What I've Learned Working on a Weekly Newspaper

Saturday, November 30, 2013
Writing for a weekly newspaper provides valuable lessons for writers of all genres.
My first writing break came when I was in high school. The local weekly newspaper asked if I would write a first-person sports feature about a Univeristy of Nebraska football player who was friends with my family.

I was 16 years old, determined to go to law school and eventually, write the Great American Novel.

Fast forward four decades. I'm a full-time freelancer, working the regional beat for the area's daily  newspaper. I write for other publications, too, but when you write from the comforts of your home office, you develop your own rhythm.

In July, the local weekly (which owns three weekly papers covering four communities) asked if I could cover a few stories. In November, I was named managing news editor of the Clearwater Record-Ewing News. Now, these two towns are separated by approximately eight miles on the highway. One has a population of approximately 387; the other, 419, based on 2010 census records.

Working on this weekly newspaper has taught and reminded me of several key lessons that are pertinent to writers of any genre.

  • Know and use the stylebook. No matter what publication I write for, they use a specific stylebook (AP, CMS, etc.) and some take it to another level and have their own stylebook based on the original. If you are unsure of a writing rule, use the stylebook. It will make the proofreader's job so much easier!
  • Determine your audience. The weekly has a wide age range of readers. We cover school events of all sorts, we cover town news stories (think human interest), and we cover what I consider breaking news items - fires, accidents, etc. Since a locally-owned weekly paper is the core news source representing the town, it's important to include a wide variety of coverage.
  • Build your online presence. Have a website, update it frequently, and use social media to promote your work.
  • Network, network, network. Since I live near both communities, I knew a number of "officials" from the area, like town clerks, police and fire chiefs, school officials. Now, I talk with school officials weekly to receive updates. I know who to call for information if there's a fire on Thanksgiving Day or if the town is holding a special election. Keeping those communication lines is important, not only for the current story, but for future reporting.
  • Be accurate. It's a basic rule of Journalism 101: Check and double check facts. 
  • Creativity counts. Even if you're covering the city council meeting, you can use creative lede to draw reader attention.
  • Localize a national news story. Application of journalism at its finest. Look for a local angle to national headlines. When you personalize reporting, you increase readership. And trust me, there's been a lot of national news lately that affects everyone. 
Writing for a weekly has made me a better writer. Perhaps it's the perfectionist in me, but I used to agonize over a story's lede, let it simmer for an hour - or even a day - before I'd commit to the details of the story.

Not any more. Writing for a newspaper has forced me to focus on the immediate story, collect my thoughts, and prioritize. It's a good push for any writer.

You don't have to work at a newspaper to put into practice the lessons I've learned. Apply these principles to your writing and writing career, and you'll notice a difference.

by LuAnn Schindler 
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Friday Speak Out!: Celebrating Success, Guest Post by Kaila Weingarten, M.S.

Friday, November 29, 2013
photo credit: rrmhtmt on flickr
So how does it feel to finally be accepted into a real publication? Validated, for one. Excited and a bit nervous, too. You know the feeling when you hit a big number birthday-and you feel like “That’s it? I thought when I turn ____, I will be grown up. Is that how thirty feels?”

Well, that is sort of how I feel now. That is how I get accepted? I am I really legit? Do I really know what I am doing? Of course, I do. That little voice in the back of my mind tells me to continue writing. However, it’s nice to finally have the proof.

After thirty plus emails, five months (from initiating the idea until acceptance from the editorial board) with my baby born in between, more than fifteen hours, and over four thousand words, my article is ready to be published in a professional early childhood magazine. As both an educator and writer, this has been my goal and dream for a long time. Actually, make that a very long time.

I am a voracious reader, and writing has been a part of my life since I learned how to write. My diaries still make an amusing read, and discovering school compositions bring back fond memories. I won some local writing contests as a child, and write often in my adulthood. Whether for my job (notes, policies, articles for parents) or as freelance jobs, writing is something I savor. It is a treat when I can sit down and write. However, I was waiting for the real thing, which for me meant seeing my name in a big publication--a “grown up” one. I am finally here.

Now the wait starts--it can take twelve to eighteen months for it to be published. I am not partying until the check is in the bank. However, I will keep my champagne glass ready, and a bottle of wine in the fridge. And I definitely will keep on writing!

* * *

Kaila Weingarten, M.S., is an avid reader and writer and a big proponent of high quality, early childhood education. You can view her linkedin profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kaila-weingarten/30/994/90b

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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Writerly Settling ,Exploring, and Giving Thanks

Thursday, November 28, 2013
The Otto Family - (Photo by Olivia Brey of Oh! Photography)
Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours! I was tickled pink to find out I was writing the blog for such a fantastic day; so thank you WOW! for this opportunity! Before I get down to business, I want to tell you a bit about Thanksgiving on our farm. The turkey is stuffed with my mother-in-law's recipe that includes pork raised right here. We have two meats each year and our ham is also raised right here. The potatoes were grown just a few yards from the front door (right next to the clothesline) and the milk in those potatoes is raw from the bulk tank and the eggs in the corn casserole are only hours old. I am thankful for everything that has been provided for us and most of all I am thankful for the family that fills the rooms of our house making It a home.

I was busy preparing for tomorrow’s celebration and as I stood chopping celery and onions, our older children (5 and 6) were discussing the play they participated in at school earlier in the day. The teacher had separated the classes into groups to demonstrate the history of Thanksgiving. My son (5) was in the group of Explorers and my daughter (6) was a Settler. It was exciting to hear the discussion of who did what and their banter inspired today’s post; another thing I am most thankful for – so enjoy!

As writers, we have an opportunity to do our own settling and exploring. It is quite different from the pilgrims during the harvest of 1621…or is it? The Puritans were preparing for winter; they were busy gathering anything they could find, including supplies and food. The Explorers were learning about their new surroundings in Cape Cod and were trying to familiarize themselves with the native plants and animals. Writers are generally found behind a computer as opposed to out in the woods, but aren’t we still gathering information and ideas as well as tools of the trade? Don’t we familiarize ourselves with what is hot and what is not in the writerly world?

I feel I am constantly settling and exploring; asking for feedback and ideas while reading the work of others as I attempt to improve my own story. I want to know what has worked for other authors and what has not. It is my hope to learn from their experience to make my own pilgrimage a success. I mean no disrespect when comparing my writing journey to that of the pilgrims. A pilgrim by definition is someone who travels to a sacred place for religious reasons. I am not physically going anywhere, but my mind and heart travel each time I write and as the words flow to the paper, I feel calm and peaceful. That said, writing is definitely a pilgrimage for me.

Today as I sit down with family and friends and we bow our heads to pray I will be thinking of each of you who I am also thankful for. Thank you to the publishers who have patiently explained things to me. Thank you to my writers group for your encouragement, the laughter, and the awesome snacks! Thank you to the writers who allow me to read and review your works. Thank you to the bloggers who participate enthusiastically in the WOW! Blog Tours. Thank you to Angela and Jodi at WOW! for taking a chance on me. Thank you to each person who reads, comments, and encourages me and others along the way. Thank you to my husband who is my biggest fan. You are all part of my pilgrimage and I couldn’t imagine settling and exploring without you by my side.

If you took the time to read this today, please leave a comment and answer one or all of these questions:

1)      What is a favorite Thanksgiving tradition for you and your family?

2)      How does reading or writing play a role in your life’s journey?

3)      What or Whom are you thankful for today?

Get Involved! (Remember what I said about being thankful for bloggers?) If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com.

Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, three young children (Carmen 6, Andre 5, Breccan 9 weeks), three dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, and over 200 Holsteins. You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/
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A Fictional Finale

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I want to start this post out by saying that when I first began freelancing about 10 years ago, I never imagined myself seriously writing fiction, much less trying to sell any books. Sure, I’ve always had a dream of becoming a novelist, but I really didn’t allow myself to plot out how I would actually make that dream happen.

Fast forward to today, Nov. 27, and I am just a few thousand words away from completing my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month. I’ve always heard people talk about NaNoWriMo and I pretty much scoffed, saying to myself, That’s the worst time of year for me to possibly try to complete a novel! And while that might be true, I also know that I can’t finish a big project such as a novel without some kind of fanfare, so I signed up.

It has not been easy. I got behind on day one of NaNoWriMo because we went out of town to visit friends and I didn’t want to be sitting in their house with my laptop working when we only get to see them once or twice a year. I fell a little more behind because the magazine I edit was going into production, and I needed to write copy and proof the magazine before we went to the printer. Throw into that mix a few other freelance deadlines, and I began wondering around day fifteen if I should just throw in the towel. This past weekend I powered through and with the help of my family, locked myself in my office and almost got caught up on the word count.

As luck would have it, WOW! Put together a “Best of Fiction” issue just in time for this month! I was reading Novel Writing: Choosing a Method That Works Best for You by Margo Dill and it made me think about how I write novels. 

When I wrote my first novel several years ago, I used a method similar to NaNoWriMo where I completed 60,000 words in a month by focusing on a three-act structure. This time around, I’m rewriting that first novel into a YA, so I’ve used the first book as sort of an outline although quite a bit of it has either been cut out or scaled back.

Last November I did my own modified version of NaNoWriMo and completed a first, very rough draft of a middle-grade novel. I am now in the process of submitting it. For that book, I used the “Chapter Summaries” method where I wrote the synopsis and then a few paragraphs about what happened in each chapter and used that as my outline.

This has all been a learning process. I never studied creative writing in college and have participated in my fair share of trial and error. But honestly, I can’t think of a better way to learn. What methods do you use when writing nonfiction or novels?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who blogs at Renee’s Pages.

Drafts, drafts, and more drafts from my first attempt at a novel.
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Blog Hopping: What is it and How to Get Involved

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Once upon a time, there was a children's book blogger (that's me) who was asked to participate in a blog hop. She said, "Yes," because she is always looking for ways to spice up her blog, drive traffic there, and meet new people. Part of the blog hop was finding other bloggers to tag and participate, too. Here's where she ran into a problem. When she would ask her friends in the kingdom of Blogville whether or not they wanted to participate in the blog hop, an overwhelming amount of them responded with, "What is a blog hop?"

So, that blogger decided to write a post about a blog hop to help her fellow bloggers understand what it is and how to get involved if it sounds interesting to you!

First, a blog hop is defined as a group of bloggers posting about the same topic, event, set of questions, book, etc. for a set amount of time. It allows readers to hop from blog to blog to find out more about this topic/book, etc. For example, blog A, B, C, D, and E are all blogging about the new Catching Fire movie and giving away a movie poster sometime during the week that the movie comes out. Readers can read each post that week and enter to win any giveaways.

Most of the time with a blog hop, bloggers have to tag a certain amount of bloggers to participate and put links to these people's blogs on their posts.

Does this sound like something you are interested in? How do you get involved?

1. Create your own blog hop and ask bloggers you know to participate.
2. Visit this site, and find a blog hop you can be a part of: http://www.blogaholicnetwork.com/page/general-blog-hops-and-link-ups
3. There's even a Pinterest page about blog hops! http://www.pinterest.com/bethbryan/blog-hops-to-join/
4. Google "Blog Hops"--you will be amazed at all the resources that pop up!

A blog hop is fun, helps you meet new people outside your circle, and hopefully drives traffic to your blog. If you are interested in trying a blog hop, then don't delay. Look for one you can do during December!

Have you ever participated in a blog hop? How did you like it?

Margo L. Dill is an online instructor for the WOW! Women On Writing classroom. She also owns Editor 911, a freelance editing business, and she is currently having a holiday sale on all editing projects. To find out more, please visit: http://margodill.com/blog/2013/11/20/holiday-specials-editor-911-and-finding-my-place/
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Blog Tour for Times They Were A-Changing by Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire

Monday, November 25, 2013
& giveaway contest!

Just in time for the holidays, Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire launch their anthology Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the '60s and '70s. The book is the perfect gift for opening discussions with friends and family members and illustrating what a powerful time the '60s and '70s truly were.

Forty-eight powerful stories and poems etch in vivid detail breakthrough moments experienced by women during the life-changing era that was the ’60s and ’70s. These women rode the sexual revolution with newfound freedom, struggled for identity in divorce courts and boardrooms, and took political action in street marches. They pushed through the boundaries, trampled the taboos, and felt the pain and joy of new experiences. And finally, here, they tell it like it was.

Through this collection of women’s stories, we celebrate the women of the ’60s and ’70s and the importance of their legacy.

Paperback: 354 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press (Sept. 8, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1938314042
ISBN-13: 978-1938314049

Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ‘60s & ‘70s is available in print and as an e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and She Writes Press and Indie Bound.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Times They Were A-Changing, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes Monday, Dec. 2 at 12:00 EST. We will announce the winner on the same day using the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the editors:

Kate Farrell earned a M.A. from UC Berkeley; taught language arts in high schools, colleges, and universities; founded the Word Weaving storytelling project in collaboration with the California Department of Education with a grant from the Zellerbach Family Fund, and published numerous educational materials. She is founder of Wisdom Has a Voice memoir project and edited Wisdom Has a Voice: Every Daughter’s Memories of Mother (2011). Farrell is president of Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter, a board member of Redwood Branch of the California Writers Club, member of Story Circle Network and National Association of Memoir Writers.

Linda Joy Myers is president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, and the author of four books: Don't Call Me Mother—A Daughter's Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness, The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, and a workbook The Journey of Memoir: The Three Stages of Memoir Writing. Her book Becoming Whole—Writing Your Healing Story was a finalist in ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award. A speaker and award winning author, she co-teaches the program Write Your Memoir in Six Months, and offers editing, coaching, and mentoring for memoir, nonfiction, and fiction. Visit her blog at http://memoriesandmemoirs.com.

Amber Lea Starfire, whose passion is helping others tell their stories, is the author of Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations (2012) and Not the Mother I Remember, due for release in late 2013. A writing teacher and editor, she earned her MFA in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco and is a member of the California Writers Club in Napa and Santa Rosa, the Story Circle Network, National Association of Memoir Writers, and International Association for Journal Writing. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors. Visit www.writingthroughlife.com.

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/TimesTheyWereAChanging

Blog: http://www.timestheywereachanging.com/

Twitter: @womensmemoir60s

----------Interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: It's obvious while reading this book how much work must have gone into the writing, submissions and editing process. Can you take you take us through the making of this anthology? How did the idea emerge and how did you go about finding contributors for the book?

Kate: Linda Joy had wanted to do an anthology of the era for some time, but preferred to produce it as part of a team with professional colleagues who were as moved by the ’60s and ’70s as she was. It was at the Story Circle Network Conference in Austin, Texas, April 2012, where Linda Joy, Kate, and Amber’s minds and memories synchronized. Each of us brought years of experience in editing and publishing to the project and formed an editorial partnership to produce the book.

The anthology theme and subthemes were inspired by political and social history, but we were clear that we didn’t want essays or eyewitness accounts: “I was there at Woodstock…” We wanted to highlight the craft of memoir in creating a time, a place, and a feeling. We were curious to discover how women participated in key movements and events of the time, and how these experiences changed them. Once we developed our editorial guidelines, we were ready to solicit submissions.

Using the submittable.com online service, we combined a contest with an opportunity for publication. The contest allowed us to advertise in publications that featured contests, while the opportunity to be published appealed to a wider reach of writers. We placed ads in venues that catered to women’s writing and memoirs, including WOW! Women on Writing, our niche market, and placed two ads in Poets and Writers. Submissions started slowly and peaked at the deadline with almost 300 blind submissions from across the country.

WOW: Younger generations of readers (such as myself!) might think they won't be able to relate to the issues and topics in this book. Why do you think Times They Were A-Changing is an important read for adults born in the 1980s and 1990s?

Linda Joy: The future is built upon the progress and developments of the past. The ‘60s and '70s created a tsunami of social change and shifts in consciousness. What was acceptable in the past was no longer tolerable: racial prejudice and inequality, the brutality of war, and the idea that women had no voice and no control over their bodies. I’ve heard young women say, “I read about the ‘60s and ‘70s, but it’s just a few lines in a history book. I don’t really know what it was like.” In order to understand the power of those two decades to shift consciousness and political decisions, it’s also important to understand how the world was before all the changes. In this book, you learn how each writer came from where she was raised to become a part of something. The era evolved as each person’s participation helped to create it. The stories take you into the body and minds of each person. You taste the tear gas, smell the fear in the South, and tingle with the joy of freedom on the road.

WOW: I was excited to read essays by each of you in the book. All three of them were very powerful but also very different. How difficult was it to decide which of your own pieces to include in Times They Were A-Changing?

Amber: I had actually written a version of “Altamont” two years ago intending it to be included in my upcoming memoir, Not the Mother I Remember (to be released in January 2014). But I cut it from the memoir when I realized (admitted) it didn’t move the narrative forward. When we editors decided to include our own work in the anthology, I knew right away I’d found a home for this story.

Kate: In San Francisco, the ’70s ushered in many non-political movements that nevertheless sought social change though personal transformation. Though I was fortunate to live in San Francisco from the early ’60s on and experience much of that decade’s counterculture and political activism, I found the ’70s more to my taste. Fewer drugs, less violence held the promise of a peaceful dawning of the Age of Aquarius through conscious practice and spiritual direction.

However, that dream soon faded, as had the political, idealistic dreams of the ‘60s. Greedy, abusive cult leaders, gurus, and madmen attracted followers, true believers who were hungry for self-fulfillment and who gave all, their free will, even their lives to the cult, the Jonestown massacre being the most tragic—spawned in the SF Bay Area.

As submissions to the anthology came in, I noticed none from women who had direct experience of these cult-like groups, and I wanted to add that radical cultural dimension to the book. My vivid recollections of working within Werner Erhard seminar trainings (est) were a rich enough source, but I was hesitant, even afraid, to write about them. Such is the lingering power of a forceful personality. I was encouraged by my co-editors to develop “Getting It” and continue to write the essay as an authentic, first hand experience. How my understanding of est was finally resolved through intense Jungian dream work was a positive counter balance. I remembered that personal insight was a true joy: an inner vision without drugs or a mindless following.

Linda Joy: I had written some versions of “Baptist Girl” before, but was too embarrassed to develop it. This time, having a strict word count helped me to construct the piece so the reader could go back and forth in time to understand my dilemma with breaking away from the past while still being caught in it. The problem with the era was that many of us acted in ways we felt we were supposed to act, but we still hadn’t resolved our deeper issues. In order to understand the era as I experienced it, I have to write about where I came from and the kind of perpetual shock we were all in during those years of protest, violence, and opportunity. I came from a small town that was safe, quiet, and very conservative. The era took us so far away from our roots, it was like being on a 20-year, roller coaster ride. Great in many ways, and tragic in others.

WOW: Amber Lea, your essay “Altamont” is a great example of using rich and sensory details in memoir writing. Do you have any advice for writers struggling to express themselves in such a lyrical fashion, especially when describing events that happened years earlier?

Amber Lea: As my writing teacher and mentor, Lowell Cohn, used to say, “Slow down. Slow way down.” The key to remembering the sensory details central to your story is to focus on the key image—the one that has the most emotional resonance—and then, in your mind’s eye, begin to look around: what did you smell, taste, feel and hear in that moment? Remembering these details triggers additional memories. Also, focusing on your senses other than sight brings you into the physical, in-your-body facet of memory. And I believe that’s where the real power of any story resides.

WOW: Linda Joy, your essay “The Baptist Girl” paints a portrait of a young girl struggling to become a person with a voice to be reckoned with. Since then, you’ve made “finding your voice” your life’s work! You also wrote a blog post for the book discussing how writers can get past their fear of exposing themselves through memoir writing. How do you suggest writers take steps to do that without abandoning a project out of fear of repercussions?

Linda Joy: I still struggle with how to break past the chattering inner critic in my own work. Choose small pieces you can wrap your mind around and get them on the page. You have to tell yourself over and over again that this is your “sh--tty first draft"--thank you Anne Lamott! Keep your work private while you’re working on it. Don’t tell your family you’re writing a memoir. Write all the way through the first draft, which will allow the tough emotions to surface and give you room to be with yourself and your truths. After your feelings have been aired on the page, then you can see what needs to be edited or changed, and then decide how to handle the people you have put in the book. Every writer suffers with this, so you are not alone. Read about the explosions in Pat Conroy’s life after The Great Santini came out—and it was fiction. What made it fiction, he tells us, is that his father was more over the top violent than what he wrote. Every family is unique and only you can decide where your ethics are and how to handle your book and your relationships.

WOW: Kate, your bio talks about your discovery of self-actualization through mediation, yoga, Tai Chi, etc. Can you talk to us a little about how these practices have helped shaped and influence your writing over the years?

Kate: By the beginning of the 1970s, I had become a traditional storyteller, part of the folk art revival that included folksongs, blues, and jazz. It was a groundswell movement that merged in my mind with the other disciplines I pursued. Storytelling techniques in performance are similar to meditating out loud and draw from the universal archetypes espoused in Jungian theory. My storytelling practice was mostly confined to school library work in the San Francisco public elementary schools. Nevertheless, I was able to “hold the space” with only my voice and my inner concentration for audiences of large numbers of at risk, inner city students. Along the way, students learned the elements of story, could retell stories, act them out, and eventually read and write them.

Writing memoir is another way to form a storytelling bond with the listener/reader. The power of sharing through story is easily translated to the printed page. I continue to explore ways that a short memoir piece can combine with archetype to create a universal experience so that images become symbolic in a natural way—another layer of meaning.

WOW: I absolutely love the historical timelines you put together on the book blog under the topic of “themes.” One of the themes in the book is Second Wave Feminism. I’d like to ask each of you if there any women in particular who inspired you to stand up and embrace women’s rights, and what was it about them that inspired you the most?

Kate: Enlarging that question to include women who fought for human rights, and later became active in women’s rights, I have to list Joan Baez, Bettina Aptheker, and Angela Davis as three women who stood large for me.

Joan Baez was a powerful voice that reached millions early in the 60s, part of the coffee house scene, folk music, and poetry. When I first heard her plaintive voice in the song, “House of the Rising Sun,” I identified with its somber, minor chords, and bluesy rendering of the plait of the common prostitute. Along with my college roommates in San Francisco, we learned to play the chords on our shared guitar and sing the lyrics that to me were the first cry of feminism.

Bettina Aptheker was the co-leader of the Free Speech Movement in UC-Berkeley along with Mario Savio; she took the microphone near Sather Gate in such a commanding way that she became an immediate legend to me, a small, articulate young woman who would not back down. Her later speeches against the war in Vietnam and at the trial of Angela Davis were an inspiration.

Angela Davis exemplified all that was powerful in a woman activist: brilliant, beautiful, scholarly, willing to risk her career and fight against a system of control that spanned her academic life, civil rights, and women’s rights. She was the ultimate feminist. All three of these women were historically connected, centered in the SF East Bay.

When my time came to attend UC-Berkeley graduate school in ‘69-‘70, I did not hesitate to participate in the protests against the war. When the campus closed with a student strike in spring 1970 with the invasion of Cambodia, I was one of four leaders (some called us the Four Horsemen) who organized classes off site, rewrote the curriculum for Library Studies graduate school, and sponsored activities in public libraries. We put our degree and tuition on the line to advocate within and without the university for more relevant library services. Of course, 90 percent of my peers were women.

Linda Joy: I loved the folk singer women too—Joan Baez and Judy Collins especially. By the ‘70s, I was reading Anais Nin, whose journals were all the rage, and though we know now she edited them, they were an example of the courage it takes to write openly of very personal things. From Ms. Magazine, which one of my boyfriends tore into shreds, I learned about ideas, power, and the possibility of a fine-tuned political discussion that assumed women had a voice worth listening to. I didn’t know or believe that then. I was taught to be quiet and not make waves, but the era, and the arts, told us we could. Artists were important to me: Eva Hesse’s sculpture, Joan Mitchell’s huge canvases. “The Dinner Party” sculptures by Judy Chicago were mind blowing and brave. The poetry of Denise Levertov and Adrienne Rich changed my life.

WOW: What are some of your favorite memoirs from other writers that you’ve read in the past five years?

Kate: In researching this project over the last two years, I found these three memoirs to be unforgettable—in particular how these gifted, lovely women were often overshadowed by their male counterparts, husbands, or lovers: Joan Baez, And a Voice to Sing With: A Memoir, Deborah Santana, Space between the Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart. Grace Slick, Somebody to Love? A Rock-and-Roll Memoir.

Linda Joy: I inhale books and read everything from fiction, especially historical fiction—based on true stories—to memoirs. I’m reading Pat Conroy’s Death of Santini now, and loved all of Mary Karr’s memoirs, Virginia Woolf’s Moments of Being, and Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

----------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, Nov. 25 (Today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview with Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire and enter to win a copy of the book.

Tuesday, Nov. 26 @ All Things Audry
Learn more about the consciousness-raising movement of the 60s and 70s with this guest post by one of the contributors of Times They Were A-Changing.

Wednesday, Nov. 27 @ Words by Webb
Stop by Words by Webb for a review of Times They Were A-Changing.

Monday, Dec. 2 @ The Memory Writers Network
Jerry Waxler from Memory Writers Network interviews the editors of the anthology Times They Were A-Changing.

Tuesday, Dec. 3 @ Choices
Immerse yourself in the world of 60s Beat culture, poets, folksingers and coffeehouses as part of the Times They Were A-Changing blog tour.

Friday, Dec. 6 @ The Literary Ladies
Find out how the anthology Times They Were A-Changing can engage discussions with younger generations with this guest post.

Monday, Dec. 9 @ Slay the Writer
Read about what Author Trisha Slay thought of Times They Were A-Changing and enter the book giveaway!

Tuesday, Dec. 10 @ Renee's Pages
Want to read an excerpt from Times They Were A-Changing? Renee Roberson will feature one on her blog Renee's Pages and give away one copy of the ebook.

Wednesday, Dec. 11 @ Words by Webb
Want to learn five things about publishing and writing for anthologies? Jodi interviews the editors of Times They Were A-Changing at Words by Webb.

Thursday, Dec. 12 @ Memoir Writer's Journey
Visit Memoir Writer's Journey to read a guest post on "Lessons We Learned from the 60s and 70s That are Important for Women Today." Also, enter to win a copy of the book!

Monday, Dec. 16 @ Women's Writing Circle
Susan Weidener shares her thoughts on the storytelling found in Times They Were A-Changing on her blog.

Tuesday, Dec. 17 @ Found Between the Covers
Stop by the Found Between the Covers blog to read Sherrey's review of Times They Were A-Changing.

Wednesday, Dec. 18 @ CMash Reads
The ladies discuss what the legacy of the 60s and 70s was for women and how it relates to women today as part of the Times They Were A-Changing blog tour. Stop by for the chance to win your own copy of the book!

Thursday, Dec. 19 @ Thoughts in Progress
Read a guest post on the "Age of Aquarius: New Age Disciplines and Consciousness Raising" as part of the Times They Were A-Changing blog tour. Also, enter to win your own copy of the book!

Friday, Dec. 20 @ Suzanne Purvis
Suzanne Purvis hosts the editors of Times They Were A-Changing as they give you an insider's perspective on "The Making of an Anthology" on her blog.

To view all our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar. Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

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

Book Giveaway Contest: Enter to win a copy of Times They Were A-Changing! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Make sure you have the latest version of Java Script updated in your browser. If you're still having problems entering the form, you may leave a comment and we will enter you in the giveaway, and tweet about this giveaway for an extra entry. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget on Monday, Dec. 2.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013
Maybe it’s because writing is a solitary task, but we writers love programs and challenges that hold us accountable.  Sign up and you have a public statement of your goals and a group of writers to hold you to them.  There are several programs to help you get your ideas and initial drafts down on paper.
NaNoWriMoThis one is going on right now and is for novelists.  National Novel Writing Month challenges writers to draft a new novel in one month.  Because novels can vary in length, that’s 50,000 words or just under 1700 words/day. 
12 x 12This program is run by Julie Hedlund.  In it, she challenges authors to write a finished first draft of 12 picture books in one year.  Ideally, writers can break this down into one manuscript a month but I didn’t spot any monthly deadlines. 
PiBoIdMoPicture Book Idea Month, obviously, is another one that targets picture book writers and author/illustrators.  As the name suggests, everyone is challenged to come up with 30 picture book ideas by the end of November.  They can be ideas for characters, plots, titles or all of the above.
While these three programs are good, they do after all, provide external deadlines and accountability, they don’t provide it in the area that I most need it.  I’m a champ at idea generation.  And first drafts are tons of fun.  After all, the idea is still perfect until you get it on the page.  That’s when you realize you have more work to do and you face a decision.  Revise or start something new? 
If you are anything like me, you have file drawers and computer files full of drafts.  Some of them are first drafts.  Others just need that final polish.  But there they sit while we run off in pursuit of the next perfect story.  Fortunately, there are also groups that hold us accountable in our attempts to rewrite.
ReviMo 2014. This is a one week program organized by fellow Missouri author Meg Miller.  Throughout the week of January 12-18, she challenges participants to write (as in complete) picture book revisions.  Half a revision doesn’t count.  To add your numbers to the total, you need to start and finish a revision and you are encouraged to do more than one revision over the course of the week.
NaNoEdMo.  National Novel Editing Month provides novelists who participated in NaNoWriMo with an opportunity to spend 50 hours revising what they drafted in November. 
While none of these programs guarantee a submission ready product, they do get you one step farther along. 
If you know of any other programs that provide some level of accountability, add them in the comments below. 
Sue Bradford Edwards blogs about writing at One Writer's Journey.
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Of Rewrites and Trees

Saturday, November 23, 2013

             A tree that looks at God all day,
             And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
                                ~Joyce Kilmer, Trees

This morning, I sat at my kitchen table and as usual, gazed out at the backyard view from my picture window. But there was something unusual out there, by the fence. Something I hadn’t noticed. Do you see those trees? The ones bursting with fall color?

I’d never seen them before.

Now, how in the world could I have missed something as spectacularly beautiful as those trees? And then I realized that for as long as I’d lived in my house, we’d had two other trees—massive trees—blocking the view. My husband had insisted we take them down this past summer before they fell down, and I was not at all happy. I loved those trees.

I loved their towering strength, the full and lush canopy of green that shaded my deck, the sturdy branches that housed squirrels and backyard birds. But the trees were infested with a creeping rot on the inside and in the last few years, the canopy was less lush, the branches more bare.

Still, I’d resented the felling of those trees. That is, until I looked out my window and saw the new beauty that had been hidden from my view. Once again, I fell in love with a couple trees.

And because I’m a writer, deep into a revision during National Novel Writing Month (with only a week to go!), I couldn’t help seeing the metaphor. I thought of all the lovely paragraphs—whole passages, entire chapters—that I’ve cut from my manuscript.

Oh, I know that expression, “kill your darlings.” I’m well aware that we fall head-over-heels for our words. After all, we’ve lovingly crafted them and pressed them to our bosom. We have a relationship! So, yes, it’s hard to kill our darlings.

But goodness! This hasn't been a ‘darling’ here or a ‘sweetie’ there that I’ve chopped out of the manuscript. It feels as if I’ve gutted the story, and in the process, I’ve gutted me. And yet, I knew when I started the rewrite that I’d be getting rid of most of the manuscript. I wasn’t at all happy.

The day we cut the trees, I was just…forlorn. Pitifully sad, as the dictionary defines it. And every time I cut massive chunks from my manuscript, I feel the same way. But I know that the only way to get to the story I want to tell is to start fresh, to quit relying on original passages I loved. To stop fiddling with the old words trying to make something new of them.

It’s a drastic measure, rewriting an entire novel. And if you’re in the midst of a rewrite—or questioning whether one is needed for your current work-in-progress, I feel for you. Consider carefully before you start cutting, but don’t be afraid to get rid of what’s not working.

Because beneath the cuts, you might find new beauty—and once again, fall in love with what you see.

~Cathy C. Hall
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Friday Speak Out!: How to Maintain a Professional Rapport with Editors, Guest Post by Clara Freeman

Friday, November 22, 2013
Recently, I spoke with an editor of a lifestyle and entertainment magazine I’d done work with several years ago. I looked the editor's publication up beforehand, to refresh my memory about their guidelines, and to get a feel for what new trends the magazine was incorporating since I’d last visited their publication.

Confident that my work as a motivational columnist was a step up from the published article in the entertainment section from days of old, I decided to reconnect with the editor and pitch a new idea for the premiere issue of the magazine. Needless to say, the interchange went well. It was agreed that I would pen a “motivational moment” column for the magazine for which I would be compensated.

When the contract arrived, however, there was one slight eye-opener that I hadn’t bargained on. The editor selected the title for my agreed upon column, from which I was expected to write the article! I was dumbfounded to say the least and a bit disappointed. But, I signed on the dotted line and produced the column with the magazine’s headline.

In the end, the transaction with the editor went off without another hitch. I was paid for my work and asked to contribute to the magazine on a regular basis. In declining the offer (in lieu of paying markets) I asked that the editor to consider spreading the word about my expertise in the personal development and empowerment genre, to which she readily agreed.

The few nuggets of magazine etiquette I’ve learned over the course of several years of writing for magazines could fill a very small hole, but, they are valuable pieces of gold that’s worth it to any writer trying to break into the print magazine market.

Do the research. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written for the magazine before. Times change and magazines change along with the times. Here are a few other facts to consider when making your pitch to magazine editors:

1. Make sure your pitch stands out by answering the editor’s question of “What’s in it for me?” In other words, what’s the take away value that will guarantee the editor’s satisfaction and outshine your competitors who are vying for the same gig?

2. Maintain a polite and professional attitude.

3. Be open to suggestions and don’t quibble about the magazine’s intent for your piece. I admit I had several titles to choose from for my article, but, accepted the magazine’s title which complimented their vision. My column title remained intact, so the article’s title wasn’t something to make a big deal about.

4. End the experience on a positive note and offer to write for the magazine again. Also spread the word about the positive treatment you received from the editor and always address them by their names!

5. Continue to write and hone your skills as an expert in the areas of your interest and don’t be afraid to approach editors with your article suggestions that will help make their magazine sparkle. And, if you do get rejected? No worries, just hit them up again the following year with an even better pitch.

* * *
Clara Freeman is a freelance writer, motivational author and coach. A former nurse, certified in leadership and coaching, she parlayed a longtime nursing career into a business brand for women empowerment, where she serves as advocate and mentor to women on the path to living authentic lives. Her articles have been published in numerous magazines, including Costco Magazine, Working Nurse Magazine, and Women in Business 101 Magazine and Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine.

To learn more about Clara’s work, visit her website at
http://authentic-woman.net . You can also download a copy of her popular eBook, “My Life toward Authenticity-My Authentic Woman Story

Follow Clara on Twitter @ C50something.
Facebook - clara.freeman.904@facebook.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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Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman (Spotlight and Giveaway!)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
We have a great read and giveaway for you today. If you’re a fan of Alice Hoffman’s bestselling novels, you’ll be delighted to discover she’s written her first inspirational nonfiction book! This book will lift your spirits up this winter and it makes a wonderful gift for your loved ones.

Survival Lessons provides a road map of how to reclaim your life—from relationships with friends and family to the way you see yourself. As Alice Hoffman says, “In many ways I wrote Survival Lessons to remind myself of the beauty of life, something that’s all too easy to overlook during the crisis of illness or loss. I forgot that our lives are made up of equal parts of sorrow and joy, and that it is impossible to have one without the other. I wrote to remind myself that despite everything that was happening to me, there were still choices I could make.”

Wise, gentle, and wry, Alice Hoffman teaches all of us how to choose what matters most.

“In this gem of a book, Alice Hoffman acknowledges the sorrows of life, while reminding us of its joys. Survival Lessons is filled with love, insight, and lots of practical advice—including a crazy-good brownie recipe. I'll be sharing this book widely, but keeping one copy permanently on my nightstand for all the times I'll need its wisdom and warmth.” ~ Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club

“The book is not about her breast cancer per se but about making choices (each chapter is titled “Choose...”) that will improve readers’ lives and relationships and remind them 'of the beauty of life.' More than cancer sufferers will be glad they picked up this tiny gem.” ~ Library Journal

“It may be short, but it's powerful. An absolutely beautiful book.” ~ Sue Monk Kidd

“Writing with sparkling directness, warmth, humor, and long-steeped wisdom, Hoffman has created a companionable and genuinely useful book for times of crisis. Small, intimate, and lovely . . . Hoffman’s storytelling artistry enlivens each intimate, thoughtfully distilled, charming, and nurturing lesson in living.” ~ Booklist


Alice Hoffman is the author of twenty-one novels, including The Dovekeepers and the forthcoming The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Her inspirational nonfiction, Survival Lessons, was released last month by Algonquin Books. Her novels, many of which have been New York Times bestsellers, have received mention as notable books of the year by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People magazine. Alice’s advance from Survival Lessons will be donated to the Hoffman Breast Center at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Below you'll find a visual excerpt from Survival Lessons entitled, "Choose to Look for Magic." Enter to win a copy of this gorgeous book at the bottom of this post by filling out the Rafflecopter form.

Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman is available for purchase as a hardcover, ebook, and audiobook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and at your local independent bookstore. 
***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****
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Conference Takeaways on Self-Editing

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
The NCWN conference packet and schedule.
Photo | Elizabeth K Humphrey
This past weekend, the North Carolina Writers' Network held its fall conference nearby. An editing colleague and I put on a workshop about self-editing. Here are five (of many) takeaways from the conference and our session:

Skills Can Be Important. Before I headed into my session, I chatted with a woman who had self-edited her manuscript. She studied English and technical writing in college, but she said even she found editing her own work difficult and a more lengthy process than she thought it would be when she started. Even with her skills, she continues to find errors and wonders why she didn't catch them when she edited.

Editing Styles Are Important, but Not Essential in Self-Editing. During the workshop, different editing manuals were mentioned. One group of attendees started asking about the variations and how to learn the styles. With self-editing, one of the things we stress is keeping work consistent and clear. Readers generally notice the inconsistencies and lack of clarity in writing, not which style you've applied to your writing.

Readers Are Great, but Know Their Limitations. We all need readers and having friends read through out manuscripts is a super idea. But don't confuse having a reader with having an editor. The majority of readers are not reading to make sure you've used the Oxford comma consistently. One issue that one attendee discussed was having six friends reading his work and often agreement was lacking among the six when it came to punctuation.

Lots of Options for Editing. One attendee mentioned that she has hired the author of eighty books for her manuscript. Another person uses the manuscript services provided by the writers' network. Hiring an editor and self-editing are not for everyone. Know your limitations, but also understand what you are getting when you are paying for any of the services. Other attendees questioned hiring the author of the eighty books simply because they wondered who had done her editing and if such a writer could be a good editor.

Genres Matter in Editing. I believe I can absolutely edit most anything that crosses my desk. But do I want to? No. I've never really enjoyed reading science fiction, so I'm not going to be a good fit for science fiction writers. But I can be a good resource for getting recommendations for you because I know editors who work in different genres. If you are self-editing, be aware of the conventions for your genre.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor living in coastal North Carolina. She wishes everyone a terrific Thanksgiving and she feels thankful for WOW!

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Bonnie Milani, author of Home World, a Sci-Fi Love Story, launches her blog tour!

Monday, November 18, 2013
& giveaway contest!

Home World is a fast paced, well written story about the power and price of love. This story takes place amid the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Waikiki. Jezekiah Van Buren thinks he has found a way to restore Earth—Home World—to the other worlds of the human commonwealth. His goal is to restore his home to her lost glory.

Ingenious even by the standards of the genetically enhanced Great Family Van Buren, Jezekiah has achieved the impossible: he has arranged a treaty that will convert Earth's ancient enemies, the Lupans, to her most powerful allies. Not only will the treaty terms make Earth rich again, it will let him escape the Ring that condemns him to be Earth's next ruler. Best of all, the treaty leaves him free to marry Keiko Yakamoto, the Samurai-trained woman he loves. Everything’s set. All Jezekiah has to do is convince his xenophobic sister to accept the Lupan's alpha warlord in marriage.

Before, that is, the assassin she's put on his tail succeeds in killing him. Or the interstellar crime ring called Ho Tong succeed in raising another rebellion. Or before his ruling relatives on competing worlds manage to execute him for treason. But Jezekiah was bred for politics and trained to rule. He’s got it all under control. Until his Lupan warlord-partner reaches Earth. And suddenly these two most powerful men find themselves in love with the same woman. A woman who just may be the most deadly assassin of them all.

Paperback: 423 Pages
Publisher: Promontory Press
ISBN-10: 1927559235
ISBN-13: 978-1927559239
Twitter hashtag: #HWorld

Home World is available as a print and e-book at Amazon.

Book Giveaway Contest: To win a copy of Home World, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, November 22 at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author: Bonnie vividly recalls the book that helped her decide she could out-write another writer: it was a junior reader's biography of Sir William Harvey, the 17th century English physician credited (in the West) with discovering how blood circulates. After about 30 pages of telling herself "I can write better than that!" she grabbed a crayon that just happened to be blue and started editing. She was all of seven years old at the time. Unfortunately for her juvenile bottom it was a library book. She followed the dream through college and after grad school, freelancing feature articles for newspapers along the East Coast. Milani even wrote a cover story for Science Digest! Alas, life and grown up responsibilities caught up with her and by her late twenties she put writing away with so many other dreams while she followed a ‘career track’. After losing her entire family, she realized story telling wasn't just a want but a need and a gift God gave her. So here she is, a self-declared “middle-aged pudge” working on getting back into a writer’s kind of real life!

Home World Website: http://www.homeworldthenovel.com/
Bonnie’s Email: bonnie.milani[at]yahoo[dot]com

-----Interview by Crystal J. Otto

WOW: Bonnie, I love the bio story about the blue crayon and I love that you’ve had a passion for reading since a very young age. What book was most influential in your decision to become an author and why?

Bonnie: Hum...y’know, I can’t really say it was any one book so much as just being a story-teller. Every bunch of kids on the planet plays tag or hide’n seek. That always bored me. So I’d script a story to give the game a reason. Found out the hard way that kids are born actors and that every actor thinks he’s a bluidy critic. Wouldn’t have minded the criticism so much if the kids objecting to their roles hadn’t been physically chasing me down.

WOW: I bet those same kids will be chasing you down again—but this time it will be for your autograph as you climb the ladder of success as an author! Speaking of life as an author, how did you decide which genre was best for you and what appeals to you most about sci-fi fantasy?

Bonnie: I Think the genre chose me. The every-day world has never interested me all that much—I see it every day, so why invest precious time writing about it, too? But sci fi or fantasy, now... ah, THERE’S a universe where my imagination can be set free.

WOW: It’s great to hear that you feel free when writing, because Bonnie, I can’t imagine where you’d find the time otherwise. I had a feeling it was more fun than work for you.

Seems to me you must be a master of time management. Where do you find time for writing, running an insurance business, and keeping up with all the changes in the insurance world?

Bonnie: You are so sweet! THANK YOU for even THINKING I can keep up with all the changes in the insurance world! Personally, I don’t think it can be done—soon as you learn one set of rules... the government changes them. The upside, though, is you never get bored. As a broker, I really do get to see that I’ve genuinely helped people, because when you do insurance right, it’s a whole lot more about taking care of folk than it is about sales. So if one of ‘my people’ has a problem with a doctor balance billing, for example, they call me. Most of the time they just need an explanation of how the insurance really works. Sometimes, though, I’ve called the doctor’s office myself. Those conversations tend to be short and sharp—but they generally end with a corrected bill for my client. That matters tremendously to me.

You’re totally right about time management, though. First thing I learned when I decided to go back to writing was that you will never find time to write. You make time. So my writing time is from 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. After that, it’s off to the gym, then on to the office. ‘Cause once the insurance work day starts, everything else goes out the mental window.

WOW: Well Bonnie, I’m so glad you found time to contact WOW! and set up this tour. From our first email I just knew this was going to be fun. I only wish you lived closer, I’d invite you to my book club.

Speaking of which, do you belong to any writing or reading groups in your area? What are your thoughts and feelings about networking among authors and readers?

Bonnie: I’m a long term member of The Two Roads writer’s group. We meet Weds nights at a small theater in Studio City, CA, in the Los Angeles area. The great advantage to being here in LaLa Land is the chance to have working editors—and out here, that means folks who work for companies with names like, oh, Warner Brothers, Fox Studios, Disney... So I’ve been blessed with feedback from professional editors who are hellfire on wheels when it comes to story structure. Not to mention character development, throughlines, logic, world-building... I am more grateful for the guidance I’ve received than I have words to express. Coming from an insurance broker, that says a lot!

That said, I have to place a caveat on my generally whole-hearted endorsement of writer’s groups. I’ve run a group myself and I’ve conducted private writers workshops, so I’ve had the joy of seeing the lights come on when some element of story-telling clicks home for someone. But I’ve also attended groups where members were permitted to indulge in some truly savage rants. So I’d say it depends on the caliber of the group you’re in. If you’re in a group that’s either essentially a kaffee klatch, or one that permits members to savage each other—then GET OUT OF IT. NOW. There’s never an excuse to try to destroy another writer’s ego.

I can’t even imagine how any newbie’s ego could withstand the kind of tear-downs I’ve seen some writer group members deliver. It’s hard enough pulling a story out of your sweating, swearing soul to start with. Even harder to learn to take a GOOD critique. A mis-guided or just flat-out cruel one can easily make even a talented writer with no other source of feedback give up and crawl away.

WOW: I have to say I am thankful that my writer’s group isn’t like some of those you describe. I think I’d be in tears. Glad you found a group you enjoy!

Bonnie, not everyone knows your since of humor like I do—but you always make me laugh so I’m hoping you’ll share something with readers about your ‘funniest author moment’ if you wouldn’t mind?

Bonnie: Ummm...I don’t know that I can come up with a funny ‘author moment’, but I think my record for embarrassment, at least, lies with a presentation I was doing for the Independent Brokers Association. I was giving a presentation on Long Term Care service utilization projections (really exciting stuff—honest!) to about 300 industry agents, managers, and actuaries. Now I’m an Irish Aries and a broker to boot, so I normally LOVE strutting my stuff in front of a crowd. I didn’t even know I was nervous. Until I got up on the podium. Then I didn’t just forget my speech. I forgot my damned name.

WOW: Well, it’s my hope that after this tour and after reading Home World, it will be impossible to forget the name Bonnie Milani (even for you dear).

So, what’s next for you? I’m assuming you have something in the works already? Can you tell us a little about it?

Bonnie: Ah, woman of my heart! THANK YOU SO MUCH for asking! I’ve got a short story I’m just finishing up. Needs to be polished still, but once it’s ready I’m going to post it as a giveaway. It’s something I HOPE is a new approach to sci fi: I’m calling it sci fi noir. Kind of a Raymond Chandler approach to dirty dark secrets in a bottom rung bar on the last space station in human space...

WOW: Bonnie, that certainly sounds interesting. I hope you’ll keep in touch so I can have first dibs at reading that too!

Now, from a fun subject to something a bit edgier...if you don’t mind my bringing up a delicate subject, in your bio you mention you lost your entire family. Would you be willing to share more on that topic?

Bonnie: No, it’s been enough years I’m okay now. It was losing my mom that finally made me realize I had to start writing again. She was my best friend. We lived on opposite coasts, so I didn’t see her a lot. But she used to come to visit us in CA at least 2 – 3 times a year, just to hang out, catch up, and do girlie stuff together. I knew she’d been sick, but she told me she was doing fine and was coming out to enjoy the sunny CA weather. I didn’t know till they had to carry her off the plane that she’d come out to die.

Turned out she had lung cancer, emphysema, uncontrolled diabetes, AND congestive heart failure. (My mom never was one to do things by half measures!) So for the last few months of her life, I got to find out what it means to be a full-time wife, full-time employee, and a full-time care giver. Was not a happy time. When she died, I very nearly came apart. In retrospect, that probably wasn’t a ‘nearly’, but I didn’t know enough to recognize a break-down in myself. Took me a good three years to come back to myself.

But that depth of misery taught me so much about life. Watching my mom die in pieces made me realize I was on the path to dying without ever fully using the one gift God gave me. At the time, I was working for a pension admin firm that specialized in the entertainment industry. Our list of clients read like the Hollywood A-List: the Jacksons, Rod Stewart, Johnny Carson, Robert Conrad...and those were just ‘my’ accounts. My husband was a contractor, so nights, I pitched in to help him out if he had a project going on in our area. I had to find the strength to do a complete re-write of my life (husband excepted, and even that was a close one!)

WOW: Bonnie, it’s amazing how sometimes our darkest moments eventually become those giving us the most clarity. I appreciate your honest answer and thank you for sharing.

What has been your biggest struggle in going from writing to publishing and what advice would you give others who aspire to publish?

Bonnie: Wow (sorry—no pun intended!) that’s a good one. I’d say it REALLY depends on just how much time and talent an individual author has to dedicate to learning the publishing trade. I’ve been agented before, many years ago, but that didn’t get that particular book sold. Just getting the agent, though, took months of query letters—and, of course, even more months enduring rejection letters. Or worse, just being ignored altogether. So when I FINALLY had ‘Home World’ ready to submit I realized I absolutely did not want to invest another year of my time chasing somebody else’s tail. Hesitant as I was about indie authoring, I knew I couldn’t possibly do less for myself than an agent or trad pub house would do for me as a new author.

Only it didn’t take me long to realize that I am a techie disaster. I can punch keys on the keyboard (and occasionally just punch the board...) but that’s about the extent of my competence. The more homework I did on the who-how-what-where of physically producing ANY kind of book, the more I realized that it would cost me more in lost production time on my day job than I could ever hope to make back. So I split the difference. By using a combination book service/publisher in Promontory Press, I’ve been able to keep costs down by managing the elements I can handle with a ‘little’ help from my friends—editing, marketing (uh, well, kinda-sorta), proofing, artwork, etc—while turning the things I’d have to learn from scratch over to Promontory for a fee. So far, it’s worked out quite well.

WOW: Bonnie, I wouldn’t call you a ‘techie disaster’ at least I haven’t found you to be a problem—it’s been very enjoyable working with you!

Is there anything else you’d like to share? Where are you living and do you have any pets? Anything like that?

Bonnie: Husbands count? Afraid I’m one of those dreadfully boring folk: no children, no pets, no family aside from one very cute husband. On t’other hand, I live in Los Angeles, and that’s like living in a sci fi world all by itself. I’m about the only native speaker of English on our block (English is my hubby’s fifth language). So social get togethers out here give the U.N. competition: we have friends from Armenia, Mexico, Iran, Germany, France, the Phillipines, Cuba, and I forget where else off the top of my head. Most of my husband’s family were raised in France, but the clan itself is spread across Iran and Turkey, so they use all three languages—with an occasional aside into English—interchangeably. And we won’t even get into the curl-your-hair culture clashes.

So, overall...I manage to keep grinning.

----------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, November 18 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!

Tuesday, November 19 @ The New Book Review
Bonnie Milani gets the spotlight today at The New Book Review—find out more about this science fiction/Fantasy novel Home World.

Wednesday, November 20 @ Steph the Bookworm
Home World giveaway and chance to chat with author Bonnie Milani as she speaks candidly on the topic of "The Importance of Networking for Authors."

Thursday, November 21 @ CMash Reads
Bonnie Milani, author of Home World (Sci-Fi Fantasy novel) answers the question "Where Do You Get Your Ideas" and offers readers an opportunity to win their own copy of her new book!

Friday, November 22 @ Blue House Review
Join Bonnie Milani as she answers "So, Who are You Anyway" in a guest post and visit with fellow author Lauren Scharhag at Blue House Review. Bonnie has just released her debut work Home World and offers readers a giveaway of this sci-fi/fantasy love story!

Monday, November 25 @ Trisha Slay
"Writing Your Way to Health" guest post by Bonnie Milani as she shares her thoughts as well as her debut sci-fi/fantasy novel Home World. Don't miss this post and fabulous opportunity at a book giveaway—good luck winning your very own copy of Home World!

Tuesday, November 26 @ Selling Books
Don't miss today's author interview with Bonnie Milani and find out more about her debut sci-fi/fantasy tale Home World

Wednesday, November 27 @ Book Worm
Join Anjanette Potter as she reviews the Sci-Fi/Fantasy book Home World by Bonnie Milani and enter to be part of the giveaway so you can read this great book for yourself!

Friday, November 29 @ The Book Bag
Bonnie Milani introduces her sci-fi love story Home World to the readers at the Book Bag and also offers a guest post "Voices" and a giveaway of this fabulously received debut book!

Saturday, November 30 @ Choices
Bonnie Milani shares insights into "What Makes a Good Critique" and offers Choices readers the opportunity at the giveaway of Home World.

Monday, December 2 @E.M Havens
Bonnie Milani and Emily Havens spend time together chatting it up and Emily reviews Bonnie’s debut sci-fi romance Home World. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the ladies also offer a giveaway for Home World; this is a stop you won’t want to miss!

Wednesday, December 4 @ All Things Audry
Join Bonnie Milani as she chats with Audry about "Finding Writing Time" and offers a giveaway of her exciting sci-fi fantasy book Home World.

Thursday, December 5 @ Mom~E~Centric
Bonnie Milani talks to Jerri about “Dealing with Rejection” and shares more about her debut sci-fi love story Home World while generously offering a giveaway as well. This is a blog tour stop you won’t want to let slip by!

Monday, December 9 @ Thoughts in Progress
Bonnie Milani answers "How Do You Deal With Rejection" and offers a giveaway of her newly released sci-fi fantasy book Home World!

Thursday, December 12 @ Deal Sharing Aunt
Join Vicky as she reviews the Sci-Fi love-story Home World (#World) by Bonnie Milani and get in the giveaway of this ever popular debut publication!

To view all our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar. Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

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

Book Giveaway Contest: Enter to win a copy of Home World! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget THIS Friday, November 22nd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!
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