That First Writing Job

Wednesday, March 31, 2021


There’s a hierarchy when it comes to landing that first job. Remember your first job as a teenager? Mine was slinging popcorn and sodas at a movie theater and working as a junior employee at a department store in the mall.

It’s never too late to earn money with your writing talent. I’m 44 years old and have never published a novel, but I’ve written a few that I hope to put out in the world one day. In the meantime, I’ve been working for more than 20 years writing marketing copy and newspaper, magazine and online articles. In my day job as a magazine editor, I nurture plenty of writers who may have never written articles before for regional publications, but a lot of them have backgrounds in public relations, marketing, education, etc. I don’t care if they’ve never been paid for their work before—if they can present me with a solid pitch that will fit in our magazine and show me they are not afraid to schedule an interview with the subject, I will give them a chance and a paid assignment. 

When I first started out as a freelance writer I was intimidated. I was leaving the protection of a stable salary where I could get through the day writing press releases for clients and magazine articles for a university alumni magazine that was one of our clients. I read several books on the art of copywriting and freelancing and was afraid my introverted self would never be able to follow through to nab those paid assignments. Fortunately, I proved myself wrong. These days, there are so many more places seeking writers, both seasoned and new. If you’re not subscribed to the WOW! Markets newsletter that goes out once per month, hop on over and subscribe now on our home page. Every month I read it and find at least five places I want to submit, from contests to literary journals to magazines looking for pitches. 

One of the other interesting things I’ve noticed is that over the past few years, I’ve developed relationships with several people who retired from their careers but are still looking for creative fulfillment and supplemental income. I now have a writer who retired from running her own marketing firm but loves interviewing people and writing articles in addition to her volunteer responsibilities. I offered a retired education professor the chance to write his own monthly history column and he’s loving the heck out of it. One other writer had a marketing and public relations agency for many years with his wife, and when they retired, they started up a gorgeous travel blog. He now writes a regional column and uses his contacts in healthcare to write monthly health and wellness articles for our publication catering to residents 55 and older. And I know who to go to for travel article ideas.

Whether you’re 16 or 65, if you want to write and get paid for it, you can do it. There are more and more opportunities to channel your passion for writing into a career you can be proud of if you know where to look.

Let’s have some fun. If you’ve been paid for your writing, what was your first paid gig? If you are new to starting out, what is your dream publication or project? 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who also produces the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. Learn more at her website,
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Interview with Gwen Gardner: Fall 2020 Flash Fiction Runner Up

Monday, March 29, 2021

Gwen Gardner
writes clean, cozy, lighthearted mysteries with a strong ghostly element. Since ghosts feature prominently in her books, she has a secret desire to meet one face to face—but will run screaming for the hills if she ever does. 

Her lifelong love of books and reading transitioned naturally into a love of writing, where adventure can be found around every corner—or down a dark, twisting alley. She thinks there is nothing better than a good mystery (being an excellent armchair detective herself), unless it’s throwing a ghost or two into the mix to “liven” things up. Don’t worry, though. Ghosts may be tricky to keep in line, but it turns out they’re darn good sleuths. 

Gwen’s short story, A Stitch in Crime, won 1st place and feature spot in the 2018 Insecure Writer’s Support Group anthology, and she published her cozy mystery novella, A Scandal in Boohemia, in 2019, among others. Find out more about her writing journey at (and watch for ghost-crossings!) or follow her on Facebook and Twitter

Gwen holds a BA degree in English Literature from San Diego State University, and is a member of Sisters in Crime, an organization for women crime writers. 

Please take a moment to click through and read Gwen's story, "The Elephant in the Tomb."  Then come back to learn about her writing process and inspiration. 

------interviewed by Sue Bradford Edwards

WOW:  Your story grabbed me and didn’t let me go, but I have a fondness for cozies and ghost stories. What was your inspiration for the Elephant in the Tomb?

Gwen: My stories always start with character. For me, character is the hallmark of a cozy mystery, filled with quirky, lovable—and sometimes grumpy—characters to draw the reader in. 

When building Brother Bart’s world, I placed the setting in the Monks Meditation Garden. Brother Bart is a Benedictine monk in charge of taking care of the cathedral grounds. His character is a playful, creative “ghostly” monk who loves making topiary creatures from the hedges he is charged with maintaining. To that setting, I added the tomb of the unknown monk. When I thought of Brother Bart poking his head through a hedge like a disembodied big game trophy (the elephant), and the tomb with no name, I had both the title and the premise of the story. 

WOW:  It sounds like you started with a lot of the important elements of the story. How did the piece evolve through the rewrite process? 

Gwen: I didn’t make the cut on submitting this story the first time to the WOW contest, but I had signed up for the WOW critique and received some really helpful advice. Mostly unanswered questions about the stakes and the why of it, but also too many instances of telling instead of showing. The person who critiqued my story even said that it felt like it belonged to a longer piece, and she was so right! Brother Bart was always meant to be part of a larger story. 

When this contest came up, I pulled out the abandoned novel and edited the first chapter (which was all I had written haha!) to fit the contest parameters. Once I edited the “telling” parts, tightened up these loose strings, and narrowed my focus, I had an improved story to submit. 

And indeed, the next time I submitted it to WoW, I made it into the top ten finalists. I couldn’t be more thrilled! 

WOW: Both mysteries and flash stories rely heavily on pacing and not revealing too much too soon. What advice do you have for readers who are crafting their first mystery? Their first piece of flash fiction? 

Gwen: With flash fiction, the trick is to narrow your focus by limiting the number of locations, characters, and length of time. In Elephant in the Tomb, the story takes place in one location—the Monk’s Meditation Garden—and in the span of one misty morning. The story has only two “active” characters. 

I am an outliner. In writing a full-length mystery novel, I first create the clues and red herrings (after creating characters and setting), then work the story/plot around them. Each chapter needs to move the plot forward, and I try to end each chapter with something that makes the reader want to burrow under the covers with a flashlight and keep reading. 

Then on the second draft, you must “kill all your darlings.” The saying is usually attributed to Stephen King, but actually coined by William Faulkner. What this means is that you must get rid of any words or ideas that don’t add anything to the story (even though you personally love those words and ideas). It’s hard! But cutting them out, as well as getting rid of weak verbs, adverbs, prepositions, and overuse of pronouns will help the pacing of your story. 

There are software programs, I use ProWriting Aid, that help with self-editing and it is eye-opening the things you will learn. Of course, short stories, and especially flash fiction, are less forgiving than full length novels so I found myself spending hours and hours (and hours and hours) editing and revising and getting rid of “all my darlings” to meet the 750 word count criteria. 

Then put the work away for a couple of weeks. When you return to it, it is with fresh eyes. 

WOW:  As a mystery lover, I have to ask.  Who are your favorite mystery authors and why? 

Gwen: I love the classic British mystery writers such as Sir Author Conan Doyle, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, and M.C. Beaton. I also love Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Jacqueline Winspear, and Ann Cleeves. 

If you are familiar with these authors, then you’ve noticed that I am a complete anglophile and gravitate toward British authors. I am an American writing as a Brit, as well, as most of my writing/settings take place in fictional towns and villages of England. I find the history, architecture, and settings evocative, which lends itself to my brand of “haunted” stories perfectly. If you’ve read my bio, you know that I love my ghosties! From afar. 

WOW:  M.C. Beaton and Ann Cleaves are definitely among my favorites.  What are you working on now? Maybe a new series? 

Gwen: I have several series that I’m working on including my Indigo Eady Paranormal Cozy Mysteries. Book I, A Scandal in Boohemia, came out a couple of years ago. I’m now working on the second book in the series called, Something Borrowed, Something Booed. My sleuth is a ghost whisperer and her ghostly sidekick, Franny Bishop, is a former Victorian madam of some repute. Franny is a lovable but interfering old ghost who insists that Indigo needs a man before she becomes an old maid—at twenty-eight. 

My Brother Bart series is in process, currently untitled. Elephant in the Tomb is the prequel to the series. Really, what could be more fun than a sweet, beguiling, ghostly Benedictine monk as a sidekick amateur sleuth to his great, great, great nephew? 

But they’re not all ghost stories. I’m working on a “Brozy” mystery called Without Redoubt, a somewhat new, up-and-coming genre that is a “broader” version of the traditional cozy mystery and appeals to a broader audience. The protagonist is a wounded former RAF Navy pilot, and his sidekick is a gentle, whiskey-drinking giant of a monk and their little old, retired schoolteacher-turned-cabbie who can drink the two of them under the table. A humorous brozy, but like a traditional cozy, no overt violence, or sexual situations.

WOW: Brozy?  That's a new one for me.  Off to check it out and find you online.  Thank you for taking time out of your writing schedule to answer our questions.  
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The Little Book of Big Knowing by Michele Sammons Blog Tour (and giveaway!)

Filled with tiny bursts of insight to nourish your heart, warm your soul, and help you to remember your true self. 

If you find yourself asking big, deep life questions like, "What's my purpose?" and "Why am I here?" then you'll want to curl up with The Little Book of Big Knowing

Three reasons why you’ll love this book: 
  • It includes gentle reminders of why you are here, who you are at your core, and why your dreams matter to more than just you. 
  • This book will help you to look at life in a light-hearted, joyful way. Consider it spirituality with a playful twist! 
  • And the best part is, the book is written in short bursts you can read in any order. So you can pick it up, read a little bit, put it down, and come back to it when you’re ready for more!

Print Length: 138 Pages 
Genre: Spiritual Self-Help 
ISBN-10: 1736168606 
ISBN-13: 978-1736168608 

The Little Book of Big Knowing is available to purchase at, Barnes and Noble, and You can also add this to your reading list on

About the Author 

Michele makes her home in Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband Scott and chocolate Labrador, Dewey. The Little Book of Big Knowing is Michele’s first book, but probably not her last. You can discover more about Michele’s work on her website: 

 ----- Interview by Nicole Pyles 

WOW: First of all, congratulations on your book, The Little Book of Big Knowing. What inspired you to write this book? 

Michele: Thank you! I've always dreamed of being an author. Even when I was a little girl, I thought it would be the most wonderful thing to write a book that I could hold in my hands and share with the world, but for a long time, I didn't know what I wanted to say. I had lots of ideas, but nothing felt solid enough to become a book. 

But Spirit works in creative ways. During my meditation time, an idea dropped into my mind—a book for the woman I used to be. You see, about twelve years ago, I felt a strong call to explore spirituality. Because of my traditional religious background, this call felt foreign, and I was afraid to trust it. Back then, I could’ve used a book like The Little Book of Big Knowing to gently offer ideas and new ways of thinking that didn't feel scary but felt encouraging and nourishing. 

WOW: How inspiring is that! I love that you can read this book in any order you like. What led you to write this book in this way? 

Michele: I believe that each of us should trust our own inner-guidance above all else! Reading in a random order, selecting a chapter by its title or just opening the book and turning to a page allows the reader’s inner-wisdom to gently guide them to what they’re most ready for next. 

I also encourage folks to read The Little Book of Big Knowing in the same manner that it's written—short bursts. Many of these thoughts and ideas need time to percolate in our minds. So, it's best to read a page or two, let the ideas simmer, and then come back to the book again and again. 

WOW: I completely agree! 2020 seems to render us all into a state of self-reflection. Why do you think that is? 

Michele: Anytime our circumstances change on a personal or especially a global scale, it can bring up our stuff, i.e., fears, worries, anxieties, depression, hopelessness, etc. Because of the pandemic, we couldn't distract ourselves with our standard mode of busyness. Life gave us the downtime to really explore and question what is important to each of us. The gift of the global-pause let us investigate our way of being and decide if we liked how we were living our lives. It brought up lots of questions for many folks—How do we want to spend our time? What are we tired of doing? Who do we want to spend our lives with going forward? What would we like to do differently? The pandemic has been a deep spiritual dive into reassessing how we want to be in the world. 

WOW: "Global Pause" I absolutely love that! What are you working on now? What can we look forward to next? 

Michele: I'm working on two more books! My next book is a guidebook for when someone is asking for answers, but their inner-wisdom seems cloudy, and they could use some concrete guidance. And, the second book is a daily devotional of sorts. Many of my clients want spirituality to be a more significant part of their life, and this book will act as a touchstone to start their day. 

WOW: Oh I can't wait! So, if you were to send a message to anyone who may read your book, what would you tell them? 

Michele: I wish people could see themselves as their Soul sees them—beautiful, valuable, worthy, magnificent, unique, and exquisite. I want to foster this feeling in everyone—a combination of self-love, trusting in this benevolent Universe, and knowing the value of your existence to the whole.

WOW: How inspiring is that! Thank you so much for your time today!

 ----- Blog Tour Dates 

March 29th @ The Muffin 
What goes better with coffee in the morning than a muffin? Join us on the WOW blog today and celebrate the launch of Michele Sammons' book The Little Book of Big Knowing. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book too. 

March 30th @ Margay Leah Justice
Visit Margay's blog today to see her spotlight and review of The Little Book of Big Knowing by Michele Sammons.

March 31st @ Create Write Now 
Today, author Michele Sammons shares a guest post on the subject of consciousness. 

April 1st @ Editor 911 
Join Margo as she shares a guest post by Michele Sammons about energy and how it influences your creative process. 

April 2nd @ Balance and Joy
Visit Sheri's blog today to see her spotlight and review of The Little Book of Big Knowing by Michele Sammons.

April 3rd @ A Storybook World
Deirdra will be showcasing The Little Book of Big Knowing by Michele Sammons.

April 5th @ While I Was Reading 
Join Ramona as she reviews Michele Sammons' book The Little Book of Big Knowing. 

April 8th @ Deborah Adams 
Join Deborah as she shares a guest post about Spirit by Michele Sammons, author of The Little Book of Big Knowing

April 10th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion
Linda features author Michele Sammons book The Little Book of Big Knowing.

April 11th @ Knotty Needle 
Judy shares her insights into Michele Sammons' soul-inspiring book The Little Book of Big Knowing. 

April 12th @ Freeing the Butterfly 
Visit the Freeing the Butterfly blog today and read Michele Sammons' guest post on the spiritual path. 

April 14th @Beverley A Baird's Blog 
Join Beverley as she shares Michele Sammons' guest post on mindfulness. 

April 15th @ The Frugalista Mom 
Join Rozelyn as she shares a guest post on manifestation by Michele Sammons, author of The Little Book of Big Knowing

April 15th @ Choices 
Join Madeline at her blog Choices today where she shares a guest post by Michele Sammons about consciousness. 

April 16th @ Author Anthony Avina 
Join Anthony as he shares his thoughts about Michele Sammons' book The Little Book of Big Knowing

April 16th @ The Faerie Review 
Visit Lily's blog today and read Michele Sammons' guest post about meditation. 

April 18th @ It's Alanna Jean 
Visit Alanna's blog today as she reviews Michele Sammons' book, The Little Book of Big Knowing. 

April 20th @ Coloring Outside the Lines
Join Cara as she reviews Michele Sammons' book The Little Book of Big Knowing.

April 21st @ Speaking of Spirit 
Join Linda as she shares Michele Sammons' guest post on spirit guides. 

April 23rd @ A Writer's Life 
Join Caroline today as she shares a guest post by author Michele Sammons on intuition. 

April 23rd @ ReadingGirlReviews 
Gina shares her thoughts on Michele Sammons' book The Little Book of Big Knowing. 

April 24th @ CK Sorens Blog 
Visit Carrie's blog today and read a guest post by author Michele Sammons on the topic of meditation. 

April 25th @ Strength 4 Spouses 
Join Wendi as she reviews Michele Sammons' inspiring book The Little Book of Big Knowing 

April 27th @Beverley A Baird's Blog 
Visit Beverley's blog again as she reviews author Michele Sammons' inspiring book, The Little Book of Big Knowing

April 28th @ Books Beans and Botany 
Visit Ashley's blog today as she reviews author Michele Sammons' book, The Little Book of Big Knowing

April 29th @ Strength 4 Spouses 
Join Wendi as she shares a guest post by Michele Sammons about present-moment awareness. 

April 30th @ My Question Life 
Join Kara as she interviews author Michele Sammons about her book The Little Book of Big Knowing

May 1st @ CK Sorens Blog 
Join Carrie again as she reviews author Michele Sammons inspiring book, The Little Book of Big Knowing

May 2nd @ Shoe's Seeds & Stories 
Visit Linda's blog today where she reviews The Little Book of Big Knowing by Michele Sammons.

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

Enter to win a copy of The Little Book of Big Knowing by Michele Sammons for yourself. Enter via the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway ends at 11:59pm CST on April 11th. Winner will be announced the next day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Interview with Sue Hann, Runner Up in the WOW! Q1 Creative Nonfiction Contest

Sunday, March 28, 2021


Sue Hann is a psychologist and writer living in London. Her work was long-listed for the Spread the Word Life Writing Prize 2020. She won the Diana Woods Memorial Award Summer/Fall 2020. Her writing has been published in journals such as Popshot Quarterly, Longleaf Review, Multiplicity Magazine, Brevity Blog and Litro Online, as well as various flash fiction anthologies including Palm Sized Press Vol. 3. You can find her on Twitter @SYwrites. 

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

WOW: “Exit Wounds” is a great example of a braided essay. What inspired you to use these two separate events to illustrate the mental and physical anguish one goes through with infertility treatments? 

Sue: Well thank you first of all for saying that. In this short essay, I was playing with the idea of bodies, and the sense of something being done to one’s body, and the body being outside of one’s control. I was reflecting on the different times in my life that I encountered these feelings. I think the body is an endlessly fascinating way in to our psychological landscape. There was something about this childhood incident with the sea urchin that resonated with my experience of infertility treatments, particularly this idea of the medical gaze, so to speak -- being seen as a body part to be operated upon or treated, and as the owner of this body part, one comes second to this. I also liked playing with the motif of a body being pierced in some way, whether that was the sharp quills of a sea creature or a medical needle. 

WOW: Yes, there are so many layers to unravel in the essay and you did such a great job with all the vivid imagery. What has your path to writing creative nonfiction been like and can you describe the first piece of writing you ever had published? 

Sue: I started off with academic writing in my professional life. There, I had the comfort and clarity of expected structures and formats, as well as being able to hide behind ‘academese’. It was a real shift to writing in my own personal voice for creative non-fiction. For me, I had to divest myself of my professional persona and the expectations that come with this. It was only when I let that go, and separated up those roles of professional persona versus private self that I could access a more authentic and vulnerable voice. When I had my first piece of creative nonfiction published, I had such a sense of achievement but also of recognition, that this private self had been allowed out of its box. 

WOW: Although I'm sure it was scary it first I imagine it was a freeing experience for you. “Tips for Giving Feedback in Nonfiction Writing Groups” is an illustrative piece describing how difficult it can be to find a writing critique group. If a writer has a bad experience with one, do you recommend pursuing finding one or going solo? 

Sue: I think critique groups are invaluable for learning as a writer. I have learned so much about how to give feedback and how to receive feedback from the process of being a member of different groups. However, I think giving and receiving feedback on creative non-fiction has its differences to feeding back on fiction. I have had some unhelpful experiences in non-fiction feedback groups which is what inspired this piece of writing. As a reader, when giving feedback it is so important to engage with what the writer is trying to do, and not what you would have done with the piece. I have persevered and now feel very lucky to have a number of wonderful, thoughtful first readers for my work. 

WOW: That all makes sense. What advice would you give to writers interested in writing creative nonfiction but are unsure of where to start? 

Sue: I started off writing flash fiction and then flash nonfiction. I think the flash format is a great place to start because its brevity means that it’s not too intimidating. Starting off studying shorter pieces of writing made it feel more accessible to me and easier to fit in around the rest of my life. Also, because they can be written quickly, it can be great to get positive feedback from others on a complete piece, and entering competitions like WOW can be a great confidence boost, as it was for me. 

WOW: Do you also read nonfiction in addition to writing it? If so, what are some resources/books you can recommend for other writers? 

Sue: Yes, I love reading nonfiction. There has been some amazing nonfiction coming out of Ireland in the past few years. I loved Constellations by Sinead Gleeson, and Notes to Self by Emily Pine, and most recently, I was blown away by Doireann Ni Ghriofa’s nonfiction book A Ghost in the Throat. I can’t recommend these books highly enough to anyone who enjoys reading nonfiction but also to budding or experienced writers of nonfiction as all three titles use different structures and formats to tell a story.

WOW: Thank you for sharing those great titles with us! Congratulations on such a well-written piece once again and we look forward to reading more of your work. 
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A Change

Saturday, March 27, 2021

It's no secret, I've loved Cheryl Crow since back in the day when people purchased compact discs and put them on repeat in their boom boxes! I was already smitten back in 2002 when I pre-ordered a copy of the Soak Up the Sun CD and listened to it all the way to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for spring break and then all the way back home to Rhinelander, Wisconsin. I'd smile so big while singing along with the sultry singer/songwriter "I've got a crummy job..." and "I'm still the king of me..." oh those were the days.

Fast forward to today's technology driven world (don't worry, I still have my old CD's in a case although my boom box has been retired) and I can listen to the wise words of Crow while vacuuming. My oldest daughter even taught me how to create an Apple playlist and my pre-teen son showed me how to adjust the volume right on my watch - who knew? I was supposed to be working on my writing earlier this week and nothing was clicking, so like any mother of 6 I took a break to clean my house. If there's ever a sure thing with this many people in a house - it's the fact something is going to be dirty and need cleaning. Even if you just cleaned, trust me...there will be SOMEthing in need of attention. 

So...this song comes through my ear buds:


Cheryl was singing to me... 
I had dusted through Everyday was a Winding Road but it was this prompt to change that really struck a cord with me (pun intended...what would you expect from a writer who supports herself as a musician?). Maybe it was the chasing dragons with plastic swords line I could most relate to that day as I moved all the toys so I could dust the bookshelf, but the thought that popped in my head was this:

Maybe I'm not out of ideas. Maybe my talent hasn't faded.


Maybe I just need to make a few changes to spark my inner writer!


I started thinking pretty large scale and had to rein myself in, but some of you aren't tied down to cattle who need to be milked twice a day, children who require endless snacks, and you my friend should be thinking big here. I on the other hand am making plans to change my living room wall color. I'm going to change my office and make it less cluttered. I'm also going to write one afternoon a week in a different location (think beach, coffee shop, etc... ). When I started brainstorming, my husband looked a bit uneasy. I assured him, I wasn't planning on a month long trip to Paris (although, I bet that sure would get my creative juices flowing). 

So... I have a lot of questions for you as our time together comes to a close:

1) What singer/songwriter has been most influential in your life or who comes to mind as a long time favorite?

2) What changes have you made or will you make to help spark some new creativity in your life or your writing?

3) Where is your favorite place to go to be creative and why? What makes this spot so inspirational?


Thanks in advance for the comments! You're Fabulous!!!


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

Shown from left to right:
Delphine riding Honey
Mr. Otto holding Eudora
Crystal riding Marv.
Thank you Forward Farm, LLC 
Crystal is a hot mess of busy-ness who has decided to shorten her bio...

You can find Crystal milking cows, riding horses, and the occasional unicorn (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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Friday Speak Out!: There Is No Such Thing as Time, There Are Only Cycles and Seasons

Friday, March 26, 2021

by Deirdra Eden

The first step to controlling time is to realize that the concept of time, as we have been taught, is only a mortal construct. It is the attempt by humans to exert a measure of control over the natural world and calculate the intangible flow of cycles and seasons. 

However, this method painfully disconnects creators from natural energy cycles in order to conform to the eight-hour work shifts and deadlines of corporate and industrial productivity. Creative people don’t always work within finite mathematical boundaries.

Just like the earth, creativity also goes through seasons. Spring has fertile newness with exciting potential. Summer is the height of growth. Autumn is harvest time. And winter allows you to rest and gain strength again.


Creative cycles can be born through weeks of preparation or instantly when an idea strikes or you wake up from an inspiring dream.

This young creative idea is fresh, new, and exciting. Even though the creative project is in the fragile beginning stages, the creator feels a drive to enhance it and help it blossom into a full-grown creation that will produce beauty and/or bounty.


During this peak time, creators do their best work. You do not feel the panic or doubt of developing a newborn idea. You are often absorbed in the work and can experience adrenaline rushes and extra energy that will drive you to stay up late, get up early, skip meals, and take time off from other activities to work on the project. Sometimes you will have euphoric thoughts about the project and its success.


A creator in the autumn phase of their cycle will often refine work and take time to critique it while at the same time admiring it. This is the best time to refine the work because creators can step back from the work and look at it with a critical eye without interrupting the creative flow. Then creators reap their own harvest and rewards by publishing the creation, displaying it, sharing it, selling it, or gifting it.


A natural end to a creative period is normal, yet sometimes creators will feel guilty for not working on a project or they may miss the excitement of a new project. Sometimes creativity is dormant, especially during times of stress, depression, fatigue, or illness. Sometimes creativity evolves.

Some people call this writer’s block or artist’s slum, but it is part of the natural cycle of creativity and should be embraced.

For creative people this is the time to prepare for the next project. Generally, the better the preparation, the longer the next creative lifecycle will last.

The Natural Cycle

We enter these same seasons and cycles in different phases and contexts throughout our lives and our creative journeys. Asking the question, “What season am I/is this in?” can bring a reassuring clarity to a convoluted situation.

In every phase it is important to remember that this is just a season of your life, and not your whole entire life. Give yourself grace and permission to slow down or pick up the pace depending on what is happening in your world right now and the season of your personal and creative life.

* * *
Deirdra Eden is a social and behavioral scientist and the author of Time Management for Creative People, in which she explores the seasons, cycles, and how to be in the right mind for right-brain creators. 


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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Preciousness of Every Word: Interview with the Mostly-Poet Olivia Braley

Thursday, March 25, 2021
Olivia Braley is a writer and author of the chapbook SOFTENING. She is a co-founder and Editor in Chief of Stone of Madness Press, and a Reader at Longleaf Review. Keep up with her work on Twitter @OliviaBraley or at her website,

The first piece of Olivia’s writing I read was her poem “Litany of things to remember” published in issue 16 of Emerge Literary Journal, in which she was the featured writer. The poem left me in goosebumps and a desire to seek more of her work. The more I read, the more I wanted to learn about her style, writing process, and experiences as an editor, teacher, and new chapbook author. She has graciously shared her experiences with us. If you haven’t already done so, check out some of her writing and return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: You write a mixture of prose, poetry, and hybrid pieces. How do you decide when to use which form, or, what is your writing process like? 

Olivia: Oh - good question - and one that I haven’t really thought about, at least not consciously! I came to writing through poetry, so even though I write prose and hybrid, I consider myself a mostly-poet. I think often I start writing something that looks like prose poetry in an early draft and take it one direction or another from there. I think the benefit of growing up in poetry is that you get an acute awareness of the economy of language: the preciousness of every word. Words are not just denotative, but also have a cadence, a rhythm, a sound, a history, a feeling. That’s something that is at the heart of all writing I do. I think poetry has the ability to shirk a lot of the logic of prose - to connect images and metaphor through feeling and gesture more than narrative - so if I feel I’m working on something that doesn’t adhere to a uniform logic, that is when I tend to move towards poetry. And I guess I’m often trying to get away from logic. 

WOW: Even your description of poetry is poetic! I love the phrase “preciousness of every word.” Thank you for the insight into your process. Not only do you write, but you provide a space for others to share their writing with Stone Mountain Press. Why did you co-found Stone Madness Press? What has been your experience as the poetry editor-in-chief? 

Olivia: It’s always been a dream of mine to be able to edit a journal - not to keep people out (sending rejections is really the worst part) but to give a platform to essential voices that are not always represented, and were certainly not present to me when I began reading poetry seriously. It was essential to L (my cofounder) and I to give voice to those like us, who may find the “literary world” inaccessible: queer, trans, and neurodivergent people. We weren’t finding a great platform that has this kind of accessibility and uplifting principle at its center, so we made one! My experience as Poetry EIC has been phenomenal. I have a wonderful team and get to read so many talented perspectives daily. It’s really put poetry and these identities at the center of my life which is such a privilege. 

WOW: It’s wonderful that you found a hole in the market, sought a remedy, and created a publication that adds more to the literary world and has given you joy. Tell me more about the decision to focus the latest issue on hybrid writing. Did you see a market need for this, or is there another reason you chose this genre? 

Olivia: I have to credit our brilliant Managing Editor, Cavar, for this. We love reading hybrid but with my comfort being poetry and L being prose and micro, Cavar’s championing of hybrid was such a welcome and innovative addition to our team. We had been getting hybrid submissions before this issue that we had to sort of figure out how to place and we thought rather than trying to force the writing into a genre, we should encourage and give a platform to this writing that exists in the space between. As a journal that has queer/trans/neurodivergent voices at its heart, it was a very natural fit, and we are going to make hybrid issues a regular feature at Stone of Madness. 

WOW: In addition to writing and editing, you’re also a writing teacher. The perfect trifecta! In what ways does teaching writing help or hinder your own writing? Do you teach hybrid writing? 

Olivia: Teaching writing is a huge privilege and helps me consider my work in new ways. I mostly teach poetry, but teaching also challenges me as I try to tailor and curate my teaching to the needs of the students. I have taught to students of all ages and experience levels, and with similarly varying interests in writing, from formal poetry to graphic novel. It really forces me to think of new and better ways to talk about and consider my own methods and approaches. It forces me to continually revisit writing at its most foundational, and hear what others think as well. I learn a tremendous amount from teaching. 

WOW: Congratulations on the publication of your chapbook SOFTENING! How would you describe a chapbook as different from another type of publication? What has been your experience as the author of a chapbook? 

Olivia: Thank you! I think all works that are larger than a single poem or prose piece have to have some kind of logic in its arrangement, some kind of arc - whether it’s a general plot in a thriller novel or the arrangement of poems in a collection - but this pressure feels heightened in the chapbook. It’s lean and the content similarly needs to transition from one idea to the next without being too one-one nor too far-reaching. It gives you the chance to expand upon a single idea or a few themes, but it is not easy to go both deep and wide in such a small format. My experience as the author of a chapbook has been incredible - just saying that out loud is wonderful, but my inclination after this book is to write something really different. I’m concerned with being pigeonholed in one genre or with one type of theme - I’m eager in thinking of future works to do something new and distinct. 

WOW: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us about your writing, editing, and teaching experiences. I cannot wait to see what you create next! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, book reviews, and profiles of writers and competitive sportswomen. She is also a competitive swimmer, a trail adventurer, a dog lover, and a new mom. Tweets at @dr_greenawalt
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Do You Know What Your Story Is About? I Mean, REALLY About

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Thinking up a story idea is simple. You’re staring off into space, or maybe a bizarre lovers' scene plays out in front of you, when wham-o! Now you have the spark, a gem of shining brilliance, and you know exactly what you want to write about. It’s a sultry romance! No, it’s more of a Gothic romance… or really, it could be a time-traveling horror story. 

Holy bunches of plots, Writer! What’s your story? Really? 

I’ve been test-writing the Save the Cat! beat cards recently and in the midst of my outline and the beats, I started re-thinking my story genre (according to the Save the Cat!’s ten genres). More specifically, I began to think that what I’d originally assumed my story to be about (“Dude with a Problem”) wasn’t really what my story was about at all. (You can see what I finally figured out in “Save the Cat! Saves the Writing Day!” over on my personal blog.) 

But why does that matter? After all, it’s my story, I can write what I want. That’s what writers do, right?

Well, sort of. That is, we can write what we want, but we also make a promise of the premise and that includes our story genre; we make a bargain with our readers from page one. And though we can throw in plot twists and turns, red herrings and unreliable narrators, and yes, write whatever we want, there are certain expectations our readers will have, and we’d better deliver. 

So it actually does matter very much, this knowing what your story is about. There are elements you’ll need in a plot, depending on the genre. Doesn’t mean you have to write them the same way and that’s where the fun comes in. 

Horror novels, for example, often begin with a strong sense of foreboding, settings on the moors, or in secluded, broken-down inns, characters oozing evil, promises of something dark and sinister to come.

However, horror can also begin with sunshine and suburbs, as Stephen King has demonstrated. But King is a master at inserting nuances of horror, a moment just a tick off, in the midst of a seemingly ordinary day so that the reader knows. The reader knows something bad is coming

Now let’s say a writer has fifty pages of happy little puppies frolicking in a field, unicorns blowing rainbow bubbles out of their…er, horns…and then on page 51, out of the blue, a monster squashes all the puppies and kicks the unicorns to Christmas. Well, then, you’ve got some upset readers. And not just because of puppy-squashing. You’ve duped your readers, suddenly switching genres, and that’s not good. 

It’s not always that obvious, mucking about with a story genre. But still, one can write an entire novel, thinking it’s one thing (like a “Dude with a Problem”) when halfway through it’s something else (like “Monster in the House”). And when one is muddling about in the middle of a plot that’s not working, it could very well be that one has lost the way of the story. 

Which is why it’s a very good thing to know what your story is about from the beginning. There are lots of opinions on how many genres/plots there are, from five to twenty, and you can find plenty of crafting-your-story books to investigate the elements of each plot/genre. Or you can take a look at the Save the Cat! genres (my favorite!) with the added benefit of included examples and beat sheets. 

But wherever you look, I hope you’ll open your mind to the possibility that what you thought your story was about may not be what it’s about at all, and then see where it leads. Take a deep dive and think, think, think, maybe even stare into space a bit. Because it’s a lot simpler to figure out plotting ideas and story genres before you actually write the whole blamed book.

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Interview with Teresa Boardman: 2020 Fall Flash Fiction Contest Third Place Winner

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Teresa’s Bio: 

Teresa Boardman’s writing background has largely consisted of legal documents and summaries, policy and procedure manuals, and codes and rules. She started entering flash fiction contests in 2018 to break up the monotony of anything-but-creative writing. She enjoys flash fiction as it gives a vignette in time and often leaves just a bit of uncertainty for the reader to interpret. Teresa is a French Classically trained chef, plus holds a B.S. in Accounting and spent eight years as a Tax Auditor. She describes this transition as going from “cookbooks to cooked books.” She considers herself a multimedia artist who sometimes paints with words and hopes to add published books to her list. Teresa has lived outside the Chicago area since 2019, but considers the Oregon Coast her home. 

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

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Fall 2020 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story? 

Teresa: I had just watched The Vast of Night which captures the era of 1950’s science fiction movies when I received a prompt for a science fiction piece, featuring a lighthouse and a rice cooker. I found myself wondering what a little green man would think about this planet and the fanfare over LGM. As I started to weave the elements together, I tried to capture the solitude and loneliness of the main character, but also the hope. I wanted to be careful not to express his viewpoint in human terms. 

WOW: What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece? 

Teresa: This is one of my favorite pieces. The themes of solitude and loneliness and being left behind struck to the heart of where I was when I wrote it. What probably surprised me the most was the element of hope mingled with longing. It showed me I do have a ray or two of sunshine tucked away. 

WOW: I love the way that our own writing can surprise and even delight us sometimes. Your bio mentions that you’re a multimedia artist. Please tell us more about being a “multimedia artist who sometimes paints with words.” 

Teresa: Creative endeavors have always been in my blood. I started writing in grade school and pursued art in high school. I work in photography, painting, decoupage, polyresin, and concrete. I was a chef and pastry chef for over 20 years. I like tactile art. Working with words is so much more difficult. But there is enormous satisfaction when others see your vision. When I write, I have a message that I want to convey in a specific way. I am a student of the conservation of words. I don’t always get it right, but I am not one to add in extra explanations and descriptions for word count. 

WOW: Sounds like a perfect outlook for a flash fiction writer! What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it? 

Teresa: I am reading The Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. My son recommended it to me and I was instantly a fan. It is tightly written with a very unique take on terraforming and the fate of the human race. You can feel the scenes without an excess of words. 

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

Teresa: Find a mentor. You need to build confidence in the writing, but also to learn how to get published. Otherwise, it is just a dream journal. 

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

Teresa: The hardest thing to do is to start getting feedback. This contest (and others like it) offer the greatest opportunity to receive that feedback. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone out there who hovers over the submit button to follow through. And do it again. 

WOW: Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses, and for following through by pressing that submit button! Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, book reviews, and profiles of writers and competitive sportswomen. She has a master's degree in Creative Writing: Prose from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England and a doctorate in Adult Education from Penn State University. She is also a competitive swimmer, a trail adventurer, a dog lover, and a new mom. Tweets @dr_greenawalt.
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The Invisible Vegan Blog Tour

Monday, March 22, 2021
We are excited to announce a unique blog tour featuring the film The Invisible Vegan, an eye-opening documentary that we are so honored to share with you.

About the Film

The documentary begins with the personal story of Jasmine Leyva, a 30-year-old Black actress and filmmaker currently based in Los Angeles. Over the past seven years, Leyva has committed herself to veganism, both in lifestyle and research. Taking Leyva’s unhealthy childhood growing up in Washington, DC as a point of departure, the film interweaves her narrative with the professional and personal experiences of a prominent group of vegan activists. The film integrates interviews with popular culture luminaries including Cedric the Entertainer (actor and comedian), John Salley (former NBA player and wellness advocate), and Clayton Gavin (aka Stic of the hip-hop duo Dead Prez).

Statement by the Director, Jasmine Leyva

The Invisible Vegan is my first feature length film documentary project, and its emergence stems not only from my commitment to veganism, but also my investment in the possibilities of film as a medium for raising awareness, inspiring consciousness, and creating collective social experiences. It is my hope that the film will receive the widest possible audience, and catalyze productive debates about the future of food in African-American culture. I feel tremendously privileged and humbled to be working with a group of talented people whose opinions do not always reflect my own, but nonetheless, sustain the very spirit of dialogue on which this film is premised.

You can watch the film right now on TubiTV and stream on Amazon Prime.

About Jasmine Leyva

Activist, actress, and documentary filmmaker, Jasmine is passionate about veganism, social justice, and telling her own stories. With a Bachelor of Arts in TV, Film and Media and a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting, Jasmine is unapologetically an artist. She has worked as an associate producer on a NAACP-winning docuseries entitled Unsung and has written and produced for Being, a docuseries highlighting dynamic entertainers in film and music.

Jasmine ultimately decided to let go of her nine-to-five and focus on her goals with no boss except for her own creativity. She went on to produce her own feature-length documentary, The Invisible Vegan, a film that chronicles her personal experience with plant-based eating. The film also explains how plant-based eating is directly linked to African roots and how African-American eating habits have been debased by a chain of oppression.

You can find her online at:


--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today! What inspired you to create the documentary The Invisible Vegan

Jasmine: There were a lot of health documentaries coming out, and as much as I loved them, most of them revolved around white men. I grew tired of seeing people of color tokenized or brought in as the person that needed to be shown the way, while ignoring people of color that paved the way. So I was inspired to create a film that gave people like myself a sense of pride. 

WOW: I loved what you said in a recent interview with Authority Magazine, where you said, "It was at that moment that I told myself to stop waiting for other people to give me permission to do what I love." So often creative artists have a hard time giving themselves permission to pursue their passions. How did it feel to finally pursue your passions? 

Jasmine: Everybody has rockstar dreams when they are young, but if you don't come from privilege, adulthood has a way of humbling you and your career expectations. During that process, you have to make a choice. You can choose a practical life that will provide more stability or you can sacrifice stability for something bigger. I chose to sacrifice and it's a decision that continues to scare me, but I'll take my fear of the unknown over unhappiness any day because if I was married to a career I hated I would just be one more miserable person in traffic and that's my biggest fear. 

WOW: I completely agree - unhappiness is far worse than fear of the unknown. I was also so inspired by the grassroots efforts you did for putting together the resources to make your film! What advice do you have for people who are afraid to put themselves out there due to lack of help or financial resources? 

Jasmine: True art doesn't come from money alone. Art comes from creativity, and not having everything gift wrapped for you on a platter, should push your creativity to max, not hinder it. Not to mention we all walk around with unlimited knowledge in our pockets. If you want to know how to make a film with a lack of resources, Google has thousands of answers. And if the first hundred suggestions don't work, try the next hundred. That's the kind of spirit that will get a film made no matter how much is in your bank account. 

WOW: How inspiring! You've become an incredible activist for health, social justice, and veganism. What have you learned about putting your voice and your message out there? 

Jasmine: It takes bravery to put yourself out there because the moment someone disagrees with you they are ready to cancel you or unfollow you. It's really childish. I've done work on myself where I no longer need people to agree with me, but a lot of people do not know how to lovingly accept an opinion that is different than their own. So as a voice in this space, it was important for me to learn when to walk away. My job is only to convey the message, not force people to accept it and when I sense a person being negative to new ideas, I just politely unplug. 

WOW: It is a huge challenge to do that, and good for you for knowing how! Why do you think it's important for there to be diversity in storytelling (whether that storytelling is through film, art, or literature)? 

Jasmine: When stories are told through the same lens, not only does it get boring, it does a disservice to the population by limiting their perspectives about different groups. Even in fiction, art and truth are linked and when artists continuously create worlds without people of color, people with disabilities, people with larger bodies and LGBTQ members, art loses its beauty and becomes a damaging lie. 

WOW: Yes! That's absolutely right. Can you tell us a little bit about what you are working on now? 

Jasmine: I am currently working on a documentary about food disorders and I chose this topic because the narrative has been culturally hijacked. We know so much about the size 0 white woman with anorexia, whose parents had money to send her to a treatment facility, but nothing about the size 16 woman of color binge-eating to deal with the traumas she is going through at home. It's important that we find ways to retell a lot of the stories we have been told over the last few decades to include everyone who was left out.

WOW: I can't wait to see what you come out with next. Thank you again for joining us today!

-----Blog Tour Dates

March 22nd @ WOW! Women on Writing
Join us today when we celebrate the launch of our very first virtual film tour featuring Jasmine Leyva's eye-opening documentary, The Invisible Vegan. Find out more about this incredible film, read an interview with the director, and find out how you can stream it.

March 22nd @ Plant to You
Check out Carleigh's blog for her recommendation of The Invisible Vegan.

March 24th @ The Faerie Review
Find out more about the documentary The Invisible Vegan and how you can stream it online today.

March 27th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion
Visit Linda's blog where she reviews Jasmine Leyva's film The Invisible Vegan.

March 28th @ Lady Unemployed
Visit Nicole's blog today where Lisa Jones is a guest reviewer and shares her thoughts of Jasmine Leyva's documentary The Invisible Vegan.

March 29th @ AJ Sefton's Blog
Join AJ as he reviews the eye-opening documentary The Invisible Vegan.

March 30th @ Strength 4 Spouses
Wendi shares her insights into the documentary The Invisible Vegan

March 31st @ Merc With a Movie Blog
Visit this movie blog today and find out their review of The Invisible Vegan.

April 2nd @ Knotty Needle
Seeking to transform her own eating habits, blogger Judy Hudgins shares her insights about the documentary The Invisible Vegan. 

April 2nd @ Brookes Bookstagram
Visit Brookes Instagram page today to read her review of The Invisible Vegan.

April 5th @ Michelle Cornish' Blog
Join Michelle as she reviews the documentary The Invisible Vegan

April 7th @ Sioux's Page
Sioux shares her own insights into the documentary The Invisible Vegan.

April 10th @ Empish J. Thomas
Read an insightful review today of Jasmine Leyva's documentary The Invisible Vegan.

April 12th @ Look to the Western Sky
Join Margo as she shares her insights into the film The Invisible Vegan and interviews the director Jasmine Leyva.

April 15th @ Wild Hearted
Join Ashley as she reviews the film The Invisible Vegan

April 16th @ Diary of a Smart Chick
Join Kathryn as she reviews the eye-opening documentary The Invisible Vegan.

April 18th @ Leafy Souls
Join the team at Leafy Souls and read their insights into Jasmine's powerful documentary The Invisible Vegan.

April 19th @ Carole Mertz Blog
Join Carole as she reviews the film The Invisible Vegan and shares her insights into this powerful documentary. 

April 21st @ Deborah Adams' Blog
Join Deborah as she reviews the documentary The Invisible Vegan.

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Emmy-Nominated Writer Discusses Her Runner-Up Essay About Her Brother

Sunday, March 21, 2021

We are happy to talk with Debbie Kasper today--a two-time Emmy-nominated writer, comedian, and multiple award-winning writer/performer. Before you read the chat below, please click here to read, "My Big Tree," her runner-up essay in the 2021 Quarter 1 Creative Nonfiction Contest.  

She has written for the seminal TV shows, Roseanne and The Rosie O’Donnell Show. As a solo artist, Debbie won the prestigious Drama Logue award for “Best written solo show” in Los Angeles, and last year, she was honored with the “Best Comedian” prize at the United International Solo Fest in NYC for her performance in Has Anybody Seen Debbie?

Her humorous personal essays have appeared in multiple anthologies and on numerous websites. Her solo shows, two-person shows, stand-up, and her musical, BoomerMania, were reviewed as, “Brilliant,” “A masterpiece,” “Hilarious,” “Fresh, and standard-setting,” by over a dozen major papers across the country. Debbie’s recently published memoir, “You’re Not That Pretty,” & Other Things My Parents Told Me is also garnering rave reviews. She’s already been hailed a “female David Sedaris.”

Debbie is also a renowned comedy and writing teacher who currently lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at: She’s happiest writing and performing her personal creative essays, and spreading joy, one story at a time.

WOW: Congratulations, Debbie, for being a runner-up in the Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest with your essay, "My Big Tree," about your late brother, Reid. It was a wonderful tribute to a brother who seemed larger than life. How did you choose to tell the parts of his life you did? It seems like it would be hard to narrow down such a special relationship and person to 1000 words! 

Debbie: Yes, 1000 words is a challenge, but so is 2000, and 3000--it’s all a challenge. You have to just keep re-writing, and whittling it down. I basically started with my brother’s death, and the subsequent penny in the shift plate, which was all true, and exactly as written, then traced back to what it might’ve meant. I let things percolate; I walk away until something forms creatively, and hopefully metaphorically, and then I go back in. I have many, many more stories about Reid which are in my memoir. He is definitely worth much more than 1000 words.
WOW: I like that you started with a point you knew you wanted to include and let things percolate. That seems like a very good method for writers, actually. Your essay is touching and funny! How did you work humor into this essay and why?

Debbie: I always write from a humorous perspective; it’s in my DNA. I was raised in a very funny household; and having spent several decades working in the comedy industry, I couldn’t take the funny out of my thoughts/perspective if you held a keyboard to my head. I also fervently believe that life isn’t just tragic or comic. It’s a dramatic, but beautiful, blend of both. My greatest compliments come from people who say that I have made laugh them and cry in the same sentence. That, folks, is life.
WOW: So true. I love the moments with my friends and family when I am laughing so hard that I am crying. Tell us about the title of your essay, "My Big Tree." I love it. Did you come up with the title right away? Or did that take some brainstorming? How important are titles for personal essays?
Debbie: Sometimes my titles literally come to me in an instant, and I can write from there. Other times, I write the story, and start searching for what it is, and what to name it. I’ve tried out a few titles for just about every creative essay I’ve written. I’m a chronic rewriter. I rewrite more than I write, it seems. As I was working through this particular story, the symbol of the tree in Yosemite being so big and eternal, and my brother being this larger than life “tree” in my life, came into focus through the storm of ideas. There, they both remain, always standing, always protecting, always eternally with me, even after death.
WOW: So beautiful, and we are so glad you entered it into WOW!'s contest. You have quite a bio, including writing for TV shows everyone has heard of and being nominated for Emmys. So what kind of writing are you mostly doing now? Has the pandemic affected what you are writing?
Debbie: Having “quite a bio” is French for AGING!!! I have a lot of friends, too. Things collect and gather as you spin past decades. I’m currently working on a screenplay based on the story in my memoir about finding out I had a half-sister when I was thirteen, and the impact she had on me—growing up in a houseful of boys, and two extremely critical parents. And ever since I discovered my inner essay writer, I have fallen in love with the freedom of that genre. I like to tap into my rebellious artistic spirit and just WRITE…..
WOW: That sounds so interesting--finding out about an unknown sister. I know that'a a thing that girls with only brothers often hope for. So let's talk about your recently published memoir. Congratulations! How is that going? What are some themes in your memoir?
Debbie: My memoir, You’re Not That Pretty,” & Other Things My Parents Told Me  (perhaps my proudest accomplishment to date) is a collection of personal essays (stories) with the theme of bad advice from parents, and how that tangles me up throughout my life. It’s funny, poignant, and ultimately very tragic at times. It’s really about my indomitable spirit overcoming some very old and limiting beliefs. Children hear everything you say to them from the moment they begin to comprehend, and it gets lodged in their sub-conscience. That becomes the weave of who we are. The feedback has been beyond my wildest dreams, hearing over and over again, that I have moved people, emotionally, and that it's not "just funny." When you perform (which is my background), you can only entertain and move people at that moment. When you publish something, you’re able to reach out and touch someone while you’re in bed, sleeping. I love that. 

WOW: Debbie, congratulations on your essay win and on your memoir. It sounds great--I know we have a lot of memoir readers in our audience (and writers, too). We appreciate the time you took to tell us about yourself and your writing today. Best of luck to you! 

Interview by Margo L. Dill,
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3 Things to Do When Your Routine Is Broken

Saturday, March 20, 2021
A broken routine can yield...
Every morning at 6 am you sit down and write. The kids aren’t up yet. Your spouse is in the shower. You have thirty minutes to put down words. You’ve been doing it for months. But today the words won’t flow. You have the same problem the next day and the next. 

Or you’re working on your latest assignment. You list what needs to go into the article. You rough the body, then the conclusion, and last you write the intro. This is how you’ve done it for years. But this time the piece is not taking shape. Your thoughts are scattered. 

... something new and amazing.
Fortunately there are three things you can do to solve just about any writing problem. 

Step Back from Your Routine 

I always remind my students that what worked on your last book, or even your last ten books, may not work on this one. Sometimes it is the project that demands a new approach. Other times, your energy or environment have changed. Because of these changes, what worked before no longer works. This means your writing routine will also have to change. Fortunately, there is a wealth of resources for you to draw on and you’ll find them by . . . 

Talking to Your Fellow Writers 

Sioux recently posted about our accountability group. One of the great things about the group is that we write different things, live in different places (except Sioux and I who live in the same city), and have different backgrounds. If I’m stuck I can message the group and someone will have a suggestion. 

When I commented on my inability to outline my story beats. Renee pointed out that I’m visual and should try a physical set of cards, or colorful post-it notes, vs working on my computer. Given my love of color and the fact that I bead, knit, crochet and weave, I should have been able to figure this out for myself. But I was hung up on how I usually do things. Talk to your fellow writers. Someone who isn’t stuck in your rut will almost certainly have a great idea. 

Be Willing to Improvise 

Whether we are talking about your writing routine or your actually writing, improvisation is often key. What works for Sioux works for Sioux. Renee’s perfect routine is perfect for Renee. But elements of both can be combined in a new way to create a new routine for me. The important thing is that I keep trying new things until I find something that works. 

And when it stops working, I know what to do. I’ll talk to my fellow writers. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 27 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins April 5, 2021) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins  April 5, 2021). Her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on June 7, 2021).

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