Squeeze In That Writing Time!!

Monday, November 30, 2009
*The Following post is a version of one I'd written for Dianne Segan's blog. She gives some wonderful ideas and insight for writer Mamas everywhere so be sure to check out her blog.*
How many of you can relate to this question: “Where on earth do you find the time for writing with four young children?” Believe me, there are many days I wonder the very same thing. But I’ve come to realize that writing isn’t just something I love to do, it’s something I need to do. It helps keep me in touch with that part of myself that isn’t “Mama,” and that’s very important—for all of us. Allow me to explain.
I’m actually a late bloomer as far as getting into writing professionally. It’s not that I never had the time to write I was simply too nervous having my work out there for everyone to read. I mean, who the heck would have been interested in what I had to say? But as time went on, my courage increased with each story or article I’d let the world see until I’d made it almost a full-time gig. Then my Jaimie was born and writing had to stop temporarily.
I knew very early on that my miracle girl struggled with something. None of us knew what it was and she tried telling us in her own ways but we didn’t understand. After two years, we finally got someone—a fantastic OT named, Donna—to listen to our pleas. After a few hours with Jaimie she told us Jaimie had Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Now I’m the sort of person who can deal with anything as long as I have the information. I read every book available at that time, read articles, did online research and absorbed myself completely in understanding this mystery “SPD.”
You see there is much debate on whether SPD is a “real” disorder despite the fact that thousands of families are afflicted by it and tons of research backs it up. That made me angry. I lived with Jaimie each and every day watching how the tiniest things in her environment bothered her and caused her pain—things the rest of us take for granted—and yet it’s still considered “invisible.” That’s when I started writing again.
My passion to help my daughter by helping others understand her became my writing goal. Plus writing for me is therapeutic—it helps me re-focus on what’s important, calms me down when I’m not able to turn my mind off and gets rid of any of residue from the day’s stressors. Most importantly, it makes me feel like I’m doing something proactive in helping Jaimie since I can’t change the world so it doesn’t hurt her, cause her confusion or distress. I can, however, help that world accept her for who she is and see things through her eyes. And now you know how squeezing that writing time in is so important to everyone in my house.
Hey! You can do it too. Really. I used to get frustrated when I wasn’t able to sit for a writing session for a specified amount of time until I realized I still could. I just needed to write around my life. I took my little Neo keyboard with me to Jaimie’s therapy sessions, typing madly in the waiting room. I stole bits of time during nap or snack times or when the kids were preoccupied with their one half-an hour show I let them watch. Then I stayed up later after they all (finally) fall asleep. When you give yourself those snippets of time throughout the day, it’s like having an Espresso. It gives you extra brain energy until the next snippet you’re allowed to have. (Of course, if you’re writing a novel, you may want to wait until you get those larger blocks of time otherwise it will take forever!)
The most important thing to do is be easy on yourself. Don’t get frustrated if you have a day where the kids need you more than usual and won’t let you escape for a little while—it happens to me all the time. I just remind myself that for every nonproductive day, I get a couple of really productive ones in where I get tons of time to make up the difference.
I look at it this way: God gave me this amazing gift. I may not be the best writer in the world but darn it, I’m right up there with some of the most passionate! My writing has taken on a very specific purpose now, which helps me make that time for writing each and every day—even if it’s just for a few minutes. When I think, “I just don’t have the time today!” I simply look down on Jaimie’s earnest little face and think about how brave she was just getting out of bed that morning to face what her environment had in store for her. And that gives me strength to forge ahead.
Keep writing, Mamas! It matters and it’s so important.
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Checklist for Freelancers

Sunday, November 29, 2009
by LuAnn Schindler

You've submitted queries and you're playing the waiting game. Once the editor bites on your pitch, there are a few items you need to cover with the editorial staff. Clarity of expectations will help the project progress smoothly. Use this list when working with an editor.
  • Ask for a precise explanation of the project. What's the word count? Are photos necessary? Do you need a sidebar?
  • Note the deadline.
  • Determine what format should be used to submit the final product: an attachment? body of an email? mailed on a disk?
  • Learn what rights the publisher is asking for.
  • Discuss payment. Will you receive a flat rate? Are you being paid by the hour? Will you earn a certain amount for each word?
  • Decide what types of expenses, if any, will be covered as well as the payment procedure for expenses.
  • Review invoicing policies. Who should receive the invoices? When should they be sent?
  • Check if multimedia products (photos, videos, drawings) will be returned.

Many publishers will send a checklist of this nature when they decide to use your article. If a publisher does not use a similar form, a writer can send a form with her understanding of the project and ask for the editor to return it with an electronic signature via email. Protecting your bottom line and your projects will establish a solid relationship with an editor.

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Making the ‘Write’ Connection on Facebook

Saturday, November 28, 2009
By Jill Earl

Whether you’re a newcomer to Facebook, or know your way about the social networking site, you might be wondering if there’s an easier way to connect with writers. Take a peek at two of the resources I’ve found helpful.

First up is Creative Writing Sites on Facebook - an Index. Use it to look up authors' business pages, writing programs, writers' groups, writers' retreats and residencies, presses, magazines, workshop communities, the list goes on. According to the site, this index, which was established February 2008, is now at 840 listings.

Next is Creative Writing Blogs on Facebook - A Directory. Established December 2008 and comprised of 110 blogs so far, it’s great for locating writing-oriented blog networks and blogs.

Since both are open groups on the site, you’re free to list your own site or blog, useful for getting your name out there and networking with writing peers globally.

Keep in mind that you do have to join Facebook in order to access the directories and click through to the links, though.

Creative Writing Sites on Facebook

Creative Writing Blogs on Facebook

Check them out and make the ‘write’ connection on Facebook for yourself!
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Friday Speak Out: "Some Thoughts on Writing," Guest Post by Jayne Martin

Friday, November 27, 2009
Some Thoughts on Writing

by Jayne Martin

At 60 years old, I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. A writer.

This is actually the second time in my life I have realized this. The first was when I was in my 20’s struggling to be an actress despite my extreme discomfort in actually standing up in front of anyone and performing. This was about the same time that Sylvester Stallone was achieving his “overnight” success as writer and star of the first “Rocky.” I naively figured if he could write, how hard could it be and I started writing scenes for my acting class. To my great surprise, they were very well-received and I suddenly went from being the worst actress in the class to someone regarded with a certain amount of respect, it felt good.

While earning my living typing the screenplays of others, I became exposed to literally hundreds of scripts – some exceptionally good, like those by Alvin Sargent and Fay Kanin, and some exceptionally bad by writers never to be heard from again. I learned from all of them. My forté became the realm of the TV-Movie. I would either pitch an original idea or I would get an assignment to write a script from someone else’s idea, or from a true-life story, or adapt a book. The great thing about working on assignment or from a pitch is I got paid whether the movie got made or not and if it did get made, I actually get a bonus payment. My career as a TV writer spanned almost two decades and I was fortunate to have several of my scripts made into movies.

I wrote my last movie in 2004 and for the longest time I felt no creative drive to write anything. Until recently. It started with the discovery of a few new authors and the re-discovery of some old favorites, and their voices inspired me. So with the encouragement of some friends, I started a blog, injaynesworld, and darned if people didn’t start showing up, although where they got the idea there’d be refreshments served I have no idea. Oh, yeah, I might have said something about that in my shameless effort to lure readers. Most importantly, my creative juices are flowing again and I’m meeting and making friends with some wonderful writers.

Since I am no longer completely dependent on writing for a living, I am once again free to write for the pure pleasure and love of it, and I had forgotten how much I truly do love it. Not that I would turn money down. I’d love to get a paycheck for writing again and maybe I will. In the meantime, it’s such a joy to write directly for an audience and get that immediate feedback. A writer needs an audience. Because if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around, it really doesn’t make a sound.

Jayne Martin is an unapologetic, bleeding-heart liberal who loves good horses, good friends, and good wine. A TV-writer in a former life, her credits include "Big Spender," for Animal Planet, and "A Child Too Many," "Cradle of Conspiracy," and "Deceived By Trust" for Lifetime. Visit her blog, injaynesworld.


Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

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A Day of Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 26, 2009
Today is not only a day for eating turkey, enjoying time with family and friends, and giving thanks for those in your personal lives, it's also a time to be thankful for your writing life.

I'm lucky to have a job where I get to work with talented writers who inspire me daily. These writers include our current staff members: Margo L. Dill, Marcia Peterson, LuAnn Schindler, Joanne Stacey, Jill Earl, Jodi Webb, Anne Greenawalt, Carrie Hulce, Cher'ley Grogg, Chynna Laird, and Elizabeth King Humphrey. And the many, many previous staff members (including most recently Alison Diefenderfer and Senior Editor Annette Fix) who've passed through the WOW! halls. Working with these ladies is such a joy. They're all excellent writers and I love hearing what they're up to in their writing lives and watching them grow as writers.

I'm also thankful for our instructors who've chosen to teach with WOW! Your knowledge and ability to help others with enthusiasm and patience is extraordinary. We're lucky to have you, and those that take your classes are lucky too!

I'm thankful for the Premium-Green community of women writers. This group has to be one of the most encouraging group of writers out there. Thank you for sharing your successes, big or small, and engaging in conversations about the freelance writing life on the group boards. You bring out my entrepreneurial spirit and inspire my pep talks! I hope they inspire you too.

To the multitude of contestants, I owe you a big thank you for always being gracious and understanding--even if we're late with prizes. I love reading your stories and learning more about you through interviews here on The Muffin. You're all such a talented bunch of writers, so creative. I'm still in awe at how you can come up with a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end in such a short word count.

I'm thankful for the guest judges we have each season, who donate their time and judge stories simply for the love of the written word. Thank you for dedicating yourself to our contests and for encouraging writers everywhere.

I'm especially thankful for those of you who visit and read WOW! and share your comments, stories, successes, and your passion for writing. It's this community that keeps me motivated and striving for the best.

To the freelancers and interviewees who've worked with WOW!, I'm thankful for your well written articles and for the advice you've shared with our readers. Without you, there wouldn't be a publication.

And last, but certainly not least, to my webmaster and partner, Glenn Robnett. Thank you for your dedication to WOW!, your expert tech savvy, and for always making our publication look beautiful and shine online.

So as you enjoy a day of family and friends, remember to give thanks to those in your writing life too. (Before you fall into a turkey-induced tryptophan-coma!) Happy Thanksgiving!
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Make Mistakes to Find Out What You Want

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I was just reading the November issue of O magazine and thought this piece of advice would encourage you to take action in your writing life. Excerpt from the article Where To Start by Anne Lamott:

When I was a young writer, I was talking to an old painter one day about how he came to paint his canvases. He said that he never knew what the completed picture would look like, but he could usually see one quadrant. So he'd make a stab at capturing what he saw on the canvas of his mind, and when it turned out not to be even remotely what he imagined, he'd paint over it in white. And each time he figured out what the painting wasn't, he was one step closer to finding out what it was.

You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren't. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don't think your way into becoming yourself.


Sometimes we are afraid to try something new. Some of us fear rejection and others are so used to doing things a certain way it becomes comfortable and we don't want to break the pattern. Then there are still others that think about doing something so much it becomes overwhelming and we give up. We need to remember that we can't plan for everything. No matter how many times you play out a situation in your head, it will always come out differently in the real world. The important thing is to try. If you make a mistake, "paint" over it and move on. You'll be one step closer to discovering what you really want or who you were meant to be.
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All the best laid plans...for next year's writing

Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I am a serial NaNoWriMo wannabe. Each year, I plunk onto the site as a willing and able writer. Blink and I find myself at the end of November. I've lost my train of...well, maybe I've just missed the train.
I spend time preparing for the monthly excursion and decide what I'm going to write. I find that the ideas are easy to come by, especially since, for me, it is an exercise in getting the words down. A cowboy story that morphs into a romantic children's book about frogs? No problem. To me, the beauty of NaNoWriMo is its function of writing that is important. Just like setting aside time for daily writing is important.
So, how many of you do just that? Every day, without fail?
Unfortunately, I find that I might make every other day...sometimes every third day. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm often writing, but I'm writing the stuff that comes in between the fiction. Sometimes I'm writing and I take a sideways glance at a book on the shelf and I'm re-reading a passage to help me through a writing dilemma. I count that towards my writing muscle, but not toward my fiction muscle. And none of it shows on the NaNoWriMo counter.
I like setting a goal and following through with thousands of like-minded strangers. But this November, with all the best intentions, my NaNoWriMo experience quickly derailed when a family member died. The funeral took place the first of November and it took a few more days to get back into regular life afterwards. Writing assignments piled up and, once again, I've spent a days getting ready for NaNoWriMo...2010.
I plan to be on the train with a first-class ticket and no derailments. In fact, I'm going to start practicing today and keep it up as long as I can and training so I can remove the wannabe title from above.
In the meantime, I'll stand here from the sidelines: Go NaNoWriMo writers! Make it to the finish line and I'll see you at the starting line next year.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. Besides contributing to AOL's ParentDish, she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places. She is also kicking off the New Year's Resolution season early, to shake out all the ones that don't fit for next year.
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Remembering Rejections

Monday, November 23, 2009

On The Muffin, we've posted about rejections before. As a writer, you've probably heard all the standard rejection advice: personal rejections are good, a rejection is at least a response, and everybody gets rejected.

That's what I want to focus on today--during Thanksgiving week--

Everybody gets rejected!

I received an e-mail over the weekend, reminding me of this fact, and I thought it would be great to share it with my fellow women writers as a reminder not to give up, not to see one rejection as the end of your career. Look at this list:

Dune by Frank Herbert – 13 rejections

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – 14 rejections

Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis – 17 rejections

Jonathan Livingston Seagull – 18 rejections

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – 29 rejections

Carrie by Stephen King – over 30 rejections

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 38 rejections

A Time to Kill by John Grisham – 45 rejections

Louis L’Amour, author of over 100 western novels – over 300 rejections before publishing his first book

John Creasy, author of 564 mystery novels – 743 rejections before publishing his first book

Ray Bradbury, author of over 100 science fiction novels and stories – around 800 rejections before selling his first story

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – rejected so universally the author decided to self-publish the book

So, when you open your mailbox and see the thin envelope OR open the e-mail and see, "Thank you for your submission but. . .", remember this list, don't give up hope, and be thankful that you can go back to the drawing board.

Happy Writing!
Margo Dill
Read These Books and Use Them

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NaNoWriMo vs. NaBloPoMo

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November is a crazy month where writers across the globe get a stranglehold of their muse and push their writing abilities to the limit!

Which is harder: NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) participants strive to write 50,000 fictional words in one month, and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) participants strive to post on their blog every day for one month. I did some quick math and, considering a blog post is roughly 500 words in length, the word count for NaBloers would be 15,000 words in one month.

50,000 words vs. 15,000 words

A quick look at the word count and you'd assume that NaNoers have a tougher mountain to climb. One thing we need to remember is all the words are hidden from the public. You can write a terrible first draft and still win NaNo.

NaBloers, on the other hand, have less words to pen but their thoughts must be complete. Every day is a new post with a fully fleshed out idea (hopefully) that is visible to the public. You can't hide behind a veil of secrecy. The NaBloPoMo site checks to see if you actually posted every day before they award prizes. Skip a day and you're out of the game.

You can skip a day or two with NaNo, but it's not the days that matter, it's the overall word count at the end of the month. But in order to win, you do have to verify you wrote 50,000 words by uploading your draft to the site between November 25th - 30th. They also have word count widgets and a word-count box on the site to keep track of your progress and hold you accountable. I don't know if they award any prizes or not, but the real reward is knowing you completed a novel in one month.

Quality vs. Quantity

Both sites are all about quantity. There are no editors with red pens looming over your shoulder as you type. You can write a crappy first draft or you can write crappy blog posts. It's up to you.

The NaBloPoMo site even says that they ignore the quality of your posts and reward the quantity. You can enter their blogroll and get assigned a number in order to win a prize, and if you write drivel you can still win. But who wants terrible blog posts that stay online forever?

The same thing goes with the NaNoWriMo site. They say all you have to do is write more than one word repeated 50,000 times. But who wants to cheat themselves out of a real novel writing experience?

My Take

Personally, I'd rather participate in NaNoWriMo. I've done my own NaNo, but not during the month of November, and found it truly rewarding. When writing a novel, it's necessary to shut yourself out from the real world and delve into a fictional one full of your own characters, setting, and plot. Thinking about writing a blog post every day for a month makes my head hurt! It's hard to come up with a new topic daily that you have to edit, polish, and send out to the world. Either way, it's not an easy task for participants in either NaNo or NaBlo. I applaud all of you for taking the challenge this month and stepping up to the blank page. You are all winners for putting yourself out there and trying.

Now, I want to know:

If you're participating in NaNoWriMo, how is your word count coming? Are you happy with the way your novel is turning out?

If you're participating in NaBloPoMo, how are you coming up with new ideas every day? Do you find the quality of your blog posts suffering?

And to those rare birds that are doing or combining both: what are you thinking? LOL.
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List of Universal Themes in Memoir Writing

Saturday, November 21, 2009
Do you need a universal theme for your memoir? 
In Annette Fix' article on WOW, Memoir Writing: Drawing From Your Life to Create Your Story, she says, "You need to decide who your target audience is and what message you want to leave them with when they reach the end of the book. If you find that you have no 'point' to your story, it may be best to consider binding some copies for family members as a legacy or as an addition to your family's genealogy collection. If your intent is to see your memoir in the trade marketplace, you need to have a universal theme to which your readers can relate."  
Here is a list of universal themes you can incorporate in your memoir: (in alphabetical order) 
Adjusting to a New Life
Appreciation of Nature
Being Gifted
Caring for the Environment
Coming of Age
Coping with Loss
Courage and Honor
Cultural Diversity
Customs and Traditions
Dealing with Handicaps
Death and Dying
Effects of War
Ethical Dilemmas
Gender Issues
Good vs. Evil
Growing Up
Intergenerational Relationships
Living in Today's Society
Making Choices
Morals & Values
Peer Pressure
Sense of Community
Sense of Self
Separation and Loss
Social Change
Taking a Stand
By incorporating one or more of these themes into your memoir you'll gain a universal connection to your reader.
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Friday Speak Out: I Wish I Were A Packrat, Guest Post by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

Friday, November 20, 2009
I Wish I Were A Packrat

by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

I lost six years of my life. Okay, I’m being a tad dramatic. I lost six years’ worth of word processor documents. They’re gone. They left for the great recycling bin icon in the sky and some jerk emptied it. I’m the jerk.

A few years ago, I decided the old college laptop had to go. It had been wacky since my roommate borrowed it for a night of feverish essay typing and spilled a mug of coffee on it. The keys sank down like molasses when you pressed them and came up 1. . . 2 . . .3 seconds later with a loud click. The down arrow key would possess the cursor, sending it on a race down the monitor, which no control-alt-delete combination could halt.

My new laptop came, with its shiny casing and fancy Windows XP. I installed the software, then made a cup coaster out of the AOL trial CD-ROM.

“Honey,” I asked my fiance when I finished, “we already backed up my files to the server, right?”

“Yep, they’re under Becca’s documents,” he assured me. “You click on the icon for My Network and—”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” I cut him off. I may not be a computer genius, but I thought I knew that much.

Stop! Check the files! The alarm bells go off in my head now, but they didn’t then.

A few months after that fateful day, I clicked through row after row of pixilated manila folders, hoping, in between my wedding guest list and hotel reservations, to catch a glimpse of Mr. Palen’s tan jacket as he held my hand while walking me the school office when I was 10. He was my teacher when my father died and I had written about him in a piece that I wanted to revise.

I still haven’t found him. Nor have I find my friend Ruth. I did a character sketch based on her once. When someone pissed her off, she would catch my eye and trace a checkmark in the air with her pointer finger. Then, she’d mime killing him or her, perhaps by pulling back a crossbow wire and releasing it. My personal favorite was her duck, roll, and rifle shoot. Her blonde ponytail would bounce with each trigger pull.

It’s most painful to accept the loss of my college papers. How many sleepless nights’ work are now gone? I’d tangled with Twain’s inner demons, battled the titan of Homeric verse, and analyzed depictions of African American manhood from slavery to OJ. Yes, I still have my degree, but none of the work that earned it.

In my dreams, I catch a glimpse of that lost folder of Word documents, just beyond my Excel spreadsheets and resume versions. It beckons me to double-click it, like a ghostly guide pointing toward a cave of treasure. If I just keep my eyes closed long enough . . .

Rebecca Gomez Farrell, a Californian with a bad case of wanderlust, migrated to the East Coast after college, thinking to improve her writing by gaining more life experiences. She presently writes, edits, and blogs from Durham, NC. Under the pseudonym, The Gourmez, she writes reviews of restaurants, cocktails, and wines as well as a weekly column on her lifelong obsession, General Hospital. She also writes modern short fiction, creative nonfiction, and is working on a fantasy novel.

You can view Becca’s work at http://blog.thegourmez.com/, http://eyeonsoaps.net/, and http://carpedurham.com/.


Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

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Fonts and Writing Style

Thursday, November 19, 2009
by LuAnn Schindler

When you're composing on your computer, do you tend to select one font more than another? Sure, Times New Roman is common in the publishing world, but do you long to use other fonts that express your personality?

At times, I do. And some times, I compose in those fonts because it makes sense in my mind. It adds an edge to my writing, especially when writing fiction. It's a visual cue that allows me to see how a character sounds. It's a personality trait that formulates a picture and maps the story arc.

Does a certain font describe your personality? I took a ten-question quiz on the Independent Lens webpage that discusses the history of print.

According to the quiz, I'm Edwardian Script. I believe that's fairly accurate: I'm a true romantic at heart; nothing gets my juices flowing more than flowery, flutterly love.

What font are you? Does it describe your personality?

Follow LuAnn on Twitter @luannschindler .
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One for the road...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sometimes, we reach a fork in the road. Rather than deliberate and fret, sometimes, we just choose one road and hope it meanders back to a medium course or path later. If it doesn't, we know that we still made the right choice and that we gained from the journey.

I started interning with Women on Writing/WOW through an online program over a year ago. I had found out about the program through past participation in a flash fiction contest that I tried like a lot of things -- on a whim. I never considered myself a writer, and I'll admit, I only started entering contests and looking for writing opportunities when the job search (that still isn't fully over) hit a dry spell, and I needed something both as a reprieve and as a way to grow.

Through my time in this community, I have learned of freelance opportunities which helped out some, and also found more contests and areas to pursue. That said, however, the stuff I really learned and really gained goes beyond that.

First, I learned what amazing dedication those long-time WOWers have (from Annette and Angela of course, but even to all of those in charge of the blog tours and blogger schedules to those who handle the contest judging, all the way to those who write for and read this blog with regularity) and how much we all benefit from their tenacity. I learn from your successes and stresses, from your genres and fields of expertise.

From some of you, I learn from your wit and from your tech-savvy too. The things learned from this internship include all the cool features in Gmail, from how to use Google Docs, the calendar, and well, how to blog in this particular platform. These lessons I have shared with friends, classmates, and the occasional college student during tutoring sessions, depending on needs, wants, desires, and extent of collaboration. With regards to wit, I have found many days improved with a quick read of the latest blog post, cross-referenced hyperlink, or from a group email on the listserv.

More than anything, however, I learned from all of you what a true sense of community is over the Internet. I am in Pennsylvania/United States; where are you? The number of times I received instantaneous responses from West Coast WOW staffers, despite the geographic and time zone differences, made me chuckle. It likewise fostered a feeling that no matter what silly question I would have, I could find an answer with a quick email, a glance through the blog's archives, or by LinkedIn messaging another of the cohort. From the listserv messages, I feel a sense of us all being in a room, egging each other on, empathizing, or commiserating.

In retrospect, I think part of the reason I never considered myself a writer or that writing was something I would like to pursue stems from the fact that the job is a solitary pursuit, as someone famous probably said (as it looks like something I read somewhere, at some point). While I can be a solitary type of person, I went into anthropology for a reason. I like observing people and their interactions with the environment. As one of my bosses quipped the other day, I'm too human to go into some fields.

Through the course of the past year, I've realized writing does not have to be done while isolated from others and without a support system. The founders/creators of Women On Writing probably saw into that years before, but yeah well, I am a slow learner and it took that participant observation (using that loosely defined of course) to realize I could write and consider myself a writer. In this regard, I had all of you whether directly or indirectly inspiring and encouraging me onward. It took me a long time of reflecting to see how much I have grown and how truly much I have loved my time with WOW, even if I was only an online intern.

That said, it probably comes as little surprise to those still reading this tome of a post, I've come to a fork in the road. While I'm still working part-time, I'm finding more success with my writing and other endeavors and feel I need a little more time to ride the next wave so to speak and tie it back to my first loves - anthropology and teaching.

I no longer feel like I'm barely treading above water and I have you all to thank for that. I found how writing fills the void I feel in my slow transition to a professional life and how writing can in fact enhance my career options down the road. In the past year, I've sent a book review to press, written and had accepted two articles for a professional newsletter, entered and lost some contests (even entered the Washington Post pundit one too), and found myself jumping on freelance opportunities at a rate I never would have if others had not given me the idea to and even more so, the resources to do so.

I can only hope two things: that some how, some way, I was of a similar resource to you all (or that I could be in the future) and that even though it feels like a fork in the road that our paths (as I think it was Marcia put it) do pass again in the future. Maybe with some time away from Women on Writing intern duties, I'll get out of a dry spell when it comes to blog posts and too, will have the time to commit and dedicate myself to them fully and then maybe you all could let me back online once in a while. At the very least, this is not a definitive fork - after all, I can still lurk on the website, the blog, and the Twitter accounts, reading and gleaning gems. In short, I can still keep my eyes on all of you and cheer you on.

For me, the decision was not a true decision. I felt the time just was right to say my farewells and try walking down a path in part created by all the open doors from my time here with you all. I want others to have the experiences and chances to grow, to change, to evolve and find their inner voices, and too want to see what I can come up with. This is one of the first true gut feelings I have acted on in a while, which means it has to be the right thing to do. All I felt I had to do was to leave you all a note, one more for the road.

Best of luck and thanks from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for me. Your patience, dedication, passion, and drive is what makes this a true community, one I am blessed to have been selected to be part of this stage in life. May we cross paths again -whether it's your article staring me down at the checkout counter on a magazine, your screenplay on my television screen or at my local movie theater or your book sitting there on top of the bestseller list on Amazon. After all, you all deserve to gain the most from your own writing and life journeys too!
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NaNoWriMo Stories: Joy V. Smith

I'm past the halfway point (32,000 words) on my novel that I'm writing for NaNoWriMo, but why does the homestretch look even longer?! Anyway, after passing that point, I decided to go back to the beginning. Yes, I know you're advised to keep writing, but I knew I had to do some cleanup and there was more information I needed to put in--that's not an info dump, is it?!--which would add to my word count so I went through my novel and rewrote parts, added stuff (not much description yet), and cleaned up typos, and then printed the new version. Partway through I ran out of paper and upset the printer, and that really slowed me down, and I was tempted not to try to make my quota, but I didn't like not doing that, despite other projects waiting their turn at the computer. Anyway, I made order out of chaos and added another chapter to make my quota. What next?! Now I've got to clean off my other desk, which is covered with paper.

I got to bed at five last night, but could sleep in. Now I've got piles of notes (written on random pieces of paper) to get on top of , research (what are American navy and British navy ranks?). Better check my air force ranks; I don't care so much about the militia ranks, but where the heck did my rank printout go? And then I have to work on the story... Someone suggested flashbacks and then a nostalgic look back. Someone else warned me about flashbacks because you lose immediacy. I know what she means by that! I've seen it in TV shows and movies. So, now I'll work on other chores and forget my novel. Wait, I have to do something with those notes before I'm buried in paper! Actually, I have a notebook I'm adding notes about characters, places, and names, timeline, etc. to. And last night (sigh), I put page numbers on the pages so I can start cross referencing... This is certainly a challenge; and, btw, this is the longest story I've ever written. Previously I wrote sequels and then sometimes stuck the stories together.

I've been writing stories since I was a kid. My stories and articles have been published in print magazines, webzines, and anthologies; and my SF has been published in two audiobooks, including Sugar Time. Recent books include Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook; a children's book, Why Won't Anyone Play with Me?; and my story collection, Aliens, Animals, and Adventure. I live in Florida on a registered backyard wildlife habitat with Xena the Warrior Puppy and Bryn the Flying Corgi.

Visit Joy's blog for helpful house hints and publication news.

We'll be posting words of encouragement for NaNoers and sharing stories here on The Muffin. If you'd like to share a story about your experience, please e-mail our blog editor Marcia Peterson at marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com.
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Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest - Got Humor?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ever heard of the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest?

Sponsored by Winning Writers, this contest was inspired by Wergle's creator, poet David Taub, who submitted a nonsensical poem to the former poetry.com under the name Wergle Flomp. To his surprise, it was accepted, and inspired by Mr. Taub’s experience, the Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest was born.

There’s no contest fee and poets from around the world may enter. Poems must be in English, any length, only one poem per entry. Gibberish gladly accepted.

First Prize of $1,500 and publication on WinningWriters.com

Second Prize of $800 and publication on WinningWriters.com

Third Prize of $400 and publication on WinningWriters.com

Twelve honorable mentions will receive $75 each and publication on WinningWriters.com

Complete guidelines, along with examples can be found here: http://www.winningwriters.com/contests/wergle/we_guidelines.php
Deadline: April 1, 2010

So, make ‘em laugh, groan, fall out of their seats, wince---you get the idea. And good luck!

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B. Lynn Goodwin, author of Journaling for Caregivers, Launches her Blog Tour!

Monday, November 16, 2009

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

During the six years she spent caring for her mother, B. Lynn Goodwin found comfort in the journaling she did. She eventually began teaching journaling workshops and writing a book to guide other caregivers through journaling.

Lynn is also a teacher, editor, and writer. Her work has been published in Hip Mama; the Oakland Tribune; the Contra Costa Times; the Danville Weekly; Staying Sane When You're Dieting; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Career, Caregiving, and Self-Care NCDA Monograph; 24/7--a caregiving anthology; We Care; Families of Loved Ones Magazine (forthcoming); Kaleidoscope (forthcoming), and numerous e-zines and blogs.

Find out more about B. Lynn Goodwin by visiting her websites:
Book Website: http://www.writeradvice.com/ywmtdw.html
Writer Advice: http://www.writeradvice.com/

You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Care Givers

By B. Lynn Goodwin

You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers offers encouragement, instructions, and over 200 sentence prompts to help anyone start putting their thoughts on paper.

It is for current, former, and long distance caregivers. These are the people who take care of spouses, parents, children, special needs children, and themselves. It is also for professional caregivers including nurses, social workers, teachers, and anyone in the helping professions.

Published by Tate Publishing
Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN: 1606962973

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Lynn's book, You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end. We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Jodi Webb

Your book,
You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers, is a book encouraging caregivers (everyone really) to journal. Can you tell us when you first started journaling?

I have been a sporadic journaler since I got my first five-year diary when I was in third grade. I have a journal from college, but stopped journaling once I began teaching English and directing high school and college theatre. Now, of course, I wish I had recorded what we did and how I felt about it. I slid back into journaling in 1997. I was turning Haven's List into a newsletter that would become Writer Advice, tutoring, teaching A is for Acting, and had begun caregiving. I'm glad I have my journals from that time.

WOW: How did you discover that journaling was helping you when you were caring for your mother? Did it make you a better caregiver?

I loved my mother but sometimes her needs seemed unreasonable. Sometimes I resented her refusal to accept outside help. I had a love/hate relationship with her line, "My Person will take care of that." I was Person and she was Missus. These private nicknames helped us remember that we loved each other, even though we sometimes grated on each other's nerves.

Sometimes it angered me that she preferred Lean Cuisine to my cooking, that she wouldn't let me put away the groceries without wiping off every single package, that she made me sit in her house and watch her struggle because she said, "I have to do some things for myself." Journaling helped me get past my anger and fear that drove it. It helped me analyze, process, explore, evaluate, and strategize. It allowed me to take my stress out on my journal instead of my mother, so absolutely it made me a better caregiver.

WOW: Not all of us are caring for an elderly parent. Can your book help those readers who aren't caregivers? Or are we all caregivers?

Lynn: Let me answer the last question first. All human beings are caregivers for someone. You might care for a spouse, parent, child, special needs child, or yourself--especially in the current economic climate. If you are a nurse, teacher, social worker, EMT, physical therapist, psychologist, or Hospice Volunteer, you are a professional caregiver.

Have you ever blown off steam at someone who did not deserve it? Have you ever wished someone would listen to you without interrupting? Have you ever needed a non-judgmental sympathetic ear? Who hasn't?

I can't promise that you'll never get angry or irrational if you journal. I can promise that you'll have a safe place to look beyond your immediate reactions. Journals are a place to record your history. Whether you make lists, write letters, write poems, blurt, or tell your story in traditional prose, your journal is the perfect vessel to receive your story.

WOW: Journaling (or lack of) is my guilty secret. As a writer, everyone tells me I should have a journal. I've started and abandoned more journals than I can count. So, tell me your secrets. How do you find the time to journal?

Lynn: Julia Cameron (www.theartistsway.com) says that you should start your day with Morning Pages. I say it's always morning somewhere. Write whenever you want. I have been known to journal in my car, in front of the TV, and in the bathroom. I also journal in coffee shops, shopping malls, and occasionally at my father's old desk.

Do it anywhere, anytime. Try to write for 10 minutes if you are starting out. If your journaling runs on endlessly, try setting a timer.

There are no rules unless you make some up. Start over any time, day or night. Your stories are eager to come out, and as you release them you will find a wave of material rushing in to fill the space. Who but you can tell your story?

WOW: Are lives are so full of...well, everything and anything. Why do you make journaling a priority?

Lynn: I always feel better after I journal. I feel cleansed. I feel my creative channels opening up. I usually stop spinning my wheels and start moving forward. Since 1997, I have journaled pretty steadily. It keeps me sane. It opens ideas. Since I know it works and I get immediate satisfaction from doing it, why wouldn't I make it a priority?

WOW: You make a great case for journaling. I may have to pull out one of those half-filled journals of mine! But before I do, what about blogs? Are they this generation's journals?

Lynn: Many blogs are the equivalent of interactive journals. Instead of having my own blog, I've spent the last year responding to other people's blogs. That way, I'm putting my voice out to a wider audience and still identifying myself with my signature line.

When I reread old journals, I get to see how I've grown and how my concerns have changed. I get to see what issues I have let go of and what subjects continue to be obsessions. I wouldn't have that with a blog. I wouldn't have a record. If my journals survive me, if they wind up in a Thrift Station or garage sale or in a great niece's backpack, they could ultimately become one woman's view of life in the decades before and after the turn of the millennium. That's less likely to happen with a blog.

WOW: Tell us about your other writing experiences.

Lynn: I've been the owner of Writer Advice, and its predecessor, Haven's List, since 1997. I've had lots of experience with author interviews, book and website reviews, and other non-fiction found on the site. I've developed Writer Advice's Annual Flash Prose Contest. I've written numerous articles, stories, and personal essays and have been published in magazines, newspapers, e-zines, and blogs. I've also put in some time creating a young adult novel, which is on the back burner at the moment.

WOW: Did journaling help your other writing?

Lynn: Absolutely. My writing has gotten more specific and more sophisticated over the years. As I retell stories or reply facts, I hone in on what I really want to say. Journaling has also helped me clarify what I do and don't want to write about and provided the raw writing out of which many published pieces have grown.

WOW: You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers isn't a traditional book in many senses. First, it isn't a "read these words" book, it's more of a workbook with writing prompts and advice. When did you decide to write this book?

Lynn: About 36 hours after a friend told me she was going to write a book of prompts for writers, I heard a voice, right outside my head, that said, "Journaling for Caregivers." Those three words articulated a cloudy idea that had been swimming in my head for some time. I realized that everybody could benefit from journaling, but most caregivers didn't know they could write. They didn't realize that everyone who writes is a writer. I made it my mission to introduce caregivers to the idea. I knew how to encourage writers and I had been writing sentence starts for my free writing group in Berkeley and before that for my high school students. Once I got this idea, the book started falling into place. Once I began marketing it, I realized that everyone is a caregiver for someone.

WOW: What portion of the book is taken up with writing prompts?

Lynn: Four of the nine chapters are filled with sentence starts. There are over 50 in each chapter. People should have choices. What appeals on one day might not on another. What speaks to one caregiver, parent, teacher, nurse, or professional might not to another. In my workshops I sometimes ask people to pick a sentence start that we all could write from. Giving them that choice empowers them.

WOW: Tell us about your road to publication.

Lynn: I found two agents who were very interested. One had moved from her New York agency to be closer to her ailing mother and was telecommuting. The other had a sister who was caring for aging parents in Florida. They knew what caregivers went through. They recognized this as a niche book that met a need, just as Sharon Bray, the author of When Words Heal: Writing Your Way Through Cancer did when she said, "As someone steeped in the therapeutic value of writing during pain and loss, I think B. Lynn Goodwin's book meets a need that has yet to be addressed."

Both of the agents' bosses said, "We have no way to market to caregivers." The agents validated that I had a book that would meet a need. They also made me realize that I would have to find a less traditional method to get it on the market. I began looking for smaller publishers and found one that believed the book was marketable. The concept came to me in 2006 and the book was published by the end of 2008.

WOW: As we can see from the reactions of those first two publishers, your book is not the traditional type someone walks into a bookstore and picks up on a whim--it's written for a very specific audience with a very specific need. Have you done many traditional bookstore signings and appearances or have you been thinking outside the box?

Lynn: It's safe to say that I think out of the box. Sometimes I'm so far outside the box that I am not sure whether to cal this a book or a service project. It depends, perhaps, on who I am sharing it with. I'm impressed by how much more outreach I have been able to do than I ever imagined. Nurses come up to me at bookstore signings. Even if they don't buy a book, they take a card for the office.

I've shared the book with all kinds of caregivers, volunteers, and organizations. I offer e-mail workshops called Journaling: Gateway to Self Discovery that give people a chance to try the process without leaving home. Day by day, I continue to reach out as many places as I can.

WOW: How about interviews, etc.--any outside the norm of book pages in newspapers, book review sites?

Lynn: I've done lots of interviews for blogs and special interest groups I've found through LinkedIn. One day I found a bill in my mailbox for the head of a Hospice support organization in Southern California. I have an article that will be coming out in their next newsletter. It will go all over the state. I took an ad in a publication that was given out at the AARP Convention in Las Vegas this October.

I've done radio interviews for all kinds of shows. I've made presentations in libraries. I've teamed up with someone helping teens and people marketing to seniors and I've developed an extra niche that I love, working with writers who want to find a way through writer's block and into the uniqueness of their own voice. I am putting together a continuing education class for nurses that will be done through e-mail, and that may lead to CEU classes for social workers and teachers. My existing e-mail workshops make it possible for anyone with a computer to try journaling without ever leaving the house.

WOW: For a book that publishers worried wouldn't be marketable you've found plenty of marketing options! And now the question everyone's dying to know the answer to--what does the "B" stand for?

Lynn: Ahhh--B stands for my first name, which is also my mother's first name. My mother didn't need a caregiver. She was fine to live alone as long as I was there every day to take out her garbage, get her mail, bring her her groceries, transport her... She was protecting her independence, and I wanted to help her do it. You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers is dedicated to my mother, but I do not mention her name. I do that to honor her because she was a private person. Writing as B. Lynn Goodwin is one way I can include her in this project while keeping her identity anonymous.

WOW: She sounds like a very determined woman. Hearing about her reminds me of my grandmother. For many years, she had the same type of independent living arrangement with the help of my mother and aunts. So, in between interviews and workshops for Journaling for Caregivers what are you up to with your writing?

Lynn: I continue to interview authors, write reviews, facilitate the Writer Advice Flash Prose Contest, and run the e-zine, which you can read right now at www.writeradvice.com. In fact, I'm putting out a call for submissions of 50-500 words on the subject of dreams. I'll pick the best pieces and run them in the winter issue. E-mail me at Lgood67334[at]comcast[dot]net if you would like details.

I am also at work on a couple of other projects that are still in the formative stages. I enjoy carving my own path in the writing world.


Want to join Lynn 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!

November 16, 2009 Monday
Lynn will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Lynn's book!

November 18, 2009 Wednesday
Lynn Goodwin, author of You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers, stops by Spirituality and Self Help to share how journaling can save your sanity and save your life! Not to miss.

November 19, 2009 Thursday
Don't miss B. Lynn Goodwin's post about how journaling can help you become a better mom and a better you! Don't forget to enter to win her book, You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers.

November 20, 2009 Friday
B. Lynn Goodwin stops by The Mental Fitness Center to share how journaling helped her as she cared for a family member with Alzheimer's.

November 23, 2009 Monday
Today B. Lynn Goodwin stops by Midlife With a Vengeance to tell us that balancing acts aren't just for the circus! Chime in and tell us how you manage to balance your needs with those of the person you're caring for. You also have a chance to win her book, You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers.

December 2, 2009 Wednesday
B. Lynn Goodwin stops by Jan Lundy's blog, Awakened Living, to share how she manages to take care of herself while caring for others, and why we all need to take time out for ourselves. Don't forget to enter to win her book, You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers.

December 7, 2009 Monday
Today, author and journal keeper B. Lynn Goodwin stops by Whole Latte Life to tell us how journaling can help you explore your life's passion--no matter what it may be.

December 11, 2009 Friday
B. Lynn Goodwin stops by The Feisty Side of Fifty to write about being a caregiver for that person we so often overlook--ourselves.

December 15, 2009 Tuesday
Today, Nessa and Lynn chat about why journaling can be so helpful for caregivers at Ramblings of a Texas Housewife.

We have more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

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 fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to host one of our touring authors, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

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

Be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Lynn's book You Want Me To Do What? Journaling for Caregivers. And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!
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Stolen Moment

Sunday, November 15, 2009
We, as writers, know how difficult it can be to find times to write. With our busy life styles there never seems to be enough time to actually sit and write.

For many of us it is a matter of organizing our writing time around the lives of our families but that can even be difficult to do when you are a parent or when you are at work etc.

As many of you know, the best thing to do is setting time aside specifically for your writing. Which, of course, means early in the morning when the kids are sleeping or late at night after you have attempted to put them to bed about 12 times (okay 13 whose counting). Or how about before you go to work or after you get home? But by the time you have made dinner, cleaned the dishes, and all the other fun chores, you are almost to tired to even sit to begin.

What a lot of us don't realize is the amount of stolen time you actually have that is sitting around waiting to be used to your advantage. Although many of us now prefer to have a computer right in front of us to take care of our tasks, it isn't always necessary to have, a pad of paper and pen or pencil work great as well.

Here are some great times to steal for writing. You will be glad that you did.

1) Sitting in the doctors office- As you know your appointment is never at the right time, no matter how early or late you arrive, in many cases you have upwards of 45 minutes to sit and write. If you can carry a laptop with you, by all means do so, or have pen and paper handy. This is a great time to create a new character, get initial thoughts down for a new article or story or how about using some of your writing practices to get you warmed up for the next stolen moment of time.

2) Car repairs- Most of the customer service waiting areas now have Wi-Fi available, get some of that much needed research taken care of; you will be happy that you did. Not only that, don't forget the free coffee, this will keep your internal engine revved and ready to go.

3) Kids' practice time- Although we all like to socialize with other team parents, it is also a good way to get some writing done and maybe find some new story ideas. All the gossip can be a big help. SHHH... don't tell them what you are up to, do it covertly. There have been a number of occasions I have sat with my laptop sitting on my lap at the soccer field and had other moms wondering what I was up to.

4) Waiting at schools to pick up the kids- Oh, yes, you know how it is sitting in the long lines waiting to pick up the little ones from schools these days. There are times when you can sit in one place for 20 minutes or more. Grab that pen and paper and get to writing, this is your chance to jot down a few ideas before the kids jump in the car.

5) At the movies- We all know that we want to get the best seats in the house for the latest movie, but when you arrive 20 minutes before hand, you never know what to do, well, make sure you have a notebook with you, you can jot down more ideas while waiting for the movie to start. You can even do some while the previews are going. Sit in the very back for the best view, up top, no one will kick you in the back or put their feet up near your face.

6) Lunch break at work- Okay, it is time to get away from the office or not. Take advantage eat and write. That way you don't miss out on that precious time to do so. You have tons of ideas get them out and on paper, or if your boss doesn't mind, on your computer or a flash drive.

7) Bathroom break- Okay yes, go ahead and laugh, but there are times when we are "unavoidably detained" for a long period of time, use it to your advantage, keep paper and pen handy in your bathroom and jot down ideas or do a writing exercise. It is amazing how much writing you can get accomplished behind the locked door of your bathroom.

Think about all the stolen moments you may have just lying around and take advantage, you will be happy you did!

Happy Writing!
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Reading aloud uncovers all sorts of treasures and pleasures

Saturday, November 14, 2009
Perhaps it is the cooler, rainy weather fall has brought along, but lately I'm spending a lot more time cuddling and reading to my kids. The children's books I'm opening up are inspiring me...I love to hear the cadence of the authors' voices and see the brilliant colors and luscious brush strokes of the innovative artists.
In between cuddles and giggles, I ready my ear to focus on word choices and the authors' selections and pacing. Definitely it is a great exercise as a writer (and, as a mother, a wonderful experience).
My kids are old enough to pick their own books, but young enough to be able to enjoy our time reading together. Like hearing a new song, letting my kids' interests guide me has opened up new arenas for me and helped challenge my own writing. Seeing what books attract them, other than some action-packed comic books attractive to the almost-a-reader, the books have been fun, colorful and lively. It's been fantastic to discover or--in some cases--rediscover some children's books.
A few weeks back, when we bought boxes of books from our local library book sale, I selected a few that might be "reading-list books" in the future. However, my ulterior motive is that I might get a chance to read them. There are those I have never read, such as "Johnny Tremain" and those I remember enjoying (although the plot may be hazy to my 40-something mind), such as "Island of the Blue Dolphins."
On the flip side, I've been trying to interest my oldest in some classic Beverly Cleary. When I finally coaxed her to give "Ribsy" a try, she refused to put it down and, in short time, devoured it from cover to cover.
While she has been encouraging me with her titles, I have to pace our exchanges. As soon as she finished "Ribsy," I found other Cleary books at the library, but (so far) she has refused these. So I am reading them.
I'm now devouring "Dear Mr. Henshaw" when I should finishing an article for one of my clients, not to mention spending time with my own writing...and listening to my own cadence. But this reading has become a "guilty" pleasure I'm not willing to give up--whether reading aloud or devouring silently.

What's a recent reading "guilty" pleasure you've been experiencing lately? Or one you wish you could take time for?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. Besides contributing to AOL's ParentDish, she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places. Today might be another good day to visit the library, don't you think?
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Writers' Conference Anxiety

Friday, November 13, 2009
This weekend, I am going to a one-day SCBWI-IL workshop in Chicago called Prairie Writers' Day. Is it a good idea to travel to a writing conference on Friday the 13th? Let's hope so! But even it if was a different date with no superstitions, I would still have "writers' conference anxiety!"

I shouldn't have this problem--I've planned and taken part in writers' conferences before. I even wrote an article for WOW! about how to be prepared for a writing conference and get the most bang out of your buck. But I still seem to suffer from anxiety before every writers' conference.

Here's why I think this happens to me: 1. I'm too busy to properly prepare myself for the conference. So, I don't know the speakers, schedule, or venue as well as I should. 2. And this is the biggie. . .I worry about what I will do if I meet an editor/agent in the bathroom or at lunch or in the hallway. It's almost like meeting a celebrity, especially since this person, if she likes your work, has the potential to change your life.

So, while I am sitting in the workshops and lectures, dutifully taking notes, I am trying to come up with some sort of brilliant thing to say to this person, so that I do not sound desperate or pushy or weird. But I want to be confident and funny and leave an impression. Believe me, all the worry, anxiety, and half-eaten lunches have still not created a witty opening line. Usually, I say something like: "I really enjoyed your talk."

And she says, "Thanks."

That's it--that's it. Then another person at the lunch table will say something about one of their clients or the latest award-winning book or even the editor's favorite TV show, and the editor will eventually ask the writer, "So, what do you write?" If that could only be me. . .

When I follow with my query letter after the conference, I will write something personal about the talk or the lunch table (even though I'm sure I made no impression). Hopefully, my work can stand alone as it should!

So, I am telling myself this time, I am going to this conference, leaving on Friday the 13th of all days, with a new attitude. I am going to have fun with my writing critique group members, celebrate and talk about writing, and soak up as much information and inspiration as I can. If I meet a speaker in the hallway or in the bathroom, I am not going to worry about being witty or wise or standing out in the crowd. (I am also NOT going to picture the person in his or her underwear as is the common advice for people who suffer from anxiety when giving speeches.) I am just going to say the first thing that comes out of my mouth--just like I would say to anyone I meet while waiting in one of the longest bathroom lines ever when you are at a children's writers' conference. (For those of you who don't know--at least 95% women, at least.)

I really, really am.
(I'll let you know how it goes.)

Happy Writing!
Margo Dill
"Read These Books and Use Them"

photo by rhcrayon www.flickr.com
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SEO Blog Talk: What's a NoFollow Link?

Thursday, November 12, 2009
If you have a blog and link to other sites (that don't link to yours back), you are giving your PR (Page Rank) away.

Why should you care? Page rank measures your site's popularity. It applies to each individual page and post on your blog. The higher the number you have (0-10) the higher up your blog posts will appear on search engines.

There's nothing necessarily wrong with giving your PR away; it's just what happens when you link to a site that doesn't link to yours. I'm all about mutual links--they're like a warm and fuzzy cyberhug and can help you exchange traffic with relevant sister sites. But if you have a blog with a high page rank and want to keep it that way, you might consider adding a no follow tag.

How to add a no follow tag:

Instead of linking to a site in compose mode, click on the "edit html" tag (for Blogger), or find the section in your blog where you can edit html.

You'll see regular links displayed this way:

Change to:

When should you use it? Let's say someone else is placing a link on your site--it could be a guest blogger or advertiser--and it's linking to something that may not be relevant or you think is somewhat shifty. That would be a good time to use the NoFollow tag. Additionally, some bloggers and site owners simply use the NoFollow tag to keep and juice up their own site's ranking so it's attractive to potential relevant advertisers.

Personally, I haven't used it much on the WOW! site or blog. I try to link to relevant sites of interest to our readers and, truthfully, I really don't remember to use it often! But now that I'm writing about it, it's something worth considering.
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You Want Blog Idea Topics? WOW Gives You Blog Idea Topics!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Do you ever sit down at the keyboard ready to post something on your blog and draw a blank? I can't count how many times I've done that myself these days. In fact, things are so slow around here (including brain-wise) that the only things I have to blog about are sick kids, having no time to plow through my gynormous "To-Do" lists and how to function on two hours of sleep every night. Not exactly topics that will draw in crowds of people.

Last year one of our fantabulous former WOW ladies posted her list of 99 topics that writers can post about on their blogs. I thought it would be time to re-post this list because some of the topics are ingenious! (Personally, I've saved this list in my files. ;o) )

Have a great writing day and feel free to add your own ideas to the list!


1. The journey of a woman writer
2. Balancing family/work/writing
3. Write about your latest writing project
4. How the change of seasons harm or help writing
5. The impact of specific blogs
6. How to feed a woman writer’s muse
7. The best place to find a new blog topic
8. Eavesdropping on public dialogue
9. How exercise boosts energy for writing
10. The funny side to writing with kids
11. The funny side to writing with pets/husbands
12. Compliment another writer’s work
13. Use a quote and apply it to writing
14. How to ramp up a short story
15. How to cut out useless words in flash fiction
16. Review a writing course or publication
17. Call for help with a writing piece
18. Whet readers’ appetites for a new book
19. Promote your or another writers’ works
20. Give expert advice for boosting the ego
21. Pay something forward to a writer friend
22. Offer another writer a huge compliment
23. Announce another “Going Green” biz
24. Announce online writers conference
25. Post a writer’s contest
26. Discuss your favorite genre/s
27. Post a mini-memoir for publicity
28. Practice creating neologisms
29. Rant about writing stress
30. Highlight a literary magazine
31. Tell us how to get published
32. Expound upon the writer’s dream life
33. Teach the difference between active and passive voice
34. Express your biggest writing wish
35. Give WOW! feedback, suggestions, comments
36. Share a new writer’s resource or gadget
37. Donate a post to someone new to blogging
38. Praise another editor, writer, publisher, agent
39. Share your favorite blog post with a link
40. Write a plea to a presidential candidate
41. Tell a tasteful writer’s joke
42. Men writers are from ____; women writers from ____
43. Provide SEO and marketing tips for writer sites
44. Write a list of 101 potential blog topics
45. Do a humorous study on the best chocolate for writers
46. Navigate the Internet’s best writer sites
47. Highlight self-publishing information
48. Discuss experience with traditional publishers
49. Share experience with online publishers
50. Buzz your successful contest win
51. Toot another writer's horn in a contest
52. Apply an activity to writing
53. Close the gap between young & old writers
54. Interview an author
55. Interview an agent
56. Interview an editor
57. Interview a humor columnist
58. Tell us how to break into humor writing
59. Share a writer's faux pas
60. Talk about the writer's reputation
61. Talk about your goals as a writer/woman/mother/person
62. Give insight into a popular writing topic
63. Share your favorite writer's software
64. Explain how to find a writer's voice
65. Gift a story to a friend
66. Provide a list of fun anagrams
67. Provide a list of fun ambigrams
68. Share the first story you ever wrote
69. Define an exceedingly confusing word
70. Clarify a misunderstood writer
71. Weave a web of mystery
72. Create a scavenger hunt on your site for fans
73. Call for submissions from others
74. Post anonymously to a writer you admire
75. Be yourself and post to a writer you admire
76. List out the writer's web awards others should seek
77. Ask for camaraderie from others to help with a problem
78. Write a haiku poem, limerick, sonnet, or other
79. Write a cheer to keep writers moving forward
80. Provide blog traffic tips to others
81. Share how you sabotage your own writing
82. Shine the spotlight on a writing guru
83. Flash a beam on a cause that needs our help
84. Advise writers what not to do on queries
85. Advise writers how to do a smashing cover letter
86. Share an illustrator's experience
87. Double dog dare a writer to share an embarrassing experience
88. Give examples of awesome query hooks
89. Hook us with a fabulous introduction to blogging
90. Lift writers spirits with a list of quotes
91. Motivate others with a writing challenge
92. Explain creative nonfiction
93. Create a new genre and discuss it
94. Give a list of oxymorons
95. Share onomatopoeia terms
96. Describe how to capture life with sensory details
97. Discuss how to cope with rejection letters
98. Give tips for showing emotion in body language
99. Provide your own blopics (blog topics)
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Interview With Michelle Dwyer - WOW! Spring 2009 Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Michelle Dwyer’s love for writing began in high school. She’d studied creative writing and soon after, longed to become a published author. However circumstances arose, causing her to join the military while pursuing business classes instead.

Despite receiving high accolades for her military service, she felt incomplete. When the opportunity presented itself, she finished her first romantic/crime novel and enrolled in the writing course given by the Long Ridge Writers' Group, all while completing her MBA. When she graduates from Texas A&M this fall, she will pursue her MFA in creative writing.

Through all that she has overcome, Michelle realizes that every experience, good and bad, has led her back to what she is supposed to be doing—creating stories that compel people to think.

Between graduate school and rearing two beautiful kids, this single mother writes articles as a premier writer on the Helium website under the pen name Krymzen Hall. She invites you to read her work at http://www.helium.com/users/421563/show_articles.

If you haven't read Michelle's entry, "Reflection", please check it out here, then come back for our interview with her.

Interview by Jill Earl

WOW: First of all, congratulations to you, Michele, for placing in our Spring ’09 Fiction Contest! How does it feel?

MICHELLE: Unreal, as if something good happened to me that only happens to other people. I was in a hotel room with my children when I checked my email and then discovered I’d placed. I started screaming and dropped my laptop. My kids thought something was wrong! To me, it was as if I’d won the lottery. Then, when I calmed down, and finished calling everybody, I had to check my laptop to make sure it still worked.

WOW: What a great response and we’re glad that your laptop survived your exuberance!

Reflection” was haunting, but also had me thinking. Our reflections see so much, and are probably the closest to us. What were the circumstances that led you to write your piece?

MICHELLE: It was personal. I went through a divorce that left me with emotional scars, and ultimately, I had to look inside myself to find the strength I needed to heal. “Reflection” has elements of physical abuse, as I’m sure you know, which did not happen to me, but the components of the story and the message are the same: No matter how bad an experience, we all have the strength to overcome, if we allow ourselves to. Change is scary, no matter how good or how bad. Moving on to better things is no different than any other change—the future is uncertain. Luckily, through writing and perseverance, I’ve been able to reclaim who I am and realize that change is good.

WOW: Glad that you were able to take such a painful situation and redeem it, so that you could heal. As you’ve alluded, writing can be a great help in this. Hopefully, someone will read this and be inspired to utilize what you’ve learned for themselves through their own writing.

Speaking of which, what kind of writing inspires you?

MICHELLE: Anything. That’s the beauty of fiction. Authors are only limited to their imaginations. I enjoy reading stories that evoke my sensual side, and once I tap into that, then I can write about love, sex, and chance encounters all night. But I can also read an article in the Wall Street Journal, and before I finish, I’ve created a character, perhaps a single father, who realizes he’s been set up by his peers through a phony insider trading scheme, and now he has to find a way out before his custody trial. Stuff like that.

WOW: I’m definitely in agreement with you regarding how fiction can give the imagination a workout, while providing sources of inspiration for future projects.

Let’s talk more about your writing habits. Have you established a writing routine or schedule for yourself?

MICHELLE: Lately, I’ve been so consumed in graduate work that I haven’t been able to devote the amount of time I want to the craft. But I never go to sleep until I’ve either finished at least one story of at least 500 words, or have begun a new story, even if it’s, just a few lines. Writers write, no matter what. If I stop writing, then I’m not a writer anymore. Needless to say I have a pile of stories.

WOW: “Writers write, no matter what.” I need to make sure I have these words before me all the time, especially during those times I'm tempted to pass on writing in my journal. And having those 500 words written before turning in for the night is a good habit to establish, I think. That way, you can be sure you won’t get rusty.

Now, what would you like to have readers take away with them as they read your work?

MICHELLE: As far as the story, it depends on the moral I’m trying to convey to my readers. In general, I believe in second chances and redemption, so I hope that my readers will end up falling in love with the same character they originally started out hating. As far as what I write, I want my readers to understand that I am not afraid of pushing the envelope with some things. And I want them to say, “Wow, that has never been done before.”

WOW: I did see the theme of second chances and redemption while reading “Reflection” and I felt that the transparency and vulnerability displayed was times difficult to approach. I think it was good that you pushed the envelope in creating your piece, because I believe sometimes it’s necessary to go to an uncomfortable place to reveal the story that needs to be told.

Let's switch gears. Your bio mentioned that you’re enrolled in a Long Ridge Writers’ Group course. What are you studying and how did you come to select them?

MICHELLE: I’m taking the Breaking Into Print course. I’d been looking into writing schools and one day, I happened to be reading WOW!’s ezine and I saw the link to Long Ridge. At first, I was apprehensive because the school is selective. I had to take a writing test just see if I was good enough to enroll. That is some scary stuff, let me tell you! For a couple of months, I put off the test. Then I decided to go for it, and luckily, the school accepted me. Now I am almost done. I think enrolling in Long Ridge was one of my smartest decisions and it will help me prepare for my MFA studies.

WOW: Sounds great, congratulations on nearing completion of your studies with Long Ridge.
it's always good for writers to continue improving our craft. Classes, workshops and seminars are fabulous ways to accomplish this!

Do you have a particular genre that you prefer?

MICHELLE: Can I say this on national Internet? I like many, but erotica is one of my favorites. I think some people lump this into the category of pornography, but it is far from that. Well-written erotica is actually some of the most beautiful and thought provoking prose a person can read. I also like a good romance with sprinkles of mystery and hints of action. I’ll write a good fight scene any day. I think what drives me, however, is the lengths that people will go for the people they love. How much can one man take to reconcile with his lady? How far will a woman go to spare her best friend’s feelings? In short, things that threaten our moral codes give me plenty of material to write a compelling story, regardless of what flavor the genre.

WOW: So, it appears that your tastes tend to be multi-genre, which can help in making a writer well-rounded. And I believe your words serve as encouragement for writers who may be interested in erotica.

Moving to your personal life, you’re raising two children as a single mother, completed your first novel, are finishing up your MBA from Texas A&M, and will pursue a MFA in creative writing soon after. Just going through that list wore me out! How do you manage it all?

MICHELLE: Yeah, I’m worn out too! Honestly, I don’t know how I manage. It has taken tremendous sacrifice to get to this point. I think sheer will, organization, and sacrificing sleep allow me to achieve my goals. I can’t do this forever, but I am close to the point where I can take my life in a different direction and start enjoying the fruits of my labor, and I can do more for my kids. I love the business world; however writing will always be my passion. So I am hoping my MFA studies will feel more like fun and less like work. All you MFA’s out there can chime in here and give me some pointers, hint hint.

WOW: (chuckles) Okay, Michelle’s put a call out to the MFA’s! She’s seeking advice on how to make her MFA studies more fun. Can you help a writing sister out?

Also in your bio, you mentioned writing your first book, a romantic/crime novel. More congratulations to you! Can you share with us how your book came to be?

MICHELLE: People say all the time, “Man, I could write a book about such and such.” Then they go on about their lives never again revisiting the thought. But “could” and “will” are two different things. I knew that a lot of feelings and memories caged inside me needed to be expressed, and in 2002, Understanding the Affair was born. I told somebody close to me, “I will write a book.” And there you have it. The story contains some racial controversy and at times gets gritty; but because of personal experiences, I am in a unique position to write about what I understand, can deal with what is not always pleasant, and relish in the fact that there are brighter days ahead of the drama.

The book is NOT a biographical account of my life. But there are elements in the story that have come from my personal experiences, some that will probably end up shocking the people closest to me. Writing is hard work. It entails a lot of late nights and research. But I must say I think I’ve done a pretty good job.

WOW: I'd have to agree! Looks like you’ve pushing the envelope again with such an intriguing novel! Do you have any other projects currently in the works?

MICHELLE: I am working on a few novels. Of course I had to do a sequel to Understanding the Affair, entitled Understanding the Trial, where one of my secondary characters will take on a more leading role. My next project, Girls Turning Into Women, Again, is the brainchild of one of my friends, and is the story of a few ladies who either need to grow up, atone, or reverse the fallout from not following their dreams. It was funny. My friend called me one night VERY excited. She gave me the title and said, “Please do something with it.” So I am honoring her request.

And then, of course, I have to throw in some interracial controversy with Connecticut, my third project. Stay tuned…

WOW: Oh, we will! Can't wait! Before wrapping up, what bit of advice would you offer to our women/aspiring writers?

MICHELLE: Don’t quit. Sometimes it’s the people closest to us that create our biggest obstacles. All we can do is respect their opinions but follow our own dreams. And those rejection letters? Sister, just get some tissue, cry it out, and move on.

And always remember this: It’s okay to think with your head while following your heart. The two are NOT mutually exclusive…risky maybe, but that’s the beauty of life…

WOW: Persevere and follow your dreams. Thanks for the reminder, more wisdom to tuck away for the future!

Michelle, you're such an inspiration to me personally and I'm sure to our readers! It was quite enjoyable talking with you today. Best of luck with your studies and your writing!

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