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Wednesday, November 13, 2019


NaNoWriMo: Are We Done Yet?

So we’re close to the midpoint of November and that means—for those of you participating in NaNoWriMo—that you’re about halfway along in your journey, assuming you haven’t pulled out your hair and run screaming from your laptops. But I feel like I need to lay a little truth on you: if you’re reading this, I suspect you might already be in the weeds.

Because the diligent-and-on-track NaNoWriMo participant doesn’t have time for reading blog posts or much of any other shenanigans…like eating or sleeping. The writer who’s got around 25,000 words is rather smugly humming along and we kind of despise her (or him).

But it’s not too late for you to become smug and detestable yourself. I’ve got a few tips to get you back on track and though you may not finish with the Great American Novel ready for submission, you WILL finish with…well, something. (Your lost hair is on you.)

Tip One: Make a Plan

Yes, I know, you’re a pantser. You don’t plan, you just write, write, write and it’s all whiskers on kittens and kisses on mittens or whatever. Until it’s mid-November and suddenly it’s Nightmare on NaNo Street because you have pantsed your way to 5,347 words.

Uh-oh. MAKE A PLAN. Take a look at the number of days you have left (18) and consider realistically the number of days you will write. That means, friends, that if you haven’t written on Saturday yet, don’t count Saturdays, okay? Next, assign a goal to each day you will write. But you cannot give yourself two days off in a row. And that’s not because I’m being a meany-pants; I have a very good reason for this part of the plan.

I know this requires a bit of math and figuring so I’ll give you a few minutes to make a plan. And no, you cannot wait till tomorrow.

Tip Two: Do Not Backtrack

When I am working on a manuscript, even a first draft, I will write, write, write. And then the next time that I go to the manuscript, I will go back and read what I wrote, wrote, wrote. Sometimes, I’ll dump it all and start fresh. Sometimes, I should have dumped it all but I edit, trying to make it nice. The point is, I edit as I go.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, going back over what you’ve written is the kiss of manuscript death. There is no time for editing or finding your voice; there’s not even time to fix some egregious grammar mistake (and seriously, I shuddered just writing that last bit). Just plow ahead with writing no matter what. But—and here’s a big but—that’s easier to do if you write every day.

Writing every day, even if it’s just 500 words, keeps your mind entrenched in the manuscript as well as your butt in the chair. And once there, you’ll probably write more because you’re doing off-to-the-races writing! So if you want to revise that plan you made (the one where you skipped writing on Saturdays), I’ll wait.

Tip Three: Accept Imperfection

Now you have a plan that may or may not mean you have to write 2, 471 words per day for the next 18 days. You have vowed that when you sit down to write, you will not, under penalty of manuscript death, look at any words you have written before but will have at it, mid-sentence if need be. But come November 30th, you must face that what you have written—and really, with no editing what can you expect?--could be a pile of steaming word mush (to put it politely). But that’s okay. Because you’ll be done with NaNoWriMo and you’ll have a 50,000-ish word manuscript-ish.

We shall talk about revision tips on January 1st.

~Cathy C. Hall

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Three Tips on How to Bring Your Memoir Together

Since I started working on a memoir, it seems like everywhere I turn is another memoir being pimped . . . I mean promoted . . . or another post on how to make your memoir sing. I’ll admit, I’m a more avid reader of the how-to pieces than I am of the actual memoirs. What can I say? Maybe I’m ridiculously picky or memoir is just hard to do well.

Here are three tips on how to bring your own memoir together.

Pick a narrative line. One. Not three. Because memoir is memoir and not autobiography, you need to decide which story you are telling. Is this your rise from abused child and then wife to woman standing on her own two feet? Or perhaps you are telling how you recovered from the injuries you received at the hands of a butcher of a surgeon. Once you decide which story you are telling, you have chosen a path. Don’t try to jump to another one mid-memoir. In autobiography, you get to tell every story. In memoir, you get to tell one.

Think plot. In the blog post “How to Write Your Memoir Like a Novel,” Joe Bunting talks about how he rewrote his memoir manuscript with the three act structure in mind. He looked for rising tension. He cut backstory. As he rewrote, he built scenes looking for ways to increase suspense. As a result, he pulled together a memoir that readers say is a page turner just like a well-written novel.

Remember, memoir is not genealogy. Because a memoir is your story, it is also your family’s story. But it is also important to note that it is not a family history. If you write it that way, the only people who want to read it will be your family. Maybe. To create something that will appeal to a larger body of readers, your focus has to go beyond your family story to the larger story. You are writing about more than the Benedicts. You are writing about how losing the Benedict family business impacted your life.

It all seems intimidating, doesn’t it? I suspect that if you try to keep all of this in mind as you write your rough draft you will never get your story down. The key to success can be found in Bunting’s approach. Rough your memoir, then, during the rewrite process, hone it into a well-crafted piece of literature.

The key to great writing, after all, is the rewrite process.


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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Monday, November 11, 2019


The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later: Blog Tour and Giveaway

Picking up where The Unfaithful Widow ended, Ten Years Later continues the author’s journey from widow to a slightly askew woman. A memoir written with warmth and candor on being single again, aging, and finding a creative path surrounded by dogs, friends, laughter, and a bit of craziness. Barbara Barth shares stories on the adventures that followed her first year alone as she moved headfirst into a new life, listening to her heart, sometimes not so wisely, but always full speed ahead. Join her on the ride of her life, from owning an antique shop to moving to a Victorian cottage outside of Atlanta, and all the follies in between. Going into the next decade with six dogs by her side, the author proves you are only as old as you feel, and happiness begins with a grateful heart. A funny and engaging memoir for anyone who wants to be their own superhero facing life’s good and bad moments.

Print Length: 374 pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Gilbert Street Press
ISBN-10: 0983171564
ISBN-13: 978-0983171560

The Unfaithful widow Ten Years Later is available in print and as an ebook at

Book Giveaway Contest

To win a copy of the book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later by Barbara Barth, please enter using Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on November 17th at 11:59 PM EST. We will announce the winner the next day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author, Barbara Barth

Author, blogger, sometimes antique dealer, dog hoarder, bedazzled by life. Widowed ten years ago, Barth writes about finding a creative path back to happiness. Her recent move to a 1906 historic cottage brought many surprises, including discovering the Monroe–Walton Center for the Arts where she started the monthly Walton Writers group and is on the MWCA Board as Literary Arts Chair. Barth is a contributor to Walton Living Magazine and a former blogger for The Balancing Act, Lifetime Television’s morning show for women. Currently she lives with six dogs, rescue dogs that rescued her.

Visit her website at, follow her on Twitter @writerwithdogs, and follow her Amazon author page.

---- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congratulations on your book! Your book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later continues on where The Unfaithful Widow left off. For those who were fans of the first book, what can they expect from your latest book?

Barbara: Picking up where The Unfaithful Widow ended, my memoir is the continuing story about being single and finding your place again with the help of friends, laughter, following your heart, and becoming your own superhero. The stories are in chronological order from owning an antique shop for nine months to my move to a Victorian cottage in a small historic rural community, and all the folly in between the two. And if you know me, you know there are my dog stories, lots of them.

WOW: Oh I love dogs! And I love how you use humor in your writing. Does that come naturally to you?

Barbara: Thanks for the nice compliment. I am a storyteller and have been for as long as I remember. Laughter is the best medicine, is not a cliché phrase, but a true statement. The only caveat, I poke fun at myself, not at the expense of others. I’ve learned I make mistakes, lots of them, but we learn and go on. Or at least, I hope I learn. Sometimes I’m not sure. Once I get started it is hard to shut me up. Ask my friends! If I can make you laugh, I’m happy. I am respectful of loss and sadness, but for me, I have to find a way to come out of the darkness laughing.

WOW: I'm the same way! Laughter in the midst of darkness is wonderful medicine. So, what inspired you to write this book?

Barbara: I wanted to tie up all the craziness of the last ten years as my seventieth birthday approached. I received my widow crown three months before I turned sixty and have been blogging about all my adventures and misadventures since the publication of The Unfaithful Widow in 2010. With my big birthday looming ahead it seemed fitting to do a memoir again. Ten years a widow going into a new decade as a single woman with a bed full of dogs. While these stories are all about me (and what memoir isn’t as a friend pointed out at our writer's group) there are universal themes for all women from aging, dating, health issues, living alone, friendships, love, dealing with loss, and discovering what makes you happy. Each year I’ve recreated myself, not to be different, but to find my creative path. And then there is the question, man or beast? Every so often I surface and try dating, get a great blog post from it, but I am always my happiest sleeping with my dogs. I wrote the memoir to help put my life in perspective and figure out what goes and what stays moving into my seventies. I still wonder what’s next. Perhaps my readers are asking the same question and will join me in finding everyday magic.

WOW: I can't wait to see what's next! Tell us about the dogs in your life. Who are they and how do they inspire you?

Barbara: My dogs are my life. I never had children, so while my friends are becoming grandparents, I’m adopting dogs. When my husband was alive we had two dogs, but as a widow my dog frenzy began, adopting five dogs in nine months. I still had my old gal Foxy, so I referred to my dogs as the six-pack. The hardest thing is losing a beloved pet, and I adopt older dogs, so that is always a worry. Most years my numbers range from five to six as dogs go over the rainbow bridge and new ones join the household. I lost two of the original core group since finishing my memoir. I’m now down to one big girl and three Chihuahuas, and there is a hot romance going on between two of the little ones. I’ve written about that in my new book. My platform is Writer With Dogs and I find it is a great way to connect to others. Who doesn’t like talking about their dog? A good ice-breaker and a fun excuse to keep adopting dogs, as if I need one. My dogs teach me lessons on life with their love and caring, not only for me but with each other. This is the first time I haven’t gone right out to bring in another dog or two. But last February I tripped and broke my elbow and wrist and have had to heal before going dog crazy again.

WOW: Hopefully you heal up quickly and can bring more dogs into your life! What is next for you? What are you working on now?

Barbara: What’s next? That is always my biggest question. Living alone leaves two choices as we age, go inward or go outward. For me, I am always trying to create something new and exciting that keeps me surrounded with people. I have a few novels I’ve started. Now that my memoir is done, I hope to find time to work on them. I’m also painting again, thanks to the inspiring folks at the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts.

While my own creative endeavors are important, sharing with the local community through MWCA is a top priority. I am on the Board of Directors as their Literary Arts Chair (my new crown and I wear it proudly) and have established a writers group, book events, and our Second Saturday Open Mic Nights for storytellers and musicians to gather once a month. We are currently working on an anthology of murder and mayhem stories as a fundraiser for the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts and plan to have it available for sale in time for Christmas. My mind stays full of things to do.

WOW: We can't wait to see what is next. Best of luck on your book and on the blog tour!

--- Blog Tour Dates

Today @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Barbara Barth's new book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

November 12th @ All Things Audry
Author Barbara Barth is a guest writer over at Audry's blog today and will be talking about women friendships.

November 13th @ Words from the Heart
Stop by Linda's blog and you can read a guest post by Barbara Barth about publishing anthologies.

November 14th @ Thoughts in Progress
Visit Mason's blog today and you can read Barbara's guest post about starting a writing group. Don't miss it!

November 15th @ The World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog and read her review of Barbara Barth's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

November 16th @ Lori Duff Writes
Stop by Lori's blog today where you can read her interview with Barbara Barth and read her review of Barbara's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

November 16th @ Jill Sheets Blog
Visit Jill's blog today and you can read Barbara Barth's guest post about self-publishing.

November 17th @ A Storybook World
Be sure to stop by Deirdra's blog today and check out her spotlight of the book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later and enter to win a copy of the book!

November 18th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Be sure you visit Bev's blog and read Barbara Barth's guest post about starting over at 70. You won't want to miss this!

November 19th @ Look to the Western Sky
Be sure to visit Margo's blog and read her interview with author Barbara Barth. Don't miss it!

November 20th @ Anthony Avina's Blog
Make sure you visit Anthony's blog today and read Barbara Barth's guest post about publishing anthologies.

November 21st @ Cassandra's Writing World
Stop by Cassandra's blog today and read her review of The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. You can also enter to win a copy of the book as well!

November 22nd @ Karen Brown Tyson's Blog
Join us at Karen Brown Tyson's blog where you can read a guest post about self-publishing by author Barbara Barth. Don't miss it!

November 23rd @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Visit Bev's blog again and you can read her review of Barbara Barth's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

November 24th @ Choices
Be sure to stop by Madeline's blog and read Barbara Barth's guest post that will be talking about women friendships.

November 25th @ Wild Woman Writer
Visit Anne's blog today and you can read Barbara Barth's blog guest post about starting over at 70.

November 26th @ Life Like A Galaxy Girl
Stop by Alanna's blog today and you can read her review of Barbara Barth's memoir The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

November 27th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Visit Lisa's blog today and you can read her interview with author Barbara Barth and find out more about this incredible author!

November 28th @ Bibliotica
Stop by Melissa's blog and make sure you read Barbara Barth's guest post about grief over the years and finding happiness again.

November 29th @ Stranded in Chaos
Visit Sara's blog and you can read her review of Barbara Barth's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

November 30th @ Anthony Avina's Blog
Visit Anthony's blog again and read his review of Barbara Barth's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

December 1st @ Words from the Heart
Visit Linda's blog and read her review of Barbara Barth's book The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later.

December 2nd @ Women's Writing Circle
Stop by the blog Women's Writing Circle and you can read a guest post by Barbara Barth about adopting dogs while all her friends are having grandkids. Don't miss this one!

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sunday, November 10, 2019


Michelle Dwyer, 2nd Place Winner in Creative Nonfiction, Wears Many Hats Well

Second place winner Michelle Dwyer wrote an amazingly smart essay for our Quarter 4 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest! If you haven't read, "The E is Silent," then hurry over and do so now. Brilliant ending!

Michelle lives in Cedar Park, Texas, not too far from her eldest son, whom she affectionately refers to as her Aggie graduate. Her youngest son lives at home and is completing his first year of college. She is a single parent, and has often lost her mind. She says her daily life of chaos brings out her best writing.

By day, Michelle works for Sun City’s fitness department in Georgetown, Texas, as a certified personal trainer and Parkinson’s group fitness instructor. By night, and by the crack of dawn, she writes after the world has gone to sleep and right before it awakens. She received her MBA from Texas A&M University Central Texas/Tarleton State University, and her MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, California.

Michelle has been writing for twenty years, published a compilation of short stories, and is currently working on the prequel to her breakout novel, Intimate Nightmares. She writes fiction under the pen name Krymzen Hall.

Visit her at

WOW: Congratulations, Michelle, on winning 2nd place in our creative nonfiction essay contest with your essay, "The E is Slient." I'm not giving away why the title is that--our readers will need to go check out your amazing essay and the incredible last line. Holy cow, that's one of those lines you read and think: I wish I would have thought of that. Did that just come to you? Or did you have to work for it?

Michelle: I literally changed the title at the last minute! During the time I was writing the essay, the title was different. I don't even remember what it was now, but I do know it was lame. I had read the essay one last time, and the new title just popped in my head. It fit, so I went with it.

WOW: It is a good one! I love when writing genius happens like that. Why did you choose to write in the 2nd person, you? We read a lot of essays like that now, and I think our readers would be interested to know if you started it like this or did your essay evolve into what it is now?

Michelle: The essay started out in second person, and I never thought of it any other way. I believe all women, or at least most, have that one moment when the world caves in over a significant other, and we need to snap out of it. I felt that writing the essay in first or third person would give the reader a nonchalant experience. Writing the word "you" instead of "we" or "I" gives a direct hit to the reader, a kind of tough love geared specifically to the person absorbing the words. I wanted to write something highly encouraging while giving somebody a kick in the ass, so she can start realizing her worth.

WOW: It really works with the themes in your essay. The other thing you did well in this essay is take an old universal theme--the pain of heartbreak (we have all been there) and turn it on its heels, giving it a positive spin and almost a self-help feel. Why did you choose to "continue" the story, and not leave us in agony?

Michelle: I'm not quite sure what you mean, but I think you are referring to the concept of stalking yourself. I had read an article where researchers had studied the brains of people who'd been ghosted or abandoned. The results indicated that our responses to this sudden act are similar to that of drug addiction withdrawal. That's why we act so crazy when somebody leaves us. I paired that with the concepts of self-care and self-love, two ideas that I feel have finally received more recognition. As women, we are usually taught to put everybody else first; and when we don't, we are selfish, which is a bunch of B.S. I am glad this notion is changing. What better way to love yourself than to love yourself through a heartbreak.

WOW: No doubt. I love that you paired heartbreak and self-care together. It's one of the only healthy ways to make it through a breakup. You are also a novelist under a pen name. Can you tell us about your novel and the prequel you're working on?

Michelle: My first novel Intimate Nightmares is about a woman who has to come to terms with some secrets that snowball and cause a lot of pain and grief for herself and the people around her. In order for her life to stop crumbling, she has to do some pretty unthinkable things to heal herself before she loses everything. The novel focuses on her marriage and the marriages of her friends. The prequel focuses on her as a young woman in college and how she met her husband. The trials and tribulations they go through during college set the backdrop for Intimate Nightmares. I write under the pen name Krymzen Hall.

WOW: That sounds intriguing! You also are a testament to how people with day jobs can still pursue their writing dreams. Tell us a little about your writing schedule, especially as a single mom. I know now your sons are older, but it wasn't always that way.

Michelle: Thank you! I write in the morning and at night. There is no magic formula. The sacrifices are steep. You just have to be stronger than the storm. Just like the saying goes: If you want it bad enough you'll find a way; if not, you'll find an excuse. That's really what it comes down to.

WOW: I love that--"You have to be stronger than the storm." Thank you, Michelle! You are very inspirational. We appreciate the time you took to answer these questions. Best of luck to you!

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Saturday, November 09, 2019


Doing Scary Things

I mostly write creative nonfiction for the Chicken Soup for the Souls anthology. Over the years I've been published in 16 of their collections, so I've enjoyed some success. However, I've tried to stray out of my comfort zone from time to time. I've dabbled in romance short stories (laughable--literally), flash fiction (something I want to do more of) and I've written several manuscripts. Only one completed book-wannabe has earned the right to see the light of day--it's currently being shopped around.

Dipping my toes into different genres isn't exactly scary, but it is challenging.

However, in mid November I will be a guest speaker fast talker at a local university event. I changed it to "fast talker" because I'm one of three speakers who will have 8 minutes to inspire the audience of teachers with my story about how my students transformed my writing and how my writing transformed my teaching practices.

I'm nervous. Not that talking in front of a group of people makes my palms sweat. I can talk to any group about anything and feel at ease. (If car repair was the topic, I'd fill the time up with detailing my ignorance, and probably even get some laughs from the audience.)

The reason why I'm apprehensive is because I'm sharing the journey my manuscript has taken me. I feel extremely connected to this story. Last summer I made a movie about my emptional rollercoaster and when I talked about it, I got teary.

I'm afraid I won't be able to convey how committed I am, how driven I am to get my manuscript published. I'm worried that the audience won't see how emotionally I'm connected to the main character and his story...

... which made me think of other things I've done that make me fret a bit.

  • Author Talks  I've been a participant in a couple of author talk sessions. What made me tense was this: Would my "part" fit in with the other participants' parts? I didn't want to hog up too much time or fill too little of the evening. I wanted to make sure I didn't repeat anything the others had already said or what others (who hadn't spoken yet) were planning on sharing. 
  • Book Events  The scary thing for me is getting out from behind the table and being a bit brazen about trying to convince people to buy one of my books. I'm not especially good at it.
  • Writing Critique Groups  This may seem like an odd thing to consider "scary," but I've been a member of the best critique group around. (You want to arm wrestle me over it? You think your group is the best? Come to St. Louis, roll up your sleeves and we'll fight it out.)  Over the years, some members have left and new ones have joined. I've started another group that meets less frequently (made of all teachers).  For me, it makes me figuratively bite my nails worrying about how the groups mesh. Sometimes writers come for just a session or two. How will they fit in with the others? Will we be able to give the writer what they need to polish the piece?
What about you? What is scary when it comes to writing/revising/sharing/marketing? Maybe we could shake hands over it, and swap some palm sweat...

Sioux Roslawski (on the left; on the right is her cruise partner) didn't get nervous when riding on inflatables around the coast of Iceland, but she does get nervous over the prospect of becoming a marketing marvel and a stellar salesperson... once her book is published. When will that be? Sioux's asking the same question but until then, you can check out her sporadic blog posts at Sioux's Page.

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Thursday, November 07, 2019


Five Ways to Repurpose Content

Yesterday, Margo Dill shared some great podcasts that give solid marketing advice. And while I favor mostly true crime podcasts, I also enjoy getting tips on personal development through that medium. After all, people pay thousands of dollars to attend conferences where they can learn more about their craft—so why not get advice for free where you can get it?

One of my go-tos is Online Marketing Made Easy by Amy Porterfield. She had a great episode a few weeks ago where she shared all the ways she utilizes one piece of content. One. She had me at the show title! The takeaway is this—if you’re going to spend your valuable time creating a solid piece of work, it should be shared across multiple platforms to get the most bang for your buck and drive different parts of your audience to the same place. So for today’s blog post, I wanted to brainstorm how I could take one piece of content (an article I wrote for WOW’s latest “Dark &Twisty” e-zine) and repurpose it five different ways. Let’s go.

Content: We Speak for the Dead: The Creation of a Writing Conference All About Crime

Purpose #1: Article published in the e-zine, which lives on WOW’s site.

Purpose #2: I took one of the photos from the article and used it to create a social media post for both Instagram and Facebook.

Purpose #3: In brainstorming content for the missing persons true-crime podcast I’m developing, this topic could serve as bonus content, because it still fits the genre of the podcast. I could read snippets out loud or pull away a few takeaways from the article for a bonus episode called “Why I attended a writing conference all about murder.”

Purpose #4: I could also record video at the same time I record audio for the podcast episode, and use the video for further content on my social media.

Purpose #5: I could take the script of the podcast episode discussing MurderCon, and paste the copy into the show notes of my podcast. These would be available for anyone on the podcast page of my website who might be curious about the content, but would rather read something rather than listen to a podcast.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Porterfield discussed other ways she repurposes her content, such as using the podcast content to create a teaser e-mail she sounds out to her subscribers, creating a freebie out of the content, and brainstorming Q&A’s she can use in a future blog post or podcast episode. It really made me excited for all the ways I could be repurposing my content, and even gave me some ideas on how to freshen up my blog.

Are you using your content in all the ways you could? What could you start doing differently today? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and magazine editor. You can often find her exercising outdoors while listening to any number of true crime podcasts. In 2017, her short story, “The Polaroid,” inspired by a real-life missing person’s case, won first place in the Suspense/Thriller category of the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards. Her stories are often inspired by the darker side of human nature. Learn more at

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Wednesday, November 06, 2019


Marketing Podcasts I Find Helpful

Before you say, "I'm not a podcast listener," I want you to stop and look at your phone. If you have an iphone, you have a purple podcast button (like the one to the right) where you have a world of FREE information at your fingertips--literally. (Apparently with an Android, you can listen through your Play Music app--someone with an Android phone--please confirm.)

I double dog dare you, right now, to pick up your phone, push the purple podcast icon, click the search symbol,  and type either one of these podcast shows that I mention below or the name of an author you love or even a subject area, such as "writing kid lit." Do a Google search for "Top 10 Podcasts for Writers 2019"--but just please, give a podcast a chance if you haven't yet.

It is easy professional development for writers because you can listen to these while you do the dishes, drive your kids around, or take your dog for a walk. You know how you have that stack of writing craft books you will never get to? A lot of that information you can find ON PODCASTS for FREE.

And no, I'm not being paid by Apple or anyone to promote how wonderful podcasts are--although there's an idea.

Last week, I wrote about my adventure with my picture book, Listen, Lucy! Listen!, and I mentioned that I finally found inspiration for what to do with this contract-canceled book by listening to a podcast. One of our bloggers, Sue Bradford Edwards, said I should write a post on marketing podcasts, so here it is. She didn't mention that I should go on a long soapbox about how everyone should listen to them, but I can't follow directions very well.

Here are the podcasts I listen to that have marketing help for writers. If you have some suggestions on writing-related podcasts, please leave them in the comments and let us know what areas they cover for interested Muffin readers!

Smarty Pants Book Marketing Podcast by Chris and Becca Syme
Although they are currently not making any more new episodes, they have 136 in their archives! I like these two because Chris, the mom, is a marketing expert (not just with books), and Becca is a working author who has made the USA Today Bestsellers List. The episodes are short (usually around 30 minutes), and they have a lot of ideas that you can put into practice today, such as build your email marketing list and create an automation for your newsletter sign-ups (even before you have a book out). To check out this podcast, you can go to the website here or subscribe to the podcast on the app. A few of the episodes you should probably skip--anything to do with Amazon policies because those seem to change daily. But so many of the practices they preach are ones that will be around for a long time.

Social Media Examiner: Social Media Marketing Podcast 
What I like about this podcast is that it is not only for book marketers, and I think sometimes it is important as authors to remember that there are a lot of small businesses out there trying to market their wares, and you need to think of your author career as a small business. This show focuses a lot on using social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, You Tube) for marketing. The experts he interviews always make it seem like getting involved in the latest trend on these sites is doable for anyone. I like that. So many times I think: I can't create an Instagram story. I don't know how to make a video. But then yesterday, I listened to the podcast about Instagram stories, and I made one for WOW! celebrating the beginning of NaNoWriMo. Check that podcast out here. 

The Creative Penn by Joanna Penn
This is not going to be a new one for most of you; but if you haven't listened to any of Joanna Penn's podcast episodes yet, then you should--just for her lovely accent! On her website, she has a list of podcast episodes, which you can actually click on the title of the episode to read a transcript of it if you really are against listening to podcasts. (Pointing my finger at you!) But this awesome list also allows you to find what subject you are interested in. A lot of the episodes are about marketing--or she is interviewing authors who are successful, and they share tips about their marketing. You can find all that--for free! here .

If you don't find Margo listening to podcasts, you will find her working on her children's books, teaching classes for WOW!, editing for her Editor 911 clients, or playing with her daughter and dog in St. Louis, MO.

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Tuesday, November 05, 2019


Interview with Bonnie West: Spring 2019 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Bonnie West’s stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including The Minetta Review, Women’s Day and Redbook Magazine. She has a children’s bilingual Japanese/English children’s book Hideki and Kenji Save the Day and Boyfriends, a short story collection from a small press in England, are available on Amazon or at

Before you read her interview, be sure you read her story Book by Book, then come on back!

---- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, I loved your story Book by Book. I loved how you weaved in the plot lines of other boos into the life of your character! What was the inspiration behind this story?

Bonnie: I first wrote the story about 20 years ago. I was with my husband in a library he frequented often and where I rarely went. I noticed he was all chummy with the librarians and I thought for the first time, wow, I would never know! During the same visit, I found a book on the shelf on affairs, which I thought was serious serendipity. It was an anthology of sorts and I thought again, wow, who would ever tell. And that was the beginning of the story. (I didn’t actually read that book.)

WOW: What an inspirational moment! I have to say how impressed I am with how you wrapped up this story. How did your story transform from the first draft to the final draft?

Bonnie: I am not certain how many revisions it went through, but there were many. And I think the ideas for the affairs came to me from simply thinking about affairs and all their convolutions: where people have them; what happens how they think they are secretive; how some people really must get away with it and how some people must want to be caught. And actually how many people do really leave for the affair.  In the end I decided since the main character had stated she is looking for her story by being in the library she would have to find it. So the last story I use is more her story although obviously not the same. But she realizes it is the end. Whether or not she is really poisoned by her own husband doesn’t really matter. (I like to think she is!)

WOW: Ha, I love that twist at the end! I loved reading on your website that you are a writer that doesn't write enough but loves writing! What advice would you give to another writer who says the same thing?

Bonnie: I really am that writer who loves writing and doesn’t write enough. I have analysed it and talked to other writers and find it is not such an unusual thing but I am still and always struggling with it. I think part of my problem is thinking that I really should be doing something else. Something like being with friends or cleaning the house or cooking a nice dinner. I also think that is crazy! I should be doing what I really want to do. So that is one thing. Another is that when I get going I write for hours and hours and hours. And I am annoyed if I am interrupted or stopped for whatever reason so I tend to just not start. Good luck. I can only hope that someone who might read this will comment and help me out with this one!

WOW: If you ever find out how let me know. I struggle with the same issue! What writing tip stayed with you the most?

Bonnie: The writing tip I use the most is one I use during revision. (I love revision and revise and cut and revise and cut many times.) Once I have written the story and think maybe it’s finished I look at it and ask myself, what is the story and what is the plot. And always I find good reasons to revise several more times. I see the plot right away but often don’t see the “story” by which I mean, the truth of what I have written. What is it REALLY about? Is it about betrayal? Is it about honesty? Is it about loss? And when I figure that out I can go back and put write some of the more difficult parts. In this story it was not such a problem because the story is I think is less serious than others I write. I wrote a story not so long ago that also was in the top ten at WOW which was called One Side of the Vase and that story was, for me, very difficult and very important to figure out what it was really about opposed to simply the plot.

WOW: That advice helps me a lot actually! What are you currently working on? What can we expect next from you?

Bonnie: I am currently and slowly working on a collection of connected stories. My book, Boyfriends, is a short story collection but they are in no way connected and I would like to have a more cohesive collection (to use the words from Project Runway! Ha)

It takes the characters from my final story in Boyfriends, which is titled, Sunrise, Banana, Chair and gives them a more complex story with lots of other characters involved. It is very definitely in the beginning stages. 

I’m also working on a few stand alone stories written a few years back which I am revising just to get them finished. I have lots to do so I had better get writing. Being runner up in this contest has perhaps given me the boost I need. 

WOW: I am so glad it did! Congratulations again and I can't wait to see what is next for you! 

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Monday, November 04, 2019


Hugh Fritz launches his blog tour of Made to Be Broken; book one in the Mystic Rampage series

Flarence knows that Genies are supposed to help their masters by granting wishes, but he’s never been comfortable taking orders. To him, pummeling bad guys with magically enhanced weaponry feels like a much better way to use his powers.

Darren is a gangster who wants to leave his reckless life behind so he can focus on providing for his family. Unfortunately, there are people in the neighborhood who won’t let him move on.

Soleil is a humble man who tries to lead a passive lifestyle. In times of peace or times of war, he can be found cleaning his cafe or singing along with rock-’n’-roll tunes while tending to his houseplants.

Darren, Soleil, and Flarence will have to work together and step outside their comfort zones when a rogue Genie and a hot-headed police officer threaten the lives of their loved ones. Flarence will be challenged to work with a criminal, Soleil will be forced to leave his sanctuary and act to help his friends, and Darren will face the possibility that being a gentle and caring family man may not be an option for him.

Print Length: 264  Pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Golden Word Books
ISBN-10: 1948749432
ISBN-13: 978-1948749435

Made to be Broken is now available to purchase on, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest
To win a copy of the book Made to be Broken by R. Hugh Fitz, please enter via Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on November 11th at 12 AM EST. We will randomly pick a winner and email them the same day. Good luck!

About the Author
Hugh Fritz is a fan of monsters, mad scientists, sorcerers, and anything that involves being with incredible powers beating each other senseless. After years of writing research papers, he decided it was time to give reality a rest and let his imagination run wild. This is his first book, and it has been an illuminating experience making the transition from reader to author.

He was born in Chicago where he spent most of his life until moving to the Southwest in 2015. He finds inspiration bouncing ideas off other novelists in a critique group, but hours of television and finding the right songs to put him in the writing mood play an important role as well. He has no plans to end the Genies' adventures here, so be on the lookout for more magical mischief in the next book of the Mystic Rampage series.

Find Hugh Fritz online:



Author's Website:

Author Interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

WOW: Thank you for being with us today and choosing WOW to help promote Made to be Broken! 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?

Hugh: I like Brian Harmon, who wrote two series of fantasy novels. One is Temple of the Blind and the other is called Rushed. I don’t like everything he does with his characters and their development, but I enjoy how his stories progress. Temple of the Blind had interesting puzzles and throughout Rushed the hero has found clever ways to defeat the antagonists.

WOW: I love that you can speak objectively about your favorite author - that's very insightful. When did you write your first book or poem? Did you know at a young age that you had a passion for this craft?

Hugh: The first piece I worked on continuously was for a club that I joined in high school. The title was Nidrack and it was a series of skits. Each member of the group was a character, and then there was one random character named Nidrack who I always played. I don’t remember anything inspiring the idea, other than the observation that most people were writing poems and short stories but nobody was bringing scripts to the meetings so I gave it a shot.

WOW: Sounds like a great group to help inspire someone like yourself. Let's talk about the opposite of being inspired - How do you deal with rejection and what advice do you have for other up and coming authors?

Hugh: I treat rejection as if it’s a negative review. I read through it a few times, take a moment to reflect on it, and then go about my day. Before making a creative piece public it’s important to realize there will be people who hate and criticize it, sometimes in a blunt and offensive manner. It’s just going to happen. There will be times to defend your work, but there will also be times to accept the blows. Agents and publishers are usually busy with other inquiries, so they probably don’t have time to listen to me trying to change their mind. Therefore, rejection letters are times to practice admitting to suffering a setback and finding a way to move on.

WOW: What great advice for a writer at any level.  How do you feel about critique and writing groups?

Hugh: I’ve been going to a critique group weekly for a few years and the people there are the reason I’ve been published. In addition to improving the quality of my writing, they’ve given me advice about marketing and helped me find places to pitch my work. I hadn’t heard of the Southwest Writers until someone in the critique group asked if anyone wanted to go to one of their conferences. I accepted and it was where I met a representative for my current publisher, Golden Word Books.

WOW: Well, I'm glad I asked that question; it may help some of your fellow authors see the benefit of those groups. Thank you for your honesty!

If your book was made into a movie, what song should be played as the title track?

Hugh: I’ve thought about this before because I like listening to music while I’m writing and I’ve settled on theme songs for my main characters. If a movie were to open by introducing Darren, I imaging the song being Clint Eastwood by the Gorillaz. If it opens with Soleil, it would be Watching the Wheels by John Lennon. For Flarence, it would be Pompeii by Bastille.

WOW: As we wrap up our time together today, I simply must know, what's next for you?

Hugh: For the moment I’m working through Mystic Rampage 3, and making revisions to part 2. When this series is finished I plan on writing a more typical fantasy book. It was fun writing about a group of genies in modern-day Chicago, but I have another story about a dragon, a farmer, and a knight in an imaginary kingdom.

WOW: 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

November 4th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us as we celebrate the launch of the blog tour for author Hugh Fritz’s book Made to be Broken. Read an interview with the author and win a copy of the book.

November 5th @ Book Santa Fe with Crystal Otto
Crystal Otto shares her thoughts about the first book in the Mystic Rampage Series - Made to be Broken by Hugh Fritz.

November 7th @ Bring on Lemons with Carmen Otto
Middle Schooler Carmen Otto raves about the first book in the Mystic Rampage Series – she encourages everyone to read Made to be Broken by Hugh Fritz! Find out more today at Bring on Lemons.

November 8th @ World of My Imagination
Nicole Pyles reviews Made to be Broken by Hugh Fritz – find out what you’re missing and learn about the first book in the Mystic Rampage series – if you love sci-fi you’ll love this book!

November 9th @ World of My Imagination
Learn more about Hugh Fritz and his new book Made to be Broken as he shares a few thoughts in an interesting interview with Nicole Pyles at World of My Imagination.

November 15th @ Anjanette Speaks
Anjanette Potter interviews Hugh Fritz as well as reviewing his book Made to be Broken – find out more about the first book of the Mystic Rampage series – now available!

November 18th @ Breakeven Books
Today’s Book Spotlight at Breakeven Books is Made to be Broken (first book in the Mystic Rampage Series) by Hugh Fritz – don’t miss this great opportunity to add this exciting new novel to your collection!

November 19th @ To Write or Not To Write
Sreevarsha reviews Made to be Broken by Hugh Fritz and delights readers at To Write or Not To Write with her thoughts about this fast-paced novel – it’s the first book in the Mystic Rampage Series – don’t miss this!

November 20th @ A StoryBook World
Don’t miss today’s publicity post at A Storybook World as readers at Dierdra’s blog are introduced to the first book in the Mystic Rampage Series – you’ll want to run out and get your own copy of Hugh Fritz’s Made to be Broken!

November 21st @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews Hugh Fritz about the first novel in the Mystic Rampage series, Made to be Broken. Readers will delight in learning more about this science fiction story with intriguing plot and multiple plot twists!

November 22nd @ Look to the Western Sky
Visit Margo's blog today where you can catch today's author spotlight and learn more about Hugh Fritz and his fabulous book Made to be Broken.

November 26th @ Selling Books
Don’t miss today’s author interview with Hugh Fritz as Cathy Stucker finds out more about his latest release Made to be Broken – the first book in the Mystic Rampage series.

November 27th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina shares his thoughts after reading Made to be Broken by Hugh Fritz – don’t miss this review!

December 2nd @ Bring on Lemons with Tara Forst
Wisconsinite Tara Forst shares her thoughts after reading the first book in the Mystic Rampage Series – find out more in her book review of Made to be Broken by Hugh Fritz.

December 4th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina interviews Hugh Fritz about Made to be Broken - the first book of the Mystic Rampage series.

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

To win a copy of the book Made to be Broken by R. Hugh Fitz, please enter via Rafflecopter abelow. Giveaway ends on November 11th 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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Sunday, November 03, 2019


Interview with Connally Jae: Q4 2019 Creative Nonfiction Contest First Place Winner

Connally Jae is a five-foot-nothing dreamer with an all encompassing love for stationary supplies and a fascination with ancient mythology and folk lore studies. She’s been writing stories as long as she can remember but has only recently began pursuing her dream of becoming a full-time author.

She resides in the Midwest with her husband and beloved dog, Steve. Besides reading everything under the sun, she spends her free time going on nature hikes with her family, traveling to as many new places as possible, and attempting to learn Korean and American Sign Language.

She is currently editing her debut novel to be released in Summer 2020. Keep up with her writing adventures by following @connallyjae on Instagram.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Q4 2019 Creative Nonfiction essay competition! What prompted you to enter the contest?

Connally: Thank you so much; this whole experience has been a whirlwind!

So I first saw the contest listed on Reedsy's website and was intrigued when I read the submission details. But I never would have gathered the courage to enter anything if I didn't have two things in my life: an amazingly supportive husband who consistently pushes me to follow my writing dreams and the steadfast encouragement of my all-women's writing group.

I have been reluctant to share my writing over the years as around the time I entered high school, I developed an intense fear of criticism. I felt like any negative feedback on my work was a reflection of my own personal failings. Connecting with a group of writers who gave positive yet helpful constructive feedback was the push I needed to move past those paralyzing fears of my writing never being good enough. They helped me to take a step back, especially from an intensely personal essay, and edit more subjectively so that I could confidently submit my best work possible.

WOW:  Reading your entry, “You Were Just Driving Home,” I felt like I was there with you. What inspired you to write this particular story? It must have been difficult to revisit.

Connally: It was difficult. I wrote this immediately after my visit to the police station while my emotions were still overwhelmingly present. More than just an essay, I felt like this was a piece of myself, the raw wounded part that I didn't know what to do with. So I tore it out, threw it on the page, and hid it away.

I didn't touch this piece for almost two years after the incident, and when I finally did reread it, I cried as much as on the day I had written it. Throughout my life, writing has helped me to process situations where I have felt powerless or alone; writing this particular essay helped me work through a lot of the helplessness and fear that I was feeling at the time.

Reading it again brought all those old emotions back to the surface, but it turned into an amazing opportunity to reexamine them with the gift of time and distance. And it also gave me the chance to share it with others. I was blown away by the stories of amazing women who opened up about having similar situations happen to them or their loved ones. The realization that I was not alone in this experience, as awful a fact as that is, was a wonderfully healing moment.

WOW: Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. You mentioned that you are currently editing your debut novel, which is to be released in Summer 2020. What has your novel writing journey been like, and how are you tackling the project of editing the book?

Connally: I'll never forget when a college roommate of mine told me "You never seem to be as much of yourself as when you are writing." I honestly cannot remember a time before I wanted to be a writer; I loved books and reading more than practically anything else growing up. From elementary school to college and beyond, I was always writing. This has led to having a great many terrible stories to my name but also a few wonderful things – half finished novels or short stories, even a poem or two, that still make me smile when I read them. It wasn't until this year that I mapped out, wrote, and finished a complete novel that I plan to publish. It's the first story I've written that I've been able to truly envision other people reading one day.

As far as the editing process goes, I am currently in the ruthless cutting stage. It has been a lot of hacking away excess scenes to get to the bones of my story so that I can build it back up, hopefully into something much better. I'll admit that it has been frustrating and exhausting at times; I've wanted to burn the whole thing and start over more than once. But over all, it has been a rewarding learning experience.

WOW:  In your bio, you also mention that you’re working on learning Korean and American Sign Language. Are you taking classes or studying on your own? I’m intrigued about learning ASL.

Connally: I am not currently taking classes for either, but I have looked into taking a beginner's course for ASL at a local college. It's been challenging for me to practice ASL on my own because as much as I adore learning things from books, this particular subject doesn't translate as well for me when it comes to the practicing part of it. For spoken languages, there are podcasts and videos and plenty of options when starting out to make sure I am communicating correctly but hand signs have proven to be a different kind of challenge.

WOW:  Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Connally! Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?

Connally: As cliché as it may sound, just do it. It's not as scary as you may think.

For me, the victory in this contest was in submitting something at all. It was a huge step for me to learn to be brave enough to share my work with the world. Placing is great, winning is awesome, but the mere fact of putting yourself and your writing out there is the most extraordinary part of all. Regardless of the outcome, you will learn something every time you take a chance.

One of the hardest lessons I've learned when it comes to any kind of art is that making something bad isn't the worst thing you can do - the worst thing is to never try making anything at all.


For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.

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Saturday, November 02, 2019


In Defense of Pantsing

Despite all those amazing tools out there to help me stay organized with my writing, I find myself gravitating to the wild west approach to writing. Pantsing appeals to my inner child who would usually announce her games with the words, "Let's pretend!"

I have to tell you that I have attempted outlining, even at the most basic level. But instead of writing, I end up with no creative inspiration at all. I am aware it works for a lot of writers, but a bit like attempting to do a cartwheel after 20 plus years of not doing one, I can't get my stories off the ground when I outline.

What I love about pantsing is that it allows me to take the story in any direction I choose and I get to see it all play out as I write. I get to walk behind the character and follow this character while they nudge me along and I nudge them along. Sure, sometimes stories go stale. And they are put to the side. However, this has happened to me when I've tried outlining, so there you go.

Pantsing allows me flexibility as I write, which I love. It makes writing feel like an adventure. So, as you take on the writing challenge this month, if you are pantsing, I wish you well. Write with reckless abandon. Push away the inner critic and write on.

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