Planned Neglect (Or How I Met My Nano Goal Without Even Trying)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Not to toot my own horn, but here it is, the next to last day of November, and I’m put-a-fork-in-my-manuscript-done with Nano. 

Um…I guess that is tooting my own horn. But I’m going to share how I accomplished my specific goal for this annual writing challenge and if you give my method a try, you’ll be tooting your own horn, too.


Unlike the Nano standard 50,000 words by the end of the month, I tweak my goal to fit my specific need. This year, I had nearly 28,000 polished words of a cozy mystery. I wanted to add 10,000 words in November and develop a doable habit of producing the same per month (approximately 500 words a day). Keep in mind I’m editing and writing so that by the end of November, I wanted approximately 38,000 pretty sparkly words. 


Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “planned neglect.” I came across a reference to it in September, and though there are several versions of the story, the one I read had to do with a concert violinist. 

The violinist was asked the secret to her success and she responded, “Planned neglect.” She went on to explain that instead of doing all the daily tasks that demand attention and then practicing her violin, she flipped her routine. She neglected all those pesky chores and practiced first, thereby insuring that she always did what was most important every single day

Now, if you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about my writing process, you know that I make lists and set goals. It’s a process I apply not only to writing but also to the general running of…well, my life. And though I’m fairly good at prioritizing my daily goals, I realized something, thinking about my To Do List. Namely, that working on something that I really enjoy but that has no guarantee return (say, a paycheck) tends to be last on my List of Things I Actually Do. 

Oh, dear. 

Of course, it’s important to pay bills and meet work deadlines, but I was giving my best hours of the day to stuff I could do anytime and fitting in my writing when I was often tired and brain-dry. And so I reversed that paradigm; I found my optimum writing time and everything else had to fit around that time. Or get neglected. 

I’m not going to lie. Forcing myself to leave piles of junk mail or dirty clothes till the weekend made my hands sweat. Neglecting my inbox till 10:00 at night made my heart race. I’m a wee bit compulsively neat and organized so the whole planned neglect thing made me anxious. But only in the beginning. Very soon, something wondrous happened. 


My creative juices began to fill those spaces where the mundane had taken up residence! I woke up thinking about my plot, my characters, bits of dialogue. Throughout the day, my manuscript rolled around in my head and so without even trying, I’d sit down to write and the words spilled onto the page like water from a fire hydrant! 

By November 17th, I hit my goal. Before Thanksgiving, I hit 41,000+ words; I’m only on hiatus now because of research I need before moving forward. But more important than the word goal was the new habit created. 


Try this method. Take a look at what and when you’re spending your best hours. Plan what you can neglect in order to give your writing the best of you. Follow the plan and your priorities every day. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can form a new habit. 

And honestly, I’ve found that I can live comfortably and downright happily with my planned neglect. (But just for the record, I’ve worn clean underwear every day this month.)

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Book Blog Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway for Nancy King's Memoir Breaking the Silence

Monday, November 29, 2021

We're back again with another blog tour! How touching it is to be part of sharing the moving memoir, Breaking the Silence by Nancy King! 

About Breaking the Silence: 

Secrets. Lies. Silences. Stories told by parents and their families to protect themselves. A father who defends his wife despite her damage to their daughter’s health and welfare. A mother, shielded by her husband, who perpetuates murderous acts of violence against the daughter, and keeps secret her husband’s sexual “play” with the young girl.

And yet … Nancy King, determined to learn the truth of her childhood and the heartbreaking effects it has had on her adult life, uncovers the secrets. Sees through the lies. Breaks the silence.

Empowered by the stories she told herself as a child, she learns to use stories as part of her work as a university professor teaching theater, drama, world literature, and creative expression. Gradually, with the help of body work and therapy, she finds her voice. Says no to abuse and abusers. Reclaims herself and life. Writes a memoir.

She climbs mountains. Weaves tapestries. Writes books. Makes friends. Creates a meaningful life.

This is her story.

Publisher: Terra Nova Books (July 2020)
Paperback: 386 pages
ISBN-10: 1948749491
ISBN-13: 978-1948749497
Genre: Memoir

Breaking the Silence is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Make sure you add it to your GoodReads list.

About the Author:

I was born in Brooklyn, NYC. From the time I was 8 years old, until I left for college at 17, I traveled by myself into Manhattan to take a dance, theatre, or music lesson. After class I was free to wander about the City until I had to leave for home at 4:30. I ate in small Mom & Pop ethnic restaurants, savoring food I could neither spell nor pronounce. Theatre and dance tickets in the balconies were cheap and museums were free. All I needed were two nickels for the train rides, a nickel in case I had to make a phone call, and a quarter for lunch. The City was mine to explore. These years made an indelible impression on me in many ways: I enjoyed being with a diverse group of people, attending a variety of arts performances, and making my way in unfamiliar worlds with confidence and curiosity. 

Early experiences with abuse both at home and school led me to becoming a teacher, writer, playwright, and essayist, always focusing on issues of empowerment. I have taught creative writing, storymaking, drama, and literacy workshops in schools, universities, professional development programs, prisons, Head Start, mental hospitals, recreational centers, programs for children and adults with learning differences, and older adult programs in the US and abroad. 

In 1985 I was diagnosed with a rare and anomalous form of leukemia. When treatment allowed me to think in terms of years rather than months, and ten years after becoming a full professor at the University of Delaware, I received my PhD, in multi-disciplinary studies focusing on literature, psychology, and philosophy. 

As an award-winning author of seven books of nonfiction, my focus has always been on developing creative expression, arts-based approaches to learning, and student-centered learning. I have also written five novels, one of which, The Stones Speak, has been optioned for a movie. The focus in all of my writing and teaching has always been on empowerment. My newest book, a memoir, Breaking the Silence, is about the healing power of stories.

Visit the author's website at

--- Interview by Crystal Otto

WOW: Thank you Nancy for choosing WOW to help spread the word about Breaking the Silence! I'm looking forward to your tour and I know readers are as well. I'm always curious about the behind the story story - so let me ask: How did Breaking the Silence come about? Did you always set out to write a memoir? Tell us more!

Nancy: The short answer is no, but how I came to write the memoir is a story in itself. I have lived most of my life disconnected from myself, a coping mechanism that helped me survive the murderous violence, abuse, and molestation, I experienced as a child and adult. For years I tried, without success, to understand why I made so many bad decisions as I grew up, knowing they were bad choices at the time, but not able to not make them. When I had the opportunity to do a vision quest, as part of a celebration of my 80th birthday, four days and four nights in the wilderness with no tent, phone, or computer, only a pen and journal to record the experience, I signed up, thinking this was an opportunity to reconnect with myself, and possibly better understand how and why I’d chosen abusive partners. During the four days and nights, with no distractions, whatever barrier I had created to avoid knowing the truth of my life, softened. I was able to separate the lies and denials told by my parents and other family members from what I was remembering. Memories from early childhood flowed as if water from a dammed river had been released—painful, clear memories, each one triggering another. By the time I returned to Santa Fe, I thought I would use what I’d learned to write a new novel, my sixth. Instead, what came out were stories of my life. I tried to fictionalize them without success. Disgusted at my inability to write what I thought I wanted to write, about people who weren’t me, leading lives I’d never lived, I sent about 30 pages to a former student asking if what I was writing was worth reading. She wrote back that she was having a hard time, feeling alone, but when she read my writing, she felt comforted, less depressed, less alone. Would I please keep writing and send her more pages? After working with an editor and copy editor, I sent the manuscript of Breaking the Silence to a friend who worked in publishing. She sent it to Terra Nova, a press in Santa Fe, who asked to publish it. It’s now out as a paperback, ebook, and soon, an audiobook.

WOW: Journaling is so important in so many behind the story paths of memoir; thank you for sharing! I know you've done a lot of healing and self-care through all of this, so would you be willing to share some advice for others on how you deal with stress and self-care?

Nancy: I have a nervous system that’s always on high alert—the result of so much trauma. At a very young age I realized that vigorous activity, preferably outdoors, helped stave off depression, anxiety, and feelings of not being good enough. Since moving to Santa Fe when I was 65, to keep my body, mind, soul, and spirit, healthy, I have continued to lead an active life, hiking in the mountains three times a week, as well as other outdoor activities, depending on the season. I have regularly scheduled massages, acupuncture, and osteopathic treatments to aid in my sense of wellbeing. We live in a stressful time. If one is sensitive, which most writers are, I have found that it’s important to find activity that reduces stress and creates a sense of wellbeing. 

"We live in a stressful time. If one is sensitive, which most writers are, I have found that it’s important to find activity that reduces stress and creates a sense of wellbeing."

WOW: Fabulous advice - thank you! My friend heather is a massage therapist and yoga instructor. She's always encouraging me to make more time for that! She's going to love this particular part of the interview! Let's keep going with advice since yours is so helpful: What's the best life or writing advice you've received and how has it helped you? 

Nancy: When I was in London working on a new book, a colleague told me, “Don’t fuss over your first draft. Just get it done. You never know who you want to kill off.” Although the comment made me laugh, what I learned is that my early drafts lack nuance. As I work with my editor, who asks challenging and complicated questions, my writing deepens with each revision. Since I write from a theatre in my head, my editor’s comments and responses make it possible for me to take what’s in my head and put it on the page.

WOW: I love how you describe that - thank you. This is going to be a great question for you as well: What would your current self say to your younger self?

Nancy: I would tell my younger self to keep telling herself stories because they are a source of comfort and empowerment. I would hope this encourages her to keep going despite all the horrors she is and will be experiencing. I don’t know how my younger self survived my mother’ murderous violence, my father’s sexual abuse, my uncle’s molestation for almost a year—all before I was five. I would tell her not to expect her father to protect her—he will always choose her mother. I would be sure to tell my younger self that when I was able to get away from the family, life would get better, that I would have a wonderful professional life, that when I unexpectedly found a triangle house in Santa Fe, I would move there and create an stimulating, meaningful life, where I developed rich and nourishing friendships. 

WOW: Those stories certainly paid off - now you're an accomplished author! Your younger self and your current self should be proud! When did you know you wanted to be an author? What sparked this fire within you? 

Nancy: I was told many times not to tell, but no one ever said not to write. I’ve been writing and telling stories all my life. When a publisher offered to publish my MA thesis, I realized that I could write and be published. After leaving the University of Delaware, where I’d taught for 34 years, and published many professional books, and essays, as well as plays for children, and moved to Santa Fe, I had the time and space to write what I chose—no longer needing to publish professionally. Since then, I’ve written essays, five novels, a book about my work with stories here and abroad, and now, my memoir, Breaking the Silence, which was published in 2020.

WOW: That's incredibly impressive - congratulations! I'm sure it hasn't always been an easy road - so how do you deal with rejection?

Nancy: Oy! Rejection is difficult. Always. But, early on I had an experience where one agent panned my novel and another, loved it. Same book. I learned that taste and experience affect judgment, that having my writing rejected is not the same as me being rejected. I tell myself that what matters, and all I can control, is to write as best I can, and deepen my work with the help of a knowledgeable editor and friends’ frank and honest comments.

"Having my writing rejected is not the same as me being rejected."

WOW: That's incredible insight. What is the most important take-away you want readers to have after they finish Breaking the Silence?

Nancy: I hope readers will think about their lives, the stories told about them by family and friends, and ask themselves: who tells what stories and why? In my case, the stories told about me were fabrications, made up by people who blamed and shamed me for their actions. I hope readers will feel it is never too late to recover one’s authentic self, that it is never too late to create a meaningful life with people who care about you, that it is never too late or wrong to say no to people who treat you badly and refuse to take responsibility for their words and actions. I hope readers will find the experience of reading Breaking the Silence enriching, thought-provoking, comforting, and nourishing.

WOW: Thank you so much for this beautifully thought provoking interview - as our time comes to a close, I know readers will want me to ask: What's next for you? 

Nancy: I am exploring the power of world tales in my life, writing them in a way that I hope inspires readers to think about their lives. Each month I post three Monthly Stories and a world tale on my website: I think my next book will be a collection of short stories. 

 --- Blog Tour Calendar

November 29th @ The Muffin
Join us at The Muffin for an author interview, giveaway, and blog tour launch post for Nancy King's memoir, Breaking the Silence.

November 30th @ Mindy McGinnis
Mindy McGinnis interviews Nancy King about her recently published memoir, Breaking the Silence. Don't miss this engaging interview!

December 8th @ Lost Wisp of Cosmic Dust
Sreevarsha Sreejith shares her review of Nancy King's memoir, Breaking the Silence. Stop by Instagram to learn more!

December 9th @ KnottyNeedle Creative
Judy reviews and shares her thoughts after reading Breaking the Silence by Nancy King. Find out what she thinks about this recently released memoir.

December 10th @ Madeline Sharples Choices
Fellow memoirist Madeline Sharples spotlights Nancy King's Breaking the Silence on her blog today. Readers will be inspired by this newly released memoir!

December 13th @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton reviews memoirist Nancy King about her recently released Breaking the Silence. Readers won't want to miss this opportunity to be inspired!

December 16th @ Word Magic: All About Books
Today's book spotlight at Word Magic is Nancy King's memoir Breaking the Silence. Readers will also hear from Wisconsin student Carmen Otto as she shares her thoughts after reading this insightful story. 

December 17th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
WOW!'s very own Crystal Otto shares her insight into the beautiful and inspiring memoir, Breaking the Silence by Nancy King.

December 20th @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Author Anthony Avina spotlight's the newly released memoir Breaking the Silence by Nancy King. Find out more about this moving memoir and it's inspiring author today!

December 24th @ The Faerie Review
Lily at the Faerie Review shares her book review of Breaking the Silence by Nancy King. This is a memoir about a mountain climbing author who has inspired many (despite all odds)! 

December 26th @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Author Anthony Avina reviews Breaking the Silence by Nancy King. Find out more about this moving memoir and Anthony's thoughts after reading it!

December 27th @ Christy Flutterby
Fellow author Christy O'Callaghan reviews Nancy King's Breaking the Silence and shares her thoughts with readers on her blog. Find out more about this moving memoir and it's resilient author! 

December 28th @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte
Wisconsin mother and healthcare worker Michelle DelPonte couldn't wait to get her hands on Nancy King's memoir Breaking the Silence. Today Michelle will share her review of this touching memoir. Stop at Bring on Lemons to learn more!

January 1st @ Boots Shoes and Fashion
Readers at Boots Shoes and Fashion will be enlightened as Linda interviews Nancy King about her newly released memoir Breaking the Silence. Don't miss an opportunity to learn from someone who has overcome the odds!

January 2nd @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Fellow memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro hosts Nancy King and Breaking the Silence as today's feature book on her blog!

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

Enter to win a copy of Breaking the Silence, a memoir by Nancy King, by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends December 12th at 11:59 pm. We will announce the random winner the next day in the Rafflecopter widget and follow up via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Interview with Penelope Richards, Runner Up in the WOW! 2021 Q4 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest

Sunday, November 28, 2021


Penelope Richards—nicknamed Penny—is a freelance writer and student at Brigham Young University. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and currently resides in Provo, Utah. Her work has appeared in Inscape and Wingless Dreamer. Penny is currently writing a collection of essays on feminism and womanhood. When not writing, Penny works at her university International Study Programs Office. Having spent her high school years abroad in Switzerland and a university semester in Mexico, she enjoys traveling and helping other students explore their world. 

Read Penelope's essay here and then return for an interview with the author. 

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

WOW:  Hi Penny, and welcome! “Unlatch” is such a powerful essay that I know many of our readers will relate to. What was your starting point when developing this piece? 

Penelope: Originally, I wrote about an experience I had when I was a child— the experience the narrator talks about during her confrontation. I really was the kid who was too afraid to touch the sting ray. I used that example to show that I never took risks. But I didn’t know where to go from there. Then, I worked on the piece in a creative writing class and decided to give the story more dimension using dialogue and character development. 

WOW: I love how you repurposed an original piece of work and layered it with another segment to give it more depth. When did you first know you wanted to become a writer? 

Penelope: Pretty much always. I’d like to think I’ve been a writer since I was a child. 

WOW: You’ve had the opportunity to spend time studying abroad while in high school and college. What are some of your fondest memories of those times? 

Penelope: I’m a major swimming and water sports zealot. I loved boating across Lake Bled in Croatia, diving into cenotes in Mexico, and lounging on the beaches of Majorca. But my most favorite moments are the simple ones I share with my family, like hot cocoa drinking contests every Christmas in Germany and snowball fights in the Alps. 

WOW: Ah, that all sounds magical! Shifting back to writing, you're currently working on a collection of essays focusing on feminism and womanhood. What inspired you to start that project? 

Penelope: As a kid, I would write stories about princesses who took boxing lessons and saved themselves from dragons. So, I’ve always been on Team Girl Power. But in high school, I learned just how prolific sexism is. It made me feel powerless. Then came the realization that I could do something by sharing my experiences. That’s what catalyzed the collection. 

WOW: I absolutely love that. Because writers are also such huge advocates for reading, what are three books you could read over and over and why? 

Penelope: "The Merchant of Venice" by William Shakespeare. I first encountered this play in a high school English class. We talked about anti- Semitism in the Elizabethan era and Shakespeare as a possible equal rights activist. I loved that. And I think Portia is a great heroine. "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman. This book is like a surreal fairy tale. It’s simple but deep. When I read it, I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of a wonderous magical world. "Frankenstein" by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. I have so much respect for Shelley. Frankenstein is iconic, and it’s one of those classics that’s easy to read. I like to reread it during October to put me in a spooky, Halloween-y mood.

WOW: That is not the first time I've seen "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" recommended by a winner in this contest. I'll have to check it out! These are great choices, thank you for sharing your perspective behind why they are such great reads. Congratulations again and keep up the great work!
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Giving Thanks for Writing Support

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Photo by wewe yang from Pexels

With November almost over and no gifts purchased yet this year because, well, work and NaNoWriMo, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. But when I was brainstorming what I should write about for this post, I decided to go with good old-fashioned gratitude since we are celebrating a day of thanks. Here are a just a few things I’m grateful for: 

Time to write. Yes, life is busy, but I’m learning to embrace being the mother of teens. You’d be surprised at how much time you get back in your life when they can drive themselves to and from school, to and from sports practices and games, and back and forth from work and friends’ houses. While I do try to attend all their cross country races and track meets, the months of mid-November through early February provide even more time at home to tackle projects because my kids take an off season. Next year my oldest will be away at college somewhere, but we aren’t talking about that right now! 

The gift of the muse. In the past several months, I’ve been blessed with a variety of ideas for both non-fiction and fiction projects, and have produced one new solid short story, a creative non-fiction essay, more than half of a thriller/suspense novel, and multiple podcast scripts and interviews. I’m not sure what has sparked this burst of creativity, but I’m choosing to roll with it as long as I can. 

Podcast listeners and follows. "Missing in the Carolinas" continues to grow organically each week and I have yet to do any real marketing for it. I'm thrilled to have at least 700 downloads within a week of each episode now. I’ve put the title of the show in my e-mail signature, no matter who I’m sending a message to and mention it in passing in as many conversations as I can. My focus has been producing quality work to gain the trust of listeners before exploring sponsorship opportunities, but I believe it’s almost time to put the second part of the plan in motion. Last week a friend suggested I call a mentor of hers in South Carolina to discuss how he crowdfunded one of his books. I mentioned the podcast to him and by the next day, he had sent me a message from him that read, “Hey! I started the podcast and it’s excellent.” Coming from a retired newspaper journalist, this compliment made my day. 

Supportive family, friends, and colleagues. I wouldn’t have it made it this far without the support of so many people. My family picks up the slack with cleaning the house and running errands for me so I can squeeze in time to write, my friends cheer me on from near and far, and my colleagues have been very kind in complimenting me with the work I do in magazine content creation and editing and my creative work. It’s so true that a little support goes a long way, especially to a shy and introverted writer who’s always been nervous about putting her work out into the world. I’m sure I’ve left something or someone out, but these are the main points that were on my heart. I’m thankful for so many blessings in my life, and I’m thankful to be blessed with the love of writing. 

I hope you all have a restful Thanksgiving, no matter how you celebrate! 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who also hosts and produces the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. Learn more at
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Interview with Gregory Ashe, Instructor at Odyssey Writing Workshop

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Today, we are excited to interview one of the instructors from the Odyssey Writing Workshop: author Gregory Ashe. 

The Odyssey Writing Workshop has offered world-renowned workshops for over 25 years and has been an innovator in online classes since 2010. Instructor Gregory Ashe is a longtime Midwesterner. He has lived in Chicago, Bloomington (IN), and Saint Louis, his current home. He primarily writes contemporary mysteries, with forays into romance, fantasy, and horror. Predominantly, his stories feature LGBTQ protagonists. When not reading and writing, he is an educator.

-- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today! Tell us about yourself and how you came to find the Odyssey Workshop. 

Gregory: I found Odyssey after I’d spent about five years trying to learn how to write on my own. The winter before Odyssey, I’d done an online workshop that I found very helpful (John D. Brown’s Novel Writers Academy in embryo), and I wanted more of that in-depth instruction. I did some research about writing workshops and narrowed it down to Odyssey and Clarion, and I ended up applying to Odyssey because I liked the description of the program and the first-hand accounts of past participants. 

WOW: That in-depth instruction is so valuable! You actually graduated from the Odyssey Workshop! What was that experience like for you? 

Gregory: Fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about Odyssey. Being able to set aside six weeks to do nothing but read and write and think about reading and writing was a rare gift, and I’m so grateful I had the chance. I understand that the format is changing, and I think it’s going to be a wonderful way to provide the same excellent material to more people. Jeanne is a fabulous instructor; she’s rigorously analytical about stories and storycraft, and she has an uncanny ability to spot weaknesses—and offer solutions—in your work. Over the years, she’s developed a thorough overview of the major skills and concepts for writing speculative fiction. I say with complete honesty that I wouldn’t be where I am today without Odyssey. 

WOW: What a wonderful experience you had! What kind of course are you teaching this January?

Gregory: This January, I’ll be teaching a course on scene and sequel—but so much more. These two core concepts also touch on goals, character-driven momentum, pacing, conflict, interiority, and more. •

WOW: Oh that does sound valuable! Who is this course ideal for? 

Gregory: This course is ideal for people who find structure, plot, and pacing either difficult to understand or hard to control. Scene and sequel are the mid-level structural units of most commercial fiction, and understanding them—and, as I mentioned above, related concepts—will give writers more control over their writing. This isn’t just for plotters, either. People who ‘pants’ or write without plotting need to understand these same concepts for revision! 

WOW: That's great to hear it's for both plotters and pantsers! As an instructor, what type of common issues do you see students struggling with?

Gregory: The most common issues I see are, probably unsurprisingly, related: first, many writers either don’t understand what it means to give a character a goal, or they don’t know how to execute that idea. If you’ve ever read a story (or chapter) where the character seems to be drifting aimlessly, you’ve seen what that might look like. Many writers also struggle with crafting a scene around a goal and its resolution—a character might have a goal, but the scene meanders, or the goal is forgotten, or it’s resolved without any complication, etc. These really aren’t difficult problems to solve, but you need the right conceptual framework to identify the problem first. 

WOW: That problem definitely sounds familiar to me. For people who are reluctant to take an online course because they aren't sure it's worth the cost, what would you tell them? 

Gregory: The old saying is that if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur. Something of the same principle applies here—yes, writing courses cost money, but that’s because you’re paying for someone to provide personalized, direct instruction and feedback, as well as their expertise. As with most things (brain surgery excepting), people can probably teach themselves elements of the craft, but it will take longer and be more difficult. A good instructor is a facilitator who will help you learn better and faster than you most likely would on your own. Another answer is that money means you have some skin in the game. Ninety percent of writing is a head game, convincing yourself to put words on paper—laying down cash money is a way of committing yourself. It’s also an investment in yourself—if you feel guilty about the expense, think of it as a way of showing that you respect yourself. You deserve it!

WOW: I agree with that sentiment and I'm so glad you took the time to speak with us today about your experience with Odyssey Writing Workshop and your course. 
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Showing Or Telling?

Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Showing vs telling.
Scene vs voice over.

Show, don’t tell.

Most of us have seen this comment hundreds of times, penned into the margins of our manuscripts. We’re being told to create a scene in place of whatever detail we’ve just told. A big part of knowing when to show and when to tell is knowing how each is most effectively used. 

Showing is all about creating scenes. These scenes show the characters attempting to meet some goal and, more often than not, failing. The characters then regroup and come up with a new goal. Scenes pull the reader in because this is where they meet our characters and get caught up in our carefully crafted plots. But showing isn’t always better. 

Telling is a great way to foreshadow. “Beck had planned everything out. There was no way things could go wrong.” Right away we are all on the edge of our seats waiting to see how the author is going to mess up Beck’s life. 

Telling is the way to go for transitions, including when you need to show the passage of time. “After Beck got ready for work” is so much better than showing us Beck’s morning routine, unless that routine reveals something surprising. Is Beck creating a to-do list that includes revenge on the person who messed up his great plan? That’s something you might want to show in an actual scene. 

But how do you know for a fact that you are successfully doing one or the other? That you are telling vs showing or vice versa? 

I was fiddling around online a couple of days ago when I found this Writer’s Digest post by Roseann Biederman. Her test for showing vs telling is simple – if the camera can show it, that’s showing. 

I would add two things and expand on this a little: 

First, think of your camera as having sensory-surround, because showing can involve all the senses. In fact, I make sure that every page includes three different sensory perceptions. That keeps me from only including sight. So maybe you could say “can you sense it?” If so, that’s showing. 

Second, if it sounds like a voice over, it is most likely telling. (Clearly I have been spending far too much time with Save the Cat.) But what do I mean by does it sound like a voice over? Take this sentence as an example: Beck had an exemplary sense of direction. Definitely voice over and if I was the director it would voice over a scene showing Beck making a wrong turn and ending up at a dead end or passing the same land mark time and time again. But, yes, this does sound like a voice over so it is definitely telling. 

Show, don’t tell. Scene or voice over. You need to know how to do both because the correct choice depends on what you are trying to do.


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 30 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.

The next session of her new course, Pitching, Querying and Submitting Your Work will begin on December 6, 2021).  Coping with rejection is one of the topics she will cover in this course.

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins December 6, 2021) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins December 6, 2021). 
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Robert Hoffman's Blind Spot Blog Tour, Author Interview & Giveaway

Monday, November 22, 2021
We're back again with another blog tour! How exciting it is to announce the launch of Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman. Blind Spot is certainly not Hoffman's first attempt at writing as you'll see in his bio, but it is his first time here at WOW! and we are excited to help him promote this humorous work of fiction. Thank you to David Kalish who previously toured with WOW! and sent Robert our way. We love and appreciate referrals!

And without further chit chat - here's a bit more from the author himself about Blind Spot:

In this comedy/drama, based very, very loosely on my own experiences, a middle-aged father of three named Doug Kaplan appears to have it all. An attractive and supportive wife, three healthy boys, and a successful career.  He doesn’t shy away from his responsibilities as a father or as a son to his aging parents, and he is valued and respected at work.  However, all his life he has been plagued by the accusation that he does suffer from one significant character flaw, a subtle but substantial penchant for being selfish, a flaw that he is largely oblivious to.

Doug Kaplan’s life was progressing about as well as he could have hoped for. In addition to his loving wife and family, he and his wife Kelly had finally purchased a house in lovely Seaford, Long Island, and while it may have been a fixer-upper, it was still going to be their dream home.  Despite his selfish streak, which by his wife’s own admission could be off-putting, he might never have found his blessed existence sidetracked, until he encountered the elderly woman next door who proved to be a seemingly unavoidable obstacle.  Who knew that their home on the cul-de-sac known as McGregor Court would be nestled next to the biggest know-it-all and budinsky in the entire Metropolitan area.  Yes, Trudy Fleischmann was a force to be reckoned with.  Emigrated from Germany as a little girl at the end of World War Two, Trudy has known suffering and sacrifice, but she is also wise and caring, and why shouldn’t she share her knowledge and opinions with the young couple who has just moved in next door.

Already having to look after Kelly’s widowed mother as well as their growing family, Doug and Kelly end up seeing their responsibilities increase exponentially as not only does Trudy’s husband Burt die, and remove the one pleasant buffer that lay between Doug and Trudy, but Doug’s father passes as well, and now he and Kelly must provide care for three elderly widows as well as their three young boys. However Doug’s entire existence will become, much to his chagrin, inextricably tied to Trudy after he accidentally runs her over with his car one beautiful summer’s day in a supermarket parking lot. Can Doug overcome his selfishness and provide the care and patience that the badly injured Trudy requires? Doug’s family, career, and sense of who he is as a person are all on the line as he tries to summon his better angels and do the right thing.

The Blind Spot is available on Amazon and Make sure to add it to your GoodReads reading list too.

Who is Robert Hoffman? 
It’s about time somebody asked that question.  Rob Hoffman is originally from a town on Long Island called North Massapequa.  He attended SUNY Oswego where he majored in Communications, a degree that it turned out he had little use for.  He did however meet  the woman who would eventually become my wife, the former Michelle Lindell.  Rob and Michelle lived in the aptly named Flushing, Queens for six years before moving to a town called Clifton Park, New York just south of Saratoga Springs.  Finding little value in his degree in communications, Rob became a social studies teacher, teaching in Long Island City, Queens for four years before spending the remainder of his career in Rensselaer, New York, a small city on the banks of the Hudson River just across the water from Albany.  Rob taught for 31 years before retiring in June of 2021, only to come back as a part-time teacher in September of 2021 at Rensselaer High School.  Rob had always been interested in becoming a writer and he began his blogging career as a contributor at the “Times Union” of Albany for six years.  In this time Rob also blogged for a variety of sites including, Crooks and,, and Knees and  Rob has remained happily married to Michelle for 34 years and counting, and has two grown sons, Andrew and Alex, ages 29 and 23.  Most recently, Rob and Michelle became grandparents to the newest addition to the family, Sam Hoffman, son of Andrew and his wife Katie.

Blind Spot represents Rob’s first true attempt at writing fiction, an experience Rob both fun and exhausting. Rob had thrown around several ideas as he began to think about what it was he wanted to write about, and then one day his wife had sent him to the supermarket on an errand where he saw somebody he really didn’t want to spend anytime talking to, so he raced out of the store, got in his car, turned it on, slammed it into reverse and was about to speed out of the spot when he stopped himself and said, “Dumb-ass, be careful, you could hit somebody.” Then, as Rob began to slowly and carefully pull out of his parking spot, he thought for another second and it occurred to him how ironic it would be if he accidentally hit the person he was trying to get away from and “Blind Spot” was born.  The character of Doug Kaplan, while not autobiographical, is sort of based on the best and worst of Rob’s traits.  Doug is at times the guy Rob always wanted to be, and yet at the same time, Doug also represented the guy Rob was relieved to know he never became. The other characters according to Rob are combinations of people that he knew from his childhood, as well as college and work experiences.

Follow the author online at: 
Instagram: @hoffman_files

--- Interview by Crystal Otto

WOW: Rob, I was impressed with your positive attitude when we spoke on the phone as well as in each and every email correspondence we shared. You seem so upbeat and fun so this is probably a great question for you: How do, a positive upbeat person deal with rejection? I'm sure there's been some along the way - so tell us your secret(s)!

Rob: Well, usually with a lot of ice cream and sobbing. Honestly, at least in regards to trying to get an agent or a publisher, I knew enough people who are somewhat knowledgeable about the business, and their advice helped manage my expectations. That’s not to say it wasn’t frustrating at times, especially since the feedback I received from the many agents and publishers I reached out to was so generic and unhelpful for me as a new author, but I always understood this was going to be an uphill battle, and I was at least smart enough to realize that the rejections were not personal in any way.

WOW: Now that you've wiped those tears, your response begs the question of what flavor icecream although that's probably not relevant here, so let's find out how Blind Spot come about. Did you always set out to write a book and have it published or did you start blogging and it led you here? Tell us more!

Rob: I had been blogging for the Times Union of Albany for several years as a non-fiction blogger, and while I enjoyed the experience, I was starting to feel like it was getting a bit stale. I began to read on the advice of my brother some of the classics of literature, and thought that it would be fun to try and write a work of fiction. The idea for the book came from a trip to the supermarket for an errand at the behest of my wife. It was a beautiful summer day and I just wanted to get back to our swimming pool. I saw across the store an individual who I knew would talk my ear off and keep me from getting home so I raced out of the store, jumped into the car and threw it into reverse. Suddenly it occurred to me just how foolish I was being, and thought about what would happen if I had hit somebody over something so silly and careless. I then thought about what if the person I hit was the person I was trying to avoid, and Blind Spot was born.

My goal was of course to be published, but much more than that, my ultimate goal was to produce something of real quality, or something that would be considered professional. That was the most important thing to me to have people I respect read it, and tell me that it was a serious effort and of professional quality. I did achieve this part of my goal and many have told me that achieving that goal was something that I should be proud of.

WOW: I hope you're proud of your book baby - and that advice was great; it's something you should be proud of! You touched on this before, but tell us more: What have you learned through the publishing process that you could share with new up and coming authors?

Rob: Well, I’m hardly an expert, but I guess I would say that if you really want to have an agent or publisher truly consider your work, it has to fall into whatever is most commercially viable. In other words, if it’s not science fiction, wizards ala “Harry Potter,” “Teen Drama,” or a story that can be turned into a series, then most agents and publishers won’t see your work as financially advantageous to them. You and your book represent an investment to an agent or publisher, and if they don’t think there’s a very distinct market for your book then it becomes very difficult to get their attention. With that said, my advice is to write what you want, and to just keep writing. First of all it’s the only way to improve, and secondly, trying to force yourself to write about something that you’re not passionate about is almost impossible. 

"My advice is to write what you want, and to just keep writing."

WOW: That's such great advice. And now for one of my favorite question: what would your current self say to your younger self?

Rob: I have always tried to overcome my cautious attitude that dominates all of my decision making. It’s really kept me from trying things and being spontaneous, and if I could somehow convince my younger self to take more chances, that would be great, but of course that’s not the way it works. I always wanted to be a writer, and while teaching has worked out very well, I often think how it would have been if I had been willing to move to a small town and work on a newspaper, and work my way up the journalistic chain. Of course when you look at what’s happened to newspapers over the past ten years, maybe my cautious self knew what it was doing.

WOW: Well - I'm not sure that your cautious younger self and my adventurous younger self would have been friends, but that's great insight! What is the most important take-away you want readers to have after they finish Blind Spot - how do you want us to feel when we close the cover?

Rob: That’s a great question. I suppose it would be great if they believe that all of the moving parts came together and that there was a certain amount of symmetry to the story. In other words, everything that they read in the book kind of all came together in the end. I also hope they see Doug as basically a good guy, and really the type of man that most of us could relate to, and that the dialogue rang true. In other words, I’m hopeful that people as they read the story felt like the dialogue between the characters felt and flowed naturally, and that they were surprised by some of the aspects of how the book turned during the last 100 pages or so, and of course how it ended.

WOW: Now that you're a published author - you get this tough question (and the answer cannot be Robert Hoffman): Who is your favorite author and why?

Rob: From the aspect of whose talent and command of the language I would love to possess, it would have to be Philip Roth. His boldness, his use of language, his ability to cover so many layers of a story, and pass along commentary upon our society are unparalleled over the past 50 years. Whether you are reading The Human Stain, and how it predicted the overreach regarding political correctness or the so-called “cancel culture,” or The Plot Against America where he seemed to foretell the rise of Donald Trump, and the heavy lean towards fascism in the United States, has to be considered two of the greatest pieces of literary genius in modern times. However, my favorite book of all time is Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, which is still the funniest and most creative novel I’ve ever read. If only I had his imagination.

WOW: Who has been most influential during your writing and publishing?

Rob: Without my brother Mark who served as my editor, cheerleader, and mentor, this book would never have happened. My brother was a professional editor for many years and served as the editor for the World Almanac Book of Facts in addition to several other gigs in publishing. He’s also served as a college English professor for over 40 years, so working with writers to improve their skills is something of a passion for him, and I am forever grateful for his help. Of course my wife who always pushes me to do and be better is always an inspiration to me.

WOW: Family is such a blessing - that's for sure! What's next for you?

Rob: Right now I’m involved in several projects. While I retired as a full-time social studies teacher this past June, I’ve returned to my school to teach part-time in the mornings so my wife doesn’t think I’m completely slacking off. I’ve written a treatise for a reality television show with my writing partner and friend David Kalish, (A man you are somewhat familiar with) and right now we are attempting to complete a screenplay for a movie. In addition, I’ve begun my second novel, a work of fiction based on a true story about my wife and a most unexpected surprise she received after she had her DNA tested which I can’t wait to finish and come back to tell you about in a year or so.

WOW: Thank you so much for choosing WOW! and for sharing such fun insight. We look forward to your tour and working with you on future projects!

--- Blog Tour Calendar

November 22nd @ The Muffin
Join us at The Muffin for an author interview, giveaway, and blog tour launch post for Robert Hoffman's The Blind Spot.

November 23rd @ Lisa Haselton Book Reviews and Interviews
Today, Lisa Haselton interviews Robert Hoffman about his humorous work of fiction titled Blind Spot. Find out more about this debut novel and it's author!

November 24th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Readers at Choices will hear from guest author Robert Hoffman with his post titled " Man Plans and God Laughs. " Don't miss this guest post and an opportunity to hear about Hoffman's debut novel Blind Spot.

November 26th @ The Faerie Review
The Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman is the highlighted book today at the Faerie Review - don't miss a chance to learn more this work of humorous fiction by an accomplished blogger!

November 29th @ Word Magic with Fiona Ingram
Robert Hoffman pens today's guest post at Word Magic (fellow author Fiona Ingram's blog). Don't miss this great article titled: "Sorry isn't Enough" and an opportunity to learn more about Robert and his latest work of humorous fiction - Blind Spot.

December 2nd @ The Knotty Needle
Judy reviews Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman for readers at the Knotty Needle. Don't miss this opportunity find out more about Hoffman's humorous work of fiction!

December 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird
"Do I Have a Story to Tell" is today's post at Beverley A. Baird. This post is penned by none other than Robert Hoffman who recently released Blind Spot, a humorous novel readers are raving about! Don't miss your chance to learn more from Hoffman himself!

December 4th @ Author Anthony Avina
Readers at Anthony's blog will delight in today's guest post "Woulda Coulda Shoulda" by author Robert Hoffman. Don't miss this guest post and opportunity to learn more about Hoffman's new book Blind Spot. Stop back in a few days (on the 11th) to read Author Anthony Avina's review of "The Blind" spot as well!

December 7th @ World of My Imagination with Nicole Pyles
Readers at World of My Imagination are in for a special treat! Not only is Nicole going to review Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman, but she also will be offering a giveaway! This is your chance to learn more about this humorous book and maybe even snag a copy of your own!

December 9th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Crystal Otto reviews Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman for readers at Bring on Lemons - Otto has hinted that she would give this book 5 stars and said "it made me laugh out loud so often" - so don't miss your chance to hear more about this debut novel!

December 11th @ Author Anthony Avina
Fellow Author Anthony Avina reviews "Blind Spot" by Robert Hoffman.

December 14th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Fellow Author Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her thoughts about Robert Hoffman's Blind Spot. Find out what an accomplished Memoirist and Psychotherapist thinks of this humorous work of fiction.

December 15th @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte
Michelle DelPonte, a Wisconsin mother, healthcare worker, autism advocate, and history buff shares her review of Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman. You won't want to miss Michelle's insight into this humorous book!

December 16th @ Bring on Lemons with 14 Year Old Carmen Otto
14 year old Carmen Otto heard her mom laughing out loud while reading Blind Spot and couldn't help from grabbing a copy to read for herself. Find out what a young reader things of this debut novel by Robert Hoffman!

December 18th @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Wisconsin business owner and educator Cathy Hansen offers insight into what she thought after reading Robert Hoffman's debut novel Blind Spot. Will this be a lemon or sweet lemonade? Stop by Bring on Lemons to find out!

December 24th @ Jill Sheet's Blog
Stop by Jill Sheet's Blog today and hear from Robert Hoffman as he pens his guest post titled "Aren't We All Just a Little Bit Selfish?" just in time for the holidays! Learn more about this topic as well as Hoffman's novel Blind Spot!

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

Enter to win a copy of The Blind Spot by Robert Hoffman by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends December 5th at 11:59pm CT. We will announce the winner the next day in the Rafflecopter widget and follow up via email. Good luck!

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Interview with Eden McCarthy: Q4 Creative Nonfiction Contest Runner Up

Sunday, November 21, 2021
Eden’s Bio:
Eden McCarthy is a writer and massage therapist living in the mountains of Southern Oregon, near Ashland. She is currently working on a book of poems and essays unofficially entitled, The. She loves to write about relationships and their inherent odd, messy, incredible exchanges and miscommunications. Her personal essay about getting vaccinated “The Resumption of Life” was published earlier this year in Sneak Preview, a local newspaper that serves the cities of Ashland, Talent, and Medford, Oregon. You can find her poem “Don’t Ask Me” in a long-ago, forgotten anthology compiled by a poet’s society. Eden has undergraduate degrees in French literature and theater and a master’s degree in management. She is an avid dancer and dog mom and is slowly-but-surely learning to sing and play guitar. 

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

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Q4 2021 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing your essay and how did it and your writing processes evolve as you wrote? 

Eden: I started writing “The Little Death” after my dad died several years ago. He was a functional alcoholic, a narcissist, and a sex-addict type of person whom I didn’t grow up with but spent enough time around to suffer his view of women and loose, lousy boundaries. After his death, I realized his past behavior had surpassed gross – that it classified as full-on-but-not-always-overt sexual abuse. I began to wonder if my early exploration of sex was normal or a result of being sexualized by my dad. Writing about my grade-school sexcapades helped me conclude that the moment-to-moment explorations felt too innocent and natural to have been kindled by my dad’s dysfunction, at least not directly. He lived across the country from me at that time, and I can’t recall him boundary blasting me until I was fourteen. “The Little Death” is the result of wanting to document my six-year-old self-discoveries and claim their normalcy. I feel proud of my early recognition of sexuality and cherish the clear, easy pleasure I felt at that time. 

The first version of “The Little Death” was short, just under 500 words, and was one of my original WOW! submissions. The reviewer found the topic and writing refreshing but wanted better pacing and more information about Soline. Members of my writing group were disturbed by Soline’s mom’s nonchalance (it was real!) and wanted to hear more about France. I set the essay aside, unsure how to apply suggested fixes without ruining the story’s candor, container, and innocence. Shortly after, my home in Southern Oregon burned in the Almeda fire and a serious relationship broke up. I developed other pieces, mostly relationship and fire-themed, and then made the wise and lucky decision to take Chelsey Clammer’s editing class where we would learn techniques to edit our own work. We were to choose an existing essay and spend the entire class shaping it up – I chose to revisit “The Little Death.” By replacing certain descriptions with physical gestures, adding more specific verbs and body sensations, expanding my aha moments, and clarifying that the essay was not meant as erotica, the changes I made created the exact story I wanted to tell. 

WOW: Thank you for so generously sharing your process! It’s so fascinating to hear how authors think about their writing and particular pieces progress over time. What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay? 

Eden: I remember my teen and early adult years as tumultuous and painful; I disliked myself and life despite great friends and therapeutic interventions. Except for an island of time spent abroad in Poitiers, France – 1984-85. I blossomed. Something about how the French honor emotion and sensuality helped me understand that I had value. I learned to express myself in French more directly and confidently than I ever had in English and finished my coursework before the end of the school year. Early completion left me time to travel and study jazz dance in Paris. France had served as an antidote for growing up in an environment that didn’t foster self-expression, self-worth, or self-confidence. When I returned to Oregon to complete my senior year of college, I struggled to hang onto my good reception overseas. Writing “The Little Death” anchored my childhood vibrancy and its resurrection in France. At six, I had preferences and honored them, desires that I satisfied without judgement or restraint. I was sensual, spunky, and ready to explore. Those same parts were seen and acknowledged in France – even welcomed. Learning the meaning of la petite mort connected me to others; even French folks on the other side of the globe died little deaths like I did! I felt real and valid, a human on track for a juicy life. My essay captures that essence so I can recall it if needed. I learned that it’s sometimes needed. 

WOW: Does the book of poems and essays you’re working on have a theme, and what prompted the working title The

Eden: The original working title of my book was All My Men because each piece focuses on a past relationship or interaction with a man. I love exploring awkward moments in male-female dynamics. Early on, I wrote several Taylor Swift-like revenge essays – if a man did me wrong, he got written about! Things shifted when I composed a breakup essay called “The Water Man” that explained how profoundly lost I felt in and out of the relationship – this time without being focused on the guy. The essay contained a compassionate assessment of my emotional damage and vow to find a way back to me. I loved it so much that I renamed my book The Water Man…until I realized my cherished body of work would be named after my toxic ex. On a whim, I shortened the book’s title to The, which made me laugh for its absurdity and potential, and reworked the titles of all my individual pieces to begin with “The” – the something or other. I have succeeded in naming most essays and poems The _____, but it’s restrictive, and the title of a recent essay called “Remaining Embers” doesn’t follow the pattern. We’ll see. If enough time goes by, The Water Man title could resurface. All My Men isn’t horrible either. The still makes me smile, so for now, it’s The

WOW: Titles are so tricky, but can also be helpful to have a working title that speaks to you as you’re writing. Thanks for sharing your title’s evolution! Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you? 

Eden: I have always loved the playwright and essayist Sarah Ruhl. I came across her book 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write while searching her plays for an audition piece. Her ability to take small, daily circumstances and make them bigger or relate them to art and theater inspires me. I bought the book that day and adapted a portion of one of her essays to audition with because she speaks to her readers like they’re in the room with her. Thank you for this question. Because of it, I discovered and ordered Ruhl’s newly published memoir about getting Bell’s Palsy after giving birth to twins. She talks about going “full mammal” with two babies. Another reason to admire her: cool word pairings. 

Since studying with Chelsey Clammer, I have been inspired by Brenda Miller (a fellow massage therapist), Jenny Lawson, Kim Adrian, and Marya Hornbacher, mostly for their ability to take a small or usual event and turn it into something special with the way they put words together. They seem to understand how brains jump around to make meaning from the environment and accept their minds’ messages as valid. Whether narrating internal dialogue at a silent meditation retreat (Miller), trying to find a felt vagina that disappeared off the counter (Lawson), creating a questionnaire to better understand an ancestor and herself (Adrian), or trying on red shoes (Hornbacher), these writers share their mindsets and unique perspectives in a way that feels confident and right because they zero in on details and accept their own experiences and perceptions. They follow their creative thoughts far enough to make sense of them and somehow marry their feelings with their thoughts. 

Chelsey is amazing. I experienced her first as a supportive, thoughtful, and dynamite teacher and just ordered her book Circadian so I can get to know her writing. 

WOW: Thank you for that list of inspiring essayists! I’ve also taken a class with Chelsey Clammer and loved her style! I’m glad you had such a good experience in her class. If you could tell your younger self anything about writing, what would it be? 

Eden: I would hug myself hard and say, “You have a voice and many things to say. You’re you. Just write and don’t stop. Write for you.” When I was in my early twenties, I somehow ended up with the actor Anthony Edwards in the back of my van – Anthony Edwards from the movie Top Gun and TV show E.R. There were no seats in the back or seat belts, so he and his friend (a friend of my boyfriend) fell over every time I rounded a corner. The drive and laughter equalized us until a conversation over breakfast about writing. He mentioned he had been writing more after his breakup with Meg Ryan. I must’ve said something about wanting to be a writer and wishing I could write because I got a confused stare before he said, “You just write.” At the time, I thought he was crazy. Of course, people would want to hear what Anthony Edwards has to say, but I’m just a regular person. I let that thought keep me from writing for several years. 

WOW: I’m glad you’ve broken away from that thought and have been brave enough to share your voice and your story with us! Anything else you’d like to add? 

Eden: I love my life now and thank you. With all I’ve been through lately – COVID, a wildfire-consumed house, a breakup – I appreciate even more the opportunity to write and study writing. I’m honored to have placed in the WOW! Q4 2021 Creative Nonfiction Contest. 

WOW: Thank you for your thoughtful responses. 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. Tweets @dr_greenawalt.
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Authors, Sign Up for Our Next Big Group Giveaway

Friday, November 19, 2021
Are you looking for an inexpensive way to promote your book? Or maybe you want to have a boost in your social media following? Today, I'm excited to announce that WOW is hosting another big group giveaway event with the theme of "The Gift of Reading."

In case you forgot, when the pandemic started last year, we hosted a "Stay Home and Read" giveaway event. We had over 100,000 entries in that event! We featured some amazing authors and shared their books with the masses. 

How a group giveaway works is that we'll be hosting the giveaway on The Muffin and we'll be featuring your book alongside some other amazing books by authors taking part in the giveaway. Not only do you get featured in this way but you also get to add a social media account to the Rafflecopter widget, where someone gets an extra entry if they follow you on social media. Plus you also get included in an e-blast featuring all the books included in this event. 

The cost to participate is $50 per book and $10 of that fee goes towards an Amazon Gift Card for the grand prize winner (so the more authors that join, the bigger the prizes, and the more the entries!). We also ask that you be willing to contribute at least 3 books to the giveaway, however this time we're allowing international entries, so be prepared to send out an e-book if the winner is not in the US. 

The deadline to sign up for this event has been extended to November 22nd. So, please sign up now via this Google Form (and don't forget to share this event with your author friends!). 
Any questions? Leave us a note in the comments!

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Interview with the Founders of Two-4-One Kid Critiques

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Today we are excited to introduce you to an excellent must-have resource for authors of children's books: Two-4-One Kid Critiques.

With Two-4-One Kid Critiques, you double your chances for success! Published authors Gloria G. Adams and Jean Daigneau combine their years of writing and editing experience in this unique service that offers two critique edits for the price of one—picture books through young adult novels.

We're excited to interview the founders today and give them a chance to share their services with you.

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles 

WOW: I’m so glad to tell our WOW readers about your critique service! First, please tell us a little bit about you and your co-founder. 

Two-4-One: Jean Daigneau ( has been published in the adult and children's newspaper and magazine markets, including Highlights for Children and Fun for Kidz, and has sold educational testing material, craft ideas, and greeting card text. Her work has appeared in the Guide to Literary Agents and Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market. Her book, Code Cracking for Kids: Secret Communications throughout History with 21 Codes and Ciphers, was published in October 2019 by Chicago Review Press and was a finalist for a 2020 Ohioana award. Her next book with that publisher, Ellis Island and Immigration for Kids, is scheduled for December 2021 release. She is a former SCBWI regional advisor and is active on her local board. 

Gloria G. Adams ( spent most of her career as a children’s librarian and storyteller. She has been published in books and magazines, along with a picture book, Ah-Choo! with co-author Lana Wayne Koehler, Sterling Children’s Books, 2016. She has three non-fiction titles published through Rosen, Enslow, and Greenhaven Press, along with a recently-launched biography of James Anthony Bailey through her independent publishing company, Slanted Ink.

WOW: Great to hear about you both! Why did you both decide to create this company? 

Two-4-One: We have both been helped by so many writers and others in the children’s writing community. By sharing what we have learned on our own writing journeys, we feel we are able to give back to other writers along the way. 

WOW: How wonderful! What common problem do you see in children’s books that you critique? 

Two-4-One: One of the most basic issues is telling not showing. And in picture books, we often see too many illustrator notes. For many projects we find that there is not enough tension, which we believe is what keeps a reader riveted to a book. Along with that major issue is the lack of character development. We feel strongly that a main character needs to connect with the reader and should be different at the end of the story than he or she was at the beginning. 

WOW: Helpful insights. What advice do you have for authors who want to write children’s books? 

Two-4-One: Don’t quit your day job! Seriously, the children’s publishing world has changed so much since we started writing professionally, and it is certainly challenging in many ways. But our advice is the same advice we would have given more than 20 years ago when we both began. Read, read, read. Read to learn what is being published, read the kinds of books you are writing or want to write, and read books about how to write. 

Also, practice, practice, practice. You won’t get published if you don’t write. And that means that no matter what level of writing you are on, there is always something new to learn. Study the writing craft whether it means participating with a critique group, attending writers’ conferences, watching webinars, or reading blogs and articles on the craft of writing. 

WOW: Reading and practice are great pieces of advice! What types of services do you offer? 

Two-4-One: For critiques, we use a rubric to discuss plot, story arc, character development, dialogue, point of view, setting, and pace. We go into this in as much detail as we feel is needed to explain where we see issues or have suggestions for changes. Some of this information can be very specific and some is general as it pertains to the project as a whole. When necessary, we’ll share our thoughts as to the age level of the story’s audience and how we feel the story and characters fit for those readers. And we sometimes recommend books to read that relate to the project being critiqued. We each offer a critique individually, without prior discussion, and then compile our comments into a collaborative summation as well. 

For revision critiques, we go directly to the manuscript and each make comments about changes made. This service is one-half the price of the initial critique. 

Lastly, we create an annual calendar planner specifically for writers (available on Amazon). This includes a monthly writing tip and encourages writers to set goals and track progress. It also includes additional space to jot notes and a list of resources helpful to writers. 

And, of course, we’re always available to answer questions. 

WOW: Awesome! Who is your service for? 

Two-4-One: We specialize in children’s books, from picture books through YA, but also consider special requests on a project-by-project basis. Our service is for writers of all levels, whether they are new writers, or those seeking agents, and even some who are already published.

WOW Your service is a welcome addition to the writing community! Thank you for your time and we encourage all of our readers to visit their website and find out more about their services.

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Find Interesting Flaws for Your Protagonist with This Writing Exercise

Wednesday, November 17, 2021
While many of you are in the thick of NaNoWriMo, now that the month is a little over halfway done, and some of you are celebrating picture book month, I thought I'd take some time today and share a character flaw writing exercise with you. While those of us who live in the United States are getting ready for a big holiday full of many fall and Thanksgiving favorite delicious dishes, we can all take a few minutes out of our busy November schedules to think about...

What is wrong with our main characters? 

I don't mean this in the sense of you are writing a poor book or a boring main character. I mean that in order to have an interesting book, you need a hero or heroine with a problem and some flaws. Everyone's got them--so should your characters. 

Here's the exercise! If you want to share your answers to step one and two with us for our next market newsletter at the end of November, in 100 words or less, we'd love that! We'll of course give you a byline and link to a website if you have one. Put these two steps in the comments or email them to me with the subject line My Characters' Flaws at Margolynndill (at) 

  • Step one: Brainstorm a list of flaws for a protagonist that aren’t “too bad.” (Think of qualities in yourself or your best friend you might want to change, but aren't the end of the world, if you’re stuck). 
  • Step two: Choose two flaws from your list that you will assign to your protagonist’s personality in a current work-in-progress or soon-to-be work in progress. Now think of three good qualities that your character will also have. 
  • Step three: *WRITING PROMPT FUN*: Pretend your protagonist and another character from your fiction work (antagonist, sidekick, mentor, love interest) go to a job interview for the protagonist. The interviewer asks the OTHER CHARACTER (sidekick/mentor/love interest): "What is the protagonist’s biggest weakness?" Write down what the other character would say. Now give the protagonist a chance to answer in his or her own voice. "What does he/she think about what the other character said?" Let the protagonist respond.
So for example: 

Harry Potter and Hermione Granger go on a job interview for Harry to be a professor at Hogwarts when they are older. Professor McGonagall asks Hermione, "Granger, what is Potter's biggest weakness?" Hermione smiles and says, "Well, Professor, sometimes Harry thinks he has to save the world all on his own. He is stubborn and doesn't want to ask others to help him." 

"Potter," the older witch asked. "Do you agree?" 

Out of habit, Harry rubbed his scar and thought before speaking carefully. "I definitely used to be that way when I was younger. And with my own kids, I probably still am. But now, my biggest weakness is my love for my children and Ginny, my wife. Sometimes, my love blinds me into doing stupid things." 

That's how you do step three of this writing exercise.

Okay, your turn! 

Margo L. Dill is a writing coach and teacher, living in St. Louis, MO, Please visit the WOW! classroom to see the classes she'll be teaching in December and January and to sign up: Writing a Novel with a Writing Coach and Writing for Middle Grade and Young Adult Readers. 
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