The Writer's Juggle

Thursday, March 31, 2022


Photo by Suzy Hazelwood/

I sit down to work on my to-do list. As a freelance writer, this looks different each day. I try to be mindful of my various production deadlines by using the free project management tool, Asana, which I’ve written about before. I make my list. 

-Write a 400 to 450-word blog post for a client.

-Meet the members of a local community choir for coffee so they can tell me about their organization for a local lifestyle magazine.

-Research the next podcast episode.

-Write 500-1,000 words on next podcast script.

At first glance, this list looks manageable, right? It's only four items--shouldn't take that long to knock those out. Ha! Not when this list turns into something more like this:

-Write a 400-450 word blog post. (Sort through recent writing e-newsletters for ideas. Wait. Oh! A well-known digital publication is looking for a content editor? That could replace one of the gigs I'm looking to let go of in the future. Spend 45 minutes to an hour writing a new cover letter, updating resume, and pulling relevant clips. Done. Get back to writing new blog post. Another 45 minutes.) 

-Meet the members of a local community choir for coffee so they can tell me about their organization. (Put on actual blazer and dress, fix make-up, drive 20 minutes to the coffee shop, spend almost an hour on the interview, drive 20 minutes back home. Save the writing of the article for another day, but at least the interview is complete!)

-Research the next podcast episode. (Open your journal where you keep all your “true crime” ideas. Remember an episode of “Forensic Files” that featured an unidentified victim, and the state college experts who identified her forensically. Realize the man identified as this victim’s murderer also confessed to killing two other women during the course of his job as a long haul trucker. Spend two to three hours digging up articles in local news archives, perusing a website put together solely to find victims of this man, read up on how the F.B.I. began to realize long haul trucking lends itself to these types of murder, etc.) 

-Write 500-1,000 words on next podcast episode. (Doesn’t get done. When will you learn that immersing yourself in research and cranking out part of a script in the same day isn’t likely to happen?) 

When I make my list, I always have the best of intentions. But as you can see, I get distracted by many other things, and this is only a snippet of what a day can look like. I have a tendency to get carried away. 

The writer’s juggle is a struggle. Can you relate? 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also produces the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas.
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Don't Discount Your Other Writing Efforts

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

It's funny that Cathy C. Hall talked about the "just" trap for writers, because I've been thinking about that same topic lately. Over this past weekend, I worked on a freelance article, and in the back of my mind, I felt guilty for not working on my short stories. 

It's so easy to forget the impact of our other writing efforts. How easy I forget that not too long ago I had a major breakthrough on a short story that had confounded me for a long time. I also have been picking up some freelance projects that have given me some fascinating learning experiences. 

Yet, I still feel like I'm not doing enough. 

Why do we do that to ourselves? In fact, I've often discounted many more writing efforts lately. Last weekend, I worked on a draft for a new short story that I've reached a decision on this past week. All that brainstorming should count. I also started typing up a story last weekend. But that didn't feel like it counted either. I've also been submitting my stories too. Yet, I didn't consider that much of anything either.

All of this I've shared with you is a piece of the writing process puzzle that needs to count. It's all learning, growing, stretching, and building. No, I'm not getting short stories accepted week after week (in fact, today I got a rejection letter). However, I'm still growing as a writer. I also do other kinds of writing, not just fiction, and that's okay. In fact, those efforts count too. It doesn't make me less of a writer just because I'm not the kind of writer I thought I'd be by now.

Based on what Cathy shared, I feel like a lot of writers do that. So, let's not dismiss our other efforts in the writing process. When do dismiss other writing efforts or "just" our successes, like Cathy talked about, I think it depletes our creative energy. 

So, today, I'm allowing my non-writing efforts to count as writing. I may not be where I thought I'd end up by now, but I'm further than where I've been. And to me, that counts.

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Interview with Mandy Wheeler, Runner Up in the Fall 2021 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Mandy’s Bio:

Mandy Wheeler is a writer and radio director who’s spent her career working in the creative industries. For twenty years she ran an award-winning audio production company in London, before moving on to devise creativity workshops and work as a writer and presentation coach. As a writer she works across commercial and creative work: prose, scripts, ads, she’s done the lot. In 2021 her play “Tree Rings” won the Bitterpill Painkiller Project Award. She also hosts an annual residential retreat in Spain where she encourages people to apply the techniques of performance improvisation to writing practice. 

If you haven't read her story, click through and spend a moment with “You’re Packing a Suitcase.”  

-----interview with Sue Bradford Edwards-----

WOW: “You’re Packing a Suitcase” is one of those stories that I thought I had figured out but it just kept changing. What was the inspiration behind this story?

Mandy: I’m not sure where the inspiration for this one came from. Possibly a writing prompt. I’m always impressed (and a little envious) of people who say they walk round with a head full of stories. It isn’t like that for me. I lure inspiration in by making Offers (as improvisors would call them.) Setting puzzles for my imagination to solve. That gets me started. Then I write until something tumbles out that feels like it’s got energy, something I’m interested in exploring. 

Or it might be that a line gets stuck in my head. I let it rattle around for a while until I hear the rhythm of the piece, or the tone of voice, then I start writing and to see where it goes. I’m not a planner. I rarely know what a piece is about until I get to the end. I think the creative process works best when we don’t get in its way, when we don’t interfere too much. I certainly didn’t know where ‘You’re Packing’ was going when I started it. 

So why did it tumble out the way it did? I’d been playing around with writing ghost stories for a while, looking at different ways to tell them, so that probably had something to do with it. And, well, the mother daughter relationship – it’s the gift that keeps giving, isn’t it? 

WOW: Your bio lists your career as a radio director. How does your experience as a director impact your writing process? 

Mandy: Directing is editing. An actor gives a performance; you help them to develop and finesse it. Together you edit it. You also have to be able to keep the big picture in mind, to step back and ask: ‘What’s this about, what’s it communicating, what do we need to add, or lose?’ Then you go in close again and edit the detail of the performance or the script. 

If you’re used to working that way, it makes the whole drafting / editing thing a lot easier. I’m used to revisiting things over and over to build them up. A first draft is like a first read through, the beginning of a journey. 

And for me as a radio director, the sound of a piece is always very important: the tone of voice, the rhythm. When I’m editing I always read the work aloud. 

WOW: Rewriting is such a huge part of the writing process. How did this story change from first draft to finished manuscript? 

Mandy: In this case, not too much. That’s unusual, my first drafts are usually pretty unruly. I revise a lot. In this piece though, the rhythm and the tone were there early on. It was the detail that needed work. With Flash, it’s always about asking yourself, what more can I take out? How much can I leave up to the reader? That suits me. I love cutting stuff. It comes from working in radio, where you’re always trying to say less, to avoid over explaining. That’s how you keep the listener with you; by making them part of the production team, getting them to do some of the imaginative work. I approach writing in the same way. But, of course, you have to make sure you’re intriguing, not confusing. That’s what I worked on in this piece. 

Oh, and I always leave a good while between edits. That way a lot of the editing decisions seem to make themselves – they just jump off the page when you go back to it. 

WOW: Many of our readers have never tried writing flash fiction. What advice would you give writers new to this type of work? 

Mandy: Think of it as a collaboration with your reader. Flash is not a novel; you’re not suggesting they curl up in an armchair while you tell them a tale. You’re inviting them out to play. Look for ways to hook their imagination. Don’t over explain. Give them something to think about, let them do some of the work, let them have some fun. 

Writing short also gives you the opportunity to play around with format – don’t be afraid to try out unconventional ways of telling a story. 

And here’s a useful rule from improvisation. ‘Go in late; get out early’. Drop your reader into the middle of a scene. Lose the preamble. Hit the ground running. Then leave before the end - don’t worry about staying around to tie it all up. Leave it with the reader, let it linger pleasantly in their mind. 

In radio, we often withdraw with a fade out. That’s how I hear the end of ‘You’re Packing’. It fades out on that last line. Hopefully to be continued in the reader’s imagination. 

WOW: Your bio also mentions a retreat in Spain where you guide participants to use performance improvisation in their writing. Can you explain what performance improvisation is and how it benefits writers? 

Mandy: Performance improv is basically writing standing up. The kind of thing you see in comedy improv shows. For a writer, the techniques that improvisors use are incredibly useful in building spontaneity and encouraging you to get out of your own way. You get better at not judging, at moving a story forward and committing to ideas. 

For an improvisor, the empty stage is your blank page. Nothing’s happening until you make an ‘Offer’. Then, when you’ve set something running, you have to keep going. You can’t stop to judge or correct, you’ve got to keep building the idea, keep creating the scene. And, of course, because you do it with another person, you don’t know what’s coming next. It’s a great way to get comfortable with letting go of control. 

The sessions I run on the retreat and in the UK workshops, aren’t about performance. I just invite people to try out the improvisors’ techniques and think about how they can be useful when they’re working on their own, on the page. 

Improvising is about listening and reacting to what arrives – internally and externally. Getting things down, rather than making things up. It works brilliantly for blasting through creative blocks. You begin to enjoy that heady feeling of not knowing where you’re going – but trusting you’re going somewhere. You get to surprise yourself.

WOW:  Mandy, I love the idea of treating the blank page as a stage! This is definitely an idea we can play with.  Thank you so much for sharing your techniques with our readers and, again, congratulations! 
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Step 1: Type the End

Monday, March 28, 2022
I understand the temptation. You’re working on a new book manuscript and you want to know what people think of it. So you share the first two or three chapters. 

The people who read it give you feedback. Instead of moving forward, you rewrite these three chapters because now you definitely have three. And then you share them. The people who read them give you feedback so once again you rewrite and share. 

Or you’re half way through writing your novel and it is AMAZING. Really. It is the best thing you’ve ever written. So you decide to start querying it. But writing the query proves to be a challenge because you’re a pantser. You aren’t actually certain how the book is going to end. You know your main character, you know your story problem, but the conclusion of your book? You haven’t found it yet.

Or maybe it’s a website that you’re tempted to create. After all, you need a website for your book. 

Or a cover. You’re planning to indie publish and you need a cover to start marketing your book. 

Merchandise. You’ve seen Peter Reynold’s online store. He has prints. He has books. He even sells onesies for heaven’s sake! Certainly you should start working on some basic merchandise. 

Whatever bright shiny object is tempting you away from your manuscript, before you worry about critiquing or querying, a site or a cover or merchandise, you need to complete your manuscript. 

I’m not saying that it needs to be polished perfection before you share the opening chapters. Or that you need to have it laid out and print ready before you find someone to design your cover. But you do need to know that you can finish the book. 

Go ahead and jot down ideas for your site or show your work to your critique buddies. But the reality is that if you want to publish, either traditionally or indie, in print or online, you have to finish. 

I give my chapters to my critique group as I move along. But I don’t do major rewrites. If my group has big suggestions that mean fixing things in preceding chapters, I add a footnote to the manuscript or I TYPE AN ALL CAPS NOTE IN THE APPROPRIATE SPOT. Yes, I could add a “message” since I’m using Word, but they distract me. Hey! I’m a writer. I can be quirky. 

And you can be quirky too. Write your pitch for your query letter if it will act as a fixed target to aim for as you add words to the page. Do what you need to do to reach the end. 

The ending of your manuscript will help you hone the beginning, it can shape the cover, and really? It’s a huge buzz to key in those final words.  You know that you’ve accomplished something big.


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 April 3, 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 April 3, 2022) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins April 3, 2022). 
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Blogging Imperfection - Don't Let Perfect Hold You Back!

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Blogging Imperfection

I'm putting together a fun book blog tour for Audry Fryer's new book: Until Next Sunday and part of organizing a tour is reaching out to book bloggers asking how they'd like to help (review the book, author interview, etc...). One blogger signed up for the tour on Tuesday and declined on Wednesday saying " on second thought, I have been awful about blogging...". That conversation prompted me to write today's post about an imperfect blog.

Years ago, I read an article by some sort of business/life coach advising that your blog doesn't need to be perfect. I forget exactly who said it or their reasoning, but I think of it often. Now, your Freshman research paper, your memoir, or a newspaper article definitely needs to be edited and perfected, but I don't want my perfectionism standing in the way of my blogging. If I wait until I have the perfect topic, the perfect amount of quiet, the perfect amount of editing time, etc... I'm never going to have any content. I've come to think of my blog in terms of conversating vs public speaking. When I talk to a friend, we have a conversation; I may say "Um" a lot, I may forget to make eye contact or make too much eye contact, I may laugh to loud, mumble, or speak too firmly. That's okay though - we are having a conversation. I didn't rehearse or polish things - I'm relaxed. That's exactly how my blog feels - like a conversation with an old friend. Even if I forget to call for a few months, I can pick up the phone and we pick up where we left off...laughing too loudly and everything! It's not public speaking where everything has been polished and perfected. My blog has typos, time gaps where I forget to write, the pictures are silly, and I guarantee there's run-on sentences...but my readers still love and accept me (like a dear friend).

Doesn't it help to look at blogging that way? You've been away for awhile - but it's okay. You typed were instead of where - it's okay. Those imperfections make you more loveable (in real life and in blogging). Hopefully if you've stepped away from blogging while waiting for everything to be perfect you'll get back to it - there's no time like the present and I think you're amazing even if you aren't perfect! Truth is...your imperfections are what make you even more amazing!

I can't wait to read what you're blogging about - so get to it! 

PS - if you'd like to participate in the blog tour mentioned above, fill out this Google Form! 

As our time together comes to an end, let me ask you:

Has your perfectionism held you back from blogging or anything else? What can you do to move beyond that? 

If you are someone who has a perfect blog - how do you feel about those of us who blog to imperfection? What would you like to tell us? 

Since I never leave the farm - tell me about the Spring weather where you live? Tell us a little bit about your 'neck of the woods'? What's going on with you friend?

 Share it as a comment on this post!



About Today's Author:

Crystal is a foodie, farmer, and friend! She has 6 children and lots of special young people who call her "mom" even if she isn't 'their' mom! She starts each day sipping coffee and milking cows with the love of her life and occasionally ends the day with a glass of wine.  Crystal is raising kids and cattle while juggling cleaning jobs, bartending shifts, music gigs, her job as office manger and she escapes reality a few hours each week riding horses and reading books (not simultaneously)! And who knows, she may start blogging again sometime soon:

In the meantime, you can find her posting pics of food, cattle, and more on Instagram and Facebook

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3 Tasty Techniques for Food Writing

Friday, March 25, 2022
By Melanie Faith

Prefer pickles to relish? Love to nosh kugel? Find Frito pie a comfort food but loathe mac and cheese? Appreciate the aromas of veggie chili or a tart rhubarb pie wafting your kitchen with tantalizing odors? You're speaking our language! Let's take a look at three traits common to food writing across genres, from fiction to poetry to essays and more.

1. Include sensory imagery.

Great food descriptions are specific. They don't just include smells, but also tease us with tastes and textures. Include an adjective or two--so it's not just a sandwich, but an ooey-gooey pb&j on homemade, whole wheat toast. Can't you just see the sandwich cut into diamond halves and placed on a plain, porcelain plate in the second description? Doesn't the second description make you anticipate the salty and sweet in the first bite, waiting for it to stick to the roof of your mouth?

2. Dynamic verbs are a do.

Consider how this snack or meal was crafted. Did you lovingly crimp the crusts or hastily thumb-pinch a scallop-pattern? Consider adding visual and/or tactile imagery that create word-pictures in your readers' minds. Instead of plain old "made," what about "whipped up," "whisked," "poured," "concocted," or "fricassee?"

3. Highlight a main theme or idea in your scene, poem, essay, or chapter.

Food carries potent cultural symbols, from how we prepare it for ourselves or others to how we eat or share it to who cleans up after the feast. For some, meals are a communal time of day to gather with friends or family and share stories of the day. Does food equate to connection and/or community for you or your protagonist? Safety, even? Or does food equate to loneliness, shame, or even sorrow? Does your protagonist eat alone recently? Why or why not? Consider not just what the food looks, smells, and tastes like, but also how it makes your character feel--about self, family, friends, or community. Food can serve as symbols of our greatest time constraints (perhaps your protagonist feels overwhelmed by grocery shopping and cooking many meals, especially at the holidays) and remind us of our greatest hopes and fears. Underscore conflicts or mixed emotions that food sparks within your protagonist.

Try This! Exercise:
Jot a list of five foods. Beside each food, briefly describe the food, pairing an adjective with a strong verb. Then, for each food, write down an emotion or two that spring(s) to mind. How might you explore the symbolism of the food in your character's life? What about his/her hopes and fears? Pick one food and write 250 words detailing your protagonist either preparing or eating the food. Include a line of internal dialogue/self-talk or body language to show the emotions the food elicits.


Melanie Faith holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, NC. Her writing has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. Her full-length, historical poetry collection set in the 1918 flu epidemic, This Passing Fever, was published by Future Cycle Press in October 2017. Vine Leaves Press published her craft books about writing and editing flash fiction and nonfiction and her craft book about writing poetry (both 2018). In December 2019, her craft book, Photography for Writers, was also published by Vine Leaves Press. Most recently, her shorter pieces appeared in After the Pause, Contemporary Haibun Online, The Sandy River Review, The Writer’s Monthly Review Magazine, and Embodied Effigies. Her flash fiction, “The Slades,” placed honorable mention in the 2014 Bevel Summers Prize for the Short Short Story and was published in Shenandoah (Washington and Lee University). In addition to numerous photography publications, her art made the cover of both OVS Magazine and Chantwood Review in 2017. Her instructional articles about creative writing techniques have appeared in The Writer and Writers’ Journal, among others. To learn more about Melanie’s writing, teaching, and photography, please visit:

Melanie is also a WOW! Women on Writing instructor. Check out her upcoming workshops, Food Writing for Fun and Profit: Blogs, Restaurant Reviews, Recipes, Fiction, Memoir, and More and In a Flash: Writing and Publishing Dynamic Flash Prose. More information about our classes can be found on our classroom page.
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The Just Trap

Thursday, March 24, 2022
A few weeks ago, I had an AMAZING time at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, watching Ain’T Too Proud, the Life and Times of the Temptations. The music, the choreography, the cast, the story—it was fantastic and I enjoyed every minute of the show! I always enjoy going to the Fox, of course; it’s a gorgeous theater and worth every penny (and it’s a pretty penny). 

Last weekend, I had an AMAZING time at the Colleen O. Williams Community Theater near Athens, GA, watching The Addams Family, A New Musical. The music, the choreography, the cast, the story—it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed every minute of the show! I’d never been to this theater before but since my daughter was Morticia, making her musical theater debut, of course I was there. And it, too, was worth every penny (though it was considerably less than the Fox). 

But I have a point here (besides the one where I’m shamelessly bragging about my daughter) and it’s this: whether it’s a show in a huge theater or a show in a small community theater, it’s still people putting on an AMAZING show. But unfortunately, we have a bad habit of diminishing a job depending on several factors. As in, “She’s just an actor at a regional theater.” Or “He’s just a young choreographer, barely making minimum wage.” When the fact is, an actor is an actor; a choreographer is a choreographer. I mean, the last  time I checked the program, the director in a community theater wasn’t listed as “Just the Person in Charge of Folks Moving Around the Stage.” 

And I thought about this phenomenon as it applies to writers. Because we fall into the “just” trap all the time, diminishing our own work and worth. How many times have you heard a writer say, “It’s just a small, regional magazine”? Or how about the writer who says, “It was just ten dollars” after winning a writing contest? Or how about you? Have you said, “It’s just a royalty-only press”? Or “It was just a Chicken Soup for the Soul story?” 

Oh, yes. I’ve done it myself, y’all, but not anymore. 

Whether I’m making two dollars or two hundred dollars or two thousand dollars for something I’ve written, I’ve still written it and that makes me a writer. Whether my work appears in a national magazine or a magazine that’s distributed in my one county in my whole state, I’ve still written it and that makes me a writer. 

Well, you can see where I’m going here. And watching those two shows, in back-to-back weekends, helped me to see something even more important. 

There was an awful lot of joy in those performers in the Broadway musical at the Fox, and there was an awful lot of joy in those performers at the community theater. Sure, the Fox cast might have SAG cards, and there’s certainly a lot bigger paycheck for them. But the joy? I guarantee you’d find plenty of joy on either stage. 

So don’t let yourself fall into the trap thinking that just because you’re not writing for a prestigious market or a huge publishing house that it somehow doesn’t count. The work is there, the joy is there, no matter how or where you find it. So claim your joy! Claim your Writer title! And go out there and be AMAZING!

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Interview with Kiara Almanzar: Fall 2021 Flash Fiction Contest 3rd Place Winner

Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Kiara’s Bio:
Part-time pop music enthusiast and full-time bookworm, Kiara is a junior at the University of Central Florida. Aside from writing short stories and working on her first novel, Solace At Your Door, Kiara writes nonfiction articles for Her Campus UCF. She hopes to one day publish several novels and work in public relations in the entertainment industry. You can follow her on Instagram (@almondzar) or Twitter (@gotosleepkiara) to keep up with her writing journey. 

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

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Fall 2021 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story? 

Kiara: I initially wrote this story with the focus on the word “orange.” I grew up in Florida, so naturally the fruit came to mind. I was really excited to see the lengths I could go through to fit this word in a story and I was very proud by the outcome. 

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

Kiara: I learned that I can limit myself to short fiction! And it is totally okay! Usually, when I get an idea for a story, it’s a long-winded thought-out novel that has multiple backstories and an intensive plot, and honestly, it gets tiring. I like that I was able to conjure something short but still tell a cohesive story. Writing short fiction is something I’ve been working on practicing more, so it was nice to see it come together. 

WOW: Well done! There is a different focus and thought process with novels versus flash and it’s not always easy to make the switch between the two. Please tell us more about your novel, Solace at Your Door. What is it about, what has your writing process been like, and what inspired you to write it? 

Kiara: Solace at Your Door has been a project of mine since I first graduated high school. I realized that my childhood best friends and I were going our separate ways and that our friendship might not be this everlasting thing we always thought it would be. The idea was to create a story about teetering friendships and taking a flash shot on a moment that might not last forever but would be one of the last moments you had. And there was something special about that. 

So SAYD was born: When the world is announced to end due to a solar storm striking the Earth, a group of townies living on the outer edge of their small town learn to deal with doomsday on their own terms. The story centers around five teens after a big fight leads them to question everything they know about their friendship, love, and the secrets they held on to. 

I finished my first completed draft of SAYD in the summer of 2020. That draft is completely lost now as the story has been taken apart and rewritten twice more after. I’m currently on draft number 3 and I’m finally satisfied by the way things are going along. I’m excited to finish this draft because I genuinely feel it will be my last. While my writing process is practically nonexistent now because of school and work, I always make sure to write anything I think down, whether or not I use it. I’m a big daydreamer and I think that occupies at least 75% of my writing process. I also love creating playlists for each character and getting inspiration from reading (whether that be full novels or quotes shared online). My attachment to my own characters has definitely helped me keep interest in the story! 

WOW: I have learned recently that daydreaming is a crucial part of my creative process, too! Thank you for sharing your novel concept and process with us. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it? 

Kiara: Unfortunately, I’ve been caught in a reading slump circle where I keep picking up books that have caught my interest and dropping them. I’m currently attempting to read Vengeful, the sequel to V.E. Schwabs’s Vicious series. I love the grey morality of these characters and it's been the first book to keep my attention in a while! 

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

Kiara: Write for yourself first, your friends second, and an audience last. I used to get so caught up in writing the perfect story that would leave jaws dropped and people quoting them in their everyday life when that just isn’t realistic. My writing isn’t perfect and not everyone is going to like it; what matters is that I told the story I wanted to tell. 

WOW: Thank you for sharing that advice! Anything else you’d like to add? 

Kiara: I love WOW! and their dedication to highlight women in writing, no matter their experience in the publishing world. I’m very grateful for all the work they put in and look forward to working with them in the future! 

WOW: Thank you for that acknowledgement of the WOW! community, and thank you for you other 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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Book Giveaway: The Right Address by Patricia Gable

Monday, March 21, 2022
It's always exciting news when a WOW member's book gets published. What's even more exciting is Patricia Gable's middle-grade novel, The Right Address, was born from a novel writing course led by WOW's managing editor, Margo L. Dill. And today, you have a chance to win a copy!
Here's a little bit about this heart warming book:
"This book made me laugh and cry. Willie is comical and he softens the drama the children are going through. I'm sending it to my granddaughter." - Andrea McDonald
Annie hears that her foster parents are going to send her little brother, Willie, to another foster home. She can't let that happen! She devises a plan for the two of them to run away in the middle of a wintry night. That's when the adventure begins! 
Annie is the protective sister and Willie is bold and comical. They meet new friends and find places to sleep and eat. But how long can they last in the winter weather? And who is the strange man watching them? 
When they are given a card with only an address written on it, will this be the break they need or will it spell disaster?
"I read this in paperback. The children are adorable and brave. They go through so much. I was surprised to find out how the strange man was helping. I won’t give it away. Good read." - Maggie White 
Publisher: Booklocker (November 2021)
Paperback: 124 pages
ISBN-10: 1647198755
ISBN-13: 978-1647198756 
The Right Address is available for purchase in print and as an ebook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and  

About Patricia Gable:
My dad was always writing something—poetry, letters and even letters to the editor of newspapers. He drilled me on vocabulary words. I still have a handwritten letter from my dad that he sent to Grandma and Grandpa during the war when he was in the Navy in the Pacific. Because of all of this, I began writing when I retired from twenty-six years of teaching. I’ve written over 300 short stories for children, nonfiction articles for an educational website, flash fiction, and finally, I have written my first novel for middle grade children.
I am currently working on the second in this series. It is called THE RIGHT CHOICE. Will there be a guardian angel helping Christopher make the right choice?
My family has lived in Ohio, Michigan and Chihuahua, Mexico. Currently we live in beautiful Arizona.
Visit Patricia's website at

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

Enter to win a print copy of The Right Address, a middle-grade novel by Patricia Gable! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends April 3rd at 11:59 pm 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 Laura Ruth Loomis: Q1 2022 CNF Contest Runner Up

Sunday, March 20, 2022
Laura’s Bio:
Laura Ruth Loomis is the author of The Cosmic Turkey, a science fiction comedy about a teenager who accidentally becomes a spaceship captain. Laura also has a chapbook of linked short stories, Lost in Translation. Two of her flash fiction pieces, “Repetition Compulsion” and “Notes to Self: One Week Out,” were published in previous Women on Writing contests. Her essay, “Ghost House” first appeared in Prime Number magazine. More of her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry can be found at

By day, Laura is a social worker. When social work and pandemic-era living get too overwhelming, she writes humor and hangs out on Twitter, @LauraRuthless. She lives in Northern California with her wife and a ridiculous number of pets. 

If you haven't done so already, check out Laura's award-winning essay "Ghost House" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Q1 2022 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing your essay and how did it and your writing processes evolve as you wrote? 

Laura: This all happened after the economy crashed in 2008, and so many people lost their homes. I’d already started using the term “ghost houses” for the abandoned homes with weeds taking over their lawns. The sadness from them was almost contagious. 

And then the murders happened, just down the street from me. Even though I didn’t know the family well, it was jarring that someone could go from seemingly ordinary neighbor to killer. Writing about it was my way of trying to make sense of it. And the sense still eludes me. So many people walked away from the homes they lost – why couldn’t he? 

The framing as a “letter to the house’s next owner” came later. And in fact the house stood empty for a very long time. The ghosts in the essay may have been metaphorical, but they made their presence felt all the same. 

WOW: Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your writing and thought process. What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay? 

Laura: A major piece of that era, at least for me, was not knowing where to point the finger as people lost their homes and businesses closed. There were multiple scandals about companies signing people up for mortgages they couldn’t afford, and selling the toxic mortgages before they defaulted. No one was ever held responsible. 

Of course, Jason was responsible for his own choices. But I had to wonder: what if different choices had been made in faraway boardrooms? The essay was my way of trying to work through that, the immediate tragedy and the larger context that made it possible. Trying to make it understandable to myself, and maybe to other people. 

WOW: This piece isn’t in the comedy/humor genre, but I see in your bio that you enjoy this type of writing, too. Please tell us more about comedy and humor writing. How did you start writing in this genre and do you have any tips? 

Laura: The three times that I’ve placed in WOW contests, it’s always been for grim topics. Maybe it’s because I’m a social worker? But a lot of my writing is humor, and not the grim or cynical kind. I go for light, silly stories, especially since the pandemic started. 

A few years ago, my “serious” writing felt stuck. I thought back to when writing was pure fun for me. In junior high and high school, I used to carry around a notebook and write the adventures of a teenage spaceship captain and her misfit crew aboard the S.S. Turkey. Decades later, I drew on those characters and sent them to save a planet where chocolate had been banned. That story became The Cosmic Turkey, my first published novel. I’m currently working on the sequel, The Star-Crossed Pelican. 

So my only tip is: make sure it’s fun for you. 

WOW: I love that advice. Thank you! Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you? 

Laura: My favorite essayist is Rebecca Solnit, best known for her essay “Men Explain Things to Me.” She took a common experience for women – having a man explain her own area of expertise to her – and she expressed it in a way that was both enlightening and emotionally satisfying. She writes about all kinds of topics, from climate change to the joys of walking, to the way streets get their names. Even when it’s a topic I’d never paid attention to before, she always makes it accessible and interesting. 

Since I’ve been talking about the financial crisis of the late 2000’s, I should also mention Chain of Title by David Dayen, and The Big Short by Michael Lewis. They both do a good job of explaining what led up to the crash, and the fallout afterward. 

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

Laura: My younger self would be miffed to learn how long it took me to get a book published. Like everyone else, I’d heard about how hard it was to break into publishing. Like everyone else, I thought it would be different for me. I have multiple trunk novels, and each one helped improve the pieces that did get published. But my much younger self would be delighted that the characters she created are now alive on the page for everyone to see. 

WOW: Wonderful advice, and I love the image of your younger self being delighted at your current-day accomplishments. Anything else you’d like to add? 

Laura: When talking with writers, I enjoy how everyone’s process is uniquely weird. One person has to write in their rocking chair, and another will get their best ideas while jogging. Some writers have to have silence, but I thrive on distraction, and I make soundtracks for all my stories. And I always have multiple projects going at a time, so when I get stuck on one, I switch to another, until I accidentally finish something. Honor your own uniquely weird process. 

WOW: I love hearing about writers’ processes, too. And I agree with you that it’s important for all writers to honor that process. 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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Elements of Good True Crime Writing

Saturday, March 19, 2022


Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Ever since I started my podcast a few years ago, I’ve had to endure the learning curves of writing true crime. And when you need help perfecting a certain type of writing, you read more of it. 

I recently read two true crime books, “Before He Wakes: A True Story of Money, Marriage, Sex and Murder” by Jerry Bledsoe and “A Tangled Web: A Cyberstalker, a Deadly Obsession, and a Twisting Path to Justice” by Leslie Rule and thought I’d discuss some observations I made while reading them. “Before He Wakes” is about a woman named Barbara Stager here in my home state of North Carolina who was convicted of murdering her husband Russ while he slept. She claimed he had been sleeping with a loaded gun under his pillow “for safety” and she accidentally shot him early one morning when she went to move the gun. Once police heard from some of the man’s friends and family they realized this woman had lost her first husband when he “accidentally” shot himself while cleaning a gun. The second book, “A Tangled Web," covers the case of a woman named Cari Farver, who went missing from Nebraska after spending the night at her new boyfriend’s apartment. After she went missing, Cari appeared to cyberstalk and harass the man, Dave Kroupa, and another woman he’d been seeing named Liz Golyar. This went on for several years, until police realized Liz had murdered Cari and proceeded to impersonate her online, torturing both Cari’s friends, family, and Dave. 

Here are three things I feel are important to writing true crime effectively. 

Revealing details of the crime without overwhelming the reader. In both these books, there was a lot of information to cover. In “Before He Wakes,” Bledsoe wrote about both of Barbara’s husband’s deaths, her history with both men, interviews with friends and family of the two victims, and the mountain of financial and personal deceptions that were uncovered along the way. “A Tangled Web” had years and years of digital forensics to explain, along with several different overlapping timelines. Both books included the trials, and these aren’t always easy to write about without bogging the readers down. 

Motive. In Barbara Stager’s case, she and her second husband had a habit of living beyond their means, but she also hid a lot of purchases and loans from him. Bledsoe did a good job of writing about Barbara’s many lies, forgeries, and how a loan payment Russ didn’t know about was about to come due right around the time of the shooting. There were also life insurance payouts involved. In the case of Liz Golyar, Rule tracked a pattern of lies and malicious, vindictive behavior, and how she manipulated men to get what she wanted. She became dangerously obsessed with Dave Kroupa, and made the decision that nothing would stand in the way of her relationship to him. 

Understanding the psychology of the criminals. I believe this is the main reason readers are drawn to true crime books. In “Before He Wakes,” there was one observation Bledsoe made about Barbara Stager that really stood out to me. Barbara had always been active in her church, as a child and in her marriage to Russ Stager. There were people who didn’t believe she could have been a murderer because of her faith. Bledsoe observed that he believed Barbara had two different compartments to her personality—“the seductress and murderess” and “the church lady” who went overboard in serving in her church to atone for her sins. With Liz Golyar, Rule went so far as to track down member of her family of origin (she had been adopted as a child) and trace the violent roots that were in her past. Could those have contributed to her sociopathic behavior? 

What are some of your favorite true crime books to read? 

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also hosts the true crime podcast, Missing in the Carolinas. 

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Friday Speak Out!: On Being a Cancer Blogger

Friday, March 18, 2022
by Laura Yeager

I never planned on being a cancer blogger, but then again, I never planned on getting cancer. Who does?

In fact, I had cancer twice, two breast cancers on my right breast in ten years. The cancer was relatively easy; it was the treatment—chemotherapy, radiation, double mastectomy, reconstruction, ten years of cancer medication—that was difficult. My first cancer in 2011 was Stage 2A, my second, a splotchy red rash of angiosarcoma; both were physically painless, thank God.

What does a writer do when something new and odd happens to her? She writes about it, and so, in October of 2016, about five years ago, I wrote my first article for a cancer website and magazine (CURE® magazine). I’ve been writing for them ever since.

All writers’ processes are unique, especially when writing about something so sensitive as cancer, a deadly illness, the last time I checked. Here’s a little about my writing process when it comes to writing about my cancer journey:

  • I’ve always felt guilty about this writing gig because my cancer was relatively mild compared to others’. Mine hasn’t metastasized or maimed me; it has taken both of my breasts, but that’s a small price to pay for leading a happy, productive life that seems to have no ending point in sight. Every time I write a cancer blog post, I feel a little spoiled because at this point, I am not staring down death. And my oncologist “fired” me in July of 2021. Might I be out of the woods? Seems so at this point. This adds to the guilt.

  • While feeling guilty through this five-year freelance writing job, I’ve also been successful at it. CURE® likes my point of view and my writing style, but most importantly, my cancer stories. I’ve written about (among many other topics) cancer scans, operations, breast prostheses, and most recently, terrific bedroom romance after all these years since cancer. 

  • All my blog posts for CURE® are upbeat, “happy” little cancer pieces, just like Bob Ross’s “happy, little trees.” I guess all artists must make a choice in their art: is it optimistic or pessimistic? Mine has always been on the cheerful side.

  • My cancer blog posts have helped me get through this ultimately unfortunate turn of events. They help me process the mental pain of fearing death and watching my family members struggle with my illness. My teenager was six when I was first diagnosed. He was sixteen when my oncologist was “done with me” last year. That’s practically his whole childhood with a sick mom. That’s rough on a family. Thank God, I could write about what was going on to help me understand our predicament.

Processing the illness has been an upside to my blogging experience. I don’t wish cancer on anyone, of course, but for a writer, it’s just more grist for the mill. I am grateful for CURE® for giving me a platform to record my cancer journey.

* * *
Laura Yeager has been writing fiction and nonfiction for over 40 years. A graduate of The Writers’ Workshop at The University of Iowa, she teaches writing at Gotham Writers and at Kent State University. Laura Yeager’s work at can be found at

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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8 Reasons to Write Flash Fiction

Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Over the years, I’ve interviewed writing contest winners, including flash fiction writers. When asked what they enjoy about writing flash fiction, their love of the genre is clear—even if they also do other kinds of writing.

What’s so great about writing flash? And how could it benefit your writing life? Here’s what some of the WOW contest winners had had to say:

  • “Writing flash fiction is fun and energetic. Having a word count limit forces me to be parsimonious with my language, stripping it down to the essentials, and I enjoy the challenge of selecting the punchiest verbs and most evocative adjectives. Plus, the project is finite—it may take some time to edit, but once it's complete, I've crafted a whole world in 750 words or less. So satisfying!” -Sally Basmajian, runner up

  • To convey what you want to say in so few words really concentrates everything--language, rhythm, structure--and it also mysteriously concentrates the pleasure of the writing. This was a big surprise to me.” – Rochelle Williams, first place winner

  • “When flash works, there's no more satisfying feeling to me. It's a complete thing with few, if any, real flaws to it. A novel is a different animal. I will always find things in it that are too long or overwrought or even embarrassing. I'm talking about published work now. But with flash, I rarely find anything in it that I regret. It's so short, so succinct, that either the whole thing works or the whole thing doesn't.” – Marti Lembach, runner up.

  • “I love the condensed form. My favorite length, both to read and write, is around 500 words -- long enough to have strong character voice and a dynamic setting, but not long enough for meandering. Every word has to count. It’s like assembling a puzzle.” - Myna Chang, first place winner

  • “Besides the instant gratification of writing a shorter piece, flash is an exercise in brevity, clarity and pacing, forcing you to tell a compelling story in abbreviated form. Flash also hones your editing skills as you carve away the non-essential. I’ve whittled down longer stories and even outtakes from my novels to flash fiction.” – Patricia Donovan, first place winner

  • “I’m fairly new to flash. I started writing it very intentionally, to help me learn how to tighten up my long-form writing and practice effective storytelling. It’s been a tremendous help. With such a tight word limit, I have no choice but to say things with economy and get to the point.” -Julie Watson, runner up

  • “Although I enjoy writing all kinds of things, I’ll admit that I’m currently in an "exclusive relationship" with flash fiction. I love the brevity involved, the way a writer can say so much in such a small, compressed space. I love that moment at the end of a really good piece, when your mind is whirring, scrambling to put the pieces together, and suddenly, it’s there, that second when you hold your breath and the truth of it appears, filling the space like magic. It’s just incredibly beautiful” – Kelli Short Borges, runner up

  • “I expected the word limit to be a burden, but after doing that for a year I’ve become rather fond of it. I really enjoy the challenge of it. I think it’s helped my other writing a lot too because it’s taught me how to edit much faster, and say what I want to say in a more concise manner—as well as simply help me figure out what I truly want to say in the first place.” -Kayie Hatch, first place winner

Have you written any flash fiction? Are you ready to write some flash now? Hopefully, you’ve found some inspiration for whatever type of writing you do!

--Marcia Peterson
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Interview with Rachel O'Cleary, 2nd Place Winner in the Fall 2021 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, March 15, 2022


Rachel O'Cleary first came to writing as a six-year-old chronicler of family vacations, and has been writing in some form ever since. She studied English with a creative writing emphasis at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and now lives with her family in Ireland, squeezing her obsession for flash fiction into the spaces between school runs. She is currently planning her first novella-in-flash. You can find a list of her published work at, and she occasionally tweets @RachelOCleary1. 

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

WOW: Where did you first get the idea for this “Eleanor Undomesticated?” 

Rachel: It all started when my children actually found a fox skeleton on the side of the road. Currently, I live in the Irish countryside, so foxes are not an unusual sight, but I have been fascinated by them since I came upon some baby foxes playing in the snow in my old neighborhood in Milwaukee. There is something so wild and self-assured about them. Anyway, that fox just kept coming to my mind at odd moments over the next few weeks, so I knew I was going to end up writing about it. I am part of an online writing community, Writers’ HQ, and we do a weekly flash fiction challenge based on prompts. (It’s wonderful and totally free, so well worth checking out.) I had been mulling over the fox skeleton for a while when we got a ‘magic’ prompt, and somehow the idea came together in my mind of a woman being followed by this fox spirit. It wasn’t until I actually started writing the story that I realized that, for me, it was actually about all the ways we (as human beings, but especially as women) have been domesticated, and that the dissatisfaction we often feel with life is about not being connected to our bodies or our instincts. From there, the story nearly wrote itself. 

WOW: What a great inspiration for a story! Thank you for sharing Writers' HQ with us--I'll have to check that out. What is it you love about writing flash fiction? Is it your favorite form of creative writing? 

Rachel: I started writing flash fiction because I don’t have much time, and I thought it would be quicker and easier than longer forms. It turns out that it is not at all easier, nor is it quicker, because the editing required to compress a whole story into a tiny word count is intensive. However, it can be done in short bursts. If I have given a story a lot of thought first, I can write a first draft between one of my (four!) daily trips in and out to my children’s schools, and can also edit in several small sessions, which makes it manageable for me. The thing I really love about it, though, is the freedom you have for experimentation. Because of my participation in the weekly flash challenge at Writers HQ, I have written a different story almost every week since the beginning of the Pandemic. As a result, I have tried my hand at a lot of different forms. It would be difficult to write a whole novel in the future tense, or in second person, or in the form of a list, but all of those things are perfectly sustainable (and exciting) in a piece of flash fiction. So, yes, flash is definitely my current favorite form of writing, although I do hope to try my hand at a novel one day too, as my love of words started with books and I think it would be such an accomplishment to write one of my own. 

WOW: You are correct in that flash fiction is not an easy art form, but it sounds like you have developed a great routine for making the most out of the craft. This story is proof of that. Could you tell us a little more about the subject of your novella in flash? 

Rachel: Well, I am only in the early stages of planning my novella-in-flash, but I came into it when I realized I had already written a handful of stories following a specific family through a period of upheaval in their lives. When I gathered the pieces I already had together, I noticed that the real story was an exploration of the way women learn to show up for themselves in the world (or not) and how much a good role model can mean for that process, so I have been planning more stories to fall in with the theme and which I hope will form a more complete narrative. It’s a challenging puzzle, writing stories that are complete in themselves but still part of a larger arc, but I am enjoying the process. 

WOW: I love that idea! It's so funny how sometimes our writing can pull things out of the subconscious part of our mind, isn't it? We’d love to hear about some of these family vacations you used to love to chronicle as a child.

Rachel: My family traveled quite a bit. We went to lots of different places, sometimes just hopping in the car and driving until we came to a place that looked nice, which I think really instilled in me a sense of adventure and possibility. My favorite, though, was the trip we took every summer, to a place called Moose Lake in Minnesota. We would rent a cabin, and my grandparents and several of my aunts and uncles and cousins would stay in nearby cabins. The adults were so much more relaxed and fun on vacation, and we children were left to roam about the place. Often I would take a notebook and write down every funny thing that happened, like my cousin falling in the lake fully clothed, my uncle water-skiing past a nearby resort wearing a wrestling mask. I really wish I still had those notebooks. 

WOW: That sounds like the best kind of vacation, and it obviously created some amazing memories for you. Do you enjoy entering writing competitions regularly? How did you first learn about the ones here at WOW? 

Rachel: I do. Writing can be a solitary process, and it’s so much a matter of taste that often you don’t know if what you’re doing is any good, so it can be a real endorphin rush to learn that you’ve made a longlist, or a shortlist, or (best of all) won a prize. I limit how many I enter because the fees can really add up and it can also distract from creating new material, but I would say I enter a competition every month or so (sometimes more, if there are a few good ones on.) I can’t say for sure where I first heard about the competitions at WOW, but I interact with a lot of other writers online, and often we share ideas of competitions to enter or literary magazines to submit to, so it was probably either from somebody at Writers HQ or from another writer on Twitter. I have to say, it has been a wonderful experience, participating in this competition. I received the loveliest feedback on my story from the readers at WOW, which I have printed to keep near my writing desk whe I need encouragement.

WOW: Rachel, congratulations again and we are so happy you've had such a great experience with WOW. We look forward to reading more of your stories!
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A Few Things I've Learned This Year (So Far) About Writing

Monday, March 14, 2022
Let's put my writing in the spotlight, shall we?

A quarterly reflection is appropriate, right? Well, I've had some ups and downs with writing this year so far. While publishing fiction seems to be elusive so far, I remain hopeful it will happen soon. Especially since I'm almost to 100 rejections since my last acceptance. 

I thought I'd review a few things I've learned about writing that I've learned so far this year:

Be watchful of writing weaknesses.

Character development can be problematic for me. For others, maybe it's finishing the story at all. For others, maybe it's the revision process that gets in their way. As for mine, it's something I'm aware of as I start new stories. Since I lean more towards being a "pantser," that means my discovery of the character can happen much later. This can often mean a long revision process, which is what I struggled with recently. However, yesterday I ran into a story I had wanted to finish at the time, but it remain stalled halfway through. So, I took a new approach, which leads to my next lesson:

Be open to changing your methods.

At the start of most stories, I take my usual "pantsing" approach. For those unfamiliar with the term, that means no outlining, basically. However, with that story I found, I wanted to finish it but couldn't just meander around without knowing where I was going beforehand. It would result in more starts and stops (which I had already attempted many times with that particular story). 

So, I outlined. I couldn't believe it, but it worked. I even found a purpose for my main character that added a unique dynamic to the story. Let me tell you though, I didn't use a long outlining method but it was basically the Snowflake method. And I used the technique described over at a blog I follow called, The Write Practice.

I won't replace my pantsing approach with new stories. Yet, for the ones that are stuck halfway through, I'm  going to go back and outline like this.

Use the tools you can to improve your writing.

I've recently started using ProWritingAid to improve my writing. It's a great way of identifying grammar and spelling issues, missing words, and overly used words. It even highlights when I've started sentences the same way in a row. Most recently, it helped me revise a story left by the wayside for a while, and is now officially back in the revision process. There's a multitude of tools you can use, and I encourage you to give some a try. Many writers use Grammarly, Scrivener, or other software that helps them craft their work. 

Consider the critiques of your work.

I write for my day job, and recently was called out for "run-on sentences." It made me wonder. I'm sure in this blog post, there are several run-on sentences. Who knows. But in my stories now, I look for long sentences. I've even begun to restructure scenes with short sentences if it contains a lot of action.

Not too long ago, I got feedback on a story of mine that stung. Among other things (which I felt were said to me in a very rude way), it called me out for using the same emotional descriptive language in the same paragraph. It didn't help me I caught the same description in another book I had been reading (which wasn't very good, by the way) As a result, you'll likely never see me use "filled with the sense of dread" ever again. 

What I've discovered is that it's good to at least consider the critiques of your work. Remember, I didn't say to believe it and follow it, especially since some people are just jerks, but at least consider it. Remove yourself a little bit from the sting of the feedback. Then after weeks go by, swish the idea around in your mouth like mouthwash, then spit it out. Was there any truth to that critique? If not, move on. If so, don't dwell too long on trying to please that specific person, but focus on ways you can improve this area they've pointed out.

Well, that's it so far! Pretty good lessons, huh?

What have you learned this year about your writing?

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Interview with Marcy Dilworth, Q1 2022 CNF Contest Runner Up

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Marcy's Bio: After a lifetime of mooning about writing but working as a finance executive, Marcy Dilworth finally succumbed to her love of writing. She explores family and relationships and other mystifying topics, and particularly enjoys storytelling through a child’s perspective.

Her essays and stories have appeared in Typehouse Literary Magazine, Sledgehammer Magazine, the This is What America Looks Like anthology by the Washington Writers’ Publishing House, Janus Literary, and elsewhere. Marcy lives in Clifton, Virginia with her husband where they serve their precocious rescue pup, Kirby.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the top ten in our Q1 2022 Creative Nonfiction essay competition! What prompted you to enter the contest?

Marcy: I've been a reader of WOW contest winners for a long while, and find your choices to be great reads, so of course I've always wanted see if my work could be a part of it. And to be honest, I've got friends whose headshots line your pages, and one day I'd like to join them!

WOW: How did you approach your essay, “Orange Communion,” a lovely piece that must have been a difficult thing to write about? Did you have the orange as a starting point?

Marcy: I did, in fact, start with the orange. In a CNF class with the wonderful Caroline Bock, we were prompted to choose an object and brainstorm from there. When I chose the orange I had no recollection of any strong emotional associations. A few minutes into jotting down whatever came to mind and I was gobsmacked. The orange plunged me back into the period in which the piece is set. It was a difficult time but also a lovely one. My mom was every bit as wonderful and caring, even when faced with her dreadful diagnosis, as she appears in the essay.

WOW: What is your writing process like? Please describe a typical day.

Marcy: Oh, to have a typical day! My goal is to write for a couple hours each day, but it's amazing how many ways life encroaches on it. Over time, I've learned to take it easier on myself, writing more one day to make up for the previous one rather than beating myself up for falling short.

WOW: A good approach! Are you working on any writing projects right now? What’s next for you?

Marcy: I am indeed! I've written flash and short stories to date, and have a number of drafts to complete as well as a couple ideas I really want to explore. I also embarked on something new this year - a book. As suspected, I'm more pantser than plotter, and so far I'm enjoying the drafting. I don't know where this journey will take me, but I do know that I can't write a second or third book until I complete the first one!

WOW: Best of luck with the book and thanks so much for chatting with us today, Marcy. Before you go, can you share a favorite writing tip or piece of advice?

Marcy: My favorite writing tip is to read your essay or story aloud when you complete each draft. I always hear things I didn't see when reading, such as clunky phrases, plain old typos and, on a positive note, poetic language. My new version of Word has a Read Aloud function. I use that occasionally but find that my own voice reveals things that the robotic voice doesn't.

Thank you for having me, Marcia, and for all the great work at WOW!


For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.

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TMI? Don’t Try to Take It All In

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Recently I was talking to a brand new writer. She had joined an international writers’ organization and was struggling to remember all of the information she had received. “I feel like I’m not taking it all in!” There were several of us long-timers in the meeting and we assured her that she wasn’t going to be able to and that was okay. 

The reality is that even those of us who had been working for the organization for 20+ years remember only a portion of the information available.  Want to know about writing nonfiction? Talk to me or Chris. Picture books? Ann and Toni are the queens. 

None of us can remember everything there is to know about writing. So what do you do? 

Lately I’ve been learning about writing graphic novels. When I see a graphic novel I want to read, I request it from the library. Books on graphic novel writing? I request those too. I’m also taking part in a daily drawing challenge. 

That doesn’t mean that these are the only books I request. I do a lot of social justice reading and writing. I love sitting down to read a stack of picture books. And cozy mysteries are a guilty pleasure. But when it comes to acquiring new writing knowledge, my focus write now is on graphic novels and graphic writing. 

Other things that are interesting aren’t my current focus. How do you keep track of these things? There are several possibilities.

Maybe You Don’t 

Like I said earlier, you can’t keep track of all the writing information and that’s okay. You can just let things you don’t need right now slide. 

Library Wish List 

If you are determined to keep track of a book that will certainly be a good resource for you in the future, look it up at your library. But don’t request it or check it out. Instead add it to your wish list. 

E-mail Folder 

I also keep an e-mail folder for interesting books, etc. When I get an e-mail for a book that doesn’t slot into my current interest, I slip it into this folder. When I find a book online, a quick click captures the screen and that too goes into the folder. 

It doesn’t matter whether you write for children or adults, fiction or nonfiction, essays or devotionals. There is only so much information that you can take in at any given time. 

Focus on what you are working on. You can Google other topics later or you can turn to your wish list or that handy folder. No one but no one can stay on top of it all. 

Me? I’m focusing on graphic novels and sketching daily. So if you’ll excuse me, today’s CreativeBug drawing challenge is seed pods. 


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 April 3, 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 April 3, 2022) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins April 3, 2022). 
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