‘The Ten Things That Must Happen’---in Your Writing

Sunday, February 28, 2010
By Jill Earl

I’ve never been one for outlining. Even back in school, I found it more of an effort to create an outline for a particular assignment than to just write my thoughts and ideas out. I applaud those who find it useful, though.

Then, I came across the latest issue of OnceWritten.com’s Writing Sparks Newsletter, where editor Monica Poling offers up an interesting way to incorporate outlining into your own work.

Titled ‘The Ten Things That Must Happen’, she suggests starting with the ten most important events that should happen in your piece, making your outline as brief or detailed as needed. After that, she lists a number of questions to help you plot out your next steps, like what scenes to use or eliminate or what does your list show about your writing. Once you’ve figured out what to do and what direction to take, you can pick up your pen or get back to tapping on the keyboard again.

Reading through this, I realized that I’d been doing this outline informally with a couple of pieces I’ve worked on for my critique group. Now that I’ve been formally introduced to this particular method, I’ll be using it for sure in the future. The rest of the article's here.

Reached an impasse in your writing? Work through those ‘ten things that must happen’ technique and bust through that block in no time!
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Friday Speak Out!: "Voice," Guest Post by Jodie Gonzalez

Friday, February 26, 2010

by Jodie Gonzalez

I have always been a writer. Letters, diaries, speeches, To Do lists. I love words. And the feel of ink on a clean sheet of paper. But recently, I have become a different kind of writer. A conscious writer. I have begun to study craft, read mountains of books on the subject of writing, taken a class, started a blog.

Through these experiences I have become aware of voice. As a speaker, this was obvious. Years of communication courses, business presentations, teaching public speaking to teens, I was always conscious of my voice. But in my writing…I didn't seem to make the connection. It has only been through my study that I've come to appreciate the value of an authentic voice. And though not as strong as the sound from my lips, I am beginning to stand shakily on writer's legs.

Through our writing, we are invited to explore our true selves, and from that journey emerges a new voice. One wise with tales from the road, a bit ragged from unexpected bumps along the way. And it propels us forward, further on our quest for authenticity. Through my writing I offer myself, my individual perspective—as a woman, a social worker, sister, wife, a resilient soul in search of connection. To do this, I must be vulnerable, honest, open to possibility in my writing.

Each of us writes for a different reason, from a myriad of perspectives, with a symphony of voices. It is this unique piece of ourselves which we offer to the world, it is this that gives our words power.

* * *
Jodie is a medical social worker and newbie blogger. Check out her adventures in art/writing at http://jodiekim.blogspot.com.


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

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Can Plagiarism Be Creative?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The same week I read about a German author who is defending her plagiarism, J.K. Rowling is being mentioned in another case of an author who believes Rowling heavily borrowed from his books.
In the instance of the first case of plagiarism, the author Helene Hegemann believes that her use of another's author's work is an art form. According to the Salon article I read, Hegemann reportedly told a German newspaper: "I myself don't feel it is stealing, because I put all the material into a completely different and unique context and from the outset consistently promoted the fact that none of that is actually by me." However, as Laura Miller points out on Salon, Hegemann did not give the author of credit for the passages taken from "Strobo."
Please note that I have no first-hand knowledge of either case of alleged plagiarism, but I am interested in how reading someone else's work can or might influence my own work--maybe even creeping into my writing?
Many writers state that by reading the masters, they improved their own writing. When studying the greats, often a professor will suggest copying the words of the master to learn the cadences, word choices, and rhythms. I'm sure my novel writing career would do much better if I were to borrow heavily from the greats. I also understood that as civilization has moved along, we build on the shoulders of those who came before us. Some even argue that there are no original stories, just a re-hash of stories that have come before.
But sometimes, that line blurs. I have taught college students whose academic careers could be destroyed due to one instance of plagiarism and yet the students seem unsure what constitutes plagiarism--and why it would be such a big deal.
I think that as an exercise and to understand the world it is vitally important to be aware of the work of those who have come before. From the standpoint of creativity and our own interaction with creativity, I'm not sure that plagiarism is the best method of rising to the occasion and meeting our muse. Or is it?

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.
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Photo Caption Contest: Win Fabulous Prizes

Monday, February 22, 2010
WOW!’s 1st Ever Photo Caption Contest

WOW! is happy to announce our first ever photo caption contest. A few weeks ago, we were in the middle of another Facebook contest when luckily one of our Premium Green members alerted us that Facebook didn’t allow these type of contests any more. So, we put our heads together, and we decided to do this fun contest on The Muffin instead—so let’s get to it!

1. Think of a photo caption for the photo on this blog post.

2. Write your photo caption in the comment section of this post.

3. Please include your name, e-mail address, and where you heard about the contest. (a friend, another blog post, blog subscriber, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

4. You may only enter the contest two times with two separate comments.

5. One photo caption per each comment, please.

6. Comments should be for a family audience. WOW! team members reserve the right to remove any comments from the site and disqualify the writer from the contest.

7. The photo caption contest goes until Friday, February 26 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

8. Two prizes will be awarded for this contest:

a. THE BEST CAPTION: Members of the WOW! team will choose the best caption—the best could be clever, witty, or funny. This writer will win a WOW! prize pack, which includes a year-long subscription to Premium Green ($48 value), a WOW! t-shirt, a WOW! sweatshirt, a book, and a WOW! tote bag.
b. PARTICIPATION PRIZE*: We will also be awarding one participation prize. This prize will be given to a writer who wrote a caption that we randomly choose from all the comments. This writer will be awarded a WOW! tote bag, a WOW! t-shirt, a WOW! sweatshirt, and a book.

(*Facebook fans who were already notified of being entered into the Facebook #3 contest before it was canceled will be automatically entered into the participation prize contest.)

9. Winners will be notified by e-mail and announced on The Muffin on Wednesday, March 3.

Okay, we can't wait to see these captions! Make us smile, makes us laugh, make us wish we could be so clever. . .
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Need Writing Inspiration? Think Celebration!

Sunday, February 21, 2010
by LuAnn Schindler

Writers discover inspiration in the strangest spots. Actually, stretching intellectual limits beyond the typical-article-idea mill will result in increased sales. It may also mean you guide your creative juices in a new direction and work in a new genre.

One of my favorite ways to increase the bottom line and develop timely stories and articles includes perusing lists of monthly holidays and celebrations. Some are sponsored by organizations promoting an idea or cause while increasing awareness; others are fun days that may only be celebrated by a handful of observers.

But, for writers, these celebrations are the perfect fodder for a researchable and marketable idea, and sometimes, they allow me to write something for fun...and still get paid!

Need examples? Let's take a look at some of February's celebrations. The second month of the year isn't just a time to celebration Valentine's Day or the Super Bowl.
  • Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month - Sponsored by House Rabbit Society (HRS) and Petfinder, the group encourages the adoption of rabbits that have been rescued. Possible story angles: interview someone who adopted a rabbit for a local paper, create a list article showing why rabbits make wonderful house pets, write a children's story about an adopted rabbit.
  • National Cherry Month - Why not write a health article touting the health benefits of cherries? Have a great cherry recipe? I do. I had my recipe for Cherry Pie Cake published in a cookbook. Or what about settling the argument about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree in an article or prose piece for a children's magazine?
  • Just Say No To Powerpoint Week (February 7 - 13) - Pen an article for a local newspaper showing the pro's and con's of using PowerPoint in the classroom. Or submit an editorial piece of work to a business magazine that shows how the presentation software is misused in the business world. Or, why not write a how-to list that shows the best methods for creating a presentation for an educational outlet.
  • Cowboy Poetry Week - (February 23 - 28) - Know any cowboy poets? I do, and let me tell you, they have many funny stories about rural life. Interview one for a writing magazine. Or better yet, try your hand at penning the poetic form.
  • National Condom Day - February 14 - The American Social Health Association recognizes this day for promoting healthy choices. How about a factual article with relevent examples for a teen magazine. What about a comparison of condom types and brands? Sounds like an good article for both men's and women's magazines.
  • National Tooth Fairy Day - February 28 - Use the tooth fairy to explain why dental hygiene is important. For a children's magazine, why not compare and contrast mythical do-gooders (the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, etc.). Write a personal essay about when you figured out how the tooth fairy made the money-for tooth trade.

Don't feel limited to writing something in your usual genre. Use these creative and informative celebrations to build a lucrative database of ideas!

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Writer Advice Flash Prose Contest

Saturday, February 20, 2010
DEADLINE: April 15, 2010

Can you create flash fiction, memoir, and creative non-fiction that grabs, surprises, and mesmerizes readers in fewer than 750 words? If you have a story or memoir with a strong theme, sharp images, a solid structure, and an unexpected discovery, then the fifth annual WriterAdvice Flash Prose Contest is one to look into.

You can submit up to three stories, typed and double-spaced. Email submissions will not be accepted. Entry fee is $10 per submission. All entries accompanied by an SASE will be returned with brief comments.

PRIZES: First Place - $150; Second Place - $75; Third Place - $50; Fourth Place - $25; Honorable Mentions will also be published. Names of all winners will be announced in the summer issue of WriterAdvice.

CONTACT: For questions only, please email editor B. Lynn Goodwin at Lgood67334@comcast.net

A complete listing of submission details can be found at WriterAdvice.com. Good luck!
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Friday Speak Out!: "Three Easy Steps to Getting Back on Track," Guest Post by Connie Hebert

Friday, February 19, 2010
Three Easy Steps to Getting Back on Track

by Connie Hebert

Who are your "Side-trackers?" You know, the experts at derailing your creative goals. The detractors who create storm centers and disrupt the focus of creative beings like yourself.

Often long on problems and short on answers, many of these rabble-rousers are famous or frustrated artists themselves. In the wake of your Side-tracker's latest drama, your creative work gets placed on the back-burner...again.

Don't let these trouble makers get the best of you. It's springtime––a time for new beginnings. Here are three easy steps to help anyone get back on track.

First, learn to recognize Side-trackers. Here are some specific behaviors common to this group:

~ Disrespect for your reality i.e. calling with a problem even
though you have a deadline of some kind, and they know it.

~ Break agreements by being late (or too early) and demanding
allowances which wreck havoc with your schedule

~ Spend your money and/or time by needing to be rescued,
often in the middle of a workday

~ Blame others (you) when something goes wrong

~ Go ballistic if someone points out one more broken promise

~ Deny they are Side-trackers

Second, learn how to diffuse Side-trackers.

~ Admit you are involved with one. Denial only prolongs
the agony.

~ Be brutally honest. Why are you entangled? Are you getting
anything out of it? Does your Side-tracker enable your
procrastination? Are you afraid of failure?

~ Accept that keeping them around is self-destructive.

~ Ask yourself what creative work you'd be doing if not involved
with your detractor.

~ Stop dancing to the Side-tracker's tune. If you can't, get help
such as counseling or support from friends who've been
through the process.

~ Keep in mind the consequences of putting your needs
aside such as cheating your of your birthright, devaluing
yourself and your talents, holding back your Gift to a world
badly in need of it, and losing out on the richness of an
existence filled with peace and the joy of self-expression
and self-fulfillment.

Finally realize it's your choice. Choose wisely. Your creative life depends on it.

* * *
Connie Hebert, MSW, is the owner and author of her "True Inklings" website. (See link below.) Retired from a successful career in psychotherapy, education, and seminar training on human behavior, she now writes full-time. Her current work in progress is a nonfiction novel with the working title of "Converting the Maiden; a Memoir of Surrender." She's also published short pieces in trade magainzes and in "The Shine Journal," an online publication.

Follow "Connie's Blog" on her website: www.trueinklings.com
Connie can be reached at: conniehebert@me.com


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

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Social Networking for Authors: Tips from Margo L. Dill

Thursday, February 18, 2010
This was the first year WOW! branched out into social networking by creating Twitter and Facebook profiles, and it's already done so much for our site. We get to interact with our readers, really get to know them, and obtain feedback instantly. Our traffic has increased from links coming from the networks as well, and it's also a lot of fun!

At the head of our social media campaign is WOW! contributing editor, columnist, and instructor Margo L. Dill, who launched our campaign from scratch. She knows a great deal about using these sites to your advantage, so I caught up with her to ask her a few questions about her upcoming e-course Social Networking for Authors: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more!. If you want to learn how to effectively use social networking platforms for self-promotion, there's still time to sign up for her course, which starts next Monday (February 22nd).

Welcome, Margo! Who should take your social networking class? Is it only for authors?

Margo: My social networking class can help anyone who has something to promote--a blog, a website, a book, a magazine, or a newsletter. The class will give tips on how to find other writers on social networks; find clients, customers, or readers; and how to interact on these sites so people get to know the "real" you. This means, you are a real person with a personality sending out tweets or promoting your Facebook profile or fan page--not a marketer or a spambot!

That's great to know. It sounds like it would be useful for freelance writers and small businesses as well. You teach your students how to use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Why is it important to use all three platforms? What are the major differences?

Margo: In my opinion, each social networking site offers writers, or anyone really, a different audience, format, and way to connect with others. On Twitter, you can follow almost anyone who has similar interests as you, provides useful information, or makes you smile and laugh. In turn, anyone can follow you. People expect you to share information on Twitter about yourself and your work as well as share other useful tidbits you come across on the Internet and on Twitter itself.

On Facebook, you can connect with people who you once knew, that you met at a conference, or through an online group as well as your family and friends. You can belong to writing groups on Facebook that provide information and where you can network with other writers such as on the WOW! Women On Writing Facebook Fan Page. On your Facebook wall, you can promote your latest blog post or book just like you can on Twitter, but you do it with posts on your wall or status updates or fan pages. I get a lot of response from my family and friends on my blog from my Facebook page. These people wouldn't know what I was up to if I didn't have Facebook to tell them. I am reaching a different audience here and on an even more personal level than on Twitter.

LinkedIn is a completely different network all together. It is for professional connections more than personal ones. You can connect with others and find freelancing work or discuss the publishing business in a LinkedIn group. You can find editing clients or promote your magazine or business to find customers or even employees. It's like having a resume online with recommendations right there for people to view. LinkedIn is great for networking.

That's a really great explanation. And it's so true...people wouldn't know what you were up to if you didn't have Facebook to tell them. I guess you could send direct e-mails to everyone, but people get annoyed with too much e-mail, and I think Facebook is far less intrusive. Plus, it's pretty effective! I've personally seen a great response from WOW's social networking campaign. Thanks, Margo! It especially works well for us since our e-zine is a static website and these additional platforms allow for interaction. Do you recommend students have a website, blog, or portfolio page set up somewhere to link back to before they start networking?

Margo: Not necessarily. It helps to have a blog or website, but some people will link to their book on Amazon if they want to tweet about their book or include a Barnes & Noble link in their status update on Facebook.

You can also take part in Twitter chats in all sorts of subject areas such as general writing, YA literature, children's writing, romance writing, and so on. You just have to know the hashtag (which you'll learn all about in my class) keywords such as #YAlitchat, know the time it takes place (which is easy to find on the Internet), and then log on to Twitter and get started. You just take part in the conversation, usually about a hot topic, and give your opinion with the hashtag included. You don't need a blog, website, or profile page to do this, and you can learn from other writers about marketing, writing, querying, or any number of subjects and connect with other writers in your field.

You can easily network on Facebook by starting a fan page for your book or business, and you don't need your own website to do this. Your fan page becomes like a type of website or profile page.

That's genius! I mean, why not, right? It's really all you need come to think about it. But when someone just starts out with a social networking site, it can often feel like a ghost town because they don't have any followers yet. What's the quickest way to build a following?

Margo: I suggest allowing the site to go through your e-mail address book and finding your contacts who are already on the site. This is the easiest way to get started with people that you know will help you through the beginning stages of the site. With Twitter, there are directories you can use such as Twellow to find people who have similar interests to you. On Facebook, you can join fan groups and meet people that way as well as searching by your college or high school. On LinkedIn, you can ask your connections to introduce you to others. I have several more tips and ways that I built my personal followers as well as WOW!'s, which will be part of the tips and lessons I share in my class.

Those are some fantastic tips! I definitely want to check out those fun Twitter hashtag chats. It sounds like a mini-conference! Thank you so much, Margo, for sharing your tips with us today. :)

Readers, if you're interested in promoting yourself through social networking or simply want to learn how to use the different sites effectively, remember, Margo's class Social Networking for Authors: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and More! starts next Monday, February 22, 2010. It runs for 4 weeks. Visit the classroom page to view what you'll be learning week by week. Enroll today to reserve your spot. Happy writing!

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Defining a "perfect" distraction

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Perfection is one of the most, well, perfect writing distractions. It is well suited for the creative person shaping and molding. After all, don't we all want something we create to be perfect?
How many of us write a draft, only to find ourselves stuck over a word, a phrase or the perfect shade of ink. We're seeking, searching for something perfect.
One of the elements in improving our own writing is to move past some of the distractions that crop up. Wrestling with perfection seems to work against what we truly want to do.
But what is perfection, really? Who dictates what is perfect?
One of my graduate school professors discussed The Great Gatsby as the perfect novel.
I have some perfect novels in a desk drawer, but a few literary agents didn't think them so perfect.
The Great Gatsby, my professor explained, may be perfect, but it is a flawed perfection because no writing can be absolutely flawless.
That's what keeps me at my computer tapping away or taking hours to scratch out my ideas in my notebooks. The search for perfection, even with some marred facets. Do I think I'll attain perfection in my writing? I don't know.
I do know that I won't let it get in the way of my sitting down to write.
How about you? What are your biggest internal distractions when you look at the blank page in front of you?

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.
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Going After Some of Those 2010 Writing Goals

Monday, February 15, 2010

For those of you who keep up with the Muffin’s daily posts, you may remember a post I made back in December about the writing goals I wanted to achieve for 2010. One of my goals was to branch out into another genre that I don’t normally dabble in. Well…I did it! At the time, I was just finishing up a manuscript for a YA novel and not only did I finish it, I entered it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. And now I’m so nervous.

I don’t usually enter contests. There are so many out there and competition can be stiff. But I thought the Amazon contest would be a great one. Hey! I know I may not have the highest chances of winning it but I know that I’ll get some valuable feedback I can tuck away for future projects. Plus contests like this one also give you an idea of whether you need to polish up your pitching skills.

The story is a personal experience from my early adult life that I wanted to tell but not from a Nonfiction view. So, I created an awesome fictional character to tell the story for me (He is about ten years younger than I was when I went through the same experience and, I think, made much better choices than I did.) Once I created a ‘storyteller’ so different from me, I found it was much easier to let go and tell the story. Fiction is a lot harder for me to write but, in a way, the element of telling a story is the same whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, right? You still have to capture your audience, make sure your facts are accurate and tell your story just right. Hopefully, I’ve done that. I guess we’ll see!

I have a lot of admiration for you fiction writers out there. Thank you for giving the rest of us some inspiration to give it a try!

So, how is everyone else’s writing goals going? Has anyone else entered the Amazon contest? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time…
Chynna Laird
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Romancing with Kristan Higgins, author of The Next Best Thing

Sunday, February 14, 2010
Happy Valentine's Day! We have the perfect author, Kristan Higgins, on The Muffin today--one who knows plenty about love, romance, and food (which just goes hand-in-hand with romance, right?). Kristan is here to talk about her new book out from Harlequin and to share her knowledge about keeping story lines fresh and interesting when writing genre books. So, without any hesitation, let's get right to Kristan!

WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Kristan. We are so happy to talk with you today. Your book, The Next Best Thing, is out from Harlequin this month. What do readers need to know about your latest book?

Kristan: Thank you, Margo! It’s lovely to be here today. The Next Best Thing is about Lucy, a young widow trying to find a not-so-bad guy to marry, so she can have kids and move on with her life. She’s not looking to fall madly in love again — she was obviously devastated when her husband died five years ago, and she doesn’t want to be that vulnerable this time around. So, the first thing she does is distance herself from Ethan, her best friend and more recently, her friend with privileges. Their relationship is complicated, and he’s pretty much the last guy Lucy would pick as husband material.

One of my favorite things about this book is Lucy’s profession and her family, which are very much intertwined. Lucy’s a very talented pastry chef, but she works in the family bakery in the bread department while her aunts make these rather tired and uninspired pastries, cookies, and cakes. Lucy loves the family bakery and adores her aunts; but they’re all widows, too. And in Lucy’s family, you don’t remarry. You get one shot at love; and if he dies, well…that’s your bad luck. So Lucy’s bucking tradition, as it were, and it makes for some very funny scenes. And of course, it was really fun to write about all those gorgeous desserts.

WOW: What a great premise with the aunts! I love it, and I'm sure readers get hungry reading your book. I hear there's a great recipe in this book AND in your book Too Good to be True. How much does cooking play into your plots and love stories?

Kristan: Well, food is a great part of life, don’t you think? One of the things I try to do is create a character the reader can really feel she knows and an important detail is favorite food. In Too Good To Be True, Grace consoles herself with Disgustingly Rich Chocolate Brownies, which she also brings to the hero to apologize for an unfortunate incident involving a field hockey stick and the police.

In The Next Best Thing, Lucy’s profession revolves around food, of course. Her late husband was a chef, and her in-laws own an Italian restaurant; so yes, food is very important! One of the things that hints at my characters’ feelings is what they eat…and what they don’t. And yes, I’ll be posting more recipes on my website…I do love to bake, so these are all tried and true.

WOW: Just the name of those brownies from Too Good to be True sound absolutely delicious! Food and romance just seem to go together--you're right. You have several contemporary romance books out from Harlequin and more to come. How do you keep your story lines fresh and interesting since we all expect the happily ever after at the end of a romance?

Kristan: I think the first thing I do is try to be honest about the pitfalls of relationships. My characters are very real people — no one is a billionaire, staggeringly beautiful, or breathtakingly talented…in other words, they’re us! I also try to focus on the heroine’s immediate dilemma, then pick the guy who seems to be the very worst choice for her. Of course, he’s really the right guy, but I want the couple to have to earn their happily ever after. And I focus a lot on family. Families shape us into the people we are; they know our best qualities and our weak spots, too. And weaving them into the story feels very natural for me.

WOW: I like that idea of the family being involved in your books because families are so involved in our love lives whether or not we want to admit it. I love the animals on the cover of all your books. The Next Best Thing has a gray cat, looking ready to eat some of whatever your heroine is mixing in that bowl. Where did the idea come for animals on each cover? Do animals play an important role in each novel?

Kristan: The amazing people in the Harlequin art department design my covers, so I can’t take any credit, though they give me a little preview, which is always thrilling. Personally, I’ve always had pets (mostly dogs, a few cats thrown in to keep me on my toes); and making my heroines pet owners wasn’t so much a conscious decision as just a normal part of life. But I choose the heroine’s pet very carefully, and that pet reflects something about the character. In The Next Best Thing, Lucy’s cat, Fat Mikey, is a very independent animal. Dogs, in my opinion, require a lot more attention and devotion. And when Lucy acquires Fat Mikey, she’s still really hurting over her husband. It felt like a dog might be too much. So Fat Mikey keeps her company, but he doesn’t get too sentimental, either.

WOW: What a great way to reveal things about the characters through their pets. That's genius! (I'm a big pet lover, too.) You also have a blog that you regularly update. What types of information will your fans find on your blog?

Kristan: My blogs on my own website are just little vignettes about my life as a writer and as a person. I’m pretty normal…married to a real sweetheart, mom of two great kids. I’m very close with my siblings, adore my nieces and nephews, have lunch with my mom, volunteer in

our town, carpool the kids around. If anyone has any illusions about the glamorous life of the writer, they need only check in with my blog and get a reality check! There are no silk pajamas here…my dog would drool all over those, and the cat would shred them in a heartbeat.

WOW: I'm sure your fans love to read about your life, and that's a good idea for blog posts! What are you working on next?

Kristan: Right now, I’m finishing up the edits on All I Ever Wanted, which comes out

this August, and working on another romantic comedy. One of the things that’s most fun about being a writer is figuring out which of your ideas is ready to be teased out into an entire book…you never know which seedling is ready to sprout.

WOW: We are so excited, Kristan, that you shared your insights about your books and your writing life with us today. We look forward to many more great books from you to keep us reading and smiling!

Interview conducted by Margo L. Dill


*If you're an author interested in being interviewed and/or promoting your book, please contact Margo at margo (at) wow-womenonwriting.com for details. (Replace at with @)

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The Music Muse

Saturday, February 13, 2010
by LuAnn Schindler

When I write, I like to listen to music. OK, I usually enjoy listening while I write. Other times, like when I'm on a tight deadline, I prefer the peace and quiet of our farm. Sure, there's the occasional 'MOO'........

Seriously, music ignites my writing muse. My musical choices vary as much as my writing topics. Some days, 80s and 90s rock blares, keeping my energy focused on the page. On Saturday mornings, I need the Kings of Leon and The Fray to jumpstart my morning pages. If I'm working on a creative endeavor, such as poetry or flash fiction, slow tunes by Sara Barilles, Howie Day or Tim McGraw or classical pieces like Moonlight Sonata help me keep an even writing pace.

And some days, I let iTunes decide what's up next.

The rhythm and words formulate the emotional connection between musical rhythm and written word.

It works for me, but does it work for all writers? What artists, music genres or songs keep you connected to your writing muse?
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Friday Speak Out: Why I Write, Guest Post by Susan Remson

Friday, February 12, 2010
Why I Write

by Susan Remson

I never really retired. I just stopped working. After forty-five years of work, including all the years while raising my family, I was ready. Over those years, my jobs ranged from my first as a Christmas gift wrapper to Operations Manager of a clinical laboratory. A few years ago, when my husband’s work took him to different cities for extended periods, I decided to accompany him. I quit my job, and except for the lack of income and the social life work had always provided me, I was not sorry. But what would I do with my time?

It was about then that I heard a speaker ask folks on the verge of retiring, who were dealing with the same “what will I do” question that I was, “What did you like to do when you were a child? What gave you pleasure when you were eleven or twelve years old?” The speaker went on to suggest that whatever that activity was, retirement might be the time to go back to it.

When I was a child, I loved to write.

So I began writing again. I had written in my professional life, but that writing was all technical. I journaled, too, but I began to write essays and short stories. I wrote fiction and non-fiction. I wrote poetry. I took classes. I went to workshops. I spent hours reading writers website. I read books about and by writers. But when people asked me what I was doing now that I wasn’t working, I couldn’t yet say, “I am a writer”. I didn’t feel like a writer; I felt like a wannabe.

When I finally got up the courage to read at a writer’s conference, I was terrified. I know my voice was shaking when I read my brief essay. In my piece, I compared my son’s life with an afghan my mother had made for him, and told how his life, filled with substance abuse and antisocial behavior, and the afghan were both unraveling. I pondered whether either of them would ever be whole again. When I finished reading, the room was silent. I remember thinking to myself, “Well, Susan, so much for being a writer”.

But I was wrong. I later learned the room was silent because of the impact of my words. Afterwards, several women came up to tell me how they could relate to what I was saying. Their words delighted me, and saddened me, too, because it meant that others were dealing with the same issues that I had been only a few years earlier. Still, if I could touch someone with my words, I was happy.

Their comments also made it possible for me to say, “I am a writer.”

Since that time, I have shared, in writing, other experiences, including stories about my mother and her knitting, my son and his struggles, and my daughter and the year planning her wedding. I write two blogs. In one, I am sharing my thoughts on being 64 years old and “muddling through to Medicare”. I also have thick file of short stories and essays, and two half-written novels.

These days, I have no problem calling myself a writer. I still love to write, now more than ever.

* * *
Susan Remson is retired from a career in health care and biotechnology and now devotes herself to her writing. She lives on the shore of Lake Michigan in Kenosha Wisconsin . where she writes two blogs. In Great Lakes Views (www.greatlakesviews.blogspot.com) she comments on environmental, political and cultural issues of the Great Lakes . When I’m 64 (www.whenim64-susan.blogspot.com) she is documenting what it is like to be a woman of a “certain age”.


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

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Milkweed Editions National Fiction Prize

Thursday, February 11, 2010
Hey, WOW! readers, take a look at this competition for the fiction writers among us, which appeared in the February 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine.

Milkweed Editions, an independent, nonprofit literary publisher, will award the National Fiction Prize to the best work of fiction Milkweed accepts for publication during each calendar year by a writer not previously published by them.

They’re accepting manuscripts anywhere from 150 to 400 pages in length and the following categories are eligible: novels, short story collections, and novellas. Works previously published in book form in the U.S. are not eligible, but individual stories or novellas previously published in magazines or anthologies are.

The prize winner will receive publication by Milkweed and a $5,000 cash advance against royalties.

For complete details, surf over to Milkweed Editions site here.

And best of luck to you!
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The e-book Revolution: Publishing Wars, Kindle, and Readers

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Until recently, publishers didn't take e-books seriously because they only accounted for less than 1% of books sold. But now, according to Jonathan Kirsch, host of The Politics of Culture radio show, everyone in the publishing industry is paying attention to what he calls the "e-book revolution." He says it started with Amazon's kindle e-book reader--a product that did for e-books what iPod did for music. And last Christmas, e-book sales outnumbered print sales for the first time in history!

In Jonathan Kirsch's radio show yesterday, he interviewed New York Times digital media columnist Motoko Rich, Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital blogger Peter Kafka, and e-book reader/fan and author herself, Dora Levy Mossanen about kindle, e-books, and ibooks.

Early adopters or mainstream?
Where e-book readers used to be for early adopters, it appears they have migrated to the general public. And surprisingly, these adopters are not the young and tech savvy, a lot of them are in their fifties and sixties and simply love books. With over three million sales in e-book reading devices (e-book readers) it's surprising to me that I don't see people using them in the general public. You'd think I'd catch people reading in restaurants on their lunch break, in the doctor's office, or at a bus stop. But although e-book sales represent the fastest growing proportion of the publishing market, they still only represent about 5% of total book sales, according to Motoko Rich. Rich also says that even though e-book sales occupy a lot of mind space and are the leading cause of anxiety among publishers, it isn't the way the majority of the world reads. In fact, three million e-book readers is small potatoes compared to the forty plus million print sales.

So what's the attraction to e-book readers anyway?
Author Dora Levy Mossanen talked about how she loved the ease and speed of the kindle--being able to carry twenty books with her at all times to fill the small pockets of her day by reading, being able to download a book within 30 seconds from any location, and having her newspapers delivered to her each morning. On the downside, she missed having a book cover and an author photo, which she often sought out in her local bookstore.

Will kindle stay on top?
While kindle is the industry leader, Peter Kafka argues that a multi-purpose devise (such as Apple's forthcoming iPad)--with its ability for web browsing and video in addition to book reading--will eventually displace a single-purpose device (such as the kindle). But for readers, committing to one e-reading product is pretty much the only option we have right now. There are many e-book readers--Barnes & Noble's Nook, Sony's Reader, Amazon's kindle, Apple's iPad--but as far as I know, they have format issues and aren't truly compatible with one another.

As far as reading quality, the kindle seems to be far superior except for the fact that it doesn't have a backlight option, like some others, which would be ideal for reading at night, say, in bed, where you'd still need additional lighting without waking up your hubby.

Publishers, Pricing Wars, and Consumers
For the book-buying audience, purchasing a new book at $9.99 as opposed to a hardcover print book at $24.95 is an attractive option. According to Motoko Rich, Amazon was actually losing money because they currently pay publishers a wholesale price that is about half the list price of a hardcover book, which typically ranges from $25-$35. So, Amazon was losing about $2.50-$4 every time they sold one of those $9.99 books. That freaked publishers out because they thought the $9.99 price was an eroding of value of what a new book was worth. NY publishing houses were concerned that they couldn't sustain the current business model that requires editing, copyediting, marketing, overhead, author advances, etc., so they wanted to take control of pricing. But they came to an agreement with Apple so that when the new iPad comes out in March '10, publishers will be able to set the consumer price according to hardcover book pricing. What that means to the book-buying public is that books bought on the iPad will most likely be a little more expensive than the kindle--approximately $12.99-$14.99. It's still less expensive than buying a new print book, but it will be interesting to see how current e-book buyers react to the increase.

From an author and writer's standpoint, Dora Levy Mossanen says, with price points and publishing wars, she feels the pain for her writer friends who have a hard time finding a publisher in an industry that's turned upside down, but at the same time she recognizes the value of e-books and knows that the trend cannot be stopped. She feels that the new digital trends and formats allow authors to tap into an audience they might not otherwise reach.

Another good point for authors and publishers is that with e-books they have very low overhead and no worry of book damage or returns, so that may make up for the reduction in price in the end.

My take?
The e-book revolution is here and in full swing! I'm happy to be on the verge of a change in publishing and can't wait to see the advances in technology. Like anything, there will be a standard model set in place soon and e-book reading devices will become synchronized in formats in the future and, hopefully, will continue to offer low prices and eco-friendly options to hungry book lovers.

Now, I want to know: do you read e-books? Do you have a kindle or another e-book reader? What's your preferred reading device?
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Interview with James Tipton, Summer '09 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

James’s Bio:
James Tipton lives in the tropical mountains of central Mexico where he writes short poems and short fiction. He is also Associate Editor of the monthly magazine in English, published in Mexico, El Ojo del Lago (The Eye of the Lake) and Book Review Editor for the on-line magazine, Mexico Connect. He has published more than 1,000 short stories, poems, articles and reviews in North American magazines, including Esquire, The Nation, Christian Science Monitor, American Literary Review, and Field.

His book of poems, "Letters from a Stranger" (with a Foreword by Isabel Allende), won the Colorado Book Award in 1999.

His most recent collections of short poetry are published in bilingual (Spanish and English) editions: "Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village" (Lavando platos en el antiguo pueblo) and "All the Horses of Heaven" (Todos los Caballos del Paraíso). He is currently completing a collection of short stories set in Mexico.

Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village is available through Bread and Butter Press/1150 S. Glencoe/Denver, CO 80246, $10.95 plus $3.00 shipping & handling. All the Horses of Heaven is available through http://www.themetpress.com/, $12.95 plus $4.00 shipping & handling.

He is currently completing a collection of short stories set in Mexico.

Check out his entry, “And To Think That Only Yesterday”, then grab your favorite hot drink and come on back for our latest interview with James.

Interview by Jill Earl

WOW: First of all, congratulations on placing again in WOW’s Flash Fiction Contest! What do you think has helped you in producing winning contest entries?

James: I think I was initially helped by reading lots of the past winners on the WOW site. I liked some of those stories and I thought, WOW!, maybe I can write stories like that as well. I like short forms of literature, whether fiction or poetry, and I have published hundreds of short poems, many of them as haiku or tanka, including two collections in 2009: “Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village”, and “All the Horses of Heaven”, both in bi-lingual editions (English and Spanish) incidentally.

WOW: Studying the entries of past winners is a great way to get a feel for what judges are looking for, not just for our competition, but for others as well. Great advice for future contestants to follow.

Speaking of entries, I thoroughly enjoyed reading “And To Think That Only Yesterday”. The imagery was so vivid and rich. What was the inspiration behind it?

James: I like vivid imagery and living here in Mexico life often seems to me to be more vivid, or perhaps I simply have more awareness of how vivid it is.Reading lots of Latin American literature, novelists like my dear friend Isabel Allende (who wrote the introduction to my book, Letters from a Stranger) and Gabriel García Marquez, opened me up to images, including unusual ones, that seemed to penetrate more deeply into reality, so that reality itself shifts, becomes something very fascinating.

WOW: Looks like you studied well. You’ve captured the country’s essence in such an appealing manner, I think.

Switching gears, you mentioned in your previous interview, that among your many publications, your tanka “All the Horses of Heaven” has been published by Modern English Tanka Press. For those who may not have heard of it, can you explain what tanka is?

James: Yes, basically a tanka is a five-line Japanese form of poetry, unrhymed, usually about aspects of love, and initially written by court ladies in Japan in the 6th or 7th century, and sent in secret to potential lovers. They (the lady and the lover) often communicated or understood their relationship through tanka poetry. Usually there are three lines that are followed by two more than often sum up or comment or expand the first three. The form is much older and in Japan is more popular (I have been told) than haiku. You might enjoy “All the Horses of Heaven” (www.themetpress.com).

WOW: I’ve read a bit about this poetic form, and found it more appealing than haiku. Thanks for the explanation and I’ll be sure to check out “All the Horses of Heaven”.

Let’s talk about your writing process. Are there specific themes that you like to explore when you write?

James: I like to explore the age-old themes: love, sex, God, death, what are we doing here in these bodies on this beautiful planet, where did we come from, where will we go? How can we live our lives more deeply?

WOW: Amazing how those themes endure, waiting for a writer to approach them from their own unique perspective, and share their findings with the world. It never gets old.

What about your writing schedule? Is there a specific one that you follow?

James: I write every day, often in the morning, rarely in the afternoon, often in the evening. When I write I like to focus on writing and really like to be totally alone, locked in my room, so to speak. When I eat, although often with others, I like to focus on food. When I make love, I like to be totally focused on the woman I am with. People have always told me I listen well, but that probably only means I focus on the person talking with me. When I walk, I like to pay attention to walking. So, I guess, attention and focus are important things to me, both in writing and in living.

WOW: I agree with you on that. I believe they’re key to the creative process, helps get that story, script, article, poem or whatever you’re writing down and hopefully, published.

In your bio, you mention that you’ve been working your collection of short stories. Can you share how that’s coming along?

James: My collection of short stories, tentatively titled "Three Tamales for the Señor", is almost complete. I have three or four story ideas I want to get down into words and include in the book. I hope to have it finished this year, but I have lots of other writing projects including a monthly column called “Hearts at Work” that I write for a magazine in English published in Mexico called El Ojo del Lago, and I review a book each month for Mexico Connect, and I write lots of articles about Mexico for various magazines, like International Living, and I write lots of short poems, some stories.

WOW: You’ve definitely stayed busy, James! Is there anything else you’d like to share with WOW! readers?

James: Advice? I’d say keep reading WOW! I have found it stimulating and useful. I like, for example, the January piece by Gretchen Rubin, “20 Questions.” I like going through Premium Green now and then.

WOW: Thank you for your insightful interview, James. And again, congratulations, we’ll continue to be on the look out for your work. All the best to you!

To read James’ Summer 2008 interview and contest entry, click here:

And to find out more about the poetic form known as tanka, check out the American Tanka website.
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Laura Cross, author of The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent, Launches her Blog Tour!

Monday, February 08, 2010
& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Laura Cross's family and friends in Detroit, Michigan knew she would move on to bigger and better things when she began writing and performing plays for them as a child. Actually, they hoped she would move on to bigger and better things--they were tired of being her only audience!

When Laura packed up the moving van it was to head to California where she earned Certificates in Writing and Feature Film Writing for the UCLA Writer's Program. Laura's writing life has included magazine writing, script reading for production companies and literary agencies, leading writing workshops and blogging about screenwriting and non-fiction writing. She's also written some absolutely fabulous nonfiction books but sadly, as a ghostwriter, she has to keep the titles under wraps! Laura divides her time between Los Angeles and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Find out more about Laura by visiting her websites:

Friend her on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter: @ScreenplayChick and @TheScribeChick

The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent
By Laura Cross

This book is for every prospective author who has sought to have their manuscript transformed into a printed book. It guides you through the process of contracting a literary agent and convincing them that you are in fact the next great bestseller. From formatting a query letter to ensuring your manuscript looks presentable, every step of the process from inception to execution will be laid out in vivid detail for you.

Both published writers who have successfully found and acquired an agent and literary agents who are inundated with manuscripts and requests in the thousands every year, have been interviewed for this book and have provided their personal stories, tips, and tricks as to how you can get into the publishing industry through an agent. Finally, once you have found your agent, you will learn how to read contracts, accept offers, and understand what details will be handled exclusively by your agent.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Publishing Group (June 2010)
ISBN: 1601384033

Notes: The print version comes out in June 2010 and you can pre-order it on Amazon. The e-book version is available for purchase on Laura's site, where you can also download a free sample chapter.

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Laura Cross's book The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent 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.

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: You mentioned that, although you've written over 30 books, this would be the first one with your name on it. Could you tell us a little about that path that led you to so many books, although without the byline?

Laura: I was working with friends and associates--line editing and researching, and helping them organize and outline their books--and somewhere along the road it developed into ghostwriting a complete manuscript. I loved the whole process of bringing a book together and I began offering ghostwriting services--from there it developed into a career.

WOW: What types of books do you ghostwrite?

Laura: Most of my books are prescriptive nonfiction. Initially I specialized in what I knew about (business, entrepreneurship, and marketing) and that gradually grew into additional topics as I began attracting specific types of clients. Now I also write about social media and branding, finance and investment, self-help and relationships, lifestyle and motivation, and health and fitness. I’ve written two travel guides, which were fun, though that’s not a large part of my business.

WOW: I love the possibility of so much variety. As a ghostwriter you don't have the luxury of waiting for a muse to tease the words out of you. People are expecting you to deliver on deadline. Maybe we can all learn a little from your writing habits. Paint us a picture of where and how you write.

Laura: I’m not sure there is a creative muse for prescriptive nonfiction. When it comes to developing a client’s book I’m like a doctor who lines up her daily appointments--every hour of the day is scheduled. Mornings are spent on marketing, social networking, reading blogs, writing posts, answering emails, and developing my own projects. Afternoons I spend on client projects, whether it’s writing or editing or working on a book proposal. My projects are lined up several months in advance, if I didn’t follow a strict regiment I would wander off course and wouldn’t be able to begin the next project on time. Milestones and deadlines are essential.

I have a nice home office with an attached patio (for taking much-needed breaks). It’s a quiet space with no distractions, which allows me to focus. I have a rustic refurbished six-foot wood plank table where I write. I had my eye on that table for three years before I could afford to buy it. It was expensive but it was one of the best investments I ever made--it’s large enough to hold all my papers, notes, and books, and most importantly, my cat, who likes to curl up near me when I’m typing. It creates a romantic, nostalgic atmosphere. It makes me feel like I stepped into an author’s studio in the 1940s. I can’t help but be inspired to write when I sit at that desk.

WOW: Your desk and working space sound wonderful! Do you have any hints for getting the job done? Do you set daily goals for yourself?

Laura: I absolutely set daily goals. Every writing project has a timeline. During the writing phase I try to complete five pages per day.

WOW: Five pages is a good goal. Many of our readers write fiction and debate whether outlines improve books or stifle creativity. Since your books are non-fiction maybe you can add to the debate on outlines from a non-fiction perspective. Do you think they're useful when you're writing?

Laura: I break my projects into three phases: development, writing, and editing/revising. Most of my time is spent on preparation: refining the idea, researching (and interviews), organizing the material, and outlining. I always work with a detailed outline, which the client approves before I commence the writing stage. Sometimes the outline will fluctuate a little once I begin writing, but it usually doesn’t stray too far from the initial direction. Once the detailed outline is developed and approved, I use it as the blueprint or map to follow during the writing stage. I basically lay it out as the foundation of the book and fill in the content. For me, this method makes the actual writing process super easy. I can’t imagine working without an outline.

WOW: I'm in the middle of a non-fiction book and find that I'm not writing in order: first Chapter One, then Chapter Two, etc. Do you write "in order" or find that you jump around from section to section?

Laura: I’m the same! I jump around all the time. Since I complete all the necessary research before I begin writing I’m aware of which sections may be more challenging and which will be easier or more enjoyable. I tend to write the easier or more enjoyable stuff first because I know it will go faster and will allow me to have more time to spend working on the difficult sections.

WOW: Thank goodness, now I know I’m not the only one! Do you ever find you become bored with a project? Do you work on more than one project at a time to avoid losing the enthusiasm for a project?

Laura: I don’t work on more than one client’s project at a time, except during the period of time between finishing the first draft and beginning revisions when the client is reviewing the project and making any notes--I’ll use that time to work on a smaller project, such as editing another client’s book. But I do split my days between working on clients’ projects and my own projects, which helps keep me motivated.

WOW: I'm sure we'll be learning plenty about literary agents during your WOW! Blog Tour for The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent: Everything You Need To Know To Become Successfully Published but one question about your experience with literary agents. Do ghostwriters use literary agents to find them work or "sell" their skills to people looking for a ghostwriter?

Laura: Absolutely! I do acquire plenty of clients on my own who initially approach me to develop their book proposals and they turn into ghostwriting projects once they land book deals, but the best ghostwriting projects and much of my gigs come from literary agents and publishers. It’s rumored that more than 80% of traditionally published books are ghostwritten. Many celebrities, experts, motivational speakers, doctors, attorneys, sports figures, scientists, and business leaders lack the time or the skill to write a compelling book and they require ghostwriters or co-authors. And it’s not just nonfiction, some bestselling fiction authors don’t have the time to produce the volume of work released under their names and they hire fiction ghostwriters to write manuscripts "in their style" based on their ideas or story outlines.

WOW: I knew James Patterson worked with ghostwriters but I had no idea it was so widespread! What's next for you? Will your next project have your name on it or be shrouded in the mystery that is ghostwriting? What is your dream-writing project?

Laura: I have a few client book proposals lined up and, of course, those are ghostwritten, but as far as larger book projects right now I’m focused on writing my own book. I really enjoy mentoring other writers and sharing what I’ve learned on my writing path, so the next book will be another one for writers. I’m also focusing on teaching writing classes in a new online platform I’m launching this spring that encourages participants to engage with one another and recreates the live workshop experience.

I’ve adapted a few scripts for clients as a hidden writer (I earned my certificate in Feature Film Writing from UCLA’s Writer’s Program) and my "dream-writing project" is a screenplay adaptation of a specific book I’ve been interested in for a while. I’m still trying to option the film rights, which just became available earlier this year when a producer let his option lapse...so fingers-crossed.

WOW: Everyone at WOW! will have their fingers crossed for you and we’ll be watching for your name n the credits at our local movie theaters--keep us updated.

Want to join Laura 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 8, 2010 Monday
Laura will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Laura's book!

February 9, 2010 Tuesday
Break out the hammer and nails--today Laura Cross tells us how to build a writer's platform. She's also holding a Winner's Choice Giveaway! Winner of the contest wins a PDF of her book Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent or membership to one of her online classes ($369 value): Writing the Non-fiction Book Proposal, Writing the Non-fiction Book, or Establishing Your Writer's Platform.

February 10, 2010 Wednesday
Author Laura Cross tells readers how a good synopsis can get a novel published. And don't miss today's super giveaway! The winner gets to attend one of three online classes ($369 value) Laura is teaching this spring.

February 12, 2010 Friday
Today Laura will be answering questions sent in by readers. Do you have a question for Laura about agents, ghostwriting, writing platforms, or another writing subject? Submit a question and you might win a PDF of her book Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent.

February 15, 2010 Monday
Laura Cross, author of Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent, tells readers about her life as a ghost--ghostwriter, that is! Don't miss her post How To Land High-Paying Ghostwriting Book Projects.

February 16, 2010 Tuesday
Writer Laura Cross will be sharing Five Secrets Every Writer Should Know About Query Letters with Thursday Bram. You can also enter to win membership in one of Laura's writing classes ($369 value).

February 17, 2010 Wednesday
Stop by for a great interview with Laura Cross, author of Guide to a Literary Agent.

February 18, 2010 Thursday
Laura will be stopping by Hell or High Water Writer with 5 Tips for Polishing Your Pitch and a chance to win a PDF of her book Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent.

February 22, 2010 Monday
Are you ready for an agent? Laura Cross, author of The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent, helps you answer that question today. She's also giving away an e-copy of her book.

February 26, 2010 Friday
Stop by Words by Webb for a review of Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent by Laura Cross.

March 3, 2010 Wednesday
Laura Cross, author of Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent, is telling all her secrets today...secrets about query letters. She's also giving away an electronic copy of her book. Don't miss it!

To view all of our touring authors, 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 Laura Cross 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 Laura Cross's book The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent: Everything You Need To Know To Become Successfully Published! And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!
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Talk to Your Readers

Sunday, February 07, 2010
With freelance we tend to find ourselves writing informational pieces quite regularly. It can be a piece on how to repair something (DIY), or maybe in the creation of a craft item.

I was reading some information about a craft project that I wanted to try and I actually got bored with the way the article was written. To be honest, it was rather dry and I felt like the writer was telling me what to do. Hello, that's not nice!

Then I remembered one of my favorite authors and how she always talks to you and helps literally kick you in the butt, Natalie Goldberg. If you've read her books you know exactly what I am talking about. Just like standing in one of her mini-writing workshops, she talks to you with her writing.

Recently, I gave her techniques a try while doing a how-to piece on making a memory quilt. I must admit, it was at least a start and I am finding that more people have been interested in reading it. It has actually led to some readers asking additional questions and for ideas. This has helped me then construct my answers for each of them as if I'm sitting across the table from them having a conversation and enjoying the project that we are working on.

It's difficult to do considering that you don't have the person right there in front of you. But, I have found that if you sit there and think about your friends and how you would try to help explain to them how to do something or by visualizing and wanting to show them, it can help you to write a better piece.

Yes, like all of us, I am still learning the technique and still have a ton of kinks to work out. But, by talking to our readers, it gives them a sense that you care and want to help. As our society has changed a great deal in the last 15 years with the onset of this wonderful internet, many of us are now home-bodies and social butterflies of a different nature. We don't leave our homes like we did to socialize. Many of us only socialize through the internet. With this in mind, we need to find ways to humanize what we are writing, to make our readers feel that they matter and are in many aspects a part of our lives as well.

If you are interested in finding out how to write and speak to your readers, check out some of Natalie Goldberg's work. Her most recent release is Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir; or check out one of her older books called Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Each of these will help give you an idea of how to speak to or with your readers rather than at them or telling them.

Happy Writing!
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