caught on fire! Luckily, they hadn’t.

I ventured into the kitchen and checked the oven, then the microwave, and then did a sniff test of everything around. The only strange smell that I could detect was coming from my cat’s litter box, which isn’t so strange when I come to think about it. The girl eats a lot of tuna and freshly cut turkey from a local Deli I go to. (Yes, she’s spoiled)

Well, an hour later, after I’d given up the quest of hunting for the strange smell, I decided to take a shower and hit the liquor store to grab my nightly essentials. As soon as I was walking out to my car, I heard the ghetto birds swarming overhead. For those of you who don’t know what “ghetto birds” are: they’re black helicopters that circle seedy neighborhoods looking for America’s most wanted, or news copters looking for a scoop. In this case it was the latter.

A block from my business/loft was a blockade of ten police cars, four fire trucks, and a street full of gawkers; myself included. The SBC now AT&T building a block from my pad was on fire! Fire crews had one of those huge ladders that extended from their vehicle to the top of the building, with smoke pouring out of the roof like a chimney. So I drove as close as I could, rolled down my window and reached into my glove box for my digital camera. Coughing from the rank smell, I pulled it out and turned the viewfinder on and snapped a shot. One terrible shot, and my camera blinked “full” and then “out of batteries.” I called my husband and said, “Honey, the SBC building is on fire! You got to get a shot of this!” I new he’d just gotten a new digital Sony camera that was tons better than my old HP that I’d gotten for Christmas four years ago, and although he was somewhat sleepy, he agreed.

I got to the liquor store, and the young brown-skinned clerk was just closing the door. “Did you see what’s going on out there?” I asked. “It really smells, doesn’t it?”
“No,” he said dryly, “I was just closing the door to keep you out.”
For a moment I’d almost forgotten my witty comebacks, but then quickly retorted, “Oh, I just thought you were trying to keep your smell in.” (Whatever that meant… not one of my best, I’ll admit.) I went to the back of the store and grabbed some water jugs and a bottle of cabernet and headed up to the counter.
“Didn’t your mom ever tell you that you shouldn’t leave the house with your hair wet?” he said.
“That’s a myth.”
“Yeah, it is.”

After some meaningless flirtation and a look at his recent tattoos, I headed back to the chaos. I asked my hubby if the shots had turned out, but he said that they didn’t. I wondered if he’d even remembered to take his camera out there? So I got on my Mac and tried searching the “breaking news” on this, but to no avail. I don’t know if it’ll be out tomorrow, because surely there was a bunch of press there. But the strange thing was, that as I was searching on the Orange County Register’s site, and found something that happened just three blocks away from me tonight! I don’t have a clue if these two incidents are involved with one another, but it sure is odd.

A big rig flipped over and caught on fire, killing at least one person just a couple hours before this incident with the AT&T fire had occurred! OC Reg: Few blocks away!

This location has been a constant place for disaster. The Metro Link crashed here a few years ago. A teenager died a block from here by crashing into the river basin, leaving nothing but a shrine behind, and I’m just glad I’m moving out in January! I don’t have a clue what this all means. I’m just putting together the puzzle pieces, seeing if they’ll fit, and trying to make some sense of it all… like we tend to do in our daily lives and adventures....

Angel (surrounded by chaos, lol)
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It's a dirty job; but somebody has to do it!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
There is so much happening. Assignments, interviews, and a multitude of other concerns seem to be commanding my attention. And, then I realize that I need to read BAKLAVA by Diana Abu-Jaber, because we'll be interviewing her.

Imagine that! I'm used to feeling guilty if I quit work and indulge in a good book. But, hey, now it's MY JOB!

Before that, I HAD to read A CIRCUS WITHOUT ELEPHANTS by Maralys Wills and KIRA, KIRA by Cynthia Kadohata, etc.

All of this has me appreciating what a blessed and rich life I'm leading. I don't have a lot of time to spend on regrets, but I wish I had been smarter in my younger age, and made more time for important things--like reading more good books.

Reading a good book produces a domino effect in the reader's life. You are pulled out of your life's story, to give your brain and emotions a charge, which in turn reduces stress and that's good for a body. When you set the book down and step back into the real world, you have a fresh perspective and, if you're anything like me, a spring in your step.

That's really powerful! Words on a page can do so much for the reader. And, in turn, this fuels the fire within to give your best, so your own writing can have the same effect on your readers. When that happens, the last domino lands on you with a resounding thud, and you grasp the fact that reading that good book...

Well, it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it! And, aren't we glad! So, after thoroughly checking out WOW! (then, you can move on to more good reading ;-D ), be sure to pick up a good book and do yourself and a hard working author a favor...


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Hi to all--glad we could all make it

Saturday, September 02, 2006
This has been such an exciting, almost unbelievable experience for the WOW! gang: Angela, Jonathan (our expert web guy--dare we even admit we had a guy's help) and me. Meeting the fabulously wonderful people and having so much enthusiasm and support went beyond any dreams that we had.

We're looking forward to hearing from everyone as they turn through the WOW! pages...we want you to be as excited about the people and what they have to offer as we are.

All the articles not only give great direction but their personalities shine through. What we love about that is the ability for our readers to identify with various ones and then the advice comes alive.

We have a great start but the real life will come to WOW! through the interaction (comments, suggestions) from you, our readers--fellow writers, editors, agents, publishers and, of course, the main reason for all of our work: the loyal readers.

Angela and I stayed up talking on the phone so long that I’m embarrassed to tell you how late...just going over what's been accomplished and how we want to build on that.

So, stay with us as we grow and offer up some of the extraordinary and talented people and direction to better writing...and, of course, getting your work published. Everyone in the industry will be edified by comments from readers to know how to write or get the best work out there.

Thanks to everyone for being there and that includes you, the reader of the song my heart strings are playing now.

Take care,

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