Interview with Sarah Warburton, First Place Winner of Spring 2010 Flash Fiction Contest,

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Sarah Warburton is a writer, wife, the mother of two, and a knitter (not necessarily in that order) living in Sugar Land, TX. After earning an M.A. in Classics from the University of Georgia and another from Brown University, she spent time working in independent bookstores, reading and writing. She’s studied at the University of New Mexico with Sharon Oard Warner and Julie Shigekuni, at the Taos Writer’s Workshop with Pam Houston, and in Houston with Justin Cronin. Since 2005 she’s been a staff writer for the local monthly magazine, UpClose and member of the weekly critique group, Writers Ink. Her short story, “Margaret’s Magnolia,” appeared in the Southern Arts Journal and she has finished her first mystery novel, The Language of the Dead.

Find out more about Sarah by visiting her website:

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Winter 2010 writing contest! How do you feel?

Sarah: Really honored and thrilled! A few years ago, I had one short story published in the now-defunct Southern Arts Journal, but it wasn’t available in many places. It’s been amazing to have this chance to share my story with so many people…and I really appreciate the opportunity.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, "Life Script? "

Sarah: I wanted to write a story that covered a large span of time in a short space and I was interested in the divergence between our plans for life and the direction our lives take. I thought about the difference between our vision of the writing life and the many different paths it actually takes. There may also have been echoes of my favorite movie, a sort of “When Harry Missed Sally” feeling.

WOW: Your approach was effective! It was a quietly powerful story. Have you always enjoyed the genre, and how did you learn to write great flash fiction?

Sarah: My short stories tend to be either very long or very short. One of the reasons I love flash fiction are the constraints of the genre. There isn’t any room for prevarication or words that don’t pull their weight. It’s a fantastic genre for those of us with small children, because we have such narrow moments of opportunity in which to work. Since I knew with “Life Script” that I would be moving quickly through time in little blocks of text, I could consider each paragraph in isolation whenever I had a few minutes to myself.

WOW: You've also completed a novel. Can you tell us about that? What did it take to complete that big goal?

Sarah: I think it took the kind of commitment it takes to have children…complete ignorance of the enormity of the task, plenty of support, and a dedication to doing it every day. I started almost ten years ago with eighty pages of non-consecutive scenes and now three cities, numerous writing workshops, and several writing groups later I’m making my final revisions with my agent. Without my writing group, Writers Ink ( I don’t know if I would have reached the end. They kept me writing for my goal, inspired me with their own excellent work, and read my novel with critical eyes and encouraging words.

WOW: I love your analogy—ignorance is bliss. Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Sarah! Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?

Sarah: Go for it! Especially if you’ve gotten feedback from readers, critique groups, or your workshop and you know the story is your best work. You’ve got nothing to lose by sending your stories out to contests, and the opportunity to share your work is fantastic. Nobody’s going door to door, looking for amazing fiction, so you’ll have to send your work out if you want the opportunity to share it with a wider audience.

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Today is the last day to enter our Summer 2010 Flash Fiction contest!

For more information, visit:
Good luck!

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Syndication: An Overlooked Option for Writers

Monday, August 30, 2010
By Jill Pertler

Syndication--for many writers, this term signifies a specialized niche for journalists, columnists, and folks named Erma. I'd like to challenge that line of thinking. Self-syndication is a flexible means to sell your work to multiple sources and cash multiple paychecks. If you get creative, there are lots of paths where syndication can take you--without even considering changing your name to Erma.

Let's get to the real question on everyone's mind: How can syndication help you?

The first step is to think about the definition of syndication. Basically, it is printing the same article over and over; syndication is reprints on steroids.

Shhh! Don't tell anyone. In the world of freelancing, reprint is almost a dirty word. No one wants a reprint. They want first rights. With syndication, you get the benefits of reprinting your article, without the negative connotations.

Traditionally, syndication involves a regularly written column. You can certainly explore that avenue. It's how I roll, but your options are only limited by your creativity.

You can syndicate without writing anything above and beyond what you are already doing. As a freelancer, you probably gravitate toward certain topics. Consider grouping already written (and published) articles into a bundle and offering them up for syndication. Sell a package of 12 to newspapers or monthly magazines. Since these articles were published elsewhere, you've already been paid for them. Anything gained from the syndication train is gravy.

Combine ghostwriting and syndication. Identify business owners who would benefit from a monthly newspaper column. Think: veterinarian, MD, financial planner, attorney, etc. Problem is, these folks don't have time to write a column.

On the other side of the fence, your local newspaper is looking for good copy. It's likely your editors prefer locally-written information over the AP feed. Approach the editor offering to write a monthly column for free. Then, approach the business and offer to ghostwrite for a fee. The business benefits from coming across as an expert willing to share knowledge with the community; the column works like an advertisement, without the hypey feel.

Because of its flexibility, syndication is an option all writers should consider. It is an avenue for gaining readership, writing assignments and regular paychecks. For a writer, that's akin to winning the golden trifecta.


To learn more, check out The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication by Jill Pertler. You'll find secrets, shortcuts, strategies and the psychology of getting your words in print.

You'll also find some surprises. For example: reasons not to blog, what not to post on your website, the pluses and minuses of fans and when it's okay to break the rules of syndication.

The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication, available in paperback and ebook formats, is published and available online through Booklocker, as well as through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Related article: How to Self-Syndicate Your Column, a DIY Guide by Jill Pertler
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Help or Hinder--Lots of Description

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How much description is too much?

She sat in the big blue chair, twirling her long brown tresses around her right pointer finger, and from her chestnut brown eyes she stared listlessly out the green-curtain clad window. Rewrite this to suit your idea of the perfect amount of description.

The reader needs to know she has a quirk of twirling her hair, the color of her hair doesn't matter, and staring out the window lets a reader know she is deep in thought over something, her eye color isn't relative and neither is the curtains.

A drastic rewrite.

She stared out the window.

What needs to be Conveyed?

Think about what will further the story. What is needed to convey and accurate view of what's happening. The reader needs to know she's listless and what she does to show this.

She twirled her long tresses as she focused on a tiny spot outside the outside the window.

Maybe you can spruce it up. What would you add or take out?

Start with a simple sentence.

Heavy curtains covered the windows and made the room dark.

Add to it.

Suzie bumped the coffee table as she fumbled through the darkness inching closer to the sliver of light that came through the heavily clad window. "Ouch!" She massaged her leg. "That'll leave a mark."

Writing Exercises Strengthen Creativity

I often feel too busy to do writing exercises. If I have a few spare minutes I want to just jump right into my current work in progress, but I find if I take the time to do a few exercises every month, I'm greatly rewarded.

Meredith Sue Willis has a nice exercise where she has gleaned a section from Chapter 54 of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda. She suggests rewriting the scene using modern characters. Try it and post your exercise in the comments.

Storytelling involves more than lining up the action pieces, arranging them in a logical order and then drawing conclusions. Dramatic action, conflict, tension, suspense and curiosity hook readers, but they still long to know about the character's emotional reactions and emotional development provide. It's the human element that keeps the pages turning.

Meredith Sue Willis *"description" (accessed August 27, 2010)

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From History Teacher to History Writer - An Interview with Judith Redline Coopey

Saturday, August 28, 2010
Pennsylvania native, Judith Redline Coopey, made the switch in from history teacher to full-time historical fiction writer in 2004 and published her first book, Redfield Farm: A Novel of the Underground Railroad in August 2010.

“I think characters are vitally important to one’s work,” Coopey says via e-mail. “Ann Redfield, the heroine of Redfield Farm is someone I’d like to know. She’s strong, dependable, vulnerable and human. Like the rest of us. I hope I can create more characters like Ann and set them in Pennsylvania, because that is where my heart lives.”

Although Redfield Farm is Coopey’s first novel, she is no native to the publishing world. She co-authored The World of Owen Gromme, published by Stanton and Lee of Madison, WI, and had articles published in Scholastic Newstime, Wisconsin Trails and Midwest Art Magazine. One of her articles was included in A Wisconsin Sampler, an anthology of Wisconsin Writing.

I had the opportunity to chat with the author via e-mail about her writing, her book and the engaging history of Pennsylvania.

How did you develop the idea for Redfield farm?
I’m a genealogist, and back in the 1970s I was trying to find my connection to the Blackburn family of Bedford County. I had some names and dates, but no one to connect them with. I finally made a breakthrough by locating a distant cousin who had the family Bible, and from them I found out where the homestead was. I contacted the owner, and he met me at the house, which was no longer lived in, and he told me that it was rumored to have been a station on the Underground Railroad. That kind of claim is almost impossible to substantiate, but the thought stuck in my mind. When I decided to write a book, I knew it had to be about the Underground Railroad.

Could you share a little about your writing and research process as you created this novel?
I did extensive research on the Underground Railroad, not just in Pennsylvania, but all over the states where it was active. I also did extensive research on Quakers, because my protagonist, Ann Redfield was a birthright Quaker. I didn’t know until I found my connection in the 70s that I was descended from Quakers. I learned a lot from my research, and I learned that writing happens inside your head, even when you’re not sitting at the keyboard. I thought about my characters and setting and things I expected to happen to them. Then in November 2004 I tried the NaNoWriMo ( National Novel Writing Month) – writing a chapter a day for 30 days – no looking back. Just full speed ahead. I did it on my own, not formally affiliated with NaNoWriMo, but I kept to the guidelines and by the end of November I had a first draft. First drafts are fun to do because they offer a no holds barred opportunity at creativity. But a first draft is really rough, so it took a lot more time – sending it off to my trusted readers, reading it to my writers’ group, letting it stew in a desk drawer and revising, revising, revising.
Who are your favorite writers and how has their writing influenced your own?
I have a long list of favorite writers, but the standouts are John Steinbeck, Willa Cather, Wallace Stegner. Contemporary favorites are Lee Smith, who writes about southern Appalachia, Faith Sullivan, who writes about Minnesota, Molly Gloss, who writes about Washington State, and Nancy Turner, who writes about Arizona. They’re all women who write about strong women – no fantasy, gratuitous sex or violence – just a good story well told. I like that.
What was the most difficult part of transitioning from a teaching career to a writing career?
It wasn’t difficult at all. I’ve wanted to write all my life, and I have, but not seriously. I’m single minded when it comes to a task, so when I was a teacher, that took up all of my energy. Now that I have the luxury to be able to write, I focus on that to the exclusion of many other distractions. Not my family, though. They still come first. The only thing I miss about teaching is the kids. My high school freshmen kept me young and in touch. It was a joy to introduce them to the wider world.

What was the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
I’m still learning and getting writing advice from a variety of sources – writers’ conferences, agents, editors, books on writing, my writers’ group. I can’t single out any one piece of advice, but I try to take it all to heart and sift it through my own experience.

What other writing projects do you have in the works?
The Johnstown Flood book, the quest book about traveling America’s Rivers, a book my dad wrote about his experiences in World War I that I’d like to edit and expand, maybe a story based on the life of one of my great-grandmothers, a woman for whom men were a great disappointment. The list could go on for some time. This is just a few.

For more information on Judith Redline Coopey and her writing, check out her Web site.
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt (
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Friday Speak Out!: The Naysayers, Guest Post by Holli Moncrieff

Friday, August 27, 2010
The Naysayers

by Holli Moncrieff

Dear readers,

What's your reaction to the word "can't"? If someone tells you that you can't do something, do you believe him? Or does a stubborn streak kick in from out of nowhere, making you more determined than ever to prove that person wrong?

One sad fact of life is that there will always be naysayers in the world. When everyone else is encouraging you to dream big, the naysayer will point out all the reasons that your goals are impossible. And sadly, we usually remember the naysayer's words much longer than we will recall any positive feedback or encouragement. It's human nature.

But what if we can use the naysayers in our lives to motivate us? To give us that extra push to achieve exactly what they said we couldn't do? Wouldn't that be the best possible scenario?

Trouble is, sometimes plain old negativity is painted as helpful advice. When we're nervous or lack experience, it's natural to listen to The Voice of Wisdom. Here's a rule of thumb I've learned: if that wise sage is telling you why it's unrealistic/not in your best interest/too difficult/challenging/expensive/unnecessary to do something you really want to do, he's a naysayer. Even if it seems like he really knows what he's talking about.

I wish I'd known this when I listened to my high school English teacher, who told me I couldn't possibly be a psychologist, steering me towards journalism. Making writing my day job has been a move I've regretted ever since, but I was young and naive, so I thought my teacher knew better. Knew my own capabilities better than I did! I wouldn't make that same mistake today.

When I first started Making the Cut, I was excited. I shared the news with a fitness-minded co-worker, who promptly replied that it is very difficult for women to develop defined arms. This is something I've never had a problem with, so I was thinking that I could safely file that remark in the "Nothing to Do With Me" file, when my co-worker went on to comment, "look at you, for instance. Your arms aren't defined."

Ouch. Well, they certainly used to be. And they will be again! Rather than deflating me, her words inspired me. After most of Jillian's exercises, I've done extra work on my arms to prove my co-worker wrong. Is it silly to change one's behavior on the strength of an off-hand comment? Maybe, but I say there's nothing wrong with that if it inspires you to be better.

I was told by many a well-meaning local writer that I'd never get a New York agent. Well, I did. Yes, I had to terminate her services, but that doesn't mean I won't get another one when and if I need her/him. I've been told it would be easier to give up on my dream of being a full-time author. "Why don't you just publish your book with (insert name of small local non-profit publisher here)? After all, your first novel is not going to be a bestseller."

Oh really? Good thing Andrew Davidson never paid heed to that kind of crap, or he'd be collecting royalty checks for twenty bucks instead of signing million dollar deals. I'm not Davidson, but I don't intend to listen to it, either.

Let's face it: the most powerful, consistent naysayer of all is in our own heads. It's the nagging voice that tells us we're doomed to fail. Even the most confident among us struggle with self-doubt now and then...they just don't give into it.

The most obvious solution to the problem with naysayers is to surround ourselves with positive people, and distance ourselves from anyone who isn't. But that isn't always realistic. And sometimes, like in the case of my co-worker, an otherwise good friend can slip up and say something unintentionally hurtful. Instead, let's use the naysayers' words against them: as motivation to push us even closer toward our dreams! You know what they say: living well is the best revenge. And I for one intend to live extremely well. I hope that you do, too.

* * *

An award-winning writer, Holli Moncrieff has over twelve years of journalism experience. She has published hundreds of articles in national newspapers and magazines, including the Globe and Mail, Flare, and Chatelaine. Her blog, A Life Less Ordinary (, is about her journey to publish a novel and compete in her first muay thai kickboxing fight.


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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The Interview Conundrum

Thursday, August 26, 2010
A funny thing happened today during an interview.

I'm working on a piece for the local newspaper about an anniversary celebration for an establishment. After getting "yes" and "no" answers to my thought-provoking, open-ended questions, I asked if I could speak with a media liaison. I believe I was introduced to the secretary, but I'm not sure. Our conversation went something like this:

Question #1 - How many participants for "x" event?
Answer #1 - 52.

Question #2 - Any former CEO's attending?
Answer #2 - I can't say.

Question #3 - How many guests are you anticipating?
Answer #3 - I don't know. Maybe 200.
Reply #3 - Aren't reservations required? Is a count available from that list?
Answer #3 - I can't say. Maybe. I guess I don't know.

Question #4 - What will be the highlight?
Reply#4 - Gee, I don't know. You pick or make one up.

Make one up? As a journalist, I cringed at the last reply.

Interviews are tough enough. But what's a reporter/journalist/writer to do when you aren't getting the responses you need?

Rephrase your questions.
Find another angle.
Dig deeper.
Search for another source.

But never give up.

LuAnn met her deadline and didn't let an unfortunate interview stand in the way. Read more of her work at
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The Material’s Out There

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
By Jill Earl

"The material's out there, a calm lake waiting for us to dive in." - Beverly Lowry

This quote will become part of my go-to list for inspiration during those “What the heck do I write about?” moments when I’m looking for something---anything---to jumpstart my thinking. It causes me to remember this: The material is out there.

One time the material came during the walk I thought I needed to clear my head. I thought of a little tweak I could add to my travel article to finish it off nicely.

Another time I found material through the pages of old fashion magazines at the library. Now I had an idea of what my characters’ dress from a long-past decade would look like, helping with the consistency of my short fiction.

Still another time, I discovered material as I watched a movie. Inspired, I went to the kitchen and fixed dinner. The results? A delicious meal, and a post on inspiration that appeared here on the Muffin.

In order for my writing to get the place it needs to be, I have to find the material, dive in to sort and analyze it, and work to transform it into that piece of short fiction, a blog post, a book or whatever. Stir up some ripples in the lake, if you will.

Next time I begin to lament about not having anything to write about, I’ll glance at the quote above, then, take a breath and dive in.

How about you? Ready to make some ripples in your calm lake?
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The Strength of a Writer's Village

Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Speaking to a friend the other day, we laughed at our unlikely friendship. We are compatible, but we tend to speak about work a lot. We're both writers, but in separate areas of the field. We both have clients, so we exchange tips about chasing down a check or how to write a proposal. But one area where we diverge is that I'm always hoping to shift my client base that of loyal readers. Book readers of my fiction. It's something she politely listens to, but she has no interest in becoming a fiction writer and so those discussions tend to be more one-sided.

The more I return fiction writing into my daily ritual, the more find myself seeking like-minded people with whom I can have the fiction-based two-sided conversations. I had reveled in it as an MFA student and I am now fortunate to know some talented and published writers. I can seek them out and speak to them about fiction and agents and the business of publishing. But many of them have become successful in their writing careers and don't need to cobble together other jobs. Often when I try to explain the article writing-blogging-editing-coaching-copywriting existence I have, the conversations tend to peter out.

I used to take the one-sided conversations a little personally (as in: it's me and I need to work on my conversational skills). Then, when I had lunch the other day with a former newspaper colleague I came to a third understanding.

I'm still collecting my village (or support network, if you prefer) of friends that I can speak to about well as writing as a business. A couple days after the lunch, that friend spoke to me about a couple items we had talked about. We crossed over both areas--fiction and business writing. It has made a world of difference to make the connection.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying any of my friends are not as good a friend because they have one focus over another. I can enjoy each friend for strengths, but I know that sometimes I need the friend who understands fighting the pull of my novel's narrative when I have a 50-page corporate project due. And for the first and second groups of friends, I don't have to feel I have to work on my conversational skills. I can concentrate on the areas we can share, without feeling I've led them down a one-way street.

In your writing career, have you found a village of friends you can discuss your work with? How did it make you feel? Or do you find writing is entirely a solitary endeavor? Or that the writing village exists online now--without a need for in-person interaction? If you haven't found your writer's village, do you think it is important to do so?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a North Carolina-based writer-blogger-editor-coach-copywriter.
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Margo Candela, author of Good-bye To All That, launches her blog tour!

Monday, August 23, 2010

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Margo Candela's husband owes her six months...preferably on a tropical island sipping margaritas. The deal was: she had three years to write her first novel Underneath It All and find a publisher. She signed the book contract at 2 1/2 years so she still has six months coming to her. She's been musing over a few brochures of Fiji.

Of course, Underneath It All wasn't her first novel. Her first was a romance novel spoof she wrote at age 15 on an antique typewriter she paid $20 for--actually, her mom paid $20. Sadly, Wenchhead and the Isle of Evil Men was never published. Do you think it was the title?

In between Wenchhead and the Isle of Evil Men and Good-bye To All That, Margo enjoyed a trip to magazine land where she wrote articles on everything from extreme sports to computer hardware to plushies (people who are really into stuffed Shh, don't tell Margo's mom about the last one. She might want the $20 or the antique typewriter back!

When she's not writing, Margo vacuums. It's her secret solution to writer's block; and when she hits the NY Times bestseller list, Margo dreams of buying a Dyson DC 25 Animal. And shoes. Ask her about the black heels on the cover of Good-bye To All That.

Margo Candela was born and raised in Northeast Los Angeles. She moved to San Francisco to attend college and ended up staying for a decade before moving back home in 2005. Her first three novels, More Than This (Touchstone, Aug. 2008), Life Over Easy (Kensington, Oct. 2007), and Underneath It All (Kensington, Jan. 2007) are set in San Francisco. More Than This was a Target stores Breakout Book and an American Association of Publishers national book club selection at Borders Books with Las Comadres. Good-bye To All That (Touchstone, July 2010) is her first novel set in Los Angeles and is the only novel picked by Los Angeles Magazine for its 2010 Best of L.A. list.

Margo's websites:

Good-bye To All That

By Margo Candela

When her Hollywood career goes haywire, a young woman must say good-bye to all that...or must she?

Raquel Azorian has worked her way from temp to executive assistant and is this close to a promotion to junior marketing exec at Belmore Corporation, the media behemoth she's devoted herself to. She's learned to play the Hollywood game--navigate office politics, schmooze the right people, avoid the wrong ones, and maintain a sense of decorum even in the craziest of times. All she needs is for her boss to sign her promotion memo. Instead of putting pen to paper, he suffers a very public meltdown that puts not only his professional future but also Raquel's on the line.

Getting to the next rung on the Belmore ladder will require every ounce of focus, but that's not going to be easy. Raquel's mom has decided to leave her husband and move into Raquel's apartment, and her older brother seems to be sinking deeper and deeper into depression. Raquel has to keep her job, stop her parents from divorcing, and save her brother. In the chaos of juggling too much, she finally reaches a breaking point; there's just not enough time for everyone. She's going to have to choose--success at work or happiness at home. But then a chance encounter at a bookstore cafe leads Raquel to start planning her own Hollywood ending...on her own terms.

Genre: Chick lit
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Touchstone (July 2010)
ISBN: 1416571353

Good-bye To All That is available through, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and both chain and independent bookstores nation wide.

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Margo Candela's novel, Good-bye To All That, 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: Welcome, Margo! We're thrilled to be launching your blog tour today. I've always been interested in book dedications. Could you tell us who the mysterious Monica in your dedication is and what part she played in your writing Good-bye To All That?

Margo: Monica is my younger sister and she saved my butt during an intense rewrite of Good-bye To All That. I had five weeks to make it happen and she read each of my chapters as I finished them so that I could focus on the next. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have gotten through it. She did take weekends off and I did ply her with loaf after loaf of homemade banana bread, but she deserved a dedication and then some. It was an extremely stressful way to write a book and I wouldn't suggest it to anyone, but it did teach me a lot about myself as a writer and what I could accomplish when I was 100 percent focused on getting the job done under a tight deadline.

WOW: I've read that family and friends shouldn't be reading your first drafts. After all, aren't sisters supposed to love everything we write? Is it difficult to hear criticism from people so close to you?

Margo: There comes a point where I, as the writer, can no longer read what I've written. When I reach that point, I know it's time to ask the few people who I trust for their honest opinions. I always ask them to read as a reader, not as my friend, sister or fellow writer. I need to know what works and what doesn't. My friend Paula gives excellent notes because her brain is just amazing. I trust her opinion implicitly. My editor, Sulay Hernandez, is also a genius at boiling things down. She doesn't overwhelm me with details, she just points me in the right direction. But in the end, it's up to me to make sure that the final draft is as good as it can be and that takes a lot of revising and being pragmatic. The point is not to entertain myself as a writer (this is what my blog is for), but to write a book readers will enjoy.

WOW: What do your readers help you with? Do they influence major things like plot line or are they more technical: grammar, dialogue?

Margo: I love writing dialogue and I've usually figured out the plot by the time I've started writing. What I usually need to hear is if they liked it or not. And if it's not, I have to figure out why and how to fix it. My sister Monica is my go-to gal for grammar questions. I know I drive her crazy sometimes, but she knows I majored in journalism instead of English for a reason.

I also have a deep respect for copy editors. I am a messy writer, even when I get to the turn-in stage. What they do, going through a manuscript line by line is beyond my skill set. I try to be very careful because I don't want to make their jobs harder than it already is, but I always miss things and I'm grateful there's someone out there to catch my mistakes.

WOW: Do you have a group of writers who help you with your work?

Margo: I have a group of friends who I talk writing with. It started with my first group in San Francisco where we'd gather at a cafe and commiserate. I joined another group when I moved to L.A. and we've become friends who just meet to talk. We talk writing, we talk about life and we talk about life as a writer. For me that's way more important than critiquing. The writing I can usually figure out myself with some good editing notes, it's the rest of the stuff I need to be talked through. I keep in touch with them through email and we see each other when we can. Good friends are hard to find and good friends who understand you are even more rare.

WOW: How long did it take you to complete Good-bye To All That from the research to the first word through the editing to completed book? Which takes the longest: research, writing, or editing?

Margo: I wrote Good-bye To All That in stages. At one point, I stopped and started another book which I convinced my editor would be much better than Good-bye To All That. Then I back-tracked and finished it. (My editor is very a point. I know I've cashed that chip in and can't ever do that again.) I need to write a few drafts before a book feels right. I think I wrote about three or four versions of Good-bye To All That before it got to where it needed to be. If I leave out the time I spent staring at the wall or working on that other book, I think it took me about 9 months with most of the work taking place in five weeks during the fall of 2009.

WOW: I bet your sister is relieved to hear you won't be doing the five-week marathon writing/editing session again! So, tell us about your next project.

Margo: I'm trying to decide between two ideas, both set in Los Angeles and involving women who work on the periphery of the entertainment industry. One is fast and funny like Good-bye To All That and the other is a bit more like my third novel More Than This which is my version of a love story. As soon as I decide, with help from my editor, I'll get back to doing this novel-writing thing all over again.

WOW: Can we vote? I'd love to see another fast and funny novel. I couldn't put Good-bye To All That down. Thanks, Margo, for a great peek into your writing life. Maybe next time we'll get that recipe for your famous banana bread!

Want to join Margo Candela 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!

August 23, 2010 Monday
Margo Candela will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of Margo's fun new book!

August 25, 2010 Wednesday
Mystee takes a moment to tell you what she thinks of Margo Candela's latest novel, Good-bye To All That. Then, Margo takes over for her guest post.

August 27, 2010 Friday
Do you like surprises? Author Margo Candela will be surprising readers of Lori's Reading Corner with a guest post. She'll also be giving away a copy of her latest novel, Good-bye To All That.

August 30, 2010 Monday
What do writers do when they aren't writing? Novelist Margo Candela gives us a peek at the writer's life (and cleaning habits) today on Caroline Clemmons' blog. She'll also be giving away a copy of her latest novel Good-bye To All That.

September 1, 2010 Tuesday
Margo Candela is stopping by Mason Canyon to tell us why reading and writing chick lit didn't ruin her life. She's also giving away a copy of her latest novel Good-bye To All That.

September 3, 2010 Thursday
Come on by for an interview with Margo Candela and enter to win Margo's latest novel Good-bye To All That.

September 7, 2010 Tuesday
When did chick-lit start? How has it changed? What will it become? Chick-lit author Margo Candela will be at Writer Unboxed answering all those questions and giving away a copy of her latest novel Good-bye To All That.

September 9, 2010 Thursday
Stop by for an audio interview with novelist Margo Candela and a chance to win her latest book!

September 10, 2010 Friday
Writing a book can make you crazy! Margo Candela, who just released her fourth novel, tells us how to stay on the side of sanity and still finish your book. There will also be a review of her latest novel Good-bye To All That and two copies are being given away!

September 13, 2010 Monday
Stop by for Mary Jo's interview with Margo Candela and a chance to win her latest book Good-bye To All That.

September 15, 2010 Wednesday
Stop by to learn what author Margo Candela thinks about the label chick lit, and tell us what you think about all the micro-niches publishers are assigning books. You also have a chance to win Good-bye To All That!

September 16, 2010 Thursday
Margo Candela stops by Meryl's Notes to share her writing advice with readers today!

September 17, 2010 Friday
Don't miss a great interview with Margo Candela at Word Hustler today and an opportunity to win her latest novel Good-bye To All That!

September 20, 2010 Monday
Margo Candela, author of the novel Good-bye To All That, discusses writing about sex and romance without a punchline. Not to miss!

To view all of our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

If you have a blog or website and would like to host Margo Candela or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

And be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Margo Candela's novel Good-bye To All That! And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!
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Procrastinating? Not Motivated? Get To The Core (Belief) Of The Problem.

Sunday, August 22, 2010
For months now I have been trying to finish a short story, actually, I haven’t even started—I have a basic outline. You wouldn’t believe the disturbances that have come between me and that project…from writer’s block to sick parents to a swarm of bees; it would be laughable if it wasn’t so frustrating. For awhile I toyed with the idea that there was a menacing writing-demon wreaking havoc with my project; I finally had to admit to myself that it all came down to self-sabotage by my internal belief system…my false beliefs.

These false beliefs often show themselves through our self-talk, which is good because then we can recognize the self-judgment and work with it. But sometimes, as in this case, they sneakily manifest through obstacles or disturbances seemingly out of our control. Other times they hide; we convince ourselves that we are making progress because we are busy doing writerly things, yet we never quite get to that one project…that next goal.

These deep seated beliefs are what back up our self-judgments. They are irrational, emotional and usually fear based. Some examples are:
My family will no longer accept me if I am not like them (fear of abandonment).
Pursuing my own dream is selfish (fear of rejection).

Because they are so deeply held finding these core beliefs requires patience and determination. It takes courage to challenge the unspoken rules and the limits you have previously accepted. It takes a desire and a willingness to break out of that old skin, even if the process is uncomfortable. But once you bring that false belief out of the subconscious and into the conscious mind you can change it, graduate from it, and grow beyond those previously set limits into the life that is waiting for you—the life you deserve—and the person you are meant to be.
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Friday Speak Out!: Get in the Game, Guest Post by Julie Anne Lindsey

Friday, August 20, 2010
Get in the Game

by Julie Anne Lindsey

For every thoughtful commenter on this board, there are probably more than 50 regular lurkers. I know this because I was one of them. While there is value in lurking, there is also a season for it. Eventually though, the time comes to get out of the shadows and get involved.
Initially, lurking allows new writers to learn. We learn about the publishing culture, about ways to succeed or fail, how to write a query, and how to research an agent, and then stalk them successfully. Those are all valuable lessons for a writer, but the problem comes when we eventually learn every nuance, fear and dream of our favorite agent crush, but they never learn a single thing about us.

Imagine that you are an agent reading hundreds of queries day after day. It would become very difficult to really think about the people on the other side of those queries, though I’m sure that agents do try. Now, think about this, the agent could get to the bottom of your query and see your name, and a light bulb could go on. What if she recognized it? That agent could say, “Awesome Aspiring Writer, I know her. That’s the writer who regularly adds profound inspiration and insightful comments to my blog posts,” or “Awesome Aspiring Writer, I’ve seen her blog. That girl just makes me smile.” Now, the agent may be inclined to give the practically anonymous query one more read, maybe even with a bias towards a personality that she already knows she could work with. This is a wonderful side effect of a good web presence. Wouldn’t you like to have that scenario unfold? I would.

You see, there is a time for lurking, and learning, but there is also a time to step out and make a name for yourself. So, I ask you, “Isn’t it time to get in the game?” Speak out Fridays at Wow! is just one fabulous opportunity for unpublished authors speak up. So, whip up a post for consideration here, take a deep breath, and send it. Take a chance. You’ve earned it. Get in the game.

* * *

Julie Anne Lindsey is a wife, a homeschooling mother of 3, and all around caffeine addict. She is an unpublished author, avid reader and obsessive writer. Julie is blogging her journey to publication at Musings from the Slush Pile, where she also shares personal experience, book reviews and opening chapters from her works.

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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A Proactive Approach to Promoting Your Writing

Thursday, August 19, 2010
You may have just written the next greatest novel in the world, but if no one has ever heard about it, no one will ever read it.

It is a common misconception that once your book is written and published it’s all downhill from there. This is hardly ever true. In fact, for most writers, this is where the hardest work begins. You, as a writer, love to write, feel comfortable spending many hours alone behind your computer. But after completing that novel, it’s time to take a step away from your desk and show your smiling face to the public.

Book Signings

Book signings are a great way to get your name and your book out into the public. Unless you are already well-known and have customers and fans lining up to buy your book, it’s unlikely that a book signing will generate a lot of money. Money, however, is not the sole purpose of a book signing. Signings are a cheap and easy way to promote yourself and your book. They most often happen at bookstores, but could be hosted by many other venues.

School Visits

If your books are appropriate for school age children, consider speaking in schools, running workshops for students, or just asking a school to host a book signing. This is another great way to promote yourself and your book. You can begin by volunteering to speak to students at your alma mater. If this visit is successful, your name will travel by word-of-mouth to other educators and school districts and you will soon have several visits under your belt.

Library visits, for schools or public libraries, are another useful option.

If your book is not appropriate for school-age children, you could contact your college or local colleges about setting up an event or book signing.

Community Forums

Other places to consider speaking are local community groups such as Rotary. Also consider audiences specific to your book. For example, did you write about book about giraffes? Perhaps you could speak or sign at a local zoo. Write a book about a boy who loves baseball? You could contact the president of your local little league association about hosting an event for the little leaguers.

Highlights Foundation hosts a workshop entitled Life in the Spotlight: Author Opportunities after Publication, which “introduces the participants to publicity techniques and the fine points needed to create fruitful relationships with the media, but it offers instruction, practice, and a real-life school experience for each enrollee in the development of public speaking and presentation skills.” Having extra guidance in a workshop like this one as well as the support of other published writers goes a long way.

You are a writer, you are creative. Put some of your creative energy into motion by setting up events to promote yourself and your book.

How have you creatively promoted your writing?

by: Anne Greenawalt (
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Write Your Book in Five Days: The Tom Bird Method

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Besides being the author of 21 books, best-selling author Tom Bird has devoted himself to delivering the method he designed, which has led to his success, to as many aspiring authors as possible. A combination literary midwife and book whisperer, Tom says that what he shares transforms aspiring writers into published authors. Recently, he has become best known as the architect of his "Write Your Book in 5 Days Retreat" and his "Publish Now" program, which takes an author from finished manuscript to published and internationally distributed book in as little as three days.

WOW: Tom, your programs sound amazing! Tell us about your writing retreat, "Write Your Book in 5 Days." If a writer signs up for one of these retreats, what can she expect?

TOM: In my "Write Your Book in 5 Days Retreat," the results are multifaceted. Here's what an attendee can expect to receive.

1) To have any type or sort of writers' block, which may be inhabiting their efforts--even in the slightest way, cleared immediately. Not only will any writers' block be cleared, but also they will be offered basic, proven skills to make sure they never get it again, or if they do, how to immediately rid themselves of it on their own.

2) Each attendee is schooled in how to self induce, at any time, her own access to the deepest level of her creativity and literary voice.

3) If she follows the methods which are shared, each attendee walks away with a completed manuscript at the end of the five days and with a complete understanding of how to reproduce the same exact experience at home on her own.

4) Each attendee will have literary agents interested in representing her book by no later than a few days after the retreat. In fact, during one retreat last October, those in attendance had over 1500 offers (cumulatively) from literary agents, who sought to potentially represent their first books.

WOW: Sounds great--what a method! But, is it really possible to write a book that quickly? How many words are these books, and do retreat members do research work before they arrive?

TOM: In each retreat, everyone walks in with that same exact question in their minds, and everyone leaves with a completed manuscript. The average length of the books written at the retreat are 60,000 words.

WOW: Thanks for the details. You also have a stay-at-home retreat option. Who is this a good option for and how does it work?

TOM: The stay-at-home retreat offers the same exact results as the "Write Your Book in 5 Days" retreat. The big difference is that the attendee is asked to write 2 to 3 hours a day over the course of a month as opposed to the 45 hours spread out over the 5 days.

WOW: Two to three hours a day definitely sounds doable--your retreat is giving writers some discipline! Finding an agent is another task many writers face and want to run away screaming. How do you help your authors with this task? Do you offer classes on finding an agent?

TOM: Finding an agent is not nearly as difficult as so many writers make it out to be. In fact, over the last 25 years, my authors, whom I work with, have over 20 literary agents interested in representing their work within a few weeks. To achieve this level of success, you first have to write a dynamic query letter, which very few people know how to do. Obviously, I recommend using my system for doing so, since it is far and away the one I have seen garner the most success.

Then, after the query letter, it is important to submit it to as many agents as possible. The more agents, who are then interested, the more "market value" you have in their eyes and the better job they obviously do in representing your work. Without some sort of "market value," most writers are doomed to failure.

I do offer online classes on getting published and submitting query letters. To get more information on my next upcoming classes, authors can either check out my website,, or e-mail me at TomBird (at) (Replace the at with @.)

The most dramatic way that I help authors secure the agent of their dreams, though, is through my "Selective Guide to Literary Agents Database," which offers access to the top agents in the world at a click of their mouse. It is updated weekly to keep it void of the frauds that so litter this arena, and it has over 2,200 agents listed on it. If someone is interested in knowing more about it, I would suggest that they visit my website and take a tour of it through the 6-minute introductory video. At present, a year subscription to the guide is $289.00. There are cheaper, much less effective ways to go about getting an agent; but if getting published by a big name, conventional publisher is your goal, then you can't afford to go with anything less than what my database has to offer.

WOW: The database sounds awesome and like a wonderful product for writers. I hear the question all the time: "How do I even know which agent to submit to?" So, there's definitely a need for an agent database. Some of your classes are free. What type of free classes do you offer? What's the format for these classes?

TOM: I offer a wide array of free Internet classes. I suggest that anyone who may be interested in attending them either check out my website for a listing of them on a consistent basis, or better yet, subscribe to my mailing list to get up-to-date notices of what classes I will be offering and when.

WOW: Thanks for all the information about your classes and what you have to offer writers. Please tell us about your latest book, The Call of the Writer's Craft. Who will this book help, and what will it help writers do?

TOM: My latest book, which sells for only $12.95, is for anyone who wants to write or publish for any reason or for anyone who is considering joining one of my retreats. It is the ultimate book on The Tom Bird Method for both writing and publishing and should be read by anyone who seeks to succeed as a published author.

WOW: Tom, thank you so much for sharing this information with us today. Here's to much writing success for all!

interview conducted by Margo L. Dill,
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Back to School Tips for Students and Writers

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
School bells began ringing yesterday in this area. In other states, the kiddos will be learning the 3 R's after Labor Day. If you have children or grandchildren at home, you can adapt some back-to-school tips to your routine, too.

  • Read more. Even before school begins, it's good to get students into an established reading routine. Good students are good readers. Good readers make good writers. Apply this to your situation: how much time do you set aside for reading every day? And I'm not talking about the latest manuscript of yours you are polishing. Homework assignment: Set a goal to read a certain number of pages, chapters or for a period of time each day. Read with your student, too.
  • Go to bed. Getting your student into a bedtime routine can be difficult, but it ultimately helps prepare them for the upcoming day. The body needs rest. Apply this to your situation: what's your bedtime routine? Do you stay up until the wee hours of the morning and then bolt (or drag) from bed at the crack of dawn? When do you unplug from technology and allow your body to rest? Homework assignment: Get into a bedtime routine and stick to it. Your energy levels will be boosted and that will improve your writing.
  • Zero in on tasks. Distractions - cell phones, MP3 players, computers, TV - prevent students from focusing on assignments. Do they interrupt your writing time? Homework assignment: Unplug and write. It's that simple.

Back-to-school tips for students can easily be applied to a writer's life. Try these tips to make your writing improve and your productivity increase.

by LuAnn Schindler. Want to read more of LuAnn's articles? Read her weekly newspaper column about life in Nebraska at or follow her on twitter @luannschindler.

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Who Will Stop You?

Monday, August 16, 2010
By Jill Earl

"It isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me." - Ayn Rand

The latest rejection letter. A firm ‘no’ on that promising book proposal. The unsupportive spouse and kids. We encounter obstacles to our writing constantly. It’s so tempting to chuck it all and go back to our former writing-free lives, isn’t it?

Only problem? Writing’s become a part of you, sunken so deep inside that the only way it can escape is through that pen scribbling across paper---or through the blinking words appearing on the screen. So you keep researching markets and job leads, creating articles, submitting to contests, composing poetry, writing books. And the income’s coming in, sometimes steady, sometimes not.

Then a random, “You’re still at that little writing thing of yours?” or something equally condescending throws you. Or one of the above scenarios rocks your world. What do you do now?

Here’s the thing. There will always be naysayers along your writer’s journey, especially when you’re feeling your lowest. Question is, who will you let stop you?

Them? Or you? How about neither? It’s your call, so choose wisely.

Your writing future depends upon it.
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Technology: The Hiccup in the Road to Being Read

Sunday, August 15, 2010
So, admittedly, I'm late posting this entry. It took my laptop a little longer than usual to warm up today.
For months, my writing has been steadily building, becoming more and more reliant on technology. I don't know about you, but I've come to rely on technology so much that my writing would be severely hampered without my computers.
I'm of the era that, although my college classmates had computers, I didn't see the need until I had my 100-page senior thesis to write. Remind me, how did they write long form without the computer? By the time I graduated, I fear I had forgotten. Plus, by then, I was dating a computer science graduate.
Bring on the technology revolution!
Until recently.
For the past several months, I've limped along with a laptop that seems to be running on its own leisurely time and pace. Generally, I wake up at 5 a.m., start my laptop, make and eat my breakfast and my tea before my technology is ready to go. My husband brought home a computer from work that no one was using. I now know why. While no one claims that it happened to them, with this computer, I've encountered more so-called "blue screens of death" than I care to remember. So many, that I've grown attracted to the bright blue and am thinking I should consider a color change to my walls to reflect my lack of fear.
Bring on the blue screens!
I can interview someone by telephone. I can take notes, make lists and doodle with my trusty pen and paper. I can write my stories and take notes long-hand. I can outline my novels on index cards. But all of it is for nothing if I can't get the information to the computer.
I know I can be creative without a computer. I just can't be as fast...or as wide read...or, ahem, paid, without using a computer.
I know that I can't do without e-mails for keeping in touch with friends, family and clients.
But for a few weekend mornings, I'd like to be able to make the decision (not have it made for me by my technology) to sit down to write. Fueled by my creativity and my pen and paper, some days I wish I could just write without thinking about Internet connections.
How about you? Do love technology so much that you're not able to write without it? Or do you look back, wistfully, wishing to tap into your creativity and share your writing with others without having to jump-start your laptop. I know I do.
Especially today.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and writer living near the North Carolina coast.
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Smart Phones and Apps that Aide Writers

Saturday, August 14, 2010
There's an app for that. The smart phones do so much more than make calls or connect to the internet.  The smart phone is expanding the laptop (a writer's best tool). There's an abundance of apps to make the writer's life easier and more productive.

On The Go-Lightning Fast Service 

Writers can't always take a laptop with us, but most of them keep their cell phones close by. The speed with which the phone connects to the internet is amazing. Emails on the fly, and access to social media sites day or night makes the smart phone a must have tool for writers. It's easy to get bogged down by the massive amounts of emails that are received. With the addition of Facebook, Twitter and other social media groups, emails grow faster than stars popping out on a clear night.   Each new message comes with an audible nudge, like saying "Droid". The email can be handled at a convenient time, view it, delete it or file it.  

Access to Social Media
After the smart phone notifies the user of a new entry from the social media service she has subscribed to, it makes an easy transition from email to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or any other site the writer has joined.

Synchronizing an online calendar with your phone makes it easy to add and remove entries. It's a great way to stay on top of writing schedules. The Muffin's calendar is a free calendar provided by Google. Sync several calendars together add icons and reminders. The email reminder is very useful. Writing schedules, events, appointments and birthdays reside on the same calendar.  

News and Weather Updates
Read the latest updates from sites you subscribe to using RSS. Google reader is accessible to the pc and the phone.  
In order to expand their horizons, writers need to be aware of current events and the news. Traveling to a writer's conference or taking your books in for a signing? What's the weather going to be doing in that area?

Office Programs
Read PDF's, make out invoices, edit documents and perform other office tasks right from the phone.

Download books and articles to smart phone apps like the Kindle or Google reader. The color or of the screen and the size of the print can be adjusted.

Early morning on the riverbank with the fog clinging to cattails, storm clouds rolling in like dust raised by a thousand buffalos or a meadow sprinkled with yellow flowers are just a few scenarios that could make a great setting for a story. How wonderful to snap a photo, save it, email it or post it immediately to a social media. There are free sights that the photos upload to for safe storage and easy access when the writer needs to refresh her mind.

Music sets the perfect mood for work or relaxation. Subscriptions to internet radio, YouTube or other places that supply music steam easily to the smart phone.
Voice Notes Recorder
Of all the apps, the Voice recorder is the most valuable for recording ideas, notes, character studies and location descriptions. Read articles or chapters into the voice recorder to hear the rhythm of the writing. Name the voice notes and add typed notes in the description to aide in recall. The use of this app is as vast as the sky.

This is just a sampling of the power behind the smart phones. With a little research, apps as vast as the universe can be found either on a pc, laptop or with internet access from the phone. New apps are created every day. In addition, calls to a publisher, editor or critique partner can be placed from the cell phone.

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