Meet Caroline Tanner - Runner Up in the 2020 Quarter 2 Creative Non-Fiction Essay Contest with "Talk About the Curse"

Sunday, May 31, 2020
Congratulations to Caroline Tanner and Talk About the Curse and all the winners of our 2020 Quarter 2 Creative Non-Fiction Essay Contest!

Caroline's Bio:

Caroline Tanner grew up in England and has lived and traveled all over the world. As a public health expert, she worked in remote and dangerous places managing large-scale epidemics and community heath programs.

After a sudden severe illness three years ago, she was forced to slow down her manic life. She healed by walking in her local woods and practicing yoga. She now teaches yoga for trauma.

She has always been a voracious reader and loves to write. Until recently her writing was mainly technical and academic. She likes to spin a yarn, but was put off the idea of creative writing by the memory of an English teacher telling her she should stick to science as she “lacked imagination.”

She now finds great freedom in letting her thoughts flow uninhibited. She writes by instinct on any subject that comes to mind. She likes shorts because of the discipline of limiting the word length of a piece. She is naturally drawn to writing about the extremes of human nature and the life experience; pain, suffering, and loss juxtaposed with kindness, joy, and humor. She hopes many women will draw inspiration from and find resonance with her writing. She aims to be insightful, witty and wise! Look out for her forthcoming pieces on the current pandemic affecting us all.

The writing bug now unleashed, she plans to do much more of it. She has vague intentions of writing a collection of pieces and a memoir, but she doesn’t plan, and perhaps a novel will emerge.

Interviews and stories of her life and work in emergency aid have appeared in the Daily Mail, The Observer, The Guardian, and on BBC Radio 4, NPR, CBS, and in an ITN TV film.

Caroline’s piece “Wicked” won an honorable mention in Women on Writing’s Winter 2019 Creative Non-Fiction Contest.

Caroline has a grown-up daughter and a teenage step-son. She lives with her husband in a small house on the edge of hill overlooking the National Zoo in Washington DC. She writes to the sound of the lions roaring.

If you haven't done so already, check out Caroline's insightful story Talk About the Curse and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations Caroline! Thank you for writing this essay - what is the take-away you'd like readers to gain from Talk About the Curse?

Caroline: The subject matter I write about usually chooses me rather than me choosing it! I was chatting with a group of women friends one evening, and we were telling stories about our periods. I recalled my own experience in vivid detail. I took pen to paper and started to write it.

The subject of periods is something that all women have in common. As women, we all have our stories to tell about our experience. I wanted to bring that out. It is somewhat depressing that attitudes and beliefs about periods have changed so little in much of the world. Period shaming continues, girls can’t go to school safely and lack access to even the most basic of supplies. In our own society, our male leaders (you know who I mean) still make the period a subject of jest. Women can be put down, shut up, cast out because they bleed. It is a classic example of the latent fear men have of women and the pervasive misogyny that still exists

In any subject that is difficult and sensitive, I like to find the funny side. Those that can find humor in pain are the most resilient. Laughter is good medicine. There is a time to laugh, a time to cry, and a time to speak out.

I hope women of all ages will relate to this essay and feel inspired to tell their own stories. There is a poignant message to women and girls in this piece about the importance of knowing and owning our own bodies. This starts at a young age by calling things by their biological names. Say Vagina! It wasn’t until I read Our Bodies Ourselves at 17, that I understood I had more than one opening. It is hard to speak up about menstruation in a culture of silence. But we must. Women are creative and resourceful. We have a responsibility to support each other and help each other live our most vital lives.

WOW: I really appreciate what you said about finding humor in the pain - thank you for sharing that great perspective! 

Where do you write? What does your space look like?

Caroline: I like this question! Easy answer. I never sit at a desk. I write with my laptop on my knee. I write in coffee shops and sometimes at home. After a painful renovation, my home space is now a place of light and calm. When the weather is good, I write on my deck, which overlooks the National Zoo and listen to the Lion roaring.

I am not an organized writer. In fact, I would not even call myself a writer. I am just getting my head around that one! My husband is very tolerant of my writing because when I get into it, I get lost. I may not change out of pajamas or do any washing or cleaning. I am focused and single-minded. Time stands still. A piece may emerge quickly, or it can take longer and require several phases of re-writing and editing. I wrote one short piece of fiction in just three hours. That one came to me in the middle of the night.

WOW: Oh yes - middle of the night, standing in the shower, I feel never know when you'll be bitten by the creative bug (and what may have to get put on the back burner)!

Do you often enter contests or is this a first? What would you like to tell other authors concerning contests?

Caroline: I am relatively new to creative writing. I love to write, but other than letters and journals, my writing has been mostly technical. After a severe viral illness three years ago, I slowed down my manic life and found for time to write. I enjoy the freedom of creative writing, allowing my thoughts and memories to flow. I am used to writing to deadlines with prescribed word lengths, so I initially entered the WOW contest because it helped me to have a goal and a word limit. WOW provides a uniquely supportive community of female writers and readers. I find the critiques from the judges and editors incredibly useful and insightful. I don’t have much interest in writing groups as I enjoy the freedom of writing on any subject that comes to mind. I don’t want to be forced to write to a prompt. The feedback from the WOW community has been very encouraging. Placing in the top ten has given me the impetus to continue to write. I have focused mainly on creative non-fiction, but I am now dabbling with flash fiction and prose poetry. As far as my advice to others, I would say for both new and seasoned writers, entering contests and, more specifically, the WOW contest with a is a great idea. Keep going with it if, at first, you don’t succeed, don’t be put off. Rewrite and edit and go at it again! In addition to entering contests, I will likely look for outlets to publish. I plan to write a memoir as a collection of pieces.

WOW: You certainly have a gift - so I'm happy to hear there's future plans that include more writing!
Readers are sure to delight in your memoir. And speaking of reading - what you YOU reading at this time?

Caroline: I am reading two works that seem fitting for the current time we find ourselves in.
Mark Nepo: The Book of Awakening.
Mark Nepo always has the most perfect words for any situation. His work was recommended to me by a writer friend. This extract from The Book of Awakening is particularly poignant to our current situation. “This is the trick to staying well isn’t it: to feel the sun even in the dark. To not lose the truth of things when they go out of view. To grow just the same. To know there is still water even when we are thirsty. To know there is still love even when we are lonely. To know there is still peace, even when we are suffering. None of this invalidates our pain, but only strengthens our way back into the light.”

Albert Camus: The Plague.
I first read this novel aged 19. I found a dusty copy high up at the back of my bookshelf. The Plague by Camus is a reflection on the human condition. It reminds us that we are all susceptible to sudden death, whether by a virus, an accident, or the actions of our fellow man. The novel resonates with our current experience because we cannot escape facing our own mortality. We come to understand that nothing in life is certain. We cannot take our comfortable lives for granted.
Camus also reflects on what he calls the “absurdity” of life. I think that in crisis, we are wise to recognize this and to try and find humor, albeit perhaps dark humor. I am British; we like to see the absurdity in things, even death. Think of Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Recognizing the absurdity of our situation should not lead us to despair, says Camus, but to a softening of the heart, a turning away from judgment to joy and gratitude.

WOW: Those sound facinating - thanks for sharing!

You have lived and worked in difficult situations. Here we are, April 20th 2020 and what advice do you have for others, during these turbulent times of the Pandemic?

Caroline: I worked in public health all over the world in crisis situations. I have experienced long periods of isolation, restricted movement, mass deaths, and sickness. Women friends have asked me to share my experience and advice about life in crisis. I do so with humility as I acknowledge those who constantly live with war and lockdown.

When everything around us seems to be falling apart, we feel fear, confusion, and frustration. Feeling secure is the most important thing. Clean your home, put gas in your car, stock your shelves, and make a coordinated plan. Focus on the four F’s; family, friends, food, and fitness. It is not a good idea to do anything obsessively. That includes watching the news or trying to predict outcomes. Ignore posts of those showing their happy life in shut-down. It is fake news! Be very gentle with yourself and others. Take plenty of rest. Adaptation to crisis living is in itself exhausting. When you feel overwhelmed with anxiety, try and shift your thoughts to a calm place in your mind – a place you know or somewhere imagined. My calm place is a meadow deep in the woods. Find peace and breathe there. Breathing deeply allows negativity and tension to be released.

Build a core support team of two or three friends, family, or neighbors who live locally and can get to your home if necessary. The regularity of contact is essential. The core support team provides a space where you can be your authentic self, express how you really feel, get advice, and, most of all, and not feel alone. This is especially important for women as we do the caregiving and most of the essential work on the frontlines. When you feel supported by your core team, you are better able to weather the storm and be of support to others. It’s like the proverbial oxygen mask. Help yourself before helping others. I have two local female friends in my core support team. We are in touch daily and FaceTime several times a week.

Everything is intensified during a crisis. Your emotions will be raw. I find I laugh and cry more. With death all around, we think about our own mortality. You may feel grateful for things you took for granted; shelter, food, health, and toilet paper. You may notice things you overlooked before; the birds singing, the stars, silence. Adverse circumstances show us who we really are. It exposes the strength and the weakness in our relationships and ourselves. “There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in,” sings Leonard Cohen says. Crises tear down our preconceptions and make us acutely aware of what is most important. We all know the adage; what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. It is a well-worn cliché, but there is a nugget of truth in its rust.

In a crisis that has no clear ending, we want to know when life will go back to normal. This virus knows no surrender. The reality is that we won’t return to the old normal. This crisis will change us as individuals and our society. I advise people to try and pace themselves. Like a marathon, if you sprint at the beginning, you will burn out before the finish. You need plenty of patience and a bucket load of good humor. Stick to the rules in a spirit of solidarity. Recognize that we are all in this together for the greater good. Remember those who are risking their lives for you. Emotionally prepare for the acute phase of the crisis to continue for six months, followed by what we call in emergency lingo the ‘transition to recovery.’ The recovery phase will be about a year.

The word ‘crisis’ means a dangerous and critical time. It also means a turning point. My hope is that through this adversity, many women will discover their inner strength and resilience and find an openness to new ways of being and doing.

WOW: Caroline - I hope by the time this article is published these times are behind us - and thank you for such wonderful insight and advice as is it greatly appreciated - and thank you for sharing your thoughts today. We will be looking forward to hearing more from you in 2020 and beyond! 

Interviewed by Crystal Otto who just keeps on keeping on!

Check out the latest Contests:
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4 Ways I Use My Phone in my Writing

Saturday, May 30, 2020
Last week, I found myself in a discussion about how writers use their cell phones when we are at home social distancing. First, let me emphasize that I hate texting. Truly hate it. And I have a lovely ergonomic keyboard at my desk so I have no interest in actually writing on my phone. Talking with my fellow writers, I realized that some of my favorite phone-based activities really are writing related.

Pod casts. For some of you, this is a no brainer but I’m not talking about writing related pod casts. Although there are some I enjoy, none of my favorites are about writing. My list includes “Missing in the Carolinas” from fellow Muffin blogger Renee Roberson, “Fiber Nation,” “TED Radio Hour,” “Stuff to Blow Your Mind,” and “Stuff You Should Know.” It is amazing how many story or article ideas I can pull from a pod cast about horseshoe crabs or Herculaneum.

Webinars. In the past, I’ve always used my computer to participate in webinars, but last week I finished one on writing memoir, one on writing thrillers, and one on constructing fiction scene by scene. The last, I watched on the computer. The other two I watched on my phone and when the speakers put up a slide, I tapped my screen and captured the image. No fumbling to take notes which means no Post-It Notes to find stuck to the cat. It was so efficient!

Audiobooks. With my library closed, I’ve been checking out e-audio books to enjoy while I knit, crochet, fold laundry, etc. I have experienced some amazing books, including The Golden Thread by Kassia St. Clair and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. During the discussion with my fellow authors, I realized how valuable it was when I listened to a book read by the author. I just finished Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou and hearing her read her own words was amazing. What a lesson in voice!

Dictation. Reading aloud really is the best way to make sure I’ve used just the right word. I discovered this when I had to submit an audition video of an essay. I found myself massaging it as I read, cutting phrases and changing words although I really dislike listening to myself. One person in the discussion suggested Evernote. In addition to allowing you to type notes or make sketches, the app will record audio which will definitely help me refine my work. One piece that I’m working on has been especially challenging as I’m fumbling to find the voice and actually hearing the words is going to help.

Our phones are such amazing tools. How do you use your phone in your writing?

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 (next session begins  July 6th, 2020) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins July 6, 2010). 
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Friday Speak Out!: A Novel and a Skirt

Friday, May 29, 2020
by June Trop

What’s the difference between a novel and a skirt? Not as much as you might think. Both are subject to the fads and fancies of the marketplace. If you’ve recently picked up a classic novel—I picked up Middlemarch by George Eliot—you might find that although it’s been touted as a masterpiece of English literature, its underlying themes, pace, and tone are dated.

In today’s market, the author competes with various entertainment options for readers who typically have little time. Did you know the average person today decides whether to read a book within just a few minutes of opening it? To hook your reader, some event has to topple your protagonist’s stable world quickly, within the first scene. Likewise, the first sentence has to plunge your protagonist into the story, arouse curiosity, and promise trouble. For example, I started my first novel, The Deadliest Lie (Bell Bridge Books, 2013), with this sentence: “I wondered what lie I’d tell as I approached the great mahogany doors of my father, Isaac ben Asher’s study.”

The story has to move quickly. Today’s successful authors trust their readers to be able to jump from one scene to the next without a lengthy transition. They use dialog and short paragraphs (lots of white spaces) to make their readers’ eyes fly down the page. Remember dialog is also action.

And rather than long expository passages, which tend to bore readers, authors keep their descriptions brief, with just a few telling words incorporated into an action. Yes, I’m talking about that old saying again: Show don’t tell. Instead of telling how fastidious a character is about his appearance, show his manicured hand brushing an imaginary speck of lint off his shoulder.

So, launch your story with both a provocative first sentence and an action-filled scene and fold your descriptions into your action statements. Then, unlike this poodle skirt, you'll be current with today's fads and fancies.

* * *

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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The Tale of the Three Good Rejections

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Writers speak of the “good rejection” like it’s some sort of Holy Grail but the truth is, some good rejections are better than others. In fact, some good rejections only seem good while others that may appear bad are actually the best. Confused? I’m here to help, so today, it’s my Tale of the Three Good Rejections.

Rejection #1: It’s Not You, It’s Me

I have a Middle Grade mystery adventure with a pretty specific topic and I sent a query to an editor (at one of the Big Five publishers) whom I’d met at a conference. Imagine my shock when I got a response within a couple of days!

And it started out so wonderfully, personally praising me, and then the premise of my novel and the hooks therein! But then she regretfully had to pass because a colleague was working on a MG novel with this very same specific subject. What’re the chances? Still, it was a personal and glowing response and that’s always a good rejection, right?

Hmmm…it’s nice to get validation for hard work and good ideas but ultimately, this was a soft and very polite way of saying “not for me.” So though I felt good for a few minutes, in the end, I’d have to put this good rejection in the “so-so” pile.

Rejection #2: It’s a Southern Thing

So, the same MG mystery, but this time, it’s an agent who requested to see pages based on the pitch I’d made (also at a conference). And this is an agent who uses a form that requests all kinds of information; I think I may have had to send my GPA. From high school.

Anyway, again, within a few days, I received a response. And again, the email started with lovely words about me and the conference and what a joyful experience we all had. But following all these delightfully charming and personal words was the bottom line about my manuscript: the agent didn’t connect with the voice.

Still a good rejection, right?

Not so fast. This is the equivalent—around these parts—of saying, “Bless your heart, this manuscript’s a hard no.” The thing is, there is no way to get around not connecting with voice. And as polite as this rejection was, there was nothing substantively good here. So this rejection went into the “bad” pile.

Rejection #3: The NGB

Back in my dating days, we had an expression for the guy who may have been practically perfect except for maybe one little thing. We called him the NGB, the Nice Guy But…maybe there was no chemistry with him, or maybe he was too short, or maybe too serious. With the NGB, you knew he was a great guy—just not for you.

So I had a request from an editor to send my manuscript for a Young Adult ghost story (as a result of an open submission call). Months went by and then the world closed down and honestly, I forgot all about that manuscript. Until I had a response in my inbox from this publisher. And at first, I thought this was a bad rejection, starting with the stock line, “Thanks for sending your manuscript.”

But she continued with words that will make every writer’s heart sing: I read this one to the very last page! She told me that she connected with the characters and supernatural themes but as much as she loved it, there was one thing in the story that she didn’t connect with so she’d have to pass.

Now, there were no glowing words about me; this was a strictly business response. But this was probably the best rejection I’ve ever had. I knew exactly the one thing that wouldn’t work for her, and her explanation helped me think about how this book might do in the YA mainstream market.
For me, this bad rejection turned good and then golden! So the moral of this tale is clear: not all the good rejections that glitter are the Holy Grail.

Also, just in the general help column here, beware the Bless Your Heart.

~Cathy C. Hall

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Five Posts to Help Writers with Productivity

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Writers are full of ideas, dreams, projects and deadlines. But sometimes, trying to juggle creativity along with all the other responsibilities in our lives can be overwhelming. I decided to dig back through my WOW! blog post archives and find some helpful reminders on how we can continue to be productive while still giving ourselves grace. I hope you find these helpful.

Have you ever heard the expression, “Work Smarter, Not Harder?” The longer I work as a freelance writer and editor, the more I’m learning about ways to create passive income. Do you have products you’ve created, like online digital courses or ebooks that other people would buy? Have a robust e-mail list that you could sell affiliate products through? I break down different ways to create passive income in the post Get Savvy and Make Money While You Sleep.

As someone who works from home and has teenagers in the house who can shovel potato chips in by the handful and never gain a pound, I’ve had to get creative with meal planning. When I’m on a deadline and spending too much time at my desk, I'm tempted to grab unhealthy choices for snacks and meals. In this post I share some of my strategies for meal prep and meal planning so I can spend more time writing and less time thinking about my next meal.

What I’ve learned during the COVID-19 quarantine is that there’s always time to learn something new. In the past I may have told myself it would be better to spend my time brainstorming new article ideas and ways to make money, I now have a different opinion. Taking webinars and classes are a great way to step outside of your comfort zone and get your creative juices flowing. In this post I share how I stretched myself by taking a creative nonfiction class, thus producing more material than I would have imagined.

I’ve journaled before but never stuck with it. But last summer I started a new journaling practice that is a little different, and it has helped me focus in on my goals and dreams and even check the first dream off my list! Learn more about the practice here.

Even in the midst of being productive, it’s also important to take time to pause and give yourself the breaks you deserve. This post shares the story of how a simple act of kindness helped me to understand that every creative person needs time to recharge now and then.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor and creator of the podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. 
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Walk Your Way to Better Blog Tour (And Giveaway)

Monday, May 25, 2020
This is a book about walking your way to better. Everywhere you turn, people, podcasts, and gurus promise a simple path to the life you want. But few of them work. Why? Because simply reading the words is rarely enough to call your heart and mind to action. This book is different. Each section provides a thought-starter, insight or story. But I don’t want you to just read it. I want you to read a section and then lace up your sneakers and head out the door. Because while walking, your brain processes in a unique way, enabling you to recognize the things that are truly holding your back and the changes you actually need to make. You will literally Walk Your Way to Better. Along the way, you will forge a powerful connection between your mind and your body. And bonus—you’ll feel better and become fitter.

Print Length: 363 Pages
Genre: Motivational Self-Help
Publisher: Kibo Press
ISBN-10: 1734257601
ISBN-13: 978-1734257601

Walk Your Way to Better is available for purchase now on

Book Giveaway Contest

To win a copy of the book Walk Your Way to Better by Joyce Shulman, please enter using Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on May 31st at 11:59 PM EST. We will announce the winner the next day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author, Joyce Shulman

Joyce Shulman, founder and CEO of 99 Walks and Macaroni Kid reaches millions of moms each month with hyper-local and national e-newsletters and websites, social media content, video and her Weekly Walk podcast. Having created a one-of-a-kind digital platform, she connects families to the wonders of their own communities and inspires women to chase their dreams and crush their goals.

Her most recent endeavor, 99 Walks, is on a mission to combat loneliness and improve fitness through the simple act of encouraging moms to walk together. Her mission? Nothing short of getting a million women walking.

Throughout her two decades as an entrepreneur, Joyce has guided SAHMs, teachers and even MBAs to success. Joyce shares how moms need to “take care of mama bear” and avoid the “martyr mom syndrome." Her experience in business and leading mompreneurs makes her a coveted speaker where she shares tactics for beating burnout, fueling creativity, goal crushing, how walking can fuel productivity and performance, and more.

Joyce received her Bachelor's in Business Management from the University of Maryland and her Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, from St. John's University School of Law. After law school, she spent more than a dozen years as a New York City lawyer where her practice focused on complex commercial litigation.

A self-confessed idea junkie, in 1998, Joyce abandoned law firm life to liberate her entrepreneurial spirit and focus on the things that are most important to her: family, community and empowering women to chase their dreams.

Find Joyce online at:

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congratulations on your book, "Walk Your Way to Better." What inspired you to write this book?

Joyce: Thank you! This book was truly a labor of love and something that I’ve been working on, in a variety of ways, since I started working closely with women a dozen years ago. It was driven by primarily two things: my love of walking as an incredibly powerful way to untangle my thoughts and my observation that most of us just don’t allow ourselves the time and space to think about our dreams, our happiness or the steps that we can be taking to live the life we want to live. I thought if I could marry those two things by pairing stories and research and thought starters with walking I could deliver a formula that could really help women begin to move forward.

WOW: What a powerful combination! I'm a huge fan of walking myself. I feel like it clears my mind and helps me focus in a way no other exercise does. For those who doubt the power of a walk, what would you say to them to change their mind?

Joyce: Oh my gosh, so much. Many of us are at least somewhat familiar with the research around what walking can do for our bodies (which is incredible) but the magic is what walking does for our minds and mood. Research shows that walking can help combat depression, boost our mood, improves our decision-making abilities and fuels our creativity. Simply put, it is one of the simplest ways to care for our bodies while simultaneously caring for our emotional well-being and enabling our brains to work at their best.

WOW: You emphasize in your book that this is not a book about losing weight. I love that you say that! What do you hope readers take away from reading this book?

Joyce: I hope everyone discovers at least two dozen thought-starers or ideas that are exactly what they need to contemplate to set them on a path toward the life they really want to lead. And, that once people begin giving themselves the time and space to walk and let their mind percolate on the things that are important, they will quickly realize how profound the impact on their lives is.

WOW: This book includes two elements, walking and writing. How come you bridged these two activities together?

Joyce: For me, as for many people I’ve spoken with and interviewed, walking is where I do my best thinking. For all the reasons we talked about, that’s no accident, walking truly enables your brain to work at its very best. And, frankly, as a super busy entrepreneur and mom, I am always looking for maximum efficiency, so if I can get some exercise, be in nature and generate my very best idea all at the same time, well that’s a huge win. I wanted to share that with as many people as I can because the practice is so simple and yet truly life-changing.

WOW: How inspiring! You recently did a podcast interview with 40 Plus Fitness and something you said on there resonated with me. You addressed a paradox of feeling like we have to do for other people and not take care of ourselves. I think that speaks to so many people, especially these days. How does your book address that?

Joyce: In the dozen years that I’ve been working closely with women, I continue to hear the same thing over and over -- this incredible pressure to put everyone else first and put yourself last. We have to stop perpetuating the myth that sacrificing our entire self somehow makes us better parents, or being overwhelmed with busyness somehow makes us better people. We got caught up on this conveyor belt of busier, busier, busier, and more, more, more until we got to the point that we are not serving anyone -- not the people we love and certainly not ourselves.

WOW: I absolutely agree! So, what are you working on next? What can we look forward to from you? 

Joyce: I’m showing up in all the ways I can, especially right now. I go “live” every morning to share a thought of the day in the 99 Walks Facebook Group and continue to do whatever I can to help people -- women in particular -- navigate the constantly shifting sands of our new reality. And I’m writing about my second favorite topic -- creating community -- which is so critical to our happiness and well-being. I often say that we were not meant to raise our families by ourselves, at the end of a long driveway, behind a white picket fence, we were meant to live in supportive communities.

WOW: You are such an inspiration! I appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today. Best of luck on your tour!

Readers, check out Joyce's TedX talk: "How More Walking Leads to Less Loneliness"

--- Blog Tour Dates

May 25th @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

May 26th @ Karen Brown Tyson's Blog
Stop by Karen's blog today and you can read a guest post by author Joyce Shulman about how you become inspired to write a book.

May 28th @ One Sister's Journey
Visit Lisa's blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

May 30th @ One Sister's Journey
Stop by Lisa's blog again today where you can read a guest post by author Joyce Shulman where she talks about why do women need to take care of themselves. A timely post in this day and age!

May 31st @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Visit Anthony's blog today and read his review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 2nd @ Lady Unemployed
Visit Nicole's blog and read Joyce Shulman's guest post about beating brownout (the precursor to burnout).

June 5th @ Wellness Connection Utah
Visit The Wellness Connection today and read thoughtful insights into Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 6th @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Stop by Anthony's blog again where you can read a guest post by Joyce Shulman on how walking can help with loneliness.

June 8th @ Reviews and Interviews
Visit Lisa's blog today and read her interview with Joyce Shulman, author of the book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 10th @ Bookish Tay
Stop by Taylor's blog today and you can read her review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 12th @ The New England Book Critic
Visit Victoria's blog today and read her insights into Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 13th @ Simply Nourished Wellness
Visit Stephani's blog today and you can read her review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 15th @ Jessica's Reading Room
Visit Jessica's blog today and make sure you read her review of author Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 17th @ Bookish Tay
Visit Taylor's blog again and you can read a guest post written by Joyce Shulman about how to keep fear from standing in your way.

June 19th @ Coffee with Lacey
Stop by Lacey's blog and read her review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 19th @ Second Wind Leisure
Stop by Terri's blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better. You can also read a guest post written by the author about the power of yet.

June 20th @ Cafeyre
Visit Karoline's blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 21st @ Simply Nourished Wellness
Visit Stephani's blog again and you can read a guest post by author Joyce Shulman about the value of walking. Don't miss it!

June 22nd @ And So She Thinks
Visit Francesca's blog today and read her interview with Joyce Shulman, author of Walk Your Way to Better.

June 23rd @ The Frugalista Mom
Stop by Rozelyn's blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 24th @ Cathy C. Hall Writes
Visit Cathy's blog and read her review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 25th @ D-Mom Blog
Don't miss Leighann's review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 26th @ Deborah Adam's Blog
Stop by Deborah's blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 27th @ Deborah Adam's Blog
Visit Deborah's blog again today and you can read a guest post by Joyce Shulman about the commitment to women walking their way to better.

June 28th @ Bev A Baird's Blog
Visit Bev's blog today where she reviews Joyce Shulman's book Walk Your Way to Better.

***** Book Giveaway Contest *****

To win a copy of the book Walk Your Way to Better by Joyce Shulman, please enter using Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends on May 31st at 11:59 PM EST. We will choose a winner randomly the next day via Rafflecopter and follow up by email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Sara Wright Covington, Runner Up in the WOW! Q2 2020 Creative Nonfiction Contest

Sunday, May 24, 2020
Sara Covington is a freelance writer, girl mama, and thrift store junky. A lover of language since the age of six, she used her over-active, sometimes completely irrational, creative brain to write stories instead of doing her math homework.

After a ten year career in advertising sales, sales management, and sales training, Sara “retired” and began working from home as a writer and columnist for North Alabama lifestyle magazine No’Ala and No’Ala Huntsville. Her column “Cryin’ Out Loud,” about her messy-at-times journey through motherhood can be read on her website She frequently creates web and blog content for small businesses and is a regular freelance writer for Alabama Magazine and the Huntsville Business Journal. Sara has been a contributor for NPR’s Sundial Writer’s Corner and her creative nonfiction essay entitled Breathe was selected for honorable mention for the Q3 Women on Writing Creative Nonfiction Contest. She has an undergraduate degree in English and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Alabama. In her free time, she wrangles 3 little girls, cooks amazing meals right from a box for her unsuspecting husband, and frequents thrift stores when she should be doing laundry.

Read Sara's relatable essay here, and then return for an interview with the author.

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

WOW: As a mom who has lost several female friends as our children grew older and drifted apart as friends, “Damages” hit home. How did you first get the idea to write about this experience and how did it evolve as it went through the revision process?

Sara: Gosh, this was actually a tough one to write. Honestly it was more of a journal entry I never really expected to see the light of day. I kept picking it up and putting it back down for months. And it definitely evolved, which is why I think I needed to keep putting it back down. I wanted to get to a neutral place where I could write it without playing the victim or placing blame. Some of the comments I’ve gotten from people who have read it have been that they wanted more information about what happened exactly, but I intentionally kept it vague and put all of the details of the friendship fissure aside (fissure is a new word I’ve stolen from Chelsea Clammer) and just tell a story about my emptiness over losing this person. Also my therapist suggested that ;)

WOW: Knowing you’re the mom of three young girls (I loved your blog post “Girls, Girls, Girls (and 9 Observations I've Made From Raising 3), I have to ask about time management. Do you have a set schedule that you utilize to work on creative and freelance work? How do you carve out time to write?

Sara: Sooooo much estrogen in my house. And I literally began laughing out loud when I saw time management that question. I’m terrible at time management. I’m super disorganized, so this whole quarantine for Corona Virus has really rocked my world because of the home schooling. I’m ashamed to admit that my creative process looks a lot like my laptop staying open on the kitchen table all day and me running over to jot notes down in between feeding kids, breaking up fights, and screaming lots of empty threats.

WOW: We do what we have to do! You are not alone. Knowing your love of words, who are some of your favorite authors and why?

Sara: Daphne du Maurier is probably the first author I fell in love with. I remember my mother reading Rebecca to me when I was 10 or 11, and it’s still one of my favorite books of all time. The whole Gothic novel genre just really sticks in my soul.

I’m from the South, so Rick Bragg and Pat Conroy are kind of deities down here too. As far as an author’s voice I most identify with, I love reading Erma Bombeck. She was a pioneer of motherhood humor.

WOW: I agree with all of the above! As part of your freelance writing business, you create content for a number of businesses and nonprofits. What are some things you’ve learned about content creation since you started, and what advice would you give to other writers looking to add similar offerings to their own businesses?

Sara: The main thing I’ve picked up is that every business owner’s voice is different. I worked in sales for a very long time, and when you have a journalistic background, you develop pretty good skills for asking questions. Anytime you are helping someone establish a voice for their company or product, it’s important to ask enough questions to determine who they are, who their target audience is, and what their longterm goals are. Sometimes things have to be done in phases. (just like any relationship).

WOW: Yes, interviews are so important when getting to know a client or an interview subject. You mention on your blog that you love to frequent thrift stores. Do you have any stories of some amazing finds you’ve stumbled across?

Sara: My favorite find of all time is a cognac-colored leather trench coat. I think it’s probably from the 70s, but it’s classic. I’ve also found some black Jimmy Choo pumps, a first edition of Gone With the Wind (on a discount table), a Givenchy scarf, and too many pieces of art to count!

WOW: Those all sound like pretty fantastic finds. Thank you for taking time out to answer our questions, and we look forward to reading more of your work!
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An Offer to Publish!

Saturday, May 23, 2020
I had an incredible morning. A great interview (I’m looking for a new teaching job)... and I was even dressed in a pants suit barefoot for it! When I checked my email once I zoomed off, I found one that made me stop breathing for a moment. It was from a publisher, and before I even opened it up, I could see it didn’t include the word “unfortunately” in the first sentence. Fabulous!

Dear Mrs Roslawski,

Thank you for your patience during this process, I understand it can be tedious awaiting responses from publishers regarding your writing. However, we have now completed our evaluations of your middle-grade fiction ‘The Massacre of Greenwood’.

My colleagues and I have been discussing various aspects of your story and have agreed that your novel is well-written with an absorbing narrative that may educate some younger readers, we see potential in the work. We believe that it deserves a chance to reach the general readership and this can be achieved with the marketing capabilities we can provide.

Imagine a huge grin spreading across my face after reading those first two paragraphs. I continued to read...

image by Pixabay

As I’m sure you know – as it is explained on our website – we receive hundreds of submissions each month, many of which are rejected. When we accept a work, we can offer either a traditional publishing contract or a contribution-based publishing contract. In this instance we would be able to publish your work under the ABCD Publishing House banner and wish to make a contribution-based offer for ‘The Massacre of Greenwood’.

Please consider this offer carefully. This will be a one-off, finite figure. Any future costs, to cover marketing over the lifetime of the book, will be covered by ABCD Publishing.

At this point, my grin was gone.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many different routes to publication these days. In fact, I was researching some options, and came upon this article that tells of 11 different ways to get a book published. It even includes the pros and cons of each path.

Luckily for me, I’d done my homework, so I knew about ABCD Publishing. I knew there was a fee ($5,000, I think) that was the one-time “contribution” for those authors who didn’t wow them enough for a traditional contract. Since $5,000 will buy a lot of chocolate books plane tickets, it was thanks, but no thanks.

So it’s not only “buyer beware.” It’s also writer beware. Certainly, there are instances when a vanity press makes sense. There are authors who go the micro-pub path… and it works out fantastically for them. There’s even crowdfunding for books… which has me intrigued.

Just do your homework… Or your grin might turn into a grimace if you leap into something because you’re overeager and say yes to something before you find out exactly what’s being offered.

And now I’m headed to find out a decent DIY way to cut my hair. Desperate times call for desperate measures...

Sioux is a teacher (currently job-hunting), a freelance writer and a nest-supervisor. (These days, while sticking so close to home, I've become obsessed with a robin's nest on our carport. I think the babies are almost ready to leave the nest.) If you'd like to read more of Sioux's writing, check out Sioux's Page,
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Friday Speak Out!: Inspiration for The Pelton Papers: A Novel

Friday, May 22, 2020
by Mari Coates

Inspiration. Where does it come from? If I search it out, it eludes me, flits off and leaves me alone. I knew I wanted to write about the artist Agnes Pelton long before she began speaking to me and long before I first saw her mystical abstracts. I’m not a writer of fiction who makes things up. I need an anchor—an image, a place, a person. Fortunately, I had anchors galore: the portraits Pelton painted of her close friends, my grandparents; that same year my mother and uncle as children; a later pair of desert landscapes; a view of her windmill studio on Long Island.

I also had transcriptions of my grandfather’s letters and had seen his beautiful large-format family photographs. I found that he and I shared a penchant for imagining the lives of others, tagging his photographs with captions about his neighbors in his rural New York City neighborhood. I was inspired by the joy evident in these images. Really, though, it was the simple fact of his own life—here so vividly and then gone—another introvert who, I felt, would welcome my intrusion into his life and thoughts.

So, I began a novel about him. While reading through a series of letters he wrote from California in 1906 to family in Brooklyn, I found a reference to his friend Agnes Pelton and decided to bring her into the novel: another artist of fragile constitution, raised as he was in the very conservative Protestant sect called Plymouth Brethren.

But once I saw Pelton’s abstracts, the landscape of my imagination was flooded with color and upended by an urgent need to understand. Who are you, I asked Agnes. I began using my daily train commute to start scribbling. I recommend it: a pad of paper, a pen or pencil, and whatever pops into one’s mind. It was on one of those mornings, mulling over how she had come to make these astounding works, when a voice came to me and said, “I want! I want to make BIG pictures that COVER a BIG piece of paper!” All right, I thought, let me help you with that.

* * *
photo by Lynn Shepodd
MARI COATES lives in San Francisco, where, before joining University of California Press as a senior editor, she was an arts writer and theater critic. Her regular column appeared in the SF Weekly with additional profiles and features appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Monthly, Advocate, and other news outlets Her stories have been published in the literary journals HLLQ and Eclipse, and she is grateful for residencies at I-Park, Ragdale, and Hypatia-in-the-Woods, which allowed her to develop and complete The Pelton Papers. She holds degrees from Connecticut College and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Find her online at
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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Why Consistency Is So Important to Your Writing (and What Should We Do About it?)

Thursday, May 21, 2020
One thing that may have many of us feeling unsure or out of sorts right now is the conflicting information that can come with stories and information about the current pandemic. Some of it is because we live in a 24/7 news cycle, and scientists and doctors are making new discoveries daily. Some of it is rumor and hype. But when I talk to my friends and family, this is one topic that's often brought up: Everything feels so inconsistent. People are asking: Who do I trust?

Think about your best friend or a relative you are close to. You've established trust and a bond, and one of the ways this happened is because the person was consistent. He or she followed through on promises and showed up when s/he said they would. S/he was always there for you with consistent behavior.

So consistency is important to human beings; and as you know, human beings are your readers--at least for now, until we teach other creatures to read or life is found on another planet. (I'm only kidding--sort of.)

When I was thinking about this post, I thought of many, many ways that we have to be consistent when we write or because we are writers. I decided I would turn this topic into a series of blog posts. Today's post gives you an overview of the topic; and then in other posts throughout the end of May and into June, I'll provide some tips in different areas for how to be consistent in your writing and keep your readers happy!

Here are some areas where consistency is important both in your writing and in your career:

  • Point of view character
  • Worldbuilding
  • Characters' descriptions
  • Characters' names
  • Characters' motivations and feelings
  • Spelling (i.e., U.S. vs U.K.)
  • Formatting
  • Branding
  • Correspondence
  • Social Media
and more...

This is where you come in. Where do you think it is crucial to be consistent, in both your stories, novels, essays, or whatever you write and in your career and marketing. Is there an area where you excel or one where you struggle? Please let me know in the comments. Plus, if you have any questions in this area, please also leave them in the comments, and I will answer them in following posts.

Here's to being consistent in an area of our lives we can control--our writing! 

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, and writing coach and instructor, living in St. Louis, MO, with her nine-year-old daughter and her one-year-old lab mix dog, Sudsi. To take Margo's next novel writing course, go here and sign up before June 5! She will help you be consistent when writing your novel or memoir. 

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Interview with Dreame, A Network Reading Platform

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Dreame is a popular online fiction reading platform that has paid writers more than $6 million for their amazing works during the past two years. Today we had the chance to interview an editor at Dreame, who is going to share her insights into how she's helped writers earn income through the platform.

WOW: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today! So, why authors should consider writing online?

Dreame: It's all about growing your readership. Online reading platforms usually have a large audience base. Take Dreame for example. Readers on Dreame are growing rapidly. Currently, we've reached 20 million readers. The fiction published on Dreame is blessed with greater exposure and Dreame authors are witnessing growth both in their royalties as well as in the number of fans.

WOW: That's incredible! How can authors make their books popular and increase income by writing online?

Dreame: First of all, it is important to choose the right audience. You want to choose readers who have a preference towards your writing genre. If you are a romance fiction author and your works are preferred by female readers, you should not go to a platform where most readers are fond of horror fiction. On Dreame, readers have a preference towards female fiction, as 98% of them are female.

Secondly, diligence is important. Readers are always waiting for the latest chapters. If you keep them waiting too long, their enthusiasm for the story may decline. Regular updates can strengthen their relationship with readers. Interacting with readers also helps.

WOW: I completely agree. What benefits are available to Dreame authors?

Dreame: Dreame provides a way for authors to monetize their writing. Lucrative royalties are offered to books that join the pay-to-read program. We built a payment system, so authors can see clearly how their income accumulates. To get more readers, Dreame provides opportunities for promoting stories not only on the Dreame app, but also further marketed on the external channels with costs covered by Dreame.

Plenty of writing contests are held on Dreame every month. Currently, the Multi-Professional Billionaire Writing contest is open. 1st Place receives $1500; as well as $800, $500, and $300 for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Place, respectively. Check out the details here:

WOW: That contest sounds like a lot of fun! What type of support do you provide authors?

Dreame: One of the authors I worked with had a day job unrelated to writing, which didn't give her the confidence in her writing ability. But what she's achieved today is something she never expected. Now, she has over one million readers and earns a lucrative income each month. The first thing I did was help her find the right audience to match her writing style; and then I encouraged her to make better use of the resources that Dreame offers. Participating in writing contests, writing challenges, online discussions and other activities can bring more exposure to the author’s writing. The platform also offers writing guides, and online courses as well. Now, she's a full-time author whose work stays on the top-ranking charts at Dreame.

If writers have any questions, they can email us at or check the Dreame website.

WOW: Thank you so much for chatting with us today.

About Dreame

Dreame is a network reading platform, providing readers with excellent content, and authors with a platform to present their work. Dreame has been the home of over 150,000 fictional works by more than 60,000 authors. Through the shared readings and knowledge, readers around the world can connect and enjoy a good book.

Dreame is available in many counties to help readers recognize the magical power of books. It aims to build a link between love and passion, and bridge a gap between different countries and cultures.

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3 Things to Consider When Selecting Details for Your Story

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Last week, I read Dibs! by Laura Gehl. This picture book is about Julian’s attempts to deal with his toddler brother, Clancy. The next three paragraphs contain several plot spoilers so consider this a warning.  If this bother's you, skip down to "Do they help set a mood?"

Julian’s solution to having a little brother is to call dibs on the things he most wants. These include a solar system plate, an astronaut costume and star cookies.

When you are working with a limited word count, you have to carefully choose each detail. Most fiction picture books are 500 words or less so no word can be wasted. Some flash fiction is almost as short so, again, every word has to count. Here are three things to consider about the details in your own writing.

Do they help build a theme? One of several themes in Dibs! is outer space. When Clancy, the little brother, starts calling dibs, he claims the neighborhood bakery, the source of the star cookies, the White House, and NASA. Eventually, Julian dons the astronaut costume and heads into space to rescue his brother. Earlier in the story, he could have called dibs on a cowboy plate, gingerbread cookies, and a toy hard hat, but the details Gehl chose built up the space theme.  Doesn't sound like something that will work in your story?  This isn’t the only reason to choose specific details.

Do they help set a mood? If you read horror or other books with spooky scenes, keep your eyes open for setting details that have been chosen to set that eerie tone or an ominous mood. The approach to a house where someone has disappeared may include skeletal trees, dead flower beds, and outbuildings with dark windows that look like eye sockets. Set a more upbeat story in a similar place, and you would use a different set of details such as lush evergreens, winter gardens that include holly bushes full of cheerful red berries, and windows that sparkle in the winter light.  Don't see this working for your story either?  Not to worry.

Do these details show what is important to your character? Last but not least, you might decide to include a detail because you are describing something that is important to your character. Your protagonist may wear her grandmother’s wedding ring. If she is a photographer, she is going to notice light and contrast where a costume designer would notice the fit and fabric of clothing.

Whether you are writing something that is only 500 words or you have the 85,000 words typical of a cozy, paying attention to the details you include can help you strengthen your theme, reveal something about your character, or set the tone or mood for a scene.

Don’t panic if your details aren’t this carefully chosen. Although you can spot these kinds of details in published work, remember that the pieces you are reading have been rewritten multiple times.  You can always smooth out your details in a rewrite.


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 (next session begins  July 6th, 2020) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins July 6, 2010). 
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Standing Tall Despite Change

Monday, May 18, 2020
When I was growing up, in the early 80's, a group of neighborhood kids and I would ride our bikes from our homes in town out to Point Beach State Forest which was over 10 miles away. We would spend the day hiking, biking, swimming, and laying on the sandy beach planning our next great adventure. We would often take different routes just to keep things interesting. There was one particular route I loved because right smack dab in the middle of a farm field stood a majestic tree. I would ask my friends if we could take a rest and we would sit in the shade of her branches with our backs resting against her strong trunk. I would ask "why do you think they cleared all the rest of this land but let this tree stay?". We had our theories but never really knew for sure. We guessed that the large tree was very old and she likely held many secrets.

Fast forward to today. I still enjoy riding my bike although I don't think I'd be able to bike 20 miles round trip with much energy for swimming or other shenanigans and I now prefer a swimming pool to sand in my swim bottoms, but I still get a little curious when I see a lone tree in a farm field. Lucky for me, I have my very own farmer who I thought might hold the answer to my very old question.

Mark: "Why are you taking pictures of that tree?"

Me: "She sure is beautiful, isn't she?"

Mark: "Umm....ok....but it might be easier to work the field if  the tree wasn't right in the center."

Me: "Why is it there anyway? I've always wondered that."

Mark: "I think in most cases, there were 2 smaller fields or a small field and a pasture separated by some sort of fence line. As farms got bigger and needed more land, they combined the areas to work them with large machines. They probably removed lots of the smaller trees and posts, but sometimes it's more hassle to remove a large tree, so they leave it."

Me: "Well,  I really think it must be wonderful to be that tree. She probably has lots of secrets and I think we should have our lunch right there once she has all her leaves."

Mark: "You're pretty cute."

Now I have my answer and I'm pretty blessed to have a patient husband who answers all of my questions and listens to my ramblings. I imagine that tree, once surrounded by other trees, maybe cattle grazing beneath her limbs. I imagine her watching as all the other trees and posts were removed. Speculating about the animals leaving and being replaced with loud machinery uprooting the land. That tree, like so many like her became alone in the middle of something she didn't understand. The landscape changed, but her roots remained strongly planted in the soil. The seasons continued to come and go. Unlike the animals and other trees she spent time with each day, the machinery wasn't a constant. She sees the loud machines a few times throughout the year and they don't get too close. It's a drastic change from the daily back scratching the cows would do against her bark.

She is alone, yet she isn't lonely. The sun shines. The wind blows. The birds chirp. The farmer
occasionally rests his weary back against her trunk while sipping his coffee and eating his sandwich. She doesn't really fit in with the cornstalks and alfalfa the farmer grows on alternating years, yet the rustling of the stalks and quiet whispers of the stems are music to her ears. Life has changed and she has changed, yet she still stands tall and proud ready for whatever change may come and ready for whatever secrets someone wants to share.


I'll let you draw your own conclusions about why I feel this tree is so important right now and why I feel so kindred to her.

Are there any elements of nature that inspire you? 
How are you doing with your writing goals right now? 
What about reading? 
What's a great book you've read recently that you think everyone should read?

Leave a comment on this post - we love hearing from YOU!!

and now...a little more about me...

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, pony Miss Maggie May, 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 own 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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What I Should Know By Now About the Freelance Life

Saturday, May 16, 2020


Yeah, that’s what I should know, but I continue to find myself in the same old predicaments. Having worked as an editor for four different magazines, there are a few hard and fast rules I should have picked up on by now, but every now and then I find myself with temporary amnesia. It’s been a rough week.

Lesson number one is that you can never really trust an advertiser to write an article that they will not use to self promote. We try to have plenty of special advertising sections in our publications so that we can keep everyone happy and give them the opportunities to provide their own copy or have a piece written about them. This month, I asked an advertiser to help write a health article, and we asked specifically that they not discuss their practice or their treatments. (I did this because of the above-mentioned trimmed budget for writers). The piece that was turned in was entirely self-promotional, and I found out at the last minute that a competitor had agreed to sponsor the page. Two sales reps were then upset. I had no idea who was sponsoring what, so this created an issue I had to fix, meaning I had to rewrite the health article myself and run the trimmed-down advertorial piece in another section. This all happened Friday morning before I even had my coffee. I’ve learned my lesson—advertorial stays advertorial and editorial stays editorial.

Lesson number two is that I should always batch work when I can. You would think as a freelance writer and editor I would have learned this by now. Did I also mention I decided to start up a podcast during COVID-19? The first week our shelter-in-place orders came out, I spent too much time wringing my hands, trying to figure out how my husband and I were both going to work in the same house with the kids here doing remote learning. In my defense, I didn’t even know if the magazines were going to be produced for May until the last minute.

But I know about the concept of batch working. I’ve read every productivity article there is about how to do it. I found myself editing and uploading a podcast episode Thursday night at 9 p.m. after putting in a full day at work, and I’m writing the copy I’m in charge of for one of the magazines today. Yes, there were some sections I didn’t want to pull together because I was afraid they would be cut, but there are things like the editor’s letter that I could have written in advance. It’s always the same length and I know when it’s due. But did I batch podcast scripts, blog posts for my website, articles, etc. ahead of time in the past two weeks when I had down time? No. I swear I’m learning my lesson this time.

What are some lessons you’ve learned as a writer? Please tell me I’m not the only disorganized mess around here! (I really think I’m just missing my alone time in the house to be honest).

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also hosts a podcast called Missing in the Carolinas. Visit her website at
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Writing Serialized Fiction for Dreame: Understanding Your Writing Genres

Friday, May 15, 2020
By the editors at Dreame, a site for women readers and writers, providing captivating, serialized online fiction. This is a guide on how to start writing for Dreame by choosing your genre.

As we begin to develop a literary work, choosing a genre is often the first step. Different genres have specific features that distinguish them from one another, and their function is to give readers an idea of the topics that will be discussed or the themes presented.

Readers who follow specific genres often have certain story expectations, especially when they have enjoyed similar stories in the past. Therefore, a story marked with an incorrect genre could make these readers confused or disappointed. To writers, you can use this to your advantage, as the boundaries are models on which to base your stories.

As we all know, romance is currently the largest genre of fiction and it is also the most popular on Dreame. Stories will involve a romantic relationship between two or more people. The bulk of the plot must focus on these main characters falling in love, and struggling to maintain that love. They can be apart for most or some of the story, but normally end up together at some point. Sensual tension, desire, and romanticism are the obvious themes represented in these kinds of stories.

Although its core is about the love between two people, other elements can exist in these stories that combine with other genres; for example, werewolves/vampires, billionaire, paranormal, and fantasy. As there is a wide range of such categories within the genre, it is advisable to learn the “formulas” that will make stories suitable for different romantic fiction lovers.

According to the tags on Dreame, below are brief definitions and examples to help clarify what sets different types of stories apart. The list is not completed, as there are so many other small sub-genres and crossover genres it would be impossible to list them all.

a) Elements or setting: Fantasy, Paranormal, etc.
b) Character type: Billionaire, Werewolf/Vampire, etc.
c) Characters’ age: Teen fiction, etc.
d) Audience’s sexual orientation: LGBT+, etc.
e) Characters’ experience: Steamy stories, etc.

Fantasy stories are mainly set in imaginary worlds where magic, magical creatures, and/or some other violation of physical laws are present. It often involves a struggle between good and evil. Example books include: A Slave to the Dragon King and The Innocent Mate of A Dragon.

Paranormal stories have some similar parts to fantasy, like certain elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, but are often set in the real world. For example, stories set on earth that include things like angels, demons, ghosts, psychics, etc. Example books include: Bear's to Mate and Dragon's Heir.

Billionaire stories mainly focus on building up a hero who is wealthy and/or powerful. The most typical model is a "Cinderella story," involving a heroine who is often poorer or has a lower social class than the hero. Example books include: His Purchased Wife and Resisting My Billionaire Husband.

Werewolf/Vampire, in fact, could be included in Paranormal, however, due to its specific character setting and popularity on Dreame, we gave it its own genre. There is often a relationship with a supernatural being, such as a vampire, werewolf, or other shapeshifters. It usually involves some typical settings such as Alpha, Beta, Omega, Luna, Rouge, Mate, etc. Example books include: His Mate And His Mistress, Alpha's Hybrid Mate, The Vampire Prince's Blood Slave, and Faded Dreams.

Teen fiction stories are mainly focused on character growth in the teenager protagonist. It typically includes themes such as friendship, school, first love, depression, suicide, drugs, etc. Example books include: The School Bully and The Bad Boy Next Door.

LGBT+ stories mainly focus on the experiences of gender and sexual minorities as a product of the broad gay liberation movement. Example books include: Love Begins On The Basketball Court and He’s My Mother.

Steamy stories focus mainly on sexual feelings. It usually comprises a passionate, romantic, or sexual relationship, which intends to arouse similar feelings in its readers. Example books include Doctor Vagina and Teach me, daddy.

After getting to know the differences among genres and what “formulas” are involved, you should then take these into consideration when choosing the genre for your book. However, some of you may still have questions to ask before picking up the pen. So here are a few questions and answers for your reference:

What genre should I choose? Which genre would be most popular?

If you have no ideas, you could study the market first and read popular books on our platform. Use this as inspiration to choose a genre that most appeals to you and build a story idea from that. There is no “best” genre; everyone has a favorite. You could choose the most suitable genre for you and use writing techniques to make your story become the most recognizable in its category.

Can I decide the genre while I’m writing the book or after I finish?

According to most writers, choosing the genre before writing is more helpful. It doesn’t mean that you limit your ideas; your book doesn’t have to fit solely into one genre. But choosing the correct genre is important to get your book into the hands of readers who are most likely to enjoy it.

How do I know whether the story I wrote meets the genre requirements?

First, get to know about basic writing techniques and “formulas” followed in the genre of your choice. For example, if your story is set in the real world while the most prominent aspect that makes the plot development is the interaction between two paranormal creatures, you should choose Paranormal. However, if the paranormal creatures are specifically “Werewolves/Vampires,” you might want to choose the “Werewolf/ Vampire” genre.

What genre should I choose if my books include many of the different elements mentioned above?

a) Identify the genre that will enable your ideal reader to most easily find your book.

b) Imply the sub-genre with comparative titles if necessary.

How can I write a great romantic story?

If you want your novel to stand out within its genre, the best way is to make some kind of unique setting or element in your novel. Sometimes, bending the conventions or rules is acceptable too. For example, the kind of hero used in the book “Alpha's Hybrid Mate” is different from the typical, powerful heroes in many other books. The heroine in this book is presented as the strongest character, which leaves readers with a deep impression.

On the other hand, the goals and complications of the plot are important in a good romantic story as well. You have to be clear about the plot points and build logical development for situations when outlining your story. Thus, when the plot points emerge, readers will be plunged into one by one uncertainty and would want to continue reading to find out what happens.

However, the two aspects mentioned above are not the only possibilities. For more writing techniques, you can continue reading our guidebook to learn more about them.

To summarise, if you’re a beginner, please be clear what kind of book you want to write and pick only one genre when you start the story. It will help you match the ideal readers that will most appreciate the elements of your writing and make more “reads” and “like” for your story.


This article comes from the Dreame Writing Guide, a guidebook that provides writers some writing techniques on creating online novels. It includes three parts that guide you through writing a book: a. preparation before writing; b. ideas and solutions you can draw from; c. how to earn likes from readers.

If you have writer's block while writing your book, you are welcome to share your comments with us and tell us what else you expect us to provide. It would be also great if you, as an established writer, could share your experience with us.

Want to be a signed writer of Dreame? Then please email us at or visit this page:

About Dreame

Dreame is a network reading platform that provides readers with excellent content as well as a platform for authors. Dreame has been the home of over 150,000 fictions by more than 60,000 authors. By creating a place through the shared readings and knowledge, readers around the world can connect and mutually enjoy a good time.

Dreame helps readers recognize the magical power of books; it aims to build a link between love and passion, a bridge between different countries and across cultures. And it always helps readers share romantic, fantasy, adventure & doomsday, and many other types of stories to symbolize the power of books and encourage reading as much as possible.

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