Interview with Kara Weeks: Runner Up in the Fall 2019 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Kara Weeks lives in New York City with her tortoiseshell cat named Beatrice. She works full-time in creative advertising and finds time to write on nights and weekends in between cups of coffee and glasses of wine. She is currently working on a series of short stories, which she hopes to complete this year. When Kara isn't writing, she can be found exploring a new corner of the world, walking with a camera in hand around New York City, burying her nose in a book, or lacing up her running shoes for her next race. You can follow her on Instagram: @karaweeks27.

Before you read her interview, be sure to read her story What Father Knows, then come on back!

-- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congratulations on winning runner up in the fall flash fiction writing contest! Can you tell us about what inspired this story? 

Kara: Thank you! A friend of mine had a family member who had a similar experience with her father. It stuck with me so I began writing the fictional characters of Bri and her dad to explore the father-daughter relationship and how strong that bond is. Ultimately, they'll love each other no matter what and I wanted to unveil their years of love and history as an anchor for them.

WOW: You absolutely captured that relationship! I see that you work in creative advertising! How does your work in advertising influence your short stories? 

Kara: Advertising at its core is about storytelling. The work I do for brands is about finding what that story is and how to continue the narrative in a succinct, engaging way. Thinking with that lens for work has deepened my skills for storytelling as a writer in my personal life and vice versa.

WOW: I think that's a fantastic way of both worlds inspiring each other! You are currently working on a series of short stories. Can you tell us a little bit about them? 

Kara: It will be an anthology following the same character, a 28-year old woman who is crippled by the monotony of her suburban married life. I'm still workshopping but it has taken a darkly comic angle so far. I'm excited to see where she takes me.

WOW: That sounds so interesting! So, you are my Instagram inspiration! I can see you have an eye for photography. Do your photographs ever influence or inspire your writing? 

Kara: Thank you so much! As a photographer, I'm captivated by details - the chipped edge of a building, the slight reflection of light on glass. In my writing I take the same approach, I like details that tell the story more than a comprehensive, play-by-play narrative would. I actually have a separate Instagram for my photography if anyone would like to follow me there! @karaweeksphotography

WOW: Well, I'm definitely following you now! Lastly, what writing advice has stayed with you the most? 

Kara: All good writers are readers first.

WOW: I totally agree! Best of luck with your writing and congrats again!
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Thank You Helpers

Monday, March 30, 2020
WOW! I don't even know where to begin - the world is upside down. I've journaled about how a trip to the grocery seems surreal and somehow dangerous. I want to remember these days. I also have the same feeling in my stomach I would get as a child watching a scary movie. Daddy would see me hiding under the blanket and remind me there would be a happy ending and ask "don't you want to see how it ends?". I'd try to stick it out as long as I could, but I'd give in to that topsy turny feeling in my tummy and run to the bathroom until it was over. I didn't care how it ended, I just wanted it to stop. The grown-up me knows we need to see this COVID-19 thing come to an end. The grown-up me knows once it's over we will appreciate one another more. The grown-up me knows I need to come up with fun ways to keep the children entertained.

Yet ... here I am hiding in the tub with a glass of wine wondering if maybe when I come out it will be over.

Most days I don't feel very grown-up. I'm worried about finances (I'm a musician and half our income each year comes from that) so I'm baking and taking on more author work to supplement our income. I'm worried about the elderly - so I'm shopping for people and leaving groceries on porches. I'm worried about my family and their health (physically and emotionally) - my mother usually sees the children several times a week and it's been 3 weeks since she last held the baby on her lap for a nap. My husband says I wake up in the middle of the night scared saying things like:

"I gave it to all of them - Ken warned me"

I internalize things. My friends and family see my humorous posts about being the new gym teacher, hairdresser, etc... and inside, I'm wondering if I remembered to sanitize my phone before lunch. My hands bleed from the excessive hand washing, and I keep counting the jars of vegetables to make sure no one will go without.

I know on a certain level we are all feeling this. We are all trying to do our best under some very trying circumstances. I want you to know I see you. I feel you. I'm on your side.

The ONLY thing keeping me smiling right now is doing what Daddy taught me. I'm looking for the helpers. I see the man from Koeppel Concrete who donated gift cards to healthcare workers to purchase scrubs from the local small business Working Man's Friend. I see the woman who is on furlough who is helping at the local Festival Foods making sure shelves are stocked. I see the nurse who works tirelessly with the elderly and during her time off cares for her special needs son while also sewing masks for fellow healthcare workers. I see the teachers juggling their own children while putting together online lessons for their students. I see restaurants making deliveries and donations to healthcare workers. I've always seen you - but right now I NEED to see you. I've been posting on social media asking people to tell me about the amazing acts of kindness they see each day.

With so much sadness and fear in our world right now, we need to thank the helpers, but more importantly we need to see them. We need to hear about them. There are so many ways to help right now - and new ideas are popping up every day. Big or small, your help is bringing a smile to more than just one person. Keep helping and please know we are seeing you!

Thanks for listening - I struggled with this post - and now can you do me a favor? Leave a comment about something you've done, something you've seen, something you plan to do that will help someone else? These stories help me get through each and every day - you have no idea! THANK YOU <3 p="">
Hugs (hopefully in real life again someday),

Crystal is the office manager, 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 Darlin' and Joker, and over 250 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal milking cows, riding horses, and riding unicorns (not at the same time), 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 and she has never (not once) been accused of being normal!
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Interview with Kim Burnett: Q1 2020 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest Runner Up

Sunday, March 29, 2020
Kim’s Bio:

Kim Burnett is a policy wonk by training who made an early career move from Capitol Hill to the nonprofit space, most recently in support of the children and schools in Haiti. A Midwesterner by birth and inclination, she now lives in Rehoboth Beach, DE. She has three happily launched children, a sweet husband and equally sweet dog.

She started a deep dive into memoir and essay through classes at the Writers Center in Bethesda, MD and worked with a nurturing circle of six other writers she met there for more than 12 years. In her new home at the beach she discovered a talented group of writers in the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild. They encouraged her to walk into the world of submissions. Her first published essay recently appeared Persimmon Tree Magazine, which she declares a good beginning.

She is interested in good books, good friends, and any activity that gets her on the trails or the beach.

If you haven't done so already, check out Kim's award-winning story "Does My AOL Email Address Make Me Look Fat?" and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Q1 2020 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing this piece and how did it and your writing evolve as you wrote?

Kim: This piece came together organically. The airport morning visit to Starbucks happened last January, and it was one of those moments I felt like I was above the scene, observing. No one noticed as I scribbled notes because they were all eyes-on-phone. I didn't think of it again until months later when I was working on my "serious writer" technology presence (which, by the way, I have yet to finish) of domain name, website address and email address and I felt resistance to making a choice. As I journaled about it, I realized I felt resentment that I would not be taken as seriously as a writer if I continued to use my comfortable AOL address. I wrote the essay that hour.

WOW: Thank you for sharing your writing process with us. What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay?

Kim: I realized that turning 60 brought up unexpected insecurities and questions. Will I still be taken seriously by younger editors and writers? How hard am I willing to work to keep up with technology? What do I need to do – and what do I NOT need to do - to be both challenged and comfortable in my work? And - boy this was a surprise - I am more like my father than I imagined.

WOW: I love how writing can bring up so many unexpected questions and realizations. Enjoy the process of reflecting on those questions, if you choose to do so! Please tell us more about your experiences with writing groups.

Kim: Thirteen years ago, I took a memoir class at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, and two of the women from the class asked five of us to join them in a writer's group. They were all published and polished, and I was new to memoir and creative nonfiction writing. Month in and month out we've given each other support, honest feedback and the gift of encouragement, and I cannot imagine my writing journey without them. When I moved to Rehoboth Beach two years ago, I joined the thriving Rehoboth Beach Writer's Guild, and the teachers and fellow students have helped me become a better writer. They encouraged me to submit my work, and I've been accepted in several online publications.

WOW: That’s so wonderful that you’ve had multiple positive and encouraging experiences with your writing groups. Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have most influenced you, and in what ways?

Kim: Anne Lamott, Nora Ephron, and Sloan Crosley taught me to tell stories that are honest and open. I've loved the NYT Modern Love column for years because most of the writers craft something complete and powerful with a challenging word count. Joan Didion taught me how to live with grief, and Wendell Berry challenged my assumptions about our natural world and community.

WOW: If you could tell your younger-writing-self anything, what would it be?

Kim: I would tell my younger self to protect her mornings and write more. I would tell her to stop saying yes to things of little importance. I would convince her to submit, submit, submit.

WOW: That is excellent advice! Anything else you’d like to add?

Kim: It is never too late to learn to be brave.

WOW: Thank you for sharing your writing with us and for your thoughtful responses!

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, and profiles of writers and competitive sportswomen.
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Stay Home and Read Author Giveaway Sign Up

Saturday, March 28, 2020
Authors, has your book event been canceled? So many people are impacted by the crisis happening around the world, and we would like to invite you to participate in our group author giveaway. It's called the Stay Home and Read Event! This is for all authors, no matter when your book was published or whether you had an event canceled or not. We'd love you all to join in!

Here are the details:
  • The giveaway starts April 13th and will last until May 3rd. Our ideal deadline for authors to sign up is March 31st, but if you sign up a few days after, that's still fine.
  • All authors participating in the giveaway will be included in an email newsletter about the giveaway sent to 49,000 subscribers and promoted on our social media accounts.
  • We will be hosting the giveaway via Rafflecopter. You can promote up to 3 social media accounts (which will be added as extra entry options). You can also add an email newsletter for readers to sign up for your newsletter.
  • There is a fee of $50 to participate. $10 of this fee will go directly to the grand prize giveaway of an Amazon Gift Card.
  • There will be 3 winners of the giveaway, so be prepared to send out at least three books to the winners.
  • The winners will be US only which will save you on shipping costs. You have the option to choose to send an e-book or print copy.

If you'd like to join in, sign up for the giveaway at this Google form here:

Any questions? Let me know in the comments! Happy reading!
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Friday Speak Out!: Ways to Land an Agent

Friday, March 27, 2020
by June Trop

You’ve crossed the finish line. Now, as an emerging author, you can benefit from the support of a traditional publisher. But don’t overlook getting an agent first.

Your chances of finding a publisher are significantly better if you have an agent. Although agents typically take from 10—15% of the author’s earnings for the book they represent, they know the marketplace and the editors publishing manuscripts like yours. Moreover, an editor at a publishing house will read your submission sooner if it’s represented by an agent rather than submitted “over the transom,” that is, submitted by the author as an unsolicited manuscript. Agents also have experience guiding an author’s career and clout negotiating the fine print in a contract, such as the advances, royalties, and author’s rights.

So how can you get an agent? There are several ways to search for one. Of course, knowing someone who knows someone is best. But another way is to search the internet for “literary agents.” You’ll find a directory of agents online. The number of agents is legion so make a list of only those interested in your genre, especially if they’re seeking new clients.

Another way is to go to bookstores. About once a month, my husband and I go out on a date to a bookstore in the mall. While he amuses himself looking at the magazines, I check out the authors with new books in my genre, historical mysteries. Often they identify their agent in the acknowledgment section of their books.

In any case, be sure to call each agency first to check that the agent is still with them—agents do move around—and then include with your query letter exactly what each requires such as a 100 or 200-word synopsis, an author bio, and some sample chapters. Agents and publishers want to make money. So in your letter, be sure to tout the commercial potential of your manuscript—in other words how it’s unique—and mention how yours is both similar to and different from a book they represent.

By all means approach publishers over the transom, but for every submission to a publisher, send one to an agent as well. As long as none of the agents or publishers insists on an exclusive submission, send out ten, five to an agent and five to a publisher, and then, upon each rejection, immediately submit your manuscript to the next agent or publisher on your list.

Yes, you will get rejections. No matter how good your work, you’ll likely be rejected many times. But remember each opinion is subjective. Someone else could love it. So, as an emerging author, while you search for a publisher, search for an agent as well. The support you gain may be well worth the money it costs.

* * *
June Trop is the author of the Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series set in first-century CE Roman-occupied Alexandria. Her books have been cited for excellence at the New York Book Festival, by Wiki Ezvid, the Historical Novel Society, and as a 5-star Readers’ Favorite. Kirkus praised The Deadliest Thief for its “vibrant imagery and an entertaining plot ending with a most unexpected twist.”

As an award-winning middle school science teacher, June used storytelling to capture her students’ imagination and interest in scientific concepts. Years later as a professor of teacher education, she focused her research on the practical knowledge teachers construct and communicate through storytelling.

June, an active member of the Mystery Writers of America, lives with her husband Paul Zuckerman in New Paltz, NY where she is breathlessly recording her plucky heroine's next life-or-death exploit.

Connect with June on her website or her Facebook page: June Trop Author.

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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Spray It, Don't Say It

Thursday, March 26, 2020
On the occasions when I'm so enthusiastic or my mouth is just so darned juicy that a bit of spittle sprays from my mouth towards whoever I'm talking to, I hope. I hope the slob droplets headed their way didn't reach them. Sometimes I even see where the spit landed--like on their sweater--and then I hope they didn't notice what happened.

Sometimes I imagine they're polite enough that they definitely did see exactly what happened, but they're too nice to embarrass me by reacting.

photo by Pixabay

If you read one of my posts on The Muffin, you know that I recently received a second rejection email. (I'm waiting to hear from a third publisher, one who also requested a full manuscript.) I expressed my discouragement. A few writer friends suggested I make a final push before going a route other than seeking a traditional publisher. One said to send my piece everywhere... to make March my month. To spray it everywhere.

Spray it everywhere. That idea really wedged into my brain. I couldn't get it unstuck.

So, instead of just saying I'm going to submit it to other places, I'm going to spray it. I'm going to send it so many places, it'll be like I had a fire hose in my hands, and my queries whooshed out with incredible force.

I began with I made a list, with five agents each day, and that website got me to March 18. 18 x 5 = 90. That means that so far, I'll be sending out 90 new submissions.

I'm changing each of my query letters to match who I'm sending them to. Rachelle Gardner, an agent, wrote a post about how to attract an agent. Cathryn Summerhayes, another agent, wrote a piece about what works and what are potential pitfalls when it comes to queries. Jane Friedman includes resources for writers looking for agents in her post.

I figure that 155 submissions, added to the query letters I sent out previously, proves I haven't given up. I'm willing to give one last-ditch effort before going a different publication route.

Screeeeeeeech. Then the coronavirus really hit the U.S.

The above was written about a month ago. I was not able to keep up the five-a-day query goal, but it looks like I have some time on my hands now to catch up. We've been told to stay at home, and I've been engaging in "distance teaching." The earliest I will report back to "normal" work is April 23...

So, in between my posting lessons online and answering repeated questions of "I did it and I submitted it, but it says I didn't. What do I do?" and grading their work, I have time to query. By the end of my social distancing journey, I will have racked up 155 queries.

(And reading over this, from a month ago, I realize with everyone wearing masks and covering when sneezing and washing our hands until the skin cracks, the thought of spittle spraying everywhere might make you shudder. But fear not. Lately, when I get overly excited, it's just me, the hubby and the dog. We're putting way more than 6 feet between us, so whatever spit is flying around, it's probably landing back on me... which is probably a good thing.)

If you're staying close to home, what are you doing to keep yourself entertained? What are you binge-watching? What are you reading? What are you writing? Querying-like-crazy minds want to know...

Sioux has worn the same pair of sweat pants for a couple days in a row (Ew!), she plowed through the last season of Ray Donovan, is looking forward to the airing of the last few episodes of Schitt's Creek and she just finished reading American Dirt. If you'd like to read more of shudder-worthy habits, check out her blog, Sioux's Page.

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Five Tips for Writing a Podcast Script

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Podcasting is all the rage, and it didn’t take me long to quickly become addicted to the medium. I’ve discussed my desire to create my own true crime podcast here before, and this past summer, I finally started putting a plan into place. Having found myself with extra time on my hands due to the current state of the world amid Covid-19, I’ve begun working on the podcast production in earnest.

While there are many different components to creating and producing a podcast, today I’m going to focus on the topic of scriptwriting. Here a few tips I’ve learned along the way about writing a podcast script.

Develop a format. I feel like formats are important for the main episodes of a podcast, so the listener always knows what to expect. This format can vary from time to time, such as with bonus episodes, but I find myself drawn to podcasts where I know what the introduction will include, especially if it has catchy music. But that may just be my personal preference.

My podcast is a true crime podcast about missing people, so I decided on a short introductory paragraph that briefly describes the case, followed by the intro, and then the overview of the case.

Write in sound effects and audio instructions. Because I want to add sound effects to break up the sound of my voice, I write in where I want certain types of sounds (dog barking, someone knocking on a door, a car crash, etc.) If I’m also going to use audio from another source, such as a TV news segment, I paste the hyperlink right into the script, along with how far in I want to pull the audio, so I can easily find it when going into the editing phase.

Create a call to action. This part has evolved as I’ve written a few different episodes, but right now I ask listeners to rate and subscribe to the podcast, visit my website, and check out the sponsor. I also provide a teaser sentence that lets everyone know where the next episode’s case will be from geographically.

Read the script out loud a few times before recording. I didn’t do this enough before I jumped the gun and started recording my first episode. I found myself stumbling over certain words and phrases and ended up revising the script as I paused the recording. If you read the script out loud first, chances are more likely that you’ll find those problem areas that need tweaking before production begins.

Compile any extra information in each episode’s document for show notes. Show notes can be included directly in the episode information when the podcast is uploaded to iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. This can include any of your sponsor offers or codes, products you might be launching, additional links to information about the episode, etc. My plan is to have a page on the podcast website with a running list of the episodes. On that page, I can paste the script directly from my notes for anyone who doesn’t like to listen to podcasts, and then have the audio link also included in the same post. Because I get information from a variety of news sources, I’ll include a reading list on that page for anyone who wants to take a deeper dive into the case. Plus, you never know what kinds of bonus content you can pull from just one script!

Have you ever written a podcast episode, or follow a podcast that has scripts you love? I’d love to know more!

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer, magazine editor, true crime addict and wannabe podcaster. Follow her at
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Interview with Jean Tomlinson: 2019 Fall Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Jean’s Bio:

Jean Tomlinson was a technical writer, editor and finally a senior editor for Fortune 500 companies before she decided to seek a change in direction by writing fiction.

She has been published in Money magazine and is currently working on a novel about the 1937 Mississippi River flood.

Jean lives in metro Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and daughter.

If you haven’t read it already, check out Jean’s story “The Red Velvet Dress.” Then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: I think you’ve hit on, if not a universal, something many of us have felt, the idea that we are going to do things differently if not better than our own mothers. What was your inspiration for “The Red Velvet Dress”?

Jean: Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this WOW! interview for The Muffin.

Most children at some point have an inner dialogue that starts with “When I grow up, I won’t do it like her.” Mom’s ways seem old, outdated, and irrelevant, but then you become a mom, and it becomes important to pass your beliefs and values on to your own child. I wanted to examine what happens if that child’s life becomes dramatically, wildly different from mom’s life. Do those values transcend the differences in lifestyle?

Also, although I live in Atlanta now, I grew up in Arkansas, one of the poorest states in the nation. I think it’s important to hear the voices of hard-working people who often struggle financially and the voices of their children, many of whom choose to leave for greater economic opportunity. Do those grown children keep their parents’ values? Or, are those values sacrificed in the quest for financial success? How do these grown children feel about their childhood?

WOW: Thank you so much for helping being these voices forward in this story! Like the dress itself, flash fiction often seems fairly straightforward, but there is often a depth to it that only becomes clear as you reach the end of the story. How did you develop this meaning in your story?

Jean: I wrote this story in layers. I began by writing the story arc, but I knew that an understanding of the characters would be critical for the story to work. The story of Karenina’s name set up the conflict with her mom and Mom’s values.
Then I layered in Pop’s tender narrative about how his wife made him feel important to give readers a different take on the “romantic life.” I added the Valentine’s Day scenario and the sisters as children re-enacting it, including wearing the red dress, to make the dress symbolic and set up the ending.

WOW: This is obviously something that requires conscious effort. You are also working on a novel. Which form, the novel or flash fiction, is more challenging for you as a writer and why?

Jean: That’s a difficult question. Despite its compact size, flash fiction still requires a hook, a character arc, fully drawn-out characters, and a clearly defined setting. It’s challenging to pack all of that into a very limited word count.

However, writing a novel involves keeping “all the balls in the air”—that is, the story line moving forward, the characters true to themselves, and the point of view consistent over many chapters, all without bogging down in the middle; that is certainly a challenge.

Switching between the two forms works best for me. When I get stuck in one, I can work on the other, and usually come back with a fresh perspective.

WOW: The benefits of moving from one to the other makes a lot of sense to me. Your biography says that you worked as an editor. How has your experience editing the work of others shaped your own writing?

Jean: I think—or at least hope—that my work as an editor has made me accepting of critiques. I always told my writers that my only goal as an editor was to make them sound better. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that, but it’s absolutely true, so writers, listen to your editors.

Also, I try to be conscious of the need for the “just right” word. For many years, I signed off my emails to writers with this abbreviated form of a Mark Twain quote: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and lightning.” Especially in flash fiction, where space is at a premium, the right word is everything. In “The Red Velvet Dress,” I think the story of the sisters’ names—Anna and Karenina—tells the reader more than five paragraphs of narrative could have.

WOW: You have definitely packed a lot into the small space of that story. You have such a variety of writing experience. What are your plans for the future?

Jean: I love reading stories and making up stories. My husband says I am the only person he knows who can watch someone cross the street at a red light and make up a whole backstory for that person by the time the light changes, There are clues to stories everywhere; you just have to train yourself to be alert to those clues. So, as you would expect, I have notebook pages, scraps of paper, and napkins with notes regarding phrases I’ve heard, conversations I’ve witnessed, and situations that sounded interesting. After I finish my novel, I want to go through that material and see what can be developed into stories, in either short or long form. Also, of course, I want to flesh out the stories of some of those traffic light characters.

WOW: Hopefully we will get to meet some of these red light characters in future stories. Thank you for sharing your writing and your experience with our readers and, most of all, happy writing!

Interviewed by Sue Bradford Edwards
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Seduced Into Darkness by Carrie T. Ishee Blog Tour, Interview, and Giveaway

Monday, March 23, 2020
Seduced Into Darkness: Transcending My Psychiatrist’s Sexual Abuse is a vivid and captivating story of hope for survivors of abuse as well as a case study in a skilled manipulator’s tragic exploitation of his professional power.

This poignant memoir chronicles the traumatic psychological abduction and sexual exploitation of depressed college student Carrie Tansey at the hands of her psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony Romano―thirty-one years her senior. For three years, their secret “affair” was carefully calculated and controlled by Romano, as Carrie’s mental and emotional health continued to deteriorate, bringing her closer and closer to the edge.

Their dual-relationship―clinical and clandestine―finally came to light when Carrie’s suicide attempts landed her in a world-renowned psychiatric hospital. Gradually, she began to reclaim her power, reported Romano to the state licensing board, successfully sued him for malpractice, and testified before the state legislature to help pass a law aimed at curbing such abuses.

As Carrie tells her tale, it is a journey paralleling that of the mythical archetype Persephone, the naive innocent who was abducted into darkness, reemerged and regenerated herself, then fearlessly returned to the prison she had fled, this time to help free others. Today, Carrie Ishee is a widely respected art therapist and life coach as well as a teacher specializing in the issues of ethics and boundaries for mental health professionals.

Print Length: 286 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Terra Nova Books
ISBN-10: 1948749483
ISBN-13: 9781948749480

Seduced Into Darkness is now available to purchase at, Barnes and NobleThrift Books, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest

To win a copy of the book Seduced Into Darknesss by Carrie T. Ishee, please enter using Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on March 29th at 11:59 PM EST. We will announce the winner the next day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author, Carrie T. Ishee

Carrie Ishee has been a student of healing, human potential, and consciousness for more than 35 years. Her quest to know herself began in college when a severe health crisis compounded by her psychiatrist’s seduction and sexual abuse shattered her physically, emotionally, and spiritually. After doctoral studies in clinical psychology, she worked as a behavioral therapist, pursued a master’s degree in art therapy, and later completed a two-year training program in life coaching. Her work today is focused on helping victims such as she once was break free from the suffocating shroud of trauma.

Visit her website at Follow her on FacebookInstagram, and GoodReads.

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on your book Seduced Into Darkness. What led you to write your memoir?

Carrie: When I was healing from the soul shattering trauma of sexual exploitation by my therapist, I was hungry for first person narratives of people who had made it through darkness. Since it was hard for me to trust other mental health professionals and people in general, I relied on reading books to support my journey. The first book that inspired me was Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, which documented his journey from Holocaust survivor to pioneer theorist who articulated “logotherapy” – the therapy of meaning. I figured that if he could get through one of the most horrible chapters in the history of mankind, I could get through my own personal holocaust. The intention to make meaning of my traumatic experience set me on the path to embrace the arts, access my own authentic voice, and share my journey with the world.

When sitting in the cafeteria of the psychiatric hospital where I had spent 6 months recovering my will to live, I watched my fellow peers in the Underworld getting their breakfast and going about their day. It was then that I knew I would write about my own experience one day, and give voice to the trauma that lies under many mental health struggles. I want to open the door for other trauma survivors to come out of darkness, to shed the shroud of shame and self–loathing, and come into the light of healing, self-love, and connection. I also want to have more conscious conversations around mental health to reduce the stigma associated with psychiatric symptoms, which are often signs of unhealed trauma. It’s an exciting time on the planet! Trauma treatments are more effective than ever and people don’t need to merely survive, they can thrive and expand in consciousness after life’s most difficult moments.

"I want to have more conscious conversations around mental health to reduce the stigma associated with psychiatric symptoms, which are often signs of unhealed trauma."

WOW: What a powerful realization! How did you get started with writing this memoir?

Carrie: One night, almost a decade ago, I took a walk under a star-covered New Mexican sky, and heard a voice within me say “now is the time.” The call was so palpable, I became curious what an astrologer might say about my urgency. I immediately hired an evolutionary astrologer who sat with me to look at my birth chart. I told him, “I feel an urgency to write my story of trauma and healing.” He looked at my chart, then looked at me and declared, “Yours is the story of Persephone.” At that moment, it seemed the air crackled around us and I knew I had landed upon the ancient myth that illuminated my own story. His declaration that I was supported by the stars lit a fire under me as I pounded out the rough draft in 4 months, often writing for 6 hours a day. I experienced a sense of wonder and inspiration thinking that perhaps my life was indeed connected to a larger picture and the myth of Persephone, Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld, perfectly paralleled my experience of being psychologically abducted, sexually violated, and held captive in the Underworld. I also resonated with the gift of renewal that I brought back from the Underworld as I healed my trauma. As an art therapist and life coach, I now guide lost souls as they navigate underworld journeys.

WOW: I think that's fantastic. You describe how this book parallels the mythical archetype of Persephone. Can you tell us why that is?

Carrie: After first being exposed to the myth of Persephone, Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld, from an evolutionary astrologer, I became fascinated with how my story paralleled this archetypal story. Persephone begins as the innocent maiden, unconscious, naïve, and trusting who is abducted by Hades, God of the Underworld. She is raped and held captive in his underworld realm. There she is lost to all she knew before, but slowly begins to grow eyes in the dark. She is rescued by her parents, and as she resurfaces above ground, the earth blooms again with the renewal of springtime. Before she leaves the Underworld, however, Hades tricks her by giving her a taste of a pomegranate that binds her to spend time each year, again as his Queen. I believe this myth illustrates that after we experience soul shattering trauma, we are forever changed and at times are pulled back into the underworld. With time however, we can become travelers in both realms, above and below, and can become guides for lost souls as they take their own journeys through darkness.

In the end, Persephone serves a dual role as Goddess of Spring, and Queen of the Underworld, a woman of wisdom of both light and dark. My journey has enriched my life by allowing me to no longer be afraid of the dark. In fact, I can now hold a lantern of awareness and hope for others as they navigate trauma and loss. The archetype of Persephone portends the opportunity for renewal and rebirth that awaits us as we embrace our own hero’s journey.

"I pounded out the rough draft in 4 months, often writing for 6 hours a day. I experienced a sense of wonder and inspiration thinking that perhaps my life was indeed connected to a larger picture and the myth of Persephone."

WOW: I love that! So, in your epilogue, you talk about how healing must be holistic, including mind, body, and soul. Why is it so important for all three to be present to experience healing?

Carrie: It has only been in the last few decades that psychological treatment modalities have included the somatic experience of the body as part of the journey towards healing. For too long, people have been given anti-anxiety and pain medications to quell symptoms that, if embraced and explored could lead people to a deeper wisdom. The medical model often directs people to seek outside solutions for sickness rather than take the deep journeys that await them when sickness calls for more life balance and self-care.

In my case, I had been on tetracycline for four years for adolescent acne starting at age 17. At the time, I did not know that this medicine was disrupting my internal balance and doing more harm than good. It was not until I began suffering from chronic sinus infections and fatigue, followed by the psychiatric symptoms of panic and depression, that my gut issues started to run the show. Sadly, the blood work at the time did not test for chronic candida – a yeast that had overtaken my body from the onslaught of antibiotics, and the course of treatment for me became purely psychiatric. As I became sicker and sicker, I was easy to manipulate and my doctor dominated me with his interpretations, his wants, his needs.

It was not until many years later, after enduring nearly 7 years of physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms, that a holistic physician got to the original root of the problem. From there it took me many more years to get my full health back, but by this time I also had PTSD from the dark and twisted journey I took with my therapist.

We are one organism, our bodies, minds, and spirits all connected. Anytime we have a symptom, ideally, it is viewed in terms of what is going on emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Very often our illnesses can be iatrogenic – or medically induced – opiate addictions from prescription meds being one example of this imbalance.

Often with illness it is our soul’s call letting us know if we are off course from our life purpose and the wisdom of our hearts. If we are too easily medicated and sent back to work we may miss the subtle calls of the soul that could prevent a later, more catastrophic, wake up from occurring.

"Living in a patriarchal world, most of us have been trained to give power away to the males in our lives ... my story speaks to the power of accessing body wisdom for healing and empowerment. As women gain their authentic power, men are challenged to take a deeper journey within to find their own vulnerability ..."

WOW: That's so incredibly interesting and thought-provoking. Who do you think should read this book and what do you hope they gain from reading it?

Carrie: First, of all, I think my memoir is a book for all women. Living in a patriarchal world, most of us have been trained to give power away to the males in our lives. Many of us have experienced abusive relationships making us doubt ourselves, deny the reality of what was happening, or justify the mistreatment out of fear of hurting the other. Many of us have experienced assaults to our body image and our sexuality, and my story speaks to the power of accessing body wisdom for healing and empowerment. If women can begin to claim their body wisdom and live from the inside out rather than based on what others think of us and our bodies, the world will be a much more balanced, compassionate, and joyful place. As women gain their authentic power, men are challenged to take a deeper journey within to find their own vulnerability, their own feelings, their own divine selves.

I believe my book will inspire people to never give up on themselves and motivate people to take the hero’s journey back to self. It also illustrates the power of creating from within to access inner wisdom and resources.

My book will also serve as an instructive and inspirational text in ethics classes for mental health and other health professionals about the dangers of the “slippery slope” and the need for boundaries, self-care, and balanced lives. I hope it challenges mental health professionals to forever be on a journey of personal development, healing, and awareness. The medical model has set up a paradigm where the doctor is the authority, but all true healing comes when one embraces one’s own inner authority, one’s own light. I hope to inspire doctors of all kinds to delve deeper within themselves so they are strong enough to empower their clients to take the inner journeys of healing, not just rely on superficial, symptom suppressing solutions such as medication. A true healer allows for others to claim their own wisdom, perspective, and insight for the journey, not just tell people what to do. If doctors could become healers and embrace their own health, then the transformation of consciousness would expand exponentially and our culture could be stronger, deeper, and more compassionate.

WOW: Thank you so much Carrie and best of luck to you on your book and the blog tour!

-- Blog Tour Dates

March 23rd @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Stop by the Women on Writing blog The Muffin as well celebrate the launch of the Seduced Into Darkness blog tour. Read an interview with author Carrie T. Ishee and enter to win a copy of the book.

March 25th @ The New England Book Critic
Visit Victoria over at The New England Book Critic and read her review of Carrie T. Ishee's powerful book Seduced Into Darkness.

March 25th @ Choices
Visit Madeline's blog today and read a poignant guest post by author Carrie T. Ishee. She talks about the signs of a healthy relationship versus a toxic relationship and how to set boundaries to see if a person is safe for you.

March 27th @ Writings and Reviewings
Visit Judith's blog today where you can read her review of Carrie T. Ishee's book Seduced Into Darkness.

March 30th @ Dog-Eared Days of Summer
Stop by Courtney's blog and you can read her review of Carrie T. Ishee's book Seduced Into Darkness.

April 2nd @ Coffee with Lacey
Grab your coffee and join Lacey as she reviews Carrie T. Ishee's book Seduced Into Darkness.

April 6th @ Writing Through Life
Visit Amber's blog today and you can read author Carrie T. Ishee's guest post. She talks about women's intuition and paying attention to cues that arise from within. You can also enter to win a copy of the book Seduced Into Darkness.

April 11th @ Bookworm Blog
Visit Anjanette's blog today and read her review of Carrie T. Ishee's book Seduced Into Darkness.

April 13th @ World Of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog today and read Carrie T. Ishee's guest post talks about the power of art as medicine.

April 15th @ A Storybook World
Stop by Dierdra's blog and read author Carrie T. Ishee's guest post about the personal growth and transformation that happens as a result of trauma. A powerful post you don't want to miss!

April 17th @ Lukten Av Trykksverte Blog
Make sure you stop by this bilingual blog and read Kristin's review of Carrie T. Ishee's book Seduced Into Darkness.

April 18th @ Books, Beans and Botany
Visit Ashley's blog today and read her review of Carrie T. Ishee's book Seduced Into Darkness.

April 20th @ Teatime and Books
Visit Janet's blog today and read Carrie T. Ishee's guest post about the journey of healing and how creating art helps this process.

April 22nd @ My Bookish Banner
Make sure you stop by Aayushi's blog today and read her review of Carrie T. Ishee's book Seduced Into Darkness.

April 24th @ Angie Mangino Looks at Books
Stop by Angie's blog today and you can read her review of Carrie T. Ishee's book Seduced Into Darkness.

April 25th @ Teatime and Books
Visit Janet's blog today and you can read her review of Carrie T. Ishee's book Seduced Into Darkness.

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

To win a copy of the book Seduced Into Darknesss by Carrie T. Ishee, please enter using Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends on March 29th at 11:59 PM EST. We will announce the winner the next day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Writing About Immigration and Belonging: Magda Bartkowska, Creative NonFiction Runner-Up

Sunday, March 22, 2020
I'm very excited about this interview below with Magda Bartkowska. She writes about her childhood coming from Poland to America, and the difficulties of navigating BOTH places. In her essay, "Returning," and in this interview below, she brings out points that only an immigrant with her experiences could make us think about. However, we can all relate in some way to her themes about belonging and family. Check out Magda's bio and interview below and her runner-up essay, "Returning," here.

Magda is a Polish-American writer who was born in Gdańsk and immigrated to the United States at the age of seven. Although she’s been writing since childhood, professionally she is a teacher. For five years she taught third grade and absolutely loved it, but left in order to be a stay-at-home mom. Magda also taught an ESL course for adults and loved that as well—especially being an immigrant herself.

Home for Magda is western Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband and their three rambunctious boys. She is currently working on a memoir about the search for connection and belonging as an immigrant caught between two worlds—that is, when she’s not breaking up sibling arguments or trying to get through the enormous pile of TBR books she has on her shelf. Magda’s first published essay, titled “On the Wrong Side of the Ocean,” appears in the October 2019 issue of The Tishman Review. To see more of her work and follow her on social media, please visit

WOW: Congratulations, Magda, in placing in the top ten of our Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest with your essay, "Returning." "Returning" is an essay about when you were an adolescent and returned to Poland after immigrating to the U.S. four years earlier. What made you want to write about this time in your life?

Magda: Thank you so much! You know, the topic of my immigration is one I've been writing about since grade school, and I'm compelled to keep returning to it because it's defined my life; it's made me who I am. That first trip back to Poland was an especially pivotal moment for me. Even though I spoke perfect English by then, I still couldn't help feeling out of place in the U.S. I hadn't had an American childhood like my friends, and so even the simple fact that I'd never watched Sesame Street or read Dr. Seuss books in preschool made me feel like I wasn't a part of American culture in the same way that they were. This is why I was so excited to return to Poland. I didn't think I'd have to worry about being an outsider there. Unfortunately, at that point I already had an American accent when speaking Polish, and so this set me apart as an outsider in the country of my birth as well.

WOW: How difficult. And I don't think that is something we think about much if we haven't had the experience--being an outsider in your birth country. One thing that is very apparent about this essay is the specific details you used to set the time and place. Plus the details really exemplify the differences between living in Poland and living in the U.S., such as mentions of  "The Baby-Sitters Club" or Paula Abdul or hot dogs. You really show us the differences as opposed to telling us. What made you write the essay in this way?

Magda: I love coming across details like that when I read books because it makes me feel this ping of connection to the writer, and it makes the setting feel more real to me. When I was writing this essay, including such details was also a way to show how much my cultural knowledge had shifted during the four years I'd lived in the U.S. I knew American sitcoms and singers and authors, but I had no idea what my peers on the other side of the ocean were into. Despite feeling out of place here, I had inevitably become Americanized.

WOW: Your answer reminds me of how important it is to read other writers and learn from them! What themes are you exploring in your essay?

Magda: I explore themes of cultural identity, and what it means to grow up in that in-between space of two cultures. Where is home when you don't quite belong to either place?

WOW: Yes, those themes deinitely come out in your writing. Let's switch gears a bit to talk about some of the info in your bio! It's clear that you are very busy and juggling motherhood and writing. How do you fit the writing in to your life? Any tips you can share with other busy mama writers?

Magda: It's definitely a constant struggle to try to fit the writing in! It doesn't always happen every day, and often I feel frustrated because I wish I did have more time to write. Sometimes I write when my youngest is napping. Sometimes my husband will take all the kids to the library on Saturday morning, and I'll stay home to write. I try to write in the evenings sometimes; but usually, I'm too fried after the whole day! Probably the best thing I did for my writing life was last summer, when I set aside four hours every day during the week to write. I hired a babysitter for one of the days, and I'm lucky enough to have my parents close by, so they helped with childcare, as well. My advice for other busy mama writers would be to allow yourself to make writing a priority. Make space for it in your life. Set aside specific times to write and then show up, even if all you end up writing that day is garbage.

WOW: Great advice. Thank you! You recently had your first published essay, titled “On the Wrong Side of the Ocean,” in the October 2019 issue of The Tishman Review. Tell us a little about this essay and how that felt to see your first publication!

Magda: Oh, it felt absolutely amazing! I've been dreaming about publishing my writing since I was a kid, so I was beyond thrilled when I found out that the essay had been accepted. In fact, I was sitting in a coffee shop when I got the acceptance email from The Tishman Review, and it was all I could do to stop myself from jumping up and down and hugging strangers!

The essay is about breaking my mother's heart when I told her, five years after we immigrated to the U.S., that I wanted to move back to Poland. I was obsessed with the idea at the time. And in my self-centered teenage way, I did not take into account how my parents would feel, having given up so much and having struggled to create a better life, only to have me say, "No thanks, I don't want it."

WOW: What an interesting angle you took. I would be interested to read that essay. And it's clear that being an immigrant and finding belonging somewhere is important to you. Thank you, Magda, for your time today. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Magda: Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my thoughts with readers! I'd like to add that both of my published essays are adapted from my immigration memoir, No More Red Geraniums, which is currently undergoing yet another round of revisions. If anyone is interested in receiving updates about this book's journey out into the world, they can sign up for my newsletter at
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In This Time Of Change, We are Here and Want to Celebrate Your Success

Saturday, March 21, 2020
At this time when things feel so uncertain, give yourself grace. It's the best gift you can give to yourself. Don't compare what you are doing to someone else. Trust me, I have to remind myself of this every day when I see some of the amazing things that some moms are doing at home. Or when I hear that a writer is still managing to meet their word count or publishing their books. My friend posted this meme "It's okay" on my Facebook wall this week.

Here's the thing: not only are some of us scared and possibly sick, plus isolated, we are also undergoing all kinds of change--change for us, for our partners, for our children, for our coworkers, for our friends and family. Everyone is under change. And what's that saying?

Change is hard.

Our routines are changed. Maybe you're used to writing at your local coffee shop, and now have to stay at home where it's noisy and chaotic. Maybe you're used to writing once your kids go to school, only now you are home with them all day, every day. Maybe you and your partner share an office, and now are both home at the same time, trying to use it. Whatever the change is big or small, it takes time to get used to it.

So please, allow yourself some time to breathe. If you can write on your typical schedule, that's awesome! Keep it up. If instead right now, it's easier for you to read--that's a way to work on your writing--you're reading in your genre. Even if you're on Facebook, discussing writing with some other writers, that's networking! Look at the positive things you're doing, and do not beat yourself up for the things you aren't able to manage to do right now. It's okay.

Breathe deeply.

We're still in full swing at WOW! if you want to join us. Currently, Angela and I are working on the query letters we received by March 15 and are narrowing down our decisions this weekend. So some of you will have contracts for articles! We have classes starting in our WOW! classroom. We still need Friday Speak Out bloggers--need a platform? Need a place to express your feelings right now? Check out any Friday post and then write your own.

We have contests to enter and judging to do. In the summer and fall, we'll be taking more queries--start brainstorming now. We are a paying market! Next time  I blog, I'm planning to talk about querying us and provide some tips; but if you want to start preparing now, I did a podcast interview with Shelly X. Leonn and LL Montez at The Writers XL podcast. I talk a lot about writing and editing in this interview; but if you're specifically interested in how to write for WOW!, then start listening around the 17-minute mark by clicking here or download the podcast episode where you typically listen to podcasts.

And finally, we need your SUCCESS STORIES! 

In a couple weeks, you'll be getting a  really cool newsletter in your inbox from us (sign up here at the top of the toolbar, if you aren't on our newsletter list yet), and we would love to put your success stories in there, too. Since the beginning of 2020, who has something to celebrate in your writing life? We want to hear about contest wins, publications, goals met, blogs started, new jobs, and more. Please try to keep it under 100 words. Also, include a link if it's something that is online. We really do want any success stories, including things like: "Under self-isolation, I managed to meet my word count each day."

Let us know! Motivate your fellow writers and celebrate. You can email these to Margo at margo (at) or write them in the comments below. (If Margo does not reply, try margolynndill@gmail (dot) com.)

Take care of yourselves, wonderful writing community.

Margo L. Dill is the managing editor at WOW! Women On Writing. Her next classes are Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction: A Study and Workshop  , starting on March 31 and WRITING A NOVEL WITH A WRITING COACH: One-on-One Instruction , starting April 3. Find out more about her writing and editing at

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6 Resources for Writers During the Era of Social Distancing

Thursday, March 19, 2020
From the Smithsonian
There's no doubt about it.  We are writers living in "interesting" times.  I'm almost ashamed to admit that when my first activity was cancelled last week, I did a little dance.  

Not that social distancing is working out as expected.  So far it means that my extroverts are clingy and crabby because they don't get to go anywhere. Me? I’m wondering where the social distance is.  It doesn’t help that I’ve got a huge Friday deadline.

But we might as well take advantage of being stuck at home.  If you are reading this, I’m going to assume that you’ve got online access. 

Free Books on Social Justice  
For the next two weeks, ten Haymarket e-books are available for free.  If you are interested in social justice, the books range from Ecosocialism by Michael Lowy to Disposable Domestics by Grace Chang.  You can see the whole list here.   

Classic Titles
Prefer a classic like Chaucer or Chekov or Chomsky?  Check out this list of 800 free ebooks at Open Culture. 

12 Museums with Virtual Tours.  Travel and Leisure has a post about video museum tours online.  Possibilities include the Guggenheim in NYC, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Florence’s Uffizi Gallery.  Check out the full list here.  

Even More Museums.
MCN or the Museum Computer Network has a fantastic list of online resources.  Me? I’m looking forward to poking through the virtual Smithsonian and NASA.

MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) Learning. 
If you want to take a writing class, look here on WOW.  But if you want to learn about International Women’s Health and Human Rights, Understanding the Brain, or Science and Cooking, check out this 54 course list at Business Insider.  

More MOOCs.
Coursera is my go-to location for MOOCs.  I’ve taken classes on Egyptology, Ancient Rome, Astrobiology and evolution.  Check out the full list here.  

Critter Cams.
Maybe you don’t want to think that hard and you just want to gaze a pandas or whales. Travel and Leisure comes through once again with a post on zoos with live camera feeds. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to meet this deadline.  I found a class I have to take and there are museums and books and animals that need my attention.

Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 25 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins  May 4th, 2020. 

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Bloggers: Sign Up for the Save the Cat! Blog Tour

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Although lately, I have been working on short stories, I have attempted writing a novel a couple of times in my life. These attempts have shown me that having a direction and a plan (even if you are a pantser) is extremely important to your success in completing your book! I have heard so much buzz in writing circles about Save the Cat! Writes a Novel and how it's an absolute must-have for writers.

If you haven't heard of it, Save the Cat! provides writers the resources they need to develop their screenplays and novels based on a series of best-selling books, primarily written by Blake Snyder (1957- 2009). Blake’s method is based on 10 distinctive genres and his 15 story beats (the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet). Our books, workshops, story structure software, apps, and story coaching teach you everything you need to unlock the fundamentals and mechanics of plot and character transformation.

I am so excited to announce that starting April 27th through May 31st, Save the Cat is going on a blog tour! Tour participants have the chance to review either the Save the Cat Writes the Novel book (US Only) or their Save the Cat Structure Software (you will receive a one-year subscription).

This tour is perfect for anyone writing a story – no matter if for the page, stage or the small and silver screen - novice or pro – as long as the person wants to turn an idea into a well thought out story. Sound interesting? Sign up via this Google form for your chance to participate.

About the Book Save the Cat! Writes the Novel

An Amazon #1 best seller with over 500 reviews, Save the Cat Writes a Novel is the first novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! story-structure series, reveals the 15 essential plot points needed to make any novel a success.

In this revolutionary novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! series, novelist Jessica Brody demystifies each beat, making it simple to learn the complexities of storytelling. The best-seller also reveals the ten universal story genres to help you drill down into what makes your type of story work. Featuring sample “beat sheets” for hits from the likes of J. K. Rowling, Khaled Hosseini, and Stephen King, this practical guide also includes real-world advice on pitching your novel, plus the quirky, original insights (like the eponymous tip to “Save the Cat”) that make this series unique. By the end of this book, your own imaginative beats will combine to create a story that thrills readers from start to finish.

Only print copies are available to review - US only.

About Save the Cat! Structure Software

Save the Cat! Story Structure Software is adapted from the Save the Cat! methodology to help screenwriters and novelists unlock the fundamentals of plot and character transformation. The Story Structure Software is a virtual writer board with digital index cards to help map out your story against the 15 beats or plot points to your story. The software enables writers to track emotional shifts of characters from scene to scene, develop profiles and edit and version your story with ease.

Tour participants will receive a 12-month subscription to the software.

Praise for Save the Cat!

“Save the Cat! is a must-read for both the novice and the professional screenwriter.” — Todd Black, Producer: Fences, The Magnificent Seven, Hope Springs, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, The Pursuit of Happyness, Antwone Fisher

“Want to know how to be a successful writer in Hollywood? The answers are here.”— David Hoberman, Producer: Wonder, Beauty and the Beast (2017), The Muppets, The Fighter, Walking Tall, Monk(TV)

I use what I learned from STC! in all the middle grade novels I write…and one, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, even became a movie on Nickelodeon last fall!” — Chris Grabenstein, #1 New York Times best-selling author

Sound interesting? Sign up via this Google form for your chance to participate.

In the meantime, make sure you visit the Save the Cat! website for more information and sign up for their newsletter.
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Interview with Anastasia Kirchoff: 2019 Fall Flash Fiction Contest Third Place Winner

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Anastasia’s Bio:

If you want to say hi to Anastasia, you may find her meandering the skyways of downtown Minneapolis to avoid going out in the snow. When she isn’t reading, she likes to daydream or craft plant based recipes. She is currently writing an urban fantasy novel, but often procrastinates by writing flash fiction.

In 2019, she took third in a flash fiction contest put on by Brilliant Flash Fiction. Her stories have appeared in, or are forthcoming from, Thunderbird Studios, Psychopomp Magazine, Bending Genres, The Molotov Cocktail, and Ink In Thirds. You can also find her work at

If you haven't done so already, check out Anastasia's award-winning story "High Heels" and then return here for a chat with the author.

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

Anastasia: I originally wrote this as a one-hundred-word response to a photo prompt I found online. It’s exciting coming back to a story weeks later and finding you want to continue it. This is the way I write a lot of flash. I’ll jot down some thoughts or respond to a prompt, and then I’ll let the story sit and brew for a while. Coming back and expanding it later is my favorite part.

WOW: It’s so fascinating to hear how writers work, so thank you for giving us a glimpse into your writing process. What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece?

Anastasia: Every time I finish a story it helps me feel like I can finish others. I sometimes have a short attention span, and flash fiction helps me take a story through the whole process. It makes hitting that submit button less scary because I’ve done it before.

WOW: Are you willing to tell us more about your novel-in-progress? Does your flash fiction ever inform or inspire your longer-form writing?

Anastasia: Writing flash definitely helps my longer form process. It gives me a way continue writing when I get stuck on my bigger projects. Often times the inspiration I get from writing shorter pieces will lead me back to my longer projects.

The backdrop of my novel features this long-brewing power struggle between witches who have organized into a government called the Mother Coven, and The Wheelers: individuals with power who grew up isolated.

There’re multiple points of view:

  • Dennis, a successful businessman who knows nothing of the paranormal when he contracts a thief to finish a unique collection his ex-wife started.
  • Trick, the motorcycle jacket clad thief of mysterious origins and strange electrical powers who seems to be fleeing a strange darkness that peruses him between worlds.
  • Tabby, a magical prodigy and daughter of the current leader of the Mother Coven who believes her parents are lying about what happened to her adopted brother, and takes off on her own to find him.
  • Mikah, Tabby’s adopted brother, a painter plagued by strange visions who feels he doesn’t belong in the Mother Coven or with the Wheelers.

WOW: Excellent! Thanks so much for sharing this with us, and have fun with the process! What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Anastasia: I’m currently reading The Dead Girl’s Club by Damien Angelica Walters. I’ve recently become a fan of thriller mysteries written by women and featuring complex, emotionally damaged female characters. There’s something really unsettling about the story so far and I’m really enjoying it.

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

Anastasia: When I was younger, I read of lot of books, but I didn’t really write much. When I started writing in high school, I mostly wrote role playing stories with friends of mine. I’d get frustrated when the other participants would stop writing their parts and the stories would fizzle out. I felt like I needed others to participate in my writing process. So, I guess I would tell myself that it’s ok to finish those stories on your own. In fact, start writing your own stories!

WOW: Yes! Nice progression into the writing life, which can be collaborative or individual. Anything else you’d like to add?

Anastasia: If you’re reading this and you haven’t submitted to any flash fiction contests yet, you should definitely try it! It’s a lot of fun and it can only help strengthen your writing process.

WOW: Thank you again for sharing your story 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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