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Thursday, October 31, 2019

 

Should Books Have Trigger Warnings?

Recently, I was reading someone's blog post that was reviewing a Stephen King book. I can't really recall what the book was, but a comment by the blogger gave me pause. They mentioned how they wished there were trigger warnings for some of the content in the book. So, this made me wonder - should books have trigger warnings for specific content?

In all my life reading, I have never thought to expect that. However, I have to admit, there have been several times when reading a book that I've thought, "Yikes, I wish I hadn't read that scene." And sometimes, it even turns me away from the author completely.

I think the idea of trigger warnings have come around more recently. I did a little digging on the subject and found quite a few articles that don't exactly support the idea. In fact, one article written by a professor who discussed this very issue stayed with me. She says in the article, "I want to tell my students: sometimes I might not warn you. Not out of malice, but because I care. Because the outside world is full of triggers." (Read it in full here).

And it's an excellent point. As writers, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, we're either writing about reality or we're inspired by it. And often they are raw and painful moments or topics. And if we ask for trigger warnings in books, I wonder if we run the risk of editing out reality. Or not publishing reality at all.

But then while writing this blog post, I did some further digging on Google to find different perspectives and found a really good guest post on the subject and how writers can do it. You can read it here. The guest post writer, author Bran L Ayres says, "Being triggered can feel a lot like that, except throw in graphic memories of a trauma and extend the time over hours and days. It is not fun, and it pretty much guarantees I’ll never read anything you write again."

It's quite possible that when we hear or read the term "trigger warning," we don't exactly know what it means. Or maybe I should personalize it and say that I don't really understand what it means. We're in a day and age where we, as a society, are trying to have important discussions about mental illness and mental health. We have warnings for movies (in fact, IMDB has a "parental guide" where you can see if there are violent scenes or explicit sexual content). So, why not have some type of warning system inside of books?

I found another interesting guest post on the subject where a reader had left a comment for the author where they said, "Trigger warnings are for people who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As someone who has PTSD and actually has to seek out signs for potential triggers when I engage in materials, trigger warnings are literally supposed to help prevent me, who has experienced trauma, from going into panic and/or fight or flight mode." (You can read the rest of the comment and article here; it's a good one).

After doing more reading on the subject, I can't say for sure how I feel anymore, but it makes me think. And I think I'm even more open to the idea than I was when I first started this blog post.

One thought that occurred to me is that trigger warnings come in all shapes and sizes. What is a trigger for one person may not be a trigger (or even seem like one) to someone else. A good quote about that is from an essay called "Trigger Warnings" by WOW instructor Chelsey Clammer. Chelsey herself had PTSD from a sexual assault, but it's not the thought of the stranger's hands on her body or seeing a brown dress like the one she was wearing that scares her; in fact, it's an association with the color Kelly Green. To further illustrate her point, she says:

"What if, instead, I decided to tell the story of the cute puppy my mother bought me for my 5th birthday? What if, instead of being triggered by stories of sexual violence, you got panic attacks from thinking about puppies because you saw a puppy run over by a truck when you were five and it profoundly altered your spiritual beliefs to the point that you now have unmanageable anxiety when considering the purpose of life?

"How can I warn the world of every word I am about to say?

"And what if thinking about trigger warnings triggers you?

"Warning: this sentence contains the word 'trigger.'

"Who should be responsible for warning you of your uncertainties?" (Read the rest of this essay here).

Before I close, I want to tell you that when I search for images for blog posts, I visit PixaBay.com. Not only are most of the photos high quality, but they are also creative commons (which means they can be freely used). Well, as I searched for the term "warning" to coincide with the theme of this post, I found a few "Adult Content" alerts. These could be tame images or they could explicit. However, I trusted these warnings and decided not to click. It made me wonder about other content warnings I haven't really noticed and have taken for granted.

With that, I'll turn it to you. What do you think? Should books have trigger warnings?

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

 

The Rights and Wrongs of NaNoWriMo

Here it is, just two days from the start of NaNoWriMo, and I feel compelled to offer my annual advice concerning this November writing event. But first, for the uninitiated, a quick look at National Novel Writing Month:

National Novel Writing Month started twenty years ago and I suspect that in the beginning, it was just a fun writing challenge to give a group of coffee shop writers a way to get out of holiday preparations. Preparations that twenty years ago began—if you can believe it—on November 1st. “Sorry, hon, can’t put those lights up, got a novel to write!” Or “Oh, sweetie, I’d love to fix Thanksgiving dinner for your extended family of ninety, but this darn old novel is not gonna write itself!”

Fast forward to today, where thousands—thousands upon thousands—of writers from all over the world join together via the internet, challenging themselves to finish a 50,000 word novel before November 30th. There are virtual and actual writer meet-ups, lots of pep talks from famous writers, badges to be won, and products with the NaNoWriMo logo to be bought.

So here we are, writers, pondering or perhaps already planning, our NaNoWriMo. And here I am, throwing out my thoughts on what’s right and what’s wrong with this challenge:

What makes NaNoWriMo fun and incredibly helpful and right for a certain kind of writer is the community and the encouragement that one gets in participating. Accountability can be a strong motivator and there is nothing like a challenge (with bragging rights!) to get competitive juices flowing.

But that community can also be what makes it wrong. If you are the kind of writer that will get overly involved with the social side of NaNoWriMo, using all your time chatting and whatnot rather than writing and whatnot, then NaNoWriMo may not be a good fit for you.

Unless, the writing is secondary and you are looking at long last for community. Sign up right now if you want to meet (virtual or actual) writing buddies!

But if writing an actual novel is your primary aim in joining NaNoWriMo, we need to take a closer look at achieving that goal within this challenge.

Fifty thousand words is a lot of words, y’all, but it is not a typical adult novel. (If you’re writing a novel for middle grade or possibly even young adult, then whee! You’re done!) What is right about using NaNoWriMo is that it can get a writer who has a great concept and a good idea of where he or she wants to go with it, off and running, and even push him or her almost to the finish line of a novel. But a plan or outline prior to the challenge is really helpful. You’ll need 1,667 words per day to get ‘er done so this is where a plotter can shine whereas a pantser might write seven pages about the flowers in the park whilst working out what to do about the killer who was accidentally killed off 27,674 words ago.

Then again, pantser or plotter, both may indeed “win” the challenge. And here is what is wrong about NaNoWriMo: a writer is spending a lot of one’s precious working time to put words on a page but one can easily end up with a little—and by a little, I mean a lot—of drivel. So is it worth it?

Well, you might have a novel of sorts, not to mention that pretty legit-sounding excuse, at least for November, am I right?

(Or wrong? What do you think about NaNoWriMo?)

~Cathy C. Hall

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

 

Interview with Stephanie Scissom, Spring 2019 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Stephanie’s Bio:

Stephanie Scissom hails from Altamont, TN. She plots murder by day and works nights in a tire factory. She’s published in romantic suspense and horror and is currently working on an apocalyptic trilogy.

If you haven't done so yet, check out Stephanie's story, "Murmurations." and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW:  What was the inspiration behind “Murmurations”? What led you to write this intriguing story?

Stephanie: I work night shift and as I was coming home one morning, I saw a beautiful, complex murmuration over a field. I pulled over to watch it for awhile. I wanted to try a story that pulsed like they did. They move like the waves of the ocean.

WOW: A big part of writing flash fiction is getting the right balance between what is revealed and what is hidden until just the right moment. How did you create this balance in your story?

Stephanie: I wanted the reader to think she was a runaway returning home after some time-- details about how her parents had changed, how her home had changed, her wistfulness and lack of memory.

WOW: You certainly succeeded in fooling this reader! Your final line in “Murmurations” is so powerful. How did you know this was the right ending?

Stephanie: I wanted her thoughts to move like the starlings--strong at times, then weaker, surging and then escaping her. She confronts a very grim memory, then her thoughts retreat, calming her. I have an editor friend who told me she cried at the last line and I knew I wanted to stop there.

WOW: What excellent advice. What advice do you have for our readers who are new to writing flash fiction? 

Stephanie: I think flash fiction is such a great learning device, no matter what length of story you're writing. You learn what's important to keep and cut the unnecessary. I write a lot of flash. One recent story was only 42 words long, and I do a lot of drabbles (100 words exactly).

WOW:  Only 42 words would definitely be a challenge.  Tell us about your future writing plans. Where should our readers look for your work?

Stephanie: I'm working on an apocalyptic trilogy about a battle of angels--a tragic, desperate Lucifer battling to save the only person he still cares about-- his tortured wife, Abigail. Details about forthcoming publications can be found here on Facebook. 

WOW:  Good luck with your trilogy and your other work which will definitely inspire our writers to try their hand at horror and other spooky stories.

Interviewed by Muffin blogger and WOW instructor Sue Bradford Edwards.



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Monday, October 28, 2019

 

Trying To Get a Book Published Is Not So Easy...

Last week, I announced that I would have a new picture book out titled, Listen, Lucy! Listen! A Red Ribbon Week Adventure, and I do! I did it! I got the book out before a lot of schools are celebrating Red Ribbon Week and before the National Family Partnership's Red Ribbon Week dates of October 23 to October 31, 2019. I am thrilled.

But getting to this point was not easy. I share this story with you today for a couple reasons:

1. Maybe your own road to publication is not going as smoothly as you hoped, and you are feeling stuck with limited options.

2. My story is not atypical for any creative area--whether you write novels, paint landscapes, photograph family portraits, or create Christmas wreaths. Being creative, producing your work, and selling it is not for the faint of heart--but it is possible. "Where there's a will, there's a way."

I wrote this picture book over fifteen years ago when a friend of mine told me she was having trouble finding a good Red Ribbon Week book to share with her students. She said there are a lot of books--nonfiction--that talk about saying NO to drugs, but not many with a story that is also entertaining. So I wrote this manuscript; and of course, I revised and revised and tinkered and debated and all the things that picture book writers do.

Then I found a publisher. It was a small, regional publisher who was getting into picture books, and she had high hopes for a series of Lucy books, and so did I! She found an illustrator who worked in water color. We signed a contract for royalties, and I was even assigned an editor. The artist finished her illustrations, and there were a few back and forths about the cover and a couple of the illustrations, and then...NOTHING. I mean NOTHING.

Eventually, I discovered that the publisher suffered from some family problems and physical ailments and went out of business or at least stopped publishing anything new, and I gave up on Lucy. Until...everyone started self-publishing their books and doing well. It's very hard for a picture book author to self-publish because you have to find an illustrator, and your book price is hard to set as inexpensive if you print them in color because that is not cheap. But the brain wheels started turning and turning and turning, and finally, I contacted the illustrator and asked if she had the originals.

That was about two years ago, and I did nothing until the spring of this year. I realized that I had the capability to create a PDF of this book--but then I was still stalling. I had a form of writer's block until I began listening to podcasts on book marketing. One point the podcasters talk a lot about is giving something away for free when someone signs up for your email list. Before this picture ebook, I had designed a practical parenting worksheet for email newsletter subscribers, but I wanted to give something more. The lightbulb went off, and I decided my free gift would be Listen, Lucy! Listen!

Once I decided I would give this book away for free and use it as a marketing tool, the design took off, and I finished it up in a few weeks with my critique group looking over it to make sure it was done well. And then I emailed the illustrator to tell her I had finally decided what to do with Lucy and that she could use it to giveaway, too, and...

no email back.

I started to worry, and so I turned to Google, and sure enough, Pam Withroder, my illustrator, had died last year. Ugh. She never got to see the finished product, and I know that she had poured her heart and soul into those illustrations, so I was very sad that I had waited so long to finish it, and she never saw it.

But now it's done. And a lot of teachers have already downloaded it to use it, and I'm super excited that I finished a project and published it in spite of all the difficulties Lucy's story had getting out into the world.

If you're interested in reading Listen, Lucy! Listen! or you know a teacher or parent with preschoolers to second graders, then please click this link or pass the link on. (Scroll to the middle of the page, and you'll see the newsletter sign up and information about Lucy!) To receive the book for free, all it takes is an email address.

And to the authors and illustrators out there, to get your book into the world, it takes grit and determination--but you can do it!

About Listen, Lucy! Listen: A Red Ribbon Week Adventure:  It’s Red Ribbon Week, and Lucy is ready to learn about being drug free. But there’s one problem. Lucy always forgets to listen. She tries to listen to what her teacher Mr. Grant says, but she gets distracted by polar bears and police dogs. The whole week is a total disaster for Lucy, and she has to figure out the secret of listening. Will Lucy discover how to be a good member of her classroom in time to celebrate being drug free? Join Lucy, Mr. Grant, and her classmates for a Red Ribbon Week adventure! Click here to enter an email address and receive your book for free.




About Margo L. Dill: When she's not writing picture books, Margo is working on longer fiction and teaching novel writing classes, such as WOW!'s Writing a Novel With a Writing Coach, that starts THIS FRIDAY, November 1. It's not too late to achieve your 2019 goals of working on or finishing a novel with Margo's help. Register here before the price increases in 2020.

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Sunday, October 27, 2019

 

Engage Your Senses: Getting the Words to Flow

There are times that even if you don’t feel like writing, you need to get words on paper. Maybe it is because you are taking part in NaNoWriMo. Or you might be facing a deadline. Or you get to write two hours a week while your partner takes the kids to the park and that time is NOW. Fortunately, engaging your senses can help the worlds start to flow.

Sound. We often think of reading and writing as visual but before we wrote stories down we told them to each other. Whether you listen to an audio book or a podcast, listening to something for ten minutes is a great way to ease yourself into the world of story. You can also seek out relaxing sounds. For me, that would be rain on a metal roof. For other people it is flowing water, wind chimes, or the crackle of a fire in the fireplace. Sound can both prime the creative pumps and set the mood for writing.

Smell and Taste. Another way to set the mood is through scent. Mint is a stimulating smell so a cup of mint tea can help wake up your brain. I know a lot of my writing friends choose tea but I tend more towards coffee, a deep espresso roast. For scent, my personal preference is a licorice candle. The slightly sweet, full smell tells my brain it is time to get to work because I only light this particular candle when it is time to write.

Sight. In a blog post, Author Rosalie Morales Kearns looks at art books when she needs to fill her writing well.  She doesn’t read the text but simply gazes her fill. I do something similar with Pixabay, checking out the newest images. I also go online and shop for yarn, beads, or antique china, taking in the rich hues and textures.

Touch and Motion. For me, touch is about relaxation as much as it is about getting ready to write. But sometimes I need to relax so that I can write. That yarn and bead shopping I mentioned? I knit, crochet, weave, bead and do hand sewing. I put together jigsaw puzzles and bake bread. A friend of mine is highly kinetic. She has a yoga routine that she does when she needs to get to work. I don’t have a routine but Moon Salutation can be helpful.

Do you need to engage all your senses? Eventually. After all, it is something you want your readers to do when they experience your work. But you will find that some things work better than others so don’t just go with what I do. Explore and find a combination that works for you.

After all, NaNoWriMo is coming.

--SueBE

To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins November 18th, 2019.

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Saturday, October 26, 2019

 

Satisfying Endings

Joe Hill has a new book out. Full Throttle is a book of short stories he's written over the years. I drooled with anticipation when I saw it on the bookstore shelf, and didn't hesitate snatching it and rushing to the cashier.



In case you aren't familiar with Joe Hill, he's one of the sons of Stephen King. In my opinion he's his father's equal. (Except when it comes to my favorites: The Shining, Delores Claiborne, and Misery. Those books are in a category all by themselves.)

Having two parents who are writers makes for some powerful DNA. Joe Hill--in some ways--is creepier than his dad. His NOS4A2 is an edge-of-the-seat ride from the first pages to the final line. I'm enthralled with everything he's written.

This most recent one has a lengthy introduction. Hill writes of the things he loved to read, along with the movies he loved to watch as a kid. One of them was Duel, Spielberg's first movie.

If you're as unfamiliar with Duel as you are Joe Hill, it's worth a watch. But to this day, there's something unsatisfying about the end of the film.

(In case you are going to immediately find/buy the movie after reading this post, I won't spoil it for you. I'll only say this: there is a question that's still unanswered when the final credits roll.)

I was delighted when the first story focused on a "duel" between a trucker and some cyclists... an echo of the movie. Would the story be more satisfying? (In my opinion of course. Most Some Stupid people appreciate the huge question that's never answered.)

In my opinion, "Throttle" is perfect. It takes the excitement of the movie Duel, and fleshes out the plot with heart and soul.

And the question is answered by the end of the story.

If you're looking for a good read... if you're in need of recharging your writer's battery, I recommend Joe Hill's Full Throttle. It's got a satisfying beginning. I imagine my joy will continue til the last story's finished.

A satisfying ending is something to behold...

Sioux is currently a slacker when it comes to writing. She's mired under piles of paper that need to be graded, and wishful delusions of publication. When she snags a publisher (or decides to hand-write her manuscript on legal pads and sell it door-to-door), everyone will hear her shriek at such a high pitch, dogs all over the world will cover their ears and howl in pain. You can find her latest post (which was about 18 years ago) at Sioux's Page.

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Thursday, October 24, 2019

 

Secrets of Dealing with Unhappy Clients


Just typing the title of this blog post made me cringe. You see, I’m an enormous people pleaser. I hate conflict. I would rather crawl into bed and hide than face an unhappy friend, relative or client head on. It’s one of my greater weaknesses.

This past summer, I took on a new role of working as an editor for a monthly lifestyle magazine. I had worked for this particular magazine for more than 10 years as a freelance writer. However, there were a few things I didn’t consider until the complaints came in.

First of all, I will preface this by saying that, regarding my performance, I’ve heard mostly great feedback from the publisher, creative director and sales team. But the former editor of the magazine is a beloved member of our community and was the face of the magazine for 10+ years. When I started in the role, I was mostly focused on doing the best possible job I could and meeting my production deadlines. I quickly learned there were people in the community (media contacts and advertisers) who had developed systems with the previous editor that I was unaware of.

One example is that I showcased a product in one of our advertiser’s stores that they were unhappy with. This confused me at first. I recommended a product they sold in one of their stores—what was the big deal? Free publicity! What they had a problem with was that I had taken a photo of the product and didn’t run it by them first. They didn’t feel like it represented their brand very well (they are in the business of home decor) and reached out to let us know.

Another example is the that the communications contact for the local college music department thought if he sent me images for consideration in an article, I would send him a proof with any of those images on a page before running. I thought he wanted me to run an image by him if we were using it as a cover photo. We got our wires crossed and he reached out to me when a photo ran that he hadn’t approved first (although he had sent it to me in a gallery of images).

These are just two examples of things that happened in a recent issue. Add to that an unhappy photographer, a photographer who told me she would do an assignment and then failed to tell me when she couldn’t get to it, writers asking about past due payments, and I feel like I’ve been volleying issues left and right. Lucky for me, I have a background in public relations.

When problems like these arise, there are a few basic things you can do:

Admit when you’re wrong. In the case of the unhappy advertiser, I called the person in charge and apologized. I told her I was under a deadline and didn’t realize in the past we would have run products by them before featuring them in an editorial layout. She simply wanted to be heard, and about a week later, I made sure to chat with her and the rest of her team at a networking event the magazine held, and we have worked harmoniously together ever since.

Make things right if you can. In the case of the unhappy communications director, I also immediately apologized that we got our wires crossed. I explained to him that I only thought he wanted to approve a cover image, and he explained how he was used to working with our previous editor. I agreed to run any event copy we used for the department by him for fact-checking in the future, and we agreed upon a photo submission process.

In the case of the administrative issues, I handle those on a case-by-case basis. I forward payment inquiries to our publisher, who is in charge of issuing payments. I try to build trusting and open relationships with the writers and the photographers, because they are the bread and butter of our magazine.

It it always easy? No. There are issues that keep me awake at night with worry. I try to let things go and not dwell on them. In the case of dealing with unhappy clients, you can only do what your conscience guides you to do and give yourself a bit of grace for anything that isn’t quickly resolved.

I’m curious if anyone has ever had an unhappy editor, client or writer. How did you help fix the situation? I’d love to hear other perspectives on this topic.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and magazine editor who also blogs at www.FinishedPages.com.


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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

 

Your Writing Space

I love asking people what their writing space looks like. I once thought if my office was set-up just perfectly I could be more creative...but the more successful people I talk to, the more I've come to realize it's not the space that makes them creative or successful. Some offices are tidy. Some offices are a small corner table at the local coffee shop. Some offices double as a kitchen table once the family returns from work or school, and still others include a simple notebook and a stream running through a woods.

I've come to the realization that my writing space was yet another stumbling block for my creativity. It's no different than the housework that so often distracts me. My space was luring me away from writing instead of helping me concentrate and be creative. It doesn't matter if I have the perfect chair, the fastest computer, the nicest journal, ambient lighting, commercial free music, etc... I simply need to put myself to the task at hand and write.

It would be lovely to have an office free of distractions, with photographs of everything that inspires me, but the truth is I can still write with the sound of the clothes dryer tumbling the laundry. I can move the notes from teachers, the partial bottles of water, and the bills to pay - and I can write.

I've asked this before, but what stops you from getting your writing done? Is your writing space a stumbling block? Or...maybe unlike myself your writing space IS an inspiration to you. Do share please?

Write on Friends!
Hugs,
~Crystal




Crystal is a secretary, council secretary, financial secretary, and musician at her church, birth mother, Auntie, babywearing mama, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Press Corp teammate for the DairyGirl Network, Unicorn Mom Ambassador, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their five youngest children, two dogs, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, horses Princess and Paige, and over 250 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books here, and at her personal blog - Crystal is dedicated to turning life's lemons into lemonade!


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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

 

Interview with Elizabeth Maggio: Spring 2019 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Elizabeth’s Bio:

Armed with a geology degree from New York University, Elizabeth Maggio moved cross country to begin her writing career as the science reporter on the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and then as science editor at the University of Arizona were she founded a research magazine. After picking up a degree in Italian while at the university (“someone had to speak the family language properly”), she packed up and headed to Turin, Italy, where she worked as a bilingual science editor for an Italian aerospace company. That experience led to a position as consulting science editor for the Vatican’s astronomical observatory.

After retirement, Elizabeth switched to writing fiction and discovered that making up the facts was surprisingly harder than documenting the facts in her science reports.

With encouragement from a fellow writer, she entered and won a short story contest. Emboldened, she entered the WOW flash fiction contest and has won various awards over the years. Her flash fiction inspiration often comes from the novel she’s working on, an archaeological mystery set in Italy.

Elizabeth lives in Clifton, Virginia, with her husband Ike and a dear old, now-deaf cat named Bailey.

If you haven't done so already, check out Elizabeth's award-winning story "The Talisman" and then return here for a chat with the author!

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Spring 2019 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story?

Elizabeth: I was excited—thrilled—to be able to use the plot element I had tried so hard to make the central focus of the archaeological mystery I’m writing. No matter how hard I tried, it just didn’t work in the novel, and yet the idea of being able to touch an old object, in this case, the roof shard from an ancient Roman site, and be connected with the past haunted me. As I often do when I’m stuck on my novel, I turned to flash fiction and it worked in my story. At last, my orphan plot element had a home!

WOW: Excellent news! And I love the idea that flash fiction is both an amazing standalone genre and a useful tool for other genres. What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece?

Elizabeth: The big take-away from writing “The Talisman” was to relax. I knew that the little girl would have an imaginary friend but I had no idea how the story would play out. Would the friend be real or make-believe? I didn’t know, and I was getting anxious as I neared the end of my story. Once I let go of my anxiety, the ending—a shadowy friend—just happened.

WOW: In your bio it says that “making up the facts” in fiction writing “was surprisingly harder than documenting the facts” in your career as a science writer, which I find very interesting. Can you tell us more about that challenge and about your transition from science writer/editor to fiction writer?

Elizabeth: Oh my. Overcoming my facts fetish—I built my reputation as a science writer on accuracy—is still hard and slows my writing down, especially for a novel based on a real archaeological site with lots of documentation available. Just this morning I was writing a chapter that dealt with the way the sanctuary site had been looted in the past. I wanted to know the “who, what, where, and when” of this looting, what happened to the found items. When I should have been moving my story forward, I wasted time researching and trying to pound the square facts into the round holes of my story. Ugh.

WOW: I can see how that would be a challenging occupational habit to overcome!

Elizabeth: Making up the facts should be easy, but I find it difficult to pick and choose and edit the facts and make up new ones to suit my story. Maybe I feel guilty. I try to remind myself that I’m writing fiction now and to not let the facts get in the way.

P.S. Not one to waste good research, I’ve filed away my facts and built up a large stockpile of interesting material for blog postings related to my novel (when I get around to creating a blog).

WOW: That’s an amazing idea! And such good motivation to create that blog soon! Thanks for sharing that process with us. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Elizabeth: I just finished A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. When the movie came out last year, I decided to read the book first because it had a magical/sci fi theme. But I couldn’t get into it. Recently I wanted to stream the movie, so I gave the book a second try and enjoyed it.

WOW: If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why?

Elizabeth: “Liz, don’t try so hard.” Don’t stake your story on a particular plot element that’s caught your fancy. You’ll end up going around in circles unless you let it go.

WOW: Great advice! Anything else you’d like to add?

Elizabeth: Writing flash fiction is a great way to take a break from a longer project, especially if you’ve hit a stubborn writing block.

WOW: That’s also great advice! Thank you again for sharing your stories and for your other thoughtful responses! Congratulations again, and happy writing!

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, and profiles of writers and competitive female athletes.

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Monday, October 21, 2019

 

Look for the Small Successes (Wherever You Can Find Them)

This past week I received two rejection letters for a couple of short stories. You would think I'd feel disappointed, setback, and uninspired, but instead I feel hopeful. The two rejection letters I received had a tone of positivity. One part of me thought, "They probably say this to everyone." The other part of me thought, "Well, maybe not. This could mean you're writing is getting better."

I'm not exactly sure if my rejection letters were personalized or if literary magazines are just getting better at rejecting people, but I find that my reaction is a hopeful sign. Even if these are standard issue rejection letters, I'm not nearly as dejected as I used to be when I receive rejection letters. It didn't set me back. Of course, I was disappointed, but this time I wasn't entirely defeated. To me, that felt like a tremendous step forward.

Add on to this, recently I have started pitching article ideas to magazines and websites. Of the ones that I have pitched to, two have been accepted ideas. However, I have certainly received my share of "thanks, but no thanks." Yet, the sheer effort of putting myself out there has boosted my confidence.

For many writers, myself included, fear of rejection has kept me back from putting myself out there. I've even struggled with the fear of acceptance (i.e. "What if they DO want me to write this article idea? What on earth will I do??"). I have found that the more I put myself out there, the easier it is for me to keep going.

One thing I've discovered about submitting short stories and pitching magazine ideas is to not hang my hat on one person's "yes." This means simultaneous submissions. This means moving on within a week or so if I don't hear back about a pitch. It becomes far easier for me to accept someone's "no" when I do that. The troubling thing about continuously putting my work out there, though, is that it means I have to consistently believe in it. If I submit a short story to a wide variety of magazines, I have no choice but to think it's worthy of being published. If I submit my pitch idea to one editor after the other, I have to believe in the idea and my abilities to write it.

So, maybe that's the key. I would recommend if you are struggling to put one foot in front of the other, step outside your comfort zone. Maybe pitch ideas to magazines. Maybe write outside your genre. Maybe sign up for a class. Put yourself out there. Don't give yourself any other option except to believe in yourself. Because one day that "no" will become a "yes" and you would have known it all along. And don't forget to celebrate even the smallest of successes. If you don't celebrate the small moments, you may forget to celebrate the big moments.

Nicole Pyles is a freelance writer actively seeking writing opportunities. You may follow her on Twitter @BeingTheWriter or check out her writing portfolio at http://npyles86.journoportfolio.com.

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Sunday, October 20, 2019

 

Facing Doubts and Insecurities So You Can Reach Your Goals

Many of us who blog on The Muffin write about the topic of  writing doubts and insecurities. Most definitely, it’s the life of a writer. If you're reading this, you've probably had the thought: This manuscript is terrible. No one will ever want to read it. This is the dumbest idea I've ever had. 

This is probably true for any creative people who pour their heart and soul into their work and then will be "judged" for it. Even when your book or short story is published, there are still reviews and sales numbers to face. (Really, this post is not meant to be depressing! Stick with me...)

Recently, I’ve been dealing with fighting off my doubts and insecurities because I’m ready to launch a new project. I've been referring to  the person who used to listen to those doubts and quit projects without finishing them "my old self." I'm calling this writer (me!) who will launch this project below tomorrow or Tuesday--"my new self." Here's the cover:


One day this past week while I've been working on Listen, Lucy! Listen!, I posted in my writers' group Facebook group that I had to "tell my old self to settle down" several times in the past couple weeks This project above is a picture book that was once under contract, but it never did get published. That’s a long story for another day--or maybe never. But I did have the artwork from Pam Withroder and the text (from me!). I have InDesign on my laptop to put it together. So I did--finally.

And I plan to use this book as a marketing tool--which I also know is something a lot of writers do. But still, I’ve been plagued with questions, such as: Will anyone like this book? Will people think I’m silly for giving it away for free? Will my plans for books, workshops, and presentations to go with this book be well received? A very loud voice seems to constantly ring through my head saying, "This is a bad idea. No one will like it." (That's the old self, there!)

In today's society, we talk a lot about listening to our gut. There's even the expression "women’s intuition." However, there’s also the inner critic of a creative person, and that is the one who keeps telling me don’t do this--she's harsh--too harsh. I know this is a cute book and how to write children’s picture books. I know about the rule of three, about not making it preachy, and how to use repetition.

So I told that inner critic, my old self, to go take a nap. Because I'm going to do this. And don’t worry: when I blog the last week of October, on here, I will be ready to let you know all about my project and how to get this book for free!

Until then, join me! If you have an old self (aka paralyzing inner critic) whispering doubts and criticism in your ear, tell him or her to pack a bag and take a trip because you don’t have time for that--you're too busy writing.

Margo L. Dill is the managing editor of WOW! and teaches novel writing, middle-grade and YA fiction writing, and school visit classes. You can check those out in the classroom here. To find out more about Margo and her books, which she managed to get published in spite of her inner critic, check out her website here or keep in touch or email a question here

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Saturday, October 19, 2019

 

Audience: Why You Have to Know Who They Are

You have to know who your audience is. Otherwise, you can’t give them what they want. Don’t see the link? Then you should have been with my husband and I when we were trying to pick out an audiobook for a recent road trip.

I had three different books already checked out. I just had to get him to choose one. They were:

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land. A journalist’s memoir about her struggle as a single mother to survive on a domestic’s salary. Land often contrasts her life with that of the upper middle-class who employed her.

Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz. Over 150 years later, the author retraces Frederick Law Olmstead's epic journey across the American South in the 1850s.

11/22/63 by Stephen King. A high school English teacher has the opportunity to travel back to 1958 and attempt to prevent the assassination of JFK.

But each title got voted down. I knew Maid was going to be a stretch, but it’s my book club book. I tried! Spying on the South also received a no vote because he doesn’t know who Frederick Law Olmstead is. Wait, I stand corrected. He knows who Olmstead is and that's why the book got voted down. 11/22/63 got a no vote from both of us because it is 30 hours long and we only have a ten hour trip. Trying to find 20 hours to finish a book when we get home is not a realistic goal.

Back to the library! By this point I was getting a little slap happy and started suggesting everything with a man’s well-muscled torso on the cover, a solid design element in the romance section. Not that I read romances, but those covers might convince me to give it a try.

This time we came away with:

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. A modern middle grade fantasy set in the same world at Percy Jackson.

I Know a Secret by Tess Garritson. A mystery in which a female detective and a female medical examiner work together to solve crimes. Also a TNT series.

Case Studies by Kate Atkinson A private detective takes on three cold cases that took place in or around London.

What does this teach us about audience? Most people read a variety of books. I’m the children’s writer but my husband chose The Hidden Oracle. He also picked I Know a Secret. My choice was Case Studies. I will attempt just about anything except romance.

Another thing to remember about audience – go with the common wisdom and you are going to get it wrong. If you write romance, you are writing for romance fans, not women in general. Really.

We are told men read nonfiction. I’m female and I read nonfiction. My son reads nonfiction. My husband? Almost never unless he is fixing something or building something. Urban fantasy, alternate history and science fiction are much more likely. I paid the price for ignoring this and had to try again.

Which of course sent me to the library and all those romance covers.

--SueBE

To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins November 18th, 2019.

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Friday, October 18, 2019

 

Friday Speak Out!: Stay Seated

by Mary Fleming

Almost two years after I began to work on my first novel, I had a revelation: writing is not unlike a factory job. This may seem a depressing thought, especially for a writer who has the good fortune to live in Paris, but it has actually encouraged, even buoyed me on many an occasion.

Before I took up writing full-time I represented an American foundation in France. I worked alone and at home and didn’t see why producing fiction rather than memos would be any different. Instead of getting up really early and squeezing in an hour of words before the household woke up and my day job began, as I’d been doing, I’d now just write all day once the kids were at school and the dog walked.

But working for and with other people, even if they are almost 4000 miles away, is completely different from working on a novel. With the foundation job, people were waiting for those memos. I had calls and appointments to make, meetings to organize. There were deadlines. As a writer of fiction, no one is waiting. In fact no one besides you could care less whether your story is finished tomorrow or a hundred years from now.

For the first year I would sit at my desk and find a million excuses to do something else. Up I’d get to put in another load of laundry—and with five children this excuse always had some legitimate urgency. Or out I’d go to buy food for that small army’s supper that evening.

By the second year, with very few words to show for myself, it was obvious something had to change. Fortunately, this being Paris, we had a chambre de service, a room on the top floor of the building where the domestic help used to live. After a fresh coat of paint and some new wiring (the electricity had not been changed since before the war), I began going upstairs every morning. And there I made myself sit until at least 12.30 and the 500 words I had assigned myself were written.

I discovered that clocking in and out every morning, just like a factory worker, was a huge help to the production process itself. It was as if my brain began to know that it was time for the cogs to start turning and the assembly line to start manufacturing words. Even if they weren’t very good, at least I had something to work with the next day, though I often found that what seemed horrible just after I’d written it didn’t look so bad the next day (unfortunately, the opposite is also true. What seems brilliant today can look tarnished and trite tomorrow).

Not everyone, I realize, has the luxury of a little office outside the house overlooking the rooftops of Paris. But choose a room in your house and lock the door. Find a corner and glue yourself to the seat for several hours. It really will improve productivity.

* * *

Mary Fleming, originally from Chicago, moved to Paris in 1981, where she worked as a freelance journalist and consultant. Before turning full-time to writing fiction, she was the French representative for the American foundation The German Marshall Fund. A long-time board member of the French Fulbright Commission, Mary continues to serve on the board of Bibliothèques sans Frontières. Having raised five children, she and her husband now split their time between Paris and Normandy. THE ART OF REGRET is her second novel. She writes a blog called A Paris-Perche Diary at https://mf.ghost.io/. Her website is https://www.maryfleming.co/

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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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Thursday, October 17, 2019

 

Am I Ready For a Rocking Chair?

I turned 60 this past summer. No big party (thank goodness). My family thankfully listened to me about what I wanted, and we had a great dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.

No huge gala, but a huge pause. Things start happening after 60. Bad things.

Sixty is the time when people start perusing the obituaries... They create a bucket list and tally up all the things they haven't done yet... At that age, some people slow down.




I saw a story about a man named Ray Boutwell. He's 93 and just launched his "boozy cupcake" bakery business. It's going so well, he's expanding into the space next-door.

"I'm gonna make ice cream... on the level of Ben and Jerry."

According to him, working gets his blood going. It's obvious he wouldn't dream of slowing down, or truly retiring.

Several things get my blood going: teaching, writing and traveling.

Teaching

Four years ago I retired from public school teaching, and immediately began my second teaching "career" with the local archdiocese. I'll continue working with students until 1) I no longer enjoy it 2) I'm no longer an effective educator or 3) I'm no longer able to do it.

Traveling

(Yeah, I'm saving the best--or at least the most imporant to me--for last.)

I've been to France three times. I've done a bit of traveling in the U.S. I've been to Turkey twice, a couple of evenings in Spain, and circumnavigated Iceland in a homemade sailboat that I handled all on my own on a cruise ship. This next summer I'm heading to the islands north of Scotland, and I'd love to go to Greece, Ireland and Italy, too. My son and daughter-in-law have put down Japan as their #1 choice when it comes to where they're stationed--after next year. If they get their wish, I'll have a free place to stay in Japan.

Writing

When I was younger, I wanted there to be a book--any book--on bookstore shelves with my name on it.

Now I'm driven to get a particular book published. I've been submitting it to agents and publishers, I've been shot down with form rejections as well as complimentary, "thanks but no thanks" emails. Getting this story into book form gets my blood going. I've cried over some of the obstacles. I've been bolstered by emails and blog comments and beta readers' reviews. I'm determined not to head to a permanent rocking chair until this story somehow gets told.

I'd also like to get a few more Chicken Soup for the Soul stories published. So far there are 16 anthologies with my stories in them. I'm competitive (with myself, mostly). I almost always want more.

So if you consider yourself too old to begin a huge project like a novel, or a memoir... if you are saying to yourself, "Well, I'll probably be ___ years old whenever I finish the manuscript" so why bother... if you think of yourself as ready to slow down--maybe you need to speed  up. Maybe you need to remember that you'll be ___ years old whether you're working on achieving a dream or not.

 Get busy on what you want to do with the rest of your life. Time's a wastin'.

(And if you can't make it to Ray's Boozy Cupcakes, Etc. in New Jersey, check out these spiked cupcake recipes.)


Sioux Roslawski, on her trip this summer, found out that Icelandic people believe in trolls. This picture is proof that trolls do indeed exist.

She also believes in her WIP... and won't rest until it's published.

You can read more about Sioux on her blog.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

 

It May Not Look Like Work...

Have you ever wondered if all that time spent on social media or even sallying forth to make actual live connections makes any difference in your writing career? I mean, here you are, hard at work, but does it matter? Really? And then I have a couple of weeks that feel like a genuine pat on the back.

The other night I spoke to a women’s group about my writing life and the circuitous journey I took to becoming the writer I am today. So I brought a lot of my Chicken Soup for the Soul books because my life stories are shared in those books. And I sold every last book!

But I wouldn’t have been at that meeting if a friend didn’t read my blog posts regularly and had the thought that I’d make a fun speaker for her group. And she wouldn’t haven’t seen my blog posts if I hadn’t shared them through my social media networks. I often tell people that I stay on my social media networks for work and they look at me funny, like “Come on, Cathy, we know you’re just there for the singing dogs.” Well, of course I’m there for the singing dogs. But I’m also there, working.

And then a few weeks ago, when my SCBWI region appeared at the Decatur Book Festival, I worked in our tent for promotion and hobnobbing and eventually, cleanup. A friend gave me a handful of big bottles of bubbles we didn’t use and asked me to take them to my church preschool.

So I dropped by to see the preschool director, an old friend and co-worker of mine, to give her the bubbles. And we talked about children’s books, naturally, and that mine were for Korean kids. But, I told her, my friend (the one who donated the bubbles) had a board book. “Give her my card,” she said. “We’d love to have her.” And my friend will be doing a story time in the next week, and will probably sell lots of books, too. So there we all were, connected in a friends-helping-friends way. But we were also working.

Also a few weeks ago, a writer friend was coordinating a panel presentation of kidlit authors and illustrators. But all she had signed on were picture book creatives. And I remembered that a friend of mine—a YA author—had recently moved back to my area. How did I know? I’d seen all her comings and goings on social media.

We needed a published author of novels and my friend was happy to help with the panel because she needed to get back in the writer swing of things. She had been using social media to let her friends know she was home, but yep, she was working, too.

So you never know, right? It might look like piddling around, being out there on social media. Or it might look like a long lunch with friends, or a delightful happy hour at a conference. But that’s work, y’all. I can’t help it if it looks like fun.

~Cathy C. Hall (Hard-at-Work)

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

 

Interview with Martha Goddard, Runner Up in the WOW! Spring 2019 Flash Fiction Contest

Martha Goddard is a freelance writer, director and content creator for short and long-form drama. A graduate from the Australian Film Television and Radio School’s Masters programme, Martha has directed commercials, documentaries and award-winning short films that have screened at over thirty film festivals around the world. “Marigold” is Martha’s first work of flash-fiction but it’s definitely not her last, having recently discovered a passion for prose. Martha has a keen eye for the absurdity of modern life and enjoys writing about relatable, flawed female protagonists with a fiery spirit and a mischievous streak. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Martha is currently collaborating on a kids book series inspired by her curious two-year-old daughter. You can view more of Martha’s work at marthagoddard.com, vimeo.com/marthagoddard or follow her on Instagram @mcgmartha.

Read Martha's captivating story, "Marigold," here and then return to learn more about the author.

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

WOW: Congratulations again, Martha, and welcome! One of the things that stands out the most about “Marigold” is how well developed the two main characters are. What was the revision process like as you worked to paint them so vividly?

Martha: The revision process involved a dogged whittling away of words until it was stripped back to the bare essentials. I had a lot of story I wanted to squeeze into 700 words. I started with 1,500. It’s such a discipline, how not to over-simplify the story itself but rather the way it’s told. Editing devours time. For me it can be double or triple what it takes to write the work itself.

WOW: I'm impressed that you were essentially able to cut this story in half! There is a definite art form to writing and editing flash pieces. What type of writing do you do as a content creator for short and long-form drama?

Martha: Primarily it involves screenwriting short or feature length projects, pitch documents, project treatments and development notes. I’m currently working on two projects; All Our Eggs is a nine-part series of short fifteen-minute episodes about a couple’s five-year-journey through infertility, riding the highs and lows of IVF with lashings of dark humour. The other project is a feature length screenplay, a science-fiction love story. Both projects are self-initiated works that have attracted development funding through various state and national filmmaking initiatives. Writing prose and flash-fiction is something new for me.

WOW: Those both sound like amazing works-in-progress. I'm curious as to how were you drawn into writing flash fiction, as it differs from the type of work you normally do?

Martha: I was gifted an online creative writing course for Christmas last year. At first, I was hesitant - I’m a time-poor new mum juggling freelance work, the last thing I needed was more pressure on my time, right? But I had to use it or lose it. And I loved it! The course was a wonderful opportunity to fill up the creative tank and learn a new skill, focusing on descriptive prose which is very different to screenwriting. The structure of the course helped enormously, and I created a host of new characters, like Marigold and Tiger, some of which I hope to keep developing. I’m now inspired to continue writing flash fiction, it’s a great way to road-test new ideas or characters, and to be playful with form.

WOW: I love this. I feel like these types of gifts are so welcome to writers at any level, because they can learn new forms, as you did. (Hint, hint to any partners/friends/loved ones of writers out there reading this interview!) We’d love to hear more about the children’s book series you’re currently collaborating on. Could you tell us a little about how that process is going?

Martha: The Adventures of Ellie and Alfred is a kid’s picture book series inspired by having a two-year-old daughter Evie, who LOVES books. She recites lines and imitates characters. It’s gosh-darn cute but more than that, she is a sponge right now, absorbing the attitudes, themes and expectations depicted within these books. They matter. And because we buy a lot of second-hand books from thrift stores, I’ve been confronted with example of outdated gender-roles and cultural limitations. Yes, there are some timeless gems in the mix but also a lot of problematic messaging. I got talking about this with a friend over lunch who happens to be an insanely talented artist and illustrator, Danielle O’Brien. We started brainstorming ideas for a story that blurs gender roles and embraces diversity. Something that explores a range of textured, artistic expressions for big emotions that kids might have a hard time putting into words. Feelings like frustration, rejection, anticipation, love. Then we created our leading lady, Ellie. She’s a bright, imaginative, trickster full of big ideas that sparks wayward adventures with her neighbour, Alfred. Set in their backyards with Ellie’s two dads, Alfred’s single mum and a pen full of chickens as supporting characters. Once we agreed on an idea for our first story, I completed a written draft for Danielle to work with. I really appreciate how picture books depend so much on the images to capture a child’s imagination so it’s an entirely collaborative process from this point on. The way her images reveal story, directly affects the way I revise the text. We’re thrilled to see the first draft taking shape.

WOW: That's so interesting about the outdated gender roles in the older picture books. Picture books like yours are definitely taking the industry by storm right now so best of luck to you and your illustrator friend! What advice would you offer to writers who are considering tackling the short story/flash fiction form?

Martha: Personally, my approach is to spend time developing the characters. I empathise with them, love them, and then try to give them absolute hell. I think it’s a truism of life that we often have to be pushed or pulled kicking and screaming towards meaningful change and emotional growth. But that’s also what’s so compelling to read or watch.

I’ve misplaced the source of this excellent advice, but I’ll share it anyway. For anyone having trouble making time to write - have an affair (with your writing). Sneak off, tell white lies if you have to, and gift yourself secret pockets of time in strange places. Whatever it takes to spark that hunger. And being time poor can mean there’s not enough time for your inner critic to get in the way. Works for me, (well, sometimes.)

WOW: Ah, I love that last bit of sage advice! Making time to write creatively is so rewarding when we finally get around to doing it--I love your suggestion to treat it as an illicit activity! May you continue to have a mutually beneficial love affair with your writing!


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Monday, October 14, 2019

 

Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark - Book Blog Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway!

The tiny hamlet of Maravilla, New Mexico is not immune to modern-day problems. But the citizens of Maravilla have their own special problems, as well:

A developer wants to build a Christian-themed amusement park next to Maravilla’s historic church.

The county line runs right through the town, splitting it in two.

And the government is threatening to close their post office!

Into this muddle steps Jake Epstein, a young writer from the big city. Jake is seeking peace and quiet to finish his current project: a science fiction story in which adventuress Tai-Keiko must deliver the secret formula for Zeton-9—with the evil Krossarians in hot pursuit.

But then reality and science fiction converge—and Tai-Keiko finds herself in present-day Maravilla, face to face with a gobsmacked Jake.

Join Jake on this comic run along the dusty roads of Maravilla, and find out who won the fight between Father Ignatius and the heathen pig farmer. How a basketball game changed the fate of the town. And was that white flash in the sky a UFO?

Print Length: 195 Pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Beeline Press (June 19, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1645400646
ISBN-13: 978-1645400646

Welcome to Maravilla is now available to purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest
To win a copy of the book Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark, please enter via Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on October 21st at 12 AM EST. We will randomly pick a winner and email them the same day. Good luck!

About the Author
R. Douglas Clark was born in Vermont, grew up in Colorado, attended college in Chicago, and received a Master's degree in music from Brown University. Seeing no future for himself in academia, he spent a year in the Oregon woods, living in a primitive cabin, writing music reviews and cultural commentary for magazines and newspapers. Next stop, Eugene, Oregon where he spent 20 damp years as a bootstrap businessman, father and musician. On a vacation trip, he and his wife, Shelley, fell in love with sunny northern New Mexico and subsequently moved there. After four years running Boys and Girls Clubs in Chimayó and Abiquiú--and another four, running a U-pick raspberry farm--he retired to write fiction full time.

Find R. Douglas online: https://www.rdouglasclark.com/

Author Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: Thank you for being with us today and choosing WOW to help promote Welcome to Maravilla! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more of your work. I'm sure you are an avid reader as well. Who is your favorite author?

R. Douglas: Please, don’t make me pick one! My standard is: will the book stand up to a second reading? I admire John Steinbeck for his gritty realism (The Grapes of Wrath) and his absurdist humor (Cannery Row). Too old school? Try Richard Price (Lush Life). Humor? Can’t beat Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I love Zadie Smith for her intelligent and compassionate writing (Swing Time). I can’t get enough literary adventure, such as Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach or Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues. But favorite? Gotta go with Gabriel García Márquez. Man, what a writer!

WOW: It definitely is difficult to chose just one, isn't it? Thanks for sharing with us!

What or Whom has been most influential in your writing career and how so?

R. Douglas: I can divide the influences on my writing career into three parts: reading, writing and life experience. Reading taught me about the elements of fiction. Writing made me put in the work it takes to become an author (like anything else). Life experience provided the material I needed to have something to write about.

WOW: See? I guessed from the start you were an avid reader - now I'm hoping you'll share more secrets - what have you learned during the publishing process and what would you do differently next time or what advice do you have for others?

R. Douglas: The standard publishing model—based on sending a query letter and 25-or-so pages to a publisher—clearly doesn’t work. You wait forever to hear back, and you rarely do. At best, you get a form letter. The slush pile grows. There are too many writers seeking publishers, and too many publishers unwilling to take a chance on a new novelist. Going the route of signing up with an agent is hardly any better. Good agents are overwhelmed with manuscripts, too. Self-publishing? It’s going to cost you a couple of grand, either for the publishing or for the marketing, or both. My advice? Love the writing process. Join a writer’s group. Find an agent.

WOW: That's absolute great advice and you'll save me from asking one of my favorite questions which is how you feel about writer's groups - so let's get right to the future excitement: What’s next for you?

R. Douglas: I’m working on a new novel. And looking for an agent.

WOW: I'm sure it won't take long for you to find with all your talent! And last but not least - many of us struggle with finding the perfect space and I'm not sure it even matters, so give us a glimpse - What does your writing space look like?

R. Douglas: My writing space is a mess. There are piles of paper, books, a synthesizer, a printer, and a scanner. There is a desk, and in the middle of that, my computer. Behind me it is floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, filled with books, old CDs, photographs, etc. But in front of me is a large window that looks out on a proliferation of bushes, trees and the blue, blue sky of New Mexico.

WOW: I'm sure others can relate to the messiness of your space - (myself included) - but it sounds like those blue skies can be pretty inspirational! And as our time comes to a close, thank YOU for being inspirational to others - and thank you so much for your time today - I'm sure readers will delight to learn more as they follow you through the tour. We look forward to your tour and future releases!

--- Blog Tour Dates

October 14th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us as we celebrate the launch the blog tour for author R. Douglas Clark’s book Welcome to Maravilla. Read an interview with the author and win a copy of the book.
https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

October 15th @ Book Santa Fe with Crystal Otto
Crystal Otto shares her thoughts about the sci-fi book Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark.
http://www.booksantafe.info/booksantafeblog

October 16th @ Bring on Lemons with Carmen Otto
Middle Schooler Carmen Otto reviews R. Douglas Clark’s Welcome to Maravilla and explains to her friends why this is a great book for even young readers.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

October 17th @ World of My Imagination
Nicole Pyles reviews Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark and delights readers at World of My Imagination with an opportunity to learn more about this fast-paced sci-fi novel!
https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

October 17th @ Selling Books
Don’t miss today’s author interview with R. Douglas Clark as Cathy Stucker finds out more about his latest release Welcome to Maravilla.
https://www.sellingbooks.com/

October 21st @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Today’s guest author at Memoir Writer’s Journey is R. Douglas Clark with an article titled "Where I Live". Join Kathleen Pooler’s audience as they learn more about Clark and his latest book Welcome to Maravilla.
https://krpooler.com/

October 22nd @ To Write or Not To Write
Sreevarsha reviews Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clarks and delights readers at To Write or Not To Write with her thoughts about this excellent novel!
http://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.co.at/

October 24th @ Look to the Western Sky
Visit Margo's blog today where you can catch today's author spotlight and learn more about R. Douglas Clark and his latest book Welcome to Maravilla.
https://margoldill.com/

October 25th @ A StoryBook World
Don’t miss today’s publicity post at A Storybook World as readers at Dierdra’s blog are introduced to Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark.
http://www.astorybookworld.com/

October 26th @ World of My Imagination
Learn more about R. Douglas Clark and his new book Welcome to Maravilla as he shares a few thoughts in an interesting interview with Nicole Pyles at World of My Imagination.
https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

October 28th @ Breakeven Books
Today’s Book Spotlight at Breakeven Books is Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark – don’t miss this great opportunity to add this lovely new novel to your collection!
https://breakevenbooks.com/

October 28th @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews R. Douglas Clark about his latest novel Welcome to Maravilla. Readers will delight in learning more about this science fiction story with it’s courageous characters!
http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

November 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina interview R. Douglas Clark about his latest novel Welcome to Maravilla
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 12th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina shares his thoughts after reading Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark – don’t miss this review!
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 13th @ Bring on Lemons with Tara Forst
Wisconsin mother and book lover shares her review of R. Douglas Clark's latest Welcome to Maravilla with readers at Bring on Lemons.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/


***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****

To win a copy of the book Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark, please enter via Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends on October 21st at 12 AM EST. We will randomly pick a winner and email them the same day. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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