Do you #givebooks ?

Monday, November 30, 2015
I try to do a little holiday shopping here and there through out the year but with Thanksgiving I've really pushed into overdrive. Books are one of my favorite gifts. So far my purchases include a book on pyrography (creating art by burning designs into wood or leather), one on Charles Schulz (creator of Peanuts), several Star Wars comic books and The Hungry Caterpillar for a baby shower next month. Then there's the book that I don't know the title of, that I gave to a child whose name I don't know, that lives in a place I don't know. Would you like to do the same?

Chronicle Books and First Book are teaming up this holiday season with the #givebooks project. Take the pledge to give a book this holiday season and Chronicle Books will donate a book to First Book, a non-profit organization that donates book to children and libraries in need. This is the fourth year for the program. Last year 10,000 books were donated, this year #givebooks is hoping for 30,000 books.

It's easy to take the pledge. At #givebooks you can sign up by posting on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr or, if you're really old-fashioned, by signing an online pledge. As a thank you, you can download a coloring page for adults of a jam-packed bookstore by artist Steve McDonald.

Share with us the books you plan to give this year!
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What Type of Creative Thinker Are You?

Sunday, November 29, 2015
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my creativity style. Even though I’m a writer, I don’t consider myself a very creative person. Or maybe I should phrase that a little differently—I don’t harness my creativity as often as I should. While I’m best described as a “verbal” learner, meaning I like to use words in both speech and in writing, I’m not talented in the visual arts. I don’t doodle when I take notes, trying to sketch something will completely blow my mind, and there’s no way I could stand in front of a blank canvas and fill it with anything from my own imagination. My husband is always telling me to use the “mind map” method when outlining my books, but in general, I hate outlining. I prefer to sit down at a computer and see where the story takes me. Unfortunately, this hasn’t made me a very efficient novelist.

I decided to do some reading on the topic of creativity and creative thinking. Here’s a little bit of what I learned:

According to Arne Dietrich, there are four different types of creativity with corresponding different brain activities. They are spontaneous, deliberate, cognitive and emotional. Think of inventor Thomas Edison and the methodical approach to thinking he gave each and every one of his inventions and you’ll find an example of deliberate and cognitive creativity. You can thank a hybrid of deliberate and emotional creativity for those “a-ha” moments we all experience from time to time. For any "Big Bang Theory" fans, the episode where Sheldon drives himself crazy working on a theory and then experiences a solution out of the blue when he decides to go work at The Cheesecake Factory for the day can be explained by spontaneous and cognitive creativity. Visual artists, musicians, and writers often experience spontaneous and emotional creativity (this definitely describes me).

If you look over these characteristics, I’m sure you can pick out your own creative thinking style. It was an eye opener for me. It helped me realize while I may come upon an idea spontaneously, it takes more deliberate and cognitive thinking to execute an idea to its fullest. It will take some work. That type of thinking won’t come naturally for me—I tend to be spontaneous even when I’m writing non-fiction. I don’t labor over my words for hours on end before completing an assignment. But if I want to sell more articles and books, that skill set is a necessity. Wish me luck.

How do you do most of your creative thinking—deliberate, cognitive, spontaneous, emotional, or a hybrid of two? Where would you like to improve?

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. Visit her blog at Renee's Pages.
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A Social Media Tip Worth Dancing About

Saturday, November 28, 2015
No, that's not me. Photo courtesy of
So maybe you’ve read the recent rumblings about social media, that all the tweets and status updates don’t exactly translate into mega book sales. For all those writers who found themselves sorely lacking in both time for and skills in social media, this new information was sweet, sweet validation. And to all y’all now dancing in the streets, singing, “Told you so. Told you so. Na-na pooh-pooh,” I have just one thing to say: Not so fast.

Because I think there’s still a need to make time for and develop skills in social media. And I say this knowing that I’m one of those who was out there dancing and singing.

The thing is, research has proved the importance of making meaningful connections in social media. Honestly, we’ve sort of known this all along. And social media is still a quick and easy way to share good news, to ask for support from all those real connections.

But I know there are plenty of you still fighting the social media time and effort suck. So for you, I have a tool. It’s called Thunderclap, and it seems worth a look to me for both traditional and self-published authors.

Thunderclap, according to its website, works like an “online flash mob.” A whole group of people shares the same message at the same time. An author friend—someone whom I’m connected to and always happy to support—asked if I’d participate in her Thunderclap campaign for the launch of an anthology. An anthology is a particularly good use of Thunderclap because there could be anywhere from 10 to 100 writers involved. And if each writer asks his or her friends to sign on for the Thunderclap…well, that’s a pretty big kaboom of a campaign.

I signed on—it was easy—and then forgot all about it. Until I saw the Thunderclap promo on my feed. I saw it on a couple of other mutual friends of the author, and by the end of the day, the book they’d shared had made it to an astonishingly high peak on Amazon’s list of historical fiction.

Like a clap of thunder, the book garnered a sudden burst of attention. That’s something amazing, even if the book didn’t stay up there for long.

You can try the first level at Thunderclap for free, and see what happens. Granted, it won’t do everything, but it’s a bit of a shortcut for social media stuff. Then you’ll have more time for dancing and singing in the street. Which is what you should be doing in the first place, right?

~Cathy C. Hall

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Flex Those Writing Muscles

Thursday, November 26, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving!

One thing for which I am most recently thankful is I finally got the cast on my foot removed, I’ve been slowly regaining strength in my ankle, and starting in December I can start running again. Yay!

Fun fact about me: I am an athlete. I swim competitively and dabble in triathlons and trail running, so I love being on the go. But the foot cast, followed by a bout of bronchitis, has kept my immobilized the past few weeks. This week, however, I was able to get back to the gym. Sort of.
Flex Your Writing Muscles!

After having so much time off, it is difficult to regain the motivation to exercise every day. My body doesn’t respond to the workouts like it used to. I doubt myself. It’s more comfortable to sit on the couch than go to the pool. Blah, blah, blah with the excuses.

And of course this reminds me of writing. When life gets in the way, and I go for days (weeks?!) without writing creatively, my writing muscles atrophy. So when it’s time to write again, it’s difficult to find the motivation to do it. It doesn’t come as easily as it had when I was writing every day. I doubt myself. It’s more comfortable reading someone else’s writing than producing my own. Blah, blah, blah with the excuses.

What helps – in either the exercise or the writing scenarios – is knowing that it will be difficult and uncomfortable at first, but with a little practice, I’ll ease back into it. My muscles will loosen and strengthen, and I’ll get back into a rhythm.

During the holidays, it’s easy to skip the daily writing and exercise routines in favor of family and friends. So don’t feel (too) guilty if you go for days without writing or exercising. Know it may be a little uncomfortable to get back into it again, but you will. With any luck you’ll feel even stronger and more confident than before because you’ll now know you can overcome a little muscle fatigue.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Writing!

Like the writing AND exercising? Check out the WOW! archives to see more comparisons between writing and exercise in an interview with fitness guru Jillian Michaels.

Written by Anne Greenawalt: writer and athlete. 
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Your NaNoWriMO Progress

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but several of my writing friends are, and I have been following their progress on Facebook and Twitter. I have some very hardworking, writing friends who HAVE ALREADY HIT THE 50,000 word mark. They have won NaNoWriMo, and they are celebrating with cute icons and banners on their social media pages and their blogs. I am proud of them. It is amazing to write 50,000 words in 30 days or less. 

But I also know this is the time of year when several of you who started NaNoWriMo with a bang are now feeling a bit down about yourselves and your writing. You might be at 25,000 words or even 10,000; and if you are celebrating Thanksgiving, well there go your writing days.

I say--don't be discouraged. So, you didn't finish 50,000 words--guess what? I bet that you are 10,000 words more into a novel than you would have been if it wasn't for NaNoWriMo. Am I right? So you write slow. Or maybe something happened in your family you weren't expecting. Or maybe you got the flu--but that's okay, and life happens. I'm here to tell you that you should be proud of your 10,000 or 17,000 or 45,000 words you wrote on a new novel in November. A lot of people, like me this year, didn't write any.

So here's what I want you to think about. Just humor me for a minute. When it's November 30, I want you to write on your blog or Facebook or Twitter account: your total word count, and if you didn't hit the 50,000 word mark, I don't want you to apologize. I don't want you to feel embarrassed. I want you to say: "Hey, world, I just wrote 20,000 words in November. I'm working on a YA novel. And my goal is to continue to work on it each day until it gets finished."
Because really, this is what NaNoWriMo is all about. It's not about 50,000 words really--most of us realize that is not a complete adult-length novel. It's about getting in a habit of writing every day. It's about being familiar with your story on a daily basis so part of your writing time is not spent familiarizing yourself with your novel each time you sit down. It's about creating a new work. It's about writing past writer's block. 

Celebrate with those writers who made the 50,000-word goal but be proud of yourself for whatever you accomplished because you are that much closer to a published novel on December 1.

Margo L. Dill is an editor, writing coach, and WOW! instructor. Find out more at 
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Meet Sally Hogue, Spring 2015 Flash Fiction Runner Up

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Sally Hogue lives in a small, country town near Lake Lavon in North Central Texas. These days she spends most of her time writing short stories, growing Earth-kind roses, and serving Her Majesty Queen Cleopatra (Cleo)—her sixteen year old cat. She has recently retired from teaching English at Dallas and Collin County Community Colleges; nonetheless, she continues to tutor English students several days a week at Collin.

While attending college, Sally developed a passion for writing. Her short story entitled, “Headed East,” won the fiction prize her senior year at Southern Methodist University, and another of her stories entitled, “Remembering Grandpa Jones,” placed second in a short story contest her sophomore year at Eastfield College. Both stories were published in the colleges’ magazines. She has written a novella which she continues to polish from time to time. However, her latest venture into the literary world involves writing children’s stories about a cat named Snow.

Today we are delighted to share Sally’s winning story, The Water Nymph’s Metamorphosis, and a brief interview with this rising children’s author.

WOW: Hello Sally, congratulations on your honorable mention in WOW’s Spring 2015 Flash Fiction contest! Where did you find the inspiration for The Water Nymph’s Metamorphosis?

Sally: When I was a child, I loved reading the fairytales. I often fantasized about being a fairy tale princess and running bare foot through an enchanted forest. Although it has been many years since I aspired to be such a creature, I still have an overactive imagination, and I enjoy writing imaginative, descriptive detail.

WOW: What was your process like in writing this piece?

Sally: I started with the idea of a woman who comes of age when she is in her forties—of all things. This woman suffers from unrequited love throughout her adulthood. She changes gradually over the years until she is finally able to let go of the unpleasant memories and move on with her life.

WOW: I enjoyed the symbolism and dream language you used to show the mental and emotional anguish she feels at carrying around all that history and baggage; tell us a little more about these images.

Sally: My favorite literary devices are imagery and symbolism. And, as one knows, vivid dreams are loaded with both of these elements. I dream a great deal myself, and I remember most of my dreams in color! Sometimes I feel my subconscious mind writes the script, and I just go along for the ride.

WOW: That does make for fun writing sessions! The way we followed Ann through the changes in her life spoke to me of the reflective viewpoint that comes with turning forty-five or fifty years of age (maybe because I’m on the downhill slope-“smile”). I’m not convinced a twenty-year-old could pull off the same tone. In what ways do you feel your writing or focus has changed over the years?

Sally: Indeed, the focus of my writing has evolved a great deal as I have matured as a writer. I used to write poetry and stories about ordinary things I observed in my world. Now, I have slipped into other genres: fantasy and children’s stories to name a few. These genres lend themselves to imagery and imagination. Still, I believe they address the human condition—at least as it involves sub consciousness and dreams.

WOW: Would you like to introduce us to Snow? We’d love to hear more about these children’s tales!

Sally: I have written three, going on four, stories about this sweet little cat named Snow. The first one begins as follows: “Snow was a cool cat.” And that she is. In the first story, she saves her master’s life; in the second one, she plays the mouser in the Christmas pageant and in the third one, she uses her super cat powers to evade a coyote attack when she and her family go to the desert. I plan to write twelve in all for each month of the year and illustrate all of them. I haven’t determined whether I want to make separate books of each or compile them into one larger book. In any case, I am in love with this little critter and enjoy letting my imagination go wild when writing about her.

WOW: How wonderful! We absolutely adore cat tales (pun intended). Please keep us posted on Snow and her many adventures (I can hardly wait to read them).
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Is Your Writing Space Helpful? Share Your Ideas!

Monday, November 23, 2015
Some folks write at local coffee shops, some curl up on the couch, and I suppose there are as many writing space styles as there are writers. I think best in the kitchen and I'm a foodie as well as a stress baker. When I was feeling a bit blocked with my writing, I hauled my laptop into the kitchen in hopes it might inspire something fabulous. I gained 10 pounds and my husband is sick of pastries. Still no NYTimes best seller...Apparently my ideas flow in the kitchen but it's not a helpful writing space for me.

I decided I needed to lose the 10 pounds. The day I made that decision was also the day I was scheduled for a bread making class. We chuckled as I enjoyed the yummy warm bread and joked that I was going to have one heck of a time going carb free (or even low carb if I'm honest with myself). It was a good thing I went to class though. The friend teaching it gave me several ideas on improving my writing space. My office now has dim lighting, a salt lamp, and an essential oil diffuser. I even found an essential oil blend that claims to have creative qualities (appropriately named 'Creative Juices'). It's a wee bit early to tell for sure, but I'm feeling like I may be onto something here.

My writing career started in the corporate world under fluorescent lights. The call center I worked at was anything but quiet. It didn't seem to bother me,  I'm starting to think that creating the right work space is important. What works for you? Does your writing space matter? Has it always mattered or is it something that changes? As an active journaler, I jot down ideas before my feet hit the floor each morning...but that's not really my 'writing space' if you will. Similarly, my kitchen doesn't seem to be the right writing space. I feel like I have brainstorming places but they shouldn't be confused with the actual space where I write. Not even sure that made sense, but I hope you get the drift of where I'm going here.

Toss out some thoughts about what works for you and maybe it will help inspire me or someone else. Thank you in advance for your help and I maybe let us know how you're doing with Novel writing November? How many words do you have done already?

Crystal is a church musician, babywearing mama, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 8, Andre 7, Breccan 2, and Delphine 8 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff at:
and here:
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How to write an anti-hero: What I learned from John Wick

Saturday, November 21, 2015
I have two confessions to make.

  1. I do not like antiheroes.
  2. I did not want to see this movie. My son requested in on my library card. But this movie I didn’t want to see made me realize that, done well, I can fall for an anti-hero.

When my son told me he’d requested this on my card, I popped over to see what it was about. The first line I read was “I don’t remember seeing this listed in theaters so it must have had a short run. It is unremittingly violent.”

Hmm. Not a great sales pitch, but if my son was going to check it out, I was going to watch it with him. Then we’d have a talk. (He’s 16 so I don’t PG much anymore but he’s not beyond the occasional lecture.)

And the reviewer was right. The bodies stack up. When a group of baddies break into his home to “teach him a lesson,” he kills all twelve of them. But by then I was cheering him on because I’d gotten to know a bit about him and seen his humanity.

That, my writer friends, is the key to writing a successful anti-hero. Before we see him being all surly and, in this case, deadly, we need to care about him. What is it that will tug at our hearts and make us cheer him on?

If you haven’t seen this movie yet but plan to see it, you might want to wait to finish reading this. Translation: Spoiler Alert.

Before we see John Wick off a large number of Russian Mafia-types, we see him at the beach with his wife. We see her collapse in his arms. We see him at her bedside when she dies. We are there for the funeral and when he gets the puppy that she has sent to him so that he still has something to love.

When all of this happens, we have only one clue about who he used to be. One shot shows the tattoos on his back. If you know ink, something about them will make you think “Russian mafia.” That is the only clue you have that he may be something other than a loving husband.

If you want to write an anti-hero, get the reader on his side from the start. Give a clue or two that there is something dark, that way the reader isn't entirely surprised. But if you can win this reader over first, she will be rooting for him even as you reveal who he is.


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Friday Speak Out!

Friday, November 20, 2015
Fridays are "Speak Out!" days on the blog, and we love to hear from our readers. 

Your post can be about: writing inspiration, balancing family life/parenting with writing, craft of writing fiction/nonfiction, how-tos, tips for author promotion/marketing/social media, book reviews, writing prompts, special opportunities (paying markets for writers), publishing industry news/gossip, and anything you think our readers will love.

Tip: humorous personal essays are encouraged!

Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Are Long Sentences in Your Blog Posts Good or Bad for Website Rankings?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
by Karen Cioffi

I’ve been getting more involved in my website analytics lately. Due to this, I found an interesting ranking element (elements search engines use to put a value on your website). And, it’s one I didn’t know about – sentence length.

Most writers know about sentence length in regard to writing for children and writing in general. But did you know that it also matters in your blog posts?

Apparently, long sentences reduce content clarity.

According to, a free website analytics tool, your sentence length shouldn’t be longer than 20 words. When I analyzed my website, my sentences ran longer than recommended. You should aim for less than 5% in this area. I’m at around 12 percent. OOPS.

So, now you need to think about writing quality content along with having the right number of words in each sentence. Another tidbit to add more time to your marketing schedule.

As an example of this concept, I took the content below from a sentence in one of my blog posts:
If you copy and republish content from other websites without adding any original and substantial content or value of your own, you could (most likely will) be penalized with a hit to your search ranking.
Hmmmm. Thirty-five words.

To appease the search engines and create an easier read for visitors, that sentence needs to be trimmed. That means rewriting it.

Rewriting for Clarity

Using the sentence example above, how might you rewrite it to create shorter sentences and boost clarity?
If you copy and republish content from other websites, you must include original and substantial value to your reader. If you don’t, you’ll be penalized with a hit to your search ranking.
There you go - two sentences both under 20 words. Not bad.

Here’s another way to reduce the sentence length:
Republishing content from other websites without adding original value of your own will get your rankings penalized.
One sentence – 17 words. Even better.

So, you can see that with little effort, you can easily reword a run-on sentence.

But, don’t stress too much over this. It’ll just put a damper on creativity and writing time. Do though keep ‘short sentences’ in the back of your mind. And, keep an eye out for run-on sentences.

As you keep doing this, it will quickly become a natural part of your writing and editing process that will lead to more clarity for your reader. This is turn will help you be on good terms with the search engines.

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.

In addition to this, Karen’s website, Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing, was named Writer’s Digest Website of the Week, June 25, 2012.

Join Karen Cioffi's upcoming online class, 

Learn to Write Professional, Properly Formatted, and Optimized Content 
as the Basis of a New Freelance Writing Business 
or to Add to Your Existing Services.

Visit our classroom page for details and enrollment.

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Interview with Nancy Wade: Spring 2015 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Today we welcome Nancy Wade, an inspiring writer and runner up in our Spring 2015 Flash Fiction Contest.
Nancy Wade is a recently retired Pediatrician and Public Health Physician. She continues to serve as a medical writer and editor. She has had many years of interest in writing but only recently set aside the time to write full time. She is an MFA candidate at Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine where she expects to receive her MFA in creative writing in December 2015.

In addition to medical writing, she is working on her first novel, an anthology of short stories about resilient women. She has published short stories for children and many gardening articles. In addition to her writing, Nancy volunteers as a master gardener and raises golden retrievers. She lives in upstate New York with her physician husband.

Read Nancy's winning entry, Fragile, and come back for an interview with Nancy that will inspire you to get back to your own writing projects!

WOW: Nancy, congratulations on placing in the Top 10 of the contest! I love how you blended you medical background into the heart of a touching flash fiction piece. What types of medical writing do you do? Is it hard separating medical writing and editing from your creative writing style?

Nancy: I work on medical editing and writing clinical protocols that are used to help physicians taking are of patients. I think medical writing falls into another compartment in my brain! The more writing I do though in any area, the better my writing becomes. The skill is transferable.

WOW: You are scheduled to complete your MFA in creative writing in just a few months. In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of the work required to receive this type of degree?

Nancy: As a writer who primarily studied science and highly technical material even in college, my MFA has given me the time to read so many wonderful novels, to study my craft, and to interact with so many talented mentors and other students. Most importantly, the MFA program has given me the discipline to sit at my desk and write for hours at a time (something I love doing). The MFA is a little like jump-starting your car instead jump-starting your writing. I feel like I've gained an enormous volume of information that feeds my writing and helps me grow.

WOW: Have you entered other writing competitions before? How did you hear about this particular contest?

Nancy: I frequently look at the WOW! website because of the useful information on the site and the courses offered. I do enter contests periodically. They are a challenge, fun, and sometimes I win!

WOW: Well, we won't argue with that! In regards to all the reading you do, who are some of your favorite authors?

Nancy: This is a tough question because to make a list slights so many others. I love Toni Morrison, Anne Patchett, Tim O'Brien, Sebastian Barry, Junot Diaz, Elizabeth Gilbert--but that is only the tip of the iceberg!

WOW: You are interested in a variety of writing genres. As a retired physician, how many hours a day do you devote to your writing? What is an average day like for you now?

Nancy: I write at least 4-6 hours every day. Sometimes, other parts of life interfere, but that is my plan each day. I get up as if I were going to work--shower, have coffee, walk the dogs, go to my desk and get at it. Usually around 2 PM, I get sleepy and run errands, hang out with my husband, do housework, chores, prepare dinner, whatever, take another walk or a short nap. After dinner is another productive time, so I often work for a few hours in the evening, often until quite late when I am on a roll. Morning and evening are my most productive writing times, and I fit the rest of my life in around that time.

WOW: We should all be so dedicated! Thanks again for a great interview, Nancy. We wish you continued success and many more contest wins!
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Seeking Bloggers to Join Blog Tour for Destiny Allison's Book The Romance Diet

Monday, November 16, 2015
Destiny Allison first toured with WOW! Women on Writing after the publication of her first book, Shaping Destiny: A Quest for Meaning in Life and Art. She followed Shaping Destiny with two novels, Pipe Dreams and Bitter Root, and is back with a new memoir, The Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage on Ourselves. Her blog tour starts Jan. 11, 2016, and we are currently seeking interested bloggers to host Destiny during her four-week tour. If your blog is selected for the tour, you will receive an e-book to review, and Destiny is also available for interviews and guest blog posts on the topics of body image, invisibility, healthy and equal relationships, long-term effects of trauma, and the effects of cultural norms on women's self-esteem. You can preview the first three chapters of The Romance Diet here.

About The Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars We Wage on Ourselves:

Brave, raw, and unflinchingly honest, this book is a weight loss journey, a love story, a heart beating loudly on the page. Every day we battle against something--injustice, our spouses, our weight. Seldom do we acknowledge the real wars we wage. Repressing feelings and silencing our voices, we suffer under the surface, attributing emotional distress and unwanted pounds to the inescapable effects of hormones or age.
But weight gain, anxiety, and marital difficulties aren't always so easy to explain.

In her poignant and touching memoir, Allison doesn't offer recipes, exercise tips, or advice. Instead, she shows us how to stand up, express what we want, and develop empathy for ourselves and the people we love. In doing so, she provides invaluable insight for those seeking to lose weight, save a marriage, or make a significant life change.

Includes a Readers Guide.

About the Author:
Destiny Allison was a professional and award-winning sculptor. Her work is collected by individuals, civic entities, and corporations worldwide. When an injury required her to re-envision her life, Allison did what she always does. She applied her explosive creativity and dog-with-a-bone tenacity to new endeavors.

In 2011 she was named Santa Fe Business Woman of the Year. Her community building efforts and innovative business model transformed a bankrupt shopping center into a thriving community and commercial center.

In 2012 she published her first book, Shaping Destiny: A quest for meaning in art and life. The book won best independent non-fiction/memoir in the 2013 Global Book Awards.

Since then, she has published two novels and opened a general store.

Allison believes that one’s life is one’s greatest work of art. Hence, she flows freely between mediums. Unafraid to make mistakes and always passionate, she lives in Santa Fe, NM.

More info at:,
Facebook: Destiny Allison Books
Twitter: sfsculptor

Interested in hosting Destiny Allison? E-mail Blog Tour Manager Renee Roberson at and let her know if you would like to review the book before its release, interview the author, or receive a guest blog post.
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The Publication Path, First to Last Draft

Sunday, November 15, 2015
Last weekend, I attended a workshop on nonfiction writing, and the author had lined up a whole slew of her books. In front of the books, she’d placed a row of manuscripts. I’d assumed that each manuscript went with each book.

“Oh, no,” said the author, Heather L. Montgomery. “Those are the manuscripts I wrote for How Rude. And that’s not even all the manuscripts!”

How Rude, Real Bugs Who Don’t Mind Their Manners is Montgomery’s latest release, a fun and informative bug book published by Scholastic. She had the idea for the book nine years and way more than a dozen drafts ago.

Sure, there were other factors than the manuscript on this particularly winding path to publication. But like all publishing journeys, it began with an idea and the first draft.

For new writers, it’s hard to hear about seventh, eighth, tenth, twentieth, fiftieth drafts. When we finally put pen to page with a wonderful idea, we’re just proud to finish. But perhaps, reading over our work, we realize there could be improvements, and so we revise. Whew! The second draft is completed. But then, we decide to join a critique group and after a bit of feedback and revision, we have a third, or maybe even a fourth draft.

Four drafts should be enough, right?

Maybe. If you’re writing a short, 500-word article, you might need only a draft or two. But if you’re working on a 500-word picture book, you may need a ton of drafts. So how do you know when you’re done?

Having a critique group or critique partner is really helpful. They can look for consistency and continuity in your work with more objective eyes than you. And for novels, if you can afford it, an editor who can give you feedback on the big picture is invaluable. And often, you just need to give yourself time for the journey, whether it’s a fact-filled book or just a blog post.

A few days ago, I sat down to write a post on my personal blog with an idea about synchronicity and a book I’d read years ago. But midway through, in writing about my mom and a song and synchronicity, the post changed directions. And I was blessed with a remarkable insight, one that I might have missed if I’d rushed—and stayed on the track of my original idea.

The path to publication is not always an easy walk in the park. Sometimes, you have to follow the rocky road strewn with obstacles, or meander along, searching high and low, and unfortunately, you might find yourself at more than one dead end. But all those drafts will eventually lead you to the last draft, and a good home for all your hard work.

~Cathy C. Hall

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Learning From People Who Have Changed Their Lives

Saturday, November 14, 2015
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to mentor some beginning writers at a writing conference at the University of Missouri, Columbia. (Yes, this is the same place that has been in the news all week because of the student who was on a hunger strike, the football team refusing to play, and the president resigning.) At the wonderful conference, put on by the Columbia Writer's Guild and Mizzou Publishing, I was also lucky to hear Colin Wright speak. This 30-year-old entrepreneur from Columbia is living what he preaches--he was unhappy with his fast-paced, California business life right out of college (Missouri State), and so he changed his life. And he told us how he did it--you know he sold his stuff, moved, started a blog, wrote books.

But what was amazing to me, and what is amazing to me with many of these stories, is how one day a person decided:

I'm unhappy. This is not the life I want.

And then he or she has a plan and puts it into action.

Colin wasn't saying that everything he tried worked. But what he was saying loud and clear to us several times was that he is supporting himself with his books, which he self-published and then started his own publishing company with friends. He works hard; he markets; he comes up with new and innovative ideas for book events. All of us could do this or something like this that fits our lives and dreams.

Again the big point I took away from his talk was--he wanted change and he got it.

After he told us his story, he shared with us several tips he followed to start living his dream. I honestly can't remember every tip he had, and that's not important either. But what I do remember is that he was talking mostly about priorities. He doesn't believe the excuse--I don't have time to write. I don't have time to change.

And he's correct. We all have time--it's about our priorities. And don't beat yourself up if your priorities are your family instead of being a bestselling author. That's okay. But be honest with yourself and stop beating yourself up. Ask yourself: what is my priority? Is there something (like Netflix) that is taking up my time and is not a priority for me?

If you want change and it's a priority, there will be time.

We live in a world that is uncertain. I think this morning that fact is more in our face than ever with the recent world events. Find someone you respect, who has recently changed his/her life (if you are looking for change, that is)--I'm choosing Colin Wright, but you may find someone else--and ask this person how he/she did it. Just have a conversation. You don't have to do exactly what he or she did. You may not be able to. But remember the biggest piece of advice I took away from Colin's talk: if something is a priority for you, you will find the time and a way to make this happen in your life. 

What do you want your life to look like? How does writing play a part?

Margo L. Dill is the author of three books for kids from preK to 12th grade. You can find out more about her and her books at  She also teaches classes for WOW!, which you can check out in our classroom here
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Friday Speak Out!: Let It Go

Friday, November 13, 2015
by Jane Petreycik

I’ve been so torn lately I feel like I’m cracking up. I’ve written a screenplay, which placed in two competitions, and I’m working on another, currently the outline. I should say, I’m TRYING to work on it. I tell people who might marvel at the fact I wrote a screenplay that it was nothing compared with getting someone to actually READ it. Time and again I’ve been turned down. Same old story, depending on the production company and the mode of query. Either “we’re not interested in the subject matter at this time” or “we don’t accept unsolicited material.” Fine. I get it. My script is a fantasy feature with rom com elements. Fantasy as in A LOT of CGI (computer generated imagery). Independent studios wouldn’t touch it. I need to go big.

I am obsessed with a particular producer/director/writer. I’m a huge fan of his work and I’d love for him to take this thing on. I even sent a snail mail to his production company, perfectly composed, short but sweet so it doesn’t take up too much of his (or his assistant’s) time. Weeks go by and nothing. I start thinking more and more about writing that other script at this point. I finally call the company, only to learn that they, as expected, don’t accept unsolicited material. But he’s such a nice guy. He’s been there, in my position. How could he not want to read my script? It’s perfect for him.

Months go by and I discover that he has an Instagram account, which I have not. I have since become a stalker. Thinking outside the box, a year later, I join Instagram – just to be able to message him personally (since I realize my letter went directly into the circular file). And now I’m waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I go with a friend to Manhattan for the day, to do research for the other script, which has become more than a thought now, and I come home and TRY to work on it. And I still wait. Nothing. I just learned, through Instagram of course, that a week after my friend and I were in Manhattan, HE WAS THERE! Why couldn’t we have gone a week later? Sure, we were in the Battery and he was in Times Square, but you never know. Sure, we rode different subways, but still… I asked someone if they wanted to go to New York, now, and they laughed. But a tiny part of me was serious.

This isn’t a romance, but I feel this strange urge to watch the movie “Sleepless in Seattle,” since I identify with the premise of East Coast woman becomes obsessed with West Coast man she doesn’t even know (I won’t mention how he thinks she’s probably nuts). I continue to work on the other script. Then I realize that’s what we do. We write to write. I have to let it go. What’s meant to be will be.

* * *
Jane Petreycik is currently a freelancer. Her first screenplay placed Runner Up in the Acclaim Scripts screenplay competition and was an Official Finalist in the New York Screenplay Contest. She is now working on her second script.
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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Peachy Almond for the Antichrist

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Peachy Almond for the Antichrist; Flash Fiction Piece by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

Lisa walked into our tot music class with a smile, a bottle of Naked Peachy Almond, and a little blonde trailing behind her. I took notice of her disheveled hair, worn shoes, and tattered leggings. They seemed out of sync with her health drink and desire to give her daughter the best musical start our small Midwestern community had to offer. I smiled politely and went back to playing with Ophelia and Oliver. Our infant twins kept me busy until our older children came home from elementary school. Once all four children were home, I was beyond busy which meant music class was one of the most relaxing points in my schedule. Ronnie, my husband, traveled for work so it was just me during the week. Lisa sat down not far from us.

“Hi, I’m Phoebe and this is little Olivia and this handsome young man is Oliver.” I said with a welcoming smile.

“Hi” was all she could say as she looked at her worn toed shoes.

“And who do we have here?” I asked while motioning to the quiet little girl who was obviously just as uncomfortable as her mother.

“Julia. She’s three. I’m Lisa.” Was all she could say.

(I was thinking "HELLO...flippin look at me!!" but I managed to act like an adult.)

“Well, it’s nice to meet you both. Oh Julia, please be careful with Oliver. He’s only 6 months old so we have to be very gentle.” I reminded her calmly. She hadn’t really been hurting him. She seemed to be wanting him to play, but he was about to topple over as she pushed the plush bear into his face. I looked apologetically at Lisa. I hoped I hadn’t offended her by giving her child some guidance.

“She had a brother that age. He died. That’s why she wants to play with him.” Lisa said very matter of factly as she took a swig of her Peachy Almond.

“I’m so sorry.” Was all I could squeak as the air escaped my body.

“It’s okay.” Said Lisa as she and Julia walked away to play in a different area of the classroom.

It wasn’t okay. I wasn’t okay.

I wanted to jump up, scoop up my babies, and run home as fast as possible. I endured music class but couldn’t find my happy. I watched Lisa and Julia and instead of feeling sympathetic toward a mother who had lost a son and a girl who lost a brother I felt cold. Any joy contained in the air was being sucked away and converted into something dark. We left at the end of class and instead of stopping for our usual coffees and ice-cream cones; we went straight home for a nap. A very restless nap for all involved.

The following morning, my dear friend Lillie stopped in for pastries and coffee. She innocently asked if I was feeling alright. She mentioned I didn’t look quite right. I explained I just couldn’t shake the feeling of darkness and gloom. I replayed the encounter with Lisa and Julia and told Lillie how terrible I felt because my emotions seemed completely out of whack.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It’s not very Christian of me…shouldn’t I have offered her a hug or some words of comfort?” I asked my friend.

Lillie offered some wise advice “maybe next time, but don’t beat yourself up. You can’t change what happened yesterday.”

Lillie was right. I agreed and we changed the subject. Unfortunately it wasn’t that easy to change the doom and gloom that seemed to have made its way into my thoughts.

The clock read 3:28am. I looked around the room. The twins were sleeping quietly, the dogs were snoring away in their beds, and my handsome husband was beside me with his hand on my thigh.

I wasn’t sure why I was awake, but I grabbed my tablet and did a google search: Lisa Julia Baby Obituary

The results of the search brought me to the obituary which lead me to an article I read several times the year before.

The headline read: ‘Man, woman sentenced for infant's death’

I couldn’t stop digging. I needed to know the details of why this woman was walking around and not behind bars. I had felt enraged the first time I read the article After meeting this woman face to face I wasn’t sure how to feel. I just knew I would never allow her anywhere near me or my family again. The tears fell quietly as I prayed until the sun came up.

Thank you for checking out today's flash fiction story. Are you working on your own flash piece for one of the upcoming WOW! Women on Writing contests? If not, you should be! We would love to hear from you!

Crystal is a church musician, babywearing mama, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 8, Andre 7, Breccan 2, and Delphine 8 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff at:
and here:
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Wanted: Boring Hobby

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
I've been writing an essay for an anthology...or rather not writing it. Swimming is the theme and I was drowning. It seemed the more I thought about it the worse things got. The few ideas I did get were so bad. And the few I started to halfheartedly write quickly fell to pieces.

Thankfully my day job saved me. I work for a local newspaper that, among other things, publishes the honor roll lists for the sixteen school districts that are located in the paper's reading area. That's close to 50 schools and a LOT of names. Since report cards were handed out this week, the lists are arriving in my email inbox. Mostly, it's cut and paste getting all those names into the Honor Roll template. But some schools have their lists in Excel documents and I end up retyping them in a more compatible format. It's an easy but boring job. The lists are already alphabetized so it feels like one of the exercises we used to do in high school typing class (yes, typing class - I'm that old!). I barely half to think about it, my fingers just do all the work on auto pilot.This is a good thing because, while part of my mind is occupied with retyping, most of my brain is free to wander. And yesterday my brain wandered to swimming. Successfully I might add!

We've all heard the advice to switch writing projects if you hit a block. But I've found that Honor Roll lists are just as helpful. If you are not lucky enough to have hundreds of star students' names to type can I suggest a hobby. Not a thinking oil painting, piano playing or chess. What you need is a repetitive task that will take up just a small part of your brain activity, leaving the rest to wander. Perhaps Solitaire, crocheting, shooting baskets. If it wasn't getting chilly here in Pennsylvania I would suggest fishing.

Naturally, you are all sworn to secrecy. We wouldn't want my boss to know I only use half my brain at work :)

One another note, Honor Roll lists are a great place to find names for your characters!
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Interview with Vera Constantineau, Spring 2015 Runner Up

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Today we welcome Vera Constantineau, a talented writer, and runner up in our Spring 2015 Flash Fiction Contest.

Vera lives in Copper Cliff, Ontario, Canada. Primarily she writes short fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in newspapers, anthologies, magazines and e-zines. In addition, Vera has read her work on Canada’s public broadcaster, the CBC. She is past President of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, a member of the Writers Community of Durham Region, and a Charter Member of the Manitoulin Writer’s Circle.

We’ll be asking Vera more about her radio stardom! First, please enjoy her winning entry, Smoke and Mirrors. Be sure to come back for an interview with Vera Constantineau!

WOW: Hello Vera, congratulations on your placement in WOW’s Spring 2015 contest! When did you first fall in love with writing?

Vera: I fell in love with writing/storytelling when I was very young. Listening as my mother told stories to my sister and me about her younger life inspires me to continue her tradition.

WOW: How wonderful to have that experience connecting you to your mother! You mentioned reading your work on a local radio station; there must be a story behind that! 

Vera: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, with its many stations across Canada, really is the voice of Canadians. It regularly offers time to listeners to tell stories they believe will be of interest to others. In my case, I wrote and read the tale of a housefly playing in our ceiling fan, flying in an out many times, until its fateful miscalculation when the fan blade killed the fly. I have written about adoption, illegitimacy and my favorite hand held device (the telephone). I have read some of my seasonal poetry as well. Hearing my own work on the radio is always fun and a great experience.

WOW: Tell us about your experience writing Smoke and Mirrors--what was your inspiration, and which came first, the story or the characters? 

Vera: Character definitely came first with Smoke and Mirrors. Judy is a compilation of many women I have met who smoke most of them began because they thought smoking glamorous, or cool. I feel Smoke and Mirrors is something of a cautionary tale, but I doubt anyone will stop smoking because I took the time to write the smoking process down in full but it would be rewarding if they did.

WOW: I particularly enjoyed your lead-in as you show the younger girl so enamored. Many writers have difficulty with the opening paragraph; what tips can you offer?

Vera: The arc of a short story: killer opening sentence, rising action, climax, reducing action, and killer ending sentence. I try to bring killer to the table every time.

WOW: What are you working on now?

Vera: I am working on a short story that asks writers to use the phoenix as their prompt and inspiration.

WOW: That’s a great many places to go with that! Thank you for visiting with us, Vera. We hope to see you back again.
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Writing Time

Monday, November 09, 2015
Recently a new writer asked me how I work. Am I one of those people who writes in snatches of time? Or do I plan out blocks of time?

I started to explain that I write in short bursts, squeezing it in . . . and then it hit me. I used to write around nap time and snack time and play time. I was really good at flying through a page and getting it down fast. Sometimes I still work that way, but not most of the time.

For 9 months out of the year, I know I am going to have from 7 am until 3 pm free, Monday through Friday. I’m a big block of time writer and I didn’t even realize it. Yeah, I can be really observant that way.

How do you write?

Some people have full time jobs. This means that they have to squeeze writing time in wherever they can. Some get up early to write. I have never been one of these people because I am not a morning person. One of my friends, a school counselor, wrote her first novel 15 minutes at a time on her lunch breaks sitting in her car.

But not everyone can write in these short bursts. They need longer blocks of time. This might mean sending the kids out in the yard with your husband. Or, you could schedule a writing weekend. One of my friends rents a cabin once a year. That way she has not only hours at a time but days.

The thing that I’ve found most important, even when I don’t realize that I’m doing it, is to be flexible. When my father was in the hospital, my several hours a day disappeared. I wrote standing up in the ER, in his hospital room and waiting for him to get out of X-ray. Not only was I writing in short bursts, I had to be mobile.

What worked for you last month might not work this month but that’s okay. Find the solution that works for you right now. Then when things change, come up with a new one. We all do it even if we aren’t paying attention at the time.


Sue is the instructor for our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins on January 11, 2016.
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How to Get an Editor's Attention

Saturday, November 07, 2015
©  | Dreamstime Stock Photos
I’m working at a magazine right now subbing for a colleague on maternity leave, and I had forgotten exactly how much e-mail an editor receives on a daily—I’d even venture to say hourly—basis. Halfway through the first day I had to get up from my chair, take a stroll, and give my eyes a rest. I also knew I already my next blog post topic ready for WOW!

The majority of electronic correspondence an editor receives is from someone pitching something—whether it’s article idea, a product, a local news event, etc. But even though we all know you have to research the market you’re pitching first, not everyone does. Public relations firms are focused on results, and to receive results, they send out as many queries as possible. In my experience, you only have a minute or so to get the attention of an editor, if that. An intriguing subject line is a good start but you have to follow through.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts for freelance writers and PR pros to keep in mind when pitching a magazine, newspaper or web editor:

Do provide detailed information in your correspondence. Many magazines have sections that run local community news and events. Editors are looking for good tidbits of information for these sections, and are more likely to run an event that has a good amount of background information, dates, times, locations, and even a quote from someone affiliated from the event already put together.

If your pitch is time sensitive, do give enough lead time. I received several e-mails this week for things that were happening a week to two weeks from now. I work at a monthly magazine that’s already laying out December and January issues. That doesn’t work for us. Luckily, we do have a daily blog on our website that could list events happening just a few days out, but not all publications have that luxury.

Do include high-resolution photos if you have them. Images make for more compelling content—you don’t read magazines or blogs that don’t have good images, do you? An editor is more likely to use your event/product/idea if you include photos along with the above two items. Caption suggestions are also a bonus.

Don’t be presumptuous. It’s one thing to confidently pitch an idea or a story, but saying things like “we envision this making a great multi-page article full of photos,” is a turn off to an editor. Most publications don’t have room to give that much space to one organization, and statements like that come off as amateurish.

Don’t use a misleading subject line. When editors (such as ones working at a parenting magazine) are looking to fill in their editorial story budgets, they get excited when they see an e-mail pop up that says something like “top common childhood illnesses.” It’s disappointing and frustrating to then open the e-mail pitching nothing related that topic besides “the latest and greatest” infant thermometer. There are ways to engage with a subject line without pulling a bait and switch.

What tips do you have for pitching an editor successfully? Share in the comments below.

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. For more information, visit her website.
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Oh What A Post!

Thursday, November 05, 2015
While trying to think up a writing idea for you, I decided to clean out my inbox (you never know what you’re going to find in an inbox, right?) and crank up Jersey Boys.

So I’m a big fan of the Four Seasons and before I made it through even a half-dozen emails, I was singing (loudly). Possibly chair-dancing. And I didn’t have even a teensy germ of an idea for you. But as big girls don’t cry, I figured I’d just have to turn off the music—and that’s when it hit me: writing and music.

I have a friend who always listens to music when writing. She puts on the headphones and jams out, generating two or three thousand words at a sitting. Me? I can’t write ten words with music playing. If it’s music with words, I almost always start singing along (whether I know the words or not). And if I hear something that I recognize but never really paid much attention to back in the day, I still stop and listen. Because I’m amazed at what I’m hearing. I’ll invariably think, “Gee. I had no idea that song was about that.” It’s a no-win, no-write situation.

Maybe, I could listen to an instrumental and accomplish something; honestly, I’m not sure. But I can see how an instrumental could help set a tone while writing.

The friend I mentioned? She listened to "Tubular Bells" from The Exorcist while working on an edgy young adult manuscript. She said it was the perfect music to get her in the right (or wrong, as the case may be) frame of mind for the story. And that makes sense to me. I mean, if everything’s lollipops and butterflies in one’s personal life, it might be difficult to channel angst and destruction on the page. There’s nothing like a good, creepy song to get the creative, murderous vibe flowing.

Conversely, as a writer who primarily writes the funny, I don’t always feel the funny. Sometimes, I need to do something to take me away from my real world so that I can make others laugh. I might watch funny videos and yep, I might even listen to music (I recommend Julie Andrews, by the way).

How about you? I’m curious, especially during this National Novel Writing Month, how many of us writers need music (or any background noise) for the process. I’d love to understand how and why it works because I listened to Jersey Boys while (sort of) writing up this post. And as much as I love you, baby, I just can’t write to music.

~Cathy C. Hall
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Which Publication Path is Right For You?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015
In today's publishing world, you have several choices when pursuing publication of a book-length work. You can try to secure an agent, send directly to a small or mid-size press, create your own publishing company, pay a company to publish your book and more. With all of these choices available, how do you decide which publication path you should take for your manuscript?

Besides being educated about the different publishing models, you really have to start with asking yourself some questions--and honestly answering them.  These are questions about your work and about your audience and career goals. If you have a finished manuscript or almost completed one, or you are in the midst of NaNoWriMO, take some time to answer the following to see what publication model will most likely work best:

  • Who is the audience for your book?
  • How do these people generally get their books? (Amazon? Bookstore? Ebooks? Walmart?)
  • What is your budget for publishing your book?
  • What is your budget for marketing?
  • If you decide to self-publish, what skills (graphic design, ebook formatting, etc) do you possess to save money?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Is this a book series or a stand-alone book? Do you have other book ideas?
  • Should you do ebooks? Print books? Both? 
Here's an example. I taught a class on publishing models in a community education program last week. One of the women wants to publish a workbook to go along with her motivational workshops on overcoming grief. She speaks to several different audiences; and many times when the workshop is over, she has received requests for a workbook to further the participants' progress. If she has any budget for publishing, my suggestion to her was finding the most inexpensive, but professional, way to publish her own workbook.

Her career is not really "writer"--her career is speaker and workshop leader. She also has a built-in audience for her book, but I'm not sure it's national enough that a publishing company would pick her up. And she wants control--she wants to control the material and help her workshop participants through their journey. So self-publishing is the way to go for her idea.

But in the same class, a man who has won some awards and had great feedback on a literary historical fiction novel for adults, should not self-publish. He wants to make a career out of writing. He already has written two manuscripts. He is writing fiction for the literary market. Often these readers buy their books at a bookstore or get them from the library. His best bet is to pursue traditional publishing by either getting an agent or submitting to university and regional presses.

No one can really know what to do for your project, but you. It's worth taking some time away from the Internet, where everyone has an opinion on what you should do, and asking yourself the above questions to choose what is actually right for you.

Margo L. Dill teaches writing classes for WOW! Women On Writing. Find out more about her and her books at .

photo above by purpleslog at

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Meet Flash Fiction Runner Up, Julie Kent

Tuesday, November 03, 2015
Julie Kent is originally from the small town of Ambler Pennsylvania, which is a suburb of Philadelphia; however, she made the move to Salisbury, Maryland 26 years ago and that is where she plans to stay. She works in a busy medical office but she is also working toward a master’s degree in English Creative Writing. She loves to read and write. Her passion for writing came later in life as a means of escaping the hectic life she lives. She writes a lot of poetry and short stories, but this is actually the first time she got the nerve up to submit to a contest. Her biggest supporter is her husband, Larry who tells her every day that she can do anything as long as she believes in herself.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the top ten in our Spring 2015 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to submit, since it’s the first writing contest you’ve ever entered?

Julie: First of all, let me just say thank you. I am so excited to have placed in the top ten with my story. Honestly, I was just looking around on the internet for journals to submit some of my work to for publication when I came across your contest. I knew I wanted to be a part of it right away because this was the first thing I had come across that was just for women and it was for people of my age. My biggest inspiration was my husband but WOW's open prompt was right up my ally. When you are told to write about whatever you want, you jump on it. I have to say that I was nervous with this being the first time I submitted anything, but when I started writing my story I became more confident. I was only hoping for a publication. I didn't think I would win anything but now that I have, I am submitting to other places and entering more contests. Thank you for giving me that confidence.

WOW: So glad it worked out for you! What encouraged the idea behind your story, “What Is Your Emergency?”

Julie: It's funny because this story just came to me. I like to read and write suspense/ thrillers and my husband spent a lot of time working for an ambulance company and the fire department, so I thought an emergency call would be easy for me to write about. I used names of people and streets that I am familiar with and from the first line of the story, the words just happened on the paper. I also watch a lot of police shows on the television. I think these emergency situations get our attention on the television and movie screens so I wanted to see if I could do it on paper. I know a good "hook" always grabs my interest; I'm glad I was able to get yours.

WOW: You mention that working toward a master’s degree in English Creative Writing. Could you share a bit about that experience, and why you chose to pursue that path?

Julie: My choice to go to college at this stage of my life was primarily to get an English degree in Linguistics and/or Literature because, ultimately, I want to teach a couple of college courses. As I was getting further into my studies I noticed that the classes I liked the most were the writing classes and when your teachers tell you that you have a talent, it encourages you to pursue it. I changed my major to creative writing and that is where I want my focus to be when I have my own classroom. My ultimate goal is to publish a novel.

WOW: We’d also 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?

Julie: My writing rituals vary depending on what I am writing. I write a lot of poetry as well as short stories. When I am writing a poem I listen to loud hard rock music. I know it's weird, but the music and the lyrics of my favorite artists create something inside of me that I can't really explain. My passion for poetry actually came from music. When I write a short story the scenery is very different. I need quiet. I will either sit in my house or outside on my swing. My husband put the swing up just for my writing. I don't have any special time of the day that I write. It is just something that strikes me. I get the urge and just do it.

WOW: Those are interesting writing rituals! Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Julie. Before you go, can you share your favorite writing tip or advice with our readers?

Julie: You're welcome! It was my pleasure and thank you for everything. I think the biggest bit of advice I can give the readers and aspiring writers here would be to just do it. What I mean is; when you are scared or shy and feel you are not ready to share your writing with everyone, just do it! Once you start submitting your stories for other people to read and you get feedback from professionals, you will gain so much confidence. I would like to wish the best of luck to everyone. Thank you.


Our Fall 2015 Flash Fiction Contest is currently OPEN
For details, visit the contest page.
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WOW! But…I’m a Man?

Monday, November 02, 2015
Some of you dear readers may be new and others may be fully aware that I’ve managed book blog tours for many men over the years. Each of these tours started with a similar question concerning my interest in doing a tour based on the sex of the author. Last week I received an email beginning with the following question:

“I'm a guy. Is that a show-stopper?”

Love that question! The answer is”


My favorite author is Wally Lamb and many of the male authors who have toured with WOW! have come back for more, or are working on their next book and plan on touring with WOW! again! We have no problem with the sex or gender of the author, as long as the content is appealing to women readers. This means pretty much anything is a go. However, my response generally includes a request to read an advance copy of the author’s book so I can make sure it’s interesting and worthy of a WOW! tour. I hate to disappoint you dear reader!

If you or someone you know, whether male or female have a book that would appeal to the WOW! readership, please send them our direction. The authors I have worked with have been very happy with how WOW! Blog Tours present them to readers. Often readers they may not have reached doing publicity on their own. This is also a great way to save time—allowing authors time to write their next book, be with family, or attend life events.

Get Involved (whether you are a man or woman)! 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

Who has been your favorite WOW! touring author? Who would you like to see touring with WOW!? Leave your ideas, suggestions, thoughts and comments as commentary on this post – we love hearing from you!

Photo Courtesy of Oh! Photography

Crystal is a church musician, babywearing mama, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 8, Andre 7, Breccan 2, and Delphine 8 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff at:
and here:
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