Ex-Playboy Bunny’s Book Tops Best Seller List Through Social Media

Friday, July 31, 2015
By Scott Lorenz

In today’s world, social media is a dominating force that can make or break your career in almost every aspect. In this case, social media can help promote your work to a large and varied audience. To prove this theory, take a look at the rapid growth of popularity of Holly Madison’s book Down The Rabbit Hole, which is at the top of the New York Times Best Seller List.

Holly Madison, the ex-Playboy bunny, reality show star, mother, wife and ex-girlfriend of Hugh Hefner has made quite an image for herself and her book on social media with 1.38 million Twitter followers. On Twitter her hashtags are #downtherabbithole and #hollymadison. According to ritetag.com the hashtag #hollymadison has 2.42K potential views per hour. The hashtag #downtherabbithole has 3.78K potential views per hour.

So what is the intriguing factor for authors about social media? Social media allows direct communication to thousands or even millions of followers (all at no cost), and is credited in great part for making Down The Rabbit Hole an instant success. Using social media also allows authors to meet a whole new audience of readers and gain new ideas for books from the social community.

In an article by Chuck Sambuchino, of Writer’s Digest, Grammar Girl creator Mignon Fogarty said, “I think you really have to enjoy interacting on social networks or you won’t do it well or stay with it. You can’t force yourself to do it; you have to find the things you like and do those even if they aren’t the most popular. For one person it might be Twitter, for another LinkedIn, for another YouTube, for another podcasting, and another blogging.”

Estelle Maskame, Bestselling author of Did I Mention I Love You, (DIMILY) became an Internet sensation by using social media and gained 123K followers on Twitter @EstelleMaskame. With the help of her friends and Wattpad, Estelle’s book reached four million hits on Wattpad. “Using social media to promote my work means that I’ve got a close connection with my readers, especially now, because they’ve been with me since the early days. In a way, we’re all in this together, and ever since the start, I’ve always loved going on Twitter to interact with them,” said Maskame.

Other authors who have successfully used social media to gain recognition for their work include Paulo Coelho. Coelho used Facebook and Instagram to stay in touch with his readers and promote his work by sharing quotes and photos of his life and trips he has been on. The Alchemist spent 270 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List with the help and use of social media. According to a Wall Street Journal article, while doing research for his new book Adultery, Coelho’s fans shared over 1,000 emails with personal infidelity stories. Talk about intimate communications!

Margaret Atwood, a Man Booker prizewinner, has made extensive use of digital platforms. Atwood is an avid tweeter with her fans, and has a knack for posting creative insight about her latest work. She also used Wattpad to collaborate with another author to create a serialized zombie novel. For aspiring authors, Atwood ran a contest encouraging them to try fan fiction.

With social media, authors have a chance to succeed. Using social media for your work is important because of the vast attraction of readers you’ll get to engage with. There are quite a few social sites to post your work on and get feedback on your book before and after it is published.


Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it's their first book or their 15th book. He's handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman's World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.Book-Marketing-Expert.com or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist.
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Improve Your Writing by Reading Author Interviews

Thursday, July 30, 2015
I love hearing writers talk about their writing process and craft. It inspires me not to copy their process but to reflect on my own. What has been working for me? What doesn’t? What else could I try to make myself a better writer?

I remember reading an interview with Philip Roth in the New York Times a few years ago. I don’t remember how or why it caught my attention because [insert embarrassed face here] I have never read any of his books. But some of the quotes from the interview made me feel better about my writing.

For example, he said, “Writing is frustration – it’s daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It’s just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time.”

Clearly not an inspirational quote. However, it feels good to know that a well-acclaimed author also feels self-doubt, even humiliation, about his writing. Yet persisted and published.

It’s my love of discussing the writing process and craft that has inspired me to collect author interviews. I’m providing you with some author interview links below.

Of course, seek interviews with your favorite authors, but don’t be afraid to listen to or read an interview with an author outside of your preferred genre or an author you’ve never read. These are important, too, to provide additional perspectives to your ideas on the writing craft.

Have other author interview that inspired you? Share them in the comments below!

Links for Author Interviews:


Compiled by Anne Greenawalt – follow me for a fusion of creative writing and competitive sports with a twist of feminist intent

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Agents: Five tips on your next face-to-face

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Face-to-face agent critiques give writers like us that chance to gather feedback from working agents.  To make the most of your next opportunity, remember that the conversation should start, but don’t stop, with your manuscript.  Keep the opportunities to learn coming with these five tips:

1.  Review the critique. Hopefully you had a chance to read her comments ahead of time. If not, quickly read over what she had to say.  This is not the time to defend your work; do that later with your critique group. Instead, take this opportunity to learn.  Ask for clarification.  Or bounce an idea off her on how to fix something.  Agents love it when you take their suggestions seriously.

2.  Discuss your work in general.  Let the agent know where your work has already appeared.  If you’re someone with a track record, let her know.  Discuss how this manuscript fits into your work in general.  That said, keep it brief unless she is asking you questions.  But also be ready with questions for her.  Is your work too diverse? Should you specialize?  What advice does she have for someone trying to break into x genre?

3. When is an author is ready for an agent?  Most of us look for agents because we hate marketing and we want the opportunity to publish at closed houses.  That’s a no brainer.  But find out what this agent looks for in a “ready writer.” Is it a specific number of sales?  Number of polished manuscripts ready to go?   

4. What recommendations does she have for new clients?  Some agents advise new clients to read certain how-tos or even certain titles in their genre.  What does this agent recommend?  If you ask her this even though she has no interest in acquiring you as a client, you are showing her that you are ready to learn. 

5. What other recommendations does she have for you?  This is a catch-all question but what piece of information does she have for you that she hasn’t had a chance to share?  It might be something about your manuscript, your body of work, or even the name of a fellow agent that you might consider approaching. 

A face-to-face critique is a great opportunity to learn, but you can’t learn if you do all of the talking or even most of the talking.  Ask open ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Once you get her talking, you have the opportunity to listen and learn.


Sue is the instructor for our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults.  The next session begins on September 7, 2015.
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Jeannie Waldridge, 2nd Place Winter 2015 Flash Fiction Winner

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Congratulations to Jeannie Waldridge, who won 2nd place in the Winter 2015 Flash Fiction contest with her story, "The Church Meeting." If you haven't read this humorous short story yet, you can find it right here.

Jeannie  is originally from the small town of Harrodsburg, Kentucky but has lived in Louisville, Kentucky for the last 15 years. She is a certified alcohol and drug counselor who currently supervises substance abuse treatment programs for the Department of Corrections. Jeannie has had a lifelong passion for humorous story-telling and is beginning to translate that love into her written work. There is a love for strong Southern characters that originate from small towns and love to stir up controversy. Who doesn’t want the chance to use “ya’ll” or reference “sweet tea” when they write?
Jeannie is greatly supported by her writing group, Women Who Write, which is based in Louisville. The members readily offer their time, expertise and encouragement to all writers from the novice to the professional. Through the writing group, Jeannie has come to accept the fact that she is a writer as long as she continues to put pen to paper.
WOW: Congratulations on your 2nd place win for your fun story, "The Church Meeting." Where did you get the idea for this story?
Jeannie: I have been living in Crawford County, Kentucky for a few years -- in my head. I have written several short stories and these characters reveal themselves at different times. When I decided to enter the WOW contest, I first did a little research about the guest judge, Stacy Testa. She stated that she loved character-driven stories, an international setting, or a unique subculture. Immediately, Mrs. Abbigail Peters and Katherine came to mind. If you have ever been in a country church in Kentucky, then you know I had the unique subculture checked off the list.
Ms. Abbigail and Katherine have popped up in Christmas and holiday stories in the past but more as passing characters and at times without being named. I sat down and started writing about the first time the preacher’s fiancee with a dark past meets the church’s biggest critic. The story wrote itself after that; I just held the pencil and went along for the ride.  
WOW: In this piece, you chose to tell the story from two of the main characters' points of view. What made you decide to tell the story this way? Why switch in the middle? (Obviously it works well! We want to learn from you!)
Jeannie: As a storyteller, you have to have insider information from all the parties involved. I felt it was necessary to establish Mrs. Abbigail first; after all she is a founding member of Crawford County and the church. She held a position of prestige in the community, and I wanted the reader to understand her first before I introduced the outsider. The little tidbits of information from both of them gave the story the necessary flavor to make it interesting. Chili only becomes chili after you add the spices.
WOW: So true! How did you feel when you got the news that "The Church Meeting" won 2nd place?
Jeannie: I believed the story was something special, and that is why I requested a critique. If I was on the wrong track, I believed that was a good way for me to gauge my meter for “good writing.” When I found out I was through the first round of judging, I was already a winner. Then the critique came, and I called my mom and posted a happy post on social media. Needless to say, when the news came that I was in the top ten, I could not imagine that my story would be included with the other great stories on the WOW website. By the time 2nd place was announced, I was beyond grateful. My friends and family had given me a lot of positive feedback, and I was so proud that a G-rated story about a fictional place in Kentucky was recognized among all of the outstanding stories submitted.
I would be remiss to leave out the reality of the 2nd place win. I am a total amateur writer so I do not have a long list of published stories, a blog or a website. When I was notified that I would need to submit a picture and a short bio and I could include my website, it became quite challenging to make everything interesting and professional. Not to mention settling on a headshot, which is typically not a favorite task for many of us. 

WOW: We are so happy you won! We are sure this is the first of many successes for you. (smiles) Your day job has to be somewhat tough as a certified alcohol and drug counselor who currently supervises substance abuse treatment programs for the Department of Corrections. How do you write funny stories after a tough day job?
Jeannie: My job is rewarding and impactful, and I recognize that we are there to help people get better. Most people are not lucky enough to have a job where they get to witness change first hand, and the impact is not just for our participants but it changes their families, as well. When just one participant leaves the program, returns home, and then resumes their responsibilities as a parent, a son or daughter, a sibling and a productive member of society, then we have all won. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
If you ask most of the folks I work with, they would tell you that my humor does not start at 5:00 pm. I have a tendency to be humorous, and I love a funny story. Laughter is good for the soul, and it is good for everyone around. I think my funny stories just come from years of telling stories and always looking for the sunny side of things.

WOW: What a great attitude! Tell us about your writing group.
Jeannie: I love my writing group! We are called Women Who Write, and we get together once a month. We are given the opportunity to bring in a piece we are working on, read it out loud and then we request what type of critique we would like from the group. We have published authors, professors, retired teachers, accomplished journalists, and every other profession you can imagine. The biggest thing we have in common is that we love to write. We write children’s books, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, articles, diaries, journals, and doodles. The group does not judge, and they always remind you that you are a writer, which is what a novice like me needs to hear from time to time. They offer their expertise and suggestions to every writer who shares. If I had one piece of advice: find a writing group. If the one you choose does not fit, find another group. Like attracts like; and if you want to be a writer, you have to surround yourself with writers.

WOW: What are you currently working on in your writing life?
Jeannie: I am working on more stories from Crawford County, of course. My strategy is to keep writing short stories that will eventually build into a whole novel. A childhood friend sent me a picture he photographed and asked me to write a story about the image. I just finished that story called “The Tent Revival,” which featured Mrs. Abbigail and Katherine joining forces to expose two evangelical swindlers that come to town. My next story should have some twists and turns as well. You know, every county in Kentucky has a county fair in the summer, and Crawford County is no different.

WOW: We hope that we get to read a collection of Crawford County stories in the future! Thanks, Jeannie, best of luck to you.
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Lily Iona MacKenzie Launches her tour for Fling!

Monday, July 27, 2015
...and giveaway contest!

Lily Iona MacKenzie’s debut novel, Fling! is a wildly comic romp on mothers, daughters, art, and travel. While the main characters are middle-aged and older, their zest for life would draw readers of all ages, male or female, attracting the youthful adventurer in most people. The heart of the book is how they approach their aging selves and are open to new experiences.

About Fling!: When ninety-year-old Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico City asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, lost there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing, she hatches a plan. A woman with a mission, Bubbles convinces her hippie daughter Feather to accompany her on the quest. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it.

Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey. The two women travel south from Canada to Mexico where Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their hilarious antics.

In Mexico, where reality and magic co-exist, Feather gets a new sense of her mother, and Bubbles’ quest for her mother’s ashes—and a new man—increases her zest for life. Unlike most women her age, fun-loving Bubbles takes risks, believing she’s immortal. She doesn’t hold back in any way, eating heartily and lusting after strangers, exulting in her youthful spirit.

Readers will believe they’ve found the fountain of youth themselves in this character. At ninety, Bubbles comes into her own, coming to age, proving it’s never too late to fulfill one’s dreams.

Paperback: 272 pages
Genre: Comedy and Family
Publisher: Pen-L Publishing (July 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1942428294
ISBN-13: 978-1942428299
Twitter hashtag: #FlingMac

Fling! is available as a paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local independent bookstore.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Fling! please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, July 31st at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:
A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in her early years, Lily Iona MacKenzie supported herself as a stock girl in the Hudson’s Bay Company, as a long distance operator for the former Alberta Government Telephones, and as a secretary (Bechtel Corp sponsored her into the States). She also was a cocktail waitress at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (and almost got her legs broken), founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities). She has published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 140 American and Canadian venues. Fling, one of her novels, was be published in July 2015 by Pen-L Publishing. Bone Songs, another novel, will be published in 2016. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011. She also teaches writing at the University of San Francisco, is vice-president of USF's part-time faculty union, paints, and travels widely with her husband.

Visit her blog at: https://lilyionamackenzie.wordpress.com

Find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lily-Iona-MacKenzie/829244327113557

Follow her on Twitter @lilyionamac

----- Interview by Crystal J. Otto

WOW: Thank you for choosing WOW to help promote your book. We are looking forward to a great tour!

Lily, We are going to start with a really tough question: Who or what inspired you to write and how have you been instrumental in encouraging others?

Lily: I wish there was a simple answer to this question. No one inspired me to write. Something in me had to write. I was a high school drop out, and I didn’t have parents who understood there was such a thing as an artist’s or writer’s vocation. When I was in my mid-20s and working as a customer service representative for Olsten Services, I recall telling a co-worker that I wanted to be a writer. But I honestly didn’t know where those words came from. At that point in my life, all I had written were letters. English had been my strong subject in high school before I dropped out. But the only poem I recall having read at that point was Poe’s “The Raven,” and that had happened before I quit school.

But I did begin to keep a journal while going through a depression when I was 28, and that practice continues until today. I also went into therapy. That commitment helped me to discover myself as a writer and led me to major in creative writing as an undergraduate. Later, I also earned a Masters degree in creative writing and another in the humanities. The rest is history.

How have I been instrumental in encouraging others? I’ve taught expository and creative writing over the years, and that has exposed me to gifted students. It’s been a privilege to support their process.

WOW: Support is incredibly important for all of us. Have you found book clubs and writers groups to be a good place to find additional support and encouragement? What has your experience been?

Lily: I’ve been part of a small book club for many years. What I’ve loved about the group is discovering books that I otherwise wouldn’t have chosen on my own. It’s forced me out of my comfort zone into works that challenge and inspire. We’ve read works like The Constellation of Vital Phenomena, a masterfully constructed novel about Chechnya, and The Traveler of the Century, one of the best books of 2014.

I’ve also participated in an on-line writer’s group for a long time. I started it because I wanted to continue to receive the valuable feedback that fellow experienced writers can give one another. So I sent out a message to graduates of San Francisco State’s Masters’ in Creative Writing program and invited those who were interested to get in touch. The group members have changed over the years, but we continue to give each other important comments on our fiction. By the time each person has remarked on a submission, it adds up to one expert editor’s response. It’s been enormously helpful to have these readers’ views.

WOW: Sounds like it was time well spent. Speaking of time, how do you manage to get everything done, stay on task, and use your time to your fullest?

Lily: Before I had a book in pre-publication, I didn’t have too much trouble keeping to my one hour a day schedule. I usually can fit in that amount of time, and I’ve produced an amazing amount of material over the years as a result: three poetry collections, one of which is published; four+ novels, two of which are on their way to being published, and I’m sure the other ones will as well; a short story collection; travel articles; reviews; memoir; and much more. But at the moment, marketing responsibilities have made it difficult to be as faithful to this regime. I look forward to when I can resume it!

WOW: You certainly are focused and driven: such an inspiration for all the rest of us!

Who is your favorite author?

Lily: I really don’t have a favorite author. There are too many that I admire and regularly return to for inspiration. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one such writer. His One Hundred Years of Solitude found me at a time when I needed a model for the magical realism approach that seems natural to me and inhabits much of my work. I’ve read nearly all of his books and return to them frequently. He’s a kind of muse.

WOW: Support (as well as inspiration) is incredibly important in any career, but especially as a writer. Who has been most supportive of your writing through the years?

Lily: My husband has been exceptional in not protesting when I need time to write. His field is the 19th and 20th Century novel, so as a reader, he’s perceptive and extremely thoughtful. In my acknowledgement in Fling!, I refer to him as my first and best reader.

WOW: Sounds like you two are a great team! How do the two of you celebrate your successes?

Lily: Success is relative. I’ve published many things, and it’s always satisfying to have one’s efforts recognized in this way. However, I’ve been writing for so many years now, that when one of my books finally is published, my response is “It’s about time!” But my husband always wants to do something special to acknowledge a new publication and will bring home champagne for us to share.

WOW: On the flip side of success, what about rejection? Not that we ever want to be rejected, but let’s face it…it’s all part of writing and being published. Do you have some words of wisdom for others?

Lily: Finding a responsive reader for one’s work is challenging. I’ve sent out many stories/poems/essays over the years that didn’t get picked up immediately. But if you believe in the piece and it’s worth being published, then it will eventually find a home. Persistence and doggedness is essential to succeed as a writer.

WOW: That’s a great way to explain it; thanks for sharing! What’s next for you Lily?

Lily: Bone Songs, another novel, will be published in 2016, so I’ll be spending some time in the next few months revising that book. I’m also two-thirds of the way through a collection of short pieces entitled The Sinner’s Club. Each character is part of the same church setting and has an intriguing story to tell. The various sections offer a kaleidoscopic view of this particular religious community and its characters’ foibles. Since I’ve written a total of four novels, I’m eager to focus at the moment on short fiction and poetry. I’ll be interested to see what will tempt me to tackle another longer work.

WOW: Thank you so much for choosing WOW! and for today’s wonderful interview. We look forward to your future books and hope to see you again in 2016 and beyond!

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

Monday, July 27 (today) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!

Tuesday, July 28 @ Choices
"Poetry and Perception" is the topic today at Choices by Madeline Sharples. Read this insightful guest post by author Lily Iona MacKenzie and find out more about her latest novel Fling. One lucky reader will also win a copy of their own to enjoy!

Wednesday, July 29 @ Selling Books
Find out what Lily Iona MacKenzie has to say about writers groups as she stops by the blog of Cathy Stucker. MacKenzie's debut novel Fling! is quickly climbing the charts, you won't want to miss a moment of this exciting book blog tour!

Friday, July 31 @ Ava Louise
"Writing Memoir" is the topic at the blog of author Ava Louise. Thank you to fellow author Lily Iona MacKenzie for this fabulous guest post. Reader can stop by and learn more about this topic as well as MacKenzie's debut novel Fling!

Monday, August 3 @ Bring On Lemons
Linda Juul reviews Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie. Don't miss this review as well as a giveaway to win your own copy of this debut novel.

Tuesday, August 4 @ All Things Audry
Join fellow author Audry Fryer as she reviews Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie.

Wednesday, August 5 @ MC Simon
Lily Iona MacKenzie shares insight about "Writing Like an Architect" as she writes the guest post for Mc Simon Writes. Find out more about this topic as well as MacKenzie's debut novel Fling!

Thursday, August 6 @ Kathleen Pooler
Join Lily Iona MacKenzie as she writes about "Timing and the Creative Process" as the guest author at Kathleen Pooler's Memoir Writer's Journey today. Learn more about MacKenzie and her debut novel Fling!

Saturday, August 8 @ Hott Books
Today's guest author at Hott Books is Lily Iona MacKenzie with a guest post about revising your writing. Learn more about this topic as well as MacKenzie's debut novel Fling!

Monday, August 10 @ Create Write Now
Don't miss today's guest post at Mari McCarthy's Create Write Now. The topic is: "Writing as a Spiritual Path and an Exercise in Trust" written by Lily Iona MacKenzie as part of her book blog tour for her debut novel Fling!

Tuesday, August 11 @ Lisa Haselton
Lily Iona MacKenzie authors today's guest post at Lisa Hasleton's blog. Don't miss this topic of "Blogging" and find out more about MacKenzie's debut novel Fling!

Thursday, August 13 @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Fellow author Linda Appleman Shapiro will be reviewing Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie. Don't miss this insightful blog stop.

Friday, August 14 @ Slay the Writer
Fellow author Trisha Slay reviews the debut novel Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie

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.


Enter to win a copy of Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget THIS Friday, July 31st!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Build a Better Bio

Saturday, July 25, 2015
©  | Dreamstime Stock Photos
What’s one thing freelance writers, bloggers, and authors all have in common? They all need a bio. A writer’s biography, or “bio,” for short, is important for several reasons. If you’re a freelance writer and/or blogger, it shows off your area(s) of expertise and entices editors and other potential clients to hire you. If you’re an author querying agents and publishing houses, your bio is the chance to let your personality shine through and convince a gatekeeper to read more of your work.

Trying to put together a bio for the first time can be overwhelming. The good news is that you can (and should!) have multiple bios on hand at all times depending on why you're using them. Here are a few things to consider when putting together your bio:

Write it in third person. Describe yourself as if you are an objective observer. “Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor . . .” Don’t be shy. Now is the time to brag on yourself and all your wonderful accomplishments.

Highlight your clips. Mention publications where your work has appeared, so readers can read examples of your work and get an idea of your style and voice.

Affiliations and achievements. Include memberships and organizations pertinent to your career, as well as achievements, such as writing awards.

Have a call to action. List your website, blog, and places others can find you on social media.

Put some personality in it. Keep the writing tight and fresh, and don’t be afraid to mention interesting facts and tidbits to keep the reader interested.

Here are a few examples of bios I’ve used in the past:

From my website: Renee Roberson is an award-winning professional freelance writer, editor and blogger with hundreds of print and online articles and columns to her name. Her experience includes a background in journalism and communications, public relations, writing for regional parenting and city magazines, a daily newspaper and websites and e-zines. In addition to writing, she offers editing and researching services to clients through a variety of mediums and helps authors publicize their books through blog tours.

From The Writer magazine: Renee Roberson, a freelance writer from Huntersville, N.C., has written for regional and online parenting markets since 2005.

From Livestrong.com: Renee Roberson has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in Charlotte Parent, Carolina Parent, Lake Norman Currents, The Charlotte Observer, Today's Charlotte Woman, The Writer and iParenting.com. Roberson has a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

From a literary agent query: Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Based in Charlotte, N.C, she is also hard at work on her next book, a contemporary YA novel. Her flash-fiction piece, "In the Depths," placed in the top ten of the WOW! Women on Writing Fall Flash Fiction Contest in February 2013. You can view her online portfolio at www.FinishedPages.com.

Now it’s your turn! Share one or more of your bios with us in the comments below.

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Recipe for a Winning Writing Retreat (Serves One to Twenty)

Thursday, July 23, 2015
Last week, I had the opportunity to take off a few days and join twenty writers for a writing retreat. I do so love my writing retreats (and this great bunch of writers, too!), but I was in an in between place, writing-wise. I had three sort of projects I could tackle—okay, they were more like vague ideas—so I wasn’t sure I’d get much at all from the retreat.

Boy, was I wrong! By the time I came home, I had the first couple chapters of a new novel and a roughly outlined plot to go along with it. And I had worked enough on one of those ideas to know that the project wasn’t ready for development.

So how do you get the most out of a three-day writing retreat and cook up something swell? Here’s the top ingredients we used, and I promise you can get great results, too, no matter the size of your retreat:

Unstructured Structure

The retreat was at a lovely convent that provided three meals a day and those meals were served promptly. And that was our only schedule, our only structure. We kept a white board in the kitchen so that anyone who had a writing need could post it during the three days. It was no guarantee that folks would show up at, say, 4:00 for a critique session, but it kept us from wandering around, trying to gather writers. Meals were a great time to make announcements or plans with a buddy, too, but we had only thirty minutes or so before we headed back to work!

Of course, it’s wonderful to have meals fixed and no day-to-day worries except the problems of a lousy plot, but even a retreat at home is doable, as long as you give family and friends the heads up. A little preparation beforehand (meals fixed, a board for notes) can provide the same structure for a Saturday Writing Retreat, Party of One.

Unplug the World

We had Wi-Fi but I suspect that most of the writers were like me: mostly unplugged from our devices. There was no TV at the facility, so one less distraction to pull us away from work. I don’t know why I always forget just how much time I waste once I plug in, whether it’s the social media suck or TV or my newspaper, but I’m always amazed at how much I accomplish when I turn off the outside world.

You can get the media monkey off your back, too, even if your writing retreat is just three hours at your local coffee shop. Unplug yourself and marvel at the work you accomplish!

Targeted Feedback

Getting critique from disciplined, successful writers is always helpful, but not always practical at a retreat. There just isn’t time to get everyone caught up on a 100,000-word novel. But you can get feedback on a first chapter, or a query, or even a concept. The trick is to be very specific in what you want to know. Don’t expect a group of writers to fix a sagging middle, but listen carefully if everyone in the room thinks your first chapter is middle grade—and you’re writing a young adult novel.

A retreat on your own doesn’t mean that you can’t send an email during the day and ask a trusted writer friend about specific issues. It might, however, be a good idea to let that friend know you’re doing a retreat and would appreciate feedback ASAP.

It’s not complicated, putting together a successful writing retreat. Just stick to the ingredients list and watch your writing dish take home the prize!

~Cathy C. Hall

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Dear Work-In-Progress

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dear Work-In-Progress:

Before I begin the heart of my letter, or what my English teachers liked to call "the body of a friendly letter," I want to get a couple of things straight. First, I'm going to refer to you and your friends as WIP(s) (because typing work-in-progress is just too time consuming); and second, I'm not sure how friendly this letter is actually going to be.

I'm upset with you, dear WIP. Since I created you, I've been trying not to blame you and place all blame on myself. The problem is I can't seem to finish you. Yes, I did write "the end" last summer, and yes, I did pay to have someone critique the beginning of you, and yes, my critique group says: "Send it out," after I've revised you a couple times--but you keep telling me you're not really finished.

Now it's been several months and I haven't even touched you. All I really need to do is revise your first 10 pages and read the rest to make sure I didn't miss any changes.

But I can't seem to do this, so I'm finally admitting that it is, well, ALL YOUR FAULT.

Why can't you just fix yourself? We both know what you need to do. We need to move the inciting incident closer to the beginning of you. Then we need to take the blasted backstory and make sure that just enough is sprinkled throughout your middle that readers can understand why the characters are acting and reacting how they are. Can you please get this accomplished in a timely manner?

I really am tired of your excuses. "I don't have time," you say. "I am just tired of working on myself." "What difference does it make? No one buys books any more." The very worst one I heard you utter just over the weekend: "I am out of wine and chocolate."

Please, for both of us, for our livelihood and sanity, could you please help me fix you? I will show you how to turn on the computer and use the Microsoft Word toolbar, if you are confused. I will keep my butt in the chair and do what you tell me to do, if you will just aid me in revising you this one last time and finding the perfect agent to represent you. (What is the perfect agent? Well, someone who wants to help me sign at least a three-book deal--and thinks you and I are brilliant.)

I'm so glad I wrote this letter, and I will wait for your response. Please keep it brief because really, you need to get to work on you.


(frustrated, but still your friend)

PS: Yes, a three-book deal would mean I have to create two more manuscripts. Yes, I know what you're thinking. But I will always love you best, if you would just get to work.

PSS: Yes, all writers feel this way. I am not being mean.

Margo L. Dill is a writing teacher and novelist. To check out her WOW! Women on Writing classes, including Writing a Novel with a Writing Coach (where she will not make you write a letter like this, although it is therapeutic), please go to this link. To find out about her books, please visit her website

photo by Guudmorning!  (http://www.flickr.com) 

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Interview with First Place FF Contest Winner, Rosemary Jarrell

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
A native Brooklynite, Rosemary Jarrell is proud to call North Carolina home. However, at times she’s still overcome by an unbearable desire to hang out at the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.

A lover of reading, writing and writing contests, Rosemary has placed once in WOW’s top 20 and again in the top 10. Determined to someday place in the top three, she continues to hone her writing skills in general and her flash fiction technique in particular.

Currently, Rosemary is working on an early chapter book geared for boys ages 6-9, she hopes to develop it into a wacky time-traveling series. Although a sucker for anything concerning the space-time continuum, Rosemary loves writing fiction of all sorts and plans to write in as many genres as possible.

Visit her blog at http://startyournextchapter.com/, and follow her on Twitter@rjarrellwrites.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your first place win in our Winter 2015 Flash Fiction competition. You’ve placed in our contests before, and mentioned that you were determined to someday make it to the top three. You must be excited that you succeeded!

Rosemary: Thanks, I am super excited! Although I was afraid that my saying I would continue to submit to WOW until I won could be construed as a threat-LOL. Seriously, it is a great honor. There are so many talented writers out there and I always enjoy reading the winning WOW entries. I don't envy the judges at all.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “The Williams Women?

Rosemary: Ideas typically come to me in a flash, oftentimes an image pops into my head and that's all it takes to get the creative juices flowing. In this case, I had a vision of a woman creeping out to her clunker of a car on a cold winter's morning. I then asked myself the obvious question, why is she sneaking out?

As a child in New York, whenever I was on a bus or the subway, I'd play a game called Guess their Story. In my game, I'd pick out people that caught my interest and come up with an entire backstory for them. That ability has definitely come in handy in writing. I still play that game, I guess you can say that I'm easily entertained.

WOW: My husband likes to play that game when we go out to restaurants, just for fun. A great activity for writers though! What do you enjoy about flash fiction writing versus the other kinds of writing that you do?

Rosemary: I love flash fiction because the word limit is a delightful challenge. It forces a laser focus upon your word choice. Each word counts and must propel the story forward. When you complete a flash fiction piece, you have a perfect stand-alone scene. My goal is to continue to hone that skill so that I can lay out a series of perfect scenes and create a much larger piece of work.

WOW: We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Rosemary: Strangely, I've never written while at a coffee shop. I find them too distracting and end up people watching instead of typing. My latest and current favorite writing location is my bed. I feel very John and Yoko when I write in bed. I tell my husband not to disturb me because I'm having a write-in.

Since I have insomnia, at night I'll head downstairs to our big recliner, plop my laptop desk on my lap and away I go. I'm not a structured writer, I don't have set times to write because I work full-time during the day and have a part-time Life Coach practice, so I need to be flexible with my time. I have taken to heart the concept of, you don't wait for inspiration, you make your inspiration. So at least once a day, I sit down and make myself write. Oh, I always type my stories. I made the mistake once of handwriting a piece and when I went back to it, I couldn't figure out what I had written.

WOW:  I like writing with pen and paper, but I know what you mean about trying to decipher the notes later on. And good reminder about not waiting for inspiration to strike! Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Rosemary. Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?

Rosemary: I think all beginning writers should enter contests, especially contests that have a critique component such as WOW. Not only do you get the forced deadline of the submission date, which is very motivating, but you get an expert critique as well. I have learned so much from the critiques I've received from WOW, I can't overstate how beneficial this has been to me.

The beautiful thing about the WOW contest is, you can submit your piece, get a critique, fix your entry and then submit a much better product in the next round. Some contests won't allow a previous entry to be submitted, so this is a big plus for WOW entrants.

My advice to any writer is to enter as many contests as possible. Writing is a craft that requires focus and practice, contests provide you with both.

Our Summer 2015 Flash Fiction is currently OPEN.
For details and entry, visit our contest page.

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Susan G. Weidener Launches Blog Tour for A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story

Monday, July 20, 2015
& giveaway contest

After losing her husband John M. Cavalieri to cancer in 1994, Susan G. Weidener wrote as a way to deal with her grief. After publishing two memoirs, Again in a Heartbeat: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Dating Again and Morning at Wellington Square, she pored over the pages of John's own memoirs, trying to find a way to bring the joy and pain of his experiences at the United States Military Academy at West Point to life. The result was A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story.

Paperback: 226 pages

Publisher: Writing Circle Press (April 21, 2015)

ISBN-10: 069233078X

ISBN-13: 978-0692330784

A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story is available as a print and e-book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of A Portrait of Love and Honor, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, July 24 at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:
Susan G. Weidener is a former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has interviewed a host of interesting people from all walks of life, including Guy Lombardo, Bob Hope, Leonard Nimoy, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and Mary Pipher. She left journalism in 2007 and after attending a women’s writing retreat, wrote and published her memoir, Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again, about being widowed at a young age. Two years later, she wrote and published its sequel, Morning at Wellington Square, a woman’s search for passion and renewal in middle age. Her novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor, completes the trilogy, inspired by and dedicated to her late husband, John M. Cavalieri, on whose memoir the novel is based. Susan earned a BA in Literature from American University and a master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania. An editor, writing coach and teacher of writing workshops, she founded the Women’s Writing Circle, a support and critique group for writers in suburban Philadelphia. She lives in Chester Springs, PA.

Find out more about the author by visiting her online:

Susan G. Weidener website and blog:

Susan G. Weidener Facebook:

Twitter: @Sweideheart

----- Interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: Susan, welcome! I loved your book and am so happy you decided to tour with us. A few years ago, you wrote an essay for Sonia Marsh's blog on reinventing yourself in mid-life. Can you share the story of how you did that with our readers?

Susan: After attending a women’s writing retreat and hearing others read their stories, it so inspired me that I decided I wanted to start my own writing group. I wanted to write about it all – who John and I once were and how we needed each other. In the years following his death, I had worked at my career and raised two sons and put the whole business of grief and widowhood on the backburner.

I had left the newspaper. Change presented an opportunity to rethink where I was going and write about John and what I learned from his illness. Writing can be extremely isolating; that isolation can overtake you and I sought to be with writers, meet new people, offer writing workshops, which I eventually did, and talk to community groups about memoir and the Women’s Writing Circle.

A Portrait of Love and Honor completes the trilogy of my love story with John, beginning with Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again and the sequel Morning at Wellington Square, about reinvention in middle age. Since publishing all three books in the last five years, the connections and conversations have been extraordinary. Some might call what I’ve done an “encore career”. I like to think of it as a ‘second chapter’. It’s also led to helping others find the courage and conviction to write their stories, which we did when we published Slants of Light: Stories and Poems From the Women’s Writing Circle.

WOW: How does your background as a newspaper reporter affect your writing process, particularly when writing non-fiction? Do you think it makes writing and revising harder or easier?

Susan: As a journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer for close to two decades, I was trained to be a good listener and recorder of other peoples’ stories. I primarily covered stories in the Philadelphia suburbs; every day was different. As a journalist, I got to observe people, learned to capture details, meaningful quotes; to look “for the story.” I enjoyed the challenge of learning new things – and meeting people from the ordinary to the famous.

Other than changing the names and identifying characteristics of certain people in my memoirs, it all happened and I wrote it accurately – and as absorbingly as I could. As a reporter, you learn to hone in on the interesting, “the color” and detail, which helps when writing nonfiction. I was also trained to avoid “sidetrips” . . . those vignettes that detract from the compelling narrative or heart of your story.

As a reporter I had to stay objective and behind the scenes . . . stand back, which is helpful when writing and keeping the reader in mind. I also learned to double check facts, spelling of names and places. Newspaper work taught me the economy of words which is useful when writing a book and makes revision less time consuming. Today’s readers want to immediately engage in a story or they’ll put yours down and go to another.

WOW: Your bio says you wrote your first memoir, Again in a Heartbeat, after attending a women's writing workshop. Why do you think writing workshops and critique groups are an important thing for writers to consider?

Susan: You really can’t work in isolation all the time. There’s this sense of possibility that your story may actually and truly reach an audience when you start reading it to other writers and readers in a writing group. I was also intrigued with the idea that whether we are the creator, or the recipient, we find the support to take this leap of faith onto the blank page by reading aloud. We sustain and affirm each other. We begin to tell our stories in a strong and sure voice. All of this is ideally suited for a setting where a community of writers comes together in a supportive, as well as instructional manner.

Some writers want criticism, some don’t. The goal of a group like the Women’s Writing Circle is to “test drive your voice” in front of an audience. Those considering publishing come to our critique group, too. We read the pieces in advance, bring notated copies of the work, and then offer criticism and commentary. We have guidelines we follow in critique. For example, we never refer to the person as “you” but as “the author” or “writer”.

So I would suggest women and men find a writing group in their community. Writers are avid readers and therefore make very good beta readers; they are honest and astute. And they can save you a lot of time and money!

WOW: How did the idea for Women's Writing Circle first develop? What types of relationships have you built with other writers through it?

Susan: As I said, I got the idea after attending a summer writing retreat, which was sponsored by a group called Women Writing For (a) Change. At that point in my life, it felt important to give back to others. I still feel that way. Through the Women’s Writing Circle blog, I’ve met writers from all over the world, featured their work and supported them, as they have me. I’ve even met some in person; for example, Sonia Marsh, Kathy Pooler, and Linda Joy Myers.

Some in the Circle agree that it is through our writing we have come to know each other better than many of our family and friends know us. We have thrown out a "creative lifeline" . . . one person bears witness to story, leading another and another to do the same. I’m always amazed and honored when I think how an idea to start a writing circle turned into a place where, over the last five and a half years, more than 300 women have read and critiqued their work.

WOW: Why did you decide to write A Portrait of Love and Honor as a work of fiction rather than publishing your late husband's memories of the United States Military Academy at West Point verbatim?

Susan: Of course, I believed his memoir was beautiful and meaningful, but I felt his story had a better chance to appeal to contemporary audiences if parts were excerpted and others not – and build a love story around Jay and Ava, the two main characters who meet in 1993 when Jay has been out of West Point for over two decades.

John actually wrote two versions of his story – one as memoir and the other as a novel. I was his first editor for the book, which he worked on when he was home on disability after cancer surgery. Great stories sell books and I had in mind how to turn this into a really good story, a page turner. A love story is one way to do that.

My sons were very helpful . . . they encouraged me to publish the memoir in the framework of a love story – the idea being that their father’s memoir was a “bit dry,” as my son put it; long passages about being on night patrol during combat training in New Mexico, as an example. They told me, too, that I, not West Point was his dream come true.

I felt that using the flashback technique – the narration switches from the love story in the present and told in third person to the memoir in the past and told in first person – would appeal to readers without tampering with the honesty of John’s story.

Perhaps, the biggest challenge . . . how to answer many unanswered questions in John’s memoir – questions which I never thought to ask him when I first read it. Why did he keep coming back to West Point year after year even after he saw how the system often tore down the individual spirit and soul? Was he trying to please his parents . . . his father, a World War II veteran? What role did his mother, an Italian immigrant, play? Did she desire her son commissioned in the U.S. Army to realize her own dreams and what was the connection with that and the immigrant experience? Since he wasn’t there, I had to imagine some of his story and what he might say; thus a novel.

WOW: What are some of your writing rituals?

Susan: I work for about two hours in the morning and then go to the gym or walk my dog, a yellow Lab named Lily. Sometimes, I’ll find myself shopping or taking a walk and I hurry home to write something that has occurred to me about one of the characters in my story; a thought, a turn of phrase to use in dialogue; an idea about motivation that hadn’t occurred to me before. I don’t worry about revising right away; rather I let it “percolate” overnight or for a few days, think about it and then come back to it. Writing is not like pushing toothpaste out of a tube; while it does require dedication, blood, sweat and tears, it also requires that jumpstart of inspiration and joy . . . not forcing it. I want to look forward to getting back to the work, rather than dreading it.

I also try and keep my “inner critic” down to a dull roar. Eventually, there comes a point where you have to say, “This is it. I’m going to stop here.” Otherwise, you can be caught in a vicious cycle of editing and self-doubt. I never write after dinner. That’s a time to relax.

WOW: What advice would you give aspiring memoir writers?

Susan: Write what is relevant to you. Draw from your own life experience and make sense of something – and then tell it in a way that is larger than you and engages the reader. Honesty – filtered through memory and brought creatively to the written word - produces a credibility that resonates with the reader. Remember the reader and honor the trust they bestow when they pick up your book expecting to read a worthy story transcending the “fishbowl of one life” and offering a universal message.

Tell the story as true as you can. Keep it real. No artifice. Readers know when a writer is trying to pull one over on them. Honor the authenticity of your voice; write in a confident voice; believe in your story; never write out of revenge, bitterness or anger . . . ask yourself, is this something I want my children to read years from now? If the answer is ‘no’, leave it out.

WOW: Which do you prefer writing--fiction or non-fiction? Why?

Susan: I love memoir because it represents writing as a journey into the soul—a path to self-discovery, as well as a way to develop understanding and empathy for others.

While I love memoir and feel most fiction is based in it, fiction helps me move forward as a writer. I enjoy the creative aspect and ‘taking off’ with a semiautobiographical story, for example, where I don’t have to worry about libel or offending someone. I like writing about real people, real events.

A Portrait of Love and Honor – the love story part – is about two people who find themselves irresistibly drawn to each other against all odds of meeting, let alone finding a connection . . . taking on these venerable and iconic systems by documenting their struggles and disillusionment through the written word. Ava and Jay are activists which is a wonderful common ground for connection. In that regard, I felt I could really let the love story take flight in an imaginative way, offering up not just Ava’s point of view, but Jay’s often on the same page or in the same chapter, just as Robert James Waller did in The Bridges of Madison County. In memoir, there is only one POV and that can be limiting.

WOW: What are you working on now?

Susan: Someone asked me whether I planned to continue the story of Jay and Ava. I’m really not sure. I’m not sure what the next writing project will be. It’s summer. I’m just taking it easy for now.

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

Monday, July 20 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview with Susan G. Weidener and a chance to win A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Memoir Based on a True Story.

Tuesday, July 21 @ Giving Voice to Your Story
Curious about how to write discussion questions for your book? Susan G. Weidener shares her tips at the Giving Voice to Your Story blog.

Wednesday, July 22 @ Giving Voice to Your Story
Susan G. Weidener returns to Giving Voice to Your Story with advice on how to embrace the publication of your book.

Monday, July 27 @ Write on the River
Author Bob Mayer hosts Susan as she writes an informative post on "Moving Out of the Comfort Zone: The Writer as Activist."

Tuesday, July 28 @ Create Write Now
Struggling with writing to find an authentic voice? Susan G. Weidener shares her experience, and why she believes it's important to every writer.

Monday, August 3 @ Sherry Meyer, Writer
You don't want to miss this guest post on "The Memoir Writer's Hidden Nerve."

Thursday, August 6 @ The Unfaithful Widow
Author Barbara Barth began her writing journey after losing her husband, and Susan G. Weidener shares how she found her own voice and her story with this guest post.

Friday, August 7  @ Words by Webb
Jodi reviews A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story.

Monday, August 10 @ All Things Audry
Susan G. Weidener shares why, for the local author, community is everything.

Wednesday, August 12 @ Building Bookshelves
Jodi interviews Susan Weidener about A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story.

Thursday, August 13 @ Choices
Have you ever heard the biblical story of how Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt?  Susan G. Weidener visits Madeline Sharples' blog with a compelling guest post on how writing about the past can help us heal. Plus, a bonus, as Madeline reviews A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story.

Friday, August 14 @ Lisa Hasleton's Reviews and Interviews 
Lisa Haselton interviews Susan about her latest book, A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story.

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.


Enter to win a copy of A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story by Susan G. Weidener! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget on Friday, July 24.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Lauren Baratz-Logsted Schedules the Release of Her Long Awaited Women's Fiction Novel, "The Sisters Club"

Saturday, July 18, 2015
For the last few years Lauren Baratz-Logsted has been focusing on the YA/children's portion of her career, but on August 18th she'll finally have a new book out for adults. It's called THE SISTERS CLUB, published by Diversion Books, and it's Women's Fiction about four very different women who come together to provide the sister function in each other's lives.

GoodReads' #1 Top Reviewer called it "My favorite book of the year" and NYT bestselling author Elizabeth Letts added "You will love it!"

It's currently available for preorder as an ebook at a few sites using this handy link: https://ganxy.com/i/103533/lauren-baratz-logsted/the-sisters-club

And it will also be in trade paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Sisters-Club-Lauren-Baratz-Logsted/dp/1626817057/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1431440133&sr=8-1&keywords=the+sisters+club+lauren+baratz-logsted

I personally read this book and found it to be fabulous! As someone who doesn't have any sisters of her own, I could totally relate with filling the sister function in my life with a friend. Lauren's writing is enjoyable and she does a good job keeping the reader interested. My book club is planning on reading this book within the next few months, as I've already told my friends this is an absolute must read!

Official Book Summary:

Some families you are born into. Some you choose. And some choose you.

Four women have little in common other than where they live and the joyous complications of having sisters. Cindy waits for her own life to begin as she sees her sister going in and out of hospitals. Lise has made the boldest move of her life, even as her sister spends every day putting herself at risk to improve the lives of others. Diana is an ocean apart from her sister, but worries that her marriage is the relationship separated by the most distance. Sylvia has lost her twin sister to breast cancer, a disease that runs in the family, and fears that she will die without having ever really lived.

When Diana places an ad in the local newsletter, Cindy, Lise, and Sylvia show up thinking they are joining a book club, but what they discover is something far deeper and more profound than any of them ever imagined.

With wit, charm, and pathos, this mesmerizing tale of sisters, both born and built, enthralls on every page.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sisters-Club-Lauren-Baratz-Logsted/dp/1626817057

Product Details:

Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Diversion Publishing (August 18, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626817057
ISBN-13: 978-1626817050

Author Bio:

Lauren Baratz-Logsted was an independent bookseller and buyer for 11 years before deciding to take
a chance on herself as a novelist. While trying to sell her books, Baratz-Logsted worked variously as a Publishers Weekly reviewer, a freelance editor, a sort-of librarian, and a window washer. Her first novel, The Thin Pink Line, about a woman who fakes an entire pregnancy, was published by Red Dress Ink in 2003 as their own first-ever hardcover. It was published in 11 countries and was the first book from any Harlequin imprint ever to receive a starred Kirkus review. Baratz-Logsted has since had over 20 books published for adults (Vertigo), teens (The Twin's Daughter) and children (The Sisters 8 series, created with her husband and daughter). Recently, she has published a few ebooks as well, including a comedic romance for adults, The Bro-Magnet. Baratz-Logsted lives in Danbury, CT, with her wonderful husband Greg and equally wonderful daughter Jackie.

Today's review and preview for The Sisters Club was provided by Crystal Otto. 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, four young children (Carmen 8, Andre 7, Breccan nearly 2, and Delphine 5 months), two 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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Friday Speak Out!: 5 Reasons Why You Should Use Content Curation as Part of Your Blogging Strategy

Friday, July 17, 2015
by Karen Cioffi

Content curation has been around for a while, but many bloggers don’t realize the benefits it offers.

This type of marketing falls under the content marketing umbrella and it takes advantage of other writers’ content.

While linking to another site’s post, you simply add your spin on that article, or enhance it with personal experience or additional information on the topic.

As an example, I write on social media marketing. I would find a high-ranking site’s content on social media marketing and create a blog post out of it.

I’d add one or two on my own paragraphs, giving my viewpoint on the other site’s topic then I’d link to that article.

This strategy offers a broader view and understanding of a particular topic by providing your own input and that of the source content.

Now on to the five reasons you should use this blogging strategy.

5 Benefits to Content Curation that will Boost Your Blogging Efforts

1. Simply put and most importantly, it brings your readers more ‘bang’ for stopping at your site. Rather than offering a single view of a topic, or one site’s experience, you offer your reader different viewpoints - a broader information experience.

The reader will appreciate having more information to work with and this will motivate him to appreciate and trust you. That’s the beginning of a great relationship.

2. It’s a source of ideas. Find current trends, hot topics, and new information in your niche. The content is already there, you simply add your spin on it in a paragraph or two and voila, you have a new post.

3. It’s a time saver. Using tools like Google Alerts, you can quickly find relevant information to blog about. It’s ready made content you simply add to. This allows you to blog more often with less work.

4. It can support or enhance your own blog posts, adding more value. Even if you write effective and engaging articles, the reader will find it helpful if you supplement it with additional information.

5. Linking to quality sites is an effective search engine strategy. When you link to a site that ranks high with Google, you’re noticed. It can help bring more traffic to your site and help convert visitors into subscribers. And, that’s what online marketing is all about, the ‘golden’ list.

Content curation will boost your blogging efforts. Why not give it a try and add it to your existing content marketing strategies.

* * *
Karen Cioffi is a former accountant who is now a multi-award-winning author, ghostwriter, freelance writer, editor, and author-writer online platform marketing instructor. She founded and manages Writers on the Move (a marketing group), and presents online writing and marketing workshops and webinars.

Karen has published 12 writing and marketing eBooks, the most recent, Article Marketing: Increase Website Traffic with Properly Formatted and Search Engine Optimized Content.

Join Karen Cioffi's upcoming online class, Become an SEO Writer in Just 4 Weeks, which starts on Monday, August 3, 2015.


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Characters: Tormenting them for the sake of plot

Thursday, July 16, 2015
If you write fiction, you’re probably familiar with having to torment your characters. After all, the story starts when your character has a problem that she needs to solve. As she attempts to solve it, you throw obstacles in her way so that things get worse for her and more interesting for your reader.

Part of making things bad for your character is understanding her personality. One way to do this is by answering, on her behalf, some Myers-Briggs personality type questions:

Does she focus on the outer world (Extrovert/E) or the inner world (Introvert/I)?

Does she focus on just the facts (Sensing/S) or does she interpret them (Intuition/N)?

When she makes a decision, does she look for logic and consistency (Thinking/T) or the people and their special circumstances (Feeling/F)?

In dealing with the world, does she prefer to make a decision (Judging/J) or stay open to additional information and options (Perceiving/P)?

Once you have these answers, you have your character’s personality type and you also have some clue how to drive her batty.

Let’s say your character is ISTJ (Introvert/Sensing/Thinking/Judging). This introvert is good at taking things in, figuring out what needs to be done and doing it. Put her in charge of a big project where she has to work with a large group of extroverts but has no guidelines to follow.

Or maybe your character is EIFP (Extroverted/Intuitive/Feeling/Perceiving). To torment this person, make her have to finish a job on a tight timeline and with minimal information. And her team? They’re not around to help.

For someone who is INFP (Introvert/Intuitive/Feeling/Perceiving) and feels things deeply but quietly, you would have someone betray them by revealing their deepest fears in such a way that they feel mocked or judged.

ESFP (Extrovert/Sensing/Feeling/Perceiving) will go batty in a situation where they have minimal stimulus and have to act alone.

ESFJ (Extrovert/Sensing/Feeling/Judging) is a person who loves harmony and just wants everyone to get along and cooperate. What if to solve a problem they have to create the disharmony or go against the will of the group?

I’m not saying that these personality types determine everything about your character but think about what each element means.

  • An introvert is going to be under a lot of strain if she has to lead a group.
  • An extrovert thinks that being alone is a punishment.
  • Someone who wants all of the facts is going to be stressed when making a logical leap.
  • Someone who likes to take special circumstances into consideration isn’t going to handle having to go by hard, fast rules.
  • A logical person gets annoyed when things seem random.

Play around with this for a while and see if you can come up with a way to make things even worse for your character. She won’t thank you, but your readers will be in for one heck of a ride.

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