Using Facebook to Network and Market Your Work

Saturday, February 28, 2009

In keeping with the spirit of the posts by Angela and Marcia the last couple days, I decided to write about one of my favorite things--kind of like Oprah's favorite things (I wish!)--to use as a marketing tool. Drumroll please. . . Facebook!

Okay, I don't only use Facebook as a marketing tool. I love catching up with old friends, looking at photographs, reading funny status updates, and playing Word Challenge. But I actually do use it as a marketing tool, and I see other book authors and freelance writers doing the same thing. So, here are a few ways that you can feel justified in all the time you spend on Facebook. :)

  • Search for writers you know. Search for writing groups full of writers that you would like to know. Contact these writers and tell them that you want to be their friend. You could be looking for a support network of other children's writers, romance writers, mystery writers, or whatever type of writer you are. I have actually done this! And it works. I have several children's writers on my friends' list whom I have never met in person, but who help me answer questions, refer me to other writers, and provide me with marketing ideas.

  • Use your status updates to market yourself. Are you having a book signing in a certain area where you have a lot of Facebook friends? Tell people about it in your status, such as "Margo is going to be at Borders on Lindbergh in St. Louis at 4:00 today." You can also use your status updates to encourage friends to visit your blog or make a comment on an eHow article or sign up for a free book giveaway on your website. Once you are on Facebook and connected with other writers, you will get a lot of new ideas on how to use your status to market yourself. Of course, you have to have fun status updates sometimes, such as mine last night: "Margo is eating graham crackers and Jello cheesecake at 3:30 a.m."

  • Start a group. It is super easy to start a Facebook group. Go to your "Groups" page and get started. There is an icon on your home page in the Applications box that looks like two silhouettes--that's the Group icon. Click on it and get started. Groups exist for just about anything you can think of on Facebook, so why not start one about your book or your writing group or your magazine? Then invite people to join your group. Ask your friends to invite their friends to join your group. You can send messages to the whole group when you want to update the members about any exciting news you have or events you have planned. If you need quotes for an article or ideas for a blog, you can ask members of your group to help you. If you have an "open" group, then anyone on Facebook can join who does a search for your topic.

  • Post an event. The Eventmaster on Facebook is a great tool. Again, on your home page, in your Applications box, there is an icon of a small calendar that says "Events" next to it. Click on the icon, and follow the prompts to invite people to an event. This is where having more Facebook friends comes in handy. If you are having a book signing, create an event on Facebook. Invitations will be delivered right to the your friends' inboxes. You can also create events for book launch parties, magazine issues, conferences, workshops, and speaking opportunities.

How do you use Facebook to help your writing career? Be creative and use Facebook to help launch and maintain your career while you're also laughing over your old prom photos and your friends' "25 Things" notes.

Happy Facebooking!

Margo Dill

Read These Books and Use Them

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Using Google Alerts

Friday, February 27, 2009
Want an easy way to keep tabs on your published articles? Would you like to receive the latest information on a topic or person that you're writing about, delivered right to your e-mail inbox? Just create some Google Alerts—a service offered to people who have Google accounts. (To get a Google account, go to their home page and sign up.).

You choose the search terms for your alerts, then you receive automatic e-mails when there are new Google results. The different types of alerts include news (the latest news articles about your topic), web (the latest web pages that contain your search terms), blogs (posts that contain your search terms), comprehensive (the latest results from multiple sources), video (the latest videos with your search terms), and groups (posts from your Google groups). It's up to you whether you'd like daily, weekly, or "as it happens" alerts.

I've been experimenting with the program, just to see how it works. I set up a weekly alert using my city's name, to get local news and find out about blog discussions. I also set up a daily alert for my name, as well as the titles of several articles I've written that appear online. From this test, I've learned that it's a good idea to put full names and titles (any search with multiple key words) in quotes, to get the most accurate results.

Though I haven't tried it yet, there's also an advanced search function, which can help narrow your results even further. For example, you can include information to find web pages that have "all these words" or "this exact wording or phrase" or "one or more of these words"...but don't show pages that have "any of these unwanted words." You can also set up a search within a certain site or domain.

Have you been using Google alerts? Feel free to chime in!

--Marcia Peterson
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Freewriting: What Happened To My Passion?

Thursday, February 26, 2009
Have you ever felt the need to listen to a particular song and find yourself scouring You locate the video and remember exactly what it meant to you--where you were, what you were doing, and why it's still important, or should be--and afterward, you notice those little links that pop up recommending you to view other related videos. Sometimes they're by the same artist, sometimes they're merely similar, but before you realize it, you're following a trail of breadcrumbs and looking up old favorites from decades ago.

That just happened to me.

I started looking up Kate Bush songs, then progressed to Peter Gabriel, and that led to the 1986 Amnesty International Concert, "Conspiracy of Hope." I worked for Amnesty at that concert as a volunteer and passed out flyers. I was fourteen-years-old. After my duties were finished, my friends and I crept up to the fourth row and enjoyed face-time with the performances of Peter Gabriel, U2, Sting/The Police, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Lou Reed, Miles Davis, Madonna, Sean Penn and Bob Geldof. Funny thing is, I'd almost completely forgotten about the concert until I saw the related link on YouTube. How could I forget something as important as that? After all, my friends and I started the Amnesty International club at our high school, and if I'm not mistaken, it still remains today.

When I was fourteen, the issues pertaining to human rights were extremely important to me. I wrote poems, stories, performed spoken word about Steven Biko for my speech class, and painted to serve the cause. After years of moving around, I've lost those paintings. But as I viewed the concert on YouTube, I remembered each one of them vividly. I painted abstract figures wrapped in barbwire, trees engulfing buildings, and black lines of imprisoned figures holding flowers between steel bars. Those paintings either went into a dumpster when my father's house sold, or are hanging on a free spirit's wall somewhere. The latter makes me smile.

The thing is, as I got older and "busier" I forgot about my passions as a teen. Is this something that happens to everyone? Do we simply evolve, or in my case, "devolve," and forget about the things that really stirred us in our youth?

I'm happy I checked my insecurities at the gate when I entered my thirties, but what about those things that instilled a sense of passion and place in my teens? What happened to the young activist? Did she meet an early demise by the hand of her family and daily duties? I sincerely hope not.

Yeah, we grow up and have different mindsets. It's for the better, I'm sure. But somehow, we seem to relinquish the fresh perspective that can be such a gripping tool to the writer. Lately, I've been looking back at my writing and wonder if I've de-gressed. I know what the cure is, and I've been ignoring it. It's simple. It's organic. It's non-edited, non-structured, and nonsensical. It's freewriting.

Freewriting allows us to let go.

If you haven't freewritten in a while because of obligations, responsibilities, or the need to make every word count because you're a freelancer, take a moment and rediscover the art of letting your words flow recklessly and carelessly onto paper. Embrace every thought.

This post is a freewrite. I had no idea where it would go. I started with one idea and hoped that I would find a resolve. I think I did, and maybe next time, I will find my passion.

Freewriting Exercise:

  • Start with a blank page and type one topic idea at the top.
  • Set a timer for ten minutes. You really don't want to do it for any longer than that because freewriting is a warm up for more focused writing.
  • Begin to type anything that comes into your head. Don't stop until the time is up.
  • When you are done, see what you've written and pull any ideas or phrases that you can use later.

Think about it: if you have ten minutes to spare, you may be able to get back your passion.
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Tools for Twitterers

How much time do you spend on Twitter?

You can find out by visiting Tweetwasters, a site that calculates how much time you're spending posting messages on Twitter. Tweetwasters guestimates that a user spends around 30 seconds on creating a Tweet of 140 characters. They multiply that by the number of messages you post and provide you with the approximate number of seconds, minutes, hours or days of your life spent writing on Twitter. That doesn't count reading, of course. So tack on a few for that too! Check it out at and see if you're in their hall of fame. ;)

Want to post more than 140 characters? And post photos and video to Twitter?

You can! If you're already a twitterer, then you can login with your twitter username and password to start using your twitblog right away. The site lets you post pictures, even video, along with your longer posts and automatically posts them into Twitter. It sounds like a great marketing tool for those that want to have the option to post images of their books, press releases, book trailers, etc. Try it out at and let me know!
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What does it take to enjoy ALL your writing?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009
For the past couple days, I haven't been enjoying my writing and I blame my lack of time for my creative work.

I seem to just churn out assignment after assignment while the querying machine is working overtime and I'm giving my Web site a badly needed overhaul. Meanwhile, my creative projects remain buried, my journal is gathering dust and I feel exhausted. But I convince myself it is okay, because I'm able to bill for my time. I'll catch up on these other projects later.

In this economy, it seems foolhardy not to keep up the marketing and the queries to stay in front of every editor possible. But during the time when I love being paid to write, I forget to spend time on the writing that gives me joy. I scurry about, working to prove that I should be hired and that I am worthy of the next assignment.

Just like making time to exercise or spend time with friends or family, creative projects (in my case creative writing) help to give me the fuel for other projects. Instead of excluding these projects as a waste of time because of the bottom line, they need to be embraced during the week and nurtured.

Obviously, we have responsibilities to handle throughout our week, but creativity and fueling our own passions will keep us healthier and happier in the long run.

Are there times when you aren't enjoying your writing? What is it that you blame? How do you get around it? What are some of the things that inspire you to write?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for CoastalCarolinaMoms. She is also a freelance writer, columnist and blogs for wilmaville. She will be writing in her journal later today. She promises. Really. At least after she finishes this one article....
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Interview with Madeline Mora-Summonte, Runner-Up

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Madeline Mora-Summonte’s work has appeared in over 20 publications, including Highlights for Children, Storyhouse, and Every Day Fiction. She’s written poetry, personal essays and book reviews, but her first love is fiction in all its forms, from flash to novels. Every week, she attends a writing workshop where the talent and the creativity of the group continues to amaze her. The workshop, led by mystery author Blaize Clement, is where the seeds of this story took root. For the fifth consecutive year, Madeline is participating in November’s National Novel Writing Month. A four time winner, her goal this year is an extremely rough draft of a YA horror novel.

She lives with her husband/best friend in beautiful Sarasota where they don’t spend nearly enough time walking on the beach and collecting seashells as they’d like.

You can visit her website at

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest! The last paragraph of your story gives me goosebumps! It’s great! Where’d you get your idea or inspiration for this story?

Madeline: Thank you so much! What a wonderful compliment! This story emerged - almost whole - from a writing exercise. I attend a weekly writing workshop, led by mystery author Blaize Clement, where the group does semi-timed writing based on a given word or phrase. The one that triggered this story was “a disguise.” Who knew, right? But that’s the magic of writing.

WOW: I guess I should never underestimate the power of a simple writing exercise! NaNoWriMo, on the other hand, is not a simple exercise. I saw on your website that you participated in and completed NaNoWriMo for the past five years. That’s quite a feat! Does it get any easier each year you complete it? Do you have ideas before you start, or do you just dive in head first on November 1st?

Madeline: Let me just say first off that I LOVE NaNoWriMo. I look forward to it like a kid looks forward to Christmas. I pull out my NaNo t-shirts, wipe out my NaNo mug, display my NaNo postcards and other goodies. Even my husband gets into it, presenting me with a “good luck” card at the start and a “congratulations” one at the end!

Every year is different. I think I winged it a couple of times, but I prefer some level of preparation so I usually approach it with a particular project in mind, notes and brief character sketches at the ready. I do play with different genres. This year I tried a YA horror/mystery type of thing, and it was a lot of fun.

WOW: Have you used, or do you plan to use, any of the material from NaNoWriMo for your short stories/flash fiction?

Madeline: I don’t think so. Somewhere in my mind I have a dividing line - novels over here, short stories/flash over there. I have noticed, though, that while the novel ideas tend to stay put, the flash ideas like to cross over and settle down.

WOW: Have you considered writing a novel for publication? If yes, are you working on one now? If no, why not?

Madeline: I am in the process of revising a novel. I love writing flash fiction, but my ultimate goal is to be a novelist. I’ve lost count of the number of manuscripts banished to my closet. Some of those never made it out for submission - I knew they just weren’t good enough. Others came close to securing an agent - requests for partials and fulls kept coming. One ms (a NaNo novel!) actually managed to snag an agent - she wasn’t able to sell it, though, and after our contract was up, we amicably parted ways.

But I have learned something from every single one of those manuscripts and experiences, and I am a better writer for it today. It’s a process, and one I hope I don’t ever stop learning from and growing with.

WOW: Also on your website, I read how you started creating stories by dictating them to your mother. I got started as a writer by dictating stories to my parents, too. At the time, did writing down the stories make your nightmares more controllable? Do you find that writing now helps you organize and control your thoughts, too?

Madeline: If I remember correctly, it helped at the time. Now, though, some of the scariest things I come across are from stories and books!

I sometimes use my journal to unclutter my mind, but I don’t use fiction writing to organize my thoughts. If anything, that’s where I let it all out - the craziest, the scariest, the dumbest ideas -plop out on the paper.

WOW: It’s always a great feeling to let it all out! What do you hope to accomplish next in your writing career?

Madeline: You know that feeling you get when you read a great story or a wonderful book? How you can’t wait to tell people about it, how you can’t wait for someone you know to read it so you can discuss it? I’ve had that experience many times and, for a reader, there’s nothing like it. That’s what I want to do. I want to give that feeling to other readers, just like it was, and still is, given to me, by so many great writers.

Click this link to read Madeline’s award winning entry. For more information on Madeline and her writing, you can visit her website.

Last week to enter the Winter '09 Flash fiction Contest with Guest Judge Literary Agent Janet Reid! Visit the Contest Page.

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Thinking Tanka

Monday, February 23, 2009
By Jill Earl

I’m not a poet, and I definitely know it. Growing up, my notebooks were filled with pages of character descriptions, notes and stories, instead of verse. I even attempted to write a piece in the fourth grade while we studied haiku, but struggled with trying to get a handle on understanding the form. I gave up eventually, satisfied with just reading it and other forms of poetry through the years.

Since one of my writing goals this year is to try a different genre, I recently found myself taking a look at tanka, a form of Japanese poetry older than haiku. They are 31-syllable poems traditionally expressing passion and heartache, each line usually consisting of one image or idea. Intrigued, I discovered American Tanka, a literary print journal devoted to English-language tanka.

After looking at some examples, I think the appeal of English-language tanka comes from its brevity, along with its use of modern language. It was interesting to encounter tanka dealing with divorce and other relational issues, even one dealing with Halloween. To me, the process feels easier to approach, less intimidating. Hopefully I’ll still feel that way while learning to understand the 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic units.

More on tanka can be found here on the American Tanka website:, including samples and a bibliography of tanka.

So, I’m thinking tanka. Let’s see where this goes.
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How Writing Changes Moods

Sunday, February 22, 2009
There is a saying along the lines "if you think it, you will feel it," and that seems to be the relationship I have been having with my writing lately. Even though I have been very busy, I have taken a little snippet of time here and there to write. Lately, I have been back to my dry sense of humor and love of puns. As a result, lately I have felt giggles and snickering coming along every so often during the day too. Along the lines of Rene Descartes, "I think I am funny, therefore, I will laugh."

Take for example some writing contests lately. One was an ode, so for some unknown reason, in the late night hours I was online, I'm spurting off rhymes about a pocket protector. If that was not fun and amusing enough, one of the commenters took it one step further and sent back some comments that took my innocent poking fun at "a little piece of plastic" up the next level. In no time, we started feeding jokes off of each other; total strangers, just in that same mood.

Just keep this in mind when you need a little pick-me-up. If you think it while writing, it will help you feel it when it comes to the doldrums of life. If you write using humor, sarcasm, and wit, you can look at the world and your current situations, and find a little something to make you smile. Have a great week!
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Did You Keep Your Maiden Name?

Saturday, February 21, 2009
Many writers use a pseudonym when writing in a different genre to differentiate and brand their writing styles, as well as disguise their true identities. But what if you write in your parent-given name and then get married? Should you change your maiden name to your married name?

Recognize that keeping your maiden name goes against many years of tradition in certain countries, but it still is your decision. I've chosen not to take my husband's last name for the simple fact that I like my own, much to his chagrin. I also chose to keep my maiden name because that's what people know my writing and artwork by. As a writer, we have more of a decision to make than other women because our bylines are what readers recognize.

I'm curious, did you keep your maiden name? Why or why not? Or has your maiden name become your pseudonym now?
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Keeping it Short in Your Writing

Friday, February 20, 2009
by Jill Earl

With numerous versions of the ’25 Random Things’ craze online, you may be ready to deck the next person tagging you to participate! Instead of resorting to violence, cast your eyes upon this creative take for writers.

Roy Peter Clark, author, and long-time faculty member of The Poynter Institute, came up with ’25 Non-Random Things About Writing Short’, a handy list of steps to short writing. What I really liked about Mr. Clark’s piece was the emphasis on getting rid of excess to keep your writing short and tight, while keeping things light.

One of my favorite tips is number 12: Imagine a short piece from the get-go. Conceive a sonnet, not an epic. I’m visualizing nuggets instead of a whole chicken here.

How about using a journal specifically for your short writing? That’s tip number one and will be created shortly.

You can also find inspiration from quotes of a few writers on the list, such as number 22 from Mark Twain: “You may need more time, not less, to write something good and short.”

For the rest of the list, direct your eyes here:

Keeping it short in my writing. Okay, I’m on it!
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Journal Writing: Stuck in a Rut?

Thursday, February 19, 2009
I'm an avid journal writer. But, there are time lapses in my multiple journals. It's the same with my blog. Some days I write eloquent essays that probably should've been submitted for publication. And on other days, I just rant about what is happening on the family farm or at speech practice.

Honestly, some days I'm not inspired. Writing is hard work (contrary to what a lot of people tell me) and coming up with fresh ideas can lead to frustration. More often than not, I come up with interesting ideas. But on those days when nothing seems to go my way, how can I acknowledge my existence as a writer? What if I don't think I have anything to say.

Write. Something.

In Note to Self: On Keeping A Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O'Shea, the author compares journal writing to a mix tape. You use other people's words and concepts to express your feelings.

What a great concept! The first journal I ever kept is filled with quotes, song lyrics, poems, and tidbits of trivial information. They document my life at that specific moment in time. When I reread what I wrote, I see an intelligent young woman who was ready to face the world on her own. And I also visualize a scared girl who wasn't always secure in her own skin.

O'Shea writes that writing other's words in your journal can help you find yourself. And I agree! She discusses several options in her book, including:
  • Poetry. When I look through my old journals, I follow the journey of poetry appreciation and notice that when in high school, I found comfort in poems that reflected themes of friendship and young love. When I was 20-something, I must have purchased a lot of "Best of" anthologies because I note several poems that are seemingly unrelated. And now, I study words and phrases by Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and Brian Turner.
  • Song lyrics. In my first journal, only one song is printed among the pages. "Best of My Love" by the Eagles graces one page. While I enjoy music and sing off key to the radio or CMT, the lack of music in some journals tells me that I might have been in a dark period in my life. The music returned to life in one of my last journals. The songs printed on the pages include songs by Three Doors Down, Mercy Me, Hoobastank, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and LeAnn Rimes. What does that say about my life?
  • Quotes. I have quotes from speeches, plays, movies, TV shows and books alongside the words of the famous and not-so-famous. A quote says a lot about the person you are and the person you will eventually be.

If you find yourself stuck in a journal-writing rut, consider penning someone else's words to jumpstart your creativity. It will put words on paper and serve as a benchmark for where you are at on a personal level.

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Interview with Gayle Carline, Runner Up in the Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Gayle Carline was a software engineer for over 20 years, until she finally chewed her way out the cubicle and became a freelance writer. She quickly became a regular contributor to California Riding Magazine, and in 2005, began writing a weekly humor column, What a Day, for her local newspaper, the Placentia News-Times.

Although she came late to the writing party, Gayle is making up for lost time. Her humor essays have been recognized in contests held by both Humor Press and the Watermark Writer’s Conference, and she wrote a screenplay for the 48-Hour Film Project, an international competition. Her debut novel, Freezer Burn, will soon be published by Echelon Press.

Gayle lives with her husband, Dale, their teenage son, Marcus, and a small zoo that includes two horses. In her spare time, she likes to laugh with friends over a glass of wine. You can visit her at

WOW: Congratulations on placing as one of the Runners Up in our Summer 2008 Flash Fiction contest! How do you feel?

Gayle: As writers, we do our best and think it's good, but sometimes we wonder if we're biased, so it always feels great to be validated. Thanks so much for the recognition.

WOW: It's well deserved! Could you tell us a little about your story and what encouraged the idea behind "Quarter Life?"

Gayle: "Quarter Life" actually came from an online writer's group I belong to, the Orange County Writer's Meetup. We had a member for awhile, Victory Crayne, who would provide first or last sentences and let us take it from there. I had recently been to Vegas with a girlfriend, so an opening line about a guy turning his collar up to the cold suddenly made me picture a down-on-his-luck gambling addict on the streets of Vegas. It's a departure from my usual writing, which tends toward humor.

WOW: It's always interesting to hear about a story's background. Have you written other flash fiction? What type of writing do you most prefer?

Gayle: I'm actually pretty popular at 250 words or less (LOL). I've attended several Southern California Writer's Conferences ( and entered their flash fiction contest each time. Of 5 entries, I've won twice and been runner-up once. I usually look at the prompt and go, "nah, I can't think of anything." Then I think of something. When writing fiction, I like my stories dry with a twist.

My favorite type of writing is the humor essay. James Thurber, Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, and Gordon Kirkland are my heroes. When I'm not writing fiction, I write a weekly humor column for the Placentia News-Times. It's about my home and family life. I would describe it as non-fiction, although my husband says he has his doubts. I never lie—but I do exaggerate.

WOW: So you're good at flash fiction, non-fiction, and you've also written a book. Your first novel, Freezer Burn, is coming out soon. You must be very excited! What did it take to complete that big goal?

Gayle: It took two SoCal Writer's Conferences, a trip to Paso Robles, my girlfriend, Robin, and a wicked bartender.

I got the first idea at my first conference, for a guy who hires a PI to find an ice cube tray in his freezer. In the meantime, Robin and I had been joking about a new PI for our times: Peri Menopause. She solves every crime by eating chocolate, weeping and bitch-slapping people until they confess. I combined the two ideas and asked myself, what else could Peri find in a freezer? The rest of the plot came to me as I slept while my hubby and I drove to Paso Robles for a horse show. I started writing the plot, then when we went on vacation that summer, I asked Mark the bartender if he could think of a cool signature drink for my heroine—something she saved her pennies for. He came up with a dirty martini, the perfect drink for a gal who used to clean houses for a living. Finally, at the San Diego SCWC, I met Karen Syed of Echelon Press ( She read 20 pages of the novel and said, "Give me the rest if it's ready."

I had no idea if it was ready, but I gave it one more good scrubbing and sent it in. She loved it.

And yes, I'm very excited! Every time I see my cover art, my tail starts wagging!

WOW: It sounds like a great read! We will definitely keep a lookout for Freezer Burn. Aspiring authors would probably love to know more about your writing routines. For example, where do you write? How many hours (or words) a day do you write?

Gayle: I wouldn't recommend my routine to anyone - it's fairly chaotic, although I'm organized about it. I start with a spreadsheet that gives me the clues, who finds them, and some info like day, location, etc. Time tends to leap around in my stories, so I need to keep track of which day it is, even if I don't specifically mention it. Then I write a little in the morning, in between loads of laundry, and anything I have to do for my teenager (I volunteer at his school). Then I run errands and usually go to the ranch and ride my horse. After I fix dinner in the evening, I open my document and write more.

And, as unproductive and wacky as all that sounds, I still managed to write Freezer Burn (about 70,000 words) in three months.

WOW: That's very inspirational, thanks—especially for us momwriters! According to your bio, you were a software engineer for over 20 years before becoming a freelance writer. How did you orchestrate that change, and how would you compare your life then and now?

Gayle: There were a few things happening at that time. One is that, as much as I enjoyed the technical aspects of my job, I was the lead on a proposal that kept dragging out and keeping me from the work I liked. The desire to write more pulled at me as I grew unhappier with my job. The second event was that I had bred my mare; she was due to foal in April and I really wanted to spend a lot of time imprinting with the baby. The last "thing" was just the fact that I was getting home late every night and not spending a lot of time with my 12-year old. I wanted to be in the room when he had something to say. I talked it over with my husband, that my ideal life would be writing, tending to my horses, and spending time with my family.

I'm married to a generous (if laconic) man. He said yes.

There's not much about my engineering life I would like to return to - except the salary!

WOW: How great that you've created a satisfying life built around family, writing, and your beloved horses. Do you have any final words of wisdom for our women readers/writers?

Gayle: Words of wisdom? Wait - let me stop laughing... it took me nearly fifty years to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

If you're a writer, write. Don't sit and whine about how you want to if only you could think of something to write about, or don't have time, or blah-blah-blah. Write a journal. Look up some writing prompts. Find a picture in a magazine and make up a story about it. Even if it's 20 words a day, it's 20 more words than you had yesterday.

And whether you're a writer or not, find your own bliss, then spread it around.

How's that?

WOW: Just perfect! Thanks, Gayle. Be sure to let us know when your novel comes out, so we can spread the word.


Every Tuesday we're featuring an interview with a top 10 winner from the Summer 2008 Flash Fiction contest. Visit next week to see who's next!

Also, check out WOW! Women On Writing's current contest. The deadline for entries is February 28, 2009.

--Marcia Peterson
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Writing Inspiration Through Abraham Lincoln

Monday, February 16, 2009
On President's Day, I thought we could learn a little about perseverance and hard work through Abraham Lincoln. When I taught fifth grade full time, I used to have a poster about this very subject. I find Abe's spirit and story absolutely motivational and inspirational! Here's what I'm talking about. . .

1832 --Lost job, Defeated for state legislature
1833 --Failed in business
1835 --Sweetheart died
1836 --Had nervous breakdown
1838 --Defeated for Speaker
1843 --Defeated for nomination for Congress
1848 --Lost renomination for Congress
1849 --Rejected for land officer
1854 --Defeated for U.S. Senate
1856 --Defeated for nomination for Vice President
1858 --Again defeated for U.S. Senate
1860 Elected President
Of course, he had success along the way, or he would have never made it to president. You can see all his successes through that link above. But the point is that any one of those failures would have stopped many people from pursuing a career in politics, especially running for president. Some of his successes were small, and some were large, but each kept him going.
Are you celebrating your small and big successes? When you accomplish a writing goal, celebrate. When you win a writing contest, go out to dinner. If you get a book contract, open your front door and shout and scream and tell your neighborhood!
Are you letting a rejection stop you from sending out more stories or queries? Is your novel in a drawer instead of working through it with a critique group and finding an agent? Are low book sales, due to the economy, making you doubt your career choice as a writer? Anytime you feel discouraged, remember there are people who have faced defeat. And in the face of defeat, they stuck out their tongues, wiped off their brows, and kept on going in spite of what anyone else thought or suggested.
Happy birthday to our former presidents. May we learn from history, so that our futures are even brighter!
Happy writing!
Margo Dill
photo by Seansie at

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Word Play

Sunday, February 15, 2009
"People just love to play with words. People just love to play, haven't you heard?"
-- Men at Work

Who says there aren't life lessons in 80s music? *grin* These lyrics still ring true 28 years after being released on vinyl by this once popular Australian band (and have been in my head ever since I decided to pen this post!) Vinyl may not be as popular, but word play, well it's still humming right along.

There are a number of ways to play with words, and unlike with your mother's casserole surprise, you are most definitely encouraged to play! My latest addiction to word play is Scrabble as I enjoy shuffling my tiles about in hopes of seeing a word magically fall into place. While the actual physical game is still my favorite, the Facebook version has me hooked. I steal a moment or two each day to play new games with my online friends and simply adore how my vocabulary is growing. I sometimes get in a rut with words (like an old married couple, really) but this form of play allows me learn new ones in a challenging way and most of the time with only 7 letters to build and create!

This made me think of other fun ways to play with words and how old standbys seem to permeate generations. Who remembers Mad Libs? As a child, I used to pack up my Mad Libs for long school field trip drives and would giggle with classmates as our random selection of nouns, verbs, and adjectives became humorous stories about elephants driving purple turnip wagons and the like. Games like Mad Libs sparked my love of word play at an early age that is sure to continue to lazy Sunday afternoons with assorted crossword puzzles when my sweetheart and I retire someday.

Another popular form of fun is one that continues to bring out the poet in us all. When is the last time you walked passed a fridge without those adorable little magical, I mean magnetic, words? Magnetic Poetry is available in just about any topic you choose to play with your words. I even have a set totally dedicated to my favorite comic book, Bone.

I find that if I'm wrapping my mind around words in playful ways, it stretches those writing muscles in a direction I might not have gone otherwise. So tell me, how do you play?
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Writing a Valentine's Day Card of Sorts

Saturday, February 14, 2009
We know Cathy (and others) love the PG...but who (and what) else can writers love on this "holiday" today?

How about pens and paper for letting us to get to the basics whenever the ideas start sparking in our minds?

How about the people, events, situations, and other influences which help give rise to our work?

How about the editors and people who see promise and give us a break (or a nice check)?

How about the significant other, friends, family, teachers, readers, etc. who give us encouragement, believe in us, and want to read our next work?

Lest we not forget, the inventors who got us modernized, from typewriters to laptops and beyond? Spell check might still have its glitches (see and sometimes things just don't save correctly, but out of everything, I think my writing happens as much as it does for no other reason than I love the convenience of my computer.

To this, we could easily proclaim our love to the inventors of the Internet and the creators of WOW too, without which some of us would have never "met" and would otherwise lack such valuable insight into the field we choose to pursue.

So, even if you don't have someone to share today with, don't forget to share your love of words with others, don't forget your love of writing, and don't forget to take a second to proclaim your love of things which make your work so interesting, easy to do, etc.! Happy Valentine's Day!

Peters, Mark. "How Spellcheckers Wreak Havoc." 30 Jan. 2009. Good/Blog. 14 Feb. 2009
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An (Early) Valentine to Premium-Green

Friday, February 13, 2009
I just received a contract in the mail for a writing job, thanks to Premium-Green, WOW!’s freelance market guide. I LOVE Premium-Green! And in honor of Valentine's Day, I simply must count the ways:

1. I LOVE the way I have access to detailed information about markets. PG doesn’t just list writer’s guidelines. It provides market demographics, a magazine’s editorial, and even specific editor needs, which helps me better target my pitch. And the pay scale for the market is always right there in boldface print. Always good to know!

2. I LOVE the way PG revs up my writing career. Want to experience a live pitch session? PG recently had a pitch fest for WOW! Looking to try something new? Check out the Writers Wanted section. Need incentives? PG has ongoing contests (with premium prizes!)

3. I LOVE the way I can get instant answers to writing questions. There’s always a PG sister online who’s willing to share her expertise. Even if I’m burning the midnight oil, the California crowd is just finishing dinner!

4. I LOVE the way that these generous PG writers are there to congratulate, commiserate, support, or just listen. My PG sisters have given me the push I needed more than once. And when they send those “Yay! Doing the happy dance for you!” messages, I know they’re really dancing!

Mostly, I LOVE the way that I’ve grown as a writer since joining PG. I thought I’d find a few humor markets, but what I found was the confidence and know-how to take my writing further than I ever imagined. I love thee, Premium-Green, from the heights of my self-esteem to the breadth of my Paypal account. And if my Inbox has another contract waiting, I will but love thee more after I’m paid!


Cathy C. Hall writes humorous columns, essays, articles and fiction and is published in all kinds of fascinating places. You can follow her funny ups and downs on the road to publication at And if you’re interested in children’s writing, you’ll find her searching for publication at
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The WOW! Archives: Mining for Writing Ideas

Thursday, February 12, 2009
By Jill Earl

While looking for new sources of writing inspiration, I decided to check the WOW! Archives recently. On my visit, I came across a post by former WOW’ser Jean Lauzier that caught my eye. Titled ‘Dare I Say It? Time to Exercise!!!’, her post presented a few ideas to exercise the reader’s creative muscles. One in particular suggests getting a 'workout' at the mall or shopping center by listening to conversations or people watching.

I’ve always been a people watcher, and have both my notepad and Palm handy to jot down ideas from conversations I may tune into, whether I’m at Panera or waiting for the bus after work. I was inspired to dig up some character development notes I have regarding scenes from a café I frequented back in the day. I can easily rework them and gather more data to be crafted into new pieces. Hmm, I’m sensing a trip to Panera in my future---for research, of course!

I’m going to try the other suggestions Jean offered, too. For more of her post, skirt over here:

And for more WOW! posts worthy of a look, the Archives can be found on the left side of 'The Muffin' blog page.

So dig into the WOW! Archives. It’s a great resource to jumpstart your writing.
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Update on Fall Personal Essay Contest sponsored by Skirt! Books

Contestants, I know you have been waiting with bated breath for the announcement of the Fall Essay Contest winners. Well, the wait is almost over! We just received the last pic and bio from one of our Top 10 winners and are working on formatting the contest page for the web. It will be posted live with our February issue. It's late, I know! But Feb is not over yet. ;o)

Please note, we didn't have time to send an email announcement to Honorable Mentions, only Top 10 winners, so you'll have to wait a few days until it's officially live on the WOW! site. We're sprinting to the "presses." Thank you for your excitement and patience.
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An Addition to Jan Lundy's Blog Tour

Sometimes we get bloggers who come onto the tour a little after we send out our newsletter announcement, so I thought I'd share the stops we have today with you all. ;o)

Today Feb 12:

Jan Lundy
will be visiting Jo Ann Hernandez' blog, BronzeWord's Blog, to talk about "Journaling: A Balm for a Writer's Soul." A topic that I'm sure all writers will appreciate. Stop by for a chat!

Kim Hix will be visiting Mary Jo Campbell's fabulous blog, Writers Inspired, for an exclusive interview! Visit:

Annette Fix will be stopping by Rebekah Crain's blog, Bookish Mom, to talk about memoir writing. Annette's posts are super, so be sure to stop by.

Ruth Hartman at Deena's Bookshelf for a surprise guest post! Visit:

We are adding new events and stops all the time, so to keep up with the latest, be sure to visit our Events Calendar. We'll keep your days filled with things to do! Happy reading and writing.
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When do you do your best writing?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I had the pleasure of traveling to BlissDom09 in Nashville over the weekend--a conference of more than 300 bloggers. The keynote address was given by Jen Lancaster, who has her fourth memoir coming out in May.
She has a wicked sense of humor, a contagious laugh and I enjoyed her talk immensely. And I know I probably would have even if I hadn't been sitting next to one of her biggest fans (if not her biggest fan).
Often I bemoan the fact that I don't always have all the time I would like to follow my creative work to its completion. (How many of us have ideas scrawled on grocery lists or on notepaper tucked in as a bookmark?)
I have a children's book that moves higher up the pile of my creative work, only to push all the other ideas and creative work down. And that is just one pile.
Listening to Jen Lancaster convinced me I need to follow through and (again) set attainable goals. Amazingly, she convinced me of this even as she admitted to having a marathon writing session in the months leading up to her deadlines--8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for weeks on end. Mind you, I don't have the publishing contract(s) yet, but certainly honoring the creative work is one big step towards moving the book up the pile--or something else and spending even an extra 15 minutes on it.
She mentioned that, according to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, it is a lot of hard work, amassing up to 10,000 hours to become good at something. It is not going to be your talent that guarantees your success, but spending time at your craft and celebrating that you get to do it. Even if it is just a few extra minutes a day.
Celebrating your craft--what a fantastic way to celebrate you!

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for She is also a freelance writer, columnist and blogs for She knows she needs a couple extra minutes each day to spend creatively, but she's been enjoying the energizing company of the BlissDom and WOW! women.
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Interview with Emily Rinkema, Runner Up

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
By Cher'ley Grogg

Emily Rinkema is an English teacher living in the small town of Westford, Vermont with her husband and two dogs. While on partial sabbatical this year, she is working on her first novel and enjoying every minute of it. She has had short stories published in Seven Days and The Sun magazine, and writes whenever she can find the time.

Emily placed in the Top 10 in the WOW! Summer Flash Fiction Contest. Read her winning story, Before, and then come back for a chat with this talented writer.

WOW: Welcome, Emily! It's so cool that you're an English teacher. What grade do you teach and what's your biggest challenge as a teacher for that age group?

Emily: I teach tenth-graders mostly. I love this age group for so many reasons. They are young enough to be able to let go and have fun, and yet they are becoming young adults, so they are able to think critically and analytically. My biggest challenge is probably meeting the needs of all learners; I believe strongly in the importance of heterogeneous classes, yet this makes teaching more difficult. The key to challenging all students is to provide differentiated learning experiences, and I spend most of my non-teaching time trying to become a better teacher in this way.

WOW: I enjoy tenth-graders too, mainly because my 3 grandsons are at that age. Our schools certainly reflect the melting-pot of our society. Your students are so fortunate to have a teacher who reaches out to each of them and at the same time teaches them to work together. Writing a novel is hard work. What is your novel about?

Emily: I'm not sure yet. I'm about 150 pages into it and it keeps changing. I guess it's about the difference between truth and memory...about which is ultimately more powerful or important. And it's about a family. And chickens.

WOW: (Laughing) You got my attention when you said chickens. I love chickens. You're story Before struck home with me. My home state, West Virginia, is a big mining state and my grandfather was a coal miner. Are there a lot of mines in Vermont? Do you have a relative that works in the mines?

Emily: As far as I know, there aren't any mines in Vermont...we're more of a dairy state. I became interested in mining years ago after reading a newspaper story about a mine collapse. It has stuck with me since then.

WOW: You did such a wonderful job on her emotions; I was sure you'd experienced the tragedy first hand. I loved the comparison of Carla and Sue's lives and of the way you described Carla's reaction to the news--the shock that laid under the surface. Did your story start out in Carla's POV?

Emily: The story was originally first person, but third person seemed a more effective way of providing the distance I wanted.

WOW: Often people go into shock and continue doing their routine tasks (like spreading peanut butter), as a way to avoid facing the emergency at hand. You nailed the connection between the center of the mine and Carla's pregnancy. Did that just fall into place or did you strategically plan it that way?

Emily: From the beginning (the first draft), I knew Carla was going to be pregnant. I wanted to play with the connection between the mine and the womb, as well as Carla's feeling of entrapment. The earliest drafts were much longer and were a bit too obvious with connections--I wanted the parallels to be evident, but not hit the reader over the head with symbolism.

WOW: You handled the situation like a pro. How long have you been writing?

Emily: I've been writing stories since I was a kid, but it was only a few years ago that I actually let anyone read anything or tried to publish. In my mind, there was an implied arrogance about sending out writing--I felt that by sending my work to a magazine or journal or contest, I was saying that it was good enough to be in print. That was a tough hurdle for me; I never think anything I write is "finished," but I finally got to the point where I thought what the... Because of my teaching job, I don't find much time to write, but I take what time I can find.

WOW: It seems that as writers we push writing to the back burner way too often. Do you prefer flash fiction or long stories?

Emily: I like writing both. Flash fiction is a different kind of challenge--every
word has to count. I find that writing flash fiction makes me a better, more careful writer. I am much more aware of my use of language when I have to be precise and concise.

WOW: Thank you, Emily, for taking the time to share with our WOW readers. Since I have you sharing--how did you feel when you found out you placed as a runner up? Is this the first contest you've entered? What advice do you have for a writer who's thinking of entering a contest?

Emily: I was excited to place in this contest, and hopefully I will have more confidence moving forward. I have had a few short stories published, but this is the first contest I've entered. My advice for those thinking of entering...go for it. You've got nothing to lose!

If you haven't already done so, please read Emily's story Before.

The Winter Flash Fiction Contest is open. Deadline: February 28, 2009 (or until we reach 300 entries). Don't wait until the last minute! Visit our Contest Page for details. Happy writing!

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Kim Hix, Author of No One is Perfect and You Are a Great Kid, Launches her blog tour!

Monday, February 09, 2009
& Book Giveaway Contest!

We are delighted to launch Kim Hix' blog tour on The Muffin! Her book, No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid, won the Reader Views 2007 Annual Literary Award for Best Children's Book for ages 6 and under.

No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid is a lovely book written about Zack, a young boy who struggles with ever changing moods. He tries to understand why he gets sad, upset, discouraged and angry in response to what most would consider insignificant events. Zack often feels different, left out, and isolated due to his moods. He poses thought provoking questions to his audience that can spur some meaningful conversation.

This book will touch the heart of anyone who has a special child in their life who struggles with any degree of emotional, behavorial, or psychiatric disorder.

The character in the book is based on Kim's son Zack. Kim wrote the book for kids like him, who struggle with feelings of being different. It is her hope that this story will offer some measure of comfort and belonging to the children who read it.

Find out more about Kim by visiting her website: Intense Kids, Great Kids. And remember to comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of Kim's book,
No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid.

WOW! columnist Chynna Laird, a mother of a special needs child herself, chats with Kim about her important book for parents and kids.


Kim welcome to The Muffin! We're thrilled to have you make a stop here for a chat while you're out on your blog tour. Let's get right to it: Can you tell us a bit about your professional and educational background and how, or if, that helped prepare you for the events to come with your son, Zack?

KIM: I have a BS in Psychology from Lander University, and my first "real job" out of college was as a mental health counselor at a psychiatric hospital in Greenville S.C. I have always believed there was some divine intervention that led me into this field along with the fact that my mom has been a psychiatric nurse her entire life. It was so interesting as a kid growing up and hearing fascinating stories of her patients. I am the kind of person who could sit and watch people for hours.

CHYNNA: That's fantastic. I'll bet it certainly made you more "in tuned" with other people, especially with your son, Zack. When did you first realize that Zack struggled with something more than "spiritedness" or "moodiness"? Can you give us an idea of what some days can be like for Zack?

KIM: I knew almost from birth, a few weeks into his life, that something was wrong. He was a very unhappy baby, never satisfied, very difficult to sooth or calm. He would scream and cry for hours and rarely slept. As a toddler most days were just a roller coaster emotions. I use to keep a log of his moods and behaviors and he would have as many as 6 mood shifts a day. I read every parenting book I could find and tried all the techniques, even went to several seminars by well know doctors and therapists to try and find out what I could possibly do to help him, help us. Nothing worked.

If anything made him upset or frustrated, he would continue trying to do it, all the while getting more and more upset, unable to stop himself until he was in a full blown rage. We found out later that was "mission mode." For him, his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) drove him to complete a task, making him feel unable to stop until, in his mind, it was perfect.

CHYNNA: I can relate to how difficult it must have been for you, Kim. There’s nothing worse for a parent to know their child struggles with something but feel like there’s nowhere to turn for answers. What was the journey of assessment and treatment like for him and for the rest of the family?

I started taking him to doctors around 18 months to try and figure out what was wrong and heard many times "he's just high strung, tempermental, testing your limits etc.."it was so frustrating because I knew it was much more. He would literally change appearance during his rages, it was clear something else was taking over and he was not himself. Then once the episode was over he would be normal again, it is still so unbelievable to see. Finally around the age of 4 my mom witnessed a rage that went on for 3 hours, and we tried everything to calm him, nothing worked. After about 3 hours he just fell a sleep and she said she could see what I have been trying to tell everyone for so long and that something was really wrong.

After months of more consultations we finally got in with a great psychiatrist that specializes in childhood mental illnesses and behavioral disorders. He diagnosed Zack with Bipolar/NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) at first, and anxiety. That later turned into what he is currently diagnosed with, OCD/Tourettes/ADHD (Attention Deficet Hyperactivity Disorder) and Pediatric Autoimmune Neurolopsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strepp (PANDAS).

In between he has seen specialists in therapy, neurofeedback, nutrition, and spiritual healing. We tried it all. [Neurologists also believe there was a slight bit of oxygen deprivation at birth, and that a early strep infection triggered the OCD at a very young age (PANDAS), Zack has also sustained 3 head traumas during sporting events.]

CHYNNA: Oh my goodness, Kim. You and Zack have certainly gone through a lot. It should never take so long to get help, should it? Now, let's talk about your wonderful book, No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid! I loved how the book speaks to readers through his eyes and in his voice. I feel this style gives much clearer insight of what it must really be like to be in Zack's shoes. Was that intentional so he could finally "speak to" other people?

KIM: Yes. I wanted the reader, the child, to feel like Zack was there having a conversation with them, and asking them questions to think about.

CHYNNA: That's brilliant! And telling a story in that voice works. I can tell you when I read it to my daughter, Jaimie, she completely empathized and related to Zack's story (mostly because she’s gone through a lot of the same things!) Kim, how did the book come to be? Was it difficult, emotionally, to write?

KIM: The book was easy actually. It came to mind after one of his episodes, then him feeling so terrible about himself and posing his usual questions to me: "Why does this happen to me?" "Why am I like this?" "Why did God make me this way?" "No other kids have these problems, they are perfect."

The book was to be a gift to Zack--for him to have to read later--as a reminder of what he has been through and how much he is loved and valued.

CHYNNA: What a beautiful and loving way to help your son understand his struggles and to help him explain it to others. You know, our stories with our children are very similar, Kim: Trying to get people to listen to our pleas that something was truly wrong; fighting to get them the help they desperately needed; even trying to bring about a little understanding instead of judgment. It can be heartbreaking. How have you coped through all of that, Kim? Where do you get your strength?

KIM: Well, only parents of children like ours can truly understand what this is like, how frustrating it is to know who your child really is and for others to judge only the negative and poor behavior they may see. We, as parents, get accused of poor parenting when in fact we are most likely much better parents that those who have the "perfect" kids, because we have had to dig deeper, search more, have more patience, be more creative, and be stronger!!!

Somehow I keep a positive attitude, believing Zack will get better as he grows and knowing that no matter how difficult the day may be, how unstable he may be and how chaotic our lives may be, that we have many blessings and that things could be much worse. He really is self-sufficient and independent. His disability can not be seen by the naked eye--it is tucked deep inside his brain. But it is nevertheless a debilitating disability.

Millions of kids and adults suffer with the same challenges as Zack does and the same stigma. Zack is a sweet, huge hearted, funny, charming 13 year old with many challenges. I try to remind myself of all he is rather than what he is not.

CHYNNA: That's very powerful, Kim. Tell us what the primary message you want people to get from your book? What do you want to leave your readers with?

KIM: I hope the children and adults that read our story will take the message to heart, realize that no matter if you are different for any reason that you are still a valuable individual worthy of love and compassion; of friendship; understanding and joy of life; and that you have gifts unique only to you that make you special. Also the importance of acceptance of others and not to judge.

CHYNNA: Very significant and wise advice that I've often given myself! How is Zack today? How does he feel about the book? Does he use it help teach others about his struggles? Zack is almost 14 now and doing well.

KIM: Thanks to a clinical research trial I came across with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) he is more stable than he has been in many years. He has been part a a clinical trial for a medication for pediatric patients with OCD who have been resistant to tradition meds for OCD for variety of reasons.

We get flown to Maryland monthly, sometimes twice a month, he is tested and given his medicine and it has helped him tremendously, this has been a huge blessing. We finally found the proper placement in school for him that has been great for him, (he is in a learning disabled class for kids with neurological disabilities) he made honor roll for the first time since elementary school and is making friends. He enjoys giving his book to teachers and signing his autograph. He does hope that other kids will realize, through his story, that they are not struggling alone.

CHYNNA: Zack sounds like a strong young man. And what a hoot it must be for him to get to sign autographs! That's awesome! Final question, Kim: Do you have any final pearls of wisdom you'd like to leave us with?

KIM: I would just say to always trust your instinct as a parent. If you think something is wrong with your child, do not give up even if a "professional" tells you there isn't. Never give up. Try to accept your child as he/she is. Fight for what you believe is best for your child. Faith, love, hope.

If you'd like to learn more about Zack, Kim and their journey, please visit their website at By clicking on any of the links in the interview, you can learn more about PANDAS, OCD and other disorders. Knowledge sparks understanding and that's all parents, like Kim, want for their children.

Want to join Kim on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

February 9, 2009 Monday
Kim will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Kim's book!

February 10, 2009 Tuesday
Kim visits Rebekah Crain's blog, Ready Set Read Reviews, to chat about special needs children, and shares a story from the heart. Be sure to visit this wonderful blog!

February 11, 2009 Wednesday
Kim visits Anne-Marie Nichols popular blog, My Readable Feast, to chat about teaching tolerance about special needs kids. An important topic, not to miss!

February 12, 2009 Thursday
Kim visits Writer Inspired for an exclusive interview! Mary Jo's interviews are fantastic, so be sure to stop by.

February 16, 2009 Monday
Kim visits Raising Socially Anxious Children and shares her insight on raising a special needs child. This is an important blog dedicated to supporting families who are raising children with anxiety and mood disorders.

February 17, 2009 Tuesday
Kim visits Educating for Wholeness, a blog that shares stories and offerings encouraging social and emotional well-being, to talk about teaching tolerance and understanding differences.

February 18, 2009 Wednesday
Kim visits Allyn Evans' blog, The Alert Parent, and shares her thoughts on an important decision she had to make: should she tell the story accurately, wondering if it would somehow cause embarrassment for her son when others realized the depth of his emotional disabilities? Find out what the decision making process was like and how by sharing Zack's story, Kim is helping other kids.

February 23, 2009 Monday
Kim visits The Daily Blonde and shares her advice on raising a special needs child. This should be a very interesting post, since both the blog owner, Cheryl Phillips, and Kim have a son named Zack/Zach who is diagnosed with ADHD. These two moms will be dishing an up front and honest conversation. Not to miss!

February 24, 2009 Tuesday
Kim will be stopping by Deena's Bookshelf for a book review written by Deena and a guest post by Kim. Stay tuned!

February 25, 2009 Wednesday
Kim will be stopping by Margo L. Dill's fabulous blog, Read These Books and Use Them, for an exclusive author interview! Margo's interviews are fantastic, so be sure to visit.

February 26, 2009 Thursday
Kim will be visiting Joyce Anthony's blog for an interview and book review! Be sure to stop by and chat.

March 2, 2009 Monday
Kim will be visiting Just One More Book for an exclusive podcast! Kim is interviewed for 10-20 minutes, so be sure to grab a cup of coffee and listen!

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and important author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Kim Hix' blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Kim's book No One is Perfect and You are a Great Kid.
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So Many Stories...

Sunday, February 08, 2009
by LuAnn Schindler

Earlier this morning, as I attempted to determine what this blog post should cover, I couldn't narrow it down to just one choice. Some writing days are like that. The ideas pop into a writer's mind and sometimes, it's difficult to focus on just one idea.

I wanted to write about:
  • National Indoor Air Month. Since writers spend a fair amount of time inside, it's important to consider the air quality in your working space. The past several days have been warm here in Nebraska, and I was able to open the windows and let in the fresh air. Just the hint of fresh air spurred my creativity. It also made me realize that an air purifier might be necessary for the office.
  • An retired Omaha librarian. Yesterday's Omaha World-Herald had an interesting story on the front page of the living section about retired librarian Linda Garcia, who spent 30 years at a library in Omaha's south side, which is home to a growing Latino population. Garcia built the library system's collection of bilingual materials and developed programs for immigrant families. She's also an artist, and one of her sculptures will grace the library she formerly worked at.
  • Writing gigs on Craigslist. Read an interesting blog this week (although now I can't find the link) about how writers should be perusing Craigslist ads because the number of jobs would keep all writers employed.
  • International Flirting Week. This week-long celebration begins tomorrow, and I wanted to give you the dirty on being flirty. But, writers flirt with danger every day. There's the seduction of selecting a topic, the courtship with researching, and the tease of the keyboard keys. Then all a writer has to do is give the proverbial flirtation move - the hair toss - to land an agent. Oh, if it were only that easy!
  • Reading programs in schools. Do reading programs and classes in elementary schools actually teach comprehension or do they focus instead on rote learning that doesn't give students the big or complete picture? This topic has been on my mind during my six-week stint substitute teaching the local 4th grade class. And furthermore, why are students receiving pass/fail grades in reading? How do teachers measure learning? From workbook pages?

Which deserves the most blog time? I couldn't decide, so I shared a snippet of each of the stories I'm going to start working on. Some writing days are like that.

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Save the Book! Please!

Friday, February 06, 2009
I am using my post today to talk about sad news I have received this week--one is that my favorite independent bookstore has closed, and two, The Washington Post is no longer going to have a print edition of their weekly book section, "Book World."

First, my favorite independent bookstore . . . Pages for All Ages in Savoy, IL (which is in Champaign County) closed its doors on my birthday! UGH! Last week, I went there, excited to look for a book, and it was closed. But the sign on the door simply said, "Closed for inventory." I thought this was weird, but I surely didn't think they would be going out of business. They had been in the book selling business for 20 years, and people of all ages flocked there. Of course, maybe all these people were just drinking coffee, reading books and magazines, and using the free Internet service. Now, it is closed. Closed. Closed. Closed. I keep hoping for a miracle.

Then, I receive an email from one of my writing friends that says,

"The big news on everyone's tongue this week has been the unfortunate decision by the Washington Post to shutter its stand-alone book review section, 'Book World.' 'Book World' is scheduled to appear in its final print edition on February 15, though it will continue to be published online. According to the Washington Post, the printed Sunday book content will be split between two sections in the paper - 'Outlook' and 'Style & Arts.'

"Book World fans should take heart however, because if you are in possession of a connection to the Internet (which, if you are reading this, you are), you'll still be able to read 'Book World' online, and, according to the Washington Post's Rachel Hartigan Shea, 'you may not notice any change in our coverage at all and might even see some improvements.'

"This Sunday is one of your final few chances to read 'Book World' in print, so pick up a copy of the Washington Post at your local newsagent. Or start reading Book World online."

So, what is this saying about books? I'm hoping it is saying nothing. I am hoping, and this may sound weird, that these are just more results of our failing economy. I hope it is NOT saying that people are losing interest in reading. Are people really losing interest in books?

To me, books are the eighth wonder of the world. I guess I need to start convincing more people.
Happy Reading!
Margo L. Dill
Read These Books and Use Them (blog)
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Stuck in a Rut and Trying to Use Algebra to Get Out!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009
I have to admit, this is an interesting, and now, ironic conundrum. Despite all of the time I have been spending time researching on the Internet, reading newspapers, and all the various writing projects I am scheming on, I have a little bit of writer's block when it comes to a post today. I tried earlier today, but didn't like the few pieces of drivel I put down. I thought about some sage advice and some project ideas to spout off, but threw them aside. Typically, I see something and am inspired and it's write a draft, edit, and post. The idea either comes the day before or the day of, and when there are a multiple, I keep a list of things I could write on in case I get stuck. However, today, not even the list of things is flowing from fingers to keyboard in a satisfactory manner.

The likely culprit? I have been doing too much math work lately. See, there's some humor in that last statement. I am one of those neutral dominate sides of the brain - both tend to work around the same. My favorite subjects in school: history and science. The easiest (hence, something I didn't appreciate for a long time)? The languages. I was and still am pretty handy with doing math in my head rather than just on a calculator.

That said, at work, I did what someone dubbed "going to the other side." In addition to working with students in writing papers and studying habits, I am going to classes and working with math students too for the first time this semester. While I am proficient with all of these areas, I am not used to going back and forth between the two hemispheres of the brain like I used, got a little rusty. In school, I would flip from chemistry and history, no sweat or time lapse.

However, today, I spent all day working on supervisor-type tasks then did a few hours of math. The writing side of my brain? Only now starting to wake up.

Now, the question is, do I plan out my writing time for certain days of the week now, or is there a way to get the brain back to that ability to float simultaneously back and forth? What do those of you who write as an avocation or have another job on "the other side" do when you want to (or have to) write? Any tricks out there?

I like writing and doing math equally, so giving up on one is not an option. That's like asking me, the trained archaeologist, if my academic department should be a science or in with the arts and humanities. Part of what I need to know and learn about is in the sciences (i.e., geochemistry, biology, geology), while other elements are not (i.e., philosophy, history). There just have to be some tricks out there...That said, I am going to sit here amused at the irony of a post on how I couldn't get started on a post.
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Interview with James Tipton, Runner-Up

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt

James Tipton lives with his wife Martha and his daughter Gabriela in the tropical mountains of central Mexico in the town of Chapala, south of Guadalajara. His collection of poems, Letters from a Stranger (Conundrum Press, 1999), with a Foreword by Isabel Allende, won the Colorado Book Award. He has a particular interest in short poems and short (including flash) fiction. A collection of haiku, Proposing to the Woman in the Rear View Mirror, has just been published (October 2008) and a collection of tanka, five-line poems, All the Horses of Heaven will shortly be published (January 2009) by Modern English Tanka Press (http://www.modernenglishtankapress/).

Jim is currently completing a collection of short stories set in Mexico, Three Tamales for the Señor, many of them about expatriates living south of the border, and a collection of short poems, Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village, set in Mexico and Latin America, which is finished and is being translated into Spanish to be published very soon in a bilingual edition.

He lives in a “high-estrogen” house consisting of his wife, daughter, two female dogs, a female cat, and various young mothers who make their appearance almost daily (often with their daughters) to visit his wife and daughter. All of these females serve from time to time to inspire him and to provide him with subject matter; and if nothing else they give him lots of excuses to retreat to his upstairs office to write, versus all the excuses not to write that he used to come up with when he was single.

James Tipton's latest book, Proposing to the Woman in the Rear View Mirror, has just been released. It is a collection of haiku and senyru, three-line poems, some about the natural world, some about the human world. William J. Higginson, author of The Haiku Handbook, says these poems are "by a man who is not afraid to be himself," who can tell "the truths of his mind without flinching or apology".

Proposing to the Woman in the Rear View Mirror can be ordered on line for $9.95 plus shipping and handling at

James placed as a Runner Up in the WOW! Summer Flash Fiction Contest. If you haven't done so already, read his winning story, Howard and Helen Play House, and then come back for a chat!

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest! I see that you are already an accomplished writer of short poetry. And based on your award-winning entry, I’d say you have a gift for saying a lot in only a few words. Do you find it challenging to make the transition between writing shorter and longer pieces? If so, in what ways to do you find it challenging?

James: I've always loved short poetry and short fiction. But I think about "short" poetry and "short" fiction a very "long" time. While others dash out thousands and thousands of words, I muse over what I want to say, and then I diligently work and rework what few words I finally end up with. I was influenced by reading Kenneth Rexroth's translations of short poems from the Japanese and the Chinese, mostly love poems. My own poems, as Isabel Allende points out in her Foreword to my book of poetry, Letters from a Stranger, are often about "ordinary experiences--wings, canyons, rocks, flesh--but mainly about that other extraordinary" Love (and its various facets) for me, is always immediate, experienced in the moment, and somehow this is related to why I write short love poems.

I do like working on longer pieces of fiction, though, but rarely over 8,000 words. Right now I have almost completed a collection of short stories about expatriates living in Mexico, titled Three Tamales for the Señor. And all of them, one way or another, are about love.

And speaking of Mexico, I have a collection of 100 short poems (generally three lines) about Mexico and Latin America (but also about love) that is coming out in a couple of weeks, titled Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village. (I live in Mexico, but the book will be distributed in the states by Bread & Butter Press, 1150 S. Glencoe, Denver, CO 80246.)

And still on the subject of short poems, Modern English Tanka Press, which recently published a collection of my haiku, Proposing to the Woman in the Rear View Mirror, will publish a collection of my tanka (a 5-line Japanese form) in February titled All the Horses of Heaven. (

Both All the Horses of Heaven and Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village are published bi-lingually (with Spanish translations).

WOW: Congratulations on your recent and upcoming publications! We’ll have to keep an eye out for them. You’ve mentioned that many of your poems and short stories are about expatriates living south of the border. Are you an expatriate? How did you come to make the decision to live in Mexico, and how long have you been living there?

James: For decades, actually, I have wandered around Mexico and parts of Latin America. The Hispanic culture is richly textured, closer to the earth, more connected to magic, and at least in the little towns the people care a lot about each other, and children, and neighbors. The violence that has developed because of the drug business (to provide the United States with "product") is beginning to touch all of us, though--I personally know of five murders in our little village--Chapala--this past month or so.

I am married to a Mexican woman, Martha, who grew up in a little Indian village near the Pacific...dirt floors, thatched roofs...the type of childhood I think I sometimes hungered for, and we have a lovely daughter, Gabriela. I have been living here full-time for about five years. Prior to that I was a beekeeper and writer in the high desert region of western Colorado.

WOW: How did your story “Howard and Helen Play House” take root?

James: I like "heroes" and so many stories I read are about sad losers who allow circumstances to determine their lives. Helen in my story "Howard and Helen Play House" is not, finally, a loser, and like the classic hero she does not allow her situation to destroy her. The catalyst for change that wakes her up is when her husband throws an unopened can of tuna at her and splits open her forehead. I have left relationships that began as romantic ones after a significant and defining event, a variation of that can of tuna tossed so carelessly and callously at Helen. Helen discovers she is a strong woman, much stronger than Howard has ever imagined.

When she walks out, she is no longer a child "playing house" with another child, her husband Howard.

WOW: What do you believe is your greatest writing accomplishment, and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?

James: I don't think much about accomplishments past, present, or future, although awards come my way now and then. Letters from a Stranger, for example, won the Colorado Book Award.

I think a lot about words, about love, about real things that have happened to me and to others, and then I like to distill those thoughts and experiences into poetry or fiction, usually short poetry or fiction. I suppose my greatest accomplishment is that I've stuck with it for decades without much real success in the way people usually think about writers and success.

The "sound" of words is also very important to me and for years I have read aloud what I have been writing and rewriting, feeling the taste of those some strange way it is almost erotic to me.

WOW: Sticking with something that you love, with or without traditional success, is definitely a great accomplishment and I commend you for being able to do that. Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

James: Don't think much about being a writer. Think about writing.

Let yourself be seduced by your own heart and then see what happens to you.

Advice? Maybe there is some hidden in my poem, "One Night I Picked up in a Bar," which begins:

One night I picked up in a bar
a woman named Poetry,
and she was drunk, or I was drunk,
but at any rate I took her home
and listened to her.

If you haven't done so already, read James' award-winning story "Howard and Helen Play House".

Enter the WOW! Women On Writing Winter Flash Fiction Contest, open now. Deadline: February 28, 2009.
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