October Is National Book Month

Thursday, October 06, 2022
I love October but then I love autumn and chocolate and books. Since 2003, October has been National Book Month. It is sponsored by the National Book Foundation which exists to celebrate the best literature in the US, attract new readers, and assure that books have a place in American culture. There are so many things that we can do to celebrate. 

Visit Your Library 

I adore my library. I’m not exaggerating. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook or read my blog, you are going to see that I post at least once a week about the library. I go there every week and I have a shelf in my office for library books. But I’m always shocked by the number of people who don’t visit their library. 

Don’t drive? Don’t sweat it. Most libraries have an amazing number of online offerings including e-books and e-audio books. 

Your mission, and I’m not asking, is to connect with your library somehow, someway during the month of October. Check out a book. Do it. You’ll thank me. 

Visit an Independent Bookstore 

Now, I’m not panning Amazon. I bought socks there just last week. But an independent bookstore is people by those who love books. LOVE them. Enter and you are going to find display tables about autumn and Halloween. You’ll find local interest. You’ll find staff recommendations. 

The best thing about independent bookstores is that they aren’t carbon copies of each other. Each one is different. Plop me down in Front Street Books in Alpine, Texas or Subterranean Books in University City, Missouri and I will know exactly where I am. 

You have a second mission now. Visit a bookstore, preferably an independent. Come on. You know you want to do it. 

Post About Books 

Don’t forget that part of the mission of the National Book Foundation is to expand readership. One way to do this is to post about the books that you love. Take a selfie of yourself reading an amazing book and share it on Twitter. Capture the cover of a book you loved reading and post it on Facebook. And when you do, link to the author. Media savvy authors will respond, like it, and share it. 

When you are on social media, look for posts about books. If one looks interesting, like the post, comment on it, and share it. This will help spread the word about a book even better than if you created your own post. 

Yes, I’m giving you yet another mission. Talk books up however you can. You can do it online and, for extra points, in person. Engage with people and you may discover your next favorite book. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 35 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 November 6, 2022).  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 November 6, 2022) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins November 6
, 2022). 
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Three Cheers for Idleness!

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Last week, I arrived for my dentist appointment at the top of the 10:00 AM hour and so I joined five or six people waiting. I looked around and almost laughed out loud. 

Every person—young and old—sat with head down, reading or watching the screens on their phones. 

I sat there, pondering. Questions like, “When was the last time I saw anyone reading magazines in a doctor or dentist waiting room?” Or “What in the world are these people reading/watching so intently in this few minutes of waiting?” And finally, “Do people—and by people, I mean people other than me—ever just sit and wait anymore? Have we lost the art of wool-gathering?” 

Honestly, are there many of us left who even know what wool-gathering is? I suppose babies and toddlers are supremely adept at just hanging out, occupying themselves with thoughts of…well, who knows? But it’s not like they know they’re wool-gathering. 

Anyway, I feel like it’s a pretty important skill, this sitting around doing nothing but letting our minds wander. Though I’m not saying we should engage in it for hours on end. Obviously, there are things that must be done, like eating, driving, going to the dentist. 

 And yet, think of the world we live in and how we’re all plugged in constantly, even when we’re doing the most mundane things. Take, for example, the TVs built into refrigerators, or the TV screen at the gas pump or over your head in the dentist’s chair. Or the miniature screen on your watch!

For cryin’ out loud. We spend an inordinate amount of time distracted by media, and though I personally feel it’s an unhealthy practice in general, I’m sure it’s not good for me specifically as a writer. But then again, I’m a writer of a certain age; perhaps writers younger than I who’ve grown up plugged into screens their whole lives might disagree. 

Still, for me, unplugging is a necessity and I’ll tell you why. When I’m doing nothing—like sitting on my deck for a half hour or so—I’m daydreaming and aimlessly looking about. I notice a spider web and think how amazingly intricate it is and how did that spider manage to rebuild that web so darn quick (when I took a broom to it the day before!)? 

Or when I’m driving around locally, I drive in silence. And not just because I need my wits about me, driving in big city/big suburb traffic. I like the quiet time with my thoughts. What am I thinking about? Who knows? 

The point is, I don’t want to be constantly entertained/distracted. I want my mind to be free to wander and perhaps come up with ideas for a blog post, maybe one about a spider. Or I may start out mentally grousing about the driver who cut me off, but I may end up figuring out a plot dead-end. The elderly woman ahead of me in the grocery store line might remind me of an aunt from thirty years ago, an aunt (cleverly disguised) who would hit just the right character note in my work-in-progress. 

So fine, maybe other writers find ideas or work out story glitches or get creative in all kinds of ways on those screens they’re locked into, even for three minutes in a dentist’s waiting room. 

But if you’re a writer struggling to come up with anything lately, why not try a little wool-gathering (verb: to indulge in aimless thoughts or idle daydreams)? Untether yourself, friends, and give a hip-hip-hooray for idleness!

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A Shadow of Love by Amy S. Cutler: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, October 03, 2022
I'm excited to announce the launch of Amy S. Cutler's blog tour of A Shadow of Love. Join us as we share more about this intriguing novel, interview the author, and give away a copy of the book. This is a perfect book for anyone who loves a good ghost story, love story, or a story about healing.

First, here's more about this novel:

When Annabelle flees her abusive husband and moves into an 1860's farmhouse, she soon learns that she is not alone; she shares her home with Christian, the ghost of a poet who killed himself in 1917. Christian, wanting nothing but solitude, tries to scare Annabelle away, but once they come together while she is dreaming, they fall in love. The clock is ticking for Christian, for moments after his hanging his fiance magically cursed his spirit to be stuck on earth for one hundred years, and his time is almost up.

With Annabelle's ex threatening her and the spirit she has fallen in love with on the verge of disappearing, Annabelle becomes obsessed with staying with Christian, and will do anything to be with him.

Being in love with a ghost is bad enough, but for Annabelle, discovering that her true love will be crossing over at any moment pushes her over the edge of reckless behavior.

Publisher: Black Rose Writing
ISBN-10: 1684339402
ISBN-13: 978-1684339402
Print length: 163 pages

Purchase a copy of Shadow of Love on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author, Amy S. Cutler

Amy S Cutler, author of A Shadow of Love, earned her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Most recently she was published in Slut Vomit: An Anthology of Sex Work, and featured in the Tales to Terrify Podcast, among others. Her writing focus is suspense, horror, science fiction, and ghost stories. She can be contacted through AmysHippieHut.com.

You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

---- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Congratulations on your novel! Where did your novel idea come from? 

Amy: That’s a good question – I certainly did not set out to write a love story! I have always been in love with ghost stories and the idea of an afterlife. I have quite a bit of experience with haunted houses, as the house in the story is based on my parents’ house in upstate New York. It began with an image of a woman moving into the house all by herself, and the simple question of, what would it be like to live here all alone, knowing that there is a ghost living with you? The story had no clear path when I began writing, and this love story between a living woman and a ghost just sort of emerged. 

WOW: I'm so intrigued that you based the house in the story on your parent's house! So, what was your revision process like? 

Amy: Revisions frighten me! Revisions create a ripple effect, and one must be so diligent in making sure that any changes made are followed through with. About a third of the way into this novel, I changed the point of view from third to first person. I’m so happy that I did that, but it was a challenge to make sure that every single “she” was changed to an “I.” I had read the pages several times and still found sentences like, “Annabelle gazed out of the window,” when clearly it should have read, “I gazed out of the window.” 

Once I was finished with the novel, I printed it out and read it as slowly as I could, making lots of notes in the margin. Once I went back and made any changes/fixes, I asked a few other people close to me to do the same. After that, I hired an editor and was both amazed and horrified by what she found. Once my book was accepted by my publisher, Black Rose Writing, they recommended the ProWritingAid software, which I personally love and will likely use for future manuscript revisions. 

There were so many eyes on my story, and I had read it so many times, but I was still so scared when I received my very first copy that I would find mistakes. 

WOW: The revision process is such a challenge! Why did you decide to go back and get your master's degree in creative writing? 

Amy: I have wanted to write books for as far back into my life as I can remember, yet I always stopped at short stories. I LOVE writing short stories, they are easy for me and it's pretty much instant gratification. Novels seemed daunting, yet it is always what I have wanted to do. The waves of life make it so easy to forget your dreams. Thinking of this one day, I had an epiphany that if I wanted to truly live the life I have always wanted, I needed a push. Going back to school gave me the push that I needed, and it is the best decision I have made for myself. 

While at Goddard I learned the most important life lesson thus far: Do not ask for permission to be who you are. You do not need anyone’s permission but your own, and while there, I granted myself permission to be a writer. 

WOW: What a fantastic lesson! How did writing flash fiction and short fiction pieces help you write your novel? 

Amy: When I sit down to write a piece of flash fiction or short story, I just write. The idea surfaces, I sit down, and before I know it, the story is finished. When I sit down to write a novel, I spend a lot of time thinking. Of course, a novel is way more involved than a shorter piece – you’ve got more characters, more plot, and most importantly, more words. The benefit of having experience with short fiction is that I have learned to just write; to stop thinking (aka researching, aka procrastinating), and just put fingers to the keyboard and put words on the page. Sometimes I think that if I didn’t write short stories, I would never find the ability to get out of my own head and work on a novel. 

WOW: I love how short stories have helped you! I'm quite fascinated by where you work for your day job! As an Executive Manager of a ski area, does that inspire your writing at all? And if so, how? 

Amy: I think that being a writer inspires how I do my job more than my job inspires me as a writer. Yes, of course the people that surround me at the ski area definitely give me lots of good material and I could base a character off so many of them, but it’s my work as a writer that gives me insight into people. Creating characters and making them multi-dimensional requires being able to see the many sides of people and has taught me that just because a person acts or presents themselves in a certain way does not mean that is all there is to them. It helps with customer service issues, how I deal with a problem or complaint, and just the way I treat people in general. 

Being in a winter business also gives me time in the summer to really focus on my writing life. While we work year-round, there is a lot less pressure in the summer months, and I thoroughly enjoy my more relaxed schedule. There is, however, something to be said for the noise of the mountain during the winter, the hum of the snow guns and chatter of people tend to make my mind wander and nudge me into pulling my laptop or notebook out even on the busiest of days. 

WOW: That's so profound that your writing helps you see people as more complex and not just one-sided. What are you working on now that you can tell us about? 

Amy: I am so excited about the novel I am working on. This story resonates with the space I am in my own life, grappling with large questions of my soul’s purpose. This is a very mystical story, and one of the secondary characters from A Shadow of Love plays a larger role in this still untitled story of reincarnation, a soul’s journey, healing, fear, sorrow, and love.
WOW: That sounds so exciting! I can't wait for it to come out. Thank you for your time and enjoy the blog tour!

---- Blog Tour Calendar

October 3rd @ WOW! Women on Writing
Join us as we celebrate the launch of Amy S. Cutler's book A Shadow of Love. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

October 5th @ Sadie's Spotlight
Sadie spotlights A Shadow of Love and features an excerpt from the book.

October 6th @ Create Write Now
Mari L. McCarthy shares a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about the importance of learning how to self-market. A must-read post for authors!

October 8th @ Life According to Jamie
Jamie reviews Amy S. Cutler's book A Shadow of Love. Don't miss this exciting book!

October 10th @ Amy's Booket List
Join Amy as she reviews Amy S. Cutler's book A Shadow of Love.

October 12th @ Word Magic
Join Fiona as she shares a guest post by Amy S. Butler about the importance of finding a writing community.

October 15th @ What is That Book About?
Find out more about A Shadow of Love by Amy S. Cutler in this book spotlight.

October 16th @ Celtic Lady's Book Reviews
Read a review of Amy S. Cutler's book A Shadow of Love.

October 17th @ Jill Sheets' Blog
Join Jill as she interviews author Amy S. Cutler about her book A Shadow of Love.

October 18th @ A Storybook World
Deirdra features Amy S. Cutler's book A Shadow of Love.

October 19th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Bev reviews Amy S. Cutler's book A Shadow of Love.

October 20th @ Knotty Needle
Join Judy Hudgins for her review of Amy S. Cutler's book A Shadow of Love.

October 21st @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Join Bev as she shares a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about the story behind the haunted house in the novel.

October 22nd @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews & Interviews
Join Lisa as she interviews author Amy S. Culter about her book A Shadow of Love.

October 24th @ Girl Zombie Authors
Read a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about why ghost stories are so popular.

October 25th @ Four Moon Reviews
Join Samantha as she reviews Amy S. Cutler's book A Shadow of Love. You can also win a copy of the book too!

October 27th @ Girl Zombie Authors
Come by Chris' blog again and read a review of Amy S. Cutler's book A Shadow of Love. You can also enter to win a copy of the book too!

October 29th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion
Visit Linda's blog for an in-depth interview with author Amy S. Cutler about her book A Shadow of Love.

October 31st @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Visit Anthony's blog for Amy S. Cutler's guest post about finding a publisher.

November 1st @ Choices
Join Madeline as she features a guest post by Amy S. Cutler about the first draft process.

November 2nd @ Jessica Belmont's Blog
Jessica reviews Amy S. Cutler's book A Shadow of Love.

November 3rd @ Write Advice
Read Amy's guest post about how she found the idea for Shadow of Love and turned it into a story.

November 4th @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Read Anthony's review of A Shadow of Love by Amy S. Cutler. A paranormal book you don't want to miss!

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

Enter to win a copy of A Shadow of Love by Amy S. Cutler by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends October 16th at 11:59pm CT. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget the next day and follow up via email. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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New Words

Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Meriam-Webster recently added over 300 new words to the dictionary. Reviewing the list, I found that I was already aware of most of them—I guess that’s the point. As Meriam-Webster explains on their site, “The dictionary chronicles how the language grows and changes, which means new words and definitions must continually be added. When many people use a word in the same way, over a long enough period of time, that word becomes eligible for inclusion.”

Here are some of the newly added words. I knew some of them from being on social media (“virtue signaling”), watching the television show Parks and Recreation (“Galentine’s Day”), and having Gen Z kids (“yeet” and “sus”)—though “dawn chorus” was new to me:

laggy : having a delayed or slow response (as to a user's input) : marked or affected by lag

virtue signaling : the act or practice of conspicuously displaying one's awareness of and attentiveness to political issues, matters of social and racial justice, etc., especially instead of taking effective action

greenwash verb 1 : to make (something, such as a product, policy, or practice) appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is 2 : to mislead (someone) by means of greenwashing greenwash noun : something (such as a claim or action) that is intended to make a product, policy, activity, etc. appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is

dawn chorus : the singing of wild birds that closely precedes and follows sunrise especially in spring and summer

yeet interjection, slang — used to express surprise, approval, or excited enthusiasm yeet verb : to throw especially with force and without regard for the thing being thrown


janky informal : of very poor quality : JUNKY; also : not functioning properly or adequately : FAULTY

lewk slang : a fashion look that is distinctive to the wearer and that is noticeable and memorable to others

Galentine’s Day : a holiday observed on February 13th as a time to celebrate friendships especially among women

level up : to advance or improve (oneself, someone else, or something) in or as if in a game

FWIW abbreviation for what it’s worth

ICYMI abbreviation in case you missed it

What do you think?

--Marcia Peterson
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Interview With Sally O'Grady, Spring 2022 Flash Fiction Runner-Up

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

I'm excited to interview Sally O'Grady, one of our spring 2022 flash fiction runner-up winners in our writing contest. Be sure you read her story Today is Different then come on back and read our interview.

First, a bit about Sally:

Sally O’Grady has explored her lifelong love of writing in many formats but only recently has she begun sharing with a wider audience. She contributes weekly to her blog, Act 3 Unscripted which includes essays and short stories exploring her observations on life, social justice issues, and the shared human experience. Recently, her short story, ‘After the Storm’ was recommended by Edge of Humanity Magazine. Sally is also working on her first novel which she hopes to complete by the end of this year. In addition to her love of writing, Sally also enjoys reading, traveling, music, art, and cooking for her friends and family. Sally lives with her partner in their home on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Syilx/Okanagan people in Lake Country, British Columbia.

---- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: Your story touched me, and I love how you used the second person as if you were talking about the reader. What inspired this story?

Sally: Thank you so much! I was a young mother and although I never faced homelessness, I did rely on social assistance for a period of time. It affected me deeply that I could be so close to losing a place to live and how precarious housing is for so many. Many years later I worked at a Women's Centre offering programs, counselling, and services to marginalized and immigrant women. Social justice has always been important to me but it was my time at the Centre that gave me a better perspective of what it was like to be a person who our society can so often look down upon solely because of their circumstance. I wrote the story in second person to try to draw the reader into the life of this unhoused person, and feel what it may be like to be ignored by the people you see every day; it then becomes a conversation between two humans rather than an observation that can be more easily ignored. 

WOW: How profound when our own circumstances inspire incredible creativity. When you first started this story, did you know how it would end?

Sally: Yes, I had it in mind to connect the two characters in some way, ideally in a manner that left the character being observed understanding what it may be like for the main character. I wanted to illustrate how easy it can be to shift our own thinking when it comes to unhoused people.

WOW: That's very true! It's possible we can change how we see those that struggle the most in our society. What is your rewriting and revising technique after you've written the first draft?

Sally: I usually start with using the 'Read Aloud' function in Word (where I do most of my writing). I like it because it removes the context, intonation etc. that I presume as I re-read a draft and it quickly points out where the flow of a story isn't what I had imagined. I then usually work paragraph by paragraph or scene by scene making edits and then re-read again. It's a long process and I always leave time in between sessions on any one piece. I find I gain different perspectives, my voice can change, and new ideas come, hopefully making the piece better. 

WOW: What a thorough approach! What are you currently working on that you can tell us a bit about?

Sally: I'm working on a book about one woman's life as observed by her partners. I feel if any of us ask our former partners to describe us, we may end up with wildly different images of who we believe ourselves to be, depending on time, age, personalities, pressures etc. This book is an attempt to explore those diverse views of one human and how she, in turn, views herself.

WOW: That sounds incredible! What surrounds you when you write?

Sally: I do most of my writing in my office in the basement of our house. It looks out over Lake Okanagan and the hills beyond but I face away from the view while I write and turn back to it to contemplate my work. I have an old, Victorian windowpane that I use as a whiteboard for my book as well as art (mostly by female artists) that I've collected throughout the years on travels and from friends on the walls. A clothing patch given to me by my youngest son is on my desk; it says "Be Optimistic." And I have books that have truly inspired me on my windowsills. 

WOW: I love that setting! What does a typical day of writing look like for you?

Sally: I'm definitely an early writer, preferring to write before 10:00am until whenever my well of ideas for the day seems to dry up. I edit and do revisions in the afternoon. It's not often that I write in the evenings or at night but on a rare occasion, it has happened.

WOW: That sounds like a set schedule that's been successful! Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to seeing what you have coming up next. 

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Checking Out Virtual Book Clubs

Monday, September 26, 2022

Photo by Taryn Elliot/Pexels

Years ago, when my oldest child was an infant, I heard about a book club a local mom’s group was organizing. I was so excited and desperate to talk to other like-minded moms that I purchased the book, read it from cover to cover, and showed up at the restaurant. I didn’t see anyone I knew, so I grabbed a drink and waited for the meeting to start. I believe we talked about the book for approximately five minutes, before everyone began breaking off into groups and chatting among themselves about their lives. Because I didn’t know anyone, I stood off awkwardly to the side. Disappointed, I left the club early and never went back, vowing that book clubs were a waste of time. I still love to read, and a few years ago noticed virtual book clubs were beginning to pop up. I’ll see different celebrities promoting them and often get ideas for new books to read from their social media pages. I’ve interviewed a few local true crime authors for my podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. I often get pitches (and Net Galley access or offers of advanced copies) for thrillers, mysteries and true crime new releases. I started thinking it might be fun to form my own virtual book club as an extension of my podcast, so I poked around to find out what some of these other virtual book clubs offer. Here are two I researched. 

Reese’s Book Club 
How it works: Each month, Reese Witherspoon selects a book with a woman at the center of the story. It’s free to join. You download Reese’s Book Club app and set up a profile. You can buy books through an affiliate link, but it’s not required. 100 percent of the proceeds go towards funding specific programs designed to advance diverse voices and promote literacy. You can also shop for merch on the website and create your own box complete with a book and other goodies from the club’s partners. 
Recent selections: “Honey & Spice” by Bolu Babalola, “Counterfeit” by Kirsten Chen, “The Dictionary of Lost Words” by Pip Williams, and “True Biz” by Sara Novic. 

Jen Hatmaker Book Club 
How it works: Author Jen Hatmaker has a monthly subscription box and membership designed to share works of fiction, non-fiction, biographies, short stories, etc. each month. Members can pay $32.99 (plus shipping and handling) to receive the book, chapter summaries, a reading plan, and weekly group discussion questions. They also receive access to the private Jen Hatmaker Book Club Facebook group and a video podcast with the author or other special guest. The monthly book always includes a surprise item, such as a beanie, coffee mug, water bottle, etc. If you don’t want a physical copy of the book and would rather use a Kindle version, library copy, etc., you can pay $9.99. The digital membership allows access to everything but the physical copy of the book and bonus item. 
Recent selections: “When We Believed in Mermaids” by Barbara O’Neal, “The Girl with the Louding Voice” by Abi Dare, “I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet” by Shauna Niequest, and “The Lost Apothecary” by Sarah Penner. 

What’s the verdict? Do you belong to any of these virtual book clubs, and do you enjoy participating? What would you enjoy most out of joining this type of club? 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer who also hosts the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas.
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Meet Q3 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest Runner Up Jennifer Juniper

Sunday, September 25, 2022


Jennifer Juniper’s love of travel mixes well with her uncontrollable curiosity and often leads to adventure and intrigue. With life as her muse, she stays busy chronicling connections and inspiring interactions. An excerpt titled “The Fish Doctor” from her upcoming memoir was recently published. Her poetry is featured in But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and other Superheroes Battling Invisible Illness. Her essay made it into Decimos: We Say. She is an award-winning poet currently living on the road with a kitty she was only supposed to foster, splitting her time between here, there and everywhere while working on her memoir, Gut Instincts. She blogs at onehitoneder.wordpress.com and tries to stay up on Twitter @JenJuniperM. 

Read Jennifer's moving essay here and then return to learn more about the author. 

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

WOW: Congratulations, Jennifer, and welcome! Your essay about your relationship with your father is very touching. How has writing helped you explore the details (good and bad) that may have remained buried within your psyche had you not put them on paper? 

Jennifer: Thank you for feeling it with me. It’s why I write—to feel something and help others feel something. Writing has always been how I process life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been using words, both reading and writing, to help me find a solid place within myself. Writing makes it all stand still for a moment, where I can see it. Hold it. Let it do with me what it will, within the safety of the page. I use the power of the pen to get those buried treasures out of me and bring them to the light. I love seeing what pours out of me given the quiet opportunity to discover. All we need is within us—writing is one of the ways I find it. People, places and things written down become immortal. We can transcend time. I get to revisit, relive all those moments again. This piece about my father and me, it puts us in one place where I can find him again. Dance with him again, see him hand me an ice cream cone again, fall back on his advice. 

WOW: On your blog you wrote about how the first two times you submitted to this writing contest you didn’t advance to the finals. What advice would you give to anyone who is hesitant about submitting their work to writing contests? 

Jennifer: Write for the sake of writing. Write because you can, because you have something to say and what you say matters. Make art–literary art. Aren’t we lucky to be creative types? Unbound by what is, able to angle ourselves into our own designs. Everytime I write, I get better. I’ve come to see it beyond the labels of good and bad, but as a person learning guitar approaches an instrument. To learn. I’m practicing my craft, and you get better at what you practice. I always pay extra for the feedback and it’s always helpful in addition to being super encouraging. Contests offer discipline. They give structure and a deadline, prompting you to stay with a piece through completion—all good things for us writers. I find there’s a certain intrinsic prize once I hit the Send button. I didn’t let my fears stop me. I created something to share with the world. I was vulnerable. And I often tell myself, I can’t be the only one feeling and thinking this. Maybe someone will find company in my piece. I take solace in Stephen King’s "On Writing" where he talks about being a kid, putting a nail in the rafter above the desk in his bedroom. He stabbed his rejection letters onto it. And when it got full, he had to put in a second, bigger nail. So, I figure I’m in pretty good company when I don’t get chosen. A record label turned down Prince. Chicken Soup for the Soul got passed on heaps of times. Anyways, if I really want to keep an authentic voice, I need to write without wondering what will come of it. How high it will climb in the world. Once I saw Eric Clapton perform his song "Tears In Heaven" live, to loud applause. He told us he’d written the song to deal with his own grief. “That you all happened to like it, too was a bonus."     

WOW: Your memoir, “Gut Instincts,” chronicles your health journey with Crohn’s Disease. What do you hope readers will take away from your book? 

Jennifer: To see it not as a How-To book, but a Now-You book. I want them to be inspired to listen to their bodies and love themselves well. A disease has symptoms and also is a symptom of our whole life and our whole being. Go beyond the limitations of modern medicine, take back their power and tap into their own self-induced healing mechanism. An understanding that without the mind, the body can’t heal. And everything can heal. Everything. Chronic illness is wrought with shame and isolation, I want to alleviate that. Obliterate it. I hope they find a hand to hold inside my pages. I hope they reach out and ask me for more than that, if needed. 

WOW: I love this! Thank you for shining a light on the emotional struggles people with chronic illness face alongside the physical symptoms.  Speaking of writing nonfiction, are there any memoirs you’ve read recently that you would recommend to our readers? 

Jennifer: Mary Karr’s "Lit."  She drills down deep, puts me right there with her, and her style makes me read sentences over and over again, in awe. I’m a better writer for having read her. And she’s snarky, with a self-deprecating wit, which I love and relate to. 

WOW: Thank you for that recommendation! You are currently living on the road as you complete the memoir. What has the experience been like for you and would you recommend it to fellow writers if they have the chance to do it? 

Jennifer: Travel is magical–I highly recommend it. I just got back from a trip and can’t keep up with my muse! Movement and newness are so good for me and my creativity. I’m my best self on the road, because I can be whoever I want, unencumbered by the mundane. There’s a suspension of self, like being in a new place makes me new, too. I’m not sure how it all works, but I’m definitely more likely to follow those nudges and tune into nuances when I travel. They take me to places I wouldn’t have found otherwise. They seem to know better than I do.

WOW: Jennifer, thank you again for spending time with us today! Keep us posted on your writing projects--you're an inspiration.
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Interview With the Creators of the Sit & Write: A Writing Master Course

Saturday, September 24, 2022

I'm so excited to interview Claudine Wolk and Kate Brenton, creators of the Sit & Write: A Writing Master Course. It's a course for writers who know they have a book in them, but don't know where to start or how to meld it into their mission. 

Kate Brenton, author and inspired teacher, joins book marketing expert, Claudine Wolk, in this class that combines the spiritual and analytical sides of writing to get your mission and your message into the hands of those who need it. Community calls, video lessons, and one-on-one calls combined with the unique insight of Kate (spiritual) and Claudine (analytical) will provide pieces of what is needed for your book to get written and seen.

Find out more information about their course by visiting their website. Use WOW2022 for an early bird discount! Registration ends 10/15/2022.

Before we get to my interview, get to know a bit more about Kate and Claudine: 

Kate Brenton, published author and inspirational teacher, will help you work through the structure and cadence of your story, refine your voice, and reach your audience. Kate has an uncanny knack of intuitively following a thread and unearthing resistance that clouds a writer’s voice. Writers will receive 3 one-on-one calls with Kate to review material, work through voice, or another writer-selected topic on the creative process.

Claudine Wolk, published author and book marketing muse, will help you to identify your book’s message, audience, and hook - the building blocks to determine the viability and focus of your book idea and later marketing materials. You will receive 2 sixty-minute-one-on-one calls with Claudine to flesh out your book idea and get your questions answered on good publishing practices. Claudine will also teach on the art of pitching your book (because it is an art and you get to practice.

-- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: I can't wait to find out more about this course! What can people expect from taking it?

Kate & Claudine:
With full committed participation, Sit & Write will be the space where you create the first draft of our book and learn the first, most important steps to successfully market the book.

WOW: That's fantastic! Why do you think people have a hard time disciplining themselves to write?

Kate & Claudine: It's the discipline and time management, coupled with standing your ground against resistance and doubt, which inevitably arrive. Sometimes we doubt the content as a facade for doubting ourselves or we can be so close to what we are creating that we cannot truly see it. The beauty of writing is that it's you and the word, but that is also the difficulty.

WOW: So true, conquering that doubt is such a challenge. Kate, you work with writers on overcoming their doubts while also helping them structure their novel. What are the roadblocks do you notice writer's struggle with the most?

Kate: Accepting that they have 1,000 things to say but there is only room for 10. So, a writer has to trust their intention and the scope of what they have set out to write to maintain a coherence and elegance for the reader. What the writer wants and what the reader needs can sometimes be a dance in creation.

WOW: It is a dance! Claudine, you teach a lot of what goes into the marketing of the book. What do you think are the most important parts of figuring out how to market your book?

Claudine: Number one is to learn the publishing options available so that you understand the correct timeline of the important promotion opportunities available to give your book the best chance to be seen and sold. Marketing starts while you are writing your first manuscript! Number two is to identify your message, audience, and hook.  Message, audience and hook are the fundamental building blocks that will inhabit every part of your media kit and marketing plan.

WOW: Yes! I don't think people realize that marketing starts while you are writing. It takes time to build a plan. Kate, what kind of resistance do you see writer's struggle with when finding their voice?

Kate: For some writers there is an un-learning that needs to happen. As in so many areas, they have assumed a voice that is needed rather than trusting their own. This can look like a journal prompt flowing more easily than a significant chapter. Rectifying this is acknowledging how the writer feels (mindset) when they write in that natural voice and leaning in there, until it becomes the voice. 

WOW: Getting out of our own way is definitely challenge. Claudine, how do you help writers plan out the marketing method to your book?

Claudine: After a discussion of publishing choices and making a publishing decision, we engage the writer in exercises to identify their message, audience, and hook.  Writers come away from the exercises with an elevator pitch for their book and the backbones of a book proposal and/or query.  We review the pitching process with tips and suggestions.  Once the fundamentals are in place, we discuss book marketing options and how to narrow an author’s focus to what is actually doable from a financial and time management standpoint.  Book distribution and book promotion opportunities are discussed for further research. 

WOW: That is an exciting but difficult process! Why is the spiritual and analytical side of writing important to consider?

Kate & Claudine: Both are needed. If you are more guided internally you may hide from the marketing thinking that you can't do it or it's not necessary, but it is; not only for book sales, but to strengthen the reach or hook for the reader who does not know you. The analytical side helps take your book and provides the accessibility for your readers to find it! Likewise, if you are completely analytical in your writing and focusing only on the transaction of writing, you aren't allowing your reader the joy to sink in and unfurl to the fullness of your piece or your voice, fiction or non-fiction. For purpose-driven writers you need both.

WOW: So true! Can you share any success stories with us? Either through this class or through one-on-one work you've had with writers?

Kate & Claudine:
For some of our early birds on this round, their first (free) consultation call gave them a call to action. For one writer, she decided to go with her gut and broaden her depth in her book and she is already writing before we begin! 

Another author, between their intake call and signing up, chose to convert a class curriculum to a book and has also begun writing with a clear directive and a loose structure. 

Both writers benefited from the intake assessment for Sit & Write: A Master Writing Course that both narrows the focus and asks the questions to illuminate the true intention of what is being written. 

We are both published authors and know what it takes to write, publish and market a book.  More importantly, our work with authors over the years, Kate as teacher/mentor, Claudine as book marketer/editor, has only heightened our desire to help authors get their message out there.  Why should a writer’s message be stymied because he/she can’t get it out onto the page or because they were not aware of the book marketing steps that from the beginning of the process would have made the difference in getting their book seen and sold?  We aim to change that circumstance with this class.

WOW: That's exciting! So much action happening so soon. I am can't wait to see what comes out of this course for people. Thank you again for your time today.

Again, find out more information about their course by visiting their website. Use WOW2022 for an early bird discount! Registration ends 10/15/2022.

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Listen for the Music in Your Writing

Friday, September 23, 2022
By Barbara Noe Kennedy

I’m a travel journalist, so it seems incongruous that poetry might have anything to do with my writing. On the contrary, poetry has everything to do with my writing—after culling the best ideas, of course. And this goes for any type of writing, whether you’re penning a novel, a food-related story, even a business article.

Think of the English language as a musical instrument. You are using that instrument to create great music. While the meaning of every word you use is imperative, you can be like a poet and complement that meaning by choosing words that provide accompanying sounds, whether to signal peace, discord, fear, love, disgust, or whatever. Poets, after all, are masters at being as concise and succinct as possible in their writing. So why shouldn’t you?

For example, if you are describing a peaceful rainy scene, think about using words with the “s” sound to convey the rain, using a rhythmic cadence: Small drops of water spilled from the sky.

Or, perhaps the scene is stormy, filled with thunder and lightning. In this case, you would want to choose words that are harsh sounding—hard consonants—and make the sentence more choppy: Rain fell, lights flashed, I glanced around the street for cover.

Here are some more poetic techniques to add to your writing tool chest

Perfect Rhyme: Two words rhyme in such a way that their final stressed vowel and all following sounds are identical; e.g.: power and tower, mouse and house, cat and hat. The use of perfect rhyme creates a harmonic, melodic effect, suggesting that everything is good.

End rhyme: The end of the sentences rhyme, such as: Star light, star bright. This rhyme is probably the most common in poetry. If you use it in your prose, you are drawing attention to the scene by creating a certain, expected rhythm, along with creating a sense of harmony.

Slant rhyme (also called near or imperfect rhyme): The last syllable rhymes, such as find and friend; and bottle and fiddle. Poets use slant rhyme to introduce a sense of the unexpected, to entice the reader to pay closer to attention to the words. Emily Dickenson was a pro.

Eye rhyme: This is where you have the same spelling but different sounds, such as wind and bind; love and move. Poets use eye rhymes to appeal to the sense of sight, not hearing, to make for a more melodic read.

Read your writing out loud, and listen to the sounds of your writing—the music. Are the sounds enhancing the mood you are creating? Do they help with pacing? By carefully picking the right words—and the right sounds—you can bring you writing to a whole new level.


Barbara Noe Kennedy is a former longtime editor with National Geographic Travel Publishing. She currently works as a fulltime freelance travel writer, with credits including Fodor’s, Lonely Planet, London Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC Travel, The Points Guy, and more. She also teaches travel writing and creative nonfiction and leads tours.

--Barbara is also a WOW! Women on Writing instructor, with several webinars starting soon: TRAVEL WRITING 101 WEBINAR (October 5th), THE POWER OF STORYTELLING 101 WEBINAR (October 12th), and THE PIZZAZZ OF WRITING 101 WEBINAR (October 26th). For information and enrollment, visit our classroom page.  
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Fall Into Reading Giveaway

Thursday, September 22, 2022

With an unbearably hot summer behind us, we're excited at WOW! to see the signs of fall leaves and cooler weather just around the corner. This time of year is perfect for cozying up with a good book and listening to the rain patter against the window.
Since it's the first day of fall today, we're excited to reward our readers with our newest giveaway: Fall Into Reading! (#FallintoReading) This is our third big giveaway, and we can't wait to tell you about the authors and their books joining us today. 

A few details:

Much like our last giveaways, we will have three winners. One grand prize winner will receive the grand prize of our $150 Amazon gift card, free entry into one of WOW's writing contests (each contest has over $1200 in cash prizes!), and a large collection of books that will supply their reading habits for the entire fall season and beyond. Two winners will receive the same collection of books as well and free entry into one of WOW's contests too!

This giveaway is only open to US readers, and we'll be sending out physical book copies to all winners. 

To enter this giveaway, scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter the Rafflecopter form. The giveaway ends October 6th at 11:59 PM Central. We'll announce the winners the next day!

Our First Place Winner Will Receive:

$150 Amazon Gift Card
One free entry into either one of WOW! Women on Writing's writing contests
Faking My Fall Crush by Michelle Cornish
Hiding Out on Halloween by AJ Kormon
The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo
A Child Lost by Michelle Cox
Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning
From Promising to Published: A Multi-Genre, Insider's Guide to the Publication Process by Melanie Faith  
The Eternity Knot (Celtic Magic series) by H R Conklin
Take a Chance on Me by Megan Byrd
The Kiminee Dream by Laura McHale Holland
The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning
The Right Address by Patricia Gable
& the sequel The Right Choice by Patricia Gable
Obsessed By A Promise by Sandra Warren
The Silence in the Sound by Dianne C. Braley
Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding by Linda Jämsén

Our Second & Third Place Winner Will Receive:
One free entry into either one of WOW! Women on Writing's writing contests
Faking My Fall Crush by Michelle Cornish
Hiding Out on Halloween by AJ Kormon
The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo
A Child Lost by Michelle Cox
Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning
From Promising to Published: A Multi-Genre, Insider's Guide to the Publication Process by Melanie Faith  
The Eternity Knot (Celtic Magic series) by H R Conklin
Take a Chance on Me by Megan Byrd
The Kiminee Dream by Laura McHale Holland
The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning
The Right Address by Patricia Gable
Obsessed By A Promise by Sandra Warren
The Silence in the Sound by Dianne C. Braley
Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding by Linda Jämsén

Let's talk about some of the books you will receive in this amazing giveaway:

Faking My Fall Crush by Michelle Cornish

Felicia Ellway has always had a flair for the dramatic. So when her friend Kit dares Felicia to tell her family she’s engaged, she doesn’t flinch. But when her family books the next flight to see her, she’s scrambling for a plan. Felicia convinces her best friend Marshall to act as her fiancé for the weekend, but when Marshall sees Felicia’s walls start to crumble, he enlists the help of Felicia’s little brother to win her heart for real.

Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

You can also find out more about the author and her other books by visiting her website.

Hiding Out on Halloween
by AJ Kormon

Avery is the first person to borrow the latest Minecraft hacks book from the school library, much to the dismay of the school bully Becky. When Avery accidentally splashes Becky with an invisibility potion he learned from the book, she not only disappears from Minecraft, but from the real world too. 

Trying to ease his guilt about Becky’s disappearance, with the help of his friend Jordan and a black cat who appears to be stalking him, Avery sets out to find Becky. 

What he discovers is worse than he ever imagined. 

Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

You can find out more about the author and her other books by visiting her website.

The House on Linden Way
by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo 

While passing through her hometown a decade after she left, Amber Blake impulsively revisits her old house on Linden Way. She only means to stay a moment, to show her three-year-old daughter Bee the place where she grew up. But when the kindly new owners invite them inside, Amber cannot resist.

Soon Bee is missing, the owners have disappeared, and Amber finds herself in a houseful of ghosts. Time takes on new meaning as she loses herself in living memories and a past that does not wish to be forgotten.

As Amber fights the powerful lure of a childhood she’d long left behind, her tenuous hold on the real world slips further from her grasp. Is it merely nostalgia she’s battling, or something far more menacing? Who haunts the house on Linden Way, and where are they hiding her child?

Purchase a copy of this book on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

You can find out more about the author and her other books by visiting her website.

A Child Lost
by Michelle Cox

A spiritualist, an insane asylum, a lost little girl . . .

As a favor to Henrietta's younger sister, Clive and Henrietta agree to attempt to find a missing German immigrant woman.  Their search leads them to Dunning, a notorious Chicago insane asylum, where Henrietta begins to suspect dark deeds may be happening.  When Clive doesn’t believe her, she decides to take matters into her own hands . . . with horrifying results.

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

You can find out more about the author and her other books by visiting her website.

Hawthorn Woods
by Patrick Canning

Summer, 1989. Sick and tired of a divorce she can't seem to get over, Francine leaves San Francisco to visit her sister in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois: an idyllic slice of Midwest suburbia that looks like the perfect place to relax and recover. But it doesn't take long before strange occurrences in the neighborhood enliven Francine's natural passion for playing detective. The dark mysteries hidden in Hawthorn Woods might just give Francine a path back to being herself, assuming they don't kill her first... 

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

You can find out more about the author by visiting his website.

From Promising to Published: A Multi-Genre, Insider's Guide to the Publication Process
by Melanie Faith

You've been writing and honing your craft for months or years and are curious about seeking publication for your latest project. Perhaps you wonder about the next steps in the process. Look no further!

This book has a little something for every writer interested in expanding their audience and sharing their writing with readers, from pre-writing and writing your drafts to choosing your market and the writing life before, during, and after publication.

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author by visiting her website.

The Eternity Knot
by H.R. Conklin

The Celtic Magic series is a unique tale connecting modern-day California to the Scotland of centuries ago. Join Mairi during a life-changing year in this eco-heroine's journey, following the Celtic wheel of pagan holidays through the seasons. In The Eternity Knot, humans and faeries are working together like never before to dispel deadly faerie magic. Now Mairi must put all the pieces together before time runs out for human life on Earth, and for once she's starting to feel worthy of the task. Join Mairi and friends in this exciting epic adventure!

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.

Take a Chance on Me
by Megan Byrd

Rachel Price has nearly given up on her dream of becoming a published author. Tom Haynes knows all about the thrill of living out your dream, along with the devastation of having it yanked away from you. Both Tom and Rachel must choose to overcome past hurts in order to step forward into a new chapter of their lives, and possibly find love.

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.

The Kiminee Dream
by Laura McHale Holland

In Kiminee, Illinois, lilacs bloom in winter, and the river sings as it wends through town. But this is normal for the tight-knit community, so when Carly Mae Foley reads fluently at age two and masters multiplication at age three, the locals take it in stride and embrace her with pride. But all is not well in Carly Mae’s family, and when a twister roars though, it decimates far more than their home. Several citizens come to Carly's aid, but not everyone is rooting for her, and when an appalling crime occurs, long-held animosities boil over. Will the good folks of Kiminee pull together—or be torn apart?

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.

The Colonel and the Bee
by Patrick Canning

The Amazing Beatrix, with no home or family, suffers an abusive ringleader as an acrobat in a 19th-century circus. After a harrowing escape from her tormentor, Beatrix encounters the daring adventurer Colonel James Bacchus, and the unlikely pair team up. Flying to safety aboard the Colonel’s miraculous four-story hot air balloon, they begin a grand quest to find the most precious gem in the world, The Blue Star Sphinx. Perils await them, however, as they must outmaneuver deadly treasure hunters, escaped convicts, and endless double-crosses. If they succeed, they might discover the great treasure, or better yet, a true sense of belonging.

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on his website.

The Right Address
by Patricia Gable

When Annie hears that her foster parents are going to send her little brother to another home, she convinces him to run away with her to another town. Adventure awaits as they hide in a dark alley to avoid the police. Is there anyone who can help them? Who can they trust? Will they ever find a forever home?

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.

Obsessed by a Promise by Sandra Warren

The lives of two homeless depression-era brothers are changed forever when the oldest, after promising his dying father he'd keep his little brother safe, loses him to the Orphan Train movement. From then on the compulsion to find his lost brother and rectify what he perceived as his personal negligence, permeates his existence to the detriment of his marriage and his relationship with his future son. Fifty-years would pass before the oldest brother would find resolution allowing him to finally let go of his obsession.  

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.

The Silence in the Sound
by Dianne C. Braley

On the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard, an ailing celebrity novelist's famous book about a choice helps his young nurse make a heartrending one of her own. 

Fiery city girl, Georgette's memory of a childhood trip to Martha's Vineyard Island with her father is one of the few good times. Her father was an alcoholic, and her enabler mother chose to stay with him; his addiction was the center of their world. Georgette fled home as soon as she could; years later, as a nurse, she's going back to the island to start her life over. There, she becomes the private nurse for the ailing prize-winning novelist, Mr. S., whose famous book about a choice helps her make a difficult one of her own as she loses herself in a relationship with the mysterious Dock, who leads her down a road of denial and impossible choices she never thought she'd have to face.

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.

Odyssey of Love: A Memoir of Seeking and Finding
by Linda Jämsén

When Linda doesn't receive the marriage proposal from her partner Hank on her 41st birthday, she reluctantly visits a psychic, Angelica, who predicts she will soon leave him for a romantic and classical music-filled Odyssey in Europe. There, a "Russian icon" will lead to Linda's future husband, a "tall man with glasses." Eager to reignite her passion for music and find The One, Linda leaves for Budapest, where she sings in a chorus and teaches English. Soon, sparks are flying in and out of the classroom with several attractive men who meet Angelica's description. Is one of them her intended? And, where is the Russian icon to guide her?

Purchase a copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads reading list.

Find out more about the author on her website.


Enter the Fall into Reading Giveaway! (#FallIntoReading) For your chance to win a $150 Amazon Gift Card, and all the wonderful books above, please enter using Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends on October 6th at 11:59 PM Central. We will pick three winners randomly via Rafflecopter, and follow up via email the next day. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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