Ask the Book Doctor

Sunday, September 30, 2007
About Book Contracts and Slipstream
By Bobbie Christmas

Q: I know there are lots of books on this subject, but I was wondering if you could streamline it for me. When you are signing a book contract, especially as a first-time author, what are the germane things you should be on the lookout for?

A: Your best course is to run the contract by an entertainment attorney, but if you wish to bypass that step, here is a little layperson’s guidance.

Be careful what rights you are signing over and at what price. Only you can decide which rights you are willing to sell and for how much, but be sure not to sign all your rights away without knowing what you are doing. Some authors may warn you not to allow the publisher the right of first refusal on your next book or books, but others will say such a clause means only that the publisher must be willing to match an offer you may get elsewhere. The decision is personal.

Also be sure that the contract includes in writing what the publisher is going to do for you and by what date.

In the end, authors must decide which issues are worth fighting for. Authors and publishers should agree to a contract that gives the author some of the things he or she wants and gives the publisher some of the things it wants, without making anyone a fool or an enemy.

If the contract is with a subsidy or vanity press, the issues will be different. Be sure you know exactly what you are getting for your money and by what date the finished product will be produced.

Q: My writers association has a markets section in its newsletter that listed a market called The Edge that is looking for a type of work called “slipstream.” I have never heard of this. Do you know what it is?

A: By golly, I was stymied myself. I looked around on the Web and found the following information on the Wikipedia site, one of my favorite resources:

“Slipstream is a term for a style of fiction that pushes conventional genre boundaries and doesn't sit comfortably within the confines of either science fiction/fantasy, or mainstream literary fiction.

“The term slipstream in reference to literature was coined by cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling in an article originally published in SF Eye #5, July 1989. He says in part: ‘This is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange.’ Slipstream fiction has been referred to as ‘the fiction of strangeness’ and falls into the gap between speculative fiction and mainstream fiction.”

Bobbie Christmas is the owner of Zebra Communications, a literary services firm providing manuscript editing services to individuals and publishing houses since 1992. Contact her at 770-924-0528, visit her Web site at, or e-mail her at Be sure to sign up for the free Writers Network News by visiting her Web site and clicking on “Free Newsletter.”
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Tag, You're It!

Saturday, September 29, 2007
Last night I flopped down on my loveseat and stared expressionless at the television—a ritual I do at the end of a busy day to empty my brain. After a few moments of "brain-drain," commercial grabbed my interest:

A woman stood on a busy corner and waited to cross. A young man was about to run into the intersection when the woman pulled him back just as a car sped around the corner. In the next scene, the same young man helped a woman struggling with her groceries. As items started to fall out of her bag, the young man grabbed them then carried the woman's groceries to her car. In the next scene the young woman with the groceries reached out to someone else in need and so on. The commercial was for life insurance, which was revealed when the woman who saved the young man from the car dealt with her clients in the closing scene.

Now, I realize the company’s message was different from what I got out of it but I thought, “Wow. Look how far one random act of kindness extends.” It’s the same with our writing.

When we write an article or story, someone who reads it will (hopefully) be affected or inspired by our words in some way. It may even sprout other articles or stories from it. A good example is the article I wrote for WOW—Start Me Up—was inspired by my experience with starting up a freelance writing business. The goal was to give encouragement to other Writing Moms who wanted to do the same thing but weren't sure how or where to start. Another Writing Mom, Tricia Ares—a fantastic writer—emailed me to say she was inspired by my advice about “writing around life.” In fact, Tricia wrote her own article on the subject (what an honor!). I checked out her thought-provoking article and read the comments left by other Writing Moms. They thanked Tricia for her awesome article and wrote how they were inspired by her words. See the pattern?

Just like the insurance woman who saved someone’s life and Tricia Ares, the inspirational Writing Mom, we see how random acts of inspiration and kindness can extend far beyond where they're intended to go. For me, my only hope when I write a piece is that my words can reach even just one person. And if that one person is touched in some way by my experience or what I’ve shared, I’ve done my job. And all writers have this ability.

So go out there and write to inspire; to reach out; to voice out; or just to share. And see how far your words branch out.


Happy writing.

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WOW! Chats with Author Hazel Statham

Friday, September 28, 2007
Welcome to WOW!'s little corner of the blog-o-sphere. Let's start with a little bit about yourself.

I live in England and have just 'officially' retired. I have been married to my husband since 1969 and have a daughter and a beautiful five-year-old grandson. Apart from writing, my other ruling passion is animals and until recently I was the treasurer of an organisation that raised money for animal charities. I write mainly in the Regency and Georgian eras but occasionally stray into Medieval times.

WOW: How cool! You live in the perfect setting for your stories. How long have you been a writer?

I started writing at fifteen and wrote my first novel at sixteen however, when I think back, I wrote my first poem at thirteen. It was a school English exam and we were asked to write down our favourite poem. Of course, my mind went blank, but rather than just sit looking at the paper I decided to write a poem of my own. You can imagine my amazement when I passed the exercise with a healthy 8/10! As to my first story, I just had a compulsion to write and create my own historical world and that compulsion has stayed with me to varying degrees ever since.

WOW: What do your family and friends think about your writing? Are they supportive?

My family is very supportive but I can remember my daughter's amazement when she first read one of my novels. She rang me up late at night and said, "Mum, I can't believe it. It's like a real book and I loved it!"

WOW: That's so funny:-) And it has to be one of the good things about writing. For you, what's the most rewarding thing about writing? Most frustrating?

The most rewarding is when you see your work in print and hear from a reader who has enjoyed your work. The most frustrating has to be when ideas come to you at inappropriate times and you have no way of writing them down. For example, we were on a nine and a half hour flight from the Uk to the USA and the ideas were coming thick and fast, but I had no way of writing them down. When we arrived at the hotel, the first thing I did was go in search of pen and paper - I've never travelled without a notebook since!

WOW: That must have been horrible! So, where do you get most of your ideas? From life or your imagination? A mix?

I take inspiration from several sources. "My Dearest Friend" came from a dream. "The Portrait" from a line in a song from the film "Hawks". It takes very little to set my imagination flowing and a scenario soon presents itself.

WOW: I just love those kind of dreams! Do you ever have times when the words just won't flow?

Like every author, I have days when my mind refuses to work and the only solution that works for me is to forget about writing and wait until something presents itself. I find that my most productive ideas come late at night and I am not long without inspiration.

WOW: Do you know your whole story before you begin to write it?

Although I write a brief outline of where I want my story to go, I am ever open to suggestions from my characters. Quite often I hear words coming out of their mouths that take the story off at a tangent. These tangents can be very interesting and can add even more depth to the story. For instance, in "My Dearest Friend" I never knew Stefan had an illigitimate daughter until the sergeant strode onto the page and told me and it added yet another element to the plot.

WOW: I just love it when characters do the unexpected! What is the best piece of advice you've been given as a writer? What's the worst?

When you write historical fiction you must research your era and if you state fact, make sure that you make the story fit the fact, not the fact fit the story. The worst has to be to only write to fit the market - I say, write what interests you and in caring for your characters you inspire others to care about them too.

WOW: Such great advice. How about sharing any upcoming publications and links for our reader

Please visit my web-site to view information and reviews of my current and upcoming publications.

"Dominic" available now from Wings ePress Fictionwise, Barnes and Noble and Borders
"My Dearest Friend" available January, 2008 from Wings ePress
"His Shadowed Heart" available June, 2008 from Wings ePress

Drop me a line at to subscribe to my newsletter or if you wish to discuss any of my releases. I love hearing from my readers.

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us and good luck with your writing!
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Tis' the season...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I love this time of year. The leaves are changing from green to brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. It's a bit cooler, especially at night and the air just seems to have a different feel to it. Plus the holidays are coming soon. The fall festivals and Thanksgiving will be shared with family and friends and Christmas will be here all too soon so we won't think about that yet.

One of my favorite things about this time of year is National Novel Writing Month. That's right...a whole month set aside just for novel writing. How wonderful! If I didn't know better, I'd think this was planned just for me. But before I get too's a bit of info for those of you who haven't heard of NaNo.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNo for short.) was started by a group of aspiring novelists as a fun way to get their novels written. That first year, 21 people started out and 6 actually completed their novels. Eight years later over 79,000 people took part in the literary madness with thousands of novels being finished.

NaNo's focus is on fun with only a few rules. It must be a novel, you must start from scratch on Nov. 1st (you can plan ahead though) and to "win" you must write at least 50,000 words before midnight Nov. 30th. NaNo's theme is "No Plot, No Problem!" and is for anyone who has ever thought they'd like to give novel writing a try.

As a multiple NaNo participate and "winner" I want to encourage everyone who's ever thought about trying to write a novel to check it out. There's no entry fee, it's all done in fun. If you don't make the 50,000 word count by the end of the month, (I actually didn't my first try.) no one will take away your birthday or say you aren't a real writer.

Here's what you get by taking part in NaNo. You learn about the way you write, whether you can take an idea and run with it or whether you need more structure and just what it takes to write a novel. No matter how many words you end up with at the end of the month, you have more than you started with and you'll make friends who have the same interests as yourself. Naturally, any novel written in 30 days is going to be a rough draft but you now have a place to start. After all, you can't revise what you haven't written.
Can't write 50,000 words in 30 days??? Don't think of it that way. Break it down into manageable bites of 1,667 words each day.

While NaNo's theme is "No Plot, No Problem", for many of us no plot is a problem. So, for those of us who need a bit more structure, check out our "Plotting the NaNo Novel" workshop. This workshop takes the month of Oct. to prepare for Nov. You'll work on in-depth character development, settings, plot & story arc along with researching. It includes worksheets and emails to encourage you through the NaNoing process. Plus, it also includes a one on one critique of your first 25 pages to help you get started on the revision process. You can email me for more info on the workshop.

You can sign up for your NaNo experience starting Oct. 1st. The NaNo site is being prepared for this year's event now so the forums aren't available but when they reopen on the first I'll set up a WOW! thread in the "Writing Group" area for all of us to gather and encourage each other so be sure to look for it. Cheerleaders Welcome!

Again, if you've ever thought about writing a novel, check out NaNo. You won't be sorry!


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The Power of Words

Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Remember at the start of the Harry Potter saga when Harry was taken to get his wand? The shopkeeper searched his "stock", had Harry try several different makes and models so to speak until he found the perfect match. In Harry's hands, that properly fit wand made a powerful tool.

Words are just like that wand. In the right hands, words have an amazing power. Consider these words.

"I have a dream!"

Just four little words but what power they held when first spoken many years ago by Martin Luther King, Jr. Words that have shaped a nation and still stir us today. Words that I'm sure will never be forgotten.

Or what about "I love you." or "I hate you." "Thank you." and "Please"? Words that when spoken can either lift a person to amazing heights or plunge them into despair.

And let's not forget about the Imus fiasco. With just a few words he stirred things up all across our nation, lost his job and earned the scorn of many people. Once spoken, words can never be unsaid.

Written words are just as powerful. For example, an interview with Angela, WOW! founder and CEO was posted yesterday at LunarPages.

Tiara did a great job interviewing Angela. Her questions were thoughtful, the answers given were inspiring and encouraging. Yet, three little words meant to be light and fun caused things to get blown WAY out of proportion. It wouldn't have taken much to get a comment war started.

I think many times we take words for granted. But they truly are powerful tools in the right hands. Words stir our souls and empower us. They uplift and encourage. Words take us to times and places we may never see in person.

Yet, when misused words can tear apart families and hurt those we love the most. Words have the power to divide nations and ruin lives.

So today, I want us to do two things:--) That's right...I have an assignment for you. First, share what words encourage or empower you with the rest of us. Got a favorite saying or quote...then share it in the comment section.

Next, head on over to LunarPages and read Tiara's interview with Angela. Here's the link. Then, comment and let Tiara know what a great job she did.


Oh...I found my empowering words on the wall of a used car salesman years ago. Now, it's on my wall and in my sig. line at StoryCrafters. "Only he who attempts the ridiculous can achieve the impossible."
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

As an intern for WOW! I want to share a woman-run success story. My web host is DrakNet, and they’ve made an amazing announcement I’d like to share:

We wanted to send out this special announcement that as of today, DrakNet is now 100% Carbon Neutral, and you can now brag that your website is truly green.

DrakNet now purchases Green Tags monthly for the amount of energy that is used to run the servers, lights, etc. Green Certificates (also known as Green Tags) are a simple way to offset the use of carbon-based energy sources and effectively power a business (or your home) on 100% renewable energy resources, without changing electricity providers.

We have chosen to purchase Green Tags for 110% of our carbon footprint, for 100% solar power. What this means is that for any energy DrakNet uses in our operations, that same amount of energy (+10% in case our calculations are incorrect) will be pumped back into the grid from solar power generation, essentially "cleaning" the energy, neutralizing our negative effect on the earth, and allowing us to claim to be "solar powered" and "green".

DrakNet struggled for several years between our energy consumption, and service - there are solar hosts in a few solar data centers. The pricing, however, both for shared and dedicated servers is no where near economical and would effectively negate the pricing structure our clients have come to rely on, and their reliability is not yet up to the par of a world class data center.

By purchasing certified green certificates (or green tags), we have been able to negate our power hungry servers and make sure that our impact on the earth is neutralized.

We look forward to the day when solar energy data centers offer as much value as power hungry data centers - and when they do, we will be there.

What are Green Certificates, or Green Tags?* (written by . . .

If you’d like to find out more details on this service, go to:

Hosting with a mission...
DrakNet specializes in hosting for progressive sites, and we actively support non-profit organizations within our community in a multitude of areas - technological, humanitarian, spiritual, educational, political, and environmental to name a few. We currently offer discounted hosting to non-profit community groups, and believe that through sponsored hosting, we can be pro-active in helping to make our world a better, kinder and safer place.

Female Owned Business
DrakNet is owned and operated by a woman, a feat considered almost as rare in this industry as running Windows for a year solid without having to reinstall anything. Flanked by big, burly geek men this enables us to not only provide comforting sympathy when things go wrong, but the power to wrestle ornery technology into submission in confrontations between man and machine.

I’ve used DrakNet as a host since I put up my tarot reading site in the late 90s and without fail, the Ladies at ‘Drak’ have been there for me. If I’ve lost a password, have a question about software or am so confused I don’t know what question to ask, Jen at DrakNet gets back to me in a timely and patient way. When I needed to put up a second site, I never even considered looking anywhere else for a hosting service.

Going Green is frosting on a cake that was already sweet. I haven’t changed my sites to indicate their new Green status but I do know that when I do, DrakNet is going to be right there for me if I have any problems.

Sally Franklin Christie
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Going Seamless

Monday, September 24, 2007
Tessellations--shapes repeated again and again to fill a plane without gapping or overlapping--create intricate and seamless pieces of artwork, like M.C. Escher’s work shown here. A reprint of this specific work hangs on a wall near my desk. My eyes drift toward it whenever I’m tired of working with words. The blend of animals, people, and fantasy creatures transports my mind to different places, stories, and memories. Somehow Escher’s art refreshes my thoughts. I glimpse something different each time I look into it.

Escher once said, “I don’t grow up. In me is the small child of my early days.” I think this statement is true for many people. My inner child still thrives as a big part of who I am today, from the activities and sports I choose with my kids to the stories I write. My fiction follows from adventures I lived as a kid. My grandparents and parents owned 27 acres of farmland on the outskirts of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and I remember exploring every square inch--the tops of the tallest pine trees that bordered the land, the sugar maples near the houses, the silk mimosa tree, the barns, garages, root cellar, tree house, manmade pond, attics, basements, and hundreds more intriguing places most kids would love to explore. It seemed endless.

The strangest aspect about fiction is how real it becomes as we write it. I remember telling someone recently in an email that I grew up on a 32-acre farm. But that was wrong. I simply typed my fictional number instead of the real one. Somehow my stories are becoming more real to me than the real place I started using as my fiction base. I don’t know if this is good or bad or if it matters.

Unfortunately, that farm no longer exists. A huge freeway runs through what used to be a childhood paradise. Yet I can’t think about that aspect. Even though it’s been replaced with rebar, concrete, asphalt, and barriers, its special hideaways and secret places still exist in my memory, or at least most of them.

So, where am I going with this?

Tessellations usually apply to art and math. Of course, not all shapes can tessellate. In the same way, not all story details, words, or plot ideas work together, seamlessly. But writers need to achieve seamlessness. In Self-Editing for Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print, Renni Brown and Dave King write, “The surest sign that you’re achieving literary sophistication is when your writing begins to seem effortless.” Writing, of course, isn’t effortless. But the illusion from the outside reading in is what matters. Fred Astaire made dancing look as natural and effortless as walking. M.C. Escher made art look so easy. Graceful authors do the same for their fiction.

I hope that one day my fictional stories will flow as effortlessly as Escher’s tessellations--without gaps in plot or overlapping and repetitive words in the details. In his book, A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation, Noah Lukeman reminds us that even the punctuation should be seamless. I guess it’s all just a matter of practice, practice, and ever-flowing practice.

I'd love to hear other bloggers' input here. Do you use certain techniques to go seamless? What kind of exercises do you apply? What craft books do you use? I'd love to know, and I'm sure other writers would, too.

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What do I do with all these links?

Sunday, September 23, 2007
Q: Andie writes, "I enjoy and learn from the blogs in the Muffin. I am not a techno-whiz, so there is much that I don't understand. What's this stuff at the end of each blog that relates to "subscribe to this feed?", "save to", "share on Facebook?", and "Digg this!" What am I to do with all of these links? I really want to know....they look like fun. After you all quit laughing, let me know because I am laughing, too. Thanks for your attention, and again you're great women writers site. You all have my vote."

A: Thanks Andie for the kudos! And I'm sure many other writers have the same question -- you just asked it first.

Some of those links (such as Delicious, Digg, Stumble, and Outside In) are to social bookmarking (or tagging) websites. Think of it like you'd bookmark your favorite website in your browser, but you're bookmarking it for the whole world to see. These are great for promoting your blog and I highly recommend that you sign up for them and tag your favorite sites. It works as a news aggregator, and all you have to do is click on the links at the bottom of our posts and sign up! You can add comments, reviews, and discuss posts on these sites as well. Join the fun!

And, if you have a blog yourself, you can easily add these links to the bottom of your posts by getting a line of code (script) from feedburner, a site that burns your feed and allows readers to get posts by email. Instead of going to the blog to read the post, you can read it on your favorite homepage, such as Yahoo! or Google. It makes it easy to keep up with the latest from all of your favorite blogs and read them in one place.

Go explore, promote the Muffin, and we'll promote your blog too! Be sure to tell us when you do, so we know to recip. ;-)

Do you have a question that you want answered on our blog? Send all questions to: and we'll answer them! (Ann Landers style)
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My Essay For The Newest WOW Contest

Saturday, September 22, 2007
Happy Saturday WOW Blogesses!

I can’t wait to see the entries for our new Fall Nonfiction Essay contest. The prompt is a great one—and I’d have several stories to choose from—but alas; I can’t enter. However, I can share one of my stories with you here.

When I was in Grade One—about seven years old—my English teacher exposed us to the wonderful world of publishing. Each student got to create their own Pulitzer Prize winning story and be taught what happens during the publishing process. Each of us got to write a story, create our illustrations and help to create our book covers—it was all so fascinating and exciting to me.

My story was about a little bug named Super Bug who had extraordinary strength and powers with only one thing he feared: a size 11 shoe! He donned a little black mask and a long, flowing black cape. His antennae stood long and strong on top of his head, and he had a super belt with the initials “SB” on it. Okay…so the story was only about 12 pages in total, a child recognizably sketched the illustrations and the pages and “cover” were laminated construction paper, but it was my very first publication. And I was so proud.

The best part was our little books were available in the library for other students to take out and read. How exciting it was to have a fellow student come up to me and say, “I read your Super Bug book, Chynna. I laughed so hard, milk came out my nose.” I think we were supposed to take our publications home at the end of the school year but, in all the excitement and relief of the school year coming to a close, I forgot to collect my book. When I finally remembered my book, I figured the school would just take it off the shelf and throw it away. Although I never forgot Super Bug, or the experience of writing it, I sadly tucked the memory away in the corners of my mind.

About 21 years later my sister, Heather, who was the same age I was when I wrote my first “novel,” came home from school one day with a small, faded blue book with curled corners. She waved the book excitedly around and said, “Chynna! Chynna! Look what I took out of the library today!”

I couldn’t believe my eyes: Super Bug! My sister said it was the funniest little book she ever read and, of course, she had to tell all her schoolmates and teachers her big sister was the one who wrote it. My school library kept it all of those years.

That was my sign—my omen—that writing was to be my destiny. How cool is that?

So...what are you waiting for? What was the one thing---good or bad---from your past that made a huge difference in your life? WOW wants to know! Really, we do. Get writing and enter our Fall Nonfiction Essay contest sponsored by skirt! magazine and share your story with us. I can’t wait to read your entries.

Happy writing.

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Look Up

Friday, September 21, 2007

Have you noticed when people are stressed they tend to look toward the ground? I know I do it. Maybe I’m “odd” this way. But when I feel exhausted by my kids’ moods or trivial-but-annoying problems, I just tend to curl up like knotted ball of yarn. Most people smile where I live--mild climates are conducive to them--especially when people are walking their dogs, golfing, playing soccer, or simply talking to a neighbor.

But the stress balls can be spotted easily: eyes turned down, tight lips, and a fast-paced walk that shouts, “don’t talk to me; in fact, don’t even look at me.”

Sometimes, though, if we force ourselves to uncurl and look to the skies, we can find a little inspiration…it could be the clouds in their infinite number of shapes, birds, tall trees, or the sun rising over the top of a mountain, burning away a light morning fog.

As the weather gets colder, I need to look up. Or I look for something new and different to write about, like a local event.

Every October in Albuquerque we have the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. During this 9-day event, hot air balloons pepper the skies with rainbows of color, waving and smiling people, and the classic sounds of the propane burners. Hundreds of balloons rise to the occasion (pun intended). It’s simply an awesome sight. The only tough part is in trying to rise by 4:30am to beat the mad traffic, find parking, and secure a great cup of hot cocoa, funnel cakes, and a good seat before the Dawn Patrol goes up. They verify that the balloonists have the right conditions before the Mass Ascension.

Anyway, when I need a spark, I write about the things that make me uncurl, open up, and think with a smile.

Every city has something amazing, homey, or unique. What is your town or city known for that makes it different? What events do you look forward to every year? Have you written about these events? Let us know. It might spark a great new idea for a story, or remind you of an event that would be perfect for our current contest prompt.

Write Up!

Smiley Sue
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Wednesday's Announcements

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
This just in from LA Writer's Group ( )

Fall session writers groups are starting up in just a few weeks! If you live in the Los Angeles area and are looking for ways to spark creativity, fill that notebook, and get feedback on your writing in a safe environment, check them out at: Happy Writing!


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Read "The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book" from cover to cover and then use the accompanying "Author's Workbook" to assist you in putting the methods, processes and ideas into practice.

Take advantage of the Pre-Publication DISCOUNT offer on these two NEW books--good through September 20, 2007. You pay just $25 for both the book (regularly $19.95) and the workbook (regularly $12.95) plus tax (CA residents) and shipping.

Order using your Visa or Mastercard at (scroll all the way down and click the ordering button on the bottom/left). Or send a check to the address below.

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Send any questions you have to: plfry620[at]
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Angela Mackintosh, WOW! Founder

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Just the other day our own Angela Mackintosh was interviewed by Mom-Writers Literary Magazine. How very cool!

It's a very nice site so check it out.

Here's the link to Angela's interview.

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Spotlight on Paula Schmitt & Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine

Monday, September 17, 2007

I had a chance to pose a few questions to Paula Schmitt, Founder and CEO of Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine. For readers who are unfamiliar with Paula and her magazine, read on…she’s an inspiring business woman, a successful author, and a super busy mom…

Paula Schmitt, award-winning author of Living in a Locker Room: A Mom’s Tale of Survival in a Houseful of Boys (2005), has been published in hundreds of publications. She has appeared on numerous radio talk shows and in print publications such as American Baby, Family Circle, Parenting, All You, Real Simple, Adoption Today, Adopting for Tomorrow magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Herald, The Burlington Free Press and many others. She is the Founder and CEO of Mom Writer’s Productions, LLC, Founder and President of award-winning Mom Writer’s Literary magazine (2005) – “A literary magazine for mom writers who have something to say”, and Founder, Host and Executive Producer of her radio talk show, Mom Writer’s Talk Radio which launched November of 2005.

When she isn’t writing, editing, or taxiing her children to their sport events, she prefers to spend quality time in central Vermont with her husband and five children. To read more of her columns visit and for some much needed adult conversation email her at

WOW: Welcome to WOW! Paula, we’re thrilled you’ve decided to chat with us about Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine. Would you share with us how MWLM came to exist and, more importantly, how you kept up the momentum to reach the two-year milestone as well as move into the print realm?

Paula: Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine had been a dream of mine for years before it launched. I wanted to create a place where mom writers could go to submit their writing, get published and let their voices be heard. As a mother of five, I knew firsthand that there was something for every mother to say whether it was funny, complex, penetrating and raw, I knew motherhood was literary. So, June of 2005, MWLM was born as an online literary magazine for moms and the response over the past two years was overwhelming, in a good way! Many of our readers were asking how they could get a print subscription to the magazine and, well, it took off from there and here we are today.

WOW: You’re a living example that dreams do come true! And with this particular dream, you couldn’t have maintained it all alone. I’ve read all the bios for your staff members. Each mom represents a different city and region, literally. That’s great for a magazine’s voice! Plus, in your first print edition, Samantha Gianulis writes, “We want our magazine to speak in all voices, listen in all languages and write from one that unites us all.” This is a beautiful goal. I wonder, though, how do you keep track of so many staff writers and so many voices?

Paula: First of all I want to say that I am truly blessed to work with such a terrific and amazing staff. The mom writers who are a part of the MWLM team are just an awesome group of moms. And yes, we are literally spread out across the map! We are lucky that this has worked perfectly for us. We talk to each other just about every day which helps to keep us connected and organized and I must add that my Editor-in-Chief, Samantha Gianulis is my right hand angel :) And a wonderful friend.

WOW: If only all professional teams could have it so good, the working world would be a far less stressful place. Of course, moms know how to work well together through crazy times! Could you tell us about the Mom Writers Publishing Cooperative and how it empowers mom writers?

Paula: The Mom Writer’s Publishing Cooperative is a powerful group of 24 mom writers who give each other encouragement and support as writers. The founder, Nancy Cleary is super to work with and is warm and caring and has become a dear friend of mine. MWPC gives its members a community of peers in like situations where the writers can experiment with their ideas without any risk of rejection. I’m very happy to have found a publisher who was able to share my vision while providing her expertise through the publishing process.

WOW: The MWPC sounds extraordinarily supportive. Speaking of extraordinary, would you share an extraordinary memory of any article, interview, or any particular piece in your magazine that will forever stick in your mind or heart?

Paula: In our winter 2006 online issue we had the pleasure of interviewing best selling author Jodi Picoult. In part of Jodi’s interview our MWLM editor asked her about her new novel Nineteen Minutes and how she was affected by her research for this book which deals with a school shooting and its aftermath and how personal did this book become for her as the mother of three children. Jodi’s reply was that it was a very hard book to write as a mom. She knew, practically, that the next school shooter might be next door…or even in one’s own home. But that didn’t make it any easier to face the fact. Part of the research she did was with survivors of a school shooting in Minnesota. She said she was so shaken by some of their comments about their parents’ solicitousness after the shooting. Instead of falling into that sort of comfort, the kids were antagonistic. They wanted to know where their parents had been a month, a week, a day earlier – why they hadn’t been involved in their lives back then as well. This interview with Jodi will forever be in my heart. She is an incredibly talented writer with such a gift. I was lucky enough to meet Jodi Picoult this past spring at the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City. She is an extremely warm and friendly person and mom writer.

WOW: That whole experience would shake anyone. Thanks for sharing it with us. As we near the end of our time, is there anything you would like readers and freelancers to know about your site and print magazine that they might not already know?

Paula: Well I would like to mention to our readers and freelancers that we have added a visual art section in our Writer’s Guidelines. We are looking for artwork in the form of photographs, sketches and graphic art to feature within our pages. We are interested in artwork which conveys a unique perspective on motherhood so please send in your visual art and we will respond to you within a few days.

Paula, thank you so for taking the time to answer our curious questions. We look forward to seeing what you have in store for us in your third year. We'll be sure to check back with you to see where you’re going.

We send a toast, a cheer, and a "Happy Two-Year Anniversary" to Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine! Kudos to you, your staff, and your fans for keeping such a fine publication alive and thriving!

Sue & Team WOW!
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Writing and the Purple Cow

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What is a purple cow and how do we find one?

Seth Godin writes:

When my family and I were driving through France a few years ago, we were enchanted by the hundreds of storybook cows grazing on picturesque pastures right next to the highway. For dozens of kilometers, we all gazed out the window, marveling about how beautiful everything was.

Then, within twenty minutes, we started ignoring the cows. The new cows were just like the old cows, and what once was amazing was now common. Worse than common. It was boring.

Cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring. They may be perfect cows, attractive cows, cows with great personalities, cows lit by beautiful light, but they’re still boring.

A Purple Cow, though. Now that would be interesting.
(For a while.)

-- excerpt from Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

Seth was talking about marketing your business or product, but I found his words incredibly wise, or “sage” (as Sue likes to say, ;-) ). If you see something too often, it’s not going to appeal to you. Your eyes will glaze over and you’re on to the next thing. This is particularly true in this day and age. But it wasn’t before.

Think of writing, and what we all call “the classics”. Those were amazing pieces weren’t they? Perhaps. But why? Maybe because they were the first ones to unleash those concepts or ideas on the world. The same thing can be said with art. Every artist has heard the saying, “It’s all been done.”

As time goes by and we advance in technology, a scary thought is that someday everything will be done. What would happen then? A hive-like mentality? All for the greater good? No means of expression? I shudder to think about that future.

Seth was talking about how the old advertising standards simply don’t apply anymore, but the quest for the purple cow can be anything. It can even apply to your blog or your writing.

As I let this concept sink in, I thought about our quarterly flash fiction contests. If you’ve never been on the opposite end of a prompt-based contest (most people haven’t—even editors in the industry for years!) then you’d find out something extremely curious: people write about the same things.

I would say that our prompts are fairly loose, and give room for interpretation, but you’d be surprised at the outcome. Writers choose the same plot twists, the same surprise guest, and even the same characters!

For instance, take our Fall, Winter, and Spring contests—the ones where I was actively judging—did you know that in those contests George Clooney was a bigamist? It’s the weirdest thing, but that quote came from one of our guest judges, who blindly judged entries. I laughed when she wrote that to me in an email, but the thought had already occurred to me. Believe me, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that at all, I just think it's strange how many wrote about the same celebrity!

Each contest we’d have more than five women feature George Clooney in their story. He’s a hunk for sure, but oddly enough, there were no other mentions of celebrities, except for maybe one Brad Pitt reference, but no main characters of other celebrities were incorporated. Now, I haven’t a clue what this means, and the stories were completely different... but it still seems odd!

Are we all interconnected in some way? Like when you think of a friend and then later on that day the phone rings? Or is it much greater? Are we moving closer to that ‘hive-like mentality’ that completely petrifies the artist in me?

Besides simply mentioning Mr. Clooney (just an odd coincidence), there were many other similarities in story: same structure, same ailments, similar dialogue, beginnings, endings. Of course, our guest judges did a fabulous job of picking the winners, and the variety of stories were great, but did those elements play a hand in their decision? I honestly don't know.

Perhaps on a more universal level, we’re getting to the point where everything in fiction has been done before. Where story arcs have come down to a few set methods and we have to choose one of those if we want to sell a book.

Whatever it is, let’s make a pact to keep striving for that purple cow.

But how do we do that?

This is what I truly believe:

  • We are all like snowflakes, each one of us is unique.
  • There is no single person out there on the planet that can tell your story the way you can.
  • No one else has experienced your true-life stories.
  • You have something special to tell the world.
  • You have your perspective.
  • Your personal story is, in essence, your purple cow.

Now, I want to know:

-- Do you think there are only a few set story arcs to fiction? And does this bother you?

-- How do you feel about sharing your true-life experiences? What are your reservations?

-- Have you ever found your purple cow?
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Associated Content: A Great Place To Start!

Saturday, September 15, 2007
Happy Saturday fellow Bloggers and Bloggesses!

I just put my latest article up on Associated Content (AC) when it hit me: I should really share the AC experience with our WOW Blog readers (if you're interested ;o) ).

Some of you may have read the tips I offered on how to start up your own at-home freelance business in my Start Me Up article in WOW’s current issue (at least I hope so!). Another great idea to get some practice writing articles—and build up that clip portfolio—is to sign up for an online publishing company, like AC.

I had never heard of AC until a writer friend of mine offered to help me set up my own account. The idea of AC is to write short, informative pieces people will find when using online search engines. But it’s also a great way to put your fiction, nonfiction, poetry or novel excerpts out there for the world (and editors) to see.

There are a few things to keep in mind before you set up your account:First, AC pays is a small upfront payment for each submission (except in the Prose section). Then, based on the amount of hits your article accumulates, you also receive a “Performance Bonus.” This can really add up if you have several articles up. Unfortunately, they can’t pay writers living outside the United States for their content. For me, it’s no sweat because I use my AC site to post things I either don’t post on my personal website (eg: if the piece doesn't fit in with my theme) or for work I want faster exposure for (until my site gains the hits my AC account does, I work between the two).

Next, writers can be rather competitive on AC because all articles/stories are rated (people can rate your work on a scale of one to five). If your article scores a high rating, there’s a chance you’ll be on AC’s front page! There are, however, a few writers who are so competitive, they’ll “vote down” other writers’ work so their own will gain more exposure. I take it all with a grain of salt. My concern is providing excellent quality work, the ratings aren’t as important to me. Heck, I have a short story up on there people have emailed me about and it isn’t rated high so…it’s all in how you look at it and what you put more importance on. =o)

Finally, if you qualify for payment you have to make sure your articles are highly “hitable.” After all, you won’t make much cash if your article isn’t read. This, as my writer friend told me, means paying close attention to your article’s title and abstract (that’s the description box you fill in for each article). Basically you have to think of someone searching in Google or some other search engine and imagine what they’d type in to have your article pop up. It’s similar to the search labels we have at the bottom of each of our blog entries. Here’s an example.

I wrote an article about how to prepare your child for Preschool. I gave it the title: “10 Ways To Ease Your Child Into Preschool.” In my abstract, I described it as, “…tips to help prepare your child for their first day of school ever.” When someone types "tips for preschool preparation," or something similar, my hope is my article will pop up as one of the options. I’m still practicing this skill but it’s getting easier.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a great way to gain exposure on all your writing skills. OH! And did I mention it counts as a publishing nod? ;o)

Below is some basic information about Associated Content. Why not check them out today?

Happy writing, everyone.

Associated Content invites everyone to contribute original video, text, audio and images on any topic to gain exposure and earn cash.

  • What type of content should you submit? Submit your unique and compelling video, text, audio and images on the topics of your choice.
  • Where is it published? Your content is included in the AC library, displayed on your profile page, and may even be distributed to partner sites.
  • How do you gain exposure? AC attracts millions of information seekers each month, and now they can discover your content, too!
  • And what's this about earning cash? AC offers upfront payments for some content submissions as well as a monthly performance payment for all of your original content.
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Friday, September 14, 2007

From our friends at Zoe:



THE JUDGE: Joyce Carol Oates, the National Book Award-winner and Zoetrope contributor, will award the top prizes.

PRIZES: The first-place prize is $1,000, second-place prize is $500, and third-place prize is $250.

LITERARY AGENCIES: The winner and seven finalists will be considered for representation by the William Morris Agency, ICM, Regal Literary, the Elaine Markson Literary Agency, Inkwell Management, Sterling Lord Literistic, and the Georges Borchardt Literary Agency.

THE DEADLINE: All entries must be postmarked by October 1, 2007. The winners and finalists will be announced at the website December 1, 2007, and in the Spring 2008 issue of Zoetrope: All-Story.

LAST YEAR’S WINNER: William Preston’s “A Crisis for Mr. Lion” was published as a special online supplement to the Spring 2007 issue.


We accept all genres of literary fiction. Entries must be: unpublished; 5,000 words or less; postmarked by October 1, 2007; clearly marked "Short Fiction Contest" on both the story and the outside of the envelope; accompanied by a $15 entry fee per story (make checks payable to AZX Publications). Please include name and address on first page or cover letter only.

We welcome multiple entries ($15/story) and entries from outside the U.S.; please send entry fee in U.S. currency or money order. While we cannot return manuscripts, we will forward a list of the winning stories to all entrants who include an SASE. Entrants retain all rights to their stories. We do not require specific formatting, provided the story is legible.

Zoetrope: All-Story
Attn: Short Fiction Contest
916 Kearny Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
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Online Book Publicity Workshop

Hey all,

Just had to share this with you. Sounds like a wonderful workshop. Now, if I only had a book ready:--)

Online Book Publicity Workshop by Sandra Beckwith

Got a book coming out you want to hype? Has your publisher’s publicist moved on to other projects? Do you have a book in stores that you know deserves more media attention than it’s getting? Are you working on a proposal that would benefit from a better understanding of what you can do to promote your book? You need “Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz,” or “Book Publicity 101 for Self-Published Authors: How to Build Book Buzz,” dynamic online courses taught by a veteran publicist and author.

Both classes are offered October 1-26, 2007, and taught in a forum format, with lessons and homework assignments posted online in a private, password-protected forum. The highly-interactive courses cover:
· How to create a book publicity blueprint you’ll be excited about
· The single secret most authors don’t know about generating ongoing media exposure
· The most effective and cost-efficient publicity tactics
· How to generate buzz online using virtual book tours and other
· techniques
· Radio and TV producer hot buttons
· How to bring an energizing new level of creativity to your publicity efforts

The course for self-published authors also shows how to announce your book to the press and other key audiences professionally and successfully.

Students receive instructional materials and resources and complete weekly assignments that help them discover how easy it is to create book buzz. Student interaction on the forum enhances the learning experience by offering fresh perspectives and new ideas for all participants while instructor guidance and input takes your work to the next level. A free-for-all Q&A corner lets students get answers to questions not covered in the course materials, making this a highly-personalized learning experience for nonfiction and fiction authors.

The class is taught by Sandra Beckwith, a recovering award-winning publicist; publisher of the free e-newsletter Build Book Buzz (subscribe at; and the author of three books, including two on publicity topics. She has publicized many books.

Registration is $149 and is limited to 20 students; deadline for registration is September 28, 2007.

To register for the original course, go to

To register for the course tailored to the needs of self-published authors, go to

Please send course inquiries to Beckwith at
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Who's your favorite...

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Today during my normal chat time at Long Ridge we were discussing writers and our favorite authors. Discussing the writers was easy. Deciding on a favorite was much harder though.

I know most writers, as they learn their craft become more selective with what they read. I'm the same way. Now, instead of settling into the story I tend to notice how the story was written and pick apart the author's choices. There is a good side and a bad side to this.

The good side is I've become much more aware of how words go together to make scenes and how good scenes can go bad. I notice dialogue that doesn't sound natural for the character along with paying attention to plot lines and the dramatic arc. After a memorable experience with an ending that made me swear to never buy another of the series, I'm much more aware of how story endings need to tie up the loose ends and satisfy the reader.

The down side is that it's been a long time since I last got so lost in a book I practically forgot to breathe. It's been ages since I took a book to the kitchen, continuing to read as I stirred dinner and it's been ages since I took a book to the bathroom with me. I tend to not give a book very long to get me involved. I'm more demanding now.

What about you, has becoming a writer changed you as a reader? How?

What does it take for a book to hook you?

And what have you read and enjoyed lately?


Oh...I want to encourage you all to stop by the Long Ridge Chat Room. It's a nice place to take a break and get to know other writers. And nope, you don't have to be a Long Ridge student to join us. We love to chat with everyone. Just be prepared...writing isn't the only thing we discuss. Food is often a major topic along with kids and pets. If you are stuck with your idea, we'll gladly help brainstorm with you:-)

We are always there at noon central during the week and on Sunday evenings at 7 central. Stop by, say hi and make yourself at home.
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Interview with Carol D. O'Dell, author of Mothering Mother

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Carol D. O’Dell’s latest memoir, Mothering Mother, deals with a timely topic that we as women and mothers have to consider.

** How do age-related changes affect our parents?

** What should we do if a parent goes through Alzheimer
’s? And how can we tell?

** What do we do if our parents can no longer take care of themselves?

** I know all of you have thought of this at one point or another, I know I have. But how do you handle it?

Carol’s book, Mothering Mother, shares her true-life experiences—funny, sad, hopeful—and how she made these decisions. She’s an amazing woman, an expert writer, and uncovers this heart-touching topic with grace.

WOW: Welcome to the WOW! Blog, Carol. We’re excited to be able to chat with you today! So tell us, how did you get started in writing?

Carol: How far back do you want me to go? I got the bug in elementary school. Remember the old spelling words? I used to take all twenty and weave them into a crazy story. The teacher would read them all, and everyone would laugh—and I was hooked.

WOW: Oh how funny! I just talked about that in an interview I did with Chynna Laird on AC... about elementary school and the big lines on paper. Well, we’ve both come a long way... especially you Carol!

Congratulations on your latest memoir, Mothering Mother. We’ve heard great things about it. In fact, one of our contributing editors had already purchased your book right when it came out. Please tell our readers a little bit about the book and why you decided to share your story.

Carol: I was a 39 year-old wife and mother. I had started and was directing a private school (and writing short stories, essays and articles on the side) when I realized my mother could no longer live alone. I made that big leap and brought my mother into our home. At that time, we all moved from Georgia to Florida and found a house we could build a mother-in-law suite onto our house. I put the ole’ novel I was working on in the back of the drawer and dove head first into caregiving.

But I didn’t want to give up writing.

My soul ached for something beyond the typical medical based literature I was finding. I yearned for something for my soul, intellect and creativity. Most days, I felt as if I were the 89 year-old. I wanted something that addressed our relationship—as mother and daughter—and my relationship with my daughters and my husband—and how caregiving was impacting not only my life, but my perceptions.

I couldn’t find anything that encompassed these deeper, more intimate issues. So, I began to write—every day. I wrote my fantasies, fears, and frustrations. I wrote about the terrible things you think you can’t say out loud. I wrote how scared and isolated I felt—so that hopefully, no one else would have to feel that alone.

WOW: Carol, you definitely accomplished that with Mothering Mother, and helped readers relate. And for family members who’ve experienced a loved one going through Alzheimer’s, it causes so much agony. Do you remember the first signs or symptoms in your mother’s life?

Carol: Looking back, I see a lot of signs I either missed or ignored. We all know that as we age, a certain amount of forgetting, senility is normal. But when is it no longer normal?

I also realized as time went on, that my mother was making excuses, fibbing, if you will—covering things up. Alzheimer’s had been creeping up on us for years. I can look back and see the series of fender benders were probably related—when she let it slip out that she was at an intersection near her house and couldn’t remember how to get home.

I now see that paranoia was an early sign. Mother always thought someone was breaking in, that people were stealing from her—all those little idiosyncrasies probably had something to do with Alzheimer’s. But I was busy. I wanted to believe my mother was all right. I wanted her to be independent—for me—and for her. I didn’t want to face what Alzheimer’s would do to all of our lives.

"I was there when everyone else went home.
That’s the day you grow up.

WOW: I can totally understand that, and it’s hard to actually know when the transition occurs. There’s no exact science to the subject, it all comes down to feelings and decisions... And one decision you had to make is whether or not to give your mother a feeding tube. That must’ve been extremely tough.

Carol: My mother did sign a living will, and because she had experienced some of the more “unpleasant” decisions when my father passed away, she was able to decide a few things about her own life. She hated seeing my dad on a ventilator. She saw him struggle with it, fight against it, and in her own way, she thought of all tubes as being like that one—intrusive.

I also knew that at the age of 92, with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and a heart condition that my mother could not come back to any real quality of life. Alzheimer’s is irreversible. Mother had declined to the point of not knowing me—or anyone else. She had forgotten how to swallow or chew food. It was time to let go.

It was harder to live out the decision to not use a feeding tube. I had Hospice there, and they assured me it was not cruel, that it was natural. I could tell that my mother was not in pain.

I was there every day—every minute, and even in the middle of the night. I made sure she was serene and comfortable. Those last few weeks were rough. I had made a decision and I had to live by it. I was responsible. I was there when everyone else went home. That’s the day you grow up.

WOW: Carol, I admire you so much. What heavy decisions to have to make... and I know you did the best thing. Considering your mother’s battle with Parkinson’s disease—do you have strong views on stem-cell research?

Carol: I do, but I also know that my mother had perhaps different views than I had. Stem cell research is inevitable, and we’re finding more options, more alternatives than before. We’re going to have to learn how to use it ethically and responsibly.

I believe we need to talk, and argue, and grapple, and work through these issues. I understand and respect the moral implications that add to the complexity of this issue, and I think it’s important that we do speak to one another with kindness and respect for differing viewpoints, but in the end, I see stem cell research and applications as being “here to stay.”

There’s so much good to be gained, and I do believe that scientists can find many solutions, alternatives and possibilities regarding stem cell research.

WOW: Oh, I fully agree! I know that there are moral issues, but in my humble opinion, the benefits are great. Another tough decision you had to face was choosing in-home care. But how do you feel about care centers for the elderly? Not everyone can afford in-home care, as you know.

Carol: I am honored to speak to many people across the country online and in seminars and support groups who are grappling with elder care needs. There is no one perfect solution and caregivers need to realize they will most likely be a caregiver more than once in their lifetime—and that their needs (as a family and the care receiver) change over time.

For example, your loved one wants to live independently, and they do—for a time. Then you hire live-in help, and that works for a while, and then something happens. Do you bring them into your home? Can you afford to be there a good part of the time, or do you need to work? Is adult day-care available in your community? Things change again, your loved one may have been hospitalized, or their medical condition may have worsened.

Again, you have to make yet another decision. Is assisted living right? Does your loved one need skilled nursing care of a memory care unit?

Things keep changing. You think you have it all figured out. You work months to come up with a good living arrangement, and BAM. Back to square one. I tell you this not to discourage you, but to help you plan and prepare. Know your options now. Look into all the alternatives now. Start by looking close to home—yours or theirs. Find out what your own community has to offer. Your loved one needs to be nearby. They need an advocate, a family member who can look out for them. No matter how much they fight you, someone needs to be nearby.

"Memoir writing is not an autobiography.
A memoir means literally, a memory."

WOW: That’s excellent advice, and something we’ll all have to think about sooner or later. You must have grown a lot spiritually by writing this book. Has your experience with your own mother affected or changed your views for your future?

Carol: Yes. Caregiving transforms you, and I believe it makes you a better person. You can’t “stare death in the eye” and not come out a changed person.

My views for the future…living this experience with my mother has taught me a few things:

  • Forgive. Forgive now and let go. If not, it festers, and it’s really ugly.
  • Examine and then let go of every fear you can possibly get rid of.
  • Be flexible. Don’t demand things of others. Invest in those you love—invest your time, your money, your encouragement, your commitment to their lives, and do so willingly with no strings attached.
  • Trust—trust that you’ll be loved and cared for. Have a good attitude no matter where you end up. Choose to be happy.
  • Be easy to love. Relax.
  • Be grateful. Every day, for little things. Today, I was grateful for my cup of coffee (I’m always grateful for that), for the sand between my toes, for my beach walk and prayers, for my puppy dogs, and that first kiss from my husband when he returned from work. Gratitude works.

"Art is more about what you choose to leave out
than what you include."

WOW: I totally hear you, sister. That’s great advice! And that’s what I love about writing... it helps us gain perspective. So how did writing a memoir compare to the other styles of writing you’ve done?

Carol: Memoir writing is not an autobiography. A memoir means literally, a memory. An easy way to think of it is that you take a memory—a thought—an idea, and you put it in a bubble in the center of your page. Then, you begin to look at your life and only write in that bubble memories, thoughts, events, reflections that have to do with that “topic” you placed in the center.

For example, my book was about becoming my mother’s mother. So, each vignette is how that decision to be responsible, to allow caregiving to impact my life and those around me, how I perceived myself, my faith, my actions as it pertained to my mother and me—and our changing roles. If it doesn’t connect in some real way to that thought in the bubble, it doesn’t go—in the memoir you’re working on. Art is more about what you choose to leave out than what you include.

WOW: I love what you just said, and am writing that down... what a great quote! You have a great deal of wisdom on writing, and we have readers who are currently trying to get their memoirs published. What advice do you have for them in terms of how to seek out an agent/publisher?

Carol: First, tell your truths. Dare to be real on the page. Not vulgar. Not shocking, but real. Your story has to have an idea or concept that others can relate to. The personal is universal. You don’t have to be a celebrity or cut off your own hand to write a memoir, but it has to be real, and it has to be something others can relate to.

My advice is to build your literary ladder as I call it when I speak to writer’s groups. Write articles, essays, contribute to anthologies, write for your town newspaper. Build your publishing credits. You have to have some sort of a track record. Write, blog, submit, submit, submit. Get used to rejections, and keep submitting. This could take years by the way, so keep your day job—for now.

WOW: Speaking of taking years, oftentimes a memoir can be a hard sale; do you have any ‘insider tips’ on how to pitch a memoir?

Carol: Sell excerpts to magazines. You prove it’s sellable. An agent gave me that advice, and I think it helped. I had sold six excerpts before the book came out.

WOW: You seem to be very hands-on in terms of promotion and marketing. From your experience, what is the best way for authors to get their books into as many hands as possible?

Carol: The Internet plays a big part now, so blog, join forums, submit e-zine articles. Write for free, (in the beginning) but keep a list of your publishing credits. Networking is vital to a writer.

I do a lot of caregiving/Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Baby Boomer talks. I still believe you sell one book at a time. I like to and need to meet my readers. Go where they are. Don’t expect them to come to a bookstore. Whatever your subject is, there’s probably a hobby or organization for it—join in, get to know people, and let them know about you.

WOW: Excellent. So, any future writing ventures in the works?

Carol: The prequel to Mothering Mother is under consideration at my publisher’s now. It’s working title is Said Child, and it’s about being adopted at age four—and eventually finding my birth family—and loving and accepting both.

WOW: Carol, you have a lot of story in you. I anxiously await your next book! Do you have any closing tips for our eager authors-in-waiting?

Carol: Persistence, I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s true. So many people never turn a dream into a goal. You have to put legs on your dreams. Writing and publishing aren’t quick ventures. Relax, and enjoy the journey—and never give up.

WOW: Thank you Carol for a wonderful and enlightening interview! You have a great spirit and vision, and are a remarkable woman. Thank you for chatting with us today—I’ve learned a lot!

Mothering Mother is published by Kunati and available on Amazon and in most bookstores. Check out Carol's website at to view her touring schedule, Virtual Book Tour, contest, and radio and television appearances.

Carol D. O'Dell is available for conferences, seminars, and interviews. Her topics include inspiration, spirituality, medical based talks, caregiving, and women’s issues. Her brochure is also available on her site.

You heard it ladies! This is a must read and an opportunity of a lifetime!

Carol has a wonderful contest on her site featuring all kinds of goodies. And when you think about gifts this holiday season, remember Mothering Mother for the perfect gift, and a caring gift... the gift of words, kindness, and love for your mom, and an enriching gift for your family.
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We have heard from so many of you just how much you love WOW! and appreciate all the great information in each issue.

Now, we ask that you help us spread the word to the whole world... at least to the folks over at Writer's Digest anyway.

Please nominate WOW! for the Writer's Digest 101 Best Writer's Sites. It's simple, painless and won't take long.

Just send an email with your nomination to with "101 Websites" as the subject.”

Be sure to tell them just why you think WOW! deserves to be on the 101 Best List.

Thanks so much. And when we find ourselves on that list, we'll be sure to throw a cyber-party for all of our loyal readers, who really are more than just readers, you're our friends.
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WOW! Women On Writing Sponsors Award for Best Book in Women's Literature

Annual Literary Awards 2007

The annual literary awards were established to honor writers who self-published or had their books published by a small press, university press, or independent book publisher geared for the North American reading audience. POD books are accepted.


Reader Views Literary Awards are open to all authors regardless of residency, however, the books must be published in the English language and targeted for the North American market. Work published by major book publishers, their subsidiaries, or their imprints are not eligible. Books must have 2007 copyright date. Submission for more than one category or more than one title is acceptable. Books that have racist themes will be not be accepted.

Regional or Global entries may refer to the book's topic or the author's residency. For example, an author living in Alberta writing about a plot in Alabama may enter Canada-West as a regional author and/or the South-East as a regional book. Or, an author living in the UK writing about a plot in Texas may enter Global EU as well as Regional S.


All initial judging will be done by reviewers from Reader Views. They are experts in their fields as well as avid readers. Consider them your reading audience. Criteria for judging is content/originality, presentation/design, innovation, social relevance, and production quality. Five semi-finalists in each category will be determined by a point system. Final judging will be determined by a jury of judges.

If the reviewers/judges feel the book is worthwhile of readership they will supply reviews which will be forwarded to you. The reviews will also be posted on Reader Views or Reader Views Kids as well as our weblog and We cannot guarantee the timing when you will get the reviews, however, we will attempt the best we can to review/judge your book as soon as it is submitted. Each book, whether it gets a review or not, will be issued a critique. You will receive the critque for your own information. A critque will not be posted. Keep in mind, the sooner you submit your book, the sooner you will get a review and critique. The review will be in a form of tear sheet and you may use it for your marketing purposes. Please do not wait until deadline date to submit your book if your book is now in print. It is only fair to other authors, who publish late in the fall, to use this deadline date.

General Awards

Five semi-finalists will be chosen in each category. First and second place winners will be awarded in each category. Third place will receive an honorable mention.

Each will receive a certificate and the remaining semi-finalists will receive a certificate of placement. All certificates will be dated for year 2008.

Semi-finalists will be announced in our weekly e-mail newsletter on March 3, 2008 and the finalists on March 31, 2008, or earlier. The sooner we get the books in to judge, the sooner we can announce the awards.

WOW! Women on Writing Award for the Best Book in Women's Literature

Award: $100 cash prize. Sponsored by Wow! Women On Writing

Criteria: May be either fiction or nonfiction. Book must express all the conflicts and struggles influencing women as well as growth and transformation. Qualifying female writers must write with this commonality and keep feminine awareness in mind.

Find out more:

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Calling all YA writers...

Monday, September 10, 2007
Hey all...

I discovered this really great deal in my email not long ago and just had to share it with everyone.

Nephele Tempest at the Knight Agency has decided to take queries for completed YA manuscripts through her LiveJournal. She says this will continue until at least the 14th of this month so here's your chance to get your idea before an agent without going through the whole submission process. She says she's looking especially for some great urban fantasy. Here's the link.

Good luck!

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Find Your Striker

I’m one soccer mom among many. I’ve been cheering kids on for eight years this season. But I’m proud to say I’m a civilized one. I don’t yell at kids when they err or shout critiques across the field. I do know a few “back-seat blabbermouths” though. I’d like to muzzle them.

Being well-mannered is easy; we just focus on the positives: the good efforts, the tricky foot maneuvers, head shots, dribbles, saves, and dashes down the field to shoot a goal (whether successful or not). The plays we’re not expected to focus on are those weaker ones that make us cringe and stifle comments--the half-Charlie-Browns where the cleat completely misses the ball, the oooh-that-player’s-leg-deflected-the-ball-into-her-own-goal mishap, the keeper’s foibles when the ball gets by and rolls slowly into the goal, or any general human error. Everyone makes them, and kids on the field feel far more dreadful than the highly-paid Beckhams when they mess up.

Being a soccer parent is a lot like being an editor. In the same way that we might cheer kids forward on the field to shoot for the right goal, editors want to cheer writers forward in their work, whether they’re submitting queries, contest entries, or full submissions. We never want to discourage anyone from joining a team or playing through the toughest times. When we ask for submissions here at WOW!, we ask that prospective freelancers study the ezine to gather a sense of our voice, our focus, and our monthly themes. I think that’s the universal request in other markets. No one would ever say, “okay, take that manuscript and just shoot for all the markets, simultaneously. Eventually, one will end up on the right desk”; of course not!

All writers have days where submissions and queries “make goals”; but we also miss the target markets at times. It matters little whether a writer has many years under her pen or keyboard. What matters most is that writers never give up, never stop moving toward their personal, professional, and other goals. Sometimes, though, we need to step off the field for a water break, a walk, a day off, or a full fingertip-and-muse recharge. At some point, chocolate just isn’t enough.

Scrimmaging with kids is a lot like sending our work out. Each one of us looks down the field (researches market guides), figures out the best path to take (locates the name of a specific editor to whom we might address a cover letter or query), and passes the ball (written work) straight toward the correct striker (editor) who will then take a written work and shoot it straight for the goal (target market). Sounds simple, here, right?

It’s sometimes easy to overlook all the possible markets. It also takes time to research the markets. Every writer needs to check out submission guidelines and pay attention to any tips provided by editors, no matter where we’re at in our careers. I sent my last piece out in a huge rush, so it came back fairly quickly. If only I’d taken the time to research a better goal, I wouldn’t have ended up reading a rejection notice with a hand-written note, “Please continue to keep us in mind!” Well, I can’t be mad at any other players. I can only cringe at my poor aim. Is there such a thing as a “writer’s cheer” or a poem?

Would any of you like try to write one? I’m not a poet. But I enjoy reading them from time to time.

Cheers to each of you for taking the time to shoot for the right goal!

Sue ;-P
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Ants in my Kitchen, Traffic to Your Blog

Sunday, September 09, 2007
For over a week now a relentless colony of ants have been invading my kitchen. I’ve always been the type who doesn’t like to kill anything. I see a spider and I scream, but will still ask my hubby to take it outside. So this has been particularly annoying! My theory is that if I find the source and get rid of it, the ants will pack up their bags and move elsewhere.

I quickly discovered they were going for the trash, so I made sure not to throw any food in there, instead faithfully taking it outside to the dumpster in back of my loft. Even on nights where my hubby brought home takeout and I was too tired to go outside, I’d put the subway wrappers or whatever in a plastic bag and stick it in the fridge. And sure enough, pretty soon the ants got the hint and left.

Then a couple days later I saw that the same troop of ants had changed their game plan and were now going for my cat’s food. How did I know it was the same troop? They were coming from the same area—and this is the weirdest thing—from fifteen feet up the wall and from behind an enormous oil-painting I have of Alice in Wonderland, from my rave (underground) days. There must be a hole or something behind that painting... but I haven’t gotten out the ladder to look.

So I moved my kitty’s dish to a different part of the loft, and so far so good! But who knows how long that will last.

Like the traffic of ants I had in my kitchen, the traffic to your blog will continue if you keep posting something tasty. (You knew I was getting to something right?) So here are a few tips to keep the steady flow of traffic coming before they move on to the next best thing:

Start with a tasty story!

As writers, we know everyone loves a story. An anecdote about ants in your kitchen may not be the most fascinating story out there, but whatever it is, make sure it relates to your blog post.

Keep it short and sweet

A couple paragraphs will do. Think of it as you would flash fiction, and listen to your inner-editor.

Pose a question

You don’t want to start off by asking a question every time, but readers like to become involved, so keep the dialogue in mind. Many of our blog posts end with a question—that’s because we really do want your opinions voiced. We love feedback!

Say something controversial

It could be an idea that you’ve been mulling over, something in the news, or something that relates to your personal life. I don’t think you should straight-out try and shock readers just to create a stir, but don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Edit before you post

Being yourself doesn’t mean that you should write like you would in an email to a friend. Remember you’re still writing for the public, so be sure to rewrite and check for grammar, and other things you may not want getting out there. One thing I noticed is even if you delete a post, it’s still live on the wires somewhere. And if you have full syndication, readers can still read that post in its entirety on some blog reader websites like bloglines or technorati.

Do what you do best—write that hook!

I don’t have to tell you what to’re fabulous women writers and you already know! For instance, look at Jean’s previous post, Dare I say it? Time to Exercise!!, or that Angela person who decided to tell her story of how Owen Wilson inspired her post How Media Inspires Our Stories or Sue’s post Self-Sabotage Countdown (what a great title! It had me hooked from the start!), or Chynna's very funny post on a Not to Do List.

Now I want to know:

What hooks have inspired the most comments on your blog posts?

Or, what awesome hook in your writing have you recently used?
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