Stepping Beyond Your Mentor Text

Wednesday, November 30, 2022
I study Sharon's books
for character description.
I make no secret of my love for using mentor texts. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this term, a mentor text is a tool that writers use as a guide to make it through a project. When I write for a new publisher, a mentor text helps me get a feel for voice and what goes into chapter 1 and how to end a chapter. That’s when I write nonfiction. 

But I’ve also used mentor texts for fiction. When I work on fiction, mentor texts are how I study pacing and characterization, setting and dialogue. 

Not long ago I used one as a template for pacing a picture book manuscript. My family was driving cross country when a news story about popular children’s books came on. When the announcer started gushing about one of the titles, my husband knew he was in for a rant. It is one of those books that people love or hate, and I fit into the latter category. 

But I didn’t rant about Story X. Instead, I started noodling over how I would do it better. In just a few minutes, I knew who my characters would be, I had a rough setting, and a feel for the story problem. 
When we got home, I popped over to my library and checked Story X out as an e-book. Although I prefer print picture books, this was all I needed to check out the story’s pacing. In an hour I had roughed out my own story. 

But I also saw that the pacing didn’t quite work. I faced two choices. I could change my story to match the pacing of Story X, or I could find something that worked better for my own story. I had already created my own characters, plot, and setting. My theme was entirely different. Now I was changing the pacing as well.

That’s the key to successfully using a mentor text. You have to see what works for your story and then see what you need to change to make your story work. After all, you aren’t copying the other writer’s work. You are simply using it as a study of how a story can work. Yours is going to be different because, if you do it right, it will be 100% your own.


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 December 4, 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 December 4, 2022) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins December 4, 2022). 
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Interview with Myna Chang, First Place Winner of Summer 2022 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Myna Chang’s chapbook, The Potential of Radio and Rain, will be published by CutBank Books in 2023. Her writing has been selected for Flash Fiction America (W.W. Norton), Best Small Fictions, and CRAFT, among others. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Writings Award in Flash Fiction. She hosts the Electric Sheep speculative fiction reading series. Find her at or @MynaChang.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Summer 2022 Flash Fiction competition! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Special Recipe: Book Club Dip?” It reminds me of a hermit crab essay, but it’s fictional.

Myna: This story started in a generative hermit crab flash workshop offered by Cheryl Pappas. We talked about a variety of forms, ranging from simple lists to detailed product reviews and more. The recipe format appealed to me, probably because I enjoy reading about all the fancy foods I’ll never prepare myself. Also, I kept thinking of a silly red car parked in front of a neighbor’s house. The two ideas combined and ballooned from there.

WOW:  It's a fun and clever piece, and I love the last italicized line. Why do you write flash? What makes it different for you?

Myna: When I first started writing flash, I found 500 words to be my favorite length. The constraint forced me to make strategic choices in both the theme and specific words. After a few years of practice, I’m now flirting with 200-250 words. Can I grab a reader’s attention and present a full character arc? Can I leave them with a memorable image, a feeling of resonance? This is tough, but it’s extremely satisfying when it works. After writing flash and micro, short story writing feels almost wasteful!

WOW: What are the most common mistakes made by new writers when writing flash fiction and what advice would you offer to help overcome them?

Myna: I think it helps to look at flash as a unique type of writing. Flash isn’t simply a shorter version of a short story, it’s a completely different animal. You have to capture the reader immediately and genuinely engage with them. What does the reader bring to the story, and how will their own experiences color what they read? Flash stories often invite the reader to step into the narrative, in a sort of collaborative space, making the unsaid elements take on greater importance. A good way to see this is to read your favorite flash journals in depth. Review each story a couple of times to find the layers of meaning, study the word choices, and think about what the author doesn’t explicitly say.

WOW:  Your debut chapbook, The Potential of Radio and Rain, will be released next year. What you tell us about this project, and the process of completing it?

Myna: The Potential of Radio and Rain is a collection of 23 loosely-linked micro and flash pieces, rooted in the shortgrass prairie region of the US. Once I realized I had almost enough stories set in this landscape, I wrote a few more to fill in the gaps. Then I spent a ridiculous amount of time rearranging the pieces to best bring out the connections among them. The manuscript won CutBank’s 2022 Chapbook Contest. We’re now in the process of choosing cover art, which is very fun! We expect it to be available sometime in the first quarter of 2023.

WOW: Congratulations on your manuscript's win and the upcoming release! What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Myna: “Go ahead and end that sentence with a preposition if you want to!” — Great advice from friend and phenomenal writer Marcy Dilworth.


For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.
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A Wingman for Christmas by Barbara Barth: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, November 28, 2022
With the holiday season around the corner, a cozy Christmas read is just what we need to get into the spirit of the season! Author Barbara Barth has just released her novella A Wingman for Christmas and it's a must-read for Christmas!

First, here's a bit about her novel:

The annual Sweet Water, Georgia, Christmas parade is nearing but relationships are fractured on Wild Rose Lane. Antique dealer Cheryl Calloway's holiday spirit has tanked. It's been a horrible year with her divorce, her ex marrying younger and perkier Miriam across the street, and Mama moving into Cheryl's Victorian cottage with her Amazon parrot right before Thanksgiving. A party girl in her eighties, Mama smokes up a storm, likes her nightly vodka, has a hankering for men, and now a wingman named Nigel. If that isn't enough, the Historical Society wants Cheryl to clean up all the projects on her porch waiting to go to Spivey's Antique Mall for their Christmas Open House. Her desire to work her booth is as dead as her marriage. Miriam, President of the Historical Society, chastises her, "If it ain't pretty don't put it on the porch." Then there's Alice, her strange neighbor with the six-foot fluorescent light bulb cross nailed to the huge Magnolia tree in the middle of her rose garden. Alice watches all the neighbors too closely. Just when Cheryl thinks things can't get worse, an incident shakes her to the core, and a mystery follows revealing family secrets long forgotten. Cheryl wants to believe in miracles and love again, and Dr. James may just be the man of her dreams as he helps her and Mama sort things out.

Filled with quirky characters, mystery, family secrets, and sweet love, all set in a hot Georgia small town.

Publisher: Gilbert Street Press
ISBN-10: 0983171599
ISBN-13: 978-0983171599
Print length: 198 pages

Purchase a copy of the book on Amazon. You can also add it to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author, Barbara Barth

Barbara Barth turned to writing and adopting dogs to heal after her husband died fourteen years ago. Known as ‘Writer With Dogs’, Barth currently lives with four Chihuahuas in a charming town forty miles outside of Atlanta. She is Literary Arts Chair at a small art center where she promotes writing activities, author events, book launches, and hosts an online group Walton Writers. Inspired by the wonderful artists around her, Barth started painting and has won several awards with her whimsical art. Her books are available on Amazon. Visit her Instagram page Barbara Barth Studio. You can also check out her website.
---- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congratulations on your book A Wingman for Christmas! I have to say that I love it and already finished it! What inspired this book? 

Barbara: I started this book back in 2016 after I lost my mother. A few memories of her and her exotic pets made it into my last memoir The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. I felt magic writing about her. Every year since I pulled out my little novella and worked on it but just couldn’t get it completed for the holiday season. This year I made a vow to finish it. The story is fiction but the love between Mama and Cheryl is as real as can be. 

WOW: It really is! Their relationship felt so real to me. I'm so glad to have you back with us for another tour at WOW! It's been a few years since you last toured with us. How has everything been for you and how has writing been? 

Barbara: I think sometimes I border on crazy. Made two big moves in three years, uprooting, and selling two houses. And with my antiques, art, and dogs, it was no easy task. I live in a wonderful house in Monroe, Georgia, now (about 40 miles east of Atlanta). I’m on the Board of the Monroe-Walton Center for The Arts as their Literary Arts Chair and plan writing events. Everyone should check out their web page It is an amazing place to reach out to the local community with so many classes and programs, along with art exhibits. I am blessed to be a part of such an amazing group. My dog numbers have changed as I’ve lost several dear ones. I call myself Chihuahua Mama now as I’ve downsized to small dogs as big ones crossed the rainbow bridge. My six-pack has only four members now. But that is subject to change. And you’ll still find me as Writer With Dogs on many sites. 

WOW: I think a dog mom remains a dog mom forever! I love all the quirky characters in this book. How did manage to capture them so uniquely? 

Barbara: This sounds cliché, but the characters revealed themselves as I wrote about them. I had no idea where this story would take me. Inspired by two things, a southern phrase someone said to me some years ago, “If it ain’t pretty don’t put it on the porch” and a story about my mother and her Amazon parrot from her early days in St. Augustine. Mother’s parrot got off the balcony while mother was in her shop below her apartment. The bird was gone for several days and then reappeared strutting down Aviles Street. A grand reunion. I always loved that story. While I grew up in central Florida (and born in NY) I’m not exactly southern. But these characters came to me and we fell in love. 

WOW: What a charming story! You are quite the artist by the way! Does your artistic work inspire your writing at all? 

Barbara: Thanks for the compliment. Art has always been a passion. I used to sell Victorian and vintage art in the early days on eBay. My personal art collection is full of old oil paintings of women in the garden, holding flowers, and their pets. When I decided to paint, my subject matter was the same as the art I love. My paintings are full of whimsy, color, and are happy and fun. Sometimes I sell them but I am attached to many, especially if there is a face that I feel a kinship with. Needless to say there is never enough wall space for me. Art is stacked all around my house and I like that. A bit bohemian. I’m hoping my paintings will inspire a children’s book. I have a sweet little mouse I paint and she has a story to tell. 

WOW: I would LOVE to see you write a children's book! Why did you decide to self-publish? 

Barbara: My first experience was with a vanity press. The memoir design was lovely but I discovered a glitch. I used their free ISBN, so while the story was mine they owned the PDF. That was back in 2010 and self-publishing still had a stigma. My how times have changed. So many self-publish these days and it is a great platform to get your story out to the public. I’ve even read that The New York Times features a bestseller list for eBooks complied from sales reported by Amazon and other distributors. 

I love the control of self-publishing. I publish under my imprint Gilbert Street Press and we have a few authors under it, too. My ego would love to say a publishing house is tracking me down, but reality is I am happy doing my own thing. I do like to kid I’m not looking for a publisher, just a Hallmark movie. Nigel is ready to talk a deal. HaHa. One can always have a dream! 

WOW: That's so cool you started your own press! And you know, you never know about a publishing house trying to find you! The art on the cover was adorable! Who did the art and did you work with them on it? 

Barbara: The magic in all my books is created by my sister Pam. She formats the interiors, designs the cover art, and loads it up to Amazon and Kindle. She and I started working together with my second book. I pay her for her expertise, although I may get a tiny family discount. I want to keep it professional since she also has other clients. Her web is in the process of being redesigned but you can still visit it It is a wonderful experience to work with her. I have complete trust in her talent. 

We discuss what I want, then she knows how to make it happen. She is a perfectionist. When I tell her I like something, she’ll say it’s not quite done, and then comes up with something awesome. The first cover draft was lovely, but she wasn’t happy with it. “I haven’t caputrued Nigel’s personality.” The next thing I knew, she brought Nigel to life in full color. He steals the cover just like in the novella. Pam has spoiled me. You can bet she’s stuck with me for life! And not just as my sister.

WOW: What an amazing duo you both are together! I'm so glad that others will have the chance to read this wonderful book. Best of luck on your tour! 

---- Blog Tour Calendar

November 28th @ WOW! Women on Writing
Join us at our blog The Muffin to celebrate the launch of A Wingman for Christmas. We're interviewing the author and giving away a copy of her book to one lucky reader.

November 30th @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Join Anthony as he reviews A Wingman for Christmas. A perfect novella for the holiday season!

December 1st @ Deborah-Zenha Adams
Visit Deborah's blog where she shares a guest post by author Barbara Barth about how many editors you really need.

December 3rd @ Pages and Paws
Kristine shares her review of the charming holiday novella A Wingman for Christmas.

December 5th @ One Writer's Journey
Join Sue as she reviews A Wingman for Christmas by Barbara Barth.
December 6th @ Michelle Cornish's Blog
Join Michelle as she reviews A Wingman for Christmas. A must-read novella for the holiday season!

December 7th @ The Frugalista Mom
Rochie shares her review of A Wingman for Christmas and gives away a copy of the book to one lucky reader.

December 8th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy's blog as she features a guest post by Barbara Barth about starting a writing group.

December 9th @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra's blog for a spotlight on A Wingman for Christmas by Barbara Barth.

December 10th @ Michelle Cornish's Blog
Visit Michelle's site as she features author Barbara Barth's guest post on encouraging others to write.

December 12th @ Storeybook Review
Leslie shares her thoughts about this fun novella A Wingman for Christmas by Barbara Barth.

December 13th @ Bring on Lemons
Join Crystal as she shares this fun holiday novella A Wingman for Christmas.

December 14th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Visit Beverley's blog as she reviews A Wingman for Christmas by Barbara Barth.

December 14th @ Avonna Loves Genres
Join Avonna as she reviews A Wingman for Christmas by Barbara Barth.

December 15th @ One Writer' Journey
Visit Sue's blog where she features a guest post by Barbara Barth about finding inspiration around you.

December 15th @ Knotty Needle
Visit Judy's blog again as she shares her thoughts about Barbara Barth's fun holiday read A Wingman for Christmas.

December 16th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Join Beverley as she features a guest post by author Barbara Barth about writing fiction versus memoir.

December 18th @ Life According to Jamie
Jamie will be reviewing a fun novella for the holiday season: A Wingman for Christmas. 

December 19th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa as she interviews author Barbara Barth about her book A Wingman for Christmas.

December 20th @ Word Magic
Visit Fiona's blog as she features a guest post by Barbara Barth about researching your topic as well as your time frame.

December 21st @ World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog as she reviews A Wingman for Christmas.

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

Enter to win a copy of A Wingman for Christmas by Barbara Barth! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends December 11th at 11:59pm CT. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget the next day and follow up via email. Good luck and happy holidays! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Interview with Julie Lockhart, Q4 2022 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest Runner Up

Sunday, November 27, 2022
Julie Lockhart spent most of her career in academics, publishing extensively in peer-reviewed journals, such as Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation, and Advances in Accounting Education. During the last years of her career, she led a grief support nonprofit, where she discovered the beauty and depth of personal stories, sharing her own experience as well as that of others to help grieving people feel less alone. Her essays have appeared in the Medford Mail Tribune, Ashland Daily Tidings, Women on Writing and the Journal of Wild Culture. Julie’s website is: www.julietales.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Q3 2022 Creative Nonfiction essay competition! What inspired you to write your essay, “Lego Girl?”

Julie: Thank you for these questions! Lego Girl came out of a writing class with Chelsey Clammer. She had an assignment choice to write about a special toy from childhood while weaving in some research. I pretty quickly came up with Legos since they enhanced my creativity as a child and occupied me for hours. When I write about the challenges I’ve faced in my life, I also strive to show how I’ve moved through them so the reader may be inspired to grow through their own stuck places. Lego Girl evolved into such an essay.

WOW:  That's great, and we love to hear of your successful experience with  Chelsey's class. How did your essay develop, both in your initial thinking about it and in the revision process?

Julie: Sometimes I know my story line right away, but for this one I had to work it out as I went along. The assignment required taking a different look at how to tell my story. I started out with researching some of the basic facts about Legos as I told the story of building Lego mansions as a kid. The writing then reminded me that my messiness around Legos followed me into adult life, which brought me to the relationship with my first husband where my messiness triggered his anger. I started to see how Legos could become a metaphor for the mold my parents and other relationships tried to put me in. I know I’m not alone in the challenge of breaking molds to become who we are, especially for women. Next, I looked to the research to see what benefits Legos have for Attention Deficit Disorder, which I was happy to find. I hoped to take the reader through my own understanding that ADD was actually a good thing; the way my brain works, once I was able to understand it, has allowed me to have a very successful career. Intuitively, I chose to write the essay in third person. This is the first time I’ve done this, and I really like how it came out. As I edited the piece, I worked to weave appropriate metaphors of Legos into the essay, such as “hard plastic hurts,” and “…they broke the mold…” I also found the writing process to be cathartic – where I came from, and where I am now. I didn’t know how I would construct the essay until I did; the different aspects of the essay and the ending surprised me, which is fun!

WOW: Thank you for sharing your essay writing process. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Julie: I’m often in the middle of several books at the same time, part of my ADD nature. Priest Daddy, by Patricia Lockwood, is a wonderful memoir that I recommend. I am also reading a lot of literary magazines online to get a feel for where my essays might be accepted. I have a lot of unpublished pieces, and a “stack” of rejection letters (part of the process), although I’ve had some recent successes. This comes from studying these magazines and persistence in continuing to submit!

WOW: Are you working on any fun writing projects? What’s next for you?

Julie: It’s all fun, especially since I’m retired and looking back at my life from a place of peace and contentedness. I’ve been focusing on learning and experimenting with the different forms of writing personal essays, such as collage and braiding. I recently revised a personal story by braiding in another story from my childhood. I watched the piece magically transform from a good story to one with so much more depth. And then there’s my memoir. I want to get back to it as winter sets in, but I’ve been having so much fun writing short essays where my ADD brain loves that the finish line is in sight. I’m starting to look at classes on writing a memoir so that I get an outside push to finish it!

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Julie. Before you go, can you share a favorite tip or piece of advice related to creative nonfiction writing?

Julie: The best thing I’ve done for myself is to loosen up my writing and experiment with different forms of constructing essays. My professional career started in academics (accounting) where I stuck with all the rigid writing rules I learned in school. Creative nonfiction writing has given me the opportunity to explore and break out of rigid molds. I encourage it for everyone!


For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.
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If Twitter Goes, Where Will Writers Convene?

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

In case you missed it, Twitter has had a hectic couple of weeks (or months, really). From Elon Musk's takeover to the layoffs and departure of many of its core employees to rumors of the platform's eventual demise, it begs the question: what will happen when Twitter is gone?

Personally speaking, I use Twitter far more passively than I ever did in the past. There once was a time I was so active on the site, I considered myself an expert on building a community there, but with minimal effort. Now, I use the site to keep track of breaking news and apply for writing jobs. 

But even that limited use of the social media platform will be difficult to replace elsewhere. I don't find many editors on other sites asking for people to DM them to apply for jobs like I do on Twitter. Breaking news is hard to find on Facebook (stupid algorithm). 

I've seen people talk about Tribel, Tumblr, and the more mysterious, Mastodon. All of which I'm on, by the way. Just look for @BeingTheWriter on any of those three sites. But in less than 5 minutes of using those platforms, I realize they don't capture the same community feeling as Twitter.  

Then there's talk of people starting a Substack which reminds me of the burgeoning blogger days of yore. Even then, there are only so many newsletters I can follow before I mindlessly hit the delete button and never read them. 

And then there's the final factor that has made all of this more difficult as I think of Twitter's demise: me. I find it hard to imagine rebuilding a new community on a new social media site. The battle of thinking of something clever (or informative or helpful) to say, finding followers that are willing to follow me back, and being consistently active feels overwhelming to me.

So, much like the musicians on the Titanic (which people who remain on Twitter have been compared to, strangely enough), on Twitter, I will quietly remain. Although not so much making music on the site as I am sitting on a deck chair watching the players play. 

Where will you convene if Twitter does, in fact, fall by the wayside?

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My 2022 NaNoWriMo Style

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Post-it note revision wall

I signed up for this year’s NaNoWriMo on the official website, although I knew going in this year would be different. Last year, I completed 60,000 words of a new suspense/thriller novel. It was the first time I had a general outline going in and focusing on the story beats was helpful throughout the process. I still need to revise that novel . . . but that’s on my calendar for next spring. 

This year I decided to focus on revising my young adult novel that is scheduled for publication early next year. I knew there would be some additional scenes added in, so I estimated writing 15,000 more words throughout the month of November. It’s currently November 22 and I’ve written approximately 1,000 words. But wait . . . it’s not as bad as it sounds, I hope! 

First, I wrote a new scene. I still don’t know where in the overall manuscript this new chapter will end up, but it introduces a new main thread into the book that I believe will add some depth to the topic of sexual abuse. After I wrote that scene, I started going through the manuscript, page by page. I’m using a Post-it note to document what each chapter features, usually in one sentence. I’m also using a separate stack of Post-it notes to write page numbers where I plan to either write new scenes or expand on current ones. I wrote the first draft of this book so long ago that a lot of ways teenagers communicate has changed—so I need to modernize the content in places. My book is a ghost story so I’ve been exploring “rules” that need to be in place. Can the ghosts touch physical objects? If they do, do they have to teach themselves how to do that? How many times will “the light” come for them before they remain Earth bound? I should be done with this overall exercise this week, and then I plan to start writing the new scenes. 

I’m not sure if I will end up having 15,000 new words by the time I’m done. And that’s okay. The manuscript currently has 56,000 words, and I think that’s a great base. In years’ past, I’ve pounded out manuscripts during NaNoWriMo with no structure or outline and those are all still on my hard drive, in dire need of revision. I won’t lie and say the fact that I’m not cranking out a ton of words each day isn’t giving me anxiety, but I think this is a more focused and productive approach for my manuscript’s current needs. 

I found an article on NaNoWriMo’s blog where the author suggested a few big questions a write should ask during the revision process, including:  

  • Is there enough at stake? (A novel should be about a character’s fight with some form of death—physical, professional, or psychological). 
  • Do the characters act like real people would in a similar situation? 
  • Are there parts where a busy editor or reader would be tempted to put the book down?
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How is it going for you?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and true crime podcaster who has completed NaNoWriMo four different times. Maybe the fifth time will be the charm!

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Rebirth by Kate Brenton: Blog Tour & Giveaway

Monday, November 21, 2022
Rebirth by Kate Brenton
I'm excited to announce our upcoming blog tour for Rebirth by Kate Brenton. She's one of the instructors for the Sit & Write course we shared with you a couple of months ago, and her book shares real life stories about what happens when you let go and let life lead. This book is perfect for someone who needs a little support in listening to their true voice and remembering what is possible when they have the courage to surrender. 

Join us as we interview Kate Brenton about her book, share more details about her inspiring book, and give away a copy to one lucky reader.

First, here's a bit about her book:

When life is calling, often we need only the space and the support to remember our way. Sometimes we lean into our expansion, and sometimes we bolt from our greatness. The biggest shock is that big change happens in small choices. In Rebirth you will find real-life stories of people who made courageous leaps, inspiring you to make your own. It’s time to step out of line and back into the spiral of life—that’s where the alchemy is. This book fits right into the side pocket of your bag + your life to inspire you as you read others’ stories of how they listened and learned to make embodied changes in their own lives.

Publisher: Inspirebytes Omni Media (September 2022)
ISBN-10: 1953445261
ISBN-13: 978-1953445261
Print length: 160 pages

Purchase a copy of Rebirth on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author, Kate Brenton

Kate Brenton
Kate Brenton, Ed.M., educator, author, mama, and healer, used to climb trees in her childhood to sit in and read books. A lifelong teacher, from secondary English to spiritual development, Kate has the archetype for sharing wisdom to empower and elevate through online courses, inspirational speaking, and retreats. Come say hello or listen to the Rebirth podcast at

You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Substack.

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First off, congratulations about your book! I have found it to be so inspiring. With this book being originally a podcast, what inspired you to start the podcast? And what eventually led to you writing this book? 

Kate: The 95 Interstate, on the outer rim of Philadelphia, can be a quagmire of traffic. When I was approached by a friend and manifestation coach, Joe Longo, about creating a podcast—I created an image of a woman, stuck in her car, and in her life and uncertain what to do. I wanted her to hear the Rebirth podcast, and gain either hope or an idea on how to create one small, positive action. I wanted the podcast to be both resourceful and inspirational. Somewhere in the second year of the podcast, the Founder of Inspirebytes Omni Media, reached out to me with a book contract, for a book that is still unwritten. A few months later, when I hosted my publisher on the podcast, I said nothing about my writer’s block; she called me the next day and said, “The podcast is the book.” I felt the rightness of that, and Rebirth the book was born. 

WOW: How amazing! Those five words made all the difference. I love all the courageous leaps that happen in this book. How did you meet or find the people you end up interviewing on your podcast and for your book? 

Kate: The people in the book were all first on the Rebirth podcast, either colleagues I knew or people that I cross-paths with and invited on to speak. The focus of the show was to talk to women about the intuitive moments of listening to themselves, against all odds, and in phases of great change. When it came time to turn the podcast into a book, I thought about the journey arc of the book and selected from three seasons of podcasts for interviews that would hit different tones and messages. So even though the book is a collection of stories—you can pop it open anywhere to read—it also has a coherent theme that runs through about how to surrender to the life that is calling you. I wanted to show that no matter how different the journeys from yoga to publishing, from skincare to Waldorf education, we can find the commonality and the inspiration from others and within to strive and surrender to life’s magic. That is the power of story. 

WOW: You are very right! I felt that there was a synergy within the book, even though they were separate stories. What was your revision process like? 

Kate: The revision process taught me a few things. First, with every iteration of the book, I uncovered something within myself, at least as a first-time author. A place that I didn’t see in structure or writing (because I was literally too close) or a gap that I missed because I was emotionally too far, revealed itself with each revision. It was fascinating to witness. Also, having an intention, a good set of beta readers, and thorough copy editors are all crucial to ensuring that what you intend to create is indeed transmitted through words and structure. You might spend more time pinpointing one word choice than you ever have, and it's amazing to create something that will live on in the hands of others.

WOW: It is definitely a learning process to write a book that teaches you a lot about yourself. What do you hope readers take away from reading this book? 

Kate: That life is an up-and-down ride for everyone—even though sometimes we can feel that life is only happening in a hard way to us. In a world that focuses on appearances, it is how your life is sitting within you that makes all the difference. I think the power of story, both struggle and triumph, can do a lot to grow fortitude and bring us back to ourselves. I wrote this book to be a friend to the reader. 

WOW: I completely agree! How did the lessons you gained from your podcast and book weave into the class you have started? 

Sit & Write Master Writing Course
 Thank you for this question because Sit & Write has been an amazing birth. This is a class for mission-led writers, addressing the spiritual and analytical sides of writing. Becoming an author really honed my gifts of supporting other writers. First, everything I mentioned above about climbing out of iterations of yourself, as well as doing the work to let your true voice come out, are the foundations of this class. Writing a book is a large and amazing undertaking and the fortitude to finish comes from being aligned with your voice and your intention for writing, whether that is a fiction piece, a memoir, or a cookbook. 

A book is created from nothing into something because of you, and Sit & Write is a space for that certainty to root. Now, once you have the thing you want to say, you need to find a way to let the world find your book, easily. That’s where my co-teacher Claudine Wolk comes in. She is doing for our students what she did for me: demystifying book marketing and teaching practical and personalized avenues for any writer’s budget to get your book Seen & Sold (which is her next book). Writing is so personal that you need a community; I had one and leaned on them heavily, as well as my own intuition, which helped my book land in #1 for New Thought on launch day, but that’s a story for another time. We are taking all those pieces and sharing it with other writers to help them get their books into the hands that need them. 

WOW: I love you are giving that community to writers. What advice do you have for writers (and other creatives) who feel like they are getting in their own way in terms of their success? 

Kate: Expect this to happen; it’s a part of your growth process. All creative processes expand and contract. What we need is a structure or practice to keep going and not get stuck in one phase. Same in the seasonal phases of nature; we are not always producing, and sometimes we are bursting through the shell in the dark.

Let’s talk about the craft of writing, as an example of this expansion and contraction. There are times that you write, and there are non-writing times. Even when you are on a deadline, don’t force. Put down the pen, go for a walk, read another book, let the space around you organize your thoughts and allow new inspiration to come through. If you give it the space, and you are committed, it always comes through. I should also mention, pay attention to your patterns. If you are prone to forcing, relax. If you are prone to avoiding the page, sit & write. It’s a process at times, but perhaps you are being grown to evolve into the writer you were meant to be.

WOW: That is so inspiring! Thank you so much for joining us today! Best of luck with your book, podcast, and class.

Rebirth by Kate Brenton Blog Tour

--- Blog Tour Calendar

November 21st @ The Muffin
Join as WOW's blog The Muffin as we interview author Kate Brenton about her inspiring book Rebirth and give away a copy to one lucky reader.

November 21st @ Rachael's Thoughts
Join Rachael as she reviews Rebirth by Kate Brenton

November 24th @ Deborah-Zenha Adams' Blog
Join Deborah as she features a guest post by Kate Brenton about writing where and when you can.

November 25th @ Freeing the Butterly
Join Michelle as she reviews Rebirth by Kate Brenton.

November 27th @ Shoe's Seeds and Stories
Visit Linda's blog where she reviews the insightful book Rebirth by Kate Brenton.

November 29th @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Join Lisa as she interviews Kate Brenton about her inspirational book Rebirth.

November 30th @ Author Anthony Avina's Blog
Join Anthony as he reviews Kate Brenton's book Rebirth.

December 1st @ Michelle Cornish's Blog
Read Kate Brenton's guest post about story as medicine over at Michelle's blog.

December 2nd @ The Frugalista Mom
Join Rochie as she shares her thoughts about Rebirth by Kate Brenton. You can also win a copy of the book!

December 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Join Beverley as features Kate Brenton's guest post about writers needing a high inspiration diet.

December 5th @ Balance and Joy
Join Sheri as she reviews Rebirth by Kate Brenton.

December 6th @ Anthony Avina's Blog
Join Anthony as he features Kate Brenton's guest post about why what you love will get you through.

December 7th @ Katherine Itacy's Blog
Come by Katherine's blog and read her review of Rebirth by Kate Brenton.

December 8th @ Beverley A. Baird's Blog
Join Beverley as she reviews Rebirth by Kate Brenton.

December 9th @ Rebecca J Whitman's Blog
Join Rebecca as she features Kate Brenton's guest post about when to keep going on faith.

December 10th @ A Story Book World
Deirdra showcases Rebirth by Kate Brenton, a must-read book for the new year!

December 13th @ Word Magic
Visit Fiona's blog and read Kate Brenton's guest post about the evolution of podcast to book and how it was a walk of faith.

December 15th @ Create Write Now
Read a guest post by Kate Brenton on Mari's blog today about the power of birth as a mother and as a creative.

December 17th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion
Linda interviews author Kate Brenton about her writing and her inspirational book Rebirth.

December 18th @ Choices
Visit Madeline's blog and read Kate Brenton's guest post about mothering, writing, and working in the modern world.

December 19th @ Liberate and Lather
Join Angela as she reviews Rebirth by Kate Brenton. Don't miss this inspirational book!

December 20th @ World of My Imagination
Visit Nicole's blog to read her review of Rebirth by Kate Brenton.

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

Enter to win a copy of Rebirth by Kate Brenton by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends December 4th 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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Interview with Penelope Richards - Runner Up in the Quarter 4 2022 WOW! Essay Contest

Sunday, November 20, 2022
Congratulations to all the contestants and winners in the Quarter 4 2022 WOW! Essay  Contest! If you haven't already checked out the impressive list of authors, please head to the WOW! Blog and do so! And now, without further ado - I'd love to tell you more about Penelope Richards!

In 2021, Penelope Richards graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders. Though speech therapy is fulfilling in it’s own way, Penelope’s true passion is the Arts. Almost immediately after graduation, she decided to return to school to pursue her dream of being an actor. She is currently enrolled in KD Conservatory in Dallas, Texas. When not on the stage, at work, or at her desk writing, she loves reading and shopping. Penelope’s work has appeared in 
WOW-Women on WritingInscape Journal, and Wingless Dreamer. Penelope is currently working on a collection of essays about womanhood and feminism. You can find Penelope on Instagram as @Penelope_Richards_Actor.

If you haven't done so already, check out Penelope's essay "Prey" and then return here for a chat with this talented author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Q4 2022 Creative Nonfiction Contest! I know all the emotions I felt after reading your submission, but what is the take-away you’d like readers to gain from Prey?

Penelope: There are two big take-aways from Prey. First, be careful who you trust. Examine your relationships. Take an objective look at the people in your inner circle. Try to see them without the rose-colored glasses of affection or idealization. Second, be the best ally you can be.


WOW: That's fantastic advice, though incredibly difficult. Thank you for your perspective. What advice would you give to others (specifically female authors) when it comes to self-care?

Penelope: Self-care is not a luxury. Nor is it something you finally earn after killing yourself staying busy for weeks and weeks. Self-care is a necessity, and it takes many forms. Sometimes self-care is the stereotypical bubble bath and facial. Other times it’s quitting your job, going to therapy, or letting yourself be unproductive on a regular basis. I struggle a lot with that last one. If I’m not doing something lucrative with every spare minute of my time, an angry voice inside my brain shouts WORTHLESS! WORTHLESS! YOU ARE WORTHLESS! As hard as it is for me to accept, self-care is acknowledging that my worth doesn’t get lower when I make less money.

Many women struggle with self-care. We, more than any other demographic, are taught to take care of everybody else first and by all means necessary, including by grinding nonstop.

This is propaganda.

The glorification of our suffering is meant to keep us from taking back the power that we deserve. That makes acts of self-care a kind of rebellion. Not just a necessity, but a duty. So, relish in it. Relish in all forms of self-care. For your sake and for women everywhere, take back your life, and make it for you.


WOW: I needed to hear that - I promise I'll take my duty more seriously (or I'll at the very least try). You have an impressive bio- what can you tell us about what inspires you and keeps you so motivated?

PenelopeI like to imagine the ghosts of famous women throughout history cheering me on. Usually it’s Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Sometimes I picture all three of them in my writing space, reading over my shoulder. Other times they are squished together in the backseat of my car during my long morning commute. It’s kind of a weird trick, but it works. Whenever I face an obstacle, I try to imagine what they would tell me to do. More often than not, it gives me clarity.


WOW: Speaking of some of these actresses - let's find out: Who is your favorite author and why?

PenelopeAt the moment, I’m obsessed with Riley Sager. His mystery novels are atmospheric and gripping. I’m not the kind of person who sees a picture in their head as they are reading. I usually just see the words. But when I read his novels, I see the words alongside colors and textures. Survive the Night was midnight blue and cashmere. The Last Time I Lied was hunter green and glassy.

WOW: Thank you so much for your submission, your time, sharing your talents, and for all your insight and wisdom - it truly has been my pleasure. 


 Interviewed by Crystal Otto who just keeps on keeping on!

Check out the latest Contests:
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Hating Confrontation

Thursday, November 17, 2022

I hate confrontation when it’s writing-related business. 

In fact, I’m stalling right now and it’s not even a face-to-face situation. It’s an email. But I’m agonizing over this email—and I’m annoyed at how much time this problem has ended up costing me in both hours away from other work and the space it’s taking up in my psyche. 

Years ago, I walked by our home office and Mister Man was on the phone to an associate. He was, as we say in the rural South, “giving him up the country.” In other words, he was speaking harshly to this gentleman. When I passed by ten minutes later, Mister Man was cheerily working away, not a sign of distress. I was amazed. 

 “How,” I asked, “can you sit there so calmly after all that fussing? That poor guy! I’d be a wreck if someone lit into me like that!” 

My husband smiled. “He’s fine,” he said. “It wasn’t personal, Cathy. It was business.” 

And that, friends, in a nutshell, is why confrontation is so hard for me, at least when it comes to my professional writing side: I can’t help making it a whole personal thing. And I wonder if this is just me or if other writers struggle with this problem as well. 

Mostly, I wonder if it’s something inherent in a business like writing (or perhaps anything in the humanities). There are measurable elements to a writing business but there are just as many aspects that can’t be defined. Imagine something as simple as accurately calculating the hours put in to writing, say, a column: 

Coming up with the idea: 13 hours
 *Includes the moment when I first thought up the idea and the eight hours or so I slept on it and the four more hours when I was running errands and thought up supporting ideas.) 

Writing the column: 4 hours**
 ** Includes when I first started writing and didn’t finish because I had to take a call and then came back and had to remember what I was writing about and then needed to eat lunch because who can think when they’re hungry and finally came back and finished writing the column. And then re-read it and realized the beginning had nothing to do with the ending and revised. 

Of course, sometimes an idea comes to me in a flash and within an hour or two, I’ve finished it. But when I send the invoice, I bill for an agreed upon fee whether I’ve spent an hour or three days. That’s fair, of course, but then how does one ask for a raise? I may feel that my work has more value (based on time involved and skill level) but confronting my employer (likely another professional writer/editor who, let’s face it, is in the same boat) feels a bit…pretentious. Am I worth more money? Am I that accomplished as a writer? Who do I think I am, the reincarnation of Erma Bombeck? Do people buy the magazine just to read ME?

 See? That feels a lot personal. Not so much business-y. 

Conversely, and what I’m dealing with presently, is confronting professionals in the publishing business who, in my opinion, are doing a less-than-stellar job after quite a few back-and-forth emails explaining what I need. Communications, I might add, that I have labored over in order to be as clear as possible. But—and here is where it gets personal—is it my lack in communicating or that I don’t understand the skills involved? I mean, is it really a badly done project or just me, the suddenly highfalutin art critic? I don’t want hurt feelings, but I also don’t want an expensive, crummy cover. It’s so hard to quantify writing and/or design when you are paying for…well, evoking feelings

So I am stuck in this space of confrontation related to my writing business that feels way too personal. What I wouldn’t give for Mister Man’s fast and pragmatic handling of the situation. But if anyone in the land of the living has thoughts, I still have a few hours of stalling left.

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WOW! Writers Using Their Powers for Good

Tuesday, November 15, 2022


Last week, Nicole posted and encouraged us to nominate WOW! for Writer’s Digests 101 Best Websites for Writers. I immediately clicked through and filled out the nomination. 

Then I went to a Zoom meeting for another writing organization. When I left, I was shaking.  I’m not going to go into the details but suffice it to say that the negative energy was palpable. I wished that I hadn’t already nominated WOW! for the Writer’s Digest award because now I had so much more to say about what a great place this is. 

If you are new to WOW! Women on Writing, you may not be familiar with everything the community has to offer. And first thing, realize that this is a community. We write a wide variety of things, we publish traditionally and independently, and live scattered across the globe. And yet we are a community of writers working together to strengthen each other’s work.  Here are some of the ways that we do this.


If you’re reading this, you’ve discovered the Muffin, the community blog. Come back several times a week and read the posts and you’ll discover just how varied this community is. We are essayists, children’s book writers, magazine journalists, poets, and more. Because of this, the information is wide ranging.  You'll find yourself challenged to learn more and try new things.


WOW! sponsors quarterly contests in flash fiction and creative essays. A variable entry fee allows participants to enter the contest or enter and receive a critique. Contest winners are interviewed on the blog. These interviews are a great way to find out what inspires other writers as well as how they hone their work. Many give tips on how to know if your work is ready for competition. 


I’ve taken WOW! classes on school visits with Margo Dill, on narrative structure with Madeline Dyer, and on writing graphic novels with Melanie Faith. You will find classes on writing, rewriting, and marketing your work. There are classes on platform and on research. That last one, the class on research, is mine and you can find out about it here

If you want access to actionable information and feedback on your work and ideas, pick out a class. Tell me which one you’ve chosen because I’m having troubles picking out my next one!  


With so much going on in one community, it can be hard to keep track of it all. It helps if you visit often and subscribe to the newsletters. Click on this link and fill out the form. Me? I checked it all! As I attempt to tell you which is my favorite, I waffle. Every newsletter about classes tempts me to sign up for something new. Markets newsletters send me to my files, looking for pieces that will allow me to take advantage of the many publishing opportunities WOW! has helped prepare me to try.

I can’t say enough positive things about this community. Thank you to Angela and to my fellow bloggers and instructors. Thank you to all my fellow writers who make this the place that it is. Where many corners of the internet are filled with negative energy and toxic tongues, WOW! is a community of writers who excel at using their powers for good. 


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 December 4, 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 December 4, 2022) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins December 4, 2022). 
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